Saturday, August 19, 2017

A birthday poem

She's 71 today
My best friend from high school
We still share
a love of reading
a love of cats

In those early years
we shared hours on the phone
Talking about
the everything and nothing of life

Long letters in college
briefly roommates in the City
then a triangle
not what you think
two women/one man yes
but I wasn't in it
Still I had to choose
and I didn't choose her

Three decades to reconciliation
Both glad to reconnect
Birthday dinners, occasional lunches
At the last one
she revealed her diagnosis
brain plaques
a memory that isn't processing
the everything and nothing of life

She was cheerful in the telling
She's always been cheerful
I hugged her
Everything and nothing to say

We count on those
we've known the longest
to hold their memories of us
and then that too passes
into the everything and nothing of life

Monday, August 14, 2017

A lovely book

I don't review books on this blog very often. I could. I read a ton of them and many good ones. But I used to be a professor of literature and book reviews seem like work to me. Not so Brian Doyle's 2016 novel Chicago. Doyle is a writer of lovely, gentle stories that contain a magical element. In this book, it's a wise dog named Edward who is as human as any of the other characters. It's been a wonderful summer read.

Here's a little taste:

"You never see a statue of the man who invented pants, for example, whereas there are endless statues of men brandishing swords and rifles and pistols, as if brandishing implements by which we steal the life from fellow holy beings is an admirable thing, more laudable than the genius of pants. By rights, there ought to be a statue in every self-respecting sensible city of a man brandishing pants, or a frying pan, or a beer mug, to celebrate inventions that clearly and inarguably made life better."

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Summer cabin fever

My relationship with the out of doors has always been one of semi-ambivalence. I love a beautiful day as much as the next person, and you may not find anyone who loves big trees and flowers more than I do. But I'm not someone who wants to be outside in all weathers. I was surely born with the comfort gene as opposed to the adventure gene, and I am also a body sensitive so extremes are misery for me.

Last winter, during our big snow, I missed getting out and doing my regular routines but it was clear and sunny and the quiet hum of the heater was a welcome thing. And with my yaktrax on my boots, I could walk each day in comfort. I was a bit lonely after a few days but I was okay.

In the high heat of the past few days, I've been experiencing  a different kind of summer cabin fever. This summer shut-in feeling is quite different. All the curtains drawn against the heat. The noise of two Vornado fans in the living room and portable ACs in the bedroom and studio. The outside sunny and green and uninhabitable. My walk at 6:30 a.m. already too warm and I'm sluggish after a few blocks. The tinge of queasiness from my body struggling in the heat. The loneliness of long days and evenings mostly by myself.

It's curious how I don't get lonely when I spend a day by myself if getting out is an option and how lonely I can get when it isn't. Of course, I could drive in this heat but being in the car, contributing to further toxic air pollution, dealing with heat-cranky drivers? No thanks. I'll take cabin fever instead.  

Friday, August 4, 2017

Amazon Prime is not the addict's friend

In the sweet little movie Mumford, the main character pretends to be a psychiatrist and treats patients in a small American town. One of his patients is an affluent woman whose addiction is catalog shopping. A whole large room in her McMansion is filled with unopened boxes from Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, you get the picture. She doesn't care about the stuff itself; it's the acquisition that does something for her.

I'm not that far gone. I don't buy stuff I can't use, stuff on a whim, stuff because it's on sale, stuff that I might need in the mythical someday. But if I need something, I got straight to Amazon Prime. No delayed gratification for this girl. And as a recovering food addict, delayed gratification is a muscle I need to build.

I know that awareness is the first step. I'm aware. Now to step into non-action.