Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snow days now, then, and before.

The blizzard of '15 sounds like a Victorian short story, hand-printed on some antique magazine, full of words that common folk couldn't pronounce, yet strangely fixated on the lives of those same commoners.

There are eight inches of snow on the ground. The blizzard, like the city, is not really much to write home about, after the hype dies down and we see it for what it is. But I am grateful for the odd quiet over Brooklyn. The only sound punctuating this blanketed silence is that of a man shoveling snow. He is doing this as the snow falls, scraping every thirty minutes, in Sisyphean repetition.

I resent him for the shoveling, the reminder that underneath my feet is not grass but concrete and asphalt. The soft snowy down underfoot helps me forget.

Snow days (most days) remind me of my father. For once, these memories make me smile rather than lay back down and sigh and try to get up once the feeling has subsided. He loved any excuse to eschew his hour long drive to Virginia, any excuse to get out the sleds and nearly concuss us all by group sledding into the woods by our house. A few times, the Appalachian Mountains  that stood guard over valley where we lived would let a little extra snow pass through, allowing for snow forts and full weeks without school. One of my earliest memories is  that of a blizzard of  a foot of snow or more. Dad had to pick me up and carry me to an igloo he built with my older sisters. When I walked, the snow buckled my knees and made  me fall. Everyone laughed, but I remember the snow burning my cheeks and nose and turning the inside of my mouth cold.

 Snow ice cream--maple syrup drizzled over the cleanest snow we could find--was always an appetizer for midday pancakes or oatmeal cookies. Long days spent reading books from start to finish, because we didn't really have a TV. Perhaps these memories make me smile because they feel as long ago as Laura Ingalls Wilder tales, a family homesteading in the great wilderness. In my childhood memories, it is always Fall in Shepherdstown , Winter at the Lloyd house, Spring in my grandparents' backyard, and Summer at Camp Frame. A constant cycle of moments that weave together a tale I did not realize was ending until it was long gone.

I can recall the first and last time my father and I paddled the Potomac in our canoe; The first snowfall in my mind has his grey-brown hat bobbing up and down the driveway just as it did this time last year, when I was home and lost and trying not to be afraid of adult life. I cannot remember the first time we played music together, but those songs weave through every memory, a soundtrack to our time together I am a child, I'll last a while, you can't conceive of the pleasure in my smile--you hold my hand, rough up my hair, it's lots of fun to have you there.

The memories, like smoke, are visible but neither tangible or traversable.
I can stare into the fire,  make them known on paper, or stuff them down into a drawer until one day, I finally clean it all out, and it ignites sparks of sadness and reminiscence all at once.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A note to my father, on the occasion of his Birthday.

trying to play my dad's song about the moon that he so meticulously taught me during our last meeting. The chords are simple but are tripping me up. The story I know. The melody I have inhaled and exhaled every day since that last day, when he bent his poor body over his Taylor for one last jam session, to make sure that I knew those words and chords. Someday I'll be ready to play it, because I think that was his intention, for it to continue to be played. He was, i think, passing it down in a sense. An honor I only slightly deserve by virtue of my acoustic preferences.

 Today I cannot get through it. Yesterday I could not finish. Tomorrow will likely be the same. But in that moment, not quite three months ago, he knew that a time would come when my tears would dry and my whole body would not shake at the thought of his absence, and I would be ready to remind everyone that Greg Lloyd wrote a song. A pretty damn good song.

And so I keep practicing, Dad. Because despite the fact that this feels like an endless pit into nothingness and more sadness and a life that is just empty, empty empty---you seemed to believe otherwise. Even in your last days--you seemed to know that we would all wake up one day with light hearts and eyes not so red and puffy from tears, and we might want to hear that song you used to play so often in our living room, sweat wicked away by old bandanas, yellow light twinkling off of your eyeglasses, dancing along to the rhythm. Somehow, you knew that it would one day bring me joy, instead of this keening sadness. Despite the wretched illness, despite the sorrow creeping into my throat even then, as I saw you so sick, and realized that it might be the last time-- those months not so long ago.

And so I'll keep playing. Just so I don't forget  when the time comes. For once, you were right.

Monday, January 12, 2015

When I'm Fat.

I want you to track all of my movements in the same way that you read my e-mails, my tweets, my LinkedIn account.

I want you to record it all.
"January 5th. Half Mile. Lost car somewhere on Flatbush. 45 calories."
"January 6th, 90 minutes Bikram yoga.  Misguided New Years' Resolution. 300 calories." 
"January 4th, 10 minutes, rigorous sexual activity, interrupted by dog barging in and pissing on the duvet. 76 calories." 

I want it on a public file somewhere, so when I am over 30  years old and 15 pounds overweight, people will see that I do a moderate amount of exercise. This includes (but is not limited to) the  occasional bike-to-work day.  On further inspection, they can see that I eat (and cook) fresh vegetables, although my one weakness is pizza.

This information will flash across the screens of passing strangers'  Google Glasses (or whatever screen-stalking technology is currently en vogue), so that judgement can be reserved for the more lethargic fatty a few blocks over.

That way people will know that, despite being overweight, I am a functional human. There is substance beneath the rolls and cellulite.

I want "she's okay, considering everything",
to roll across the screen every time I turn a corner and run into a stranger while my thighs rub Indian burns onto one another, and my ass cheeks sweat Rorschach prints into my fruit-of-the-loom panties.

I will have a fully functional online body-profile. Not only will you see the stats, but while you are staring with disgust at my swollen ankle, there will be a recording of my voice, repeating:

I  eat grass fed beef, goddammit. I buy quinoa instead of pasta, despite possible economic consequences for Peruvian farming communities. My eggs are cooked in coconut oil.

It is time to let the world know, as they tap on their their illuminated screens, attempting to make me shame-famous on their twitter account: I have done my part in eliminating global unsightliness. My failings are less willpower, and more genetic. I have resolved to marry a skinny man. I am doing my part.
 For the most part,I try to be a happy, healthy member of society.

Otherwise, how would they know?

Friday, January 9, 2015

free form.

All I have is empty.

The space next to my bed, the places in my head that used to usher me onward and forward. The impetus to care. The persistence of self-worth. Despite the $2 gallons of gas, less expensive than the organic milk that we buy, I am

running on empty.

I have a new pack of strings. I can't unstring it. I think he played these strings, these strings have skin cells still clinging to their metal casings, so that every time I press them it is like we are holding hands.

But it isn't, really. I don't have the energy.

I am supposed to miss you, a series of yous but like the first CD I bought when I was eleven, the missing is worn down after being played over and over and over and...

yet i can still feel it. I know all of the words, the beats and tones and timbres of the feeling. I have sung along so many times that the ghost of the emotion is with me.

Sometimes, I wonder if the friends I thought I had but never call don't do so because I am such an unconscious downer. Then, I feel better that they do not call. They'll get their day. it will be horrible. And I won't help. Or I will. Maybe I'll still help. Maybe, if I can convince myself to get out of bed, stop rewatching the same television shows ad nauseum. Until I'm not really watching, nor doing anything else. I am doing, thinking, planning exactly nothing. I am nothing.

Is that the goal? I would prefer to hope not.

It could be the goal. Being nothing, empty. No sensation at all-- That would be a new sensation.

Needing a break but feeling as though there is just trouble, trouble trouble trouble. And very little net left, after so many falls.