Monday, December 26

I am sitting.

I am sitting down.

I am sitting down in a room filled with paper and books and puzzles and bags. Two pound-a-balls and a husband and a cat. Three pairs of scissors and six rolls of tape and a tree that needs watering. I am sitting down and I am not getting up.

Tuesday, October 11

Mililani, sun and rain, papaya tree int e back yard. Abigail asleep in a playpen in the next room. Coffee and wine and delicious turnovers. Cousins and Aunties and Uncles and Grandma. Stairs to climb. Red dirt.

Drive to Honolulu. Up to the old house. Views of the ocean, the city, the back of Diamond Head. Past the animal hospital where Dixie spent so much time. Drive to the hairdresser to see where to pick BJ up tomorrow.

Korean barbecue. Hibiscus. Double rainbow. Thank you. I love you. Thank you. Abby calling Fred Papa right away. Kisses.

Thursday, September 15

Up early, downstairs, soup's out again still cold. Me dressed. Abby dressed. Forget shoes and sweaters and keys. Gather quarters and leave.

Walk downtown past the smells. Smells of caramel and bread and coffee and donuts. Past churches and chairs on the sidewalk and large appliances out for pickup. To the cafe. Espresso for me, sesame cookie for Abby. Sicilian talk of soccer and sox.

Out of money. Go home or get more? To the bank then to Two Sisters. Too many dishes at home and the instant decision not to wash them yet, not just yet. Call GL. Breakfast for me and Abby, G and G talking art and crotches. Twice as much as breakfast in the Fort.

Walk home, sometimes raining, just a drop here and there. Spitting, really. Telling Abigail the names of flowers. This is a morning glory, this is a rose. Maybe we'll eat every meal out today and I won't do any dishes. This is hibiscus. Tired of measuring my value in cleanliness. Look at the sunflowers.

Graves of sea captains with ships on them. Ben Pine, Columbia. Ordered yarn last night, super-bulky alpaca. Colors like the sunrise. Seashell pink and thistle down and starlight blue. I may not clean at all today. The sky is openning and I've had toomuch coffee. That won't keep me from drinking more. Abigail making wookie noises and watching break dancing on television. Something's got to give.

Wednesday, September 14

Garden thinned, leaves falling on the back deck. Wool finally feeling good in my hands, needles clicking quicker. Baby walking half-way across rooms, kicking balls and kissing dolls. Bath in the pool outside, wind whispers and neighbors chatter, bubbly hair and foam alphabet.

Soup weather. Soup season, at least. Cut the leeks under running water, clean the dirt between the layers. Baby walking and falling and crying. Too tired to be awake but not sleepy. Melt butter in a pot. Add leeks. Put Abigail upstairs and listen to her sing to herself. Sing to the cat. The window. The clothes she pulls off her father's dresser and into the crib. Coos and quiet and coos.

Today is Wednesday. What does that mean? It doesn't mean anything anymore. Water the pants with water from the rain barrel. Add the bowl of vegetable ends to the compost pile. Pay the bills. At least most of them. Wash the diapers, hang them in the sun. Wash the tub. Knit a swater for the naked doll.

Abigail is quiet now, quiet for some time. The leeks smell like they may be ready for broth and potatoes. My sewing room (or laundry room) is clean now, piles for each project: the shirt quilt for G and K, the chicken quilt I have to start. Finished knitting projects. Knitting projects that just need finishing. Knitting projects just barely started. Notions. Notions! Abigail is cooing again.

So many tomatoes I am thinking of canning.

Saturday, September 3

The problem with not paying for television: the pictures stay the same on the weekend. The same people drinking water, boarding buses, finding family. Nothing new to report. Nothing new.

I finally found something I can do. Quilts for refugees sleeping in air-conditioned sports arenas. Sleeping on cement floors. Finally something I can do with my own hands. There is a prayer in doing things, in caring to do them well.

Thursday, September 1

President Bush, how dare you talk about Gasoline while there are still people stranded. Babies and elderly dying of neglect. Masses looking for buses to take them away.

How dare you.

Tuesday, August 30

Today is a day for doing things. Today is a day for getting things done. Today the toys go where they belong, with the toys they belong with. One room of the dollhouse for chairs and tables. One for musical instruments. One for blocks. One for puzzles.

Today is a day for eating well. Broccoli for the baby and rice for us both. No meat on the grill today. Too much rain. Too much meat. No cake for the baby. Not too much coffee for me.

Today is a day to do little things. Nail the carpet back onto the last step. Cut back plants and start new ones. Mark hand-me-downs for ownership.

Today is a day to ignore the past. Boxes of memories left alone. People not called. Stories not thought of. Letters not answered. Feelings denied.

Today is a day for today. Baby at the piano banging notes. Composter built on the livingroom floor. Cake for me-- ask Jane about birthdays. Colors on baby and paper and chair. Music instead of news. Bare feet and jeans.

Wednesday, June 29

Drive in to the meeting, game on. New place. Hard to park. Small turnout, the usual suspects, carded at the bar and a Guinness for me.

No point to the meeting. No point. The boys and I sitting around. Me trying not to mind the drive in for nothing. The boys talking about nothing. Mike Wallace. Renter’s market.

Turn to nostalgia: children’s shows, coal fires. Matt wanting to go back in time. Seven kids, two parents, coal fire and fresh fruit scones. Better then. So I try and I can’t think of a time I would want to go back to. Can’t think of a time that is better than this.

Wait at the bar, game over. I don’t know Brighton. One-way streets, no choices, cop behind me. Just keep going. I don’t know the streets. Don’t know Brighton. Keep going. Drive until things look familiar, kind of, tracks down the road and finally a sign. Beacon Street through Brookline past Coolidge Corner. Beacon Street into the heart of the monster.

Asshole fans in their SUV’s and I am too tired. Trying to think of a time. Wood stove, three kids curled up in front. Mom with her hand through the glass door. Robert crying every day, running away just out of sight. Asshole fans cutting me off and blocking the roads and honking.

Try a side street to get away, it’s blocked by fans clogging intersections. Turn around. Run away. Back up Beacon to North Harvard. Middle school. Drinking and lying and trying to get away, friends’ parents dying of heroin overdoses and men grabbing my breasts. Jane yelling at my mother and making me diet. Dad getting sick and us starting to know it.

Down North Harvard, into Allston. Familiar places all the way. Road work on the bridge , Storrow Drive instead. High School. Galen dying. Willie killing himself. Stephen dying. Always thinking someone would die and not really being far off. Restraining order and running away and looking out at the ocean crying. Staying up at friends’ houses after everyone was asleep and looking out the window. Crying. Trying to make it.

Storrow Drive down to one lane and the assholes join in. So tired my eyes are drooping when it dawns on me: I have never been happier than I am now. I love my husband. I love my baby. I don’t think anyone I love is dying. I am responsible for myself. I like my life.

Me in every period before this exploding with joy. Beaming. Me trying so hard to be happy. And now I wake up and Abigail kisses me. I don't have to do a thing. I don't have to try.

Route 1 and I am tired and hungry and thinking of course about what must be wrong. Something must always be wrong. And the saddest thing I realize is people dying unhappy. Not just sad but so far gone there is no joy. My mother. I want her to be happy. I don't want anything else for her or from her. Just to be happy. She used to beam and laugh and be happy but it's been months since I heard her cackle. And then the other saddest thing. The people I love hurt eachother.

Nearly crying now thinking of how much someone I love has hurt people. I need to stop. I need to get something to keep me awake and keep me going mind's on grand mal seizures and hospital rooms and stories not believed and whole histories being dismissed.

Drive-Thru. 24 hours. Pull over, search for change. Get to the menu and I just want something to drink but late night, limited menu. The woman doesn't understand me and I don't understand her and because I can't figure out how to get just a drink I end up with a meal.

Back on the road caffeine and fries and I really have been happy for most of my life. But I don't want to go back. Local boy, grown man now, arrested last week trying to get back to before his brother died, spray-painting mailboxes to remember. I don't want to go back. Past the malls empty lots flashing lights on the south-bound side. I was happy then. I did happy things.

Awake now, mind racing, burger uneaten. Home to sports radio left on downstairs. Hoping someone is awake for me to see for me to say I love you. I am happy. But they are upstairs asleep and my mind is racing. Each of these things so full so good and bad like swabbing my father's mouth as he died. There is comfort in everything.

These are the things I did. These are the things I remember. Tomorrow is trash day and I don't want to bring it all out tonight. I should go to sleep if I want to get it done before the truck comes tomorrow. When I was in young I would sit on the rock barely peeping through the part of our yard near the street and wait for the trashmen to come. I still love the sound of their trucks.

Monday, June 27

Sun-burnt skin in a deep v, cheeks and nose and chin. Woke with a start to a dream of morning, this morning, and all the done things still needing to be done. One hundred and twenty finger sandwiches. Iced tea. Lemonaid.

Trying to catch up all week to slow down and catch up clean up and slow down. Hoping for that time when the things that hang are done and the ideas that pass are noted. Eleven squares of thrift-store fabric, varying sizes, still quite seperate and slightly undone.

Clean the study, put the gate up. Think of notes to write. Notes to write. Try to keep the dishes clean, try to avoid ants. Wash diapers. Wash clothes. Try to think of what to say. Try to think of how to put eleven squares together.

Paper plates. Paper cups. Knife for the watermelon. Tablecloth. Trying to remember how to hide what I am thinking. Trying to figure out when I lost that skill. Buy a cake: Glosta Rocks. Bowls for chips. Four bags of ice. Kiddy pool.

Fiesta gone, Viva! Viva! Me on the beach alone in a crowd eating a sausage from Ambie. Funny to think that anybody looking at me can see what I am thinking. Watch the greasy pole, watch the crowd. Try to make note of fashion.

Is it having a baby? Never being alone? There are a good number of things in anybody's head that don't need to come out. Moments of sadness. Distraction. Frustration. Things that are no less real if they are private. Things that are no more real if they show.

Abby miserable in the heat, heat rash and sweat. Can't sleep. Won't eat. Better after the rain, waking happy and kissing me again. She is learning from me how to be. Kissing and smiling and cooing in the back of her throat.

I am trying to be alone more often. Trying to have my feelings alone. Alone being with Abigail, of course. It hasn't done anybody any good to know what I am thinking. There are so many parts to life, so much to feel about. I am red like a lobster and my skin hurts. I have talked about hats with important people and they may know I don't care. That can't be nice for them.

Wednesday, June 1

Keeping up appearances:

Use products. Be careful selecting them: some will break your hair or turn glass green. Be conspicuous. Say things like "Today I washed the floor with Better Person. It's the only thing I use now."

Don't watch t.v. Only watch good t.v. Only watch movies on your small t.v. Only watch good made-for-t.v. movies on your t.v. that's small. Only watch small movies.

Be creative. Do creative things with gusto. Be careful; gusto sometimes knocks things down like a strong wind and creative things are often fragile. Break things. Break things and be put-out.

Return phone calls. Good people return phone calls.

Keep up appearances. Brush and shave and wash and neaten. Neaten and wash and shave and brush. Remember to be attractive. Don't just be, be attractive. Everyone must remember to do that at least. It is very important.

Learn to say the right things. Say things like "I think this war is a sham." Don't think about the war. The war makes me sad and nobody likes it when I am sad. Say things like "The war is a sad sham." No, leave sad out. Nobody likes to hear about sad things.

Be polite about families. Comment that that is nice. Nod. Smile. Don't let your own family interfere with your life. It makes friends uncomfortable. Smile and nod. Say they are well, or that you just don't talk anymore.

Make drama. Only make drama when nobody will be put out. Say things like "I called poison control to make sure the birds really can eat red berries. I was dreadfully worried." Be dreadfully worried. Concerned is also a good thing to be. Be concerned about things that are none of your business but that people are interested in. This is useful for small talk. Small talk is useful when you are returning phone calls.

Answer the phone calmly.

Read the books your friends read but only after they have finished them. This will make them feel smarter. Keep quiet about books you don't like; nobody likes a spoil-sport. Be sure to like the books of people you might meet.

Keep your body under control. A body is something to be commented on, not enjoyed. Make sure your body is humble and slightly uncomfortable. Don't be too sure of yourself. It makes people angry. Be certain to dislike most of your body. Talk to your friends about how you would like to change yourself. It makes them feel better than you.

Don't tell people's secrets, unless conversation gets dull. Dull conversation is to be avoided at all costs. Return phone calls. Be attractive and in control. Smile. Nod.

Sunday, May 22

Today is my father's birthday and I want it to be noted there are cedar timbers in my yard yes my yard and I ate a proccessed meat sandwich this evening and tried hard to enjoy sitting my peas are several iches tall. I didn't go to the cemetary. My grandfather won't go to the zoo.

Today I did the work I had to do. Today is my father's birthday. Tomorrow is Monday tomorrow I clean the house and today I leave dishes in the sink. I knit until my fingers hurt. Today I don't call people I should and I don't call people who think I should. Today I woke up tired.

Tomorrow i will clean the dog shit out of the yard. I will put the folded laundry away. I will vacuum the floor and pay the bills. Tonight I will go upstairs to the people I love. Today is my father's birthday. I want it to be noted.

Friday, May 20

Screen Door

Screen Door
Originally uploaded by Mandy K.

Thursday, May 12

Spring in full bloom in Seattle hints of honeysuckle in the air. Abigail pulling her socks off to celebrate the weather. She takes ovder the job of flirting: record-store boys and resturanters fall at her feet.

Monday, May 2

I became mean the first time I mocked. I became talented when I realized I had some skill at it. I became funny when I saw that you enjoyed it.

Is this a lack of trust or just not caring? Do you mean you like my shoes or do you mean you are uncertain about the decisions you made but you know they are better than the ones I made? I am proud of myself because I can blame this on my mother. What can you blame on your mother?

I am really not interested. No, I mean I am really not interested. I mean I am the most uninterested of us all. I think it's quaint.

Would you like to come over to see what I do when I'm bored? I am never bored. Wait, I am never boring. I am often bored.

Monday, April 11

Monday morning in bed reading trying to wait for baby's morning smiles. Lists are forming (lists are always forming) things to do:
Get up! Obligations. What comes first? Try to manage priorities. Taxes, of course. Which means to the library. To the library-- a walk! A walk. Of course.

To the library. I need to find my library card first.

To do:
Find library card.
Walk to library.
Look for a book on retaining walls and building raised beds. For my garden. My yard. Yes, my yard. There is one, there, even if it is small and touching other properties. Some of us need to live right up close. Find a book on living up close and still growing things.

To do: Grows things.

Two concord grape vines in a box in the cellar. The back yard (the neighbor's front) gets sun and the property line allows for an inch or two of it. Vines could grow up to the deck. They'll need a little protection from the kids and the dog.

To do: Buy some fence.

Buy some fence, little fence. Maybe that silly scalloped wire stuff. A little something to put around the base. And maybe some soil, and maybe some railroad ties. And bricks. Bricks for a walkway and maybe a stair. I need a book on laying brick walks. And sand for under the bricks.

Mrs. Ramsey is knitting. One project finished last night, need to send it off. Sew a tag inside. Directions for another found, it nearly finished. And the back of the baby sweater from my second pregnancy. Can't bear to finish it for another child, can't take it out. I could turn it into pillow. I should finish living projects first.
To do:
Sew tag.
Go to the post office.

Reading still, list getting longer. Abigail whimpers. Put the book down and give her my breast. Lily and her oils. I wonder what my mother's work would look like in oil. If I could paint in oil. Can I get oil paints on my walk? In my dream a few weeks back the art store only openned two days a week and sold political scarves. I am sure they have oil paints as well. Maybe Jane would paint with me. On the deck. Maybe I should paint the deck. No, it will do as it is. But the front porch needs painting.

To do:
Buy oil paints.
Call Jane.
Strip porch.

All these lists and still in bed. Abby's asleep. I should get something done. Want to stay with her, stay in bed to get the first morning smiles. I can sneak away, put away the last of the maternity clothes, start a load of laundry, do last night's dishes.

To do:
Get up.
Put clothes away.
Do dishes.
Start laundry.

Up now, monitor on, Abby upstairs and she starts to coo. To tht-tht-tht and daa-daa-daa.

To do:
Miss morning smiles.

Wednesday, March 30

I don't have a dog and I don't smoke but my yard is filled with cigarette butss and dog shit. Snow melted, leaving the yard covered in sand and shit and somebody's broken trash can. Wednesday at least, trash day, fill the broken barrel and set it out.

I've been finding new uses for baby food jars. Good for trapping pale spiders. Good as shot glasses. Good for keeping things one shouldn't keep. Half the jars get cleaned, thrown in the drawer near the cat food. Half the jars end up in the recycling. One jar is open on the table on the deck, spider web down the center.

Being an expert starter I am trying to become a better finisher. My daily lists have turned to catalogs of projects I have started already. Finish blue sweater. Put laundry away. Finish paying bills. Clean up from previous projects. Yarn toys sand dishes clothing papers books music.

I have letters to write.

Thursday, March 24

At the desk, preregistered, wrong day wrong date wait they'll take you they have you for today down there at down the hall at the desk Hello. Sit down get up dressing room take your purse. Shoes and socks and underwear on everything else off this one ties in the ack and this one goes over it. Sign here not pregnant ask about nursing cover ovaries lie on the table quick picture step outside wait here.

New room stand against the table on its end vertical drink this thick chaulky salty crystals on top like drinking sharp pop rocks tastes like the smell of plastic dolls one big gulp adjust lead cover breathe deep now stop breathing deep breath in table tilts back stop breathing turn to the right breathe stop breathing. On the table now horizontal turn left breathe drink this thinner strawberry flavor still chaulky still thick lying on my side stop breathing take another sip breathe again now stop.

Sit up body heavy chaulky mouth chaulky lips swing legs over find step stool. Dressing room clothes on tights and skirt and shirt and coat. Out to car and go.

Wednesday, March 9

There’s always too much of something and tonight I’m afraid it’s me. Winter won’t end and I don’t know what I’d do if it did. Spring is rebirth full of new and I can’t let go of the old. Old and dead ideas. Old and dead hellos. Old and dead goodbyes.

The tide is turning. The tide is always turning. Trust me, boys. What’s low now will be igh again.

Tuesday, March 1

Dreamt last night of an over-educated friend breaking off an engagement. Standing on the rocks overlooking the harbor, shirt off, but with cuffs and collar remaining. A stronger figure than I had guessed and, in the sun off the water, shining. An embrace somehow maternal, then confessional, then baptismal.

Move to a house along the beach, water rising, waves crashing. Waves pouring themselves over the rail of the porch and in the waves seals swimming in and out, bumping against me as I cling to the rail.

Water rushing out, seals gone, me going out with them and not by choice. Strong arms (whose arms?) hold me back and all this time the sun has been shining.

Monday, February 28

Flicking baseball cards at the wall, my room best in the corner near the door. Sort cards by brand by team by position. Different cards for different purposes but for flicking only one good luck: Mookie Wilson.
Flicking baseball cards at the wall, my room best in the corner near the door. Sort cards by brand by team by position. Different cards for different purposes but for flicking only one good luck: Mookie Wilson.

Sunday, February 6

Sitting at a show outside snow is getting dirty and dirtier until it is only dirt.

Some things look like butterflies and somethings look like butterflies with no middles.

Sad to think that nobody knows your mind and sad to know that nobody's trying but it doesn't mean you are unloved just that you are alone.

Funny how each of us has a body.

Funny how somebody can step out of your life for some time and expect there to be a place holder.

Like we don't all work in waves.

Thursday, January 13

Talking today about family and lovers. A lesson in how to fall in love. A lesson in how to be in love.

I had a dream the other night, I'll tell you about it later. Ran into a friend. Not in the dream. Thought of you, all of you.

I can't even remember who my friends are anymore.

Give the baby three oranges and watch her roll them around. Take a walk in the cold. Remember that you have a body. Remember what that means.

Sometimes these things come back to me: a smile, a hand, the way the phone rings. I am trying to make these things into rag dolls. Not like poets do but with fabric and yarn. Most of it scraps.

I wish you would call or write. I have more to say about lovers and more to say about family.

Friday, January 7

One year ago cold air, phone call, quick ride crying to the city to MGH. Time for a few words him listening me talking baby's good, going to be okay, love you, love you. Tried to get up can't get up can't talk smiles and tear in his eye. Morphine drip drip swab his mouth heep him comfortable hold his hand. To the chapel comfort sister to the gift shop busy the boys to the cafeteria salad bar and the hallway coffe shop. Gift shop stationary green with white edges and pad with dots and pen. Write letters never sent. Gift store again sample sale baby clothes for the wee one to be. Brother gives blood borrow shirt sleep in scrubs solitaire knit and read. Ice from the nurses station drinks from vending machines backpack brought in with things we need. Pizza boxes on the window sill brother on the floor father not opening his eyes second night no response heart slowing third day waiting watching holding hand ball to squeeze swab his mouth keep him comfy talk and talk new nurses familiar from before transplant doctors come to say goodbye pay respects. Take the elevator to the top floors Blake 10 nice waiting room look over the charles he was here once come up at night stars and dark and feel alone alone alone but sister's there and we are alone. Tired worn out getting toward peaceful time for bed Sam and I in one himin the other stepmother next to him go to sleep we're all going to sleep together family like and we sleep two three hours nurses come in Jane wakes us he's gone. Wake up relieved hug eachother kiss his forehead hold his hand hand on head again goodbye and put my head on the bed and cry. Say thank you, thank you gather our stuff pack it up clean up pizza boxes call people say goodbye elevator down hospital empty walk outside into the cold first time in days cold air cold drive home route 1 drive east into the sunrise.

Miss you, Da, love you.