Where in the world do I begin with December 2009? What a freakin’ crazy month! I only ran 4.49 miles for the entire month (ha!), but have a sneaking suspicion my knees are thanking me for the time off. Weather wise we had a few snow storms, but nothing too dramatic. I wrote more reports and conducted more reviews and put in more work hours than I care to admit. But, best of all, most memorable of all was the trip home to Monhegan. I haven’t even begun to write about that (which is strange because it changed my life). With everything going on, books were low on the list:
- Tiepolo’s Hound by Derek Wolcott ~ interesting but not my favorite.
- Tortilla Curtain by T. C. Boyle ~ memorable and moving, definitely one of my favorites.
- Wonderboys by Michael Chabon ~ can’t wait to see the movie! I only have one question, “is the snake in the trunk?”
- Soloist by Mark Salzman ~ amazing, amazing book. I’m a fan of Mark Salzman now.
- The Walls Came Tumbling Down by Babs Deal ~ gossipy and girly, this was a fun one.
- The Lost Steps by Alejo Carpentier ~ last book of the month…
From my list I didn’t get to Perma Red by Debra Magpie Earling. It should have been on my November list, not December. Woops!
Something of interest – I didn’t read any nonfiction this month. Hmmmm…
December 2009 is promising to be an interesting month. I’m taking Kisa to the island for Christmas (his first winter visit ever – we’ve already consulted L.L. Bean twice). Doctors are weighing in on serious subjects (yours and mine) and I await every word with caught breath. It’s not always about me, but the waiting is just the same.
For books it is a simple month:
- Tiepolo’s Hound by Derek Walcott in honor of December being the best time to visit the Caribbean.
- Tortilla Curtain by T. Coraghessan Boyle in honor of Iowa becoming a state (Boyle was part of the Iowa Writers Workshop. He was also born on December 2nd).
- Perma Red by Debra Magpie Earling in honor of Native American literature month.
- Wonderboys by Michael Chabon in honor of Pennsylvania becoming a state.
- Walls Came Tumbling Down by Babs Deal in honor of Alabama becoming a state.
I don’t think I have any nonfiction for the month. Strictly imaginary but oddly enough, nothing about Christmas this year. For LibraryThing’s Early Review program I found out I am supposed to receive Then Came the Evening a first book by Brian Hart. I snuck a peek at some Library Journal / Amazon reviews and this promises to be a heartbreaking story.
October has always been my “hang on”" month. It’s the month I hold my breath for while waiting for September to release me. This October was no different. It started with a trip to Maine to see West Coast family (and a great foggy run), a trip homehome andandand Kisa got to go (yay), Hilltop got a much needed haircut, there were a ton of new Natalie sightings, and, dare I say, the promise of a Hilltop Thanksgiving? The end of the month was a little stressful – a lump in the breast and a missing ovary. No wonder I read so many books and here they are:
- Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis ~ sci-fi story about a man who is kidnapped and taken to Mars.
- The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis ~ coming of age story about a young girl who is a chess playing phenom.
- A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle ~ a ghost story about a man who lives in a graveyard for twenty years.
- Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters ~ a mystery about two unmarried women traveling through Egypt and being pursued by a mummy.
- The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan ~ nonfiction about the role of women through the ages (up to the 1960s when the book was written). Oh, how far we’ve come!
- House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier ~ a spooky tale about time travel.
- When Found, Make a Verse of by Helen Smith Bevington ~ a commonplace book full of poetry, proverbs and excerpts.
- Empire Falls by Richard Russo ~ a novel about small town life (read because October is the best time to visit New England).
- The Natural by Barnard Malamud ~ a novel about a baseball player (read because October is World Series month).
- In a Glass Darkly by Sheridan Le Fanu ~ a compilation of short stories all on the dark side (read in time for Halloween – you know…horror, fantasy, mystery, etc).
- The Life You Save May Be Your Own: an American Pilgrimage by Paul Elie ~ biographies of Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy in one book (read for Group Reading Month).
For fun, I am rereading Mary Barney’s Ring That Bell (2003) because I want to challenge my cooking and make every recipe in the book. So far I’ve cooked/baked my way through nine recipes.
For the Early Review program from LibraryThing I was supposed to read Ostrich Feathers by Miriam Romm. It hasn’t arrived as of yet, so it may very well turn into a November book.
It has taken me some time to come to terms with her passing. Doesn’t seem right. More than doesn’t feel fair. I’ll say it yet again – cancer just isn’t fair.
They came to the island as love birds; a dating, doting couple. Binoculars and a sense of biology, they came to the island year after year to love the birds. The years gave way to marriage, kids, property, and a dog. A sense of belonging to the community became so strong the island couldn’t remember a time without them. It was as if they had always been there.
I don’t remember the first time I met her. It was that long ago. I can only remember her as I last saw her four months ago. Feisty and forcing fresh baked cookies on us, she commanded from the couch. Slipping water through a straw she surveyed the world outside her kingdom. A huge picture window afforded her a priceless view. She smiled as she watched a pheasant family creep jauntily through the high grass. Father pheasant’s neck arched and stretched searching for bugs, pecking as he went. His eyes were bright, watchful and wary. He paused as if to say I know you are there and she paused, the glass lifted halfway to her lips, as if her stillness could keep him there.
Binoculars, books and Bean gear. She was always ready for the birds. She kept a journal of the season’s best spyings. A log of feathered friends encountered throughout the seasons. As she grew sicker, too ill to hike her ornithology conquests had to be counted from the couch. Her bird’s eye view of the birds was limited to the ones who came to her big picture window. Mostly it was the pheasants. Soon she could tell us how many families were in the area. How many babies were born that year. Always the pheasants. They became her friends. That is why when I see a family of pheasants I will always think of her.
I hate this murky underwater apathy. This floating through things on tired waves of discontent. Lately, all I want to do is give it up. Why am I exhausted and who should I blame? Maybe it’s the dreams. At night I have nightscares that frighten me so badly I wake disorientated and confused. I struggle to ask myself why do I repeatedly have visions of bombers flying over Monhegan, dropping weapons of mass destruction? Masked fighter pilots spewing hundreds of rounds of bullets into people and places. We run, we scatter, yet there is blood. There is death I can’t explain. The sad thing is this. In my dreams I see them coming from miles and miles away. The sky is crystal clear, glaring and brilliant blue. At first they are dots on the horizon, yet I know who they are and what will happen when they arrive. I am powerless to stop it. As they get closer details emerge until I can see their faces. My dreams make them human and cruel.
Another repeat offended is the dream of drowning. Monhegan is hit with a wave as big as Texas. Again, there is that sense of foreboding. I can see it coming from miles away but I’m powerless to stop it.
Some say I want to destroy home. Some say I am started to dread the return, but what part I always ask. It’s true that Colorado started out as a joke, but has become more of a deep wishful thinking as time goes on. I fantasize about being snagged by the Rockies. I dream about being trapped miles from New England with no direction (or desire) to go home. Is that what I really want?
I take pieces of you home with me. Little by little, piece by piece. Do you feel yourself diminishing? Do you sense yourself growing smaller? Stealing from home to make a home away from home home. Scouring shorelines for colors of sea tossed glass, speckled, inexplicably beautiful rocks, broken buoys of red and gold. Like a song about romance I steal them all home with me. Vain attempt to bring me back to where I am not.
I cannot bottle the heavy salt air. I cannot take the earthy decay of fallen leaves. I have to leave the sunsets of gold behind. So, instead I take the glass, the rocks, the shells. Bottled and bowled I keep them, cherish them in my home away from home.
We will rise before the sun and face the day with the thought that today will be different from the day before. Much different. We will look towards coffee as the great motivator but really, in our heart of hearts, it will be the open road. We will stop for alcohol and then when we can drive no more, stop for the sea. When we reach the ocean we will know we can go no further. We will ride the waves and smell the salt. I can’t speak for her but I will breathe. Breathe in and out. Breathe like I haven’t in days. We will spot my mother and gossip all the way up the hill. We will finally drop our bags in sighing relief and a great sense of freedom. We will call our husbands while drinking wine and staring out over the ocean. Distracted. What we won’t do is talk about work because we promised. We will (try to) keep that promise. For love and sanity, we will.
I came across this…as I was packing. How perfect is that? Nothing has changed. I could have written this yesterday. Or next year. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
This is the time of morning I wait for. The air is still. The harbor rolls gently, causing the moored boats to nod to one another solemnly. One or two people wander by quietly. Somewhere, a truck starts up and birds mutter to themselves. There is quiet activity, a gentle buzz. The island is alive but at the same time it feels as though everything is barely stirring. Muted almost as though under water.
When I was a kid, no more than five or six, I used to sit on the top step leading up to our apartment. I would listen for the early morning coo of the mourning doves, watch the early bird birders with binoculars slung around their necks. The light was magical at that time of day. I remember waiting for something. Even now I couldn’t tell you what.
My husband can sit in front “Sunrise Earth” all day. Have you seen it? I don’t know who thought up this programming, but more importantly I’d like to meet the person he or she sold the idea to. It has got to be one patient person. I can just imagine the sales pitch: “I’ve got this great idea for a television show! Cameras record the sunrise…in real time. No soundtrack, no narration. Just the sun rising from different angles. We’ll capture bugs stirring, birds chirping…maybe the sound of water if it’s in the shot.”
Really, that’s all the show is about. Watching the sun rise. A bug may land on a twig for a few minutes. A bird might buzz a camera. A nearby brook may be gurgling away. That’s about it. For some (many?) it’s the equivalent of watching paint dry.
Me, I would like to see an episode filmed from my tippy top stair. Bring me back to the beginning – before the beginning of another busy day.
My mother’s email read, “D died suddenly. All in shock.” No sh!t. Shock is an understatement. Kisa came to bed and said, “I think I know what happened. Yaz went into the hospital early this morning and D couldn’t take it.” Despite my self stunned state I smiled. He had a point and could possibly be right. No one loved the Red Sox more than D, except maybe his daughter.
I want to think that’s exactly what happened. Home is just too small of a place for mysteriously sudden passings. Things like that just don’t happen. We read about them in the news. We see them on television. They shock us yet we manage to shake our heads and say Glad that wasn’t here. But, but. But! In our little world when people die we usually see it coming from a long way off. Like a ship on the horizon we see the approach and brace ourselves for the arrival. We have time to think, time to prepare. Even my father sent us signs. Headaches, high blood pressure. We should have seen it coming a mile away yet we chose to be stunned.
“All in shock” is definitely an understatement.
Edited to add: Nothing could have prepared me for the passing of LeRoi Moore. It seems so unreal. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that a founding member of the Dave Matthews Band, just 46 years old, is dead. I have to blink my eyes and scratch my head. Three days of bad news. Is it September already?
My sister asked me if I was ready for next week. Am I ready? I have been mentally ticking down the days, practically the hours until next week. Too bad it’s the end of next week that I have to wait for. The wait can kill me.
I’ll start off by making the drive to Portland. Part of me wants to load up the billion ME/CA only returnables and finally make a return on them (think of all the nickels I’ll get! They might pay the parking meter…) Then maybe I’ll be able to get through the basement…
Then it’s a boat trip to Peaks. I’m tempted to bring running gear because the run ways out there are so beautiful. It’s a crazy mix of ocean, pines, pavement, big luxury houses, small shacks, horses, wildflowers, dirt and sea salt air. Different scenery than what I see everyday and different is good. Very good.
Babysitting the Bebe. I’m sure my sister is worried. I haven’t dealt with a child under the age of 30 in over a decade. There’s a voice in my head that reasons, “how hard can it be?” while another counters, “there’s a reason you don’t have one yourself.” Oh yeah. So, I’m looking forward to being a cool aunt trying to stay calm. I’m only half kidding.
Then. Then. Then! There is Monfreakinhegan. CanNOT wait to get there. It’s been almost a year. A full fukcing year. I tell anyone who will listen I am never doing that again. Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day & Columbus Day. Those will be my dates next year. Count on it.
I am oh so ready.
August is a day late. Sorry about that!
It is awful to wish the summer away. To look forward to Labor Day…but I can’t help it. The time has (finally) come for me to go home. And I haven’t been there since last October! August is all about going back to the island. I’m bringing a truckload of books:
- All is Vanity by Christina Schwartz (in honor of Womens Friendship Month)
- Boy with Loaded Gun by Lewis Nordan (in honor of Lewis Nordan’s birthday)
- Far Field by Edie Meidav (August is the best time to visit Sri Lanka, believe it or not)
- Dog Handling by Clare Naylor (August has a “woman’s day” so I’m reading what Pearl calls “chick lit”)
- Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester (National Language Month)
It seems traitorish to think that the island’s library won’t have any of these books, but I can’t take the chance by assuming they do…and here’s the funny part- I don’t leave until the latter half of the month. I’m acting as if I won’t read a word before then! I’m actually hoping to have All is Vanity and Boy with Loaded Gun finished and off my list before leaving.
I scored another LibraryThing Early Review:
Blackbird, Farewell by Robert Greer. I am excited about this new book for odd reasons. For starters, I love the title! There is something about blackbirds. I love how they are associated with something dark and ominous. Dangerous. If you ever get the chance, check out Jamie Wyeth’s art. He has some great blackbird paintings. I also love the song ‘Blackbird’ (Jerry Garcia’s version is my favorite). Nearly everyone who has ever made me a mixed tape has put that song on one for me. I don’t know why…Maybe they have insight about my broken wings and the need to fly? Anyway, this book doesn’t have anything to do with blackbirds….funny.
August is also a Police concert (awesome, awesome, awesome by the way – blog coming soon), more trips to see Sean Rowe, Swell Season in my back yard, maybe Rebecca Correia. Should be an interesting month! Speaking of flying, I hope it does!
I’ve got the Black Crowes in my head. “Jealous. Jealous again.” Because I am. Of you. I have exactly 44 days until I can go homehome. 44 days to deal with being landlocked and loser. I always think of you when I hear the Black Crowes but this time it’s more than that. You were there. You could have bragged about it. You didn’t. Instead, you let me down easy. Talking more about the weather than what I was missing. I got weather here, too. I wanted to crawl through the phone and smell the salt in your hair. You were just there. What made me ask? Torturing myself with the wanting. How was the pizza? Where did you hike? Was it crowded? I stopped short of asking how the sea smelled, how the surf sounded on the shore, what was in bloom. Stopped short of being pitiful, but wanting all the same.
I reminded myself of someone I knew once. She would flip through fashion magazines and Victoria’s Secret catalogs and ask her boyfriend, “Do you think she’s pretty? Do you like her legs?” as she shoved the glossy near naked women in his face. “Well? Well?” What was she looking for? A lie? Could she handle the truth? What made her force the admission?
Funny thing about jealousy. It changes everything once it flares up and rages out of control. Like a fire, things get out of hand if not handled properly. People say stupid things when they are bit by the ugly green eye. Jealousy. Things become infected by jealousy. You lose things to jealousy. Things burn up in jealousy. Friends. Relationships. Things. Life as we knew it. Life period. I sort through the rubble, bits of charred emotions still smoking. Make my way through what I want to salvage, deciding what is worth keeping. Nothing. I decide nothing is worth salvaging. Let it burn I say. I’ll be home in 44 days.
This is not the blog that was scheduled to leave my mind today. Like a security escorted entourage this one took precedence and took over. I want to stop a moment and thank someone for seeing me so clearly from so many miles away. She wrote a blog that punctured through everything I have been feeling. It’s as if she had been a ghost in my kitchen, hovering over the conversations kisa & I had, but hearing my heart instead.
I am not afraid of change. I am the girl who took charge without knowing the challenge. I’m the girl who said yes to upheaval just to have something different. Hell, I even hacked off 9″ of hair this weekend. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, to imagine my life as something someone else can predict means I’m not living up to my potential.
Here’s what scares me. I’m in the crossroads of what next? Should I stay or should I go? Right now, I am unfocused, drifting, shoreless. No direction home. I don’t like planning for something without a game plan. I don’t like the potential for powerless. Here’s an idea: Imagine not knowing which people (if any) will be in your life a year from now. Does it make a difference to you? The same could be said for my sanity.
Maybe it’s the fact I am dressed in black today, ready to mourn the loss of someone’s mother. Maybe it’s the fact I’m in uncharactistically high heels and do not look anything like myself (and it’s not just the haircut). Maybe it’s the weather (what a cold and rainy day) and apathy has set in.
So, I thank my friend for getting it, getting me, and getting to the point. I may be standing on the platform in Indecision City, but I know someone out there has my direction home.
I have lost my way home. In every sense of the word it is gone. Let’s start with the obvious. No trek to Maine. No boat ride. No getting back to good. Not this time. I will mourn a Memorial Day not on Monhegan. A junkie without her fix, no cure for the homesick. I don’t know what to make of this.
My current address is slipping away. My days there are numbered and all of a sudden I have this urge to be a homebody in this home. Soon, what I call mine will be someone else’s rent. I spent the weekend cleaning closets and scrubbing floors. Like visiting a dying friend I wanted time with my kitchen. For a mid~morning brunch I made a Maine inspired stratta. Homemade bread from the weekend before, spicy vegetarian sausage, crisp green broccoli, sweet Vidalias, creamy eggs+Tabasco+milk, a sprinkling of sharp cheddar cheese. Baked until golden and puffy. More hot sauce for me. For dinner I explored Mexico with a pan-sauteed mix of shredded golden potatoes, spicy Mexican sausage, shiitakes, cilantro and Vidalias. Served with homemade roasted tomatillo and garlic salsa. From scratch flour tortillas. I’m learning to control steam, if there is such a trick. And just to get ahead on the weekday dinners, roasted (skin-on) chicken, smoked with oak chips and cloves of garlic. I’m imagining that will be added to a white bean chili (served with the leftover salsa, of course) and maybe a twisted chicken salad…something smoky and sultry. Trying to reclaim something that isn’t mine. Is not.
The Other Home doesn’t exist yet we sat in front of a loan officer just the same. We spoke the language of calculations. Questions in the form of dollars were answered with quotes. Bank statements and pay stubs. Numbers spilled from our lips easily, as if we memorized our speeches and imagined our lasting impressions.
At the same time we gathered up the dollars to downpay our vacation. Home away from Home. To look forward to the date is to wish summer away, and yet – yet I cannot wait. We’ll start in the cottage of our honeymoon and end in Big Brother just across the way. I’m already tasting lobster and luna.
Such an odd place to be. I’m laying down the disappointment of missing homehome while prepaying on a later visit; I’m turning away from our here and now while it’s still our address and planning payments on an unknown one. We haven’t gone anywhere but I have lost my way home.