17 August 2015

Look Out the Window

Billy Collins wrote: "...the poets are at their windows." And so I looked out the window and wrote what I saw.

The couple crossing the street is hot. Everyone is hot, to tell the truth, but they look especially hot. He is balding and just starting to cross that line into overweight. These facts are emphasized by two things: The top of his head is glaring red (he ignores that he is balding, an admission of becoming his father, by never wearing a hat or putting on sunscreen), and his blue buttondown strains at the seams. Even more unseemly, there are sweat spots under his arms, down his back, where his shirt is tucked into his black pants.

But as he turns to catch his wife's hand, they smile and the world cools around them. They are here together, forgetting for just the few moments it takes to cross the street that niggling sense that life hasn't turned out how they planned.

12 August 2015

Late Fall

Right Lane Closed
Until Late Fall

This is the large sign that is currently flashing away at the train crossing closest to my house. It brings up many questions for me, including: If just the right lane is closed, why is the entire crossing blocked off? Wouldn't it be so much simpler to say on the sign: "Road Closed Until Late Fall"?

I tried, I have to admit, walking over that crossing yesterday morning. In my defense, it is where I cross to get to the train station on my way to work every morning, and I am nothing if not a creature of habit. At 6:04 every morning for the last two years, I have been crossing the tracks right there, and yesterday my body turned before the rest of me—or at least the important thinking part of me—took in the fact that the road around the tracks was ripped up.

While I realize that I could simply step over each of the rails, I am forever haunted by that scene in Fried Green Tomatoes when Chris O'Donnell gets his foot caught by the railroad ties and thank the good Lord you don't actually see him get hit by the train. I know I don't wear lace-up boots like he does, but still: I am a large proponent of railroad safety.

So it looks like from now until late fall I will be walking down the Prairie Path to cross at Main, and it's actually that idea of "late fall" that stopped me short when I saw the flashing sign.

Late fall.

Every year in August, I stop being able to imagine other seasons.

The grass this year is turning brown and prickly; aside from a few bursts of storms, it hasn't rained in weeks.

The sun blisters and burns daily, sending us all inside to hide in the air conditioning.

Even the idea of sitting on the porch with a sweating glass of lemonade sound impossible: There is too much sweat involved in that image.

The daylilies are nothing but opportunities to dead-head, and I snap off the shriveled petals every chance I get. There is a certain satisfaction to that akin to sweeping off your porch or vacuuming under the bed; you are, in all cases, doing a clean sweep.

Late fall.

I try to bring up images of rainy Saturdays, and I try to remember biting winds promising a season of eating soup and baking bread. I think of sweaters and hoodies and scarves.

But in August all I can see is the summer days stretching before me, as if they are all I've ever known and ever will know. It's summer, and won't it always be summer?


One day it will be late fall again, and I will be able to cross the tracks where I always do.

07 January 2015

routine and breakfast burritos

Every Wednesday is breakfast burrito day at my company, and I wonder what it says about us that this is a Big Deal every week.

"Breakfast burrito day!" one woman sing-songs to me every Wednesday morning.

For awhile, I had a recurring meeting at 8:30 on Wednesday—just the time many of us typically take our morning break and head into the cafeteria for that burrito. Occasionally the meeting would be cancelled for one reason or another, and you'd hear murmured around the office, "Oh, good: I don't like anything interfering with my burrito day!"

I know why this is a Big Deal for me: because I love routine. I love knowing that on Wednesdays, I'll have a burrito for breakfast. It's reliably good and consistently there, so especially at a time when so much feels up in the air—

Will Congress be able to accomplish something this term? Why do planes keep disappearing? What's with that attack on a satirical magazine in Paris? (Nous sommes tous Charlie.)

—with all that up in the air, I love knowing for sure a little thing about my life: that the breakfast burrito is delicious.

06 January 2015

we would be best friends because of hot dogs

I just bought Kristin Chenoweth's newest CD—Coming Home. She recorded it at a live concert in Broken Arrow, OK, her hometown, and listening to it, I wish I had been her next door neighbor growing up. She's so familiar and so at ease telling stories of her little town (that isn't all that little, truth be told). As she sings "Hard Times Come Again No More," you can believe that all of America is this idyllic small town, this blend of River City, Pleasantville, and Stars Hollow.

It isn't, of course, but as I sing along with Kristin to "Over the Rainbow," I like to pretend.

As often happens in our very connected world now, listening led to googling, looking for videos of Kristin in concert. I stumbled on this clip of her on Conan O'Brien where she talks about how much she loves chain restaurants, fast food, and specifically Sonic. She giggles as she praises the cheese taters and how you can get a cranberry slushie if you want to be healthy, and Conan is convinced that Kristin is secretly being paid by Sonic to promote them.

"No, I wish they would call me! I just love them and would love to do a commercial for them!" she says so genuinely that I just know, should we ever meet, we will bond over how under these classy exteriors, all we really want is a hot dog.

05 January 2015

-18 degrees

NPR told me this morning that the wind chill was -18 degrees. I'd just come in from walking Miss Daisy, who, despite the coat I'd put on her to keep her warm, refused to actually work.

"But I protected your little paws with that Musher's Secret stuff! That worked last year during the Polar Vortex, and it's nowhere near as cold now," I reasoned with her.

Miss Daisy looked up at me, brown, buggy eyes growing larger and sadder as she dug in all four paws and became a deadweight at the end of the leash.

"Fine. Fine. Your little sad face wins," I said as I leaned over to pick her up. Miss Daisy burrowed her face into my neck and sneezed, and my skin instantly chilled and I instantly feared frostbite.

My little feet weren't so happy about being outside in -18 degrees at 4:45, either. On Saturday—just before the first snowfall of 2015—the zipper on my right snowboot pulled apart. The boot sort of flops around on my foot now, making it rather useless, and I tried (oh, how I tried!) to get it back together. There were even needle-nose pliers involved.

But this is beyond my abilities; the boots need the help of a cobbler (like, the person who fixes shoes, not the dessert, although maybe filling my boots with cobbler would help keep my feet warm and sweet). I'm taking them in tonight after work, and until they're fixed, Miss Daisy and I will bond over cold feet and how we both want someone to pick us up.


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