Sunday, February 20, 2011

the one where I rock myself awake

Today. Lazy day. Laundry. We all slept late. Girl's friend stayed the night. They "nested" on the living room floor in front of the television, watching Shutter Island. Late. We were all a little spooked even before they started the movie. Tugged shades down to keep the night out. Girl has a fear of night face pressing against the glass of the living room in the window. She jokes about it, but I still pull down those shades when she asks me to. I remember a dream I had when I was 8 or 9, still vivid. A face pressed against the glass of the bay living room window in the little house where I lived with my parents and my three siblings. Mottled face. Angry man. In the dream, I left the house and ran around the block with friends to escape, to try to find someone to help us.

Ancient dream still stays with me.

This evening, my girl is at another friend's house until about 10:30 or 11. A guy friend. Not a boyfriend (she's given up dating for a bit). A buddy like a brother.

I am lost in all that laundry - her clothes, my clothes, sheets, towels, so many mismatched socks.

I am also trying to focus my mind on grad school application essays.

Instructions on one application read, "Three to 6 [the editor in me wants to correct this to "six"] single-space pages, thoughtfully composed."

I may need to stop thinking to get myself to compose any essays.

Need to turn away from news, stop obsessing over what's happening in Wisconsin, what's going to happen in my state of Ohio. Need to let go of what's happening in Libya. Need to focus. These news things take up too much room in my head.

I have three hours or so to focus except for the time I need to spend washing a few dishes, hand washing a few delicates, folding the mountain of laundry.

Focus.

Have been hunting through old files, saved journals and saved entries from an online diary. The hunt is a way to prove something to myself that I can't quite articulate. Evolution of self? Don't like to use the word "evolution" when it comes to me. Found the following. It's fiction based on fact. Not wonderful, but true and raw.

I'm writing in short hand tonight. Should stop that.

Here, just for kicks. Must have been winter of 2004 or maybe late 2003. Estelle is fictional. Lucinda Mary is fictional. The file was undated:

*

Dear Estelle,

I woke up today with the taste of lemon zest on my tongue. When I glanced in the mirror as I was about to splash wake up water on my face, I stuck my tongue out at my reflection, and sure enough, the red had a yellow tinge. The whites of my eyes, too, had a bitter yellow tinge.

I sipped my coffee without sugar this morning hoping that the taste of bitter would overwhelm the bitter taste. But it was no good. Sweet cookies, pizza, salty Sun Chips, nothing would make the bitter yellow dissipate. I'll just have to live with it. I think what happened is that I let bitter words flow out of my mouth, and now that they've been said, now that their target has heard them, now that I can't unsay them, I'll forever taste like a bitter little woman.

The sun is as yellow as my tongue, but it's bitter cold out there. When I cleaned up the blown-around Advertiser this morning after I dropped my daughter off at school, my shoes crackled on the grass. The noise frightened me. It felt and sounded as if my shoes were crushing light bulbs. I could almost feel tiny, dusty glass penetrating the rubber soles. I was relieved that I felt no pain.

I have started filling boxes with the junk that's been covering every surface in the kitchen for weeks. I'm afraid to toss out the bits of junk mail and ads because I worry that I've tucked some important bill or notice in among the trash. My stacks become heaps, mountains, whole worlds. I can't climb them, I have no explosives, so I can't blow them apart. I long for the sights of shreds of paper blowing down the street toward someone else's house.

I will tape up these boxes and risk having gas or electric or phone turned off. I can't stand the sight of them any more, can't stand the odor of stale paper.

My driveway smelled like dog shit when I went out to rescue the dog from her senile sniffing. She was obsessed with a pile of old leaves that were smashed up against the edge of the closed garage door. She was so confused when she felt my arm scoop her up. She didn't see me coming. It's so sad. I could feel her dying through my sweater.

I am a weak woman today. I am incapable of taking this new, clean month and starting over with a new, clean personality. Vacuuming my bedroom doesn't help because I have to shove the machine around laundry baskets filled with clean clothes. Dust is everywhere. Dust rags, dust mops, Endust, water, Swiffers, nothing can conquer the dust. It's breeding in my lungs. When I cough, now, I cough out three-inch layers of dust.

I believe, Estelle, that if I don't write down these lies, these fake thoughts, these fickle leanings of mine, my feet will get tangled up in them as I'm dashing down the stairs to answer the phone or the door or the oven timer. I'm afraid I will fall and break my neck. I don't want to die, Estelle, even though I feel as if I'm already walking dead. Isn't my self-pity beautiful? Don't I have a lovely whiny way about me? At least I have my health. At least my child has her health. At least my house is still standing despite all the dust, maybe because of all the dust.

Tomorrow I will write you about cinnamon and folded sheets. Tomorrow I will write you about balanced checkbooks and filed bills. I will smell clean, like Jergens Natural Bath Soap and Neutrogena moisturizer. Can you bear with me until tomorrow? If you can, maybe I can, too.

Love,
Lucinda Mary


*

Enough delving into old writing now. Really should have done something with all those journal entries. All that writing, raw and angry and so, so sad. I'm glad I have it. Back to laundry now, to essays and thinking about who I want to become based on who I've been.

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