What to do when a bird gets stuck in your house

raison d’etre
30 September 2008, 12:03 pm
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What to do when a bird gets stuck in your house

I’ve been thinking about this for months (1) and it’s occurring to me that the answer (2) has been beating its wings against the thick window of my skull. If a bird gets stuck in your house (3), you should start to look for something more important. Because chances are, you’re (4) staring at the cloud of feathers and commotion when all the time there’s smoke billowing in the parlor room.

(1) Years, if you must know

(2) One, of many

(3) The “stupid” here is implied

(4) “I’m”


time to catch up
23 September 2008, 5:53 pm
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Ayan is writing a list of 100 things about herself and is up to 31. I told her I think that by the time she gets to 67 things may get difficult, though she shows no sign of slowing down. She’s trying to get me to do one too, but I’m resisting, afraid it’s only going to get down to one-upping each other. Besides, my party tricks are unimpressive; I can’t burp the alphabet or turn my eyelids inside out. My index fingers are bent, though, and I can balance a Nalgene on my head for more than five minutes.
On Tuesday nights we go out together; on Wednesdays I have a date with myself. I pour wine into a great big glass, cook things we never eat together (sautéed beets, and that’s it; a bowl of oatmeal with cottage cheese; couscous with raisins and almonds and cumin), watch Mad Men and talk to myself. I am closetly single, I think, and relish these nights alone with Moose the cat and being unwatched. This indulgence is silly (what, really, do I do differently?) and real – but only recently have I admitted to myself; I sleep differently without R too.
I got home with a heavy soul; the day’s stresses many, insignificant but stackable until they were both taller and louder than I. Ready to lash out or curl in on myself, I was dreadful and not fit for company. But waiting for me at home were treasures and surprises sent from the women in my family – cookies from Mom, trinkets from Jax and Leigh, a singing birthday candle, sweet notes around. Lola’s mom died on my real birthday and devastated me, so this was my second shot. As before, there were tears again today, but today’s were welcome.
My mom’s birthday today, and when I called her this morning, laughing and squinting at the early fall mist, I regretted not being there with her. What’s the use of having five children if you spend your birthday alone? But I’m headed to Idaho tomorrow, for a memorial service for Lola’s mom, and the obligations of friendship trumped the Midwest. Every once in a while she speaks with my voice, and it gives me pause, makes me feel more connected to the earth. The temperature changes in this part of the lake, and I’m seeing underwater with goggles this time.
Can’t really revise the words tonight, like all those months, there must be one or two where you are drunk and must rely on word count alone to get to the daily requirement. It’s occurring to me, for the first time, that there really weren’t those others, reading these words, that the drive for expression doesn’t require admiration, that the adjustment to living for the sake of others’ supervision and revision is an illusion. Ah, shit, that it is difficult even to type correctly; this even at Lola’s mom’s funeral service, an event full of wine, love, laughter, and life.
It’s early, and quiet; the kids, on their east-coast time schedules, woke up at 4am and wanted to play. I had been bumped out to the couch, which doesn’t mean much except that I was (not) sleeping right in prime play zone. Their parents, Lola’s brother and his wife, tried so hard to keep the two little ones quiet, but kids are ultimately entropy makers, and weren’t having anything to do with such plans. They were whisked off site to breakfast, but at 6:30am, I am wide awake and there is no going back to sleep off last night’s excesses.
The endless road unfurled in front of us, and I could feel Lola’s sadness settling on top of her chest. She had lived for four and a half years in this ‘before,’ even relishing it at the time, knowing that ‘after’ would last much too long. Her fingers trailed in the breeze outside the car window. She was getting farther and farther away from her mother, and panic feathered her hands until we both realized we were holding our breath for ages. Mike exploded in an exhale in the back seat. “Two miles this time! I made it two miles!”

I felt like utter crapola for most of the day, having smuggled in an alien of food poisoning back from the memorial. I was up for hours last night, fever soaked dreams keeping me and R awake for the balance of the evening. One where I was buried beneath the cairn, one running behind the rental car back to Boise – they all ended with me clutching my drenched shirt and crying silent tears.

I hauled myself into work at 7am to finish a grant, bleary-eyed through budget numbers until I could crawl back home to chamomile tea and Mad Men

drunken admiration, nights of
15 September 2008, 2:13 pm
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I’m having a tough time concentrating on much today, mostly because I can’t stop thinking about David Foster Wallace’s death over the weekend. R sent me a link this morning, and since then my mind’s been reeling in a hundred different directions – his brilliance kept him high on my list of top authors, his works so interwoven with specific events and places in my own life, his death so sad and far away.

There is a unique love, I think, for people we will never meet: it expands, shifts years and time; it forgives; it inflates your own devotion to almost-spiritual significance. I hauled Infinite Jest to Paris, and, heart breaking at the thought of leaving it there, hauled it back. I once read that he edited 500 pages from it at an editor’s insistence and can’t imagine his feeling of (yes) infinite loss.

In hindsight, I suppose, that pain is the opposite to the chasm that led him to his last effort; that pain, at least, was filled with words and pages and passion and life. The world is peering into that chasm now, Mr. Wallace, and we will miss you greatly.

quick getaways, of
12 September 2008, 12:23 pm
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A police officer offered me a thief’s bicycle.

I thought about it, not really into the morning run and the thought of coasting for a bit appealing.

Where did it come from?

I was chasing him, but he dumped the bike, dove in the water, and swam across the canal to get away. He shrugged. I can’t fit it into my trunk, so if you want it, it’s yours.

I kept jogging, but curiosity got the best of me, so I turned around to inspect the loot.

Brakes busted, chain barely hanging on – swimming probably WOULD be a better getaway.

more words
10 September 2008, 1:52 pm
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R has taken to singing old standards on Friday evenings; the sleepy harmonies waft down the stairs of our tiny apartment, weaving together a picture of love, of happiness, of what constitutes enough. And then the tune shifts, and suddenly we are dancing among warm brass and wishing simple visions of courtship upon each other. He gives me a daisy wide as the sky; I wear a skirt that swishes; we laugh and flirt, try to impress each other. The future becomes one fantastic vision of hope and shiny possibility; we can fly to work and dash between the stars.
I think I missed your birthday. I don’t know why I use this space to write notes to you – old habits, it must be. I sometimes wonder what life would have been, otherwise. Who I would have been, if seen through eyes other than R’s.

These ether-futures, spinning out and bleeding like watercolors.

Would I have gone to Berlin, perfected speaking a language that capitalizes nouns? Taken a lot of drugs, stopped, then delivered perfect babies? Would we own a house, would I recognize this other ether-woman? Would I laugh more, or less? Would we watch sunrises or sunsets?

Am feeling subversive and sneaky these days, letting my job book me plane tickets to Canada and beyond while I dart out to interview elsewhere. But I have been looking at people with blank expressions and putting emotion behind the thermostat wars, meaning it may be time to get the hell out. I was talking to Becks yesterday, weaving a tale of sanity and competence, when an old Siamese cat placed himself firmly in my path and stared, cross-eyed, calling my bluff. I met his gazes, ran a hand over his rough fur, and dreamt of all that more means.

stumble on
8 September 2008, 9:13 am
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a search term that some intrepid traveler used to find my site:

“your mom’s got a bird face”

words words
3 September 2008, 3:23 pm
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Trying to remember what it feels like to breathe within numbered space – I did it for so so long, but now this process feels like an old pair of hiking boots, once familiar, once a part of my very core – but now foreign, stiff, covered in mud from other lands. I am not generally nostalgic; time can do what it damn well wants. And yet here we are, this seven-year older woman with scars, squinting at the girl with purple dreadlocks and a screaming can of paint in her hands, ready to rent the universe, not afraid to bleed.
Uncharacteristically mid-morning. The Broadway sun laying an unflattering hand on those still shivering from night. I plot the upcoming interview, weaving words like “social justice” and “equity” as I step around the man shouting his story of being a soldier in Iraq, coming home, being shat upon until his mind broke in two. Around the native-looking woman picking up glass shards, her instrument broken into pieces of light and scattered across the path. Such hypocrisy, this – in my smart pants and mouthing sinker lines – scared to the teeth to look up, too bullheaded to admit to such helplessness.
The heat is creeping into my brain and making this grant proposal exceedingly difficult to concentrate on. When I describe myself to someone else, it seems so glamorous; I help develop programs that really will save the lives of starving children in Africa; I am part of the effort to curb HIV and malaria and a host of vowel-filled monster diseases that don’t seem to ravage rich countries. But lately each day unfolds like I was a stockbroker – egos and nastiness and growing pains I’m not patient enough to live through. And broken air conditioners, and unseasonably warm September afternoons.