uu 22 – wheels w/in wheels


wheels within

22 December 2015 – If I didn’t know any better I’d think I was making up for lost time. No. Not quite. Morelike for not having kept better track of time passing. Now I’m faced with a logjam. A ball of rolled up threads. So densely packed and tightly wound it’s tricky to pick out one without unraveling another.

Wheels within wheels….

Start with this instant.
In a cafe near the museum.
Where I’m to meet Liz in about an hour.

At the risk of straying into distraction, I should note that I’ve been on a fixed schedule at work. Since about mid-November. MWF at the mega-complex near home, T and T downtown (with the inimitable Pat). Both facilities easy for me to get to and from—the former by foot, the latter carpooling with Liz. Took some getting used to but the work routine has rather smoothly expanded to include exercising after work. The elliptical and occasionally a swim on MWF. And when downtown, yoga with Liz. Where we’d be right now had she not a function to preside over.

Spider in a web.

Outside it’s mayhem. Traffic at a standstill. Steady throngs of ballistic bodies and so many huge umbrellas bobbing aloft it seems a confluence of streams has flooded the street. The profligacy of shopping bags reminds otherwise. And here and there the colors of Christmas.

Christmas. Yes. This is what I wanted getting to.

Jeremy Douglas. One of the oddball regulars who comes into the downtown facility. Likes to go by JD. Often at the door waiting for either Pat or me to let him in. Goes for a long sauna to start his day. Like clockwork he’s out front again for his 10 am spliff, ‘to take the edge off.’ Thereafter he sees out the morning in the front sitting area chatting away with one or another of his cronies (there are about four of them—each entering as if clandestinely, none venturing beyond the sitting area save to use the washroom), cycling among them, one by one, never sitting between two of them, and never talking to more than one at a time. It’s like watching a haphazard game of musical chairs.

They mostly talk about the news (favorite topics of late = Donald Trump [particularly as relates to the fluctuating betting odds of him becoming the next President—the sad reality that the deeper he jams foot in mouth the better the odds] and this BigPharma kid, Mark or Marion somethingorother, who’s infamous for jacking up the prices of do-or-die drugs but has recently been collared for securities fraud [or somesuch related gold-collar crime involving silly amounts of money the rest of us could live lives off]), unless JD’s outside smoking weed, in which case the cronies talk about JD as if he were a stranger who just walked in off the street and started blathering nonsense.

Resonating kaleidoscope.

From what Pat says JD’s independently wealthy. Made a mint on futures and has been playing the market ever since. Never touches his nest egg. Lives completely off the interest from his investments. Something of numbers whiz. But socially maladjusted.

His cronies are also financially independent and socially misfit. Pat’s not certain what their stories are, or who’s attached to which story, but one of them lives on a monthly stipend off his father’s estate and another got lucky working for an upstart software company that went from small to huge overnight and sold up.

All of which is preamble to this morning, when JD came up to the counter and asked to use a pen. I said of course and watched as he placed a Christmas card and a book of postage stamps on the counter, followed by a heap of papery things from one coat pocket and from the other a sheaf of lottery tickets and scratch cards. He grabbed a pen. Opened the card. Wrote ‘Coops,’ in a meticulous and surprisingly ornate hand, then stood there awhile looking at the factory inscription and puzzling his chin. Eventually he skipped to the bottom of the card, signing off with, ‘XO, Dad’. Next he lumped the lottery bits inside the card and put it in its envelop. He sealed the envelop, licked and affixed three postage stamps, and wrote out the name Cooper Douglas. Finally he dug through his heap of paper, pulled out an old folded envelop (also to Cooper Douglas, but with an address—all in his ornate handwriting), and copied the address. Which was local and not too far away.

Have to say I was shocked. About, well, all of it.

And it was everything I could do to stop myself saying it would be quicker for him to hand-deliver.

Shit. Gotta go.



uu 21 – tis the season


19 December 2015 – Have to giggle at G’s muddled exposé. A grand if jumpy telling. Must’ve taken him hours. Silly boy. It’s lovely to read. Especially the fickle folk bit. But then I’m biased. Regarding my mood though, about all he had right was that I wasn’t looking forward to going in to work that morning.

Pat, the spiteful hag he alludes to, isn’t really so bad. Just been at her job a long time. (Over 30 years!) In this respect, yes, she is miserable. No denying that. And yes, she can be a bit overbearing at times and is more often than not unnecessarily short with patrons, if not downright rude. But generally she keeps to herself and idles through the day interacting with as few people as possible, ipso facto doing as little ‘work’ as possible. It’s only when she has to deal with atypical requests or has been called away from crosswords or the card game she plays on the computer that her ugly side comes out.

At which point you either go to the washroom or suggest she go for a smoke.

Swirling curlicues.

So, while it is true that I didn’t want to go to work that morning (ostensibly because I’d be working with Pat), the crucial (and missing) piece of information is why.

See now the thing of it is that I only work twice a week with Pat. Tuesdays and Thursdays. That morning was a Tuesday. Toward the end of the previous Thursday I’d discovered a stash of Christmas decorations in storage—for a Christmas fool such as I this was as delightful as presents under a tree on the morning of the day itself. In my excitement I brought the boxes to the front desk and set about rummaging. Pat was’t at all keen. She humphed and sighed and, over the top of her reading glasses, said she hoped I didn’t expect her to clean up any mess I might make. To keep the peace I packed everything away and neatly stowed the boxes aside for my next shift. Crossing my fingers that in the meantime she wouldn’t have a scrooge attack and throw out the boxes or otherwise commit a vile act of Christmas sabotage.

Nothing of the sort happened. The boxes were where I’d left them. Pat was her customarily disinclined self. Leaving me alone to play with the decorations. Once I’d started putting them up the whole place seemed to brighten. Some of our regulars lent a hand and by late morning, miracle of miracles, even Pat got into it.

Which brings me to real reason I was out of sorts upon coming home last Tuesday.

After such an uplifting day making the magic of Christmas happen at work it was a bit of letdown to not see any indication of Christmas at home.

Boo hoo.

As it turned out G and Liz had every intention of bringing Christmas home. They’d bought lights and decorations and had a tree hidden away in the greenhouse out back. The initial plan was for Liz to keep me occupied for the afternoon two Sundays ago, giving G the necessary time to prepare my surprise. Unfortunately, when the day arrived G couldn’t get out of bed.

Fast forward to last Friday.

Came home to Christmas lights on the front of the house. Such a surprise I did a double-take as I was coming up the walk.

Noticing the lights was one thing. And a nicely glowing thing at that. But the split-second of stalled momentum also opened my eyes to a deeper awareness: this will probably be the first Christmas I won’t spend at the house I grew up in.

I continued up the walk. Admiring the lights (blue icicles) and feeling warm about G putting them up—Christmas so far as he and Liz have known it has never been about celebrating the season or associated yuletide ephemera (Santa, elves, stockings, reindeer, sleighs, jingling bells, spiked and nutmeg dusted eggnog, turkey and ham, advent calendars, trees, tinsel, stars, shiny and frosted baubles, nativity scenes—or even snow, for that matter). Family and gift-giving, yes, but otherwise none of the home and hearth stuff I have such fond memories of.

Not that it’s been particularly festive the last few years. Dad still likes to get the house all done up and brings out all the old decorations etc. But it hasn’t felt the same since Marcus passed and the relationship between mom and dad started falling apart.

All the more reason to feel grateful for G and Liz.

Who, as I got in the front door, were in the acts of rocking out to Thin Lizzy and plugging in the lights they’d just wrapped around our very own (and real) Christmas tree.

They looked like I’d caught them with their pants down.

Bless their home-making hearts.

uu 20 – that famous place


Stirred from bedridden delirium by the unmistakable sound of carollers merrily ringing in the season. Given my feverish state and the thickness of the congestion in my head I thought I had to be imagining it. I sat up to listen and heard true the faint élan of choral cheer, chased by tipsy adult laughter.

Slipped into robe. Stole woozily down the stairs. Took up guarded position at the front window. Peeking thru curtains saw the carollers huddled in the driveway across the street. No longer singing but continuing to laugh. Sipping at steaming paper cups. Cajoling and cavorting. Every gesture filled with gladness and enhanced by the sheets of paper in their hands. They had been rehearsing and were now beginning to disperse to their cars. Their sheets of paper fluttering farewells. Big grins on early Christmas faces.

Contagious stuff.

Found myself smiling and came back upstairs with a spring in my step. No sniffling nor coughing, not even an ache. 

So here I am.
In your boudoir.
Making shadows.
It is has just gone 8 pm.
December 8, 2015.
Liquid sounds abound.
It is raining.

You are with Liz.
At the museum.
Family Night.
I should be there too.
But here is good.
In this famous place
called Now.

Where I’ve haphazardly scribbled a doodle on an open page. Looks like an oddly shaped bird with strange legs. 

Hmm. Something else lurking. A shift in perception. What I see now is—well, let me go about it thisaways….

Have it in the murk of mind you almost didn’t go out this evening. On pretext of caring for your sick ol’ boy. (Gratitude.) But I wasn’t the whole story. (On occasion, Ms. UU, I can be somewhat perceptive.) That slightly beleaguered tone in your voice when I asked after your day. The hesitation in how you answered. Not wishing to cover ground already trodden. Forgetting that this morning you mentioned you weren’t looking forward to going into work. Because you’d be working with that spiteful hag who it seems has a knack for fouling your mood.  

Miserable people beget their own misery and do their best to make those around them at least momentarily miserable. 

Dad used to call such people ‘fickle folk’ and say that they can’t help themselves. The first time I remember him using this terminology we were at an airport. Some woman was losing her shit about something. Liz and I were, I don’t know, under 10. Dad pulled us aside, set to his haunches, said what he had to say, and appeared to be satisfied that he’d made the most of this teachable moment.

But quizzical Liz had to ask why.  

Dad smiled and tousled Liz’s hair. (He loved it when she sought more involved explanations. Meant he had to dig a little deeper. [Pun intended.])

The explanation he came up with went something like:

Most people build imaginary rooms in which to store away the things they don’t understand or dislike about the world. The rooms are small and simple and are only meant for storage. Fickle folk aren’t content with either simple or small rooms—and they loathe the idea leaving well enough alone. Instead they build temples. The bigger and the taller the better. They make such a fuss of their temples that they forget the temples are imaginary and lose themselves in the construction of their fabrication (and vice versa). Over time, fickle folk discover they’ve built their temples so big and tall their heads are in a mess a bad clouds.

A roundabout way of saying some people are resentful of the choices they’ve made and hold no bones about expressing their resentment. Still, dad’s version was exactly the kind that would’ve pacified Liz—or sent her into visualizations of temples and clouds etc.

Which is what I see in that scribbled doodle. A temple in the clouds with a sharply pitched mountain rising beyond. Although, you know, the more I look at it the less convinced I am. I keep seeing the bird.

Oh well.

Clouds disappear. Time collapses.

And now
in this famous place

I hear you and Liz
at the front door
trying to quiet
tipsy adult laughter
and failing wonderfully.