Thursday, January 5, 2012

Teary Eyes

"Hope your meteor sighting was more successful than mine. Got up at 3am and went to the middle of the front lawn, my eyes were tearing it was so cold and I saw nuttin. Big bust. They aren't even talking about it on the news. Hmmm"
  Ms. D-

I did "mock interviews" most of the day, preparing for my next research project with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Then it was some writing, some reading, some feeding the furnace.  I even let that furry feline called Butt-strand into the basement this evening... that's how cold it is. Buttstrand has no manners and relishes taking a shit anywhere but the litter box.  It must be 10 degrees or below or she stays in the cat box, which is built into the basement window, and where she remains, if not luxuriously accommodated, quite warm and free to gorge herself at the outside feeding station.  I should point out, Buttstrand was a wild barn-cat before she was dropped off here by a malicious cow-farmer.  I have supported her for nearly ten years, but our affection for each other has grown not one i-owe-ta.

Funny, but I was thinking about Ms D- when I came in this evening. I was mopping up some snow clods from the laundry room floor and cursing the poor design of my Timberland treads. Ivan, my old shoe-making buddy, once explained to me me why certain boots track snow and mud in such dismaying quantities, while others with equally thick and soulful rubber, don't.  Its the bevel people.  It's all about the bevel.  

Beveled Treads
If the treads of the boot do not bevel like little sawed off pyramids rising from the underbelly of the soul, if instead they are parallel to one another like the narrow streets of a Barcelona barrio (which actually tip toward one another often as not), then the mushy gunk you've walked through will hang on when you stomp your feet at the door and like a bride in arms, it will cross the threshold with you.  Then, mysteriously, its bombs away wherever the most damage can be done; a cream colored bedroom carpet if one is silly enough to traverse it shod.  

My downfall?  If I manage to slip out of the ol' Timbers before walking into the kitchen or through the living room; if the laces are loose, and I can toe them off right at the door before I go about unburdening myself of the bag of groceries balanced on one arm and the car keys, book and half empty coffee cup on the other, then for a while, the glistening hardwood floors return my smile. But you know what?  Those little monkeys of filth, those gooey gorillas that climbed into the forest of synthetic tread now parked on my Persian welcome rug; those semi-solidified slush puppies and potter's clay cling-ons that have stowed away in this trademarked brand like Cuban refugees in the wheel wells of a Miami bound DC-10; well now the little fuckers play possum.  They take a nap.  They go to sleep on invisible hammocks strung wall to wall between those injection molded waffle prints.   So patient are the mud apes, that as the boot's leather uppers dry and their water proofed patina revives, the evidence of the previous days inclement journey fades.  Mind goes tabula rasa.  Tiger paws become kitten innocent.  And the monkeys of filth are forgotten.  

Barrio of Mud Apes
A day later, I might put them back on.  The sun is out, its a new morning and I have discarded any recollection of the dirty places we traveled together.   It will take a step or two.  The souls must flex, the leather uppers must creek, and then comes the ruthless awakening: "Ahhhhh.. eeeee... ahhh..ahhh..." (that's a Tarzan call).  Down swing the dried mud apes from their underworld nests, dispersing in fragments like wild onion seeds, or better yet, stale chunks of Hansel and Gretel's French bread marking every step I've taken.  Of course, suffering as I do from adult ADD, I never put my boots on and just leave the house.  No, I zig-zag back and forth in overlapping patterns, picking up a forgotten wallet here, a pair of reading glasses there, the grocery list, the check book, a piece of fruit, perhaps even that to-go cup of coffee. Then comes the disastrous climax.  I am taken with the inspiration to retrieve my favorite in-progress novel from the night stand housed in the sanitary confines of my nocturnal chamber; the room previously mentioned sporting the wall to wall cream colored carpet.  

"NOOOOOOOOOOO!"  (One's critical parent can be quite ruthless at this point.)  

So before you buy that next pair of shit-kickers, check to be sure they have the beveled tread and you won't find yourself in the laundry room down on your hands and knees, head next to the toilet bowl, wiping up dirty snow puddles and thinking about a woman named Ms D-, pleasant though those thoughts might be.  

For there I found myself, positioned like a worshipper of Allah, a ream of Bounty paper towels in hand ("the quicker picker upper"), pondering how incredible it was that so much of Ms D-'s personality could have been captured in the brief email she had sent me.   Three, maybe four short sentences and I had a fully developed picture in mind of the red-nosed astronomer, house robe over ratty jammies, arms in a lotus knot against the chill, blond mane thrown back, eyes gazing sky-ward like a she-wolf entranced by a voluptuous moon; waiting, amongst icy clouds of breath, for the stars to start falling.  

Of course, that in turn got me thinking about printed text versus auditory or visual communication. The written word seems to melt in the mind and saturate cognition more thoroughly, perhaps because our imagination is such an active ingredient in the process.  In the end, this evokes a sum-total-impression far greater than its written parts.  Now, if we allow the brain's creative angels to add a patrol car to the image, with one cop saying to the other, "looks like we got a real wacko on our hands" then you're off and running with some true big-top entertainment!  

Yes, I've been thinking a lot about words and the art of writing these days.  I suppose I'm going a little stir-crazy here on the farm.  Good thing the National Survey Of Early Care and Education begins Monday. The creative mind needs an outlet as much as idle hands need the Devil!

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