|MAY 1999 Part 3|
|The sun came out this evening, but offered no apologies. It had the character of someone who knows hes in disfavor, but hopes the force of his personality will make up for his mistakes. He hopes well be happy to see him. Look, everyone - Mr. Suns here! Instead he gets hard looks, indifferent handshakes. And then in the kitchen a drunk gets into an argument with Mr. Sun, and punches him. Screams of pain! GOD IT HURTS ITS SO HOT OH IT HURTS SO MUCH And then everyone looks at Mr. Sun with naked hatred. Just go, will you? Just - go.
Let me walk this metaphor back a few steps. The sun came out this evening, but offered no apologies, because it isnt sentient. Its a distant ball of gas incapable of speech, let alone an exchange of social niceties designed to mask and dissuade aggressive behavior. It -
Ah, to hell with it.
Woke from my nap this evening and heard the peeping of birds and the ear-piercing shriek of children; looked at the window and saw a glow outside the shades. Sun! After days of dimness, this looked like a gift, a release: the prison gates were open again, go out, walk free. Of course, the sun made a cameo appearance last evening as well - within minutes, the sidewalks were full of neighbors. Dozens of kids on Big Wheels, chatting moms, romping dogs . . .then the clouds came and scowled and everyone slumped inside to endure another night of pizzling rain. Today was no better. But like I said, the sun came out near the end of the day, and gave everyone hope for tomorrow. All over the city you could hear the gentle clack of razor blades being put down, of running water washing away the dotted lines on peoples wrists. There is hope again.
Typically for men of my generation: Im glad I didnt have to serve, and I wish I had. Speaking in retrospect, of course.
I knew a few who volunteered; had one as a roommate, actually. In college. He had spent his stint in Germany sucking wedges of hash the size of new potatoes. Those were the pre-Reagan days of the military, the days of the Hollow Army. Now we have an overworked military exhausted by too many deployments and demoralized by a change in the culture. Its the French Fried Army: fried on the outside, mushy on the inside!
With wisdom like that, I could be a soundbite pundit.
Today was inconsequential but productive; tomorrow, another column, another supper, another nap, another night hunched over the machinery . . . but: sun. Tomorrows clear and warmer, and I expect when I walk outside in the morning to visit the creek with the dog, the memory of all those dreary days will be gone, replaced by the lush bright sight of a fresh May day. We forgive the sun every time. And the son of a bitch knows it.
Sun, sun, sun; will it never end? More than 14 hours of blaring light today, unceasing, undimmed, merciless, hateful. People are walking around in confusion and fear, followed by strange dark apparitions that seem to mock their every step; scientists call them shadows, and explain them away as natural phenomena, but still the goodfolk of the land are unnerved. These shadows leave us when we enter buildings, then fall behind us when we emerge again; within the safe cool walls of our buildings, we fear these shades are milling around, conspiring, trading tales of our journeys, plotting some revolt when we emerge again into the pitiless blare of the yellow eye above. How I long for a cloudy day, the comfort of rain, the solitude of a walk without the long gray ghost trailing behind me.
Lo! The Looming Abyss! Well, Ive always thought the abyss was just a step ahead; I have some sort of catastrophizing dread-gene buried deep in my bones. When I was six I woke up in the middle of the night convinced I had heart cancer. But there are times when you envy the morons, the cheery souls who bounce from day to day bitching about co-workers and reruns, the sort of people who you find in small Wisconsin bars at age 74 smoking Pall Malls and cackling over last nights pulltab haul.
O, tis a curse to be Deep.
No, its just a pain to be nervous. Part of this goes back to the Great Disillusionment that happened sometime in the last 5 years - the realization, which strikes most everyone at some point, that human nature is not going to be fixed in your lifetime. Damn. Anyway, its a stupid mood to have in the spring, what with Minneapolis and the creek lush and overgrown, the blue skies spattered with birdsong, the creek burbling its sibilant lullaby. These things outlast any of us. But they are not good, or bad; they simply are. Natural beauty is amoral, and the Romantics to the contrary, it doesnt mean anything, it just is. (I mean the 19th century artists, not the 80s rock band.) (What I like about Yews! / You really know how to bud! / When you put roots down / In the ground / Taking substance from the mud! Yeah!)
Actually, no. I take it back. Human nature is not perfectible, but people can act in more perfect ways. Reading this book about the Spartans, I realize that the ancients would have laughed if a foe bombed the wrong building, or apologized for killing civilians. The entire point of war was to kill civilians. (After theyd been raped or robbed.) Id venture to suggest that the West still manifests signs of the long slow halting crawl towards Enlightenment. But that would be chauvinistic and disrespectful of other cultures.
Where I am going with this? Simple: to bed.
A storm is moving in, and it doesnt care who knows it. The trees are full of gossip, but half the time their worries come to naught. Tonight, however, a storm would seem correct - a warm day and warm night are best followed by a 2 AM storm, a sharp crack of thunder, a troubled mutter of thunder. In the hours before a storm, normal sounds seem nervous and somewhat frantic - the car whizzing down the street a few blocks away sounds like its fleeing; the quick tinkling jangle of dogtags makes you think of a beast and a man heading for shelter, not a pair of friends out for an evenings stroll.
Which reminds me: its been a while since Ive headed down to the creek at midnight with Jasper. I think well take a walk when Im finished here.
Ill take the society that aims low and overshoots the mark than the one that aims at heaven and shoots its fellow man in the head.
Off to the creek - dark, frightening, full of trees with arms and the ghosts of squirrels long dead.
The microwave is sick. I might have to put it down soon. Oh, Ive been through this before, as a kid; my dad bought a microwave in the late 60s for use at the station, a means to cook sandwiches for hungry travellers. It was a powerful beast; when you set it on high, people on the other side of town felt their fillings twinge. I used to love to play with that machine, roasting various experiments on lazy summer afternoons. I always learned something, and the blisters on my skin usually went down by nightfall. One day I went to the station and the microwave was gone. Dad said hed sold it. Sold it! I dont think I ever forgave him.
Now I have my own, and I love it dearly, but I think its ill. The rotating plate doesnt rotate - it goes an inch to the left, then back to the right, as if shaking its head in confusion. Last night it had an accident - burned a bag of popcorn. I hope its not suffering.
People tell me I should wait a while, then get a new one, but it wont be the same. I know this microwave. I know its quirks, its personality. I know how to reset the clock when the fuses blow. Every microwave is different; they all have different interfaces, and I tire at the thought of training myself to adapt to another one. But I have to face facts. It has to be put down. Well meet again, in the Rainbow Kitchen.
Sorry - I need to compose myself -
Did the BBC interview. I had four segments to my bit. The host asked four questions, each of which led directly to my segment. It must have sounded as if I was improvising brilliantly, when I was just unspieling my planned routine.
In other words: the radio is reading my mind tonight, or vice versa. I think Ill listen to some CDs now.
Then the rain began again.
We headed back into the woods and ran the last lenght before the rain really pelted down. It was still raining this morning. It was raining at noon. It rained harder from one to five. It stopped raining half an hour before sunset - a mere smear of purple on the horizon - then it clouded over again. Rain predicted through Tuesday, with cooler temps. Half the city is on the verge of screaming and the other half wants to kill something. Its not the rain so much as the knowledge that this precious interval of Outside Time, this holy gap between winter and winter has been diminished and sullied. SCREW IT! Im moving to Arizona.