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Day 530, December 7, 2021

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The Last Diner Eggs and toast,  left over stir-fry,  pad Thai.  Every day my car starts with a Tom Petty song.  Today there were no photogra/phs,  I ran up a long hill like an old Asian man,  and best laid plans were laid to waste.  In a few days I will have a day off,  and then another.  Children change their plans,  landing on Wednesday,  then Thursday.  One city,  and then another.  I forget to bring one thing,  but then remember another.  Someone is waiting in a very long line.  Did you blow me a kiss?  It is hard to tell behind a mask.  We will surprise one another some day,  when we can see each other’s faces.  I can imagine sleeping for a very long time.  I wait for a drink,  a bite of food,  an inanimate object,  to give me pleasure.  Maybe I will join a religion,  align with a political affiliation,  imbibe in doctrinal Marxism,  become an guileless entrepreneur,  learn how to fix refrigerator ice makers,  believe in something.  How many beginnings does one person get?  Someti

Day 529, December 6, 2021

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Getting Ready Over the weekend I put the snow tires on the car, and today the LBS (local bike shop) called to say the winter bicycle tires I ordered have arrived. I’m almost ready for the snow. Some how, each year, we get used to the cold. I’m not sure how, but it happens. Like swimming in the ocean at Cape Cod, eventually your breathing returns to its natural pace and the burning numbness in your extremities fade into a dull ache.  It was raining today, so I drove. I’ve been listening to a Chang-Rae Lee novel, My Year Abroad . He is a master of metaphor. These marvelous constructions, finely wrought descriptions, land in rapid fire succession like images flying off a zoetrope and coming to life. He is almost too good where I get distracted by his construction and I lose track of the narrative. I imagine he must be a fantastic MFA teacher somewhere and his students read his novels like how-to manuals. When I was in grade school, I sent away several dollars for an advertisement in the b

Day 524, December 1, 2021

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Finishing I have been back to work long enough that I have finished listening to my first Audible book (Murakami’s Sputnik Sweetheart ) since the pandemic began. I only listen when I drive, and I settled on Murakami after dabbling in a couple of different podcasts. It is wonderful to listen to a good book, it makes you savor stoplights, linger at crosswalks, and close your eyes before turning off the car and unbuckling your seatbelt.  Murakami wrote about living in dreams, and I started to think about a dream I dreamt a long time ago. I was in an airport and my grandfather was there. I was translating for him, but something was getting lost in the translation. I don’t think I knew either language I was trying to convey, and that was part of the problem. Like all dreams, this one is frayed at the edges, and some of the finer details are lost, like the seats at the airport gate. They were hard blue fiberglass like at the Cleveland bus station. The walls were painted corrugated steel. The

Day 523, November 30, 2021

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Tucson, Arizona On the evening of December 8th, it was late, after dinner, and we were at Uncle Sam’s house. The younger kids were asleep, and I was keeping myself company with the little transistor radio with fiddly reception so you always had to hold the antenna just so, or hold the antenna just so while adjusting the station dial with your thumb until the station came into focus across a field of static, distortion, and garbled alien communication.  I didn’t know much about the Beatles except that John was my man. My father had two non-classical albums in our house, one was Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book,  the other was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  I remember playing with the cutout insert. I don’t think I ever succumbed to the compulsion to take out a pair of scissors. I was never good at cutting straight and probably would have botched it. I also knew my friend Andy’s dad had every Beatles album ever pressed. After the divorce, Andy and his dad moved away to Cambridge in

Day 522, November 29, 2021

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I Dream of Excuses We knew it was going to happen,  like snow falling from a roof,  the ginkgo tree’s day,  a sad wobbling chicken,  the collapse of a Halloween pumpkin,  the car that gets louder and louder,  the ache that continues unabated. There is an eagerness to inevitability.  The way a spouse eyes the last French fry,  how a dog scratches the door,  the words to an email I have forgotten to write. I dream of excuses.  All the while, the pallor becomes more complex.  It is hard to read the fine print in a moving car.  I am sorry it has been so long, I have been ill,  I was traveling, it was the holidays,  I couldn’t find a chicken,  the steps needed fixing,  I was trying to pretend the world is not changing,  becoming a new dangerous thing . I wonder if you will forgive me,  I wonder if you will love me,  I wonder if you harbor unspoken words  that will remain unspoken and eat at your insides  like a chocolate Easter bunny. In time we will spend our days listening.  Like after th

Day 511, November 18, 2021

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Forgetfulness The ability to continue,  the inability to continue.  A quiet house  where even the dog  stays curled into a cashew on the couch.  It is unseasonably warm,  which will make each subsequent day  all the more painful,  so easy is it to forget suffering  and cold thighs.  The geese are raucous.  I imagine the apologies I will make  for not being present,  for still catching up,  for not catching up.  A day like today people are reborn  or at least eat lunch outside  and think about the long legs of summer.  A day like today makes one close one’s eyes while walking  and pretend paths are revealed with each step.  And still there are the pangs,  the labored breathing of the pandemic,  the effort of tying to emote enthusiasm or care through a face mask.  If I carried beads, I would run them through my fingers.  If I listened to Mozart I might listen to Piano Concerto No. 21.  If I recited poetry from memory I might recite Neruda’s “Keeping Still.”  If I wore crop top shirts, I

Day 510, November 17, 2021

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How it Begins It begins with the ending,  the loss,  a whispered conversation of men talking so quietly,  that he must lean in close,  their heads almost touching.  They are almost like old friends,  but really they are like fallen leaves,  and have only landed near each other,  the lamina touching,  the dampness of the earth reminding them of earthworms.  The whispered conversation becomes inaudible  and it is one man nodding as if in agreement,  but really,  he has ceased hearing the conversation,  he has stopped trying to listen,  their heads are drifting apart and  one man is remembering what he has lost.  The mind can play with time  and make him believe he is not such an old man,  that he is once again useful,  desirable,  that he could protect someone  or win someone.  That he could take a lover,  or more than one.  That he could eat and drink  without remorse.  For a moment  it seems he could strike the other man down  and walk away as one might drop a piece of trash  and prete