Monday, April 30, 2012

Day 26: Pobject's handmade quilt

From up above it’s hard to say what’s growing
in these fields, but you can tell from
their geometry that
    hundreds of hands (thousands, if not millions,
over time)

are digging, scraping, shaping,
putting plants into the earth and pulling
them out
               again. From here
it’s a busy quilt in emerald, jade, and malachite –

and cruising at 30,000 feet I can have an

Ubuntu – I am because
we are –
might make more sense to us
if we could fly

and take the time to hover over
one another’s heads every now and then.

Favorite sweatshirt

When I think of The Cosby Show, which is probably too often to be proud of, my thoughts usually find their way to one classic character from the early episodes.  Peter, Rudy’s friend, was round and quiet, a follower more than a leader but not afraid to be the only boy at Rudy’s slumber party.  Whether Peter and Rudy were attempting to make grape jelly – an attempt that ended with his classic running exit out the Cosby's front door and a mess in the their kitchen – or Cliff’s leg attempting to be an equal opportunity horse, even with the hefty Peter, he always seemed to have on the same, basic uniform:  an 80’s sweat suit. 

I wonder what Peter liked about them so much.  Was it the comfort of the forgiving elastic waist, their casual and laidback style, the security of the elastic around the ankles, or maybe the sweat suits were hand-me-downs from an older sibling?  Even if someone on the show had asked Peter, I doubt he would have provided an answer.  He rarely spoke at all.  But, if he had decided to voice his answer, I believe it would go something like this:  They are my favorite.

Bowling ball

If I used bumpers
every time I bowled, I would
be under the illusion that I am a
pretty good bowler.  It would not be
the sound of a ball slipping into the gutter
that would come to mind when I recalled my last
game.  That noise would be replaced with
the sweeping sound of a perfectly
placed, solidly rolled bowling
ball knocking down each
and every pin in its
wooden path.

Black construction paper

Some Ideas for Lobject's Leftovers

A lamb’s head, an owl’s eyes, the pot a leprechaun was always chasing at the end of a rainbow, and a cat’s whole body – except for his nose, eyes, and perhaps his whiskers. 

A panda in patches, a snowman’s coal eyes and top hat, an entire ant with all six legs, a penguin – except for his tummy and beak.

A spider and even its web, a bat flapping in the night sky, and the backdrop of snow falling on a cold, winter night.

A ladybug’s body and her spots, a witch’s hat and dress, a zebra in splotches, a bowling ball with the holes placed to make a triangle.

The stenciled letters on a yellow school bus, a bumblebee’s stripes and stinger, most of a milking cow, and even the body and antennas of a fluttering butterfly.

Santa’s belt, strips for a tiger, a birthday card claiming someone is “over the hill," a watermelon’s seeds, Dora’s haircut into a bob.

While I am sure there are more, these are some of the ways you could use the black construction paper that is always leftover from those colorful packs.

Day 30: Lobject’s highway mileage sign

As soon as we pulled onto 485 I’d light two cigarettes, passing one to the left and rolling down the window. We find a god song and turn it up, listening to music until the skyline was behind us.
These dark Sundays night all look the same now. We left Charlotte later than intended. Monica didn’t want to say goodbye. I’d worked third shift at the Waffle House and my sleep schedule was off. We were headed back to college—a five hour trip we once cut down to four hours after following an ambulance through most of the Greensboro to Raleigh stretch.
“Keep me awake. Tell me about your weekend.” She smiled excitedly. We went everywhere and at any time of day or night. I was always awake.  I slept once in the car with Monica when I was very sick.
There was always good Waffle House drama. We called 911 for various reasons. One night someone drove into the restaurant. Once, everyone in the store watched a car on fire speed down highway 51. Drunk assholes would try to stiff us on busy nights. Often, I knew before it happened. No eye contact and everyone ordering the same thing were giveaways. I’d always let them get in their car before calling with the make, model and direction headed. Fighting was common, too. Usually it was lots of yelling between tables. Occasionally there was a fight we (well, people stronger than me) pushed outside where the fight was no longer our problem and usually fizzled out. One night, though, a guy slammed another’s head into every window pane, jerking him around the building quite effortlessly. I remember admiring the speed in which he moved. He was not drunk. I assumed the guy getting beat up was a bad man. He cheated on the other’s sister or maybe assaulted his wife—something to warrant exact revenge.      
We timed out our cigarettes at first. One an hour. The later it got, the more frequent the cigarettes. My stories usually lasted until Greensboro or Raleigh. Monica went through her weekend’s activities, too. And then we saw the home-stretch sign: Greenville 77 miles. The sign woke us up, told us we were close, and gave us permission to be silly. I’m pretty sure there were more than 77 miles until Greenville from that sign, but we believed it nonetheless. That sign let us know we were close to home. When we saw the sign on ECU t-shirts mocking NC State fans, it was a way to keep the sign and show our pirate pride forever.  

Day 29: Lobject’s bookmark

Most often it’s a piece of notebook
paper or a notecard—something I
can write on when margins are tiny
or ideas are larger than white space,
something I can deconstruct into
shreds if marking multiple pages
became mandatory, something I
can easily transform into a paper
airplane or grocery list. But it starts,
most often, as blank canvas paper.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Highway mileage sign

It had been a long weekend.  A Jimmy Buffett concert came to be jokingly referred to as “the double date from hell” as my college roommate Amy and I ended up attending it with our ex-boyfriends.  We were all friends.  We had bought the tickets months before, and when things ended on good enough terms, we decided we were mature enough to all have fun together. 

The concert turned into a thunderstorm, the stadium transformed into a giant mud puddle, and our “dates” morphed into drunken buffoons.  When my ex finally made his way back to the car hours after the thunderstorm and concert had ended, he was covered and caked in mud.  His only explanation was a slurred, “Some hippies threw me down a hill.” 

The night only got worse when our “dates” ended up taking off their clothes – mine because he couldn’t get in the car with all of that mud and Amy’s because “if he gets to be naked, then I want to be also.” Amy and I ended up in tears.  Who wants to be in a cold car after a lousy concert with two drunk, smelly, and unclothed college guys?  Our breaking point came when they refused to put their clothes back on.

The next day, on our way home from Raleigh to Greenville, Amy was determined to salvage some aspect of the weekend.  Always finding the sunny side of things, she said, “Let’s stop and take a picture with the highway mileage sign you always giggle at!”  I grumbled a non-reply, and she pulled the car over to the side of the road.

Wedding band

I never look to see if someone is wearing a wedding band.  Why would I care?  Never… Except when I see someone sleeping in public.  I can’t help it.  People who fall asleep in public are a fascination, almost a hobby but not quite that cynical.

I’m not saying I always notice each and every person I encounter who happens to have fallen asleep in public, but if I do notice them, I in.

The first thing I look for, and I’m not quite sure why, is a wedding band.  Are they married?  Or do they, at least, think they are married? 

Today, at the local tea shop where we often come to do work, there was a flanneled man with long white grey hair and a collar-length white beard  - a cast boot on his right, broken foot -who happened to fall asleep while lounging at the Teapot.  His legs were stretched out, his posture relaxed, his arms bent at awkward angles.  I craned my neck, up out of my laptop and book, stretching to see his hidden, left hand, no more than five feet away. 

Although he had been asleep for a while, my stare must have shaken him awake.  His eyes popped open, staring straight at me.  I offered an embarrassed smile, as that was all I could offer, being so blatantly caught, and my eyes returned to my laptop as he gathered up his plastic bags, murmuring a grumble to himself.  He got up off the couch he had made his bed, checked his balance and the weight he could out on his injured foot, and his right side profile walked unevenly out of the front door. 

I never got to see if he was wearing a wedding band or not, but I like to imagine that he left to return home where his wife had made him stew - a nice, thick, warm meal for the unexpected chill of this late spring day.  He would remove his layer of flannel and sit with her, sharing the events of their days.  She went to the grocery store.  He caught an odd girl staring at him for no reason while he sat, bothering no one, at his favorite teashop.

Energy efficient light bulb

When I see these four words together, a specific image pops into my mind.  It was a picture painted by an article I read a couple of years ago about the oldest, still working light bulb – at that time 110 years old.  It dangles from a line keeping watch over fire engines in a small town in northern California – a nightlight for the brave machines resting until their next call to duty. The fragile line of spiral carbon filament inside the hand blown bulb remains constantly illuminated.  It has glowed that way since my grandparents were children, since their parents were newlyweds.  

The product of true capitalism, its inventor competed against several others to invent the best bulb.  The light’s success is suppose to be due to “good old fashioned engineering," and to some, it serves as a reminder of how some things were better made in the past.  All of the other competitors' bulbs, including Edison’s if my memory serves me correctly, burned too quickly and too bright, until they had nothing left to do but explode.  All except for this one bulb, which just got brighter with the increasing voltage.
Today, the bulb has grown a little dim - at least the image of it in my mind has it glowing a little dimmer.  But it brightens up a bit when hearing stories of good things gone by. 


We never had an ice cream truck snake through our neighborhood,
the playground of my childhood.  We never heard
the signaling bells of sticky treats while building a fort,
playing hide-and-go-seek, or climbing those huge magnolias.

Instead, when the heat got to be too much or we just wanted
something small and sweet, all the neighborhood kids would
gather at the perfumed arching shrubs, twining vines that
consumed the fence marking Mr. Whichard’s property line.

The flowered bells, willing and generous, shared their juice
with us, and the occasional hummingbird or butterfly.