Thursday, February 25, 2010

O, the Wind and Rain

I found myself thinking about the Garcia and Grisman song "Dreadful Wind and Rain" today.  It was definitely a crappy day, but as I trudged home from work burning the 8:00 PM oil, and let the snow pelt down onto my hair and into my eyes, I felt a certain refreshment in the walk.  My boots held strong and didn't slip in the slush at all.  And maybe it is the intensity of my days, but walking in the cold and the snow eases my soul. Perhaps it is just that vision of an object, something white and small and fragile, falling gently through the air, that moves me or causes a stillness in my soul - because you don't often just get to see that.  Maybe that's what Joyce was talking about in "The Dead."

Nah, couldn't be.

Anyway, after that devastating Walkmen post, its time to just mention a few points of interest for all ye faithful that follow mine blog.

First, I would like to share a bit of just absolute genius with you.  This comes from a news story about NBA Star, Caron Butler recently of the Dallas Mavericks - and recently of my NBA Trade Deadline Breakdown - and how the NBA has banned him from chewing straws during games, a hobby he has done for years.  Later in the story, it is revealed that another habit of Caron's was outlawed.  Just read:

In summer 2009, Butler blogged on that he had lost 11 pounds just by giving up his daily "addiction" of drinking at least six 12-ounce bottles of Mountain Dew.

"I was going through withdrawals," Butler said on "... Honestly, those first two weeks without the Dew [were] the roughest two weeks of my life. I'm talking headaches, sweats and everything."

Butler said he used to drink the caffeinated soda before Wizards practice and would "knock back two" before games.

Genius.  Just absolute pure genius.

Continuing on the NBA path, if you haven't read the past two Bill Simmons columns, then you really should. He just has his finger on the NBA pulse and provides insights into the league and its players and innerworkings that can only be found on this blog otherwise.  No, you didn't buy that?  Ok, its true he is the best NBA writer out there.  You can read his Trade Value Column or his NBA Quick Fix Column.

In other links, my friend Janelle Sing reminded me of the website of a former classmate of ours in high school.   His name is Brett Jutkiewicz and he has plenty of terrific shorts and features on this website to keep you entertained for hours.  I hadn't seen him in years until this past summer when I ran into him during a pickup basketball game at the gym in that Catholic school on North 7th between Driggs and Bedford. Who knew?

Anyway, coming up we will have more about that theme of history and taking one's place in it yet remaning fluid and not static.  How sports fits in to all that is the challenge I will have to think up.  There is something that ties Joyce and Peyton Manning together, you better believe me.  We'll also have some good book talk.  I've been focusing on my Thomas Wolfe to provide a now honest opinion of a writer I once blindly admired.  I'll write something good.  Of course as basketball season moves closer and closer to the playoffs I will keep you on the edge of your seat especially when Wade comes to the Garden in April and I have less than front row seats, but the advantage of a notebook.

Now, though, the next installment of From Here to the Last Mound of Dirt:

Liza stood up and flattened her skirt against her thighs, the fabric felt soft and cool.  She listened to her shoes as they pushed the carpet on the way to the kneeler.  She reached it and knelt.  When she looked up at the coffin, she first felt nothing.  Liza groped within herself to try and connect the finished wood and gold she saw in front of her, with the final resting place of her mother.  She closed her eyes and pressed her lips close to her pressed knuckles.  The touch made her smile reflexively.  It just looks like a big bed.  An uncomfortable bed, too.  I wouldn’t want to be put into one of those.  But would I want them to burn me?  This is my mother!  Her mind soon turned to thoughts of beds, of James’ big bed with the black blanket and white sheets, to Maggie’s bed that still had that blue and brown patchwork quilt, to her own bed with the white and fluffy douvet, and the pink striped sheets.  But then, her mind led her to Christmas morning.  She was only seven and with the shape of 6:57 from the clock beside her bed behind her she’d moved into the hallway.  Her small feet had padded on the carpet, down the hall to her parents’ room.  She reached up and pulled down the curved handle and the white door swung open to darkness.  At first she saw the red numbers in the darkness of her parents’ room. 6:56.  Then, she felt the first tinge of coldness in her little feet. “I used to carry you around in my pocket. Did you know that?”  That’s what he used to say to me and then mom would just nod at him and smile.  Nod and smile. I feel like much of a girl’s life is spent nodding and smiling.  And is that right or wrong? Even though her feet were cold, her cotton pajama leggings - with Disney figures embroidered in them - kept her warm.  There was The Little Mermaid on her thin thigh, Princess Jasmine on her undefined calf, and Minnie Mouse pointing toward her ankle.  She padded onward toward the dark, soft, square mass that stood outlined in the room. 6:57.  When she was close enough, she slowed her movement and lifted her right, leg onto the bed.  The quilt was soft and cool with air.  She shook this off and raised her other leg up.  She made sure that every move was light.  It made her almost giggle aloud when she heard her father’s snort from further ahead.  There was a tightness to the quilt right by where his feet were.  She could make out their shape; she even touched one, curious if there would be a reaction.  One foot flinched.  The valley between her mother’s form and her father’s form was open.  She lay down in it, listening to the sounds of her parents sleeping.  As she looked up, she saw the darkness turn to ceiling – the off-white color she knew when she’d run in and jump on the bed after school.  The light slowly showed its true color.  All the dark forms of objects she knew were becoming grey, if only in slow progressions of shade.  She couldn’t lay in the valley any longer.  She turned toward her father first and jumped on his shoulder.


He didn’t budge and the room’s grey became a dull orange of the morning.  She heard her mother stir and mumble.  But, then, it was her father who she wanted to wake.  So she redoubled her efforts, propelling and sprawling herself gently across her father’s shoulder like children often do.  His shoulder gave slightly and she could feel its softness.  It seemed, to her, that with each shove she gave her father, each press of the matress, a sort of smell was released out into the room.  The first description would have been stinky, then perhaps stale, but that morning, as she lay and smelt her father’s arm while he woke, she realized that that smell was what she smelled like.  Liza was dismayed, slightly, because a little girl didn’t smell like what her father smelled like: sweat, sleep, laundry, whiskers, his nose.  Little girls were supposed to smell like soap and small touches of their mother’s hug and perfume.  However she was proud of it, because if she smelled like her father, then James smelled like him too, Tom, Maggie, and even her mother – maybe that was the smell of them all, the smell of their home.

Liza opened her eyes.  She had been pulled so far away from the moment.  However, the coffin was sitting exactly where it had been.  That wasn’t even praying, what I was doing.  Those were just memories coming back to me.  Its amazing how I can put memories onto that coffin, onto what is and is not my mother and make them part of me in a way.  Liza readjusted herself on the kneeler and closed her eyes.  She set herself to pray in the way she’d been taught in religion class.  Dear Lord, please take care of my mother as you bring her into this new world she is about to enter.  Please let my father get over this loss easily and also Maggie, James and Tom.  Eve too.  I don’t know how we are going to do it, but we need to try.  I know I can say it better than this, Lord, but I’m sure you understand how tired my brain is.  Liza couldn’t help but open her eyes.  She looked at the coffin again.  Her mind was wandering. Kneeling and praying were not going to help her, she couldn’t formulate a prayer.  I’m sorry, Lord.  I just want to lay between the valley of my mother and father.  She felt stale and she made the sign of the cross.  As she rose, she flattened her skirt against her legs once more.  She hoped that the touch, the smoothness of the fabric would bring her goosebumps, that it would make her feel something important – or at least make her feel alright.  However, she felt nothing.  She bowed her head and clasped her hands as she sat.

Maggie wasn’t sure what to make of her sister.  Watching her rise and sit, it had immediately struck her that Liza was depressed and taking their mother’s death harder than she’d let on.  Maggie’s vision lingered on Liza’s meek and uncomfortable form.  It didn’t surprise her that Liza might take their mother’s death the hardest. She had been the youngest and the last one in the house – the only one of the children who had not been given the chance to see themselves in a relative distance from their parents and also their home.  She couldn’t be sure, and that also upset Maggie, because it had occurred to her the night before that she didn’t know her sister at all and that she had no way of being able to read her.  Maggie had always taken pride in her perception of people’s demeanors and moods – she felt it enhanced her ability to take a good photo.  However, looking at Liza smooth her skirt once more, she felt that she may have neglected her sister – and perhaps her whole family – for too long.  There was a nervous flutter in her stomach and an image of her quiet apartment appeared before her.  One of her sandals rested under the coffee table, her boots lay on their sides by the door.  A sundress of hers was draped on the couch.  Three stainless steel pans were stacked next to the sink, only the top one was clean.  There was no one there to help her clean.  She could not smell Irish Spring soap.

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