Saturday, February 13, 2010

Small Updates

Saturday morning.  Found this picture while cleaning up the old computer.  This was from about a year ago I believe.

Small little update to some of the content on the site.  Now, at the top, you will see that I have added the "Blogger" function called "Pages."  I now have a separate page as part of this blog, which is aptly titled - Puddles of My Friends.  This is a space I will be using to post up live events that my friends are putting on.  This could include concerts, art shows, recitals, pick-up basketball games, eating chinese food, etc.  As they let me know I will let you know, which is actually one in the same so now this have become sort of meta, hasn't it?  So check it out up at the top.

Anyway, the rave reviews are coming in for my 1992 NBA All-Star Game play by play.  This has led me to think about doing a play by play for tomorrow night's game.  I think I may try to do that but ultimately just make some notes about it.  I'll have my dog at the apartment as well so I'll be busy.


Speaking of NBA All-Star, the Rookie/Sophmore game last night was a real treat to watch.  I'll be providing my thoughts on that game when I do the whole All-Star rundown after the weekend.  Dunk Contest and the rest of the Skills Competitions are tonight. 

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

Maggie turned toward the door.  It was hard to discern from the wall.  She went to take a step forward, but before she did she looked at James.  He didn’t make a move.  Maggie stepped –there is something off about him.  What is he trying to prove by this?  How is he playing this into his favor?  Get rid of this imposter and give me my brother! – toward the door.  She took one step after the other, watching her feet on the red carpet.  As she reached the door, she went to touch the gold square that served as the handle.  The tips of her fingers touched the gold and she turned back to the front entrance of the home.  There was only a slant of light coming in.  It’ll be a beautiful funeral.

Maggie faced the door and slid it open.  A strong blast of mixed perfumes hit her and she was overwhelmed. Death smells so much like life.  A garden, I guess.  She couldn’t focus on the people, the family that were there.  All she could see was the coffin standing up above the seated figures.  There were flowers – of course – but she only saw the form of the coffin, its smooth looking edges, the shining wood finish.  The gold that lined the sides.  Maggie felt like crying as she sniffed in the overbearing scent of wellwishers.  Is Liza going to cry?  Is James?  An image came into her mind of standing next to him at church on Easter.  She’d kept stomping his boot with her heel.  But he didn’t do anything.  He’d just looked at her, no emotion at all.  How did he do it?

She looked back and James was right behind her, still holding Eve’s hand.  He wasn’t looking at the coffin.  He had his eyes set on a man, tall and gaunt, standing at the far corner of the room.  His face was well defined by sharp cheekbones and, although it was reddish with a few lines by the eyes, held a vitality and ease in its skin.  Uncle Connor’s hair was full, whisping by his ears – a little longer than Dad’s – where the brown seamlessly became grey – a little greyer than Dad’s.

Maggie followed James’ glance.  She looked at Uncle Connor standing upright, very straight as he always had.  He looked like Thomas Jefferson – or at least what Thomas Jefferson’s portrait appeared as.

“Do you see?” Maggie whispered to James.

“Of course I do.”

“Does he?”

Maggie craned her head past James and saw her father staring at Uncle Connor. Uncle Connor remained unmoved by their presence.  He kept his head bowed.  Maggie had been so taken in by his presence that she hadn’t noticed Aunt Erin sitting in the chair right in front of him.  The man stands and the woman sits.  It’s like that in so many ways. Not only in the bathroom – though I did sit and pee while he stood and shaved before we had sex – but in the many other poses of life.  Now where’s my camera?

She felt an arm on her shoulder.  It was James’.  He nodded in the direction of Douglas Bryant who was puffing his cheeks and breath impatiently.

“Let’s go.  We have to sit up front.”

“Oh, right.”  Maggie thought briefly of the dog funeral she’d kneeled for in the snow.  That ceremony appealed more to her than what she was now engaged in.  To her, this seemed already like a pagent after a few moments, while that burial had never seemed forced, only natural.

Maggie led the way to the front.  She kept from looking at faces as she passed.  All she saw where the curved archs of the chair backs.  She didn’t even notice that they were poorly gilded with imitation gold.

James watched his sister hurry in front of him with her red hair bent.  He felt inclined to do the same, but kept himself erect.  There was something in him that couldn’t help but scan the crowd.  It was tied to the same feeling he’d felt at the Checkmate the night before.  It was a longing to see someone he knew, to be reminded of his youth, that he hadn’t felt in so many years.  And as his eyes settled on the shape of  James Cicero and Paul Gertz sitting next to each other, he felt a dread in the pit of his stomach at knowing what tied those feelings together and made them one.

Cicero was still thin, but Gertz had gotten much rounder – especially in  the face.  I knew that would keep happening to him without the sports.  He was a good drinker.  Actually, he was more of a big drinker.  Of course all that sloshing and slugging and chugging caught up to him.  James nodded towards the two of them.  Cicero and Gertz nodded back.  But I’m judging what has happened to them? Why is that my defense against what’s sitting up there?  And all of this around me - the flowers, the home, the funeral arrangement, what happens from here to the last mound of dirt – I didn’t plan.  None of this is me.  But at the same time it is. He looked away from his old friends; the friends who’d fed him liquor; helped him learn how to get girls.  He looked away from them and down to Eve at his side.  James took her hand and pulled it close to his thigh.  He wrapped his free hand around it also and squeezed.

As he walked embracing her hand, adding once more to the already innumerable times he’d held it, kissed it, outlined it, and simply looked at it, a wash of ease came over him and gave him goose bumps.  He thought of Eve.  He thought of her delicate nature, the nature that always instinctively told him to swoop her off her feet right now and hold her high into the air.  Twirl her in some way.  Would it be wrong if I did that in front of the family and friends gathered here? Would it be wrong for the baby? James pictured Eve huddling over a swaddled child.  The baby looked generic, a movie baby.  His mind couldn’t wrap around it.  He’d had images of getting a dog, but could never pull the trigger on that.  What was more important than being young, recently married and completely in love with your wife?  He looked back out at the crowd.  Someone out there would tell him “Nothing was wrong with it,” he was sure of that.  In the fourth row from the front, he thought he saw his senior English teacher, Mr. Roland.

Maggie reached the front row of seats set up on the left side of the room.  All of the places were empty.  James was struck by the large amount of flowers that were set up along the left corner, directly across from the front chairs.  There were small potted red flowers and then there were also huge arrangments, pink, white and yellow flowers.  He didn’t know the names, but there were anemones, peruvian lilies, bunches of baby’s breath, daffodils, hyacinths, roses, and carnations.  In front of these startling arrangements were two boards that were set on easels.  In the center of each was a picture of Rose.  The one closer to the coffin and her body had a picture of her when she was young.  James couldn’t remember seeing it before.  Her head was turned slightly away from the camera or whomever was taking the picture.  She looked off, past the limits of the frame, and out.  There were out of focus trees behind her and, even though the picture was black and white, her hair seemed vibrant – redder than if it were in color.  It’s amazing that a color can stand out even when its taken away.  I can’t believe I never saw that picture before.  Mom looks fantastic.  I look at Maggie and then I look at the picture of young mom.  I can feel my heart about to burst comparing them.  I always knew they looked similar but this is unbelievable! Who took that picture?  On the board furthest from her body was a more recent photo.  It was in color.  She was in the backyard wearing loose sweatpants.  There was a straw hat on her head and she knelt close to the dirt of the flowerbed by the den windows, clutching weeds in one hand, while her other was frozen in a wave.  My heart won’t slow down.  Mom looks so old in that picture!  I need to breath.  I squeeze Eve’s hand again.  I hope it isn’t bothering her.  It probably isn’t.  She can understand all of this.  I can’t understand who did all of this.  I know dad didn’t arrange for it to all be done.  Was it Aunt Erin?  Uncle Connor? James let Eve sit first next to Maggie.  Then he sat next to her, he let his eyes focus on his mother’s dead body for the first time.

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