I am just going to write for 15 minutes. Not about my day. Maybe about the black and white furball of love called my cat. The cars passing swish on their way. Candles dance on wicks. I’ve just got done watching Pan’s Labyrinth. Such and rich and complex movie, set in a rich and complex world. Our world is a rich and complex place. Writing helps me to see the beauty. It helps me to see the moments. It is like taking a photograph with words. A friend of mine once became a photographer. And he said the world looked different. He saw the world through different eyes. And noticed things he had never seen before, or at least saw them in a different light. When you take a photo you pay attention. When you write words down on the page, or the screen you create a moment. You pay attention. Right now my kitty is resting on the side of the bed. I am sure she is ready for me to go to sleep. To be honest so am I, and to dream. To dream of my future life where I can write, and do yoga, and be happier and more free. But today I live in this life, and I live in this world. Which has its own happiness and its own freedom. I wonder years from now what I will think of today. I’ve been reading Sylvia Plath. What I wouldn’t give to be able to write in the vivid colours and life of her words. Can any writer be as deep and as true. It is no wonder she couldn’t escape from her mind. And for me. At times I can’t get in and at times I can’t get out. The more I live in the world the harder it is to find a way into my own mind. And the more I want to turn on the gas oven. Bury myself behind a wall of brick from the world and either live in the darkness or die. Tomorrow I will go to work, and go for a walk with a friend. I will live my life. Even though my heart isn’t in it anymore. If it ever was. My heart doesn’t want to work for a newspaper writing stories about accidents and people getting hit with their own crutches. It doesn’t want to work in retail. It wants to work in dreaming and magic. But is there a place to live off dreaming and magic in this world. Too many people like me fear dreaming and magic. Yes, I fear the life I want to create for myself. A life I could really share with another. I fear it as much as I love it. And I keep on writing, and I keep on dreaming because what else can I do. On somedays I can’t even write. I can’t even dream. I don’t want to eat, I don’t want to drink, I don’t want to sleep and I don’t want to be me at all. I want to fade away into the light. Blow away in the dust. But my heart remains with me, and my heart will not let me go to the otherside yet. I am here to live, I am here to learn, and to dream and to be me. If only I could learn how. But maybe we are all learning how to be ourselves. Trying out best to be human, and to be divine. Because we are all made of love. Because only love is real. I used to write it almost every day and I haven’t in a long time. So I will write it again. Only love is real. What else could we be made of, we are real. So we must be made of the only thing which is real. And that is love. And if love is the only thing real, it must be God. If God is real. But if God is made out of love and so are we, then we are one and the same. We pass through the world learning to love each other and ourselves. And it isn’t an easy path for any of us. If you do not see the demons another fights. It doesn’t mean they are not just as strong. Just as painful in their own way. We all have our own shadows. Our own fears of love. A fear of what is real. Which when you bring it into the light can obly fade. In the light of truth no lie can stand for long. And any thing other than love is a lie. When you meet your brother just love them, and the lie will die on its own. Because your sister may be living under a lie, but so are we. And our love helps to dispel both the lies for the one truth. Love. Only Love is real. I didn’t forget. But I haven’t thought the thought in too long. I’ve been so focused on mirages in life. Focused on work, and friends, and the gym and so many other transitory things. Things of value, but passing value.
The job in Colorado was a news job. But it wasn’t real news. And it wasn’t a real job. Okay, it was and wasn’t.
The job was part-time. And the part-time I worked was mostly doing unethical coping of news from other sources. The publisher liked to make jokes about the news. So, the biggest and worst part of my job was doing news clips. He would send a list of links to the editor. Along with the list were funny headlines. The paper paid for AP news, so I was supposed to look for an AP source. But often I couldn’t find one. In which case, I cheated. I would copy most of the story and put in limited attribution. In my mind this is plagiarism. But no one cared what I thought.
And for the most part he was not really funny. When there was a long traffic jam in China. His headline compared it to local traffic. The freeway from Denver was often jammed. But I was also a reporter. And in this role I wrote about the traffic.
The reporter job was freelance. I was paid by the word. I covered mostly the small towns in the valley. This is the same area where Kobe Bryant was put on trial. But I moved to the valley a few years after. The news I did cover was county government. I also did a couple stories about local schools. And a range of people stories. From art to new businesses it was all in the mix.
While covering the county I got a tour of the local jail. It was an interesting experience. I have never been, and hope to never spent a night in jail. It reminded me in some ways like a hospital. Like a hospital, you are monitored. But it is harder to get out. The county commissioners were being given a tour. And I asked if I could join them: they agreed.
The road stories were also fun. And they were fun in way most people might not find fun. It was a lot of reading of reports. I had to catch up on different ideas. After reading and talking to a few experts one person mistook me for a local. It was an infrastructure story. There were a number of ideas on how to solve traffic. One idea was light rail. Then there was the idea of a bus service. The last main idea was more road space. A couple plans mixed ideas from these three. Most people seemed to agree a mix was needed. They agreed more freeway wasn’t a enough of a plan.
When not working I spent a lot of time outside. This is Colorado. I would drive for hours along dirt roads. Then sometimes I would hike for hours. There was a large mountain by my house. One of the first things I did was climb to the top and look around. I miss the mountains still. Nature is so grand and amazing.
But one night I got in trouble. I drove and parked. Then followed a path and a dirt road. I had looked at the map. And I had a plan. But it was taking me longer than I had projected. And it was getting dark. I called 911 and told them I was lost. Stay where you are, but they didn’t know where I was when I called. On the map the road was mislabled. I didn’t know this until later. And my phone was dying. So I kept walking. Through the dark and chilly night. I found a house with an open garage eventually. I walked up and asked for help. I told them the story and they called the Sheriff. Who came out and gave me a ride back to my car. It was a bit embarrassing.
While in Colorado I saw my family in New York. It was the death of my dad’s sister. Yes, I know, but I never really knew her enough to have a relationship. So I refer to his relationship. My dad paid for me to fly out of the Denver Airport (which is halfway to New York anyway). It was a good short trip. And it was a chance to connect with family I hadn’t seen in years. Family which wasn’t really family in my mind.
While in Colorado I lived in the town of Gypsum. This was the low end of the valley. Vail was at the high end. There were a number of towns in between. One of which was Eagle, where Bryant was in court. The town – or area – I worked was Edwards. My roommate was an older woman. She was a nutty person.
Well, she was still using AOL dialup. She watch The Notebook everyday. I’ve never sat down and watched it from start to end. But I have seen the whole movie. I saw it at her house just as I would pass through. Or linger to chat with her.
I found the place through Craig’s List. And I am grateful for her renting to me. She had a cat of her own. And her cat was not friendly to mine. Later she also got a small dog. She was a good person. And looking back I don’t think I was an easy roommate. But she was patient and always friendly. While I was away in New York she took care of Baby Girl for me.
There were a number of problems. The drive to work was almost 30 miles. It was a beautiful drive. But a long drive. Also, the money I was making wasn’t enough. I was working part-time and freelance. But my pay was $10 an hour. And the freelance wasn’t much money. I was barely making it, and barely eating. I knew I had to get out.
But I am glad to have lived in Colorado. I never regret anything in my life. Because all these moments have made me rich. And maybe if this book sells well, I will be cash-rich. I left Colorado when I found a job in Nebraska. I put Baby Girl and all my stuff in the car and headed east. Of course, I still had things in storage I hadn’t been able to retrieve.
After I left Colorado the paper went under. It was a free paper and the money wasn’t coming in for ads. My editor now works for the other town newspaper. He is still a good friend.
This is set a few years down the road. I included some of my friends too.
The sun slips through the rain clouds. Spring smells drift through the downtown air. Dante rolls over to hit the snooze button. Sure, he might be late. But people are used to him being late on his day off. Baby Girl stirred as he rose and went to sleep in the window.
In the other room She is reading her novel. A cup of warm tea waiting for him on the table. She had an hour before leaving for work. When Dante’s sleepy brain remembers this fact he rolls out of bed and into some clothes.
“Good morning,” he greets Her.
“How was work last night,” She asks him as he picks up the green tea.
“Thank you for the tea,” he tries to wake up. But gratitude is always the most important thing. As he sips he explains the previous day at the store. Being an assistant manager isn’t as easy as some made it appear. There are a lot of problems people could solve themselves. People who try to do too much, and people who try to do too little. But last night was a good night. The store was busy, but he had a good team.
With a kiss She popped out of her chair. Well time for work. Dante motioned to the fridge. “You see your lunch?”
“Aww, lunch, thank you,” She gushed. Clearly also understanding the value of appreciation. “What are your plans for today?”
“Well it is my hiking day,” Dante said. “Me and Rhonda are going to hike Mount Hamilton. It has been a couple weeks since I’ve been to the summit. One of the best views in the area.”
“And how is Rhonda doing at her new store,” She asked.
The move for Rhonda was a good one, it got her closer to her home. And it put her into a department manager position. Dante explained how she was enjoying her new store and co-workers. But the move was also triggered by his own promotion, to avoid any appearance of favoritism.
“Are we still on for the art show later this week,” She asked getting dressed. He couldn’t help but sneak a peek. She was amazing, a breath taking image he hardly believed to be real on some days.
“Yes, and she’ll bring the kids too. I think Michelle will also be going: it is going to be a fun night,” Dante told Her.
“I’m glad your friends are going to be there to support your art,” She said. “I know it means a lot to you, and so do they.”
“Kara said she would try and make it along, but since I got the night off she might have to close,” Dante explained. Kara still worked in the same store with him. She was also an assistant manager now. It has been fun he would think to himself to grow at Walmart with his friends. Even if for some of them the growth took them to other stores.
On the table his phone buzzed. It was Rhonda messaging him to see how late he would be today. They had planned to meet at Fisher’s Landing. It was an easy drive for her from Ridgefield. Her new house was just down the street from where Bobby used to live. Of course Bobby was now a department manager in Longview.
Quickly he finished his tea. Then gave Her a hug on her way out the door. Getting dressed, he sent a reply saying he was almost ready. Since he was driving against traffic he imagined it would be a smooth ride. Of course driving was easier in his new car. The Hyundai Tucson was a good car.
The car had been his first purchase with the money from his book deal. Some days he still didn’t know how he ever found the time to write the novel of his life. But he wondered more about the courage. Where did he find enough to have it published. Was it really such an interesting life. A publisher picked it up, and sales have been good. Not A Million Little Pieces good. But he also wouldn’t have to go on Oprah and explain why he lied.
His next novel was due out next year. Still in the writing process, it would be tales of travel. Something like On The Road, but not as boring. There had been many tales left out of his first book. The girls in Burlington and the pizza too. There were so many friends on his path. When he did a reading at Powell’s for his first book people asked about the next book. It felt good to be read. For so long he felt like his words were just there. And now his words had a new life. And his life has new meaning. His publisher suggested a third book based on his short life as a journalist.
But now he had gotten lost in thought and was going to be even later. Lets get moving he snapped to himself and picked up his keys. The Planet Fitness membership card struck the door as he locked up.
Baby Girl was one of her cats. And I didn’t think I could love her. And not love her cats. The other cats were Frank, Tazman and Francesca. Baby Girl had actually been left with her by a friend. And the friend was never able to return. When I was a small boy I had a pet cat. One of the only pets I really loved. I remember moving and fearing losing Smoky. I would call for what felt like hours, in hopes he would come back. He always did. In the Fifth Grade he disappeared. I don’t know why or how.
So getting to know her cats was easy. I like cats. I am much more of a cat person than a dog person. They were easy cats to love. At times I spent the night at her house they would sleep on the bed with me. I watched her house, and the cats, while she was out of town. Often they would all be on the bed. I recall one night waking up in the middle of the night. I couldn’t breathe. Then I open my mouth and it is full of cat hair. Frank was sleeping right on my neck. Was he trying to kill me? I doubt it, she said he did the same to her.
I think Baby Girl liked my more than the rest. Frank had a strong bond with her. She had gotten him as a kitten and raised him. Baby Girl and Frank always got along. Except once when she had been gone for a long time. Frank went after Baby Girl a little, just to mark his human. Francesca was always the wanderer. She would hunt mice and birds. It wasn’t uncommon to find their remains in various parts of the house. Baby Girl was a mellow, mostly indoor cat. She could go outside like the others. But spent most of her time on the couch. When I was there she spent most of her time with me.
The first time she caught a mouse I was shocked. To be honest I don’t know what happened outside. I know she came in and was meowing at me in a strange tone. She is normally a quiet kitty. So I look over and see she has a mouse. It is still alive in her mouth. When Frank comes in she lets the mouse go and he starts to play with it. Baby Girl stays back and respects Frank as the boss. They chase the mouse around the house. I follow to watch and keep it out of Her bedroom. After a short time Frank gets bored and his attention drifts. Then Baby Girl killed it and ate it.
I wasn’t sure if she had really caught the mouse. And I am still not sure. It was Francesca who was the hunter. One time we found Francesca with a dead humming bird. Another time I had just pulled into the driveway. Both Baby Girl and Francesca were circling a small tree in the yard. Then I see they have something cornered. I think it was a mole. I’d just gotten off work so I went into the house. In a little while Baby Girl comes in with the mole in her mouth. She drops it in the middle of the living room and eats half. The other half sits for a while. At some point I am too grossed out to leave it. I pick it up and throw it away.
But then Francesca comes into the house. There was a cat door going out to the garage. This is how the cats got in and out. Francesca came through the cat door and went to the spot where the mole had been. She smells around. You can tell she is looking for the mole. After a minute Baby Girl starts through the cat door. Francesca looks at her, and Baby Girl sees Francesca. In a moment Francesca dashes toward her and Baby Girl has taken flight. I get the feeling Baby Girl may have stolen her prey.
While I was at the house Taz died. She had been old and unhealthy. We had a small service for her in the backyard. Frank came out with us and sat next to the small grave. It is hard to know if cats are aware. But I think they know when a friend has gone. Taz and Baby Girl used to be close. They would sleep together and Baby Girl would groom Taz. But Baby Girl wouldn’t leave the house. She stood by a window inside and watched.
When it came time for us to move my friend wasn’t able to take Baby Girl. “You take her,” she suggested, “she likes you.” And it was a good idea. Sure I started to love the cats as a way of loving my friend. But Baby Girl had won my heart. She has always been a sweet and gentle cat. Of course taking her meant I needed supplies. One of the luckiest things I found was a litter box. Yeah, you can get a litter box at any store. But this one is special. I got it from a thrift store which supported the animal shelter. It looks like a plastic igloo. It is large for a litter box and round. I knew it was perfect for Baby Girl because it was covered.
At my friends the litter boxes were in the garage. And Baby Girl has always been a modest kitty. If you walked into the garage while she was using the box, she would run outside. I knew she would like having the privacy of a covered box. What I hadn’t thought about was how much a cover would keep litter inside. When she digs, she really digs deep sometimes and roughly. My friend thought Baby Girl was going outside her box. But this has never been the case since she has been with me. The boxes in the garage weren’t covered. There were piles of litter with some droppings outside the box. These show Baby Girl is a very neat cat. And the litter was no doubt thrown out of the box while she was digging. Frank on the other hand once used the liter box while I was talking to someone right next to it.
Years ago I read a book of odd poetry. It was written by a woman, and some were for a man. The message of a couple amounted to, my dog still loves you but I don’t. In a way I felt like if I loved Her cats and they love me – so would She. But it didn’t work. But I am happy to have found Baby Girl. She has been a good friend to me the years we have been together. And I fear the day I will lose her. I have no reason to believe it will be soon. She still likes to sleep on the bed with me, and keep me company during the day.
All I want is to be on his lap. To be close to my human.
He sits there on the computer. And I want to be close to him. Near him. Have him pet me. I get up and go to the door for attention. But it doesn’t work.
Maybe I should get up and get some food. He has been feeding my great food lately. He loves me right?
But why won’t he just let me be close to him. All day long I sit in this room alone. There is nothing in here. I nap and dream of him.
And he gets home and pets me for a moment. Then he does his own thing.
I’ll sit near him. As near as I can. I’ll put my paws on his leg. And kneed his fur. Isn’t this how I should express love.
He feeds me good food. Gives me water. And makes sure I don’t have bugs. But my favorite thing is sleeping next to him at night. We keep each other warm.
I think I help him to sleep better.
But sometimes he is restless. Tosses and turns and I have to sleep away from him. It makes me sad.
Right now I am grooming myself. Just sitting next to him. Feeling him next to me. It makes me happy.
I can smell him on his stuff. Even after he cleans off my hair. I have been shedding less since he gave me good food. And it is nice not scratching for bugs.
There was a time when I lived with a woman. She was nice to me. But I had to live with other cats. It was good to go outside. Sometimes I want to see more, to get outside the room. He never lets me out. But a lady outside will open the door if I meow.
I like her. She is sweet and friendly. Of course she isn’t my adult. She pets me and I like it.
It is a good thing I like napping. Because there isn’t much else to do in this room. I had a toy which chirped like a bird. But I haven’t seen it in a while. I wonder if the dog took it. Oh yeah, the dog.
Well there are two of them now. One is a bit of a pain in the ass. The way dogs are known to be. He has gone at me a couple times, but I can show him who’s boss with my sharp claws. The other dog is new, he doesn’t seem like a punk. He leaves me alone when I see him. And that is the most you can ask for with a dog.
I guess I miss my cat friends sometimes. But I like it here with him. He calls me Baby Girl. There was a lady I lived with a long time ago, she called me Baby Girl. But I don’t know him name.
I wish he would go to bed soon, so I could cuddle next to him.
(Room to Write exercise)
The room has a tossed look. A pile of pillows pushed into the corner of the bed. Pushed there by last night’s sleep. On the bed is a white comforter. It has a black floral print. White pillows lay side by side with throw pillows.
This is the room of a reader. Two books lay on the bed. “Leaving a Trace” and “The Thich Nhat Hanh Collection.” Also the room of a thinker.
The bed is situated in the corner of the room. A line of pillows lay against the wall. From under which peek a laptop, a tablet and a power strip. A white cord is charging a cell phone, and a black phone a watch.
Keys with pepper spray attached lay next to a blue-tooth speaker. And one of the pillows against the wall is a Minions pillow. The cat is at home on the bed. Next to a green blanket. A light blanket for the summer temperatures. And a black backpack.
Next to the bed are boxes used as tables. On a taller box near the wall sits a clock. A white Starbucks mug a page-a-day calendar with the date Sept 23 visible. There is a quote from Truman Capote.
Another watch sits next to the calendar. And a pile of rubber bands. They once wrapped organic broccoli. A comb with tufts of white cat hair shows how it it used.
I a corner a plastic basket has pencils. It also has pages from the calendar. And a pocket calendar sits next to the basket. It tracks the signs of the moon. On the page opened, the dates Sept. 25-27 are visible.
The top of the box is cluttered. A candle in a tin. A Hello Kitty Mint tin. Another comb, for human use. A plastic red pencil sharpener.
And books: Room to Write, Bonni Goldberg; Communion with God, Neale Donald Walsch; Words that Work, Frank Luntz and The Road to Reality, Roger Penrose.
Bookmark stick out of the pages of many books.
On a smaller box, there is more clutter. A remote to a blue-tooth sound bar. And under the remote two books. “The Coming Plague,” by Laurie Garrett sits on “The Like Switch,” by Jack Schafer. There is a credit card and small lotion on these books.
Next to the books is a lint roller. With cat hair stuck on the tape. A napkin from Subway and a rose quartz candle holder. Remains of last night’s dinner linger in a bowl. Pesto sauce puddles on the face of a woman.
More books are stacked under a deck of tarot cards: Mind Whispering, Tara Bennet-Goleman; Writing to Wake the Soul, Karen Hering; Emile, Jean-Jacques Rousseau; Switch, Chip and Dan Heath and Open All Night, Charles Bukowski.
Another box on its side serves as a bookcase, and is full of books. It sits on a full box. A white trash can sits next to the door. And next to it a crate bookcase, full of books. On top of the crate is a small four-drawer organizer. It contains cords, glass wipes, pens and pencils.
A candle with three wicks, sits next to a vase. The vase has blue flowers on the outside. Inside are fake blue flowers.
A large plastic three-drawer storage unit is a dresser. Two drawers are full of socks. The third is full of white T-shirts. On top are books leaning against against a magazine style organizer. It has magazine, papers and q-tips. In a medium storage basket are receipts. And pens, pencils and hand sanitizer.
A yellow desk sits in the corner. A TV once sat on the desk. Now a sound bar, more vases with fake flowers and books do. Also a spray deodorant. A Hello Kitty mouse pad and a plastic bottle of Bragg’s.
The desk has one long drawer. Full of random items, a lighter, a memo pad, push pins and a small rock. In the first drawer on the right are tarot cards and pencils. The drawer down has incense and lighters. And the bottom drawer is heavy with notebooks. In front of the desk on the floor sit a CD cases. One small contains software. The other bigger is full of DVDs. Moving around the room is another crate bookcase. A large book of quotations sits in the crate. As well as blank CDs, two containers of tea and two hard drives. On top of the crate is a three-drawer organizer. Notepads in top drawer. Incense in the middle. The bottom contains push pins, pens and paper clips.
On top of the drawers is a Hello Kitty toaster and a hand sanitizer. Next to this is a computer sitting on a box. And the closet.
Passed the closet is a second large three-drawer storage unit. In the top are hats and belts. Random clothes in the middle. And more white shirts at the bottom. A calendar hangs from the closet door, September.
Between the drawers and the bed is where the cat eats. And drinks.
The hardwood floor is strewn with today’s clothes. Cat toys are here and there and it needs to be swept.
I am reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. The Annie Dillard book. It is a journey of nature and mind. Written about a creek in Virginia.
The tone, the beauty. It inspires me to write. Annie isn’t a writer. She is a painter. You can feel the wind in her words. They glow with the sunshine. There is so much beauty in every day. But we miss it because we are busy. We don’t stop. We don’t look.
And we wonder why our lives are dry and dull.
I want to write. To paint the scene on the page. If I could only learn how to type.
I am sitting on my bed spread. It is black and white. Flowers of black with a white background. On pillows in the corner. In deep sleep. My Baby Girl rests. Sound asleep. She is also black and white. She looks like a Holstein cow. I guess I don’t know cows. I thought it was a Jersey cow. Until I just checked it on Google.
Where did we get information before Google?
My bed now is a mess. Piles of books. A bag of cheese bread sticks from Wal-Mart. The books are both from the library and some I own. I read far too many books at the same time. Or rather I try to read.
Right now I think maybe I am reading five or six. Cat toys are on my bed from when I cleaned the floor.
The time for rest is nearing. I will join Baby Girl in dream land. Maybe tomorrow I will continue on my novel. But today I needed a break.
Work was good. A new worker asked me today, “you bounce around all over the place?” I replied it was just what I did. “Is that why they hired you for?” “No.”
But I like it. It is always a different day. Yesterday it was deli for most of the day. Today I spent a lot of time in Dairy stocking eggs and milk. We sell gallons and gallons of milk at our store.
Some days I push carts. Some I run the register. Some I feel like I run from one thing to the next all day long. But I still like it.
An older man asked me today to help him get some sugar off the top shelf. I’ll meet you over there I told him. There was another person with a question. Then I did something else and forgot. But then I remembered and when I turned to walk down the main aisle I could see him peaking around the corner. I apologized. But he was friendly about the whole encounter.
I am trying at work to not speak in a negative way about my co-workers. Some of them don’t make it easy. Judged by my own standards they are not performing their job duties. What I have to remember is I am not paid to monitor what they do or how they spend their time. Just focus on what is the task before me and focus on doing it the best I can. Tomorrow is day 5 of 8.
What I have to understand is my standards are mine.