Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ode to the wandering mind

I am trying to think my way into an exploration of what is a defect, what is an attribute, and how can we tell the difference. One of my rigidly-held beliefs is that we all learn to live adaptively. There may exist the perfect specimen of humanity, at ease in every situation, able to complete each task without misstep or delay, possessing unshakable mental clarity, a model of light-hearted spontaneity. I am not that creature.

My history, my present, even with years of attempts to correct them, are issue-riddled. There has been progress, but on first glance it may seem otherwise. I have yet to acquire the habit of order, which does not get easier with age and decreased mobility. Accomplishing things in a timely fashion, always a challenge, now feels like someone untied the mooring line and the dingy has almost reached the horizon.

In the past few days, two women I admire for their honesty, insight and mad writing skills, have mentioned parents who disparaged their minds, their thought processes. Always remembering to clean the lint out of the dryer screen is no measure of talent or intellect. A so-called wandering mind may be a sign of genius. In fact, it has not even really wandered, it just hasn't stopped for very long in the place someone else thought it should.

Nothing I've heard has convinced me that there is such a thing as normal. There is desirable, there is generally acceptable, there is trouble-free and agreeable. But within the privacy of our very separate processes, based on all the factors that make us something that is not them, who is to say we are doing it wrong. Each of us comes at life from a distinct direction...who knew there were so many compass points. What was packed into those bandanas tied to the sticks resting on our shoulders has never been seen before. Even we may not know what to call the oddly-shaped novelties as we unwrap our bundles. The ones with the least appeal, the lumpy, scary, not-so-pretty ones we toss aside, only to find, somewhere along the road, they have found and claimed us.

What I seem to have come to, in this segment of musing on a topic that, like the parts of ourselves we try to elude, will not go away, is that when what we have are thoughts that refuse to stay in their narrow channels and instead flow across the landscape, we need not become alarmed. I am developing this theory that we grow into our minds. Some may find them comfortable, an easy fit, from the beginning, but others of us have a good bit of debris to shove aside. It can be disorienting, finding all that space, room for big thoughts, the teachings of small minds no longer sucking up all the oxygen. Feather-headed, ditsy, spacey, forgetful, absent-minded, dreamy, unfocused, undisciplined, yes. Yes I am and thank you for noticing.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What I find true about TRUE GRIT

The language and story of True Grit captured me in equal measure when I first read the book. What the Coen Brothers did with that material on screen is honor and preserve it, demanding that we let out the seams in our minds to accommodate the larger vision of what Charles Portis' novel only allowed us to imagine.

Its first chapter closes as Mattie recounts her father's death, how he is robbed by Tom Chaney while on-lookers simply watch, then scatter. "...when he finished his thieving he raced to the end of the street and struck the night watchman at the stock barn a fierce blow to the mouth with his rifle stock, knocking him silly. He put a bridle on Papa's horse Judy and rode out bareback. Darkness swallowed him up. He might have taken the time to saddle the horse or hitched up three spans of mules to a Concord stagecoach and smoked a pipe as it seems no one in that city was after him. He had mistaken the drummers for men. 'The wicked flee when none pursueth.'"

I am not a reviewer. I am able to say what I like and why but have no capacity for detached evaluation. This is the comment I left to Antares-Cryptos' post about the dearth of foreign, independent and original movies such as we once enjoyed in profusion. To write about True Grit had been on my mind since seeing the DVD several weeks ago. Boiled down to comment size, it says what I intended. Further expounding seems almost unnecessary.

Even though it had Academy Award nominations, the remake (yes, I know) of TRUE GRIT had so many elements that attract me to a film...the cinematography/direction, the way the landscape becomes a character, an integral part of the movie; Carter Burwell's music, which weaves old hymns with new composition, gives a sense of an unstated yet abiding peace while the action is far from peaceful. And intelligent, uniquely phrased language spoken by actors who clearly understood what they were saying. I intend to do a post about it, but perhaps that ship has already sailed. I never defend remakes. This is, for me, rare and exceptional.

Much of my knowledge of the west comes from movies, the ones directed by John Ford in particular. The Searchers, released in 1956, while told from a viewpoint of the time regarding who were the good guys and who were the bad, communicated the vastness, the loneliness of what is still, in part, untamed land. Cinematographer Winton D. Hoch, who won three Oscars for other films, seemed ideally matched with Ford in letting the camera tell so much of what motivated, or drove, the characters, especially with the scenes in Monument Valley. I follow one Montana blog writer, whose photos and text convey how little-changed some of this country remains. I do not know those spaces, nor the prairies, first hand.

What I do know, or should I say believe, is that character is shaped by place. The people we meet in True Grit, for good or ill, are the products of their roots in the land and the lives it prescribed for them: politics of the Civil War, crops and livestock, encroaching civilization, expedient and lawless paths, terrain-specific wisdom, and courage. Director of photography, Roger Deakins, was also D.P. on The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford , another example of the camera giving voice to its own narrative on the way of things.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Stand by me

With a new-to-us DVD of Stand by Me, we made that our Friday night viewing. Neither my son nor I had seen it in at least eight years. With my recent thoughts about childhood and the friends thereof, when the title song began just before the end credits, I saw myself and Kathy at a campfire, singing it, with at least Ben E. King's phrasing if nothing even approaching his voice.

During the previously-mentioned correspondence about fellow classmates, I learned of Kathy's death. We had known each other through all our school years. Three specific memories hovered as the music played. One was my surprise (I can't say why) at her fondness for the song and the fact of our breaking away from whatever was going on at the Girl Scout campfire to immerse ourselves in it for a few minutes. Another was the revelation, made I don't remember how or when, that on the day of any birthday party to which she'd been invited, she would feign illness, stay home and get to keep the present for herself. The third was a party - either her birthday or a Christmas exchange for our troop - at which I'd given her barrettes. Her exclamation on opening the package was, "Barrettes! I hate barrettes."

Not being a 12-year-old boy in rural Oregon in 1959, I could appreciate the story as I watched but not relate the time as they experienced it to anything I knew. Suburban Southern California and parents who would have noticed if several of us had been unseen for more than 48 hours is not comparable coming-of-age material. There seemed no place at which to connect. Until the first distinctive beats of the song. Then the losses, the changes, ground gained only to slip away, came into familiar focus. Time finds a way to roll our stories into one. Tonight, I think I cried for us all.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

That was then and this is then

Me, about age 4, at our Baldwin Park home.
Marty used to scream over the back fence, "Damn it, Bab'r, has you got a cookie?" Bab'r was Barbara, my mother. Marty was three years old. My mother had an aversion to country music and anything she thought trashy.

Once we'd moved away, we heard that Marty, by that time a scofflaw of five or so, had climbed into his father's gasoline tanker truck, released the hand brake and collided with the dairy at the end of the street. The good news, no explosion or great bodily harm to himself. The not as good news, there was nothing in the story to reassure the neighbors that whatever came next would not be worse.

At our new house, the one I lived in until leaving home at 18, my closest friend had two brothers, considerably older than we were, one of whom got into a scuffle at the local Bob's Big Boy Drive-in and ended up grabbing a deputy's gun out of his holster. No one was shot but what a lot of gossip at school and on the block. The same brother was later in a nearly-fatal motorcycle crash and used to scream at me about how he was almost "...pushing up daisies." I was glad not to have an angry, outlaw sort of brother, yet the time came when that was exactly the kind of man to whom I was doomed to be attracted. I am grateful to report surviving and recovering from that affliction.

Recently seeking a long-time chum, I visited the website dedicated to our high school graduating class. Our 50th reunion will be held next year. The looking resulted in an exchange of e-mails with one of the organizers whom I've known since grade school. He had information about students and staff from Longfellow Elementary. It was a pleasure to remember with him our town, our friends, the streets they used to live on...the first girl he kissed, a dog that bit me, when we discovered rock and roll. In the give-and-take of those memories, I felt my external self to be home to all the younger versions of me whom I could see clearly going about their six-year-old, eight-year-old, ten-year-old lives. I could feel in the center of my chest a connection to those not-vanished, nested like Russian dolls, variously-sized girls that I had been and, somehow, still was.

What to make of it, I'm not sure. For now it is enough to sit with the knowledge as I try and gain a wider perspective. It feels significant, the awareness of both holding and being our memories. There is an element, like a sacred trust, the grace of which allows us to act as both curators and exhibits in the museum of self.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

One of the reasons why I am glad today...

Among my various incarnations is life as a designer of rubber stamps. This card, with many thanks to its creator, Diane Lewis, uses some of my designs for Rubbermoon. On Facebook, Rubbermoon posts new arrivals and pieces from the archives, as well as maintaining a photo gallery with samples that represent stamps from all their artists. What a happy start to the day, seeing the life Diane gives to these images...including the head transplant, from dog to cat. Like seeing hatchlings take flight.

May your day be filled with color and humor.

Monday, June 20, 2011


It seems that I am running behind on holidays and other matters. With the exception of my brother, we are a bit short of fathers in my immediate family and Father's Day trundles past without mindfulness. Because this reprint of an early post refers to a phrase my father used, I will let it be my card to all the fathers among us and what they have passed along that retains its value, its meaning. From August 20, 2008:

Where We Meet
My father was a writer. He treasured history, nature, words that had fallen from popular usage and the printed page. He would sometimes end a phone call or letter with, "Leave a note under the rock," which I always took to mean regardless of events, we would devise a way to be in touch.

Today, my second day of reading and responding to comments from kindred spirits met and unmet who have found this blog, I thought of the phrase which has stayed with me these many decades. What we are doing, as I interpret it, is leaving each other notes under the rock. As each one passes by, she picks up the message, reads it, adds whatever thoughts or images it has sparked and puts it back for the next pilgrim. And the words or their intention circle back to us, whether under the rock, over the wires or through simple telepathy. It took me some time to understand how a blog, unlovely as the word is, might enrich my life and expand my world and, I can only hope, allow me to do the same as I leave my rock-weighted note and walk away.
Posted by Marylinn Kelly at 7:30 PM

inge said...

as one of my new internet friends Kathryn Antyr says : " comments are like little package you leave at someones door "...

I like the image of leaving a note under a rock and comments on a blog leave the same feeling of being connected.

I learned commenting thanks to Michelle Ward, Tim Holtz, Kathryn and I'm so happy that I did, cause I made closer contacts with some people I've never heard or seen !

August 21, 2008 12:31 AM
sf said...

Marylinn, my love!
I am so glad to find "you" here, thanks to the comment on my Colin post. I'll be back soon.
all love,
August 21, 2008 7:16 PM
Patti said...

I am honored that you visited my blog - it's so nice to hear from you. I love your idea of the note under a rock. I've had the same reaction to blogging (and as writers, we would probably choose different words:) in terms of the many blessings it has channeled through me and, hopefully, on to others, as I try to leave more notes than I read.
Congrats on your new stamp line; Stampington is a regular haunt so I'll be watching!
blessings and hugs,
August 22, 2008 11:48 AM
Stamp Your Heart Out said...

Thank you for sharing these wonderful thoughts with us. I've added a link to your blog from the SYHO blog, so our friends can enjoy your words.

August 24, 2008 8:01 AM
Linda N said...

at 9:10 pm CDT, I'd not heard of I'm contemplating leaving a notepad and pencil next to a rock by the back door. Thanks for your beautiful and inspiring writing.

Linda N.
September 9, 2008 7:32 PM
Marylinn Kelly said...

To Linda N -
Thank you for your note. I didn't know how to reach you. Hope you come back and find this. Marylinn
September 13, 2008 2:09 PM

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Where the time may have gone and why

Sandy Denny and Fairport Convention, said to be from 1968.

When something is askew with me, my first thought is character defect, followed by general disintegration. It was not until learning last week that I seem to have been overdosed on thyroid supplements that I could make a new assumption.

One of the primary symptoms of excess thyroid, either on its own or via supplement overdose, is confusion, reduced ability to concentrate. Also high on the list are fatigue, anxiety, heart palpitations, tremors/shaking, elevated blood pressure, fever, joint aches and the oh-so-unwelcome thinning hair. Doesn't this paint a lovely picture?

When change in function creeps in slowly - especially if that change involves a somewhat wandering mind - being able to say what, exactly, is wrong is like trying to make a fallen souffle rise again. It did not involve memory, that has a category of its own, reserved for all after a certain age. Nor was it about loss of intellect. The closest I can come to a word is not even a word. The unword is drifty.

That this state of thyroid excess had been present for some time before the lab detected it is something only I know to be true. In medicine, numbers rule. There was no verifiable indication six months ago, but some of the symptoms have been with me for a few years. However, the drifty state was newer. It manifested, along with the fatigue, as difficulty sustaining focus. It explains why I have not been able to keep up with the writers whose blogs I follow, nor to comment very much when I visited. After a decent interval, I'll go back and read my posts of the past few months to see if they hold up.

There is an esoteric side to this, being that I have come to know myself as being inclined to a natural state of mental, let us say, float. From a lifetime of wondering why I either wandered - in a state of no-time - through meadows of my imagining, or wished that I did, I have begun to recognize this as me. Like once trying to wear too-small shoes because they were adorable and on sale, I have soul bunions from ways of being that did not fit the matrix.

Easy to understand that, as the drifting increased, I assumed that, rather than being authentic, I had tumbled over into sloth. The thin lines we allow ourselves, the rigid expectations. When I needed to do nothing, to nap, to simply be, I rarely allowed myself to do so without guilt. Consciousness, if it arrives at all, is the product of a lengthy gestation.

It is the fifth day of a reduced dose and, placebo effect or wishful thinking, I am less shaky and more present. Relief is my only response to learning the source, as best we can guess, of my symptoms. I am too happy to know that I have not been carried away from myself on some unexplainable tide, that this isn't a sign, not a permanent affliction. I may even be able to go about in the world without thinking I should spray my visible scalp with some gimcrack, tv-offered product supposed to cloak baldness. That my twitchiness, result of my particular life, will probably remain is something I can live with, if the shaking hands become still.

Reprieves, in my experience, are granted when we have no idea they are possible. Events combine, information comes to light, people appear. I am grateful to be sailing home to my real self. The reunion celebration has already begun.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Additional support needed for Christchurch

Yesterday, Christchurch, New Zealand, experienced two powerful aftershocks which brought further destruction to the already besieged city. For any readers here who are not familiar with New Zealand writer/artist Claire Beynon, she began a fund-raising project to assist the people of Christchurch after the initial earthquake. Her site, Many As One, accepts donations of any size, offering in exchange the chance, through a weekly drawing, to win work from artists and writers throughout the world. Please visit, let the power of the donated work convince you to assist in this effort.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Reading...reprinted from Jan. 27, 2010

Because I am, at this moment, under the spell of Dickens' David Copperfield and am still digesting Great Expectations, unready yet to write about such total captivation, I resort to the expedient trick of the re-post. Apropos of nothing, my favorite quote of the weekend came during the Miami-Dallas NBC Finals game when one of the broadcasters referred to Jason Terry, he of many 3-point miracles, as a "crafty veteran." I would be happy to be called the same.

Good fortune is what I would call the diverse, textured, possibly unmatched segments of my life. While in the living of them they more or less flowed into one another, there is also an element of separate chapters, compartments, with few threads connecting them. Still those sturdy fibers endure.

It was not my intention, this sampler of costume changes, mobile scenery. And by many standards with which I am familiar, my story likely seems rooted and static. I have never lived in another country, have only flown across one ocean, have seen my name in print but never in lights, have yet to visit anything but a few of the edges of America and have mostly lived within a two-hour drive of where I was born. Yet even those limitations provided opportunity for what feels like an existence in which boredom was never an option.

My belief is that if we love to read, we will never be bored; we will never feel time weighing upon us as something to be gotten through but rather something of which there is too little. As they used to tell it, my parents - mad readers - had begun to doubt that I would ever be their TRUE child and take up the book as best friend. Their deliverance was Miss MacPherson, third grade teacher and tide-turner who, though she wouldn't permit Nancy Drew stories for book reports - and our library didn't stock them (think pulp fiction) - she didn't discourage her students from reading anything that called to them and it was the same in my home.

So we have reading as one of the threads, mysteries as genre of choice though nothing was ever rejected without inspection. I still haven't found my way into, let alone through, Proust and the list of haven't-gotten-to-yet...well, back to that notion of too little time. In my most hopeless moments - and years - it wasn't difficult to read a book a day. Not much else was achieved but the list of titles consumed grew longer. In a period of compulsive spending, bookstores were always my destination. At that time I worked in Burbank and had the luxury of two of the now-vanished Dutton's stores within lunch-hour distance. Then it was poetry and contemporary fiction. I still can think of no greater indulgence than a bag of new books.

Once I fell under the influence of Miss MacPherson, and Carolyn Keene's spunky characters, a stack of Nancy Drews, individually wrapped, was the hoped-for sight on birthdays. It is easy to picture my Aunt Dot walking up our long driveway with such a gift in her arms. My mother had been a follower of the girl detective and in second-hand shops we'd find editions from the twenties and thirties, more exotic and enigmatic than the fifties versions with their "modern" dust jackets. Not so long ago I read some of the newest incarnations and was shocked, not like Claude Raines in CASABLANCA, but truly stunned, to find murder in a Nancy Drew plot. Some things are just not done.

As I write this and realize it is determined to be what it wants to be, not anything close to what I'd had in mind, I feel the stability of what remains consistent. I thought I would be writing about a range of disparate experiences over the past six decades and end up, instead, celebrating word on printed page, a phrase for which I feel much affection, recalled from Van Morrison's song, "Rave On John Donne." It would not be a hardship to have every entry here, at the very least, reference reading, authors and titles and, at most, having that be the main theme. When I read reviewers whom I think find their way to the heart of things and use language that lets us know what is true, I acknowledge that I am not destined to write reviews for all the things I love, for I would be dragging in vague references (oh, she asks, are you not doing that already?) and being entirely consumed by what I like and unable to speak with any intelligence or impartiality about something I don't.

Maybe it would be wise to permit myself to praise books that stay in my mind and simply say why. But that would mean having to go back and read them again, fresh information and not slightly foggy memories. Darn. In my experience, we are nudged or frequently shoved into a direction other than the one we intended. What a gift, what an adventure. No, you didn't take the wrong bus, you just didn't know it was the right one until now.


Erin in Morro Bay said...

A woman after my own heart! Voracious reading has been the constant in my life throughout almost 60 years of changes, permutations, and re-births. One of the most exciting days of my life was when I began working for the library system here in San Luis County 20 years ago. First crack at all the books!!
January 27, 2010 11:00 AM

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dear (enter name here),

To all of us who wonder if THIS is really our life and, if it is, why does it chafe so, why does it feel held together with rusty safety pins, gum and Scotch tape, why do we seem to be what is wrong with the picture?

There are activities, events, I avoid, even when I might enjoy them, but the pain of preparing myself emotionally to get there, then to be there without shriveling and writhing, is too high a price. Maybe I have a deficiency of essential amino acids or bear invisible scars that have scratched the matrix, left gaps in the continuum. We are not all designed to fit, with ease and elegance, into every situation; we have regions of screaming discomfort and it is important to let that be acceptable. My absurdist mind is really churning this morning:  would you take a harbor seal to the Burning Man Festival...I wouldn't take myself there...such extremes are distressing, impossible for me.  Anyway, we have environments that support us and others in which we would truly perish, or at least suffer greatly.  And for what? 

I think we are all wells of loneliness.  It is myth that we are truly and fully completed by another or others; it always comes back to being singular. We spend some of our hours carrying, wearing, being, unless we don't have the wits to perceive it, cave-ins. We sink, we falter.  Who people appear to be and who they truly are generally do not match all that well, which is why so many of us feel like aliens left behind. The poets tell us what a grief-filled and lonely experience this is and there is such truth in calling it what it is and not pretending it is one long Hokey-Pokey of happiness. 

What I think we are called to remember, and not to diminish anyone's experiences or disappointments, is that, whatever our life has been, it has been, if nothing else, a rich source of material for our writing or other art and in that it has been a gift.  I often think of cooking as a metaphor...anyone can make a feast out of top quality ingredients; the skill comes in making whatever is left in the cupboard into an equally fine meal, full of nourishment and flavor. 

Will you come and sit with me for a time every day and find a speck of life to claim as, if not enjoyable, then at least as bearable?  It is, I know what I'm talking about, a process of exchanging rejection for acceptance, for what is, is.  Yesterday I would have condemned myself for not having made the most efficient and prudent use of a store-bought roast chicken.  Time, as we know, escapes me in its very fluid state.  The chicken, which could easily have been devoured when my son brought it home, was enjoyed, a bit here, a bit there, but the majority of it being saved to use in a few dishes I had in mind. 

Then time acted as it does, flowed along, with the remaining chicken past its prime and unused.  I am so unforgiving with myself that I was weeping over not doing better for us with the CHICKEN.  Oh My God.  As I tell about it now it has a bit less sting but I swear my mind had turned it into a capital offense, myself into worthlessness.  Our survival, our usefulness to ourselves and others on the planet, depend on not letting those hands reach up from the graves and grab us by the ankles.  Just think: chicken.

Our minds and our worlds do not turn around over night.  The learning curve is long but it is essential.  To allow ourselves to be here, in peace, savoring the good parts, to laugh, even if hollowly, at our foolishness and our misinterpretations of self then and now, is a blessing we can access, one wee speck at a time.  We can look at years of disappointment or whatever word one chooses but if we can find, say, 15 minutes out of those years of untainted, pure living, we have made progress. 

The less energy we give to the lack, the more pleasure we can find.  It is truly a pinch, a second, at a time. Find one vignette from memory that is not pain, one moment we can travel back to from which we return not as less of ourselves but as more. They are there, I swear to you, the bird whose song you heard in the midst of terror or pain.  Life is goulash, everything thrown into the pot together and even if the sauce has a slightly sour after-taste, there may be a fine bit of carrot that still retains its sweet flavor.  We cannot be all things to all people.  What can we be to - and for - ourselves? 

See how you help me solidify my own philosophy?  Talk myself into better states of mind?  Without our exchange of words, I could have thought these things but not written them down and, by not doing so, left them to be less memorable or real.  That all of this may sound like foolish, wishful thinking is fine.  But I am content to be here, formulating and holding these gleanings from my, shall we say, considerable experience of what I judged to be joy-deprived days, saving a place for you while you are about the business of being and feeling exactly as you do. 

And I will continue to hold this for you, even if it never matches what you know, what you believe.  It is a thin but not fragile thread tied around a medium-sized rock, hopefully of sufficient weight to keep you from floating off when that seems the next likely thing.  Someone who has your back - as well as they can at a distance of a few thousand miles, someone with a hold on your hand.  Wander about as you need to; camp is set up and will be here when you stroll back.  God...could I think of any additional metaphors to mix here?  I sincerely hope not.

With love,
Your friend

Monday, June 6, 2011

Class, our guest today is Fred Babb

Fred Babb's art makes noise. In a lock-step world it is subversive. He, and all of his ilk, the troublemakers, give hope to us who grow furrowed and tense, seeing creativity leached from our schools and the once green fields of our lives.

Though he died in 2006, he and his work remain vibrant and essential to any who fear we may have bureaucratic laryngitis, the silencing of voices which even hint at freedom of expression.

His only, as far as I know, book is a collection of posters called Go to Your Studio and Make Stuff. It is available at Amazon, at prices rather higher than the $15.95 - new - I paid for it, and worth, pretty much, whatever it takes.

At one time he had a gallery/shop in Cambria, California, called What Iz Art? where the white paper bags into which one's purchases were tucked had Babb's words and images stamped and drawn on them. His book, subtitled "Paintings and Essays," seems aimed particularly at children or the people who have power over their destinies. Its messages are equally fierce, too, for all of us who ever pull back into our caves of reticence, of uncertainty, of not feeling courageous enough to be as odd on the outside as we feel within.

I find similarities between his views of what will create whole children and those of Lynda Barry. The illustration which leads to the book's section called "Kids and Art," says, "Art is what kids do to survive in an authoritarian society." Being grown-up does not, of itself, make us free; sometimes what is does is shrink the box into which we have tried to fit.

Babb wrote, "I once read in a short story, 'Time is an abstraction devised by man to regulate the illusion he calls reality.' If this is true, we should be able to unmake time. The ARTs provide the means for this un-doing.

"Many artists appear to exist in a different time zone than other people. We are accused of being 'spaced-out' and detached. But in reality we suffer from a permanent case of jet lag."

The term "art," as I use it today, means anything that allows access to what has been trapped in our minds and hearts and has started kicking out the windows, trying to escape. Fred Babb has gathered piles of old sheets for us and knotted them together. The drop is not as far as it looks.

(Art and quotes are the copyrighted property of Freb Babb.)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

No zombies

Conversation, immediately upon waking, semi-shouted down the hall to my son, past the noise of wild parrots and departing commuters, "I had an apocalypse dream last night."

"Were there zombies?"

"No, just weather. I was watching the apocalypse in Idaho with Val Kilmer."

"That would be a great name for a band...Watching the Apocalypse in Idaho With Val Kilmer."

Fireballs burst over the mountains, wire-thin lightning ran horizontally through the sky. Idaho was illuminated only by the storm. I was down to two bars on my cell phone.


The image of my mind and its information storage/retrieval system resembles old library card catalogs. But the drawers are metal, not golden oak, sized to fit small manilla coin envelopes. The gummed flaps on the sealed envelopes have become brittle, no longer closed. Their contents fly, in no apparent pattern, to the front desk and form stories. Or so it seems.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Showing up late for Memorial Day

For her Memorial Day post, Melissa Green shared a poem, The Rain, by Zbigniew Herbert. What I found in it was a reminder of a friend who had been best man at my wedding, had the office next to mine when we were reporters, wrote the script and scouted locations for the video we made to celebrate my then-husband's 40th birthday.

Both my maternal grandparents served in World War I on the battlefields of France, my father in the South Pacific. My family was shaped by war, grandparents meeting on the troop ship to Europe, mother and father meeting at the University of New Mexico, she a fine arts major, he in officer's candidate school.

With my grandparents, I grew up in the front row of every event that celebrated veterans. Both were American Legion, almost as a religion. Once their children were grown and married, their vacations were summer tours of Legion conventions. On many outings and Sunday drives, Grandpa's Mercury filled - since why would you go somewhere with a nearly-empty car - with fellow Legionnaires, I was the only one without a cap. (President Carter will stand in for my grandparents as cap model.)

Because of Herbert's poem, because of all the departed or lost and because he is my favorite ex-mailman/poet, I will let John Prine sing for my friend Jack.