Saturday, October 29, 2016

Saturday Musings, 29 October 2016

Good morning,

I can tell the day will confuse me.  I awakened in the dark with the phone's alarm bleating.  I smashed my hand on the virtual button as though it had depth and texture.  I lay with tight chest and aching  legs, grappling with the gloom and trying to figure out why the alarm had sounded later than I intended.

But even so I fell back asleep for an hour, dragging myself downstairs when I heard the dog whining.  I brewed coffee and listened to the latest debate about whether some e-mails prove the Democratic presidential nominee should not hold office and a clip about the Republican nominee's lecherous conduct.  I shook my head and sat in the dining room, surrounded by nearly the same mess that I've been observing since September.  Outside the dog barked into the morning.  At the back door, I watched the tinge of pink spread over the eastern horizon, looking at my clocks, wishing my phone had awakened me as early as I planned. I remained baffled, worried about my competence. The morning had started without me.

Another half hour would pass before I figured out that my devices had re-set themselves to Pacific time.  Wishful thinking has infected everything around me.

A ghost slipped into the house and sat itself down at my table.  It's a woman, with a beaked Syrian nose and liquid brown eyes.  Her bald head rises above the starkness of her gaunt face and bony shoulders.  My mother's frail body barely caused a ripple beneath the sheet after her death.  I want nothing more than to remember how she danced through life.  If she insists on haunting me, I want her ghost to wear blue denim wrap around skirts and short-sleeve colored T-shirts, with a cross-body home-made corduroy bag slung round her plump torso. Instead her emaciated body trembles now, as her ghost surveys the clutter around her, the flotsam and jetsam of my depressed days.  She raises her hairless head to fix her gaze on me.  Her message sears my heart.   I pull my body from the chair and pour another cup of coffee.

During my grad school days, I frequently drove from the city where I lived to my parents' home in Jennings for Sunday dinner.  Those were my hard-core vegetarian days.  I ate what we'd call "vegan" now, no dairy, no eggs.  Eventually I'd settle into a "lacto-ovo" vegetarian phase which opened a lot of culinary doors.  But during those late 1970s, when I strove to cleanse my body of the toxicity of my year in Boston, I consumed fruits, vegetables, beans, and water.

My mother found clever ways to feed me.  While she and Daddy ate fried chicken, I'd munch a black-bean loaf shot through with sunflower seeds and avocado.  I think my Mom read every hippie cookbook that the library offered just to lure me to her table.  Still she'd simmer soup on the stove, hoping to tempt me with fat noodles and stop the downward plunge of my weight.  She mildly suggested that I consider an Orange Freeze from Steak 'n' Shake when my weight dropped below 100.  I shrugged her off.  I dragged out the chapter of my adviser's book which I had been assigned to write, and described my theories and how I intended to articulate them.  I showed her my wait-list letter for the Fletcher School of Diplomacy.  She didn't ask how I'd pay for a D.C. apartment.  She just listened.

Beside my laptop, on the desk in what has become the guest bedroom, the stack of papers from my mad dash to finish my 2015 tax return gather dust.  The top layer has drops of blood from the frenzy when I sank a knife into my left index finger that night.  Twelve days later, the cut has almost entirely closed.  My butterfly job  along with an entire packet of dusty wound sealant staunched the flow of blood.  The top of my laptop still bears the christening sheen of brown powder.  I barely feel the pain any more.  Like so many other wounds, the surface healing covers its malaise.

Now the sun has found its way high into the sky.  The ghosts retreat.  My weeks-on-end of unrelenting work should have abated, but late yesterday afternoon the other side in a settlement reneged.  I'm faced with going unprepared into a trial on Monday, having been fooled by the mediator's certainty that the parties had reached an agreement.  I'm taking one day for myself, to wash a load of clothes and unload the perennial over-crowding in the dishwasher for which I must confess enormous gratitude.  Tomorrow I will rise early and go into the office.  I will do whatever preparation one can do in ten hours, including meeting with my client and his family after their church and Sunday dinner.

But for today, I will heed the fine arch of my  mother's haunting eyebrows.  I will haul the cleaning supplies out and scrub the scum from my lovely fancy upstairs shower.  I will strip the beds of their wrinkled sheets, and throw away the moldy vegetables.  I cannot do much to please my mother now.  But I can clean.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley





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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.