Saturday, September 20, 2014

20 September 2014

Good morning

The day struggles to assert itself, just as I do.  Grey clings to the air; ache grips my muscles.  I stumble around the house, listening to Morning Edition and shaking my head, testing the cobwebs, challenging their stake to my brain.  I fall into a chair and raise the mug to my mouth, thinking, Coffee, coffee, surely all I need is coffee.  It's Saturday but it might as well be the day before Armageddon.  I slug the coffee down, heedless of my burned mouth.  I wait for it to do its work.

I can't make out what the lady on the radio tells me about the weather.  The radio sits just around the corner and I know the volume knob sits on too loud for most people, but the ringing in my ears obscures the sound which it emits.  More coffee, more coffee, you just need more coffee.  My mug says, "Northwestern University" on both sides.  It completes my collegiate collection:  Harvard, a DePauw "First Farm Table" cup swiped from my son, and now Northwestern.  I smile.  Ah, a smile.  Perhaps I will live!

I like awakening early but today, I would just as soon have slept past even the six-forty-five slot at which I finally shook myself to consciousness.  I'm getting old.  But I'm not complaining, as my friends know; I abandoned complaining at the first of this year, a choice that I've struggled to honor and often deeply regret.  Oh, dang.  That qualifies as a slip!  I smile again.  It's getting to be a habit.

Some Saturdays, my mind casts back to days that have already fallen from the calendar to clutter around my feet.  I step among the pages.  On their surfaces, notes in varied handwriting and different inks remind me that I made plans and held onto scraps of recollection.  Lunch, 12:00, one page might say.  I lift it from the ground and gaze at its month and year, trying to recall with whom I dined and where.  I let  the yellowed paper fall from my hand and watch it flutter. The fullness of time gathers around my feet, the days I have lived, the days I have lost, the days I have forgotten.  I drink more coffee.  I smile a third time; someone sings on the radio, with a soft round voice.

I never sit in silence.  The chronic tinnitus which has plagued me since childhood grows more insistent, more varied, more like a frenetic, wild symphony each day.  But other sounds crowd my mind and fill my ears:  Voices, laughter, sobs, the crash of a car and the blast of a shotgun.  Funeral music and rock 'n roll.  Bagpipes and harmonicas.   Harsh tongue-lashings and weak entreaties.  Lovers' whispers and children's cries.  I shake my head, the cobwebs still clinging and the ghosts crowding, clamoring, crying, Look at me, look at me, look at me.

I've squandered many days.  A few, I've spent wisely.  I can't tell how many pages remain in the calendar hanging on my wall; maybe twenty, maybe two-hundred, maybe a thousand.  A pen hangs on a string from the same hook, upside down, ready to mark the pages with events that I want to be sure to remember -- ahead, so I'll be on time; afterwards, so I won't forget.  I take another sip of coffee and feel a fourth smile threatening to dawn across my tired face.  I glance out the back door and see that the sun's bold rays have defeated the grey.  I check the calendar, Coffee, Pat, 10:30.

It's going to be a keeping day.

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.