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Oh Say Can You See? June 21, 2012

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.

Thursday? Odd Words? I don’t think so.

I am getting too old to pull an all nighter. The weekend was mixture of busy and trying to relax. Relaxation comes to me as naturally as a gerbil in a cage, grinding my teeth and eyeing that wheel. Tuesday night I was so tired I went to Loews and bought a bigger mailbox so my mail won’t get wet,then found myself wandering the aisles thinking there must be something else I needed. (There wasn’t so I bought a cheap eight dollar outdoor rug in an attractive thundercloud gray since the landlord really needs to mow the back more often and I do like to sit there. I’m an habitual stoop sitter. I think it’s better than halogen lights, a neighborhood watch and a security district. You get at least a nodding acquaintance with everyone in the neighborhood, chat up the closest, and the guy in the other half of the house is pushing old store plastic containers of what he last cooked into your hands. That smothered pork chop is a message. You’re one of us. You have your back covered.

But sometimes you’re not feeling chatty and you just want to sit under the disintegrating beach umbrella in your tiny New Orleans yard, listening. That bit of grey plastic will come in handy in your tropical yard.. (I passed on the astroturf green one for a dollar more because the color looked about as relaxing as passing a pint of cheap tequila at a bullfight. My new backyard is awfully quiet. I miss the two women up the street. (You know its a nice street when you move from four door down for a better place). If these two aren’t sisters they ought to be, have probably lived next door to one another since they first got to sit in front of the streetcar. They chat, they sing a bit when they hang out the sheets (yes, they still hang out the sheets; ain’t nothin’ better than sun dried sheet, no way, no how), they bicker like sisters. Sometimes younger men and their women come and cookout and there’s smoke and laughter enough for the whole neighborhood. You wish you live on the other side of the block, because you know there would be a piece of barbecued chicken with beans and greens knocking on your door any time now.

The crows call and the wild parrots in front riot every time someone walks their dog in front and the sparrows have taken to plucking next grass three feet from you. They’re cautious neighbors, the sort who peer out the grate as you walk by until one day you catch them out front carrying groceries. You offer to help but they say no but you’re in. Its like the time the young man came out from the house next-door on Toulouse Street to offer to change my tire for me. I’ll let you know when I’m too old to change a tire, I told him, but you’re welcome for the company. He went inside and came out with two tall Modelos and I let him help me heft the little spare on. He wanted to help.

Here I go again, wandering off my topic–look, a squirrel–bit sometimes I think the ADHD everyone tells me I have is part of these dreamy words, the sparrow landing three feet away that breaks your run away train of thought and that detail that makes the landscape, the grandness of the mountain in a tiny man on horseback, and you just sit and watch each other until Mr. Sparrow flutters away with a bit of seeded grass. I wonder if they pick the seed pieces because they’ll manage to sprout and grow just a bit, one less trip out to build the nest. What was I thinking about before. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter.

Then Tuesday was an anxiety disaster, the kind where you pull out all your files and scatter them on the floor looking for something you don’t really need. Sometimes someone or something sinks its claws into your head and you run around screaming like the second to last guy in an Alien movie. A certain someone knows exactly how to do this and I think, when they are bored, they send me just the text message pr e,ao; they know will set me off. I try to leave the phone inside more when I’m sitting out, to ignore its mechanical chirp. If it was important, they would call. That’s what I tell the kids, who probably don’t even know how to access the numeric key pad on their phones. If you text and I don’t answer, call me. You know, like dial my digits and hear my actual voice. One’s at college and one spends only every other week with me and hearing their voices is better than any little blue pill.

So, I find myself Wednesday with a pile of work and since I get paid by the hours I can’t let it side. Moloch can dump a contractor faster than you can get the garbage from the back kitchen to the front door, and I need the money. This leaves me at supper homework hell reading two chapters, watching two online lectures, browsing the same damn Power Points you just watched online, then sit down to write a short answer to two questions. I am going to finish my degree, dammit, if I have to start cashing out 401k or, better yet, get a Heisenberg hat and take up some new lie of work.

Online courses should be illegal in Louisiana. It’s far to easy to find yourself letting it slide, then spending Wednesday in a frenzy, telling yourself you really ought to try out that new espresso pot you got for your birthday, and you can’t just go back and work while it brews. You have to wait for the sizzle of the boil to turn into the gurgle of the black elixir. I finally get back to my desk and I’m not sure what a short answer is but it is probably not 1,500 words with pertinent examples from outside the text and lectures but if you are a garrulous show off you have nobody to blame but yourself. You are trying to do all this the night before its due and if you run out of cigarettes at 1 a.m. you are truly fucked. You are almost too tired to drag yourself out the back door for a cigarette at 2:30 a.m. when you are finally done, but then there’s that rug you just paid eight dollars for, and the solar wind chime you bought on sale for still way to much but its paid its way.

Its the next day. Or rather later the same day. Sometime after lunch you decide to steal a nap. You set your work computer’s message notice sound to that WWII submarine klaxon you found on the Internet, plus in the mini Bose speakers so there’s no sleeping through it and stretch out on the couch.. Its a quiet watch, nothing on the horizon, the room rolling gently on the swells until the next thing you know its quarter of six. You’re due for dinner somewhere around 7:30 so the first thing you do is sit down and write a blog post about why there is no Odd Words today. The wheel gleams in the corner of the cage. This time you wiggle your way onto it backward and start it turning but its more of a casual walk than a workout. You just want to see the world whirring with the clackity sound of an old school projector. No real class today. The teacher is tired himself so its 30 minutes of 16 millimeter amoebas pulsing on the wall and the sounds of the Jefferson Airplane echoing in your head. You drag out of class with no more clue about the Golgi apparatus than when you walked in but you’re finally remembered all the words to Wooden Ships.

Facing the wrong way on the wheel there is no urgency. There is no visible window from this direction so there are no squirrels but you can still hear the birds sing and if you listen closely enough, from four doors down, you can just catch an old spiritual interpreted periodically by a mouthful of bed sheets.

So I guess Odd Words will come out Friday again this week.


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