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Twelve January 26, 2014

Posted by The Typist in 365, cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Somedays are clearly intended for leisure. You wake up from a good night’s sleep but can’t quite shake off the bedclothes, drift to the couch as lazy as a dream and a second cup of coffee doesn’t help. These are the days we of course fill up well in advance with things to do, not aware that something–the final release of a prior day’s stress, a strange dream–will leave you staring into space watching the thin trickle of smoke from an ignored cigarette. I pick up a book I started avidly a few days ago, and my eyes wander around the page, unable to follow the thread of a sentence.

Even excuses and rearrangement seems to much of a bother, although my excuses for not going to the den are good. My foot still hurts, and now my left wrist, from my luge run down the icy stairs. I won’t be wrapping popsicle stick mummies today. Other things must be done, and eventually the full pot of coffee will be drunk and the day will begin in earnest. Down days are a luxury and since I became unemployed I’ve been cutting back on luxuries.

I read a long personal horoscope by a Jungian astrologer yesterday, a gift from a friend, that was so apt it was frightening. That started off a long day of introspection punctuated by frustration, nothing quite coming off as planned. One of the things the horoscope reminded me was a tendency to neglect my body, my health. Listen to your body, it counseled. Today my body is saying: chill. You’ve been under a lot of stress and I strongly suggest you lay back down on the couch, it says, or I’ll find some handy virus and put you there.

Later, I have to help my sister start sorting through my mother’s things. It is clear she is not coming back from the nursing home, and the three-bedroom apartment in Park Esplanade must go. This is not a particularly stirring task to look forward to. Those rooms are filled with things I remember from my earliest childhood, from the tiniest tchotkes to the large, much faded Afghani rug in the living room. Even the newest pieces my sister purchased, a chair and fabulously expensive couch she found cheap, are the same stern Danish modern that filled the boxy house of my father’s modernist design on Egret Street. There is something peculiarly off-kilter about doing this with the things of the living, but at 56 I recognize the inevitability of death. I’m not quite at the point of reading the daily obituaries, something my mother did before her eyesight failed, but I’ve lost friends too young over the last several years and made a point of buying my last suit in black.

Later I will take my son to the nursing home, bringing an order of my mother’s favorite Teriyaki wings from the restaurant on Bienville. I will be relentlessly cheerful for my mother and son’s sake, in spite of spending hours handing things she and my father selected to decorate their lives. Perhaps tonight would be a good time to take down the red box containing all of the letters my father wrote to my mother during World War II, something I’ve felt not quite right about doing while my mother is still alive. Or maybe that will be too much, too soon: the war-time, airmail paper as fragile and transparent as the last.

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