Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Day After

When Susan was in Paris, she sent me this post card. She loves to travel and had seen the Louise Bourgeois exhibition. I put the card up on the ice box, not because I believed in the statement, but because Susan sent it. I've never considered myself an artist. But I do a lot of work. And I have to say that recently work saved my sanity.

I haven't totally collapsed over a holiday season that still, still, even though I'm seventy, has nasty tentacles in me. I worked like the devil. I'd finished a long, long, long, long poemish thing about the track and am stuck waiting for my mentor to look at it (dog help him). So I wasn't doing a thing until I remember all this writing I'd worked on with all seriousness, started in 1994, and started going over that. That gave me a pleasant 200 something pages distraction, to work on, at Starbucks, sitting at a table until my laptop went black with no power. That taught me to take along the power cord so I could sit and work. 

Even on Christmas day. When I was interrupted by a couple of folks I know. One is a big talker, a pleasant fellow almost my age who works at the library here in town. When I said I had to go to the bathroom, I had a slight stomach ache, he told me how gallbladder attacks start, a pretty severe stomach ache followed a few days later by a backache. "I don't want to scare you or anything." He was going to have dinner with friends. 

Then the man who finally has finished retaking all of his boards in English, something he'd already finished in China, came in. I used to talk briefly to him when he took a break from reading and making notes. Now he's at the point of waiting for his residency, maybe in Boston, maybe not. He was going with his wife and four-year-old-daughter (after he had a cup of coffee, went to the lab for just ten minutes, maybe,) to a large gathering of colleagues. In China, he said, Christmas is just for children. He was, as usual, gracious and cheerful.

I was making chicken soup, having changed the menu after Chris ate spoiled sausage and temporarily ruined his stomach. But I'd left my soup pot at a 4th of July party, and was making it in a crockpot so it took two days. I hate to leave it on overnight and the chicken was frozen. I also was making bread which I hoped would be lighter than the brick-like loaves I made last week. It was. I didn't forget putting the oil in and didn't let it rise for hours and hours.

I had actually taken the dogs out in the morning, something I haven't done since it snowed because I'm hideously afraid of falling on the ice. And I took my camera along so I'd have something to do in this season of work compulsion.

My favorite image is of the wiring on the archway that temporarily leads into the apartment building down the street. Of course, I rather like the cow and the little Jesus in the snow (no longer on the sidewalks.)

Krissy also enjoys Christmas. I got her a coat (she wore it to work in New York the week before) and bought her Committed on Amazon. So it's not the presents. It's just her general good holiday spirits. When she was little, it took her all day to open presents. She'd sit on the floor, looking at the packages, picking one, opening it carefully, exclaiming over a box of crayons as long as she'd fuss over something larger. Even socks got a lot of attention, so this took a long time while I lay on the couch (by the time this memory occurs, we had a couch, not a mattress on the floor), eating chocolates and reading a mystery. She was the same at Halloween, carrying around a little bag of candy that I'd given her. We'd stop at stores on St. Marks Place and the clerk would lean over and drop candy in her bag and she'd take something out of it and hand it to him. It wasn't until she had Halloween with other kids at the artist co-op, Westbeth, that she learned that you're supposed to keep it all. The good thing, though, is that she never much liked candy. I ate most of it.

We'd planned to go to a movie. The man who had the gallbladder operation told me he'd seen the George Clooney movie and recommended it. We were leaning toward Avatar, but he sniffed his nose at science fiction and then mentioned that he thought Sherlock was opening yesterday. 

We decided on Sherlock even though Krissy didn't much care to see it. She loves Basil Rathbone, the original Sherlock. But Chris and I prevailed. It was fabulous, if you can get over how transgressive this Sherlock is, Robert Downey, Jr. Every pore quivers. And there's a fabulous boxing scene. 

Once we got to the credits, which are gorgeous, Krissy said, "Richie directed this? Why didn't you tell me?" She'd liked it anyway. But this made it even better. Chris has never read Sherlock Holmes or seen any of the movies, so he had no idea of all the references to stories that were stuck cleverly into this fast paced movie. 

When I took the picture of us in the lobby, waiting for the movie to start, Chris said that it looks like the house manager was very kind and let us out for the day. 

Today I woke up feeling as if a truck had run over me.

And I have to get to the real problem that I've been avoiding. Twenty pages of galleys for my first chapbook which, oddly enough, I haven't been eager to look at and send back. I'm really good at the work stuff, enjoy it, can do endless revisions, fussings around, but something in me balks at the next part... getting it out there. But, unless I fall on black ice (I'd originally written idea instead of ice, a nice message from that monster dog in my ideas) and break my arm before I can make the corrections, it will get out there, in it's very limited form. But out, nevertheless.


  1. sounds like you're doing a fine job getting through the holiday brouhaha!
    love the jesus in the snow (and the cow of course!) image.

  2. i heard sherlock was great--i'm going next weekend. quiet day for us, good food. i felt like i was waiting it out, happy to wake up today and have it be a plain old saturday.

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  4. I'm touched by your tender memories of Krissy and your appreciation of her now.

    Sherlock--I will have to see it.

  5. Love the post card. It certainly is true for me. It's amazing how I spent more than twenty years as a techno-nerd with little time for art. How did I survive that?

    So many films I'd like to see right now, Sherlock being one of them.

  6. I love the writing, as ever, Melissa, you tell such a wonderful story. Now get on with those galleys and for godsakes, don't get sick.

  7. Thanks for your comment on dutchbaby. You were the only one bold enough to tell it like it is. I guess my picture was not worth a thousand words.