Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Rambling thoughts for a winter's night

When I walk home after sunset, I think I know what it's like to be a horse
or some such day-creature whose eyes alone do not reign over sight
in quite the way we fancy ours do
and who shies at shadows.
The telltale colors cloaking each form are quieter here
they require much sharper scrutiny 
than in the waking world.
I stop on the sidewalk for no reason
refuse to go on when the way is clear
because there is a strange shine on the stone
and I cannot tell if it is wet, slick, set, soft
for a moment I fear it will suck me in, pull me down
if I do not tread with care
but of course it is solid, only made of shinier stuff
than the square on which I stand.
I pause to admire the way the shadows cross
the darkest absorbing all that passes
but light darkening lighter, when they meet
neither blending with the other
all crisply informing with plain pictures
whether something lurks to the sides.
For several seconds I stop and stare
puzzling over the leaves that are not leaves
too much black and white and order
in the chaos crunching underfoot
I step carefully around the spot, unwilling to touch
unsure why, until the shapes resolve
a fallen sparrow in the fallen leaves
I try to make my silence a little more silent
out of respect for the dead.

I walk on, wanting to be home now
out of the wind, on familiar ground
not always glancing over my shoulder
when a low-flying leaf scampers by my side.
Street lights, headlights, Christmas lights 
all  are loathsome here
striking me briefly blind when I look away.
I watch a man and a white dog by the curb
suspicious, for they never move
they still don't move, so still I watch
I draw near and with one blink they are gone
or rather transformed,
boxes on boxes and three white trash bags
still unmoving and unmoved by my mistake.

Something small slithers after me
block after block, unrelenting
I turn to frighten the thing
which is the sneaking strap of the pack I carry
swung carelessly by my side
skittering along the sidewalk in my wake
I walk on.
This block smells of smoke
evil stuff, but I breathe deep to taste the ingredients
melting plastic, burning bark, smoldering leaves?
enough to make me hesitate in the haze
look and listen around just for a moment
hoping this fire is supposed to be
before making my hasty escape.
I rest a moment, blow out my breath
just to see the smoke
the kind that doesn't burn to breathe.
This block smells of apples
I do not know why this would be
have no clue which chemicals contribute 
but it is nice.
I do not linger here though
indeed, I have never walked more swiftly tonight
because I know this street
I know these trees
I know the way
I am close to home, and I have walked long enough
I forget the load I carry
and break into a trot.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Childhood Trauma


This is the face that will haunt your dreams.

Look at it


My mother maintains that the Thomas the Train nightlight is "cute." She thought it was "funny" when I ran screaming from the thing as a child, or when she would secretly switch it from place to place in the dark AS IF IT WERE MOVING ABOUT OF ITS OWN VOLITION.

I have tried explaining to her theories such as that of the Uncanny Valley, or pathogen avoidance, or just the flat-out fact that anthropomorphic steam engines with translucent gray "skin" and giant leering pedo-grins on their disembodied faces are EFFING CREEPY BY ALL STANDARDS, but she will have none of that.

So am I in the minority here? Is it just my imagination that this thing was bloody terrifying and still is almost two decades later? 

For the record, plugging him into the wall does not help -- his sickly face emits an unhealthy, uneven orange glow with an effect akin to that obtained by holding a large flashlight under your face. And then he's just sitting there, grinning, slowly emerging from the walls while you sleep.

Speaking of which ... 

sweet dreams.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Sooo ... what career option lends well to overanalysis and narrow focus? I find it's virtually impossible for me to see or hear something new without turning it around in my head and comparing it to a host of similar, different, and unrelated things until I have fit it in the proper cubby in my vast collection of similarity, differentness, and unrelatedness (they're words, they're words, shut up spell check).

Everyone does this, but I believe it's to excess with me. First time I listened to Lady Gaga's Edge of Glory: "Oh, that's interesting. The chorus has a nice feel to it. Now it's going to be stuck in my head. Hmmm-hmm- ... wait, "edge of nowhere," that's not in the song, it's edge of glory. Why am I ... oh, wait, wait, I see now, with the loud voice and the rallying and the up-down-up -- this sounds just like Song for the Lonely!"
It doesn't that much I suppose, but from then on they were interchangeable as far as being stuck in my head went.

Not long before that I was collecting Christmas music and stumbled on Sheryl Crow's rendition of All Through the Night (the lullaby, not the other one). Found myself stuck on the chorus again, couldn't figure why, was driving me batty until it clicked. "The chorus to this sounds just like We Owned the Night! It even has the same last two words, and they're both the chorus so if I compared they'd probably both show up around the 45 second mark!" (Yes, with new songs I tend to skip straight to the end of first verse/beginning of chorus to see if I like them, and I've learned over the years that that's about 45 seconds in.) In my mind this was Very Important And Significant. For what it's worth, I think the choruses start at 47 seconds and 50 seconds, respectively.

I also rattle off quotes (books, movies, TV shows, song lyrics, sayings, random things said by friends or coworkers) at a moment's notice. If I get them wrong or forget part of them (which is rather often), I'll spend up to twenty minutes searching until I find the correct version. When someone said I had to go back (to work) soon, I dug through my shelves for my copy of "The House at Pooh Corner" just to figure out what Owl had to say about "Backson" (as in, "BISY BACKSON" and "the Spotted or Herbaceous Backson").

Sometimes things go terribly awry and quotes stack upon quotes in an endless progression. "You need to press the button" becomes "You need to press the button ... button, who's got the button," which (if you've just watched a lot of Buffy recently) further transforms after a moment's recollection to "You need to press the button ... button, who's got the button ... my money's on, THE WITCH." And then people stare at you just a little bit. But that's okay, because you're psyched that you got the quote right the first time.

It can be helpful at times ... speaking of Buffy, I'll always remember how to spell Juliet Landau's name since waking up this morning and thinking, "Is it Juliet or Juliette, I'm pretty sure it's just "et," not "ette," Landau, Spandau ... HEY, it's like Spandau Ballet but backwards!"

As Lorelai Gilmore would say, "My brain is a wild jungle full of scary gibberish." I would recite the rest of the (oddly appropriate) quote here, but you've humored me long enough already and I still haven't given you any pictures. Here, thanks for waiting:

(I totally made a puzzle out of this ... /plugging website)