Chicken Bin

•May 23, 2019 • Leave a Comment

It was dinner time and the Curmudgeonly Lion had picked me up at work for our weekly night out and we needed to decide where to eat. Having just flown to Chicago and back over the weekend, we were acutely aware of our budgetary constraints and decided to stop into a nearby Ralph’s to get something quick and easy.

The Bistro counter inside the supermarket was doing a brisk business of selling chicken dinners so we took a number and waited our turn in line. Two pieces of chicken, two sides. Dark meat for me, white may for the Curmudgeonly Lion. Baked for me, fried for him. Spinach for me, fries for him.

We both got the macaroni and cheese.

The tray for the fries was empty by the time we ordered.

“I can make more,” the counter worker said. “It’ll take about ten minutes.”

We decided to wait: we weren’t in a rush. We stood beside the counter watching the goings on in the store and making small talk. Nearby, an oven full of rotisserie chickens began to beep, alerting the chicken lady that they were finished cooking. She approached and silenced the alarm before opening the oven doors and lifting out the rack of golden, glistening chickens- six in all. She was a diminutive woman, and the rack was nearly as big as she was.

Thump. She landed it on the counter, dislodging the chickens with the force of the blow.

Kerchunk. The end most chicken struck the counter and bounced, magnificently, straight into the trash can: lost for good in a single second.

“Oh! Lost my chicken!” The chicken lady laughed unselfconsciously. “Straight in the bucket!”

I was relieved that she didn’t seem upset: I would have been- a perfectly good chicken gone to waste! But there was nothing to be done: it wasn’t like she could pick it out of the trash and dust it off and pretend it had never happened. It was just gone. We just had to let it go.

But it still bothered me even after we got our food and left. And it was still bothering me this morning when I thought of it again: what a waste! Perfectly good food. Perfectly good chicken: a bird who’s whole life had been for the sake of feeding hungry people was just gone. What had been the point? Had it even needed to live at all?

I wondered whether my feelings were less about food waste and more about my own nihilistic fears of living an existence which might end up to be pointless in the end. I wanted to believe my life mattered. I wanted to believe that I had a purpose and I would fulfill it by living my best life, but what if I was just a chicken in the bin? What if the moment came for me to be shaken lose from my supports and I too bounce the wrong direction and end up lost?

I mean, I guess there’s really no answer. Life is what it is and it might turn out to be pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of the expanding universe, so why worry? Well, because it means a lot to me, and if I can avoid ending up in the bin then I’d definitely prefer that. But in the meantime I suppose there’s no point in dwelling on “what ifs”: by the time anybody has enough perspective on my life to know whether it had any meaning I’m not likely to be around anymore and I’ll just have to make do with enjoying what I can of the here and now.



•May 22, 2019 • 4 Comments

It was not a day of notable accomplishments. On the morning bus ride I resumed my work on the draft of my novel, picking a chapter at random to work on because that was where I found the inspiration to work, not because it joined up with anything else that is written. I figured: any progress was good progress, and if I wanted to keep up my momentum of finishing a chapter per week I was going to need to put in the work wherever I could. Thanks to travel and holidays it was due to be a short week.

Work itself was steady, which didn’t afford me much time to think my own thoughts, but at the same time helped me keep on an even keel. My mood has been steadier lately: I want to believe that it is the therapy that is helping, but it’s hard to say for sure. I’m relieved either way.

Storms rolled through the city during the early afternoon, complete with rain and thunder and sinus pressure. Even though the skies and my sinuses have both cleared up in the interim, I’m still a bit foggy headed and find that I don’t have much that I want to say. So I guess that will be all for today. Perhaps I’ll be more inspired tomorrow.

Quick Trip

•May 21, 2019 • 2 Comments

I mean, if you want to get technical about it, we were only in Chicago for forty seven hours and thirty minutes, but somehow managed to fit in about four days worth of eating, socializing, air travel and weather patterns.

By the time we made it home on Monday I was trapped somewhere between overtired, overfed, overwhelmed, and wrung out. I wasn’t sure what it was that I wanted or what I was feeling but I was feeling a LOT of it. We got home. We watched Game of Thrones (because, priorities). We took a nap. I went for a run. I went to therapy.

I gradually began to feel normal again.

A part of me hates that I’m so reliant on my routine to feel ‘normal’, but I also feel like it was good for me to get out of my loop for a while: to see some different faces, to eat some different food, breathe some different air (even if, on the plane, that air consisted of 75% Someone Else’s Farts). It definitely made me appreciate coming home.

Water Ghost

•May 17, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I’m about ninety percent certain that our house is haunted. In the three years that we’ve lived in our house (as renters- not technically *our* anything), we’ve had to call the landlady to replace both toilets, the water heater (twice), the main drainpipe beneath the house, the faucet on the bathroom sink, and the knobs on the shower.

The sinks still leak. The toilet still runs. The high pressure valve on the front of the house has been dripping so steadily for the past few weeks that the first three amarylis plants are about thirty percent bigger than all the rest.

And it’s not just the plumbing: The lights flicker. Cans of soda develop pin-hole leaks while sitting undisturbed on the pantry shelf. The washing machine turns itself on and off. Both of our vehicles have experienced sudden and dramatic electrical failures requiring immediate repairs and new batteries. The carbon monoxide detector- which plugs into the wall went bad and chirps every few minutes to beg for a be battery. We periodically get phantom smells of pot smoke, cigarette smoke, and a “hot” smell like an iron has been left on when there is no obvious source of heat or smoke. Plants that thrived happily for months will suddenly wilt and wither almost overnight. Oh, and the cat has spent the last few evenings carrying on one sided conversations of great depth and sophistication with the broom closet.

I used to joke about having poltergeist, but I’m not sure it’s a joke anymore: the hot water heater just stopped working for the third time.

Is there some kind of ghost etiquette I should be observing here that I’m not? Should I be asking the spirit to leave or making an effort to make it feel welcome? Are these manifestations a message or just some kind of psychic discharge? Is it coming from the house or is it coming from us? I can’t help but feel like we’ve gotten crosswise of some kind of energy that is trying to make a point and is becoming increasingly annoyed that it can’t seem to get through to us.


Novel Faith

•May 15, 2019 • Leave a Comment

My faith sometimes feels like a large empty tank that I drop pennies into, trying to listen for the echoes. I don’t know the size or shape of it, or what it’s there for or what I’m supposed to put in it or find in it; and I suppose that’s probably the point. But there are a handful of things in my life that consistently ring true, and my current Work In Progress, my novel, is one of them. Somehow, I have a bulletproof faith that this story is meant to exist in the world, and I just happen to be the unlucky soul who was standing at the crossroads when lightning struck.

This sounds like it should make life easy: that the inevitability of my success is assured and all I have to do is kick back and wait for the words to roll out and the money and accolades to roll in, but it turns out that faith doesn’t know how to use a word processor, or a pen for that matter, so I’m still stuck doing all the work myself. I still have to piece together the story and grind out page after page of text and, often, stare blankly into space unsure of what to do next. In fact, the only real advantage that this mighty faith affords me is the sense that all the effort will be worth it, that all the struggle will have meaning, and that I’m justified in calling myself “a writer who works for a payroll company” instead of “a payroll clerk who writes a bit on the side.”

So I’m not exactly in a position to prosthetylize to the masses. This isn’t a faith meant to move nations: rather, it’s a cozy, domestic kind of faith that I can return to now and again when the howling tempest of my doubts and frustrations get the better of me. And that’s really all I need.

Ambush Blues

•May 14, 2019 • 3 Comments

So, it’s mental health awareness month, which is partly why I’ve been so open about some of my mood struggles lately. I go through periods of depression and I happen to be in one now.

It turns out that depression comes in different flavors. I’ve experienced the traditional version: extreme low energy and motivation, constant numbness, disinterest in everything, difficulty sleeping and exercising, etc. It’s miserable. It’s like spending weeks wading through glue. I like to think of this as Seige Depression: it surrounds you on all sides and strangles your resources.

The current version of my depression is more like Ambush Depression. My energy level is pretty good- until it’s not. My mood is pretty steady- until it crashes. My motivation and focus are on point- until depression swans into the room demanding all the attention and then throws a temper tantrum until it gets it. The uncertainty of it is the hardest part: am I going to feel cheerful and social today or am I going to self-isolate and curse all my friends for not noticing me? Am I going to find comfort in social media or is it going to be a minefield of triggers? I just never know, and it’s kind of a nightmare.

The good news is: I think I’m starting to emerge out the far side of the storm. My mood is still unsteady, but my sense of being in suspense is starting to lift: I’m beginning to see and feel progress again which at least gives me a sense of direction. Just the fact that I can say that feels like progress from a week or two ago.

Weekend Review

•May 13, 2019 • Leave a Comment

An old tattoo design I found while cleaning up paperwork- wonder if the guy ever got it done.

It’s not that I didn’t do anything over the weekend: it’s just that I can’t think of anything terribly pertinent to say about it. Saturday consisted of puttering around the house organizing receipts and doing dishes and laundry. I went out long enough to recycle some old phones and earned five whole whopping dollars for them, which I’d be less salty about if the dude in front of me hadn’t walked away with nine hundred and fifty dollars in cash. I don’t know what kind of phones he was recycling, but it definitely explained the disaffected twenty year old platinum blonde girlfriend who didn’t look up from her own phone the whole time they were there.

Ahh money.

I’m trying to retrain myself from: “I wish I had money” to “I wish I had enough” to “I have enough” to “I have plenty” to “I have abundance” but it’s a new muscle for me and I still catch myself coveting that cold, hard cash. For we are, after all, living in a material world.

To distract myself from matters of money I went for a run, and afterwards spent the hour or so of evening twilight digging up the bermuda grass around the rose bushes and applying a layer of steer manure soil amendment. I caught myself thinking that I was literally spreading bullshit around and expecting roses to bloom, but then again sometimes the best way to get a job done is with a thick layer of bullshit.

Later that evening, the Curmudgeonly Lion went out to see Captain Marvel in a good, old fashioned movie date: skipping dinner and just gorging ourselves on movie theatre popcorn instead. I found two pennies in the line for the box office, a penny in front of the cashier at concessions, a dime on the counter by the drinks and a quarter on thehand sanitizer dispenser in the hall leading to the theatres, so I felt like I was heading in the right direction.

Sunday was Mother’s Day, but my own mother lives far away so celebrations had to be limited to a card and a phone call. I had a friend come over for conversation and cheese plate to pass a few hours (after frantically cleaning the house). We chatted about writing and life and artwork and gardens. She brought roses from her own garden that were so barbed with thorns that it was a bit of a blood ritual just trying to get them into a vase, but the smell was amazing and the cat enjoyed eating them.

I went for a run. I went to my writer’s group. I watched Gameof Thrones. The Curmudgeonly Lion and I both turned in for a restless night of vivid nightmares: me waking him out of a dream about driving through a guardrail and over the precipice of a cliff, and him waking me out of a dream in which I was struggling to perform an exorcism and kept trying to say “Be gone from this place!” which kept coming out as “Bbbrghhhgerggh!” thanks to sleep paralysis.

So it was a wild night all around.

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