the year is drawing to a close, as we all know, and the wind is blowing hard in austin. tornado watch. thick black clouds moving fast. the low familiar rumble. and cooler weather to follow.
the day began with innocuous grey skies. i awoke in a nighmare sweat, after dreaming of tornadoes and being lost outside, without cover. and, oddly enough, my biggest fear was not the elements, but losing my job for not being able to get there.
my workout with maria was cancelled at the last minute, and part of me was relieved, as i felt like staying in bed and sleeping off the nightmare. instead, i got up, had a cup of coffee, and watched the skies. helen suggested we walk the dogs before the rain came, and so we left the recuperating clemmie at home, and leashed up moe and charley and lucy.
we walked the hilly 2 mile loop of our neighborhood as the sky drizzled on us in fits and starts. the wind began to blow. i took off my sweater, felt the rain fall on my shoulders. the pups panted. helen and i walked and walked and laughed. we channeled cesar milan's calm-and-assertiveness when neighborhood stray dogs approached, barking. not one came near.
i tell this story for its manifold significance to me:
1. i got out of bed after a long night of nightmares. a year ago, i would have remained pinned to my bed, probably for the whole day. the colossal fear felt so acutely in dreamlife would have stolen the energy required for me to simply take on the day.
2. even though my workout was cancelled, i made my body get off its ass. this is a big deal for a sloth like me.
3. i had a wonderful morning with my love, not to mention my dogs. i enjoyed the neigborhood where i live. the bad juju of bad dreams fell away, and my day is now light and joyful.
despite the now-black sky, the tornado watch, the rain pelting the roof--i am calm. and strong. and i am very ready to dive into barton springs on new years morning, holding helen's hand. what better way to christen the new year than baptism into it?
twas the last day of work before christmas, and all through the office...
the good saturday workers waited with hope for santa cloffice.
i think that's how the poem goes anyway.
in a mere forty minutes, i get to drive home in the rain and dive head first into yuletide cheer. bring on the pound cake, bring on the wine and spirits. i'm so ready.
all presents are wrapped. it's a decadent holiday this year. we've gone a little overboard with the gifts, but. there is so much to celebrate. gifts are tokens. we know it's not about the material things. still, i am counting the hours now until helen gets to open her presents...
we re-decorated the christmas tree last night. i suppose i was a tad bit naive in thinking the poor charlie brown tree would survive for two weeks in a house full of clem. and cats. clem chewed through two strings of lights, and successfully removed several branches from the tree's metal trunk. he'd like to think i don't know it was him who did it, but he has gotten into the habit of dragging everything he puts in his mouth to his little bed. his bed has been covered in fake pine branches for days now. incidentally, shiloh has taken up the hobby of breaking ornaments. i think we're at half capacity now.
and so: now our tree has a new string of lights whose wires are hopefully situated in a clem-proofed manner. we are hiding the ornaments until christmas eve. and the bad kitty spray bottle is nearby.
the house is full of lights and stars, and helen created a beautiful christmas spider. angela, the sock puppet christmas angel tree topper, is almost complete as well.
tomorrow, we are packing up tara and alllllll of our dogs, and driving out to mason to spend christmas eve with helen's mom. and christmas will be gorgeous: chris comes home from california! and tom is hosting a dog nativity play. i do believe that moe will play the part of a camel.
2006 may have come in with a thud, but she's going out with a bang!
the last two seconds are priceless. you may wish to freeze the frame to behold the cutest cuteness you have ever beheld.
before i go, however, here's a blurry shot of chloe and little gunther. (it's another view of the window from the bed, of course.) for size comparison, remember gunnie's brother pablo? (his name is now claus.) he is now the same size as chloe. gunther is, officially, tiny.
the recipe for relief right now looks like this: one part vicodin. two parts water. a whole effing gallon of it.
come on, sweet kidneys. please give birth to your precious stone. i'm over this.
we will SO miss calico number three (ie shiloh nouvel) when she goes to live with her greg (formerly gregg) next week. for now, we have a priceless bit of video caught last night. as we decorated the christmas tree, ms shiloh's ass somehow came into contact with the extra lights that come with christmas light strings. watch in glee as she twists and twirls to the tune of sufjan stevens. lucy makes a brief cameo, as does the beloved christmas tree itself:
oh, and. shameless plug. please and thank you...
no one can escape christmas cheer a la sufjan stevens. happy happy bananie.
pee ess, this was even featured over at perez hilton! sufjan, may you sell a bazillion more copies of your records.
thursday = day off.
no class today. doing a bit of work, with sufjan in my ears. helen is by my side, and we're sitting at cafe mundi. after a week of being sick and not working out (maria is also on vacation), my body was aching for some movement today. and so we hopped on our bikes and rode 4 miles to our favorite coffeeshop by the railroad tracks. my legumes were very happy to work. the ride that used to leave me winded now leaves me wanting more. i want to pedal and pedal and explore austin like i explored erie as a kid.
if there is anything i am learning from my experiment in living healthier, it's the reconnection with place. until i got my first car at age 19, i was very aware of place and distance. my main modes of travel had always been walking, biking, or bussing. i was intimately acquainted with the terrain of my city. i had an unconscious respect for time: you had to allow lots of time to get from point A to point B. and there was never an opportunity to simply zone out on the journey. my senses were always awake with city smells, sights, and sounds. wherever i was, i was there.
and then i forgot. self-contained in my little car, i turned up the music, stepped on the gas, and lost touch with distance, with place. erie became canton became nashville, and i never noticed a difference.
how far, how fast we can travel from home without sensing the journey at all.
on my badass bike now, i am remembering. i only travelled four miles today, but i did not miss a moment of the trip. my own legs have brought me from home to the coffeeshop. i was chased by a dog. i made eye contact with people in their yards.
i am awake.
(pee ess: gunnie seems to be rallying again. my little fighter.)
sufjan is stored safely on my ipod, and he's singing christmas songs. i am sitting in a chair just as my mother sits, leaning on my hip with legs tucked behind me. in the small space behind my knees, charley is curled into a small ball, head propped on my calf. i call her my "firstborn". she is more my dog than any animal could ever be. she sleeps now, trusting in me with all she's got.
i left the lights off at dusk, and lit candles in the livingroom for quiet. i am home alone (with a houseful of animals, of course). it's a workday, but i am still at home, still fighting off this cold/flu thing that's kept me in the house since friday. i am trying to be calm, trying not to worry about where i am not. this quiet is a gift, i know it, i know it. so why can't i shut myself up a minute?
have you ever had all the elements for a mindful moment, but missed it altogether? i have everything i need. everything but the words to say, and the belief to mean them when they come.
if you survived the cuteness of the video below, prepare to recognize just how crazy we are with the pets.
note: we do have two visiting dogs, but the loud singers are ours.
i am proud to present: rehearsal night for dog choir caroling.
here is an example of the ongoing abomination of a love affair between one puppy and one kitten.
enjoy a cameo by tara, as well as the thrilling background of the eukanuba dogshow!
roberta flack sings through the record player. helen is in the kitchen, chopping potatoes for a veggie bake. clem and shiloh wrestle on the chair, carrying on their interspecies affair. she's got her arms around his neck and is biting his nose. now he's biting her ears. she gets angry, and leaves him. hopefully, he won't go after anyone's panties now. he's become one of those puppies lately.
even though i am stuffy, i can still smell the gorgeous coiled incense that chris brought us back from taiwan last summer. it smells like the home we have made. sweet and smoky. pure. it's no cheap, perfumy incense. its scent is holy, like the old A frame chapel of st. augustine's.
i need to write tonight, even though i don't have much in the way of words. i am working on an essay for class called "why i cannot write".
i miss having something to say.
i'm quiet, stopped up, but still quite content with my whereabouts. a little while ago, helen came in from the front yard and announced, "the lady at the halfway house down the street is asking the ice cream man what he wants for christmas." and i love the fact that the fantastically annoying and rusty ice cream vans never cease to come through our neighborhood, despite the weather being effing cold. it reminds me of life in belfast four years ago. i was there.