29 June 2006

going postal

going postal by McBeth.

Hi. My name is McBeth and I have a thing.
(you: Hi McBeth.)

We all have our things, yeah, and that helps me to keep my own thing in a kind of well-but-barely-balanced perspective.

My thing is mail.
I don't mind receiving it.
I just somehow forget to check it in any regular kind of way.

And then even when I do remember to unstick the 43 pieces of junkmail mixed in with the 11 important things from the tight confines of the corner cluster mailbox over and across the street, I just can't get myself to open and respond appropriately. The stuff just piles up like Pisa waiting waiting waiting. It's practically a dare for me, the mail pile hoping I'll add that final camel's back breaking postcard.

And then the thing that happens is that kind'v 'if I'm not looking at it, it ceases to exist' profundity that we marvel at in young infants because they're actually WORKING ON overcoming the thing. But I can vouch for not being the slightest bit admirable in that "awww lookit there, she's growing up so quickly!" ways because I'm nearly 40 years old and the cuteness goes away for those near and dear to me after various agencies over time have temporarily shut off various functions important to my life to get my attention about how important it is to--

(a) receive the bill
(b) open the bill, reviewing carefully
and then
(c) pay.thedamn.bill.

I felt rather proud of myself today for bringing the mail in. My son approached me, asking if I had. "Why yes darling, I did in fact bring in the mail - what, it's not like I don't always eventually get to it. Anyway, why do you ask?"

He was looking for his paycheck. Now I cannot say with one hundred percent assurance that I did not see that paycheck in the tiny pigeonhole of a mailbox, but I WAS juggling a camera and about 62 pieces of mail. So it is within a certain realm of possibility to me that his paycheck could have accidentally been "misfiled" along with the crappy junk mail into the big garbage dumpster outside.

I've crawled into that big ol' stinky dumpster before for lesser things, but I'm not excited about second-guessing my second-guesses, so if his paycheck IS in the dumpster, it'll stay safe and sound for one more day. Otherwise, the check might just show up in tomorrow's mail.

The entire episode has exhausted me to such a point that I believe I shall take a headache remedy and lie down for a while very shortly.

27 June 2006


ooh by McBeth.

Wordlessly, she cast aside for me any misunderstandings I might up until that point have had of her.

She was a woman in her late 50s, her ash colored hair coiffed into the style she’d seen what seemed like only days ago, modeled on the front of that Jiffy pattern by the petite blonde for the Surfside Blue butterfly dress she made for the luau-themed party the neighbors had thrown in ’82. She herself was also petite and, she had recently learned, receding into her own shell, as her bone density had been busy structurally deteriorating without ever even having had the decency to utter a sound. She and Dale, her husband of 40 years last June, may have thought they had reached a polite but final d├ętente over the toilet seat issue early on in their marriage, yet it continually found new and different hosts in which to implant itself between them. This newest incarnation was the forward and backward adjustment of the driver’s seat in their car.

Why it was just this very morning while he was searching for a tie to match the loafers he would wear – the ones that don’t pinch his corns quite so much – when Dale had bellowed from behind their bedroom door about how he’d nearly ruptured his spleen yesterday because she’d neglected to put that goddamned car seat back where it’s supposed to go. She distractedly sighed ‘Sorry honey, I guess I forgot.’ in the general direction of the hallway while sopping up a small coffee spill on their otherwise spotless Formica kitchen countertop.

He emerged from the bedroom whipping the tail of the tie around in a circular motion a final time. He slipped the wagging tail through the ball of tie material below his neck and wiggled it into a neat knot, muttering to no one in particular but in her general direction.

“A man has to be able to count on a few things, yanno. Think of the medical bills we’ll have to wade through if I’m injured! You’d have to take care of all of ‘em on your own because I’d be laid up in a goddamned hospital bed, that’s where I’d be. How’d you like that, hunh? I have. To be able. To get into my own damn car. Without. Having to check it out first. Do you understand that?”

She kissed him on both his cheeks the same way she’d kissed both his cheeks every day without fail for 40 years, and as Dale shoveled his arms into his suit coat she reminded him that supper would be on the table at 5:30 tonight. He left the house grousing about last week’s meatloaf leftovers and after the door slam echoed for a few seconds, she was again alone in the tidy and quiet kitchen.

‘Dale just doesn’t understand’, she thought to herself. ‘He is a good man and he has provided well for the two of us over all these years. I suppose the thing is his strength lies not in any deliberate flexibility he may have, but rather in his ability to push through’.

She transferred the remaining cup from the sink into the dishwasher and set to making a list of needed items from the grocery store. Anticipating another potential meatloaf tirade, she opted instead to prepare the baked chicken Dale liked so much. Rice, chicken breasts, cream of mushroom soup … oh, and maybe a salad on the side. She performed a perfunctory check of the canned goods cabinet to verify that she would need another can of soup. ‘Oh dear, when did I use up the last can of beef broth? I’d better add that to the list too’.

A brief moment of panic set in as she reached for her handbag and the key ring. “What day is today?” she asked herself. If it was Wednesday Dale would have taken the car to drive to work. If it was Thursday he would have taken the public bus to meet with John for coffee at the diner after which John would drop him off at work. But a quick scan from inside the front door window of the short driveway and along the street revealed no vehicle.

She moved to the door separating the house from the garage, unbolted one lock and unchained the safety lock while she peered from the open crack into the dark garage. There it is. That Dale, he has a way of making his opinions abundantly clear. Just to hammer home his point he’d rather let her do the insignificant extra work of opening the garage door than having to admit that he may be overreacting.

With purse and keys in tow, she slipped between the driver’s seat and the steering wheel. Reaching below her she fiddled with the seat adjuster until the seat skimmed forward, repositioning her torso to within inches of the steering column. She backed carefully out the driveway, apprehensively looking over both shoulders before entering the stream of traffic.

It was when she merged into the fast-moving highway traffic in which I was already driving that our lives intersected.

The on-ramp, a usually empty and extra-long stretch of here’s your chance, was full to bursting behind her. A driver somewhere fairly far behind in the pack impatiently honked a car horn, frustrated with her puzzling adherence to the 55 mph speed limit. I glanced briefly out the passenger side window of my car at the weary look in her facial features; at the droopy edges of what I estimate was once a very pretty mouth. She clenched her elbows against her sides, the ‘7’ and reverse ‘7’ shapes of her arms meeting up at two matching steering wheel points, around which her small bony hands were wrapped like two terrified starfish.

Tentatively, she glanced up and out her driver’s side window toward me. Our eyes met; the edges of my eyes curled slightly upward into what I hoped would look to her like gentleness, like nobody demanding something other than goddamned meatloaf, like the possibility of merging without always having to submit to the faster and larger vehicle.

She looked toward me for only another second or two. Her veiny starfish fingers clutched tightly at the wheel, then relaxed, then fastened themselves firmly again as she pitched her steering wheel to the left, merging ahead of me with increasing speed into the swift flow of speeding commuters.

“Dale is lucky to have you in his life”, I whispered to myself. I tried to keep her car in sight, but as the traffic unremittingly washed around and over her, she was gone.

26 June 2006

and in other news...

bill bennet explains marriage

My vote for best quote of the interview:
"Divorce is not caused because 50% of marriages end in gayness"
-Mr. Jon "They're Sensible but They're Lucky Underpants" Stewart

call me McXuanzong

There's no particular reason the photo there is accompanying this; I simply shot it and liked it.

Maybe it's the perspective of a wedding that few of us pay attention to any more (unless 'we' are under the age of five)? Do you pay attention to what you are looking at in an active way, taking in clues from the scene to put together an apt explanation for what might be happening? Cool, me too. At least I try to fill in the missing bits with sensible details.

So who needs the heads and faces (if 'we' are five years olds attending a wedding) when the pretty golden shoes, the lacey gold thread on your aunt's pink linen dress and the strange habit of throwing flower petals onto a white runner are the details you remember of this event when you return to reflect upon it in 25 years?


I took a Discovery Channel quiz this morning; again - with no real purpose in mind. I sweat through a very tight tiebreaker (all metaphorical, I assure you. My eyes weren't even fully open yet. The morning coffee ritual, you understand...) which revealed that if I was to be suddenly imposed as Empress of Everything it is most likely the latest incarnation of Tang Xuanzong that I would most resemble.

But see, I have a theory about what I'd want to be Empress OF. Being shot into a position by no other reason than people just stroking their chins and suddenly coming to some enlightened decision could have disturbing and far-reaching consequences not only for me, but for all those poor fools who would say 'You are our next Empress, McBeth. It's true! We read it in our morning tea leaves which are NEVER known to fail'.

Power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely. There are our two givens, right? So if I can convince the sages to let me be the Empress of My Own Self (EMOS, for short) I would be ruling over a kingdom of ...baa-daa-bing... one. The damage I would probably inflict no matter if it was purposeful or due to neglect would be mitigated somewhat by the citizenry stats in my kingdom.

Sure, if they're willing to just let me sit there looking like the Empress of Very Much More Than She Really IS, I'd willingly fill in and hold the spot until the tea leaves revealed a slight miscalculation which would lead to a new Empress being installed. But only as long as we all understand I don't want to rule everyone else - not really, I just want to be the Queen of Me.

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