It was rumored the world was going to be without incandescent light bulbs soon. We would be forced to buy fluorescents at twice the price. ‘Think of the big picture,’ they said, ‘of the energy you will save in the long run, the good you will do the planet.’
Maybe it was all apocalyptic hype. I haven’t heard much about it lately. But, since I’m all for conserving energy, especially if it will close down a nuclear reactor or two (as if), I coughed up enough money to outfit my entire house in standard bulbs, and bought four fluorescents for the fixture in my bathroom.
Is it just me, or are these not the noisiest light bulbs in the history of light bulbs? I can hear them buzzing over brushing my teeth! My beard trimmer, for crying out loud!
Okay, maybe not my beard trimmer, but they are noisy, and I’m just wondering if any of these green geniuses stopped to calculate the additional noise pollution that was going to be generated when every socket is plugged with one of these beauties.
The TVA sounded their sirens at ten-thirty that morning, just as they had said they would. Lilith sat in the attic beside the east window on a milking stool she had brought up from the barn. As the low moan climbed to a steady wail, she searched the rim of the valley for signs of the men, the sirens, but saw nothing.
Her late husband John’s pocket watch lay open on the sill there in front of her. Lilith read the engraving on the inside of its shell, ‘Our thanks, for thirty years of service, Norfolk and Western Railway’. It was ten thirty-three. The wailing begun to ebb. She had twenty-seven minutes to change her mind.
Lilith closed the watch and slipped it into her dress pocket. She went downstairs and out on to the porch. ‘It’s a fine spring morning,’ John would have said. And it was, too, cool and crisp, not a cloud in the sky.
Lilith followed the stones that John had set for her, to a fenced garden, where a dozen gray statues—angels and Saints mostly—stood among beds that had yet to bloom.
Lilith had had John buried in the garden, beneath a willow they planted together when he first went to work for Norfolk and Western. He had made a three stone bench, too, enormous and silly beside the little whip of tree. ‘I’ll drink sweet-tea and catch up on my reading under this tree some day,’ he had said.
Lilith smiled. How little he knew. That was exactly what John had been doing when his heart had failed him two years ago.
She sat down on the bench beside her husband and the tree.
Had the statues always had their heads bowed like that?
Lilith couldn’t remember. She took John’s watch from her pocket. Ten fifty-three. Seven minutes.
Around the willow, Lilith had tied off the heavy rope John had used to pull logs and vehicles. She wrapped the loose end around her waist three times and made a square knot, just as John had shown her.
The slow moan of the sirens settled into the valley again. The cry rose and held steady for a minute before it began to recede. Then the valley was silent.
Two minutes passed. Three. Lilith began to wonder if something might have changed.
Then she heard the first trees snap. The earth began to tremble beneath her feet. Far up, where the valley turned, there was the glint off sunlight off of water.
It wasn't nearly what she had expected. That won’t even cover the house, she thought.
She was considering returning to the attic when it came—just as they said it would—a wall of water that reached the valley’s rim, a steel-grey mountain, alive. In its churning maw, she saw houses, barns and livestock. The water seemed to be moving at a snail's pace, the way a mountain would, yet it was over twenty miles to where the valley turned, and already it had covered half that distance.
Lilith closed John’s watch. Holding it tight in her hand, she slipped from the bench and lay beside her husband, among the Saints and Angels.
I’m heartbroken to learn that the disability check our Government was kind enough to reward your nineteen-year old ass for having an overdose-induced stroke, isn’t enough to support your continued drug use.
However, I can’t see how burning the rubber off tires nightly is going to get you the additional cash you require. There really isn’t that much steel in a steel-belted radial. Besides, it’s probably too strenuous a job for a stroke victim. Don’t you think? Not to mention the smell and the smoke… unless of course, you’re huffing that. Is it still called huffing?
Never the less, if it’s quick scrap metal you’re after (I’d give you some, but lord knows you’ve stolen it all already), I suggest that you remove a sheet of steel or two from your trailer’s roof. You could tell your mother it blew off in a storm. As decrepit as that trailer is, how could she doubt it?
Then the insurance… Oh, you probably don’t have insurance. Well, I’m sure whoever is sending your monthly check will be more than happy to replace your, ‘storm damaged’ roof. Imagine how much metal you can take to the scrap yard then! You’ll have enough money for another overdose.
So, I thought I'd explain why Erin Morgenstern’s, The Night Circus, has been up on my, ‘What I’m Reading’ doohickey for so long. Frankly, the book sucks. I can't read more than three pages in a sitting.
Morgenstern has got this terse, sesquipedalian thing going on—kind of like Hemingway meets Dickens—that (for me), is like trying to navigate an obstacle course while having bricks thrown at you. I mean, I like wordy stuff. But god, make it flow girl.
Too, the novel is about as contrived and self-indulgent as I have ever read. It's like a guided tour of the author's journal, or a sketchbook... "Oh look! Here's another nifty thing I thought up."
"This is a marvelous book." Yeah right, Audrey Niffenegger. Apparently we have different copies.
“I mean, we can use one of the old ones if it is. I have them right here in my back pack.”
“It’s not the condom. The condom is fine.”
“I just thought you’d like to try something different.”
“It’s not the condom.”
“Is it me?”
“Of course not.”
“Well what then?”
“Tell me Eric.”
“It’s kind of embarrassing.”
“Embarrassing? I thought we got all the embarrassing stuff out of our systems last summer at Burning Man."
“It’s not like that.”
“Okay. Then what?”
“It’s that goddamn glen down there—the mountains, the river, the trees, the sunset. The whole majestic shebang.”
“I thought you’d love this place.”
“I do. I totally do.”
“I love this place. But I can’t make love in this place.”
“Freakin’ Bob Ross.”
“Bob Ross? As in, ‘The Joy of Painting’, Bob Ross? As in, Mr. Happy Tree Shapes, Bob Ross, with the killer fro, silk shirts and gold medallion?”
“Yeah, that Bob Ross.”
“God, I loved that guy.”
“Me to. I mean, he's the reason I paint.”
“Seriously. I started watching his show with my grandmother, back when I was a kid. I was mesmerized. I've seen every episode.”
Yeah. But now any time I get near a fucking sunset and I can’t get that son of a bitch out of my head. It’s like he’s standing right there, ‘I hope you have your big glass of ice tea, Eric. Now let’s just go ahead and dab a little Alizarin Crimson on our brushes….”
...2011’s Journal is archived, a year’s worth of living shelved on the head of a pin. I probably should have printed a hard copy. But god, the paper and ink. Screw it. As if some post-Armageddon, cockroach-eating dreg, wearing my thumb drive in his left earlobe would be elated to discover a printed copy of last year’s three hundred and sixty-five days of whiny cynicism.
Anyway. Time to start afresh.
In years past, I have contemplated going old school and replacing my retired, Microsoft journal with something leather-bound and acid free. I deluded myself with visions of Craftsman script and borders, inked thick with honeysuckle vines and wide-eyed peepers. I have seven such traditional journals, with three pages rendered exactly thus. All are in a box in the attic.
Hi, my name is Steven, and I’m addicted to spell-check and one-click synonyms—so what.
This year, I have no such hand-penned inclinations. This year, I’m keeping it simple. I’m just going to write. Like I used to. Goofy, stupid, sad, poetry, prose. Everything. And all of it goes to the blog. Yes! Yes!