I am Siegfried, good intentioned, naive, strong. Lost in a deep, wintry forest, unaware that I have been rendered vulnerable by the idle twisting fall of a solitary linden leaf.
Winter Storm Warning! First day of sentence-
The world is heavy and still, every sound suspended in the frosty evening mists. The sky sags, a hushed, pink canopy stitched together with icy vapors and trapped light. Snow and sleet, angels falling slowly, perfect, orphaned, drifting end to end, lonely through the skirts of the January sky.
We chase one another in fitful expectant dreams, unaware. A silent film. The Sugarplum Fairy plays endlessly. We pull closer. Nestle deeper.
Under the crystalline shroud of winter, the sun never really rises and never really sets. The day is long and weak, anemic. We become sudden prisoners. Although prisoners of great comfort, stoically exiled under family quilts, lingering over unending breakfasts, newspaper in hand, content in the company of one another's laziness. We feast, move slowly, take long showers, aristocratic convicts clutching soft green Fiestaware mugs, pampered charges escaping the attention of a hard warden.
Second day of sentence comes to pass-
Daughter and poor, tired wife make brownies to pass time. Kingdad begs for mercy under foot of sudden migraine. Each tap-tap-tap of spoon makes kingdad wince. Dropped pot-lids make stomach kink. Poor, tired wife's compassion is useless. There is no hurt like this one. No kind word will do here. Heart is beating too close to lungs. Assassin in skull trying to kill me from inside out. Cannot see very much now. Take new medicine. Wonder if snakebite feels like this, disconnected, dull, pounding, absolute.
This migraine is different, smarter. Knows just how to break me. Like being tortured by closest friend, pushes all the right buttons. Almost ask poor, tired wife to call for help, but think passing into "great shade" unnoticed might offer quick relief.
Thankful for images of family now. Hear daughter calling "Dada!?" while running through house. Daughter's footsteps become erupting depthcharges, booming against optic nerve. Daughter's voice curses lovingly through poisoned blood. Just might make it.
Pass from Vulcan's hammer to sleep. Am I dead? Have the meds kicked in? I dream of the afterworld, my afterworld. I know this place. I concocted it. Don't we all concoct it. Still, so much bigger than I remember.
Headache is now angry glowing spirit imprisoned in lamp. I am like Ptah of Memphis, mummiform, layered smartly in taut thin sheets of quicksilver. The first being, calling forth the land to rise above the chaotic seas of creation. The hills of my afterlife are high and numerous, rolling gently above troubled waves. Everything is spun of fine silver snow. The sky is vast and iridescent. Always perfect twilight here.
Behind me stands a tall simple house, a golden house with high seamless walls. Featureless except for one mighty door, swung open, nothing visible past the massive hinge. Before me, rising above the swelling hills, like ship's masts, are cedar trees. Huge and solid, made of pure electrum, branches fanning out into the sky, lovers fingers lost in a stormy tangle of dark hair. Flaming fruit hang low in the icy branches. A soft wind stirs the sterling dust. It rises in a fantastic shimmer, chainmail in the morning sun, settling in the deep hollows of tree trunks and coating the evergreen leaves of the golden fruit.
I am here alone for awhile. Aware only of my own presence. The lantern's light fades, persimmon to saffron to river chalk, to a thin curl of smoke. The endless evening darkens until I am pulled silently into the open gate.
Inside the gate, the quiet hymn of daughter and poor, tired wife breathing deeply together, of nervous dog flushing squirrel from the tall dry grasses of her dreams, the manic sputter of fat, sleeping kitty. There is the static hiss of sleet against the storm windows, like that of an old record playing and the sound of air freezing in a perfect multi-colored halo around the invisible moon...
It never ceases to amaze me, the mere hint of ice or snow in the southern weather forecast and society breaks down. Kingdad thinks society has already gone bust, until the word "icestorm" appears, swathed in a provocative red banner lazily scrolling across the bottom of the television screen. OK, I confess. I watch "it" from time to time. I draw the line at Oprah though. People watch Oprah for the same reason that they slow down to look at an accident.
The word "icestorm" must be a code. An enigmatic message that initiates complete anarchy. "Calling all jackasses, commence hoarding!" Typically sheep-like citizens instantly become wolves. Grocery stores are overrun, everyone lunging for day old English muffins and out of date milk. Entire pallets of eggs are gone in seconds. Aisles of dubious off-brand bottled water -water that once cooled a reactor in Eastern Europe perhaps- are decimated by sweaty mobs. Good snow fearing folk are wrapped from head to toe in performance fleece. The hive has gone crazy! My fellow Southerners lost in a white-out of paranoia.
I brave greedy swarm for noble cause, daughter's breakfast. Daughter has few eggs left to scramble and no turkey bacon to feed nervous dog with. Daughter's happiness is worth confronting end-of-world scene. Eating breakfast helps one endure the end times I hear.
Must go grease skillets and ready for disaster now.
I've seen this film before- starts the same way, ends the same way, always playing. You can come in at any point and know whats going on, leave, return, sleep through it, talk through it, mouth the lines, doesn't matter. It's sillyputty, it's white noise, it's reassuring and cozy, it's my day.
Believe story starts/ends in rocking chair on previous evening, not really sure.
Woke up wondering where I was until hearing poor, tired wife call out name. Name starts to sound familiar at increased volume. Believe from intonation that poor, tired wife has been calling name for quite a while. Perhaps this is a method poor, tired wife learned from Maoist "deprogramming" literature.
Kingdad is not to be flushed from the tall, sand-hued reeds of dreamland so easily however. Enter cute, ruthless apprentice. Daughter quickly joins assault with a skillful thrust of car keys toward facial area. Thus I am delivered from the pale violet marshes of sleep into an abrupt, formless morning. Daughter demands bacon, eggs and toast and then speeds away.
I will go, give up, hands upon head if there is coffee to be had. Surely there must be coffee to cushion my re-entry to the world of the waking. Poor, tired wife's love for me is clearly expressed day after day by the making of coffee, which she can no longer drink. Yesterday was no exception, there was coffee, well not wholly. There was an unholy mixture of caffeinated coffee and de-caffeinated coffee. Sure, it was hot, and tasted familiar, and woke at least half of me up, but in retrospect it was akin to having half a soul. OK, extreme analogy. How about this one- masturbation compared to gettin' busy to some Al Greene.
After 3rd cup and local section of newspaper I begin to wonder, is there a certain layer of consciousness, a dim stairway between fatigue and death where dreams originate? Have been up and down stairs often these last two evenings, looking for truth, lamp in hand, a lonely sonambulist, pacing, latern's light eaten by the dark mouth of sleep. Entranced by the echo of my own droning snores, I continue to search, a faint dream of golden Troy...
Perhaps waking stiff-necked, head slumped against shoulder, chest covered in drool, wine glass still in hand, in over-rocked rocking chair is as good as it really gets. Perhaps as answers go, this is all there is to be found within the ruins of rest. Quotes the raven, "I'm so fucking tired!"
I do know this for sure, on the verge of the preceding day's twilight, poor, tired wife and daughter conjure up images of vanished Pompeii, knotted together, pulled tightly into one another's warmth and comfort on sofa. Both pale but glowing, cheeks flushed pink like early march camellia buds. Poor, tired wife and daughter breath heavily, slowly, in a way that makes me stop, just for a second, feeling like I have dumbly chanced upon something, something too sacred to disturb.
Staying where I am, I close my eyes and surrender, isn't this how these kinds of stories should go?
Can't even remember how day started at this point. Seems like it went something like this- Woke up in stupor, fumbled through day, gave up and took midday nap with daughter, woke up in stupor and continued to fumble through day.
Daughter attends school/playgroup/keepparentfromgoinginsane setting for a few hours twice a week. Today is one of those blessed days where daughter gets dropped off, allowing kingdad the chance to piss away few precious hours cleaning and numbly wondering where time goes.
Occasional administrative by-product generated by the hosts of these little outings is a newsletter that aims to keep kingdad informed. From this infrequent publication -which is printed on a most calming shade of green paper- is gleaned information of great importance. For instance, who knew that packing a PB&J sandwich in daughter's lunch could trigger heinous reaction in weak, allergy prone schoolmate? Seems that "trace residue from nuts" can be quite harmful in the hands of berserk toddlers. Further more, who knew that today was a teacher's workday? Not kingdad. Somehow this information was hidden from me, camouflaged within the cool, deceptive cloak of cheap green paper. Perhaps others caught it, but no, not kingdad.
So, jacked up on coffee and strawberry milk respectively, kingdad and daughter embrace the frigid morning drive, arrive at destination with time to spare for once, penetrate the numerous Fischer-Price My First Security System features at facility, and once inside, walk with great expectation up seemingly endless stairwell, only to stumble into the freshly sanitized void that is teacher's workday.
Imagine the movie -28 Days Later- but there is no deadly virus, there are no blood spewing zombies, only pale teachers milling around like miners in the darkened, quiet, child-free hallways, while their spouses diligently scrub away "nut residue" from tacky, plastic castles and three wheeled day-glo dumptrucks. Imagine kingdad and daughter as we arrive, giddy, heroic, only to become bewildered, disappointed, victims of a savage and unknown mandate.
Home we go! Daughter blankly calls out name of classmate as she is strapped into cold carseat, looks away, then sighs. Nothing left to do but scramble half dozen eggs and fry last of turkey bacon while English muffin burns to a cinder in beautiful German toaster. We move on quickly in this house. Daughter happily sprays nervous dog with jet of cold water from nozzle in sink. Anything to keep daughter content while kingdad sizzles and flips away frustration of lost morning. Nervous dog needs bath anyway. No harm done. Wet, nervous, stinky dog quickly forgives all when offered blackened English muffin. Our day can be salvaged.
Yes, it may be freezing outside, and the day off to an uncertain start, but overhead the sun is a radiant being, it's golden visage framed perfectly in the vibrant blue canopy of the cold January noon. What a fantastic opportunity for a wintersday walk with daughter. We will surely triumph over teacher's workday.
I brew fresh coffee with travel mug in mind. Sippy cups are filled, sandwich bags stuffed with goldfish. Daughter readied, mittened hands held high, shrieks wildly, "walk! walk dada! walk!" We are happy, we have purpose. Daughter quickly becomes silent, hands fall to side, daughter becomes still and focused, perfectly arched eyebrows furrow, soft features sharpen. A distinct heavy odor now emanates from all aspects of daughter...
A heinous diaper, a few heavy yawns, mounds of dishes -it's time to fold. The couch forgives all, the forgotten workday, the aborted walk, the overall haze of our so-called day. All frantic efforts instantly suspended, and we yield. The ringer is off, shades are lowered, daughter is warm against me and begins to snore.
Spend morning listening to friend's lusty tales while daughter quickly creates vast debris field around us. We simply live to do this with friend every Monday. Our weekly gossip is juicy and bitter. We down pots of coffee and reveal yet again that we are quickly getting older, smarter and more needy. Daughter breaks in from time to time with adamant request for buttered toast.
So, over the weekend, friend got some much deserved romancin' after long hiatus. Also over weekend, friend got much deserved beautiful, pink suede handbag, although sans suede brush! Shame on you thoughtless retailer! Still, so happy for friend. Throughout morning my attention keeps drifting from friends escapades to friend's handbag. Hmmm... So much room for extra diapers and snacks. Hmmm...When will I get some lovin'? I am green with envy. Strange how necessity guides ones thoughts.
Daughter took four hour siesta after friend left because daughter refuses to sleep through the night. Daughter is 21 months old. Daughter is adorable, but daughter is a vampire, feasting on poor, tired wife. She feeds all night and sleeps all day and I have become the Renfield to her Dracula. Daughter keeps poor, tired wife poised on the threshold of the land of the living.
Must save poor, tired wife somehow. She certainly deserves it, keeping both of her parasites well provided for and happily at home. In spite of her fatigue poor, tired wife is remarkably kind, loving and supportive. Poor, tired wife is also a HOTTIE! Hard to believe she achieves all of this on less than five hours of sleep a night.
So sorry, kingdad is a deep sleeper.
Everyday is alike- feed daughter huge southern-style breakfast, watch Sesame Street, color, eat daughter's leftovers, throw toys at fat, sleeping kitty, wash mounds of dishes, drink pots of coffee, make lunch, wash mounds of dishes, paint daughters -ok, mine too- toenails gold, read, run around dining room table, play with and destroy expensive kitchen gadgets, run errands, buy groceries, twirl in circles while listening to inappropriate music, make poor, nervous dog more nervous, watch Elmo DVD again and again, and hopefully take four hour NAP!
You get it by now right? Every day is alike, but wonderful still. I feel like a beetle that is happily trapped in amber.
Daughter is awake and crying now, must put down wine and attempt to offer comfort before delivering her to poor, tired wife's arms.