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I'm just gonna take a second here

... because I had one of those "the best camera is the one you have with you" moments.

st-johns-in-november

And I took a shot, and put the phone away, and brought the groceries in, and made a fast batch of carrot soup for Myron's dad, and reheated some rotisserie chicken for myself, and did a face mask, and then I remembered that I wanted to write a little something today, something barely bigger than a photo caption. I checked out the photo. It was close enough, so here it is--after what feels like two full weeks of cloudy skies at a time when I need crispness most, the gray blew away and the colors came out again. 

To think I used to believe branches were unforgivably ugly.

 

today the way I play the game is not the same

Can I say I like having the excuse to write such short, inconsequential things and to have them count for something? I do. I'm going to be all about the brevity. FREEDOM.

'cause I would really really love to stick around

I have had chronic autumn whining disease since I was about eight years old. As The Cult of Fall became ever more prominent in recent years I always just thought autumn lover types were harmlessly insane. That first yellow leaf always gave me more foreboding "Winter is coming" vibes than Ned Stark ever could. The urban forest here is gorgeous, though, even though it's almost uniformly golden and less showy than eastern landscapes. Walking down streets like this, when the light is weaker and the dry leaves clatter against each other, you feel held. It's kind of amazing.

riverheightswpg

humors

Do you remember the first time you learned about humors? Bile and blood and phlegm. I prefer not to mess with the humors of others and would rather not be reminded of the fact that we're all just keeping meat fresh. There is nothing like being in intimate quarters with an elderly person to get you over that, quickly. It is really something to witness a body in decline, and when it comes with a mind in decline, too, well... well, I cannot say it any more plainly than it breaks my heart every few minutes and then I have to go back over and let it be broken again and again and again. And "breaks my heart" is far too trite for this pain but I can't bring myself to try to put any art in it that doesn't belong there. It's pointless to polish it. It gets sprayed with blood and any crime show will tell you it's almost impossible to wash blood away.

It feels unfair to discuss Myron's parents on a blog; they don't really understand the internet in even the most basic ways.  They deserve their privacy. And yet they are such a big part of my mind that writing about almost anything else feels shallow. I read a lot of caregiver blogs a few years ago when I knew we were moving here, as if I could prepare myself for this. It's possible that if I were more open about it, other people would find what I wrote, do the same kind of homework I tried to do. Truth: The homework only takes you so far and only the practicum matters. The practicum comes with blood, phlegm, bile. Shit and piss. Tears, Christ, so fucking many.

what I've got

I have rosy cheeks tonight from the combined effects of a Sunday night bourbon and a hardcore exfoliating mask. I have a glob of hydrocortisone on a spider bite. (Oh! I have a spider bite. And I have a few little lines drawn around the perimeter of the angry red area to make sure that it's not growing. We'll see tomorrow, we'll see.) I have all my blankets and pillows piled up behind me and I'm reclining against them while I type this, and I feel like a princess, with very rosy cheeks. I've got a book I'm supposed to be reading for book club this week, but instead I saw Allison's post and I felt this rush of affection for her and for rainy November trying so hard to be its own thing instead of being pre-Christmas and for this old dusty blog and I thought, well, hell, if she can do it so can I. That sounds so wrong, as if I think it's easy! If it were easy everyone would do it. If it were easy I would not have thought, every time this bit of internet crossed my mind, oh you should cancel that subscription and let the fucker die. 

I have more time, more people, and more to do than I thought I did. I have, small as it is, a notched groove with my name on it, and if you twist me just right, I lock into place where I belong, with a job to do, holding things together. This is not a new feeling. In fact, it's a very old one, but I thought I had put it away like other childish things. Here you are again, old friend feeling. Good to see you.

I have a fresh mascara to replace the one I bought *mumble* ago; I have an eyedropper full of oil-blend that keeps my hands from drying out; I have a stack of white washcloths that still smell like bleach no matter what kind of laundry additives I use. I have more lipsticks and no eye shadows. I know because I threw them all away; I look like a woman from the 1986 Penney's catalog when I wear eye shadow and it's time I accepted this. (You guys.) I have two teeny Tom Ford perfume samples from Sephora and I'm wondering if I love one of them enough to buy a full bottle, or if they don't do it for me. Myron likes them both; he's no help. I have a husband who appreciates fragrance and a mother-in-law who can't bear it and a city that posts reminders in every public place that scent-free is kinder than scented. I want to be kind. It wars against the way I feel ten minutes after a bit of Nirvana Black has started doing its thing with my skin.  I have, then, a good excuse to spray anything I want against my wrist when I know I'm spending the day with Supernatural on Netflix, a paint roller and a gallon of warm white, and the black tank top I ruined six years ago when I painted the house in Ottawa. I guess it's not ruined if it still hangs on and does its work.

 The last of the country blue is officially gone from this house. 

The last of the country blue is officially gone from this house. 

We could ruin a Penney's catalog, my brothers and me, in the two months before Christmas. My mother kept it in the end table, below the phone. I wrote my initials beside the items that I wanted, as if anyone else in the house would want that pink gingham bedding set with its matching curtains and printed lampshade, that set of Krystle Carrington heels, that Barbie roadster. I would give a lot to look through one of them now and see those initials again, to tally what I thought I needed to have to become Next Phase Kimmy. I have bought a lot this past year and some of it really did change me. It's strange how right I was back then, even if the things I chose didn't do the trick the way I hoped they would.

I have an hour or so left on November first but baby, if I told you everything now there'd be nothing left for tomorrow. Allison wrote "It won't be pretty, and it won't be easy, and there might be no one left here to read it, but it will be done." She's more determined than I am. If you're anything like me, your friends are better at things than you are and you can pull that "sincerest form of flattery" line on them and jump in on a good time. I have an urge to jump.

five

I feel like it's a good thing, or maybe just a necessary one, to occasionally get sick of the sound of your own voice, no matter how grand your self-esteem may be. If you have a blog you can take time off from contributing to it, but unless you shut it down the voice is still there, hanging out, collecting six stray page views a day. Someone out there is hearing you for the first time and deciding if you screech or echo or ring like a big old church bell. If you're lucky someone will tell you what you sound like, and if you're very lucky they will say there's something in your sound that reminds them of a Dolly Parton song, the one they expect to hear when they go to their great reward. They will confess that, yes, Dolly Parton is their personal vision of what God must be like. There are worse religions.

*

 Sand Verbena, Joshua Tree, and Dune Primrose. 

Sand Verbena, Joshua Tree, and Dune Primrose. 

I'm wearing Kai again lately, and Child too.  Kai is nectar for the skin and perfect for wearing out of the house because it won't clobber anyone else. I wore it Saturday while I walked through St. Boniface with the local WWPW group and caught stray notes of it when my scarf moved against my throat. Child is for feeling your humanity and opening up Notepad windows to write blog posts and breathing deeply and listening to Myron talk about sports anthropologists. These two fragrances are both oils; I've gotten away from anything that sprays these days. A tiny ball-stoppered vial of The Exact Friction of Stars sits in the little dish where I stow my hair-clippies; I only wear that when I wear heels. Near my watches, I keep a trio of the old Aveda Desert Pure-Fume oils, also in rollerballs. They're ancient and haven't broken down after all these years (twelve or thirteen, I think???). I'll be sad when they're gone. I wore Joshua Tree the day I got married. It's bliss, green and gorgeous bliss. I'll tell you what, though: Helmut Lang is bringing back their amazing fragrances and this means I can use what's left of my bottle of the EdP without raising my fist to the heavens every time. And oh, I will spray it, will I ever.

*

It's fall now and that usually hurts. This year it doesn't. It's like that year I realized I liked raw tomatoes after hating them all my life. Autumn isn't beautiful here and its main function seems to be reminding you how short summer was. (We had snow in May. We'll have snow again shortly. They say it snowed the other day; I didn't see it so it's just not true.) But it's crisp and everyone's happy about football and hockey coming soon and the face-paring winds and the snow itself, all of which reminds Winnipeg that there are some things it does best, and one of those is winter. They tell you that if you dress for it, it shouldn't bother you. Believe them at your peril, but dress for it anyway.

*

Wish list: A pair of chocolate-milk colored argyle socks, in soft soft cotton. A thick winter hat that will cover my escape-artist ears but won't wreak too much hat-head on my new longer hair. A pocket universe where I can escape to read without time passing in this one. The perfect lavender-gray nail polish. Corduroys, so deeply burgundy that they look black. One last perfect peach (or time travel back to August for one). That I had hidden away a slab of alder-smoked salmon the last time we made it, so that I could eat it for breakfast tomorrow. Health and ease for the people I love. And maybe for the Helmut Lang people to convince someone in power to resurrect Guess Original, which I wore during the years I believed in myself the most.

*

The danger of getting sick of your own voice and subsequently going silent is that eventually you have things to say, some big and portentous and others tiny and meaningless, as ephemeral as a fragrance. Silence builds like noise does. And then no matter how you begin, it feels like this:

This is me, trying not to be silent, clearing my throat in case of portentous things. Making noise out of smells. Remembering my mother's giant, heavy, cold bottle of Obsession, which I got to use on special occasions. Taking thirty seconds to imagine the sacraments in the church of Dolly Parton. Dressing for it.