Song of my 40s, still life

Workshop of Giuseppe Arcimboldo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Workshop of Giuseppe Arcimboldo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I can palm the cat’s head in my lap when she’s napping in the morning and it’s still dark — with just candles and Brian Eno playing, sometimes you can’t tell if it’s even on, that’s the thing about ambient music.

When life starts to feel like an illusion, with props you’ve put up inside a child’s shoebox house made out of paper trees and cotton ball stars. They will drag you out of it one day and you’ll see it this way, for real.

I started getting cold, that’s when it started. I used to take all cold showers when I was training to climb mountains: if you climb mountains you start to think this way, that you can control your tolerance to the cold, and somehow this makes sense. Like breaking in a new pair of hiking boots by walking all over the city in them with no socks, to toughen my feet.

I treated my body like a dog and I was an unkind master. I forced myself to do things in Yoga you can’t really force, I bent myself out of shape like a wire clothes hanger. Then one day, I lost my nerve. The parallel from climbing applies to life, the way we do things, why we climb.

When I climbed my first mountain, I couldn’t imagine failing, it wasn’t in the plan. It’s the only thing that got me to the top, my will. When you start looking down, start thinking about falling, that’s when it starts.

I died with Styx in my head, Come sail away with me, the exuberance in the reprise and the ancient wailing almost Wagnerian in scale, climbing higher through the clouds and the synthesizers, the 1970s.

Now, the sound of a windstorm outside, hoping the power doesn’t go out, the dog smacking her lips, sighing, Middle-aged.

I started losing weight, but it was like my body was caving in on itself, collapsing. And I played The Sugarcubes for my daughter not because I like Björk but so she can hear the power of her, all the beauty and imagination in her voice, all she could be, too.

And the dog sleeps sideways, might as well be dead she looks so serene. She stretches out and settles in, and the timer on the lamp downstairs clicks off. It’s dark most hours of the day. And I must write to remember, as I scribble in the dark. I must write to live while I can I will, this way of stretching out when we feel like we’re collapsing. To make ourselves feel more real by opening the lid on our shoebox house and inviting others to look inside.

This post dedicated to Michelle Green and her blog contest on midlife crisis…check it out, you might win a kick-ass mug and a postcard from Minneapolis.

Categories: death

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10 replies

  1. It was Bjork’s birthday yesterday, November 21.


  2. Friday night, I was flipping through channels, and came across one of the later, mid-eighties Friday the 13ths. I watched for a minute or two, but when Jason pulled the knife out, just when it cuts quickly to the teenager’s throat, I squeezed my eyes shut right at the money shot. I couldn’t do it. That’s never happened before. What the hell…? Guess I looked down.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t have the stomach for it either. That started a while ago, for me. I’m glad it did, in fact. It happened with the film Copy Cat, and a scene that violated my trust. You can’t trust these people who make films like that. No imagination. Thank you for mentioning me in Twitter. I haven’t taken the time yet to really understand what that means, but I take it as a nice gesture, so thank you. And what have you got planned for your birthday tonight, tomorrow? More killing with those sinister sunglasses and that switchblade?


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