Early autumn mixer

img_5432In the morning the moon was a hook and we sat under it going down. Lily and I went birthday shopping for Charlotte intent on a guitar and a bake set but came out with a $120 giraffe. No one knew how much the giraffe cost, it’d been there so long they had to look it up, and we shied away at first but came back and said alright we’ll take it, had to wrap it with our jackets to hide it from Charlotte it was so big — but needed to hurry back to pay the gardener and let the dog out — Lily said the giraffe had been there since she was a little girl, since she could remember, and when they tied a bow around its neck and lifted it over the counter I think they were sad to see it go.

Ginger and I went back to Cougar Mountain for a final summer hike, zig-zagging the hillsides until we got above the sound of the construction trucks and the morning commute, the first ones up the trail so we broke all the webs — and I blipped between the past and the present, the future, sometimes going so deep I removed myself entirely and all that was left was a shadow.

We cut back to the boardwalk planks over a shallow trench of mud and though it was morning, the forest was dark and still. The sound of the woodpecker’s wings was like a wiffle ball that slowed down as it passed so you could hear the air curl through the holes and the bird followed us up the valley like that watching, hiding between branches, flickering in and out.

The section of trail was called the C7 but there were many more colorful names (Shy Bear Pass, Far Country Falls, Clay Pit Road, the Fantastic Erratic) and it reminded me of a trail near my mom’s in Germany I used to walk named after a crocodile with a handmade sign saying Krokoweg and a hollowed out log on the ground with rainwater for horses and dogs to drink out of, they carved it to look like a crocodile smiling and over time it’d gotten so smooth and weathered it looked almost real.

There was the morning I came to the bottom of that trail to the mouth of a valley, late winter but with spring coming on — and though it was misty the ground was green and brown in patches, you could tell the farmers had been out doing something, they were always coming and going and startled when they saw me.

It was the morning I realized I’d had a strange dream about someone I worked with whose face changed to a robot from the cover of a Queen album, and I sat there on a bench trying to break it all down, to understand what happened and why: it was an album I’d found at my grandparent’s house in the late ’70s, must have belonged to my uncle: just a blank-faced robot holding its hand out with blood running down the wrist, the band members crushed in its palm — and this person from my dream, their face changed and eyes hissed like a TV station gone static at the end, that’s what I associated with it, the emptiness in its expression, how it scared the shit out of me as a kid, and why that fear got stored inside of me and paired with a memory from work I can’t say.

I met Dawn at the Microsoft campus to help her set up for a happy hour mixer and stood outside waiting to be let in, watching people come and go, imagining myself working there and how I’d fit in, some of them looking glazed and distracted with earbuds talking to themselves or someone else; I thought they could be life-sized avatars, their bodies just a shell with their real self off somewhere else, doing other things. Dawn laughed and said they’re engineers and developers who work at that building, they all look that way.

I swapped out inserts for plexi signs Dawn had to get reprinted, fixing some mix-up in the wording someone was sensitive about (one said “Group,” the other “Team”), and when I got done and went back to the parking lot I’d forgotten where I parked, there were cars in every direction but it made me happy for my old piece of shit Volvo, probably the only one like that in the lot.

They had that look of being there but not there, the people with their earbuds, I thought. I realized I was almost out of time on the trail and had to get back home so I started running, lumbering at first but improving once I saw my shadow which looked pretty good, my form, and after a while I went so fast I lost track of my legs, I’d forgotten how good it felt to run like that, every time I thought I was empty there was still something left, like a hook through my lip or a hold keeping me from slipping, it drew me on.

In the morning before the party Ginger smells the giraffe’s crotch when I bring it in and I go to the store for more frosting and powdered sugar, it’s so early in the parking lot it’s just me and the crows, they’ve bulk-stacked pumpkins outside and taken the flowers in — and back home I sweep the lawn for dog poop before the party and hang the bistro lights, find the fourth horseshoe hidden in the grass and sink it on the first try, points facing in.


Categories: parenting, technology, travel, writing

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

18 replies

  1. First.

    Queen’s “News of the World” was release when I was a young man. I hadn’t realized I was so much older than you but perhaps it’s time I face facts. That’s a fantastic pic up top.

    Unrelated: This morning I had a dream that my 10-year old daughter and I were having dinner with Hillary Clinton at a BBQ joint. Reading a newspaper before bedtime will do that you a fellow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I looked up the release and the cover before I published this and I was 7 when it came out, not a young man, but not far. When does one become a young man? Is that 15? Or less? I learned when we were in Germany that they recorded that song We Will Rock You in a church, that explains the great clap/foot slapping sound, the acoustics. You don’t have to face facts, stop that talk. We are kin, thick as thieves — glad you liked the picture, hope you caught the Barbie doll in its jaws. And for sharing your weird dream. Bill


  2. I remember going to a record store in the mall when I was a little and seeking out shocking or disturbing album covers, some still lingering. I guess our kids have the internet (yikes). The flow on this is especially nice, jogging around in time. The party and gift sound real nice. That’s a girl’s dream, an oversized stuffed animal.

    Liked by 2 people

    • There was a trashy record store like that at the Lehigh Valley Mall I used to go to, but my favorite memory wasn’t when I was young looking for disturbances on the covers, but right before the record store probably closed, roughly 1990, and they put Pearl Jam in with Guns n’ Roses because they didn’t know how else to classify it yet; it just had guitars and screaming so it got co-mingled with the Metallica and so forth. Glad you like the gift and thanks for reaffirming it, feels kind of gross but I think her exuberance made it worthwhile. I just have to keep asking her to not leave it right in the entryway to the house.


      • There’s a small zoo near my office where you can pay to stand on a podium with a piece of lettuce in your hand and a giraffe will grab it from you with its weird-long tongue. It’s pretty great. A prominent spot in the foyer may ease homesickness as it may feel like the (I’m assuming) toy store window.


      • They all have the same eye lashes and plush toy eyes, I love them. They come out fully formed too, which is weird. I had some of that in my post but struck it in the interest of word count and trying to avoid self-indulgence for once.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I do wonder if people were more “there” before technology took us inside ourselves. I have a feeling Plato might have been one of those dudes who was never really invested in a dinner party conversation…always looking off at the swan ice sculpture and thinking about whether there was a perfect copy that never melted in the world of Forms. (No, I haven’t been drinking this morning.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think you’ve uncovered the shocking truth: Microsoft employees are ROBOTS!


  5. “I blipped between the past and the present, the future, sometimes going so deep I removed myself entirely and all that was left was a shadow.” That’s a good one.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That glazed there but not there look has a feeling I remember well, when reality is in your face but your head is still buried deep in the innards of a problem elsewhere. Those with lighter cares merely daydream.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That sums it up Dave. So often I can tell when my wife is off somewhere else, and soon (as I start working again) we’ll both be dividing our mental and physical time blipping in and out, weird.


  7. i love the large giraffe and that fact that it had been there so long that they had no idea of the price, it had just become part of the landscape. like many things in our lives that we forget and overlook, taking them for granted and accept them as being there, just because they always have been –

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you liked that Beth, I did too, and where you took it further, that’s nice — good stuff. Have you started Ross’s book yet? Enjoying the hell out of it in my hammock now, chuckling over the sounds of nearby construction.

      Liked by 1 person

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