‘Theft by finding’

Sure, I was still the same but my face was starting to look smudged in those new photos where I looked older. The forehead exposed, the jaw gone slack, the eyes hollowed out and the skin, less color to it. I didn’t have that “glow.” Maybe a wood floor that needs refinished from the scratches and scuffs, has gone dull and charmless from all the wear and neglect.

Sometimes when the waste collection comes in the morning I think they should take me too, with that alarm going off on the back of the truck like some music that will drive you mad, that never leads anywhere, with no button to shut it off. Black Friday and we still don’t have a TV, and never have, and debate buying one (they’re so cheap!) but realize we already have about a dozen TVs as a family, one for every pocket or lap…chargers in every room, so many chargers we buy them in packages of three now, direct from Amazon…

So dark in the afternoon the bistro lights came on today at 3, and I cooked a new chicken recipe with wings and bacon to give the broth more depth, anchovy paste in the fond. A terrible urge to drink, the weather like this.

Hanging the Christmas lights, I unwound five sets and tested each one to ensure they still worked before hanging them on the largest tree, out front. Had to get the ladder out and extend it all the way, up to the roof line, leaning with a tree pruning device to balance the lights on the highest limb. When I was all done and plugged in the last set, they all went out. I checked the breaker, ran a number of diagnostics, replaced the bad set, then they all went out again. And I felt so angry and sorry for myself and bitter with the world I just yanked the lot of them out, so hard I shore the wire down and balled them up for the trash.

I woke at five minutes to midnight to the sound of Lily laughing, talking to someone. Either her sister or someone on the phone (midnight, on a school night!), barked at them Go to sleep, then realized as soon as I laid back down I’d have insomnia.

And what pride I had in getting that antique grandfather clock to run for the first time turned against me, as the clanking of the chime rang so shrill—so badly off, the sound makes the dog and cat wince…the cat, flattening her ears…and by 4 I was just hoping I could get at least an hour of rest before getting up at 5…but at 4, Dawn’s cell phone went off and she got out of bed, and I heard her in the kitchen getting the coffee going and then I smelled it, and rose at 4:25 for a cold shower.

Gritting my teeth as I re-entered the house after the lights episode, then snapping at Charlotte and having to apologize to her later. Ugly reflections in the mirror. Noting the time, calculating my first beer.

With the heels of my hands I rocked my eyes in and out of their sockets to sooth the burning. I texted Dawn when I got home, announcing I’m back, about to order pizza. She asked if I could take Lily to a 4:40 ortho appointment, so I did.

Mike dreamt about his mom again, thinks she’s passing into the astral plane and saying her final goodbye.

We broke the roof off the gingerbread house and ate it on our laps in the den.

I got the David Sedaris book out again, his 25-year compilation of journal entries, Theft by Finding. The title is my favorite part, the idea it’s a form of theft to use these found objects, to make them our own. Dawn got it for me on my last birthday and I still have a couple hundred pages to go…and only a few days left until it’s been a full year.

Categories: humor, Memoir, parenting, writing

Tags: , , , , , , ,

17 replies

  1. Ah, the joy of Christmas lights! Quite right to start from scratch – long gone are the days when a set would last you for decades, they’re almost disposable like everything else. Not a good thing, just the way of the world.
    I get you not having a TV, but I do like sitting as a family to watch things – Dr Who is a bonding experience for us as a family. And comedy too – American sitcoms and old Brit ones we still have on DVD and have weaned my son on. When we’re all apart so long in the day, it’s nice to come together and we often still get a hug from the teen as a consequence!
    Cosy scene you’ve shared there – you, your laptop and the cat. The perfect way to write


    • I hold on to our old sets of Christmas lights because it’s hard to find the ones with the nice, warm light since they’ve been replaced with the cold-looking energy efficient ones. But each year, I know it’s a gamble, if they’ll still work. I think the thing that got me so frustrated this year was feeling like I’d wasted all that time (about an hour) and then realizing, how sad is it I don’t have that much time to waste? Ah, well. Who cares, right?! Ha! Back to my coffee and tick tock of the antique clock.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Especially frustrating being diligent in checking them out, only to find they refuse to work once in place! And I know what you mean about the warm light – I’m always careful to pick out a warmer light when buying new ones, or the chill sets in. I remember my Nan’s old clock used to chime the quarter hours as well as bonging for the hour. She lived with it for years – maybe you’ll get used to it?

        Liked by 1 person

      • The clock. I think on some level I fantasize about living in a small town in Europe still, and hearing the church bells on the quarter hour. It’s just not the same. How could it be?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not a church goer but I must admit I love hearing the local church bells peal on a Sunday morning. It’s a large parish church – people often mistake it for Bristol Cathedral – and it was visited and admired by Queen Elizabeth I, and hearing those bells ring the changes just sounds like the most amazing thing, a link to a time long past.


      • We still find spare lights of this kind at the dollar store. But their days are numbered. (As are ours, momento mori.)

        Liked by 2 people

      • Right, gone is the analogue. Or going. But wait! Then it comes back…!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Lying awake trying to will away the notice of every sound, snore, sigh, it can’t be done. And don’t worry, your reactions are most people’s reactions.
    Reading the Sedaris diaries right now, great convalescing material: no concentration required.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reading this I felt like there was a singularity up (and over) there in the PacNW, sucking us all that way, towards the event horizon swirling around your house, where life is happening. Good stuff, thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I do so enjoy how you string together little globes of a theme, not obviously, but thoughtfully, often slyly scooting round the corner to give a quite different perspective, but when you’re done and flick the switch, it all lights up.

    Time. Holy ticking Jeebus, that’s a theme.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s a great shot. You look comfortable in your own skin. Sedaris is going to release another book of diary entries. Better get cracking.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: