Friday, August 30, 2013

I Read a Book Today

I read a book today.  The book was Faulkner’s As I lay Dying.  I was depressed the whole time I was reading it, or at least I was depressed until I got close to the very end.  I do get depressed.  I get depressed when something is happening that I have no control over.
I was depressed about the book until Darl set the barn on fire.  As crazy as that was, it was less crazy than what Anse was doing to Darl and his other children.  Once one of them took control, my depression lifted and I was sad.   

Sad is better.  It is better than depression.  Sad is like a coat that’s on me that I can remove myself when I am ready, but depression is like a coat that has been put upon me while I am sleeping and I cannot remove it.  I cannot control it.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

     Two weeks ago, I stood in the driveway of my home waving the rest of the family off to the shore.  As soon as they left, I went back into the house and sat at the computer typing furiously for the next five hours until I decided I needed a break.  Off I went to one of my two favorite restaurants where the 6-oz steak specials look bigger every week.

      While I waited for my dinner, I sat reading a book, Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, in which a woman tries to save a baby lamb who is not that much into being saved.  Against all odds, she gets the lamb to breathe, all the while knowing it will eventually end up on somebody’s table.  As I continued reading, turning the pages of my Kindle furiously, I realized I was crying.  How long has it been since the last time I cried? I wondered, So long ago, I couldn’t remember.

     Going home, I drove a little too quickly, anxious to get back to the story I‘d been writing when an unwelcome thought popped into my head:  I think I locked myself out of the house. It’s not so hard now to remember the last time I cried.

     I had lost my house key earlier in the week.  Now I searched my memory trying to remember if I had locked the door when I left.  I was sure I had.  Good Lord, I thought. Am I really going to be locked out for an entire week?
       After pulling into the driveway, I noticed the first floor bathroom window was open. The problem with that open window was there was a slanting roof beside it that would make getting through it precarious.  Too bad, I thought, determined to get into the house at any cost.  Luckily, I had worn my sneakers (instead of those ten-dollar flip-flops).  I grabbed a chair and walked up the roof sideways.

     The screen in the window lifted easily.  I grabbed hold of the windowsill and lifted the window as high as it would go.  It was a narrow opening, but I was sure I could get through it.  However, because one foot was higher than the other was, I decided I had to go through the window headfirst.   

     My head and shoulders were already inside when I noticed the toilet was a lot further away than I’d thought it would be.  I eased myself in anyway and within seconds was in up to my waist, moving too fast.  I slammed the seat down.  Too late, I noticed the distance between the sill and the seat was more than twenty-four inches.  Feeling like a plane taking a nosedive, I decided to keep going even though the toilet looked as though it were shrinking or moving further and further away from me. 

     I positioned my right elbow and forearm to use as landing gear while my left hand flapped up and down for balance.  At the last minute however, my elbow slipped off the seat and my right shoulder hit the floor followed by the rest of my body with the exception of my left leg, which was tangled around the commode. After the first startling moment, I remembered my age (Have I mentioned I’m seventy one?) and checked for broken bones.  There were none, but the bruises that appeared on my left leg the next day were large and ugly.

     Now for the good part!
 
     After all that brutality, I agreed readily when my daughter invited me to a massage party she was attending.  It was my first massage and the first time (despite having lived through the Sixties) I ever attended a party naked. Of the seven women attending, I was the first to volunteer for the table.

     The party was held in a friend’s back yard beside her swimming pool on one of those absolutely perfect summer days with plenty of sunshine and no humidity.  I listened intently to the soothing sounds of the Enya music playing in the background and, as the massage therapist moved her hands between my lower and upper back, I felt my body begin to relax. Then she hit the spot where my shoulder hit the ground two weeks earlier.  Every time she hit it, I felt vibrations, tiny ripples that moved from my shoulders down through my arms and out through my fingertips.

     Oh my God, I thought, am I supposed to be feeling this?  Who cares, I thought next as I continued to enjoy the sensations of having my body pushed and pulled in every direction and, as another guest said later, it hurt so good!  Certainly better, I thought, than  flying through windows headfirst.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A View From the Bus



I was approaching the high school.  I was in my bus, on my way to the elementary school.  It is my job to drive a school bus filled with autistic children and children with special needs.   It is my job to take them safely to school each day. 
Suddenly the two-way radio sprang to life and I listened as another driver told a third that a police car was coming up behind him.  Then a fourth driver, a friend of mine named Mike, reported seeing three emergency vehicles from another district rushing toward the high school. 
That particular morning was Monday, December 20, 2012 and during the previous weekend, I had spent too much time watching news reports about a twenty-year old who had invaded an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, shooting and killing twenty students and six adults before turning his weapon on himself.    
Clearly, something was happening now.
I was just passing the high school on my left, when I noticed two police cars parked in front of the school. Just then, a third car came screeching around a corner, stopping behind the others.  A policeman sprang from it and ran toward the main entrance then crouched just short of the front door.   Was that a weapon in his hand?   Oh my god, I thought, my granddaughter Tori is inside that school.
I heard sirens screaming from every direction   Two more police cars came up behind me, slammed on their brakes and parked to the right of my bus.  I passed the school but had to halt at the stop sign on the corner.  What do I do?  I wondered feeling paralyzed with fear. To reach the elementary school I had to turn right.  Out of habit, I had pulled into the right hand lane.  But I wanted to turn left. Away from the school. 
 Where do I take these children? I wondered in panic.  Where can I take them to keep them safe?  Is there some place where it will not take armed guards to protect them?  What do I do?  Where do I go?  I thought of the police station located on the other side of the school.  I had already passed it, I realized as a car horn sounded behind me, urging me to move on.  I glanced into the rearview mirror and saw a line of cars behind me.  I had to turn right.   
I was terrified for myself and for my tender charges, all of whom suspected nothing.  As I drove down the street toward the elementary school, tears rolled down my face.  I pulled in front of the school where the special education aides were waiting.  “It’s only a drill,” one of them informed me as I sat there wondering why policemen from every part of the county would respond to a drill. 
Then, as I watched the aides take the children into the school the way they did every morning, I sat there and cried.
 Later, at the bus garage, our secretary Mary, who had a daughter inside the high school, tried to calm me.  “It’s okay,” she said.  “It was just an incident caused by a student with an umbrella that looked like a rifle to an overzealous guard who sounded the alarm. 
But what if it happens again? And what if the next time it’s real and it’s happening while a driver is unloading students returning from a field trip?  If  something like this happens, will I still be wondering where to take my students or will someone set up a plan that I and other drivers can follow?