Dec 26, 2003

Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground

When I was driving north past the car dealerships in Kearny Mesa in the wee hours of tonight, I noticed suddenly that they all have these giant American flags flying. Maybe it's because it was so all-over windy. They were all stretched out taut like sails. One or two of them had split between stripes. The beginnings of tatter. And they were all the exact same size. And -- as is the nature with things in the wind -- they were all blowing in the same direction and with the same ferocity. There was something majestic about it. Something sort of military but grand in the way that military things are grand. I don't know why it struck me at all, but it did. I told myself to remember and write it down later, and I'm pleased that I've managed not to fail. I wish I'd stopped to take a picture, but I can't imagine I would have been able to capture what I was actually seeing. The disheartening truth is that the camera lens does not see as big or as meaning-filled a world as I do.

What a lovely, long Christmas. Heaps of gifts to exchange and the perfect prime rib dinner. I was sorry that so many members of my family were ill and under the weather. I was also a little dismayed with the stormy outside that kept us in. Windy, misty, fiercely sprinklingness and trees flailing around like those creepy air-filled stalk men that flap at you when you pass car dealerships and upholstery showrooms. It's nice to sit in front of a fire when the wind wants to knock you over and the mist wants to mat you down. But after a time, it feels like a curse and a prison. It feels like staying in because there's no outside to go to. I never had snow days in school, but perhaps they were like this.

I was looking for something, and I happened upon a few posts from January of this year that I liked reading. They were far enough away as to be slightly unfamiliar. It felt like reading someone else. And as I sometimes tire of the sound of my own voice, this is a pleasant surprise. I feel the year pinching itself off at the end like a sausage. Finding things to remember in January makes some sense at a time like this.

There is a little tickle in my throat that may be the bequest of someone in my family. Many of my friends are also sick. I boasted today that I hoped to be the one person I know to not have taken ill in this rather hype-filled flu season. And then I washed some echinacea and golden seal down with the last of the merlot and crossed my fingers. I haven't been sick since January. It lasted into February. It began with a cough and a day of running that nearly collapsed my lungs and the fear that I had given myself asthma just from running on Olympic Boulevard at rush hour. And I remember noticing that a certain huskiness appeared in my laughter and never went away, even long after the coughing had subsided. I also once bought Beulah a t-shirt that says "Asthma is sexy," and I wonder if that isn't remarkably true. Of course, I don't actually have asthma, so if that were the rosetta stone of sex appeal, I suppose that would make a great deal of sense in my world of why not me.

On these lengthy pages, I've already once quoted my favorite line from the White Stripes song which is this entry's namesake, but I wonder if that matters. If every breath that is in your lungs is a tiny little gift to me, then I suppose it bears repeating.

I do that a great deal. Write down a snatch of a song lyric without offering any contextual ornamentation. Sometimes words stick in my head or pop out at me and I want to save them or share them or wield them. They don't even have to mean anything. It may be a reminder of the value of a song. It might be a token of a moment that deserved a soundtrack. I just pluck them from the air and plant them here and watch to see if anything germinates.

Blue eyes, blue eyes, how can you tell so many lies?

posted by Mary Forrest at 3:03 AM | Back to Monoblog


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