Stage Four

March 24, 2016 § Leave a comment

Another hot flash. It’s almost 3:30 in the morning. My helper gave me a marijuana infused chocolate truffle. I don’t do pot much. She convinced me to try it, said it would help me with my body aches. I forgot the chocolate has enough caffeine in it to keep me awake. So, here I am, at 3:30 in the morning. Wide-awake, and reaching for the bottle of ibuprofen. My ex called me today. You know this kind of ex: The first one. The one you fell madly in love with. The one you thought you would spend the rest of your life with. The one where you still look down on your arm at the cigarette burn and think of her. The one where you wished the neighbors would call the cops. She remembered that I once remarked that I was afraid she would die, and nobody would call to tell me. They pulled a gallon out of her lungs yesterday, it’s stage four.

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My Dearest Sharon

March 24, 2016 § Leave a comment

Thanks for your reply to my last email.

I have to say, I was a little bit surprised to find that there wasn’t much change to my original notation.

Let me take a moment here to confess that, in truth, that note was written with a twist of irritation. You’re a smart woman, I’m quite certain you didn’t miss my low-lying passive aggressiveness.

Though it may seem a bit far fetched, I appreciate you Sharon. I know your world in a strangely intimate way. It’s an interesting curse, isn’t it, to be born with the constant impulsion to externally manifest your interior world? Added on top of that, I deeply appreciate the added stressors of being a woman of your generation and stature. I’m often of the mind that being born to wealth is a curse…

I once worked for a woman very much like you. Precious sensitive creature, she stood at 6 foot with beautiful fine blonde hair that cascaded just below her shoulders. A willowy thing with a temper like a whip. Her particular medium was wood. Very large scale wood. I was to go under her wing as her assistant for three years.

I tended to pneumatic tools, primed her air compressor, sharpened her chisels and her chainsaw. I navigated 8′ x 4′ x 3″ thick slabs of black California walnut in her little studio hidden away in an abandoned downtown storefront in Billings Montana. I purred against their surface with a palm sander in each hand, slowly graduating from 60 grit sandpaper to 400. I could have gone to 600, would she have let me. I talked her into a line of Watco Oil finishes to really take the whole affect home.

In all the years I spent refinishing antique furniture for my father, I had never seen such grain. I spent hours hoisting and flipping the slabs propped up on sawhorses out in the backyard alley. I dusted the gravel with fine red sawdust. I have many memories of long Montana summers, dust coated on my sweaty arms, clogging the view on my respirator.

Her grandfather had revolutionized mechanized farming. His legacy stretched from Billings to Hardin. Miles and miles of wheat fields…

In his time, he had developed the technology to convert retired tank haulers into farming implements.

Swords to plowshares.

Buried in the studio was a large wooden box. Dusty in the corner of her office, and buried under stacks of paper. The crate occupied a space roughly 4 ft. square. Inside was a large vase. A gift to her grandfather from Stalin to commemorate the country’s gratitude for his assistance in developing their fields.

His name was Kellogg.

She had married a lawyer, and bore two children. By the time the legacy had rolled down to her, the wheatfields had been parted and parceled amongst the many family members. And not without a bit of a fight. Corinne’s delicate nature caused her to withdraw, settling for a 80 acre ranch tucked against the Yellowtail dam that her grandmother had bought on a lark.

Her children were teenagers headed off to college when I started to work for her.

Her education was extensive. She had attended Rhode Island College, and had kept her figure on a diet of champagne and spinach.

The stress of surviving her family’s heritage had manifested in a rather unique fashion: Corinne was an incurable thumb sucker.

Even then, now in her early 50s, I would often watch her strain to keep her hands from her mouth in thought.

Her curse had been well-known during her college days. At night, she would wear a belt with 2 cuffs at the side to restrain herself. Her compulsion was so intense she had actually a deformed her upper palate. One of her fellow students, Dale Chihuly, blew her a series of glass pacifiers.

These were littered across a large table in the studio, along with numerous phallic shaped objects collected through the years. It occasionally fell on me to dust this table.

Sharon, I’ve often joked that there are three curses in this life. The first is to have born too beautiful. 

I once had a friend with exquisite chiseled features. As we both made our way through college together, it was amazing to me to watch my friend come face-to-face with her dyslexia. She graduated with honors, in spite of the fact that most of the faculty were quite taken with her appearance. As I watch this woman navigate the planet, I became so excruciatingly aware of what happens to someone who is valued more for their looks than who they really are.

The second curse is to have been born too smart. My friends would disagree when I joke that I am grateful to have escaped all three of the curses.

The third curse is to have been born into wealth and fame.

I’m an artist, too, Sharon. I believe I mentioned that when I first started working for you. Cleaning your studio gallery reminds me so much of the places I have been. It distinctly reminds me of my time at the art museum.

I believe I mentioned that, as well.

So, about that list. About your “budget”, that would like me to do a five hour job in three hours. How you would like me to prioritize my duties to make sure that your studio gallery is in the pristine manner of which you would like.

About how you would like me to help you maintain an environment that is in such a state of perfection to reflect your exquisite professionalism.

About how you would like me to scrub the toilet, mop the floors, chase every single dust mote from the corners.

Let me tell you something, Sharon, I have a waiting list a month long to get on my roster as a client. Let me tell you about the octogenarians from New York. Let me tell you about the mother of two teenagers, her husband buried deep in the tech business. Let me tell you about the little Catholic family in the Cohousing Community. Let me tell you about the lesbian couple that’s been together for 20 years, and have two adopted children together.

Did I mention I was an artist? Did I mention that somehow I grasped my canvas and turned it into a living thing? That my love for beauty and order has walked in to shine the kitchen, oil the chopping boards, straighten the kid’s shoes, and that every orchid in the house is blooming? 1998 Bachelor in Fine Arts, Double Emphasis in Painting & Cast Metals, MSU.

I will arrive this coming Friday at 10 AM sharp. I will have my helper with me, and we will be gone by 1130. I will do my best to get as much done on your list as I can best expect in your timeframe.

Dutifully Yours, 
-J.H.
 

To my lover, who has given his heart to another.

March 15, 2016 § Leave a comment

I miss you.

The days grow long between your last letter. Our beautiful correspondence is no longer, and I miss my muse.Yes, of course, we will always be friends. But as I embark on a new chapter, I miss your voice more than I miss your touch.

This new guy – he sure looks like a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to meeting him. But, he’s not you. No waxing poetic, no anxious waiting for the next sentence in the next response… No two dollar words that send me scrambling for the dictionary.

There will never be another one like you. And I will mourn your loss, and I will celebrate that I was ever graced with your company.

You changed my life. I will forever be grateful.

This new chapter has me scared -possibly so many changes in the near future… my body is doing things that has my doctor sending me off to specialists. You may be the last one that’s touched me with any sincerity.

The Englishman? He’s gone. “Too much frustration, and not enough pleasure”, I told him.

I don’t know if I will even get a chance with this new lover. I’m scared – scared of the lump in my nethers, scared of the changes in my pre-menopausal body. I’m scared of my own brain that is stressed and forgetful.

I keep going back to the way that you held me. I keep going back to the way that our bodies fit so perfectly together, and that I could breathe and fall into a sweet sleep with you. So easy, so simple, such pleasure.

Time changes, and expands. Busy schedules stretch out between kind words.

I miss you. And, I realize that I need to let you go a little bit more, again, and then again a little bit more.

I will always miss you. I will always wish you the best. I will always miss you…

Where Am I?

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