Friday, August 10, 2012

making noise

The middle of the night. It sounds like someone is rolling rocks across the wooden floor upstairs. Ed!
What? Go to sleep.
There’s some animal in this room!
Go to sleep.
Probably under the bed! I have never ever had the fear that there are monsters under my bed, but this time, I am convinced that we’re not alone up there: with us, there’s something with big claws. It’s not fast moving, but it is loud!
Please look under the bed!
No. Go to sleep. Probably Isis. Exploring.
No! Isis is right at this second standing in the doorway looking at us and wondering about the fuss.
Turn off the light.
My turn to say no. The “thing” hasn’t attacked Isis so I suppose I’m safe to look. I imagine gashes on my faces as the “thing” surely will lunge if I get too close. Ever so tentatively, keeping my hands off of the floor, I look down, below the bed.

Now will you please turn off the light?
I do, but the noise comes back. Okay, so it’s not under the bed. It’s in the wall, the attic, somewhere where there are boulders to roll around with claws.
How did it get in?
Through an opening. Ed can be very helpful, but not when you display anxiety about animals in the farmhouse in the middle of the night.

Eventually, the animal settles and we do too, but there are many hours in between and we spend them discussing houses, basements, attics – a whole “this old house” episode’s worth of talk, between 2 and 4 in the morning.

Friday. I wake to a reminder that the next season is fall. The day is crisp. Long pants weather. First time since we’ve returned from Europe. Do I like this return to cool? Do I? Well now, it’s not as if I get to decide.

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farmer Lee, picking sunflowers for the market tomorrow

I go to my office for Part I of the annual great cleaning project. Today I throw away as much as possible. Thousands of pages of exams, papers, lectures for the shredder. Anything with dust on it. Out it goes. I have a small office and this forces choices. As I wheel my old chair from one end of the little room to the next, I think – this is a hell of a dysfunctional chair. It has no support. It is wobbly. I bought it, used, before I was even employed at the Law School (so more than two dozen years ago) and I took it with me to my office in part because I didn’t know what else to do with it. And it has stayed.

I’d grown jealous at seeing the proliferation of chairs that are actually kind to your back, chairs that can be adjusted this way and that and suddenly I think – I’m getting old. The back is to be protected. And so I ask the powers that be:
May I please have an office chair?
Instantly: Yes, of course.
That simple! For twenty years it never struck me that I could just ask!

Suddenly I am excited about the space on the bookshelf for the new semester, about the prospect of a functioning chair, about the coming of fall. For a little while, I accept the sudden slap and shake, telling me that a 'summer off' is just that – a 'summer off.' One season out of four.

In the late afternoon we resume our (suddenly precious) summer routines. At Paul’s cafĂ©  I write and Ed naps.

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