Brief afternoon vignette

I didn’t sleep as well as I was counting on last night. Started with an interruption from Young A (coming in just to let me know he was planning to use the bathroom, then popping back in to say good night again – so very kind of him). I heard him yelling out in his sleep the night before, from something he could not remember the next day, so I guess I was on high alert last night.

I forced myself back asleep though. It is such a struggle. As soon as I am awake, the mind awakes. It cycles through and through things. Not what you’d think, either. Not the 4 a.m. questions, the existential ones. I wonder if I have heard back from emails I’ve sent, I think about things going on with other people, I think of jokes, recipes, trips.

It’s been unseasonably warm here. Because we may have entered the era of the unseason. I hope not. I can remember anomalously warm or cold days from when I was a kid, and recorded them in my diaries. (I’m a chronicler from wayyyyyy back.) So this morning, J took the boys out to play basketball. They were gone for a couple hours. I meant to join them, I really did, but I had lots of interruptions this week and was looking forward to making more of a dent in an Italian translation assignment I got two weeks ago and hadn’t really made much progress with. I finished a few more segments. I am transcribing video interviews, which means I need quiet and I can’t really do it when the boys are around.

I finally showered, and the boys trooped back in and we all went for pizza. Young J has become quite the gourmet, and now insists on a fresh mozzarella slice. Luckily, they still seem happy with one slice each, unlike at school, where they have each eaten two slices on pizza day for over a year now. The scalability of feeding these boys as they continue to grow – up and up and up – becomes a more and more real concern. They are not happy with cereal fillers, either. I’ve applied for a few jobs in the past couple of weeks. Hopefully something will come through. I need to work, we need the money, the boys need FOOD. So much food.

After pizza, J headed out on some unspecfied errands which I suspect have to do with my birthday tomorrow. I came home with the boys and asked if I could leave them here watching TV while I ran an errand. Actually, I asked whether they would burn the house down while I was gone. Young J answered, deadpan, “But we don’t even know HOW!” Good answer, kid. And in fact, they didn’t.

I walked just over a block away to a framing shop that seems to have been there since perhaps JFK’s days in office, if not FDR’s. They called this week to let me know my framing job was ready for pickup. I was picking up this:

The Other Side of the Great Wall of Fuck, by John Lurie

It’s our second print by John Lurie, about whom I’ve written here previously. I bought this one in July, while in the grips of some “scanxiety,” as cancer message board habitués like to call it. I sailed through those scans, of course. Then, in September and November, I had slightly more nebulous results. I’m still in the nebula, for now, until I get an additional shot of certainty (or doubt) on the 21st.

I had a short walk back from the shop, but they didn’t wrap the piece in much more than plastic. There was no handle on it. It was, to be honest, pretty unwieldy, and I was nervous, and I was carrying my latest handbag which doesn’t have a shoulder strap. But I have a long history of carrying awkwardly-shaped things long distances, and so I sauntered forth, awkwardly, avoiding even a hint of bicycles, not jaywalking, etc etc. Trying not to become a casualty along with my beautifully-framed art.

And maybe it was the Italian echoing in my ears from the work I did earlier, maybe it’s that I stand ready to recall distant past moments at a moment’s notice, but as I was preparing to cross Flatbush Avenue with my framed print, and saw a garbage truck splayed diagonally in the crosswalk in my path, I was transported to Florence, 1992:

I am walking home from a glass shop with my loathed (and a touch psychotic) apartment-mate, G (whom I was subletting from). She’d harangued me and my roommate H for weeks about how we needed to make sure we only ever had one window open at a time in the apartment, because a cross-breeze would make one of the glass doors or windows slam and shatter the glass. Who did this happen to, of course? G herself. The bathroom window – the one that looked out on the distant Duomo – crashed shut one day while she was alone in the house. It was awfully big of me to help her go to the glass shop, retrieve the pane, and WALK BACK HOME with it. There was not much padding, as I recall. It was pretty much just a pane of glass stretched between us, and the most efficient way to carry it turned out to be stretched across the street, as we walked IN THE STREET. Predictably, someone heading along on a Vespa almost rode through it. I do not know how we made it back with the glass intact, but we did.

So when people ask me how I put up with all I put up with, when it comes to this illness? I submit this sort of thing as evidence: I have been training for this my entire life. Faced with ridiculous situations, I find a way to emerge victorious. Or at least, to enjoy small triumphs. Like not having a Vespa crash through a new window, or not having a sanitation vehicle destroy my newly framed artwork. In other words, I make it to the other side of the great wall. But it is still The Great Wall of Fuck, and as such I would love to live to see the wall torn down completely.

2 thoughts on “Brief afternoon vignette

  1. Deb, thanks for today’s stream-of-consciousness edition, I enjoyed the quick visit to Firenze with its Vespas and buses with their Vietatto Salire exit doors. But I must confess that the last line left me baffled. I think it relates to the significance of the pictures’s title for you, which escapes me. Please clarify it for me the next time we talk? And A VERY, *VERY *HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!! ​Kisses, pa​ ​

    Liked by 1 person

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