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Repeat

He feels the carpet beneath his bare feet. He scrunches his toes. Up and down, up and down, feeling the short fibers. He moves his shoulders up and down, now, small motions but then increasing in height as the opening beats of the song rise in volume. He closes his eyes, feeling the motion of his shoulders and the muscles of his back tensing and releasing beneath the fabric of his loose, buttoned up shirt. Each rise of toe and shoulders is timed to the beat. Starting to feel it, but not wanting to think it. The lone, repeating beat is joined by strings and then horns. This song feels old and yet sounds new. He does not know how music is made. He has never touched an instrument. He cannot articulate how music makes him feel or why it makes him feel. Foot goes back, arms go up, the tempo increases and he can’t make his legs move in the way he sees it in his mind. He stops. He rolls his shoulders and does a bob of the head to get back into the tempo. He feels the moment is right and starts a fraction too late. He returns to his first position. He checks himself in the mirror. He grimaces at the lankiness of his limbs and the swirl of broom bristle hair that never behaves. He moves his legs in a slow approximation of what he wants to accomplish and likes the way the loose legs of his trousers flow. He nods to himself. He closes his eyes. He breathes. He feels the beats playing along the surface of his mind, the repeated thumps and perfectly timed swirls teasing his limbs. Move. Move. He feels the spot. He enters the music. He missteps. He resets. He nods. He enters. He feels it. He loses it. He shakes his head. He hits a string of moves that feels right and in feeling it he is too aware and loses the feeling. He wipes sweat from his brow. He tries again. He tries too hard. He berates himself. He tries less hard. It works. For a moment. He restarts the song in order to restart himself. He closes his eyes and sees her. Lights of many colours chase shadows across her features. She is among a crowd and yet she is one. Her motions are small, restrained, and yet confident. There is little repetition to way she reacts to the music. To him she appears unaware of everything around her. She is fully in the music. His toes scrunch. He shoulders rise and fall. Sweat rolls down his back. He picks a spot. He enters. He fails. He resets. He sees her. He feels the gym wall against his back. He watches. He resets. He enters. He fails. He resets. He enters. He fails. He resets. He enters. He fails.

[A warm-up is 15 minutes of writing. No self-editing is the goal. Just 15 minutes hammering on the keys. After 15 minutes, I am allowed to clean up spelling and grammar errors, but the rest must stay as is. Similar to my previous (abandoned) ritual called “20 Minutes.”]

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Slippers

My slippers look like garbage. If someone were to find these in their yard, in their garage, or in their home they would pick one up gingerly with two fingers. Their face would be scrunched up in disgust, eyes pinched and nose wrinkled. They would examine this slipper in the same manner in which they would inspect a dead bird discovered in the shallow grass of a suburban alley. There is equal parts revulsion and curiosity. In the end, revulsion wins the day and the bird is dropped back into the grass. Hands are wiped on pants. The walk continues.

These slippers look like garbage when lying empty on the floor. These knitted, craft fair specials were once rich with contrasting colors. Black yarn amid light tan with the occasional brown. In parts, there is pattern, but in other areas the pattern is forgotten or perhaps mishandled. The effect reinforces that these slippers were made by hand. But now more than two years later the tans are not so tan– certainly not so brightly, freshly tan. There is a look of dirtiness about these foot warmers. This is justified since these have never been in the wash. Too likely to fall part.

Skin touches the floor even when in these slippers. A big hole worn through the left; a slightly smaller one in the right. Horribly stretched, these slide on the feet, twisting at the ankle when walking. Thus when worn these have a sloppy, unsightly appearance.

But oh so comfy. So comforting when more than the feet need comfort.

So these slippers shall endure.

slippers

[My warm-up for the week is writing about things I can see from where I write. A warm-up is 15 minutes of writing. No self-editing is the goal. Just 15 minutes hammering on the keys. After 15 minutes, I am allowed to clean up spelling and grammar errors, but the rest must stay as is. Similar to my previous (abandoned) ritual called “20 Minutes.”]

Debris

Scattered across the carpet, a nonsense collection of small, block-bodied people, their accessories, and the building blocks of their civilization. A dozen projects half-started. Another dozen finished yet now partially dismantled, the choice bits mined for new projects. It’s easier to take what is on hand rather than sliding open the bins and fishing through the thousands of loose parts. Those bins– two bins, four-foot high with seven transparent drawers– stand beneath a lonely dartboard and its cork backdrop. Neither have felt the sting of a dart in eleven years. The same cannot be said for feet, which have often felt the darkness sting of hard, plastic blocks.

In the midst of the sea of plastic detritus there sits a pirate ship from another land of the licensed. It has one stiff sail, red with a yellow swoosh motif. A dragon’s head is its bowsprit. This toy trireme has six oars per side but these look more like fins. The body of the ship rests upon sizable squares of green, seemingly beached next to a squat home with an uneven red roof and the skeletal remains of a walking machine exiled from science fiction.  There is no sign of the carpet sailing vessel’s crew.

[My warm-up for the week is writing about things I can see from where I write. A warm-up is 15 minutes of writing. No self-editing is the goal. Just 15 minutes hammering on the keys. After 15 minutes, I am allowed to clean up spelling and grammar errors, but the rest must stay as is. Similar to my previous (abandoned) ritual called “20 Minutes.”]

Pens

Pens in a plastic box. Two hinges that have not sealed properly since the box first opened. The label removed but a residue remains on the lid, slightly obscuring the contents if one was looking down at the box from above. Inside, the stock sorely depleted. Pens taken out carried to other parts of the house to be used and stored elsewhere. Inside, the remaining original occupants have been joined with other styles of pen and yet all lay together in a sort of harmony. Red gel. Blue gel. Ballpoint in blue and black. Click pens. Purple pens that have never been used are at the bottom of the pile and at the outermost edge the fanciest of the bunch– sleek red chassis with raised foam finger grips near the polished silver tip. Each pen is a note waiting to happen, a list not yet made, a story not yet written. Each pen is potential. Each pen waits.

Nearby there stands a pen-holder, a ceramic cylinder crafted to look like a ring of books– small books of odd shape, possessing a design but no words on the spine. Standing at all angles, emerging from the pen-holder like spines on an angry porcupine’s back, are chewed pencils, two wide highlighters– one pink, one yellow– a thin, blue marker, and a lone bookmark. These items are not potential like the pens. These items are rarely touched. Not forgotten. Just not used. One pencil wears a squinty-eyed monkey head eraser. The monkey looks unimpressed, as if it does not like its place among these unused tools.

[My warm-up for the week is writing about things I can see from where I write. A warm-up is 15 minutes of writing. No self-editing is the goal. Just 15 minutes hammering on the keys. After 15 minutes, I am allowed to clean up spelling and grammar errors, but the rest must stay as is. Similar to my previous (abandoned) ritual called “20 Minutes.”]

20 Minutes 12

He could not sing but he did it anyway. In the solitude of his empty apartment. In his car on a road trip. On a road trip was best. Zipping down the highway, back straight, eyes forward, one hand tapping out the drums on the steering wheel, the other ready in case it should be needed. It was possible to turn the volume up loud enough so that the outside sounds  were drowned out and all that remained was the belt of the singers and his own voice. He was always a moment behind the lyrics, except during the chorus, and it did not matter if some of the words were butchered. He sang in a voice deeper than the one with which he spoke. All notes were sung in that tone. He had no range.

Open road. He in a pocket of sound. A microcosm. Isolated. Sheltered.

There. A lone wolf walks through a field. It sniffs the ground and pays no mind to the car as it passes. He, the driver, reacts to the sight of the wolf. An alertness returns. The wolf looks out-of-place. That is not a field in wilderness. That is cultivated land. That is people land. Not wolf land. His reaction to the wolf– this desire to take note of it; to remember it– is a sign of how isolated from nature he has become. He is fascinated by the squirrels in the backyard, at play, at the feeder, dashing along the fences as if those were highways built for their use.

He recognizes these squirrels even when they are squished on the road.

There is a beat to the music that fuels him. Foot on the pedal, he wishes for more turns in the road. Some movement other than forward to confirm that he is indeed going somewhere. Small town hugs the road. Gas station. Gas station. Restaurant. Convenience store. Ice cream stand. Locals gathered in the parking lot of crushed gravel. Girls in short shorts. Kids with mussed hair. Guys leaning against their trucks.

In the city there is an ice cream stand. The scene is similar but with more people, and a middle-aged woman no one notices. She has a shopping cart. It is loaded with garbage bags, green. She removes articles of clothing one at a time, tenderly, and drapes them over the metal railing separating the ice cream stand from the parking lot of the neighboring building. She surveys her work. She takes no notice of couples with ice cream, parents making memories with their children, and teens lost in themselves.

The road hums by.

His fingers touch his face, tracing the edges of the bones beneath the flesh. He maps his skull. He then seeks out his scars. Physical evidence of a life lived. He looks at himself in the mirror. There was a time when he could not see in the mirror, and he remembers fondly the time when he first saw the reflection of the strands of hair on the top of his head. No cares then. Just the desire to be taller so he could see in the mirror.

Racing through the grass, shirt unbuttoned, his friends following at his heels. All running. In their minds, he was the leader in this game. In his mind, he was the hero. He believed it.

What he believes now is this: If the music is loud enough, the road long enough, and his tone low enough, his singing ain’t half bad.

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[20 Minutes is a self-imposed ritual in which I write, uninterrupted, for 20 minutes a day. No self-editing is the goal. Just 20 minutes hammering on the keys. After the 20 minutes, I am allowed to clean up spelling and grammar errors, but the rest must stay as is. 20 minutes a day. Every day. Today is day 12.]