Code: Yellow Butterfly – Part 2 of 2

Yellow-Butterfly-Macro - West Virginia - ForestWanderMusic reaches out from the little car’s speakers and wrestles with her mood.  Now drums – pumping her blood and thumping her foot.  Now strings – loosing her shoulders and strumming her heart.  She takes a deep breath and slows the car to the posted speed limit; she lets the sunshine fabric of the world outside saturate her soul.  “This is working,” she thinks.

Winding around the river twists of the road, she hums the change of tune – even smiles, just a little.  “This is working.”  Ahead, a fairy-like minstrel of peace is singing the sunlight through its tiny, yellow wings.  The butterfly – an electric symbol of her new attitude – darts, dances, bobs and bounces.  It tickles the scene like a paintbrush of cheer as she rounds the corner going 40 miles per hour.  Then someone pulls the plug.

The tiny harbinger dives suddenly – disappears in front of the car’s hood.  She doesn’t react.  Rabbits, foxes, deer, elk – these and more have trained her eye and steering against reacting in haste and dying on these Idaho roads.  The rear-view mirror plays the visual requiem as she watches.  The stringed instruments of her hope pluck the “money note” as the yellow dancer rises, high in the air.  Half a second after, the contralto that lives inside her mind wails the Verismo, that tragic truth she knew, deep down, was coming.  The butterfly falls, in a straight yellow line, to the road behind her. “You can’t change your mood today,” she tells the road ahead.  One last glance, to be sure, and the Aria of her intellect begins.  “You can only change your outside.”

Relaxing into her pissed off, grime of depression – she resolves to leave her anger in check with a simple strategy.  She imagines scenarios at work:  happy people, needy people, hurried and stressed people, all of them wanting more than a nod or smile as they approach.  “Yellow Butterfly!” she imagines her self talk as she encodes this lesson into her brain.  “Don’t kill it; don’t admire it; don’t think you can feed from its trough of positive energy.”  She pulls into the parking lot, turning everything motor or electronic off except her intentions.  She practices once more before walking inside.

“Yellow Butterfly – walk away!”


Code: Yellow Butterfly – Part 1 of 2

Yellow-Butterfly-Macro - West Virginia - ForestWander
There is light coming through the bedroom windows.  Not just any light – a certain type.  A level of shine, a tone in the sunlight filtering through the blinds and it points out this section of the wall but not that, a section of the chair but not the floor.  The light falls through in specific amounts and with a certain quality that cues her internal alarm.  She breaks the surface and frantically sucks in air as the shards of sleep cascade from her head and shoulders, her arms reaching for the cell phone, her eyelids frozen between closed and open.  Gasping as she props herself above the cozy pillow of that brief but comforting death, she hits the round indentation in her phone and reads, “0706.”

“Dammit!”  She had set her alarm for six – one hour before the scheduled power outage – in order to ensure hot coffee and style-dried hair.  Sliding the screen up, she taps the clock icon and squints.  Slamming the phone down and pulling herself to a complete, upright position, she unfolds the glasses from the headboard shelf and hooks them over her ears.  She picks the phone back up, looks, and rips the charger line from it’s socket, simultaneously dropping the phone onto the bed and standing up.  “Weekend alarm, my ass.  Wear your damn glasses when you set that thing, Idiot.”

Glancing at the open bathroom door, she scratches and tries to make more complete sentences in her head about … a list, what to do next, how to mix cold creamer with lukewarm coffee and it’s likelihood of working … what kind of modified breakfast she can grab that won’t piss her off.  “Get it over with,” she mumbles and heads toward the shower, “Need time to air dry my hair anyway.”

Pain slices her shoulder and neck and she freezes, hoping the invisible swordsman will leave her for dead.  She massages the muscle over her shoulder blade, half hugging, half choke-holding herself in the mirror.  She lets out air and rips her glasses from her head, placing them on the counter in a fluid motion.  She pauses only once more before flipping the water lever to warm, “Only one tank of the stuff; only time enough for half at this point.”  Stripping, she showers quickly, drying off in front of a clear mirror – the steam had no time to do a proper job on it this morning.  She weaves an extra amount of mousse into her wet hair and shapes it best she can.  Makeup on, teeth brushed, she has selected an outfit from her closet in her mind.

Dressed and ready, she swirls what coffee was left in the pot from yesterday in a huge mug while drizzling creamer into the mix.  She reminisces about chocolate milk, days when her after school snack in a house alone was a cup of yogurt and chocolate milk.  She grabs a yogurt from the dead fridge – no more than a over-sized cooler at this point – and slips the creamer bottle back into the door.  Careful to close the fridge as she leaves the kitchen, she balances the yogurt, spoon, and coffee in your hands and walks the balancing act to the table to park it.

She feels the ends of her hair.  Still damp.  Popping the laptop open, she waits for the log-on screen to become active while she eats her quick breakfast.  She had charged the mac fully last night and then unplugged it for this reason.  Once logged on, she opens her word processor and curses loudly again when she remembers – with the internet down, she won’t be able to open that piece she’s been working from the cloud.

Closing her eyes, she breaths in and out slowly.  Her little prayer for patience and a pleasant attitude is answered by the aroma of her coffee tickling her nose.  “Ah, yes.  Come to me, my liquid trophy wife.  You vixen of pulse rate, you.”  She expects the usual ceramic warmth against her lips, but is met instead by the cold, hard reminder of a makeshift cup full of day old bitterness.  Gulping it down in four swallows, she closes her mac and clears the table.  “Not gonna’ be a good day,” she grumbles, and picks up her bag and keys.

She has a twenty minute drive to work, just enough time to attempt a major operation on her attitude she decides, “It’s the responsible thing to do so you don’t rip anyone’s head off today.”  She flips her iPod to the “mellowness” playlist and cranks the volume as she pulls out and crawls to the stop sign.  “Dammit!” she yells, as a semi-truck passes before she can turn onto the highway.  “Fine!  A thirty minute drive to fix this mess in my head!  Whatever!”

To her delighted surprise, the truck pulls off at the mill and she has the road to herself.


Morning Mind Squatter

1949-scattered-papersIn the early morning, as I rise from the depths of that all-encompassing death of sleep, I sometimes stumble into conversations and ramblings that aren’t my own.   In those moments right before I open my eyes, I feel my thoughts stroke surfaces of things I don’t even care about.  This morning it was something about a lecture on topography and a way to talk to those folks that prefer to dine earlier in the day.

It’s as if I woke into a wrong room, and body … inhabited by a completely different person who was not expecting my arrival at that hour, if at all.  Irritated that I was taking my synapses back, the phantom intellect and perpetuator of useless topics stood up in a huff and shuffled her papers in irritation, then stormed toward the middle or back of my brain to see about finding a more private room, or to schedule the current one for another time when I would be less likely to interrupt.

To my knowledge, I’ve never once been pleasantly surprised by this imbecile.  Her random topics aren’t entertaining in any way, and although boring, they are too awkward or alarming to effectively put me back to sleep. I think I understand where the stories about tiny shoe cobblers might have originated if this is the state of our condition in middle-age.  I’m not a big shoe collector, but I’d take quiet little cobbler elves over this ignoramus any day.  I fear she will chase away my muse inspired wakings – those mornings where I rise with good ideas and rush to my keyboard before coffee to get them written.

I’m not trying to be selfish here.  If she would simply pick any number of the millions of things that even remotely interest me to poke around in, I’d let her stay longer.  What’s wrong with a little history of Ireland, book reviews, Mars and physics or astronomy . . . even gluten-free or lactose intolerant solutions.  Okay, those last ones are snore-inducers, but there’s things in there like: Nero and pyromania, “the threat of pink,” oh – and don’t miss “code yellow butterfly.”  She has her pick of specifics or abstract to run with – all of them fascinating and/or useful.  But instead, I have to walk in on the sordid pictures of her dissecting the types of arch support, or why the letter “J” curves left instead of right.

I worry.  What if this is a takeover starting?  I’ve always feared that day, when I start to forget little and big things, and head down Alzheimer’s road.  What if this boring and presumptuous phantom is biding her time for that, so she can take over my person?  A body snatcher in the makings?  Perhaps more sleep and exercise is the answer!  Well, more sleep at least.

Don’t mistake my anxiety.  I know this mind squatter pulls these topics from somewhere in my head.  I’m not insinuating a lobotomy of all that is bland.  It’s just . . . well, you know the score.  Take a difficult math concept and “Teacher A,” who explains patiently, shows you pages in your book, and even scribbles some things on the board.  You just don’t get it.  Enter “Teacher B,” who says little and writes from simple to extreme across the board, then turns and, you feel enlightened and now completely understand the concept.

This morning intruder is starting to make me wonder if I might like to explore (more fully) the techniques of sinus cleansing.  If she ends up being “Teacher B,” I’m doomed.

Back Tuit

Handlebar-moustacheSunlight pummeled the windows, their square-frame lenses outlined through the white cotton curtains.  It was like those false windows on cruise ships that trick the passengers into feeling less claustrophobic, but with the intensity turned up exponentially.  It was as if she were a prisoner, and the Gestapo had just shined the tower spotlight directly into her room.  No.  It was as if Dr. Horrible had shined a gamma-ray freeze beam thingy at her, and the platinum-fiber portal shields, hanging from their rods, had protected her.

It was morning. And although her circadian rhythm had been apt to let her sleep until 0800 nearly every morning this past week of vacation, her eyes snapped open at precisely 0515 this morning.  Fifteen minutes before her alarm went off, her body’s parts all told her, “We know the score.  We get to be useful again this week.  Not like last week where you only used your imagination and went with the flow.  No, it’s time to go back to work and we get to carry our brain around for everyone and everything that needs it.  Don’t bother with the ‘Star Trek bridge door whistle alarm do-hickey,’  we already know.  Just sayin’.”

She had a sudden urge to chew her fingernails.  She thought of all the emails she’d ignored last week and wondered if she’d have time over coffee to get to them.  She envisioned a huge billboard with flashy lights around the edge, and in big letters – her “to do” list, neatly prioritized and made known to her.  Wishful thinking.  Ouch!  She plucked the amputated index finger nail tip from her front teeth and sat up.

Who was the asshole who decided at some point that 40 hours was an appropriate work week?  What huge conglomerate of waxed-handlebar mustached men and thin faced, hair-gel plastered women were “evil laughing” at this very minute at the massive amount of pain and anguish they were imposing on the working masses?  And what kind of “fucked-up in the head” did those damn internet bitches and bastards think she was – those idiots that sent messages about their pyramid schemed “get paid to sit on the beach” web conferences and “get rich without trying.”  She’d memorized some of their faces in the hopes she might run into one of them out-of-the-blue and give them a piece of her mind (not to mention specific fingers of both of her hands).

It was morning, on the day she had to return to the J-O-B.  “Lighten up,” she scolded, “at least you work with happy people …”

“They sure as hell better be,” she thought, as she self-talked her way into the car and turned the key, “or else there better be chocolate.”

Time Travel on a Day with Deadlines

“Time travel on a day with deadlines,”
That’s what I think over coffee, under fog
of sleep crusted eyes and rickety bones.

It’s only six, but I’m at my eight,
then my eleven.  I wonder.
“Does the car need to sweat off some frost?”

one writer morning

the wideness of my headspace
yawns the hunger open
the coffee slides
fatigue presides

sly glances of bright outside
push into my groggy
cold whispers my skin
where to begin

a magic show swallowed my genius
disappeared my idea bodies
scratching inward i dig for the prisoners
dreaded yearnings seek
for letters ... words ... 
a string of story
to explain my empty.

Stay With Me

It lulls me and coos.  It strokes my heartbeat and calms my go.  It turns off messy noise and folds in the sound of the air vent and the distant airplane to whip up a symphonic lullaby.  This is the lingering sleepiness after I wake up that tries to suck me back in and miss the day, or at least the morning.

Like a forgotten lover, my shrugged off sleep whispers me longingly to touch it again.  “Don’t leave me,” it says as I try to move on.  “Come back to me,” desperately singing it’s song.  And after I stand and reach for my next, it bitters up and acts spurned.  That’s when it sends in its cousin to protect its honor; so fatigue wracks my shoulders.  My back needs a stretch and my joints feel so old.

Coffee.  You new and wonderful fling.  I want you to be my trophy-wife now.

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto: Taso de kafo. Français : Photo d’une tasse de caffé Español: Taza de café (Photo credit: Wikipedia)