Disruptive Juxtaposition

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Brief hiatus explained

Just when you thought you could count on more regular and even daily DJ updates, off I go to Connecticut today to meet with de facto novel editor and crew-at-dawn enthusiast Jayne . It's been too long since my last road trip. I'll be back on Friday - cheers, excelsior, et cetera!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Flying Tide

I've been working on a draft of a long poem for most of the day. This feels like a good & proper use of time.


The poem (why not tell you) involves a series of (bear with me) paranormal events that've been happening in the house.


About two weeks ago my mother awoke at 3 A.M. to the sound of the dog barking. Dog owners will tell you that the barks of a dog have different tones and messages: there's a Hey-you're-home bark, there's a Give-me-that-back-it's-mine bark. This bark, however, was the relatively rare bark of alarm. Now, in fair disclosure, the sister had left the house at 1 A.M. to meet some friends. But she didn't return until 5 A.M., and we're dealing with 3 A.M. here.

Another fact: usually, the dad's the one who wakes at the slightest sound; it's the dad who heads off to investigate possible intruders or transgressors. This evening, however, neither he or myself heard anything.

Another fact: the family'd been in distress that night because we were concerned that we might not be able to take a spur-of-the-moment island trip in early August. This trip quickly became a central goal for us, not so much for the luxury of it but rather in the hopes that the (remaining members of the) family would be able to be together at a happy time and, perhaps, survey this island for potential final resting places for Jon's ashes. (Jon's ashes: what a strange phrase.) The idea's to find a secluded length of beach or rocky outcropping that Jon might've posed upon, and make that his home. Prices for this trip were pretty high, and on the night in question no one was sure that the trip would actually be possible. This was on our minds.

So the mother, and only the mother, gulps a few times and tries to quiet her heart in the dark, and decides to come downstairs to tend to the dog. Downstairs, she sees that the laundry room where the dog keeps house has been altered in one crucial way: a 20-lb container of Tide, normally stored on a shelf above the washing machine, has been taken down and placed neatly on the floor by the laundry room door.

Theories, with rebuttals in italics, follow:

Did someone place it there? No; why would anyone do that?

Well, what's so special about that part of the house? Good question. That's the part of the house where us family members come in and leave through. Plus it's the dog's "apartment", and given her boisterious welcome-homes, it can be difficult to arrive home unnoticed. Basically it's the main entrance and exit for us.

OK, about the Tide. Maybe someone was sleepwalking and placed it there. If any of us sleepwalked, we'd know it; our family members and significant others would be able to attest to the fact.

Perhaps someone placed it there as a doorstop and forgot about it. Perhaps. But there remains the issue of the dog's strange and alarming bark.

Maybe it was your sister coming home for a bit. That would explain the dog's barking... but a) it was a strange and frightened bark, and b) you still have to riddle me the relocation of the laundry detergent.

What does a relocated container of Tide have to do with anything, anyway? Well, since we'd gone to bed thinking of this island trip, one could draw a connection that Jon wanted to signal approved of the idea of making an island, a beach, and the "tide" his eventual home. Dude loved the ocean.

Isn't that placing a little too much emphasis on a coincidental product name? Doesn't that imply that none of this would've happened if there's been a container of Fab or All on the shelf? Sure. But these are the methods of finding - and yes, making - meaning. Under the circumstances, these are the modes of theorization and understanding to which we're necessarily reduced. For want of a better explanation and sounder connections, this one will have to do, won't it?

Got anything better than that? Kristin Kate does. Say we forget the island <----> Tide theory. (That's a two-way arrow, btw.) Maybe Jon just wanted to lift something noticeable and heavy. "You might be able to bench your body weight, W, but I can lift this big honking tub of Tide and I don't even have a body! Ha!"


And that's not all.

One recent dinner hour, a few days after the nighttime tale described above, I was outside grilling up some hot dogs. The dad had been outside working. The mother and sister were around the kitchen counter, chatting about that and this.
You need to know that I'd spent a pretty emotional afternoon going through Jon's effects in the basement: his boxes of utility knives, his toiletries. (What does one do with a dead brother's Right Guard? I can't say I want to use it, and can't throw it out. It seems as though one does nothing with it except occasionally take it out, think halfheartedly of doing something with it, and replacing it in its shoebox with the toothpaste and the Mach3 razor.) I had taken one of Jon's bracelets and put it on: two thin leather straps that strung together a series of small fingernail-sized metal squares. It has sort of a weathered but modern, ancient but of the future look to it: the sort of bracelet Mad Max might tug from the wrist of a vanquished desert pirate and try on for himself.

I'm outside tending the hot dogs. The dad's outside. Inside, the sister and mother hear four or five raps or knocks coming from the laundry room area. It sounded, according to them, as though either the dad or myself was pounding the flat of a hand against the siding, or nailing nails into the wall for some reason. Which we weren't. So this draws their attention to the laundry room.

The same huge 20-lb container of Tide flies from the shelf and hits the open door, and falls to the ground.

Both the mother and sister saw it.

The dad heard the knocking.

I didn't hear the knocking, but I can chalk that up to my being on the opposite side of the house.

Once again, let's hear from Scully in her boring doubting normal print and Mulder in his distinctive italics of belief.

Was the washing machine running this time? Yes it was, but the washing machine doesn't generate anywhere near enough shudder or vibration to knock down the Tide - which, again, is on a white wire shelf about two feet above the washing machine.

How can you say for sure? The inability of the running washing machine to knock down the Tide was proven with a series of direct and repeated blows to the white wire shelf, which jiggled a good deal with these administered blows, to be sure, but a) these blows were way more force than the vibration of the machine, and b) even if vibration did cause the Tide to shift forward (which, again, is clearly very unlikely), the Tide would have free-fallen onto the machine and tumbled onto the floor - in accordance with basic physics. It would not have flown with some force from its place of rest against the opposite wall.

But, Mulder, I don't know. Well hell, Dana, I don't know either, but the only explanation that makes any sort of sense is that something or -one outside the range of what we consider normal threw that bottle around. And I think you know who that someone is.

Do you think your going through his effects had an effect? As a matter of fact, I do. "He hated it when you went through his stuff [when he was alive]," opined my family.

Do you think he's angry for your wearing his bracelet? Maybe - but it's not like I'm wearing it without thinking of him. It's not as though it's plunder or booty, filched from the stores of the dead for some personal gain. You know Scully I think you must think less of me every day we work together.

Mulder you know I don't think that. Do I Scully? Do I?


And finally (getting to be a little much? Tell me about it), I've been startled awake twice in recent nights by the sound of my water glass striking or being struck by something. The first time it happened I chalked it up to the nightstand being a little bit rickety. But last night I made sure the glass touched nothing before I went to sleep - made sure, in fact, that the glass was separated from anything else by at least a few inches. When the clink woke me up - I'd been only about 30 or 40 percent asleep, I'd say - I nearly said his name. Next time I will.


So yeah - these are some of the things in the poem.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Cue up your Kool & the Gang,

because it's the last day at the bookshop for me. If you have three cheers to spare, let's have 'em in that there Comment Box.