Monongahela National Forest, 4/13/2019

I got lost looking for a new way off Spruce Mountain. I drove along Gandy Creek for awhile. I ignored the pain in my hips and back because I had just said I was better and I didn’t want to think about what that pain means for me. What does it mean for me? I have an appointment this afternoon to find out.

I will probably go hiking again this weekend anyway. It’s my birthday – I’ll be 32 – and the pain in my hips isn’t more important than that.

When I got home from the mountains, I rented The Predator, which is a terrible movie; a terrible movie in almost the same way that Deep Blue Sea and The Core are terrible movies, and those are certainly two of my favorite movies. They are awful, but I’m glad they were made.

It’s Monday again, isn’t it?

A small story about a small animal.

I was making macaroni and cheese in the middle of the night a week or so ago, because I couldn’t sleep and was at least a little hungry, when I caught my cat – the regular sized one – flattened to the floor, her eyes widened at something in the corner. I thought maybe she was perplexed by my backpack’s strap for some reason (she is a tiny ditz) so I bent to move it and a mouse leapt onto the counter and hid between a stack of cookbooks and the wall.

Oh.

I do not care about mice. I have a very vivid childhood memory of my father in the basement, trying to catch one he’d just hit with a shovel but not killed. In the apartment I lived in before I moved for grad school, I instinctively (why is this in an instinct I have?) reached out to pick one up because another of my cats was harassing it and carried it outside. In one of my last years in undergrad, a person I was dating called me minutes after I’d left their house to head home because there was a mouse caught in their DIY paper towel tube trap and they didn’t know what to do with it; I went back and moved it behind the bowling alley across the road.

I do, however, have a problem with watching animals kill each other, no matter the natural course of predator and prey relationships, and I did not want to have to gather pieces of a dismembered mouse from my kitchen floor when I had just come down for macaroni and cheese, so I carried my cat around in one arm while I cooked and let her go when I was upstairs and hoped for the best.

(She is an avid fetch-player; ‘the best,’ I thought, would be anything cleaner than waking up to her trying to get me to toss a dead rodent to her.)

A day or so later I got home from getting coffee to find the mouse (or a different mouse?) on the doormat among my shoes, tiny feline teeth pricks across its chest, and all three cats sitting calmly in the recliner. No blood, no paws or ears or tail strewn elsewhere in the hall.

Some books and two horse movies

I made a promise to myself last year that I would read more and watch more movies (instead of re-reading Jesus’ Son fifty times and watching 20th Century Women and Twister over and over and…)

Good news: I did it!

I read some books I hated (Full Spectrum Disorder by Stan Goff, Southernmost by Silas House, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara) and a couple I loved (The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen and Oreo by Fran Ross). I plan to read more this year – specifically more fiction. My reading list last year was mostly non-fiction, despite the fact that I am a person who has never read a lot of non-fiction, and while it was fine and good, I think my brain needs a break.

Toward the end of the year I saw two of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.

Lean on Pete

They were also certainly the most gorgeous.

The Rider

I swear I didn’t just sit down one day and decide to watch horse movies on purpose. It happened, though, and I am glad it did.

(images from tumblr users chromet and hirxeth)

Eureka.

We buried my grandfather’s ashes yesterday, two months exactly from the day he died, in the small cemetery up the street from the lot where my grandparents’ house used to stand and just down the railroad tracks from the house I grew up in, in a plot that was, years ago, part of their neighbors’ front yard. I used to play in that cemetery sometimes – the kids who lived near my grandparents and I ducking behind headstones, pretending we were Power Rangers (we always pretended we were Power Rangers), or sledding down the hill at the cemetery’s edge, toward the backwater swamp that separated my grandparents’ small neighborhood from my own, upriver.

The last time I was there, the old church was  being torn down. They’d sold the stained glass windows, and I climbed through the open frame left behind to find the church’s one room filled with toppled pews and waterlogged hymnals, and, inexplicably, a microwave and television.

I took a hymnal with me and when I got home I realized it was full of silverfish.

Papaw.



My grandpa died last week. He had been sick since February, and it was truly a case of everyone saying “at least he isn’t suffering now” and meaning it. (By “sick” I mean he had surgery and instead of the procedure doing what it was supposed to – keeping him alive – he came out of it with dementia.) I spent a few days trying to dredge up some memory of the kind of person he was that wasn’t tainted by my memories of my childhood with the rest of my family but came up close to empty and felt bad about it until the funeral, when I realized I was going to have to convince myself that it just didn’t matter because there was nothing I could do about it.

What I have is him catching me leading my younger cousins in throwing apples at cars on the highway (a brat!), the heavy sawdust smell of his workshop, his footsteps crossing the dining room floor after work while I played under the table, every time he offered to trade our good behavior for gas station candy because he wanted gas station candy.

It almost feels like enough.