Life Among the Never-Winged

Once upon a time I was writing a book called, "Just Another Love Letter", about angels behaving badly. Now I just quietly ask myself each day, "What the hell am I doing?"

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Location: The Rocky Mountain Empire, United States

My friends always knew I was going to hell. My only hope is that God likes good jokes and bad redheads.

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  • Books Unlimited
  • Sunday, September 23, 2007

    And suddenly

    there were dry golden leaves everywhere – scattered under the tree, over the driveway, swirled by the wind into a pile in front of the garage door, a pile made for small hands to lift and toss, to scatter flecks into ash-blond curls, to kick up a smell of dust and faded flowers and cooler nights to come.

    Thursday, September 20, 2007

    Now I Can Talk

    I've been unmuzzled.

    Books Unlimited is starting its Going Out of Business Sale today.

    For any new readers, this is my husband O's used bookstore. The store was opened nearly twenty years ago by his father. O has worked in the store his entire adult life, taking charge a year and a half ago. The bookstore has served homeless folk and Pulitzer Prize winning authors alike, doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs. Literally. It has seen floods, blizzards, construction, and four moves. And it has seen a change in Denver and the book-buying population in general. The last is what has prompted the decision to close the chapter on a mortar and bricks location.

    Our last move was a good one – to a stretch of Broadway called Antiques Row, where you can find all manner of European furniture, stained glass windows, art, clothing, and of course books. The building is beautiful, the store archetypal with its shelves stretching to the ceiling, pressed tin ceilings, vintage Victorian furniture, even a secret room hidden away behind a bookcase. We're actually in a competition for favorite Denver bookstore, just behind Denver's famous independently-owned new bookstore.

    But it's not enough. Things change. The city of Denver is planning a construction project that will tear up Broadway along Antiques Row over the next eight months (read twelve, at least). And when the concrete has settled, there will be fewer parking spots in front of the bookstore. But the real killer – a median down Broadway will stretch for four blocks and prevent any left turns, even in the intersections.

    The shopping public has changed too. It's evolution, plain and simple. Browsing has gone from footwork to fingerwork as more and more shoppers trade pavement for keyboards. I do it too. It's so much easier to look online, and sites named after giant rivers make it easy to find any book you want, new or used.

    It's time to go.

    No, it's time to change. Evolve.

    O will continue Books Unlimited online after the storefront closes. He has a website, a domain name to kill for, and he happens to be one of the giant-river-named-site's used booksellers. Through diligence and planning (and luck, let's not deny it) we have a cushion. We'll land on our feet.

    Other bookstores, and small shops in general, are not so lucky. This Broadway 'renewal' will have a deep, and in my opinion, detrimental, effect on the small, independently-owned businesses along the construction site. But it spreads out further. Used bookstores all along the foothills are suffering. I think we may be driving the engine in a long train of closures. And that saddens me.

    If it saddens you too, and you wonder if there is anything you can do, I would urge you to visit the small shops in your area. These are your neighbors, this is your community. And don't ignore the aforementioned mega online booksite. But shop it wisely when buying used. There is a growing trend of large used sellers that are based more on the principle of selling 'units' rather than books, and are operated like any box store. Look for the little guys. You might find us.

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    Tuesday, September 18, 2007


    It was a beautiful weekend.

    Everything I feared turned to gold. A perfect run, a perfect race.

    The shower was so much fun. Seeing Judith and her lovely round belly, I had to hold back happy tears. She's struggled for this day, that's all I'll tell you.

    She laughed about how she now feels like a complete mammal (and I added that she hadn't seen anything yet – wait 'til she breastfeeds.)

    I stayed for an hour, then left shortly after someone else showed up, managing to keep my back to her, continue with a conversation, take a tour of a newly-renovated suite and hug Judith goodbye in the space of fifteen minutes. Dear Friend walked me to the door. We held hands, kissed cheeks and thanked each other for the lovely time. And it was.

    Things got even better that night when I met Cheesy. I suggested we go to a restaurant, but she had a much better plan. Her brother-in-law dropped her off here and I did what Tiggers do best, which was to get her tipsy. After that it was a ginger talkfest for the next four hours. (Not to mention that O was included and he's a much better conversationalist than I am.*). We covered everything – raising twins, watching wildlife (Is there a difference between those activities? Not really.), friends and husbands and lovers, politics, spiders, other Bloggers (yes, you specifically), cooking, eating, property maintenance, gun control laws, geography, birth, death and the great travel opportunities in between.

    (Hey Cheese, I think we skipped religion. How the hell did we forget that?)

    She took dozens of photos and will be posting some as soon as her vacation ends and she returns to the wilds of Oregon and proper technology. She even let the boyos use her camera, that brave and foolish woman. I miss you already, darlin'. You are beautiful.

    Sunday was the boyos big 0-5 party. I was sweating it because I'd spent the week trying to reserve a shelter at a nearby fancy-pants park but was continually thwarted by a burrocrat. I decided just to hold it here, and thought about the thirty bucks I saved as I watched the lightning and rain from the back door. Ha.

    The highlight of the party was seeing the three lovely ladies of Southern CO – Lil Hux and the Girlios. Clowncar the newly-minted teacher (he uses Waits songs to teach creative writing – how cool is that?) had to stay behind and grade homework. Eleven kids and nothing broken. A Festivus miracle.

    Then the last little bits of stress. Today I made birthday treats for the boyos' kindergarten class. There's one little boy in their class who has severe food allergies. His mom sent a note to all the parents a week ago, asking them if they would please be careful about what snacks they sent along with their kids, and to let her know when there was a birthday so she could prepare a special treat for her son to eat. Then I overheard their teacher telling someone that she had to send the boy out of the room whenever there was a birthday, just in case. That just broke my heart. So I contacted the mom and asked what I could make or buy that he could safely eat. Turns out he can eat 0re0s and a particular brand of frosting. So that's what I did. Then I sat home and sweated the whole time, hoping nothing wold happen. But it was worth it. He was a happy kid today.

    But the best, best part was when a completely unprompted couple of boyos thanked me for the best party ever. My eyes might have leaked, I'm not sure.

    Now, all I have to worry about is Tuesday night when I get my first Biology test score back. I think I did well. Oh, and the lab write-up. At least I get a second chance if I don't like my first grade. And for me there's only one acceptable grade. Wish me luck.

    And wish O luck. I'm passing the stress baton on to him this week. More on that later.

    * “Read, 'Bullshit artist,'” O says over my shoulder.

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    Friday, September 14, 2007

    Mona's Friday Challenge -- Letting Go

    (Thanks for the advice, all you who posted and emailed. *s*)

    I wrote this back in March. At the time, it held a lot of emotion for me. Reading it over now, I see that I can let it go, and let you read it.

    It tells me too, why I've let the garden go this year, and go to seed. Next summer, I'll harvest again.


    We did our best to keep him safe.

    Winters, we sometimes kept my brother tented

    under a sheet held up by chairs,

    the vaporizer puffing out clouds of Vics.

    February, I came home with a cold.

    I stayed away. I was careful.

    I swear.

    At the hospital, the nurse

    looked at me when I sneezed,


    So that's how he got sick.

    She didn't say anything else

    until my birthday

    when my aunt brought me a gift:

    Your brother's in the hospital,

    and you get a present. That hardly seems fair.

    They sent him home

    but he couldn't eat.

    He'd always been spoon-fed Gerbers

    (I used to think the boy on the box was him; there were similarities.)

    but my mom couldn't even get that down him.

    My friend's mom was a nurse,

    worked rehab, nursing homes.

    She came over that night

    with a tube.

    It worked, but it was horrible to hear.

    I dreamed

    of a round black stone

    falling from a white one

    and a woman's voice said

    'He's gone.'

    My mother's screams

    woke me then.

    Seven A.M. sharp.

    I remembered the dream,

    and the dream time proceeding it –

    it was the day still ahead of me.

    My hardest day.

    I didn't want to leave the bed.

    I'd already lived through it.

    But you can't stay in bed with your mother screaming

    so I got up.

    Walked through the house

    to my brother's room.

    She stood over the crib

    Over my older brother.

    I looked in.

    His eyes were not closed all the way.

    His eyes were looking up;

    Slivers of pale grey and white.

    She picked him up.

    She cried out that he was dead.

    And she handed me the body.

    Hold him, she said.

    You never hold him.

    I sat with him on the edge

    of the bed my mother had slept in, alone,

    for months.

    While she dropped to the floor.

    Sat against the wall

    staring at her children.

    What should I do, Beck? She asked me.

    She actually smiled.

    What do I do now?

    And the next, well,

    it made her think

    that he was still alive

    that she had been mistaken

    when she saw him draw his last breath.

    That perhaps she was wrong.

    It was a sound.

    He's alive! She said.

    Beck, his heart – check his heart is it beating?


    It was something else.

    I held him through the death rattle.

    Not knowing what it was.

    I've only named it in later years.

    Learning of it,

    listening to that sound again in my head,


    matching description and circumstance to sound.

    That's what it was, that sound. A death rattle. But at the time, I guess

    I guess,

    I didn't have the right word, so my head made the rattle into something else.

    I thought, when I heard that sound

    That my brother's heart

    had come loose;

    actually broken from its stem

    and fallen to the bottom of his hollow body

    rattling against ribs

    clattering down a ladder

    with a sound like seeds shaken in a dry gourd.

    Reading my own thoughts now

    I wonder if my love of damp earth

    of planting seeds

    of trying to make something grow

    started there in that room without my knowledge.

    That every spring

    I bury his heart

    over and over

    And wait to see what happens.

    Back to

    Both of us in the room.

    Or really, three.

    In body if not in spirit.

    She didn't believe

    so I told her again.

    He's dead.

    She came apart;

    cried, laughed.

    I told her

    to call someone.

    Daddy, at work (he'd gone in early that day).

    Grandma, who took care of us – her own mother.

    Isn't that who you want to talk to

    when something this bad happens?

    You want your mother.

    So she did.

    She got up, went to the kitchen phone,


    My dad, first.

    Then my grandma.

    I listened from this room.

    This room I can't seem to leave.

    Things here get blurry now.

    The still frames are dark;

    perhaps burned or melted.

    I remember what I wore the rest of the day

    but I don't remember when

    or who

    took him from my arms.

    Or where he was placed

    until the ambulance came.

    How can you forget something like that?

    Or, maybe I should ask

    how do you forget the rest of it?

    But my daddy was there, then,

    and my Grandma

    and others (Grandpa? Papa? Grandmonster?)

    I remember when the ambulance left,

    a stranger going into my brother's bedroom

    where my parents sat on the bed.

    I remember watching the door close,

    my parents disappearing behind it,

    and thinking a stranger's thoughts:

    Now we close the door so they are alone to morn.

    I went into the family room

    sat down in my rocking chair.

    I remember this clearly, because I had also dreamed it.

    So when she came in, I already knew

    my grandmonster would say

    Oh, Rebecca, come sit on my lap!

    and that I would refuse

    and for once no one

    would push me at her.

    She sat on the couch next to the chair

    and said

    Well. Now you have to make up for him.

    As if I wasn't doing that already.

    He was buried

    Friday? Saturday?

    I don't remember.

    I was still in the room.

    And I was at graveside

    where the priest

    couldn't remember his name,

    got it wrong.

    (But remembered us at Mass

    on Sunday.

    Talked about a burial, how strong a family was

    While we cried in the back pew.)

    And I was at the house, after.

    Where Jerry got me to smile.

    Gerald now.

    His parents, who introduced mine,

    drove across two states to be there.

    It was a Thursday.

    I was back in school on Monday

    Apologizing about my homework.

    I was excused by my teacher,

    tears in her eyes,

    and given the As I would have gotten anyway.

    In class, they had said a prayer for my brother

    on Friday. All my classmates,

    all my friends,

    who had not called, not come to the funeral.

    No one thought to invite them.

    But mine was the middle crisis

    bookended between

    Ed's mom dying, leaving behind orphans,

    And G's dad, who

    shot himself when the doc found the cancer.

    We were fourteen.

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    Wednesday, September 12, 2007

    Ladies, Fix My Social Autism!

    Guys, you can play next time. Love you, mean it. But this requires a woman's touch. Heh.

    Ok, here's the thing. I have a social engagement coming up on Saturday which has the potential of turning very ugly. Let's hope not. But if it does, I need your advice.

    The scenario:

    My Dear Friend is having a baby shower/open house sort of thingy for her daughter, 'Judith', who is in town this weekend. Yay.

    The problem:

    Dear Friend is best friends with my mother-in-law, and has known my sister-in-law since she was in diapers. So guess who's going to be there?

    I haven't spoken to my SIL since January, '06. And our last conversation was a bit one-sided – me listening to her shriek through the phone about how horrible I am. (Which is true. I am horrible. But she didn't have to shatter my eardrum telling me.) One of her issues with me is actually my relationship with Dear Friend. See, apparently friendship with Dear Friend is limited, and it's first come, first serve. And like everything else out here, I should be excluded from it.

    Anyway, the shower. I'll probably see her there. And she's the type of person who loves drama, loves being the martyr.

    It's the boyos' birthday party the next day, and I worry that she will bring gifts for them and make a show of giving them to me since she isn't invited to the party. No, I will not invite her to the party. My family has been excluded from too many parties in the meantime. (See? Horrible.)

    In anticipation of this, I have a baby gift I can give my SIL to give to another mutual friend; another SIL-sponsored party that I was not invited to. (See? Catty. I don't do catty well. I hate being trapped in a woman's body, I really really do.)

    I want to maintain my cool. I want to be gracious but distant. I want to keep in mind that it is 'Judith's' day. How, dear wise ladies all, do I do this?

    And do you think that half a Vicadin before the party will put me to sleep before my head hits the steering wheel?

    My one bright spot for the day is that I'll be hanging with Cheesy later on!

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    Sunday, September 09, 2007

    Study Break

    He reached into his robes and the letter had become half of a cockle shell. It explained things better to her than all the words he knew. It talked about things built and left behind. It talked about growth, about incompleteness. It talked about shelter and emptiness. It was a hard open hand and an empty bowl.

    He cupped it in his palm. He lifted his open hand. Would she trade? Would she even understand?

    * * *

    The blasphemer's prayer: "Give me what I want."

    * * *

    Gone for days and days, you never call you never write...


    Not many letter boxes where I was.


    How come you've never written me a love letter?

    Why would I write you a love letter?

    Why not?

    Because they're so sad.

    What's so sad about I love you?

    Well, the fact that a love letter is being written at all indicates that the beloved is distant. That's sad.

    Hmm. Never thought of it that way.

    All love letters are by nature sorrowful.

    * * *

    The kitties miss you, Jo. Bella grabbed my arm and bit my wrist. I'm intensely flattered.

    * * *

    On my way home in about ten, O.

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    Thursday, September 06, 2007

    Chasing Police Cars

    Ok, that's it. The pinnacle's been reached. We can all go home now.

    (Oh,wait. Bono said we have to stick around 'til he's done recording with Coldplay. Which, if you think about it, is just musical masturbation. )


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