Sunday, September 21, 2014

Episode 568: Sterno

I admire a decision, of whatever sort. The advent of processing speed for computers came to my attention around 1994, with the prevalence of the Pentium 2, which probably wouldn't be a suitable processing chip for a refrigerator, these days, but at the time, it was NASA-level shit, the turn and burn standard for PCs.

So, the concept of a mind - even an artificial one, designed in the San Fernando valley, and assembled by manure-coated Tibetans - that can assemble data and then come to a conclusion, of any sort, that meets a crossroads and actually PICKS A ROAD, this is something I like. I hate tentative drivers, wishy-washy dishwashers, ambivalent accountants, and part-time racists. If you choose an action, choose it. Be the ball. Embrace your dark side. Suck the dick: if you want to be gay, be tall, be homeless, be an asshole or to be a lotus-eating gadfly who never shaves her chin, by God, run with that shit. Nothing wants to be vomited out of Jesus's mouth, not even Jesus's lunch.

I have sat down to serenade the English language. No, that's disingenuous; I sat down to entertain, myself and the Russians who embrace my occasional posting of nude Emus, to try to speak what cannot be spoken. 

I am currently entrenched in a somewhat involuntary celibate phase, for which I blame my libido. I can't be expected for the world to indulge my sex drive. I imagine there exists some humans who would willingly engage in coitus with me, dirty or clean, over ice or neat, but my own standards and geography conspire to make me face both the music and the wall. I am no longer young and attractive, nor wild and impulsive; any combination of those things would probably allow me to madly copulate like a priest at a Boy Scout camp. I want what I want, I can't have what I want, and so I am mentally shrugging and punching bricks as I decide if my own sex drive is an actionable offense committed by God.

I try to keep my hand in, as it were, embracing women as if they were on the verge of extinction, but I'm old enough for my empathy to interfere with my desire: I don't want who doesn't want me. I want to be wanted. I want to be needed, craved and sought, but only by that which I crave and seek.

I have defenses remaining, so I offer no more.





Saturday, September 6, 2014

Episode 567: I Will Shine Dark

Shall I tell you about my year so far? I think I shall. 

I have been immersed in a phase wherein I don't talk very much. That self-imposed, involuntary muffling has extended to music and art and writing, as well; I'm afraid I haven't been creative or interesting, by my previous definition, since last Summer or Autumn.

I have been otherwise engaged, however, which is what I will now attempt to explain. Late last June, my wife, Clarissa, and I traveled to Europe (specifically, the Netherlands and a brief stay in Paris, France). It was on this trip that it became painfully obvious to me that I was fat.

I will need to include a copious amount of background and exposition for every statement I declare, so bear with me as I zoom around timelines until I've made some small declarative victories.


..........

Gladiators still exist.

The original Latin defines a gladiator as a swordsman; the vernacular tended to apply to slaves who fought to their deaths in an arena for the amusement of paying spectators. Such an analogy could be made to the strife of modern life; I don't want to be heavy-handed, merely brief (brevity is the soul of wit, Shakespeare wrote in "Hamlet," a quote I'd erroneously associated with Oscar Wilde for the longest time), and so I should have left it at "gladiators still exist." I am sometimes accused of writing in "stream of consciousness," which is almost an aphorism: isn't all expression output in a stream of consciousness? Perhaps it is true that the most successful of artists have honed their ability to convey their art in a manner that appears logical and orderly, going from A to B to C logically and intuitively, after a disciplined self-editing process?  Those of us who are on the fringes of greatness are merely poor storytellers? Because, when my writing seems jumbled or poorly paced, it is because I am writing it in the order I am thinking it. If we had a conversation, it might evolve in such a manner. I might not make it to the Smithsonian, but I am stored in the Library of Congress. I accept each step as I climb it. It would be untoward for me to blame the sun for rising.

I am an eternal optimist, which makes me a fool. I am an intelligent idiot - I do stupid things, unapologetically, consistently, and with little regard for consequence. I can remember anything I choose to, but eschew learning as tedious, unless there is a reward in it for me.

I will shine dark, a bleak flashlight into the reality of existing in a world I simultaneously love and hate: yesterday evening, I discovered that I can be rude. I ignored some time-sucking women who monopolized the ATM when i wished to use it; simply bowed my head and ignored them, even when one of the women apologized for taking so long; I am not proud, but I am honest in revealing my warts. I have never, ever, thought of myself as rude; I take great pains to act as a "Southern a Gentleman," by choice, a form of dishonesty I allow in my own behavior, to be equally gracious to the stupid and cruel as I am to the kind and the busy and the fuckable and delightful.

I am sometimes accused of arrogance, elitism, impatience and coldness (especially by myself, since I am nowhere near significant enough to yet have an army of detractors). I plead guilty to whatever adjectives with which you choose to inveigle me; I am not defending what I AM, I am describing it. I am an unwilling elitist, a humble but arrogant monster. I am chagrin and envy wrapped in a swaddle of insecurity.

I refuse to see the incompetent. I don't typically fume with impatience, externally, nor do I verbally decry the inefficiency of the world; I bow my head in a prayer to myself, a withdrawal into the world where I alone am King and Queen and I rule with an iron fist wrapped in a velvet glove over my crystalline silicone quartz subjects. I refuse to admit that I share the world. 

I declare that I do, I announce it like the drunken Uncle at Thanksgiving announces that the "nigger in the White House should be impeached," and I am received with equally deserved shock and disdain. I do share the world.

It is a source of fascination to me to be reminded of how unimportant each and every one of us is. We function as a virus cloud, as a funnel of steam that reams the bowels of the universe; we are relevant in quantity, if only as statistical data that strives to explain how bilirubin can pretend to sentience.

......

As of July 5th, 2013, I tipped the scales at 250 pounds. About 112 kilograms. 18 stone. Too much for my height (five Feet, nine inches). Something in my mind ... the cliche would be "snapped," and that is apt, but isn't correct, exactly. I have written before, I think, of how it is I came to give up the allure of crack cocaine: simply put, I struck out with a woman at a bar. For me, that is more significant than it should be, but just picture that my entire self-image is (was?) wrapped up in the idea that if I get to know a woman of the opposite sex, I will be appealing. Perhaps not as a life mate, or perfect partner, but that I am appealing sexually, if I can get past the "ice breaking" part, and on to the flirting and "wonder of me" part (as Al Pacino's character so bluntly explained in "Sea of Love"). I feel whole if I can "close escrow." I am just a guy, but I like women, a lot, and if I'm not sexually appealing, my DNA shrieks at my hippocampus! and I totally go Autistic and hide under a mattress in my art gallery in the attic (another story that's I cringe at the thought of relating, so I won't). So, I quit crack because I smoked $250 worth in the space of 90 minutes, and because my heart felt as if it was going to explode from my chest, I went to a bar near the A train and had a beer to calm my nervous system and engaged a smokin' hot middle-aged bar maiden and was making time until I drank myself into the toilet, hurling out lunch and shame into the porcelain receptacle and she moved to a different stool, because no one likes to help the fallen Samaritan, and I felt so ashamed I ditched an addiction, and that was the night before Thanksgiving, 1997. Anyway.

In the Netherlands and Paris, not a single woman flirted with me. Not one. Anywhere. That is unusual enough for me to make me question my very existence, never mind my waistline.

As a Father's Day present, in June, my mother gifted to me a membership in a local gym/community center. I decided that my athletic youth was not yet completely departed, and dove in with a passion.

This isn't a screed about weight loss or discipline (hell, at this writing, I still a cigarette smoker, and I'm currently drinking vodka, so don't for a moment believe that I am proselytizing about a goddamned thing). 

Anyway, shorter version: 14 months later, I've lost about 60 pounds, and my mind has to engage other things to worry about. I acknowledge that there has been a price for focus: I don't consume myself with the issues of others, I don't create in the same angsty yearning I once did, I don't fret and fume about every detail, because my mind only follows: work/make money/work harder/don't eat that/don't eat that/don't eat that/lift more. 

MORE. PUT TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY POUNDS ON THE BAR, PUSSY.

ETC. Commitment and focus is only interesting if you are the object upon which there is focus. Otherwise, the correct response is: "He So Crazy."

I'm not sure if I have a point, but when I say, "I've been busy," I mean it. I've spent a year being hungry. I hated myself. A lot. I hated the gelatinous me. Is that rational, or important? Does it matter if a 45 year old man is soft and squishy, amusing but round? It did to me. I am still pondering "why," I don't have that revelation to share. It wasn't to appeal to a woman, per se, this time (still married to my Pookie Bear), it wasn't to look good for work (like drill companies give a rat's ass if I have hair or teeth, let alone a waist). It was just for me. It was my first true selfish act in decades, as far as I know.

I don't care if you care or not.








Sunday, July 20, 2014

Episode 566: All of the Mistakes

I am becoming very skilled at drilling.

Numerous scientific studies have allowed that it takes somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 hours of repetitive practice to become an expert at an activity. Calculating the years I have spent working in the field, multiplied by an average of 8 hours a day (my days are typically much longer, and I often work Saturdays, but I was allowing for the subtraction of driving and set-up time), I figure that I am halfway to that pinnacle: I've drilled for approximately 5,000 hours. Perhaps even less, but my point is that I am not yet ready to qualify myself as an expert, merely one who is on his way to being good at it.

I may have found an actual niche. Unfortunately for me and my careerism, it is at the middle-age of my potential life; I am currently 45 years old, endeavoring at my fourth or fifth or seventh career (depending on what barometer ones uses as an identifier), and it is unlikely that I will maintain the physical prowess necessary to perform a rigorous field job for 20 more years, until retirement age. I am by far the oldest driller at my current company of employ, as I was at the last; my manager (who spent 15 years as a driller in the field, before being promoted to manager several years ago), is one year older than am I. Most of our drillers are in their early or mid-30s. It is a demanding job, not merely taking a toll upon the body, but necessitating a problem-solving demeanor, an ability to adapt to rapid changes and stresses, as well as the maturity to encounter failure nearly as often as success. The movie "Armageddon," a silly piece of Hollywood fluff, did capture that aphorism, if only that, when Bruce Willis's character opined that "drilling is an art. I've been doing it my whole life, and I still don't have it right." 

It would be hard to pigeonhole the trials of my chosen career, to explain what it is that draws me to it, as well as what makes it difficult. Many different jobs extract their own tolls from the performers thereof, and I take nothing away from those who act as police officers, emergency room doctors or nurses, teachers or software programmers (I know at least one person in each of those careers), I am merely jawing about what I know, and I know that what I do isn't easily done.

I am certain that your job is hard, too, please don't mistake my writing as boasting. I was almost embarrassed, for years, at the seeming meaninglessness of what I do, and how little I made doing it; a new company, and comparisons to a new slew of drillers who do what I do, has given me some perspective on the field. I no longer wake up every morning feeling cheaply underpaid, for one thing. I am compensated adequately, enough so that I feel as if I am valued by my employer, instead of feeling as if my employer was begrudging at paying me at all, as was the case with my previous employer, Mr. Summers, may he fester in a pit of mediocrity for all time. I also don't consider myself a clueless rookie, any longer; in just a month at the new digs, I have been consulted by many of the drillers, on many of the issues, and I don't feel like an imposter or bullshitting fraud when I answer.

Just like being at a party, where it seems that often a single individual holds forth with tales to set the party a roar, extolling multiple anecdotes, and you stand with a rictus of a grin, amused and yet feeling that your life isn't worth repeating, I had felt that my own drilling stories were lacking. My first week at the new company, however, the senior driller and I began exchanging tales, and I matched him or exceeded him, breakdown for breakdown, anecdote for anecdote, and I came to realize that I have performed in many unique areas and have drilled in places that others haven't and probably never will, due to the luck and circumstance of my hiring.

There is a relatively new monument in Washington, D.C., a memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. In 2003, I was on the team that did the geotechnical drilling for that. Me. I was there. Also, that year, we had a bizarre project out back of the Capitol building, also in D.C., drilling on top of a concrete slab that served as the roof to an underground mall (did you know there was a underground mall to the Capitol building? That's when I found out), using a small rig to core through the concrete columns holding up the roof, and instead of coring with a water-cooled system, we had to use air (something that is rarely done, and with which the senior driller was unfamiliar, so rare is it), because it use water would weaken the columns and rain down on the people in that mall, 50 feet below. I've drilled inside parking garages with ceilings so low that I couldn't raise my rig tower up without breaking it down to the minimal components, a mere 8' high. I've drilled on bridges too numerous to count, straddling traffic lanes with people whizzing by at 70 miles an hour a foot away from my back (they're supposed to slow down, but I'm here to tell you, they don't; almost everyone sees traffic cones as a slalom challenge). I've drilled in rivers and on cliffs, and everything and anything that can break on a rig or a truck, I've had break on me in a Murphy's Law manner (i.e., at the least advantageous time). I've been around the geotechnical block.

And now I've come to realize my place in the drilling hierarchy. Far from feeling pride or hubris, however, I feel humbled. It is a strange feeling, because it keep thinking I should feel a little cocksure about my experiences, but I don't, still all; every scar on my hands, I've earned, painfully, and every scar on my memories, as well. For me, ensuring that heavily-weighted tooling is strapped securely to the drill rig, before loading onto the trailer, isn't a theoretical good idea, I know it is, because I've lost tools driving down the road. Making sure your weight is distributed evenly is also an earned piece of knowledge, as slamming into a guardrail at 65 miles an hour because of a whipping trailer is not easily forgotten.

Etc.

Where I am and who I am is not accidental, nor is it a matter of pride or joy - by no means is it a regretful piece of sadness, either - but, it is merely the compilation of thousands of hours of trying and trying not to fail, occasionally succeeding, until I've made ALL of the mistakes, and feel no need to make them again.












Saturday, May 24, 2014

Episode 565: Saul (he of the scales on the eyes)

I have learned (been taught, really, by exposure, but let us not quibble semantics so early in the column, shall we?) to love the music of Radiohead, a weird band led by Thom Yorke, a British guy who is almost the exact same age as I (he was born just less than a month before me), but who has strived towards his potential immeasurably more than have I (that sounds gibberishesque; let me merely assert that I am not yet who I will be remembered to be). Also, I prefer "striven" over "strived," even though one is a word and one isn't. I don't care. Like James Joyce before me, the language must bend to MY will, not the other way around, since I have mastered what is acceptable and now create my own illusory microverse, pausing only long enough to ensure that those to whom I speak can grasp my meaning well enough to be baffled. My assertion, at the beginning, was made because I was listening to "Electioneering" on my headphones, as I opened the Blogger software. I shall perhaps embed the link.

Radiohead - Electioneering if you give a fuck.


That's what is rattling around in my head as I typed my beginning; the modern art of "blogging" demands a paradigm shift from traditional essays. I cannot imagine Twain or Dickens or Ellison or Wallace embedding a YouTube video while they were expressing themselves, but that doesn't curtail my behavior, nay, not an iota; I will not conform to preconceived notions of how to entrance you with my words, whilst using every available trick to do so. My words are still the sauce on the goose, the raison d'être, what makes me me, but I also have a Safari browser and the occasional joy in "listen to this! Listen to this!" (I wonder if we learn that behavior when we are hatchlings, bugging our mothers).

So, there is this new song by OneRepublic that I really have enjoyed hearing, and imagining dancing on top of my drill rig while hearing (a valid indicator of a song's appeal to me, is if I can visualizing myself two-stepping around the rig's mast, or fucking, while listening to it) called "Love Runs Out" (I think it is appropriate to embed another YouTube link):

OneRepublic Love Runs Out 

The lyrics are mere "shake your booty to a Tarantino bloodbath"-type expressions, but I will briefly dissect the opening line, for edification, and to demonstrate that there is more to Blogging than to scream into an empty ice cream cone:

"I'll be your light, your match, your burning sun."

We have three simplistic synonyms for forms of heat, or illumination, to choose from, here. Since the word "burning" is present in the lyric, I will assume (with forthright trepidation) that the artist is lauding his own ability to provide warmth, of a sort, to his subject (noted only as "your," thus far, little can be known about the subject to whom he wails, yet). It is an uncertified scientific fact that women are cold (I did a picture for Twitter and Facebook, a couple of years ago, hoping it would go viral, and I will again include it here). Since I am empathic and actually a "sweet guy," I feel that I must always  apologize for my opinions, if they offend anyone anywhere, and while it is also true that my skin is thickening, as my "fame" grows, millimeter by millimeter - I am HUGE in Russia I am appalled to be thought of as misogynistic, especially by girls (women) named Jennifer, and so I fear that I often over-explain, so that I can prove that I believe that women are awesome, I don't think Playboy magazine should be "Peggy Olson-ing" any motherfuckers, and that no means no means no means no.


Consent is sexy. I am living proof. Sometimes, women have said "yes" to me, and that is a large part of why I write. I was terrible at writing, before I had been inside and around naked women, and then I Saw, like Saul on the Road to Damascus. The scales fell from my Eyes, as well as from my burgeoning desire.





As I was saying before (as) I digressed, the author has stated that he will be a fire for the subject (I will not presume any attachment to the subject, although culture may tempt me to do so; since art, the best kind, is a tabula rasa of images and vagaries designed for us to imprint our own meanings onto, we tend to see what we generally see); therefore, "I will be your match, etc" might be meant to be, I'll be your body heat in bed, baby, because you're a woman and I am a red-blooded American male, the singer might actually be threatening to burn the fleece off of his favorite sheep. Who am I to judge? Other than the fact that sheep don't wipe their asses, very well, I have no Gag-reflex reaction to bestiality. I once worked with Guyanese dudes at a print shop who informed me, quite matter-of-factly, that their first sexual experiences were invariably with goats. Comme ci, comme ca.


Are women perfect, idealized creatures? No, of course not. I only think of the "other" gender, in terms of differences,when it comes to sex or hitting a fastball or squashing insects; women are men such as men are. The more we promote differences and inequalities and unfamiliarities and deficiencies, the more we wish to cling to archaic categorizations.




We all wish for rain, sometimes, if only so that we can stay out of it.




















Radiohead Electioneering

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Episode 564: Three Pieces of String

I wrote this last night, prompted by an attempt to socialize without speaking. At that, I failed, but hopefully, as a story, it serves well. Please enjoy, if you will.


"Three Pieces of String"


There were three strings that she placed upon the dresser, every night as soon as she walked into her room.

One was the color of itself, string untarnished, cotton bleached by the sun before reaching the gin; one was a faded blue, possessing echoes of the ultramarine it had once been, and the third piece of string was a crisp yellow, bold as lemon.

She performed it like a ritual, but without prissy or precise movements, instead laying them as a perfunctory act like removing earrings or unclipping garters, which would follow.
Each string to her was not a magic talisman or a desperate secret, but a reminder of individual moments that were imperative in her memory. During the day, she wore them wrapped together in a simple braid around her left wrist, seemingly a child's gift of a bracelet, unobtrusive yet omnipresent.

The foundation of the first string she had kept, the blue one, then led to the accumulation and safekeeping of the other two.

When she was six years old, she had a stuffed toy that had existed all of her life - that is to say, it had always been a fixture in her life; she could not recollect ever receiving it as a gift, for Christmas or a birthday: it merely always was.
It was a small horse, made of blue string and wooden blocks, cleverly tied together in some fashion to make it an indestructible and immortal toy.

The toy met an unspectacular end when she left it too near the hearth of the fireplace in her childhood home, and it caught fire for several moments before her father noticed and doused it with his ever-present cup of coffee. About half of it had been burned, and so she kept the other half for years (in a box at the foot of her bed) as a sort of terrifying reminder of danger and loss and the inability to bid farewell.

By the time she was sorting through her belongings and packing to go off to college, the old toy was a half-forgotten lump of charcoal and unraveling blue string. She pulled one long, uncharred string and used it to tie together some loose faux pearls her grandmother had discarded, and the string and pearls lay forgotten in her modest jewelry case for several more years.

While she was attending college, she began to experience the typical flowering of romance, discovering boys becoming men and enjoying the shivers she got when a certain student would stop on a path between classes and set his backpack down. The certain way he moved and shifted his shoulders - occasionally pausing to sip some unknown liquid from the thermos he carried, (probably water, but her imagination would tell her that it was margaritas on a shitty day and lemonade on a good one) and she began to try to coincide with his random pauses and loiter nearby.

She eventually contrived some method of meeting the boy, asking him the time or what class he had notes for or whether he knew what lunch the matriculating poor would be eating that day, and they enjoyed several months of ignorant love disguised as sex.

During the good period of their enjoinment, before she preferred to fall asleep early rather than endure another night of beer and XBox, before he began to notice the redhead in his Calculus class, they spent a weekend traveling to his Uncle's house on the Jersey Shore, a simple but inexorably magnificent miniature vacation from school and life.

They visited the boardwalk on the beach, where they discovered that they both hated it, and spent a day laughing at their shared disdain for carnivals and cotton candy and tourist shops and as a memory and a lark and a permanent joke he bought for her a gaudy and howlingly inappropriate and unwearable necklace of strung-together sand dollars on a bright yellow string.
On one forgettable evening of sadness a year later, long after he was gone from her life, as was even the rebound guy that followed him, she sat in sweatpants and an old button up shirt that had once belonged to her dad, and she was struck with a cleaning frenzy. Not the sort that disinfects the home, but the kind that discards pictures and remnants of old boyfriends, and the necklace was tossed out into the trash, as was the old string of pearls that had been ensconced in the jewelry box for years.

As she returned to the rubbish bin with another load of the detritus of life, she spied the two strings, side by side on top of the pile, and was struck how her life seemed to be in service of collecting string.

She retrieved the two pieces of string, eschewing the pearls and sand dollars, and rolled the strings up and placed them back into the jewelry case.

The third piece of string was the worst to acquire.

After time had passed, and she graduated and went into the world with a sheepskin in one hand, and a beggar's cup seeming to be in the other, she made her way to the employ a publisher of travel magazines. Her degree had little to do with writing or travel or magazines, but she found that she interviewed well and the harried manager that hired her was pleased that she was presentable and had an agreeable scent.

In other circumstances, she might have felt put off by the solicitous nature of her interviewer, but she had student loans to repay and plants to feed, and she ultimately married the man, anyway, and so she decided not to sue him for sexual harassment in her head, anymore.
They chose a house together, and he agreed with most of her choices in colors and duvets and rugs. They upgraded cars and plants and worried about taxes.

When she became pregnant, it was intentional and scheduled, and they eagerly awaited the baby showers and Lamaze classes and they nervously practiced happy fretting.

In her eighth month of pregnancy, she was walking to her car after a brief shopping sojourn on what she had promised herself would be her last day of work until after the baby was a month old, thank goodness for maternity leave, when she paused with a small bag of groceries, in the parking lot, feeling a cramp in her abdomen.

She had felt the cramps on occasion, the first accompanied by an uncomfortable call to her doctor and a rushed visit to the doctor's office where she was assured that she had merely become acquainted with Braxton-Hicks contractions. She paused, leaning over slightly in a vain attempt to hurry her body's sadistic hobby along, when she spotted a woman laying face down between the cars in the parking lot.

From where she was standing, the woman had rolled slightly to be almost underneath a silver Taurus, and it wasn't until she leaned to quiet her belly resident (Sandra, they had already named the impending female infant) that she had the angle to see the prone figure.
Hobbling at an angle, with a rapidly-increasing pulse, with one hand supporting her non-existent center of gravity and the other still toting the plastic bag full of whatever it was she had stopped to buy, she scuttled over to the woman while also trying to glance around to see if there was anybody else around who wasn't moving in a cramped, crab-like fashion, who could assist.
She approached the woman and called out to her, hoping that she had fainted or was perhaps searching for car keys or some other bizarre reason for her to be prone that didn't involve an ambulance.

Receiving no response, she instinctively reached for her cell phone, while nearly simultaneously recalling that she had left it in her car, which seemed agonizingly distant, at that moment. She reached out to shake the woman, leaning over as far as she dared, braced upon the Taurus, and she soon discovered she was woefully inadequate in terms of viable flexibility. The mere thought of bending far enough to shake or prod the unresponsive woman was enough to give the incipient mother vertigo.

"Help," she croaked, looking around wildly, feeling cramped and nauseous and desirous of immediate transport to almost any other location. The parking lot was, just then, without any other movement within it, and her mind raced as she struggled with the likelihood that she'd have to find a way to stand upright again, then race as much as she could to her car, grab her cell and call 911, when she saw motion that made her blood run cold: inside the very Taurus upon which she was leaning, and under which the woman rested, was a child in a car seat, staring back out at her and quietly sobbing. She reached out and the grasped the door handle, which was locked.

Now almost frantic, she tapped on the windows, to allow the child to know there was a conscious adult addressing the dilemma, and her mind examined the puzzle as she dropped her plastic bag and found herself back at her car and calling a dispatcher and made enough sensible noises that promises were made to send police and an ambulance.
She was back at the Taurus while she was still on the phone, making what she hoped were comforting smiling faces at the distressed toddler while speaking to the 911 operator.
When she completed the call and tried to put her phone back away into the purse she no longer had because it was in her car, her water broke and unceremoniously splashed the comatose woman on the ground with amniotic fluid. She was still alone in the parking lot, and so she carefully eased herself in a sort of controlled fall to the ground and from that vantage point could see a set of keys underneath the car.

Since she could see no reason not to, she leaned over to grasp the keys and pressed the electronic key fob and the Taurus's doors unlocked with an audible click. Sighing, she rolled over onto all fours and pushed herself upright from that awkward stance and used all of her arms and legs to make herself move in the direction of the rear door.

She opened the door and unbuckled the child, who quieted but still had wet and sad eyes, and put the child on her hip as she awaited aid. While she waited, she called her husband and explained only the portion of her story that dealt with breaking water, and assured him that she was driving herself to the hospital, which she hoped would soon be true.

The police arrived, and to her embarrassed chagrin, insisted that she allow the ambulance to transport her to the hospital, along with the unconscious woman (who, it seemed was a diabetic, as well as a conscientious parent, and had apparently put the child into the car before closing the door and then hitting the lock button as she collapsed, probably, some events are mysterious), and one of the officers followed in her car, and she delivered a somewhat premature but otherwise healthy and normal baby girl.

In the bag of groceries she had bought was some kraft paper, tape and string, to package some figurines she had bought on eBay, in a late-night moment of weakness, that she fortuitously had found a buyer to take off her hands. After she returned home from the hospital, she discovered the bag and its contents, and her eye fell on the string and made an unbidden association.
She recalled the other two bits of string she had kept - the blue one, from her first toy, childhood enjoyed and then lost; the yellow piece, her first love gained and lost. She decided to cut a piece of the white, unremarkable string, to add to and complete the unlikely collection: a baby gained, a miracle of life, but a purse lost. She never did find her purse, from that day in the parking lot, and it had been her favorite, a sporty little leather bag from Ferragamo she'd bought when she discovered she was pregnant.
Every day, when she got home, she took off the string bracelet, placing it in the same jewelry case she'd always had, so she could pick up her daughter from the nanny and so Sandra wouldn't chew on it.


End.