Mom told me I should work at Cardinal Ridge but I really hated doing laundry. I was at five loads of stiff white linen and they hurt my knuckles; they were so dry that I was getting little fabric burns, like blanket paper cuts. But I’d rather fold the sterile sheets than confront the indignity of a little cup of juice at mealtimes. Or, worse, a shallow dish full of M&Ms.
In addition to juice, everyone got an entree at 6PM and Marcy got a grilled cheese sandwich because she wouldn’t eat anything else. There was a cart that rolled around after the meal with pills on it, like the candy trolley on the Hogwarts Express, except chocolate frogs were laxatives and pumpkin pasties were bright pain pills. Pain management pills. I don’t know what it means to manage pain but I’m sure I’ll find out.
I wasn’t disgusted with the residents, not like the other girls. I got tired of Gary’s eyes and grabby grabby hands but other than him, it was just the tragedy that was unbearable. It’s like they were allergic to life, like breathing was killing them. The majority were former smokers, so maybe it was. I don’t know.
Their skin was soft but it was onionskin-thin, and veins made little snowbanks on the backs of their hands. Faces– weathered– drooped, courtesy of gravity and mirth. There was a TV in the living room, with ten armchairs arranged around it. Dental office magazines flopped over the edges of the coffee table, and the three lamps in the room weren’t bright enough. The fluorescent ones in the laundry room were too bright. I did my work in the dark.
Instead of winding, whittling, weaving my way down to the big question of the post, I’ll pose it now: is a journal a sort of memoir, if read? Is a memoir only memoir if it’s been edited for the consumption of others? Sometimes, while journal-ing (no, I don’t mean this blog, though my posts have been hideously amorphous lately), that toxic thought comes into my head– you know, the one that whispers, “What if you’re important, someday? They’ll read this, you know.” And I find myself writing for the privacy-violating reader instead of myself. To combat this inevitable moment, I’ve begun talking to the journal, rather than to myself or to a reader.
I don’t begin with, “Dear Journal,” or any of that shite. I’m not a preteen in a movie from the noughties. It’s just me, prattling on about my day, my insecurities, and usually, what I’m unhappy about. I’ve written about training yourself to be more positive, but I do vent– it just happens on paper. I finish with a, “Love, KATIE.” My name in caps, the rest of the entry in cursive.
And that’s it. I do it every night. I suppose it’s a kind of meditation. I hear that successful people do that kind of stuff so maybe I am getting something right. I bought an avocado the other day, too. Boy, am I grown up.
Eventually, I’ll go back home to New England. I love the Atlantic and I miss it. It’s prettier, has more whales, and is more aggressive than the Pacific. Well, at least it seems angrier, which I like. There’s a tension to it.
I’m thinking of, eventually, moving to Salem, or even somewhere in Maine. Or New Hampshire. Somewhere that I don’t hate, you know? I like my neighborhood (I moved to St. Paul) because it reminds me of a cleaner Boston. I hate Minneapolis because it reminds me of a busier Green Bay. And we all know how I feel about Green Bay.
It is very disjointed, this post.
Am writing a story about the nursing home I used to volunteer at. It was very weird and though I had some great material-providing experiences there, the inevitability of death was too much for me to handle. Well, that, and the death of my favorite resident, Marcy. She never had a visitor while I was there but she was so wonderful, you know? Her life was very cool. I’d like to write about it– a frame narrative with me describing the home, then her telling the story. Kind of like “The Parvenue”- a Shelley (Mary) short story. Or “The Swiss Peasant.” I think trying the frame thing might be fun. I haven’t, yet. And it will end up being creative nonfiction, too, because these things actually happened.
Even if I can’t remember exactly what her name was. Marcy? Mimi? Marnie? I just remember that she was beautiful. And liked grilled cheese.
“February” is a new favorite. I’m obsessed with February. I have been for quite a while, if I think about it. The letter f is nice, too. Four, frost, February…folliculitis.
Sylvia Plath gave me nightmares a couple days ago and now I’m afraid to read her poetry alone. I think it was because I read her stuff aloud and it echo-bounced around my apartment and tried to get out.
I killed a moth in the car this morning. It was large and I slapped it with a collection of Mary Shelley’s short stories.
I have class tonight and for three hours, I’ll have to suffer an exuberant pustule of a man dominating conversation.
My pants are staying up, I’m cold in my cube, there’s a panty liner on my heel because I couldn’t find a band aid for my peeled blister.
There’s a lot of me this morning but it’s all in bits.