Saturday, November 19, 2011

What Time Is It?

I refused to wear a wristwatch when I was young. I had a delicate gold watch I kept in a drawer. It was my token way of being a free spirit. Let my department heads look at their watches and narrow their eyes when I arrived several minutes late for work. It seemed enough that so much of my life was gobbled by dead-end office jobs, I didn't have to be punctual about it. My watchlessness was inconvenient when meeting friends or keeping appointments. I had to keep checking store clocks or asking passersby the time but not wearing a watch was something I could do, like not eating meat, something that made me feel good. I kept only one clock in my studio apartment. I found even beautiful clocks noisy and intrusive. Knowing the time didn't really change a thing, especially time itself. I was indifferent to time in a way only those in their twenties can be.

My elderly mother-in-law frequently asked "Que hora es?" I wonder if she thought knowing the time might extend it. "Where did the time go?" People say this as if time is on holiday at some far away resort. "Time heals all wounds" is another favorite saying. I'm not so sure about this one, especially if I check with our war veterans. We are supposed to behave "appropriately" for our age. I remember the eighty-five year old nun who was outraged because the police refused to put her in jail with the other protestors during a political demonstration. Clearly, she hadn't received the memo about afghans and tea only. Personal courage is not age-sensitive.

There is a story about my grandmother Anna Langan Brautigan. Ill for a very long time, she wanted to attend a wedding celebration. She asked her doctor if doing so would be all right and he advised against it but she attended the wedding and reception anyway. She died later that evening and, according to my cousin's account, the living room clock stopped when my grandmother died. I believe Time would honor my gentle grandmother in this way and I like believing she had a wonderful day before her final night.

I stiIl don't wear a watch but I'm no longer indifferent to the passage of time. I wonder when I got so gray and when my hands stopped looking young. This morning, the view of the river seems more calming than usual. The coffee, a special blend my husband Victor puts together, tastes so good. My crazy little dog is plopped beside me. There is music in another room and I know exactly what time it is -- time to give thanks.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

From Russia With Love

Bloggers can track the location of their readers and I am surprised and delighted to find I have a very small but apparently loyal readership in Russia. Hello Russia! I don't know who you are, but thanks!

P.S. I should have posted this yesterday, Dostoevsky's birthday.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Touch of Comedy

I'm re-posting this short video (from quite a while ago) because I had insomnia last night and because I like it. I hope you enjoy meeting a sleepy playwright and his muse. The video is called "Jack and Thalia" and it's on YouTujbe.

Before Dark

“Home before dark,” our mother’s voice
trails after my brother and me like a kite tail
as we scamper to stickball. Sundown
happens too soon so we run to the blue
house as if our lives depend on time.
After supper, in the hallway, I hear
“She’s got to stop following me around”
and imagine his pals poking fun at
a skinny kid sister tagging along.

Today, I can’t help it; I’m happy.
God knows why.
I’m holding on to heaven.
If I let go, what’s there? Nothing
but memory and pain.
I confess I’ve been unfaithful
to my dreams and my stories,
leaving them alone and unwritten
in the distant shimmering house,
the house they burst forward from,
rushing and true. I have to keep writing.
That’s how it is, before dark…

Copyright 2011 Barbara Alfaro