Heavy Lifting

I’ve just lost $50 worth of stamps and it isn’t even 7 in the morning. Really I guess I lost them yesterday in my excitement at seeing Jon Hamm on TV. (It’s not that he’s so handsome; it’s that as Don Draper he’s so dark this season. With the drinking and passing out and walking around with bits of throw-up on his Brooks brothers shirts you just can’t believe how sunny and humble the guy is in real life!)

Today I’m driving five hours to give a talk called ‘Surprised by Joy.’ For inspiration, I reread the C.S. Lewis book with the same name but the thing turns out to be mostly about theology and the string of horrid early 20th century English boarding schools where Lewis spent his childhood. To me being surprised by joy happens when you go looking ONE MORE TIME for all the stamps you lost and come instead across a funny old photo like this one. Talk about an unforgiving style for the lady on the left, eh?

My mom was so funny always: once when she was talking to my cousin Sheil, she suddenly interrupted herself to shout, “Your teeth look GREAT!” We laughed at her then but now that I’ve become so much like her I totally get what she was doing. Just the other day I was in conversation with my friend Trish and suddenly I just had to say it: “That bra is really workin’ for you.”

Was she offended? Not a bit.  “The Intimacy store!” she cried at once. “Have the fitting! Pay the money!”

Well, maybe I will. Maybe tomorrow once I’ve recovered from dispensing all that joy. 🙂



It was now, this strange new time when dogs can no longer run free and we’re all forced to overhear each other’s phone conversations

In Mad Men Episode 408, we see Don Draper alone, sleeping on his stomach in his bachelor bed, arms flung out to the side. In voiceover he’s saying that he likes to sleep; that he feels like he’s free-falling in a parachute. I feel that way too when I sleep and boy am I sleeping deep these days, just as I did in my crib when I would wake so disoriented. I’m doing that now too: I swim up out of sleep and I don’t know what year it is or how old I am. (I kind of love it, to be honest.)

This morning in the moments before waking I dreamed about Tommy Wilson, a student from my teaching days. In my dream he was still a football star, still the Class President and Prom King, only it was now and they had some new kid playing him in a sort of movie. I watched a while as the kid, not even faintly like the real Tommy Wilson, stole his life.

“You can’t do this!” I finally said to the  director. “You can’t just steal a person! I bet the real Tommy Wilson is still out there! You can’t just scoop him out and put somebody else inside his name and pretend it’s OK!”

He looked at me like I was crazy. “Of course we can. Recycling: that’s what life is.”

I woke up then, no longer in safe Don Draper’s floating  free-fall. Outside, a dog barked briefly, then made a strangling sound; he was leashed. Then a woman passed, talking loudly on a cell phone. So it wasn’t ‘back then’ when the real Tommy Wilson was a youth, and it wasn’t this Orwellian future from my dream either. It was now, this strange new time when dogs can no longer run free and we’re all forced to overhear each other’s phone conversations, even at day’s beginning, even in the hushed and holy hour of dawn.