Yesterday, I got bit by a dog. No, not the adorable terrier Max. It’s been a while since that’s happened. My downstairs neighbor Marshall was grooming his German Shepherd Artemis. She’s only eleven months old – and not fond of males. I was several feet away as Marshall sat on the opposite stairway landing steps. Artemis started barking again as I stood there motionless. Because Marshall has partial hand paralysis, Artemis unexpectedly lunged hard toward me and pulled the leash lock loose from Marshall’s hand. Luckily, my spidey sense reacted and I jumped up and away just as Artemis began to bite me above my left knee. I felt a sharp pain but managed to avoid a full clamp of the dog’s teeth. I only suffered a small puncture in the meat of my leg. It felt like I’d been pinched by a jealous girlfriend. Marshall was mortified as I pulled up my pant leg to see if I was excessively bleeding. I laughed. My leg is a little sore this morning. I don’t fault Artemis or Marshall. She’s a beautiful dog and Marshall is a caring, proud owner. My plan is for ME to bite Artemis’ ears next time to show her how it feels. I’m sure that will go well. You’ll know it when it happens because I’ll probably lose an ear. I have two of them, so one is basically a spare. It will give me the character I’ve always lacked. And an excuse to be hard of hearing.
Last night coming home, the world was beautiful. The March lightning fiercely raced across the sky above me. The streets were cascading with unexpected eddies of flowing water. I drove carefully in my small car as I made my way across Fayetteville. When I lay in my bed, I watched the sky through my open window in the bedroom. Güino lay next to me, his little ears intermittently illuminated by the flashes. I never put the blinds down in there. I fell asleep watching the patterns flash across the ceiling and walls.
One of my new favorite things in the world is Talenti coffee chocolate chip gelato. I like all the flavors, but the creamy texture of the gelato combined with the bits of chocolate is sublime. It’s like eating the Turkish delight that tempted Edmund when he visited Narnia in The Lion, The Witch, And the Wardrobe. (I loved the Narnia books as a child and read them all at least a dozen times.) I remember the first time I ate real Turkish delight, having no idea what it really was. I’d visited a store in Eureka Springs and the owner offered me a chunk, an item that wasn’t for sale to the public. I’ll never forget the texture of the citrus-sweetness that reminded me of a heavenly lemon – or of the surprise of tasting something I’d read about for years without having a clue what it really was. The Talenti gelato evokes the same delight from all those years ago.
Recently, I created a new logo for the hospital. I think it’s a certainty that my employer should adopt it. Not because I made it, but because it’s both simple and elegant. Names don’t define a place or a person – but they telegraph expectations. It’s one of the reasons I love my name. X is just a placeholder, the simplest of names, one that allows me to be whomever I want to be without contamination from other people who might share my name.
As I write this, I’m listening to “Just Breathe,” an unexpectedly calming song by Willie Nelson and his son. A fresh cup of coffee sits on my desk in front of me. Güino sits on the living room floor next to the plush couch, licking the recently-ingested cat food paste juice from his whiskers. The workday lies ahead of me. My head is flooded with a hundred disparate thoughts as I look out the open blinds onto the world across the parking lot and the railroad tracks across Gregg Street.
I’ve been cleaning the parking lot in increments, removing countless bags of decaying leaves and trash. Each time it rains, its underlying lines become clearer.
I hope the same is true for my life.
Small moves, insignificant in their individual transformations, almost imperceptible, until one day, one’s eyes see a new pattern that was always there. Just unclear.
I’m winging it, just like the rest of you.
The day is just beginning. I’ll wing it, too.