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January 2, 2007 
--The famous person of the day is Jim Bakker. Michael asks: Does anyone remember Jim and Tammy Fay Bakker from the 80s? The supervisor's mother used to send them money. They stole it. Do you think people of the cloth should be held to a higher standard? The supervisor says they're just flesh and blood, like her. That's right, says the woman whose sweatshirt has grandchildren names on it. (When I make 'em, I make `em, she says, lifting her breasts with her hands. I guess I shouldn't say that.) Yesterday she was Woman 1. Woman 2 ignores her today. 
--Michael is from West Virginia. He is large and wears black pants every day, a brown jacket. His beard is thin, as is his hair. He says he has no idea what time it is, or if it's morning or afternoon. 
--Why are we talking about this? Yes! They should all just forget about it and pray to the Lord. That's what I do. I don't want to talk about this. Listen to the context of the entire conversation, Emma tells her. 
--Michael's wife arrives; she does not have cancer. They leave. Lina takes over. She says something about Catholic priests. We do not want to talk about this. Not all Christians
--They decide to sing instead. God bless America, land that I love, stand beside her and guide her... 
--Let's write a poem: 
The Christmas tree is a song.
Roses are red. 
--Is this what you expected? the grandmother asks. This was not what she expected. Another asks what I think of the “clientele.” 
--The woman who wears silk dresses moans. She sits in the back and cries. You mean you can't tell me that, Christine, but you went to Juilliard! Next door she cries again, sings Barney's song: "You love me, I love you, we're.” 
--The woman in the festive red sweater asks if I'm a professor. I am a professor, she says, her pale eyes wide. Health administration. Pitt, San Bernardino--that's in San Bernardino. Get your mother some cough drops; she has a cold. 
--The woman who wore no shoes is wearing them, black canvas shoes with white rubber on the bottom. She does not sit still. She places her hands on my shoulders, leans over, whispers “you're red hot.” The angry woman next to me says “stay away from me, I'm not like that!” when the woman with the canvas shoes approaches her. She walks in and out, sits and gets up. She speaks but her subject is not ours. 
--The woman who looks most European enters in a striped top; she could be sailing. She sits next to my mother, pushes her chair forward, then back. Lina tells her to stop. STOP. She pushes back until the chair is lodged against another. She keeps pushing. I pull a chair up beside my mother and sit. My mother smiles. 
--One of the two black residents was a gym teacher. I'd just pull out my whistle now and tell them all to stop! She carries a kleenex box wherever she goes. 
--The memory boxes hold faces that smile out at you. Mental archeology gets you closer, and sometimes the name gets you there, where they were before they forgot and their skin forgot and we who did not know them then cannot know them now. She is an angel, your mother. She always smiles at me. Memory boxes hold families close in some time before this one. Loved ones hold each other, cradle babies. One photo is from 1958, it says so. That was the woman who squeezes my shoulders. That was the inappropriate man who gives the women flowers, talks about their lust. That was the woman who hates her name, with a family that must have had one. That was the man in overalls (in Navy whites) who puts his head down at lunch, even when he eats. That was Dr. French, who cannot stay awake. Name me one song from the musical Oklahoma. They all begin to sing. 
posted by Susan at 7:58 PM 0 comments   
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
January 1, 2007 
--The woman who is not wearing shoes comes up behind me and places her hands on my shoulders. She squeezes them. I turn and ask her name. She does not know. 
--The heavyset man with a Virginia teeshirt comes to feed his wife lunch each day. She hasn't been able to say how she feels for six years. But she's a sweetheart. She's very sweet. Pulls out a pocket comb and pulls it through her short white hair. 
--Woman 1: Tell him you want him to sit on your lap. Tell him you don't want him to sit on your lap. OUCH! What did you just do? Woman 2: I just pinched you. You stuck it out there for me. She reaches out, pinches the first woman's breast again. 
--Do you have grandchildren? I ask the woman with the “I love grandchildren” sweatshirt. I use them up! I ask how many grandchildren she has. All is not right up here, she answers, pointing to her head. 
--I can laugh at everything, says Woman 1. That's the problem. 
--Woman 2 points to her head and nods toward Woman 1. 
--The woman who hates her own name stumbles when she gets past the railing. I'm holding my mother's hand. I ask if she too would like a hand. I don't need any help! she says. I don't know how I talked to her, she tells my mother, but I get angry at people who want to help me. Don't be that way, my mother says. 
--My mother's skin is too small for her, is brown, its ridge lines steep. There are white spots on the brown. Her ankles are a rough white. Her hair is pulled up, curled at the top. Her shoulders stoop, but she skitters ahead of me until I speed up. She is very special, says Woman 1, and you're just like her. 
--The woman who hates her own name tries to carve her napkin with a knife. Each reads “Country Lane.” It's so she'll know which is hers. The woman who gives her lunch says she'll help. She takes the napkin, begins to carve until fade out. 
--The woman with the loud sweater comes after me, says, she has a cold (meaning my mother, who coughs). I spent a thousand dollars trying to get over my cold. The only thing that worked was cough drops. Get your mother cough drops. 
--The woman who collects dolls (one hangs around her neck) says her husband was in Hawai`i during the war. She wonders if I was there during the war, though she knows something is wrong with her question. Not that war. The woman who hates her name has taken her napkin, too. 
--X is in his early 20s. X attended Bible School, earned his MA in psychology. X tosses a yellow ball back and forth with everyone in a green chair. Dr. French, you need to wake up! X reads out loud from the newspaper. 3000 killed in Iraq. A faint gasp. The man who is most competent opines we must get out of Iraq, there's no other way. Doesn't like Clinton, though. Monica Lewinsky (we'll tell you about that later). X says Gerald Ford is lying in state. He died? X asks how you'd cook a turkey. He asks what goals they have. How many Afghans will you sew? Finish one, start another. 
posted by Susan at 6:49 AM 0 comments 



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susan m. schultz