Recommended wine for today’s entry: Something with a name that rolls off the tongue, a beautiful name, thought evoking: Conundrum, I think, a puzzle — which will encourage you to question everything, take nothing at face value, lest you miss a deeper meaning. I don’t know what I just said, but Conundrum it is.
Words have an amazing power. I’m in the middle of Kim Edwards’ bestselling novel, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, and am entranced by her beautiful, flowing narrative, the descriptions evoking the very atmosphere of Norah’s existence. And so, as writers’ manuals encourage, I am going to practice my art, describing for you my morning as Ms. Edwards would, and see if I can portray the beauty of the day as well as she could.
The sun, divided into daggers of heat, slices through the slits in my Venetian blinds, pelting my eyelids and my already-warmed-to-boiling-peri-menopausal body. Throwing the covers back, sending two sleeping cats airborne, I arise and plod, heel-first so as to make the most noise possible, to the sink. If I can’t sleep, no one else should be able to either, I think, as I begin brushing my teeth. I watch myself as through an MTV camera, Real Life, I think — watch as the soft underbelly of my arm, whiter than the leathery top side, wiggles with the brushing motion — seeming to always be a half beat behind the hand. Like a pregnant lizard, I think, whose belly is not fully inflated quite yet.
I’ll skip the rest of the grooming. It’s even grossing me out.
After swallowing a fish oil pill, translucent like a bath-oil bead and sized for a small horse, watching it travel down my gullet like a pelican downing a sailfish, I rousethe sleeping dogs and lead them down the hall. We stop to gaze at the frog who lives by the fountain in the courtyard, basking his dirt-brown body on the warm rock. Then the dogs turn, leaving Nike swishes of dog snot on the lower panes.
In the kitchen, cats swarm. Three run to the dining room, two springing effortlessly to the tabletop, awaiting their feast. Then Blackie, poor Blackie, she of the crossed and ulcerated eyes, declawed in a desperate attempt to find her a home some twelve years ago now, jumps up — but she’s too close to Brownie, who pulls her black lips back in a growly hiss, then raises one arm like a slot machine, and proceeds to pop-pop-pop, rat-a-tat, quick, successive blows to Blackie’s unregistering face. Oh stop that, you mean kitty, I say and I give her less of the chunks of cat food that smell like my fish oil pill. That’ll teach you I say.
In the kitchen, only two cats are on the counter. Megan, I call. Where are you? You can’t throw up if you don’t eat. A sound, a crunch of crackers, comes to my ears but I can’t place it, can’t find its source. Crackers? Suddenly the pantry door opens from above my head and a bolt of beige and white hurtles through the air, sliding across the counter, flinging keys, pills, purses to the ground. Screw you, you idiot, I say as I bend and collect the clutter and return it to its proper place, restoring order to my day.
After the counter cats finish, I collect the bowls with bits of miniature half-shrimp stuck stubbornly to the sides and lay them in the sink, drip some water on them for cleaning later. As the cats thud to the ground, one by one, I watch as swirls of hair, multicolored in the slant of morning sunlight, settle lightly to the floor, the counter. I know that tomorrow, when I’m tossing the salad for the dinner party, a door will open suddenly, and surely the updraft will scoop the little clusters of hair up, up, higher until it reaches the salad bowl.
The party — I need to start getting ready for the party, I think. My mind travels in time to tomorrow night and I see bright floral prints, hear the ice clinking in the vodka, smell the vinegar in the salad. A guest, taking the salad tongs and scooping some ruby tomatoes, squishy avocadoes and ebony domestic shorthair onto her plate. Oh, you’re the lucky one, I’ll say, you got Chrissy’s clump. May I have more vodka, she’ll ask, her voice plaintive. Sure, I’ll say, pouring her a double…