So I thought about 31 Days of Dad. (Knew the guy for more than 50 years.) Or 31 Days of Grief. (He died Aug. 17. The light at the end of the grief tunnel is afar off.) Or 31 Days of Arkansas. (Full of wonders.) Or 31 Days of Little Rock. (Arkansas in miniature.) Or a month of “Everyone’s a Geode.” (We are, you know. Once someone cracks us open.) Or 31 Days of Orange. (My favorite color, and it pops up more than you’d think, once you’re on its wavelength.)
But I am good at starting things and not finishing them. Grand ambitions fizzling. And there are many other things to do this month. But I want to do this. So … 31 days of today. Each day, something that I could not have written about ahead of time. Short enough to tweet.
Tuesday, Oct. 1. Best part of bunco: ringing the cowbell. Worst: rolling your first bunco and seeing someone snatch your dice.
Wednesday, Oct. 2. A sign she’s rejoining the living: she restarted home delivery of her newspaper.
Lucky, clueless cyclist whom I almost saw get hit (SUV, screeching brakes), that helmet and fluorescent jersey mean nothing if you’re going to ride the wrong way down one-way streets.
How does she do that? I’ll think, I’d like to talk to this friend soon, and moments later, there’s a text: Care to talk?
Thursday, Oct. 3. Today she actually removed the rubber band and opened the paper.
If my daughter were still small and still riding with me on school mornings, she would have seen that yellow dog laid near the road with the light blue blanket over it, and she might have commented that it was nice of someone to tuck in that sleeping dog, and I hope this time the “preserve her innocence” mom would have trumped the “tell the facts” journalist.
Eyes think they do most of the crying work, but belly down on the massage table today, I realized how involved the diaphragm is.
Friday, Oct 4. In making some things, such as sun tea, or a baby, or an essay, a key ingredient is the waiting.
Saturday, Oct. 5. Read. Wrote. Ate outside. Laundered. Folded. Shopped. Cooked. Cleaned up. Cuddled cat. Got drenched in cold rain. Liked it.
Sunday, Oct. 6. October was Mom’s favorite month. She’d be 75 today. It’s also the month I would visit Dad on his annual Branson fishing trip. Not this year.
Monday, Oct. 7. This shouldn’t be rare enough to be remarkable, but my neighbor came over and knocked and asked for something tonight. And it made me glad.
Tuesday, Oct. 8. The ears haven’t heard this reel in years, and the brain can’t remember its name, but the hands still know the notes.
Wednesday, Oct. 9. [Written after the fact] Tonight he encouraged me in my writing, and spoke his support for his wife’s. Three nights later he would have a fatal heart attack.
Thursday, Oct. 10. Seven and a half weeks ago, fuzz. Weak, easily tired, irradiated. Tonight, almost an inch of hair. She carries my bag to my room; up late laughing; radiant.
Friday, Oct. 11. On the Music Highway from Memphis to Nashville, everyone is passing the SWIFT truck.
Saturday, Oct. 12. There’s nothing like the look on a friend’s face when you show up before her reading from 380 miles away and she didn’t know you were coming.
Sunday, Oct. 13. Voices from three different time zones kept me company on the drive home.
Monday, Oct. 14. The dead wren on the sidewalk near the door when I arrived at work this morning was still there when I came out.
Tuesday, Oct. 15. The newsroom threw a Mexican feast to welcome home our two who were lost and found in the Texas desert.
Wednesday, Oct. 16. What is it about Panera that makes it such a comfortable place for writers and editors to work?
Thursday, Oct. 17. Of the three speakers at a good man’s funeral (two of them ministers), the most composed was his son.
Friday, Oct 18. I paid a rather large library fine and am pretending every penny of it will be spent on the kinds of books I would borrow.
Saturday, Oct. 19. Peeled and chopped and sauteed vegetables, simmered black bean soup half the day just for the good smells.
Sunday, Oct. 20. Hint for Heloise: If you did laundry late and you’re too tired to put the sheets back on the bed and you’ve been reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, play campout by sleeping in your sleeping bag and opening the window to let in the chill night air.
Monday, Oct. 21. It’s a holy thing for strangers who come together because of private griefs to open up and share them.
Tuesday, Oct. 22. I got two gifts from coworkers, and it was ice cream day, and the coworker who bakes and brings chocolate chip cookies when his wife is out of town — well, his wife is out of town.
Wednesday, Oct. 23. Oh, the blessed blankness where the headache used to be.
Friday, Oct. 25. I spent a speedy hour talking about writing and reading with advanced composition students at the university where I was an advanced composition student more than 30 years ago. I’d forgotten how much I love being among earnest young people.
Saturday, Oct. 26. “Hey,” she said, to get my head out of the Cryptoquote. Then she told me how she’s been using my book since she bought it at my kickoff signing in this same student center seven months ago.
Sunday, Oct. 27. According to this morning’s post-alarm dreaming, I am adept at riding a small motorcycle on rainy, hilly roads in Kansas.
Monday, Oct. 28. Last night, friends made a dinner date for tonight, and I looked forward to it all day.
Tuesday, Oct. 29. A friend transferred from an oncology floor to rehab for the second time in two months, and I do not understand why so much suffering is meted out to one person, nor why so often her faith lifts me and not the other way around.
Wednesday, Oct. 30. I like it when friends ask questions that make me clarify what I just said or expand on what I just said.
Thursday, Oct. 31. A fallen tree unpowered the traffic lights at a bunch of intersections downtown, and at 4:45 p.m. everyone was driving through them nicely and taking turns as if there were stop signs. Arkansas, y’all.
It makes me inordinately happy when the fallen willow leaves ride shoes all the way up to the third floor at work.
I treasure the stains and encrusted flour on certain pages of Mom’s copy of Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book.