November 17th, 2003

caillebotte_man at his window


My refrigerator makes a soft gurgling noise, and it sounds like people are talking on the other side of the wall. But there are no people on the other side of the wall, so maybe I have ghosts, and they're talking about me! Just what I need.

For much of the night, the rain turned to a soft, cold mist of the sort that sneaks up on you. You stay out in it for a while, and suddenly feel water dripping down your neck and realize that your hair has become saturated. I did that thing. It called for more tea with which to warm up, and I drank it too late and now it's almost morning and I'm not sleepy at all. So it goes. I'm going to bed anyway. Otherwise, I'll start a project of some sort, and never get done. Better to lie awake doing nothing but listening to the cat purr.
caillebotte_man at his window


The local supermarket in my old neighborhood sold a large assortment of candles. I bought a number of votive candles, and some of those plain glass containers for them. (They also sold containers with various Catholic images on them.) I also bought a couple of those large candles in colored jars about eight inches high -- the kind Diane diPrima called "nonessential bohemian candles." One jar was red and the other blue.That night, I had them all lit and arranged around my room, and I made a concoction with cranberry juice, and we sat around in the flickering light until the late hours discussing movies and Whitman and Kerouac, and I poured a bit of peppermint extract into a mayonnaise jar lid and set it on fire to see what would happen. It filled the room with a peppermint scent, but the smell of candle wax remained stronger.

What this thought has reminded me of is that it has been years since I used candles for anything other than emergency light during power outages. I wonder what made me give up the decorative candles? I don't recall making any decision to do so. I simply quit using them. Of course, I have no idea why I began using them in the first place, other than to create that atmosphere of nonessential bohemianism. They were an affectation of the time, I suppose, and yet they always seemed to be conducive to conversation. They were not conducive to memory, though, as I've forgotten all the details of what was said. Again, I am left with visual and olfactory images, but the sound is no more than a tone, warm and soothing, but without content. Words are the things which have always escaped me, Now, I find myself using words to write down what was never speech, and unable to record what was spoken. I waited too long, and end up with this irony.

That was what happened on November 17th then.

This year, there was a bit of sunlight and some white clouds. Nobody spoke.