Sunday, November 13, 2011

11/11/11: a diary project

62 people from all over the country, ranging in age from 9 to 80+, contributed to this collective diary that describes one particular day: November 11, 2011. 

Sometimes I call this kind of flowing list a text mosaic, or an assemblage, or a glimpse into group consciousness. One of the contributors referred to it as a zippy goulash. That's a good description, too! 

Whatever you call it, I hope you'll enjoy reading this account of a day, arranged simply in the order in which the entries were received.

THANK YOU to everyone who participated. All the contributors' names are listed at the end.

Sipping sweet coffee as the babies sleep in. I will go out soon and pick some oranges off the branch of my neighbor's tree, that hangs on my side of the fence. Got the last 9 posts pounded for my 5 wire high-tensile fence while the snow came down; women farmers are tough! I'm so glad to walk to work in daylight now. During lunch hour, I pass by a group of veterans gathered in Dewitt Park; is my dad there? Today would have been my mother's 93rd birthday. A few mallards swim along the shore, dipping their bills into the cold water, searching for an unsuspecting meal. Like our house, my body enters its November with more systems failing more often, costing time, pain and money. I stand perfectly still in the middle of the street so hundreds of dry yellow leaves can swirl around my feet and fly all the way up to land on top of my head. For no special reason I decided to count all of my books and the total number seems both high and low to me: 306, and each one is beloved. Realized, not for the first time, what a sappy sentimental fool I can be, but I don't mind. Walked a few blocks over, to stand in front of a stranger's porch and listen to my favorite wind chimes. Continued my ongoing quest to be more like Mary Poppins. The numbers 11 11 11 look like bars, or the continuous parallel lines that can only meet up in space. I hear all the lonely people. Eleven is one of several numbers that are referred to as “master numbers” in numerology, a bit of esoteric knowledge I learned through the hippie grapevine in my early teens. Arriving at a playground, bright sun & bright wind & bright November thoughts about a different kind of future. Joyful chaos, macaroni & cheese, girl scout songs, early bedtime, exhausted dogs at the end of the day. Wake, wash, crack the windows open, strip the beds, free the germs from my head. I read (by the fire — always the fire) poetry to the kids: Wordsworth, Dickinson, Frost, William Carlos Williams, Langston Hughes, and Poe. I re-wrote "The Raven," calling my version of the poem "The Chicken." Wrote a long funny morbid dream poem. Sat down at my spinning wheel to ply alpaca rovings into yarn; peddled my wheel until my mind stopped racing. Washed dishes and looked out my kitchen window to see red swiss chard, arugula and parsley in my garden bed, unfazed by November. My eyes roll across the words from left to right and the lines scroll down swiftly on the screen while I process text into meaning. I send up a prayer to the patron saint of parking meters, Saint Agnes, that I’ll find a spot on the street on Friday afternoon in downtown Ithaca. I mostly talk and my therapist listens. Read more of Eudora Welty’s "The Optimist’s Daughter" and am awed by the durability of good literature. Horse manure, covering our garden, smells fresh. Dreamed of missing appointments. Bought a pair of pink and turquoise sneakers. Called up my son who is an Iraq War veteran. Wrote a haiku about bare sycamores in the November sun. When I came back from my Hard of Hearing Support Group, the moon was rising. Began the day by calling my favorite veteran, my 91-year-old father, to thank him for his service to our country during WW II. Ended the day sipping Bad Ass Organics Berry Kombucha while knitting place mat number 13 of the 15 I'm hoping to have completed by Thanksgiving Day. At 1 a.m. I cannot tear myself away from my new picture puzzle and wonder if I am addicted. The power went off in the basement and we smelled a strong acrid odor. The seafood cake at Moosewood tasted extra delicious because I was so hungry. Ran into Zee in front of the State Theater and she asked how my 11/11/11 day was going; I screamed and pointed at the storefront next to us: "OH MY GOD LOOK AT THE ADDRESS!" — it was 111. My first and last thought every day, including today: Where will I begin my new life? Why do I always put too much jelly on my PB&J sandwich? The older I get, the more I love bathing; feeling warm water on my skin is one of life's little luxuries. Watched a "Star Trek" episode from the original series, which I've loved since I was a kid, when I wanted to be a Vulcan; specifically, I wanted to be Spock. Breakfast was oatmeal with 11 raisins, 11 slices of banana and 11 blueberries, at 11 a.m. I stuffed a pumpkin (bread, gruyere, garlic, and cream), put the top back on, baked it for two hours, and carried it to the potluck lunch. Installed a new doorbell that plays either the "Hallelujah Chorus," "Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here," or "Auld Lang Syne," each time someone presses the giant red button. Had successful laser eye surgery. Watched the clock, will I miss it, oh there it goes, it will never come again: that particular moment on this particular morning. Sun streaks burned white hot against a crystalline sky of blue, grazed by a buffalo herd of fast-moving clouds. Rendered fruitless and naked by my own two hands, spindly apple trees now surrendered their leaves to a stiff north wind. In the barn, I traded my slip-ons for work boots, gathered my rake and greeted the crew. My mind — to speak of it seems almost perverse — was sour with rotten apples. While sipping hard cider and imbibing wine pressed from grapes grown from our vines, we celebrated our harvest and our veterans. I miss my sister. Finished sewing the backing for a quilt, for a school project. Read about the Corduroy Appreciation Club; 11/11/11 is one of their  most sacred days. Looked up the meaning behind the nursery rhyme "Baa Baa Black Sheep," and discovered it is "a child's guide to taxation." Getting ready for tonight's swim meet, my suit is falling apart at the seams and my back-up one is see-through. Woke up and promptly had a bad hair day. Fed the neighbor's chickens and found feathers, iridescent and mottled in black and white. I remembered something that I'd forgotten to do. I procrastinated. I saw birches that had been bent and twisted by a snowstorm, their white branches spindly like so many bare bones. The realtor called to say people are coming tomorrow to take a second look at the house we rent; this is not good news. Today I struggled. Reminded myself: when the path I’m on seems overwhelming, there are always options. Brought out the arsenal of cleaning supplies and scrubbed the bathroom to within an inch of its life. Sat on my living room floor sipping peppermint tea and chatting with a friend as she sewed the arm back on a favorite old sweater. My twin nieces, daughters of my own twin sister, celebrated their 2nd birthdays today. Stopped at the grocery store for ice cream and a few other things, but forgot the ice cream. My children played with a friend's pet squirrel, vehemently defending it as gentle even after it scratched both of their faces. Packed a red pepper in my purse for a snack to eat on the bus. Yelled into a piece of art that is meant to just be looked at. Decided to one day live in a large, industrial building. Comforter smells like laundry soap; the smell of comfort. Forgot to make a wish at 11:11 on 11-11-11, but I figure the whole day must have been lucky. Productivity was beyond my reach. The only thing I have now is clean laundry. The day was less about others and more about myself. I'm knitting a blanket. I drew circles on a canvas in cadmium yellow light and filled them in while listening to Leonard Cohen singing, “So Long, Marianne.” I got so sleepy I just had to lie down and close my eyes for a little while. I coughed on and off all day, a cough I can’t seem to get rid of. I wrote about this day in my journal so that I’ll be able to go back and find out what happened to my life. Woke to the realization that pregnancy has completely wiped out the part of my brain that knows about the appropriate use of commas. Heavy lunch: cheese, bread, potatoes, family. Ate last night’s stir-fry leftovers for breakfast. Toilet plugged up; is this going to be a cursed day? I got stoned and realized I should have done it much earlier. Enjoyed an episode of the BBC series, "Cranford," where one of the characters writes in her diary each morning about what she thinks will happen, and then writes again at night about what actually did happen. Observed a large flock of crows that landed in my yard, then discussed their habits with friends who were visiting. Woke from a dream in which I was like Odysseus. Last minute packing: "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle," an umbrella, and a green bag full of goodies — yogurt lassi, apples, hummus, rice cakes and dark chocolate. Through the moonlight, the gnome statue welcomes me to the Bed & Breakfast where I'll be staying tonight. Took my not-quite-dry jeans off the line because it started to snow. Picked up seven books at the library. Juncos, chickadees, and titmice go wild when I fill the bird feeder. I check over and over again for the mail, until I remember there is no delivery because of Veterans Day. I climbed a tree and watched the village kids play. I decided not to cut my hair. I had this thought: Our Planet is Gold and We are Stars. First decision of the day: should I use spicy mustard or yellow mustard on the sandwich? In this crisp air, I wear my friend’s vest, my friend who has moved away. V’s of geese veer low over the inlet, flashing black, white, black, white. On this "11" day the classical DJ plays Saint-Saens’ "Carnival of the Animals," because it requires a hendectet, an 11 piece ensemble. Finished reading "The Little Book," by Selden Edwards, about a time traveler to 1897 Vienna who falls in love with his 20-year-old grandmother, and hoped this would never happen to me. Topped off the day with a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and drank a lot of water to make myself feel healthy afterward. As I walked to work I realized I had put on a lot of pink, for some reason: pink underwear, mauve turtleneck, raspberry fleece vest, bright magenta shoes, and, as I was contemplating the essence of pinkness, a very tall woman in a very short skirt walked toward me wearing hot pink stockings! Trying to look cool in my dad's Buick. Remembered that I want to be a writer and said it out loud. Called contra dances to the sweet, driving music of mandolin, fiddle, and guitar. Carefully reviewed the latest catalog from L.L. Bean and thought about buying a pair of cross country skis, as I imagined myself moving gracefully and smoothly through winter snow. Watched one episode of "The Dick Van Dyke Show," allowing me to retreat to a less stressful (but totally imaginary) time in my life, and fell asleep knowing that I laughed at least once today. Ate breakfast with my sister at a French cafe on 1st Avenue, then paid $55 to get my car out of a parking garage on 23rd Street. Meditated with a group of friends, in an attempt to communicate with people on the other side. Wrote eleven rhyming couplets, all on the theme of oranges. Two dozen gourds in a basket greeted me on my friend's porch: gifts from her compost pile. Much drama when I thought my cats were lost, but they weren't; spent the rest of the day squeezing and hugging and loving them. Even in my red sweater I was cold all day, indoors and outdoors. I worked on my novel but my mind kept flying off to Occupy Oakland, where my son is deeply involved. Listened to a program on the BBC in the wee hours of the morning: an interview with a numerologist. How can there be Christmas lights up already? Wanted to get to bed early, but was having too much fun. Just wondering: how have we humans been influenced by pandas, turtles, deer and other animals? I went ice skating and only fell once. Practiced "March of the Belgian Paratroopers" on my tuba while my sister played "Dory's Waltz" on her violin. Cuddled with my cat, Mischief Marvel Miracle Max Mezuzah. Watched willow branches swirl like seaweed in a cold wind, beneath an alternately gray and sunny sky. Received a belated happy-birthday phone call from a lifelong friend in New Mexico. Played Scrabble with my mom; my words included bream, cornea, facile, jasper, salvo, and vixen. Woke up in Tokyo, went to bed and to sleep in Oak Park, Illinois, adding 15 hours to make a 39-hour day. Goodnight you perfectly symmetrical day. 

Ann Wexler, Anne Killian-Russo, Antonia Matthew, Ava Mailloux, Barbara L. Heller, Barbara West, Bill Holcombe, Bridie Alano, Cady Fontana, Carol Miller, Cassandra Shortle, Chris Bankert-Wray, Christine Garrett Lyng, Cindy Golos, Dylan Matthew Pakkala, Elizabeth Sharp, Ellie Detert, Erica Hostetler, Greta Singer, Gwen Glazer, Jack Alano, Jacqueline Treml Gottlieb, Janet Steiner, Jennifer Jones, Jill D. Swenson, Joan Victoria, Judy Kugelmass, Julie Clougherty, June Wolfman, Kathleen Galland-Bennett, Kylie Spooner, Laura Gates-Lupton, Laura LaRosa, Laurel Detert, Laurie Petersen, Lisa Todzia, Lourdes Brache, Lynne Taetzsch, Maggie Goldsmith, Marty Blue Waters, Mary Peck, Miriam Frischer, Misha Foote, Noemi Kraut, Pamela Goddard, Patty Flannery, Peggy Adams, Peggy Conolly, Phoebe Lakin, Rachel J. Siegel, Ray Petersen Sally Kamerling Sally McConnell-Ginet, Sasha Paris, Sharon K. Yntema, Sheila Dean, Sue Heavenrich, Summer Killian, Susan Dixon, Susan Luther Koon, Tiger Ramanujan, Zee Zahava.