Comes tomorrow we’re tomato soup

My favorite so far is the window.

“Stick shifts and safety belts
bucket seats have all got to go”
Too literal?

“If you respect me at all
please don’t call” Too pathetic?

I’m choosing a lyric for my weekly submission in Christina’s photography contest.

“You’ll never be what you’ll never be
But you can always be the one for me baby”

Maybe? On the page it looks cute and romantic, but the first time I heard it I had to stop my car, I was crying so hard. My uncle George had just died, and I could feel the family falling apart. Polite disagreements over who got which rosary and who deserved keys to his apartment and what it meant that this cousin came to town while that one only called.

A cell phone held to Uncle George’s ear as he lay dying, yes William Faulkner I’m sorry I didn’t pay better attention in American Lit, unconscious in the ICU bed. It’s awkward being the one holding the phone to his ear. My brother is saying his goodbye from Colorado. I’m not sure when to pull the phone away. Uncle George doesn’t respond, can’t respond. He lies still with his eyes closed, his normally lean and leathery face looking puffy and unfamiliar. After a few minutes I hold the phone up to my ear. “…softball games, and that time you came to visit with my dad, man Uncle George, every time I go to that ridge we hiked to…” I put the phone back to his ear.

“This is the way that life is supposed to be
And there’s a reason that you just can’t see
You’ll never be what you’ll never be,” but there never was the one for Uncle George. He was single all his life. My mom thought he might have gone on a date once.

“I went off in the cruel world
Like a gun in a crowded room.” Did I send that one last week? It’s hard to keep track.

I’ve been meaning to talk to Christina about that. I want a dumbed down version of the rules posted right on her page. I know you can send one lyric a week, but when does each week start and end? I know she takes pictures inspired by the lyrics. But either she decides, or visitors to the page vote…Somehow a winning photograph is chosen each month. And the submitter of the winning photo’s lyric gets a print. I want everyone to enter, because I love seeing the photos she’s come up with so far.

And I love the nostalgia factor, the callback to days when songs were front and center in my identity, when I posted lyrics on my dorm room door, to make a point. “You may ask yourself well, how did I get here?”

Another thing I like about running is the excuse to listen to music. Old random mixes on an iPod I’ve got hooked up to a speaker next to the treadmill. I haven’t synched it to iTunes since about 2009, so usually I just pick one of the on-the-go playlists I made years ago and just run to that. Yesterday it was a scramble of Cake and David Wilcox and Blossom Dearie that must have made sense at the time. In retrospect it’s too bad there wasn’t something from Etta James. She’d have done a great “Napoleon.”

Most aren’t fast enough to be workout songs, but also I like to sing as I run. I figure if I can sing, then I’ll be able to chat with a running partner when I start running outside. But also, singing makes my heart feel good. It makes me happy.

As I was running and singing along to “Jesus wrote a blank check” I thought about how singers, good singers, seem to give equal treatment to both intricately constructed lyrics and those that seem like just the easiest next rhyme.

“I don’t want to be number four
But I can hear a knock at the door.” Does number four mean something? Is number four the only one who hears the knock?I don’t want to be number four either. Or is it a joke? Great songs travel with the lyric as if it’s the only truth, the only world.

My mom used to worry about Uncle George driving home from the suburbs to his apartment in the city. “Wait ‘til rush hour’s over, George,” she would say when he came to visit.

“No Phyl, I’ll be fine.”

“But they’re crazy this time of day. They drive so fast.”

“That’s okay. I put my tapes in and turn up the sound. They can honk or pass me, I don’t care.”

My mom would fume after he left. “He’s the only one going 30 on the Eisenhower. Someone’s gonna rear-end him and then he’ll care.” But he always made it home okay. I like to think of him cruising down 290, singing along to whatever he listened to, probably Perry Como or Bing Crosby. I’m glad I was never behind him on the road, because I would have been swearing my head off. But in his world, singing along, he was content.

“Napoleon’s a pastry
Get this under your brow
What once used be a rooster
Is just a duster now”

Deep Pace Mine

Let’s not waste this fine Spring day.

Django is waiting. I know I know. But I had to go for a run with Syd first. Yep, I’m a runner. Kind of. Syd went on her real run early in the morning, and then when she finished she ran here so we could go for a lap around the park. I was almost ready when she got here. I’d gotten up quietly when my alarm went off, hoping that the dog, like Dave, would keep sleeping.

In the bathroom I changed into the clothes I’d set there the night before – leggings and two tee shirts and a warm-up jacket. Then I tiptoed into my office and did some yoga to un-creak a little, but I couldn’t stop thinking about what if Syd came early and tried to come in the back door, which I’d said I’d leave open? I didn’t want the doorbell to wake up the dog, who would immediately want to be fed and walked. Dave, I wasn’t as worried about. He’s been staying up way too late watching Deep Space Nine, so too bad.

I decided to do yoga downstairs instead. I went down and unlocked the door, but Django must have heard me turn off the alarm, because when I headed in to the living room she trotted in, wagging her tail. Okay, yoga in a minute. I let her out, fed her, and leashed her up for a quick walk around the block.

But just outside we ran into another lady and her dog. Pino? Pina? He too didn’t like being held back on his leash so he barked at Django, who was quiet and docile until he leaned in to sniff her mouth. Then she let him have it. “Sorry, sorry,” I pulled Django away.
“No, it’s okay, he does the same thing.” Pino or Pina looked up at me pitifully. I squatted down to pet him. Django sniffed the parkway, her work done. The lady and I talked about how cute our respective dogs were, and what breeds they might be, and how unpredictable they can be on leash. Luckily Dave wasn’t there to add, as he always does, “She’s unpredictable off leash, too.” He’s been staying up way too late watching Deep Space Nine, so whatever.

Django eventually came over to be patted by the lady and to be sniffed, more politely, by Pino or Pina. Then we continued on our walk. Soon as we got home, Syd arrived. So much for yoga. We went for our run and I felt just like those people I see running at the park. Really cool. I was wearing proper running clothes and I had a running partner and we were even talking like other runners do, in short casual bursts. At first I tried to smile at the dog walkers, because I always feel like runners are looking at me angrily for having my dog at the park. But I realized today that they’re probably just concentrating. After my first smile or two I didn’t have time to worry about those losers. I had to focus on keeping pace with Syd. She kept asking, “Want to slow down?”

“No, I don’t want to slow down now because I want to reserve the right to walk later.”

“We can take whatever pace feels right. It’s up to you.”

“Uh-huh.” She didn’t realize that if I started walking it would mean that we’d stopped running, so it wouldn’t count as running so I wouldn’t feel like a runner so I wouldn’t feel cooler than shit. When we got home, Django was sitting in the window, staring at us like she couldn’t believe we’d go to the park without her. “I guess Dave didn’t walk you,” I said when I got inside. He was still sleeping because he’s been staying up way too late watching Deep Space Nine, so I had to go upstairs and say it louder.

Now I’ve had my shower and some breakfast, and we’re heading back to the park for a dog lap. Dave is joining us. He should probably stay home and work, but I notice that if I just ask how Deep Space Nine is going, he will pretty much do anything I ask.