Karen Rivers

and so this is christmas.

Karen Rivers

Time speeds up.  (This isn't one of those sentences that ends with "...when such and such happens".  Just in general, it speeds up.)  

One minute, there you are in summer, sitting on a rock that's been heated by the sun, a sandwich in one hand and a book in the other.  Just sitting.  A bird skims low over the bay and your son throws sand in your daughter's hair.  The dog barks.  Some whales go by.  The air smells like sunscreen and the particular wet sand of the lowest tide.  And -- just for a beat -- time stands still.  

And now there is a tree in the living room and a pile of gifts underneath, laundry in the dryer and in the washing machine, the dishwasher leaking a long slow puddle onto the living room floor, deadlines looming all around (missed and pending), and a party you forgot to attend that you've only just now, typing this sentence, remembered that you forgot and sometimes when you are running from one place to the next (or driving, more accurately) you realize you have no idea where you are going or what you're meant to do when you get there and is it Tuesday or Friday and did you just think about depositing that cheque or did you actually do it and wasn't there one other gift that you meant to pick up on your way in to work?  

Time is just so slippery, a slick fish that refuses to stay in the grip of your hand, preferring to flop around in ferocious helplessness on the floor, trying improbably to breathe down there amongst the doghair and the fireplace dust. 

(No, I don't know what that means either.  It's just how it looks in my mind:  Piscine and silver.  Alive and desperate.)

(Piscine is a word that should be used more often.) 

The thing is that I'm pretty tired.  Being tired makes time move even more quickly, the koyaanisqatsi-ing of everything.  If you don't know what that means, you are probably younger than me.  I hope you are enjoying time as it is where you are in your life, moving at its regular pace.

The Birdy accidentally told me what The Bun bought me for Christmas at the school sale.  As soon as the words left her mouth, I could see them travelling across the room to where The Bun was finishing his carrots.  The words were in a balloon.  They hovered for a few minutes before the balloon popped and the words appeared, one by one, in front of him.  Unignorable.    

Did you just tell her my present?  he asked, incredulously.  He wasn't even mad yet.   

The Birdy burst into tears.  Her whole body instantly began heaving and hiccuping, a tsunami of regret.  I didn't mean to!  It was an accident!  Now he hates me!  He'll never let me in his room again!  I'll never see the xbox!  He'll never forgive me!  He wants me to die!

I do hate you, he agreed.  

She wrapped around me like a monkey, crying so hard her breath wouldn't come.  For some reason, I thought of how the monkeys in those experiments in the seventies clung to the wire-frame "mothers" that the scientists gave them, desperate for reassurance.  

But, she said.  But I didn't MEAN TO.

Stop talking, I told her.  Just breathe.  

But, she said, he HATES me.  I hate myself.  I AM GOING TO PUNCH MYSELF IN THE HEAD.

Good, said The Bun from the other room.

She cried harder.

Quiet, I said.  Let's just all be quiet.

I rubbed small circles on her back with my palm until her breathing became regular.  The Bun ate his ice cream angrily in the other room and tipped his chair.

"Don't tip your chair," I said.

After a long time, he came back into the room and farted somewhere in the vicinity of The Birdy's face.   

Think of it as a Peace Fart.  

They laughed.

That's what love looks like when you are 8.

Later, of course, The Bun couldn't sleep.  He was worried that he'd forgotten something somewhere sometime, maybe last summer.   But he didn't know what.  

I know what he means.  I feel like that, too.  

His problem, of course, was compounded by the fact that he could feel his legs growing and it felt weird, plus he didn't know how many minutes there were in thirteen days and was I aware that if I lived for two centuries I might get the cover of Guiness Book of World Records one day?

If I lived for two centuries, I said, tiredly, I would be very tired.

But you'd be famous, he said.  You'd probably get a hundred dollars.

Maybe, I said.  I'll try.  For the hundred dollars.

Good, he said.

I rubbed small circles on his back until he fell asleep.

It occurs to me that there are very few problems that are not improved by having someone rub small circles on your back.  

I'm really just here to flex my blogging muscle.  My facebook feed has been filling up again with a bunch of rhetoric about how blogging is dead/long live the blog, and I think, where did everyone go?  The people who write just because they can?  The people who write when they are tired, to try to figure out what they mean by the thing about the fish?   Did they just stop one day, collectively sighing and saying, "I quit"?  Or did they all just become mouthpieces for The Gap, getting coupons in exchange for excitedly talking up the latest striped boatneck tees? 

Then I remembered that I hadn't posted since September either.

But I'm not dead. I'm still here.  I just sometimes have so much to do that I end up doing nothing at all.

Anyway, Merry Christmas to you all.   May the day be filled with love and peace.  Or, barring that, at least someone to rub small circles on your back.  

And don't forget to blog.  Sometimes it doesn't matter what you say, it just helps if you say it.