Saturday, February 28, 2015

February 28: Pay the Bills, God's Love Number Eleven, Linda Nemec Foster, "A Sign From God," New Cartoon

[Ives] thought about the last time [his wife] had come home with one of her pep talks in mind, clutching a New York Times:  "Just look at this, Ed.  Look here," and she showed him a page.  A sleek jetliner was pictured flying over the skyline of London, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace prominent, the advertisement declaring:  "It's Never Been Easier.  Or Cheaper!"  And he looked it over and handed it back to her.

"Well, what about it?" he'd asked.

"Don't you think it would be nice for us to go?"

"Yes, yes..."

Then, slapping a book down on the table, a chronic weariness of mind and body hit him.

"Yes, we'll go.  I'll pay for it, and then you tell me who'll pay the bills a year from now if something should happen to me."

Ives is using money as an excuse here.  His wife is trying to force him out of the cave of his depression.  After almost thirty years, Ives has grown used to his constant state of mourning.  Happiness seems like a betrayal to him.  If he goes on a trip with Annie and enjoys himself, I think Ives feels as if he'd be desecrating the memory of his son, Robert.

I understand worrying about finances.  It's something I do on a daily basis.  Hourly, even.  When my daughter brought home the notes about dance competitions from her studio a couple weeks ago, I had a little panic attack.  Competition fees.  Hotel rooms.  Gasoline.  Food.  It's going to be an expensive couple of weekends.  Of course, we're going to go and enjoy ourselves.  And our bills will get paid (eventually).  But March through April will be peanut-butter-and-jelly months.

My daughter has been in dance since she was five years old.  She's been going to competitions and conventions for almost eight years.  Every year, God somehow provides us with enough funds to finance our dance trips.  Through unexpected gifts.  Through the love and help of one of my sisters.  Through paychecks that are (for some reason) larger than expected.  That's God's love number eleven.

Here's a great poem from Linda Nemec Foster to round out her time as Saint Marty's Poet of the Week.

A Sign from God

          ----for Jack Ridl

by:  Linda Nemec Foster

...a 20-pound carp about to be slaughtered...began speaking in Hebrew, shouting apocalyptic warnings...
---The New York Times, March 15, 2003

Now, anything is possible.
Next thing you'll tell me
your dead father speaks
to you through the distinct growl
of your dog, Stafford.  And there's
the clumber spaniel now at the back door
channeling not the famous poet
but Dad, the famous basketball coach:
barking out positions in the locker room,
howling pleasure (or disgust) from the sidelines.
You swear it's him--back from the dead--
but you look down from your morning coffee
and see only the family dog staring
at you with half-open eyes, salivating tongue,
wagging tail.  "Dad, Dad," you almost say
knowing in your head he's not there
panting away on the kitchen floor.  But
in your heart, you want him to be.

To be--like the miracle in New York--
thirty miles from Manhattan.  The talking carp
pleading for his life in a Kosher fish market
ready to be gunked on the head
and made into gefilte fish for Sabbath dinner.
Pleading for his life in Hebrew (what else?)
shouting:  "Tzaruch shemirah, hasof bah."
Translation:  "Get your act together and repent
because the end is near."

And it's not as if the fish is channeling
the troubled soul of a dead rabbi.  Or that 
the two fish-cutters at the New Square Fish Market
are holy men ready to hear the word of God:
one, a devout Gentile; the other,
a middle-aged Hasid with one wife and eleven kids.

It's only that you want to believe the dead
will live again.  In the open mouth 
of a 20-pound carp, in the soft breath
of your klutzy pooch.  The voice of your father
as quirky and ominous as the voice of God.
Telling you to plant the garden now--
now--before the clouds change colors.  Before
it's time for dinner in the evening,
the walk in the morning.  Now--
before you start to fade like rain
evaporating off patio furniture, like dusk
dissolving into night, abandoned attics,
empty garages.  Before you forget the small
movements a mouth makes as it forms
each word around the quiet air.

Confessions of Saint Marty

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