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ralph robert moore


the official website for the writings of
ralph robert moore

Copyright © 2018 by Ralph Robert Moore.

Return to lately 2018.

for now these many years
january 1, 2018

New Year's resolutions for 2018:

When I am sitting in front of my desktop at four in the morning, world outside the windows still black, sipping ice water, puffing on a cigarette, watching an episode of Mad Men with the sound dialed down so I don't wake up Mary downstairs, I will with greater frequency turn in my swivel chair to pet Sweet Pea, who is patiently waiting for me to once again remember she is behind me, and wants to be petted.

I will continue trying to remember, when my right hand slides around the doorway of the utility room off our kitchen, load of laundry needing to be washed in my left hand, dark sock from that load falling to the kitchen's wood-planked floor, that the switch on the wall nearest me is for the overhead light, and the switch next to that is for the fan, rather than vice-versa, given that we've been in our home for over a quarter of a century now, and constantly get it backwards, but still having hope that one day, eventually, I'll get it right on the first try.

Each time Mary and I go to Sprouts for groceries, pushing our cart leftwards through the glass entrance towards the bakery, I will continue to spend at least a few seconds, once we've picked up the fresh breads we want, scanning the different jarred items on display on the refrigerated shelves along one side of the deli, to see if they might be selling Taramosalata again. It's been over a year since the last time they sold it, the last time that smooth, briny delicacy has slid across my tongue, but my fingers are still crossed that one day soon (or later) Sprouts will come to their senses and start stocking it again.

I will only add one space, rather than two spaces, after a period. I will only add one space, rather than two spaces, after a period. I will only add one space, rather than two spaces, after a period.

I will more generously salt a pot of boiling water before adding whatever ingredient I wish to cook. Apparently once, years and decades ago, I must have over-salted a food, and as a consequence under-salted ever since. I will understand that learning from our past mistakes can be beneficial, but can also be simply making a new mistake we haven't yet learned from.

In most cases, I will remain diligent about not ending sentences with prepositions.

I will finally hire an electrician to come out to fix or replace or strap to a table and torture the large, faulty overhead light in our kitchen, so that I do not have to feel my way each dark morning along the major appliances in our kitchen to reach the coffee maker, the rectangular shadows surrounding me possibly harboring several serial killers and one and a half burglars.

When one of our cats sidles up to me and starts licking my knuckles, rough tongue rasping across the same stretch of skin over and over again, I will try really hard not to imagine this must be what it feels like when a vampire feeds from you.

When I wake up at one o'clock in the morning, turn my back to the digital display on my bedside clock and try to fall back under, but can't, and roll back facing the clock thirty discouraging minutes later, and discover that it is now, in fact, three forty-five, I will accept that I did in fact fall back asleep without realizing it, and understand that sometimes we succeed in getting what we want, even when we don't realize we have succeeded.

Each Wednesday I will continue to carry upstairs a 30-gallon black garbage bag, slack as a flag pulled off its pole, bringing it to the back bedroom, loading the bag with the extraordinary piles of discarded electronics we've thrown in that otherwise unused room, CPU's, keyboards, mice, wide nests of entwined cables, printers, scanners, monitors, modems, slowly emptying the room of all that outmoded junk so we can actually use the space again for what we currently care about, but won't ten years from now.

When in a supermarket, I will get better at finding the open edge of those flat plastic bags you roll off a reel in the fresh produce department, and I will improve my skills at actually peeling the fucking opening apart, so I can finally slide a blue rubber-banded bundle of fresh asparagus inside said bag.

I will endeavor to make all our doctor and dentist appointments for ten o'clock in the morning, so afterwards we can swing by the drive-thru of a fast food restaurant, and pick up some tasty treats to eat back home, in bed, while we watch Hot Bench.

I will interview arborists and select one to substantially trim all the trees around our home, front yard and back yard, so their branches no longer extend to the roof of our home, allowing mice, squirrels, racoons, and God knows what else with four paws to scamper up, up, across onto our roof, fangs chewing through the white soffits so they can crawl into our attics where they take up a scrabbling residence; and I will accept that nothing can stop mice from getting onto a roof and chewing their way into the afore-mentioned attics.

Dealing with other people, I will remind myself that the individuals I encounter have their own lives, that any interaction I have with them is essentially a distraction from their inner monologues, and as a consequence if a cashier barely acknowledges my presence during our transaction, or a Customer Care Representative is less than helpful when I finally get to speak to a human after waiting with a phone pressed to my right ear listening to ten minutes of anonymous fake jazz, or a fellow driver honks at me and flips me off, or a fast food clerk gets my order wrong, I will try to be as polite as True Blood's Vampire Bill (Vampire Bill when he's exercising his gracious Southern charm, not Vampire Bill when he's yanking a head backwards to plunge his fangs into a throbbing neck). The one exemption to this pledge of good behavior will of course, as always, be telemarketers.

When preparing to write a new story, I will remember that one of creativity's greatest gifts is patience, and that just like the time you spend on your haunches, rapidly curling the upturned fingers of your right hand over and over to coax a new orange cat in your yard to approach you closely enough to be able to lift those same fingers above his or her watchful eyes that so want to be loved and appreciated, and give the first scratches of a petting to the top of its head, the inward-curving sides of its jaws, your knuckles brushing against its stiff whiskers, there is a reward to letting the story and its characters, scenes, quiet sentences and jut of its plot twists pad gingerly towards your curled-down fingers poised above your keyboard.

When Mary and I are sitting side by side at our wide black table in our breakfast nook, seats looking out over our backyard garden, birds and squirrels and breeze, I will be more careful when it comes to positioning the tiny hole of the blood stick against the side of her upper middle finger on her right hand, pressing down to have a sterile needle punch through the skin, my thumb and right index finger pushing against the whorls of her fingerprint to cause a red bead of blood to bloom out which I can then maneuver against the side of the test strip inserted into the bottom of the INR reader, to record her current coumadin reading.

I will quietly accept that the Internet, in addition to providing us with such a wealth of information and connectivity, has also been an absolute boon for passive-aggressive personalities, and on social media will simply scroll down past said personalities' latest announcements of the individuals they are about to block/unfriend.

If I EVER take laxative pills again, I will FIRST carefully read the directions to see what the recommended dosage is, and then BEFORE I take that dosage, I will read how many hours it will take before the laxative will kick in, AND I will calculate where I will be at that appointed hour, and ESPECIALLY if I will be somewhere private or SOMEWHERE FUCKING PUBLIC, SURROUNDED BY PEOPLE.

I have lived a long life. My hair was black and thick; now it's gray and thin. I experienced America prospering after World War II, backyard barbeques in the green-hedged quiet dusk of Fifties evenings where the host, fingers wet with poison sprayed on rose bushes, grabbed up a half-dozen raw steaks that had as much fat as beef and slapped them down on the sizzling charcoal grill as the evening's stars started emerging, so much easier to see back then before light pollution; stared at and listened as a kid to bearded beatniks on TV, reading their words with a flashlight in my bed on school nights; gotten excited by the British Invasion, which belonged to us, not our parents; watched TV as our President, his brother, and Dr. Martin Luther King were gunned down; protested against the war in Vietnam, marching in New York City, soliciting signatures in Bridgeport; worked in Manhattan at the age of 17, wandering through the greatest city in the world as a half-child, half-man; watched an astronaut set his boot down on the surface of the moon; went through the sexual revolution and the drug generation; threw everything away in my early twenties and drove across our country to relocate in California; threw all that away to relocate in Maine; threw all that away to relocate in Texas, where I am typing. Across all those decades I have on occasion, like you, suffered intense physical pain, heartbreak, humiliation, confusion, fear, joy, love, companionship and a growing confidence. I was showered with the greatest gift of all: The gift of love. Mary and I have shared our lives for 38 years. January 19th will be our 36th year of being husband and wife, with all that entails. One of the most beautiful depictions of long-time love occurs in the third season of the HBO series, Six Feet Under, in the episode, "Nobody Sleeps". The speaker is Kevin, whose long-time companion, Bob, has died. Kevin stands in front of the couple's friends at Bob's funeral, and here's what he says: "I never thought that I'd be in a relationship at all. I thought I didn't have what it takes, that no one could possibly love me enough to stick around. But Bob did. He stuck around. And so did I. And for 22 years, we shared our hearts, our bodies, our souls. It wasn't always easy. It wasn't always fun. But it was always worth it. I don't know what I did in a previous life, but to quote Julie Andrews as Maria Von Trapp, 'it must have been something good', because I've been rewarded a thousand fold in this life." In 2018, my resolution is again, as always, to be so grateful for the great gift I've been given, for Mary and me, in this confounding, chaotic, confusing, colorful world, to have found each other, and to have clung to each other, for now these many decades.