Octopus' Garden

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Thirty-one degrees below zero with wind chill early yesterday morning. Step outside: Flash-frozen like winter produce. Freeze-rayed into dry ice by a nefarious villain wielding exceedingly bad dialogue. Frostbite. Burnt to the quick. Freezer burn.

So cold I can barely breathe.

At the afternoon faculty meeting, a Power Point presentation on travel reimbursement. The faculty member sitting next to me, a published colleague, late fifties, doodles on his meeting agenda. When I discreetly glance over at his page, I see he's written: Borrr-ing . . . After the Power Point slides, a summary pop quiz: What do you need to do when you have more than one person staying in your hotel room?

After a moment of nonplussed silence, the room erupts in breathless, giddy laughter.

Just a few weeks before, my Jeep spinning out on the ice late at night like a silly red toy top, something unraveling, quick flick of unwound string, my surprised breath escaping my body in extravagant clouds and wisps. Since then, I've been a little bit unsure about whether or not I'm still being spun, whether or not these hidden mists and vapors of my breath have actually been returned to me, or have wandered off to chase their own illicit dragons, haunt their own obsessions.

Catch my breath. It's lost.

A statistician explains how to interpret our student evaluations: Aggregate, Disaggregate, Raw Frequencies. There's noise in the response, he tells us. (How could there not be? Static. Hum. Subtext. The noise is the part I listen to most closely. Back to Thelonious again, all breath and hum and moan beneath the tracks.)

Turn around. Look for that smile to make everything thaw just a tiny bit around the edges.

Held breath.
posted by Artichoke Heart at 11:29 PM


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Blogger Mary, at 9:34 PM  
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Blogger Artichoke Heart, at 7:55 PM  

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