Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Managing a living and arranging
my days and times was a difficult
thing. Initially, with a 6-month old
baby, and a new wife, and living in a
new place and it needing to be made
into a workable home, I was pretty
much at my own ground zero, to start
up. The most basic facts, and I mean
most basic  -  I won't go into  -  but
I was a young buck, say, with a new
wife completely sexually naive.
That all had to be dealt with  -  I'm
not saying it was wrong, or whatever,
and maybe everyone faces things like
that. I'm just saying, for 1971, it was
what it was to deal with or push along.
I will never apologize for my youth.
There's a funny story with that  -  a
few years later, working in Whitehall
Printing in Elmira, a new young buck
of the same sort, this one from the
Bronx, was hired in. This guy was
a complete, transplanted, urban NY
guy, with all those attributes. He
never really fit in, and lasted only
2 or 3 months. He and I had a new
and nodding acquaintance there, and
he'd sit around the break-room table,
with me, day after day, if one day
then five for sure, telling me about
his newly-married, at home sexual
exploits from the night before. 'My
dick hurts...It's sore....I'm so fucking
tired ...(no pun on that one, I don't
think, except for the one I'd make
of it). It was a fairly hilarious, daily
scene. Anyway, back to my story.
The house and home had to be put
together, things had to be meshed,
expenses, banking, and all that. I
well remember, at first, having done
all my figuring and accounting of
expenses and expected bills and all,
and then one day getting my first
electric bill there. In Fulton Street,
Woodbridge, our monthly electric bill
(back then) was 10-12 dollars, tops.
Which is around what I'd figured to
budget for it, not realizing, in this
new situation, it didn't necessarily
hold true. The first electric bill was
some 160 dollars. Which floored me,
and threw all my numbers out the
window. Then I got to realizing, all
those rooms, and extra lights, and the
electric pumps for the spring water,
plus the fact that the house was of
all-electric service (stove and stuff).
I'd just never realized. In addition,
and this was the killer, which I
immediately had de-installed,
there'd been, since we moved in,
a really annoying street-lamp on
at night, in the absolute middle of
nowhere, understand. On its own
telephone pole too. Right out, in
the dirt, on the front lawn area, at
the dirt road, like it was 42nd Street
or something. We'd hated it from
the first, and I did have intentions
to shoot it out, the lamp of it
anyway. It ruined the night  -  as
it threw weirdly angled light, odd
shadows and  -  most tellingly  - 
destroyed any aspect of distant
and dark isolated living under
the Heavens, which I'd sought.
Turned out, that thing alone was
was like 40 bucks a month itself.
I was never more happy to see
something go, and I so welcomed
the black night sky and stars. It's
just the kind of blockhead thing
these Pennsylvania local country
people do  -  no thought to appreciate
where they are or their finer place
in the cosmos. They just want light,
and convenience. Craziest shit. The
barnyards around there were lit up
like K-Mart, though that I could
maybe understand somewhat better  -
chores and work, in the dark, and all.
But this was a house and, damn it all
it was my house now. I went to the
Wyalusing Power Company, out by
Towanda, myself, and sat down with
some Mr. Bastian guy, (great name,
thought I!), and we worked it out.
He credited me down some for the
surprise of a huge bill, arranged for
that damned streetlight and pole to
be taken care of, advised me that,
with all the electric use of the house,
there'd still be a larger bill than my
expectations, and said 'good luck.'
As babbling crazy as I'd gotten over
that bill, my expectations were saved
from becoming expectorations  -  that
was my own private little joke to
myself, how I lightened my situation
and cut down on my grief and anger.
Sometime or another, anyone can get
stuck in a situation that soon becomes
awkward. You can't pivot, you can't
rightly turn, you just don't know what
else to do. Fated to be a miscarriage,
the path that looms before you needs
to be walked no matter what. You
seeded it, and now you have to
cultivate, hoe it, and walk it. I always
felt anyway  -  a coward's way out
would be to cut and run. I'd seen a
hundred cases of that, and it wasn't
me. There I was, a million miles
from nowhere, with a fistful of
pennies to my name. Last thing I
was determined to do was  -  two
last things, actually  -  bail, or fail.
Neither of those scenarios held my
attention at all. If I'd wanted any of
that crap, I could have just enlisted
and gone to Vietnam. Learn to kill,
come back home and talk about it,
or do it.
Danger lurks, in lethargy as well as
in anger. I had a few friends from
back in NJ, they'd come to visit,
hang around, we'd compare notes.
I'd realize I was glad for having
left what I'd left, no two ways
about that. Who was doing what,
where. Kids making music. The
neighborhood crap, sex with
whom and where. I felt like
a true hideaway. In a secret
and dark place, but safe and
secure too. Somehow, in the
time I'd left, or been gone, it
seemed like the whole world
had turned in the direction I'd
started spinning it; it was weird,
and yet I felt estranged, and
wanted out from it. Nobody'd
recognized me, and I wasn't
about to recognize no one back.
We'd talk, drink some, my
friends would go home, leaving
out in the same car they came in
a five-hour journey to mystery.
They'd leave twenty bucks on a
dresser each time; after they'd leave
we'd find it. I won't say it didn't
come in handy to have. No mention.
One of those guys started getting
sweet on my wife, and she on him;
I eventually called him up, got his
mother instead, just said to tell him
to come get her if that's they'd
wanted, or be gone. That was the
end of all that. Go figure.
One time, in Warren's barn, I'd
arrived early, doing my stuff to
set up for milking. Inside Warren's
house, a little distance off, they were
having some family, Sunday, party
or something; a big meal, about
twenty people or so, lots of cars;
just different than usual. I got into
the barn walking over from my
side of the hill, and went to work,
figuring sooner or later he'd
come out, and it wasn't my place
to go get him or knock on his door
or any of that. I could handle it.
As I entered the barn, I heard this
odd, strange, low-moaning sound
(No! This isn't going where you
think...). One of the cows was
birthing a calf, which I'd seen
numerous times before, but this
cow's calf was coming out all wrong,
somehow, or wasn't coming out.
There were two legs out, but nothing
more was happening, and I could
sense a scared, twisted calf really
trying not to die or strangle, while
the distraught mother cow was
low-moaning these most anguished
and primitive, even Old Testament,
sounds. Nothing, absolutely nothing,
like I'd ever seen or heard before. As
basic and raw animal as anything you'd
ever see. I knew the moments were
passing. I grabbed some rope, tightly
tied that calf's two 'out' legs with it,
and leaned with all of my might,
with the looped rope around me,
and pulling. I pulled and I pulled,
as the sounds increased and time
passed. Slowly, slowly, it was
inching out. I was near to death
myself with strain and worry.
Liquid, and blood, and just gook,
was dribbling everywhere, and
then, with a great release, out
plopped the staggered calf! I'd
done it, or it had done itself,
whatever! The calf was fine,
the mother was licking it all
over, a success was had!
Later on, yes, I tried explaining
what had occurred, and what the
cows and I had gone through, but
the telling just didn't get it across.
To them, it was mostly just another
calf, and what should we name it.

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