My vessel is listing

Some creative shut-in artists around here have been reading Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner out loud. The climate’s pall this morning reminds me of the lines I had to repeat during speech therapy classes in high school: “Alone, alone, all all alone; alone on a wide wide sea.”

It’s not raining, although there are still raindrops frozen on tree branches. The weather reminds me of that point where the in and out tides conjoin on the Hudson, and the river becomes a dark mirror.

My hours unwind. I’m up at five something when I am awakened by wife’s text alert. At six she comes in to get her bathrobe. The dog jumps on the bed to stare at me. I open one eye, which she licks. I finally make it down to the kitchen a little after seven, mark up the morning newspapers, and make a 14-point list of things to do for the day.


Emails, news alerts, solitaire, room-straightening. I get lost in a phone conversation that stretches 46 minutes. Tired, I make a second coffee, on ice this time, and call to my wife, in her office, to shut the goddamned door already.

I start writing: three emails, a press release, and this piece. It’s closing in on noon. Time to get my son up so he can have cereal and watch his superhero show.

No lines through any of my list’s 14 items yet. I start making calls, which account for half-lines (the actual stories still need to be written, alas). I send the emails and press release. Scribble scribble … eleven items to go!

I work on the tax credit form and school registration. I and start one of the two stories I’m to write. I heat up soup and make a sandwich for lunch. I head upstairs and move things around in my closet-sized office so I can shift away from the dining-room table downstairs, which I’ve promised to do. I take a load of laundry down to the basement and bring a load halfway upstairs. I mark off several other items, feeling optimistic I’ll be finishing these things I’ve started.

I make a couple of other phone calls. An hour passes. It’s getting later into the afternoon. I start making couscous and a lamb tagine for dinner. I work on a radio show, then do some radio uploads and downloads, as I’ve promised others in earlier phone calls.

My son points out it’s time I make him an afternoon egg sandwich and watch our show with him. I point out it’s almost dinner, but he says he’s still hungry. Life under lockdown, he observes.

The wife gives us each a kiss. We will take the dog for a quick walk after feeding the cats.

The list’s whittled down to three items, with one pushed to the top of the next day’s list. No need to clean the basement on such a busy day.

My shoes are soaked after the walk. Milo goes up to his Playstation and friends. I finish off the story I’d told myself I’d finish then start the next. Then decide it’s late enough to finish dinner for us all. I provide myself with a mood-altering Happy Hour.

It’s been another hard working day. The wind’s picked up some, at last, and it’s finally really raining.

Those stuck-ins read from Coleridge: “Day after day, day after day …. The very deep did rot: Oh Christ! That ever this should be!”

Read more installments of Village Voices by Paul Smart.