Current Occupation: Program Coordinator at a large, southwestern university. Also, an underemployed actress.
Former Occupation: Program Coordinator at a medium-sized northwestern university.
Contact Information: Kristen LaRue works for a university academic department, where she designs and writes for web and print publications. A native of Montana, LaRue’s writing is influenced not only by her western heritage, but also by her training in classical music and dance.
December 31—A Work Day
New Year’s Eve, I’m in bed, can hardly get out, up.
Estranged Husband has to dress Daughter, feed Her, take
Her to daycare.
get up, out, dress, no shower.
I can fake it
I can usually fake it
looking normal, dressing-myself-and-others wellness, love
Unintentional: I take the long way to work:
mail some letters, an accomplishment
heading to Starbucks, feel guilty
thinking about Friend, in hospital with lungs transplant,
took so long, so difficult, so, fight
turn on wrong street
maybe will visit Estranged Lover
will drive by his house
will see where Fate leads
try to park in usual garage
and Lady In
You can’t park here today.
no signs from management
no words from her to apologize for inconvenience
or ugly clothes
ugly clothes, ugly hair
can’t see my ugly clothes because
I am sitting down in pretty
new car, too expensive,
too shiny, too reflective, too Ray-bans
worn by fans at
Football game in stadium nearby, too many fans
all these out-of-towners, milling about, in their
way, in the way, dressed way bright,
ugly-colored hair, pompoms, face-paint,
too-cheerfulness: it’s for The Bowl Game
I don’t even get mad
because I still feel guilty and accomplished and tired and depressed and childish and admirable and admirish and confused and underwaterish and ugly-dressed and under-dressed and under-haired and un-motivated and under-mothered and childfull and less and unmusicked and under-pompomed and uglymothering and motherwifing and uglypretty and uglychilding and under-faithed and badmotherchild and bad bad child and cheatingdirtywifingandunder-and un-
so decide to treat my Self, don’t care, it doesn’t matter
park in the Church lot right near
campus building where I have to be for 8 hours every day,
each day, including this one, New Year’s Eve day
but instead of $6 for a day
the Methodists are charging
$20 because of it’s for The Bowl Game
I say out loud in my new car
in my actual voice, loudly
near a church even, and and but the windows are up so it doesn’t count
try to park in another garage
that is supposed to be open
and I am
All this time I’m listening to soothing Christmas music, a salving,
to soothe, supposed to make me feel
better: it is spiritual
has an arboreal theme, sopranos: lilty voices, reverent tones
all these trees have gifts
all the gifts have trees
It’s about Joseph Mary baby Jesus the latter born just to die, a balm
but after 3 days, to rise,
to live again
in our hearts maybe in mine. definitely in my mother’s
but in the trees, breath
wind in leaves sooooo soothe
then I see a UNIVERSITY PARKING
golf cart and
instead of ramming it with my new car
I flag it down
in the middle of the street
cars have to drive around us while I
roll down my window, lean out, try to keep my crazy in, explain
to the guys in the golf cart without crying or yelling but
I don’t try to smile or
even be nice can’t fake it
I am just trying to go to Work.
I don’t know where to go to put my car. can I just leave it here?
I would walk 5 miles, I’d pay to park, I don’t care!
but it is $20
I am not even going to be here the whole day ever
The guys get on walkie-talkies
talkie to someone
no one knows anything
who works on New Year’s Eve day?
what if I lift my shirt to expose my Selves?
will that get their attention, will that, would
it, make a difference, help me, park me
cars are driving by around my new car, reflective shiny, no hiding
wind through open window
I don’t lift anything
I’m still listening to Christmas music, lilty sopranos, their full breaths, their
arboreal theme, reverent
even though it is well past December 25 and it’s no time
for reverence, it being New Year’s Eve day, the cusp
of naughtiness, not quite Fat Tuesday but not Good Friday, which is too bad, it’s such a good sorrow, that day
I just let it play, hold on to the tune,
can’t imagine listening to anything
else. too much work to change the music
it’s so soothe
seems that I and the radio can never
leave things, can never let go of things
I can never let go of things
people I should let go of I should let go
I should, let go I should let
go I really should go
finally the guys tell me to go back to my garage
park on the top floor
The Lady With Green Vest
won’t bother me
they will meet me there.
drive back to garage
guys don’t show, Green Vest
lets me through
she looks sheepish in her uglygreen peapod, unsoftly points her finger
you be sure to park
on the top floor
which does bother me but
deadpan can’t fake it
don’t run over Green Vest with my new car twice
instead I drive up all the ramps
back and forthly, back-to-back and forth-to-forth, forth and back
and forth and back, go forth and come back, come forth and go backly, blackly
seesaw, seasick, whirlpool vortex gale. thoughts
leap, crazed-lark-in-a-tree, branch-to-
branch. I think I will be a good wife. I think I will now be a good wife. branch. Now I think I can can be
good. wifemother and Good. branch. wife/mother Now.
I think I can let go, be. a crazed lark bird. branch
I think now I should hold the bird, keep my Self branch. branch. Be _____ not wifemother, or with motherwifechild. instead. The bird Self thinks I can child him and mother him and wife him. Now her. No. fly
to the top floor and there
are no other cars
just me and mine
I pick my favorite spot
of the 250
walk under sun and solar panels to the stairs
wind in hair
go to Work.
New Year’s Eve day, still, I can hardly do any work except
email the parking people and tell them
I am pissed can’t fake it
except I don’t say pissed, I use nice
words like frustrated and inconvenient and ask them
please, please fix it
then I hate Work and my Self
I leave. now what
have lunch with Husband? Yes, try to fix it, can’t
fix it, me.
want to leave escape. decide
to visit Friend with lungs transplant
still in hospital. But it’s so far away? go.
don’t ask permission
from Estrangeds—Lover and Husband—Friend, Daughter, Parents, Self, go:
drive 10 miles to Phoenix from Tempe
listen to Christmas
with an arboreal, breath music
tell Lover, I’m going, while on phone, him sitting
on patio under trees writing books
wind in pages
get to hospital campus, confused, lots of buildings, lost of buildings,
where to go, where to park
where to drive, how to get to heart
and lung tower to see Friend in hospital
I wish I was in hospital, breathing apparatus, soothe my brow
still on phone with Lover
concentrate on Lover or driving
Friend was dying only a few weeks ago
now has new new lungs,
courtesy coma patient
people walking places I feel
sad for people in hospital, anytime, all the time, especially holidays, at this time,
organs transferred between bodies, dead to living, they living to dead
I feel sad for Friend, who, when he
woke from surgery thought he was dead
for 3 days
burning in his chest so bad
thought he was in hell
thought everyone was
too nice to
he was dead
he says now he’s found God
This is the first time I will see Friend
I’ve been too busy: Lover and Husband and Green Vest and Daughter and Work and self to
take care of other people.
I see parking. drive up. take ticket
no ticket to take
on phone, still with Lover
annoyed that I’m distracted by
paper taped over dispenser, says:
Happy New Year: free parking today.
Really. I look around
to see if this is a joke. The gate is
open. A gift. So then. Park.
Then walk. hospital building dither outside, procrastinate
am I in a coma? I wish I was in a coma. I have a coma in my mind, alive asleep,
dead breathing. I have been in coma.
Take elevator. Walk. room.
carefully put mask over my mouth and nose, fasten strings
over my ears, not a Mardi Gras outfit, a real-real life costume
don’t breathe germs into Friend’s new lungs
delicate-fragile-beautiful tissue, inside, alive-rhythm, living-panic.
enter. See. Friend, whose wife has brought his guitar
It’s still in the case.
greet Friend, hello guitar. Friend hasn’t played since, before.
I unfasten the case latches, open the lid,
pick up guitar, music friend childhood friend,
chord. strum, breathe.