From the Desk of Thomas H. Schiller

By Trisha Remetir

October 24
Well, after a week of U-Hauling our possessions up the mountain, the plates are finally shelved and the rugs are now hugging the floor. We’re finally settled in!

I’d say we’re pretty lucky to have found this house. It was a short sale on Craigslist, a minimalistic two bedroom, one bath, that’s a perfect mountain retreat in which Angie and I can finish our dissertations. We’d been looking for a place to settle in the city, but after seeing this ad we decided to take it. A view! A treetop study! A garden to sustainably live on! And most importantly, a break from the whole postgraduate bar scene. Angie decided this was her chance to finally learn how to spin yarn, so we even bought a two-month-old lamb to grow our own wool. We named her Lila. Now our pup Sparkplug has a friend, and our family’s getting bigger by the minute.

We can finally live the life we want. Me and Angie and Sparkplug and Lila, baking cornbread, picking edible plants, smoking in the day and writing late into the night. Genuine mountain people. Maybe I should grow out my beard…

October 25
Angie and I took our first morning walk today. We originally planned to catch the sunrise, but unfortunately the previous night’s wine tasting lagged us a bit.

But boy, mountain air at 3PM sure is spectacular. We took a winding footpath that led us a good mile up the hill and talked a little bit about our projects, and about how real everything seems. No more dealing with fake artists, with other pedestrian hipster couples who claim their poetry is like Ginsberg’s Howl. The air is bitingly clear. Our boots dry by the fireplace at night. We’re more like Snyder, Angie and me.

Just picture us—two burgeoning poets strolling through the woods, with little old Sparkplug nipping at our heels. I’ll start that chapter tonight.

October 30
It seems that Angie and I have poison oak.

We don’t really know how it happened—Tuesday’s mushroom gathering may have been the culprit, but then again, so too our little tryst in the bushes. My chest, stomach and legs are covered with itchy welts, and Angie’s butt cheeks are “searing with the pain of fifty yeast infections.” Normally I would have told her that her word choice was off kilter, but as she’s moon-cycling on top of it all, I thought I’d let it slide.

Unfortunately our condition has put a temporary halt to our projects. The tomato seeds haven’t been planted yet and our Internet still needs to be set up. Even more so, all of our energy seems to go into taking Sparkplug on pee-breaks, and picking up lamb poop around the house. We’ve spent the past few evenings sitting on the couch taking turns rubbing ointment on each other and talking about what we’re going to write (because sitting at the computer for long stretches of time only aggravates the itch).

Despite our setbacks, this house has done wonders to our relationship. We go on walks, wear overalls all day and think about where the next five years will take us. This is our best idea yet. We don’t need to depend on the outside world to keep us sane. We’re fine, fine.

October 31
I think there are wolves.

I woke up to Angie shaking me, telling me to check for a burglar trying to break in the house. Wearily, I made my way to the curtained window. There were scratching sounds on the panel. When I pushed the curtains back, a figure moved and scurried underneath the nearby bushes. Two minutes later, a cacophony of menacing howls erupted from up the hill.

Yep, I’m pretty sure they’re wolves. If we had Internet, I would Google their sounds to make sure.

Well, it’s 3AM right now, and I don’t think I can get back to sleep. Angie had me guarding the door with a poker from the furnace that we still need to figure out how to work. I’m at the desk now, and I guess I should start that chapter.

November 4
Well… today has certainly been… tragic.

Frankly I thought things would get better: our rashes are going away, and I spent this morning sitting at the computer, enjoying the newly installed Internet. I had even started to begin a poem—right now they’re a few jotted lines I later plan to incorporate into a modern-day Odyssey, except with sci-fi themes that address contemporary problems of today. But when Angie hadn’t come back from her walk after three hours, I knew something was wrong.

Enter Angie, at 7PM: an asymmetrical blob slowly emerging out of the chilly dark sky. When I met her at the door, she was crying—and carrying the stacked bodies of Sparkplug and Lila in her arms.

I later found out that Sparkplug had recently taken a habit of nipping at Lila’s heels—thinking he was a Shepard dog rather than a Welsh Corgi. On the trio’s walk, Sparkplug actually chased Lila up one of the more dangerous slopes—and eventually off of a ten-foot precipice. It took her the better part of an hour to fetch them.

She’s crying in the study now, so I guess the poem will have to wait. We’ll probably be spinning what’s left of Lila into a funeral blanket. It’ll have to be red.

November 6
It’s been two days since Lila and Sparkplug’s burial, which took the whole afternoon. It took two hours to hammer two cross stakes and clear out a corner patch of the garden. And it took Angie thirteen painstaking minutes to recite an elegy for the two dearly departed—the only thing she’s written since we moved up here.

Lately, my time has been divided between the Odyssey and CNN. I’ve also been avoiding Angie. She’s in the kitchen right now, on her third try of honey wheat bread, pounding into a bowl of compressed flour. Her sobs emphasize the house’s emptiness.

We had an interesting fight over dinner.
“So how’s Woolf going?”
“Your book. How’s it going?”
Angie put down her spoon and fork, and looked straight into her plate. “Well Tom, some people don’t set their pencils out in the morning with the intention of finishing a novel in one day.”
I looked up from my bowl of Campbell’s.
“You know what I’m talking about. I haven’t worked. I haven’t slept. I’m tired, and I’m still itchy, and more importantly, how can you even eat when Sparkplug and Lila are..” she sniffed. “Are…”

Her brows twisted into a frown.

“We came up here to get away from everything, and I’ve lost everything. And you! You look like Abraham Lincoln!”
“You… don’t like my beard?”

I watched her summon the last few damning breaths she had, and with a huff she stormed into the kitchen.

Last night, while spooning the rigid flanks of Angie’s buttocks, I tried to sleep, but the bright moonlight crept onto the hills and entered the room through the window. The landscape buzzed and hummed with cricket songs and woeful sheep calls, keeping me stubbornly awake. And finally, the pack of wolves came out, emitting a piercing and violent cry to the moon.

I reached for a pen, wrote “CRAIGSLIST STUDIO APT” onto my hand, and listened to the howls.

Back to Camp Oatmeal.

Back to Issue 3.