Posts

Showing posts from 2005
It’s absurd. All of it. And the only thing to do, perhaps, is to point it out. So to liberate ourselves from all this... foolishness. Or, at the very least, to better laugh at this—what’s ahead, behind, left, right, above, below: Our Stupendous Folly. How is the world better off?
Q : Are you growing a beard? A : No. The beard is growing me .
“Habit is the ballast that chains the dog to his vomit. Breathing is habit. Life is habit. Or rather life is a succession of habits, since the individual is a succession of individuals…Habit then is the generic term for the countless treaties concluded between the countless subjects that constitute the individual and their countless correlative objects. The periods of transition that separate consecutive adaptations…represent the perilous zones in the life of the individual, dangerous, precarious, painful, mysterious and fertile, when for a moment the boredom of living is replaced by the suffering of being .” “The suffering of being: that is the free play of every faculty. Because the pernicious devotion of habit [paralyzes] our attention, drugs those handmaidens of perception whose cooperation is not absolutely essential.” —Excerpted from Samuel Beckett’s essay on Proust (via Esslin’s “The Search for the Self”)
Him: (He leans forward.) Tell me. Tell me your passions. Her: Why? —No . I’ll tell you why. It’s because— Him: (His smile grows.) Because , I’m interes — Her: Because, you want to get into my pants. That’s why. (Pause.) Him: (He leans back.) I will love you in any way you see fit. Her: Will you? Him : (His smile wilts.) Yes. What other choice have I? Her: They say: “ Attraction is not a choice.” But Love? You may have a choice with that . Considering how one will fall In, and then, Out.

Whilst The “Engine” Idles

You’re there, at a downtown cathedral, attending a funeral. You’re sitting in the second pew closest to the pulpit. And you’re watching Father Boivin carry out all the necessary Roman Catholic rituals. And you’re thinking: This is what I should be doing. The great escape into Ritual. Indeed, one possibly liberating—yet also possibly limiting—aspect of organized religion is the organization itself. One needn’t think, one simply does. God will fill in the blanks. Time will not sink its claws, so long as one is occupied—with Ritual—with relevant Ritual. After all, nothing soul-destroys quite like hollow Ritual. And the Religious Practitioner, of course (as opposed to the more prosaic rituals practiced by the factory worker, the stock-boy, or the book-keeper), is charged with effectuating ceremonies of Divine Magnitude. Thus, it is safe to suggest that there is next to nothing Holy about stocking shelves with Campbell’s soup—although, Sam M. Walton and Douglas R. Conant might disagree. Ano
Lately, starving myself till midnight; then, raiding the nearest White Hen and/or 7-Eleven and/or Walgreens and/or CVS for all forms of sugar and fat. Still, however, able to maintain a weight between 130 & 135…

The Subject Heading of a recently received email:

"TO DIVEST ONESELF OF MATERIALIST TRAPPINGS IS TO FURNISH THE SOUL INSTEAD."

...and yet cannot.

Twenty minutes after the show you walk into the bar and she’s the only one who waves and squeals your name. And when she does this, she half stands up from her stool. Even so, this reaction to your arrival, it’s got little to do with you. She’s perky in general . You just keep reminding yourself how you’re nobody special—just another somebody she knows. And, with that much assured, you choose to reply with a single wave and a mild, lip-closed smile. You choose—because “between stimulus and response” everyone has the choice— to reply with less than half her enthusiasm. She saw you first because where she sat she was facing the door. The few others who know you and noticed your entrance, they smile, but they don’t make the Big Deal she just made...and thank God for that. You don’t trust attention for attention’s sake. If that makes sense. Hey, sure, if the joke kills, laugh; if the song and dance pleases, clap. Most curtain calls, though, you can barely ever bow. Most curtain calls, you
A thought that inspires some concern… Am I ridding myself of (nearly) all materialistic extraneousness because, on some subconscious level, I sense that the Time Is Coming? ...and I do not necessarily mean my time; nor do I necessarily mean death ...
Scrape the bottom of the creative barrel and you may find the most potent—albeit least palatable—of material.
It’s that your beauty always gets in the way of my ever having a decent conversation with you. So…get ugly. Then we’ll talk.
HIM: I want to be your biographer. HER: Why? HIM: Because you’ve got "Bestseller" written all over you.
Yes, she is fantasy made flesh. But, to you, despite her every hug Hello and hug Goodbye, she is no less a fantasy…
My life is all about the suppression of obsession.
While, at times, I may be frustrated with you, I am, at all times, most frustrated with myself.

Murdered Mystery

For three days we sat next to each other for three meals. For all of those meals, and only for those meals, to everyone else, she was my "wife." At first glance, she was: Hot. "Yeah," I thought, "I could be married to that ." However, the more I got to know her, the uglier she became. Only, she's not the one I need to find ugly... The one I need to find ugly treats me, at the very least, with too much professional courtesy. Even so, the one whose attitude sullied her beauty (because she had too much contempt for anyone more fortunate), I said to her, "Nice working with you." It was a formality, what I said. It was also a lie.
...and yet, how self-deceitfully easy it is to slip back into the dull, monotonous thudding-along of life…
MapQuest informs me that I spent the weekend only 158.73 miles (or 3 hours and 1 minute) from the place I currently call home. Nevertheless, I now have a greater appreciation for travel. Going Away indeed changes one. And, the farther away one goes—along with the longer one may experience such Distance—the greater the change.
Life is the pursuit of happiness. The pursuit , you see, is all there is .
His fingernails, on his left hand, are the ones he keeps forgetting to clip.
No longer will he workout for women. Instead, he will workout for sanity.
He says to me, he says: He can’t sleep. He says: He’s got these terrible aches. And these aches, they aren’t new. He’s had them before. They come around, these aches, on average of once a year. And the reason they come around, these aches, the reason is always the same. Some girl. He says: He knows he’s a pig. (But not in the sense you’re thinking.) He says: He can’t stand himself. He says: He’s tired of feeling. Every thing. All this feeling, he says, it’s exhausting. He says: It’s debilitating. He says: He doesn’t know what to do with himself. And, he says: He can’t take his mind off the Future. Yes, that’s the other thing. He’s staring at a Dead End. He says. And nobody believes him. I don’t believe him. Why should you ? He says: If he can’t express what he wants to express, then what’s the point of expressing anything? He doesn’t see the Use , he says. He wants the pill that’ll put him to sleep. For good. He doesn’t want to be in the way. Doesn’t want to be the source of Drama. The
What is AMAZING is how I continue to embarrass myself without even, at the time, knowing it, or, without, evidentally, finding out about it until weeks after the fact. (More to come. Maybe ...)

“The truth will set you free.”

Or so “they” say. I have reason to believe that the above maxim is little more than a means of manipulation. And, as I have discovered (perhaps wholly as a result of my own paranoia), the closer I ever get to expressing the truth around anyone I know, the more pain it ultimately causes me. Increasingly, I see blogging as a hazard to my mental health. So, it may be best to keep my shit to myself. I cannot be honest without worrying about the ramifications of being honest—since I am rather scary during my honest moments. There are a handful of people around me who are rather good at keeping their shit to themselves. More and more, I admire them. I have been a whiner all of my life, and I hereby intend to knock it off.
The FireVaney is going to shut up and behave. At least, for a while. (Maybe for week, maybe for a month, maybe for forever…)
Well, I guess I couldn't fool any of you...

A Reversal Of Opinion

The decision to invade and occupy Iraq was foolish. Or, if nothing else, it was foolishly carried out. Abandoning Iraq now would be just as foolish—if not more foolish. So, bring home a kid, a father, or a mother; hand me a gun; I’ll go fight your damned war. I’ll take responsibility for your blunder. I’ll clean up your mess. Or, at least, I’ll try. I’ve got nothing better to do. Better my head’s blown off than your father’s, or your mother’s, or your son’s, or your daughter’s. I’ve got nine months to join before I hit the maximum age requirement. If, by July, I am still where I am now, I have either failed the physical, or I have failed to follow through. And if I have failed to follow through, then I am a true coward, and I do not deserve to be a citizen of a free country.
The goatee, or whatever you call it, makes me look less the sap… I hope. Only it’s a bitch to maintain an equal width of trimmed hair on either side of the lips. I’ll spend thirty minutes a morning, staring at the mirror. I’ve had to use a Goddamn tape-measure…
He said to me— point-blank —he said it: That he’s giving up on hoping to try.
Shortly upon entering the house, or, shortly upon exiting the house, I’ll return to the door to check the lock two, maybe three times. Used to do this all the time when I lived in Chicago. Same with the car’s locks—I’ll go back to yank on the handles two, maybe three times. Have I mentioned this before? I feel that I have… My mind is rarely where it is. And I’ve only left a door unlocked, or a window unrolled two, maybe three times. Lately, when I feel the pressure to re-check a lock (this is the emotional, self-doubting equivalent to the pressure of needing badly to pee) what I’ve been doing is, I’ve been saying to myself, “It’s locked, I know it’s locked.” I’ll say it over and over.
…The two of us sat in the large, insufficiently lit room, alone… It was the room behind Donny’s Skybox’s stage… …We sat side by side, faces forward… …This was during this past Saturday’s ten-minute break… …My eyes, pushed to their right-most corners, watched her as she listened to my throat gulp down the watery remnants of the hours old, Coffee-Light Frappuccino… …I know she heard the rippled, liquid-flush of fluid gravitate down my throat because the room was otherwise silent… …Embarrassed by my disgusting sound, I apologized, but not before confirming my fears by asking if she had heard…(which, as mentioned before, she had)…
My finger-knuckles stink of the “sweet and tangy” honey-mustard squeezed across a recently microwaved and currently bunned hotdog. There’s relish spread and ketchup squeezed across it, too. But, my finger-knuckles only stink of the honey-mustard…

For What Little It's Worth...

David Mamet once pegged the government as an imaginary friend. The current residents of New Orleans would likely agree. Watching the news, the question running through my mind is: “How, hundreds of miles away, sheltered, fed, clothed, safe, does one process all of this?” How does one digest the fact that It Is God Awful . At least, God Awful , according to the news. I want to go there. And do… what? What does one do? There is already enough money. There is already enough manpower; already enough expertise. Only it all went missing when New Orleans needed it most. The other thought running through my mind is: “This doesn’t surprise me.” Why does it not surprise me? Time and again, those in power fail to act until such power is threatened. For countless examples, consult history. It’s all happened before. It’ll all happen again. At best, ours is a country run by optimists. At worst, we are a nation steeped in obliviousness. Bob Saget hosted the wrong show. He should’ve hosted COPS. You’
She lit the cigarette simply to have something to hide behind. Namely, smoke.
Swear to God, last night, the bats fluttering low across the Chicago Botanic Garden’s entrance-way, all those bats, they wanted me for dinner. They were honing in, lower and lower, until I reached the white-bright and rear-red Ravinia traffic stopped at the intersecting light—stopped there idling at County Line road. See, these were Cook County bats, and they knew better than to cross into Lake County. That's just how smart bats are...
No love is greater than the love of consuming a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie.

Dust.

You only notice it when it’s there. Clearly there. That is, you rarely note the absence of dust. Unless, of course, it’s an allergic thing…

Pets

For years and years we couldn’t have a dog. But then, when we moved further north, into a house, we could . Years and years before that, the pets were all lizards and goldfish. Step Dad, you see, he’s allergic to cats. Only, Step Dad ultimately left a sour taste in my mouth for the furrier of pets. The first dog we ever got — a white, gold-spotted cocker spaniel Mom named “Kurbbie” — Step Dad elevated him to royalty. That dog could do no wrong; that dog, only the best for him. In turn, Step Dad reduced his estimation of Mom and me — but more so me — to rank with the common toilet-licker — a rank less than peasantry. My schedule was worked around that dog’s schedule. My curfew: 10:30 — most every night. Because coming home later meant waking that dog, meant waking Step Dad, meant the dog had to be taken out, and only Step Dad, apparently, could do that; could, with appropriate pomp and circumstance, lead that dog outside, to piss the tree.

The Leftovers

Shortly before Pop was released from the hospital his internist prescribed five tablets of Seroquel. This was to treat the “floating” hallucinations Pop was experiencing in his hospital room. But, once home, Pop had no need for the Seroquel because he experienced no further hallucinations—as had been predicted by one of the nurses. So here’s five tablets of Seroquel sitting in my top desk drawer along with the tablets of Meclizine I avoided during my week-long vertigo trip in late June. I avoided the Meclizine because it only worked occasionally, and I feared constipation. I still fear constipation. Seroquel, on the other hand, interests me, because it is commonly used to treat acute bipolar mania and schizophrenia. The white label on the candy-orange, white-capped bottle says, “SEROQUEL 25 MG TABLET ZEN.” What’s that “ZEN” supposed to mean? The bottle also instructs the patient to “Discard After 07-11-2006.” The Meclizine, it’s good until 06-23-06. Since Pop was released from the hosp
Nothing is more sanity-stabilizing than being amongst good friends.
And that friend's response... "Keroauc liked to pretend that he didn't revise his writing, just like Cassavetes liked to pretend that his films' dialogue was improvised, but neither was true. Kerouac's writing may have been less revised than might have been the norm, but he spent months, for example, revising On the Road after the two-week (he claimed) marathon writing session which produced it. After all, the original draft was far longer and different--it's a scroll, as you might know, pages all taped together, and it travels the country on its own now, not unlike Elvis's Cadillac. (Maybe it's driven around the country in the Cadillac. Now that would be cool.)" "Anyway, you're probably right, if Jack were here today he might very well blow his genius prose through the trumpet of the Internet. But if I were friends with him, I wouldn't have to read it, 'cause he'd tell me what he had to say himself."
This is for that friend of mine who refuses to read (or listen to) any of my blogs—because the entries may be lacking in some necessary perspective, or they are simply too unrefined. He is a friend who is a fan of the man that coined the term: “Beat Generation.” The following evidence supports the argument that, if Jack Kerouac was a young man living today, he might have been a compulsive blogger… “All my editors since Malcolm Cowley have had instructions to leave my prose exactly as I wrote it. In the days of Malcolm Cowley, with On The Road and The Dharma Bums , I had no power to stand by my style for better or for worse. When Malcolm Cowley made endless revisions and inserted thousands of needless commas like, say, Cheyenne, Wyoming (why not just say Cheyenne Wyoming and let it go at that, for instance), why, I spent $500 making the complete restitution of the Bums manuscript and got a bill from Viking Press called “Revisions.” Ha ho ho. And so you asked about how do I work with a
He doesn’t like her. But he doesn’t like her for the wrong reasons.
Then he asked this: “ Can one be oblivious and in denial at the exact same time?” She considered it briefly. “No,” she said. “At least, not about any one particular thing.” He said, “How about death?” “No, even with regard to that,” she said. “After all, how possibly can you be in denial of something you are oblivious to? That would be a neat trick. You cannot be oblivious to something you have knowledge of. Nor can you be in denial of knowledge you do not have.” After a long moment with nothing but the train wheels clicking over the tracks, he said, “This is the sort of conversation two people have only when it is long after midnight, and still long before dawn.”
This is God’s honest Truth: I had a non-sexual crush on Peter Jennings. Not simply ABC’s, he was my anchor, too. What’s more, throughout most of my formative years, my hair-style very closely matched his. At the end of each broadcast, when he’d wish us all a goodnight, I’d shout right back at my TV screen, “‘Night, Pete!” And that’s God’s honest Truth.
Through countless pitchers of beer, shots of whisky, through margaritas and White Russians, I was her wooden dummy, perched there on her thigh, there at the end of the red-puffed, half-mooned booth...
For me, and perhaps for all men, there is some difficulty in pissing while standing—as it is customary for my gender—while also brushing my teeth. Then again, I was a “Special-Ed” kid.
Somewhere quiet. Somewhere cool; where the temperature rarely, if ever, reaches above the seventy-five degree mark. Somewhere clearly middle-class. Somewhere wooded with small lakes and winding rivers and ever-rushing waterfalls. And where there’s never a worry of rush-hour traffic. Somewhere north of here. Way north of here. Where people buy new cars out of necessity, not because they can . Where people are tasteful rather than fancy. Where, generally, showing-off is frowned upon. Perhaps somewhere in Alaska. Because Canada isn’t likely to take you. Fantasy aside, future ahead, if something isn’t finished then nothing will be published, and you will starve or you will freeze to death. If something isn’t finished and submitted and published and then purchased, your future is homelessness; your future is standing on street corners holding Going Out Of Business signs and selling Streetwise. Your future is likely this because you’re a spoiled brat and your chances of surviving anothe
You may sell me your body, but you will never sell me your heart. Captured, yes... But one's ( anyone's ) heart, it cannot be sold. Or, put more succinctly… You may peddle your body, but never your heart.
With the house to myself, Barney Miller on the tube, a half-dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts, an entire Domino’s ham-pepperoni-black olives topped Pizza, and six bottles of Mike’s Hard Lemonade to wash it all down…
Examined a different way, it is a Time to Hone and a Time to Study. Thus, this Time is a gift. With any success at honing and studying the Time for Loving will come. One, however, hopes the Time for Loving will not come so late as to necessitate the need for Viagra. Of course, the Time for Success and Loving will indubitably be followed by a Time of Chaos. As if an obsessed denied suitor, you see, Chaos stalks Success. Or Love. But definitely both, when commingled. For now, the thing to love is the Freedom. And the Freedom is the Freedom to Hone and to Study. Few appreciate such freedom during adolescence. Thus, you are living your Second Chance. Though, where chances are concerned, this may be your third, your fourth, your fifth, actually. Unless, however, it is possible for a concept to fall in love. Freedom , perhaps, has fallen in love with you. That is, the Freedom to Hone and to Study. That is, in particular, the Freedom to Write and to Read.
Hanging on the wall five feet east of the flat-screen TV in room 4132 there’s a painting. Steps and a rail surrounded by potted flowers and planted shrubbery. This scene, the painter has you seeing it through a rain-streaked window. It’s a soft, comforting image—though no one’s mentioned it. Everyone’s mentioned the flat-screen—how sharp the image; how vivid the color. Make this painting a photograph, and it wouldn’t be as comforting. A photograph would define the scene too well. One tends to dwell over the meaning of a painting more than one dwells over the meaning of a photo. One is more likely to wonder: Why this scene? Painting is a larger commitment—for, while it only takes a moment to snap a photo, it can take hours to paint a canvas. Of course, via digital means, one can spend hours manipulating a photograph… But doesn’t doing that make the photo more like a painting? We won’t be satisfied unless we name, define, classify, categorize everything . We must pin it all down. Flowe
A cousin of mine, who is in London for a summer photography program, remembered her forgotten keys shortly before boarding a double-decker bus. This was yesterday morning. She hurried back toward the dorm, and as she did, that bus blew to bits. Physically , she is unscathed. I'm still waiting to hear from my friend, Dave, the expatriate. I've only got his e-mail address. Whatever you people want, whatever that truly is, you aren’t going to get it with more explosions; you aren’t going to get it with more murder—you haven’t yet, you didn’t yesterday, what makes you think you will today or tomorrow or next week? It won’t matter if it’s Madrid, London, or New York. You aren’t going to get what you want by doing what your doing. How many things do you have to blow up before this truth becomes clear? Your bloody diligence will be your undoing.
How to unpack the word, “numb”? Because that’s how you’ll feel after so many hours waiting for a doctor, nurses, technicians; waiting for test and x-ray results; waiting for a warm blanket; waiting for someone to turn off that damn whining, flat-lining, mechanical noise; waiting for the next available room. After so many hours waiting in a hospital—unless, of course, your gallstones are tearing out of that pear-shaped muscular sac and slashing into your liver and stomach—you’re going to feel time drag you down, you’ll feel gravity press from above. An onslaught of sluggishness— that’s waiting in a hospital. And it’s an understatement, too.
He smiled, patted my back, and with beer-breath told me, “Eyes closed? One gal tastes no better than any other.”
The blue scale in the bathroom, the one that’s been there all your life, it was off by three pounds. This was this morning this was. Even after adjusting its small black knob, it’s still off. The dial-thingy should’ve stopped spinning at 135. The thin red line over the clear plastic shield should’ve cut right through the 3 of 135. So, you jumped. Which, once the dial-thingy stopped spinning, didn’t change anything. So you jumped, again. And you jumped higher. Now, anyone who steps on that old blue scale, they weigh in at 270. Even before you step on it, that’s what you are—the thin red line cutting through the 7 of 270 telling you so.
All the conversations I’ll never have, I have in the shower. This is what you might call the Pre-Shampoo ritual before the Sudsing-Up of Soap ritual.
If not for drugs, or to cut you open, the doctor’s paid to tell you: “Drink plenty of liquids.”
Today’s big thing learned: That an MRI feels like the crammed inside of the Enterprise NCC-1701 photon-torpedo bay, and, the half-hour you’re to keep perfectly still in there, the sound is old Atari Pac-Man mixed-in with Yar’s Revenge. And the TV volume's cranked loud as it’ll go. The head guard they put over your face, it’s exactly like being fitted with Darth Vader’s helmet.
Four years ago, roughly, Pop was having dizzy spells. That’s when the doctor told him he needed by-pass surgery. So that happened. The day after, Pop had his stroke. He’s much better four years later, but I stick around just to keep an eye. Now I’m having the dizzy spells. At least, for the past forty-eight hours. No chest pains, though. I’ve been popping aspirin, just in case. What’s funny is, when I’m at the gym, pumping iron, the dizziness goes away. But by the time I get home: Hello, vertigo! I’m sure it’s all temporary. Like the spots in my eyes—that was temporary. And the feeling of sweat down my temples, but on the wrong side of the skin—temporary, too. Mostly temporary. It’s probably the madness of not having a legitimate nine-to-five gig. Something like with what happened to Zelda Fitzgerald. Oh, and I’m really not into doctors. So if the End Is Near, So Be It. The closest thing to a Christian Scientist non-practicing Jew just-shy-of-being-an-atheist, that’s me. So, tomorro
First day of summer, whatever that means. The past three weeks have already seen thermometers push their red past ninety. But, “yay!” It’s Summer! Now, the heat is official! All that heat before today, it was just for practice. None of it counted. Another Spring gone by without love, that’s what it means. And more fucking bugs. More opportunity for Pop to get bit with that West Nile virus, because he doesn’t like the stickiness of repellent. More opportunity for skin cancer, too, because he doesn’t like the smelliness of sun-block. Snowstorm or drought, will an elderly man “brave” the elements today because there may not be a tomorrow? Or maybe they go out into it because, deep down, they don’t want a tomorrow. Maybe it’s just in the programming. Swear to God, I see more old men walking about when it’s ninety-five than when it’s twenty degrees cooler (and, given the property taxes ‘round here, this not for want of air conditioning). 'Round here, they’ll be out in the below-zero
What I thought I was doing was reading DeLillo out loud. And what I said was, “…when he dropped the water of glass.” And then I realized, a paragraph later, what I had said, and, of course, what I had said was not what DeLillo had written. What I thought he had written was this: “…when he dropped the glass of water.” But I was wrong again. What he actually wrote was this: “…when he dropped the water glass.” This novella, The Body Artist , it makes me dizzy. It’s Hemingway on an acid trip. Sort of. If the muses of Hemingway and Beckett could ever mate, this book would likely be their offspring. But maybe I exaggerate. But just a bit. Mind you, I’m not saying it’s a good book. I’m saying it makes me dizzy. Which, really, isn’t a bad thing for a book to do...which may mean that, yes, it is a good book, after all. Or maybe I’m still vertiginous (thank you, Roget’s Super Thesaurus) from watching Batman Begins this afternoon in an IMAX theater. Yes, my second time through. And in a way
Hold down a job? Check. Pay bills on time? Check. Save money? Check. Obey the Rules of the Road? Check. Recycle? Check. Observe common courtesy (holding open doors, giving up seats, etc.)? Check. Charitable? Check . Exercise? Check. Avoid junk food? Check. Eat your Wheaties? Check. Find someone who’ll love you back? Find someone who’ll love you back? Find someo— Shut up. But it’s always something else, isn’t it? Isn't it? Shut up, I said. You’ll have love, but you won’t have money. Love, but no job. Love, but you’ll be sick with cancer, AIDS, or MS. You’ll have love, but you’ll also have alcoholism; you’ll have an addiction to crystal meth. Love, but you’ll be in jail. Love, but suicide bombers are blowing your world to bits. You’ll have love, until everyone around you starves to death. Love, but you’re in a Persistent Vegetative State . Love, but you've purposely overstated last year’s earnings by several billion. And you just got caught…
AMY: How are you? BEN: Fine, fine. Yourself? AMY: I’m alright. BEN: Good. Now. What did you really want to ask?
I keep grabbing the comb to comb the hair I’ve shaved off…
Below and beyond the Red Line stopped at Addison, a sea of baseball fans, every head capped with red, white, or blue official MLB merchandise. Collectively, it’s looking too close at a living painting by Seurat. It’s striking—all these distant cotton, wool, and mesh dots, snug over salty-wet brows, swarming around Wrigley Field and the surrounding bars…
Instead of: “You need to be humbled,” say: “You need to be fucked up the ass.” Unless, of course, such an activity inflates the ego of the one in need of the humbling…
ETHEL Wounded people. FRED Yes. ETHEL Baggage— Cargo planes full. FRED Whatever. ETHEL Why? FRED If they don’t want…or need …caring for…what’s the point? ETHEL But with all that to deal with… FRED I don’t mind. I rather fancy being...being clung to. ETHEL Then. You’re one of the few.
WE’LL CALL HIM AL Where’s your tattoo? WE’LL CALL HER BETH What makes you think I have a tattoo? WE’LL CONTINUE CALLING HIM AL You seem the type. You seem the type to have more than one…
She’s running the treadmill—goin’ on an hour and a half. ‘Least that’s since you’ve made your daily appearance. The machine will stop you at ten miles, but nuthin’s to stop you from resetting the machine; goin’ another ten. And another. And another. Nuthin’s to stop you… save for the club’s close-time. Or your legs giving out. She’s wearing the purple T-shirt because , printed on the back, in bold white over the big 3 , is the name: MIKE . Or, that’s your guess. It occurs to you how many times here , at this arm’s pit excuse for a gym, just how many times you’ve mistaken tears for sweat…
These two kids dressed to catch home runs at Wrigley, they’re lying on the seats behind me, on the Red Line. One’s reading—out loud—the train’s overhead advertising; the other, he asks, “Is it called the ‘L’ because it’s elevated, or because it’s electric?” His friend—the one reading out loud the bankruptcy and divorce lawyer notices, the Instant Loan notices, the free HIV testing notices, the latest HBO series on DVD notices, and the “Don’t be Jack” CTA notices for aspiring mass-transit criminals—what the ‘L’ means, he doesn’t know. I’ve got the urge to turn and tell them… But what’s the point? What does it matter? To validate my existence? These two kids, if you’re not looking at them, they’re young enough to sound like girls. But their sound is the sound of girls who pick up drinking and smoking way too early in life. The sound, it’s got a slight raspy quality about it. It’s the sound of age before maturity—but only when emanated from teenage girls… Hearing it, that sound, takes me
You keep looking at whatever you are looking at until whatever you are looking at could not possibly be any kind of screen-shot —not anymore. Now, it could only be what you are witnessing in real life. Your life is not just like a movie. Unless your life is a manufactured lie.
We should discuss only those things we are intensely passionate about. Even at the risk of embarrassment. Anything else is prostitution or wasting time. Or both. (…what I’ll be trying on the next pretty gal I meet…)
Swear to God, the notion of pissing into a sink never ever occurred to me until, one night, said notion was proposed by nearly all of my college housemates. Because, at first, they all refused to believe I’d never done it. And then, after assuring them that I hadn’t, they peer - pressured me into immediately departing the living room for the nearest bathroom for the explicit purpose of pissing into the sink. Didn’t matter that I didn’t have to go. Which reminds me of the too-many times when the other red-headed housemate, very proud of his accomplishment(s), would barge into my room and shout, “Come take a look at this shit I just took!” Once, when I was too young to remember, I led my mother to a collection of bushes on a playground; proudly pointed to a small clearing, and said, “Look what I made!” And, apparently, I was pointing at several stinky brown logs… Anyway, excepting that one time, I’ve never again pissed in any sink. I don’t get it—though, maybe, were I a few inches talle
Here’s the sink that used to drain so well. Resting upon its highest ridge, left of the doming silver faucet knobs (polished to mirror your fun-house reflection): two tubes of Hydrocortisone—ever-present for the Master’s ever-itchy ass. One tube’s almost flat; the other’s chock-full of that mysterious white stuff. This powder green (powdered with dust?) sink and matching toilet are contained within a restroom the size of a Port-O-Potty. Incidentally, you’ve lived in studio apartments no bigger than four Port-O-Potties cubically configured together. Both the toilet seat and its cover’ve been white-plastic replaced. Lots of green in this house—the wall paper, the bathrooms, the carpet—lots the color of money. Not incidentally because the Master’s an accountant, maybe? After the Draino, a mountain of black-grey bubbles erupt from the sink’s drain. Its stench smells deadly. Making-you-cough deadly—after, say, a fifteen mile sprint. Around and around Chernobyl. Making your eyes heavy—afte
When you reach the age everyone accurately guesses it , it’s clear you’re running out of time. It’s when you’ve reached that age—where everyone pins you; where the checkout gal doesn’t ask to see your ID, where the bouncer barely eyes you over as you walk on through—you haven’t the courage, or you haven’t the energy, anymore, to conquer the planet. As you might’ve, perhaps, five years ago. And if the desire still lingers—you’re fully aware—it’ll be twice as hard five years from now . Or, so you’ve been led to believe. Accomplish before thirty, or never at all. This is what you’ve heard. Out of so many mouths. A generality, to be sure. Yet, seemingly true, at least, in your case. You keep starting over. Life for you is always starting over—though never in a “fresh start” sort of way. Who’s that dude ever rolling the boulder up the hill? His name should’ve been your name. But here’s the real discovery: the best part of aging? Is the dulling of the senses. Truly. After all, you’re in
Q: What are you doing right now? A: Reading a book I’m not supposed to be reading until I finish that other book there—the book that’ll be overdue in a week. The book I’m reading instead , it’s a bought book, so there’s no rush. But the book, the checked-out book, I’m halfway through—the writing isn’t what I want it to be, the ideas aren’t as insightful as I had hoped. So I’m cheating, in a way. Mr. Palahniuk, Ms. Hempel, and, to a slight extent, Mr. Lish have all spoiled me rotten with writing (or, at least, the expectation of writing) that’ll sink its teeth into you.
YODA Careful you must be when sensing the future, Anakin. The fear of loss is a path to the dark side. ANAKIN I won't let these visions come true, Master Yoda. YODA Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them, do not. Miss them, do not. Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed, that is. ANAKIN What must I do, Master Yoda? YODA Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.
So, I suppose, approximately 2 hours, 26 minutes into tomorrow morning, I’ll have nothing else left to live for…
Why do we have to smell so bad? And everything that comes out of us, why does it all have to smell worse ? Why does shit have to smell so bad? Is it so we won’t eat it? Is that really why? Was that just how stupid our prehistoric ancestors were? God said, “They might eat their own pooh—so, uh, I’ll make it real stinky—yeah, that’s what I’ll do.” Did prehistoric man (or woman) take a look at what they just squeezed out of their assholes and say, “Huh. That’s kinda like what the chickens do—although it’s brown and more cylindrical than spherical . And, yeah, it doesn’t have a shell—THANK GOD. But I say we drop it in a pot of boiling water for 12 minutes and see what happens. I say, we scramble it up with cheese, ham, onion, and green peppers and call it something from Denver—” That’s when God stepped in and said, “No, no, that’s shit . Nothing like an egg. Believe you me.” God waves his magic finger, “And, voilà! There’s the stink to prove it.”
The Game Plan Blow my inheritance on cheap hookers and bad heroin; then die of AIDS or an OD. (Should take between a year and a decade.) Or, Hit the Big Time, make a bunch of “Popcorn” movies; then blow my fame and fortune on pricey hookers and the finest dope. End up like Bruce, Belushi, and Farley. (This, only if I’m very lucky.) Or, Meet my Soul Mate, find a cubicle that offers a regular paycheck, buy a house, a dog, raise kids, and lead the happy-sunny Disney life that the Triskkahs, to all outward appearances, live. (Now, this last one’s the real Pipe Dream.)
Anyway, at the supermarket—and does anyone even call it the supermarket anymore? Anyway, you know you’re inching closer to middle age when find yourself humming along to the tunes being piped in through the speakers; when it’s music that’s part of your own collection. Happens to me all the time. Scares the fuckin’ shit out me. Here I am trying to choose between Frosted Flakes and Honey Nut Cheerios and coming from above, between “Clean up in aisle six,” or, “Nancy to cosmetic,” there’s Bob Seger’s Night Moves . Here comes my spot-on Seger imitation… [Sings] “And we’d steal away every chance we could / To the backroom, to the alley or the trusty woods—” It’s not right! It’s not what I want to be thinking about when considering my breakfast options. I don’t need a woody at the Piggly-Wiggly. Does me no good.
Typically, or so it seems, it’s a black dog or it’s a black cat wandering through our backyard. Really, it’s not “ our ,” it’s Pop’s backyard. Pop’s looking out the window at this black Labrador and he saying over and over to it, “You should be on a leash.” Not that Pop doesn’t enjoy watching you-name-it creature crossing through his backyard. The visits from these larger furry beasts (as opposed to the ubiquitous squirrel and chipmunk) are seemingly few and far between. Sometimes, it’s a deer wandering through; typically a brown dear. But, I suppose, the deer may have black spots. And because one of our neighbors has a fence, now Pop wants a fence. And, really, for no useful reason. Why that neighbor has the fence is a mystery. Though, it’s a nice enough looking fence—a scalloped picket with rough sawn Northern White Cedar boards and framework; treated Red Pine posts. Still, this neighbor has no kids, nor pets. And not a garden, either. But Pop's dead-set on a fence because, i
Reminds me whenever I’m looking to rent an apartment—so many times the For Rent sign or ad will ask you to call for the rental rate. Why? Why waste your time? Why waste my time? Because is it really ever negotiable? If you want to rent the place, you’ve got to pay what the landlord wants you to pay—right? Anyway, it’s usually the Goddamn janitor who shows you the dump—and it’s not like this dope has the power to negotiate anything. And here’s a guy, the Goddamn janitor guy—who, nowadays, always has a title more politically correct, if not, at least, ego-boosting than the title of “janitor.” No, no, he’s not the “ janitor ,” he’s the “ Building Engineer .” He’s a guy paid to do the least possible amount of work, because, otherwise, the landlord’s overhead increases . Right? The guy who shows you the apartment is the same guy who can barely keep the bathtub drain from backing up every two weeks. Sorry, he’s not negotiating the rent with you. If I can only rent at six hundred dol
[He displays an apple for all to see…] Apples must be… crisp . When they lose all crispness—and this occurs shortly before the innards begin to turn brown—you should no longer be interested. A soft slice of apple—you, the veritable consumer, should spit right out. And you should not care how it looks after your teeth have attempted the munching of it. A non-crisp apple is an insult to your teeth. Not that you should not like apple sauce . No, no, love apple sauce. Nor am I commenting here on baked apples, or apples one finds in a pie. But when you bite out of an apple you believe to be ripe for consumption, you’ve got to hear , you’ve got to feel , that essential crispness. Because that is happiness. Not a “warm gun,” but a crisp apple. Happiness is also a brand new toothbrush, preferably an Oral-B…but we’re talking about apples right now. Jewel, Dominicks, Kroger, Piggly-Wiggly. The produce section: The cheaper the apple, chances are, the longer it’s been sitting in the bin.
What he does is, he leans over a chosen receptacle, yawns open his mouth; lets gravity do the rest of the work. Then she revises to you, “Really, all the work.” She hates it. That this is the way he doesn’t spit out his gum. She points at the framed photo—the two of them smooching less than a year ago; says, “ That’s how lazy.” As if, perhaps, this snapped shot was, on his behalf, just a pose; a half-hearted effort. “Yeah,” shouts Bobby, later, at the bar, through the smoke, over the jukebox cranking Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. “Yeah,” he shouts, soaking in the aforementioned second hand from you. “But marriages?” he says, “They’ll break up over less than even that .” What you wanna know is, what’s “less than even that ”? What possibly ? Bobby, though, he won’t share. Being a recent divorcé and all. And for something like the seventh time.
We barely knew each other. A good thing. This way, you see, you’re in my heart in the best possible way. My love, or whatever it is, is this impossible ideal. And it makes me happy. Or, at least, it does now. Finally . You’re perfect for me in a way that is an utter fantasy. Thank God you’re not now in my life to ruin it. Odds are, if we knew each other any better, ultimately, you would’ve killed me, or I would’ve killed myself. Anyway, if you ever happen to read this, and realize it is about you , please consider quitting cigarettes; consider cutting way down on the drinking; and consider having more self-respect—at least, with regard to your career goals. You have it within you to make quite an impact on the world. Of that, I have no doubt. Lung or liver cancer, however, might set an otherwise avoidable limit on said impact. Don't die full of potential. Die having made your mark.
Anyway, spending money, of course, is easier than checking a book out of the library. Because then you have a deadline. Also, you have to figure out the Dewy Decimal System. At Borders, on the other hand, everything’s arranged topically and alphabetically. Which really is great. But with the Dewey Fuckin’ Decimal System—even if I’ve written down the exact categorized combination of numbers, letters, and decimal points—I STILL need a snooty librarian to find the book. And that’s assuming I can even locate a librarian in the place. It’s as if, at a library, they don’t want you to find the book. Don’t get me wrong—I’m REAL happy the Card Catalog is, for many libraries, a thing of the past. But why can’t the library be arranged like a Borders, or a Barnes & Noble? There must be a logical reason. But can’t logical reasons be logical and stupid at the same time? No? Doesn’t the Dewy Decimal System seem to defy common sense? Of course, of course, I’m speaking from a position of tre
We’re missing commercial jingles. Or, at least, I am. Remember this one… When you run out, run out to White Hen. When you run out of ANYTHING , run out to White Hen. When you run out, run out to …
As you may’ve noticed, your local White Hen is no longer a pantry . Pantries, of course, are no longer in fashion. But white hens —they never go out of style… Pink hens, mauve hens, rufescent hens—now, along with pantries—have gone the way of the outhouse, the bell-bottom, the eight-track-cassette, and, of course, the digital clock-radio you could set with a clockwise and a counter-clockwise button. (I defy any of you to find a new digital clock-radio with a counter-clockwise button. Ah, but, them were the days...)
Why can’t You grant the guidance so many millions plead for? Why do Your true expectations remain in the dark? What is the problem with, once and for all, putting Your foot down; pointing to any one of those revered ancient texts and declaring: “ This book; this religion; this way of conducting life”—why not? Or do they all have it wrong? And if they do , why can’t You just SAY so? Do it like George Burns did it; or, more recently, how Morgan Freedman did it with Mr. Carrey. Why not? Just lay it out so everyone can understand the way it’s supposed to be. Or, is it, now , THE way it’s supposed to be? All this killing and suffering and bullshit? You want it this way? Is it really all going according to plan? Because I don’t know who or what to believe. Our President prays, I’ve no doubt, for guidance—and no doubt—he firmly believes You are offering exactly that. But so do so many suicide bombers—they’re convinced You’ve given them the go-ahead. So when I ask for guidance wh
Boil orders rock HARD . I say, we need more boil orders in this supersonic society of ours! Ain't nuthin’ like boiling pot after pot of water. Ain't nuthin ’ like stalking every Walgreens, CVS, White Hen, and Jewel on the North Shore for bottled water and Toweletts. Nuthin’ like it in the world! Can't brush your teeth; can't even wash your frackin' fruit!
You ask for one little favor. One simple, little favor. And it doesn’t materialize. So you give a call at four o’clock in the morning… Ring, ring, ring… “Yeah…?” comes through groggily. “Oh. Yeah, I made it home.” You say, “Did I wake you up?” “Yeah…” “ Good ,” you say. “Goodnight.” Click. :)
Nuthin’ starts your day like an over-flowing toilet of your grandfather’s piss and shit seeping through to the first floor… Little yellow droplets plopping upon your forehead… Streaming down, over the bridge of your nose, cascading over your lips, and, now, dangling off your chin… (The author writes of this actual, minutes-ago experience.)
The world is just so far ahead of me; any chance at catching up, a pipe dream...
What he does is, he takes the seat next to the condom wrapper. Maybe—I don’t know—this is so I won’t sit next to him? So I take the seat on the other side of the aisle—the, the throughway—whatever you call it. And he sits there like he doesn’t even see the thing, the blue wrapper, lying there next to him. He’s goin’ on and on about—I don’t know—that new Battlestar Galactica series—no, the new one—with the insatiable horny/sexy Cylon chicks. He’s goin’, “Man, just the attention to detail alone —Man, this is an evolution in televised episodic science fiction…” And the former contents of the wrapper? Nowhere in sight. Unless he was sitting on the thing. I know I wasn’t. Yeah, I actually stood up a little and brushed my hand over my jeans — and this, let me tell you, was a true moment of concern. Because the notion of finding a gooey used Lifestyles stuck to your ass is not a pleasant one. It’s never happened to me—knock wood—but the notion alone signals my stomach to reject this mornin
The hair on my head, I’m not loosing. Least not yet. Knock wood. But the hair on my crotch, that stuff keeps dropping out; turning all my whitey-tighties into some kind of funky red-orange shag-rug. Not that I’m complaining. Better to loose it down town than up town, right? I mean, who really needs it down there, anyway? Now if only I could get my back hair to take a cue from my pubic hair…

“This Is A Red Line Train To Howard”

The sleeping bag that turns out to be a little boy sleeping against his father. A: Consider his situation. B: I can’t. A: Exactly . A very little girl watches me watch a young co-ed rise from her seat and end up at a set of sliding doors. This very little girl reads my mind and spits out the words I no-way would ever say: “You’re very pretty.” The co-ed giggles but doesn’t thank the little girl for the complement. The cell phone that rings like a rotary phone. Swearing at her children for swearing. (Giggle, giggle, giggle) A: Are you flirting with me? B: Just that .

At The Mall

Watching her watching me watching her fold lingerie.