Tuesday, December 17, 2013

sleep city burst

At this hour James is always asleep. His eyes shuttered, quite turned off to the world at large. Or even this small slice right outside his precious windows: a sleepy dreary conflation of whispers and muffled screams, yes, I opened the windows, the guttural and bellicose rushing along hand in hand with the silly spillage of the drunken revelers, fully insistent in the their obstinate foolishness, one might feel compelled to name their determined plodding Faith, a stupid label but indeed handy and easy, and who really cares what labels get chosen and slapped on at this hour.

Yes, this night is lovely. A steady stream of vehicles on the interstate and little else moves. Ten thousand lights shimmer, a ghastly descriptor but that is what lights do, and these shimmering lights are everywhere, in whatever direction the head turns, so many little candles burning, maybe each a separate story or life, maybe each a disappointment burning only from habit. The revelers don't care and they very much have it right. A few gropes and a noisy stumble > idle rumination.

By the time James makes his way to this seat in the morning the page will have been turned. His stick people will be running about under the full illumination he so despises. Lately he can't even look at them, the light too bright, unless it is to perish one. But that is his business and his worry and for tomorrow or such time as he picks up his struggle again. It should be reported the only hole in this evening's spectacular picture is the two plus city blocks that James has labeled his cemetery. It can not be seen this evening, no lights shimmer nearby to illuminate, it is void, null, empty, as much imaginary as anything else, as far as can be proven it is in James's head only, his special resting place a blight to all of the loveliness that surrounds. Someone should wake him the fuck up.    

Sunday, December 15, 2013

discarded M

She claimed that I rebuked her. A deal breaker, in my book. Irrefutable evidence of a weak mind or weak spirit, one or the other. Such a very disturbing turn of events. Life's ebbs and flows remain such mystery. And what I said was not a rebuke, not nearly a rebuke. It was so not a rebuke that I will merely tell of it and not show it. In fact I will never show it and after today will not speak of it. It was, at best, or at worst, a gentle admonition. A gentle gentle admonition. What is less? More like a verbal jostle. Damn it already, it was almost a caress. At the extreme end of acceptable misinterpretation it was but the faintest reminder that on a good day - implied: containing a good audience - I can speak and wink simultaneously. What low form would deprive me this small pleasure? Who would gladly retain the fierce pleasure a wrestle with the tiger provides while simultaneously seeking redress for every scratch and bruise? 

So M is no more. And that is that. Returned to sender, adieu adieu adieu. And while I feel fully comfortable with this course of action - it was certainly correct, in the way that an early roll of 3,1 played to make your opponent's 5 point is always, irrefutably correct, for a thousand years correct and for eternity correct, at least until they change the rules of backgammon, do not ever second guess this decision, no matter the outcome, no matter the gains or losses, look elsewhere for your weakness. And I will lay claim to weakness here. Two to tango, tangle, and all that. Know that I am quite aware of this weakness and will seek to shore it up in the coming weeks and months. Have, in fact, already begun a series of repairs that ought provide serious bounty. But that is just gossip today, better to wait until it is news. And more importantly, it is disrespectful to the lady just ended to be whispering about her replacement.  

A revelation: she thought me funny. At one time she thought me so very funny. Rip roar funny. Guffaw funny. Sublime funny. So she said. More than once. Often. Quite often. To the point of discomfort, eventually. Will she laugh? Smile at least? Grin? And what would M say now? Do I remain funny or have I been re-categorized? And if M no longer considers me funny, then am I no longer funny? Who else thinks me funny? Maybe M would say wry or dry but no longer fly? And what of all the funny words I gave to her, my funny words, my very best material - have they been crumbled and tossed into the fireplace, sent into the ashen oblivion that gathers all but the very best of words? Or have they been stored in the dark dank cellar closet, next to the wash room where she keeps the baited rat trap?

Bye, sweet M.  Jokers are a dime a dozen. You'll find another one soon enough. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

growing daisies

It is dreary, dull outside of James's window this morning. Two stickmen walk in opposite directions: one approaching and one departing: a wry cosmic insistence felt like the peck of a kiss on the second cheek: it is not affection, it is custom. And neither stick fellow quakes or shivers or pauses so we will see nothing here this morning.

Of course this is not true. One need only look and something will be seen. And eyes can be closed if that is what is needed to improve the picture. The mind has so many windows in. Yes, even more than the fifty six James has on the first floor. But I am guessing here. Not about the fifty six. They have been counted.

The vacant lot is no longer vacant. And it is wrong to label it a lot - it is much larger. Two full city blocks. Plus maybe a little more. And this morning the vacant lot is no longer the scorched earth referred to in an earlier post. It is no longer an affront or an assault. The grass is full and the terrain almost rolling. It is open, without the clutter of benches and sidewalk, so children might run and play and fall and roll around and giggle and laugh. An older gentleman could walk his dog easily across the expanse, plenty for the dog to sniff and discover, a decent enough oak waiting in the southeastern corner for shade or to lean against should the gentleman need pause.

Yet the grass appears greener than is natural come December. There is some withering, some pale blotches, some concession to the cycle of cool cold warm hot. But it is not my imagination that this lot is greener than most, almost bursting with green. Such a spectacle, contrasted against the dreary dull gray backdrop, the almost foggy skyline. The pale charred buildings and lifeless pavement. The occasional tick of life nothing but a crawl, less than a crawl, like the most languid insect. It seems as if today the Great Usurer has decided He will have the settings on Low. And then He decided on lower, for good measure. His humor in these matters exquisite as always.

And so I am left to think: whatever came before this lovely green lot, whatever was knocked down and excavated - such excavation that yes, I was grieving not so long ago, railing against even - whatever was lost, was fair price. At least by my measure, at least this very morning. Tomorrow may return a differing opinion. But right this very minute I question whether I ever might feel more enthralled with such ordinary scenery.

Forgive me but I just now realize what this lovely green lot most reminds of: cemetery, sans tombstones. Of course. That would explain the unnatural greenness, which, even though now exposed, I remain fond of. Perhaps more fond now than before. Even if it is trickery, so what? Trickery does not fully define this lovely green picture any more than vacant defined it before. It remains green oasis amongst all of this unnatural death and desolation, among this forever frightful black and white cartoon, this insistent gray horizon. So the green is appreciated. And as much as I piss and moan when feeling slighted, I have to admit it is damned decent of the Old Fuck to drop my resting place right into plain view. The less than subtle reminder. Is rejoinder better? Enjoinder? Genius, Sir. Pure fucking genius. Maybe I will start referring to Him as the Great Comedian. The (hysterically) Funny One. So many choices, but for another time. Look out the window. Look. Each look more enthralling. My green. My green place. My lovely green cemetery. Oh, my.


Friday, December 6, 2013

spent sent

The Stegner application got sent out on Sunday night. December 1st, the deadline. I putzed with it all weekend. Rewriting. Revising. Lopping and chopping. Adding a bit here and there. Fretting. Reading and rereading and rereading. I was very tired come eleven o'clock Sunday evening.

What I take from the experience:

The work I sent was good, very good in spots. But likely not good enough. I'm okay with that. The Statement of Plans that I sent them blew. Absolutely blew. Surely they will sit around in a circle and read the worst ones they come across and just as surely mine will make that cut. I would bet money on it. A considerable sum of money. Every time I rewrote that thing it got worse. And I hadn't thought to save the pre-edited versions until I was on about the 15th revision. So it got exponentially worse to a degree I can't even fathom. What is so fucking hard about saying "I want to do X because of Y, and oh btw, here's a bit about me"? Will somebody please remind me of that next November?

But come Sunday, deadline day, I did go at it very hard. I pushed. And pushed on and through the noise and fatigue. Part of me was okay with just calling off the dogs, but no, I decided I wanted this, so I fought through, I competed. Yes, I competed. I have truly forgotten what that felt like. It used to be second nature, a daily occurrence. No more. It has been a long time since I have tried for something.

And I realized afterward: when did I stop competing? when did I decide it was okay for me to be just another guy? an ordinary guy. a listless go nowhere lame ass mofo. when did I decide I wasn't good enough to get anything I wanted?

And I realized afterward: I like the old me much better than this other one. I must compete again.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

a not so grim Ouroboros does feast

It was her idea to take a walk. It was late evening I was tired and would have preferred just sit. But I saw her look of expectation, exploration, and I quickly built some enthusiasm. Sure. Let's walk to by the Alamo. By where we used to feed the pigeons? We used to, she said. We.  And we + activity. And this she remembered. Fondly. And now wishing to revisit. Me lately feeling like a phantom, a shadow, those words pleased. Me lately walking unsteadily between  is   was   might be. Me lately feeling a constant drain, a siphon, and thus the inclination to rest, to sleep, because of the toll of such roads just listed. And then, Where we used to. Such a rush.

Too many memories move away from me. They lose distinction, detail. Diminished vibrancy. Imprinting new ones has become difficult. A chore. A task. I fear friends think I do not listen closely because I often can't recall a detail they gave me a month ago. A week ago. Yesterday. I appreciate the kindness when they choose to just tell me again. But there do remain those memories that bring pleasure. A great fondness. This point in time was Real and it was Good. Such memories have become inviolate. A grounding of my existence. It is possible I visit them too often to the detriment of now. The miser always stacking and arranging and admiring his coins. I am not blind to this possibility. But I must have them.

I find it jarring then when my memories of times with others have faded for them. They recall vaguely. Sure, they say. Politely not saying, What's the point? Why do you bring this up now? The vacant look that compels me to question have I even existed to them before this moment? To make me want to flee from them, or retreat from the whole world of people and forgetting. Quit this uneven game. To complete the forgetting before I start to count all of the times I must have disappointed to receive such zero in return. All things in balance. It is the only certainty.

I remember sitting with N at the coffee shop that used to be at Bitters and West Avenue. That place gone so many years now. We're sitting at a little table on the tiny patio, maybe three or four little tables total, the choice of outside a concession to my smoking habit that she despised. "I just can't wait for the other shoe to drop," she tells me. "The pain of the wait is so much worse than the result of the drop." I had never heard such a thing before. She explains that she would rather knock the shoe down herself than endure the suffering of waiting for its inevitable fall. All shoes fall had been her experience. In this particular scenario she had recently decided to end a relationship, by all accounts a good relationship, because she was just too terrified of him leaving. Or him changing, becoming a dick. This lesson of dropping shoes she taught me too well that day. Later I would be the one to knock the shoe down. N's shoe. A deep and full regret. How can I ever overlap memories with N now?

"Do you remember all the pigeons here?" She didn't say that when we made it to Alamo Plaza but I don't care because I could tell by how she looked around it was familiar to her in a way that pleased her and thus pleased me.  She remembered me and her and this place and equated it with Good. We may have been equally pleased with our reminisce. I was happy, in the moment.

The first story I wrote was called Mr. Kindresol. It was born as much as written and none since have ever come out like it. I had gotten my first writing desk maybe a week earlier, from Goodwill for twenty bucks, and it just sat there in my bedroom with its vast writing surface and its drawers that I had populated with pens and pencils and notebooks. I was still in the process of looking for a deal on a typewriter. And then one night, about 3 AM, I woke and said to myself, I must sit at that desk and write this story. I had work the next day and needed the sleep but the pull was so strong I could not in good conscience ignore it. And I knew I would be unable to fall back to sleep. So write I did. Got it all in that one sitting. Boy, was I pleased. So pleased I didn't know what to do.

D, the singer/poet/song writer had me come over and read it to him. In my excitement I butchered a couple of spots and he didn't hide his displeasure. "I certainly wouldn't pay to hear you read," he told me. His voice was exquisite - rich resonant kind firm worldly - and I would have paid to hear him read. "Write another story, right away," he told me when I finished reading. Huh? You like it, right? WTF. "Look, I know lots of guys that wrote a story once. Or a song, ten or twenty years ago. Or they wrote a poem that they can recite to you at the fucking bar when they're getting blasted on any given lonely night. Write another story. Right away. Don't get attached to that one. Don't be that asshole at the bar."

After the coffee and N teaching me about the weight of suspended shoes we went to Slick Willie's. She was awful in pool but insisted she loved it. I humored her. To me it's no fun when the objective is fun. Excellence is the only fun objective. N didn't see it that way. And after pool we sat outside on the parking lot curb, the coffee shop had closed, and she went over story number two line by line, her reading it aloud a sentence at a time, then pausing to offer praise and criticism in the most gentle manner I have ever known. I was so uncertain about the reaches I had taken in that 2nd story that I had been afraid to show it to anyone. But now, watching N read it so slowly with such care and concern, but then erupting into laughter, so full and outlandish, so genuine, me not understanding but trusting, having to trust, who could think to invent this? We sat under the street lamp on the curb for more than an hour. N devoted to my words thoughts ideas feelings. My art. How is it possible to grasp the suddenness of experience, the newness, the absolute mind fucking blowing shock? So, quite obviously, after N gave me perhaps the greatest hour plus of my life she turned into a shoe.

For a long time I thought I could write her back into my life. If I wrote something smashing enough then the writer in her would compel her other self to forgive me and then she would come back. It would be awkward at the first but then we would pick up not far from where we left off. Well, we can't know about how well that might have worked because the smashing part hasn't got done. But, in a manner, she has come back. As other memories retreat, recede, fade, she by default is pushed ever closer. More to the front now. More properly displayed now. Prominent. And I remember now her voice, the frankness (she loved to say, Fuck, not for the shock value of the word but for the sound of it; the abrupt ending pleased her almost to hysteria when she was in one of those moods). And now she reminds me that she's been here the whole while. Do you remember the coffee place over by Bitters and West, at the very end of the strip center, I ask her and before the words are even out I regret giving them voice. I don't want to know her answer. It will just kill me if she doesn't remember the night I resolved to wreck everything.