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I'm lost in some weird place. Not a physical place, or spiritual place, but somewhere I'm at. Pardon my Kafka, if you will. I want out of myself, to bring something to life so you, yes, you, can say, I know what's going on, I've been lost, alone, and damned if you do, and damned if you don't. Don't we need that, to break walls we've built around who we think we are, but we're not. How much deeper do I have to dig, how much more do you and I have to give, to find us, me and you.
Hope and optimism are like full glasses of wine. We drink some each day, and then look for refills. Where, you ask. I'm not sure. I don't have the answers. I'm leery of people, mostly TV people, who say they do. No one knows. Hope comes and goes. Some days we're optimistic and others pessimistic, that whole perspective of the glass half empty or half full. Here's my two cents. Find a long stretch of country road, and walk. Walk for miles, and then turn around and walk back, and if you haven't found what you're looking for, keep walking.
June 3, 2004 I am a reluctant sort. Reluctant to accept the good, it's not good enough, and the bad, I need to control, push it away, deny, deny, deny, and think, this isn't supposed to happen, and why is this happening? I want to be less reluctant, open to good and bad. Today's reluctant musings can be seen as redundant, because what the fuck, aren't we supposed to be perfect, isn't that achievement. Don't tell me differently. I don't want to hear it. I'm reluctant to hear about it. Hear about the myth of perfection. I bet even you think you're perfect.
While out walking, on a spring evening, under the full moon, and night blossoms fragrant and wet, he talked. Each step was a word; each word filled him with existence. Afraid to shut his mouth for fear he'd become invisible, he kept at it, his mouth flapping while we walked around the lake. When we'd started our walk, the sky was the color of flight. Let me explain. The color of flight is, while driving to the airport at five in the morning, a deep dark blue. Silence is the one word he's yet to master. His footsteps are fine.
One hundred words come and go. Start a sentence about a woman in the Sunday paper, who is confined to a wheelchair. She'd been shot while out on a family errand. A good woman. The gunman is at large. She can no longer do simple things, like picking something off the floor. Backspace over the sentence, the curser ridding the page of it, letter by letter. Pause. Rethink. Start a sentence about a woman in the Sunday paper, who's confined to a wheelchair. She'd been shot while out on a family errand. A good woman. The gunman is at large.
Whatever became of whatever? The day's end twists thoughts around. Would I think these things come morning? Plan on rising early to catch a glimpse of Venus. Wondering why and why not. In-between logical thoughts of something about something, or whatever, come the turns and worries and whys and sighs and afraid to let the day end without something. Sometimes I can't begin to make sense of it all, of the big picture, of lives and living, death and dying. I want it all laid out. I want to know, or do I? Day by day, kiddo, day by day.
What makes a good story? Fishnet stockings? Cleavage? Or a handsome man with a cleft chin? Language? Others say the plot. I won't find out in one hundred words. But even this is a bit of the puzzle. A tiny shred of movement forward to a larger work, is it not? This adding and adding of words to this and to that, this challenge that I can for one full month muse about anything and all the time I'm moving, moving, forward. The work of writing is difficult and solitary. It's a minefield of rejection – irreprehensible as it may be.
Deliberate. I like the word. We all need to be more deliberate in our day-to-day lives. How does that sound? Since you're asking me, it's fine. Go ahead, copy, paste, and submit. Do it. It has a nice ring to it. If someone is mean, they say it was a deliberate act. If someone is nice, they marvel that someone could be nice. Nice is a two-bit word with no cache. I can take it or leave it. It's one of those superlatives we need now and then. It has its place in the lexicon. I'll take deliberate any day.
driving by the cemetery, the remains are headstones and a sign on the gate welcomes you to strawberry social and you'll attend. past the cemetery, keep driving, you'll drive through a section of town with with with, and some without without without. and what you see no one else notices, its for you for you for you to take and do something something with or not and in the middle of town someone's built a town square and a fountain and scaffolding up for big lights for a band to play and even anyone can understand free music. even i.
In as much as I'd like to be happy, it's my right after all, I'm not, and I'm okay with it. I'm not happy in this one hundred-word minute, but after the final period is in place, who knows, I might feel happy. I'm okay with either or, dark or light, minute or second, of this life because why not. These mind-range ramblings release the pent up pressure of words and images and meanings, and free me from it all. Got that. The phone rang and took me away, and now I'm back and continuing with the unhappiness. Still. Still.
Humid nights bring to mind full breasted woman, round pear shaped woman and their pleasures and their wounds, their suffering at having been born large, or grown large, unlike woman the size of daughters, or woman like boy with no curves, flat chested, hipless, beguiling with their wit, sharp and angular like they. The kind of man to love large woman is a pained creature, insecure at best and wanting too much of what the world has to offer, taking and not giving not even to his woman, believing she has too much already. Such men are thin and bald.
Thought of this and that and nothing. Learning to let go of thoughts is like learning to fly a kite. Some thoughts leave you grounded, and you have to wait a long time for a good wind so you can fly your kite. Other thoughts can drag you around by the neck and choke and immobilize you. Try your damndest not to believe those, even though it's your own brain that's telling you crap, and sometimes you know better than to believe it and sometimes you don't. That's when you go running, hunting, for a wind so you can fly.
Road trip, North Bay to Steubenville. Sleep the day, til dusk. Wear jeans, faded and shredded. Throw stuff into the cooler, beer, pop, a couple of sandwiches. Lock the door. Climb down three flights of stairs. Walk around the corner to the car. Get in and drive. Stop in at Little Louie's. Drink beers. Wait for little Tishy. Say, ‘let's go.' Stop by her place. Rev the engine while she throws on a pair of jeans, faded and shredded at the knees. On a deserted stretch of old road listen to Dino croon. Cross the muddied Ohio river at sunrise.
Think. Read. Think. Or rather think with my fingertips, and run them along the keyboard and laugh about what comes to mind. Censor at will, or else who knows what thoughts run amok about this and that and the other. Can't walk past a bookstore, can't drive past a bookstore, without stopping. Old books with musty yellow pages that have been hidden in someone's garage come out for air, all those great stories of grand people doing grand things and of displaced farmers and pirates and forbidden things. Is anything now forbidden, or was it ever? Do pirates still exist?
Drive safe and come back to me. Godspeed, I should have said. Twenty-four hours from now, or maybe twenty-six, twenty-eight perhaps, depending on road conditions and who is tired and who is not. With four of them taking turns driving that's about six hours each. A six-hour stretch is still a stretch, hypnotic white lines race by saying almost there, one line closer, almost. Pull into a gas station at three or four in the morning, although to the travelers in the back seat, it's still night, and to the person keeping the driver company, soon a chance to sleep.
Are you ready to eat now? Yeah, sure. Wine? No. Here's the bread. Slice some tomatoes; add salt, onions sliced thin, olives, green and black, splash of olive oil, and bits of garlic. Cut the bread. Cut me the heel of the bread, it's good for dipping. What else? Water? No. Napkins. Cloth or paper? Paper. What else? Forks and knives would be good. Should we eat out of the bowl? No. Plates. Paper or china? China. Gold rimmed, flat, or brown bowls, the bowls you bought in Arizona? The bowls. They hold the heat. They feel like desert sand.
What is it about life that ties you up, ties you down? Remember sitting in the back row, my notebook a mess. Remember loving someone and loving no one. Incidents at the time so bleak, and so blah, blah. What the hell are you talking about anyway, and who cares? Everyone has incidents, will have incidents, and they'll wear them well, like old soldiers. Some will talk about them. Some will keep secrets and some will brush them away like they're specks of nothing, and others will treat them like gold and carry them all the days of their lives.
Paper and words are thoughts and insights and provocation of the norm, and every word counts towards that greater thing the writer is trying to achieve. Even, as, or, and, but add importance to the thought the person is wanting to convey. Whatever, even if someone wrote, whatever, whatever, whatever, it could be deemed as poetry and it could reach out and touch someone. Someone we don't even know. Imagine that. Maybe the person uses the word, like whatever, or as he's walking away from his wife, he says, ‘whatever,' because she's bugged him too many times. Yeah, whatever. There
Crimes against the self occur minute-by-minute. Take a moment to check self. What are you thinking? Something positive, or negative, is it hateful or does it love? Testing, Testing, Testing, one, two, three. Drink too much, eat too much, hate too much, think nothing of yourself, de-value your own being, and who you are, well, aren't they all crimes? Smoking. Spending too much, too little. Giving nothing, giving it all away. How can you hold on to the middle ground, when daily we're falling off the edge? I'd like to know. Or maybe we're not meant to know. Go figure.
Assembly required. I've tried to fix her, but she won't bend. Says there's nothing wrong with her. I've tried to fix him, but he stays upright all the time. I'm tired of trying to fix all the hims and hers so they'll be like me, perfection. I want the hims and hers to think like me. This is starting to sound like some kind of song that's even been recorded and the artist has gone platinum, singing about people who need, want, fixing. The artist has added a one eight hundred number so fans can call in and request fixings
She dances. Holds on tight. Fears losing her heart to that fine man, the way they used to make them, fierce and strong. He dances too. Pulls her closer. Wants her to understand how much he wants her. His heart is ready to jump and land in her hands. All he has to do is unbutton his suit jacket, and show his thumping heart. I told you, he was a fine man. Only fine men wear suit jackets and ties on summer days, and stay cool. They're cool, man. Find me one, and one for yourself, and one for him.
When I walk in, Bern is behind the counter. ‘Okay,' Bern says, ‘I've caught my second wind, who is next?' Everyone looks from one to the other to the other, and no one wants to step forward. ‘Better speak up, loudly' Bern says, ‘or I'll choose one of you.' Some customers walk out the door. Three remain. One of them steps forward. A young man about twenty-eight or thirty. It's hard to tell his age. He isn't a teenager, that's for sure. His composure is confident. He orders a baguette sandwich with ham, cheese and Brie. I wait my turn.
She gave me a list of her favorite books in no particular order. I've yet to read the books on her list. She's listed one hundred and fifty books, and keeps asking me which I've read. She has another list with two hundred more titles. I'm frustrated trying to keep up. I tell her. She says, ‘it's easy enough, read one word at a time. I have more books for you.' Doesn't a truck pull up the day after tomorrow and deliver more books. The phone rings. It's her. I won't answer. She'll want to know if I'm finished reading
Why do men riding bicycles carry cats or small dogs on their shoulders? Why do people run from the rain? I knew a man who never ran from the rain. He loved it. Tilted his face up and drenched himself with every raindrop. He hated days without rain. Couldn't stand them. He had a son and called him Rain. Took Rain by the hand and tried to teach the boy to let the rain fall on him. The boy hated the rain. They could never see eye to eye. The son thought the man a great fool for wanting rain.
I don't have a bicycle, but if I had one, I'd be the midnight rider. Riding at midnight to have the streets to myself. I'd ride down side streets, because most families live on side streets, and they all have to be in bed by ten o'clock because they get up around five or six. Maybe I have a bicycle and I don't want to tell you about the shiny spokes and the black grip on the handlebars, because then you might come and take it away from me, and you'd become the midnight rider. You'd take my job. Thief!
Alison liked Michael. She dated him for about three years. There was talk of marriage. Michael lived on a houseboat. Alison didn't mind, though in the winter it could get cold. Alison cheated on Michael. She never told him about her affair. He never found out. They never married. Michael broke it off. Said something wasn't right between them, but he couldn't say what it was. They're still friends. Michael is dating someone else. Her name is Annie. Alison and Annie have become good friends. Alison tells Annie about her affair while she was seeing Michael. Will Annie tell Michael?
A man with yellow wrap-around sunglasses is out walking a Husky dog. They stop at a small parkette. The dog howls in pain. People run out of their houses to ask what's wrong with the dog. The man says other dogs running around the schoolyard attacked the dog's leg. When the man walks away, no one believes his story. He looks like a shifty-eyed man, hiding behind those yellow sunglasses. While the people are standing around saying they don't like the man because he's thin and shifty, they hear the dog howl again. No one knows where the man lives.
A swath of moonlight draped the water. I could see it from the clearing, where I stood, atop a hill. White cloth draped on the water, rippling and breathing. Seamless reams of white light washing to the shore. At that moment I wanted to be a poet and describe the full moon. Hasn't every poet? I stood and admired the water and after a while I imagined myself falling into the water, being bathed by the light. I stood mesmerized, afraid to turn and leave the moon behind. I stayed till dawn, and then decided it was time for sleep.
She waits for the church bell to ring. The villagers are older than she remembered. She's a fortunate one. Plucked and transported to another place with busy highways and telephones. No use looking at her watch. The good priest rings the bell when he's ready. Her watch has stopped. It understands the villagers pace. She does not. When the bell rings, she'll know it's time to walk down to the town square, and perhaps the small store will be open and she can buy something for dinner. Perhaps the storekeeper will not want to open today; such is his way.
He is Marlboro man in tube socks puddled around his calves. I wouldn't know he's Marlboro man, but it's written on his shirt. His friend's shirt reads Est. 1963. The friend says he has to go and walks away fast. Tube socks man wants to chew my ear. He says his girlfriend lives in that building over there. He points. It's a nice building, clean, I suppose, about five stories high, with balconies, and he says she lives up on the fifth floor. She's carrying his baby. I nod. I wouldn't have stopped, but he asked me for a cigarette.
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