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Ha! The next month's batch is at last available on the first of the month, and I feel a mixture of excitement and hesitation. Am I ready to commit to another month of writing 100 words a day? I planned to do it the last couple of months, but didn't, due to a technical error. Making up the last 10 days (when the month was available) wasn't worth it. Now, I feel naked. Unsure of what the month will bring and how it will look next year. But there's so many thoughts and so little time. Need to set goals.
Kate was on the end of the dock, writing down whatever came to her mind amidst the sussurus of the wind, brushing the wreeds, the branches of the forest behind. She mostly remembered how disorganized it felt to be with him, and how he never seemed to change. The last picture she took with him in it featured him walking down the boardwalk, the sun glistening off his baldness. How do I get involved? Was always his unfocused compulsion, one for which she no longer wanted to indulge. Leaning over the rail, the seaweed were sulfurous columns hugging the pillars.
Mannequins. Some without a face, some in shiny black or blue plastic, some lacking appendages. All of them strike a shocking pose. I actually miss the Mannequins of the 1980's because they looked so real back then. Nowadays it's all about energy, intent, duplication, jump starting the economy. I hadn't been to the big mall in town in over 6 months, so I gradually had to ease into the atmosphere. Lost salesman, multi-faceted kiosks, clothing stores, undulating echoes, ostentatious decor, loud-mouth advertising. And somewhere, faint memories of walking through malls in Florida like sun glinting off white marble.
I didn't hear from him today. My phone didn't vibrate, or chime indicating a new text message had arrived, containing his random thoughts. I remember when we were forced to take a dirt road somewhere along our journey, which turned out to be just as aimless as his choice of words. Only the ice scraper was preventing his glove compartment from collapsing at my feet, so I provided additional support. He was uncomfortable with the silence, so he provoked me. For someone so extremely laid back, which I would characterize you as.. but it was then that I finally blew.
Stopped at my dad's house after work to drop off a book about army snipers. He invited me out to dinner, so I turned off the coffee pot. I had started it not so much for the taste, but for the process of putting water into the machine and scooping coffee grounds into the filter. I wanted to feel at home again. At the restaurant, we spoke over shish-kabob. I told him I'm not speaking to my friend, and I imagined (hoped) my dad would be satisfied, but he never knew him, never knew me to have any friends.
Ashley was recently promoted, so she left my work area. She's tall and of African descent, somewhere in her mid twenties. Laid back to a fault, she wears her heart on her sleeve and is very cool and professional with customers and co-workers alike. She calmly provided answers, sometimes chuckling spontaneously. I visited her today, tucked away in an office she shared with another call reviewer, looking lonely. She asked if I was having fun 'back over there' and sported the new purple gel wrist supports she bought, cracking up when I asked if it was a company benefit.
I always thought I had more journals that I actually do. There's only about 5 notebooks that are completely full. Reminding myself of this turned into an arduous process while going through the nightstand in the corner of my walk-in closet. Arduous because doing so requires more time than what's available to me in a work night. In addition to the 5 notebooks, there are folders with old emails, typed essays, a middle school yearbook, college newspapers, notebooks with only a dozen pages of entries and/or random poems. I can't throw anything out, of course. It defines me.
My car's headlights lit up the road of the subdivision ahead. Everything else was a dark object against the muted, blue sky. I could smell, and envision my youth: fresh, clean air with hints of pine, freshly mown lawn, rose. Running innocently down the sidewalk, my figure passing beneath a yellow streetlamp. The music from Batman soundtracks. Traffic passed from both directions in such a way that I awaited the left turn out of the subdivision for a couple of minutes. When I lurched out onto the road, the memory faded slowly, the boil tapered-leaving me tired, but independent.
I opted for the Wishy Washy Car Wash, just as cars on the main road began turning on their headlights in response to the encroaching twilight. The place had four bays with peeling yellow and white paint, and an equal number of chrome shop vacs behind them. I scooped out $5 worth of quarters from one of the change slots, set next to a vending machine filled with a variety of Little Tree air fresheners and miniature spray bottles. The air was humid, with the smell of peppermint-scented foam wafting out of the brush. The cool mist felt good.
This morning I was driving around, trying to find a diner that wasn't too crowded. My trek took me on a meandering course through downtown and back. I continued south of my apartment, toward the new nature trail. I was confident I would find a place before trail's head. No such luck. I stopped at a nearby McDonald's before my hike, filled with screaming children and a 10-minute line, wearing a fake smile for my own protection. After eating, I explored the new trail, rich with thistle and young buzzing wasps, circling. Forehead slick with real sweat driving home.
Cory anxiously awaited her arrival. The muted colors of pink and blue on the collapsible partition suggested a sunset over the water. Behind it, Cory could make out the tips of a lush plant of some kind. He jumped slightly at the hiss of the doors. "Good evening, Cory," Diana said, making her way to the couch in front of him. "How are you?" "It's one of those days," Cory said. "You?" "I hear you," Diana replied. "That seems to be the general mood I'm getting from everyone today." She smiled as her chocolate brown eyes discreetly measured his mood.
"Well, you don't have to take it out on me," Counselor Diana said abruptly.
"But I didn't say anything," Cory said.
"You don't have to," Carrie replied. "It's written all over you--discomfort, hesitation, irritability."
The counselor shifted her position on the end of the couch ever so slightly, keeping her hands crossed perfectly on her knee.
"I'm sorry, I don't know where this is going," Cory replied, wiping the sweat off his brow.
Diana smiled, brushing a lock of curled black hair off her shoulder.
"No, I'm sorry. Lets just catch our breath."
When she calls, she always makes a big deal out of the most insignificant background noises: the squeak of the bathroom door, the clang of silverware, the distant sound of the train. Sometimes, it's not even safe to breathe without her pausing to ask "What is that? Is someone over?" I usually reply with where the sound originated from and tell her that I'm alone. So she starts hunting and pecking for words again, trying to describe something small that I already understand. I want to tell her that it's ok, I know what you're going through; without sounding indifferent.
It's like looking at the big picture through a camera lens and patiently waiting for it to focus. It's recalling all of the little things and putting them together: the turning points, the snap decisions, the unforeseen consequences, the mysterious health issues, the faithful explorations. I need to be able to put my finger on a map and trace the direct routes, the twists and turns, all of the steps taken. My biggest fear is losing the ability to do that. Losing the desire to do so comes in at a close second. I've reached a place--challenging my perceptions.
After college, when I moved to my grandma's house in Tampa, I adjusted to the culture shock quite well. I didn't waste any time; couldn't bear to waste any time. I didn't have my computer yet, and being it was a few years before the smart phone era, I did what I had to do. I took out a phone book and looked for gay bars. Found a place called the Rainbow Room. I went there, and was greeted by a lesbian couple who escorted me to the larger gay bar in town. But now. What is taking so long?
The small living space was empty, not even the little dog was there. The soft glow from the Tiffany lamp revealed an opened jewelry box by the couch. I imagined my mom getting ready for a night out with the older folk downstairs. Maybe someone was playing the piano or singing. Curiously, all of the pills I filled earlier were gone, indicating that she might have planned to stay out late. There was some muted feature from the Weather Channel on the large flat screen. I figured I shouldn't be there, but it was comforting to see her going out.
The trading ship encountered unexpectedly rough seas in the expanse. Captain Xavier's temperament adjusted to the sudden onslaught of water and wind. "We're losing structural integrity, sir," Avery said.
"Well there's not much we can do about that, can we?" he barked. "I need solutions not statements of the obvious."
"Sir, if I can locate the right carrier wave through the disturbance, we could signal for help," Pollick said. "Get to it," he said. "Evacuation may be the only option." "Unless," Avery said. "Unless we allow sections BC to flood we might be able to retain our integrity."
Living room is dark, a swath of light from the bathroom plays across the floor, illuminating a multiphasic shadow of myself behind the laptop. I just closed all the windows and switched on the air. It's hot. It was one of those days when I didn't even acknowledge the fact that it was Monday, and only lost my cool with a couple of advertisers on the phone who were already irate. A brief rainstorm hit this afternoon outside the office windows, everyone whooped to an especially loud crackle of thunder. Visited my dad afterward for a couple of hours, comforting.
The forward momentum in the bus tugged at me as I pushed forward and collapsed into one of the nearest window seats. The air conditioning was loud, not unlike a walk in. A sudden stop at the campus transit center brought in a rush of more passengers, along with the subsequent beep of each of the student's bus passes. I needed a moment, so got off, figuring I could catch a later bus. I walked half a mile with a Buddhist magazine in tow, my unbuttoned shirt billowing in the hot breeze, until I was ready to continue my routine.
Cory and Diana sat evaluating each other before Cory broke the silence.
"Look, Diana, no offense, but I have work to do. I don't have the luxury of watching you withdraw emotional responses from me, so you can dissect each of them."
"Good, that's what I needed to hear. There's been some concern that the stress is affecting your life."
Diana sat back on the couch and took out her pocket mirror, puffing her lips distractedly.
"So am I free to go?"
"Of course, I don't want to make you feel uncomfortable."
I left the apartment, locking the door from the inside. There was a click, and with that I closed the screen door gently, so it wouldn't slam. Almost immediately, I was in the enclosed landing, walking down the creaky steps. The dusty morning sun made its way through the window, and the small gaps between the push doors downstairs. I no longer questioned which door would lead me to my car fastest. In the driver seat, it smelled musky, sweet and smoky around the edges. It was my dad's odor that I remembered from growing up. Only now it's mine.
The gas station opposite my apartments comes complete with a coin-operated, automatic car wash. There's the Deluxe was for $3.00, Super for $5.00 and The Works for $6.00. Why not name them Good, Better and Best for convenience sake? Folding in my rear view mirrors, another car was approaching, so I'd need to figure this out fast. All I'd needed to do was stop in the middle while an overhead sprayed down my car. The rough spots were still on my car afterward; a few minutes of research said I'd need to buy some clay bars.
Dark garage, cigarette smoke, white hair, beer, moods, bad backs. Back at my dad's house with 3 uncles up and my dad's best friend and his girlfriend, all chatting excitedly about this and that. The driveway was full with cars, the evening was making its way into the air. Talking about golf, the latest and greatest things. I was dispirited before I showed up, but left feeling like I had met a social need. As if I was being told that when I left the house I forgot to prioritize that one thing. One uncle was badgering me about life.
They were given no more attention than the manner in which a single feather touches upon a stream of bubbles. Being new to Lorenzo's Landing meant earning other's consideration, whether through personal or professional means, and no one knew that better than Jethro, the new overseer of the moon colony. The space where he watched the new citizens enter the warehouse reminded him of the SkySuites in Sanford Stadium, only there were no lavish furnishings and family members around in good spirits. No, just the hum of machinery around him, the dusty floors and the smell of stale coffee grounds.
I had an unusual day, spent trying to make up for the hours of sleep I missed last night. Come 4am there was no question: I was going to call off work. And I did, but not before going through the motions of showering, coffee, leaving. I let my boss know I was having car trouble while I had the key in the ignition. The remainder was spent making marginal improvements to my personal life. Dreaming about slamming doors on the north side of a freeway through the mountain, taking pictures of a statue, and my friends Barry and Marius.
I did some writing tonight, two hours worth to be exact. But it wasn't free form. Most of it was spent making sure the punctuation was just right, wondering if the conversations sounded forced or natural, wondering if my story was practical or even worth writing. I like science fiction, but all of it can't be based in pure fantasy, especially when you get down to talking about pressure suits, drilling machines and elements. Next time I will just need to write continuously and come back and edit later. But writing continuously is hard work and I'm out of practice.
I got off the bus at the hospital today, found my way up to Kyla's room with little trouble. It seems as long as you have the name of the person, security doesn't care who you are: you could be the uncle, the boyfriend's brother, the best friend, whatever. As long as they can snap a burnt-looking picture of you for their data base. The sight of my brother around his new baby was a repeat of the scene about 2 years ago. A part of me wanted to hold on to the past, recalling cleaning empty doctor's offices.
"It'd probably be quicker to just to take her down to the concession stand and grab a chili dog there--instead of putting in another order I mean." Jethro's tone suggested that it was half a question.
His father stopped chewing. The light coming in through the window of the stadium's SkySuite glinted off his fork, making the utensil appear magical.
Jethro waited, and saw the non verbal gesture--a roll of the shoulder, before he went back to entertaining the various executives. Jethro accepted the outstretched bill and grabbed Marian's hand.
"Don't linger, son," he heard.
Quiet. Relax your breathing, and let everything you feel just fall through your fingers like sand. It could all happen as seamlessly as the air flows through the vents. Hold onto the blanket if that's what gives you comfort now, and know that it won't always be this way, that it won't always affect you this way. No one is or ever will be to blame. Things come and things go. The language of Buddhism is attractive and calming, and I wonder how many people become Buddhists for this reason. But it doesn't matter--enlightenment means being one with nothing.
It's funny how innocuously the research of various peppers entered my mind today. I was waking up from a brief slumber, wondering how my brother's first days at home with his new daughter were going. I imagined the exchanges in the kitchen, coffee brewing, heirloom china containing sugar, and last but not least, a spice rack by the stove, out from which came cayenne pepper. Is the word, cayenne, a proper noun or a common noun? It's an adjective I see now, and much like the Moh's harness scale, the cayenne pepper is rated 3 out of 5 in hotness.
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