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Preface. Preface. Pre-face. I had a roommate once who pronounced it that way. I'm convinced that I was the better person. But I can't explain why, and more importantly, I'm not supposed to. Why you ask? Because this is the preface preface preface.
This is where I thank all the little people who got me here, make my intellectual concessions, induce an aura of false modesty, and make excuses to detract ammo from my critics, all of whom, breathe down my neck, spit their hot foggy spite and cause this run-on, on my first day no less. My first day.
got home circa 5:15 AM to messy apartment, cluttered desk overtired. somewhere between the time jack bauer gets tasered and the russian president nearly gets shot on 24, i'm asleep on my desktop, IM on all night, lights a'blinkin. i don't stir because it's dark from the snowfall. wake up at noon (half on my keyboard, to be optimistic), get in bed to not sleep. now i'm out looking for avocadoes (spell-checked avocadoes, taxonomy name persea americana, also called alligator pear for leathery skin) completely out of season because seeing my desk now makes me sleepy and i'm cracked out.
Embanking fortune around us, into a Mediterranean swimming pool around us. Embarking embankment, dissolving into sand.
Scot-free snitching, tears sniffling from a bridge, overhand handing my hand onto the tablecloth (oh yes, with my hands), show and telling. The death knell. The heart trill. The clapping, the cat-calling, the jeering, the eyes, the tearing. The arcane fitness of the fearing, hardness of hearing, the incoherence of pre-Sabbath market madness, the frantic muzzle of the shuk, macheneh yehudah, that's right, yehudah.
Yaffo Street, the tiyelet stretch run into Arab families, co-existence, mutual disdain, old broken lovers circling the Opera House fountain.
Nina's the conservative. Beautiful divorcee, late forties, worrisome Catholic mother, she's teaching me Italian while I teach her Hebrew.
It's Oscar night and she's not going to watch. "We all know the gay movie's winning." Behind the bar, I have no political ideology. I'm a dem, libertarian, republican, left-winger, whig, tory, neo-con, whatev. But to keep my sanity, I'm devil's advocate.
It was a good story.
There are plenty of good stories. This was one about people who can't fulfill their life purpose.
To procreate, have children.
Maybe they think life's purpose is to be who you are.
See Nina. It was 'Crash' after all. A movie about the failings of humanity to overcome prejudices, sociological listlessness...the general disconnect.
So...now what? All Oscar lameness subsided, I've got nothing to write about....which is a lie. Philip Roth concludes a poignant section of American Pastoral by explaining that people dismiss the smaller, insignificant things. The unexceptional ideas, acquaintanceships filter in and out of our lives, and we forget them, their names erase and fade. We forget the things that aren't important.
But it's also true, he adds, that we forget the things that are too important as well. I've forgotten.
Maude Maggart. You still play the tickling chill as an instrument in my dreams. I know that Anne Bancroft passed, but I still want to be the baby boy who seduces the older woman. Maude's no Robinson, she's not married, she's just classy, she smiles convincingly at all my bad jokes.
She sings me to sleep without speakers, and if she had a daughter, I'd fight to marry her too. Alas, she has only a little sister, who reminds me a little too much of myself sometimes. Is that a strange thing to say?
Natalie Portman's pretty cute too though.
Emoticons are stupid. They're bad for America. I don't even get the classic ones anymore. An upgrade I didn't request endowed me with these buoyant neon faces, all selfish squirrelly faces trying to be bigger than themselves.
Conversations can't have added smileys. Stupid emoticons are the conversation, anyone typing just happens to be lucky enough to be there to see them in their artificial glory. Like I only have nine emotions anyway, my soul is a bevy of emotional versatility, why are my feelings pigeonholed to a simple nine?
Why do people who love each other lie to each other?
Ninety-six words about laundry:
Am I delicate? I feel both that, permanently pressed, sometimes white without enough colors. Trite, but that's not a cycle option, although for my wardrobe, it should be.
I probably couldn't identify Ãƒâ€šÃ¢â‚¬Ëœsummer rain' unless Tide made my clothes reek of it. I like the name Ãƒâ€šÃ¢â‚¬Ëœsummer man,' supposing it's not sexual/scatological in inference. It's cologne but more honest, a farmhand instead of a hedge-fund analyst. I like it when I smell manly, which isn't inherently bad (despite what Oxygen says), but the way a father's shirt smells to his son, nestled in a swinging hammock.
I'm leaving on an El-Al jet plane.
Israeli stewardesses to flirt with for extra Carlsberg, the smelly religious men, benching by the windows of the plane. A haradi woman with too many children, they all simultaneously remind me of why I hate and love my people.
Kosher meals are good on planes, but suspect just about anywhere else. I will try to find the air marshal because I kinda want to be him. While I'd get sick of planes and profiling, I'd never tire of the stewardesses or the notion of keeping all these people safe. Welcome signs adorning doors.
East Jerusalem is quieter than West; I wonder if they're up to something...
Afternoon coffee, American Colony Hotel: where the journalists gravitate. So surreal, all Arab, all friendly. I took a picture of a sparrow behind a tulip bed, bathing in a fountain.
I didn't fall in love with Jerusalem when I lived here. The fighting just started, no Old City, no bus-riding. You can never love a city by riding its cabs. Not even New York.
When we crossed the Green Line, I took a picture of Al-Aqsa Mosque. It's probably the closest I'll ever get. That saddens me.
My mother's snoring sounds of tire pump, one pumping furiously into a bicycle wheel with a perpetually audible leak in its seam.
I wonder if she knows how bad it is.
While we're splitting the room she'll never know because when she asked whether the noise bothered me once it was morning, I, of course, said no.
It didn't bother me because the hotel gym was already open at 5 A.M. and I could run treadmill to the sounds of MTV Europe and watch the sun rise over Mt. Zion. I will admit, however, it was a pretty squeaky treadmill.
In Israel, Purim is celebrated in walled cities exactly one day later than the rest of the country. The logic of why always escapes me. Some interpretation of some text from sometime, much time before now. Thus my friends in Tel Aviv are hungover, because Purim was last night in Tel Aviv because Tel Aviv has no walls.
Tonight is Purim in Jerusalem because it has walls...although I'm really waiting for the political jab about walls going up around the country. My counterpoint would be that without these walls, there'd be no Purim. I don't know why my mind works this way.
I was born with a complex motor skills deficiency. As I learned to crawl, I wore attaching shoes with hooks so I wouldn't walk crooked like with permanent fracture.
To counteract it, by six, I endured piano, ballet, and therapy camps. My handwriting was so indiscernible, I registered 110 on an IQ test. It was impossible to tell if I was normal then and from the factors, I was diagnosed as dull-edged and given a prescription for community college.
I had a mother's unconditional nurture, but became fractured to the other half, which was when I ever first noticed the crack.
Freshly torn and broken stems,
they want justice for their genitals,
their strange attractors, breasts
for bees, vag, vag, vag for pollen.
What force curates them?
Erosion? How puritanical.
It's sex, sweet fucking sex
That's what we're here for,
the homes won't stay intact,
we can't all be bubbles and cotton candy,
things melt, break, get sticky.
Stop kidding. Realism's salutary
neglect, the noseless sharks
they can't taste blood
from our iconic menstruations.
Set it to a boil East Texas
break down their doors,
but sooner the chromosomes align
and it's going to be one warm white seastorm.
A drive through the West Bank on the ides of March was less eventful than my thrill-seeking mind had subversively hoped for.
A tire burned outside Jericho in protest of an Israeli raid that followed a Palestinian attack on Red Cross workers at the British Council.
We saw into Jordan where the adobe-shaped rock bluffs scissored shine and shade across the Jordanian River bank.
The desert was biblically barren and a few acacias specked into distant silhouettes from the highway.
The road seemed promising from the mix of green and gold-colored license plates and the careening silence of the flagposts.
On a walk in Jaffa, I watched the port close for Shabbat and the sunset on the sea from a pier where Arab fisherman stood with their poles and bags of bread in anticipation of their dinner.
Some of the fishermen had their families there and more on the port their cars sat beside the tiyelet playing Arabic music while the children chased each other in the near-dark.
I wore a nicer blazer for lack of other jacket and probably looked more Western than I would have appeared in street clothes.
The clocktower hit eight and I went back.
Sderot Rothschild: Israeli Champ d'Elysees.
Yom Shabbat of strollers, full of Hebrew stutters and that protective way dogs and women circle.
Sheinkin owns me, the East Village, but its own heart, we're all misattired and its got that natural sensibility of autumn leaves.
We got it right this time and everyone else hates that, but we're not going anywhere now.
We did parsha at the table last night, six twenty-somethings reading Torah over Macallen 12 and Golani wine, a meal made from shuk fruit stands, we did the debate and laughed and rejoiced and went out without regard for tomorrow.
It's a big universe B,
one that only grows
while the common characters between us
are dying off every season.
I hate that we were so young,
the way things are so much
more impressive and fragile
to children in love.
I doubt you'll remember
the good, honest things the way I have
without the maelstrom coda
that turned the palette water black.
The swelling's been done,
oh for a while now,
but some direct light still causes me
the occasional blinding migraine.
And while nothing new
makes sense to be known
I wish I knew how you
Jason and I went to a palm reader before I left. We had been walking around, pretty stoned, at least I was (Jason hates when I mention him wasted in online forums) and we just walked in.
She was "right"about a lot. That I was a ladies man (which I would've certainly guessed). She knew Jason took care of what he put into his body, generally true, but hellishly ironic at that moment. She knew that my dad was sick.
It's funny how insecure humanity is, that we'll entrust strangers for life answers. But we do. And we did.
Welcome back. You're the first one I call, after effusive, life-altering experiences. You, so uninvolved with me, yet so integral, like a new doctor diagnosing me with a bad disease, every word I'm bound to unflinchingly. You make my stories surprisingly relevant and listen like no one else tells you anything in life. We're both elsewhere, but I know I'm in love on the phone, once a month, when it's not too weird to call. Its senseless chaos is perfectly professional, we're following a handbook on how to love impractically and die tragically in dial tones. At least, I am.
My mother told my grandfather that she was leaving Rhode Island to spend the weekend with her big sister at college. I don't know if she had to call him after she was arrested for "loitering"in Americus, Georgia, where loitering meant to trying to enfranchise black voters in 1964. They kept her in jail as long as they could, but she was white and wasn't forced to stay long.
I think about all the causes there were and what it means to be active now and like in most things today, I feel like I'm swimming in my clothes.
I bought a dying man tea this afternoon. He wasn't in the street, this wasn't deli tea, but an overpriced teahouse where I overheard him tell the waiter, with whom he had a rapport, that he found out that his body was rejecting the treatment. What could the waiter say; I'd been him before, in some form.
He saw me writing and we talked lit. from a few tables apart. I briefly summed it up, which I had done for three other people in this world, and now, a dying man, who told me that it was a sad story.
I miss my ampersand, having been without for over three years. It's childish I know, to feel more defined by its absence as a symbol than if it fit to exist with things, with me. I know how Prince must have felt.
I've tried to make one(s), fashion them of the wrong materials, force the edges, create some I've liked too much to keep and simply run from others that created themselves. Alas, I'm one for syntax, the way Ãƒâ€šÃ¢â‚¬Ëœo' looks like zero, but never quite enough to pass. The way that Ãƒâ€šÃ¢â‚¬Ëœo' looks a ring too small for fingers.
Jetlagged and overwhelmed, I stumble into work to find out these things: one of the other guys quit, the owner's nephew had replaced him, the owner's nephew would be taking 33% of my nights after I finish training him.
Also, I could take it (or leave it). So I left it. Like an idiot. New York City rent logically combats scruples but I am foolishly quick to take the good fight against nepotism. So I told my boss that I hope he has luck finding someone to work that night. And like an idiot, I left. I sure showed him.
I feel like I've become less funny or perhaps too serious. Probably both now.
I blame New York, the pressures of the real world that call for my maturity, the way my quixotic fixations have been smashed into dust in the past year, the extravagant wasting of time that I've mastered.
But I used to be funny. But then I got sullen. All preset on my poignancy, my maturity. I feel like I'm in a vacuum and I might not get it back. I don't know who I am anymore, which is somewhat liberating and fun, but certainly not funny.
I thought of a great business idea today. Not that I'm much into business, but I was thinking about how I could create something and sell it for profit. That's business, right?
Anyway, it would be a board game, a version of Guess Who? but one that was based on pictures of stereotypes that Republicans really despise. There would be the liberal with clumpy hair, headband, tie-dye, you know. The Dem would be a cartoon with frosted tips and one earring, very questionable sexuality, you know? Commies, ACLUers, single mothers, black people, et al. I would make lots of money.
inherently nocturnal, i am. something about having the world to myself at dark hours, so befitting my complex mystique. i am soooo weird and different. spooky. mad spooky yo.
i call california bragging about being awake as they go sleep; sometimes, i don't even use capital letters. i'm a duke of recalcitrance, a glass snifter full of cognac fortitude. no, scratch that, cognac volition.
i make no sense like there's a greater point, but there's not, just words. banal words placed together, a roadmap to nowhere. i see through me without mirrors or leaks, as kilgore trout would call them.
I shot myself on March 28th, which was weather-wise, the second day of spring. My neighbors were all at work so no one heard anything. My phone rang until the battery died and then everything just went straight to voicemail. I had spoken to my mother the day before, so there would be at least one week before she would investigate having not heard from me.
In my candy-coated heart, there would be some cosmic shockwave at the moment it happened, when all the s'firot would disconnect and all my kindred would suddenly shudder and know that I was gone.
I set the table with a glass of cab and waited. Waited for you to come into the kitchen so we could talk about it. But you were trashed and had been places I couldn't fathom, so the idea itself just fizzled. In this haunting image, I don't remember if you were my friend, my wife, or somewhere in between. But I was upset. I was pretty destroyed. I'm not going to be right for a long time, I knew right at that moment and that recognition was not comforting. It killed me to watch you go away from me.
As long as it's 50 out, I'll walk an hour a night around the city, a commitment I'll hold until laziness or other urgencies overcome. This probably means that my hour-long stroll was a one-time show.
But it was nice to follow a movie with a saunter, convincing myself that I'm not going to be afraid anymore. It's easy to be unafraid when the streets are yours, it's 2 AM and everyone else has work early. You own the sidewalk's chess squares and make of streets your own game. You resign your own king and the loss becomes your own.
In the darkness or the humor of the canvas and carried out with the light; am I bounding absolution, am I prospering mildly enough to pass for good?
Question, question to end the letter until next time when I am full of new thoughts and old problems, different travels or lustful insights. Torrid in fever against the burning summer pavements, I'm being carried out of my red wagon into a used car where the adventures are different and existentially threatening. But I take on my wheels, a rider of a pretentious flurry and cascade into horizon. Until next time.
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