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I can do this. I can lead. I can lead people to better things. I can lead them to achieve. By example, ideally. For there is much I wish to achieve, there are works to be done and words to be put out into the air. I wish to create from naught, or from dust, or from a rib. All it takes is will. On a lighter note, my girlfriend made delicious potato and pasta salads tonight. Now we sit on her bed with the windows wide with the chilly air jumping in, Good sleeping weather, as oldsters would note.
I was so goddamn awful drunk last night that I couldn't see straight, not to mention hold a pen for my 100 words. So I've already missed my free day on the second day of the month. Last night, though--that was fun. Even when Orianne and I fell from our chairs while standing on them and trying to kiss. Down we went, crashing into the washing machine and somehow, miraculously, landing without serious injury. My ass hurts--my right cheek must've softened my landing--and I'm all-around sore. I was wickedly hungover today, but would do it all again.
Her birthday! She threw a party in the backyard of a nearby bar--her many friends and loved ones came to celebrate. I'm proud to be her boyfriend during these times, proud that I have her love. I wish I brought more to our relationship, but I am chronically friendless and my family is not close. Throw a birthday party for me and if you were to eliminate those people who come to me through her, you could host it at a small, corner table in a diner. Why is that? Why do I walk through this life so alone?
Ah. So. What will come to pass? Nick may have an opportunity for us to move to London and relaunch an existing weekly newspaper. Huh?? Yeah, that's right. We meet with him tomorrow to talk about it, maybe talk concretely, and think about moving to England. I said I would--why the fuck not? What do I have in this fucking city? Zip. And working as an editor on someone else's weekly might be a good chance for me to... oh, I dunno... LEARN HOW TO BE AN EDITOR?!? I can do this, I know I can. So I will.
New chance. New life. Squirrels on my boxers. The dog walks the house, patrolling against enemies known only to him, and we prepare to sleep. Me, in my squirrels, she in her t-shirt. It's been a long day with many twists and I will sleep and hope to dream. I doubt I will though--I am quite tired. This brain runs too hot sometimes, like a stock car pushing its limits, and though I don't win any races I do go through a lot of fuel. Our first astronauts are now senior citizens. How the hell did that happen??
I looked down at my cock while pissing at the bar urinal. And saw crusty red. WHAT THE FUCK???!?? Naturally, I freaked. Huh? What? My precious cock? Then I remembered her period. We'd had sex earlier in the day, and she's in the middle of her cycle.
Music on, her music, I'm drunk. I need to sleep immediately, so I will excuse myself from our conversation with our neighbor-friend--like a priest-king--and go to sleep. I am hungry so hungry but will skip eating because I have to. There's no food here, and that's fine.
Never saw Elvis roasted by Dean Martin. Fuck no. King don't need that ham-and-egger bullshit, y'know. King don't need to chum up to a one-eyed negro to draw more box office. Slap a set of tits up on screen--but keep the bitch away from the guitar--and the theater's packed with girls and boys who'd all fuck Elvis. Give them the chance, those boys'll take the King deep, 'cause the King likes it deep 'cause the King deserves to get it deep, y'know. Better swallow the King, boys, or some bad shit will come your way.
Slumped in the plastic seats. Tits sag and shine. Seventeen people in a hot car of the Brooklyn-bound L train on a hot Saturday in September. No cool air. Just our breath exchanged, magically and mysteriously replenished with oxygen from the time it leaves me and goes into them. My exhaust is part of their fuel, and the other way around of course. Along the stretch between the boroughs, the train picks up speed and tunnel air rushes in slivers of open windows. It is stale and warm and smells of industry, and also becomes part of our fuel.
A weekend of working, good for the soul, as I've claimed before. Drab George Will is reading on C-Span on the TV in the other room. I'm done for the night, 4:00am, and must rise in five hours to deliver the work done in forty hours over three nights. Shame I can't do it every weekend—I'd trade these nights for free weekdays without hesitation. Fuck having the same leisure time as those around me. Like I ever go out on Friday and Saturday nights? I can't be bothered. I go out when it tickles me to do so.
I've got fans, which is funny like you can't imagine. What's wrong with them? Don't they see me sitting at my desk, trembling either from drink or sobriety, see how silly a man I am? I don't slight any of them, those people who have read Crank for [INSERT PERIOD OF TIME], ever since issue [INSERT ISSUE NUMBER]. I get emails here and there--they're always nice--and I always reply, shocked by their energy in writing me. Lately, the Instant Messages come, every night I'm online. I am naturally flattered, but I won't forget that it's still rather ridiculous.
We saw the second one go down, safe at a distance of two miles. It fell like a majestic animal shot dead in its natural habitat. It fell like a friend assassinated. It fell with the screams of thousands, and I cried as the smoke filled the sky. When the smoke clears, I expect to see its remains, a jagged rotten tooth jutting upward, sitting solemnly besides its brother also shot down in his prime. The death of innocents is difficult to bear, but consolation comes in our inability to prevent. What else could we do? They fell, they died.
The city lives, of course. It will take a lot more than yesterday's destruction to knock it down for the long count. But it is limping, not just in terms of commerce, but of morale. I road my bike through Manhattan, the streets were mostly empty, a pedestrian paradise, but it was wrenching. An ice truck sliced through traffic with a police escort: they were heading west toward a sports complex acting now as a morgue. Barricades surrounded the hospitals; home-printed "Have you seen...?" signs were tacked up all around, a thousand strays, very few will make it home.
When it emerges from sleep mode, for a few moments, my laptop displays the time at which it went to rest. 4:45PM. As soon as the processor ignites, the current time takes over. 4:30AM. It is late, so I will spit these words out. Some days are meant for simple living. No more talk of the tragedy, no more speculation about those poor bastards who jumped or fell from the 90th floor. No more thinking of the holes in the ground or the holes in so many lives. Some days are meant for simple living. I hope tomorrow is one.
Boy, that's not easy at all.
How far can a dog run into the woods? Halfway, my friend. Only halfway. After that, he's running out of the woods, get it? So now we're all running out of the woods, it being after the fifteenth of a 30-day month.
We go out, spend time boozing, but perhaps feel something in the air between us. We're both driven to extremes, often in conflicting directions or with conflicting intents, so it's tough sometimes.
Love her in bad ways, deep inside, deep inside, but sometimes don't understand what we're doing here, struggling to spin the plates or balance the wheels.
Chit chat false purpose. IM with strangers, feel good at recognition, know it's nonsense. Need to accomplish IT, maybe not IT but a million ITs. Keep moving, keep working. My friend Tom once said that he keeps active because he knows his body was made for work. He's a working breed, he thinks--broad shoulders, solid skeleton. If he stops pushing his body, he gets soft and miserable. That's how I approach working. When I'm not productive, I slip into misery. I become cranky and sad and quiet and distant and terrible to those around me. So keep working, Jeff.
I'm losing parts of my life, one by one. My pen is gone, somehow, lost while drunk I guess. My job, the twin towers, some friends--gone. Today my laptop. I found it on my desk soaked to its core, victim of a spill that no one here can recall. It may cost me $750 to repair. Money I don't have. I'm expecting a burglary, or a pet death next. Or a late night call from Mom to tell me about a lost family member. Tell you what--I'm questioning my need for all things, their role in my life.
He was so drunk he could barely stand up, so I knew he wasn't much of a threat. He might land a punch or two, but I'd put him down without getting very hurt. For the first several minutes, I reasoned with him. I calmly begged him to reconsider, to not let these days get darker. It almost worked--he almost went on his way. But then something else kicked up, a new fire, and he started in again. I'd had enough. I began screaming, pushing him back, away from his intended victims. Screaming, screaming, pushing. Finally, he ran, wisely.
I don't even know if I should be writing these 100 words today. My laptop has died, taking with it the first half of September, and may not live again. If not, I must excuse myself for the first time since founding this project. That will hurt. Otherwise, life is sucky, thanks for asking. There's no money for anything--I will make October rent but just barely. I sold my wedding ring last week. Don't freak out--I'm divorced. It fetched a pathetic $160. I paid more than $900. Platinum has dropped, they told me. Yeah, sure. You're just a bunch of thieves.
I'd shoot the sky if it were in my way. Sadly and curiously I can't recognize the blockades. I don't know which side hampers my progress. I walk among devils yet dream next to angels. Evil knows my name, yet good will remember it. I will be memorialized alongside saints, but missed by the sinners. I know nothing of my destiny yet feel fate pulling me to a rendezvous with my potential. I try and try and hurt myself again and again and find I've done naught, yet still believe my conflicting desires will ring true on my judgment day.
Drying out for a month. I do this every two years or so, sometimes after a particularly damaging stretch of indulge, but also sometimes as an exercise in discipline. Two weeks into the ordeal, I will feel physically better--thinner, less sluggish--since I usually eat better during these 30 days. Less drunk mealtime decisions mean less frivolous choices. "Extra extra cheese on the burrito, amigo!" On day 31, I'll hit the bar and start fresh--thirsty, so thirsty--semi-secure in the knowledge that I'm not yet a hopeless drunk. Every time I do this, life gets messy. Chicken and egg?
Up and down and up and down and... Pity those around me. They didn't plan on the rollercoaster when they got involved with me. The chemicals inside rise and fall, swinging high and then so low. I sit at my girlfriend's laptop, working on this newspaper idea for London. I'm so close to the edge of breakdown that a simple defeat pushes me down to the bottom where there's no hope and no redemption. But then I overcome the obstacle--of course, of course, says hindsight--and I'm jumping in my kitchen singing along to Dinosaur Jr. What the fuck?
In Greece, I became friends with a UN agent named Gordon. I'm back in the states, not knowing what to do with myself. He's in Afghanistan monitoring refugees. Tonight, working, half-listening to the BBC news on the radio, they said his name. I stopped working, paid attention. Sure enough--that was Gordon offering an observation to the BBC correspondent. I only knew him a couple days, but as I said, I think we're friends. I'm proud that he's out there in the world. And I'm more than a little sad that I've returned home and have done little since.
What can you not live without? Your family, of course? (That's not true.) Your friends? (Not true either.) Your car? Your house? Your computer? (Oh, my poor laptop--officially dead.) The love of a good woman? The love of your dog? A job paying $100,000 per year? Satisfaction from hard work? Satisfaction from no work? Security? Complexity? Sympathy? Empathy? None of these are integral to our lives, believe it or not. You don't need anything, really, to live. I'm finding this out day by day, though I admit I've still got some family, some friends, my woman and my dog.
I'd like a new mattress. A new computer. A new suit. A digital camera. A high quality camcorder (oh, and make sure the aforementioned computer is equipped for DV editing). A bathroom sink (don't ask). A motorcycle. A larger apartment with a mortgage, not a lease. A couple more tattoos. A mini-disc player. New speakers. A better turntable. A ceiling fan in the bedroom. A working washer/dryer. A cordless phone that actually works. My Jeep that I sold in 1994. A large bookshelf. A lot more records, including Mrs. Miller's third album. And sight for my blind cat.
Took my leather jacket out of the closet. Autumn is here. I always spend my summers looking like a piece of shit. The same shorts every day, the same ratty shirts. I get out of bed and look the same all day. It's not just a luxury of the unemployed--I'm one of those people who just does that. Now with the chill, though, I'll dress better. The long pants are rescued from the back of the bottom drawer. Sweaters and long sleeves are relieved of their hangers. Even my hat--my old-school, old-man McGregor--returns to rotation.
Coloring inside the lines is fine. Without the lines, there's no picture. Take them away AFTER you're done coloring and the art remains in color. But you never would've gotten there without the fence of black ink. Pretending to be iconoclastic by straying beyond the borders is silly and false. Real iconoclasts don't acknowledge the lines. They color whatever is in their minds in whatever shape it needs to be. I try not to pretend to push limits that I don't care about. I stay as far away from the lines as possible and instead fuck with the space within.
I don't want to be a fat old man, but I'll just be happy to be an old man. I better have some kids, though, else I might not have much reason to strive for old age. What else is to drive me to persevere? My work? Very funny. I don't even know what my work is. As a writer, I'll be done and gone in five years. I will leave behind a legacy of mediocrity that was produced with sincerity, if not talent. They won't remember me much longer. I will not be anthologized. I will not be microfiched.
The bills pile up. Money is tighter than a nun's cunt, tighter than it has ever been. Even back in Philadelphia, when I lived as low I thought I could, rent was only $275 a month so my $30,000 job was more than enough to cover everything. If I paid $275 a month now, I'd get a job doing something I wanted to do. Or I'd take entry-level work in a field I want to enter. I'd rely entirely on the thou per month I earn from my one freelance client and figure out a better way to live.
We talk of going our separate ways. There's nothing intrinsically wrong between us; we're just not meant to be here. This city is finished for me. I need to leave. I will come back, eventually, but right now I have no job, no money, few friends. Why not be unemployed, broke and lonely in a new city? For her, it's time for a beginning without the ending. She needs to feel what it's like to hit a new city, as a self-sufficient adult with no safety net, and survive and then thrive. I will be so proud of her.
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