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Susan K. Coleman
How can I not be nursing a horrendous hangover today? Maybe the alcohol gods are smiling on me. If it weren't for John and Jack pouring beer after hideous, watery, cheap, domestic beer in me, I'd have stayed much more sober. But, the bands were great, the rain held off and I managed to escape the Mars Bar without getting my ass grabbed again. I don't think my buddies were able to avoid the day after nausea and headache. My drunk self was squeezing into a taxi as they were tearing back to the bar for an "after dinner nightcap".
Mr. Jingles! Get down from there! Oh, for the love of…I don’t know what he’s doing up there, but a rope isn’t going help. You throw ropes DOWN to stranded people, not up to idiot clowns, who suddenly think they’re trapeze artists. Go get a ladder, maybe we can coax him down. Mr. Jingles! Just stay put, we’ll find a way to get you down! No, he won’t jump into the net. The guy freaks out if he’s not the last one into the clown car. Says it’s too confining. What the hell was he thinking, climbing way up there?
What Labor Day meant to me this year: I slept a bit later than I would have on a normal Monday morning. I spent much of the day caring for my fish, who had contracted ick and ended up dying later anyway. Breakfast included bacon, and dinner was well-thought out and expertly executed. I could wear my favorite faded blue jeans with the big bleach splotch across the crotch. But, like every other night, I succeeded in convincing myself that I didn’t have to go to the gym and spent way too much time in front of the idiot box.
I’ve decided to boycott TV until after September 11th. Of course, I’ll still have to catch bits of the morning show to check on the weather forecasts. But, after last night, seeing how every single network station was airing programming somehow relating to the attacks, I can’t imagine that this is going to let up until after the anniversary has passed. I’m sure there are lots of people across the country, who need a reminder. But, couldn’t we have alternate broadcasts for those of us, who remain all too aware of what happened? New Yorkers could really use a break.
The New York Times is running an excerpt of a new book by an established author, just to give the reader a taste of his style and a feel for the story line. As I read, the same thing occurred to me that almost always occurs to me when I read novels. “Damn, I could do this. This really doesn’t seem that hard.” I believe that the hardest thing about writing is not developing a style, plot and characters, but maintaining the discipline to sit down on a daily basis and put word to paper, or type to computer screen.
The same kind of thing as last year around this time. I drink. I smoke. I cry. I wonder why there's so much negative, evil and nasty in this world. I wonder what I could possibly do to pour some small bit of good into the pool of foul and stink. I want to help. I want to make a mark, so that maybe somewhere down the line, somehow there's something that I've accomplished that others can look to and take heart in. Something that can in no way be misconstrued as self-serving or egotistical. All I want is peace.
Shuffling down the long flight of stairs, lugging her suitcase, shoulders scrunched up, arms straining. The train is just pulling away from the platform, meaning a 20 plus minute wait for the next inbound. Too spent to heave the bag back up the stairs to the upper level, where all the bars are situated. She finished her only book two hours into the flight. Bleary-eyed people watching is not how she wants to pass the time at such an ungodly hour. But left with no alternative, she sets her bag down and takes her place in the row of seats.
Attention ladies and gentlemen. Due to the current economic climate and its effect on our business, I regret to inform you that you are all being put to death. This was not an easy decision to reach and management is truly sorry for any inconvenience to your families, but we can not afford severance payments and are therefore left with no other recourse but execution. You now have five minutes to make any necessary arrangements or take leave of loved ones. Any attempt to contact the authorities will result in revocation of this privilege and a bullet to the head.
New York, September 11, 2002. I’m sad. I am so very sad today. I’ve never been very patriotic, at least not in the flag-waver “my country can kick your country’s ass” kind of way. But there’s something about this city that I find indescribably wonderful. So, I’m also mad as hell that these fanatics felt the need to come in and disrupt what is normally a haven for people from all countries of all colors, religions, and races to come and live among one another. It’s just not fair. It’s wrong, it hurts and the just won’t go away. Cont’d…
New York, September 11, 2002. So, I sit here at my desk, after walking in to the city today via the Williamsburg Bridge. It’s very calm here. Very somber. My face feels heavy, like the skin is sagging off the bone. There’s a weight like brick on my head. The rest of me is limp. Music is playing. The phones are not ringing. My guts continuously clench and unclench. Today will be over. Tomorrow will hopefully be a bit better, and the next day better still. The hate won’t disappear from the world. Nothing can change that. Nothing at all.
New York, September 11, 2002 Imagine there's no heaven / It's easy if you try / No hell below us / Above us only sky / Imagine all the people / Living for today... / Imagine there's no countries / It isn't hard to do / Nothing to kill or die for / And no religion too / Imagine all the people / Living life in peace... / You may say I'm a dreamer / But I'm not the only one / I hope someday you'll join us / And the world will be as one. John Lennon, from Imagine
Sometimes I believe that my sole raison d’être is to have my time and skills wasted. There is no higher calling that I felt obliged to answer to. Just randomly bright, talented, motivated and modestly well connected. It would be so great to just be one of those dumb ass idiots that walk down the street, squawking on their cell phones, staring in every direction other than one their heading. If I were one of them, I could give dirty looks and snotty comments to every poor sap I barrel into because of my self-centered, head in the clouds attitude.
Ten reasons why I am a foul beast: 1) My kitchen smells like old cheese 2) I wash my hair once a week, tops 3) Walking through my apartment barefoot results in little crumby bits on the bottom of your feet 4) No matter who you are, I think I’m better than you 5) I don’t floss 6) I read greeting cards once, I throw them away 7) I steal my coworkers’ food items out of the communal office fridge 8) Two words: promiscuous sex 9) I drink like a fish 10) I have told numerous lies in this entry
In the day’s dimming light, her eyes took on a completely different hue. The green part of the hazel irises caught the sun’s horizontal beams and reflected most brilliantly. This vivid color could only be duplicated under certain circumstances: extreme sadness or anger. As you can imagine, I experienced this as quite the catch 22. I fooled around, she caught me, raged and wept and her eyes had never looked more beautiful. When her despair over her brother’s untimely death made her inconsolable, I found her irresistibly desirable and would attempt to console her with my body, though she recoiled.
Tugging her scruffy blue portemonnaie out of her bag, she shuffles through the few bills and comes to the bitter realization that her cash won’t be enough for another beer. “Sorry,” she mutters embarrassedly to the bartender, “I’ve only got three dollars on me. Thanks anyway.” A biting sense of self-loathing attaches itself to the back of her neck as she slides off the barstool. Just wanted a couple of beers, just wanted to unwind, nothing wrong with that. Once out in the night air, looking across the river at the city, she felt energized and desolate all at once.
A more than substantial part of my weekend was spent trying to eradicate a rather foul odor from my kitchen. I used lemon juice, bleach, comet and various other cleaners, sprays, anti-bacterial solutions, cleansers etc, but each time I walked into the kitchen, the smell hit me in the face! Then, the unthinkable became necessary. A tupperware container, which had not been cleaned out in a proper or timely manner after its contents, some very yummy New England clam chowder, had been consumed, turned out to be the source of this most foul odor. Solution: pitch the tupperware. How sad.
I recently had a friend’s kitty over to spend the night. Renovations in her apartment building, specifically hardwood floor varnish, created such a stench, that she and her cat were becoming ill. So, both slept at my place one night, and then I had the kitty to myself for another night. That next morning I called to her and saw her run out of the bedroom and jump up on the couch next to me, purring and snuggling. If every person on the planet had at least one cat in the home, the world would be a much happier place.
Once, when I was about five, my parents held a party at our house. I woke late that night and, hearing voices coming from the den, tiptoed down the stairs to see what the adults were up to. The door was slightly ajar and, as I peered through the opening, thick, hazy air stroked my face. At that moment, the voices rose with laughter, which startled me. I must have cried, because the next thing I knew, my mom was next to me, gently chiding, yet consoling at the same time. She smelled smoky-sweet and her lipstick was slightly smudged.
The evil genius constructs an underground bunker, which the surface dwellers above cannot access. With his advanced intellect and over-sized cranium, he creates a race of dinosaur-like creatures, which require human flesh for their subsistence. After setting up surveillance cameras on the surface, he looses these monsters upon the oblivious masses above. The carnage pleases the genius, as he watches gleefully from his underground lair. “Once the humans are destroyed, the monsters will either cannibalize one another or die of hunger. Then I will swoop in and collect my booty from the surface. All the pixie sticks I can consume.”
Next time around I would like to be a bit braver. I would tell all the people, who throw their trash on the streets and sidewalks in my neighborhood, that they should kindly deposit their refuse in the receptacles provided. I would quit my dull, unfulfilling, sometimes demeaning office-drone job for a simpler lifestyle, less reliant on the salary increases, which only support more elaborate spending habits. I’d tell all those people who talk loudly and incessantly during live concert performances, that they are rude and should just shut the fuck up. No one wants to hear their inane jabbering.
With a tasty though in no way messy buzz, she plods onto the subway heading downtown from Washington Heights on her way home to Brooklyn. As the express train speeds past several stations, stopping first at 125th Street Harlem, she surveys the faces, clothing, manner and speech of the other people getting on and off the train. Being raised for most of her childhood in the Midwest, the city seems the exact antithesis of all she became used to in suburban Indiana: superficial friendliness versus the very direct, no-nonsense approach of New York; intolerance and homogeneity versus diversity and acceptance.
The hissing of the radiator told him it was time to get up. Since November, when he moved into his current apartment, a somewhat rundown fifth floor walk-up, he had not needed an alarm to wake up. Like clockwork, the building’s heating system would spring to life at 6:00am sharp, wresting him from a sound sleep. He’d fumble in the dark for the eyeglasses on his bedside table. He never seemed to be able to leave them in the same spot when shutting off the light the night before. In this way, he was certainly not a creature of habit.
The behemoth slowly withdrew from my field of vision, yet its antennae could still be seen, feeling the air for potential danger. This juggernaut of the insect kingdom was not going to vacate my kitchen of its own accord. In fact, I had the sneaking suspicion that, given the chance, it would make a feast out of the leftover crusted remains in the dishes piled in the sink and then come into my bedroom and dance on my face. So, we first engaged in a game of cat and mouse. Having no bug killer on hand, I had to inprovise…
Throwing on the light, I’d catch a glimpse of the nasty blighter, lurking up above my window frame, antennae still quivering away. These appendages appeared to be a good 4 inches long, suggesting a total body mass greater than that of any cockroach I’d ever encountered. I blasted it with anti-bacterial/deodorizing spray, the only aerosol I had on hand. It was enough to make the great beast recoil and flee back into its refuge behind the wall. Just enough time to run to the store to fetch a spray canister of what I hoped would be the deadliest Raid available.
In a room in a house situated in the gardens, small circular mirrors hung from the ceiling by strings. Little breezes passed through the room as guests came in and out of the house. With each small movement of air, the mirrors would shiver in a wave from the front of the room to the back, sometimes reflecting just the walls, other times capturing the green leafy scene through the windows and patio doors. I would imagine that, to lie on the floor of this room late at night, with just the light of a single candle, would be incredible.
As the yellow hues above the horizon slowly fade into orange and a deeper red, the flickering fluorescent behind eyelids flutters and then shines bright from the sockets, repeating over and over again across the cityscape. The glow in the sky dims, replaced by the artificial glow below. Far above the blocky clumps of modern architecture stretches a slender tower, dark and silent in comparison to its more practically shaped, busy and businesslike neighbors. It doesn’t need this false illumination, for even the most impenetrable darkness can not belie its almost stoic resignation at being an island in this sea.
"Why does this always happen when we're trying to get to the opera?"
"What do you mean? We go to the opera once every six months at the most. How can you remember how the subways were running more than six months ago?"
"Because I distinctly remember arriving at my seat all out of breath and sweating when we went to see Tosca last spring."
"Oh please, it must not have been that bad."
"Not that bad! You mean to tell me, you don't recall practically breaking your ankle running up the stairs out of the station!" ...cont'd
"I think you're exaggerating. Anyway, what comes around goes around."
"And what's that supposed to mean?"
"Just what I said. It's all part of the cosmic plan that dictates the workings of subway karma."
".....Uh, come again?"
"What?... don't tell me you're not familiar with the concept of subway karma? How long have you lived in this city?"
"I think you've just made up another one of your wacky rules about the way things work, which only you understand and which leaves the rest of us shaking our heads. Like when you invented a whole new system for telling time."...cont'd
"Hey, that was a viable system. It would have done away rush hour traffic."
"Mmmm hmmmm. And did your boss see the beauty of your plan as well?"
"Shut up. Anyway, subway karma is not just one of my 'wacky' ideas. I know a lot of people who believe it is a very real phenomenon and choose to embrace it."
"Right....I'm sure the guy we saw last night yelling at the gum on the sidewalk is also a strict adherent to your philosophy."
"You can make all the fun you want, but you shouldn't mock that, which you don't understand."...cont'd
"Subway karma affects all strap-hangers equally. It is doled out by the cosmos. Sometimes we trot carelessly down the steps to find our train just pulling into the station, ready to open its doors to us. Other times, we only see the doors close, leaving us behind, standing on the platform. In those instances, we're left to wait another 10 or 20 minutes for the next train. Or perhaps there's one just around the corner. There's no way of knowing for sure. The only sure thing is that this all eventually evens out. A perfect circle. It is life itself."
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