REPORT A PROBLEM
Ice covering everything that doesn’t move. Moving over it depends upon momentum paired with precision. ********** _____ worked for E. for five years, watching every nuance of the restaurant, watching the room develop an attitude, a personality of its own. He watched E.’s boys grow up. He came to notice mismatched elements in his own beginnings and offset those which he saw as flaws through imitation and dispassionate avoidance. He navigated his young adulthood without any great displays of emotion. With the help of friends, he welcomed the first patrons to his own restaurant on the coattails of the passing millenium.
Was kept up all night by the noise of melting sheets of ice falling through gutters and spilling out into the garden. ***** _____ lives somewhere in Ohio now; a smallish town where his promotion took him. He sells well, though his nature seems indifferent to the task. I never met his wife, or his dog or saw where he lived, even though we grew up together and lived just a few city blocks apart. Seeing him occasionally was a bland joy similar to that experienced when greeting a neighbor retrieving the morning newspaper. Those chance encounters left me feeling guilty.
Fronts changed again. Growling winds threatened to lift the roof off the house. ***** _____ didn't go out, rather, he staged events. He seldom, if ever, required an audience. Some people used to seed pot on the wilder, elevated central plateau of Belle island. He planted beans. It was impossible to tell if luddite tendencies were affected, intended or the result of underdeveloped irony, but he was more convincing than most. We took a train across the country once; he planned to visit one of the directors of AIM, I expected little more than to see the vast, open spaces again.
Age temporarily, youthfully and empirically defined as the time between blinking, a pause in a familiar routine, chewing on the tips of pens, settling into the couch, watching the weather. ***** Years ago some friends and I made the _____ time conversion chart. It allowed for the quick and effortless translation of her expected arrival time and announced arrival time. She always reminds me to appreciate the ticking of my own clock, sometimes leading blithely to my overestimation of the value of what is intended versus the value of what is required. I can only think of her as blessed, direct.
Someone left CNN on during dinner, causing bones to be picked from Tel Aviv, causing water to spill all over Southern Bohemia again, causing us all to stare off into space and forget the question. ***** _____ is marked by unbridled enthusiasm for anything that can be accomplished immediately. It's not "instant gratification", that oft-flung judgment, but a more subtle need to test the feasibility of personal action in achieving a desired outcome before committing to another drain of energy. Of course, not many things we desire simply happen under short- term observation. So he drinks, forgets, complains and posts bold conjectures.
The first official working day of the New Year and our office was empty when I came in at 10. So I played some music, wrote a bit, attempted to gather my thoughts and found no thoughts immediately at hand. Then the internet dispelled the fear of the void. ***** _____ was constantly excited by the discovery of anything obscure. Driven by more than an archivist's instinct, he was gifted with a sixth sense when it came to obscurity. He maintained a rotating stock of what he knew about, read, had, and got signed before anyone else. This was pleading loneliness.
It wasn't snow, it was a dusting of ice that adhered to the tire rubber and skin on my lips. Breathing through the two jackets then exhaling storms of broken steam, biking up the hill. * **** _____ was the first person I met when I moved to Richmond. Slowly patterns developed. I tried not to slow down a lot – he worked and gathered dust on the couch. He had a plan to shoot himself outside the theater after the last Star Wars film debuted. He'd enter the theater, watch the film tightlipped, walk out and pull the trigger. Done like that.
B. made breakfast today and not until dinner did she tell me that I was laughing in my sleep this morning. Laughing a deep laugh, not just a giggle or a smirk. I don't know. ***** _____ was from another planet if ever a human being was. She was born in the mountains near Lynchburg to Black Mountain hippy parents and had a tribe of siblings who would occasionally deposit themselves and their backpacks on her couch in Richmond once she enrolled in school. She would show up unannounced and was always welcome. She never sang, but might have. Could have.
We finished the first paper of the New Year today, pushing through a stultifying dullness of excess food and excess expectation. Everything was wrapped up so quickly and returned to the closet, where is that rest I promised myself? ***** _____ wasn't there, but I saw his yellow Vespa in front of Millie's restaurant. He was the skinny guy with platinum hair and his arm around Heather in the scenester dinner photo from '94. Cooking was lasagna, and it took all day to make it by hand. He was a drummer, and took up cooking. They say he's a pro now.
Installed some music software as part of my resolution to waste time more constructively. Loops are still playing in my head and I can't avoid feeling that I am only altering what someone else made – the music is the program. ***** _____ surfaced last year; a passing blip. They pulled the shotgun out of his mouth, or so they say, and sent him to a chemical prison. He graduated from that to smoking plastic cigarettes and pushing Special K at commercialized raves. He told me that he'd graduated again, this time with a degree in nuclear chemistry. Reborn smart, he joked.
The height of absurdity? Berlin at 4:30 a.m., stopped in the windscreen of a tramstop to write. The time flew by again, but the day isn't done in New York, right? My fingers will work in the morning, right? Could've just gone home, true. ***** The blood took some seconds to flow; then it bubbled out around the blade, bubbling from his mouth, growing from the wound like air from underwater. _____ tried to smile, but was worried his blood might fall on the carpet and wreck everything. "Does it look like it hurts?" "Yes," I told him, and kept filming.
On the train back to Prague I slept. Occasionally Alex handed me something to read. It became apparent that I hardly speak to the people I know best – that I hardly speak at all. No one would ever suggest that I start. ***** You wouldn't call _____ a shy person, but she knew how to stare into space. After three years we'd collected every beer bottle sold at Strawberry street market, the couch was tired from us and there seemed to be dust on everything. Three months before we started arguing seriously I scratched my initials in all the books I owned.
Bought "Folklore", the new Sixteen Horsepower CD, in Berlin and haven't stopped listening to it since I got home yesterday. Because of the precious individual turn of phrase, the lonely combinations of folk: the killin' cliff, the sky comes king, I am straw. ***** _____ leaned protectively over the spinning tape deck as I walked in from the cold; he nearly switched it off. He told me it was Jaffee. I'd read Big Sur. We became good friends and he still remains with his books separated by cinderblocks and pine boards. Arcane, comfortable as hope, and growing always to be more.
All day long I stare at the icons, each representing a task undone. Going to the hospital tomorrow – maybe they can stop the bleeding. Finally. ***** So many people would like to know what snapped in _____ head. There was a long, hot summer of reading and making music, and he disappeared deeper and deeper into his own enforced isolation. It seemed that he wanted to suffer, if only in order to overcome. He kept a mediocre old blues record on top of the refrigerator. He was sentimental in the extreme. Three months ago he walked off the world, I think.
Went to the hospital finally. A real hospital for real bleeding ? not a metaphor, although it could probably be read as such. Tomorrow comes the dentist. If things keep breaking down like this, then what? What? ***** I saw an old picture of _____ once where he had dreads to mid-chest, barely concealing gold chains. The guy I knew wore thrift-store sweater vests and quoted T.S. Eliot in an affected British accent. How can you trace change like that? Does someone tell you that death comes tomorrow unless you see the light and shoot straight? How much time do you get?
There was a line on the floor of the room, drawn in light. On the dark side stood the ad guys, on the bright side stood the editorial types. I stood in the middle, and couldn't move the air was so tight. Still, I tried to talk to everyone. ***** _____ and I never slept together, even though everyone thought we'd been together for ages. She had intense bouts of isolation, which she always countered with a murky confessional period and a recovery signified by a launch into a different social circle. After ten years, we still force communications through games.
We all descended shamefully, circling buffalo with plastic questions. I got to play the Indian guide, showing the white man through the highest passes and out onto the plains. "Why do you ask about him like that," I was asked later, "as though he was dying." ***** _____ never spoke of the scene. He wouldn't stoop to talk about the scene. He would talk about people though, he would discuss anyone with anyone else at the drop of a hat ? so scornful, so pitiable, in his own way. The only thing he seemed to respect was authenticity, no matter how contrived.
Saturday night in Horemerice, staring at the flat surface of the monitor and trying to imagine what to do with the company. Realizing that everyone else involved is out drinking with their friends, everything forgotten until Monday, unless the considerations are encountered in passing. ***** _____ figured he would follow his dad into the Navy and fly airplanes. He came to all the parties, then he stopped. He played bass guitar capably, then slowly, he stopped playing and he stopped looking at anything that wasn't directly ahead of him. He followed his father into the Navy. And now he flies planes.
Saw the Two Towers for the second time and remained befuddled by the distortion of Farimir. Is it important to balance hero with villain and balance all with moral ambiguity? ***** Me and _____ used to meet in the middle of the suburban night and steal car stereos. One night, on the way to get me, he ran his mom's Jetta into a tree. Thinking clearly, he wiped off the wheel, ripped out the stereo, broke a window and walked the five miles home. He sold the stereo and the insurance took care of the rest in less than a week.
This is the first time I've ever tried to drink four liters of anything. It's to the hospital with me tomorrow, and I'm required to down the crap. Forced drinking is the most blandly unpleasant thing man could conceive of. ***** We'd reached the end of Main street before I realized that _____ had passed out. Her pale face draped over the steering wheel, like she was peering around the corner we had yet to reach. She relied on the façade of weakness when things looked doomed. We drove to New York once, watched the people and slept in Washington Square.
I'm looking for a flat to buy. I have this dream of the classical unfinished loft, of the commercial space cleverly converted into a wholesome home. Then there's the green and the clear air, and then dreams become choices. _____ used to wear zebra tights. I was allowed to see her if I spent a tithe of Saturday time watching boxing with her dad, who shouted at the screen in Patagonian Spanish. My favorite thing then was the painting on the ceiling of my room ? lining tables up and laying on our backs like Michelangelo. She was a gifted dreamer.
We really tried, but it looks like the Phiiliip show, and subsequent music nights won?t happen. We walked down to the bar, and saw the workers ripping the ceiling out. Something else will turn up. Eventually. ***** You should have seen the look on his face when we pulled the bus into his driveway and started making toast on a charcoal fire. No one knew where _____ lived. No one knew his phone number, or where he went after school, or why he showed up on photo day fully ripped on a bottle of vodka or two. He was fourteen then.
Looking for Jawa 350 - 500 motorcycles. Looks not important, but good running condition is. Email email@example.com. Congratulations brother, see you by and by. ***** _____ went to school with my sister, but she showed up in Richmond to finish off some literature elective classes for her Sorbonne degree - and to be with her boyfriend. Everything worked right around her and for her. She asked questions directly- looking, unswerving, unreserved. Everywhere she went, she was gone too soon and left some beautiful hopes, like bits of polished mirror cemented to the walls. Patience, patience and yet, never forget the thrill of discovery.
The winds are changing again. It's time to start thinking of people as contacts. It's time to start thinking of words as parts of a puzzle. It's time to finish a book, or a screenplay. It's time, today, to die and come back to life. ***** I want you to stop fucking him, I said to _____. On her back, she said she only did sometimes. So stop. It seemed natural to her to arrange space between her legs. We should continue, without question. She should continue, but she stopped, and surprised me so much I trusted her for a moment.
If I didn't need sleep, I could make anything. I could learn anything, see anything, comprehend anything. This simple matter of time is a rent due death. Let's have a taste again. ***** _____ sat at the controls, preferring buttons to the tweaking of knobs. Black Ark II. He arranged himself into a monomania of marginalization. The back of the room was of broken bricks and drips of water leaked from underground - the street sweat. A pile of empty Dr. Pepper bottles. A glut of creativity. A dearth of action. I took him out, in an wheelchair, like fat Howard Hughs.
Constant warnings circulate for evacuation - what kind of farce are they staging that assumes anyone would want to leave somewhere safe for a home that isn't home anymore? ***** _____ dipped the toe of his boot into the stream and tapped droplets of water off to evaporate onto the rock. We'd been out for two days, forsaking the red creek trail for a direct, streambed approach to the plateau above. He planned to make camping equipment. His own company. Something small, but with prospects. He had prospects. I wish I knew where he was now, after Columbia, after consultancies and learning.
The first day back to work after hearing Alex and Jeff are leaving. No one showed up until late in the afternoon and I sat in my room sweating from fear that I'd been totally abandoned. That there was no faith remaining. I nearly cried from it, then started working again and forgot it all. ***** Always in a war film there's that guy who gets left behind. _____ was like that guy, waving his arms as the rest of us moved to another something different. He was always studying, he always won at Risk. He had to go home early.
The computer is fairly sweating under the drooping weight of my eyelids. It's 5 in the morning, and I keep finding an extra paragraph to add, an extra point to work out. They keep coming, and the light is building In the back of my head. ***** _____ always carried a pencil. He said it was to keep him from smoking, but it didn't keep him from taking drugs. He was afraid of sleeping. He collected records and collected blips and beeps. Acid experience, group memory. How utterly repulsive, in the end, that someone like that must grow old and die.
Talked to Rick. Spokane will be coming through. It seemed odd how he spoke of adding an extra room to the house, fixing it up and selling it as an investment. There's no end to how strange things can go. ***** _____ and I drove off in a yellow van packed to the gills with sound and energy and canned food. For weeks we wandered around, following the maps and bumping from park to park. In the desert we saw a UFO, scattering lights that I memorized as ghosts and relived later, afraid of coyote voices with Lexie in the darkness.
Don't know why, but I haven't been able to eat for a couple of days. Just bits of things here and there. I'm consumed by a terror of wasting time. I have to shut this thing down, walk away for a bit. ***** _____ put up a serious front. He watched everyone who came into the room, sized them up and wrote them off. This was an accomplishment of habit, a damning quiescence for him. I could never understand what there was for him in this separation from everyone. It wasn't as though he could steal everything he wanted, after all.
Now I know why I didn?t eat - body trying to tell me something and all that. Got food poisoning for my birthday. Not to be glum, but what a delicious thing, that. Missed my own party, but heard the noise kept the neighbors up all night. ***** _____ seemed to keep so much in reserve. This was endearing, especially as I was supposed to learn from her somehow, and learning depends, in large part, upon retrieving things. When she started dating Rick it brought out that instinct. Nest-building, or call it what you will, it was an energy that denied absentness.
The Tip Jar