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Diana's curly black hair bobbed as she made her way back to Darrin. She handed him a glass of water and perched on the chair opposite.
"So, tell me about your day," She asked, fixing her large almond eyes on him.
"Well, you know," Darrin said, taking a sip. "I did chores. Nothing too exciting."
Diana adjusted her posture, cocking her head slightly as if beginning a novel. "And how do you feel, now?" Darrin struggled for a response, putting the glass down on the table.
"It's okay. We'll get to that later," Diana said. "Now..."
Together with her large jaw, she sported few facial expressions. Even when she spoke, her lips barely moved. In fact, you could only tell if she was in a good mood by looking into her eyes: sometimes they would sparkle with quiet humor; other times they would be blank--obsessively focused. Toby knew better than to bother her when she was struggling. Outside, she replaced signs so quickly that each time took the crowbar to the crate of pots, she was somewhere else. The chill wind blew fiercely through the fencing, but with it came the end of his shift.
It was sunny today, and the temperature was straddling the line between wearing a winter coat and just wearing layers. ABC Warehouse replaced the Borders in town. I walked inside to take a peek, but didn't find anything interesting except a number of bored salesman whose eye contact I avoided. The pet store next door was more fun. A couple of odorous ferrets were sleeping amidst a bed of cedar and a cockatiel pruned her feathers. A new cat seemed particularly receptive to my cooing, sticking her paws between the bars. I perused the reptiles and the fish before leaving.
I have another crush on a guy at work. He's younger and straight though, and a republican. It was hard being that age, just coming into your 20's, with so many choices. And it's also been hard for me, beginning my 30's, and between jobs, starved for interactions. My co-worker has a dreamy look in his blue eyes, appropriate for an age when dreams weigh heavily. As I cut the shrink wrap from the pallets of top soil he was moving, I wondered what I could offer him anyway. Apparently he's in school for advertising--my last job marketing.
An insect works against the surface tension, but never quite escapes. Below, sunlight only penetrates a few hundred feet deep, but oceans can extend as far as 7 miles below the surface. I bought a venus fly trap today. It makes for an ugly plant, but it's fun. But my apartment is devoid of insects--maybe it's the season. Someone left a taco on the floor by the entranceway to my apartments though, and sure enough there was a trail of ants. So I killed a few hours, trying to position them in the trap. Not something I'd do regularly.
"Really, Jared," Ms. Ethelmeier said, turning the dial on her wristwatch.
"What?" Jared asked, watching her face take on a deep, ivy glow.
"I just don't see the point."
Jared wiped a damp palm across the dirty window, bringing the city lights into focus. After a brief glance outside, he continued.
"You're just not looking at it the right way." Ms. Ethelmeier's form began to flicker, slowly.
Jared brushed his palms together in frustration. "Wait, goddamnit."
The woman began to lose reception, until Jared cut off her wristwatch.
I learned that I'm apparently skilled at power equipment today, making 'tombstones' for product at work. Tombstones, or 8-inch pieces of wood, require two screws at the 90 degree angle, and are used to display prices for products in the outside garden center. My co-worker wasn't making much progress, having completed one out of fifteen. I struggled at first, frequently glancing around me for customers. But instead of bothering people, I much preferred to master a task, and so, putting my shoulder behind the drill, I went to work. Tonight I'm satisfyingly tired, with a sun tan, too.
I had today off, so I spent much of it cleaning my apartment--doing laundry, sweeping, mopping, organizing paintbrushes, magazines lying on end tables and dressers. A magazine on my dresser has been open to the same page for a week or two, so I put it somewhere else, getting sick of the sight. Next it was a hearty Reuben in a near empty Arby's restaurant, followed by my mom's taxes. I stopped at my brother's to have her write out the checks and sign the returns. At the end of the day my place was clean and mail ready.
Spent most of the day at my brother's, watching his kids. This time I tried to maintain some consistency by playing Nintendo. It allowed me to keep an eye on the baby and respond calmly to my nephew's frequent questions, his favorite being
. I frequently got up to get my nephew something from the kitchen or retrieve my niece who had crawled too far down the hallway. When my brother got home, we had chicken and a couple beers. It's so easy to show young kids some fun, but can imagine it to be trying at times.
Cold rain drips through the racks. The smell of clay pots. Arranging them, pulling them forward to another day. I gripped the ladder, staring out at the bleak skies, and made my way down, into a corner to check my phone. She called but didn't leave a message. She's been calling everyday for a month, often with a question:
Did you call?
Often she'll fish for words while I listen. I get impatient, choosing them for her or responding with a bewildered 'ok'. As I help usher in new life I can only think about the slow progression.
Home from work just before 11. The apartment is dark, with slits of light pouring inside from the outdoor lamp. I saw the luminescent shower curtain from the bathroom. Now there's nothing but the sound of rain and the neighbor's wind chimes. I'll probably call it a night soon, having killed time reading before work. I'll just continue on in bed, ready to work a slightly different shift tomorrow that should allow me to get off earlier. The book I'm reading takes place in Scotland, and centers around a 20-something news reporter, bribed into ignoring a homicide in progress.
"I feel like I'm not being heard."
Diana opened her mouth to comment, but he continued.
"It used to be so important to get it out there." Diana leaned closer, but her patient seemed to run out of steam. "Go on," she said.
"I'd write stories about who I was seeing. I made it a point to do interesting things to collect experiences."
"And then you got older," Diana said.
"And then I got wrapped in my secrets, my addictions.
Diana scooted forward on the couch.
"And then it became a cover up."
Mirda sat on her straw mattress with her legs pulled up to her chest. The doctors were in the unit today and she no longer felt safe. It seemed she had a choice: she could either spend every waking moment examining herself for the bumps or live every day for what its worth. She didn't even know what she was doing staying in tonight. She had to leave, but where could she go? Did the laborer get infected from something in the building? More likely it was something he came across in the fields. She slept with the candles lit.
The Plague originated from China and spread to Europe, along trade routes, in 1347, resulting in a 4 year outbreak that killed off almost a third of the continent. After reading countless articles of the scientific effects of the Plague, and how it comes in 3 main forms: bubonic, pneumonic, septicemic, I became interested in imagining day to day life. According to a medieval allegory, the atmosphere brought on a sense of living in the moment, and I wonder about the stories, both told and untold that relate to this. Sheer luck alone is why I'm living now, not then.
The waters seem calm, overly calm. I seem to understand the ins and outs of intimacy. The sun just came out of the clouds and I'm moving fruit and flowering trees. Remembering the guy I watched in the hi-lo, squinting his eyes harshly to line the forks up with the pallets inside the truck. His tan suede boots, slightly pointed, tapped the pedals in an experienced manner, always looking for the best angle. I'm ready, I think, to no one in particular. I'm ready for the next relationship. Where is it? What do I have to do for it?
Despondent. That's how I feel with the realization that my friends, who moved to Australia 5 years ago, didn't have time to see me while they were in town. They leave tomorrow after being here for nearly a month. I understand that they needed to visit family up north. I know they didn't have a phone. I called a number they emailed me but was I was sent to VM twice. Three weeks later, I got another email. Apparently they never received my VM. So I called another number, and another. Guess I was just someone they used to know.
I think Myspace was more fun than Facebook. It was more atmospheric--allowing you to work with HTML code to change the background or add cool music. On Facebook it seems we're all just pieces of meat--these are my pics detailing my fabulous social life. These are the status updates that contain my idle musings. You can't do anything without everyone finding out. Even then, the internet before Myspace was more fun also, before society and the media got a hold of it. Maybe I'm just bitter though. Let me listen to me and not to them. ~Gertrude Stein
I saw the storm when I walked into my bedroom. A wall of dark grey hovering over the storage facility, gas station and factory in the distance. It was slowly moving this way. I drove to work in it, feeling sluggish due to the rain. It was mid afternoon and the air was warm. I could hear the muted sound of rain and thunder as I made my way to the back of the store, into the cold training room. Later, I delicately peeled the plastic from orchids and placed them on display, fielding questions from customer wanting to chat.
The sweet smell of sweat, rubber and mild disinfectant welcomed me back into the gym, where I canceled my membership after being inactive for almost 3 months. The personal trainer from EMU was there, and I felt a moment's worth of shame because I had stopped working out and started smoking again. I wondered if it was evident as I proceeded to the office to cancel. "Well you will be billed for May and will have access until May 25," the guy in the office said, as if giving me more time to consider the brief healthy phase last year.
Having a steady job has never been one of my strong suits. It would probably take a long receipt (with CVS extra care bucks on it) to list them all. My first job was at a movie theater, but not 6 months later I decided a pizza place would be a better option because they paid 50 cents more an hour. It wasn't just about the money though--I was sad because Doug, the first gay guy I knew professionally, left the theater too. Having never really fit in at high school, I'd learned to associate jobs with social lives.
Thinking about what's changed with each passing year. First there was the smoke from the immense incense burner on Castle Hill, sun baked clay. Thinking about Georges, who had left on a ship. I was busy as a seamstress. The next year was filled with the cold dampness from home, and the lulling realization that despite economic conditions I'd need to do something--which ended up being preparing the market displays--carefully arranging oranges. Another year of that followed. Then I found myself doing fairly well, making trade agreements with Stone Sept. I still think about Georges, awaiting someone else.
Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger. Need sleep. Danger.
"How old are you?" Mike asked, picking a spent bloom.
"Nineteen," Brandon said.
Mike nodded, looking at him. A little stocky with red hair sticking out from his baseball cap. He supposed the beard made him look older. Not his eyes though, which were an effervescent blue.
It started to rain and the two of them made their way under the canopy, by the algaecide.
"It's supposed to rain another few days," Brandon said.
"At least it's warmer," Mike got out as a customer walked by.
"Yee haw," Brandon said as it fell harder.
I saw Through the Pines, or something similar tonight. It began with looking at the back of Gosling's head as he walked through a carnival. The lights from the various attractions, the muted sound of screaming, and resounding jackpots reminded me of reading Dean Koontz, Strangers, in my mom's garage when I was in my teens, one of my favorite books then. When I worked at a manufacturing plant as a janitor, the one where the sink in the women's bathroom was finished with pennies, I lent the book to the security guard. It was just a book, never returned.
Michael approached the coffee shop, hands in his pockets, breathing mouthfuls of air into the cold night. Beyond the glass it looked cozy. The old floorboards groaned a welcoming as his eyes caught sight of the GLBT newspaper stand. He picked one up and rolled it tight, like a diploma, or a ticket. Back home, in the kitchen, he flipped through the pages. Once he got to the middle he slowed down some, but all that was left were ads promoting poppers and lube, new stories irrelevant to him, and obscure events to which he had no one to bring.
He stared at the blank canvas, feeling his grip tense and relax on the large paintbrush in his hand. He paced, kicking a metal bucket against the wall. Perhaps if he relaxed, and just sat on the window sill, listening to the sussurus of the city below... Not long after he settled down in the sunlight, he was interrupted by someone pushing a cart down the hall. The wheels sounded old, banging against the uneven surfaces. They whined, increasing in volume as they approached his door. It flew open and his teacher took a paint can, angrily pitching it forward.
"Purple lava lamp."
"Yeah, it was for reviewing the day's events sometimes."
"Just like the frog chorus CD?"
"Those are my Batman soundtracks. He liked the track with Eddi Reader."
"He?" "My dad, I played it one morning as I was getting ready for school and he was getting ready for work."
"Lots of other stuff."
"Every morning was the same unless it was Friday, and he'd tell me one more day."
His friend opened the CD, examining it.
Coffee churning amidst the drizzle and a flick of the blades. Sitting.
Just like I was sitting earlier, snapping open cases, pushing capsules through the foil, snapping them shut again. I would have talked more but I was too tired, so I listened. Didn't answer questions thoroughly, sometimes not at all. What was there to say? What are you trying to say?
I started freaking out, guilty over the poor company I provided. My stomach burned and my heart raced. I wanted to step outside. Whoever was next to me must have thought I'd lost it. Green light.
Are they just a friend, a friend with benefits, or someone you were meant to be with long term? Things get complicated. Unforeseen emotions bubble to the surface, causing a misunderstanding that's immediately being taken to the hum of a factory close by, beyond the tree line, for repair. Many words are exchanged in vain. Let's get this out of textville, he says. But would another trip to the appliance's spin cycle make a difference? Would it make up for the years when neither of them knew what to make of what they had? I don't believe in poor timing.
I'm being sneaky, it's 12 midnight and the last day of the batch. Yeah, I could wait. Call it a night and see what tomorrow brings--then make an entry like a normal person. But I'm not normal and this is now officially the last day of the month. The temperature outside is finally becoming habitable, and the buds have suddenly appeared within the last few days. Outside its quiet--just another Monday night for most people, but for me it's like a weekend. I'm simply not scheduled for the next couple days. I miss the rhythm, to some degree.
The Tip Jar