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Cruising along at a good clip, driving wisely, staying alert. I was cruising on my bicycle down the narrow corridor between traffic and parked cars. It was a great day... until... WHAM! A truck door opened up in front of me. My body crushed against it. I spun around, four feet off the ground, slammed into a parked car to my right, hit the ground. Hard. My left arm screamed in pain; my chest felt as if it had collapsed. I slowly stood, checked for blood, protruding bones. Miracle: nothing serious. I decided to buy a helmet the next day.
I don't have a screen at the bottom of my kitchen sink. The scraps of food either slip through or, when they're too large, they sit in the drain. When I'm washing dishes, I sometimes scoop up the nasty, soggy mess, but more often than not, I don't. Instead, I squish them through. I've always figured that this habit is harmless, if a bit disgusting. Tonight, though, with no dirty dishes piled up, the sink still smells of rotten food. Fifteen months of fetid scraps are lodged in the pipe, decomposing, festering. Stinking. It's what I deserve for being lazy.
The warmth of a vicodin washes through me. I took it for the pain, of course. If I weren't so tired, I'd be enjoying it a lot more. It's almost 4 in the morning and I haven't slept more than five hours a night for the last 3 nights. But I've been getting so much work done after midnight that I don't regret the daytime drooping eyelids. I'd rather be dog-tired yet satisfied than well-rested and spiritually empty. I've done enough time in the latter camp to know that exhaustion for the right cause is life; creative sloth is death.
It's a city filled with assholes, but I hate myself for commenting on it again. Given a larger canvas, I could paint a more sophisticated picture to express my simultaneous distaste and thirst for NYC, but circumstance prevents that. Instead, I bitch about the fuckers filling the streets, the smug smirks behind the wheels of convertible BMWs, the self-righteous might of cops who enforce whatever the fuck they want to enforce. No room for the thirst, so I choose to concentrate on the distaste. Thus, I do nothing to change things, so what right do I have to complain?
A check for $4000 is coming--cash payout for unused vacation time. Last winter, I'd promised to buy a motorcycle this spring, but that fell through when I quit the full-time job. So with this check, I decided I'd buy a bike. I checked the want ads, got a quote for insurance, and was ready to start kicking used tires when my girlfriend suggested that... perhaps... just maybe... a motorcycle wasn't the smartest investment I could make right now. Perhaps... just maybe... I should put keep it aside for something more important. Like catastrophe. Or a house. Damn her wisdom!
Dogs don't know to protest that they're dogs. They've got other things in their brains. Getting fed, getting walked, even getting washed and brushed. I'm not sure about that last bit, but I fear my mutt may be unhappy with his status as nastiest smelling dog on the planet. His current aroma is a cross between stale Fritos and rancid feet, and there's little he can do about it... On second thought, I doubt he's bothered. After all, he sticks his nose into the most inappropriate nooks of our bodies, so he might very well be pleased with his stench.
I was once so easily amused. I could sit for hours, enchanted by friends and strangers alike, passing the time of life without demand. When did I become so pressed to produce? To not waste time? Is this symptomatic of deep dissatisfaction? Ennui? Or arrogance? Once, I would gladly engage in casual conversation with anyone; I'm now quiet and withdrawn. I've given up on the passivity of television (except for one program, which I insist on watching with other people). I've even lost my taste for fluffy, pointless reading. When did I start taking myself so fucking seriously? And why?
"Are you happy?" she asked. I couldn't answer right away. I'm not unhappy, I don't think, but I'm not particularly overjoyed. Nothing to do with "us"; I'm just not satisfied with my living. I don't know what I'm doing with my time, or with whatever talents I might have. Fuck--I don't even know what those talents are. Lucky and cursed are those who know their destiny. Maybe I've got sculptor's hands. Maybe I've got the cure for cancer forever undiscovered in my head. I suppose it's better this way--this unknown future--but it doesn't make for easy days.
Girls gone wild. Or so the ad says. Though I'm not a girl, I feel compelled to note that it's been a little while since I've gone wild. Getting drunk in my apartment doesn't count. Getting drunk in a bar doesn't count. That's about all the wilding I've been doing, so don't look to me for kicks, at least not these days. My girlfriend may be right: I'm unhappy because I'm not in control of anything. My housing is chaotic, my work splintered. I just need to plot a small bit of life, and then it'll be time for wild.
In my underwear, on the couch, water for coffee heating up in the kitchen. I see faces of excitement on the television, yet it's all so fucking fake. Fake joy, fake sadness. When did we become so adept at packaging ourselves for TV? Who teaches the small-screen public speaking classes? Where are they taught? How did these people learn these tricks? They are disgusting and repellent, shamelessly exposing themselves and their supposed loved ones in the interest of fleeting fame. That's why I try to write anonymously, never introduce nor describe myself as a writer. I fear the breakdown.
I'm in freakout mode. There's something spinning chaotically inside me. But not quickly--it's more of a churning, a belly about to vomit, a volcano working toward eruption. Yesterday, my girl sent me her thoughts on this city as a powerful, whirling vortex. She observes its core as evil; I naturally think of a black hole. No light escapes the center's pull. But out on the outer rim, she notes, one can be propelled and energized, provided you're careful to not get sucked in and absorbed by the evil. She never engages in fluffing, yet can sometimes be quite inspiring.
I slid for hours on a perfect mix of liquor, absinthe and pot. We watched a movie, listened to some music, talked for hours, super-fine casual time. I asked: What does an artist do when he gets everything he presumes to want? What happens after that first major work is done? Get to work on the next, of course, of course, but I think that's too simple. This world conspires, always, always, to define you for its own needs. Good luck getting that second major work done after the first has been accepted, dissected and absorbed by that world.
I've had another three days of darkness recently. I was down in a hole, stuffed in a grave before my time. No daylight, barely any air. Presumed dead; no one had bothered to check my pulse. Fortunately, my girl noted my absence, and threw me a rope. I climbed out, stretched, sucked in some fresh air. This was a minor incident, barely worth mentioning, and definitely not worth categorizing as a resurrection. I think, like cats, we only get nine lives. But that yields only eight deaths, because on the ninth, you don't come back. Be careful! Don't lose count.
I've decided to go away for two months. Away from this city, away from this rut. It's a mostly professional rut, and when it's not distinctly professional, it's still derived from related circumstance. Mi vida es muy buena, I assure you, despite utterances of agony spewing forth from these sets of 100 words. Last week, some little prick tried to take me to task for things I'd written earlier in my life. After several nasty, vulgar back-and-forths, he crapped out, unable to maintain his seemingly passionate argument, and his rolling over was a fine omen for things to come.
No wonder there are so many myths of the pure man, a hero or mystic or shaman who is pure of heart, pure in motive. Sincere in his belief that goodness can be found in all men, that no act should necessarily be cause for condemnation. We're such a shitty, self-serving, backstabbing gaggle of creatures that we cling to a belief in such a person, no matter the geography or epoch. We so rarely encounter anyone even remotely pure that we create mythical creatures, time and again, no more real than dragons and faeries, to wistfully embody this purity.
Tonight I will dream of open fields, of deep oceans, of landscapes uncluttered. Tonight my mind will roam, untethered and unburdened. If you want a sincere smile from me, then you must catch me unprepared or capture me unaware. We smiled a lot on our trip to Kentucky. On my wall, I've taped an enlargement of a photo from a booth in Baltimore. Granted, I was neither unprepared for nor unaware of this photo, but my smile is sincere. Though subdued, it quietly radiates joy and contentment. Tonight, I will dream of her, and the similar smile on her face.
My moods rise up and fall down, and I ride them like waves. I peak, full of joy, then plummet hard, incapacitated by sadness. It's all quite inexplicable. Am I alone in this, or are others out there slipping and sliding thusly? If there are many like me, from whence does this instability come? Are we rats foreseeing the doom of our ship? Whales running ourselves aground? Then what of the elation? Why not permanent despair? Are we happiest at our most ignorant, when we're as blind as those around us? Or when we feel the end to be near?
Build for me: the largest ship in the world, a monstrous train, a pile of kindling higher than the heavens. All Jews go on the boat; I will sink it. Every black gets a seat on the train; I will derail it. Asians, Latinos and Indians will fuel my bonfire. And don't forget those Irish, English, German, French, Turkish, Greek, Egyptian, Navajo, Inuit... I hate every one of them, and will do my best to live without them in my life. They are selfish, backstabbing, condescending, false fucks. Oh, but only if they're salesmen. Did I forget to mention that?
My friends from upstairs, two brothers, came down tonight. It's something of a weekly tradition: they come down around 9 o'clock, we watch a movie, eat delivered food, smoke a little dope, drink whatever I stock in the fridge. Until 5 a.m. As of late, I've been offering vicodin, which are accepted, so we are particularly chill. When the movie's done, we put on music and talk about the state of art in this world, or the state of art producers in this world. They run a record label; I've self-published for years. The latter topic is usually more relevant.
L train. "Get up. Don't move. Shut up. I will make you cry. Get on my lap. Get away from the door. Get up. Stand your ass up. I'll pull your hair. Get off the floor. Get up. I'll make you cry. Boy, if you don't... Get up. Don't mess with me. Get up. Get off the floor. Get up. Cut your shit. Cut it out." Slap. Tears. "Stop it. Cut it out. I'm telling you... No. No. No. Get up. Stop it. Get up. Get up. Get your ass up. Get up. Get up. Get up. Cut your shit."
The sun is coming soon, and I hope my sleep will be right behind. I'm dead on my feet, but not for the reasons I expected. I didn't spend all weekend busting my ass for the newspaper. I don't do that anymore. I'm leaving the paper in five weeks, and will not look back. I may write for it, I may not. I will decide that when the time is right for that decision. Right now, the only decision I have to make is whether or not to grab a beers from the fridge. Probably not--I'm already so drunk.
I don't often have family problems because I do not participate in the petty, pointless arguments which occur between relatives. I have come to believe that too much discussing and analyzing and strategizing is destructive. Engaging in them can cause one to lose sight of what's important: these are your family, you love them, you will always love them. Tonight, my mother told me to not communicate with her anymore due to an article I'd written more than two years ago. She was hurt, but I never expected her to hurt me back tenfold. Mothers don't do things like that.
So much bad has surrounded my life lately. Chaos can be good, and usually is in my book but this recent flux has been downright BAD. Work problems. Family problems. She's here for me though, because we went through our bad a few weeks ago. Last night she saved me, took me out of my head, t, she did more than lift me up and above. She kept me down on earth and made me see why it's sometimes good to be here.
Keller the Cat is licking his bunghole, really digging in there. Must be nice, I figure, though at first glance it seems a bit repulsive. But hell, I think--I've licked ass before. Maybe not my own, and maybe not for sanitary purposes, but still... I've done it. For some reason, I was once a little squeamish about my mouth being applied to certain parts of a body, which is weird, since I'm not really all that squeamish otherwise. Thank heavens that's all gone now. Maybe it was a particular partner, for whatever reason, hers or mine, who caused it.
The dampened buzz of a television seeps through the walls. Or the ceiling; I can't tell. Others are alive in this building. Others are alive everywhere, all around me, and they've got their own thoughts filling their own heads. Just what is the common image in the common head? How grand is it? How mundane? Do they think of their world as a fat cow presented to them for slaughter? In my vision, that fat cow is to be eaten, enjoyed, cherished; the slaughter isn't the point of the simile. For me, that's mundane. My grand images cannot be described.
Very hot chick leans over on the subway. Have I ever done any modeling, she asked. "No." Was I free that night to attend an open call? "No." How about Saturday? "Why don't you give me your card? I'll get in touch?" She forked it over, then got off at the next stop. That next stop was a very minor one, so I suspect my standoffish demeanor made her uncomfortable. She'd changed cars. Why standoffish? She's a salesman. Her company will offer, for a fee, to assemble a portfolio. There's no other explanation, cause I just ain't that good-looking.
Afternoon drunk, Sunday, Memorial Day weekend. We had to stop by her cousin's bar to talk with the day bartender and, hey, while we're here...? Eleven bottles and two shots between us, we staggered out a couple hours later. Off the dinner, then back to her house. A little sex. A couple hours of dead-dog sleeping. Then off to a bar in Astoria where her coworker's band was playing, then back here. We smoked a bit along the way--the whole way--so the entire day has been lived in a glorious haze. It's been a perfect Sunday afternoon.
From where does the artist find inspiration? Deep inside, from the very core? Or from the outside? Or maybe, does it come from a bit of both? At some times, I can't imagine what I can contribute to this world, so I keep my mouth shut. I go about my business, not drawing attention to myself, not asking for anything. Other times, I just know that I can influence others, give them direction, bring them to action. But, considering my ambiguous morality, I don't know if the latter is such a good idea. I don't know if I'd recommend it.
Tonight, I'm hosting my housemates, friends all, in my apartment. My upstairs neighbor is moving on to greener pastures and better digs in, of all places, New Jersey. We're gathering to say goodbye. I could poke fun for her moving to Jersey, but the schools are better out there, and a nine-year run in this building is quite respectable. Another neighbor will depart in two months; hopefully we'll gather again. Then, it'll be the artist on the top floor, the brothers on the same, and me. New tenants will come, I guess, but they've got big shoes to fill.
Like most, I've made mistakes. The minor ones can be traced back to opportunities not taken. They linger with me profoundly, but can be subsequently righted. Others have their roots in pain inflicted upon those around me. Their severity increases as the distance between me and the recipient decreases. Still others are self-inflicted; these are usually the worst. I find this funny--why do I hurt myself so completely and dependably? Shouldn't I be immune to damage by my own hand? I try to learn from these mistakes. What this time? Never, ever, ever again place my loyalty wrongly.
The dog got shaved today. Oh, what bliss. All that fur-- gone! All that shedding--done! He's part German Shepherd, so he sheds like no one's business. In one day, he drops enough fur to make a sweater. My ex-wife forbade me from having him trimmed; I'm not sure why. But fuck her--my dog, my house, my rules. He does look a little goofy and not nearly as tough, but it suits him just fine. In fact, my upstairs neighbor with a knack for observation and wit remarked that Buddy looks like he just returned from military school.
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