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A business man in a grey suit exits the elevator on floor 18. A young business man in a grey suit turns to an older business man in a grey suit and says, Does that guy ever smile? I mean, it freaks me out how serious he is all the time. The older business man says, Occasionally. Why do you think he's so glum? asks the young business man. The older business man shrugs his business suit shoulders, Well, for today I'd say it's just Monday. Otherwise, he has a lot on his plate. Did you hear about his daughter?
In the Swedish news there is a bomb in Ostermalm and the Nobel prize in physics went to an American. K has been rummaging around, pulling old documents from her piles of work and flashing them at her employer hoping he will take responsibility for the delay in completion. Pepparkakor is featured as a tasty treat and several pop stars are releasing whatever it is they put their names on for consumption by the masses. The Masses, an idea that used to mean something; a label that meant 'wake up'. I hate and I want away. I feel like one.
All the jobs that I've seen have had two negative attributes: 1) under paid; 2) too few hours. This equals to losing at least $5 per hour in wages — translation: one third of my income. I'm frustrated but not that frustrated. Plotting and scheming seem to not make that much difference. The next tactic is to begin shouting it out to the world so that everyone, from wait staff to friend in West Virginia, knows my dream. Something's gotta give and it doesn't need to be me anymore. I've done given plenty. Closer and closer to reality; away from nightmare.
Grumpy! And no place to vent his aggressions, Jim sat on a bench in the park, wrung his hands, stewed; a girl in spandex jogged by with a Great Dane beside her. Things like that really teed him off. He saw it all the time and that was exactly what was getting on his nerves. Every bleeding day another one. What could he do? He felt a throbbing behind his left ear and concentrated on his hands. He figured he looked like a bum. He didn't care. He wanted everyone to go away; for the whole world to collapse, vanish.
My gma was a big knitter. In her day she'd churn out a sweater a month, cable knit all around, with whatever collar and cuff you could desire. Now she can't knit but a loose stitch. C is desperate trying to pick up some of the tricks before the old gal kicks it. I'm wearing one of Gma's hey-day sweaters right now. They last forever. This one is supposedly older than I am - certainly doesn't look it. Family members collect these sweaters. My dad had the largest collection but has worn them to shreds - he's down to two.
When I was little I couldn't talk. I mean _could_ talk but I was petrified. Every person, even if I had met him or her before, was a potential enemy. I simply refused to say even the simple hello. I was terrified, mortified, horrified and everyone called me shy. What all those people didn't know was my mother's secret task. Daily she fed me lies. She, innocent in her madness, told me men were evil and women untrustworthy. A friend of the family would ask, What's your name? to my four year old self and I would refuse to answer.h
The IUD installation was botched. Carol leaned back and breathed deeply, the weight of the double tongued contraption sitting heavy in her gut; she could feel her muscles clamp down around it, as though exploring a new object. It was mysterious. She was sure her body wanted to eject it but there's no going back. She'd shelled out a good two hundred clams to have this thing put in and no way was she taking it out before it served its purpose. Ten years. Ten years with this synthetic thing inside her. Never another pill. No more Miss Nice Carol.
We've got three containers of yogurt in the fridge. He's a big disturbed by this. I ask if they are all the same flavor. He says no. Well then, I ask. He grunts and starts sorting through other items in the fridge. I can tell he won't let up until something goes to the trash. Did you open the yogurts, I ask. He doesn't reply which indicates that he didn't. I bet one of them is bad, I say, a little louder to drive in the point. It's not often he take initiative so I figure I'd better use it.
I watched The Music Man yesterday and now, much to my chagrin, I can't get that blasted 'Iowa' song out of my head. I tried dueling catchy song lyrics over email with a friend but that only brought up that Chicago song: If You Leave Me Now. Then that Don't Stop Believing song — it was worse than simply having the Iowa song in my head. So I reverted. The entire ride home, all through dinner, into bed, at the alarm's buzz, in the shower, out the door, into work, at my desk, through lunch with a vengeance, and back home.
He cooked up bacon and eggs this morning, feeling justified, feeling carefree, an attempt to ignore heart disease and all those informative drug commercials that go with it. Side affects may include: drowsiness, vomiting, nausea, solid stool, and having a heart attack anyway, after all that, and landing in the after care unit wishing he'd not eaten bacon and eggs. Still, life goes on and everyone has to die sometime. Right? Anymore the idea of living to 100 wasn't so mysterious. People, men and women, were being celebrated at 112 for Christ's Sake. He was certain he'd not make 80.
Everyone is in a froth & it's a mild, polite, and OCD froth; no malice intended. But something leaks from every secretary cube. It is a bitter acid that works into the mind of the secretary, corrupting her ability to think properly, reducing her IQ incrementally until she is a bitchy, angry, self-loathing wench that would rather play minesweeper (I have never played computer games at work, mind you, and battle this dragging feeling daily in a vain attempt to arrive unscathed from my secretary days) than help anyone. It's the hierarchy, her feeling of unstoppable oppression from powers above.
And then one day everything changes. You take it upon yourself to motivate those friends who dream big but never move forward. They don't know what to do. They are surprised. One of them tells you to fuck off. Another spends hours detailing all the reasons why he can't follow his dreams. The last, the one you'd held out the most hope for, tells you she's sick, dying, and without energy. In fact, she never calls you back. You are left alone, wondering what went wrong, not realizing all that hope, that energy, was supposed to go inside of you.
Friday the 13th. What a day, what a way to go. I used to wish the paranoia was valid. Schools should close, people should refuse to work, and stores should only sell happy things — like double dark Dutch chocolate or triple shot mocha coffee. Dark things should come out from hiding. Those dustbunnies should talk, detail the things we try to ignore, and the ghosts that the paper over your shoulder should touch you, gently, one whisper of cold down your cheek signifying nothing and everything. It should be a day where we collectively go to bed and rollick, horny.
Ah, a fine day for a visit from a long-lost friend. Queen Bee has come down from Seattle to attend a wedding and see little-ol-me. She is awesome, impressive, tall and stately with features to die for and humor to make the weakest, saddest soul double-over giddy. When we were kids, say middle school, QB seemed to have been around the block — and, if facts aren't fiction, she had. And, if facts aren't fiction, she still is going around the block. Slighted, jaded, wicked quick, QB holds court kindly and generously, inviting all to feast; pay homage with witty gems.
I'm losing weight — I mean, it seems to be falling off me as I breathe. I certainly am not exercising. In fact, my diet has taken a nose-dive into the cookie jar. Lots of ice cream, chips, gluten-free treats: a diabetic's wet-dream. I should be more careful. I can't keep this up. I must get back on the food-wagon and cut the crap. I'll go out to lunch this week at least once and hereby vow to eat at least three dinners Monday thru Friday. My pants are droopy and my cheeks sunken. Perhaps I am dying faster than usual.
She's old. She has kick. She wants out. She wants it over. She wants to start over. She swims. When she was little, a girl, barely talking, she dreamed of being a star, she wanted to be famous, she stood at the mirror in the double-wide admiring herself, whispering, brushing her hair, whimsical, song-singing, waiting. She thought it'd be over by now. She never expected to live so long. She is frustrated. Untouched. Alone. He left her. He walked out. Nothing but goodbye. Nothing. She can't reach the mirror. She's old. It's too far. She worries. She waits. She hopes.
The house is tiny. He has video girlfriends and sleeps with dolls. He wears a gold necklace and glasses. He has a loft bed, under which he's tucked a table with dinner setting. He expects four friends, visitors from out of town, people he hasn't seen in years, people he'd almost forgotten about except they call him now and then. Two couples, people he'd gone to college with, would soon be eating roast in his small house, a house fit for one, a single person, a person who won't marry, who is stable and unstable and sometimes feels very alone.
Thursday's surprise: sausages and eggs. Friday dinner: fried sausages and rice. Saturday lunch: sausage with squash, dinner: sausage omelets. Sunday: baked potato with sausages. Monday: left over squash, broccoli with cheese and sausage. Tuesday: diced zucchini with sautÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â©ed sausage. Wednesday lunch and dinner: mac and cheese & with sausages. Thursday: german pancakes, sausages, maple syrup. Friday: chips, salsa, sausage tacos. Saturday: Roasted red peppers, stuffed mushrooms, garlic bread, fried sausage. Sunday: three bean salad, melon jello, sausage. Monday: more melon jello (should have known better), more three bean salad, tin of horseradish, sausage. Tuesday: sausage, ketchup. Wednesday: the last sausage.
She stood in her living room and considered the arrangement. If the front door was over by the left corner then the fire place wouldn't loose so much heat but where would the sofa go? There's not enough room for the sofa by the fire place unless they opened up the wall which could happen seeing as they had to redo the whole front of the house anyway. She considered what that would look like. A sofa off one side of the fire, the other along the wall they hoped to punch open after adding on to the back end.
I have to retract my offer to do lunch. I screwed up. I have to go to the library, go to the post office, deposit money at the bank, ask about computer issues, and stuff some food in my face. My stomach is raging. I watched a show about THINspiration: Girls collecting images of waifs to motivate them not to eat. Sometimes I feel like that. Am I anorexic? I worry. There are days where I only eat dinner. A scavenger's dinner. I think I am not anorexic, I am poor. I can't afford to eat much so I don't.
She asks me about my life, like what I do when I'm not at work. I'm not inclined to tell her. I beat around the bush. I fill in what she would expect. Things are fine. I work hard. I need more of this and less of that. She accepts it. She even gives running commentary. I am shocked. She leans forward and nods her head, really feeling what I'm saying. But I'm lying. I'm telling half-truths, universal statements that could apply to anyone. I start to feel bad about this but remind myself it is not her business anyhow.
After about three months with no physical contact a person starts to dissemble other forms of intimacy. It becomes impossible to have a heart-to-heart. The mind takes over, id and ego battle. Slightly crazed, the Lonely One seeks out conversations not for any purpose but idle chitchat. It becomes an addiction. Must gab, must find out what others are doing — are they thinking about ME? What if they are? The Lonely One seeks attention, but not too much. A distance, with a required eye contact, almost like touching hands but very much not because breaking the distance would hurt inside.
You must abide by the terms of this agreement, he said, pushing the document toward me. I fingered the edge of the papers and considered my options. I could leave, walk out, tell him to take a leap. Or I could stay, sign the agreement, take what was mine and leave them to sort out the rest. It was scary. I should have expected an agreement but I really didn't. I thought we could do this on a hand shake. I wanted to balk, to tell them I wouldn't sign but wanted to move forward. I knew they wouldn't accept.
She says she has a history in art. Like capital A art. I ask her if she likes Rossetti, Whistler, Ron English. She blinks at me. No, she says, I like contemporary artists, like Warhol. It is then I know she is full of shit. After much prodding on my part, she shows me her art. Lined up along her backsplash are tiles. Pre-made tiles. Made-in-China tiles. Tiles which she purchased at a paint-a-pot store and had fired at a paint-a-pot store after using the paint-a-pot glaze. I consider strangling her; or outing her as a sham. Is this ART?
We lived on M Street in Tacoma. Yes, home of the Tacoma Aroma. Our apartment was the upstairs half of an old house. We were excited. It was a lot of space, ample storage, and very affordable. We hauled our transient college student belongings up the stairs and settled in. Then winter came. We tried to stoke up the heating, fuel heating, but the pilot light was out. It stayed out. There was no fuel. We read the lease — paid heating. We called the landlord, he complained, said he reimburse. Then the front room window blew out in a storm.
I need a filing cabinet, a list. In the cabinet I'd put the starts and conclusions. On the list I'd detail all the things: the red scarf, the work boots, the broken coffee table, the crusty pan, the knife hits, the cat puke, the spoiled container, the money exchange, the dog next door, the dog that was dying, the dog that died, the dog that no one noticed, the dog filled with maggots, the dog that stank, the dog on a chain, the way we were, the way it was, the things I remember, the things I want to forget.
How to replace a hard drive: disconnect computer battery, open keyboard and disconnect (if you have it — I don't) the airport card, flip over and pull off feet to uncover screws, unscrew, pry off base, unscrew more screws and pry off secondary base, dig around in bloody corpse of machinery until prizing the hard drive, disengaged the hard drive connection, click on new hard drive. Reassemble. Pray you did not lose any screws. One layer after another, the steps reversed, until you have it upright and hit the boot button. You'll need the system disks to polish your work off.
We are going out tonight. It has taken weeks of discussing to finally group-agree and go for it. I fear the worst. No one is taking charge and then when I write up the first official invitation everyone else puts their names on it as though they wrote it. What the hell is wrong with people? Did I say they could make like they can take the credit for inventing the invite? What is up with that? I feel taken for granted and I believe I am done. I am done with this flaking, worrying, wishy-washy posse of posers.
The party was a drag! Everyone was game for doing the same thing — going the same places. People even wore the same costumes. It was a nightmare for me. I felt claustrophobic. Why was I with these same people? Why were we going to the same bars, the same parties, to see the same people and say the same things we'd said again and again? (Yeah, I'm still writing. Nope, still not published.) The feeling was oppressive. I was bored. I left at 10 after hearing the exciting plans in the cue — more of the same. Bed never felt nicer.
A day in bed with a psychic breakdown is sometimes necessary. Days when you feel alone, isolated, crazy, that no one will understand and it's you against everyone in this crappy, stacked-deck world. You're handed the mop and told to hit the poop deck, instead you jump overboard and hope the waves don't splash you back into the brig. Drifting solo, the laughter of the sailors behind you, cold, hollow, you bob hoping for a line, a tree, a boat on the horizon but none. Dipping below the surface, you panic, slap back to air, but weak, drift down, burbling.
I opened American Splendor last night and had difficulty putting it down. I miss the days when I could read 8 hours uninterrupted. Now the days that I slate for relaxing reading get filled with house repair, life decisions, relationship discussions, long and laborious self-coaching sessions. Gone are the days of frivolous fun. Gone are the days of book-a-thons. I can see I am in trouble. Somehow I have to get this other stuff organized so I can devote time to my MFA. I look forward to and dread this new phase coming into my life. A fair exchange made.
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