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Why do I prefer talking about good things? A character flaw, I know. Why in the world would I prefer a beautiful lesbian kissing me to a knife stuck in my gut? Who knows the weird prejudices of the poorly raised modern guy? I’m sitting here already hating the hoopla of the New Year’s, for example. Why? Why would I prefer a cerulean beach in Morocco? Because I’m not God. Can’t quite figure out whose identity I might possess in that case. Ah! Mere existence! Deliver me! But in the meantime, welcome to another month! 100 words! Serve ‘em up!
A Hundred Pockets of Miracles: a man walks up to me and says hi. A man walks up to me and says boo. A tree stands there and doesn’t come down to bite me. A rock sits complacently. A building stands shimmering. A sky holds its flaccid populace. A planet stabilizes around idiocy. The cosmos choo-choos with a kernel of doubt. A pebble stands erect and thinks about stretching to yawn. A babbling brook, cold icy wetness, swims in purity, lapping a duck. A man standing tall in the grass by the brook holds the hands of a woman, silently.
Is there nothing I could say that could shock you? When I read your intimate thoughts, I realized: you had heard it all, you would not be shocked if I opened up to you. So I did. But for some reason you "acted" shocked. Acted hurt! Acted betrayed! Acted scared! Acted bewildered! Acted! Acted! Acted! And yet, away from the steam of the moment, the matter became pedagogical, forensic: what necessity propels us to these roles? (When in our diaries, we are so brave?) We must force ourselves to be fools sometimes. And yet—yet! Who indeed would understand!? Who?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t do my part here to warn citizens who cherish freedom about the true nature of the American jihad—to strip average citizens of prized rights—the very thing that makes America worthy! To wit: the American government has proclaimed it can lock up anyone—anyone!—if it deems it necessary in its war on terrorism, and such prisoners can—even if American—be denied a lawyer, proper courtroom procedure—freedom!—while awaiting trial, phone calls, contact, so on! Luckily, a bunch of lawyers are challenging the constitutionality of this. Say, who’s on the bench?
The Jets powered their way to a perfect 41-0 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the playoffs. Don’t know how they could possibly be side-tracked—with their highly accurate passing game, good running game, and solid defense. They’ve got it all—and they even have brains over brawn, with Chad Pennington, Curtis Martin, Wayne Chrebet, none of them mighty specimens or powerhouses in the least. I see no reason they can’t go all the way. If they play—and can beat—Oakland next week, you’ve got to figure they’ll steamroll to the Super Bowl! J-E-T-S—JETS!
I tried Viagra. Nothing. I looked in Saddam Hussein’s eyes. Nothing. I assessed George Bush’s creativity, intelligence, depth. Nothing. I looked into the soul of the girl I obsessed over. Nothing. I flipped the channels. Nothing. I looked for money. Nothing. I looked for selfless affection and fearless pride all around me in the city today. Nothing. I looked for good government. Nothing. I looked for an honest man. Nothing. I looked for a free ride. Nothing. I looked for something I wanted to eat in the refrigerator. Nothing. I looked for a good book to read. Nothing. And then?
The void of boredom congeals north, completely occupying my head. I sit, all playthings—diversions—well used and now unattractive. This is a condition brought about by "horseplay and disease—killing me by degrees." Sleep is used, sports is used, creative writing and attentive reading is used, eating is used, sex is used. But in the good gracious of the ultimate plan, this too shall pass. After a proper waiting period, a regeneration of spirit will occur. Attention will be sharp again. My playthings will be desirable. Unwilling to exercise patience, I could seek out liquor, women, drugs—a fight!
Early, her mother took her and left home—to pursue drug abuse. At 11, Marie returned to her father—and stepmother. Issues between the two women. At 16—rebellious—Marie became pregnant, was thrown out of the house on a winter day. A friend—then another—took her in. Then Covenant House. The burden great, she quit (Catholic) school, just shy of graduation. Then the baby’s father took her in. They lasted a year. Several years later now, she’s gone through drugs, methadone, pregnancies, homelessness, prison. She looks good, plans a bright future. Hopes she can overcome a terrible environment.
Report to Aliens. As time was arbitrary, many cultures fix the "date" differently, so the "year" varies. But at this time there are still many warlike governments. "Enemies" have been created—usually neighbors—and armaments, to assault and injure others. People are so angry they even kill themselves—"terrorism"—and other people, also, in one fell swoop. There's great love and passion, and great poets who try to remind people of priorities. Weather, of course, varies. Pressing need for new millennium: additional amounts of oxygen, to forestall subconscious drive to murder. Possible solution: make botany a more attractive study option.
It’s hard to allow the full flower of painful realization. When, for example, the possibility dawns on you that the
of another, which has been giving you such constant and annoying grief, precisely reflects a shortcoming of your own—and still the realization remains elusive, not fully felt. I know someone I’ve been critical of, for his "never facing the harsh reality of the need for sacrificial change," and then I realized how that has been a tendency of mine as well. Had I myself acted more forthrightly in the past, would I recently have been so critical?
The great mystery of all writing: how to choose what to leave in, what to leave out. They say everyone has a novel in them, or a story worth telling—and it's true. The question is, can they tell it? Or how can they? Does the talent have to be natural, inborn? If the less-than-gifted writer studies hard and "learns the craft," there surely would be something worth reading, even if the writing comes more easily to the prodigy. But what are the great lessons to learn? To have the courage to go deeper. To persevere. And to bravely edit.
I keep the letters in a box underneath my desk. They are to be opened only in extreme circumstances, when I am feeling particularly vulnerable, and need the comfort I will find inside. They are brutal, painful and searing, and can only be read when I am feeling particularly down, like now—when I realize that nothing short of detailed and painful revelation can help me get over what I am suffering, which is a hubris that deadens my sensations. It is when I feel anesthetized, too calm, when bored out of my mind, that I turn to the letters…
As a teenager, I was good with numbers. I added all the time. I would count endlessly, by twos, by threes, by fours. I would multiply, add, divide and subtract for hours upon hours. I would study the word:
! Do good in math. Studied bookkeeping. I worked for my stepfather at his factory with his books. All the nuts that were bought, all the vats of nuts—how hot and warm they were!--and how many boxes and shipments and trucks coming and going.
Nuts, I saw their bags at markets all over the state, and was proud.
Hello everybody. Good evening. I’m so glad you could come out tonight. I wanted to say first off how glad I am that so many of you have braved the terrible weather, got into your cars, and made the long trek out here to catch our show. The thing is, not many of you can see that well, and for that I’m sorry. The lights here aren’t that good—Josephson! The lights! Goddamnit! You’d think they could-- Josephson! Gee, you know, folks, I’m not even sure it was worth the price of admission. What didya pay, anyway? Ten bucks? Good!
Dog tired. Long day. Good news/Bad news. Nothing too. Soup on the run. Bathroom delayed. Office getting crowded. Fresh air appreciated. Reluctant sometimes to call old friends. Question motives. Conscience does make cowards of us all. If no questioning, more fun. Overseas trip in doubt—no money. But money could be had. Worth the effort? Think so. Interviewed today. I wondered afterwards why reporters—mainstream—don’t as a rule let the object of their piece read the final version. So many corrections could be made—always. We’ll see if it hits the press. Hard to be a lamppost. Filament juice.
Freewheeling discussion with my brother—and about everything under the sun, nice two hours at restaurant, cut short by obligation: apartment inspection tomorrow, have to prepare by cleaning, allowing for continued rent reduction, worth it, eh? Otherwise this afternoon the always beautiful rare display of snow in sunshine, which across the street ended. Breakfast alone, lunch alone, yet the waitress and my thoughts and some reading and looking around made it all enriching enough! Church Reverend didn’t have hot water for shower so shut down hot water two hours to homeless in same building. Late at night, tired. Tomorrow fresh.
It hurts so much sometimes. To think that we cannot be together. That the forces in the universe to which we each have given ourselves have conspired to keep us bound in faultless irons—apart! Do you not suffer plaintively as I? Ah, yet were I to know this, would I not then race to your door? Keep me in ignorance then! Let me know not the possible stirrings, the thoughts that keep you quiet and dreaming at night! For if for a moment, I knew they longing turned to me, would I not then rush forward--and be slain?
A quarter million troops are amassed for war on Iraq. There's talk some countries have offered sanctuary to Saddam as a way out--but he's demurred. My point is that people who run countries like that ought to be out of power, but there are dozens of them, so what should anyone do about it? There just isn't enough manpower to go around policing the whole world. And if you choose a place, isn't it dirty to do so when there's a financial benefit attached to such intervention? Wouldn’t Rwanda have been the most noble place to intervene? Definitely, yes.
I watched the Eagles go down in ignominy today. After the Jet debacle last weekend, I really didn't care, but it wasn't bad to see all the experts tripped up. Didn't happen in the other game, as Oakland capitalized on Tennessee turnovers and beat the Titans handily. The Super Bowl might be good, with perhaps the best offense going up against the best defense. Tampa Bay are the definite underdogs, so place your bets now. They could win. (Telling everyone this way after the fact, of course.) Otherwise, there's a chance I'll see 7’5"Yao Ming Feb. 20th. Could be cool.
Martin Luther King was remembered today by officials and in private lives. Traffic around the city was un-holiday-like. Otherwise, nothing much happening.. I did come across a nice website or two, found an artist I admired. Reading some good books. Watching a few good shows. The cold is descending on the city. Single digits with wind-chill. The news absolutely ordinary: major world threats, minor (relatively) personal tragedies. Mostly everyone in pre-crisis mode, considering crisis in this case as that situation which will one day descend on all of us, which is greater in import than the daily usual. And then?
Thank God it’s—in this case—Tuesday. Sign of a boring life—happy to have week start (after holiday) at work? Of course not! Different phases, different emphases. For now, it’s work taking the highlight, not that my "personal" life isn’t of equal value, it’s just that my creative energies are spilling over largely into the hours of work. Exactly, I look forward to going out, to getting to the office, to interacting with dozens of people, doing office work, finishing my day and relaxing at home, being friendly with my family and resting my mind with home-play activities. Now.
End of another long day. Writing chores done, almost. Had the power behind me today, at several instances realizing that with the right mindset there is no debating courses of action, they flow perfectly. Otherwise action should be skipped. Should I call so-and-so or not? My fingers linger on the cellphone push-button. I think and think. What in the clarity of today I realized I was really doing was trying to convince myself to make the call—when it really wasn’t an action I was behind. I was trying to rationalize. Just act, with intelligence. Actions flow smoothly without wishy-washiness.
Saw an old friend—surprise!—after a long time. Was a genuine joy. What was he in town for? Got a new job. He’s gonna be great at it, a real creative chance, something he’s earned. All melodious afternoon schedule disrupted by urgent phone call—the credit card I’d given my son to pay for next semester wasn’t honored as I "hadn’t signed the back." I had to hightail it up to the Bronx, and there faced a line that would have gone a whole avenue block in Manhattan. Worked out alternative payment with a fax in a back office.
Embarrassed listening an interview I did with an attractive woman. I showed too much interest in what she said, and my critical faculties were suspended in favor of buttressing her ego. I wasn’t overtly coming on to her but my whole mood was solicitous and over-friendly. She could conclude that she favorably impresses people with her compassion and intelligence. Truth is, most of the talk was a yawner. Thank God I can edit! Now I shouldn’t be too hard. There’s no harm in have a conversation longer than that which you plan on using. But this was a bit much.
Reading amazing stories in The Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr. One, the title piece, concerns a blind shell collector who lives by the sea in Kenya and can tell the species of shells by touch. Also, when a little known shell-dweller bit a visiting American suffering from malaria—and the venom paralyzed her for 12 hours but then she was cured—news got out and the poor blind hermit was inundated by cure-seekers world-wide. Also a story about an extremely tall high-school girl who falls in love and leaves town with a metal eater who performs at a circus-type show.
Super Bowl yawner. Third quarter blues. Impotent Oakland—the same team that murdered the pompous Jets! Losing badly. I’ll eat these words if they make a miraculous comeback, but that’s not likely. Talked at some length with my 8th grade cousin. After amusing banter we communicated with more meat, and engagingly bid each other goodnight. Uh oh, Oakland just scored again. But they’re idiotically going for 2-point conversions. Save ‘em for the end. Well, I’ll end this, thus going on the record on the losing side if the miraculous happens. Another round of bitter cold slated for tomorrow—and snow.
Objectively speaking, the entity which is me found himself lunging forward as close to uncontrollably as ever in memory towards grabbing and embracing or inappropriately groping this certain
. I have known her for a long time and gee, can I possibly understand this? It’s not going to happen, that’s for sure, but if desire alone were the guide… Then again, I don’t sense anything other than playfulness on her part—-which I can observe in her with any number of men. I called her a siren today. Interesting to note. "It always did hit me from below." Go!
There was a point in President Bush's State of the Union, when he was going over the reasons we should invade Iraq, that his voice took on the clipped, somber—even pained—cadence of a great leader wearily telling his nation that it must go to war. It was not difficult to feel stirred, to share in his outrage: yes, this is a noble fight, we will vanquish the truly evil enemy.
Torturing people with electric drills. Dripping acid on skin!
"If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning." A truly stirring moment. Yes. But lest we forget.
This was the same George Bush who has no history of understanding freedom. What is he fighting for? Is it truly to vanquish evil and remove the barrier from a people who, thanks to our intervention, could then unfetteringly choose their own destiny? If this is so, why is he at the same time—at home—pursuing a policy through the Dept. of Justice to disfigure the freedoms of our founding fathers, and scarily seeking to remove sacred legal protections from his own citizenry? So you suspect his motives. And for this your son should die? Not my son. No.
I’ll risk living in the dangerous world without attacking every tinpot dictator. Attacks from afar don’t work. Yes, Saddam’s dangerous. Yes, Bush probably properly chronicled unbelievable tortures. But Amnesty International has been chronicling them for years (and does not exclude the practice of the US government on its list). So really there would be just no end to the war effort, if equally applied throughout the world. You can’t intervene everywhere. Especially when your own house remains out of order. But what I’d suggest is a vastly superior spy apparatus. Infiltrate with seeming locals everywhere. Destroy from within. Get started.
A final note. The Supreme Court is now the last resort for Yaser Esam Hamdi, an American held without bail, without charges, and unable to see his lawyer—so great is the spread, a lower court agreed, of Bush's power under new laws to fight terrorism—even though no specific proof was offered that Hamdi killed anyone or was even armed. As Nat Hentoff reports in the Voice, the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights says the United States "has lost something essential and defining: some of the cherished principles on which the country is founded have been eroded or disregarded."
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