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Dipping an Oreo in milk, ready to call it a night. The next thing I know, something is simmering on the stove and I'm wrestling forks out of the dishwasher caddy, placing them back in the drawer. I wipe the counters clean, getting behind the coffee pot, before pouring the pasta into a bowl. Trying to imagine another clean night somewhere else. A time when things felt secure and ready for the next day. A time when I was alone, but okay with it. That was my apartment in Tampa. I miss the private patio--turtles swimming around the spray.
"Oh, they're free. Take as many as you like," the woman said, referring to the rice krispies treat samples. I took one, neatly enclosed in a cupcake wrapper. The square treat was topped with candy sprinkles, and it tasted like warm vanilla. I stood at the counter as my reuben was prepared, neglecting the waiting chairs. I carried the oversized bag containing the sandwich and a small apple back out into the heavy heat. Back at my desk I observed that the rye bread was needlessly fancy, with pinwsheels. My eyes drooped, focusing in and out while following the pattern.
Tonight it's a bag of chicken spinach florentine, as I listen to the slow crescendo of fireworks outside. I thought about Christopher during the ride back to my car. It was a brief time period nine years ago, now. Whenever he invited me over, I was always free to make a drink. In the freezer sat the frosted bottle of Absolut Citron; cranberry below. A Norah Jones CD decorated his coffee table. Exiting the bus, the air was rich with rain and mineral. Five-foot tall species of weeds, in unkempt landscaping beds, released a perfume of hot mint.
There was a hot breeze in the mid-afternoon air, and traffic was light. My drink was perspiring. There was the sensation of creamy ice crystals working their way down my throat. The drink tasted sweet and chalky--very mild. I scooped the whipped cream off the top with the end of my straw and considered the time. There was still a half hour to kill before the movie, but I didn't feel like one. Instead, I allowed myself to just drive. I used to do so more often, but with age comes purpose--it seems everyone needs a plan.
The bologna sandwich was nothing special. I tasted the mayonnaise that I spread over the swiss cheese earlier, but it lacked zest. "It needs more mustard," I told Jonathon,before took another call. His voice has a lulling aspect to it, which I find attractive. He's receptive and open with me, and I would date him. But Tuesday when he mentioned he would be at a Tigers game on the 4th, I was no longer sure about his preferences. So I listened to his soft-spoken advice as I ate, breathing in the whisps of steam from my paper cup.
Coffee and crunchy granola bars this morning. I had two cups, thinking that would make the day go by faster. I went to the movie theater with Amy afterward. The movie sucked, something about a teddy bear, but it was great being in a peer's company. We talked about various other co-workers, returning to some people continuously, like flies. I never cared much for gossip. As I drank mineral rich water from the drinking fountain in the dark theatre, I fixated on a guy in the seat in front of me, brushing his sweaty face with a gentle palm.
Small bites of oatmeal, peaches and cream, dripping somewhat in warm milk. Behind, the blinds move in and out to the sound of a neighbor's wind chimes. A movie is playing about an insomniac who, while working nights in a supermarket, discovers he has the ability to freeze time. It would be great to be able to just stop the clock when I feel I'm not being productive--when I'm not writing, not networking, not painting. The spoon clanged against the bowl as I scooped oats from the sides. Making sure to rinse completely so any residue doesn't become concrete.
It was early for a Sunday. I had McDonalds. There was a yellow vase on the table with a patriotic assortment of flowers. Glitter sticks accented the blooms, and a handful of red glitter sat at the bottom. I bit into the crunchy hash brown hastily; I needed fuel to spend the rest of the day 'out', going places at whim. I bought dad a retirement card, but he was golfing. So the day ignited with dropping off photos: an 8-year old Canon with pictures of my brother and his current girlfriend partying, and prints from Mom's disposable camera.
I lifted back the shiny, metallic foil. The fresh grinds resembled layered mousse or frozen yogurt. After chugging a cup's worth, cream and sugar included, the commute began. The aftertaste of roast beans remained; replaced this evening with a more astringent odor of creme developer. Cool air pouring from the ceiling vent aided in the slight tingling effect, and I succumbed to the 30-minute wait. Tomorrow I will be working at a new office building, which means I will no longer be on the bus for an hour and a half each day. Start of something new, at least.
The new place was nice--very roomy and modern. Fear gently distorted it, as it barred its fangs. The monitor was too close. I was getting too excited. After all, I was now sitting close to an attractive guy. It continued driving home. I don't have the luxury of sitting on the bus and resting my eyes after using the monitor. Had trouble waiting at a couple red lights. Turned off the road and tried to check my weather app. Was it too hot to go to the park? I glazed my tongue in powder. Just want to go home.
The new office is like Ten Forward on the star ship Enterprise 1701D: very roomy, modern and public. A hundred people gathered around fruit trays, complete with sour a sour yogurt-style dip, and an assortment of baked goods. Executives, too far up the ladder to even know, murmured professionally as expressions wavered between pride and complacency. After the line was gone, I loaded the fruit onto a plate, slopped a spoonful of dip in the middle, and grabbed a mini-baguette. Before I finished, Abhi's head popped over one of the three 4-foot walls. There's calls in queue.
Jethro started the presentation and sat against the wall, looking back and forth between the screen and the new recruits. The fan blades slowed to a combative speed, as if someone were twirling a ball and chain. Some men appeared stoic as the events unfolded. Others tried, but couldn't contain breaking their composure briefly. A clay hue began casting sedimentary impressions across the audience--encompassing the entire face of the man re-positioned at his desk with his arms crossed, staring at him. Jethro turned the blinds, darkening Jupiter's influence. He would need to have a talk with him soon.
I'll say it straight and plain. I know I've made mistakes. I've always been afraid. A thousand nights or more, I travel east and north. But please answer the door. Can you tell me. You say that love goes anywhere. In your darkest time it's just enough to know its there. When you go, I'll let you be. But you're killing everything in me. Get down on your knees, whisper what I need. Something pretty. Something pretty. I feel that when I'm old, I'll look at you and know, the world was beautiful. Can you tell me. Jimmy Eat World
The courtyard is quiet and the air is mild, coaxing. I remember in the colder months, there seemed to be more activity from my neighbors. I could hear loud music downstairs, and see other neighbors outside by the grill smoking pot or cigarettes. But now, it's just still, with the utilitarian glare of each unit's automatic porch lights. An old woman lives alone in the unit where I met J. She leaves her blinds open with the TV on nightly. Dark figures walk by beyond the courtyard under the dark shapes of trees as a car turns on its headlights.
Went to the Plymouth Art Fair today, which has become, unbeknownst to me, the second largest art fair in Michigan. I parked a good half mile away, jumping off curbs onto the street where the pavement had been upended by construction workers. I only arrived an hour after it opened, but you'd think I got there in the middle of the event. Guys in sandals, women rolling carriages, expensive murals. It wasn't a big deal being around so many people because for the most part I kept myself busy with my new camera, wondering where to take the next photo.
I'm second guessing--
what I'm thinking
That, out of the corner,
of my eye, sits
The most beautiful
man I've ever seen
His thoughts concise,
his movements in sync
with an openness:
a thin, masculine
Wild, sharp, calculating,
brown eyes; turning, knowing--
I will meet them in moderation.
Breathless, I draw on
the flowering, the forgotten;
locked away tightly,
deadly. On the phone, he speaks clearly,
and there's a sheen
below his spiked hairline.
I walked into the restaurant and sat at a booth facing a sports feature with plenty of mindless, enthusiastic chatter. After some signaling, I found myself looking up at a man with with hair buzzed on the sides and crop of curly blond on top. I ordered a small beer and the soup of the day. I was finished within 10 or 15 minutes, ready to conquer the rest of the commute home. Sun glinted off SUVs, cars, but that was OK because I was wearing my polarized shades--falling asleep that night with something of the emotion I avoided.
"Writing is Easy, all you do is sit at a typewriter and bleed," Hemingway said. I was watching
Hemingway and Gellhorn
today, and found the filmaking and plot very artistic, in contrast to a NY Times review, which depicted Owen and Kidman as two dimensional. But I liked the way the film seamlessly transitioned between modern and 1940's sepia. I also liked the way in which typical love scenes were made into original, eclectic experiences. Nevertheless, the abuse of tobacco in the movie (Kidman constantly smoked), had me with an e-cigarette in hand, wanting to quit soon.
Not sure what to say today. I had mac and cheese and half of the bundle of asparagus I bought last weekend. It was a night of sobriety, thinking about my career, my future, while shrugging it off to ease the pressure. Watching the smoke drift out of my bathroom window toward the telephone lines and the two birds sitting on one of them. Some commitment has to be made. Other people have done it. I have always had the encouragement; that I can't deny. The night ended with a couple sentences put into the open journal on my desk.
Regarding the periphery conversations, I learned Jessica has a Masters Degree, and considers herself 'stuck' in our position, which didn't make me feel so bad considering I have a Bachelor's. Mike, older than our 20 to 30-something work group, likes to have guys over to play Star Wars video games as a way of getting 'necessary' socialization. And of course, there was him again, sitting with a text book on Biology, facing me between calls, feet up in sandals. But I was as old as him 8 years ago, reviewing documents peacefully in a dusty office in Ford Dearborn.
My brother and I were going to get pizza when he mentioned that he's planning on buying a house with my mom. The news left me in a state of puzzlement. She's going to need someone to take care of her, he said. And my kids need a yard. It's no problem taking care of mom as well. It sounded good to have mom being cared after by family, meaning my brother or me; but I questioned his ability to do so, admitting that even I have trouble. It wasn't until later, alone, that I realized the pieces don't fit.
I know this doesn't sound very masculine, but I've always been awkward with huge chunks of meat. I left a pound of it on the counter for a few hours, before Googling the proper ways to defrost it. My head was in a whirl, looking through numerous bulletin boards where most people argued against it. That's when the power went out for a couple hours. I threw the meat back in the fridge. Later, I took it out, hungry, unsure--kneading it and noticing that it was still cold and hard below the surface. But it's done. I made spaghetti.
This morning, before going out the door, I meditated for 10 minutes in the center of my apartment. It felt funny for the first few minutes, just sitting there, but then I concentrated on my breathing. I became aware of some of the thoughts that had already occurred to me as I got ready. I imagined them as a wind, though, and relaxed as I took the Buddha's advice and allowed them to come and go. I breathed deeper, and deeper, until I could breath from my waist. Then I simply rose to attention, leaving the room with a click.
Jethro had discreetly judged each man's self-reliance on a scale of 1-5 as they watched the film. Later, the information would be given to Alexandra and her team of counselors to monitor those who scored two or below. He questioned the accuracy of the scores because he was essentially 'judging a book by its cover'. Nevertheless, it is a practice traded off to him after his father's retirement. The trainers would give their opinions as well, but only Jethro and his father knew what to take into account when coming up with the number--what to look for.
I found a leaf bug on the stairwell today. It was in a weird position behind one of the bars on the top landing. I reached up with my camera from the closest step below, watching its long antennas sway. Outside, clumps of dirt and dead grass were being displaced by a someone edging. The riding lawnmower wasn't far away. I thought this bizarre since the grass around the building has been yellow all summer. The commute wasn't bad, except that I forgot my lunch a few min into the journey--allowing me to return and find the bug elsewhere.
There was a crunch as I bit into my Greek chicken sandwich, noting a couple patrons to my left and a co-worker I've never met at the windows. The restaurant is part of a chain known for their soups and sandwiches. The first store I visited is in Dearborn, but I never went alone; Ramiro and I went together, which only exacerbated my feelings for him. One time I showed up to the office with a bad haircut, so he offered to shave my head after work. We shared half a drink at his parent's, but that was it.
"I just can't believe they asked you to go."
There was a noticeable pause before Alexandra received a response. Alone, she fidgeted in the dark, hunched over the display. But then, she began to see Michael formulating a response.
"I'll be fine, you know no one has been in a diving bell longer than me. I love you," he replied.
It was now Alexandra's turn, but no words would come to her fingertips. She thought about the patients who needed counseling tomorrow, and knew that whatever she said would haunt her.
"I love you too, M."
A picnic table, barely discernible among long, unkempt weeds, sat beyond an old farm gate. The chain looked like it would break without much effort. Kazuo Ishiguro wrote
Never Let Me Go
, a science fiction novel about humans raised like cattle to be organ donors. The film was produced by Mark Romanek, and I found the characters' passivity, accentuated by the smooth instrumentals, so frustrating that I almost turned it off. It wasn't until the end that I realized that there was something fundamentally wrong with every person. The chicken wire for them existed only in their minds.
Ummm...yeah, Alexandra muttered. The cafeteria was fresh out of honey. When it came to tea, it was Sleepy Time with honey or nothing. She poured the beverage down the drain, and snatched up the wasted peppermint herbs--squeezing its juices into the stainless steel basin. Her fingers appeared pale; long and slender, as they shyly slipped the grains into the wastebasket. She glanced over her shoulder, The room was full of new recruits. Shaking her dark, curls in annoyance at the foolish anxiety the situation induced, she grabbed the coffee pot and sloppily poured herself some brew--coyly re-positioning.
I became trapped in the ice for days, and it was so...so small that I couldn't even sit down. For the first day or so, I held tight to my phone, seeing what everyone was up to back home, on Earth. A soup of information: wise old quotes that read "We can only be what we give ourselves the power to be", collections of pictures that told a life story. I didn't want to say anything, because no one could find me over on Europa, and besides it would take weeks for my activity to be accessible to anyone.
I recently started reading Charm School, by Nelson DeMille, a book I always avoided because it didn't contain the infamous John Corey. It was a little hard to get into, but I'm glad I remained patient because it takes a more intimate look at communism. When I think communism, I think of the time spent on Google Maps, observing how every building is similar in size. I think of Zangief, from Street Fighter II, brawling in an alley. I think of accents, and how my friend, Mariusz, being from Poland, had a similar, latent accent. I think of suffocation, security.
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