Archive for May, 2010

Sad Clowns and Disco Boys.

Posted on May 30, 2010

“Maybe they’ll call me tragic” he says hopefully. Wistfully.

He grins awkward and crooked for a moment and then his eyes glaze and he stares dreamily through me; his face fixed, bearing a mutant’s smirk.

“They won’t think of you at all,” I say before I can stop myself.

Immediately, I wish I could take my words back. I hate to be the bearer of such news and I know he won’t believe me yet anyway. He’ll need to do his time and come to this on his own.

The sage-like tones that accompany my assertions are hard-won and harder accepted. He’s still living the dream.

As for me, I think of death often. Mine. His. Other people’s.

I consider when and how and the affect of the thing on those we leave behind.

I contemplate the preventable and the unavoidable, the calamities and tragedies.

I examine the sociological synthesis between leading causes of death in a given year and the state of the economy and other socially driven forms of ease or dis-ease. I seek patterns and connections and tangible reason. I seek comprehension of that which is largely incomprehensible. I do this in spite of my best efforts not to…

It seems that the leading cause of thinking about death is trying not to think about death.

However, it is because of these unrelenting reflections that I truly grasp the verity of our utter inconsequence. And this can be oddly freeing…

I know that the best most of us can hope for is some shadow of influence. Perhaps some whittled down version of our tales will traverse time and space and meet the future thanks to a stranger’s rendering of them…maybe through music or paint.

Maybe someone will detail the events of this night in Japanese one day. Maybe they’ll depict our pain in a poem. A haiku, possibly. I imagine the carefully crafted, indiscernible characters floating across a page of recycled bamboo paper. I imagine this moment in a universal sense. I pray that someone will be more proactive about its documentation than I’ve been.

My reverie is interrupted as he abruptly stands and moves toward the window.

Instinctively I follow him; fearful that he has chosen now to try and prove me wrong about the masses and their posthumous recollections of his tragic nature.
Instead though, he pulls a cigarette from a pack that lives on the windowsill. It seems he is still opting for the deliberate, creeping route toward an inevitable end, which pacifies my immediate concern and I fall back to my perch on the arm of the couch.

He doesn’t notice my movements. He seems not to notice my presence at all, really.

The custom-made gauzy white curtains billow mightily toward the ceiling; a reaction to a strong and unexpected gust of wind. An ember from his cigarette gets caught in the melee and burns a hole through the delicate fabric before falling to the floor and smoldering until nothing remains.

I used to care so much for things like gauzy curtains and rogue ashes.

But now they barely register.

I am preoccupied by his shadowy image and the dreamy phantasmagoria playing out before me.

He sits on the ledge of a window with no screen; unwittingly becoming the living, breathing metaphor of his own mental state. He is transparent yet furiously sobbing and wracked with free-form shame. He exhales a gasp of carcinogen filled smoke and his gaunt face becomes marred and I imagine him old and sickly. He is barely recognizable, a man on the edge in every way…I fight the niggling thought that it was my actions that got him here.

I opt instead to focus on his zippy, hooded sweatshirt.

“Love Kills Slowly,” it reads in dramatic cursive stitching.

He’s been wearing this jacket everyday for more than a week, but on some level he’s known this truth since the day we met.
Acknowledgement is a necessary evil, I think.

He turns to me then, as though I’d just arrived, as if I were new to the scene; a neighbor popping in for a quick coffee or asking to borrow an egg or some other triviality…

“So how’ve you been?” he asks easily. “What have you been doing?”

I am surprised when I answer in tones as casual as his.

“Not much. Work. Life. Just feeling kind of…solitary” I say.

I am careful with my word choice. Solitary is fair, in spite of my near-constant state of accompaniment. ‘Alone,’ would’ve been a more exact truth, but assuredly he’d find cause to argue the adverb.

Best to stick with simple adjectives at this time of night.

A long beat envelops the space.
He stubs his cigarette out.
He lights another and inhales deeply before speaking.

“The key to happiness…to all good things, really,” he says, “is stupidity.”

I silently disagree. Stupidity and ignorance are wholly different, I mentally argue.
But I let it go. Close enough, I reason.
He’s drunk. I’m exhausted.

His eyes change suddenly; now emitting an intense flaming lucidity that is by turns radiant and evil. I try to look away but the searing beams of light latch into my corneas before I can even mount a defense.

A vein in my arm vehemently pulsates and then it bursts without warning. The blood gushes just beneath the outermost layer of my epidermis causing my skin to swell and then violently tear amidst the chaotic pressure.

I look to him in fear and devastation, but he notices only vaguely. He lights another cigarette, apparently unaware of the one still pressed between his lips.

Streams of my indigo blood run the length of the slanted floorboards and coagulate in viscous tide pools in the corners of the room where the walls and the parquet meet.

“It isn’t even real wood,” I mutter, dizzy and fading.

Silence now.

He stands and turns from me. He wades through the noxious mess and down the hall toward the bedroom. He closes the door gently and locks it behind him.
I know in that moment that love and hate are exactly the same.

The wind swells. The curtains flutter and twirl, insolently taunting me.

The couple next door is throwing things again.

Jabs, insults, coffee mugs and such…

It’s Tuesday.

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Compromise. (Caught in the crosshairs)

Posted on May 16, 2010

Life changer, game changer, reality chaser...

Life changer, game changer, reality chaser...

Thoughts of you in any regard have been banished. It is the only way. You were my madness, my guilt, my knowledge and my truth. You saw through me and consumed me wholly and now I am forced to deny you and your light because I became inextricably tied to the shadows that you cast.

Still, the grey flashes come and I feel my body tremble in acknowledgement.

They arrive unbidden; indiscriminate blips from a space deep within a murky chasm in my brain. They appear obscured and shaded at first and might easily be disregarded as meaningless white noise; but I recognize these images instantaneously. I know better.

I see our hands gripped together and pulsating with grave intensity.

And only with our fingers fully entwined; clenched and clinging and necessary, only then was the full weight of your intention allowed to descend, and suddenly my options were none, so I gave you free reign to chip away my carefully constructed façade.

Years of precise indemnification vanished in a moment, and we held my naked soul between us.

I was afraid then, but I innately knew this fear to be life affirming. It was the final manifestation of my own ignorance and I watched quietly (gratefully) as you reaped it that night.

You were pulling me from the vortex and I held tightly to your palms.

I considered holding onto your thumbs instead, but we’d already discussed that you are among the 24 percent of humans whose thumbs are hyperextenable. You’d mentioned that your freakish appendages were a splash at parties and even though I knew that you’d used the line before, I laughed in a dizzy, girlish way, meant to indicate that I was intrigued and delighted by your tale.

And so as I recalled your story, in the moments just after the reality had blurred and taken on that peculiar nauseating, gyrating inertia, I questioned whether the inherent flexibility of your splashy thumbs could handle the violent tug of a flailing girl trying desperately to avoid the eternal abyss.

Your palms felt safer. And so I placed what was left of me inside them.

I try now to focus on your smell…the way you smelled that night…

My God. I could have laid with you for a century or three.

And now I cannot recall it.

Fuck. I can’t even cull the adjectives that I’d assigned to your natural fragrance, though I am confident that I’d thunk of many…

I know that I rolled them through my brain and heart and guts over and over and over again until they made no sense at all. Perhaps I’d even allowed them to slip from my tongue a time or two; attempting to taste them and measure their strength outside of the bottle.

I had hoped that uttering them aloud would make you real and somehow transmute you from the two-dimensional character living in my brain to a four-dimensional life force existing and feasting in my realm, dancing and leaping and dropping benign snippets of truth throughout the menagerie of my life.

My plan did not work, however, and now I am alone again, pining for a part of speech.

I would give anything just to remember your goddamn adjectives.

And while your specifics have gone missing, your aftermath is alive and well. You impaled my existence. You obliterated life as I knew it. I’d cultivated this life believing it to be custom made for me. It had once been a perfect fit. But now it is swollen and distended, and the silken cloths I had draped over it are weary and awkwardly stretching and straining in vain attempt to fit around this updated and enhanced version of reality.

The band plays on.

I got your email today. You said you hoped I was doing well.

You typed this wish on a separate line and added a comma and my name after the thought.

And because it was you who wrote it, I assigned great meaning and weight to this otherwise mundane nicety. Because it was you who wrote it, I paused to consider the thing.

I am not doing so well, I decide. In spite of your sincerest desires for me…

Nope. Actually, I’m really fucked up. I haven’t slept in awhile and I’m spinning and while superficially this state is not so different than when you found me; it is, because now I have cut my lines and have no anchor. This is not ideal.

You warned me about this…

But I’d been cavalier and insisted that the hard part was over. You knew that I knew better, but you accepted my flippant tone and offhanded shrug without much objection. It was late by then, and the sun was starting to come up.

You didn’t actually email me ‘just because.’ You were replying to a notice about a concert that I sent to you because I know you like the group.

Still, you wrote three lines of original text and I went with only a subject line and a link to Ticketmaster’s website, which made me feel like I won that round.

You are unaware that we are at war. This is for the best.

I could not win even one battle against you if the fight were fair.

I am drinking cheap white wine straight from the bottle with the shades drawn, which doesn’t really matter. No one will know. According to my social networking profile, I am having the time of my life. The social networks always paint an accurate picture.

And so I sit in my darkened cave, drinking punishing amounts of alcohol and listening to the black box recordings of ill-fated aero-planes just before they crash. I am attempting to grasp the concept of true fear and regret.

On a whim, I open the shade a tiny bit but I close it quickly because the streaming sunlight hurts.

I consider taking an extreme action intended to filch the suck-age from the spiral which eclipses me at present.

I contemplate not speaking for some significant amount of time a la Maya Angelou.

Then I too might know why the caged bird sings.

I try to remember which glamorous old film star just shut herself up in her mansion after her longtime love died. “I want to be alone,” were her parting words.

Was it Ingrid Bergman? Lauren Bacall?

The moment passes then, and I shift in my seat, making myself comfortable.

I won’t do either of these things. I won’t really do anything at all, most probably.

Invocation. Provocation. Motivation. Unable to be undone.


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Dealer’s Choice (?)

Posted on May 2, 2010

Full House (?)

Full House (?)

I am sitting Indian-style on the floor of my living room digging through tattered shopping bags overflowing with books.

My roommate placed them in this spot sometime last year.

They are allegedly destined for a charity or a dumpster or something, but they haven’t made it yet.

The situation doesn’t look promising.

I have plucked several titles that feel relevant and interesting from the dusty abyss, and they are now strewn about the floor surrounding me.

My roommate enters from stage right.

I watch as he directs a perfunctory glance toward my picks and I study his face as he takes them in.

“A Glimpse of Heaven.” “Jesus.” “The Book of Enoch the Prophet.” “The Reformation.”

I am a duck. Sitting.

“Look, I can save you a bunch of time and just tell you all about the God racket. Trust me, you’ll have that holy-roller screaming “Hallelujah” in no time,” he says.

He says this with no verbal inflection at all. It’s hard to tell if he’s kidding.

I’ve long suspected that my roommate spies on me and the statement he’s just made does little to pacify my paranoia on the topic.

He just knows too much. Especially because I haven’t really divulged anything yet.

After all, we just met six weeks ago.

I laugh then because I think he wants me to and also because I am uncomfortable.

And then I pause attempting to foreshadow a vibe switch, which is imminent.

I am hoping to warn him that the forthcoming moment will be a sober one. A serious one.

He should try exceedingly hard not to say anything dumb or irritating.

And when I feel the moment settle, I quietly tell him that I believe that I actually may have felt something last night…standing there amongst all those believers, I mean…

This feeling, while not completely foreign, had felt excruciatingly distant and buried; and then it fled. It vanished as quickly as it had appeared, and now I know that I must find it again.

It will necessitate thorough examination and honest appraisal.

I think I want to read these books, I tell him. For me.

I allow my words to trail off and he turns and walks away as if I hadn’t spoken. As he retreats, he mutters aloud about a time when he was 19 and had almost joined the priesthood.

My roommate used to be a banker but he got laid off, and now he runs an online porn business from his bedroom while collecting unemployment.

The man knows how to work his way around a lemon.

My phone rings.

Do I have a moment for a brief survey?

There’s a real-live human on the phone. This isn’t one of those automated surveys. I find it hard to hang up on another human. Especially one with a really shitty job.

He’s not selling anything, he is saying. Please, can he just ask me two quick questions?

I’m feeling benevolent. I’m also feeling sad that he is doing a job that could be done far more efficiently by an automated system. I agree to answer his two quick questions. He is grateful. He prefaces the first question by stating that I was selected for this survey because I live in the greater Los Angeles area and have a car… I interrupt him. I’m in New York. I don’t know how to drive. I’ve had my cell number for many years now.

Oh, wow, I love New York, he is saying.

I tell him there are t-shirts for people like him.

He misses the joke.

I should be careful. I should be aware over there, he is saying. It is important to stay safe.

God bless you, he says.

And then he is gone. The line goes dead and I sit for a long moment staring as the screen of my phone fades to black. I am trying to remember the last time someone blessed me just for the hell of it.

I know that Hugo thinks I’m a whore.

Hugo is the overnight concierge in my building.

I don’t blame him for thinking his thoughts; no matter how flattering or offensive I may or may not find them… I mean, it’s actually a very logical conclusion.

I’ve lived in this complex for nearly two years and I’ve only seen Hugo a handful of times; usually when he is covering a day shift.

But recently Hugo has become a featured player in my world. A constant…

He provides the necessary punctuation when my nights and days blend and the world feels senseless as I amble through his office bleary-eyed and wanton, but trying very hard to appear normal.

Hugo probably thinks I’m on drugs the way I carry on.

The asinine hours I’ve been keeping do nothing to dispel this notion. Besides, whores and drugs go together. It makes sense.

Hugo is wrong though. I’m not on drugs. And I’m not having sex with even one person, let alone the multitudes of people that real whores are required to muck about with.

Still. Hugo has no way of knowing that the people keeping me up all night are good, solid Christians.

They don’t do drugs.

They don’t arbitrarily fornicate to satiate the demands of the feral beast within.

They fight temptation.

They hope they will be rewarded with deliverance from evil.

Maybe I should divulge these details to Hugo. He’s Spanish. The Spaniards dig Jesus.

Maybe he’ll understand me.

Maybe we’ll bond and bless one another for no particular reason.

I consider this only briefly before I decide to let Hugo think what he wants to. I don’t actually care.

Besides, I somewhat enjoy the cloak of shadowy mystery that has been cast upon me thanks to Hugo’s visions of me turning tricks while hopped up on crank.

Further, I know that Hugo spends the majority of his shift sleeping in his chair, all sloppy and slumped over and drooling on the front desk and shit.

He should be eagle eyed and alert, vigilantly guarding the entry gate and protecting the residents from ill-intended interlopers. I also know that Hugo is far more intimately acquainted with Dolores, the Dominican cleaning lady with the sunny-disposition, than a man who is married to a woman who is not Dolores, should be.

I may be riff-raff but I have sources too.

And any secret worth keeping is also, for someone, worth telling.

Hugo is lucky that I’m not that someone. For me, his secret isn’t worth telling.

Besides, I only come out at night these days, and anyone who might care about Hugo and Dolores is definitely asleep then.

If I bothered to form an opinion on Hugo, I would not speak of it. I would take care and hold my tongue, thus ensuring that defamatory untruths should never tumble from my lips.

I doubt that Hugo is equally prudent.

He swathes his conjecture-laden opinions of me in fabric that bears a striking resemblance to the fabric donned by men who uttereth facts. Things become convoluted. And then, with reality and fiction inextricably intertwined, Hugo is free to disseminate his open-ended fairytales to the masses.

I imagine that he speaks in haughty tones while perched on a make-shift podium spreading his falsified notions of me and my whore-ish nature while they listen eagerly and blindly accept his gospel without question.

Which is sad because, like I’ve said, Hugo’s version of me is mostly completely inaccurate

I wonder what the other residents of my condo complex think of me. The complex has three hundred and sixty some-odd apartments in it. They are spread out among three buildings.

It’s reasonable to think that the other residents may not think anything of me at all…

Perhaps they’ve never noticed me…

I allow the idea to tumble around the soft tissue of my brain. It grazes through billions of neurons. It plays tag with my synapses. It chats with the axons and then expresses a few frustrated feelings to the suprachiasmatic nucleus before it is suddenly washed away altogether by a flash flood of endorphins.

I should like to believe that I have gone unnoticed in these parts…

But I know better…

At one time this complex was a tin-can factory.

During the war, the factory stopped producing tin and it produced arms for the military instead.

I don’t really know which war all that happened during, but I assume it was sometime after The Civil and before Operation Desert Storm.

During the 90’s, the factory was converted into pricey condos with 25 ft. ceilings and lofts.

The location of the factory is far more suitable for fancy housing than mass production of tin anyway. The buildings are perched on a cliff overlooking the Hudson River which provides a very unique and exclusive vista of the entire New York City skyline. You could even see The World Trade Center. Back before it was destroyed by the evildoers, obviously….

This is the sort of place that people aspire to live in.

This is the sort of place that pits the condo owners who still reside here against the condo owners who bought cheap back in the day, and now charge vagrants like me astronomical sums of money to rent their units, so they can chill and drink white wine spritzers from the safety of the veranda in their Long Island McMansions.

Don’t get me wrong; the people who live here are nice. I mean that.

And I’m not being snide just because I consider “nice” to be the most useless adjective around.

But just below the surface, these are people who possess an innate distrust of the vagabonds who camp here for short while.  They rest with one eye up.

They aspired to live here and now they do, and as such, they will protect their quality of life by any means necessary.

It’s hard to find fault in that.

As such, they keep careful track of we ‘transients.’ I’m sure they have files on each of us. After all, they have a community to keep safe.

My roommate probably helps them. After all, he owns his condo…but he also rents his space.

He is a double agent… the problem and the solution.

No wonder he knows so much about me.

I ponder the facts in my file…

These people know that when I moved here in August of 2008, “I” was half of a “we”. “We” lived in the C building. They know that the other half of my former “we,” is a musician. They know that we sublet our place to some strange characters last year and we moved to Maui for a while. They know that we keep odd hours. They know that we used to fight sometimes. They know that, on occasion, we would fight loudly. They know that we smoke. They know that a month ago I moved to the A building. They know that I smoke far less now. They know that I spent the week prior to the move painting my new room a snazzy shade of green. They think that it’s strange that “we” are still friends and that I only moved across the corridor. We know what they think.

We don’t care.

But now, thanks to Hugo and probably my roommate, they know that I gallivant like a hooligan far into the wee hours of the night or the morning or whatever, doing God knows what, with God knows whom, as I flagrantly shun all that is righteous and holy.

If only they knew, I think.

But they know only what they know, and they know only what Hugo hath told them.

And Hugo only knows half of the story, obviously.

No harm, no foul, I guess.

While I do wish that we might avert our collective gaze, and somehow implicitly agree that no one saw or heard anything; I can’t say that I blame poor Hugo for his part in this.

He is merely honoring the other agreement that he’s made: he will barter vital intel about the drifters and the gypsies and the ruffians such as myself, in exchange for absolution and faux-ignorance of the fact that he sleeps when he is being paid to work and fucks his girlfriend while she is being paid to clean.

Means. End. Justification. Survival. Understanding.

I get it.

We all have our thing.

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