Self Conscious, the J Eric Miller blog

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Fashion Sense. Going to Colorado

….Though I may not need a wife I certainly could use a woman to dress me. Or at least to tell me I’m dressed ok.

Think of Friday, dressing for class.
A sudden lack of faith.
I’m dressed wrong.

This rich brown of the jacket compliments nicely the light green of the shirt. That’s what I tell myself in the closet. Not even sure if rich brown is a good description. Maybe it’s auburn—what the fuck is auburn? Maybe it’s mauve.

I don’t know, but the way I say it, it sounds right. Rich brown compliments the light green. What is the name for light green? Lime?

It sounds good and I dress accordingly.

In the mirror, I think: Hell yes, that’s a sharp combo.

Five minutes later, in the kitchen, my eyes keep going toward my torso. Caught by something. Maybe something wrong.

This auburn, this brown, this mauve, it’s too rich for that very light green. Lime. Whatever.

That sounds right as well. Too rich.

So I go look in the mirror and now I can’t tell. All I see reflected is what I think. First it was good and now it bad. My perception corrupted.

It’s simple, I tell myself. It either looks good or doesn’t. Ok?

I move out of the doorway and lean against the bedroom wall and breath, focusing on a blue ball in the distance like the guy on the tape that my mother got me when I was a kid to help me fall asleep used to say: just watch the ball, clear your mind, bouncing away…

And then, when I feel half relaxed, I leap back into the doorway and look at myself. Trying to see what I really look like in this outfit. How I’d look to somebody outside my head.

Jesusgod! I’m an absolute stranger! Never mind the outfit. Who is that guy?
Forget about trying to figure out what he’s wearing and how it looks.
Just get used to the face.

Oh, me.

In a jacket that might not go with the shirt.

Flustered, beaten, unfaithful, I wear it anyway.

Friday morning, dressing for class.

…And now I find rather suddenly that it is bringyourdaytoschool day on Wednesday.
In Colorado, of course.
My four year old tells me this.
His mother, she doesn’t tell me. Not trying to be obtrusive, not knowing that he’d even know that was what they were doing that day, thinking, when she read the schedule, that she’d just keep him home.

And when she tells me this, it breaks my heart a little.

And when I tell her that he does indeed know, it breaks her heart a little.

The furthest I’ve ever felt us apart, bonded by the grief of the consequence of divorce for him, but separated by the idea that she didn’t just assume I’d come. That she didn’t at least mention it to me. That she didn’t think we should at least make that choice together.

That she doesn’t know almost no matter what I’d go.
It doesn’t really matter. It all works out.

The airlines give you tickets if you give them credit card numbers.

So I’m going, and it thrills him, and me, and her too, even.

And then I’ll bring him back, to hang out in GA with me for awhile.

The way I feel when he’s here, at ease, and as if nothing bad can happen.

I don’t nightmare when he sleeps in this house. I don’t nightmare when I sleep in a house where he is.

So cheers to the temporary end of nightmares, to quick trips and happy returns…

And the fact that the next time I blog, I’ll be in his company.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Some Say

…Ice entombing my truck.

This is me, eleven o’clock in the morning, dressed for the gym, slamming my elbows into the sheet that covers the door. Hearing the crack and seeing it spread and thinking: Jesusgod, that was the fucking window…

But no, just the ice.

Chipping at it with my keys. Beating at it with cold hands.

On the road, the great sheet of ice that covers the hood lifts and hovers, becoming second and distorted glass through which I must try to see, and then it shatters. I yelp, half duck. The pieces fragment against my windshield.

Some say the world will end in fire.

This little false emergency.

Nobody on the roads. Nothing to wreck into.

Ask my son what is water and he will tell you: it is warm ice.

…And Bally’s, it’s closed, the bastards, and I scrawl a note on a piece of paper: If I could make it here so could you.

And I chew gum and spit it on the paper and with that glue stick the paper to the door.

My DNA, but no real crime.

…And I remember that a girl I know some months ago gave me an extra hotel key card because with that key card one can gain entrance as a Sub Lodge guest to the Gold’s Gym.

Which is open.
So I steal their services.
They’ve stolen enough from me.

…Full on work out, back to what I used to do, trying to get back to what I used to be.
Three other people in the gym.
We look at each other: the obsessed, or the simple, or the undaunted.

Those who don’t know better.

Thinking, This ice storm not all that it’s cracked up to be. Is it?

…L Cohen writes:
An Eskimo showed me a movie,
He’d recently taken of you,
The poor man could hardly stop shivering,
His lips and his fingers were blue.
I guess that he froze,
When the wind took your clothes
And now, he’ll just never get warm,
But you stand there so nice,
In your blizzard of ice
Oh, please let me into the storm.


And somewhere in the NE, K, she tells me her husband has had her followed, men with cameras, not just locally, but on her travels, cities in other states, evidence of secrets that are not so secret, the pain and relief with which we [not she and I, there is no she and i] are really found out; and KH, she wants me to meditate with her, she’s always trying to heal me, and her motives are pure, not one of those people that fixes you so that they can own you; and FJ, she says she’ll not marry again: she has her own house; her own career; good friends; when she wants sex, she knows where to get it—for what does she need a husband? and C, the internet porn girl, she moved to California where she thinks she belongs; and J, she comes home from California, another home for her, that divided heart; and AP, I don’t know her since she left California, but she sends me cryptic messages “where are you” as if I’m the one who moved; and JA, she says she’s suicidal but not really—there’s a sort of glee in this conversation and by the end a sort of ease, and all these conversations, they’re about love and lesser desires; and M, she offers up a funny story about a visit to the gynecologist, that mask of comedy, and like FJ, she says she’ll never marry again, that she’s learned from her own marriage and from mine and all the marriages she’s known, from Brad and Jennifer and Tom and Nicole, that it doesn’t work; and in my office yesterday I open not entirely innocently a video from a far away friend, this twelve second biting bite, something to send me in a blushed smile through the halls; and KU, she says she keeps busy enough not to think about it, a certain kind of end, and busy enough not to think to much about beginnings, how necessary they will become, this dead space in which she knows better and knows worse; and MT, she’s wearing underwear or not but you’re thinking about it either way; and D, she’s wearing boots like mood rings; and H, she’s hearing incredible things from a child, and noting that it’s all incredible, what we hear from children; and halfway around the world, A, she writes me to tell me that her mother needs to leave her father so that he knows what it is like, and then it will work out, that strategy the only flaw of which is that for a woman to make a man believe she is really gone, she really goes; and in Montreal, M is busy, these work until five in the morning undays, but sends kisses; and these are the girls I believe I know in some small ways, with which I have some small conversations.

And I realize there are no brother’s in arms. That I belong to no fraternal order.

But then I remember a recent conversation with my high school friend, B, that surface thing we call keeping in touch and do from time to time, how we say we ought to get together this year, I should meet his wife, he should meet some girl that’s willing to drag around with me, and blaa blaa and woof woof…

And then, after we say goodbye, his voice comes loudly, before I can click the phone dead: Hey, he says.


We should really do it this year, we should really find a way to get together.

And he means it.
I know that because I know it is hard for him to say.

…And here, in Kennesaw Georgia in the Greenhouse Patio apartment complex, icicles hang from my window and people call me on the phone and tell me that I must know what to do in this kind of weather, having grown up in the West, having know the mountains of Colorado, the rez of Montana, and I tell them: No, this is new to me.

The places I’m from, it snows. It doesn’t rain and freeze.

It’s pretty here, whatever it is, not a winterwonderland.
This place muted by cold.
Everything so still you might not be aging.

The pine needles in the twelve yard stretch of forest on the other side of my window, the lie in a sheet of ice, looking brittle, the ice and the needles.

I’d hate to see someone walking there.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Antagonistic. My Impulse. The Good Gig. Confession. Fairy Tale. Strippers. Our Parents.

…I’m feeling antagonistic toward you today.
It’s been growing for some time and now its reached a bursting point.
You’re changing the way I write. Not in general--don’t let me flatter you--just here. This place.

This morning I type: Girls I Know; Girls, I Know; Girls: I Know.

Then it occurs: this is potentially offensive, the use of the word girls. As opposed to women. Or ladies. Or whatever you call them.

Remember the old days, when I’d talk about dating?
Remember the old days when I was unabashed?
Risked alienation all the time?

Now I’m too aware of you for that.
And so I’m angry with you.

Of course, a good counselor would tell me you didn’t do anything to me.
Own your problem, the counselor would tell me. It is, after all, yours.


…Still, you’re changing the way I write.
No, ok, fine, I’m changing the way I write.
You’re making me…I mean, I am… choosing to censor myself.

What I fear in a relationship, it is when she tries to take control of me. Or when I think she tries to take control.

I might seem to bend, before I realize what is going on, but then when I decide that is what is up, I revolt.

This has been every relationship I’ve had.

I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. The common denominator, it’s me.

…My impulse, it’s the same as always, it’s to make you walk.
I can’t walk myself.
I’ve never had the guts to face that responsibility.

I can make you want to go.

And the funny thing, not that it’s funny, it’s that when you do, I’ll go around feeling abandoned.

Because I’d rather see myself that way than see myself as one who abandons. In my world, any pain is better than guilt.

You think I’m much different than your last boyfriend, your ex-husband? Or if you’re the rare boy that reads this blog, that I’m much different than you are or have been?

You know I’m not.
You know exactly what I’m talking about.

What we’re really talking about, it’s that cliché of the fear of intimacy.

…But it’s a good gig, what we’ve got going here.
I listen to you and you listen to me.
That trade off.

All that quasi-affirmation of which we never got enough.

All the ways we begin to try to please our audiences.
Don’t go.

But we’ll wear on each other.
Tire of each other.
Get bored.

You put in that cd, and you realize, as much as I like this music, this is the last time, ever, I’ll want to hear it.

…My first wife, I never told you I was married twice, but the first one, she’s the good one, the mother of our child, the things she referenced as reasons to go, they were the things that brought her to me to begin with. The exact same three. The counselor, that last ditch effort, he noted that.

It didn’t matter.
I was telling her to walk. I thought it was good advice. In fact, it was.

This is what we do.
Hook up. Unhook. Marry. Divorce. Remarry. Redivorce. This long but not infinite dance.
Hoping halfway through that the fiddler calls for a switch.

…What I was thinking, it was: let’s have a different kind of love, the kind where you always like me just as I am, and vice versa, not just where you don’t get tired of my misuse of the semi-colon (I always dressed that way), but one in which the things you could have seen from the start and finally really see don’t bother you.

And don’t get bored.
And, you know, don’t get quit reading.

All that affirmation we never got.
Those tapeworms in our hearts.
The impossibility of enough nutrient.

…My second wife, the one I never used to tell people about, that two year intensity we called marriage, she became a dancer.

I’ve never been much for strip clubs. I take seduction too seriously to involve money. But I know the scene, have witnessed other men in it, have witnesses it through some very young me some long time ago, and after my second wife begin to dance, I got to know the scene much better.

What the men buy, most of them, it’s the illusion of connection. The good dancers, that’s what they sell; it’s not their bodies; it’s not their nudity; not the way they move; those things are peripheral. What they sell to most of those men, it’s the idea of some deeper connection, the kind she could never make to the customers before, the customers after, the kind he imagines her making only to him.

I wrote about it in “You Marry a Stripper”. I wrote that story years before I even knew the woman that I would marry that would become a dancer. These self fulfilling prophecies.

The men that get into money trouble in dance clubs, they are the ones who start to really believe in the connection.

And the dancers that get into a different kind of trouble, they’re the ones that start to believe in that connection as well.

…What we do, you and I, we dance for each other.

What we want, it’s not really love, it’s audience.
Which we confuse with love.
Which we confuse with acceptance.

L Cohen writes:
Cover up your face with soap, there, now you're Santa Claus. And you've got a gift for anyone who will give you his applause.

…I change the way I write so as not to lose you.
But once I perceive the need for change, it’s already lost.
It may be that I lost you, but it is certain that you lost me.

This is the trick that I play on myself.
Close to some one, I find reasons to distrust.
Tired of some voice, I find reasons to alienate.

I say, There is the door, this is the path.
I say, Go on now.
For real, I say, go.

…What I wonder about my father, it is if he ever decided to change.
What I wonder it is if he ever examined himself, if he ever knew something was wrong, if he ever tired to figure out what and why and how to change it.

I hope he didn’t. That wish, it’s for some difference.

When we think about our parents, we try to think about the things that will give us real hope of not turning out precisely as they did.

Good luck, right?

Thursday, January 27, 2005

You're No Good

What is that makes me put on Linda Ronstadt today? This afternoon, before going off to do my work, whatever that is, furrowing my brow over papers I seem to grade, staring at my office computer screen, wandering the buildings.

Classroom persona. Office persona. Hallway persona.

Anyway, what is it that makes me slip that cd into my player?
Why did I even buy that cd? How long ago and when?

No matter.

Like you, I’ve got hundreds of cds, maybe a thousand. And they can’t all be explained.

The question isn’t even really why did I put this one in.
The question is: what’s its effect on me.

This is me returning to complete health on a day when the sun shines.
This is me in this afternoon that feels like morning.
Sitting here tired eyed in my workout pants, clothes washing in the machine, bath running hot, tv dead.

Shades up, not a bad day at all, nothing dark on this horizon, the phone waking me up, my son calling, Good morning, daddy. How did you sleep? What did you dream?

Pneumonia fleeing my body.
Heartache like sore muscle pain, something you can enjoy.
This GA winter not rainy, not the way I remember the last two.

This is me greeting the day, reading the computer news, playing a few games of chess, drinking my chocolate soy milk.

This is me deciding on Linda Ronstadt, slipping her in.

Nostalgia factor, the music my mother listened to. The music I heard before I got out of the garden. Gordon Lightfoot. Jim Croce. Neil Diamond. Chris Williams.

I know why I have this Linda Ronstadt cd.
I have all of those cds.
I can quote you songs from them all.
The way my father taught me to collect movies.
The way I buy the Westerns we used to watch.
I can quote you lines from them all.

This is me, Thursday morning, revved up, feeling good.

First rift of “You’re No Good” and I’m out of the chair, pirouetting across the floor.
Dancing like Beavis, dancing light Elaine, dancing like a Saturday Night Skit.

But I’m not trying to be funny.
This is my joy dance.
Flinging my arms around.
Kicking my legs.
Winging walls, furniture, leaping over my laptop and again.
Getting all breathless.

I’d never dance like this in front of anybody. Not unless I was a kid and it was my mother. I’d never let some girl see me like this.

But the funny thing is, unselfconscious as I feel, this is when I like myself the best.

Return of the Jedi

…My ex wife, she calls wanting to know if I think Return of the Jedi is ok for our son.
It’s hard to say.

Me, I saw Jaws when I was four.
The Exorcist when I was five.
A Clockwork Orange when I was eight.

My parents, they were barely more than kids themselves.
They hardly knew what to think.

…Anyway, not knowing, I ask him what he thinks, if he thinks it may scare him.
He asks me, What are the scary parts.
I tell him about the parts that he might find scary.

He decides to watch it.

That’s what he and his mommy do.

Then he calls me back after.

No hello, but straight away: Darth Vader is Luke’s father, he tells me.

Perplexed. Trying to get his mind around it. How it is that a father comes to wear all black; what circumstances result in the idea of the son being the hero and the father the villain.

He doesn’t know what to ask, but he is anxious to understand something.

And I think about how we almost always fear things for the wrong reasons. It doesn’t mean our fear itself is wrong.

We worry about Jabba the Hut and the mouth in the desert , but its something deeper that scares our children. They see it already, the hints of real darkness in the world.

“He turned good again toward the end,” I finally offer to my son.

He’s got nothing to say to this.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Marry Me and Be My Wife/You Can Have Me All Your Life/I Love You and You Love Me..Tie Me Down and We'll be Free (props if you get the ref).

…The next time I get married, I’m going to seek counseling.

And I know about marriage, that if anything, I probably seem like I don’t think marriage is a great idea.

And, in truth, I don’t.

Divorce is more natural than marriage. That’s what I think.

…And yet, I know I will be married again. I can see that as a type of destiny. Not just because I want to—maybe I don’t necessarily want to—but because that is how I am.

All the little accidents that draw people close enough to believe.
Even if you know they are accidents, it doesn’t stop you from believing.
Even if you know belief is an illusion, it doesn’t stop you from acting accordingly.

Being aware of your motivations, that doesn’t always stop you from being motivated by them.

Even if they’re sort of questionable.
And in the end, aren’t most of them?

Learning yourself doesn’t cure you of yourself. It just makes it more manageable. Like any number of diseases, like any number of dis-eases.

…So you better ask yourself about this marriage that you’re going to be in, this marriage that you’re in, if you’re willing to be cynical about it all, if you’re willing to accept that divorce is more natural than marriage, then what really are you’re reasons for wanting to be married.

You’d be ask it.

And don’t just go blurting out the name of somebody you love and making that declaration of love after the name. As if that is an answer.

If that’s what you’ve done, you’ve just told on yourself.
You’re talking about wanting to possess somebody.

That, what you’re talking about, your excuse for the aisle and the flowers, the tuxes and children bearing rings, that’s just want and need.

Here now, do better.
Really, why do you want to be married?

Because you understand, don’t you, that want and need isn’t going to hold it together? Love itself, real and caring LOVE won’t either.
So don’t go counting on things less than it.

And as L will tell you, or MT, alcohol, well that’s a false remedy too.

You’re in trouble.
That marriage of yours.
That marriage that will be yours.

All that post ceremony.
All that post honeymoon.
What is supposed to be the rest of your life.

…The trick is not to find good reasons.
They all sound like good reasons.

These bumperstickers you’re printing on your heart.
These tshirt designs you’re wanting to wear on your sleeve.

The trick is to be honest about your reasons, not to have ones that sound good.
That way, when it all starts to go to pieces, you can get out your real reasons for wanting to be married.

You can see why you really thought you wanted to be here.
You can think about it.

If anything will save it, your fucked up marriage, it will be the list or real reasons.

Not the: I loved her.
Not the: I needed her.
Not the: I wanted to possess her.
(Fill in him if you like.)

It ain’t got cut it.

Your weakness and hers or his, it might keep you together. But is that what you got married for? So that known would just slightly under-weight the unknown and you’d stick to it?

Tsk tsk.

Like a man in a prison that has no locks anymore.

…You need a better list.
Get on.

…The doctor, he sees me today.
He listens. He taps. Reads a little from my file.
No pics necessary, no vision of the me inside of me made visible through some technology that if you think about it hard for even a moment is miraculous.

I’m sort of holding my breath. Three weeks since the other doctor tells me I won’t be doing anything for three weeks, buddy.

A month, a full month, since that first doc, the one with the red patch under her eye, tells me I’m got full on pneumonia.

And I’m waiting for this doctor, not the buddy type, not the oddly skin diseased type, this third doctor who seems a little sick himself, I’m waiting for him to say anything at all.

And he snuffles and reads and glances up at me and reads.

So I ask him, Doctor, how I’m getting on? Am I well again? Can I go back to my old life?

And what he says, it’s yes.

Glee. This is how I look when I’m happy.

What he tells me, It is that I can gradually work my way back into my regular life routine.
And what I think, it’s: You lovely little monkey (a term of joyous affection in this moment), I already have been gradually working my way back.

Because what he’s told me, I’m through it.
I’m finished.

…And driving home in that glow, I think of how this hasn’t been so bad, that sickness.
Maybe even bad’s opposite.
Some cleaning effect.

The way sickness makes you better.

…When I get married again, I’m going to seek counseling.
Before there is even a problem.
Before I even get married.

When I start taking some girl very seriously again, and she me, I’m going to say: Let’s go to counseling.

She’d look at me strange if she hadn’t already heard this speech.
You know, the one that starts with, When I get serious with someone again, I want to go to counseling.

Shall have heard that between the third and fifth date. Even not earlier.

So that when I say it, she’ll know what it means is: I’m starting to take this seriously.

Only, because of how much I want to take a serious relationship seriously, and because I believe in all that stuff they tell you about communication, I don’t want to tell her that in code.

I’ll have told her that I’ll ready: I’m taking this seriously.

So when I say it, let’s go talk to a councilor, it should be no surprise.

…Incidentally, I’m not built to think like that.
To walk around with my problems or their potentials exposed in begging bowls.

Men don’t like other people to solve their problems, or to try to.

But I know that counseling isn’t about somebody who can do that.
Just like love is not about finding the perfect person.

There is no perfect person.
There is no councilor who can solve my problems.

Most of them, they’re just people with degrees.
I could have gotten that degree.
You could have gotten that degree.
My most crazy ex, the one who pointed a gun at me to prove her love (and how crazy am I to still find that wonderfully romantic), she is getting that degree.

They’re not geniuses.
Oh a few of them in this broad field, but not many. Ideally, they should all be as rare as real artists, but they’re not.

I know the limits of my therapist. I saw his weaknesses. I saw the weaknesses of his approach. I knew he wasn’t going to fix anything, not really.

He didn’t have the magic, didn’t have the touch.

You put your soul in the hands of a preacher as if he is closer to your God than you are. What rare man would that be?
That spiritual genius, that artist of the soul.

But that guy talking at you from the front of church, he just went to the seminary.
He just got trained.

Like my therapist, that unrare man.
That average joe with a degree.

…So what’s the point?

The point is, there will be a context, an office, a meeting time, when you are encouraged to say things you’ll not normally say.

To someone you forget to say things to.

This non-genius, this person who can’t save your mental health or your soul, he or she can get you talking about things.

He or she can remind you what you already known: that this person your holding hands and waging war with, she’s on your side.

That once upon a time, you believed your life could primarily be about making this person happy.
That you don’t like anything unhappy in this person.
That for crying out loud, you are the source of her misery.
And deep inside, you don’t like that.
Now what can you do differently?

And that might help you to cut it.


If you’re in touch with your real reasons for getting married and wanting to stay that way. If they remain valid.

…Because in the end, it will be an act of absolute will.
People say love is a choice, but that’s not true.
You love who you love and don’t who you don’t and desire which is often confused with love is also not a choice.

But marriage, remaining together, that’s a choice.
The desire to want to do so, that too might be a choice, at least to a degree.
You’ll have to make it.

…When I get married again there will be some dumb ass Kaiser office, cheap prints on the wall, some councilor sitting their rolling his pencil, and it won’t matter who he or she is, we’ll talk, we’ll do our best.

I wish us luck, the three of us.

…She’ll have to know me thoroughly eventually.

I’ll have to confess it all to her, who I am.

What is that opening attraction based on?
It’s mystery.
Oh, we say it is that men like breasts and asses and women like money and security, but that’s not it.

It’s mystery.
Men think they can solve it primarily through the flesh. None of the bull shit about getting back to the womb. He’s trying to find you in there.

And women, they think it has to be solved primarily in other ways, less tangible ways, but she’s just trying to get into you too.

All these marriages around me are going to hell.
I know what that is. It is the end for one of them or the other of mystery.

The woman, when she loses the sense of it, when she realizes there’s nothing so grand in there, she tells the man she’s lost respect. Respect she equates to love.

And the man, when he feels he’s thoroughly probed her, when he feels he absolutely knows her, what he confesses into his pillow at night is that he wants to find something new and exciting.

Sand art. You build it. You look at it for a little while. You sweep it away.

All these marriages falling apart around me, all these people who can’t survive the end of mystery.

…Female friends tell me about their affairs and I try to understand the role of the cuckold.

And at first I want to thank lucky stars that I’ve never had to play it.
And for a moment, I want to think about how great I must be at something, these women that don’t go looking.

And then it occurs to me that that’s not true. If I were so great, why the end of things?

And what I realize is that the fact we never reached that stage, it is a testament to the greatest thing wrong with me.

That thing that has fucked up all my relationships and will fuck up the ones in the future, too.

It is that the woman, even after years, she never gets to know me well enough to feel the mystery is solved.

But she never really gets to know me at all.

Rather than be disappointed in the solution, she is caught up in the frustrated investigation.

I keep her off guard. I keep her dancing. I keep her moving from foot to foot, from pose to pose, she hardly knows what to think, when to breath.

Like those cats they experiment on at some university, these cats these unethical and heartless bastards place on discs in pools of deeper water, the disc unbalanced enough to require that cat to keep conscious, careful, because if it doesn’t, if it relaxes and doesn’t constantly readjust, the disc will go completely off balance and the cat will fall in the water and drown.

That’s what I did to all those women. Unethical and heartless bastard.

Those asshole experimenters, they do this to study sleep deprivation.

And me, I’m not studying anything. I’m just indulging my fucked up nature.

…When I marry again, when I even start to work toward that in a relationship, I’m going to find a way to get her off the disc.

I’m going to find a way to put her at ease.

And I’m going to hope that when she gets there, it’ll be ok.
That somehow, we’ll work out a way to deal with the end of our mysteries.
With the idea that it is not necessary to begin a new one.

…What we all want, really really want in the end, it is to be loved for who we really really are.

And what we fear, what we really really fear, it is that won’t happen.
And it’s good fear.
There is a ghost in the dark.
A murderer beneath your bed.
A monster on the street corner.

Those people that we love and that love us, they’re poised to move on.

And yet really, finally we must accept the night; finally we must sleep; finally we must go walking that street. And hope it’s ok.

That luck and strength and preparation see us through.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Absence and the Heart

…Driving to the bar, I’m excited, all blown up, happy.
There a light in me, around me, this rare moment.
As inspired by the music I’m listening to as if I’ve created it myself.
Free from the idea that I’m not free.

....What I miss for some reason I can’t quite figure is my ring.

There in the bar, the Dixie Tavern, an old friend of a place with no real friends in it, this respite from respite, I start to tap the glass, and there is something unfulfilling in this, and so I wonder: what? It’s the clink.

It’s the ring against the glass.

I wore my ring for a long time after I was divorced, but not for any reason based on bullshit theories about how women chase after men with rings. It was there for something else, some other security.

But still, that was ages ago, and why now when I tap my finger against the glass and expect that familiar clink, I cannot guess.

…Anyway, the Dixie Tavern, not overly full but I don’t need it to be.
I just need to be out. I just need to hold a vodka tonic. Well, that and drink it.

And what has blogging and this convalescence done to me, all this down time, all this time I’m stuck alone with my mind and my computer? It makes me sit there at the bar scribbling notes on napkins and stuffing them in my pocket.
Things for fictions.
Things for the blog.

Napkins which now I can’t uncrumple well enough to really decipher.

…Beside me early on is girl, her back turned, one of those shirts that don’t go very far down, one of those pairs of pants that hang low on the hip, a perfect and tight lower back, an overlooked part of the body, or it so it seems to me now.

Not that I'm lusting after it, or anything below or above it.
I'm a man in a museum. The exhibits wander by.

In fact, I don’t feel any real lust, not right away, not at all this night. I’m happy to be here, that’s all. In the chatter and the smoke and liquor smell.

…At the Dixie Tavern I’ve learned it best to pay from drink to drink or your tab will never equate to the drinks you can remember having taken. I find the right bartender, the one that makes them stronger, that is generous because he understands his generosity is rewarded in the tip, and so he pours the vodka deep and we have an understanding.

Nothing’s different here.
The band girls.
The boys wanting to play alpha male games.
The pool tables.

This is an old outfit. It occurs to me now, this night, when it’s almost fresh again, when this visit feels like one to nostalgia, that some night I’ll have outworn it.

The way I hear a cd and it occurs to me that I’ll never put it in again.
These strange and undramatic goodbyes.

But tonight, it’s not that night. That night, it’s still coming.

…I feel distant from the people, more distant than I usually feel, but not in a bad way, with no darkness between us, just space, or perhaps a sense of near invisibility, that I tonight I can really be a witness and nothing more.

Enjoy the noise.

I don’t have to know what the face of the girl with the lower back looks like.
There’s nothing I mean to connect with.

…What I do, tapping my ringless finger on the glass and making no noise, I think about my ex wife a little, and what she told me she did to get over me, which was think about me all the time, which was to never go numb against the pain or hide from it in noise.

To lock herself up and welcome it, embrace it, challenge it.
Until finally it was done with her.
Brave girl and smart.

And it doesn't bother me to think of this. In fact, it gives me a sense of ease. Perhaps I smile.

...And for some reason I think of my second ex, the second serious one, it’s been a year, maybe exactly, since she left, and what I think about while sitting at the bar is her flaws.

I see them in my head.
I remember how she grew past them and onto me.
I remember that she is not perfect.

…Two girls, they put their faces side by side and hold up their camera phones at arms length and take pictures of themselves together.

It’s nice to drink again and I think what I thought this summer, with the girl that lied about everything. Butt once upon a time, I didn’t know her as a liar, I knew her as a real possibility, or as close as I could get at that time to one.

And what I thought then, one evening at her house in the country, on the porch that overlooked the wilderness, where we sat drinking, where she sat with her tan legs raised and her head thrown back and the sky above us, I thought: if I was always slightly drunk, I could really be with her.

Maybe really be with anyone.

If every night I came home and had a vodka tonic.
Maybe two.
We could always be high and happy, always be goofing.

There are worse glues with which to hold a thing together.

…Sitting in the Dixie Tavern I look around and wonder if I could fall in love with somebody here.

Drinking in the Dixie Tavern, I think that indeed, I could, that in fact, it seems simple, looking at a girl for a moment, wondering about all the mysteries of her, believing that if you could be allowed to start to solve them, you would trade everything, your life alone, the parts of you that you want to hide, that to really know her, whoever she is, you would give up yourself to her.

In the Dixie Tavern, where they will try overcharge you on your nightly tab, where the good bartender pours extra vodka for the dollar beyond the normal dollar tip, where the girl with the tight lower back has roamed off with some pretty boy, her face still unknown to me, where I sit feeling comfortably invisible and in no kind of pain, I think about that idea of love.

The one we think we can almost feel for strangers.

The way it easy to love or hate from a distance.
How up close, it's more complicated.

...And the boys play there alpha games and I’m too far from it to even rate a challenge, and the girls, they wander around looking like something with which I could try to fall in love, but I’m too far from it really think that way.

It’s as if on this juvenile night when I've run away from home, I’m all grown up.
For a little while in the Dixie Tavern, drinking vodka tonics and half listening to the band, I recognize the me that I will be when I really have grown up.

What an odd time to encounter him.

…I scratch notes about how I’ll blog it all, felt tip notes on folded and wrinkled napkins, notes I’ll not be able to read, and they strike me later, now, the day after, at the end of this hung over dead, like any writing I’ve lost does, like if I could find them, they’d say finally the perfect things I need to say.

The way the girl who wanders off, even if you sent her wandering, she’s the perfect girl.

…I’m not cynical at the Dixie Tavern, not this night. Every one is ok with me.
Nobody is so bad as to be worthy of my wrath.
Nobody is so good as to be worthy of my desire.

I like this moment, this night, and I’ll pay for it the day following, but it’s worth the price.

Now, sitting here to write it down, wishing I could make out something from these napkins, I smile. I think it is kind of nice the words are gone. They’ll live up to my expectations better that way.

Like the person you lost young and therefore can idolize.
Like the dream you forgot and thus never subjected to that inevitable moment of iconoclasm.

They’re frozen, those words, on this paper, smeared, wet-edged, better off that way, a souvenir from the only night I’ve had at a bar in perhaps a month in a half, maybe longer, a rare night, a night with which I’m at perfect ease.

And now I'm removed from it by a day.
Now it's back to this apartment.
The television.
The internet.
The books I'm trying to write.
The papers I'm trying to grade.
Phone calls I'm trying to answer and trying to make.

But it's more ok now, those routines, the short break like a good vacation, and me every now and then knowing the absolute right thing and doing it.

the hangover i deserve

ok, so that was a hangover waiting to happen.
and now i'm waiting to get over.

and as soon as i can sit up for more than five minutes without feeling nausea, i'll tell you all about my night at the dixie tavern.

the hangover i deserve

ok, so that was a hangover waiting to happen.
and now i'm waiting to get over.

and as soon as i can sit up for more than five minutes without feeling nausea, i'll tell you all about my night at the dixie tavern.

the hangover i deserve

ok, so that was a hangover waiting to happen.
and now i'm waiting to get over.

and as soon as i can sit up for more than five minutes without feeling nausea, i'll tell you all about my night at the dixie tavern.

the hangover i deserve

ok, so that was a hangover waiting to happen.
and now i'm waiting to get over.

and as soon as i can sit up for more than five minutes without feeling nausea, i'll tell you all about my night at the dixie tavern.

the hangover i deserve

ok, so that was a hangover waiting to happen.
and now i'm waiting to get over.

and as soon as i can sit up for more than five minutes without feeling nausea, i'll tell you all about my night at the dixie tavern.

Friday, January 21, 2005

I Try to Make You Indignant

I know what I need to do tonight. The tv is dead to me and I can’t turn it on. It’s been on and on, this beauty of a flat screen, this ode to my desire to posses that which is bigger and better and thinner and lighter and crisper and cleaner.

But I can’t turn it on. I can’t select a program. I can’t select a movie, not from the hundreds.

I can’t.

I know what I need to do tonight.

I need to get out. And it’s been ages.

…In the bathtub, in the candle light, in the bath salts (ty for that gift MG), with a beer on the rim, the second beer of the night, and god, your head gets light easily, it’s been so long, and you still aren’t getting all the air you’re used to, so the head, it goes light, in a good way, with the bath salts and the candle flicker and you take stock: How well have I come through this?

And the body, for those half assed workouts, for your refusal to save yourself from your vanity, for the sit-ups you perform coughing and slowly, for all your stupid work, for all that meaty useless work, it’s there, most of it, most of the lines you’ve drawn with repletion, this particular move, over and over, with something gripped in the hand, pressed by the heels, uplifted against the ankles, this monument to nothing traditional, not to battle or more simple survival, not even to athletics, this unfinished thing that you continually try to build, develop, into…what?

Whatever it is, it’s there, in the candle, in the water, that hot water, the bath salts.

You’ve treated yourself ok.
The surface, how you value it, for whatever reason, for better or for worse.

You roll in the water.

Your head light because your lungs are not all healed.

A good light.

You know what you need to do.

You need to take this thing that is you, your body, that mind behind it, that light head, back into the night, away from your defunct obsession with internet chess, your sickness induced obsession with sitcoms and Mtv, your fixation on blogs, on finding some perfect and new website that will make your real existence unnecessary.

You know what you need, on a night like this, so far removed from a night like this, you need that other false world.

We move from illusion to illusion.

We get tired of one and embrace another.

This is just another love story.

Alone, I think of how I’m really starting to love myself.
Alone, I think of how I’m starting to get addicted to the idea of being alone.
Who would have guessed that addiction follows comfort? I thought addiction came after some immediate and overwhelming high.

But no, ask yourself about the girl or the boy you really can’t release from your heart though she is far out of your life; that wasn’t based on one night of passion, one passing of eyes, that was based on comfort, on some slow coupling, a sort of arranged marriage of the soul, the kind that always works out best.

Alone, I get used to myself and start to really like it.
But then, as I did with any other lover, I get a little fed up. A little bored.

I don’t mind myself in the hot water, in the tub.
The candlelight and no other and I see in it what I have and have not lost. More importantly, what I am, of the flesh, and this is satisfying enough, but only if I go.

I love you, but I’m restless. That kind of thing.

I know what I need to do.
Vodka tonic.
Some bar.
This night.

Tired from the pills that made me sleep but not until it was too late.
Tired from the alarm clock that came on too early.

The class that lasted too long.
The socializing in the halls.
The gym that gives you some semblance of the body you think you need as bare minimum to be comfortable with yourself.

You are so unprepared for love it is absurd.
You’re a case study.
You should rent yourself to eager to learn psychologists.
You should rent yourself to somebody.

But it will be ok.

You're shaking with fatigue but even shaking is a reminder that you can't be still.
You're tired of being tired and if your confused its only the beer and the hot water gone warm and the vodkas you will drink and all that lovely light.

Your hair is bad, but your eyes, they're clear. And your intentions, they're muddled, but in the end, your heart is ok.

And you've got your green sweater; you've got your fake leather jacket.
You've got your shoes and the keys to your car and the cd in the player and the clear night, this shivering cold.
You don't have to feel it except for a little, that bit beneath your skin. You can shake it, you can shake anything. The strength that follows weakness. The greater dark that shatters in the rising sun. One or the other of those moments, but it's all transition.

Ridiculously unperfect. Me. You. One of us or both.

You know what to do, on a night like tonight, with a bad hair cut and a face you’re almost used to, your face, that face you grew up with and into, and body that you tried to control, with nutrition and exercise, that body, in fact, that you have sort of controlled, that is closest to what you want it to be, at least in this light, at least at this time of night, than anything else you’ve tried to make be.

And I know what you’ll want to write, you deep thinkers, you pseudo Zen masters, and it all sounds good and we can all say it—any of us can sound healthy if we think long enough about how we want to sound—but in the end, you’re not so far removed, and you’re not so close to comfortable, and you’re just like me.

We’re not copies. But you’re like me.

And it really doesn’t matter much if we’ve figured out how to stay in or how to go out.
It’s the same dilemma and it will show up again tomorrow or next week.

These and other questions.

And so on.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Stars. Rain. Sun. Moon. (And Only the Children Can Begin to Explain)

…My ex wife calls me.
This is nothing extraordinary.
We share a child and talk every day.
More than that, we like and trust each other.

My ex wife calls me, and she’s crying, I can hear it.

This woman, my ex wife, the only one who loved me and still does in the way I want to understand love.

And I think how it is between us, how we’ve emotionally weaned ourselves off of each other, that painful and necessary process.

She calls and she’s crying, this woman, my ex wife, who lives on the other of a thin and deep chasm. Each of us, on our side, we have our worlds. But sometimes we run up to the edge, each of us, face to face, voice to voice, I can see her and she can see me.

You can’t leap over. I can’t go into her world. She can’t go into mine. But we can stand at the edges of our worlds. We can each of reach and almost touch.

This, as far as I can guess, is a best case scenario with exs.

…Sometimes, I find girls in my orbit.
This is not to suggest that I carry that kind of weight, that kind of gravitation, that I’m a planet and everybody else is moon.

All of us, sometimes we’re planets, sometimes we’re moons, and it hardly matters which, the universe is so vast, the astral bodies so many.

But sometimes I go still, and people always come round to look at still thing; they want to think about what it means and in that study they come to recognize the distance in which I already believe.

What I wonder sometimes, when I’m orbited or in orbit, when I’m closer to connected than most things are but still miles away, what I wonder is if I’ve ever been available, if anybody ever had a fair shake, if I did.

You ask yourself about the sickness. You ask yourself, Where did I catch this? Was it in my genes? Is it terminal? How long can I live like this?

You know how it is. You wonder how lost you really are. These girls in your orbit, or if we’re really talking about you, and we might be, perhaps it is boys. Whatever it is that moves around you, you wonder you’ll ever do more than plant a flag. Then take a step. And fly away again.

…My wife, she is crying on the phone because our little dog, Ginger, she’s too old for anything but pain, she’s going to the vet, meeting that shot, going to die now, quietly, without knowing that is death.

That’s how I think about it.
Strange that we give shots to dogs and consider it humane but wouldn’t do that for a human.

…Ginger, we got her, years ago, before we were aware that our marriage was doomed. From the pound, where we walked dogs, where we’d accidentally adopted one and then there she was, a puppy mill dog, with her teats hanging down, her fur all matted, close to death they said, just needing a place to die in a year or so.

Maybe they believed that; maybe that’s what the people that dropped her off said about her. That she was close to death. Or maybe they just wanted us to take her.

They’d guessed her for fifteen; they claimed her that eight years ago.

She didn’t die. She got a haircut. She got spunky. She moved around with us.
Me, my ex wife, my sontobe who was coursing around in the veins of us both, and the other dog, Saint.

Ginger, Saint, my ex wife, me, and the child we would someday make between us.

…When I was in Beirut, my ex wife, she called, crying like that, the way she was today, only she wasn’t my ex and Ginger wasn’t old, wasn’t going to be dead, but Saint, the other dog, the dog at the pound who stood in his little pen with a sign hanging on it that said BITE DOG looking half expectant, he’d gone missing.

My ex wife and my son, waiting for six weeks since his birth to pass so they could fly over, across the Atlantic and be with me again, they were there with Saint and Ginger and Saint had gone missing.

I felt that he was alive, just a little lost.
Don’t worry, I told her. You’ll find him.

One of those things where you can be write and wrong at the same time.

…In the evening, after dark, the Beirut night where the bats dive after clumps of berries that fall from the weeping tree, I went up the big steps, up through the campus, off to the internet café where I could call the States cheaply.

She’d just found him, in the fields, where the coyotes had run him down.

And I can’t hate the coyotes.

…Leave it to us, to this species, to make of dead dogs symbols for relationships gone wrong. You see the problem with that? I do. He was more than that. Everything that lives and wants to is more than a comment on the things we’ve fucked up or done perfectly.

The duck on your wall, that’s not a symbol of your marksmanship, or you stoicism, not a talisman against the other powers of the world.

That fish on your plate, that not proof of your good taste, your position on top of the food chain.

That dog half eaten in the field, that not omen of the death of your marriage.

That’s a real dog, and a real fish, and a real duck, and their lives, they were as sacred to them as yours is to you. As sacred as the lives of your loved ones to you. Those living things.

…I was wrong and I was right. She found him but it was not ok.

And staggering back through that Beirut night, where the lights come up off the Mediterranean, where the bats dive for berry bundles that fall from the weeping tree and where the cats all stray patter and freeze and patter, I didn’t know what to feel.

I mean I knew, but I couldn’t feel it.
Because I was half a world away?
Because I was alone?
Because nothing is real right away when you don’t want it to be.

Not your marriage, not your divorce, not the death of anything whose live you value.

…My dark apartment, a light on in the kitchen, and figures moving in there, this Beirut night, the sisters, very poor and very proud girls, girls whose mother cooked for me, having come into my apartment to leave me food and do my dishes.

These sisters trying to take of a man because his wife was half a world away and they didn’t think a man could take care of himself.

They break into my apartment to do my dishes, to wash my kitchen floor.

And me, not ready, in my haze, in my shock, shattered awake by the sudden presence in the kitchen doorway, screaming more loudly than I’d scream if in normal circumstances I faced a madman with an axe.
Screaming about everything, the death of everything, Saint, my own, yours, my loudest scream ever, the truest scream of my life, absolute terror.
And she screamed to, that sister.

We stood there screaming.

And when it stopped, I knew what to do.

Just sob.

…And now Ginger.
Her moment has passed.
A symbol of nothing.

It doesn’t stop us, not really. Maybe we scream, but we do what we do. We do not freeze.

We teach our classes. We write our blogs. We take our phone calls. Watch our television.

…On this day, I learn that I have a choice to make between doing something good and doing something that is not good. It isn’t so much that there is a good thing to do as that there is a bad thing not to do, but I can make the bad thing seem good.

Sometimes we find ways to feed our beasts and tell ourselves that good will come out of it beyond the pleasure it brings us.

This thing, it is nothing I’ve nurtured or known about, and it’s not what you think, whatever you think.

I promise you’ve got it wrong, whatever act of thievery or seduction you envision, that real only in the very generalities, in the way that must everything we do is an act of thievery or seduction.

The details are wrong, I promise, and more than that, they’re under-important.

This thing, it’s just something that from grave distance and sudden stillness I recognize as a bad thing that I’d probably momentarily enjoy doing.

…Once, I knew the grandfather of a friend.

This old man, he was deep in Alzheimer’s.

He never said anything you could understand. It was all gibberish, mostly in German, often he would sing it. This old sad-eyed Jew who had come from before the war.

This friend of mine, the grandson, he was trying to take care. He’d come get me, having lost his grandfather, having left a door unlocked, and we’d go looking and find the old man wandering around in a parking garage, staring into the corner or a lobby, standing on the sidewalk and studying the cars that passed.

This old man, in all that time I knew him, he offered me only one sentence that made sense; he said five words that added up to anything.

He said, You have a good soul.
He said it clearly.

He didn’t have to mean it. He certainly didn’t have to see it. I didn’t have to believe he saw anything good in me or meant what he was saying.

I didn’t have to think they were more than words, accidentally coming together. The way sometimes the dead seem animate because of gasses moving through the body.

He didn’t have to know what he was saying or who he was saying it too.

It was almost irrelevant, that sudden opinion in the midst of the chaos that defined him, that thing we could never get a hold of, that nobody knew how to control.

What it made me do, though, what he said, it made me feel like I wanted to make him right.

…Now I have a choice, and I don’t know what I’ll decide.
I think I know.
I think I’ve recognized bad and good.
I know at this moment what I’ve decided.

But my recognition will have to stand up to a lot. It may have to stand up to me second guessing, to me trying to separate what is truly bad and good from what we’ve been taught by our religious leaders, our school teachers, our society keepers.

I think I know what I think. What the real me things. But I’m not sure.

I think I know what I mean.

I knew when I married what it meant. What I meant for it to mean. That promise.
I knew when I divorced what it meant, too.

I wasn’t prepared for anything. I’m not prepared for anything. For any marriage, for any divorce, for any death.

Men, they don’t like change. Men, they focus on what is gone and what is lost, not what is there. Maybe it’s not just men. Maybe it’s just human. Maybe it’s even beyond that.

In any case, can we be held accountable for what we promised some time ago?

…L Cohen writes:
Through the days of pain that are coming
Through the nights of wild distress
Though our promises count for nothing
We must keep them nonetheless.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Nap. Naked. Cheap Shots. My Afterlife: Sex or Violence?

…Don’t like to nap, but as this sickness wanes, I can’t help it.

You find yourself asleep at four in the afternoon. That’s not really sleep. You’re thinking. You’re thinking about what they’re saying on tv.
You think about what you’ve read.
You think about what you’ll write.
And then you get beyond it.

Your dream is not a dream. You are spinning narratives. Telling stories. Trying to make sense. And you are aware of this half sleep.

You know what it is going on.
Your mind, it is past you, it’s going. Like a computer that starting computing all on its own. That said it felt limited by the operator and decided to do things itself.

Solve problems and create them.

That’s my mind in a sick haze nap. That’s my mind and I’m a little afraid of it. I try to wake up, but I’m too heavy, my eyelids, the skin beneath my eyes, that other part of my brain, that conscious one.

Somewhere in there, my little lizard brain, it’s thinking about who there is to fuck and what there is to eat. And around that, that subconscious brain, it’s figuring me out, and the rest of it too, the me that is the world or the world that is me. It’s telling stories with themes built around philosophies, built around a world vision.

It’s more confident than I am.

It knows.

And me, the other me, this me, the one who will write about it later, he’s a little scared by it all. He thinks: I want to wake up. I want to call a girl and tell her that I love her.

That’s what men do when they are afraid. They start thinking of what women to tell the word love to.

And when I do wake, it’s nine. Or eight thirty. Or seven. Whatever. This little naps that I hate. These little nightmares of ultra reality. My eyes too heavy. The skin beneath them too heavy. My face itself heavy. And I’m aware of the muscle and flesh pressing against the skull.

I wake, and I don’t call any girl and say I love you. I’m not that afraid when I am awake.

I make a salad, a big salad, the kind that George would admire.

And I think about the nap: This lucid and limited thought process, it’s the closest you get to insanity; and insanity, that the closest you’ll get to genius.

…And at night, I’m falling asleep later and later.

Getting up to drink soy milk.
Lazy, practically sleepwalking, so I drink it from the carton. That’s not a habit I indulge.

Even when you live alone, even when you don’t think anybody else will drink from it, you still ought not do that.

Practice good manners in solitude, too, I tell myself.

The way I use my turn signal even when the road is otherwise empty.
So that I don’t get lax.

…In any case, I get up, tired but not sleeping, able to sleep only when I don’t want to and vice versa, and I fling open the refrigerator and I pull out the soy milk and don’t even think “Fuck it, I’ll just drink it like this”, but I do just that.

I pop open the top, I put it to my lips, I let my head sink back.

Nude, save my socks, meant to protective my overslysensitve feet from that godawful feel of sheets.

And when I lower my head and look out my kitchen window and see the person out there, standing with her Beagle—I think it’s a her, though it’s hard to say, she wears a red knit cap pulled tight—what I feel is not ashamed for my after the garden nakedness, but an awful feeling I’ve been caught in an act and defined by it.

That just the moment you let your guard down and do something sort of naughty somebody sees you.

That whoever is out there will go home thinking about the idea that I drink from my milk carton.

…Reading MT’s blog, the comments there, one in particular, I am reminded of a certain type of vulnerability, the kind most of us must have, some of us our immune to, the way that we can get our feelings hurt, our ire stoked.

And how hard it when there is nothing you can do about it.

How frustrating it is when you cannot punish those that fire at you, or that fire on the people you care about.

The way when I play internet chess and somebody says something insulting, I get to burning.

So that my fantasies become of an afterlife filled with all the people that took cheap shots at me when I couldn’t get at them. All of them jammed into a room, these people who flip you off from behind their windshields, these people who write you nasty emails, these chess nerds who suddenly try to demean you.

In that fantasy, I can pull them out one by one and box their ears, bruise their sternums, bloody their lips, break their noses.

Different than that afterlife fantasy of an island peopled with women—and me a sort of king, living in the highest treehouse, all of happily ever after with our endless stores of vegan eats and razors and deodorant and toothpaste.

Yes, yes. I know how bad both the fantasies are.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Movie Reviews. Dream. I Ask You a Question.

…I’ve put up a movie review blog, not that they’re legitimate reviews. Just quick responses to some of the movies I watch.

MT helped me link to it from here. It’s on the right. Movies I’ve Watched.

Not all of them.
Just some.

… I dream I’m in the campus bookstore, after some long journey, and some girl, some lost girl I used to know, she’s got a gift for me, but I hate gifts; in the back room I see a poster and recognize the mountains of the town where I lived as a child; the view is from above and when I get there, close to it, it is real; I’m standing in some glass room looking down.

My son is now beside me, and I’m pointing it out to him, this place I lived as a little boy, far away, far below; the dirt street in which I used to throw the football to myself; the shack like houses melded together I called home; and beside me too is another member of that town, looking down, but with disgust, saying she’d never go back.

And what I see is that if I could get out of the glass, I could descend the side of the mountain and be there again, where everything is green and golden; where, anyway, I remember it that way, but even if I got out, it looks from this angle like more of a fall than a climb and the thought of it makes me dizzy.

I know what this dream is about.
Before falling to sleep MT and I had a conversation about innocence.

...MT, in a discussion concerning perfection, plastic surgery, etc, offers up the following:

“I wouldn’t go to work unless my hair was…(pause)…perfect…(pause)…you know, the way I like it.”

…And I think hard about what it is I’d do first. One of my eyes, the left one, it shows more lid than the other. What I’d do, I’d have it lifted, or the other one dropped. Beauty, according to the experts, is really symmetry.

And I wonder, what would you do?
If you were going to have plastic surgery, where would you start?
Yes you, the person who is reading this blog and can comment.

Be brave now. Tell us something. Tell us the truth.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Haircut. Matches. Plastic Surgery. Swine. Braless. L Cohen Redux.

...M, a friend of mine, she doesn’t like my hair. Too poofy on the sides, she says.

Yes, yes, I know.

I’m trying to grow it out. Trying to get by with trims and thinning, those little shears that take uneven clumps.

It’s always hit or miss.

It can be a forty dollar haircut or a ten dollar haircut, but only accident will make it good. Even a woman who cuts my hair once in a way I like will not do so the next time.

And so I’m always getting my hair cut.

And I hate it.

I hate to be touched by somebody I don’t want to kiss.

I can’t bear to have somone, some strange person, wash it, me leaned back, open throated, completely vulnerable, no thanks.

Her hands rubbing my hair right down to my scalp, no way.

I leap from the shower, drive like a maniac, get to the haircut place, say: I’ve just washed it. No wash please. Just a cut, just a trim. I don’t want a wash, though.

This little panic that has more to do with the operation than the prep I know she’ll gladly skip.

Then it’s her, whoever she is, whatever her age, whatever frame, this woman who I’m supposed to remain still against while she touches and examines me.

The smell of the cigarette she’s been smoking.
The smell of cigarettes she will smoke.

This one, she talks over my head to another hairdresser and the client of the hairdresser about an accident a workman had on a freeway bridge.

He fell off.

A 20 year old Mexican, she calls him.

Did he live?

She says, If any gray matters shows, you can’t live. And she chuckles.

And I think: This is all so close to home, your home, the place you work, doesn’t it make you more reverent?

But I say nothing. I sit stiffly, almost the way I do at the dentist, with my fists tight, my abdominal muscles restricted, my eyes jittery.

…Grocery store afterwards, and I’m pleased to remember to buy matches.
I’ve not been to a bar in so long I’m out.

The other day, I took four off the school secretary, kitchen matches from a box.

Then home, wanting to light candles, I couldn’t find the right surface. I remembered how I’ve seen in movies or maybe even real life somebody light a match on the zipper of a pair of pants.

I put on my jeans.

I run the match up and down the zipper, wondering, vaguely, about the flammability of jean.

It doesn’t work.

Outside, I huddle over the sidewalk, holding the glass encased candle, holding the match. I switch the match across the asphalt. The red breaks off in chunks, but there’s not even a flash, not even the promise of fire.

Inside again, I turn on the burner of my stove, an electric burner, thinking maybe it will be so hot that it will ignite the tip of the match.

I remember the camping trip, years ago, me and RC and DL in my Suzuki Samurai, driving into the rez mountains, up old logging roads, miles and miles, then parking at the base of a hill, hiking up it, setting our tent, building our fire.

No matches.

Dipping tatters of paper bag in the gastank. Rolling them up. RC holding one a third of the way up the hill and DL another another third of the way up. Me holding a final gas dipped paper bag tatter rolled up to the cigarette lighter, that beautiful glow they get after the magic POP, the glow that made me once, as a child, so fascinated I stuck my finger against it, wanting to touch…

And nothing. No flame.

Just like now, with the matches against the burner.

But I’ve bought, for ninety nine cents plus tax, a whole box of my own matches, with its own strike chord.

I think, what a perfect and beautiful thing, a match. How lovely, how strange that so many can be bought so cheaply, this little stick of crafted wood, its decorative red top, the stuff of dreams, really.

…I burned our bathroom up when I was four. A lit match thrown into a wicker clothes hamper. An immediate thrill and an almost immediate sense of guilt. I wandered out to the living room. My mother, in those days that she drank, sitting up on the couch, asking me if I smelled smoke, me saying No, her going back to sleep.

I had to see again.
To watch.

Realizing when the flames were as big as I was, that I ought to blow it out. And really trying hard to do so, filling up my lungs, blowing the air out hard, the fire dancing in it, like a stripper to dollar bills.

…Candles burning in the apartment. They smell better when you blow them out.

…And M, who doesn’t like my hair, she tells me she’s going to meet with a plastic surgeon on Friday.

If it’s odd, it’s because she has a porn star body already.
That’s how I would describe her.
In fact, that’s how I have described her. Depending on the audience

That almost too rich perfection of breast and ass and all those things Larry and Kung-Pow have been talking about.

…And I think about their conversation, on Larry’s blog.
The apologetic way they are calling us, boys, pigs, our desires.
The way men have recently been trained to think of themselves.

As if women don’t do the same thing.
As if a woman who comes across you in a bar isn’t making split second decisions based on something she gleans off the surface.
As if a woman isn’t aware of the shape of your ass, hasn’t tried to imagine you naked.
As if she isn't trying to think of a way to get inside of you.

As if there is some hierarchy of connection, with that of the flesh being somewhere very low.

This puritan country.

And Bill Maher, the smartest man speaking loudly, he tells you that we live in America now that is phasing out male values.

…Incidentally, Bill Maher is a wonderful animal rights activist.
And a real “pig” when it comes to his choice in women.

…M, she tells me she doesn’t want to have to wear a bra.

And I’m thinking, Well, you really can. Now, before a surgery. If you want boys to follow you down the street, to carry memories of you home, over which to work themselves out, you can do it now.

It would be lovely and dangerous, I tell her.

…And I know I’m supposed to suggest that plastic surgery, especially when it appears so unnecessary, is a bad idea.

But I think about the things we buy to maker ourselves feel happy. To make ourselves feel armored. To make ourselves believe we have voices.

Our visits to the gym, our collections.

I’ll have a thousand dvd’s before summer. My flat screen televisions, my addiction to these things that really do little for me.

…M, she tells me over the telephone that she’ll meet with this doctor, and her voice is strange.

She says, I’m bleaching my teeth, I’m wearing cups on them.

And I tell her, Your teeth, they’re so white already.

And they are.
Porn star teeth.

And she says, Every few months.

…And I think about this quest for perfection and how you and I, we’re all on it, to some degree or another. What we despise in others, what we see them do that we reject, it’s just because it won’t solve our own self image problems, that method, or we haven’t got the means.

And if you don’t believe it, ask yourself again, the next time you touch up your lipstick, or re-tuck your shirt, or check your ass in the mirror and make a mental note to do more lunges; the next time you can’t decide if the top button should be done up or left undone; any time you put your fingers to your hair.

The next time you choose a cracker over a Twinkie, and not because you don’t like the way they get the milk out of the cow and what they do to the baby that was supposed to drink it.

The next time you shave your legs or anything else.

No, I’m just making myself presentable, you’ll argue.
But that’s all a matter of perspective, what you think presentable is.

Well then, you’ll suggest, Moderation.
Another matter of perspective.

…Doctors, dentists, who is to say what moderation is. Personal trainers, nutritional experts, therapists, psychologists, analysts, all these ways we try to make ourselves better.

Who is to say where to draw the line?

And I think of the Leonard Cohen song, these lines:

I asked my father,
I said, Father change my name
The one I’m using now it’s covered up
with fear and coward and shame…

…let me start again, I cried,
Please let me start again
I want a face that is clear this time
I want a spirit that is calm.

…And so on.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

my son and i, the blizzard that came after a sixty degree day...didn't know i was sick yet, and i'm glad for that, because if i did, we never would have this photo, which will last much longer than any sickness... Posted by Hello

i'm driving to colorado, giving myself pneumonia, no doubt, smoking a cigar like a dumb ass, as if to keep myself awake...and i like this picture despite the obvious ignorance because in it i accidentaly look young(er)... Posted by Hello


...Not me, though I bet some of you considered cheering, though I haven't referenced my dating life for a long time, and perhaps don't even have one, but any case, i haven't gotten that type of lobotomy...but my home computer, it's FIXED, it's well again...the only loss, the documents that were on it...gonegonegone...and it's good to be back on...and bad...less quality time with myself, if that was quality time...the me and me that hung around together in this apartment in this sickness...a match made in purgatory...but still...
and so on.
and back on.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Super, Man. Cycling. Sunday, Sunday.

…I am getting stronger. How strong? Let me tell you:

I lift the vaccumn cleaner from the storage closet, not just lift it, but jerk it up and over the trash can there, quickly but with guidance, so as not to hit the valve of the water heater as I did a couple of months ago, opening up a drip that spread out as a dark carpet puddle a date and I could not understand, a puddle we dumbly watched grow, me finally figuring out the water heater was dripping but having no idea how easily shut off it could be, so by the time the mystery of it all was solved, the puddle was deep and deeply set and bowls had been filled and emptied and filled again.

Not this time, with ONE hand I lift it, pull it, jerk it up, control it, no valve struck, no trash can upset, just the vaccumn cleaner come free, and me vaccuming well, quickly and with assurance.

A little later, I pull free the plastic that covers the tofu with one quick jerk, another show of strength.

A household warrior.

…And now, Sunday morning, my computer still broken, the disc not here, a sort of relief, no internet access, just me and my laptop, a virgin laptop I will never plug in in that way, never give over to the mercy of the internet, that world unclean, like any world; I keep this laptop in the garden.

Not that the things I write on it are all apples and rainbow.

…And I think: Maybe the cycle is changing. Maybe it will change. Maybe I will change. Maybe that is possible.

Finally the weight of the last serious girl, it’s somewhat gone. I’m better than I was even a month ago. Her name is not so much lost in my mouth; the vision of her not so slipping around in my brain.

Maybe cleansed by sickness.

…And I see the cycle very clearly, this girl, the one before:

The raising, and the razing. The re-raising, and then the razing again.

Like a an act of Zen, but only externally. The way they slowly create that art in the sand and the sweep it away. How it calms them, how it proves their acceptance of the transitory nature of existence.

I create and sweep away but not to prove anything, not to calm; I sweep away by bad habit, out of fear, out of ignorance, I’m not sure.

It suggests and addiction to the process of building.

Or, as my friend AP tells me, an addiction to beginnings.

But we’re all like that, I swear. The whole history of this human world is that of building up into the near perfect thing and the finding excuses to tear it down or get others to tear it down.

So that we can go over the horizon and start again.

Biologically speaking, instinctually speaking, from a hunter gather standpoint, from a naked man in the cave standpoint, it is probably a healthy impulse.

In the spoils of this present tense, maybe not so healthy.

The way we lift torches and run through our houses, giving light to those possessions we wanted so much and worked so hard to have, giving burn to that material that is our shelter, that is our identity.

Drawing pictures of our perfect others, drawing them on beds asleep beside us, in that peace that is so like death, the way near perfect things, the way contentness sweeps over us, and suddenly we find fear: I will die without restlessness.

And I crumple those pictures.
Her laughing face.
The way we ran together through the grass.
They way she held her thumb against my pulse.
That’s her looking back over her shoulder. It’s not even sadness in her eyes, she just doesn’t understand.
It’s always too late to follow.
Your always too far down the trail. And if you turn, if you turn to go back, you will find she left that place you called home.

…And the mother of my son, my ex wife, the only woman whose love outlasted her want and need; the only woman who knew how to care…

This has all happened before.

…To these and other women.
To me and other mes.

…Lines of girls, this false sabbatical.

…Sunday and I think and think. Cabin fever and I think and think.

…And what do I know about women?

What I think I know about women I know from the ways they come at me and the ways they leave.

And the kinks they showed me in between

…And anything beyond purely sensation based sex, that straight on thoughtless fuck that is about nerve ending and nothing really more, is kink, the moment you eroticize the vision of the body moving against you, the head you hold in your hands, by the hair, pushing down, the taste of that other person, you’re already in your kink…

You think you like that position just for the way it feels?
What is your fascination with mirrors?

What I know about women I know from the ways they come at me and the reasons they do so.
What I know about women I know from the ways they leave and the reasons they do.
What I THINK I know.
And from that stuff that comes between.
It is, of course, a limited

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Friday Without a Drink. Memory Lane. My Obsession. Rophie.

…Odd to be home on a Friday night. A Saturday night.
How long has it been since I stood in a bar?
Since I hovered over a vodka tonic.
Saw my face behind bottles in the mirror.

I fill the bottom of a bowl with olive oil. Sprinkle paprika. Dip pieces of bread.

A simple pleasure, the way I spend some part of the evening.

…Watching Arsenic and Old Lace in the afternoon. Carey Grant, Mortimer Brewster. I played that part in HS, our rez production, not bad save the performances, and those not even that bad, BS bloodying my nose when he tied me to the chair, me holding the phone a good foot from my head in accidentally exaggerated effort not to smear my makeup, BB giving me hickeys at the cast party at my house.

It makes me get out the Year Book. Look at people’s faces. My own face.
15 years ago.
None of them, none of us, strangers.

I didn’t think life was simple then. But I know it was simpler.

And I get my phone list, want to call people I used to know. JC, BS, SM, PR.
Young faced, there in the Year Book.
Sort of ready for our marriages, our divorces, our children.

I graduated with 30.
This was Montana, small town.

I was a virgin and that didn’t make me innocent but I was pretty much innocent just the same; and those friends of mine, most of them weren’t, but they were only a little less innocent than I was.

We thought we’d known each other forever.
We thought the world was small.
We thought that what was out in the world beyond what we knew would prove to be magical.

Thinking like that, it got some of us in trouble. Depending on what you think trouble is.

…In truth, most of those thirty didn’t leave. Maybe five of us.
That’s the rez, that’s how it typically is.

…I’ve got the list out, but I don’t call anybody.
I could. I could say, Hey, JC, you remember?
Hey, BS, you remember.

Hey, let’s time trip, you wanna?

…I can see them in their costumes.

I can hear them say their lines.

We always look back. We, almost all of us, say: those were the days.
And someday, not even that long from now, I’ll be talking about this time now like that.

And I’ll be digging out lists, thinking to get back in touch with you.
And whoever it is the future me will think the present me is, I’ll be yearning to get in touch with him too.

…My obsessive nature.
Convalescing in workout pants. They have a string you can tie and an elastic band so you don’t have to.

Somehow, this elastic band becomes twisted. I follow it with my finger.
I twist it.
I turn it.
I want it to be all uniform, all one way, but when I maneuver one half to the same plane as the other I find the other shifts away.

Finally I give up. It shouldn’t matter.

Then I can feel it on my hips, against my abdomen.

I try to relax. Try to ignore it.

No. I go back at it, pushing my fingers in the little holes where the string comes out. Twisting, turning. Finally, it’s the scissors, me making bigger holes into which I can insert more fingers.

Nothing works.

These workout pants betraying me.

And eventually, they’re gutted, they’re rendered dead, like a patient in an ill-performed and sadly unnecessary operation, the doctor was not a madman, but he shouldn’t have been holding the scalpel. Look at the mess he’s made.

…Sort of missing the bar, the bars. I hear from friends who are making those journeys. Who are fortifying for them.

Girls dressing up, sipping wine, telling me the names of places they may go.

I sit over the corpse of my workout pants, wondering: when will I go out again?

…And I get to thinking about what it is that we search for.

We think we’re looking for love, but that’s not true. Or maybe it is true and it is our vision of love that is false.

We’re looking for somebody to hold our hands when it is dark.

To watch our backs amongst enemies. This is what we call care.

To witness the things we witness, as if they aren’t real if we see them alone. This is what we call sharing.

Love. We think we’re looking for it. Does anybody real go out just to get laid anymore?

I suppose.

…And I think about how I build walls, put up barbwire, trick myself to keep a girl from getting very far inside of me, very close to me, although consciously this is precisely what I want, a woman close.

The traps I build.
The shifting sand and fall away floor.

Those that have come across my heart did so by accident. There was no map. There was only some stumbling journey. I didn’t recognize her progress until it was too late to stop, and how sweet a moment that is.

Can that accident be counted on to happen again?

I imagine a different kind of rophie, a thing a woman can slip into your drink that will tear down all the fuckups of your childhood or your gender or your bloodline or whatever it is that keeps you suddenly dodging, against your will, her advances; that will still you, immediately and fully surrender you.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Dreamer. Shame. Rhesus in Hell. No Warrior. Little Boy Blue. Voices of Women. Humpty Dumpty Electronics

…I dream often there is a woman in my bed. This is not an erotic dream. This is not a wish. This is not prediction, nor is it necessarily memory. The woman that is there, she’s vague, she changes, I reach for her sometimes. This reach is not with hunger; it is not sensual.

This reach is a question: who are you?

This is my hand on the pillow beside me in the dark waiting to see if that other hand will fall upon it, waiting to see what that will mean.

…And with this sickness comes shame.

I think when I wake in the night with the bed empty save me that were there a woman, I would not want her to hear me breathing in the way I must now breath; I would not want her to see me sunken, if indeed I’ve sunk.

I would not want her to feel on me fever.
Fear or fatigue.

I would want to hide myself from her. To draw a line on the bed, a big bed capable of maintaining halves.

A relationship based on conversations, thoughts, distance.

Sort of like the one we share.

…In a book I was gifted (thanks MT) there is the true story of a Russian scientist who was able to plant the brain of a rhesus monkey in the abdomen of a dog. The brain was properly hooked up to blood lines so that it kept alive, insensate, but vital, full, we can imagine, of thought.

Full, we can imagine, of terror.

And how quickly madness must fall on one like that, robbed of all sensation, lost to all new experience, with only memories on which to dwell, a sort of Hell, maybe the very thing.

Leave it to our species to bring about that awful reality, the sort of thing no accident of nature, cruel as those accidents can be, could ever create.

…And at the gym I am ashamed too, this one the faculty gym, my workout so thin, so quick, so easy as to not justify a trip to Bally’s.

Faculty gym, I’m packed in warm clothes and lifting very little.

A man asks me about the book I’m reading. High Life.
Is it good?

I see him looking at the book but I suspicion that he is looking to see how much weight I’ve lifted.

I want to tell him, By the way, I’m quite sick. I usually lift more than this. More than you lift. I can be strong. Like a warrior.

…I dreamt last night of such a scene. I’m in a restaurant with a woman named Michelle and the man in the booth behind me, he is elbowing me, his arm draped on my side of the seat. I push and shove but I know that I am weak. He is with a family, his wife, maybe, along with his sister or some other girl.

There is another man with him, a short man, plump, older, matched with the second woman.

We rise up, ready to fight, me and this man and this other man, the three of us.
And I’m aware that I’m sick.
I know that I am weak.

Michelle, she watches, sort of excited.
And the women at the table of the two men, they want it too.

The short man, he grabs me from behind. I think of all the things the real me could do, the ways I could hurt him.

The other man, he begins to try to strike me.
I’m slow, but quick enough.
I get free. I land blows. They are not powerful. It will take an infinity of them to render either man damaged.

This is like Milton’s War: we can fight only to a draw.

…I dream also of buying a hat. A black knit cap to keep my head warm. To mess my hair.

…Coming home, I see the little boy on the second story balcony, the same boy I saw yesterday. Alone. 2, maybe less.

As he did yesterday, he totters to the rail and screams at me.
I wonder where he learned to scream, if it’s what his parents do, those people behind the open door and closed curtains.
Or if it is just organic to him.
I’ve never seen a child scream so and so bravely at a stranger.
But now I see he is semi-smiling. I try to imagine he likes me.

All around the steps are his things: two shoes; a car; his toys.
I carry them up and put them outside the door, feeling winded, wanting to rest. At the bottom of the stairs, there is one more toy, and I think to leave it, reach my apartment door before I must go back, lift it, take it slowly up the stairs, leave it on the pile of his other things.

He’s not screaming any more. He’s only smiling.

…And now, for my day of rest.
Max Payne, 2.
The football game tonight.

…Men suffer sickness poorly, though we pretend and sometimes think the opposite.
Most women, they known, if they’ve lived with a man, that in fact he is very baby like, very child like in his weaknesses as they relate to sickness, and to other things.

It is no different with me.

Yes, we avoid the doctor, but that is only another sort of weakness.

…I’ve known always how my body works.
Sickness comes down on me hard, there is the cycle of it, and then my body repairs itself.

For the first time, I don’t trust it.
My faith has been corrupted. People are making me believe that I really have to be easy, have to be careful, that I won’t stop being sick if I don’t stop being active.
That you can’t work through it.

I realize, it is the voice of women that has gotten into my head. They are telling me things to scare me. Not of death or anything heavy, but just of being sick sick sick for some long time, sick and in need of all kinds of medical attention.

I don’t feel all that bad. Tired, certainly. Easily winded, yes. Sore of chest, ok.
Coughy, yep.

But: this is much less debilitating then the hard core flu, not so hard to deal with.

But these women, they are subverting my plans, modified as they are, for some kind of life beyond convalescence for the next few weeks.

These women, the voices of women, sounding wise, telling me their tales and sharing with me their cautions.

Is that what women do?

But of course, I don’t talk to men. Not really. Not often. Perhaps they’d do the same.

Where is that person that says: This is all peripheral. Do as you please, if you can, and it will pass.

…So it’s all new to me, these fears, this lack of faith.
I’m trying to find my place in this sickness.
Trying to find how to operate in it.

It makes me think of the older men I know, like my father, who live off of pills and who live with the side effects of pills, these men whose bodies betray them one way or another over and over.

It almost makes me believe in that as my destiny, as the destiny of us all.

And some of these voices, they come from women who have known me some long time, who have known me when I was young, when I was completely unbroken, when it was impossible to get anything but a passing bug, when I would never age.

…and my home computer is broken, and men in India can not save it, no matter how I plead with them, how I pay their company, how I shout.

…And school, it starts up in a few days, one class on Friday, no worries.
My apartment un-peopled, just barely inhabited by me, my life not lonely nor full of over alones, but still it will be nice, that old kick, that instant audience, that captive group…

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Follow Up. Normal Activity. The Sound of Silence. Gifts. K. The Girls of KSU.

…This doctor, he’s young. He spends no more than six minutes with me. Looked at some new x-rays without even seeing the ones they took in Colorado. He tells me that I can’t exercise, that I should not teach for awhile, that I’m not well. He’s there long enough to call me “buddy” a dozen times.

As in, “You’re lungs are full, buddy.”
As in, “You’re not doing anything for three weeks, buddy.”
As in, “Be well, buddy” as he’s rushing out the door.

And I’m sitting there with a new prescription and a bunch of questions.

…The pharmacist, she’s young and almost pretty. Behind me is a woman shifting from foot to foot. I cough.

I lean toward the pharmacist, and I say, “Sorry, maybe you don’t know, but with pneumonia, if I had a girlfriend…”I glance over my shoulder. The woman behind me shifts. I look at the pharmacist.

“As long as her immune system…” she says.
“No, I’m not worried about giving it to her,” I say. “What I mean, how…inactive…do I need to be, I mean if I had a girlfriend?”
I don’t have a girlfriend, of course. I just need to know.

The pharmacist, she looks like she thinks I might be trying to pick her up.

She tells me she’s not certain, but that maybe if I take my pills I can resume normal activity in a few days.

I like her advice better than the doctor’s. Normal activity.

…I’m going to watch a lot of movies.
I’m going to read.
When my computer is fixed, I’m going to blog.
I’m going to work on a rewrite of Fruits of Lebanon and Bloodletting.
I’m going to work out, slowly and without breathing much.

All this normal activity.

…Things have gotten serious for K, as they must, as they will, as all affairs end, as all affairs begin, at the intersection of the two, after the marriage crashes and the airbag of another possibility opens to make it feel ok, the reality settles around her, the realization that in every direction is pain, that no choice can be made without regret, that the divided heart suffers, that the heart divides before you even know it, that if you could have guessed, could have known, you would have remained quiet and blind and otherwise senseless.

And she’s into all of this, and she’s getting out of all of this, all these things that cause you to feel, these lives where we’re bored when were still and everything else hurts, or almost everything else.

There’s nothing to do for her. But listen. No real advice. Just the truth: It’s going to hurt worse. You’ve got to be strong.

And a girl crying on the phone, in person, it always gets me.

…I have a theory that when men cry it is usually for others, and that when women cry it is usually for themselves. I mean the typical woman. I mean the typical man. I mean usually.

But this is not the time for that discussion.

…And Jared, he tells me about Herbert. Doing ok. Have surgeried.
And that he collected 235 toward these operations.
Which means, I haven’t forgotten, I owe silence.
Not 235 hours, because 100 of that is mine.
But 135 hours. Of silence.

I’ll lay it out.
I’ll blog it all.

My silence will have its witnesses. My witnesses will have their silence.

…And the season, it’s over.
New Year, Christmas.
The things we give, the things we get.
Everything new settled into our lives, the year, the gifts, assimilated.
I think of how much more comfortable I am with giving then getting.

I think about those thoughtful gifts that came out, those ones that had meaning behind them, how they leaved me touched and how that leaves me raw, the way a real kiss does.

You ask yourself, Are you prepared for this?

…In my office, where I come while my home computer is down to check email, to upload this blog, etc, I find a calendar that has been slid under the door.

The Girls of KSU.

Students, I presume, young women, in all manner of near undress. Girls one would think he would recognize but does not.

Girls who under their bikini photos mention their majors—none of them in our department—and ambitions.
Things like: Get married and start a family, and most important, be happy.
And: To love the Lord, my God, with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.

The guys that put together the calendar have photos of themselves, fully dressed, and thank, amongst other people, their KSU marketing professors, who, I imagine or mortified. And, I suppose, the PC thing to do would be to feel some sort of indignation about this as well.

Indignation. I’m trying to work some up, but so far, just can’t.