Self Conscious, the J Eric Miller blog

Thursday, March 31, 2005

life is crazy candy baby

ok, so i'm proud of myself.
in my office, ready for my graduate seminar, and what i want, it's sugar.
swedish fish.
cinnamon bears.
something like that. a kick of some kind.
my job, it sounds easy, and maybe it is, but you're drained after a class. all that emmotional energy. maybe it's just from trying to take yourself seriously.
(my little addiction to my little instant audience).
you need something to start with.
mike and ikes.
laughy taffys.
you know, a rush.
thursday and i'm always tired by this time.
but i'm trying not to do that.
you know, sometimes i go all the way. i've been a fruition for a few months and that's tough. try it: only uncooked foods, raw vegetables, nuts, fruit.
but what i play with with a lot more frequency is the no refined sugars, few processed foods type thing. you ask yourself, what do you want. and you don't know.
(body fat 3%.)
(optimal health)
(the feeling of having defeated yourself, your worldy hungers [right, try giving up kissing then, fucking])
i'll hit it hard for a few months and then eat a fucking bear.
or fish.
a friend of mine, m, who is hiding out in mexico, literally, he has all kinds of habits.
i knew him in beirut where he was on the outs with his wife, a professor who hated him and probably still does.
he sweated bourbon and he was the kind of guy that could get you in real trouble.
of course, a tree doesn't fall when someone pushes on it. it's got to be ready to go. i saw him lean once against another friend and the trouble that resulted when that tree fell was tremendous.
anyway, trouble in beirut, if you can get to it, that can be hardcore. in a place where you americaness buys you everything, there are certain lines that if you cross, you'll never recross. you're done.
specail treatment, like love, can so quickly turn into its opposite.
anyway, m, he only does heroin once a year, on his birthday.
(is there any such thing as clean?
sure, being dead.)
so, i walk over to the bookstore as i've done the last few weeks. get out my card so i can buy a bag of candy. a handful of sugar.
standing there, foot to foot. every decision a hard one, and the counter girl, she's used to me.
candy candy i can't let you go. candy candy i love you so.
hot tamales.
and then: fuck it. it's not my birthday.
fuck it. walk away.
now i know this doesn't seem like that big of deal, but you know, for me, in this one day at a time sort of way, i like it.
winning like that, it gives me a kick.
not as much of a kick as sugar, but still.


i've been productive.
i wonder, if i'd written reproductive, what would you imagine me doing?
on sunday, i'm going to dissapear for five days or so.
not like the invisible man.
i'm not going to be swept away by aliens.
or the government.
a quieter quiet than all that. there will be nothing really to talk about when i get back.
like the pictures cut out of your memory. the scenes on the editing floor.
i'm going to dissapear for five days or so and none of what happens then will seem essential.
but then again, none of any of this really does, does it?
perhaps this is why i've had a recent post frenzy.
i'll keep it up. look for me tomorrow. saturday.
anyway, it's been a productive day. the things i've gotten done. just sat down and gotten done. hmmm.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

post op Posted by Hello

pluck me

the girl that waxes my eyebrows, she tells me she's half cuban.
i tell her all the girls i meet here seem to be half cuban.
i tell her i have personal space issues.
i tell her i don't like leaning back in the chair with someone hovering over me.
no offense, i say. it's not about you. and it's certainly not about the pain--does it hurt much?--but i just don't like having anybody in my space.
in that chair, i babble and babble. i’ll say anything when i’m not sure of myself.
this whole thing, it's worse than a haircut but not as bad as the dentist.

how i end up here is a bunch of different things. first, my ex wife, the good one, on my last visit to colorado, she told me i ought to get my eyebrows waxed. she's always trying to get me into some kind of condition where some poor girl will accidentally fall in love with me and remove some ill defined feeling of guilt from my ex wife's conscience.
anyway, she tells me this: get your eye brows waxed.

and i considered it before, with the second now ex wife, who was obsessed with hair removal, who used to visit (probably still does) a doctor with a laser, but since she took her clothes off professionally i guess you'd call that a business expense.

these ex's, they get hair on my brain.

and so i've meaning to do it. i don't know what for. some kind of preparation. maybe for the Apocalypse, Yeah, ok, he can come in--sharp eye brows, the rest of those untweezed bastards, send 'em to hell.

other girls try to convince me to get even balder. they want to see some serous shaving. me, i’m just procrastinating this little eyebrow thing.

but then i come home from getting my taxes done, and i see the car of the cleaning lady.
(yes, this too is not something i normally do; seriously, what am i preparing for?)
anyway, you know how uncomfortable that is, being in your house while somebody you’ve paid cleans it.

so what i do, i start driving. and i pass a salon with a sign in the window.

it’s no done deal yet.
i hang out in front of the salon for awhile. not sure how i feel about going in. about actually telling somebody what i'm thinking about doing. when the lobby area is all clear of customers, i bite the bullet.
the truth is, if the girl behind the counter was my type, if i found her attractive, i’d still be bushy above my eyes, because i just wouldn’t be able to bring myself to even say the word “wax” to her.
but as it happens, she’s not my type.
the girl behind the counter, she and i stare at each others eyebrows for a few moments after i tell her in a quiet voice what i might be there for.

and then she starts hollering the name of another girl, calling her up front, V! V! and i know that i'm already committed.

of course V, she’s the kind of girl i’m attracted to.

so back there, in the little room with the nice lights, leaning back in the chair, still as hell, i am telling the girl all these things.
i’m telling her about my personal space issues and ex wives and all the half Cuban girls i know.
i'll say anything when i'm nervous.
and she's is applying and ripping and it all hurts a bit. like this burn.
i’m babbling and trying to keep my eyes closed and she is breathing on my face and what i feel for a few moments is that love we feel for those people who have us in absolute power.

then it’s over. red slashes below and above my eyes, like i’m wearing some pink eye shadow.

the house is clean, the day is pretty, my taxes are done, and whatever i think i ought prepare for, well, i have.

Monday, March 28, 2005

my son and me

last Colorado visit, pre-Karate class Posted by Hello


My son, over the telephone, what he wants to know, if he goes “unconscious”, is it ok, or at least should it be ok to not feed him? I try to remember what I thought about when I was four. I try to remember what I was figuring out. I don’t know. I don’t have much to say. It just bothers me is all.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

a friend indeed

…A friend from a time when I made little friends calls me in the late Saturday night, from some sleep I’m fortunate to find, and the phone rings, this girl calling in the rain, outside a bar, I can hear the water and the music and the people, a little drunk this friend, and what she says is, she’s got a ride home, but she’d rather have a ride from someone else.

And it makes me feel good to know that I can be that somebody else, that at two thirty in the morning you might call me, not just for a ride, but a particular kind of ride, a particular kind of company. This friend whose just been through an auto accident, who is afraid now of driving even when the rain doesn’t pour, she’s going to feel safest with me.

I pull up sleepy eyed, and she comes running out of the bar, all black hair and red shirt, all cleavage and attitude and smile, her little crowd of fans at the plastic patio windows, and I wonder if she even really knows how it is, almost like a butterfly, so innocent of her attractiveness, almost unaware, but then again, if she were unaware, she wouldn’t choose that shirt, those pants, this girl who gets into the cab of the truck, where it is warm, who brings the smell of liquor and smoke and the deeper scent of her perfume and of her; this girl who is a mixture of calculated and accidental beauty.

And the boys press their nose against the plastic and think seedy things and she never stops smiling, wiping the water from her face, shaking out her hair, and it’s warm in here, and the rain falls hard and the conversation, this drive home, it’s good.

I think how lucky it is for both that something between us survived that meeting in a bar, so few things, including my first marriage, that begin that way do, and fewer yet the oversexed openings of half drunk kisses and wherever they may lead.

And yet here we are, in the comfort of something that has evolved into full on friendship, each a person to whom the other can speak honestly, and in soft voices against the beating of the rain, we do.

She’s telling me about the accident again, how it made her feel, this thing that repeats itself in her mind, sudden mortality, absolute chaos…

She’s telling me about the summer before when we met and how we went to a fountain in a square and got wet, and along with everything she says, she is smiling, no bitterness in this girl.

She says, I’m taking stock of my life, taking stock of this last year.
And I think, Yes, taking stock.

She’s telling me about the trauma in which we met.

This last year.

(A year ago, I woke every morning as if to a sonic boom.
All around me, everything was shaking.
Every day was a sleepwalk day.
I was living in a vacuum.

{Even if you tell her to go, this is what she leaves, the empty space where her body has been; even if you doubt your love—and it was dumb to doubt your love but then again if you doubted it, was it love?—there is still the habit of her to break; so she’s gone because you’ve asked for her absence, and in that following dark, after the slamming of the door, this girl you loved with and without doubt, this girl to whom afterwards you will always bitterly refer to as the stripper ex, when in reality you know they want to be called dancers, when in reality, she is not reduced by a long shot to that profession in your mind, this thing you call her justthesame because reduction is in fact necessary, when this girl, this wife, is gone you will miss her, and your will romanticize her, the way you do the places you’ve been and the people you’ve been with}.

How do you come to termsl with your choices? You try to make them right.

And perhaps my choice was right.
But in the resulting confusion of decisions made big, I assumed that my desire to separate myself from this second wife, this dancer, this stripper, this unreducable entity, was because I wanted to trade one for the many.

And Darwin winds his clock.

But if it was right, that choice, it wasn’t based on that kind of trade.The choice to be justified, it has to be the one for the none.

{“I wanted so much/to have nothing to touch/I’ve always been greedy that way.”}

Only I didn’t know it. Or want to face that knowledge. Or myself all alone.

Those nights of furious dating. You wait for the girl to see through you. The rattle of your laugh. The distance in your eyes. Something, anything. To ferret out the mechanics of the fucking. That you weren’t really there. That’s the secret you’re keeping, but so well that even you yourself won’t admit to knowing it. That’s me a year ago, in the aftermath of another divorce. These things compound upon each other. Soon, you get to suffer every goodbye in each subsequent goodbye.

Your life is about reverberation, echo, aftershock.

That’s me in the later winter and early spring; that’s me in the summer.Working up a proper face, a proper costume with which to go out into the night, to take some girl by the hand, anything at all to keep away from being alone with my thoughts.

Like any period of sickness. Or maybe that was recovery. What is sickness but the process of recovery? Or complete loss.

(It will go one way or the other. You’d better know when you take the field that this is a battle to the death.)

Waiting for someone to unmask you.
Someone to remind you that you’re not ready for any of this.
That you ought to go ahead and just face your demons.
Survive your exorcism.
And so on.
That’s you pressed against some girl and in the center of that pressing, or maybe around it’s edges, there’s always the moment that feels like epiphany, that perhaps illusionary moment when you feel somehow torn open, somehow seen inside of, and you believe in communion, in bonding, you could be those candle figures with a single wick burned to melt together.

{No wonder the French call it the little death}

And if she won’t ferret the truth out, you will.
Those zombie days of deaf and dumb hollow head walking, when your eyes catch on anything and stay without any real reason. Those furious nights of serial dating.)

We’re driving in the rain, the heater on, the music light, the company of a friendship that was born in the heart of that old storm, the easy voice of a rare person I know to trust, red shirted and black haired, that smile she really doesn’t know, it's so natural, like the lines on her hand.

She’s telling me about her boyfriend, she’s telling me about her accident.
You feel her embracing the world. The energy of more than youth.

And I take stock of the last year, as if she is there to ask me to do that.

(What do I have to my name?
An flat and wide screened television.
A thousand dvd’s.
These are my valuables.
The things I carry.
I’ve gained another divorce.
Survived pneumonia.

And now it is spring again, of a new year in which nothing really terrible has happened.
This 2005.
This year in which from time to time I’ve even acted wisely.
Who knows, it could be the best year of my adult life.

[No year will equal that of a childhood year.])

This last year, when we met, this white smiled girl and I, in trauma, and this new year, when we survive sickness and accident, and are ready to take stock.

And we arrive, and sit talking for awhile longer, this cleaner communion, one more real, that doesn’t require any grasping, any gasping, anything at all but the ease from which almost all good moments are born, I think about us, the two of us, good enough people in the end, really, and how we’re both ok, at this moment, and, even, in the context of our lives.

I think about the simple pleasure of friendship, that more rare than we know thing.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

paging doctor freud

(what you ask yourself: if your eyes were a different color, would your life had been the same?)

Strange dreams the night before last: an earthquake (and god, how the building of my class did roll for a moment in reality that morning); and then: a night like a painting of a night, the colors were so moody, and me on a rock in a sea the same color as the night, sloppy waved and dangerous, and the girl, a girl i knew long ago, one of those people who isn’t evil but essentially too self absorbed to have the capacity for real empathy, this girl whose parents must never have loved her properly, this poor girl who was so intent on taking care of the little girl inside her that she could never love another, this girl who also as it turns out was one of the most sexually deviant people i’ve known (if you believe in sexual deviance, and remember, whatever you do, somebody, somewhere, would call it deviant), this girl who was always walking around the outside of the fire and trying to get people to take her inside, in my dream she was on the rock with me, opposite side of the jagged dome, this girl with her pale skin and dark hair, she was wearing only panties, white, if it’s significant, looking small but not cold and not as afraid as i was, appetizing if you stared at her only for a moment, if it is possible to stare for a moment, if you didn’t see the coldness in her eyes or the way her smile looked cruel, if you kept your vision on belly, on hip, on collarbone, the twist of waist, the slope of her ribs, she and i were on the rock and speaking too each other in this dark night above these dark waters, but in this dream, there are no voices, no sounds, or perhaps it was that there was so much sound that all sound was insignificant, so it was our mouths that were moving, and i thought as i often do about the importance of teeth (give me a woman with good teeth and some kind of exercise addiction), and i believed she was trying to lure me into something, this very specific woman who as it may turn out was more than just that one woman, this woman who was perhaps trying to make me re-want her, if want her i ever did (and in fact, once upon a time, i did, and i ate at the table), she was trying to convince me of something i did not trust, and i knew it was my own desire which would betray me, and there was something she was selling, something she was asking for, who knows what, but even if one could know those things, he wouldn’t know enough…

And it occurs to me just now, as I finish writing about it, that perhaps it wasn’t that she was too deep, her motives too complex; perhaps it has something to do with just the opposite, that she was too shallow, her motives too base…

And my own. That side of ourselves we're always trying lobotomize away, though we don't really mean it, though we're in way too much love with it, though we're way too much co-dependant on it, to really really make that change; the way we're always asking ourselves, yes, but who would I be then?

Later, I dreamed of a bear that only wanted to sleep but through some semi-farcical mis- maneuverings between me and a dog, we kept waking the bear, and it was comical to a degree but the consequences felt grave, as they did on the rock with the girl, as if the dream goes on too long, someone is going to get hurt.

This long night of many dreams which is good because it means I've really slept, and I know it in the morning. Trying to emmerge from my dream world into this real world. Trying to figure out if the me in the dream is the same as the me that wakes.

And in the bright and burning light of the first reallyreally legitimate spring day in Kennesaw, GA, a day as hot as the mid-summer day of my childhood mountain home, where the ice wasn’t always off the lake by the end of May, this sunsunny day, I go running, ghost like, the way one runs and gets into another type of consciousnesses, sort of removed from this world, not entirely, but removed just the same, in that state of mind, or that near state of mind, that state of mindlessness perhaps, I pass a woman, in a skirt, linen, I think, and in the sun, her legs show through, shadow legs, like my shadow on the sidewalk, smoother and better than I am, and in my ghost mind this makes her almost magic, almost angelic…

There are pinprick moments of true love based on almost nothing, the perception of a person in orgasm, when everything is golden and anything is possible.

These little addictions that keep us passing the open windows.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

addict. oral sex. flyover states. pain. love.

after eight chocolate dark chocolate mints, they've got NO dairy product.
i'm interested in discipline.
there are things i like to deny myself.
being a vegan is about control, but not about controlling myself.
i make that choice for the illusion that i am controlling the world. that i'm controlling the amount of suffering in it.
it's more like a prayer or a wish.
but it's not about discipline.
still, discipline is a byproduct of being a vegan.
you think about what you put in your mouth. your choices are limited. fucking whey, how many otherwise dairy free products are ruined by whey? and the eggwash at the bakery.
you do this for years and you break to some degree or another that thing we have with food. that emmotional hunger that eating covers up for us. or smoking. or drinking. of fucking.
i never said i wasn't an addict.
i just said i've mostly broken with food. outside of natural hunger, the kind that reminds you your body need nutrients to stay alive, it's not go that much control on me.
still, these moments of weakness.
after eight dark chocolate mints. what i do, i buy a package from time to time. and then because it is a protein thing, what i do, i make little peanut butter sandwhiches with them as a reward after i work out. eight mints, four scoops of peanut butter, one perfect after workout snack.
only what happens, every time i do that, i feel funny in my heart. god's truth, all slowed down. like the peanut butter is literally in my blood. only when i eat peanut butter on an apple or something, that doesn't happen. so it's the chocolate and the peanut butter. god's truth, every fucking time, it feels like i've been poisoned. i get slow and light headed ten minutes after eating. maybe this is some kind of allergy.
but how stupid am i? how disciplined?
the next day, after the workout, like today, i look at the box, and i just want.
i just want the dark chocolate mints with peanut butter.
this want, it's next to need.
just like the girl you shouldn't fuck again. you know how it's going to go. but your imagination fails you. you tell yourself, it can't be that bad.
the thing about pain, whether it is physical or regret based or guilt based or whatever, you never remember how bad it is unless you're in the moment.
like those mints you shouldn't eat. that girl you should sleep with.
god, i can't wait until this box is gone. i have to eat them all. i can't just throw them out. but when they're gone, i'll not buy another. won't have to feel like this again.
the problem with oral sex is that we treat it as some kind of favor. it's like this thing that if we're lucky, if the girl feels like indulging us, we might get it done. otherwise, outside of that context, sex is all about devouring. mutual desire. what of hers i put in my mouth i don't just do becuase it feels good to her. i do that because it is an act of intimacy. but as guys, this one thing, it's like something we are supposed to be thankful for. there are such girls that treat it as a treat from their side of the event as well. rare and wonderful girl. who goes down just because she can't help it. i remember a woman, not such a long time ago, but in a life that feels different than the one i'm leading now, who acted that way but would follow up with the comment: i love doing that, such an fun way to show i care.
show me you care in other ways. i'd rather see your hunger now, thank you.

(it reminds me, do you remember that story i told you some long time ago, about knead and need? the most hate email i've gotten off the blog, incidentaly. but i mantain, it's a poignant and important story).
a friend of mine, she's just started reading this blog, and she gave me the best description of it.
it's kind of a anti-personal, she said.
yes, i like that.
speaking of starving (and yes we were if you read between the lines), i wonder wonder what that is like. that kind of hunger. i wonder if that girl they'll turn the machines off on will feel it in anyway. she'll die of thirst, of course, and rather quickly, but i wonder if she'll be aware of it somewhere.
i hope not a lot.
the neccessity of pain in this world.
the way you'd just wander into a fire if it didn't hurt.
the way you'd just never drink if you didn't feel the pain of thirst.
the sharp things we'd not keep away from.
what's wrong with the world is that it is a world that requires pain.
and on tv, there is the story of all these people, 40,000 a year who seem to go under, who are perfectly still, but fully conscious.
they don't even blink.
they certainly don't speak.
they seem ideally bound with the anesthetic.
but they are full conscious. and the doctors begin to cut. watch those discovey channel operations. doctors are rough. pulling things apart. treating the body like it is dead already.
you'd never want to see your own operation.
and these people, 40,000 a year, they feel it, from beginning to end.
that kind of torture.
now i'm scared to death. what if some day i have to have an operation? what if i don't go under but they think i have?
oh. oh. oh.
what if that happens to somebody i love
we could all love everybody.
if the world lasted long enough.
while the monkies typed shakespeare.
we could.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

list and then block

it's official:
--punk'd is tired and watered down, and no matter how much ashton k howls and grins, it doesn't mean he's done anything truly funny.
--my new book is out, bloodletting and fruits of lebanon. for info.
--nobody really knows which way the rainbows.
--melissa's blog has been dismantled.
--i hate the word novella.
--atlanta is 2142.56 miles from san diego, 2677.33 miles from seattle.
--people love to be the spy but nobody can keep a secret
--the best time you'll ever have with the thing you buy is when you buy it.
--the smartest people i know are all women, but each of them is a little boyish.
--love songs are mostly written from the perspective of that first buzz of obsession or that deepblueregret stage of romanticizing someone you didn't appreciate when she was around.
--butterflies don't kiss.
--there are no beautiful women
--there are no strong men
--that's ok.
--leonard cohen knows he's going to die. listen to his latest album.
--sometimes, even you know you're going to die.
--the kind of parenting with which most people credit God would get you a dirty look in a grocery store.
--grains of pepper are bigger than grains of salt, but you wouldn't want either in your eye.
--if you could push your belly button and be instantly dead, nobody would survive the teen years
--this is not harpers.
--writing is the same form of vanity as modeling. "look at my brain! look at my soul! look at my heart!"
--if you live long enough, you'll probably forgive yourself everything.
--fish feel pain.
--kpp has a name, adrian, and a face
--vonnegut was mostly right. god bless your mr vonnegut.

friday and saturday at the bars. met a local author, i'll plug her book: flyover states. very clever stuff, snappy and insightful. i was innocent enough to be reading it at the gym. me sitting there with chick lit in my lap. at a bar i met a girl who had been on room raiders. she challegned me to a sword fight with those little red drink swords. i've watched room raiders. i'm not proud of this or much of the tv to which i'm witness. i tried to remember if i'd seen her episode. she had one of those mouths that look capable of real acts of devouring. through it she told me something clever i meant to remember for this blog but have forgotten. everybody was drunk. god, it just dawns on me: that's what bars are for. seen from a really grave distance, this would seem problematic. some outerspace race studying us would it find it very odd. that and all our other little suicides. all the destructive things we do that pass for remodeling. on the radio last week they were advertising a "little person" stripper. they were going to have her at a local club, dancing under the name pixie. i've really got little taste for strippers after having shared a divorce with one. it's not the profession, it's just the contex, it's full of memories. the way certain albums you might not listen to again for awhile. anyway, i never was really a strip club guy. you know, seduction is too serious to bring cash into the question. it was really a flat weekend of drinking and semi-socializing. nothing sticks from it very hard. what's there i've got to really drag up, and it's only sunday. my brain is getting worse. depending on what you mean by worse. tomorrow, noon, i read. i'll write you about me reading. then i'll read you about my writing. something like that. driving home one of these weekend nights it occured to me that i'm again at a place where i could stand not to be alone. hmmm.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Yes, Physically.

--I talk with an old friend, D, of Jersey. D, he’s just returned from Vegas and LA. LA, that’s where we knew each other. What I think about D, he was an innocent when I met him.

There was a night at a bar when I was trying to show a girl some a dark side of me so that she’d want to stop dating. Some things never change, though I’m subtler now. I’d hauled D and one of my roommates with me, and the four of us sat around a dark table with me drinking hard and trying to convince the girl through conversation and action of what bad guy I was.

(You write something like that down and you realize what a dumb ass you have been and sometimes still are).

D, he hadn’t even had a drink at that point in his life. He’d grown up the ward of his grandparents who lived in a community that didn’t allow children. He grew up, essentially, hidden away. Now he was taking care of his grandfather, who had Alzheimer’s, and who was, as far as I could tell, a lovely old man. Anyway, the absoluteness of D’s loyalty to his grandfather endeared D to me.

So how do I reward him? I invite to a bar to see me be an asshole, and while there, when perhaps I’ve run out of really terrible things to suggest to the girl, when there is all ready a broken glass on the table and the night is really a mess around us, I say, D, have you ever had your ass kicked?

And he looks at me sort of blankly across the table, looks at me over his Seven Up or tonic water or orange juice or whatever the fuck he was drinking in those good old days before he learned to pretend he liked the taste of the kind of poison we all chug, D looks past my roommate, who loved shows like these, who came along often to see my relationships, if you could call them that, crash, D looks past her to me, and past the girl, M, the girl I’m trying to get rid of, this girl who had very long legs, and who, as it would turn out, would not be fully fed up with me yet, this poor long legged girl who sat there sort of pretending it was just a night out with a with friends and the guy she was fucking, D looks over at me blankly for a moment and then says, What, do you mean physically?

…A couple weeks later, with a couple girls I know, we do, in fact, get in a bar fight. D does in fact get his ass kicked. Physically.

This is not all my fault.

Part of the problem is D chugs a half glass of brandy at my apartment before we go. He does this primarily because of the girls. Asshole that I can be, I never goaded D to drink. I just enabled his decision to do so.

So now we’re at Canters with these girls and one thing leads to another and the long and the short of it is that it’s D, whose never had his asked kicked physically, end up on the floor while the guy who has thrown him there is standing over him kicking, and me, I’m rolling around in a booth with a couple of the guy’s friends while a few of the others try to reach in and punch.

When it’s all said and done, which really doesn’t take very long, D wants to know, How’d I do?

This is on the way home with the girls who are pretty silent.

Well, I say, Did you land any punches?

No, he admits. I didn’t have a chance.

So in essence, he was thrown to the floor and kicked repeatedly and wants to know he did.

There’s a little bit of blood on his teeth, but nothing serious. The whole thing starts when he thinks one of the guys is looking at one of the girls with us. Out to impress her or me or something, D, he starts glaring. Me, ever willing to help somebody dig themselves in a deep hole—but also only if I can come with—I roll up a piece of gum wrapper and throw it at the guy.

The rest is history. When it’s all said and done, in the fight I’ve lost the band I wore around my neck in honor of a lost love, and I’ve got a number of little bumps all over my skull. D, he’s got a little blood on his teeth.

He’s been drunk, been in a bar fight over a girl, walked out of it without serious injury, and he wants to know how he did.

Just fine, I tell him.

…And it occurs to me now that probably as often as not those that have come into contact with me, that have known me well and for some amount of time, have been corrupted to some degree or another. Unless they were worse off than I am to begin with. That rare person, though I’ve know them. And depending on what you consider corruption.

Monday, March 14, 2005

the post without a name

coffee and cigarettes, that's what i'm watching. neither of them a habit of mine. coffee, that stains the teeth and fouls the breath. cigarettes, the same but worse. though i'm a person who is more at ease when i've got something with which to seem occupied. in fact, i'd make a perfect smoker. in fact, i could stand a cigarette right now. i'm sort of edgy. it's the sleeping pills. this is the third night in a row, and they give a kick before they put the hammer to my temple. i'm in the kick part. all kind of jagged. there was a girl, she taught me about the devil's hit. or the double hit. i was never sure what it was called. what it is, she would drag off the cigarette and then put her mouth on yours and blow it in. this was sort of a kiss. we kissed a lot this way, pretending it wasn't really kissing. probably i got a little bit of cancer off her. J. that was her name. but with more letters. what other stuff we did, we couldn't excuse with smoke. she was not a bad sort. she was dating a man from poland or some place like that. he was a writer i've never read, or heard of except for from her. she told me the story of how he came home one day with a grant check from the NEA, proud, inspired, someone had found him worthy. she told me that and blew cigarette smoke into my lungs. lightness into my head. that was a long time ago. i think it was NEA. it was one of those thirty thousand dollar things. i'd like that. that's not going to happen to me. i have a reading on monday. what i need, i'm serious, take me seriously, a valium. how easily can i get that? do one of you have an extra? i'd give you ten bucks if you'd send it to me. is that illegal to ask? probably illegal to do. i've never had a valium. readings, it's like nothing else. not like teaching. i like teaching. readings, i'm not sure i like them. i used to think so but not so much anymore. i'd rather stand in the proper light and make muscles. no, i guess when it comes down to it, the idea of that sort of bothers me too. i guess i'd rather be accidentally witnessed. wouldn't you? this film, it's not bad. very short pieces, semi sharp, the one with iggy pop and tom waites the best so far. tom waites, they played one of his songs in the movie i went to today. robots. that sucked. ask my son. i don't go to the movies anymore. i don't like being with all those people. especially if they eat. especially if they eat popcorn. i used to tend to move around in the movies a lot. this speaks a lot about my inability to really be with people. ask any girl whose not with me and thinks its her idea and she'll tell you that we're not together because i couldn't sit still in the movie theatre. she'll say, he couldn't be around people he was always moving away. people made him under easy. that's what that girl would say. there was a time when i went to all of them, all the movies. the summer before i went for my master's in screenwriting, i thought my life was going to be about movies. so i saw everything. even dennis the menace. god, what the parents must have thought about me. the little girls, they sat behind me bouncing popcorn off the back of my head. but that was a long time ago and now i refuse the theatre. unless my son wants to go. since returning to the country almost three years ago, i've taken him to two movies and seen one other. this was a date. i must have really be trying to convince myself and that girl that i liked her. i know what the problem with this writing is. it's too blocky. this will cause you to skim. all the words jammed together. you look for something of interest. most certainly you are not fully with me. right now, i feel more close to you than normal. isn't that odd? and common. that lack of balance. are you going to give me a valium? that's care. one time, i was working at CBS, the price is right, and a woman, she gave me a pill. she was young and she said i seemed stressed. i liked that she was brave enough to offer a pill to a stranger. especially one in a position that seemed to be of authority. i don't know why i ate it, but i did. it didn't do anything to me. or nothing that i could tell. those were the days. that's a lie. there never have been days. today, today is the day. that's what you'll tell yourself tomorrow. yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. ask most anybody who knows me and they'll tell you that i'm always singing beatles songs. if you don't know this about me, then you don't knowknow me. you know? i remember, graduation party for high school. we had this teacher, mr p, good guy. what he did, he introd us to poetry by starting with songs. sounds of silence. white rabbitt. american pie. we'd analyze those and then move on to poetry poetry. you know, ee cummings. buffal bills defucnt/used to ride a silver smooth stallion/and shoot clay pigeons/onetwothree juslikethat/god he was a handsome man/and what i want to know/is how do you like your blue eyed boy mr death? anyway, he gave us elanor rigby, mr p did. we were all of us drunk at the graduation party singing it, teaching it to an underclassmen who walked around all night drunk and singing it and crying. there was a fire and i burned my platstic gown. those were the days. ask elanor rigby. this reading, monday. christ. what is writing? like everything else, an act of seduction. god, i've gotten lazy about these things. as if people will just fall at your feet. robots, by the way, was souless. even a little kid can see that. especially a little kid can see that. watching my son at karate, i remember how i never learned what people tried to teach me. i learned everything only as i wanted to. i've been a terrible student of everything. even wrestling, i never had the basic moves. i was good, too. third in the state, a wrestling state, but i couldn't do the most basic take down. with me, it had to be other things. other ways. as if people will just roll onto their backs. these colorado days, these colorado nights, they're almost over. what is writing? it is really talking to hear your own voice. only you've got an excuse. you imagine an audience so you're not crazy. not even that vain. is that the right spelling? about that valium, hate to return to it, but it is the one thing that links all this. it is the one thing that acknoweldges you completely. honestly. jarmusch, he lights people properly. do you know how interesting looking you can be? god, with the right camera person, with the right lighting person, you could be something to behold. you know that, right? i'm not talking just about beauty. that might be part of it. but you know, other things can make one interesting. there is no way to end this. where do you think you get the faces of strangers in your dreams. this is important. are they just faces you don't remember remembering or have created them entirely. how close to god do you think you are? do you want to be? answer me, would you? any question here. any stated or implied question. but not later. answer me, you know, now. i would like to read someone else's work. i'd like to fold orgami. is that the right spelling? i'd rather be a dancer or a goalie. in hockey, i mean. there is no way to end this. something abrupt is going to happen. so it goes. i guess most people either feel they are not watched at all, which is not true, no such thing as the invisible, or they feel that they are more watched than they actually are. what would you rather be, if you had to be one or the other, if you COULD be one or the other--absolutely invisible (ok, the absolutely part is redunant, as if there are degrees of invisibility) or fully witnessed? you want your fifteen minutes, but only if you can shape them. do you want people to watch you treating your girlfriend like hell? faking an orgasm? drinking out of the carton? plucking your eyebrows? shrinking in front of your doctor? getting petty over something stupid? scratching? putting on a bandage? oh, no. suck in your stomach, stick out your chin. strike a pose. even the ugly things you talk about, make them virtues. the way if you call yourself a bitch, it implies something good about you. here, do this. make a list of the truly awful stuff about yourself and post them in the comment section. go on, get naked. i dare you. cheap trick, by the way, daring. childrens' games. all this goading. i really like you right now.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

perfect day

The park in Pueblo, it’s different that those Denver suburb parks, those soccer mom gatherings, the parking lots full of Lincoln Navigators and Saabs, the kids in clothes from grown up people stores that decided to franchise into child wear.

That’s not Pueblo. My parents, they live there, in a four story Victorian, a nice neighborhood surrounded by not so nice neighborhoods. Three blocks in any direction will bring you face to face with graffiti, and graffiti artists. You hear of robberies and drug busts and you see the kinds of cars people drive, old and big, and everything is made of crumbling brick. What Phoenix will rise here? What fire first must finish its burn?

And yet, this is the nicest of towns in which I’ve been. In every store, the people are friendly. That slow, old fashioned, real friendliness, that friendliness that only comes from a sense of confidence. Nobody here needs to prove anything to you, whatever side of the counter they’re on. Everybody seems at ease. And easy with you.

This is a predominately Latino town, and the cadence of speech, it’s like that of the rez, so it gives me a sense of nostalgia, and like all nostalgia, there is in this a sense of comfort.

So the parks, they’re different. In Denver, it’s all moms and me. In Pueblo, they’re fathers. Young men mostly, in street dress, the tattoos on their arms, on the back of their necks, wearing sunglasses as they push little kids on swings, watch little kids go down the slide, these few years that these men have to make good, when the idea of fatherhood has half pulled them out of the hood life and before they’ve re-succumb to it, if re-succumb indeed is what they’ll do. And there are grandmothers, sitting on the park benches wearing their quilt jackets in the sun, smoking and staring through glasses at little packs of children that know above all else how to look out for each other.

And we make friends here, too.
And the grandmothers tell me stories.
And the young men never seem to see me.
And the children whiz by.
We stand around with our arms folded.
We smile and we scold gently.
And the kids, they just play.

I can remember exactly what it is like to be one of them. I am glad my life behind me has clear windows into it. I’m glad I still know.

These are the days before the storm.
On Saturday, the wind is up. The sun is warm. It is lovely, lovely, lovely. God, the butterflies have appeared. It couldn’t be better than this. All Saturday this is how I think. Sitting in the park Saturday, this is how I feel.

The calm of this town. The calm of these people, at this moment. The warmth of this spring before it is temporarily reburied.

This is the most perfect day of the year.
I can feel the minutes. I can feel them go. Like the strings of balloons you don’t intend to release. These perfect days. These perfect moments.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Random Thoughts from Colorado

…Napoleon Dynamite is Cosmo Kramer as a teenager who has yet to outgrow his angst. This is what passes for epiphany in the tired brain I call mine.

…Speaking of fatigue, it occurs to me in the late night, when I’m not asleep, or when a voice wakes me—my own voice, I assume, talking, or sort of half yelling about godknowswhat to godknowswho in the dark, from my so called sleep—and I peer around uncertain and then settle back to take stock of myself, at this, my most desperate of moments, these late night forays into frustration and hopelessness, that no matter what woman I can imagine loving or what women I can remember having loved, not one of them placed beside me in the bed at a time like this could ease me. If anything, my body would only go more rigid. Her voice, her touch, this perfect picture of beauty and grace, this person who best witnesses me, this person I know best and who best knows me, there in that dark, this finally stirred mixture of want and need and care, she could do nothing for me.

And if not her, then who?

Such are you thoughts at night?

…And in the day, at the park, I’m most happy. It’s been that way for two years now. The moments to which I must often return, they have nothing to do with open mouths, with unwarranted bar room attention, with chess board or football field victories, with words that by accident are chosen well.


What I like best to remember, when I’m at my most happy, it’s when I’m at the park. Connect them like dots, my park visits, through this year, through the one that came before, and you would have a different picture of me than I could suggest here, or at least than has been suggest. That picture, it’s my favorite.

Even in the darkest hour, a gray spring day not long after the oh so permanent and absolutely inevitable departure of my second wife (whose idea do you think that really was? Hers? Or this empty-room-addict I call me? This holdmetightgetthefuckoffofmesonofabitch who goes by my name?) I lie there at the bottom of a slide, having gone down head first, having dripped off the end slowly, into the chipped wood, I lie there on my back, face upward, the sky low with clouds, the wind sort of blowing, but such an ease in me, and at such a dis-eased time, a soft place inside all that bruise, and I thought: this is peace; I could die right now and it would be all right.

…It occurs to me that the mirror in which I’m the ugliest is in the bathroom of my first wife, the mother of my son. I wonder if this has anything to do with the power of suggestion, if I’m giving it the power to be symbolic, or if it’s just bad lighting, or maybe just really honest lighting.
In any case, I can hardly bear to see myself there. Once I do, I can hardly quit staring.

…But that parks.

That’s us today, my son and I, and the park full, and it’s lunch time, and everybody there is a mother but me, and in a different life, or maybe just a different frame of mind, some of them would make me hungry, but that’s now how I feel in parks. This is not Candyland. Nothing here makes you ecstatic. That’s not the point.

The sun, it’s warm. The children swarm. The sandwiches are good and we eat before he plays. Then he is gone into them, that world.

Today, a little girl, tall, three years old, so her grandmother tells me, this little American-Asian girl, as her grandmother identifies her, this grandmother who tells me about internment caps, this little girl who never plays with anybody, she takes the hand of my son and she will not let it go.

He is hypnotized, a bit startled, more than a little in love. Up the ladders, down the chutes.

This little loner, so the grandmother tells me, this little girl and my son, they won’t leave each other. When on the big slide, he shoots down faster than she does, she grabs his jacket, pulls it off in her desperation to hold onto him.

…And in the car, he says to me, out of the blue, and I do mean blue, this day, that crystal Colorado blue, that we’re-oh-so-close-to-the-sky blue, my son, he asks me: Would Mommy find it beautiful if you brought her flowers?

This four year old still trying to negotiate the concept of divorce.

…And death.
If you died, Daddy, I would protect your bones, he tells me.

And he begins to ask my about my grandparents.
What were there names?What did they look like?

And the subtle accusation: why am I not guarding their bones?

…The best thing I ever did in terms of writing, I wrote down my history, the story of my life, and then I wrote down everything I knew of the story of his mother’s life, both of ours right up to the point of the writing, and hers, what I knew of the childhood, the stories she’d told me. I wrote about her parents and mine, everything I knew. How they married, where they grew up, in what manner, their awards, their losses. I wrote about their parents, and, in the case of my family, what little I knew about the people that came before. I wrote things that I thought were important but things I did not. I tried not to give the story too much meaning. I tried to give the details, cleanly, honestly.

He has it now, though he doesn’t know he has it. This book that is full of information I wish I had been given. The things I’ll never know. That my parents wouldn’t find it important or prudent to tell me. That they themselves will forget.

All these lost moments.

All these ways I try to hold on.

Pictures and words, you can burn them into discs. You can make them feel almost eternal.

Monday, March 07, 2005

frequent flyer

How often these days I travel. The good trip toward, the bad trip away.
It always puts me out of my head to fly. These trips are always made more tired than I would drive.
The plan at the takeoff tilt.
The heads before me getting smaller row by row, the way the overhead bins suggest converging lines.
There’s something about it that suggests eternity. You could only imagine it in that kind of dentist chair fog, that laughing gas fatigue where nothing really matters, not even how they mean to maim you.
Asleep before it levels off.
Before seatbelts can be removed.
Asleep until you should wake.
These good trips toward. These times when you wake to a better world.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

(the post before this one is the only one that counts)

…The lead singer of Ratt was at Dixie Fri night. What the name of his new band is, I don’t know. They just explain the ten dollar cover charge to you by saying that the lead singer of Ratt is playing. He doesn’t sing Ratt songs. He sings Guns and Roses and Poison and so on. What does the lead singer of Ratt do? He fronts an 80’s hard rock cover band.

He screams into the microphone, They tell me rock and roll is fucking dead, but they should look in this fucking room. It’s not fucking dead!

And I look in the room, 150, 200 people bouncing around, swaying and leaping, mid life crisis babies and kids who will dance to anything, and I think to myself, Rock and Roll is dead. Or if it’s not, it life support system has nothing to do with the people on the dance floor or the man screaming fuck into the microphone.

And that lead singer from Ratt, he’s old.
And so am I.
And I can muster more sympathy for him than I can for myself.

--The Irish girl is back.
The swing couple still works her.
The little squat man, like a runaway from a Peter Jackson film.
The wife who grows on you, the way, as my friend suggests about the movies you watch enough to begin to like, you will want to fuck anybody you stare at long enough.

She’s always smiling and he’s sort of grim. He knows how thin it all is, this line he is trying to straddle between control and emasculation. I wonder what stories he tells himself, and how they’ll have to shift as the gap between them continues to grow.

--The Irish girl, I haven’t seen her in months, but I’ve been mostly retired, and now she is here, M, she has an almost impossibility pretty face, though there is something destroyed around the mouth. It is destroyed in a way I’ve never quite seen and it is destroyed in a place I’ve never seen destruction, from the corners of the mouth to the chin, on either side.

This destruction, it is a sort of attraction.

--I’m thinking of California, Santa Monica, the beach there at night, not quite safe, the girls I used to go walking with in the sand, scratching messages to each other with the toes of our shoes.

I am thinking of CC and how we drank at a bar at the top of a hotel there and a man played music through a single microphone, Gordon Lightfoot when I asked, and CC, she was small and adorable, and I remember clearly how she looked one hot evening when she stood before a fan in her living room and lifted her skirt to cool down, a sexy act of perfect innocence, and I remember the story she told about a bottle of wine, a man she didn’t like, and what they done in the dugout of the park in which we were standing. It was a sexy story not only for its details but mostly because she was telling it to me.

That kind of intimacy.

--Why I’m at Dixie Friday night thinking of LA, I don’t know.
It’s overly full.

With every drink you are a different person. These are not the stages of inebriation necessarily.
Just the changing you.
Just the fast forward or rewind button toggling in your personality.

I’m not a discerning person. I don’t see that well. My sense of smell, of taste, of hearing, they’re all average, or below.

And yet all Friday I’ve smelled something foul in everybody who has spoken close to me, something from the flesh perhaps, but mostly from the mouth. Students bending toward me in class, they have the odor of stomach disorder, of old garlic. It’s the same in the Dixie tavern and I remember how it was last week, that woman that reeked.

(Was that a week ago? Only? I recognize my life is reshaping into what it once was. Like a crumpled paper made ironed by the hand. The words are still the same.)

This is no gift. I imagine to see very well, to hear very well, all of these heightened senses would be more burden than they would blessing. Who wants to know that much about a person? What they have eaten. What they are like deep down inside. Who wants to appraise every pore?

Give me blurred vision. All people should shake and smear before me. As if they are the same. And of a different world entirely.

--But I think of California at the Dixie on Friday. I think of the make up artist, the girl with the name of a goddess, we rolled around on that beach, this girl who would never take her panties off, no matter what we doing, as if somehow that exempted her from the carnality of those acts we performed.

Am I remembering the way she looked properly? We met at the Viper Room. She had a kitten that was dying though she tried to keep it alive. After a certain point, the cruelty was in her care.

I knew her for perhaps two weeks, maybe a bit more.

I’m thinking of California, LA, but mostly the beach, Santa Monica.

These memories. These fragments. Nothing is remembered in whole. Everything is the condensed version. “To remember a day would take a day. To remember a lifetime would take a lifetime.”

And before those days of California fucking, when I was a kid from the country gone off to the big city, the end of Western civilization, this place that all that Manifest Destiny that began with the Greeks and the Romans finally came to rest, LA, my friends, JA and JT, later to be my roommates, we came driving down to the beach.

We were kids. We were happy. We sat on the top of lifeguard houses and threw the melons and oranges that had washed out of the sea back into it. I went running nude and white into the water, that kind of baptism.

These good friends, these non-acquaintances, these people who knew me when I was not who I am now but know me who I am now too.

We make of that knowledge something almost sacred.

--This girl at the Dixie, she’s blond and overly young and hanging around me but acting snotty, just as she did last week when L and I were here. If she knew how far I was from wanting to kiss her, she’d try very hard to get me to do that.

It occurs to me at the Dixie and then the night after, Saturday night at the Dark Horse and the other bar in Midtown, that I am in no mood for games of seduction

--L comes into the city with me, Midtown, those bars. Right away there is trouble with a man. Later, there is more trouble.

L wonders why I see to have brought out the worst in men.
I don’t know.
I don’t look for trouble.
I don’t even relate to other men in bars.
I try to imagine a world in which only the women count.

I decide finally that it must be pheromonal. That just as there are time when it seems more women than my haircut can justify seem to be attracted to me—and that must be some invisible chemical scent thing—there are time when men just seem to want to have trouble with me. Maybe that too is an invisible scent thing.

Different bars bring different types of trouble. If you have at the Dixie, it is a face to face thing and fairly combustible. In Midtown, mostly, it starts as a passive thing, that man, he’s trying to see what he can get away with at your expense, if you turn to him fully, he’ll shiver, shimmer, and fade out.

--The problem with the person you fight in a bar is you don’t really know anything about him. You don’t know if he is an off duty policeman. A profession fighter.

A man who has just lost his job. His wife. A man who has been diagnosed with something awful. A man who feels in perfect health but has grown a small clot in some artery that if hit properly and not even hard could break free and explode against his brain. A man who will take whatever you do to him home and there take it out on his wife. Or his dog. Or his child.

You can beat darkness into another man. Sometimes, it doesn’t even take your fists. But the game, it’s all about emasculation, and you can force darkness into a man like that.

And it’s a game of odds, no guarantee, what he’ll do with that darkness. What it will do to him.

Or whether or not, rather, that he’ll be beating it into you.

The problem with fighting in bars.

That makes me think of California too, all those puffed up wanttobeactors, lifting weights on the advice of agents, managers, wondering what to do with these muscles they’ve grown. End of the night frustration.

The good old American dilemma: sex of violence?

--A girl introduces herself by pointing to another girl and asking, Who looks smarter, me or her?

And you say, Shouldn’t you be asking who is hotter?

And that type of patter begins.
At certain moments, when the music is low enough and the vodka sits just right, you could have these conversations with your eyes closed.
In fact, at certain moments, you do.

--It doesn’t matter. The Dixie tavern, where everybody seemed to stink, or the Midtown bars where the girls look like they are wearing things they got at sweet sixteen parties, where the boys where button down shirts with rolled up sleeves and docker slacks. LA bars or Montana bars. The nightclubs of Beirut.

It’s the same.

Girls whose lizard minds try to make them prove, over and over, through smear of makeup, arch of back, semblance of availability, that the male of the species want to fuck them.

Boys who try to suggest, by size of wallet or muscle, by clench of jaw, but narrowed eyes, by push or kiss, that they can the girl, these boys whose lizard brains tell them WIN THE FUCK WIN THE FUCK WIN THE FUCK.

(Even though this won’t be legitimate mating. When our instincts catch up to our birth control, we’ll really be in trouble).

And a man who tells you he is completely over male games, he is the rare and enlightened, or, more likely, he just means: I know I can’t win them anymore.

--And everything ends well.
The ride home, the weekend mercifully sunsetting into Sunday.
I always ask myself, in the guilt that comes with my involvement in any of it, however minor, is this the world you mean to leave to your son? And I always tell myself, How can it be avoided?

Every father, he’d like to control the nature of the world. But it is the rare that can control even himself.

Friday, March 04, 2005

High Horse

It is now again legal to capture and slaughter wild western horses. You thought they were gone, but they’re not.

(In this cruel natured world where extinction is the only possible salvation and mercy the only legitimate virtue.)

Largely in part to public reaction to The Misfits (see review), these wild horses were protected since 1971.

Before 1971, the bulk of wild horses captured, killed, and rendered were turned into pet food.

Now they will sold to French and Asian restaurants and food distributors.

If you want to thank somebody for this sudden turn in the fortune of the wild horses, consider Conrad Burns, Republican, of Montana, a senator who brings a spittoon to DC.

… I imagine it bothers you to think of horses being caught, slaughtered, and turned into meat.

I imagine that you are disgusted by the thought of somebody not just ingesting, but enjoying the well charcoaled or perhaps rare slab of muscle that made up the flank of a horse.

Probably you’re an American and you think of the horse as a symbol of freedom and the West. Perhaps you have even had a horse nuzzle you for a bite of apple. Maybe you’ve rubbed that place between its ears or felt the hardness of its jaw. Maybe when you were a child there were pictures of horses on your wall.

Who can’t love a horse, elegant as they are and with such sensitive eyes?

It disgusts you, both in the stomach and in the conscience, that someone would eat a horse.
The way it disgusts you that someone would eat a cat or a dog.

In your world, cats and dogs are pets.
In your world, these animals are meant to be nurtured, not eaten.
They are capable of loyalty, even love. You’ve seen it expressed.
It hurts your heart to think of the dog pound, those little cages, those injection deaths.

(Does it occur to you that any brained thing can express loyalty, even love? A porcupine. A rat. A pig.)

…In countries where dog and cat are eaten, a popular method of execution is hanging. This is thought to tenderize the meat.

(The outrage in this county over furs from overseas is not that about what they do to the minks, how many are cruelly raised and more cruelly killed to make a coat, it is that jesusgod sometimes cat fur is mixed in.

In your world, it’s not right to stick a baby cat in a cage. To let it grow a little. To analy electrocute it and strip its skin. In your world, it’s ok to do that with a mink. Or a fox. Or a beaver.)

…The horses will be rounded up by helicopter mostly.
That kind of terror.

It bothers you to imagine them wild eyed in the small corral. Thirsty and covered in sweat and stinking of adrenalin.

These slaughterhouse trips.
Those numbed slaughters.

Does it bother you?

A woman on the news voiced outrage over the capturing, auctioning, and deaths of these horses. She said that she can’t imagine how anybody could be so cruel as to kill “an animal”. She meant to add an adjective or two, maybe something like “such a noble” animal, but all that came out was that she couldn’t imagine that someone could kill an animal.

She was wearing leather gloves, a leather band around her hat.

…Your pigs and chickens and cows, they’re not fed or watered during their last seventy hours—that nutrient would be wasted. The bulk of them are not dead before the rendering begins. This means that when they’re legs are being sawed off, their skins peeled open, they are alive.

You don’t want to believe that. The evidence is indisputable. As PETA suggests, meet your meat.

(Did you know that eels mate for life?
That pigs are considered to be smarter than dogs, on whatever scale that intelligence is measured?
That the central nervous system of an earthworm is similar to your own?)

…People like Gandhi, like King, they understood that true empathy is boundless, that suffering links us all.

You’ve been taught not to think of it like that. In your world, it’s ok to kill a cow but not a horse. In some other world, it’s ok to kill a horse but not a cow. In some other world, all this killing is wrong.

Everything dies. Perhaps the dispute has less to do with than the manner of death, and the manner of life before that death. You think that cow you see in the field, that pig you sung about at Old MacDonald’s, you think that’s where you lunch comes from? That it just grazes and plays and one day they sneak up and give it a shot and it drops down into peace and is then turned into something you can eat?

You’ve seen them on the freeway, pigs or cows, in any weather, jammed into trucks, moving from some factory farm to some slaughterhouse. Where did you think they were going? You’ve seen their eyes peering out. You know what I’m talking about. You know what you ate for breakfast, for dinner. You ate fear. You ate pain.

That animal you ate, it’s already dead. The money you paid for it, that’s the money they’re going to pay for somebody to kill the next one.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Failure of Exercise

Weaker running today than I was when I re-begin. Why is that?
(What does J Eric Miller write about? exercise; girls; and so on).

Maybe it’s the cold air.

It occurs to me halfway through that I might not make it.

I’ve never not made it, this or any run.

What will I think of myself if I have to walk the last of it?

…I remember a failure in exercise. This was years ago, a decade, a little more.

I live in an unfinished basement.

This girl and I, that first girl I thought I loved but only wanted, the burnmyfingertipwithcaramelgirl, she and I have parted, and what sticks in my minds, it is what she’s said to me some time before: You’re skinny, but I love your body.

(That viscous little paradox).

I find myself that summer buying a bench, buying weights. Plates and bars.
This is new for me. As a wrestler, I eschewed all but the stamina exercises.
The kids I wrestled, most of them, they were bulky.
Me, I was smart and tricky.
I wrestled like a thief, and that’s why I won.

But now I want to bulk up.

(and jesusgod, yes, i see that, the possibility that it all begins there, with this girl, this branch of my particular quest for acceptance)

Concrete floor with little rugs.

And what happens, a few months into it, I watch the Rocky series. The first three or four. Up until the Russian. Draco.

I’m working out. The bench, it’s tilted. This is called the incline press. It develops your upper pectorals, and, of course, to a lesser degree, your tris and your shoulders.

I know my limits. I know at this particular weight, I should be able to lift it six times. I’ve no spotter. After six, I must replace the bar, let the bench take the weight for me.

But I’ve watched all these fucking Rockies. I’ve got the eye of the tiger. And I know, I am absolutely sure, that you can make your body do what you tell it.

(You never have to stop running. You never have to lift your head out of the bathtub water.)

So after six, I say, One more.
Maybe it was like this, One more, mother fucker.
(I’m not polite to myself in the gym. Or the basement.)

So I do it, I bring it down and I push it up.
And now I am Rocky. Or the Russian, that cold looking son of a bitch, that Hitlerdream of height and weight and Anglo. Or Clubber Lang, that savage.
(These are not my stereotypes. They belong to the films.)

Go, I say, again.
And it comes down, that bar, the weight.
(You tear muscle, and muscle regrows. That’s what lifting weights is. You make yourself stronger by destroying yourself. Like any love affair. The way at the end our bodies will be destroyed, or chiseled, our hearts torn to pieces or hard).

And halfway up, my arms start to shake. And I’m not going to make it.

They’ll never go up again. No matter how much I believe.

(What do you do when your faith surrenders to reality?)

So they quiver, my arms.

This is the moment before the car accident.
The moment on the end of the rope.
That frozen second when you see the bad thing that is about to happen.
That shock.

My left gives out first. Once it gives a little, it gives all the way. The elbow drops.
That side of the bar goes slamming down across my face, my eyes socket. The plates on that side, they tumble off. Now there is an imbalance. No weight on the left, lots on the right. That arms gives out too. That elbow drops too. The bar crashes across the bridge of my nose, across the other eye socket. The weights slide off.

I’m there, holding the bar, trembling. Blood and sweat. I’d like to believe that I thought to laugh right then. Probably I didn’t because I thought I was dead.

(If you see some malformation in my face, this is where it happened. Fucking Sylvester Stallone. I got a lawyer, but nothing ever came of it.)

…All of this occurs to me as I run.
You cannot make yourself finish.
Just like you cannot make yourself a genius. Some things are not acts of will.

What will I think if I have to stop and walk?

And then, I come up the parking lot, it’s a bit of a hill in places, and I see at the top, there’s a girl, one of those vultures we all become, waiting in our cars to find some walking somebody to follow to his or her parking spot.

She’s waiting. And I’m dragging. I’m not running up this hill. I’m jogging up it.

But it’s a girl. She doesn’t have to be pretty. I don’t look long enough to notice. She might even be a boy who looks like a girl.

The bottom line is that in the presence of what I believe to be the female species, I have to speed up. I can’t appear to drag in front of her. I run up the hill. I run right by her.

And out of her sight, I’m not so far from home, but how will I make it?

(And it occurs to me as I run, I have more in common with a male baboon than I do with a female human).

(It’s good that things occur to you running. The more you think about, the longer you think, the more steps you’ve taken, the closer you are too the end. If you don’t look at your arms when they are shaking, maybe they don’t have to break. If you don’t think about drowning beneath the surface of your tub, maybe you don’t have to drown.)

(It is fortune that gets me home not crawling.)

(It is not will alone.)

(It is not faith alone.)

Faith nor will can save you. But they help.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

phone card blues

…My credit card showers me with affection. Like a lover, they do things to please me.
This is, of course, a trade off.

I call them up to ask them to remove two charges.

This phone card company on the internet——it sells me two phone cards that drain of minutes. You use them, and then you go to use them again, and they are empty, or nearly empty.

I have friends in the Middle East. I wonder if my blog just got red flagged. I have friends I like to call. And in Canada. So I buy phone cards on the internet, and these phone cards, they drain.

So you call customer service.
These are people in India.
They are always very sorry about what is happening to you.
They restore your minutes. But however many times they do that, the minutes always disappear.

I try not to hate them, these people in India who are trained to be very sorry.
I try not to love them, these reps at my credit card company who are trained to make me feel that they have an affection toward me.

I am reminded of what I sometimes tell myself, that almost noone is worthy of my love or hate.