The Unswung Bat

Saturday, September 30, 2006
Give Or Take

549 days, about 95 million half-seconds (give or take,) 1.504109 years, with an error of 12 hours. Exactly a year and a half and a day (+/- a half): The time between when she told me what I should be and when I realized (despite all my conditional agreements) that she was absolutely right. Thank you, and goodnight.

Friday, September 29, 2006

[Zoot McEditorialHat: If you're gonna read this, you'd better read it all, otherwise you might take me for some emo brat. 'Tis fictive, yes okay?]

A brine cloud, dark with unresolved shapes, wrestles and spins. The janitor worries at me. Pokes his head into the classroom and asks hawr you doin', brather? I'm muted and surprised. Good question: hawr'm'I doing? Fine, good. Yeah, in about an hour ("an awr, okay. Mmhm-kay"). Peremptory and warming. I curl my fingers to hide the chalk dust, hoping to escape credit for the maudlin doodles on the blackboard. Cough, gulp down the ocean.

Sputter. Impatience is typical and seething. I clack long-uncut fingernails against the formerly varnished wood of the desk, sending miniscule shocks of pain up the back of the digits. This means what? A bone ache sinks my skeleton till I wish I would just fly off it. Pop like a grape and be done. Done and gone. What is this feeling?

I'm wearing my coat indoors. I'm still shivering from this morning, when I woke up under a hole in my ceiling that'd appeared during the night. A blister in the surface of the ceiling, with gray cracks veined around it, had always been a sign of water damage, but I hadn't expected it to break through like that. I especially hadn't expected to sleep through the soaking breach.

The hole was dark and mouse-sized, tunnelling into the grimy, wet-smelling hollow under the roof, and dribbling a few strings of battering droplets on my freezing bedsheets. I'd had cold dreams. I was on an offshore oil rig, a metal island in the Atlantic, with every friend and loved one I could think of. You were there. In a sloshing storm. The massive curling sheet of ocean was indented with millions of sharply edged raindrop craters, swirling with a static roar. We talked. Forty minutes in the shower failed to stop the shaking. It came from my bones.

I've thrown hard and hot stares around all day, though my freezing lungs are empty and my head should be in a sling. Tiny lines appear in my skull, not unlike the antpath cracks that announced the imminent failure of my ceiling, but these are from thermal fracture. I need my skull tapped and the overheated contents drained, till nothing moves in there. A yoghurty stream of a mental substance will slow to a trickle and then crust around the closed wound.

The title of a piece, a bit more subtle than in the days when it just stated the subject, usually focuses attention like a lens on a part of the work that is poignant but a little blurry in its relation to the whole. The title throws it into sharpness, and the moment this happens can announce an important juncture or reversal. This title hasn't clicked yet, and now there's a mess of yoghurt and some chalk dust involved.

Hydrolysis: a chemical process in which a molecule is split into two parts by reacting with a molecule of water. One part inherits an OH- group from the water, and the other an H+. Atomic bonds cleave and reform differently into bigger molecules. Simple systems spontaneously complicate. The opposite reaction points against time's arrow.

Inside an organic being, with low concentrations of reactants, hydrolytic cleaveage reactions are essentially irreversible, the reactants being almost utterly consumed. Because reversing the reaction is, practically, thermodynamically impossible, many metabolic pathways are driven forward by the breaking of certain anhydrous compounds. No. Hold on.

The reaction proceeding in only one direction, the organism lives along that one direction, instead of oscillating between metabolism and anti-metabolism. No, that's not quite right. Malesh. But time is the axis along which pyrophosphate becomes inorganic phosphate. That doesn't go backwards, not -- almost by definintion -- in a living thing. As likely as a child reincorporating with its parents. Time is the progressive irreversible splitting and forward motion of the organic system.

Maybe it's Maxwell's demon pushing pieces the wrong way. My nerves are shutting down. My skin is cold and rosy with un-deoxygenated blood, cells turning the O2 back at the border. Is there bitter almond on my breath? Does that make sense? Can I find someone who knows?

I can't write. A brine mist of prior shapes and intimations wrestles and spins, I can trace its holding lines. I am back at the beginning, and writing in the style of wasted poets. I can't write. Caught in the churn, up, under, breach, choke. Claw back upward like the scheming or insane—but in either case dying—faith healer poisoned and hypothermic in the frigid river Neva. Be furious, rake and buoy. I'm exhuasted, dear. Pull me. No. Me: Swallow the ocean. Pave a highway on the sandy bed. Lay down.

Pick me up, dear, from the bottom, leave me up, Lord, ev, er, y, day. The janitor worries about me. Pokes his head in my room and asks hawr you doing brather, to which my surprise can't find a convincing response. Hawrm'I doing? Fine, good. Yeah, in about an awr (at 6:00 p.m.). Ducking back, running over the same old ground, (what have we found?). Mmhm-good. Peremptory and warming. I curl my fingers to hide the chalk dust, hoping to escape credit for the maudlin scribble on the blackboard.

Impatience seethes. I can't wait to leave the building, to get through the crowd. On the subway I'm impatient -- for what? To get home? I'm going! To go blank and slack. It seems like I'm hyperventilating, but I know really I'm breathing out to try keep down an internal pressure. Otherwise I know I'll explode.

If I walk home alone, will the moon fall on me? What year is this? If I push myself back through those tiny pathways, water flying up through the ceiling, freezing spatter withdrawing through the dream, antimetabolism, is there any chance of future becoming past at all. Is there. And


Do you think you can tell?

Sunday, September 24, 2006
Sleep is a perverse dictator. I stayed up till 2 a.m. last night -- which is about my median bedtime. I woke up at 9 a.m. and thought about going back to sleep, but uncharacteristically decided to get up. And felt good, though tired. And after a shower I wasn't so sleepy. In fact, I apparently woke up so well that now, at 11 p.m., I'm not tired at all. Why this be I cannot begin to guess, beyond the foregone conclusion that sleep is a perverse dictator. I should be thankful it hasn't had me thrown in a lobster tank to be drowned and torn apart by crustaceans, or sentenced me to the boats.

Oh well. I did something today, which makes the day okay. Yay day. There are other things, that is, I feel like there's room left here and I should be saying other things. But instead what I'm getting is that feeling that detects the end of a phone conversation, when you run out of things to talk about from a distance and need to either meet in person or go do something else. Not sleeping, in this case.


And I am still in the kitchen. And. But I remember -- or am I here, remembering the kitchen? -- scuffing the pavement under skyscraper nightlights. Boxes of star. Whichever. It is as though the sidewalk tile sucks my foot down each time I raise it. The ache in my heels is dull and doesn't end. It makes me tired.

But I remember, for a moment like the water on the rock, another time, when it took an effort to keep the rubber of my shoes on the ground. Avoid turning off into an alley and releasing the concentration that kept me held, coming unglued from earth, and revealing myself for what. I.

Am in. Kitchen. Flying through the shivering empty sky.


Cut short. Too bad.

Friday, September 22, 2006
City of Dreams

I have time, technically, so I'm gonna click out another entry, of sorts. Only an hour, though. I have exposés to write and a breed of crabfaced warrior monstrosities to create. Try and separate fact from fiction in that statement and I bet you get at least two things wrong. Barring that, you are a clever ninja sleuth and may come over for celebratory shortbread cookies anytime.

I am already overschooled. That's not to say over-educated -- I got lots to learn -- just that the gurgling side-effects of university are starting to froth dangerously over the rim of my brain. My cup runneth over . . . with terrifying ooze!

[SFX: Per-i-lous-musiiiiiiic].

Margret Atwood, damn her zombie heart, dropped out of her PhD program because, supposedly, all the critical theory was killing her writing. Many authors do both things (writing and the ridiculous, sometimes invaluable metawriting bullcrap criticism that informs our English courses). I don't know what kind of robotic, compartmentalized brains are wired to these dual-beings, but they have given me something very rare: an argument in which I'm on Margaret Atwood's side.

Seriously, I don't know how a person can write naturally with a zillion lectural formalisms and critical gizmoleters chipmunking in the background, or, god help them, actually serving as inspiration. A story that sets out to illustrate a point is at best an anecdote. A story that follows rules or critical formulae is not a story, it is the aborted fetus of what should have been an essay. Notwithstanding, Lost in the Funhouse is fantabulous and proves there are exceptions. Or does it? I can't get these things out of my head. Out, damned reader response! Out I say!

Thank god for shit like this.

City of Dreams

The sores were spreading, hard white grains surrounded by pulpy red. Now it hurt to open my mouth, to purse my lips to whistle. Eating anything but spongy bread amounted to torture. I tried smoking, on the theory it might anesthetize them. I smoked a cigarette, it made it worse, I smoked part of a joint, it made it much worse. I smeared baking soda on the wounds. It was pasty and tasted like a crotch. It felt a little better. I almost cried.

There was an episode in my deep past -- I'm thinking this now in my kitchen, fishy bicarb water drooling through my beard as I pause in momentary relief at the undignified cure. The past-past, the impossible time, it shines clear as dawn, warming the cold roots of eyelashes and shelf of my brow (they seem physically to swell) and makes me wince.

When I was very much younger. When I was. I was standing on cold sand, the tea-colored sun warming everything but the wet grainy bottoms of my feet, the bicarbonate breeze puckering my nipples and causing me to unthinkingly clamp my armpits. When. Jerome. Was shooting barefoot along the waveline, jumping over bubble-fringed fingers and splashing down to break them. Was picking and choosing pebbles to drop into the slingpouch of his t-shirt, dripping wet and clinging to his tiny maniacal frame. His hair was fat bristles crosshatching down his neck and spitting droplets down his back. When holding his t-shirt like a satchel in one hand he lost his balance and pounded face-first into the knuckles of a wave.

I was there when he turned over, a powdery trail of half-moons shows I'd run over the sand. More and more defined as the beach got wet and crunchy. Picked him up -- his face was hot as he cried. When a couple moments. And he later. But it was his pebble hoard he was crying about. A few were fallen into smooth dents in the sand around him, retrievable, but most were washed away.

"I found a tooth."

He was looking for fossils, bear teeth or dinosaur claws, like we saw at. Thought he'd found one, in the lost pebbles of course. On the edge of nervous breakdown over the loss of his find.

We pulled a few other ones from the ocean hands to calm him, and made a promise of a trip back to the museum and ice cream. One fat blocky and essential rock we kept swirled pink and white like raw fatty meat. Afterwards dull and he ignored it but now lacquered. Tears of cold seawater drip off the gleaming. Irridescent with waterskin lit and leaking back to the ocean, but permanent enough because I recall it wet and shiny but rough-to-the-touch. This is meaning to illustrate depths becoming surfaces, and in a more literal way to suggest the permanent status in memory of transitory experience, standing out against the lackluster stretches of nonimportant static experience, and I am in the kitchen.


Should we awake, to find it gone, remember this our favorite town.

Monday, September 18, 2006
News from the Court

I have a schedule document, the Fantabulous Agendums of Reginus von Kingpants (fear me! for I am He of the Kingly Pants -- pants of king-ish qualities!), hotkeyed on my laptop. Whenever I have to remember something, I simply hit the easy-to-remember combination of ctrl+shift+windows+t (for "time") and jot it down. Amazingly, it's been working out for me. When it fails, I resort to asking one of the pants' retinue to remember it for me, but they tend to ignore me and kowtow to the magist'ry of my regal pantaloons. They are a bunch'a phonies.

Today (ctrl+shift+windows+t) it tells me I must -- must, absolutely -- Read 2 chapters of my Women's Lit book (or, as my prof would harpoon me for calling them, "chapterettes"), drop off a Work-Study special application dealy-widget, and pay my VISA bill. Also, floating around with no date attached, it seems I've committed to buying me a mortar and pestle, for coffee I believe.

All these things being so, I've not much time to write right now. Yet I go on, persevering through cruel circumstance, my stride bolstered by the divine right of pants.

Bad Press

Rosaline was afraid of the fallout.

"God, do you have any idea what the cover-up alone could mean?"

"The cover-up, do you have any idea what the exposure will do? Think about it, Ros. Hell, the longer we keep it to ourselves the more we're asking to be hushed up."


She didn't have a chance of changing my mind, and she knew it. It'd been such a strange trip getting all the facts, the payoff was irresistable. I can't see how there'd be any money in it, beyond the inevitable book deal and publicity, but to have my name attached to it, indelibly -- to something everyone, everyone in the world, would talk about for a long time! Forget about it. As soon as we get back to civilization, I'm running to the phones.

It all started with a damned book review. After two weeks of threats, Saul -- my editor -- finally got me to write up The Da Vinci Code.

"I don't want to," I cleverly replied, "get Mike to do it." Mike was not the brightest or most senior member of the paper, so I picked him. Saul was having none of it.

"Shut up," he adroitly shot back.

"Go to hell," I offered, I thought graciously, by way of compromise. We debated the matter till the third time he fired me, for emphasis, whereupon I conceded the point, under protest.

Once saddled with the job, I had to rush to find someone to do all the work for me. Normally there's no problem with this, since most people who actually read book reviews in the paper don't read the books, and vice-versa. I've gotten away with dozens of skim-quote-make-something-up jobs. That wouldn't work, though, since just about everybody who read the Da Vinci review was sure to read, or have already read, the god damned book, I had to find a way to make my assessment of it look convincing.


This story has an end, really, I'll get to it.


In my women's lit class, a pack of handouts went along the right side of the room and stopped. When the other side complained, the prof tsked "there a strong bias against the left in this class." I hate everything she stands for, except for the stuff that isn't postmodernist.

I added titles to all the "things" below. I avoided that before, having the idea that the title of the blog post, and the accompanying picture, would have some obscure bearing on the fiction scrap, and that was enough. But I just realized that, unless you read this every day (and despite obsessively going over and revising my stuff, I don't even do that) you're liable to miss stuff if you scroll down, and I want you to actually read those bits. And who knows, maybe say something in the Emergency Disaster Backup Gästbuch.

I'd be at peace, and I'd have no desire, if I'd lived right

Sunday, September 17, 2006
Like, Ghosts or Somethin'

Just sorted through the harddrive on my family's computer at home. This is the digital closet, and I've cleared it out. That doesn't mean I threw anything away, other than a few bits of meaningless information about universities, some old games, a pdf about how to disassemble a specific Casio keyboard, and so on. The rest I shuffled into a few different folders and packed into a box, where I can actually find stuff. I never let go of anything. Try and keep that in mind if you lend me something.

It was hard work. One challenge lay deciphering the incredible titles I came up with for important stuff back in "the day." I can see I was a real secretive type. "uf.wpd?" What the hell kind of filename is that? Oh, I see. Pretty much the entire point of this blog (this is obviously not true, but disregard the fact that I'm inventing it for argument's sake) was to crack open this closed-book way of writing and put stuff up inside the interwebs, presentable and with my name onn'em. Of course, some of this stuff I never, ever would have put up -- not because it's personal, but because it's embarrassingly rough.

My music is another thing. I haven't spent much time on finding new stuff these past 2 years or so, between the constraints of time and my laptop's munchkinesque HD. But even so, I'm shocked at how much good music I'm missing. I left a ton of great stuff behind on this PC that I'm gonna have to figure out how to take home. I will drop names, in a form you can easily skip over, 'cause I'm still trying to work out what I want to say about this.

Kamaal the Abstract -- a name after my own heart. Melanie Safka. A buncha stuff by The Odds. All these songs by the Five Blind Boys of Alabama -- "I have never reached redemption, but God knows I tried" is as fine a song as you can hope you hear. Long-Legged Woman Dressed in Black, by Mungo Jerry. Planes Mistaken for Stars. I miss all this stuff, when the hell did I drift away from it and not notice?

We have two dogs -- doglets, the froofiest of undersized canines. My dad has a theory that they have no sense of time, supported by how they are just as maniacally happy when we return from a trip to the grocery store as when we come back from 4 months overseas. I thought it was a weird idea to move forward through time without noticing any lapse, only a baffling change in the present state. But it turns out I do the same thing, and I can do it backwards too. I open an old document or a song from Back Then, and the ends of then and now are stapled together, everything between a closed loop. Removed from the sequence.

It isn't what I believe those in "the business" would call a smooth cut. This exact moment becomes a jarringly life-like glimpse of the future, seen from years ago. I never call the number I wrote down there? I don't go to UBC because of what? That IM session was the last time we really talked? God damn it to hell!

And then the time warp wears off -- and of course this is how things are -- almost. I wonder how well things would carry over that time-stapling suture, into now. That's really what I try to do with this housekeeping.

There's a Hole In Broadway

Day after day, the hole kept getting bigger. Bits of asphault crumbled into it and it grew like is was opening its mouth. People called it a city works problem, but they sent a few workers down there and they never came out, and then they sent rescue workers who took a careful look and shrugged and went in and never came out. And then some scientists went and took a real careful look, and stepped inside and they got eaten, too, which means their results were inconclusive. I mean, New York is still New York, and life ain't about to stop over some monster pothole, even if it does eat people. Still, no matter who you were, the idea of it kind of gnawed at the edge of your mind. You know, like when was it gonna stop? They slapped some kind of emergency pavement on it but it swallowed that down, too.

The ads about it have settled on saying there's nothing to worry about right now, but stay away from Broadway and East 43rd St if you know what's good for you. It was like a gremlin mob was shaking down the theater district. Personally, I was sick of hearing about it, and I know I wasn't the only one. On TV, the radio, at work, everybody was saying the same things about the hole. The same shit, over and over like every time they repeated it they got closer to knowing what they were talking about. It's like the thing was sucking away their brains while it chewed on Broadway. And there were theories.

One thing you can count on crackpots for is a bit of variety. Every lunatic gave it his own personal touch. I got in a cab and noticed too late I was sharing it with a raggedy gray bum, hadda be eighty years old, all tatters and bones. The cab'd already pulled inna traffic an' I thought, what the hell, I'm stayin', an' opened my window and leaned my head as far out as I could without looking like a dog.

The driver laughed. "Say, what you think about that hole inna street shit?" he asked me over his shoulder.

"What hole?" I answered crankily, and he laughed again.

"What hole? Man, I gotta go all the way up 34th St. and back down 57th to go up broadway and he says what. Betcha you know what it's about," he said to the bum.

"Tell you what it's about," the bum bum coughed out, and I rolled my head out the window while he mumbled his theory. Sonofabitch cabbie fucking encouraged him. The bum swung from side to side and puffed as he talked like he was blowing invisible smoke rings and reading them.

His idea was that every forty years the devil visits his old high school, which is in New York, and then the city is pretty well fucked. Last time around they blew up the twin towers. I asked what happened in '61, and he said "Vietnam, asshole," like they fought the whole thing in Times Square. I gotta look at getting a bike or something. The devil's name, in case you wondered, is Adal Goel, and he went to the ?Bread and Roses High School.

Anyway, every-goddamn-one and his brother had something to say about the hole -- the same thing, in fact. I got a feeling like I'd knock the mouth off the next asshole to ask me what I thought about that shit. Lucky for me, I got an inner circle of very self-centered people.

The thing about each of them, if you asked them what they thought about the hole, they’d give you a ticked-off face for interrupting whatever train of thought they'd been following, and say "huh?" No dignified responses or stupid questions, just 'I don't give a damn about some stupid hole, I was trying to talk about me.' They're a breath of fresh exhaust. So after another day of talking about the hole, when I'd had it up to here with the god damned thing and I thought if I pretended to be interested in one more guy’s crap opinion I’d flip out, these were the people I called.

We set up a night out, chose a spot called the Arkadiuz. It’s one of those places everyone goes ‘cause no one knows about it. A hole in the wall with neon lights and a bouncer, plus a bartender who’s long on drinks and short on conversation, which was exactly the cure for a long day of cheap talk.

The drive there took a while, ‘cause the cabbie detoured halfway around Manhattan downtown to stay away from the hole. He had a one-track mind, that guy.

“So, you goin’a the Arkadiuz, right?” he asked me.

“You got it, pal, it’s just off Br-“

”Yeah, yeah, I know where it is. I’ma take a detour, though ‘cuz of . . . you know.”

“Fine, whaddevah.”

“So, uh, d’a fuck ya think ‘bout ‘at shit, huh?”

“I think it’s a hole. I think it eats people. D’a shit else do I care, so long as I stay outta da fuckin’ thing?”

“Yeah, right, I hear ya,” said the cabbie, and that set me off for some reason.

“Everybody, I mean everybody’s got some theory a’ what they think it is. Alligators or a faultline or terrorists. I mean cut the crap already.”

“I ‘ad a guy in here today thought it was haunted, you know, like ghosts or something.”

“Ah, s’all bullshit, fr chrissake. Let’s face it, pal, we don’ know what da fuck it is, and every time someone tries’a find out, they get eaten, so we ain’t gonna find out what it is. And complaining ‘bout it an’ throwin’ around theories ain’t helping nothing, so you can either accept it’s there and deal with it, or get outta town.”

The cabbie didn’t have anything to say to that, so he just shut up. After a minute or two he switched on the radio. It was talk about the hole. For the rest of the ride I listened to a guy sayin’ how the hole was the true grave of Jesus Christ, and we’d better all get our shit together ‘cause He’s coming back, I don’t know, for a night out on Broadway I guess.


I can stay awake all night, but I would make mistakes, alright.

Saturday, September 16, 2006
The Devil's Arithmetick

I said 30 entries in 30 days, no more or less -- you didn't think I quit, did you? 1 down, and 4.0 tomorrow, and I'm outta here.

I am actually really good at managing time. I don't usually feel like it, but when I try to, I can do exotic and frightening things with a watch and an agenda. My incredible talents are usually dormant of their own accord, as I don't tend care much about scheduling. Sometimes, though, I find I must actively suppress my emerging superpowers, because I am terrified at their true extent.

Two days ago, for instance, I sat down, wrote all the things I wanted to do on a scrap of paper, and divided the day into 30 minute segments in which I would finish everything. And I did. However, so precise was my time management, that I found my self seriously struggling to decide whether I should go swimming or floss, the latter activity consuming 5 apparently critical minutes of the former. Fear me, for such are my powers.

To make up for it, the next day I missed a 3 o'clock class by planning for it to start at 4 pm. Seems the prof and the other 40 students don't feel they need to think about what's convenient for me. U of T is such bullshit.

In other news, I'm getting a job at U of T! Probably! Huzzah! Actually, this is quite a nice one. The Varsity, the newspaper I've been volunteering at since June, needs a copy editor, which they badly need to correct mistakes in their stories. For example, here's a nice line from one of my pieces, after it was hurriedly revised by a harried editor:

"After a mob of 6,000 drunk partiers pelted paramedics with beer bottles and torched a car at last year's homecoming party last year, Kingston police is warning that at this year's homecoming at Queen's university next year it may use riot police and tear gas."

Who happened what? When did it where? See, now, what he meant to do was change it from saying, basically "last year police warned about next year's party," to "police have warned about this year's party." That's a good edit. Instead, it exploded. So I've got a reference from within the Varsity and hopefully I'll get to work. Shortly afterwards, I'll take over the newspaper world and become the next William Randolph Hearst. Yay! I've already bought a charming wooden sled to refer to in my last words.

In the Cursed Parlor of Mme De Bovary

Meanwhile, within the cursed Parlor of Mme De Bovary:

Cecil was at the folding table practicing with his cups. I could hear him from my perch within the camera obscura. Imagining it in the darkness, I was bored with the trick but infuriatingly curious about its secret.

He would present his audience with 5 cups, call forth a spectator, and shuffle the cups with diabolical ease, catching a sliding four golden bells between them. When he stopped, the watcher would pick one. No matter which one was picked, the others would levitate, and inspection would reveal a tiny jinn, quivering and straining, under each of the floating cups. Then he would pick up the other cup and all four bells would tumble out, the gasps of the frail jinni drowned out first by their ringing and then by the invariable applause and admiratory chuckles.

The bells were an obvious prestedigitory trick, of course. Any one of us knew a dozen ways to gather them under one cup with no risk of revealing the subterfuge. In the early days following his disappointment at Oxford, I witnessed Maxwell performing his famous appendectomy on the prince using the crudest of these techniques. When the prince died anyway, not of sepsis but infected horsebite, the prevailing demonology took a severe blow, but fortunately the publication of Morlaye's Balance and Vacuum wasn't far off.


I was going somewhere with this, maybe I'll remember where.

There would be songs, sung by a choir

Monday, September 11, 2006
This Counts

I got to 368. It was hard, for counting, because I was imagining a different person for each number. It was an interesting thing for someone who has trouble inventing personal details.

Holy fucking monkey hell. If you do only one thing this year, including breathing, go see The Protector. Just do it. I have never laughed so hard at a movie that was simultaneously so ridiculously awesome. Do it. Yes, those are gong mallets in the picture. At no point is it explained why the temple is on fire and full of water. And this is very nearly the least absurd scene in the movie (at least until the viking walks through the door). Literally, he walks through the door.

Getting Downstairs

I pushed a cow down a flight of stairs today. It seemed like the only option.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Today certainly was a day. School tomorrow. Jiminy jilikers! I'm confirming, on a personal level, the notion I had going into university, that I wasn't going to get onto a particular career path, but for experience, you know, with things like breadth and depth, and also length, that would help me be better, possibly in some sort of way. It is three English courses for me, plus another half course for my Writology minor in the winter, and meantime jobs and internships or some funky "extern" program the U of T is running, which I believe is a money laundering/pointless slavery operation. U of T has over 175 years of experience with these sorts of things, so I'm sure their handling of it will just be awesome.

Last Morning on Earth

Supposedly, Gray Ran was waking up at 6 a.m., making himself a tiny cup of coffee, taking time to do it just the way he likes it -- burning some cardamom pods and sprinkling in the ashes, breathing their black and acidic smell and licking them
off his fingertips -- and walking off of a bridge. He'd paced the route out, looked it up and down, thought about how long it would take, what song he'd sing to keep his jitters at bay, planned to do it early so he wouldn't have traffic or a screaming bystanders be the last things he heard.

He'd told no one. That, he reflected as he lay in bed that morning, had been a mistake. He should've told at least one person he knew, in a conspiratorial way. Make it sound like a joke, but with a pebble of weight to it, a half-second stare. That way he'd have something driving him -- if he tried to do it half-assed or gave up, that one other person would know, and think he was, deep down, chickenshit.

He did not tell anyone, and anyway, he thought, maybe that wasn't so bad. He had more flexibility with things if no one else knew. Only a little less bad than dithering on the precipice would be screwing something up from being too tired. He had a moment of terror at the thought of being struck, just after tipping over the brink, with the feeling of having forgotten something. That feeling that sometimes struck him 15 minutes out of the house, already in rush hour and with no time to go back, would be so much worse when there was no more time to go back, and never would be again. One plunging second of biting regret, no thanks, thought Gray Ran. Besides, who wants to die tired? Would he fall any faster with heavy eyelids, he mused.

What could you possibly forget? badgered a dogged faction of his consciousness, long as you remember yourself, the bridge, ground, and gravity are pretty much covered. A looser body of impulses, which liked to get on the nerves of this zealous first one, told it to shut up, and dug into his pillow.

Gray got out of bed at 1 p.m., less than thrilled, more than sulky, at living another day. Or half of it. He brushed his teeth a little viciously, channelling some of his spite into innocent gums. He thought, when I won't get out of bed to kill myself, something's really not working.

A woman had emailed him, a friend who thought she was still recovering her footing with him after a bad attempt at dating. It'd been two years ago, and she still thought he was all needles and pins over it.

Hey Gray, (he thought, she thought he thought it was cute)

Kirsten and Claude have been talking about going to see that new show, the one with Zivy Gavriel on piano, and i'm trying to actually make it happen. Come! I was thinking saturday night would probably be best, drinks at my house after. There anyone you want to bring? I hope I'm not barging in with this or anything, but it'll be fun! Anyway, it seems like ages since all of us have caught up. Hope everything's good in the meantime, I've been taking care of myself. Give me a call sometime.


Gray could formulate no response beyond pushing his laptop aside and turning on the TV. He did not want to have drinks at Judy's afterward. He did not want to bring a friend. He wanted to tilt off the lip of security, tumble into the space above the valley, watching the bridge vanish upward, into the city. It was too late for coffee. It's 2 p.m., thought Gray Ran, and I'm still very alive. In fact he was downright healthy, though too groggy to really notice it. Fuck.


We all pick and choose. In the month following 11, 09, 2001, I was told hundreds of thousands of people died. About 100,000 of them died all at once, in an earthquake. I remember that peripherally. This happened to me, and I remember it because it put me in shock. About 17 stupid documentaries and sob-shows are on, upcoming, or have just wrapped up, to say nothing of the damned movies. I'm avoiding all of them (except for one very dry CBC one I sort of drifted into) and trying to figure out just what exactly to do on September 11. Last year it was flying Rome-Amsterdam-London, and that nearly ended, literally, in 4 catasrophes. No foolin', it was a jinxed trip. Maybe go for a walk in the park and start counting to 100,000. Lunch with dad tomorrow seems like a good plan too. And, of course, education!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I probably owe you no explanation, stop hounding me! I thought I'd go back and forth from writing the part below and this, the blog-post proper, but that was a damn fool idea. I wrote until I was finished, and then came back up here, which I should've expected. Fortunately, no one was hurt as a result of my miscalculation, though I did have to fire several engineers. The bottom line is, I just don't need so many engineers, and when the fits hit the Sean they're the first to go.

One thing bears mentioning about today: Andra took me rock climbing and I was the first of us to try and finish a 5.8 route. Andra went after me and did it faster, and then Caedmon went last of all (last climb of the day) and scrambled all the way up like a pale and skinny spiderman. So, like spiderman. But I was there first, before it was cool. There were a couple other people watching, too, though I believe they were only resting their necks and arms after finishing a much, much harder 5.12b. For those of you who don't know, a 5.12b equates, approximately, to shooting yourself in the stomach.

Andra would love to climb every week. Two or three trips a year is fine for me, where climbing gyms and 5.x courses are concerned. There's no pressing need for either of those things, but those of you who've never climbed a rock should be embarrassed to call yourselves primates.

A Delivery

Strike while the iron's hot, that's what they say. Of course, now everything's almost always cool, yes, come in, I can sign it. My hands are fine. In fact, I understand my writing is considered to be worth something. Thoughtful of you to ask.

That's a portrait of my first wife, isn't it? And a trite place for it, but what could I do? The plan, I think I remember, was to have a nail there for it and put it up anytime someone came along who would irritate me if they didn't see it, but I felt bad enough about taking it down that I never did, and now I think I'd fall and bang my head on the mantelpiece if I tried to do it myself. Do you happen to be much of a decorator? Yes, I can sign for it, don't you have a pen?

Junk. I'll get my own.

This is a very good pen. I've had it since I was 20. Or so. It was one expense I allowed myself during a very bad year. Have you been at your job long? I would've jumped at it, then. You read about people who've had twenty unrelated jobs in their lives, railroad conductors and loggers and schoolteachers and fruitpickers. Factotums. I couldn't imagine, and god it's terrifying. I would be out walking around at night, and get home and almost cry that I hadn't been sleeping, getting ready for the day, to do better and make accomplishments to hold onto later on.

I would be exhausted when I got home. Sometimes I would've run. Often the day would end in sitting, thoughtless and scared in an easy chair. The day drained like a departing flood until the last drop ran out and my parched sense of time had only the night to draw from. I'd still wander like that now and stay up late shaking and holding my head if I could manage.

You'd get so sick of thinking about the things, the jobs and businesses other people have and how they got them, it all seems so natural and sobering. You'd go stand in front of a mirror to get drunk.

Thank god I no longer feel the urge to see myself. There's not a mirror in this house and I'm more familiar with my first wife's face forty years ago than mine now.

God, I felt so trapped then. But my possibilities, the ones I owned, though restricted, were more then than they've been since. I was free in the night to be invisible and in a hurry, huffing down the sidewalk, free to run home to the apartment I could barely afford, with my horrible job that couldn't possibly be really mine but seemed to be the best I'd get. Or to turn around and run through an anonymous park through streetlights and past a cluster of mumbling junkies. Also free to scare a pizza delivery man carrying a box 'round the corner, with my stupid running. Or to buy more than I should, or work less, and worry about the bills. Free to run home to my first wife, who wasn't the one I had wanted. Or to pretend to myself that I hadn't dreamt about another woman, but also to pretend I was hers anyway, while my wife slept untouched.

And to run home and write. I couldn't stand to look in a mirror at any point after something had come into my head that I hadn't made up on my own, but'd been spoken to me by someone I'd made up, which was better. I hated to see my own face reflected until after it was all written down. And I'd run home like my baby would die if I slowed. Run while my throat got thick and scratchy, and fall through the front door and into a drink of water, thankfully refrigerated, from the least dirty measuring cup 'round the sink. Relish everything stupid in your life. I'd run at night, through a horrible job and a first wife -- I had no second -- a quorum of addicts and the alarmed look of a pizza man, and so much that scared me to death for some stupid reason. It isn't just what you do that matters, finally, but also how. I did it the way I did. Love everything. Yes, I said I'd sign it, give it to me already, if you want me to stop talking.


See? Some better.

Friday, September 08, 2006
Food Stamps, Stomach Cramps, Magic Lamps

What was I thinking a minute ago? I remember. I was thinking how it's very easy to think about what I've failed to do so far, and what I want to do in the future, but that balancing point of actually doing it (sitting down, cracking my knuckles, and having a glass of water first, natch) is the foe. The enemy, which I must burn fires and suchlike, put on war paint and cast magic spells, before fighting.

I was thinking how the Chance always seems to have been crucially missed, frighteningly looming in the near to-be, or meaninglessly right goddamn here. That is, writing down what's I'm thinking right now has knack for looking like a useless waste of time, but afterward it's invariably unveiled as having been a golden opportunity gone now, forever. As someone said (somebody did, but I forget his name, Google it) "I've lost too much, or rather failed to keep . . ." and then he probably finished his sentence.

With this in mind, I'm embarking on my favorite kind of race: an endurance one, in which neither distance, nor duration, nor speed matter, and in which no actual running, or even movement above the carpal tunnel, is done. Except when I scratch my head. I am not talking about national novel writing month, but that is in November, Google. I don't want to try to write a novel in 30 days, because that would be horrible in progress and product, too. But 30 posts in so many days seems reasonable.

Hockey Stop

They seemed made of glass, and when they spun I worried in a dumb and nervous, dad, way that they'd hit something and crack. Swarming on the ice, sliding, whipping past each other in fabulous near-misses. I used to want to skate, I've probably actually been about, I dunno, ten times in my life. Twenty, maybe, since there was one winter we went skating a lot. It happened at the whim of my parents -- my mom, in fact, dad's a skiier, I was for summer sports like track and cycling -- and so was highly variable, one of the things that was different about each year.

Unlike my sister and I, my kids asked their parent to take them skating, bugged us about things like getting their skates sharpened and signing up for lessons. I took piano lessons, my mom couldn't stand piano music. Could, only barely. I can only barely stand to see the my kids, insufficiently bumpered by snow clothes and helmets, whiz around the ice amidst what seem to be three hundred gladiatorial twelve year-olds with lead shoulders, chugging elbows, and knives strapped to their feet. Unlike my mother, I would have liked it if they'd asked to play piano. Even if they mashed the keys and were tone-deaf. Music mangles more prettily than limbs, and is easier to fix or ignore.


That there? Fictional. You can tell by how it hasn't happened, because A) I have no kids, and B) if I did, they would be into way cooler things than skating. Puh. Like being godzilla. I have a feeling they would do nearly as much of that as possible. Also, rather than frizzy hair, it would be spiky and assertive. So no one's saying that's good fictional stuff -- although, be fair, that was just the intro, I cut off just before the part where Seaworld offers to trade 3 orcas and a bunch of sea lions for the kids -- but that is okay, because there are 29 more just like it coming in the next that many days. Ideally, they'll get longer and better, but I guess I'm starting with a stationary jog. Or a bit of a stretch.

What the hell is this blogger beta crap. Sonofzebitch, more stuff. That ze bitch has too many sons.

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