Thursday, June 30, 2005

shiny objects break moldy stride

The key is to walk into work and turn loud music on. Not so loud as to call attention to yourself, but loud enough to drown out the copier and mélange of voices passing and shifting electrons in the hallway outside your door which you leave open sometimes now because it gets rather warm in your office and, for Pete’s sake, the air is damn hot and moist lately. The key is copper new, and your hearing is more astute than yesterday.

This coffee looks good, said the lady in the pink tweed. She carried a brown paper bag. I assume it was lunch. But it could've been a gun or a vibrator. That’s the boon of the brown paper bag. If not lunch, then I’d bank on the latter for this woman.

I saw her as I was pulling into the parking lot, walking like a human being and not like a manufactured office zombie. Easy swing in each leg, face muscles long-time freed, bag swaying in and out of step. She looked like she knew work as only a small component of bigger life, like she knew there was fun to be had on the outside, and like maybe she’d had a good night last night.

Because I walk like I’m on speed, I parked and passed her on the way to the building. I clocked in and walked back to the café, and she came in behind me. I ordered a medium coffee.

Aside: I’d begun The Experiment in May. Small coffee instead of a medium coffee. I informed the café employees of the new regime. This week, however, is a medium week. Ask for no explanation. You’ll get none.

Then she ordered a medium coffee.

Aside: In the hospital café, you order the coffee at the register, you pay, the cashier hands you a cup, then you walk across the room to the coffee dispensers, sugars, creams, and various other condiments. This confuses a lot of people, who naturally go right to the source. Coffee first, money the fussy middle-man.

Because I carry two full bags and a cardigan in with me most days, plus keys which I leave out so I don’t have to dig while my hands are full and thus can more quickly escape into my office, I was still gathering my things at the counter while Tweed was paying, and we found ourselves together at the coffee counter. As I tore open packets of sugar, she side-glanced at me and said,

This coffee looks good—

Yeah, it does—I interjected. It did look particularly good this morning. And by look I mean call out like a desirous animal, Drink me—It’s necessary.

If you know what I mean, she finished.

I can’t hear that phrase without thinking sexual innuendo. Sure do, I said.

A moment of silence passed while we put lids on our cups.

Have a good day, she said, nodding.

Thanks, I said, in a stutter. So rare is it I hear such a thing in such swingin’ human tone in the office, I’m usually too stunned to respond reciprocally. You too.

Stay cool, she said. Gave a nod at my body. You look cool.

Immediately I wondered if I’d come to work naked. I get distracted easily by shiny objects, those of lore and those not.

Monday, June 27, 2005


Today is a smatter of thought and a heart heavy with world. This is what is going on, what is being refreshed and impressed, swilled:

Subway car-hopping: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) may begin throwing $75 fines to those who walk between subway cars. My opinion: it’s like the seatbelt law. The risk is not obscured from you; make your own decision. Making this sort of law and fining people who don’t abide is just bad parenting, bad religion. Don’t worship god/gods/otherwise because you’re scared of going to hell if you don’t. Do so because you choose to. Christ, have a brain, a spine, and some pudding. Act like responsibly fucking adults. (Noted, injury or fatality may cause unnecessary problem for the city and then some--existential frustration exemplified.)

Soon you may also be fined $50 for placing a foot on a seat or platform bench. Feed the cat, tip up and shoot back.

Federico Fellini: He says, I always direct the same film. I can't distinguish one from the other. Note to self: watch a second time 8 ½ and La Dolce Vita. This is vital, for I have just lost an eyelash. Afterward, see I Vitelloni.

New Hope, PA: a) There are many ways to get to New Hope. b) In New Hope ducks hang out on patios where people drink beer and slushy cocktails. Always one will be a woman. c) Angsty teenagers attracted to counterculture will pierce their sternums and wear pink skirts that stop just before the apples of their ass cheeks round off. At home, dressed like knights, they will cry. d) Same city, same yellow building, different configuration. e) A girl will select a restaurant and then walk past it ad infinitum until a breeze cools her sweaty left hand. f) All of the above.

Answer: f, on some psychic latitudes but not on others. Such is life. Blue globe, a fractaling calculus spiders the outside in. The parallels and perpendiculars can not at root be distinguished one from the other, no matter the color of paint.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

the soil the urn is in

There is a Kristin Hersh song in which she sings, This is beautiful. Hold my hand. I thought of this song when I walked outside earlier. The day is fearfully beautiful.

Fearfully so because something this beautiful fills me—in a flash—with sublime joy and then sadness. Something this beautiful simultaneously implies its opposite. The falling feeling, the fast crash, the pit. In the big picture I don’t fear the pit. I enjoy it like I enjoy menstrual cramps because the pain is groundingly real. Nevertheless, a fall is a fall. The sun is out and hot on my face, but not oppressively hot, and there is a cool wind fairytaling the air alive. Beauty manifest.

* * *

One day, during a particularly manic period of my life, I stepped out into a day like today. The sky was blue manifest, the trees green manifest. My whole body felt the color pure at its roots. I was in it. And then a cardinal—the brightest reddest cardinal I’d ever seen—swam past me and lit on the greenest tree backed by the bluest sky. Tears came into my eyes, and I felt fortunate allowed to be caught in that moment.

It went. A breath in, a breath out, gone. I went inside.

Back to the urn, again and again. Hold my hand. Sometimes hands are soil-heavy and sometimes that’s ok.

* * *

What brought me outside earlier today was the mailbox. Car payment, car insurance. Out of generosity, I also sent money to the New York City Department of Finance. Or: sometimes I like to park my car where I’m not supposed to past the time when I’m supposed to be there so that I have a clear excuse to contribute financially to a city I don't live in. Sometimes I like to go bowling on a sheet of ice so that I crash and shatter.

I was short one stamp, so I went to the gift shop. The cashier says do you want to stick the stamp directly on your envelope instead of trying to pull the one stamp off the paper because sometimes that’s difficult you know (she’s pulling the stamp off for me) Sure, I say (she continues pulling the stamp off) because I do that sometimes once when I was home I did that and (hands me the stamp)

She stops speaking.

I wait for her to finish her story about the one stamp.

She looks at me, not speaking.

Not even the subtle sound of sage rolls. Still-life: Loud, sad silence overlays knowingly vacuous chatter.

* * *

Let us telepathy rather than nothing at all. The one-stamp story the cashier used as a tool to get us through the act of exchanging money for stamp, and once I had the stamp, to her, the exchange in all respects was complete. To me, there was no hand, no cardinal, no blue or green, no eye or sun even in it. No completion, no meaning. Not even the formality of stand-in conversation was achieved. Just fossil, tool and air. Door-step microcosm.

Outside I tossed my three envelopes in the mailbox and contemplated not going back in. Why in life should a day this beautiful outside be passed in an office without windows?

The lovers on the urn turned to look at me. And laughed.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

caps on parade

A sperm has a tiny cap on its head called the acrosome, which acts as a kind of "warhead".

Today humid pavement lifts my feet to hovering. My burnished throne wants to find itself in a park where there is grass to sit in, overlooking life—my throne has personality, panache. Ashen gumption, though, on torpid days. Tarot card tells me Scientist or Magician each time. Pictures shift before my eyes settle. My eyes never settle.

Snow falls and mothers call, reminders of mutability when nurses seem to have become cardboard movie-ad figures. Real-looking enough but essentially dead. Mutability, there is hope. Figuring a quadratic equation is not as futile as it might seem; neither is seeking root causes in the garden with a tablespoon. Think long-run. Go.

The river’s tent is broken. Sun darts in. You have a nice helmet, but can you fight? Chain on your pith acrosome and fertilise some wasted ideas. Hurry up please it’s time.

At precisely the right time, [the acrosome] is supposed to burst open and release enzymes that allow the sperm to drill through the wall of the egg.

Hurry please ride in an upside-down hot air balloon it's time. Do not fear death by how robotic scientists will be manipulating our brains. Each in his prison, thinking of the key, each confirms a prison. The river sweats.

Genistein made the acrosome rupture much too soon, the research showed. If this were to would prevent fertilisation from taking place. The chemical, genistein, causes sperm to "burn out" before they have a chance to penetrate the wall of the egg....

Sperm detail extracted from here; furthermore, I have outrightly borrowed from Mr. Eliot's The Waste Land. I know this too well.

Friday, June 17, 2005

what's deserved: a father's day honorarium

Sunday is Father’s Day.

Recently, on our way to dine Ya-Ya-style, the fellas and I saw palm trees for sale along the highway. We live in Jersey, as in New Jersey, which some people call Dirty Jersey, the Garbage State. Having lived here for what is coming to be four years now I can attest that not all of Jersey deserves these pejorative nicknames. Nonetheless, the Jersey-palm tree connection is a poorly academic stretch into a questionable thesis.

An idea: we each should buy a palm tree "for our fathers." Since the fathers of one of the fellas and me live afar—you can probably imagine it isn’t easy to ship a palm tree—we’ll have to keep those palm trees. Solution: we place one at each end of our new badminton net, along with the new tiki torches (which we don’t yet have)—and, I’m all for some hermaphroditic hula dancers swinging their hips on the bleachers and lifeguard chair (which we don’t have yet either); we photograph the scene, umbrella-ed drinks in our hands, and send the evidence to our fathers with a note: Dad, you’re the freakin’ best!

My dad really is the best. He’s funny even when he doesn’t intend to be, but also when he does. He says "I reckon" and "Beens I’m hungry, I guess I’ll eat" and he keeps a tally of how much change he’s found while riding his new bike around in hotel parking lots. We share concern about the general drop in math skills because of the widespread use of calculators. We play foosball together (even though he kicks ass and I only think I kick ass). And he isn’t even my father by blood. What more could a daughter ask for?

The day I met my dad I was five years old. My mom had begun dating him and wanted us to meet. At the time, he worked at a gas station. We pulled up, he poked his head into the car, and she introduced us. He disappeared into the building for a minute, then came out not with one Dum-Dum lollipop but a whole box of them. Four years later he and my mom married, and he adopted me.

My dad deserves a palm tree (which might come in the shape of The Professional on DVD).

(p.s. Today has been absolutely nuts. I need me a beverage.)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

lynx in the desert

Zeus, I’m epically soporific today—Did you ravage me last night in my sleep?

No, that was Death (and what is not Death but rather simultaneity of spirit in wakescape and dreamscape).

Craggy rock furnace over which Sun climbs casts a spell.

A dead aunt lives always with her tan, short bob, and rasp, no matter the sudden stroke that de-materialized her less than a year ago.

In my dreams, you say? In my dreams, mofo.

And by that I mean in real. Potent dream, out of which tears wet my eyelashes in the dark bedroom, stretches into oxygen pockets. I am breathing in and out.

In your dreams? Remember the sex dream you had about your English professor and blushed when he passed you in the hall the next day? Dream sticks. Dream, unbreaking stream, links itself to waking. Lovers' beach-hands swinging over sand.

Once you’ve gone lysergic you can’t go back. You can’t be a virgin again. Nothing is not hallucinated. Nothing is hallucinated.

She is still alive, and both of her dogs. I dreamed them back in.

By dream death hangs in memory, undeathing itself. It’s wet. It lashes in the night into day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

empty cherry in the opera

The department bought pizza for everyone and called it Luncheon Thank You. Unfortunately, pizza and other heavy, greasy foods do not sit well with me in the middle of the day, and I was really hankering for some greens and veggies, beans. What my body needed.

Inquisition-like, two people had already asked me if I’d gotten some pizza. Moral responsibility, you know, even if it makes me ill. I knew if I came through the hallway with a plate of salad I was going to get the freak-blanket, so I escaped to the cafeteria for a quickie.

As usual, because I like to load my salads with stuff, two people hovered over and behind me in loud silence at the salad counter, and as I turned and said, Are you waiting for me? I dripped white salad dressing into the orange.

With three times the necessary plasticware in hand, I sat down. Nothing to read, just a blank table, too many people in scrubs and suits, and a soap opera playing across the room. Some configuration of purgatory. The air was warm and moist.

A table of female scrubs sat in front of me. One of them chronically tossed her eyes at mine.

One of my carrots was big and coated in dressing, cheese, and a raisin. I knew the fork wouldn't go in smoothly so I went for it with my thumb and middle finger—slip—it landed back in the green and the dressed cheese on my pants. I wiped a napkin at the oily spots, then picked up my fork—slip—out of my fingers and across the table, bouncing. What the hell was wrong with me.

Chronic Scrub had her eyes on me. I smiled because I imagined it was a comical sight. She stared blankly.

O god, I thought, She’s not human. Cardboard rather. How sad and drab for the living, the few.

Transmission from Mt. Olympus: today is not today, and 90% of the dolls have sticks in their eyes, walking same-paced down hallways. This is a travesty. This is a gross vectoring from the cherry's pit. Lost electrons, this is it.

She stared blankly. I stifled a laugh, barely, and sat there, distorted mouth full of fantasy and laughing.

Were my final hinge were loosed, I’d have acted on the scenes going on in my head right then. I’d have sat there biting at my arm, gnawing happily, dog-grin across my face, low growls. Then, while still in the act, I’d turn in slo-mo and look her in the blanks of her eyes to see if I’d filled them in any. With anything.

Laughter could no longer be stifled. I put on my own freak-blanket, purple like a cackling street lunatic. I eat what I want.

Monday, June 13, 2005

sunday afternoon

Something about the tantric 14 surfaced that did away with rules. Air thick, a monkey scaled the roof and entered through a chiasmatic knot of electrical circuits. A solution and a cool wind blew down their throats. Afterward, the kids followed hot air balloons low and big across the street. Red bulb, green bulb, blue bulb. They had sifted out from behind trees as if they’d always been there but not seen. Wild black cherries burst from bushes. Hormones rose and lit and rose again. Peeking into, nobody got sucked in—hot air—just were crisp and on cue. The tantric 14 stomped grapes lower half and meditated upper half. Balance in collective torso, another successful game of limbo. Bubbles drip within themselves. On the second day there is flight.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Clearly Sweat Garnets

This humidity defies bathing. Hair clings and the light is mango. Night. Wine stretches up to the cup’s top to lips, and the flash flashes.

Take another sip, Sara. I take another sip. Flash. There is talk of city and crush and catching the present.

My fingers slip up the knife and put it down. Flash. The corkscrew stands and opens, arms perpendiculared.

Flash. It looks like a person, I say.

They’re black and white. She plays with the camera’s buttons. Everyone looks good in black and white.

A shiny pink roll of paper appears in my hand. Your present from Spain, she says.

Garnet flowers.

It’s garnet, she says. Like your hair.

And like my pants, bag, and wallet. The tikka masala, half-toned. The spice and thereafter. Cider half-full, like the scooped-out mango. Warm.

At home I build a fan with sweat and massage. Oscillating. The phone rings and I agree to be a beneficiary to the man upstairs. Then sleep humidly.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Indefinite Doors Tickle Some Keys

Last week the good doctor and I were discussing grammar, the use of articles in particular. He said that as a non-native English speaker, articles are his weak spot. I had thought articles were pretty straightforward: the indefinite for non-specific, the definite for specific. Tutoring ESL students, however, I had difficulty explaining when to use what as the instances and distinctions multiplied.

Defining has always troubled me. Ask me what a word means, and instead of a definition, I’ll give you several stories in which I’ve used the word, somebody else has used the word, when I first discovered the word, the origin of its formation and subsequent history if I know it, what color it is in my head, and how it makes me feel. It will be up to you to synthesize.

Or: once I told my mom there was something wrong with the air conditioner in my car.

She said, What’s wrong with it?
I told her, When I turn it to the first setting, it works just the same as when I have it off, but the second setting works as it always has.
So the first setting is broken, she said.
Right, I said.

(You might here envision Steve Martin in The Jerk describing in autistic detail what each previous day with his blonde love seemed like to him. This day was like a week, and the next day was like three days because…)

I told the good doctor I would find some article rules for him. From my first find, this one interests me: "the" is used if the speaker and the listener are thinking of the same person or thing.

This one requires some degree of telepathy in order to choose which article is appropriate. Some people are keen communicators, and some are not. How do you know? Frequently it happens where someone may be speaking of one door, but I am thinking of another, either because I am closest to it, I just used it, or my mind has wandered over to one in some town I visited when I was five years old. Tongue-tie syndrome awaits the speaker who considers the potential for such. Sometimes I am in sync with you; sometimes I am not, and vice versa. Which article to use. But worse, world wars could start because some slip in consciousness causes someone to use the wrong article.

The president stands at the podium and refers to the leader of the imps but instead meant a leader of the imps, and so the world phalanx disperses to attack the one that each assumed to be the leader in reference. In the end, all imp leaders are dead because one rule of grammar depended on a telepathy the world didn't share.

Q: Do you play the piano?
A: Yes, I play the piano.

Imagine all the pianos that could go unplayed by a potentially musical genius who answers as above, thinking all his life, because of grammatical confusion, that he had learned to play just the one piano. He's deathly allergic to the outdoors, and chances are that one piano will one day be dumped out the window of an unruly apartment ten stories up.

Do world leaders experience frequent and inconvenient slips of consciousness, too? I, as world leader, throw a brave fist in the air and shout, "The way we will achieve world peace is…(my thumbnail dammit needs clipping, my thigh itches, what labor did Hercules do first?, my brother’s birthday is next week)…as you leave, please use the door I came in." In which case you will be frisked and extinguished; the other door is risk-free. Everybody hangs.


This is my attempt. A highlighter rolls to the ground and stops. I would like to buy a dress, not with flowers but which fits my hips. Late light sky, delusion and cardboard boxes scatter. I have been hallucinating for days. Cranberries bleed the walls dark. Temperate fever wavers in out. One ghost comprised of five personalities sings to me. And a flute. A Japanese figurehead. Mouth taut as an O timbres out vibration in the groins. In the outer orbit, voices begin every sentence: I said blubber blubber I said blabber blabber I said puberty puberty. In other words, nothing. Have you done something stupid? There is not a fan at the end of the hallway, but there should be. A mother listens to this irrationale. Tears roll down the receiver. Grammar sometimes truncates for good purpose. There is nowhere to park is emblematic of the busy globe. Unforeign foreigners learn the same language, bleached. Other people wear dresses that belong to their bodies. This is my attempt to deflate a raging abdomen.

Monday, June 06, 2005


Perpendicular lines of traffic came to perch at changing lights. There was a slowing down, a mock-stop, before she would turn right on red. A loud goose came honking from behind. She moved her eyes to the rearview mirror. A white Mercedes SUV, an abrasive woman-face—minor she-devil—tipped back to catch water from a bottle tilted upward. The She hardened her eyes into the devil in the rearview. Flipped up her forearm, all fingers down but the middle one, erect between the seats for a clear view from behind. Knee-jerk. The She never gestures this gesture. Never. Caused by some foul force from beyond. She-devil bats out an angry city-hand that says, What the fuck? The She responds with the same—but in mockery. Inane non-verbals. Says, Fuck off to the rearview.

Muscles relax and The She laughs an open-mouthed laugh at the ignorance that knots the she-devil, at the butterfly effect the she-devil could have struck into action with one measled lay of the hand, one insensitive fingering. Decidedly, the she-devil could never play the flute or please a body part by part. Imprecision. Careless acting. Ungrand grand canyon. With the lay of a laugh and a re-casting of eyes, The She stopped the motion in its Mercedes casing, put hostility fast in a bunching ripple back to its source. She-devil, the great wide with her boomeranged anger, hunkers back half in her basement, half in her attic, caught sisyphean in parallel with herself.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Three days around the hips and back

Last night I watched hippies spin hula hoops around their bodies in a park while I ate a slice of pizza and talked to my mom on the phone. A girl stopped to compliment me on my socks. There was a can of Comet on the bathroom sink instead of soap. I did not use it.

Last Sunday at a record store I found a Slowdive import, a two-disc anthology. Slowdive goes deep in me. Here is how it works:

Part A: Kristin Hersh and her various personalities (solo, Throwing Muses, 50 Foot Wave) are tautly anchored in my psyche so that when my brain scatters in periodic hysteria, lines from her songs surface spontaneously and uncontrollably in me like Tourette’s ticks. When I am unstable her rhythms and tenors hammock me, wagon me. They may not heal me but at least they help me not to plummet irretrievably. (Nevertheless, I still say "Hats off!" to occasional necessary plummeting.) I don’t feel I can dissociate from the songs. I have no idea what other people hear in them. When I pinch my arm the final repeating guitar in "Bea" plays. Pinch harder, louder.

Part B: Slowdive represents a similar but more distant element in my psyche, just as vital. I knew the music before I heard it, but it is not kin in my psyche. It is otherworldly familiar.

I first read about Slowdive twelve years ago when I was in high school, in a xerox-made ’zine. Living midst cornfields I couldn't just go out and buy the album, their second, Souvlaki. I had to search. At last I found it, played it, and thought: this is what I’ve wanted music to sound like. It was. It was lush and vast in spirit. It put me in places without walls, awash in full multi-dimensional color. It played through me. Warm full-body arousal through the ears. I then bought the first album, Just for a Day. Eventually I heard the third album, Pygmalion, as pristine as pristine can be.

I do not own this album. The CD was available only expensively as an import, and back then I was tight with money, allowing dirty green paper in the abstract to impinge on my general happiness. Dumb girl. Finally when I decided to buy it, it was nowhere to be found. Lesson learned: do not deny material pleasures when what hinders such are mere materials in the converse, nebulous devils. This two-disc treasure I found last Sunday contains some of the songs from Pygmalion. It's been repeating in me all day, psyche nicely awash on the office walls.

Part B/C: Slowdive, Italy. When I went to Rome, I felt more right in a place than I’d ever felt. I knew little Italian and only patchworked histories of its ancientry, but I felt comfortable and home. Florence was the place I’d fantasized about but didn’t realize could exist. Stone paths, cathedrals, museums, Christian crumbles clumped on top of pagan crumbles, wine down the rows, flame-throwers, pretty guitars, scent of sauce. The stone paths! I didn’t know where I was or where I was going, but I didn’t feel lost. I didn’t feel like I could become lost. I could not be thrown. Something known before the fact. This is what Slowdive sounded like to me, only after the fact. Italy came later, but linearality is just convenience, a gauge, like a clock.

Part A/B/C: 50 Foot Wave + Slowdive + Italy cause the girl to slow down and wake up watching and watchless, to hip-swing and cast her hula hoop up and out of the park.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Pot Overflowing, Silver Lining

Turn the music up, turn up the music. Calm slowdiving music, raucous music, whatever it takes to drown foul fish. It’s the final resolve here in this gritty sterile box, the office in the hospital full of complaint and drivel. They complain and complain outside my office. The parking dilemma, the phones. It sucks ok; move on. Semi-colon warranted in a dim flashlight.

In the morning I muscle the effort to be social. I open my door. By afternoon I’m driven shut, thick pencils crammed into my ears, post-its over my eyes to block out potential infection. God bless the maintenance man who sings all day for the same purpose. I’m going to steal coffee, I heard one say. Do you know the price of a stolen post-it? I thought. Nihil, nihil. Don’t even talk about it.

Allergens pollute the carpet and ceiling tiles. A proven fact. Incident reports fill a whole cabinet—headaches. Paperwork is the stone-tablet word, you know. Biblical. Of course, I’m told proven facts all will one day be proven differently. A proven fact. Last week I was Wayne Coyne. Today I am Stephin Merritt deep in voice and wit. Thank god. Let’s pretend we’re bunny rabbits. It’s useless to struggle in a cave.

Or, I’m damn busy, gothically archied. This is my attempt at flight. Along with spring flowers, personal, social, and work bulbs have risen abundantly. Expansive field of stimulating poppies (not the narcotic kind of document or lore). Again today the good doctor gave me the greatest compliment. He said, What would I do without you?