They say kick the editor out of the room. I tell my students that they can make friends with that editor, beckon it to sit down, offer it a cup of tea. As I write in the middle of the night, I have to remember that for myself.
Sunday, January 17, 2021
Rene is late. Rene is always late. Hustling down Ashby Avenue in search of a parking spot, he almost hits a woman and her little dog. They were walking against traffic, outside of the crosswalk. That’s his rationale as she screams at him, flips him the bird. Even the dog seems to take a vindictive shit once it hits the sidewalk. He turns onto College, can’t find anything until he’s almost at Alcatraz, meaning he’s a sweaty bastard by the time he walks into the café. This place is too much for him. Hippies, but what does he expect? Old hippies to boot, but what else do you find in this town? He feels his cell phone tingle. It’s his father. Pops is 85 and doesn’t feel a day over 100. The man makes bitching an art form. In other words, he should let it go to voicemail. Instead he picks up and talks too loudly in line. Old man’s talking about something he can’t even understand. State Farm something or other. Rene doesn’t give a crap. The guy used to bite his ass when he was a little kid. Seriously, bite the shit out of his bum. Rene never figured out why. Got to go, Dad. Got to go.
It’s not like he read most of the book. His attention span isn’t all that. But he needs people in this thirsty, consuming way. It takes up his airspace and his heart. Rene is 27 years old and lonely doesn’t begin to cut it. He’s lived in the same studio down on Deakin for as long as he can remember, or at least since he graduated from Cal State East Bay and moved up here for kicks. And a job. Both evaporated. He’s been looking around ever since like a dog abandoned on the side of the road, waiting.
Sylvie’s reaction to him is something out of a hybrid between a horror flick and a romance. In other words, she needs to pee now. The bathroom sucks, but she’s got no choice and it’s not like she’s so particular anyway. Hell, she can just squat over the bowl, doesn’t have to touch it. Travel in Asia for a while and you’ll figure that out. Tonight it’s not horrible though. The worst part is the walls, red like plasma. That’s what happens when red blood cells have burst, decomposed. The random knowledge you get from a Cal degree. She takes longer than she might, touches up the little makeup she wears. It’s an affect, really. Sylvie – whether or not she realizes it – doesn’t need the artificial sheen.
There are others too. They can remain nameless. They affect this story – the woman with a hopeful frown, the man who couldn’t quite contain his nervous belches, though he does try – but in the sense that the winter winds pattering against the windows influence what goes on inside one’s home. They are background, not the front story. They provide context, but don’t allow us to really get down to what matters.
Sylvie is still in pain. Pretty bad flareup. It had to happen now. She hasn’t left the house in two days. That’s a long time for her. Sylvie loves the outside world, needs it, craves it, even though sometimes she simply can’t handle what it has to offer. She needs that wind against windows, the background of the unknown and never-to-be-known, the unfamiliar, the normalcy of strangers. She can’t take the solitude of the everyday, the way the world wrings you out when it is only you who populates it.
What would Bethany do? She would speak to God, or to Buddha, or to the spirit of that dry and crumbly cookie, asking for the wherewithal to continue sitting here. She would reach out and pull from within, hands all over this astral plane. She wouldn’t take this earthbound bullshit. She would demand more and get it.
Friday, January 15, 2021
For some weird reason this song makes me think of the importance, the goddamned vitality, of art. I will never stop writing.
Giving all your clothes to charity
Last night the wife said
Oh boy when you're dead
You won't take nothing with you but your soul --
Twenty years ago today I flew home from a month in Europe. What a wild fucking ride that was. I traveled from Venice to Madrid, sleeping in 17 different cities along the way. I dragged my huge green backpack down train aisle after train aisle and across more cobblestones than I'll ever be able to count. I learned things. We learn what we want to learn and what we should learn. The latter was more important.