Take Another Look











{September 24, 2009}   Revulsion

The phone rings. First it is my mom. You know how most parents, they try to protect you from the world? Well my mom tries to protect my dad from the possible damage my sister and me might inflict. “That’s daddy’s chair, don’t you dare sit there.”

“Get the fuck out of the way,” she’d say when I was only three. “Daddy might trip.”

“You piece of shit,” she’s swear when I was four.

I went through this phase where I had seizures where I thought I saw the devil eating me, killing me, torturing me. Later it was nightmares and I always got kidnapped, and I often wet the bed, and at eight I often was so filled with confusion and embarrassed I would try to knock my fists and my head against the wall so that I made enough noise to scare the darkness away.

I’d look at my dad with a hurt expression on my face, but he couldn’t see. So I was like stone. Always. My mom just liked to taunt and hurt me with my feelings, so I had to turn them against everything around me. The only thing I had going for me was the piano. And even then.

“Do you have to pound it so angrily? What is wrong with you, Nicole, why are you so angry? There are rules you know,” they would gang up on me when I was 16.

And now. They call me relentlessly, even though I’m supposed to be an adult.

First my mom calls. She who almost never calls, since she doesn’t give a damn. The only topic she ever calls about is my father. “Dad is stressed out and it is all your fault. You need to straighten this thing out with your insurance agency, I received this thing in the mail about it, and it says that they denied it, you need to find out why they denied it, and don’t ask dad about it because he does too much.”

I thought I’d already resolved that issue earlier in the morning, but apparently not. She is the voice of reason, and I am logically impaired. When I am done wrestling with her, my dad calls.

“You don’t have your priorities straight,” my dad says in a high, wheedling voice, like he is begging. His sappy neediness makes me want to vomit.

“You said you’d do this, and I don’t think it’s straightened out yet. You said you’d do this, and yet I don’t think you did it. You said you’d return your library books yesterday, but it’s today. Where are you right now?”

He is relentless. He won’t stop. But he likes it if I tell him whatever he wants to hear.
Maybe that’s why he and my mom married.

“What is it? I can try and help you. Anger? Depression? What is it?”

I just want to get off the phone, as usual. Anytime I tell my parents anything they use it as a weapon against me. It’s been this way for so long I can’t count. So it got to the point where I made my friends my family. Only they sort of spread out, like birds in a flock going different directions. I said it was a guy that burnt a hole through my heart, but really I think it was watching all my beautiful friends spread their wings while I sat and kicked at the ground.

They are two children begging me to pretend I have everything together. That I am fine, all the time, like I tell them, because to have any other feeling other than “fine” would be an injustice. It might be unfair to them. They want to remain as insulated from the corruptions of the world. I might taint them with my experiences. They want to know as little about what I’m really passionate about as possible. It might scar them.

They always have made me feel only one thing. The desire to get away. I don’t always know what to do with this feeling, I just know it creates all sorts of conflicts inside. And that these conflicts manifest in all sorts of ways around me until I feel like I am a danger to anybody around me, and that to be loved, I must sacrifice everything, because I had to sacrifice who I was to get them to love me. Why would it be different anywhere else?



{September 20, 2009}   Rebellious Boy ends up with AIDS

“I have so much to tell you, the problem isn’t that I’m running out of time, I’m running out of room, this book is filling up, there couldn’t be enough pages, I looked around the apartment this morning for one last time and there was writing everywhere, filling the walls and mirrors, I’d rolled up the rugs so I could write on the floors, I’d written on the windows and around the bottles of wine we were given but never drank, I wear only short sleeves, even when it is cold, because my arms are books too. But there’s too much to express. I’m sorry.”

-Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

It’s kinda creepy waking up somewhere other than where you went to sleep. When I am out looking for a place to stay, I think about how far I’ve come, but the need to keep going never leaves, so when I get stuck staying someplace, the first thing I want to do in the morning is bolt. My hostesses tend to be busy sleeping in until the sun has indented their face with crisscrossing burns done by people passing the window, creating alternate shadows. The methheads that stay up all night create some trouble for me when they forget who I am or why I stay. They like to interrogate me in the mornings, which is when I am most ready to do anything to get out of there for no matter where I am I have to fight the urge to cut and run. It’s been ingrained in me. I’ve forgotten how to look back and I no longer know how to remember what my past was, except that it is a whiz of impressive images and people. Sometimes I stay awake wondering if the number of people who were cruel match the number of people I’ve met who meant well, but the worst thing about it is that the people who meant well really didn’t know the least bit about help. They take my departures personally, too, and I can’t have that. So if I have to pick, I’ll go with the cruel person just so that somebody else can get the good-intentioned one. I can handle it, and I might as well handle it, maybe I deserve it, because I have locks all over my body especially where my eyes are, they might as well just be slits that taunt those who try to steal my belongings in the night. So many different kinds of belongings just as there are so many shades to betrayal, and so many shades of betrayal, and so many kinds of gray I stopped counting, which is why I can barely function, why I have to keep running. But I promised my father I would never stop counting. He’s probably still standing at the loading dock, waving and waving since he doesn’t know I actually left. I don’t know what my dad looks like crying, I bet if I tried hard enough I’d remember. I bet I don’t want to remember. I was so confused I didn’t understand that leaving a place had to do with leaving people, too. Found my home life confusing so I may have villianised both parents just as a safeguard to prevent me from staying. But I think that explanation is cockney. While I can believe my subconscious was that smart when I was that young, I can’t believe my subconscious survived. Right when I left my dreams were about the young man i couldn’t get out of my head, and in one dream I was standing there with a gun in a tree, tears falling off my face, about to pull the trigger as the man’s mother spoke to me. Back in real life, not my night life, after the guy used and discarded me like a piece of meat (virginity is clinical, he told me later, I was doing you a favor, he told me later) I had dreams I was walking up a hill, leaves were falling, everybody was infected with AIDS, I shivered. I woke up, was the dream an attestation to what I’d been through, a prophecy, a warning, or just my mind working through the trauma of being used because I thought that it couldn’t happen to me because I’d thought I was invincible? Now I move around so recklessly or probably just so hampered that I can’t remember the gist of my dreams when I wake up. Maybe if I tried to remember, but that seems like effort, the one thing I find myself not exerting anymore. I can remember having those dreams, which is key, but that part of my mind that used to fight so hard to recall and restore is out of luck and needs repairs, just like machines we too need to be fixed sometimes, it could be something really simple like needing an upgrade, or it could be a problem nobody knows how to fix. The worst is feeling like a machine that just whips uselessly in the wind. It’s atrocious to talk about ones own mind that way but why not, we talk about everything else without regard for what we are talking about. We talk about computers and we sometimes attribute them with qualities they don’t have, just as we sometimes take perfectly complex people and reduce them to cogs in a machine that may or may not be fixed. We may become attached to a soda machine and think that it is gentle. I once knew a guy who became obsessed about a jukebox. It was his muse and he wrote amazing poetry until they took the jukebox away, and it was horrible to watch him losing the one thing that had inspired him. It drained him of all life, and now he is like a guitar that can only strum the same few notes. His communication mostly stays in the same place as he jumbles when he talks, because I imagine the words getting gummy in his mouth and not coming out right, since when he talks about what he believes, the conspiracies about the bugs planted by the CIA and how the water in the city is poisoned to make us stupid so we vote for the president, I nod solemnly, for anything is possible, and nobody should ever forget that, and yet we do, over and over again I have to remind people.

“During the day I can’t start anywhere, and I don’t know where to begin,” November says to me. I stare at her for signs but I can’t find any that match what I understand about her. She is so much a mystery to me, and yet I should understand. In a way I am intimidated by her. But she is my past. I always feel like my past is better than me. That’s something November probably knows but wouldn’t admit to knowing right now.

She talks as if she is unaware that she is talking. The likelihood that she will remember me is very low. But if I could make an impression onto her, I sense that it would be forever burned into her irises.

“I have a story to find, but within the story, there are so many other stories that the mere magnitude encompasses me. Forget words. Forget grammar. Forget every great line ever heard. It’s a matter of stripping down to the bone. No, I can’t do that. I can’t do that because every time I do, I am never good enough. The person writing the story can’t figure out what time to write in, because there is too much going on. Sometimes a world just needs to slow down, but the people in it can’t tell if it’s the world or them that is moving so fast. Finally, the society forgets itself by collapsing. Someone, somewhere, is trying to find the words to explain. But these words have to be sufficient for everyone. They cannot just be words that make sense to one or two people. The whole world has to understand. And every once and a while you meet a person, for whom, no explanation will make sense. And that person can be a very dangerous person. Goodnight,” November says, and speedily blurs into the crowd as if the conversation between us had never happened.

I sign onto my yahoo account. Reality is stripping down. I don’t understand. I find an email from the past. At least, what I think is the past. I insisted on such high voltages of stimulation. Maybe it was like somebody attaching electrodes to my head. Didn’t I ever stop to wonder if too much stimulation could be a bad thing? That sometimes I needed to sit down and absorb the same piece of information ten times? I used to do that. All the time. Now it’s just facility and speed.

I see the AOL account I had when I was 14, but that lasted until I was 19, and still exists excepts remains unchecked. It’s an IM between me and my friend Brendon, who is still on my best friend list now.

moondancey: maybe im just a no sense person never going to be understood maybe i’ll amount to nothing which is fine i dont know who i am im lost to the vacant sky of today which is consuming me like a dark butterfly chasing me why today me?

Annoyme: it’s a good question

moondancey: instead i long to be captive to some other world where people dont hurt each other and i hear about it and cant react because what reaction is necessary when they are ready to do what they can to manipulate me but i dont know about it it’s all behind my back because i am already gone i can feel that how it must feel when im gone why cant they then they must feel nothing is all i can think about when the words amount to nothing anymore the way i wasnt before different now no more.

I find casual fragments that surprise me. Nonchalant but decisive fragments, like I am making a decision that I will stick to for the rest of my life. At some point in my life, I wasn’t as changeable as I am now.

i decided i cant ever kill myself too many people have done it

is wanting to live a shallow or deep desire? maybe all i feel is desire all i want people to feel in my playing is desire or something maybe i should give up music maybe i should work harder to be perfect a fucking machine or something maybe nothing is right maybe i should stop talking one might think i was drunk at this point to be writing this

i don’t know if i like this century, but what choice is there?

silly thought- i am silly

I remember when I didn’t question how much people loved me. I believed in my friends love like it was gravity. Except my parents. I only questioned my parents love.

I used to remember all the good things, and remembering the good things kept me safe, but now I don’t feel so secure, going from house to house to apartment to apartment, and when I can’t get a hold of him, I feel like I am losing myself, and I count how may ways life is keeping us apart, and I think it doesn’t matter, but it does, because I think I act out in strange ways that don’t help at all. But how do I know how to help, my whole life has just been to Go, Go, and Go, and I never learned how to pack or how to prepare myself for leaving. They taught me to fight, or to scamper away like a mouse. Forsaken, I feel useless not knowing anything but what I was programmed to do, which is get away from what is chasing me, which may be my attempt to rise above this and make something of my situation. But then I am misfiring any time I stumble around not making the best of my day, of my time, which is easy to do.

I feel so ashamed because he works all night at factory where they build airplanes. And he stopped going to work, and began to follow me at night, when I began to prowl. When I woke up in the mornings, I would find him peering over me. I would scream, and kick, and tell him to leave me alone, that I would call the police. Each time, he took the time to pick me up, even as methdealers surrounded him. I buried my face in his clothing, and I heard him tell me he would leave me behind if I kept kicking and screaming him, but he didn’t leave me behind, and I didn’t stop kicking or screaming him. He was saying “shhh.” He clasped me as if I was a dead bird that needed to be resurrected, and he kept whispering the same thing over and over again, which became comforting, even if I kept trying to bite him all the same.

He accompanied me from place to place, until I felt like each place was like every other.
Then he had to go back to his factory, or he would lose his home. So run, I asked of him. I didn’t understand, because to me a place is any other place. I think he expects more of me, which confuses me. There was a period where I spent every waking moment being as efficient as possible. I worked and I worked at the same place in the same mind frame. Now my mind is always someplace else, and to get it back, I might have to go back to all the places I left parts of myself at, like the meth dealers house, and I don’t know how to do that. Pieces of me are littered all over this city, and how will I know what is me and what is junk? All I know is that love was supposed to save me but I counted on it too much and now I must be betraying them by not being my best every day, by not trying harder, by not making more money, by not doing what I was ready to do when I was done with school. I had all this inertia from leaving work because they put all this pressure on you, and you think that the moment you have any time to yourself, you will become your own slave master, and work at what you want to work at, but weeks passed and the pressure became less and less until I uncovered the horrible allure of hanging in limbo, not going anywhere but not leaving. There isn’t really any allure to it, but I use that word because I see others drawn to it, too, and I feel like we are all disappointed in each other, but at least here we can look one another in the eyes and say, I am not doing my best, in fact, I am so far I have forgotten what my best could be. I’ve wondered for years now if my best left me behind a long time ago.

I’d like to say that knowing he is there keeps me sane. Maybe it does. But because I’ve never known this feeling before, and because I don’t know if he has or hasn’t experienced this before, it makes a difference to me. It’s as if he could have betrayed me before he met me, and how is that possible? You can’t even hold the present against somebody you care about much less the past. Instead of it keeping me sane, my need for him makes me feel like I am out of control, like I am the only one out of control, because he appears in control, doesn’t he, he does. Knowing he could stop feeling what he feels for me, which I don’t know, those things cannot be calibrated or counted or seen or understood, drives me to blame emotion itself, for it can change on a dime. Maybe there is a way to turn my emotions off and on. All I know is that it is overwhelming, what happens, because he makes me feel and think at the same time, and nobody else is allowed to do this.

I don’t know what affect I have on him, because I don’t know how to ask in the right way. And sometimes in my insecurity I mistake not knowing for being alone. Because if I care for him I have to learn to give things space, things I don’t want to give space to, because I need to run, and run, and run, whether it is towards something or away from something, but instead he tries to get me to sit on a boat, and paddle slowly, and in it’s moderation, I can’t help but ask him all these questions, like what if we drown, or what if there is a storm, or are we really going somewhere or are you just pretending we are going somewhere? Do you want to go somewhere? Maybe there are sharks in the water. I have so many questions I want to ask him that never get asked when I want to ask them. I store them away for a later date but then that freaks me out, because the future is near but not certain. I have so many conversations I want to have but there is no time, because I wasted it running. There is no right time now for the conversations. Moreover, there is not enough space for the type of conversations, and so I feel a sense of loss where I should be feeling a sense of excitement, because I need to have faith that in the future there will be time, but maybe not space, that these things are always shifting, that nothing about this will feel concrete, at least not all at once. But what if not everything is the way I want. Since I used to run, I used to be uncompromising, and I don’t know how to be here, except what I am, which I don’t really know about. Sometimes I feel like I am standing over a cliff yelling and I don’t hear my own echo, and that is what scares me, is that I feel like he didn’t answer me back. But I don’t give it much time before walking away from the cliff because I think everything is as immediate as echoes, so because I feel like I have no time, that time is nonessential anyway, I throw my words away. I wish we had a chance to talk about it, I wish we did, but we have said so many things without words, and sometimes it’s so funny, I actually want to take back certain words and put other ones in their place. Or maybe I would say less.

Do away with the words, and bring on the cure, but in this case it is worth caring but the reality is not easy because I find myself experiencing slight tremors as in an earthquake, and I wonder if what I saw, which was so incredible it was blinding, is still there. Since time takes away the chance to know, I have to rely largely on hope, which has let me down in the past, but I cannot put too much stock in that, for surely it will let me down again, but that is okay. I need to make it okay.

I need to make it okay this is the most important thing there is. But I want and I want and I wish they’d see what I want because it is so beautiful in there if they saw but they turn away at the last minute or maybe it was before the last minute so maybe the want is not what they want, maybe too much want is too much but it wasn’t before so maybe it won’t be later even if it was for while, I need to know what they want too, but I don’t know if they want this, what do they want, do we want the same thing, shouldn’t I know this. Maybe it is not so important, as long as I know they care and I care. If only I could know we care the same amount, but that is like saying people should care about each other in the same way, in the same method, and that is not possible. For example people have so many different ways of showing they care, how can I expect anything to be similar at all. What word I am looking for is reciprocation, which is a huge thing, which is what I keep mouthing silently, looking for clues that it is okay. It is okay. I think it is okay. It’s okay if I can never know how he knew how to do what he did because I thought nobody could know what I wanted except he somehow found it until I finally knew what real tranquility felt like, even if it was only for one moment, one moment is like a lifetime, and in that moment I did not feel tied to desire, or need, or hunger.

This time finding my sensibilities isn’t through chemicals but through work. If I concentrate for long enough than I will have made myself a better person and I will have lost myself in my work and then I will have something to show for myself. But I don’t always like it because sometimes I want it all to go away for a second, because sometimes two people can be in such different places in their life that the places can’t touch, but maybe if they stretch they can still have encrypted conversations with each other. I know that there have been ways that a simple squeeze on my arm said more than a month of all my words said, and before he did that I would have said it was impossible, so maybe I am learning no matter how much dust I kick up in the process, time is driving me forward no matter how much I try to hold myself back. Is it fear? I don’t think it is fear so much as a “I made so many mistakes that I must erase everything I’ve ever done in order to do this right” which doesn’t really sound right. I am probably destroying too much, and while I firmly believe destruction and creation go hand in hand, you can forget how to create if you keep researching your subject until you’ve forgotten what drew you away from your sick life, what made you want to capture it in a book or in a photograph.



{September 13, 2009}   Don’t You Panic Now

Don’t You Panic

We’re fighting. We fought. The words don’t taste so good down in my throat. I think I might want to spit them back out again. A screech of a tire. A window breaking. Isn’t that enough? Somewhere somebody in a white hospital is fighting for their life. The word is beginning to sound a little better, it’s giving me some ground. Who gets mad because somebody is too apologetic, too meek? I didn’t. But it sounds good if you say that I did, right? That’s looking at the world with one set of blind-folders on.

I got a cold feeling inside, like a frozen tire. He told me I was making him feel like a cocker spaniel. So I swallowed, a little swallow, and I felt hollow inside. I had to do the right thing.

“Nobody should be made to feel like that,” I said. I hung up. I was gone. No more relationship or bogus love. It was him that went on about love, anyway, not me. No more whatever he said it was.

A different day, if he had told me I made him feel like he was a cocker spaniel, I would have cracked up. It would have been the wrong response, but maybe it would have been better than this. My seriousness. It’s like a cancer he doesn’t know how to look at.

He keeps calling back. But I won’t pick up. I don’t like his apologies. He is always saying “I don’t want to make you mad so I won’t tell you this” or “I don’t want to make you mad but you said you want the truth so..” He’s always making it about what I said I wanted and adapting it to the next day. And when I’m quiet about what I want? It throws his world upside down. He wants, oh so bad, to make me feel good. I don’t always feel good, it’s not natural. I’ve gotten over that, so why can’t he? I was stressed this morning, a lot on my plate that I had to say and I felt like I was going to a trial. So he was angry with me for having a life that I must engage with. His is so bare, he leaves it behind all the time without thinking. He has no idea what it must feel like to be so connected you can’t look back. So he can connect to me and my world feeling lighter than a feather. The only thing he holds on to is me. But he isn’t prepared to see what I see. Nobody could be.

I got annoyed with him. But he couldn’t get anything right. I said ten-thirty, and he doesn’t show up.

“Well, truthfully I didn’t know what kind of mood you’de be in, and gauging from this morning, I know I told you I had to go to this appointment I’d forgotten, but I also wanted to get away…”

Then go. You now see I would have been happy to see you, but it’s too late. I’m in a bad mood again, so I better hang up the phone. Only the bright side to you. Nice end. No end.

He doesn’t like my “truth at all costs.” He doesn’t like my arrogance. “Well, somebody needs to act without thinking,” I say. I ask him what I said. He doesn’t know. His three favorite words.

I finally call him on my terms. Everything is always on my terms. I told him this the second day, when he was falling hard for me. But did he listen? No. Anyway, the phone didn’t pick up. He can get a hold of me, but I can hardly ever get a hold of him. He shares a phone with a huge apartment full of drug-using hillbilly beatniks downtown with security that makes me wait outside the door, away from the comfy lobby on a windy day until he gets downstairs. Somebody has to pick up the phone, and then travel to the fifth floor to see if he is there. As a result, everybody ignores the phone because they know it’s not going to be for them. Sometimes somebody offers to give him my message and I’m relieved. Mostly, they don’t.



{September 9, 2009}   Night Terrors

Cameron’s trying to quit benzos, but she doesn’t know who she’s really trying to do it for. It helps her, doesn’t it? But she’s run out except for nine pills, which might as much be none if she can’t take them all at once. She can’t go back to the doctor for more.

She wakes up screaming. Again. She fell asleep around six am and woke at seven. It was only an hour but she thought it was ten. Her eyes were beady and black, her pupils taking up the entire space where the color should go.

Her doctor urged her to quit. Told her that her “psyche was being squelched by the drugs.” He said something about the drug taking away level four sleep. He said that it was like curing snoring by waking somebody up every time they start to snore: they’d start to go crazy from the lack of sleep. The drug was painting over her psyche. He told her it was common for people with abuse in their past to have night terrors.
“That’s what the clonazepam is doing with you, preventing your psyche from rebuilding itself.” Dr. Rayborn said.

The terrors weren’t in her file. She hadn’t told him that they had started when she was seven and that as a teenager she used to wake up screaming. One time she woke up with her face wet. Another time she woke up her roommate, who said that the scream scared the living shit out of him. He said it sounded like another person from another place.  “A death rattle,” he’d called it. Before that, her roommates mostly mentioned her talking as she slept. But all that changed when she started using downers. Anything to anesthetize herself. Then she could rest. But the real rest never came, only the illusion of rest. That’s what the doctor was telling her. Because she wanted to escape the night terrors, they were now going to find her with an intensity she’d forgotten was possible. They’d demonize her, tie her down, make sure she worked through whatever waking issues were following her around so she stopped falling apart during waking time. And then she wanted to be able to have a good night sleep when there was noise around so in between periods of going sober, she would take a whole bunch when she found herself with the person she wanted to be with, taking preventative measures so that she wouldn’t wake up. Even then, it could be a fight to sleep.

She went from twenty pills to one pill in one day and now the terrors she had last night were a bit much, but hey, do it all, do it all at once since the taper plan had failed her this time. She had tapered off before, almost painlessly, but now was too late to stack up a taper supply. Unlike previous terrors, however, she remembers a different kind of darkness in these dreams. She is not being chased; she is not accidentally causing fires, then dying. She is not  living in her own puke and cobwebs while bound in a hole in the earth, Bach playing in the background as she tries to climb out of a the hole of puke while somebody continues to throw dirt down the hole as she tries to climb. This time she remembers a tiger; she remembers a serial killer. It really doesn’t help that she remembers thinking “I really should remember this,” and went over the terror in her head before falling back to bed, even going so far as to take a pencil and paper to the bed and then accidentally falling back asleep. She was going to write it down but she fell back asleep. The second time she fell asleep it was a different night terror. She remembers being quarantined and needing to get out. She remembers the birds stuck in there. Those awful canaries. A fenced in back yard, and protocol said she couldn’t leave nobody could leave, but unlike her friend in the overcrowded quarantined room, she couldn’t even find a bunker. She was out in the open.



{September 7, 2009}   fuck’d

Her mirror showed hazed eyes that couldn’t seem to hold their own. A dazed non-confrontational trance that could not be shaken. The handler wasn’t coming through today. Why did she think she was, trusting those jerk offs with her daily sanity? People were so flippant about these situations. Watched it too much on some “reality TV” show. Or maybe they sat there forgetting to take the needle out of their arm thinking about how cool Punk’d is. Punk’d is a waste of space, and so is anybody who watches it, especially if they are over 14. Ashton goes all the way to Atlanta to put ding dongs in front of a restaurant and ring a bell. Wow, his mother must be feeling pretty proud right now. What a contribution he is making to all those teenage followers out there that now are so excited about their boring leader. Just make sure you mention it in school, the crowd think, or people will think I don’t fit in. Which they don’t. Gawky, acne, half-adult half children walking around with the only thing on their mind being “please let me be invisible.”

She stumbled down the stairwells and tried to swallow something to get the bad feeling that had been building out of her system. Just ignoring it wasn’t enough. Just relaxing and getting lost in what she liked doing wasn’t enough. She had to be shallow one moment and deep another and it was getting tiresome. All the spinning of gears wasn’t attracting the right sort of attention. Instead people were poking and pointing at one another, staring at the car, wondering why the car was spinning and digging its wheels into the mud.

Where was she supposed to be? Just be there. It’s not so simple, she would say, but she doesn’t have it in her to speak. Now is when all the visual aids would pop in: she begins to meld into another image and some commentary is made by the image, except if you asked whoever was watching their only response would be was “it was cool?” Nobody would know what it was they actually saw.

You can’t really waste time. Can you?



{September 6, 2009}   Description

“Anything But Normal”

A man chanting native american speech “yo ho yo ho” was lying on the couch, his legs sprawled out there as if he belonged there. As if he was a part of the lightning fixture set in concrete. There remains a cloud over the room, as if something had gone terribly wrong and nobody had looked up at the ceiling since. The floor was scrubbed over and over again with pine sol or more advanced brands of cleaners, as the owner was lucky to be dealing with a hardwood floor and not a rug. A rug attracts fuzz, stains, and cigarette burns. You can’t erase the memory from a rug. You can’t really erase the memory from a floor, either, but if a stranger walks in they can’t see the memory unless they have luminol and a whole bunch of other investigative tools that detect any forensic evidence in play.

Perhaps scientists probing these floors would be able to see the real truths but plenty can be seen by the naked eye. For example, a scientist might see residue from a kids watered-down fruit punch orange juice spills. A visitor might notice paper cups carefully handed down to the kids so the cups don’t break. But can an outsider see a history that has been sleekly erased?

A scientist can see history. A single scratch that occured after a dish went flying because a wife criticized her husband demands retribution, appeals that time lost be time taken. They call it the suburbs and they call the suburbs normal. So why is the rain outside so heavy? The water has filled up two feet of a plastic pool made for summertime.

Why do the swing sets outside call to the children the way the sound a Bach prelude and fugue calls to a man on his death bed? And what does it mean for a man to give up his home, the home he remodeled with his own bare hands? Uprooted once again, but now it’s made clear that the whole time home was just a fleeting idea. One to fill a children’s book so that Goldilocks and the three bears could call what they had a name.

Who knows better than a man who builds what a house means? To some it could be any four walls with a door, a frame, a window. But a house that has a longstanding address is supposed to be a symbol of security, and that security is now being uprooted and he knows better than to raise his fists in protest but fortunately he does it anyway. There is no fight left in this home. A sign should be raised, a flag should be saluted: fights not allowed in this house. But the furniture announces it so the sign is not necessary. The chairs are not big enough for two people, so affection may be limited to children and dogs. The dog goes between hyperventilating, running around madly, breaking rules, but mostly his nose sniffs around like every pat to his head is going to be his last one. The way the dog uses its eyes to try and get what it wants is nauseous to those who don’t have the time to dole out empathy as if it were candy. Empathy is not a luxury here.

The little girl cries to be lifted in her daddy’s arms. “Uppy,” she says. The word rhymes with puppy for a reason. The older daughter just curls up on the other chair, feigning indifference. She knows better.

“And don’t act too excited about something or he might say no, so you have so sound kind of excited, but not too excited…” she lectures on how to sound suitably convincing when trying to participate in something engaging that might involve the slightest bit of action or agreement.

Diplomacy is as fallen as the leaves outside. The chickens no longer lay eggs; it’s everyone for himself around here the tractor outside shrieks, and the more scraps of devotion in your heart the worse off you’ll be for the endgame. Maybe the endgame is adulthood; maybe the endgame is tomorrow.

The best thing is to not want affection. Then you win the game you didn’t want to play because everybody is off wanting a piece of you and you just want to be left alone. And as long as they continue to want you, then you can yield the poker stick and poke them into the fire as many times as you want. Because some people aren’t winners. They don’t have it in them. Or worse, they don’t really care about winning or losing, they just wanted to be included, and when they walk off having lost all their savings instead of being broken they are just bewildered because this sort of swindle does not happen to them. It just does not happen inside a nice house like this.

“This is a piece of shit house,” the architect says when describing the place. He says this because the home is manufactured and looks like hundreds of other homes that were carved and cast from the exact same design mold. The room attached to the bedroom is completely unfurnished and the sheathing boards are exposed, with bits of dangerous looking nails and lint leaving what was meant to be the floor to a bathroom exposed.

Don’t hold on to anything too closely because there are more than a million excuses that can be used to push somebody away. More than one muscle aching or one bad mood. Those classics can all be used over and over again, and hell, if you need another one, why bother being creative? Just shove the person out on the porch and remind them that they wanted you and if they decide on out now, it’s a little late, and they knew what they were getting into. And plus, this is just a phase.

You pray it is a phase. You wonder if it is a phase. You wonder how much you can take. You wonder how much you really can put up with because your memory doesn’t like to play tricks on you but when it goes into survival mode it cannot be stopped.

Once you really like someone or something and they hurt you in “the way you deemed unacceptable,” as people inevitably do, because that is how time works, you try a million ways to reconnect. When (it’s only a matter of when, not if) that doesn’t work you easily lose the little patience you had. The only answer is retreat, and even that you do have to do with snot in your nose from crying so much. You’ll learn that dignity at times like those was never important anyway. You threw dignity away at the bus stop when you continued on, refusing and refusing to give up. “I can’t give up,” you say, not noticing that you refuse to say won’t. You don’t believe you have a choice in the matter, not when your head makes arrangements one way while your heart assigns you to another precinct altogether.

“It’s sort of like being an angel, and you meet up with a priest that wants to believe in miracles, but to him you don’t look like an angel, so he sends you out the door. Like on that show Saving Grace? It’s so funny when the priest of the drunken policeman sister meets the sisters angel and dismisses him as somebody of no importance. Do you know what that’s like? Hey, are you listening to me? What are you doing?

Listen, sistah, you gotta find new ways of destroying the memories. Drugs do the trick, but they aren’t thorough enough. You really have to find the memory. Locate. Concentrate. Falsify.

It’s shocking how lousy you are at pretending that what you loved was something that was positively atrocious! You have to pretend that despite the fact that what was once so significant to you that you refused to give it words- for even the meaning was so bursting, overloading with joy that it was that untouchable- or so you thought. In order to lose it, you simply must come over there with razors and a plastic hat and tear it up. Just don’t get too emotionally unglued when you find yourself smashing it over and over again; it’s just a memory chip and the chip itself it not to blame. It’s like burning down every house you built. It’s not personal.

It never was. What is wrong with you!

The fight between asserting and withdrawing feels like a choice that has to be made at every second, and making that choice gets so tiring that eventually you fall into a dizzying silence, a silence that is choked by labored breathing and tears that fall for so long people wonder if you have allergies. Yes, you have allergies. Nobody cries for that long without knowing why they are crying. Crying implies mourning, so what could anybody possibly be mourning here?

It is what is unspoken that is being lost. The reason the tears flow is because retrieval is not possible. You can retrieve anything except the intent to connect.

You get so cold that you get the chills, even with the heat on and two jackets, and even when you are soaked to the bone in the hottest water possible, you are still frozen to the core. The goose-bumps don’t go away. And it is then that you know. You know what you feel the loss of. It’s particles and it’s science and it is feeling what another refuses to feel and please don’t let the warmth be gone and all you can do is shiver and please you cannot ask them to hold you or God forbid stroke you because they will not only resent you for asking because you should know better, they will turn away and when they do that again then your worst fears will be confirmed, but you don’t care about your worst fears as much as you care about stopping the shivering and you can’t stop shivering not again not this time. And you don’t know if the warmth will be back. Until then.



{September 2, 2009}   The Break In

Max sits outside and stretches slowly, feeling as heavy as stone, taking another drag. His system is flooded with excitement even though there are plenty of design glitches in this plan, and he isn’t sure he wants to go through with stealing twenty thousand in electronics, because usually for a job of this size it has to be worth way more, but Steve in security has convinced him that this job is especially easy. Plus he is tired of hearing Steve complain about “the elitist fags that run the techno gadget stuff.” Apparently a red-haired guy who runs a class down there brushed Steve off when all Steve wanted to know was how the camera feed upstairs could be expanded using a certain type of software.

“I don’t know. Not my job, not my area,” the little pisser had the nerve to say. Then he smirked and said “it’s not a video feed, by the way.”

Steve smiled sweetly. Didn’t say a word in return. He just looked across the hallway and waited for him to rush away. That took some serious self-control.

Red doesn’t offer to lift a pinky. Steve needs to nose around, and this punk stonewalls him, refusing to show any interest in helping those less technologically fortunate. Isn’t that the guy’s job- helping other people understand how certain programs work? You’d think the guy would have an invested interest in getting better at explaining, but no. Steve has been watching how obsessive he gets working with his electronics all day long. Or whatever they do on their computers, those blank faces crying out to Steve during his long hours where there isn’t any redeeming camera footage of girls having sex because school hasn’t officially started yet. Christ, it’s an art school, Steve thought the people here would be a little more girls gone wild. Talk about misled. Instead Steve watches the computer geeks walking around, obsessing over meaningless numbers and codes, music notes and concepts about music notes. Red seems to know his way around alright but he also seems oblivious as a bumblebee, which for all intensive purposes fits Steve’s plans to a tee.

He can look up their faces on the computer using facial recognition software. He’s gotten so bored that he’s started files on the ones that come there the most often.

What bothers Steve the most about Red is the way he acts as though not fully understanding computers betrays an ignorance about the process of the cult of a personality as a whole.

After that day he’s began listening in on all their conversation using a bugging device he purchased on his own from a one-eyed Turkish guy. And now Steve’s just about had it up to his eyeballs in all the bitching going on downstairs, the way Red walks around with a little keyboard duster as if he had a ladder up his ass.

Steve really doesn’t like being lied to, underestimated, or ignored. The worst is brush-offs.

Anybody who knows him in his real line of work would count their last breath before doing something like that, and Steve knew without a doubt that Red, the Irish-looking mobster kid who wasn’t a muscle cruncher but a whiz at computers could have stopped in and helped him, probably re-routed the entire system. They could have forged a nice bond. The security working with the technologically advanced. That was part of why he took the job. He didn’t expect to run into guys who acted like their balls were on the line every time you eyed them. These people lived in a different world- they gave Steve the creeps, as if they knew everything that was going on when only Steve could know what was going on- and that they took this for granted and didn’t seem to care about what they knew made Steve irate.

Hell, even now Steve wonders how he could have recruited Red for the job, although that would be unlikely, seeing his loyalty to The Teacher. Plus they hadn’t exactly hit it off. The teacher he should have hit first. The teacher he liked although this wasn’t good because it meant the guy knew his way around.

He suspected the teacher knew more than he let on. Not good. Steve didn’t like it one bit. The teacher watched everything and said nothing, like a spook, and Steve knew that if this whole thing ever went down, he’d have to sit down and have a talk with the teacher. Any damage done to the teacher was a necessary casualty, for he didn’t have anything against the teacher specifically. But since he hadn’t been able to infiltrate their division, get the guys down there trusting him and talking to him, he had to get his bar-cutters out for the windows, make the incident look like a student robbery, or even better, an ex-security guard with an ax to grind, and whack the situation in the way he best knew how.

Steve wonders if the teacher, sitting there with this shitty job, working in his office all day, trying to make unsanitary crap those tech freaks called music, wants to take the equipment home for himself. Maybe he would want in on something like this, maybe he’d even keep quiet if the insurance claim went through and he got better, newer equipment. And as a bonus, maybe he gets to be the detective that “solves” the case, puts the blame on some dumb loser student, and ends up being the hero that saved the day. It’s too late to negotiate with those faggot fuckers, Steve thinks. Both married; probably a cover up, just like that movie that gave him the creeps, Brokeback Mountain. Steve did not like capital hill and would never have accepted this job if he hadn’t been desperate.

Now is payday. Max looks reluctant, but he will do the work.

The best part is that there would only be camera footage of last night, where only the red-haired snot had come in to work.

ii

Oh Steve, why can’t you ever lie low. Max thinks that the red kid is lucky he still is walking around with his arms and legs intact. Steve took this job just as a cover gig so he could do his real work at night but now Steve has become obsessed with his job. Max is beginning to wonder if Steve is completely paranoid, but he thinks the only way to make things the way they used to be is to go along with this psycho plan and steal the fucking equipment, equipment none of them even know how to use. Max wants the computers- those they could sell and use, right? But no, Steve has to take the weird looking machines.

Maybe it’s like that TV show he was watching, Terminator: The Chronicles of Sarah Connor. Fuck that girl was hot. He wanted to fuck that MILK so badly, the one fighting off soldiers to save her son, the one that was going to lead the future resistance against machines. A woman with a crusade, and a delicate looking one at that- was hot. So maybe this machine will have the power to make more machines that kill off humans, and Max will have been part of earth’s downfall. Now that would be funny.

Max glares at his cigarette stub, which he was finished with five minutes ago. He doesn’t bother to rub it out, he just throws it in the bushes. Like they need to be careful at a school. If only he could come here in the daytime during school and scope things out but Steve said it was too risky. Max doesn’t find it hard to believe that this whole thing is really about how a red-haired boy who does not deserve the nickname Red- only the deserved get nicknames- wouldn’t answer to a simple question about how the video – fuck it- the DVD feed works. The camera feed? The wire feed? Who cared what they called it, what they used. He agreed with Steve about how it was pathetic, really, why were they so snotty about those things.

Steve had spent his youth being married. Then widowed. And then… it was like she found him. She was beautiful. Maybe that was the problem.

Now Steve has been feeling really low these days. His wife doesn’t sleep with him, complains that they don’t have enough money, and refuses to have kids.

So he goes out to pay for sex and even the whores don’t like him very much, Max thinks with a jolt. One of the girls Steve wanted to come back and see again, and she refused to pick up the phone although it was clear from the picture and ad in the back of the weekly that she was still working. Steve must have been a real dick to her for the girl to turn down a regular. Max finds this really funny, but finding it so funny might mean he didn’t like Steve, and Max really doesn’t want to think about what his feelings of recrimination towards Steve mean.

Except for bashing the window in, Max is not happy about tonight. And clearly the window is an afterthought, which is how it’s supposed to be because nobody is breaking the window to get equipment; Steve wants the window broken to make people think that it’s how an “intruder” got in.

“Show time, Max…” Steve said.

“You spooked me, stepping around the corner like that. So this is the school you been working at, huh. One of the few old school art schools left- Cornish College of the Arts. Isn’t this a bit cruel? And you’re gonna have to keep working here after this is done and pretend that you are above any scrutiny. I sure hope everything holds up under closer scrutiny, because shit is gonna hit the fan when they come in and find their treasure trove gone. Vanished. Like something from a mystery movie. An alien came in and abducted it without leaving a trace. Not even the security guard saw anything. Steve, you better not be planning on pinning this on me..”

“No Max, you know I am not pinning this on you, and as to what you first said, yeah, well, we fucking better be prepared. Tonight is the perfect night… everybody has gone home because of that Asian girls violin recital, most of the faculty won’t be by here for a while because they are busy relaxing, thinking about how school is coming way too fast.. Max, do you think I should be doing this in the middle of school year, when it wreaks the most havoc?”

“No way. This way, if they do think it’s an inside job, it will look like somebody who got fired did. You told me what you heard with those bugs. They got left with NOTHING after all those years of loyalty. Also, you won’t have no back up plan if ‘The Teacher’ looks at you funny and you think he’s caught on to you.”

“Man, that guy gives me the creeps. Sometimes I think he’s already caught on to me.”

“Steve, you are getting PA-RA-NOID. You are from the military, and you shouldn’t be smoking any crack… if anything you need a huge stash of Xanax, the kind I have at home. Want one now, before we do this?”

Steve explodes. “Are you kidding? I hope you aren’t taking that mind melting shit. It will have you so relaxed you… ”

“I was just kidding,” Max says, trying to soft-pedal backwards. He can’t have Steve angry tonight.

“Just, just.. fuck. Do me a favor sometime Max. Go online and type in the word ‘Clonazepam’ with ‘shop-lifting.’ You will see a sudden jump in how many people go stealing when they are on benzos.”

“You can’t tell that from no online search engine.”

“Google? Yes you can. Apparently being on that stuff makes people way more prone to stealing. People who have never stolen in their life find themselves walking away with random things because they think they are invisible. Come on, you don’t believe a drug could do something like that?”

“No way.” Max rolls his eyes.

“It makes people think they are invisible and invincible! Isn’t that a beautiful combination? Well, maybe in sex but not in real life. Then boom, suddenly they are openly walking into K-mart, grabbing twenty DVDs, and walking out. The best cover is out in the open, right? Well, that little truth has its limitations.”

“No kidding? You’re serious. Huh. Well, that explains why I tend to go on some wicked bends when I coat my Xanax with more than a few drinks.”

“Right. Then, let’s imagine you getting caught, and you try to explain that the drugs made you steal. Try that defense on a judge. it will just make them give you a longer sentence, because in their eyes you will become not just a thief but an addict, too, which to the cops is worse than a thief. Cops are thieves too, you know that, but most of them don’t sniff the evidence. The ones that don’t steal some extra bling now and again from the robbers are at least stealing our dignity.”

Their talk is beginning to feel too long. Max wants the job to be over with so he can go unwind and fantasize about Sarah Connor.

“Let’s do it, let’s go. Just you and me, this will be a cake. If we had involved anybody else, the risk would have gone up. So let’s just keep it at you and me. No involving the Teacher with the funny grey hat. He may put on a poker face, but he’d have us locked up faster than you can ask him if he wants in.”

Steve frowns. He is the mastermind, and it’s best if everybody knows it. But he needs Max, and he knows this job is unconventional and that Max is doing him a favor.

“Alright, let’s go.”

The rest is hard labor work. They wish they knew more about what plugged in where and how because they don’t want to break anything. Who knows what valuable information could be saved on here?

“What the hell is this weird looking record-player thing here, Steve?”

“Fuck if I know. Just take it. Gently, okay?”

“I thought you could care less if the stuff still worked, just that we got it out of here.”

“No, I care.”

Max is beginning to get suspicious. He wonders if Steve has been holding out on him. After all, Steve seemed to suddenly know all about google searches, and how could he know anything about computers, he doesn’t own a computer, and he never spends time around computers.

Max looks over at Steve. Steve is the one who gave him the place to live when he left the halfway house. Steve is the one who procured him a new identity, new papers, and got him working again. But now it’s a double-edged sword because if somebody takes the fall for this, it’s not going to be Steve because Max has never been a snitch, and he’s not about to become one.

Paranoia is contagious, Max thinks, and he realizes it’s probably his amateurism that is holding him back, keeping him from trusting Steve on this one, because he spent the last ten years in prison, and they didn’t have what they have now. Tiny phones that can hook up to the net? That shit still blows his mind. He prefers to think about Sarah Connor, those delicate cheekbones, those piercing brown eyes, that dark choppy hair. The way she seems oblivious to the way she looks…

“Hey, fuckface. What the fuck are you doing?”

“I’m trying to be careful,” Max says, embarrassed, caught in the middle of a daydream, feeling like Steve walked in on him with his pants down. Really, this job smells of desperation. If either of them had a real girl to go back to, would they really be out risking jailtime on stupid jobs like this? That’s when he remembers he doesn’t fully understand why Steve is doing this, and for his own protection it’s probably better that he doesn’t understand. Max doesn’t think it all has to do with the red-haired kid pissing him off in the hallway, thinks it has more to do with conversations he overheard, but whatever.

“Steve… you got rid of the bug right?”

“That is why I have you around. Thanks for reminding me. Keep unloading this into the back van and we should be done soon. We got to hurry. Can’t have any college students that live in that apartment house across the street saying they saw me going from here to the van. That’s what I have the glasses and mustache for. They aren’t going to recognize me in this darkness, and if they are up, it’s because they are drunk and stoned.”

“You never know. Some of those students, daddy paid their tuition and suddenly they think they are a real artist so they stay up stringing the same three notes on their sitar all night.”

Max thinks about Sarah Connor again. “Steve, why don’t we ever have hot chicks in on our cons? It’s not fair. We need a hot chick to distract people from thinking there is anything going on.”

“Maybe next time Max.”

“Aw, that’s what you always say.” Max tries to downplay the squeal of desperation in his voice, but he really just wants a girlfriend. A nice girl that has sex with him every morning. That’s all she’d have to do and he’d let her live with him, eat his food, watch movies, cuddle on the couch… It had been way too long, he felt like he no longer knew how to interact with the female population, but he wasn’t about to go and pay for it like Steve. That was absolutely gross. Think about all the shit Steve must pick up from those skanks.

“Well, it looks like we have the last of it. This has been boring. Let’s go.”

“Boring is good. You go start the car up and I’ll reset the security cameras.”

“Are you sure you know how to do that right? And won’t the red-haired squealer think it’s suspicious that you were asking about rewiring the cameras after all this happens?”

“I doubt a kid like that even remembers talking to me. He didn’t look too smart to me; he looked like a thug.”

“That would be us, pal.” Max feels a twinge. Just once, he’d like to be one of the good guys.
To be continued…



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