I make fun of myself for fictional things. The other day, I was laughing at the idea of keeping a dream journal or a work journal. I was telling a co-worker after being asked how my shift went, that I was going home to write about it in my work journal. In my head, it had been a long and arduous shift. I laughed at my response as I waited at a red light listening to Tejano music on the radio.
I’ve begun to gauge my successes based on make-believe situations. In my mind, I’m frequently being interviewed about things I only hope to accomplish but in reality, never start. “Tell us how you came up with the idea. Explain your process.” The photographic negative of myself is very prolific. It taunts my textural self from the shadowed dimension just out of reach. That dimension is the measure of hope or longing or disgrace or a million versions of suicide considered.
Though the finite moments experienced by us stack up like a skyscraper, the things that will never happen define the upper atmosphere of modern life. This seems to be the diseased condition of my mind. I’m seeing a universe of moments only in my head. They will never enter the textural world. I’m threading the needle of a running illusion. This function of my imagination seems flawed and malevolent.
I’ve begun to focus only on simple tasks and the base execution of them. I do push-ups and sit-ups in order to feel a vague physical relationship with my cells and blood-rush. Order is now a path to reason and the eternal evidence of reality. It holds my photographic negative self at bay and lets me live out this temporary permanence.
I didn’t look at e-mail this morning. Didn’t tidy up my apartment. Didn’t check the weather, job boards, national news, social media. Didn’t even shower or make coffee. In fact, didn’t even eat. The buzzing sound inside my head felt too good to disrupt with the minutia of daily life. It’s amazing how much of life is frivolous and inconsequential once you single it out and strip it down to the base. All this minutia has found a way to materialize as one devouring pod of bewildering noise.
But this morning, the noise was gone. I knew it was somewhere out there in the distance, but for the time being, it seemed to have dispersed. Mornings like this are best left alone. Better to sit and enjoy the deprivation. To watch the light slowly brighten from behind the mini blinds. To listen to the sound of the neighbor upstairs preparing for work and to think nothing of it. Just the sound of the running shower. Just the footsteps. The hum of the cars on the highway. Garner from them no reaction.
Is it possible to live always in the upper corners of every room? Is it possible to send the mind to the far corners upon darkening each doorway? To peer at the landscape of every room from above. To perceive each moment before it comes into being and then observe it like a surgery. A godly fantasy. God is a quiet one.
In my alternative reality, I sit here within this morning for eternity. My body is only form now. My mind, a placid stasis. Functionality and godliness, those two opposing forces, have stretched me to beyond my death. The neighbor’s door slams closed. Her footsteps rush to meet the pod, ever growing. The morning will make way for the afternoon. After that, something else. After that, something else.
Got kicked out of the writers group. Happened this evening after the meeting. For some season she waited until after the meeting to kick me out. She could’ve saved me the time, just having to sit there through the meeting not knowing. Then getting kicked out over a cigarette outside. I just walked to my car and left. Didn’t go back in to say goodbye to the rest of the group. I’m sure some of them knew I was being kicked out. I went to the bar and sat alone, and for the most part, I didn’t think much about it.
Back at home, I did a little writing and thought it went better than usual. I had the notion that the reason it went better was because I got kicked out of the writers group. I tend to do better on my own, or at least I feel like do. I had a drink and went to bed.
I woke up at around 4 a.m. The candle on the bedside table was still burning and there was a pool of wax under the flame. My head felt a little heavy and I thought that maybe I was a bit hungover or just really depressed. The light from the flame hurt my eyes but I continued to stare at it. For some reason the pool of wax felt like my life. I guess it felt this way because nothing was certain anymore, nothing was set in stone. Who knows though. That’s just what I figured. That’s the easiest thing I could come up with. I blew the candle out and went back to sleep.
I woke up again just before noon and dragged myself to the shower. I let the water run over my head for thirty minutes until the heaviness went out of my skull and my body woke up.
If you’re self-conscious about your body, take a bath. You may not have done so in a long time. If you’re feeling strange about getting older and the thing you once saw in the mirror is now something plucked from the future and implanted here, take a bath. Remember when you took baths as a child? Maybe mother had stopped bathing you and let you do it yourself. That’s where your memories begin. Let yourself slip into the hot water again. Your body won’t fit so amiably anymore, but it will fit. Take a bath.
And then, think of someone you know. Not a person you’ve been to bedlam and back with. Someone you only know the outside of. Maybe someone you’d like to know better. Someone you trust but don’t know why. Someone who shows it in their eyes.
Think of the conversation you’d have with them while they watch you bathe. They could sit on the counter or even crossed-legged on the closed toilet seat. Let them see you soaking in the water and feel no shame, no sheepish, inner cowering. Let everything be as it is, calmed by the warmth of water and the salts – menthol – eucalyptus – lavender – citrus.
What would you talk about? Take a bath and think about it. Play it out in your head as you peer down across the surface of the water toward your feet. Let them darken the doorway to the bathroom and then let them enter.
“I will go out tomorrow and make money. There will be no excuses anymore. There will be no procrastinating. Money must come in. That’s the way the world works. The reason I’m writing this is to try to instill a new principle in my mind. It’s a type of meditation. I will go out and earn money tomorrow. I will go out and work any way I can. The amount I make may not be much, but it will be something. I will wake up in the morning. I will try to think of nothing except getting out of the house. I will not dwell on ideas or philosophical questions. I will not find reasons why putting off work is acceptable. The weather will have no effect on me leaving the house. If I feel a sniffle, I will ignore it. I will go out and earn.“
As easy as it seems to make money these days, I can’t find the path to it. I know I despise money. I know it’s ruined everything. I can only assume that this abhorrence is working on a subconscious level. I know the requirements of modern life and that we all have to work to stay afloat. It’s that endless trap that tethers us to the commercial function of society. I’m asking myself to accept the role and get on with earning so that the future is not so worrisome. The lack of income now is boxing my future in and thus limiting my present options. But I allow this to happen and must think around it.
Think only of the day. Tomorrow is the day and the money earned will only be tomorrow’s money. Don’t allow tomorrow’s earnings to transgress beyond the hours allotted for tomorrow. After it’s earned, leave it alone and forget. You must, as another tomorrow will be waiting for you. The sun will bring it back home to the east. You will not get another chance.
I went and voted today. Would feel too guilty not to vote in this election, though I’m more distanced from politics than I’ve ever been. Can’t stomach it any longer and really, I never could. Now it’s just a circus. I guess it has been for some time. All the words have become suspect to me. They come from too many directions. It’s sensory overload in the worst possible way. When the data all around you is masked by conjecture, the senses get trapped in the middle. The glitch of this world becomes internal.
At the polling office I thought I’d have trouble working the ballot machine. I figured that some instruction would confuse me or make me think twice about the procedure. Another trick that is being played on me. Just another thing to worry about. I figured I’d have to ask for help while the seventy-year-old woman beside me played hop scotch over the buttons and got out of there before the lunch rush. My mind is now my worst enemy. Everything is set to destruct.
But it went smoothly and I voted for my woman and got the hell out of there. All in all, it was just half an hour of my day. Just a trip to the grocery store or the bank. I was thinking as I walked out of the polling office, that in the past, voting has instilled a strange and limited sense of power and individuality in me. The temporary sensation that I count and that I’ve had an effect on something larger. The realization of citizenship. Today, the vacancy I felt after voting was no surprise.
The gas station down the street always has low prices so I stopped and filled up even though I still had half a tank. These days, every little bit helps.
Where do people like us go when November comes? Where do we hide inside ourselves? We have no forest to trail off into to conjure our spells and start fires, beckon the smoke to rise. To dance around those fires like right demons of nature. In my dreams I collect fallen branches and lift grey stones from the ground, carry them to my camp and arrange them in the shape of crosses. I tie dead vines to my hair and paint my face with the juice of autumn berries and crows blood, my eyes black as night. The smell of me and of you is the root of life in those dreams.
Somewhere inside myself I’m a forester. I feel the roots of trees under my skin. The cool November wind is my breath and my energy, my blood flow. I’ve always felt a safety in the forest. The blanket of tree and leaf, the ocean of soil and brush, the echoes that come always from somewhere unknown. Everything comes from beyond the trees, masked yet so resolute. The noises my ears have never heard.
The human in me is not human in my city life. I am kept from being the creature that I am. The November forest waits for me within my soul conjured at birth. The veins of my tree-blood. The skin of leaf and bone of stone and the smoke of inspiration only given to each gust of wind threading its way through the haunting branches to reach my upturned, black eyes.
Without thinking, he reported the couple’s infidelity to the psychologist’s second cousin, the psychic.
The long term effects of the shockwave were Oedipus Complex and narcolepsy.
The ancestors of the village wait in the next dimension for the autumn harvest that will never come again.
His next door neighbor’s dog had Edger Allen Poe’s eyes.
Instead of wearing a scarf to work on “scarf day,” she stayed home and ate lasagna and cookies.
The murders were attributed to the malaria vaccine, to which had been added the sacred wolf’s blood.
The missing Sesame Street episode was encrypted with Mr. Rogers’ instructions on transcendental meditation.
The mother smiled while watching the aliens experiment on her son.
The bullet he sent through his head was made from a rib bone that had caged his dead lover’s heart.
The housewives met in silence on Wednesday nights to waltz the rumba.
The husbands met in the pre-dawn Sunday air to show each other how they cried.
Two spiders on the ceiling, one with only seven legs, walked in circles around each other until a black hole opened up and pulled them in.
The man from the city licked a dripping ice cream cone while studying his dead mother’s face.
Should I try to do yoga before I start my day? I don’t really know yoga but it’s really just stretching, right? Just fancy stretching. I have this rolled up yoga mat under my bed. My roommate’s dog pissed on it months ago. I took it over to my brother’s house and used his garden hose to wash it and let it dry in the sun. I think most people would’ve just bought a new one but I’m too poor so I have to find other ways around things. You can still see the piss stain.
But after my coffee I don’t think I’ll try yoga, though I know it would make me feel better about the rest of the day. Clear my mind, ya know? But I’d really need to look up some yoga moves on the computer first in order to properly do it. And I don’t want to get into all that.
I’ll just get right into looking for a job. I’ll hit the job websites and find a few things to apply for. I’ll be directed to the company sites and I’ll apply there, attach my resume and cover letter and hit submit and never hear another thing about it. Applying for jobs today is like shooting free throws of crumpled up paper into the trash can from across the room. That submit button is one hell of a black hole.
Maybe I’ll do a little reading first and then hit the job websites. Reading always makes me feel a little more powerful. I guess it just wakes up the mind and maybe gives me a little confidence. Finishing a chapter of a novel can really feel good when everything around you is spinning down the drain. Well, I guess you really have to get lost in what you’re reading in order for it to feel good. That’s the whole point of fiction, right? To get lost in something like it’s a drug. If I’m really feeling bad, I’ll try to read about something horrible like slavery or genocide or the trees all being cut down. That seems to balance things out.
Actually, before I do anything I should go to the gym and get a good workout in. That would really be the best thing for me, and at any rate, my body feels stale. When my body feels stale, a good workout really straightens me out. And I bet nobody would be there on a Sunday. Sometimes it’s better when it’s not busy. Other times I like the energy of a gym packed with people working out and really sweating it up. Like we’re all parts of a big engine.
I’m trying to go ahead and make a decision, but my body won’t move. I’m sitting on the edge of my bed, the sheets in a strangled ball. The coffee in my cup has gone cold and all I can do is stare at my bare feet on the floor. I’ll make a move soon. I have no idea what direction I’ll go. Maybe I’ll try to sit here until something comes to me. Maybe I’ll make it over to the window and see what it looks like outside.
I’m trying to throw all my old things away, but every time I start, I stop and read a book or sit and stare at the wall. It’s not that I have anything holding me here. It’s that no matter what happens, I have nothing to move in to. My direction has turned and is pointed inwards now, diving down to a place I cannot point to.
I’ve traveled nowhere and everywhere. I’ve not seen so many things. I’ve been the adverse of experience, taking the opposite seat from knowledge. I know this because it has never made me cringe. I’ve been right there with it on the other side of the wall, pressing my ear against it in order to hear, feeling countless words, all meaning the same thing. In fact, I’ve become an instillation of myself.
When I was a child, I had visions rather than dreams. I didn’t know I was supposed to be looking forward and to my recollection, nobody guided my sight. No fault applied. I’m simply stating what I believe is fact. This attribute has grown into a haunting characteristic I feel on my chest when I wake. It is the largest thing of me. So I could say to myself that I’m just stubborn, but it’s more like an infection that has grown with the rest of me.
And see, even here you can see it in these lines. I’ve written stories like these most of my adult life and to the outside it must seem like nonsense. In fact, it’s nonsense to me as well, on some level. It defies what I know about human nature. But human nature is an inconceivable thing and exists only on the same level as money or real estate. This hasn’t always been the case, but it’s the case now. So it seems that maybe I was born in the wrong time and into a displaced life.
And so the installation persists and my mind slowly pulls itself away and looks backs, as if I were my own museum. This is what age does. It slowly moves the mind away from the host. A glacier breaking away from itself and drifting back.