"And there is one who stands and marvels at this splendor. And he is so made that he waits whether to come awake. Because in sleep alone one sees such state and such festivals of such women: their slightest gesture, a fold falling in brocade. They build hours out of silvery discourses, and sometimes lift their hands up: so - , and you must think that somewhere you cannot reach, they break soft roses that you do not see. And then you dream: to be adorned with these and otherwise blessed, and earning a crown for your brow, empty."
Rainer Maria Rilke from The Lay of the Love and Death of Cornet Christopher Rilke
translated by M.D. Hester Norton and Michael Gause
Dried blood and cigarettes. The end of a bad night out. That's what the exhausted worker on the train looked like as I climbed aboard and looked for a seat. I sat next to him and saw that the smell of his look didn't stop there. He looked at me half in surprise, half in irritation, no doubt used to riders avoiding him, haggard and sprawled out half into the other seat. But I sat next to him, likely out of some need to prove that I'm not bourgeois or some stupid shit like that.
I pulled out my book to read and, like clockwork, began instead to scan the faces and asses of everyone around me. Sleeping against windows. Standing at the doors like sentinels readying themselves for their shifts as construction workers, undead servers, long-distance secretaries. I'm intrigued, each and every morning, by the energy people give off when they think others don't notice. Sometimes the waves emanate with sharp snaps and pops, short-circuited aura lights trying to light paths, pave ways only to sabotage themselves with a darkness that eludes their owners. As for the asses, well, you know. Butts.
I read the third sentence four times before I stop and feel it in my veins like a surprise IV - sadness, a deep and hollow sadness. No. Desolate? What's the word? Maybe that's too strong. Forlorn, yes. The reason that word still exists. After a couple of days high as a kite with the return of spring, I'm dropped hard. Trip over. Bad climax by yourself with nothing to show for it. I've always believed that we punch doors and walls not only out of a need to vent that anger, but because of a deep-seated need to see, no - make, a change. That dent or hole is satisfying. Proof of power. Proof that we exist. Sex, too. Ask anyone what makes a bad lover, and I'll bet you $20 one trait will be 'reaction.' No one, male or female, wants to hump with a mannequin. Okay, maybe, but you get me. These last few days of spring, I've wanted to make the world cum in some altruistic mission of passion. I wanted to erase the ennui of winter and bring light and fire back into eyes, hearts. On bended knee I wanted to caress the feet of the needy and make them want to dance. So much explosion and desire, the Pan in me a misguided berserker of love. It happens every spring, but this year it is particularly strong. To feel this way and see no reaction from the world to show it's real. Disheartening. Can I say crushed? Deflated. What did I think would happen? Silly boy. This morning that passion is added to the grey of last season. I return, one of us. Muted colors and vacant stare. You win. You've won, for now.
I look up from not reading and the lake of bodies swaying back and forth with every turn on the rails. Business blues ready to move that spreadsheet needle just another tick. In the back. Right there. I see you. Twenty feet away seated facing me. As if in a movie, he is wearing white surrounded by shadow. Does he have a halo? he should. Amidst the uninhabited bodies framing him in his seat, he is free. He gleams. A light that negates them and solidifies his place on earth. An extra in Wings of Desire. I smile, hoping he sees. I want to applaud him. I want to stand up. "Here here!" banging my hands together in praise and celebration. It's silly, but it feels very real to me. I seem to be the only one who notices this godchild. I should. I should jump up and Kung Fu kick these dead fuckers and make 'em respect some real piety right here with us on the Blue Line to downtown. Sit on their backs and crane their necks up to cast perverted eyes upon saintly luminescence made worldly for the likes of their ungrateful asses. Asses. But. But no. I don't. Of course I don't. I'm one of us, after all. I allow it. I allow the light to shine, to break apart my shadows. I allow him to simply be the source and me and mine the things that care for the shadows.
I cross the plaza and wend my way up to the fourth floor. I find my cube and set to work. It was only a couple of hours in when I heard the news of Prince's death. The day becomes Surreal and a piece of me is gone. Another light out. It would be another day before the full effect hits us, Minnesotans the hardest. But for now its a numb. An elemental of passion through sound. I get up and go to the window, the rest of the day an empty room to traverse. But I will. We all will. At the window I'm given a gift, a memory forgotten from the morning. The figure on the train, the white light amidst the penumbra. As I departed, I had forgotten how he seemed to look in my direction, a hand raised, as if to say goodbye.
Hello, friends. When I'm not hard at work as an A-1 administrative assistant for a fortune 500 company, I like to kick back, pop a cold one an work on my first memoir, tentatively entitled Holler.
I answered a call out on Memoirabilia for articles on the writing process, etc. and decided to chime in on my thoughts on the memoir as a genre and on the strategy for writing my own. They wanted a podcast, so I recorded it and sent it in.
Memorabilia published it as a podcast. Part I is here. Part II coming soon...
With a change of diet - both physical and mental - I have been fortunate in my health in the last year. Working at a grocery store kept my muscles toned and my sleep sound. Five weeks ago I took a position at a large financial institution as an administrative assistant, work I am more than capable of doing and for twice the pay as before. Good for my family, good for me. Unfortunately, my new environment, cubed and closer quarters, allows for easy transfer of sneezes and the germs they transport. I heard the woman in the cubicle next to me sneezing and hacking the other day, and earlier this week I woke to find myself among the living dead.
I spent Tuesday resting and went back to work yesterday. However, this morning I woke to find my illness had boomeranged on me. I slept until noon, dreams of choking on bile and of losing a great competition, push ups or some such, against a muscle-bound Viking. I fought the decision as the crowd of dirty, toothless locals jeered and cheered. I woke trying to make my case against the tide.
The truth is I both love and hate being sick. The hating is easy, especially if you've read Kafka. The sinking feeling in your stomach as you bow out of the day's race, worthlessness on you like a wolf, while wife and child trudge on. I have learned to allow the guilt to wash over me, cleansing me of ego, the enthusiasm of self that we are told is healthy, stripping me down to something to mull over with a whole day of resting that lies ahead.
But I also love being sick. I love the way sickness forces us to slow the body and the mind, Soma and Myalo. These two athletes inside us, each in love with itself, constantly attempting to best the other and prove superior worth, find the world slowing its pace as it rushes past. Legs abdicate their mission, momentum in increasing mutiny. Shame before helplessness. The two slow to a stop, and they find themselves helpless together and so sit and take up rock-scissors-paper, maybe Go Fish. You feel knocked out of orbit, and with this new position comes a new perspective. You leave the stage and sit in the audience. For me, I begin to see how silly the play itself is, how unimaginatively repetitive the scenes are. I look around expecting to see geniuses around me, Seers, prophets, or soothsayers. Instead, I find only real things. Empty rooms full of angles and lines I can contemplate at length. I cock my head and enjoy new slants. Walk from room to room in perfect silence and stillness. Be your own ghost haunting your home after everything is gone. Recognize you as one of your own memories. For me it is therapeutic, for others I could imagine depressing. And with nothing to distract you, soon you begin to hear all the clatter from within, a din of voices both known and foreign, proclamations of your success, accusations of your failure. Entering the bathroom, the light hits the supporting beam and casts a Caligari darkness across the floor. Amidst the humming of the refrigerator in the other room, it is beautiful and ominous. I think of things that always wait. Stairs in the night. I think of our shadows, the ones inside ready to pounce at the first sign of weakness, and how they seem to have more patience than anything we create. I walk forward toward it. In half umbra I am out of space and time, offline in a way that says I was once an unsettled monk, an aesthetic ascetic, possibly the ruler of the universe (I remember being brought to tears when I first read of him, a brother, a mirror, an ideal), a Nowhere Man in the hills of someone's book or head never to be approached nor understood, his job being only to be. And with that so am I, resigned to run the moral calculations that support a smiling life. Between the sink and the toilet, I allow myself, some strange subroutine of happiness.
I feel as though I am cruising at 35,000 feet. After returning from Tennessee to visit my family, there is always the radical shift from liquid to solid mass, from slow, languid molecular gamboling to tight-ass and relentless fast pace. I was able to let my mind loosen and relax down there, and I felt it begin to tighten again as we crunched down the sad driveway toward the main road back to MN. Things are fast again and busy. My mind flits and flutters with the million things I can and should (not) do. Too many choices. The feeling of too many things that need something from me. It is almost maddening to me sometimes. On the farm, there is sitting, thinking, working, television, and eating - a monastic cycle of passing time. Add in reading and writing, and you are stenciling heaven. Here there is the reality of speed.
I need to find and retain the balance and peace on the farm here, in the roil and choke of urban life.