more data in the imaginary spreadsheet

Yesterday cigar-smoking man was again observed sitting in his chair and smoking. He had a bike with him, though a different bike from his original bike. Meanwhile, someone wrote the word ‘WEED’ in multicolored chalk on the brick promenade. There are now many tourists, both of the large and confused varieties. They approach anyone around them with desperate pleas for directions to destinations that tourists frequent, such as restaurants where they can attempt for a time to assuage their unending hunger. They walk around talking about when to eat, concerned that a late lunch will push dinner back too far. Managing one’s meals whilst vacationing is difficult. It requires careful planning and continuous discussion.

The fake pirate ship drifts into view and executes a tight 90-degree turn in the channel, as the few customers on board respond with halfhearted movements to the ‘deckhands’ capering to the awful pulsing reggae music.  It may be an elaborate game of musical chairs, but the distance is too great to permit an accurate, detailed report.

A police helicopter incessantly buzzes overhead, an unusual occurrence in this sanitized sector of the city. Perhaps it makes the tourists feel protected.

One-sided exchange overheard between two restaurant employees who were setting up outdoor seating:

“[…]”

“No, I would say I’m spiritual, but I don’t believe in organized religion.”

On a certain bridge, someone scrawled ‘It feels so good to do it’ with spray paint. After a while, the graffiti clean-up squad covered it up with neutral paint. Several weeks or months later, the same scrawl appeared but this time it said, ‘It feels so good to do it again’. The clean-up squad covered that one much quicker, only for the scrawl to reappear a few days later as ‘It feels so good to do it again and again’. No one will win this war.

In Winterreise, Nagl has moved on from thinking his life is still lying ahead of him:

‘Now that life is no longer ahead of me, now that it’s really started, there’s nothing else but senseless thoughts. I’ve done everything almost automatically. I made it a point of honor to have everything I did look as if I wanted it. In reality, it just happened.’

Is it the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning.

spring sprang sprung

With the year’s first sighting of cigar-smoking man (scroll to the bottom of that page for full enlightenment), we solemnly herald the official arrival of the so-called warm season (so-called by me, that is). Cigar-smoking man (or cigar-smoking guy, as he is also sometimes known) appears to be growing a beard. He was not in the company of his lady friend. I wonder if they are still an item, as they say (the other, more generic they, that is).

Warm season brings a slow shedding of clothing. An increase in flesh exposed to the sun’s rays. Perhaps even corporate nudity. Certainly tourists.  And what I fear most of all: mosquito death squads. It’s all too much.

What will I write about this warm season without sounding highly repetitive.

Wait, don’t read those other posts…it will all soon become painfully familiar.

yes to sloth reincarnation

I see everything. It’s staggering. Many things are ugly and sad. A few things are beautiful in a superficial way. Some things are ugly in a beautiful way. Or sad in a beautiful way. Or neutral seen through a colored lens of your own choosing. Re: The sky is a lovely shade of cornflower blue / The sky is boring, why is it always blue, but sometimes white / The sky makes me sad / The sky overpowers me with its vastness / The sky enrages me.

Flaws are necessary. Imperfections abound. Everything is so strange. I don’t understand what people are doing. How they are living, existing. Where comes the drive for them to do something. I think I need more sunlight. The darkness slow-kills me with eight-hour stab wounds. My daytime cave smothers me. Who are these people. Don’t tell me. Maybe I need them. I’m not really in a rush.

I can no longer walk ten feet without writing something down. I keep waiting for a lamp post to approach me with violent intent. The suddenness of everything happening around me is electrifying. I’m a festering open sore and the world is my penicillin. But wait, I am allergic. Look out, I’m rejecting the transplant. Maybe I like being alone in a crowd. Maybe the reincarnation is almost complete. Routine comforts and horrifies me. I want it to be different but I’m afraid.

Today was the ice cream social at work. A group of awkward people convened to eat ice cream in a cramped meeting room. Our leader thanked us for doing a good job. It was uncomfortable. We ate our ice cream in silence. Some small talk scratched a flint but the kindling never caught. But there was vegan whipped cream! And organic vegan sprinkles! And vegan chocolate sauce! I ran outside when it was done! It was too late for cigar-smoking man. But expose-her-shoulders-to-the-sun girl was out there. And some bike messengers. I secured a good seat, read another piece in Zone 3. I took the sun and held it close.

As I rode through the supermarket parking lot on the way home, I saw a hearse. Its back window was painted in a colorful stylized manner with the words Girls & Corpses. Soon after, I saw some young runners. I felt a thrill. I felt the sun leave me. This is a true story.

~ FIN ~

la palabra o la muerte

Cigar-smoking guy smoked a cigar yesterday and today, not that I’m counting. He was with his lady friend. They own that patch of grass between the black locusts. Someone had taken their other seat yesterday. Too sunny for that spot, anyway. My black socks heated up in the sun, creating hot bands around my ankles. It wasn’t pleasant. Yesterday cigar-smoking guy smoked his cigar while his lady friend was present. Today he waited for her to leave. Yesterday I was behind them as they walked to the grassy patch. Or rather he rode his bike extremely slowly next to her as she walked. From experience I know this is annoying, on both sides. I almost intervened because clearly I know best.

In his essay in the Spring issue of Zone 3, Don Lago relates a story about Aldo Leopold that I already knew. It’s about how as an eager young man Leopold partook in a hunting party that came upon a female wolf swimming across a stream to her overjoyed pups. The men in the hunting party, including Leopold, joyously opened fire on this happy reunion scene. When they approached the dying wolves, Leopold poked with his gun at the she-wolf, who snarled back, not surprisingly. Leopold related seeing a “fierce green fire” fading from her eyes. It was at this moment that Leopold began to understand the tenets of what would become known as ecology. See, when you kill all the natural predators in an ecosystem, you’ve got two problems: overpopulation of prey animals and the resulting carnage on the ecosystem. Hunters are only so eager to step in and blast away at the defenseless woodland creatures, but it’s too big a vacuum for them to fill. Besides, one could argue that there are also too many humans today, and so where are our predators. Perhaps they are still yet to come. The hunters become the hunted. Oh yes, one day…

So the gulls cried and the orbs ate their raucous lunches on the deck at McCormick & Schmick’s™. Many bees pollinated a flowering bush. They briefly paused over me but found I had no pollen to offer. The water taxi ferried three people somewhere. Someone nearby smoked a cigarette and disparaged someone else over the phone. He had big hair and used nasty words. I was happy for the protection of my bee-laden bush.

Director man’s leaving. Oh well. No shock to this crusty cynic. No one bought his crying act at the meeting. What is there to cry over when you found your dream job in the south of France? No one is buying what you’re selling, buddy. No one. So take your act elsewhere. That’s right. Take it. And now the feeding frenzy begins. Fight to the top. Power and money. The nonprofit world is no different. There are humans here, of course. And where there are humans there is corruption, lies, ruthlessness, greed, manipulation, spitefulness, exploitation for personal gain, false faces. Savor the flavor…of hufu.

Meanwhile, the first cases of Coca-Cola in over 60 years will soon be arriving in Myanmar. Thank goodness the madness has ended. Soothe those parched, ragged throats with America’s sweet nectar, high fructose corn syrup, the great symbol of liberty and freedom. Drink it down, Burma, and maybe one day you’ll be as fat as us. Coke executives everywhere should be proud. Now if they could just crack that North Korean market (not much hope for Cuba, as long as the Castros are around). I’m sure they’re salivating at the thought. Can you imagine the bonuses? The high-fives? The unabashed corporate nudity?

All axehandle hounds aside, though, I’m chopping down a tree. I’m a cat in a paper bag. I’m fighting nothing and nothing is fighting back. No one wants to be a cart on the track of an amusement park ride. The tunnel of love. The tunnel of death. The tunnel of life. Is it shrinking up ahead or widening. I can’t tell. Turning and turning in the widening gyre is what Yeats said. A waste of desert sand, he said, a shape moving its slow thighs, in the shadows of the indignant desert birds.  What rough beast, indeed.

to me, it’s not better than the weather

Waning, waxing, waning, waxing: the rush and the push of mood from hour to hour to day to day to week’s end and to the moon. Reading F. K.’s diary night by night…sinking fast in the horror bog of familiarity. A morass of similarities. [Will I also get TB. Where’s my Swiss sanatorium.] Writing, not writing, writhing, writing, not writing, the endless breakers rising and crashing against this battered cranial jetty. The crushing repetition of my own inspiration. Heat’s ebb and flow, the dying summer exhales rank and humid rattle-breaths as it’s painstakingly strangled by the coming fall. An ugly death, for sure. The work not done around here could fill a hundred empty trucks, on standby, prepared to haul off a life’s accumulated evidence of avoidance. I, the weather-crazed architect, survey an empty expanse of years, so carefully orchestrated, so carelessly implemented, and on every day I rested. And on every day I rested. And on every day I…clamp down on the cause of defeat with mighty waxen jaws, summer’s flame licking holes in their false walls. Caving in on itself, everything is. Last night again was epic dreams I failed to describe accurately in my journal. Just weak fluid flowing from my pen, sketching a toothpick framework for what is becoming dangerously close to more exciting than what I describe here. That is, intricate nothingness. That is, blank walls of clear shellac taped off and rollered with exquisite care, attention paid to the most glaring lack of any details…a veritable Sistine Chapel ceiling of nonexistence. So proud I am for the big unveiling. [Sound of emergency exit door slamming shut.]

Now I drink yerba mate out of a wooden gourd. Now I reflect on how cigar-smoking guy had a lady friend with him today. Not a loner for long. They sat in those weird half-chairs that have no legs. Just a seat and a back and nothing else, maybe arms. What will they think of next. Cigar-smoking guy was not smoking a cigar. His bike was there, but his lady friend must have walked. I sat on the other side of the locust trees flipping through some literary journals I’m supposed to review. The air felt drained of moisture. This pleased me. All around, bands of men in monkey suits capered about in the grasping thralls of machismo, no doubt bandying their latest conquests in the spheres of sex and business. Strip off their power suits and we would all laugh. Or would we cheer. Or arrest. Recall the Naked Rambler. Corporate embrace of full nudity: I’d like to see it. Level the playing field. No more power coursing through expensive Italian fabric. I’m nude, you’re nude, let’s close this deal and go get drinks. High fives all around. See you at the bar.

lunchtime walk

A man who works in my building rides his bike across the street to the grassy patch in front of the seafood restaurant. There he sits on a portable chair and smokes cigars during his lunch break. I find this an interesting pastime.

People from other countries stroll on the promenade. I can usually spot them before I hear their foreign tongues. It’s usually the subtle or not-so-subtle differences in fashion that tip me off. Others just don’t look American at all. Something in their bearing or gait or facial expressions. Less fleshy and stupid looking.

Tourists swarm the place because it’s the high summer season. Overheard for real: “Should we do Hard Rock?” Imagined rest of conversation: “It’s so nice to go to other cities and see all our familiar places. If things were different it would be scary. Oh look, it’s the Cheesecake Factory. I hear they hate gays just like all my friends back home.”

Here we have the National Aquarium. It’s not like Sea World, but it still makes me think of that episode of The IT Crowd when Roy is dating a girl whose parents died in a fire at a Sea Parks (the fake British equivalent of Sea World). He becomes obsessed with figuring out how, with all that water around and considering the concrete stadium has a total of 12 exits, they could have possibly died in a fire. Much like all IT Crowd episodes, of which I’m not ashamed to say I’ve watched at least two if not three times each, it is hilarious. Of course it’s British. The mainstream American humor palate is so much less refined.

But I digress from my walk.

The harbor smells like a rancid cesspool. I hope the visitors bureau is working on that.

Many women walk around with babies attached to their chests like parasitic blobs.

I don’t walk long. It’s important to strike a balance. If I’m outside too long I feel worse when I go back in. However, at least the temperature in my office is no longer hovering in the subarctic range. That is a plus.

In the lobby I assess the elevator situation. I hate riding with other people in an elevator. I hate everything to do with elevator use, but I will not go into it all here. Building security keeps the stairs on lockdown so even though I only work on the third floor I’m supposed to ride the elevator every time. You can go down the stairs (not up), but according to the sign on the door you’re not supposed to do so unless it’s an emergency. This enrages me. I still go down them, as do others on my floor. Anyway, if there are a lot of people milling around waiting for an elevator I usually go to the other side, which is what I do today. I’m about to enter an empty elevator when a man comes running across the lobby. How can anyone be in such a hurry after lunch that they can’t wait two seconds for another elevator. I’m embarrassed for him. He chokes out a breathless ‘thanks’ before fiddling with his smart phone. They all do. Smart phone fiddling has replaced watching the floors light up on the sign above the door as ‘the’ activity to do in an elevator. I stare at the floor.

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