Protected: #433rds Day 11

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#433rds Day 10

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 10

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programmed to receive

Our handyman likes to call the toilet “the commode,” and it makes me happy every time he does it. He lies a lot: about when he’s coming back, about how much things cost, about being sick. (Heart attack one week, cancer another–he doesn’t do things by halves. Says he’s jaded, says he drinks 16 V8s a day.)

I’m talking in present-tense even though it’s been months since he’s visited. The bathroom is done and I miss him a little every time I look at the uneven plane of the floor.

I miss him enough, despite not liking him much, that I decided it meant I needed people. If I’m lonely—and I’m not sure that’s what this is—go to the library stacks to work around other bodies. So I did. It was perfect. Then a young man sat down at my table in a nostalgic mood. He was playing “Hotel California” on his iPhone, loud enough that I could hear its tinny strains through his headphones. By the fifth replay the air had become a Tiffany-twisted hellscape of wheedled beats.

Luckily the library’s bathroom is nicely architected. Solid, five stalls. Anteroom with a cushioned bench. Full-length mirror. Soap. Bathrooms are like fax machines in that technology should, by any reasonable definition of progress, have evolved beyond them, but nothing has replaced their almost unhackable concreteness. Their longevity is Victorian. It’s queenly. They’re better at what they do than headphones, and the few high-tech improvements we’ve attempted—circulating plastic on seats, automatic flushes, hand dryers–only mar a perfect thing. They’re singular and virtuosic, saxophones in the orchestra of rooms.

When I returned, the young man was packing his things to go. I could have stayed—the window light was beautiful, the stacks were full, some Fanny Burney letters were tempting me—but enmity is a point of connection, however marginal. We left together.

#433rds Day 9

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 9

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A nut and bot walk into a bar. The nut says, “hey, yew,” and the bot turns into an iron chicken. I slept for all but three hours today–the only exon in a day of junk DNA. Sugar hours, underwater mindjuice with tedious neverending storylines. I pried my eyes up with showers, a swanky belt, a tiny castle university, but I was Jonah and the jaws kept snapping shut. A nut and a bot walk into a bar. The barkeep is Mark Twain, who thinks he’s in an Austen novel because everyone in the bar is a Presbyterian. He tells the nut and bot that her characters are detestable. The bot asks him to tell them a story with a likable protagonist, so he tells them Sleeping Beauty. The nut’s into her cups by the time Twain finishes. She says, over her fifth white Russian, that she’d do a better job cutting through the thicket than the bot. They bot says don’t bet on it. Mark Twain offers to judge the contest. The Presbyterians rise up and kill Twain dead.

#433rds Day 8

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 8

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The model plane has skinny-man wings. They wouldn’t lift. If it were a man, its shirt would be squalid, dumpy as Eve Harrington’s hat. No guns there, maybe a feeble cropdust. I miss fraternizing with women who sew with bone. There’s nothing like beading, honing your sparkle, threading the tidy slight.

#433rds Day 7

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 7

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A new study suggests our brains conform to certain identical patterns of activity when we watch movies. It’s a cuff of a fact, starched independent of hand or sleeve.

Oscar Pistorius wept in court today and in photos you can see the veins of his straining neck as he tells Reeva’s parents how he feels. The theater of his vomit has garnered a lot of attention, but I’ve been doting on the truth value of his veins. (It’s ok! I’ve been invited to consider the pormenores of his body. He feels vulnerable without his legs. He has trouble sleeping.)

Pepita barfed today. Ashamed, she pulled her paws in.

No studies yet on brain patterns when we watch trials. A judicial, magnetic paisley, whorls of sameness they try to pin down into prints. Court fabricates consensus. It weaves bizarre propositions: premeditation is putting your legs on. Fear is legless.

The court adjourns so Oscar can sleep. Someone suggests  they amputate his arms. Justice weird as ozone, ambient, hole, toxic, turns blood into pounds, usurps free radicals: what discount if he liquefies into tears and vomit, turns his guilt into gruel?

The longest axon in the body runs from spine to toe. Our legs—when all our brains line up—are always last to know.

#433rds Day 6

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 6

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focus stacking

Back in the cycle of slime. Flash! Oh love, I’ve been avoidant. I’ve watched flash videos, completed flash courses, read about bouncing light off walls. Marooned myself on a guilt fort with a flash moat. Think Castle Crystalskull. When you fret about a mote of dust in a dead wasp’s eye, you know you’ve got problems. Glass, glass, all you see is glass. Try to look through. Try to stabilize. Read medicinally: the lucid novelistic profiles of gold miners. They do not help. The words thread and you feel their gentle vegetable draw but can’t meet their motion. You’re in a grabby mood. You want to have grown and written them.

But yours is a slippy-slow digest, a fleshy tube of work.

You’re bored with long exposures. Instantaneity’s the thing. Light’s what we want. You want so much to be a ray you’ve nearly done it: if you mounted yourself on a slide right now and looked under a microscope, you’d barely exist. Attention slips, lurches to the side. Your right temple feels like two raw wires joined and fritzing. Chase the lights and flash the underneck shadows! Mount. Panic. Sink. Bail. Ladle the errors out.

#433rds Day 5

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 5

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the piano teacher

The wasp from this morning still isn’t dead, but I’ve discovered the perfect breakfast: it’s three beignets and a coffee.

Things weren’t good before it. I remembered, the way you do when you’re climbing out of sleep and fall off a cliff, that I still hadn’t answered her invitation. It was issued indirectly, to my mother, which makes it hearsay. I never got it, I can think, or pretend to think, but it’s this: Be a guest of honor. Play at our concert. (The answer is a no, a wretched no, but how do you say “I can’t” to someone to whom you have never been able to say “no”, or “I have forgotten why we fought”, or “my life became sloppy without you”.)

To breakfast! What a mess our car is. Of course the radio is playing Liszt. Of course it’s a child prodigy. I shut the radio off before I can hear his voice.

We find a space. I scuff around in the gravel pit next to it while Aaron wrangles the parking meter and I almost drown in the drowsy pleasure of scuffing. “That’s like your version of a Japanese garden,” Aaron says. A bit of gravel surrounding a half-dead tree. There are cigarettes in it. Of course, I think, because before breakfast I exude self-pity and think in absolutes: it’s the undiscipline that set in after her. Ten years of regimented practice, of bows and drills and trips to Japan. I think I was once good at raking perfect rows in clean white sand. I know I was once good at balancing on curbs.

Childhood is sitting on curbs waiting for things. Fifteen minutes for a table, the waitress says, and we sit obediently. I used to go the three blocks to Linda’s for my lessons walking on curbs, counting the steps between the sidewalk slabs.

Over breakfast I think of grenadine, of Shirley Temples drunk at the bars where—as a kid—I sometimes played.

After breakfast we passed three liquor bottles in a tidy row in the gutter. The gravel next to our space is less magical now: the man who lives in front of it is raining angry blows on his window.

We get in the car and drive home with perfect stomachs.

The wasp is still dying. The dog still wants to fight it. I want it to die so I can light it properly, take some close-up shots of its flawless spotted eyes. These are the only circumstances in which a person can really enjoy coffee—heaps of powdered sugar on the dough next to it, to cut and cut the taste.

#433rds Day 4

April 4

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A blood gradient is what it sounds like: a Punnett square fading out towards one edge where the traits jog and skip generations like pixels printed apart. I’m getting divorced, the woman says. Everything in her café is red, and so is her hair—a purple red she has to keep redyeing. (I can’t wash it often, she says over a 2:00 Irish coffee [it’s been one of those weeks, she says]). She only has one daughter, aged six, who cries when she can’t decide what shoes to wear. I don’t understand it, the woman says. Her older two kids are boys. They’re easier. They just read. I nod as if I know this and compliment her skin. I never meant to run this place, she says. I just did the accounts. I don’t know quite what she means. We’ve met just as I’m becoming a regular and she’s becoming an owner. Neither of us is good at it yet. Her orchid hair clip is made out of the same material as a wetsuit, she explains, and the fuchsia veins are painted in. Blood doesn’t bite paper as hard—it’s how we read zoo captions over the apes without seeing our alleles, unbathed.

#433rds Day 3

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 3

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I finish a good book coasting on a triad of virtue: relieved and exultant and—because most endings tilt down in an elegant droop—sad. When a good show ends I’m just embarrassed. I get goosebumps. It’s involuntary like a blush, and I do tamp them down, but there’s a cost to that, a long flatness of response that needs time to rise more sensibly, like dough.

Then come the giant notions, ungainly as jet-sized grasshoppers: Is Doll and Em the Key to Friendship? I’ve never liked Amish friendship bread very much: too saccharine an offer, too broad and glad a hope. But there goes my brain, haplessly baking, hunting and pecking. I’ve spent today wanting to tear off pieces of this show and mail it to people in plastic bags for them to ferment in their kitchen corners. (With a note: Grow it into Dolls of your own!) It’s so weak, isn’t it, to feel passionately about a tv show? Weaker still when you’re forced to say. Explaining why without explaining why (oh my Doll) means tailoring the chills out, and that’s delicate mathematical business and my feelings are more like wasps hurling themselves at the front window. Hard to coax a swarm like that.

Populate your life with scenes from a show: at night you write about this show instead of your day because you spent it panicking quietly because good shows bleach out their borders until they get translucent and bleed through because they give rise to fantasies (did I tell you I got a digital pen?) like maybe, if I write exactly the right thing, I can punch through, put the cold shoulder on ice, make an offer. Hard to see Caliban liking Miranda, but let’s drink in a hot tub wearing old photos, see if the thing develops.

#433rds Day 2

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 2

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my grain

When a gray day breaks out of its dark
and toasts into a warm brown spot
the moves seem safer. But then you sprout
new lenses.
They open too wide
no matter how fast the shutter snaps
and down it all goes like a squall in porn, like soup.