Saturday, July 31, 2004

Prairie Soul for the Familiar Harvest

It's Heartland baha'i school here at Bradley which is a very special time for me...Williams cafeteria where I eat lunch at during the school year plays host to the bookstore. Uncle Mike gives elcetric, humble speeches teeming with gumdrop anecdotes. This morning I was priveledged (Blessed) to work with youth culled from all over Illinois. We trimmed bushes at the center and I listened to their stories. I asked them queries. How did your parents hear about the faith? What was it like growing up beneath the aura of the teachings? Mona just came back from a devout year of service in Belgium and is contemplating studying psychology at U of I. Anna is homeschooled and her dad was offered a job in Hafia, only he turned it down because of family.Twins Ben and Mark playfully mauled me when I went to lunch. And Brilliant Andrew, a thirteen year old chess savant and also a DIRE Cub fan, assisted me in devising our 'secret' handshake. He told me that he hopes to get his Doctorate in Civil Engineering (which he importantly informed me will be twelve years of school) unless he makes the roster of a professional soccer team.

I heard all about the peacokcs in Baji. The fragrant-scent tithed by a single Israeli rose stemmed outside the master's shrine.

I heard about the House of Worship in Germany and in Somoa. I heard about the Guardian's grave in London.

I met a cool young married couple from Aurora who just became baha'i in the last year. They were an interracial smile...thread filched from a seraphim's garment...sort of imagine Othello with a friendly raucous gentle spring thunderstorm of a laugh and Desdamona sloughing her histrionics, not afraid to hold her husbands hand and give it a squeeze in public. We were pulling weeds at the center and the husband just couldn't stop laughing. At his own foibles "Oh..That's what Poison Ivy looks like." He just couldn't stop offering a steep, hearty chuckle. It was almost like the concourse was pouring out their verbal orchestrations and smiles using this man's voice as a filter.

As always, I get their stories. I salivate for their narratives. Her first husband had died of cancer and she found a Baha'i book at Barnes and Nobles of all places. He had heard about the faith when he lived in Urabana, ironically at a junior high school where she used to teach at. Even more so ironic (TC SMILES) they had grown up within a three blocks of other and NEVER recall seeing the other before they themselves were spiritually doused with blankets from the light.

I tell them my stories too. Tell them how Uncle Mike found me when I was drinking heavily, stirring up fatuous sentences for my first novel. Tell him how Uncle Mike would just appear. Tell them about how I wasn't allured to the faith at first, how I honestly thought it was about some guy named "Bob" who was martyered for trying to collate a thesis that all religions were essntially one giant integer set in the shape of a Persian sunrise.

I tell them how I was afriad of Mike. How, when I purposefully turned off my cell phone and "forgot" about the Naw Ruz dinner three years ago ( I was more scared than anything) Mike went out of his way to find me afterwards, handing me covered leftovers.

I tell them how I inexplicably dialed Mike the night of my father's passing. "Can't hurt," I joked with my friends who held me up at my father's deathbed. I told them how Mike called me back fifteen minutes later. How he told me that he had said prayers and how he had phoned several other Bahai's in the area and that they had said prayers of passing as well.

I told them about how apprehensive I was and still to this day overall scared shitless about my mother ever finding out about my spiritual propensities.

"My mom has all the virtues down. She's on a baptist binge. The only thing that would really occlude her from ever seeing what I see is the jargon. The lexicon."

"The kingdom will not come by expectation....The Kingdom of the Father is spread out amongst the land and men do not see it."
Gospel of St. Thomas

What a blessing to have found this! All this!!! To still find it every day, all new, inside, so lovely.

As I waited for Mike in the student center of the college I work for, the school that has milked my emotional mettle; the school who this weekend becomes amicable host to middle-age men in polo shirts and glasses, their nametags drooping down from their necks; their junior-high daugters experimenting with hair-dye and crushes. As I watch the masses slink into the atirum, toating backpacks and brief cases, ferrying smiles, forming a gentle trainwreck outside the cafeteria, I could feel it, COULD FEEL IT, palpably tugging inside my chest, a feeling of fathomless warmth skidding down from my neck, coating my entire flesh with an impenetrable golden slant; a feeling of union. A feeling of timelessness, a feeling of oneness, a feeling of plurality-- we are just at the dawn of something both mystical and practical and we are witnessing the glorious rise of the global orb together. What a blessing to have been chosen. What a blessing to have been found!






Friday, July 30, 2004

Sister Schandenfreude

Just wanted to send a shot of gratitude out to my friend Chrissy --she's one of Swissy-Missy's main girls-hence the obvious 'sy' connection. I was feeling really downtroden and depressed this morning (mostly after looking at my check) and then, who appears, viola, blithe, light hearted, mercurial ray of sunshine Chrissy.

Thanks girl, you splashed a shot of sunshine on my day. Oh, and sorry about the trampoline joke.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Paddington Chorus

Zipping my way into craggily conciousness. After I lost my contacts in my Mom's blue ribbon award winning weed-bin last week, I endeavored to blindly frisk the landscape in idle search for my visual assets. No such luck. Ended up with an horrific case of Poison Ivy instead that I've successfully scratched the hell out so now it looks like I have second degree burns, little oily scabs, festering volcanic archipelagos dotting the inside of my arms.

"Didn't you ever hear 'If it's three let it be?'" Said my mom to me last night, while I was busy baptzing my limbs in hydrogen peroxide.

"If it's four, roll one more." I nasally- slur wobbling my head, pretending to be stoned. My mom always swipes her head like a stunted windshield wiper, insinuating that above all things, I'm foremost incorrigible.

Even though my limbs are almost always adorned in long sleeves or slacks, the coated rash seems to be quite conspicuous. Exactly six patrons have already stared at me with tilted chins and vexed cubist expressions as they continually inquire, "What happened to your arm?"    

"Leprosy." I say. "Last time I ever skinny dip in the nuclear dells area of the Illinois River."

I even had one guy, a purported physcian or something, grapple my wrist like he was going to plop down on one knee and propose. He scrutinized my unctuous pond rash, looked at me, offered a grainy smile and then turned around briskly. He then walked off without offering assesments or closure , holding his head very erect and high, like a Marine inching his last chin-up over a bar.

"Oh this. I don't know. It was an anniversary present from my ex-wife. She's a scratcher and she sometimes bites during certain lunar cycles."

I used to get what I would justifiably classify as 'Writers Welts'....I would hunch my upper body like a question mark over my smith-corona and furiously peck out bread crumb sentences, hoping to mix a metaphore amd successfully bake a solid image in the process. Sometimes I would chain-smoke (ahhhh...the glorious smoker era)...I would get these Quazzimoto styes, my eye would flap into its skull and tumesce to the size of ping-pong balls. It was like a cocoon or an Indian Mound was brecching out from my socket.

The emergency room always gives me antibiodics. My landlady Clare always asked me if I got hit. My art teacher purposefully huffed out his sentences like a Rockey movie and then requested the name of the unfortunate Apollo who I apparently mauled.

And my Mom, of course, is just like whatever. I should have told her it was a mark of cain or something.

"Welt? Rash? I don't know what you're talking about."

One of the things that imminently attracted me to the beauitful-fool in the failed Swissy-Missy campaign was that Melissa (her real name) was born a triplet with a distinctive birthmark on her face. The way she explained it, half her face looked like the infield of a minor league baseball park. It was like a cratered mole which she had laser surgery to rectify the facial impediment.  If you look closely at the porcelain edges of her face, you can make out the remnants from the laser suture. I always told her that I loved looking at that fracture of her forehead becasue that made her who she was....it identified her. It only added to her beauty. It was like looking at an actual Claude Monet and finding his inky signature dawdled in the bottom corner of the canvas. 

"Yeah, I know my arm kinda looks like an aerial view of Long-Island during the apocalypse. Thanks for verifying something so painfully overt."

I remember Missy telling me that, what was hardest with regards to her face was that when she was getting her hair done or lounging at a day spa, one of the older workers would come up to her and be like, "Sweetie what the hell happened to your face?"

"That, I dunno. Probably gangrene. Here, why don't you lick it and find out what it does to your tongue."

Then there was my boy Razdawg....coolest cat you ever seen in your life.  Razdawg has elephanitis, which means that one of his legs looks kind of like an axed trunk, something out of which a very irked Lorax would hatch. Razdawg mechanically scoots around in this red wheel chair. He kind of looks like retro-late seventies variation of Steven Hawking with Lipton tea colored skin, a bushy afro and a cool black jacket. The first time I saw RazDawg I couldn't help but stare forever at the sight of his leg. A stuffed club; a granite trunk leaking from his torso in a pendulous dinosaur fashion. After a day of knowing him, it was soemthing I hardly noticed anymore.  

"Need help." I first said to him last summer, when he whizzed into the library. He couldn't fit his landrover  at the computer station, so he sat down crosslegged on the carpet. I went and found a cushy chair he could lounge on to feel more comfortable. Razdawg just looked up at me, a quizzical grin strched between his lobes.

"Bro, I been doin' this shit my whole life." He said, taking a generous breath and using my arm as a rail to uphold his weight.

Razdawg began to frequent the library. He would stop by my desk shortly after opening and offer me a what-up. If he needed help getting in and out of the restrooms he would let me know. Whenver there was an obstacle or a physical hurdle he wouold smile and say, "Bro, I been doin' this shit my whole life."

He'd also tell me all about his girls. Apparently when he wasn't in the library he was out "gettin' some."

"Man those girls down at the Underground last night, all I can say is....damn." Razdawg told me one morning, in my cubicle, his hair slightly tousled.

"Do all the girls down there like guys in wheelchairs." I say, grinning, taking generous a.m. swigs from my Starbucks cylinder.

"Shit, bro..." Razdawg said. "You know all the girls down there be all over me because they think that my leg is..." Razdawg stopped, looked down into his elephantis-riddled appendage. "Well...you KNOW what all the girls be thinkin' my leg is."

He blushed. I volleyed a smile in his direction. It was the only time I had ever heard Razdawg casually mention his handicap.

*

"I don't know what happen to my arm. Here, why don't you examine my choice finger and tell me what you see,"

*

Eventually Razdawg became somewhat of a nussaince. He made it a point to purposefully apply the breaks to his wheel chair and ogle the backside every female that lugged their backpack past him. No one else in the library wanted to be seen sitting down next to him, so I was often called in to remind him that incessant on-linepornographic viewing was illegal.

"I know man but I was just trying to check my e-mail and it popped up."

"It's all cool Razdawg. You know it doesn't bother me. Just don't view it here."

"Man, it just popped up! How they gonna say something to a brother who's just trying to write his mom an e-mail when 'this' pops up."

"'This'  looks a lot like Tifany Taylor." I said. "I never knew your Mom was Miss October."

"That's misses October now, she's married."

"Turn it off." I said, placing a palm over my lips to conceal my smile trying to pawn off coifed americana professionalism as I walked back to my carrol, Razdawg muttered his way into complacency.

"Yo-kay. y0-kay, yo-kay. Get all upset at a brother just cause he's trying to be a good son and say hi to his mother every once in a while."

This was August 2003. I had been living with Uncle Mike for about four months although I was hardly ever home becasue I was always working.  I had a killer August, devoting myself to ten single space pages a day for my novel. I would start writing at 8 and have around six solid pages at noon, and continue to chisel out sentences into the nocturnal hours.  At the end of every day I would print out the pages and save it on a different floppy. At the end of every week I would seclude myself and try to figure out what direction the narrative engine was chugging. One week I was betrayed by a co-worker (a co-worker whom I had taken to the emergency room a week earlier when he had sparined his ankle in a pick-up game). Suddenly the whole office was agog with gossip, concerning a faculty member I briefly dated. I yelled at my co-worker walked outside, bought a forty ounce for Todd the Bum who spent last summer living undeneath Swords Hall and continued to march home in disgust.

At the corner of Bradley Avenue and Institute, I loosened the silk albatrose around my neck and saw Razdawg shuffling in his wheelchair. A small baby carriage toated behind him, like a circus caboose. I immediately walked over to him.

"What the hell."

"Bitch says I got start taking responsibility for my actions." Razdawg says, steering his caravan down the center of the street.

"Here," I said, unbuckeling the baby carriage from behind his wheel chair. There was a six-week old child with beautiful mocha skin.

"Is this yours." I inquired to Razdawg, pushing the carriage.

"Y'igh guess.' He said, very nonchalantly, headed towards the library.

"What's his name." I said, glancing between Razdawg and his progeny.

"Hell if I know. Hell if I ever see him. Bitch just said 'here'. Said she was going out of town and that I gots to start bein' more responsible with my life."

We headed back to the library. To this day the irony floors me. All my co-workers are gossiping about my love life and I walk in ferrying a child in a carriage. Unbeleivable. 

*

"Oh what's this. I don't know. I was in chemistry class this morning and I must have confused the coffee with the hydraulic acid. Pretty soon my entire face will look like this. It's a good thing you're attratced to me as a person."

*

Razdawg continued to verbalize his advances and unbidden libidinous desires towards any female who strutted past him. A female student walked up and admired his kis and he would start calling her baby asking her where she had been all of his life. I would get called out two three times a day to remind him that viewing porn was not acceptable on our computers. He would smile and tell me that he wa just trying to check his e-mail. 

"Another Razdawg complaint, Dave. Go over there and talk to him." Fellow boss Drea would tell me several times nightly.

"Drea, he's personally harmless. He's benign. He's not gonna hurt anyone. He's just got a whole lotta love." 

"Do something." Drea deemed. "Everytime I walk over to him he just stares at my boobs and says "damn" and talks openly about my ass. Plus I can't stand the sight of that god damn leg. That's personally offensive to my vision. Can't he just have that amputated or something."

"It's not like a boob job Drea." I specifically remember getting pissed at her for talking about Razdawgs leg like it was a serperate from his body. "I mean, how owuld you feel if that was you, if your body turned against you like that and you couldn't even govern the taxing growth of your own limbs."

"He could still govern his tongue and you need to talk to him again, I think he's looking at porn."

So of course, I went. Out of my twenty or so co--workers I was the only one who wasn't afraid to go near him. Razdawg recognized my enervated gait as I lumbered over to the computer lab. His lascivious grin morphed into an austere hyphen and he swiftly began clicking the mouse pad.

"Razdawg, whatcha doing?" I said.

"Shhhh." Razdawg vertically positioned his pointer fingers up to his face. with his free hand he offered a few more clicks. he then pointed to his child.

"He's sleeping." Razdawg said. "Isn't he beautiful."

I held my breath. Drea was tapping her foot at the circulation desk, waiting for me to lambaste Razdawg.

"You know bro, I was pretty drunk and I don't even know if the kids mine, but, damn, he sure is precious."

I nodded me head. I slapped him on the back before returning to my post.

"Did you tell him this is his last warning?" Drea asked me.

"Yeah," I said, lying. "I told him. I told him this is the last time before we called the police."

*   

"Rash. No. Let me tell you something, I'm a human being who is only renting out a body suit for a terse period of time.  Do you wanna know what I'll look like in fifty years? In sevety years for sure? I'll look like little grains of soil. I'll be dust. Everything that I ever paid such meticulous attention to when I stare in the mirror in the morning will be wedged into a little rectangle and planted--physically planted back into the earth. That said, why the hell are you looking at me like that? Is that all you can see?

*

"The Campus police want to talk you." My boss said. It was ten in the morning, and I had already finished page siz of my daily quota.

"Why," I ask.

"They want to ask you about Raymond Tissler. Apparently he has a little bit of a history as well. I've been telling you this for months."

"Sorry," I say staring back at my heaped paragraphs. "I don't know anyone by that name."

"Sure you do," My boss said. "You of all people know him."

"Raymond Tissler? Not a clue." I said, returning to my work.

"We finally threw him out last night. You know ass-hole in the wheel chair with the fucked up leg." My boss said, just like that.   

I look at my boss and remain silent. I go and talk to the police. After they are done interrogating me I over hear my co--workers chatting. They might as well be clinking champagne. One of them says, "Thank God we got him out of here. I couldn't stand the sight of his leg."
















Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The difference between two squares is not a menthol....

In the very early-eighties, when I was a shin-high innocuous eyed snotty nose little moppet who was just learning the Lord's Prayer prior to the alphabet, Mom would buckle me into the car seat of our mackerel-flavored station wagon as she guzzled around town attending errands. Wedding snapshots framed from August of '72 show Mom looking like the daughter of a mafia "He's-a-freind-o-mine" bussiness mongrel. Her skin was graced with a gentle olive tint. Her black licorice hair was one long exotic drape skiing down her back. Mom was a Lutheran elementary school teacher and was on loan from Conocrdia Riverforest doing her student teaching in Peoria, where she met my father.

God love my old man. He wore black framed glasses and had a mop of curly black hair. Sometimes he sported a thick beard (he would have accelerated reading contests with his kids at school and if they read a certain number of books, Dad would volitionally shave his beard in front of the whole school!) Dad was thirty when I was born and was twenty-four when he and mom married. They were married exactly 29 1/2 when he died.

Dad was gangly and goofy. He was modest. He spent thirty years teaching fourth graders. He led the class in AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL every morning. He would get offended by vulgar language and televised nudity. Instead of saying the word "shit" or "damn" when he was emotionally irked, he'd say the word "crow".The only time in my life I can ever remember my father crying was two weeks before his death, it was the day he was diagnosed with cancer and I snuck back into the hospital after hours to see him. It was maybe nine at night. Dad was in his bed. He told me very calmly not to worry. He told me that he had his faith. He then asked me to hand him the phone. When I did he tapped in the number to his school secretary and told her that he would have to take a week off. That he was sick. She was concerened and kept asking dad what was wrong. At that moment Dad's face just fell apart in tears. I think he knew that he was going. I think he knew that he was saying goodbye to friends and co-workers. That he was saying goodbye to the three deacdes of students.

Dad then gave me the phone. I told him that I loved him and he told me that he had his faith. Told me that he'd be fine. He then asked me a favor.

"I need you to take care of your mom."

*

Rather than Lee or Wranglers, Dyslexia is the pair of jeans both my father and I share. Every time you see a 'teh' typo, know that that's how the word 'the" appears in my head. When I was a kid and was maternally mandated to rinse my germy paws off before dinner, I always told my mom that I washed my hands thoroughly with LAID-or DIAL soap. Not bad for a five year old.

My dad always wanted to write. He often would submit editorials to the Urinal Jar (Journal Star, Peoria Newspaper). The coolest thing my father did growing up (although I didn't appreciate it until my mid-twenties) was that he read to his children. Every night after dishes, dad would prop open a literary tome compliments of scholastic books and read to his three children--doing all the voices. To this day Dad's indelible Dawn Treader raspy-pitched Reepicheep ranks only second to his perfectly-peeped Lloyd Alexander curious-voiced Gurgi. Everyone loves a Gurgi because Gurgi " loves crunchies and munchies."

Dad would adjust his weight in the old rocker we refurbished, toating his voice back and forth, sawing ideas and sculpting stories into fledgling mindframe of his young students. At the begining of every night Dad would always do what he called an "instant replay," He would read teh (or "the") final paragraph of the previous chapter. Hs kids would offer typical pre-adolescent grouse.

"Dad you already read that." Us kids would point out in a nightly anomolous squeal, all to anxious for my father to finish reading so that we could have our indivualized ideas uprooted compliments of the 'one hour' of mostly public television we were allowed to watch everynight.

"I know," My dad would say, clicking his tongue in his mouth for suspended affect. "It's time for a little, In-stant Re-play."

*


I've been thinking about my dad because Booma Jaspers who works at teh (the) University bookstore handed me a poloroid this morning of my family in the very late seventies. It was an easter egg hunt at my old church. My face was unblemished and inocent and I bore alter-boy bangs. I am in the center of the picture holding my easter egg basket, looking curiuosly at life through the filmy-yellow poloroid tongue that emits from Booma's face. My mom cut her hair while I nested in her womb and growing up, she almost always wore a kercheif. My Mom is pointing at the spring soil like she has never seen grass. My father is holding my sister. He is down on one knee, fixing her outfit. He is wearing a cool-retro style hat I have never seen before.

"Dude man." My friend Nick the writer told me this afternoon when I whipped out the double-decade old print. "He certainly looks like a man of charachter."


Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Curve ball...

Still no luck with loans (or vision)...plus EVERYONE at work are acting like royal dickwads today.

Oh well,  donned the black-leather and orange facial apartus, sucked in my "gimp" pride and sent out submissions last night. Bottom of the ninth. Bases loaded, and Dickwad is throwing me a curve.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Corky dregs of a wandering intellect...

I both look and feel like I just went several rounds with Muhammad Ali in his prime. Strutted ever so--confidentally into the financial aid office today, feeling like I had my whole entire corpus of my cusped literati offerings cheering me on in the pell-mell behind the striped ropes. Nope. Got a financial TKO in the first round. Ouch. That has to hurt. Got up. Spat out blood disguised as financial burden. Motioned with my gloves to bring 'em on. I apply for an alternative loan. The butterfly floated ever so gingergly. The bee injected it's venomous syringe with an indelible sting to the jaw. I can't remember if the canvas of reality propped up and smacked me in the temple or if I was simply planted into the center of the ring, the taut soil of the canvas slowly transitioning into a corpse;  a wan colored cone crowned my defeated aura like a dunce cap. The crowd continued to pelt out invectives. My equilibrium tottered and slid. I heard the Ref. (whose head, in this scenario resembles Michelangelo's nickel-bearded God) splayed his arm like a toll-both and gruffly beagn to work his way up to ten. I realized that several of my teeth were missing. I looked into the audience and saw the girl of my dreams wearing a low-cut denim skirt and sitting on the knee-cap of my best friend. I saw little cukoo-birds fluttering into a collective halo above my head and whistle out failure. Once again, I heave myself up from the base of the my adversaries trussed boots. I spit. Vertigo has sliced my opponent into three, so now Mr. Ali is the trinity. I don't know which one to hit. The voice of God slices my carousel concentration and beckons me to "fight".  Log on to Citi loans. Engender a password with uppper case font. Submit my drivers license and yearly income.  Submit multiple phone numbers. Submit references.Submit desired amount of loan needed. Swing my arm the direction of the smudged opponent. Swing again. I think about my father and rememebr him telling me in the formative big-glasses little-league era that  it didn't matter to him if I struck out as long as I struck out swinging. As long as I firmly grappled the steel baton and took an earnest heave at the bullet sphere hurtling in my direction. As long as I swung the bat, as long as I put myself out there, it didn't matter if I circled the bases in glory or ignominously lumbered back to cold socket of the dug out pinned in adolescent agony--all that mattered was that you swing the bat, and that you physically swatted everything that is inside you and emptied yourself over home plate. That's all that mattered.   

The red sentence pops up as if it were kept in a music box, denying me access. I see the red gloss of the sucker punch before I am gulped into unconciousness. As if underwater I hear the ref wade through prime numbers until he reaches double digits. I am considered the loser. I speculate where my best friends paws might have migrated.

But no. I don't give up. The match is officially over. I spit. I can't see straight. I've been hit more times than a joint at woodstock and all I can say is bring it on!!! Is that the best you have to offer. Come on! A ring isn't something you place on your finger daily to remind yourself of a palsied promise; it's a place you live inside of. It's a place you never leave.

And Michangelo's God just looks at me like I'm crazy. Like I'm nucking futs. Like I'm a dervish drooling adages no one can spirtually intuit. Like I'm the devil. Like I'm completely crazy. Like, even though I've been pelted down, I still want to continue to dual, feeling that, as long as I can savor any morsel of consciouness, I am immortal.

Three right clicks and two cigarettes later, I found another web page. Another loan. It looks promising. I buy books prematurely for class. I blogg defeated woes. I think about how it feels to be depleted, to get knocked down on your ass, to watch your best friend grope the perfect palm of the girl who scatters your dreams with sugar.   

And how you look out at them only you can't see them. You've been hit too many times. You've been cut open and every one can see your every bruise. Your every minor welt.

You still refuse to go down for the count. You still refuse to go down, to go down without a punch. To go down without swinging. 










Sunday, July 25, 2004

Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is just the train at the other end

"...Orpheus was so sad about the loss of his love that he composed music to express the terrible emptiness which pervaded his every breath and movement. He was so desperate and found so little else meaningful, that he decided address Hades. As the overseer of the underworld, Hades heart had to be hard as steel, and so it was. Many approached Hades to beg for loved ones back and as many times were refused. But Orpheus' music was so sweet and so moving that it softened the steel hearted heart of Hades himself. Hades gave permission to Orpheus to bring Eurydice back to the surface of the earth to enjoy the light of day. There was only one condition--Orpheus was not to look back as he ascended. He was to trust that Eurydice was immediately behind him. It was a long way back up and just as Orpheus had almost finished that last part of the trek, he looked behind him to make sure Eurydice was still with him. At that very moment, she was snatched back because he did not trust that she was there. When you hear music which mourns lost love, it is Orpheus' spirit who guides the hand of the musicians who play it...."

-The story of Orpheus and Eurydice, as told by Thomas Bulfinch. 

I've been thinking a lot about the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice lately, mostly because these last two weeks, I've been visually dampened in darkness (Hades), trying to fish my way out using my own voice. I've been shuffeling through old songs, spelunking through caravans of expired thought, padding through Pandora's lingerie drawer in search of a gift from cupid, cannonballing in the Thames, holding my breath under waterfalls, counting to ten. I've been frolicking around Eden's playground, afraid of being slapped by pliable wrists, afraid of being tagged and eternally addressed as "It," in a locked halcyon garden where Knowledge is forbidden and naivete is treasured.....

The myth of orpheus creeps open in my daily narrative. After trudging through the bowels of our own individualized rendition of Hades, after lowering ourselves, limb by staggering limb into a foreign milieu in order to retrieve that "beauty" which was once ours, that vision of possibility we once caressed, forever tersely; after bartering with Satan, after feeling my beloved's breath against my neck for the first times in years and spending seemingly endless months 'ascending', out of patched darkness and into the refulgent diadem of light,  after,  just when the golden atmospherical socket of reality is starting to herald the promise of pulchritude-- what do I do? I look back and perenially lose the grasp of my reward..... 

Alright, I hate feeling sullen. I'm trying to accumulate enough confidence in myself to strut confidently into Swords Hall tomorrow (where My Grandma worked for over thirty years) and beg for more money next semester....of course I'll get it, that's what student loans are for....
Part of my sour health stems from a time when I refused to 'get further in the hole' and insisted on working multiple jobs full time to support my academic habbit.  Looking back, cocaine would have been far less taxing to future credit bureaus.

I should feel more comfortable. The last two times I've requested funds the 'brother' (ahem) who is in charge of that department invited me over to his house for dinner, telling me that when he was my age, he never missed the opportunity to eat a free male...(smiles)

Money is such a weird thing. You're pretty much screwed if you have it and screwed if you don't. College is probably the worst financial investment an eighteen year old currency-dependent americanite can toss themselves into. I went to a horrible, simply awful highschool (where of course, if it wasn't so bad, I wouldn't have started writing) and monopolized a $1000 scholarship on a girl (Thank you Before Sunrise--of course, having your wayfarrying heart butchered at dreamy 19 is simply mana from heaven in terms of literati-experiences; it all but makes you immortal. I felt like Jack Kerouac when I got home). 

Things are looking better...when I'm not off sulking I can write an ok tune and I've been told by other prof's that I'm virtually guaranteed a free ride into certain MFA programs, which makes me feel happy.....

The real gift (considering the loan goes through, which of course, it will) is that, this semester I have the opportunity(for the first time ever) to be a FULL TIME COLLEGE STUDENT.... I can study and write full time without having to scan bar codes and make change behind a cash register or working til four am everymorning and cram (or bullshit) exams...I'm so thankful for this opportunity........fifteen hours of class and less than twenty hours a week of work!!!! It almost seems unreal!

Now, if only I can get myself to swords Hall.....  



Saturday, July 24, 2004

Freight Train...

Burning up both ends of the workaholic candle and I've completely incinerated the wick prior to sopping up all the wax. Still in my incubating period where the world is a steady accumulation of hawked smudges and feigned blurs. Met a beautiful young writer this morning who has seen me everywhere and who I once again do not remember ever having met. She told me that she saw me at RAVE last night and I said no, informed her that I hadn't been to a hard-core rave in like five years, relayed to her the whole scenario about having tryadic-male ponytail duplicates roaming all over town and then (duh) remembered that the theatre Mike and I went to last night to see Bourne Supremacy was called Rave! Duh. Daniela, myself and arya seem to be different rungs on the same spirtual coiled DNA strand and whenever I accumulate the gall to inform Uncle Mike about the 'plurality' spawned by our cyber-rapport he just looks at me like double-duh, his eyes little pekowskies behind his spectacles, telling me that's the way it's suppose to be, and it's our own individual ego that projects spiritual universality into being a big deal.  

Maybe it's not a big deal but it's nice when it happens...especially nice considering how commercially posh and globally accelerated our planet has become in such a short period of time.
One more week of farsighted nausea.  Ever since my father died suddenly (misdiagnosed cancer as Chrommes disease) and I was misdiagnosed a week after his death ( I had a broken foot, they diagnosed it as gout) I've totally despised going to clinics. Hate it! It's like your wheeled into the planet under the hard-lights, ammonia scented tiles of the hospital and then they wheel you back in while your wizended with some disease that could be cured only all our funds are being siphoned to riddle other nations with wounds.....Screw it....I'm a realist....Just think what our country would be like if they would show our own citizens suffering every night on televion.....victims of cancer and HIV...Can you imagine president Bush holding up a heavily fonted newspaper headline saying WE FOUND A CURE.....optimist ( or at least a visionary)...yes....yes, but I'm also a realist. If we can genetically clone a mammal, we can cure diseases that have been proven to have been deployed as weapons of mass detriment already planted here within the borders of our own nation.  

My danders shot up cause I'm exhausted and can't see. Today's the birthday of my youngest sibling Jenn (23) as well as "YOU-SO-CRAZY-DAVEEEEEED" Jasna, (24). Jasna sent me a poem a month back to which I emialed her the address of the short-story I previously blogged.

She hasn't written me back since.


Thursday, July 22, 2004

Radio Frequency for a summer afternoon....

After following the ticklish tug of the feathery-voice last night, arriving home for a long over due, any decade-now-you-can-get-some sleep (but why sleep if you have freetime)... I found the house flooded with bahai's....my personal narratives seriously plays host to a lack of intrigue and surprise b/c either one of two things will inevitably occur. A.) Swissy-Missy will inexplicably show up with boyfriend in tow and say something to me, only a visual handicap hinders me from connecting fully with her or B.) Something straight out of the blogg will manifest itself, from the square canvas of the computer to the corporeal canvas of creation,  spirit disguised beneath the winged creature of voice and breath. I haven't seen Swissy since earlier this week which means -bing bing bing bing bing-Bee is the correct answer.

Meandered home completely drained, optically-addled and fatigued. Mike sort of slapped a Welcome Matt for the entire human race at our doorsteps...he initially unearthed the faith through a cool couple with door knobs culled straight from Denny's  (they were always open)...so now our hut serves as a little spiritual safehaven where people come over and chew the cud of their travels...(Uncle Mike tried to have all this new age "relaxing" crystal music playing but I told him "Enough with the damn Rivendale chimes, alright.")  

Last night Gary was talking about the time of the he met the Guardian's wife in Maryland where he also mentioned a certain dwarfish, golden rhetorical-voiced professor who held a certain Baha'i chair and I'm nodding my head, assenting, like 'whatever" and then...hmmmm.....I wonder.... 

Mike also has a bootleg (although I've yet to hear it) of this particular prof. chanting THE FIRE TABLET.

For some reason (My hardcore JK ROWLINGS predeliction... her lucid prose and enchanting persona deems her the sexiest Childrens writer of all time) everytime I think of the World Peace Conferance I picture it as being a spiritual Hogwarts Haven (b/c daniela's terra ferrma is magical) with eccentric-eyed professor's and enlightening lectures sculpting malleable minds...Maybe once arya returns, she'll remember to bring me back home a broomstick.......

  





Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Tickle

The world is still a cloudy fingertip swirl. Human beings have transitioned into blurred banners with dissipating limbs.  My chin protrudes almost a  whole foot closer to the staticky canvas of the computer screen, stamping my forehead with an anvil-heavy headache come days end. The keyboard is littered with twisted alphabetical insects that keep leaping keys. Contacts are en route, but I'm revelling in my incubation period--a time when I have to squint to see clearly, a time when both my wit and acuemen are not as keen. A time to allow the emotional chunky creative field inside my chest to fallow and fertilize and eventually harvest.

I was shuffling through the latest edition of National Geographic today, reading an article about the thermnoclear hearth known as the sun:

"By big-time galactic standards, our star is quite undistinguished. Sure, it's so huge that a million Earths would fit comfortably inside. And it's so dense that the sunbeams you see today began their journey from the center of the sun before the last ice age, taking hundreds of thousands of years to elbow their way out to the glowing photosphere before making the 8-minute, 93-million-mile (150-million-kilometer) trip across space to your eyes."

I was rustling the pages when I realized that I've always had a hard time looking at photographs of our snug solar generator....even on television. If I see a close-up of the sun beaming on NOVA  I feel like my eyes will swell and pop into refulgent glorious blindness.

I wonder if this fear, this apprehensive of being close, so close to the actual generator of the light is what stymies my own proximity with a godhead? Is what thwarts me from harnessing the reins of my creative stagecoach and whupping the dream carriage into an eternal gallop? 
 
Of course, I'm sure I'll be able to see clearly once my lenses arrive. There is no way in hell I'd live to see double digits if I were living in this continent three-hundred summers ago and had to tacitly depend on my sight for survival....how the hell I am going to spot and target a bison when I have a hard time making out my shoe strigs?

*

Previous siblings who have shared bunks with me in the formative toddler era are well aware that I'm the most ticklish lad alive. I make elmo squeals sound  like an aria. When I was a no largder than the size of a fire-hydrant Doctor visits were hell because everytime the nurse practitioner would thump down on the hollowness of my lower stomach, I would immediately begin to jowl in screeches.  My sister Beth (also the biter) would lash out her pointer finger in the direction of my abdomen from across the room and I would end up writhing in feigned titillating tears. She wouldn't even touch me, she would just point.

To the menatlity of both my Mara and my achilles, this psychological tickle wand is still quite efficient toady, as my crazy sister 'Blabber-Mouth "thanks for telling mom about the pot brownies" Beth is well aware of .

"Oh, Dave, look. What do we have here? Under my hand. Oh, no--could it be our little friend." 

Beth brandished her pointer finger across the holiday table in my direction. I errupt in laughter.

"Oh, no, Dave. Look at our little friend. Don't you want to play with our little friend?"

Somehow (?) Uncle Mike found out about my pointer-finger phobia (pointophobe). Uncle Mike just got royally screwed over by our last landlord and, as a creative retort, I engender this weird morbid soap opera titled WHO KILLED MAXIMILLIAN ZERVO (the name of our Italian ex-landlord).

During the last months, while we were moving, I would always commence with my WHO KILLED MAXIMILLIAN ZERVO schtik whenever we would move a rolled carpet or burrow boxed of books into a trunk of the car. Could Maximillian's body be in here? Everyone's ia suspect." I say, like I was talking about awounded J.R. in the mid-eighties.

"Stop that." Michael would always scoff at my mawkish humor and then one day, out of nowhere...bam....Michael orhestrated his pointer finger in my direction and quickly slashed a crisp slice of air and the next thing I know I am wailing with laughter.

Guess the concourse has a cookbook of lunar- phobias they allow only the finest participants to peruse. 

 I also keep hearing that feathery- tickled voice brushing off the still-life dust motes inside  my chest. The voice tells me to write. To write all the time. To not worry about what anyone says (let them worry about there own mock masterpieces) but to pour myself on to the contours of the page everyday, as much as I can. That feathery-tickle voice tells me to write for the school paper this pending semester. It tells me that I should read all ten of the course books for my modern fiction class in August (and peck out synopsis and possibly paper outlines for each) and concentrate on my senior projects, grad school applications, killer short stories and smooching with Hollywood pell mell in my screenwriting class that I take via LA satelitte.

The feathery voice also told me to sketch a docu-drama about william miller and call it THE KINGDOM WILL NOT COME BY EXPECTATION.

"You'll do a good job because you'll be divorced from it." The little sparrow voice chirps.

The title of the docu-drama is culled from a quote from Jesus from the (historically versacious) gospel of St. Thomas. 

(And this is a pending Joseph Campbell exegesis so watch out)

In Mark 13 the Christ's disciples inquire about the end of the world in terms of an prophetic red-calender apocolyptic event.

"Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.
Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. "

Well that generation came to pass and the end of the world did not arrive so this passage was traditionally intuited as a mataphore...as if Christ was talking about the 'race' of mankind as a wgole.

In the Gospel acording to St. Thomas, the disciples inquire of Christ the same query, to which Christ responds:

"The Kingdom will not come by expectation. They will not say "see here" or "see there". The Kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth and men do not see it."

People of a cultivating earth-is-one-country-and-mankind-it's-citizen thread of spiritual sight no exactly what that passage means......

the key is of course, to pen a docu-drama that doesn't proseltyze, but one that shows an earnest man assiduously digging inside his chest for answers.....


The feathery-voice is telling me that I've been lodged in the library for almost thirteen hours and that maybe, a nap would be nice 

(smiles)
 -Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Luke 17:21






...like a miniature snow train hooting through bloggersville

 
And the concourse smiles...they smile and they laugh and they huzzah....Uncle Mike, who has powers from Lord knows where and is a door-matt in terms of humility, cracks a porcelain smile when he chats about the concourse.

"Humor seems to sometimes be more important than physical health." He says, slipping a grin.

Wrote a long blog this morning that was expectorated by blogger into the dregs of cyperspace. I was ranting about a poetic contemporary who really, vehemently, detested my writing.  She would leave the room when I would read. Be casual and curt in conversation. That sort of thing.

 
Not to be so. Yeah, too much bitterness in the world already....encourage, encourage, encouarge people to follow their joy...to milk their potential into dietary gold...

Someday I'll blogg a story about how arrogant, hoolohoop egoistic david ruined a budding girls career. I was literally Salieri to her Mozart (every time I stuck my tongue in her mouth, it was green with envy)....she was gifted, truley gifted in a cannonical, timeless sense...

My greatest foible was not realizing how sweet the music we made together sounded.

 

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The Wayward Everlasting Escapades of Captain Ponytail Holder

Even though Captain Ponytail Holder was RUTHLESSLY shot down by a capitalized LAME missile compliments of the villainous duet of Mara-Arya and Lady Benzedrine associates (smiles- as they hi-five each other) his legacy still thrives and his panache and superhero antics are widely emulated over the sleek-top skyscrapers of burgeoning bloggervilles everywhere.....
 
"Look, up into the Heavens. It's a bird. It's a plane. No, its a.....ponytail holder?"
(A look of a mass confusion widely melts disappointment across the faces of all mankind.)
 
"Honestly, Who were you expecting? Christ's already returned. So has Shrek."
 
You think Uncle Mike is crazy, you outta hear about the shenanigans of his non-baha'i mother.   For reason's Uncle Mike hasn't quite explained yet, he was seperated from his mother at a young age and grew up with his grandparents. He was reunited with his mom in high school where she had an additional family.  Uncle Mike's mom was crazy, creatively rash and spontaneous--kind of like her son, who at sixty-two, after entertaining  a life fraught with spiritual sugar cubes and enriching inward discovery--he still Beeps the car horn when I walk in front of the Linocoln (even when my hads are full) and laughs as my body transitions into a startled exclamatory mark. Last week he scorned the wrath of his born-again Bush-booster right-wing Christian nuke-'em-til-they-glow-and-shoot-them-in-the-dark co-workers by issuing the following joke.
 
"How many born again Christians does it take to change a light bulb?"
 
"None, they're too busy trying to save it."
 
"Mom used to love playing jokes on the Chinese foster kids." Uncle Mike told me explaining that she would always take their least favorite food and camoflage it into a casserole and then instigate a dinner-table conversation and then laugh as she would hear her Chinese students grouse about how much they detested that particular food while they were simultaneously munching on the abhorred substance.  If Mike's mother had a question for a politician or an astronaut, she'd write them a detailed letter and expect a response and then write them again to remind them who she was and usually invite them over for dinner if they were ever in the area (she once invited the Oak Ridge Boys over and they came). If she wanted to know how some machination operated, she'd march herself down to the foundry and inquire a tour. Mike has stories about his senior mom going to St. Louis to visit an X-rated theatre ("She wanted to know what the fuss was all about.") Painting a Volkswagon Rabbit the color of the American flag for the bi-centennial.  
 
"We never did find out if Mother made it down to the nude beach of not." Uncle Mike claims with a smile.
 
Last night Uncle Mike was wearing a very tastelessly tropical Hawaii-five-o shirt that his mother had given him.
 
"Are you wearing that for your work evaluation tomorrow?"  I said, being a smart ass. Michael started humming Jimmy Buffett tunes.
 
"Mother bought this shirt for me." He said.
 
Shortly before his mother died, Uncle Mike remembers her tossing up pennies into the air like ionized New Year's Eve confetti and watching them clang and scramble to a halt in a parking lot in Southern Illinois.
 
"What on Earth are you doing?" Uncle Mike said in the same exaact manner that he says to me when I'm trying to resucitate my moribund staionwagon with clamps, forgetting if it's positive to positive or positive to neagative, leaning heavily towards the attraction of polar opposites.
   
 "I'm making you smile." Uncle Mike's mom said, hurtling up an open umbrella fountain of loose change.
 
"What on earth do you mean." Says Michael (when he's fuddled, he always swears on the planet).
 
 "When you were a litle kid, you found a penny in a parking lot and you smiled. It was the happiest I've ever seen you. So, I'm making you smile."
 
In addition to always getting a bubble-gum from the transparent globed bubble-gum machine every time we eat at either Steak-n-Shake or Dynasty Buffet, every time Mike spys a penny in a parking lot, he scoops his lanky frame over like he is attending a loose shoe string and picks up the penny.
 
"Mother's been here." He almost always says, with a crackpot grin.
 
Thus the origins of Captain Ponytail holder. Since Mara-Arya and Lady Benzedrine are currently clinking tepid shots of Wheatgrass over his coffin, I'll take it incumbently upon myself to eulogize the late-Captain Ponytail holder *sniff*
 
Captain Ponytail Holder was born in Paris, France around Bloomsday 1994. This was the trip that a young,unfledged grasshopper named Mister D met a cool Italian dude with long hair and strong-oily Body Odor who looked exactly like Slash from Guns-N-Roses. The Italian rocker didn't speak any english and Mister D doesn't speak much Italian outside of occassionally ordering ersatz side entrees from the Olive Garden, so the two dreamers communicated in what little French they both knew. The Italian rocker introduced a sixteen year old Mister D to Marlboro Reds and red wine and Italian women. He was there when Mister D got ignominously slapped by a french girl because he told the girl that his real name was B.J. (although he used the non-acronymic term for a southern hemispherical "aeolus employment") and the french girl went the entire evening addressing Mister D as non-acronymic B.J. --to which he replied with an almost Frat-boys giddy drool of "Oui-Oui" upon hearing his name spoonfed into his earlobe by a beautiful french girl who was twenty-four (B.J. also lied about his age. He was twenty-two and studying history at William Jewel outside of Kansas City)...and everything between B.J. and the docile-eyed french girl was moist rose pedals until one of the french girls friends voluntarily took the time out to explicate en francais what the non-acronymic Bee-jay actually stood for and right then and there, in the middle of a discotheque, Mister Dee was mercilessly slapped and the music skidded on the record player and a very cinematic ensuing silence flooded the dancefloor and when the french girl swiftly performed a 180 and muttered something about stupeeeeed american boys Slash walked up to Mister D with a cigarette lit rambling terse staccatto PepĂ© Le Pew  phrases in english like:" To really Love a woman and then to lose her, even then, is to REALLY LOVE a woman...."         
  
When I arrived back home from europe a few weeks later I canned the aerosol cylinder of Aqua Net (so much for the early nineties Parker Lewis dew) and boomeranged my comb into the trash can, only dad refused to have a hippie living in the house.
 
 "It would be disrespectful to both your parnets and to God if you grew your hair long and got your ears pierced." My dad told me, on our front porch, when I developed the pictures of my Italian friends and pointed to Slash, informing my father that that's how I want to have my hair.  I wanted to tell him to hush. Even though he had graduated from college in '69, dad was from the era of Leave it-to Beaver butch cuts and brylcreem. Besides, after three tries I had finally passed my Driver's License test and Dad had just gone to the hardware store and made duplicate keys to his car, which if course, entailed imminent post-adolescent freedom and Friday night emancipation with (hopefully) soon-to-be ditzy sophomore cheerleader Angie Shufflebein stationed in the passengers seat beside me.
 
"But Jesus had long hair. And we're suppose to be just like Jesus." I said, trying to plead my case, not realizing that this would offend him.
 
"Jesus also did allota walking too, son." My dad said, offering a crisp Holiday-like jingle from his pocket as he sipped his coffee, rolled up the Tribune up into a baton and went inside.
      
I heeded my dads advice. I got a haircut every three weeks. During 1997 I had a permy-haired girlfriend who insisted that I get a haircut weekly. Our relationship was an intense (god was it intense) ten-month long lightswitch. As far as the mythological sub-categories of "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" were concerend, we were either "on" or "off" and sometimes we flickered incendiary shadows in the same day.

 During this period my close friends could tell if I was dating or single simply by judging the length of my bangs.  Jana, my girlfriend, was my age but was also my co-worker and BOY, talk about Blackmail.
 
"You didn't realize that we have video camera's in the back room...and you're my supervisor?  What if  you leave me and I miss you and decide to post pictures of us on-line?" She said one day, after we broke up again, in all earnestness, smoothing down the sides of her skirt. 
 
I broke up with Jana the day I kidnapped the purported love-of-my-life, the proverbial "one-that-got-away" Miss Vanessa. I haven't been inside a barbershop since I first held the porcelain smooth slant of Vanessa's palm and slipped inside her mouth and her world on October 1st, 1998.  By then Father I think had adopted mother's view of her prodigal son and perceived me as a 'lost cause'--and his arguement about "Maybe God just doesn't want you to be a writer." still stings tears of loss to my eyes even today.
    
   Three times in my life I've endeavored to grow a turf-lumberjack thick beard and three times I have failed. The first was when I sqaundered my collge savings and scholarship on a girl named Megan and flew up to Appleton WI. I came home, the inisde of my chest and the inside of my bank account were broke and I knew my Dad still wouldn't allow his son to grow long hair, so, to espouse the vagaries of my droopy heart, I did the only practical thing and decided not to shave. Too much Before Sunrise does not in any way auger well for "practical" romantic trajectories....then of course, who want's to have a 'practical' partner complete you for eternity here on earth? Hell if I do.
   
 When I met Vanessa I decided not to do anything with my face at all.   "Kissing you with a beard is like making out with a cactus." Vanessa said.
 
Instead of thickly coned-homages to the Amish race, I grow little facial nests resembling abandon Little League fields. The first time I took that timeless drive down the thick country arteries of the Manito Black, tolling through Forrest City (two Silo's and a trailor tavern) kicking off the Black on to that dirt road that rustically sprints into the buccolic country bouquet called Topeka, where I fell in love and sadly hurt a butterfly innocent girl with long blond hair and a glossed hyphen smile.....that first time (and everytime I made the Manito Black sojourn from Peoria to Topeka)  our opposite hands clutched into an embryonic human heart, I rolled off the dirt road, helped Vanessa with her laundry bag. After the obligatory handshakes and introductions from Mama and Papa Bear (and Nosy Aunt Debbie Bear who had 'just happened' to drop by) I was offered an ICEHOUSE and walked inside. Just then, I would find out later in our rapport, Vanessa's aunt turned to her mom and, in a cusped whispered concerning my swirled-whiskers candidly commented, "What is all that shit he has on his face?"   

  From the Bohemian mecca of Paris, to a little town so-fraught with white trash you'd run outta twist ties if ever you'd try to bag it up, the late Captain Ponytail Holder slowly came into fruition.  It took a year for my hair to sprout off, for my tresses to droop. At my cousins wedding the next June my hair was a cross between Christian Bale staring as Laurie in Little Women and that of a fashionable Knickerboxer.  By the time Vanessa left me, after living in both Heaven and Hell for thirteen consecutive moths (and a partial purgatory ever after) my hair was pony-tail length, a snub handle protruding from my occiput.
 
"I made you." Vanessa said, her fingers lost above my forehead, offering out a little smile, shortly before she rightfully left.
 
    For a long time the rule was that if I wanted to be inside my parents house I had to keep my nutmeg-colored hair pulled back in a ponytail. In church it was essential (or else the little pentecoastal flame that appeared during prayers would be hidden).

 My hair weas always expected to be pulled back. For Christmas every year I would get pony tail holders from both my sisters. I love having long hair (all wandering lads should have long hair at least once in their lives) and certain psychoanalysts have suggested that long hair is an emotional vestigial of the brain...like a waterfall of unbidden thought gushing from the top of your skull.

The  Christmas before my Dad died he made me an offer: Cut your hair and I'll give you the mini-van.

I LOVED my parents mini-van. They bought it so Beth and Jenny could ferry their classical instruments all throughout the midwest. It would have been much more domestically commodious and accesible an abode to crash in a little over a year later, when I was living in my Station wagon.

But no, I refused to cut my hair. I kept my hair knotted back at family functions. When my dad was diagnosed with cancer January 18th of 2002, I vowed that if he lost his hair I would shave my skull and, on the back, get a Tatoo that said, quite bluntly FUCK CANCER. But I never got the opportunity. Dad had two rounds of chemo in one week and then capitulated his earthly vessel to the heavenly waters. He hadn't shed the least bit of hair.

The day of his funeral I had my hair long when my Sharon Osborne sexy aunt from Canada (she's my third cousin) handed me a ponytail holder.

"Here," She said. "It's what your father would have wanted."

*

Thus captain ponytail holder died a happy death. Being cyberly-asphyxiated by the smooth paws of Lady-Benzedrine and Mara-Arya isn't at all a bad way to go, allow me to assure you. Captain Ponytail holder died with a he-who-lives-in-the-moment-and-is-continually-flanked-by-two-beautiful-cyber-Vixens smile stitched into his lips.

But I can't help but to reminisce over Captain ponytail holder, thinking about Uncle Mike scooping up loose change claiming that his mother's presence is all around him, claiming that mother is still here, painting smiles on his face....I can't help but think of Captain Ponytail holder, who yes, did in his terse lifetime bear a flaccid name, when I leave the library with my hair in tortured tangles and looking down, I spot an errant ponytail holder and I briefly reflect about how my dad always approved when I kept my cinnamon tresses pulled back into a handle on the back of my head. Perhaps, as is the case with Uncle Mike's matriarch, he wants us all simply to smile together.

(smiles)  

*  
 







!!!!!!!!!!

The Cubs were beating St.Louis 8-2 in the second and now it's the top of the 9th and their down 10-8!!!!!! WHY!!!!! BEING A DEVOUT CUBS FAN ALL MY LIFE HAS ADUMBRATED ME FOR FAILURE!!!!!
 
When my boss Sam inquired why I remained so adamant a CUBS fan after all these years I told him it was like getting married.
 
 "  At first you used to circle the bases every night and even take the game into extra innings and a post-season honeymoon at Disney World was inevitable. And now....I'm lucky if she'll let me step up to the plate without calling a foul ball on me first."
 
Just checked the score again. Now it's 11-8, in favor of the cardinals. 

Monday, July 19, 2004

Mama always told me I'd go blind if I kept on doing that....

Monopolized the entire weekend anchored in chores. I cleaned out the gutters and pulled weeds at the center. I planted geraniums and cleaned out the pool at Uncle Mike's. I went to my moms last night and mowed her lawn and endeavored to gnaw through the little slice of Amazonian rainforest that has become her backyard. The concourse's been laughing more than it's been smiling these days. Just when I'm pretending that I'm butchering the lorax by toppling over a dead tree, low and behold, iorny of ironies, I swat at the beaded row of sweat drooling from my forehead and 'plop', into the jungle of tumbleweed and poison-ivy, there goes my last contact. The world is a cartwheeling dessert of fingertip swirls. I can see neither screen nor keyboard this morning and my head keep on drilling like someone is mining for oil on the top of my skull.
 
-and to compound matters (once again, when I'm nearsighted) Swissy-Wishy-boy-did-i-strike
-out just walked in with her botched beau in paw and gave me a little girlscout wave with her free wrist...

And the only pair of glasses I can find are an errant pair salvaged from the Lost and Found shoebox. 
 
Crazy cycles. I'm well aware that as soon as this "fog" lifts I'll be a verbal locomotive wielding words and images. This is the mist before the morning. A time when my body is waking up, ready to accomodote the thick shafts of morning light.  Normally this is the time when Captain ponytail lad appears, but of course, his heroic red-s antics were maliciously emasculated by the sleek, devious duo of Mara-Arya (who has kick-ass cool hair but smells like a brewery)  and Lady Benzedrine (who thwarted the escapades of an itinerant, peddling baker who, once again, mistook the hash for the oregano)....last time my Clark Kent blogg's from a phone booth. 
 
Being optically stymied isn't as bad as it sounds. I hung out all morning with tangible blurs of fellow writers Nick the Writer and poet Shannon. Shannon told me that my favorite intown poet, Staci L., has a glass eye and I NEVER would have suspected that. 
 
"So THAT's the reason she kept that one eye opened when we kissed."  I said, trying to be funny, only no one else was laughing.
 
The blessing was that, after I lost possesion of my sole cyclopic lens, I was coerced into crashing at Moma Bear's pad last night which gave me ample time to sift through most of my storage, mainly thick blue airtight tubs fraught with books. From roughly 1995-2001, the years when I decided that I was either going to live in literary stardom or burn-out trying to flicker ALL I DID WAS BUY BOOKS. I worked for many years as a Supervisor for Barnes & Nobles which means that I could get my paws on any title very quickly and take a hefty bite out of the barcode with my discount. I came home weekly with heaps of books and half a paycheck. I craked open many of the caskets last night and found my old Autographed copy of Ginsberg's HOWL. I found Vonnegut and rick Moody and Carole Maso. I found David Markson. Found all the plato, the William James (FOUND MY FIRST EVER COPY OF WITTGENSTEIN'S TRACTATUS!)...found my old ARTIST Way (which made me think of daniela) and managed to gut all the stuffed envelopes where I daily stowed my morning pages into the morning trash can.
 
I found four different versions of INFINITE JEST, Two different versions of ULYSSES and GRAVITY'S RAINBOW, one BEING and TIME and a near mint condition SPORTS ILLUSTRATED cover salvaged from '98 that shows vintage Michael Jordan in the clutch over Karl malone....the last shot he ever swished in a firey-bloodshot Bulls jersey. 
 
I found the thousands of poems I kept from high school for some reason, chronicles of feigned angst ( and you insist that the breweries exhibit an offal, noisome stench--I should post some of my old manuscripts on line but I'm afraid I can't simultaneously distribute enough laundry-pins to staple shut the nasal passages of those with keen taste).   
 
I combed through an old box of bills (how did I ever survive those years?) and, while playing  envelope frissbee golf with expired late-fee notices, I found (TCS) wadded up in what looked like a hybrid of a little oragmi pyramid and a paper airplane with one elongated limb....BAM....the original program from Greenlake '02, with you-know-who's name dotted inside.... good luck on your pending classes!
 
Even more weird I later found a letter from my mom written on JULY 18TH 1977...exactly 27 years to the date!!! July 18th is my Baptismal date. In the letter, mom asks for the Lord to cintinually bless me.......... and it looks like he has.








Sunday, July 18, 2004

When You Go Out Looking for Yourself, You End Up Finding Others...

I think that's how we're living...couldn't sleep last night. Revceived a late phone call from a dear and special friend who took me under his masculine wing and shepherded me through some rough times a few years back and it was such a joy to hear from him. Said the prayer for the departed for Juliet Thompson, who was a bohemian baha'i who wrote the book I, Mary Magdalene.  Three years ago, when I first met Mike, he'd invite me over to his house and have me read outloud excerpts from Juliet Thompson's diary, smiling to hismelf when I'd verbally butcher the persian.
 
Juliet was good friends with Kahil Gibran and there's a little story about Gibran not accepting the Baha'i faith b/c he could not imagine that there was anyone "greater" than Abdu'l-baha...
 
The world is still a swift blur which is healthy. As far as my cyclical nature ensues, whenever a transition in my life takes place , thumbing to the next chapter of my on--going autobiography so to speak, everything kind of smudges together, wads into a global nearsight and then unfolds in perfect stain-glass symmetry. Happens every time.  My emotional mettle transforms into a creative zygote that eventually evolves to the next rung. The next pillar.
 
And of course (the last two years esp---over exerting my health by always working)  the frequent insomnia serves as a spiritual needle stiching patches of my life back together. I'm reliving my father's death. I'm raking up my sins and foibles into a bushel of yesterday, dousing the leafy heap with fuel and striking a match. I'm trying to become the person I feel like I'm perenially suppose to be. I've realized that, even if your piss-poor in America, you still have it far better off than over ninety-percent of your sibblings globally dotted across this little solar island called earth. This tidy home of ours, a welcoming matt for the soles (souls) of the future, with dwindling ethnic obstructions and a cultivating spiritual linearity.
 
And yet we're still here. Still ensconced in the blurred moment. Still falling in love kicking and screaming, like a newborn, pushing way out, learning how to breathe, how to suckle, how to crawl and eventually....how to give. 




Saturday, July 17, 2004

Passion and Pulchritude

Just visited with Mara's dyslexic double. After blogging an entry about experiencing
disappointment with an older "intellectual" crowd at a young and formative age, I bumped into my dear friend Mary. Mary's a formative, exceptional artist. She's been teaching at the college level for a couple of years (even though we both graduated from high school the same year)...Mary has a gentle, brushstroke smile and a thick stream of very-arya-assenting thick black hair that slinks down her back and tugs at her waist. She's taught art in France and is applying for a position in Florence. I'm so proud of her. Out of all of my bohemian friends shes the one that I'm most certain will have a dip with the baha'i faith.

Mary and I tersely dated around the time when I was working 24-7 (which was most of the last two years)...we had a few nice moments together and I feel blessed that I didn't totally botch things up. Over coffee Mary thanked me for calling her on her birthday when she was outta state having surgery, an event which I still can't remember doing, but her gratitude made me feel special.

As Uncle Mike continues to remind me, "When a relationship doesn't work out, it's sometimes a blessing for both parties." It's true. Occasionally you have to prune and hem the bush if you want to cultivate the garden. and (unlike 80 % of the participants in the previous blogg) I feel blessed that I can admire mary as an artistic contemporary rather than as a couple.

Although I never said it when we were dating, I'll say it now...Proud of you baby. Can't wait to see what notes you'll continue to paint in the hearts of all your students, as well as in the artworld

Adverb girls and Plural Identities (Geez-I sound like School House Rock..."Conjunction, Junction What's your Function?")

Just like I have an unobtainable, insatiable fascination and mystical rapport and with female goddesses whose first name ends in the letter 'a'; this has been a week laden with "ly"-adverb first name girls. Beautiful Ally, a very dear friend gave me her phone digits (i didn't have a pen/paper on me so she pulled me over on the side of the road and in a very observant Mrs. Woolson fashion watched as I memorized her digits and then forgot them later on during the day--d'oh!)...My friend Nelly just left, who, (geez-David) came up to my work desk and knew my name and knew all about me and I had to squint because she looked vaguely, somewhat a tad familiar but I honestly can't remember ever meeting her before and when I honestly confessed to her all this she smiled and said that that's what I always say to her....which means that (according to her) we've had the conversation about me-not-remembering-her-name-and-trying-to-be-all polite-and-professional-about-it a total of three times over a two year period....
 
Also uncanny and weird is that there are precisely three individuals slacking around the Peoria area who look EXACTLY like me. Think Conrad's Secret Sharer. Think Doppleganger. We all sport pony-tails, scurry around town in an awkward gait and have very angular and gaut facial features.  Uncle Mike was skirting around town this morning when he swore he saw me in a coffee shop only I was at home asleep. My sister thought she saw me downtown walking out of a strip club last week when I was in Chicago drooling over Julie Delpy's unblemished performance in Before Sunset. I've had (bona fide) girls that I Know I've never met come up and yell at me, addressing me as either Chris or Matt. When I was twenty-two I went to City Hall to pay a traffic violation and was (!) arrested and interrogated for over and hour because I looked just like a low key drug assalaint.  I was sequestered by P-town's finest in this little room in the basement and I made the very inopportune mistake of using the word "kafkaesque" to the police chief (new word of the day, next to "epiphanous") and then had to define the word Kakaesque which entailed a verbose synopsis of who Franz Kafka was as well as a book-report of Kafka's "The Trial" where the protagonist of the short story is arrested, tried, convicted in front of a jury and eventually executed (gulp) for a crime that he has no clue he commited; a crime whose exact nature therof is NEVER explained to him.
 
Needless to say, after I submitted my bookreport to the officer he sounded very much like my friend daniela when he declared that I was "too smooth" and cuffed me and pelted me with querries, barking invectives and vulgarities in my left earlobe until I was deaf. Finally, after an hour, they said I was clear and could go and they showed me a picture of the assailant and it turned out (?) I knew the lad--a hippie journalist by the name of Matt-- and turned him in.
 
The police Thanked me, offered me a donut, but refused to assuage my $75 speeding ticket. Bastard Pigs!!!
   
 Chris is also my in townie twin. He's almost exactly ten years older than me and he's the son of a well-known contemporary psychoanalyst. What's even more bizarre is that we've split a total of three girls between us (only one of them-- Vanessa--the love of my life who I've yet to blogg b/c the heart still measures her as a fairy tale butterfly-angel--name ends in 'a').  I've met Chris a total of three times. When I transfered schools four years ago Brook, my then girlfriend and a psych-prof, told me that she was "in love" with someone who looked just like me but was her age and I immediately had and inkling it was devious-toothed Chris, who used to salivate like a Pavlovian-chiuaua over Vanessa. While Brook was two-timing me with Chris, Chris also had a fiancee whom he was two-timing with Brook. About a year after this torrid tryst occured I met a girl named Cheryl at a RAVE who told me she was in town for a few days from Netherlands (she spoke what I thought was perfect dutch) and in the immortal words of Ben Affleck in CHASING AMY we "SHARED A MOMENT" plural and then a week later I saw Cheryl (who I thought was supposed to be back in Europe at this time) walking hand in hand with Chris at a swanky furniture outlet filling out a bridal registry and she pretended not to see me when Chris scowled and I'm like, "Shit!" at the whole situation and because I'm a blabbermouth the next time I saw crazy-Brook I boasted to  her about my terse encounter with Cheryl and Brook (the so--called professional) went out of her way to contact Chris--even though they hadn't spoken in a year; even though Chris had "shattered" Brook's heart (while I thought Brook was being "faithful" to me--whatever that means these days -I was faithful to Brook-)...and Chris was so infuriated with Cheryl that he called off the wedding and then Cheryl found out only then about Chris and Brook and once again, Peoria's finest were called in to mediate the situation. Which today I still find 'sick' b/c duplicitous Brook, Chris and Cheryl are REALLY brilliant, intelligent human beings who grade college kids on how to think and they were running around town then in their early-thirties acting like they just discerned that they have genitals, which, at the time, when I was in my early twenties and I desperately wanted to kick it and socialize with cool people who had passion and intellect--made me even more dubious about so--called 'adults' or even people bearing authoritative positions. 
 
Chris and Cheryl later got married. So did Brook, to someone who had cash and could afford not to pay attention while she continued to fall in love with various students. Which means David only has one more twin to blogg about, his name being Charlie.
 
Next to Vanessa (who I swear I'll blogg about one of these days because in terms of romantic stories and human loss--you ain't heard nothing yet) Charlie is one of the most talented writers I have ever met. He conducts prolific fairy-tale Dylanesque songs and he's (sadly) a perfect example of what hardcore...I mean hardcore, drugs can do to a brilliant mind in terms of paranoia and delusion. When we see each other it's like I'm looking in a mirror, only when I scratch my head with my right hand, it appears to be the polar opposite.  He quit his job yesterday and I had a dream about him last night.
 
That's my weird life in terms of twins. And you thought our blogging rapport was weird.
 
      






Friday, July 16, 2004

The boy with a thorn in his eye....

 
Still, thank you william and zachary, blinking through my jaded utopia with gong-clanging headaches and cartwheel vertigo.  My vision is stained with flurried flecks.....

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Myopic Mara and Mister Migraine

Nothing like being visually stymied. Mark and I took William and Zachary out to the baseball game last night and of course, William and Zachary and I did the appropriate cultivating future ambassador of "World Peace" thing and wrestled the entire evening which was fun, until, as the adults always say, "Someone gets hurt." Right when I was dropping the twins off William mauled my back and endeavored to remove my wicker cap and inadvertently proded his thumb in my eye-socket hardcore. OUCH! I literally felt like Cyclops for a second and I lost a contact which royally sucks because I'm all out of contacts and with only one lodged in everything in the library this morning looks a tad cubist. And then Mara walks in (only it's not Mara, its a fellow "writerly" friend of mine) and I love her to death only she is actually going blind in both of her eyes and she still writes poems and plays songs everyday and I have never, not even when she is socially imbided, heard her bitch about her dwindling ocular impediment and she's such an inspiration when you see her in the library composing iceberg-shaped stanza's on Microsft Word with the FONT augmented to 36 inch, pelting out sentences like there's no tomorrow and today hasn't started yet while she's still squinting into the screen, and still (God Love her) always beating me in local poetry competitions. I got an Honorable mention certificate I forgot to pick up and then got yelled at by the judges for not taking my budding career seriously while she successfully pocketed a few hundred greenbacks.

So now I can't bitch about my sight. One eye is Yin the other is Yang and the world this morning is a subtle blur of beauty and smudged swirls.

But I still get headaches. Athena was born from the side of Zeus' temple (his head). I feel like she is thumping and working on her future soccer skills inside my skull this morning. I had to come into work early and only got time flush a few shots of "David Death Blend" down ye olde hatch--coffee so potent that I could dab a few drops over my father's grave and watch unawed as he crawls out of his casket and demands a decaf.

Speaking of my father's grave, let me tell you about my beautiful friend Valerie--a gift from the Concourse when I needed a terse companion in a time flooded with windshield vertigo and Picasso-blue-period melancholy. The story's a tad sexist but Val has heard it many times and her face still blushes into raspberry shaded wine cooler and smiles whenever I tell it publically. She's a beautiful friend who's working on her Masters in Civil Engineering and is, as we speak, on her way en route to Munich for Civil Engineering seminars. She's  just found the purported love of her life which is cool because he's kind of a "good-old-country-boy" and although Valerie's gait exudes with sexy cosmopolitan professionalism, she's from Dunlap, Illinois, which is a beautiful, rustic Illinois country town where the corn fields and sunsets resemble the cover of Neil Young's HARVEST album:

"I want to live,
I want to give
I've been a miner for a heart of gold.
It's these expressions I never give
That keep me searching for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old.
Keeps me searching for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old.

I've been to Hollywood
I've been to Redwood
I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold
I've been in my mind, it's such a fine line
That keeps me searching for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old.
Keeps me searching for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old."

So here's the scoop.

Dad's underground all of a sudden and I'm working something like 80 hours a week and still not making it and mom's literally showing people pictures of her failed son who wants to be a writer but who is obviously also not very good because none of his short stories are selling.

Then the bomb. I'm homeless, sleeping in my station wagon and using the bathroom at the Ammoco gas station to brush my teeth in every morning and then my Aunt calls me up at work and asks me if I saw the newspaper headlines this morning concerning my childhood friend Mike (I'll omit his last name for privacy sake, but as you can intuit, I have a fourth-dimesional rapport with lads by the name of Michael and David and with lasses whose first name usually end in the letter a).

I grew up with Mike. Used to play "A-Team" with Mike on the Playground during Kindergarten recess (He was "Murdock" I was "Face" Patrick was a feigned fruit roll-up cigar-chomping " I-Love-it-when-a-plan-comes-together," sly-eyed Hannibal. My other friend David was MR. T, partially because he wore huskies). Mike and I both harbored hardcore crushes on Alicia Passages in sixth grade. Mike was bold enough to write her a love letter and tell her how he actually felt. She was a spoiled bitch and read the letter publically to her groupies at Lunch and even asked our grammar teacher if she could place the letter on the overhead to be used as an exemplar when the class diagramed sentences seventh hour.

Later Mike and I would be in charge of our High school Youth group. We would organize church bake sales and car washes. We were in charge of taping the church services and duplicating the tapes to elderly and shut-ins. We went on nature retreats and my greatest memory of Mike was from a week-long wilderness canoe retreat on the Flambeau river in northern Wisconsin. Mike navigated the canoe with perfect jealousy-envy-spite precision. He was capable of spanking whitewater with the tip of his paddle and taming pesky rapids with smooth strokes.

We weren't best friends by any means but for a while we were close. He bought the birthday cake for my 18th "surprise" birthday party on a retreat in San Antonio. He told me the night after it had happened when lost his virginity (sadly, the only 'sin' that is overtly-emphasised to the point of group insurgence in religious circles these days)... and that, when I asked him how it felt, he told me that it was really no big deal. Really no big deal at all.

In high school we were always vying for the cone of the spotlight to blind our juvenile foresight--mostly aiming for the attention of girls. We both had SUV sized egos in an age infatuated with mini-vans. Mike got showered with attention his junior year for precociously accepting an internship at Caterpillar. His face was always in the paper and I remember (weird) that around the moment of his death, thinking about him. I hadn't seen Mike in a few years but for some reason (almost a pluralistic 'duh' now) I was thinking about Mike the night he died. I was thinking about how much I vehemently despised the kid in High school. I was thinking about how much I wish I would have received his reams of public glory and I remember thinking just how pissed off at him I was. I hadn't seen Mike or heard from Mike recently but just prior to his departure I felt him again and I hated him. Abhorred him for being the popular duo. Hated always hearing him talking about himself. Yang upset that Yin was garnering all the accolades.

No, it's weird, because these are thoughts that I hadn't harbored since I was seventeen and, at twenty-five, like layered fabric in winter, they were suddenly all around me and I remember looking at my reflection in the windshield and simply, suddenly, hating Mike, HATING HIM, for inexplicable reasons even though I personally had no reason to loathe him and had not even thought about Mike in a number of years.

I got the phone call from my aunt two days later.

*

It was a grisly death. When I stomped up from the Teacher's Lounge swatting tears from my chin and asked the secretary for the paper she told me personally how 'sick' she felt from reading the account and strongly advised me not to.

Mike had married the girl who had plucked his virginity those years before. They had been married for five years. They had been trying very assiduously to conceive but just couldn't.

Mike had a wonderful job. He had a new home. He had a morgage and he found out three months earlier that, finally, his wife had conceived-- only she was having problems and had to be on continual bed rest. The paper said that Mike had called his wife fifteen minutes before his ill-timed demise and said that he had a surprise for her. That was the last time their two voices would ever touch.

Michael's body, his earthly garment, was literally flattened by a drunk driver whose license had already been suspended twice. I'll spare you the grisly details about how his body was contorted or about why (?) they insisted on having an open casket funeral for him three days later; his forehead puttied up. With Mike crushed, the drunk driver, a twenty year old male, actually sat on the hood of Mike's gashed car, continued to take swigs from his beer and even rolled and fired up a blunt. When the cops arrived the intoxiated male looked at the cops, looked at Mike's carcass and then informed the police, as is documented, with a shameless drunken grin:

"Looks like I'm pretty much fucked."

*

Mike's funeral was packed. It was like a grade school and high school reunion only everyone was dressed in black and looking down into their shoes and bartering rolled kleenexes between themselves. I cut in line and met with Rev. Arthur--who I've always had a bond with. Rev. Arthur had interred my father's body into the earth a little over a year earlier.

The Concourse smile boughs of laughter even when the masses wail tears of loss. Before Mike's funeral I went out and bought a rose. Mike was going to be burried in the same cemetary as my father and I was (finally) trying to accumulate enough emotional gall and courage to look down at that patched heap of earth that enveloped my father's wilted bones, say the prayer for the departed and consecrate my grief.

What I didn't realize was that Mike was to be burried less than fifty meters from where Dad's grave is. The Lutheran Cemetary is huge and gothic and Dad was burried in a very old vector, close to his parents. When the serpentine stream of traffic arrived at the cemetary it was exactly like how I remembered it on my last visit. A hearse locomoting a long train of cars with orange funeral pennants sprouting up from their hoods. A green tent with chairs reserved for the family placed in nearly the same exact locoation it was a year earlier, when my father died when I refused to sit, holding down my mother's shoulders from behind her during the eulogy.

Rev. Arthur was holding up the same bible he had held up a year earlier configuring his sliced palm in the direction of the trinity. It was surreal.

(Here's the point where the story verges from sentiment and gets crazy)

I was reliving my father's funeral, holding a rose, looking at the body of my friend stuffed in a silver rectangle, mad at God that all this crazy shit was happening, upset at myself for always working all the time and never making it. Rev. Arthur's voice is very low and deep and he accentuates certain biblical words so that "GOD," sounds simply like "GO-AAAAAAAD." I was refusing to cry, standing by myself and groping the thorny stem of my rose, when, upon I averting my vision up near the mourners tent, I saw it and could not keep my eyes from staring.

IT WAS THE NICEST ASS I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE.

Totally crass, I know. But I'm being totally candid at the same time. Rev. Arthur was conducting the chorus of mourners in the "Our Father" refrain and all I could do was leer and ogle and mentally salivate over the back side of the lady with the short black hair tightly attired in the chic navy-blue bussiness suit. I couldn't make out her face and I couldn't keep my eyes from scoping her out and I almost smiled and chuckled at the overall irony implicit in the situation when the universe of parishioners grumbled and huffed and eventually echoed out an all-too exclamatory "AMEN", which quickly escourted me back to reality, only I was somehow less despondent and even smiled when I looked down into my rose.

The mourners slowly began to scatter. There were hugs and embraces and I strapped on a pair of sunglasses to keep from being noticed. The absolutely last thing on the planet that I wanted was someone coming up me with both my Dad and Mike on the emotional tab, giving me a hug and asking me "Howya doing?" What the hell was I supposed to say?

"Well, I'm fine. I'm now homeless. My mom has all but disowned me.My sisters won't talk to me. One of my old close buddies just died a very tragic death and has a wife who's here in a wheelchair because she's having a tough pregnancy carrying the child he'll never meet and to top things off, I've somehow inhertited this totally tasteless habit where cemetaries have supplanted single bars as a social hub to pick up girls. I'm great!"

And I was. I bullshit nonchalance so well. My Beautiful blogging angel daniela gave me the ultimate compliment a couple of nights ago on the phone by telling me that my voice sounded "rougher" than my prose.

"You mean I sound 'faggy' on-line?" I inquired.

"No," She said, before...................................................................." (smiles)




Back to the cemetary. I walk over to my father's grave. Dad's been dead over two years now and although the school where he taught at erected a beautiful marble monument with a color-picture of him reading to his students, mom still hasn't gotton around to purchasing a tombstone. I locate the tufted mound of earth. I look up and see the flock of black outfits releasing themselved from their teary clusters.  I bow my head in reverence and before I can christen the earth with my tightly clutched rose, I see her. Headed towards me. Like she is the sexy girl in the COKE commerical walking in slow motion. There, five steps away, strutting towards me, is the Nicest Ass of all Time, traipsing in still-life-with-a-bowl-of-romantic-ardor-time, by herself, headed in my direction.
 
My first thought was fished up straight fr0m the gutter.
 
"Attaboy," I say, thinking to myself, thinking myself dapper in my suit. Then I think: 
 
"Shit, she must have noticed me checking her out during the Reverend's eulogy. She's gonna come over here and slap me for being uncouth--ontop of my father's grave no less!" 
 
The Lady in the Bussiness suit approached me. And before I could mentally massage the oracle of dating coolness and offer a suplication for romantic smoothness her lips beagn to speak.
 
"You're David, right? Do you still write books?"
 
Turns out she knew me. Heard I was a writer somewhere. I had no clue who she was and honestly do not remember ever meeting her before that encounter. But there she was, the Nicest Ass of all time, who it turned out also posseses a beautiful smile and huge continental heart, standing next to me as I plopped down the rose on top of the pitching mound of dirt that has become my father.
 
 No, I didn't cry. I was cool. I told the Nicest ass all about my relationship with Mike who it turned out she had worked with for the last two years. I told her all about my father and how suddenly he went. We didn't know each other but we ended up embracing.
 
"God love all this damn craziness." I told her. She smiled. When I turned around Rev. Arthur was stomping in my direction.
 
"David," He said, smiling so that I could make out his silver dental fillings.
 
"You know, I really questioned the will of God when he took your father." The Rev. said after I introduced him to Valerie, the girl whose butt I had been eyeing.
 
When the two of them left I reached into the side pocket of my stripped-blue jacket, the jacket that had belonged to my own father, and opened the book of Baha'i prayers.
 
*
 
Valerie stops in and sees me at work almost everyday. Our relationship is one of friendly-fire flirtation.  She was the first to inform me that Mike's wife gave birth without much hardships.
 
"It was a girl." She said. "We were all kinda hoping for a little boy. But it was a girl and she's healthy."
 
Mike's wife is doing well. Ironically(TCS) Mike applied for Life Insurance just a week before his death.
 
Sixth months after the funeral I took Valerie out on a date.
 
"It's not that kind of a date." I kept telling her. "I need to tell you a story." I said.
 
"A story," She said, a look of budding assentment spread across her cheeks. 
 
I took her out for dinner after classes and, while our cappuccino's grew cold,  I told her the story. Told her all about the crazy shit that was going on during Michael's death. Told her about me checking out her "ass" during the Lord's prayer. Told her that I still remembered the color of the outfit she wore. How time fizzled into slow motion when she was walking in my direction afterwards.
 
I told her about how I had sentimentally eschewed trudging up to my father's grave and my fingers reached across the table and bit into her hand when I told her that, even though she didn't realize it, her presence there next to me at the cemetary that day was nothing short of the kiss of angel feather's across the weak lips of a boy who was very scared and confused.
 
"Whenever you need a friend, you know where to find me." I told her. "Thank you. Thank you simply for being there.
 
There was silence. I gave Val's hand a tug and then reached up and took a swig from my cappuccino. The waitress slapped me the bill and I insisted on paying and leaving the tip. As we gathered up our school bags Val turned to me and smiled.
 
"So," She said. "Do you still think I have a hot ass?"
 
"Sugah, it's got my vote."  I said, with a little smile, staring only at her forehead.