Wednesday, September 29, 2004
I wasn't even attached to the story until three hours later when I sat down to pelt it out again and the words all of a sudden decided to book a cruise and head south for the season. I couldn't even scribe a petty postcard image. No foreign stamps. No having a Great time! No wish you were here. No nuthin. Just static blurbs.
So I hoofed the mile back to Uncle Mike's asylum where he chewed me out and told me that perhaps the concourse had snatched it away from me because of either 1.) ego or two 2.) the scene I wrote where a young altar boy is raped by the priest in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary and then forced to confess his "sin" to the same priest afterwards.
I was pretty pissed (maybe I just lost the story b/c Bradley has an incompetent server). Mike just wants me to write solely baha'i books, which of course, I would love to do only I can't right now for various reason, primarily being my Christ-fearing mother would be more supportive of her son if he were writing a fire-safety manual for gay Cub scout leaders rather than "blasphemously"taking spiritual dictation from something she cannot understand.
Oh well. Dropped a class so know I only have 12 hours a week, a HUGE turgid academic senior project being one of them. Went upstairs and, after watching my middle-aged neighbor give me her own version of Bloggality (She had to have known her shades were drawn--she's been baking me cookies) Uncle Mike called me downstairs and we had a long talk. When I asked him for advice at school he retorted a question back into my face.
"What did Ceasar say?"
"What did Ceasar say?"
David (nonplussed): Pizza! Pizza!
Uncle Mike : NO!!!!! "Divide and Conquer."
So I charted out my itinerary. Six hours for writing screenplays Mon-Wed-Fri. Tues and Thurs is reserved for senior project. The reading for my other two classes are conducted a week ahead. I'm still working the graveyard shift until Nov 1st., but that will give me a little extra-cash to save up.
Perhaps loosing something valuable is not all that bad. My very Christ-abiding (socialogically naive, Republican Kowtowing, high-school act vanishing) parents were married five years before I was born. My mom is a VERY spiritual, but in Christ-cowering sense. She gets up every morning and prays and annotates and highlights her dog-earred bible. ALL she's ever wanted for her son was to have him, "Be like David in the bible and have good Christian friends." The irony in this is that when I was getting handjobs from highschool teachers Mama and Papa bear didn't know how to handle it.
Anyway, Mom was pregnant once before she had me. Parents were really excited, you know "gift from God," and everything. About three months after mom went public with her pregnancy my aunt in town became pregnant. Everyone was rejoicing and buying baby clothes and erecting cribs until one morning mom woke up and locked herself in the bathroom and started to cry. Everything came out from between her knees. The nursery was half-finished and mom had miscarried. Three months after the slated birth of their child, my aunt gave birth to a healthy girl.
(There's a touching scene concerning this story. When my father's skin was copper from the chemo and he was on his deathbed, eveyone in our family was telling him who he was going to see in Heaven. My sister beth rubbed my father's feet and told him that he was going to be with a child he had never met.)
Spiritual, God-fearing mom who'd harbored a pretty shitty life anyway (hardcore alcolic father) said that that was the one time in her life that she had trouble praying. She found a verse in the bible that said something like, "....I will still praise thee," only she couldn't then because obviously she felt a certain spiritual void not having a child while my cousin Amanda was being coddled around the Thanksgiving table.
The irony is that mom and dad got pregnant almost immediately after the miscarriage. The result being, yeah, mom gave birth to a crazy, once long haired writer.
I don't feel bad bloggin' about this. Five Christmasses ago, (I was drunk) I was reading late at night by the spangle of the Christmas tree and went to move some books. Out from the center of the books fell a spiral noetbook with the words PRAYER LOG eteched on top. Curious I opened it up. I found that my mom had each page dated, going back till about 1994. Each page was also categorized into two sections: Requests and Praises. While my sister's seemed to get al the "Praises" Mom's maladroit borderline-basketcase son was subject to a stampede of Requests. Mom prayed that I would find "Good Christian friends," she prayed that I would quit smoking and drinking as much as I did, she prayed that I would join the Christian cadres on campus, she prayed that I would be "Pure,".....and geezus, I'm reading this thinking BITCH.....never once when all the sexual-molestation shit was going on did you even consider allowing me to switch schools. Never once did you ask what I want to do with my life, never once did you tell me that you would support me, never once did you take me ouit for a college visit.
....ahhhh, nothin' like reading the mother's makeshift blogg.
Mom and I are still working on our rapport. I'm sure the moment my book/stories sell she'll whip-out the picture of me as a two-year beating on my father's Smith-Corona, the ironic caption ...maybe I'll be a writer someday. It's fine. I love my mom very much and I'm convinced (psychologically) that when I went through a three year period only "dating" females between the ages of thirty-three and forty-five, I was subconciously trying to get something back from my mother that was lost.
....after all, if your not occasionally lost, how can you ever expect someone to find you.
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Burgeoning collegiate scholar David: Time to get up and contribute to your overpriced intellctual discourse!
Blue collar workcoholic David who just crashed two hours earlier: Go to Hell!
I hate missing class. I hate coming ill-prepared for class. I hate bullshitting in class. I hate that my fellow peers come to me for insight (one even called me a 'genius'--how flattering!) Oh well, Loans kick in tomorrow and if it's one thing I've learned in the past month of joining the majority of the planet in poverty is that, Thank god that T.C. doesn't stand for Tomorrow's Credit.
After my father died I had a hard time writing. I'm very blessed because, even if my writing totally sucks on days, the verbal floodgates inside my chest are almost always cranked open, allowing the slushing torrent of words to splash out of me in dizzying degrees of gushing hydraulics. This stopped for about a month after my old man peeled off his earthly sweater. I couldn't write. I was breaking up with my crazy girlfriend who kept tossing shot glasses in my direction at the bar as she told me how good she was for me. I was snorting cocaine to help get me through the nights where I stood listlessly at the low blue glower of MS Word, waiting for the tempest of words to gradually drain from my fingertips.
So then what happened? I was teaching English at an inner city Alternative school and a Seveneteen year old 250 pd. 7th grader named Marcus fell off his desk and broke his teacher's leg, only the hospital missed diagnosed it (like they misdiagnosed my father's ailment for years) and said that, no, it wasn't broken or fractured only gout. Gout?
All I knew about gout was the Benjamin Franklin had Gout i.e., it was a gaudy rich man disease.
So for about month I hobbled around on a broken leg. I was between cars (and hell if mom was going to help) so I limped the mile-and-a-half to and from work every day, very, very slowly, biting my upper lip in agony, wondering when my gout medication was going to kick in.
I switched hospitals. The cute doctor who scrutinized the X-rays said that it looked like my leg was broken for a long time. Another Doctor, who dabbled in writing, kept calling me Hemingway, claiming that I was a word warrior and because i hated standing still when they gauzed and cast my leg. I actually went through "three" casts because I kept trying to push my recovery. Kept trying to heal myself.
When I went back to work the next morning my dearest student Sherita scribbled on the side of my cast:
Mister V.B.- You is SO UGLY!!!!!! Kids! Even when I'm crippled, hell if I could get them to write proper english.
Easter break came and I still had only my cast to keep me company. I was for the most part, an immobile twenty-four year old alcoholic trying to understand what was going on, but the words finally floated back in my direction, each word flapping, chirping, gradually floating down onto the computer screen, one bird at a time.
I found a cafe within limping distance and had only one motto to adhere to: Your ass doesn't move.
I sat. I already had a strong (yet messy) 600 pages of "the book with the long title." The book was about a year and a half old then. Everyday I sat at the cafe with a blank page, my only proviso was--you sit on your ass and don't leave until you've coherently filled up ten of these white pages.
That's when the magic happened. I was in pain. I was sad. I no longer had a father but as I sat with my legged propped up at C'est Ce Bon swigging java refills, slowly the lingusitic glittter that I've, for some reason, dedicated my life to gradually tapped onto the screen. The sentences began to incubate, peck free and hatch. It was like the tide was finally coming in, washing over the hot sand, cooling off my burnt neck with a quick nocturanl breeze.
Monday, September 27, 2004
"The text (or message) serves as the crux in Jakobson’s basic schemata of linguistic communication. It is through the text that the reader comes into contact with the Context, the Addresser, and the Contact Code. Using Jakobson’s text oriented schemata, the reader is capable of, as Sheldon notes, actualizing, “what would otherwise only remain potentially meaningful” (Sheldon 48)."
Came home beat from work last night. I still look pretty good for averaging less than five hours of sleep the past half-decade. I need to squeeze the emotional harness on excessive caffeine. I need to eat better, or at least eat. I need to flush out that breakthrough story so I don't drown in the jaundice, stale hallways of academia. Or maybe so I don't just plain drown. Most importantly I need my loans to kick in so I can become a student. I've NEVER had a semester where I wasn't juggling at least thirty-hours of menial labor on the side in addition to a full load in the classroom. Normally I have little-to-midland trouble, but this semester I'm honestly drained. I'm sick of serving my Mara ( Mara=Bradley sick opulent study body) --A Mara who has short-hair and daddy's trust fund and who gives me shit at the Reserves desk just because they lack the perspicacity of the avg. toddler to open a net file.
Seems like I'm always in stiff competetion with these snooty short-haired northside lads. I'm envious of their country-clubs, their cruisers, their clothes, their deep pocketed parents who toss out cash like stale new years eve confetti to the college or interest of their spoiled progenies choice. Parents' who support their careers.
The envy is mutual, I suppose. I know my boobless Mara's are envious of my poetry, my drug-connections, my street smarts; they'd stomp their Steppford Wives out of the bedroom in a second for a round with the feral,untethered females I seem to attract. They're envious of the implicit freedom I've found in having zippo stock in material commodities and having everything stored between the lobes of my ears, the ribbed prison of my chest, the calloused tips of my avid fingers, incessanlty chiseling away at the topography of the keyboard until I linguistically sculpt the face of the one person I seem to have lost. The person I couldn't be with because, unlike them, I was broke and my father was shaped less like a millionaire and more like an ash tray exhausted and filled from the heavy smoke of happy hour.
Bakhtin employs Onegin’s authorial centered schemata to enforce his notion of textual importance and language systmes. The text is instrumental in forming a zone of dialogic content with Onegin’s centralized author. An appreciation for language systems such as polyglossia and monoglossia arises when the reader notes the interface between text and author. As Bakhtin notes, “The author participates in the novel (he is omnipresent in it) with almost no direct language of his own. The language is a system of languages that mutually and ideologically interanimate each other.” Using this schemata Bakhtin observes that, “It is impossible to describe and analyze (the novel) as a single unitary language” (Lodge 110).
Ick!Too much pessimism! Too much arid academic laced prose! Just got back from a spontaneous meeting with my creative writing prof. He forced me to sit down and shoved the first three pages of his novel WHITE LIGHT in my face.
"I've spent over 1000 hours just writing these three pages over and over again." He said.
Three prismatic beautifully well-written pages. Each word a delicate verbal pedal, pluck one and the paragraph topples like a game of drunk college jenga.
My prof. talks with a looming nostalgia; too much time monopolized in academia trying to make it as a writer, not enough time being able to write. I gave him the best advice I know.
"Don't worry about rewriting. Just write everyday. If you do, things will happen. "
"We'll talk about grad school sometimes." My prof. says. "You never know, it's all about money. If you have enough money, you'll be able to do well. But maybe they'll give you money if they like your stories. They're crazy stories, but maybe some liberal arts college will gnaw into them and foist them off as the next big thing."
"Yeah, maybe" I concede. I try to be positive. Writing is a very isolated profession, one, at times, that pines for attention. The act of a solitary shadow brushing himself against a pebbled shore of subatomic thoughts and words, yelling out for momentary companionship, hoping some facelss reader will care enough about your hobby to hold you in her palms and slowly savor each labored syllable.
"Just write everyday." I tell him, my hubris is speaking. "And jettison everything you know about literary theory. Just have fun with it."
The prof inquries about my friend Nick the writer. Like all of us, Nick's sacrifieced everything to have a life in the arts. Nick's a few years older than my bloggin' buddies.
What I tell Nick is that we can't hold onto it (this writing) all the time. Can't get obssesed to the point where the husband always has to know who his nuptial half is hanging with.
"What I tell Nick is this, 'We can't let this lifeboat become an anchor. We can't let this one thing that we've invested all our faith in to save us, sink us.'" That's what I tell my professor. Crazy david, who writes stories his mom won't even read. Crazy Nick whose parents have disowned him because he shapes sentences everyday and may not be paid in three years.
"Crazy life," I tell my prof, telling him that I'd feel honored to read his manuscript once he prints it out. "If we write everyday, things will happen."
I tell him this. Crazy David who never sleeps and who's been an undergraduate slacker on and off for eight years and who still can't get his own life straight.
Uncle Mike and I talk about poverty and smile. Mike's just purchased a huge house so he can hold Baha'i socials. We both have checks scheduled to come in on the 29th.
"It seems like the Concourse really doesn't care about money." I say.
"No, they really don't!" Uncle Mike comments, almost excitedly. It is two in the morning. I've been working all day. Mike is watching television.
"It seems like humor they approve of, and finances are just secondary."
"I'll tell you why," Mike says. He grows quiet. There is subtle glow to his face like a copper penny just dished out from the wash.
"The Bab, Bahá'u'lláh, `Abdu'l-Bahá, Shogi Effendi." He counts there names off slowly, granting a finger's weight to each.
"They all could have been very wealthy if they wanted too," He adds. "Bahá'u'lláh came from one of the most wealthy families in Persia. He easily could have had the foresight to siphon off all of his wealth in different accounts before he was exiled and imprisoned." Mike notes. I've been working all day, all weekend. I should be exhausted. When Uncle Mike talks I become alert and keen.
"Shoggi Effendi, too" Mike adds. "We have records of how much he spent. He was very frugal. He gave up coffee for a year because he thought it was too much of a luxury."
I smile. Mike talks about his time in Hafai.
"I was having dinner with Khanum one night and she said that when she and Shoggi Effendi were married he only had one good suit. At the time of his death, he only owned one good suit--the same suit."
I smile. It seems like everything that I hardcore stress out about will eventually fade into oscillating protons and neutrons whose meted weight is significant yet invisible. That this albatrose of asphyxiated fiscal burden, will pass. That what we as human beings place material emphasis on; my abhorrence for foppy rich boys, my own incurred debt, my workalholicsm, my dreams of being a writer, all of it, at times, seems of little importance.
After all if one lifetime suit was good enough for the guardian of the world's religion.....
" Call for the high road once again
Come the day of judgment
Where will you be, my friend?"
-Freudian Press, Lattergasthall Symphony
Saturday, September 25, 2004
Anyway, when I arrived back home from my eternal tryst I felt completely worthless, like a crinkled up back pocket receipt dated from a product that no longer worked, only my heart was that aged product. My sisters had very promising careers as musicians and I was, well, the writer, but my parents really didn't seem too keen on anything I did as long as I didn't smoke in the house.
According to Sister A, the miniature slants splintered on the thumbless side of my left palm indicate the number of times I'm suspect to watch my heart slip and shatter in front of me like wet delf China. Sister A looked like she was squinting through magnifying lenses when she deeply perused the inside of the hand (it was a very mystical experience) so I sincerely take to heart her prognostication that I'll have my heart broken four times in my life. Megan was the first time I got my heart broken, Vanessa was the second (can't wait to meet numbers three and four) and here is why Megan matters:
I used to only write in black ink and notebook paper and when I arrived home from my seasonal sojourn with Mara Megan I locked my door and transcribed the scroes (50, 60?) of poems written for Megan into the computer. I slaved relentlessly, pecking the swirls of my aching fingers into the keyboard like a young chick gradually hatching from an egg.
I worked my ass off. Although I was an accomplished vizionary, I was a very young, verbally naive writer. The poems were pretty shitty poems, although their heart was in the right place. I wrote and I wrote and finally, after a week of tears constantly canaling down my cheekbones ( everytime I saw my bluish reflection in the computer screen I thought it was her) BAM...it was done. I watched my newborn take it's first breath as each sheet slowly buzzed and whizzed, slowly exiting the slits of my parents early nineties printer.
I collated the poems and bound them in a notebook, awarding the script with the calligraphic title POEMS OF LOVE AND ARDOR FOR MEGAN KRISTIN.....
My first completed book of poems after high school. I didn't care. It wasn't about the writing . It wasn't solely about me. It was trying to figure out what the hell was going on. Where was I? Why am I here? What does it mean to watch your heart droop in front of you like it's taking a bow after the final encore of a tragic Italian Opera. Why did my sisters have promising futures and all I had was the promise of happy hour every friday?
What I did next was what Megan gave me. I took my newborn manuscript and stuffed it in a shoebox manger for sixteen months. I had read Megan many of her poems tete-a-tete on my visit, but I burrowed my blood sonnets in a Doc Marten shoebox. I refrained from writing or calling her. All the love I had for Megan pulsated and flapped in the beaded lines of my poems, a book of poems I wrote with the intent of having each line reflect the forever smile of her face, the forever scent of her breath, the inside warmth of her mouth.
During those sixteen months I quit writing poems, wrote a HORRIBLE david foster Wallace influenced novel on basketball and Opera (?) dropped out of college to work as a supervisor at Barnes and Nobles, lost (or maybe found) my virgintiy to a rich Bradley girl from the suburbs.
Everything in my life seemed perfect. I had more cash than I had ever had. I wasn't in debt. I was writing a fair amount. I had a beautiful girlfriend named Jana that I took out on lavishing dates every Friday. I had VERY short hair. I wore cool ties. I talked about the books I would write someday.
Even my mom seemed to actually think I had some dormant potential stowed in my skeleton.
On Valentines day '98 I lied to my parents and took the weekend off from work and Jana rented a hotel room in Chicago. She showed me her old high school. Her old house. We attended Mass together Sunday morning. She introduced me to friends that were special to her. We couldn't keep our fingers from snapping towards each others body.
The Sunday night I came home I brewed coffee and decided to reread Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I can't recall the exact time (11:11) but it was close when the phone reverberated and a familair soft velvet-laced voice inquired if I was home.
It was Megan.
She came back to me at the most inopportune time in my life, but she came back to me, and I did the only thing I could do. I welcomed her. I sent her the book of poems written sixteen months earlier. She said she was speechless.
I got drunk and wrote Megan's name all over my body with different colored markers. I wanted her to reclaim old territory. My girlfriend Jana figured that something was going on when she saw looped smudges somersaulting across my body. I had to tell her the truth.
Someday maybe I'll blogg about the next four months that followed. I had a timeless afternoon with Megan watching RENT in Chicago and I can still show you the corner of State and Adams where last we kissed. Jana was rightfully furious and rightfully fooled around with people to make me envious. A lot of it's a blur. It ended with me going back to Jana, partly because she was here, partly because I wasn't even twenty-one and, as is typical with males, my brain was located beneath my navel, partly because no one can really know for certain what they really want, no one can tell you from the outset how things will work out in the beginning of any relationship; all we have to follow is an inexplicable tug orchestrated by the fingertips of invisible angels.
Obviously Jana and I didn't last. She got married about a year after we broke up. When I saw a picture of her in her wedding dress I just had to smile. Thank God it wasn't me in the picture next to her.
But what Megan gave me was the fullfillment of Walt Whitman's proveb:
O ME! O life!... of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish;
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;
Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;
Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined;
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.
Blogging's a lot like putting your heart into an empty gin bottle and then tossing it out as far as you possibly can into the ocean of cyberspace. You never know whose shore the bottle is going to brush up on. You never know who's going to uncork the capsule of your life's story. Never know who's going to be moved by it. You never know (i.e., Joe Propinka) what literary genius is going to stalk you.
(Well, maybe if your first name is ARYA, you know....)
I have no plans on future correspondence with Megan. The last two times I've wandered around Madison I didn't even bother to look her up (She would probably hang up anyway). I contacted her on 9-11 and when my father died three years ago, she was the only voice I needed to hear. We talked for a long time the Saturday following his funeral and we both cried. I don't know how it's possible to hold people over the computer screen or to hold people over the wireless warble of a cell phone, but I held her that day, on the phone and we drained tears from one emotionally fatigued socket.
The greatest gift that Megan gave me was just the ability to write. I'm still developing it (when I get a rejection letter I take it way too much to heart)... I've opted to forge a career that pays in a foreign currency. What I learned from Megan was that, even if I write something and put it in a shoebox for sixteen months (or don't hear from anyone in over a year) that that wordy "something" still has the possibility of growing and I have the simple duty of giving or at least trying to give as much of myself as the concourse will perhaps allow.
Friday, September 24, 2004
Things with Megan and I have LONG since dissolved. Her snug smile was the french kiss that planted many beautiful poems and some wonderful romantic sojourns (as well as exorbitant phone bills)...I still think of her when I hear Bob Dylan's GIRL OF THE NORTH COUNTRY and e-mail her sporadically (though it's clear that she want s zippo to do with my world) Overall she's one of the two/three females I can really say that I gave it all up for at a young age and it just didn't work out between us. Which is a blessing, I think. I still love her now (in a timeless, poetic way) and I don't think if we would have gotten married at 19 or 20 (our golden years) I would have that occasional sunset tinkle.
Anyway, here's her picture (so my sisters get a lil' idea of the sort of girls I'm capable of falling madly in love with--as if you don't already know!).....a refulgent galaxy pinwheeling out of control deep in the heart of D Universe....
Boy, if she ever reads this, am I ever gonna get shit!
If you're travelin' in the north country fair,
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline,
Remember me to one who lives there.
She once was a true love of mine.
If you go when the snowflakes storm,
When the rivers freeze and summer ends,
Please see if she's wearing a coat so warm,
To keep her from the howlin' winds.
Please see for me if her hair hangs long,
If it rolls and flows all down her breast.
Please see for me if her hair hangs long,
That's the way I remember her best.
I'm a-wonderin' if she remembers me at all.
Many times I've often prayed
In the darkness of my night,
In the brightness of my day.
So if you're travelin' in the north country fair,
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline,
Remember me to one who lives there.
She once was a true love of mine.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
It is autumn. The feeling of Friday night and high school football games beaming against the intoxicating glint of a chalky field fraught with hormonally-fueled teenagers bearing helmets and shoulder pads in lieu of american armor. The thick, drapery of night pierced by the movie-screen forehead of the woman you are in love with, the cidery thick-ashy scent of a homecoming bonfire swirling smoke-signals off in the distance as you hold her close, sharing the same thermos or bottle, staring heavily into the same starry quilt looming above.
It is autumn. Political placards salute groomed yards. Expired bushels of leaves are raked into an abandoned funeral pyre. The sunsets seem to dissipate, offering the world a nuclear-tang; a refulgent orange glower before the lavender hue of dusk quietly errupts from the east and you realize that you are part of this planetary vessel--a vessel which pulsates and thrives and swoops through seasons. You realize that you are a part of this planetary bulb. That you are 93 million miles away from the spacial thermoculcear socket that cranks out life, cranks out every feeling you have ever known.
It is autumn. Season of pumpkins and gords, sallow cornhusks slaughtered on the side of the road, reaped and ploughed for harvest. Abandoned halloween candy splashed over sewer drains like a chirstened cornucopia. Christmas catalogues the size of Hindu Vedas stuffed into mail slits.
It is Autumn. Uncle Larry brews coffee at 4am on a Saturday before he loads his remington and drives his truck out lone Smithville road, quietly camouflaging his post, waiting for the sprinkle of deer to meander and trod, waiting , patiently, before the calloused swirl of his fingertip snaps the trigger and he hauls his hobby back home to his garage, gutting the carcass with the skill of a neaderthal artist.
It is autumn. A young boy who is seventeen discovers Whitman and writes sloppy poems. He wades his body out into the alphabetical pond of sound and experience. He writes about the creature he held the previous summer. Writes about the moment of self-discovery, writes stanza's the way he feels her body is composed, the way his heart is composed. He writes in sentences that reaches out of the frame of the page, sentences that kick free from the harnessed academic notation of convention and form, sentences that will somehow lead him into her gentle palms again, in a dimmed candle room, where he writes all alone, his heart carved like a rococo jack-o-lantern.
It is autumn. The northern hemipshere is chanting out its seasonal swan song and the sight of her body and the proximity of her flesh keeps your spirit peppermint tea warm through the thick evergreen descent of winter.
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
"Now I been lookin' for a job but it's hard to find
Down here it's just winners and losers
and don't get caught on the wrong side of that line
Well I'm tired of comin' out on the losin' end
So honey last night I met this guy and I'm gonna do a little favor for him
Well I guess everything dies baby that's a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
Put your hair up nice and set up pretty
and meet me tonight in Atlantic City"
Perhaps it'll be all good. I've been living off of "dribbling" checks and TV dinners. I've had a hard time focusing and trying to tame my Mara. example, I almost went off and cussed out my prof. the other day. he gives me a "C" on a paper then cancels four class periods. I can understand the "C" (the paper was only worth 5 percent of my total grade) but canceling class means that I've just flushed $600 down the financial latrine. Unbelievable--this is the prof. who makes it a HUGE deal that I'm a upin' cumin' writer, god love 'em! He wrote a book twenty years ago that he's still trying to get published. Am I his dart board? Bullseye. I'm still gonna be writing twenty-years from now no matter what, but I'll be damned if my future in the english language solely consists in scribbling
in the side margins of Freshman compositions.
Oh well, nothing like indulging in a lil' poverty every now and then to make you understand the human condition. Uncle Mike has lots of money ( and boy does he ever give it all away asking for nothin' back in return) but we got into a verbal bullsfight over monetary merit yesterday afternoon. Uncle Mike lashed at me and told me that I was dwelling too much on fiscal woes. I bit back at him. He told me that 98 percent of ALL mammals are in the same boat I'm in. I told him 98 percent of all mammals don't risk their health the way I've been by working all the time. He told me HA, go to a third world country. I told him fine, lets go, I'd welcome the simplicity of a twelve hour work day.
Another irony is that, instead of giving MARA tea, I seduce her. Every college girl I've ever dated, slept with, fallen head-over-Doc. Martens in love with has been a TRUE scholar, i.e., Valedictorian, brilliant, full-ride, ect. and it's like, "Shit. Am I only dating these girls because, subconciously, they have something I want?"
Nine-times-outta-ten it's always my workoholicism that spawns a fissure in our relationship. I come home tired or I come home and just want to write or i come home and she's on the rag and we both get into it because the date on the milk has expired and I made an ill-time joke about her mother. Petty stuff like that.
Of course there's no dating pre-requisite, but subconcioulsy it's like we're abacus beads that smack together
in a nuclear clack of magnetic attraction and then oust the "other" out of our spurious dreams eternally.
One more week. I can do one more week (any more and I'm gonna drown a midget) but I can do one more week.
'Bout a week ago or so Daniela wrote a brilliant entry about trekking out her life's path. It was a saturday morning and I had to work a LONG day and I elicited a comment about the path being a lonely one at times. Faceless Ace commented and said that he thought I was wrong, that the path wasn't essentially one of emotional destitution. I have to disagree. It's a beautiful path. The sunsets are a luminous, but at times its hard, at times
it's damn lonely (if it wasn't we wouldn't feel compelled to blogg all the goddamn time) and at times you feel completely vacant inside. The most important thing is that you're still capable of feeling. You're still capable of dreaming. The most important thing is knowing that deep down inside as long as you have a pulse, you're participating in the life you feel that you were meant to lead.
That said never give up. Keep fighting for that child inside. Keep dreaming and one day you'll wake up and realize that, yes, it wasn't all that bad, even when times were shitty, we still had hope, we still had dreams, we still had the capacity to change and to bring music into a crowded dancefloor that is patiently waiting to groove to that perfect song.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Here's the (much slaved over) notes for my lecture:
The Viennese linguistic philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once noted that, “If eternity is understood not by endless temporal duration, but by timelessness, than he who lives in the present lives eternally.” I find the rudiments of this quote germane to the cinematic ethos richly espoused in Richard Linklater’s Gen-X gabfest Before Sunrise, partly because the film was shot around Vienna at dusk and partly because, from a linguistic perspective, the movies dialogue serves as the uniting thread sewing the dual-protagonists multi-layered sentences into one pulsating heart.
This notion of eternity as “Timelessness” is evident in Linklater’s late-night café scene. Early in the film Jesse employs the notion of time as a method (or bullshit flirtatious rhetoric) of cozening Celine off the train, beckoning her to consider his talkathon invite as “Time travel from then till now.”
"Think of it like this. Um, uh, jump ahead, ten, twenty years, okay, and you're married. Only your marriagedoesn't have that same energy that it used to have, y'know. You start to blame your husband. You start to think about all those guys you've met in your life, and what might have happened if you'd picked up with one of them, right? Well, I'm one of those guys. That's me. y'know, so think of this as time travel, from then, to now, uh, to find out what you're missing out on. See, what this really could be is a gigantic favour to both you and your future husband, to find out that you're not missing out on anything. I'm just as big a loser as he is, totally unmotivated, totally boring, and, uh, you made the right choice, and you're really happy."
As the café scene convenes Jesse and Celine have already spent five hours together peeling into the other’s swiftly changing view of the planet. They have kissed twice. They have lured the audience into the film through witty chatter and magnetic expressions. The crisp cinematic camera angles at times seems to linger heavily on the “other”, granting generous close-up’s on the brow of the respective listener. The two lovers are slowly beginning to inch towards that monumental precipice of love and leap off. But there are still social apprehensions harbored in this dreamworld dalliance (remember, they just met). Akin to the linguistic games of fellow Viennese philosophers Celine institutes a cunning rhetorical game of her own where, over cold-coffee and lackluster late-night service, Celine pretends to phone home to Paris, informing her best friend the reason why she is not on the train. The scene works partly because of the superb almost spontaneous acting. Without warning Celine starts addressing Jesse as if he really “is” someone else in an effort to discover what her really thinks bout her as an individual. Jesse (shocked, almost confused at first) playfully responds and the result is an epiphanic troika where both actors and the audience are arguably elevated.
The scene starts with cinematic flashes of a Viennese café in the nocturnal hours. There is a table of late-night revelers sobering up after a night of hedonism. There is a shot of a three german philosophers talking in very calculated nods. There is the perfunctory shot of an American yuppie grousing about the service. The entire café is engulfed in stale cigar smoke. Finally a close-up of our lovers meddling with their doctored mochas.
Celine: Okay, now I’m going to call my best friend in Paris who I’m supposed to have lunch with in 8 hours. Okay?
Jesse: (confused, in love) Okay?
There is confusion of Jesse’s behalf. The camera focuses solely on Celine, who is holding out her thumb and pinkie up to her ear and mouth, mimicking a young child and a game of telephone. She begins to reverberate her lips in buzzing drones.
Celine: Pick-up. Pick up the phone.
The camera intermittently skips and focuses intently on Jesse’s confused facial reactions. The clattering din of the café gradually wanes and we are left with simply the two protagonists trying to connect via “playing” a game of telephone. True to the verisimilitude of the film, Celine begins to whiz away to her friend in her idiomatic French. There is more confusion and more flashbacks and eventually Jesse (pretending to be Celine’s friend suggests, “A-uh-I’ve been working on my English, recently, do you wanna talk in English. Just for laughs?”
What follows is a delightful discourse accompanied by cinematic close-ups and dialogic pauses inserted for dramatic effect. Celine avails her phobias and anxieties by play-phone to her best friend in Paris (played on the spot by Jesse) and Jesse, in return dials home to the United States and talks with his best friend (played on the spot by Celine).
The result is an indelible feeling of love and timelessness sculpted by the bonds of dialogue. Both actors are pretending to “be” somewhat else and in the process they “grow” as a singular couple. The culminating finale of the café scene happens when Celene, (Pretending to be Jesse’s best friend from home) declares, “Us men are so stupid. We don’t understand anything about women. They act kind of strange. The little I know them.”
The implicit irony is appreciated and the camera lens zooms back into the smoky dusk of the café, leaving the audience momentarily alone, wafting in this pocketed timeless dream world they have somehow found.
Monday, September 20, 2004
Well, I need to swing the bat. Especially when it comes to school. Scholastically speaking, I've had a worst September than the Chicago Cubs. I keep swinging the academic Lousiville slugger as hard as I f#$%ing can only to realize that the ball, the elusive, spherical planet has already whiffed past me without my previous knowledge, safely secure in the crass mit of the "published" prof.'s unerring glove.
Published my ass. Their academic articles have as much life as the stats to my grandpa's life-time shuffleboard average. What bothers me is that in all my classes I sit in the front row, ask copious amounts of questions, am always my convivial and crazy (long) haired self and still I get comments like:
"You're just trying to be cute." or "Don't you think you should take this assignment a little more seriously?" or "Brilliant prose but I just can't figure out what you're trying to say?"
Most of these prof.'s I'm real good friends with and they acknowledge me as a burgeoning writer. Which kinda sucks because it's like, "You've written how many words and you're still and undergarduate?"
Check this out, so far this semester I've received nothing higher than a B. A Bee? (of the two assignments I've had turned back). As my gay friends used to say, sugah, I may be dumb, but I ain't stupid.
Perhaps they're just grading me harder because they want to see how I'll react. Fine, this is how I'll react. Everytime I'm in the classroom I'll be ready for the pitch, be ready to hit the ball outta the park on the first swing. Be ready to round the bases and then I'll come back to the plate the next inning, my eyelids fully ajar, my spirit fully ablaze, everything that is inside of me (or rather--toady that I am--whatever the academic geekzoids want me to write for them to get that maraesque A) is sweating out from the top of my brow like a stage curtain about ready to plummet on the final aria.
That said, I'm off to give my professors exactly what they want and hopefully, give them a smile along the way.
Joe Propinka showed up today.....
......Unlike my student loans.
Sunday, September 19, 2004
Anyway, Joe, whoever you are, can't wait to meet you!
Until I "caught" the garter. Due to maladroit junior high motor-skills, when I played little League coach always stationed me in Deep left field. No chance whatsoever of ever having to marshall your feet, extend your emergent elbow and pray to spirit of Joe Dimaggio that the plummeting white sphere perfectly lands smack center in your trembling mit. When Dave sling-shoted the garter I even had my back turned and it fell on my head like a dead, girly nimbus.
October is pending and it's an election year which inevitably must mean that a new rotation of my "cycle" is starting to gradually curve. Tomorrow I get to become a full-time student again. I've been attending classes full-time now for about a year but I've been living off of whatever accumulated lint I've had stowed in my pockets. Now that my loans kicked in, I get a meal plan which means no more living off of Starbucks and stale cereal. I get a few extra pair of jeans, I get to finish (just in time) purchasing the heap of books for the rest of the semester (I'm sick of bullshitting in class) and I get to tell my boss tomorrow that i'll no longer be able to close the library at 3 am every night.
I'm really not a huge fan of the cycle. It feels like I'm trapped. Like whatever recursive loop-hole transipres I can justify with being part of the cycle. I hate that feeling. The feeling that the only way I can harness my life is by justifying it to a pattern. An intermittent design. There's no freedom in that. and I vowed last night that I would hatch out of it. That four years down the line I wouldn't be the same individual that I am today. That I wouldn't remain stuck. that I would grow, that I would hatch, that I would peck my way out of the cyclical shell i've been enclosed in and really find out who I am and what I'm capable of acheiving.
When I arrived home from the wedding and bullshitted with uncle Mike he told me not to worry about it.
"You may never really know why certain things happen in this realm," Uncle Mike said, like a little kid, "Just remember...it continues."
Friday, September 17, 2004
Always a pleasure reading your prose!!! It sprints and pulsates, beams across the page like a nuclear locomotive that's just run out of its last strip of rail. Your paragraphs are refulgent, radiant, electric, peppering the page with erudite metnonymic bliss.With ease and facile, you lure the unsuspecting reader into an amphetamine sugar-coated paradise of unparellel imagery that is a delight to swallow. You weave incediary sentences and shaded storylines together, coalescing like neon DNA strands that ferally claws up the back of this readers neck when it reaches that apical moment of human connection, yelling out the name of the faceless elusive author, cosigned to chronicle such splendiferous prose.
It's been fun Joe! You are an author of tremendous talent and I wish you all the best and feel honored to call you a contemporary. I love writing. I try to write books for a living and I've sacrifieced a lot to make ends meet. Your prose is a wish-for song in a jukebox that was previously humming vacant hymns and swan-song soliloquies. Thank you very much for sprinkling the frosting of my bloggs with such unbidden joy!
On a one-to-one basis though, Joe, candidly this shit of you fucking with my mind just doesn't cut it. I use blogging as a writing activity and on-line I'm a confessional welt, blisteringly open with my identity; blisteringly open with who I am as a human being and more importantly, who I'm trying to become as an individual. As an adult. I admit though that I do hide behind the lavender skyline dusk of labored sentences from time to time, but that's what writers do; words are nothing more or less than gauze for battered emotional wounds.
For someone who has not constituted a blogg of your own, you feel compelled to comment on my bloggs. I have no problem with that, and thank you for reading, only I wish you'd be open with your identity. Be more open with exactly "how we have met." This isn't a writer's workshop, this is a blog, and myself, daniela and arya daily shovel out our poetic innards on-line. People who take the time to actually read our bloggs find that we don't have our shit together, that we are bumbling wayfareres, that our thoughts and hearts are often jangled and in dire need of resucitation through each other's comments and support. That said, all this blogg is at times is a poetic-crutch, a feeble wooden spine that gives us assistance, that helps us walk up right when the only way the sprial staircase stumbles is down.
By concealing your true identity, Joe, your simply being unfair to people I love. Guilty, the mysterious aura you cast is alluring, however at this time in my life I've simply sacrifieced too much shit to play petty games. This isn't literary poker, this is life, fucking life and it's simply unfair and arrogant of you to take the time to compose dazzingly prose, flapping your full-house of literati talents in our visages while being elusive with your identity.
I do have my postualtions about who you are, Joe. Kris Weberg is brilliant, writes like you, but would have no reason to hide. Neither would Patrick Mullowney, who lives in New York and is also a brilliant writer. I've always been open with how brilliant and talented I feel Kris and Patrick are.
My ex-girlfriend's Elisa and Vanessa both write like you too. Elisa plays games so you could easily be her, but we left with a common strand of romantic mutality sewn between us. Vanessa, on the other hand, writes like you. She's amazing, Joe and when we dated five years ago I was always envious of all the attention she got. I was sadly Saleri to her Mozart and for a the last four months of our rapport every time I stuck my tongue in her mouth it was green with envy. I'm not proud of how I behaved with Vanessa, Joe. I said some things, did some things that still weight pretty heavily on me today. I fucked up. I mitigated her importance as a human being. She was so brilliant, though! She made my creativity look like pre-cum and she's simply, Joe, the most talented individual I've ever met. Ever held. Ever connected with.
We were purely ego, Joe. Both of us were always trying to one-up the other, and my greatest sin with Vanessa, Joe, was that I never did fully realize just how beautiful the music could have been had we composed our tunes in the same key signature. I didn't have the maturity, didn't have the hurt, didn't have the experience, didn't have the joy realize that we could have been a tour de force with two hands and two gentaila and two streams of gushing wild, long hair, and yet, somehow become a dual unit with only with one smile, one forehead, one deeply pulsating heart burrowed beneath the same pit of flesh.
I never realized this Joe. Like you, I felt almost compelled to cast a cloak over my true desire for union. I feel like I had to thrive under the umbra's of excessive religious residue stung into from my own parents.
I don't know if she still writes, Joe, but I hope she does. The two of you have a lot to offer the world. There's writers who are innately talented and gifted for greatness from utero and there's writers like myself who have to work on it a little bit to make there sentences shine. Joe, you're easily on the Vanessa-Elisa-Patrick-Kris caliber. And I wish you all the best as a writer. If you're trying to red-flag my attention you've had it from the first poetic college town slant you chiseled into the comment section of my blogg earlier this week. I'm a fan of your work, Joe. To bad your elusive identity prevents me from being a fan of you.
If you do see her, if you do see Vanessa, Joe, you need to tell her that I'm sorry for alotta of old shit. Sorry how I treated her. Sorry how I was always envious of her. Sorry for a lot of things. I'm thankful for what she gave me and from time to time I still find myself guzzling down the barren strips of the Manito Black, my right hand listless like a dead cabbage in the seat next to me, in the seat where she used to sit, our hands forming one human bouquet the size of an overly-taxed human heart.
You should really get to know Vanessa, Joe. As an angel she plucks her own quills out from her body and tabs her own blood for inky sentences that are completely capable of capturing the human condition as we know it ('member Tess and Honor?) using my body (or my blogg) as parchment for her immortal sonnets.
Take care Joe. I simply ask that you contact me and avail yourself soon. Tell me how I know you. I'm a full time student and a full time worker and a writer and I don't have time to sop up beautiful drool from the creative chin of an on-line stalker. You seem to be connected to my work (or at least alarmed in a fashion that you feel compelled to comment)...All I ask is that you award me the same pleasure....
All the best, beauty you love be what you do,
David A. Von Behren
Thursday, September 16, 2004
I wake up feeling alive, my body baptized by the dormant position of the matress, my staticky short hair applauding itself from the box seats of my skull, a feeling of being lulled by the Pacific Ocean, a feeling of being relaxed, and then I realize that every October since '98 I've lived in a different building. A different house, a different apartment. I realize that every October since '94 I've harbored different hopes, different ambitions, different loves. Different vices, different proclivities, different jobs. I'm always broke. I'm always lonely. I can't write. I'm writing all the time. So much I have no clue of what I'm saying. I'm getting some left and right. I'm reading stale yellow love letters from Harmony Dusek, girl I met in London in April, 1993. The girl I used to read TS Eliot to over the phone. The girl who got married my senior year of high school and invited me to be in the wedding, quoting that I was just such a vital and integral part of her life, why couldn't I just put my personal feelings for her on the back burner for a moment and be happy for her on her special day, even though we were dating just six months earlier, even though she hardly knew the guy she was marrying, even though her her mom called me back prior to my last flight to MUNICH and told me that she had no control over her daughter, that she had no clue if her daughter had lost her virginity prior to making the vow before God, the promising palms of her husband clutched in her own benevolent hands, connecting their bodies, standing before a pastel altar connected by the grip of a bony umbilicus.
I wake up. I wake up in 2002 and find my dad located beneath a pitching mound of dirt. I'm working 80 hours a week. I'm coughing up what looks like motor grease from smoking all the time. I live off of fastfood and camel filters and Starbucks diluted with a shot of Jack Daniels or Baileys. I come into work, my caffeinated libation half-doctored. No one says anything. This is routine. I can still be charming. I can still be witty. I have long hair that augers well for my image and sexual prowess. I ferry around a novel I call my "two and ahalf year old." The novel's huge. Parts of it intentinally don't make any sense. I refer to the novel as my daughter. I refer to how fat she is at only two years of age.
"Two and a half years old and we're already shopping at Lane Bryant." I jest. "You outta see her mother. It's like if Dante had Carnie Philips for his Muse."
Writing a first novel is like pecking your way out of a shell. You peck diligently, chisleing away incesantly at the blank mirror of microsoft word. You peck and you peck and then you realize that you were outside the egg to begin with. That what you were thrashing your emotions against, night after night, like a sea captain submerged in a tempest, was nothing more than your own ego. Your own grandiose perception of yourself. Your own mangled Mara, which you find, in the morning after the storm, drowned, lying face down in a puddle of your own expired tears.
Speaking of Muses and Dante, I remember reading once that Dante only actually met Beatrice twice in his life. Once when she was nine and he was eighteen. Once when she was eighteen and he was twenty-seven, my current age. Dante claimed that she was a nine because "Her roots were erected in the trinity." The scholarly paper that informs me this shows me a mathematical rendering of three cubed.
I think about Dante's first book, La Vita Nuova. I think about love being something divinely ordained and orchestrated by the concourse.
Then I think about how Dante had a wife at home who he never wrote about. He had a wife, he was married to for over twenty years. He had a wife, a faceless female he slipped inside of in between inky first drafts of Hell and Purgatory, pressing his Ventian-exiled akward limbs inide of her, all the while thinking about young Beatrice, thinking about Beatrice manifesting herself as the countenance of God in his arms, leaving his nameless wife a moment before climax at the welcome matt of Heaven and frolicking into the pubescent limbs and fair-forehead of Beatrice.
I feel bleesed. I've had muses who I've seen more than once. I've had enounters with beautiful females who cave paint the interior canvas of my dreams with an unclassified color that shines. I think that perhaps this is the way it works. You can't have her, you write a book. She still doesn't want you. Then you wake up one afternoon after a surging powernap and you find her behind you, find her above you, find her in the bluish reflection of your windshield as you make a left turn, find her breath in every song that weaves out from the lobes of the stereo.
Find her always being there, always being there evey moment, every second.
I go into work. I'm charming. I answer startled customers compliments who still haven't seen my hair. I deal with my annoying co-workers with a feigned smile of encouragement. I make jack shit. I pay student loans. I go to bed by myself. I wake up refreshed, head-banging everything inside of me onto the page, into the computer, into the lives for a muse who will never come back to me, into the taut breasts of a reader I have never met.
I make ends meet. I drink lots of coffee. I do what needs to be done in my life.
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
AHHHHHH....nothing beats an occasional pampering!
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
It's what just happened to me, only it was a zipp drive with over 500-800 pages of my writing FROM THIS YEAR stowed inside. There was something going around campus and now the computers won't read my work...surprisingly I'm detached. NO, really...I've grown up. Four years ago if I lost a haiku I'd be violently thrashing my mother's Moribund Macintosh through a window. Now it's like.....uh...no big deal.....As long as I write everyday.....besides....as a writer I ALWAYS want to be getting better, and if I'm attahced like a leech to one piece of exposition all my life, I'll never grow, right?
I do (Thank god) have printed 1st drafts at home. Nothing like a solid re-write every now and again.
Good news is that I started work on a Kick-ass screenplay today titled St. Cecelia's Playground. It's a very dear work to me (not as dear as those 500 pages, but still)..it's actually work by a guy named Rick Baker, a legend among central Illinois journalists.
Baker died suddenly about fifteen years ago but he wrote alot about working-class poverty in Peoria under the sinsister shade of Reganomics and corportate America.
His work isn't as venerated as it should be. I feel like I have a bond with him, growing up piss-poor and then, shit-mama, it's raining words all of a sudden and I'm trying to catch 'em under my blogger-umbrella.
There's three seperate "journal articles" that's been transitioned into a St. Cecelia's Playground. All three illustrate the lives of actual old-time Peorians. One is about a Vietnam Vet who takes a gradeschool hostage. Another is about a former middleweight boxing champ who commits suicide by lying down in front of the railroad tracks. Another one is about "Baby Doll" a 74 year old prostitute....
Peoria used to be the "prostitution" capital of the midwest. Hence the terms "Plays in Peoria"...Comedian Richard Pryor hails from P-Town and his mother was a Madame. Ironically, Pryor credits his start in stand-up to his sixth grade teacher who would "allow me to stand up and tell jokes for the last fifteen minutes of class" if he arrived to school on time.
Not surprisngly, that teacher's name was Juliet. As far as I know, she's the first African American Baha'i in Peoria and she's now and artist cloaked in Autumnal years.
That's just how it works, sisters...
Gotta go. Thank god for detahcment. No long hair. No long book. Just a future fraught with words and images and the opportunity to lick at my dreams everyday for the rest of my life.
Oh, and a lotta love along the way.
Monday, September 13, 2004
At least we now know where all the Cinderella's are hibernating. So much for trying to crazy glue the glass shards of the slipper back together.
Sunday, September 12, 2004
YUCK!!!! Here's a picture of my Mara (if you can stomach it)...when I'm not a full-time librarian or when I'm not off scribbling away my dreams with creative writing crayons I write very ARID, TURGID, ICKY academic papers....not becasue I want to (I Just want to WRITE!!!!) but because I am a student majoring in English and the longer you live under the financial shadows of the academia, the more they expect your prose (and your life) to become completly tasteless.
Well screw 'em. My life's not tasteless and neither is yours, even though I just monopolized the entire day hammering out the mechanics of this one paper. It was a response to Italo Calvino's bitching-cool postmodern-just-like-life read titled If on a winter's night, a traveler.
Ironically (TC quit-making-so-many-correlations-all the @#$%^ time) this novel was written in the second person like my "Heading Avenue cyclical symphony" so I guess I'm just not as original as I thought I was.....but maybe that's what Mara shows you. Whatever you wanna do, whatever you want to accompolish with your shot at life has probably already been done before by somebody with bona fide skills, which, in my books, leaves you with two options. a.) You can
say screw it with your dreams and live a very comfortable life like most opulent North Americans who have a mortgage in their bank accounts and sex-help manuals benath their mattresses or you can b.) just follow your dreams anyway and see what happens. When you do this you either succeed or you fail. but I guarante that you'll have one hell of an extraordinary ride. When I castrated my future four years ago and decided, whatever, I was just going to write everyday, the only person I could think about was Eddie Vedder. When Vedder was twenty-five (25!) He was, in his gruff-verbatim, "The happiest mother-f''''ing gas-station attendant on the face of the planet." He would tell people that he was going to make it or either die trying.
(I used to look kinda like eddie with long hair so that's why I idolized him)
Three years later Eddie spontaneously met rockers who lived ten hours north and the next thing...BAM...Pearl Jam.
My gist is that, even when your all alone and MARA forces you to momentarily succumb to something like pumping gas (or writing arid term papers) don't loose your inital vision of what you are and who you can become!
So anyway, here's my Mara up close and naked. Here's her centerfold. If you squint cloesly enough you may be able to make out the staple in her glossed navel.
You are about to compose a critical response paper to Italo Calvino’s If on a winter’s night, a traveler. You have begun your composition several times already but at the moment of absolute clarity, you find your thesis blurred; your ideas clipped. You think about the novel’s second person protagonist and about how he tries so hard to maintain a solid connection within the scattered boundaries of the text itself. While you observe the Reader’s antics, your own persistent quest for textual identity was also challenged through skewed storylines and truncated plots. As malleable Lotaria posits, “What is the reading of a text…except the recording of certain thematic recurrences, certain insistences of forms and meanings” (186).
After reading the first three chapters of Calvino’s novel, You note that the text mirrors the reflective ambiguity and emotional melee of contemporary life by eschewing traditional linear conventions for textual disparity. Instead of smoothly transitioning from point A to point B, the text itself contorts into the narrative equivalent of a mathematical fractal. The context surrounding each of Calvino’s disparate multi-authored stories at first seem to spontaneously split into a random narrative void granting credence to Porphyrich’s late assertion that, “The world exists only as artifice, pretense, misunderstanding, falsehood” (239).
However, the text exists independently of itself, even when the context is (in some cases literally) effaced. Though seemingly thwarted, the narrative context of the text becomes a fractal. Rather than simply capitulating to the vicissitudes of the traditional novel where the linear conventions of narrative and plot cultivate and inevitably punctuate in the familiarized concept of a traditional ending, Calvino’s postmodern approach allows the narrative of the text to exist ad infinitum long after the book is closed.
This is how You, the writer of Calvino’s response paper and “You” the protagonist of novel form an integral allegiance to Calvino’s textual aesthetic. It seems like the book that all readers truly yearn for is one that validly depicts the anarchy and confusion of life, not by, “following an exact taut trajectory” in our various intellectual and romantic discourses but by, “seeking a pattern, a route that must surely be there…and you don’t know which direction it will carry you” ( 27).
Saturday, September 11, 2004
"It's eleven-eleven, make a wish." She'd order, her eyes clasped as if she were about to blow out waxed candels atop childhood frosting.
Eleven-Eleven.The double blurred rendering of the singular first whole numerical measurement. Eleven, towered black stalks swiftly wounded, crumpling as if on invisible stilts, into the folded white oblivion of the page.
I remember (like most people) that I was both extremely anxious yet calm and extremely shocked and felt extremely helpless. I've heard that the body releases some sort of chemical toxin into the blood stream in moments of spontaneous terror that soothes the bristling, panicking nerves. A year before I was invovled in an horrific car wreck right after I broke up with my girlfriend Vanessa. I was heartbroken and every organ inside my flesh already felt limp and abandoned inside. It was a bad accident. I could have easily "sloughed the physical garment" so to speak. At the exact moment when the cement truck slammed into the drivers side of my Buick, an inexplicable collective 'calmness' saddled my entire nervous system. I can't explain it, but I remember surrendering to the vicissitudes of gravitity and physics. I had no control of my fate, no harness over my movements. My battered vehicle ploughed into the opposite lane oscillating out of control, like a demon possesed oujii board. The windshield disintegrated into thousands of glass molecules and I heard the voice of calmness (which wasn't the voice of God--I wish--but it was a lulling feint octave of my own voice) saying:
"This had to happen, David. All the craziness over the past three years. This just had to happen. There was no other way. Your are just arriving at the next port with an incendiary bang."
I body surfed my way across the confetti shards of dashboard shrapnel and found myself looking up into the furrowed brows of paremedics flanked by stuttering lights; the sounds of sirens painfully shrilling in my dented ear lobes.
When my father would pick me up from the hospital later that evening, Main street was closed and we took a detour home. Ironically the histroical ornate street we drove down was called High Street (even though it was a low day). It would be the same street where I would live and write in less than a year. We even passed a house where someone who I will one day call "Uncle Mike" was currently residing.
Of course we all remember where we were, what we were doing. It's like each of our lives were waiting for this detailed event to transpire so that in the future we could all somehow have at least one "connection"--one culturally spooled thread of universal commonality tautly connecting the kite strings of our collective pysches into one mystical bow.
A few years ago, a friend of mine was going through a sloppy divorce. Everytime after she and her soon to be ex-husband would painfully make love they would hold each other afterwards and play a game called "Where you were."
"Where were you when...." He would always say.
"We talked about where we were on certain momentous events in our life." She once told me. "We talked about what college class we were attending when Challenger exploded. What job we had when the Berlin wall came down. Even where we were when Cobain shot himself. Stuff like that," She said.
"It was almost as if the summation of our marriage had become nothing more or less than the history channel." My friend told me. "But what was weird was that, we actually felt closer to each other when we were talking about where we were during certain histroical events that often entailed extreme loss and pain then we did when we were actually making-love."
Same with this day three years ago. Everyone rememberes where they were: The televised-hearth never once marketed a commercialized blink, promulgating the now familiarized armageddon avalanche over and over again. Tom Brokaw stated from the outset that "A declaration of War" had been made. The day before, the media seemed obssesed to the point frivolity over close-ups of Chandra Levvy's bad perm. Now there was national penetration; there was domestic welts and interior bleeding. There was global insecurity and political ambiguity. There was a feeling of isolation. There were feelings of hatred.
I was teaching english at an alternative school. A student from Palestine named "Awad" was in my class and I remember hating him when he mockingly told the class that 'He' was behind the attacks. I wanted to choke him, to asphixiate his sockets in his skull.
---TC Irony....just now reflecting over my expired feeling of abhorrance for Awad, my Iranian (dissident) journalist friend Mohammed just walked up to me and offered me a cigarette. Ah...smoking, that's one way to proseltyze World Peace. Just ask my dear friend....... ---
Here's me favorite prayers for the victims of that moment...
" O my God! O Thou forgiver of sins, bestower of gifts, dispeller of afflictions!
Verily, I beseech thee to forgive the sins of such as have abandoned the physical garment and have ascended to the spiritual world.
O my Lord! Purify them from trespasses, dispel their sorrows, and change their darkness into light. Cause them to enter the garden of happiness, cleanse them with the most pure water, and grant them to behold Thy splendors on the loftiest mount."
Last wed on Navy Pier my spiritual sister split open the palms of my hands like a phone book and told me not to move.
"You have to sit real still and try not to flinch." She said, somewhat excitedly. " I've been reading palms for a long time."
Arya scrutinized the calloused topography of my hands like she was intently focusing on a road atlas. I made lame jokes. She told me to shut up and to be still. She kept intently staring into the inside of my hands as if seeking for something lost. As if the plates on my palms were magnifying glasses and she was trying to see a date on an old stamp or antique coin. She kept squinting and bowing her chin. It felt like she was looking 'through' my fingers. Through my flesh. My hands began to feel seperate from my entire body. Crazy "Captian Universe" who flaps his fingers daily trying to sculpt sentences was now detached at the wrists. His hands, open and smooth and calloused, belonged to somebody else. They were stationed in front of her like an open hymnal.
My hands no longer belonged to me. My two opposite fingered tablets now belonged to someone who knew how to read and intuit the mystical alphabet scrolled within the lining of his own skin.
"Okay I can't see anything in this one." Arya said averting all her attention from my right opened palm to my left. "You're only the third person who's palm I have a hard time reading."
Arya gazed at my left palm. She squinted. "Four times." She said.
"You've had your heart broken four times."
Four times. Well, so far I can only think of two, two times when I've felt that I've really lost everything in my heart. Two times (Vanessa and Megan-the yin/yang of my tortuous heart) have I experienced the arteries and vectors of my heart gradually freeze up into stainglass before shattering, scraping the inside of my chest with pierced glass residue.
On this day three years ago I ran home from work, to my apartment, to a payphone where prostitutes would solicit clients. There was a gas station fraught with lined cars waiting to fill-up before the price of gas purportedly surged.
I saw her face in the numbers as I called long-distance, to her apartment. Her husband who didn't like me was in the same room.
I called Megan up and told her that, even though it was three years since the last time we saw each other and kissed, I called her up and told her that I loved her. Told her that I was sorry how I treated her--I asked for forgiveness and then I told her that I loved her again.
I'm so thankful at that moment that she was there, even if all I had was just her voice to hold me.
The most stirring, riveting image from that day was of a couple who held hands as they leapt from the side of their sabotaged hell. I wondered if, like arya, they looked deeply into the other's palms before they kicked off the ledge and dipped into the painful dregs of this world. I wonder what they saw when they looked into the fleshy latitudinal lines of each others hands. I wonder if they saw something other than death. If they saw an atlas--saw a place where they were going.
As I told Megan that I loved her again, told her simply not to talk, I thought, that, if I was in that office building coerced to leap, how much of a blessing it would be that I could have a palm, a perfect smooth palm to hold, to hold me as I fell. At that succinct moment, I was so thankful it was her hand that kept me afloat while the entire world suddenly all at once began to fall.
Friday, September 10, 2004
Ahh life is good...
Reverberations of friends sift heavily inside my chest. A new friend, a mystical talisman, is permanently stowed in my right pocket, keeping my keys and loose change company. I clutch the granite orb and say the greatest name on my way to work. I think about friends. I smile.
I feel young. I feel like I am twelve. The same morning I arrive back to Peoria I walk into a bookstore and am yelled at by the manager. She's an old friend of my grandmothers and she read a short story of mine that was published. She told me that she was dissapointed in my writing style. Told me that she didn't like how vulgar it was. Told me that she even thought my late father would be embarrased if he would read it.
"Thanks for reading," I say. Smiling to myself. This is not your Mother's Mara...
But, concerning that same story, a lady who was raped once at gunpoint read it and told me she cried. Told me that she connected with it. She thanked me for writing that story. Said that it meant something to her. I smile. I embrace her. I tell her that this is what life feels like--this constant flux; this constant movement, this constant love of all things that are bleating out epiphanic hymns along your rib cage.
I had a golden timeless afternoon with Arya. It was one of the best times I've ever had in Chicago. The past summer we kept hanging mirrors of our lives on the internet. Detailed frames depicting our dreams and visions. Arya blogged about mysticim and Mexico; about the Pro-fessor (favorite protagonist of the summer!) and about her biography. Daniela blogged about her passions of art and music while floating through the wilderness of California. I blogged a crooked mirror about what it feels like to feel like you are always ensconced in the moment; that wonderful swift cycle of reality, gyrating, incessantly spining in an atmospherical cage. I blogged about trying to feel bliss even when everything around you is blurred.
On Navy pier Sister A and myself stepped up in front of cicus mirrors and began to gaze at contorted refletcions of ourselves.
"No honey your not pregnant, your just fat." I say, trying to be funny as we gawk at extremely inflated reflections of our bodies, reflected to us across a coiled sheet of glass. Arya hits me and smiles. Along with Daniela, we've been looking at each other through a glass sqaure all summer. Commenting on each other's worlds. Now, both Sister A and myself were next to each other, already knowing what was inside and we still looked at our reflections in the carnival mirrors, seeing what spontaneous twist this vessel of life would paint next.
Ambling down Navy Pier, our shadows sagged in front of us migrating dual-towered silhouttes of our bodies across the sidewalk over which we stepped. The sky was a pool of deep blue overhead. The thick wind racked against our shoulders as we watched the blue shoreline lip of Lake Michigan spittle into foam as it touched shore with sand.
She kept on trying so hard to connect. Arya was trying so hard to get a hold of someone she had an appointment with and she couldn't. She tried the payphone in her mother's office building on Michiagan Avenue. She tried the payphone inside a bar we snuck into. Her thick-plastic heels clattered into the convient store in search of a payphone. Into the McDonoalds where no one spoke english. Into the Starbucks, in idle search of a payphone. Whenver Arya located a phone, she would tightly grope the plastic spine of the payphone handle with her itching grasp, punching in digits with her free hand. She would get excited. She would say that she was sure she had remembered the number. She would pause. The rushed merlot-hue of elation that filled her cheeks would empty. She would then hang up, close her eyes, rush out a numerical mantra and then try again.
She kept trying to connect. She said she was sure she remembered the number. Her fingers smashing the square digits, her body stationed in front of the payphone as if she were positioned in front of a slot machine and it was always one cherry short.
I felt so sorry for her then. I made a joke about messing with the switchboard before I arrived, but the truth was, I wanted so direly to help her connect. I wanted to fasten that truncated bridge and allow her voice to be heard. I wanted so badly to help her to hear the voice of the person she needed to hear. I wanted to tell her (only I didn't) that life seems to be like this. That my life is like this. That I keep pushing the little square buttons as fast I can. That I keep trying so hard to hear the voice. To hear the voice of my mother whistling in encouragement, to hear the voice of God, to hear the voice hibernating inside my chest, burrowed inches below my heart.
That so much of life is trying to conncect; so much of life is trying to feel that you're a part of something. A part of something greater than yourself.
As we did last summer via blogger. The three of us connected. The three of us, our cyber trinity of arya, daniela and david somehow found ourselves, found our seperate crazy worlds suddenly forged into one linguistic stream; our discrete, seperate lives somehow flowed into one linear tributary, emptying out into the ocean of each other's soul.
What a blessing last week was. Here's part of the prayer I paryed with Arya in front of the Art Institute last wed. It's one of my favorite prayers b/c it reminds me of my bloggin-buds...
"O Thou the Compassionate God. Bestow upon me a heart which, like unto a glass, may be illumined with the light of Thy love, and confer upon me thoughts which may change this world into a rose garden through the outpourings of heavenly grace. "
Thursday, September 09, 2004
How blessed am I. To have both my entire audience (two angels) wreathed in my arms at the same time....
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
The flock of family flew into town which made me happy. We're an ornery bunch, us Von Behren kin, and it's always nice when our path's coalesce and we get to spend time together, which usually entails copious amounts of laughter, classical music, sibling gossip, libations and dance.
It's customary that cousin Matthew (i.e. "MattMan") and I always wrestle (even though he ways about 100 pounds more than I do and always pins me in the first three minutes if we don't break anything first)...Matthew and I slapboxed before pictures in the church and tried to get one of the fellow grommsmen to officiate our 'one final bachelorhood blow' in front of God, only the priest broke us up after we inadvertantly backed into the baptismal fount. OOOPs. Tim, the best man, was supposed to referee, but he was out back, trying to lure a wayward goat into the bridal getaway convertible for a gag, to no avail.
My cool cousin Shawna who works for Yamaha in California flew in, sporting a chic black gown. Her sister, Brianna, the other 'insurgent' cousin drove fifteen hours straight from her Marine barrack in North Carolina. She had four recent tatoo's and a new pair of cowboy boots, skinned, she said, from a the hide of a terrorist she recently dispatched of.
After conducting surgery for fifteen hours my cool Kennedy-panache brother-in-law Dan made it down from Rockford just in time to stand up next to me in the mugshot line of fellow groomsmen. His wife, my sister Beth, former Miss Chicago to her brother's entropic blogging Universe, played a beautiful Bach cello sonato for a prelude and wore a classy gown that reminded me of Scarlet O'hara.
"Frankly My dear I don't give a damn," I jested during photographs before the wedding. "Wait, I'm sorry Father (cold feet) I mean, 'I do'. That's my line."
Beth's in her last year studying law at KENT and she has the whole Jessica Simpson blonde highlights, cinnamon toast-tan thing going on.
Since the groom is working on his PhD in classical music conducting in California, the majority of fellow Groomsmen were a picaresque bouquet of seleceted band geeks who graduated two years behind me in high school and who are now working on orchestral degrees in all things tonal and treble cleffed. Tim, the best man, looked like a lanky magician in his tuxedo garb. Andrew, another groomsmen, chatted inceassantly about his pending marriage and about his own dreams of orchestral greatness. It felt like I was being flanked by future Peter Schickele's and poor-man's Pavarati's. Although I have a profound appreciation for "the finer in things in life" and was a hardcore opera buff in high school (Hello Gorgeous cecelia Bartoli! NO wonder all the cheerleaders thought I was gay!) the best I can do when it comes to music is to bat out a jazzed up rendition of heart and soul followed by killer Chopsticks revival.
I kept making lame jokes in the back of the room prior to the wedding. Told the priest that at my own marriage I'd be married by Elvis and that if he wanted to he could play slot machines in the background.
"Do you David, take her to Hunka-hunka have and to Hunka-hunka hold as long as you both shall live?"
I accompanied a beautiful voice major named Michelle down the burgundy carpet center of the church. The hard-edged avenue of my elbow luring her wry lips in front of a full church and a pastel statue of Christ.
This was the first time I've ever been elected to quote "stand" up in front of the congregation. Robin, the bride, was rapturous as she flaoted down the aisle, her father's left arm attached to his daughter like a wounded wing. Robin sings opera and is bulit like a messo-soporano; saltine white skin; rotund torso, ample bossom, blithe countenance.
With the arrival of the bride my body shifted like a rudder into the direction of the altar, where the priest officated the service. Both Matthew and Robin employed their old professors from Wesylan to orchestrate the music. The first hymn bleated out of the aluminum veins of the organ pipes in a swift exhalence burst of joyful resonance. It was the old Lutheran hymn I grew up singing at Wedding's "Lord, When You came as Welcome Guest". It's lyrics are worth repeating here:
Lord, when you came as welcome guest
To Cana's wedding feast,
The bridal pair, divinely blest
Found all their joy increased.
Now give your presence from above
That these, by vowing true,
May show their pledge is like the love
Between the Chruch and You.
Preserve the vow these two shall make,
Tis circle round tehir life,
This golden ring that none may break
Which makes them man and wife.
Your daily mercies let them share,
All threats of harm destroy;
By this thier vow divide their care
And double all their joy.
On all who thus before you kneel
You joyous Spirit pour
That each may wake the other's zeal
To love you more and more.
Oh grant them here in peace to live,
In purity and love,
And after this life to receive
The crown of life above.
The pleasure of being so close to a "spiritual union" (or at least a ritual whose rudiments were rooted in a mytsic union) was all mine. Periodically I would avert my attention into the audience and gaze at the look of stuttered pride flanked across my Uncle's face like a state flag. Shannon Moore, frequent blogger and "Clit-Lit" cordinator, held out a digital camera in front of her face and snapped flashless vignettes as the couple verbally consumated their love through the curved hushes language.
A year earlier I was only a freaking usher at my sisters wedding. It was a weird time in my life. I had just moved in with Uncle Mike and I couldn't be around my mother without being completely shitfaced all the time. I was gregariously imbibed the day of the wedding when I continuosly querried "Bride or Groom," to second and third cousins whose name usually only appears once a year in the mailbox around Christmas.
I was sad. I was pulling 80 hour weeks and still couldn't get anywhere with my life. I tried not to look in the center of the Chruch as my sister Beth, simply immaculate, was escourted down the aisle by the hard acute-angles of Uncle Larry's elbow. I was pissed off at God that my father, my non-drinking, non-smoking, non-sinning modest father, wasn't even allowed to accompany his eldest daughter down the center of the church on the day of her wedding.
Attired in the stiff tuxedo, seated next to my best friend David Hale, I cried. I live with a mystic-prophet-medium (?) weirdo who's communicated with soul's who've passed only as he says, it's only a reflection, a shell of their spirit.
"If they come to you they ask for help. Say the prayer for the departed for them as you will help them." Uncle Mike told me once, his forehead smiling like sheen brass.
And during my sister's wedding, I swear (although I've never told anyone) I saw my father. He was seated by himself, in the far end of the church. The afternoon light streamed through the stainglass window so that he looked blue and perfect, almost like I was seeing his reflection in a windshield. That day, I swear, even though I was shitfaced and always dubious and practical when it comes to eerie supernatural concerns, I swear, I say him, standing there, the look of proud and modesty sewed onto his lips, adjusting his spectacles every now and then.
Congrats Matt and Robin!!!!!!