A Sketch

If you could take the day by the hand

even now and say Come Father

calling it by your own name

it might rise in its blindness with all

its knuckles and curtains

and open the eyes it was born with

                                 -W.S. Merwin, “The Day”

 

 

I am fifteen years old and might as well be five. The most difficult thing I have ever done is read the part from Anne Frank’s diary where she’s talking about puberty out loud in front of my eighth-grade English class without laughing. I am wearing a t-shirt from The GAP and orange khaki pants that have a zipper at the knees that if I unzip turns them (the pants) into orange khaki shorts. I am fifteen and taller than all of my teachers and goofy with one droopy eyelid and conspicuously, grotesquely, virginal.

I am bored. I have been bored since second grade when they started putting me in the third grade math class in Another Room with Third Graders I corrected Mr. M’s error on the chalkboard. I am fifteen and bored sitting at a comically small desk thinking about second grade and was I born in the wrong city to the wrong family in the wrong era of history?

I am fifteen and bored, with a slight boner, thinking about the girl across the room and imagining her body naked. I have been watching pornography regularly ravenously on the computer ever since sixth grade when a friend said something about 69 at the lunch table and I didn’t know what it was so when I got home from school I googled it, and so I know what a real naked girl might look like, I think.

I am fifteen and bored and my package has just arrived. I have very little idea what William Burroughs is about but I had my mom buy me The Yage Letters on Amazon. It’s finally here. I am fifteen and what is Moloch! Moloch! or capitalism? but I’ve been on the Wikipedia page for DMT and ayahuasca and marijuana and I like Ginsberg and so mom bought me The Yage Letters. Mom has no idea what DMT or ayahuasca are. She may or may not know about Wikipedia. We both have no idea how marijuana smells.

 

I am seventeen years old–not five–with a droopy eye and somehow still getting taller, still getting taller wow, the doctor says, you must really be pretty good at swimming.

I am not really pretty good at swimming, but thanks but I think I have ADD or something. I’m not sure. I’m always bored and restless and can’t pay attention to the chalkboard and the teachers are dumb and I keep getting up out of my comically small desk or staring out the window.

Secretly I’ve known that I have attention deficit disorder ever since last spring when I scooped some Adderall XR for the SAT. After I took that pill I just knew. Talking to the doctor, though, I omit the part about my clandestine SAT doping; telling her would just complicate things.

I am seventeen with a slight boner at a comically small desk sneakreading Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason while my civics teacher teaches. It is much more difficult than Plato’s Republic. One reason I like the ADD medicine is it makes my eyelid feel less droopy. It doesn’t actually make the eyelid less droopy, but it makes it feel that way. In four years, I will come to have a visceral, phenomenological understanding of the word ‘delusion.’

And I am seventeen on a drug I conned the doctor for sitting at a comically small desk, desperate for ayahausca and Truth and, most of all, sex.

Outside, the sky is a dark grey. Anyone who is paying attention can tell it’s going to storm soon.

ass still to air

He drags himself across the intersection shirtless, ass-exposed.

By the looks of things, he’s either 30 or 80 years old. All you can say for sure is it’s hard to say for sure. One reason for this is that hair protrudes from and grows with the skin on his skull like untended shrubs outside an abandoned house, obscuring any good look at his face. And the hair from the top of the skin of his skull, once dreadlocked but now unshackled and wild with dirt, grows over and with his shrubs of beard to form a single menacing haircowl. There is more hair than face on his face.

His legs, too, are hairy, and loosely covered in what look like they might’ve been black cargo pants a very, very long time ago. They girdle his waist like normal pants, his pants, but then on the backside drape into a thong from which scraps of pant hang and expose his hirsute skin. The fact that the dangling thong of pant is not stitched to its kin on the frontside by way of some tween-leg-gooch connection is uncomfortably obvious. Oblong ovoid shapes have been torn, or somehow otherwise been removed, from the back of each leg. A man before you with a thong of pant between cheeks and no shirt and it’s what, 8:30?

You think to yourself it’s almost like his pants and normal pants differ in teleologies.

His back is at a 40-degree angle relative to the street; he looks more like a four-legged creature trying to walk on two legs than a two-legged creature trying to walk on four. A black hefty Hefty trash bag filled with godknowswhat is slung over his shoulder as if it were a bindle. He might wish he had a bindle except for the fact that it’s been a long time since he wished anything. The bag rests behind his unlocked locks on his barren back and hangs just above his waist so as to not obstruct your view of the cheeks.

Things are tense now. Although your first thought is something like where did he come from this man just came out of nowhere, eventually you reason he must’ve been coming south on Brazos from up where the shelter is. He had to come from somewhere, right? Unless he actually did come out of nowhere, that is, get dropped here through some black hole worm hole time manipulation 5th-dimension shit. The idea is worth taking seriously given the fact that this man does not belong here in front of you at this moment. But here he is.

Because the thing is it’s clear this is not just another panhandler or bum–he’s not like the rest of them that sometimes you see on the streets looking dejected and resigned and pathetic. He is not asking anything from anyone and he is not pathetic. He is ravenous and horrible and wild and kinetic and naked, mostly naked, with anger so palpable it radiates from him like light from lightning. His gravity does not feel good. He drags himself across the crosswalk and, looking at him, you quiver.

And you didn’t notice it before but now, scanning his body again, you realize it’s not just his hair that’s dirty but every square inch of skin and clothes. Dirt so enmeshed in his skin that dirt has become skin; so much dirt that you can’t distinguish between what is dirt and what is hair and what is skin and what is he doing here this creature what is his story and what is happening? What has happened?

His ass and its cheeks are especially dirty.

And so but here he is, a human male covered in crud and not-so-covered in scraps of black pants and holding a trash bag close to his body, who has now made it across the street and who, strangely, is now standing still with his eyes closed, like a monastic about to light himself on fire, outside of some of the most expensive condominium apartments in the entire state.

The vectors of venture capitalists and project managers and techies walking to work turn parabolic in the early morning air. These people cannot get farther away. The lengths at which they go out of their way to avoid the creature are almost comical, and you might even laugh if before you weren’t this hyena prowling mostly naked in the cool sunrise air of central texas downtown texas austin texas the liberal oasis of all of texas and a paragon of progress for all the world to see.

No one says anything.

And suddenly without opening his eyes he drops the Hefty and puts his face way down close to the ground. The thong of black pant rises on his back as he bends over and you think Jesus Christ as if this could’ve gotten more indecent. But you keep staring anyway. And once he feels sufficiently close to the ground, once his face is like violently near the sidewalk, he forms two sickles with his two middle fingers and puts them right down on the ground right next to his disheveled skull and he cries out like some ungodly apparition, loud enough for the entire continent to hear, “FUUUUUUUCK YOUUUUUUUUU.”

And then he picks up his sickles and his trash bag and turns the corner of Brazos and 2nd, ass still to air, and goes out of sight. And a couple seconds later you put one foot on a pedal and kickstart off the ground with the other and ride out on 3rd to work and all you can think is this man will probably in all honesty be dead by this time next week and no one will ever see him again and he will never scream fuck you again at the sidewalk on 3rd and it will probably not be a graceful death

and all I really want to do is give you a hug and a bath and tell you I am so, so, so sorry.

8 May

I might be misremembering things. But rightly (writely?) or not I recall in On Writing this great metaphor Stephen King gives which equates writing to archaeology. Writer-as-archaeologist, is the point. You don’t create the story, you uncover it. Like the story is already there and you don’t have to fuck with it too much–in fact if you do fuck with it too much, it’s ruined–but you do have to uncover it. Remove the surrounding dirt. Dig. You really gotta dig. But the point is you don’t create it, you find it, you excavate, and you uncover.

I like King’s metaphor because I’m fond of the notion that the story already exists. One could say it jives with my platonic (neoplatonic?) ontology or at my sympathies for such an ontology (always been a sucker for plato’s metaphysics and also right now if you’re thinking to yourself Christ, listen to yourself kirk, you sound like a complete twat: yes, I know, and also, suck my balls and hail Satan). But no–the Form of Story, the Form of This-Particular-Story, out there somewhere not necessarily in spacetime but out there, somehow supraspacetime, out there nonetheless–how majestic. How mesmerizing.

It turns the act of writing on its head, the metaphor. A change in ontology necessitates a change in perspective of that ontology. I am no longer the creator. The story was created before I arrived and it will be here long after I am gone. It is eternal (or in the archaeology metaphor, just very slowly decaying). So it’s like, humbling, or something. To view things this way. To adopt the ontology implicit in King’s metaphor. I should be so honored to have the opportunity to uncover the story.

This is all to say that for the past couple days I’ve been feeling the call of the story, its gravity and its pull. A feeling like I was walking along and came across a fossil protruding from the ground and now the image keeps coming back. I didn’t explore and I could’ve. The feeling that there might be something more there. A fantastic discovery for the world to see. I need to go back. I’m writing this so I remember to try to write that. You don’t have to understand.

Of course, I might be misremembering things.

you are good

what does it mean to why do i keep what the fuck. chill. chill man can’t you be chill. like them. nothing. remember that time. dude that is so stupid. haha. her face. what. worried you smoke too many cigarettes. jesus why do these people listen to such bad music. where is he I need a cigarette fuck. why is she. you still got it champ. beer bongs are great. something to smoke. remember that time. i am hunter s. kerouac. this is it. fuck that. i want sex her. where is weed. hahahahaha. have to piss. you are grotesque fuck mirrors. vonnegut soul. is he coughing now on a bathroom floor. bob is crazy. this shit is crazy man. where is carl. where is she. can’t believe we’re here. fuck belief. another cigarette. outside is better. kerouac died from liver cancer. this shit is awful. stop being lame. you are good. what does it mean to why do i keep what the fuck. these people are so god damn boring. nothing. weed for everyone here. good shit man. remember that time. twenty one years old wow. how did you get here. you still haven’t started that thing. what will you do tomorrow. nothing. shit is getting out of control. no taste beer. stop staring. go talk. or was it cirrhosis. who wants a cigarette. colorless piss small dick in the cold. better cirrhosis than a shotgun to the dome. maybe not. chill. why is she and what does it mean to why do i keep. this shit is crazy. fucking this music and everyone. you’re stilling stare. is kicked that. remember time that and yes so why doesn’t this feel like it used to and why doesn’t this feel like it used to and why doesn’t this feel like it used to and why don’t you feel like you used to and why don’t you feel like you used to and why don’t you feel like you used to and why aren’t you what you used to be?

11 April

Fuck.

Had an interview for a Peace Corps Volunteer position earlier this morning. If I get the job, I’ll be in Jamaica from March 12, 2018-May 2020 as a Primary Literacy Adviser. Like most sesquipedalian job titles, this could mean a lot of things and thus is largely meaningless. Shouts out to Wittgenstein or Russell or the bald king of France that doesn’t exist, or something.

What I know is that if I’m chosen, I’ll be working under the direction of a school’s principal to help inspire a love of reading in tots. This could mean helping the teachers teach the tots in the classroom during the schoolday. Or it could mean maintaining a reading group and tutoring tots after school. Or it could mean working with parents of tots to promote literacy education. Or it could mean all of these or none.

If I’m chosen.

The Peace Corps is moderately selective: 25,000 applicants/year competing for 4,000 spots. Rough math that’s what, 4 over 25 times 4 carry the one beep boop boop 16 percent. So but that brings me to the point of this post: the interview did not go well.

I mean look. I don’t think I’m the most charming person in the state of Texas. I definitely don’t do well in large groups of people. I shit my pants before, in the middle of, and after giving presentations. But in a one-on-one situation, when all I have to do is talk about myself (shouts out to Narcissus), I tend to do okay. Hell, I’ll go so far as to say that I think I interview well. I mean generally. I like to think I’m affable. Perceptive. Well-spoken and sincere.

This is what I like to think.

But man, this guy was colder than the coldest of witches’ tits. Whatever I was selling, he wasn’t buying. And I came prepared. Studied common questions, physically with ink pen and paper paper wrote down my answers and, extra credit: spawned a list of potential questions to ask. What I’m saying is the product was good, is what I’m saying. Maybe the shit wasn’t pearl but it wasn’t cut with nothing, neither, is what I’m saying. (Yes, I did just finish the first season of The Wire yesterday. Letcha boy live.)

It’s not like he was actively hostile, the interviewer. He was fine. It’s just the whole thing was so…scripted. He asked only questions that were on his prompt that was on his second monitor that he rarely (read: never) looked up at my red and mottled face from. I’m talking zero good old-fashioned televisual eye contact. Zero, homie.

So I had nothing to work with, nothing to go off of. It was obvious that he didn’t particularly care about me, which was fine, but the dude didn’t even pretend to. That’s what gives me a huge case of the screaming meemies about the whole thing. No pretense, no social bullshit. No feigned humanity. Nothing but the script.

I guess it comes with the job. Re: # of applicants. Dude’s probably conducting another dozen and a half interviews this week alone. Who in that situation could maintain an air of caring? Who  could remain impervious to desensitization? Who would want to?

At least this is what I’m telling myself to try to make myself feel better about myself. Shouts out to the self.

I don’t expect to get the invitation, folks. Objectively speaking, odds are that the application process ends here.

But I want it. I want it more than anything. And I think I’d be really good at doing whatever vague shit a Primary Literacy Advisor does. And I told whatshisface this, albeit w/ a slightly different phraseology. Whatever–I can always reapply.

Also, tots is a great word.

Emotivism for a Fledgling Buddhist

Missiles. Missiles. The launch of missiles.

United States missiles. Missiles. Sixty missiles in sixty seconds missiles. Missiles. Yay missiles boo missiles—missiles. Missiles trump missiles. Missiles. Syria struck missiles Assad missiles, can you believe it US of A missiles.

Missiles. Democratic missiles. Imperial missiles. Missiles for Christ’s sake god damn it missiles.

This is the day that no lord has made.

Ah, but have you forgotten?  Life contains itself in you. And fleshbag that you are, insignificant and full of shit, you are the maker.  You are the lord and this is your day. So from the ribs of your own body, what will you breathe into life? In the face of chaos, what will you make?

Smile at the grocery attendant and ask the UPS deliverer how is your day going, sir? There are enough missiles. You needn’t be another.