Tuesday, February 16, 2010

rotting brain

the streets are covered in the cold white of fallen sky. of the frozen ocean come back to blanket us. it is in this weather that we find comfort in solitude. wrapping ourselves in thick cotton and wool. heavy socks and oversized sweaters. small comforters and long underpants. building around us a soft warm womb from which to hide from the world.

it is in this weather that i try to find focus. without the distractions of life to bother me, i gather my thoughts and attempt to drive them forward. there are responsibilities i need to tend to, duties that must be done. i have work from school, i have work outside of school, i have work that is personal, work on myself.

but im having trouble finding the rhythm. my thoughts are scattered all about. i am a mess of emotions, a confusion of ideas. even typing these sentences is a trying task.

lately ive been trying to watch movies, but i cant seem to finish them. some of them i cant even start. this is a frustrating development, because not only do i love watching movies, but i like to pride myself with having the patience to sit through a good, thought provoking feature when its presented to me.

but i cant even sit through a normal 90 minute spectacle these days, let alone a slow moving, dialog driven piece that leaves the viewer with something to chew on. i would think that a movie which is meant solely to be a visual experience, a flick that is designed to entertain the eyes and less the mind, would be an easy thing to take in. i mean, such movies dont ask for your undivided attention, youre hardly even required to follow the plot. yet, i get two thirds through them and somehow lose concentration, or maybe it is interest i lose; but by the time the credits are rolling my mind is somewhere else. ive missed the end and i hardly care.

what does this mean, i ask myself. is there too much in my head i am trying to ignore, and to sit and attempt to focus on something longer than an hour become too much to bear? are their situations swirling inside that ive chosen to evade? are my classic attempts to escape no longer effective?

on this day, as the city is suffocated in cold, i once again attempt to find focus. i eschew the quick cuts of modern living. i dismiss the insignificant flashes that infest our attention. i plan to get things done. i plan to surrender to my womb. i am dressed for it. my intent is in the right place. i am moving forward today. i am moving forward.

Friday, February 12, 2010

forced entry #370 - dull morning

i only have 20 minutes to write and usually twenty minutes isnt enough time to write anything of note but fortunately i have nothing to say so i guess ill just meander along and impart nothing.

on thursday night i work until late. i get home at about 3am. it takes me about three hours to unwind and finally close my eyes, so usually by the time i get to sleep the sun is rising and the day has begin for most. this wouldnt be any such burden if i didnt have to be back to work at 3pm the following day. which means by the time i wake up i have to start getting ready to leave again.

it is friday.

last night was a typical evening. i got home at my usual time and had a beer and ate a bit , then laid on the couch and let the drone of sitcoms lull me to sleep. i woke up in the same position and moved to the bed and by then the sky was beaming and traffic had begun to roar down the avenue. sophie climbed into the bed with me and gently clawed at my am until i petted her. she likes to get under the covers and hide from miles, her motor running hot and her soft fur against my naked belly. i stroked her as much as i could before the second wave of exhaustion overwhelmed me and i nodded back to sleep.

i woke up and was immediately challenged by all that i need to accomplish today. of course i only have an hour or two before i have to get ready for work, so i had to plan a strategy accordingly. the house is a mess but there is no time to worry about that. i have to write a recommendation letter for an old professor of mine trying to gain tenure ship but my brain isnt working that clearly yet. there were a few emails i needed to write, one or two may get achieved, we'll see. first i made coffee. then i filled the kitties bowls with food. then i sat down at the computer. what should i do first.

i guess ill force an entry into the ole blog.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Forced Entry #22: dreams - that which i do not want

Oh yeah and those weird dreams, which have been leaving themselves exposed even after I wake up. Revealing the strange scenes of sleep that I still don’t understand.

Last night I had two. The first one I had while I was passed out on the couch. This was strange because in the dream I was on the couch and waking up, so when I actually woke up it took me a moment to realize I was no longer in that surreal space between consciousnesses. That rarely happens. Usually when I wake from a particularly vivid dream I'm am jarred by the reality of my surroundings. This time it was different.

In the dream I woke from sleep to the sound of rustling in my bedroom. My bedroom is separated by my living room by two French doors, so I only had to lift my head to see from where this sound came from. What I saw should have stricken me with fear and paranoia, but instead I was only annoyed and slightly bored with the scene.

It was a man dressed in Middle Eastern garb [a long black robe, the hood of which was over his head, and a scarf wrapped around the bottom of his face, revealing only wide, frightened eyes]. He had been rummaging through my closet and in his hand were two hangers holding full outfits. I jumped up from the couch and walked over to him, an angry determination in my steps, and grabbed the clothes from his hands and threw them onto my bed. He cowered where he stood as I scolded him for his attempts at thievery. He said nothing the whole time, and I had no intention of letting him plea his case. Grabbing him by the arm, like a parent does an unruly child, I escorted him to the front door, which was slightly ajar. Just as we reached it another man, Middle Eastern as well but without the hood and scarf covering up his identity, walked up to the door, confused, presumably, by his thieving friends lack of haste in the robbery. Him too, I scolded on the ethics of theft, and I threw the first one out the door, making sure his body not only blacked the second mans entrance, but pushed him back as well. When they were both behind the locked door I went back into the bedroom to assess what was missing. Nothing was.

After a moment I walked into the hallway of my building. The men were gone. I suppose my aim was to alert the superintendent of these trespassers, but although the stairwells had a few stragglers climbing along them [i've no idea why they were awake, it was deep into the morning] the super was nowhere to be found. I stopped one resident and warned him of the burglars, giving him physical descriptions and also briefing him on my own experience. From the alarmed look on his face he took the caution to heart. We looked gravely around us, up and down the hallway, then bade each other farewell and wished one another luck. It was then that I awoke.

The second dream is harder to describe, as it was less linear and more surreal than the first.

I was in Northern California with my brother. I don’t know the purpose of our visit, possibly to visit our mother, but I recall he looked as if the whole venture was a burden. His face wore an impatient boredom. We were on a bus and he sat in front of me reclined in his seat with his eyes closed. When the bus stopped we were at a mall and I shook him to get his attention so we could exit. The strange thing about this was I don’t think this was our stop, but I had the impression we should get off. Maybe I figured it was something to do and would somehow make him more agreeable. I'm not sure.

We walked into the mall, which was modern and open air, and immediately I suggested we go get something to eat. With a grunt he agreed and I pointed to an upper level Spanish diner that, in the strange logic of dreams, I knew very well and whose food I was positive we’d enjoy. Like many restaurants in malls, there were no doors to the establishment, and we just walked into the dimly lit dining area, which was sparsely populated; just a few tables with single patrons picking at their plates. The walls were unseemly shades of brown and yellow. All the waitresses were in their 40's, but had that warm, buxom look that middle aged latinas can have after a child or two; small, protruding bellies and childrearing hips, big attractive smiles and long, dark, slightly curly hair that fell down to the middle of their shoulders. They had a middle age beauty and sex appeal about them. With warm smiles and large, heaving bosoms behind the aprons that they wore.

Will, still not in a completely pleasant mood, but not as bad as he once was, went up to the counter and ordered a typical plate. Tamales or tacos or burritos or something. I decided to be more adventurous, so I ordered the special.

Now this is where it gets weird.

My waitress, and attractive, motherly woman flashed me a huge smile, thoroughly pleased that I had ordered the special. She grabbed a bowl and began filling it with rice and beans and a dark, chunky sauce. Then, still beaming, she took off one shoe and sock. I stood staring, confused but interested on what was to happen. That’s when she took a large meat cleaver from the counter top and proceeded to chop off her foot from the ankle. Without so much as a grimace on her face, she gently placed the foot in the bowl with the rest of the food. Then she covered it with shredded cheese and, hopping around the kitchen, shoved it all into the oven.

She turned to me and nodded, that smile still wide on her face, and her eyes pleading with me for some semblance of appreciation. I realized she couldn’t speak English, and shyly gave her a smile and nodded back to her. This placated her some and she turned back to the kitchen and opened the oven and pulled out my bowl, which by then had steam rising from the bubbling cheese and sauce. I was appalled, but I didn’t want to look disgusted because she seemed so happy that I had ordered the special. She hopped around the kitchen [I could see behind the counter] and then placed my meal on a tray and slid it towards me.

I took it to our table, my stomach in knots for obvious reasons, and ate with my back towards her. I knew she was watching. I slyly took the foot, which had been cooked and browned in the oven, and placed it on the side of the bowl - myself on the verge of puking – and Will just sort of stared at me. Half his eyes filled with humor and the other with a sick disgust. I picked at the rice, not eating any, then took my bowl and tray and threw it all in the trash. I turned and waved good-bye as we exited and the footless woman, standing there and hopping to maintain balance, waved back, the smile on her face wide with a sickly pride.

Not long after that I woke up, as you can imagine, breakfast was not on the menu this morning.


i am on the couch and covered in two blankets and dusk is approaching and the white falls heavily outside. the house is warm but a brisk thread swirls throughout like a chill reminder of what we are in. a blizzard. i suck up mucous and swallow in pain and shift beneath the covers in a weak attempt to find comfort. on the television is footage of neighboring cities covered in snow. cars are stuck in no parking zones. frustrated residents shovel their sidewalks. the reporter is bundled in thick threads and his gloved hand grips the microphone and his eyes flutter and he says this is the worst weve seen in a while. the newscasters in the studio gasp and moan and wish him good luck out there. they are in their normal suits, their make up unperturbed. the flip papers on their desk and move along to the next story.

all the schools are closed. mine included.

i shift again and feel aches in my lower back and behind my knees and the covers get tangled in my feet and i throw them off, trying to breathe. my mouth is dry and my head throbs. i wonder what sort of medicine is in my bathroom. i do not have the energy to check.

a cat climbs onto the couch and nuzzles near my feet, i dont know which and dont look up to find out. my phone vibrates but i dont reach to see who is calling. my eyes open and close slowly. on the television is an advertisement suggesting i visit california. i shift again and find no comfort.

the ill body remains restless. the hours pass by with no event. the snow continues to fall. i think of the things id rather be doing. i think of the things i should be doing. my eyes open and close slowly. an ache shudders from my head down to my shins. i do not move.

Monday, February 01, 2010

forced entry #412 i think the first memory of my grandfather

One time I was driving from Colorado to New Jersey with my grandfather. We were in one of those big luxury cruisers he liked to drive. Lincolns and Cadillac’s and Buick sedans. Huge, long, V8 engine gas-guzzlers with tons of trunk space and plenty of legroom. He had a hundred of them if he had one. Anyway, I was six years old at the time. He was taking me from Denver to Newark, to live with him and my grandmother. The circumstances of why I was going I could only now speculate. The memories I have are those of a very young child's, the truth in them is questionable. I can only tell you what I know, from the impressions that were left upon me.

We were thundering down huge empty stretches of highway. Somewhere in the middle of America with nothing but open plains on either side of us. I would get restless and fiddle with the electric window controls, creating sounds in different pitches by rolling the window up and down and letting air blast into the car in a melody of whistles. Or toy with the controls to the radio or climb from the front seat to the back then back to the front again chasing some imaginary gremlin. Every few hundred miles he would tell me to settle down or threaten to pull over ands stop the car. He never said what would happen if the car stopped, but I was keen enough to know I didn’t want to find out.

Most of the trip my he sat in the drivers seat chewing on his cigar, sliding the unlit butt from one side of his mouth to the other in wise silence. Every so often he would turn on the radio to get a traffic or weather report, but aside from that he didn’t want much noise.

He told me to count the mile markers and see how high I could go. I think I made it to seventy-five before I fell asleep. He was a clever man.

In Kansas or Missouri we were chased by a storm. Off into the distant emptiness I saw as lightning cracked through the horizon. Thin bolts striking down across the plains just a few miles from us. I stared in wonder as the heavens broke before me, filled with a confusion of fear and awe. My grandfather grunted at the darkening sky and turned on the headlights. Then he grunted again and turned on the windshield wipers.

I watched as the storm caught up to us and the first raindrops began touching upon the window. Dark gray clouds flickering with anxious charges loomed above. The rain began to pelt the roof first gently and then with increasing violence. Soon we were being pummeled by the sky. The windshield wipers swept furiously but couldn’t catch up with the rush of water pouring down from overhead. I grew hypnotized by the headlights beaming by us in a blur. My grandfather adjusted his Stetson and tried to get a report on the radio. There was nothing but static and the static sounded like the rain and all beyond us was what we heard. The white noise of the storm.

We slept in the car one night. At dusk he pulled into a truck stop and he gave me a blanket and I curled up in the back seat while he lay down in the front. When I woke up we were already on the road with the rural sprawl of Indiana or Ohio or West Virginia on either side of us. We stopped at a diner and had eggs and bacon and he asked me if I liked living with my aunt in Denver and I didn’t know how to answer that so I just shrugged. He didn’t ask anything after that. Like I said, he was a clever man. we just finished our eggs and left.
Creative Commons License
:gray matters: by jkg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at downtownalleys.blogspot.com.