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Showing posts from 2018

A container of stories

I enjoy telling stories, Tim. That’s one of the things I like to do.
Like this:
When Astro came to live with me, I embarked upon a long, ambitious campaign to buy him cat toys. That’s just what one does with cats, Tim. And after that, after the toys, I mean, whenever I sat in my reading chair upstairs and I began to read, Astro carried his toys up from downstairs and dropped them at my feet, even the large ones, like the stuffed monkey which is bigger than he is. Cats don’t do that, of course – I think you’re thinking of dogs – but no one ever told Astro the difference.
And one night, two or three days in I guess, you wouldn’t believe this, he brought me up a toy I had not purchased for him. It was this little ball, purple and white and very worn, that had once belonged to Stagger Lee. This surprised me and yes, it worried me a bit, because Stagger Lee had been gone more than six years and I would like to believe, for my image of myself, the one I’ve pieced together carefully and rely o…


The too too intense eye contact. The bull ring in the nose, yes, probably that. Plus she was left-handed – I have been known to be annoyed by less.
In many ways, easily counted, I must rank Barnaby’s Restaurant on Fairview among the few enemies of mine. Or, if not Barnaby’s, then its odious customers, definitely, who insist upon moving, prior to pickup, my trash cans, for parking nearly every Monday morning. And it’s all the same, to me, in the end – the restaurant, its customers – for how could it be that a single restaurant should attract so many thoughtless customers? It’s a coincidence too large to be swallowed, I say.
Enemy or not, though enemy it most surely is, I found myself at Barnaby’s – I know, I know – on a cold January night for one reason and the reason was this: It’s very near my house and I could get drunk there.
The laugh. That laugh would get old quickly, I’d wager. And the choice of St. Arnold’s Christmas ale. And the tattoo, I believed it was a tattoo, not a birthma…

Am I superstitious?

There’s that thing about nothing new under the sun. Somebody said it once and so people say it – “There is nothing new under the sun!” – but people say it and they’re wrong.
I do what it is I’ve always done. For nineteen years now, people come to me, thirty-five a week (can you believe it?), which is a hundred fifty a month which is eighteen hundred a year which is nearly thirty-six thousand people in nineteen years. They’ve all got their fears, their angers, their monsters who will rip away these people’s homes and children and jobs and their security.
People always say sorry for their tears.
These people get sued by credit card companies. They drop the kids off at their ex’s five days late. They do battle with landlords over windowsill mold, and it’s harmless mold too, really, but they insist it’s killing them.
It’s nothing new. It’s just my job.  
But now there is something new. It started last November. Just one at first. He was a young black man and the first thing he ever said to m…

One more time with feeling

I’d intended to change my life this year, all of it, to yank my life out by the roots, leaving nothing standing, to start over from scratch, in fact, but I got a cat instead.
It was enough.
My house, you know it was a coffin. Since Astro’s come here, two weeks ago – so hard to believe just two weeks – I’ve opened up the curtains. Let in light. Dusted rooms I never use. I’ve picked up paper clips from dark corners, and thumb tacks, and gift cards, old packets of cold medicine, spare change, the tops from contact lens cases, and those little plastic things you shove into collars of dress shirts to keep them sharp and straight.
It was a lot.
I did it for the cat.
Still I wound up saying, “Hey! What do you have? What are you eating?” A lot. Practically all the time. Way more often than I’d have believed possible.
I was sitting in my rocking chair Friday night and I was reading a book with my feet propped up on the bed. It was typical. And I had gotten to the part of the book where Angela Car…

The ramparts: A blogaversary

David Bowie’s bats could fly but not of their own volition. No, not with a flapping of the wings and a great leap up. Not with a running start like a plane on a runway.
Bats don’t work like that.
The little bats were, as it were, like all bats in that they had to fall into flight, so David Bowie built a shelf from which his bats could hang and fall. He took the shelf and he took the bats and he brought them out on tours with him, even on the “Glass Spider” Tour which was not a career peak of his by any means but hell, he was still David Bowie, even in the nineteen eighties.
On a night in Kathmandu after the show, David Bowie went back to his hotel room. He had a box in his hotel room and he reached into the box. He took out a red square and – you see, I’m trying to make this complex thing simpler for you – unfolded the red square out to make a door, then opened the door and walked through. Inside was David Bowie’s secret room which was very ornate with shiny gold frills and obscure emb…

My hand looks like a giant flea

When, after four whole weeks, my illness still drags on, I reach a point of decision. I determine, reasonably, I believe, to confine – or rather, perhaps, to consign – myself to the bed, in order that I might either sleep myself to health or else be done with it once and for all to give up the ghost.
In bed with me, I’ve got some water, Mucinex, a bottle of wine, the TV remote, toilet paper in lieu of Kleenex, The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman, and an enormous pair of wireless headphones. That’s all.
I don’t know how long I’ve been here.
Maybe always.
Deep inside my head, in the part of me where I’ve always assumed my brains to be, something crackles and whines. It goes o-o-on and o-o-on, surprisingly loud, really, until finally, I open my eyes up and catch a glimpse of my hand.
It does not appear real. My hand, I mean. I can see too much of it maybe, and too clearly. All the sides at once and the colors are all wrong.
My hand looks like a giant flea.
The legs twitch against …

Approaching Ludditia

First there was the car. The new car. This would have been maybe two years ago, or nearly. I’d never had automatic windows before that, or automatic locks, I mean remote locks, or one of those digital speedometer things, you know, and my car tells me when the air in one of my tires is low.
These were all great big changes for me, from my old car, but nothing really changed. It was the way I got to work and to my parents’ house and to some other places too, sometimes, and from. I notice something and what I notice is three weeks is all it takes until the new things become routine and you stop noticing and that’s when the old things become the old days.
Except Jamie leaving. Jamie leaving takes longer.
In November, I got a smart phone. Before that, I had a dumb phone, which was fine, a dumb phone was just fine, except for the screen stopped working and then I couldn’t tell anymore who was calling me. I accidentally answered the phone for people I did not wish to talk to and so I had to bu…

Some random hashtag

The thing about the firemen was – and there were very many of them by this point, you understand – I knew exactly why they were there, which made it bad enough, obviously, unacceptable, but still I went on with my day. I bit my tongue. Figuratively, I’m saying this. I hardly ever truly bite my tongue, if you have to know, or just rarely.
Then more firetrucks. I could see them through my mini-blinds which are the things across my windows. The firetrucks were red only more like the red from when I was a kid, not like the kind of red that exists now. There were red firetrucks and then there was the black car and also the men in the suits and ties, who I knew to be arson investigators because I know a government worker when I see a government worker, always.
This was too much.
In my blue pajamas, I ran outside, across to my neighbor’s yard where there were still embers burning. I yelled at the arson investigator – the one who was bald and with a scar – yelled at him, “Okay! Okay! I know wha…