Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Day in the Life, Part IV
"The Northwest Passage"

I don't often talk about my dreams — neither my aspirations for the future nor what happens whenever I close my eyes.

But last night, well... last night I came face-to-face with the very beast that's made it nearly impossible to write, or speak.

You see, the follow-up to my most recent apartment fiasco is that my landlady now turns the cold water off at night, long before I generally go to sleep.

That means no tooth brushing, no face washing, no showering and — last but not least — no toilet flushing.

And it was the final in that list that I attempted to do around 10 p.m. last night, only to realize my water was already off for the day.

[Yes, I realize what she's doing is very likely illegal — but I have almost a year left on my lease and moving is very time consuming and expensive].

I was so... frustrated... that I couldn't fathom any way to spend the remainder of my evening, except to sleep. I had no words for anyone.

No thoughts.

Just a simple tinge of anger and frustration, welling in the pit of my stomach.

My mind was a jumble of sounds and images, all of them indiscernible. And even as I crawled into bed, I knew sleep would not come fast enough.

How could it, with my pulse racing as it was?

But when it did — when finally the last drops of daylight faded from my eyes — I shouted in my sleep the very thing I'd been meaning to say.

My family was visiting. My sister and my oldest nephew were in my living room watching cartoons when I realized something was awry. I looked up and saw bubbles forming across my ceiling, spreading with pox-like rapidity down the hall and into the living room.

I grabbed my nephew and shouted for my sister to follow, as hole after hole burst through my ceiling and water spewed forth, ruining most (if not all) of my possessions (which are almost entirely sentimental in value).

I called my landlady to report the incident, and lost my temper for the first time — lamenting the photos and books and letters that lay in ruins.

"I just want things to be right — I want back everything that I've lost!" I shouted into the phone. "Life isn't meant to be so complicated!"

And I continued.

I'm tired of all of this.

[There was an exclamation point in my voice when I yelled this but now — in the world of conscious thought — a period and a pregnant pause will suffice.]

And that, as they say, is the rub.

I'm struggling to speak and write because everything is wrong, or even...

Out of place.

And I've come to realize that nothing I say or do will help to restore order.

What I see in this world — what I feel — is so often at odds with what I experience. It's at odds with every newspaper headline and every rush hour traffic jam.

And this streak of bad luck — if you can call it that — isn't a streak at all.

This isn't a phase.

This has been my life, and for as long as I can recollect.

So when does it stop? When do things get better? When do I stop being a doormat upon which other people shake their muddy shoes?

Or for that matter: when does writing about such things cease to suffice as a means of catharsis?

It stops when I stop.

All of it.

And that, I suppose, is what I fear.

That I'm stopping. That I'm giving up.

That for all of these traveled miles, for all of these experiences — however beautiful —

I have forgotten myself along the way.

I worry, then, that there is nothing left to regain.

(And so: no reason to try.)

And yet, even still,

I persist.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Day in the Life, Part III
"I Da Ho, U Da Ho"

Sometimes you can drive across an entire state and not see much of it.

All it takes is a mixture of persistent storm clouds

Extreme fatigue

And a confused GPS unit that keeps telling you to abandon the highway at every possible exit.

But even under the worst of conditions, a little beauty is bound to shine through.

And everywhere in-between, you amuse yourself with unusual signs you pass along the way.

From the juvenile

And the unintended racism

To the fallen.

Before you know it, you're 380 miles from where you started, and you realize you'd had GPS set to "pedestrian" — and not "automobile" — all the while.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Day in the Life, Part II
"The Tetons"

Everyone's a building burning
With no one to put the fire out
Standing at the window looking out
Waiting for time to burn us down

Modest Mouse, "Blame it on the Tetons"

I've spent the morning waiting for the night to shake off, certain that chronic fatigue is more than an urban legend.

And I wonder if for every one of these posts — every attempt at assigning words to the summer's thus-far-adventures — will be the same.

An exposition on wordlessness. A litany of the ineffable. A diatribe on appreciating aesthetics when all the while desolation is just around the corner.

And so it goes. And goes. These stories with no beginning, middle or end.

This diurnal battle to find the energy to speak when I want nothing more than to retreat to my bed

Pull up the covers

And dream the world away.

Or should I tell you? Should I say what I am thinking? Should I offer those few words I've jotted down in the margins of my notebook?

This is the first day of the last of our life together.

But where do I go from there? From here?

How do I continue when I am speaking of a recent past, now at odds with my present?

These are memories. Photographs are nearly always that, and a little more. Every image tells a story; an emotion.

And one, I fear, I'm losing the ability to articulate.

But I will say this for Wyoming: it's prettier than you might think.

Amazing, really, with all variety of landscapes and vistas: plains and desert; mountains and red rock.

And the wildlife is as diverse as it is accessible: deer, antelope,

moose, buffalo,

and wild horses.

[Rumor has it there are grizzly bears, too, though I didn't see any of those.]

I am glad for the time we took through the Tetons. Through Wyoming. State highways are nearly always more scenic than the ExpressWay, if not more than a little bit slower.

And that, I think, it what we need more of.

We need more slow.

Can I say that? Can I use an adjective as a noun?

It doesn't matter, really. The point remains the same.

There's a world of difference between letting life drag on, and seizing the day.

And so — whatever you do — don't wait to act until these moments have gone

too far away