The ChuckleHut

[ Sunday, September 29, 2002 ]

in case you were wondering...
thats just the way it seems to me at [12:19 PM]

yesterday phil and tara and kel and i brunched at Q, so we were all blissed out by the time we left. they were kind of tripping out on all the stuff on clement, the traffic and unrecognizable fruits and bizarre children's toys and general weirdness, when kel remembered that we needed a shower curtain and that we were in front of the only store in the neighborhood that sold them. this seemed incongruous, but i know far better than to second-guess kel on a matter such as this. i don't recall ever having even seen this particular store before, though by the tired awning and dusty displays and general worn out feeling of the place i could see that i'd just overlooked it. we went in and the place was deep and narrow and they seemed to have one or two of everything, including shower curtains. phil pointed out that the marketing copy on the shower curtain packaging made special note of the apparently critical information that the curtain was both non-poisonous - a quality i have come to expect from my shower curtains, and tasteless. yes, that's the word they used. which raised, phil pointed out, the question whether it meant the curtain actually had no flavor, which seemed unimaginably improbable to me, or if they meant that it was a tacky piece of shit, which seemed likely but a strange exercise in truth in advertising.

our next stop was 6th avenue aquarium and flowers. they have a staggering selection of mollusks and sponges and coral and anenomes; octopuses and eels and huge nautiluses that look dangerously alien; newts and lungfish and mudskippers... and the upstairs gallery has cool stuff too but it's ludicrously cramped so if you have a fear of heights, fish, and hip hop you shouldn't go. on the way out i was standing by an upstairs window and a big black persian cat came running up, purring and rapturous. i petted - him, i think, and felt hard tight matting ripping at his hair, and scabs on his head, thick and crusty. his eyes were clear, though. i took away my hand from him and went down and outside.

last night dave and kim and andy and heidi and the kids came over. we had carnitas sandwiches - with homemade and best ever carnitas - and sweet potato/red pepper soup and banana cake with chocolate glaze. which was all very good, and andy had brought over cosmo fixin's so things went extra smoothly... at the end andy was standing by the carnitas pot with me and we were munching on random chunks. he was telling me that today he's going to an east bay street fair where some of his patients, who own and run a very excellent restaurant, will be roasting and carving two whole pigs. they will surely do an excellent job of it, but andy will be regaling them in his effusive loquacity about the most delicious carnitas he's ever eaten... at my house last night...
thats just the way it seems to me at [12:19 PM]

it's not unusual to find wallets, empty and discarded, on the greenbelt across from my house. when i found one on friday that was full of credit cards and i.d., i pocketed it immediately and took it to my office. i hadn't even taken a good look at it, but with my arm in a cast it was too complicated to take a closer look on the fly. As soon as i got to my desk i took it out. it was a small leather pouch with a perfume company name on it. i unzipped it and jesse fell out.

first, there was an envelope from a major bank, folded, stuffed with cards, tattered and grimy. the first card was a standard looking bank card for this guy jesse. then there was a veteran's administration i.d. card; he's white, born in 1951. then his social security card, a bunch of other i.d. and business cards, a notecard with a post offfice box address written on it, and a wadded up piece of a napkin wrapped around a little silver key and a tiny flat singed and acrid roach.

i started by calling the case manager listed on his homeless veteran's emergency services card but he said that jesse hadn't been around for two months and was no longer an active file; i got the strong feeling that this guy didn't want to waste any time with me at all. the manager at the Golden Eagle hotel, single room occupancy, was very courteous but unequivocally stated that jesse wasn't staying with them anymore - or again. the VA clinic at ft miley near the palace of the legion of honor, by contrast, was appreciative and helpful, and asked me to forward the stuff to his doctor, which i did, reminding him that even though jesse may have a p.o. box on file, if we have his i.d. and his key he can't get to it, so don't send the wallet there. i sent on the roach too, at the risk of federal charges. this guy looks like he's had a bad day. he'll probably need whatever succor that bitter little stub can offer him. but even so, all day long my cube smelled faintly like a lawn fire.
thats just the way it seems to me at [11:23 AM]

[ Wednesday, September 25, 2002 ]

so much to vent, so little time

just to be perverse, i made a tally. 'things that didn't go so well' won.

things that went better than expected today:
* it's kel's birthday - that's always nice
* i remembered the card for her birthday and wrote something appropriate
* i remembered to mail the bills
* we made all the lights going downtown on geary this morning - that's like hitting a royal flush when you're out in the avenues
* i seem to be regaining some finger function - not much but a good start
* we got water just in time from a friendly and convenient florist (see below)
* kel gave me bus fare which i usually don't even need and was totally going to forget to get from her but she remembered and saved my ass
* i got my happy hour invite
*i brought lots of good music to work - listened to some chuck prophet, a sweet hot tuna bootleg, and some blazing live greyboy
* my handwriting with my left hand is improving - now it's merely the scrawl of a head-trauma posterboy, yesterday it was flatly illegible, unintelligible even to me
* i had a tasty free lunch thanks to a gift certificate to my single outside source of nutrition that my colleagues thoughtfully provided to me in lieu of flowers which really is a better idea and there's lots of credit on the account still
* i was able to eat the tasty free lunch without making any more of a mess than i probably would have anyway, one-handed with a little assistance from the invalid digits - and it was a falafel burrito, totally delicious but a trecherous handful, i wou;dn't have it any other way
* i finally got out a letter that i really wanted off my desk - since july, although honestly a lot of the delay wasn't my fault, in fact i forced things to come to a conclusion because i just couldn't stand it
* gramma was home to let me into the foyer (she lives in an in-law in the garage below her daughter, my landlady; see below)
* i brought a really cool book to read, a total escapist delight
* kel decided to blow off the fancy french bistro for our local favorite thai place for her natalday dinner, which was both cheaper and more satisfying in every way
* i haven't taken pain meds in over 24 hrs with the exception of standard fermented therapeutics and herbal remedies

things that didn't go as well as they could have
* i have the sniffles and its as humiliating as it is infuriating
* i'm not sleeping well - asleep at 11, up at one all agitated and warm... awake till 5... alarm at 5:30...
* early is dark now
* i didn't really get a chance to bathe very thoroughly - it's something of an ordeal these days
* i broke a beloved hawaiian ugga-bugga fridge magnet with my clumsy protruberance - thats right my cast
* i totally worked through my lunch and didn't get my dose of cyberculture
* that letter i'm so proud of getting off my desk neeeded 3 re-prints because i screwed it up so badly and couldn't get it right
* there were like 4 other important things i totally didn't even start to get to
* i left my wallet with the bus pass at home
* the car very nearly overheated while kel was driving me to work, we were probably close to blowing the radiator - but on the plus side she very rarely takes me to work, it's lucky that this problem came up at a time that i was available to help deal with it - she didn't seem to have a good idea what to do after she identified the problem, i'm glad i was there, she easily could have been on her own
* i didn't bring any of the batteries we got so i couldn't use a walkman or my phone headset - the walkman is a bigger issue because
* i also left my housekeys at home and didn't realize it till after kel dropped me off at work so i couldn't borrow her keys
* so i was stranded without music from 5 pm when i got home (but i got to work early too so this doesn't represent any kind of short day) till kel got home, around 7:15
* the two friends whom we've entrusted with spare keys weren't home so i still was stranded
* the landlady who lives downstairs and her kids also weren't home so i was still stuck - even though gramma let me into the foyer, she speaks no english and i wasn't able to communicate to her that i needed to borrow the key to my own front door - she's an octogenarian fistful of chinese sourpuss, it takes a lot to deal with her even though i was glad she heard the doorbell and let me in, harranguing and lecturing me in shrill words that sounded angry but maybe weren't; so anyway i was parked outside my front door for an hour and a half
* so i didn't get my laundry to the dry cleaner
* and i didn't get to a drug store to get some reasonably critical supplies
* finished my wonderful book at 5:40 and had no backup
* didn't get a chance to stretch out after work, or to try to anyway, which i haven't been able to do for weeks now and my muscles are starting to notice, because i was stuck on the stoop
* the landlady's son had been home all the time; i heard him get a phone call at 6:40 and i got him to let me in shortly thereafter, he'd just not heard - or had ignored - the doobell when i rang earlier
* the cat has very poor litterbox aim, if you catch my drift

by my count, that's 20 to 17, 'not so great' over 'better than expected.' tomorrow and friday i bargain all day and that should be relatively low impact after what i've been through. friday night i drink and then my wonderful sisinlaw and spouse arrive from seattle for the weekend; they've got colds and she sprained her ankle so it'll be a quiet relaxing time... and that's what chuckles really needs about now...

thats just the way it seems to me at [7:03 PM]

[ Tuesday, September 24, 2002 ]

maybe im gonna get in trouble for this but i can't keep anything to myself. an inexplicably popular toy-distribution and grease-recycling conglomerate has been named defendant in a lawsuit filed in California, seeking to get 'prop 65 warnings' posted at their refectories statewide. these warnings must be posted, per state law, wherever known carcinogens are found in sufficient quantity to have a potential impact on human health, including fetal health. the crux of the suit is the discovery of large amounts of acralymide in their ubiqutious friez. as it turns out, the carcinogen appears to be created naturally through the frying process itself; it's unavoidable even at home but somebody's suing the clown over it anyway. does this make mcD's an innocent victim? it would be tempting to think so... but then i learn that the world's most popular computer game, a fetish for millions of all ages, has just contracted with the arch nemisis to be included in its upcoming new version. the burgermeister tried to get the gamemakers to render their swill as the most 'nutritous' (efficient) food in the game, but there was resistance... thankfully...
thats just the way it seems to me at [7:00 PM]

shirk, and the world shirks with you; toil, and you toil alone... back at my desk at the organization, and time flies when i have this much fun... flies like a cassowary on quaaludes in a warm bath of karo syrup.... mmmm, karo syrup...
thats just the way it seems to me at [10:49 AM]

[ Monday, September 23, 2002 ]

a special note of appreciation for dr. andy and mrs heidi, and their lovely succot party atop the berkeley hills yesterday. for three hours we shmoozed, met new friends, ate ourselves silly with sausages and burgers and kel's magnificent lemon bars, and fulfilled the mitzvah of sitting in a crude fruit-laden booth out-of-doors with the ancient and mysterious symbols of the season. both brian and jon were there to see the rapid pace of my recovery (they'd been with me for the accident too), and i got to brag to strangers about my genius friends and the compassion and care they have shown me. i was even permitted to offer a few words on the history, traditions and technicalities of the festival. small children swarmed underfoot with glee, and the sun shone through schach on my pallid face. it was one of those events that makes people more alive; anyway that's how it worked for me. it wasn't a religious event, though it was a religious occasion - it just felt good and helped us all heal and grow a bit closer. may it ever be thus.
thats just the way it seems to me at [1:43 PM]

i guess i live in an older suburban neighborhood, for this area anyway. houses went up around 1900 and are thick with local lore, which no one knows or cares to know. there are a handful of older businesses from the 50s that have always given me heartache - little empty shops that no one visits, holdovers from a time when all the people who died in their bathtubs of old age were alive and interested in life. i cant imagine why these particular establishments survived; they seem weak and pathetic and the three that seemed most moribund to me are now finally closed. there was a small storefront that sold men's clothes, new and used, with handlettered "sale" signs and miserable ugly polyester shirts that had faded to albino in the sunlit display case; dust lay thick on the packages of underware and socks carefully arranged around them. there was nothing ever going on inside; the dark door stood haughty, closed and lonely, like the old men i could imagine would have, when young, decided not to shop there, and now resembled the items not being sold. it was a half-hearted effort, an old man's hobby, or so i convinced myself. then there was hickman's beauty shop, with the rack of empty dryer-chairs, the exhausted lino floor, the proud sign: "featuring miss julie, for young debs." ms julie's name was covered with four perfectly parallel strips of masking tape, now transparent and drooping. it looked to be a place the living might visit to appear more like the dead. i never saw anyone inside; finally a sign, hastily hand-lettered, appeared on the door, "closed due to illness," and then all the sinks and counters and aged dryers with plastic upholstered seats disappeared; now the place is full of rugs and cleaning supplies but the same sad sign hangs over the window. and then, finally, there was the model pharmacy, so-called; with yards of space between individual items on the crumbling shelves, ancient graphics on ancient labels on ancient boxes, untouched and untouchable; each arrangement like a gallery sculpture, unpriced, unwanted, unsought, unpurchased since nixon was the one... their marquee sign had read , for my full eleven years in this neighborhood, "sic kroom needs / underp ads both sizes / bag candy". The store reeeked of desuitude and neglect. now it's empty and i cant tell if i'm relieved or even more depressed.

thats just the way it seems to me at [1:30 PM]

[ Saturday, September 21, 2002 ]

this isn't really speaking of it - it's remembering and memorializing.

the room was white, uncompromising
curtains cutting me from them
they stood and fretted by his bedside
proud to tears of how he'd fallen
broke it clean just like the big boys
one was laying there three feet
and one thin plastic curtain over
smacking my two feet together
to the rhythm of the throbbing
fingers hanging like chianti
dusty in its netted bottles
fingers drained of blood and feeling
bulging in their wire cages
as my wrist and arm hung thickly
thickly passed the aching hours
liquids pumping through my sysyem
through a #14 needle
filling me lugubroiusly
but the flame is everburning
it, the center of my being,
it has taken over all
all other things come back to it
suspended from those rusting traps
so near my face i hear it crackle
from inside my purple flesh
and beyond it, high school hero
asking them to rate the pain
he can expect to feel next
his voice a whispered waver whine
his mothers eyes are full of tears
she turns away and stares at me
in lycra shorts and sheets of pain
her eyes are full already and
my image bounces off unseen
the doctor is a brooding hulk
his shoulders bunch as he clears room
the lidocaine goes in the joint
just push until you feel the bone
it sets the pain on fire again
and then extinguishes itself
whats left is little more than tension
they tell me low to take a breath
i pull it down and hold it dearly
clutching with my other hand
at something that i cannot move
so i won't shame myself by flinching
they have got me in their clutches
nothing i could do regardless
now the doctor is in motion
i can feel each milimeter
stretching out against the muscles
that are hours into spasm
leveraging the shattered end
into the fulcrum whence it came
a groan has rumbled from my chest
a noise ive never made before
a noise like meat and nerves and sinew
mom is seeing me quite clearly
watching as my arm is twisted
back into a lonely socket
feel it slip back into place
didn't know my elbow hurt
until it stopped
i caught my breath
and let my good hand go again
the cast was slithering into place
the chunks were floating near to home
the gruesome lump was back in line
the bruise and swelling less abnormal
time sat on the bed beside me
changing with malicious slowness
someone bumped the plastic curtain
high school hero meets the doctor
thats when mother left the room
but i remained beside his curtain
and went through it again with him
thats just the way it seems to me at [4:31 PM]

i think its very cool and honorable that my dad got included in this cool book of photos and essays. he's such a little kid in a sage's suit a lot of the time, which isn't to say he's universally endearing, in fact he can be a bit of a noodge, but i love him and im certainly too proud of him to say anything about his entry in the book, positive or negative. he speaks for himself, and eloquently. but that won't stop me from noting that there's another guy in the book who just rubs me the wrong way. there are always a few who are irritating or you just wouldn't want to meet'em or have anything to do with them, they just have that kind of face... but then there's this one guy, he took my breath away, i took one look at his rosy face and vacuous smile (both of which traits i share with him) and i just wanted to smash his face in. just wanted to crush his jaw with my fist. see his face crumple around my knuckles. drive his teeth into his uvula. i didn't understand where this antipathy came from till kel pointed out that he had one perfectly straight wrinkle that went all across the whole breadth of his forehead. 'its where they reattach his scalp,' she informed me. 'he's a robot. a rabbi-obot. or robot-abbi. your choice.' if you ask me, they're both bad choices. thats why i want so badly to smash him. but other than him its a cool book.
thats just the way it seems to me at [3:55 PM]

i got the ol' alumni magazine yesterday and there is a lot of information in it about campus, with some cool maps. i love maps, i can spent inordinte amounts of time staring at them. so, i was staring at this map and found a number of intriguing entries. for example, when i went there we had the "hospital of the univ. of pa." now sickly students and tumerous teachers get to chek themselves into the infinitely more comforting, "hospital of the univ. of pa. health system." see, now its a system. systems work. so you get better faster. quite a system they've got going. on the other hand, there's the "woodland" college house. any building with more than 15 male undergraduates probably qualifies to be called by this name; i'd be curious as to the selection process this one endured to win the title. Then there's the "stellar-chance labs." i can't tell if thats a good chance or a poor chance. there are large buildings described by initials: BRB; vagellos IAST, and my own favorite, the LRSM: labs for research into the structure of matter, as it turns out. But my overall favorite is the new mainwaring wing of the magnificent early-renaissance-revival redbrick museum, with its associated new stoner courtyard. talk about truth in advertising. if those walls could talk, and could remember anything, they'd tell you that's been a stoner courtyard for nigh on a dog's age... heh... 'nigh'
thats just the way it seems to me at [3:38 PM]

im back, rebuilt, and far improved. they gave me general anesthesia and encountered a slight complication that required a few more pins, but no external fixation. once i awoke i had a clinically unusually high discomfort response for several hours. i got pumped way way full of morpheine and torredol or something and adavan and something else too i think, a rainbow of opiates coursing through my veins, which, techs have been quick to inform me, eyes wide with awe, are proud and huge and bulging. i was kept overnight and wiled away the wee hours with my pain management button - this one released more morpheine in chunky doses (unlike the one i use back at the hut). i got home yesterday afternoon and now the slow part has begun in earnest. two weeks with my elbow bent in a plaster cast, and then i graduate to a splint. the worst part of all was missing all the lovely binging on the patio, so i guess things could have gone a lot worse.

now let me never speak of it again.
thats just the way it seems to me at [2:03 PM]

[ Thursday, September 19, 2002 ]

my broken wrist has a name, albeit an undistinguished one. but its still grotesque. mom says for the surgery they'll probably give me liquid valium to kill the body while preserving some semblance of the's into the clean, clean buzz of the hospital pharmacopia... how about another gross picture? my xrays looked a lot like this actually. im not allowed to eat or wear deoderant till after surgery is over. kel got me a cool book to read. then again, i just finished a cool book of hers about a woman flying planes and training racehorses in africa in the 20s and 30s. THEYRE ABOUT TO CUT OPEN MY ARM AND NAIL MY SHATTERED BONES TOGETHER WITH A STEEL PLATE. i may have GIANT NEEDLES STICKING OUT OF MY ARM FOR 6 WEEKS though that doesnt seem very likely. get psyched: the healing will soon begin.
thats just the way it seems to me at [8:58 AM]

[ Tuesday, September 17, 2002 ]


my inlaws are partly polish in ancestry, and they have some old-world traditions that range from the morbid and moribund, to the cool and fun. the $ dance is cool and fun. at weddings, upon the loud and masochistically repetitive sound of a particularly cheerful polka, the bride is brought out and the fembot of honor sells off dances with her. the bride wears a hankerchief ovewr her head and everybody - menfolks and womens alike - lines up for a short dance. you toss money - a bill folded small - into a bubushke that the honor guard is carrying, and then you get a few moments to dance as hard and wild as you can with the bride. people show off with the cossack kicks and disco boogie and all that. (dont forgrt, we're all sooper white too.) after your dance, you join hands and continue to dance around the bride, slowly building up into an impenetrable gauntlet. after the last paid dance, the groom has to force his way in to rescue his bride.

one of kel's sisters married a special forces guy - tall, wiry, capable, extremely tough and confident. several of his army buddies came to the wedding, all pretty tough themselves. The captain also attended. he was a kinda little guy, quick features, not a lot of hair. i was next to him after the paid dances and he was dancing around cheerfully (he'd already scored his dance floor smash with a raunchy dirty dance with his very very lovely wife). i asked if he knew about what happened next; he didn't so i told him. He grew about 18 inches taller, seized me to his side with an iron grip, and created of himself a bulwark. he singlehandedly stopped pj at least three times, from anywhere and everywhere in the ring. it showed me how he'd earned pj's respect.

at a recent inlaw wedding, a family friend taught me that you should tie very tight knots in the money. dont just crumple it - roll it into a rope, start a square knot, and then soak it in water to get a really tight knot when you cinch it down. brutal. its so the bride and groom have something to do on their honeymoon.
thats just the way it seems to me at [6:06 PM]

[ Sunday, September 15, 2002 ]

so the simple lesson here is that i shouldn't shoot my fool mouth off.

brian and jon (two dear friends and former housemates; i've known them both for nearly 20 years) drove up to take a nice mellow bike ride with kel and me yesterday. we were on the path, just getting to the GG bridge, under which bikes have to pass from the crowded east tourist/pedestrian side to the quiet west side, reserved for bikes. You cruise down a short, gentle hill, around a hairpin turn, and then under the span and back up the other side. Another path hooks up just east of the bridge after the sharp turn, and things can get pretty crowded - the path's only about 5' wide. maybe that's why the bridge authority recently installed barriers, plastic cylinders about 3' tall, maybe 10 of them in a row - in the center of the path, theoretically to keep traffic on its respective sides. As i approached this zone, there were slow and distracted pedestrians on the right and quick bikers on the left. trying to split the difference, i found myself on a collision course with the first cylinder. i slowed as much as i could, then had to hit the brakes hard. i was going, by jon's estimate, about 5 mph when i locked my front disc brake. you can see it, can't you - the back tire lifting away from the pavement, my hands releasing the brakes and extending in front of me, the bike still tied to my shimano-clad feet...

i think i landed primarily on my chest, which thankfully i'd been building up with much exercise lately. got my wind knocked out and tore some holes in a favorite t-shirt. i hit the ground hard - kel said it was like i'd been picked up and hurled down face first. The visor to my helmet snapped off. i dragged my left elbow and both knees, resulting in moderate road rash. Afterwards, i lay on my side, wondering about the extent of the damage. My friends were on the scene instantly, as was a very professional italian biking team in town for a major race the next day, all riding top-of-the-line road bikes and wearing matching zebra-stripe body suits. i was glad my friends were concerned but when a bunch of jaded eurostuds took my fall seriously i knew i'd hit the big time.

jon went to get a cop (the bridge is crawling with them these days) and the italians slowly extricated me from my GT hardtail. i started the familiar testing process: both ankles fine, both knees working, hips ok, back and neck unaffected, left shoulder elbow wrist checked out... right shoulder ok, ditto the elbow, but when i went to bend my right wrist it looked funny and i could feel chunks of bone floating around like ice in a highball. i told my friends that it was broken but that was superfluous - a big lump was sticking out where no lump had stuck previously. i started going shocky (vagal response, technically) and laid down till the ambulence arrived.

Four cops and four paramedics worked together to splint me and get me in the transport; my injury was pretty gross though not bloody and the cops were trying not to look at it. all i knew about italian bike teams was from the movie Breaking Away, where they were total assholes; i was so happy to have these guys' kind and solicitous assistance i wanted to thank them and wish them good luck in tomorrow's (today's) race but since i don't speak italian and they barely spoke english i tried french; i knew enough to say merci but screwed up 'bonne chance' - i was pretty shocky and wished them 'bon marche'' - 'department store.' i hope they figured it out later cuz i was heading into the cool red truck.

in the ambulence my bp went from 90/60 to 70/60 - that meant no drugs yet, and a big #14 needle for my ringer's iv. Jon rode with us to ucsf emergency, where kel and brian soon caught up with us. no one told me, 'its not so bad' or 'that's got to sting...'- the staff were friendly and helpful and uniformly shocked at the huge deformity in my wrist. i eventually got 5 ccs of morphiene - three times - plus three lidocaine injections right into the broken bone and a bunch of synthetic morpheine that was supposed to be really strong. my wrist was in bad pain. Staff used words to describe the injury like 'ugly' and 'nasty' and 'very serious.' i was awake when it was reset - they call it 'reduced' - first they hung my fingers from metal traps to stretch out the spasming muscles, assisted with 20 lbs of weight hanging off my elbow; then the lidocaine (it burns like sterno going in), and then some vigorous pulling and twisting to get the bones back about where they belonged. A new set of xrays showed the job wasn't quite done yet so i got to endure it all again.

i'm now scheduled for surgery tomorrow to have pins inserted into the shattered fragments of my radius (i'd won a bet with someone that i'd broken that bone- don't recall who now...). they say i'll be in a cast for 8 weeks - naturally on my dominant side. So i'll be very limited in my ability to help around the house, to walk the big bouncy dog, to zip my pants, to write and to type. i've done all of this typing with just my left hand, as i recently intimated i was able. okay, i can do it, but its' very slow and frustrating. i'll be missing services tonight and tomorrow as well, but at least i'm invited to dave-n-kim's to watch the sopranos. this is going to be uncomfortable for a long time, and inconvenient for even longer.

so, sorry if my output here drops off - i'm going to have to do less writing and more resting. starting now. send yer love - and demerol...
thats just the way it seems to me at [3:18 PM]

[ Saturday, September 14, 2002 ]

Services last week were at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley, because my guys didn' t have room for everybody at their own place. I wore white - an man's shirt from india that drapes to my knees, with glossy embroidering around my pectoral region, white chinese mourner's shoes (the only time in the year these are not too dorky to wear, even at home), and a bright red cap with rhinestones and mirrors embroidered all over it. And it wasn't like I really stood out from the crowd. The facility was a very cleanly designed traditional protestant church with minimal ornamentation and nice stained glass windows that de-emphasized the "he died for your sins" angle. The enormous cross was hidden behinde draped silks, and sensual oriental carpets covered the pulpit. A band of musicians set up keyboards, electric and acoustic bass and guitars, mandolins, dobros, little skinny balilaika-sounding things, clarinets, drums from three continents, a wall of holy sound. Plus meditation chimes and a whole rack of shofars. When it came time to sound the shofar, a crowd of people stepped forward and a bunch more just pulled the twisted horns from their knapsacks and the sound was everywhere - it really got under my skin, it echoed for days, an ancient sound itself an echo of battle cries and stone-age wanderings. When so many shofars are blown at once, the air becomes rich with a marrowy smell, musty and biological, human breath and animal bone filling my nostrils. It was a powerful compliment to the blasting of the horns.

During the service Avram had a "redeemed" torah, brought back and rededicated from Nazi stockpiles of captured degenerate cultural artifacts, passed around from hand to hand throughout the congregation. It felt indescribably old, thousands of years old, older than anything. It felt like an ancient baby, full of promise, but incapable of even dressing itself. We were instructed to take a moment and "shnuggle" it, smell it, feel it's weight in our arms. I helped an older guy in a wheelchair receive it, and took it back from him when it was my turn. Our eyes met, both moist with tears. During this time, Avram mentioned that, in the camps, when there was no torah, blessings for the reading of torah were said, instead, over the head of a young child. That really got to me.

A little later, I noticed a card in the box on the back of the pew in front of me, with the history of the church where we were davening. It had been built in 1882, reconstructed in 1922, bla bla bla - but I was struck by a note that, in 1942, that lovely and holy space had been used as an interim holding location for japanese-americans on their way to internment camps. I looked around, at walls that I suddenly realized had been prison walls, at lovely stained glass that must have been cruelly ironic for those who could not walk the cozy streets they could see, spectacularly miscolored, outside. There seemed to be no lingering taint of bigotry and hatred in that space that morning. It was what we were doing with that space that created the spirituality. I'm working now on making the spaces I occupy less of a temporary internment center and more wholesome. Unfortunately, that requires me to reconstruct things from inside myself. We'll see how Yom Kippur pans out.
thats just the way it seems to me at [10:51 AM]

So I'm still chewing on the stuff I learned last week. "Go with the holy frustration." "It is easier to go far than to go deep." "Life is not intended to be a caravan of despair." These are little allenwrenches of thought for me, perhaps crude, certainly simple, but capable of leveraging a lot of psychic energy and linking up the pieces of my life that, over time, get loose and separated from each other. But without the hardware, the pieces will eventually fall apart and be so much less than the sum of their parts.

My current practice is to deny myself the pleasure of badmouthing ANYBODY when I'm behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. I'm snotty and self-centered enough as it is, but when it's combined with several thousand pounds of metal and fueled with volitile hydrocarbons, it's not good for anybody. Especially not me. Eventually I hope to carry this discipline out of the vehicle and into, say, the coffee house or, heaven forbid, my own home. One step at a time - go deep, then far...
thats just the way it seems to me at [9:41 AM]

Open question:
Would you rather be the Ambassador of Love, or the King of Funk? (adjust gender as preferred)
thats just the way it seems to me at [9:35 AM]

As a general rule, I prefer the role of instigator to conspirator. I like to get things started and see where other people take them. Maybe it's a copout but I'm more comfortable that way. But lately I've been thrust into the role of participant - bringing someone else's plans to life. And it's not so bad to be involved in shaping outcomes, instead of just flinging gauntlets and firing starting pistols. Though now that I think of it, a starting pistol might be a fun thing to keep handy...
thats just the way it seems to me at [9:22 AM]

[ Thursday, September 12, 2002 ]

I've never been good at choosing. Sometimes I have to pick the first thing that strikes my fancy and leave all the other options unconsidered. Sometimes I prioritize, with criteria and ratings and rankings. Sometimes I dither. Sometimes I try to choose both of two contrary and mutually exclusive optionsand try to foce them to co-exist. This is a recipe for disaster - more likely than not to wind me up with nothing or less.

My new strategy has been active deferral - to look at the options, calmly and non-judgmentally, letting my passions and preferences ebb and swell organically. After a while, circumstances sometimes develop that point me to the right decision. Except sometimes it's the wrong decision. I have to learn now to recognize choices that have correct answers built right in, and to develop the discipline to make that choice reflexively, not burdening myself with unattainable goals or seductive pleasures that carry dire consequences. The recognition must come first. The discipline to act wisely - I hope that comes eventually. Were I to be able to recognize the wise choices, but unable to choose wisely - I could not long respect myself.
thats just the way it seems to me at [6:15 PM]

it was easy enough at the outset - it didn't even seem like i was doing anything. i looked aloft and rambled, expounded, chatted, breathed... it came so naturally i should have known something was amiss. by the time i noticed what was happening, i had trouble seeing where i was. a persona had been superimposed on me which i found flattering; i wanted to give it life as if it were true. as easily done as said - that was my undoing. those easy words, that glib facility - when it came time to live up to them, i foundered. my persona was much more than i could hope to be. my upholstered phrases concealed snares and barbs, for which i was both bait and quarry.

eventually i had to be myself. gorgeous constructs collapsed around me, sowing disappointment and bitterness. in the end the words consumed themselves, and i was left with only punctuation, hiding in a semicolon, escaping on ellipsises....... broken letters stained my feet and teeth and i could but apologize in mime.
thats just the way it seems to me at [12:34 PM]

[ Wednesday, September 11, 2002 ]

I wrote this last year, in October. I think it still hold true for me.


When I woke up that morning
the air still had substance
I wandered the kitchen
assembling clues
then I heard an announcement
the radio said it
the words were impossible
it was as if I felt something extracted
yes like the naiveté I pawn off as innocence
but that’s a metaphor
What I experienced was nothing less than
the Death of the Air
and it all became hollow
the distance between things
invasively compromised
How could words reach me
I stood in a vacuum
The air they had filled
was now gaping and tenantless
shadows of substance
in stark shafts of suction
I felt their exertion
against my four humors
against my well-being
it pulled like a tide
to those tall hollow shadows
where once had been windows
that looked out on air
full of presence and light

I went in time to work again
in my Administrator’s costume
as if my shirt could make a difference
what tie I wore around my neck
now that the air is empty, Empty
On the bus a different silence
Everybody apprehensive
I try to breath the air is hollow
muted echoes all remaining
of the cheerful din of day
The air is still, but not serene –
co-opted, overbearing, stolen
All domestic flights were cancelled
thirty centuries of miles
vacant as a missing building
even the Blue Angels grounded
every year they’d buzz my duplex
I could see the cockpit rivets
close enough to throw a baseball
not as if I’d ever hit one
flying at the speed of anger
awesome chariots of fire
rending the air with their terrible power
they’d return like homesick swallows
but this year they’re flying elsewhere
sorties from Diego Garcia
they’re filling the air there
with rubble and panic

here it’s still hollow
a negative pregnant
I feel their absence
the sort of thing your ears don’t notice
till the void moans like a siren
in the disembodied ether
as Furious Everyone tries to make up
for the absence of breathable air by increasing
the number of words and the number of facts
that surround us at breakfast and join us for supper
We read it and hear it from every direction
the news and opinions that build on each other
accumulate slower than snow on a highway
they swirl in my headlights
and still I drive through them
because they lack substance

Dad said it was easier back in the 40s
when bombs ignominious last did their damage
But facts then were precious and still to be trusted
and there were so few you could almost keep up
and believe yourself able to take in the details
anyway sometimes you still could look elsewhere
the sound was unmuffled
and air tasted wholesome
because it was full
of the stuff dreams are made on
Now columns of air render dreams less substantial
it leaves me to wonder
what holds up the stars

thats just the way it seems to me at [2:57 PM]

- Haven't you gotten tired of that yet?
- Well, no - is it irritating you? I thought you liked it.
- I liked it at first.
- But now?
- Now, I mean, Jesus, it never stops. You don't take a break.
- Because I like it. We like it. Because it's good.
- I know it's good. But people need some variety in life.
- You mean you need some variety. I'm doing fine.
- If you think this is fine you aren't paying attention. This is one-dimensional thinking. It's evidence of an emotional handicap. You're gratifying one part of your brain and the rest of you is atrophying.
- Thats just not true. I'm a well-rounded individual. I just happen to like this right now and I get a lot out of it. Something new every time. And if you can't see that, that's your problem.
- I may have my share of problems, but accepting your compulsion isn't one of them. My big problem now is putting up with your childishness.
- Children don't do this. Don't be stupid.
- Children call each other "stupid," and they only think about themselves. The more you do this, the less you're in touch with other people - their feelings and interests and preferences. It's all about you and what you want.
- Well, if you're going to be like that, I want you to leave me alone so I can enjoy this.
- Is that really what you want? Because it can happen.
- Just give me a couple of minutes, okay?
- I'll give you a lifetime. But you have to tell me if it's a lifetime with me or a lifetime on your own that you want.
thats just the way it seems to me at [8:09 AM]

A parable from Avram:

Two people are watching two wolves fighting. One wolf was full of anger and violence; the other was gentle and compassionate. One person asks, "which wolf will survive?" The other person answers, "The one I feed."
thats just the way it seems to me at [8:01 AM]

[ Tuesday, September 10, 2002 ]

...and may I find the strength to do what I promise
and the compassion to let others fail and still love them
thats just the way it seems to me at [7:53 AM]

i'm not hiding
i'm transparent
bleeding colors through my skin
smell like weather
taste like water
nothing for you to take in
holding both
my arms before me
run my fingers through your hair
watch you walk
right through my body
like I wasn't even there
nightclothes draped
across the bedstead
tangled in a skien of dreams
sleeping naked
eyes wide open
anyhow that's how it seems
I miss the flavor
of your coffee
miss the things you need not say
smell your pillow
make a wish
might as well call it a day
thats just the way it seems to me at [7:52 AM]

Hello from Angel City, where I'm gearing up to check out of my hotel in 15 minutes to have a deadly Pantry breakfast and do some hardass bargaining. My favorite radio station IN THE WORLD seems to have merged with a few others and changed its name from KLON to KJZZ, and there is a huge fire near Azusa that seems to have been caused by candles from an animal sacrifice rital. In other words, no real news to report. Can't wait to get home.
thats just the way it seems to me at [7:46 AM]

[ Sunday, September 08, 2002 ]

Heading back to LA for two more days of fun under the neon... working for the rights of the masses... see y'all soon...
thats just the way it seems to me at [9:33 PM]

it was just for a moment
while I was adjusting the straps
that confine me
while I was attending
to the myriad details
that are reality
scatter my thinking
my eyes had swept past you
and registered yours
just a moment too late
we had looked through each other
your eyes were attentive
solicitous gentle
I'd just kept on moving
my head everturning
the image was seared
like a burn that you feel
just moments too late
once the damage is done
though the flame is extinguished
I tried standing straighter
and calming my person
and shifting my eyes
back to where they belonged
but the moment was over
you were looking out
of a window all fogged
with your breath and your face
was reflecting against it
with warmth you'd once shared with me
I was distracted
and then it was over
the warmth was still with me
long after you left
I wanted to know
what you thought while you watched me
I need to get focused
on seeing what happens
I'm missing the good stuff
but finally noticing
next time maybe
you'll see me second
I'll see you first
and we can both see
what happens next
thats just the way it seems to me at [8:55 PM]

The move from a position of faith to one of doubt is the first step in the evolution of a participatory consciousness.
thats just the way it seems to me at [8:42 PM]

The funny thing is, sometimes I actually get pretty spiritual. This time of year is one of those times. I've been trying to get a little deeper in preparation for the HH days - which for me mean four solid doses of communal chanting, spine-tingling music, powerful imagery and sublimely good vibes. It's pretty "berkeley," but I've seen this stuff done so many different ways and these guys really tap in to something powerful.

Here's how seriously I take it: this year it's making me miss both Happy Hour (itself a considerable tonic for the soul) and the final season premiere of the Sopranos, which has a special communal place in my heart also.

So what do I get out of it? I guess that's up to me, but at least I'm giving myself the opportunity to find something. Here's the first thing that I want to remember: when we walked in, they asked us to take a small grey card from one basket and a small white card from another. Mine said Balance (grey) and Persistence (white). A few minutes into the service Avram said, "We had you take cards when you came in. We haven't done this before but someone told us about it and we liked it. One card is your blessing - the thing that will be with you, supporting you all this coming year. The other is your challenge - what you need to work toward, the goal you will have reached next time this happens. However, which one is which is up to you." Kel got "Skepticism" and "Skepticism." My goose is cooked.
thats just the way it seems to me at [9:37 AM]

A couple weeks ago I was sitting around with some friends when someone needed a pipecleaner. I reached into my sack and pulled out a packet of B.J. Longs that I'd bought on a whim six months earlier. I'd barely touched them, they'd lain not forgotten but unused all this time. I handed one over and put the rest of the bundle on the plank table, fuzzy orange-flecked spines rolled tight in a plain paper wrapper. I don't remember who went for them first, or what was the first thing they made. I remember speck made a verb quite early on - present imperative: "do". Later there were sentences, animals, spirals and a general haze. Megan cut her finger on the stiff orange scraperbristles - she pinched her finger for me, showed me her blood, sucked it clean and delicately sipped her Stella before returning to her pipecleaner. I couldn't help but notice that all this creativity was being unleased by something I'd bought, I'd brought, but that I'd totally ignored; what else was I carrying that I wasn't using? At one point g.b. and I were talking about one of the animals and one of the spirals, and I seemed to remember something about pig parts. This was still pretty early in the evening, actually...
thats just the way it seems to me at [9:18 AM]

[ Friday, September 06, 2002 ]

Mr 420 has a good point to make and my LAMEASS commenting system has interfered with it being made. That being said, My%20thoughts%20on%20reality%20tv">THIS is the point in question. I agree in general; the only thing I'd mention is that Amazing Race actually featured a lot of really ordinary people who have preexisting relationships with each other. A gay couple, two women in late middle age, a couple of verifiable nerdgeeks - you even got to see a separated couple finally bury the hatchet in each other's backs and then give up on the relationship. Plus, they go to interesting places and do cool stuff. I watched survivor for a few seasons because I learned how to manipulate people or make them love me - its basically a sociology lab from my perspective. But I've almost weaned myself from the unblinking eye of the cathode tube - not to say there aren't other unblinking eyes which continue to sustain my body and spirit...
thats just the way it seems to me at [12:55 PM]

I'll admit to a certain fascination with some reality tv. I am not overly excited about the upcoming season of Survivor but I do look forward to Amazing Race, which I think is coming soon... but the brits have made it even harder to respect oneself for watching this pabulum and even harder yet to stop watching it. Wanna see a cheezeball celeb showered with maggots? Now THAT'S entertainment!
thats just the way it seems to me at [12:15 PM]

A Chihuahua and a three-legged black cat.

I imagine alone.

A Camel light smolders in a faint stream of smoke.
A thin worn cotton T-shirt and a stomach knot.
The sweet taste of silken moisture a thought on my lips.

As I walk down main street,
any street,
soft ankles, pale
move before me
and I follow behind.

Sweat beads your upper lip
and moistens your hair.
Curves to mind bend
walk on broken steps
of asphalt cracks.
Each breath a blade of grass
encircles marbled oaks.

She looks good to me
She looks good
to me. She looks
good to me

The small round bumps reminded me of a rash, or maybe a less serious thing like razor burn. I questioned why it was so important that we leave the bar to discuss the matter in the parking lot. The pole lights overhead reflected on the various metals and chromes. She looked at me with shadowed eyes so I noticed that uber-sentimental gleam, and asked if I would ever consider…then trailed off. She took out a pack of Marlboro menthol lights and extracted the third from the right in the back row. She offered me one, and even though I despise that particular type of cigarette, I thought this seemed an appropriate time to fill a few moments with a lil nicotine and tar. She removed the third cigarette from the back row and handed it to me.

A soft glance from blue gleam eyes
looks away, and comes back.

Keep coming back.

A quiet smile grows at the corners,
the deliberate gaze
confident and patient.

I imagine the soft touch of breasts against my chest
and notice nipples through shirt.
your shaven feel ,
or if manicured, design.
The sight of pointed thigh angles
and light belly hair.

We sat next on the hood of my 87 jeep Cherokee and smoked. It was silent for a while, but I felt the vague wandering of an elbow testing my willingness to share a touch. I knew it would only cause trouble if I would foster her interest, and while I knew she would be a project that would probably leave me exhausted and disinterested, I leaned just slightly, dropping an elbow towards her. She had this beautiful red hair that billowed out over a white scarf she had tied around her head. Loose ringlets spilled down the sides of her head and rested softly about her shoulders, chest, and back. I took a measured moment as soon as she had attracted my attention, to see if her eyebrows were indeed red as well. There’s something particularly interesting about a girl with red or blonde hair whose carpet matches the curtains. As I was pondering this very fact, I inhaled deeply on my Marlboro in an exaggerated effort strictly for her benefit. I let the smoke trail slowly out my nostrils and tried to give the impression of being a very stoic individual deep in thought about something quite serious and/or intriguing. I knew my features, as did hers, held the shadows well and gave these moments a dramatic effect.

So you said heaven
is apple blossoms
a spring breeze
or carrots with hummous
and thin grey T-shirts.

The dawn that rises over mountain
and the blue of ether,
no softer than her voice.

Your chin shows confidence
breasts breed desire
and you know it.

She looks good to me
She looks good
To me. She looks
good to me

She reached down and snuffed out her butt on my front bumper, sat up and looked me. As she spoke, she turned her head and said that the red bumps were nothing more than dry skin, and that being a red head with such fair skin living in Colorado with it’s dry air, she had to be diligent about moisturizing. She had been in hurry shaving this morning and didn’t have enough time to properly moisturize. She then turned toward me and I put out my cigarette. She stared deep into my eyes and I into hers. I couldn’t help but notice the perfect line of her nose and her lips that had subtle boundaries and seemed only a few shades different than her skin. My chest tightened and my mouth went dry as she began leaning closer in the night. I had numerous thoughts and none at all, and then I noticed the sparkle in her eyes wasn’t the moon, it was the parking lot lights.

Would you, behind glass eyes
make the trip to soft sheets
not of satin, but my simple cotton,
and if I hold you, will I not tire of your touch,
will I not follow those ankles anymore?

-- my cuz Dut at the buddhist poetry school wrote this and sent it along. I think it rocks. It's good to have people in your family who produce ideas and images and feelings like this...

thats just the way it seems to me at [11:53 AM]

[ Thursday, September 05, 2002 ]

I got a toy over the holidays that brought me much gratification - geek gratification, the deep personal joy that the overly-cerebral get from logic games and encyclopedias. It's a Galileo thermometer, so colorful and scientific and practical... the little globes bobble and float around, refracting light and casting lovely shades on the countertop... but the thing I loved about it most was that it was a slave to physics, that it would always do what it was supposed to do, no moving parts that could break (unless I dropped it), nothing to come off track or off line. It was a perfect little machine, designed to reflect the conditions surrounding it reflexively. So now it's wrong. All the time. I'm sweltering and the tube says "68 degrees." I wake up and stagger to the darkness of the kitchen, my breath clouding in the frigid predawn air, my feet nearly freezing to the linoleum, and it says "84 degrees." It's laughing at me. How can this happen? Everything is sealed! It's not like I care what temperature it is, I just liked that it worked, cleanly and neatly, governed by the same physical laws that make the world work, that keep the moon in the sky, and now it's gone haywire. Does this mean I don't have to obey the laws of physics either? Because if that's true there are a few things I'd really like to accomplish...
thats just the way it seems to me at [6:32 PM]

Don't drop acid.
Take it pass-fail.
thats just the way it seems to me at [6:11 PM]

I think of myself as an honest person but I find myself constantly tempted to lie about things. I think that the truth needs to be distributed intelligently. Reality is too much for some people; fantasy is too much for others. I may not be qualified to decide who gets to hear what, but the choice is mine regardless.
thats just the way it seems to me at [10:34 AM]

[ Wednesday, September 04, 2002 ]

Overwhelmed by futility, he walked purposelessly into the narrow street. Others perceived his torpor and formed a protective sheath around him. They didn't want him getting any ideas from anybody - there weren't enough to go around as it was. He wondered what ideas felt like, how purpose worked. The people on the street crowded around him, holding blank sheets of cardboard up in front of their brains. He couldn't see through them. He had no idea. He sat on the bench and tried to give up. His hand fell open beside him and eventually a beetle crawled onto it. He watched the tiny animal's feelers swaying in the breeze. He held it up in front of his face to get a better view. It flew away. He sighed - unable even to give up, that tiny theoretical defeat beyond his comprehension. He stood and removed his clothes. The sun felt good on his back. They carted him away for indecent exposure and cogitating without a license. In jail he got to read the cinderblocks. When they let him out he wasn't interested anymore.
thats just the way it seems to me at [6:04 PM]

the search for lost things is hindered by routine habits. G.G.Marquez
thats just the way it seems to me at [5:34 PM]

being smart and thinking are two different things
thats just the way it seems to me at [5:33 PM]

[ Tuesday, September 03, 2002 ]

what could be more seductive than a hatred you love?
thats just the way it seems to me at [7:39 AM]

the chair... the freaking chair... where is the chair...
We checked with our marketers and they advised us that the person who told us a big ol' rocker could be delivered from Freeport Maine to San Francisco (US) in 5 business days was smoking crack. It would be another fortnight before we had our five-inch thick leather-n-foam cushions, our mortise-n-tenon construction, our wide-n-flat armrests for stable beer maintenance... so we got the first woman back on the line and asked her, "why did you say this would only take a week?"
"Thank you for calling. How can I help you?"
"You can deliver my chair on time, you freaking incompetent!"
"Certainly, sir - what size?"
"Are you listening to me? I'm going to come over there and rip that chair out of your puckered old rump!"
"Great! What catalogue number are you using?"
"Has your inseam measurement changed since Y2K?"
"Hang on a minute..." - that's when I put the phone down on the desk, got my carving kit from the top cabinet, took a top secret stealth transport to Boston, then a train to Lewiston, and a bus to Freeport, so that I could speak to her in person. The knives were gleaming and hungry. But she was on break and I got bored so I went back home to wait. The knives, they are bitter... like my heart...
thats just the way it seems to me at [7:36 AM]

At the wedding on Saturday I sat with a dude somewhat older than myself, and got around to asking him what he does. He's a disaster mitigation dude for FEMA, and works the Pacific a good bit. He described visiting Johnson Atoll, about 4000 miles from California and 8000 miles from Japan, a cheerful wad of volcanic remnant now used by the US military for decommissioning chemical weapons. Since it's about 8 inches above water at the high point and about 40 feet wide in a lot of places, FEMA needs to be able to move people and the toxic crap they make and use out of the way once the oceans rise high enough. When his puddlejumper airplane landed, he said that an APC pulled alongside, inches from the ocean, and trained its 50 calibre roof-mounted machine gun on his U.S. government plane. The gun was on his plane or the passengers from the moment they landed until they got off the ground again. He was there to try to save lives and protect the ocean. They just didn't want him stealing any serin. Later that evening we were forced to dance to disco music but at least the beer was plentiful and tasty...
thats just the way it seems to me at [7:17 AM]

damn... that was one carnal weekend. I don't eat the meat that often, not out of a moral or political disagreement, it just doesn't make it into my head too frequently that I want to consume flesh as a meal... but this past weekend was filled with protein delites and meaty treaties. It's especially noteworthy that Dr. Andy (et famille) had us over for supper and made us grilled veggies fresh from his garden, a polish cucumber salad (that's like from Poland, not like rubbing something to make it shiny), and a breathtaking tomato assortment; then he made pasta carbonara with loads of crunchy bacon and a grilled chicken breast on the side, and the killer is that he delicately deposited a raw egg yolk into the center of our bowls of pasta just before we dug in - like butter but less fattening, he assured us... then there was the cobbler and ice cream... at the end of the evening we were sitting in the 7' tall barrel hot tub in his back yard high in the Berkeley hills, watching the color drain from the sky and listening to Joe Pass recorded live at Yoshi's in 1990, letting the fats and cholesterols filter through our deeply relaxed persons... at times like these, you just know that things don't get much better... and you wonder a little how you wound up there but that part of your brain has been sufficiently narcotized that it can't bother you much...
thats just the way it seems to me at [7:04 AM]

[ Monday, September 02, 2002 ]

and let us not forget to make special mention of the unexcelled wonderfullness of Ms Helen Jane, who comforted us with cool water and warm friendship when the sun beat cruelly upon us and the korean festival was ramping up... I will be back, you can be sure, to sample all your fine wares, but I just couldn't eat a weiner so soon after all those pancakes I scarfed for breakfast...
thats just the way it seems to me at [10:02 PM]

I see them at the boards
precarous on stolen milkcrates
hunkered down on plastic buckets
children feigning drowning upwards
but the players' eyes don't blink
they're watching every piece before them
remembering the way it started
seeing ten moves in the future
fingers grimy as a busstop
plastic pawns and rooks and mules
roughened by unnumbered thrashings
sweat and hunger their patina
but the players do not see this
they are looking past the pieces
thinking on the logic of it
where the dirt can find no purchase
on abstracted things of theory
fill the mind with cleansing purpose
each according to its function
all aligned in the fulfillment
of a plan that cannot fail
reaching out beyond the confines
of the tattered manichean
boards that shudder in the traffic
furtive money changing hands
a torch against a glassy tube
I nearly smell them with my eyes
but they don't bother with the odor
they are living in those chessboards
maybe it's a game to you
to them it seems the only place
where they can live in cleanliness
controlling what the future brings
and even when they lose the game
there is a victory in that
thats just the way it seems to me at [9:56 PM]

I think she said her name was Athena. She sat down and introduced herself, friendly and buxom and tanned, and she told us she was freaked out - on account of her boyfriend, who'd just gone into General - he had shaved his armpits and used new antiperspirant and got a zit - it grew and worsened until it was a festering carbuncle - finally it burst, but inside his armpit, spilling poisons all through his system; he turned red and swelled up, was incapacitated - she took him to the hospital and they thought he had the plague or something -

her brother-in-law showed up about then, asked what we were talking about - I answered "boils" - he said cool, his wife was into cutting her arms with razors - always horizontal, for the appearance of it, she had lots of scars, he wasn't into telling her how to behave, he's cool like that, his smile was cold; I'd met him earlier that night in the men's room, he'd been checking my equipment, very thoroughly I thought, and then he struck up a little conversation, there at the adjacent wall-mounts, how are you (big smile), I'm fine, That's great (big smile, wink?), I was not in a chatty mood, I felt his eyes play over me, and now he stood here talking to me, told me this was his wife's sister, they exchanged a knowing glance, he retreated up the stairs but fell halfway - he made a depricating jibe and went on in - I left not long after that, it felt like I had had enough...
thats just the way it seems to me at [9:44 PM]

[ Sunday, September 01, 2002 ]

my sack is snowy
with the ashes of cigarettes
that other people smoke
while I watch
my jacket is perfumed
with their fragrant exhalations
and I wonder how I got away
without a cigarette myself
thats just the way it seems to me at [1:09 PM]