Friday, December 16, 2005

Eves and Cusps

I lost my accent in the gutter of an alleyway in Germany, a town called Hof, which literally or otherwise means 'place'. I couldn't find it again, though I hadn't more than a moment to look for it before the punk rockers, pink hair dyed neon golden in the moonlight, dragged me across the tracks and into a wine seller forgotten by most--and most of them constituents of the dungeon-esque bar. We listened to Van Morrison and Alman Brothers and Zep; and it seemed that none of us understood more than a mouthful, which generally seemed to be more full of wine than understanding. Arm-in-arm, singing "Sweet Home Alabama", the lights played tricks, simple slights of hand; and staggering through streets unknown to me, I found my way back to the train station thinking an accent a terrible thing to lose.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

обо мне

I talk to myself when I feel awkward. I say the things that I want to say to the people involved (past or present) in my life, and then I feel more awkward as I remind myself that only I can hear my voice.

I've stepped foot on three continents. I've walked in the cities of ten countries. I've seen most of the fifty states. San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, New Orleans, Orlando, D.C., New York, Vancouver, Atlanta, Montreal, Quebec, London, Babylon, Geneva, Berlin, Munchen, Koln, Baghdad and Ur are familiar to me. I've met a thousand faces. I've forgotten most of them. I've climbed mountains, weathered storms inside flimsy tents and the cold, hard ground in German winters. I've been to war. I watched men die. I've won a marathon, written a book and seen it published, sailed a boat, taught myself to program, ridden a rollercoaster, fished, hiked, drank, driven, sung a song to a pretty girl, lit a fire, fired a gun, dreamed, crashed, converted, regressed, loved and loved and loved and failed.

I failed to finish a novel. I failed to keep all my promises. I failed to be always honest. I failed to finish what I set out to do. I failed to show up on time, to remain always faithful, to keep my integrity, to pray, to listen, to answer, to forgive, to help when I was able. I take copious amounts of psychotropic medication in the attempt to achieve normality.

I've learned to like every cuisine on the planet. I've learned to love the environment. I've learned to distrust most of what I hear. I learned to cook, to clean, to write, to ignore, to trust, to nurture things living and dead. I can do anything I put my mind to. Most of these things I don't do well. I'm extremely attractive. Fantastic in bed. I kiss well. I have great taste in music, better taste in films. I'm moderately well read. I'm physically fit, or I used to be. I have a great sense of humor. I tell stories, and I tell them well. I have depth.

It's all true. Every word of it.

None of it has anything to do with who I am.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Great Tidings

It is, I think, significant that certain days stand out in memory and beckon for our attention and reflection. We purpose them, plan them and then, counter intuitively, allow our plans to unfold, acknowledging in so many words that plans are (very routinely) lists of things that do not happen. And these plans and the reality that follows them quickly become the stuff of myth and legend. The thanksgiving dinner, when the daughter of your second cousin turned the heat up on the stove and browned, blackened and burnt the Bird beyond recognition as the until-that-moment-quiet nephew began to pour gravy into the sweet potatoes, quietly begs to be recounted over Thanksgivings present and future. The road trips to homes of friends and family, which began in earnest and ended in cheap motel rooms, sadly picking away at KFC drumsticks as we imagined that heroic bird, great and glistening, laid to final rest upon the dinner table to be drawn and quartered before the family, still await us through unsuspecting short cuts and diversions. These days we set aside to celebrate human virtues (gratefulness, giving, sacrifice, honor) become and remain so (in the heart and mind of this reporter) only by the effort we exert to honor the values for which they stand. In that spirit, I would like to share my thanks for those that have stood by me, beaten me when I needed it, lifted me when I could not walk, encouraged me, laughed with me, shared time and money and shoulders. I am, in short, inexhaustibly grateful to you: my friends and family. I hope this Thanksgiving found you well, with full bellies and loosened belts and leftovers on speed dial. Nurse your bellies, all of you.


Monday, November 14, 2005


I must have some repressed self-loathing, because my brain unleashed a fury of W’s drivel in my dream last night. I wish I could remember more of it, but the only phrase that remains (and picture him with his usual…

--I wish I could describe this particular expression more concisely, but I can’t quite reduce it to those few and precise words that would normally form a well-crafted insult (and, in this case, purely objective observation). It’s that look when he leans forward on a podium, eyes staring hazily forward as his brain fumbles for any series of words that could comprise competent speech, almost as if he expects the audience to gaze at him with admiration as he stares down with non-comprehension, asphyxiating arrogance, and something between conceit and pert ignorance, that fills you with rage at the man; for not only is he an idiot, but he clearly has opposite delusions about the same fact. It’s more than the vacancy between his ear canals, though; it’s the utterly false assumptions that he seems to possess about his own character and the character of his audience. I could rant for pages on this frustrating flaw in his moral and intellectual fiber. When he announced his Harriet Myers appointment to the Supreme Court (if you saw this clip on the news, you’ll know exactly the look that I want to capture) he said, (I paraphrase), “The best idea I’ve heard in a long time is to appoint someone to the judicial seat who has never been a judge (or practiced real law).”

…back to the dream) clear is, (W’ concluding his speech), “…so I figured if I can’t win an argument, maybe I can win a war.”

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Peanut Butter and Sasquatch

So little has happened in the last 48 hours that I cannot use few enough words to describe it. Perhaps an ellipses will settle the matter.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I fought the giant lizard today

I knew going into that den of fear that my battle would not be one of fortunate ease. At first, he clung cleverly to the side of the refrigerator. A bold move. One I would not forget. I countered from the counter, swinging my spatula of justice toward his forbidable frame. "Check!" I cried. He bounded from the fridge to the wall to the floor to the ceiling to the door. Bolder still. "But I control the exits here, my friend. You cannot escape. You leave either dead or vanquished!" His eyes flitted to and fro. I hurled myself against the door, mighty weapon already weaving painful swirls of judgement down upon him; but he loosed a fearsome scowl and lept yet again into the dark crevasses of the couch.

A word on the couch. Many ancient evils lurk beneath the cushions we fear to turn. Surely, perhaps, goodness also dwells. The lost change, the keys, the condoms of utter necessity too wait for our humble eyes to light upon them--but at what cost? At what terrible cost! So it was that I turned bravely and humbly to the unturning of the sofa cushions. Slowly, at first, to keep my prey on edge--then faster as the scent of the hunt came more fully into my nostrills. Pillows flung into the air, lint and dust scattered to the winds of the awesome ceiling fan, and at last the outstretched, leathery claws of that viscous reptile as he hurled himself against me in one last futile attempt at freedom.

To rest I laid him upon the asphalt. Songs will yet be sung of the man incarnate thrice upon the form of lizard beneath the failing streetlight of our world.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Fellow Thebans

This winter has been especially harsh and long. With temperatures plummeting to record lows and heat expenditures on the rise, I find myself with my fellow citizens: pulling the wool blanket a little bit closer, holding the hot chocolate a little bit longer, and above all, staying indoors as much as possible.

A word on the medical discharge process from the Army: ‘discharge’ should not really be included in the name. Of course, the process is unique to each individual allowed to waltz in the medical ballroom of the military mansion, like a newborn baby—innocent, attractive and ultimately evil. You see other people carrying their babies and perhaps think to yourself, “How cute! How wonderful! I must have one.” And you try to conceive. Oh, almighty father and surrogate mother, how you try. Tests must be run, of course. They’re tests, after all—they can’t be expected to simply sit about sipping lemonade; they must be applied. You must be poked, prodded, nudged, waffled, squeezed, squirted, swamped, swilled and (above all) quizzed. Your blood pressure goes up to rooftop for a breath of fresh air. Your blood sugar decides to join her for a bit of late afternoon gossip. Your hair decides it would much rather grow out of your toes than your head. Your head fires your toes, who protest that they’re union and can’t be fired and decide to go on strike. Your fingers can’t decide whether to follow the toes or rebel against the head and allow themselves to just tremble ever so slightly. Your hair attempts to ascend back to the head, but the toes cry, “Scab!” and stop the hair at the legs. Finally, conception happens—but it’s one ugly baby.

So you look at the sonograms. Life floats in the ancestral womb. You ask the doctor for the birth date. He suggests that maybe some tests could answer that question. You lose five pounds off your knees, only to find it hiding in your shoulder blades. The shoulders begin smuggling weight in from Angola, and the border patrol captures a mere fraction of the cargo. You find yourself at war with France, and to the surprise of the global community, Switzerland actually suggests that perhaps the French are on to something. But, it could be worse; you could be working.

It’s come to that, you see. I meet people at the local polar bear club, and they ask, “So what do you do?”

“I’m an experiential architect. I note how the experience of architecture makes me feel.”

“I doodle. Professionally. I increase executive productivity by ghost-doodling for high ranking CEOs.”

Nothing fosters enmity with your fellow man as much as the truth. Never tell him, “I negotiate the transfer of tiny sums of money, fractions of a penny, back and forth between accounts to force accounts into an overdraft.”

The results are never good.

I must be off. I hope you all are well. Take care.

“Chances are you are scared of fictions. Chances are you are only fleetingly happy. Chances are you know much less than you think you do. Chances are you feel a little guilty. Chances are you want people to lie to you. Perhaps the answer lies on the side of a coffee cup. You are lost.”

The Way I See It # 23 by David Cross
-Found on the side of a Starbucks coffee cup