Monday, January 01, 2007

NAFALOMO and Writing And Running And The Currents That We Keep...


New Year's Day and I am thinking about my commitment to myself. Oh Lordy, why have I forsaken me?

Running shoes are now out of the box. The beer is gone. The bread and butter have my name with a red circle and a line drawn through at an angle as a reminder of what I said I was going to accomplish.

January is NAFALOMO. National Fat Losing Month. If one can write 50,000 cohesive words in a month, one can commit to losing pounds. That's the way I look at that. Join me, if you feel like you wanna jiggle less and be lighter on your feet...

As an outsider who used to rarely come indoors, being on the computer for larger lengths of time has had both a positive and a negative effect on me. I guess it all boils down to balance. How much is too much? How much is a good and positive endeavor? What role and void are we filling simultaneously both "out there" and "in here" in our own minds?

Is stacking words one after the other in sensical patterns a worthwhile pastime? Should I be out swinging a tennis racket against a practice wall and sweating instead?

I am grappling with these thoughts as I try to come up with new habituations that allow me to return to my lesser self, the one who took his shirt off without any self-conscious hesitation, the one that didn't form the habit of grabbing a handful with the thumb in the belly button and chuckling while shaking my own head.

When I was coming out of High School and attending to my very short-lived college experiece, "the knack" for stacking words in nice shapes and forms was noticed and commented upon by those who do such things.

"That's nice," was my rare thought in that regard. "Cool."

Computers and blogging and reading and sharing snippets both near and far, have drawn me out lexically (to bend a word to my liking) and it feels "easy".

Things that feel "easy" simply feel right, like a path is in front of you if you simply paddle softly the way it leads you.

Which is the way sports always was for me. Easy. Effortless. Fun without feeling like I was fighting any current.

So my babbling here about my here and now is just to serve notice that I enjoy writing stories, that I will continue to write stories, and that I may even work at trying to get good at writing stories, as long as it seems like a path worth the journey, and a sacrifice of time worth the sacrifice.

I saw an add for a story contest last summer. It said "Start a story with "Hell tempted me...""

I did. I was indeed tempted by the possibility of a new kind of hell, if one were to be a bit on the dramatic side. It was the first effort I made in twenty years down this little tributary I call my new woohoohoo...

It came out just alright. Nothing lofty and earth moving. But it was fun and it came "easy". Like my forehand and my diving to my left...

Here it is dragged back out of my archives. It sure could use some work...

Happy New Year all. Many happy creations...





----------------------AN EYE FOR IGOR----------------------


HELL TEMPTED ME about every third weekend. So did the bottle. So did a big breasted neighbor named Magdalene. That much, I admit to.

When it all came crashing down on me was the night my parrot said some things, and I listened, for the first time ever. He said, "You suck". He said, "Help me". He said, "mmmmm" like he had had a belly full.

Magdalene was the alien smell on my hands and genitals. She was the girl-next-door-to-the-brothel, like a discounted address. I didn't like Magdalene. In fact I hated her. In fact she hated me more than I hated her. And this is how we did it. It wasn't pretty and it was never sober, and this was just fine with us. I got the feeling she was heeling every Tom and Harry who had ever hurt her in her past, every time she spurred me on in our frenzied-hateful-love-making. "You", she would accuse me in tremolo. "Youuuuuuuuu." It was always a very long "U". Always longer than I could hold onto the guilt that she had built up inside me. "Youuuuuuuuuuu." She would breath and say it again and often. "Youuuuuuuuuuu!" She was like an alarm going off and a fire starting in a peach pit and a pair of big nippled accompaniments that jellied on a sternum freckled densely. Her legs would kick me in. "Youuuuuuuuuuuuu."
"Meeeeeeeeeeeeeee." I tried moaning.
She opened her eyes and really looked at me this time. The hatred there was unlike any hatred I had ever seen. I had pointed her out to herself and she did not like what she saw.
"You need to get the hell outta my life!"
"Now?"
"Finish. And then go!"
I did.
Two doors down and I don't think anyone saw me in the hall. A sigh upon closing myself in. A brief reflection in a broken mirror. A panting moment of silence.

Merlot had blackened my tongue and made my head feel like a rock n' roll fuzz box stuck in the 'on' mode under a mattress. I was staggering with the feeling that my pants were down, wrapped around my ankles, ready to trip me up if I took a step in the right direction. Perhaps they were.

My parrots' name was Igor, named after the "Young Frankenstein" movie, not the old one. An eye for an "Eye"gor. That was how that came to be. Igor himself (herself?-- how can one be sure?) came to be with me after a failed attempt at 'moving in' with a girl that I'll call Loo Loo-- because that is what she was. Loo Loo left me with her parrot and a phone bill and a couch, all of which I am still paying for in one way or another. She also left me with a fear of commitment. A fear of reprisals. And a fear of big kitchen knives.
"You suck" Igor reminded me.
"You suck" I told Igor.
"You suck" said Igor.
"You suck" I told Igor.
"You suck..."
And so it went for the twenty steps it took me to shuffle across the living room floor to the kitchen, where I had hoped to have found a lost beer but found nothing but a jar of pickles.
"Mmmmmm" said Igor.
"Help me." said a thirsty and disappointed me.
"You suck." said Igor, and I knew he had a point.

Perhaps in every lifetime there is a moment when you realize that there aren't any more bands holding the barrel together. You are sub-barrel-band. You have reached the cross-pieces of a badly constructed barrel. You are loose but bound. This is where the Merlot crystallizes like a thought as it ferments. This is where the oxidation battle is fought when the barrels are turned. This is where the last possible gasp of realization happens when the barrel is righted-- if you are still standing. I had the sudden urge just then to sit, and a valve 'piffed' in naugahyde as the wine's repercussions danced on top of me....
"Youuuuuuuuuuu" I said to noone in particular. "Youuuuuuuuuu..."
"You suck" said Igor, and I could not argue with that logic.
"Mmmmmmmmmmm...." I said, as the puffy chair wrapped around me. "Tell it how it is, Igor..."

My pants 'were' down. This much was true. I had actually made the two-apartment trek home with my boxers agape and my belt buckle dragging across commercial carpet and powdered bug carrion. OK it was not that bad. I had the place cleaned twice a month. I had money for that and I paid for that. Mom suggested it, and I had thought it was a brilliant idea at the time and still do. Mom had a way of solving domestic problems brilliantly and without much fanfare. Arm and Hammer for the odors. Shoes off at the door. Washable comforters.

Mom. Oh lordy, not Mom at a time like this. Sorry Mom. It was all for naught. All those hours of labor and pain. Thirty two.... Thirty-two is a big number. I'm thirty two and Mom suffered sixteen hours to have and hold me and this is where I'm at? A spot on the ceiling and a fixation for finding it at times like these? Where IS that spot? Loo Loo popped a cork one night, and the thing left a mark like a crimson banana. I needed my crimson banana just about now, but I was having trouble getting the ceiling in focus. Shit. Now it's an eyebrow and it belongs to my Mom. Mom, don't pop your cork. I'll get it. I'll figure it all out. I've got the weekend.

The door banged open. It was a very angry Magdalene. "Here!" she screamed. She had something small in her palm and she was working on throwing it at me. I ducked and it covered a butterfly printed on my wallpaper like a soggy patch.
"You left this IN ME!" She slammed her way out and I realized I had still not pulled up my trousers (and that my guy was damp and soggy like the new patch on the wall).

I reached for the phone.
"You suck." said Igor.
"You suck." I said.
"You suck." said Igor.
"You suck." I said, as I finished dialing and waited for the ringing in my ears to stop.

"This is the office of Bradford Bishop. I am not in my office at the moment, but if you'll leave your name and number and a detailed message, I will be certain to get back to you at the earliest possible moment. Your business is important to me. Thank You."

I had called myself.
"Hi, me." I said. "Listen. Are you listening? I had this idea. You know that Medallion account? You know, the one that makes corn bread, or something? Well, I think we should use fruit in it. Like an orange for the sun. The banana for the moon. That sort of thing.... Tell me what you think when I get in on monday. This could work. I'm serious. It's all in my head right now."

That was a lie. It was only there in chunks and slices. But I 'wanted' it to be there, like it had been there for me before. I wanted a smorgasborg awaiting my sober arrival to work on monday. I wanted a brilliant feast. A cornucopia worthy of an extended vacation and a Christmas bonus. But what I gave myself, was table scraps for my parrot.
'You suck." said Igor.
'I KNOW!' I said, as I hung up the phone.

I leaned forward and pulled up my trousers. I really needed a beer.

It is a difficult task to retrieve a beer from the world when you are hitting the bottom and your apartment is at the top of a large, tall, apartment complex. Sure, the view up here is nice, but the beer is down there. And when you're at the bottom, the top seems a long way to be 'from', even if you are already 'there'. This is how and what I was thinking as I strapped my belt and buckle up over a freshly-tucked wrinkled shirt, and set out to search the bottom for a pick me up.
I prayed for Magdalene before I left. I prayed that she had gone home and passed out and left me to my senses. She had, but she hadn't got that far. She had made it to a spot she often slid down from standing to squatting to sitting with her hands over blackened eyes when she needed a good cry. This was near her door, but nearer our mutual neighbors' door. This guy sold cleaning supplies and got up early and didn't seem to mind if a big breasted woman wailed outside his door and I guess I didn't either.
I stepped over her and sort of leaned in the general direction of the elevator. I was walking normaI and I got there.. I pushed the button and the door immediately opened before me. I felt powerful all of a sudden. This didn't last. I couldn't remember the number of the bottom floor. This never happened to me before. Was it "1"? Or "B"? I pushed "2" and figured I'd walk from there. That way I couldn't miss it.

The stairs were a trip. And a fall. I hit floor number "1" with a bang and I wished it hadn't happened. When you are at the bottom, falling shouldn't hurt. I remember thinking that as I got up. As numb as I was, as low as I had gotten...it still hurt.

The basement "B" is where my car was, and floor number "1" led to the street, which led me to the curb beyond, which led me to another street which led me to a convenience store. I had never walked the distance myself, but had been assured by people who had that it wasn't far and it was a piece of cake. Cake, I thought. And beer. I shook off door "B" like a nervous contestant and opted, instead, for door number 1. My beer was just outside that door, and beyond a little bit. Perhaps I would bring home six of them?

I remembered when I was in college. In my dorm, I had put on a pair of fishing waders for a party. I thought it would be fun to wear them like a judge--naked underneath. Little did I know at the time, but judges wore mostly pants. I also didn't know what a bad idea it was to urinate in them on my way home from the party. I thought it sounded fun. The urine really stank, and it burned and chafed my legs as I walked. "Urine and rubber don't mix" I remember thinking as I contemplated what to do. A sprinkler cluster came on at that moment like a suggestion from heaven out on our athletic field near my dorm, and this solved everything. But there was a problem. In order to catch the water in my waders without dropping them to my knees (there were laws against campus nudity and lewdness and stuff) I had to be about eight feet from the epicenter. This meant that I had to wait for the sprinklers to go to their end, and come back around. When you're naked in a pair of waders full of urine and getting wet, you want things to happen faster than they do. I started running in circles with the water, around and around and back and around and back and around, chasing the cold spray as my waders filled with fresh, clean water.... I got dizzy and fell down and vomited.

This is how I felt once outside door number "1". But I was able to keep my insides inside and my outside looking relatively normal. As long as I held the pole and kept the blood out of my eyes. Blood? Shit. There was a lot of blood. It started someplace above my eyes and then ran past them. I had blood trying to drip off the tip of my nose. I had blood tickling my cheeks and I had blood on my hands... I hoped people wouldn't notice. I really needed a beer.

The phone rang. For a second, I thought I should answer it. Then I realized how silly that was. It was a payphone and I was 'bleeding', for christsakes. Let somebody else answer it. I needed a beer.

For some reason I decided to take a shortcut across the street. Well, it wasn't really a short cut, because the path led me straight into a bicycle rider carrying bread in a basket, and as he sort of flew ahead of me, I remember thinking "Wow. He flew ahead of me!" He landed too, though not as gracefully as he might have wanted, and his bread was scattered in a random pattern between where I was and where he landed. He said something in a foreign language that didn't sound as pleasant as I had hoped, and then he collected his bread back into his basket and hurried away not looking over his shoulder once. I thought that that was rude of him until I remembered the blood. Maybe I scared him? If I saw him again I would ask him. I remember thinking that.

I don't know if it was the blood, or if it was the way I staggered, or if it was the way people were staring at me and trying not to stare, but I started thinking about Magdalene and how much I hated her and enjoyed what we did every now and then. There was never any visible bruising and things usually ended great for both of us. I reminded myself never to use the "me" word again around her and was pleasantly surprised that I recalled the incident with a smile on my face afterall. Boys will be boys. And she did let me finish. And she almost always threw me out. So things were good between us.

Then I started to think about Igor and what he liked to say. "You suck." This hit me like a head wind and I leaned into it, pushing onward down past the ritzy MacBeth Hilton where the doormen eyed me as if to say "Not in this here direction, you ain't goin', boy" or something similar. I kept myself going by singing out of tune, and every now and then I would stop and hug a post or a pole to anchor my position in the world and start anew.

The convenience store was very convenient when I was in my car and on my way home. It was a simple turn of the wheel and a short wait at a light. Then another turn and a straight stretch followed by two short turns. Not a problem at all when you were sitting on leather and your shocks were new. I liked all the turns, actually. I really did. And when you got to the store, there was always some exotic looking guy or girl- -the girls I really noticed-- who had walked down from the ritzy MacBeth Hilton to buy smokes or magazines or a brown bagged bottle of any number of specialty liqueurs that these two Arab guys kept in a case behind the counter. The store was really uptown for being so downtown, to be sure. It didn't have the feel of a seven-eleven. I remember once thinking about calling it a seventy-seven, one-hundred-and-twenty-one, just for kicks. I remember thinking, too, that that was a pretty silly name for a convenience store, even one so well kept and stocked as this one was. Maybe it was the exotic clientel, after all? I thought about stuff like that, every time I bought beer here. I really did. I even told the guy at the cash register. He said his name was Mohammed--named after a prophet-- and that I should think about other things besides the name of his store. He said his store was simply a way to make money. To feed his family and take care of his mother. I remember he said a lot of things I don't remember and I didn't understand. He was just like that...

It was his brother who saw me come in. I called him "Ommmm" like the chant, but his name was Omar. I called him that because nothing riled him. He was as peaceful as a heated snake on a hot road and when he saw me he simply said, "Come with me." I was really anxious to get to the beer aisle, but Omar had me by my shirt front and was roughly helping me navigate the aisles toward the swinging door in the back. Now I've been around enough to know what goes on behind doors like these. There is a bathroom and they do recieving through a bigger door out the back. There are hand trucks and boxes stacked five feet high and the nicer stores have a compactor for cardboard. This was a convenience store but it was a nicer one, and so it had a compactor. He dragged me into the bathroom--which didn't have a mirror-- and began asking me questions....
"Who did this to you?" he asked.
"My parrot, partly, and a woman named Magdalene." I answered. "No. That's not right. There was a guy on a bike with alot of bread. It was all over the road. He ran me over, and he flew."
"He did this to you?"
"No. I fell down some stairs. I think I hit my head."
"You think? You are bleeding from a deep gash. You will require stitches. You look like you have come from a war."
"You think? I want to see that."
"There is nothing worth looking at about war. Believe me. And you don't need a mirror. You need a doctor."
"I need a beer. That's all I need. I just came for a beer. "
"If I give you a beer, will you take it home before you drink it?"
"I will."
"Will you call somebody to take you to a doctor?"
"I will."
"Will you let me put something on it before you go?"
"I will."
"You are very compliant. Will you write me a very big check?"
"I... don't have my checkbook... Hey... No... Youuuuuuuuuuuuuuu." I was pointing at him like I had something on him.
"Meeeeeeeeeee" he was mocking me. I was surprised. I think I got it for a change. I made a connection that I felt was going to be important later on. It made me uncomfortable.
"I've gotta go. What beer shall I take?"
"You may take one from the case. Bring it to the counter and I will put it in a bag for you. Then you will go straight home, yes?"
"Yes."
But that never happened. Oh I got the beer alright. Omar said I could pay him when I came back some other time, and I staggered out and popped the top off with my belt buckle, then leaned into the wind again and started heading home. The beer tasted like a babbling brook, and I think I sounded like one. Passerbys became whispers in the wind. Car honks became a game of cat and carnivorous geese. The world was now a great oyster with a pearl at every thought that crossed my mind. " I am a vagary not a vagrant!" I yelled to the geese in cars.
"I am Captain Umbilicus!" I yelled to a girl in a midrift top walking her dog.
"I am an umbra!"
"I am an umbrella!"
"I am a Cinderella story!"

This is about when I had to take a pee real bad. I remember thinking about peeing in a glass slipper, is why. I really had to go. I really wanted to go. I knew right where I was supposed to go. I headed for the car park adjacent to the hotel. I would simply find an umbra and utilize it. The ritzy MacBeth Hilton had a carpark that sort of leaned into the building. It sort of took a bite out of the side of it. I would enter it and pee. That was my plan. That never happened.

Well, it did, but not the way I had planned it. Oh, I peed alright. I peed all over myself. I remember the guy on the bicycle with the bread and that frightened, determined look he had on his face as he passed me shouting in that angry, foreign voice, and then I remember the blasts of wind that knocked me back and onto the ground. That's when I peed. The noise and the wind seemed to come at different times, but I know they were pretty much the same time, the same angry noise-- a God-like cuss-- but I remember I heard the noise after I fell, and felt the wind which knocked me down, before I heard the noise, and within the explosion there was a moment of silence, while I flew past myself, and it all made perfect sense. Up and down were both ends of a barrel. The same string on different ends.You could tie your life together with the two of them and continue walking. You can choose door "B", door number "1", or door number "2". There was no pain in flying.

The noise grew louder from a roar, and my brain rang like an unanswered phone, and then the dust and the clacking of bricks started fighting over the remaining sound and air, and then all I remember before you guys woke me up and told me about my leg is thinking about the guy with the bread and the bomb on the bicycle in that parking garage and about Igor. He was at home and I was here. He was saying "Help me" over and over. "Help me". An eye for an "eye"gor..
"Help me."
"You suck."
"Mmmmmmmmmm..."

3 comments:

Flat Coke and Flies said...

I joined the YMCA. I'm hoping to lose a few myself.

Do what's easy.

Nikky said...

I hate resolutions myself... I never succeed at them, then I feel guilty about not accomplishing them. I could resolve to quit smoking, but hell, I don't really want to, so I know that one has no chance in hell of success. I wish you the best in your losing endevor though!! Keep us posted!!

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

Good luck! I'll be rooting for you.

I never make resolutions. I will either do something or I won't. Saying that I will because of some date never works for me.