Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I Have a Coat

I have a coat now. It was purchased at the local Goodwill Retail Store for a scant $8.00. This coat is soft black, and has some sort of quilted texture. The buttons are too big and the sleeves are too short.

Let us reflect, though, for a moment, on how this coat makes me feel. I feel strangely elegant in this coat, and often put it on just to spend long moments lingering in front of my mirror, surveying my sophistication.

This coat makes me feel whole.

The possibilities are endless when I wear this coat. I could be strolling into a theater in Times Square, or dumpster diving behind the Circle K. That's what I love about this coat.

Everyone should have an item of clothing that transforms the psyche.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Story to Tell

Do the trees around here tell stories? I'm not sure. I keep waiting for them to speak to me, but, thus far, I have only heard echoes rattling around inside my own head. I often wonder if I should hurl my own stories at the trees in an attempt to start a dialogue, but I refrain from doing so. It seems to me that the stories have to emerge, unhurried.

I once read a book about horses by a woman who had named her horse Tabula Rasa. Tabula Rasa is Latin for "clean slate." I have tried that archetype out on myself numerous times since I arrived in North Carolina, testing it to see if it fits. It doesn't . . . not really. I have brought with me countless stories, seedlings of hopes and dreams, shadows, and defenses.

When I was younger, I fled from wherever I was, and arrived wherever I was going to, with mythic expectations. There were no experiences to be had, because the ones in my head were superimposed over every layer of reality presented to me. There was no ocean but the Ocean I lived in in my dreams. I never encountered anything on its own terms, but only suffered when the Real clashed with the Dream.

In the end, exhaustion wins the day. There are no more pots to be stirred, and I have not the will to believe I have escaped myself this time. The beauty of it is that I am not at all sorry that I cannot escape myself. Not anymore.

There is only surrender. The stories will tell themselves.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Acorns on Acid

At my new home in North Carolina, there stands one lone oak tree in the back yard. This oak tree produces hundreds of acorns, which are strewn about on the nearby ground. My roommate spends a great deal of time gathering these acorns, in an effort to prevent a seasonal infiltration of squirrels. Our kitchen table now is home to mounds of acorns, numbering in the hundreds. I don't know what I am more stupefied by: the sheer number of acorns a single oak tree can house, or the sheer determination of my roommate to rid the yard of all traces of these acorns.

Perhaps it is the Virgo in me, but I often find myself fascinated with random details. Like acorns. They are, after all, details of an oak tree. The efforts of my roommate have afforded me with an opportunity to really get up close and personal with acorns. They greet me every morning from the kitchen table, and bid me sweet dreams as I grab my nightly drink of water and go to bed. Those acorns have become quite the presence in the house.

I can't help but scratch my head and wonder what is going to become of those acorns. She doesn't seem inclined to throw them away, but they're certainly not going back outside again. Maybe I can make a little choir of acorns. They can sing madrigals. Wow, I'm really on to something here . . . . . I'm on to something big . . . . . a chorus of embryonic oak voices, rising above the coffee machine, above the pots and pans, above the granite countertops . . . .

A lot of people think I did tons of acid. This is not so. In fact, I have never done acid, or psychedelics of any sort. I really didn't need to.

Big Fat Buttons

If the world consisted only of mountains of buttons
It would be a plentiful world indeed.

So let us live in a world of buttons
Pearly buttons, big fat buttons, delicate buttons, wooden buttons.

It is no accident, I should think
That the button is a close relative of the wheel.

Today I am happy
Because I choose to revel in the marvel of buttons.

Tomorrow I shall revel in string.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Who needs it?

"Hi, yer young and you got yer health.  What you want with a job?"

--Evelle, to H.I. McDunnough, in Raising Arizona

"Productivity" is one of the cherished virtues of amorphous American culture.  How often do we hear people say something to the effect of, "I got up at a decent hour today and had a very productive day."  Or, "Well, at least I was productive."  Or, "I could never retire because I have to be productive."  

Personally, I think productivity is the most overrated of our cultural values.  What IS "productivity" anyway?  Does that mean I should have some kind of finished product at the end of the day, whether it be clean dishes, a paycheck, or an oil painting?  I never understood what "productivity" is supposed to produce.  I suspect that, at the end of the day, productivity simply eases existential anxiety.  

I often like to joke that I'm not one of those people who needs to be "productive."  Like a great many jokes, this one is embedded in dead serious earnestness.  I don't need to feel like I accomplished something every day.  (By the way, this is a variation of the oft-repeated sentiments I quoted above:  "I got a lot accomplished today.")  In fact, I'd really like to see a revolution.  Instead of touting the productivity of our days, I'd like to hear something akin to, "I contemplated a lot today."  What would that revolution mean?  

Well, think about this.  A famous actress once said, "Tell me what you do, and I'll tell you who you are."  Really?  I mean, really?  It seems to me that if we stopped DOING, we might have to actually think about who we ARE.  Can it really be that who we are is what we do?  For better or worse, we seem to believe this, or else we wouldn't be on such a fervent quest for productivity.  

I propose a new holiday--wu wei day.  Wu wei, or, the Art of Doing Nothing.  There would be no point in creating greeting cards for this, because if we spent a lot of time sending out cards for this holiday, we would be doing something, wouldn't we?  No, we need a holiday to celebrate nothingness, by . . . . doing . . . . nothing.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Window Seat

The window seat was not to be mine on this fine day of air travel.  

It's a strange thing, boarding a plane.  What I find strange about it is the interminable time standing idly in the packed aisle facing the back of the plane while already-seated, smug passengers stare at the front of the plane.  Perhaps it's my self-consciousness, but it reminds me of an old Far Side cartoon where one schmuck faces the back of the elevator while everyone else faces forward.  (Caption:  "How to Make Everyone Really Uncomfortable in an Elevator.")  Inevitably, eye contact is made with some of the seated passengers and an awkward tennis match of staring and looking away ensues.  Dammit, can't those people ahead of me put their stuff in the overhead bin any faster?  

Finally, I arrive at my seat--9A.  Those of us who cherish window seats know that seats "A" and "F" are always window seats, by the way.  Anyhow, the entire row is occupied by a smarmy blond woman with two small children.  I look and look again.  Yep, she is in row 9.  I very timidly point this out to her, and she asks me if I might switch to the other side since she and her brood are already situated.  This is not an outlandish request; what is outlandish is her feigned ignorance of her mistake.  I should mention at this point that I am nine days off of cigarettes.  This is not a good day to switch airplane seats.  I want to stick my finger in her face and say, "Man, don't you lie to me!  You planned this!  You window-seat-stealing bitch!"  I have to concede, though, that her kids are, well, kids . . . . with the requisite cuteness.  

So I spent the entire flight in a middle seat with my chin bobbing in my chest, trying to sleep.  It didn't help that the woman behind me talked incessantly about "the Lord."  Apparently, she needed an upgrade on her iTunes and "the Lord" helped her get it.  She told the hapless passenger next to her that "the Lord" would help her get an upgrade as well.  I hoped that "the Lord" would shut her up, but, as Garth Brooks sings, maybe some of God's greatest gifts are indeed unanswered prayers.

Anyhow, while I'm in the process of quitting smoking, especially those initial agonizing weeks, I suspect this is going to be more of a "rant" than a "blog."  Bear with me.