"mister smith, the test results were . . ."
this time, the nurse put an incredibly long space in there, an extended pause deliberately inserted to deliberately extend the suspense with a dilatory subversion. ironically, the presence of the pause signifies the answer i want to hear (i'd like to think she wouldn't be playing with me if this wasn't the case). but there are so many things that could go wrong, so many reasons to believe that the answer is not what it should be. i had to call for the results three days later, when they are usually called to me on the next day or two. i was on hold for fourteen minutes before she came back on the line (during which time i began to believe that she was trying to get the doctor on the line, that she wasn't allowed to break bad news to patients), and told me the room with the results was occupied and she would have to call me back (during which time i began to believe the doctor story again). overlapping contingencies extending worry. and i had reason to worry.
i had been worrying about the answer all week. in fact, i've been worrying about it for three months, more or less. it doesn't usually happen to me like this. i've usually no fear, except the moment between when i am at the office, two days after a doctor's visit, and i hear the call is for me and from my doctor's office, and that is the moment i put my shaking index finger on the small black button with the flashing red light next to it to connect to my line.
suspense like memento: ravaging the past for answers, because all the action happened behind you. you go back at regular intervals, and play your memory forward at each, carefully, unable to remember where the panic started, and after a while what the panic was for, because of the reordered blocks time (not unlike the structure of blogs). there arises a need to rebuild a cogent timeline out of this reversal of memories, create a sequence of events that will assuage suspense. yet its creation has the opposite effect: it causes suspense to multiply, suffocating you.
suffocating you like blair witch project: the reality of it existing in the fact that someone found the footage and created anxiety by turning it into a film. you are unable to locate authorship of work, which appears to be as much the source of panic as the events previously recorded. you are worried about linking this film because it's so silly, and known, yet it affects you still.
this time i had reason to worry. or so i thought: my doctor refuted my fears after patiently listening to me struggle to find words for my anxiety. he's realistic, not trying to cover his ass al the time. he's also my homo older counsellor, or perhaps a stray parent, telling me to pay attention when, in his professional opinion, my behavior hasn't sufficiently worried me at moments when it should (as he did two years ago), and comforting me when my behavior has me unnecessarily worried (as it had this time). i knew none of the technical information i came looking for, despite the trove of that information on the internet. my professional style primarily involves biased didactic learning, and that's what my doctor provided, both of us knowing full well that every opinion may not be true. i left the examination room believing it was "highly unlikely" the results would be what i did not want them to be, but it's the certainty of hearing it from your doctor's receptionist that is the moment of truth. you can't fuck with science.
and in the middle of the workout, between breaths, the two would converge, my textual memory of their profile and my visual memory of them in my life; or alternately, you might say that my textual memory, usually so hermetic and pure, was cracked a bit by their physical presence, the way warhol's screenprinting pops with imperfections and makes you realize that this is an original copy.
i counted no fewer than ten gym guys there, people i could affix a body to.
before, meaning a couple of years ago, i worked backwards. inspired by people on the train, i woud construct their identity, their backstory, and by extension my relationship to it. and by extension the expression of that relationship.
now, meaning this time around, i simply anchored the sea of profiles with people i am already familiar with, even if it's only how they look at themselves in the locker room mirror. i avoid the external relationship, the one that is ficticiously constructed in my head, ancillary to any real interaction, in favor of one that is accreted by talking, smiling, laughing together. my heart becoming at once less sensitive to others and increasingly affected by those who capture my affection (including the strangers). it was difficult: i am prone to a life of imagination.
the love/hate relationship with my second favorite architect, part 1.
now. your architecture relies on your cachet as a celebrity architect, a classic personality-driven approach that your early work beautifully, implicitly, almost mutely resisted with thought. some of the new work is beautiful, but some is not, and the disappointing projects are the ones that didn't survive the initial idea. and the final disappointment of this project: the shopping became about you.
at one time, around the time that the 1992 el croquis came out about your firm, i was completely satisfied with you. i would live in your books, and your buildings. i was moved to move to new york by your lovely retroactive manifesto, inhabiting a gorgeous fantasy about bachelorhood and tall buildings. your apartment complex in fukuoka completely floored me. the kunsthalle in rotterdam, which i was compelled to visit in 1993, redefined how i thought about spaces. and above all these buildings, you were a stylist for urban theory, projecting fantasies of metropolitan living motivated by a passionately unsentimental appetite for the density of the city. you were a thinking person who also made desirous things.
sitting in a cab again
"to wound myself upon the sharp edges of the night"
at times like this
your body is always carried by others:
sliding on the greasy blue seat of a car
eyes burning from being open all hours
nose filled with sawdust
hands stained from the oil of mahogany
fingerprints sanded, abraded, chemically dissolved
calves worn from standing stilled time
working in the shop, discovering something new in the wood
the model for a new building for art
the model a work of art
several times en sÚrie
discovered while made (making itself)
seeing the lights of empty midtown lobbies overlaid by this inner drawing
a mass of concept
linking, intertwining, spinning, spiraling lines of force
continuing past the deadline
the building inside me.
you think about structure systems
blurry space-time smells
the properties of brick and glass and grass and floodplains
and how art departments overlap and share
and how gallery opening visitors are attracted to glass entrances
like fireflies in their humid georgian night.
but mostly you think about how people eat
and drink wine and write
and stroke each other's hair,
and do their lives, doing your own.
friday was, officially, the 100th time someone has said that my celebrity look-alike is this guy. or so.
celebrity game is the most tedious; the status is spuriously applied, and ultimately is a sign of poor conversation, in my milieu. after all, this is new york. we're all busy, famous, important, and tired. more or less.
the first 99 times it happened, i had no idea who that was. then, i saw the spider-man trailer. it caught my attention.
the physical resemblance may not be so far fetched, given my facial features. also, i have a new haircut: longer, messier, not combed but ordered, and i use no haircare products anymore, complimenting my disuse of deoderant: the cut is all i need. i'm wearing my redwings round the clock because i'm doing a lot of work in the woodshop. mostly jeans, and some old clothes, to save money. i'm not showing it off at all, despite the fact that the body is looking its best ever, strong, tight, nice. so i'm not saying; i'm just saying.
1. there are only two sizes of coffee in new york city: coffee and large-coffee. many new york baristas still don't get that. all the coffee stand guys do.
2. you must remember someone's coffee order from day to day, especially if they make an effort to enter your establishment and order the exact same thing for a whole week, just so's you'll remember.
3. large coffee, especially in winter, will get cold before i drink it all. and if i chug it, i can forget about cogent thought for the next eighteen hours.
4. there is a calculus: the limit of how difficult it is to place an order at 7AM, plotted on axes that include the price and the deliciousness of the coffee. coffee is so ubiquitous, you must adhere to this rule, otherwise someone will simply "get coffee elsewhere".
5. if you make coffee at home, it's like free caffiene. but really, darling, it's so much easier to go to the deli on the first floor.
example: the guy in the coffee truck from who i've been purchasing coffee for over four years knew my order on the second day. he still calls me "one sugar" because i'm particular about the amount of sugar in my coffee, if i take any. all for fifty cents.
example: a new guy took over coffee truck guy's post for a couple of weeks over the holidays. i said "coffee milk one sugar please" and he picked up a large up, then in one motion put it down and took the small cup and said "coffee means the smaller cup, i forgot".
example: the guy who is in the cafe in my building cannot remember that i never order a large coffee, and always asks me what size. this early in the morning, with someone who recognizes me, because i've been ordering from him for over two years (he's had his job that long), makes this particular amnesia infuriating. as well, that kind of aporia about my coffee preferences is mildly rude at this point.
example: i love starbucks coffees. after they ask you what size, you try to figure out what sizes they are (i can never remember this early) and let it cool down for 25 minutes so you do not scald your tongue, and hoping that you have around three dollars in your pocket at the time. you might guess that i never drink starbucks coffee: the reward does not incite me to get to it.
example: a new know-nothing chain on ninth ave opened, trying to sell a doppio-espresso sized regular joe for two dollars, and claim it was the best thing on earth. it isn't. i curse them everytime i walk by.
oh, and pamie still rocks.
saved box of funeral prayer cards
saving various degrees of useful information
saving precious sources.
together, we can see so much of our past. we each have different pieces.
keeping intact our ability to open up our minds
trigger our memory
smell of catholic incense
smell of wood pews
relation or not related
the jacket you wore
the people you loved
transition to subjects in a study
of how we wish to assemble the past
grandpa's siblings' spouses?
we went to their funeral, but do we record them too?
their children, my cousins removed,
are they important too?
how far to you go with this?
editing our family, limits of sentiment reaching far vertically (the past above) but with limited horizontal purvey. at what point are you simply making the job sensible, reasonable, and when have you decided the limit of your familial attachment?
imagine a flat plane of light
magically extending into the gray wilderness
revealing the subtleties of the land's surface
asphalt and fields
visible like the extreme edge of anything
cut equally by your moving vehicle
cold of rural ohio
crossing rural urban
between tiny points of warmth
echoed by eccentricities of houses' occupants
using darkness to project their holiday message
by dotting the ground's sky.
a few days before christmas, i was in my father's parents' living room in bowling green, ohio. they were just finishing telling us about their move back to their hometown of leipsic. moving when you're in your 80s is a big deal, even if it's only a few miles away, and even if you're healthy and mobile.
this announcement instantly gave rise to a discussion because my grandparents had 'ended up' in bowling green, because they have moved from their farm in weston ten years ago, and now wanted to move 'home'. my parents have a parallel discussion: they 'ended up' in lima, where i grew up, because my father found work there in 1970, a year before i was born. with my brother and myself moved to the east coast, they feel pretty lost. they are contemplating a move of their own, as they are approaching retirement. it's good news to everyone, including their parents. my toast when opening the wine: life is always about change, so the important thing is pursue what makes you happy. paraphrased. for me, it's worked so far.
we feasted on exotic seafood delicacies, our tastes having developed as they would for folks living in a landlocked state. shrimp cocktail, my grandfather's oyster stew. we played cards, something i never do on the east coast, and haven't done with my family in years, the game being the one moment of strategic thinking, a way to keep the mind sharp, the work emotionless (except the desire to win).
these are simple pleasures if tabluated objectively, yet somehow immeasurably delightful, deeply priceless pleasures for me, no matter how i try to examine them.
sharpeyed octagenarians not afraid of anything.
my grandmother had a small surgery a couple of weeks ago. the nurse administering the valium missed the vein. casual exchange during dinner between grandpa and grandma oh, virginia, do you think we should sue the hospital and the return oh, i suppose so a disinterested and circumspectively satirical tone that i know like my own voice, but as dry as if one were saying should we shake out the rug?.
they got out a binder of geneological information a cousin of grandpa sent him. one of my great-great-great-great-grandfathers is Arthur White, born in Ireland in the 1780s, and emigrated to York county, Pennsylvania around 1800. he had brown hair and blue eyes. he stood five six and weighed 145, lean and muscled. familiar description. he had twenty-three children with three wives. six of his descendents fought in Pennsylvania regiments during the civil war. three were at Gettysburg. one of these survived the war. one of Arthur's sons married a Vesey daughter, the latter being of the bloodline our current president is decended from (i'm certain we would connect us all back this far). he has his own geneological newsletter. his son Robert, as well as three other sons of his, moved to Putnam county, Ohio.
two new discoveries: i am partially Irish by blood (not by marriage, as previously believed), and some of the family has been here a long, long time. the wars for this country's freedom, before the twentieth century, were fought by my ancestors, yankees. all this time i believed i was descended from nineteenth century immigrants. yet one side of my family has lived in these states since about the time of the was for independence, as farmers.
HERE DOWN ON DARK EARTH
before we all go to Heaven
VISIONS OF AMERICA
All that hitchhikin
All that railroadin
All that comin back
or, a tribute to the pleasures of writing,
mistook by earth --
eels for some
or, a meditation on the nature of poetry in the form of quoting jack kerouac
& it all adds up
to nothing, like
or Da Vinci --
So, poets, rest awhile
& shut up
Nothing ever came
from a little book by uncle jack my parents gave me for christmas.
Wee wee wee poem
We wee not-worth-reading
You start off by suckin in
You end up suckin in
And you know
What milk and smoke
subtly uncovering in me two parallel, not-intersecting impulses
Don't use the telephone.
People are never ready to answer it.
the will to write and its absence.
ps all work in this domain is copyright chad the minx.