Sunday, November 8, 2015

Passing the Day

I spent Saturday sick.  I think.  I woke in the night with a rumbling belly.  Got up at six and didn't feel so good.  At seven the power went out, so I was forced to use non-internet entertainment.  I read "The Other Paris" on my iPad.  The power came back on at eight-thirty, and I went back my computer and finished up my morning, then, stomach feeling funky and gurgling with coffee, I went to breakfast at a greasy spoon I have pretty much quit going to.  Three eggs, grits, bacon, and wheat toast.  And O.J. The waitress who has worked there for a long time had lost about half her weight.  I had watched her grow over the years, but now she was skinny.  I realized how long it must have been since I had eaten here.  She was "a" waitress, not "my" waitress, but she came over and gave me the eyeball and said hi and asked me something innocuous.  She must have wanted me to see the way she looked.  She looked fine in that redneck way, she being the most "sophisticated" redneck in the place having gone to the jr. college for awhile, I think.  The breakfast didn't sit so well with me, however, and I began to get that humid sweat inside my shirt and pants.  I wanted to be home.

At home, I decided to go back to bed.  It wasn't yet ten.  My bloated stomach made falling to sleep difficult, but eventually I did and had strange and weird dreams, the sort that you remember and go--"uh-oh. . . I shouldn't let anybody know about that."

Later, when I woke up, a friend texted me the link to a story I had already read in the Times that morning about a sexting ring in some small-town high school.  The parents were hopping mad and blaming the administrators.  The police and FBI were looking for someone to charge with a felony pornography charge. Fucking people, I thought.  I hadn't seen the pictures, but I was pretty sure from the story that they were mostly selfies that pretty young boys and girls were sending to one another.  That is not pornography, of course, but in a small town in America and at the police department and local branch of the FBI I reckon it is no matter what the courts have ruled.

Yes, I thought, I certainly wouldn't be telling anyone my dreams.  It is a dangerous country out there.

And so I went back to reading.  And I read all day, copying and pasting into texts key passages that I sent to interested friends who wrote back or texted quotes of their own so that I felt a sense of community while sitting alone in my house with a gurgling belly.  A couple of friends were already drinking, and as my stomach would not settle on its own, I decided to join them at the cyber bar.  A little digestif couldn't hurt, I thought.  I certainly wasn't going to the gym today.  My arms and legs were tired and weak.  It would be the wrong thing to do.  I needed rest.

The alcohol seemed to have the intended effect.  I sent passages such as this one:

From the book I am reading. This is about the mid 1800s:

The southern barrières became a byword for menace, obscurity, obscure menace. The term rôdeur de barrières ( rôdeur means “prowler”) came to designate a sort of urban highwayman, leaping out from behind the vegetation to accost passersby and relieve them of their negotiable goods, and it remained in the language as a generalized epithet long after urbanization had rendered this sort of banditry impracticable. Various sensational murders occurred around the barrières , with psychopaths taking advantage of the absence of potential eyewitnesses to kill by chance and at random.

In return, I got:

Baudelaire said it best

be drunk

And then:

Il faut être toujours ivre. Tout est là: c'est l'unique question. Pour ne pas sentir l'horrible fardeau du Temps qui brise vos épaules et vous penche vers la terre, il faut vous enivrer sans trêve.

Mais de quoi? De vin, de poésie ou de vertu, à votre guise. Mais enivrez-vous.

Et si quelquefois, sur les marches d'un palais, sur l'herbe verte d'un fossé, dans la solitude morne de votre chambre, vous vous réveillez, l'ivresse déjà diminuée ou disparue, demandez au vent, à la vague, à l'étoile, à l'oiseau, à l'horloge, à tout ce qui fuit, à tout ce qui gémit, à tout ce qui roule, à tout ce qui chante, à tout ce qui parle, demandez quelle heure il est et le vent, la vague, l'étoile, l'oiseau, l'horloge, vous répondront: "Il est l'heure de s'enivrer! Pour n'être pas les esclaves martyrisés du Temps, enivrez-vous; enivrez-vous sans cesse! De vin, de poésie ou de vertu, à votre guise."

I forwarded this to another friend who was in the same boat.  

I am full of thoughts on structural/poststructural analysis now, having been arguing with a boy writing his dissertation.  I sent him pieces of the long review of Michel Houellebecq’s novel, "Submission" by Karl Ove Knausgaard.  If you have the time and inclination, it is a good review (link).  I will be reading the novel and Knausgaard's novels and the ones mentioned in the review as well, for Existentialism is my ground, my place, my credo and moral code even though it has fallen out of favor with most people.  But it will be a balm for me, a salve to help heal the scrapes and wounds I've had these past decades with "liberals" who have assumed a collective group think about most social issues.  There is much good reading out there, I hope, to tide me through the dark season.  

But drinking made me hungry, or at least made me think of food, so I decided to put on my clothes and go to Fresh Market where I could buy the decadent things I have eschewed for so many months now.  I wanted some pumpkin nut loaf for the morning (slathered with butter and popped into the toaster oven), and there were other morsels on my mind as well.  And the liquor stock had gone low, and I thought I might like to have some Lillet to sip while I read tonight.  I thought of big, red radishes, too.  And so I lay down and took another brief nap having lost all my energy just thinking of going out, and after awhile, feeling somewhat better, I got up and put away the clean dishes that were sitting in the dishwasher.  That gave me a feeling of hope, so when it was done, I grabbed my keys and went into the afternoon.  

Fresh Market hadn't changed.  Everything was just as I had left it, all foods in the same place.  And I was bad.  I tasted a chocolate cherry candy and bought a bag (it is not a chocolate covered cherry if that is what you might be thinking), and then got some thai flavored almonds and some crispy Heath cookies and a loaf of sourdough bread.  I decided on a good bottle of cab sav and grabbed some other things, too.  Back in the parking lot, now much poorer, the afternoon light was intriguing and the warm air comfortable.  I wished I felt better, wished to wander with my camera, wished to be a flaneur.  But I hadn't the breath or strength for it, and I longed to get back to my book.  

I got another text, this one from a fellow in NYC who is doing a documentary on some dancers he knows in Manhattan.  I had thought I might go, but I didn't.  I could kick myself now for a number of reasons, but he was texting me to tell me he will have to make a number of weekend trips to get this thing done.  I told him that without doubt, I was in.  He is having fun, he said, listening to the girls tell stories.  He is going to the club to shoot tonight.  

But I am not there and didn't go for silly reasons that no longer make any sense at all.  I am here.  That is all there is to say.  

I am reading now, and I will be living again soon.  Living and reading will be good for me and soon once again I will have some things to tell and say.  Telling and saying.  Hell, there may even be something to show.

*     *      *     *     *

It is much later now, and I have eaten dinner, read, written, and fallen asleep.  At nine, I woke and decided that I wanted to smoke a cigar on the deck.  I must have thrown all the old ones away, but after going through six drawers, I finally found an old Macanuda.  It was dry and crispy when I bit the end off, but it smoked fine.  I sat on the deck and smoked and drank whiskey and listened to the evening sounds.  The thumping of the train wheels on the track.  A motorcycle winding out on a distant highway.  And the critters in the bushes.  But the cat was nowhere around.  She is wobbly now, obviously so, and sometimes she stands and looks confused.  She has slept in the past few nights on the leather chair I sit in, something up to now she has never done.  I have loved her up and petted her and she gets all the food she wants (though she stays rail thin).  But tonight, she was gone.  I sat and smoked and thought about her and wondered.  She'll turn up in the morning, I am convinced, but not forever.  That old cat and I have a weird relationship, and I am more and more like her.

When I was getting beautified on Friday, I was telling my beautician about being single once again.  She had much to say about that, but somewhere in the conversation she said, "You will die alone."  That is the sort of statement, especially from a Russian Jew who is hip deep in nostalgic sentimentality and who looks like a movie Gypsy, that is supposed to instill deep and haunting fear.  It could, if you will let it.

"And who do you think is going to the grave with you?" I asked her.  "Do you think someone will say, 'Hey, wait, don't go alone.  I'll go with you?  You are full of shit if you do.  Nobody is going with you.  We are all going to die alone."

That was the sort of statement that is supposed to instill deep and haunting fear.  It could if you let it.

The cat will, certainly.  She doesn't want to.  She doesn't think about it.  She just doesn't want to die any more than the rest of us do.  She wants to feel good, to lie in the sun and stretch her legs and turn her belly toward the light, feet in the air.  She wants to eat and drink and lie on my feet or in my lap and be petted and scratched silly.  She wants to play with lizards and squirrels and have me chase away the cats she doesn't like.  That is the life she has and what she wishes to continue.  She doesn't get depressed because she has to go to work.  She doesn't lament not having kittens nor lost cat lovers.  And yet. . . .

I hope she is home in the morning.  But now it is time for bed.  I still feel lousy and will take some medication I have lying around in the bathroom drawers.  In the morning everything will be fine and well.  I will look forward to the morning.

*     *     *     *     *

This is just to say. . . it is morning and the cat is home.  The coffee maker does not work now, probably due to yesterday's transformer explosion/power outage.  Maybe.  I don't know.  I will have to buy a new one today.  For now, I am using the French press.  Soon it will be another day.  

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