Archive for December, 2008

20
Dec
08

getting Ms. Gordon re-acclimated

Welcome back to the United States of America. Quite a bit has changed while you were away, so adjust accordingly. For example, gravity has been cancelled. The concept of charity has been significantly scaled back due to budgetary concerns, and is now called chrt(y). Separation of church and state is a thing of the past, but in a surprise upset, our official religion is the solemn worship of all things Hello Kitty. Our new flag is my old long sleeved Cannibal Corpse t-shirt from high school. Obviously, we will still refer to this new flag as Old Glory. Replacing the eagle as our official bird is what we hope will be a more noble representation of the gentility and grace we aspire to as a nation. Of course I’m talking about Sonny, the Cocoa Puffs mascot. The national anthem remains the Star-Spangled Banner, but it is now only officially recognized when sung by former members of New Edition. You should hear Johnny Gill ripping that song up, and you will at the next Indianapolis 500, which is now mandatory viewing for anyone wishing to obtain a passport. Oh, and it is now considered grossly unpatriotic to rollerblade in public, so keep that weird shit confined to the privacy of your own home. That’s about it! Enjoy your regular-tasting ice cream!

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11
Dec
08

being watched

The graffiti on the tile wall, at eye level with anyone using the urinal, has been expanded twice in the last week, from a drawing of an eye to a drawing of an eye with two letters added (“eye” C U), to a drawing of an eye with four letters added (“eye” C U P N). Clever. The recessed lights in the club’s bathroom, indirect and overbright, oddly remind me of the lights in the storeroom of the dress shop my mom worked in at the mall. When I was a kid, that’s where I would sit and watch Muppet Babies on Saturday mornings on the tiny black and white TV that usually sat on our kitchen counter. Continue reading ‘being watched’

07
Dec
08

May I just say something?

I was born at that weird time where I remember when Michael Jackson moonwalked for the first time, but I was too young (6 or 7) to have the context for how mind-blowing that was to people seeing it, where they knew the next morning they were going to wake up to a whole new reality.

Well, I feel like I finally understand, after seeing the Lonely Island’s “Jizz in My Pants” short on SNL. Thanks to mind-expanding drugs and the world of internet porn, I consider myself a difficult person to shock, but  honestly, I would have been less shocked if my parents had driven up from the farm unannounced, then walked into my living room and pulled off their faces to reveal that they were the aliens from V.

03
Dec
08

Days without an accident: 2

I think I’m really building something here. Woke up, made breakfast, ate breakfast, showered, feeling good. All that by one p.m. Not too shabby. 

My big plans to leave the apartment will have to remain just plans until I’ve got my routine down pat. You’ve got to crawl before you walk, after all. A few more weeks of this waking up, making and eating breakfast, and showering before this self-imposed one o’clock deadline, and I’ll have it perfected, paring down all wasted motion until it’s the very embodiment of haiku poetry: a complex process distilled down to a few essential strokes.  And when I do, look out, world!

Look, I’m no dummy. I know crippling self-doubt is just my cross to bear, like a lot of those genius types throughout history when they delve into uncharted territory. The risk inherent to boundary-expanding experimentation is that some experiments fail. But this time it’s going to be different, a real breakthrough. The next houseplant, once I’m ready again, will be a cactus.

01
Dec
08

Surface Area

1.

She presses down with her foot and the shovel sinks into the ground. It’s soft like a pie under its dry, crusty surface, and she turns the shovel over to reveal a mass of earth that is her favorite color of black. Far from the black of funeral attire; this black represents infinite possibilities, a new year and a fresh start, maybe summer squash this time. This is her fourth spring tending to this little four-by-six plot behind the carport, and the hard work she’s put in is beginning to pay off as the years go on. The soil gets more malleable, more manageable, every year under her hands as they gain experience. Ah, experience: the culmination of hundreds of tiny lessons learned with every blister, each callus a diploma. Continue reading ‘Surface Area’

01
Dec
08

the Sequence

1.

“Attention shoppers,” intones the smooth, baritone voice over the loudspeaker at Foster’s Supermarket, “Summer’s almost over and if you want to fire up those barbecue grills one last time, we’ve got specials on flank steak, just $2.98 a pound! Bone-in pork ribs- now get this- 98 cents a pound! Chicken breasts…”

There aren’t many customers in the store to hear the voice, and the voice hardly registers with Phillip Barrow, pushing a slate-colored, flat-bottomed cart through the empty aisles in a pattern he’s memorized over the last nine years, though much more consistently the last four. He sometimes imagines a Family Circus-style dotted line being formed behind his feet as he goes. Unlike the Family Circus kids, though, Phil wastes no motion, the dotted line never crosses over itself, the shopping list practically encoded in his DNA by now from twice-weekly trips here, every Monday and Friday at 8:00am. He parks his little Toyota pickup in back of the store, grabs the buggy from the storeroom, and gets to business, fully expecting to one day be able to follow the trail of his own boots’ tread, worn into the linoleum floor.   Continue reading ‘the Sequence’

01
Dec
08

Thou Aren’t With Me

1.

I veer off the access road and pull my truck to what used to be the edge of civilization, to the Home Depot store, and pull up to the dock in the back to drop Daniel off for work.

He and I worked here together nine summers ago, beginning immediately after graduation. The store was brand new then, occupying what for our adolescence and childhood (and the adolescences and childhoods of several generations previous) had been farmland. We were eighteen, living in our first apartment together at the Mesa Villas, and following identical arcs then, and it made sense to unload trucks for a year, take community college classes, enlist the aid of a guy who was a junior when we were freshmen to get beer, and occasionally hook up with girls who we’d considered unattainable just a semester before impending adulthood brought them down to our level.

The whole thing was originally intended as a springboard to bigger and better things, and for one of us, it was. As I promised myself, I left for real college fifteen months later, eventually graduating from Texas A&M with a degree in construction science, which was itself a springboard to the same Dallas suburb I had just left. In the four years I was gone, our little suburb came to occupy more space, and my job today is to oversee the filling of that space with retail stores. I work today at this new edge of civilization, as a project manager in a trailer at a construction site occupying what used to be farmland.

It was here at Home Depot that our paths originally diverged, when Daniel skipped our first day of American History to stay a few extra hours and cover somebody’s shift. I doubt very seriously that Daniel found his calling that day while I was learning about the first Americans crossing over the Bering Strait from Asia centuries ago, but he certainly found a comfortable spot. The co-worker of ours whose shift Daniel was covering called in to quit later that day and Daniel was offered a full-time position. He never did make it to class, choosing instead to razz me for the next twelve months when I would leave work at noon to drive to “thirteenth grade.”

I check my rearview mirror as I pull away from Home Depot and toward the trailer, and as always, that’s where I spot Daniel. Continue reading ‘Thou Aren’t With Me’