Friday, April 16, 2010

These ages will go away/ maybe to turn to darker days
Nineteen Ninety-Eight, kaleidoscopic in the forgiving lens of hindsight, as per its representation of plaids on a trendy fashion blog’s website, was in fact a horrible year, marked by my lack of will to live. No more could I figure out what I was doing in the college I had ended up in, surrounded by concrete on every side, and my alien classmates, whose sallow skin threatened to decompose under the fluorescent lighting of a lecture hall, than could I refute a sociology professor’s warnings of the oncoming apocalypse. “It doesn’t matter what you do!” he would admonish with the crazy-eyed glare of a madman. “Screw until it hurts if you want to.” The students in attendance would perk up momentarily, interrupted by the realization of their sallow-skinned desk mates before going back to the task at hand, which was falling into a slumber under the tepid lighting system of EDU building, room 102. There were still three years left until the impending doom of the oncoming apocalypse, but everything seemed like it was taking so long.

The music of the band Bedhead appealed to me in an unquantifiable way during this period. I do not know how I discovered this music (although I have written about it before-somewhere, at the incomprehensible beginning of this blog, whose Byzantine trails you would have to follow to find it). But it was an incomprehensible time preceding the full on utility of the Internet, whose aspirations of becoming an electronic shopping mall were yet to be fully realized, and even its capability of efficiently transmitting information was subpar, at best (at least on the upgraded 486 machines my college was working with).

So it rationally concludes then, that there are psychic tides at work, compelling you to gravitate towards things and people with whom you are destined to meet and interact with, as per the dictates of some unknown deity who hides out behind clouds, drinking cherry-flavored wine coolers and positioning the moons. That’s the way I imagine it anyway. Because how else would you describe the things that end up in your life? And how else could you imagine, here and now, discovering any of these things in the absence of the Inter-Web?

The Bedhead album Transaction de Novo arrived that same year to the massive anticipation of me and some unfortunate record store clerk alone, whose pimply face would not be rendered any clearer by so many hours of preening in front of the washroom mirror. I preordered this CD from the website, and it arrived in the mail three days prior to its scheduled release date, with a promotional poster, which was not too impressive of a poster, really, seeing as it was just some rendering of the bleak album cover art, which looked like a marker for a grave in a cemetery (as did the other Bedhead albums and eps, in an attempt at subversion of the garish album cover art of the times. See: Any Dinosaur Jr. album cover from the nineties for context).

The record begins with an uncharacteristic decibel-plunging bass line, which crawls into a lugubrious melody, before segueing into an entire album comprised of this sort of thing. It was not the “best” Bedhead album, with its high gloss Steve Albini production job, and “misses” factored in, but they had a lot to contend with from my critical perspective, as a music fan who had already channeled their entire catalogue into the soundtrack of my existence years before. It was a worthwhile addendum, none the less- something I could definitely make use of.

I was probably pondering the contents of the periodic table at the time, which contained elements I would never make sense of, illustrated in the weird semiotic code which I still find perplexing in some incalculable way, when I read on a related website that Bedhead was going to be on tour that spring. This was good news for me, because I knew that I would not kill myself for another few weeks, and that I would have a reason to “stick it out,” at least, until I could go to the concert. It would be a nice punctuation mark, I thought, the literal coda to a life lived but not particularly ‘dug’ very much. Who knows? I thought. Maybe I would even convince the band members to sign their initials on my arm and have those signatures tattooed, ‘for all time.’

I had consulted the necessary diagrams and maps in advance and planned out a route to the college where the show would be taking place. It seemed like a relatively simple route, since the destination was about forty-five minutes from my own college. But whether because the Internet was still in its infancy and prone to incalculable error or it was a practical joke played by some graduate students attempting to divert onlookers from checking out the setting of the latest Brett Easton Ellis novel will remain one of the great historical mysteries. Because a friend and I did inexplicably get lost that night, diverted to the outer bounds of some mountainous Vermont territory before arriving to said college as the band was packing their equipment into the van. I reeled in horror, like Marty McFly searching for the Delorean time machine which was nowhere in sight- or a skateboard, at least. But in the end all that I could locate was my own sad parody of a vehicle in the parking lot, and so we got back into the car and drove home.

The experience has resulted in a lifelong obsession with punctuality to rock shows, always arriving early enough to uncomfortably mill around and drink too much with the two other patrons of ye olde rock dive. Which then invariably results in getting too inebriated, and striking up a conversation with one individual or another, which nine times out of ten results in this person pointing his halitosis glazed breath in your direction and making you listen to the perfunctory proclivities of some rock douche for the duration of what seems like an hour.

Bedhead ended up disbanding the following summer; I never ended up killing myself, and that fall I transferred to a different college, which presented an entire onslaught of new problems to contend with. I moped about missing the Bedhead concert for a few more years until my pen pal who lived in Dallas, who had seen the band hundreds of times, told me to “get over it,” and so I did.

I had done so much “getting over it” until I may have forgotten about it entirely, when at ten o’clock this morning, the ye old hype machine revealed this particular performance to me, in full, recorded at said college twelve years earlier. Which seems unimaginable to me, (and which relates the de facto presence of deities hiding out behind clouds and tinkering with moons all day). It is all there: the set list comprised of the Transaction de Novo record which they were touring in support of that spring, followed by the catalogue favorites, performed with so much precision. The songs are acute renderings of the album versions, which is either a good or bad thing depending on one’s concert-going perspective. But either way, it is a time capsule, exhumed, and revealed for me to hear, so many years later. A moment lost, and now restored. (Which begs the question: Do I have to make good and suicide, now that I have heard the Bedhead performance? And what, exactly, are these deities trying to signal to me? That my neo-Luddite stances are just completely contradictory now that I have located the conceptual Delorean and actually not missed the Bedhead concert?)

It’s weird hearing this recording now, because it is the same time of year that the show actually happened, way back when. The songs seem to have an almost debilitating effect on me, and listening to them is like being instantaneously transported back to the late nineties, where I may just be in college again and forced to endure something horrible. But it also seems to point out the tenuous nature of nostalgia, because it relates that sometimes you end up missing the things you hated, just because they are gone. And it makes me wonder what I might miss ten years from now, just because it isn’t around anymore.

There is a song on the '98 live recording called “More Than Ever” which is the standard Bedhead track, all ennui in song form. The recording is quiet enough that you can hear the casual talk of concert-goers in the background, casually whooping it up during the show, possibly making plans for what to later that night. The guitar parts on this song are skeletal and descending above the inordinately clear vocal. "More than ever,” the singer sings, “it seems true to say that things won't always be this way.” Which, if songs could be equated to horror movies, would be the point in the rental where you stop to pause, because you know something really horrible or great is about to happen, depending on your propensity or tolerance for gore. The guitars keep scaling down, as the singer keeps singing lines which mine as well be being spoken from the precipice. “Are there any good things left to do/ are there any right ways left to be,” he asks. The answers to which are, of course, almost exclusively in the negative.

Momentarily, the guitars begin to intertwine, building to a crescendo, before the song comes to an end, which is a magnificent end, as endings can sometimes tend to be.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Blame it on my wild heart
There is a mouse in the apartment. It seems to be lying in wait, listening nightly for the last click of the cathode to occur, until it can safely crawl from whatever recesses it is hiding in, to eat crumbs off of the floor and revel in its nighttime dwelling. I imagine this tiny creature hiding out behind the counter, biding its time as the Comedy Central channel segues into another program, impatiently checking out the clock until two minutes of silence occurs, beckoning it to come out from its hiding place, and eat microcosmic food particles that have fallen onto the floor.

We have purchased a "humane” mousetrap from the hardware store, which looks like some kind of absurd plastic coffin, and which the mouse has deftly avoided thus far, despite the veritable gourmet of care packages we have left inside for it to eat. I picture him rolling up, driven by pure olfactory intrigue alone, before taking one look at the trap and heading for the hills. "No way am I stepping foot in that thing," he thinks to himself, as he checks out the more assessable crumbs scattered all over the floor. And who would blame him? So transparent is the coffin-so insidious of a device-that we may well write MOUSE TRAP on the side in red Sharpie and sign the mouse up for literacy classes. Which it clearly may not need.

Fruitlessly checking the trap has become one in a succession on a calculated list of things to slog through on a daily basis, the reordering of which might just send me into a Rain Man-variety fit. I need these things, a continuum of events which offer the placebo-effect of order and OK-ness, so I don't freak out about my life and jump off a bridge. (Which begs the question, what would occur if one of these things were accomplished successfully? What would I do if I actually did catch the mouse? And where would I relocate it, to carry out its future days of meandering?).

In addition to totally failing at catching the mouse, I cannot seem to find a job in any tangible way, although many favorable reviews of my persona have been given. "You really do just seem to have a nice way about you," I have recently been told in a job interview. "Yeah," another interviewee chimed in, "You do seem to carry yourself well." I chortled, not knowing what to say in return, shrugging my shoulders in the aw-shucks mannerism of a southerner, which I am totally wont to capturing after so much practice.

Sadly, all of these spurious character affections are belied by my actual resume, which is so paltry a document, marked with such vast chasms in employment history and useless skills listed--that all of the great posture in the world could not compensate for, and in the end adds up to more of the same, scuttling around the apartment, like a mouse.



It had seemed like a horrible idea, but I had to retrieve the stray mail which kept arriving to her apartment, and so I walked to El Smelldog’s on her day off from work last week. She had compiled the envelopes with my name on them, and put them into a plastic bag which had at one time contained the detritus of items from a shopping trip to Walmart.

Smeller met me at the door and handed me the mail, which she had tied up into an absurd little bow at the top of the bag and presented to me like a gift. “Thank you,” I said to her. “I know it’s a drag.” Which could have been a vague generalization about the chore of collecting my mail or any number of things. It had seemed like the kind of thing I might write on a T-shirt with a Sharpie, attempting futile connection with my fellow humans or alienate myself for all time. “I know, it’s a drag.” –Ryan Kemp

Smelldog and I had had a falling out sometime last fall, and since then an icy chasm of limited communication had occurred between us. It was probably the natural result of inhabiting a small space with me for any extended period of time-the natural disaster equivalent of being my roommate, tectonic plates of the interaction colliding until so much damage had occurred.

I still was not sure what Smeller was so upset about, but in retrospect it could have been any number of things: the night she emerged from jail and came home to find me naked in the living room, wielding a 40oz bottle of beer, with something tantamount to a party going on upstairs; the bitter and unspoken resentment directed toward me for having taken the “better” room. Or any number of things at all. But despite these things, she invited me in, to catch up.

On first glance the apartment seemed different, slightly skewed from my perspective, like familiar environments tend to look after not seeing them for an extended period of time . There were new curtains and furniture. A picture hung on the wall which looked like it may have been purchased at the yard sale of a now defunct funeral home- a painting of still life flowers, which ominously hung over a purple velvet couch that looked like it may have belonged to the Jimi Hendrix Collection of household furnishings.

In addition to the newish-seeming surroundings, there was an accompanying new roommate, who greeted me cordially, as he made his way to and from, shaking my hand in between cleaning all available surfaces with a cloth, the new roommie, Version 2.0.

Smeller and I talked between marveling at the manual dexterity of her new roommate, who had clearly been recruited from an online website specializing in robotic housemates. Occasionally, as if to verify that he was not a robotic cleaning machine purchased online, he would interject, inserting tidbits of unessential information into the conversation which made me wish he had stuck to the task at hand.

The new roommate made me look bad, contextually. He was a fully functioning citizen, who had a job, and cooked and cleaned. For all I knew, he may have conducted Sunday prayer sessions with the local youth group on weekends. Which contrasted horribly with my presence as a housemate, prone to disappearing for days on end, only showing up long enough to eat Smeller's groceries before disappearing again.

I bid adieu to the new guy, and Smeller walked me to the door. There was an awkward pause where I tried to figure out what sort of punctuation mark should denote this encounter. In the end, I opted for a hand wave, feeling particularly squeamish about hugs, and sauntered off in the direction of the exit, dangling the plastic Walmart bag between my fingers.

Things had seemed OK for The Smell. And that was something, at least.


My car has recently been stolen. Among the many automobiles which may at any given moment be situated in my neighborhood, it seems remarkable to me that my rather modest machine would have been the one chosen. But compliments of the exquisite thief, he decided to take my car, with the help of a fifteen year-old accomplice.

The event occurred as I was entertaining a night of fruitful debauchery, elsewhere. And so it occurred to me with great hilarity when I received the call from the Albany police detective that night.

“Ryan Kemp?” the detective conjectured out loud in the phone, “This is the Albany police Department.”

There seemed to be a hint of satisfaction in the police detective’s voice at having caught the thieves, and I thanked him for a job well done, before hanging up the phone and thinking it was all very funny. “My car got stolen,” I said mirthfully to Sare, like the more jovial equivalent of Nicolas Cage's character in the movie "Adaptation." “Isn’t that fucked up?”

Now, months later, with sobriety setting in and the broken window repaired, things seem less funny than they may have felt that night, and unfortunate for everyone involved. The theft was carried out by two fifteen year-olds, whose joy ride in my car lasted approximately twenty-five minutes before they were caught driving with a broken window, shards of jagged glass sticking out every which way, as they weaved in haphazard patterns around the neighborhood.

More compassion I would have had for the thieves if stealing my car was part of some pact, where they were caught en route to the nearest outbound highway, headed for some undetermined destiny which my car could never transport them to. But, in the end, I just could not get behind this very pointless act of cruising aimlessly around their downtrodden neighborhood, and listening to the local FLY 92. (Although hints of their well prepared statements of the prevailing Zeitgeist were taken in the form of my broken CD collection scattered all over the car).

A letter has recently arrived in the mail, on which appears the scrawled and illegible scratch of a now incarcerated fifteen year-old named James. “To Whom It May Concern,” it reads. “I apologize for what happened that night. I wasn’t thinking. But can you accept my apology and (what) I learned from the bad choice I made that night?”

“I promise to continue to improve on the negative to create the positive things happening in my life,” it continues. “My hope is if ever we do meet, you will see the better person I have become. I send my deepest apology.”

He signed his name at the bottom, followed by his last name, which was blotted out by the coarse smudge of a dried White-Out pen--so as not to be identified, and have the ass beat out of this fifteen year-old with the embittered rage of retribution.

But, OK, James: You have fucked up, at such a young age, making my own transgressions at the age of fifteen seem infinitesimally small by comparison. And you have fucked me particularly, because my insurance company did not want to pay for the damages incurred. Additionally, you will probably have to partake in some really lame community service-oriented events like picking up scraps on the side of the highway every weekend for the remainder of your youthful existence. If it was up to me, the punishment would have come in the form of constructing a manual of more creative acts of subversion. Or the mandatory penalty of formulating more of an outbound route.

But things happen, James. I get it, bro. I accept your apology, as illegible as it may be.



Spring has arrived, the common themes of hope and jubilation magically manifesting in the minds of the general populace, dotted by the occasional good weather pattern, illustrated by Tim Drawbridge on the local news. Except for today, which has shown by with cold rain on the day I am scheduled to walk to the hospital and give blood.

I hustle through the bad weather and then look at this same imagery reflected back at me on the LCD screen in the doctor’s office waiting room, the zoomed out shot of my city on the area weather segment, which is all looming fog and grey doom amongst the office buildings. Albs, New York: the apocalypse is upon us.

Distracting me from the looming apocalypse is the nurse, who comes into the waiting area and calls my name to the room of waiters, who are looking at copies of Good Housekeeping Magazine and Modern Men's Manual with the home address of some doctor torn off of their covers. “How’s it going?” she asks, as she proceeds down a hallway with a clipboard that contains information about me. “OK,” I tell her, shaking the rain from my still totally soaked rain jacket.

She leads me into the designated blood-giving area, and instructs me to sit down in what is the oversized medical equivalent of a La-Z-Boy recliner which you might put in your living room if this piece of furniture were not covered in an opaque vinyl material. “Cool chair,” I say to her, slapping the arm-rest for effect. “Yeah,” she says, “The older patients don’t like it, though, because it’s hard for them to get up out of.” And I can see that.

She takes my blood, and then double takes the outfit that I am wearing today, which happens to occupy every spectrum of blue on the color wheel. Which might reflect a total lack of caring on my part or a very calculated leaning toward conceptualizing myself as a smurf-like cartoon character, which makes things easier and less Intense in some roundabout way.

“Blue is your color,” she says to me. Which, when you objectively examine the facts, seems irrefutably true.



So many weeks later, the resident mouse has eluded the plastic coffin, no matter what variety of treats we may be sticking in there. (Which have been along the lines of the cliché offerings of gourmet cheese. Which begs the very logical question, is this an alternative lifestyle-living mouse, and does it not consume dairy?).

I had even considered constructing a DIY-variety trap after consulting various manuals online. Some of which range from the insanely elaborate to the less foolproof offerings, with hand drawn diagrams shown. Although, in the end, none of these things seemed particularly plausible to me. No; I imagined that one day the gray coffin would have to do the trick.

A couple of calls on the job front. It probably won't be long, now.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Don't I know you better than the rest

Albs 'man cave'.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

What did I do/ can you save me
Walking up the road, a smooth and inconspicuous walk, always keeping an eye out for some hackneyed acquaintance behind every street corner—someone I met in a bar the other night, or an ancient figure I attended high school with, who vigorously wants to sell me a life insurance policy, “Ground Hog’s Day”-style.

Down Hamilton and across Dove, a small black car is sizing up an impossibly small parking space, between two cars. I know this dilemma, live in this neighborhood, and experience it routinely (although, actually, I don’t have a job and am at leisure, like my seventy year-old neighbors, to move my car to either side of the street at twelve pm, when the parking limitations dissolve, giving a cordial wave to the geriatric set for effect). I realize this car has no chance of fitting into the tiny parking space, and offer to the driver my very choice parking spot which I will be momentarily leaving from, ten feet up the road. “Oh, really??” the driver of this compact automobile asks me, his face a veritable cherry of jubilee. I get into my car, and as I do, he issues one more demonstration of gratitude, as if I’m giving him thirty dollars and guiding him to the nearest liquor store. “Thanks again, sir!” he shouts from his window, as I hold up my hand in the air, which could be a gesture that says, 'you’re welcome' or may very well mean 'fuck you.'

It is not long before I am wondering about the implications of this nice gesture of giver-of-parking-spaces that I have just added to my cosmic resume and issued to the universe. Will something awesome happen to me in return for offering up my choice parking spot? I am only driving across town to go to a doctors appointment and realize that I probably will not find a similar parking space when I return, beating out new york state employees, who are charged at the most basic levels of DNA, veritably programmed to find parking spaces in my neighborhood, like Darwinistic champs. But I also realize, simultaneously, that self-conscious acts of altruism may not get you anywhere, trying to switch off this impulse of self-reflection, as though some giver of favorable karma is monitoring my thoughts. But ah, well, I realize: It’s probably too late. I’ve probably already been caught, which the very existence of a doctor’s appointment may go the distance to prove.

Into the doctor’s office, the mundane interior of the hallway giving way, through the coarse glass of the waiting room door, to the mundanity of the waiting room itself. A small, mousy-looking woman looks fearfully at me as I approach the reception desk and tell her my name. She flips through a pile of  folders before finding a billowy manila folder which contains my chart and tells me to sit. There’s always some weird vibe in here, I realize, pervading the waiting area like a pestilent gas, noxiously filling the whole entire doctor’s office, and prolonging your wait into some obnoxious infinitum of time. I have some weird skin rash, but some of these people, I conjecture, are here for less benign-seeming things.

At the edge of the waiting room, a flannel-shirted man sits, tapping his work boot nervously, not reading a magazine, and just staring straight ahead. I wonder what he’s here for? I think to myself. He has knocked off at the construction sight for the morning, maybe, and instead of pounding nails or moving large pieces of steel which will one day comprise portions of a state employee parking garage, he has ended up here, instead (which, in a point of fact kind of way, would pretty much objectively sign him up for a lifetime of good karma, disproving my whole theory-of-parking spaces completely. But he has obviously not been building favorable things, it would seem, among which the doler of karma has included state employee parking garages). He was shaving one week ago, maybe, and discovered a patch of coarse and bumpy skin. And now he has ended up here, at the Terminus Point, waiting the wait, sans Time Magazine.

A woman exits the physician’s room before turning back to ask the doctor a question, and as she does the flannelled man issues to no one in particular, still staring ahead. “Sometimes I’d just rather not know,” he says into the air, as people look up at him from magazines, and then straight back down again, into TV Guide articles about the latest reality TV series which they will take in later tonight. “Maybe it’s just easier that way.”

Momentarily, I am called in to see the physician, tossing aside my own magazine, and simultaneously prolonging the flannelled guy’s wait for another few moments of not knowing. The doctor comes in shortly, and then I am pardoned, back out into the world. “Have a nice day,” she says cheerfully to me. “Okay,” I tell her, “you, too.”

Back in the car, driving ten minutes back to my neighborhood, I can’t help but think of the flannel guy, and hope everything turns out OK for him (as per the dictates of parking spaces created and cosmic influence). Maybe he is doing cartwheels in the doctor’s office right now, post-diagnosis. Maybe this is part of some grand scheme-of-things plan which doesn’t exist, and he will receive a new ‘lease’ on life, which he will forget about after ten minutes of formulating how he is going to live life differently, from that moment on. Who could say what is going to happen?

Back down the block, in the car. I know I will have to drive for twenty-five minutes, looking for a parking space. Up the block at a crawl, everybody is parked on the odd side of the street, because of the Monday parking restriction, which allows for the stoic street sweep, cleaning up the detritus of another week's-worth of life. Inching forward, and nearing my own apartment dwelling, where there, directly in front of the building appears, with rays of shine—astonishing even myself—a parking space directly in front of my door, which I lick my lips before nestling my car into.

Things are looking up, it seems. It’s a small recompense, I guess, but sometimes you have to take what is given, like a kiss on the mouth; pennies on a dollar, grit-encrusted copper coins which you will later deposit into a candy machine before blithely making off into the day with a sugary gumball to pop into your mouth, chewing contentedly as you avoid all ninety degree angles.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The ice age is coming/ better get a sweater or something (pt 2)

Most days, on returning home from work, TD silently retires to her bedroom to smoke approximately four joints, before rather seamlessly rejoining in the main room, to carry on about the night in this self-induced state of amnesia. Whether trying to avoid this same fate or it was just grim stoicism at hand, I had remained unemployed and relatively sober for the majority of six months, content to get by on blistering anecdotes in exchange for handouts from passersby. This went on until about five weeks ago, when grim fate did intervene, like some inverse edition of the television show itself, fucking everything up, and causing me to seek out drugs. I would stumble from TD’s opium den-type quarters, a confused and hazy sheen having fallen over my eyes, in such a state of lurid confusion that I actually did report to work the next day—often times to the total consternation of myself, when at about eleven-thirty every morning I would wonder what the hell I was doing in such grim surroundings, at work.

My only saving grace was wondering about the content of my fellow coworkers’ lives in between trips to the bathroom. Most of the people there seemed to be in pretty reduced circumstances, having fallen on tough times, because of the “economic crunch”, or whatever (which had become a welcome euphemism in my mind for the collapse of everything, and/or a good excuse for never having a job). I tried hard to find somebody to align myself with, and because of my rather successful unemployment streak, chose to chat it up with a forty-something housewife. We had probably been leading similar lives, I thought to myself, and conjectured that we might have something to talk about.

“How do you like it here?” she asked me on my second day, solidifying the fact that she also knew, intrinsically, that we had something in common. “Oh, you know; it’s OK,” I lied, always trying to conceal the fact that what this person may have been doing every day for the last ten years is to you evocative the most grim variety of despair, and actually, made you think of diving lemmings and death. “Oh, that’s good,” she answered. “I actually just started a couple weeks before you did. It’s going really well for me.” “Yeah?” I asked her with some hint of amazement, looking deep into her frozen face for some sign that she must be joking and secretly thinking of lemmings, too—just joking around for effect—a joke which we would be laughing about, momentarily. But the punch line never came.

“It’s really coming along good,” she continued, “I just kind of dove right in” (sic). I couldn’t believe that she enjoyed the droning, rather repetitious tasks we were completing for eight hours a day and stared into her face for some indication of the joke, which then made her uncomfortable. She finally bid me adieu, and as she did I stood there at the precipice, trying to avoid all of the cliffs in my mind. On my way home that night, I had hoped that TD would be around when I got there, I knew I was going to need something.

It was sometime during my third week when I defected. For some reason the job we were doing seemed so horrible that taking two hour lunch breaks and infinite trips to the bathroom to hang around and make calls from as though it were my personal office, seemed like perfectly acceptable behavior to me. I was just returning from my “office” one day when my boss interrupted me. “Can I talk to you?” he asked seriously, motioning me into his own office, which smelled markedly better than my own.

“What’s this I hear about taking long lunch breaks?" he wanted to know. "We offer a half-hour lunch period and two paid breaks.” I kno! I said to him. It’s just not enough for me. I then erupted into a rambling characterization of the ineffectual nature of the job, before suggesting the movie rental “Modern Times”. My boss had never heard of this movie, but nevertheless he did not seem to appreciate my rental suggestions. Our employee/employer relationship had at this point not broached the point of movie rentals.

“Look,” he finally said, “maybe if you feel like this place is some kind of concentration camp, you shouldn’t be working here.” There was a brief silence, during which I stared back at him, waiting, hopefully, to be told that I was fired. But then, inexplicably, he said something else: “You know, it’s funny: at the other location, where people go out to smoke cigarettes in back, there’s a fence which runs around the perimeter, and last night someone said it looks like some type of prison camp.” We both had a good laugh at this joke, although I guess it’s not too funny.

Life is a raw deal, and employment pretty much blows— unless you’re SG, in which case you have everything figured out. It is my lack of ability to figure things out, I think, or my massive ability to sum everything up so well which seems to be causing Problems--all deductions figured out between marijuana cigarette breaks in TD's opium den.

Monday, March 09, 2009

You sunk my battleship
In ten minutes, just to defy my normal routine of hanging out and listening to Thee Oh Sees with my roommate, I am going to abscond, just to see if I can go get robbed. I’ve never really been held up at gunpoint before, but I hear the opportunities for being mugged in the neighborhoods in front of the Delaware Price Chopper (sic) are rife with possibilities, another mugging just the other day. Me sauntering down the street, and an attacker just within sight, lagging momentarily behind. It will probably occur to imagined mugger with massive chagrin, as I have a life savings of about a dollar-twenty five in change in my pocket, but what can you do? It’s boring around. And I will accept any form of stimulation, be it a punch to the head or a stab wound to the neck, just as a deviation of routine.

I probably should get a job soon—I probably should get hit by a car. But these are alien thoughts, strange and disconcerting to the senses—such an anomaly of thought process that I almost don’t know what to do with myself. Rings of a tree, a simulacrum of simulacrum. I really probably should just go outside now.

Monday, March 02, 2009

I got more in common with who I was than who I am becoming

Chocolate chip pancakes with my sister, Kiki. Today is her birthday, and so why not schedule a hangout? It’s not often we get to do these kinds of things, mired down as she is in her job, and me, with my own goings on, or whatever.

As a child, my sister once bought me “cool clothing” with money she earned at her job as a checkout person at the local grocery mart. Later, she would drive me to high school, even though I was her annoying brother, four years younger, who would eyeball her friends with all of the fascination of someone witnessing the presence of some exotic jungle bird for the first time. She is, when it comes down to it, probably in a position to alienate me for all time, and with a lifetime of validation. That would make sense to me. But there she is, and here I am, eating chocolate chip pancakes in my apartment, after so much time passed by.

After breakfast, she relates to me about her job. I always find it weird that I don’t know what my friends and family actually do at work all day. I’m sure these people have explained these things to me, at one time or another, but I just don’t know how their job titles quantify. But then, maybe it comes down to the fact that most jobs, in my mind, broil down to answering phones and carrying out completely mundane tasks, for eight hours a day. And so it’s rather self-explanatory.

My sister works for a not-for-profit agency which is in the business of facilitating the wellbeing of people with mentally deficiencies. She explains how there is always some crisis going on with one of the facilities she oversees. “It’s always particularly unnerving when you have to explain to a family member how one of our clients has alleged that the hired staff has been smoking crack and touching himself in front of their son all day. That’s probably the most difficult part about my job.” Yeah, I say, “I could imagine that would be kind of awkward.” And if all that isn’t bad enough, recent legislation has been put in place which could hold people at the administrative levels of this rather unfortunate employment sector accountable for things which go on, miles away. “Hmm,” I say, at a total loss. I want to ask if she smokes a lot of pot, but think of something else to say at the last moment. “Have you ever checked out yoga?” I ask. “No,” she says, she hasn’t.

There is a conversational impasse at which point we look outside and realize it’s snowing again. “Hey,” I say, “See that pool house over there in the park? –On the other side of that is a gigantic hill, and if it snows enough, maybe I could go sleigh-riding tomorrow.” We have a good laugh at this, at how ludicrous and lightweight my life must seem (which is, when you objectively examine the facts, probably not unlike the lives of the people in one of the houses she oversees—the notable difference being not my lack of access to prescription meds, but markedly lower levels of group cohesion and poor choice of hair style).

I walk my sister out to her car and say goodbye, pointing out directions to avoid a sketchy neighborhood. And then she pulls off, away. On the way back in, I notice the snow is still coming down pretty good. Tomorrow seems hopeful to me.