remembering irrelevancies

“no anonymity for trial, error, and…”

Diane Sawyer, there was never anonymity. There isn’t any, even in the subtle tolerance high school and college provide. Leave Britney alone! Here’s the part where she cries…

I currently write on the kitchen counter, headphones overbearing like the glare of everyday drosophila. The bullet planner’s now a host for lists, phrases overheard, and brands with new commercials playing songs I don’t want to lose track of. I listen to interviews from 2003, late into the night, well after reading what’s conventionally relevant sometime around noon. I eat my cereal with bits of banana, and soon, I’ll walk out for more sweet fruit that cues the flies’ song before I open the window that invites the least light.

The hallway’s angrier than usual, someone’s girlfriend arguing about how she should’ve been the green Power Ranger, ignoring suggestions to order pizza and sit back calmly with a cold Mike’s Hard Lemonade. I pour myself more cereal, sing David Bowie’s “Five Years” three times in a row because I’m sickly fond of the thought of a beautiful person unaware he’s in a song. Like a girl with her headphones behind a brick wall as I’m sitting in a car of a friend driving by, a friend who knowingly misses my apartment complex because wasting gas surpasses several hours alone in its vocalized comforts.

The afternoon brought the best nap in perhaps the last three weeks. No headache, bruised thighs, or wrists not wanting to work. Of course, I ate cereal before falling asleep, three bananas spread like a fan across the counter. No sunlight found. I only smelled rain and reminded myself that the library still charges thirty-five cents per item, per day that it lingers on the table. I wrote a list of every book I probably took home since I was twelve years old. An Egg on Three Sticks remains a novel I want to reread.

I opened that book a long time ago. Fourteen years. 2003. Yeah, that sounds about right.

The Wasp

Leaves rustle in the cardboard box my cats call their bed. I think they are leaves. But the tabby cat tugs at the gray blanket, scooting away, reaching for the fleece once more. I realize the rustling continues when her paws are off the bed. I also notice that instead of peeking inside the box, she’s set on keeping her head high, as if her body was immersed in a bucket of water. She blinks at me, and I stare at the box. Wriggling continues near the opening, where cardboard flaps were pushed inward. I don’t think ants are this strong, and the few I’ve seen this past month suggest that no one is using any sort of leaf for any parade or burial procession. Truthfully, there is no leaf, though a sliver of neon quite like the glimmer of a harmless soap bubble tells me that my cat is arguing with a wasp.

The scratching slows, and I see a pinch of fleece sucked inward. The argument may be moot. The wasp grows quieter and I hope it is happy because noon is the time for infinite napping. A pile of napkins sits on the counter and I count the seconds between each rustle.

Three,
eight,
seventeen.

He’s using all he has to scrape a song out of dead trees. It feels like a scalp massage, listening to him, while I reach for a napkin and grab a shoe recently deemed missing. He is not a horse. He continues to make noise. I place the shoe next to its identical twin, who rests on a shelf in the same place for months at a time, toe box pointing diagonally as if to scold anyone and everyone who can’t keep still. Including myself after drinking three cups of hot chocolate.

The rustling booms into a frantic rattle, capable of turning the heads of strangers like the fists of someone who realizes that the HELP button isn’t working, that she will stand stuck within this chessboard elevator. She can only hope that the walls don’t fall, that the floor doesn’t swallow with the insistence I see in this unhappy wasp that pulls and pulls on the fleece blanket draped over a cardboard box. Over one thousand seconds pass. The leaves outside fall, barely impressed.

Scraped Knees

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

“I felt she was bringing me closer to God.”

I think I heard Ryan Burns correctly, though years after, I still watch footage of the Arias trial, hoping to understand more about the murkiest depths of human dysfunction. I know none of these people, so placing any conclusions on the table leaves me stumbling for solid words. So I write, my tasks scrawled on neon Post-it notes, and I look to the door at the slightest “Where’ve you been?” that I hope won’t explode like old baked potatoes in a silently twirling microwave. On the couch, Mr. Burns didn’t seem to expect she’d explode.

People baffle and frustrate me in ways my meowing roommates don’t. I’m beginning to scare myself a little, taking a pumice stone to the bark on my feet, watching each callus flake and fall. I forget. I need these. So I hobble around, bending down to check that my toes are still straight, that the balls of my feet will thicken in weeks. The sunlight smirking through the blinds reminds me I’ve got work to do. Some jobs are pure dictation. Others are requests to “do what you do.” Improvise, begin, complete, and nod. But don’t squeak back in frustration, and don’t use your scrambled brain as the best you could find in your medicine cabinet after running out of Excedrin.

Trees outside are scantily clad, but the few leaves flatter like an office-worthy blouse. The sky might as well be white, birds on the wire returning, only to fly towards smudged windows, turning right at the very last minute. I’ve got several cardboard boxes. Perhaps I should cut the flaps, run like I’m dreaming all the way down my favorite hallway.

This week, I’ve been happy. Sometimes confused, but happy as I rub some lotion on my knees, for once not scraped.

Ah, those scraped knees. We find them in thousands of pages. Finally, after much of last year, I’ve got my own set of pages. Tomorrow, on Amazon, Scraped Knees (Ugly Sapling Press) will walk onto the scene of atypical experience, sensory dissection, and interpersonal miscommunication. Let’s give it a warm welcome. A slather of aloe vera and bandages that soothe.

Again, thank you all.

rosemary tangerine tea

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

I’m losing my way, or at least I feel so as I trip over my own sore feet upon making contact with a man riding his bike. His baseball cap reads “CIA” and I find my mouth drying up for no logical reason. Tell me about something that is logical. Show me cubes of equal dimensions, the kind that makes iced coffee so aesthetically pleasing on some Italian stranger’s Instagram.

The scarlet crawls across my face, but I advise you to look at my fingers if you aim to make a connection between changes in color and dropping temperatures. My heater does the best it can, and I complain when I shouldn’t, but understand that coldness has always been foreign to me, and I don’t quite know what a heatwave is.

I wake up earlier and write more, about things that belong on a word processor and not on a sheet of pretty paper. That’s not to say I do not enjoy writing about visas, deportation, that Oakland warehouse fire, and Donald Trump. But getting paid for poetry sounds fun, and here I am again, losing my way, stating the obvious, while thinking of how to describe St. Augustine grass in a way that commands several people to care.

Thirty minutes out of the day are spent on pilates. I used to run, but now I cannot. The corkscrew remains my favorite move. The gray cat sits still, wrapped in my cardigan, while Tabby peeks out of the futon’s shadows. I finish the routine, open the cupboard, and grab the tin of tangerine rosemary tea. Still, I cannot shut up about how good it tastes, blended with milk and honey. It doesn’t hurt yet, to drink so much sugar. I don’t think I’ve had my first cavity.

I set aside books that take up space, but I remember too well that there stands a dumpster behind a nearby bookstore. It’s filled with books, and according to someone who claimed to organize the shelves, these are books that kids were actually paid for. Somehow, this saddens me.

I’m saddened by the leaves torn across the ground. Articles about men (boys?) piss me off, and I’m still congested, on my fourth cup of tangerine rosemary tea. Perhaps I need a nap. Need. That’s a loaded word. The gray cat wriggles out of the cardigan I love to wrap him in while two people near my doormat argue about whom that was so callously “played.”

Seasons.

…just wandering out of my box.

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Jack in the Box has Wi-Fi, and their coffee is cheaper than Starbucks. I’ve got a fistful of coupons and I’ll admit, without shame, that Jack in the Box sells the best junky breakfast I could ask for, at any time of the day. I don’t go there often, mainly because the nearest one is across the money order kiosk I remember so well, thanks to two boys who didn’t look older than seventeen. They sat in a Chrysler, the passenger nodding over and over as he pointed to me, drenched in my ivory sweater. The attendant behind the window advised me to stand across from her until the boys left. After twenty minutes, she rolled her eyes and told me, “Girls get snatched up on this street all the time.”

I thanked her, left with my security deposit, and slowly walked beneath the overpass, remembering the safety alert from two years before about a sedan falling from the upper level near Martin Street. Someone died. I cringe each time I walk near a highway, contemplating the weight of steel and rubber against my brittle chest. A thousand, ten thousand, a million silenced pieces that wouldn’t be disputed to the degree that I’ve questioned the veracity behind Jack in the Box’s calorie counts.

Roasted Black Coffee: Five calories.
Iced Coffee, Flavored: One hundred eighty to two hundred ten calories.

Black coffee sounds too good to be true, but what do I know of its truth? Without sweetened creamer, I often opt for tea. That too was on the menu, something around one hundred calories.

Hell, I’m not scared of calories, but I know I must stray from caffeine and processed sugars. I’ve just now adjusted myself to a proper sleeping schedule. My routine would take months to rectify if I toy with it again.

No one dines in at this Jack in the Box. The tables and floors are bleached to a modest gloss. I wonder if this is one of those spots where “girls get snatched up.” I suggest to myself that this may be one of those spots to get work done, with the coupons I have and the Wi-Fi stickers slapped on every door.

The police academy’s several blocks down, but it’s not the place to call when someone crawls through the drive-through window, angry that truly, Jack ran out of his awesome bacon n’ cheese potato wedges. I often think of the worst, and again, I toss away the idea of writing at a restaurant. The last time was at a McDonald’s, where I was reprimanded by a manager for swaying to Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose.”

“You’re disturbing my customers,” the manager snapped.

It’s hard to consolidate life’s taunting list of things that disturb the conscience.

The Cashew and the Avocado

November 16th, 2016

I’ve been having the oddest dreams lately, mostly involving my cats. Often, they are dressed ridiculously (in these dreams). Tabby as a cashew nut or some candied pecan, Batman as an avocado. Batman paces back and forth, growling even after he eats. I suspect he wishes to lead a populist movement, though he may have to start by convincing the baby birds who nest on the window ledge that joining may not be a bad idea. Tabby has learned to grin, and her deliberate winking scares me. I gave her an old work shirt that no longer fits me. She sleeps on it each night.

One thing I must remark on are the questions. They’re no longer asked. I got two cats and now I’m exempt from inquiries as to why I don’t push a stroller down a sidewalk hosting lazily scattered leaves. My chest does not hurt so much, though my joints ache. My feet and ankles go sore the longer I walk. Unfortunately, ASMR videos involving the feet have little to no effect on me. I don’t really think I should be mentioning this anymore. Things could certainly be worse. Hell, I work from home now.

Combine freelance writing and insomnia, and I find myself building an archive of outrageous Dr. Phil episodes and documentaries on high profile court cases. I wasn’t paying attention when Jodi Arias did a headstand when she thought the country wouldn’t see. Now, I’m intrigued, perhaps motivated to continue with some silly outline I drafted at age fifteen, about religion and prostitution. My friends at the time were honest, and told me my ideas sucked.

Around five in the morning, I wrote a short story. I finished at ten. Looked it over, and sent it to a journal I thought was most appropriate. Finished several articles on employment law and went through some drafts of stories I could build upon. All these deadlines fall in late November or early December.

Looking out the window, I admit I’m not too good at predicting the weather. The climate of this morning’s story is bitingly cold, how I’d like it. I walked outside to buy milk, the brightness advising me that my preferences would not be accommodated. At least for today.

take me home and back, please.

November 5th, 2016

I’m traveling back to roads of familiarity, hands clasped in the passenger’s seat as I smirk in feigned longing. The driver asks me where I’m from. I tell him, “I don’t know.”

“So why are we driving thirty minutes out?” I want to tell him about the article I read about an Uber driver making $526.04 driving someone from Miami to a Seattle coffeeshop. I decide not to, as I’m terribly sleepy.

I know we’re heading home. Haystacks, goats, water towers advertising names of cities that promise Suburbia and the absence of beatings in apartment complex parking lots that require residents’ intervention that’s intricate as that Rube Goldberg contraption some of us drew in seventh grade. The body found in the drainage ditch of the newest elementary school is something we all would agree never happened.

Another cluster of goats, the sky graying yet dry as the palms of those never venturing beyond the gates that keep their family businesses safe. Cottages cram five miles down, a dilapidated marquee yelling “Go Trump Go!” I’m pretty sure the last “O” is a zero. Resourceful types, I’m guessing. I’m also pretty sure I may need new glasses. I hold my breath as a cardboard box tumbles across the road, one flap torn as one would expect of a bird’s wing when the local cats aren’t sleeping. The box hits the poll of the withered marquee, and I remember that I had already taken care of all that ballot business two days before. None of my checkmarks would be found in that box.

“What doctor are you seeing?” The driver is striving for life, I can tell. The road is gray, the sky is gray, my sweater is gray, his jacket gray. I have never liked questions. Only the finality of statements.

I turn to the driver briefly and notice a chapped, bitten lip. “I have been referred to a specialist.” I look at him for two minutes more. My words do not seem to register.

I decide not to tell him the suite number, though he pulls into the area without much trouble. I’m counting the buildings, one through sixteen. He drops me off at number eleven.

“An animal hospital?” He frowns, noting that I entered the car with just my purse.

“Yes. It’s…for a friend.” I look to the building, pretending it’s open on Saturdays, while the hours on the glass door state otherwise. “Thank you.”

“Be safe, okay?” He gives me a thumbs up.

“I will.” I’m ready to weave through several offices, to wait at the office I was in truth referred to, but only when I’m sure that no one can see.