Monthly Archives: November 2008

Sitting Alone in My Kitchen

Tonight is quiet. It is not lonely. Just quiet and alone. Accompanying my wandering thoughts is a steady rainfall that will soon become silent snow. The streetlights outside my window run along the entire length of my block in muted yellows. The cars that drive by sound like a coat zipper and their red lights blend with the yellow lights from above.

It is raining and I am sitting alone in my kitchen.

It seems darker outside than usual. And brighter inside. The fluorescent light above me is harsh and annoying — reminding me I am alone in my kitchen and it is dark outside. And raining.

My pen casts a faint shadow on my yellow paper.

Besides the rain and the darkness and the general sense of alone-ness, there is no football on television tonight. College or otherwise. I don’t like when there isn’t a football game on and I’m alone. It is what I watch when I don’t want to think. Don’t want to be involved in a story. Just want to observe distant collisions between others. Ignore my own.

I read today that America may split into six separate countries. West Coast, Texas, East Coast, Northern States and a couple others. That seems insane like $4 gas. But that happened. And now I’m paying $1.72. So, everything ebbs and flows. The downfall of America today. The strength of the dollar the next. In my email today I read that I should travel to London. That the American dollar is at a five-year high against the British pound. Never mind that no one has any of the strong dollars. That billions are being spent by our government to save companies that should fail. That deserve to fail.

Anyway. It is dark and raining. I am in my kitchen alone reading and wondering whatching the orange lights and listening to the zippers zip by my apartment.

Michigan Basketball

I need to jump in now and become a fan of Michigan basketball, which I never have been. Ever. Even when I attended Michigan, I went to one game when my family was in town. I sat way up in the nose bleed section and probably spent more time talking, snacking and texting that actually watching Michigan win or lose.

But the tide seems to be turning and, while I am not a huge college basketball fan, except during March Madness when everyone is, I think I can get into the games. We’ve got a new coach and, from what I saw last night, a lot of solid new players. Plus, I need a crutch with the impending close of a dismal football season and no possibility of a bowl game this year.

I fully expected to get trounced by #4 ranked UCLA last night. I was going to play the punching bag at my UCLA friend’s house. Figured it would be a chance to hang out, drink a beer, and watch a game I was sure to lose. Then, we clawed back from a poor start. Down 9 to 1 I was laughing and writing the game of. Ten minutes later, there was a crumb of hope on my otherwise empty plate. Very empty plate.

So, off to a 3-0 start. Not much, but far better than the last decade. Perhaps we’re finally shrugging off the Chris Webber fab-five curse.

Now, #2 Duke tonight. Yeesh. Maybe I spoke too soon!

GO BLUE!

Cracked Heart

His heart was cracked. With each slow breath of dry Midwestern air he winced. His eyes watered, not only from sadness, but from the shriek in his chest. As he lay picture still in his room his mind replayed what went wrong and forgot to remember what went right. The pain made him numb. Except for the cracked heart, which was un-numb-able.

Sometimes when she was not looking he tried to push the fractions of his heart back together. He would place his left palm on the left side of his ribcage and his right palm on his sternum. Then he would feel with his fingertips for the crack deep beneath tissue and bone and press his palms firmly together. He did this until beads of salty sweat stung his eyes and his butter-cream complexion was splotchy red. Nothing in his life had been so hard as this.

*****

I wish I could pound my chest like a savage beast and break my own heart, but that is not how fractured hearts work. Instead I am left to mend it myself and to hope she will lend a hand when I grow weak.

Written from 11:11 pm to 11:31 pm on Tuesday, November 18, 2008 in my apartment in Concord, NH.

How Coffee Works

More like how caffeine works. And you’ll find a much more thorough explanation here, where I read about this. But here is the gist:

  • If you have never consumed caffeine before, it will initially increase your focus.
  • Saturation of this increase occurs after just two to three weeks of consumption.
  • At that point, the caffeine no longer increases your focus. Instead, you need it to reach your normal level of thinking.
  • Drinking more coffee will not further increase your focus once you’ve reached the saturation point.
  • Merely abstaining for five to ten days will return you to normal levels form saturation levels.

Self-Conscious: Part 2

I dream a lot. Even while awake. It is one of the only ways, besides camping alone, that allows me to escape the obviousness of everyday life. Dreaming reminds me that even if I know everything that is going on with those around me that I still remain a mystery to myself. I can still feel alone. Others may know me better than I know myself. I can not help that. No one can.

I walk to work in my uniform dark gray suit and navy tie. I feel like I look sharp. Others take notice. A working woman glances my way, catching my eye for a brief moment. This happens everyday. To all of us. We are led on and let in to others lives, if only for broken shards of time. She has grass green eyes, which makes it seem as if I am staring straight through her head to the lawn behind. An imperceptible shudder refocuses my attention on the sidewalk ahead. The woman is past.

“I would like an everything bagel toasted with egg and cheddar. And an orange juice. Please. Thank you.”

“You won’t get fat.”

I chuckle. She is always direct. At least she is that way with everyone and not just with me. I have put on a few pounds since law school. I have not seen the gym in awhile. She knows that as well as I do. That knowledge does not stop either me from ordering or her from serving. Our worlds go around.

As I leave the The Hole, an establishment not only in my life, but in this town, I flash back to this bagel place I used to frequent that sold pizza bagels and for a moment I want to be in college again. Young. Goofy. Riding my bike.

Self-Conscious: Part 1

The ceiling is always there in the morning when I wake up. Thank God. I think this as I roll out of bed and plant my feet firmly on the short brown carpeting. My apartment feels cold. I turned the heat off last night when I returned from the gym. Hoping to cut my sweat. The coffee pot is already full. I can smell the full bodied flavor of Folgers in the morning. The smell is intoxicating as I walk through the small kitchen of my apartment on my way to the bathroom.

I pee for a long time. Then brush my teeth. Then place my hands on either side of the sink and stare into my own eyes. There is nothing there yet. It is too early. Every day it is too early to see much of anything inside myself. I note my gray hairs. I note that they are like aliens invading the landscape of my head. Long ago, I didn’t believe in gray hairs. They weren’t even in my universe. Now, well. I have proof of gray hair on scalp.

We all grow up, I think to myself as I start the shower. I pour myself a cup of coffee to set next to the shower. It is the warmth and the taste I like. I have no use for the caffeine. High on life, I like to say. People hate that. But there is a lot to live for in this world.

Movie: Quantum of Solace

I saw the latest James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace last night in a packed theater. I was thoroughly entertained from the opening scene to the credits. However, the movie was odd to me. It was one of the most subtle Bond movies I can remember seeing. There were no gadgets. The typical “Bond girl” flesh quota wasn’t met. I don’t recall the line, “Bond. James Bond.” Even the “Shaken. Not stirred” line was delivered differently.

The movie was darker — sad almost. Simple. Almost entirely believable.

Rejection

A man walks on the shoulder of highway whatever. At the top of a small knoll in the road, he is silhouetted against the infinite darkness each time a car drives by. The headlights burn into his back and illuminate the path ahead. Each rain drop seems to reflect an individual sorrow the driver cannot see. Each drop falls onto the sandpaper-pavement adding traction to an otherwise slippery walk from and to. There are no destinations for a man tonight. His hopes of salvation fell down under the horizon when the sun set. This is something even a firm thumb and a kind smile will not get him out of.

At midnight by a man’s estimation, a gas station, closed for the night, comes into sight. The back light is on to ward off would be crooks. A man is not a crook, though. He is more like a moth drawn towards the lamp-light. A man will not get burned tonight, however. He is lost. He is lonely. He is sad. But he is not doomed. Not tonight, at least.

Next to the bundles of damp firewood and stacks of salt licks and between purple bottles of windshield washer fluid and the front door, a man sits down to rest his sore feet. His socks are damp and he wonders if he should take his shoes off. Is he going to walk anymore tonight? Or is this a good enough place to shiver for a few hours before moving on? He removes his shoes and sets them beneath his seat to insulate his aching tailbone from the chilling cement sidewalk fronting the gas station. A man pulls his tattered fedora down so that it rests upon his nose. He breaths deep the cold air of the wet night and hugs himself hard to warm his core. At this moment he is too tired to think of where he wishes he could be.

Idle Tuesday

Earlier today I was walking in the cold from my car to school. White Park, which surrounds an unfrozen pond that will be later used for ice skating or merely slipping around in shoes, was to my left. I was on my way to school to study more law. Something I do a lot of these days, and am honestly anxious to stop doing. (Of course I’ll be a life-long learner. Of course I’ll always be learning about the law. But not by sitting in class listening to professors drone on. And on. No sir. By doing.)

So, the park was on my left. A road was on my right. A major road by Concord, New Hampshire standards. Ahead of me was the school, which, as I strode awkwardly past an idling car waiting for me to pass, seemed incredibly foreign. I didn’t want to be at school that moment. Not at all today. It just seemed confining. I kept walking along, making a point to step on each broad white line of the cross-walk, counting in step. Fourteen strides total. That was my pace across the side street, where the car was still idling. I felt so mechanical knowing someone was watching me walk. I felt the forced thrust from my hip that was translated through my knees and into my ankles. I wanted nothing more than to own a Segway. Or be wearing roller blades. A skateboard even, although I am a novice rider, would have felt less awkward. But, no. I was stuck with my shoes. Shuffling. Tripping. Thrusting at odd angles, inch by inch.

Then there was this beautiful pattern on the sidewalk. Leaves like stars on the gray pavement. I stepped cautiously forward, forgetting about my mechanics. Then I stopped. The sidewalk felt soft. Unstable. Like walking on rain soaked grass. A car drove by. The school was still ahead to my left. White Park, with its “No Ice Skating” sign displayed in front of the unfrozen pond, was behind me. The idling car had long gone. I tried to move my feet. Then suddenly the stars gave way and I fell down into the sky.

Written from 7:05 pm to 7:25 pm on Tuesday, November 11, 2008 at school.

City Sidewalk

I have this image in my head of walking along a city sidewalk with you late at night. The street lights are glowing orange. There is a bench on the left. Everything in sight is covered in an inch of undisturbed snow. The path ahead seems to be converging on a single focal point with an infinite approach. We are not cold. We are not in a rush. We are just walking side by side. Holding hands on occasion. Talking. Looking back at our footsteps as they fade into the orange glow we leave behind.

Maybe most remarkable is the silence we have found. It contents me. I can relax my shoulders. Take a deep breath of cold air and open my eyes wide to all of my wonders. Most wonderful of all being that I am on this path with you.

It is moments like these when I most want time to stop. To let me have a moment longer. Because soon it will be five or ten years later. I will be a different person. Still wanting what I have tonight.

Written from 8:32 am to 8:52 am on Sunday, November 9th, 2008 in my apartment in Concord, NH.

Wanting to Write

I want to write… I want to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.org) and churn out a novel, but each time I have a spare moment when I could write I think of about eight things I should be doing like looking for a job, reading for class the next day, doing the dishes, running this errand or that one. And none are valid excuses. Nor is not knowing what to write. That is the point of NoNoWriMo. You just churn something out.

I did this last year. I’m doing it again. I’d like to write 50k words by December 1st, but that’s a steep goal. Very steep goal with days passing quickly.

GOBAMA

Barack Obama’s win last night goes down as one of the major historical events of my lifetime — the kind of event that makes me remember where I was when it happened. The only other event like it that I remember clearly is the terror attacks on September 11, 2001. I was eating pizza at the La Famiglia pizza restaurant (now a Jimmy Johns) on the corner of E. William St. and S. State St. in Ann Arbor, MI when I heard, faintly on the store radio, that a plane had flown into one of the World Trade Centers. I was shocked — scared somewhat, although Ann Arbor didn’t seem like it would be next on the list of terror targets. I walked to the fishbowl and watched video news feeds on TV and on the web. It was a surreal moment — one I couldn’t believe was happening at the time.

Last night was equally memorable. I sat in the bedroom of my sublet watching the election results on both my computer and CNN HD. Next to me was my best friend and the one person I would most want to share a moment like this with. I smiled. I didn’t jump around. I just felt relieved and happy.

Then, this morning, while I was on my way to get donuts, I screamed, “GOBAMA!” a few times. What a tremendous moment in the history of the United States of America. Definitely not something I imagined I would see in my lifetime.

Election Day

Today has been really boring as far as exciting days go. I voted weeks ago by absentee ballot, so I didn’t even get to go to the polls, stand in line, and pull the lever.

The only source of anxiety is, well, not knowing for certain who is going to win. Duh, right? Well, I’ve been hearing for weeks now that Obama has a solid lead. But I wonder if, like a mismatched college bowl game where the media commentators twist the facts to make the possibility of a close game seem more likely, I have been misled by hours of CNN.

The earliest east coast polls just closed on what is guaranteed to be a historic day.

Undecided? Really?

I’d like to echo the sentiments expressed by David Sedaris in a recent New Yorker article, “Undecided.” I am as astonished as he that people can still be undecided between John McCain and Barack Obama. Beyond the fact that they’re both politicians, they are very dissimilar. If you can’t find something by now that pushes you towards one candidate or the other — even if it’s a primal gut feeling you get by looking at them or maybe you’ve gotten close enough to smell them — that should be enough to go on.

I was thinking about what I would call “progressive Catholics” yesterday. How do you reconcile a political conflict with your religion? (Even if you have seen Bill Mahar’s Religulous?!) That is, if you believe in Obama how do you reconcile that he’s pro-choice? Or if you believe in McCain because of a specific issue, how do you reconcile that he may simply continue the mediocrity of the past eight years?

That is just a limited example that could play out a thousand different ways if you change the player and the inputs. My point is that you have the right to vote. You are allowed to have an opinion. Don’t waste either on being undecided. Make a decision and live with it. If it turns out to be wrong, you’ll probably get another chance. Or at least you can complain about something for the next four years and know that you actually partook in the process.

Or, as David Sedaris writes:

To put [undecided voters] in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.

I mean, really, what’s to be confused about?

Law Art Show Idea

I have this idea for an art show based on the law. I would display in clearly legible printed text various clauses of the United States Constitution, statutes, and case law. The laws displayed would vary in their difficulty of interpretation. It gets tricky at this point. My initial thought was to have a pad of paper underneath each “law,” but I’ve since wanted the idea to be more dynamic. Merely obtaining the observers’ interpretations would be interesting, but implementing their take on the law would bring the event to life. Perhaps their interpretations could be entered into a computer program with an algorithm that would weight them and change the original law accordingly. Then, at the end of the event (if it were to have an end), a new constitution, set of statutes and case law opinions would be released. In a way, it would be a microcosm of what happens in the legal system everyday. (Except the interpretation would be left to the people and not to highly trained judges and lawyers.)

Two things inspired this idea. First is the method of approaching problems taught in law school. Seek the issue. Find relevant law if it exists. Apply the law. At times, the process is a routine application of pattern. I.e., does my problem fit within the grid of a problem that has previously been heard? Second is the fine line between “the absurd” and “the clearly logical” in many cases — and the application of logic to the absurd.

Thus two of the things I would hope to learn from the law-art interactive show would be what methods of interpretation did the viewers use and how did they apply logic to the absurd. Or, if they didn’t use logic, what drove their decision.