Monday, November 28, 2016

Jimmy Considers Probability Theory

It began with one entry, but now there are additions almost nightly. Jimmy's dictionary of superstitions is expanding. On paper, it's perfect. Together, they conquer the distance between playing cards and slip past simple arithmetic. Except it's no longer as easy as wood, or salt, or railroad tracks. Jimmy spends each night understanding potential, what's dealt face down, the agreements: straight flush, full house. So he holds his breath, spits, runs the numbers--certain of certain dark chances. But when day breaks (and it always does) there's nothing to collect. Jimmy sits with what remains, the remainder. He sits without her, trying to steady himself, trying to quiet the vibration of a thousand shuffled possibilities.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Jimmy Makes an Impulse Buy and Alters His Space-Time Continuum

I have no five o'clock. What I mean is there's a gap. Empty space. Nothing. I never have a five o'clock. Let me explain. It was in the window of the junk shop between a case of pocketknives and a large hanging diagram of the human vascular system which is, I have to say, offensive as hell. That orderly red and blue map of comings and goings has got to be a total misrepresentation. I'm sure things look nothing like that once you get inside. Anyway, sitting there between the knives and the veins was this clock. I was drawn to the face, I think: gold numbers across polished redwood burl. Sure, I thought. Why not. A clock. I didn't have one. Didn't really need one. I've always been pretty good with time, but I thought it might be nice to have a firmer grip, you know? Boy, was I wrong. It wasn't until I got the thing home that I realized the five was missing. Totally gone. I guess I didn't look closely in the window, and the clerk was quick to wrap it in newspaper and bag it. So, you could certainly argue that I brought this all on myself. It's my fault. I didn't check. But one assumes hours are going to be where they belong, right? 

The first thing I did was stop drinking. Initially, skipping happy hour seemed sad. But when I realized I wasn't really skipping it but rather it didn't exist, I felt much better. Five A.M. is a little trickier. I can't say for sure what goes on. All I know is I'm always there for six A.M., jolted back between cold sheets. At that point, I usually figure what's the use. I'm up. I start making coffee and toast.

So, here I am. Every day, two gaps. Is it disruptive? You're goddamn right it is. But I manage. What else can I do? It's out of my hands. I don't make the rules. But I'll tell you what—I've got a hunch that somewhere in those voids, I just might.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What the Hell, America?

I've never written anything overtly political. I can't remember ever having a political conversation/argument with a stranger. Politically, I've always kept myself to myself. Vote and keep your head down has always been my strategy. I'm changing my strategy. Too late, I know. But here goes:

What I'm feeling about the results of the 2016 election goes beyond the political. I disagreed with George W. Bush's policies and actions but I wasn't compelled to write a single word. In a democracy, there are differing viewpoints and sometimes you're going agree with your leaders and sometimes not. What I'm feeling isn't about policy nearly as much as it's about character—about fundamental decency and our national image.

America, as a relatively young country, has effected some incredibly positive change domestically and globally. We have also perpetrated some heinous acts. The short list includes slavery, an extermination policy against Native Americans, internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, and segregation. But despite these dark chapters, this is the first time I've ever been ashamed to be an American. I lived abroad for many years and was exposed to many different perspectives on America. Good or bad, I never questioned my American identity. The reason for my general optimism has been my view that, since our inception, our nation has been on a slow, difficult, path in the direction of increasing open mindedness and inclusiveness. Most of the world admires us in part for this movement. There have certainly been setbacks and growing pains, but when we make mistakes, we take stock and move forward in the direction of more liberty and more equality. We look back at our mistakes and move forward. Last night represents our first national 180. That's shameful. I understand that moving forward is scary. There is uncertainty. But it is an act of bravery and it is this kind of bravery and forward thinking that our founders seemed to have in mind. Moving back is an indication of cowardice.

Trump's election tells the world that the American people are on board with racism, sexism, and bullying. We've never denied that these things exist in our country, but there was the notion that we were working towards eradicating these blights, not nationally embracing them. Even if Trump is not a dyed-in-the-wool racist or a misogynist, his message has been embraced by—and has energized—hate groups. The damage has been done. These groups have been validated and emboldened. It really doesn't matter if he (eventually) denounced their support. If your message, your platform, resonates with those groups, there is something fundamentally flawed with the message. A decent person would recoil from that message. Our president-elect did not recoil.

I'm most troubled by those of us who bought into Trump's populist rhetoric, saying they voted for him not because they condone his racist, misogynistic words and actions, but because they wanted a change—to send a message to the Washington elite. Here's the thing: By electing Trump we have condoned racism and sexism. As a country, we've decided to put our desire for change above our sense of decency.

If Trump is not a bigot or a misogynist, the things he has said and done show him to be at the very least an insensitive, indecent person—someone who believes that with privilege comes unrestricted power and impunity. That sounds pretty goddamn elitist to me, America. We've chosen what we purported to detest most. We've sold our national soul to an elitist businessman for a handful of Tic Tacs and a smack in the ass. Well done, America. Well done.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Pink Slip

To consider only the expiration
Date. The end. Time. Seems wrong.
            While you were out
My life took a turn
Of sorts. I mapped it but can't explain.
Phonetics is not my bag:
I'm an area, coded, numbered, an extension.
                                 Please call.
                                 I'm home.
Message: I remember most
Sharing a cigarette with you
On a rooftop above 73rd--the Hudson, water towers.
We counted taxis. You said if we got to 100, I could
Kiss you. Smooth operator.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Johnny and Steve Take a Turn around the Country Disco Bar

Stop carrying out your intentions and watch for my signals, Steve. You're too impulsive. I'm sure you think you know where you're going, but you don't. Neither do I, the difference is I know I don't know. We may well end up where you thought you wanted to go in the first place. So, just try to enjoy moving to and fro. Listen to the music. Nice, right? What's that? Conway Twitty makes you angry? That doesn't make a single bit of sense to me, Steve—but I respect your opinion. Actually, your opinion is complete crap. It's ridiculous. Mr. Twitty was a giant among men. Look, let's just sit for a bit. I think you're getting yourself worked up again, and I'm not going to pull you off another jukebox. Remember what happened at the Tip-Top Club? Now we can't go to the Tip-Top Club. Now we're here, listening to Conway Twitty and trying not to freak the fuck out. So, let's just sit and try to have a civilized conversation.

When was the last time you had an X-ray, Steve? Never? You're not missing much. They're anticlimactic. They don't really show inside, you know? I mean, when you close your eyes, what do you see? On second thought, don't even answer that because I swear to God if you say Conway Twitty I'll punch you square in your neck. Really, Steve. Don't. Lately, when I close my eyes I see flags. A shit-ton of flags. Acres and acres of them, identical, ragged in high wind—a blue cross on a field of white. If I really try, I can wash them away. But then they're just floating in high water. What does it mean? How the hell should I know, Steve? If I had to guess, I'd say it means that I really like flags or I really hate them, or maybe it has something to do with the wild fluidity of memory and the way that, as time passes, it becomes more and more like imagination—but who knows. I could be wrong.