Disruptive Juxtaposition

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Just now finished

~ An unseasonable yet awesome mug of coffee with hot chocolate,

~ Freddy and Fredericka by Mark Helprin, for which a review is forthcoming provided my ducks are not hostile to the notion of being put into rows,

~ A poem in the 2nd person, and, with it,

~ My eleventh notebook exclusively devoted to poetry.


I'd be silly to equate productivity with good poetry; I've never allowed myself to confuse the two. Still, to pen a final encapsulating quotation on the inside rear cover ("I'll believe in anything" - Wolf Parade) and to fwap the book closed... these things lead, maybe twice a year, to just this moment of quiet, uncanny contentment.


Health is O.K., incidentally. Thanks for all of your concern. I saw my doctor today, and despite a battery of tests he decided that, indeed, I remain the sort of strapping American youth you tend to see in all their raw profusion and staggering unremarkability in each one of these
50 industrious and budding states.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

It's the start of everything

I got the job.

His countenance was modified

Nursing a headache today.


Last night I was returning from the Big Top of Capitalism and had just pulled into the driveway, listening to this astoundingly average Marigold EP. An EP so average that its chief worth will be to keep it around in my record collection solely to instruct the curious and the musically wayward on the subject of average, blank early 00s rock.

As I began to carry out standard parking-the-car procedures, my right hand began to tingle. The steering wheel wasn't quite where my right hand expected it to be. Neither was the shift. And, as far as my right hand was concerned, my car keys were so slippery as to have been not only alive but also desperate to escape my grasp. I labored to fish them out of the ignition for way longer than is normally for any normally functioning person. As a normally functioning person mentally, however, I was well-aware of all of this.


I hadn't been drinking. I hadn't eaten anything strange. I hadn't been upset about anything.


This arm tingle continued as I tried to key open the side door. The keys still seemed like willful and evasive creatures. It was around this time that the tingle began to migrate heavenward along my arm, and even I, no doctor, knew enough to be concerned. Then again at the same time, I realized that I wasn't a doctor and further realized that an actual doctor might have dispelled such symptoms and such worry with a scoff and a waved hand. So it was important to consult some medical authority quickly, because we've all heard about strokes and sudden afflictions and people dropping dead.


In fact, just yesterday morning, I'd heard about a situation just like the one I thought was beginning to afflict me last night: a friend's significant other's cousin had very suddenly and without warning suffered what had to have been an aneurysm. This person had died where she'd stood.


On the kitchen table, underneath the lights which are often left on for me, was a manila envelope. Despite my affliction and concern about same, curiosity got the better of me. It was from the Fort Collins Police Department, and contained the statements of the attending officers on December 17th. There were four statements, all written in layman's terms. They were organized roughly in an order of descending pertinence to the case, so that the first officer there gave his account first, and the officers who took pictures and indexed the items in the room gave their accounts next, and so on. I read all of these in rapid succession without becoming upset. I did experience some conscious "huh" moments, as in "Huh, the white male they're discussing in these statements is my brother." I imagine that this account played a similar role for me that the 9/11 Commission Report played for direct victims of 9/11, in that that report, itself written in a direct, unadorned, and "you-are-there" style, probably served to reanimate that morning and its root causes by virtue of its simple language and swift plotting. Police reports, by way of their necessary emphasis on fact and what happened, are absorbing in the extreme.


I had not, at any point yesterday, heard any official word from the Las Vegas school.


I consulted WebMD and found out about Transient Ischemia Attacks, which portend strokes, and brushed up on what I knew about strokes. Because this is the kind of person I am, I decided action was necessary.


Discussions with family members revealed that I couldn't talk quite correctly. I had all of the right syllables, but these syllables were jumbled together and not forming the words of which they were part. I was speaking the way I imagine a dyslexic person reads. My thinking was relatively clear - I was thinking in clear sentences. But I was unable to speak the sentences I had in mind in an accurate, untroubled way. As anyone who knows me will understand, I was very conscious of how terrifying this notion was to me: I was unable to use my own language. Communication was just plain cut-off. And then of course there's an exponential increase in this effect when you're aware of it, because the terror I felt made it more difficult to think and speak, and the speech paralysis seemed to deepen and establish itself. Whatever had caused it, it threatened to become self-sustaining.


Speculation would suggest that my reading the report exaggerated my symptoms last night. Anyone have any notion of what those were symptoms of? But how odd it is that the symptoms began before I even arrived home. That's a coincidence, if you ask me. Still, the ensuing symptoms and the content of the report, and the fact that I didn't react to it as I read it but that, instead and strangely, I began to feel those symptoms accerlerate just after I'd read it, well then I have to say that the whole episode now seems to teach me something about the way the brain, when simply unable to process an overwhelming amount and type of information, must translate that information into something - if not into conscious understanding, then into another form of expression.


Anyway, my health's alright today. I hope all of you are well. I promise to talk about

a) Post-postmodernism / "The New Sincerity"

b) Recently acquired music

c) This particular posed photo of Jon and some other Gunner's Mates, about 12 sailors with guns and no-nonsense expressions, arranged in some Illinois hangar


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Good Ground - Excerpt #1

While I realize that this might be confusing to read outside of the context of the rest of it, I'm still interested in off-the-cuff reactions. Basically I'll set the scene just by saying that the novel takes place in the Hamptons of Long Island, and that there's a very chi-chi organization called the Northampton Hamlet Town Board which is dedicated to the ideal of founding and running a whole town for a certain stratum of the rich and the elite. For instance:


At 3:30 a.m. every morning the bakers of Hilsbeck’s Deli gather to enter through the deli’s rear door, the first obstacle to which is the two keys needed to unlock it, one key on either side of the door and far enough away from each other that no one person can unlock it, this being an adaptation from Cold War missile launch command centers. At 3:30 a.m. in the morning the needed synchronization can be a difficult feat, with some bakers choosing to steady themselves by leaning their foreheads up against the cold brick and just listening for the signal to turn their key, half-dozing. Once they’re into the main room they enter, one by one, the hyperbaric flash chamber, strip nude, don goggles, and wait for the generator, which powers up slowly and with the warbly rising note of an electric guitar about to overload, and finally flashes like a camera’s flash, this process searing off in one painless instant the baker’s outermost layer of skin and with it any sort of bacteria that could potentially find its way into the bagels. Off-color comments about this wee-hour nudity and skin-searing process are rare and, if encountered in recent Hilsbeck’s hires, quickly nixed with blank looks. Everyone’s responsible for their own flashed-off skin, which in the next room is airblasted from their bodies, sending onto the floor a dry white snow that they’ve all got to broom off to the shallow brushed-steel gutter that runs the perimeter of the airgun chamber. Estimated cost of the isolation booths and decontamination installations was vague but rumor had it was somewhere in the tens of millions. Then it’s a smaller shower room with jets embedded in the walls firing scalding water with an antiseptic solution; those who’ve been around Hilsbeck’s long enough know that it’s a good idea to keep their goggles on, considering the no-nonsense chemical compounds in the solution. Dressing in the Hilsbeck’s white jumpsuit is next. If Long Island were ever to be nuked, Hilsbeck’s would be, for those who knew about and appreciated the extent of its safety measures, the most logical place to find safety. When you think about it, it’s strange that according to the Charter there’s no need for hairnets. Getting all five or six bakers into the kitchen and front counter area takes about twenty minutes, although if something happens with any step of the sterilization process, a clogged water jet in the shower room for instance, they are to contact the NHTB Standards of Service Dept. Under no circumstances are they to proceed into the food preparation area until a tech crew’s been dispatched and the chambers have been fixed and everyone’s been properly decontaminated. These crews are actually surprisingly swift in coming, as though they’re constantly on call the way firefighters always are. Then baking. The bagel dough that’s been chilling overnight’s unsealed from their vacuum-locked stainless steel vats, which are stored in ceiling-height refrigerators with two thermometers inset in its door, for redundancy. The front counter area is manned by a cashier and prep person who, although pals with and sometimes related to the rest of the crew that had arrived and gone through the whole decontamination skinflash process, tends to be somewhat distended socially from the rest of the Hilsbeck’s crew. By the time the first hungry people appear at the counter—construction workers on their way to some seaside estate, usually, and sometimes staffers of local hotels and caterers, who know what their patronage of Hilsbeck’s will mean for their various business concerns—the crew’s boiled, seasoned, quality-tested, and sent at least a gross of bagels through the airlocked chamber on a conveyor belt that is, on its return trip, constantly being irradiated and dusted free of crumbs. Before it became the norm, morning TV news anchors loved to estimate the crowd of mobile diners in line with their open Posts, idling with bottles of juice taken from the refrigerators that are right there on the floor, reached somewhere into the 200 range. Think Zen is one of the mantras drilled into each Hilsbeck’s staffer mind as they strain to be become practiced in those swift and expedient motions that define the efficient food-service establishment—egg and proscuitto bagels wrapped in wax paper like a geometric model of some thorny math problem, napkins slipped into paper bags with the speed with which a criminal divests himself of hot dollar bills. Twice an hour, no matter how far out of the door the line of morning diners goes, one of the front assembly staffers is to leave their post in order to cart a ladder to the front door, ascend it with a spray bottle full of a gentle soap and water combination in one hand and a chamois cloth in the other, and there at the top giving a thorough polish to the plaque on which, in a protruding oval of black obsidian, the golden words “Northampton Hamlet Chartered Institution” are expertly inscribed. The plaque never needs the polish, but it’s in the rules, and it’s considered wise to direct attention up there as often as they can.