I’m on the edge of greatness, or maybe just the edge. I don’t know.
There’s a mountain of gold on one side, and a fifty-foot cliff on the other. I’m in my fur-lined parka eating a cliff bar, listening to George Harrison play the sitar.
Has ‘art’ been happening? We’ve been feeling things, but have we moved the needle? Quarantine been such a thing…. Have we rated each other’s emotions? Where are the awards? Who can critique the fart I leaked? How do we know we have done anything? If nobody is there to gauge us. Send us into rage just because… I want an Oscar for my flop into the pool last night, drunk like a fool, singing along to The National, I thought everything was cool.
I swam to the Channel Islands. Pass porpoise and seals trying to make a deal. Santa Cruz is an excuse. Catalina is between us. Let’s put a cap on Anacapa. San Juan is long gone. Back to Zuma so I can resume a life that’s just a Malibu bird singing in the breeze. A parakeet trying to keep the beat. A sweet mango kiss from a boy that can’t tango or dip.
I do a double shuffle trying to dance outta trouble. My heart’s a Buffalo buffalo buffaloing Buffalo buffalo. we strung a bee on the honey and let it loose on all our money. And it may just be our fault that in the web we were caught we had laid a trap beat.
Down inside the vault… My money’s in Fort Knox. fuck yo’ paradox.
this blood… is it mine or yours? i can’t tell. At this minute, second… millisecond… we’re together. the biology of a million years replicating, exploding, combining, osmosis in action, attraction of every cell in our bodies. I have a hard time breathing. You have a hard time sitting. We’re both gasping. Grasping. Our bodies both melting. Time disappearing behind the veil of ecstasy. Why can’t there be more of this? This bliss? This penetrating stimulus… Why can’t we holler for another round? Pound the walls and ask for another thrall? Why can’t time stop still and allow us this thrill? Be with me when infinity is a little pea in a pod. Be my god… goddess, my angel, on the couch spread eagle. licking your toes and fingers, this tryst is whispers illegal. My love is regal, be my queen, I’ll be your Jason Segel.
8:22am. I startle awake to a text vibration. My dream is ripped out of my brain, like a toddler playing on the lawn that saw tempting blades of grass and went in for a good pull. I can’t be entirely sure but I think it was a pretty good dream too! One of those where you are viewing it like a giant blockbuster movie, and it was just getting to the climatic ending! Anyway, there was no way to get it back now. I told myself to tackle the day like an over zealous security guard tracking down a streaker in center field. I check the phone and it’s an alert from the city telling us we’re going to have one more month of lockdown.
I wondered what day of the week it is. The short answer is: it doesn’t matter. (Actually, that’s probably the long answer, however, I’ve taken to stretching every tidbit of my day out as much as possible, as you’ll come to find out I’m sure.)
8:38am. I question how long I can stay in bed. As you can surmise, I didn’t get up and tackle the day after all. There is a small crack of light bleeding through cotton curtains with peanut-shaped figures on them. I wonder who decides what blobs go on what household items and why. It’s day 23 of this quarantine. The more I stare at the peanut shapes the more they turn into something decidedly more un-PG and I remind myself that it’s time to get up, except I remember once again there is no reason except to move locations of supineness… I’m making up words now and that’s o-really-dilly-kay.
9:15am. I shift from my right side to my left. Now I’m staring directly at the wall. It’s blue-grey, flat – save for a few intentionally rough patches. I try not to draw comparisons to this life right now. It’s impossible though. This wall is a metaphor for this effects of this virus. I stare at the wall for a good fifteen minutes then realize it’s only been two minutes.
9:17am. I shift back to my right side. I begin to contemplate way too much about pillows and how many dead skin cells are absorbed inside them, specifically these pillows. Something about the dent in the middle of the pillow makes me think about all the pillows in the world and how there’s nothing special about sleeping with a pillow, factories churn them out by the millions. How much pollution is caused by pillows? In the olden days we slept on rough platforms stuffed with straw or hay. It’s why we still say ‘It’s time to hit the hay’. Well, some of us more nerdy, waspy types do. I used to admire the My Pillow guy when I would see those commercials, now that I know he is a shrill for this joke of a President I switch the channel immediately when I see his dumb mustache. With a heavy arm I violently swipe the pillow to the floor.
Victorious over the pillow, I finally get up for the day.
9:19am. Following a piss that comes out in quarts and in which I imagine writing a little haiku in the bowl, I make coffee. This is undoubtedly the highlight of my morning. I forgo turning on the news because I spent half the night lying in bed reading it on the phone. I consume the same particulates of information: quotes, statistics, ghastly images of mass graves, in a multitude of ways: on the televised news, in online news articles, or on Instagram news pages. How many ways can you spell disaster?
I take the coffee over to the window and observe the street. Not a car drives by. The couple across the street sits on their stoop and also watches nothing. We’re all waiting. Watching nothing. There is one very loud bird in the tree next door. Has he always been in that tree? Has he always been so loud? What is it that he wants? Sex or food probably. Isn’t that pretty much the objective of all life? I can tell that the couple across the way are annoyed by this avian nuisance too.
9:40am. I turn on the news. I can’t help myself. I don’t think I need to go through the effects of watching the news these days for you. Your life is like my life; which is like her life, which is like his life. A drone of doom. I shut it off and pick up a book I’ve been reading by Bill Bryson. It’s about his travels through Europe through better days. Before Covid-19, before Trump, even before the EU was established. It’s a comic romp where his biggest challenges are buying bus tickets in foreign bus stations and griping over the price of beer in Scandinavia (I’ve had a raucous night on the town in Oslo so I can relate to his pain). It’s a delightful read and feels archaic, and I’m almost finished with it. What will I do then?
Are you reading anything?
11:12am. I think about getting in the shower. I don’t. But I think about it. That’s enough.
11:27am. I pour myself a second bowl of Raisin Bran. I congratulate myself on my healthy choices. For reward, I put on an episode of Dave. It is nothing but lowbrow, puerile humor and it’s wonderful. I laugh at Lil’ Dicky and his phallus insecurities — his willy worries, if you will. What a simple thing to stress over in this day where going to Whole Foods requires a Mad Maxian suit of armor.
12:34pm. I take the trash out. I walk as slowly as possible, savoring this quality time.
1:15pm. I again consider taking a shower. I again absolve myself from such foolish shenanigans.
2:12pm. It’s close enough to five o’clock. I put a beer in the freezer to get ice cold, to reach optimal temperature for my drinking pleasure. There are six Totinos frozen pizzas in there. The freezer is stuffed with other frozen meals, vegetables, cartons of ice cream, an emergency bottle of Tito’s. I’m lucky. I have food for weeks in there. A bottle of Tito’s. There are families who don’t have a stuffed freezer, whose foremost worry is putting food in their children’s starving bellies. I would like to help these people. I’m sure we all would. Do I donate money to a food bank? Money I might need to feed myself if times continue as they do? I don’t know when my Industry is returning or at what level.
There will be other shows to work on in the future, for sure, but this uncertainty hurts. I’m 44. I’m too old for an apocalpyse. That’s a young man’s game. At what point do we lock the fence around the house, stick nails into the ends of baseball bats and wait for the desperate to come try it, hoarding our frozen peas and Trader Joe’s Enchiladas? We are far from that dystopian hell-scape but it’s something I actually think about now, because we are closer to it than I ever thought imaginable. For now we’re #AloneTogether… but at some point we all will resort to things we never thought we would just four months ago, perhaps eating Totino’s Frozen pizza, sober!
The song Mont Blanc by Quiet Hollers comes to mind.
I quote… “I had so many things back then, I had a silver Mont Blanc pen/ and I’d write for hours about nothing that makes any difference now… and I used to worry what clothes I had on/ the school recitals and the manicured lawns/and I had a laundry list of people I could count on if it all went wrong… and then the bomb.”
3:37pm. I go outside to stand in the air and breathe deeply. My lungs still work fine. The air is cleaner than it’s ever been in my life. The irony is rude, yet also charming, like a French waiter. Now that the environment is so nice, we can’t go anywhere. We need to remember how the air tasted and how talking with friends felt special. We can’t go completely back to the rat race. Rats carry disease, remember.
There are countless articles about what people are experiencing by staying home, not working, and spending day upon day with their thoughts, so I won’t add anything except to say I miss people. I miss talking to friends in person. I miss wondering what strangers are thinking. I miss it all. I hope some things do return to normal, not everything, but I hope we don’t create a world where strangers are not thought of as people but walking collections of germs that could harm us.
They’re calling it The Big Pause. I prefer The Quiet Reflection. Call it whatever, just please stop shouting “Coronavirus” like Cardi B.
4:12pm. I am still thinking about what the future is going to be like. I am afraid. It’s not a fatal fear so much, I think we will more-or-less have a society and economy and be up and running by at least by 2021, but I fear that it will be sterile (by design maybe, but still, a depressing idea) and lonely. Will the French still kiss each others cheeks when greeting? Will Americans still high-five strangers when their team scores a touchdown? Will John Mayer be forced to settle down with just one super-hot, famous woman? These things trouble me.
4:20pm. Ha. This used to mean something to me. It’s been years. Right now I wouldn’t mind a smoke, though. Anything to get my mind off John Mayer’s relationship troubles.
I put another beer in the freezer instead.
4:48. This is around the time we switch over from cable news to local news, to receive the same dreadful messages except with more basic graphics and the familiar faces I grew up with and am used to seeing daily; except now I get to experience the additional joy of seeing what Fritz Coleman’s living room looks like.
I go outside again to take note of how the sun has moved across the sky sending shadows into different corners of the street. A couple with face masks are walking their dog and they veer into the street to avoid me but smile, at least I think they smile by the way their eyebrows arched and their cheeks indented, as if to say ‘sorry we have to avoid you like the plague, you literally could be carrying the plague, but you seem nice enough, don’t take it personally but I wouldn’t touch you with a ten foot pole right now.’ Oh, well, can’t win them all. There are some advertisements in the mailbox, stupid coupons for ground beef, Tide detergent, and the like, and that’s reassuring. Capitalism may be getting exposed for the brutal, greedy economic system that it is, a failed alignment of priorities that places money over people, but it certainly doesn’t go down without a fight.
Also, who am I too complain? I’ve consumed with the best of them!
5:12pm. I scroll through clothing websites offering mighty discounts and load a cart full of things I don’t plan on purchasing. This is entertainment to me. I like thinking of things that I like, and imagine myself owning them. How it would feel to wear seersucker sweatpants, what a $120 Tom Dixon candle would smell like. I look at popular haircuts inspired by the show Peaky Blinders. I read about the best menswear stores in Austin, Texas despite having no plans to visit Texas anytime soon. I don’t know why I do any of this. Old habits are hard to break I guess. I think about calling some friends or my brother or sisters, but instead I turn to my girlfriend and complain about being hungry and ask her what she wants for dinner tonight. She says, “Sushi”. We both laugh, knowing it’s going to be pasta.
7:22pm. After much delay the pasta is ready. It’s full of butter and garlic and Parmesan cheese, and I’m quite happy with myself. Quarantine has made me a halfway decent cook. It’s loaded with calories, but what do we care? You can’t run away from your fears anyway.
7:30pm. This is when I switch from beer to wine. If I have given you the impression that I’ve been drinking a lot under quarantine, you’re correct. Except I don’t think I’ve been drunk once… it’s just a steady numbness; the colossal boredom propelling me to imbibe, my soul absorbing the shock by trying to distance itself from reality. My soul is on a life raft, floating away from shore, off into the vast unknown, perpetually growing smaller.
I’m sure I’m not alone. I think the collective conscious just wants to fall asleep and wake up when this is over, and since it’s impossible to sleep for 24 hours a day, we drink through the waking hours, speeding up the time until we can slip into bed and put another day behind us. Go back to that hopefully Blockbuster of a dream.
8:15pm. I remember Netflix has a new episode of Tiger King. This makes me happier than it ever should. I lit-er-al-ly, squeal with anticipation. My girlfriend is thrilled too. Joe Exotic gives us sustenance during these dark times. Narcissism, greed, crass voyeurism, subjugation of lesser beings (not talking tigers, I’m looking at you!), and obliterated sexual boundaries make for a good watch. I am sick of the memes, over the jokes on Instagram, but I will watch it happily. Blame Joe Exotic for a lot of things, but you can’t blame him for being popular. That’s on us.
9:35pm. I go outside and look up at the stars. There are so many of them. More stars than our feeble minds can ever comprehend. The nearest star is a distance we will never complete. The farthest star is so far away it’s probably wrapped around us in time like a watch that has flipped upside down, and we are living in its shadow without ever knowing, its old occupants faint ghosts we walk through on the way to the kitchen in the middle of the night. A shiver we can never account for on a hot summer day.
Maybe I screwed up everything Einstein came up with, but you get the point I hope.
The pollution-free sky means there are a lot more stars up there these days. Pins of light that boggle the mind (see above). When I was young I went to a sleep-away camp for a week. We took a nighttime walk to a clearing and looked at the stars. A counselor used a flashlight to point out the constellations. I remember thinking that one day I would know all the constellations in the sky and this knowledge would be with me always. Frankly, I’m lucky to tell the Big Dipper apart from the Little one these days. Ancient mariners used the stars to navigate across the seas in a wooden boat full of scurvy, lice, and murder – I need GPS to get from the Westside to Hollywood.
10:25pm. Watching the news again. Why? I don’t know. I look at my girlfriend who sighs. Going through this together, I feel closer to her than I ever have anybody on this planet, but after 23 days of living with me nonstop, I’m pretty sure she wants to kill me.
10:48pm. On the couch… switching channels. The BBC is the apocalypse with an accent.
I’m wearing my puffy vest and my fluffy best smile and the sun is doing a serendipitous swirl around the Earth, and yes I know that’s not how that works, but I’m feeling so fine I am willing to let science die; and I have a big day ahead of me; strolling and sunning and singing and being me.
Do you know what it means to be you??
A whole lot of testosterone and tattoos!? :)) A comically upturned lip and sardonic sense of whatever! A wild whinge when the wind blows sideways across the plain, parting your pants and shoving the cold into the cold crack of you? A crick in the throat? A thick coat… A quick ticket? A shot in the dark in the back of you. A unique tickle? A squeak every time somebody makes a joke that makes you uncomfortable? Buried in snow but feeling abominable.
Do you know what other people see?
I’m nine feet tall but smaller than the tabletop I set my halo on. I’m a hard-on with an hardened heart. I’m a gritty grin in the spin cycle. Be my Minnie Mouse, I’ll be your Michael.
I’ve got my striped shirt on and stupid smirk and I’m nineteen asteroids beyond Pluto, but I know what you know and when the right song comes on, and the time is right, let’s lock lips like an octopus. My eight arms painted-on grabbing for you.
Let’s really kiss like jellyfish.
Do you know how a person can lay a seed inside another person that grows until that other person has flower petals shooting out of their ears? Giant corn stalks shooting out of their socks? Do you know it feels to be furrowed and planted and plowed? Loved and lathered so clean you squeak when you walk?
Do you recognize the sound of being adored, like a reverberating bell that never stops ringing? Morning eyes that shine when you’re nearby, illuminated by your touch and laughter and even sighs, that can’t be contained by lids but only by the loss of hope… they penetrate me and fill me with life. At night, they lay me down and love me up and spin me around. The entire span of time, my birth and death and every decision and battle in between, is contained within this mundane but not mundane moment. Your hand upon mine, our yearnings and fears and choice of desserts entwined.
Is this the moment when the asteroid and the octopus collide to crater the sea, strike up the waves like a band, abolish the land, and make me Moses without the beard.
I’m fifteen fucking halos high, riding a tsunami. I’m waiting for my date, chewing on edamame.
I can’t believe how much a day can change. How a name, once strange, can become your only refrain, become the one that you sing in the rain… Let me explain. Today I walked out of the hospital with my little baby girl. Her eyes and lips and ears little pearls that make me tear up and fear stuff and brace for the weirdness.
Driving down Robertson, my head got in a spin, my eyes stuck to the rear view where mother and child form some magical voodoo, melding shapes and colors like I’m drunk on a fever dream. I never want to leave the scene. I never want to be mean. And I never will be, even if it takes fifty of me. I’m a dad now and that’s trippy. Take a left at Taco Bell, this little girl can make me walk through hell, pass the elementary school with the handball courts all blue, pass the house for sale that never sold, we get home, walk through a brand new door, a threshold I never crossed before. My heart’s lost in the Robert Frost of this prose.
Everything is different about the plants, the TV, the couch. The smell in the air. Everything is magnified by this tiny thing in my dream. This rosy cheek, this petri… even sounds like “pretty”. Sweet milk mixed with purified love — make me an addict to this dad shit.
I want it so bad, kid.
Her breath warming my chest as I carry her into the kitchen; forever flinching, but never showing an inch of it. I swear, I never loved quite like this giant bear hug. I swear, I’ve never cared like this, two lips of bliss, in a tiny baby kiss, blossoming, blooming blood vessels on her cheeks make me squeak…. My needs now weak. Her fingers pinching my own make me feel never alone. My knees go weak.
My arms are now twice as strong. My voice for a lullaby song. Your name changed the game. Now nothing will ever be the same.
Please. There is too much of it in the world already. You know what I mean. That feeling.
A self-immolating fire in your brain. The heat from wishing things weren’t what they are will turn you to ashes before you can do a thing about it. I’d rather take a breath, pour cool water on my face, call it a day and move on.
Today might be one of those days. Where you don’t think the world can get more mean. But it’s not the world, it’s people, and you are one of them. “What can I do?” ask yourself. “To not be one of them.”
I went for a walk down Fairfax Blvd. Pass the palm trees, sunglass shop, and the newspaper stand where I sometimes stop to leaf through magazines and waste ten minutes. Or use up ten minutes. Or rather, enjoy ten minutes being present and unhurried. It’s the rare thing nowadays. Nodding hello to the neighbor I see about once a week, coming back from the store with groceries, walking his daughter, while I’m waiting for an Uber, staring at night at a starless sky, I but don’t know his name, and we have never really spoken, but we know each other, maybe better than we know our closest friends.
Today is a day for remembering that life happens in the small moments. It doesn’t all transpire in the flames and the TV screens. It’s in the gentle sway and hum.
The bird that recently lit from the bough leaves it bending like a ghost.
I’m on a pier looking out at the ocean, in some place called Santa Monica,
and it looks like the ocean goes on and on, which I’m sure it does,
and I think about all the fish that must be thinking about fish as well,
and I think that thinking about fish thinking about fish is better than
thinking about humans that aren’t thinking about me, not giving a shit,
it seems, about anything, but especially me, and that’s alright.
And it’s on this pier, with this circular thought about fish and me
and the cycle of life and cycle of not giving a shit, that I start to feel
the absolute vastness of the ocean I am staring at, and the overwhelming
blueness of the planet I’m living on, and I decide the only thing I can do
to make sense of it all is to let a little loogie loose from my lips and watch it
free-fall into the crashing waves, my stupid spit containing my unique DNA,
joining up with the topsy-turvy pull of the moon, the tides, the yada-yada,
and there’s something about the unification of all living matter,
the universality of all sentient beings, that can be unwoven here,
but really, I just had to clear my throat.
So, you see, I’ve been thinking about the year 2020, and spending too much time on Instagram lately, and I’ve been wearing beanies but not low enough to cover my ears,
and I’ve been listening to modern music, and going to art shows that are fronts to sell T-shirts and clothing stores that are fronts to sell art, and everywhere I go I hear people
talk about the latest “thing” and as I pretend to give a shit myself I just fantasize about
my couch and watching a travel show I’ve seen before… I’m really not that interesting, but now I’m too old to care or do anything about it, and the world has bigger problems
then my need to feel smart or “in the know”, ya know?
And in that way, this poem is about Bill Murray. Because anytime you write about Bill Murray somebody is going to give a fuck. Which is funny, because Bill Murray doesn’t
even give a fuck. But you hear about how he doesn’t have an agent and doesn’t even answer a phone and does weird things like play golf and drink whatever he wants, and I wonder if Bill Murray ever wakes up and wonders what it’s like to be a fish… you see,
there is something at work under the sea that is so mysterious and ethereal that if we truly ponder it, it’s like grabbing God’s head and giving Him/Her (I don’t give a shit which) a noogie. I’m sure Bill Murray realizes that fish have never heard of him either, and something about that makes me feel good.
Isn’t that what life is about? Feeling good… whether it’s a kiss from your lover or watching the sun drown itself in the Pacific or reading a poem you’ve written at 10:34 on a Thursday? Maybe… and maybe not. Maybe there’s nothing to figure out, nothing to be “in the know” about. Maybe the ocean is there to look at and not think so much about, but then again, some people look at it and think “we must build ships of wood and risk out lives sailing into the unknown horizons to find out what is out there.”
I get that too.
Is this a poem, rant, or spittle of ego in an ocean of blogposts?
There is a shadow of a palm tree falling across my Ferrari,
but I have no Ferrari and the shadow is a street lamp, flickering,
burning out; illuminating a crackhead smoking a cigarette.
Or is it a blunt?
And what if I told you that I never want tonight to end?
Because if tomorrow began and you were not in it,
I might just decide to sleep in and not wait for
street lamps to do their 2-bit impressions of the sun.
I love a good run-on sentence… especially
when you’re lacking for something succinct.
The danger of putting yourself out there is once you’re out there,
you need somebody to throw a life preserver to bring you back.
Or maybe it’s not that, but just that once you’re out there, you
start to feel every bit of your skin stick to you and form a shape
that is foreign to how you feel inside, the silhouette of your soul.
And my soul is a Ferrari.
Hear it rev. Hear it roar. Hear me come around the corner
at 110 Kilometers an hour. Is that fast? Maybe 150 kilometers.
Maybe like light speed, I’ll be there. In Europe or North America,
I’ll be signaling for you. Pull me over. Arrest me. Tell me I’m wrong.
Maybe 200 kilometers an hour, I’m yours.
If you want to be scared for the future of humanity, just think about
how there are directions on bottles of soap.
I go out, hungry, alone, itching to blend in.
There is a chalkboard with the fish of the day. A lady on the phone
won’t look up. A list of names in front of her. Music plays overhead
that nobody in the restaurant knows who chooses it. And outside
are other people waiting, watching the diners eat their food. Everything
that is happening in this moment is made up, because I made it up.
Because life only exists if I make it up. Finally the lady puts down the phone
and looks at me, but does not smile, because I do not make her smile.
I could order Postmates instead.
I am home again.
I look out the window at the streetlamp.
The crackhead has gone somewhere.