Sunday, July 20, 2014

Episode 566: All of the Mistakes

I am becoming very skilled at drilling.

Numerous scientific studies have allowed that it takes somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 hours of repetitive practice to become an expert at an activity. Calculating the years I have spent working in the field, multiplied by an average of 8 hours a day (my days are typically much longer, and I often work Saturdays, but I was allowing for the subtraction of driving and set-up time), I figure that I am halfway to that pinnacle: I've drilled for approximately 5,000 hours. Perhaps even less, but my point is that I am not yet ready to qualify myself as an expert, merely one who is on his way to being good at it.

I may have found an actual niche. Unfortunately for me and my careerism, it is at the middle-age of my potential life; I am currently 45 years old, endeavoring at my fourth or fifth or seventh career (depending on what barometer ones uses as an identifier), and it is unlikely that I will maintain the physical prowess necessary to perform a rigorous field job for 20 more years, until retirement age. I am by far the oldest driller at my current company of employ, as I was at the last; my manager (who spent 15 years as a driller in the field, before being promoted to manager several years ago), is one year older than am I. Most of our drillers are in their early or mid-30s. It is a demanding job, not merely taking a toll upon the body, but necessitating a problem-solving demeanor, an ability to adapt to rapid changes and stresses, as well as the maturity to encounter failure nearly as often as success. The movie "Armageddon," a silly piece of Hollywood fluff, did capture that aphorism, if only that, when Bruce Willis's character opined that "drilling is an art. I've been doing it my whole life, and I still don't have it right." 

It would be hard to pigeonhole the trials of my chosen career, to explain what it is that draws me to it, as well as what makes it difficult. Many different jobs extract their own tolls from the performers thereof, and I take nothing away from those who act as police officers, emergency room doctors or nurses, teachers or software programmers (I know at least one person in each of those careers), I am merely jawing about what I know, and I know that what I do isn't easily done.

I am certain that your job is hard, too, please don't mistake my writing as boasting. I was almost embarrassed, for years, at the seeming meaninglessness of what I do, and how little I made doing it; a new company, and comparisons to a new slew of drillers who do what I do, has given me some perspective on the field. I no longer wake up every morning feeling cheaply underpaid, for one thing. I am compensated adequately, enough so that I feel as if I am valued by my employer, instead of feeling as if my employer was begrudging at paying me at all, as was the case with my previous employer, Mr. Summers, may he fester in a pit of mediocrity for all time. I also don't consider myself a clueless rookie, any longer; in just a month at the new digs, I have been consulted by many of the drillers, on many of the issues, and I don't feel like an imposter or bullshitting fraud when I answer.

Just like being at a party, where it seems that often a single individual holds forth with tales to set the party a roar, extolling multiple anecdotes, and you stand with a rictus of a grin, amused and yet feeling that your life isn't worth repeating, I had felt that my own drilling stories were lacking. My first week at the new company, however, the senior driller and I began exchanging tales, and I matched him or exceeded him, breakdown for breakdown, anecdote for anecdote, and I came to realize that I have performed in many unique areas and have drilled in places that others haven't and probably never will, due to the luck and circumstance of my hiring.

There is a relatively new monument in Washington, D.C., a memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. In 2003, I was on the team that did the geotechnical drilling for that. Me. I was there. Also, that year, we had a bizarre project out back of the Capitol building, also in D.C., drilling on top of a concrete slab that served as the roof to an underground mall (did you know there was a underground mall to the Capitol building? That's when I found out), using a small rig to core through the concrete columns holding up the roof, and instead of coring with a water-cooled system, we had to use air (something that is rarely done, and with which the senior driller was unfamiliar, so rare is it), because it use water would weaken the columns and rain down on the people in that mall, 50 feet below. I've drilled inside parking garages with ceilings so low that I couldn't raise my rig tower up without breaking it down to the minimal components, a mere 8' high. I've drilled on bridges too numerous to count, straddling traffic lanes with people whizzing by at 70 miles an hour a foot away from my back (they're supposed to slow down, but I'm here to tell you, they don't; almost everyone sees traffic cones as a slalom challenge). I've drilled in rivers and on cliffs, and everything and anything that can break on a rig or a truck, I've had break on me in a Murphy's Law manner (i.e., at the least advantageous time). I've been around the geotechnical block.

And now I've come to realize my place in the drilling hierarchy. Far from feeling pride or hubris, however, I feel humbled. It is a strange feeling, because it keep thinking I should feel a little cocksure about my experiences, but I don't, still all; every scar on my hands, I've earned, painfully, and every scar on my memories, as well. For me, ensuring that heavily-weighted tooling is strapped securely to the drill rig, before loading onto the trailer, isn't a theoretical good idea, I know it is, because I've lost tools driving down the road. Making sure your weight is distributed evenly is also an earned piece of knowledge, as slamming into a guardrail at 65 miles an hour because of a whipping trailer is not easily forgotten.

Etc.

Where I am and who I am is not accidental, nor is it a matter of pride or joy - by no means is it a regretful piece of sadness, either - but, it is merely the compilation of thousands of hours of trying and trying not to fail, occasionally succeeding, until I've made ALL of the mistakes, and feel no need to make them again.












Saturday, May 24, 2014

Episode 565: Saul (he of the scales on the eyes)

I have learned (been taught, really, by exposure, but let us not quibble semantics so early in the column, shall we?) to love the music of Radiohead, a weird band led by Thom Yorke, a British guy who is almost the exact same age as I (he was born just less than a month before me), but who has strived towards his potential immeasurably more than have I (that sounds gibberishesque; let me merely assert that I am not yet who I will be remembered to be). Also, I prefer "striven" over "strived," even though one is a word and one isn't. I don't care. Like James Joyce before me, the language must bend to MY will, not the other way around, since I have mastered what is acceptable and now create my own illusory microverse, pausing only long enough to ensure that those to whom I speak can grasp my meaning well enough to be baffled. My assertion, at the beginning, was made because I was listening to "Electioneering" on my headphones, as I opened the Blogger software. I shall perhaps embed the link.

Radiohead - Electioneering if you give a fuck.


That's what is rattling around in my head as I typed my beginning; the modern art of "blogging" demands a paradigm shift from traditional essays. I cannot imagine Twain or Dickens or Ellison or Wallace embedding a YouTube video while they were expressing themselves, but that doesn't curtail my behavior, nay, not an iota; I will not conform to preconceived notions of how to entrance you with my words, whilst using every available trick to do so. My words are still the sauce on the goose, the raison d'être, what makes me me, but I also have a Safari browser and the occasional joy in "listen to this! Listen to this!" (I wonder if we learn that behavior when we are hatchlings, bugging our mothers).

So, there is this new song by OneRepublic that I really have enjoyed hearing, and imagining dancing on top of my drill rig while hearing (a valid indicator of a song's appeal to me, is if I can visualizing myself two-stepping around the rig's mast, or fucking, while listening to it) called "Love Runs Out" (I think it is appropriate to embed another YouTube link):

OneRepublic Love Runs Out 

The lyrics are mere "shake your booty to a Tarantino bloodbath"-type expressions, but I will briefly dissect the opening line, for edification, and to demonstrate that there is more to Blogging than to scream into an empty ice cream cone:

"I'll be your light, your match, your burning sun."

We have three simplistic synonyms for forms of heat, or illumination, to choose from, here. Since the word "burning" is present in the lyric, I will assume (with forthright trepidation) that the artist is lauding his own ability to provide warmth, of a sort, to his subject (noted only as "your," thus far, little can be known about the subject to whom he wails, yet). It is an uncertified scientific fact that women are cold (I did a picture for Twitter and Facebook, a couple of years ago, hoping it would go viral, and I will again include it here). Since I am empathic and actually a "sweet guy," I feel that I must always  apologize for my opinions, if they offend anyone anywhere, and while it is also true that my skin is thickening, as my "fame" grows, millimeter by millimeter - I am HUGE in Russia I am appalled to be thought of as misogynistic, especially by girls (women) named Jennifer, and so I fear that I often over-explain, so that I can prove that I believe that women are awesome, I don't think Playboy magazine should be "Peggy Olson-ing" any motherfuckers, and that no means no means no means no.


Consent is sexy. I am living proof. Sometimes, women have said "yes" to me, and that is a large part of why I write. I was terrible at writing, before I had been inside and around naked women, and then I Saw, like Saul on the Road to Damascus. The scales fell from my Eyes, as well as from my burgeoning desire.





As I was saying before (as) I digressed, the author has stated that he will be a fire for the subject (I will not presume any attachment to the subject, although culture may tempt me to do so; since art, the best kind, is a tabula rasa of images and vagaries designed for us to imprint our own meanings onto, we tend to see what we generally see); therefore, "I will be your match, etc" might be meant to be, I'll be your body heat in bed, baby, because you're a woman and I am a red-blooded American male, the singer might actually be threatening to burn the fleece off of his favorite sheep. Who am I to judge? Other than the fact that sheep don't wipe their asses, very well, I have no Gag-reflex reaction to bestiality. I once worked with Guyanese dudes at a print shop who informed me, quite matter-of-factly, that their first sexual experiences were invariably with goats. Comme ci, comme ca.


Are women perfect, idealized creatures? No, of course not. I only think of the "other" gender, in terms of differences,when it comes to sex or hitting a fastball or squashing insects; women are men such as men are. The more we promote differences and inequalities and unfamiliarities and deficiencies, the more we wish to cling to archaic categorizations.




We all wish for rain, sometimes, if only so that we can stay out of it.




















Radiohead Electioneering

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Episode 564: Three Pieces of String

I wrote this last night, prompted by an attempt to socialize without speaking. At that, I failed, but hopefully, as a story, it serves well. Please enjoy, if you will.


"Three Pieces of String"


There were three strings that she placed upon the dresser, every night as soon as she walked into her room.

One was the color of itself, string untarnished, cotton bleached by the sun before reaching the gin; one was a faded blue, possessing echoes of the ultramarine it had once been, and the third piece of string was a crisp yellow, bold as lemon.

She performed it like a ritual, but without prissy or precise movements, instead laying them as a perfunctory act like removing earrings or unclipping garters, which would follow.
Each string to her was not a magic talisman or a desperate secret, but a reminder of individual moments that were imperative in her memory. During the day, she wore them wrapped together in a simple braid around her left wrist, seemingly a child's gift of a bracelet, unobtrusive yet omnipresent.

The foundation of the first string she had kept, the blue one, then led to the accumulation and safekeeping of the other two.

When she was six years old, she had a stuffed toy that had existed all of her life - that is to say, it had always been a fixture in her life; she could not recollect ever receiving it as a gift, for Christmas or a birthday: it merely always was.
It was a small horse, made of blue string and wooden blocks, cleverly tied together in some fashion to make it an indestructible and immortal toy.

The toy met an unspectacular end when she left it too near the hearth of the fireplace in her childhood home, and it caught fire for several moments before her father noticed and doused it with his ever-present cup of coffee. About half of it had been burned, and so she kept the other half for years (in a box at the foot of her bed) as a sort of terrifying reminder of danger and loss and the inability to bid farewell.

By the time she was sorting through her belongings and packing to go off to college, the old toy was a half-forgotten lump of charcoal and unraveling blue string. She pulled one long, uncharred string and used it to tie together some loose faux pearls her grandmother had discarded, and the string and pearls lay forgotten in her modest jewelry case for several more years.

While she was attending college, she began to experience the typical flowering of romance, discovering boys becoming men and enjoying the shivers she got when a certain student would stop on a path between classes and set his backpack down. The certain way he moved and shifted his shoulders - occasionally pausing to sip some unknown liquid from the thermos he carried, (probably water, but her imagination would tell her that it was margaritas on a shitty day and lemonade on a good one) and she began to try to coincide with his random pauses and loiter nearby.

She eventually contrived some method of meeting the boy, asking him the time or what class he had notes for or whether he knew what lunch the matriculating poor would be eating that day, and they enjoyed several months of ignorant love disguised as sex.

During the good period of their enjoinment, before she preferred to fall asleep early rather than endure another night of beer and XBox, before he began to notice the redhead in his Calculus class, they spent a weekend traveling to his Uncle's house on the Jersey Shore, a simple but inexorably magnificent miniature vacation from school and life.

They visited the boardwalk on the beach, where they discovered that they both hated it, and spent a day laughing at their shared disdain for carnivals and cotton candy and tourist shops and as a memory and a lark and a permanent joke he bought for her a gaudy and howlingly inappropriate and unwearable necklace of strung-together sand dollars on a bright yellow string.
On one forgettable evening of sadness a year later, long after he was gone from her life, as was even the rebound guy that followed him, she sat in sweatpants and an old button up shirt that had once belonged to her dad, and she was struck with a cleaning frenzy. Not the sort that disinfects the home, but the kind that discards pictures and remnants of old boyfriends, and the necklace was tossed out into the trash, as was the old string of pearls that had been ensconced in the jewelry box for years.

As she returned to the rubbish bin with another load of the detritus of life, she spied the two strings, side by side on top of the pile, and was struck how her life seemed to be in service of collecting string.

She retrieved the two pieces of string, eschewing the pearls and sand dollars, and rolled the strings up and placed them back into the jewelry case.

The third piece of string was the worst to acquire.

After time had passed, and she graduated and went into the world with a sheepskin in one hand, and a beggar's cup seeming to be in the other, she made her way to the employ a publisher of travel magazines. Her degree had little to do with writing or travel or magazines, but she found that she interviewed well and the harried manager that hired her was pleased that she was presentable and had an agreeable scent.

In other circumstances, she might have felt put off by the solicitous nature of her interviewer, but she had student loans to repay and plants to feed, and she ultimately married the man, anyway, and so she decided not to sue him for sexual harassment in her head, anymore.
They chose a house together, and he agreed with most of her choices in colors and duvets and rugs. They upgraded cars and plants and worried about taxes.

When she became pregnant, it was intentional and scheduled, and they eagerly awaited the baby showers and Lamaze classes and they nervously practiced happy fretting.

In her eighth month of pregnancy, she was walking to her car after a brief shopping sojourn on what she had promised herself would be her last day of work until after the baby was a month old, thank goodness for maternity leave, when she paused with a small bag of groceries, in the parking lot, feeling a cramp in her abdomen.

She had felt the cramps on occasion, the first accompanied by an uncomfortable call to her doctor and a rushed visit to the doctor's office where she was assured that she had merely become acquainted with Braxton-Hicks contractions. She paused, leaning over slightly in a vain attempt to hurry her body's sadistic hobby along, when she spotted a woman laying face down between the cars in the parking lot.

From where she was standing, the woman had rolled slightly to be almost underneath a silver Taurus, and it wasn't until she leaned to quiet her belly resident (Sandra, they had already named the impending female infant) that she had the angle to see the prone figure.
Hobbling at an angle, with a rapidly-increasing pulse, with one hand supporting her non-existent center of gravity and the other still toting the plastic bag full of whatever it was she had stopped to buy, she scuttled over to the woman while also trying to glance around to see if there was anybody else around who wasn't moving in a cramped, crab-like fashion, who could assist.
She approached the woman and called out to her, hoping that she had fainted or was perhaps searching for car keys or some other bizarre reason for her to be prone that didn't involve an ambulance.

Receiving no response, she instinctively reached for her cell phone, while nearly simultaneously recalling that she had left it in her car, which seemed agonizingly distant, at that moment. She reached out to shake the woman, leaning over as far as she dared, braced upon the Taurus, and she soon discovered she was woefully inadequate in terms of viable flexibility. The mere thought of bending far enough to shake or prod the unresponsive woman was enough to give the incipient mother vertigo.

"Help," she croaked, looking around wildly, feeling cramped and nauseous and desirous of immediate transport to almost any other location. The parking lot was, just then, without any other movement within it, and her mind raced as she struggled with the likelihood that she'd have to find a way to stand upright again, then race as much as she could to her car, grab her cell and call 911, when she saw motion that made her blood run cold: inside the very Taurus upon which she was leaning, and under which the woman rested, was a child in a car seat, staring back out at her and quietly sobbing. She reached out and the grasped the door handle, which was locked.

Now almost frantic, she tapped on the windows, to allow the child to know there was a conscious adult addressing the dilemma, and her mind examined the puzzle as she dropped her plastic bag and found herself back at her car and calling a dispatcher and made enough sensible noises that promises were made to send police and an ambulance.
She was back at the Taurus while she was still on the phone, making what she hoped were comforting smiling faces at the distressed toddler while speaking to the 911 operator.
When she completed the call and tried to put her phone back away into the purse she no longer had because it was in her car, her water broke and unceremoniously splashed the comatose woman on the ground with amniotic fluid. She was still alone in the parking lot, and so she carefully eased herself in a sort of controlled fall to the ground and from that vantage point could see a set of keys underneath the car.

Since she could see no reason not to, she leaned over to grasp the keys and pressed the electronic key fob and the Taurus's doors unlocked with an audible click. Sighing, she rolled over onto all fours and pushed herself upright from that awkward stance and used all of her arms and legs to make herself move in the direction of the rear door.

She opened the door and unbuckled the child, who quieted but still had wet and sad eyes, and put the child on her hip as she awaited aid. While she waited, she called her husband and explained only the portion of her story that dealt with breaking water, and assured him that she was driving herself to the hospital, which she hoped would soon be true.

The police arrived, and to her embarrassed chagrin, insisted that she allow the ambulance to transport her to the hospital, along with the unconscious woman (who, it seemed was a diabetic, as well as a conscientious parent, and had apparently put the child into the car before closing the door and then hitting the lock button as she collapsed, probably, some events are mysterious), and one of the officers followed in her car, and she delivered a somewhat premature but otherwise healthy and normal baby girl.

In the bag of groceries she had bought was some kraft paper, tape and string, to package some figurines she had bought on eBay, in a late-night moment of weakness, that she fortuitously had found a buyer to take off her hands. After she returned home from the hospital, she discovered the bag and its contents, and her eye fell on the string and made an unbidden association.
She recalled the other two bits of string she had kept - the blue one, from her first toy, childhood enjoyed and then lost; the yellow piece, her first love gained and lost. She decided to cut a piece of the white, unremarkable string, to add to and complete the unlikely collection: a baby gained, a miracle of life, but a purse lost. She never did find her purse, from that day in the parking lot, and it had been her favorite, a sporty little leather bag from Ferragamo she'd bought when she discovered she was pregnant.
Every day, when she got home, she took off the string bracelet, placing it in the same jewelry case she'd always had, so she could pick up her daughter from the nanny and so Sandra wouldn't chew on it.


End.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Episode 562: The Journal, August 1988

When it comes to my own mind and thoughts, I began saving pieces of myself around 1987. Until then, I'd never kept a diary or a journal, nor did I retain any particular attachment to any of my old drawings or paintings. When I stepped out into the world, away from the shackled shelter of my Florida home, I began to write down my own version of what I was seeing, hearing and feeling.




This entry is not so much a "trip down memory lane" as it is an attempt to revisit and reconnect with the mind I once had. What follows is excerpts from my journal in August of 1988, when my life changed in ways that still resonate today. At the end of that month, I found a job (that I would hold for the next 11 years), met the woman who would become my wife (for the next 24 years and counting), and in general became a different person.

Many a biography has focused on the "last days" of folks; how was their life lived, without the foreknowledge that it would all end? This journal is a unique insight, to me, of the "bohemian" Rob, the broke, unemployed, long-haired pot smoker who shared a squatted apartment in Harlem with his sister and best friend, who visited Greenwich village on a semi-regular basis to score weed from a bartender he'd met working at Greenpeace, or from an actor living in a hospice who was dying of AIDS.



The situations may not make sense to you, the reader, but just immerse yourself in the flow, if you will, and I hope you enjoy the ride. This will take quite a bit of transcription, on my part, and I hope you appreciate the effort. I am including some pictures of drawings and notes, and a cover from a Rolling Stone magazine that I keep tucked into the journal as a kind of temporal bookmark. Don't fret some of the stream-of-consciousness aspects of certain entries; I assure you, most of it is lucid.

-RJA, May 11, 2014

............................................

8-8-88

Further updatism:

Orgasm. Menstruation. Umbilical cord. Placenta. Puce. Lick. Suck. Pluck. Come. Go. Stroke. Fondle. Thrusts flaccid. Erect. Auto eroticism. Ball. Breast. Cream. Cherry. Spurt. Spunk. Jism. Hard. Insert. Pump. Jack. Open. Spread. Touch. Rub. Dribble. Squirt. Rock. Hump. Climb. Seep. Moan. Eat. Groan. Swallow. Tongues seed. Shake. Orgasm.
Pain. Discomfort. Ache. Itch. Adjust. Release. 
Quadrilateral.
Butane. Shad. Van. Buys. Creole. Debunk. Pusillanimous. Bacchanalia. Baccalaureate. Gentrification. Tenacity. Luau. Fructose. Promulgate. Insidious.
Unsullied.
Lecherous. Libidinous. Wormgear. Effusive. Cheddar. Oral. Lox. Impetuous. Vintage. Dip. Dawdle. Dally. Dreary. Hossenfeffer. Horsepuckey. Glutinous. Gelatinous. Ribald. Ribbed. Scrimp. Shrimp. Salmon.
Decanter.
Thank you for your time, RJA 8888

8-11-88
       A while back in time, as hazy temporal recollections go. I spent a summer working aboard a small sailing yacht as a handyman, navigator and student. I was an apt pupil, and quickly collected the skills necessary to pilot the vessel ably enough to warrant mention. On one particular weekend, I and the captain of the vessel, an elderly woman whose home was the boat itself, sailed south on the Intercoastal Waterway from Jacksonville, Florida, to Palatka, of the same state. The purpose of the trip somehow eludes my memory, but I do recall that's it was overcast and windy, and the captain's grandson accompanied us. Her grandson, Richard, was my age, and we began a rather amiable comradeship on that journey.
      Upon reaching Palatka, we lighted upon shore. In a large marina, one that berthed sailing vessels of myriad sizes, ranging from our own 30-footer to boats of 100-plus feet, some of the larger ships being berthed nearby in a holding yard, confiscated by the Coast Guard; a prison for ships, if you will.
In the free-to-come-and-go-as-you-will section of the marina, such as we had docked in, there was a huge iron ship, a four-masted ancient hulk that's a group of investors, to whom we introduced ourselves, had purchased and refitted. Our captain soon became engrossed in conversation with a small group of these worthy sailors, so Richard and I, being younger and inevitably more impatient, wandered back to the familiarity of our own vessel.
     After talking for a while, Richard informed me that, while storing his gear upon boarding, he had stumbled across a bottle of Canadian whiskey. Shrugging mentally, I agreed that it would be fine with me if we partook of the nectar while our erstwhile commander was otherwise occupied.
      We drank more than we expected to, I think, and soon found ourselves aligning nicely with the cliche of "drunken sailors." Thusly inebriated, we commenced to commandeer the boat's small dinghy, proposing to row across the small bay into which the marina was nestled.
Laughing shamelessly, we set out into the choppy waters, rowing along the length of the long dock that stuck out like a finger into the bay. After rowing for some time, I became tired (at least partially due, no doubt, to my state of intoxication), and handed the oars to Richard. He took over, but soon wanted a cigarette, and we decided to tie up to an old, rusted tugboat that's was tied to the very end of the long dock. I tied the dinghy to the tug itself, and soon found myself holding onto the iron wreck, because at that moment, a passing sailboat left enough of a wake in the waters to promote instability in our small craft. Richard stood up in our reeling dinghy, presumably to balance the floundering deck, and the water, already choppy and increased in wave height by the passing sailboat, began to flood over the side. The dinghy sank beneath the surface before I had the slightest clue what was happening. I grasped ahold of the side of the tugboat, and Richard, who was already standing, leapt aboard the much more seaworthy vessel.
For no apparent reason, at that moment I began to laugh hysterically, which, added to my drunkenness, left me too weak to clamber aboard, and I merely held on, standing up to my chest in water, my head laughing and asking for Richard to give me a hand. Richard declared that's he had to take a piss, and did, whizzing into the water over my head. After regaining my breath, I made it aboard myself, and we stood and surveyed the situation, while I chided him for urinating when I needed a hand, and he chided me in return for getting his cigarettes wet, his Marlboros having been in my care, since his clothing had no pockets.
     One of our oars was floating about 30 yards out into the bay, and our dinghy was a mere shadow beneath the sea, linked to a mooring rope that I had fortunately tied off immediately before the calamity. I leapt into the water and swam after the oar, and upon my return, we both hefted the dinghy and dumped out the water, before making our way back to our mother ship and dry clothes.
RJA 88




Is there dishonor that comes with the absence of the catafalque? Incense burns, I think I think.

a door begun upon the cliff's brink
party The Lord my sins to shrink,
pray my Lord, I'd like a drink
sarsaparilla, I think or tea that has been
acquainted with lemon.
The death is mentioned, but not felt. HE IS DEAD, IN GOD'S ARMS, but God has not come to pick up the body, only the soul. 

... And he could see the smallest of capillaries in her eyes, so lucid and our was his vision at that moment, and she said "it feels like you can see right through me," and he assumed that he was  looking "into the windows of the soul," but wasn't sure, because he was so infatuated with her eyes, not the promise of an ethereal spirit...

The tears for the lack of life within the coffin came easily enough. A melody came to his ears, but an unsterile saline solution was staining his face, and blood pulsed through his cheeks, far from the holiness of the afterlife, and he was ashamed. He didn't feel cleansed, he felt fear, because  he was alive and didn't have leukemia or diabetes or polio.

"I still love you," the woman who was twice his age pleaded to him, and he felt ashamed, because the Fear had descended, and the blue walls were stained black with his shame. The revulsion he had never faced slit his throat prevented him from speaking, while the blood of his confusion soaked his hands...

He stepped up to the plate in the softball game, knowing he couldn't play, but hoping I tangibly that the Reality of his psyche would convince his hands that hitting the ball was Important, and he struck out...

"I had this dream the other night," he told the pretty young school teacher, "that I was in a soccer game, and instead of playing with a ball, we were playing with a frozen turkey, like a Butterball or something, but not wrapped ... We kicked it around, and I made a goal; one of the players on the other team took the turkey, and in anger, sliced it and thawed it ... and so we refroze it with liquid nitrogen, after stacking it back together ... their team won, 3-1." The pretty girl smiled and asked, "did you ever play soccer?" and he said, yeah, for six years.

Knife: six inches long, if it was a centimeter.
The Day: chilly but not cold.
The Mood: Afraid-n-cat, shaking and alone.
nobody danced, but He was there, and he ate a seafood salad sandwich with mayonnaise, tomato and salt and pepper.
It was dark and fast, the walls needed to change anyway. God, it's December already...

Sometimes, you need to scream, and he did, for four months ... He did his thinking while strolling home, sweaty and smelling of vinegar and onions, at four o'clock in the morning ... and he would babble and plead and said what he needed was a planet by himself where he could put God on a shelf and love and laugh and cry and die, if he wanted to, and where he could wind god up now and then to ask for tips on the World Series, so he could place a bet ...

"The mind can be used as a weapon or a tool," the furry archangel said, and as he spoke, fermented yeast grew forth from his fingertips, and quenched the desire in his throat, as it was late, and he adjusted his glasses.

Live in New York City, and bleed as a conquistador among the swamps.

They made love. There was another he was thinking of, 
however, he just couldn't figure out whom.

"May I walk with you?" a pretty young woman asked him and his brother, walking down the darkened stretch of Central Park West that lined the Park itself, black and ominous and dirty, and they, with whales and toxic waste on their minds, said "yes;" and she was a hearing aid specialist or a teacher who worked with retarded children, and they discussed taxis and being afraid to walk alone at night in New York City, and she was small and slender, and he was short and large, his brother tall and spontaneous; and they walked until the moment had ended and found a cab to hail ...

He was Catholic, baptized and confirmed and a reg'lar at tender of confession. He said, in a ritual chant that meant nothing to him, but evidently was important to his mother:
Bless us, oh lord, for these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord, Amen.
then he ate.

As serious as I wish to be, I am. I am reconciling my soul to the lost and found department of a relationship with a woman (one who, right now, barely gives me the time of day) ...
I am ready.
I will write.
Robert Jon Anderson
August 11, 1988

8-17-88
Hello, this is, at present, a journal entry, not a continuation of Das Bücher. Just accounting for some of the events that have recently happened, recording them for posterity, if you will.
Will take the GED test Monday the 22nd, and tomorrow I go to a workshop in search of a good job. 
Jim has returned from California, a little ill because of a cold he got in a Greyhound bus stop in Cleveland. 
RA 1988


he dove into the vast and empty pool of saltwater, a man-made swimming hole that was fed from a pipeline by the ocean. It was dark, and he had drunk a healthy quantity of alcohol shortly before wandering across the beaches, which had led him to this body of water. He entered the pool almost sexually, feeling like a miscreant for being drunk, alone in a foreign land. The night was not right for athletic swimming, however, and he soon settled to the bottom, sinking with a numb joyousness. The surface felt so far away indeed, He mused, and He blew bubbles that floated in a desultory yet guided path to the surface before diffusing into the air. He was in an underground labyrinth, not at all a part of Earth. He was disappointed by unvoiced expectations, a feeling that this island should've been something more; it should have grabbed his consciousness and enlightened him to a different way of existence. He had felt no such change, and it disturbed him, but he refused to allow any compromise. He would enjoy this, he told himself, but he never realized the gap between expectations and disappointment. Perhaps I will merely stay underwater forever, he thought, and completely purged his lungs of the last remaining gases within. He now felt lighter than a melody, a salty statue dissolving into the liquid surrounding him; no longer does the practical invade the potential, He discovered, when you feed your mind such an overpowering placebo as chagrin. He waved his arms in fascination, and realized that He would rather live, for the time being, above the surface of the pool.


"If you don't believe in God, it leaves you wanting, sometimes, for someone to thank," the teacher said irritably.
"Yes, ma'am," the boy responded.
"And so, sometimes, you feel loved, or need to be, and from there we progress to Saint Thomas Aquinas."
And so they did.


10-24-88

Thesis declarations I have none,
this is the NYC subway's wayward son.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Episode 561: Love is Clean

I have an obsession, of sorts, with cleanliness.

It might be a mild example of irony, considering how I earn my living, as a geotechnical driller (which, to put it mildly, exposes me to dirt in an inescapable manner), but I am fastidious about filth, when I can be.

I don't consider my work week to be over until I arrive at home, strip off my muddy, oily, diesel-infused clothing, and scour myself under a scalding shower, shave away the work week's whiskers, and remove the outer layer of the epidermis on my face and hands with a salt and mineral oil scrub. On the weekends, I fume with impatience if my sweatpants have the hint of stains or dirt on them. I toss t-shirts aside until I can find one that is pristine, wafting with the fragrance of dryer sheets. I trim my nails and run seek and destroy missions upon any skin blemishes or patches of dead skin or callouses. I love the feel of my gym clothes, the love of a feel that you can only have for a favorite garment. My clock on obsession begins when I can shed the dirty trappings of work and become the dandy that I apparently secretly which I was.

There have been times, in the past, when I might share a hotel room with a lover (my wife, a CIA spy, two dwarves and a goat, it doesn't matter who or when), and part of the routine and ritual of spending time behind a locked door and indulging in the blissful fucking and sharing is the time-outs between innings, when I can climb into that hotel shower, with endless hot water and often good water pressure, and lather myself with soap as I feel the caress of my love still lingering in my sensory memory, even as I make my scent neutral and static and ready for more fluids. Soap, toothpaste, water, blessed water, cascading water touching me and reminding me that clean is love and love is clean.

Drilling is a messy, muddy venture into the labor of becoming one with the Earth by wearing it like the scalp of a counted coup. I'm not in the shop in the morning five minutes, sometimes, before I am lifting some drill tool or bit and coating myself with the shame of residual clay or the snot-like clinginess of wet bentonite. Bentonite, for the uninitiated, is a mineral, stored in bags as grayish pebbles, that geologic workers use to seal boring holes. When wetted, bentonite absorbs water and then expands and seals holes and cracks in the Earth with the consistency of gluey pudding. If a bag of bentonite breaks in the back of a work truck, and then it rains or becomes wet in any number of other fashions, you have a truck bed full of sticky hot mess geotechnical jizz like the mischievous god of laundry blew a porn load at your tools. The stuff has to be removed with a pressure washer and an incantation to the Maytag Man.

My hands are often so filthy during the week that I barely pretend to wash them, just enough that I don't get grains of sand in my eye when I put in contact lenses. I know what I look like, on the outside, when I have to stop and run an errand after work - we are out of cat food, perhaps, or even worse, coffee; I walk through automatic doors, trailing a cloud of dust and diesel fumes like a postmodern Pigpen from "The Peanuts," all chin wire and burnt nose, and my hands as black as Frosty the Snowman's eyes, and I almost feel apologetic that I intrude in the world of the clean people as I search for whatever wares I seek.

I revel in my weekends, for many reasons: time with my wife and son, time to rest and heal and go to the gym, the swimming pool, to the archery range. I like having no alarm to wake me, or nagging sense of obligation to send me to bed.

A large portion of the appeal of time off is to be clean.