Move Carelessly About Your Life
Didn’t have work today even though it’s Monday. We’re slow and there wasn’t enough work for everyone, so I stayed home from my heavy construction job at the oil refinery and didn’t get paid. But I’m not complaining.
My coworkers haven’t mentioned any of the recent problems with the world, but my coworkers have been rambling on, in constant outrage about Pokemon Go.
I’m glad I have the day off so I don’t have to hear about it.
And, we all work too hard, every single one of us.
My wife walks four miles a day, headphones on, listening to Yacht Rock. She walks a mile to the train that takes her into the city and then when she gets to the city, she walks another mile to get to work. Since I don’t have work, I roll over a couple hours later than usual and look across our bedroom at Party Clock.
Party Clock is this alarm clock we bought at the bodega. It’s white and has rainbow LCD letters. Party Clock speeds up on its own and the time is so wildly wrong. It’s an hour and sixteen minutes wrong one day. It’s forty two minutes wrong the next day. It’s two hours wrong the day after that.
When we bought Party Clock, it came in a box that showed a black plastic clock with red letters. When we opened the box up, we found out that life is a party and you never know what you are going to get, even from an alarm clock.
I say to my wife, “Suns up, time to wake up.”
She stretches and does a silent little happy scream like a cat does, and then her feet pivot and she’s out of bed and I just sit there like a slug.
She has a new job. The new job involves a four mile round trip walk, but nobody ever got worse off in life from a long walk. My legs are killing me because I walked around without shoes on all day on Saturday at this water park that used to kill people in the 1970s. The water park is safer now, but there are still slides that come down out of the clouds into cool pools. I watch my wife limp into the bathroom and imagine her legs hurt too. She was right there with me, walking around on that gravel, barefoot, and not even a single beer in our stomachs.
At six thirty the doorbell rings, it’s the delivery dudes with our groceries. I order the groceries on an app on my phone because I don’t want to go to the grocery store and wander around the grocery store for the whole day looking at hazel nuts and heads of red cabbage. I don’t want to try and pick a barbecue sauce from a shelf filled with one thousand other barbecue sauce varieties. I try to figure out ways to make more free time for myself, so I can write more. So yeah, I order my groceries on my phone, but this time I clicked on the wrong button and the tuna fish and the oranges and the Wheat Thins are here at 6:30 am instead of 6:30 pm.
I open the front door in my underwear and my hair all in different directions. I say to the delivery dude, “Fucked up. I hit AM when I meant PM. It’s a good thing they told me not to come in to work.” He set the boxes down at my socked feet.
“Everybody does that. You’re not revolutionizing nothing. But I wouldn’t have eaten ya food, bro,” he says. “I’d have left ya meat and eggs and cereal right here.” He slaps the box on top and smiles. He’s got a big gap between his front teeth and I want to open one of the boxes up and give him a jar of Nutella. That’s how much I love this delivery dude at this very moment. The tip is already included, so I sign the slip and drag all the cardboard boxes into the apartment, put everything away in its special random place.
Down the hallway, in our bedroom, I could hear that my wife was already out of the shower and had the hair dryer going. I like the sound of a hair dryer coming from another room. Other sounds I like: Spoons in coffee cups; A car going 90 miles an hour down the road in the middle of the night when everybody else is asleep except for Speed Racer and me; Ice cracking apart on the river when winter is almost over.
“I’ll drive you to the first train,” I said, or rather, shouted, over the hair dryer. “Save you a mile.”
“What?” she says, turning off the hair dryer. And I repeat myself. That’s life. Just repeating yourself in a beautiful or tragic or uneventful circle.
Mundane things. Fake flowers on the dresser that never die. Maybe tomorrow the 48 roll shipment of toilet paper will arrive. Maybe this weekend at the beach, it will be warm enough to float out there for a while in the gentle waves, but hopefully it won’t be so warm that the jelly fish are there in a thick camp. Yesterday I had a talk with C down in the mail room, I was telling him about how we went to the water park over the weekend and he said that sounds nice but he doesn’t swim. He’s a city kid and he never learned to swim. C is a tough guy but I have seen him, in secret, wandering down the sidewalk hunting Pokemon with his phone, the firehouse down the street is a gym and a Poke ball stop. We’ve got it all right here. Life is a round trip, supposedly.
I say to my wife, “I’m gonna drive you to the train, so you don’t have to walk so far.”
She kisses me, and before Party Clock moves ahead ten minutes, we walk out to the car. The car is covered in bird shit, but unbeknownst to the birds or me or the street sweeper, sudden undetectable and violent thunderstorms are on the way and will be here this afternoon.
On our way down Kennedy Blvd., about 6:45 AM, stopped at a red light, my wife points out the window at this brick house with archways under a high balcony. There is a giant American flag waving in the wind and there is a German Sherpahard all by itself, leaning up on the balcony, paws resting there, like ‘what up brand new day, what’s in store?’.
“Are you seeing this?” she says, pointing up at the dog.
“I’m seeing this, wow.”
She grabs my phone off the center console and she takes three pictures of this patriotic dog that’s all alone, no master in sight. Thirty feet over Kennedy Blvd. and not a cat in sight for a hundred square miles or so help it. The dog just looking down on the traffic on Kennedy Blvd., woofing the star spangled banner in its head. Or later, what my friend Sophie says must be 🎶 Dog Bless America 🎶.
The light turns green and I take my wife to the train and then instead of going home I go to Home Depot and walk around in my flip flops and my hair still a mess.
If I had to tell you want I want, I’d tell you I just want The Home Depot to start publishing full length poetry manuscripts so I can show ya all what I can do.
My stories and novels though, they’re not something I’d let Home Depot publish. I’m more particular with them.
I have 12,000 words I wrote in a red notebook two weekends ago and I am going to do anything else that I can possibly do with my life to get out of having to type up those 12,000 handwritten words. That’s partly why I am walking around Home Depot. It’s distracting at Home Depot. There are all these sections to get lost in and never come out of. You don’t have to get anything done, you can just procrastinate here, looking at wire nuts and lawn mowers instead of working on your novel. I should have just gone food shopping. I’m even looking at electric switches I might install with wet hands. I’m looking at different kinds of spackle. Wow, purple sparkle that turns white when it is ready to be sanded, wow. I’m picking up different cordless drills and firing them up at the overhead lights like they are Star Wars blaster. Pew Pew Pew. Anything to get out of typing up that notebook of handwritten stuff.
Life is made up of all these mundane moments, and your art is too.
I went to the paint department and got electric blue paint like in the David Bowie song Sound and Vision and then I went home and painted the room down the hallway that is going to become the office where I’ll write. Before I got involved, the room was beige. It’s hard to hang out in a beige room, let alone make anything purrrrrrty in a beige room.
Now I’ve got specks of electric blue paint all over me, like a Smurf stepped on a landmine and the pieces of the Smurf are stuck to me.
I still didn’t feel like typing up any of the handwritten stuff in the notebook, so instead of doing that, I unpacked these boxes that we moved with from NYC, and never unpacked here in Jersey City. For over three months the boxes just sat there and I never knew what was in them and also, I never needed what ever could be in them. I cut open each box with a razor and unpacked the contents straight into six garbage bags. I felt good about this. I love throwing shit out. I would have died in the first week of the Great Depression. Feeling proud of myself about the boxes, I dragged the garbage bags down the hallway inside the building to the Trash Closet.
Outside the window, the rain was coming down like the end of the world. Bird shit streamed off my car. Tyrant of weather. Thunda ‘n’ lightnin’.
And walking down the hallway from the elevator was a woman in her forties on her cellphone, umbrella tucked under one elbow, staring into her iPhone as she walked. I made a joke, “Trying to catch Pokemon?” She looked up and said, “Calling an Uber, but haha, yeah to drive me around and catch Pokemon.”
She stood in the vestibule and waited for the car and I got the mail out of the box. Out the barred window, I leaned and watched the rain pounding all the filth off everything, and I felt good to be not at work.
We all work too hard. It’s nice to not be needed sometimes.
As I stood there I thought about the weekend prior, when I tried to play Pokemon Go but I was drunk and in an old age community with all these rules. You can’t go anywhere in the old age community without a resident at your side.
They have a basketball court and a swimming pool and boce ball pits and all this stuff but it’s all empty because everyone is old and they don’t want you to use it without a chaperone or something.
Anyways, I’d been walking across the lawn staring at my phone and realized I was gonna have to go down into the drainage pond and up onto the golf course to get the Pokemon and in short, I didn’t want the hired security guy to have to chase me down and yell about something I wasn’t committed to fully. If I was committed, yell away. I deleted the app from my phone. I sat ini a chair on my mother-in-laws patio, I scribbled word after word into a red notebook. When your life is full of troubles, the way you get out of trouble is to give even greater troubles to a make believe character.
When the rain stops I went back into my apartment and enjoyed the stink of Smurf blood and the freon leak from the air conditioner unit in the art room. Evening was almost here and I’d just gotten an update from UPS via email, the 48 rolls of toilet paper were being loaded onto a truck in Willows Grove, Pennsylvania.
I don’t know why I didn’t think of this until now … I picked up my cellphone, opened the stupid red notebook and begin to slowly read my own handwriting into the cellphone. My voice, transmitted across wifi and decoded by angels transforming my voice into text I’d never type up any other way.