Friday, February 16, 2007

Meat Hook

The ceiling of my dorm room is covered in white chipped paint. Laying on my single bed developing a neurotic fear of an asbestos cave in seems cliche to me now. Our bedroom is split evenly, not tape down the middle of the room, but still evenly. My roommate Michael Strauss is a jew from long island, he likes magic the gathering, and dragon ball z. In his spare time (when he's not looking up magic the gathering card values, downloading anime, or trying to cop a feel from one of the girls down the hall) he's in our room listening to Dave Matthews. Beginning to associate Dave Matthews with death was an easy transition, like shifting from second to third on my old man's riding lawnmower. The more I listened to "Crash into me," the more my thoughts roved to taking a step off of an obviously fixed playing field, a finely mowed playing field.

Tonight was a bit different. Mike (that's short for Michael as his mother said when we were first introduced that awkward day six months ago) was off chasing tail at a local frat party. He had made friends with a few guys in the hall, some of who were pledging, which involved all sorts of dumb ass activities, none of which included licking my scrotum... so what did I care. Mike seemed to enjoy their company and the equally mentally retarded girls that lounged about in the handicap section of off campus housing (read frat house). Mike doesn't tend to drink that much, but once in a while when he can't find anyone to play Magic with he'll go out "with the boys."

So tonight I'm staring at the asbestos ceiling wondering how long it will be until it caves in. If it doesn't cave in, how long will it take me to get lung cancer? Maybe if I scrap the ceiling a little and let some droppings fall onto my mouth... the cancer will form quicker.

Its not often that my attention is caught on anything artistic, or anything to do with that mastubatory world called art but the other day while browsing through the stacks at the library, where work study has me shelving books, a book by Antonin Artaud caught my eye. Talk about fucking wretches, now there's a man whose entire life could be entitled "I pissed razor blades." What particularly caught my attention was this passage about how he believed himself to be already dead, already suicided. He was just a weird waking corpse, in some sort of nebulous area. Artaud died of cancer, cancer of the innards, his digestional tubes rotted on him, or they rejected him longing instead for their own growth. In January 1948 Artaud was diagnosed with intestinal cancer. He died shortly afterwards on March 4, 1948. Artaud died alone in his pavilion, seated at the foot of his bed, holding his shoe.

What makes me think of this is that Artaud saw pain and decay for what it was, a medium, a way in which life expresses himself. His theatre of cruelty, was nothing more than an attempt to shatter the perceptions of the everyday. With everyday almost if not the same I grow used to the pain, the nauseau of everyday is so deep that it becomes inperceptible, sometimes its only through a violent shattering that I recognize that maybe I am really alive.

Not that I can really feel any of this long self monologue, despite my abstract ideas my body just recognizes the heady feeling of drinking most of a bottle of wine. My older sister visited me about two weeks ago and was nice enough to buy me, or rather buy for me (I gave her the cash) a variety of liquors. Tonight staring at the ceiling of death an open bottle of red pinot noir was open. It was a shitty table wine but cheap, so my sister got two for me.

Tomorrow I'll forget.
To-morrow, and To-morrow and To-morrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllabe of recorded time
And All our yesterdays have lighted fools

My shitty alarm clark, a holdover from the domestic bliss of living with my parents blares in my ears. It screams out like a banshee, a long opera of one note. Rolling over, smacking the alarm off I roll off my bed, literally. Falling to the ground forces me to get up and also slightly sobers me up. The night's boozing comes back to me like the tide, slowly then quickly invading my brain. Wine hang overs are the worst.

Mike isn't here, he must have stayed at his girlfriend's. Noticing that I was able bodied enough last night (I suppose) to have taken off my clothes I proceed to get dressed for class. I have fifteen minutes to get to my social theory class in which the professor will grind out Marxism into a paltry form of socialism that is palatable for the liberal lap dogs who quietly take notes to regurgitate on their next exam. That's the price to be paid for being a sociology major though, boredom. Not that my art major friends, if they can be called that, are particularly engaging in exciting material. Mainly they end up talking about how to best represent people of color in their mixed media presentations.

"I think we need more black people in this video Robert."
"No, I think that we should just incorporate some rap music, or maybe some Billy Holiday, then it will be a more authentic cultural experience."

The only reason for hanging out with them is that they have booze at their places which a young alcoholic such as myself can snatch. Paid for by their parents, much like their college educations.

Throwing on some jeans and a black t-shirt, my converse and grabbing my notebook I head out my door room. Locking the door behind me and heading outside I smell the leaves of autumn. That wonderful sharp smell of decaying matter, of cold wind, of fall is in the air. Its a bit cold and upon leaving the dormitory building I wish I'd grabbed a hooded sweater or a long sleave shirt. Its just a short walk to the lecture halls though. Hurrying along are other students, many wearing long shirts, or light jackets, the garment that is so coveted by my cold body. Thoughts of mugging them for their clothes fills my mind like a clogged toilet, all my thoughts seem like shit.

The lecture hall is a brick building, one fo the older one's on the campus. On the corner of the building is a plaque talking about some bastard who helped found the college and how he's such a great bastard. Two small flights of stairs lead to the glass doors which swing outward and bring me into warmth. Another flight of stairs brings me to the second level. Down the corridor of classrooms to room 213. The third on the left. Opening the classroom door I take in the scene.

The professor, Mr. Lankton is seated behind a small desk which has a wooden podium on it. His lectures notes are on them. About half of the students are in their seats. Chelsea, a marxist friend of mine and drinking buddy is doodling in her notebook in the second row. Taking a seat next to her she raises her head and glares at me.

"What?" I say.
"Nothing." She replies, and then continues to doodle.

Opening up my notebook, and looking over my notes is like looking at a corner store porn magazine, except that the pictures are more like cave paintings, and the text instead of talking about slutty wives who fuck random guys is filled up with Marxisms.

"Money is a commodity which has value like any other commodity. In becoming the universal equivalent, that commodity serves to express the universal, social, character of the relations between commodity owners: It marks the transition from exchanges as a discrete relation between private individuals to exchange as an expression of social relations between interdependent individuals. Thus the fetishism of money corresponds closely to that of commodities."

I sketch a picture of two women fondling each other and poke Chelsea.
"Look lesbians." I say to her.

Chelsea doesn't even bother to look in my direction. She's not amused. Its too bad as my pictures of women fondling each other are getting a little better. R. Crumb would like them though, and that's what matters.

Professor Lankon is doing a diagram on the board of how money has become a universal equivalent. In chalk is C1-M-C2. After scrawling a little more obscurities on the board he opens his fat ass mouth.

"Simply as a means of circulation money is merely the servant of the movement of commodities. In fact, expressed as a result, the simple circulation of commodities becomes merely..."
At this point he breaks off and writes on the board again. He turns around and works his jaw, his jowls and double chin shake a little as he wags his head in the excitement only an academic socialist can get. Pointing a fat sausage finger at the C-C on the board he goes on.
"The formula for the simple exchange of commodities as if in barter. Money consequently vanishes from view, other than as a fleeting symbol of the value of exchanging commodities. As Marx goes on to explain..."

At this point I start doodling again in my notebook. Mainly just circles and spirals as I picture Chelsea naked.

When the class ended Chelsea looked over at me.
"Sure let's go to lunch." I said.
We walked out of the classroom and outside into the lobby where other students were beginning to crowd.
"Let's go out to eat. I'm sick of the cafeteria sludge." Chelsea said.
"Where do you want to go?" I replied.
"Let's go to that chinese place downtown," she answered.

Downtown was about 6 city blocks away, although in this small city town it was called a mile. It was a brisk walk, Chelsea who was from new york made the jaunt more of a double time march. Her feet would slightly tap the sidewalk and shuffle forward, it was odd to watch, almost like she was floating along the concrete. My feet, however, ambled along. Falling behind her I would have to occassionally speed up to a light jog.

It'd been two weeks since I'd last seen Chelsea, quite a bit of time since we'd see each other at class normally, but she'd been sick, or avoiding me.

One time when we were drunk we'd hooked up. I suppose that was the night when we entered our relationship, and departed (?) from our friendship. She had passed out in my bed, not an entirely uncommon event and I discarded a modest amount of clothes and put the covers over both of us. In the middle of the night she reached out for me. We hadn't been drinking that much and while I'd always been attracted to Chelsea I hadn't made any moves that I didn't consider relatively platonic. When she put her arm around me I laid there for a moment or two and then internally shrugged. Wanting her, and worrying about future consequences I decided on an optimistic future. Its funny how little moments like that one can set a whole series of events in order, or maybe it wasn't that moment but one of the ones that followed, when I kissed her, when we fucked, when I hugged her in the morning.

We had a tumultuous relationship, not that the relationship itself was ever very bothersome, actually it was quite good in many ways, but rather our youth and inexperience hampered us. We were in the constant process of breaking up and getting back together. This process was tremendously emotionally tiring. The hopes, the dreams, and the constant disappointment all added up. I began to drink more during these stints, when she was gone, something I've always tended to do during periods of emotional turmoil. I sincerely hoped that she didn't smell the reeking stench of alcohol that oozed out of my pores during lunch.

During the periods of disappointment and heartbreak I would usually sit in my room and write, or read Kurt Vonnegut novels. A few times I'd ventured out to find another young lass who might make me happier, even if only temporarily but my body and mind acted more like those of the porter's in Macbeth.


'Faith sir, we were carousing till the
second cock: and drink, sir, is a great
provoker of three things.


What three things does drink especially provoke?


Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and
urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes;
it provokes the desire, but it takes
away the performance: therefore, much drink
may be said to be an equivocator with lechery:
it makes him, and it mars him; it sets
him on, and it takes him off; it persuades him,
and disheartens him; makes him stand to, and
not stand to; in conclusion, equivocates him
in a sleep, and, giving him the lie, leaves him.

Maybe it was the left over alcohol that induced me to show those juvenile pictures to her. Maybe it was because I felt to incapable of showing her what I'd been working on, a crappy love poem. The poem was about a young man who would spend days upon days in a row boat in a lake practicing singing with his guitar. The young mad went out to the middle of the lake as he was so embarrassed by the very idea of ever being heard or seen attempting to practice a song that would make his “true love's” heart swoon. The woman he loved lived next door to him, and he'd see her hang up the laundry every few days (this was the days before laundry dryers but after clotheslines). She wasn't terribly attractive, but she wasn't quite plain either. The same could be said for him, the young guitarist. What drove the guitarist on was the idea that she might just be a woman with whom he could spend his life with, what he feared though was the rejection of being tossed aside like a mechanic's oily rag. One day, however, when he knew she would be out hanging the laundry he ported his boat on the grass near the clothesline, which was no small effort as the small lake he practiced in was half a mile away. His hope was that by having the boat there he would imagine the rhythm of the waves, and would play beautifully. When she came out with a wicker basket full of sheets he began to play. He didn't look at her but rather looked into the sky and played the songs he'd always played while in the boat. His hands shook, his body trembled...

I hadn't gotten much beyond that point in the poem. Having the bad habit of always wanting to rhyme my poems made things terribly difficult. It took me a good week to think of an adequate ryhme for oily mechanic's rag, that didn't imply the woman was a hag. Maybe it was my inability to come up with clever rhymes that prevented me from showing her the poem.

What exactly would happen at lunch was beyond me. It was hard enough seeing her.

The interior of the chinese restaurant was in a state of disarray. Immediately upon opening the glass door that had a peeling piece of paper that displayed Great Wall's hours was a tank of water. Once housing a menagerie of fish now was the abode of green algae, a single goldfish, and a scum sucker. The little deep sea diver was covered in the green goo that covered most of the tank.

"Two for lunch?" The asian woman dressed in a penguin suit of black pants and a white button up shirt said. No answer was needed as she led us to a little red vinyl booth. I took the seat facing the wall, Chelsea sat across from me so that she was facing the street. Behind me was a large window peered out into the street. One could see most of the pedestrians and street traffic if one ignored the fog of dust on the window, and the broken neon light that advertised an asian beer. Our waitress brought over two glasses of water and left two menus that had seen quite a bit of wear. Knowing already what to order I pushed my menu to the edge of the table between Chelsea and myself. Chelsea opened the menu and looked at it, fingering the rim of the glass while her eyes scanned a menu that she had gone over a dozen times before. We'd come here periodically after class for dinner. If we'd been up late at night well into the bottle we'd dine on cheap chinese the next day to rid ourselves of our hang overs. While she's looking at the menu I fidget nervously with the pair of chopsticks by the fork and knife. My dexterity with these tools is limited, I'm laughably white. I try to think of something to say but my mind comes up blank. Chelsea seems to be ignoring my immediate physical presence yet at the same time glaring at me through the menu. Our waitress came over and stood in front of us for a moment, relieving some of the tension, if only momentarily.

"Sesame tofu with broccoli, and uh, white rice please." I ordered.
"Sweet and sour tofu, brown rice." Chelsea said.

The waitress scribbled to hieroglyphics on her pad and walked into the kitchen. One of the reasons we frequented this place was that its service, particularly the food service was expedient. In less than 5 minutes we would have our deep fried blocks of flavored soy with steamed vegetables.

Chelsea brought her glass up to her lips, tilting the glass so that a trickle of water began to move into her mouth. My eyes were fastened onto the edge of the water glass. There was nothing particularly riveting about the glass itself, nor the fact that she was drinking water. How many times had I sat across her as she drank water, or booze, or any other liquid for that matter. What fascinated me was something else. In many ways I felt it was comparable to my fascination of the picture of the woman's glove in Andre Breton's Nadja. The glove is folded over in the novel, limp, unsatisfied without a living movement inside of it. It is at once dead, and waiting to be. Perhaps the glove is like the cup at this moment, Chelsea's hand slowly slips finger by finger into Nadja's glove like the water trickling into Chelsea's mouth. It is a moment of being.

Unsettled by this idea my eyes shift behind Chelsea. Its an old trick, to look at someone, when actually looking behind them. To them it appears that I am focusing on them when actually I'm looking beyond them. Its similar to the constant compliment that I get, that I'm a good listener. Really I'm not listening at all, I just am rather good at nodding at certain points in reassurance. Its the tone of the speaker's voice that prods me, like Pavlov's dog, to nod when the speaker seems to want reassurance of some sort. Most people want nothing to do with conversation, they would prefer the self created succor of a monologue in which they can air their griefs with the balm of a visibly content audience. I provide the spectator's body, and they provide their own self congratulations, their own tongue to lick their wounds, while the gentle indifference of the world washes over me.

She starts the conversation, like she's winding up a handwatch, she's moving on with the time. My personal dislike for having these conversations during eating is evidenced by my constant food play. My tofu moves from one end of the plate to the other, back and forth, and she expresses her feelings to me. My face shows nothing, that old stoic trick of masculinity, while my innards feel like they are being slowly swept away. The tide comes in, her voice peaks up in tempo, my sesame tofu moves away from her. The tide goes out, she breaks for a moment to gather her throats and my rice begins to cover the small chunks of tofu. She looks at me, the wave comes in breaking against the shore, my appetite is spoiled, my fork is placed on my plate.

"Truthfully, I don't know what to say." I tell her.

"Well, tell me how you feel." She says.

"I feel, I feel, like, uh, what I once was a fine oil painting was really just a drawing in the sandy beach, now being swept away by the coming tide. You are that tide, and you are in the picture. You are both, I am the drawing, a figure in the drawing, and the indentation in the sand, I'm the sand. Is there any possible way I can have a feeling right now? Its like asking the sand to hold itself together, to be composed, to show itself. But really its just sand, loose, pliable. It has no motion of its own, it is moved." My head turns as I finish the last bit of my metaphor, my facing blushing in embarassment from my art school imagery. Fuck I should have just recited some Rainer Maria Rilke to her and be done with it.

"Can't you see though, that I have different desires? You seem to want nothing. You are drenched in passivity, not me. You contemplate the world but then," at this point she begins to wave her hand, a gesture that annoys me for its attempts to make my philosophical meditations visceral. "Its all so smokey, fog like, you never seem solid. You never stir from your solitude. I can't be with that, I can't, I don't want that work, of always trying to draw you out. I'm your lover not a piece of twine that if you follow it will show you the way out of your convuluted maze of a mind."

"Well then I guess this is it..." I stammer.

She nods sullenly. I take out my wallet and put down enough money to cover our bill and the tip then walk out onto the street. I pass by the window and see her still seated, which makes me happy. She didn't get up and leave right away, spoiling the moment of emotion we just had. The funny thing is that I'm not quite sure what the conversation was about. In an immediate way I know that we just broke up, again, and perhaps for the final time but over what, and why? The whole affair has a fog like character to it, was I not listening to the conversation, was I ignoring what she was saying?

Walking north towards the entrance to the campus I pass by a convience store. I walk in and use my fake id to buy a twelve pack of pabst blue ribbon. In a little while I will sit in my room, and drink until I pass out.

The end.

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