Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The lactic acid doesn't go away. It's like the wet, heavy snow that falls in the darkest months of a bitter New England winter. It falls and it sits and you can't do a damn thing except move it off the places you want to walk and drive your cars. And all I can do with the acid is walk while it sinks down from my belly, through my thighs, past my knees and just begins to pool somewhere down by my feet. Doesn't matter what I eat or how I exercise or how much sweet sweet loving the hottest girl in the sorority is giving me. 'Number One' is what I call her and there's nothing all that special about her, It's just that she's the only one whose hotness outweighs her stupidness. There's a chart with axis and index numbers and it's all real mathematic and technical and brilliant but I won't bore you with the details. Sufficed to say that she has almost as many friends on the facebook as I have dollars in my checking account and I hate her for it but every time she smiles at me the hormones take over and my brain shuts down.

I am shut down. I am a cocoon. Safe. Making a change swiftly and stealthily and silently and stylishly. No one knows. No one can see.

I don't remember the last time I saw any of my own blood. Or the last time I tasted it in my mouth. I've never broken a bone that matters. I've never had the spend the night in the hospital except in the waiting room. In fact, I've only been a hospital patient once. Couldn't have been any older than five or six. I sprinted out the front door of my house and down the porch steps when I felt it. Sharp and searing and glass and lodged two inches deep in the bottom of my Nike-pampered heel.

I don't care how many people walked this earth in bare feet for how many centuries, the bottom of our feet are sensitive as hell. They're sensitive when a giant shard of glass sticks itself in. They're sensitive when the doctor injects you with a local anesthetic. They're sensitive when he uses a razor blade to expose all the little shiny shards and pull them out piece by piece by piece by piece with tweezers.

Just 10 days before my first trip to the hospital I was walking through the backyard and I found it. A cocoon. Brown and small and quiet. Silent changes. I ran inside glowing with my new-found discovery. My mom pulled an empty pickle jar out of the old wooden cabinet where we kept odds and ends that could save a bookstore manager and special-ed teachers a few dollars here and there. She punched a few holes in the jar's aluminum lid and I waited. I waited for my new friend. I guessed at his colors and what he had looked like as a caterpillar and how I would feed it and take care of it and let it fly away into the backyard.

Two days later I came home from school. The cocoon had split and something had emerged. But where was it? Where were the colors? Where was the happiness? That's when I saw a something brown crawling along the inside of the lid. Creeping. Something dark. Something devious.

A moth. A disgusting, brown, dirty, winged messenger from the depth of night. I felt sick to my stomach. My mother told me to let it go out in front of the house. I walked out the front door and down the steps and as I prepared to unscrew the lid. To let this little devil into the world. But something came over me. A jolt. A shudder of revulsion. Something I couldn't control. And I threw it. I heaved the jar and when it's short arc reached the ground the glass shattered into a million shards across the sidewalk.

And somewhere amidst the glass I saw a flutter, the moth spread it wings and it rose. It rose and I swear I could hear it laughing.

I don't like cocoons.
I don't like hospitals.
I don't like moths.
I don't like wearing flip-flops.
I don't like lactic acid in my feet.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

One of the best things about being where I've been and seeing what I've seen is that I don't ever get distracted by pretty people in glossy magazines or in make up commercials or on Vh1 specials. I don't get angry or jealous at the sorority girls when they drive by in their Audi TT convertibles with the top down and the Kelly Clarkson blaring. I don't want to be a Hollywood star or have my name on the walk of fame. I don't want to make googley eyes with that really hot girl in spinning class.

One of the worst things about being where I've been and seeing what I've seen is that it takes a whole hell of a lot to get me revved for another day in middle America. I sleep late because I don't want to deal with the world. I don't make googley eyes to girls at the gym because honestly, blondes with Abercrombie and ibooks are a dime a dozen. Working a 9 to 5 sorting through papers is ridiculous when I've seen the rockstars up close and I know the only difference between me and them are a few tatoos, a drunk father who beat them as a child and a couple more years banging around in that guitar in the garage.

I'm utterly and completely free from ever feeling like I have to live up to anything around me. But there's not a single damn thing from day to day that's gonna get me moving. That's going to make life interesting and exciting and fulfilling.

This is the point when bad things start to happen. People start smoking. People buy motorcycles. People start experimenting with special substances. People walk into parties and the first thing that comes out of their mouth is, "who here wants to make a bad decision?" Then they get in fights. They start making out with pretty girls. They start fights with pretty girls that end in make out sessions. And then they get scared and lock themselves alone in their own room to bang around on that fucking guitar until fingers are raw and vocal chords are strained.

And suddenly there isn't much difference between that rockstar and me anymore.

Chapter 3?

Monday, September 12, 2005

It costs more than 3 dollars a gallon at the pump to fuel up my car around here but since I eat for gratis care of my sweet sorority job, fuel for my bike peddling is free. Me riding around town is like one of those stupid SUV commercials where they convince you that your gas-guzzler with city sensibility was born of a wild, mountain-dwelling beast. Well my bike is that beast and it's meant to jump of big boulders and slalom coniferous trees and spit mud and anyone who's stupid enough to ride in my wake. It's not meant for hot summer asphalt or broken glass or cobblestones or nails.

Today when I arrived at home for a mid-afternoon break with my signature fluid, on the seat-to-one footer- to perfect touchdown dismount I noticed something shiny on my front tire. A piece of rock. No. Something more familiar. Something more mundane. It was a thumb tack and it was thumbs side out. But maybe it hadn't gone all the way through. I mean, I was still riding, wasn't I? The tire was still filled.

I slid the nail of my index finger under the thin piece of metal and pried it loose.
'pssssssssssssssssssss'

Shit. I could hear the air escaping. What to do what to do? So I slid the thumb tack back in. The noise stopped. I rode my bike around the block. It held. Later in the evening I rode back to work watching the tack pop up to greet me and glide effortless back down below. Somehow this stupid piece of sharp metal that I feared encountering was the only thing keeping my going. Something I didn't need yesterday was something I couldn't live without today.

I prayed that the little tack would hold all the way down that steep hill and low-and-behold it did. As I climbed the back staircase I chuckled to myself. Staring at the computer screen I mocked myself for everything I had said the day before. About Default. About chaos. I mean I've been riding on a tack all day long.

I smiled all the way back down those same steps. Out the back door. And on the ground next to the bike rack was a shiny metal point, thumbs side down. It was the tack. I swore to myself for a moment thinking about the long walk home. That was until I noticed something. There's the tack... Where's the bike? The default is chaos and chaos is the truth blog and the truth blogger likes to ride the bus.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

It's an annual truth blog tradition on September 11th to remember the day that everything changed. 2000 miles doesn't seem so far away in that small bedroom where the off-white paint peeled from the walls in the damp new england air. It was a new beginning. It was a chance to make life what I wanted it.

And it was 8 am. Just 30 miles down the road there had been bad men with fake smiles passing through metal detectors with no explosives and no guns and horrible ideas in their heads. They were ready to change the world and I spent my morning learning how, for millions of years the earth's plates had shifted. The tide had rolled in. It had carried the sand down the beach and left it somewhere new. For longer than I can comprehend things had changed slowly and the only single act that had really left so much as a scratch was a giant meteor from some far off galaxy.

By 10 I was asleep once again dreaming of knights and dinosaurs and transformers and mountains covered with fresh, white snow. When the phone woke me up it rang just as it had a dozen times before. And when I answered it I couldn't help but hide the sleepiness in my voice. My roommate's father. I asked how he was. And as he answered I could hear a hesitation in his voice. He was ok. On the outside at least. "Tell my son that I'm alright?" Ummm, OK, anything else?

That's when he told me. I think I smiled at the absurdity. A plane? An attack? I assured him that I would tell his son that he is fine. My shoes slid on just as they always did. Down the three flights of stairs to the living room where cable wasn't yet installed. How could I find out what happened? The girl on the first floor heard me approach? "I just heard something about a plane in New York." I told her what I knew and together we left to find a television. A decision I would later regret.

As the two of us walked into the cafe there was an errie silence. I saw the burning buildings. Gaping holes and plumes of smoke and I stared and I stared and I stared. Could it be real? Could it be true. I kept staring. Hoping it was a horrible trick. And then it happened. The first tower crumbled in on itself. I couldn't watch. I could breath. I couldn't stand up.

I walked out the door onto the bright green grass and I found a tree. No building was safe but the tree was solid and it was strong and it was close. I sat down against the trunk in a nook. I pulled my knees to my chest. I put my hands to my face because I wanted to hide but I couldn't hide. All I could do was weep. I wanted to be part of the tree, to curl up within it and feel its unmoving strength. I wanted to feel the warmth of the water and the nutrients, roots to leaves to roots to leaves. All I wanted was to be something other than human, or at least something other than American. Than a target.

It's four years later and my love affair with New York City is something completely special and amazing and heartfelt and sometimes I hate it and sometimes I love it but I will never ever ever forget it. We have a long road ahead of us america. It's going to be a tough trek wading through flooded streets across mountain tops and finally up the steps of the capitol building in D.C. I'm not leaving on this trip expecting most of you to make it. But it's time. Now's the time. You can fight it. You can tell yourself that everything's fine and everything will balance out. That it will all come back to equilibrium eventually. But you kidding yourself. The default setting is chaos. And when we let default run our lives that's exactly what we get.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

It's been one hell of a long week. I don't know how anyone could still be out drinking. There are still so many american kids dying in Iraq. There are so many kids sleeping in shelters from the hurricane. There are so many kids getting drunk at the house across the street right now.
I called three major airlines on Friday afternoon to see if they would be so gracious as to give me a discounted fair to Dallas. I told the people on the other end of the line that if they could get me a ticket for around $200 I would fly out on a red eye and spend my entire labor day weekend volunteering at the Astrodome or at another shelter or anywhere I could help. Making phone calls, handing out food, shovelling shit, I didn't care. It's the least I could do to try. I wanted to do something. To help. And I thought of what a story it would be.

Not a single one of them could help me out. By 10 p. m. I had given up, donated $100 to the Red cross and decided that I'll wait to donate another $100 until I see how high gas prices are really going to go.

Then I thought about those poor kids in Iraq. Imagine all the ones over there who are from Mississippi. From New Orleans. They're so far away and they're fighting for a home that' won't be here when they get back. A home scattered with broken glass, dead bodies and so many excuses.

Then William Rehnquist Died.

Then I realized that somehow I had convinced myself to become a staff writer at the shitty campus paper. So I wrote an article. Because I owe it to every single one of those kids to make the most of living here. To use what I got for free to at least turn a head or two.


Then I listened to my friends whine about how their favorite bar is closing for good this weekend.

Then I felt sick. Sick that this was a pivotal topic. Sick that people make up problems for themselves because when everything is perfect we just cant' accept it. Girls eat then head for the toilet bowl and wonder why they can't look like Gwen Stefani. Boys head to the gym and wonder if the creatine is really working. Because everything is too perfect. When we push the green button on the cell phone it always rings. When we walk down aisle 4 of the 24 hour grocery store the shelves are always stocked with baking goods. When we lock our doors at night we know that no one will get in. They can't disturb us. They can't ruin our perfect little world of distractions. No they certainly cannot. Only we can.

Then I realized it was a tear that had streaked down my cheek, dangled at my chin and flung itself into my fourth glass of whiskey. I watched as the ripples bounced off the outside rim of the glass and danced back toward the center once again.

Then I... You know what I did? I had to reassure myself out loud. I had to hear myself say it. Just to make sure it's all real. It's been one hell of a long week.