chapter 1

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chapter 1

Post by firsty » February 1st, 2010, 1:02 pm


The most important thing to remember is that I should not be writing this book. I know it, and now you know it, too. Whatever eventually follows this in print will have been set up by the admission that the author is entirely aware of the profoundly complicated mistake he seems bent on finishing to its very end.

It’s not supposed to be easy to tell a story that everyone already knows. And it’s not supposed to be fun to tell a story that you’ve already told a million times. What isn’t immediately obvious is that, as difficult and painful as this seems, it remains possibly the only solution to a serious problem, even if it’s a problem I caused. What began as writer’s block has become quite the opposite. These particular words are not an attempt to repeat yet again the same story we’ve all heard before — they are an attempt to write myself out of the thousands of pages of explanation, reframing and confusion that have been pouring out of me for the past several years. If I don’t stop the momentum of it, it’s going to swallow me one way or another — whole or torn apart, it doesn’t matter much either way.

It starts with another story altogether. Or, at least, that’s where I’m going to start it. I’m a writer. My name is Addie Smith. I was never supposed to write non-fiction, and I’ve no intention of starting now, although sometimes we just can’t help doing the things we do. I finished my first novel in the summer of 2001. It wasn’t much of a book, but finishing it was its own accomplishment and afterwards I was feeling pretty good about myself. Maybe that’s all this is — trying to finally feel pretty good about myself again.

It worked once.

Time can really fuck with your mind sometimes. Trying to relive the past might not always be such a bad idea, if it’s able to remind us that those gone moments were never and won’t ever be any different from these moments now. This was back when the events of life seemed much more important than they really were. I worried about the ubiquitous trivialities more than I needed to, but I was beginning to dwell on them less.

There are, still, all the nows of the past — gone but just as real as anything else — big and little decisions made and forgotten — bloodying my nose in some neighborhood fight, breaking my arm in some neighborhood football game, tying my feet into the laces of sneakers fastened to the bottom of rowing shells, shoveling out from blizzards, repairing my car with junkyard parts in the back of the driveway, buying a Christmas tree, reading and rereading Kerouac, Kundera, Mailer and Hemingway, trying to read and write my way into manhood, arguing with my parents about my career, trying to write my way into some bed — and the new now, roused from sleep by the creeping sunlight and the promise of a productive weekend, I check that I’ve packed my shoulder bag with everything I need and spring down the stairs and out into the streets to get all mixed up in it, to grab a Gatorade and a warm raisin bagel with cream cheese spread all cold inside, cut and wrapped in white paper, and just go walking through this tiny town towards that great big city king across the river.

We lived on Washington Street in Hoboken and only a few doors down from the place on the corner that sold bagels. They had a guy come in every morning early, after making them for another place even earlier across the world in Brooklyn, to make the dough and form the bagels. If you got there at the wrong time, it was too crowded to get in through the wobbly screen door, framed in chipped white-painted wood on old rusty hinges and a dry broken old spring on top, and you had to stand on the sidewalk to wait for a customer to jam his way out so you could jam your way in. Those were some great fucking bagels, man. If you didn’t wait like that, if you came back in an hour, the bagels were cold and hard. So you had to get there early to get the good stuff, before the college kids from Stevens Institute of Technology up the hill and while all the guido party guys were still nursing their hangovers with pills and drawn shades. Past the chips rack next to the door, past the counter with the big gray chiming cash register, past the deli case with a few meats, fresh mozzarella, and a selection of bagel spreads, past the rack of packaged breads and pastries, was the short span of wall with wooden cubbies full of bagels — plain, raisin, chocolate chip, salted, onion, garlic, wheat, honey, poppyseed, blueberry, and everything bagels covered in everything.

Now the way it works is this — you can go get a bagel yourself and put it in a brown paper bag and pay for it and leave. Or you can give the bag to the guy or the girl at the register and you can have them say, “Just the bagel?” to you in a knowing but bored way, like “You can have it cut, toasted, warmed, buttered, or otherwise coated with something, and all you want, you fucking ingrate, is a bagel in a bag?”

But there’s another way — you should know what kind of bagel you want, and there’s a chalkboard on the wall behind the deli case that lists the kinds of bagels they have. If you go by that list alone, though, you might stand there for a while asking for bagels they’ve run out of. So, just go over to the cubbies of bagels and have a peek — see what’s fresh and what’s been sitting — and once you’ve made your decision, just go back to the deli case and tell the guy or girl what you want. But you don’t just say, “I’ll have an everything bagel please,” and then wait for them to go through the list of things that can be done to it. If you do make them ask everything, the least you could is make a quick fucking decision and not stand there debating the relative merits of toasting or not toasting your everything bagel, while the rest of us stand there and wait.

The first question they’ll ask you is if you want it cut. You can get the thing whole and then get the toppings in a side capped plastic cup — you know the kind don’t make me explain — or you can get it cut. But if you get it cut you’re not necessarily getting the topping spread on the bagel. They’ll cut it and wrap it if you want, and let you spread the stuff when you get home. Then they’ll ask if you want it toasted. Again — make a quick decision. From there, if you choose to have it toasted, you can take your time with the next one, but you’ll have to decide what to put on it, if anything. Some people have them cut and toasted and just plain — hey, who am I to judge? You can have it buttered or cream cheesed — and you have lots of choices of cream cheese and spreads there, which you can see in the deli case or on the board, regular cream cheese (not plain — not plain), lite, veggie, lox, lots of other kinds I never paid attention to, and of course just plain butter.

After four or five years now, I had it down. To the girl or guy behind the deli counter I said, “Hey good morning” of course and then, “Raisin bagel, cut with regular.” The reason it’s not “plain cream cheese” is because, if you do say “plain cream cheese,” you have a possible point of confusion between you and the person behind the counter, since there are plain bagels, too. Sometimes they’ll have to ask if I want it toasted, since that’s not in my regular order, but that’s okay, because you can’t just stick “untoasted” in that order without it often sounding like “toasted,” which forces another question anyway, to confirm. You can’t just say “with cream cheese” because that forces another question — regular or lite?

Then they take your everything bagel, do what you want to it, and wrap it in white paper, slice it in half, and stick it in the brown paper bag, for one dollar and five cents — only thirty cents more than you would have paid had you just walked out with your lonely untreated bagel in a bag. Actually, the ordering process there isn’t really that bad, and they aren’t hard-asses about it, but if you can figure out how to make things go smoothly at that deli counter, you’re ready to go and try to order the best goddamn Italian sub in the world next door at Vito’s. Good luck with that.

If I was ten years old, I’d be dashing through the streets on my bike — fuck the cars, the old ladies, the streetlights or the buses — just weave through the background and the props to get to where it’s really at. When those little legs get pounding on those pedals, when you’ve worked up such a speed that it takes all of your focus and strength to keep the weight coming from your toes, there’s nothing else going on. The world disappears — it feels like it’s going by in a pure blur of frivolity, even if you’re only moving at about ten miles an hour on your little yellow banana bike. Physical exertion aside, though, I’m still feeling like that right now, walking along with a clear destination in mind and these words flooding into my brain already. It takes me even longer to get where I’m going because I have to pull over and sit on a bench somewhere to write things down before I lose them. The words usually just start coming, lyrically at first, just because they sound good together, and because they come spontaneously, like that surge of energy that makes you get that bike rolling as fast as it will roll just because of the way it feels, and then I build on them, piling one word on top of another, until phrases and then sentences are formed. I’m memorizing them as I walk — that’s how slowly they come, but when the words have turned into something, the rush is gone and I’m left with this string of thoughts, now quickly losing themselves to other inspired rushes, and it’s then I have to stop. I wrote whole paragraphs in my head, walking to work or towards a writing place. After learning I’d forget it otherwise, having worked out good sounding phrases and words and ideas, I’d stop and write it down, or just pull out my pen and notebook on the fly. It took me some time to get to that point, what with my instinct toward shame and all. I used to feel embarrassed about what it must look like seeing me stop to sit on a random bench or walk straight ahead with my head bent down over a notebook writing. But New York is the perfect environment for doing anything. There was hardly a distinction between public and private. What I might choose to do the privacy of my home or office, I found I could also choose to do on the streets and sidewalks. Eventually, during the high and inspired times, I could even write out loud to myself as I walked, but that was only for the after-hours. Perhaps the people around me faded into relative irrelevance, unable to induce shame, or it might have been that I had grown so comfortable with my surroundings that my confidence in my own quirks had pushed away the insecurities themselves had gone away. What I knew was that now I was writing all the time, whether I sat down to do so or not.

Going from place to place, if I can’t find a bench nearby, I can just stand and write, lean against something, or just write as I walk, as long as it’s not something that’s going to distract me right into someone’s face, briefcase, pit bull or front bumper. But even those threats are just generalized. There is nothing specific about them, because the details of that godforsaken real world wouldn’t mean anything to me even if I knew they were there.

But it’s funny how that shift in perspective comes and goes. When I’m not oblivious to what’s going on around me because I’m writing, it’s impossible for me to avoid sensing and taking note of everything — what’s happening, to whom, why, what for, to what ends, and just exactly how? Without all of that, there would be no reason to block any of it out. That’s when I appreciate the true distance between perceptive understandings and the kinds of things we communicate in writing. The huge variety and constantly changing nature of artistic expression, from the lowest of the kitsch to the highest of the genius inspirations, is a result of the frustrating inability to just express ourselves. When it happens well, when something good is created, the feeling is always the same — that the artist accessed something familiar and meaningful but previously elusive to the audience. We’re probably all feeling mostly the same things, but we’ve yet to come up with a good way of proving it, and it’s not for lack of trying. Maybe it has something to do with having to choose between being in it and talking about it.

The only place I couldn’t write was at home. Just too many distractions, and the only thing I wanted to do was lay on the couch and change television channels. And at home I was forced to interact with Ruth. I spent most weekend afternoons at some bar or mostly empty restaurants with my manuscript and notebook. That sounds so terrible. They weren’t just “some bar.” I had a few places I’d frequent. Three in Hoboken, three in the west Village, one near Union Square, a diner on 9th Avenue up around Hell’s Kitchen, and a bar near the park — those were the regular places.

Now with my bagel, and I’ve got the Saturday New York Times, too, also procured from the bagel shop, I can spend the rest of the morning in one of the parks. The closest one, Elysian Park, is a block and a half uptown but still out of the way. It was always packed with kids. It had one dog run, and two playgrounds with that foamy ground covering so they can bounce instead of crash and burn, and lots of trees, and a view of the city, sort of, if you moved to the eastern edge of it and looked through the tall iron fencing — the city was farther away from here than it is from Brooklyn Heights, but you could still almost here it from right here. There was Columbus Park, but that was a few blocks into Hoboken, close to the high school, and too far, and a little run down. Church Square Park wasn’t bad. It had a big dog run and a gazebo in the middle hub of its extending spoke paths tucked in its square block, and two playgrounds, one for younger kids and one for older kids, and plenty of shade trees, though without the overwhelming green shadows of Elysian Park. The two parks that were best for writing were Sinatra Park and the new waterfront park. Sinatra Park was the smallest and always the most abandoned, but with a sheltered, shadowy playground that kept the annoying noises of beautiful children playing beautifully tucked out of the way, and several benches along its diagonal paths. The benches were rarely occupied and the paths were a municipally-approved shortcut for me on the way to the trains. If it was nice out, though, I’d usually make it all the way to the waterfront park, where it was invariably more busy than the others but also huge, and with a perfect view of the whole city, and it was right across the street from the station that could take me anywhere. I could literally go anywhere in the world by starting in that terminal, and it was right across the street. I know you can get anywhere from anywhere, but this was a major point of entry — I had already done most of the hard work.

The point of my trip on these mornings was to write, and it was a rare day that didn’t begin with something good. I almost always had something to start with. It was an incredible span of writing, one I should never expect to repeat. Everything fit. The plan was working, the routine was working. The routine was generating something of value. I had figured it out.

After a time I made it to the PATH station. On the weekdays — on most days — I’m on the other platform, headed to the World Trade Center, but today I’m going to Christopher Street via the 34th Street train. Hardly anyone rides the WTC train on weekends, except to go in the opposite direction, to Newport, where the mall is, or to Jersey City or all the way to Newark.

I wanted to finish it before summer started. That was my goal at the beginning of the year. I didn’t know if I’d hit that fake deadline or not, but I was close already. I started it on my very first day at Art’s Cards, during some down time I invented after not wanting to keep slogging through the pile of proofs that had been growing since the day the first rumors about their having hired a new proofreader began circulating. It took almost three weeks to get all the way down to the first proof in that pile, by which time another three weeks’ worth of work had piled up. I didn’t spend a lot of time goofing off or anything.

The best part of the book, I thought, in my immaturity, was the first few pages, which I wrote straight off as a stream-of-consciousness dream that only began to make sense, even to me, after I began to develop the rest of the story. Now it was becoming a nice little stack all on its own, which was a problem only because, whether it was in notebooks or stacks of printed paper, I had to carry it with me all the time. Maybe it was nervous habit, but I had a reason.

Being a writer was always the plan. I was writing stories in elementary school. I entered my first fiction contest when I was in junior high. To write my entry, I sat at the dining room table in front of the typewriter for what seemed like weeks in a row, hammering those bouncy keys. It was also the last fiction contest I ever entered, because I didn’t win and never recovered enough to subject myself again to such a risk.

Junior high seems an early time to have wrapped myself around something that would hang with me with even more intensity as an adult. I wanted so badly to get someone to recognize a talent in me. I’m not exactly sure how hard I tried. But I desired it with tremendous greed and desperation, two hallmarks of a true genius, I’m sure. I was starting early.

But this was important to me — this writing, this putting together of words to make ideas. I found something there, something like the ability to hide. In pure compulsion I never stopped. The subsequent endless pitterings of passive rejection didn’t keep me from continuing to write or from continuing to believe in the myth of my real nature. They beat the shit out of my self-confidence and self-esteem and sense of independence and a million other things, and they forced what was left of those things to exist in a box. I wanted to hide, but not like that. My relationship with the rest of the world couldn’t have been rendered more unstable — a crumbling pile of cinder blocks and swirling dust. But writing was a given.

The first two years I spent working on it were amazing. I had never tried to write anything so long before, and it was frustrating but joyous at the same time, because after spending days or weeks trying to figure out how to accomplish something — after what seemed like an always-ever-enduring frustration in the moment, I’d eventually discover a solution, and then there I was in a new now — as a guy who had figured it out. I bought a book from the bookstore downstairs about how to get published and it said that these kinds of novels are rarely published. I was writing “literary fiction.” Sometimes people asked me what my novel was about, and the first thing I usually said was that it was “a character-driven novel, not a plot driven one,” and I never came up with a quick pitch about the book that could describe it very well. This was a problem because the whole process of trying to be one of those rare cases began, when it did happen, with the author writing “query letters” — one-page pitches about the story designed to make a seasoned literary agent want to drop everything and try to sell the book. Considering that the main features of my writing life had become self-loathing and shame, it was something I dreaded.

Those first two years were great. But I was sloppy. I wrote at home on my computer. One day the hard drive crashed and I lost everything. I spent almost two thousand dollars to try to get the data restored. The computer went away in a box and was returned along with a single CD marked “hard drive backup.” On the phone with this company before I sent it, in my immaturity, I made sure to describe exactly the directory where the book was saved, and the kinds of files I needed. The CD came back with a folder list of my hard drive, mostly as I remembered it. But what was in the folders was all mixed up. What looked like text files were folders. What looked like picture files were text files. Some weren’t anything at all. I had to go through every single bit on the CD to confirm that they hadn’t recovered a single goddamn thing of any value to me. I only had whatever I had printed out at different times, which wasn’t more than a few dozen pages. I still had those first few pages, even though by now I could have rewritten them in my sleep, I had read it so many times. The pages that were gone I could remember. I remembered the scenes I had written, and the kind of imagery I had used, and certain rhythms of the words and ideas. I tried to rewrite them, but wasn’t able to get further than parroting a few of the words my brain had randomly kept hold of. It was gone.

Out two thousand bucks and a hundred thousand words, I didn’t work on the book again for more than a year. The “now” at the time was that I felt like never writing again. Every once in a while I tried even harder to think about the parts that were gone that I remembered, and I’d sometimes try to recreate them, or even parts of them. But my only whole memory of them was that they were gone. They had attained a certain special spirit that changed them into something that never could have been recreated. Soon I gave up. The book had more meaning for me now as something irretrievably lost than as something that I had been creating from scratch. What was lost was only what was created. I couldn’t create the same things again, but the loss of them didn’t change where they had come from in the first place. That their loss was still such a tragedy spoke more to the nature of that source — of me — than to what was gone forever. But I didn’t see any of that at the time.

On weekends, the PATH train was mostly empty during the day, except for a few odd rushes of midtown shoppers. The trains still came every fifteen or twenty minutes, and I went as far as the first stop on the 34th Street line to Christopher Street. The World Trade Center train ran somewhat less frequently, and on weekends that line was used mostly to go out in the other direction to Jersey City or Newark. Not much going on in lower Manhattan on the weekends, but a lot of people used the slower, more relaxing ferry to cross over to Battery Park, or Roosevelt Park, with their kids or their bikes or blankets, sunscreen and a stash of weed to spend the in-between, down days. But now it was mostly empty, save the few other lonely passengers — and the fewer of us there are, the more we keep to ourselves.

My train wobbled through its tunnel. Standing up was a problem — it was a speedy, winding ride, like the stretches you only sometimes get on the New York City subway during long express rides through strange corners of the infrastructure. Even sitting down, the sideways thrust of certain turns stiffened most of your muscles in response. I kept my bag upright on the floor between my legs and wrote as we rode. Once the first lines were written, the rest flowed. It was all I could do to collect as many words as I could, in the right places, as they rushed towards where they were bound to disappear.

Soon the conductor’s announcement of the first stop came, and the train slowed. My body had grown accustomed to the timing of each station’s arrival and I had readied myself by packing up and waiting and reciting the next flooding words in my head so as not to lose them — they usually kept coming no matter where the train thought it was. The doors don’t stay open for long, not like at the Hoboken terminal where the trains stay put collecting their passengers before the timed departure. I jumped out and ran up the stairs.

Coming up into the West Village in the bright afternoon, I felt a surge of life. The proof is in the words I’d already written, the hope in the ones about to come, and a sense of peace about the ones I sometimes let dribble away on the floor. But I didn’t cross under the Hudson River to find another park to sit in. Here, the writing path takes me to tables and casual distractions and solitude and someone bringing me beer and, sometimes, food.

The Blind Tiger is the best place to go. Among the bright sunlight edges shimmering through the window, under the door, in my mind with the street sounds outside. There was a nice big window table inside — a nice spot to settle into and let everything else fade out. Every once in a while someone would talk to me when I was writing. But it’s okay, because what they want to talk about is the fact that I’m writing. It’s a normal conversation, not a terrible bar conversation. When I’m at the bar itself, which I have to do when I write in most of the places in Hoboken, and at my Union Square dive, the bartender and I usually end up talking. Most of these bars, even the dives, which are usually better places to write, there are usually professional bartenders — they know what they’re doing, and they don’t talk too much, or ask entirely stupid questions.

Other drinkers sometimes talk to me. I never know what to say. I’m not a fan of conversation, but it tends to happen if you’re in one place surrounded by people and alcohol all day. Once I was writing in Chumley’s, a downstairs bar a couple of blocks on the other side of Christopher Street from Blind Tiger, and these tourists took my picture. Or — they took a picture of the little corner alcove table in the front while I was sitting at it eating my hamburger and writing. That one screwed me up — I didn’t know how to keep acting normally, so I just kept writing, even after the flash drew my gaze toward them, sitting at one of the long, wide tables in the main room, surrounded by bags and maps and french fries and something safe from the long line of micro-brew taps, and we shared a confused moment. Eventually I just packed up and went home for the day.

But I was working so hard these days that few people bothered me. I would be all hunched over the thing, moving papers around, really staring hard at things, really scribbling hard on paper. And that’s where it’s at — everything else is forgotten. No work to do, no wife to talk to, no bugs flying in my face, just me and the words, and you can get going so good like this that you barely remember the beer because you actually do feel high when things are coming together, when words work, when the sentence is done — little hits each but if you get enough inertia going, they collect to really give you a high. It doesn’t happen much, but when it happens you’re fucking Superman. Coke without the coke. The thrill without the ride. It may not be thrilling to everyone, but going to sit in a dark bar in the middle of the afternoon, with a full belly and an empty notebook, with good music and pretty people but not too much or too many, sometimes with a game on the television — it’s all I want to do. This wasn’t the distraction. The world was a distraction from this.

I walked past Blind Tiger but through the window in the front I could see that there were too many people in there sitting and drinking, even standing and drinking, for me to get any work done. Up the road at the White Horse — no — if the Blind Tiger was busy, the White Horse would be busier. These early warm spring days bring everyone out, even though not all of us stay in the sun. I walked clear through the busy Village, through Washington Square Park up past the Cedar and right up to the southeast corners of Union Square, to my old reliable dive downstairs with the low ceilings and year-round Christmas lights. The name of it changes so often I stopped reading the sign. We came down here before poker games sometimes — Zachary’s apartment was down the street. I immediately noted it as a possible writing spot, and it’s come in handy on days like this when the nicer places are too crowded.

The rotating staff of bartenders can get to you. One week it’s the bitter chick whose idea of revenge against society is not washing her hair and not wearing a bra, which not for nothin is really fine with most of the people I hang out with. And she’s great to talk to, because she’s exceptionally normal, not posing at all — her look isn’t a pose even though it might be a mistake — and then the next week she’s a pissed-off fat chick whose worst nightmare is having one customer at one end of the bar and the only other customer at the other. A few months go by and now he’s some asshole who likes to call you “friend” — “What’ll ya have, friend?” — “Have a great day friend!” — still you have to tip these people, the good ones and the bad ones.

Today it’s a bad one. Draped in an oversized NYU sweatshirt, hair pulled back. She pours far too fast and my beer is a full inch short. But I’m not there for the conversation. I’m not even there for the beer. It’s just what you drink at a bar. She’s very serious and leaves me to my work, probably grateful that I’m not going to bother her, this creep in this bar at this time of the day. The guy in the corner with the newspaper is just furniture. It’s just the three of us. And my notebook. Making room on the bar is tricky sometimes — it’s one reason barstool spots are less valued than table spots, though you must balance occupying a whole table in a crowded bar vs a single barstool — I’m just an “extra” in these places, so I need to fit in or risk being pointed out, studied — this is not a pose — here there’s room, though, even though I have to lean forward to get over the bar rail. Got the pretzel bowl pushed to the side, and that little black side-by-side napkin holder and fruit container, just shifted a little to the left — all I have is my notebook and there isn’t that much room on the bar but now that I have it I can get right to transcribing where I was when I was still out on the street. I can build a scene from that one and I know where it fits so let’s just go.

The evening sure comes on strong when you’ve been drinking all day. But when it feels good it’s a really good strength, a sense of accomplishment, a powerful truth. Everything changes when the sun goes down. The trains are more crowded. Standing up is easier because you’re surrounded by other people hanging on with you, all of you providing bodies of balance between the chrome poles and the transient advertisements slid into their metal slots on the walls of the car. A great mass of bodies swaying to the loud rumbling track rolling click click clack and the stuttering lights blinking in through the windows speeding past different tunnel points — switches, warning lights, other lights I don’t know what — and the wobbling of the train itself, which always seemed to a certain bad degree not quite affixed to the track, sent train-length rattles into the hidden wires and cables providing light and safety and the kind of certain assurance that the car we were in was firmly attached to the ones ahead and behind. But any sense of that can be based only on faith. We go into the train on faith, without any information whatsoever about this length of cars resting on this length of tracks and how the whole thing is going to work together and, in the right places, stick together. It might be magnetized — I’m in no position to speculate on the details. All we know is that the engineers and other decision makers behind this thing have decided that they have reduced our risk to an acceptable level. There are no guarantees in life, so we have to trust that other people value our lives as much as we do. I do know that the whole thing seemed to be working just fine, using all the same pieces and parts found on the other lines, every day since these days were there for me to see. There is an occasional glitch, but never much more than three or four minute delays. Sometimes late at night, when the station stops are cut down to every thirty minutes, then, later, to every hour, those normal operations can make it seem like you’re experiencing a glitch. In the twenty-first century sitting six beers past wasted, bolstered only by marijuana’s lingering paranoia, now with its antennae out and in a fizzy limp panic of its own, forced to lie on some platform somewhere, having found a little spot that looks like a good place to lie down on the grimy subway platforms, you do exactly that, poking your hands into and pulling other parts apart from your bag to form it into some kind of makeshift pillow, for to sleep on the floor of the subway platform because even in your haze you managed to understand that the next train was going to pass you in about half an hour going in the wrong direction before hitting the Herald Square terminal to park for a time before turning around to come and get you. The pillow doesn’t work out. It’s all just lumps and corners. With my head already on it, though, I can find a way to rest evenly between what feels like my paperback book of poems and a pair of my top-spiral-bound notebooks, which are offset just a bit from the paperback, giving me a nice little frame in which to rest my head. By this time I’m clearly drunk so I can’t just fall asleep or I might miss the train. It’s not like that’s never happened before, and every minute counts when you’re surrounded by rats and the dark dripping vestiges of the sewer system, not to mention the arbitrary batch of other loners trying to not let it all explode, trying to keep it to themselves, ourselves.

Hoboken in the late evening has a funny, paused feeling to it — the daytime traffic of people buying clothes and furniture, looking for new apartments, walking the dog, pushing the stroller, has slowed away, and the clubs and party bars have their front doors propped open in the tentative cooling breeze of these almost summer days, but they’re still empty, those places, and I can see only darkness inside their doors as I pass by them on the sidewalk headed uptown. We had a nice apartment now, not the cramped and dim basement space of my two bachelor years here. The new place was on Washington Street, just to the uptown side of Eighth Street, where the commercial storefronts gave way to brownstones and rowhouses and the occasional church, doctor’s office or restaurant or bar. It was quiet up here — nice, but still close enough to the action to see it. We had a front porch and were only on the second floor, so standing out on the porch put you right on the street if that was where you wanted to be. But I sometimes felt guilty sitting out there, so close to the people passing on the sidewalk. Most porches in Hoboken are just fire escapes and I was never very comfortable being envied. It’s just too much pressure.
and knowing i'm so eager to fight cant make letting me in any easier.

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Post by judih » February 6th, 2010, 3:17 am

i've been reading this.
it's a lot to read
sometimes i feel too many words going on & sometimes, i'm right there with you.

more details coming up.

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Post by firsty » February 9th, 2010, 1:35 pm

i struggled with the first dramatic moments of this chapter, and a few days ago i cut much of the "bagel scene" because it just wasnt working like i had intended. i'm looking forward to your comments on it!

i'm posting chapter 2 shortly.
and knowing i'm so eager to fight cant make letting me in any easier.

[url=]Steal This Book Vol 2[/url]

[url=]Get some hosting![/url]

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Post by jimboloco » April 7th, 2010, 11:06 am

That’s when I appreciate the true distance between perceptive understandings and the kinds of things we communicate in writing. The huge variety and constantly changing nature of artistic expression, from the lowest of the kitsch to the highest of the genius inspirations, is a result of the frustrating inability to just express ourselves. When it happens well, when something good is created, the feeling is always the same — that the artist accessed something familiar and meaningful but previously elusive to the audience.
at first, firsty, no pun intended, i had a sense of some kind of som·ber·ness
then, as i was going along with addie, 8) i was drawn in by the utter clarity and suc·cinct·ness of the ideas, process, and con·cise·ly sensed salient features of his now, not flourish nor pomp, your powerful good is an absolute standard here, a melding of aesthetic and clarity...

i once visited with a white professor of english at a black college in georgia....i asked him whether he felt it was more important to teach correct gram·mar or to teach to be more expressive....he stated obviuosly the former, and was not able to see the value of expression in african american vernacular english, eubonics, mercy

shit, i ain't dyin fer no rich white man, but i'll take a bullet fer you, firsty, i'll be right behind judih an deisel dyke, ma'an, an judih, step aside, m'sister ma'am, besides, i thought i saw visions of you making tea inside your poetry, cooling the shakes, centering into your beau·te·ous spirit...amen, i rest my case
[color=darkcyan]i'm on a survival mission
yo ho ho an a bottle of rum om[/color]

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