Tuesday, January 19, 2010

From a new short story- 'Chasing the Ants'

I’ve learned things about bugs since I’ve moved here. I’m like the Loren fucking Green of urban vermin. For example, they like blood. Weird, I know. I get frequent nosebleeds and wadded up tissues blossom in the trash like deep red peonies. That’s when the bugs get frantic, rushing right over my bare toes to get at it. Goddamn vampires.

I forgot to get light bulbs from the 7-Eleven last night so the lamp on the table is dead. Instead I have to put on the milky yellow overhead. It reminds me of phlegm, makes the whole apartment look like its been sneezed on. Makes all my brown pants and worn sweaters seem dusty.

Just enough time to cut my jaw three times with a dull razorblade, put clothes on (brown pants, lint covered sweater I’ll pick clean later, light blue jockies with a rip at the waistband, black socks of different height) and get fixed up for the morning.

I have a real bad habit of being disorganized and messy, which is probably why I have so many goddamn bugs- there are at least a thousand great hiding spots for them in this one room apartment. I have more bugs than dishes, more dust bunnies than forks. Oh well. Fuck it. I only eat cereal here anyways, sometimes with milk, sometimes with water. It doesn’t really matter as long as the marshmallows are hydrated so they don’t disintegrate to powder between my teeth. And now that I have my sweater on, salt-stained shoes laced up, that’s where I go, to the cupboard to the cereal box, the Lucky Charms.

There is ultimately something cathartic about Bachelor Apartments. First of all, their very name brings to mind a quiet kind of personal failure, a soft yet biting inability to check off the top box on life’s most primal list. The shame in the address gets it all out of that immobile stage of silent denial, releases the mobilizing hope that just maybe you’re on the right track. Because if you are old enough to be living on your own, and indeed have been for six long years, and you still only need and/or can afford a Bachelor Apartment, there is something inherently wrong with you, my friend. Secondly, it can bring the most hideous of your beasts to dinner. There is not much space in which to hide bad habits, dirty tendencies or the congealed shame that lives in corners and under beds. There is something poignantly revealing about eating in the same room you sleep in.

I take down two boxes; one goes on the table beside a clean placemat, the other in between my knees as I sit on the wobbly vinyl covered chair. I eat out of the one on my lap. I take my junk out of the one on the table, carefully laying the baggie, blade, lighter, straw (cut in half) and a small shard of mirror on the placemat- a vinyl jobbie stolen from a Ponderosa Steakhouse years ago when the Ponderosa seemed like a sophisticated way to spend a Saturday night. There are brown rings burnt into it from overly hot cups of coffee served by overweight waitresses with nothing to look forward too; their arm flab swinging slowly above their elbows like fleshy white flags signaling surrender.

From the New Manuscript- Paper Shoes

CHAPTER 1: A Star is Born

There is a galaxy of odd planets spinning around Ruby Bloom’s head. The planets, alike in shape but unique in detail, are hung intermittently like ornaments on a balding Christmas tree left standing into January.

The big purple one is Anxiety and has grown in the slipstream of Guilt, a smooth, loud planet with two moons; Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Agoraphobia. The black one is Envy. It’s crusted with ice and heavy like pewter. The pink spotted one, a loud sparkly affair, is Fantasy and it careens wildly about like a ball on a snooker table after the break. There is a shiny amber globe that catches passing light; a small marble named Longing that is the brightest of all the orbs.

When Ruby drinks tea it’s through a straw that must run carefully between a paranoid asteroid belt and the constellation Apathy. Her shirts all have wide v-necks so they don’t snag on celestial bodies when she’s getting dressed. And any boy she has ever kissed reports mysterious bruises and slight burn marks about the hairline.

The galaxy prevents Ruby from getting any real sleep. It hinders the wearing of hats, so she must settle for thin ribbons and specifically placed barrettes on special occasions. It is this chaotic and delicately balanced universe stuck fast around her dark head that alienates Ruby from the rest of the world, for in order to maintain its safety and function she must remain in isolation.

Her universe did not start with a big bang of cosmic proportions, but rather grew more gradually, from a trauma that occurred in the middle of an otherwise quiet childhood. It began the day Ruby Bloom, then age seven and a half, killed her grandfather.