selfie #3

i didn’t do anything with my day that i intended to do, mostly because what i intended to do was write, and i didn’t do much of that.

i woke up later that i meant to. my alarm went off at 7:30 and i rode that snooze setting hard until it gave up and i awoke again, on my own, at not quite half past 10. then i got up and made some coffee and drank it while kathie lee and hoda prattled on on the television and i scrolled through twitter and facebook newsfeeds. i always make a full pot of coffee even though it is just me and i probably don’t need all that coffee. i drink it very quickly and by my third cup i’m shaking and i feel alive and unconquerable. also as if i could smoke all of the cigarettes known to man, which by now i am probably well on my way to accomplishing.

(i like to temper this feeling of unconquerability with a little bit of marijuana, which is best smoked as close to first thing in the morning as possible, though never absolutely first thing–a cup or two of coffee before hand is preferable, and perhaps a spot of breakfast, though the breakfast should be something small, like a single banana, or some granola in greek yogurt, or one scrambled egg.)

as i said, i meant to spend the day writing, as there are a few things i am working on, but i became distracted by:

  • a book i am reading, by claire-louise bennett, called pond, which is a lovely and beguiling bit of witchcraft which has had me in its enthrallment these past two days. in fact i’d have finished it by now but i’m taking the book slowly, which i like to do sometimes, reading it in small doses so as to savor its meticulous unfolding.
  • by various things on the internet, including but not limited to anything i could get my hands on w/r/t how fierce and regal and absolutely eternal mrs obama was at the DNC last night, pond and claire-louise bennett, and, according to my history, a not insignificant amount of ostensibly amateur porn.
  • a trip to the library to get a book i know i only just heard about today but decided i had to have immediately, though i can’t for the life of me remember how i heard about it. the book is a collection of short stories called you are having a good time by amie borrodale, and i was thinking that i read about it during my search for whatever interviews i might find with claire-louise bennett, but a search of my browser history today generates not a single hit matching either the book’s title or its author’s name. i would think the book didn’t exist and i made the whole thing up, because i can be susceptible to remembering dreams as reality, but alas, the book is here on my desk next to me.

the library is not far so i walked there. there are many historic houses and other buildings in my neighborhood, some of which have fallen into disrepair. there is a big yellow house on the corner that now functions as a law office or something, the paint of which is peeling terribly so that the structure looks like a house-shaped snake shedding its skin–or, more precisely, like pam from true blood in that episode where marnie puts a hex on her and her face starts falling off. for the past several weeks a troupe of college guys have been rectifying this situation. i like to walk by and see them on their ladders, in their gym shorts, some of them with their shirts off. there are between four and six guys working on the house, and three of them of have very impressive bodies, and they are always the ones with their shirts off. two of them have only semi-impressive bodies, and only sometimes are they shirtless. there is one who seems not to fit amongst the other, whose body is not at all impressive, according to socially accepted standards of beauty; that is, he is a pudgy fellow, toe-headed and pale, and never shirtless, and whenever i pass i feel a slight sympathy for the pudgy one. his refusal to discard his shirt–even last week, when it was almost a hundred degrees by 11 am–betrays, i think, his own unease with his body, an unease i’m sure is only compounded by his adonis-cut brethren. the others are all tanned from going about shirtless.

there is one in particular who seems like god’s very idea of manhood: six-pack abs, rippling arms, a back like snakes coiled in a barrel. his hair is dark and curly. today when i walked by he was standing on the back porch of the building, shirtless of course, wearing a pair of gray gym shorts slung low enough i could see the elastic band of his underwear. he was talking to a short middle-aged woman standing inside an open door. the porch was close enough to the street that when i passed i could marvel at the sweat that glistened on the young man’s skin and the full round muscles of his ass in his gym shorts. obviously, because it is possible i am a sex addict, i started imagining all manner of erotic scenarios involving myself and the young employee of Collegiate Painters, LTD., but by the time i reached the library and the young man was long out of view i began to feel stupid for being so attracted to someone so blatantly attractive. it was too easy. the muscles, the athletic wear, the job doing manual labor out of doors at the height of summer. everything about him was so quintessentially masculine it is no wonder i nearly twisted my ankle in a crack on the sidewalk from trying to feast my hungry eyes on his succulence as long as i could, hoping against hope my sunglasses colored my cruising with a shade of discretion. here was a specimen of manhood so pure and unadulterated there was no doubt it had similarly captivated countless girls and women and gay boys and men in the past. he was basically a sean cody model.

the points is its embarrassing, that i was so attracted to the painter. i know nothing about him other than the slope traced by my eye of his lower back, yet still, based on a good set of gluts or whatever and some well-formed abdominals i’m fantasizing about riding his dick until i pass out and then, after i come to, swearing myself to him for eternity. i should be better than that. i’m not muscle boy (although i had a brilliant set of abs for approximately three months following a nasty bronchial infection a few years back) but i do think about muscles a lot. whenever i see a dude with really huge muscles i immediately think of what it would be like to have sex with him, and always, without i fail, imagine the the hottest sex possible. full on porn-star style sex, the kind, of course, that ends in the temporary obliteration of consciousness and cumming hands-free. these fantasies always include my body (diminished in the fantasy) being deftly manhandled by the brute, who knows just how to turn and flip and pose me. it doesn’t matter. for a while i worked in bar that got kind of rowdy after a certain hours on the weekends so we kept a bouncer at the door. he was one of those swole guys you see shuffling around in GNC or something. he always wore these little t-shirts that clung to every single one of his ridiculous muscles and a baseball cap backward and those horrible jeans with embellished back pockets and i remember even now how unattractive i found his scrunched little face, his tiny, close-set eyes, how short he was. even so i never failed to imagine what it would be like bury my face betwixt his huge pectorals and grab onto the huge biceps i knew would prove too large to palm while his rammed himself in and out of me at jack rabbit speed, because, in my head, these muscular guys are always beats when they fuck. the muscles are for picking you up and tossing you around a little bit. (in a sexy, nonviolent way.)

these fantasies persist despite the fact that i’ve actually had sex with precisely two men you could reasonably categorize as muscular–i don’t mean the regular, everyday muscles of men who work with their bodies or jog in the mornings or make it to the gym a handful of times a month, i mean muscular extravagance such as you are likely to see at bodybuilding conventions or under the muscle tab on pornhub–and in both cases the sex was thoroughly disappointing.

round-up

  • frederick douglass & photography & “semi-barbarous America” according to the ever-luminescent Jill Lepore via The New Yorker
  • this bad-ass collection of short stories by joanna walsh
  • serial killers are back in fashion, apparently.
  • the playwright suzan-lori parks was doing this cool performance piece/writing workshop called “watch me work” where she sits at a desk in the lobby of a museum and writes (on a typewriter; infuriating) in front of an audience. the audience (probably 100% of them writers) is instructed to write along with her. this last for a period of time and then is followed by a talk-back session in which the audience talk to/with parks about “their creative process.”i do find the idea little tacky and disingenuous. like just have a workshop. but parks is avant garde and always undertaking some new project-endeavor, and on the other, completely contrarian hand, i kind of like the idea. i like how she’s at once down to earth and completely out there. in any case, i found old livestreams on youtube and did it along with the video. i couldn’t interact (obvs!), but i did feel a sense of community. not sure why i’m mentioning this. every day there’s some atrocity on the news, i can’t keep up. i’d be more afraid of the world except i rarely go out in it, which is perhaps the epoch we are approaching, where we live in our computers.
  • last november, michael cunningham quietly released a collection of short stories called “a wild swan” that are modern, adult re-tellings of classic fairytales. i say “quietly released” because i didn’t know about it until last week, when i chanced upon it at the library. i was browsing, enjoying the free air-conditioning, and i very spontaneously thought to myself, see what they have by michael cunningham. at the time i didn’t think much of it and i wasn’t expecting anything new, but now i wonder if cunningham’s spirit wasn’t calling out to me from the dusty library shelves. i’ve been reading him since high school and own all of his books, some of which i’ve read more than once. there are passages from flesh and blood and the hours and speciman days i have committed to memory. as an adolescent i used to get off to some scenes in a home at the end of the world and i thought by nightfall fixed everything i think is wrong with death in venice. in any case, i was so surprised by the new book i questioned whether i was thinking correctly. i was unwilling to believe a new book had come out and i’d simply missed it, so for confirmation i quickly opened the book in search of an author photo–he likes that one where he’s wearing the black shirt and has his hand on his chin and leather bracelets on his wrist, his hair spiky and hip, not quite smiling, vaguely evoking a daddy at the beginning of a porno flick. There wasn’t one. But the bio confirmed it: i’d been asleep. i immediately commenced reconciling the situation. the highest praise i can personally give the book is to say that it reminded me that michael cunningham is my favorite writer. traditionally a novelist, it was interesting and fun to see him tackle the short story. we already know what he can do with works in re-telling: see the hours, in which he inhabits both virginia woolf and her novel mrs dalloway, and speciman days, in which he uses the poetry of walt whitman to fuck around with genre in literature. he is a master prose stylist. these stories–updates on rapunzel, snow white, jack and the beanstalk, and hansel & gretel, among others–are at turns funny, tragic, cloying, sad, campy, even ernest, and cunningham’s pure talents with language and form are on full display. i breezed through the book and it made me want to go back and read the rest of his books.

work

An essay I was going to write about Rihanna’s song WORK based on a conversation I’d had one night while nursing a Jameson neat and a Rolling Rock with a friend of mine in a bar that was still gay and where you could still smoke. I had been excited about writing it. But when I sat down to work on it I realized the only thing I really wanted to say about the song was to point out how its varying incomprehensibility—the muddled vocals, the monotonous, almost mumbled lyrics—reminded me of trying to talk to you. The devolution into unintelligibility, into something that is language but not quite. Indeed, “What can I say?” Rihanna-as-narrator implores of her lover, at one point about halfway through the song. In answer, the “Work, work, work, work, work” of the chorus becomes something like “werh, werh, werh, werh, werh,” punctured by gibberish, by nonsense, on loop. I though it was smart—clever, in a way, even if it was a bit winky. The chorus even evokes the colloquial “blah blah blah” lovers on the outs often use to mock each other. As if to say, there’s nothing you can say. Please recognize I’m trying babe. But I never wrote that essay and this is not it. I’ve never been a fan of Rihanna’s but there were many songs on that album that made me think of you.

of course, i know it is dumb to think of you when there are real things happening.

for two days i have been paralyzed in front of facebook as things get worse and worse.

i mourned the lives of my brothers quietly because i can’t do it online anymore. i’m tired of that. there’s a degree to which i appreciate the solidarity people are expressing, but there’s something i’ve always found trite about the weepy memes and the shallow infographics. and, as things keep getting worse and worse with little signs of improvement, can we conclude already that that shit isn’t actually effecting any real change? am i wrong about this? “say their names” we demand. of our politicians, of our journalists, of the NRA. yet we ourselves do not say them. we write them. we type them out. we cram them into sentiments expressed in 240 characters or less. that is not speech.

or am i here purporting a logocentric ideology?

yet i think there is a difference. for instance, the voice of the cop in the philandro castile video turned my stomach. at first i thought i was hearing fear in his voice, or even regret–but that was the idealist in me being cute. if there was fear it was fear of what was to come, and not what had transpired; if there was regret it was regret for the repercussions of his actions, and not the actions themselves. the voice of the officer in the philandro castile video does crack and break in something that sounds like anguish, but it is not for philandro.

what is fact is that the man’s first inclination when presented with the reality of a (legally) armed, apparently compliant black man was to shoot him–as philandro’s girlfriend reminds us, “not one time, not two times, not three times, not four times, but five. times.”

“i told him to keep his hands open!” the police officer can be heard to shout, never dropping aim.

in any case his first reaction after shooting an armed though compliant black man was to place entirely the blame for the events at the feet of the dying black man. his death was his own fault. i was not surprised by this but when i saw it something slid smooth and wicked into place. i told him to keep his hand open. no matter that philandro had told the officer he had a gun and the papers for it (an expert on the today show said that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do if you get pulled over and you happen to be armed: tell the cop right away that you’re legally carrying). no matter that he was, according to philandro’s girlfriend in the video, attempting to furnish his driver’s license and registration (another thing you’re supposed to do when you get pulled over).

philandro castile was behaving exactly as he should and they still shot him.

that’s the reality of black life in america.

black people get shot for doing exactly what they’re supposed to do and ya’ll still wanna talk at us about all lives matter. bitch WE know that. it’s YA’LL that keep missing the memo.