gloss

I think sometimes of her parents. How her dad was a public defender and her mom a schoolteacher on the southside of Chicago. But more like “that,” though, more “that” than “how.” I know the that and can only make up the how and now feel compelled to apologize for the “ “ but this ain’t spoken word, it’s written so I work with what I’ve got.

We talked for an hour and for that whole hour about work, my work. But not my work, that is, my job, rather, which I so truly do despise. An hour about that alone and I didn’t say a word about two ailing dads. I think because I’m ok with that, strange as it may sound, at least by comparison. That’s ok somehow, ill health and the prospect of doomy gloomy death and the significant altering of lives. But work, now, now that’s not ok at all. Because it’s not real but only acts it like the facts fit and that to me seems untruthful and with that I cannot deal. Ailing dads matter and mattering is ok.

But the work is real, it is, I know, I know despite the things I say that it’s real as real can be, and far realer than it should and that’s the shame, the little buzzing bug that bites. As real as the personal details I say don’t matter compared to what I want to be seen as, what I think I am, when I already am what I am and here I am again putting outcome over process. That’s real.

The other me, though, the free and living artist-fiction me, he’s my velveteen rabbit yearning to be seen, the image and the dream real and those are my terms and that’s nothing but control, really. I should write a story about that but I already am. The Man Who Yearns to be Seen on His Terms, I should call it but won’t because that’s boring and too long, and I’ll push it in everyone’s faces like Arturo Bandini with The Little Dog Laughed before Camilla leaves me and I say what the fox says and that’s fuck it.

I should instead write a story about a cement truck driver because his concerns are different. Maybe he reads Nietzsche. And he before he took up driving maybe he taught English (the language, not lit) to immigrant adults at a small community center NGO type of establishment with bad plumbing and kids’ crafts and fliers for community events on the walls encouraging people to vote and become citizens. I mean become citizens and vote. Maybe he teaches English to adults with limited or no proficiency and teaches it by focusing his lessons on Whorfian concepts of how language works, how it shapes reality and he tells them in some very uncertain terms about linguistic relativity and that it matters how they speak and gradually his class dwindles because these are adults with families and jobs and anything else to do, dwindles just like every other ESL class at this small community center NGO type of establishment with bad plumbing and even worse ventilation like what comes in stays in and he realizes that maybe this isn’t for him and he should go out, maybe he should drive a cement truck where things make sense and happen. And he’d live in Chicago like her parents did before they couldn’t stand it anymore and moved to that place in Mexico from The Shawshank Redemption and came down with hepatitis and like foxes said fuck it again and went to San Diego because that’s a place and maybe it’s the kind of place that that place in Mexico from The Shawshank Redemption and Chicago would have if they could have a baby. And the whole goddamn thing would be made up of life details that don’t matter, just like for real, and that’d be the story and the story would matter because I’d make it with language and not just language but feeling and in the end he’d pack up and leave Chicago too and go somewhere in the sun and in the story I’d be better at placing periods and saying the end because I wouldn’t give a shit about outcome, only process.

Or I could write a story and tell my life details that don’t matter till I make them. They’re all real, as real as sick dads and as real as I so often sometimes imagine my terms to be and that’s as real as the fact that I still don’t want to talk about what I do to pay the bills unless it’s to talk about how what I do to pay bills wears on me and makes me afraid I’ll never do anything but some kind of something-to-pay-the-bills which is quite precisely the last goddamn thing on earth and in this great wide universe I know next to nothing about that I ever wanted my life to be, me to be. Because why.

But I’m both not it and I am, and what I am is whole and real already, always, even when I fight to break it apart into big piles of Matters and Doesn’t. Even when I relativize, the language is all the same and the words are all there and it’s only ever a matter of how, how I just want you to love me so I won’t leave anything out. The end.

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