Originally published on April 30, 1996
Yo Steve, your gnat is gnawing at my forehead. Was too depressed, especially after re-reading your clutch notes yesterday to respond with anything worth a van Gogh ear. Did get back to Tom Howell, however. He's a practicing HTML author now, quite proud in his jest, and sent his brag to "Gabriel" just like family. He always manages to bring a smile and leave with sarcastic froth in his mouth.
Your job as literary mariner, erudite barrister of science, and master of the elements of conventional style, often paint you as a strange man on a high horse. Both creatures of signature bombastdelight in sporting the absolute finest in men's Italian shoes and scarves, dark shades and French lidsbut the only one of you whom I love dearly is however, combining three parts incredulity and two parts wrecklessness a fifth at a time in taking its existential toll on me. A small justifiable toll, I grant, so is one I recognize and simply weather, like you do the gale storms I sail your way just to show you I know we're both bobbleheading in the same pernicious seas. That's just the price we pay for playing ourselves in real life. I'd sweat doughnuts to have your job in some office working on the best Mac in the land laying out a century-old nationally-subscribed monthly magazine. So there's to gravy, now to the grease.
Wish I could help you in your continuing status search, but one quick glance into the mirror in the age of the button down suit and cleavage bearing white blouse or comfortable sweater is solid evidence I have failed to measure up in the corporate fashion department. Just color me uncomfortable in my own clothes, skin, and genetic slingshot. You are well-groomed, great teeth and jawline, always have a domestic parachute with two active parents of immediate and sustainable pedigree, and are riding a career path with options in both the here and now and then whatever else opens up down the pike worth pursuing, but you slum like a rogue, fester in cubicle culture disputes and self-imagined feuds in the corporate world you actually own in character and candlepower, so as a result it is your fate to have stumbled all the way down to us. Gabriel the post-engineer stay at home white cracker punk rock pin-up stooge from a crumpled past, and then there's Tim, the drug-infested slum child, roll your own bicycle hop, pick 'em up, put 'em down, broken collar bone shipwreck reeling from such a farce of family unity that we, Tim and I, stand front and center as those two imaginary sticks of dynamite you keep in your saddlebag for blowing yourself out of this job and into another because you imagine the game is all in jest, a jovial antediluvian joust, a sealed with a handshake junket to the top rungs of the corporate ladder in a few hops or less. Been there, done that, mister. Only the entertainment savant can come out of nowhere. Everyone else waits in line because there are far more people chasing your job than there are struggling for a record contract, as queer as that sounds.
Friendly messianic impulses recoil as we try to separate the body from the mind, or the mind from its redeemer, commander, or jolly hat sized mimic, accompanied by the same long checklist of equivocating characteristics we've known about ourselves from the earliest memories of our own precocious lives, characteristics and traits we name just so we can slap them about the therapy room, traits we probably called by different names then, but as we begin to learn that words have consequences only when backed by power structure assets that reject language as important, do we embrace the paradox of greater understanding. It is then that conservative idea must come to pass in out lives again. This is the genetic or scientific approach we sense as the true path, or else we stumble across it like hobos, remember hobos, crossing over the rails for a better view of the same thousand feet of track, and figure we don't have a white man's chance in Harlem to actually re-invent ourselves to suit the new opportunities we find writing code in flipping mash upon our former world in word and picture, skin and tragedy, speed and oblivion, frick and frack. We clutch for hope that our highest aspiration remains our surest fallback position as we dally with a strengthening opposition. Yes, just like that rolling stone you admire, no contribution known...
My own most glorious excitement of the day was Sue allowing, even offering to keep the whole house cool today with air conditioning. She never sets rules, never makes demands, or bemoans her fate with me, and I mean never, never chooses what meal to cook or restaurant to choose (God, I hate that she is so inert), so I was a bit tickled yesterday when she told me with an unfamiliar authority that it was too early to turn on the AC. There is still some confusion in my box whether she knew her spanky new luggage was due at the house yesterday. It came, but was delivered across the street to house no. 110. Don't even know those people, but I do know the neighborhood and let's just say we were lucky to get our package. Insert alleged racist remark here.
Missing a delivery irks me enough. Knowing that I didn't even know to expect a package that day had me twisted in knotnumbing speeches to myself. She surprisingly got on the phone and gave that piece of mind that almighty customers are supposed to inspire. But knowing a delivery was coming hasn't kept me from missing eight to a dozen deliveries over the past few years. Ah, but what is missing from this picture? Sue must have known it was coming but she neglected to tell me, or remind me because this transaction was initiated on her order. Yes, she surprised me by harrassing UPS (it turns out; I mistakenly thought it was a JC Penney's direct delivery with a glance at the delivery paper. UPS is not mentioned anywhere, but Sue obviously called with knowledge.) Anyway, I've let go of that issue until it pops up again. Her luggage is sassy, and bless baby with baboon oils, it's obvious her Carribbean cruise is shaping and tidying up in her mind as the calendar drills onward.
That brings us full circle back to you. I can't respond to your unSETled or UNsetLING loops except by running it back onto you. I figure you figure Tim, Sue, and I are your set. But while each of us chagrin in general challenges to what appears to be each of our individual, and better or worse for it, our collective fate, we surf day to day realizing each wave and splash will take care of itself one way or the other just as you do. So you seem stung by the most grievous tentacle in the sea, as you wing it touting credentials of full blown vanity.
Has x changed, or has the quality quotient changed? What caused us to change?
This is a mystery I suggest the philosophers, the mathmeticians, the psychologists, the theologians, the aarTvarks, the united we piss paragons, and the warbugles get together to solve, but then again, the word fails us also. Until the word can mend as well as it melts the flesh as mind, we cannot rest as advocates of full knowledge, and replicated consciousness in those who would be anybody's avengers. Do we ever avenge past failures? Acquiescence to this chain in life, however fragile an acquiescence, is to accept one's bland experimental kinetic placement in this whistling dixie of a world. Doing due diligence in all matters is the only path I can recommend from one moment to the next until breaking away and deliverance is within grasp. Acquiescence. It's a role. A puzzle. An almighty gig just as big as anything we played in the game thus far.
To actually have done this over here ain't much different from having done that over there. To achieve anything without factoring in this finer evidence stoolpigeoned up against our biases and our prides is to fool ourselves of our misplaced recognitions. It's not about value or unvalue. It's about both, and there is no separation of state and status. Would Colin Powell really think he would be any different a man whether he is president of the United States or simply a retired soldier, a self-confessed Republican, a busy and influential party member at that, good husband and father, and distinguished symbol for an amazingly broad spectrum of people?
And communication boils, hot springs
we flock against in hordes still wet behind the ears
from our last visit to the sources of good
riddance and circumstance
lockjaws rifled by the word
timed riddles still waters
flooding our echoes
flames filled and felled
as the woods the would nots
and the teachers resort to tears
comic fears basic hogwash
mister to clean our stripping
canons of doubt
figures in between the couch
the clue and the closet
salvaged for memories
or something else entirely.