Laughing at a joke is a start but it is not JOY.

I woke up at 5 a.m. on New Year’s Eve and listened to the trash truck for awhile though all it did was back up over and over. It had a plow attached to it and was supposed to be clearing blocked side streets but did so ineffectually. That made me remember to commence a survey of all that I’d squandered, e.g., an opportunity to learn about butchering from a butcher. I feared that my days of getting jobs were over and that there would be no babies to compensate. Honesty is the best policy. Trash pick up has been suspended due to snow. A few apple trees have retired from fruit giving. The yard is no place for this sort of behavior.

“Have you ever been inTurkey, in Erzurum? We were three boys, in front of the historical place, and you. Are you that Jennifer? We were students at turizm and hotel high school. We gave you a type caset of Turkish music. Do you remember us? You and me and my friends Umit and Korhan? I think your father vas a baker. You were a student at university as Cristian divinity. Is it true?” 

If only success in business were a matter of coordinating colors. Is color light on fire? What would spray feel like in prose?

I read that at 150 miles long Broadway is one of the longest streets in the world. I have been on the verge of advertising this fact to my friend group as well as the idea of walking or bicycling the length of – wait a minute. A hundred and fifty miles? I don’t think so.

I have known too few accomplishments in my life. Though I balked when Mr. Clark asked me at our first meeting what I’d ever done for my country he wasn’t wrong to wonder and it wasn’t too late for me, not then, not now. Though two of his children had killed themselves at least he had the Red Sox. It was a fever. His father a long jumper and high jumper had won two gold medals at the 1896 Olympics inAthens. The poor kids. It is a standard formulation.

I realize my internal life has no buoyancy. I can hold it up, but without external supports it sinks. I’ve become a spotted person, i.e. there are brown spots on my legs.

It’s like the feeling you get when someone you used to love but don’t anymore shows you the beautiful view right outside your window which could be yours if only you’d open the curtains and your sister’s there beating you to it so you want to slap the life out of both of them (ex-boyfriend and sister) but can’t. It depends on how little you came to love them.

The gleam in his eye is Mylar metallic yarn.

Amy and Bill weren’t home when we got there and a neighbor explained he’d been watching a guinea hen lay eggs all morning. Whatever, I thought. We hadn’t been swimming in ages so we jumped in before Amy and Bill got back. I saw a walking stick on the telephone wire and watched it flex its little joints. I also saw what I took to be a grouse flying in formation with birds of a totally different species.

We hadn’t even been in Los Angelesfor more than five minutes when Jason climbed down a rocky embankment. I tried to follow him but it was too steep. Then I got a job at a bookstore and was asked to start immediately. I was supposed to mind a sidewalk table but I walked away and never went back. We had a vanload of stuff but no apartment. Mary Jo and Paul had hired movers. They had an apartment. I noticed Paul’s bundles of cash were exposed. I pocketed one and hid the rest from view. I planned to blame it on the movers.

In a room overlooking the ocean. All the windows are open. A strong wind is blowing in. Little or no distance between me and the waves. They are right in my face! People on the beach let the wind lift their skirts and expose their legs. That’s what it means to say yes.

Sometimes I find it impossible to believe what people say. Like for example I’ve never believed it when people say they are worried about me and that is what motivates them. But what can I do? Give them more and leave myself with less? I barely know them!

The many things that fight over one thing particularly if the many are smaller or larger than the one must be a category of joke.

Friends of mine who either thought that in having sex with them I was trying to stab them to death or who suspected me of being in cahoots with The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence who also wanted to kill them are no longer my friends. Generally speaking it seems that a pre-requisite of friendship is that one share a similar level of mental health with the prospective friend and that if a friend goes crazy the friendship is diminished. A perfect blendship.

Sometimes I feel like I’m dancing or feel how I’d want to feel if I were a dancer though the words dance, dancer and dancing make me uncomfortable. Or maybe the feeling is about a slalom skier. It’s definitely athletic in nature and sounds like sports.

Eventually the excesses we begrudged her (and for which we despised her) finally led to her undoing, and he who was so unabashedly self-seeking remained unscathed. It’s easy to despise women, the ones who get what they want and those who don’t, or who don’t know what they want.

We were sitting around a campfire. Billy Crudup was there. My mother kept starting her sentences with We. I knew it wasn’t a loony thing but I made the circular gesture with my index finger pointing at my head. “Who’s we?” She didn’t answer. Unable to sleep under the stars, I paced the gallery of porch windows. Some people including my oldest sister were night swimming. Everyone had plenty of room. Attempts to distinguish my sister from the others were futile. I envied her.

For himself, Anthony said, Oh I’m terrible. Nothing specific. Our friend Katie’s visit seemed like a good excuse to finally go to theScientology-sponsoredPsychiatryKillsMuseumnear his house. He added, “I’m writing you instead of masturbating. What’s weird is I think I agree with most of what they say about the mental health industry. And I can walk there.”

Though her grandmother on one side wrapped a comforting arm around her and a stranger on the other patted her hand she cried and shook in her tiered ruffled skirt when her mother got off the train. Is there such a thing as too much comfort? All that crying in stores and cars and on trains and streets. You didn’t see the faces of strangers through the tears. Where did they all go? What a choir, the cries of children. All together now! I wonder what camp songs kids sing in unison on buses these days. I hear them as the bus yields the right of way but it’s only gibberish.

Many of these dresses are ones that no one but me would like.

The boy watched the woman. She engaged him briefly with a bit of her business then continued reading. This did not dissuade him. The little girl kept straining over the safety bar of her stroller and clapping her hands around the man’s leg though she’d been told no with a look.

Why do you say these things? If it’s not knowledge, don’t say it. Meteorologists claim they’re right 85 percent of the time. What’s the point of talking if we’re all just saying things. What if we’re all just heads that never made it out of the mud? Thickened milk sauce served on toast in the Navy. We talk and then we die.

The more I wanted them to tackle me, the less likely they were to do it. It was a hard lesson to not learn. It made everyone else’s drama so much more interesting than mine.

Most likely I’ll ask for a priest in my death throes. One minute there’s the smell of lavender in the window and the next it’s fried chicken. Anthony says I’m a sap for sexual tension and love stories involving anyone who is coarse or bitter.

You know what we should probably do Mike? What? Mike says. Put one of your blankets over your dresser. While Dad thought about his dresser Mike tried to have a quiet moment with his girlfriend. He turned to Dad who was staring into the cargo hold of the SUV where the dresser was. I wondered where I was in time and space. What floor was I on? Technically Pop died alone, but I wonder if he felt alone.

Not many people look good in pants and by good I mean really good. I wouldn’t even say it depends on the pants.

Funny the coat should make you think of North Koreabut I agree it has a flag quality to it and when I think North KoreaI think flag. But I don’t understand it. Speaking of anger, last night the heat made me feel so mad I understood why it was the Summer of Sam not the winter. I like the clean holes worms make in yams. (I’m guessing.)

Chances are there is someone out there you imagine should care but doesn’t. Don’t expect much.

Last night as I was packing up my room someone came in the house who didn’t belong there. He was dressed in slate blue if that helps. I sent him away, locked the door, returned to my room and put on a record. Later when I went downstairs I saw him sneaking around the corner and up the back stairs wearing a pink silk shirt with large quilted collar. That shirt spelled trouble.

Jason says kettle corn is the pineapple pizza of popcorn. That’s absolutely right.

Oh Canada, you are so near yet so far. Locations next to you are reporting rain. For example, it is raining here. Like my father in photographs you stand there in shorts distant but loving, unprepared for inclement weather. A boy who has been beaten. There’s been so little news of you and when you do write it’s always having a nice time doing nothing in a cabin in the woods at the edge of a lake. Or on a postcard the silhouette of a girl against burlap: a cloudy morning. I expect to arrive Friday PM. If you want to take a walk, come meet the train. All day yesterday I felt like I had a wedgie; they do occur naturally. Ever have that feeling?

I made the trip to the Lego store at RockefellerCenterlooking for a birthday present for Jackson. Kingdoms? Pirates? Monsters? What are his interests? Like most tourists I was struck by Zeus, when he says in a voice more egghead than godhead: Wisdom and Knowledge Shall be the Stability of Thy Times. Times have changed.

We consider moving and start looking for jobs – Jason will look for work in the Buildings and Grounds Dept. I see myself in alumni records. I begin the process of mentally rewinding myself in the morning when from the apex of the Manhattan Bridge I see the Empire State and Chrysler Bldgs, the sort of moment my mother loved to retail. I’d never felt the primal rhythm of commuting before. The daily push & shove, bump & grind. The drums beat louder and louder until they dump us out at WORK.

Two guys with snakes (pythons, I suppose) are hanging out in one of the gazebos at Coney. They don’t need calling cards, they’ve got snakes. One chats with a couple of fat ladies, the other talks on his cell phone. The snakes just “sit” there, slither a little or raise their heads at most, just to show they’re bored. I wish they chewed gum. A family sits on the other end of a bench. Their yogurts are hot and runny. They drink them like juice. It’s not spoon weather. Though I do not understand what they’re saying I recognize the word luna. Everyone loves the moon, even though its effect on the water is no different from that of street lights.

Every inbound train is also an outbound train. It’s all about getting on until the one stop where it’s EVERYBODY OUT. I live there. A Chinese lady washes buckets. She has a rag and wears gloves. She planned this. Katie’s new roommate, a handsome, drinks-eschewing yoga fan, needs a green card, being a Bulgarian Prince and all. Katie insists there is no drama.

Latoya claims that she sometimes sees an idea get pushed out of her head by someone else’s medical secret, such as alopecia.

Even though I wasn’t a particularly happy child, I never ran away. I disappeared once in a while, and still do. The world is full of places people go when they disappear: OTB, closets, malls, bridges, movies. I’ll wear this t-shirt that says Active door! Stand clear!

She is reading Time Out on the train. I see “AARP trip” on her day planner. She gives me attitude when our thighs collide. Everything was fine until I encountered the “improper argument” error message, i.e. her. At least I’m not that middle aged guy with a mother who nags him in public. “Those are leather sandals. Try not to walk on water.” Fare evasion is against the law. Don’t bother the costume drama as it happens. Look! The children are coming with pacifiers, and they’re not holding on with either hand. Those lollipops are not free. I live within arm’s reach of a large variety of birds. Ruffed grouse. I wake having seen my ring on someone else’s finger.

Do you ever think that when you read a dead person’s book they’re there helping you through the hard parts? That you can now advertise on M&Ms seems like a horrific form of prostitution, then again it’s not about the money, is it? If someone deceives you into thinking they’re someone you’d actually want to have sex with when in fact they are not a person you’d want to have sex with is it safe to call that rape? Real people.

When people find me amenable (what I call being a good customer) it feels like an accomplishment though I suspect it of being far less.

I couldn’t see my sister’s reaction for several days after initially reading it. I felt what I knew as the shame that comes with pity and is difficult to separate from love like what I felt on the playground in fifth grade when Michael Vanderwarker said he was sorry about my father. I might have hugged him had I been older or nudged him had I been human instead I ran away.

Is what I have now enough mine for times and levels of reality to intermingle as my sister suggested? Is that what having the feeling I thought I’d have here means? Conditions might be right for this. Or is it only mine because I can make use of it? Is everyone else likewise concerned with possession? As it does my sister layered reality reminds me of the archaeology that is our common home. What she means by that isHattusa,Turkeythough she might also mean mother’s house. She says we work to manage our dirt whether we bury it excavate it or use it like junkies. How did I get down on my knees? She wonders if we’re the unbefriended dead. Anne commented that most of my email messages consisted of questions. After 20 percent of the company got laid off it would have been a good day to have stayed home. I nearly fell in the shower and heavy rain and wind made for an oddly close commute.

For Halloween Katya will go as Dracula, Jackson as Iron Man. Mary Jo was supposed to be a rooster in pantyhose but Katya may allow her to be Dracula’s grandmother.

When a place is unfamiliar all that can be said are simple things if one is to attempt to say anything truthful. Apple purple mountain dinner.

We both experienced the night dread of having to wake up again. A road trip of some sort is the answer even if it’s only toStaten Island(botanical garden). At least the encouragement I gave Katie to spend a weekend with Pete proved beneficial insofaras she had a “great time.”  Personally I can’t admit even one more ongoing anything into my life. Open closed open closed. The romance the Japanese have with suicide seems too programmatic. Give me the Swedes.

He crawls into bed naked. I can hear his eyeballs knocking around in their sockets like dolls’ eyes. Listening, laughing or scratching are his choices. At the least he deserves to have sandwiches made for him and someone to take note of his comings and goings – the equivalent of saying you are worth saving though no one says that.

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