Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Elephant In My Apartment



Okay…I’m emotionally glued to my TV tonight, listening and not watching, as is my habit...waiting for North Korea to fire off their alleged missile....waiting to see if this is a WMD or a sort of cartoon popsicle-thing as I imagine it, arcing comically into the midst of a PSY video set, gangnam style.  The massive uber-success of that video is weapon enough to piss Kim Jong-un off.  I’m waiting for Time Warner to use this as yet another excuse for my crappy service, waiting for the next hurricane season, the financial jolt that shakes the money-hoarders into another market meltdown, for bird-flu to visit New York City, for the next urban coyote attack, manhole explosion, pipeline meltdown, crane malfunction, police freakout, bank heist--- whatever.  Anything to get our minds off of Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy and Jay-Zee’s trip to Havana.  The fiscal cliff is now just another chronic rash, the NCAA playoffs have left a small vacuum in my household; I hate baseball, and have an entire summer of non-air-conditioned nights in which to contemplate suspending my cable so that my son will finally get his own place, if only to watch the Mets.   

My new favorite television song is ‘Elephant’ which has gone from indie obscurity to rockstar jillion download-status because the Blackberry z-10 ads have touched this little band with a magic techno-wand.   It’s kind of primitive and stupid but the way the lyrics are squeezed into that descending chromatic figure--- is a stroke of awkward brilliance. 

Do I want a Blackberry z-10?  I do not; but I’ll bet the members of Tame Impala got some stock options…I’m not sure that they were even aware of what makes us like them… except the title of their new album, Lonerism, was once the designated religious affiliation of Writerless… (a write-in, on my old school applications)…so we are related in some emotional/intellectual parallel universe. 

The sun did a seasonal warming thing yesterday—enough to remind me that summer is not really going to melt the grey ice that seems to have settled into the crevices of my cerebellum like cancerous mold; the Knopf poem-a-day morning email does little but convince me that indeed April can be a cruel month.  And one of my girlfriends, last night, between rounds of intense relationship drama with a narcissistic Broadway actor, confessed that she’s bored.

Bored, I thought—having postponed maybe 4 decades of aspirations while I raised kids and played in everyone’s band but my own-- is not really a state of mind, but being too lazy to fight off the terminally Boring.  What I am beginning to face is despite all of this futureshock and hyper-acceleration of technology… the actual practical urban universe (not to mention several of the Knopf daily selections) is becoming an insipid kind of virtual amusement park. 

My son looks in the mirror when he speaks to me.  I thought maybe this was a symptom of some new syndrome--- tri-polarity, schizophrenic narcissism… but I also realize there is little actual face-to-face dialogue in his world; with all the people absorbed in their phones, walking and texting, driving and scrolling, etc… maybe this is the closest thing to a relationship.  Besides, I am trying not to worry about things.  Pick your battles, my Mom always advised me… I’d sooner complain about the broken door and the wet towels on the bathroom floor.  Mental illness is going to be his problem, going forward.  My parental obligations are winding down.  I’m pretty sure I’ll eventually get grandchildren and his wife will be too busy texting to notice that her husband talks to mirrors.   It could be a Lee Strasberg thing, anyway. 

‘Remember when we had to do all our telephoning before we left the house?’ one of the newscasters just asked, snickering… I still do not have a cellphone, I couldn’t care less who wants to reach me most of the time.  I have been noticing that I do get fewer calls--- my friends are so used to immediate phone gratification that having to wait until I pick up their voicemail is annoying.  Boring.  My mother has forgotten how to use her phone, and travels only in her mind, so she is constantly thrilled when I call.  I’m not sure she knows who I am, but she is happy to hear her name. 

I read on trains—novels, poetry… I find myself gravitating toward thrift shops and miscellaneous estate auctions where there is an absence of marketing and I have to rely on my own brain and eyes to filter searches.  My clothing style is unclassifiable.  My library is unlike those of my neighbors.  My visual memory still works; in fact, I’ve noticed that without labels and tags, even some art experts have trouble identifying anything more than 25 years old.  Google pre-prioritizes image searches; paintings done by formerly real people without websites…get lost in the shuffle. 

Spring is tough for me; I’m a bit of a perennial hibernator now--- a recluse.  I’m practicing Lonerism like a kind of emotional celibacy and it suits me.  It’s not that I’m unloved; I’ve become so accustomed to not being nurtured or coddled, that any extended hand gives me the creeps.  Maybe I was deprived of this kind of relationship, this kind of marriage; I admit to having rejected it, down the line.  It bored me, it threatened me with complacency and mediocrity.  With settling. 

So here I sit, listening to the Babel of my overnight television, preparing myself for a project--- for a subtle creative earthquake, for my summer storm of productivity…
I believe it will arrive…hopefully before the North Koreans scramble our power grid, and before the first serious heatwave drives me into Starbucks, before Kim and Kanye’s  baby, and before I need a cellphone to swipe myself into the subway.  But I can almost feel it now--- a pinch of anxiety… a breakfast visual-- with milk-white linens, pastry…an evaporating blood-scent mixed with blue air…medium rare moons…

And here it is again--- right on cue-- my little Australian trio with their late-night Elephant-in-the-TV refrain…‘too bad your chances are slim’… words of Lonerist encouragement.  We the anarchists of boredom will get what we need.  It is not unwritten.   

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