Monthly Archives: February 2007

things on the ground

i walked from erbenheim to the wiesbaden art museum.

things seen on the ground:

bloated worms, a rusty bicycle chain, paper, paper, paper, fallen berries from a strange bush that grows clusters of blue berries in bleak february, living worms struggling on the tar for the soft ground that had recently vomited them up in the rain, paper, paper, little pink berries from a barren bush that still seemed to grow tiny pink berries in the empty stems, bottle caps, bottles, more bottle caps than bottles, dogshit that has not been stepped on, dogshit that has been stepped on, dogshit with the straight boundary through it from a bicycle wheel, abandoned bits of mostly-eaten pastries, a broken umbrella, lost parking tickets, a thousand cigarette butts, a thousand cigarette butts, a million soaked cigarette butts, my shoes (only one shoe at a time. i pick one up and put the other down and pick one up…)

also my eyes are on the ground because it’s raining, and i don’t want to look up into the freezing rain.

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stay awake!

the us military issues their own brand of chewing gum. it comes with 100mg of caffeine.

my sister gave me a piece. it’s the size of a gumball. i imagine that an inventive soldier, in dire need, could hurl these rock-like sugar pellets at the faces of his enemies. when i first put it in my mouth, i couldn’t believe it was gum because it was like a rock in my cheek.

the rock tasted like cinnamon candy. when my saliva finally crumbled enough of the flavored shell, the sweet cinnamon candy filled my mouth. yet, underneath was a nicotene-like hint of the true purpose of the gum.

she told me that the military issued the gum because soldiers had to go on 72-hour missions, and could not sleep. they could not realistically stop a convoy to allow a soldier to pee, so them that can’t find a spare gatorade bottle had better not drink coffee.

i chewed the gum. i felt my heart racing. i felt taller. i felt stronger. my hands trembled with untapped energy reserves.

the gum soured in my mouth. the sugar wore off. the rubbery remains was like chewing wet cigarette filters mixed with silly putty. perhaps the gum doubles as an emergency adhesive? perhaps the gum is also flammable so it can be used to catch fire and stick.

i spit it out before i could let my hurt burst from the energy. i waited a while, for the crash.

it came. i slept. i dreamed of the undead.

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of course, i had to break the only part of my computer that cannot be replaced at a german computer store, and also renders my computer inoperable.

someday, some wise computer designer will create a power plug that isn’t located at the one spot most likely to hit the ground at a bad angle if the laptop falls to the ground. when will the power supply connect to the side of the moniter instead of the back bottom corner?

now i can only work when my sister isn’t around so i can borrow her computer.

and her bedroom is full of all this… girly sister energy. i need my laundry and coffee cup labyrinth if i am going to truly operate at my peak!

oh, e-bay, when will you send me my part?

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i rented a jacket for the night and wandered an elegant european casino. wiesbaden is one of the wealthiest cities in germany. their casino looks like it.

the art pieces, pagan entirely, line the marble halls. apollo, hestia, arthena and all of their signs and symbols and friends glow like sculptured constellations in the warm light.

inside the spielbank of the wiesbaden kasino, men in jackets and women in heels fondled chips.

the games of the day: roulette, blackjack, and poker.

i was with off-duty army officers who had just returned home from riyadh. they wanted to dress up in suits, eat an elegant meal, and pretend to be james bond for a while.

i gave them tiny ladybugs for good luck.

they told stories about life in kuwait and baghdad. they talked about how hard things were.

of course, their grandfathers probably said the same thing about the very ground where we came to relax.

someday, our grandchildren will wander the restaurants and casinos of baghdad, pretending to be rick from casablanca and try to unwind. they’ll wear suits, and flirt with waitresses and laugh while the roulette wheel uses up any luck they had left from their survival.

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buffalo spirits

i was in the bed of a truck, surrounded by the immigrants to this great land of life.

outside the truck, a gripping sunset silhouetted a million buffalos merging and peeling away from each other like a soul river. cowboys and indians on horseback tried their best to keep the herd together, and away from the road. the sunlight backlighting them wasn’t sunlight, but the perfect light of heaven.

i rode the truck, and stood next to a boy. he told me i’d meet his mother soon, in germany. the truck drove straight north towards the border, and we all looked straight west at the perfect, immortal sunset past the buffaloes.

behind me, parallel to the road, a modern train, all steel and glass windows, chugged smooth north.

i focused on the gorgeous buffalo and all the cowboys and indians like living spirits of the amon g. carter collection.

then, i woke up alone.

sometimes i believe my dreams, sometimes i don’t.

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inner conflict, and man answering his own question

“hey, e____, do you know what’s weird about playing chess against yourself?” says me.
“um… uh…” sounds of woman rummaging for pots and pans.
“whichever side i’m sitting at is the one most likely to win. you know, if i sit on black’s side, black wins. if i sit on white’s side, white wins,” says me.
“okay,” she says.
“i know, the real answer to the question ‘do you know what’s weird about playing chess against yourself?’ is ‘the fact that you are playing chess against yourself’, but the other thing that’s weird is how the side i’m sitting at is much more likely to win.”
“i think it’s great when you answer your own questions like that,” she says.

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the bus ride home

the bus driver, slouched in his seat, did not seem to notice those two volkswagons that had to swerve hard right to escape with their fenders intact.

the bus driver drove right past a stop, despite the big, red sign saying “wegen halt” that lights up when people want to get off the bus.

they jumped and shouted, “hey! “hallo! halt, halt!”

the bus driver came to a screaching halt in the middle of the road. a car zipped around us, honking, furiously at the bus driver that slammed his brakes in the middle of the road.

the people got off the bus, mystified about what had happened. this is germany, after all, where the buses run on time, and the bus drivers are respected for their work, and respectful of others.

the bus driver didn’t apologize. he closed the doors, and started driving again. he had his stoic slouch, and his furrowed eyebrows.

he zipped past somebody’s stop again. everyone shouted at him, “hey! hallo! halten sie, bitte!” he comes to another screeching halt. he let them off the bus.

i was still sitting, waiting for my stop.

the bus driver started driving again. then, he just stopped. he wasn’t at a bus stop. he wasn’t where he was supposed to be. he just stopped in the middle of the road. he turned off the lights in the cabin. he opened the doors. he told us all to get off because the bus was closed.

people shouted at him. the bus driver just ignored them. he told them all to get off. he was quitting, and wasn’t going to drive anyone else anywhere else.

we got off the bus. we looked at each other. we kind of, collectively, shrugged. we walked away, each in our own directions.

the whole time, i had ash on my forehead from ash wednesday. i was coming out of mass. i walked through the rain to my sister’s apartment. the ash ran down my face. i wiped it off. now it’s all over my face, and all over the sleeve of my jacket. and i feel blessed, because the crazy bus driver didn’t pull out a gun and go postal on us, and he didn’t hit those cars.

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six car garage on a two car garage plot

a common sight among the condos and apartment buildings and duplexes and houses shoved close together in the meandering streets that used to be cart trails: two story garages, with a deep basement below the huge entryway.

first my sister pulled up in her boyfriend’s car, stopping right outside the garage door. we got out. we pulled out all of the bags of groceries and items that needed to go upstairs in the apartment.

she used her room key in the arch of the garage door. the door opened. then, she used her key again to operate the car lift. inside this garage, three cars can park side by side on stiff metal slats. when my sister turned the key the metal slats lifted the three cars up one level, to the second floor, revealing the second layer of the garage. she pulled her boyfriend’s car inside, careful to get it exactly straight. she looked up and down to the two different levels from the nose of the car to make sure nothing was going to impede the progress of the car.

she returned to the archway, her boots clomping on the steel slats. She turned her key, and her car descended into the darkness below the earth. the three cars came back down from the sky.

she complained about it. she said that when it breaks, it’s a horrible hassle. she said it was a terrible invention, really.

i watched her boyfriend’s car fade down into the darkness, sunset and the weak garage light flickering on the glass like some kind of fire. six cars fit in a spot that’s wide enough for only two.

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a man in a grass skirt

a man in a grass skirt with a giant wig asked me, on the bus to mainz, in english, “do you like beer?”

i said, “yes, i like beer very much.”

he opened his backpack and handed me a nice, cold bottle of delicious bitburger beer for no apparent reason. i heartily thanked the man, and decided i was probably in for a good time.

in mainz, people decked out in costumes hopped like ravers in the streets while shouting along to european techno music, drunk as drunk can be. a very happy, goofy gentleman decided that i made an excellent arm rest and that i should be shouting louder. in fact, he did not speak a lick of english in his blissful stupor. he figured that if he spoke slower and louder i’d be able to miraculously understand him. unfortunately, he usually forgot what he was saying halfway through the sentence and decided just to dance and shout the lyrics in my ear.

in german, “drunk” is expressed with the color blue. if you are drunk, you say “I am so completely blue right now!” incidentally, a popular costume theme was smurfs. it was like walking through the entire smurf village with pixies and aliens and the kind of rocking shindig papa smurf would not allow.

one young woman, who did not want to get cigarette ash on her costume decided to peel off her elegant angel wings, complete with halo and hold it out to one side. in her other hand, she chain-smoked four cigarettes while drinking half a liter of martini, her angel wings held aside.

on the bus home, a quiet girl with “kiss me” written in black upon her cheek rode home alone, wiping tears from her eyes. grandmothers calling it a night packed in, with their bright clown wigs and cheered at the marching band that was trying to get home in time to be awake for their morning parades. the grandmothers wanted music. the band played, the bus sang along the songs of fasching. the bus driver got on the intercom to say, “bravo!” at the end of each tune. the quiet girl smiled, wiped a few more stray tears from her eyes. she got off the bus. she walked home, alone.

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i’m too post to drunk

fasching celebrations have left me a little incapacitated.


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