Thursday, February 25, 2010

the losing 6

well this is really right damn terrible, but a promise is a promise. i want to say something about my character and my track record of doing things the right way. you won't know, well most of you won''t know, that i was voted most honest in highschool. most of you won't know that i spend some of my free time helping out at church. i am, at my core, a good man i come home after work and play with my children. i come home after work and talk with my wife. i am not out hooting with the owls at some local bar singing about glory days or the sports page.
so what if i can't keep doughnuts out of my face. i mean it is not like i am doing drugs. so what if i buy the large chicken nuggets or buffalo wings. there are some really horrible things going on in the world, in the country, in the state, in the city or on my street. a man grows tired of having to justify his character because of his weaknesses. a man grows tired of defending those same weaknesses when they are so minor.
if carl was to have a birthday and someone were to bring in cake then i must eat. how can disrespect a man, or any coworker by not celebrating with them on this such an important milestone? now what if it isn't a birthday cake but instead brownies or fried chicken? what if it isn't a birthday but a milestone? what if it is for no reason other than building a communal bond? should i bow out? should i say no thank you i have to think about my points?
i am a good man, a kind man. i look deep into my soul for these answers and they always come back yes. they always come back to take part to build bridges. so why should i feel guilt when i wipe the sauce or powdered sugar from my mouth? why do i feel so torn? the answer, i believe, is in the constant psychological torture. ever since i was a child my mother would talk about weight and diet. we learn what we are repeatedly told.
i can remember the diet soda challenge. i can remember at ten being given the lecture on portion control. i can remember the tightening of the belt and the refusal of common childhood wishes. the sugar cereal did not grace our cupboard. the dinners would be steamed and boiled, the starvation would set in.
i can remember the wild look in my mother's eyes as she would break down. off we would rush to ________ for hamburger. off we would rush to _____ _______ for ice cream. off we would rush to _____ _______ to be lectured and weighed to shed tears and to promise a fresh start.
it would seem, with all these years of utter failure, that i would run from _____ ______ as an adult. well for most of my adult life i did. i would never have darkened _____ _____'s door step if it weren't for my wife. she was thumbing through her lifestyle magazine and noticed a coupon. i am not sure about your gender or relationship status but as a man who is in a marriage there is no worse a phrase than 'i found a coupon.'
the coupon has brought nothing but pain to my life. in the beginning they were celebrated, a few pennies off of eggs, some two for one on turkey or diapers, real economic boons. slowly they began to change, two for one pedicures that i must go to, ten dollars off of cable or satellite or interent causing us to be in constant flux over providers. there is the oil change thirty miles away that is 10% off and finally _____ ______.
'oh honey i found a discount on _____ _____, i really want to go. i need to get a fresh start, a leg up will go will you help me in this?' she said.
it was a friday evening and i had just returned home form work. i was tired and not thinking clearly. i agreed. that first night i did not sleep. tossing and turning i remembered the terror of my childhood. i remember the pain of gaining what i had lost, gaining it back to late night runs with my mother to a doughnut shop or drive through. i remembered the water aerobics the speed walking and general anxiety _____ ______ had caused me. now, with the threat of returning i was at a fork. should i tell the wife? should i deny her this joy of the coupon, of the denial of pursuing? i turned and was going to spill the beans, was going to tell the whole story but watching her tender almost innocent face glow in the night's faint light i swallowed.
'i am a man, it will be different what the hell a little kid of course he is only going to do as well as his parent. yeah this will be good, maybe finally be able to see my feet, ha! this is the right thing. the good thing. yeah i am excited,' i thought and dreamed of a waist size back in the thirties. dreamed of a shirt with only one x on the label. i was excited, hoping only for the best the whole adventure still out before me.
i am a good man. i am a honest decent man. i was one dumb naive sucker. sitting, here reflecting on all this, in my car wiping the barbecue sauce from my mouth and looking down at the empty sandwich, fry and soft drink containers. i look down, my stomach grumbles with satisfaction. my stomach belches in victory and i feel a quick shiver of fear understanding my enemies power. i am a good man, a honest man and an abject failure at dieting.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

the losing 5

tired sitting here picking my nose wondering where to begin, again. danielle was quite pleased yesterday with the loss of a pound. we all celebrated by jumping up and down. her husband, whose name escapes me at the moment, clapped and wolf whistled. what the hell is his name anyway? dale? i can't remember. i am staying up to late watching television with the wife. i am sneaking out of bed too many times to stuff my face with pop corn and chocolate.
i have stopped going to the scale. the idea of the old woman, the numbers and disappointment is too much to bear. now we go to the lectures and afterwards when the line moves me to the front where the old woman is i pay and quickly turn about and leave. she says nothing, her wise weathered eyes pinched and crow footed wet about the corner as i turn to leave. people in my position are called wait ______ in the community. everyone who has started where i have started has had set backs.
the first time i did not weigh in our leader took note. the second time she stopped me by the door.
'charlie, hey how are you doing with all this?'
'my best,' i said.
she is a medium sized dark skinned woman. claudette, she has no lipstick on over her bulbous purple lips. claudette is wearing a red top over a black dress and if there was one word to describe her it would be kind.
'listen, we have all been here.'
'i'm okay. just not ready to get back on the scale,' i say trying to short circuit a longer conversation.
'i know, i know. just remember the motto of the jews,' she says.
i suck my lip and think for a moment.
'and what is that?'
claudette stares into my eyes. she has the unblinking power of a stare that mother's obtain somewhere in the evolution of raising children.
'if you keep walking, you'll make it to the promise land,' she says, 'all we are is these things we aspire to.'
'very good,' i say.
'wonderful, thank you,' says my wife and i feel a rage beginning to boil.
my wife is beautiful standing there. she is wearing a deep blue form fitting top, she is wearing tight clean straight legged brown slacks. she is wearing heeled shoes that allow her toes to peek through. she has her hair styled straight with the bangs to the side and her makeup is on. i am torn by her beauty and kindness and the fact that her weight control/loss makes me want to scream obscenities into her face.
you can love someone and be furious at their success. you can love someone and be completely eaten away by jealousy. i am a fat guy, i shouldn't have a woman this beautiful but at the same time i do so she must take the full force of my character and it's judgements.
now at the door to this nondescript business center, we are getting ready to leave. we say good night and thank you to claudette and she rushes over to talk to another wait ______. as we are moving into the night air i think of danielle. i think of her massive piles of flesh flopping up and down as she jumped. i think of my own massive stomach and breasts flopping up and down if i were to jump off the scale.
success is in the continual attempts. if you are falling down keep getting up it's only when you stop that you fail. if you never stop you can't fail. i am rubbing my stomach while we drive home. tonight i want to make love to my wife. tonight i want to start again get back up, commit and face the scale. tonight i want to shed the wait label and begin my life.
'that was nice, tonight,' my wife says and reaches for my hand.
'what part?'
'just he whole thing, how claudette talked with us and how the woman and her husband were so excited. i don't know, it makes you feel good to see people acheive something,' she says and leans her head back.
i know she is not thinking about me. i know she is not hinting about my scale avoidance and how she wishes i would try harder. at least i think i know those things, but something sparks a fire anyways. something causes me to withdraw, be hurt and angry anyways. we drive in silence and i think of danielle and i think how i will show my wife who can achieve.
this week will be different, starting tomorrow. i think and pull the car into the driveway, we are home.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

the losing 4

i have to tell you that i am not using my own name here. it would be really stupid to come out and write 'hey this is chuck steesom from walnut street, come pat me on the back,' because you never know who could be watching this thing. my luck it would be the boss or hampson that son of a bitch neighbor with his cackle, muscle car and garage bench press combo machine.
hampson may think he is the summit of mount awesome, but let me tell you he has some more climbing to do. take his outfits, i mean who still wears those damned baggy gypsy pant? he struts out there, on the weekends listening to the rock station a bit too loud wrench or weight in hand yodeling into his blue tooth.
hampson the softball player, making his wife keep stats. hampson the grill master who calls everyone over. i can still recall last summer's cook up when amongst all the neighbors he grabbed my belly and pronounced, 'should of made this one pay,' everyone got themselves a good laugh off of that.
later over beers he tried to play it off as, 'having fun,' but i knew the real reason i could see his eyes drifting over my wife's body like a fog. he filled all the spaces around her, all her nooks and crevices. i wondered if she noticed. the person that did notice was hampson's wife and i could see her mind working, calculating the anger to be distributed later. this was not the first time.
matter of fact of do not use anyone's real name. i try to keep them all sorted on a piece of paper but last night my son took the paper and threw it in the toilet. though i am pretty sure that no one is reading this journal, i am going to apologize now for any screw ups.
there is this mountain of a woman that has begun to attend the meetings. she comes with her husband dale, and let me tell you something, he is a real piece of work. this guy with his slick blacked hair and tight 32 waist. he leans forward during the discussion taking notes. at first i thought, 'what kind of monster takes notes to abuse his wife with later?' only to find he had his own book.
these skinnies are getting to be a real damned problem. i know, i understand, that they are looking in the goodness of their heart to support their fatso spouses but come on. if you are just starting out in the gym, you want to start with people at your rate or do you want to lift your twenty pounds and then have your spouse have to add more weight each time for their exercises? the fastest way to lose hope is to have someone who is not as desperate. one school of thought is that you get the inspiration of the final product, but this is not true. what you really are getting is a daily slap in the face about your failures and the hard work that lies ahead.
i am angry at all this and seeing slick boy dale over there sucking the end of his pencil while his wife quietly blushes does not help.
that mountain of a woman goes by the name danielle. she has blond hair, green eyes and a stomach that could rival mine. it's bizarre the way a woman's backside grows until it looks like it is about two feet long in their stretch pants. danielle has a serious ass. she shifts and the chair groans and as her husband makes notes she blushes and sweats.
i watch them as sweat runs down my own cheek and stomach i watch her and wonder about her struggles.
news flash, my son has just come into the room and thrown his cereal on the floor. so i guess that is the universe telling me enough for now.

Monday, February 22, 2010

the losing 3

now i know what you are thinking, 'how much does this poor guy weigh?' at least i think that is what i would think but i can't remember if i have written it down somewhere earlier. well let me tell you that
a) if i haven't then it is none of your damn business what that number is. that you should be ashamed for even thinking about it. what's that number mean? you just looking for another reason to judge?
b) it was less than today, after a night of complete and utter gluttony. by god life is a buffet and i took the time to stuff myself with it all. while little miss goal weight went for a walk i rushed a bowl of cereal. while she boiled the chicken breast and washed the lettuce i made an excuse about needing light bulbs, forgot the bulbs and ate a double cheeseburger skipping the french fries only to get a bag of potato chips with the light bulbs. i ate until it was hard to breathe. i ate until my stomach cried out, stretched against the barrier of pants and belt. i ate myself exhausted and returning home lay on my back sweating worrying over how to eat the dinner.
c) i am exhausted. closer to three hundred than two fifty. my children where trouble last night, crying out every hour on the hour from midnight on, teeth are a terrible thing to grow. as we would take turns going to their room, holding them, putting them back to sleep i would make side trips to the kitchen for slice of apple, for peanut butter on apple with mixed nuts or valentine candy.
i curse ______ _______, i curse the small measuring scale and points. i lay in bed grumbling thinking of ways to destroy my journal and point score food glossary. a man has got to eat, has got to be healthy have a belly. let's say we are in the wild and two animals are going to fight which one are you picking? a thin bear or a fat one? why doesn't that apply to us americans? why do we have to invent the skinny fit jean and celebrate jack thin body?
i am holding my stomach, pushing the sides together to make a fat hairy valley from my breasts to my belly button. the flesh canyon leads to the end of the belly and a waterfall of hair down to my privates.
i lay in the dark wondering if fat is truly like a suit. if my body thinks i am wearing a fat shirt and pants under my regular clothes. i wonder if my innards will go on strike against the mouth and brain. if the blood will send secret messages from the muscle and bones to go on strike, stop for long enough to cause a stroke freezing the mouth in a tight clasp so that i can only consume liquids. so that i will lose the weight and save them all from so much work.
i wonder on their union meetings if the ankle and jaw are willing to sacrifice themselves so that the doctor will have to wire shut my jaw and viola will put me on a body saving liquid diet. i think of blended hamburger meat or steak. i think of a life of triple thick chocolate shakes. i think of doughnuts and the pure joy of eating in the early morning when they are still fresh and warm.
i rarely think of making love anymore. i enjoy it. my wife she is heart achingly beautiful. she is magnificent in the sack but i lose focus. i think of my breasts flopping my stomach flopping my whole body moving like an angry sea. while we are conjoined there is the sound of the bed frame there is the sound of my hard breath and the heat of sweat covering me and i am embarrassed. i am sure that she has not achieved an orgasm in months which is not right. so instead of being emboldened, so instead of inspiration to screw it is just overwhelming shame. it is the shame that drives the body to the cabinet, it is the damn 'screw all this crap, you fat jerk lazy so and so,' thoughts that get me through the snacking and then satiated i lay on the couch fingering my fat breasts.
it is in the night, this night with the plus number hanging as a sword of damocles that i think of her. it is in the night while we fight with the teething child that i trace her sleeping face. it is in the night heavy sighing from an overfilled stomach that i curse myself for being soft and making the wrong food choices. it is here amongst god and family that i promise a recommit to the program. a promise to start fresh in the morning and celebrate this promise with a handful of candy as one last kiss off. a handful of candy the sweet final kiss of a solider before he is shipped out to duty.
things are going to change around here, i think and place my finger in between belly and pelvis pushing the skin and fat skyward then letting it drop with a thwop. things are going to change.

Friday, February 19, 2010

the losing 2

there is always a party. ever damn day somebody is getting older or having a child. every damn day somebody is getting engaged, graduating or having a kid do something worth celebrating. the invitations come through the mail, they come through the phone and sneak onto your computer without warning. each with a warm front, a picture of small animals or of the hosts or of the honoree and each comes with a commitment card.
i curse their smiling, eager faces. i curse the innocent wanting eyes of babes as they express the emotion of 'please don't let me down'. so we check the boxes write the number of attendees and i await the onslaught of temptations.
like a shipwreck in a storm, i cling to the buoy of five pound loss as the waves toss me about trying to dislodge me from my hope and goal. first there are the whispers of, 'well we have been doing so well what's one drink?' growing to a crescendo of 'this is america god damned it and you are a god damned grown man who pays the bills, what you can't enjoy one drink after a hard week supporting your family?' the weather is merciless as i watch my wife getting her 'goal weight allowances' and passing them up.
i curse at her, under my breath, for never breaking down. i curse at her, under my breath, for always smiling as she makes a one egg white omelette weighing each item and marking them in her food journal with the joy of a school girl.
lunch, at the office, has become torture. i bring a sack lunch and make excuses. 'ah, that sounds great but i don't have any cash on me. what's that? oh, no don't worry about it, see i brought a lunch.'
i can hear them laughing and know it's about me. i take to eating in the car two streets away. i take to making excuses, 'oh my wife she needs me to call her so we can decide about _____ or else i would love to go.' in case they drive by or are spying i will push the ear piece and begin talking, waiting, pretending to listen and talking again.
men don't understand _____ _______ they wonder about the point scale. they wonder on the little book that was in my pocket but now hidden in the glove box. i tell them it's for my wife, how she really wanted to do this together and, 'i damn sure won't give up my beers and steak,' when i see the looks on their faces change to shock.
thursday is our weigh in day. it is by this time that i need the lift of the scale, to see the sweat was worth it before heading into the weekend where the devil sits temptation on either side. we have arrived, we have made it through the support speeches and food fighting techniques now are lined for the weight and exit. as my wife is at her target or below she will not have to pay. they have given her a pin and have her stand to be admired, during meetings. i will be paying for awhile.
we slide to the side. she steps on the scale.
'very good,' says the old lady.
she moves off and i move on. the numbers spin and land. before she says anything i know. my heart stops and my palms sweat as i can feel all eyes on me, judging my efforts and body. there is a deafening silence.
'you'll be alright honey. you just got to keep your head up, keep working the program. you'll make it i promise. don't let this break you,' the old lady says.
'plus two,' is what the scale says.
i can feel every fat inch of my stomach. it is laughing making rude faces through the shirts fabric and letting everyone know who is in charge.
'would you like to stay after and work with a councilor?' she says.
'it'll be alright dear,' says the wife.
'plus two,' says the scale.
'no thank you, but thank you. two steps forward is still more than one set back, right?' i say and muster a smile.
as we leave, silent i can feel her eyes on me wanting a conversation. as we leave i can hear my stomach rumbling it's victory song. as we leave towards the car under the veil of night, it is darkness, black and i can feel something terrible on the air. i know it is hungry,it is angry and justified as it arrives home from detention.
'don't give up, honey i am right here for you. we can do this together,' she says.
my mind already lost to the faces on the invitations, their buffets, their booze and the freedoms of man in america.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

2/18 losing

we sit in steel chairs, those drab grey hurtful monsters. we sit close together heating the air, steaming the windows and causing our bodies to sweat. well not us all. we sit, we heavy breath, we move slowly adjusting our heavy frames as group leader to some attendees give their tales of the tortured stomach.
we the watcher of weight. i am among them, my dimpled plump belly pushing against shirt, against belt and pant button causing and impression. i am uncomfortable feeling the flab fill my arm pit getting caught trapped smothered against arm and pit rubbed raw by the hair and goosepimple chilling as the sweat rolls over and down the expanse of skin.
god damned these flabby breasts! i think. i am a man.
...i use to get a tan by the fridge light from checking to see whats to eat,' the group leader would say.
you were laughing at the tales of woe. you were attentive and reaching from my hand the whole time. you phony, you single serving princess that dragged me here. there is a big loud moon face clock behind the speaker. there is a drab rented meeting room in a drab economy hotel. there is a long easy fold particle board table with brochures fanned across it's face. there is the end with a kind faced old woman seated her glasses seated on her forehead. she is the judge, the money changer, the recorder of the scale. the white bathroom scale sits right beside her right before the door where one by one we will scoot to the end take off our shoes and be weighed. afterwards the weight will be recorded in our books, it will be authenticated with a stamp and signature our passports recorded we will be set free.
i curse you as each loud minute tock passes. i keep my head forward but shoot cold sideways glances towards you. you the tourist the easy to maintain push her plate away regular body bitch. my wife the enforcer, the honey voiced suggester.
'well maybe it would be great to go and we can learn some new tricks to staying healthy,' she says.
first it was the book. i come home from work and there is noise in the kitchen. i come home from work the kids are to be kissed so i lean and grunt purpling my face and causing my back to scream.
'how was your day?' she would sing.
'uh, hmm, good,' i would respond trying to catch my breath.
god what have i done to myself, i think.
the kids, they are young just starting out and i watch them anxiously. i secretly feel their size when i hold them to see if they aren't getting a little too much food. i try to think about the local team, i try to think about my wife and laying a good smooch on her face anything to avoid dreaming of our family fat as cows or floating about like parade balloons. placing one hand on my knee i push up with a battle cry and head into the kitchen.
she is there amongst the pots and pans, amongst the steam and smells. we embrace and glancing over her shoulder i see the book, i see the scales.
'whats that?' i ask. i ask but i know from a life time of my mother who took me to her meetings at eleven. i know from my mother who carried the scale who was always talking or listening to somebody talk about weight and weight control.
'oh, it's my old ____ ______ food guide and scale,' she sings and i am angered.
'ah, well you seem happy about it.'
she seems to catch the mood and is quick to react.
'wait, we agreed, i thought. we agreed to try this, so there is a meeting tomorrow night, i got my mom to baby sit...'
i am staring at her a fury has build in the pit of my stomach. i try to hide it. i grow distant and listen to the sound of small children playing.
'was i wrong?'
i take a moment, 'no, no just so fast i guess.'
'well we can cancel, we can try another time?' she says.
there is a moment.
'no, you are right, there is always a beginning and this is it.'
there is a silence as she returns her attention to the food on the stove.
'dinner will be ready in about ten minutes, why not go play with the kids they missed you.'
i do. ten minutes comes and we are seated. i am staring down at boiled chicken. i am staring down at spinach salad. i am staring down at the results of my years of avoidance.
this is going through my mind until we are here. we are at the end the kind old woman with her glasses down pen in hand as my wife sits atop the scale.
'well, you're already below your ideal weight, good for you...$12'
i am trembling from rage as i step on the scale. i am cursing her for being below her weight. i am cursing her for bringing me here to be trodded out like cattle for public ridicule and embarrassment.
'five pounds down, keep it up,' says the smiling old woman.
the fire goes out. success and joy swell my chest. i clap my hands like a child. i already feel lighter, light enough to float away i grasp my wife i lift her to the air and we retreat to the night laughing to ourselves.
we are innocent the night seems like the night and not the black of foreshadow the dooms to come.

Monday, February 15, 2010


what a whale she became. thank god we made it out of the ocean, away from her grasp, her fingers lips and tongue. thank god for land, for this woman skin of olive tone. for this woman an her hour glass, of this woman her fingers lips tongue and hips that sway.
we the two but she the breeze causes i tree to dance in the parks of this town where children play on wooden structures two story tall. where children laugh, throw pine cones and cause their parents to scuttle after pushing their parent glasses or dirtying their parental high quality sleeves. there is the sidewalk here, there is the store here there is the construction that slowly sucking them dry. whole streets lopped off as one by one pregnant buildings give birth their glass faced wombs emptied marked by 'for lease'signs an deep socket window eyes prowl for other dreamers cocksure to fill their bellies once more.
there are no balloons here. what happened to the balloons? to the laughter of children with their pink or red balloons following behind mother and her brown bags of sweater or wine bottle both. now we got the text phone, or the video phone all this noise leave no time for the silence. sad. it's in the silence we get the morse code of our heart. the rhythm to translate our desire.
'beat beat', ah i want to be a dancer.
'thump thump', ah i really love charlie.
now with all this noise all we got is our best guesses at the muted signal. all we got now is the quite tink that could be mistranslated.
'tink' huh what is that.
'tink tink' he will change.
'tink tink' stay in the cubicle, or stay in arizona or stay with the plate of hamburger and cheese.
we stumble onward. just this morning it was anger and attack. a stranger will stab you in the back a friend in the front and family will feel bad after they do it. we all got knives an scars but the joy is not the attack, no the joy of family is in the heal.
'its just its just its just,' she starts to say but where can you go?
they turned against him. 'ah, brother he tries to follow his heart, you know,' she says.
'sometimes it's a maze we gots to love in,' say i.
we know, you know. there are brick buildings here. some are taken care some are dilapidated. some house families and some the drunk. there are buildings and homes and you can never tell whose living behind what, you can never tell who is who or built for what until there is a little pressure.
i love i love i love. they say in the summer when the sky is blue and the parks are filled with picnics and joy. well anyone can do that.
in the street noise of our silence it begins to rain. in the noise i pull her close think of all the what could have beens all the mistranslations of the heart. in the rain and the cold and the breeze i pull her close, i love i love i love and don't notice the weather at all.
they say the weather will change. weathermen don't trust them. they say the wounds they will heal. the doctors don't trust them. they say that they don't got no time for you no more and start their whisper campaigns against it. seasons change and those that believe in a year of winter will either adapt or be left behind.
a man can fish the sea, he can't live there. we hold on we hold close we move forward towards whatever might come. you dig?

Thursday, February 11, 2010


this chord that connects us. love in the air the small intimacies of the moment. there is the children in innocent dress there is the messes they make and there is us. we two. the face of the past. ah, we the history who speak through the bridge of whats to come. seconds are spent parenting our life away.
there are great joys here. there are things that cause tears i have never felt here. there is the laughter and celebration of recognized firsts here. then there is the animal. i the head turner, the lost to wage earner, the street walker, thinker and day dreamer.
now there is you. the mother the stay home teacher. the great patience, the hope, the heart of our home.
what we have now is the present. what we have to the linoleum floors, the encroaching walls. what we have now is the reflection on whats known and the wonder of whats to come. the moment is alive undefinable constantly leaving messy trails across the floor boards of our lives.
the present, to be here. the present, the gift of now. love lover loving loved oh we two spend our eyes only on each other's faces then whats this about a past. oh love lover loving who i will joy eternity with then whats this about what we use to do? whats this over my shoulder, over your shoulder whats this in your dreams when we both agree that to each it should be about the other's me me ME.
we gather our children. we ask of their day. we ask each other to translate what the each child says and hum the song to curious george.
we wonder if the gardener still remembers the soil as fondly when the garden blooms. we wonder does the driver remember the car when safely home. we wonder does the writer remember the first novel when they are off to number 2. mostly we wonder how in all this we of family will there be memories of me and you.
tender are the mercies of the night, when tucked to sleep we find ourselves alone. tender is the silence between us, the spaces between yawns and the inches between skin. where once is was the fire of whats to come now is the quiet of what is. where once there was the reach to touch skin to find constant tinder, fire and sex now gone quiet to the aches of workaday pain. where once there was the fury of consumption there is slow tempered art the steady hand of experience.
what we have here is a fight. this mind is one to burn and holler. this mind is one to gluttony. this mind is one to indian yelp and the wolf man's howl. the actor playing your hero is too slow. his hand too controlled. the hero himself a mess he walks with a slight drool hungry for whatever is going on. he is hungry to the pissing seconds.
you have got to find a balance. x2
i don't want to comb my hair. let it it stand or fall on it's own merit, grow wild like the idaho i remember. there were ducks there that tried to eat my toes. there was the echo of the empty suburban streets. there was the dirt road before fred meyer came. there was the sweet cherub face flushed from the excitement of love's first churning.
you see, you see i want for my children that madness. the excitement of spinning circles and chasing ghosts on table top rock. you see, you see i don't want to lose that in me. i want to consume my wife every time. want to holler and chew her hair. want to dance on a plain wedensday atop the building off st. claire. you see life is not whats to come. is not always saying no or be careful.
i got to be careful about all this, right? i got to slow it down and study the trail cause it's not just me anymore. one could think this but in my heart there comes the tremor that says, 'what about their faith?' if they believe they will come, their faith will set them free. if you got somebody and that person always talking risk or fear then don't you need to stop. shouldn't you think to yourself, 'they believe so little in me, in the joy of what is and excitement of what's to come that they fear? that they doubt? then what the hell are they going to do when times are hard, when it's do or die and they have to follow?'
it's okay to have questions about your faith, it's blasphemous to have those questions of god. it's okay to have those questions about your ability, it's destructive to have those questions about your partner.
so where do we go? there is this ridge, there is the moonlight and a clear sky. there is the burgeoning springtime and the children are asleep. where do we go? shall we stay for the night, stare out at the horizon line in reflection? shall we keep moving a child in each our arms, and head straightaway to the future?
i look over and see her asleep. i look over and memorize the moonlight tracing her skin, highlighting her lips and eye lashes. the moonlight tracing her lean athletic frame, as she holds our baby. i sigh, and look out imagine the chill in tomorrow's morning.
got to be patient, but not too patient. careful but not too careful. let's see where it takes us.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


so do we have minestrone?
'no, we have lentil or vegetable' she says.
they are in the front room, standing center stage television on. mid thirties, normal, average american family. she has sneakers on, he is barefoot, the sun is fading twisting through the curtain casting shadows that creep across the walls and floor. it is 5, it is dinner time so like it or not they must eat.
i thought we had one can left? he says without looking at her.
'no, i told you what we had. what do you think i am hiding it? you think i don't want to share? that's right, i like minestrone so much that i don't want to give you one drop.' she says.
they are middle class, they are pressure and struggle and steam that does not creep it festers, it pushes until it explodes.
who knows, he thinks.
lentil, i guess, but if i knew we were out of minestrone i would have gone to the store and bought some. he says, as a twinge of pleasure passes through causing the hair on his arms to rise.
'you want i will go. anything for you, you want me to go to the store and get the damned soup i will.' she says and begins to collect her things.
he is silent just for a moment. he is silent just long enough to bring doubt to his words. they have their forks and their knives, they are on the attack. the television news is playing a story of vans. their voices slightly louder than normal. she looks at the roof, at the floor at her children playing. she sighs, and strides towards the closet for her purse.
no, no lentil is fine, he says. his register dropping below normal to a soothe. he will calm her. he will cause her to drop her defenses.
listen you are right, we should be happy with what we have. he says .
'i will go,' she says holding her keys in mid air.
i know you would. it's not about soup, who gives damn about soup, just one of those days. he says.
she is slow, uncertain, places her keys in her purse, her purse on the floor (within reach). 'you sure, your fine with lentil or vegetable?'
vegetable sounds great, probably better than minestrone. god knows i could do without the carbs. he says and rises.
the children play with plastic train wood blocks exercise mat they play with crayons or toy microphones. the television moves to educational movie about frog. he embraces her in the middle of the floor.
'i would go,' she says.
he pulls her close the sun cast their shadows on the floor. he feels an opening he feels he could attack could really do some damage with a few more words. whats the use, he thinks.
whats the use. he says.
'what do you mean,' she says.
he hovers, a teachable moment sword in hand.
we do are best, right. i mean i can't be mad about the lack of soup, even though it's your responsibility. even though i hold up my end of the bargain. even though i am going to work and never say boo about it. even though you demanded to stay home with the kids and now we went from good to broke and i work like a dog just to keep no money in my pockets. i mean you are trying your best, you have to watch kids and thats tough, though you can hand them off to your mom. right. you are too busy and it is too hard to keep food in the damn cabinets. but it is not about the food.
'i am going to get the damn soup.' she says. 'you're right, it is not easy. you're right i do have to watch the kids. you try it, for one day. you try, see how far you get.' she says.
they separate go their corners, breathe hard and stare.
'it's not like i am out shopping or laughing my day away. it's not like i am complaining about having a small house, or an old car when all my friends have new things.' she says.
he hears not good enough.
well, boo, you knew about me, you came in with your eyes open. he says but is cut off.
'i knew? i knew about everything? maybe i would have made a different decision if i knew about your credit.' she says.
well there is no lock on the door. he says.
'that's not what i mean.' she says.
they are still apart but closer. they each have picked up a child somewhere along the way. one is holding for comfort they other held to be fed.
'enough.' he says.
'no, if i am not doing a good job then tell me how i can do better. i mean if you are so good maybe you can come home and lend me a hand.' she says.
enough, he says. listen, we are doing our best. we are just worn out. we are just beat by all this stress. we are just collapsing here under the weight of it all. you are amazing. i am not sure how you do all this and not collapse.
'i don't have a off day, or a quitting time.' she says.
he watches her tears.
i know, he says and moves towards her position on the couch. it's just a bad day, right. tough we had one kid wake up so early and the other sick. lots of stress. lets just let it go. alright?
'i am so mad,' she says, 'i get one day with you, one day as a family and it always turns out like this. always ends up arguing, wasting time. i just want to enjoy your company, not feel on the clock. do family things...'
i know, me too. listen they are young...
'not worry about some damn soup,' she says.
forget the soup, forget it. you sit better yet, come sit in the kitchen, take a break, let me make dinner. come sit and let's talk. what do you think?
'okay.' she says.
i ain't making no damn soup. he says.
they laugh, they embrace a quick kiss then exit lower stage right.
we are left to the sound of the television playing and one kid watching while the other sucks their fingers and bats a giraffe while laying on their back.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

the loving-13

they don't stop for coffee anymore. charlie mack and his pig bellied wife suddenly took up dancing. harper and his sag faced pancake chested bitch of a wife decided the day was for golfing or pottery. susan the brown haired dike would love to come by but is just so busy with her new grandchild. all of them once would come everyday, now gone. at first i believed in their schedules but now, now i know they don't want to risk catching what debra's got. there is an anger in me that boils, that burns that causes me to pace and curse under my breath while i watch my wife try to hide her tear when drinking midmorning coffee alone.
we were all young once, but now the storm of time has rubbed away those fresh tight faces and bodies. eyes droop, hair begins to frizz and once hourglass shapes or v-shapes now become boxes and pears. there is mrs. mack, the former highschool princess, the former ms. beautiful from the college campus and a veritable calender babe as a young mother now all slop. her face over blushed, over blue eye makeup, belly over sweat pant. the bane of the elderly class, when our pants lose buttons and zippers to elastic and wool.
there are pictures of us at the big booth from mr. wangs when we were something. everybody smiling, hair combed black and white excellence. we stopped meeting there when the picture became a symbol to be cursed, avoided a embarrassing testament to how the mighty have fallen. when you were young and could use the money, had the energy to eat out to explore foreign shores and dance with your love atop the bridges of paris you had none. when you are old and could use the energy, the tender blanched skin of excitement rushing about saying 'who, what, no go go go!' you have none.
so we gone from the heart of this town. gone from whirlwinding about, celebrating our love, friendship and the milestones of our children to sitting alone in deep leather chairs contemplating history while our wives stare out the window and slowly go mad. so we go from learning about new things, new favorite authors and musicians to silence. i can't remember the last time i turned on the radio to hear something other than weather or news.
i watch debra. we have slowly stopped talking. there is the quick catch up after a phone call but mostly we are in our preferred sections of the house until a prescription or fridge needs to be replenished.
while there were newspapers for awhile, then losing out to television then losing out to television and the computer then losing out to chat sites. i make profiles while she yodels about the birds. i make sexual innuendos that i could no longer follow through on. i ask for, and receive, dirty pictures or head shots and i try to dream all the life i had into their eyes. i think of the sadness of being alone of being married for so long only to end up back where you started and that sex drive replaced with a conversation or company drive and so you go searching.
i get long emails from some woman named carol who lives in arizona and always votes republican. she tells me of her children and their 'hassels' how her son is a 'good boy but mostly lazy' and that she 'lost her charlie a few years ago to the cancer.' i tell her of my problems and ask for a picture.
carol, who lives in arizona, sends me a set of pictures. the first is of her face and then they slowly pull back to reveal her naked and twisted about her sheets like an old marylin monroe picture. her body is loose in the stomach, breasts and butt from life not gluttony. the curse of genetics. i don't answer her letters for a week then guilt ridden i respond explaining away my absence with an excuse of a child emergency.
tabitha was a big black forty year old with four children and no husband. she talks of poverty and how hard it is to raise four kids on her income. tabitha has to decide between rent and child insurance. her ex is a 'real broke son of a bitch who don't do shit for these kids' and her own parents are 'broke too, so there ain't no real help down here.' she is from idaho and works as a checker at the local grocery. they qualify for state aid but need 'some cash to help pay the lawyer for to get the insurance. it is all fucked up, excuse my language.' i send a thousand dollars and never answer another of her emails.
debra was the one who picked charlene. charlene who lives in our town. charlene has auburn hair and is twenty years my junior. it was debra who wrote back who explained, 'my wife she is dying of alzheimers.' charlene who has a husband who is also sick wrote back. debra was the one who responded, 'life is hard when you get old trusting something only to be lied to. you love and you love and in the end it feels like a cheat, like your partner failed you.' charlene was the one who wrote back, 'it is a cheat. you work to build to provide and your family is provided, is grown and secure. you work so that you can take these days to travel, to enjoy each other then this. doesn't matter. all it is, doesn't matter. shit, you love and pray try to do good things and still it comes, still they are taken away.'
debra was the one who sent the picture. charlene was the one who responded with a picture. the effort together they are building together, a relationship. it was me who discovered all this and said nothing. we never spoke about what was going on. it was debra and jack who slowly faded and it was charlene and i who spent the suffering together, over email then telephone then coffee then dinners.
we attended two funerals together. we suffered the violence of emotion from the mouths of our children. we suffered the fading and death of our loves of our partners. it was the sick beds and graveyards that built all this. it was the pain and loneliness that built all this. there are just some things so heavy you can't lift alone.
there was funerals. there was flowers and time then dinners and slow dances. there was the violence and the passage of time. there are the memories and the memories to come. there was the dating and the passage of time. there was the friendship that grows with the passage of time. there was the wedding. finally there was somethings that we could not quite identify as true love, true joy or true hope but it has to do.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

the loving-12

she had told me of precious the goat. she had shown me pictures of a little girl tough faced in cowboy boots and denim holding the rope to the goat. precious the ribbon winner, precious the great trick learner, precious was top of the line.
it was the state fair during our youth, before i had even kissed her face or written a love letter. it was the state fair and the 4-h club was there. debra the younger stood holding her rope watching while precious was rubbed, while precious was judged and there was hope. while the other goats were 'baa' about precious held her head high in silence. she was a true professional. the goat never bucked or stepped away as the judges rubbed her belly evaluated the texture of her coat. debra would suck her teeth when thinking of precious, her precious and those devil goat eyes.
'it was precious the winner,' she had said.
through the pictures we were regaled. there was the great smile of the child champion. there was the ribbon being placed, the patch sewn the general crowd smiling and standing behind her as she knelt beside the animal.
now i wonder if precious is gone. burned to fade by the disease.
there is the picture of the blue mustang. the first car, the picture of her leaning against the hood in her summer dress great joy alighting her face.
debra spoke of the freedom of the drive. the freedom of the great open road the travel to big cities miles away for exploration. the night wanderings through the city when all the other girls had their boyfriends and make out lane before we had held hands or exchanged glances. she was an athlete, she was a farmer, she was always at work with her animals and she was always alone.
'boys were not that interested in me, i was a late bloomer,' she would say.
this would cause me guilt. that i never saw until everyone else had seen. that long before we found each other we had known each other in the hallways of school. i think of that school, of it's antiseptic smells. i think of the linoleum and florescent lights and loud buzzing moon faced clocks. i think of the chalk boards never completely clean, of the ghosts of past classes that had gone before and won their trophies.
in those pictures, the lonely girl and i wonder her atop the squeak wood bleachers. she is nervous about the boys seeing her eat, judging her size or worse yet not noticing her at all. i wonder if she laughs too loud with her friends or acts clumsy and bumps into boys while walking to and from her seat. i can see her, like all of us in our teens, hungry for attention and admiration ready to connect get hot blooded and explore just what is going on in our bodies.
i was always on the teams. was always playing the games, being watched unable to laugh to loud or get clumsy. i hoped that she had come and watched for me. that she had always known or felt and believed it could come true. i had hoped that she dreamed through the thick blanket of summer night heat that we were going to be together. these were the hopes of the married man who always wants to believe that his wife had only dreamed of him. in our youth we are tinder ready to be set afire by anything, by anyone. each body could set us to inferno with dreams of skin and breath and a future together we as yet fail to truly understand.
the album, all it's past visions captured. debra the singer, debra the track star and debra the student leader all black and white documented here. pages of smiling, pages of triumph, pages of hope and enthusiasms. we never photograph the bad days. we never record the times alone in our room weeping over broken heart or shame.
as i flip through her childhood, her teenage years and college days i am chilled. i wonder how far the disease has eaten, how many of the pages have faded how many memories are gone. i will not ask, i will push it away out of mind. each page lost gets closer to our pages. each page lost gets us closer to our first encounter, or first words, kiss and other intimacies. i will not think of such things as i place the album away in a safe place and head out to the deck. she is there we will sit, we will hold hands and in our silence i hope she is not disturbed by the sound of my recorder.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

the loving-11

as a young man there was the hunt. always on the prowl, eyes tracing the forms of woman trotting past car window, walking past working man, chatting on the corner or any other place and way. married man i watch them down, i hungered smelt sex on the air and had visions of impropriety.
we all are born to the wandering eye, right? it only matters in the action not the thought, right?
i am watching the clock in the doctors office as they proceed through their tests. i am watching the seconds above my wife's head tick away as she sits like a child still smooth skin and knobby knee peeking out from under the hem of hospital gown. the doctor is instructing but we are both lost somewhere else in the timelines of our memory.
i would never cheat. i should say i have not cheated until this point. i have not committed the simplest form of adultery, have kept the marriage vows as well as one can. though the heat of the young hearted man has turned to the yearn of the older man. i want someone to talk to. when disease appears, when it is fatal, when you understand that death has joined the family and begun to unpack you begin to withdraw. debra is still my wife, still my love but now there is the need for space, the instinct to get away from sick things.
while the doctor mutters. as she stares away, still hauntingly beautiful i want for someone to talk to. there are support groups for the family members of those that suffer, but i am not ready. i am not ready to stand up and accept the end. i am not ready to begin to say goodbye to my wife. so i wander the halls, so i wander the streets, so i wander the bar rooms and book stores tracing the shape of woman with my eyes. i trace, study and hunger for someone to talk to.
we leave with script for prescriptions. neither one can remember much of what was said, though she has an excuse, so when hannah calls i am lectured on the art of paying attention. while she talks i hold debra's hand and yet and still my eye wander. i see a beautiful black woman of maybe twenty five chatting outside a coffee shop, i make a mental note to visit later. there is a thin latino in a smart pants suit outside the bank shaking somebody's hand i make a mental note to see about their interest rate.
the conversation ends as we move through the drive through at the local pharmacy. i see the bright eye of the auburn haired beauty dim. she has thin elegant fingers that tender the paper in her hand, her green eyes are pained when they unblinkingly look into mine, 'okay we will see you about an hour.' i make a mental note to come in, to come alone to say hello in about an hour.
'is there anywhere you want to go?' i ask and hope for no. hope she would want to go home and take a nap so that i can come back. so i will not be hurried or ashamed when i breath deep her perfume and hold/shake her hand as i get the prescription and hope for conversation.
'i was thinking of lunch earlier but i'm sorry i'm so tired. would you hate just going home?'she asks.
'no, no, not at all.'
there is a beat as she leans her head against my shoulder.
'i don't know how you do it. i would be crazy by now, dealing with this and me...'
'don't say that. we're a team. in for a penny in for a pound.'
there is a beat as she raises my hand to kiss it.
'if you want to talk, if you need to let it out you can i am here i will listen,' she says and moves so there her eyes are looking into mine.
'no, no i know. it's okay, alright, if i need to i will. you too. how are, is what are you feeling?'
'just tired mostly,' she says.
we make the slow turn down towards or home.
'i love you, you know that?' i say.
'i know, thank you, i love you too.'
'you are my best friend, thank you for this life,' i say.
there is just the sound of her breath and soft tears as we pull into the garage. we lean forward, we deep kiss and i wonder how i will break the ice. i wonder about interest rates or how coffee at that place tastes and watch another minute slip away on the dash boards digital clock. only 48 minutes to go, but really 30 if you count driving.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

the loving-10

it's an indian summer. heat creeps through the cracks in the windows, underneath the door jams and onto our skin. there is an angry sun causing the sweat to come out to lay against the skin in mass prayer. she is here now. she leans against the metallic shell of the freezer trying to get some relief. she is in her thirties, she is beautiful. i watch her olive skin stretch as it sticks to the metal making a high pitch squeal as she moves across it's face.
i was wrench in hand, phone in hand cursing the luck. i was out of shirt my young man stomach hair lined and wet waiting for the air condition repair to come. while she mixed the ice into the water, as she moved against the freezer humming, as little children were outside with their feet up, or chasing footballs all with friends and neighbors all with smile and laughter.
we never had a dog. i always felt disappointed about that. i always felt sad about that in the winter when a good dog would have lay against us on the couch sighing. i always dreamed of my son rushing through the town or through the woods with his trusty dog side kick what dreams they share what laughs and secrets would never be shared. in reality the dog would have been enjoyed for it's youth then abandoned to me and now in the heat would cry and beg not to go outside and could it just once use the house as it's toilet. it's a heavy exchange, the joy of it's youth to your children and you are left to dig the grave to share the gasps and laze of it's elder days.
enough of that.
we are a young family. we are bursting at the seams of our first home. i am suffocating on the thought we are stuck. the heat like the mortgage like the housing market like the job market like the bills that come. all these consistent things that are to be satisfied and the only way to satisfy them is to work is to stay. as she spins the pitcher to seperate the lemon from the atop the ice layer i wonder the horizon and how wild things must always move. i wonder on my first family how they survive now, my dad, in his permanence in his static how he feels about where he ran out of gas.
we are thirty. we are young and take our health for granted. we take for granted that the repairman will be here soon. we take for granted that this too shall pass. while debra moves from the freeze, while she kisses as she passes to deliver water and glasses to the playing children i stare the window through.
i am a jealous man, jealous of the distance of the horizon, jealous that paris is somewhere where they can get drunk all day, jealous that there is a perfect postcard ocean beaches somewhere not here and jealous that all this working man application has got me the small house of the group. all this effort has gotten me to mid nothing. gotten me nowhere. my family will have to take the public schools, my family will have to accept this tiny home for awhile maybe forever and still they play, still they laugh and still they sing.
it is the fire of my youth. it is the fire of my innocence and i wonder how they are so innocent to such things.
it is sunday. it is hot. there is the honk of the repair van that causes them all to wave. i move to the door. i shake hands, 'got you working on the weekend?' i say.
'it's the busy season, you know,' he says.
we shake hands.
'i understand,' i say.
as i let him in. as i turn to shut the door i smell the clean air and i can feel it pass between us. freedom out there. drunk out there. the great unknown. the things to pioneer out there. i close the door and lead him to the garage to the chorus of laughter from my children and wife as they sit cross legged peaceful underneath the tree breathing it all in.