Sunday, November 27, 2011

the shoelace has snapped

The Shoelace

a woman, a
tire that’s flat, a
disease, a
desire: fears in front of you,
fears that hold so still
you can study them
like pieces on a
it’s not the large things that
send a man to the
madhouse. death he’s ready for, or
murder, incest, robbery, fire, flood...
no, it’s the continuing series of small tragedies
that send a man to the
not the death of his love
but a shoelace that snaps
with no time left...
The dread of life
is that swarm of trivialities
that can kill quicker than cancer
and which are always there -
license plates or taxes
or expired driver’s license,
or hiring or firing,
doing it or having it done to you, or
roaches or flies or a
broken hook on a
screen, or out of gas
or too much gas,
the sink’s stopped-up, the landlord’s drunk,
the president doesn’t care and the governor’s
lightswitch broken, mattress like a
$105 for a tune-up, carburetor and fuel pump at
sears roebuck;
and the phone bill’s up and the, market’s
and the toilet chain is
and the light has burned out -
the hall light, the front light, the back light,
the inner light; it’s
darker than hell
and twice as
then there’s always crabs and ingrown toenails
and people who insist they’re
your friends;
there’s always that and worse;
leaky faucet, christ and christmas;
blue salami, 9 day rains,
50 cent avocados
and purple

or making it
as a waitress at norm’s on the split shift,
or as an emptier of
or as a carwash or a busboy
or a stealer of old lady’s purses
leaving them screaming on the sidewalks
with broken arms at the age of 80.

2 red lights in your rear view mirror
and blood in your
toothache, and $979 for a bridge
$300 for a gold
and china and russia and america, and
long hair and short hair and no
hair, and beards and no
faces, and plenty of zigzag but no
pot, except maybe one to piss in
and the other one around your

with each broken shoelace
out of one hundred broken shoelaces,
one man, one woman, one
enters a

so be careful
when you
bend over.

-Charles Bukowski

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving eve

Last night I met up with a friend for a drink. Both of us felt weary from the work week.

“The night before Thanksgiving is the biggest drinking night of the year,” he told me.

“Makes sense,” I said.

We sat at a very dark bar, in contented silence, and stared at the people around us until they looked back, at which point I pretended to look elsewhere.

We talked about a friend, twice-removed: a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend. Like us, she worked as a lawyer. Unlike us, she was fat and in a deep fat funk. You could see it on her face and on her body. We wanted good things for her. We hoped that she would turn her life around.

“My friend thinks that she’ll end up regretting her early thirties if she doesn’t do something about it,” he said.


“I think I regret some things,” he said. “Small things that seem insignificant in the bigger picture. Overall, though, I don’t regret anything.”

“I think I regret some small things, too,” I said. “Like studying too hard and not studying hard enough. Mmmm. Taking life too seriously. Not traveling more. Things like that.”


“I always thought I’d end up in a different country for a bit, living an exciting life and traveling everywhere… but that was always a temporary idea.”

“Yeah, I wish I traveled more, too.”

“Overall, though, I’m really happy with the way my life turned out,” I said. “I mean, is turning out.”

“Me, too.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

a lesson in human nature

Thank goodness, I have finally figured out how to embed hyperlinks!

Heaven Is a Place Called Elizabeth Warren

"But many of the people looking to Warren, as they did to Obama before her, are expecting material things — like readable credit-card pitches or safe bridges or jobs or a vote on a bill to create jobs — that are, at the moment, figments as imaginative as dragons and their slayers. And that’s dangerous, because when the person we decided was going to fix it all isn’t able to change much, it’s not just that we get blue but also that we give up. We mistake the errors of our own overblown estimations for broken promises. And instead of learning, reasonably, that one person can’t do everything, we persuade ourselves that no person can do anything.

The key is not just emotional investment in election-year saviors but also an engagement with policy. A commitment to organized expressions of political desire — like those that have been harnessed so effectively in recent years on the right — have been absent for far too long in Democratic politics. Now, with labor protests, campaigns to block voter suppression and personhood measures and the occupations of cities around the nation, there seem to be some small signs that liberals are remembering that politics requires more of them, that they need movements, not just messiahs. But their engagement must deepen, broaden and persist beyond last week’s elections and well beyond next year’s elections if there is any chance for politicians like Warren to succeed."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

on friendship

totally distracted
what was I saying?
P: yay.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I don’t know very much about my mother’s earlier years. She doesn’t talk about it. As a result, her adolescence and early adulthood feels strangely blank to me.

She is not hiding anything in particular. There’s simply not much to tell. I sense that she merely arrived at the right places at the right time and, sensibly, took advantage of the opportunities that were presented to her.

She has told me the following stories about her youth:

1) She felt nervous during her entrance exam.
2) She lived in the United States and felt utterly depressed.
3) She lived in the United States and ate disgusting things like week-old Arby’s French dip and ice cream sandwiches (her own concoction consisting of two slices of bread hugging a thin layer of ice cream).

When I was younger, she confided in me that the best chapter of her life unfolded when she was hovering somewhere in her mid-to-late twenties – when she had a desk job and lived with a roommate and owned a lot of mismatched silverware.

Sometimes, when I am alone and quiet and feeling like her, I try to reconstruct her life using the small details that she has given away over the years. I picture her in my head: she is a pretty, slight slip of a girl. She is the same age as me and she is still considered a girl. She is self-contained and slightly aloof. She eats like a sparrow. She works in Santa Monica and is not dating. She spends a small part of her meager salary on art classes and clothes. She walks along the harbor, bare-limbed, in white platform shoes. She is utterly free.