Green jeans. He’s wearing green jeans and a brown belt. I can’t believe I agreed to meet him. That Sandra is quite the yenta. His shirt is beige with a pair of wraparound sunglasses dangling from a pocket. A patch on his hand shows a military star, or maybe it’s a park ranger star—do they even have stars for the park rangers? I’m going to kill Sandra when I see her next.
I sip the martini and smile at Green Jeans. He has a name, I think, but since he told it to me when I was still under the shock of the green jeans, I now don’t remember it. It’s for the best. I check the chests of his shirt, expecting to find his name embroidered in script on one of his pockets, but no luck. His left pointer fingernail is caked with dirt. His other fingernails are clean enough, however. I wonder how that happened.
(No sitting!) Charles couldn’t sit. Anxiety played a fiddle on his anxious shoulder, and he couldn’t find a way to satisfy his urge to flick it off. Samson had spoken for the last thirty minutes, dominating the conference room with his bland voice and measured cadence. Charles wandered the room, straightening chairs and trying to absorb the information Samson provided. The problem was that Charles had already absorbed all the information Samson had on the subject, and he couldn’t find a way to cut him off without creating a scene. Four other people listened in the room, all seated, and none seeming to wonder why Charles wandered the room. One of them, a minor executive named Leonard, peppered Samson with questions. Samson took great pleasure in answering these questions. After listening to three of these questions, Charles was now convinced that Leonard was goading him on.
“And you were saying about the agreement—I didn’t quite understand where the other side was coming from,” Leonard said to Samson. Charles was sure that Leonard watched Charles’s reaction through what would be—and for Charles to believe this he admitted he had to accept it as a trait of Leonard’s—an amazing peripheral vision.
Charles couldn’t listen to the answer and fled the conference room. He decided it best to get a few drinks for the participants, show that he cared about their thirst content, and return in fifteen minutes. That should give Leonard and the rest of the sycophants enough time to listen to Samson’s stories and repetitive ideas enough that they feel their toady quota fulfilled.
Heat blisters formed on the red button as it glowed.
I am wired. Two shots of caffeine in a day wrought with travel anxieties were too much. I sit on the airplane, the taste of yummy caffeine still dominating my mouth, too anxious to read (what has turned out to be a rather good book—even forgiving the Oprah endorsement and the strangely boring opening chapter—Dinosaur Franzen’s The Corrections) or my New Yorker (I have to finish about two and a half more magazines and I’m caught up for the first time since I started my subscription), or write much besides these overly commented words.
I flirt with stories and find little traction for my mud-caked wheels. I have so many ideas of how I should be writing and what I need to say, and no way to focus long enough to apply or understand those ideas. I’ve come across this writing truth before: verbosity. I need to find a way to say the same thing in more ways, not being repetitive (which contributes to ennui, mine and my imaginary reader’s), but to reinforce. Franzen does this well in his book. You know the character of the characters because he overdoes he, he exaggerates and applies their characteristics to all situations, peppering the reader with descriptions that, getting back to that opening chapter, reinforce your understanding that the father is succumbing to dementia or Alzheimer.
There I go again, referring to real authors and wasting time analyzing without fleshing out or understanding my analysis. I’m surprised and shocked at this development. But I will say, at least I’m writing and not not writing, as has been my condition for the last few weeks. I know the causes and some treatments, but I’m not sure if I want to apply them anymore. I’m not sure why I’m doing this or what I hope to accomplish. My work has become more satisfying lately. Why do I do this? Why torture myself, when I could spend my free time doing free-time stuff, like watching television and playing video games, and going out (okay, even that one is too strange even for me). That’s my angst, my consternation of the last few weeks.
I write these words because I am trapped on an airplane. I knew if conditions were different, if, say, I had finished my work day at around now, and was stuck in traffic heading home, I wouldn’t have opened my computer and started typing after scarfing down my evening meal. My walks to the lake and my musings in my Moleskine have lessened, and I’m not sure if I’m upset. I enjoy this—I’m enjoying it right now—but sit me in front of this screen and make me say something that is not words about how I should say that something, and I’d be at a loss; wasted and confused, unfocused and unrelenting in my overly clever and under-analyzed ideas. Profundity is not my calling. I neither analyze nor understand. I write scenes to write scenes, put words on paper that I can reread like a proud parent, even if, unknown to me, my child is hideously malformed.
I’m overloaded now. I feel it in my head as my world spins around me and I try to hold on to the keys that keep throwing my fingers off the board. I know in a few hours I’ll be overcome with guilt and a deep-stomached sickness and the wastefulness of this time, the caffeine-induced words that, absent such extreme measures, would never have been squeezed out of my drying husk. The airplane shakes around me and I find that as a sign that this is a reality. I become reliant on such drugs for real achievement and know that it is not me but the yummy caffeine cycling through my veins that enable these moments of mania. I had wishes of manic moments, of seeing transcendent truths and sharing them with someone. I come up short each time, finding only abject rejection.
I should be overloaded. That will be my new strategy. With too much yummy caffeine and not enough sleep will brilliance erupt? Or, more likely, a strange ambivalence to the changes in me. I see these changes on the basketball court, the opening up of my real thoughts onto the world, the trash talking, the ridiculing that harbors deep within me, the emotional extent to which these false objects play within my mind. My heart beats in my chest and I feel the slacking of purpose, the rate at which nothing and nobody can exclaim what should go forth. Now I’m not even making sense. My attention wavers to the movie shown, and I watch without listening.
Triangulation of truths. Two sides and angles and I can give you the third, or can I? There, it leaves me, dried leaves on the concrete ground, crunched in passing.
Generalized happiness. Insecurity over future desires. Tugs from the past, worries of future. Meaningless words and unformed thoughts. Nothing analyzed nothing gained. Time spent wasted on wasted time. When does the revelry play? Roaring tomorrows and drops that ping the bottom of wooden buckets.
Universality. Studies of craziness and thoughtfulness, where is the difference? Where does truth’s wart-covered nose poke itself? The cleverness of times awasting, the restfulness of times aplenty. Time and again I have to ask where the meaning, what’s the needled point. Can I get blood from an empty wound? Pin pricks and all don’t aspire to greatness. Great coursing wounds and childhood angst remains top priorities for a society bent on the preoccupation of saying nothing with long sentences of nothingness. Ah, to think of nothing on my way to something. Zero sum evenings and infinite days.