NYC Journal #14 — Sunday, May 10, 2020 — Exhausted
I worked on a short story this morning. Didn’t amount to much.
I went sunbathing on the museum “steps”. A cold wind blew. Two short, lithely shapely 20-something girlfriends with dark hair tumbling over their bent-forward faces, wearing dark colored sweatshirts and black tights or I guess yoga pants, sat leaning towards one another, haunches on a white concrete “step”. Then the one was lying with her head on the other’s thigh. These “steps” are two-foot wide concrete walls with three-foot wide spaces of green grass between them. They go up like steps. I think there’s maybe five of them and they go up and up; the round amphitheater-seating in front of the glassed-in museum entrance ends in a five feet tall concrete wall. Well, five feet tall on the side closest to Washington Avenue. On the other side it’s just a foot tall; the ground is also sloping, so in some areas the amphitheater is cut into the ground and in other places it has to be added onto the ground. Maybe. Maybe it’s something like that. Maybe the two girls were just friends.
Grocery shopping with butterflies and unease all through me. Listening at that point to Lana del Rey’s breakout album. Buying necessities, mask on since that’s the rule when you’re inside / you just have to / no exceptions. Not that I want to be exceptional.
Home. Two pieces of toast with pretend butter. And an apple. Call and wish everybody happiness for their respective special day. So sleepy. Have to lay down. It’s still like that. Still caught by that fatigue. Still have not quite shaken it from my bones. I’ll be strong and moving around in the early day but then by late afternoon I’m tugged down down down into drowsy annihilation, accompanied by soggy, scrapey lungs. Not every day, but pretty often.
Did the Celts in Britain perform human sacrifice? Seems like they did. Was it Christianity that healed the mainland and island Celts of this evil habit? What keeps humans from evil? Sometimes one thing will keep people from evil and then also lead people to evil; but of course it is not the same part of that one thing; aware clear honest loving kindness keeps people from evil; everything else is more susceptible to being co-opted by the meanies, the givemes, the showoffs, the scaredmes, and all those other falter-fail flinches running through us all.
Why did Elizabeth and Walter Bates (in DH Lawrence’s “Odor of Chrysanthemums”) get married in the first place? Once I heard a talk from a Buddhist teacher about what made a life happy or not. He’d met many people who dreamed of getting in relationships and many who dreamed of getting out of them; and so he concluded that relationship status could not be key to happiness. Maybe not; but perhaps it’s like we all sense: a happy relationship is a great thing; just not the easiest thing to obtain or to keep.
Now there’s no more point.
All the things I’ve said and done end only in a vague sleepiness.
I cannot bear to read the news, let alone react helpfully.
My work as a salt shoveler is futile, but doable, and whatever — ’cause I have to pay rent.
What is it I’m supposed to be doing?
What are the things they are posting on Facebook?
I can’t bear to click on the links.
I can’t take another word.
I am tired and don’t feel wise or strong enough to make any useful impact.
Yesterday I had a chicken burrito and that tasted good, but since then I think I’ve fallen asleep in my kayak, which has drifted into white water, which I notice but sleepily; I refuse to acknowledge the situation; I am too tired to believe I’ve got a little diamond-shaped boat cinched around my waist, bobbing and skidding over fast frothing water and mean little stones who jut proudly up here and there.
I did some pull-ups and some dips this morning.
But I did not clean my apartment.
I have awoken from my nap to do some writing but I don’t want to write and I don’t care anymore.
I just want money and to sneak away with a nice young woman and for the world to get better for everyone, but without me having to intervene or participate or even say anything.
Because I don’t have good ideas; I have only a wooden listlessness, with sunken head like a vulture on the road.
Just give me much more money so I can stop fussing over concerns not my own.
Of course, what concern is my own?
I’m tired and have no further insight into the matter of my life.
What was so great about that chicken burrito?
It was kind and juicy and salty and filling and it promised to never leave me.
But it has left me.
And not three pasture-raised eggs with cabbage and potatoes for breakfast, nor two pieces of toast with fake butter and a large round very crisp apple for lunch, nor glass after glass of decaf iced tea can fill the void it has left.
No, I see now that I am forever alone. Even if I got another chicken burrito from the same restaurant prepared by the same team and carried home and eaten at the same table with the same side of spinach, red onion, and cherry tomatoes — even then it would not be the same burrito, and now I’m aware of the falseness of their promises, so any initial rush of contentment would be laced with and ultimately overwhelmed and dragged down by the same uneasy jittery creaking discontent that mars my current reflections.
Every Sunday afternoon the death of hope floats in a heavy nauseous oozy shame.
I didn’t use the time well enough; now this empty task is coming for me and will swallow me up for five days. I had some freedom; a little time to figure out how to point my ship in a better direction; but I squandered that time, and the indifferent currents have come, as they promised they would, to carry me again into the boring stressful no-saved-money fray.
I have failed.
Probably my goals are not laudable enough.
Certainly my means are inadequate.
Clearly my vision is too much consumed in my own reflection.
I reach down and stroke the brown water with a gentle backhand, rippling my face, which I’d sought to caress, but could only disturb.
Never mind, then; never mind, never mind anyways.
And then, though your system forbids eating after 3pm and it is now almost 7pm, you find yourself in the fridge, first for a carrot with miso, innocuous enough and not really a broken vow; but then a couple pieces of bread with fake butter and then you realize that you must cook this steak and have a steak salad with red onions, white mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes. And after the salad, it occurs to you that you must have an orange. And you feel yourself snapping out of the desolation, and you suspect again that a month of 1,000ish calories a day and minimal animal products (the result of both your combining a dwindling food supply with a general lack of appetite) has left you a little anemic. And so again it seems that you are just a device for dramatizing and amplifying little bodily pleasures and pains. Your philosophy merely an afterthought to your mood, itself nothing but the side effect of your metabolic functions. At least a worm knows that it’s nothing but eat and flinch. But of course this reductionism is another oversimplification. The orange helped pound the iron in. Because of the vitamin C.
Author: Wild Bill Hiccup
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