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Twentieth Sitting

Well, I'm in Alaska. Yes, yes, I know, I should have called, should have written, should have let you know what has gone on in the meantime, but I was a bit at war, you see... not with myself, or with my rival, or the expectations of others, or those bastards in British Columbia (to be randomly offensive), but with this book. I hate it. I mean, I love it, it's... well, is it me? No, not me. But close... well, it was close, it was leisurely, it was fun, but this narrative stuff -- what a pain in the arse! It's hard enough to actually experience these events, to wait through the boring, awful silences and take in those manifold, shifting, and damn incessant atmospheres, but to record it all as well? Verbatim? Bah! Waste of frigging time. I am not so insecure that I can't bear the solitude of my own mind, that I feel the need to record and share every damn impression so as not to explode upon myself in an orgy of self-consciousness hell. Well, I am, I guess, but narrative doesn't ease the pain, or, well, I guess pressure would be a better word, a bursting and buzzing just inside the temples. Nonetheless, hurt me though it must, I must finish this damn book, and finish it well ("well"="at great length"), so I will call it my nemesis. It was leisurely, but with the retreat from the early stages of Tripe (which is what I heretofore described) to gradual self-consciousness and order, to the acquisition of purpose, it is no longer an extra mouth, a part of myself. No, this book has acquired its own life and direction, and I am powerless to stop it. I must finish it, even though you're already bored. Think of the children. Think of the fans of Buddy and Snake, our colorful main characters who bust down trail after trail in search of adventure. Were I to can the serial now, they would be disappointed. The two people who I've gotten to read this far would be disappointed. Mom and Dad would be disappointed (well, not my Mom and Dad, neither of whom got past page ten, but you know...). She would... well, I don't know what she would do... but at least it will keep me out of her hair during my visit to her. All the reasons not to kill oneself apply here (except that one about thwarting Brown's Chicken, a reason which applies to living in general as Brown's feeds off the flesh of the living, so you should survive until you're gamy and chewy, but not to the writing of this book, which will not thwart them even at all nope. Sorry, just had to throw that in to encourage absurd lawsuits.).

So dammit this book will be done, even if I have to hire someone to do it, or just color for fifty pages. To start I will send you a postcard, as I should warm up to send postcards to all the people whom I picked randomly out of the phone book and pledged to send postcards to. (This way I will make many friends, and so be more popular than Jesus, and so sell more albums.) So you have to picture going out to your mailbox and pulling out a colorful card (or as colorful as you can get for 25cents; I really don't know you well enough to buy you anything nice) with lots of trees on it. I mean lots of trees, all of the same two or three types, the only kinds that can actually survive here. And boy are they tall; I'll tell ya... they are so tall that they have to shop at a big and tall store (That was a wonderful joke, yes? You can use it for a nickel or so.). Plus there is a big Alaskan landmark of some sort on it; I don't know which because I just got here and haven't seen them yet, but just imagine something as cool as all the other lame-o landmarks that appear on postcards. Plus in big letters the card says "ALASKA" or "FAIRBANKS" or maybe a joke like "ALASKAN winters are so mean that they once shot a man just for snorin' too loud." Now turn the card over. There ya go:

Dear friend whom I don't know well enough to buy anything nice for,

Wishing you well from Fairbanks, Alaska. There are lots of trees. They are tall, like myself. I will climb them all before I leave, proving myself the master of this place. Don't even think I'm not having a great time. Why, the surf's up and my blood pressure's down, whoo-wee! Hey, is that Freedom Rock? Well, turn it up! Betcha didn't think I would send you a postcard. Betcha thought I'd been eaten by wolves already. Betcha thought I didn't really like you anyway, what with killing you off a few chapters ago, didn't you? Well I'll have you know that it's far less likely that I'll be killed by a wolf than by a moose, as the moose and meese tend to wander around goring people so as to protect their young (even if the young aren't actually present... I guess it's better to kill everything just to be safe). So I'm here, and sleeping on Her floor and eating Her food, as it's a pain in the flank to walk anywhere to shop, so I haven't yet done so. I got in two days ago and spent yesterday being a migrant worker putting up insulation on some guy's cottage. I have the option to do more honest work for honest pay, but I feel compelled to kill this damn book, even to the point of just making this card to you, which I was going to write anyway, as part of it. Jeez, I must write pretty small for a postcard to be this long. So I'll maybe see you in early October when I return, it being now (exposition point coming:) Sep. 9, 1993, just so you know. Take care; I hope your syphilitic symptoms are letting up... you really shouldn't have let it go that long before treatment, you know? Doncha go completely insane on me now, okay chum?

Bye now,

Me

So now you know that not that much time has passed since the last chapter, that stuff must have happened so that I am not going in December or whenever, but rather now, that His opposition either lessened or was ignored, but my God what happened? WHAT FRIGGING HAPPENED? WHAT IN HELL AM I DOING IN ALASKA?

Does that work as a suspense builder? I really am not sure. I will break this tension, or the lack of tension, or your impatience with my procrastination, or three bricks with my bare hand (thin bricks), but you must give me slack, or rather I am taking slack, as you really can't stop me, as there are a ton of flashbacks I should put out, hate them though I may. Really what's called for is some sort of continuity, some sort of foreshadowing presented after the fact, some story about the death of a pet...

***

Hmmm. Porch. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Food. Here on the porch. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Eatin' it, I am, yeah. Pretty good.

People. Yeah... yeah, yeah. Pettin' me. Tryin' to make me forget about my immense and obvious bladder infection that makes me drip urine randomly on everything all the time and will undoubtedly kill me before too long. Cancer's Cool for Cats, it's Cool for Ca-a-a-a-ats. (<--Lyric reference; doan' worry about it.) Pettin' me all night. Givin' me food. Debating on whether to take me in to get put to sleep now or in the morning when it'll be cheaper. Finance wins, as I have stopped dripping blood and look fairly contented. It's `cause I am. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm just as miserable as anyone else... moreso, probably. Sittin' on the damn porch. Dealing with the other cat whose last owners made him smoke lots of bad pot. Dealing with the other cats beside that one that come up randomly and eat my food. This furniture is pretty gross; all that cat hair on it. Hell, I'm pretty gross for that matter. Yeah, yeah... yeah. I have had very little use up to this point, other than as a plaything and occasional companion, kind of like a lot of women are still made to feel in the harsh marriages of the twentieth century (score one for gratuitous political correctness). But now, yesssssss... I can be a symbol, a sign of mortality, a sign that anyone, even a cat whose cancer had been diagnosed a long time ago, can just up and die. I will make them all reflect on the fragility of it all, of the sheer thinness of the human will as a force preventing and making things happen. Something like that. Oh, yes, and also Aaaaaaaaaaak. (thump)

***

Yes, these are old lessons, but someone's got to teach them to us, and remind us of them continuously, so we remember just how crappy, or arguably not crappy, or, you know, just there, organic and completely uncategorizable and hence unjudgable life is, judge it by our momentary purposes (like wanting to live and be happy) as we might. Ho ha. Dang that narrative was painless. I should write more from the point of view of animals; these are better than inanimate objects because they can die. Since no one knows how well animals process the world (well, actually we do, as we know what kind of sense organs they have and what sorts of neural sludge the signals run through, but I will pretend to be as ignorant as you), we're free to make up any cockamamie shit up about them that we please (I am not just catching up on my swear quotient, but rather describing a certain kind of shit characterized my its rough texture and navy blue cardigan sweater), and there's nothing God can do to stop us, so phooey on Him.

If you've noticed the similarity between His name and His name, you are quick. There is more to it, and much more beyond that, than you would initially think. In the personal drama there is Self (me, of course, at least in my case), and Other, the mass of great She (...not that she's overweight... She's not, though she is worth infinite tons of gold and then some, especially if the market is down.), with the power to give and take, to isolate or fulfill. So what's left are big stupid forces of nature, logistics that make it so even though your true love really does want you, she's got this appointment to wash her hair, you know, so she can't do anything tonight, or Saturday either... look, maybe she'll call you... He is, of course this logistic, in his guise as rival or God. Whatever. Silly shit for a silly book, you bastard book... I WILL FINISH YOU! I'm not sure where the book itself fits into this Self/Other/Other than the Other trichotomy, but I will conquer it nonetheless.

Did I mention the trees? ALL THE TREES? There are many. They are big and also tall, yes. Don't even tell me later I didn't mention the trees, that I don't know how to describe a setting. Whoa, trees! Also the moon is visible pretty much all the time, and is prettiest in daylight. But I don't look at it very much, as if I did, I would probably walk into a TREE MY GOD THERE ARE A LOT OF TREES! So much yet left to deforest; my life's work is clear. I will do it by making this book very very long and printing many many copies and not recycling. Everyone must do his or her part by buying many copies of this book for friends, families, and the homeless (or all of the above, for you folks who like Cousin Annie and her three daughters, but not enough to let her and them stay at your place). At least now I've figured out what to put on the cover, should I find an artist who wants to draw trees for free. Maybe I'll get Her to do it.

There's obviously a lot more to say and do to and with you. I feel like we've been apart for a while and there's still so much left to talk about... Nonetheless, we should go to sleep. I will lie on your floor on couch cushions next to your bed, and you will scrunch to that side so we can see each other, and we'll talk about how tired we are, and exchange those little indescribable looks that say everything is at last wonderful now, but I just can't believe you're here in the same room with me. Wow. When it gets completely dark and we still can't sleep, I'll pull out my guitar and try to remember the words to one of the songs I wrote for you. You will appreciate the serenade, half-mumbled through though it was, and sink into a restful but interrupted sleep, pausing now and to realize that I really am here. Wow.

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© 1993 Mark A. Linsenmayer [ Contents ]