Life is short… and then

Instead of walking somewhere I planned on, I stop and I turn down a side road up North. My walk goes a little vertical; I’m not going to my normal place. I’m trying something new this time.

“Life is short,” says the butterfly, flapping right in front of me as it jumps from branch to branch. There’s a set of houses with Virgin Mary Statues shrines proudly placed in front yards. A woman in her house told me they were symbols to show their hearts are as open as their doors. A few had been taken down in the last few years.

And then I walked by the old city hall, rich in red columns, cobbled engravings, next door to the new city hall. It was a big, bustling street, a sunny open void that made me hungry.

And then I noticed the strange, awkward, audible feedback from people passing me as I wrote all this.

The Last Toenail

Once a way back, a forgetful man cut his toenails and left the remains in a cup for cleanliness. The toenails stayed in that cup for a whole day, overnight, and in through the morning. The cup itself was a plastic summer juice cup with blue stripes. There were 21 shards of toenail in the cup.

On the first night, the toenails became aware. They discussed and they laughed with the bacteria that grew on them. They lived there overnight in a thousand little years, and life grew on them like moss on a tree. A forest of undiscovered life was growing – a neighborhood of life and progress in the making.

On the second day, the man came back for them, for the cup – to wash it (and them) out. It was a horrible scene. When the man tried get the toenails out, they were stuck in place. The life on the toenails had bonded to the cup. And yet, the man’s fury created a torrent as powerful as a thousand tsunamis. All the toenails were washed down the sick disgusting drainpipe… all except one.

One toenail stayed so fixed, the water could not move it. The man, in spite, tried to pick it out and it cut him deeply in the process. He was surprised, but remained persistent until it too fell from the cup. It eventually was flushed down with the rest of its kind, and the man suffered a terrible infection on the tip of his finger for about three months. The last toenail was satisfied in the final moments before darkness; satisfied it shed the blood of its maker, and of its destroyer.

Hit in the Face

It was a dream, a great life as a baseball catcher. I was playing the game right then and there, in the stadium of millions. I didn’t think of the eyes of the fans and not. The cameras… they broadcast it all.

Now a voice in my headgear is telling me they want to see my face. I say no, this is for protection, and I’d rather just anyways. The voice takes my mask away, and my dream becomes my nightmare. I panic at the thought of my concentration on every bit of it all.

I’m dazed, the pitch comes in… I miss it – woaow!

Combination Reasoning

Combination reasoning
Halloween 2010

It was the Halloween party, 2010, out in Somerville, deep in the residential area, among the houses rich enough to build, but too expensive to own. It was fun; the house was a notorious four-bedroom, three-floor brownout that held parties year after year, a tribute of the press company my roommate worked for, exploding into 300+ visitors.

I was a coked-out investment banker in my blue Saks pinstripe, black portfolio pants, Aldo dress shoes and old red tie; a blotch of white face paint covered my nose, and I was considered one of the more original costume ideas of the night. Honest, except for the hot women and men who were too proud to say anything, everyone I introduced myself to was impressed. I was too, on the inside, at all the characters I half-knew amidst the beer and booze.

But I left – combination reasoning. Shit grew weird after the 6th drink, when I ran into some butchers who called themselves “ninja turtles.” It was intolerable; the three of the four I met (Raphael, Donatello, and Leonardo) wore green clothing underneath white smocks with “blood” spattered across them. Different colors, yet they all looked like green Jackson Pollock’s.

Apparently I offended one of them with my costume. I told Donatello what my costume was, and he began to question my intentions. “Why would he be coked-out?” I was caught off-guard, kind of like an awkward come-back from a would-be girl you’re hitting on. I had to defend my intentions, and it gained the interest of more than just the turtles. Raphael was more offended than Donatello. His father was an investment accountant.

The beer and booze did little to solve the problem. Raphael began to ask me who I was, who I came with (to the party), and really made a scene around the ten-odd people in the foyer. I was humiliated at the hands of a bastard ninja turtle; there was no social comeback.

I decided to leave. The keg was finished and I rounded up the remaining booze in a blue solo cup. Believe me when I tell you, the party is over when the booze is all gone. Luckily for me, I spent my last minutes there drinking a combination of Yellow Tail and Jim Bean, provided by a girl dressed like a clown, but claimed she was Elton John. She looked funny, and I thanked her for the help before running into a Frenchman and his companion with a proposition.

“Hey, do you want to smoke some pot?” I was easily swayed, and I quickly forgot about the party inside. The smell of marijuana didn’t seem to bother other people, despite it countering my inebriated self the same way sugar does with coffee. I was in a good place, even after the negative episode minutes earlier, feet away.

I left when I saw the ninja turtles hovering around the front entrance. I didn’t want to cross paths with them again. My roommate would find his own way home; he’s the type to milk a moment until it’s dry, and being only 2am, I knew he would continue his escapades for a while longer. I said my goodbyes to the Frenchman and friend, Gretel and Charlie Brown, along with Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield, Red Riding Hood, Dobby the House Elf, and that dancing banana from that hit “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” by the Buckwheat Boyz.

There were so many others I remember, but I knew there was no opportunity worth trying for to get past the obstinate (and obdurate) ninja turtles. Before heading down the gravel path, I saw them talk and point and stare directly at me, bringing Michelangelo into the mix, making my odds of physical conquest four-times more difficult. I cut my losses and left. It wasn’t worth it.

I had my iPod shuffle. It was somewhere in the middle of a track mix my brother gave me from New York, so I couldn’t tell you what I was listening to. I wasn’t sure where I was going, either, but I was blessed with five seconds to ask a passing cyclist where Highland was. He pointed in the right direction, the general area which led me towards another house party.

Now imagine this scene – you’re out of your mind and in a personal zone, and all of a sudden a character you know and revere is standing outside with a monk and a tennis player smoking a cigarette. Patrick Bateman, the lead character from “American Psycho,” was wearing a poncho over a business suit, just as he did before killing Paul Allen with an ax.

I play off that angle when we first met. I simply asked where Highland was from here, and then asked if I could use his bathroom. “Yeah, go for it. You seem like a nice guy,” he said, and I casually entered the scene. The place was amazing, definitely more expensive than my place on Grand View. He had a bigger foyer with dark brown tiling and windows overlooking the street, and steps leading up into the apartment rather than a hallway turn-around like mine.

The party was still in effect; club girls in skimpy outfits were talking to each other near a billiards table that nobody was using, dudes in cop outfits and spiked Jersey do’s were taking shots of Petron, and a couple or two were making out in distant corners of the lavish apartment. I wandered around, looking for the bathroom, kind of like a fool who didn’t know where he was. The bathroom was in a weird location, and there was a line, but a cop who knew I wasn’t a part of the crowd saw through me and let me jump in line. Nice guy. I enjoyed the relief and thanked him as I left.

I walked back outside just as quickly as I entered. “Thanks Bateman,” I said to the host as he talked to the monk. “No problem,” he said, as if he didn’t notice the name I called him. I told him flat out, “you know, you look just like…” and he flipped out, in a good way. “You know, you’re the first person all night to get my costume. Why don’t you come in and have a drink…”

All the random people who saw me quickly come and go were surprised to see me return with the owner’s arm around my shoulder in smiles and praise. It was a different turn, and I took it. I became one of the dudes taking shots of Petron. I opted for a round of pool with the owner. “You know, it’s been ages since I played this game.” I don’t remember if he or I said that.

I remember we shared quotes and scenes from American Psycho, and the girls with hard bodies revolved around us because we looked like we knew what we were doing. I caught the eye of some blonde who was talking to her friend; they were among the few sitting by the entrance when I first arrived. When the game ended, I shook hands with the owner and thanked him for his hospitality. “Hey man, thank you,” almost competitively gracious; explains the multi-hundred dollar getup he was rocking.

I had to excuse myself, not because it was late, but because I wanted to meet the blonde outside before I left.

“Hey,” she said, “who are you?”

“I’m Alex.” She meant what my costume was, confused by the blotch of white paint on my nose. I told her, and she said “oh, that’s funny.” She didn’t laugh, but smiled. Her teeth were whiter than my face paint. I got her number but didn’t get her name.

I stumbled home the remaining half-mile to the sound of Cate Brothers “Give It All to You.” I still got home before my roommate. 4:30am or so, and he strolls in with some girl he met at the party. She wasn’t fabulous, certainly a couple notches below the blonde I met, but still fun. He brought home a brown paper bag full of beers, and he and I drank more as the girl began to have second thoughts. Within minutes, they left again; he drove her home as I sat in my Eames chair, drafting the first part of this story. At 5:10am, he returned with a smug look on his face. “Man, I did that girl a favor.” I could care less if he got laid that night.

We talked about my shenanigans at the press party, and laughed about the chance encounter with Patrick Bateman and his lavish house apartment over stale pizza and beer. It was near 6am when I went to bed, and my dark empty sleep was interrupted a few hours later when my parents texted me to meet them in Copley for brunch.

Calvino’s “Cosmicomics” and all things Imagined

I like to imagine the world and the universe once acted like the story in Italo Calvino’s “Cosmicomics” entitled “The Distance of the Moon.” In my imagination, the moon was not the first to grow apart from the Earth. The whole cosmos once lived as neighbors around our world, within earshot and eye, at distances where we could see galaxies swirl with one another, and recreate themselves in endless chemical attraction.

At night, I would sit out on my rooftop and smell the solar vapors of Alpha Centauri. I wouldn’t be trying to take Ferris wheel rides on the moon. Instead, I would shed a solitary tear, for the moon, for the stars, for the worlds beyond ours. We don’t mean to push you away, but it’s our nature to grow and change. You might as well leave right now, I’d say, and still, everything took their time. Now, several tens of hundreds of thousands of years later, the memory of a time long past is but an ever-distant photograph.

The closer we get to seeing it all, the closer we get to capturing but a moment’s feeling of that relationship we once had with all things.

— And for your entertainment, here’s a short film I found that tells the story of “The Distance of the Moon.” Enjoy :-)