———- Forwarded message ———- From: Jon Sarkin <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Sat, May 31, 2014 at 12:10 AM Subject: To: michael digregorio <email@example.com> Dear Mike, It all started out, as petty bickerings frequently do, with something insignificant and then it steamrolled, snowballed, into a cascading vendetta of wildly hurled epithets involving general psychic defects. This seemed an ongoing situation with Jim and whomever he was tangling. This time it was a tangle about whether milk expired precisely on the date printed on the carton, or if it was OK to drink it a day after the expiration date. This picayune disagreement quickly accelerated – degenerated – into knocked and dragged ugliness regarding personality issues and gross characterizations. At time such as these, Jim sensed the anvil-feel of his head in a vice, that cloggish sensation of some mental head cold in which his sinuses ached with brain pain, his perception hurting like the siege of Leningrad. Then, in the morning, it would be over. He’d arise, go to the office, small-talk his colleagues, eat lunch, spreadsheet his computer, subway home, watch TV, TV dinner, paper-read, and sleep. Sleep. Sleep! Was it a solace or a curse? I guess, thought Jim, it depends on one’s dreams. Good dreams are a blessing. They show you the way to solution, the rainbow over the hill, that hapilly-ever-after sensation that only unwaking thoughts can deliver. He craved those kinds of dreams the way a school-kid longs for summers at the beach, those endless humid afternoons of sea-green waves and boardwalk games. An escape from reality. Maybe Thoreau had it right, he thought. If I advance confidently in the direction of my dreams, and endeavor to live the life which I’ve imagined, I’ll meet with a success unexpected in common hours. Hugo — Jon Sarkin jonsarkin.com
Jim is a man, who chooses his word carefully. Strike that. He choose his *thoughts * carefully, and I suppose that the words which ensue come out with the same care as do his thoughts’ composition. But the thoughts are worthless, so the words, in the words of T.S. Eliot, are “meaningless as wind in dry grass or rats’ feet over broken glass in our dry cellar.” What in the hell was he talking about? I mean, everybody, including me, makes such a big deal about Eliot, but I think there might be some “emperor’s new clothes” mojo going on.. You evere read “The Wasteland?” All these allusions to myths, foreign language thrown in. OK, we get it – you’re well-educated. I guess i’m just kidding. He *is *a big deal. Anyway, back to Jim. Thinking about Jim reminds me of Gogol. I don’t feel like explaining why, but I’ll try. The little I’ve read of him smacks of a kind of meta-fiction, where he psychoanalyzes the character. I’m doing that now with Jim, or is he doing it with me. Am I doing it with myself, obsessively turning over and over the same rock of my mind? I guess I am. But I’m being self-effacing. My thoughts are *not *worthless. Or maybe they are. It depends on your perspective. There are plenty of folks who think they’re nonsense, and their opinions haunt me constantly. I know I’d be better off not caring what they think, but I do, and this cloying possibility that they might be right – that my life is a waste, makes me chocked with anxiety and uncertainty and fear. This is ugly stuff. Untidy, stuffed with bad craziness and unhealthy rumination. I am compelled to explore this. But back to Jim. He was in the kitchen. It was a sunny day, and the sunlight was shining through the window over the sink and leaving squares of brightness on the linoleum. He was sitting at the table staring at the floor. A cloud obscured the sun and the color of the squares dimmed. Outside a bird chirped. It was spring, and he wondered if it was migratory.
I awoke as a large bug. I know what you’re thinking. That I stole this idea from Kafka. Not true. OK, it’s partly true. OK, OK, it’s totally true. But I didn’t really awake as a large bug, so I’m nos stealing nothing from nobody no-how. I awoke as I usually do, befuddled and needing to pee. Peeing relieves my bladder but never my befuddledness. I fool myself into thinking a strong cup of coffee will do that, and although it does turn down the volume of my addled brain’s transmissions slightly, it doesn’t do much, truth be told, to de-web the intricacies and complexities of my cobwebbed mind. This mental untidiness dogs at my heels all day, and the stuff I do to tidy it up is like arranging deck chairs on a magic, swirling ship.
Jim is well aware that in the morning he’ll have to wake again to the grinding gears of his life, that empty, desultory feeling that leaves him in a state of imbalance and incoherence. For him sleep is a futile halftime. Morning never fails to amaze him with its charm or lack thereof. His feet feel like welded trivets as he slogs his path to the bathroom. They meet the cold tile like unwanted guests at a housewarming nobody wanted on a street where they never wanted to live. There is a painting of a boat in the bathroom. It was left there by the previous owner. Jim hates it but never took it down. He’ll tell you why if you ask him but my advice is not to. And if you do you can always say I warned you no to. So don’t, OK?When Jim wakes up his hands are numb and tingly. This has been an ongoing problem lately and concerns him but not enough to consult a doctor. He hears the kids next door laughing as they play on their backyard swing set, their hair glinting in the morning sun, their laughter sounding like it’s directed at him as if they’re sharing some private derisive joke.
Once, when he was a child, his father took him and his brother sailing. His father fell asleep while they were at the helm. * *
They sailed with the wind, which was blowing stiffly offshore. When he woke up they were far from land. He still remembers the look on his face. Jim still feels the way he felt when his father looked at him, like someone had trampled on his soul. J **
im is inflammatory, especially to himself. This often masquerades as seething toxicity. Just about everybody loathes him for this reason, much as one might despise a computer virus or someone that’s always trying to take advantage of you, but if Jim thinks of others just as corrupt errand boys or unwanted worms, then he’s OK with both feeling uncomfortable and making others the same. H **
is whole life feels like a crime in progress, you know? * *
It has a lot to do with his crumbling tendency desire for looking at the unholy side of things, for turning and turning over reality until he sees its soft maggoty underbelly – its TRUTH as it were. At least he tells himself it’s the truth. He has a private chuckle at this. At these times he is badly taken aback by the realization of just how dangerous this quest can be. *
I was in a fish restaurant minding my own business….well, as well as I can these days, which isn’t really that good, and this morbidly obese couple sat in the booth next to me with that sheepish look that fat people always seem to have when they eat in public. But why should they feel guilty? Fat people get hungry too. OK, they might have an eating disorder, but they should be able to eat and be proud of it. But I’m always nosy about what they order; very judgmental when they get a huge platter of fried fish as opposed to a salad or something. A guy I had lunch with, a tremendous guy, ordered two double cheeseburgers with bacon and a diet coke. This is a true story. He had never been to this place before. When the waitress came over to ask how everything was, he said, “Perfect combination of fatty meat and grease. I am definitely coming back here.” I kid you not. Whenever I see fat people in a restaurant I think of this guy. About a year later, he committed suicide. Went to a wooded park near where we live and hung himself. A hiker found Mike the next day. No more cheeseburgers for him.
Jim is thinking about when he was a teenager, when his friends went to see the Stones at Madison Square Garden and he wasn’t invited and he was so jealous but in retrospect, yes, after all these years, after all this water has flowed under the bridge, yes, he realizes that Tony and Tom and Jocko were just being teenagers and it was nothing personal, that they didn’t even realize he’d take it personally, but then again they must’ve, the way that Monday they talked about how awesome it was right in front of him and when they saw how jealous he was, they talked about it even more. Jim thinks about this a lot, probably too much, and his thoughts are irrationally obsessive, that’s not to say obsessively irrational. But then again, maybe it is. There’s quite a close relationship between obsession and irrationality when you think about it. When Jim was in college, he wrote a paper on this relationship. He got a failing grade. The professor, Dr. Hobbes, was this miserable bastard with absolutely no sense of humor. Regardless, the paper sucked. Even if the professor was like the coolest guy on the planet he’s probably flunk old Jim. But the way Hobbes ridiculed Jim by writing all these really sarcastic comments on the paper pissed Jim off. The guy didn’t need to be such a turd. OK, the guy hated the paper, but he could’ve been more diplomatic. A few years ago, Jim was at the bank and he ran into Hobbes. “How are you?” Jim, Hobbes asked it that smarmy voice. *”Do I fucking know you?!” *screamed Jim.
” Should I place the flowers that I put in the bottle near the window so they get some light?” Jim thought. The door opened.
“Is the the cottage cheese still OK?” she said.
The leaves in the night whispered something Jim thought he understood. Some kind of animal rustled in the flower bed. Jim thought about the familiar sun shining on the other side of the planet, the words someone was speaking there.
He looked at the flowers. “Their existence is – -” he thought.
His thoughts were cut by his thought about the sun. He looked at the kitchen table. His books were piled before him, hardly any space. The titles, *Time’s Remnants*, *Qualities for Me to Use*, *I Had a Moment of Clarity*, and the one he hadn’t read, *In the Heart of Things*, the one Steve had recommended, said it was a memoir by a guy who was the caretaker for Red Grooms for many years….he was gone now, they all were, the Red Grooms crowd. They all had their moment, but for them time had stopped forever, their days in the sun had come and gone, come and gone like a dream at sunset, unwatered by faith, not knowing how much they, the Red Groomses, beckoned to us now….
….now in our hopes and unpruned creations, our music, our joy at this suffering lonely world.