PC Ch6.

Everything is Frozen.
     So what are you going to do?  Sue me?  I left the light on over the stove, after I made coffee at 4 this morning.  I don’t know what to do.
     It was Thanksgiving.  The weather had finally turned cold.  To the north it was probably snowing.  We had Chinese yesterday.  Like we’re Jewish.  But that’s Christmas.  And I had pork.  Even less Jewish.
     Leila was in Waterloo.  Too bad she couldn’t come over.  It would be a long drive.  8 or 10 hours.  A long way to go to break bread.  I like to spend Thanksgiving with people that are new and nearby and close in many ways.  Those are my favorites.  It’s not about the food.  Like being a graphic designer.  It’s not about the software.  Like winning the Tour de France.  It’s not about the bike.
     Leila told me her munchkins are always hungry.  She spent her day off from the cannery spinning yarn and making food for the little ones.  The garden didn’t get planted this year, but she’s getting ready now, buying seeds from the coop in town and from the reticulated network all over the world.  How things change.  I just sit here and sip my coffee.  Wonder.  Nothing to do.  No idea.  I don’t want to go anywhere.  Maybe I’ll skip Potomac and the elephant and the humorless law student from Atlanta.  My friend Jahear won a silver medal in the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996.  Gymnastics.  He is a wiry fellow.  Must be quite strong.  Very nice fellow. 
     I don’t have any responsibilities.  Hardly.  No one to feed, no animals to take care off, no cats to look at the spherical orbs.
     What is Leila fixing for her little ones?  I don’t know what kids eat today.  Blue goo and rainbows too.  Lucky charms and spacemen two.  A balanced diet for one and all.  Seals of approval and all that experimental aural repositories of judiciousness.  A oneness for the masses.  Spiritual upheaval and uplifting from a Ziploc sandwich bag.  Oh the things you will carry.  In your Ziploc sandwich bag.  Chicken and turkey.  Ham perhaps a curry.  French fries and potato wedges.  Cucumbers and lemon hedges.  Freedom no just curly fries.  Oh the things you will carry.  In your Ziploc sandwich bag.
     The sky was still dark.  The moon was round and white.  Glowing bright.  In the night.
     Nothing to do but upchuck online again.  Next time, I’ll try to get some facts into the story.  Too many discrepancies.  Next time, I’ll keep it to myself and let you pry it out of me.  I’ll stash it in a Ziploc sandwich bag, and you’ll never get the best of me.
     Opus 126.  The ninth was 125.  That must have been a lot of work.  126 is a thing of beauty.  Probably done out of relaxation.  A direct connection to the soul.  To the exhaustion, the despair and joy.  The ode to his inner demons and angels.  Laughing in a minor key.  Is that a possibility?
     The pelican could eat his own dirt.  A girlfriend made me eat miso soup every Sunday.  I hate miso soup.  How could she make you eat it?  Or make you read that book you despise so much.  I guess you didn’t like her.  Or the book. 
     It’s nice to walk with too many clothes on.  Then every day feels like a hot summer day.  Any day, any time of year, any temperature.  It is good to sweat and get moving.  Even in the depths of winter.  When there is no sound and everything is frozen.

Lana was in the car and so happy.
     I didn’t know what to do.  I couldn’t sleep.  I walked around in circles around my little flat, my padded REI socked feet padding along the cushiony brown rectangular-swirled-patterned carpet.  I smoked a K and drank some coffee and some green tea.  Is this really happening to me?  I had never experienced anything like this before.
     This place is just a subplot.  A subprime delusion.  A weigh-station, a decompression chamber leading to the final destination.  Should that comfort me?  Won’t love come to die to me?  Is that really what I want?  How could I rewrite the plot?  Stop doing what I think I want?  What creates a desire?
     My mind was like scrambled eggs.  Ten dead dogs on the side of the road.  I lay on my futon, green and white squares, and listened to pretty sounds.  Waves and waves of warm hot tears pulsating out of the corners of my eyes, slowly flowing and watering my neck and REI green hooded fleece jacket.  I was surprised. 
     I got home from Thanksgiving in Potomac.  I stepped on the humorless law student’s bare foot, black-nyloned and small, my REI padded sock covered her as she made a surprise move, suddenly moving in the opposite direction of traffic.  “You are going in reverse.”
     “But just a little bit.”  Maybe there was a sense of humor.
     My friendly guide had disappeared shortly after dinner.  Maybe away from the bustling, silly chitchat those women fill the time with.  It can’t be all abstruse ideas and grand palaver, solving wars and hunger. 
     I was surprised at how Lana’s death affected me.  I don’t think I realized how close we were.  It was like there was a clear channel, always open between us.  She was always so happy to be with me, there was nowhere else she wanted to go or anyone else she could think of.  She never looked for someone better or more interesting when I was with her.  Like we were the only two people in the world.  She was like a little puppy, just so happy to greet you.
     I was exhausted.  Emotions and tears draining all my energy.  I couldn’t remember the last time I saw her.  I think last summer we were chatting over the network.  My usual nonsense. 
     I could have sworn it was this year, but it was last.  I think emailed. She was so funny.  I said, something like, "Hey, remember me?"  She's all, "Of course, Shampypampy." My friends in Austin - Brad and Zulema and Joann - started that nickname. Along with shitshoes, because in 1993 after the naked party in East Austin I stepped into the backseat of their car and I had some dog poop on my shoes and the whole car smelled. They make fun of that all the time. I have not seen them in a long time.
     I remember seeing Lana in the parking lot of the video store in Austin.  Maybe that’s when I met her.  I was with my friend Quade, one of housemates from the real world.  Lana was in the car and so happy, "This is Bella!" her baby.
     I said "Hi Bella! My friend Quim has a dog named Bella! It's nice to meet you!”
     Quade said, "Shampypampy!  You should not compare Lana’s baby to your friend’s dog!  How rude!"
     Lana said "Awwww!  No, it's not rude!  That's so sweet!"

That’s Life.
     It was the depths of insanity. 
     I had no one to talk to.  Everyone kicked me out.  I didn’t know why.  I asked why.  Some would start to cry.  I thought that odd.  And I’m supposed to be the odd one out, the bill-a-bong, life-is-good, four twenty in the a.m., and I’m the odd one out.  I’m just the jeep driving, t-shirt wearing, teva-sporting, haircut-not happening slacker in a juice bar.
     So I went to Mundi.  Where else could I have a glass of wine before noon?  I ordered some food from the Luke, the genius behind the woodwork.  Salano, the deep-toned tall Arabic woman from Milwaukee, made fun of my request.  Reading it.  Half roasted pepper sandwich.  Greens, house dressing on the side.  Cup of soup of the day.  Glass of red wine.  “You order like a sorority girl!”  Giggling.  Always with the giggling.  I almost rolled my eyes.  At least I didn’t cry.
     “It’s a good order.”  St. Luke to the rescue.
     I sat down in a little chair they use for third graders and a round mosaic-tiled table.  I watch the white light dream in as the door opened and closed for the stream of customers and morning revelers, waiting and listening for Luke’s next selection on the music box.
     Bau-bau walked in.  “Sir Shampypampy.”  I hated that sobriquet so.  But from Bau-bau it was like music to my ears.
     “May I?”  Bau-bau asked, motioning to the empty chair in front of me.
     “But of course.”  I felt honored.
     Aline, the Guatemalan lovely I met last night at an art opening, had to get something out of her truck.  Make a phone call.  Bau-bau and I had a few moments.  I felt honored.
     He placed his satchel on the table.  He took out a clear plastic CD box with a CD in it.  Sharpie swirls on it.
     He placed it before me.  Handed it to me.
     “This is for you.”  I looked at it.  I was touched. 
      “It has the song on it you like so much.”
     I was a rich man.  I was broken.  I keep going, even though I might fall down.
     That’s life.


     So Weeny got a new phone, her first ever.  So I ask to play with it.  I look at it.  Accidentally call a few people, and quickly hang up.  It has touch screen.  I click on the facebook icon.  I want to read your message and try writing back.  I sign in.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Won't log in.  So I say, “Here.  Can you stop the browser?  It's not finding the signal.  It's slow."

     I hand her the phone.  She says ok.

     Then, she finds all my contacts from facebook with phone numbers have been downloaded and stored on her phone.  Boy, is she steamed!  Calls me all kinds of names. "I don't need this detritus on my phone!  Idiot!"


      “What did I do?”  I asked innocently.  I tried to stop it.


     I started laughing. What a techno-retard. "Just delete them."


     "Here.  Let me see."  I look.  Accidentally call someone in India. Boy, will she be steamed if she gets a charge for that.  Ajay.  In Austin, he was in my band the Chain Link Panchos. I thought that a cool-as-funk name.

     So, I don't know how to delete it.  I hand her back the phone.  She said it was a 600 dollar phone she got for free on Black Friday.  So it's a free phone.  Retail ignoramus.  No one would pay 600 dollars for a phone that is free.  It’s not a 600 dollar phone.  It’s a free phone.  Duh.


     I was so sleepy.  "You'll figure it out."  I get up from the table.  I contain my laughter from bursting out.  "It's not the end of the world.  If you don't, then you won't."

     I leave the kitchen and lie down on the futon in my studio, listen to Brian Eno's discreet music on vinyl.  Bliss.

     Weeny's upstairs, yelling at papa. "HE DID IT ON PURPOSE!!!!  IT'S MY PHONE!!!  YOU DON'T DO THAT!!!!  I'M LEAVING!!!  THAT'S WHY I NEVER COME OVER HERE!!!!"

     Geez.  All I did was try to log into my facebook account.

     If I had sent this to you in 1995, I'd be some sort of science fiction visionary.  So last century.  How things have changed since I last saw you.  I guess that was in Birmingham....since then I've wondered what you were thinking.  How you were feeling.  Hoped that you were happy.  Hoped you did not regret anything.

Stumpy was tough.
     I’ve been patient, just waiting for a sign.  I still see nothing.  The orange juice was nearly finished.  There were 6 more containers in the refrigerator in the basement.  Cold and refreshing, waiting to serve out their destined path down the spout, into my glass and through my pipes, cooling and cleaning all the hibernating guests, still slumbering from the night before.  Their last chance to stay alive.
     Wake up.
     The coffee was the color of my eyes.  Eye-colored coffee and the green background of the night’s wash.  The eagles were heading south on the channel, a spawning school lying in wait.  Stumpy, an eagle who hung around my porch, sometimes asking for scraps, was on the hunt.  The intense concentration and determination to succeed was in his eyes and his taut beak, his one claw ready to grab in the only second he’d have available as he swooped down to the surface of the water.
     Stumpy was tough.  But he knew that he needed help.  I usually put out some fish when I was home and his family was fishing in the water in front of my house.  They were only there during certain flows of the tide, during certain spawning sessions and other random fish wanderings.  It was fertile hunting ground.  Several schools came there to spawn within a few weeks of others.  The detritus after the mass movements brought other fish there, and the eagles were all over.
     He didn’t seem embarrassed by his lack of a claw.  He was able to balance upright, gingerly, flapping his wings every so often to readjust.  He never fell over.
     Stumpy was fast, and getting faster.  He was ahead of the others, circling around a bit higher to get a better view and to track and estimate where his next target would be after the 1.5 seconds it took him to drop down like a bullet and make a parabolic curve that would put him at the same spot as the fish.
     I took a sip of coffee and ate some orange, a piece of bread and dried, salted fish.
     Stumpy made his move and nailed it.  Fish writhing in a death grip, Stumpy made some hard flaps and shot up in a graceful ascent and then coasted down the thermals, heading right towards me and my coffee.
     He flapped and cleared the rails and landed on the deck a few feet away from me.  Flapping quickly, he let go of the fish and hopped onto the deck next to the fish.  He kept his balance and begun pecking away at the fish.  I got a knife and cut off the head, tossed it over the rails, into the bushes and stepped back.  Stumpy looked at me with a  stern, tough-guy look on his face, a guy’s guy expression of gratitude and understanding.
     I raised my cup of eye-colored coffee, tossed down the bread and dried fish and orange, saying, “Don’t mention it, dude.”
     I went inside, filled my cup and peeled another orange.  The bread tasted good with a little butter and garlic.  When I went back to the porch, a piece of lively, orange fish was a few feet away from Stumpy and his prey.  I laughed, picked up the piece of fish, wrapped it up in wax paper and put it in the refrigerator.

Five Seconds to Zero.
     It was Halloween.  I wasn’t dressed in a costume.  I was sporting the blue and yellow fleece hat that Smally and her boyfriend Hippo made for me last Christmas.
     I spotted him.  He was standing and chatting with Schwartz, the birthday boy and soon to be failed-yet-again political candidate.  He was wearing a baseball cap.  Hands shoved casually in his corduroy pants pockets.  The legend of Ivy City had made an appearance.
     The Pelican had emerged.
     I went to stand with them, forming an imposing troika.  It was difficult to find an opening, as the conversation was heading fast and furiously towards a destination I could not imagine.  So engrossed, neither could spare the mental energy to break out of the flow and say hello. 
     I understood.
     Finally, the seizure subsided, words that previously collided merely passed closely and Scwartz took his leave, reentered the restaurant and the party.
     “So.”  I was a bit shaky.  A celebrity in my midst.  “You’re the infamous Pelican.”
     People all over the city had heard of the Pelican and his deeds.  Like the Joker.  The Penguin.  But this one was for the good of all.  Or so he said.  Or at least people said he said that.  One never knows sometimes.
     I was so nervous.  I don’t remember what he said.  The conversation took on a life of its own.  He mentioned India.  New Delhi.  The Asoka Hotel.  I asked if it was during his days with the Shuttle Program.
     “No, I left that business in 1972.  I was consulting with an international development agency.  You’ve heard of you ess ay eye dee?”  He spelled out the letters for the governmental organization, USAID.
     “Of course.”
     “A cluster fuck if you ever had the pleasure.  Solipsistic mother-fuckers.” 
     I tried to hide my discomfort.  Having grown up on a Mennonite community, such language frightened me.  I always attemped to inject some cursing into my conversation, to gain social acceptance.  I was taught this technique in decompression training camp.  I gave it a shot.  “Frack those duckweeds.”  I think I messed it up.
     But I think it worked.  He launched into a tirade that went around the world, from raising fish in the middle of the city to microfinance to London to pick up a two point five million dollar check from Morgan Stanley to the housing crash to five seconds to zero.  He gave me a card.  Microventuresupport.  No capital letters.  I wanted a card.  I could give it to girls and say I worked with one of the founders of the Shuttle Program. 
     He liked me.  I could tell.  Maybe he was a homo.  Not that there was anything wrong with it, if you’re into that.  It was icky to me.  I couldn’t even imagine.  Although now I was.  He’s fat and seventy.  That would never happen.  Not even for one million dollars. 
Lily Offered Me a Chair.
     Around 11, I decided to leave.  I said goodbye to the birthday boy and some of the people I had met that night.  Used the bathroom for one last emptying session.  One never knows when the next opportunity would present itself.  I liked to be prepared for a long haul.  I had only a coke, so it shouldn’t be a problem.
     I started heading towards my car, walking slowly, enjoying the cool evening air.  I headed down the hill, down Park Road, strolling and listening to sounds through my headphones.  Always.  Always.  A sublime motoring beat.  Empty shells holding on tight.  Until the dead sky.
     I turned right where I thought my car was.  I walked around for blocks and blocks.  The maroon 1987 Camry was parked on what I thought was a dead-end, just down the hill from some sort of fancy private school.  All the lights in the houses were off.  It was quiet.  No sounds breaking through the night's calm.  I wandered around and around.  Thought over and over of where I parked, then ran up the hill to Don Juan’s as fast as I could because I had to pee so bad.  It was Halloween and there were kids all over, walking around, collecting candy.  Had I attempted a public urination, I would have been apprehended immediately and charged with some sort of pandering, exposing oneself in public, child molestation - the entire penal code would be thrown at me.  I decided to risk system failure and had run up the hill as fast as possible.
     That stay-out-of-jail tactic had been prudent, but did not allow me to take note of the proper visual cues that would allow me to find my way back to my car.  All I knew, it was a street that began with a "B" and was just off Park Road. That much I was certain of.
     Up ahead, I saw a signal fire.  Three people were sitting around a fire in a smoky joe.  I thought about stopping and asking for help.  It was late.  11:40pm.  I walked past.  I thought about calling the police.  I was tired of walking.
     I turned around, slowed down and stopped in front of Lilly, David and Lynette.  Quiet ensued.  "I'm Lost."  I declared.
     I was nervous.  They might think I'm a crazy-eyed killer.  I saw them reaching for their revolvers.  I thought fast.
     "I just met the Pelican!  He co-founded the Shuttle Program!"  I whipped out the Pelican’s card.
     It worked.

     "The Pelican was in the Shuttle Program?!"


     "Where'd you meet him?!"

     "Don Juan's."

     "The Pelican was playing at Don Juan's.?!"


     "He was just here playing at our party the other night!  With Joe Seigel and that other guy!  That's amazing!"

     I was relieved.  I was in.  I relaxed.  Lilly offered me a chair.

A Stretching Out Towards Light and Peace and Happiness.  (Forbidden Line Ratios.)

     I couldn’t believe it.  I was in Venue without you.  You promised.  I didn’t want to be here.  I wanted to be anywhere else.  My thoughts were disjointed.  Unpunctuated and unpronounced.  What was happening to my brain?  It was turning to mush.  I was watching too much local news on t.v.  I never watch tv.  After you left me, I’ve been reduced to watching t.v.  Do you see what you’ve done to me?

     I shouldn’t complain.  You have to do what you want to do.  And if that is not me, that is fine too.  What was I thinking?  People around me were concerned as I upchucked my thoughts.

third line - samba.  i don't remember anything.  i don't know what i'm talking about.  a hip king with a joan-cape town flower.  tap tap.  i'm listening to 100,000 thoughts.  what would it be?  what would they be?  how do i access them?  and turn them off?  i just don't know.   i guess it's all just random access.  it's easier this way.  the energy we save.  you slipped into my dreams, and now i really can't remember anything.

     I was put under observation.  People watched me.  It wasn’t so bad.  They brought me oranges when I was thirsty.  I think that’s what cured me.

     I had a lot of questions for you.  That I wanted to ask you.  I didn’t know how to contact you.  I walked around.


     What does a flower say when it flows through the doors?  I'm happy that I'm naked and blue?  I'm dancing in the rain?  I'm sad and pleading in the sun?  I've got a lot of things to do?  I have to give away my inner soul so that many others can live?  I must regret my existence because it marks my end, I am a purple blue yellow round long narrow wide bursting soft thing that is fraught with meaning.  Red is the end, the smack down the cards and go for the gold and bare the soul.  White is the purity and the reflection and the beginning of a new experience.

     I was new to town.  I met the people that would soon fill the days, complicate the mornings and share secrets at other times.  Like 3:20, which at the same time in California would signify something, a number, a reference to a time, like, "Hey, remember that time we went fishing and caught fish?"  A pleasant time.  I gave a girl a flower, an orange Douglas special, a blossom of sound repute.  Why would a person feel another person crazy for moving small things that are all over the earth?  I gave her perfection in her self, confirmed her fears.

     Sometimes you just know.  It only takes an instant.  Like 4 minutes with a stranger on a couch on a hot September day and then a bottle of champagne.  Like a strange jacket, unseen in that particular light, and two words and a face that reflected a storied image, and then a query, "Are you Jen?"  Or the back seat of a car in New York City.

     What would you weave with your grandmother if you could pool information about experiences?  Could you see a bunch of flowers shining with their own inner light and all but quivering under the pressure of the significance with which they were charged; could you perceive that what rose and iris and carnation so intensely signified was nothing more, and nothing less, than what they were - a transience that was yet eternal life, a perpetual perishing that was at the same time pure Being, a bundle of minute, unique particulars in which, by some unspeakable and yet self-evident paradox, was to be seen the divine source of all existence.  [1]

     But I am too shy to come out and say it, so I cushioned it, and the swells of the Gastineau Channel find calmness in Stephens Passage and wind does a thing that cannot be imagined were it not there.  Imagine, an invisible cycle that moves things effortlessly, that warms and calms things, that keeps things fresh, a sifter of the scents.

     All things are products of attraction, a stretching out towards light and peace and happiness.  Some quality in the Fe XVII caused the photons to disperse, the chemistry was no longer there.  The photons were attracted to another element, and found their way there.  [2]

1   Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception
2  A.K. Bhatia, The Optically Thick Fe XVII Spectrum:  X-Ray, Extreme-Ultraviolet, and Forbidden Line Ratios.

A Different Light.

     It was snowing the morning I was released.  I couldn’t tell you how many days had gone by.  The 6 hours of sunlight I missed sometimes.  The t.v. news so engrossing, so all encompassing my every want and need.  It pained me to leave the fields of photons produced by the lovely black plastic liquid crystal display.  The residents occasionally clamored for a light emitting diode variety, knowing that our announcer’s beautiful hair and lovely suits would look so much more like they were in the ward with us, enjoying the pudding cups and the chicken fingers, the magazines and 1000 piece puzzles of exploding gardens of flowers.  Such a world existed, I never knew before I started doing puzzles.

     The first thing I did that morning was buy a t.v. and a puzzle.  I set up the television on a Scandinavian pressed-wood contraption that served as a shelf.  It had a few catalogs for boots and outdoor gear, a few news magazines from last year and a copy of the New Yorker.  I prided myself on being able to figure out the meanings of the captions.  The articles were too long to read.  After spending the entire day at the computer, reading, the last thing I wanted to do was more reading.

     I remember when I first heard about the big snowstorm.  There must have been at least 16 inches in a few short hours.  A record amount for 4 hours.  It started on a Friday and I couldn’t wait to get to the ski area.   I would have to wait for the road crews to make the rounds, but I reckoned I could be at the chair lift just past 9 on Saturday morning, just after the alpenglow set on fire the top of the bowl of mountains that surrounded the chair lifts.

     The predictions were perfect.  A powder so fine you could barely see it.  It would be like flowing down the mountain on small oiled crystals, friction gone and just a tube to zip through, curving and snaking its way to the bottom.

     I waxed my purple skis in anticipation.  There were interviews with people in downtown Venue, talking about how they were buying lots of toilet paper, bread and milk, in anticipation of being stuck at the homes for the entire weekend.  I wasn’t sure of the significance of that troika.  There were quick shots of the local Fred Meyers, with rows and rows of empty shelves of where bread used to be.  I started to panic.
     My Subaru was gassed up, so the full tank would help with the weight distribution and take care of most stability and fish-tailing issues.  I added a few 50 pound bags of salt and sand, plus a few twenty pound bags of jasmine rice and brown basmati rice, and Canadian chapatti flour.  I figured that should hold it.  I couldn’t believe I was about to leave in the worst part of the storm.  But I didn’t want to be caught unprepared.

     But then I began to consider the situation.  Outside in the falling snow, the western skies redder than my cherry tomatoes, I figured I could make bread out of the flour.  I usually made some flat bread or fry bread, I guess, as the local natives called it.  So I didn’t need the bread.  I just got four 24-packs of toilet paper.  And I could do without the milk, although it made coffee and black tea worth all the extra pee it created. 
     Free from the draw of the light emitting diodes and their concomitant burbles and scraping upon my reasoning, I began to see things in a different light.

I had to Eat.
     It was time to wake up.  Fuck all that shit.  Gay-ass dorky mother fucking lame-ass shit.  Bitch face fuck head.  Get me out!  No more flowers or fancy toast and saucers and milk-pot creamer dainty assed tea service silver service.  You and your little boyfriend.  Fuck you and fuck him too!
     I couldn’t take it anymore.  I was pissed.  The nerve.  Geez.  Not even a phone call.  A letter.  Nothing.  Flighty little vixen.  Solipsistic squiffy mother sister.  I really hate your ass right now.  Ain’t that the shit.  Leaving me for an ex-con, good-looking lots of money.  Oh yeah, I understood.  No need ‘splaining to me.  I ain’t naïve.  It’s all about you.
     But what’s the point, really?  I’ve never broken up with anyone.  Never had the conversation.  Never even sure I was dating them.  Oh well.  Sweet little tarts, ashamed of their own burning sensations, the surrender to the flesh for a steamy sweat bath.  After a few days, Do you just come over here for sex?  Uh, uh, cornered, just say no, just say no.
     “No, baby, I think you’re swell!”  That didn’t come out right.  She’s not going to buy it.
     “Well, you know, I need to be alone.  Could you please leave?” 
     Dang.  I’ll be backed up.  Who to call.  I could head down to the hippy exchange.  Find some silly little munchkin to drive around with.  I had to bring porpy, of course.  I hated to share.  But I guess it would be a good exchange.  But it was almost like paying for it.  But when you run the numbers, it comes to only about two seventy five, even when the power buds are really kind.  Step up to Afghani and you’re closing in on three and a quarter.  A sensibly-priced shag. 
     I had to put on my interested demeanor.  “Oh baby, I understand, it’s ok.  I know you got a lot of school work and need to focus.”  Grad program in art.  Give me a break.  “I’ll call you tomorrow.”  She stuck out her puckered face like a duck, waiting for a peck.  I obliged.  Yuck.  She better not use the L-word or I’m ditching her by email in 15 minutes as soon as I get on my bike.
     Fuck you.
     At least I didn’t spend seven bucks for the bottle of cheap Montana Red that she liked to guzzle.  Like grape flavored vinegar.  Double yuck.
     Most times, I just don’t call them back.  What, I’m going to call them and say, I don’t want to talk to you anymore, and explain why I don’t want to talk to them anymore?  I’d be doing the thing I didn’t want to do.  So I just stopped talking to them.  I did it, instead of telling them I’m going to do it.  There’s no negotiation.  It’s never subject to debate.  Only the suffering can be prolonged by having the break-up talk, by reconsidering, all that neo-soul.  Funk that.  I had no patience.
     Oh well.  I had to do something.  Or someone.  Where to go?  In this town.  The glory hole.  If you’re really desperate.  The homeless shelter.  The older woman would tease me at the Perimeter, “So, I bet you go down to the Glory Hole to pick up some tail?  Easy pickings?”  And they would wink.  Like I would ever, you desiccated old hag.  But I smiled and they bought me beer and who knows?  Sometimes I didn’t feel like driving home and they offered some hot soup and crackers.  I had to eat.  So I guess they were getting the best in town for 46 cents of soup and 5 cents of crackers.  I could be bought for 51 cents.  What had become of me?  But some of these old ladies, well, they weren’t old ladies, made some really great soup. 
     I had to eat.

Another Pecan Sandiest.
     So it looked like I wasn’t going anywhere Saturday morning.  The snow was falling so hard I could barely see the brown of my Subaru from the kitchen window of my cabin.  The sun was still low and the orange-red alpenglow was creeping lower and lower down the white sheer sides of the Killcat Mountains to the West, in the center of the island. 
     I grinded some coffee beans and brewed 2 cups of coffee.  I was out of the heavy cream so I had to use the soymilk that Larissa, who had visited from the Outside the previous weekend, liked so much.  She had stopped eating all animal products.  That was hard to do – the food system used animals everywhere.  I remember eating cookies when I was small.  Pecan Sandiest, or something rather regal and not childlike enough for me.  Mama used to have a conniption.
     “There's BEEF FAT in the cookies!  STOP!”  She said as I was about to munch a second cookie.  I was only eight or so.  I didn’t understand what the entire ruckus was.
     Papa tried to be sensible about it.  “IM-POSSible,” he declared.  He munched another cookie and drank some whole milk.  That was before we made the switch to 2 percent after the cholesterol warnings permeated the airwaves, shortly before the first perimeter was established, nearly 35 years ago. 
     Mama handed him the package.  She pointed to the printed part on the side of the package.  “THERE.  See what it says?  You don’t believe me?”
     Papa adjusted his spectacles and began reading.  “What IS all this stuff?  This does not sound like food.  It sounds like something in a materials science experiment.  Developing a new polymer for a space vehicle to absorb high amounts of heat and muons from cosmic rays where there is no atmospheric protection-“
     “Ananda!  Please pay attention to the task at hand!”
     “Which is the cookies and…..”
     “Beef fat!  Beef FAT!  BeeffatbeeffatBEEFFAT!”
     “Oh yes.  I am sorry.  I just got to thinking.”  He resumed scanning the list of ingredients.  My quest to have a second cookie in limbo, a hiatus imposed from above.  I thought about sneaking a couple of chomps.  But the ramifications would be too much.  Somehow sneak it.  The vigilance level was incomparable.  I decided, astutely, against it.  The cookie waited on my white Corelle plate with an edge of green circles representing flowers to the common man and I sipped some whole milk from my plastic Marine Boy cup.
     “Acha.  Here it is.  That is surprising.  What is the need for beef fat in a cookie?”  Papa wondered.
     “It is because they hate Hindus!  We must declare war!  They know of our relationship to the cow.”
     “Come now.  It is not about us.  They know nothing about us.  We are new to this country.  We must try to get along and fit in.  As minorities, our behavior must not only be beyond reproach, but we must be seen as a role model.  We must not only eat the tallow, but relish it.  It will not kill us.  Please.  Have a cookie.”
     Finally.  I could eat my cookie.  I remember the crunch and the sweetness of the pecan sandiest.  I didn’t know what beef tallow was back then but whatever it was, it made the cookies almost magical.  I made a motion to reach for a third and waited for Papa’s approval.  He picked up the package and held it out towards me. 
     “I will NOT eat this.”  Mama declared, slamming down her milk glass and trudging off to the bathroom, saying something under her breath angrily in Bengali as she loudly slammed the door shut.
     “Let us enjoy,” Papa said.  He poured a bit more milk and placed another Pecan Sandie on my little white Corelle plate.

There you go.
     I went outside with my coffee.  It was quiet.  A whoosh pervaded, the snow landing with a consumer electronics streamlined hum all over, like the cosmic background radiation that was throughout the universe.  It was snowing everywhere.  My little portion of the planet was a paradise.  White and glistening.  Thank the lord I had enough toilet paper, milk and bread, which I had to make from the flour I hoarded.
     I was planning to set the bread machine up after my coffee.  I had a new vegan recipe with sun-dried tomatoes that looked good.  Sun-dried tomatoes.  How last century.
     Something seemed to stop.  It was as if my thoughts had ground to a halt.  Maybe all of those meetings with the Shambalas downtown.  They hated me.  How can Buddhists hate anyone?  Well, I guess they’re like anyone else.  They were learning.  The Sham balas, I called them.  Elaine thought that funny.  She would go to their meetings.  She got scholarships to everything.  That was because she was a Jesuit Volunteer.  Everyone in town gave them stuff, since they were here on a vow of poverty and were helping the community.  Barney, one of the new j.v’s, as everyone called them, testified in front of the City Assembly, asking for free bus passes for the 12 of them.  The Assembly said ok.  Ask and you shall get stuff.  Don’t ask and you won’t get anything. 
     I went to a Shambala meeting one time, it happened to be Elaine’s first.  She was drinking some green tea out of a metal Starbucks tall travel cup.  It was a nice cup.
     We were sitting around in a circle.  Shoes off.  I was a shoeless wonder.  Everyone was taking turns talking about an old text, about the mind.  I made a metaphor about the mind being a house, and how nobody wanted to go down to the basement where it was dark and cold and the water heater may feel neglected.  I implored everyone to hug their water heaters.  By the time I did, the metaphor had faded and people thought I was actually recommending that they go hug their water heaters.  They looked at me like I was crazy.  Was I crazy?  Always that doubt.
     After my monologue, I took a sip of Elaine’s green tea.  She had offered me a sip before the meeting and I had obliged.  It was sweet with honey and satisfying.  This time, with baffled stares following me, Elaine looked horrified as I silently asked her for a sip.  She handed it to me, afraid of the ramifications with the group of an association with me.  She would not look at me with the connection and understanding that she usually did.  I understood her need to be welcomed by the Shambalas.  I did not share her concerns for myself.  I was used to being ostracized.  I no longer allowed it to affect my behavior too much.
     After the meeting, as people dispersed, Elaine and I were putting on our shoes.
     “I thought I would just DIE when you took a sip of my tea.”
     “You didn’t, did you?”
     “Well, there you go.”