Everyone I know is lugging around a personal storm cloud right now, down to the cranky, nervous dog.
By the way, she came home from the vet today with huge patches of fur shaved away to reveal giant scabby lesions. Can't wait to take her for a walk.
Royal family lives on "the fringe" of a very nice neighborhood and we always turn heads with our "exotic" orange chow mix. Very pale people in very shiny athletic gear stop to ask, "Is that beautiful doggie a dingo?" "No sir, she's a mutt. We think she's part chow and part jackal, who knows..." Expensive shoes pick up the pace at this point and a cold smirk says "Plebeians out!" Hey, you asked.
Everyone and everything in Kingdad's hemisphere is literally sick and broken. After eating Cobain-like doses of Ibuprofen and washing it all down with ample amounts of France's cheapest ruby-red best, I don't feel like complaining much, but I will include myself in the lot of the sick and broken in the interest of fairness. My back still throbs, but I'm starting to revel in the intensity. I feel organic, alive. I suppose my love of Wagner operas is not so peculiar after all, I am my own Flying Dutchman.
I am grateful that a real storm came and gave us all a little relief.
The storm is slow to creep over the western horizon. Electric skeletal fingers form a quick blue arc, groping the tops of trees and roofs. Easy to imagine the upturned fields of WWI France, a hellish thunder echoing off every still surface. You can smell the storm an hour before you can feel the pressure and the temperature drop. You can feel it rushing forward in the dark. Unseen and mighty. Then comes the ten-penny nail sized rain. The lightening turns the world into an x-ray. I can see through poor, tired wife's teeth, see beyond royal daughter's drowsy thoughts.
Royal daughter still feels ill, so the storm was more of an annoyance than a treat. She doesn't seem to appreciate anything larger than her royal self.
I can't say that I am disappointed by this.
Finish off the day with Einsturzende Neubauten's "Ein seltener Vogel" and another ruby-red bed-time vision while poor, tired wife and royal daughter embrace shimmering shafts of light and twisting dolphins underneath the cool aquamarine mantles of sleep.
Poor, tired wife and royal daughter sit staring into the glowing mouth of American Idol. I can't help but refer to it as American
Idolatry. To tune out the collapse of culture as I know it, I try to write while listening to the new Blonde Redhead disc, "Misery is a Butterfly" on my headset.
Soon it will be quiet. Sleepy women will wander off to brush teeth and enshroud themselves in peach colored flannel.
Tonight, the world is dark and wet. A chill evening rain drips slowly from spent camellia blossoms. Heavy limbs hang in quietude as the night deepens. Across the neighborhood, lights appear in windows early, someone builds a fire, sending a wisp of sweet smelling smoke racing toward the heavy belly of the sapphire colored sky. A dog paces and barks in the distance.
This morning, royal family woke to gusty winds pulling at the tops of the bud-laden trees. A slate gray pall stretches over our little home. Spring is a moody adolescent, bursting recklessly through the last dirty layers of winter.
What a perfect day to spend reclining with lethargic royal daughter. Royal daughter has taken to the velvet sofa these last few days, curling herself around furry bear and pink blanket. Today I was invited up into the royal litter. While the world toiled away we slept, safely hidden from the ugly needs, shadows and noises outside of our door.
She returned from her progress to the Midwest quite weakened. Never seen her in such a state, tired eyed, no interest in food, very little to say. Frightening to see her gigantic personality bested by an illness.
Nothing has ever worried me so much.
The center of my being has been changed, forever altered from the first time that I looked onto the magnificent face of my daughter, a rootless dreamer, entranced by the presence of the sun. I conjure her company up when I am away from her, when I am trapped, ensnared by miserable interactions and lost in soulless places. She has become my lantern.
I silently share this truth with her as I hold her feverish head against my chest.
As the day wears on I am eventually rewarded by this request-
"Eggs Dada, I want eggs and toast."
In ancient Egypt, priests made extra income interpreting dreams. Dreams were very important to the ancient Egyptians. Their notion of the soul made the boundaries between the sleeping and the conscious worlds very mutable.
I often envision a priest, head freshly shaven, crouched next to me, reed in hand, contemplative, sweaty, stopping me here and there for more detail. The heat is unbelievable, a dreamworld of it's own, slowing everything to the simplest necessity of movement. A hazy, humid world perched on the edge of total stillness, hovering between the scorching legs of noon and the quiet urgings of evening. Above, the planets are aligned unusually close to a low, half-lidded eye of a moon.
My eyes are closed, my mouth is dry. The headrest is stiff and cool against my neck. The priest rocks back and forth on his haunches. The reed moves quickly across the pot-shard. A bead of sweat drips across the painted clay. He mumbles, starts again. My back throbs. I dig into memories of my souls nighttime wanderings. I speak names I do not know. Cower under tall shadows, run endlessly, pointlessly. I am dead, I am old, I am young, I am me, I am someone else. It is always dark. I am always looking for the doorway to the morning. Hugging the hot rock cliff wall, eyes closed. What is the spell.
"...Am I troubled? I am always troubled-"
Far off, royal daughter is sick. Poor, tired wife is exhausted, and I am here, awake. Heart and back buried under a dull thud. I must find the golden doorway, and open it, for my family.
Royal family away for the weekend. Can't really sleep well without them. Most people look forward to a little time alone. It's not the same once you have a family. The vodka tonics and Blixa Bargeld can't fill up those empty places in my home. I find myself tiptoeing around late as if I am going to accidentally wake up royal daughter or poor, tired wife.
I cooked a big breakfast for myself, read the paper outside in the loving arms of the warm March sun.
Wonder what new sights and sounds are thrilling far-off royal daughter. Yesterday she went to the zoo for the first time. Poor, tired wife said she was fascinated by the otters and the dolphins. Mischievous beings prefer each others company afterall.
Have to return to work in a few hours.
Wrenched my back yesterday morning. It hurts to sit, stand, lay flat and even breath. Not only has returning to you-know-where wrecked my heart and home, but now it wants my body. I will take two more Ibu's and try imagine family riding the subway together for the first time.
More to follow I'm sure.
It doesn't take much to make kingdad feel blue. I wallow in despair sometimes, in the amber faux-gaslight of our empty living room, one too many glasses of red wine in hand, the sound of Moussavi's ever-mournful Ney echoing through my headphones.
I am lost in a marsh. The wind is the death-rattle of a whispering ghost, hissing through the dry reeds. The sun overhead taunts me, daring me to escape the maze. And somehow I do. I always do. It may not take much to make me feel melancholic, but then again, it doesn't take much to fill me with joy either.
Tonight it was being with royal daughter and poor, tired wife, feeding them an amazing meal and watching them nest together in the wide red velvet palm of the sofa, that showed me the radiant path out of the haunted marshland.
Tomorrow royal daughter and poor, tired wife begin a royal progress. Off to visit family in the Midwest. Kingdad will stay behind. I know now that their absence will be louder than the loudest krautrock that I will attempt to fill my empty home with.
Rise and Fall, sure-
But somehow, it's still good to be the king.
Most lost and found ads read like this-
Lost: Small black cell phone. Last seen on 03/26/04.
Reward offered for safe return.
I have my own ad to put out there. Here goes-
Lost: Small yet wonderful existence. Last seen the day before I started work.
Family heartbroken. Child just gets bigger and bigger... Can you help?
Reward offered for return to happiness.
Where in the hell have I been?
There was a point not so long ago that I made a vow to never miss a sunset, to pull off the road when I saw something that required marveling at, to dance at high noon with royal daughter, to nap, to cook dinner for poor, tired wife at least 5 nights a week. To be a reverent and loyal fan of all things wonderful in the world...
Just where is that guy?
Welcome to The Rise and Fall of Kingdad.
The day started out with all of the typical spring bells and whistles, an endless pale blue sky, ditch the cardigan warmth, endless congeniality...
This day definitely held promise.
I was up at 5:30, had lots of coffee, read the paper. Had a nice long drive to sitter's house with daughter, really thought there was a cherry on the top of the cake.
It is my Friday afterall. Surely things are about to be in my favor...
Now that it's over, just gotta say, with a few small exceptions, the day really looked and smelled like an ashtray.
Maybe I'll win the lottery tomorrow.
Just purchased tickets to see Einsturtzende Neubauten! That's a big deal when you are exiled in a cultural wasteland like the little Elba I call home.
Thank you www.neubauten.org. Thank you insomnia, thank you second/third glass of lovely ruby red Rhone wine.
Maybe I'll listen to "Der Weg ins Freie" one more time before I make my way to bed.
Each morning I join a rush hour swarm. We move and sit and sit and move and then descend on a vast park and ride lot in the middle of the "planned community" where I work. The "community" looks like a movie set, a fabrication of an idea of what a town should be. There is a market square lined with shops and offices. Ringing the square are a few green-spaces, trails, a church, a school and a movie theater. In the morning on my way to you-know-where, I see moms and dads walking their kids to school. In the evening I see people milling around one of the outdoor cafe' areas that dot the sidewalks. At first I was touched by the life around me, but now I believe the people I see everyday are just paid extras, because at night when I get out of work there is not a soul to be seen. At a certain time they all just seem to disappear from "Our Town."
Nestled behind "Our Town's" Methodist church -which is made out of massive fake stones- is a park and ride lot. A vast field of graying asphalt tattooed with hundreds of painted yellow lines that define parking spaces. Like everything in "Our Town" the park and ride lot has been carefully planned, so it is beautifully landscaped. I cannot determine if this is really to camouflage the lots existence or if it is to give the mass of work-weary drones that use it a last minute burst of serenity before they hustle off to chip rocks at the corporate quarry. In the center of the lot there are always two or three busses waiting to ferry drones away. The busses look like huge dusty beasts, crouched expectantly under the bright azure morning light.
Cars circle, park and empty, masses move rapidly. Things happen quickly here. We all have someplace to be.
One hour later and the extras are all gone. The lot is now full, the big beasts have moved on. Now there are lots of little beasts left to sit idle. A strange herd waiting for the call of an unseen Sheppard. Sunlight winks off of metallic hides, a warm breeze stirs through budding branches, birds hop about under cars, by tires, pecking at dropped bits of bagels and Egg McMuffins. An empty Styrofoam cup rolls in a lazy circle. The voices of children echo off the fake-stone walls of the church playground. A crow calls out from a shadow in the last untouched pines on the hillside.
I come back to the lot at night. Aside from my car, the lot is empty.
At least it looks empty.
I start to notice a strange radiance. The pale white breath of streetlights warms the smooth, tattooed skin. The lot is a beach on another world. Flat, warm, holding back a curious dark ocean of deserted shops and lightless windows. Tight hedgerows rise behind the shimmering paved coastline like dunes. I am a beachcomber. As I walk across the lot I see the days forgotten stories scattered at my feet. A keychain, a shattered travel mug, a sock, a coloring book, a dead bird. The night breeze is different, stronger, cooler. It ripples across the tops of the hedgerow, across the asphalt. It carries the sound of the darkness, it's strange fragrance.
Just before getting in my car I see a fox. It stops and sniffs the wind and continues on it's unseen path.
Home is quiet and dark when I arrive. Poor, tired wife and royal daughter are asleep. I will end my night with a glass of wine in the rocking chair. A book on my lap perhaps.
Just a few more hours to breakfast.
A long day at home never seems quite as long as a long day at work. Even when royal daughter refuses to nap, eat or comply with my futile requests, the day just seems shorter. The light at the end of the tunnel brighter.
While work may be free of Elmo's abrasive ramblings, and the wiping of poopy bottoms, it still emits it's own caustic stench. It is almost easier to meet the needs of one very spirited child then to meet the needs of a very confused public. At least royal daughter knows what she wants when she shrieks for it. I can't say the same for my peers.
My work week is finally over, and I will spare further details. Work is just work, that's all. It magically transports money into our checking account so that it can magically be transported out again, keeping royal family fed and clothed, and we do like our expensive cheeses and gold toenail polish around here.
The real meaning to my day was recaptured by the sight of a regal upstart with strawberry blond hair rubbing her tired eyes. Daughter spent the day playing with family friend and her two sons. I am jealous, but grateful.
Within five minutes royal daughter's tender yawn becomes a steady rolling snore. I watch the sunlight slip across her cheek in the rearview mirror as I thread my way through rush hour traffic. I choose a rural route home, winding past fields full of rust colored cows, heads bent over late winter grass. The meadows spill and fold and collapse into dense emerald shadows. Dry brush and bare trees rise from the spine of low slopes across the cascading pastures.
Straining against the wash of bronze light, stark against the low spring sun's brilliance, perfect rows of bone-hued houses appear, standing inches apart from one another, like tombstones. A cold ugliness against the beautiful naked curve of the earth. Subdivisions tear across the open eyed horizon. Some crouch, barely hidden behind the broken jaw of old hardwoods between the road and the sky. Cars stream from them, into them, around them. The highway looms ahead. The sound of trucks seeps in through the open sunroof like the sound of night surf.
I no longer hear the reassuring sound of daughter's snore, just the sound of an ocean of traffic washing us further and further away. Daylight stretches across roofs and signs, clutching at signposts and cell towers before slipping under.
Funny, I just got home from work, looked at the clock and realized that I have to go back to work in less than eight hours. Should I even bother sleeping?
I came home to a scene from The Andromeda Strain. The lights are all on, but there is no life to be found. Poor, tired wife is curled in a fetal position on top on the sheets. I can see how exhausted she is in the dark. I am afraid to peek in on royal daughter. She may get up, but it won't be to see me. I'm not the one with the breast milk. I do have a tonic in hand, but royal daughter is too young to find comfort in that.
I have to wake up nervous dog for some attention. She should be up anyway, guarding my slumbering clan.
I really do have to wake her up!
Someone has to love me, has to wait up for me...
Just looked at the clock again and realized that it's now my birthday. I guess I'll go to bed after all.
In my neighborhood the arrival of spring is foretold by the aroma of cheap bar-b-que sauce bubbling away over glowing charcoal. You can tell the sauce is really cheap because it's smell easily overpowers that of open flame and burning embers.
It may have some home spun label, perhaps a drawing of a pig wrapped in a towel standing by a giant cauldron, a chicken wearing a chefs hat or a cow wearing sunglasses. It's made by a "Capt'n, Sheriff, Mama, Junior masterpieceswampstickyfirewaterpeteroyjimsomebody." It's really cooked up in the steaming bowels of a giant chemical plant hidden in some darkened bend of the Ohio River Valley. A place where flames shoot from humming stacks, hard hats are worn and red lights blink off and on for no reason. It could've been motor oil once, but someone in up in admin had a vision, "Same viscosity, different color..."
As I make my way home from a meeting tonight, coasting through the sweet fake smell of spring, the car is transformed into an expensive silver chicken wing, smothered in a tawdry sauce.
There is another harbinger of spring around here, the sound of gun shots. People are so happy to be out in the streets again, no longer confined by winter to killing each other indoors.
Take long walk with poor, tired wife, royal daughter and nervous dog before meeting. Royal daughter is thrilled by the sound of two owls calling out to each other for a springtime quickie.
Nervous dog, usually wary of unruly royal daughter in close quarters, is suddenly very protective of the little regal being that pads along so loudly beside her. Nervous dog bristles and snarls at anyone passing by.
The air is cool and moist and smells like earth and rotten wood. A pale mist clings to the open umbrella of tree limbs overhead.
We walk slowly, a little too close together.
It's later than we want it to be.
Have to steal these moments now that work has snuck back into our house.
Since rejoining the work force, so many people have asked me how it feels.
What can I say?
Well, it feels like I've gone back to work.
My time is not really mine. My family is no longer the focal point of my day. I am paid to push people around that are not related to me.
It's Profit vs. Prophet. You get it don't you? I am a trusted, valued slave.
People keep asking me if I'm "excited." By work?
Had I purchased a house, found some money, taken on a lover, anything other than punching a clock- I'd say yes.
So now that you get it let's move on to something else. I would like to savor my denial a bit longer. We can talk about this later.
Have you ever heard a singing saw?
I have. I heard it tonight. What a voice! Now I'm excited.