In a cork lined room

Wake up at 5:30 in the morning. Splash water on your face. Brush your teeth quickly, improperly. Spit blood into the sink. Skip a shower, put on old jeans, old socks, and an old t shirt. Put on old shoes that don’t provide adequate support. Squeeze into shin splinting shoes stained with dirty coffee. Walk out the door, blind and mute. Into the buzzing dawn. 

Get on the bus. There’s at least one person that’s threateningly retarded or homeless.You’re the only non minority. Brown and black skin, strollers, plastic bags full of plastic bottles, other languages that sound like gibberish.

(I don’t know what it is about the sound of other languages, but it makes me want to punch people. I’m not charmed by foreign jibber jabber. People are bad enough when you can understand them.)

Stand on the bus. Clench your calf muscles and grip the pole so you don’t fall into a 130 year old woman in an electric wheelchair. A bus is not built to turn. A bus flips over every time it turns a soft 15 degrees. You wage a daily battle with heaving, mechanical gravity. Your teeth are ground down into powder from years of jaw clenching bus rides.

Or you take an uber. Rwanden refugees and west coast technology. The breakdown of public space, national borders and long term employment; pointillist contracted labor. Zanzibar Castro is your driver. You forgot to drink water and your organs are withering. You think in the fog of dehydration about Uber and mass society. How globalism runs on world destroying technology. Apps control the movement of delocalized bug people in a wealth worshipping consumer colony. 

You work for 8 hours. Every morning you think of what you’re going to do when you get out. And every afternoon when you get out all you want to do is crawl into a dank room and firebomb your brain with opium. Close the curtains and eat rich chocolate and cheese. 

It takes at least half an hour to get ready for work. And that’s cutting every corner. No showers or stretches or meditation rituals. No time for food. Nothing that would improve your health or reduce stress. You wake up, half ass your hygiene and then leave.

So, you spend an hour getting to work. And then 8 hours at work without a break. Finally after getting to work and working, you have to go home. You call another expensive uber or brave the bus again. Now it’s around 3 in the afternoon, maybe later. Traffic is thriving and won’t let up until after 7.

Are you still thinking about your hobbies, your passions? After 10 hours of mind numbing commuting and menial labor, you’re not exploding with energy? You don’t have children or obligations and you’re still flailing, unable to manage time and money for your own sanity and health.

Get home to cook and clean. Mold is winning the battle of the bathroom. You need groceries and cleaning supplies. Walk a mile to a grocery store. Then walk a mile back to your house holding two bags of groceries in each hand. Each bag is full of fruits and vegetables destined to rot and stink in your crisper.

You count walking a mile with groceries as exercise. Your traps and forearms are bulging but your chest is weak. It’s the lack of bench press and flys. Find time and willpower for the gym. Another logistical rubik’s cube. Take the bus again or call another uber. Either way it’s more money and time you don’t have.

It’s after 6 pm and it’s rush hour in the gym. You’re tired and you just ate a heavy, mayonnaise based sandwich. Even though you went to the supermarket and bought fresh food, you crammed down a thick, starchy pita wrap loaded with hormone addled beef and chicken and french fries. Enough salt to turn your flesh into jerky.

Now you’re at the gym, stomach struggling to process leaden carcinogens, dehydrated from a long day of drinking coffee and courting cardiac arrest with fatty meat sandwiches. It’s time to squat but there’s no squat rack. There’s also no bench press. The worst music of all time is blaring and every available bench, rack, and free weight is taken.

After a cramped, rushed workout you head home. One final transportation hurdle. One last meal for the day, slop in a skillet. Blindly hack away at various vegetables. Toss a tube of meat in the pan and salt to your taste.

After choking down flavorless gristle and burnt vegetables, it’s time to work on your passion. Crack open the timeless works of Plato and write fresh, insightful commentary on the perennial problems of humanity. Brush up on your greek and latin, review poetic forms and practice your iambic pentameter.

Except that doesn’t happen.  Instead you browse facebook until you see something upsetting and then you write about that. Your old friends turned into old nagging women. Now they make prissy remarks on racism and sexism. You remember the days when you drank beer together and said offensive, hilarious shit.

And you want to look past who they’ve become and reach out to them. You don’t. You’re disappointed with yourself because you’re willing to distance yourself from people over ideas. And you do this while believing that people are more valuable than ideas.

Realize that every man who ever lived was a hypocrite who contradicted himself. Feel resolve again when facing the futility of existence. It’s now 9:00 pm. You need human contact but your job also fries your social circuits. No one invites you to do anything and you don’t have the energy to go out again anyway.

Every rapid fire, superficial interaction you have with an anonymous credit bearer takes its toll. Face after face after face. You need to hide from humanity. Exist alone as thought in a void. Thinking of the void.

Everything you write haunts you with what it’s missing. And it’s always missing something, even now, as you write about what’s lacking in your writing. You wanted to write about a day in a man’s life, using heavy handed ironic subtext to make your common sense points about life. And that’s easy enough to do, even when you’re tired and careless.

But there were certain threads you wanted to develop that went nowhere. The tone wasn’t consistent and neither was the pace. The day was overly long but also not detailed enough.  And you’re tired and can’t work anymore. You didn’t think about how this would end. What completes a work, a day, a life.

Then it comes to you. It’s another moment when you tie everything together, but it’s so delicate and fleeting you can’t put it into words. You settle for strained poetry.

A work is never finished, but it must come to an end. It is the same with life. Everything must end as forever incomplete. As the unwavering, always present what could have been.

You’re going to repeat yourself until you die. And then who knows.

Author: The Empty Subject

Born curmudgeon

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