Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Nights Like These

Nights like these, the poetry won't come, the cigarettes burn and singe and yet there's always one lit, sitting in the ashtray, mocking your presumption to health, the occasion is tainted by the lingering knowledge that the new car needs to go into the shop tomorrow, early, thanks to what manufacturer's understate as a "road hazard," thus avoiding liability under the warranty. The lawyer bristles and knows resistance is futile; the consumer wants to scream and remonstrate and insist and turn blue in the face at the injustice of it all.

Nights like these, the checkbook doesn't balance; the apartment doesn't clean or rearrange itself in anticipation of guests tomorrow; and you don't know anything more than you did yesterday.

Nights like these, from your desk you watch the receding taillights of yet another car hurrying the wrong way up your one-way street, and cringe in anticipation of the bang that in five years has never come, but one of these days . . .

Nights like these, a Norton's Anthology, a Dictionary, and a yellowing Dylan Thomas collection lay atop each other in a way that does not conduce to spinal health, lexical lovers in frolic, and fail in their fervor to remember that they are here to serve you, and so their distraction prevents the words from coming as they writhe and groan and get in the way of your elbow when you reach for your cigarette, which shouldn't be burning in the first place since you just had one ten minutes ago.

Nights like these, the city is damp and chilly to an extent the mercury can't explain, and everything whispers conspiratorially about your failings and restively awaits the overnight blanket of another Pittsburgh fog, which will obscure everything but your own insistent malaise. Sherlock Holmes would be comfortable here. But you're not. Not tonight, anyway.

Nights like these tapping away at a filthy keyboard doesn't solve any of these problems -- indeed, it becomes a new problem in highlighting the aggregate effect of the myriad others. And the cats sleep or chase cellophane around the apartment or miao plaintively while you ignore them, ignore yourself, ignore the damp and the drizzle and the fog, the ache in your lungs signaling an incipient cold, ignore the stubbornly noncompliant checkbook and the lascivious menage a trois, and whatever else you might otherwise consider, the incidents and erata of another day dealt with dubiously, another sunrise and sunset unseen, a few more wasted hours on your aching buttocks before a glowing LCD screen, the ailing whirr of a cooling fan the size of your zippo buried deep inside obscure machinery, the various pools of light and scraps of paper and detritus of a mind as scattered as seed in an April breeze too remote to imagine.

Nights like these, sleep is the only solution, and yet . . .

Nights like these, the temptation to stand tiptoe and try to see over the darkness to the coming dawn is as overwhelming as it is impossible even were you willing to stand. And you're not. Dozens of empty bottles won't carry themselves to the curb, nor will the newspapers; the garbage won't tie, extricate, and remove itself from the apartment. Dishes won't dance to their own melody in the sink before diving, clean, into the drainer to await their next tasks.

And you won't sleep. Won't clean. Won't write. Won't learn a goddamned thing or effect the slightest bit of change. Not on a night like this.

Nights like these, your past mistakes crowd you on the occasion of their recurrence, and they laugh . . . they laugh until you weep. Nights like these . . .

UPDATE (the next morning): Okay, so the apartment is clean enough for company, the dishes washed, the checkbook balanced, I still feel vaguely sickish but probably better than I did yesterday morning (Thank you, Thera-Flu, thank you), and I seem to have slipped the recurrent mistakes' bony clutches at least for the time being. All of which is to say [/self-indulgent high school literary journal maundering]. Thank you, drive thru.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker