The House of Hope

A day is 24 hours, which can be stretched or condensed in the mind of a person but not in fact. You can get up early and stay out late, creating a 36 hour day that ends at sunrise. That is a trick of the mind. It is not real, even if you stayed awake so long you thought the giant bowling pin on Route 22 was a pink dinosaur. No. The dinosaur may appear to lick its lips and regard you as a tasty morsel, which you may well be. This is not real and you need some sleep because days are 24 hours long, and you should be asleep during at least some of them.

Yesterday, I spent four or five hours opening moving crates and boxes in my living room. A woman in Italy asked me for a piece for an anthology of Italian-American women writers. About a year ago, we discussed a piece I performed once ten or eleven years ago and never again, though I loved it. As a performance piece it was kind of prop-intensive, and the space had to be very clean, and the audience had to be mannerly. I don’t know about your career as a performance poet, but mine was full of hard-fought victories for audience respect and attention and I liked it that way. So. Somewhere in my one-bedroom apartment the cue cards I need to turn this vague memory into glorious text sit in a pile of papers belonging to a previous Me – in fact, the unbearable previous Me – and though I threw away bags and bags of unbearable baggage, I did not find the cue cards.

In other news: I wish there were a museum to donate my reams and reams of posters to but nobody gives a shit about underground art in New Brunswick. The unbearable Me could be tax deductible, and somebody else could be responsible for minding the monster. Anyway, I was exhausted when I realized the cue cards weren’t in the living room, and I rearranged the hall closet so I had an away to put things, and put them away I did, and finally I showered vigorously to slough off the weight of that old raging ego.

Horoscopically speaking, yesterday and today are the two days, possibly in my lifetime, when I should polish my shoes, comb my hair and get out to where random folks can admire me. No, really. My True Love will find me, and you could not be blamed for reading that and hearing the Impressive Clergyman from The Princess Bride locute:

The Impressive Clergyman: Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam…
[cut to Westley, Inigo, and Fezzik]
The Impressive Clergyman: And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva…
[cut to the trio again]
The Impressive Clergyman: So tweasure your wuv.
Prince Humperdinck: Skip to the end.
The Impressive Clergyman: Have you the wing?
[cut to the trio once more]
Prince Humperdinck: Man and wife. Say man and wife.
The Impressive Clergyman: Man an’ wife.

The last thing I need is admiration. It’s like tasty crack to the psyche in recovery from a Rock Star Ego Problem. Fortunately, I was only going to the drug store to buy a bottle of wine and the security camera angles are deeply unflattering. Still, I can’t even do this simple errand without incident.

Tata: Did you see that girl who was standing in front of me in line?
Cashier: Yes.
Tata: I was at the register in the front of the store but the line was very long, so I came here to the back. Most of the way through the store she was right behind me, and I mean – like – almost touching my back.

I demonstrate proximity by touching my back and laughing. The cashier fails Context Clues 101 and becomes alarmed.

Cashier: You must’ve been frightened!
Tata: What was she, 80 pounds? She didn’t scare me, no. But then I turned the corner right there –

I point to a spot eight feet away.

Tata: – and she ducked around me and stopped here in front of me. She did not turn around and say, “Excuse me,” or, “Terribly sorry but I’m having a fresh breath and false eyelash emergency.” No, she stood with her back to me and bit her nails.
Cashier: Kids!
Tata: That reminds me: I should call mine. She could be having a false eyelash emergency and I might not even know!

Thus, I was in little danger of being needlessly admired.

My day seemed endless. I was supposed to go see a reunion of one of Ned’s bands at the bar but I just didn’t have the strength. Earlier, during a moment of must-think-about-something-other-than-myself blogsurfing, this caught my attention: on Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, Mimus Pauly pointed to Scout Prime, who thanks someone else for finding this amazing video. It is a story I had not heard before, the kind of story that will make you proud and ashamed. These two men are the kind of people we all hope we could be under pressure. Few of us are. Their courage and resourcefulness on endlessly long days, day after day, are important in a coward-filled, violent world, and should be rewarded with positions of responsibility. These men are real heroes, deserving of real admiration. If I were Ray Nagin, I’d find these men, give them jobs and pay them double.

Ah, so maybe love found me after all.

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