Then is not Now

I am on my third pint. I am still anxious. I blame it on the drugs. The alcohol is supposed to have erased it.

Surrealist thought diarrhoea. Focus. It is Danielle’s fault. She had started talking about writing’s relationship with time. I’ve heard it before. This time the profundity is amplified.

The writer’s now is not the reader’s now. Their now is the reader’s past and the reader’s now is the writer’s future. And each reader has a different now. Writers are writing for as many future nows as there are readers. And each reader slides into their own personal world. To write is to create a multiverse.

The multiverse is my corollary. There is a lost thought between her talk and my deduction. A parenthetical that has slipped away.

“Are you local?”

I try finding a satisfying translation for retrouvailles. Literally it is a re-finding, you find someone again. My brain takes a detour and attempts a description: Two people comparing how much each has changed in four years. Danielle tells the waitress it is a reunion.

I hate it when the mind starts to race. Ideas streaming in quicker than I can process. Puddles breaking their invisible barriers, following gravity, streaming. A thought river. Ideas unsorted, ungrouped and unranked. I grab one at random.

A picture is worth a thousand words. You can paint a picture with a few words. Words are exponential.

Not for the Faint of Heart

Consider the title a content warning.

The title is not a call for attention though this is the story of a very messed-up call.

Escalation. Every time it has to go a little further for it to be taken seriously.

She climbs over the balcony rail. He says he is fed up with the melodrama. She lowers herself carefully down the bars. The door slams three tenths of a second before she screams “I am serious this time!”

He is moving faster than her thoughts. He is walking out of the building’s front door before she understands the order of events. “Ken ! Ken !” He has stopped listening. He turns right at the corner.

She looks down. Two floors is higher than she thought. The scream has no understandable words. It finishes with a long Ken.

A little swing. She throws her right hand up and grabs a piece of the bar seven inches up. The gain is temporary. The right hand slips an inch. She decides, if you can call it a decision, to save her energy for hanging on.

And screaming. “Ken ! Come back! Right now! You are not supposed to walk away.”

Her eyes search for a miracle. Down for a mattress. The door for the hero crashing in. The end of the road for the firemen with the trampoline.

Now her eyes look up as the first four fingers give up one by one. The last six surrender in unison.

A spectator talks to himself. “It sounded like a coconut being struck. A coconut. Like a coconut. …” The firetruck’s horn stops the wail.

Coffee Break

It takes concentration to make coffee. Not much. Enough. A lack of distraction.

Blaming the self-talk for my difficulties in inserting the pod into the holder does not resolve the problem. I am exchanging one distraction for another.

I have to call Luke. It’s one of today’s must-do’s.

It is a task that feels like work. Like a useless process at a hated job.

Networking. Luke, Sandy’s husband. Sandy, Nancy’s friend. He was supposed to introduce me to Dennis. Dennis, who knows the director of a company that is upgrading its system. The details are vague, Luke does not understand IT talk. Dennis is the IT guy.

I am dreading the call. I am dreading the call that the call will generate. I am dreading the unknown.

Here I go lying to myself again.

I fear success. The higher up the ladder I climb, the further there is to fall.

More bullshit.

I am worried that my anxiety will show and that Nancy will hear that I bombed in a networking call. Anxiety biting its own tail.

Voice mail. Now it’s his turn.

Close Up

Jake listens to the fading echo. His head swivels looking for the source of the original sound. There is a little voice in the back of his head screaming “Run!” He jumps.

A man is standing next to the container with a chest full of air. “Get out of my alley! No one is throwing me out of my home! No more Camilla’s. No more losing of Betty. Three years. What does she look like now?” The stream runs into a scream as volume beats elocution in the battle for the remaining air. It ends in tears.

Jakes mind takes him away from the misery, leading him from the deduction that Camilla was a lost partner, to imaginations of Doreen waiting for him. Her face is smiling as he approaches. He takes her into his arms, his right hand drifts down to slip in under her dress. The complexity of imagining himself imagining the underwear she has selected for him is only one of reasons the spell is broken.

The stranger has crawled away. Jake walks on.

How Not to Say What It Ain’t

Dear Francine,
I am writing this letter in the hope that you will accept to read it.

What a silly thing to write. It’s politeness gone mad. It would even sound foolish in French.

Why write it? I am indirectly saying I am nervous. Indirectly because I do not want to say why I am nervous. Nervous because I do not want Francine to think I am saying something I am not.

Even explaining what I am doing is complicated. I am not sure I am saying what I mean.

The standard advice is “Be yourself! Say what your are thinking.”

My fantasy is a garter belt, a short dress and no panties. My jeans around my knees. Left of the door, in the corner.

I should have started with how she makes me feel. How thankful I am for that. There is nothing committal about that. Safe emotions.

There is no safe way to sign the card. Both truth and insincerity would say too much.

I will let the box of chocolates do all the talking.

On the Eve of the Significance

The day before the milestone.

I keep giving time to Nancy. It is not sustainable. I need time for me. I want to run away to find it.

I have, jokingly, called myself an asshole with a charming smile. Now, I am uncomfortable playing the role. Maybe Diane was an innocent victim.

Fuck the performative (which is probably a misuse of the word). Fuck the symbolic. Fuck the implied significance of a milestone.

Fuck the abstruse coming of old age post.

Caught in a Celluloid Jam

Ray sits down. He turns on the television. Fay is missing.

He has checked all the rooms, under every bed and in all the closets. She is missing.

He had started upstairs, in the master bedroom and its two large closets. The mirrors in the ensuite bathroom answered the question of what he would look like if he woke up in a panic.

It did not help. He’d accelerated until he was almost running through the rooms.

He regretted no one had seen his trip on the cord. The walls had offered no appreciation for the way he had made the stumble look like a graceful catch of the falling living room lamp.

The conclusion that Fay is missing is hard to challenge. Ray is sure he could not have missed her if she was still in the house. Then again, a lot of people missed a gorilla when they were counting basketball passes.

Turning on the news is the easiest way to look for a missing gorilla.

Involved in a Typical Daydream

One version of my story has inflation as the cause of my moving to Europe.

Yesterday I listened to nine podcast episodes in five hours and eight minutes. The host of one of the shows tells of the stories his father told about the inflation fighting high interest rates of his youth.

To contextualize their relation to music from the late 90’s they had ranked themselves by years of experienced history. They were all younger than my two eldest. I managed to stop myself from adding that they were also all older than my youngest who has just started her first fulltime job. None of them had ever experienced inflation.

I absolutely do not want to be one of those older folks who relate every thing back to their time.

I grew up with inflation. I even did two years of economics while it was raging.

Some of the contemporary articles said the 1973 oil crisis was to blame for it all.

Others said it was a new normal: modern economies, globalization and all that.

Yet others said it was all an illusion.

Of course, if you wanted to, you could probably have found an obscure economist claiming it was all a long sequence of events starting with the tax policies of an unknown Sumerian king.

Economics was making history. High interest rates were bringing down the economy and proving the solution to inflation.

I used to have this routine. “Canada’s unemployment was at 13% and at almost 35% for people my age. In fact, the only one of my friends that had a regular job was selling shoes in his father’s store. In Switzerland, they were complaining about the unemployment rate increasing tenfold from 0.2% to 2.1% (not counting unemployed foreigners helps the statistics). I have a Swiss passport!”

Their is a version of my story where my not getting into the right school is the cause of my moving to Europe. The numbers are the same. The context changes. It is less interesting.

How Much of This is True?

I am trying to make the wave I am riding last as long possible. Success breeds success. If for no other reason than my being in a very good mood.

I remember a particularly successful weekend in the 90’s. (I hesitated between leaving room for misunderstanding and adding a clarification: The weekend was a success but this is not my definition of success.) It started with me getting a phone number (remember, 90’s), continued with my declining an offer for sex from a less than attractive woman to a foursome.

I had just sent Helen a proposal of when and where for a first date when Sandy called. There has always been an ambiguity in our relationship. We were talking about me possibly being in her neck of the woods later in the year. She is an ex-colleague now. Any ambiguities present will be resolved and resolving ambiguities is the best part.

I over analyze and flashback to a snippet of our conversation. “Again?” she’d asked. I forgot I had self-diagnosed a burnout a few years earlier.

It was part of my narrative about the company, that I had been able to have a mild burnout at work without anybody noticing.

I am trying very hard to be honest with myself. I am convinced that I wasn’t over-dramatizing. This means my current narrative about everything coming to a head six months ago is false. I have been bumping along the bottom for a few years now. March is when healing started.

The wave disappears in a sea overthinking.

Adapting to the Static

I am walking off my disappointment. I have made up a mantra to defend against the regret:
Pay the price,
Roll the dice,
Sometimes you lose the bet,
Sometimes you collect.

Every time I start ruminating, calling it a mistake, I repeat my new composition. I am pounding the pavement to the beat.

Walking it off is symptomatic of another problem. It ends too many evenings gone wrong. Not wanting to wait for transportation is the excuse I usually use. Today the why I am walking is more important than the why walking is my response to it.

I am handling very poorly the discovery that the festival is a huge success with its target demographic of 18 – 25-year-olds.

I have the four-day pass. Looking at the programming and the options, I had decided that, even if it wasn’t really my style of music, it was not expensive, it was local and it was four days where I did not have to think about where to eat or what to do. I knew I might not like the festival but the four-day pass was, in my well thought-out opinion, a reasonable option to choose.

I force myself to start thinking about how to avoid another repeat. I look for patterns. Is this symptomatic of the local festivals? I had the same problem at the other local event at the start of the summer. The festivals in smaller places did not have this strong a bias. Does the ability to come by public transportation make them the domain of the youth?

It isn’t disappointment. It is embarrassment. I visibly do not belong here. This is very public. It is one of those things I am working on. I do not like being wrong.

Pay the price,
Roll the dice,
Sometimes you lose the bet,
Sometimes you collect.

It has a nice beat.