Chapter 13

It’s morning in April on the East Coast of the United States. And Time has continued forward since chapter 12. I’m looking out a window onto a street. There is someone waiting for a dog to crouch and release. The bushes are blowing in the wind. There are plans and they are forming.

I read an interview and an article on the Financial Times this morning when I was just waking up. That’s the time when the hypnosis of anything can set my brain up to run for hours, for miles, for years. And a view of the world from the perspective of a documentary filmmaker and the article about the more-precarious situation of “the new generations” in combination unsettled me. The documentary filmmaker made me (“made me”) feel as though I’m not doing enough, even though he talked about how making films is not enough (playful hypocrisy, it turns out, does not negate). The precarity of these younger generations in numbers and cartoon-newspaper-pictures did what grades and LinkedIn have always done: made me (“made me”) feel like I’m not successful or safe enough. Which is total, complete, absolute garbage. Now, here we are, trying to turn that garbage into a documentary film on paper where I’m musing and showing extremely short scenes from my life (the scenes in movies continue to get shorter).

And I have the space, outside of the managerial headlock and calendar tyranny, to be able to make shit happen in a way that doesn’t feel as much like trash. And I can say nice things about the trash, as long as my feet are flat on the ground instead of pointed forward. I’m sitting in the office with the murphy bed and wondering if I’m taking up space that needs to be used for a meeting. But when my feet are flat on the ground, I worry less. And the plans that have not crystallized are less worrisome as well.

French press coffee usually amps me up to an unusual degree, so combined with a couple of choice FT articles, today has kicked off in quite a way. It’s fifteen minutes past the hour, and this chapter has at least a mosquito’s length life left to life. So stay with me here. Yesterday, I drove for three and a half hours on the highway with a bike strapped to the back of the car. I was worried about the bike carrier staying attached, and imagining what it might look like if the bike flew off the back and into traffic. What insurance would cover what? Who would sue who? Would I be able to retrieve the bike and throw it in the back of the car (definitely not, it’s too big and there are kayaks back there)?

French presses do not filter out enough of the stuff in coffee. I need paper or cloth filters to avoid the neural palpitation that makes my body resonate at a strange natural frequency (“makes” in this case I think is legitimately wielded). The wind is intense outside. I want to be on a bicycle in it. I was to be going over a bridge. I want to be dodging traffic. It was the most wonderful morning routine to head into work, full suit and tie, and bike down the hill into the office, dodging cars and trying not to get too sweaty. I would go into the bathroom after putting the suit jacket on a desk chair and undo everything, and just let the sweat do it’s cooling thing, nearly naked in a stall. A wonderful routine. Particularly when it was in the bowels of the US Dept. of Agriculture building (a building that was designed by the same person who built the Leavenworth federal penitentiary and it shows – it appears that the office doors could all be closed and locked at once in a given hallway if one just found the correct lever to pull, in addition to it taking twenty minutes from the entrance to walk to the office in which I worked).

This cup of French press coffee has less dilutive water and much less coconut milk. It needs more of both, but I do not want to get up from this chapter, chapter thirteen. I just had to check and make sure we were actually inside chapter thirteen, and we hadn’t just ironically skipped 12 instead, like an architect with a little bit of paranoia, but a lack of awareness of the number theory of the culture. Though I imagine I would find plenty of symbolism around the number twelve if I did a little bit of googling – I’m not going to do that after already having my day messed with by the FT’s pressure cooker.

Instead, I’ll bike somewhere to get more bike tubes, continuing the closest thing to a perpetual motion machine that I’ve ever been astride. The thing I can’t understand is how, how, how can it be that both cars and bikes and even airplanes still put air in tires or tubes. It just boggles the mind that something puncturable, rather than something permanent should be used to carry so many more mores of transport (permanent in irony-italics, because of course, all is impermanence; if this were a movie, this would be where a deer would jump over a broken down car in dystopian, covered in new trees in the street former Manhattan). But it would be nice if one didn’t have to change one’s bike tires as often as it seems I need to. And don’t talk to me about tubeless, I still have some of that sticky stuff on my fingers from putting a tube into a punctured tubeless tire.

It’s still morning in April. But not for much longer. Morning in April will be over for a long time in just a few hours, at least in the time zone where I am. And just about everywhere a few more hours after that. The cycles of time, though. Not only are these cycles impermanent fixtures in an impermanent society. They are also false representations of a now trying to place itself with respect to the previous and the about to happen. Finding one’s footing on the razor’s edge just involves getting cuts on one’s feet, which is an extremely painful place to receive cuts. There aren’t even any shoes that can mitigate the cuts, because the razor’s edge goes directly through the most robust of permanent shoe souls. And shoes most certainly have souls. The are like the homes of hermit crabs. They are lived in, often only for a few hours at a stretch, and never know when they are discarded at the end of the day or at the end of their service if they will ever house feet again. Is it a relief? Or is all purpose lost? I feel as though it’s the latter. My shoes, even the dirty ones, even the faded ones, look purposeful and meaningful when they’re wrapped around a pair of feet.

I was sitting with my feet on the front parts, with my legs bent under the chair, rather than flat on the ground. Sitting is so strange; I’ll spend some time on the heels to tap the brakes and come away from the shoes-with-souls thing. Back to reality, or at least some sort of shim that acts as a sort of shared reality without all these fictional things. But now that my feet are flat again, can I ask what fiction is? If you’ve created a character and the character’s story in your mind, that character and that story exist. The mind is physical, it’s in the brain. It’s like a river going through land and turning it into a canyon. Non-fiction picture books can be made of both. So what is fiction? Fiction is the fictional word for the nonsense that Descartes propagated. The body and the mind as separate things. Non-fiction vs. fiction. Total garbage, as we’ve proven. Smells like the trash of unsafety that oozes out of the LinkedIn and Financial Times trash bags, because they do not seal very well. So gross.

So let’s get out of this unreasonable debate about outside vs. inside. My digestive tract and stomach are on the outside of me. The inside of my house is full of outside air. And the fictions in my head, once they have been formed in my head, have a real, externally observable reality. And are therefore non-fiction. Maybe the only possibility of fiction is that which has not yet been formed in a mind. It’s certainly not possible to classify anything that has been written down in a book as fictional, even if the author has forgotten what they wrote. It would be like calling a tree that has forgotten that it was once alive fictional after it has fallen in the forest. Garbage.

So breathe deep and smell the mixture of trash and fresh fruit. Watch the maggots multiply on the still-living creature. Consider with both indifference and passion the cruelty and necessity of the mother praying mantis. View the contours of the wind with reverence and total ignorance. Hear the music and feel both cultured and superior, while working in a pile of grease and tubeless tire goop to change out your punctured tube (and try not to wipe your face with your hand).