Wednesday, September 06, 2006


I don’t think there are people who can’t understand, or don’t experience, ambivalence, not counting TV characters. And if there are, they bore me. A bit harsh maybe, but it’s the way it is. Humans are complex and contradictory just as much as they are predictable and dull, but the thing that always strikes me about the people in my life is the way they (I) overcome ambivalence long enough to make a significant change. That being the case, they are free to still bemoan, stress and make themselves mad with worry, which does not undercut the struggle against being simultaneously pulled toward and repelled from a person, place or thing. Or idea, let’s not forget ideas.

And I’m not just talking about life altering decisions here. Yes, going back to school is huge, giant, gargantuan, but so is deciding what to do with your evening, even whether or not to bother the girl at the café where you’ve been sitting for an hour with a pot of tea, reading your book and feeling hungry and each time she walks by she barely notices you and you want to eat something but it seems like too much trouble to stop her, not to mention nothing on the menu seems particularly appealing. You are so tired of being a “hunger artist” but it is all so much trouble to be otherwise. Who would have thought that there could such trouble even in this land where we take it all for granted and don’t want because there is so much. And you walk down the street on Labor Day and notice all the closed shops and think, what will I eat? but nothing is open and so you say, the first place that is open I’ll stop at and eat something because it is 8:45 and I have not eaten a thing all day. You are hungry but it is fading and you figure you can get through a night without eating, a whole day, actually, but you also know that the pain of an empty stomach will reach its zenith somewhere around 11:30 when it is far too late for food. And any small meal—a piece of toast, a spoonful of peanut butter, a protein bar, a small bowl of cereal—will only awake a larger hunger that will refuse to let you sleep. And anyway, the only places open are lousy dives and greasy spoons and the idea of eggs and potatoes is disgusting, even though you can smell the bad food from the other side of the neon lit window and you have to admit it smells good—the way the worst things seem so benign when you have nothing. So you give up, walk home, flip through the TV and none of it looks better or worse than anything else. Give up and lay down, look at the piles of books on your floor, on your walls, and think about which you’ve read and which you haven’t and which you never will and why and think about picking one up and reading through the night. You finished Dostoevsky at the café and wanted to read another by him, but classes are coming and you don’t want to be saddled with a book you haven’t finished when the assigned reading begins, so you opt for poetry and read a few of this and few of that and fail to commit to any one book and they start to weigh on you because you have not written them and never could, and you love every word strung together the way only a craftsman could. And then, maybe, you sleep.

In the morning the routine is back, so you can greet that and you can be sure that you feel one way about it. You hate it, but at the same time you don’t leave because you are conflicted and you wonder what else there is to do and if you can do it. Ha ha, you’re in it now.

We occasionally break this and we overcome the fear and the less terrifying but no less serious immobility and we do things like go back to school or face graduate school and make plans to fly abroad and make plans to get out of these jobs we hate and take steps toward something better than this, which is fine but fine is not anything one should aspire for. Fine is giving up and I refuse which is why you get so many envelops with your name, written by my hand. This is why I will climb to the moon and alter the pull of waves so that our one-way can move to another, scary, unsure and beautiful.