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The Tension of Transformation

.... and other lowfat favorites

3/3/08 09:56 pm

My lover is experiencing reverse evolution. I tell no one. I don't know how it happened, only that one day he was my lover and the next he was some kind of ape. It's been a month and now he's a sea turtle.

I keep him on the counter, in a glass baking pan filled with salt water.

"Ben," I say to his small protruding head, "can you understand me?" and he stares with eyes like little droplets of tar and I drip tears into the pan, a sea of me.

He is shedding a million years a day. I am no scientist, but this is roughly what I figured out. I went to the old biology teacher at the community college and asked him for an approximate time line of our evolution. He was irritated at first--he wanted money. I told him I'd be happy to pay and then he cheered up quite a bit. I can hardly read his time line--he should've typed it--and it turns out to be wrong. According to him, the whole process should take about a year, but from the way things are going, I think we have less than a month left.

At first, people called on the phone and asked me where was Ben. Why wasn't he at work? Why did he miss his lunch date with those clients? His out-of-print special-ordered book on civilization had arrived at the bookstore, would he please pick it up? I told them he was sick, a strange sickness, and to please stop calling. The stranger thing was, they did. They stopped calling. After a week, the phone was silent and Ben, the baboon, sat in a corner by the window, wrapped up in drapery, chattering to himself.

Last day I saw him human, he was sad about the world.

This was not unusual. He was always sad about the world. It was a large reason why I loved him. We'd sit together and be sad and think about being sad and sometimes discuss sadness.

On his last human day, he said, "Annie, don't you see? We're all getting too smart. Our brains are just getting bigger and bigger, and the world dries up and dies when there's too much thought and not enough heart."

He looked at me pointedly, blue eyes unwavering. "Like us, Annie," he said. "We think far too much."

I sat down. I remembered how the first time we had sex, I left the lights on, kept my eyes wide open, and concentrated really hard on letting go; then I noticed that his eyes were open too and in the middle of everything we sat down on the floor and had an hour-long conversation about poetry. It was all very peculiar. It was all very familiar.

Another time he woke me up in the middle of the night, lifted me off the pale blue sheets, led me outside to the stars and whispered: Look, Annie, look--there is no space for anything but dreaming. I listened, sleepily, wandered back to bed and found myself wide awake, staring at the ceiling, unable to dream at all. Ben fell asleep right away, but I crept back outside. I tried to dream up to the stars, but I didn't know how to do that. I tried to find a star no one in all of history had ever wished on before, and wondered what would happen if I did.

On his last human day, he put his head in his hands and sighed and I stood up and kissed the entire back of his neck, covered that flesh, made wishes there because I knew no woman had ever been so thorough, had ever kissed his every inch of skin. I coated him. What did I wish for? I wished for good. That's all. Just good. My wishes became generalized long ago, in childhood; I learned quick the consequence of wishing specific.

I took him in my arms and made love to him, my sad man. "See, we're not thinking," I whispered into his ear while he kissed my neck, "we're not thinking at all" and he pressed his head into my shoulder and held me tighter. Afterward, we went outside again; there was no moon and the night was dark. He said he hated talking and just wanted to look into my eyes and tell me things that way. I let him and it made my skin lift, the things in his look. Then he told me he wanted to sleep outside for some reason and in the morning when I woke up in bed, I looked out to the patio and there was an ape sprawled on the cement, great furry arms covering his head to block out the glare of the sun.

Even before I saw the eyes, I knew it was him. And once we were face to face, he gave me his same sad look and I hugged those enormous shoulders. I didn't even really care, then, not at first, I didn't panic and call 911. I sat with him outside and smoothed the fur on the back of his hand. When he reached for me, I said No, loudly, and he seemed to understand and pulled back. I have limits here.

We sat on the lawn together and ripped up the grass. I didn't miss human Ben right away; I wanted to meet the ape too, to take care of my lover like a son, a pet; I wanted to know him every possible way but I didn't realize he wasn't coming back.

Now I come home from work and look for his regular-size shape walking and worrying and realize, over and over, that he's gone. I pace the halls. I chew whole packs of gum in mere minutes. I review my memories and make sure they're still intact because if he's not here, then it is my job to remember. I think of the way he wrapped his arms around my back and held me so tight it made me nervous and the way his breath felt in my ear: right.

When I go to the kitchen, I peer in the glass and see he's some kind of salamander now. He's small.

"Ben," I whisper, "do you remember me? Do you remember?"

His eyes roll up in his head and I dribble honey into the water. He used to love honey. He licks at it and then swims to the other end of the pan.

This is the limit of my limits: here it is. You don't ever know for sure where it is and then you bump against it and bam, you're there. Because I cannot bear to look down into the water and not be able to find him at all, to search the tiny clear waves with a microscope lens and to locate my lover, the one-celled wonder, bloated and bordered, brainless, benign, heading clear and small like an eye-floater into nothingness.

I put him in the passenger seat of the car, and drive him to the beach. Walking down the sand, I nod at people on towels, laying their bodies out to the sun and wishing. At the water's edge, I stoop down and place the whole pan on the tip of a baby wave. It floats well, a cooking boat, for someone to find washed up on shore and to make cookies in, a lucky catch for a poor soul with all the ingredients but no container.

Ben the salamander swims out. I wave to the water with both arms, big enough for him to see if he looks back.

I turn around and walk back to the car.

Sometimes I think he'll wash up on shore. A naked man with a startled look. Who has been to history and back. I keep my eyes on the newspaper. I make sure my phone number is listed. I walk around the block at night in case he doesn't quite remember which house it is. I feed the birds outside and sometimes before I put my one self to bed, I place my hands around my skull to see if it's growing, and wonder what, of any use, would fill it if it did.

1/16/08 07:10 pm

the only thing that tastes good is pinot grigio and brownies. 

11/14/07 04:00 pm

our neighbor committed suicide.  him and his wife lived in one of the most lavish and extravagant houses in our neighborhood, the one i can see from my bedroom window.  the guy was quite an avid sport hunter; he had zebras, antelopes, giraffes, wild boars, etc. all stuffed and hanging on the walls.  primarily for this reason i always thought he was a huge douchebag.  he shot himself in their basement monday morning with a hunting rifle.  i cannot imagine how horrible the carnage must have been... the wife was home at the time too. 

10/31/07 11:50 pm

9/18/07 12:12 am

i can't sleep. even with johns expansive soundscape of sleep pouring through my speakers, enveloping me in some tragic vacuum of parallel narrative. my mind just pours out over the floor, out of the apartment, and into some soluble remembrance of the past few years. ypsilanti holds her adolescent breath outside my window; baiting me. i've had every opportunity afforded to me to tell her goodbye, i've had every reason to pick up my suitcases and go. i buried the ghosts of olive, i've bolted the back door, and so, the westward shuffle continues. but there is this striking and awkward division between the mythology i've inoculated myself to, and the staggering will to maintain it.

we lay together, deaf and dumb, starring endlessly into the space above our heads. Tiny cracks pronounce themselves like veins, spreading wide to form cryptic roads on the stuccoed apartment ceiling. I wonder when those cracks were borne in us as well.

7/9/07 05:31 pm

whoa livejournal, it's been ages.

i finally grew up and found a quasi-real job: if all goes as planned, i will be an assistant to an artist in her gallery in manchester in a few weeks. my job will be managing orders and emails and hanging out with beautiful people in this really lovely space. very ikea/fung shui. the interview consisted of a long conversation about bjork and meatwad. this is exactly what i needed, i'll be a coffee wench no more.

speaking of coffee wenches, one of my customers this morning informed me that there was a missed connection on craigslist about me. i'm not sure if she was referring to the one about the blonde with the big knockers working at primo(surely this cannot be me) or the one looking to be a sugar daddy for a hot barista? ewwe? i don't know if it's me or just ann arbor in general, but there's a lot of really sketchy/flaky people at the shop. like jerry, who always calls me babe, asks repeatedly if i've been to l.a., shows me his signed picture of heather lockler, and re-introduces himself upon every visit. or this old war vet who cannot speak, but communicates with a large, plastic laminated sheet of the alphabet, spelling out words and smelling of urine and old crow. or the bums that sleep strewn all over the porch when i open, alone, at 5:30 in the morning.

i have finally come to terms with the fact that i'm going to be driving an obscene amount come fall. manchester is in the middle of nowhere(seriously, it's through 25 miles of corn) i'll be living in brighton(omg super retarded) and john will soon be moving to royal oak. oh yeah, and college, thats in ypsi. getting cut off from mom and dad hurts so, so badly.

5/9/07 07:40 am - i'm the epitome of public enemy

this weekend john strucel and myself travel to the land of chicago to couch surf at chris's and get emotional in the third row of bjork. i can't believe we are actually going to be within like a 20 ft. radius of her. fucking nuts. i also eagerly anticipate doing some major damage at the chicago H&M.

since this semester wrapped up i've been living at primo coffeehouse 2.0 in ann arbor. due to opening a new store with no new staff, we were all treated to 10-12 hour days for about a week and a half straight. thank god like 6 more people just got hired. come check me out, on the corner of liberty and 5th m-w. yesterday the ann arbor news came and took pictures of me serving customers. wild.

next week MM comes and all i want to do is get a box of franzia and lay in the grass. it's been so long.

3/30/07 06:35 pm - violently happy.

we are going to see bjork, we are going to see bjork in the third row. fuck.

3/27/07 01:06 pm

i live in an apartment complex with a shared laundry facility. better than going to the laundry mat. or so i thought, until today marked at the least the third time that someone has removed my clothes from the washer and placed them in a heaping pile on the floor, soaking, in order to more speedily process their own dirty clothes. of course i understand that these people are far more important than myself, but today i went into a fit of throwing thier laundry basket down the hallway and writing a vulgar note on the washer. jerkoffs.

in other news, john strucel and i are eagerly awaiting the acquisition of bjork chicago tickets. i think are chances are slim, but if we don't get chicago he's assured me he'll go for new york. i just want to see her once. i'm not greedy, i'm just asking for one good show.

i'm going to be on the radio doing a commercial for the new primo coffeehouse location in ann arbor. my bosses have thick, ethiopian accents and find my over-dramatic speech compelling. one of our regular customers runs the talk radio joint on packard, nothing fancy, but i'm bringing twin in hopes that our undeniable quick wit and observational humor will get us our own show. you never know.

3/21/07 11:24 pm

A smile fell in the grass.
I shall not entirely sit emptied of beauties
the gift of your small breath
the drenched grass
Smell of your sleeps, lilies, lilies.

Their flesh bears no relation.
Cold folds of ego, the calla,
and the tiger, embellishing itself -
Spots, and a spread of hot petals.

The comets
Have such a space to cross,
such coldness, forgetfulness.
So your gestures flake off -

Warm and human, then their pink light
Bleeding and peeling
through the black amnesias of heaven.

why am I given
these lamps, these planets
falling like blessings, like flakes

Six sided, white
On my eyes, my lips, my hair
Touching and melting.

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in.
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