Sunday, September 16, 2007

Swim Like Hell

I rarely find life annoying anymore, just people and departments. The department of motor vehicles, for example, or the English department. I've been a deeply annoyed person. I suppose, though, I've changed. The old me would have quit the job; the new me, would have schemed to find a way to Mexico. I think most writers are schemers at heart and all the writers I love--like Kundera--are mythical schemers. After all, Kundera presented the world with the term "erotic friendship", thereby giving husbands the world over a new, lighter paradigm for adultery.

Annoyances--do you ever put them in your writing (beyond this blog, I mean?) I've been exploring my annoyances more and more lately, just plopping them here and there, into my poems, blogs, stories. My last story began as a diatribe against the man who hangs out in the sauna at the Y, the man who sits there and stares at me, who licks his lips. I hate this guy. He's been a thorn in my side for a few years. So I started writing about him and voila he's a character in a story about a cook and his ghostly wife! Don't ask me how I made the jump from Sauna Guy to ghost.

"I escape my life, but I gain my life..." That reminds me of a quote from one of our favorites, Bohumil Hrabal, when he writes about reading books "in the blissful hope of making a change in life." Every time I open a book I hope for change and usually, if I follow through, from the first sentence to the last, I am rewarded. When I was young I sought out certain books, books I had heard would change my life, but soon enough I realized that every book was changing my life. The simple act of reading a book is enough--I'm not even sure the book matters, although some books, obviously, have had more lasting impact than others. I don't think this is an escape at all. For me books bring me right into life--like you say, "I gain."

I have many doppelgangers by the way. They never guide me elsewhere, but always back to myself. I can't escape myself. I'm too narcissistic.

I've been ridiculously busy lately, but I'm feeling confident, full of verve. It's great to write like this because I stop tinkering, I stop thinking about how bad I really am and I just write.

Reading Kundera. Need another Hrabal book. Turning 31 tomorrow and commencing upon a self-proclaimed "Season of Triumph" with a few friends. Basically, from September 17th to Thanksgiving Day, we're going to eat right, work out hard, and generally kick ass. I've threatened to publicly humilate the friends who lapse.

Also, something a bit odd happened yesterday: I went body-surfing in the ocean off Brigantine, NJ. It was a beautiful day (sunny 75 degrees) the water was warmer than the air and the waves were perfect. I caught three, four spectacular waves--waves with tubes, fat, cresting waves! At one point I stopped to catch my breath, looked down, and saw a four-five foot shark swimming towards my leg. It bumped me, I screamed like a little girl (the people on the beach verified this fact) and I jumped away. Then I looked down and saw the ridiculously frightening dorsal fin, sinking into the water, the body curving towards me.

I swam like hell. By the time I got back to the beach I was entirely out of breath. My heart was bursting out of my chest. The few scattered people on the beach stood up and started walking towards me. Karen nearly ran into the water. I just kept saying, over and over, "Fucking shark, fucking shark."

Here's what's weird: Before I got into the water I looked at Karen and said, "Watch me. This swim will be my most emblamatic swim. This swim will symbolize our impending season of triumph!"

Funny how I've spent the entire summer thinking about sharks. Funny how I told my friends I wanted to get bitten by a shark, that I thought it would be incredibly cool to get bitten, that I
actually wanted a shark-bite, like a sort of tattoo.

Anyway, I think it was a blue shark. At least it looked like one.

This encounter has struck me. I feel like I've met my animal-spirit, face to face. I called him and he came. I'll spend years figuring out what he wanted to tell me.

For now, though, the message is clear: swim like hell.

Wish me luck.

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