You think I’m banal? Read this. Really: read it. (Via Jonah at the Corner.)
And now the Bleat, in a similar vein.
I awake, as is my preference. My waking had, as usual, the pleasant quality of surfacing from one world to another, with the gradual abandonment of one state for another, a trading of realms whose various attributes have merits in eternal opposition. In the sleeping state, one might be conversing with Descartes on an iceberg, while walruses provide hors d’oeuvres on the points of their tusks; in the real, physical state, one finds one has wet the bed again. But to wake is to be born, one thinks, and a certain amount of fluid is present in either case.
I turn off the alarm system, entering the simple digits that inform a distant computer they need not send the gendarmes around, then make my way down the stairs one at a time, savoring the smooth run of the banister, the steady, predictable procession of one step after the other, pausing at the landing to note the weather outside the window (it is light) before continuing into the kitchen. I begin most of my mornings in this house in the kitchen, the womb of the house. The sausage is in the freezer, which would be the uterus, if you drew it all out in a diagram. I open the refrigerator door, which gives the slightest resistance before opening, then swings out with ease, and reach for a bottle of grape juice, le vin de matin. I drink straight from the bottle as I have done for years, and when I am done, I issue a low rippling belch not unlike the lower notes essayed by the brass in a Berloiz overture. The coffee maker stands to my right, which is to say to the north of the refrigerator. I turn on the coffee maker, which I had prepared the night before. I had ground the beans as fine as possible and added water, which I would use to draw coffee from the ground-up beans. I am not wearing underwear. I have not worn underwear for years. That caused problems: once when I was trying on new pants in a changing room and had a fainting spell (when I came to the staff was taking cell-phone photographs) and once when I was skydiving and neglected to wear a belt. The wind was invigorating.
At 8:20 AM my wife leaves. She leaves earlier than I do, but sometimes we leave at the same time. The French have a phrase for this. When she leaves she drives to the north, and sometimes I see her car as I walk back from the bus stop. Sometimes I phone her as she drives away to ask if she has read my column yet. She will tell me that she barely had time to read the front page, and asks if I have combed our daughter’s hair. Even if I have not combed it enough I say that have, and she usually can tell when I am not entirely forthcoming about the precise number of strokes. She’s almost always right, but before it gets to that point I make a static-sound with my throat, as if I am breaking up, and I close the phone and realize she will have forgotten the matter by the time she reaches her office.
I finish breakfast at about 8:35. I have a small container of yogurt while I read the newspaper. While I do this I am breathing. Then I open up my computer and plug it in and begin the day’s avoidance of writing. I write a great deal every day but I spend as much time not writing. I work less in offices. There are too many distractions there. You are always getting calls from some place called “H-R” about places you visited on the internet where Czech women remove zebra costumes to reveal plentiful bosoms. So after I have finished not writing at the kitchen table I go to my studio to not write some more. The journey makes me feel as if I have accomplished something, and I note that the stairs work the same way going up as they do going down. This was something the ancients knew, and understood. I believe it gave them comfort.
My latest book is an account of old American popular culture. I am writing it because I think for an American citizen there is nothing more important than to lecture Americans on something I see and assume no one else does. The idiots. I am not anti-American. I cannot stand the American prejudice against America. I consider myself a scanneur terrible – a man who digitizes pictures at much higher resolution than required. I like to think I manage to change things, like the sheets, which come to think of it are still damp. Like any successful scanner, I’m 99% someone else’s work and 1% photoshop tweaking. That’s enough. For instance, I think I helped identify the role of celery in Art Frahm’s painting, and thus prevent loose panties from hitting the floor.
I’ll let you in on a secret: I never, never put the seat down. I know it’s odd, but I find the idea of touching the thing repugnant. For a while I used oven mitts, and burned them.
I don’t gargle, and my wife doesn’t gargle either. The only time I would gargle would be if I had to use a salt-water remedy to combat a sore throat. That happens once a year at most, and even then I don’t swallow.
In Fargo I’ll have lunch at the Denny’s, near my old home. It’s not open anymore. It closed in 1982. I always sit in the parking lot and have a hamburger. No Coke. Even if I see old friends from school, I prefer to brandish a weapon and tell them to get the hell out of my sight before I shoot them in the f*'ing leg, or en pied. Sounds a bit remote, doesn’t it? But the life of a hamburger eater is private, and when I am eating I wish to concentrate, lest you bite down on one of those small pieces of bone that occasionally get into the ground chuck and break a crown, and then you’re screwed, and unless you brought your cell you can forget about the person at whom you pointed a gun giving you the name of a good dentist. Sometimes I get a cell signal in Fargo. Two bars are good. One bar often means the call has an unacceptable level of static.
In the evenings I go downstairs after being upstairs and after dinner I go upstairs again, which is a change from being downstairs. I write until it is time to stop writing and then I stop writing. I go to bed late, after 2 AM. I assume a prone position. I’m obsessed by the idea that I must sleep as flat as possible. The only thing I won’t talk about is my dreams, because they are all about Margaret Thatcher taking a bolt cutter to a wild loose firehose and I do not know what they mean. What do I want to do in the future? Write more pieces like this, and get paid for them.