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Bout de Souffle
Out of Breath
On Idleness
270
Just as fallow lands, when rich and fertile, are seen to abound in hundreds and thousands of different kinds of useless weeds so that, if we would make them do their duty, we must subdue them and keep them busy with seeds specifically sown for our service; and just as women left alone may sometimes be seen to produce shapeless lumps of flesh but need to be kept best by a semen other than her own in order to produce good natural offspring, so too with our minds. If we do not keep them busy with some particular subject which can serve as a bridle to reign them in, they charge ungovernably about, ranging to and fro over the wastelands of our thoughts:

Sicut aquae tremulum labris ubi lumen ahenis
Sole repercussum, aut radiantis imagine Lunae
Omnia pervolitat late loca jamque sub auras
Erigitur, summique ferit laquearia tecti.

[As when ruffled water in a bronze pot reflects the light of the sun and the shining face of the moon, sending shimmers flying high into the air and striking against the panelled ceilings.]

      Then, there is no madness, no raving lunacy, which much agitations do not bring forth:

velut aegri somnia, vanae
Finguntur species.

[they fashion vain apparitions as in the dreams of sick men.]

When the soul is without a definite aim she gets lost; for, as the say, if you are everwhere, you are nowhere.

Quisquis ubique habitat, Maxime, nusquam habitat.

[Whoever dwells everywhere, Maximus, dwells nowhere at all.]

      Recently I retired to my estates, determined to devote myself as far as I could to spending what little life I have left quietly and privately; it seemed to me then that the greatest favor I could do for my mind was to leave it in total idleness, caring for itself, concerned only with itself, calmly thinking of itself. I hoped it could do that more easily from then on, since with the passage of time it had grown mature and put on weight.
      But I find -

Variam semper dant otia mentis

[Idleness always produces fickle changes of mind]

- that on the contrary it bolted off like a runaway horse, taking far more trouble over itself than it ever did over anyone else; it gives birth to so many chimeras and fantastic monstrosities, one after another, without order or fitness, that, so as to contemplate at my ease their oddness and their strangeness, I began to keep a record of them, hoping in time to make my mind ashamed of itself.



      And that, in the words of Michel de Montaigne, is what inspired me to begin this journal.

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On "On Friendship"
267
Michel de Montaigne goes on about the sanctity of a friendship so true that both parts share one will; a friendship with which he was so used to being one of two that without his counterpart he felt but a half. He also says that this true friendship can only be shared with one person because the self should be given up so completely that there is nothing left to give to another. The reason that I have a hard time subscribing to this is that I do not feel there is a finite amount of love or friendship to be handed out; that is to say, one would run out of friendliness after giving out twenty-five percent to each of four friends, or in Michel’s case, one-hundred percent to one friend. I feel friendship is relative to only each individual acquaintance and should not be restricted or limited based on prior engagement to others. If the former idea were the case, it would certainly be a rarer occurrence for one to take a better liking to a new friend, spontaneous or gradual as it may be, when in fact this happens quite naturally and frequently with most people, especially in adolescence. Why should great friendship be exclusive to only one other person? Eudamidas seemed to have the right idea by splitting his will between Charixenus and Aretheus, who were probably his two best friends and, regardless of whether it was Charixenus or Aretheus that died, either would have honored his good friend’s will. Michel asks rhetorically which of two friends simultaneously asked a favor would receive priority to make the case that there should be one friendship that overrules all others, but this can easily be decided by granting favors in an alternating fashion, a random choice, or any other way that one could determine which friend to help. The notion that only one friend should take priority seems somewhat limiting to a characteristic of human nature that I feel should be shared infinitely.

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The Ham
182
I can't get it out of my head that I'm ham. I'm afraid I'm going to eat myself. It keeps getting more serious. I don't want to snap, but even worse, I'm so hungry for ham. Actually, I want to snap, because then I'll deserve to eat myself.

That's the ham talking.

The ham wants you to hate me. The ham wants you to hate it. The ham grows off of your derision. It grows saltier, greasier, fattier. It slumbers under a birch with the sweat of the sun beading in its blemishes, laughing. The ham has hands to choke you with, teeth to chew you with.

Grab the handle and push the button.

Actually, the ham has hands to hug you with, teeth to smile at you hospitably. The twine wrapped around keeps the slices in place. That will come off later when the ham and I eat myself.

What the ham doesn't know is: We are a turkey.

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Renegade
181
I lose myself somewhere along desert road. Desert road tangos. Wind slaps me, with hitchèd song. Voice, full and tragic, tragedy on mount; Siren at air's expense. It dives in my back, a knife in my shoulderblade, smooth cusp piercèd membrane seething, snarling-gargling crimson saliva. Tackles me, presses, grinds me, lick the asphalt, taste my sand, I own this land. I shape it needs me. I lead it dogs me. I speak Who Am I? Friend nor foe. I swallow curling wind, and song dies, dries.

Desert road fox trots. No, waltzes. Anyway, it dances. I don't.

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Fox Trot Ballad
175
Great. Another stain. Another smudge of lipstick.

I gently rub my thumb over the dark, incriminating red lips on the left shoulder of my husband’s blue pinstriped shirt left in the hamper from days ago. I really ought to confront him about it, but I can’t bring myself to do it. It’s not that simple. The marriage is my security.

Most nights he comes home, he seems so dazed. Completely out of it. Is what he does really that mesmerizing?

I’ve been trying different ways to get the lipstick off his clothes. Regular washing just doesn’t work. I search online for a solution. People seem to agree that blotting the smudge with alcohol and carefully massaging in dishwashing detergent with a finger before washing should really work.

I’m doing this right now.

On the radio is some old American classic, “Guilty.” On the television is the news, France 2, the national station. Over the clarinet interlude, I hear the reporter discussing the recent flux in organized crime. Over the first muffled old verse, I hear the reporter discussing the political unrest in French Guiana.

Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong,
Loving you, dear, like I do,
If it’s a crime then I’m guilty,
Guilty of loving you.

I put the clothes in the wash. Now I’ve got nothing to do for the 50 minute cycle but watch television.

That’s what you do when you haven’t got a job and your husband is out doing whatever he does to make money. This week is a business trip to Algeria. Your only option is to clean the apartment. Rearrange the sock drawer. Wash the lipstick stains out of your husband’s shirts and ties. You do all this with a television blaring in the background. At least you’re keeping up with news at the same time. You hear reporters talk about mafia crime lords, cocaine rings in lower Paris, mysterious strings of murders. You hear the newsman talk about a coup in French Guiana, parties like the Union for a Popular Movement and the Walwari Committee, names like Jose Dorcy and Christine Taubira-Delanon. What this has to do with you, you don’t know. There’s got to be something more to this, you start to think.

But this political babble keeps a mind off of what’s really happening.

It’s when I take the blue pinstriped shirt out of the wash that I realize none of the little household tips I read about removing lipstick ever work. This is the third attempt at a solution. The red smudge is fading more and more. Blurring, still spreading. I can no longer tell if it was a pair of lips in the first place. Really, I don’t remember.

Hah, what if it wasn’t lipstick?

I think about how my husband has been acting rather odd lately. Coming home in silent delirium, he completes his set of default actions. Rather normally, too normally, hanging his overcoat in the foyer, gingerly climbing the stairs, shuffling down the hall, leaving his shoes in the corner by the chair with his watch set on the bureau, tie over the back cushion, on and on. He’s like a zombie, acting but not thinking, ripping into the throat of a victim because of an undying urge, but the mind is elsewhere. I wish I knew where his mind was each night.

Hah. What if it wasn’t lipstick?

Breaking News on France 2. The leader of the newly established and instated Union for a Popular Movement party, Jose Dorcy, was assassinated while on a yacht from an unknown location on shore in French Guiana. Investigators suspect political motives. Well, that usually seems to be the case with politicians.

Assassination. Mysterious string of murders. Political unrest. Flux in organized crime. Jose Dorcy is famous for his strong anti-cocaine exportation stance. A sound clip: “I will not tolerate the illegal drug trade to and from overseas.” The Walwari Party and its close ties to the Radical Left Party in France. All of these facts, just blurred in the background as the stain in the blue pinstriped shirt blurs with each wash.

Hah. What if it wasn’t lipstick?

What if my husband came home with blood on his shirt?

I do a quick search for household tips on removing blood from fabric. Dab the stain with hydrogen peroxide. Let it sit for a minute, then dab with a towel soaked with cool water. Then wash.

I’m doing this right now.

I’ve got a 30 minute quick-wash cycle. My love, my marriage, even my sanity could be jeopardized depending on the outcome of this half hour. While the machine fills with water, I hear the reporter discussing the possible link between drug trafficking and the assassination. While the agitator agitates away, I hear a crackly but famous French classic. And when this half hour is over, if it is indeed blood and not lipstick, the stain will be gone.

Si tu n'étais pas là
Comment pourrais-je vivre
Je ne connaîtrais pas
Ce bonheur qui m'enivre

And then I might have a bigger problem to deal with.

It’s all coming slowly together in my head. And I don’t want it to.

Say my husband comes home every night, almost always with a new bloodstain on his shirt. He’s gone the entire day, and when he comes home, he seems depressed. Unmotivated. Out of it. He is all too vague about his job. He votes liberally. He doesn’t like discussing the mafia. In fact he turns the television off when something is mentioned. The mafia, the blood, the politics.

The business trips. Algeria, Lebanon before it. Switzerland, the United States, Japan, and the list keeps going. I’ve never gotten a souvenir. I’ve never even been invited. “They’re business trips. If you want a job with the company, I suppose I could pull some strings,” he says sarcastically. His coming home and going out are as mysterious as the motives behind the assassination of Jose Dorcy. “Besides, you’re expecting. Why start working now?”

How convenient for him! I wouldn’t be able to do anything anymore. Keep the mother occupied at home with the child so the mob hits can continue.

It’s all come together. He’s a hitman. It’s all making sense. The unsettled territory in south French Guyana, that’s where they produce the cocaine that shipped to the Parisian drug rings. That’s how the mafia wins their income, and throws bribes to the political left to keep their supporters in power, keep the exportation laws unchecked.

That’s why my husband had to kill Jose Dorcy.

That’s why I’ll never get a souvenir from Algeria.

The laundry is almost done and I’m waiting anxiously for that buzzer to go off. Ah, there it is. I dig in. This is it. The moment of truth.

The red smudge is still there.

I toss the shirt back on the ironing board, and return to my computer. I need to find another tip on how to remove lipstick.

Everybody chases rainbows,
Looking for a bluebird blue,
Most of us in time find rainbows,
Funny, dear, what love can do.

If I don’t get this lipstick out of his shirt, my husband is going to figure it out. He’ll know I’ve been wearing his shirts. I need to get my mistress’ lipstick out before he notices it tomorrow morning.

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lead into gold
056
->Ich heiße Flicker

slip swipe
flicker
juggle mash

->
->
->dot dot dot

->dispense. eject. vend. deposit.
shift, fuzz, static, crackle,
flash blink flicker crash

I give, I take lead into gold
Destroy, create, and make and make
fall [inhale] smash

->
->
->dot dot dot

->cash, receipt, I card
venial iniquity
->card card card card
juggle/shuffle, slip/shift

sweep SWEEP sweep SWEEP
scrrreech swing smash

->card card card card
flicker
->card card card card
flicker
->card card beeeeeeep

I shred lead

->
->
->dot dot dot etc.

->Ich heiße Flicker

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