Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hungry Mouths

She rose early to check on her children. She remembers those days in the laboratory, conducting experiments, collecting data, staying up until the sun was up, red-eyed, finishing after a long nights work. But she had grown old since then, and now her life was changed. Here she had her hallway and the now dark room full of little sleepers; her bathroom with the ugly ceiling light. Lately she had been thinking, perhaps I should return to academia. Perhaps, now that the children are born, I should take up my old position again, or even a higher one, and probe again into reality’s tiny, but fundamental truths. She switches off the light in her bathroom and returns to bed. There she covers herself up to the neck with her still warm, down comforter. Lying in bed, she is unable to sleep, and finally decides to begin breakfast. Walking carefully down the stairs she is confronted with a memory of descending into that much feared basement lab in Macky. She can hear again that silence that seemed only to be concealing the noise of ghosts and lurking things; she can almost see the painted yellow strip on the floor beneath the last step. And what smells there were there! Thickly perfumed walls soaking in the chemicals of thousands of experiments, decaying carpet, the smell of mold and dust. Why had she come here again? She was looking for a meeting, to make a scheduled appointment, she was going to re-enlist—what joy it would be! But it was so dark here? I can’t seem to find the room. It’s just my lonely old kitchen. Stopping, she lets her eyes adjust to the details. The kitchen is vast, reaching far and low across the long floor, narrow in comparison to its length, with a counter more suited perhaps for a bar. She makes a slow trek to the refrigerator. Nothing but leftovers and milk. She takes out the milk and clumsily searches for the cupboard handle in the dark. Dry goods. She takes down nine bowls, each decorated with the same twisting-vines-and-flowers design, one, the top one, chipped ever so slightly in the shape of an upside down triangle on the pink-bordered rim—this one’s for Mike—; a transparent, metric only measuring cup, and a tan pitcher. Lifting the extremely heavy milk jug, she fills the pitcher all the way, and then carefully measures out a third of a liter for each of the bowls—the pitcher empties quickly and she must refill it several times. Then taking down the giant cereal box, she covers each bow of milk, above the brim, with a thick layer of corn flakes. Finished, she replaces the milk and the cereal box. All is ready for the hungry mouths. She removes nine forks from a drawer, and heads up the stairs towards the children’s room. But in the hall she notices that the sun isn’t even up yet. With a start she looks at her watch. Quarter to five! The kids don’t have to be up for another two and a half hours! She puts her hand to her forehead; what should she do? If I don’t wake them, she thinks, the cereal will surely get soggy. And the stuff’s so goddamn expensive these days! In a panic she flies down the stairs. Taking the cereal box down again, she reaches into the first bowl, which just happens to be the one with the chip, but she stops herself just in time to prevent the dripping handful’s entry into the box. What am I doing? She places the cereal box on the counter, almost throws the handful back into the bowl, runs back to the staircase, returns with a spoon, and in no time she has finished the first bowl. Setting it down she takes up the second, but she cannot finish it. It’s too big. These bowls are at least twice her size, and she is no small woman. Defeated, she puts the bowl down, returns to the refrigerator, takes out the big jug of milk, fills the measuring cup a tenth a liter, pours it into the second bowl, then refills the first to its optimal, and covers both with another layer of flakes. Then, having put everything away again, she heads up the stairs. She’ll just wake those little bastards up! She’s almost in a fury. Throwing open the door, she screams: “Wake up and eat you fucks!” Nine tiny bodies, none taller than a foot, and apparently smudged in some sort of shiny black gloss, fly from their beds, their grinning mouths and sharp teeth swarming and bright in the darkness, they rush out of the room, down the stairs, and in seconds are yelping for more cereal. I can’t go back to the lab, I have to feed all those hungry mouths after all, and what appetites!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Response to the Guy who once commented that I am “a Waste of a College Tuition”

At first I was distraught. Why such a mean spirited an unexpected comment? Who could have done such a thing? A part of me even perhaps wished for all the romantic embellishments that would be mine if this comment were true. Nevertheless I was at a loss for words, and sought escape immediately in the Bourne Ultimatum; after all, what else could I do?

Later, now, I am able to rationalize away this comment. This person is simply nobody from whom I could take seriously any criticism, and this just so: It is all in the language, I am a waste of a college tuition, implying that my relationship to my education is as one reified, the latter nothing but a commodity to which one attaches a specific price-value. Moreover, I too become so; that I am a waste of the value automatically attached to my education cannot mean other than that I too am a commodity to which one also attaches a specific price (one in this case somewhat less than the price of my education). I would, through my paid for education become for example a doctor, or a lawyer, and in this way charge others for even the pleasure of an hour of my time; the cost of my education therefore nothing more but the price paid to be such a ‘thing’ and then only for the consumption of others. Besides, were I simply to assert that I went to college for free, the argument would be wholly invalidate. And still more, if indeed I had learned nothing in college, preferring to drink and fuck and death metal, then at least all I wasted was money (no problem; good Marxist that I am) and not something of value, say, for example, a person’s life.

And so I cannot but conclude that it was indeed my liberal politics that angered my anonymous commentator; perhaps that the character kills the cop just for asking to see his passport, in other words, for no good reason, or that he thinks that this is behavior worthy of emulation. Those liberals always go to college, and, frankly, the things they say, well they offend the sensibilities.

On the other hand, I might beg to be such a waste, on my knees, in the basement somewhere, where pestilence is still able to seep through the ground and drop out from molded ceiling patches in fat drops to narrowly miss my tongue; good thing too, or else I’d be immediately expelled, no longer a candidate for the brave, covered now that I am in metaphysics. There, on my knees, hands even clasped in prayer, beseeching my commentator, deadly earnest, soft dry eyes, before the philosophy begins.