Waking up around 12:40 p.m.
Catching up on writing.
Double Egg Sandwich with Mayonnaise and Tomato. Popcorn. Orange Juice.
Watching Animal Factory (2000).
Dutched Cocoa Crème Cookies. Green Tea.
Running a few errands then shooting over to Norfolk to rehearse with Suburban Living, Wesley’s band. He’s got a show booked in NY next week and asked me to play keyboards and tambourine. I’m learning these parts for the first time but a few run-throughs of the set and everything feels together.
Afterwards, Elliott and I meet up at Tortilla West for tacos and a game of pool.
Four Black Bean Tacos with Cheese and Lettuce. Modelo.
Originally, Kristin and I were supposed to get sushi after practice but she redirected herself to T-West to hang with her friend Hannah, which I was cool with. But soon after I arrived she started acting strange and standoffish, as if I had done something wrong.
Scooping up Ambrotious from Emily. I offered to babysit him for one night while she moves out of her apartment. I’ve got the cat in the passenger seat and drive back to Virginia Beach. Kristin calls, at first to apologize for acting weird earlier, but the conversation turns sour fast. In this moment I’m thoroughly exhausted and confused at how she views the world, or more specifically human interaction. I guess I shouldn’t expect a uniform set of communication amongst everyone. I do know most people often see things irrationally when under the influence of stress. And I’ve had completely levelheaded dialogue with Kristin before. But under these conditions it’s proving futile. She’s still out with friends so she hangs up and there is no resolve. All I want is to understand and to be understood. My intentions recently with her have been nothing but innocent, simple, and without ulterior motives. And maybe that’s what is bothering her. She’s explained before that rarely can she be just friends with males. It’s an odd inability but this is where the problem lies.
Home. I acquaint Amby with my bedroom. He’s been here once before, and not to mention lived with me for over a year at 1623. It’s nice to have him roaming around and tickling my legs as he brushes by constantly.
I drive to Elliott’s place to help him unload an amp. Josiah makes an appearance. We pull out the bodgiboard that Elliott created – he’s updated it since giving the legs more room to stretch out. We take it for a spin along 16th street.
Afterwards, I drop off my car at the shop overnight and pull out my bike. Riding down Baltic. I stop by Aysena’s house and visit with her for a bit. She’s heading out to Chicago tomorrow to attend Lollapalooza. She seems tired and a little drunk, apparently from hanging out with her friends. We walk up and down the street then sit down on the steps of the foreign exchange student boarding house. The sound of various languages spoken in the background. I’m gentle. We kiss. I’ve tapped into a sweet romantic dream. It’s most likely temporary but who cares.
Riding my bike back down Laskin from Baltic. The hot salty smell of the marshes to my left. The clear levitating sounds of the new Snowden track, “The Beat Comes”, blaring through my ears. I feel empowered and independent. I’m single and drifting through a phase of unbridled sensationalism. I like it here. And I’m legitimately trying to elevate myself above all of this psychological trauma and negative energy. There’s a blunt contrast between stale relationships and this lingering taste of fresh canvas.
Calum texts me out of the blue, “man. i recognize the wisdom of what yu were saying about girls, now. i think i forgot how dangerous it can be to fancy someone.. so vulnerable! my soft pale underbelly.. o dear.”
I respond, “you need some hot soup for that poor underbelly. female toxin is damaging and we can’t escape the pangs of its grip entirely. we can only build armor to defend ourselves. young squire, you will learn one day.”
A bowl of Frosted Toast Crunch.
Sleep shortly after 4 a.m.
[i] All images by me.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 5:58 PM
Waking up at 11:17 a.m.
Plums. Orange Juice.
All day shift at China Wok.
Thank God for the wind and clouds that cool this air and block the menacing heat of the sun.
Coconut Water is my best friend.
A slow afternoon for deliveries. I’m left to myself at least for an hour or so to run some errands and eat lunch.
Grilled Cheese with Tomato. Salt n Vinegar Chips. Honey Green Tea.
I bought a new tape adaptor from Target. While riding around delivering I crank up some nostalgic Coldplay on the stereo. I feel empowered, especially after last night’s pick-me-up. Oh yes, my ego and my center is at it’s strongest...rejuvenated...revived. Now that the distracting sexual desires are quenched it’s possible I may be able to meditate on productive things.
The day turns into night. It’s fairly slow but still steady and the tips are generally good.
Finally off work. I had been in touch with Aysena and suggested to hang out for a bit tonight. I pick her up at 25th and Baltic. Arrive at the house. Darren and Kevin accompany the conversation downstairs.
Tofu with Broccoli, Snow Peas, Onions, and Rice in Garlic Sauce.
I hand over my fortune cookie to Ays, “Here you can have my fortune. I’m all fortuned out.”
She cracks it open.
Me: “What does it say?”
She hands it over. I read it aloud, “Love is the first feeling people feel, because love is nice.” I explode into silly laughter before I even finish. “Oh my gosh! That is the most cheesiest fortune I’ve ever read. I don’t even think that’s an actual quote.”
Darren and Kevin retire to their rooms. Ays and I go for a night walk. The rain taps lightly on the ground so we bring an umbrella. Smoking a clove and traversing the Chanticleer neighborhood. Small talk – getting a glimpse behind our masks.
In her thick Russian accent she says, “You Americans so open. You could say all about you.”
Me: “I’m like that. I’m very open.”
Me: “Do you...do you like me?”
She giggles in reaction.
Me: “Did I ask the wrong question? I like you.”
Her: “Yeah I know.”
Me: “How do you know?”
Her: “I feel it.”
Me: “Yeah you feel? Sometimes you can feel these things. It’s unspoken. You know what I mean?”
Me: “These things that you feel are unspoken.”
Back inside. In my room. Sifting through some of my favorite reads on the bookshelf – quoting some Keroauc lines – entertained by a vintage book called Brush Up Your Russian – she helps me learn a few Russian phrases. We sit on the floor. I admire her long black hair, verbally. She keeps saying how shy she is most of the time. I examine the one tattoo she has on her left arm, an image of a dream catcher with a snake coiled inside. She’s a dreamer and she’s protected.
It’s getting late so I drive her back to 25th. Walking up the sidewalk in a slow lingering fashion. Spider’s webs hung from the trees blocking our movement. Hug exchange by the No Parking sign. I slip my face into her neck and smell, and then sneak a kiss on the cheek. She returns her lips into mine and it’s not just a mere peck, but a generous lather of mouth goodness. I had no expectation or plan for this, nor did I expect a lack of inhibition on her part.
Her: “Bye bye.”
Me: “Bye. I’ll see you later.”
I walk away soaking all that in. I might feel a little overloaded considering the events from the previous night. It seems too close together. It’s a strange feeling. But what can I do...but be a sensationalist and revere these life experiences by themselves.
I hop back in the car and notice my phone lighting up repetitively with calls from Margot. Really? This isn’t happening. And of course only at desperate emotional hours. I can’t answer. I just can’t. Too close together. This is a strain on my sanity and composure. But Margot’s behavior is all too predictable: just one instance of denial or absence and she becomes a persistent little bugger. There’s no doubt she’s in my neighborhood or at my house already. I safely park in another court and step inside my house without giving away my location. There are multiple voicemails.
I decide to call back and make up a story about how I had to drop my car off at the shop and walk all the way back...as well I left my phone at home. She doesn’t buy it at first because apparently she spotted my car on the road. I start doing the dishes and there she is in the doorway of the kitchen. She had a stressful night. Who else could she run to? None other than I, the one whom she knows gives more than two shits about her. I try to be casual and comical to help alleviate the tense mood.
Upstairs, in my room.
Me: “Why did you call me in the first place?”
Her: “I called Chanello’s and they said no so I called you.”
I laugh in response, “What? You called Chanello’s and they said no so you called me?”
Me: “You’re ridiculous.”
Obviously, there’s more to that story. But the only way the night will end smoothly is by allowing her to spend the night. Otherwise she’d be furiously rejected. I’m way too nice. So here I am lying next to a beautiful familiar rose but thinking about a beautiful unfamiliar lotus. Also, the night before...ugh. Too close together. I said this already. Go to sleep, Robert.
[i] Ashkan Honarvar.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 3:06 PM
Wake up at 11:35 a.m.
Plums. Almond Yogurt Bar. Orange Juice.
All day shift at China Wok.
Another hot day. Wearing the lightest clothing possible – sleeves rolled up – 50 SPF sunscreen sprayed on my driver’s arm – ready to tackle the fiery furnace.
A busy afternoon for deliveries.
Two Scrambled Eggs. Five Guys French Fries. Honey Green Tea.
The heat is killing me.
Chugging down on some Coconut Water.
The day turns into night. I am thankful for the sun’s absence and the moon’s presence.
Broccoli, Snow Peas, and Rice with Almonds. PBR.
The kids are getting ready to embark on a road trip to California: Tristan, James Graves, Anthony, Skippy, and Richie. Bidding them adieu.
Darren, Devon, Gillian, and I meet up with Elliott on 35th and Holly to ride down some hills on his bodgiboard invention. Wipeouts are mandatory but no battle scars.
Back home. Eating food around the card table – Darren and Gillian engaging in a good brother-sister powwow.
Apple Fritter Bread. PBR.
Noodling out a new progression on the piano.
Back in my room, unsure of what to do with myself. Gillian steps in. We had actually planned to hang out as I invited her to the house because I thought there’d be somewhat of a party tonight. But I’m glad there wasn’t. We catch up on our respective life experiences and realizations. There has always been a sexual tension between her and I. With this knowledge we both have the opportunity to take advantage of this shared expression. I’m not seeing anyone. And she’s caught up in a malaise of non-genuine entanglements that lack passion. But this evening offers us anything but lack of passion.
“I’m experiencing a lot of urges right now.”
I have the condoms ready. I prepare the body kneeling on the chair before me – slipping the dress up and dropping the panties. And so the steamy scene goes. Fans whirring. Blue lights twinkling. Chair rocking. We both finish in sync then lie down in the bed – my body shaking in endorphin shock.
Me: “I really needed that.”
We discover we both share a philosophy of being sensationalists, something that I’ve always identified with.
Somehow, someway, my member is still full force, still active and ready for more action. It pleases her to continue into another session. This one takes time and repetition. I don’t care so much about the orgasm, just the moment and the pleasure. But I finish anyway and so she does too.
Reflecting on the last time we slept together – how foreign and strange it was for me. It was a bad time, a time when I was fresh out of prison. But tonight was redemption. I feel enlightened. I feel refreshed. I feel light as a leaf taking a patient plummet to the ground.
Good night. 5 a.m.
[i] Kim Herbst.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 9:21 PM
☼ ○ ▬
Engaged in a multi-player game set in a colossal arena surrounded by buildings twenty or so stories high, connected to big empty lobby rooms. I’m considered a top player. The other players running and jumping all over the place shooting rounds like mad men. I know the shortcuts and the hidden paths. I cut corners – swoop up staircases – dive down into deep shafts. I have the ability to fly and maneuver in midair. I turn on the no clipping mode where I can move through the walls and ceiling unnoticed. It’s quite a thrill. My adrenaline is pumping. Eventually I’m forced into a standoff with the sinister leader with whom I, even with my expert skills, can’t compete. I even mention this fact out loud. He tickles my scrotum and testicles as if this will weaken and make me feel less than. It’s very uncomfortable.
▬ ○ ☼
Waking up at 11:12 a.m.
All day shift at China Wok.
Peanut Butter Bagel. Chips. Pomegranate Ade.
Kristin’s roaming around Virginia Beach on a thrift store mission. She picks up an awesome holographic wolf picture and drops it off.
Me: “Thanks for the wolves! Hoooooowl!”
The hottest day.
Afternoon deliveries turn into night deliveries.
At the restaurant. While organizing the tickets for some orders that just came through I walk up to the counter and a customer is waiting to place an order. I’m kind of startled because of the customer’s beautiful appearance. But I remember her...
Me: “I remember you. Crab rangoon right?”
She smiles so brightly. I find myself losing focus on what I’m doing. As long as she’s present I don’t think I can regain it. I run across a fair amount of attractive females on the job, but not all of them make me so nervous, just a rare few. There’s time to sit. She waits for her crab rangoon to fry. I start up small talk. Her name is Mariah – she works at Uncle Al’s in Kempsville – she goes to school in San Diego – she’s aware of the serene cliffs on the west coast. My boss hands her the brown bag and she’s off. Well at least I know her name now.
More night deliveries.
Finally off work.
Vegetable Lo Mein.
Finishing The Experiment (2010).
A bowl of Frosted Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
It’s 3:34 a.m. While attempting to release some sexual steam alone, like I usually do before I go to sleep, I get a few texts and calls from Margot. I don’t answer but it startles me enough that I lose my boner and all desire to masturbate.
Her: “HANG OUT WIF ME. Forrealz dough.”
Me: “what do you want? I’m asleep.”
Her: “I want to hang out.”
Me: “uhh..I want to sleep.”
Her: “No no no. Let’s play.”
I think about this for a minute. Even though I consider it I know it’s not code for sex. We haven’t had sex in a long time. She must be just getting off work and maybe had a few drinks with friends. And now vying for my company is in her itinerary. She arrives shortly after 4 a.m. with a burst of energy that is such a contrast to my mood. Lying in bed together. The polarity of her attitude shifts back and forth from north to south.
Her: “Do you still think I’m cute? I’m not talking about being pretty. I know I got that. But am I still cute?”
Of course she’s talking about her child-like antics and behavior.
Me: “Yeah of course.”
After some bickering and chitchatting I’m able to fall asleep. But why did you come over here? Her previous little boy experiment failed so I know part of it is she’s just drawing back to who she feels comfortable with: me. But you didn’t even want to bang? You come over here, halt my chance at sexual pleasure, bicker at me for irrelevant reasons, steal my sleep hours, and you don’t even want to fuck? Yeah, I’m annoyed. But at the same time relieved. It’s probably for the best. However, I’m single and not seeing anyone so I don’t see the point of restraint. Oh man, I fantasize about how amazing it would feel to open up the gates of our inner passion prison and let loose everything. God, how I want to smother myself in her bosom and, to put bluntly, fuck her brains out. But discipline is good. And assuredly there will be another opportunity to indulge my imagination tomorrow night...alone.
[i] Wolves. Image by me.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 9:13 PM
☼ ○ ▬
My death has been announced. But it’s understood clearly that when I die my spirit will be allowed to roam around just like my body would with all my senses in tact, however no one will be able to see me. I’m lying there in a makeshift coffin, the lid propped open, hovering above my lifeless shell. Next to me is Thomas Jefferson. He gives me the rundown as apparently he’s still been roaming the earth since he died. I arise. Picking through a container of thick green leaves to feed a strange breed of koalas behind a fenced in field. I reach out my hand. One of them nibbles on the leaf I’m holding. The edge of the ocean. Various animals swimming below me. Horses. Dogs. A black dog. I reach out my hand to rub his head affectionately. It accepts the gesture.
▬ ○ ☼ ○ ▬
My mother has died suddenly. I become enraged as I walk into what’s understood to be my house. Yelling and throwing a ceramic owl across the room. Trying to compose myself. Later I find out she did not pass yet and she’s being revitalized by a doctor. I see into the living room and there she is on a hospital bed. I’m relieved.
▬ ○ ☼
Waking up at 1:11 p.m.
Plums. Orange Juice.
Anthony gives me a ride to my car. When casually debating on the most direct route he exclaims, “Everyone’s right in their own way and wrong in someone else’s.”
Grilled Cheese with Tomato. Five Guys French Fries. Pomegranate Ade.
Watching The Experiment (2010).
Learning some Russian.
Adventures in Norfolk. First on the itinerary is the seven o’clock viewing of Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012). Josh and his girlfriend Sierra, Anthony, Kristin, Jonathon, and Allison are present. Whimsical, lyrical, raw, and dreamy are everything that this film is. Where the Wild Things Are set in the southern tip of Louisiana. It’s beautiful.
Quick stop at Wesley and Ian’s apartment. The opening ceremonies of the Olympics are on TV. Sipping on a PBR and eating a Swiss Milk Chocolate Bar with Hazelnuts. I’m picked on by Kristin for packing snacks in my backpack.
I start up a mini rant related to maintenance on my car, “It’s such a slow process for anything. It’s crazy how many weeks go by, go by, go by, and nothing gets done. I feel really unequipped. If I had it my way I’d do it right now. But no, I have to depend on OTHER people. I have to trust OTHER people. I don’t wanna depend on other people anymore. Done. Done.”
Anthony: “That was the final line of Pete & Pete, last episode.”
Me: “No it wasn’t.”
Anthony: “How do you know? Prove it, asshole.”
Me: “I’ll look it up. I have a smart phone.”
Anthony: “I bet you could not find the last line of the last episode of Pete & Pete online.”
And here’s what I found: “So that's the story of our ordinary Saturday. If you look at it one way you might think it was a day we'd wanna forget. Look at it another way and you’ll realize why it was a day we'd always remember.”
Walking over to The New Belmont for Art After Dark, an art show featuring Rachel’s and other’s artwork on display along with musical guests, Will Huberdeau and Logan. I run into familiar faces. Kelly Ann Jackson, always one of my favorite people to see in Norfolk.
Kelly: “So where are your friends at?”
Me: “Oh you know, out and about.”
Kelly: “Never leave home without them.”
Sipping on a Blue Moon with an Orange Slice. Everyone dancing to the bumbly tribal sounds of Logan. Enjoying the hazy atmosphere now that I have a little alcohol in me.
Carrying a toothpick that I picked up from the entrance. Kristin notices and protests, “Stop being so Drive right now.”
Outside huddling together with people underneath the small awning and sharing cloves.
Kristin: “I feel like my lungs are shriveling up into black masses!”
Then to Donut Dinette. Anthony, Kelley, Jonathon, Tristan, Leisa, Allison and a guy friend of hers are present.
Two Donuts. Salmon Cake. Fried Green Tomatoes.
The people that parked in front of us left their lights on for two hours. Leisa happened to have jumper cables so we give it a try but after fifteen minutes of running our car we realize it’s something we can’t commit to. But they call for other options. We apologize. I leave them with, “Don’t worry. The nightmare will end. I promise.”
Finally back home.
Sleep 4 a.m.
[i] X-Ray Knit Design. Carol Christian Poell.
[ii] Art After Dark. Photo by Chloe Allen.
[iii] Other images by me.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 9:02 PM
Waking up around 1 p.m.
White Peach. Orange Juice.
Anthony and Kevin are cooking up steaks and potatoes in the kitchen. I sit down at the card table and eat my lunch with them.
Double Egg Sandwich with Mayonnaise and Tomato on a Bagel. Salt n Vinegar Chips. Coconut Water.
Errands...in the hottest day.
One on one basketball games with Anthony.
Baked Tilapia with Onions, Broccoli, Peppers, Mushrooms, and Rice.
Art is having a little get-together at his new apartment in Chapel Lake. I grab the crew and head over there. It’s not a big party, just a bunch of boys, Russian and American, battling in water pong.
Art asks if I’m single.
Roma: “You gay?”
Anthony: “Him and Darren are dating.”
Art: “You and Darren? Oh my god. You choose the worst party.”
Art needed Kevin to bring his iPhone to help him do something.
Kevin: “Oh. I left it at the house.”
Art: “You an idiot?”
Art: “Kevin, you the stupidest person I ever seen.”
Me: “Yeah that’s impossible.”
Anthony: “Something I realized is that Kevin and Richie are the embodiments of Beavis and Butthead.”
I look over at the two, “Ha. That’s so true!”
As we leave, antics ensue to leave Kevin behind. He’s running around the parking lot chasing us down as we swing and swerve. Eventually Kevin gets scooped up and Anthony drives us down memory lane, visiting the old 1623 house and Pinball house, the places we used to live in and get LIVE in.
Apple Fritter Bread. Aloe Vera Drink.
Dropping off my car at the shop – biking back home.
Sleep 4 a.m.
[i] All images by me.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 8:56 PM
Waking up at 1:30 p.m.
Cinnamon Oatmeal with Brown Sugar, Raisins, and Milk. Orange Juice.
Egg Sandwich with Mayonnaise and Tomato. Tortilla Chips with Fresh Guacamole. Pomegranate Ade. White Peach.
Watching Shattered (2007).
Phone conversation with Kristin. I’m all ears to her psychological life crisis.
Picking up Aysena from Baltic avenue. I introduce her to Seashore State Park on 64th. The calm sandy shores of Broad Bay. The sun is just setting. We’re able to catch the last bit of its orange glow in the western horizon. Walking down the trail and through the enchanted Spanish moss forest. Photo op near the impressive mangroves. The half moon shining on the lake. She’s foreign company and this is the first time we’ve really hung out. The Russian-English language collision is fun, especially since I’ve been brushing up on my Russian. There’s a good connection and understanding between us.
Vegetarian Chili. Spinach Salad. Squash, Zucchini, and Carrots. PBR.
Darren and I give James Graves a birthday visit at his house in Kempsville.
Sharing Ice Cream Cake.
Darren suggests a way for James to call out of work...
Darren: “You know what I think the best call-in thing is, is diarrhea. Because you don’t really wanna talk about that with someone and I feel like other people don’t wanna talk about it and they don’t want you to tell them that. You know what man, like, I just don’t know how to tell you that I just have not been able to get off the toilet today. And I feel like that’s enough. People are just like they don’t wanna know about how explosive your shits have been. They don’t wanna know the consistency.”
[Explosive laughter is shared]
James: “I’ll take that into consideration.”
Darren: “Not that I’m all about working for the machine but this is two thousand and fucking twelve, man. Leverage your experience and go work for a fucking health insurance company. I hate to be like this cause I don’t believe it but for real, it’s a dog eat dog fuckin’ world out there and if you’re not willing to do it somebody else will and they will do it for a lot less money than you might be willing to do it. And there’s nothing to stop the machine.”
Darren: “I just want to move around Southeast Asia so I could have a bunch of children with random ass women and then hundreds of years later when like scientists are studying genetic trails there’ll be this random anomaly with white person genes like all over the world.”
Me: “And like someone directs a movie about it too a hundred years from now.”
Darren: “Gattaca 2!”
Discussing the increased surveillance over the years since technology has advanced...
Darren: “But yeah but seriously that’s what I think about a lot, just like, getting off the grid and I feel like the only way to do it now is to move to some like ridiculously third world country. For me it’s just more like, how can something non-consequential be manipulated to like fuck you over? Lame where you can find yourself. I just think it’s creepy and it’s not a society that I wanna belong to where you got these crazy fucking sociopaths that just wanna get in everybody else’s business and they’re just tools. They’re just cogs. And I don’t wanna be in a society like that, especially one that’s so, so, so, so, unequal.”
Darren: “Iceland just hired ten bounty hunters to go around the world and find all of the high end financial execs who started the economic crisis in Iceland. How tight of a job would that be? Yeah I fly half way around the world and try and find some billionaire banker and I’m gonna beat his fucking ass with a pipe and then hog tie him and take him back to Iceland and then leave him in a fucking ice cave.”
[Shock laughter shared]
Back home. Settling down.
Sleep 4 a.m.
[i] All photos taken by either Aysena or me.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 2:59 PM
☼ ○ ▬
A vision of an assortment of installations in nature. A camera pans from right to left hovering over the scene. A tall monstrous tree wrapped in blue string lighting. A symmetrical display of LED fountain lights set up on the shore of a lake.
▬ ○ ☼
It’s a little before 12:30 p.m. and I wake up next to her with sticky skin. I look over and ask, “You doing okay?”
I give her some casual affection – caress on the arm – rubbing her neck.
She asks, “Why are you being so nice to me?”
I reply, “Cause you asked me to. And you need it.”
Me: “I should go soon.”
Me: “If you ever get lonely you know where I’ll be.”
Biking back home in the hot afternoon sun.
In retrospect looking at Margot’s little boy dilemma makes me realize how great of a decision I made in separating. Despite the longing and the slight feelings of missing her I’m grateful to be where I am right now...distant from her.
Plums. Orange Juice.
Grilled Cheese with Tomato on a Bagel. Potato Chip Trio. Honey Green Tea.
Watching Stander (2003).
Learning Russian on Rosetta Stone.
On the phone with Kristin. Earlier she texted me to see how I was holding up and at first it seemed casual but I soon realized it was only a platform for her to passive aggressively bash me. But within the conversation we’re able to be the intelligent and rational human beings that we can only be when we’re not hiding behind a charade of misunderstood emotions. She had made a decision to not contact me at all and I agreed to it. But here we are once again settling up some scores. We dig deep into identifying our individual behavior.
Garlic Roasted Pepper Salmon with Broccoli, Mushrooms, Carrots, Onions, and Rice.
Whiskey Rob calls me. He needs a pack of cigarettes and help moving his trashcans to the curb. I head over there. Instead of just doing my duties and dipping out I decide to sit down on the couch and listen to his story for a change. I’m not in a rush. He’s a lonely depressed man but with good reason. I find out his wife died three years ago. He describes in grave detail the event. He feels overwhelmed with grief. He’s let himself go physically. He drinks. He smokes. His only friends are the various people that deliver his food and the cockroach critters that have invaded his house. In between his sentences he’ll spot one on the wall and spray repellant in it’s direction. He’s not dumb. He’s aware of the terrible state of his condition. I give some helpful input on taking each issue one step at a time.
Me: “You can’t live like this forever. You should write out a list of specific things you want to change. I believe you can turn it around.”
I spend a good 20 minutes or so lending him my ears.
When I leave he adds, “I really appreciate you. You’ve turned out to be more than just an acquaintance and a good friend.”
Me: “Yeah, well that’s what being human is all about. We’ve gotta support each other.”
Before hitting home I stop at a basketball court by Mill Dam and First Colonial to shoot some hoops for a while.
Back at the house.
Apple Fritter Bread. Coconut Water.
Sleep at 3:30 a.m.
[i] Cocoons of Blue Light. Sophie Guyot.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 2:49 PM
☼ ○ ▬
Somehow I’ve conjured up a basketball game with Shawn Kemp, Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan, Mugsey Bogues, and Charles Barkley as players. In a little foyer area of an apartment complex is a half court and hoop. We shoot around and I turn out to be a fair contender. Later in the night I brag to friends about what just happened.
▬ ○ ☼
Alarm goes off at 11:05 a.m.
Plums. Orange Juice.
All day shift at China Wok.
A slow afternoon for deliveries.
Scrambled Eggs with Tomato. Five Guys French Fries with Ketchup. Honey Green Tea.
Catching up on writing at the restaurant.
Pulling off the interstate onto Birdneck road. A minivan putts along next to me in the left lane. At first I speed up in order to beat the stoplight ahead but once I see it turn yellow there’s no use so I slow down and get behind the van. While waiting there at the light the minivan pulls up next to me. A funny man in the driver’s seat gets my attention and gives me the best advice I could ever ask for all day, “Let it happen, brother. Let it happen.” Not sure of what to say back I just laugh and nod my head.
“You know what I mean?” he asks.
I just keep chuckling without responding but in my head I’m screaming, YES! YES! YES! In retrospect it’s something I desperately need to learn on this job. I’m constantly looking for shortcuts and subtractions to save time. But I need to learn to relax and allow flow on the road. Thank you, funny man.
I pass Margot on Laskin road and felt inclined to text her. We’ve had a little bit of text correspondence this past week, but only minimal. Being alone of course heightens my drive towards the familiar. She calls me soon after and requests to tag along on my deliveries for a while.
Driving through a neighborhood, passing a U-haul. Two people mosey on out from behind the back door and attempt to cross the street but halt once I’m in sight.
Me: “See. Bam! Right when I’m passing them they decide to walk across the street. It’s so cosmic out on this road. I’m not even kidding, man. It’s so cosmic, like, I can predict every little event.”
Her: “You’re psychic.”
Me: “It’s not about being psychic it’s just I assume that the worst is going to happen and then it does.”
Me: “I’ve been fantasizing about you lately.”
Her: “You’re weird. It’s been a long dry spell for you?”
Me: “Not really. I’m just saying. You have sex with someone two thousand times it kind of sticks with you...But I don’t want to build up your ego too much so I’ll just say that when I do fantasize about you I just change the subject.”
Me: “And I do other activities instead.”
Her: “Like brush your teeth?”
Me: “No, like read Ralph Waldo Emerson.”
We pull up to China Wok. The deliveries are slow so we just sit in the car for a minute. She mentions how she’s sort of been seeing this guy for a few weeks now. I wasn’t prepared to hear that even though I expected it to be going on. I guess I should be grateful but I can’t fight my insides feeling sick. I hold it in and get irritated when she takes an interest in my personal life.
Me: “No. I don’t feel comfortable talking to you about that. You’re not involved in my life anymore.”
She takes offense and walks out.
My body is shaking a little bit. How did she just come along and make me nervous again? I’m not hung up. I don’t see it like that cause I’m not reaching out and pouring my all into it. I would be dishonest with myself to say she never pops up in my thoughts. I believe it’s a form of rejection when you think of someone as free. Why is possession such a strong brick on the human’s back? Control. Control. Control. That’s what it is: a fight for control. Every human crisis involves a degree of control.
Swiss Milk Chocolate Bar with Hazelnuts.
I think I just need to have a good cry. It’s been a long time since that’s happened.
The majority of my tips were extremely mediocre today. Two dollars here. Two dollars there. Exact change. Keep the change. I experience a few infuriating moments towards the end of the shift that cause me to punch the passenger seat in anger.
Finally off work.
Broccoli and Snow Peas with Rice.
Fortune cookie says, “In the midst of a busy life, take some time to be a kid again.”
I open up Rosetta Stone and start up my Russian language course, which I haven’t done in at least a year. I’ve decided I’m going to complete this course over the next few months.
During my session I receive a call from Margot. She sounds like a mess over the phone. Apparently things went awry with this new guy in her life. It’s the same dull story where she moves too quickly. The guy pursues her incessantly and preaches sweet nothings in order to get what he wants. It’s given and then she’s left high and dry.
Her: “You’re probably the last person I should be calling about this.”
She relays the situation to me while crying. I’ll admit it’s kind of a strange position for me. But at the same time it makes sense. I’m the one that she knows will always care. It’s a bond that can always be trusted. To feel needed is something I need too. I listen and give her my opinion.
Me: “You’re in this because you let him in too quick. You need to set some boundaries if you want to avoid situations like this.”
While talking she requests that I come over. Why not? So I hop on my bike and I’m there in a jiff. I lie in the bed next to her, holding and caressing her body. I know her deepest darkest secret and that is to be alone. That’s why I’m here. I offer my presence and that’s all I can do. It’s hot and sticky underneath the sheets. Even with the fan blowing I’m still uncomfortable. But we manage to get to sleep early around 2 a.m.
[i] Ruby James.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 2:29 PM
☼ ○ ▬
An apocalyptic event has taken place that’s caused a psychological transformation of the beneficial kind. Most of the human race has been wiped out but it was purposeful, more like a weeding out. Only the best minds and the strong hearts survive. We branch out in clans creating plans of affectation to start a new way of life on earth.
▬ ○ ☼
Waking up around 11:30 a.m.
White Peaches. Plums. Orange Juice.
All day shift at China Wok.
I text Kristin similar to how she texted me yesterday.
Me: “you ok?”
Delivering into a neighborhood off London Bridge. Compared to yesterday’s stormy rainy day, today feels more like a sunny scene from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. The 1920’s station tinkering out a ripe sunny piano ragtime tune. Oh, it’s a great day.
Tuna Salad Sandwich with Tomato. Salt n Vinegar Chips. Honey Green Tea.
I try Kristin again.
Me: “hey I really care about you and this fragile state of affairs. I understand if you’re trying to not talk to me. I’m sorry I’m so difficult and not simple.”
Her: “Don’t worry about it. I’m totally fine k?”
Me: “I don’t believe that’s completely true but okay. I didn’t like the conclusion to our conversation yesterday.”
Her: “I’m fine. I promise.”
Me: “I’m just really angry right now...at myself. but ill leave you alone.”
Her: “It’s just not meant to be. The universe told me so.”
The day continues slowly...the deliveries come and go.
Finally off work.
Tofu with Broccoli, Snow Peas, Onions, and Rice in Garlic Sauce. Somersault Ale.
Watching Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians (2011).
Fortune cookie says, “It can’t rain all the time.”
Apple Fritter Bread.
Sleep 3:30 a.m.
[i] Untitled #8. Kent Rogowski.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 2:22 PM
☼ ○ ▬
I’m being held hostage in my bed by a man that simply hates me. He lives down the hall from me in this big house. There’s an understood history between us from when I was younger. He’s always lived in this house and ever since I was born he’s held an uncalled for animosity for my existence. The severity of his hateful actions have increased over time. He used to pick on me and make me feel stupid and second rate. Now he’s got me at knifepoint in bed. One of the knives is double bladed and resembles a big kitchen knife. I try to protect myself with my hands and keep pushing his knives away. But he’s persistent on destroying me. The scene kind of fades but continues in various scenarios. I’m stuck. Now I’m running along a pier on the side of the house. I’ve pushed him off the edge onto the ground below. I hop over his body. He’s still alive. I dive into the lake and swim at a stealth level to avoid being punctured by his flying knives.
▬ ○ ☼ ○ ▬
I wake up or at least I think I do. I see familiar objects from my bedroom. The fan blowing. The desk. The dresser. But I can’t move my body. I attempt opening my mouth but the muscles won’t budge. I can barely utter a noise from my throat. My eyes are open. I’m half awake half dreaming. The fear of my enemy still clouds my mind. I hear the ruffling of plastic bags behind me but I can’t turn around to look. I’m afraid to. Eventually I drift back into the dream and finish the scene.
▬ ○ ☼
Waking up a little disoriented at 11:10 a.m.
White Peaches. Figs. Orange Juice.
All day shift at China Wok.
Tuna Salad Sandwich with Tomato. Five Guys French Fries. Honey Green Tea.
Kristin: “You ok?”
Me: “I’m okay. are you ok?”
Kristin: “Yeah. I saw a side of you I haven’t seen last night. It was nice and comforting. It made me realize you are not as big of an ass as I thought. What brought that on?”
Me: “interesting. how did I portray the opposite of an asshole?”
Kristin: “I don’t know you were just very genuine and you got soft. Something I really appreciate. I felt good after our conversation despite the fact that things didn’t work out.”
Me: “I told you I’m very sentimental. and I can be very tender and soft. do you feel somewhat resolved?”
Kristin: “Yeah, it’s a shame. I do. I feel like I can move on and I have completed this. But it still sucks.”
Kristin: “When I went to the wave it was all men and they swarmed over me and tried to talk and dance with me and I was unenthused.”
Me: “I can envision that scene. you know...our story would make a great novel or movie...”
The storm hovers overhead and the rain pours at various volumes. I still don’t have AC so the windows are fogging up easily. Listening to 99.3 FM and letting the 1920’s spirit create the soundtrack to this dreary day. A song called “Moon River” chimes in and it pulls on my heartstrings...
Delivering an order to Corning court. The lady was pregnant this past year and finally had the baby.
Her: “I finally had her.”
Me: “I know I see! Congratulations. What’s her name?”
Me: “Lyric as in L-Y-R-I-C?”
Me: “That is a cool name.”
Talking with Kristin on the phone here and there.
Me: “Don’t you think it’s kind of strange that anytime we have a conversation or see each other it’s raining and storming?”
The conversation is becoming stressful and so is the drive. I haven’t paid any mind to my low gas tank but it’s too late. The car starts sputtering and stalls on Birdneck road. I’m not but 200 feet from the gas station so I jump out and push the car myself. A man behind me offers a helping hand and together we succeed in pushing it up to the pump. Close call. I fill up and continue making deliveries like it never happened.
My interaction with Kristin ended abruptly and nothing feels good about the situation. We’ve been trying to establish a closure that feels comfortable.
Slurping down some Vegetable Lo Mein while I finish my last delivery of the day.
Fortune cookie says, “Happy news is on its way to you.”
Home finally. Enjoying a Pilsner and catching up on my thoughts and doing a few chores.
Earlier Tara requested if we could cuddle again soon. I agreed. She comes over a little after 12:30 a.m. While putting my clean clothes away we chat and catch up.
We watch Immortals (2011) together. It’s over an hour and a half of thrilling dreamy action packed visuals. Afterwards we sprawl out on the bed and cuddle...
Me: “This is what you came here to do.”
She giggles in response. Of course it progresses into something more. Sometimes the word cuddle can be interchangeable with the word sex. After all the mental stress I experienced today this is what I’m drawn to. I needed it despite how cheap it felt, even more so this time than the last two. I need to be honest with myself and go ahead and say I don’t feel attracted to her and the connection isn’t something phenomenal. That’s not to say there’s anything lacking with the sexual activity. In contrast she’s such a calm and low-key presence too, which is refreshing. But I should recognize it for what it is: lovemaking with somebody I don’t know. My affairs feel fractured as of late. I’m lost with an aimless drive.
Sleep sometime after 4 a.m.
[i] The Cosmos of Enlightened Vision. Penabranca.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 1:29 PM
☼ ○ ▬
Yesterday in waking life Anthony told me he ran into Raven in Hilltop. Apparently she was here for the day for a tattoo appointment. My dream continues as such with this setting. It’s yesterday. And somehow Raven is in my bedroom now visiting me. It feels awkward at first but I manage to break the ice...
Me: “I just want to say...um...a lot of time has passed...and I’m okay. Everything’s okay.”
She has that blank smiley face just as I remember. I reach in for a hug and she leans into me without hesitation. It’s such a complete feeling hug. I allow a light clasp of my arms and then gradually squeeze. Everything is resolved in this moment. We let go but she gives the impression she wants more and leans her face into mine. We kiss. But our bottom lips are stuck together naturally from the lack of moistness. I make a joke about it. We pursue further. I realize my bedroom door is open and walk over to inspect. Anthony, Darren, and others catch me from the hallway. Cases for musical instruments are blocking the way for me to close the door. I kick them to the side enough to shut it. Then back to the passionate scene awaiting me. Inside I’m confused at why she’s being so seductive. Everything is so detailed. Her hair. Her stomach. Her skin. Her legs. Part of me knows I’m dreaming so I don’t ask questions. I reach under and pleasure her with my fingers. I’m experiencing such an ecstatic high and so is she.
▬ ○ ☼
Waking up around 1 p.m.
Running some errands and picking up two pounds of shrimp and a fifth for Whiskey Rob.
Grilled Cheese with Tomato on a Bagel. Potato Chip Trio. Pomegranate Cherry Ade.
Watching Rampart (2011).
I’ve been in such a tender state the past few days. I find myself missing substantially, not anyone in particular, just missing. I feel empty, emotionally and spiritually.
The sky cracks open to a torrential down pour of rain. Traffic is slow on the road as Hilltop floods.
At the storage unit rehearsing a few songs.
At College Park All Ages, which is merely a spacey room inside a church. No AC but the fans are whirling and the fresh rain smell permeating the air. Maybe about eleven people are here for the show. This girl Alicia just started booking through this place. A girl with an acoustic guitar under the moniker of Brighter Lights goes on first with some emo pop. Then I, Musicplayer, perform a set with my acoustic – some originals and some covers. It goes over well. I notice Kristin in the audience. I wasn’t expecting to see her but it’s a pleasant surprise. Sharing Cokes and Freeze Pops. Cat Be Damned perform last with their 90’s influenced Modest Mouse style songs.
Afterwards Kristin and I meet at the Waffle House that Becca and I usually meet at. It’s right down the street from the venue. I even invited Becca to join but she had work drama. Sitting down at the usual booth. Our friendly restaurant employees and The Professor nearby.
Ordering Scrambled Eggs with a Biscuit, a Waffle, and Coffee.
Most of Becca and I’s favorite Waffle House characters are here.
Kristin makes fun of me and my daily routine, “Here’s Robert. Robert’s like, Hey I work at China Wok and I just wanna let you know that I pretty much stay up till early in the morning every night and I won’t wake up on my days off till 2. That’s when my day starts but I have to wake up at 11 to be at work at 11:30. It’s really fricken early. Um, excuse me you sound like you’re still living my teenage high school dream.”
I laugh hysterically in response. I show her the picture I just took.
Her: “I look horrified.”
We get into a discussion on image and the styles we choose to associate with in our dress...
Her: “I’ve always wanted to be able to dress a certain way to reflect who I am. I just never had the balls to just be who I wanted to be and dress how I wanted to be and now I do.”
Me: “And this is it.”
Me: “What about me? How does the way I dress tell you about who I am?”
Her: “You look like you’re into an alternative image. You’re not buying into this mainstream like I have to be wearing what the GQ catalog tells me I need to wear to appeal to women. You’re very take me as I am like I’m not trying to impress you.”
Talking about my relational perspectives that were shaped from former relationships...
Her: “You had a lot of time to grow and you were in a really bad situation and part of me just thinks that you’re used to manipulation. You’re used to you being a puppet. I just think that you maybe are like brainwashed that like that’s how everybody’s gonna be.”
Me: “Yeah I need to get out of that mindset. I think maybe psychologically I might see it that way for sure.”
Her: “It’s sad.”
Me: “I think you’re right. I am used to that, somebody manipulating me.”
We get into a coolheaded version of our familiar conversation on the definition of the connection between each other.
Her: “I’m very frustrated with the fact that I can’t walk away that I’m having difficulty walking away.”
Me: “I’m sorry I’m making it difficult.”
Her: “My thing is this right now I just want to invest my emotions into you cause that’s what my heart feels led to do and I think I have to control that. I think I can’t do that because I would be cheating myself out of what my heart was gonna do and the only way to regain all my emotions so...and maybe I am old fashion. Maybe I’m all about finding that one person...”
Me: “Maybe you’re at that stage in your life.”
Her: “I think it’s cheating myself and cheating who ever would come into my life that I continue to be friends with you cause that little piece that I gave to you was never a friend piece to begin with.”
Her: “I felt like on top of the world in the beginning.”
There’s a social conflict of interests.
Her: “I think you’re getting your fulfillment of people already and you don’t need a significant other to fulfill your human contact.”
An upsetting feeling starts to surge in her...
Her: “I feel soooo used. I’m like disposable to you. I’m like a balled up piece of paper and when you decide that you wanna take it out of the trash you just like unravel it and say, it’s time for Kristin time, and then you just close it back up and toss it back when you need alone time.”
Her: “I really want you to...kind of just like forget about me for a while. And I want you to go out and do what you want and I’m gonna do what I want. I just think if we’re meant to act on something in the future it’ll happen but it’ll happen for a reason. I just think for now its not meant to be. I just don’t think any type of relationship is appropriate to have with you right now.”
We migrate outside and she hops into the driver’s seat of her car. The door still open. I kneel down and reflect...
Me: “I’m sorry. I’m just sorry that you have to feel this way and that I’m the reason for it. I’m sorry that I am the way I am. I guess I shouldn’t apologize for being who I am but at the same time my decisions are causing some pain for you. I do think you are valuable and I do think you’re worth it. I just have a lot of things I need to figure out on my own. And I’m sorry for starting something that I couldn’t finish. I wasn’t thinking about that. I was just really excited.”
Her: “Why were you excited?”
Me: “I don’t know. I was just excited about you. You’re a deep person. It’s the kind of person that I want to be involved with cause I’m a deep person too. But I think I need to cool off. I do understand what’s going on and I understand what you’re feeling.”
Her: “I’m not gonna let it make me feel less desirable...less wanted...less valuable.”
Me: “Never. Never feel that way. Of course.”
Me: “I like you. I like your personality. You make me laugh constantly...in a good way.”
Her: “Yeah well I do that. I make people laugh.”
Me: “And you’re sweet.”
Her: “If this is making you sad then why are you inflicting pain on yourself?”
Me: “Cause I feel like it’s something I have to do.”
I try to give a hug but she refuses and says one last thing...
Her: “All you have to do is tell me that I’m worth it and you wanna be with me and that you wanna be with me despite the fact that you need time to yourself and if I could find a way to work you into letting you have time to yourself but no you’re not ready for that so yeah, no contact. And probably most likely gonna reach a point where I’m just not attracted to you anymore. Those feelings are gonna fade away.”
She shuts the door and that’s it.
The kids are getting LIVE in the house, but it’s nothing I can’t tolerate. I lay down the law by calling a curfew for 3 a.m. It works and I successfully kick everyone out.
Later, Elisa has a few friends sleeping over downstairs. Beverly Hills Cop 3 on the TV tower. I hang out for a little bit.
Sleep 4 a.m.
[i] All images by me.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 1:12 PM