From time to time, when I am writing, I have this thought—which I occasionally post on FB:
“sometimes i sit down and i write some shit and i think, holy mother of G-d i am a sick, terrible person. at least i’m thin”
Usually in those exact words . Anyone who knows me knows that i write a lot (despite not having posted here in about a week—srry!), both for a living/school and in my free time. It’s like that quote from Karn’s piece about cigarette smoking in NYC—”I won’t be able to quit. It comes from inside me”
I’ve gotta tell you, the shit i write for work is bad enough (Tamil Tigers, stabbings, rape/murder and a measles epidemic, and that’s just this week), but in spite of or because of this, the shit i write after work is even worse. Sometimes I read through what I’ve written for the night and then i think, motherfucker, i need some valium or a quarter of a xanax or something. Because of course I’m really not writing about these things—I’m writing about a doomed love affair and a laundromat chain and some IED taxi cabs—and yet they come out of me. Which is why if the Kindle ever generates a tag-cloud for fiction, I’ll have to throw myself from the Verrazano Bridge.
Once, in Hyderabad he spent the whole afternoon on the squatter, his knees hugged to his chest and his pants around his ankles, moaning and chain smoking imported Marlboro Lights. We were staying in a friend’s apartment in the old city, another corner affair, just outside the mosque. The apartment comprised a large concrete atrium and several small rooms, with piles of sandals at the entrance to each. In the sitting room where we stayed the heat was unbearable, but so was the noise—we lay under the open windows unable to sleep, plagued by heat and mosquitoes and the constant honking of motorbikes. I remember him whimpering through the keyhole in the door, how I squatted by the bath bucket and watched out of pity while the Bengali doctor fought his way through rush hour traffic. He stayed in bed for two days after that. When it finally came, the shit weighed three kilos
We sat on the bed, cross-legged, a chaste distance between our kneecaps, and talked at length about nothing. He cursed in Hebrew, describing in epic detail the white phosphorous burns he’s seen on the ass of a camel in Gaza City
Lice (a perenial favorite):
Wedged against the wall opposite there was the sort of low metal twin and foam mattress that were his MO, wrapped in a plush mink-blanket, the furious many-armed image of Kali the Black grimacing up at the ceiling. Between her and me were a small company of Technicolor pillows, candy-vomit pink and Gopal blue and mango-pickle green. Pillows the color of zhug and Russian mustard, enough pillows that I started to wonder whether they might have bedbugs, or scabies or lice and whether they were just cycling through.
The merits of Chinese vs. Korean Mink Blankets:
Alexie fingered the lengths of soft plush comforters that hung suspended from the ceiling like brief partitions in an endless hall of mirrors, and frowned. Blankets Plus, like infinitely many outlets rimming the outer boroughs, specializes in the mink blanket, an acrylic and polyester creature of dubious national origins whose pelt is coveted in neighborhoods from Richmond Hill, Queens to Koreatown LA, and on every Indian Reservation between. They lined the walls from floor to ceiling, thick comforters in every color imaginable, stuffed into vacuum-sealed plastic. Minks are cheap and warm; they come from every corner of the earth and retail from $9.99 for Chinese models to more than $200 for the top-of-the-line Korean Kings, and without exception they are worth every penny.
Dying in an Elevator:
We buzzed through the Office’s abandoned green marble interior, and Sammy Kohen hit the elevator call and unwrapped his sandwich of lambs’ hearts and chickens’ kidneys and the elevator arrived, because American life is unbearably banal in this way. We stood side by side, our eyes turned slightly upward but not so far that they might meet in the elevator’s mirrored ceiling. It’s my habit to glance at the security camera on each ride, in case I am trapped or murdered, in case my blue and lifeless naked body is found at the bottom of the elevator shaft, that they will know to make a positive ID. I read the maximum occupancy and the emergency stop instructions. The elevator stopped on the 9th floor but didn’t open.