1. Wet Laundry Lessons

    This is the hottest place in Brooklyn. No, this is the hottest place in New York. No—the Earth. 

    You’re really regretting not dropping off your twenty pounds of dirty clothes. You’d normally drop them off and do something productive, maybe watch four episodes of Seinfeld, but you got home from work early and wanted to save money. You do the math, and find that you are saving maybe ten dollars. It’s costing you an additional ninety minutes of your life, folding time included. You remember back to when you were single and you never folded clothes. You’re not particularly sad or happy about it. Your clothes are still always wrinkled. You realize you aren’t really saving any money.

    After forty minutes on ‘NORMAL HIGH TEMP’ your clothes are still not dry. Your own general dampness, caused by the hell-heat of this hell, persuades you to give up and hope things are dry enough to not foster life on them while in the darkness of drawers. You are distracted, busy remembering how a floormate in college, freshman year, had shoved his wet laundry away, assuming it would somehow dry. This was discovered only when his roommate almost vomited upon accidentally opening the wrong drawer. You also remember that this same man, the one with the wet clothes - not the roommate - purchased a case of damaged grape juice, forgot about it, and then celebrated its fermentation by staining the Ryors fourth floor’s toilet bowls pink. 

    A kid has appeared. He sits in a stroller and absentmindedly plays with the unseen objects within a bucket on his lap. You think it might be Lego. You catch him staring at you as you fold your boyfriend’s pants. Suddenly, you are aware of your technique, aware that this kid might be studying you, might draw on this experience in the future when he is folding the clothes of his boyfriend or girlfriend. 

    You examine your work. The table so far is a little sloppy; you had been distracted, lost in thought about the guy from Nigeria who didn’t know how to dry his clothes. You think that thought and then wonder if it’s racist, but then remember that you are in the middle of teaching this stranger kid to fold jeans. 

    You are folding your boyfriend’s jeans, which you fold differently from your own jeans, because he likes them folded in a way that you would qualify as ‘dumb,’ or maybe ‘stupid.’ (Because it’s a small enough thing to qualify as ‘dumb’ or ‘stupid’ without causing a fight.) Anyway, you fold them by grabbing the seams of the cuffs of his pants, pinching them together, and then folding the whole item into thirds. This creates an artificial pleating effect, which some people - not you - enjoy. The child observes the entire process, and you hope he will remember it, for better or worse. 

    You fold t-shirts in a way that makes them look at first like the actual letter ‘T’ and then like the letter ‘r’ and then like ‘—’. You fold underwear the only way you can, which is appropriately half-assed. You pair socks with their mates in an exaggeratedly fast motion, a no-show whack-a-mole, hoping it will impress your student, this stranger kid who is still watching you, in his stroller, even though his nanny has put food on his lap.

    Only he isn’t watching you. He’s watching someone else, a spiteful looking woman with waist-length gray hair and rower’s arms. You question if she is a woman and then wonder if that is a sexist thing to question. Why does it matter if she is a woman? You remind yourself that you’re lucky to be a cisgendered man. You question if you really know what that means, and promise yourself to google it later. (You don’t.) 

    The nanny has taken the kid’s food away and he’s staring back at you so you fold some dress shirts with a technique that mimics the one used on your t-shirts because as soon as you get home you’re just going to hang them up, anyway, but you don’t want this stranger kid to think you’re a slob who throws unfolded shirts into laundry bags. And then he yells at his nanny, “Hold this, mommy,” and you question if this Hispanic woman is this kid’s mother, or if he’s just verbally confused, and you wonder if this is racist, and, if it is, has the laundromat made you this way?

    You finish and start packing up, loading things by category in an order that seems logical. Maintaining the shapes of folds is pretty hellish if you think about it, which is what you’re doing, because your kid is watching you. Wait, did you just think of him as your kid? You realize that you did. What does that even mean? Does it mean that you want to have children? No—no. What it means is that you don’t want to have children, but you still want to have an impact on the lives of children, no matter how menially. It means that you want this kid to fold his clothes a certain way for his whole life, and not realize why, until one day he is in his forties and he is folding his pants in a dumb way, a way that creates these really problematic pleats that he has to iron out every morning, and he remembers some guy in a pink shirt staring at him, maybe a little creepily, and folding pants so deliberately that he couldn’t help but think of the technique as universally lauded, the correct way to fold pants. You are securing your legacy through your own begrudged laundry practices. But then, you think, is that really any better or worse than some other method? 

     
  2. 18:19

    Notes: 374

    Reblogged from bookavore

    image: Download

    bookavore:

very interesting combinations

    bookavore:

    very interesting combinations

     
  3. Outback days

    Her huge back deck overlooked so much rainy country. Water waited beyond the trees, deceptively far, the depths of the hillsides hiding the true distance from there to there. The weather-proof screens were like rear-view mirrors that way.

    Or is it vice versa?

    She was his grandmother, and had been a contortionist in an Australian magic act. They toured the globe, so they said. The family, I mean. I had never heard of her boss, a supposedly world-famous magician, and apparently when she told me I still didn’t hear of him, because I cannot remember his name, not even with Google to correct my misremembering.

    Christmastime is funny fourteen-thousand miles away. The sun visits. Seafood replaces ham, lamb, and beef. The Christmas lights are still there, though they compete with near endless daylight. I was reminded of the lazy July lights of my Ohio neighbors, but it was December. Oh well.

    One morning after lunch, a day or two before Christmas, we worked to busy ourselves until dinner, or at least until tea. We joined his grandmother in cutting up raw chicken breasts into inch-by-inch cubes. When we’d finished we rolled up half of the weatherproof screening and placed the meat about six inches apart, all in a line, on the deck’s foot-thick railing.

    Only now do I realize the unnatural cannibalism of feeding store-bought chicken breast to wild kookaburras.

     
  4. twenty six has been too long and not long enough

    When you’re born in California
    you never stop to consider that, maybe,
    in two years you will ride in a truck 
    with bags full of Carl Buddig lunchmeat 
    toward a place with no ocean.

    You never stop to consider that, maybe,
    now is the time to inspect your uncle’s eyebrows
    and see that they are a map
    to your own sudden anger.

    You never stop to consider that, maybe,
    your parents must leave California for a reason
    that could pass for an OK b-plot
    to an episode of Miami Vice
    if only they had ever lived in Miami. 

    When you arrive in Ohio
    you never stop to consider that, maybe,
    stars are not born and raised only in California,
    that they are born literally everywhere,
    especially in your head.

    You never stop to consider that, maybe,
    it is not a great idea to use CK One
    even when only as a starter fluid
    for flaming G.I.s in your literal
    and figurative closet.

    You never stop to consider that, maybe,
    when your father cruises into a roadside ditch,
    the depth of which is still being measured today,
    it might be more about the man behind the wheel
    than the two boys in passengers’ seats.

    You never stop to consider that, maybe,
    when your ruby-faced rube neighbors begin to blow
    literal and figurative smoke up your ass
    about the primacy of team sports,
    it is coming from where once there was a fire
    that has long been put out.

    You never stop to consider that, maybe,
    a Playstation is worth more than a dime bag of weed
    even if you are selling it
    to your own brother.

    You never stop to consider that, maybe,
    calling it quits for your career in peewee and
    opting instead for a virtual life of skullduggery
    would lead to a life of constant in/deflation
    of your waistline and, consequently, your self-respect.

    When you lazily grow your hair long
    you never stop to consider that, maybe,
    your teachers are justified in cornering you
    in the painted shadows of the arts room
    about whether you are or are not currently under the influence
    of anything other than pure and natural
    school spirit.

    When you go to college in pursuit of journalism
    you never stop to consider that, maybe,
    social awkwardness is not a passing symptom of teenagery,
    and that it could possibly be detrimental to a career
    at the New York Times.

    (You never stop to consider that someday you will know someone
    who works at the New York Times.)

    You never stop to consider that, maybe,
    for the next four years, the rooms you enter
    because of a series of electronic decisions
    will decide the rooms you enter
    for the rest of your life.

    When you go to that west side party to see that band
    you never stop to consider that, maybe,
    the most important thing of that night
    will have been making eyes at the drummer,
    and not the fact that your best friend
    had tripped several times
    in front of all of the cool kids.

    You never stop to consider that, maybe,
    leaving Athens a few months early
    is like pulling the trigger of a gun
    pointed at the head a happy puppy.

    When you move to Australia
    you never stop to consider that, maybe,
    it was a bad idea?
    No, no, you do,
    but you tell yourself that at least it would end up
    as an OK story to tell to strangers
    on the Internet.

    You never stop to consider that, maybe,
    the big white car in the little driveway
    should not be so foreboding as it is.
    OK, OK. You consider that, too,
    and cash in your savings,
    which had been meant for application to temporary citizenship,
    for a flight back to Ohio.

    When you arrive back in Ohio,
    you never stop to consider that, maybe,
    there is beauty in the gray and brown
    of the trees, and that maybe living
    from midnight until two in the afternoon
    is how monsters are born.

    (You never stop consider that, maybe, 
    humanity would not be humanity
    if we were not always wondering
    how much better things could be.)

    You never stop to consider that, maybe,
    the people in Wal-Mart who laugh at the Chinese man
    buying several dozen pounds of corn on the cob
    have more things to laugh at than you
    and your stupid denim shirt.

    You never stop to consider that, maybe,
    publishing a letter of desperation,
    to a site filled with desperation,
    is not a way to convince a respectable employer
    to transform you to a respectable employee.

    When you move to New York City,
    with ninety dollars in your bank account,
    you never stop to consider that, maybe,
    the movies are untrue,
    and living on the couches and blow-up beds
    of your more successful friends
    is not a glamorous way to make a living.

    (You never stop to consider that, maybe,
    it is not even a glamorous way to make a story.)

    When you get that coffee job in Australia,
    you never stop to consider that, maybe,
    that could be the key to everything,
    that milk and beans would allow survival
    in a city of non-survivors
    and that maybe that house party
    with the pig-nosed drummer
    who took you to Sydney
    where you would learn to pour milk into hearts
    would be responsible for bringing you here
    to a place with a man with a nose nowhere near that of a pig
    where you listen to Thelonious Monk
    in a Brooklyn brownstone
    while drinking organic and artisanal and direct trade coffee
    as a pork shoulder braises in hard cider
    and you don’t even care 
    that you have become a certain type of person.

    You never stop to consider that, maybe,
    everything leads to everything else, and that life
    does not have
    line
    breaks.
    And that things work out, even if that is not so much romantic
    in a literary sense.

    You never stop to consider that, maybe,
    Sunday is the day that you were born—again,
    but that that doesn’t matter, because so were
    so many other people.

     
  5. image: Download

    Jo Ann, cracked jaw.
Earlier, I asked what she did today. She said,
“I looked outside, but I didn’t go.”

    Jo Ann, cracked jaw.
    Earlier, I asked what she did today. She said,
    “I looked outside, but I didn’t go.”