Surrealist Doodle

Surrealist Doodle
This was used as the cover of Karawane in 2006 and I have included it in on a number of bags and postcards over the years. Someone on the subway asked me if it was a Miro. I was very flattered!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Another scene from my accursed novel

By 3:30, Clark decided to give in to his insomnia. He stumbled down to the kitchen to make some coffee. Then he sat down in the dark, mesmerized by the light of the stereo. There was a lot to be seen in darkness. He could see past lives that were more easily forgotten in the business of the day.

Not all of his memories were bad, either. Maybe they should be. People should be consistent. They shouldn't play with your feelings and leave you with ambivalence. They should be good or bad. Period. That would make it easier to love or hate them without any remorse or concern about their feelings or motives.

Clark threw the mug against the wall, embarrassed by the triteness of the gesture, but the movement felt good.

"Why do you always blame everything on me? You know, that's the problem . . . "

"No, that's the problem. The problem is that whenever I bring anything up, I'm blaming you, or I'm nagging, or, whatever. The problem as I see it isn't that everything's your fault. It's that nothing is your fault." She poked her head out the bathroom door and looked at Clark. "Let me put it this way, then, I know us."

"Don't you think we've both changed?"

"Not enough. Look, sit down, let's talk about it this time, ok? Not fight, not get defensive, just let me tell you how I feel." They sat caddy-corner from one another in the oversized red chairs. "I know that I'll want to start leaning on you, and you'll get scared and pull back and you'll get that trapped animal attitude. Then I'll get angry with you and we'll be right back where we were before."

"No we won't."

"Ok, you're right. This time it happens, I'll completely hate you. As it stands now, I'm starting to like both of us. Let's keep it that way." She picked up her purse and started out the door.

"Where are you going?"

It was 2 a.m. when Clark got home. He thought they'd never get the papers done.
He walked into the bedroom without noticing that Maureen was sitting quietly in the dark living room. She didn't say anything to him, either. She looked out the window. Her eyesight and adjusted to the darkness now, and she looked around the room.

Around noon, she shuffled out of the bedroom in a shaggy blue robe and elephant slippers. She yawned and looked blankly at Clark.

"Good morning." It took effort.

"You look terrible."

"Thanks. Love ya. I'll bet you say that to all the girls."

"Where were you last night?"

"Just sitting out here thinking. How'd it go yesterday?'

"You know," Clark said, moving towards Maureen and putting his arms around her, "after this semester I could probably get away for a while--take a sabbatical."

We both know,€ that despite all of your best intentions,€ you're not going to keep any promises you make about spending time with me. So this whole conversation seems pointless."

"So that's what this is about? You're pissed off because I haven't been spending enough time with you, so you're going to get back at me. 'No, that's ok, dear. I don't want you to give up your career for me.'

Bullshit!€ You know, most women would love for their boyfriends or husbands to drop everything for them."

"Look, it's early and I'm not awake enough for a fight right now."

"Well start chugging some coffee, because I am."

Mo woke up early the next morning with squinty eyes and a pained expression, as if there were oil drilling inside her head.

She laughed a little, but it only hurt her head worse. Wouldn't everyone be surprised to see her right now? wouldn't she be surprised to see them, since she was just getting out of bed? Ow. No humor. It was well-known that Maureen never drank and didn't even like the taste of alcohol.

But she had made an exception this weekend. "I just felt so shitty, you know?" she explained to Alice later on the phone. "Every little thing becomes a catastrophe. I decided if I was going to feel so bad, at least I should have a good reason."

The hangover started to wear off, though, as she moved around a little and got dressed. At least she was alone and didn't have anyone harrassing her about her weekend's activities.

She realized that weekend that she was, in fact, a workaholic. Work was all that she really enjoyed anymore. If she was drawing or meeting with someone or staying in an office from sunrise until sunset, it was o.k. with her. In fact, she was known everywhere as one of the most agreeable, hardworking people to be found. That reputation had been a large part of her success.

She had begun to think more and more about her "addiction." Would she end up alone for the rest of her life? Would she end up with eight or nine different husbands, each with a successful life of their own, but resenting a workaholic life? Neither proposition looked very eppealing. Well, ok. She probably wouldn't be Zsa Zsa Gabor or anything, but the prospects of one, healthy relationship didn't look too good, either.She liked the idea of independence, and certainly loved her work, but she knew that there had to be more in your life than just work to keep you from eventually feeling bored and restless with yourself.

Clark spotted Maureen across the plaza. He felt disoriented and couldn't quite place where he was. The plaza, or maybe even a piazza, was like something he had envisioned from a Greek myth. There was a small gazebo, round with white columns, slanting at the foot of a small, but respectable hill. The grass was more lush and green than he had ever seen before, and there were people standing around talking, leaning on tables. He shook his head as miniskirts appeared almost as togas. And yet this place was very familiar, too. He spotted Maureen and walked to her in slow motion and real time. When he approached her, she simply ended the conversation she was having with someone and fell into step beside Clark. Neither said where they were going, the just walked.

Suddenly Clark and Maureen found themselves inside a room. He lay her back on a table or an elevated bed of some sort and began to kiss her neck while tugging her shirt out of its tuck inside her pants. He felt a great melancholy as he did this, as his lips came into contact with her skin. She kissed him back, pulling his face to hers, twirling light the small hairs from his beard into curls. Distracted and without a word, silent as she had been throughout, Maureen stood up and walked out of the room and into the crowd. Clark tried to pull himself together and chased her out into the plaza. Without running or trying to avoid him, Maureen managed to always stay a few steps away from him. She never appeared to hear him--in fact no one heard him call out after her--and eventually, she disappeared into the crowd completely.

Clark continued to look for her, certain that once he was outside of the crowd, he would be able to spot her walking across a park or a field, but it was as if she had evaporated completely, decrystalized in front of him. He suddenly remembered where he was--this was the hill where the Washington Monument stood, the very hill where they had met up after being separated in the middle of the March on Washington for affordable housing. This was the place they always agreed to meet when they got lost from one another. Clark sat down on the side of the hill, scanning the crowd for some sign of what the people were rallying for today.

Over the next three nights, this dream repeated itself in various milieus--on campus, at a faculty party, and in the middle of a Greyhound station. Despite the change of venue, the dream was always the same. A rendez-vous, a tryst that was leading toward sex, but not just sex. It was very emotional for Clark. And then just as they were about to come together, just as clothes were starting to shed, Maureen would become distracted and wander off, as if he had never been there.

This much he knew--that Maureen was probably on a Greyhound right now, "finding herself" in middle America, or maybe dancing on the beach in San Francisco, trying to live a life that she had never lived but always wanted to. He knew it was irrational--what his flaky sister-in-law in all her 12-step self improvement lingo would call "co-dependent", but it hurt him to think that there was so much longing in her that Maureen that couldn't be satisfied in the world they had built up together. And now, no matter how much he tried to reach her, Maureen was now out of reach altogether.

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