Monday, November 19, 2007

Solace


Long time. I had visions. Crazy visions. Cities roasting, winds blowing, trees on fire, bullets falling across a flat desert like rain. Headless leaders claiming that their sight was perfect, and that perpetual war was God’s loving choice for us. By the light of divine love, thousands must be slain!

Crazy visions, friend. Highways choked with cars, cities choked with smog, the future choked on the present until it keeled over and expired, splay legged by the roadside, still years from its destination.

Maybe it was the head injury. I don’t know. The other day I was at a bat mitzvah; there was an eight piece band fronted by professional party facilitators, a photographer who could instantly apply your image to a mouse pad, a vegetable buffet set out on skewers in a field of grass so that it looked like a miniature movie set of so much prehistoric foliage awaiting brontosarial jaws.

On the dance floor the facilitators facilitated, and the music was so loud I turned my implant to the lowest setting above complete silence, the one where I could just hear my own voice, and that of the woman closest to me.

“Dance with me,” she said. And I took to her the floor, wading through a thong of thirteen year olds starting the party on the facilitator’s cues.

“Hold me,” she said. “Love me. What’s wrong?”

(AJ says she didn’t actually say this, FYI.)


Midnight I was driving north on the Jersey Turnpike, cruise control set, a venti coffee by my side. A few cars were on the road, their red taillights gleaming and disappearing like stray thoughts.

Where are we going? What can be done? I turn on the news.

”I am an optimist,” the candidate says in the national debate. He points a stern finger at the moderator. “I am optimistic about America. Dammit, Wolf (because that’s the moderator’s name, though really what kind of name is that), don’t tarnish our dream; don’t tell us that it isn’t possible to have everything we watch on the TV because its been mortgaged to pay for the SUV. We’d trade that thing in for a Prius in a heartbeat. We’re gonna start fresh. Look, the future is so bright I’m blinded!” He stumbles off the stage. “Blinded!’

Across the aisle, the other candidates’ debate takes a different tone.

“I will kill the most brown people,” one promises. “No, I will,” says another. “God created the earth and then started killing brown people,” says a third. “Please,” says a fourth, “I’ve been killing brown people since before you were born. Why just this morning I was getting a hazelnut coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts and nailed two of them behind the counter. And look here,” – he reaches into his suit – “my gun is big.”

The moderator whistles. "That's nothing," says another candidate. "I killed brown people on 9-11."

My mother looks up from her sketchbook, where she has been drawing beautiful chrysanthemums in colored pencil. Their irises come in and out of focus, like distant explosions in a hall of mirrors.

“So,” she says “Who do we vote for?”


Click the mouse and there are websites where you can watch videos of people killing themselves.

At a school for the deaf in rural Massachusetts, the first question a senior English class asks me is, “Does your brother Zev feel bad for how he treated you?”

“Let me ask him,” I tell them. I text Zev. “Fuck no,” Zev texts back five minutes later.

”He does,” I tell the class.

In Portland, I have a heckler. A twitchy, nervous gentleman who sits in the front row and shakes his head and laughs in disbelief at everything I say.

“I won’t buy your book,” he says when I'm done, “but here’s five bucks for talking.” He pushes the money in my shirt pocket and walks out.

Five minutes later he walks back in. “I decided I will buy your book,” he says. “But I promise I won’t agree with any of it.”

“Ok,” I say.

”Give me back my five dollars,” he adds.

Brunswick, Maine, I’m watching a high school theater troupe perform Alice in Wonderland. Morristown, New Jersey, I’m in front of an audience of 600 students without any notes. Bed Stuy, New York, I’ve just driven a U-Haul truck into a gate. “Oy,” says a young Hasidic gentleman, “did you hear me say don’t drive into my gate?” Downtown Manhattan, in a radio studio, live on air, the interviewer asks if the Peace Corps had me dig wells because I was deaf and no good for anything else.

How did I get here?

Otis chews his tail until it looks like a Slim Jim. I pull three woodticks out of my chest, leaving scars like bullet holes. Atlanta’s going dry. LA is on fire. They’re striking on Broadway.

And then the news from Africa: In Angola, there is a beauty contests for landmine survivors. First prize is a prosthetic leg. In Somalia, the human suffering now eclipses Darfur according to the UN. But in Congo, the ceaseless civil war has enabled bonobo monkeys to flourish. Bonobos of course are famous for their tireless and creative copulation, for making love not war…and now, beautiful irony, our war has given them the opportunity to make more and more sweet, sweet love!

And finally, in a small village in the Rift Valley, a young boy steps out of his hut, stretches, takes in the magnificent vista, the steep, faraway hills emerging from mist like a herd of jackalope bounding from a streambed. So beautiful, he thinks, so much…how can anything be lacking? How could I ever doubt that the nature of creation is intrinsically good?


Even in its decay is its goodness. In pain is the end of pain. I must never forget this, and if I do, I will forgive myself quick-quick, and remember. I must always try to see this world with fresh eyes.

He scratches a mosquito bite on his forearm and heads to the river. Across the planet, on the steps of the state capitol, beneath azure skies, the governor of Georgia kneels and prays for rain.

3 Comments:

Blogger Jennifer said...

I wish I could come to one of your book events...my friend Abbie is meeting you and Mike Chorost somewhere next week and I am insanely jealous ;). One of these days, perhaps :)
Activation for my second CI is tomorrow...think good thoughts! :)
And I haven't forgotten about the book review...will do it soon!

8:26 PM  
Blogger Carl said...

"Wolf" means "Zev."

12:45 PM  
Blogger jodi said...

YOU ARE BACK!!! Don't stop blogging, your voice is important. There are so many parents of deaf kids who are busy doing what your mom has done for so many years and you are a freaking high power example of what I need to see as my child's future. He won't be you, but I'd sure as hell like him to be a risktaker like you. I love your writing style and your humor - the part about your brother was hysterical:) Keep blogging, your honest voice is needed. PS. Check out Jennifer's activation video - it is amazing!

1:37 PM  

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