back to the Black Table

 This is how it starts, I think.

One of my biggest curiosities about myself, along with my biggest fears, is wondering when I will just drop this whole writing thing Ė if itís even substantial enough to be called a ďthingĒ anymore Ė and move on. Do I think this is going to happen anytime soon? Not at all. I canít fathom such a thing; it would be like living without oxygen, or nicotine, or masturbation. So why is it so difficult right now? I mean, Iím sitting here, staring at a screen, and nothing is happening. And I can concentrate on nothing for more than seven minutes. Five if Iíve been drinking.

(Hey, I havenít listened to that entire White Stripes show I downloaded off Kazaa in a while. God, thereís so much good stuff on Kazaa. Did you know you can download movies that arenít even out yet off Kazaa? Friend of mine watched Punch Drunk Love the other day. Can you believe that shit? I mean, thatís no way to watch a movie, but thatís you can get it on your computer Ö fucking nuts. Hey, look, itís the original CNN broadcast of 9-11. Itís perversely amusing to watch the opening minutes now. Thereís almost a whimsical quality to the newscastersí voices, before they realized what was going on. ďGet this, folks! A plane! World Trade Center! Seriously! Well, the U.S. Open was last weekend ÖĒ Thereís a reason they never rebroadcast that live. Paula Zahn looks like sheíd rather be interviewing Wolfgang Puck.)

To be honest, I havenít produced anything of value in about two weeks. I canít even write a letter to a friend who just left for the Peace Corps in the depths of Africa. How hard can it be to come with something to say there? ďSo, is it true that they all talk in clicking sounds?Ē ďDo they really not wear clothes in the village? If so, is it true what they say about the men of Mali?Ē ďDo you have a cheek ring yet?Ē Yet I canít even do that. The lady moves halfway around the world to do good deeds, and I canít even write her a letter. This is new. This is different. This is trouble.

(Ever hear of Budd Dwyer? Heís that politician who, about to be indicted for bribery, shot himself at a news conference. Absolutely insane. You can get that on Kazaa too. Itís an exhilarating feeling, to be honest, to watch someone about to shoot themselves. Look at his face. He knows what heís going to do. Itís the craziest thing; heís telling the audience to be careful, he has a gun. Then Ö BLAM. If only Kazaa had slow motion. Maybe I can run it through my Real Player. In other news, have you seen that original Spider-Man trailer, the one where the bank robbers get caught in the web Spider-Man spins between the WTC towers? Creepy.)

Is there anything more useless than a writer who canít write? I mean, in just about any practice, you can half-ass your way through something, doing the minimum effort for a day or two, and no one can really tell. But one uninspired column, and itís obvious to everyone. If only I could be so lucky to write an uninspired one. It is 5 p.m. on Sunday. I began this Saturday morning. This is the first sentence I wrote. No, wait, itís this one. No, this one. Itís pathetic, really. Itís not that writing is the most essential trade in the first place, and here I am, too flaccid to avoid complaining how I canít even do something so trivial. I mean, I highly doubt handymen sit there whining, ďYou know, I just canít put together this shelf today.Ē

But nevertheless, here I am, telling you: I cannot produce this shelf today. Not that you care anyway. Not that you really should.

(Some woman just got her leg bit off by a shark. I didnít think thatís what it would really be when I clicked on the title, but sure enough, there it was. I am learning not to underestimate Kazaa. Sheís swimming, leisurely, carefree. Itís sunny. Sheís I like her breasts. And then Ö there goes the leg. Everyoneís screaming, the cameraís shaking, people are jumping in the water. Then the tape stops. That shark came from out of nowhere. I should watch that again; maybe I can catch him coming this time. Slow Ö slow Ö nope. Still didnít see him. Letís see, what else Ö oh, man, people jumping from the WTC. They never showed that on TV. No wonder. When I heard about people jumping from the top floors, I imagined one final decision, thatís it, letís go, a graceful, soothing, swan-like glide, a final act of defiant peace. Thatís not what it was, though. One man [woman? figure?] violently twists, turns, flips, gyrates, no control, here, there, before, then, the strangely dull thud. Another hits the side of the building and splits in half.

Do not underestimate Kazaa.)

When did this start happening? I cannot move. I believe this is called atrophy. I can feel my bones decaying. Am I going bald? I suspect I havenít moved from the couch in two weeks, except to go to work, where I stare blankly at a screen and wait for my company to dissolve. Itíll happen. Has to. They always do. There is a football game tonight. Maybe Iíll watch it. I should write. Maybe Iíll sleep through it. But I should write! Maybe Iíll just sit here and meld with the computer a while longer. Inspiration has to strike eventually, right?

(Thereís police helicopter video. Theyíre above the North Tower. The South Tower has already gone down. I donít know how the pilot and cameraman arenít gagging. Theyíre directly above it now. Then the rumble. Then down it goes. They must feel so helpless. They must want to hang upside down from the helicopter, grab the needle and just pull, goddammit, pull. How the cameraman had the wherewithal to keep filming this is beyond me. Maybe itís an automatic camera, like, attached to the side or something. How did this video get leaked anyway? Why would the police give this up? Because once you give it to anyone, itís gonna end up on Kazaa, everything does, and then some guy is watching in the silent dark on a Saturday night, wondering why he doesnít feel worse, wondering why it isnít bothering him more than it is.)

I am numb. There is nothing there. Believe you me, Iím looking, and Iím telling you, thereís nothing. It is not affecting me. I want to bash my face into the wall. I want to set my leg hair on fire. I want to scream until my throat turns raw and bleeds. Something has to really hurt, right?

This is how it happens. That fire, that spunk, that letís go get Ďem, that hey, what are we all here for but to CREATE? Ö one day, it just vanishes. Itíll come back, sure, in spurts, here or there, but itís never been gone before, so who knows when itíll go again? Without it, everything is grayer, dull, obtuse. Nothing feels good, nothing hurts. Everything just is, uninspiring, trudging forward into powder. It is, of course, meaningless. You know that, right?

This is how it happens; this is why people stop.

May Wednesday be over as soon as possible.



Life as a Loser runs every week. Join the Life as a Loser discussion group at: