Wednesday, February 7, 2007


She lends herself to me just long enough so that I might pour some nonsense into her ears, fill them up, right to the top until the babble spills out, running down those delicate lobes and onto her tiny shoulders. She’s not listening, but is at least going through the motions, putting on a good show with her little nods and slight shakes of the head, her hms and haws. I’m relentless in my talk, I know, but I like her way too much to entertain any sort of cruel expectations of undivided attention.


The incessant clinking of a spoon against the side of a coffee cup finds its way to us from a neighbouring table, and suddenly I’m lost. My thoughts crumble a little here and there, words falling apart, their individual letters fraying at the edges to such a degree so as to render them nearly illegible. Decay. There is decay even there, within my own head, and I’m left with nothing to do but sit back and watch as a sort of ps chic d comp sition h s its w w h the int lectuali n of a th r k

“Hey,” she says.

“Huh? Sorry,” I say, a little stunned. “Think I blanked out there.”

“Tell me about what you’ve been working on lately,” she suggests, lifting the tiny white cup to her deadly red lips. “How’s the writing coming along?”

“Eh,” I say, “It goes as writing does. It looks as though I accomplish so little when the written words themselves are held up against the amount time it took to think them, to log them, to edit them.”

Starting to depress myself a little again, I scrabble for a change of conversational direction, something a little lighter, something a little less severe – but nothing comes up.

“Time,” I say. “It’s a bitch, right?”

She nods and smiles a little, lending herself to me so that I might find comfort in the illusion that someone actually gives a damn. The illusion that someone understands. The illusion that perhaps, just perhaps, I’m not completely alone.

Time. Goddamn time. I think about the last decade and how quickly it slipped by me, which in turn leads to me wondering just how many decades a guy has in him. How quickly would this next block of years fall away? And the next after that? Eighty years seems like a long time until you’re at the end of it.

I get lost in research during my writing, sidetracked to such a degree that I often wind up getting very little done. Immerse myself in stories of lost cities, wandering through the lush foliage around Machu Picchu, or setting off to the underwater city of Kitezh, and the glassy waters of the Lake Svetloyar beneath which it rests. I’ll find myself pondering curious technologies like the seventeen hundred year old Baghdad battery, ancient Egyptian flying machines, or the Antikythera mechanism, a twenty-two hundred year old analog computer discovered in a wreck of the coast of Greece. I’ll read about all of this and can’t help but feel that we’ve done all of this before. Over and over again.

A short block of eighty insignificant years is what we’re given to work with, and there’s this uncontrollable desire to be more than just a blip, this yearning to leave something more behind than just my DNA. I talk and she pretends to listen. To my babble about Teotihuacán, Calakmul, and secret chambers beneath the Great Sphinx of Giza. I talk, and as I do, a crushing wave of nothingness washes over me, stretching all the way from the beginning of time and rushes relentlessly on into the future. I’m speaking into vacant ears, thoughts crumbling away. And she can not understand – because I barely do, myself.

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