Saturday, October 29, 2005

Seinfeld: The Broken Glass Episode
My elbow did it:
pushed a glass over the edge to the kitchen floor.

the glass had become two-dimensional and garbage,
while I had become a person with one less glass,
but that's what happens when an elbow

starts making its own pointed remarks
(elbows are you listening?).
It was an asymmetry of the universe,

I was one glass down,
and something had to give.
I started sweeping.

I kept sweeping,
started to dream about pulling glass
from the bottom of my feet, saw blood streaming

chandeliers on the ground
crystals to light my way,
which is how I learned to walk on broken glass.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Cingular Wireless: Raise Your Bar From the Basement
Doesn’t getting a promised rebate also constitute being able to use the rebate? I always thought so, but it seems that telephone companies, CingularWireless in particular, has found additional ways to squeeze more money from the consumers' pocket.

Here’s my story. I renewed my cellphone contract, formerly held with AT&T, which was recently bought out by Cingular. This simple act of renewal was its own nightmare, since for some legal or other convoluted reason, even though Cingular bought out AT&T, their data records and customer base aren’t a shared entity. But I digress.

After weeks of phone calling and speaking to innumerable cheery young customer service representatives reading from various scripts, I finally was able to order my phone, which came with a promised $50.00 rebate. However, when the phone itself arrived, it contained no rebate coupon so I needed to spend additional time on the phone. It turned out that this was a Cingular phone, but it had become tainted by my previous association with AT&T, so the coupon had to be ordered through a different path.

Cingular received my rebate request on 8/15/2005, processed the request on 9/07/2005 and I received the card in early November. I know because I kept the paperwork. It took about three months to get the rebate, but as a trained consumer, I was glad when it came. However, this was not a check, but a card, similar to a credit card. I used it to pay for a meal. But it was later rejected at most other places like supermarkets.

I got on the phone again. Through Cingular’s labyrinthine customer service center, I was able to find out that the balance on my card was $15.76. A cheery customer service representative advised me that I could use the remainder of the balance by “splitting the difference” with another card.

Really, should we have to go through all this trouble to use a promised rebate? I think not. Instead, I feel that this is simply a clever way for Cingular to collect some of that $50.00 multiplied by a lot of other frustrated consumers like myself, wearing down our resistance to corporate greed by making everything difficult.

I protest!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

No. 23
Mike dropped off a hundred t-shirts for me to sell in the lobby of the theater. I saw Lulu skulking around outside with her camera in one hand, and her bounty of t-shirts in the other. Don't ask me where Clyde was. Working some job, I guess.

So I had to decide how to balance my newspaper sales of "Homeless Security" with my new inventory item. Thank goodness the theater owner was some kind of weak-kneed liberal who didn't mind me setting up shop to the left of his ticket window. So many of these owners freak whenever they see a homeless person because they think it's going to drive away customers. As long as I keep myself relatively clean, I never find that I'm a scab on the general premises. Why on the contrary. I think I add an interesting mix to the general boring fare that passes by without so much as a look. In fact, that's what I like about selling newspapers.I play a game with myself about who's actually going to see me without storming by like I'm a piece of warmed over shit. Usually, I'm right. Every 20th person or so I can spot some one in the crowd. What do they have in common? Hard to say. I think it's a zig-zagging aura they've got coming off of their fontenelle's where their life spirit sits. Clyde told me that. But never mind. Time for me to get to work.

"Want a paper? He was relatively tall with cute dreads dangling around his face like a shower curtain.

"I bought one from you yesterday."

"What about a t-shirt?"

"I've got a million t-shirts at home."

"I bet you do. But not one like this." I held up Osama's name on the front.

"Is this for real?"

"Sure. This is a grassroots thing."

He shoved his hands into his pockets. "I don't know."

"What if I throw in something you've never seen before?"

"How much did you say it was?"

I knew I had him. I tied my tongue into a knot and his jaw dropped. "That'll be 10 dollars," I said.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Rondeau for the Lost Lenore
Help me to look, for I lost her there
deep in a field, or on a burnt pier,
stuck between two rotten planks of wood,
not making noise, even if she could,
kicking around a shuttle of years.

Long ago I remember she stood
on a fire trail, wearing a fleece hood
loosely, without covering her hair.
Help me to look.

She's gone so long without eating food,
take-out on-the-run that tastes no good.
I'm not sure if I know how to clear
her heart's basement, look in the mirror
when she sang to the singing blood.
Help me to look, for I lost her there.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Yizkor (Memorial) Service
Yom Kippur 2005

I'm watching darkness
embrace a glittering thumbnail
someone had trimmed and left years ago
for the cleaning lady as it rolled across the floor
into breadcrumbs, cat hair, a tissue blown by the opening door
into a tent of good-bye kisses, yet the nail,
painted glow-in-the-dark still blazing pink,
catches the light and is swept from the room
on a braided tassel,

as I follow the meditation,
but keep wandering to thoughts of my new vibrator,
a molded purple plastic water-proof super glide,
waiting for me at home tucked between my socks and panties,
which I bought the weekend before, while doing food shopping
and going for a walk with my friend and her dog,
the solemnity of making our days count,
well, I want to feel good and I need batteries.
That's how I entered the High Holydays. In a blaze.

Monday, October 10, 2005

We decided to use our existing marketing channels. Granny had the movie theater crowd sewed up, Clyde was going to work the wash-and-dry crowd at the laundromat, and Lulu would concentrate on school cafeterias. But we weren't going to stop there. I was elected responsible for getting the model t-shirt produced, and for designing a Web site to help sell the shirts, and for the ultimate broadcast.

"If we get thousands of people coming out to hear Osama streaming over the web, how's he not going to show up?" I reasoned. Plus, he wouldn't necessarily have to divulge his location, which was key to the success of my plan. I gambled that the opportunity for Osama to speak to a ready-made audience of thousands would be as irresistible as a free-interest loan from the World Bank.

I got busy. I put down my water-bottle next to the computer. First I designed the t-shirt over the Internet, dragging and dropping text and pictures on a handy blank canvas of a white t-shirt. I choose colors, named my date, checking to make sure I wasn't setting a time during Ramadan, and gave the domain name of the site I was building to find more information. Since the domain hadn't been registered yet, I grabbed it: "Hear Osama on, May 20, 2006."

Done. I had a highly satisfied sensation that was similar to winning a superbowl pool. I made a mental note to be sure to provide an audio file so whatever came together could be downloaded. Exhilerated, I took another swig of water. But suddenly, the light from my basement window shimmered before me in the shape of Lulu. Time slowed down. She touched my cheek with her hand. I can't remember anything else, except she set up my networks and made them run. Thank God I'm a geek.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Notebook from the Year One
It's a small room I live in,
but the rent's okay,
a bedroom with two windows,
utilities paid.

I sleep on a couch,
I eat on a door,
when company comes,
they sit on the floor.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

No. 21
"It's the theory of market share pressure leading to groundswell," I explained. "We print up thousands of t-shirts announcing a meeting with Osama bin Laden at a certain time and place, say runs of 1,000 at a time and we finance more runs with the sales of previous t-shirts; sell 'em wherever we can, whenever we can, all we do for the next six months or so is sell t-shirts ; I'll build a web site to help us sell the t-shirts. As members of the t-shirt collective, all of you can pocket a certain percentage of the sales; say two percent."

"Five," said Clyde.

"Five," I said. "Then we take things from there. With millions of people publicizing the event and waiting to hear the biggest terrorist of all time speak to them over a public broadcasting system, how can we fail?"

"We need music," said Lulu.

"And to sell food," said Granny.

Then went out for another cup of coffee to discuss the details.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Content Management System

And while I'm waiting for you in the car like an otter
floating beneath a hood of water watching the sky
pull itself into threads of orange taffy, I swam away
to Chicago and the punch press factory near O'Hare Airport,
where I met Johnnie with mahogany skin and red straightened hair
and Eola from New Orleans who said:
"Life's like powder on a powder puff, just ready to blow off;"
and a woman from Argentina who thought I was pretending
not to be Spanish so I wouldn't get deported,
a time in my life just before three-alarm fires

started to go off and I had to skate down the freeway,

when we ate three-course meals in 20 minutes
and heated food in a microwave that smelled like a roach coach.
I remember when the lugging machine punched a hole through my finger
and the foreman drove me to the hospital in his car where I spent the evening
filling out worker's compensation forms, and worked the next day
anyway and didn't make my quota; something about the thinness of the sky,
the way the airplane balances on a diagonal wire
the way Chow Yun Fat did in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,
walking on tree tops,
which is a good trick if you know how to do it.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

No. 20
Clyde, Granny, and I walked the half mile from my apartment to the theater. People were queued up at the bank window. The street was filled with people sipping coffees, and I saw a hold-out with a cigarette who was blowing smoke. Clyde and Granny had fallen a few steps behind. I began looking around the corner for Lulu.

"She'll be there," said Granny.

"There's another one?" he asked.

"Yeah, and this one has a camera."

"Whoa, baby. We're making the papers."

"Only the ones you're smoking."

"I'm sorry, Miss. You can't take pictures without a permit," said an officer to Lulu who was standing in the middle of the street. "You'll have to move." Lulu kept her eyes buried in her frame. The youngish officer, who judging by the peach fuzz on his chin, might've been a rookie assigned to the school crossing on any another day, stepped closer to her side. "I'm sorry, Miss, you're not allowed to stop the traffic. Cars were queued up behind her, and they were honking their horns.

"Lulu, c'mon," I said, stepping into the street.

"D'you know this woman?" the officer asked. He looked a lot taller once I was standing next to him.

"Yes," I said, taking her arm. "Lulu, what are you doing?"

"Well, mostly waiting for you," she said picking her head up. "But I thought I'd get some footage of how we're supporting the oil companies by driving around at different times of the day, in different light. Great diminishing angles from the corner."

"Thanks, Miss," said the officer. "You can't stand here."

"Geez," she said. "You don't have to go ballistic."

"Thanks, Miss," he repeated, "I'm just doing my job." He stepped aside and started to wave traffic on.

"First you get a college education, then you can't get a decent job, and then they want to arrest you. I think the country is going down the tubes."

"Amen, to that said Granny," who'd finally caught up to us.

"Amen to that again," said Clyde.

Lulu put her camera back into her satchel. I introduced Lulu to Clyde. "Granny knows him. He wants to work with us."

"So, Thinktank," he said to me, rolling back on his heels and winking at Granny. "What's next?"

“T-shirts," I said. "We're going into merchandising."