Today was one of those days you could hear all the clocks ticking. I sat down after doing the dishes to admire them all lined up in the drainboard, blowing the air past my pursed lips with the authority that says, “What important task am I going to tackle with ease and aplomb next?” but I faltered for a moment and my aplomb gave way to sitting in the chair wondering what I am doing here at all.

In college, I used to fuel up at this one coffee shop for my procastination-induced all-nighters, which would always end with me curled in the fetal postion beneath a desk in the 24-hour computer lab. Before I began this ritual, sometimes I would have the pleasure of buying my coffee from this one guy I considered the hottest coffee purveyor in the entire world. We would make witty banter. “What do you need?” he once asked me. “I need coffee.” I said. “That’s why we’re here,” he said. “On this planet?” I asked. “Noooo,” he said slowly. “In a coffee shop.” I used to think this guy was incredibly sexy and witty, but now I realize he was arrogant and pretentious. I used to like arrogant and pretentious guys. It was my thing. One of my friends, she liked ambiguously gay, floppy boys. That was her thing. Another one of my friends, she liked Eurotrash. Now we don’t have “things,” we have “relationships. ” We say things like “relationships take work” and “communication.” What happened to all the arrogant, pretentious, gay, floppy Eurotrash? Do they communicate now? Are their hairlines receding?

I sat in the kitchen chair, contemplating the dishes, the done dishes, the dishes I had done, pondering my next move. I wondered about why I was there, why I was ever in a kitchen or a coffee shop, but that soon gave way to the kind of reverie my friend Holly once described perfectly and thusly: “You know when you sit in a chair and stare off into space and pretend that you are friends with a celebrity, and you imagine the kind of day you and the celebrity would have together, all the cool things you would do and how cool you would be because you wouldn’t act like the celebrity was a celebrity and someone walks in and you have to explain that you were just sitting there daydreaming about being friends with a celebrity?” I slipped into that kind of reverie. I was on a picnic with many celebrities, and we were having a wonderful time. But that turned into furrowing my brow and worrying about what I should be remembering. I remembered that furrowing your brow can lead to wrinkles and you should not do it. There is one developing there, a fine line. Will it once day become a crease? Will I one day pay a medical professional to inject the world’s most toxic substance (speaking strictly in leathal parts per million) into that furrow and restore the illusion that I haven’t been worrying for decades? I pondered this and furrowed my brow more.

I was pondering and furrowing when I heard the clock ticking, loudly, oh so loudly, I heard the clock ticking with the humming silence all around it, the humming silence waiting for the refrigerator to click on again, and the ticking clock reminded me of time and that it was still ticking as I sat in the chair moving closer in incremental ticks to the moment when only a highly toxic substance would ever be able to smooth the permanent line I would worry into my brow.

The day progressed to the point where I was intermittently staring off into space at my desk instead of in the kitchen. I was working simoultaneously and happily on all my projects at once, making minute but measurable progress on all of them and also researching every thought that came into my head, like “Lenny Bruce” or “nuclear waste disposal.” I found out that I could only qualify for that “Healthy NY” program the insipid New York State governor advertises on T.V. if I could report an income at or below the poverty line. Maybe I’ll have an accident, run up some medical bills and go bankrupt. Then I’ll qualify for affordable health insurance.

I visited many web sites today. Web sites with cookies in them, cookies I will never eat. At each web site I had the option of asking them to “Remember me.” I checked little boxes and clicked little buttons. “Remember me.” It was so plaintive. “Remember me.”

I was soon interrupted by the parent of one of my students calling on the phone. This parent’s name is Marty and he calls a lot. His kid is a brilliant, chronic procastinator. Marty has hired me on and off for several years to attempt to focus the kid. But the kid won’t focus and Marty is at his wits’ end. I love talking to Marty on the phone, because his name is Marty. I lean back in my desk chair while we talk and use his name a lot. “Of course, Marty,” I say. “I understand completely, Marty,” I say. “Well, I’m concerned, but I can only imagine how you feel, Marty, as a parent.” Every phone call is like a movement in the symphony of Marty’s worry. When it’s time to wind down, I try to sum things up. “We’ll all do what we can, Marty, we’ll all work together to take the necessary steps. So why don’t you talk to the teacher, and let me know what she says, and we’ll take it from there.” “We’ll take it from there” is my grand finale. It makes it seem as if after this one little step is accomplished, we’ll really be able to take it somewhere. Of course, what I really mean is that after this one little step is accomplished, we’ll take it to the next little step, or quite possibly nowhere at all.

I took lunch today at the cafe. I thought I’d treat myself to not walking all over the neighborhood buying the ingredients for a sandwich and just let the cafe people make me one. But the cafe people were out of all the ingredients in the sandwich I ordered and instead they ran all over the neighborhood buying the ingredients. The woman who runs the place is an odd character. She seems to own every place on the street–or at least the cafe and the burrito place. But she’s kind of kooky. Like, she talks to herself under her breath in a running dialogue. It’s a little stressful if you sit at the counter. She was making a latte and mumbling to herself. “I hate soymilk. I hate soymilk more than my ex-husband.”

Soon it was time for my yoga class. My yoga teacher is very excited because his yoga teacher is visiting New York and running workshops on the ancient and secret teachings of a sacred yoga book. They implore you to attend the workshops but I don’t, I just go to the classes. I’m afraid of the knowledge in the ancient, secret teachings of the sacred yoga book and must have them mediated through my teacher, who admits that he is a lessor, unenlightened teacher. If I went to the workshops and met the enlightened teachers I don’t know what would happen. Once I took a lot of this green, powdery hallucinogen in a state park and I kinda freaked out because I could hear all the noise of the vibrating atoms of all the matter in the forest but later my friend Greg told me I had probably just turned back from enlightenment and I agreed. I’m just not ready.

In yoga class, after we meditated on objects our teacher passed out to us and tried to see them as being empty of their implications and completed our series of ancient, secret poses, we feigned death for several minutes in complete darkness. All yoga classes end this way. Wussy yoga teachers call it “rest pose” but the cool ones call it “corpse pose.” While we feigned death in complete darkness I again heard the ticking clock, ticking so loudly in the otherwise silent studio. I’d never heard time pass so loudly before.

To add to the noise of time passing and the atoms vibrating (a noise we are all only a green, powdery drink away from hearing), something, somewhere has been beeping all day. I think it’s a smoke alarm that needs to have its battery changed in a neighboring apartment. It’s been beeping for days, every few minutes. Now it’s down to two minutes in between beeps. It’s an annoying little beep–pert, over before it starts. It’s not a beeeeep. It’s not even a beep. It’s a bip. Just when you forget it exists, and you forget that you are being slowly tortured, Bip! I wake up to the bip, I fall asleep to the bip. Who is responsible for this goddamn bipping smoke alarm? Why can’t they climb up on a chair and rip out the battery and give us all some goddamn peace? I have a mind to go in the kitchen a start a fire just to get them to turn off the smoke alarm, but I started a fire in there last Friday and the alarm in our own apartment didn’t even go off, so I know in advance that that plan is flawed.

I finally drowned out the bipping smoke alarm with a DVD of this medical drama I’ve become addicted to. Watching addictive network television drama on DVD is so much more satisfying than watching it with commercials. The action reaches a crescendo and cuts out but then magically cuts back in again. The end comes and if you’ve hit the right button on your DVD player, the “play all” button, the next episode starts right up. You don’t have to watch commercials and you don’t have to wait until next week. Instead, you watch a never-ending stream of fifteen-minute segments of highly unrealistic human drama with no four-letter words. Our country is such a mess of murderous gluttonous prudes. They’ll authorize a meaningless war in a distant land, they’ll scream for the blood of thousands of innocent children, but they won’t say “shit” on prime-time television and thus we are a bastion of civility. Fuck network, man. Even on DVD.

After I had my fill of medical drama, I sat on the couch and stared into space. Again, I heard the clock ticking so loudly I couldn’t believe I kept it sitting there on the desk all the time. I could not only hear the clock ticking, I could hear each tick reverberate inside the face of the clock, just like a heartbeat.

Now I am listening to some classical music to drown out the bipping and the sound of my forehead wrinkle deepening while I write about the ticking clocks. The titles in classical music are so uncreative. This is my fast one, says Mozart. And this is my slow one. And this is my very slow one. And now my very fast one! And this is another fast one, in B flat.

Mozart, man. He must have been pretty great live.

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