Jul 31, 2010

Roman Grimiko: "I was never very good with money.."

It was about ten in the morning.

Roman Grimiko, sweaty and uncombed, waited for his son and daughter to arrive.

He prayed and talked to himself as he loosely scrambled eggs with some butter in a hot pan.

your mother and I will always be okay

For a second he considered making hash, but mindlessly ate the eggs while thinking of things to do with them.

Still he peered into the fridge:

Carrots. Milk. A bean soup from yesterday.

Cold, rare sliced beef.

A small cube of cheese floating unappealingly in its brine.

Mustard. Pickles.

An apricot nectar in a can.

It was all so beautiful.

Can you ever forgive me

Roman had lost his check book over four months ago.

He only realized it was missing this morning. He telephoned the bank (finally, at their repeated request) and wasn't actually certain until that moment which bank it was that he and his wife kept their life savings.

It was bad. Their money was gone. Close to a quarter of a million dollars.

That's close to a quarter of a million things they did and didn't do since 1963 in order to save that money.

Money that no one ever touched, except to pay the few bills they still had.

Roman's checkbook, covered in a cracked, dark red leather case, had always been in the middlemost desk drawer for as long as he could remember.

The checkbook had, in fact, been the only thing in that desk drawer, save for a pen, for well over forty years.

It was a bic pen.

A bic pen that had been obviously chewed on one end.

A bic pen that now rolled freely around the middlemost drawer, happy at last.

Roman remembered right then the pass-code written (for his convenience in his own longhand) on the flap of paper situated right above the checks themselves.

How he could see that checkbook now. So clearly in his mind. He could almost summon it back into the drawer, where it belonged:

back, back, back you go

It was late last winter that the Grimikos needed a new dryer. Of course, this requred a check.

Stan's Used Furniture & Appliances

Of course. It all made sense, now.

The bank had continually asked him to address his over drafts via hundreds of voicemail messages.

Messages he never checked. That is, until today.

Because Roman Grimiko never uses the telephone.

So now he waits. For his son and daughter to arrive.

They would be calm, he thought.

They would laugh. They would remedy this with their computers in five seconds and think he was silly.

Yes. It would be great!

Only, he had to tell them what had happened first.

And the thought paralyzed him.

lord, god, нет никакой возможности избежать реальность!

He poured some cold apricot nectar halfway into a glass, then added an equal amount of vodka. He noticed how the vodka rested on top of the nectar as though it were impermeable.

How, then, the vodka tore through the nectar in a slow, terrible way.

It reminded Roman of egg whites and blood. Of blood separating into several other liquids upon death.

He drank it down.

Right then, keys rattled in the kitchen door and Roman's eldest daughter, Nat, was suddenly in the kitchen sifting through a pile of mail.

A combination citrus and cigarette scent trailed around her. She was noisy even though she didn't say a word.

It was her gum popping; her many bracelets, her cell phone - her continuous clinking and trinkling. Her suntan without any sun; her laugh without any smile.

Roman noticed a huge gold ornament swinging on a narrow chain from her handbag. An ornament that certainly meant something.

Dad, it's so fricking hot in here. Can we please turn on the AC?

Hello, my darling. Is it hot?

Um. Yeah. It's gotta be 90 degrees in here.

I'm sorry, pumpkin (kiss on the forehead), you know mommy doesn't care too much about the heat. I'll close everything up. Do you want some tea?


Okay. I'll get the upstairs windows. Will you check the parlor?

Yeah, so, what's going on?


Why "must we talk" before mom gets home?

Let's wait for Alex, shall we?

Al 's at work. Didn't you get his message?




Did you bring it with you, your computer?

No. Why?

(and less than a minute later)

Daddy. What's going on?

Jul 21, 2010

utter nonsense

Once, long ago, when I heard the sound of the rain coming down through the gutters, it sounded to me like bubbly water trickling across wonderful blue rocks.

You know, those blue rocks that are found in sea-side caves during certain tides?

The blue of the rock being dependant upon the presence of water?

The water definitely being sea water?

The sea water definitely being salty?

Ring a bell?

This, usually while waking up. My head fairly close to the window at the old, old, apartment. The window in question being quite close to the metal gutters. The watery, trinkle-y sound happening whenever it rained.

What I saw in my mind was so very stock footage 2002:

Zen: Four Rocks Arranged In A Non-Threatening Square

Sometimes, in the present day, as I make my way to the office, I'm refreshed by what feels like rain.

We all feel it. Especially if we are walking close to the sides of the buildings where a narrow band of shade gives one the illusion of a reprieve from the heat.

Of course, it's just water dripping down from millions of air conditioners from millions of floors above our heads.

Now, this is not technically weather.

And, the fact that such rain drops (any rain drops) hurtling down at us from miles above doen't kill us is curious, but I never bother to wonder about this.

Nor do I ever bother to wonder whether or not it is actually spit.

Yet, I do imagine such spitters as laughing at us from the safety of their ivory towers, where spitting down upon us is the only conclusion.

They do it because they can. They do it because they have to. They do it with mock regret, music blasting and probably martinis.

It's like these knotted up wads of money that I keep finding in the street. It's broad daylight but no one else ever notices this money but me.

I usually wait until I'm miles away in a taxi cab before I check to see how much money it really is.

I unfurl the found money one crinkly piece at a time.

Jul 9, 2010


I woke up feeling like I had slept for the first time in months.

I'm certain, according to my own made up unscientific notions, that outer regions of my brain do not get any rest until the middle-most portion has gotten it's rest, first.

Such unscientific notions are the very backbone of this operation, gentle reader. Try to keep up?

Imagine a blot of dark ink that travels outward toward the edges of the paper.

This is rest.

For me. For my brain.

It starts in the middle of my brain and works its way out. And there is no skipping ahead to the outer reaches under any circumstances.

Unfortunately, the outer reaches of my brain is where all of the really important, day-by-day functions are located (in my brain, I have no idea about your brain - nor anything whatsoever about real brains).

So, somehow I woke up this morning having gotten 100% rest. For every part of my brain. And, though my dreams were quickly forgotten, the feeling of being 100% rested will never be forgotten.

My Whole Life Became ..Better.


No, thanks. In fact, this bagel and cream cheese can go right out the window.


Maybe for fun. Maybe in Spain. But certainly not right now.

Wash my face?

Why ever would I wash my face in light of such restful sleep?


No. I can finally throw all of these ridiculous (for that matter, terribly decorated) pieces of paper right down the toilet.

As it should be!

That's what I always say.

No. Sleep is my only currency now..

Jul 5, 2010


We had arranged it so that we would have time to mill around our old neighborhood for an hour or so before the picnic.

This picnic was located in what was once practically our back yard. So, everything was weird.

Not bad weird. Just weird.

It seems that all I need is to be tired, or to have had a couple of drinks, or be deep in thought - to find myself walking home, to my old apartment, rather than to the train to this my mom's coach house.

Jesus, this town.

It's the lady who sells books from her stoop.

It's the mean hippies at the old building who, for whatever reason it's still so damned awkward to be around - that you'd think we had had an actual feud (but we never really did).

It's things like the enormous double sided Mickey Mouse face that sat on someone's porch for ten years.

It's the corn cobs forever discarded in the gutters.

It's the rusted bike skeletons chained everywhere.

It's Wigs & Plus and how that they never bothered to make it grammatically correct.

As we made our way down the Milwaukee Blvd,
I saw that certain businesses were not only still going, but had expanded into more than one business - sometimes right next door to each other.

I felt bad that Lenny & Me was open on the Fourth. Still, I was only too happy to show Tom the very whys and hows of Lenny & Me.

It felt like he and I had done this before, but in truth, we never had.

Tom found a sort of semi-circle 1960's Rob and Laura Petrie cocktail bar that he wanted. And a couple of old typewriters.

A typewriter. What would that be like at this point?

A toy typewriter I had had when I was little popped up in my mind. It was blue plastic.

It actually worked.

I would do anything for that typewriter right now.

Wouldn't it be funny to write a book that won a Pulitzer Prize and then to admit that the whole thing had been written on a toy typewriter?

So, Tom & Me were at Lenny & Me.

How much had I bought at Lenny & Me? How much had I sold? How much of what I sold there had been bought there in the first place?

So many skirts, so many typewriters, so little time.

So, we bought a raffle ticket to support art in schools, locally.

The prize? A typewriter.

I should mention that it was so hot yesterday that all of my carefully applied-in-layers deodorant immediately slid off upon stepping out of the house.

So, I smelled, as Sylvia Plath might say, friendly for the rest of the day.

Later, after the picnic, when we got back home and hunkered down in the air conditioned happiness that is our living room, I started the process of finally watching District 9.

I'd been afraid of District 9 for so long that I still can't believe I fell asleep before the movie started.

But I did.

One Fourth of July, when I was seven, we had a huge party. We probably did every year after that, but this one was the first of what I will call the suburban series of such parties.

My dad grilled steaks, shishkabob and bratwurst (which he had lovingly marinaded in beer for over 24 hours beforehand).

My mom made salads, deserts and drinks for everyone.

It was fun.

At some point all the kids piled into our non-air conditioned, but somewhat shady den to watch The Yellow Submarine on channel 7.

I swear that we did this with the same sense of tradition as we did opening Christmas presents or hunting Easter eggs.

The Yellow Submarine somehow got all mixed up with The Fourth of July when I was growing up.

It just made sense.

The whole Yellow Submarine /Fourth of July association was further confused by me at that age with Screaming Yellow Zonkers, which was a popcorn + toffee snack that came in a box.

It, too, was very popular at the time.

As for my confusion (all those yellows) I think it had a great deal to with the very Peter Max-ness of both things (which nobody bothered to explain to me, but was, none the less, very much on my mind).

What was this Peter Max?

Why was it different?

What did Monty Python, The Beatles, Screaming Yellow Zonkers and the 7-Up sign (not to mention a few of my mom's scarves) all have in common?

I wasn't sure.

But something was definitely going on, there.

I was seven.

It was The Fourth of July.

And it was on that day, for some incredible reason, that Mr. Kahnwal decided he was bored (or was it that he was especially fun and clever?) and wanted to go see Jaws.

Just like that.

I mean it. We were right in the middle of eating potato salad, waving off bees and continually changing records when and Mr. Kahnwal suddenly, indugently decided that Jaws it is.

Independant of anything his wife or anyone else thought.

My mom said that we could go with Mr. Kahnwal (though, in all truth, he was going with or without us) and this, too, was wildly unprecedented.

So, we went to see Jaws.

It was something fun and happy all rolled up in something fun and happy.

I cite the Tootsie Pop as the closest of principles to this turn of events.

I should add that, when we got out of the theater, it was just in time to go see the fireworks.

Such was the perfect timing and candy-with-in-a-candy nature of that day.


No. Yesterday was nothing like that.

Nothing remotely like that..

Jul 3, 2010

my dad is bigger than your dad, infinity

How something as innocent as a post about living in one's freezer could become something about (even if only for a few minutes) living in the gutter - or one's own death, is frankly, beyond me.

Furthermore, how this could be purely be a product of my own machinations is, though not completely surprising, shocking, none the less.

To put it plainly, people have been let go from this organization.

Rest assured, it was in the most ugly and abrupt of ways possible. So that the humiliation never be forgotten (as with any successful lay-off, the goal being utter, crippling humiliation - along with job loss, so that the person learns never to trust themselves ever again; that building something is silly; that paychecks are merely fleeting, etc, etc).

They were given pink-slips. Not merely pink, but perfectly pink. We took weeks to pick out just the right shade of pink for our pink-slips.

Meetings were had. The kind with bagels, omelet stations, and, at one point, an oh-so-quiet yet classically entertaining mime.

The kind of meetings where the finest of coffees is catered in (this a result of a polite, nearly whispered request over the phone that is then confirmed over and over to the point of tears via email) in one of those silver-urns-and-white-cloths deals that is dead serious and includes, somehow, miraculously, a cocoa station (the cocoa station that nobody wants to admit that they want). The kind of cocoa station that provides a real-life whipped-cream maker who wears a big puffy chefs hat and does nothing but makes whipped-cream all day long. And is happily at the disposal of any cocoa wanter, if only one would come forward (yet none ever does).

The kind of meeting where everyone is suddenly dressed for recognition: heels, cuff links, shaven and/or naturally unfair-life-bald heads (it doesn't matter) buffed to mirror like shines, nails neatly shaped and now the color of egg-plant, and all wayward threads and lint banished with utter contempt to elsewhere (an unidentified place), with hems absolutely straight, and buttons on so tight that they themselves threaten to save the planet (wholly independent of anything this meeting is meant to address).

And with brainstorming sessions that are nothing, if not hatefully, transparently self-promoting.

The kind where everyone gets at least a few poorly rehearsed words in. Even (and maybe especially) the guy on the speaker phone who (though in Japan, though on vacation) goes on and on more than anyone else.

So, that when the pink of the pink-slip is finally decided upon, everyone applauds and cheers.

So, that when the pink of the pink-slip is finally decided upon, a wheel-cart of cocktails is finally rolled in.

No. I never saw happier people in business.

No, I never did.

Oh, and they're scented, too. Did I tell you that part? The pink-slips are scented.

Ever so subtly like garbage.

The kind that rots in the Chicago sun over the scope of a long irregular summer holiday weekends, such as this one.

Where one's ill-timed garbage might lie in state over the course of more than two (2) days.

It's an ugly stench, to be sure. But, being as we are a corrupt city to begin with, this stench, my friend, is nothing.

That's, nothin', for those who speak only the native language.

That's nothin', jaggoff.


Have another beef samich and shudup, once, jag!

As well:

My dad is bigger than yer dad.

End of story.

And that is the end of almost every story, here in Chicago. Hate to say it.

The thing is, my dad was probably bigger than almost of all of your dads.

And whatever he may have lacked in height or weight (laughs) he more than made up for in sheer, outright incredible meanness.

I promise you, this.

I dreamt about my dead-dad for the first time since he died, the other day.


I'd been waiting for this.

It had been 3.5 years and nothin'.

What was he doin'?

He was building me a ceiling fixture to hold not only my wine glasses, but also my pots and pans. And there was some overhead lighting affixed to it as well.

It was my dad being all like my dad.

And he was pretty big in this dream, too.

So, there.