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Monday, January 25, 2010

I’m Listening As Hard As I Can

I’m listening as hard as I can, but the silence is deafening. Why won’t you talk to me? Don’t you have something to say to me?

Every once in a while I hear a tiny whisper; a little murmur, as if you were trying to say something, trying to communicate, trying to form a union or meeting of our minds, but I can’t understand you.

Won’t you please speak up?

I know you have vast knowledge and important things to say. I know you mean well and have my best interests at heart. I know you love me, but why can’t I hear you.

Won’t you please speak up?

In my mind I imagine we are talking and smiling and laughing together, but I can’t quite catch your drift. What are you saying that is making me laugh? Why are you smiling? Your thoughts are not clear to me.

Won’t you please speak up?

Sometimes I feel as if we are passing in separate canoes down a raging river shouting something at each other, but the roar of the rushing waters keeps me from hearing you, and it keeps us apart.

Won’t you please speak up?

Sometimes I feel like we are strangers passing each other on our way home from work on a rainy evening without a word or a nod of greeting. I know you know me, and I know you. Why won’t you recognize my virtue? Why don’t you say what is in your heart?

Won’t you please speak up?

There are times when I feel alone, yet in the back of my mind I know you are there. Can’t you feel my desire? Don’t you know I want to embrace? Where are you? Don’t leave me here all alone. I need to know you are there and that you care.

Won’t you please speak up?

Is this the way it is always to be between us? Will out petty prejudices and hang-ups keep us apart? Are we never to know the beautiful music we could make together as we interact? Have you no mercy?

Won’t you please speak up?

Sometimes when I am asleep, I dream that we are together; gathered in a beautiful field of nature’s grand design. And we are holding hands, and talking to each other and singing sweet songs of happiness.

In my dreams I can hear you. I can hear what you are shouting to me. I agree. It’s time we came together. It’s time we made love, not war. It’s time we stopped our petty squabbling about different traditions we do not even remember the reason for. It’s time we remembered how we started, and that in the beginning we were of one desire. Together we can make a difference. Together we can change the world. Together we can make something wonderful happen.

It’s time we both spoke up and made a new beginning.

Can you hear me?

Monday, January 4, 2010

CHAPTER 13 – STUD -Excerpt Johnny Oops

Adult Language and Situations

I’m home from France, two inches taller, well tanned, six pack abs from swimming in the ocean each day, and fifteen pounds of muscle heavier from Mama Gellet’s cooking. To tell the truth I’m a good-looking seventeen-year-old stud with a very positive attitude.

My folks can’t believe it. They think I’m ready to go back to college. We put our heads together and came up with the University of California in San Diego and a major in Humanities. The school finally accepted me after much pulling of strings by my Dad and a glowing progress report from Doctor O’Hara. He said my perspective on life and my emotional stability was now superior to that of most of the weirdo’s whom the school matriculated. I’m really proud, I think.

I decided to approach UCSD as the domestic version of the French Riviera. After all, the climate is similar and they are both near the ocean. Granted it’s a different ocean and Danielle and her friends won’t be there, but I intend to have fun anyway. Oh yes, I will take my studies seriously, but I don’t intend to let them occupy all of my time. The new Johnny Oops is going to be a social animal for a change.

Life seems a lot more relaxed here at UCSD than at Harvard. The kids are less intense. I guess I’m less intense. No one seems to spend much time going to class. Surfing and boozing appear to be the order of the day. I’d never been surfing before, but it came naturally to me. I guess all that swimming in the Mediterranean left me primed and ready for a surfboard. Learning how to drink turned out to be a totally different story. I come from a long line of Wilbert men who have proven time and again that they cannot hold their liquor.

It all started innocently enough. I joined the Sigma Phu Fraternity in an attempt to fit in and make my parents proud of what a social animal I have become.

“Daddy, your son is no longer a philosopher nerd, now I’m a social drunk.”

I was in a dazed stupor at a Saturday afternoon booze fest to celebrate the coming of the weekend when one of my fraternity brothers dared me to jump off the second floor porch of the Frat house. My inhibitions decimated by 3 whiskey sours, I happily complied shouting, “This is the life.”

I broke my right leg. That was the end of my surfing career. I was driven to the University hospital by two of my fellow fraternity brothers who were so drunk that the emergency room attendants at first thought they were the patients. It’s a miracle we got there alive. The doctor in attendance put my two buddies in temporary detox and proceeded to x-ray my leg, which had snapped in 2 places. He then set it in a cast, which ran all the way up to my hip saying, “The more immobilized you are, the safer I’ll feel.”

A student nurse helped him apply the plaster. Jennifer is a knockout with typical blonde California good looks, a body to die for, and a dazzling smile.

While Jennifer and I were waiting for the plaster to dry, I invited her to the Saturday night party at the frat house.

She laughed and said, “I might as well. Someone has to drive you back and show you how to maneuver your wheelchair and your crutches.”

I guess I was a little zonked out from the painkillers by then because I remember mumbling something about, “why don’t we use a stretcher, that way you can have me flat on my back where you want me.”

I woke up in my room with a terrible headache and Jennifer still in her nurse’s uniform stroking my forehead with a damp washcloth. The guys in the house thought this was the coolest thing ever. Three of them volunteered to jump off the porch next Saturday.

Let me tell you about the amazing Jennifer. Being a nurse and all she is very practical and scientific in her reasoning. After I had recovered a little she suggested that we spend the evening in my room talking as I really wasn’t in any shape to go downstairs and party. That made sense to me. We talked and talked, mostly about me, and my experiences as a philosopher genius.

I told her about Dialectic Spiritualism, my summer in France and Danielle, leaving out any reference to Alice or Harvard. She told me about growing up in San Diego, about her parents and about her life and her friends. She claimed to be a Buddhist, but I must have dozed off. I awoke with a gigantic erection that in true nurse fashion Jennifer ministered to with warmth and kindness. I never had to move a muscle, well, only one muscle. Blew my mind. I thought I was still dreaming.

I’m beginning to think there is something wrong with me. I try to be a philosopher and to go to school and study and to be a good son to my parents, but all I do is have sex. There’s got to be more to my life than this. Oh well, until I’m mature I guess I’ll have to settle for what I’ve. It’s not so bad. I can handle it. I’m pretty tough. After all I’m a philosopher genius, and we are prone to leading really mixed up, sexed up lives.

Jennifer and I spend a lot of time together. She’s a lot of fun. She has taught me a lot about Buddhism. I think my karma has definitely improved and I’m on a course to a personal nirvana. The Buddhist theories on rebirth fit in nicely with mine on the alternate realities I may live in. I’m just pursuing my chosen course of study.

I signed up for a course called ‘Recognition’ during pre-pledge week. I must have had too many champagne Mimosas before registration at a rushing breakfast where they try to show you how great fraternity life is. I thought this was a course designed to teach you how to deal with the public once you become a public figure. I’m sure I’m going to be famous.

‘Recognition’ claims to put in touch with your inner self: the real you, your authentic self. The course tries to get you to examine why you act the way you do, and how you can change all that by gaining a better understanding of who you really are. The class goes on and on like that until a minor hangover can become a major headache. I’ll never drink before I register for classes again.

The teacher running the course is a Professor Flex, or Mr. Fixit, as his few graduating students like to call him. To show you how popular this course isn’t. I was one of only 4 students out of a student body numbering over 10,000 to take the damn thing. The good part is that the professor seeing the small size of the enrollment decided to hold classes at his house on Tuesdays and Thursdays at four o’clock in the afternoon, which was when I usually played Hearts at the frat house. He probably saved me a fortune. I gamble just about as well as I drink. In this case I’m not sure it’s genetic. Anyway his wife served tea and hard as a rock chocolate chip cookies, and a miserable time was had by all, but I learned a lot about myself. Much of what I learned I didn’t really want to know, but it’s a beginning.

The good professor insisted that we all expose ourselves totally regarding the major people and events that shaped out lives as a necessary prelude to reinventing the inner self that each one of us according to Mr. Fixit has lurking somewhere deep down within us.

The class consisted of me, an ugly skinny girl named Beth who hardly ever spoke, and a black guy that looked like a cross between Richard Simons and an axe murderer. We called him Bubby. The fourth kid was a no show; too busy having his own nervous breakdown to attend class. Too bad, Professor Flex could have reinvented his inner self and split his personality into quarters.

I was forced to detail the following people and events that had a major effect on my life.

People that shaped my life:

My Mother and Father
Chaplain Bill
Doctor O’Hara

Events that shaped my life:

Becoming a philosopher genius
My mother and father having sex
Inventing Dialectic Spiritualism
Getting kicked out of school
Having sex with Alice
Having a nervous breakdown at Harvard
My summer in France with Danielle
My first blowjob
Learning how to give pleasure
Not jumping off the cliff into the dark water
Finding out I valued my life
Jumping off the porch at my frat house
Breaking my leg and meeting Jennifer

Professor Flex upon hearing this dissertation scratched his head and said, “You are quite a case. More sex maniac than philosopher genius if you ask me, but that’s just what’s on the surface. Are you really, deep down in your inner self, a true philosopher genius or is this just an act to impress the girls?”

I blurted out, “I always thought it was both.”

Professor Flex smiled and said, “See, there is hope for you yet.”

I never knew which way the good professor was going to go when it came to helping us identify our inner self. I later decided this was part of his act to get us so confused that we wouldn’t know whether we were coming or going, and thus perfect subjects to be reinvented as people with worthwhile inner selves.

In my case his antics worked perfectly. I got so confused about who I really was and who I wasn’t and where I was and wasn’t going that I resorted to writing Doctor O’Hara for advice. I told him that I was drinking, gambling, screwing my brains out, and had a professor called Flex who was reinventing my soul. I told him I don’t know who I am any more, or where I am going with my life or whether I’m a charlatan or a guru.

I wonder if the Game Master and the different realities I may be living in have anything to do with my current state of confusion?

Doctor O’Hara wrote me back and sent a copy of his letter to Professor Flex. He told me he was pleased to hear I was doing all those things that make a normal college kid like me enjoy life. He told me to stop worrying about who or what I was. As for the good professor he indicated he was not an accredited shrink and should stop messing around with other shrink’s clients, or he would report him to the Association of Psychiatrists, and tell the University he was practicing medicine without a license.

Shortly thereafter the good professor took an unexpected year -long sabbatical. Before he left he issued all four of us A’s in his class including the sanatorium special who never showed up. And you think I don’t know how to pick my classes.

I’m still a little confused about who I’m and where I’m going. As far as my inner self, I don’t think I’m approaching my personal nirvana quite yet and certainly haven’t reached a defining moment. I guess what you see is what you get. For better or worse I value my life and try having as much fun as possible.

In terms of reinventing myself, at the end of the semester I dumped Jennifer. The relationship had begun to bore me. This was probably a little cruel and uncaring of me, but I thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of power.

I decided to get rid of the sex maniac in me by practicing celibacy over spring break. That was a joke. I never made it through the plane ride home. I ended up under a blanket in first class with a cute stewardess who was grabbing me on a free hop back to New York. Her cleavage was a real turn on. In the tight little uniform she was wearing.

You know having sex in the air is much easier than underwater.

So much for reinventing myself and finding my inner self. I’m not even through inventing myself the first time around.

I think I’m really learning a lot here at UCSD. I’m just not sure what I’m supposed to do with all this knowledge. It’s a little like packing sixteen shirts into a suitcase and then having no idea what to do with them when you arrive at a nudist colony for a week’s stay at a nudist colony.

I did my term paper on the effects of spiritualism on the inner self and got an A. Life is good. My folks are proud of me. I’m proud of me. I’m beginning to think I can fulfill my promise again. I still wish I knew where I’m going. I suppose I won’t find out until I get there. I love this reasoned spiritualism stuff, fits right in with my way of thinking. It’s logical, and gives me something to hang on to in these troubled times.

Remember these words for I am the Messenger: The good Lord gives pleasure and takes it away. It’s not for us to reason why.

I’m sensing I’m about to have something taken away from me again, but I don’t know what. It’s just a feeling, but us geniuses can tell when something bad is about to happen. I wish I knew what and when. The anticipation is a killer. I can’t imagine what I’ve done wrong, but I feel like I’m about to be punished.

Do you hear me God? Whatever I did, I didn’t mean to do anything wrong.

I'm looking for a few people to read my novel in manuscript form in return for their comments prior to publication. If you are interested please indicate in the comment section.


Arthur Levine