Last night I got a call from Beau Blue, aka Mr. Webb, regarding my recording difficulties. He generously invited me down to his place where he has a studio for recording. I hope to visit him someday, though it's not practical at present.
We had a freewheeling conversation about poetry and poets, living and dead, the evolution of the net and East Coast poetic prejudice. Beau is a fascinating man, and I encourage any who have not visited his Cruzio's Cafe to go and see what he's doing with poetry--he fleshes out the recitation of poems by fine poets with animation. He prides himself on choosing poems that "stand up off the page," poems with an immediate verbal impact. "Academic" poets need not apply, but he has recorded Ted Kooser, former poet laureate, among other notables. I'll be honored to join his production if I can just get my recording together.
The crying spell I had yesterday while canoeing I think is a biological marker, as today, around the same time, I teared up. Usually my crying jags come at around 11 AM and 4 PM, but of late it seems the early afternoon has supplanted those traditional times. It's strange the way crying spells attach themselves to certain times of day as biological markers for youknowwhat.
"Positively Bud" installment #4:
Larry stood by Bud's side expectantly. "You want to grab your bag, Bud?" he asked.
"Sure," Bud replied.
"Just follow me," Larry said, and led him through two pristine hallways of white tile and linoleum to a little room with two beds, one somewhat rumpled and one freshly made. "You have a roommate, which is part of the therapeutic process. Your goal is to encourage each other, not commiserate. He's been here a little while and may help show you the ropes. His name is Ken." With that Larry left him.
The room's single window looked out on a hillside where the early morning sun unearthed the violet from the silvery-green chaparral, and all the colors deepened and distinguished themselves, brown-gold tumbleweed, red sandstone, olive scrub oak, and one brilliant yellow sycamore. Bud looked around the room with the same indifference with which he greeted nature. Walls of mint green. Two electric lamps. Bathroom with shower, fresh towels. Thin green carpet. Green corduroy bedspread. He put his few clothes and toiletries away, one thing at a time, trying not to get ahead of himself. He had used up only ten minutes. If he lay down on the bed he might not get up so he sat on its edge. No sign of the roommate. After twenty-five minutes he slowly navigated the gleaming white hallways back to the interview room. He knocked, got no answer, found it unlocked, went in and sat down. He was early.
Troy bounded in a few minutes later with his tennis court enthusiasm. "Well Bud, you're early! That's great-- even better than punctual. How did you like your room?"
"It was OK."
"OK? Only OK?" His eyes went wide with mock shock. "Have you ever considered the luxury of indoor plumbing, something not even Roman Emperors enjoyed, or the pleasure of air conditioning, that even the imperial British lacked in India? And how about that lovely view of the hillside? And your room was just 'OK?'"
Bud almost felt bullied but noticed only a slight increase in his anxiety, if that were possible.
"The room is fine," he said.
"Fine? When you could be sleeping outdoors with the rattlesnakes and scorpions and ticks and mosquitoes? The room is just fine?"
"What more can I say?" Bud pleaded.
"Can't you think of anything better than 'fine?'"
How about, "Better than fine?"
"How about, 'terrific!'"
"Terrific," Bud deadpanned.
"Somehow your 'terrific' doesn't sound 'terrific!"' Troy said. "Let me hear it again. How did you find your room?"
"Terrific," Bud said with just a little more energy.
"How was your room?"
"Terrific," Bud repeated, vainly trying to paint the word with an emotion he didn't feel.
Troy regarded him with sympathy. "I don't think you really appreciate your room yet, Bud. This requires a little lesson in gratefulness." He pressed a button on his desk and Larry appeared. "Larry, Mr. Rose doesn't seem to appreciate his room. Can you find an alternate room for him today?"
"Certainly," Larry smiled. "Come with me, Mr. Rose."
"But the room was fine," Bud mumbled.
"Only 'fine?'" said Troy. "Take him away, Larry."
Larry led him gently by the elbow down fluorescent corridors to a metal door with a small slot near its bottom and a ventilation grille above it. Larry unlocked the door and guided Bud in, then locked the door. "Enjoy," he said and left.
The heat was stifling. He paced out the dimensions of his room and found it to be six-by-six feet. The walls were of corrugated aluminum, hot to the touch, and he could barely reach the ceiling with his fingertips, which was even hotter. The only light came from the grille in the door, spreading a chevron on the floor. Sweat soaked his collar. He took off his shirt and squatted down on the smooth floor where it was cooler. Leaning against the wall he heard the rumble of the thin metal just as his skin registered a burn. Snapping forward to avoid it, he used his shirt as insulation to lean back against the wall.
Bud found the physical hardship not unpleasant, as the exigency distracted him from his inner ruminations. He was no worse off here than elsewhere. He was hot, uncomfortable and in near darkness, but he also had fewer choices and no social contact was required of him. Inside the box he had no sense of time. He only knew the heat was increasing with the approach of noon. The air was thick and hot as soup; he found himself taking slow breaths through his nostrils to compensate. Thirst assailed him but he repressed it.
He sat against the wall for hours, mind adrift, and thought about who he used to be before the darkness descended. But that was irrelevant now; he could no more imagine who he'd been than recollect his own conception. The former man was a mirage, a brief and ignorant exception to the universal rule of futility. "Vanity of vanities," saith the preacher, "All is vanity." But if all was futile, why did he pad the hot aluminum with his shirt to avoid a burn? If all was useless, why avoid pain at all?
"How long has he been in there, Larry?" Troy asked.
"Long time-- going on six hours now-- worst heat of the day."
"And you've heard nothing from him? No wall-banging, cries for water, nothing?"
"Quiet as a church mouse."
"Hmmm. He must have it bad. The better ones take action sooner. How long can we leave him in there without water?"
"You know what the director says: 'Depression is a life-threatening disease.' So policy says it's up to the counselor's discretion, provided the patient doesn't die."
"Yeah, right. So how long before dehydration begins to be serious?"
"I saw one go two days and we had to send him off for IV therapy. But I think twenty-four hours can be solved with oral fluid replacement."
"Alright, Larry. That gives us twenty-four hours to see if he's as helpless as he claims. After that we'll have to intervene."
"Right. Nick has night duty tonight, so if Bud asks for water he can give it to him."
"Then all we can do is wait. I'm going to catch up on some paperwork and maybe watch the ballgame."
"I may join you later," Larry said.