mexico diary

Dreamt – Basic intergalactic space war scenario. Save the universe from evil. Star Wars style. Ships. Space chase. Explosions. Left behind when it was all over.

On ground. Night of the living dead. Zombie holocaust dream. Flesh eating. Intestines. Blood. Cannibal. No one left. Body parts holed up in my old apartment in Chicago. Not Chicago. A mattress in the dining room. Papers strewn about. A few bookshelves. Everything in disarray.

Burning a plastic bag filled with plastic army men in a tin can out on the porch. The source of the zombie plague. Overpowering stench.

The guy at the internet café. The kid. Saying something about do you want open time. Something like that. I’m still learning Spanish.

Bueno. Todavía estoy aprendiendo español.

What do you speak? Qué hablas?

English. Inglés.

Oh so do I. California. How much time do you need?

I just have to check a few messages.

So open time?


His shaggy dark hair. Dark skin. Baggy jeans and high tops. Talking to his friend about video games. Smack Down. Gran Turismo. Sitting behind his main computer. Sun bright in the street.

Dream. On stage with PAL without my guitar singing songs. Jumping around. Freaking out. Screaming. Rocking the mic. My turn to play guitar. I put it on. The strap around my shoulder. Tuning it between songs behind my amp. White t shirt. S looking at me. I’m happy. Excited. Walk up to the mic. Wake up.
A movie event. Hollywood types everywhere. A big house. Swimming pool. People want things to go smoothly. Sitting at a table for dinner. Formal dinner. Eating food. I’m chewing on some food. Then a feeling of panic. Terror. Horror. Revulsion. It’s meat. I’m eating meat. Spit it out onto the plate. Chewed up sausage or ground beef. People looking at me. Eyes wide. Take that Hollywood, I think.

So weird to be back at feast. My first Baha’i thing in eight years. Scared. Panicked. Thinking what am I doing here? Looking face to face as they discuss Baha’i affairs in Spanish. Nervous. I know what they’re talking about. They want me to talk about the Baha’i community in Chicago. Join study groups. Play guitar. Sing. What do I know of the Baha’i community in Chicago? I stopped going to things when I was 17. I feel like crying. Conflicted. Feeling like I’m using them. Their kind older faces. The younger ones, eager, ready. What the fuck am I even doing here? I don’t even know what I believe anymore. I’m just trying to be a good person. I don’t know about god. About religion. About spirituality. I don’t know. Sitting in a circle. All eyes on me. Do I tell them the truth? That I’ve got issues with religion. With Baha’i rules. About my crisis of faith. Will they want to help get me back in? I don’t want that. What the fuck am I doing here? Getting out of the house. I’m fronting. I’m an imposter.

On the way to the Baha’i center. The Baha’i man in his 50’s who picked me up at the KFC. Talking to me in pidgin Spanish and sign language. I’m having a hard time understanding what he’s saying without all those articles he’s leaving out. Verbs and nouns and gestures. Immense storm clouds. Dark purple swallowing the sky. The horizon. Dense. Moving slow. Glacial. Scraping the ground. Lightning. Rain on the windshield.

Organized religion. Right now I’m too cynical. I can’t help it. Agendas. Goals. Conversion. I have a problem with this. Trust. What makes one more right than another?

Bus terminal. Northbound. Chihuahua. Sonora. Late afternoon. Kids running around. A two year old chasing a rubber ball. He catches it. Throws it again. Runs after it in his awkward run. Weaving towards the ball not really a straight line. His young dad watching after him.
Group of guys sitting at a table. Smoking. Drinking cans of Modelo. Close to the two fast food stands.

Young mom walking to the phone to one of the ticket sellers. To the tables. She’s pretty. So many seem to have kids. So young. Low cut jeans, tight shirt.

People with their luggage walking to the buses. 90 dollars to Ciudad Juarez. Cool breeze. Sipping coke from a cup. Waiting with Ignacio and Rufina. Watching the clock. 5.50pm.

On the bus back home. Thinking only of the young mom. Looking at her in my minds’ eye so hard. Someone boards the bus up front and startles me. Interrupts my daydreaming. I’m looking at a person where the girl just was. Looking out the window. Rush hour. 7pm. Downtown Guadalajara. The bus stops are packed. The sun slowly going down. The old Spanish buildings. The government centers. The cathedral. The young mom back at the terminal.

mexico diary 10/3-10/13 2003


Mexico Diary (colonia el vigía, zapopan, jalisco)

4.15pm. Went to el centro. Té de manzanilla con azucar y limón. Walked around with Ignacio. Bought bread from the vegetarian/integral panadería. Got soy burgers. Heard jazz from what he said was a municipal academy. It gave me hope. Trumpet flurries drums from upstairs. The second floor windows. Us underneath walking in the shade. Living life like the retired. Nothing going on. Music. Sitting around in the middle of the afternoon. The kids outside playing in the street. The donut kid. Donas! Donas! Llegaron las donas! The other kids chanting the same thing after him. He carries them on a tray resting on his shoulder. Sunny. Dry. Low 80s.

No good dreams. All of them terrible. So far. Waking up in the middle of the night. People killing themselves. Shooting themselves. Gun at head. A jolt. Half their face off. Neck hanging open. Sitting on the ground wondering what happened. Breathing. Chase anxiety dreams. Unknown terror dreams. Lonely dreams. Wake up from all of them at 2am. 3am. 4am. Calm down. Calm down. Try to sleep again.
The ipod died today. Two weeks and it’s dead. Fucking technology.

The ipod came back today.
Listening to Lungfish.

Filled with doubt. Questioning everything I’m doing here. Not knowing what to do. Doubting everything. Insecurities in isolation. Wondering what’s true. What’s not. What will last. What will not. Feeling alone. Cut off. Unsure of everything. My future. My right now. My feelings. Unsure. Feeling unsure. My chest and stomach. Empty. Drained.

The Pupils. 10am.

TV on in living room. 4.21pm.
TV on in living room. 5pm.

5.15pm. Storm. So much rain. Thunder. The street at the corner a river. Water flowing fast. Cars plowing through it. Against the current. Paper, garbage carried along. Lone stragglers caught in it are soaked. Walking uncaring. Too beyond wet to care.

The boys at the tlapalería clap and cheer when the rain gets furious comes down in sheets. They stand in the entryway and watch.

The water pummeling the sky light by the bathroom. Intensifies the situation. Wind.

Wind blows the rain through my window. Into my face. Smell it. Taste it. Lower the window a little.
It comes down straight. Direct. Now. So constant.


Trees still except for the rain hitting the leaves.
Heads peering out windows in the houses. Every so often curtains brushed aside.
A few people on bikes. Water filling the backs of pickups. More debris in the temporary river.
Rapids form at the speed bump in the river. Rain pummels the clay roofs. The splashing creates a thick mist haze.

Thunder. The boys at the tlapalería improvise a tiny boat and set it on the river in front of their store. Watch it float down the street and it’s carried away. Its little white sail.

7pm at KFC. Plaza Patría. In his 50’s.
Avenida Mariano Otero. South West.

bike riding

this is a shorty outtake from flotation device 12. i eventually took it out cuz i felt it didn’t add anything. and i didn’t want to contribute to the glut of zines that feature bike riding in them. and anyways, i’ve prolly already made my fair share of contributions to that glut anyways. on the bike riding note – i am looking forward to warm night bike rides again. tonight was one of the first of the year. so i’m especially stoked now!

One of my favorite things in the summer is to ride my bike late at night. Alone on the street only a few cars passing occasionally. Cool air. Sometimes heavy with humidity. But always cool and caressing after the heat of the day. The buildings pass by lazy. Trees that line the roads. Dark branches against dark night sky. Leaves green rustle whisper in the night breeze. Coming home from wherever I was. A show. A movie. A friend’s house. A diner. A bar. The city quiet for the night. Slowed down. Feeling like a hometown. A comfort zone. A pocket of safe from the world. Float and glide on rubber tires past mail boxes and street lights stoplights intersections. Cool air on my skin through my t shirt through my hair. My city. My town. My home. Trees overhead. Stars through the leaves and branches.

video games

this is an outtake from the 2216 section of flotation device 12. i felt i had already included enough pieces that established jeff and, sadly, this one had to go. in the end not much was really mentioned about our video game playing. a serious oversight.

Hey. Jeff said sneakily looking around.


Hey is it getting dark in here? He asked. It was still light out.

Awesome. It’s totally getting dark in here. I shut the blinds to cut the glare. He turned on the tv and the n64 and put in perfect dark.

This is the game we played most. Most on the n64.

Video games became one of our main things to do while hanging out. He was into video games and wanted to do sound for video games. Design it. Create the soundscape and sound effects. Compose the score. He loved it. I liked to play socially. So if I had someone to play with I was happy. He was always renting games. Some I would watch him play, some I wouldn’t. He’d play for a couple hours and then go out or do homework or play guitar or skate.

Is it getting dark in here? Initially it just meant perfect dark, but of course eventually it came to mean, do you wanna play video games? Of course we could always be direct about it and say, Hey do you wanna jam some vids. That always worked too.

skatepark nihilism

this was a little coda that originally followed the treefort (slight return) section of flotation device 12. when i first wrote it, it seemed logical to include it. it flowed with the rest of that junior high section, but when i read it once all of the pieces were put in order, it seemed to kinda just sit there.

We had a brilliant idea too. David and I or Luke and I or all of us. On the west side of the subdivision beyond the pond and on the other side of all the fences beyond the last recently sodded lawns of the new houses there was a field. A cornfield old and unused derelict and filled with dead cornstalks and grass. In our explorations seeking out new places to explore and new places to walk we came across a cement platform. It must have been the floor to a storage shed. We said it was an old barn. It was divided into a few different levels and the cement was fairly smooth in some spots.

As we sat out there under the summer sun blue sky and white clouds hoping that the men in the pick up trucks that seemed to occasionally patrol the fields didn’t come, we had a brilliant thought. Let’s turn this into a skate park. We could build a half pipe out here and some mini ramps. We could use the multi levels for a kick ass street area. It’s out of the way and no one would bother us. Genius.

Jeremy could help. His dad had built an amazingly professional quarter pipe that they kept in his garage. It was on wheels and they would wheel it out to skate it in the driveway. It terrified me with its perfect curvature smooth wood and vert at the top and its five foot height. Jeremy could help us. Luke could help us, having built that half pipe in his basement. He also helped me build a launch ramp that we kept in my garage that had a nice curve that Luke got from wetting the wood with a hose and bending the wood back while standing on it. We could get wood and nails and pvc coping from the dumpsters. That’s where we always went for supplies for treeforts or bike ramps skate ramps or whatever we were building. Often the dumpster raids also included clandestine exploration of the skeletal frames of houses after hours when the workers had left for the day. Climbing in through the sunken basement windows. Climbing up the skeletal stairs. Walking through skeletal walls. Climbing on skeletal beams. And carefully walking over skeletal floors.

We could do it. We could build our own private skate park out here in this field. Sun pouring down. Browned yellowed dead corn stalks. Blue blue sky. Possibility in the air. Dreams dreamed. A shared fantasy. The sound of skateboard wheels on cement on wood in our minds. We could do it. But we didn’t.

apartment tour

this is the first draft of the beginning to the 2216 section in flotation device 12. i wanted to take the reader on a tour of the apartment. when i finished writing and read it, i thought the pacing was too slow. so here you have it in all of its fascinating first draft glory. see for yrself, the miracle of rewriting! please have patience with this one, it is epic.

I lived here for four years. Longer than I’d lived in any one place in my entire life. Growing up my parents moved us from house to house every three years with great regularity. We only lived in three towns, but we lived in four houses in Woodstock and they’ve moved two times since I moved out. So 2216 was where I lived the longest.

I lived here for four years.

XXXXX was the one that found it. We had moved out from Woodstock together a year previous. He had been living in the dorms at UIC and I had been living back at home commuting to Columbia College a few times a week. Sometimes less when I could stay with my friend Nate and his girlfriend Ally.

XXXXX and I first moved into a two bedroom in Uptown at the corner of Leland and Dover. It was a nice place, probably too nice for us. We were 19 or so. We were loudish playing guitars through amps and moog keyboards as well. Making noise together and recording it onto four track tape. XXXXX had a few parties with some theater type kids from UIC. We got some complaints from neighbors who didn’t complain to us directly, but instead went to our management company. The management company then called us with the complaints. After the second we decided to move before we got kicked out. We lasted six months in that building. So we found a small two bedroom in Lincoln Square on Claremont just north of Welles Park. We lived there for six months before XXXXX got antsy and wanted out. I said, fine but I’m not looking cuz we just moved in. so XXXXX found this three bedroom on Wilson, two blocks away.

Brownstone two flat half a block east of Lincoln and half a block west of Leavitt. Up a flight of stairs that run to the right, at the top, the landing. Two bikes there on the landing. Jeff’s and mine. Open the door. The dining room. Chandelier. A table across the way with a lamp, a phone, a two foot statue of an 18th century Irish potato picker – head wrapped in rubber bands taken from the stacks of junk mail. Mail piled and strewn at his feet. A hammock to the right precariously hung form the ceiling . Did anyone sit in it? Someone did and it fell with a crash. A love seat on the north wall, covered in bags and backpacks.

I sat on that love seat feeling depressed crushed and beaten the night I was removed from PAL. I had told them I was going to Mexico in the fall and that I would be quitting Chicago Comics as well. Instead of practice that night we just ate noodles with red rocket sauce from Hi Ricky’s next door to Quimby’s where we practiced two nights a week after they closed. It was decided that if I wasn’t going to be in the band in fall, I should just be out so they could restructure. We played our remaining scheduled shows. My last in Chicago happened the day after we started the second war in Iraq. I announced all of my songs as “Shock and Awe.” The last show I played with PAL was in Beloit at C-Haus and they arranged for me to get flowers on stage. I was touched and felt pretty emotional. So after our last song, Tim’s rave up rocker, Liberate Me, they picked me up and dropped me into Billy’s drums. I still have the flowers dried and in a box on my radiator in my living room. I was out of PAL.

I sat on the striped love seat in the dining room under the dimmed chandelier light not knowing how to feel that night after HI Ricky when I was removed and felt dazed. Not moving sitting in silence until Jeff came home.

What’s wrong?

I’m out of PAL. I said. I felt like I had been dumped.

To the right of the front door the dining room opened into the living room where we spent most of our time. A long couch that had been in my parents family room on the east wall – amazingly comfortable and highly conducive to napping or falling asleep at night watching movies. A love seat that was my friend’s parents’ and had been in their basement family room when he and I were young. A chair that Jeff had brought with him. On the west wall was the hifi cabinet that had been my grandpa’s then my uncles and then mine. On it was the tv. In it were speakers and a stereo a turntable a cd player a dvd player and an N64, a game cube and eventually an Xbox. Another chandelier lit the room and one night when Jeff and I had been playing video games we heard Jody and Mike coming home thumping upstairs. We stopped looked at each other and said, hide! I quickly dove behind the love seat in front of the windows and left my legs sticking straight up in the air effectively hiding only my waist to my head. My legs waving in the air. Jeff attempted to hide somewhere else equally ridiculous. As I was upside down and behind the love seat I had no idea where he went. Jody and Mike walked in and Jody laughed. You guys.

For a while Jeff’s and my favorite thing to do was to put a random object on the sidewalk in front of the house and then watch from the windows while carefully hidden to see what people would do. Our favorite object was an old lampshade and we’d shake with suppressed laughter when someone would stop and set it on the bushes or move it off the sidewalk or stop and look up to our windows or walk around it. We thought we were hilarious.

Off of the living room was a small half bedroom that originally was a storage room for unused things, then it was Jody’s room for a few months before she went back to Pennsylvania, but before she was officially living with us. She stayed with us after her lease ended but before Columbia’s semester was over. Then after XXXXX announced he was moving to NYC, Jeff and I invited her back and she would take XXXXX’s room. She ended up living in that small room again when XXXXX didn’t end up moving to NYC but took a couple months to move out to Ukrainian Village. There was enough room for her mattress and some bags. I would sit in there and talk to her about the troubles of my early twenties love life and the woes of my then relationship. I was thankful to have a girl to be talking to.

When XXXXX moved out and Jody moved into his room. Jeff and I turned it into our little music room. A four track. Our guitars and amps. A stereo. A snare drum. Keyboards. A desk. A chair. Lots of blank type II cassette tapes. A closet filled with Jody’s clothes. Jeff hung ridiculous pinups from Playboy and in celebration of our triumph we hung a Jim Morrison banner on the side of the door that faced the living room. So everyone would know that that room was for musical genius.

There was a window in that room. We could open it and climb out onto the roof of the little front porch. Jeff and I wanted to use his massive slingshot to launch garbage at the Starbucks that had opened up down the street at the corner of Lincoln and Wilson – replacing a laundromat that had free laundry one day a week where homeless people washed their clothes. We never did. M and I stood out there one New Year’s Eve when it was turning into 2000 and watched people stumble down the street and fireworks off over the lake.

My room was off the dining room next to the front door. Somehow I manged to get my entire life into that room. A futon. Boxes of magazines to cut up underneath the futon. All of my cds and records. My desk where I wrote. A stereo on a milk crate. Speakers on top of it. A turntable. A light from the ceiling with a pull string switch that I extended with string and action figures and chotchkes that I ended up with so that I could pull the string while under the covers in bed. The window sill was my nightstand. A dresser in the closet with a bookshelf on it and shelves higher up with more magazines to cut up boxes of zines and pictures. My computer on a table also in the closet. I went in there leaned my back on a pillow against the side of the dresser. Clothes hung above the monitor. Typing up my homework, my stories for fiction writing, my papers, my finals, my zines.

At one point I had two bookshelves in my bedroom against the walls somehow. But I can’t remember how I had it arranged. Somehow everything was in there. I eventually moved a bookshelf out into the dining room and put all my comics on it. This was when XXXXX left, taking his two cats that liked to destroy.

The hallway ran north. It was dark. The bathroom was on the left side. Large with an old bathtub. Monochromatic tile pattern on the floor. The tiny tiles that formed floral shapes. Larger tiles ran halfway up the wall continuing the monochromatic scheme. A glass and wicker coffee table in the corner with a stereo on it and magazines on the shelf below. Tape Op. Playboy. Rolling Stone. Perfect 10. Punk Planet. A box of make up and other feminine products next to the stereo. The bathtub that I plunged every few months to keep it draining properly. The sink that twice was mysteriously clogged and twice needed a plumber to come and fix it. Once a toothpaste cap was the culprit. He glared at me as he held it between his fingers.

Did you know about this?


Are you sure?

He was convinced I had done it. I had no idea who had done it. I just walked away.

Jeff’s room was across from the bathroom. It was the smallest room but he never seemed to mind. Going in there was always like invading someone’s church. It felt wrong. I only went in there occasionally to borrow a cd or something. Almost always he was there. Once or twice, when I was desperate, I took change from his change jar for the train.

The hallway opened into the kitchen. Large. Table in the center with chairs around it – almost always covered with junk mail or school papers or back packs. An extension of the bedroom. No counters no cabinets a fridge and stove. A dishwasher and a large pantry. Before Jody moved in, the kitchen was generally ground zero for the passive aggressive warfare that raged for the last few months of XXXXX’s stay with us. Cat litter on the floor. Garbage piling up. Puke in the sink. Food hidden away with signs. Dust and dirt piles swept into his room. Dishes placed on his bed.

Our revenge was ill-tempered. Annoying. Ineffective. And it felt amazing. XXXXX’s room was off of the kitchen. It was painted orange like sherbet. It had no closets but was immense. After XXXXX left, it became Jody’s room and the warfare subsided.

There was an enclosed porch off of the kitchen. Two chairs and an end table in between them. Some candles. A cribbage board. A deck of cards. Jeff and I loved to throw stuff out the back window. Things we were getting rid of. An old broken stereo. An old broken turntable. Magazines. Things that were headed out to the trash in the alley. Of course we picked the scattered bits and remains up from the yard.

The apartment was wrapped in dark wood paneling that ran from matching hardwood floors to a foot from the ceiling. The wood paneling ran from the living room and dining room through the hallway into the kitchen and out into the back porch. We all felt like we lived in a warm cabin up in the north woods of Wisconsin. It felt like that. It felt warm and safe and like permanent vacation surrounded by tall old dark trees.

watering hole

here’s a rejected short one from flotation device 12.


9.30pm Monday night. Water seeping up through the pavement in the street in front of my house. The trees dark against the night sky the water a little stream. Artesian spring here in the city. The source of life. Bubbling out of concrete. Little birds gather to it. Flock to it. Squirrels visit. My own little watering hole. My own little nature microcosm. Right in front of my house. How long will it last?

How long until the pavement buckles and folds in on itself. Microlevel plate tectonics. How long until the ground underneath the pavement is eaten away. Erodes. How long until there’s a hollow underneath the pavement. How long until the pavement buckles and folds in on itself and falls into the sink hole. How long until the sink hole in front of my house.

Will there be a parked car. Little birds squirrels people. Will the little birds fly away. Will they know in advance. Like when real nature happens. Or will they not notice man made tectonics fault lines erosion. Man made nature.

Will the tree fall in the hole.

Will this Daley democratic machine city fix the problem before it happens. Will they shut down the little microcosm in front of my house. Or will it just happen. Will it even happen.


here’s one in case you were wondering what happens when that keith guy doesn’t get any sleep. as i get older this becomes more and more of a problem the later i stay up. i just can’t rock a late night like i used to. so earlier and earlier to bed and earlier earlier to rise. which is cool. just stay productive. you can’t fight the seether. you know? this was originally going to go in flotation device 12, but it didn’t make the cut.


Albert Ayler on the stereo. Prophecy. Bells. Ghosts. Last of the summer night time cool air fall on the breeze the wind in my face as I ride wanting school to be done again so I can get back to normal season feeling. I like fall. I hate the feeling of slow sink dread that comes on as summer ends and classes start again. Overcast right now. Clouds. Gray. Humid.

Teaching english standing in front of a class under neon lights dry erase markers. When did this happen?

Trees. Israel. Current events. Fuck. Sleepless nights.

I’ve taken to not sleeping one night every other month or so. I’ll lay down in bed shut my eyes and my brain rebels. It keeps going. I can just feel it not let go of whatever is going on. It won’t let go of the day. It won’t let go of events of thoughts of consciousness of thinking of music of breathing of stress of sounds of awareness that I’m not sleeping of anything. It just goes and I lay there. The glow from the power light on my computer illuminating the bedroom in its blue brilliance as my eyes adjust to the dark. I listen try to focus on something the fan the night outside the refrigerator the house settling. I try counting slowly stretching out each number for seconds elongating the sound of it in my mind. Oooooooonnnnneeeeee ttttttwwwwwoooooo ttttthhhhhrrrrreeeeee I get to twenty before I forget what I was doing and start thinking again. Thinking thinking. Try not to think about why I can’t sleep. Try not to obsess about it and for fuck’s sake don’t’ look at the goddamn clock. Never look at it. Do I still have sleep meds. My nighttime pills that I’m supposed to take when this happens. no. lay awake in bed. Eyes open. Just relax. Let the dreams start to happen. Just drift away shut yr eyes and.

Ow. Eyes open.

Twinge of nausea. Fuck. I guess it’s that time. Go to the bathroom turn on the light blazing brilliance piercing the back of my skull searing my pupils. Turn on the radio. NPR. Safe jazz all night til five am. That’s still a few hours away. Shit my guts out. Read harpers. Listen to safe jazz. Go back to bed. Shut my eyes twinge of nausea. Fight it for a while but every time I start to drift off. Every single time. I start to fall asleep I awake with a start. Oh fuck. Back to the bathroom for more safe jazz more harpers and more shit my guts out. Brilliant blindness of blazing bathroom light.




At some point I give up move to the couch and read a dull book. Something that won’t take my attention. Something like Race and Reunion – the Civil War in American History. Something in Spanish like El Muerte de Artemio Cruz. Something that’s guaranteed to knock my shit out. Lay on the couch with soft lamplight illuminating the quiet room. And wouldn’t you know it. My dull book happens to be quite the pot boiler page turner and I’m enthralled by how the south carefully constructed their own version of history and foisted it on the rest of the country. Oh. Back to the bathroom. My brain is totally awake, but my body is falling apart. Too bad I can’t be productive. Too bad I can’t write or be comfortable while not sleeping. Too bad I get the dry heaves and shit my guts out cuz I could put a few spare hours to good use. But instead my body goes crazy and I feel totally incoherent. Is it five yet? Five o clock and I can watch the morning news sitting in my rocking chair watching the traffic and weather repeated every five minutes. I finally pass out when the sun starts to come up the sky gets lighter and I fall asleep around six or seven and sleep until ten.


this is an outtake from flotation device 12. it just never fit in anywhere once i started putting everything in order. i wrote it in the summer of 2007.

The smell of gasoline through the windows the other day. Sun bright glaring and someone mowing the little lawn next door. It had such a huge sound like the mower that we had when I was a kid. The big green beast that I had to use all of my twelve year old body to push and maneuver sweating grass stuck all around my shins and ankles. Shoes stained green gasoline filling my nose wishing I were done the sun baking me. Why did I wait til the afternoon to do this? All the other subdivision houses with their uniform manicured lawns constant water and upkeep. Energy and effort. Squandered resources. The trees behind our house the big old trees that had been there for so long before all of our houses. Pushing the mower up one way and then back down slowly cutting away at the week long grass. Thinking that it would be awesome to have a yard that had super tall grass. Prairie grass. A little nature preserve with paths to walk through the bright sun glaring off the cul de sac in the front. The neighborhood kids playing hockey in the street or tag or basketball or wiffleball or riding bikes or running around or through sprinkler or anything other than mowing the lawn and me wishing that I were doing anything else.

Growing up moving the lawn summer after summer. Mowing other people’s lawns for ten bucks an hour. Eventually rocking a walkman with mix tapes cranking in my ears over the roar of the engine and the grass blowing all over and swaths being cut row after row and it was great music that made me feel so cool and so good and so energized and amazed that music could be so good.

And the sun tanning my arms and my face. I used to not wear a shirt and imitate my dad mowing the lawn but i grew up and started thinking about girls and got shy and I put my shirt back on thinking about the girls I had developed crushes on during the school year and tuning out the lawnmower daydreaming about girls and being anywhere other than mowing the lawn in the ninety degree afternoon sun.

Always looking for an excuse not to do it.

It all came back to me the other morning when i was making breakfast – a bagel some cereal some water – in the kitchen. The roar of the engine the raw gasoline smell and all I could think of was the sun shining through the branches and leaves of the trees overhead while I mowed the lawn. Will kids still mow the lawn? Do they now? Will we mow our lawns when there’s no more gas? No more power? Will kids still daydream while doing menial household tasks staining their socks green with fresh cut grass?