with without

Only two weeks of doing without and he was doing fine.

Well. His mind was moving in a strange pattern. Not so much plaid as paisley. Curlicued, flowered, dizzied. All of the hallways led to the same room, a room with a pillar and its glistening tip at the center, like that episode of The Avengers. Maybe it was the fumes from the shower cleaner.

Well, and his hormones were holding him hostage. But you can’t meet their demands. If you do, they’ll increase their demands. You die fighting or you die running. Also there were some tingles. Some aching. Some tension. When someone touched him. When he moved the right way. When he woke up in the morning. When he was cleaning the shower naked.

That was to expected though, with all the rubbing and bucking and sweating. The yellowish stains on the shower were shaped like streams, rivers, ponds – who was he to try and clean up nature? Better to paint stain over stain over stain until any nostalgia for the white canvas was safely moot. No. That was not higher logic.

And what a dirty window. It looked like ghosts having an eraser fight. The instructions on the container didn’t say anything about not using it on windows, but that could be because he didn’t read the instructions on the container. The window was clear on top and blurry on bottom, which made sense; as much as a window in a shower can make sense. Somehow the cleaner made the clear part clearer and the blurry part blurrier.

Two weeks or not, he was not doing fine with doing without.

But when he finished, he could see the rooftop of his neighbor’s house. There was a flaky frost all over it, but it didn’t seem to have just appeared, like it normally does; it seemed to have fallen from the sky.

I smoke as often as I clean.

Tonight I’m doing them at the same time. I’m in the bathroom, which is the only room I ever clean, because the room in which you clean yourself should be clean. I put the ashtray on a shelf above the toilet, next to the smoke alarm. Oh. Must move that, mustn’t we. It’s the only thing in the apartment as dramatic as me – we’re both prone to screeching tantrums; mine are just internal. Usually it keeps quiet in the bathroom, though, because steam is like smoke’s sexy stepmother (second marriage; a trophy wife naturally), gliding into the room in a bathrobe that doesn’t hide she’s one hell of a woman.

What with the all-purpose cleaner (which smells like party punch made of Sprite and bleach), the Captain Black little cigars (“I’ve never seen anyone buy these, there’s dust on the pack” says the Walgreens clerk), and a logic-liquefying lack of sleep, my head is humming like a cell phone on vibrate deep in a woman’s purse _m_m_m_ I turn up Dusty Springfield, and she sings with a sentimental infatuation so sincere it seems like love. 

The bathroom door is closed, the window is open, and it’s at a 90 degree angle from the living room window, which is also open, so I can hear “I Will Always Want You,” “I Wanna Make You Happy,” “I’ll Love You For Awhile,” “Losing You,” and “You Don’t Own Me.” Yes, I am master and mistress…my virginity and sexuality…my loneliness and libido. The iPod battery dies, a temporary disaster, but soon it is resuscitated and I select Dionne Warwick (who unfortunately some only know as Whitney Houston’s aunt, or a spokeswoman for psychic friends network, rather than one of the finest female vocalists ever).

I feel like Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark when she tells Efrem Zimbalist Jr., “Just tell me what you want and that’s what I’ll be. I mean it.” She has such a frantic devotion; it’s so much my relationship with You, God. I’m only required to be Your child, but I’m convinced I have to be Your child star. You’ve given me so much, can I just give it back? I don’t know what to do with it. Show me. Show me.

Half the pack is gone, the bathroom is clean, the album is done.

Light another, start the dishes, play the next album.