In the dream, I’m asleep at my school desk. I slowly awaken to berations of a tenth-grade geometry teacher. Sluggish, slurring, “Aw, alright already with your divine proportions. What’s the point in enlightenment if it only defines being unfulfilled?” I mumble the truth of youth for an army of my matchless peers! All the while stroking a beard that I shouldn’t have at that age, suddenly realizing that I can now be the one to procure beery beverages over in White River Junction. The jackpot of Old Milwaukee and Milwaukee’s Best will make me a minor hero in the resistance! The clock on the wall counts down, pencil shavings in the air, still air groaning with the weight of late afternoons, and the final alarm brings the elation of the weekend, to a meaning that meant so much when it was trapped in between valleys of a grinding curriculum. The arm’s reach touches anticipation’s shoulder, to firelit faces of freed comrades and beautiful ligneous women.
I stir from my sleeping dream, still stroking my beard.
Terror, escape from bedroom, stumble downstairs, slam last night’s cold coffee innocently sitting on a table with the same moniker. Rip the top off the tube, carefully apply an even layer of sunscreen, grab modern life’s indisputable triumvirate: phone, keys, wallet — slam out the front door, palms on concrete, up and into the van, gone.
Roads and routes 9W, 9G, 9, 9H, 9J parallel the Hudson. They run north-south with distracting views of blue-lit Catskills to the left. Inspiring the likes of Washington Irving, Thomas Cole, Frederick Church, Bob Dylan. Trying to run away from home and freestyle to these facts is humblingly impossible.
Writing, recording, mixing and beards. All of these require a steadfastness and faith in something that is ultimately, conceivably superficial. (Someday we’ll train Dickensian ghosts to demonstrate or disprove our life’s work. And the legitimacy of our facial hair.)
Mjölnir swings and strikes high above bringing a static wall of rain. Reflected primary colors, saturated by sudden wet pavement, summer storm street light. Humidity and quiet desperation are conveyed without effort, without performance.
The direction doesn’t matter anyway, the camera regardlessly follows the footsteps. A candy cigarette blows a fine mist of sugar crystals over the lens. Cut.
“Is this the world’s stupidest song?”
“Might music actually mean something to someone?”
“Please put me out of my misery before I hear the same chord progression again.”
I don’t like carrying on with inanimate objects. Speaking to stones and branches only accentuates a fully fed sense of madness. Far beyond the counted footsteps or turning spokes, the scraped knees, misreads and diorama mania.
But that’s the way most mornings start.
Good morning, ceiling. Hello, twisted sheets, headphone noose, unfulfilled ambition of being a forest ranger. Blanket hogging guitar. Orange plectra stuck on my thighs and back. Book spines aching under their dangerous stretch, posing like butterflies at the edge of the mattress.
You are all my dream companions, my advisors after a rough day of fumbling through the cobblestone minds of other human beings. My acceptance lies here, my silent demigods. Please smash my forehead with sparkling wine and send me off for another spin around the sun.
And you. Good morning, beard.
Each dawn, I wake up to a small rodent growing on my face. Steel wool slumbers shared upon a crumpled pillow. A trail of inedible crumbles, punctuations on unsaid sentences, the feverish cursive scrawls penned by an insubordinate ferret.
I don’t remember the moment I decided to let my mug take control. How did I end up with this furry parasite, passive acceptance, living in long, silent disharmony with a cropless field surrounding my mouth? The initial instant, lost.
Forward. Maybe it’s time to get serious about this reality of mine. Maybe the pale skin should see the light. Maybe it’s time to say goodbye to itchy external distractions that send me spiraling in inane circles.
Look, beard, it’s not you. It’s me.
Why, hello, mustache. I didn’t see you there, skulking around in the dim Schlitz-sign light, leaning against the tacky, vinyl-padded bar, hitting on everything that moves, acrobatic eye rolls at the perpetual refusals. Another singalong with Bob Seger and the rest of the classic rock gang. A sporting soliloquy, a disjointed conspiratorial rant, an argument over the rules of sloppy pool. Operatic and awful. And yet somehow, in some way, you make mildly compelling arguments. About waking up to pure, pristine daylight. Where breezy polyester curtains gently flow with matching drapes. So maybe let’s drink cheap frosty beer until we close this dive down, until the Corvette clock stops ticking, the rest of world sleeps soundly in the safe low-end hum of air conditioning as another terrible impulse sticks.