Ten years ago my body decided to kill itself.
I collapsed in Time Square’s subway station, and was transported to Bellevue with a heart rate approaching 200 BPM.
The 9 years’ of immense disappointment since 2001 had culminated with an inevitable conclusion.
I was now 60, and my body was giving out.
My career had lain in ruins since 9-11.
Worse yet, my beloved Manhattan had been gentrified beyond recognition.
The sorts of people who used to live between City Hall and 14th Street, the demi monde of true bohemians and artists and writers and drinkers and crazies, had vanished.
They had been the reason why I moved into a tiny, $227.50/month studio on 13th St and University Place back in ’74 — during NYC’s final golden age as a place where creative outcasts who didn’t fit in anywhere else could live both eccentrically and on the cheap and meet interesting people from all over the world.
Being right next to Union Square, I occasionally had a chance to see such people, sometimes even while singing Demon Alcohol at the top of my lungs from the vantage point of George Washington’s icy horse at 3am in the dead of winter.
Now Lower Manhattan’s prized and unique vibe was dead, displaced by the sorts of young professionals who used to rent pricey one-bedrooms in the Upper East Side — thanks then as now to Daddy — for a year or two before buying the bourgeois starter house in Greenwich or Scarsdale.
But I didn’t die, although after my thyroid operation, I ceased to look like the person I had been most of my life. At least I didn’t end up sounding like this ancient Egyptian.
I was now balding, with what was left of my hair grey, with bulging eyes, pretibial myxedema, Plummer’s nails, tremors, extremely fat, quick to tire, given to mood swings, and easily distracted.
This was the same person who used to work 12 – 15 hour days on Wall Street for years on end. I now could not finish reading a novel, let alone write one — which I once had thought was my true calling in life.
Fast forward to the present.
Though I survived, and eventually looked less grotesque than I did in 2013 — when I travelled to Egypt, during the year the generals removed the only freely elected leader the country has ever known — I remained lost at sea, without purpose or direction.
I returned to Egypt in 2017, and stayed for 7 months in Gouna on the Red Sea.
This was after the orange pig’s election, when I decided that the US was no longer a safe place to be an Arab-American. There had been a few unpleasant scenes with neighbors who threatened me physically; I eventually had to call the police.
Well, now these cunts are either all dead, or have moved away to even more right wing, racist parts of Florida.
But I’ve survived — even though El Gouna did not turn out to be my cup of tea.
I’m still here.
Despite everything, my body has refused to give in; it continues to fight back against everything that wants to destroy what remains healthy in me.
This might stretching the analogy, but isn’t that impetus a form of “agency”?
In the sense used by William Gibson. (Btw, I just put a hold at my local library on his latest — large print of course — and I’m psyched for the upcoming relaase of The Peripheral on Amazon prime.)
As readers of this blog know, I have spent much of last week trying to get my back porch ready for Geneva’s arrival. Geneva is a gorgeous little German Shep dog that my wife and I will be picking up in Boca a week from Sunday.
The constant rain has frustrated my attempts to get various things done, such that Geneva can have a nice, safe enclosed place — which I am calling her “habitat” — to gambol in for her month of sequestration during her run of shots, when she will not be allowed to interact with other dogs.
What is weird is that this rain has centered on the Treasure Coast; the rest of Florida is sunny.
Fucking annoying, to say the least.
But the painful burn on my right hand has now scabbed and is begining to heal. This injury happened from the bleach I was using to get rid of mold on the patio screens.
That is what I mean by agency — or resistance, if you will.
My body is fighting back, and refusing to let my hand turn into some puss-filled, gangrenous mess.
I’m unaware how it knows how to do this.
There are all sorts of things that my body does that I don’t consciously know how to do.
How do I know how to breathe? Or manufacture red cells? Or heal wounds? Where does the instinct to thrive originate? Or the will to defend one’s country?
There is much about the future that is bleak.
Currently the United States is being led by a conniving, malevolent fuckface who is probably not going to be around in 10 or 20 years when the disastrous nature of his malicious environmental policies come to roost.
But I still have the hope that despite everything — just like when it looked that I was done for, back in 2010, on the verge of a myocardial infarction that could have ended my life — we the majority in this coutnry will fight back and defeat this evil turd and his base.
Instead of obsessing about the Reaper’s impeachment sham “trial,” I’ve been writing a lot recently about DIY handy man stuff.
After all, isn’t Nancy herself — instead if standing shoulder to shoulder with Schiff as he eviscerated this White House’s assault on American democracy — spending the week yukking it up with her good friends in the Knesset?
But what about those mutilated Arab children in Gaza and elsewhere, Nance?
They’re all a bunch of terrorists, I can imagine Bibi saying, soothingly, to gullible Nancy, no doubt over caviar canapés and glasses of chilled kosher wine.
Maybe — given her obvious intelligence, which is is plainly evident in the maddeningly halting geezer way she has of talking, as well as her impressive grasp of global history, which all can tell from her humble preoccupation with fancy couture — Nancy thinks Palestinians are just like them Red Injun terrorists, savages who dared stand up against the palefaces.
And besides, poor Nancy can’t see any Palestinians at this shindig, even if she wanted to, because there’s walls everywhere, conveniently obliterating Palestinians from the old hag’s view, at least from the windows of the so-called “President’s House,” where the triumphalist Zionist event she was attending at US tax payer’s expense took place, the “president” in question being one Chaim Weizmann, a venal racist, thankfully long dead, who once wrote to his wife: “The Arab retains his primitive attachment to the land.”
And Nancy the soon-to-be octagenarian Wonder Woman is so perfectly okay with that she channels her inner Gal Gadot and proudly hangs Israeli soldier dog tags on walls at home or at the office or wherever.
Nancy, Nancy, Apartheid Nancy: truly a moral giant in these difficult times.
How on earth did she keep a straight face under all that ghastly makeup when she ever so grandly handed out all those personalized impeachment pens of hers? Were those footed at the taxpayer’s expense too?
Now the porch work I’m doing, of itself, is inconsequential in the larger scheme of things.
Focusing on the small and doable is a bulwark. What’s important is that I’m planning for a future. One that will be better than the present. One hopes.
Even the act of getting a purebred German Shepherd dog at my age tacitly implies that I expect to be around for a while, and that I will have the energy to deal with a full grown work dog in her prime.
Though it may seem right now that things look bleak, I still hold onto to possibility that, come November, the tawdry orange pig and his smugly nihilistic friends will be ousted from power and forced to face the music, Southern District of New York-style. The blood hounds up there are waiting patiently, their eyes laser focused on his every
Meanwhile, I shall bide (ugh, too close to Biden— the very same genial idiot who in 2008 suggested carving up Iraq into three) my time, spruce up the habitat and get ready for Geneva.
She’ll be here any day now.
The times they are indeed a-changing.