in real life i'm shy

in real life, i let things happen and figure that maybe i deserved it

in real life, i fuck up a lot

in real life, i let my frustrations stack up, until finally i vent out in anger

usually at someone i care about

in real life i'm super attuned to people's feelings

so attuned that i feel like i can't shut it off sometimes

once, when i was little they took me out of school and drove me in a van to princeton university

where the leaves were orange and the squirrels were black

they put me in a room with a big window that looked into another room and a man held up a card and asked me to tell him what was on the other side

i didn't know

but i always know when someone's sad

or lonely

or exhausted

it gets to be too much

even with my headphone on and turned all the way up

i have to close my eyes

i close my eyes and pretend that i'm someone else

somewhere else...

somewhere far, far, away

(and the glowing, blue-white words get smaller and smaller until they disappear up near the top of the screen...)

...I opened my eyes. The kids were completely quiet. Dumbfounded. They shook from side to side in the pickup bed like dolls, discussing with one another what this could possibly mean.

I remember thinking, wow, I pulled another good one, but as I had this thought, the moon came out from behind the cloud and the mushrooms kicked in to that next level, in which the sound of a low flying plane over head melted across my brain like a slab of butter, and I had to try and remember who I was and why I was in the position to make elaborate jokes at other people’s expense.

We were picking up speed. The other side of the highway was a blur.

(It’s my job to get us out of here safely, I thought, having suddenly become filled with a ludicrous sense of purpose)

What am I doing?

Where am I?

Who am I?

At that moment I came to the unsettling conclusion that I was more of a mix of certain carefully chosen styles than a person.

“OK. Party people!” I said. “I’m going to enumerate my identities for all of you, in order of importance. And by importance, I mean societal relevance and not according to my own personal preference, ya dig?”

They nodded their shaggy heads, ready for anything. Stoned and dethroned. Wearing next year’s style, despite their stupidity (or maybe because of it).

A number of them had perfect bone structure, lean builds and golden brown tans. They could have been young Greek lords or Calvin Klein models, lounging languorously around a giant urn and getting paid for it.

But then there were others—myself included—who were pale misfits, skinny or fat, with fucked-up skin and eyes that were either too far apart or too close together. Bad hair. Dandruff. Scars. It wasn’t like high school, where we would have been automatically relegated to the bottom of the social barrel. Deep in the chewy center of a drug subcultcha, the value system of the outside world no longer applies. In the desert, when you’re high all the time, it’s an inner light that matters. An inner beauty, based on need and companionship.

We shared everything, food, water, books, bodies.

“First and foremost, I’m a woman. Second, I’m white. Third, I’m young. And fourth, I’m American.”

Marco shouted, “I think American should be first.”

“Of course you would--you’ve got a dick,” I said, and everyone laughed.

“What about being an artist,” a small voice asked. It was the twelve year old Trixie Treat, the genius-slut, who was shivering in the corner from cold and lack of sleep.

“Fuck all that other stuff," she said. "Isn’t that what you really are?”

“Darling, I see what you’re saying, and a hundred or maybe even fifty years ago, yes, it would have been the case. I would have been an artist. But times have changed and TV has clipped our attention spans and it is no longer possible to be one thing any more than it is to get through an entire cable TV so-called program without changing the channel, at least once.

“Listen up,” I said, blinking my eyes against the wind as I turned to look each of them in the eyes.

“I am part of a new breed of artist. Rather than spend years working on a single canvas or score, we prefer to work sporadically, on several projects at once. The different works are usually united by a shared aesthetic that bounces back and forth between mediums. It’s like a game of hot potato with one player.

The new artist is a counterfeiter—a simulacrum, The Matrix itself.

The new artist grew up surrounded by a wealth of contradictions, i.e., the overflowing bounty of the suburban wasteland.

The new artist believes ordering-in is a lifestyle choice, best exemplified by answering the door wearing nothing but a pair of socks.

The new artist is not a hippie. He/she does not like to share drugs.

The new artist is sick of lip service, professionalism and contracts.

The new artist doesn’t know for sure who is real.

The new artist understands that all art is always already business art, but that one must be in a constant rebellion against this state of affairs. The best, most effective way to rebel is by making art.

The new artist is not like the others, who will spend their entire lives grasping at the magic string, which they can see but can never touch.

The new artist sees the string, tears it down and throws it in a plate of spaghetti to eat for dinner.”

I opened my eyes. My listeners were transfixed, whispering back and forth with one another, as they repeated bits of what I’d said and tried to get to the meaning of it.

I opened my eyes. My listeners were transfixed, whispering back and forth with one another, as they repeated bits of what I’d said and tried to get to the meaning of it.

I sat with my back against the driver’s window, stunned and uncertain at what had just transpired. I stared out at the highway that dissolved into darkness, like the wake of white surf left behind a ship. Several cars had passed us in the opposite direction, but now, for the first time I made out a pair of headlights behind us, growing brighter by the second. They were in a hurry, whoever it was. I sat facing them, squinting into the face of the unknown driver.

My comrades took notice. Elena, a big-boned, half-black, half-Romanian girl grabbed my shoulder.

“Here. Sit facing the other side,” she said.

I nodded my head and obeyed, automatically, giving a last glance out to the anonymous fellow traveler—or travelers.

(You see, deep in the folded recesses of my mind, I already suspected…I already knew who was coming for me…I could feel them getting closer, the same way a lonely lover can know without knowing that his wayward lover has decided to come back to him…alone in a late night diner, oblivious to the world, he absentmindedly runs his finger across a laminated menu and traces the arc of the silver plane that is carrying her home at that very second…)

Thousands of feet above…as invisible as the Holy Ghost…three miles high and rising…

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