Saturday, November 6, 2010

Status Reports

You've been given any number of notices, ranging from acceptance to eviction.  These included such last-minute instructions as the need to cut entire sections from a novel appearing serially, the need to add another ten minutes to a speech already underway that you were just rounding up, the need to cut at least ten minutes from a reading, and indeed, the need to prepare a keynote speech for a writers' conference on fifteen-minutes notice because the scheduled keynote speaker, a noted author you'd come to hear, had slipped away during dinner and instead of going to the men's room as he'd announced, was two blocks away at the Elk's Club, knocking back double shots of bourbon while telling various of the local Elks to go fuck themselves.

Another notice that came unexpectedly your way was the one informing you of a vote by the academic senate which accorded you the rank of adjunct professor, which had the almost immediate effect of causing your daytime employer, a PhD in history, to refer to you in his inter-office memoranda as Prof rather than the less sarcasm-laden SL by which you had previously been addressed.

There was a notice from the Sansum Clinic informing you of the results of a test citing a III-2 lesion on a body part you had come to take more or less for granted along with other body parts, and yet another notice some years later delivering you from any lingering consequences after the removal of said lesion.

There were notices about you sent to your parents, proclaiming you to be insufficiently endowed with the qualities of cooperation and responsibility thought necessary to perform successfully at the third grade level in spite of having earned respectable grades in all your subjects, causing your father to ask of you, "What are you, some kind of wise guy?" to which you had no recourse but to answer, "I guess so," at which point your father was left to observe, "That's a rough road to take."  But he never tried to talk you away from it.

Notices.

Some informed you of under- and overpayment of federal and state taxes, the need to renew city or county dog licenses, California driver's licenses (with reminders that being licensed is a privilege, not a right or entitlement), subscriptions in danger of expiration, notices that your services were no longer required at the publishing company where the president referred to you as Prof; a notice that someone you loved had better things to do in her life than see you again, signed with a shard of poetry in French that let you know the notice was being dictated by one or more parents; notice that you had won a contest; notice that you had not won a contest, notices to cease and desist; notices of forthcoming celebrations, notices that rights in particular stories had reverted to you; notices that novels had earned back their advances; notices that novels had not entirely earned back their advances and thus would you modify your prose to a greater sexual explicitness; notices that a particular book of yours had violated contemporary standards of sexual explicitness; notices that a review you'd written had taken a well-worn trope of disapproval; notices that your contract to teach was being renewed, notices that you had once again failed to submit the rubric of teaching goals as they related to learning goals; notices that your resignation had been accepted; and notices that someone from your past was on the Internet, hopeful of contacting you to pursue a romantic relationship once you subscribed to a particular service.

In addition to notices, you have had offers, one of which was for a free cremation, another for a burial at sea complete with a hand-calligraphed Oriental prayer scroll.  Offers also extended included having portions of your body elongated, others reduced, others still rendered free of arthritic pain.  There have been several offers of free admission to seminars in which you would learn the secrets of the financial universe, opportunities to sell any time-share participation in ski-lodge areas, and yet another offer of a trial size vial of pheromone extract which would presumably draw women to you who might otherwise not be interested in you in any slight degree whatsoever.  A freelance editor in Los Angeles will tell you exactly what's wrong with your prose, and a former lady friend is willing to teach you the ins and outs of Argentine tango in exchange for editorial services on a novel.

The landscape bristles with notices, offers, and opportunity; such things are the smorgasbord of life.  You have only to decide on the ones closest to your priorities, then place the choice ones on your plate while studiously avoiding temptations that might seem attractive but which would ultimately distract you from your purpose or cause you to prematurely be buried in a metaphorical sea of temptation,  the teacher of Argentine tango coming to mind in resounding fashion on that score as indeed she had in the past.  Even at this remove, you recognize the attraction has nothing to do with tango but rather the flurry of activity that surrounds attraction, whether it be words, visions of imaginative mischief, or the articulation among entities who appreciate and truly listen to one another.

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