S. is in South America, drinking on the beach and watching soccer games and kissing boys named Jorge;

B. is in Humboldt, and I haven't heard a peep from her in months (not that I've peeped my self);

J. works and does not call. She did not even feign enthusiasm about the last boy, but then, her face did not fall when I told her it was over, either.

I'm avoiding P. He will likely be angry when he figures this out. But what do I have to say to him, or anybody.

J., the one I do see with any regularity, has as many headaches as I do.

The other J. looks at me with burning eyes, just for a second or two, and looks away. I attribute this to my new haircut. He probably does not even know he is that easy.

It is my job to bring the very last J. (hey generation: pick a new initial) out of hiding, and I am not up to it. I'm already disappointed and foresee disaster. I always do. This does not make me a pessimist. But it makes me a coward. I do not want to rubberneck this one, not twice.

Did I do outside and photograph the sunset tonight? I didn't. Did I go outside tonight at all? Did I intend to? Yes.

When I think, every day could be exactly like this one, nauseous and wishing the man on the bus could just shut up, I become a ball of panic, fetal, not wanting to leave the house. The man on the bus seems like the kind to use the word "pickaninny" but he doesn't and anyway, I don't have a real reason to hate him. He's interesting. I, on the other hand, hurt and haven't isolated the cramp.

I don't assume everybody is laughing. I assume they're running out of breath, like I am. I assume they're all lying, like I am: The answer is fine, whether or not you are really fine. I assume the world is ending.

The men that we love aren't the men that love us. So to hell.

Also, bookstore man who vaguely resembles Kevin Spacey, man with sick guinea pig: I recognize that up and down look. I would have said something but I was terrified.

The big lie is, the universe is not beautiful or interesting, but garish and lonely. The big hurt is, believing it.

With the men.

There is also the boy in the hoody who emerges from Starbucks and compliments my hair. I evaluate him: hoody, messenger bag, corduroys. Later I discover his own hair is somewhat awful, and he lives in a neighborhood I've always found stupidly yuppified - but a compliment's a compliment. I don't find my own hair extraordinary; you take what you can get.

Here's to us.

I call my mother on her cell. She is walking into my aunt's house to look at my aunt's new couch. Some of the men in my family would likely make fun of this (it's a damn couch), but the rest of us - whose lives have been couches for generations - know better.

Maybe there is no enormous hope, or maybe there is, only like a broken stained-glass window, manifesting itself in your sister's new couch, or you sister coming to look at your new couch, or hot pie and milk.

One time I said something like this to T., who said, I know, but maybe I've been living for these things too long. Maybe it should be for bigger ones. And who can blame him. But who knows what they are:

Like white light? or a long low moan that turns into laughing? or the holes in Jesus' hands? You can't resist these either.

They are not so enormous after all, or we don't have eyes that see them; they are ultraviolet, they are infrared; they are a blink, an atomic flash.

You look for the fallout. You look for sunburns. You look for heat with a sensitive camera. To wit, evidence. If nothing else, distract yourself looking and die with your eyes wide open and your fingers crossed. Here's to us.

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