“Obviously a major malfunction”, fall notebook page 20

Where to start? Sometimes you debate if you should write about something. Any information that is stuck in your head. You think about a song or a memory. The first thing that comes to mind when you open your eyes. Sometimes you want to sit there, because thinking is enough.

It’s the time of year that is made for the artist, for the visionary. Days are numbered and it’s dark and wet. On the porch in a glass cola bottle is the last sunflower. The dog was chewing on its stem. It’s not going to live long. But for now, it’s alive.The flower is yellow with an orange center and the signs of death are slowly working its way up the pedals. You worry about it. Water and dirt can’t protect it. No. You stop thinking about this. You move on from the nonsense. 

He lived on an island and was a painter. Sitting there you’re reminded of the old man who lived on the sea who cared about driftwood so much he wondered why he burned it. He didn’t feel guilty so he stopped thinking about that and was happy in the winter months. Like the sunflower he waited for the storm. And a storm would come, because it was storm season, but until then, the weather was good. The old man said, “The weather is always good before the storm.”

And thoughts. Sitting and smoking and thinking if you should read or write. Thinking that maybe you should go for a walk and maybe you should get back to work. Should you work on your novel or take a day off? You don’t know and it doesn’t really matter. These are only thoughts you have when you first wake up. You sit back down. It’s already dark. You love the darkness, it’s a snap, no big deal, and as more rain comes down you’re taken back to the first true historical memory of your life. The day that in your eyes your generation was born. It began with a major malfunction.

Sitting on the ground you were in second…no…and it doesn’t really matter, it might have been first. All you can recall is that you were little. You were a kid. You were anxious and bored. You were in the old building and it was art class. The teacher pulled in a television on a cart and told you about space and the importance of this day. The smell of glue and paper all over the place. Little children on the thinly carpeted ground. It took so long. She couldn’t figure out the VCR. One of the kids got up and helped her. She had it on the wrong station and the room was filled with laughter.

She took charge and you could smell the popcorn machine down the hall. It was popcorn day on Tuesdays and it only cost a quarter. You had five of those. It was the best day. There would be no homework and the math books would stay home. How else would you get five bags of popcorn all the way back to your house?

Thoughts and history. The last class of the day and all systems go. The plug was in the socket and recess was canceled. Twelve to fifteen of your classmates sectioned off and this is when it began. For the rest of your schooldays this is the pocket of culture you’d stand back and view from. Some kids were well-behaved and some acted like they knew it all. You wanted to get back to the projects and go run around. You didn’t care about the screen.

You were told to hush by your little girlfriend. You didn’t like her anymore. You were much too little. This was no time for joking around. The screen was blue and then flimsy like a reflection in the stream. Shadows of the kids as the teacher corrected the darkness. Big eyes and everyone had bedhead and ribbons. Catholic Schools. The school is no longer there. Only this memory. The memory you have when you wake up.

We waited. The Challenger lifted and the blue skies, only a couple of clouds. Nobody said a word and the teacher looked at us with a strange draw, as if we were aliens. You made eye contact with her and she smiled. You said, Is it over yet? Is it time to get back to the stencils and crayons?

You were making a volcano for the science fair. You had the ingredients. You wanted to see what would happen when you combined the elements known as baking soda and vinegar. You smelled funny but you didn’t tell anybody what happened. The vinegar spilled in your little backpack on the bus ride to school. You only had a little left. Everybody said what is that smell. You said you didn’t know, but you knew.

Into the sky the challenger floated on a string of smoke. It didn’t mean anything to you…

And then it did. The first memory. The first time the bottom fell out. And it’s happened before and Hou-ston-we-have-a-pro-blem.

There was translation into the future. The third person. Yes. Similar words have been said throughout history, but on this day, and maybe only in your eyes, a new generation became aware as they listened to the walkie-talkie speaker that toned down the memory like a metal badge of honor given out after a dishonorable war.

Today. A memory. These are only thoughts. You now leave the memory alone and walk to the lake. And to write out what you dream is something you decide to do. You burn because you love something. You learn from burning too much. You remember the first words. It was a snap. The kids were aware…

“Obviously a major malfunction”

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