Vespers

coverAh-AH ch. Oh come onnn. For two weeks now I haven’t been able to sneeze. To complete a sneeze. Complete a sneeze? Sinus impotence—the inability to consummate the act of sneezing.

Wonder if that was sinful, just a minute ago. Pretending, as I flicked water off my toothbrush, to be a priest sprinkling holy water on the congregation. That knobbed, metallic instrument. What’s it called?

Yeah, no problem!

Strange how I hold doors open—moving my feet forward while an arm lingers awkwardly behind. Creates violent torsion of my midsection. Perhaps it’s admirable? Removing my face and body from the deed. Anonymous charity. Verily, I await my reward.

Hooosh-ahh. The wind brushes westward. I should spend time outside this weekend. And right choice with the sweater. Agh no but you’ll be warm in that stuffy classroom and you can’t take it off—you’re wearing that stained undershirt. Imprudent. And you thought it wouldn’t matter.

Three people (two boys and a girl and that’s a critical distinction) have commented on your paleness in the past month. She seemed concerned—when girls have alerted you to a physical imperfection, unless they dislike you, they have seemingly been trying to help you remedy a pressing issue. But boys unabashedly mock the obvious and it zings ya. Unimaginatively cruel. Though I suppose imaginative cruelty is more acutely distressing. Why thank you, I never realized that about my thumbnails.

But profundity comes only with the rejection of first thoughts, the dismissal of reactionary pop-ups. Fff-shiiit that porn virus.

Ooh sun and the moon both visible at this hour. You’d know this if you got outside. Behold! The sun and the moon opposed on celestial thrones, and the sun blooms in abdication. If only the moon could tan. Beware the fearful moon rays, they’ll turn you ghostly white.

Let’s see I’ve gottttt tuhtuh-ta five minut—fuck, this kid’s texting me again. A paragon of boredom. If they would not write you a letter, do not feel compelled to answer their texts, says my dad.

Why arrive this early. Nice little terrace there with a high vantage point. But if you climb up those steps to the railing they’ll think you’re suicidal. Eh, just plant an elbow down and look meditative and nature-loving. Graggly homeless man menacing his way down the broad sidewalk below—frightening certainly, but did Jesus mince his words when he said give to everyone who asks of you. Hmmn. Hmn. O still, small voice of calm.

Should be a bit early though. You never know which impression ossifies your character in the teacher’s mind. I maintain an undying faith in the mental gradebook.

Now you’re holding doors open like that on purpose.

Oh fri-shht that’s the professor four steps in front. Down, eyes, down. Phone out—look the definition of preoccupied. But. Hmn. No no don’t do that. She’ll note in her head, “Typical, distracted youth, lacking self-discipline. Improbable that he can read for more than five minutes in a single sitting. Presumably sneaks glances at his phone during class.” Okay, stay down, eyes. But look um…ruminating. Philosophical-like. Hands clasped behind the back too much? No, weird is good. Weird gets As. Look young too. And beleaguered. Like one of Blake’s chimney sweepers. Industrious gets As. “What a disciplined, determined student,” she’ll note. Eh, but just relax the pace. Fallll back, soldier.

Can’t shake that tingly-thumping nervous feeling I get when entering crowded rooms. Hi, professor. That was good. Involuntarily raised your voice an octave. It’s ingrained in you now. I guess I’m not lying when I tell girls I’m self-conscious. Self-deprecation works well enough—at the very least it spares you from the pretentious label. Death sentence, that.

Will never understand the students chitter-chattering as class starts. But let them appear unengaged. Bumps them down, raises you up in turn. Ohmygoddd these two girls behind me: “Everyone talks about how these philosophers were like geniuses. But like they did nothing with their lives. All they did was read books.” “I know! Like I could do that.” “Yeah like if I just like read all the time I could do what they did too.” If, if, if. “They just read and drank.” “Yeah and had slaves to do everything else.” “Yeah, like, yeah…”

Not surprising. Just look at the eyes on that one. A glazed look of vapid defiance. Speaks like how she processes the world—in choppy, electric fragments. Texting all class on her computer in loud, pangy, purple-fingernail bursts. A stupefying sound. And she hides her phone in her lap. Jesus. Would bet my life she smokes weed. I can picture it too easily. Those glazed eyes.

We lower the standard for each other. If we were educated in isolation, we might recognize and fulfill our potential. But we babble, babel. At the very least, we kill language.

Aghh-eh be kind c’mon be kind.

Participate four times? But focus on quality and eloquence. I should write out key words before. That’ll guide me so I don’t stutter or drone. Remember she doesn’t take the mike away. She lets you drown when you plunge too deep.

Really no point to taking notes, but she can tell if you’re drawing. Just scribble intermittently.

The words of high school: juxtaposition, dichotomy. The words of college: reductive, ontological.

Wow, you really cannot write script letters anymore. Particularly r.

Impressive the way she builds off even the most inane comments.

If I were given eight hours to come up with a profound thought, I would request to sit in the back corner of a large classroom. So long as no one typed too loudly. The environment somehow orders thoughts nicely.

Last comment got a bit away from you. You’re tired so don’t risk another one. Could undo all the good you did with your cogent first two.

Uhhggh dragging now. I can’t see a clockkk. Those girls talking—that had to be…what…fifty minutes ago? An hour maybe?

Dinner, then nap afterwards. Treat yourself with pizza, why not. You can work out Friday before you go out if you’re looking bloated.

Are we wrapping uppp? We’re wrapping up!

Okay, remember, this is where you separate yourself. Be extra attentive for the final three minutes. And when she dismisses class and everyone is packing, wait for thirty seconds and continue writing in your notebook. That’s the impression she leaves with. Could be pivotal. And as you walk out, smile at her but don’t say thanks. You’ll risk seeming obsequious.

That’s all right she just didn’t see me.

Ahhh.

Ooh bit chilly actually.

Nice that we can trap thoughts in our brains. Thoughts need time to revolve and pick up nuance.

Hhhhoooh. Pleasant still.

Should respond really. Yo sorry man what’s up I was in class

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