Saturday, February 04, 2006

Alive and Dying in America

Posted by Trott

Here's an update from PalaceFamilySteakHouse.Com's favorite published novelist, Adam Klein. Even his emails are poetry.

Dear Friends,

I owe most of you an apology for not responding to your emails and phone calls. And I feel lowly for writing a mass email to apologize. I took a job that required a move, purchasing a car, and basically starting from scratch with furniture, etc. Worst of all, the job is all-consuming, unlike anything I've ever encountered. I work about 11 hours a day and commute 1.5 hours. It leaves me feeling broken by the time I fall into my little studio in Menlo Park. I spend the couple of hours I have before bed paying bills, writing notes to myself in a day planner, and bemoaning the sad fate I've fallen into since returning from Bangalore. Nonetheless, I do recognize that working is probably a lot better than searching for work. I see so many despondent souls each day, falling deeper into debt, desperate. Such is the life of a case manager. Americans are tough people. Most have no safety nets. There's no mercy in the system.

I'm having a crash course on the ugliness of American suburbs. The strip malls proliferate, but nobody's on the streets. There's something so dead about it all. Of course I'm driving after 27 years of not having a car. I'm one of those people now, aggressive, in a hurry, under the trained vents of the air conditioner, getting soft around the middle, hard in the face. I spend weekends at the tire store and the jiffy lube and the car wash, and my mailbox is stuffed with mail from Geico. The building I live in is so quiet, people apologize for coughing. I wish they'd apologize for coupling, but they don't. By 7PM, you can't find a store open besides Walgreens. Sometimes I go there for something to do. I also play Phil Glass on the highway drives. The empty repitition of the music, the Levitz sign from the highway, the AMC theater with its 20 crappy films, the In-N-Out Burger -- all have the resonance of some great silhouetted ship sinking. Or a very uneventful apocalypse. And something about the slow leeching of the Bush administration, the lack of outrage or common sense by the citizenry, has made me feel like I'm living in stuffing that's really spun fiberglass. There's a disturbing veneer of saftey and order and control but an underlying anxiety that everything is just about to give way.

I don't think this is culture shock. I've been back too long and the feelings are too familiar. But perhaps it's all too negative, a psychic snowball effect where one complaint generates another. So blame it on this attitude of mine, and the endless little things that have gone into making my home liveable and my car reliable; these have contributed to my negligence in writing you. I do expect things to get better, at least for me personally, and will eventually get around to individual expressions of gratitude for your friendship and your patience. If anything, I am more than ever aware of how important my friends are...

On a lighter note, I've started a new band with an old concept and band name (The Size Queens), and it's refreshing to be in a studio on the weekends. The book crawls along, and somehow I managed to apply to 6 of the 8 universities on my list. This all may be over in September, so don't construct my pine box yet -- though I hear the worms are hungry.

Much Love,


<< Home