I’m Sick Of It. (And Yet…)

I’m sick of it.
And what is “it”
When we discuss being sick of it
Or wonder what time it is
Or notice that it is raining?
I’ve pondered that question before
And gotten somewhere
But not anyplace I could touch, taste
Or feel on my face as the wind blew.

So I decided to get more concrete
Even though I’m not a concrete person, usually.
Thing is, when it comes to being sick of it
Ideas pour out and gel
Liquid thoughts that flow, then freeze
In the tundra of my mind
Ice cubes of sick of it that we can touch and taste
Even if the taste is mostly just coldness
With a little bit of taint from the food
That froze next to the water.
“It” becomes real.

So here we go.
I’m sick of mean people
And moral high ground people
And people who brag by seeming humble
(Oh, nothing much is going on: just heading to Paris as part of my grant)
And people who give each other looks and crease their mouths
When I get comfortable and stop acting like the public version of me.

What are moral high ground people?
Can you guess?
Have you ever encountered one?
They’re the people who tell you to smile at the lady who called you ugly
And at the men who jeered at you when you tripped on the sidewalk.
“You should be the big one,” I’ve been told.
“You should take the moral high ground.”
I’m sick of the moral high ground.
I’m sick of it.

I’m sick of the guy in my building
Who smells like sweat and ginger cologne
Always holding the elevator door for me.
“Comin’ up?”
“No, I need to check my mail.”
“Should I wait?”
“No, it will take a while.”
“I’m in no rush.”
“You can’t imagine how slow I am. You have no idea.”
“OK,” he says, waving.
And then I want to scream, though I know how sad that sounds.

I’m sick of slaving and coming out with nothing
And it’s not just big things.
Take the cards I bought a few days ago.
I hung out at the bookstore for at least a half hour, choosing them.
Who takes a half hour to choose cards?
You have your answer!
Feel free to laugh, but don’t do it in front of me
At least not right now.
I examined and pondered various cards:
Bold stripes vs. subtle renditions of skies, trees, or flowers
Owl patterns, cat patterns, photographs of feasts.
Finally, I found nice ones with no holiday message!
But would you believe I don’t even remember exactly how they looked?
I think they had a white background, with a line drawing of trees
And at least one red bird in the trees
But I couldn’t tell you for sure
Because I don’t have the cards.

I bought the cards, but then what?
I thought I put them in my desk drawer, but I guess I didn’t
Unless they were whisked away by magic, or a card thief
Or a weird kind of wind that takes only cards
And somehow guides them out of people’s homes
Even if all doors and windows are closed.
Or maybe I left them at the store after zipping up my knapsack
And folding the receipt into my wallet.
I should have just taken $17 and mashed it up in the sink.
That would have been much easier and faster
Than wasting it on invisible cards.

I spent a whole morning searching for the cards
Then sat on my bed and yelled:
“Where are the cards? What happened? It doesn’t make sense!”
Several times.
And then I said, out loud, to no one
Except maybe the consciousness that, who knows,
Might listen when I think I’m alone:
“This sums up my whole life. Help. I need help.”

I’m sick of finding a hair in my food.
I’m sick of bell peppers whose flavor corrupts my entire meal.
I am sick, sick, sick of calories and saturated fat
And people with colds who want to shake my hand before we eat.

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I’m sick of the sun going down
And cars
And drivers who splash dirty water onto the sidewalk
And the fact that paid work is almost never the work I really want to do.

I’m sick of not being able to sit around all day
Trying new kinds of cheese
And cupcakes
And watching dim sum carts fly by until I see something I want.
I’m sick of life having more grayness than paradise.

You know what’s bizarre, though?
Yes, I am sick of it
Sick, sick, sick
Of almost every aspect of “it” I can think of
And many more that my brain can’t call up
Though I feel them in my kishkes…
But I want it to last forever.
Yes, that “it”: the “it” that pretty much means everything.

I need time to shift it
To rest on top of it
And plunge within it
As soon as it softens a bit.
I need time to arrive… elsewhere.

Not away from it
It’s all there is, after all.
Maybe… on the other side of it
Or with glasses that allow me to see it in a different way
Or with some kind of guide to it
Or with a tool that helps me slice into it
And chew it up, slowly
Savoring the pleasure I’ve never been able to access before.

Thing is, occasionally, it is glorious.
That evening when you laughed with friends
And said: “I feel the same way”
And meant it.
That perfect cheese with the concord grape jam
And figs, little toasted hazelnuts, and candied orange rinds.
The time when you actually found something beautiful:
Big flowering cacti, exploding fireworks, a baby’s curly hair.
That morning when someone was nice
Not a family member, not a friend, at least not yet
Just someone who wanted to help
And they did help.
And you weren’t embarrassed, just grateful and pleased.

None of this happens often enough.
But I can wait until it grows in frequency and power.
I can wait and wait and wait
Forever, and even beyond, if that’s possible.
Keep bringing it on
And maybe it will shift.
I am ready, so ready, for something else
But I can take it, all of it
As long as there’s hope that something brand new will come.

Maybe, one day, I’ll find the place where the cards went.
And would you believe…
I know that it—wherever it might be—is filled with some kind of peace.