cans-4up

Notes of an Adjunct Professor
by Kayla Blatchley

I am looking forward to my inevitable, extreme wealth. I understand many trainers will be there, and nutritionists to console me. Experts to whom I can finally give up my body. I am looking forward to this time when I will make no decisions, and become this very perfect, round shell. I will be like this plastic shade of a nightlight I used to plug into the wall.

*

Sure, there are bugs here. Not only do I see them, I need to believe they exist. The speck, gnat-like mechanism that flits around my arm as I reach to wipe, my arm extending – brought forth from the side of the toilet by the trash to bring to my other hand the toilet paper – he is there. The fuzz of grey descending from the hood of my sweatshirt that caused my eyes to cross as I followed it, surely a spider. I could not locate the sight of his landing, but I surely wafted at something. It may be winter, but this climate is rich in heartiness and these creatures are no exception. Their evidence is all around me.

*

I was furious this morning with the radio broadcast. Here it was twenty-five below and I had to captain this struggling vessel through calamitous flurries of snow drift and ice, its steel body creaking, its heart puffing and weak. I was afraid I would die momentarily. Time ceased to exist as a thing that passes and I inhabited the ever-present wonder, struck, stunned in the hostile cold, by the pitiless wind. The radio spoke of space talk. Galaxies, reaching. The years of study and attempts to contact.

*

I am incapable of being the woman who appears freshly showered, wearing smart clothes. My bag isn’t the right bag for that look. I have the wrong coat and it is ripped and I will not fix it. I don’t own accessories. Nothing is clean, or rather, clean enough at the same time. I have dark spots and dry patches, areas of profound curiosity, on my hands and face.

When I come into a room late, holding all the crap I hold when I’m looking busy and important, I don’t want the room to watch me. It’s none of the room’s business how I put down my crap and whether or not I hurt myself doing so. I have no fresh, showered face to calm the room into believing the hauling of crap matters and is getting me somewhere.

*

I wander the halls with impunity. Others, having to endure knowledge, look out the doors of their classes to see me freely passing. The darkness of a lecture hides all but their inconsummate, blinking eyes. The light — my light overhead in the hallway — glows. Ah, the papers clasped in my hand: official detritus of the copy machine from the main office. I am a member of the faculty. This stapled passport convinces me.

*

A young boy runs with his backpack toward his house, away from the bus stop, in the cold. He wears a thick coat that russles noisily, his feet in swift shuffle on the sidewalk drifts of snow. His noise and his hussle are the only actions on the street. I watch from the porch. He must have forgotten something. I feel my breath speed up to his.

*

All of the trash in the trash bin is white. The trash bag and the trash bin are white and all of the trash contained is white as well. I find myself leaning in to the white trash, the trash in the trash bin and the trash bag being white. I like this trash today. I must never change it.

*

I wanted to be the joke-maker. I made a face in the mirror just now, to not take myself seriously. I scrunched my neck and bugged my eyes a little. As I was doing so, my right cheek, by my nose, started to twitch involuntarily. I am unsure now, who the fun is being made of.

*

I live on a street with parking rules that require me to move my car at 6pm every evening. Every evening, 6pm, I have to move my car to the opposite side of the street. This, often, is inconvenient and a burden. It looms over the day, this tragic hassle, to interrupt, to anticipate, to put on shoes, unlock a door, walk down stairs, unlock another door, the impending threat of the assault from any passing neighbor, the insult of their possible notice taking. To fail, again, to leave the house except for this one moment, for this one chore.

It is a deviant, bald dare to complete this act before or after half an hour of 6pm and only after I have accomplished this magnificent, harrowing feat, can I truly rest and consume the full bounty of alcoholic beverages that placate me to whatever might be happening on a screen for me to look at. If we are honest, I am in ways grateful to the authorities for this opportunity to achieve, to have even this most minimal of accomplishments to satisfy my day.

*

The day will come when I chew the burning butt of my cigarette, when I will forget, in that moment, what I am bringing to my mouth and the action I am supposed to take with what I am being offered.

*

A man of an appropriate age made eye contact with me today. His eyes, spindled with red, spoke to me beneath the heavy skin of a deep exhaustion I understood to mean sex. That I should have sex with this person. He looked at me. We were getting needs met, in his transaction as my pharmacist.

*

Who are these people who have met other people they are allowed to touch?

*

What if I am too drunk by six to move my car? No one here knows how to drive a stick. I have foiled myself again and again. At the rate I’m going, my arrest will console me, save me from the small wiggle, back and forth, of my automobile shimmying, facing one way, now the next. I cannot make sense of such madness. Only incarcerated will someone finally say to me “You can’t! You can’t!”

*

There are many definitions of success. That I have managed to come away from this night with my coat, hat, scarf, wallet and credit cards intact is one of them. It is scientifically proven that bugs resist directional assistance and will not abide human guidance. I am that scientist.

*

My pussy has sometimes smelled like a sliced, wet potato, uncooked. Russett.

*

I wonder what chemicals in my brain are responsible for those sudden onslaughts of panic, those convincing impressions that alarms will sound at any moment, abrupt and angry knocks on the door – I have forgotten I have forgotten – when will my inadequacy and failure ring loudly as consuming force throughout a building on fire, in flame?

*

I laughed today when some of the cat food left on a fork fell in your coffee container. A hearty laugh, which you probably wouldn’t recognize.

*

The neighbor across the street opened his front door, which opened inward, and stood inside as he knocked on it. Then he closed the door again.

*

I lost one glove at the supermarket – the glove for my right hand – and am now reminded, every day. It was too much, once I’d realized the glove’s absence from my pocket, to go back into the supermarket aisles, to retrace my steps. I stood – weighing the improbability, the darkness, against setting myself free from the store. I could not return. Self-respect and pride had little to do with it. I simply had to protect myself from repeating what was meant to be concluded: that same wandering, head bent, afraid among options, near displays.

*

My bed taught me something about my body. About how when you get into a bed and your feet remain cold it is not necessary to rub them together, as soon, a fever will come to embrace your whole person. Just take your damp socks off, some might say, but they are the ones who are afraid of life, afraid of experience.

*

I was thinking, earlier, how sexy it would be to crash into the car in front of me. We were coming upon a yellow light turning red. I had run my errands. It was a silly box of a car that wouldn’t feel any real damage. But who is in that car? Who in their right mind is driving it, in front of me? I could give them such a nice surprise.

Such accidents are always unexpected. We could maybe get to know each other. We would exchange information. Forever we would have this moment between us. I would know what they looked like, what their face would do in such a circumstance, meeting me. What it comes down to is those compressed red lights. I sometimes take them to imply more than they do.

*

The dog bit after we passed each other, sneaking up from behind and catching the lower back of my hip, on the decline toward definite ass. Not the round outward nor the full cheek but the impress in between. I had thought nothing. I had thought it was only a lunge, perhaps a long nail, and continued walking. Dogs jump. There is no need to remark upon a dog jumping on a person, I hardly turned.

A sharp sting persisted, grew precise and found its fullness in between my hip and ass. I unbuttoned my pants for an investigation. The skin was raised. Hmm, I thought to myself. How did this happen? He had only lunged, a dog jumping, unremarkable. But then this raised skin and this sting. There is no other explanation. How did he get me here? What is this fullness where I am bent in?

Later, I showered, and the raised skin had become a bruise. Red lines on either side where his mouth would have opened, a deep eggplant purple of lips. My blood spread to meet where his teeth found me, where I am bent in and had thought nothing.

*

I like a good substance abuse problem. How insulting, how unattractive it would be to fuck someone whose demeanor even suggested that yes, life: he could handle that.

*

If we are taking stock I should tell you I have my own teeth. I am qualified for many positions. It’s hard to pick something up here without finding some hair, or, carrying something wayward with you.

I am currently learning how to be one of those new age girls. I am identifying with these music players – musicians, they call themselves — on this screen I have selected to play music for me. I am there with them. We are all cool together. I get it, kids. I get it.

*

I don’t think the growths on my skull are something I am making up. I do have a confirmed calcium bump, but this is not the lump I’m referring to. I am referring to these deposits above my ears like swollen bites that do not itch but ask for intervention. Maybe something medical will happen to me today.

*

I refuse to get a new coat. The wind chill takes us below any recognition of life or life thoughts. It is not philosophy and it is not death and it is not religion but we are hungry and we are hunting with anger. It is that cold.

*

Sleeping in such positions as: on my back with left leg bent, toe to my knee; on my side spooning down, intruding upon the down with my crotch; arms flanked, elbows spitting out from my head – I felt pressed. Many presidential thoughts occurred to me.

*

We are all here to be taught something. To endure, edit, to impose such forces as my breath gently curdling between your ear and hair, the clacking exhaustion and deep apathy with which you pick the wire spiral of your binder. I have plainly set forth every instruction.

*

I hold water when I drink it, carrying it in my mouth from room to room. I wait an immeasurable amount of time before I swallow, the perfect exact amount of time it takes to forget, exactly long enough for me to forget I have all this water in my mouth. I am surprised when it dawns on me that I still have this water and feel pleasure when I think, hey, I better swallow that. I am taking good care of myself. Everything is fine.

 

Kayla Blatchley is a writer and teacher living in Syracuse, New York. Her stories have also appeared in NOON, Unsaid and online at twoseriousladies.org.

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