outwait outrun outwit


an archive of pleasures, wounds, sublimations
& other curiosities :: profile


In the diner around the corner, the girl sweats profusely. Perched atop an orange vinyl-covered stool slick with her sweat, she inhales coffee, a hundred flapjacks, fifty grilled cheese sandwiches, daily. Distracted, she neglects newspaper, journal, books.

Like too many birds tittering gossipy in one tree, she's agitated; she can't sit still—and it's not a productive sort of restlessness. She can't work. Write, that is. Ideas are quickly tossed away. Stories emerge malnourished. Too many places in her head, too many places vying for inspection.


She's at home, nose in her book, or many books, meditations on the senses deceived, on death, on the 'perfect murder', the death penalty:

"In more ingenuous times, when the tyrant razed cities for his own greater glory, when the slave chained to the conqueror's chariot was dragged through the rejoicing streets, when enemies were thrown to the wild beasts in front of the assembled people, the mind did not reel before such unabashed crimes, and judgment remained unclouded. But slave camps under the flag of freedom, massacres justified by philanthropy or by a taste for the superhuman, in one sense cripple judgment. On the day when crime dons the apparel of innocence--through a curious transposition peculiar to our times--it is innocence that is called upon to justify itself."--from The Rebel, Albert Camus


Or the girl has just arrived in Kenwood, pop. 900, a small town nestled between Santa Rosa and Sonoma. Pillowfight, anyone? How can anyone resist smiling at the possible tableau of friends grinning dazed and muddy, medusas all, feathers thick in their hair?

Still, she is mildly disturbed by the possibility of three or four hours of tacky displays of starry-eyed nationalist fervor


"What to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all the other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence. (To the slave) your shouts of liberty and equality (are) hollow mockery: your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety and hypocrisy."--Frederick Douglass, July 5, 1852


Now she's in high school, teeth gritting through a procession of Vietnam war movies that would later give her dreams that bloomed bloody behind her eyelids during the nights when she wasn't playing somnambulist, wandering around the house in a post-traumatic haze.


In her latest dream, a lit firecracker hisses lively while sudden artillery fire snap-crackle-pop, a catchy commercial jingle for a complete breakfast.

Her teeth clenches in deep slumber.


The phone rings. Behind the counter, Mrs. Kim answers curtly, in Korean, jarring the girl out of her reverie.

Frustrated, she realizes she's read three pages and can't remember a single damn concept. (Old story, eh?)


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