onsdag, september 13, 2006


The phrase “to cut one’s teeth” disgusts me. I am disgusted now. Yet, the use of the phrase interests me. I love phrases. I love words. Like Hamlet says when he’s feigning madness (Is he feigning, hmmm?), “Words! Words! Words!” I love the bending of language and intermingling of languages, the way the Germans embrace mongrel children such as Das Computer while the French kick e-mail to the curb in favor of courriel…which comes, surprisingly, from the Québécois, the French language's step-child.

I love the way Danish floats softly with rhythm and poetry from the mouths of women but swells for the bursting in the mouths of men. The words emerge guttural and ill fated, as if a Danish man will, at any moment, vomit his entire esophagus, a hard rubber fist, perhaps a full-grown crow still sopped with the jelly of its birth.

Or maybe it’s simply because the cutting of teeth reminds me of the opening chapter of Pynchon’s V in which Pig Bodine—wasn’t it Pig Bodine?—has teeth he’s filed to points. Or because I love Clem Snide’s song “Loneliness Finds Her Own Way,” one of the only Snide songs I think really has its act together. It includes the line “I’m cutting my teeth on her shoulder and cracking my knuckles while holding her hand.”

Gross, but good.

The Tongue With Which I’m Trying To Speak

Prior to nearly all trips (and dental visits), no matter how dearly I look forward to them (This does not apply to dental visits), I cut my tongue on my teeth…and that’s a literal cutting. At night I feel the cuts coming.

I’m off in my half-dream state, the place in which I’m willing, sort of, whatever visions and conversations. This is the place in which I’ll do things that weeks later I’ll realize never happened.

The birthday card has not been sent. The laundry remains undone. No one spoke cruel words to me. I haven’t bought those black jeans, dammit. And you, my dear friend who I see so rarely, did not in fact call and tell me how your new job is going, but it’s going well, thank god, because I imagined you telling me so and I was so close to sleep that it must have been true. It was a thing I stole from your head the moment you could not resist sleep and I could not find it.

Time is too slow or too fast in this state. It never matches the state of the waking. It’s like waking time in retrospect, the way one realizes that it is almost 2007. Everything before has been woven into a single scarf characterized only occasionally by a bit of uneven stitching. Winter will come, nonetheless. Winter will go. A friend’s child that was once a child is grown. Some friends are no longer friends. One has been alive many years. One has many years to go.

(Heather: We must, when I arrive in Vegas, have the Old Letters party, for you and I have, habitually, written but not sent so many letters. And we’ve a decent number of sent ones in the well. Who the hell have we been? Good souls, yes, but I agree: I don’t remember me, just as you do not remember you. We are ex-patriots of our own lives.)

In these half-awake hours I catch myself pressing my tongue firmly against my teeth, biting my tongue, curling it atop these damn vampiric eyeteeth.

The cuts, when they form, match the points of my lower front teeth exactly, eyetooth to eyetooth. They fit together like a little raw puzzle in the shape of a smile.


Today I leave for the future: Japan. Two weeks. Tokyo, then Yokohama, then Tokyo once more.

Déjà vu ain’t so bad.

The point of my tongue is tender but the cut I know is there is not there, at least not yet. I’ve concentrated at night on pressing my tongue against my lower lip. I reign in my lip. I sit up, close my eyes even though it is dark, and speak Japanese to the darkness. I let the words work on my jaw, let them roll about my head. I puzzle out the r which is like a d, or the d that’s like an r. The f which sounds like a Southern Baptist preacher inverting the wh in what. The f which sounds like an f.

I cannot eat seafood. I’m afraid of dying in many ways. But for better or worse, the word vegetarian, like homosexuality, is a word nearly all languages have adopted whole-parcel from the English (which has drawn upon the Latin and Greek), as if the concepts themselves were just as foreign. Everywhere.

I’m riding the subway. I’m crossing with the crowd outside Shibuya Station. I’m 12 hours ahead of my siblings in Minnesota, six hours ahead of Mama and Papa (pronounced in my mouth Muh-MAH and Puh-PAH) in Sweden. I’m winding back into an electric neighborhood believing I really do know where my hotel is even lost in a night conjured by another language and an entirely different way of life.

The earth is spinning at 927 mph beneath my feet. My heart is alive. My brain burns hot thoughts against its cage, my eyes against my new surroundings. All these people with whom someone is destined to fall in love.

My eyes are bluer and wider by the moment. My mouth shrinks. I will not sleep. I’m losing weight.

I’m gone.
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