Cat-Rhymes

The cat sat on the bed.

The cat wanted to be fed.

It made eyes at its owner,

Who was a great loner,

And went to get food from the shed.

**

The cat sat on the couch.

Its owner was also a grouch.

When she wanted to share,

The cat thought “You dare?”

And the owner then screamed out an “Ouch!”

**

The cat sat on the floor.

The cat was very much bored.

The human tried to play,

But the cat ran away,

And played with an electrical cord.

**

The cat sits wherever it wants.

Every part of the house it haunts.

It owns the house,

From sofa to mouse,

And the human only gets taunts!

How?

How do people fall in love?

How do human beings form out of little gobs of nothing inside a womb?

How do musicians make music?

How do composers think up entirely new music?

How do writers think up the right words for the story?

How do people retain hope when things go badly?

How do people lose themselves so completely?

How did Nestle Tolehouse come up with the perfect cookie recipe?

How do you even decide when something is perfect?

How do migraines get cured?

How did human beings learn to think?

Sometimes when I think about the amount of things I don’t know, I feel overwhelmed. But then I relax, when I realize that I’m in the majority, and that anyway, sometimes the answers don’t matter – just thinking up the questions can be enough.

Here.

It hasn’t sunk in. It doesn’t feel real. It feels like a vacation, not like the beginning of a new life. It feels like a temporary jaunt, not like the prologue to the newest chapter of my life.

The city is enormous and Manhattan is only one small, accessible bit of it, but it’s the only bit I’ll get to know in my few days before moving into my new living space – THE DORM.

Manhattan is an endless stream of humanity, constantly coming and going. It makes me think like The Little Prince – I see the people going one way and then see the people coming back and I wonder: weren’t they happy where they were? Then the inevitable answer: no one is happy where they were. I hope it will be different for me, though.

I wish I were an ant, part of the endless anthill, knowing my place and my responsibility and the way I fit into the grand scheme of things. Instead, I’m simply another conscious human, acting half by instinct and half by intellect, trying to find my way and my place.

It’s a beginning. I’m here.

The Businessman

The Businessman sat at the same restaurant every day during his lunch break. Every day was the same for The Businessman, and one of his few joys was ordering a different thing for lunch every day. He would take the specials each day, and if the specials contained something he absolutely hated or was allergic to, he would take one his favorite regular dishes. In this way, he managed to keep the favorites special, and he never got sick of them.

The Businessman had the same routine at the restaurant every day. First, he would find a table outside. Rain or shine, he had to sit outside. If there were no tables available, which happened sometimes during tourist season, he would wait. The waiters, the servers, even the manager knew him, and they always managed to find him a seat quickly. Once he found a suitable table, he would sit down and reach into his bag. He had a worn black leather briefcase, one that looked dignified but not stuffy and too new. He would take three things out of his bag at first.

The first was a bag of tobacco. The second was a box of rolling papers. The third was a lighter. Until the waiters came over – and indeed, the waiters knew not to come over until this ritual was over or they would need to deal with a very flustered man – he would meticulously roll himself three cigarettes. He would smoke one before the meal, the second after the meal, and the third after his post-meal coffee. He felt that rolling his own cigarettes was the one roguish behavior that he’d kept from his college days when he’d been wild and carefree.

The Businessman considered himself to be rather homely. He didn’t think he had particularly interesting features, and he knew that he blended in with the endless flow of suited men in their late forties. He didn’t realize that his eyes were a beautiful and rare light blue. He didn’t seem to notice the fact that he cut a fine figure. He wasn’t entirely aware of the fact that his face, lined as it was, was full of character and intelligence. He only saw himself as The Businessman, a man who knew and understood his trade but couldn’t explain what he did to others very well. Because of this, he was convinced that he was boring.

The Businessman ordered a different thing every day at the restaurant. He hoped that one day he would take a last meal there, shake the waiters’ and the servers’ and the manager’s hands goodbye, and turn his back. He hoped he would have the opportunity and the courage to go somewhere different one day and leave the business district forever. He hoped.

Blllrraghl

In acting classes, there are always those extremely odd sessions where the teacher tells everyone to start speaking gibberish. I have to say that apart from being one of the sillier exercises a person can endure, it is also extremely interesting. I know that it might sound strange to say that a bunch of people standing around and making noises that are reminiscent of two-year olds’ babble is interesting, but it is.

Let me try to explain my point. People communicate by tone of voice and facial expression as well as by speech. For instance, a person can say the word “sure” and mean a few different things. They might mean “sure, yeah, right” in a sarcastic way, they might mean “sure” as in “okay,” or they might mean “sure” as in “oh, alright…” The only way we can distinguish between the possibilities is by the tone of voice and the expression used, as well as the body language the person uses while he or she is speaking.

The exercise of speaking gibberish is fascinating, because people can actually enact whole scens of love, friendship, anger or betrayal by not using any real words at all, but rather by using body language, facial expressions and tone of voice to make their meaning come across. It’s a terriffic exercise, and even though it’s hard to let yourself go and make pointless sounds for an hour, there’s a catharsis in being able to throw away all dignity whatsoever in such a performance.

Cat Logic

Human logic: I feed the cat, therefor the cat is mine.
Cat logic: Human feeds me, therefor, human is my slave.

Human logic: Best time to pet cat is when relaxing, in front of the TV for instance.
Cat logic: Best time to be pet is when human is shuffling papers, typing on keyboard, or, as a general rule, whenever human is busy.

Human logic: Awe, my cat is rubbing his head on my leg. My cat loves me!
Cat logic: Notice me, Slave. I’m hungry.

Human logic: My cats are cuddling with each other – how sweet!
Cat logic: I’m cold, and am putting up with the other fur-ball. Turn the heater on, Slave.

Human logic: I’m a decent person, but I sure know my flaws and limits.
Cat logic: I am a cat. Therefor, I am perfect.

Human logic: Some days, I wish I could sleep forever. I know I can’t do that, though.
Cat logic: Zzzzzz…

Mind-Space

Oftentimes it feels as if that space between one’s ears, that space that isn’t very large and shouldn’t be able to hold so much information – that space sometimes feels overfull. Thoughts crowd it, vying for position as the foremost amongst them. Feelings, which ultimately are all just caused by strange surges of electricity or chemicals, feelings also seem to crowd their own chambers; they don’t often make sense, and they tend to mix with the thoughts more often than not, causing a terrible tangle.

If only one could card out one’s thoughts and emotions like so much dirt out of wool. If only there were a way to silence the hundreds of half-formed ideas and concepts that jump around, just for a moment, just for a temporary relief. The silence and the privacy of that place in the mind seems somehow to be overwhelming and crowded, and one can’t help but wonder how, and if, anyone else deals with this.

Who knows? Perhaps you’re the only one with a crowded, tangled, snarled and unorganized mind. Perhaps everyone else’s minds work differently, perhaps they’re organized in tidy drawers and the thoughts can be pulled out neatly, one by one, and examined at the thinker’s leisure. Then again, maybe not. Maybe humanity, that sole race that seems to have such an extent of consciousness, is made up of billions of confused and messy-minded individuals, and each wonders if their mind is unique or if it is like this for everyone.

Nightclub

As you enter, you hit not so much a wall, but rather a whole cathedral of sound. There is no escape, no corner where relief from it can be found. If you’re there, you’re not looking for that kind of relief anyway. No, if you’re there, if you’re one of the mass and crush of bodies that fill the place, you’re looking for the kind of relief that can be found only in surrounding and drowning yourself in sound.

Darkness – though punctured by swirling colored lights one moment and a bright flashing white light the next moment – is still the feeling and the living presence that dominates the space. You can feel it in every square inch, the darkness being beckoned and welcomed as a savior, as a necessity, as a living thing to be worshiped. The throng of people treat the darkness as a blessing, a way to keep their anonymity, a way to overcome shyness or fear, a way to live out their wildest sides.

The music is no less important than the darkness. It seems to induce madness, or perhaps levitate towards ecstasy, as people lose themselves in the movement, in the noise, in the never-ending thrum of the bass in their hearts and stomachs. Smoke coils endlessly in the air, the pungent smell of strong alcohol mixing with it, as cigarettes are lit one after another, as drinks pass from hand to hand.

Paranoid Much?

I haven’t written about my clients before – both because they’re not always very interesting and because I’m not technically supposed to. I work for a credit card company, so I get to talk to just about every sort of person you could imagine: Smart, dumb, confused, annoyed, happy, thankful, nice, sweet, appreciative, secretive, and a hundred other moods and traits. It’s interesting to hear the different people and the different voices, and it’s interesting to see how differently people act with their money.

Today, however, I actually have an interesting story about a client, a specific one. The call started out nice and polite – he wanted to know his credit limit and what money will be coming out of his bank account. He was very sweet, talking to me a bit about where our company is in the country and making sure we were away from any danger [Israel is in a “situation” right now.] Then, somehow, slowly but surely, he started telling me about problems he had with banks in the past.

I thought, at first, that he was just a rambler – there are some people like that, who are lonely or bored and take the opportunity to get some conversation into their day when they call us. Soon, though, he started telling me, in a calm voice, about how his phones are tapped, how he’s followed everywhere, how his mail is examined and stopped, how he’s been cheated in place after place.

Eventually, he made me understand that the sole reason for his telling me all this was because he knows our calls are monitered and recorded for future reference if needed, and he told me he planned to use the calls he makes to us in court – to prove… something or other. I really have no idea. It was rather creepy though – the man sounded so sane and on top of things, and then I felt, as the call progressed, that there was something seriously wrong here.

But who knows, right? Maybe in six months there will be a big story in the paper about this man. You never know I suppose.

Just A Bench

Think of a bench you know. Just a bench, a regular bench – just made of some planks of wood and a few rusty nails. Picture this bench that you see every day, on your way to work or the supermarket, and never think about twice. And now, indulge me for a moment, and really think about it. There is life in that bench.

A thousand people have sat on that bench. Hundreds have put their arms around the back of it, or perched on the edge of it, or lay down upon it. So many have stopped to tie their shoes there, or put down their grocery bags on it for a moment, or even walked along on top it for fun.

This bench, this commonplace, every day object has witnessed so much: Old men sitting on it and schmoozing for hours, watching the world go by; Old women putting down their purses on it and waiting there for the bus into town; Children have walked on it, holding their parents’ hands and squealing, feeling so high up; Those same children, years later, sitting on it and fervently passing a cigarette around late at night, feeling naughty; The homeless have made homes of it; The drunkards have made beds of it; The mad have had conversations with it; The weather has, of course, never shown it one bit of mercy.

This bench has probably encountered more people than we will speak to in a lifetime. This bench, in a way, has held more life than we will ever know upon its rickety wooden planks, carved and scratched and scarred as they are, holding the memories of hundreds upon hundreds. This bench is more alive and full of memory and experience than we will ever be able to comprehend.