I am a gauge, a spiritual gauge, bobbing, floating, sinking, soaring, depending on the level of umph a place presents. A current traveling between rivers and lakes, places and people. A talentless wreck, a true American pervert. Some might call this perseverance, others call it failure.

It comes out in the wash that I am not me but that which I observe. Thus it is another day begins. Tomorrow, here at last. Heatwave in the city followed by a flash flood.

Last night, Lilli told me that she was considering removing herself from everything and starting an entirely new internet persona. I told her that I would be devastated. She told me to keep dreaming.

Opening the letters from the unemployment office, I learn that after combining my Oregon wages with my New York ones I have been approved for 192 dollars a month but that I only have ten days to get proof of my identification to the unemployment office.

So I put my shorts and flip-flops on, buckle my belt and fill my right pocket with a dollar’s worth of quarters. I go to a grocery store run by Asian people, remembering seeing that they fax and copy. The man who works there is taking trash to the curb. He comes in with me. A woman gets in line ahead of me. She is buying two packs of balloons and wants to know how much it would cost for the man to fill them for her.

“Seventy-five cents a balloon.” he says.

“Seventy-five cents?”

“Helium expensive.”

He presses the release on his tank, letting a couple spurts out.

“Don’t waste any.” the woman says.

The man tells her that he’ll give her a discount.

“Twelve dollars for all of them.”

“I’ll think about it” the woman says.

The man looks at me. I give him my identification and tell him that I need copies of both front and back. He hands them to a female worker who runs the copies for him. She sneezes on my identification while handing it back to me. I consider sanitizing it before putting it in my wallet but don’t want to carry my social security card all the way home, exposed like that.

“The bacteria will probably die soon.” I say.


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