I woke up in a strange place

By Marc Heiden, since 1997.
See also: a novel about a monkey.

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February 18, 2003

I had a nice Mike Saul's Birthday on Friday. His roommates made tacos and invited people over. Saul regaled the dinner party with stories of knife fights from his smuggling days in the South China Sea. The only unpleasant moment came midway through a story about a one-armed card shark he once knew. Without explanation, Saul stopped talking, became possessive of the ground beef and grew belligerent towards anyone who asked for it. He never finished the story. In time, he released the ground beef for general consumption, but by then, the ice cream cake had been delivered. Later, we went to a bar, The Hideout, where they were celebrating some other, obscure holiday. We leaned against the wall and discussed who in the crowd would last how long in Okinawa during a full moon.

Tomorrow, the 19th, is my own birthday.

(news) Aspiring British artists are being offered the chance to head south and chill out creatively in the world's last great wilderness, Antarctica. British Antarctic Survey and the Arts Council of England are offering to take two selected artists free of charge down to the frozen continent to spend two months working during the southern hemisphere summer. Places are open to painters, poets, photographers, film-makers and writers with the condition that they produce works inspired by their experiences and underscoring the scientific significance of Antarctica. "We are trying to spread the scientific message of why Antarctica is so important," a BAS spokeswoman told Reuters. "These people might go on producing works based on their experiences on the ice for years to come," she added.

Obviously, I am raging. Why am I not British? I plan to indict some motherfuckers in the present criminal conspiracy to classify me as not being British, and I plan to hand down those indictments with a fury. I will raise that question with my family when we get together later this week for me and my brother's birthday. At first, they will think that I am joking. In the meantime, someone has to begin petitioning these people to drop the 'UK Nationals' requirement, thereby ending their obeisance to this goddam conspiracy against my peace of mind. Either that, or I need a quick green card marriage. Do they have those in the UK? Somehow, I doubt it. This is very complicated. Damn it.

I realized, while talking to a long-time reader in person for the first time at the aforementioned Hideout, the good Ms. Haffner, that I never finished the story of my retarded plant from last spring. I thought that other readers might also be wondering, so I will belatedly conclude the tale now. The Human Resources department here at RabbiCo likes to hand out presents to every employee whenever a Jewish holiday comes around. I'm generally aware of when Passover or Rosh Hashanah is on the docket, because I suddenly have triple the work load, but holidays like Shavuoth and Tu B'Shevat tend to catch me off-guard. The latter, Jewish Arbor Day, provided occasion for Human Resources to deposit a potted plant on everyone's desk. I like plants well enough, but I have never claimed to be able to take care of one, let alone one with the severe developmental disabilities that my plant turned out to have. This was a slow plant, a special ed plant. This plant could not do much on its own. To make matters worse, the rabbi hates it when Human Resources gives out gifts, so he waited until I went to the bathroom and then put his plant on my desk. We had a furious row about whether his plant was my responsibility. I lost, of course, because I have a shred of human decency. So, now I had two plants, one of which was clearly stealing light and nutrients from the other, retarded one, and the entire situation was bringing me down. The rabbi's plant got tossed in with a communal bunch of plants that I found in another part of the floor. The janitorial staff takes care of those. The ultimate fate of my own plant is somewhat harder to talk about. It was not doing well, even during a trial residency in the communal bunch. They were doing some landscaping across the street at the then-new UBS Warburg building, and I carried my plant over there. What happened next is too personal to talk about. Have you ever read or seen Of Mice and Men? Oh, poor, sad, retarded plant. Oh, poor, sad, retarded world.

I woke up in a strange place is the work of Marc Heiden, born in 1978, author of two books (Chicago, Hiroshima) and some plays, and an occasional photographer.

Often discussed:

Antarctica, Beelzetron, Books, Chicago, College, Communism, Food, Internet, Japan, Manute Bol, Monkeys and Apes, North Korea, Oregon Trail, Outer Space, Panda Porn, Politics, RabbiTech, Shakespeare, Sports, Texas.


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Written by Marc Heiden, 1997-2011.