Post-it

August 20, 2004

Post-it

The ghost of my father keeps leaving me post-its. He sticks them in my bathroom. I know they’re his because of the handwriting. I wouldn’t have known I knew my father’s handwriting but I recognized it immediately.

Each post-it includes a quote from Werner Erhard, the founder of est. It’s not clear if my father knows that I know where he’s getting these quotes. Are ghosts capable of knowing such things? Can they read our minds?

The first post-it appeared last week. My father placed it in the middle of the bathroom mirror where I couldn’t miss seeing it. It read: You don’t have to go looking for love when it’s where you come from. Let me tell you, it was weird seeing these words in my father’s handwriting. I checked to see if the door to my apartment was locked. It was. I’m not sure why I did this because, like I say, I recognized my father’s handwriting. He has a characteristic way of writing his lowercase y‘s. I think he must write them backwards, beginning with the descending stroke on the right.

The quote seemed familiar, so I looked it up online. Werner Erhard. Then I checked to see if the post-it matched the post-its I keep in my desk drawer. It did, though that didn’t actually prove anything since I use standard, yellow, two-by-two-inch post-its. There must be billions of these in the world. Also what difference does it make if my father used my post-it or one of his own?

The second post-it appeared the next day. It wasn’t on the mirror this time but along the left-edge of the bathroom cabinet. It read: Create your future from your future not your past. I recognized this as Werner Erhard without having to look it up. My father used to say it to me all the time. I always took it to mean I should forget all the shit he pulled when I was a kid.

This got me thinking about that shit, which I don’t like to do, and pretty soon I was so pissed off that I went to my desk and wrote a post-it of my own: Create your lies from your lies not from mine. I wasn’t really sure what this meant but I liked it anyway, so I stuck it on the cabinet in the same spot where I’d found his.

The next day he left me another post-it, this time on the faucet. It read: Happiness is a function of accepting what is.

My own post-it was still where I left it. Had he read it? Knowing him he probably saw it there and ignored it. On the other hand I’m not even sure ghosts can read. I tried to look this up online. Of course I realize that people write all kinds of crap online, but I was curious if anyone had written an account of ghosts reading. No one had, at least that I could find. Not that this proves anything.

I suppose the real question is whether ghosts can change. I know they change in The Sixth Sense. That’s the whole idea of the film – all the ghosts, including Bruce Willis, are in the process of accepting their deaths, although they don’t realize this. There’s proof everywhere that they’re dead but they can’t see it.

Is my father in the process of accepting his death? It doesn’t seem so. Instead it seems that he’s lecturing me, same as always. Every day there’s a new post-it. The one this morning went: In life, understanding is the booby prize. That’s Werner Erhard as well. They’re all Werner Erhard.

I stopped writing my own post-its after the one about lies. For one thing, I don’t know if my father can read them, and for another, I doubt he would even if he could. Also, what’s the point? That’s the clincher. Even if my father can read, and even if he is reading them, there’s no point.

However, a few days ago he left a post-it that really pissed me off, coming from him. It said: Your life works to the degree you keep your agreements. The moment I read this, I rushed to my desk, pulled out a post-it, and scribbled two words in big block letters: DROP DEAD.

Then I remembered. He is dead. He’s dead and doesn’t know it. This made me laugh. Not because he’s dead but because I’d forgotten. I’m just like my father: neither of us can see how dead he is.

August 18, 2004

Buddy

I’m in the army and a robot is my best buddy. This is great except yesterday I had to watch my buddy’s head get blown off. We were crawling through a ditch on our bellies when there was a sudden flash of light and ka-boo, no robot head. I was grief-stricken because I really loved that robot. Also this was supposed to be a training session and nobody said anything about explosions and blown-up heads. Holding back tears I went up to Sarge and said, “Sarge, they blew the head off my best buddy.” Sarge shrugged and told me to shake it off. Typical Sarge.

Next morning I’m cleaning my gun and thinking about that blown-up head when Sarge introduces me to my new best buddy. This one looks and acts exactly like the last one except he can’t remember anything I told the last one. I guess all those conversations got blown up with his head.

The new one knows all the jokes told by the last one and tells them the same way. They’re all jokes about robot soldiers. For example:

Question: How many robot soldiers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Answer: One.

None of the jokes are funny, but I used to laugh anyway because I didn’t want to hurt my buddy’s feelings. Now I can’t laugh anymore. My new buddy doesn’t seem to notice this – or he if does, he never shows that he does. Instead he just pretends that I laughed and moves on to the next joke.

August 11, 2004

Man

There’s a man who sells candy bars on the subway. He keeps the candy bars in a cardboard box. I used to see him when I lived in Williamsburg and rode the JMZ train. He would walk from car to car and hold out his wares for the passengers to see. He never said anything. Maybe he didn’t speak English. Or maybe he had nothing to say. The one time I saw him make a sale, he held up a forefinger to indicate the price of a particular candy bar. One dollar. Probably all the bars cost a dollar.

He was beaten down. People who sell candy bars on the subway are invariably beaten down, but he was beaten down more than most. I believe this hurt his sales. He never smiled, never tried to make eye contact. He was like zombie, shuffling from car to car.

Once, late at night, I boarded the Brooklyn-bound J train at Canal and found him sitting there, alone, in the middle of an empty row. I had never seen him sit before. He had his cardboard box in his lap and was gazing across the aisle – at nothing, apparently.

August 6, 2004

Now

Among the things I must do, there is always the thing I want least to do. This thing is also the one that weighs on me most, its weight increasing in proportion to the amount of time I spend not doing it.

I know I have to do this thing to be happy and yet I still put it off.

Even now, as I write this, there’s something else I should be doing.