Devil’s Night, Competing with Jesus • 31 October 2009

Last week was the midterm—grading exams is such sweet hypnosis. I don’t mind it at all; and now ninety three more innocents have had the intimate differences between affect/effect and the importance of accurate apostrophe impressed upon them in no uncertain terms.

I was ticketed by the parking police yesterday in the most maddening way. I could tell you, but it would take the whole post and then we would miss the part about Hell night. The ticket—though—it sliced open my frustration at this economy and a sense of powerlessness I have within it. Horrible! This is useless! Nothing useless happens to me! (She says.) But then… that is the useful part. The steam from it, the way it ties up my ego in a new kind of pretzel-knot that will be most useful to sit in for eight breaths or eight days. The way it burns off my patience for bullshit. The urgency I a released pocket of frustration: well worth the sixty dollars and the excellent parking space it bought me.

And it was a large day, hour by hour, from dreams to practice to teaching to school and a seminar and beyond. I discovered retrospectively that if I believed in the finer points of Greek astrology (godhelpyou if you do), I’d have had some reassuring predictive tools at hand for the day. All auspiciousness: so it wouldn’t have taken me several exasperated hours to decide the parking ticket was a gift from—what’s her name?—God.

Meanwhile… now in transit to Ann Arbor, town that is trying to win my affections. (Well, who doesn’t feel affectionate toward the town with the highest social capital and best farmers’ market in the country? People who doubt cuteness. That’s who.) Just me, a neck pillow, and a couple of Tylenol PM (I’ll leave Shinzen’s “mindfulness method” of getting to sleep to the people in first class, thanks). Michigan’s high yesterday was 70—the zenith of autumn—and tonight while I fly it’s set to drop under freezing and not get back up much higher than 40 for the rest of the week. Well, how cute of you, Ann Arbor. Guess I’ll stoke the fireplace and put on the effing cider.

So much for working on me here, lady. I may appreciate your sweet acorn squashes and your leaves as they float down in to the awaiting Huron, but there’s only so far we’re going to get with this travel magazine idyll.

Probably better to embrace the dark side. The curfew’s already on tonight in Detroit—everyone has to be inside by six on the thirtieth of October. Devil’s night, Hell Night, the Night of Mischief… since the decline of Industry, Detroit has taken this night to be the one of self-immolation. Up to 800 fires a year and unbridled acts of vandalism all over the city. Did you know? It’s the night for mass cooperation against the man: burn down your house this night, everyone, and the firemen and insurance people will never keep up. There’s also a militia—a yoga police—50,000 strong, out there to try to keep people from torching up their old rotted boards and cashing in on the ashes.

But maybe Detroit should go for it? I fly in at six, before dawn, slipping in under the layer of lake clouds. We’ll see what kind of destruction is lighting the horizon.

And tomorrow, full moon Halloween. My birth day starts on the death-day, and then I rise three days later, cumpleando anos on the third.

It is thirty-three this year. I remember when my dad turned thirty-three, the disappointment that he was now the age of Christ when he died but had not yet accomplished nearly so much.

I don’t know. Christ’s even tougher competition than the Detroit citizen’s militia on the dawn of the day of the dead. I’m fairly delighted with thirty-three. It is easier not to compete with Jesus.