THE PIZZAMAN DIARIES 2 // Russell Jaffe
It’s the night before working again.
I’m learning to drain the sting of seeing the schedule and the nights.
I like being there for Celestine’s bedtime. I feel a kind of sad I cannot write when I think about this.
But what’s a week, cosmically? Everything? When I write and talk about it, I feel better because of the normality.
But I don't like how it feels inside rolling around, and my spirit stretches back to that shape. I don't like
to be away.
I got the schedule and it’s going to start picking up but a lot.
Looking out over bodies of water. The sun going down plinking up the sky like a drop of water splashing more water up, cascades bass and deep, things to think about.
What am I waiting out and am I? What wild?
I had my first order screw up.
917 Forest Ave; there are two in towns four minutes apart.
I came to where the sidewalk ended, terminating in railroad tracks and trees.
It's so funny how we want to write. Why did I want to call it a mercy killing?
Probably pointless to restate the implied, but emotional states are landscapes.I'm figuring out more delivering pizzas that it's healthy to go back to things that are simple.
In a hallway of a condo unstuck in American time, I wrote the following:
I deliver among American landscapes.
Life in buildings, corridors, slats of wood, numbers, fixtures.
This little old white lady gave me a 75¢ tip, repeating the last word of the price I'd repeat for her a few times, and it's cute writing a diary, but it really bothered me.
Later, in a hotel I got lost in in floor after segmented floor, one of those small and old world hotels that's both huge, stately, with islands of bars around every isthmus of carpeted corridor and elevators that feel like brass pulled by a cable held by a huge great ape with a bellhop hat. At the room closest to the elevator at the top, a young family gave me no tip. The kid was super sweet, on a bed in his jammies. They were excited about the pizza they'd never tried in this city-- Chicago, they'd never been to. The woman, black, heavy set, a large man behind her shirtless and covered from the waist down by a blanket--in fact, they all were in bed, the woman in her shower cap...she kept quizzing me. The kid went through the order.
"What KIND of red pepper is this? The parm--do you make it in the store? What's this? (points to the halo divot between the crust and the edge of the tomato--I have no idea what she saw there?)"
Done and sprawled out in the living room at 11 while Carleen slept, I counted the rest of my money, eating a small pizza in the dark and watching an episode of WCW Nitro from January of 2000 on the WWE Network.
Greasy wads of cash, portable electric light. It doesn't feel sordid, it feels like water. Wet water in the air and sinks, and outside.
Keeping a diary helps me breathe in the moment.
A camera turns a the warm womb of a dark room
Into the flat depravity of angles.
It's the night before working again.
I have been drinking. Lightning opens the sky like jumbo.
Reading about Hollywood before work. Universes are closing in around us. Our entertainment experiences must be all-encompassing. Our attention must be total.
Our obeisance must be zipped tight as a body bag.
There's a reason that cults exist. IT's because as long as people have been forming communities and working for common goals, and considering one another and thinking about one another,
there's also been the complete opposite: alienation, and stagnation, and longing. And
longing to belong.
So in that way, the introductory video at the new employee orientation was sweet.
It ached with promise! So many video clips and uplifting music, and the founders who worked their way up.
I tried to answer the questions about things like doing a good job and when the first restaurant in the chain was founded.
And company ethos laid out as
T.H.E. G.I.F.T, which stands for many important things. And clips of the president's face, smiling.
And eating the pizza.
The president's face strung with pulled cheese, joy on the hands wrung with tomato juice, joy on the stains on the apron. Joy!
It can nice to feel symbols. I'll take symbols.
After a few drives, the fuzzy memory of orientation has dulled. Come on,
I'm not being profound here when I say the modern condition is that we experience the MOST among people
but that feeling, too, dulls. We are conditional in our feelings.
Ironically, and painfully, they have the smallest girl working completely by her self--one of the smallest people I've seen at any job I've worked at, couldn't be over 5 feet, and 16, this is her first job ever--boxing pizzas after pulling them from the oven and putting them on a shelf at least two and a half her own height. And these are really big, heavy pizzas, too. Many of us stepped in, but why assign her here in the first place? Who makes the system's calls--a system?
Yeah, I'm starting to think about other jobs. I'm gonna get slammed on the schedule really soon.
I've had long days off between these entries. What does slammed even really mean? This is what
I'm allowing myself.
I haven't mentioned that Celestine has been sick.
It is really, truly like working with a broken heart, your kid being sick. Even when you know they get better.
It is like working with a wrought iron cage around your heart,
and you can feel it when it beats, weighing down your emotions.
Every parent says this, and I have to embrace the reality-tv-interview-ness of this statement, but
my kid is my life. Everything I do is for my kid, and possible because of that. Being away from my kid
really hurts even though it's part of life, even she she's frustrating. I even told her,
"you're driving me nuts, kid" when she insisted on using a big kid swing, which would kill her, probably,
if she got on it.
I just saw the craziest guy on a scooter.
"The eyes, the eyes!"
I still think about that line from when I was a grad assistant at Columbia College on Court Green. When David Trinidad didn't like a line, he'd read it aloud in a slow, methodical voice. One line we got was like, a carp frozen in the ice, but it ended "the eyes, the eyes." He would read it and kill it in the worst possible way for a piece of art: He'd shut the lights ON, and you'd realize in that sobering light that the work wasn't that good. Maybe it was your gut, your mood, or that moment. The drawbacks were in full view.
The urinal cake DISINTEGRATED in its plastic sheath when I went on it!
Something apocalyptic about that
The night comes on like
a blanket you continuously kick your feet free from.
The evening began with a sun shower.
I fill my bottle with seltzer and it bursts publicly in my mouth.
I've had many apologies for dogs tonight, and on my second delivery, while I climbed the porch stairs while a woman apologized for her dog and then signed the receipt, I stood, one foot up in front of the other on a higher step, my knee bent, my chest out, the sun bursting from the clouds then and suddenly, the pizza bag slung over my shoulder, what makes grass into a lawn, a field--I was an archer! For a moment.
I am really tired. (sigh noise)
I wish there were some way to transmit backstory. I'd probably get a few more dollars
if they knew I'd come from far away, and that my kid was sick, and that there was no faster way to get to their place, and that I'm tired. Pretty dang tired.
Driving in the rain with a pizza in the car.
I'm thinking about how poetry is the natural state, and that's because
it requires the first person narrator, like the human embedded in nature but perpetually outside of it!
I just drove by our apartment.
But yeah, like we can't process the finite and immediate nature of ourselves in reality.
The rain falls.
I step out into the breathing dark. The lightning. The rain. The globlets. I don't feel the molecules. I don't feel the swell of the earth. I am just writing.
But I do feel.