to that guy who sneezed 3 times during Charles Mansfield’s open mic set

Dear fellow
allergy sufferer, or
perhaps just rapidly
sickening sir,
your triple sneeze bonanza
has now been emblazoned
into my memory for all time,
because I recorded that song.

it was a new one by Chuck –
the one I wanted him to call “Liberating,
But” but he insisted on titling “New Joy”
when he released the studio version
a few weeks or months later –
so now in my mind every time
I hear it, I will pause for the sneezes,
curse you, anonymous man, and want
to angrily say, “Bless you!” in a passive
aggressive tone.

but then again, I’ve been known
to rudely shush my best friends
when they start talking to me
when I’m recording. on the one hand,
the audio is already marred, so
why not just let them talk,
and on the other, I’m starting to think
I must come off as a total dick. on
yet a third hand, they don’t know
how these things stick around
to haunt me. I will be hearing
myself shushing them
for the next 2 weeks, at least,
thanks to my “new additions”
iPod playlist.

which is worth more, in the long run,
the experience of the moment,
the documentary evidence of the moment,
or my relationships? when you
put it that way, there’s no contest.
I should either stop taping, or stop
having friends.

in which the past repeats itself

so I
saw people posting
their favorite books
they had read last year
and I thought, “I should
do that” and “I think
I CAN do that
fairly easily”
and then I went on
the site that I use
to track my reading
and got the list and started
manipulating it in
spreadsheet form.

at first the list was
a bit overwhelming
as it was 600-odd titles
so I quickly filtered out
only those read in 2018
and arrived at a count of
418. more than one a day.
which seemed excessive
even for me.

chortling and chuffed,
feeling highly superior,
I quickly fired off a tweet
with this number, rather than
double check my work.
big mistake.

further investigation revealed
the true number was ONLY
177. this now seemed paltry
compared to my huge boast
and furthermore I felt a fraud.
since someone had already
responded (shocker!), I did not
delete my original, lying tweet
but merely buried a clarification
amid the replies. further filtering
gave me the 25 books that
were published in 2018, and of
those, the 10 I liked best.

anyway the second, secret
point of this exercise
in self-aggrandizement
was to set my reading goal
for this year. 200, I said to myself
and filled in the box.
then I thought to look
what my goal had been last year.
200, it said. I achieved a mere
88% of this goal.

I tried to feel good
about myself nonetheless.
other people (presumably
gainfully employed, parents, normal
to slow readers, or all three)
were listing goals of 10.
25. one ambitious soul
said 52. ok. I can beat
that. the site is stupidly
counting re-reads which
in my opinion is silly,
but it works in my favor,
so I’m not complaining.

surely I can read even faster.
surely I can prove
that I’m the best
at reading
if not so much
at math.