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Do you care if I have a cigarette  

1)  Do you care if I have a cigarette?
     Early, at about five - twenty I step up the bus-stairs to work. I do morning hours because it is easy for me and the money is better. Sometimes, when I wait for a different line, a bus-driver asks me if I want to get on and then I shake my head just as if I say no to a refill. Sometimes bus-drivers wear ties, too. During winter waiting is painful, on the street. Every little movement brings cold onto my legs. So I stand, holding my coffee, not moving, wondering why the hell I have not yet developed a smarter survival strategy than this one here, why I have not found a better way out of it all.
      I like other people’s front step conversations when I sleep. With no street lights on, I peek out of the attic; I watch shadows of our roofs fall over driveways and sidewalks. ..Half asleep and still talking into the starry night: Then - suddenly - everything turns silent and I actually wait for the next person to crack another joke.
     So completely confused, when nobody wants me to work, when all indoor-swimming or every outpatient lounge is closed or moved.
     “Even astronauts have heroes, mistakes are not an option.”
     This afternoon I take the bus and look outside, well…, what else is there to do? A blackout. ” No class, today!” One guy comes up to me, behind him a neighbor neither of us knows: no shit – he wears no shoes – simply denim shorts and some tattoos. Stop. I am experiencing a major flashback here: “Do you know if this blackout is happening all over the world or just here?”
     The deli is closed and I am disappointed, because delis are something – how should I describe it - - well…. private, almost private. And I usually feel that people work in a deli because they are actually more concerned about their customers than others. I want a pack of chewing gum with some of the change I have left. Most of the stores have their gates down since hours... Hmm, they do deserve some time off … I guess … No looting today, but who cares? “No ice! “ “Chewing gum!” I put up a sign at a dry cleaners.

2)  I am biking through an area between home and work. Some traffic lights are on and some are off.
     Quite laid back, my boss takes care of a phone call: he looks out of the window. I know his view sucks; it bounces off a lot of bars with rusty mosquito nets. I fall into unreasonable laughter when I stare through a door which is usually locked and a figure approaches me past a dim scale of exit lights: The hospital’s power supply is not perfectly steady. I have been brave enough to take the elevator: I did not know... I walk down the stairs thinking about why I had to touch base here:” No swimming today?” My boss shakes his head, “Is the Y open?”

3)  Down to Renaissance House with all those coke-cans and cigarettes on the floor: “Closed.”
Inside the white dome for the outpatients we have a basketball floor, eight tables and some chairs. Plus a shiny silver boom box with subwoofers! ‘What is this set up for?’ I share my sandwich with a client then I get us a coke from the coke machine inside the building.
     Alarms. The food on the wheels has arrived. Some of it tastes all right, some tastes like garbage. “I have a husband and a dog. I work here and I am a patient. Which accent do I recognize here?” “Austrian, I am German...- Hmm... German, I am Austrian.” “Wien, Wien, nur Du all—““No:” “ Wien, Wien nur Du allein, sollst stets die Stadt meiner Traeume sein!” She smiles at me,” Good luck!”

4)  I think, I really need it. I sleep in front of Federal Plaza again; this is a warmer night, though. Nothing new. “You are eligible for a travel document.” “I want to expertise my green card process.” “Today we are working on 2001.” Another year. Another year. Another year. Tough enough.
     I fill out a form for an artist who cannot write.

5)  Our table cloth is opened up on the lawn. To write this, to sleep and dream. Chernobyl Hard Rock Café. This could have been a killer.


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