“Vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas” “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.” – Ecclesiastes 1:2.

This Blog stuff, as a dear friend just pointed out is a bit of a mask. And as with any plastic surgery, masking or wardrobe embellishments, I don’t do it to look bad. Charitably you could call it the alienation of middle age. I’m trying to “validate myself” because I don’t “have trust in [my life’s] validity.” I guess that this is all working through to some sort of better understanding of my self. I was talking with a co-worker yesterday and the idea that this was, as Ecclesiastes calls it Vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas” – “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.” – Ecclesiastes 1:2. But I am not big enough to walk away from my vanity, rent my garment and live as the hermit does.

I wish that I was humble enough to go and slide away from it all… sigh. I wish that I was willing to live the simple life of someone, somewhere inconsequential (like an English teacher in Western Queens is some huge consequential role in life). But I have too many responsibilities and too much pride and ambition (of my sort) to walk away from it all.a cool cart and an angry bum

Would I walk this far away from it all? God, I hope not. But I’m sure that the woman who embellished this cart there in the picture is also suffering Ecclesiastes wrath. She has the need to be the flashiest cart pushing bottle collector in Sunnyside. Now there are many bourgeois conventions that her alcoholism and mental illness have shunted aside, but she still feels the need to embellish her world on four wheels. My favorite is her nationalism, she is loyal to Mexico and grateful to the US, if her semaphore can be believed. I could only get this one blurry photo discretely, and you cannot really make out all of her embellishments, but suffice it to say this cart is “pimped.” She is, in spite of her station in life, a proud and witty artist of sorts. Needless to say her main job, securing and imbibing cheap booze, keeps her from being a Pollack or Rauschenberg. But in her heart she is a creative and vibrant force on the streets of Sunnyside.

I wish I could cast convention to the wind and be an artist like her. I just steal bits of time on the margins to embellish this digital cypher, making no real sacrifice to produce the art that lies in my heart. I wish I didn’t have to be the kids’ good father. Behind that cart is the Frida Khalo or Georgia O’Keefe that I wish I could be if I didn’t have to sacrifice all to get it. I am hemmed in by bourgeois convention and fear. I wish that the need for approval and acceptability did not run so deep in me. Vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas”





4 responses to ““Vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas” “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.” – Ecclesiastes 1:2.

  1. Feelin’ a little Prufrock are we. When I get like that, I tell myself it could be worse. I could be writing (or worse, actually selling) pulp fantasy wish-fulfillments about literature professors-turned-unlikely heroes who must call upon their arcane and useless knowledge of dead languages to save the world from being enslaved by long-dead demons from the world of antiquity. Better to savor the occasional bout of anomie than end up like this guy

  2. Yeah Bored like my hero:

    “Full of these ideas, I prepared myself with a pair of green spectacles, and called one fine morning, quite by accident, at the Ministerial hotel. I found D– at home, yawning, lounging, and dawdling, as usual, and pretending to be in the last extremity of ennui. He is, perhaps, the most really energetic human being now alive –but that is only when nobody sees him.”

  3. She is, in spite of her station in life, a proud and witty artist of sorts.

    The tenderness and humility in your description of this cart lady is good enough to be literature.

    As is the tenderness and humility you give to your own confusion as a 21st century man doing what he has to do, with real love, but with the intrinsic question we all have but cannot face— Who Am I?

  4. I remember when I wanted to be the guy with the postal hopper and nothing left to steal. “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to loose…” I guess I’m glad I’m not free.

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