Matt Brandstein

A Work in Progress

Matt Brandstein

Matt Brandstein
Chicago, Illinois, USA
January 29
Under construction.


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SEPTEMBER 2, 2008 10:42PM

Precious Thoughts

Rate: 13 Flag

The Waiting Game


Although sitting around with other mental patients before our respective appointments is technically not group therapy, I could not stand the silence and thought I'd test the water. Posing the question, "so why are you here" to a stranger, whose evident anxiety was further fueled by my conversational largesse and an inefficient air conditioner during this oppressively hot day, did not go over well.  I received a galling smirk instead of a vocal response. She then picked up the office's copy of Journal of Trauma Medicine to escape my gaze because the only other choice was Modern Maturity, which had sweat stains all over it from the previous reader. I stared at my shoes for the remainder of our time together until my name was called. 

Catchy Jingle 


I was in line waiting to purchase Twizzlers at RiteAid. An interruption in radio service prevented the store's muzak from pumping out impossibly softer versions of infamously soft light rock ballads. The man in the line adjacent to my right was clutching a hand cart loaded with typical sundries that were draped under the back ad of a health magazine that featured a photo of a rugged mountain climbing adventure. Up until I unplugged my television three weeks ago, I spent too much time committing to memory everything to ever come out of that box. Seeing the image of those brave men and women straddling the side of a mountain instantly conjured up the herpes medication TV commercial jingle. The one with that memorable line Taaake Chaarrge. I found myself excitedly whisper singing it aloud to fill the void left by the lack of muzak. Judging by the knowing grins of my fellow line waiters, they too were also quite familiar with this song's socially communicable charm.

The Last Pair


When I opened my underwear drawer, I winced at the heartrending sight of the last clean pair. This was once an elegantly innocent garment, purchased for its snow white crispness. Upon its third washing, the underwear was irrevocably marred by a brand new bright yellow dish towel that created a stain the unfortunate color of diabetic urine. Months ago when cleaning out my closet, I had set this pair aside for donation to the Salvation Army, but after vigilant contemplation I put it back in the drawer.  I could not add to a poor man's misery in the humiliating task of used underwear shopping. So it has sat there for months until today to faithfully serve me its final call as my emergency pair.

Utility Emergency 


The cooking gas has been shut off again in my tenement apartment due to persistent leaks in the building's ancient pipes. Up until this utility emergency, Plathian carbon monoxide poisoning had never been a part of my suicidal ideation roster. Finding a comfortable position to rest one's head in a grease smeared oven seems a terribly unsanitary way to spend a final moment. Normally, my exit plans involve traditional methods like sleeping pills and plastic dry cleaning garment bags. But I can't stop fixating on my oven, or rather, the lack of its destructive powers under the present circumstances.

For cooking, I've relied upon a cheap hot plate and an even cheaper toaster oven. Any suicidal thoughts involving the dinky cords of either gadget only fuels my impatience with ConEd’s inability to expedite the necessary repairs required to broaden my escape options if it should ever get too hot in my metaphoric kitchen.

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All the space in my mind that was formerly occupied by herpes medication commercial jingles has been overrun by yogurt commercial jingles. Until today, of course. Kudos once again for your engaging vignettes.
You are just too good!
I so enjoy your writing.
The ideation, like a paddle ball, keeps whizzing back and forth causing your readers a dizzying sort of concern..........but we know by now the fascination with suicide is merely academic, and we breathe much easier. Ever waiting for more. ........Awww ..........for our writing to be like a drug......
Matt, do you read Colson Whitehead? Great writer and you guys share same sensibilities.
Since I have misspent so much of my rapidly diminishing youth studying Sylvia Plath, I must inform you that Ms. Plath's oven was undoubtedly spotless on the day she last used it. (Clean and efficient to the end, one might say.)

Excellent post. Thanks for the mind music.
ConEd you say?

Could be months - hope you are patient.