lifeless life

I don’t know how it happened this way. Why it happened this way. But I managed to live a life without really living it. And now it’s almost over.

Maybe it’s just my pandemic mindset. But I have lived so uncourageously. So many uncourageous homogenized days. One after the year. And the years have piled up. And I have barely scratched the surface of doing anything meaningful.

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Social distance dream

Last night, I dreamt I was locked up in a minimum security prison for a petty crime of which I cannot recall. It may have been accidental theft (perhaps walking out of Whole Foods forgetting to pay for something). The prison was really was not that bad. The guys (yes, all male) were pretty easygoing. Everything including our clothes was gray. There wasn’t a lot of tension. Except with the warden. I was hoping to get early release for good behavior. And I really was behaving quite good. But the warden would not have it.

My biggest worry while serving my sentence was how little time I would have once I was released. And that I had missed my window of opportunity. In life.

One of those very literal dreams.

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Nobody told me that Spring had arrived. That Winter was no more, as if there was a Winter at all. Maybe I was not supposed to know. Maybe it was better for me not to know.  But now I know.

Alone out here, not knowing when I will see all of the people I love again. Hoping that I will be able to see them again. Filled with sadness and longing and not knowing how to adequately express it. I am bursting with something I can not find words to describe. Whatever it is, I am bursting with it.

There is no sigh deep enough to express it. Tears will not do it justice. Tears and sighing in combo might come close to describing it.

But if only I knew I could see you again.

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Social distancing

I work in an open office environment. I find the whole open office concept to be a bit disconcerting. It’s like sharing a tiny studio apartment with the same 78 people every day. Or like hosting guests in my studio apartment who stay on and on and wear out their welcome and refuse to leave. There is no hint that is strong enough to give them the message.

This woman who works directly opposite my workstation, facing me has never spoken to me, except to ask me if I can stop tapping my feet, which I guess I do when I’m listening to music or feeling anxious or both, but I am far from cognizant of it.

Maybe the one and only upside to COVID-19 is that I incessantly step away from my desk to wash or sanitize my hands. At least twice an hour these days. So that is a good distraction from foot tapping.

But then when I return to my desk, I notice I am touching my face, scratching my chin, rubbing my eyes, resting my cheek in the palm of my hand. And then I start tapping my feet again to distract me from face touching.

… which I am certain must be annoying to my neighbor. I guess I am doing quite well with the recommendation for social distancing since I am certain that my neighbor would prefer I keep myself at as much of a distance as possible.

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Between job insecurity hip replacement surgery and coronavirus, not much new to report. It’s all been reported. If it were not for C’s text messages throughout, I would barely know I even exist. And I still do not see any compelling evidence of that.

I feel like we are all being trained to develop OCD. This washing of hands and sanitizing each time I touch anything with a surface. I have to teach myself a whole new way to ride the escalator. It isn’t so easy.

How long can we continue like this? This might be the new reality. If there is such a thing. If there was even an old reality.

Most of the time, I feel nothing. Or maybe I do feel something, but that something turns out to be nothingness. I don’t know how many days and nights have passed since I felt something that was not nothing.

I wish I knew how to change this. How to turn this around. I’ve been wishing that for a long long time. It’s all I think about. It’s all I write about. Why would anyone want to even read this?

To spare myself confronting that question, the best thing I can do is to not tell anyone this writing, this blog exists. Which makes things a lot less awkward. And I can’t feel resentful about this, unlike when people do not show up at one of my performances when I pretty much take anyone who does not show up off my list. That gives you a sense of my level of maturity.

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The day shift has ended and with it comes the night of wrestling with uncertainty that I am not at all comfortable with. It makes me queasy.

So many things. So many many things to ponder. Mostly related to my hip and where I work and where I live and how long I will work and live.

If I have the surgery in 2 weeks that could be advantageous because then I would have the certainty of getting it over with. But I would be going through it entirely alone which makes me feel more anxious and vulnerable.

And then there’s the option of surgery on the next available day which is almost 2 months later. Which could be good because J has offered to come to town to escort and assist me, which is far nicer than going through this alone.

It has the disadvantage of 2 more months on a useless hip. Plus who knows if I will have a job in 2 months because I have very well near run out of things to do and I’ve stretched things out just about as far as i could stretch it to give my employer the delusion that I my work is useful and productive. Otherwise, I know something leading to my exit is imminent.

It would be nice if I could control my own exit.

And then there are all of those other jobs I’ve interviewed for that might have possibility. And how could I accept a job and then tell them that I could not work or could not start work for at least 6 weeks?

And if I lose my job before it is my decision to lose it, I do not think I would qualify for short-term disability benefits. And then what? I would be screwed.

And I would miss C’s graduation from law school party. Which might not be a bad thing, he ponders selfishly, having an excuse to miss another family event.

All of this is uninteresting and unnerving to contemplate. I thought it might be clarifying and maybe even therapeutic to write. But this is not so.

This partially explains why writing is so dangerous. You just don’t know where it will lead you. There is danger everywhere.

The one thing I do know is that it is not leading me to a state of transcendence I so pine for. I do not know what it is leading me to, what they are for, these words.

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A vast field of numbness today. Coupled with bitterness that I feel such numbness. I don’t know who to be angrier at that I find myself in this predicament, going on 5 years now.

Why is this happening? Might there be divine/cosmic forces working against me for some unforgivable transgression I committed who knows when. At birth perhaps? Might it have something to do with my selfishness? My cowardice? My selfish cowardice? And when did these forces first take offense? I wish I could pinpoint the day. But even if I could, I don’t think that would help me in my quest for redemption.

If I could ask for one thing for my next birthday, I would for redemption. But is the asking for that another indicator of selfishness for which there may be no redemption?

It’s just so frustrating, trying to figure out where I stumbled and not figure out how to pick myself back up again. But when I call out to the cosmos to ask help (because I can’t do it alone), I get the sense that I am not on the top of their priority list.

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Germ masks

What are you so afraid of?

This fear you have …

That people will either discover who you really are


Never discover who you really are

To be truly authentic and present in this world requires accepting and moving above and beyond fear


Maybe to be truly authentic means just being present and not recoiling from non-harmonious situations that lead one to be much less than present.

Or present but a diminished kind of presence

Which is really no presence at all.

To be counting the diminishing years is a state of complete non-presence. About as non-present as a human can get.

I wonder if there are any animals out there who fall into this sort of trapped mindset. Even the animals who know they are doomed. I don’t think they dwell in it. They would probably laugh at me for dwelling in it.

But would it stop me from dwelling in it?

Somehow I think not.

Instead of dwelling in it, the animals might suggest that I look around and notice what is around me.

Clearly the animals have never taken a ride on the commuter rail. They might recoil at the sight of whoever sits down next to them.

It might be some male marking his territory. Why does it always have to be a male? Why can’t these males finally get the message that they are not welcome, claiming the seat next to you on the commuter rail.

This is such a huge universe and there are so many many other places to sit.

But no matter where you sit to avoid them. These males. They always follow.

Quite often they are wearing a noxious cologne.

And quite often they are sneezing and coughing and not covering their mouths and you get so mad at yourself for allowing today to be the day when you forgot to wear your germ mask.

Although a nurse just told me that the germ masks don’t really protect again germs. So I asked, do they at least provide psychological protection?

Protection from what? Asked the nurse

Protection from everything I’m afraid of.

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Tapping away

This afternoon at work, this woman who sits directly opposite me sort of sheepishly walked up to my desk and asked in a hushed tone if I could stop tapping my feet. I acted incredulous (that is, at least I thought so) because I felt incredulous. I knew I was not tapping my feet even though it was entirely possible that I was tapping my feet. It was also possible that she was bothered by the movement of my chair rolling upon the very old and very bumpy wooden floor Still, I was incredulous, embarrassed and pissed off.

How could I not be?

After I regained my composure several hours later, I asked her if she could be more specific about what was irritating her. I rolled my chair a couple of times and asked, “Does this bother you?” She said she wasn’t bothered any more because I had stopped tapping my feet.

I then said that sometimes I get restless… thus pretty much admitting that I was tapping my feet.

And she had stopped being bothered because from the moment after she asked me to stop tapping, I had been sitting frozen at my desk, hyper-vigilant to not make even the slightest movement.

I could have easily said that I work quietly and speak to no one all day long while you chatter away incessantly. But have you ever once heard me complain?

But I did not.

I could have promised her that I would try to do a better job of being invisible.

I could have said that I notice that lots of people near our desks tap their feet and she never complains about that. So she just happens to complain about the one person who happens to be of Jewish descent on our floor.

I texted my friend C about this and she had an interesting suggestion. “Yes, next time accuse her of religious discrimination. Then give her a compliment about her breasts. I guarantee this is a good way to make friends with your coworkers!”

I texted a response to C that I don’t think that would make a difference because I compliment her about her breasts every day (I actually never would, in case you are wondering). But she never returns the compliment about my breasts.

I could have said that soon she would not have to deal with my feet because I will soon be undergoing surgery and there is no guarantee that I will survive it.

Maybe if I had said that working across from her tomorrow would be a lot easier.

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I can’t tell you where I’ve been lately because I haven’t the faintest clue.

I think I may have been in L.A. But my image of being there is approaching dim.

I may have been tango dancing with my new girlfriend, except that I do not know how to dance. I could not possibly know how to dance. And my girlfriend turns out to be another ghost.

I’ve been dwelling either way too much or not nearly enough upon my upcoming hip replacement surgery. Which is both liberating and frightening.

I also think about my job which I am both afraid of losing and afraid of eternal entrapment.

And then there’s Trump and dismal election which never fails to bring me down.

And I may take breaks here and there to climb into the television. Little breaks here and there.

And I may sleep for 4-5 hours night.

And I may stare at any number of devices waiting for texts from real and imaginary friends.

But it does’t really feel like I am anywhere.

Everything feels in between.

Waiting to leave a place where I’ve never arrived.

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Empty promise

I am so sad to see you go.

I am not sure what happened

You called me to tell you did not want to talk and that I should do all of the talking.

I asked if you wanted me just to talk or to if I should read a story.

You said, “I don’t care.”

But I wasn’t sure what to say because I didn’t have a context for where you were, if you were in your car or in your home. I didn’t even know which city you lived in. Except that you lived in California. I could not tell if you were exhausted, or sick or perfectly fine (as long as you were not required to speak).

So I asked where you lived and you said “California” which you already knew that I knew, with a hint of irritation.

And then you said, “You know, I’m going to get off the phone now.” And you hung up.

And you were gone.

I tried to find you.

I called out to you.

I sent emails.

I sent texts.

I waited and waited for your response.

I tried to figure what went wrong.

Could my asking you where you lived brought about the doom of our relationship?

I guess I was just supposed to talk. Any question was out of bounds.

But how could you not know that talking to a person across the country whom I had never met in person, talking more or less into empty space… how could you not know that I was not known for this sort of thing.

I’m a call and response person.

But now I regret it.

I regret that I did not take you literally.

And when you meant that you did not want to talk, I should have known that this meant you did not want to utter even a single word.

And I violated your needs of the moment.

And now you are gone.

And makes me so sad.

This helpless sadness for a situation for which I have no remedy.

My 3 apology messages were no remedy.

Maybe I was not supposed to apologize either.

Please come back.

I promise I will follow all of your parameters as precisely as possible.

This I can promise you.

Even though you have left and will never receive my promise.

It’s an empty promise. Which is not the same as a broken promise.

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It’s amazing how a 1 day road trip can shake up one’s consciousness out of the doldrums. That’s kind of what happened when I went to Dia:Beacon and continues 2 days later. Which I didn’t expect.

I just met this woman in NYC on Bumble. I asked her if she wanted to ‘chat’ but I meant text chat, not the dreaded phone chat, which is what she thought I meant. And against all of my resistances, against every fiber of my being, I called her. And I immediately liked her. Just her voice alone was worth it. I was clumsy and awkward and there were awkward silences. But we seemed to agree that we should talk again and maybe try to meet.

But then today she sent me a message that she thought the distance was too big a barrier. I replied that I didn’t think that the distance was insurmountable. It’s pretty easy for me to get on a train, especially a train to New York. And she replied that she was taking inventory of her life and realized that she had no need for dating, but she would welcome a friendship. Which comes as no surprise.

I mean it’s become the norm. Not usually over the phone… but usually in person. After a first date, the person I dated has a realization that they need to reassess their lives, or that they realize they have not recovered from the person they had just broken up with. Things to that effect. Or affect.

It’s kind of bewildering and disturbing to think that I have that effect or affect on people. Sometimes they actually do want to pursue a friendship, but sometimes they say they do but it ends up as a ghosted non relationship. I’m not sure what to make of this most recent person.

She watched one of my videos and told me it reminded her of Tarkovsky. Is that a good thing? I don’t think I’ve actually sat through an entire Tarkovsky film. And now that I think of it, I’m not sure if I would want to go out with someone who reminds me of Tarkovsky either. Maybe that’s my problem. I think I am going to have to make myself watch an entire Tarkovsky film just so I can learn what kind of impression not to make with a potential date.

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somebody told me i should be writing. so i asked, have you seen my writing lately? this person look bewildered. I said “I am guessing you have not seen it because if you had, you might think i should be knitting instead,” which I instantly regretted because it may have sounded like i was essentially saying ‘those who cannot write, knit.’ Were I a knitter I would be quite insulted.

But you know that’s not what I meant.

I just meant to say that if this person had read what I have been writing lately, they might think that my energies could be put to much better use doing something else.

It’s kind of scary and disconcerting. To recognize that what might be your greatest strength might not be anything to write home about. I used to think that my non-writing was untapped potential and that I could be doing so much more, taking things so much further. But I don’t enjoy writing and reading what I write is the opposite of enjoyment.

But I don’t have very many options in my isolation exile in New England. There’s an urgency to communicate something to somebody. A pressing urgency. And communication requires words. Written or spoken. But what if you have run out of words? Or just never learned the right ones to use, the very best ones?

What are your options?

One option was to go Dia: Beacon today, which was amazing. I loved every moment of it. Except for the moments when I was dodging the cameras because people are taking photos constantly. You really have to be on your toes to avoid accidentally stepping into someone’s photo. I felt old and crotchety because I remember going to museums before there were smart phones with cameras. When people came to look at the art rather than using art as a backdrop for a selfie or a family photo. Now an art museum feels more like Disneyland.

Every words that I have just written has been completely against the grain. My body and soul are crying out, “stop it already. we hate writing!” There has to be a way for me to work through this. I’m not sure what the answer is.

The Artist’s Way? Maybe I should give another try. Morning pages sound pretty awful for someone who barely functions in the morning  during the work week. But perhaps I need to break out of unhealthy patterns. There’s a lot to break out of. I would not even know where to start.

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made it

Danbury Connecticut

After 3 days of non-decision, I finally decided to take a little road trip to Beacon, NY specifically to visit Dia Beacon which I have not yet seen and who knows how much longer I’ll be out on the east coast? and if I don’t go anywhere during this holiday break, that will be a major major failure. Even I could not allow that to happen.

And I thought this could be a bucolic little ride while listening to Bach Fest on the Columbia University radio station through New England hills and dales. What could be more relaxing than that?

But I didn’t hit the road until mid-afternoon, meaning I would only have about 2-1/2 hours of daylight and I hate driving at night on New England roads because they are not like expressways in the midwest which are always straight and always brightly illuminated. New England roads are the opposite.

And then, quite naively, I didn’t think there would be Friday rush hour traffic in Connecticut. It’s not exactly Amish country. And then it started to rain and my wiper blades are in bad shape and the windows kept fogging up. And the route I followed on Waze was as complicated as any route I’ve taken.

Had I bothered to look at a map, I would have at least been psychologically prepared.  

So when the sun set and the rain began…. well it was too late to head back to the home that isn’t really my home because I have no home. But I was non-home homesick. And I really had to pee and it was bumper to bumper, no exits anywhere. And then the warning light went on that the pressure was low on one of my tires. 

Finally, I arrived, about an hour later than anticipated, but I did find a bathroom in time.

I normally would not write about this, but I am typing as a new strategy for stress relief (since I left my vape pen at home).


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The challenge

The challenge is quite challenging. Quite. How to fend off abject loneliness and a sense of failure as a human over the holidays. Am I up for the challenge?


I’m really not sure.

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