Defensive driving

I was out of town for 1 day this week to take a test for a job at the United Nations which was something of a disaster since the 25 math questions were impenetrable to me. It did not take very long for me to hit my wall. My math wall. But while I was gone someone broke into my apartment and then they stole a loaf of frozen gluten free bread. I was shocked and astounded. I thought I never could have imagined that something like this would ever happen to me. And I looked far and wide, in every cupboard, cabinet and closet. I looked in the back of my car. And then I remembered that I had forgotten to complete my defensive driving class. Here I am, at a point in life where I am trying to break down all of my defenses and expose my vulnerabilities. And then I am made to take a defensive driving class where I have to unlearn everything I have been striving toward and be constantly on the defensive.

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user

it was then that I realized what I had become.

i was no longer an artist

or a lover

or a friend

or a dog-companion

or a cyclist

or a climber

i no longer was shaken out of my slumber by urgent matters

i no longer had any connections to anything nor to anyone

i had assumed a role

the very role i was not born to portray

the role i had assumed was not necessarily even a role

it was then that i knew i had become nothing more than a profile

instead of a heart and a head

i had a profile and an account

and an inexhaustible supply of likes and unlikes

none of them having any connection to the other

 

no matter what happened to my body

my profile would live on beyond me

it was all so liberating

to be able to swipe people in and out of existence

or to be swiped by others

to be a user who is used

that was what i had become

that was what i was disappearing into

and no one could find me

without the right password

and even that was no longer mine.

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sailing

I took a nap this afternoon and I almost managed to fall asleep but I kept drifting into this half-dream (not daydream) state where I imagined waking up and finding myself alone in a place where I knew not a soul and I only had 20 or so years of life remaining and I just sort of froze up because I knew that, with time out of my control, there would not be enough time for me to make the sort of changes I needed to make in order to be in a place where I was not alone. It was terrifying.

And when I arose from my nap, I quickly became aware that the half-dream was more than a half-dream. Or less than a half dream. Because it was not a dream at all. It was literal. And it was decimating. If I were a sailboat, the wind would have been taken from me.

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The Gap

There isn’t a day on this earth when someone does not tell me, “Please pay attention to the gap between the platform and the train.”

I don’t think that’s ever been a problem for me. Paying attention to the gap. The gap is all I can think about. It’s the world across the gap that sometimes escapes my notice.

How long to find you. Find you across the gap. If only there were some sign of you, something to reach for. I would go there in less than a heartbeat. If you wanted me to.

I recall our lists. The lists we used to make. Always a new list. I vow to find our book of lists. We used to make lists of everything. Usually lists that would not exist otherwise were we not there to make them.

I wish you could exist outside of memory. Because mine is not the most reliable. And I am certain you will remember that. Unless I am thinking of someone else

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Geyser

Boston to Providence train, 8:30 pm

The train is now 15 minutes late. I can’t tell if I mind this or not. It should bother me, but I don’t think it does. But something is bothering me. It could be something I ate. Or someone who almost walked into me while she was texting. I try to be open to it all. It would have been nice to start a conversation instead of a near collision. Or better a collusion than a collision. (sorry)

But it’s funny, I think. I’ve never learned how to start a conversation. It’s a talent I am lacking. Or if I start a conversation, I don’t always have success in keeping it afloat. And for someone who loves silence as much as I do, silence within a conversation is petrifying. Even with my therapist. Especially with my therapist.

You know I don’t even know if I can claim I have a therapist. Since I’ve moved to the East Coast, I have now tried out 10 therapists in 22 months, and I just haven’t felt compelled to stay with any of them because of all these awkward silences. Maybe it’s a New England thing.

But I digress.

How does a conversation stay afloat? That’s another talent I am lacking. I begin talking to someone and I begin counting the seconds to see how long we can keep it going before there’s an awkward silence which ends things abruptly.

But… if someone asks me a question, even the simplest question… such as “do you think it’s still raining?”… if you asked me something as simple as that, words come gushing out. Like a geyser. I think it’s a geyser that gushes, isn’t it? I just talk and talk and talk and talk.

Maybe we are not so different, the geyser and I. Sometimes people can’t tell us apart. We’re both made out of water and to water we shall return. And we both gush. Though it is often I who gushes from embarrassment. While a geyser is a much more gifted conversationalist. That’s why people are always drawn to it. It commands so much attention. And there’s no way I could ever compete with that. I don’t even try. Maybe that’s why people don’t always notice I am around. And if they don’t notice, they are much less likely to ask me the kinds of question that could trigger a gushing outpour of words.

So this geyser and I really are not so different. But you could never tell at first glance. That’s why 2nd glances are the ones that count.

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Sunbeams

I’ve been writing more lately than in quite a long while now that I have an hour-long train ride 5 days per week. I have no excuse to do anything but write. So I write. I’d rather talk than write but I don’t know how to start a conversation. So I write. But I don’t type. And I don’t use paper as a physical form. I’m trying to find where the train and the iPad and iPad pencil will lead me. IMG_0240

This train I ride on is the one you’ve left behind. How many years ago was that?

The yawning chasms of memory, hollowed out.

Threadbare and barefoot. Nearly destitute.

Yawns in place of words. All I seem to do these days is yawn. I don’t have time for much else. My time management skills are the worst. And (outside of this train), I don’t seem to be getting anywhere. Something is always stopping me. I can’t get into any kind of groove. All of this dispersed energy. Like sunbeams, slightly out of reach.

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the intern

It just occurred to me, at this very moment, at work, sitting here, at my computer, that my thoughts, my gut feelings are only connected to real life occurrences by sheer coincidence. I never thought I’d agree with anything related to cognitive behavioral therapy, but… but if my thoughts are not consumed by fortune telling of uncertainties, they will conjure up new uncertainties for things that have no evidence. It is evidence that eventually humbles the fortune teller in me.

So what does one do? If that one was me, I would hire someone to fortune tell  for me.  A professional. With good references. Someone who is skilled in connecting the immaterial … the immaterial world with the material world. As it relates to me. Although I would not mind if it also connected to others. For instance, maybe someone who can predict when we all be removed from the trauma of the Trump regime. I would not mind finding someone who could do that.

But on a more self-centered level. As I wait to hear about a potential job offer and my mind spins all sorts of rising and falling fantasies and scenarios, skies and doors opening or closing, I have to tell myself that all I am really doing is wasting energy. Because every second I am consumed by these thoughts is a second I could devote to making real changes and maybe building up some sort of discipline. Take writing blog posts, for example. Or creating a website. Or practicing piano. Or exploring places I’ve not yet been, or swimming, or grazing or gazing at things outside of me and appreciating them. Or finding new ways to connect with people.

And all of this fortune telling leads only to waiting for things to happen to me instead of me making things happen that I actually do have power to make happen.

The world is happening around me and I am always lagging behind because I get off to such a late start, which is what happens when I am waiting. It’s been that way for decades. And now I’m up against a deadline. I am beginning to fortune tell about how much time I have left.

And I really don’t have time anymore for waiting. And I don’t have money to hire someone to make things happen that I not empowered to make happen. Maybe I could hire an intern. That would be really helpful.

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Auto back-up

So many dreams these past few nights and mornings. I can't contain them all. They surprise me. Not appearing are my spirit guides and archetypes who usually appear. In their place are scenes of battle and war, people and machines crashing into each other while I stand on the sidelines as a spectator. Unless these scenes are actually movies I am watching or movies I am watching being filmed or movies that are watching me. Whatever they are, I have enough distance to not be bulldozed or harmed by all of this violence that seems to have replaced or squelched desire.

You or I might say these are Trump inflicted dreams. Or perhaps I should not be watching Twin Peaks as I fall asleep. Maybe not the healthiest thing to do for vulnerable non-violent souls such as mine.

There's something comical about the dreams that I can't put my finger on. Nothing specific. But as a spectator audience person, I am strangely amused in these dreams. Which is really perverse because in my memory traces of the dreams, there is really nothing amusing at all.

Actually, there is something threatening about them. Menacing. I wish I had more detail.

There must be a way to capture dreams, independent of memory or writing or speaking or recording. Like a folder on some vast network server with auto-backup. But if I keep auto-backing up, how will I ever move forward?

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Into the mountains

While driving West, into the mountains, it dawned on me that I was the only one in my car, and I was far far removed from all of the people I have loved or almost loved or liked–this entire community I had spent my entire life creating was gone. And I was alone in my car. And suddenly I started crying, shamelessly. Although I was little weirded out by this. I had come to the mountains for warmth and protection and instead I had driven straight into a frozen barren tundra wasteland. And I was so angry at myself. Furious. This isn’t how things were supposed to be, I cried. What series of mistakes and wrong decisions could have brought me here? I’m not supposed to be here. Alone, on this road, into the mountains, without a map, without a plan.

I tried walking it off. 12,515 steps. But it only took me further into my aloneness.

But then, eventually when all was lost, when I veered off the path and was hopelessly lost on a mountain trail, I saw my car and realized I had not been lost at all. I was only walking in circles.

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The second to last person

Oh what to do!? I know not. Riding Amtrak. I was looking forward to this all day and now it’s here and it’s terrible because I can’t believe I am sitting next to someone yammering away on her phone, which should come as no surprise. In hushed tones she speaks as if this would improve the situation. And I’m not even sitting on the aisle and she has a million bags blocking the way and I don’t want to interrupt her call but I can’t focus on anything except trying to change my focus which is the entire purpose of this post. I don’t mean to vent about people. That’s the last thing I would ever want to do. But if I keep typing I might stave off my growing hostility. Keep typing. 

Finally she’s off the phone. And I tell her that it’s amazing but now I see her in an entirely new light. I see the world in an entirely new light when she’s off the phone. She should try it more often.  Why not give it a try?  How can I convince her of that? Maybe I’m not the right person to do the convincing. But who else is there? I look around the train, but everybody looks so busy. I’d feel rude interrupting someone to ask if they could help me in my mission. 

What exactly is your mission (they might ask)?

I don’t think I have an answer. Maybe I’m not the right person to find my mission. How does one ever know? 

That’s where you come in, I tell the woman during this brief lull in her cell phone conversations. She is genuinely flattered, she says. I refrain from saying “I didn’t mean that as a compliment” because that conveys a certain hostility I am trying to suppress. And she knows it. And she is not suppressing that knowledge. And I would be the last person to suppress it. Or the next to last person. It’s not what I’m here for. I just wanted to stare out the window on this night train from New York to Providence. 

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Runner’s world

I am spending a lot of time running these days. Running and running. Running in circles. Running on stairs. Running down alleys and forest paths. Running to the train. Running from the train. To and fro. To and fro. And back again is where I go. Always running away, never toward. And running out of excuses. That’s the big problem these days. I guess I have run out of excuses. That’s a lot of running.

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The night that follows the day that follows the night

Today it has come to my attention that I am not getting enough sleep. I actually have known this since I was 12, but it wasn’t until the previous sentence that I formally acknowledged it. That I formally began making connections. That I began to consider that sleep deprivation might have some connection with dull and muddled and not very sharp thinking, narrow, extremely literal yet inaccurate thinking, clumsiness of body and mind, inarticulate communication (oral, written, interpersonal and telepathic), lack of focus, lack of urgency, hyper-distractibility and sometimes hyper-irritability, lacksadaisability, debilitating melancholia. How could I have not considered it before? I guess I was too sleep deprived to notice.

I don’t know why I stay up until 2:00 a.m. when I have to be awake and functioning 5 hours later. Night after night. Dawn after dawn. Why this surge of energy arising just before midnight? Why is that the time when my mind is most free and clear? Why is it then when I am at most most productive and creative… when I have a wider view of the world? It’s a state I struggle to reach all day and finally when I am at my best, am I supposed to shortchange that? I owe it to myself to honor that, don’t I? Even though my honoring it tonight leads to the sleep deprivation that deprives me of reaching it tomorrow.

When will I learn?

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Lost umbrella

Lesson learned: If you should ever happen to go to MOMA in NYC on a day of non-stop rain, and you check in your soggy coat, and your bag and your umbrella at the coat check, and you wander around the museum for a bit before you return to coat check to pick up your belongings, and the coat check person retrieves your coat and bag, but not your umbrella (which is the very thing you need the most), and you ask him to retrieve your umbrella, he will tell you that he’s never seen your umbrella. He will look you straight in the eyes and tell you that he’s never seen it, that you probably didn’t check it in. Or that you never owned an umbrella in the first place. And you begin to believe him and doubt your memory. And then you doubt all of your memories. So you walk into the museum gift shoppe hoping they will have an umbrella section. And they do have an entire section of umbrellas. But the cheapest one is $38. And you’ve already spent $25 just to get in. So you leave the museum wearing your wet coat, carrying your wet bag, and it’s still pouring out, pouring harder than before.

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Why did I cross the tracks?

I was wandering around East Cambridge for the very first time, or at least the first time I can recall. But my wandering was cut short because I was running late in meeting up in Boston with my friend D who always takes it as a personal insult if I am late because she often feel that people are taking advantage of her. Even me.

So there was urgency in making my way back. Around the station, there were 3 or 4 intersecting tracks and I wasn’t quite sure which one would lead me to my train. And since all the of the trains were parked, I did not think twice about crossing the tracks. Actually I didn’t think about it at all. Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention. I guess I was thinking about D.

The conductor starting shouting something and I realized she was shouting at me. And I shouted back, “What?” But she just kept shouting and shouting. And I yelled again, “I can’t hear you!” And she said “Get off the tracks!” And I said “Sorry!” as I crossed. Then she said “You can’t walk on the tracks. Get off the tracks!” And I said I was even sorrier.  “I’m telling you this for your own good,” she said. And I knew she meant it.  And I said, “I really appreciate that, but it makes me really uncomfortable when you yell at me, especially in front of all of these people.” To which she replied, “You know, you shouldn’t spend so time much worrying about what other people will think of you, unless they happen to be transit workers.”

I sheepishly climbed into one of the cars. The conductor was having a conversation with this guy in an orange safety vest who I assumed was a transit worker. I couldn’t hear what they were saying but I noticed the conductor kept pointing at me. They went on talking in hushed tones for several minutes before the transit worker approached me.

Transit worker: Do you work for the transit service?

Me:  um…. No, I don’t think so.

Transit worker: Then why were you walking on the tracks?

Me: It was a mistake.  I’m sorry. I guess I wasn’t paying attention.

Transit worker: I understand people make mistakes, but you know, you can get yourself killed. I’m telling you this for your own good.

Me: Thank you. That’s what I assumed. And I really do appreciate it.

Transit worker: But…

Me: But, if I die, I die, I guess. It’s really not that big a deal. People die all of the time, but they don’t get yelled at for it.

Transit worker: Well, you can’t walk on the tracks unless you work here.

Me: I know. I wish there was a way I could convince you it wasn’t intentional.  For I am but a stranger here. I’ve never been in this neighborhood and you can see I don’t have a very good sense of direction. I will never cross the tracks ever again unless I find employment with the transit service. I hear that the benefits are really good if you join the union.

Transit worker: They’re OK. They could be better. They used to be better. But why were you walking on the tracks?

Me: Wait, didn’t I just tell you? Weren’t you paying attention?

Transit worker: You know, I don’t appreciate that. Your tone. I don’t appreciate your condescending tone. I don’t appreciate that at all.

Me: Sorry, that’s not how I meant it. It’s like the complete opposite.

Transit worker: People like you who walk on railroad tracks without paying attention… you people think you’re all so entitled. You expect everything should just come to you naturally and when it doesn’t, it’s like some sort of shock and you have no idea how to respond. It’s really kind of sad. Sometimes I feel sorry for you.

Me: You know, I think you’re being really unfair. There are a lot of things in my life that aren’t so easy. It’s just that I’m not the kind of person who calls attention to them. But I wouldn’t expect you to know that.  (pause) Actually, maybe this really isn’t about me, is it? Maybe this has nothing to do with me at all. There’s something else going on, isn’t there?

(Transit worker looks down).

Transit worker: Why would you think that?

Me: I don’t know. It’s just something I’m picking up on, but I could be wrong. Most of the time I am wrong.

Transit worker: No, you’re absolutely right. I’m just having a really horrible day in an awful week. I tried to compensate for it and I didn’t think anyone would notice.

Me: I think you did a pretty good job covering it up, but I kind of thought I was picking up on something. And I didn’t want to ask because what if you didn’t feel like talking about it?  Then what would happen?

Transit worker: No, I would really love to talk about it. But I’m not really sure what there is to say.

Me: Well, you don’t really have to say anything. We can be silent for a moment. Maybe silence would be good for both of us. There’s too much chatter in the world, don’t you think?

Transit worker: I don’t know. I try not to make generalizations like that. But you know I’ve never been very comfortable with silence.

Me: Why do you think that is?

Transit worker: That’s a good question. I’m not really sure. I think when I was growing up,  if I didn’t speak, people assumed I wasn’t paying attention.

Me:  Did you have trouble paying attention? Was that an issue for you?

Transit worker: I never really thought of it as an issue. I guess I was daydreamer. I daydreamed a lot. I probably spent more time daydreaming than dreaming about being awake. But I always paid attention to my daydreams.

Me: That’s pretty common among transit workers.

Transit worker: Really? I’ve never heard that before.

Me: Yes, it’s really really common. I see it all the time.

Transit worker: Do you think this a generational thing?

Me: No, I think it has more to do with genetics. There’s a lot of studies out there.

Transit worker: Really? I’d love to read one.

Me: Well, OK. Maybe the next time I’m walking on the tracks, I’ll be sure to bring you a copy.

Transit worker: Could you? That would be great. Thanks so much!

Me: My pleasure.

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presenteeism

I seem to have come down with a bout of presenteeism. Foggy foggy mind and foggier thoughts. And it doesn’t seem to be passing. I’m sitting at work. My screen stares vacantly into my vacant eyes.  I stare back waiting for it to send me a message, a sign, a prognostication, a provocation, a new recipe, a remedy, a refuge, a respite.

But I need to take action. I have to find a place to live in 2 weeks, maybe less. But I am not feeling the urgency needed to confront this situation. Getting more than 4 hours of sleep might be helpful, or so they tell me. The caffeine is not helping. The Tylenol after the caffeine is certainly not helping. My inner resolve isn’t really pitching in. Even working at a job where my skills/abilities/talents have no function is not liberating my  consciousness for higher concerns.

The murmur of people around me. Catching fragments of sentences not spoken to me. Architects talking about partitions, garages, levels, structural grid systems, deadlines, grace periods. The scent of fried foods from the neighboring desk almost disgusts me. But I try to be a good neighbor to my neighbor. After all, he only sits 3 feet behind me. I think his name is Elliot. Sometimes he speaks in a language similar to Spanish.  Or my idea of Spanish.

Each passing minute means I have one less minute to figure out my housing situation.

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