Deadline

My brain like a fog

A dense and thickening fog

It’s been thickening for years now.

Decades actually.

It’s difficult to maneuver around in it.

I wish I could be more pliant. More permeable

I would if I could.

It’s most noticeable these days when I’ve been trying to meet a deadline and just not getting anywhere. That deadline being …. well, there’s no dancing around it. I’m about to to turn 60 in about 18 hours.

When I think of this, I am shocked and dismayed. Clearly this was not supposed to happen until I was ready. I did not have nearly enough time to prepare. And not the clock is about to run out.

The life I had envisioned is nothing like the life I am living. Although if you spend a considerable amount of time spent envisioning… then envisioning is part of the life you are living.

But, truth be told, if someone had told me at some point earlier in my life that at 60, I would be alone, living in a place where I know not a soul, complete estranged from love and family and community and creativity and happiness, I might have said, “no thanks. I think I’ll take a pass on a life such as that.” And waited to inhabit a better life that would hopefully come along eventually.

I hope that does not come across as ungrateful. I am grateful for sparks and fireflies and lightning and stars and trees and water and shelter and sushi and Carla Bley and Leonard Cohen and John Cassavettes and Antonioni and Laurie Anderson and Dylan and Beckett and Kakfa and all of my loved ones who are so far from me now. I thank you. I thank you all. But if you wouldn’t mind giving me a little shove, a little kick I might need make my deadline before it’s too late.

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Origins

It’s so easy being back here in the place that formed me. my place of origination. the source of the majority of things from which I have sprung. nearly lost but re-found friends will ask me what I am doing here. And I think, that’s such a strange strange question. Why are they not asking what I am doing there? that’s the real mystery. At least to me.

Elsewhere, people smile at me on the streets. They all look familiar, but I’m not sure how or why. I guess I am the one who must look familiar. I am surprised I am even recognizable to anyone anymore. Who are these people? I think they like my glasses. I am just the mannequin for my glasses. There are worst things to be.

Even this guy whizzing by on his bicycle along the lakefront looks at me quizzically. I wonder if that was the guy who smashed into me one July morn’ 10 years ago. It can’t be him, can it? Why would it be? I can’t think of a single reason. Other than to induce a palpitation or 2.

But one thing I can say for sure, it will be hard to leave again. Hard to go back there. I can barely stomach it.

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operational inefficiency

today was one of those days where my infrastructure was experiencing an operational inefficiency. my performance across cross-functional teams could have been more optimal. partly because I am still learning the workflows and partly because I forgot so shake the bottle of CBD oil throughly prior to ingestion.

What steps can I take to improve both my efficiency and my character? Is there a way I can do them at the same time? If a person’s character is based upon their performance, I am in serious serious trouble.

I just looked out the window and trees are still there but I had forgotten it is Spring. Now they are glowing at me. I hope I can return the favor.

 

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the end of the day

This might sound curmudgeonly, but it really bothers me when people begin a sentence with “because at the end of the day … ” As in, “because at the end of the day, it’s family that matters most” or “because at the end of the day, your health is what really counts.” Things like that.

Because at the end of the day, starting a sentence without “because at the end of the day” feels very refreshing.

Because at the end of the day, what you do is more important than what you say.

Because at the end of the day, it not what you make, but who you make it with.

Because at the end of the day, you wish there was more to the day because that is when you are truly waking up.

Because at the end of the day, you wish you could start the day over and do it correctly this time.

Because at the end of the day, the trees are as barren as they were in the morning.

Because at the end of the day, you still have not spoken.

Because at the end of the day, you would rather not be overheard.

Because at the end of the day, you have run out of excuses.

Because at the end of the day, nobody has time to hear your excuses.

Because at the end of the day, you look out the window and notice that time has not stood still.

Because at the end of the day, you feel both liberated and defeated.

Because at the end of the day, you are still waiting for a moment of revelation.

Because at the end of the day, your feet feel swollen.

Because at the end of the day, your primal neediness seizes control over your heart, mind and body.

Because at the end of the day, nothing really matters much (it’s doom alone that counts).

Because at the end of the day, you have forgotten everything.

Because at the end of the day, you fear you are forgotten by everyone.

Because at the end of the day, you are fortunate there will be another one.

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Extended stay american

There was a time when words mattered. But then it stopped. And nothing was left but vague gestures. But then at that very moment, you entered the room. Suddenly all of our hairs stood on end. The dogs. The cats. The rabbits. The deer. The ponies. The angels. And us.

We were afraid to ask where you had been, after so many days and interminable nights. Who knows how many? We guess we never really thought of counting. But still, we all wondered, where were you?

We could tell by the scent of your hair that you had come from somewhere far far away.  We could speculate that you came from a distance. Perhaps from some nether region. Perhaps from across the courtyard. Or perhaps from the laundromat. Or that shoe repair place you always spoke so glowingly. Or perhaps from the airport, from a plane that had never left the terminal. The only thing we could agree upon was that wherever you had come from would be impossible for us to locate. And even harder to find.

But the scent of your hair was familiar, eerily familiar. Like burning raisin toast. Or an empty humidifier. Or perhaps a car wash. You had that washed away look in your eyes. It was pretty unmistakeable. We wish you could have seen it. We are pretty sure you would agree. That might help us better understand your hair.

We thought of you a lot while riding the train. Glancing out the window passing towns and forests bubbling with life, even in the winter, even in the dark, especially in the dark. We gazed in wonder at this marsh we must have seen 1000 times by now. But we never realized it was even there until just before we returned home, mere moments before you walked into the room.

Some of your features had changed. Your hair was thinner but just as unkempt (which is not a criticism). Your skin was greener than we remembered. Which was worrisome to some of us. To others it was wondrous. It didn’t dawn on us that you were standing in the light filtered through our terrarium. But it was a nice mystery while it lasted.

But you did look more stern. Maybe you had forgotten how to smile. It’s so easy to forget. We imagined that if you could smile, it might take all of your effort. And we didn’t want to exhaust you, especially since you had just gotten home. What kind of welcome would that have been? Not a very welcome welcome. The thought that we might be asking you to smile against your will was not something we would ever choose to endure, at least not voluntarily. Although some people are really into it … the unendurable.

We could not tell if you had noticed that our home had been transformed into an Extended Stay America. Finally, we had a place to stay for as long as we wanted. We would have asked if you would like to stay with us, but we thought that maybe we should wait until you had actually entered the room. We might build up to that later. Or maybe that would be too manipulative. Maybe we should ask you to stay right now. But we thought if we had asked, you’d be out the door in a flash. In less than a flash. You’d be gone. And that would be that.

But if we didn’t ask and you had left without our asking… that would really truly be something we could never ever endure. We would be at wit’s end. What would it be like to live at wit’s beginning? Or in the era before wit even existed. Just try to imagine. We are imagining what the Earth would look like before the dawn of wit. We can see that it looks like a dense roll of faded green shag carpeting, 6 feet wide and who knows how many miles long. We thought, now that is a strange thing to imagine. Very strange. We eventually realize that the Earth at that time was simply a macrocosm of our home in the Extended Stay America. It was so obvious, how could we have missed that?

This is what happened to our imagination while you were gone.

And in case you were wondering, your your arrival was a welcome disruption, especially when we found ourselves staring at your shoes. You always had such cool shoes. And we loved the colors of your shoelaces. You always wore these dark brown boots, leather grained like footballs. With fluorescent orange shoelaces. It was so perfect. (We recall you once told us that you can tell a lot about a person from the color of their shoelaces.) We wish we had your sense of style. We never really knew what to wear anywhere anymore. We never really considered that anyone else might feel the same. It just never occurred to us. We’re not sure why.

And that scarf you were wearing. It looked exactly like the scarf we saw in the photo of that guy in the newspaper, the one who claimed he was a data architect from New Zealand but who turned out to be a registered foreign agent lobbying for some fascist regime that had recently seized control over the government of our municipality. It seemed like everyday another of us was getting deported to who knows where for reasons beyond our comprehension. We were diminishing in number. And some of us were worried. That’s when we came up with the brilliant idea of finding a room, a suite actually, at the Extended Stay America. That is what brought us to this place. We knew no one would ever find us here, except for you. And here you are, at least for the moment.

But we have to tell you know how much we love your scarf. It’s such a great great scarf. We could not blame you for wearing it. You just didn’t fit the type.

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A new ride

They tell me it’s true. There is nothing to be afraid of any more. Every fear has already been felt, some in a feedback loop that feels eternal. Or maybe more eternal than the lifespan of whoever carries the fear.

But beyond that, what more can there be?

The fear that you are frozen in fear. That’s a pretty major one. That would be a nice one to cross off of our list.

Then there’s the fear of change. As in, not being able to adapt to it. As in, me in Boston for over 2 years now. Or maybe not the fear of the change as much as the fear of losing everything. Friends, family, community, restaurants, gyms, doctors, therapists, parking spaces, chiropractors, neighborhoods, identity.

Now that’s fear and it seems like it’s real and it has mass and weight that outweigh you. It feels like concrete, but it’s only dust and smoke. But if you’re sensitive to allergens, it feels real.

That you leaves you with a couple of options.

One might be a binge… TV, food alcohol, more TV, more food, online shopping for shoes and hats and sex and kindness and a good psychic.

Another is sleep, or a very long, very deep, very productive (dream-wise) nap.

A third might be constant motion. It doesn’t matter if it’s a voyage to another hemisphere or a walk to the kitchen for a bowl of cereal. As long as you keep things moving, as long as you are a moving target, there’s a chance you might actually elude fear.

All of those options seem at least worth exploring. And if they don’t work, you have nothing to lose except for maybe seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, decades, an entire lifetime, however long it take before you realize all of this was just one mega-allergic reaction to the phenomena that derails you from happiness.

That’s when it’s time to find a new mode of transportation.

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Word count

I can’t seem to get in the flow of a daily writing practice. 36 decades and one would think I would have figured it out by now. One would think. But these past couple of years have been particularly challenging. Not to make excuses but I think it might have something to do with never adapting to this new city even after 2 years and not even made a pretend friend. Even a work friend I could have lunch with once in a while. This confounds me because I’ve never been in this situation before. I’ve always adapted eventually, but there are no signs pointed in that direction.

Anyway, the point is that I speak so little to anyone and somehow I think this manifests as the belief that I have nothing to say. Hence the writing blockage.

So in my intent to subvert this, I thought it might be a good idea to keep a word diary–not like a diary diary but more like a food diary. Instead of documenting every food item I consume each day and then add up the calories, I would document my words spoken and add them up.

Starting today:

Good morning (2x = 4 words)

Hi (3x = 3 words)

Have fun (2 words)

Excuse me (to people blocking the doors of the train as I exit) (4x = 8 words)

Sorry (to people on the train I brush up against as I try to exit (3x = 3 words)

TOTAL WORD COUNT: 20 words

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Lost thought

I had a really great thought an hour ago. But now I can’t seem to find it. It’s gone. Which is too bad because I was so impressed with it. I think it was one of my best. I think it had something to do with doing something simultaneously with another thing. And I think the thought occurred while walking to the bathroom at work. I was thinking and walking simultaneously.  It was such a vivid thought that I didn’t think it was necessary to write it down. What do you think it was?

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Convergence

I’m not quite sure I understand why people smile.

No.. wait. I get that. But why do so many, it seems like most people, smile in photos on these dating sites? Why? And then once in a while someone on 1 of those sites will tell me that I look intense. Because I am not smiling.

As if a smile is sign of content and happiness… which it can be for some people. Or for some moments. But not for everybody.

Sometimes I think a smile and true happiness occurring at the same time might only be a coincidence. Or a rare phenomenon, like the Harmonic Convergence. How strange is it that I can’t recall what happened during the last Harmonic Convergence. Where was I? Hmmmm…  I think I was teaching part-time, working at a media arts non-profit that is now defunct, doing a lot of little performances or maybe working on 1 big one.  Creatively, I was on fire. And hanging out at the Rainbow Club, like almost every night, getting plastered, which for me means 2 drinks. And completely screwing up 2 very meaningful relationships. It breaks my heart to think about them. So if there was one moment of convergence, I guess I was too distracted to notice. And I had been waiting for it for so so long. It’s a shame.

It makes me sad to write about it. Even though within that sadness was one of the happiest periods of my life. So maybe I experienced some degree of harmonics, sans convergence. But what happened to the fire?

The point I was trying to make is that a smile does not really signify anything. I mean, I’m going through my music collection. Hundreds of albums and CDs by incredible musicians. And with 1 or 2 exceptions, nobody is smiling. In my book collection, some of the authors are smiling but they tend to be Buddhists,  people like the Dalai Lama or Pema Chodron. Otherwise, my apartment is cluttered with works by dozens of writers and musicians who inspire me, who look kind of “intense.” Can you imagine John Coltrane smiling while he recorded A Love Supreme? Can you imagine Samuel Beckett smiling for the book jacket of Molloy, one of the most hilarious books ever?

The point I was trying to make is that forcing a smile can wear a person out. And a worn out person is less happy. While the person who is not forcing a smile has a lot more stamina, which can make one feel very happy. And the people like the Dalai Lama …. their  smiles are coming from a very deep deep place that not everyone can reach. But it is worth reaching for.

But then take another person like Krishnamurti and look at his photos on book jackets. I don’t think I’ve seen one photo of him smiling although I’m sure they exist. But I wonder how much success Krishnamurti would have on Tinder with those photos. Maybe this will be my next topic of research.

 

 

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Glop

What does it mean if get pneumoia… and then when you are almost recovered, you get a sinus infection? And one morning you awaken to a puddle of red glop on the kitchen counter because you did not realize that the cap on the bottle of cough medicine you did not finish was not completely closed and the bottle somehow rolled onto its side.

So after you clean up the mess, you decide to make a cup of tea but the mug slips out of your fingers and falls onto a glass bowl that shatters all over the kitchen? So much glass, but you are fortunate your eyes were spared from the shards.

This must be a sign of something? What is it I am doing wrong? Day after day, I’ve been trying to figure this out.

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1-year

Haiku to celebrate the one-year-that-feels-like-a thousand-years anniversary of the orange monstrosity’s inauguration.

Dear President Trump

I pray for the day when the

earth is free of you

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Twilight

Later that evening, she fled. She fled with her eyes closed to the nearest abandoned weigh station. I warned her to wear a blindfold to muffle from the cold, but she scarcely knew my voice. I ran out to remind her of something long-forgotten, but…

Now is the time for twilight. Now is the time for the mincing of words. Now is a day of embellishment. I’m breathing recirculated air, trying to breathe in happenstance. I make sure my stomach is always churning as I turn my head slightly to the left. A moving truck passes by, carrying my worldly former possessions. They never really satisfied me.

So I took to the streets. The saddest part about these streets is the beleaguered starkness.

Yearning and repulsion. If one outweighs the other, the organism will wallow. This was not going as planned.

Dinner was overcooked. Words were minced. Wine uncorked, but still breathing in the recirculated air.

It’s been like this for weeks now.

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Otherworldly

I am sorry that my past few posts have been so bleak instead of oblique. Things are really not that bad if one can pretend that things are better. I am experimenting with new forms of eye contact. Gazing right through the eyes and straight to the soul. It’s quite a change from aversion. So far, people seem to be responding well. They are nicer at work (that might have something to do with sympathy for my recent bout of pneumonia). For some reason, I am getting “liked” on the 400 dating sites where I have profiles. I’m getting more likes on facebook and Instagram. My sister and brother-in-law send me pastries. My mother asks if there is anything she can do for me. Plus Senator Diane Feinstein just subverted the republicans. That was a moment of refreshment from Trump bleakness.

But back to these dating sites, I am not sure how Tinder is supposed to work. When someone has swiped right on my photo, I have no idea what to say. This is different than normal conversation where I have nothing to say. The first few times I sent a message, “Thanks for the swipe. It is mutual,” which did not lead to a response. I tried the “I’m a newbie and not quite sure how this works” line which did not lead to a response. I googled “how to respond to right swipes on Tinder” and found some sort of advice column where the author suggested using the line, “There h/she is!” Now if someone ever said that to me, I would try to stay as far away from that person as I possibly could. Far far away. And it seems creepy to just jumping into “hey, let’s meet up! What are you doing NOW?” I know there are people who can do that. Even if I could, would I want to? Would that be wise? I have no idea.

These are vexing first-world problems. Not even first world problems. More like non-world problems. I could say that about any of my problems. They are not of this world. They are otherworldly.

This one Tinder person just answered my pretend confident message. I wrote “Thanks for the swipe. You have amazing eyes.” And she wrote back, “Thank you. I am new to Boston by way of St. Louis.” To which I responded, “Welcome to Boston. How do you like it here? You look so sad. Your eyes look so sad. Sad eyes can be amazing.” It’s true. Sad eyes are the best. I would trust a sad-eyed person far more than a non-sad-eyed person.

I am not quite sure what I am doing on Tinder or any of the other sites because (truth be told), I have a fear of people getting to know me. Because of the fear that they will not like what they see. So what is the point of pursuing any kind of relationship except to prove that my delusional thinking has no shortage of delusions.

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In the mood

My story does not begin here. It is a story that has lost its way. The story that does not begin here but could, given the right circumstances, is in search of voice in which to tell it. And that voice has become a stranger to me. I am estranged from it. I wish I could turn down the din to hear this voice. I wonder what it would say. It might tell me to take heart. To try to be patient. To not succumb to futility. To which I would reply, “that’s easy for you to say.” And the voice might say, “you know that’s not what I meant.” And I would nod my head in agreement.

The voice is trying to guide me out from out of the rubble. I implore the voice not to. I like lying in my safe, warm pile of rubble. I like that nobody knows this is where I am. But the voice sees this as a place of great danger. The voice is afraid that I will disappear into it, the rubble. And I am terrified of losing this voice, having lost it already. But I am terrified to confront the voice because I don’t know how to handle it if the voice has nothing to say. What will that say about me? I am so so afraid. And what would happen if the voice gave up on me? I’d rather not think about that either.

The voice must take a stand against silence. Not the concept of silence. Or silence as a pause or a meditation. Silence as absence. Silence as a reminder of all that is absent. I’d rather not succumb to these weighty voluminous absences. I am not in the mood. Just not in the mood.

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abandoned

do you ever stop and think about where your life went? what time did it leave and when did you first notice? And the way it left. Without a note or a hint or a trace. Do you ever stop and think about what would happen if you found it again? What would you do with it? Something you didn’t do before it abandoned you.

 

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