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. And myself.

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

We could tell by the scent of your hair that you had come from somewhere far far away. So far away that there wasn’t a map that could find it. But it was a familiar scent. Like burning raisin toast. Or an empty humidifier. All of us agreed that you were was very hard to locate. And even harder to find.

We could speculate that you came from a distance. Perhaps from some netherworld. Or perhaps from some laundromat. Or maybe a car wash? You had that washed away look in your eyes. It was pretty unmistakeable. I wish you could have seen it.

I thought of you a lot while riding the train. Glancing out the window passing towns and forests that bubbling with life, even in the winter, even in the dark. I gazed in wonder at this marsh I must have seen 1000 times by now. But I never realized it was there until just before I got home, just 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 I remembered. Fluorescent green. It didn’t dawn on me that you were standing beneath a fluorescent green lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. 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. I imagined that if you could smile, it might take all of your effort. And I didn’t want to exhaust you. I mean you had just gotten home. What kind of welcome would that have been? Not a very welcome welcome. The thought that I might be asking you to smile against your will was not something I could endure. It’s never very good when things become unendurable. Although some people are into that.

I 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. I would have asked if you would like to stay, but I thought that maybe I should wait until you had actually entered the room. I might build up to that later. Or maybe that would be too manipulative. Maybe I should ask you to stay right now. But I thought if I had asked you’d be out the door in a flash.

But if I didn’t ask and you had left without my asking… that was not anything I could ever endure. I was at wit’s end. What would it be like to live in wit’s beginning? I wish I had thought to ask you that.

Instead I found myself staring at your shoes., You always had such cool shoes. And I loved the colors of your shoelaces. You wore these dark brown boots leather grained like footballs. And fluorescent orange shoelaces. It was so perfect. I wish I had your sense of style. I never really knew what to wear anywhere. I never really thought of who might be looking. It just never occurred to me, for some reason.

And that scarf you were wearing. It looked exactly like the scarf I 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. But it was such a great scarf. I 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)


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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Hotel tonight

I arrived in New York without a bed, nor a roof over my head to get through the winter night. This was a situation that could be easily remedied, but I chose not to until the very last minute. I was using the “Hotel Tonight” to monitor the falling prices. As the day progressed, the lower the prices dropped.

It turns out that the biggest bargain was the very one I could not stomach. A room in the Trump Soho hotel dropped from $450/night to $73/night. This was at 4:00 pm. Perhaps if I had waited, the hotel might have paid me to stay there. But I did not want to run the risk of contamination. I would have needed a major delousing after a one-night stay, maybe even during it. To be in the periphery of such odiousness.

I think that the scariest part of living under the Trump/Republican regime is not know when or if it will ever end.

So I ended up staying at a trendy hotel in Brooklyn and I could easily have stayed there forever if I had not run out of $$ and gotten sick. So now, back in Providence, home sick. Trying to conjure a spark within. And not think about Trump.

On the train ride out of New York, I was hit with a massive wave of despair but I am trying to shake myself out of–knowing I was returning to utter aloneness. Were humans equipped to feel such loneliness? I am not. Loneliness is like the Trump regime in certain ways. A dark cloud that will hopefully pass. Because it has to.

Maybe Bach Fest on the radio will uplift me. Maybe D’s new book, which is unexpectedly intense. Intensely funny. Intensely sad, on top of the sadness I feel when I think of how far we drifted apart and how I let that happen. Intensely regretful.

Isn’t this post pathetic? This will be the last one of its kind. I swear.

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I’m in New York for the holidays. And I don’t even know which holidays I am here for. But it always feels like a good time to go. Someday I will learn why.

When I first arrived, I dragged myself to my friend F’s neighbors Christmas Eve party. This is the 3rd or 4th year I have gone. There are people I am happy to see and who are happy to see me, even though we have never seen or communicated with each other outside of the moments we share at this party and they know so little about my life. And then I look around the room where I don’t know anyone and try to find someone who looks like they would invite a conversation. So I give it a whirl. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

When I arrived at this party 2 days ago, I was my met joyfully by F’s soon-to-be-ex-husband. A big reason why he is soon-to-be ex is because he is an alcoholic. An entertaining exuberant alcoholic, but I could not fathom having to deal with that day after day… and raising 2 children on top of all that. It sounds like an unmanageable hell. Anyway, the soon-to-be-ex, Peter might be his name, immediately greets me as I enter the house and gives me the warmest hug and a peck on the cheek. And says, “I have to confess. I am very drunk.” And I said, “That’s OK. It’s the holidays.” He looked confused and asked “Which holidays.” And then I reminded him.

Then he told me how miserable he was, since F threw him out of the house. And I said, “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry this is happening. My heart goes out to you.” And it really did go out to him. Especially since F was there at the party. Keeping at least a room’s length distance. He told me that shortly before the party, F and he had a really good talk and “hugged it out.” I sighed one of my deepest sighs. He then told me that he had started to return to gay bars (he once was and probably still is gay), but that all of the guys are half their age and they don’t look up from their phones.

I sighed again. But in my own way, I have been through this. Not the marriage or former marriage or gay or ex gay part. But it felt very familiar to me. How many times have I been at parties or social gatherings where someone who has just rejected me is also present? How many times have I tried to act as nonchalant as possible, unfettered, while at the same time trying to exude such wit, joy and charisma that could only rekindle and win back the heart of my rejector. It’s a terrible horrible position to be in. Probably not as terrible a situation as being thrown out of the house by partner of umpteen years. Probably not as terrible as battling alcoholism or addiction. Since I haven’t experienced either of those, I consider myself fortunate. But alienation and rejection and a decimated heart are not lightweight matters.

If I could really have been candid with Peter, I would have suggested that perhaps not showing up at social events completely plastered in your soon-to-be-ex’s presence might be a good place to start. But obviously this is one demon I have not confronted.

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The Shield

I don’t know how wise it is to write when you are falling asleep. How can I expect a reader to not fall asleep? That’s something I really don’t have to worry about because, based upon my calculations, I am the 1 person who reads this blog. But I would not say I am a very loyal reader. I am not. I can be very disloyal. I can turn on people. I can be vengeful and vindictive and vile. I can be soulless and dishonorable. I can be all of those things, but I prefer not to be. But that’s sometimes how I feel. So much pent up anger directed towards one person in particular at work. I’m not sure what to do with it. Were I not so fearful of asserting myself, or imagining what would happen if I asserted myself, perhaps I would not have so much pent-up anger and resentment. I might even be someone who could you might call a fun person. I used to be a fun person. What happened to him?

But instead I’ve become un-fun. Even now. Riding the train. I am not sure why this keeps happening, but I am usually the first to take a seat… and then when I am watching people slowly trickle into the cart, there are always some people who make me cry out to the universe, “please, dear universe, please sway this person away from sitting next to me. Please protect me.” (They are usually a male with no sense of boundaries, eating fried foods). While the people I would feel completely happy sitting next to walk on to the next row. I’m not sure why this keeps happening. It all makes me feel like I must be doing something wrong. That I have done something really wrong to incite the universe to act against me. That this bitterness I feel at my workplace spills over into my non-work life. And when my soul and psyche are stirred up in this way, everything feels like work. Life becomes laborious. Difficult. Not fun. A real challenge.

The frictionless life I have in mind eludes me. Which is not what I had in mind. I really need to be more open to the world. And put up less of a shield. Because the problem with most shields is that they don’t have filters. They just block everything out. The good and the bad. The whole spectrum. It’s a rather barren place to live, behind this shield. I would not recommend it. Not to any of my readers. If you’re thinking of investing in a shield, you better consider the consequences.

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My days are filled feeling angry and hateful and vindictive towards myself and others. I don’t think this is what the people who gave birth to me had in mind. They took their chances. And this is what what came out.

But don’t worry. I’m just in a really bad mood. It will pass as soon as I swim a 1/2 mile. That is usually what it takes.

It would help if I were around people who could bring out the good things I like to think are still there. somewhere. Inside. Lurking. Hiding. Keeping their distance. It’s near the 2 year mark since I came to this town. And at last count, I have made -6 or -7 friends. People meet me to satisfy their curiosity. And then they are gone. I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have friends in Chicago or New York or LA or New Orleans. They are the ones who keep me alive.

Everyone tells me I should find MeetUp groups. And I look for them, but nothing seems very appealing. Or I don’t have the courage to ride a kayak or go hiking with someone I’ve never met. I would think I would have to build up trust with somebody first. If I fell or sank underwater, how would I know if they would save me? And none of the book clubs are reading anything I would ever want to read. The artist groups are for visual artists. I’m not that interested in cooking. Or bitcoins. Thermal bridge modeling sounds kind of cool, at least I love the phrase. But it might not be a good fit. Same for the French language group. Definitely not the board or card game groups. I just don’t have the attention span for that sort of thing. The Dungeons & Dragons group… that sounds way too scary. I don’t think I’d last very long in the UX Support group. And there are so many Holiday parties to not want attend.

So I guess this means I don’t like anything. And I will spend the remainder of my days alone.

Maybe I should form my own group. Or move to a new city where there is a Leonard Cohen group; a Laurie Anderson group; a Kafka group; a Beckett group; a Gertrude Stein group; a staring out the window group; a solitude group; a sleepwalkers group; a Little Prince group; a John Cage group; a train robbery group; a falling asleep on the train group; a failed romantic group; a Vertigo group; a Carla Bley appreciation group; a cereal eaters group; a thunderstorm group; a slow but deep thinkers group; a telepathy group; an ancient cemetery wanderers group; a group for people haunted by regret for bad life decisions. I guess there are lots of things I like. Who cares if most of them do not exist.

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