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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trajectory

i started weeping at the movies tonight. The movie was kind of sad, but not as sad it made me feel. The movie was just a trigger. I’ve been crying a lot of late. As I realize how much I have pushed away from all of the good things  that have happened in my life, all of the good people, all of the good situations. Because I was so intent on making things into more of a struggle than they needed to be. Sooooo much more of a struggle.

And I was so immersed in surviving this struggle day after day that I seem to have forgotten. I seem to have forgotten to create a life for myself. It wasn’t intentional. Not consciously anyway. Consider it to be an oversight of monumental proportions. I forgot to surround myself with people who I love who love me. And I forgot to have a partner. And I forgot to have a child or 2. And a home. It wasn’t intentional.

So at the movies tonight, in a theater in a city that stills feels foreign after more than a year, more foreign than when I arrived, I realized that I may have missed my window of opportunity. There’s nothing on the trajectory I am currently on that suggests anything, such as myself, will change. But it has to, doesn’t it? But how?

 

 

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inattention

I am writing to you as a survivor of the wreckage. the wreckage being that place where artists go, where those who have no visible identity except for the art that they make… that place where artists who are not making art go when they’re not making art. I write to you as I climb out of the wreckage. it’s snowing out. and very slushy.

But I am free of that place.

After the highest highs of my performance with BC 2 and half months ago, I fell back to earth and realized I had forgotten to make a life for myself there. It was something I had neglected. But it didn’t bother me because I wasn’t paying attention. And now I have no choice but to pay attention.

It’s so easy to stop paying attention because inattention is kind of a refuge. I definitely do not need a refuge as much as most other people on the planet. But I seem to go there anyway. To that place, untainted by the evil and malevolent and mean-spirited forces who have seized control of the government.  I go there and find that it doesn’t it exist. Much like the life I have created there that I long to return to doesn’t exist.

The purpose of my telling you this is not because it has any meaning and not because it needs to be told. Consider this to be nothing more than a typing exercise.

 

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Back in the Bardo, again

It’s official. I’ve returned to the Bardo after an extended absence. Actually I’ve been here for at least a month but it’s taken me at least a month to realize it. But here I am.

My imaginary home is a million light years away and by the time I finish this sentence another million light years will have passed. But my imaginary home is nowhere in sight.

I have no shortage of imaginary friends, thanks to social networks. My imaginary family reappears every once in a while.

The Bardo is like Jello. Moving around is like walking in Jello. Lime Jello I imagine. No marshmallows, thankfully. It sounds like Jello. It has no smell. But it has weight. And exposed duct work. And now it has more weight now that I am in it.

My return was not entirely an accident. I mean it wasn’t unintentional. Rather it was a lack of intention. If I were paying more attention, perhaps I could have found an intention. But I didn’t. And now I can’t find it.

 

 

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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Sitting in a coffee shop on the eve of the Electoral College vote, with “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” playing on the shitty tinny sound system. I try to tune it out, but it’s the saddest version I’ve ever heard. The lead singer’s merriment sounds forced and inauthentic. The big band accompanying him is clearly going through the motions, barely awake. The trumpet player attempts to improvise a solo, but suddenly loses all track of melody and rhythm, eventually running out of air while attempting a high note. The background singers, too, sound somewhere else and sing something haunting and mournful, like Ligeti’s Requiem. The lead singer somehow manages to make it through the entire arrangement, but as it grinds to a finish, you could hear him walking out the recording studio, slamming the door in frustration and shame. I asked the manager if he could switch the music to something less seasonal, but he said that he had no control over the playlist.

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In exile, part 12

There’s something about living in a strange city where one doesn’t  know anyone on the eve of a tyrannical regime that is a bit off putting. What can one do? 

One wanders. 

One wanders into a concert but does not hear music

One wanders into a movie theater but does not see the screen

One wanders into a restaurant and eats nothing but carbs. And then more carbs. And then more after that. 

One wanders into a wifi coffee place with one’s ipad to try to write something meaningful and transformative. Something that will change you. 

One notices how all of the unhealthy foods have softened the brain when sharpness is what is needed. 

One thinks about the errands not done. The groceries not shopped for. The laundry unlaundered. 

One looks out on the street at the people crossing the crosswalk and one feels some inexplicable moment of uplift that does not reallly have any relationship to anything. 

One notices that this is the moment when hope has arisen. 

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sarcoidosis (spreading)

Tonight I attended a John Cage concert at some chapel at Harvard University. What started out as this beautiful, meditative tone poem for piano and violin, with increasingly sustained periods of silence between each note… well I was totally into it at first. It felt like the perfect antidote.

But then those silences were disrupted with thoughts of Trump. I would try to return to the music, only to find that the fleeting thoughts were becoming less and less fleeting getting heavier and darker. Taking on more volume and mass. And then I’d return to the room, only to be pulled away by the thoughts, getting louder and thicker. And I’d return for a brief second before succumbing to fear and sadness. An then an even briefer return. Until there was a wall, a real wall, between the music and I, a wall built on terror and anger and bewilderment and dread. This is the wall that Trump has already built.

And soon I could barely sit there in the chapel. I found myself squirming, restless, with shortness of breath. Utterly squashed. Annihilated and squashed.

How had the concert become so suffocating? Why this claustrophobic absent presence? Where was John Cage when I needed him most?

I know that shortness of breath is one of the symptoms of sarcoidosis and I have felt so fortunate that I do not have those symptoms, although I do have sarcoidosis, and it’s spreading… but even with sarcoidosis spreading, it was very easy to not think about it when I was diagnosed with it a year and a half ago.
But this Trump dilemma feels exponentially more worrisome than an auto-immune disease of unknown origins.
Although the causes of sarcoidosis are unknown, some say it’s probably related to toxins in the environment, something you inhaled that was not meant to be inhaled.  But you can say that about anything.
Certainly Trump is caused by toxins in the environment.
Actually now it appears that Trump is THE cause of toxins in the environment.
But what causes Trump?
Why is there evil in the world?
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