silly me to choose to relocate to the unfriendliest city on earth at the dawn of the fascist coup. the absolute worst time to be so far from one’s community. Really really bad timing on my part.
and it’s very confusing because it’s hard to distinguish between the rudeness and aggression of Bostonians on trains, sidewalks, streets, highways … and the vengeful aggression of Trump supporters.
which is strange because this is one of the most progressive cities in the country, but I guess progressive political leanings do not always extend as compassionate behavior.
so when people i pass in the hallway at work who do not say hello or even make eye contact should I just assume they:
- are Bostonians ?
- are Trump supporters?
- are both?
- do not particularly like me in particular?
- are unhappy, period?
- are happy being unfriendly?
- are thinking that I am the one who is unfriendly and that they are just responding to the vibe I am giving off?
- all of the above?
- something in a realm beyond my comprehension?
But the nice thing is that when someone at work actually does make eye contact and say hello, that is almost like a shock to the system. It really wakes me up.
I decided to give my copies of the New Yorker to the woman who is the friendliest person to me at work. And now she is especially friendly. And of course totally not a Trump supporter. And she wears cool dorky glasses. I have to find out where she is from because she certainly does not seem like a Bostonian or a New Englander.
So far most of my conversations with her do not get beyond, “Hi. How’s it going?” But I can’t tell you how nice it feels to get a little break from invisibility.
Of course her name is Jennifer. Jennifers are always the friendliest.
The owner of the house where I have been dwelling for the past 9 months invited me to watch the election night returns with her on Tuesday. My first thought was that I would rather be waterboarded than to suffer through it, even if the fascist madman is hopefully trounced. But the thought of watching and waiting sounds torturous. Which is why I thanked her and said I would probably be at the movies. Or any theater that is dark. Or anywhere where it is quiet and you can close your eyes.
My plan for today was a road trip to Vermont, where I have always fantasized about going, and now it’s merely a 2 hour drive from Boston. I thought I would hit the road in plenty of time to take a short hike somewhere incredibly awestrikingly amazingly beautiful and wander around Brattleboro. But for some reason, I couldn’t fall asleep last night, finally succumbing at around 4:30 a.m. and then sleeping until 11:00 and not even hitting the road until 1:00–at which point I was in a very bad mood, upset with myself for my not very apt time management skills–and then trying to make up for lost time on the drive. But encountering mountain roads with hairpin turns and angry locals trying to pass me on these 1 lane roads. By the time I reached Vermont, I was spent.
I am not sure what is going on with me these days, but I have zero energy and wander around in a state of zombie fatigue. Perhaps it’s the sarcoidosis. Perhaps it’s just loneliness.
And then I spent about an hour searching for the Retreat Trails. I found signs and maps at what appeared to be the trailheads… but the paths themselves were unfindable. I am not quite sure what went wrong. Waze and Google Maps were useless even when I could get a cell signal, leading down roads that either did not exist or guided me to a golf course and a petting zoo.
I decided to abandon the search since it was getting dark, but I was able to find my way to the lovely town of Brattleboro, which was like a refuge. Everything you’d want in an New England town.
i seem to be in the midst of one of these literal periods. where i only take in what the literal world brings me. and then things feel too cramped for me to see very much beyond it. the more literal world is the one with fear and cowardice and shame and anxiety and anger and regret and self-incrimination. my literal world is called Boston. the non-literal world is the one where songs and dreams and titles of new performances or strings of words that do not all relate to the literal world enter my consciousness. I’ve been so out of touch with that world. there’s not even room to daydream about anything not related to the literal.
How does one navigate from the literal world to the non-literal world? with a slide-rule? with a compass? with a seeing eye dog.
now there’s a beautiful concept . A dog that sees with a dog’s eyes and sees for those who are seeking. i seek a seeing eye dog to guide me out from under the yoke of the literal. to create space. to open up the sky. to follow the sky to the cosmos. spaciousness is what i am seeking.
i pray to the dog that sees to find me and lead me out of this place i feel so cornered in. to remove the walls my back is up against.
i’ve never noticed this before. until now. if i close my eyes and listen through the ringing in my ears, i can hear a distant rumble. i’ve been living in this room for 8 months and it is only now that i realize i can hear the train. maybe this is a sign of things finally beginning to open up. i had thought that something more dramatic might be needed. but maybe not. maybe this is it.
This morning, while walking to work, I passed by this guy who said “I’m a good person” to nobody in particular. And I thought this was so great and admirable. I mean, I wish I had the confidence to say that. Maybe it should be my new mantra and if I repeat it each time I catch my mind wandering, I will gradually become a good person. And then maybe the next time I pass by this guy, he will say to me “You are a good person.” And I will say, “Thanks. That means a lot to me. I think you’re a good person, too.” And he might say, “Oh, thanks. But it’s not always true.” And I might say, “I’m sorry you feel that way. I really think you have a lot to offer.” And he might say, “Gosh, it’s so rare that I see things that way.” And I might say, “I imagine you don’t always see yourself as others see you. Because if you did, just think about how much more confident you’d feel and then you would blossom into an even better person.” And he might say, “Wait. I thought you already said I was a good person.” And I might say, “You are a good person. But I never would have noticed if you did not say it that day we walked past each other. That raised my awareness.” And he might say, “I think you are the most aware person I have ever met.” And I might say, “It sounds like maybe you not have met very many people.” And he might say, “I knew you would say that.” And I might say, “Wow. You’ve got me pegged! I think you are more aware than you give yourself credit for.” And he might say, “Thanks. It’s very kind of you to say that.” And I might leave our conversation with an impression that maybe I am a good person after all. All I needed was a better person to convince me of that.
to be chanted repeatedly for 22 minutes, upon awakening and before bed
i’ve been thinking a lot about glaciers since your trip to Alaska. And what they might sound like. i reconnected with this almost friend from my art school days, Pierre. And I did not realize that he was one my students when I taught a class in digital sampling. I could not remember that at all. I remember teaching the class. And I remember taking my students on a field trip to the Lyon & Healy harp factory. And I remember bringing “guest artists” into the class each week for the students to record (a singing dog and people with very unusual voices). And I remember that each week when the students played recordings of their work, we would turn the lights off, except for one very dim red light bulb. And I remember the head of the sound department occasionally peaking his head in. And I remember he told he could not tell if I was teaching a class or leading a seance. And I remember not saying, what’s the difference? And then I remember not being re-hired.
So… Pierre takes trips to the Arctic to record the sound of glaciers. And sometime over the winter, when Walden Pond was frozen, Pierre dug a little hole and stuck a microphone through the iceghost into the water.He said the recording sounded like the ghosts of 1000 crickets. I think he said that glaciers might sound the same, very ghost-like but less chirpy.
And I wondered if I he would let me hear his recording of the glaciers and if they would become like a song he can’t get out of your head.
Pierre also recalled how we collaborated on something for WhiteWalls magazine, and how I did the graphics and the layout. And I said how could that be? I had very little if any talent for graphics. He said it was just something I did in those days. Helping people with whatever they needed help with even if I was of no help whatsoever.
And I thought about memory. And the life that other people remember me living which I somehow was not around to experience. maybe memory is just chatter. maybe memory sounds like a thousand glaciers.
maybe i”ve already written to you about this before. maybe I already told you that when I was in the hospital post-bike accident 8 years ago, going in and out of consciousness, heavily sedated by morphine…. my sister tells me she remembers a time when i awakened and I started to give a little talk about string theory, and that it even was informative and made sense. and of course i did not know and I still do not know anything about string theory. i believe there are things that are called strings, but it does not matter whether i believe they exist or not. if people are seeing strings, i have no reason to doubt them.
so i guess it’s true. it’s true what they say. they say that the hardest thing about going away is returning to the place you were getting away from. if such a place even exists.
the things i left are still here, the way i left them. the broken window covered with a black plastic garbage bag. the forgotten sandwich, molding away in the refrigerator. the book on John Cage and Zen Buddhism that I began reading when I arrived here in January, finally finished the day before my departure. the rust stain on the marble sink. the clothes moths.
but for some reason, somebody broke in, to make the bed, and move things around that I may never find again. maybe that was their purpose.
i worry about not feeling things again the way i felt them before.
i worry about feelings the same way i felt them before.
because i am back.
there is a reason i came back. i am fairly certain of it.
it’s unfathomable to me now.