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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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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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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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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that person

i fear that i’ve become how I imagine people see me.

they don’t see this childish person trapped in this old’ish body

they don’t see that i have or once had a sense of humor

or any kind of creative thought

they don’t see anyone with any kind of passion or interests

or depth

or depth of feeling

they don’t hear the music playing in my head

they see my fears and insecurities

but they might see them more as quirks of character

i wish i could make them see me differently

that I could control this somehow

but this weight of these imagined perceptions

this weight i have not been able to shed


standing on the scale each morning does not seem to help



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something must be wrong with my metabolism or something. walking a mile in the cold on a night that I would not consider to be cold one year ago left me completely winded and frozen. But I am glad that something beyond me pushed me to walk through it. And then one more mile after that. by the time I arrived at the theater, my body was in shock. And I don’t even think it was below 35 degrees out. it may have been muggy for other people,  for all I know.

and my typing is getting worse. in the above paragraph, it took about 10 attempts to type something correctly.

and then there’s my spelling. i was writing an email to a friend and I wanted to use the word “unprecedented,” but for some reason I was completely blanking out on how to spell it. unpresidented, unprescendented, unpresented, until finally I gave up and replaced it with unique. and unique is as meaningless an adjective as interesting.

and by the way, it took 3 attempts for me to type and spell correctly adjective.

maybe this is just my way of conforming to the wealthiest country with the poorest educational system, which is the real reason why tens of millions voted for Trump. i wonder how Trump supporters would fare in a spelling bee against non-Trump supporters. I don’t think they’d make it past the first round.

not because all of them are unintelligent. they just never learned critical thinking or how to discriminate in the face of untruth.

as for the others, they are just wretched awful people. who even cares if they are intelligent or not? because they should not even exist.

gosh, i didn’t mean to go on like this. it was very selfish of me. I just didn’t know who else to turn to.


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current events

i couldn’t sleep at all last night. I’m not sure why. I was depleted. I was exhausted. But it felt like there was a live current going through my body. and then I began to think thoughts that you are not supposed to think if you can’t fall asleep. such as “how am I going to function tomorrow? how will I possibly make it through the day? how many mistakes will I make at work? and how many mistakes will I make in human communication? and now what time is it? fuck!!” Which is cognitively unhealthy thinking.

But this live current could care less about cognition. it is alive in ways the rest of me is not. i suppose it’s possible it may outlive me. And then it will simply live as free floating energy.

maybe i could follow its lead. maybe it is guiding me to something and I need to pay attention to it. maybe it can be my teacher and my guide. maybe it could help me on those days when my spirit animal if off in the wilderness.

but really, if I don’t get more than 6 hours of sleep tonight, I think I might be in real trouble.

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Autumn Inn

an overflow of unfortunate decisions and nondecisions that began at

1:00 a.m when I suddenly had an urgency to create a short video piece that I for whatever reason I just had to post on Facebook at that moment… or else.

1:45 a.m. video completed and posted to facebook

2:30 a.m. made it to bed.

3:30 a.m. could not fall asleep because I was too cold. it was freezing, but the owner of the house had just scolded me for using too much heat.

4:30 a.m. finally fell asleep after adding an extra layer, one of which was a down parka.

10:00 a.m. stumbled out of bed, ate oatmeal, and began to pack up for my one day trip to Northampton to meet with a gallery director about my performance proposal … and then spend the night at a hotel, and then go on a short hike somewhere around there the next day.

11:00 a.m. began packing for my one night stay

12:15 p.m. finally finished packing. I have no idea why it took so long.

12:30 tried to go to the organic grocery store to pick up lunch but there was no parking to be found. I could have easily just walked there

12:45 continued driving down Centre Street for lunch at a mediocre diner where I knew I would find parking.

1:45 left the diner and headed out to Northampton, at least 90 minutes late. Emailed the gallery director to tell her I would be running late. I offered to reschedule if this was an inconvenience, but since she didn’t respond, I thought everything would be find.

3:45 arrived at the gallery. The gallery director asked why I was so late. She did not say hello or thank me for coming, things that I would expect a human to do. I told her the traffic was slow leaving Boston, which I guess was partially true. I did not tell her that it was personal traffic that had nothing to do with driving. Then she said that she only had a few minutes. I showed her a couple of excerpts from the performance and I could tell she had absolutely no interest. But that did not deter me from showing her a second excerpt.

She said she would get back to me in a few weeks. I am guessing I will never hear from her again. Which is fine because life is too short to have people like intruding upon it.

4:30 went to a coffee joint. the staff was hip and unfriendly. the place was packed, no empty tables, but I stood around because I had nowhere else to go. Eventually found a table. And I thought, maybe it’s time to look into where I am going to stay tonight because I still had not made a reservation. I could not find anything online in my price range that did not look depressing. So I went on Priceline, bid $60 on a “3 star” hotel. My bid was rejected. Tried another bid at $80, which became $97 adding in tax. My bid was accepted and it showed that I would be staying at the Autumn Inn. Read read some of the user reviews, mainly people saying that it was a 1 star hotel at the very max. The photos were equally dismal.

I thought that maybe I should just swallow the $97 loss and try to look at it as a speeding ticket, and head “home.” But then I was so angry at myself for my poor judgement, I decided that I deserved to spend the night there. And besides that, if I stayed, I could get up early and hike somewhere beautiful, which was actually my excuse for traveling there. the gallery was secondary. And then, refreshed and exhilarated from my hike, I could drive drive to Boston in time for my late afternoon OKcupid date. But then I thought how nice it would be wake up and already be in Boston, and then I could just wander around this park in Cambridge I hear is so beautiful.

But then I thought, c’mon… what’s one night in a shitty hotel? Why am I so spoiled?

And this went on back and forth, back and forth.

6:00 Dinner at a falafel place, quite good actually. since they had wi-fi, I continued to look online for any clues from the universe as to whether I should stay or head back.

6:45 Decided to stay. Went back to the coffee joint to continue my online research and use the bathroom. It was closed. So I walked over to “State Street Fruit” which was actually a liquor store with a small produce section. I asked if I could use their bathroom. The cashier told me I could not and suggested that I go to the coffee joint.

I thought, I think I’ll be OK to hang on until I arrive at the hotel. But I had forgotten where I had parked. In absolute desperation, I found found a small alley with some bushes between the back of an Indian restaurant and a real estate office that appeared to be closed. I went, undetected.

7:40 Located my car.

7:44 drove up and down Elm Street in search of the Autumn Inn. It took several passes before I finally found it. I thought I could at least give the room a chance…  and then I could decide if it was tolerable or not. Just give a chance, I told myself. Is that too much to ask?

8:00 arrived at the hotel room. it was even more depressing than I thought. I think the empty old rocking chair in the corner really got to me for some reason. I anticipated a night of nightmares. just very bad vibes about the hotel… And then the loud stomping of the hotel guests above me. the universe seemed to be telling me something.

8:30 got back in my car and headed “home.” most of the trip somehow managing not to think about this squandered day and squandered money.

10:30 arrived “home.” i tried to find the positives. the people at the falafel place were nice.


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Jennifer #12

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:

  1. are Bostonians ?
  2. are Trump supporters?
  3. are both?
  4. do not particularly like me in particular?
  5. are unhappy, period?
  6. are happy being unfriendly?
  7. are thinking that I am the one who is unfriendly and that they are just responding to the vibe I am giving off?
  8. all of the above?
  9. 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.

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