Havana night

On the train home from the holiday party (the theme was “Havana Night”) at work where I endured and apparently survived an hour and a half of awkward meandering around people I see everyday but have never spoken to and I don’t know their names but the music was so blaring that even when I did attempt conversation, I could not hear anything anyway and I’m sure they could not hear me (so I guess I found something I have in common with them) and deep fried appetizers that immediately made feel nauseous, thus defeating my strategy to drink as much alcohol as my body could handle and the only drink I could handle was ginger ale but all of those drinks were successful in leading me to several bathrooms breaks, although the layout of the bathroom was a little too open for me to take a nap in and now on this train, I am beginning to stop visibly shaking.

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3 years.

3 years of what?

3 years of something.

3 years of knowing less and less than I did the previous 3 years

Although aging seems to be objectively speaking undeniable

But it’s all a blur. A meandering, mercurial blur.

Or maybe millions and millions of micromoments of blur that somehow accumulated to form 3 years.

And what have I to show for it?

A new driver’s license in a new state I cannot imaging living in.

3 years of living in such a state.

I’m trying to think of all of things that I could have made happen in 3 years,  but chose not to, even when they could have been in my self-interest.

3 years of living in a self I am really not interested in knowing.

3 years of time I could have spent with you instead.

but how would you ever know that?

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I feel like I owe the world an apology. I know I am supposed to stop apologizing but I am trying to figure out how to handle the shame and embarrassment I feel over things I have said or done to people I love and admire. 2 of them in particular. E and N., neither of whom have responded to my recent emails. And it pains me. It even hurts to think about it. What could I say to remedy the situation?

Dear E.

It was wrong of me to not write to you in months, or communicate beyond Likes and Hearts. And then to reappear to tell her that my niece will be working in NYC this summer and is looking for a sublet and if E should have a vacancy in her basement apartment and would like rent coming in, I offered to connect her with my niece. It’s so embarrassing to reappear like that, out of nowhere. And then to ask for a favor. But it was more of an inquiry and an offer than a favor, wasn’t it? Because the rent from my niece could help pay E’s bills. Still it felt like a favor. And I’m so embarrassed about that.

And then my email continued with attempts at witty, self-effacing banter. But I added that I hoped that things were getting resolved or were less stressful with her divorce. Maybe that was the wrong thing to say. The last time I spoke to you was almost a year ago. Back then she were looking for a divorce lawyer. But maybe the divorce is not happening. Maybe it was totally inappropriate for me to mention it. Maybe I’ve become an acquaintance to you, and who would want an acquaintance to mention things that a mere acquaintance has no place asking. I wanted to express concern. It would have felt strange not to acknowledge that. But maybe I overstepped my bounds. It’s a big overstep to take when one resurfaces from nowhere, as I have done. What kind of friend is that?


Dear N

I am confused about my I have not heard from you in over a week when in the past you respond to my messages almost immediately. Was it because I asked you to read a story I had written that was not very good? Was it because I was not completely suppressing the infatuation I am not letting myself feel for you which I am convinced would make you feel uncomfortable? Was it because I asked if you could send me suggestions for zines and publications where I could send my writing? Did you think I was using you? Did you notice a leakage in my suppression container? Really, I hope you would not feel like I would ever act upon it.

If either E or N would respond, my world would be greatly profoundly uplifted. But without hearing from you, I am bereft. Embarrassed and bereft.

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Gingko Biloba

I saw this guy walking outside the train station, gazing down at the sidewalk. Murmuring (to himself, I think), “Fuck! Fuck! God dammit! Fuck! Fucking shit! Fuck!” I wanted to ask what was troubling him. But I was a little reluctant to approach. So I followed him for several blocks, through the park, past the discount shoe store, past the Panera, past the fake Chinese restaurant, past the mall, down the stairs outside the mall and finally beneath the highway underpass, where he turned around and said, “Don’t worry. It’s not your fault.”

At first, I was so immensely relieved, I can’t even describe it. And then I thought, “Gosh, do I really across as someone who worries? I hope I don’t look that worried.”

And then I continued following as he walked several blocks ahead, along the river, past the old foundry that was now a condo development, through the construction zone, until we reached the parking lot of the IHOP where he turned around again and said “Excuse me. Excuse me, but would you happen to know anything about the universe? There’s a question I’ve been meaning to ask it.”

I said “I personally don’t know the Universe all that well, but one of my cousins is fairly close with it. She lives in Iowa. I can call her now, if you like.”

He said he appreciated the offer but that he preferred to speak to the universe directly. And I said, “Totally understandable. If I didn’t have a cousin, I would probably feel the same. Do you mind if I ask what kind of question you would like to ask?”

He said, yes, he would mind. Then he said, no, he wouldn’t mind. If only he knew how to put his question into words.

I told him that my cousin always says that if you ever have the opportunity to speak to the universe, you had better watch every word you say.

“Well, I’m not sure how to word this, but I’d like to know what the universe has in store for me. Like what are its intentions? Because things have not exactly been going my way and I wonder if it’s something I’m doing wrong or if there’s some reason behind all of this.  Maybe that’s too generic a question.”

I said, “That doesn’t sound generic to me, but I think my cousin would be a great person to ask because she happens to work as a psychic and she might have training in this sort of connecting with the universe sort of thing.”

He scratched his left ear which I took to be a sign of interest.

“No, wait…. I’m sorry!” I said. “Now that I think about it, she might not be the best person to ask because she’s more of an animal psychic. Mainly farm animals. Goats, cows, sheep, ponies, roosters and hens. But she might know somebody who might know somebody who might know the universe.”

He said, “Hmmmmm … I have to think about this.” And then he walked on.

I followed him for another few blocks, into the Walgreens, past the skincare and the antacids, through the grocery aisles, into the cereal section, where I found him scanning the shelves. I interjected, “It’s a pretty terrible selection, isn’t it?” He said it didn’t matter because he wasn’t really sure why he was there in the first place. He had plenty of cereal at home. “More than enough,” he added.

Suddenly he broke down into tears and scrunched down onto the carpet. First a stifled weeping, and gradually volcanic eruptions of tears. I knew I had to do something.  At least make an attempt. At least a gesture. But I thought if I called too much attention to his weeping, that might embarrass him. And then I would feel embarrassed. That was way too risky for me.

So I said, “If you need me, I’ll be in the vitamins and supplements section.”  He probably didn’t hear me, I thought as I walked away, scanning the shelves for gingko biloba. I could not find the brand I was looking for, or maybe it was there, but perhaps I had mis-remembered the name. I think it was Norwegian. I was trying to think of the person who recommended this particular brand to me. It might have been the nutritionist at my allergist’s office, or maybe this woman I knew 7 years ago. She seemed to know a lot about naturopathic medicine. And I found out she knew a lot about a lot of things during our 45 minutes together,  before she ghosted me and disappeared into oblivion. Which was really disappointing to me at the time, until I realized maybe it was I who was the ghost. I always feel like a ghost around new people and maybe I’m not even aware that I have been ghosting people all along. Maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to ghost tours. There’s always the hope that the people I have ghosted will be on the tour and maybe they will find me and then I can apologize for abandoning them. But I often wonder about the woman I may have ghosted 7 years ago. And she never even game me her name. But I wondered if there was really any difference between brand name and generic, The generic was probably just as good as anything else. For some reason, I never quite trusted generics. Which was really dumb because that’s all I could actually afford. I don’t know how I became someone like this. Someone who lives beyond their means and then complains about being broke all of the time. It reminded me of that Traffic song, The Low Spark of something or other, was the title.

The percentage you’re paying is too high-priced and you’re living beyond all your means. And the man in the suit has just bought a new car from the profit he made on your dreams

This was so odd. How could I remember something like that, out of the blue, and never anything really useful? I could even hear the synthesizer solo playing in my head. Every note of it. I think it was a synthesizer. Maybe it was an organ. Or a guitar with some sort of fuzz amplifier. Maybe the song didn’t even have a solo and it’s my memory that is the fuzz amplifier. Should I be worried about this? I guess I should be worried.

Now I’m really worried,

So overcome by worry that I had nearly forgotten about the new friend I had abandoned gosh, I don’t know how long ago.  I promised him I would return. But then again, technically speaking, I had not promised him anything, All I said was, “if you need me.” I guess I would have liked to feel needed. But it felt like a promise. Another promise. So many promises I never fulfilled. Yet I always mean well, I told myself. I liked to think I always have good intentions, which is almost a consolation. But how can I transform my intentions into actions? There must be a way. There must be a way I can learn to do that, if it isn’t too late.

Eventually I found my way back to the cereal section. All of the boxes were still in place. But my friend was nowhere in sight.

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A reaction

Why is it so much easier to react to things than to be the one who causes a reaction? If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me that question, I would be a very rich person indeed. And if I had a nickel for every time someone asked me what that question actually meant, I could build an empire. An empire of what? Another question that may have some value in asking.

Why is it so scary to sleep alone night after night? Is it a good thing or a bad thing that I’ve never gotten used to it? Also very valid questions. But why? Years and years of sleep deprivation because of that dread of the moment of climbing onto the mattress unaccompanied by an adult. Even an adult canine. How can I explain such fear? And who to explain it to? If I had a nickel for….

If I am condemned to a life of sleeping alone, maybe it would be easier to replace the mattress for a trampoline. I’m willing to give it a try. I mean what’s the alternative? Not sleeping on (or in) a trampoline? I’d rather not contemplate that right now. If I do contemplate it, that inevitably brings up my fears of sleeping on a trampoline alone. some might say I am over-reacting.

These are just a couple of the things you may notice me reacting to. In fact those may be the only things you notice me reacting to. I guess I am reactive, but within a very narrow range of alone or not alone… asleep or awake…. or trampoline or mattress. In case you are thinking surely there must be something more going on with this person, I am afraid I may be a real disappointment. What you see is what you get.

I think I’ve just accidentally written my new OKCupid profile.

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Right to life

Thoughts after the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation:

Things are really catching up with me and I’m not sure if I can adapt to them. At my workplace, there was a 401(k) meeting and the 401(k) consultants or whatever they are called (advisors?) Maybe? Whatever they were, they were advising us to deduct 15% of every paycheck to the retirement fund. And whatever I am doing, I am doing it wrong because with each paycheck, I am lucky if I even have $1 left before the next paycheck. And I am not spending any money at all on anything enjoyable.

Although paying for my blog to be ad-free is something that might be a luxury item. If there is anyone out there reading this, I hope s/he appreciates that.

And the advisors kept talking about the typical age for retirement. Which set me off into further panic. I have barely anything saved. Selling my digital piano will not help. What will I do? Is running out of money a good enough rationale for assisted suicide? Maybe I should be saving up for that.

Although the Supreme Court will probably make sure that assisted suicide is illegal. All of these right wing right-to-lifers who make life as difficult as possible for the people who really struggle just being alive. What purpose do we serve in their grand scheme? How would my death impact any of them? It wouldn’t even be a minor inconvenience.

But this is where my mind goes after a 401(k) workshop. I guess it’s better to know sooner rather than later.

But I think one can have a better quality of life if one lives a life of denial.

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This chair

I’m doing a terrible job of making time stand still. And I’m not quite sure what to do about that. It’s a real problem. A real problem. I guess this is what happens to people. People like me. People who wait and wait and wait for something to shift. People who wait for a better time. Who keep waiting and are never satisfied so that this better time never comes. And then they freak out they’ve let so much time pass.

And now look at them. What have they learned in all of this time?

Some of them have learned avoidant behavior. Denying that time exists. Because if there is no time, there is no past or future. Which might lead one to think there is a present. But people who have learned avoidant behavior avoid the present as much as possible because it is too uncomfortable. Much like the chair I am sitting in. This chair does not really care about how comfortable it is to the person who is sitting. This chair does not not care. Maybe this chair is afraid that it cares too much. It cares so much about the ones who are sitting in it that it forgets why it is there in the first place.



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What does one do with water?

I’ve said it before and I guess I have to say it again.

I’m really tired.

So so tired.

It’s been a foggy foggy week. Strung out on Aleve and Advil PM and Tylenol (back strain from cleaning my car after the maggots infestation).

And CBD oil.

I love CBD even though I have no idea how it is affecting me. If it has any affect at all. Maybe I am only pretending that it is. But really, what is the difference? Who even cares?

That’s how tired I am. Too tired to care about what is pretend and what is not.

Or maybe too old.

But I think I will pretend that this is not an issue.

Maybe one has the right to pretend that age is not in issue up until one stops aging and then ceases to be.

I’d rather pretend not to think about that.

I’d rather think about the water. I like to think about the water at the perfect temperature. The temperature in which water is best served.

Or think about what I can do to serve water. I mean, what I can do as a servant of water. How I can honor it? What is it that water asks of me?

The obvious answer is to water it. Because even water needs to be watered every once in a while. Nothing grows without water,

But I should probably rethink that because of Hurricane Florence and massive floods and the polar ice caps melting and the sea level rising. You have to factor in these kinds of things.

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I just discovered that one of my friends is a reader of this blog, which puts a whole new spin on what I write. I’m not sure what that spin will be, how much to reveal, how much to hide, what is real, what is neo-real, what is utter fabrication, what is fantasy. Things like that. I should probably take the idea I always have of an imaginary (anonymous) audience of 1 or maybe 1-1/2.

So strange returning to Boston from Chicago again. The Universe is just not co-operating. It’s obvious I should never should have left home (no matter how stagnant things were), or at least not moved to a city as cold and small and unfriendly as Boston. I know I should make more of an effort to be accepting of my circumstances and try to make the best of things. But it would be so much easier to count this as a loss of time and money and heart and life… and just move on. Is there something more I can do to convince the Universe? Oh Universe, can you hear me? I’m ready to go.

My experience with TSA at the airport for my trip back to Boston should have been enough of a sign. After getting scanned or whatever it is they do in that booth where you have to step onto the yellow footprints and raise your arms over and behind your head, the TSA agent motioned me to wait. Then he told me he would need to do some sort of full-body inspection, which involved frequent crotch grabbing. He even showed me a drawing of the outline of a body with the crotch area highlighted by a square. He asked if I might like to be inspected in a private area (of the airport). that was the moment I probably should have turned around and left the airport and taken the bus or the train because it just didn’t seem like it was worth it. I am not sure why I did not. I had already felt humiliated enough when they scanned my body. His crotch grabbing could not make things much worse.,

And then he touched my arm with some sort of wet wipe, which he then inserted into this device that looked like a microscope, but probably was some sort of DNA analyzer of some sort. I had never seen anything like it before. I will have to research this.

I asked the TSA agent if there was something I had done wrong, or something I was doing wrong. He said it might have something to do with my pants (Levi’s jeans). Which of course made no sense. The only thing metal about my jeans was the zipper. But I noticed there were countless other people wearing pants with zippers strolling through TSA without any complications.

This keeps happening. Like almost every time. It reminded me of the airport in Rochester Minnesota. I had a procedure there which I would rather not describe here, but I left the hospital with a large bandage over some stitches in my neck. The TSA agent asked me to remove the bandage, and I probably said, “You’ve got to be kidding” and explaining that my doctor had given me explicit instructions to not remove the bandage. This got me nowhere. He removed the bandage and found that I was not hiding an explosive device implanted in my neck.

I have to figure this out why this keeps happening. What is the big mystery that triggers these searches? Do I really look like some sort of miscreant? Perhaps it has something to do with how nervous I am when confronted with The Law. And the nervousness arouses suspicion. Many years ago, I had applied for a job as a stock boy at a liquor store and one of the requirements in their hiring process was a a lie detector test. Which I failed dramatically. Perhaps it was due to nervousness, but each time this very gruff detective-type asked me a question about some transgression or another (Have you stolen anything at work? Do you get high at work? Have you ever falsified a timesheet? Have you been subject to any disciplinary action?) … with each question, I imagined what it would be like to be in those situations. And if you imagine on a lie detector test, it’s pretty certain you will fail.

And then I get nervous around cops, especially when they pull me over. Nervousness beyond proportion for those types of situations. And customs agents, even when driving into Canada.

I would like to think that CBD might curtail my A.A.D. (Authority Anxiety Disorder). But that might only complicate things because it’s not legal in every state and I would be even more on edge worrying that I might be caught with it somewhere I should never be.

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Potential partial verse for a potential song

I’m jotting this down here, just so that I don’t lose it.

Like a mouse clinging onto a drowning tree

More lyrics to come.

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escort, part 2

So… I managed to make it through my colonoscopy. The gastroenterologist told me that it went well, that there were no abnormalities. At least not in my colon. I didn’t ask if she found abnormalities elsewhere. And she didn’t say it was abnormal for someone to not be able to find an escort to take him/her home from a procedure that requires an escort. I thanked her for that. She said I did a great job during the procedure, especially since I was awake for most of it.

And then I asked her, “So now what?” She looked confused. I said, “Now, what I supposed to do? Since it looks like I am not dying of colon cancer. What do I do now?”  She said it was fine for me to return to my regular diet.

“But what else should I do? Like with my life? Because I don’t really feel like I should be here.” She said they would take me to my recovery room and then they would call my escort to take me home.

“But then what?,” I asked.

She said that I should probably rest for the rest of the day. But after that, I could resume normal physical activity.

I said, “Please don’t take this the wrong way. But I was hoping for more.”

“What were you hoping for?”

“Well, it wasn’t exactly a hope. But I forgot to tell you at our last appointment… when we talking about liver failure … that if someone had told me before I was conceived how sad and lonely I would be in my later years, living in a place where I can’t even find a single escort … if somebody had given me that information and offered me the choice of being conceived or not being conceived,  I possibly may have said, ‘No thanks. I think I’ll take a pass,’ and asked ‘Do you have any other options?’ I was hoping I would not feel this way after the colonoscopy.”

The doctor told me that makes perfect sense.

And I said, “So maybe next time we should skip the colonoscopy, if I am still alive and living without an escort?”

She said, “Yes, I agree. That makes perfect sense. Like what would be the point?”

“Exactly!” said I.

She began jotting something onto her notepad. I pretended to not watch. I think this went on for several minutes. Before I finally interjected.

“What are you writing about?”

“Oh, just a few notes for our records. Nothing exciting, but nothing bad … in case you’re worried.”

I admitted that I was getting worried, but decided I’d rather not think about it.

“Really, you have nothing to worry about. I would tell you if there was.”

“I know you would. I have total trust in you.”

She stood up, and looked out into the hallway. “Well, I guess I guess this is goodbye.”

“For now,” I said.

“For now,” she agreed.

She was almost out the door when I called out, “Wait!”

“What?!!” she asked, worriedly.

“I forgot to ask, how much do I owe you?”

She said they would be billing my insurance and I would be responsible for my co-pay.

I said, “That’s what I assumed, but I feel like I owe you more. That I should give you at least a little something.”

“You mean like a gratuity of some kind?” she asked. “Tbat’s not really necessary.”

I said, “I know it’s not necessary, but it would make me feel better to give you some small token of my appreciation.”

“Well, OK. What do you have in mind? What are my options?”

I said, “I don’t know. Is there something that you need?”

“Hmmmm,” she said, scratching her chin. “Something I need. I can’t really think of anything at the moment.”

“OK. I’ll try to come up with something.”

She told me not to worry about it.

I said, “Well, you know I’m going to worry.”

She said, “I thought so. But I’d rather you didn’t.”

“Didn’t what?” I asked, “Didn’t give you anything, or didn’t worry?”

“Well, both, I guess.”

I paused to reflect for who knows how long, until I finally said “That’s going to be hard.”

“I know,” she said, “But I think you can do it.”

“Gosh, I am always amazed that you always have such faith in me.”

She said, “Well it’s true and you should never doubt it. I know it’s going to be hard, but just be kind to yourself, OK? Do you think you can do that for me?”

I wasn’t sure what to say.

“If you can do that for me, I would consider that to be the most perfect gift of them all.”

I sighed and thanked her.

She said that my escort was probably on the way

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escort service

In case anyone actually reads my posts, perhaps they (you) may notice that my writing has been more grim of late. I think there’s a reason for this. Which is that I’ve decided not to censor myself or to pretend I am something I am not. This is me. This is where my psyche goes. And tomorrow my psyche will be somewhere else. There is no guarantee that any of what I write is true. And if there is a truth in this statement, there is no guarantee that will be true tomorrow. Or even the next sentence. I sure hope this is the case because I am venturing into some dark dark places.

People who know me might be alarmed by what they are reading, but the thing is I am reasonably sure they will never even read it. Out of sight. Out of mind. My friends, the world I cherished, which inspired and nurtured me is vanishing. And I am doing what I can to not feel alarmed myself. But it isn’t enough. I can no longer dance around the notion.

But if I had to express this notion, I would say that I don’t think I enter anyone’s thoughts very often. At least I don’t feel very thought of. Day after day of not one person calling in to check on me. Nor even an email. An occasional text will pass by, but nothing substantive I can cling to for support. I’ve been thinking far too frequently that if I died here in this city where I am a stranger, if I dropped dead in my apartment,  it would probably take about a week before I was discovered.  And the scariest part of this is how powerless I feel to change the way things seem to be flowing. This is not good.

I blame this all on the colonoscopy I am supposed to have next week. They will only proceed with the procedure if I have an escort to escort me out of the hospital after the procedure. I asked the clinic if they have recommendations for people who don’t have escorts, people like me who don’t have friends or family, at least not within 1200 miles. And they did not offer any suggestions. I guess they assume that everyone has at least someone in their life.

This made me question the purpose of the colonoscopy. I guess the purpose is to rule out anything that might be considered life threatening. So the purpose at least indirectly is to help you stay alive. But it’s just kind of odd. The colonoscopy and my inability to find an escort are intertwined. What is the purpose of sustaining a life of abject isolation? What is the purpose of sustaining a life of someone who cannot even find a single person to act as an escort from the procedure that is intended to sustain a life? This is not the kind of life I would want to sustain. I’ve really had enough of this kind of life. So perhaps the colonoscopy is just not worth the ordeal.

But when I think about it, the isolation is bad enough. But isolation combined with a slow death from a disease that could have been prevented if it had been discovered early enough via the colonoscopy … that would be so infinitely much worse.

I guess I had better find an escort. Somehow.

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This has been going on for quite some time now. “This” being the uncertainty of identity. What does it mean to identify oneself as an artist? These days whenever anyone asks me what I do, I never identify myself as an artist.  It’s not like I am being secretive or lazy. I’m really glad to be asked. And it’s so rare to be asked. But being an artist is the last thing that enters my mind. It’s so very easy to forget. And if I do remember, by the time the memory appears, the conversation is long since over. And then what?

Because I only think of myself as an artist while I am in the act of making art.  Otherwise I am claiming something I am not. I am grateful for the 1% of my life I can say I am an artist. It’s a very quiet 1%. It doesn’t shout at you, so I guess that’s a good thing. Leave the shouting to others. And if they have something that truly needs to be shouted, more power to them. Although I’d prefer to be somewhere far far away from the shouting

So what/who am I if I’m not an artist? That’s the billion dollar question. In my non-artist life, I am 99% styrofoam, 1% water. Or maybe I am 99% water but my soul is 100% styrofoam. When the Buddha said, very considerately, “May all sentient beings be free from suffering. May all sentient beings enjoy happiness.” I wonder if during the Buddha’s lifetime, objects made of styrofoam were seen as sentient. Maybe there was some confusion at that time because sentient beings might be seen meditating upon styrofoam cushions and the boundaries between sentient and styrofoam were not as defined as they are today.

But I can say for sure that as a non-artist, I am not sentient. Not a living breathing organism, but filler material. There’s really not much more to explain. I have no thoughts or feelings or desires, no peaks or valleys, nothing connected to a psyche. These words I write and speak are filler material and I always feel a bit fraudulent when people construe my fillers to be thoughts.

Were I something other than styrofoam, I might feel a strong compulsion to correct the person asking, but or those of us who are devoid of feeling, compulsion is a thing that doesn’t exist. It’s a foreign object. So I guess I just allow those who ask to think what they want and then I attempt to summon something along the lines of the will  to accept that. Theres’s really not that much more I can do.

How I became sytrofoam is another story entirely. But unfortunately that would require the sentient powers of memory. So at this point in the conversation, I feel that it is important for me to remind you that I am styrofoam, not memory foam. We are completely unrelated, although we are often confused. Just to clarify, it is not those of us who are styrofoam or memory foam who are confused. Confusion requires a cognitive process foreign to us. Which is why we prefer to leave confusion to the sentient.

As a non-artist, I feel a thud in my chest instead of a heartbeat. And even louder thuds in place of thoughts. The days pass by as one thud after another until one day the thudding stops which can only mean one of two options.

  1. I am either making art.
  2. I am dying.

In option 1, I am grateful to be given another chance to be both sentient and alive. Those are days to savor.

In option 2, I get very clingy. Clinging desperately to reclaim all of those wasted moments when I was taking option 1 for granted.

This has gotten far too complicated. I simply wanted to say that I have been in a styrofoam state of non-being for so many days, I’ve lost sight of how I can be anything else. That still doesn’t really clarify things for anyone who still wonders what it is exactly that I do. But it’s really not that big an issue since most of the time most people do not even know I am here. To which I say, “Here I am!”

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G minor

I am not quite sure what happened, but my brain completely shut down at my piano lesson today. I was attempting to play Hey Jude. I am now in the 5th month of trying to learn how to play Hey Jude. Not even the melody. I’m talking about the ‘ easy piano’ version of the accompaniment. Made even easier by my teacher, Sara. I thought this might be a fun lesson since I had actually practiced. But the moment I sat down on her piano bench, that very moment, the shutdown occurred.

The keyboard looked bewildering to me, as if I had never seen it before. What were these white and black rectangles and what was I supposed to do with them? And the music, it didn’t make sense to me how 1 note could follow the other. I would play a chord and then I had no idea of how to move my hands to the other. My hands became foreign objects.

I just froze. Like it was some sort of bewildering trigonometry exercise. When in actuality, there was a f major chord, followed by a g minor chord and then a b flat chord and another f chord. I had played these chords thousands of times before, but never with the cognitive freeze I experienced at that moment.

And it was kind of humiliating. Sara was very kind. She actually blamed it on herself since she often sees this happening with her students. She said she wondered if there was something she was giving off that might be throwing her students off. And of course I said “no, it’s not you. It’s me.” I don’t think that line worked this time.

At the end of the lesson, she said that it was difficult with OUR aging brains (she included herself in this), they can’t process as quickly as they used to. And she’s at least 20 years younger than I. And of course I immediately thought, oh god, is it that obvious? That I’m aging? Is she being kind to a doddering old man? I told her that my brain has always processed information slowly. This was not anything new.

The wall I hit in my piano lesson was not all that different than the wall I hit when I was 16, completely frozen at the SAT tests, watching the clock, running out of time. Unable to read or write. And then the clock ran out.

So perhaps that is a good sign. It shows my brain is not really aging since it never really worked all that well when it was still relatively new.

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Everything feels a little off. Another job interview today and I could barely muster the energy or focus to complete my sentences. I kept getting stuck on finding the right words, but I could not filter out the right ones from the wrong ones and I just uttered these strings of words in the hopes that maybe they would form something with meaning.

It didn’t happen. So much garble in such a small window of time.

The most challenging part of a job search, besides forming coherent sentences, is the performance.

Acting as if you are interested.

Acting as if you know what you are talking about.

Acting as if you are confident.

Acting as if you have the skills required for the job.

Acting as if you have never experienced doubt or fear or anxiety of any kind. Acting as if you have never known despair.

Acting as if you belong to the team.

Acting as if you have passion, real passion, for the job.

Acting as if you have known passion at least one time in your life.

Acting as if you were not afraid of death.

I don’t think I did any of those particularly well. But I did what I could.

But all of that acting. All of that acting in ways you are not. It takes a lot out of a person.

But I know that is what it takes. To move forward. To move, period. And that’s the thing. I just have to move.

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