Monday, November 30, 2015
I might take more selfies than I ever took good hard looks in the mirror. I never really counted. I do both now and that is relatively new. The result is the same, though. I look and a middle-aged person looks back at me. What else might I expect?
Perhaps a middle-aged boy and that isn't self-flagellation. It is merely an observation of the parallels with my youth. The lessons always have to come the hard way, and repeatedly for the message to stick. No different than raising my sons, I have to be told the same thing over and over. I will run headfirst into walls before I try to go over, under or around.
The further lesson might be that like dealing with a child, a greater amount of patience is required. I might be more gentle with myself, despite that the 11th Hour is always upon me. My alarm needs to be set earlier so that there is ample time to do things right.
And the other bit of my own advice I should heed is simple.
Ask for help. This is bigger than you.
One last, bigger than the lot:
The only wrong action is no action at all. It's like that some days.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Sat on their park bench
A newspaper blown through the grass
Falls on the round toes
On the high shoes
Of the old friends
The old men
Lost in their overcoats
Waiting for the sunset
The sounds of the city
Sifting through trees
Settle like dust
On the shoulders
Of the old friends
Can you imagine us
Years from today
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange
To be seventy
Memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fear...
And I wonder how long it has been since this pair has enjoyed the comfort of a real bed.
Sat on the garbage
Apologies to Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.
I am not above the low road but this isn't a cheap shot. These two (on the mattress) are usually out on the benches on Ocean Parkway. Or lying on the cold cement floor of the train station. Or dicks out pissing here or there in front of Sunday families, mortified parents and children in their Sunday clothes. They're not very nice men but maybe they gave up on niceness at some point. Maybe they never had a kind word or good deed in them to begin with? Hard to say. What's to be nice about anymore? That's not my call.
I do wonder what they talk about all day with nothing else to do but breathe and shit and piss or yell at the odd passer-by.
I fear sometimes that I am closer to them than I care to think so much about. Perhaps I should add these bastards to my supplications to the Elephant-headed God. Or whatever God I am praying my foxhole prayers to on whatever given day.
It's raining and the mattresses here are probably soaked through. The dynamic duo here? Maybe in the train station over by 18th Avenue which with the water that collects on the floor is only a step above a mattress on a sidewalk. I am still inside for now with my belongings and my fears, but for the grace of forces I don't understand. The forces may or may not have elephant heads or it might be just blind luck.
The jury is still out on that.
Friday, November 27, 2015
This train goes to Sunset Park. It looks like I'm headed in that direction too. It could be strange to be in a new neighborhood after more than 23 years. It could be long overdue also. That remains to be seen.
Patience for today. Maybe tomorrow too. Not sure where any of this is going yet.
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
And so we beat on, boats against the current...
F. Scott, you have always been there for me.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Vice: Nick Zinner's 1001 Images from Naked Faces on Vimeo.
Photography seems almost a miracle, really. I think of the countless images lost in time, before the technology came about. Zillions of moments that ceased to exist as soon as they happened, whether or not someone was there to witness them, because memory itself is so ephemeral. Even then the person there to see it may not even think to notice. It may not even occur to them. A photographer becomes almost a magician, raising a split second from the dead. Then he can spin this zombie reflection to perform it's own story. He can play with the context of a simple snapshot and weave historical yarns or even lies. Fables or newsworthy events, the point is that he or she is almost God-like, resurrecting otherwise lost bits of lives. It all comes back to the world through the lens. In that respect it may just be the most important invention in human history. It brings us as close as we will ever get to immortality. Not to overplay the importance of one shooter here, because he is one of many, but he created this thing - this body of work, or historical document. Everything only happens once, no matter how redundant our days may seem.
Of course everyone now has a camera and there are more images than ever. More moments are captured and I don't know that it devalues the idea. Quite the opposite the proliferation seems to have fulfilled a universal longing. Ray Davies wrote, "People take pictures of each other, just to prove that they really exist." Indeed even the selfie seems to shout, "I AM HERE!" It is beyond vanity. It may actually be necessity.
Because it might be interesting to look back a year from now and compare. Really? Yah, I will go for that for now.
It feels like the carpet was pulled out from under me and that my whole life went pear-shaped all at once. It is one thing to know in my head that much of it is of my own doing, but the feelings are another story altogether.
What are the feelings? I am:
Angry. Furious really but there is no place to put that right now so it melts to profound sadness.
Lonely. There, I said it.
Tired. Sleep is still fraught with visitors. Ghosts. Devils. There are the usual suspects and then a few celebrity cameos. None of them mean well. They don't bring gifts. They bring bludgeons and sharp stick. They sneak up from behind and make horrible noises. Sleep is scarce.
Not a good time.
So we shall see what a year brings.
This morning I am merely angry, and suffering from an emotional hangover, of sorts, all headachy, queasy and green. Yesterday, simply put, sucked. It was the sort of day you don't want to repeat too often. A Camus or worse yet Sartre kind of living hell. I had arrived at the court early, hopeful it would end soon, and fearful of the outcome. Powerlessness has never sat well with me and I felt very small and very vulnerable. I watched the slackfaced judge shuffle lazily through case folders one after another. I've never seen anyone look more bored with his job. When he spoke it looked like his face might slide right off his skull and drip onto the lectern.
Martinez vs JCM Realty
Lockwood vs. 767 Monroe Holding
Kazinski vs. Blackstone
Shut off that phone please.
My guts started to sour early in the day. I don't, as I said, do well with powerlessness. Fear isn't my friend. I clenched through the morning, further fearful that my name would be called while I was otherwise occupied on the commode. It burned and lifted in waves and turned over in audible groans. The woman sharing the bench openly glared at me in disgust. When the court was adjourned for lunch I went looking for the men's room but all the toilets were filled to the brim. The last occupant of one must have been standing on the seat. Same for two floors below.
I was fermenting.
The mood went south with the physical condition. By the time I was called to the judge's clerk I was well beyond my use-by date and unfit for human consumption. My bullshit meter had redlined and something strange happened. A state of giving no fucks descended and I figured why not go for broke?
I found my balls.
This translated to me countering the petition with the most obnoxious demand I could conjure. It wasn't so much strategy, not at first, as raising the ante and watching tempers curl out like sunspots. Why the fuck not? It was something I might have done in a bar to provoke either fight or flight. More than once it had gotten me beat the fuck up (which for some twisted reason I always found preferable to waiting and wondering if I was about to get beat up, if that makes any sense at all.) every so often though it would put my opponent off-balance and the result would lean towards my favor.
That is what happened yesterday. Shit is still a mess but I bought time. I am only short of money and time so I can scratch one off the list. Okay, then...
But still no toilet and feeling worse than ever, and now all this rage that I've worked so hard to distance myself from. It scares me. I don't really know what to do with it. I pushed onto the train at Jay Street to head off to therapy, and maybe evacuate at least the emotional waste. By the time I got off the train at Union Square, things down low were on terror alert. Something wicked this way comes and all that. I pushed like a mental patient up the escalator to the third floor bathroom at Barnes & Noble praying it would be in usable condition. When you do outside sales in New York you make it a point to learn all these "safe havens" so to speak. B&N can be hit or miss.
This time it was good. I cut a line and locked myself into the handi-capped stall, depositing my coat and bag onto the oh-so-convenient baby-changing station before settling down to... Well... You know. Tragedy narrowly averted.
But things still weren't okay. I discovered, to my horror, having unleashed all the terror I had fermented all day, that the toilet wasn't going to flush. I was filled suddenly, through every corner I had only just cleared, with a sense of childlike humiliation. There were people waiting just beyond the steel door. I could see their shuffling feet. One of them, I am fairly certain, had a child to be changed. And so there, headed into an adrenaline crash, another old feeling emerged. It must have been hiding behind the broad shoulders of the twins, Anger and Rage.
Welcome fucking home.
The nastiness floating behind me as I made me quick exit, by the time I reached street level, had become a metaphor, magically thinking, for how I am known in this world. For everything vile in me that certainly is right there for everyone to see. All very melodramatic yes, but that is where my head leads me. One of the places. Less than two hours earlier I was the biggest, baddest motherfucker in Brooklyn,
And this is why I am in therapy.
Monday, November 23, 2015
Saturday, November 21, 2015
I can't say why this strikes me as the saddest thing in the world right now. Little kid rain boots, new from the store and the rubbery smell signals outdoor adventure. Maybe an afternoon splashing through puddles or sledding in the park. I would like to think that everything doesn't end up at the curb awaiting one final journey to a rotten end of a rotten line. Part of a trash heap.
But then again, this is the shoe, not the child. Not the child. Why do I need to be reminded? Why does my brain always turn southward?
Just talking to myself really.
Friday, November 20, 2015
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Monday, November 16, 2015
1 a : the act of reprieving (see 1reprieve): the state of being reprieved
1 b : a formal temporary suspension of the execution of a sentence especially of death
2 : an order or warrant for a temporary suspension of the execution of a sentence
All of the above work for me. That is, they all apply. There was a footnote that added, "a period of relief from pain or trouble," and that is okay but may not accurately describe the depth and finality of the circumstances.
Sunday, November 15, 2015
What more is there to say but having a really bad hair day and kind of a hot mess? The present is very fluid so the image reflects that. Nothing has gelled yet except the hair and again, that"s not looking so good.
Things are in motion and there is a lot of fear and uncertainty. Once again I find myself, partly through the age-old pattern of trying to assert my will against powers greater than myself, on unsteady ground. Once more I learn the hard way that you get life on life's terms and never in your own timeframe.
Uncertainty = fear.
This is all, of course, as vague as the details in the photo. It boils down to being under-employed and in need of a place to live, and in a very short period of time. I will move as quickly as I can and things will shake out how they will.
I will accept the outcome and move from there.
You get what you get and the result is not always corresponding to the effort you put in, but you do the work anyway, simply because it is right.
Saturday, November 14, 2015
This is Major Thom to Ground Control. I'm feeling very....
And as memory goes I've lost the words there too. That's the way it goes. Clarity is rice paper thin and fragile, Memory is like the line of filament from the spider. It doesn't take much at all, and the spider falls. Today I am the spider. There are tales to spin but not while I am scrambling down here on the floor running from the boot.
The plan was to talk about The Abortion. Touchy subject for sure, even after thirty years and I hadn't quite figured out how I would explain the psychic damage it inflicted upon me without coming off as an anti-choice parable. The real answer is that it didn't inflict damage, or any new damage so much as it plucked at the ends of nerves that were already bloody raw and close to snapping anyway. I was already hanging by a thread in the first place.
The spider, you know?
I was ready to write though, but the window slammed shut. Life intervened and priorities shifted and took a hard left turn. Now I am back on the floor running to get out from under the boot. The clarity is gone and what remains are the feelings the sudden signal evoked. Stuffed down rather than managed years ago they have resurfaced as if brand new. They aren't connected to anything tangible anymore so they adhere themselves to unrelated events and issues. They are more than a nuisance. They are psychic bedbugs.
And then there is Paris... Over 125 dead this morning after a series of terror attacks. The violence is spreading. It is nearing. We are like farmers downwind watching a prairie fire. Barring a miracle it is coming and it will probably take the crops, the livestock and the house.
So what do my memories matter? A memoir in the face of the fire seems the ultimate act of vanity, even if the memories can be coaxed out of their burrows.
They are no longer cooperating anyway.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Monday, November 09, 2015
Saturday, November 07, 2015
L’assommoir (1877) – Emile Zola – via @AmateurReader
various books of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald (especially The Sun Also Rises and Tender is the Night) – via @olivia8k
‘A Drunk Man Looks at a Thistle’ (poem) (1926) – Hugh MacDiarmid – via @issekinicho
Appointment in Samarra (1934) – John O’Hara
The Thin Man (1934) – Dashiell Hammett – via @levistahl
The Lost Weekend (1944) – Charles Jackson – via @noctambulate
Under the Volcano (1947) – Malcom Lowry
The Drinker (1950) – Hans Fallada – via @jb_lett
Wake in Fright (1961) – Kenneth Cook
A Fan’s Notes (1968) – Frederick Exley – via @olivia8k
Post Office (1971) – Charles Bukowski – via @olivia8k
Moscow to the End of the Line (1973) – Venedikt Erofeev – via @theuntranslated
Disturbing the Peace (1975) – Richard Yates – via @jb_lett
Ironweed (1983) – William Kennedy – via @noctambulate
Jernigan (1991) – David Gates
List via www.bibliomanic.com
I have read all the Hemingway and Fitzgerald which are saturated with booze. Same for Ironweed, and for A Fan's Notes, which my friend Andre describes as "a classic in the pantheon of white, middle-aged male burnout literature." It is also my favorite book, which may or may not be telling. I leave that to you, but I can say that it is the last book that made be sob and choke on tears. The first, by the way, was Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, which put to words for me, for the first time, my own sense of just how fucked up and hopeless and tragic this world can be sometimes.
I was 12. Things weren't going so well. I discovered drinking shortly thereafter. It took the edge off a bit, for a spell.
But more on that stuff later. Regarding the list...
Friday, November 06, 2015
What was threatening to be an atomic migraine turned somewhat less radioactive on the overnight but early between the sheets turned into sittin up wide awake at 4 am. It's a trade-off with payment due later this afternoon. I sat for a while scouring employment ads and barely holding in the scream that's been camped out in my throat since...
Walking the dog by 5:30 and the dark is oddly comforting. I am not afraid of the dark. I am terrified of a list of things but the dark isn't one of them. I used to be but it has been supplanted by real world concerns. The dark... the night time... it is a friend now mostly. I like the pre-dawn time. I like the quiet and the near-emptiness. Only one other lost soul out and about this morning.
It is a little early in the season but there he was. Not preceded by Jacob Marley but that would be almost redundant at this end of my life. I have a legion of Jacob Marleys in my life, all the guys who flamed out and skittered off this mortal coil in dire pain and misery. So why not The Ghost of Christmas Past with no warm-up act?
He was reeling wasted from stoop to curb up the opposite side of the street. Slack jawed and rubber legged waking himself up every so often. Spooked by a signpost jumping out at him and playfully bumping his shoulder. A skirmish with a potted plant. Stub the toe. Stumble. Weave on determined now that having won the battle with the tree he can face anything else that jumps out of the darkness now. But still visibly afraid that something worse may jump out before the sidewalk rises up to meet his chin. Get home soon. Make it home. Just make it home. Alone doesn't feel so alone there. Not quite.
And that was me.
That was then this is now.
I am okay for now.
Let's see what the next ghost has for me. Not so sure I want to look so closely at The Present.
Thursday, November 05, 2015
This is cute enough and sure clever enough but it got me to thinking. Humans are simple beasts, not all that more complicated than the family dog. We spend an inordinate amount of time sweating the answers to questions that were just rhetorical to begin with.
I can't claim to having anything in particular to say. Consider it like when you see your kid sitting in his room amongst his toys having a conversation with himself. It's not about anything at all. It's as if he needs a reminder of his existence. It's a shout-out to himself.
I'm still here.
Maybe more days than I care to admit are like that. Talking to myself just for the sake of it. My mother used to say that I just like to hear the sound of my own voice, but that was an accusation. I often felt like she didn't want to hear me. That it was a reminder of my existence. That she could be off doing something else if not for me. At least thinking her own grand thoughts about saving the world or some shit like that.
Whatever. This isn't about her. Or maybe it is after all Mr. Freud. Maybe the urge to write down my thoughts after all these years and tears is still an act of defiance. Nobody can tell you to shut up because they can't hear themselves think. Unless of course you publish and then feelings get hurt, honestly or dishonestly, and people are all over your shit to shut up.
I don't worry about that so much anymore. The stupid, blind loyalty to keeping the secrets is still there but not enough to shut me up. This is my life and my story. You were there so you know. Deny what you will. You are not my problem.
So there is that much. There is always something to say. What I just wrote seems more of an affirmation or a promise to myself. I will tell my story.
I will not shut up.
Not this time and never again.
It brings to mind The Nutty Professor. She wrote what I thought was a brilliant memoir but it never published in its original form. Damn shame too because it was powerful. Her people were all dead though so there was nobody to protect. I still got the impression she held back but it was out of love and respect. Not fear of retribution.
I don't know why I still fear retribution but I do. What could happen that is worse than what already did? How could anything feel worse? Yet I have never been good with conflict and confrontation. I tend to go for the throat. I use unnecessary force. It has never been my intention to stray into bullying and brutality but it happens. It happens because I have repressed and denied the anger that feeds it that it all festered and distilled into high octane rage.
I don't want rage. I want the truth. I want to drain out the boil and heal once and for all. That is all I want. No pound of flesh. Just peace.
So this bit today is sort of a verbal selfie. Part expression of the state of my condition and part mission statement. Do I look determined? Or do I look as frightened as these words seem to me as I read them back?
Whatever. Two steady feet now. A long day ahead.
Wednesday, November 04, 2015
This will not be the first time you've seen me say that happiness is overrated and it probably won't be the last. Maybe this isn't quite fair coming from the guy that only last night admitted to being unfamiliar with feeling happy. Life isn't fair though. Perhaps this requires explanation but maybe it is sufficient to say that life isn't fair and that the pursuit of making it fair is more important than the pursuit of personal happiness or satisfaction. Even stopping far shy of depraved hedonism and greed there is a point where a person has to put aside happiness and take care of business.
That said, very little can be made of being continually unhappy. I am not chasing happiness but rather trying to lighten my load and it's been hard to find a starting point.
The first part is overcoming the guilt of being unhappy and admitting to it. It seems to me that I... we... are expected to float about in a state of perpetual and blissful gratitude that things are not worse. We are supposed to thank the stars and any number of gods and prophets that we are not 'that guy.' I'm going to call bullshit on that. I just might be that guy because that is certainly how I feel, and the guilt if feeling that way isn't making it any better. There are things I am grateful for but they do not outweigh that for which I am not.
Secondly, there is this societal bug that says we are supposed to man up and get over ourselves and our past and so on. I am going to cry foul on that too. Get over my foot straight up your ass. How about that?
Still, these things have been drilled into me for so long that my sense of manhood and adulthood is warped from the shame of still crying about long ago events. It is so twisted that I've more than a suspicion that it is the source of what is ailing me now. There are inextricable links to anxiety, depression, and a continued process of self-defeating behavior and self- sabotage. I want to be done with all if it and put it behind me. I want to be free of the big fear.
I want to be clean.
If happy comes with that, even better. Right now it feels that I have been subconsciously rejecting happiness through behaviors or lack of actions that would be in my best interest. Nobody has a bad luck streak that lasts this long so it must be time to change my relationship with my mirror and actually look deeper than the surface. This is bigger than my choice of hair product.
I want to be free.
Tuesday, November 03, 2015
Especially when it's for me.
And it will pass. Everything does, for better or for worse. I know it will also. It is not knowing the outcome that hurts. But everything does pass. Will it get better? Not always. I am slowly learning though that you have to know how to get better or to make it better. I must have been out sick and missed that lesson.
And maybe that is why I am in therapy in the first place. I have been trying to figure out exactly why I am going. What are the goals? What am I there to address? There doesn't seem to be anything specific, unless you take into consideration that being perpetually unhappy for no particular reason is reason enough. I never learned how to be happy though. Removing pain and discomfort, yes.
But that isn't the same as happy.
Am I even capable? Let me know what it feels like and I will tell you if I feel it.
So yah, this is life. You're going to take some punches, and they're coming in hard and heavy these days, and in combos. Apologies for the continued, gratuitous boxing metaphors. They seem hackneyed and tired, but what else is there? Where do you go with this?
The therapist stopped me last night in mid-rant and reminded me that this is all temporary. I thought for a minute she was quoting George Harrison.
All things must pass.
All things must pass away...
I was feeling more beware of darkness but it was charming somehow nonetheless. Every so often I forget she is my analyst and she is just a beautiful woman sitting there talking. Like a date. Just for a couple seconds here and there. It's funny. It's not like a date though because twice a week I am with her and talking about all the shit I would generally hide from a date. Not generally. Always. This is not date stuff. This is normal bitches run away stuff.
I pay this one to listen. How many people would volunteer for shit about rage, paranoia, grief, fear and sexual abuse? Maybe an off few but not too many. Not that I haven't heard some wild shit from relative strangers but I rarely exhume my own bodies. They may float up to the surface when I am not mindful but I don't usually let them up. Sadly that is why most people in my life, at the end of very long relationships, remain relative strangers. That stuff isn't really sustainable so eventually there is continental drift.
And so I ramble. The train is pulling out of Union Square. I will be at work soon. Out in the ring taking punches and slinging back shitty metaphors. It's what I have at the moment. Like a Palestinian kid throwing a stone at a tank... there you go. No more boxing.