Sunday, February 28, 2016

A nice day for bicycling...

It would be a good day for bicycling, but there is no air in my tires.  You can take that literally or figuratively and either would be as true.  Sleep didn't come easily last night.  It didn't come at all, for the most part.  It dipped in and out, peeking its head in like a nervous suitor waiting for his date to arrive.

When my eyes did close, what little sleep came was wracked by images of strife and violence.  Past or future violence and the jury is still out on that one.  It could be either.  Everything was just ugly and desperate.

But it would be a good day for bicycling were there air in my tires.  Everything outside today, and the breeze coming through the  open window is speaking of spring.  Lots of fresh air, but none in my tires.  Otherwise it would be a good day for it.


MISS - Verb to discover or feel the absence of

I miss you today.  A day we might have bicycled somewhere.  A day we might have actually put air in our tires and bicycled somewhere.

Or a lazy day when we might move from the sofa to the bed for a lazy Sunday nap, limbs coiled like vines around each other and whisper conversations so close that we inhale and exhale from one mouth to another.  From my mouth to your mouth and back and we would breathe words into each others' mouths and smile and a soft caress or two might make the vines unwind and you open like a flower, the outer petals of your legs first and then more, and I slip my fingers into you like a bee collecting nectar and your body rises and falls, and what happens happens and the vine recoils and we drift to sleep with very little thought of Monday.

And later we would make dinner and smile sad smiles because soon it would be time to part.  Your knee would rest against mine under the dinner table and we would lean in so every possible point of contact was made.

It would be a nice day for bicycling.  Indeed it would.

It's just like this sometimes...

Witchoria

I've spoken many times of "do-over," but life isn't as simple as a game of touch football anymore.  There is no do-over.  There is no backsies.  You get what you get.

Sorry.

Of Self Part 2

This might be a placeholder, right now, for Part 2.  Interesting that I run across Yoko's wee social experiment while I'm beating about this topic, because the compare and despair sense of self-consciousness weighs heavily upon me.  Similarly, having spent a good part of my life trying to elevate myself on the broken backs of those I've torn down, because it was often every bit as much as about judgment as being judged, it's an angle than can't be ignored.  It's almost an addiction, or at least a very, very bad habit.

But again, who are we independently of those who may judge or be judged by us?

I don't know if I could make that three days.  That's scary.

Hit & Run?

Yup, it's that time of year again.  This might be a Netflix evening.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Of Self Part 1

As in "relieve me of the bondage of self..." 


  1. 1a :  conscious of one's own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself :  aware of oneself as an individualb :  intensely aware of oneself :  conscious self–conscious
 social class>; also :  produced or done with such awareness <self–conscious art>
  • 2:  uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others :  ill at ease

  • Consciousness of one's self doesn't seem like such a bad thing, does it?  That had to be the original definition, no? I have to wonder how "self-conscious" came to be synonymous with "uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observations of others," or "insecurity." At what point did it become a bad thing.

    Was it the natural progression from the awareness of our original feelings as newborns?

    I am cold.

    I am hot.

    I am hungry.

    I am tired.

    I am wet.

    I am uncomfortable in some way that I don't have words for.

    What will give me immediate relief from this bad thing I'm feeling?

    Then we run through several years of trial by error, or that is, learning by continually failing, under the watchful eyes of others.  We become aware that they are watching, and measure our progress not only by the physical pains of failing, but by their approval and disapproval. 

    We act.

    They respond accordingly, laughing, smiling, frowning, approving, disapproving, reward, reproach.  Maybe it's only natural that the origin of self-consciousness leads directly into fretting about the approval of others.  The entire process is fraught with insecurity.  We exist, therefor to please others and be rewarded. I don't think that is too cynical. 

    It almost makes the term "self-conscious" a contradiction of terms, or an oxymoron. Surely there must be more to it than consciousness of ourselves in relation to others. I would like to think that goes back to the original definition above, or "conscious of one's own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself."

    Or maybe that is self-awareness? I am not a grammarian so it is entirely possible that I am twisting this, but doesn't self-awareness arrive when we become conscious of ourselves as beings independent of our relations with others?  I am leaning well into that direction.  I know that speaking for myself, my version of self-awareness came much later in my life, and even just recently it has grown in leaps and bounds. 

    I'm moving forward with these definitions, marking a clear delineation between self-consciousness and self-awareness, despite that the dictionary definition above blurs the lines between the two.  Mine is not a philosophical first, but this is more of a personal exploration, not designed to be a groundbreaking exposition so much as a self-conscious confession.

    Ha!  See how I did that?

    I believe that we were all mostly born to grow into the definition of self-consciousness that is synonymous with insecurity among others.  Certainly some of us outgrow that sooner than others, but looking around me, and based on my own experiences, I would say that most never make a full escape.  I smell fear.  Whoo boy, I smell fear and I see my own past mirrored in the actions and faces of people around me.  

    To be continued... though I will say right here that I believe that to be relieve of the bondage of self is to have the negative self-consciousness lifted, and take a step back to self-awareness, at which point you can decide how to best lift others from the morass of self-centered fear.  


    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

    Scenes From the 2016 GOP Convention

    The whole mix of religion and politics has never really worked out all that well, has it?

    Tuesday, February 23, 2016

    Today is brought to you by the letter H

    For Hubris:




    hubris

    /ˈhjuːbrɪs/

    noun
    1.
    pride or arrogance
    2.
    (in Greek tragedy) an excess of ambition, pride, etc, ultimatelycausing the transgressor's ruin
    Derived Forms
    hubristic, hybristic, adjective
    Word Origin
    C19: from Greek
    Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
    © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
    Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
    Cite This Source
    Word Origin and History for hubris
    n.
    also hybris1884, a back-formation from hubristic or else from Greekhybris "wanton violence, insolence, outrage," originally "presumptiontoward the gods;" the first element probably PIE *ud- "up, out," but themeaning of the second is debated.

    Monday, February 22, 2016

    Holding Space

    The intertoobz is truly a treasure trove of information... I was trying to figure out what piece of this to pull for a quote, and then just add a link to the rest, but I think the entire thing deserves attention.  I wonder sometimes about well-meaning advice and guidance from people close to me, and why I often come to resent the scrutiny.  Sometimes it is just plain bad advice, or inappropriate for me personally, but sometimes it is the scrutiny itself which is withering, and leaves me feeling like a 7th grade science experiment, dissected and eviscerated, even when the advice is otherwise sound.  I will sometimes reject any counsel, simply following that feeling that it is invasive.  And I think it's safe to say that sometimes the motivations of the person in the supporting role, while not malicious, can be called to question.  Sometimes they can be simply about power and ego, or about creating a clinical, "safe" distance.  Sometimes the scrutiny and analysis aren't even necessary.  And sometimes my decision is the right one.  Anyway, the article says it best:

    http://heatherplett.com/2015/03/hold-space/

    When my mom was dying, my siblings and I gathered to be with her in her final days. None of us knew anything about supporting someone in her transition out of this life into the next, but we were pretty sure we wanted to keep her at home, so we did.
    While we supported mom, we were, in turn, supported by a gifted palliative care nurse, Ann, who came every few days to care for mom and to talk to us about what we could expect in the coming days. She taught us how to inject Mom with morphine when she became restless, she offered to do the difficult tasks (like giving Mom a bath), and she gave us only as much information as we needed about what to do with Mom’s body after her spirit had passed.
    “Take your time,” she said. “You don’t need to call the funeral home until you’re ready. Gather the people who will want to say their final farewells. Sit with your mom as long as you need to. When you’re ready, call and they will come to pick her up.”
    Ann gave us an incredible gift in those final days. Though it was an excruciating week, we knew that we were being held by someone who was only a phone call away.
    In the two years since then, I’ve often thought about Ann and the important role she played in our lives. She was much more than what can fit in the title of “palliative care nurse”. She wasfacilitator, coach, and guide. By offering gentle, nonjudgmental support and guidance, she helped us walk one of the most difficult journeys of our lives.
    The work that Ann did can be defined by a term that’s become common in some of the circles in which I work. She was holding space for us.
    What does it mean to hold space for someone else? It means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.
    Sometimes we find ourselves holding space for people while they hold space for others. In our situation, for example, Ann was holding space for us while we held space for Mom. Though I know nothing about her support system, I suspect that there are others holding space for Ann as she does this challenging and meaningful work. It’s virtually impossible to be a strong space holder unless we have others who will hold space for us. Even the strongest leaders, coaches, nurses, etc., need to know that there are some people with whom they can be vulnerable and weak without fear of being judged.
    In my own roles as teacher, facilitator, coach, mother, wife, and friend, etc., I do my best to hold space for other people in the same way that Ann modeled it for me and my siblings. It’s not always easy, because I have a very human tendency to want to fix people, give them advice, or judge them for not being further along the path than they are, but I keep trying because I know that it’s important. At the same time, there are people in my life that I trust to hold space for me.
    To truly support people in their own growth, transformation, grief, etc., we can’t do it by taking their power away (ie. trying to fix their problems), shaming them (ie. implying that they should know more than they do), or overwhelming them (ie. giving them more information than they’re ready for). We have to be prepared to step to the side so that they can make their own choices, offer them unconditional love and support, give gentle guidance when it’s needed, and make them feel safe even when they make mistakes.
    Holding space is not something that’s exclusive to facilitators, coaches, or palliative care nurses. It is something that ALL of us can do for each other – for our partners, children, friends, neighbours, and even strangers who strike up conversations as we’re riding the bus to work.
    Here are the lessons I’ve learned from Ann and others who have held space for me.
    1. Give people permission to trust their own intuition and wisdom. When we were supporting Mom in her final days, we had no experience to rely on, and yet, intuitively, we knew what was needed. We knew how to carry her shrinking body to the washroom, we knew how to sit and sing hymns to her, and we knew how to love her. We even knew when it was time to inject the medication that would help ease her pain. In a very gentle way, Ann let us know that we didn’t need to do things according to some arbitrary health care protocol – we simply needed to trust our intuition and accumulated wisdom from the many years we’d loved Mom.
    2. Give people only as much information as they can handle. Ann gave us some simple instructions and left us with a few handouts, but did not overwhelm us with far more than we could process in our tender time of grief. Too much information would have left us feeling incompetent and unworthy.
    3. Don’t take their power away. When we take decision-making power out of people’s hands, we leave them feeling useless and incompetent. There may be some times when we need to step in and make hard decisions for other people (ie. when they’re dealing with an addiction and an intervention feels like the only thing that will save them), but in almost every other case, people need the autonomy to make their own choices (even our children). Ann knew that we needed to feel empowered in making decisions on our Mom’s behalf, and so she offered support but never tried to direct or control us.
    4. Keep your own ego out of it. This is a big one. We all get caught in that trap now and then – when we begin to believe that someone else’s success is dependent on our intervention, or when we think that their failure reflects poorly on us, or when we’re convinced that whatever emotions they choose to unload on us are about us instead of them. It’s a trap I’ve occasionally found myself slipping into when I teach. I can become more concerned about my own success (Do the students like me? Do their marks reflect on my ability to teach? Etc.) than about the success of my students. But that doesn’t serve anyone – not even me. To truly support their growth, I need to keep my ego out of it and create the space where they have the opportunity to grow and learn.
    5. Make them feel safe enough to fail. When people are learning, growing, or going through grief or transition, they are bound to make some mistakes along the way. When we, as their space holders, withhold judgement and shame, we offer them the opportunity to reach inside themselves to find the courage to take risks and the resilience to keep going even when they fail. When we let them know that failure is simply a part of the journey and not the end of the world, they’ll spend less time beating themselves up for it and more time learning from their mistakes.
    6. Give guidance and help with humility and thoughtfulness. A wise space holder knows when to withhold guidance (ie. when it makes a person feel foolish and inadequate) and when to offer it gently (ie. when a person asks for it or is too lost to know what to ask for). Though Ann did not take our power or autonomy away, she did offer to come and give Mom baths and do some of the more challenging parts of caregiving. This was a relief to us, as we had no practice at it and didn’t want to place Mom in a position that might make her feel shame (ie. having her children see her naked). This is a careful dance that we all must do when we hold space for other people. Recognizing the areas in which they feel most vulnerable and incapable and offering the right kind of help without shaming them takes practice and humility.
    7. Create a container for complex emotions, fear, trauma, etc. When people feel that they are held in a deeper way than they are used to, they feel safe enough to allow complex emotions to surface that might normally remain hidden. Someone who is practiced at holding space knows that this can happen and will be prepared to hold it in a gentle, supportive, and nonjudgmental way. In The Circle Way, we talk about “holding the rim” for people. The circle becomes the space where people feel safe enough to fall apart without fearing that this will leave them permanently broken or that they will be shamed by others in the room. Someone is always there to offer strength and courage. This is not easy work, and it is work that I continue to learn about as I host increasingly more challenging conversations. We cannot do it if we are overly emotional ourselves, if we haven’t done the hard work of looking into our own shadow, or if we don’t trust the people we are holding space for. In Ann’s case, she did this by showing up with tenderness, compassion, and confidence. If she had shown up in a way that didn’t offer us assurance that she could handle difficult situations or that she was afraid of death, we wouldn’t have been able to trust her as we did.
    8. Allow them to make different decisions and to have different experiences than you would. Holding space is about respecting each person’s differences and recognizing that those differences may lead to them making choices that we would not make. Sometimes, for example, they make choices based on cultural norms that we can’t understand from within our own experience. When we hold space, we release control and we honour differences. This showed up, for example, in the way that Ann supported us in making decisions about what to do with Mom’s body after her spirit was no longer housed there. If there had been some ritual that we felt we needed to conduct before releasing her body, we were free to do that in the privacy of Mom’s home.
    Holding space is not something that we can master overnight, or that can be adequately addressed in a list of tips like the ones I’ve just given. It’s a complex practice that evolves as we practice it, and it is unique to each person and each situation.
    It is my intention to be a life-long learning in what it means to hold space for other people, so if you have experience that’s different than mine and want to add anything to this post, please add that in the comments or send me a message.

    Sunday, February 21, 2016

    Arvo Pärt - Te Deum





    Here's one to keep you between the ditches on the long Sunday night drive towards Monday morning.

    "You are a visceral internet, a living digital library."

    Digital Ghosts - Eric Steinhart



    "If the brain is digital, then it can be exactly duplicated in software. It has no shadows, only luminous structure. Kurzweil refers to this duplication as brain-uploading. Since brains inhabit bodies, your software brain needs to inhabit a software duplicate of your body. A software duplicate of your body is a digital ghost. After you die, your digital ghost lives in a software world, like a physically realistic video game. A copy of your brain is a copy of your mind. It’s exactly as intelligent as you are. It has your memories, your consciousness, your personality. All your psychology. But a digital ghost is not a disembodied mind; on the contrary, it’s a living software body.

    Some people like to argue about whether digital ghosts are really possible. Will we ever upload our brains? It might just be science fiction. I’m not interested in predicting the future. One point of digital ghosts is that human persons can be exactly copied. Another point is that life after death no longer belongs to traditional religions. If there is life after death, it’s going to be a consequence of computer science. It might not involve uploading, but it will involve digital replication."

    An awful lot to digest, let alone ruminate on (har).  Certainly, with more storage and more replication, our progeny will have a greater understanding of us than we do of any historical figures.  I guess the future of terrorism will be those who hack in and literally rewrite history... much the way only governments do now.  

    Embrace of the Serpent

    Abso-friggin-lutely!

    They look like cows but they're water buffalos...

    Strange pop song, attaboy Murray Attaway... questionable imagery, but really a perfect pop tune with that early 80s Athens, GA jangly guitar tip.


    Trail of Tears was the single that did me in though, and hooked me.  

    Ruminate


    verb (used without object)ruminated, ruminating.
    1.
    to chew the cud, as a ruminant.
    2.
    to meditate or muse; ponder.
    verb (used with object)ruminated, ruminating.
    3.
    to chew again or over and over.
    4.
    to meditate on; ponder.



    There are less literal definitions whereby that 4th usage is positioned less delicately.  They generally come down to the actual process of the 1st usage above:  Continually vomiting up half digested material stored away in one of the primary stomachs to grind it down further and further to... 

    Well, let's get back to the 4th usage.  and continually vomiting up half-digested or half-processed events and emotions from any point in the past and trying to get it, one way or another, to a point where it can pass through and we can be done with it. (How's that for a run-on?)  Where a cow stands out unbothered and belching a morning meal for snacky-time, the same can't be said for the figurative process.  The past often comes up with bile.  Humans only have one stomach, it seems, for either the digestive or cognitive processes.  If it comes up, it's not going to taste good.  It's probably going to burn.  

    It's probably going to keep you up at night.  It does me anyway.  That's why I'm sitting here tapping this shit out, drinking a 32 ounce beaker of gas station coffee to wash the taste out, trying to get to a point where I can attend to a list of Sunday-off responsibilities.  The on-going prattle on NPR concerning the passing of Harper Lee is more of a nuisance than anything, where there are times when I might listen with interest.  As it stands, you can't truly imagine how little I care.  She wrote one really incredible book and pretty much shot her wad on that, and 50 years later a mediocre one, and she lived to a ripe old age of 89.  Sounds like a fucking dream to me, though I have no idea what may or may not have kept her up at night.  Right now though I need to get some peace so I can do what I need to do today and then sleep tonight.  I need to find a solution to the cluster headaches that come thundering in at night.  I need to stop vomiting up the recent and distant past and just let it pass.  

    Have I ever let go of anything at all?  The jury is out on that.  My instinct is that I have, but figuratively speaking I've just let it all out into the back yard to play for a bit but left the back door open so all the little fuckers come back in as they please.  What actions are required to shut the door?  That's what I need to know.  This is the stuff that I thought that analysis might help, but so far, it's been a lot of unwieldy, distasteful rumination.  It's been a lot of contentious challenges to stuff I'm pretty sure I've already figured out.  It's been a reproving, arched eyebrow at techniques I've already employed successfully to get beyond some really big issues.  I might be accused of simply being defensive about that, but why shouldn't I be?  It's taken no small amount of effort to make the progress I've made.  And there has certainly been progress but apparently not enough to allow for too many peaceful nights.  I need to sort that out.  I need to make a couple very big, and immediate decisions, and I need to be prepared to live with the consequences.  

    The gas station coffee doesn't seem to have helped either so anything I do today is going to seem like a roll of the dice and crossed fingers.  I'm playing the tape through and trying to get to the point where The Crocodiles say, "Pray on it and hand it over to Him."  To where they say, "Take the next right action and let go of outcomes."

    Next right action?

    Which one is that?

    Any action, right?  

    A line from something on the radio just filtered through the white noise and into my head:

    "Where time doesn't lead inexorably into the future."  

    And there was something about outsiders just being different incarnations of the same person, traversing the same path over and over and over.  The part about time makes perfect sense to me.  I have aged but time hasn't necessarily passed.  Everything circles back to the same place and some decision that I should have made at some point somewhere back along the path.  I just need to find the time and the place and the decision.

    A crossroads maybe.  

    And I may have just found it.  I may have just had the "Aha!" moment.  Once more, all cryptic but more on this later.  

    Saturday, February 20, 2016

    Pejac - Heavy Sea

    Heavy Sea

    I'd like to say that this image would be as visually arresting to any viewer, but I feel some horrible personal identification in it.  Something maybe connected to the same feeling I got when Fitzgerald described the ashen wasteland between Little Egg and New York City, with the "eyes."  Something definitely connected to the depression I felt in months leading up to 9/11 when I rode the train and was accosted by slaughterhouse "daymares."

    I am sure this image will be there when I close my eyes to sleep later tonight.

    Friggin' Questions... why the questions?

    I can't even remember how many years ago now but it always comes back around.

    "Only two tings really matter, Bigga."

    "And they are?"  I had the arched Spock brow What was she on about now?

    "Number One."

    "Yes?"

    "Believe in something greater than yourself."

    "Like God? Not likely."

    "Call it what you want, Bigga."  She rolled her eyes and looked away, and then turned back to me.  "It can be God or any ol' ting! Just believe that YOU are not the center of the universe!"

    "Okay."

    "Number Two.  Just be kind."

    "I can do that."

    "It's not always as simple as you tink, Big Man.  It's isn't so simple.  Whole heapa tings get in the way."

    It was some time later, years maybe, doing a truly honest inventory of myself for the first time in my life, that I understood not only that she was right, but what she was getting at.  There were times, and too many times at that, that I used my pain and my hurt and my history as justification for taking liberties with common decency and kindness.  She thought better of me and was disappointed.

    It is only now, so long after the fact, that I am beginning to understand what stood in between Natalie and myself.  She thought me capable of so much more and I didn't quite believe it.  Sure, I had pipedreams and notions of every and any manner of future successes, but that wasn't what she wanted for me.  Not from me, but for me.  She wanted to see me change.  She wanted to see me happy.  Her ability to see through it all frightened me.  I wasn't ready to be that person.

    And she wanted me to be kind to myself.  Fucking hell, I'm only just learning how to do that.

    Memories can be so vivid now.  They may never arrange themselves in linear time but the clarity is astonishing.  I can remember standing out by the curb, smoking a cigarette, waiting for the car service to arrive, and rolling her words over in my monkey brain, like staring at a crystal in my hands, turning it over and over and over.  I can still feel the hot smoke hitting the back of my throat and filling my lungs.

    "Believe in something greater than yourself..."

    And, "What do you really believe in, Big Man?"

    She asked me that, and I had no definitive answer.  Everything seemed conditional or contingent upon some other circumstance.

    Stupid me.  Years later, and I am still sorting that out.

    If they could only talk...

    These watchers... the stories they might tell.  What they must have witnessed in their time at their posts, this one above the entrance to my new home...

    The man after a hard day, taking one last deep breath and looking back at the sky, maybe thinking that he doesn't actually have to go inside and face his private life... his secret life.  Maybe he could just turn around and go back out and never return.

    Conversations that just couldn't be had within earshot of whomever was sitting in the kitchen inside.

    A teen lover's blush or even a stolen kiss before heading off to face the parents for being late.  

    Idle chitchat over cigarettes.

    So many stories.  

    Full head of steam


    You know how that goes when you live in one of these old pre-wars in New York Fuckin' City and it's below freezing outside but inside it's pushing 90 and you've got your window open and you're wearing shorts, because the radiator is jumping and kicking and forcing out what-the-fuck, geo-thermal blasts into your bedroom day and night.  You never ever ever whisper a complaint though because you know there's it's one way or the other.  It's on or off.

    Well yah, my head is pretty much the same way.  It's on or off and though it makes no sense it's long past bedtime and the boiler up there is working overtime.  Eyes open.  Find something to distract myself so I don't drift off to the dark, dark places.

    Oops.

    Too late.  

    And that's insomnia.  

    Friday, February 19, 2016

    But the adventure continues...

    The result of months of hustling, and at least one act of kindness, and another favor called in, and more decisions and potential changes are afoot.  I go from very little hope to the privilege of choice overnight.  I must admit that it has me a bit off-balance.  Where usually it is a question of being backed into a corner with only one direction to move, and that one is always head on into a fight, now there are options. 

    Hmmmm....  and of course with options comes self-doubt.  It will pass, but this morning it is there. 

    I am being cryptic again, but mostly out of fear of blowing an opportunity and jeopardizing my current place in the world while I sort myself out. 

    Okay... not time to write.  This is thinking cap time.

    Thursday, February 18, 2016

    But speaking of cruelty...

    Profound cruelty in that it may be more subtle and enduring, thereby making it more insidious and more difficult to recover from...

    The world was not made for the meek or timid, nor even the gentle.  I ran into Jim last night, an old... and I hesitate here to call him a friend.  He was a neighbor with whom I was friendly, and I admired his knowledge and intelligence.  We shared sprawling sessions of drinking and literary conversations.  I always felt somewhat inferior to him in my own knowledge of books and letters, as I did with Red Francis who I've written about before.  Jim struck me as exceptionally kind and compassionate, and also deeply wounded by the cruelty and sad ironies he witnessed in the world around him... around us.  It seemed just beyond his comprehension and far outside his sense of decency. 

    Not that anyone with a shred of common sense doesn't see it that same way, but few I've met shared Jim's sorrow.  It was if he had been touched personally by every act of violence and cruelty.  And still beyond that there were further secrets fueling his sadness.  It was palpable.  You could just see it in his always watery eyes.  You could tell by the ferocious appetite for alcohol.  Not that we all didn't share that, but Jim was next level.  In his early thirties you could already see his ruptured liver and stomach bursting over his waistline.  There were spiderweb veins spread across his nose and cheeks. 

    You could tell he knew what he was running from and had no interest in facing it even if it meant going the distance and dying.  While many of us were just clueless or in denial, Jim was committing slow suicide.  It was painful to see on two levels.  Firstly you just hate to see such a kind man in such pain.  Moreover there was at least a basic level of personal identification that moved me to keep him at a safe distance.  I was, at least on a simple level, avoiding a mirror, despite that he made overtures towards a more regular friendship.

    I started avoiding him more than ten years ago, even before I decided to save my own life.  In recent years I would see him at a distance, and with no small amount of guilt, pray to gods I don't believe in that he wouldn't recognize me.  He has to be smart enough to know I've hidden from him.

    Then last night he was right in front of me.  We were face to face and there was instant recognition despite that he was incoherent and slobbering drunk.  What struck me harder than the smell of undigested beer was that the sorrow, which years back and leaked through his pores, has now come out to the surface and enveloped him in layers,  or a shell if you will.  It hangs from his tortured frame.  Jim is now just sorrow.  He never had any tools to fight it, not even rage or indignation, which did keep me upright before threatening to kill me. 

    Jim is synonymous with sorrow. 

    And I am powerless to help him unless there is something left in him that wants to live. 

    His reasons for being upright this long are ebbing away. Son grown and moved.  Wife dying.

    Jim alone. 

    And that is the cruelest blow of all.  To know what you have been running from, and no longer able to stay ahead of it, and then living and dying alone with it.

    Theater of Cruelty


    I wonder sometimes if the idea of Artaud is more appealing than anything he ever created.  I'll see if I can find an English performance of "To Have Done With The Judgment of God" but everything I've seen seems overwrought to the point of negating the entire point of Theater of Cruelty.  I'm not sure.  

    This can be a bookmark until then. 

    Wednesday, February 17, 2016

    New View

    10th Floor, 1 Metro Tech North

    Hard to get my bearings up here -- it looks like the Manhattan Bridge sits at a right angle to the Williamsburg Bridge.  The maps all seem to indicate much less than 90 degrees.  It's mostly rooftops and the upper floors of buildings you can't really see at street level.  

    The reason for being here at all... well, we'll see about that as days wear on.  

    Tuesday, February 16, 2016

    Reasons to be cheerful?

    Hey, I am giving it a shot. Some credit there, please. 

    I am making changes where needed, at least in baby steps.

    I am working on prioritizing issues.

    I have a new gig, because the previous one was not working. I didn't wait to see if through force of will I could fix it.

    I have a dope, new haircut.  Note first use ever of dope in this context. It will be the last.

    Beginnings....

    Monday, February 15, 2016

    Just because


    Simply Debbie.

    Piecing it together...

    Implying something has been shattered to pieces and that it actually needs to be reassembled, rather than just swept up and tossed into the dustbin.

    Also implying, though more of a stretch, that it should be similar to kintsukoroi, or kintsugi, bonded together with gold and hence stronger and more... beautiful?  Each piece unique, where before it may not have been. Everything pieced back together becomes one of a kind.

    So lying in bed, in the throes of insomnia and yet another bout of cluster headaches, and thinking about my long-suffering memoir (from the French for memory), and how it so fragmented and tortured (my memoir or my memory? Both?), and how it has to be pieced together.

    Memory is never exact and so it ends up being "to the best of my recollection."  Is the gold that will piece it back together the accuracy of my memory, or is it the inaccuracy and doubt that will make it unique?

    Nevermind any of this.  It is forced out from the cracks between wakefulness and the shards of sanity.  My head hurts.  Really not doing well today.

    Sunday, February 14, 2016

    Chagall


    Leaning towards masochism, certainly, it could be said, to feature The Lovers on Valentine's Day.  It is more again though, about the quality of the colors, and in particular the blue.  By no means limited to the blue, because the overall tone is almost funereal, but the blue set against the red is hard.

    You go, Marc, my pessimistic friend.  Is this a stolen kiss?  Is it a memory of a kiss as the lovers, like ghosts, have no connection to the firmament?

    Or do I read far too much into it?

    But there's this one also.





    What else is there? The Climate

    There is, of course, plenty.  There is plenty to say and plenty to talk about and the diabolical cold is of very little import really, but it's first and foremost at any rate.  It's easier to address than the tears that started before opening my eyes fully.  

    Tears for what?

    Tears for Ngeci again, to some extent, but tears for me too, and tears for poor Jane with her rotten skin and big, sad eyes.  

    Tears for invisibility, because it's all too evident that I only ever partially existed, or at least came with an expiration date.  Tears for the secrecy and being hidden out in the open. That all must seem cryptic, doesn't it?  More on that another time.  

    The first thing you feel with the cold is the cold itself, and then the skin starts to stiffen and burn.  It's funny (not haha funny, but curious) that ice and fire both burn, isn't it? The pain becomes excruciating before the nerve endings freeze/burn entirely and then there is only numb.  

    Just numb.

    At what level of emotional pain does the numbness set in?  Despite my curiosity, I'm not eager to find out for myself just how dire it can get.  

    I guess I need to stop being such a big, fat, fucking baby and get on with my day.  There is no lack of things to do to prepare for a full week.  It's not like it helps to sit and pontificate on shitty feelings either.  It's about as useful as discussions of the weather.  But before I move on:

    Goal for 2016:  This will sound fairly empty, as lofty ideals often come across, but it's time to get active and involved with something beyond navel-gazing and self-righteous indignation and angry Facebook messages. There must be a place to integrate my talents and energy into the social/political arena.  It looked for a moment there last week like it could happen sooner, rather than later.  It still may but it doesn't appear likely today.  That doesn't mean it can't happen.  Consider this an attempt to psych myself into action.  I need a new direction.  I need to rebrand myself.

    The political climate in the US in general, but even locally, is more bizarre than ever.  Antonin Scalia tipped off the cholesterol scales yesterday and died, and there are plenty of people within spitting distance who are sorry to see him go.  Donald Trump is the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination.  If ever there was a time to choose a side and actually defend it, it's now.  




    Saturday, February 13, 2016

    Pablo Picasso Never Got Called An Asshole


    That may or may not be true.  I never gave it too much thought, really, despite having heard the song countless times.  This painting, Woman Washing Her Feet, from 1944, always twisted me up and I can't quite put a finger on the reason why.  I mean, why this one, and not innumerable others.  Perhaps it's the simplicity of the action, or that it looks like she's weary from the toil of just being upright.  Is it the beginning or the end of the day?

    Or maybe it's the quality of the blue.  It's a heartbreaking blue.  It's a troubled blue.  It's a blue you feel as much as see.

    I found a small framed print of this painting a while back, lying on top of a garbage heap at the curb, ready to go.  It seemed like some kind of a sign.  Just for me.  It's not like everything doesn't seem like a sign just for me, some days, but this one was curious.  The painting  has always been a favorite.  It's in my new home now, atop a bookshelf.

    Anyhoo...


    The song always cheers me.  No, "cheer" isn't the right word.  It amuses me.

    I've been thinking an awful lot about the color blue, and different shades as they apply to moods.  It's not difficult to see why certain shades of blue, like Picasso's above, have become synonymous with melancholy, despite that there are so many happy blues.  Perhaps that for those of us not living in gloomy places we've become inured to the color of the sky when it's sunny, we can only see the depressive shades.  That's what I see first in most images.  Even Picasso's yellow here is somehow somber, the last sunlight of a day casting a long glance towards a long night maybe.  Hard to say.

    Not all my thoughts are so heady.  I've been thinking an awful lot about Ngeci too, gone for over two years now.  The last voicemail she left me somehow disappeared from my phone when I changed over last.

    "You have to get here soon if you want to seem me alive."

    I didn't get there and I will forever regret that.  I miss her and think about her every single day.  If I linger for more than a few seconds on a memory of her, the tears do come, as they are coming now.  It's rare that someone's death has wounded me so profoundly.  Of all that I've ever known of, it seems the most cruel and frankly, just plain fucking stupid.  One day maybe I'll sort out why her death, of all the other friends that have passed, came as such a hammer blow.  The world seems a lonelier place with her not in it.

    So that's it.

    Back to blue.  Picasso had a Blue Period, which incidentally was 40 years prior to Woman Washing Her Feet.  The 1944 blue, however, might be an echo of all those earlier blues. Maybe this is my Blue Period.

    Displaced

    Alternate Title:  Empires Fall

    I think I suffer from a generational sickness of spirit that manifests in a sense of displacement.  We look back on a time and a place with a sense of nostalgia so strong that it strongly resembles Aboriginal spirituality in Australia, a belief that we are inseparably linked to a "land which owns," and that all objects are living and share the same soul or spirit that we share.

    We rail on incessantly about gentrification and how our home was stolen from us, though in no way is this truly an ancestral home like the land was to the aborigines.  This is all something our forefathers clung to tightly, having mostly come here as refugees, or indentured servants, or slaves.  We created new identities for ourselves based on this pride of place, believing that we were part and parcel of the place and the landmarks and the new traditions our people forged here.

    Now in the face of inevitable changes, since we don't in any real sense own any place or time, we feel that we are being torn prematurely from our mothers and our land.  Who are we outside that place and time?  That remains to be seen, but my best guess is that we are who we have always been outside of our delusions.

    I am letting go.

    I will let go.

    This was never mine to begin with.

    On an entirely separate (or maybe not) note, I fucking love/hate lovesongs:


    But back to the point, if there was one, with no sense of place or permanency or connection, the soles of the feet get itchy.  It's happened before and the ensuing drift led to some adventures and misadventures of note.  
    The soles of my feet are not only itchy but on fire.  There are mornings of very little connection or direction, my greatest responsibilities having grown into their own, it all falls closer to the edge of What Difference Would It Make?  Funny it took me over thirty years to grasp "existentialism."  



    It all falls back into reverie and pipe dreams though.  When 30 odd years ago I took off, vowing never to return, it soon fell back into something I said earlier this morning, that every refuge and escape becomes its own little prison.  Then again, I was much younger when I took that vow and hit the pavement.  The stakes were higher, as was the potential sacrifice.  The potential rewards could have been higher too, had fear not overtaken me somewhere outside some horrid little city in Nebraska, and then coupled with dysentery and stomach parasites moving through Panama.  Who knows really where it might have ended up.

    Now it matters a lot less where it ends up.  Still...

    Just speaking aloud, reacting to feelings, which are still not facts.