Saturday, April 30, 2016

Irreconcilable Differences

All rightee then.  I'll just leave this here and let you sort out what I'm saying.

Nightmares


A person can spend the better part of his/her life fighting to squelch irrational night terrors.  Where they originate is anyone's guess.  Some cultures may claim echoes of past lives.  There are paranormalist geeks carrying on about psychic tremors from the future, or even other beings alive or dead.  My earliest recollections of jerking upright from sleep, mouth gaping and body straining in silent scream petrification were always centered on fire.  There were nights that sleep didn't come at all because I was convinced that the moment my eyes shut it was coming for me, and for the whole family.  Our very lives depended on my continued vigilance.  I prayed fervently to powers I neither understood nor truly ever believed in -- and I desperately wanted to believe there was something out there listening -- to intervene and save us from the inevitable inferno.  It was never a question of if, but always when.  It was coming and just maybe if I petitioned this mysterious being with enough conviction, there could be some salvation.  Never Judgment Day Salvation because I hadn't made that leap.  This was about here and now and living in a wooden box that mankind boobytrapped with flammable liquids.  Imagine the vanity of it all, thinking you could really harness the power of fire that came on its own time and of its own volition and fed.  It just fed.  

The fear of fire was later usurped by greater existential fears so the insomnia business was never actually solved.  Every so often though the memory returns, but not so much like a memory but as a sensation of desperation.  How genuinely faithful did I have to be to stave off disaster.  What were the odds that a god that never believed in me, if it existed at all, would hear me from where I hid under the covers in a rubber band ball of fright?

There were two somewhat close calls over the course of the last thirty some-odd years.  There was the house in Hempstead that torched less than two weeks after I moved into the rented room there.  I was leaving for work at dawn at the same time the guy across the hall was coming in drunk from his own bachelor party.  He sat down in bed, lit a cigarette and promptly fell asleep.  When I came home that night the upstairs was blackened, and all my worldly possessions fairly spoiled.  I salvaged some clothes and a sleeping bag and slept on a friend's floor that night.  The next day I took a pocketful of vouchers that a social worker from Victiim's Aid gave me and went to the Salvation Army to get clothes.  I ended up with bags of very 70s style cast-offs, anything I could find that actually fit, and walked around for the next few months looking like an extra from a Blaxploitation movie.  I was too indignant and caught up in the unfairness of the whole thing to have any sense of gratitude that I hadn't gone up with my stuff.  I was too stoned to make the connection that I had survived my greatest childhood fear.  

There was another fire about 25 years later in the house on 17th Street in Brooklyn, or rather in the house next door.  A squadron of ruddy-faced firemen had still trooped up my stairs to tear holes in the ceiling to make sure the flames hadn't "migrated" through the cock loft.  Black smoke poured through the gashes in the gypsum board and the house smelled of it until we renovated a month later, and a little beyond.  Again, I was so intoxicated with anger that no connections were made.  I was two for two on the survival game.  

It wasn't until earlier today (yesterday now) when I saw this house around the corner, that things started to fall in line.  I woke up a few days ago and having left the windows open all night the apartment smelled of fire.  House fires have a certain smell, of burnt tar paper and vinyl siding and mattresses.  My initial jolt was that someone in the building left something on the stove, or maybe there had been a gas leak.  My heart started to beat insanely and I looked around at what possessions remain of my Christmas Day purge.  Do I go to work or wait for... and the original fear echoed from way back when.  This is what used to keep me up at night before the other ghosts showed up.  This was the beginning of it all, or what I remember as the beginning.  My first irrational fear... 

The woman across the street from this fire told me, "Everybody get out, Inshallah. God is good."  

Still something about fire...  

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Hell, I just like the photo.

Kind of a luxury, I guess.  Problem is, once you've seen or heard some things, it's hard to unsee or unhear them, or maybe my fingers are no longer big enough to plug the holes in the side of my head.  Still, it's nice to think about, ya know?  Tuning stuff out for a spell.  

Ask not for whom the bell tolls.  It tolls for thine inner bonobo.  

And you can't shut out the voices in your head.  Not forever.  

Odd Bird...



Odd year.

Odd election.

Odd frontrunner...

I don't know what to make of it and I am running out of energy to feel passionately about it, beyond the common sense of not wanting to see any of the Republican candidates get into the White House.  I almost said Republican extremists but that's almost redundant with the way their party has been usurped by right wing hardliners.  Donald Trump can't really be considered an extremist, despite extreme views on pretty much everything.  I can't even call them views either since I don't really think he believes in anything beyond a good deal.  They aren't views so much as extreme statements.

Hillary... was never fond of her, nor her husband, yet here we are.

This might be the extent of my commentary on the elections this year.  It's going to be hard to cast a "lesser of two evils" vote yet again in 2016.  It looked for a moment that we may have moved beyond that but that white light has faded quickly.

This is the first year that this early on I've turned on the TV, looked at the candidates and said, "oh man, fuck this."

The above is not a cheap shot, by the way.  I've just never seen so much blatant pandering from people with so little substance.

Pissin' In The Wind...


This one is for me and for you and for all of us just trying to get by, but especially for those who are trying to actually make a difference.  It could be working in Human Services, or trying to create art, or music or whatever... For everyone trying to leave the smallest carbon footprint or emotional footprint on the world.  

For everyone trying to step it up a notch and live a mindful life.

Sometimes it feels like this.

Hang tough.  

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Uh... yah. About that


This shit has gotten all too real and probably exacerbated by late night visits to WebMD, reading out symptoms of this and that, and sweating solutions and medications.  This is not sustainable on any level.  

Last night's sweatbox topic:  The non un-true realization that I've become "that guy," also known as the red-headed stepchild.  

Redundant.  

Cryptic?  Yes.  More on this another time.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Want Not, by Jonathan Miles

I picked this up a couple years ago and it said on the "next" stack since, trading places every so often with the next in line.  Maybe I just wasn't meant to read it until now, when I'm already grinding gears on my personal inventory of accumulated material, emotional and spiritual baggage.  That's what Want Not comes down to, albeit with a lot more humor than I could muster for my own situation.

What do we carry with us as we move forward, until we carry too much to move at all?  What anchors us in place?  What becomes the concrete galoshes that drag us to the bottom?  This book is an examination of all that, from several concurrent viewpoints.  If you can't find any identification in any of them, or you don't have a single "aha!" moment, then you're probably mired in denial and should maybe read true crime or something.

And then there's the matter of what we leave behind.  I've always thought of the warning Waste Not, Want Not in a pretty direct sense as a warning.  Be mindful and you will always have plenty.  Now I'm thinking of it with the components transposed, Want Not, Waste Not.  The solution is right there.  Waste Not Want Not is an admonition.  Want Not Waste Not is the solution.

Messages from...



From wherever or whenever... I liked this one this morning, on the a movie poster down in the Fort Hamilton Parkway station.  You might, at first glance, write it off as puerile obscenity, but it's too targeted and specific.  Here is your gun, right in your hand.  We've got your number.

There were messages I awoke to.  The first was a message from the technological realm, The Matrix if you will, my mobile phone reminding me that I was a lazy fatass yesterday and missed my fitness goals.  Get off your spotty ass and move, you old cunt!  Or something like that.  That was right after the alarm clock delivered its very similar message.  Time to move.  Time to go.  No time to sit and analyze what happened in that dream.  It was the amputation dream again and I have my ideas about that anyway and I'm not really sure I want to find the time to think about them.  Life is short.  Can't I safely sit in denial for a little while longer while I busy myself with...

While I busy myself with a bestiary of physical ailments, like the wolf gnawing away on the tendons below my left shoulder blade, ad gnawing at the joint itself.  Like the fireants nipping their way up and down my arm, down to my fingers that have been on fire for days. Or the alien creatures tearing their paths from my kidneys to my lower groin. Grant me the serenity, or a non-narcotic painkiller, or some shit.  Grant me something and spare the wisdom if the wisdom requires thought.

But I digress. 

I think physical pain is digital and emotional pain is analog.  Seriously.  Think about it.  Not the way I think about it at 4am, but consider it.

Another digression.

This ordinary madness.

I haven't written the last word on pain.  It's ridiculous really.  My pain is almost negligible weighed against the shit I witness daily.   There is nothing extraordinary about it at all except that it's mine.  I hate to carry on about it incessantly but I would like to get to the point where I don't feel guilty having it.  It might be nice.  What is guilt anyway, unless you've caused harm? 

I've less guilt over the physical pain so it's funny how I can more easily put it aside in favor of the emotional and psychic discomforts. That says something about the very nature of the latter sort, doesn't it?  It's a different relationship I have with it, even as both are largely the result of my own action and inaction.  My acceptance of the physical pain comes more easily.  The other??? Whoa, woe is me.

More later...

Walkabout


I'm a big fan of photographer, Fritz Goro, but this photo especially fills me with... something.  Something good, certainly.  Funny my love of photography is a byproduct of a lifetime of insomnia.  You can get a lot done, at least at first, when you effectively double the length of your waking hours.

 "But it is the subjects, the conversations, the facts we shy away from, which claim us in the form of writer's block, as mere rhetoric, as hysteria, insomnia, and constriction of the throat."
Author: Adrienne Rich

The constriction of the throat, or waking up on the unconscious visitation of that which we shy away from when it comes uninvited to choke us in our sleep...

There are times it's not something terrible, but something terribly possible.  Still hung up on the notion that there are not chains binding me here.  It could be anywhere now.  



Monday, April 25, 2016

It struck me just now...



At once startling and terrifying but liberating, there is no longer anything anchoring me here.  I can up and disappear anywhere.

Holy shit!

Chronic



I awoke today feeling as if I slept all night on the cold, hard ground.  The irony is that I barely slept at all, but for short, ragged stretches here and there.  Flashes of dream fabric would drop like a curtain and then rent open by vicious slashes of pain through the lower mids and back up.  Then eyes wide open and heart churning, prayers to your gods and hers and his just please I will do anything and sacrifice everything and kiss your vapory holy ghost ass if you let me have two hours uninterrupted yes I will I will I will I will I will!  And I mean anything.

My left side is seized up cold hard ground stiff this morning.  There is a pain radiating out from my neck out across my left shoulder blade and down my arm, pins and needles in the pinkie to the palm and wrist.  Shooting pain from pectoral to bicep to the tip of the thumb.

Neuropathy.

I am broken.

Kidney stones are threatening to turn my pecker into a bb rifle.  

Black mold mycotoxins.

Maybe some undiagnosed shit.  I don't know. Mondays have never been a bowl of cherries, but today I just want to roll up and die.

The old cowboy the other day said he just wanted to be in love one last time.  Just to have one last big one before he rides out into the sunset. I don't know about all that.  Maybe I take that shit for granted.  At the same time the way I feel today I could pay a hooker to lie down behind me and just hold me while I drift in and out.  Lie to me and tell me everything is cool. Pathetic, right?  Whatever.  Lie to me.  Whatever.  This shit hurts.  I feel like I've been beat the fuck down and tossed in a well. 

Dear Mattie... Fuck this.  

Sunday, April 24, 2016

View

From down here on Earth

Saturday, April 23, 2016

5th Avenue @ 19th Street Brooklyn

Cowboys



I'm still collecting my thoughts on this one but thought perhaps to write them down so the feelings aren't lost. I went to a meeting this morning where a 72 year old man sat up front and spoke for 20 minutes or so on fear of growing older faster than he could manage.  He spoke about the uncertainty of his time left and about how that corresponded to things he still wanted to accomplish. It wasn't about feats of economic prosperity so much as it was about making sense of everyone he had loved and lost and how he could fix things with those still living, one among them his eldest daughter.  He spoke of the women he loved and how he lost them, to bad decisions, or time, or cancer.  He spoke of finding a sense of usefulness for the time he had left.  He spoke of his fear of not being able to care for himself, and all the other unknowns ahead between this morning and that last breath.

It was humbling really, because although that's really what every other mindful person, or everybody striving to achieve mindfulness is trying to do, but the longer you're around it really does become a question of mathematics, and of subtraction and of probability. Any of us could go at any minute but when you get to 72 the odds are higher that today or tomorrow could be the day.  People have described me, at different points in my life of being fearless.  That was never the case.  I have been incredibly reckless, but that's nothing close to fearless.  Reckless is more of a case of taking everything you've got left for granted, or just not giving a damn about it.  That was where my head was at, when at any point someone called me fearless.  I was stupid with fear, but carried on the way I did because I grew weary of being fearful about where I was going with my life and what I was doing or how I was failing.  In a metaphorical sense I was ripping band-aids with no regard whatsoever for the amount of hair that came off with them.  

It made me feel like kind of a prick, because the old Cowboy is really deep in it, and closer to it than in all probability I am.  He whines a lot less though, and that only reinforces the realization that I talk too damn much.  

That's it for now, but I can say with certainty that I am grateful for the Cowboy and grateful that I was up in time today to hear him speak.  You don't get a lot of chances in life to hear another man speak openly and with rigorous honesty about his fear.  We don't do that enough.  We're all out there playing lone gunfighter and being tough guys. It's a lot to maintain, and the stress we put on ourselves doing that must contribute to an early demise.  

I'm afraid too, of running out of time before I've had the chance to make some things right.   I don't want to be a cowboy anymore.  I want to be a father, and a friend and a brother, and essentially, a better person than what I've striven to be.  I want to be real.  I don't really care who remembers me, or if I'm remembered at all.  I just don't want to be remembered for hurting people.  

Love Letters


"I won’t hide it: I’m so unused to being — well, understood, perhaps, — so unused to it, that in the very first minutes of our meeting I thought: this is a joke… But then… And there are things that are hard to talk about — you’ll rub off their marvelous pollen at the touch of a word… You are lovely…"

"Yes, I need you, my fairy-tale. Because you are the only person I can talk with about the shade of a cloud, about the song of a thought — and about how, when I went out to work today and looked a tall sunflower in the face, it smiled at me with all of its seeds."

And you only need know that feeling once.  It can be absolutely unsettling to the point of dread fear.  Once I have been "seen" like this, I am tied to my own truth.  There is no going back to self-delusion.  You run with it and it is liberating, no more reason to hide.  The truth came out and with it no lightning and thunder.  No damnation or condemnation.  If you are ready to be untethered from your ego, it is like seeing natural sunlight for the first time.  It is by no means without fear though.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Ft. Hamilton & East 2nd Brooklyn


Juan Carlos Pinto

Mobile





Could've kept the cigarette
Could've always had a handgun
Could've been Terminator
Could've had a lot of fun

It's the legal drugs that wear most down
They say what's done is done
Parabolic louver lighting
Really got have some

First things first
Gotta know the brake, the accelerator
Save the jokes and save your soul
You're gonna need them later

Another day to face up
Another day to wake up
On the feed kill chain
Another day to face up
Another day to wake up
On the feed kill chain


Off hand mouth mind
Watch out, don't let your guard down
Been through the mill and now
It just goes round and round

Bells and whistles left and right
Goodbye to the altered turning
Don't want to get caught up
Just knowingly burning

First things first
Gotta know the brake, the accelerator
Save the jokes and save your soul
You're gonna need them later

Another day to face up
Another day to wake up
On the feed kill chain
Another day to face up
Another day to wake up
On the feed kill chain


This song always recalls coast to coast wandering, on and off the Interstates.  It sounds itself, like the big rigs winding down off the ramps and headed out onto the open highway, downshifting and then grinding forward. There's a sense of wide-openness and freedom but then I have to ask myself, freedom from what? Sooner or later you have to come to a stop wherever you find yourself, and just sit still for a spell. There's only so far the highways go.  At some point westward you hit the Pacific and then you either plant right there or turn around and head back East where at some point you come back on the Atlantic side. What happens then?  

There are a lot of places to get coffee and a bite to eat in the morning but lately it always seems to be the gas station on the corner of McDonald and Caton.  I'm not going to even ask myself again why the coffee smells like an old bodega tabby.  It's the Robust Blend, "a bolder, stronger blend," guaranteed to boost your morning.  Guaranteed by whom?  Still, it is a memory, or a shadow of those trips back and forth with no destination and no place to come back to, and no reason to stay on either side or anywhere in the middle, except that to stay moving just doesn't seem sustainable.  Not if you have any desire for that normalcy thing that we call the American Dream.  Some kind of stability and children and a place to keep the stuff that tends to accumulate even when you've been moving constantly like a shark.  I'm not even sure how much I ever wanted any of that but it comes down to how much, doesn't it?  I must've wanted it or I wouldn't be sitting here with it, would I?  

How much?  

That remains to be seen, but here I am with a grown family, albeit spread out across the city a bit while I have the books and the music and the box of photos up in the closet to prove that I've done it.  The gas station though reminds me of the truck stops and the strangers nodding quiet, polite good mornings, in acknowledgement perhaps that we're not ghosts flitting along with the breezes.  The coffee is dire, but it keeps its promise.  The brown men behind the counter are almost too familiar now but for as much as I get to know them they could be the same men that I saw in Pennsylvania, or Oklahoma or California.  Gas station coffee and the pre-heated egg sandwiches tastes the same everywhere you go.  I'd be lying though if I said I didn't have any desire to be back out there moving.  There doesn't seem any real reason to stay put except that it's as good a place as any and I've got no money/freedom to head out with no destination.  It didn't really require money thirty years ago, did it?  Why now?  I can't answer that at the moment.  

Where would I go if I had the opportunity?  It might be time to try a new continent, but would there be country music and Robust Blend there?  I know there are big rigs because I've got a cousin that drives one across Europe for a living.  I'm certain they sound the same all over the world, the same diesel roar and gearbox grinding.  The same downshift on the off ramps, and what more does it really take?  That's just enough familiarity to anchor me on alien terrain.   

Don't get me wrong.  It's not a question of being unhappy here.  Not really.  I won't say I'm happy either but it's not one or the other.  There is something in between and that's what it is.  Not really tedious.  Not purgatory.  It's really more like an itch.  A body gets restless and it really does seem like there should be more than... well... than sitting around waiting until movement is impossible, and drinking cat-pissy coffee and riding big silver bullets underground from one end of the city to the other, or even walking.  Maybe it's rose-colored glasses because I know in my head that life wasn't all rosy out there on the tarmac, but I can't think of a time in my life that I felt more unencumbered... relieve of the burden of self and comfortable being less self-defined and more... open?  There is something liberating in the Earth moving beneath your feet, and being someplace where nobody knows your name.  I was never a Cheers sort anyway and always moved on when people got too familiar and too into my business, whatever my business happened to be.  I didn't always really know.  Now I do, but don't care so much either way who else does.  I just want to move.  

I woke up today with an itch beyond the Phantom Limb.  It's something deep inside.  

Aliens?

Raptured?

I get an Amber Alert on my phone when a child goes missing.  It's a Silver Alert when the old folks disappear.  What do you call it when an entire family steps to the curb to catch the bus and they all go at once?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Lost in fog and love and faithless fear...










Hey citrus, hey liquor
I love it when you touch each other
Hey whiskey, hey ginger
I come to you with rigid fingers

I see Judas in the hard eyes of the boys working the corners
I feel Jesus in the clumsiness of young and awkward lovers

Hey barroom, hey tavern
I find hope in all the souls you gather
Hey citrus, hey liquor
I love it when we come together

I feel Jesus in the clumsiness of young and awkward lovers
I feel Judas in the long odds of the rackets on the corners
I feel Jesus in the tenderness of honest, nervous lovers
I feel Judas in the pistols and the pagers that come with all the powders

Lost in fog and love and faithless fear
I've had kisses that make Judas seem sincere
Lost in fog and love and faithless fear
I've had kisses that make Judas seem sincere

Lost in fog and love and faithless fear
I've had kisses that make Judas seem sincere
Lost in fog and love and faithless fear
I've had kisses that make Judas seem sincere




I don't know. It feels most days like I am walking through someone else's life. Or rather, that I am someone else walking through life in possession of all MacGregor's belongings and many, but not all of his memories. It probably makes no sense. Something is moving.

Maybe it's like David Bowie said, that growing old is becoming the person you were always supposed to be, and that makes plenty of sense. You spend your life in costume get-up thinking that you get to decide who you are, or at least how the world sees you, and you think they're both the same. I'm coming to believe that's wrong on both counts. That you are who you are, and people see you how they see you, and whether they're right or wrong about how they define you, you only have a certain amount of input. People read your text how they want to read it, and fill shit in how they want to see it. Either way, you aren't necessarily the one calling the shots.

Then one day you wake up and look in the mirror and there is someone there that you don't exactly recognize, and it's probably the truth, but the truth is still alien, so it takes some getting used to. Maybe I'm right at that stage where I'm looking in the mirror and this guy is staring back. The truth is staring back. It's not really a question of liking or disliking it but it's not really what I expected when I walked in and switched on the light. Nothing is out of order, really. It's just different.

I don't know why I chose the song above to accompany the monologue dujour. It was more a feel than a correlation with the lyrics. Or maybe not. The song feels more like a memory than something some indie rock guy conjured without my input.

The photo... I like the way the full moon is suspended between the streetlights, like it's part of a string of ornamental bulbs. I like the way the red lights look like a parental chaperone for the red tail lights of the car. I like the twilight blue, the way it appears in so many paintings from Picasso's Blue Period, and in that I understand suddenly why I am drawn to that period of his work. It's the twilight quality, even though it was hardly the twilight of his career.

The photo of me... there is a permanent crease in my brow now, that started with an 11 and now is 111 on a good day. There is loose flesh at my neck where there is less fat and muscle than there used to be. It seems to be where age shows the deepest when a smile or a grimace doesn't draw crow's feet below my temples. Being 54 isn't so bad at all really if you don't think about the limited amount of time left. That bit is a little easier when your rock star heroes don't up and die like Prince died today. Someone wrote me a brief and bereft e-mail saying that his death is an affirmation that not only is she an adult, but that the larger portion of her life and its inherent possibilities were behind her. My first instinct was to say something... a denial... a lie, basically. I'm not good at lying. Not even to myself anymore. It makes no sense to contest the truth with pollyanna bullshit. A person's 50s isn't generally considered the twilight years, but it actually could be. Prince only made 57 and it looks like some strain of influenza took him out. Young people in developed nations don't usually die of the flu, but older people do.

Whatever. You get what you get. But maybe that's why I'm drawn to Picasso's Blue Period, because there are so many muted twilights there. Are we prescient? Are we drawn to these things because deep in our DNA there is a memory of the end of things?

Waxing philosophical.

Waxing (or waning) bullshit.

Going back to a thought from a few days ago, about what happens to all our digital memories, and photos and rants and "stuff" when we die, I've been thinking about what this is I've been leaving behind here. It's still undefined, and will probably stay that way, but I can say with some certainty that it is a rambling bullshit chronicle of my journey to the surface. It is a diary of growing older and becoming the person the person I was always meant to be.

It's still unfamiliar territory.

Selah

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sunset Prospect Park


It was nice to get home while there was still sun, and nicer still to watch the sun sink (somewhat too quickly) from a vantage point out in the fresh air.  Somewhere with some semblance of nature, albeit manicured nature.  It's been a while.  I'm usually getting on the train at dusk, and it's been dark before I resurface at Ft. Hamilton Parkway.  

Yet, still something off.  Can there be not enough people around and yet still too many at the same time?  Is that a thing?  Does it make sense? That's the way it plays out in my head, anyway.  That phantom limb isn't itching tonight.  There's a sharp, hacking pain somewhere between the elbow and wrist.  Strange that it's devoid of mental and emotional anguish though.  There is discomfort for sure, but there is a feeling of... not quite acceptance but resignation.  

I can do pain.  

I can certainly do pain.  

What do sunsets symbolize or signify with people that they seem to resonate with everybody?  Is it just the color?  Is it just ooooh-aaaaah pretty?  Is that all it's about?  

What do they mean to me that I can't help but stop, wherever I am, to watch it from that initial touch, singing the horizon, like a lit cigarette hits the arm of a sofa, until half the sky is ablaze, to total darkness?  Maybe I'll figure that out first.  

In the meantime, the Climate.  

Simply searing pain for days now, falling in and out of pockets of debilitating headache.  Something isn't right there.  

That's all.  

Sunrise Sunset

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

April comes like an idiot..

Edna St. Vincent Millay

There is nothing at all to add to this.  Certainly I will have extra words later, because I'm never in short supply, but for now, what else is there?  Anything else would be not only redundant but less than.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Time spent





In its early stages, insomnia is almost an oasis in which those who have to think or suffer darkly take refuge. ~ Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

There was a time when there seemed more than enough hours in the day.  There were days so long it seemed reasonable to plead to whomever one believed in, or lost sleep trying to believe in as the case may be, for fewer hours just to get days done with.

Then there came days when there never seemed enough, and insomnia was welcome.  It was like when the waitress at a restaurant forgets to add something to the tab.  All of a sudden there was time to tend to all the thoughts and pastimes that you dare not take a few moments to think during the day for fear of being derailed.  

Now... 

Now... 


Well beyond the early stages... this is simply unsustainable.

Even so it's just gone 9 and the dog has already been for a long stroll and the laundry is in the machine.  There are few people yet up and about so the world is quieter.  This reminds me that there are a few upsides to sleeplessness.  People do like to talk and even when it's not directed at me it can be abrasive. It hits me some days like a grater hits the skin of a carrot.  The irony is that if I had slept more... but I haven't and that's how it feels.  I can't be dismissive of my feelings when the rest of the world around me is so ready to scoff.

My great big, fat, fucking feelings...

I ran yesterday for the first time in as long as I can remember.  It wasn't a steady run, but one block running and then one walking and then another running.  It wasn't intentional but it happened.  There was no deadline to meet and no reason but walking wasn't moving me as fast as I needed to be moving.  I wasn't late for anything.  The walking just wasn't doing the trick.  Each sprinted block became easier than the one prior. My lower back and hips loosened.  My hamstrings stretched and lengthened and my stride lengthened with that. My body opened up and accepted the pace.  Deeper pockets of my lungs started pulling in cool air.  My shoulders relaxed.  My feet started landing heel to toe and heel to toe after the initial flat-footed pavement clobbering and bouncing off the forefoot.  There was a familiarity.  There was a lifetime during which I ran almost daily.  The muscles in my legs were longer and bandier.  I was an elastic man and could snap to decent speeds with little warm-up.  So I settled into the muscle memory as much as my older and somewhat senile muscles might allow, and I ran.  It feels like a dream today, except that I know I didn't sleep and there are sore spots today that yesterday were dormant, forgotten spots.  

Will this be a new thing?  I don't know for sure but right now as I sit and watch my clothes sloshing in soapy water, I feel like running.  What is the compulsion to run?  Maybe it doesn't need to be analyzed and diagnosed.  Maybe I just take it for what it is and try not to hurt myself.

The Climate today:  still blue/gray and overcast.  Still lonely. Still feeling like Major Thom out orbiting and fully aware that I am stuck here and nobody is coming for me.  Planet Earth is blue and there is nothing I can do... 

Say you wanna a revolution...


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Pancakes


Floating down the hall today, not really awake and not really asleep.  Somewhere in between but who's going to define that?  There are probably words.  I don't have them.  I'm upright.  I'm not quite awake and not quite asleep.  I'm floating down the hall on the aromas of someone else's breakfast.  There is fresh coffee and there is the buttery pancake thing.  It's definitely butter and pancakes on a griddle somewhere.  Someone somewhere here is getting their Saturday morning on.  It's triggering something like a deep muscle ache, a memory of pancake Saturdays, probably at the house on 17th Street when the boys were still small.  It's a dull, achy recollection and they're in sweatshirts and pajama pants at the table, hair all haystacky and linty, eyes crusty and drool stains like children and old people coming to the table.

I'm in the kitchen, probably hung over, at least a little, stomach contracting watching a fresh pat of butter bubbling up in the skillet, readying for the next round.  The domestic Saturday morning dad thing did very little for me personally but the boys liked it and that made me... content?  Not really happy, but I liked seeing them happy.  There was a sense of purpose in it.  I'm not a complete shit as long as I'm making them happy.  Kyle is grinning a mouthful of tiny baby teeth and exhorting me to make pancake people and I will do that for sure.  Evan is arranging and rearranging his plate and silverware, and the salt and pepper shakers and the napkin holder and the bottle of Mrs. Butterworth.  Everything will be in the proper place when the first stack hits the table.  I will go through the motions if it makes them happy.  They didn't ask to be here so I'm going to do my best when there is the energy to do so to make sure that their time here is positive.  I owe it to them, and I hate owing but I hate the debt stacking up so I will put in the time.  I'm not proud that there is no joy in it for me.  I am ashamed, really, but I'm not going to add to the shame by slacking off.

I promise to never ever ever intimate to them that they owe me a damn thing for any of the work I put in, no matter how much I would rather be back on the sofa sleeping off... sleeping off what?

Life?

It's not nostalgia this morning.  That much is clear, when nothing else is clear.  Everything is dull.  Even the smell of pancakes and butter in the pan is a dull smell.  It could be comforting.  I can see that.  I'm wondering if there is a dad standing over the pan and if he's really enjoying himself, or if he's going through the motions and thinking of something he'd rather be doing, or a woman he'd rather be fucking, or a life he'd rather be leading.  Lamenting decisions not tended to, or choices not made.  Secretly resenting, just a little, the children sitting waiting for breakfast or the wife still under the rumpled sheets in a somewhat farty smelling bedroom.

No, it's not a nostalgia morning.  I'm drinking gas station coffee, and the smell of pancakes is now in my apartment.  It's everywhere, even in the warm-up jacket I wore out to walk the dog.  It's following me, and I'm thinking about my list of chores for the day, and what I'd rather be doing and with whom I'd rather be doing it.  I'm thinking of places I'd rather wake up, and a different landscape outside the window that I'd rather be seeing.

I'm thinking of pancakes because how could I think of anything else.  I haven't had pancakes in the longest time, and frankly never really cared for them to begin with.

C'est la vie.

Selah.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Bout Dat Life




Arshile Gorky


Something in the blue, maybe... it recalls something that I can't quite place, a moment in time, or maybe something so familiar that I've taken it for granted and filed it under the "too familiar to bother naming."  (that could apply to most of the physical world and you don't recognize it until you sense its absence, and even then...)  Something in the blue, though.  Something in the blue.  

I don't know anything about abstract expressionism.  Maybe it's all about allegorical references to the too familiar and the dissonance created by the undefined objects or spaces.  That's how it impacts me.  Something triggers my brain and I find myself trying to redraw the quasi-familiar to fit an encyclopedic reference point.  At the same time the rest is ticking away trying to refrain the whole against my visual reference points.

Dunno.  Not sure.  No expert here.

Poseur


I wonder sometimes now, somewhat later in life, when doubt and self-doubt certainly come into play more frequently, about the number of times I've spoken with such conviction on any number of topics.  It could be anything from politics to pop music or anything in between and they've all been addressed with the same gravity.  In that light, given that everything was given equal weight and argued with the same intensity, that it was never about right or wrong so much as it was about me being right.  No tactics were withheld either.  It was always no-holds-barred, from attacks on intellect to questions of character and morals.

When did it become so important to be right about everything?

At the same time, having recently witnessed two friends questioning their own qualifications to be called in as experts, one on a panel discussion and the other a media event, I felt a sting.  What exactly is it that would disqualify me?  Perhaps it is that I spent so much time claiming expertise on any given topic that I never became an expert on anything.

So... not so much in the interest of being called as an expert, but more toward the goal of learning something:

1)  Practice not talking.
2)  When it becomes possible to not talk for five minutes, practice listening to other people talking.

Reading back quickly now, it's clear that this is really rather a throwaway, but we'll leave it up anyway as a mile marker on the path to self-awareness (hopefully).

Label this one:  Ego, Self-Esteem, Random Bullshit.

Maybe the takeaway would be something about choosing battles, and not spending your whole life arguing shit that doesn't matter.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Happy Belated Birthday (a little), Samuel Beckett

"You're on Earth.  There's no cure for that." ~ Samuel Beckett

I'd like to think he wasn't entirely serious, but I'm not sure.  Happy Birthday anyway, Sam, you miserable prick.  2016 is a weird one and while I don't really know how you would rank it among your strangest years, but I'd imagine you would have no shortage of opinions.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Souvenirs






I used to shop a lot in pawn shops and thrift stores, mostly buying old records and books.  Sometimes there would be an inscription on the album sleeve or the inside pages and you could tell you were buying what had once been a gift.  They were often the remains of old friendships and love affairs and past lives.  Sometimes I'd even come upon a box full of old photo albums and I would browse through peoples' childhoods and family lives, graduation pictures and vacation snapshots.

Former Souvenirs... would make a great band name, wouldn't it?

What happens now with so much store in the cloud?  100 years from now, will Google and Apple open digital thrift stores and sell off the pixellated remains of peoples' lives?  What happens to all the images and sound bytes?  Who gets what goes unclaimed?

Do the proceeds go to charity?

Hard to imagine that all this stuff just sits out there in bits and bytes forever, or until the power goes out, or however stuff lives on.  I think I have held on to more by accident, more evidence of who I am or who I have pretended to be, than even my recent ancestors labored to preserve on purpose.  Most of it is entirely fictional too.

How long will it live on?  What will happen to my blog?

Coming to.


























The ascent to wakefulness was interesting.  That's the thing though, and not to paraphrase Fight Club, that with insomnia you are never fully asleep and never fully awake.  You can sometimes, if it's still dark, lower yourself into the well and shut down as many vital processes as possible to achieve some form of critical stop.  It's close to sleep, but not quite, but it doesn't necessarily mean close to awake.  It can be quite the opposite, and that was the case with the ascent this morning.  It involved a quick detour through at least five stages of grief and the acceptance stage seems to have gone into abort mode, because there were tears.

Were tears?

Are tears.

There were tears of rage, tears of sorrow, tears of frustration, of madness, of this, of that and of everything but joy, and a lot of grief.

Grief.

It might help, to combat grief, to write a gratitude list. It's worked in the past. It might work again. At the same time, as you can't believe in Heaven without believing in Hell, in God without believing in Satan, etc.,  You can't have gratitude and ignore the presence of grief.  It's patently dishonest to not pay it any mind or pretend it isn't there.  Wallow?  No.

No wait.

Wallow?  What does that mean?  There are still some issues gone unreconciled, and at some point...

And that's a long-winded way of saying that waking to tears is not a good way to start the day, but if they're present when you lie down at night, they will certainly be present when you wake up.

The grief must be reconciled eventually.  It has been a long process of unpacking and certainly burying it all winter was no help.  There was no time though.  There was just no time.  It was just about moving forward and carrying on.  This morning is a rough one though.  My grief list could, and probably should start with a shooting pain, not just an itch today, in the phantom limb.  It could be (read: is) for the alarm clock itself and mourning the end of another too-short night.  There are other items of note as well.  Finding a home for Sweet Jane.  Health, which is less than tenuous or fragile.

Health.  There are some gory details, but why bother.  The headaches themselves are debilitating.  There are digestion issues.  Infections... an inexplicable rash.

But I digress, when it's time for egress.  This is not the time to go down this rabbit hole.

It is never untimely though, to think about sustainability.

For now, time to move...

There was no time even for hitting the knees today, nor any compulsion on my part.  There were plenty of people communing with Jehovah outside. There was a woman on the train, small and from somewhere else entirely, and you can define somewhere else how you may... shouting about what's promised people like me on the other side. There was a pack of Witnesses witnessing at 125th Street but they seem to have already given up on the small dreadlocked boy being horse-collared and manhandled by 4 cops in a corner near them.  Maybe there are just too many to save to fux wit every sad kid.  This kid reminded me of Kyle, in a way.  Tall and wiry and outraged.

-- What did I do? 

He kept shouting at them.

-- What did I do?

They weren't answering at all.  What did he do?  Was it all that bad?  With all the chaos surrounding the corner of 125th and Lexington, how had it come down to him? 

Bad luck?

God's will?

We've been through this before, haven't we?  Luck and God don't seem to come into play some days. Neither were exactly playing out for this one skinny kid this morning.

And if Jesus wants me for his sunbeam he hasn't exactly come out and said it.

Whatever.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Fortune Cookie Flows

Shop Here, Boyeeeee!

If I told you that I had never once played the numbers found along the bottom of the slips of paper in fortune cookies, it would be an outright lie. Certainly I have, without ever truly expecting a positive outcome.  It came down to a willingness to go to any length and try anything to reverse my fortune.  Similarly I have gotten on my knees, at times several times a day, reaching and hoping against all hope that there really are forces at play in The Universe.  I want there to be a god or gods and I want them to see me too.  

I have been willing.  As recently as this morning I have been willing. It's been said though that if you pray selfishly it will never happen for you.  How does one pray otherwise?  

Truth be told, I've never believed fully in a god or gods, nor fate fortune, nor pre-destiny.  Mostly I believe in mathematics.  I believe in laws of probability.  Vast tangles of questions if x does this and y does that and z drives in fast from the west while a and b... etc.

I was never good at math.  

I don't really believe in good or bad luck beyond the definition of happenstance. A body can be in the right place at the right time, or the opposite.  I will still take chances though and leave the door open, even as I believe that one superstition is as good or bad as any other.  Even writing this letter comes with a degree of superstitious fear.  

Just trying to be honest.

Luck.

Bad luck.

Fortune.

Wu Tang Forever.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Climate

Maybe the election year hoopla has everyone distracted.  It can't just be me, can it?  I can't be the only one that's noticing the number of rainy days.  The last six months have been unusually wet, haven't they?
There was an article in the science section of The Independent the other day that said the melting of the ice caps had redistributed the weight of the Earth and we ate tilting on our axis.   I've joked about that, or half joked really, for years, that this is what accounts for shifts in weather.  That and the shift of fossil fuels from beneath the surface.  How can you redistribute weight and get the same spin?  Look at the difference between a raw egg and one that has been hard boiled.

But anyway, maybe people are distracted.  Everyone is worried about the sky falling when the ground is crumbling beneath their feet. 

Polvo.

Dust.

That's what is in store, at any rate.

I can't lie and say I have no fear, and it may or may not be more selfish and self-centered.  For right this moment though it's all about getting through this day.  It's another bloody rainy day with little to no sleep to fortify, a stomach that feels suspiciously like withdrawal, shooting pains in my head and up my right flank, and a sick case of the shits.  Happy fucking Monday.  Just have to make the end of the day.  The hardest part is getting up and out and I pinned that, if not quite with a ten-point dismount.  Just get through.  A beaker of gas station coffee might have helped but it might have been rejected or ejected and it's too late now anyway.
Just get to the end of the day.

The sky is smudged shades of ash gray and old bruise gray.  There is a transfer point for the latter that corresponds to the pain in my head.  The back though...

There are bolts of pain between me and coherent thought right now... so... so...

I was up at 1am reading about parents of children that had become radicalized.  About the moral dilemma there.  About the pain.  The conflict between filial love and doing the right thing.  What the fuck I guess that happens less in the West, or maybe the consequence are just less dire.  You can never imagine your own kid doing something horrible.  When I was fighting with Kyle I remember how an image of his face as a baby became superimposed over his furious adult face.  Had that not come up involuntarily his adult face could be radically difficult than it is today. Maybe this happens with all parents and that's why we can't see when they're about to go really off.  I don't know.

Thinking about successes and failures in parenting though is the last rabbit hole you want to veer down at 1am.  You generally don't pull out for a few hours, and well...

But maybe a placeholder now.  The pain is excruciating.  Time to work.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Unknown Legend?

oxy... oxy... oxy...

Notes On Insomnia:   “Legend says that when you can't sleep at night it's because you're awake in someone else's dream”  ~ Unknown Legend

It was looking good, but then the dream, or a maybe a series of dreams but only a single memorable dream. In the airport headed for an escalator with former President, Bill Clinton walking a few paces ahead.  

-- Would you mind taking a photo with me, Mr. Clinton?

-- That would be my pleasure.

And there we are on the escalator trying to figure out how to use my phone to take a selfie, but couldn't get it.  We're backing up traffic but it's Bill Fucking Clinton so who is going to say anything?  Except the girl directly behind us who is annoyed and suggests that men our age should just try a regular camera instead of trying with a phone.  Next thing we're going through the same process with an iPad.  It still fucks up and all we end up with is reflections from the airport lights around us, and our faces are obscured, and Bubba is annoyed at having wasted all the time.

There are so many things wrong with this dream.

I wonder if Bill is now dreaming about me.



Saturday, April 09, 2016

Shiny, by Daniel Cloud Campos

Shiny from Daniel Cloud Campos on Vimeo.

WASPS


Apparently when they're not buzzing around stinging the fuck out of the unaware and destroying picnics they enjoy papier-mache.  Who knew?

Thursday, April 07, 2016

There is no easy way down...


What was it Dusty Springfield said?


Or like Nurse Natalie said to me once, so long ago, when I was in the throes of one of those poor me jags:

Puss n dawg nuh ha di seeyum luck.  


This happened once upon a time, when things were not, so complex...


Love and good pop songs are pretty much the same.  They happen once upon a time and they don't have to be so complex.

Dissonance

And that can go in any context...

American Psycho:  the Musical

I still believe American Psycho to be the single most overrated novel of my generation. It devolved into pointlessness before the end of the first chapter.  Beyond that it was just splatter porn.  Yet people rave and coo.  I suspect Bret Easton Ellis is even just bright enough to know he got over.  Book sales, a movie, and now a friggin' Broadway musical.  Color me flabbergasted.   Read the news, you twats.  Violence isn't funny. Add some misogyny in there and...

Part of the bigger picture though.  We've all been had. 

Duped.

Cheated.

Hornswoggled. 

What?  Don't ask me about that one. The detritus of having Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam as a babysitter.  But as I was saying,  we've all been screwed over in a cosmic game of three card monte and we spend our days running back and forth to jobs that are killing us for pay that can't support us for a dream that was never designed to sustain us.  Then we clamor for gore but will never take a good look at real war, and end up broke on payday.  Halle fucking lu jah.  Halle fucking Berry! 

The new Fulton Street Station is engineered to move people faster between platforms so they can get to work earlier, presumably.  It's a lot cleaner for now, and that's nice.  Watching the flow of people however is somehow unsettling.  I was about to write disturbing but it stops just shy of that.  A word will come but for now we can settle on "I'll at ease."  Something is off. An utter lack of joy maybe and it's not just me. 

Not that something isn't with me.  That's the point with all of this.  What has been seen cannot be unseen, and once you've seen with your own eyes that all this is bullshit, that it's phony like a film set and even the fronts of the buildings have fuck all behind them but ropes, pulleys and scrap lumber, where do you go from there?  I just have no energy left to reassimilate with the dreamscape.  

The Lie-Scape.


Juvenile, by Jovan Todorovic


JUVENILE from Jovan on Vimeo.

There but for the grace of any number of entities I think about from time to time but not often enough.  There but for the grace of white privilege, that American thing, and it is mostly American because it disappears into class when absolutely everyone is white.

There but for dumb luck.

There but for other peoples' fear of being exposed.  You keep my secret and I'll keep yours.

Blah... any of these kids could be me.  Or you.

So, yes I'll have another one. I'll have another one.


And I am better than you'll ever be... so get used it it.

It's one thing to think in words.  Some do it better than others.  Some can barely manage.  It's quite another though to think in sounds, but that's really what music is all about, isn't it?