Thursday, May 26, 2016

Coincidence? Yah, maybe.

The first two e-mails I read this morning, each entirely unconnected to the other, concerned the talent and dedication it requires to fall UP a flight of stairs.  Or in other words, to turn negatives into positives.  Why not run with the superstition?  Everyone needs something to believe in.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Quotable

"The psyche is much smarter than consciousness allows.  We bury things so deep we no longer remember there was anything to bury. Our bodies remember. Our neurotic states remember. But we don't. - Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal

Digging, digging, digging.  Always digging. - MSR

Double Double Yellow & Other Blurred Lines


Last night's insomnia question, "What happens when you tell someone you may go a long way away for a long, long time and they tell you what a great idea it is?"

I'm laughing, kind of.  The response is rather a confirmation that "yah dude, your life is really proper fucked here so if I were you I would jet."

It's funny, kind of, but of course the line between "that's positive forward movement and productive thinking," and "get the fuck out of here while you can still stand up" happens to be blurred on a day where one has been blessed with sleep.  On a day when one has not, the previous night, had much time to recharge, life can be wobbly.

The fact remains though that it was presented as a serious thought and not a dare, so it's all good.  The moments of insecurity came in the context of little quakes of fear, or aftershocks.  The came framed in an earlier realization that there is no longer anything tying me in place, so options are wide open.  It's at once terrifying and liberating.  There is very little more unsettling than the prospect of change, whether the change be small or large.

7 percent of the volunteers in the Peace Corps are over 50 so it's not an unreasonable notion, and at this point in my life it's a consideration born of possibility and not flight.

Absence of a reason to run or a reason to stay put is an interesting place to be.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Breathe deep the gathering gloom...

Please Bleed


Never said thank you
Never said please
Never gave reason to believe
So as it stands
I remain on my knees
Good lovers make great enemies

Binders Full of Women

What are famous phrases coined by Mitt Romney, Alex?

Remember Mitt Romney?  What a cunt.  I sort of miss him now.  There's nothing funny anymore about Donald Trump.

Binders Full of Women.

That's going to be my band name.

There's no place like home...

A Tale of Two or Three (or Four) Cities


I've been thinking a lot lately, what with articles on social change, gentrification and economic disparity, about what creates the character, or zeitgeist if you will, of a city.  I've not had the experience of any other city as I've lived New York, so it's a good place to start.

I believe we can move beyond the surface here, and cataclysmic events or singularities like 9/11.  I say this not to dismiss the trauma of the day and ensuing years, but because I believe that the more profound changes have been through a sort of tubercular decline into vast economic disparitiest.  While the city has maintained what is truly a wonderful racial and ethnic diversity, we are economically more monochromatic.  There are extreme rich, and there are poor.  Take it for what you will, but that's how it's played out.  It's black and white in every sense of the term too and that really cannot be denied.

In the early 90s I moved into an apartment on 10th Street in Brooklyn.  It was a crooked, old building with slanted floors where my children's toys rolled independently from one end to the other.  There were mice in the non-working fireplace, roaches in the kitchen, squirrels in the ceiling and a crabby, bearded painter living downstairs.  It featured several things though that were signifiers to me, of having arrived after many years into the world of New York City.  It had an exposed brick wall, marble details (if cracked) and most importantly, a vaulting, sweeping panorama of downtown Brooklyn and the Manhattan skyline.  It was a view I'd seen a million times on television and coffee table books.  This was where I was going to set up shop and finally write that book that would further inject and infect my platonic conception of myself into the fabric and skyline of my adopted home.  How that all played out is another story altogether.

It's easy enough to say that the sudden, tragic disappearance of the Twin Towers marked a tipping point for the personality of the city, but that's not at all fair.  The city was already changing.  New York, despite the reduction in crime and the overall health of the stock market, had already been chipped away at my the big mining companies disguised as real estate developers.  Entire city blocks had been demolished by the score, replaced by big box stores, malls, luxury coops and condos, and the warehousing of the working class in outer boroughs increasingly plagued by staggering rents had begun.  Art was disappearing.  Music was disappearing.  Street life was vanishing.  The cultural collisions that had always marked the growth of movements in the city were smothered slowly.  There were pushes back here and there, but there has been no recovery for what had been the personality, or the heart and soul of the city.  Even the green spaces that had previously existed for the "everyone" became more exclusive.  Think if you will, of hot dog vendors being replaced by Shake Shack and WichCraft.  A meal for one person in the park now costs what it used to take to snack out a family.

This is not a treatise on gentrification either, though that certainly plays a role.  It's more a comment on how a colorful tapestry went beige in the blistering light of economic change.  My experience now, in New York City, isn't immersion into culture, so much as it has become an immersion into self-reflection and self-identification.  I am no longer able to be part of something, so much as I am forced to define myself singularly.  This is not necessarily all bad, but living here has become a a process of alienation and no small amount of isolation.  True that I spent too long defining myself through external factors, but to abuse John Donne, no man is an island unto himself.  There are "tribes" left, but they leave little room for individual variables.  There are an awful lot of rules.  They are exclusive.  There are rules.  There are basic tenets.  They often require the entry fee of a six figure income or a trust fund.  You wear this.  You read this.  You listen to this.  You shop here.  You vote a certain way.  Your children do this or they do that, and you talk about them all the time as if when you shut up, they ceased to exist, along with your identity as a good parent.

We often don't know our neighbors.  Our children don't play with the kids on the block.  We bank online.  We don't know the tellers at the local branch or see our neighbors there.  We shop for groceries online and they are delivered by an anonymous man or woman.   I never had any family here other than my adopted family and friends, but families generally don't live together or even close.  Our connection to other cultures has become curated through museums and academies.

It seems to me that many of us have become like turtles that climb up on rocks in a pond to sun ourselves for a while before going back below.

We have become beige.  We are unpainted canvases, not particularly different than canvases lining walls in other cities across North America.  There is much less here that defines us as New Yorkers.  We could be Los Angeles with fewer licensed drivers, or Philly without cheesesteak, but no, we have "Authentic Philly Cheesesteak," and trust me, it now tastes the same in both cities thanks to the growth and domination of chains.

We are beige.

I have lost my pride of place as anything I ever sought to define myself by has... deteriorated.  What does being a New Yorker or anything else really mean?

I am me.  I am fortunate that I've done the work and reached an age where I need less identification through externals, but I do remain nostalgic for a time when it took less work to be me.  I am truer to myself, but it requires an awful lot of effort.

A semi-final note:  I've always had a cautious relationship with nostalgia as it is really the flip-side of the Regret Coin.  Perhaps I was hoping for an evolution instead of the opposite.

The same sun that makes flowers grow...

Monday, May 23, 2016

Shock me shitless.

Gloria E. Anzaldua
I Want To Be Shocked Shitless

I’m afraid, I told them,
that you will open no gates for me,
that neither one of you will floor me.

I fear that the hooks
in your words will not grip me
that I will vanish
into that inner terrain
where none follow.

I fear you will bore me.
I know you will call me
on the awkward line,
the hollow word.
But the truths I don’t uncover,
the visions I don’t aim toward,
don’t reach, will you–

I don’t want to be told
what to write
I can excavate my own content
I want to be pushed into
digging deep wells
in unheard ofland.
I want you to give me eyes in
in the back of my head.
Be a thunder clap
and rouse me.
Be an earthquake
make me tremble
Be a river raging rampant
in my veins.
Shock me shitless.

What you put first...

will be the first to go.  That's how it works.

That's what The Crocodile said.  Ancient wisdom he said, and the ancient wisdom always holds true he said.  It didn't really seem to make sense, but it has proven true in more than one instance.  It's hard to remain skeptical when you see it with your own eyes more than once.  It flies in the face of what so many other people say, like if you give it your all it's bound to happen, but when you stop and look, the situation is usually exactly the opposite.

Something to think about.

It comes down to this.  What you put first isn't always the thing you're meant to be doing, even if it's been done with the best of intentions.  There's another saying about that, but that pre-dates The Crocodile.

Insomnia Outsomnia

“That night I slept badly, thrashing about in my bed, not quite asleep and not quite awake. At times I had the feeling there was someone else in my bedroom who was talking to me, but of course I could not deal with this perception in any realistic way, since I was half-asleep and half-awake, and thus, for all practical purposes, I was out of my mind.” 
― Thomas LigottiTeatro Grottesco

The Batman

thisisnthappiness

Seems a damn shame to have this verbal utility belt and censor myself, doesn't it?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

All the king's horses...

You know what?  Shame on me... but it won't happen twice.
Alternate title:  Glossophagia goes cryptic.





This is like a slap in the face.  This is like, an amputation.

The point is, sometimes you see it coming and sometimes you don't.  My experience has been that it comes from the side of the pitch that's least expected.  Every single time.  Complete trust.  If you do, don't.  

Sunday Morning, Coming Down


No way to hold my head that didn't hurt...

It took me years to figure out that the comma in the song title was so important.  Sunday can be such a long, woeful day sometimes.  It lasts forever, even when by Monday morning it seems like the entire weekend was a quick blink and a shudder and then gone.

The longest, saddest Sunday mornings for me were when recently divorced, I either woke up alone or I had to go about the business of getting my sons ready to go back to their mother.  It was a social contract as well as a legal contract that they had to be cleaned and scrubbed pink and all their clothes washed and their homework done.  It wasn't the chores though.  It was knowing that by Sunday evening it would be just me and my vices and bad habits and silence.  There might be a toy or a book or the ring of a glass on the side table but that's all there was left of my weekend family.

It wasn't a happy marriage that had ended, not by any stretch of the imagination, but it what it was was a sense of identity that I had built brick by brick around me and for the length of the whole thing, I pretty much knew who I was.  Sunday mornings it started to slip away again and by Sunday evening there was a big hole where it had all fit in like a puzzle piece.  Maybe not the right piece and admittedly sometimes it was the wrong piece jammed into the space and hammered down with the heel of my fist, but the hole was filled and it looked and felt just about right.

Now the boys are grown and doing their own thing so every Sunday since the hole is there, and I spend at least part of the day wondering where it all went.  Not that life is all that dreary and there are plenty of things to fill the day and time and there is rarely a shortage of smiles and even laughs, but a man gets to thinking a lot about who and where he is when that special season has ended.  It's not so much a sharp ache anymore but there is a dull throb and no matter what you fill the space with, the bottom drops out and it gets deeper.

What was it Frost said, and damned if I don't repeat it several times a year, and forgive me if it's not quite right, when was it ever to the heart of a man, to go with the flow of things, and bow and accept the end of a love or a season?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Witness

I look up from my book as I am locked away in text and songs, and there he is.  There is always someone watching.  You are never truly alone.

Then of course the Davey & Goliath voice chimes in from just behind the sharp pain that's just behind my right eye.

God is always watching, Davey.

Okay, Goliath.  Do me a favor and stuff it.  Not now.  I just want to be left alone.

There he is though, with his... he looks disappointed, doesn't he? 

Well, that makes two of us, Wee Man.  That makes two of us.  Turn away and leave me to it.  I've got places to go and thoughts to think and it would be preferable to do it alone.

Not much privacy in New York City, and excuse me, God Squad, but I prefer to believe that if we are actually, truly created in Yer Man's image, he would understand why we would think having someone watching all the time is just fucking creepy.  And why would we not think like him?  What other point of reference does he have?

Look at me, arguing with nobody about a deity I don't really believe in.  I may really want to but I don't.   It's too complicated.   Too many questions make my head hurt.

We're still here...

May 21st, 2011 was supposed to be the End Times, or the End of Times or The Rapture... Judgement Day, depending on which lunatic placard you read, if not all of them.  It was a day of good humor for most of us, rife with good-natured back-slapping and jokes and social media memes.  Fast forward to 2016 and the presidential front runner is an orange, hate-filled Oompa Loompa.  It's hard to tell if his supporters have any real faith in his message, or if they just want to fuck things up, take their toys and go home.  Either way, people are angry, with a heaping dose of ignorant on the side.  It's easy to believe that just maybe the geezer predicting the 2011 Rapture was right when he said he only meant all along that it was the beginning of the end. 

Okay.

For today, we are still here.

I awoke this morning to the sound of cheers and 10,000 pairs of flapping sneakers beating down Ocean Parkway... the Brooklyn Half-Marathon.  People are getting fit for The Rapture, or maybe each deciding to tuck in one more big personal accomplishment while they're still breathing this particularly un-rarefied air.  If it all came down right this instant there would be 10,000 pairs of expensive running shoes and high performance athletic gear littering the road.  If memory serves, everyone will be headed naked into the afterlife.  They'd better hope that self-consciousness is one of the things they leave behind.

I dreamed last night, or early this morning, that I was in some kind of a family therapy session with my sons.  They were still teenagers and not at all into the session.  They sat at the table hunched over a piece of paper and scribbling equations, and speaking in some Kalahari click dialect, interesting given their melanin shortage and having never traveled to South Central Africa, or even South Central Los Angeles for that matter.  I was confused and frustrated.  Where had they developed this and why hadn't I noticed before?  Why wouldn't they speak English and engage in the session when I asked, and then loudly demanded?  What the hell was this?  I explained over and over, on the brink of tears, that I only wanted things to be right.  I only wanted to fix things.

There are easy interpretations, aren't there?  Dreams often come though, in their own alien tongue, so though it's tempting to go for the simple explanation, I remain wary.  I'm going to have to think on this one.

For now, it's shit, shower and shave for a rare Saturday work day.

I will remember to look skyward for a sign or two.

Selah.

Friday, May 20, 2016

My sentiments exactly

I really have nothing else to say about this.  Pretty simple. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Quotable

"Sometimes you have to live in precarious and temporary places.  Unsuitable places. Wrong places. Sometimes the safe place won't help you." - Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy...
And sometimes you need perspective and you find the familiar in a stranger. 
The ride today was uneventful.  Even got a seat after Grand Central and that brought some temporary relief for the long rip going up the left side of my back.  There were only two black men cuffed and questioned in the station at 125th, as opposed to the usual half dozen. The cops are being uncharacteristically merciful, or maybe even they've gotten tired of the bullshit.  It seems like a quiet day and I am feeling momentarily blessed in a secular sort of way so I gave a guy outside the Dunkin Donuts a dollar and he showed me his summer teeth and invited me back to buy more coffee at lunch time.
The Breakfast Club was stooped on the ramp watching the world and listening to one elder expound on what white girls smell like.  Cheer up, White Girls.  You're getting good reviews out here on the street.  Keep it up, whatever you're doing.
What is it the kids say? 
Oh.
Shaking my damn head.
I am where I need to be.
For today.
Tomorrow?
Not sure yet.

Shush

Quiet Time

How to self-love when one has grown weary of their own voice?  There is a fine line between solitude and isolation but where is it?  It was just here.

A picture is worth 1000 words

Igor Morski

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal


I've found myself revisiting this book several times since I first read it a few years ago.  It's probably the most quotable book I know, and if not the most inspirational, it's very close to the top of my list.  It was recommended to me by a friend when I took my first stab at writing a memoir.  Like she claims in the book my earlier attempts at writing (which remain unpublished where she succeeded) were semi-autobiographical, or rather attempts to tell my own stories through a combination of experience and imagination.  Writing about what I know firsthand and what I can conjure through experience with other people.  

I'll write more on this later, but the thing with THIS book, as a memoir, is that it is almost an instruction manual on writing... 

The Nutty Professor once said that the key to a good memoir is that it must lead to some sort of redemptive end.  There must be solution  I don't know that I agree with that entirely.  Some stories just don't have happy endings.  They're not about overcoming so much as enduring and I can't accept that a good memoir has to be about rising up from ashes of hardship.  Some people can't achieve that but the importance of their stories isn't in any way lessened.  Everyone has a right to their story, and for their story to be told.  

I'm not sure yet if my story has a happy ending.  It could actually have several in rapid succession, but the final outcome remains a mystery.  I'm still telling it, really.  

Anyhoo... more later.  

“We bury things so deep we no longer remember there was anything to bury. Our bodies remember. Our neurotic states remember. But we don't.”

"What you are pursuing is meaning- a meaningful life. There's the hap- the fate, the draw that is yours, and it isn't fixed, but changing the course of the stream, or dealing new cards, whatever metaphor you want to use- that's going to take a lot of energy. There are times when it will go so wrong that you will barely be alive, and times when you realize that being barely alive, on your own terms, is better than living a bloated half-life on someone else's terms.”

“Truth for anyone is a very complex thing. For a writer, what you leave out says as much as those things you include. What lies beyond the margin of the text? The photographer frames the shot; writers frame their world. Mrs Winterson objected to what I had put in, but it seemed to me that what I had left out was the story’s silent twin. There are so many things that we can’t say, because they are too painful. We hope that the things we can say will soothe the rest, or appease it in some way. Stories are compensatory. The world is unfair, unjust, unknowable, out of control. When we tell a story we exercise control, but in such a way as to leave a gap, an opening. It is a version, but never the final one. And perhaps we hope that the silences will be heard by someone else, and the story can continue, can be retold. When we write we offer the silence as much as the story. Words are the part of silence that can be spoken. Mrs Winterson would have preferred it if I had been silent.

Do you remember the story of Philomel who is raped and then has her tongue ripped out by the rapist so that she can never tell? I believe in fiction and the power of stories because that way we speak in tongues. We are not silenced. All of us, when in deep trauma, find we hesitate, we stammer; there are long pauses in our speech. The thing is stuck. We get our language back through the language of others. We can turn to the poem. We can open the book. Somebody has been there for us and deep-dived the words. I needed words because unhappy families are conspiracies of silence. The one who breaks the silence is never forgiven. He or she has to learn to forgive him or herself.”

“Happy endings are only a pause. There are three kinds of big endings: Revenge. Tragedy. Forgiveness. Revenge and Tragedy often happen together. Forgiveness redeems the past. Forgiveness unblocks the future.”

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sunday wishing it were Frida again


Changed the bedding to flannel at around 9 last night, just in time for a stiff breeze from somewhere northwards and a drop in temperature.  Were it not for a crash on the expressway and the sun, I could've slept all damn day.  There won't be enough anyway for what's coming tomorrow.  It's going to be an ugly week.  Plain and simple.  Nothing to bow to and accept.  No reason to expect otherwise.  It's going to be stupid and pointless and generally bad.  

And yet... why not?  

Why the fuck not?  

Echoes.

You never need to piss so badly until you are right outside the bathroom door.  This is the corridor headed to the door and my back teeth are floating already.  But this is the corridor that leads to the door.  

Oh Frida, when I see you in the photos, so pretty and petite next to Jabba Diego the Hutt Muralist I get jealous.  I know it was complicated but you loved him so much and he you.  Give me your complicated love instead.  

Please.  

Haha.  

Lie with me under the flannel sheets in the bed next to the window with the surf crash of passing cars on the expressway and the cool breeze, and sometimes when the wind changes you can smell the salt air from Brighton Beach.  Can you smell it?  Yes, there you go.  

Sunday morning and wishing it were Frida again.  

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Willy DeVille - When the Night Falls


I'd like to avoid the whole Paul McCartney angle on this discussion, but if you've had enough of love songs then you're probably... well, why judge?  If you're done with them then something is probably broken inside you.  I wish you the best.

Friday, May 13, 2016

This Hughes, not that Hughes. This one.

Langston Hughes

Spanish Harlem - Willy DeVille


This is what it sounds like.  Yes it does.  Once you hear it you never forget it, so don't ask.  You will know it.

I had that dream again...


Monday, Part 5, kind of...

Thank god it's Frida

Polar Opposites


I've seen so many of these articles, this one titled The Glossary of Happiness, within which are contained these wonderful lists of words gathered from dozens of languages other than English, for which there are no direct English translations.  The articles are always framed in whimsy and light and discuss perhaps a Hindi word for the inaudible giggle two lovers feel more than utter in the presence of their grandparents... or some such quaint shit.

I remain convinced though that for every Positive Lexicography there is an equal and opposite Negative Lexicography containing words that we should be happy don't exist, like maybe a Bantu word for being so furious with your mother than  you want to shit into her bedroom slippers.

Or the aroma of one of those half-vomit/half-burp phenomena, from Farsi.

Just a thought.

The most worthy part of this article though is a descriptive phrase for a phenomenon that I have always, to some extent believed is true, which is: "linguistic determinism, the strictest version, might argue that a culture that lacks a term for a certain emotion—a particular shade of joy or flavor of love—cannot recognize or experience it at all." I would definitely walk that back a step and say that outside of our recognized lexicography, our ability to experience emotions, or even to see certain things, is drastically inhibited.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Down the rabbit hole...

They were already there when I surfaced from underground, as I suspected they would be.  No clue who or what they were or who or what they had been.  They had always been around, or at least I had always caught glimpses of them from the corner of my eye.  They were neither young nor old, that is they seemed childlike but looked somewhere between old, ancient and timeless.  Certainly human, but of what variety? They were shapeless, amorphous and rather amoebic, but i couldn't tell if they were still forming, or if they had been fully formed and melted toward the earth, gravity bound and rendered squat and lumpy.  They didnt move much and made sounds, an odd pidgen speak, part English, part Spanish and part nonsense.  Everything they spoke seemed of dire urgency as if discussing some impending emergency, quite at odds that they took no action to prepare for what sounded like certain disaster. 

There were more of then here though, on this end of the rabbit hole.  Perhaps this was the source, their motherland.  Hard to be sure.  They were lined up this morning on the entrance ramp, perched on boxes and rails and milk crates and Zimmer frames.  Squatting like plump woodchucks, smoking and chattering and spitting.  It was the Atlantic City Boardwalk this morning and they were cheerful, smiling and each shamelessly showing off the rest of their teeth.  The sun was shining.  There was nowhere to be but right there smoking and chattering and smiling and warning of imminent doom presumably, and blocking doors.

And where did I have to be in a hurry anyway.  I was oddly unmoved.  Neither irritated nor angry nor frightened.  Do these things bite?  Probably.  Time will tell.  If they do I am certain it will be as toxic as a Komodo dragon.  Still... not bothered.

My phobias lie in other areas. 

Not on the other end of the rabbit hole, from where and whence I had only just come, though it was no less alien and strange either.  That's just the way it had been lately though.  From either end I would crawl back down the hole, certain that sooner or later I would resurface and be home.  Yet it had reached a point where I wasn't sure where or what home is.  I would definitely know it when I see it, right?  Yet for the time being I was stuck between stations so to speak and would simply have to put up with it. Some days were easier than others, but some days I felt particularly lonely.  This was one of the okay days, where I looked about with detached amusement. 

-- what will come will come, MacGregor, I said aloud, mostly to myself but maybe just in case there was some Bizarro World hall monitor who might swing by and ask if I needed directions. 

-- What will come will come. 

And I was still alone.

Because, Egon Schiele

Friendship

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Other Side, Sidney Valette


Wait... What year is it?  Oh yah, it's 1983.  All my Hane's tee shirts are black.

Nesting

Weird nesting inside bizarre inside odd inside strange.  That kind of day.

Monday, Part 3

What else is there to say? Sometimes it's just like that.

Like this, actually.

Just like this.

Clusters of pulsing, white heat crash in at midnight.  Then again at three.  They don't stay for so long but they get their job done.

So Wednesday is Monday, Part 3. 

I have nothing else.  Not for now.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

126th @ 5th Avenue, Harlem

Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman

For when you want to be in the moment, but not necessarily your own moment.  Highly recommended. 

Monday, Part 2

Sometimes, Tuesday is merely...

It's all attitude, right?  My attitude?  That's what you're about to say, but you can stuff it and stow it.  Sometimes Tuesday, not in its essence any different than any other Tuesday, is Monday Part 2.  Whatever.  Live through it.

Nobody needs to send a message of encouagement, nor admonishment.  Seeing Paolo Coelho or the Dalai Parton quoted in my Facebook news feed won't inspire me.  Stories of brave, blind crippled boys supporting their siblings by crawling 12 miles per day to work in a steel mill won't shame me.

Fuck you.

I don't want to have a nice day.  I don't feel like it.  Leave me alone.

There is no single event in recent weeks that might be considered a turning point. People remarked recently that things must be on the upswing because I was looking... I believe the word was "chipper."

Again, fuck you.

There are health issues that may account for a foul humor.  Sleep has not been my bestie for quite a while now.  It could all be attributed to these invasive ailments, or even depression... internal.

But when push comes to shove, it's just about me.  I am weary of pretense.  I don't want to have a nice day, but thanks.  Or, let's put it this way.  I don't feel obligated to have a nice day just for the sake of a nice day.  Let me work some shit out and THEN let the good times roll.

And no, thank you, I don't want to discuss it.

ADD:  Stay in the day.  Be in the moment.  I think I am slowly getting it.  I am in A moment most of the time.  It is generally not THE moment but it is A moment.  It is usually right now if not necessarily right here, if that makes sense.  I will explain at another time. 

Anyway, I don't feel well.  The blackout on Sunday nearly repeated this morning.  It may or may not be connected to the weird disconnect some months back when I spaced out and dropped the pot of water at my feet.  Or it could be the medication.  Who knows?  It was frightening.  A slow motion collapse.  It started like those eerie headrushes that sometimes occur when standing from a squat, but then  continued and intensified.  There was a pulsing pressure from my chest to my ears and my vision strobed in and out with every beat.  I could feel light and consciousness siphoning away and felt my knees bend and finally connect with the floor.  I had just enough wherewithal to but my arms forward to break my fall on my palms.  I don't know if I lost consciousness completely or for how long but it was a complete collapse.  The ensuing headache and nausea kept me down for a few hours and I don't know if I've completely reconnected with myself since.

We shall see. 

We shall see.

Hello Monday...

Again.

More later.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Oh morning...

Always too soon and too late at the same time.  I am sorely tempted to pray one of those prayers to noone, the way I did when I was 11 or so, not to die really, but to disappear.  To go somewhere the feelings were not.  So not quite a death wish but a something wish.  It came true not too much later and things got...   but that is another story for another time.  For right now being conscious is a drag.

And that's all I've got.

Basta. 

Friday, May 06, 2016

I kind of felt this way...

Leave it to me to mess up an otherwise funny meme but when I pause for a second while laughing, sometimes weird stuff pops up.

Religion never really grabbed me when I was young. It really slid right into a neat slot next to science fiction and western movies, except all the Jesus movies came around Christmas and Easter.  It was ABC 4:30 movie fare... and then you got Ben Hur and Greatest Story Ever Told on Palm Sunday and Easter.

You start telling a kid about miracles though and he's going to expect to see something.  I did see a man walk on the moon though so it made Sci-Fi more plausible.  I was pretty well convinced that if Jesus was real, he was ignoring everyone I knew and me.

Not an uncommon outcome

Made in France

La Tour Est Folle

Alternate Title:  Je Suis Paris

I'll just leave this here with no further comment.  Figure out for yourself what to do with it.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Art School Dropout

Airtrain


There is a thin line between metaphor and magical thinking.

Metaphor.

Stretching reality?  Or just metaphor.

Just a metaphor.

That last set of sliding doors, leaving JFK, and leaving one of the last traces of my old life behind, and pretending that I wasn't going to cry.  Pretending that there wasn't a white-hot titanium ball somewhere deep, radioactive and feeding out bands of toxic fever heat... Pain.

Or maybe it was just the lack of sleep, or the kidney stones, or any combination of middle-aged man ailments plaguing me lately.  I was going to try to go with that one, and put any possibility that it was feelings aside, at least for the moment, because sometimes it's just easier that way.  I brought my hands up to my face and inhaled deeply through my nose.  Still Nurse Natalie, but who knows how long her scent would linger?  Maybe if I didn't touch anything else or wash my hands it would still be there for... how long?  The rest of the day?  I would go home and crawl into my own bed and bring both hands up to my face and drift off and try not to think about the worse middle-aged man affliction.

Just loneliness.  

I would not look into the mirror when I got home.  That way I wouldn't have to look at him, this alien face, this man that looked like I used to look, kind of, but a lot older and more... sad?  

Old?  

I am not ready for the new me.  

Could I console myself with the notion that I have grown as a man or into a man in that I didn't crawl between Natalie's legs and lose myself there?  Could there be any comfort at all in the thought, however fuzzy and vague that this one last time I was there for her, and not there for me? Was that even true? She made some quiet comment about that first time she took me home and cleaned me up after a sound beating, when she washed me off and she kissed my broken... my broken lip... and the broken rest of me.  Then my thoughts headed south and to the question, was that what it had always been?  Did I selfishly keep her out there on a tether to mend me every time I got busted up in one way or another?  What was my role in Natalie's life?  

Fucking hell, was it codependency?  Or were we friends?  

Guilt and a few dollars will get you a one way ride on the Airtrain, right?  

But for that one last time we switched roles and I was the nurse.  I bathed her, and massaged her shoulders. I slathered lotion on her skin.

And my thoughts go to her skin, so fucking soft, and the loneliness comes around again.  Who are the tears for though?  Natalie?  Me?  Someone else?  All three really and Natalie did ask in an offhand way.

When I laid down in bed and brought my hands to my face just as I planned, and I drifted off into her scent, and then into dreams, she was gone.  She was not in the dreams, despite that I really wanted her to be there. I was in a drafty house with too many windows in shaky frames and something was coming.  Something bad was coming and I didn't know what it was, but it wasn't good, and I had to keep it out.  I ran from window to window securing the locks and wondering if there was something I could block them with, furniture or something.  Maybe I could nail tables over the frames and I ran to the closet looking for the toolbox and the hammer, and it was a claw hammer with all its associations that I was certain was in there, but it wasn't.  There was no hammer, and no nails, so I went to each window again, checking the locks and looking off into the trees wondering what was coming for me and knowing it wasn't good, and... blind fear.  The wind picked up and I was in front of a picture window feeling drafts.  No, I had to move from in front of the window and find a place to hide, or maybe a way to sneak out before it got there.

It... got there.  What?  

I slipped down the basement stairs and crawled out a window under the porch and into the wind and then into the trees and then I was running down the hill through breaks in the foliage, and trying to find the old deer run that led down to the river.  I have run down this same path so many times over the years, and there are scratches from the brush on top of the scars from the last time.  What was at the river that was safe?  I always say on the path that I just need to make it to the river and I can follow the river home.  Where is home?  It's down the river, right?  But I never know where home is. 

I know what running is, and I know the path.  There are variations in the dream.  Sometimes the house is one I have lived in.  Other times it is a place I can't recall ever setting foot in.  This time it was the latter.

I am in a house that I can't remember ever being in, and it's not safe, so I just have to make it to the river.

I woke up with the river in sight and it is early morning and there is a misty sunshine reflecting off the water.  And then I am awake in Brooklyn, and my heart is racing, and I bring my hands up to my face and she is gone, except for one last trace down by my wrist.  How long will that last?  Another few hours?  

I sat in bed for a while looking at the dog and she looking at me.  Not quite alone but feeling... what is that feeling that I've been feeling?  Either that I've been picked up and dropped into someone else's life, or no, that I am someone else and I've been dropped into MacGregor's life, with a few of the familiar old things, but it's mostly... different.  

Fuck this dream.  It makes me angry that it still comes back around to fuck with me.  The only difference is that now at 54 I know what it is.  I know what the house is, and I know what's coming, and I know what the path is and I know what the river is.  What or where home may be is still an issue, but I know what the dream is, at least until the next time I fall asleep and it's all new again.  

I'm wearing of writing about myself.  "Your 'I's' are too close together and that's the problem," is what The Crocodile said to me once and he was right.  I am weary of writing about myself.  Maybe next time it will be someone else's story and not mine.  Not the old me, nor the old me.  Someone else entirely.  

Monday, May 02, 2016

AA Milne

Another day in the salt milne?

One last ride...

We didn't do that thing we always did. I don't know if she planned to.  It wasn't really in my playbook either but I suppose it had been a possibility. Things don't always go by the book once the ball goes into play.  My plan was simply to get through the night without a breakdown.  Without surrendering to the grief I've been tamping down for... well, for a long time now. There were a couple close calls and to be fair, Natalie's eyes welled up too.  She sucked in her pretty lips and bit down and then exhaled hard.  I thought she might deflate.  At the end of the exhalation she seemed somehow smaller.  For a moment there was a glimpse of something I had never witnessed with her. A lapse in the stoic Iron Woman.  Defenses down.  No secrets.  Just Natalie.

No tears now, Big Man.  Nunna that stuff.  We grown.

Had Nurse Natalie ever seen me cry?  Certainly she must have. Who sat with me through mourning and frustration and terror more often? My surrogate lover.  Surrogate sister.  Surrogate mother.  And certainly I had never seen her tears.  Natalie didn't cry.  At least not in front of people.  A heart like that though could have only been irrigated in tears, at least tears of compassion.

So she scolded me when I answered the phone. No hello or how are you.

BIGGA! You intend to let me fly off just like that? I don't believe you.  I just don't.  That's not my Big Man!

And there I was climbing into the car. How many times now? The truth is I was hoping to get away clean.  That all the feelings would die like a moth on a light bulb.  Done.  Gone.  When has it ever worked that way though?  So into the car and swimming in the smell of vinyl seats, stale cigarette smoke and the universal black car service air freshener.  Drowning in something else.  What does infinite sadness smell like?

We sat for most of the night on the sofa, an oasis in stacks of boxes.

My cousin Edwin is coming with a truck tomorrow.  Take anything you want.  Anything you need.

What do I need?  It wasn't in the boxes.  We sat mostly silent, holding hands, her head on my shoulder.  Noone ever smelled better than Natalie, except maybe when she had just returned from a shift when it was all isopropyl prep pads.  Mostly it was sandalwood and coconut and damp earth.  My chin rested on her head and her other hand on my heart.  A stethoscope.

Your heart is going like a drum, she whispered.

Yup.

She didn't need to tell me.  I was bursting.  Yet nothing coming out.  No words.  What the fuck are words at this point anyway?  I wanted to apologize but that seemed empty and self-centered.   I wanted to thank her but that seemed worse.  I even, for a short moment, wanted to tell her not to go, but what the fuck is that but not selfish?  I haven't known what to do with her all this time.  I just always sort of thought she would be around when I... what?

Needed her?  How fucking selfish and horrible is that?  Is that what it's been all about?  I flashed with anger at myself, and then with her because maybe that's all I have been.  Nevermind my motives... and so on.  She broke the spell.

Come with me and run a bath.  Can't get on the plane frowsy and stinking.  

And still, we don't do the thing we've always done.  We don't do that thing despite that Natalie looks now the way she did when I first met her.  I crack a joke about the good black don't crack business and she shushes me and lowers herself into the hot water and scented oils.  I sponge her body and and take a pumice stone to the bottoms of her feet.  I make a comment about how her breasts, each just less than a handful, float.

"Hush ya self, ya big child!" 

And Natalie smiles and maybe were she more fair there would have been a blush but she turns her face away and down, and I sit by the side of the tub holding her hand.  When the water cools she stands in the draining tub and I towel her softly and she puts a hand on either side of my face and pulls me close and kisses me.  Short and sweet.

Ya always be my Big Man.

And this time we both turn our heads, and my eyes do fill up again.  I follow her to the bedroom and everything is bare.  The walls are bare.  The top of the bureau is bare.  The birdcage is gone.

Where is John Crow? I ask after the big African Gray Parrot that perched by the bed for so long.  

I gave him to Phyllis at work.  John Crow doesn't want England.  The climate isn't to his taste.

Then Natalie is bare and I am bare and we still don't do that thing we do.  We do that other thing.  She curls up on her side facing the wall and I wrap around her from behind and she pushes closer.

What you gonna do wit-out me, Bigga?  You gonna be all alone again?

I have friends,  I dunno.

You have friends?  That's new.

And I can see her looking back, side-eyed over her shoulder.  She's not smiling, but there's a twinkle.

What are you going to do in England?

My son is there now.  And I have family.

You don't like your family.

No, that's not true.  They're all right.

Mmhmm... that's new.

Natalie laughs and elbows me in the ribs.  I pull her tighter and closer to keep her from hammering me again.  We may have slept for a bit.  I don't know if we did or if so for how long.  It was too soon though that we were in the big car with her impossibly big suitcases on our way to JFK, and what?  A big goodbye?  

I can wait with you.

Silence.

Natalie?

No, Bigga.  You go get some sleep.  Let's not make this messy.  No tears.

No, baby.  No tears.  

You gonna write onna ya ting 'bout this?

Probably.

Hokay then.  

And 15 minutes later I'm shambling through the sliding doors on the Air Train.  No tears.  I promised.  Back to my life.  My newly rebooted life.  New programs.  New apps.  No Natalie.  What does that mean?  

No Natalie.  

I repeated most of the way home, with different pauses.  Different inflections.  No Natalie.  No, Natalie.  No, Natalie!  

No Natalie.  

And what the fuck... here I am breaking my promise.  

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Reboot

This is going to have to be a sort of placeholder.

Rainy days can be a kind of gift, can't they?  Rainy days after a night of dire pain and sleeplessness are even better.  Christmas in May.  Not quite in May beyond a toehold but in May nonetheless.  Hell of a fucking year so far, for sure, with no real relief in sight but that's where the ODAAT thing comes in, or is supposed to.

Several months now into the big Reboot and I'm finding my system files are corrupted and it looks like reformatting the hard-drive is in order.

This isn't quite a FML day, but close.