Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Yah. Okay.

Just have to remember where I left the damn thing.


Sometimes if I put extra blankets on the bed it will weigh me down so I don't float away in my sleep.

Monday, March 27, 2017

So long...

So here's one.  Two agnostics in bed shouting oh Jesus, oh God... there is no punchline. 
R.I.P. Natalie Rowan.
Let me know if there's anything at all after this.
Always, but never said.

Pretty Much

Indelible Ink

Or... The Persistence of Memory?

Had Dali, in his famous 1931 painting, decided on a portrayal of the inside of my head, it would most likely have been no less a wasteland, but less desolate.  It may have been more closed in, and populated by not only more clocks but the clocks would have been truer to form and not as fluid or  melted.  That's the curse I'm talking about here.  This portrayal may have been no more linear, as my own memory has never been linear, but perhaps tight clusters perfectly round, perfectly formed watch faces, like shells littering the sand. Each shell in perfect condition, no more worn or damaged than it had been when it was first washed up on that shore, never picked at by gulls or terns or crabs.  Perfectly shiny.  Original condition.

Fuck it even.  Skip Dali and go straight to the display case at the watch counter at the jewelers.  There you go.  There you have it.

An exacting memory is the very last thing you want when you're weighted with shame and guilt, or even simply conflicted or sorrowed about your past.  Give me fading.  Give me wear and tear.  Give me scratches and nicks and dents and tarnishing, or just pull the gates down on the shop altogether and let no one in.  Total recall is only an asset if you're trying to recreate crime scenes.

Crime scenes...

Ooooh, they always return to the scene of the crime, Dick Tracy.

It's not a question so much of intentionally revisiting crime scenes as the crime scenes revisiting me.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday, 1926 Edward Hopper

Yah, I'm feelin' ya, Eddie.

Sonic Youth 1996

My hometown heroes tearing it up abroad.


Where do you start, you know?  Where do you start when you decide to tell your own story?  Why to tell your own story might be the best place but I have no ready answer for that.  Call it vanity or call it an exorcism or call it what you want.  I have no words for it but there is something pushing it to the surface.  It's now or never, having started making noise about it some time back.

So let's just start here:

It starts with being humbled or maybe humiliated, or even just knowing the difference between the two. That's when you come to the consciousness of what being humbled is.

Humbling is sitting in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in the East Village, having shambled through a year or two of sobriety and stumbled over a few of the 12 steps, and listening to a pretty, young woman tell a story that sounds startling familiar.  The voice didn't sound familiar.  The story did.  She was relating the tale of her "bottom," that moment of clarity that can come with incomprehensible demoralization.  It involved a long weekend of cocaine and alcohol fueled depravity and a disgusting older man she didn't know in her apartment ranting and raving and pawing at her like an animal...

Oh, hello MacGregor.

Shit, man.  It's not like she didn't invite me in and defensive for a moment, the animal acts did seem mutual at the time.  I mean, I knew it wasn't romantic but didn't really think it was... well, I guess I didn't think much about it at all.  Guilt, however, quickly superseded the alcoholic defensiveness.

I don't know if she knew I was sitting sweating at the back of the crowded meeting.  It was only when craned up a bit and saw her profile that it hit me.  Who else could she be talking about?  There could certainly be other disgusting, older men that she took home from gin mills.  It's entirely possible that she was doing it every night.  It would be nice to think that it was someone else.  Given the sober time she attested to though it was very likely that this particular disgusting older man was the very same character that was sitting in my folding chair.

Humbling is the the distinct possibility of having been the absolute lowest point in some nice, young lady's life, and if that was indeed the case, the likelihood that there were others.  How had I managed to make it through several hundred meetings and not encountered any familiar faces from the recent past, or any past, but jovial drinking companions?

But there she was, and if she was right there seated at the front of the room telling people about the worst days of her life, then there could very well be others.  This is the kind of shit that will give you pause if you have any sort of operating conscience at all.  My first reaction though wasn't my still somewhat dysfunctional conscience.  My first reaction was that this AA stuff was far too fucking crazy for me and who in their right mind would want to spend an hour a day trudging through their history and waiting for someone to walk up and ask.

Do you remember  me?

And I absolutely would remember whoever asked.  I have been cursed throughout my life with an elephant's memory, and even the deepest blackout always came back around in the following days of a bender, with an interrogation lamp burn.

Aw man... did I really?

Oh yes, I really did.

Maybe this curse is why I'm sitting here now, sifting through my personal history, trying to make some sense of it all, or at least get it out at a safe distance.

Redemption?  Yah, absolutely, that would be nice but I'm not really counting on it.  It could also be more about erecting a huge, neon warning sign.  Abandon hope, all ye who enter.

And I can hear The Crocodiles now saying, "It gets better, kid."

They're right.  It does get better but you're going to have to face it all first, and so far this is the only way I've found to get things reasonably "clean."  The quotation marks can stay on that word.  Reasonably should be in caps and italics, just for good measure.  I don't know if I'll know what clean feels like if it comes my way.  I've been listening closely now for over seven years, though meetings have been too few and far between lately, but I've been listening.  One day someone will explain to me what "clean" feels like.

There's those quotation marks again.

I left the meeting that day shaken.  Then I went to another that night and told a few of the guys there what happened earlier in the day.  Their reaction was laughter.  It was knowing laughter but they laughed and I laughed too but that's my default to fear.  Make a joke out of it, right?  It wasn't a joke though.  I'd never once felt at any point in my life that I was the high point in anyone else's life but now I was the lowest. Lowest is what had kept me out there running for so long in the first place.  This was confirmation of my deepest fears.

That could be what this whole exercise is about, but that still remains to be seen.  I've only just begun, after all.  This is just the beginning.  It's technically yet another beginning but there aren't too many chances left.  I'm praying to a god...  Götzengeschwätz... praying to a god that I don't technically believe in, that it goes the distance this time.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Hempstead Taxi

The cab was purple.  It was a purple compact wagon, some small Chevy model.  Her thermal jumpsuit was that shade of dark blue, like the color of a mechanic's work clothes.  What's that brand?


It was Dickies blue.

I remember the car and the jumpsuit but I can't remember her face.  I remember she wasn't beautiful but I do remember she had that Dickies blue jumpsuit.


The driver.

Not many female cab drivers in Hempstead back then and maybe not anywhere but Hempstead was a tough town and not really safe for men or women.  Motherfuckers would rob you for a 70 cent pack of smokes or pocket change.  They just didn't give a fuck!  It's like it wasn't even about what came out of your pockets as long as something came out of your pocket and into theirs.  I wouldn't exactly call it the thrill of the chase but it was definitely a power thing, and if you were lucky you wouldn't catch a beat-down for the audacity to have something in your pockets to begin with.


Back to her.  I don't remember her face and I sure don't remember her name but I remember she smoked Benson & Hedges Menthol 100s.  The memory is funny as shit that way.  It was shitty cold and gray and snowing off and on for a couple days.  I was on the run and hoping to score a place to crash in the student apartments near Hofstra where I was no longer a student.  I had a backpack and a sleeping bag and a couple hundred bucks to last until... whenever.  But it was cold and I was going to blow a few bucks on the cab.  So a female driver but it was probably to cold for even the crackheads to be out cracking heads and she could probably handle herself anyway.

All the cabs in Hempstead were shared back then.  No Uber or Lyft or whatnot.  You all crammed into these little purple compacts and got dropped off here and there.  I was cold and annoyed and sad as hell, probably over some girl, but I started cracking jokes just to hear my own voice.  The other passengers were entirely uninterested but Dickies Blue Jumpsuit came to life and laughed so what the fuck... I kept it up.  We started chatting while she drove through West Hempstead and Garden City and Hempstead dropping the drips at their respective homes.  There was a wet snow falling and the wipers were pushing dirt back and forth.

Everyone called me Greg back then.  God knows why I got MacGregor and people always made a big fucking deal over it though I felt no real connection to the history and heritage, and then they decided to call me Greg.  Greg Brady, blah blah blah.  I introduced myself to Her as MacGregor though for some reason.  Anonymity?  That's what I seem to remember and that's kind of funny.  She instantly shortened it to Mack.

Mack, you pretty funny.  I like you.  You cool if you don't mind me sayin' so but you cool for a white dude.


And it felt good to be cool for a white dude.  Hey, don't judge.  It was 1983 or so and Long Island was more segregated than most places so it's not like conversations between people of different colors even happened often except for the how may I help you today interactions.  We were having some laughs and talking about music and when I was the last passenger she asked if I minded if she smoked.  No I didn't at all and may I also yah man, why not?  A flask appeared from inside the Dickies Blue Jumpsuit and she said don't worry and took a pull off it and offered it to me, and of course I accepted.  It was sweet brandy and burned and warmed and washed out the cigarette fug and it felt really fucking good.  It was a slow, careful ride back towards the campus area and we talked more and laughed and she turned up the stereo.  It was whatever the soul music du jour was and it worked.

When we got near my drop-off she said again.  You know what, Mack?  I'm enjoying this.  You wanna ride around with me for a while?  I was a little scared, I have to admit but I had fuck all else to do and I was more scared of being alone so I accepted the offer.

You gotta git in the front seat though.  Don't worry Mister Mack.  I don't bite.  And she laughed with her head back and hung a u-turn in the Hempstead Turnpike and we lit back to the station to pick up more customers.  And that's how we spent the afternoon and who the fuck knows what people thought piling in and out of the cab listening to us carry on in the front.  It wasn't just a question of the black and white thing, though you really didn't see a lot of that back then.  Not anywhere, even in New York City.  People just didn't do it.  When it came up in conversation even the most liberal people would say the same damn thing.

It's got to be hard on the kids.

I never knew what that meant exactly but that's what everyone said.  Every single, fucking time.

It's got to be hard on the kids.

And this woman and I were just talking, but we were really getting on like old pals.  We'd pick up a load and swing around in the snow dropping them off and then head back in, smoking butts and every so often taking a nip off the flask.  We did stop at the liquor store by the bus station and she waited while I ran in and got another bottle.  After a while it started to get dark and she turned to me.

Hey Mack.  You wanna hang out?

Yah, I do.

And I did and I didn't.  She was older.  I didn't find her attractive really, granted she was dressed like a dude.  It was hard to say what she looked like really beneath all that.  What I could see was her face and her neck and they were dark brown and shiny.  She was Grace Jones black and her skin was really beautiful and her voice was warm and friendly and I remember thinking is she going to want to fuck and will I fuck her and what the fuck nobody knows where I am and what if she lives in one of those fucked up buildings like over on Terrace Avenue where the pizza places and UPS don't even deliver.

Yah, I do.

Awww Mack.  I like you.  You really makin' me laugh.  I like you.

And be damned I don't know if I remembered her name at that moment or if she even ever told me.

I like you too.

She lived over off Clinton, in a small frame house.  It looked neatly kept but it's hard to say.  Everything in Hempstead looked filthy in the gray and snow and now dusk.  I could see the top of the water tower over the houses.  I'd lived over there a while before but left because the young guys in the area were fond of chasing white kids from the college for fun.  It's just the way things were.  I didn't realize when she got out of the car that she was about my height and was a bit taken aback and she said come on in, Mack and we'll get something hot to drink.  She was very quick to tell me to take my boots off and "don't track no shit through the house" so I did.

Sit down while I take this shit off.  I sat in a chair in the front room and watched as she stripped off the Dickies Blue Jumpsuit and boots.  Underneath she was wearing a tight sweatshirt and tight jeans, those jeans that are all embroidered on the back pockets like designer jeans which were everything at the time, but no designer you ever heard of.  She was really tall and lanky.  She took the state trooper gomer pyle hat off and revealed a short afro.  She was not pretty.  Nice shape.  Round in the right places.  But not pretty.  The smile was so fucking friendly and warm though with full lips still hanging on to some lipstick and a space between her front teeth.

She had pretty hands.  I'd never looked at hands before really, but she had pretty hands.  Long, graceful fingers and she sat on a sofa and pulled out a smoke with her long, graceful fingers, and asked me to light it for her, and I did.

You got any reefers, Mack?

Of a certain age.  Reefers.  That's what people over a certain age called weed.

It's okay if you don't.  I got some.  You smoke?

I'd actually quit at the time.  Mostly.  I said yes.  She got a couple glasses from the kitchen and a bottle of Seagram 7.

So here we are, Mack.  What you wanna do.

Let's smoke.  Let's get to know each other.  I was trying to be smooth now.  It was obvious what was happening now, or at least soon.  There was no other reason to be there and I had no idea why it was me but there I was.  It just worked out for us that way.  There was some old movie on the console television but the sound was down and the radio was on.

Awww Mack.  You wanna dance with me?  She got up and pulled me by my hands out of the chair.  She reached down and took my hands with those long, graceful fingers and pulled me up.  I sure as hell didn't want to dance.  It's funny that you can want to fuck but be terrified of dancing.  I had danced before but never with someone my own height.  She pulled me close.

Put your arms around me, Mack.  She pulled me close and swayed against me, her face the same level as mine, and just a few inches away.  She wasn't really attractive but I was attracted and I wanted the dancing to end so I moved in for a kiss but she told me to slow down and let it happen.  She kissed me quickly when the song ended and we sat down and drank more and smoked more and laughed and talked.

I like you, Mack.  You really funny, and you cute for a white boy.  I hope you don't mind me sayin' that but a lotta white boys just.... you know.

The distance between us on the sofa seemed to have gotten smaller and we were leaned back on the cushions facing each other.  Faces close.  This time she leaned in and pressed her mouth against mine.  Her lips were full and soft and it didn't take but a minute to be in a full on make-out grope.  She swung her leg over and sat in my lap facing me.  She pushed me back and kissed me hard, moving her hips against me.  I don't know how long that went on but at some point she stood up and peeled off the sweatshirt and the jeans came down.  I don't know if I'd ever seen a black woman naked before that.  I think I had but it seemed very new.  I remember her skin was very smooth and beautiful.

You mind if I suck your dick, Mack?

No, I would like that.

And she did.  She pushed back the coffee table and knelt on the carpet in front of me and took it in her mouth and went slow and deep.  I remember letting out a sound and maybe I was wasted, or not, but it took me a second to realize that the sound came from me.  After a bit she moved up and straddled me again and reaching between her legs, guided me home.  Rubbers?  Shit.  I'd heard of them.  It probably wouldn't have occurred to me.  Maybe sober, but probably not.  She guided me in though and it was wonderful and felt perfect and she pressed her whole body against me.

You ain't gonna get all funny if I try to kiss you now after suckin' your dick, right?

Uh uh.  No.

And it was the best kiss I'd ever had in my life up to that point.  Maybe I just needed it more than ever right then and there, all lonely and mostly broke and not knowing where the fuck I was going to end up.  She kissed me and it was even better than anything else we were doing.

I remember how long and lean and tight her body was.  I remember running my hands down her back from her shoulders to where her waist curved in and then back out toward her hips and buttocks.  Round in the right places.  I did it again and again and again.  The palms of my hands and my fingertips were tingling.  She had her fingers wound into my hair and kept kissing me.

What was it that felt so fucking good?  I don't brag about this shit but I'd been laid an awful lot but...

But what?

Maybe I never needed it so bad.

I remember my heart beating so hard.  I remember finally resting my hands on the small of her back at the top of her ass and pulling her down onto me roughly.  I remember trying to get as much of my body pressed against her as possible.  As much contact head to toe as I could get.  I don't really remember moving to the bedroom but we spent the night there and did pretty much everything a man and a woman can do to each other or with each other.

You gonna stay with me tonight, Mack.

It wasn't a question.

And I did.

In the morning we fucked once more and maybe I'm weird but to this day I hate to use the word fuck when I remember that day.  We had cigarettes and instant coffee for breakfast and she drove me back towards the campus and outside she leaned over and kissed me.  I remember it was just lips.

You fun, Mack.  Thank you.

And that was that.  I may never sort out what it is that makes this one stand out.  I don't talk so much about sexual exploits but I can't suss what made this one seem like... not an exploit.

But that was that.

First there was an opportunity... then there was a betrayal

A review maybe?  Not really.  What's more boring than the average film or music review?  Very little.  What can I say?  This movie could be, in some ways, perhaps without the flashbacks to the first installment from 1996, the first part.  It's more of a complete film, whereas Trainspotting was almost a long-form music video. There is a plot with this one.

But yah, first there was an opportunity, and then there was a betrayal.  That line in and of itself is the plot of Trainspotting 2, but it aptly describes any addicts story.  If you are or were an addict it's going to resonate.  Opportunity are betrayal is the recurring pattern in every addict's life, isn't it?  You betray everyone, your family, your children, your loved ones and most of all yourself.

You betray yourself repeatedly.


Over and over and over and over and over.

Then if you're lucky (or unlucky) enough, you live long enough to have to go back and confront your whole history, and that's really the foundation of T2.  Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Edinburgh to reconcile his past.  No spoilers here.  It is what you might imagine it to be, and that doesn't mean redemption and a happy ending.  Life doesn't work that way anyway does it.  It's not a remake of It's A Wonderful Life. It's not Frank Capra.  It's not a happy community around a Christmas tree with carols and bells and fucking angels.  But maybe there's closure.  I haven't sorted that out yet, but there seemed to be the first steps of making peace with the past, and acceptance.  When you're an addict, you just are what you are.  You can get clean and live a happy, productive life.  The one you couldn't get close to when you were using, but you're still an addict.  A pickle will never again be a cucumber.

But what was it Joseph Conrad said (through Marlow)?  Going home must be like going to render an account.

That's Trainspotting 2.

I shambled out onto Broadway after the credits rolled, filled with memories of 1996 and alcoholism in full bloom and already weighted with quite a history of my own.  Most everyone I know now is gone, dead or moved away but it's impossible not to wonder/fear who I might run into when I cut to 3rd Avenue and down through The Bowery.  It's hard to say what evokes the worse anxiety, who I might run into, or that I might run into nobody at all and that is mostly the case and it puts me in a weird state.  Many of the landmarks are still here but the faces are all different.  They types of faces are different.  The conversations are not the same.  I passed several different groups of people chattering excitedly like monkeys about interactions they'd just had on Instagram and Facebook.  There were no Instagrams or Facebooks in 1996.  There was no internet as we know it today.  People talked face to face or they talked on the phone or they didn't talk at all.  They wondered about people they hadn't seen in years and what they looked like and what they were doing and there was usually no means of finding out or catching up.

But that doesn't twist at my head quite the same as the feeling out of place and out of time.  That's not exactly a new feeling.  What's new is the realization that I'm wandering around addled and lonely and fearful that there are still parts of my past to go back and face, or that might just show up and surprise me.  I don't know.  The film left me feeling unsettled.

I've only ever given passing thought, for example, that when my cousin was sent away in 1979 he was only given 25 to life.  He was up for parole ages ago, and though there's never been given much consideration to releasing him, it remains a distinct possibility.  He told his brother Doug a few years ago that he's considerably upset that I've never attempted to contact him.  He told him that it would have meant a lot to hear from me.  I was really taken aback and for a moment felt an obligation to write a letter.  I went so far as to get his address and then deleted the e-mail as soon as it arrived.  What is there to say?  The nicest possible thing I could conceive of writing is that I'm no longer afraid of him.  Could it be possible that he doesn't remember everything?  I've forgiven him insofar as I believe he is too animal dumb to be responsible and have long thought that the most compassionate thing that they might have done would be to put him down like a sick animal the way we did with sick animals when we were growing up.  Strange but true, that was our idea of compassion.

What could he do now at 67?  Could he be my personal Francis Begbie?  It's not likely, but it's been nearly 40 years now.  Perhaps I underestimate what seeing his face might bring back.  I saw a picture online some time back, of him in his 20s, probably not long before he committed the act that got him put away.  It was jarring in a way that I wouldn't have imagined it would be.

But shit now... back to New York City.  There is still so much history here for me, even if it's a ghostly back drop to a shiny, new foreground.  Maybe it's that I still carry a sense of... identity... that makes me insecure among New New Yorkers and Gentrified Brooklyn.  I do wonder sometimes what they see when they see me (that's if they see me at all what with their selfies and Instagram and Snapchat).  Can they see the filth?  What part of me can they see or not see?

Of course that's all in my head isn't it?

Isn't it?

So exactly what is it I'm doing when I walk around.  Is it looking for fragments of the past or an attachment to the present?  Is it hiding from the present?  Or none of that at all?  It could be just walking.

What I do know is that at some point I will find myself "home" and that there are past deeds that will revisit themselves upon me.  It's not even certain exactly what they are or where we will stumble into each other but there's long been the sensation that the last boot is about to drop.  It would be nice to know at least what to expect.

What I left the theater with was a reminder that there is a past yet to be faced.  There are debts owed. There are bills to pay.  That and that I will never, ever be clean and innocent, but fuck it.  What would that even feel like?

Faith Revisited?

It's not a question of diminishing with snarky humor or dismissing the idea of faith or those who have it.  It's about my own lack of faith.  It must be nice though when confidence is in short supply and there seems to be no path in sight to turn it over.  Giving it my best shot and letting go of outcomes works on most days.

Then there are others.  

Long conversations with people who are possessed of faith in some form of god have yielded admiration for those people and their courage to believe, but left me with nothing for myself.  Fear remains.

Fear remains.  

Faith in mathematics and probability is enough on most days.  The odds are that most days will pass, given mindfulness, with nothing bad happening but feelings.

Then there are other days.  

This may be one of them.  

Let the spaces between the lines be a metaphor for my fear and my hesitance to move. 

Let them remain to portray my current state and the resulting inability to make clear decisions on even what to say.  

Let them remain empty for now, as a space to fill in any answers that may come to me over the course of the tribulations.  

Prospect Park - DDATHTL

Sunrise over the lake again.  One day I will not be here to witness this.  One day I will not be anywhere to witness anything.  I am, for the moment, still here.

Still here.

This was my morning meditation, that despite everything that seemed impossible to overcome or pass through, I am still here.  

Others are not, but I am still.  

I will remember those who are not and be grateful to them for bringing me to this place.  

It's not so bad at all, even without them, but I wish they were here. 

That's not the way things work.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Cluster Headaches

via Natural Health News

This is sort of a placeholder for now...

It's difficult to explain a cluster headache to someone who has never suffered them, or migraines.  They are, for me, akin to the pain of a broken bone.  Imagine being walloped in the head with... well, a hatchet, to borrow from the image above.  That's no exaggeration!

The goal is to, at some point, explain the role that cluster headaches and migraines have played into other afflictions (depression and anxiety) and shaped parts of my life... my work life, relationships with family, friends and lovers, etc.  What form that will take remains to be seen but the goal is there.

I've addressed them medically in the past but I've moved forward in earnest to seek relief again.  I'm awaiting the results of an MRI from yesterday to rule out other issues (which I don't believe exist) but to be responsible about my own well-being it seemed necessary.

I admit that I am guilty of skepticism when people proclaim they've got a headache.  I look closely and upon quick examination can tell if they're for real or not.  It's not nice to be dismissive but there you go.  It's not the same.  It's not relative.  It's just not.

For now... (click the link above for details)

My Super Power

Sweet Oblivion - NSFW

Joseph Marr

Sugar sweet...

Alternate title:  A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down


Click the link above.  This guy's work is phenomenal.

It is probably something else altogether.

It came in the middle of the night, mostly unexpected, but in the middle of the night when mostly unexpected visitors show up.  The drop-ins have never held much appeal for me, and wouldn't everything be so much more manageable if we always knew what to expect?  It came, though.

This moment... 

of realization?


I'd spent the better part of the afternoon involved in the questionnaire that accompanied an application to join a therapy/analysis study group.  Most of the questions were routine, about where you grew up, how many siblings, parents alive etc.  Most of them were short answer.  It was easy enough.  There were, at the bottom however, a few that required long-form answers or short essays.  The one that nagged at me:

"Describe one incident (or series of related incidents) that you believe have had the most lasting impact on your life and your relationships with people in your life (family, siblings, spouse, partner, children)."

Hadn't we already discussed this in the office?  It seemed plain enough and redundant and irksome.  It was the following line that tugged at me:

"Think hard!  It may not be what you've believed it to be."

I was about to respond with exactly the details I'd related to the doctor at the induction session, but that second qualifying line gave me pause.  It seemed to be set up as a trick question, and of course why wouldn't it be?  Don't we all trick ourselves into believing that certain things are so and that they've always been so? Still, I wanted clarification and with that goal called the doctor and asked.

"Just think hard and give your most honest answer.  What you believe in your heart of hearts."

"But didn't we go through this already?"

"Then just repeat what you told me in the office."

It seemed a challenge somehow.  Then as if reading my mind he clarified:

"It's about identifying triggers and we're going to be working with a lot with that.  Many people begin therapy with a clear idea in their minds of what the problems are.  This is just for a comparative example to measure where you are with that at different points in the study.  Often, subjects change.  Sometimes it's the same, but if you don't identify the triggers then you will keep repeating patterns.  Don't think so hard.  Just answer honestly."

Don't think so hard... 

He really doesn't know me yet.

I set about repeating as near to the word as possible what we had spoken of in the office and how I believe it impacted my life.  The issue was it all seemed so certain in the office but merely the suggestion that I could be using one issue to obfuscate the impact of another shook that certainty.  My confidence in what has been my truth crumbled a bit as the afternoon wore on.  Sleep didn't come easily, for varying reasons, this having been a difficult, isolated and lonely week after all.  And then when it came it refused to stay.

A moment came.

A notion crept in.

Dawn came several hours later and the visitor hadn't left.  

I think I'm going to have to walk my visitor home.  

A new journey begins.  


Thursday, March 23, 2017

One more shot?

This is the one you don't want to see while you're leaving a medical center, having just had them digitize a 3D photo of your brain.  Someone has some fucking sense of humor! Or maybe that's ass backwards.  Maybe it's a final warning saying I've got one more shot?  I'm one up on Sartre though, in any event.  Still standing, 2017. I'm still here.

Know what it is, Coyote?

"Coyote people though have this sense of innocence and trust in the Universe that allows them to keep following their dream, no matter where it may take them. To Coyote, everything that one experiences is valuable. There is no right or wrong, up or down, black and white in Coyote's world. Its a hodgepodge of colour and experience and sensation that makes life to Coyote worth living. Anything less is too grim for Coyote to contemplate and this is why many Coyote people say (as do their friends and family) that they have lived several lifetimes in one. Granted, some of the experience has been painful, even terrifying at times. Sometimes the Coyote person feels like shaking their head and wondering how in God's name they managed to get themselves into such a terrible mess. Yet when the dust settles and the light dawns on a new day, the Coyote person is GLAD to have had the experience. They gained far more by their risk taking than they could ever have lost, even if its just that sense of total aliveness that comes from having been to hell and back and having lived to describe the journey."

It would be easy enough to dismiss any historicial/spiritual message, particularly those missives being filtered through New-Agey sorts messing around with the appropriation (or misappropriation) of indigenous spirtualality and religions.  Yet what happens when the message resonates?  Judgment has to be tossed aside at that point -- judgment of both the message and the messenger.  Having been assigned the coyote as my spirit-animal, though at first a source of humor for me, has been eye-opening.

My greatest failures in life, if they can be called failures (because if you learn from a mistake it just may not be a mistake, no?) have come through the sin of pride and believing myself to be exceptionally clever.  My greatest successes have often come through dumb luck.  


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Monday, March 20, 2017

Sunday, March 19, 2017

It's not a metaphor.

It's just a bridge.

Prospect Park - DDATHTL

Twelve hours makes a world of difference.  It's two seasons in a single day.  I keep thinking about The Crocodiles and how they say any day can be restarted at any moment at ant time.  It's in your power, kid.  It's in your reach.  It's in your grasp.  The choice is all yours.

Raymond Pettibon - New Museum

It's a privilege to see several decades of collected works by one artist, covering a range of subjects, from war, to politics, to religion, to ... everything really.  

Trying to say more

And tell a story with fewer words.  It would be easier if photography was my forte but it really isnt.  It's point and shoot, really, and that's been the issue with my writing as well.  Both crafts require composition and composition requires clarity.  It's a question of finding the most direct path from the heart to the brain to the outside world.  We can't count on others to speak the same language or intuitively fill in the blanks.  It just doesn't work that way, any way you look at it.  You have to tell the story, at least to the point that if you're misconstrued that it's an error in their filter system and not yours.

Looking for a clearer path.

I left the house at 10:30 last night to walk, but it quickly became clear that exhaustion and lack of sleep aren't the way.  My exercise became just that.  Just exercise.  Moving the feet at a faster pace to increase the heart rate and count the seconds for a bead of sweat to roll down the canal in the middle of the back, beneath the coat.  It's still winter after all, with spring supposedly around the corner.  I was hoping for an early spring and it may yet come but this morning I find myself caring less.  It seems less important than yesterday.  There are other feelings in the way that haven't found their path to the surface.  I will, at some point, guide them to daylight, but for now they can swim around in the dark with the others.  


What do we do with feelings?

We feel them.

So what are the predominant feelings?

Off-balance, like the Earth is flat and on a tilt, even when I know intellectually that it isn't flat and it's always on some kind of a tilt.  That it's all relative.

Hunger, but it's difficult to force food past the lump in my throat.  Nil by mouth?  Perhaps just fluids.

A sadness and loneliness that seems infinite today.

We feel them.  

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Lord have mercy...

The blues... I think about how far it came from some mythic Mississippi crossroads and up through the cities, spreading epidemic and somehow it jumped all kinds of barriers and it jumped colors which is probably the hardest barrier of all, but everyone hurts deep in their soul, don't they?  And then it ends up somewhere in the rainy Northwest having been processed through urbanization and industrialization and digitization and these strange kids start grinding it out, almost unrecognizable except for the way you know it when you hear it because you don't actually hear it with your ears it's more like something reached down your throat and is pulling your heart out from behind your teeth and you just want to howl.


Just howl.

I never ever wanted to feel this way but pain doesn't make any motherfucker unique, does it?  If it did then there would be no blues at all.  Maybe one guy would have it and nobody would relate so they'd tell him to grow the fuck up and get a banjo and play a happy tune.

“The Old Man Said: One,” Carroll Arnett (Gogisgi)

Some will tell you
it doesn’t
matter. That is
a lie. Everything,
every single thing
matters. And
nothing good
happens fast.

Anyone know an electrician?

If it were only this easy.

Damn shame the weather is so shitty.  Mine need to be taken out for a long walk.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Hang a moon

That's the problem with this universe.  Too many moons and too few stars.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

All I ask of living is to...

And all I ask of dying is to, go naturally, Lord... to go naturally.

It's confounding.  The song has been stuck in my head all fucking afternoon.  It won't go away.

"I'm an alcoholic, kid.  I'm not afraid of dying.  I'm afraid of a lot of things, but dying isn't one of them.  I'm afraid of getting called in by my boss.  I'm afraid of my money running out.  I'm scared to death of women, but dying?  Not really."

That's what Bobby D said to me once, six or seven years ago when I met him.  We were talking about getting drunk and doing really stupid things.  I did my share.  His stupid things made my stupid things look like rocket science.  He lived to tell about them though.  Until now... well... until pretty soon.

I got the call a couple days ago that Bobby was up in New York Presbyterian and things were starting to fail on him. That he didn't have much time to go.  They'll be moving him out to hospice care soon.  That's another thing he confided in me that he is most of afraid of.  He told me he was scared of not being able to take care of himself.  I've made the mistake a few times though of thinking there is always more time than I imagine and I procrastinate and people shamble off this planet before I've said goodbye.  I wasn't going to do that again this time so I called in this morning and took the ride uptown to see Bobby.  He did a lot for me early on when I was trying to get my shit together.  He sat with me for hours down at the coffee spot just so I'd have someone to sit with.  He was never short of advice and sometimes it was even the most terrible fucking advice I could ask for, but he was there.  He answered 3 a.m. texts.  He took phone calls.

He was there.

He can't take care of himself now.  It may have been even more difficult for me than it was him, and how selfish is that of me?  It was hard though.  It seems I've found my greatest fear too, or one of them.  We can't all go to sleep happy and just drift away before the morning.  That's they way everyone wants to go though, if you ask them.

Ah man, Bobby.

Fucking Bobby D.

Old hard nut.

Old gangster.  Maybe the original.  Or maybe not.  I'd like to think I know/knew the original and that we are/were friends.

We talked a little.  People we know.  People who had visited since he got sick.  People that came that he would have preferred not to see.

"Fucking idiot.  Can you believe it?  I hate that fucking guy."  And he laughed a little.

I helped him clean up a bit.  I helped him take a leak.  He was visibly embarrassed but joked about it.

"The nurses should thank you.  Saves them seeing my old noodle at least once or twice."

Bobby fell asleep a few times and I sat and waited.  He'd wake up and we would talk a bit more.

"You ever think about one last drink?"  I couldn't look directly at him when I asked.

"I think about a lot of shit, kid.  I think about playing baseball a lot.  I think about getting a new car.  I think about getting laid..."  And he'd ramble into a story about one time or another in Atlantic City, and then he'd come back around to the point.

"Drinking?  Nah.  What's the fucking point?  Wouldn't mind a smoke though."

So they move him to hospice care in the next few days.  I might see him again.  I might not.  I should.  I should try.

I left and walked out onto 1st Avenue with that stupid song stuck in my head.  It followed me home like a stray mutt and it's still stuck there.  But what to do with the feelings?  I guess just feel them.  It helps to write them down.  I feel a bit lighter.  The hospital smell is still stuck in my nostrils.  It's a peculiar smell, some kind of cleanser that they must not use anywhere else in the world but no matter where you go in the world the hospitals smell like that.  I can still see all the blue veins in Bobby's wrist.  He held on to me so he could sit up a bit and piss.  He's half the size he was.

He's afraid.

I'm afraid.  For both him and me really.  We didn't talk about what comes next for him.  He's the sort of guy that will tell you he believes in a higher power but he doesn't talk about it.  He says it's personal and people should keep their ideas to themselves.  I can't disagree.

I don't want him to go.  Seems to be a lot of leaving lately anyway but I don't want him to go.  I'll be selfish that way.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Sunday, March 12, 2017

From The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

n. a state of exhaustion inspired by an act of senseless violence, which forces you to revise your image of what can happen in this world—mending the fences of your expectations, weeding out invasive truths, cultivating the perennial good that’s buried under the surface—before propping yourself up in the middle of it like an old scarecrow, who’s bursting at the seams but powerless to do anything but stand there and watch.

(This is an apt descriptor of of I've felt since this past November when I knew that the Constitution and everything good I believed could happen were going to be eviscerated before my eyes.)

Then there's this, which I'm pretty certain I've written about before:


n. the tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it—whether through envy or pity or simple foreignness—which allows it to drift away from the rest of your life story, until the memory itself feels out of place, almost mythical, wandering restlessly in the fog, no longer even looking for a place to land.

(There are events from earlier in my life that I used to want to tell people about, and tried unsuccessfully with the odd friend or lover, or odd lover, one or two very odd, but the compulsion waned with their reactions which were never aligned with what I think I wanted them to be.  I don't know what reactions I wanted. Maybe it was an explanation I was looking for, something that would make it all make sense. Having discontinued these attempts at finding reason, the events tend to ebb away into the 'other.'  Sometimes it's difficult to discern them from stories I've heard from other people, or read in novels.  It's curious though how people go blank when you use the term "profound violence."  You can see their heads trying to wrap around the words like a fajita shell around their own conceptions of what profound violence might be, and all the while you're trying to explain exactly what it is in your case, but they're lost and can't hear you.)

And finally:


n. the frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist—the same sunset, the same waterfall, the same curve of a hip, the same closeup of an eye—which can turn a unique subject into something hollow and pulpy and cheap, like a mass-produced piece of furniture you happen to have assembled yourself.

(And beyond photography to writing even this entry tonight, or speaking even.  Telling a story.  Why not a vow of silence?  What could be more crashingly dull than repeating someone else's rendition of someone else's retelling of someone else's story? How many generations is it already from the original?)



Friday, March 10, 2017

A Street In Venice

John Singer Sargent

Funny.  Almost a photograph, the man on the left looking at the woman, or at the painter/photographer.  The woman, vaguely self-conscious the way women are when you pass them on the street and they know you're looking at them but they're in their space and prefer (or know better) not to acknowledge it but the averted gaze gives them away.  They know, and feel just enough that their subtle action betrays their intent.  That's something I'll never have to deal with, as a man.  People look, but it's a safe bet that they'll never intrude on my inner space the way they will a woman.  Not even a hello, let alone a lewd comment or a catcall or a come-on.  Sargent nails this one though.  How single-minded to capture the full depth through the length of time required to paint it.  A photographer has a second to change the entire composition, or simply change their mind.  A painter has to sit in it.