Sunday, April 5, 2020

A really boring Sisyphus

Friends, I've lost something. 

I know I tend to wax metaphorical in this blog and I do love me some abstract symbolism, that's not what's happening here. 

I literally lost something, a flash drive to be specific. Not just any flash drive. A flash drive that contains many spreadsheets and records that have accumulated over the five years I've worked at my part time job. A flash drive, the existence of which, up until today, I've never needed to return to or acknowledge in all that time. A flash drive I treated with carelessness.Which was dumb of me. (I make no excuses for the chaos that inhabits my drawers, my closets, my bookshelves, basically every flat surface in my personal space.) But here's the rub: against all odds, I DID locate it in the back of of my overstuffed desk drawer this afternoon and, upon removing it from the drawer, smiling to myself that I had once again defeated all attempts by the me of the past to confound the me of the of the future, I walked into my bedroom to retrieve something else. And in the 45 seconds or so that it took to walk from my living room to my bedroom, it vanished.

I have torn my room apart, unmade my bed, moved boxes, overturned shoes, took off all of my clothes. (A few weeks ago I "lost" an earring that later turned out had been a stowaway in my bra.) Nothing. I checked under furniture, in between couch cushions, searched deeply into the eyes of my cats for a sign that they'd absconded with it to their nest of toys. Nothing. There is no explanation or probability. It has simply, suddenly, and quite maddeningly disappeared. 

Now, this isn't a tragedy; I don't mean to present it as such. The documents and files on that drive are, however time consuming and annoying, able to be retrieved elsewhere. But not without about triple the work compared to what it would take if I could simply shove it into my computer and download to my heart's content. But so what; I get paid by the hour. I'm really just confounded by the fact of its disappearance. I have, in fact, spent the last several hours intermittently saying aloud, "HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?" And there isn't, presently, an answer. Only the prospect of hours of extra work. I fully expect to spend the next few days tearing everything apart again. Over and over, in vain. Like a really boring Sisyphus.

And I can deal with all of that. I've lost things before. I lost a beloved, irreplaceable ring recently that I got in Galway. I cried for hours about that ring in the silence of my room because I felt both like an idiot for not paying closer attention and so stupid to be so sad over losing an object. (We can't all be Elizabeth Bishop, after all.) But again, where in the actual fuck could it be??

I don't know why I'm writing in here about this; it's so trivial. I'm fully aware of that. I feel the need to make that disclaimer. 

I acknowledge that we are all collectively living through an era of loss, that we've all lost something or somethings in recent weeks, by degrees, or all at once, in trickles or in a deluge, that we've lost loved ones or our ways of life or the chance to further budding relationships or the opportunity to see and hear and touch our friends and loved ones or our precious, precious uninterrupted alone time, that we're all slowly becoming so numb to losing things, even if we don't realize it yet, that I've already become so accustomed to the feeling of having lost something, it's usually unclear what, and that I fully expect my brain to prod me awake tonight at 2 or 3 a.m. as it has done for decades and that I will awake with my arms wrapped around question mark shaped anvil and I will pry my eyes open to my brain making certain I've received the particular synapse that communicates something is missing...and that all of that means more, is way more significant and important that a ridiculous piece of plastic and miniature circuit board. All of it. 

But I still just put all that down in here because though I'm not superstitious, I have been known to find things if I state aloud "I can't find (insert whatever it is that is missing)" like a very obvious and lame incantation. So here's my long winded attempt to find just one more thing I've lost. 

I'll let you know if it works. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2020


Back in the "golden", pre-Russian-owned days of Livejournal, I would update and post on my blog every single day, sometimes for consecutive months. Looking back on that type of journaling today, from the confines of my apartment in enforced quarantine, the world outside draped in malicious, piecemeal shrouds of disease, I'm fascinated by what the hell exactly I was writing about. I suspect I was gathering all the anthills I encountered throughout my day and piling them on top of each other to create one messy, dramatic, unstable and, let's be honest, mostly boring mountain. How I long to be so bored that the most fascinating thing exists in the recesses of my navel! You never know what you've got until it's threatened with a terrible illness which may or may not kill you. Isn't that the old adage?

I could, of course, easily return to my old account (it still exists, embarrassingly enough) but in the past month, I've experienced a gradual grief, hysteria, longing, loneliness, fear...I just don't need to add nostalgic cringe. All this preamble to say that I've decided to begin updating this blog just in time for me to be holed up inside the five rooms of my apartment with only the frayed wires of the internet tied around my heart and brain and eyes to connect to. That's not strictly true. I live with another person and two cats, I leave the house to do laundry and get supplies. I can see birds and the sky and the what I am certain now is an abandoned moped in the alley outside my bedroom window. Life has become both infinitesimally concentrated within walls and exploded into the outer reaches of humanity and philosophy and economies and other abstract ideas that have no end and placed them all into the world to see how we react to the results. (Is it just me, or does it feel like we're test subjects at the moment?)

I'm mostly doing this as a type of therapy. Back when I journaled regularly, I connected this way. I articulated what I couldn't say out loud, however silly or melodramatic; I miss that. I miss it most in times like this, when I want to have so much to say, but instead I have to dig around (sometimes rip it out from the root) and I find meaning in the search. I would like to find meaning in the search again.

So I guess I'm writing in here again?

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Nothing Special Happening

You wait for a bit of news with most of your body tied to a plank of splintering anxiety, rigid with most of the pain concentrated in your neck and lower back. Your brain is a pile of cold, wet spaghetti. You spend the days preceding the arrival of the news in an odd semblance of routine, rinsing and repeating and polishing up the bits of every day appearances that fall here and there. But all the while there is a light and misty fog that settles over every interaction and action and everything seems distant and undefined. And you'll get intermittent spells of panic that come on like a thunderstorm in August, your thoughts kicking up the debris that you spent most of your energy trying to hide in corners and whipping it all into a frenzy of what if life changes and it is always going to be just like this all the time... never knowing, never resting, always worried, always afraid, always anticipating. 

Then you finally, finally get to the day of the news and you raise your eyes while you still hold your breath and you can see the unbelievable clarity of blue sky beyond the ceiling of the fluorescent lights in the doctor's office, the clouds parting in majesty, the whole world hearing what she just said, what you just heard. Because the news is good. The news is so fucking good you want to put it on a plate and eat all of it with your hands and lick it from your fingertips. You want to hit the rewind button and replay it over and over again.

That's the best (and most convoluted/mixed metaphor) way to explain what it's like to hear that your loved one no longer has cancer. And that happened today. And I'm sitting in my living room on a Tuesday night with nothing special happening and I've never been more grateful for that nothing special. I want to bottle this nothing and keep it close by on a shelf, on display. I need to remember that I own this memory of nothing special happening and it being the most wonderful, awe inspiring feeling possible.

I'm currently in search of a way to pay the blessings forward and I'm taking suggestions. Is there something I can help you with, friend?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

It's Been a Minute

...or a year. Yes I realize I haven't been on here in over a year. There are a variety of reasons why, none of which seem particularly necessary to explain just now even as I sit here at my desk, thinking of something to say. I reread my previous post, dated June of 2017, wherein I said, yet again, that it had been a minute. And then it was a year's worth of minutes (525,600 plus six weeks worth of minutes) and my life got even busier than it normally gets and if you and I know each other in real life, is really quite impressive.

The truth is, I don't have time to update this blog. I don't have enough hours in the day to do all the things I want to do but sometime last spring I was feeling blue and I realized that I was quickly falling into my own private Idaho trap of working too much and not writing enough. And I missed jotting down whatever was going on and talking to you about it. I missed my own random recapping of things because as stupid as it is, it makes me laugh and good god I am usually flailing around in search of things to make me laugh.

And if I've learned anything from being in my forties, it is this: you have to make room for the things you love doing because if you don't, then your life will become a series of Things You Have to Do combined with Things That Are Done to You and almost nothing else. If you aren't one of the Chosen creatives who get to do what they love for a living, you have to shove the things you love to do in between all the other stuff, like its the empty middle seat on a rush hour subway.

Otherwise, you'll find yourself wandering the West Village one afternoon on your lunch break and you'll pass by that corner on 6th Ave and 8th st. where you got your first job in a bookstore in Manhattan at age 23. And that building will be an emptied out husk of what it was all those decades ago and you'll have a sharp memory of yourself, then, sitting in the basement of that building on another break, imagining what life would be like when you were older and more established. How you'd trade in your long commute up to your shared apartment in Washington Heights for two leisurely hours in the morning before your steady job with decent hours and how you'd write for one and read for the other and make time to explore your magical city. And the you of today will stand there, across from that building and sigh from the deepest part of your belly and head back to work, resolved to get some time, even if you had to press the mute button on the rest of world for just a moment in order to get it.

You don't want that to happen do you?

So that's what I'm currently doing. I'm eating watermelon on this as-hot-as-the-inside-of-a-person's-mouth August day and I'm writing about writing (or not writing) as a challenge to myself, training wheels for spending the rest of my middle age building my adulthood from the ground up, shifting things around and making room for the things that I enjoy doing.

 I might need pliers.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Word of the Day : June 21, 2017


noun | doo-EN-day

: the power to attract through personal magnetism and charm

Oh hey. It's been a minute over here. Just about two months to be inexact. I'm able to say with certainty that I don't remember much of the month of May...I kind of hacked my way through 31 days with a dull machete. What I'm less certain of is whether I wanted to kill my darlings or just declutter them. In looking at the physical state of my bedroom, the unflappable barometer of my state of mind in years past, I see that I definitely did not declutter them. And that I could use a soul cleanse. And a vacuum.

May brought me some good things without me having to try very hard: a new group of creative friends, the chance to meet Matthew Weiner, hearing Father John Misty back dip his way through his oeuvre, watching Glenn Close get ready for her close up. And it also brought me some health problems and seemingly endless visits to specialists I didn't even know existed. Most of those issues either resolved themselves or my brain decided to sign a peace accord with them. The end result is that now, when my heart skips a beat or two, I can pretend I'm crushing on someone as opposed to wondering if I told my loved ones where to find my life insurance paperwork.

And then I blinked and it was June and I've done little but work. I've been eating cherries for two weeks and I had a coquito from a street cart and still didn't realize the time of year. I woke up feeling like I should be paying more attention. So that's what imma do.

Later this week, the wind blows me back via Chicago for a library conference. I have been going through my usual preparations: musing over the crying shame of travel toothpaste pricing, trying on every article of clothing I own in the process of packing while trying to look professional and non-sweaty enough to do business with, checking and rechecking and rechecking the departure time of my flight from JFK like it was the lap bar on a roller coaster in ascent, girding my brain in preparation to be outgoing and social and other things that are anathema to my personality. It's been exhausting. And I haven't left yet!

Part of my preparations involve creating new business cards for myself. These conferences present every opportunity for amassing a collection of tiny squares of glossy cardstock bearing name, rank and serial number of fellow professionals. There's so many people to see. So many people you can check up on and add to your collection. And so I feel pressed to do my part, when in reality I would just like to write the word DUENDE on a card and have it be activated by the receiver upon reading, leaving them with the impression that I was magnetic and charming while I just stand there and eat an hors d'ouerve. Instead, I spent a good two of the wee hours of the morning choosing a background and grappling with a font and a title for myself that included the roughly 1.5 million things I do for a living and for labors of love. I still await their two day delivery because it wouldn't be me if I didn't do menial tasks in a manic (internally, of course) frenzy. Considering the responsibility they carry as tiny for your consideration tokens from a stranger meant to remind you of your brief time together, it merits some thought, I suppose. Just ask Patrick Bateman.

And speaking of tokens of time together, on my way into Manhattan for a movie yesterday, I rode the long train tracks from Elmhurst to midtown in relative silence and seated across a man who made eye contact with me exactly once. At the end of 30 minutes or so, it was his stop and before exiting the train he stood in front of me, not saying a word but gave me his card. On it was the name of a construction business with the name and number crossed out and his name "Joseph" and his phone number written with a thick sharpie over it. I don't know if Joseph didn't have a card of his own or if he just wanted to give me his number and had nothing else to write on but, and I'm positive this says more about me than anything I could tell you in person, the only reaction I had was that he should have used a red sharpie and he should have gone with Helvetica.

And just because this song is in my head now, here it is for your head, now.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Way Home

I've been off caffeine for nigh on six weeks. As many of you may or may not have experienced firsthand, the withdrawal and subsequent life without caffeine can attest, the world is weird without caffeine. At first the world is unbearable without it, then comes the bizarre. In fact, I imagine that I have approached the last few weeks, with all its absurdity, sorrow, and seasonal changeover with a look and attitude of moderate nonplus. And more than dozens of times I've thought, "This would be a good time for coffee." I had a dream about coffee the other night. It was served to me with lots of cream and sugar, a way I would never drink it in waking life (black and strong for me, please.) In the dream I drank and drank from a seemingly bottomless cup while the person who sat across from me laughed like a loon. I think it might be the opening scene of my afterlife, whenever that movie begins production. But I learn to cope every day. I have also not had an alcoholic drink in about six weeks, not counting a few sips here and there to try a few gorgeous cocktails in New Orleans or at Fatty's that friends and family indulge in. Lest you think me on a quest for some kind of small town nobility via teetotaler status, let me disavow that with a quickness. I long to drink even one full drink. I'm not noble. I'm just sick and need to figure out what is up before I start putting literal poison into my brain and enjoying life again.

Speaking of enjoying life, I asked myself to be included in my own life this year as a resolution and NYC has so far provided a bounty. I've been scheduling so much to do (maybe a little too much) but I've even rekindled my love for riding the subway to work. I've opened my eyes again and, to quote a favorite band of my youth...the subway, she is a porno.

The other morning on my way to work I had my headphones in and I was observing the scenic view outside the underground R train (have you seen what they are doing with darkness these days??) when a young man saddled up next to me and started talking. I didn't hear him but was feeling a bit listless so I took out my earbuds and what followed was a convoluted conversation involving him asking for directions to Astoria Blvd, a location that lay in the opposite direction. When I explained this to him he said,

"I'm trying not to go backward in my life. I just want to go forward."

Having expressed a similar sentiment myself, I told him that it was admirable, but it just wouldn't help him get to where he needed to at that moment and that sometimes it is good to take a break from hovering over the toilet bowl of anxiety and take care of practical, real life concerns. Like getting off the subway and getting home. To which he countered,

"I'm kinda drunk right now. No, I'm really drunk right now. Have you ever been this drunk? If I stay on this train, will I go to Spain? I've always wanted to go to Spain. What's your name?"

I told him. He was affronted. "Do you want to know my name or no?" Why so so many people in New York ask questions as ultimatums? Do you want this or NO? Would you like to get a coffee with me or NO? Like the alternative to your choices are always given up front. It puts pressure on me to choose the positive, not the "or no." I think that's just me.

"Sure, what's your name?"

"Sundeep." He pointed upwards, "Like, sun." And then he pointed downwards. "Like, deep. Sundeep. You're cute."

"Thanks, Sundeep. You need water. And to get off this train and go in the opposite direction."

"Yeah, ok. But I need to get to Astoria Blvd."

Before it became a scene from Joseph Heller's Catch-22, (Help the drunkard-dear?) it was blessedly time for me to get of the train. I'll never know if Sundeep made his way back to Astoria Blvd, rode that train to JFK and got a plane ride to Spain, or just passed out and traversed Queens that day. But I did get to remind myself the merits of going back in an old direction sometimes. Sometimes, it is the only way home.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Broken Gyroscope?

Opening the window for a new entry on the cracked earth of this blog puts me on edge. But just now as I was debating which one of my jobs I should be working on, which recent memory I should be specifically avoiding, how best to circle the drain of my writing aspirations...I find myself returning to this space, like a splintered boomerang. No, I mean like a bruised homing pigeon. An off-kilter gyroscope?

Life has been unspooling at regular length and speed, it is only that my perception is hyper focused on the task at hand. And by task at hand, I mean whatever is going on at the very moment directly in front of me. I have terrible eyesight and without glasses or contacts, I am forced to press my face directly in front of whatever I wish to see clearly. That's how I'm approaching everything in life right now: bringing it all close to my face and observing everything I need to before things become illegible, blurred out, or disappear completely.

Because things have been disappearing. My dear friend and cat Greta Girl Marie died on Friday after a long battle with liver lymphoma. Over the last eight months or so, I kept repeating in my head that I was borrowing too much time. That when it came time to give it all back, it was going to slice me clean through. After Thelma died suddenly, and after the sorrow that felt like it would break me completely last fall, I was hanging on to every second with that cat, willing my brain to take over and understand that it could happen any moment. I thought maybe I could feel better equipped to let go. I was wrong. It wasn't any easier.

I've been trying to apply that focus to remembering all the unfettered joy, the unironic purity that can only come from bonding with an animal that was mine for too short awhile. Like when Greta girl found the tiniest corner on top of the fridge in my Patchogue apartment when I first brought her home and sat there silently as I combed everywhere to look for her. Or how it never mattered what the object was, but if it was lying flat on the floor, she'd sit atop it. Purses, half folded boxes, bills, freshly laundered shirts. It was her world; I just lived in it.

There are few places sadder than the emergency room of an animal hospital. I could live the rest of my life happy if I knew I'd never have to sit in one of those windowless rooms, a beloved friend cradled in my arms right before she disappears to the other side of whatever this shitpile of a world is.

It hasn't been a full week yet but I have lived lifetimes every day since. Sometimes, my empty house is an afterthought, sometimes the main event. I had insured them both and I just now got the final emails for claims (euthanasia is covered by insurance...we are much nicer to our pets than we are to ourselves it would seem) and because my heart shakes and pounds and skips and is now literally, physically dysfunctional, it palpated when I read the emails. I actually heard it jolt out of rhythm as though it were afraid I had fallen asleep to missing her and I needed reminding. Well, disembodied heart, I don't need reminding.

Greta Marie 2008- 4/7/2017

In the next life, my friend...