Saudade, something like it.

April 26, 2012 § 1 Comment

I feel homesick but not for any particular home. In fact, it’s closer to a feeling of homesickness for the feeling of homesickness.

All I want is something to look forward to. I think that would do the trick. But the future is like the desert in Utah. You reach one ridge, thinking you’ve reached the edge of something, only to find another ridge. Eventually you realize there are no edges and there are no somethings. There is only an endless range of ridges. How do you come to love these?

It isn’t that you tire, exactly, of the smell of juniper. It’s just that at some point you’d like a glass of gin.

Sometimes my mother asks me what happened, because I used to be so happy and go lucky. What happened was that when I came upon the outside wall of the world, instead of climbing it or trying to go around or calling up to see if someone might come to a window, I pounded my fists upon it and cried until the wall fell on top of me and it was very heavy and in many pieces and I was very small. I have been stuck under this debris, listening to the footsteps of others as they cross over, ever since, it seems. The worst part is the wall came down before I could see what was on the other side.

There ought to be moments at least. One would like to believe at least in moments. Today Samuel Barber came on the radio and it snowed outside for exactly the same length of time as Adagio for Strings. I recognized the beauty of this bit of kismet. But how do you enjoy something while you count down the measures? Maybe I have been alone too long, because I can think of nothing but paradoxes, which are sort of prima facie sad.


A sanctuary is a state of mind.

April 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

The sound of an owl in the daytime. A pulled muscle in the chest and the fear of heart failure. The difference between an expected melody and an expectant one. The paradox of an obscure word experiencing popularity, like tittle or skeuomorph. The wonder whether a tittle is a skeuomorph. The wonder weather. The desire to be named a verb and the question of if that would make that verb a noun or a gerund or what. The fear of being alone and the anxiety of not. The endless quest to not be bored which is itself boring. The way that depression can occur as a wave like a nausea. Wanting to be taken seriously but the wariness of being serious. The wariness and the weariness and the worriedness. The technology that gets in between you and I. A half-hearted craving of something fleeting but pleasant and possibly bad for you. The soporific effect of the words ‘bad for you.’ The feeling that when you are sad you are the only sad person in the world and that makes you sadder still. The want to be anywhere but here except for there. The despair of knowing that even remembering a happiness cannot bring about the feeling. Loss. The inability sometimes to tell if the top of a mountain is snow or cloud covered. The site of an ancient sacred something. The feeling that there is nothing sacred but ancientness. A death by television. When your thoughts seem a miasma moved by a very slow wind.

It was an island, in a way, more of a mass, a swamp, still it sustained trees, out there in the middle of the Mississippi. It was called Beaver Island but there were no beavers there. We would boat there and swing from a rope out into the river and we would play a dangerous game where we would swim out just far enough to feel the undertow start to tug at our toes before we would swim back. Was it youth or the certainty of heaven or the quotidian nature of drowning in the river when you lived on it that drove us to play that game? Perhaps if I could just answer that question, I could learn to be braver now.

Every experience is a life or death experience.

April 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

My childhood neighbor died last night in his apartment, of natural causes. He was 29. 29. He was an actuary. I don’t think he probably took a risk in his whole life. And yet, he is dead, at just 29 years old.

I am 27. I should have died a hundred times by now. I should have died when I hit that cow in my Toyota Camry. I should have died when I took that bad e or when I woke up in my own vomit after passing out on the floor. I should have died when I got lost in the remote desert. I should have died when I drove across North Dakota in the middle of February. I should have died every time I mixed a dangerous amount of Old Crow and benzodiazepines. I should have died that time I locked myself in a freezer chest when I was seven. I should have died that time my high school girlfriend and I took a curb at 120 mph in the rain and flew off the road.

I do not know what it would take to convince me that the stochasticity of existence has a bright side. Even if you believe in things, the randomness has still got to get you down. Because there is no sense. And there is no planning. And your thoughts are neither here nor there and still you are forced to have them. To be is a valueless thing, a tabula rasa. And what would you fill it with to make it pleasant or good or meaningful? When even making dinner plans doesn’t seem altogether philosophically sound? How do you experience happiness when there is no way to reason your way to it? What is this magical syllogism that unfurrows your brow and let’s you smile at the sky and live for a whole minute without listening to your heartbeat and thinking that one day it will simply stop?

He used to ride a unicycle around our circle drive when we were kids. There’s something profound there, but I haven’t a clue what it is.

Pockets In Our Skin

April 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

No one seems to want to die alone. But of course we all do die alone, as dying is something, by its nature, prima facie, maybe a priori, you must do alone. And this isn’t just about assuming a sort of solipsism; there is something more isolated about experiencing death, even dying in the arms of your lover, than say going to the fair with your lover. Yes, you technically experience both of these alone in the sense that we can each only experience ourselves. But there is a togetherness in going to the fair, a sum somehow, that doesn’t translate to dying.

Maybe it’s because you can’t talk about it afterwards. The debrief is such a pillar of happy relationships. The ability to work out outside of ourselves the past, to process, to comprehend the odd thing that happened at the party or the good sex or the national crisis. If I were god or the first particle that set our present winds to gust and our atoms to swarm, I would have made death a two part ordeal – death and then death. A special gene perhaps, a physiological phenomenon. Maybe not even all of you would come back. Maybe only your brain and your face. But a bit of you would wake back up, if only for a few moments, just so you could say, “Wow. How about that dying?” And maybe have a scotch and maybe a laugh about it. And maybe one more hug.

If I were god I also would have given humans pockets in their skin, for storing things when we didn’t want to wear clothes.

I-80 always feels like home to me.

April 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

Tell me again about the skies over Elko. Yes, I meant that in the plural. And how you bought whiskey at Wal-Mart and a sandwich at Subway, the special of the month, because you should always get the special you always say. Why? Well, because it’s special. Of course. QED. And you paid for all of it in change. Granted, the whiskey was cheap. And how you missed everyone. But you were not yet lonely. Not quite yet. Because the wind was so high. And the sky so large. Yes, I meant that in the singular that time. And the check-out guy at Wal-Mart so nice. Even though you were buying just a bottle of whiskey with change. Maybe that’s why he was so nice. Because people in Elko understand that kind of thing, you told me. Because the wind there is so high. And because of the skies. The skies change everything. They can’t make you smart but they can make you empathetic. Wind-weathered and sober-kind, that’s how you described Elko.

There are towns you talk about and towns you don’t. How did you decide which was which? Did you? Hartford, for example, how come you never talk about Hartford? It doesn’t have the Elko skies, but I know it had the girl that would kiss you. I know you took the bus there just for those kisses. Isn’t that worth talking about? I know you used to eat minute rice back then. Is that it? Are you embarrassed because of the minute rice thing? You shouldn’t be. I haven’t been to Elko, but I too have an empathy and a sober-kindness. The only thing you’ve ever told me about Hartford is that you went to the Mark Twain house and at the gift shop they sold Mark Twain brand bottled water. You said you’d like to know what Mark Twain would have to say about that. Or rather, how he would say what he had to say about that.

No, we don’t have to talk about Hartford. Tell me again about the skies over Elko. Tell me about the clerk at Wal-Mart who said that in Elko you could touch the sky. Tell me about how you wanted to say that aren’t you always touching the sky no matter where you are, aren’t you always in the sky? But you didn’t. Because sometimes there is a difference between a fact and the truth.

Where Am I?

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