i wonder if i want to say these things over again
funny how time passes, how many minutes there are in a year, how all that matters is who is living your minutes with you—this gap between the published/made knowable and the actually lived…privacy shattered, an invitation to be seen
Mikhail Baryshnikov // “When a dancer comes on stage, he is not just a blank slate…Behind him he has all the decisions he has made in life…You are looking at the person he is, the person who, at this point, he cannot help but be… Exceptional dancers, in my experience, are also exceptional people…people with an attitude toward life, a kind of quest…They know who they are and they show this to you, willingly.”
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lights and music, form and shape, culture (one individual opening up, letting themselves be part of the whole, and understanding the resistance to wanting to stay protected, familiar, holding back
(GPL 9/21/22) a wet signature; in Japan I’ve heard some artists draw on rocks with water, knowing it dries, it’s temporary, it’s a way to live, rather than the anxiety machine of MacBooks and iPhones where nothing lasts and the present is always a hole in the shape of your oldest and others’/all our ancient wounds—this leads us right into music, not just recorded music but listening, inventing, accepting that the Present is old and never ends; you had to love life and death first, before you loved somebody
i wonder why i didn’t care to stay
it was a year almost exactly later (three days ago) i flew back one-way; it isn’t my home, i didn’t care to “make it work” which means make enough money to pay rent (oh, is my purpose to become sick of thinking about money so i can turn the thing around? can i defeat being killed by life? no; i can’t defeat life, can’t outsmart it, am not very clever — an artist is paid not for his labor but for his vision; I do cleave to my exhaustion and cannot be rushed, am happy to mysteriously drop out and move home where they have to take me in when I am at the end of my rope, unable to believe or make up a story about where things are going and if there will be love for me there; it is not simple to say or know what I have been running from if I have been running; it is a psychological war against presence, rather than surrendering to it and letting instinct take over, but I am tired of artists and writers who are making stuff up; I am less impressed and fascinated with creative adults; adults are boring, I am so weary of everything I could call real—maybe just everything human; nature is fine, solitude is fine, walking around is fine, happy to die, mostly have seen earth and experienced my body and don’t care to stick around for aging necessarily (am I just depressed, and have much muddy water to run out of the pipe? Perhaps; this is of course not art, it is sharpening pencils, praying to your same old God again; it will be a while before I am clever strategically and somehow turn my soppy bruised tomato of a heart into something good again; I don’t believe I deserve to live: economically I am useless, I am dead weight, a burden; this isn’t true and won’t ever be revisited; everyone is writing and talking, posting and organizing their outbursts, everyone on a word processing device contemplating the functioning of their own brains, talking about what they perceive, not unlike children // so the art world doesn’t really impress me, adults defended by intellect and clothing
it turned out I didn’t care to live in New York City after all; if more money appeared I would; I don’t need to be there, I live simply, quietly, and don’t need the stimuli or access to “the game” of the art world, the literary world, by which I mean grownup children striving for being loved and wanted through their efforts of work and appearing ~ bless the strivers, but it turned out I mostly stayed inside writing, then going for walks and people-watching, not really interested in making friends or getting involved, so living in New York didn’t make sense; I borrowed/accepted money from family to pay rent while I methodically executed my unprofitable routines; maybe it will take longer for me to find a way of sharing my soul with the world so that my inner speech makes its way out; it’s there, it’s here, it’s hidden, I don’t point to it clearly but I keep it orderly, it’s able to be clicked — I am letting you navigate my mind like I am trying to; of course you are mired in your own muck; hello, fellow insect, bird, fish, mammal, alive and awake on earth today again; let us be like birds and chirp, and announce to each other, we made it through the night.
a place is just a place (6/7/22)
I fell in love again / all things go, all things go
maybe write only what bears worth repeating / then what shall we say? writing is a way to rediscover the texture and breadth of silence and possibility / that was easy to say but/and it’s pretty nice; see how hard it was to choose between ‘but’ and ‘and’? I wonder why? ah, more mysteries and unknowns keep appearing ~ that was abstract; ah, how to follow your thinking out beyond the acceptable and the rational; writing as a place to fall into and flail, dance, remember, figure out what you think you know, where you test what you believe you will actually do
perhaps I am at my limitation: trying to pull the past up to the present, trying to lean on my old tricks and not succeeding; trying to debunk and destroy the FEAR VOICE in my head; or, just trying to do the thing I say I do: thrash my spiritual development out loud — but I didn’t even update the post below, I just spaced it out, and it isn’t designed or edited well (there are editors and designers who could know me; is every day an 8,000-brain-cycle journey back to other people and the real world? Why am I separated? This reminds me of something else:
“It was through the discovery and exploration of the unconscious that Freud made his major discoveries, chief among them that from birth to death we are, every last one of us, divided against ourselves. We both want to grow up and don’t want to grow up; we hunger for sexual pleasure, we dread sexual pleasure; we hate our own aggressions—anger, cruelty, the need to humiliate — yet they derive from the grievances we are least willing to part with. Our very suffering is a source of both pain and reassurance. What Freud found most difficult to cure in his patients was the resistance to being cured.”
― Vivian Gornick
already i can tell who i’m gonna want to leave out; i don’t want to tarnish my Medium posts though no one is clicking my “link in bio” ~ nothing will save me but me; i must get out of fear and into hope, optimism (oh God, the words just keep filling my head; ugh, if only I could stay what I was but I can’t, time disrupts the ledger — of course this can be archived later, edited out; appearing will not save me — this is a fever dream courting both salvation and death; I want to be relieved of interviewing myself and shipping the pieces to disparate solitudes; maybe my problem is I don’t have a real life: I committed to a life as a floating eyeball in the cloud and I hate what I have committed my life to; but where could I file for divorce? There is no ribbon to cut, button to cut, house to tear down, nothing: no quench, no satisfaction: only the chance to keep making art and sharing it with people, lightening one person’s burden, because it’s probably harder for them to live and show up and keep telling themselves the story of a future that’s gonna unfold as the sun rises and sets and we’ve agreed on a calendar ~ this unfurling of mine is not beautiful, it is not art just because I need to confess it to the afternoon when I was supposed to go outside and Be Happy because I am following my dreams but instead it makes me sick because I really have no good reason to keep writing and doing art, following my thoughts to the edge of a cliff and taking flight (but for some reason I think Keep Writing is the only way I can possibly go, or the only way I find out what I actually need to do next; there’s a certain pleasure of certainty, of knowing there’s a way to do things ~ of having other men to consult about the best way to do something, i.e. experts, e.g. what DMV paperwork to file, how to sell a car, how to do a thing that can be done the right way, as opposed to My Work which is soul work, excavation of an unknown and never-before-seen angel statue waiting beneath miles of dread and dreck I must drill through, pierce and suck up the broken bones
anyway, I pulled this out from a Word document from my files called 9.14.18 Full Project Update because in 12 days I am moving back to New York, am staying with a friend for 7–10 days and don’t know what I’m going to do after that to stay alive, where I’ll live, how work or money will work, but I plan on bringing more blank paper than books, a typewriter, camera, laptop, phone, minimum viable clothes; it’s terrifying but also liberating, the trust fall I have been daring myself to take (it’s a place I’m interested in failing: I didn’t really care to “make it work” in San Francisco in August 2018 when I got fired from my last full-time job because I couldn’t keep up, because I didn’t want to, because I didn’t have to ~ oh, the slow work of making yourself desperate and honest on the page (this is the place) ~ I believe in myself but in my own language; are people/readers rested enough to take in this creativity that might not be the truth, might not be clean, could be professionally edited before it makes contact with your precious consciousness? But consciousness is all around us, is evergreen, like money and poetry: it is everywhere and all times.
OK, here is the thing, let me clean it up a little.
05. To New York City
reread and skimmed 7/26 8:26am (16 pages) (what year? ah, depends on the reader: what is their context? what have they forgotten? how long ago is this? is there such a thing as “a long time ago”? Why wouldn’t there be? Ah, now I must describe why we’re different
“We fall in love for a smile, a look, a shoulder. That is enough; then, in the long hours of hope or sorrow, we fabricate a person, we compose a character.”
Back to work after dinner
This picture is a lot like the one I took in Prospect Park in the snow with all the colorful parkas
[hahaha, that tweet has been deleted]
maybe trying to repost this and failing is proof I can’t go back to the past; am I always trying to escape the present? Now I’m speaking in words too large; writing is a laboratory for failing, and for some reason like I fly I go toward the light
Finding it tonight reminds me how powerful my history is to me. I want to give but it can’t be on anyone else’s terms. I can’t fit in to their wants. I give what I give, and I give it with love, but I can’t be queried (of course, I am excited about making a living and working with people who want to work with me — this takes just being upfront about my services, abilities, skills and what work product and outcome I can deliver — I must have technical depth and be interested enough to know I will go back every day, Monday, Sunday, Thursday, Tuesday, Saturday, Wednesday. Friday I can go easy; I can match the people, be with the people; Whiskey Fridays!
“In bed that night I invented a special drain that would be underneath every pillow in New York, and would connect to the reservoir. Whenever people cried themselves to sleep, the tears would all go to the same place, and in the morning the weatherman could report if the water level of the Reservoir of Tears had gone up or down…”
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close Quotes
591 quotes from Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: 'Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the…
New York thrives on stealing/creating, destroying and reinventing better than others who could take your spot
New York is for outgrowing your position, managing up and down
competition and collaboration simultaneously
being likable strategically
being alone within and against the world
looking (like someone more) established
like someone they can trust
see, if you
the perfect lie,
the sensors never
I flew, commuted and slept on a couch;
I ran through a park with a warm hat on;
I walked up five flights of stairs, cutting back and forth; I took a shower and borrowed body wash without asking
I toweled off in the corner
barefoot on the hardwood, sneaking around the dust piles
I got clad in stripes and skinny tie
looking myself up and down, the sexual object primed for performance and perception
I was interviewed in a serious glass cube by
an articulate pair of interlocutors protecting the integrity of the culture, trying to build it without fucking it up
I debriefed on a call afterward in a park next to the office, a patch of dirt that might be important later
I went out for dinner and expensive drinks with lawyers, the stock celebration for a job well done
at Tompkins Square Bagels, my cousin asks, “Well what do you do on the weekends?” after I asked him first
I stumbled to answer: “reading,” but admitted that I don’t retain everything I read
I clutched my bagel sandwich; he sensed unease, assuring me, “This isn’t a job interview, man.”
I went to the New York Public Library and haphazardly clicked links for two hours. I was still uncomfortable being myself.
I walked across the lawn in Central Park and got the email saying I got the job.
Right where it starts it ends
Then we start the end
A visible illusion
Love like a sunset
I’d be joining a good company: a diverse troupe of young, driven, creative, ambitious, quirky hustlers who will force the best out of me. The salary is $32,500
if 70 other people were doing it, I suppose I’d figure it out
I’d given myself nine days to find a place to live. I was crashing on a different friend’s couch while I got my affairs in order. All day and night I scoured Craigslist
see, my problem is I scroll through this and don’t touch the words, I only monitor the shape of how it goes down
The seven-bedroom industrial loft in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, inhabited by a cast of characters that sounded fictional. The main landlord was a war photographer, currently abroad in Mali; his girlfriend, a graphic designer from Barcelona; a brusque Australian woman who fought for social justice; a bearded and often-drunk man from Berlin who managed a restaurant; a surfer girl from California; a literary-minded small brunette French girl here on foreign exchange and then a dude just like me. I’d sleep on a mattress thrown on the carpeted area beneath a closet bar. All seven of us would share a bathroom. I figured if they’re making this arrangement work, just as the employees at my new company made the salary work, I could too.
I signed the lease, paid the handsome sum and brought a six-pack of California microbrew to celebrate our new friendship. We drank them and laughed. I got an unfortunate email the next day. The war photographer, busy in Africa turning murder into art, told his girlfriend in an email that he didn’t think I was a good fit. His girlfriend replied to the email but sent it to me: “So should we just lie to him?” I met her at the front door that night and she sheepishly handed me my money. The beers were gone and could not be returned. So I found a new roommate
Akim Funk Buddha & The Urban Orchestra
another man in the arena ~ maybe equanimity and community are what I’m after, but no community can be verified enough; doubt is our breakfast, lunch and dinner — this is what it is:
“Every set of phenomena, whether cultural totality or sequence of events, has to be fragmented, disjointed, so that it can be sent down the circuits; every kind of language has to be resolved into a binary formulation so that it can circulate not, any longer, in our memories, but in the luminous, electronic memory of the computers. No human language can withstand the speed of light. No event can withstand being beamed across the whole planet. No meaning can withstand acceleration. No history can withstand the centrifugation of facts or their being short-circuited in real time (to pursue the same train of thought: no sexuality can withstand being liberated, no culture can withstand being hyped, no truth can withstand being verified, etc.).”
― Jean Baudrillard, The Illusion of the End
Within hours of moving in I was shoveling a six-ounce blueberry yogurt into the maw with a spoon from the 1980s tenant. He mentioned our plates were from when he moved in 10 years ago.
I notice that the cat is clawing and climbing up the mountain of my things, my boxes pushed together, a tent, a sleeping pad; a life unloaded from a backseat now a heaping pile on the floor.
I peeked around the corner while leaned against the fridge, watching performing artists by way of mirrors on the living room wall.
burnt crumbs near the microwave oven
an oven mitt from 1981
hot plate, no stove, full-length mirrors
hardwood floor dance studio complete with Chinese New Year dragon heads, woven straw hat from Africa, twelve dusty boom-boxes, a disco ball that during a certain span of spring refracted the sun’s light into a thousand spots on the ceiling and walls. There’s also a James Brown ceramic statue, plastic bins of Geisha kimonos, umbrellas, shelves of CDs and VHS tapes, shelves behind tapestry cloths full with notebooks of hastily written appointment ideas, pages creased and yellowed by 20 years’ time; the African straw hat from Lesotho
the job involved observing the Internet population and encouraging their willing engagement with our brands’ thumbnails’ content and commentary. The “community manager,” the instigator of social chain reactions, is to eat, sleep, speak and breathe the brand identity. They’re to speak to fans from afar, from the 16th floor, never revealing the human behind the logo
“CMs”, twentysomethings, often with humanities degrees, are given barely livable salaries in open-office layouts on 15th and 16th floors in large American cities. We are the daily voice of American corporate brands (who need peppy millennials to make them interesting) as corporations on their own are factories of the same frozen data they’ve been selling for years. They enlist ad agencies to give them color, sound and movement. We CMs hold consumers’ heartbeat in our hands, one bad keystroke away from toppling the brand, balance sheets ruined, a PR nightmare.
They gave me the blinking cursor they took so long to build
I could breathe as the sixth largest company in the world
Consumers who Like the page are led to believe they’re talking to the brand
the guise of care and concern when it’s really assholes and idiots all the way down
getting a mythical “people” from A to B, take them on a consumer journey by transfixing them with a string of words and a carefully arranged rectangle of colored blocks
then a mere human who’s a brand manager
attends a meeting our people arrange
and she judges whether the work is good enough
little branded empires
run by faux missionaries
whose daytime goal is to nudge distant viewers into believing in their version of a better future for the customer instead of attempts by competitors
I witness sons and daughters do this work, the showing up in dreamt of shoes to clomp on marble tiles
everyone on a cell phone
talking to and about something somewhere else
the opportunity for intimacy is all around us
yet where are we looking? Fuck, I’m so aware of every individual’s freedom to choose what to think about, how to nourish their consciousness
but we enlist ourselves in “work”
God, I hated the word but loved the feeling of having gone to the gym at 6am and pushing doors open by 9
it starved me, killed me, nourished me
it gave me an us
Visit the Facebook page for an orange juice or a cracker. Read those comments. Meet those fans. A brand is no more human than a mechanical fusion of impersonal metal pins, obscured by numbers and faces, a scrambled signal of whitewashed fun to dizzy the “user” into continuous consumption: keep buying, clicking, eating, sending; we’re listening to all of it and you are so beautiful, so loved
formulaic engagement and endearment tactics employed like the demagogues leading the Catholic Church of old: powerful men in rooms closed by thick wooden doors, calmly discussing how best to control the herd considering their implicit trust in the messages we give
For each brand there’s a sweet girl waking up in a shoebox apartment in Brooklyn who straightens her hair while checking her email, dressing in a series of affordable but cute outfits with a curling iron on the dresser, bracelets and chunky necklaces hung from antique-looking hooks, framed pictures of college friends, inspirational quotes framed in artful typefaces or printed on a matchbox, delicately laid there on the dressing table in the cozy bedroom painted pastel colors, blues and purples, the lightness of being.
She dabs on foundation, pushing the chemicals into the pores of her face, eats cereal, brings salad in a Ziploc square, a traveler mug of coffee leaving some behind that turns cold, walks to her subway, huddled by the platform edge clawing their briefcases.
sweet girls get dressed, commute
sit at their desks doing emails
everything they do is important because they’re growing
the ideal is a dog, hikes, Netflix, boyfriend, garden parties, Instagram affirmation
she makes a career of acting as those brands because she gets to articulate why her brand is worthy of love, attention, affection, admiration — all the things she didn’t get in childhood, she can get in the workplace and the global economy
Recent college grads have few other choices; this is what they can offer the economy. The agency benefits from their inability to command a higher price for their hours of sweet attention. It will be this way for a decade, a glaringly large business opportunity for a visionary to strike and build a company — it will be a 1,000-person operation by 2015.
I moved to New York for the pain, to walk great distances in discomfort, to groan schlepping thirty pounds of groceries, to itch out the grit between your sandals and your toes, tripping on the curb, pasta sauce shattered in a plastic bag, everyone watching, lowering sunglasses down the bridge of nose with two fingers;
to be hot and sticky and have no salvation
to experience hunger and thirst, to contemplate subway turnstile hoppers, to be discomforted at all the imperfection
crawling men in tattered clothes, twisted like a pretzel on the ground, disregarded
contemplate that hunger, that thirst
to stand still in the cold out of empathy
vocal cords drying up
the disappearing middle class, living their short, busy lives upon the pavement
so tired, they’ve paid in blood
On a street corner in SoHo, I figured out a New York thesis for creators:
create; that’s all. Everything else will fall into place. Stay hovered above the verb as often as possible; for me it’s Send, but Sending to no one is a key function. Listen, talk back, be something to others, strengthen the chosen relationships daily, hourly; think of them as much as you think about what you do. Like and comment, that’s how we’re human; we express preference.
Get good at scheduling; see scheduling as art. Calling to ask if they can meet up is ART; read their reply with a quiet mind. Take advantage of the distance afforded by phones. Respond with a full heart when your heart is done elsewhere; creators live mostly elsewhere; they love things that can’t love them back*.
^ I don’t know what love means (disclaimer)
Show yourself to others and you will become who you’re supposed to be. As we say in Italy, “ci facciamo sempre conoscere.” (We always make ourselves known.)
“If you bring out what is in you, what you bring out will save you. If you fail to bring out what is inside you, what you fail to bring out will destroy you.”
— Gnostic Gospel of St. Thomas
emerge from your solitude and show what you’ve found
beware the approval of friends who’d never dispute you
“If one does not absorb everything, one loses oneself completely. The mind must be greater than the world and contain it.”
— Andre Gide
Curation is the New Originality
There is a much bigger gap between knowledge and wisdom than we give credence to online and IRL
there’s a world we can visit if we go outside
we can follow the road
When you’re not creating, eat cheap, healthy and convenient, e.g. Subway five-dollar foot longs on wheat bread, no cheese, as much lean protein and as many raw vegetables as the staff will let you get away with; build a working rapport with those who feed you
you’ll benefit from having such casual and geo-fenced relationships that cause no stress, that don’t touch the spheres of life beyond the four walls of the establishment; read and write between sandwich-halves. Hydrate, always be working through and refilling a jug of water. Go to the gym as often as your muscles can take it.
Your ideal state is inbox zero on all tended social inboxes, caffeinated, fed, worked out and in forward motion, attuned to notifications and updates but knowing they can be the background drip.
Creating is not entertainment or social; you have to work 50% harder than everyone else; you need 3 screens: work, money, love. No one else can know or care about your job; no one really cares what you think; no one cares about your inner life; no one else is here with you when you’re with yourself
re: Notifications, don’t stop when they appear; let ’em pile up
and when enough obstacles have been darted past, hop your train over to another track
without losing speed
and crush and hack to inbox zero and get back to nourishing your inner voice
become the calculus: God, money, time
Keep hacking away at the inessential
Sleep a little and keep going
Walk the streets bobbing your head, rapping
what else is there but to rap lyrics you feel like repeating
become more like the original, the thing in you summoning lyrics to your soul
don’t stop being the freak that you are
the moment is still ripe to peel the topmost layer off
revealing fresh meat never before seen
type when you’re happy
type when you’re sad
be what you are and let the mirror decide
let time take its toll
play with privacy and visibility
play with trust
learn trust by trusting people and systems
put your past on the line
a lovely place to lean and write, standing in the stairwell of a bar resting my elbows on the railing halfway down the stairs, eye-level with the dance floor
I peer through the bars and see…oh god…it’s an all-office happy hour full of sheepish men in suit jackets standing around, forcing conversations
the sweetest girl in the room was the one “captaining” karaoke from a swivel chair off the dance floor, talking into the microphone looking at her phone
her body language telling us she knows how dumb her job is
Single people flock to bars the way they do online,
to browse the market of potential connection
through the safe gaze of handling boxes
with no weight
your arms don’t get tired
your stomach doesn’t
but one night I found a real one,
the quintessential schoolgirl
twirling her hair,
she was Doing an office happy hour from a spinny chair near a speaker
but then she comes to; her surroundings snap back
her role is her place
She looks up at the flags hanging from the ceiling
falling limp and obstructing the light from neon beer signs
all too familiar
to still be here
someone else’s script
for money. She plays on her phone to pass the time
because that’s where her voice
are really desired
we don’t care about our fucking labor
we want to be adored
but until one’s shift is over,
no one escapes
I am a factory endlessly machining
little bits of certainty
for a market that likes endings
I eat when I’m nervous
it frees me from doubt that I’m doing something
I ate Subway five days a week, forked beans out of cans
squirting ketchup inside the ribbed lid sometimes
I ate my meals standing in the kitchen
wanting to get back to life ASAP
Food became gasoline for a car
taste-agnostic was celebrated
with a Subway sandwich the employee makes right in front of me, I can interject my own directions if I feel there’s been miscommunication between the gospel he was taught and what I see unfolding on the sandwich board because, I assume, the sandwich-maker is a trained communicator. In the eyes of his bosses and to those of the customer he is an operant, mediating the contractual bond between customer and corporation, relaying the signal from rulebook to branch. He’ll give the customer as little meat, as few vegetables and as stale of bread the customer will accept because good business is selling as cheap a product for as high of a price it can get, providing the customer the ingredients to lie to himself that he’s done good, that this buying decision will make him fitter, happier, more productive (or more like whatever he wants to become).
How we spend today is our masterpiece, the keystone, the shining emblem
the breath of the dying, a ten-gun salute
to physics and chemistry
I have to work off the money I over-chivalrously spent last night. “Are you sure [you want to pay for my meal even though we just met and you’re totally not obligated in a situation like this]?” She gave me the out; I didn’t have the skills to take it. “Of course! It’s no problem at all!”
I smiled through the grid of radioactive analysis and started calculating how I would make up the cost. In my head I cooked chicken, pulled pots off the wall, prescribed a pot-movement strategy over the hot plate like a quarterback drawing routes on a chalkboard.
the twisting out each pepper-flake, enough to make your forearm sore
fifteen twists across three different spices like Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
then cleanup’s precise angular momentum of soap, circular scrubbing and hanging-on-the-hook
I am standing with my date while taking bites and cleaning pots in the metaphysical plane of prediction
“Hold on, I have to CM my personal account.”
She’s been here two years, works in PR, studies her phone, triages incoming emails, texts and calls
a pile of bad voicemails
Facebook messages unread, wall posts a burden
She’s master of the synchronous and asynchronous, public and private and the implications of each
but I wish she’d look at me even amid all the options
I want to be the one she chooses when all options are still on the table
I want to be worth reaching through the table for
we fell for each other when we saw we shared the same struggle for self-actualization
as if cut from the same troubled cloth
She ignored my Facebook message to hang out
I suggested we “have a smoke, shoot the shit, whatever,” having seen a pack in her purse,
a meeting which would leave the door open for the forward march of the intimacy and commonality I sensed
Such failed communiqué is common, a universal principle of man in general, the outstanding read receipt
left to wonder if we misstepped
if a frown appeared or brow furled
and if the bridge remains intact
or ashes, friend-zoned forever
Our phone is home
to intentional, chosen gospel
ever refracting the rainbow spectrum of our love to admire
Our online friends are a communication setting on the whole species;
subscribing to them is like buying a channel as part of a cable TV package.
We keep the friends whose content makes us feel good about our choices so any moment we need a hit, we live confident that we have immediate access to supporting evidence, freshly pressed and grated, that make us believe we’re doing just great.
the night marveling at Times Square with an old friend, an opera singer, stardom-bound but leaning now, as adults do, toward safety and security; toward leveraging his college degree tutoring Long Island kids for $60 an hour, good money, bearable work
I lean against a pole and bask in the floodlights of the American crossroads. You can photograph at night here without a flash; the faces are lit by large, impressive and oppressive LCD screens, flash-frying every eye into submission to a “to be is to buy” existence
But here on my pole and in my pages, words can fly unsupervised, no pilot or guards forcing integration at once. I am liberal and adventurous on the page (a more comforting alternative to just thinking and standing)
Too drunk in Hoboken
I was summoned to dinner as the guest of honor by an older grown-up friend. It was free; it was great. He’s a senior vice president at one of the consulting firms so he had plenty of insight for me to test against. Dinner and drinks would be paid for; to him, money was ironic entertainment, self-deprecating even. We moved to a bar across the street.
In cases of abundance, I become like caveman, taking advantage of all calories available. A caveman cannot know when his next meal will come, so filling the body with energy is a mathematics of calories and dollars. So I kept drinking, talking, laughing. The scene was vibrating dark red and black, girls in dresses and nail polish. Cute shoes everywhere.
Eating and socializing are separate functions to me. When both compete, it quickly becomes awkward to co-manage: I try strategically to shovel quality nutrition into my face as seamlessly as is acceptable. Proprioception is required, a hyper-awareness of how one’s body moves in space; anatomical self-awareness in the eye of observers upon whom your reputation and financial security depend, a physical sociology.
On my fourth Maker’s Mark, I turned toward the bathroom, vision blurring the black and red together with the movement of the bros, I drop the liquor glass (short but hefty) and it shatters; I laugh. I knew some service industry employee would pick it up and I delighted in this — this is job creation. My being a lazy asshole gives him a livelihood. My sophomoric behavior is accounted for and celebrated in the business model running society — my irresponsibility is essential to the superorganism. I validate and uphold the world order, the dashboard of employment.
My mentor saw I’d had enough, flagged me a black car, gave me 50 bucks and told the driver, “don’t stop until he’s home.”
The Lincoln Tunnel was a stadium of lights; “this was New York” my furious mind landed on
nearly threw up inside the car which would have ruined my profit margin.
but I watched the meter, calculating — we were over $50 and yet to cross the bridge to Brooklyn
“This guy stuck me with a bill! Fuck this!”
in Manhattan as a $55 fare I refused to go further, to let my stupid drunkenness cost me any more money, so I told him to let me out — I owed $55 and stumbled my way to the subway with Google Maps, eventually home.
I called in the morning to thank him, tell him my head hurt. He was lounging in New Jersey, coffee and paper; I was in pain, having a career to keep building starting tomorrow.
I emailed my mom after my second Monday at work. I walked her through the whole day including the after-work basketball game and a trip to Target — no detail of my thriving would be left out.
“In my bedroom I’ve decided we’re piloting a chair program; this chair will be home to laid-down clothes not dirty enough to be washed. Can you believe it costs almost $6 for one load of laundry?
“[former employer; won’t you find out? Don’t I want my past known? Oh, writers have written and published their pasts on Amazon, it’s available for sale and download; I’m interested in stopping selling — oh, but I fail at getting people’s attention, or I’m learning “content” cannot do it; only direct messaging can do it, nothing happens in public (this isn’t true; oh, isn’t it my fate to fight against truth? Ha, how honest, how pretty! Well, at least other writers are blowing their wad writing UNSERIOUS STUFF ONLINE TODAY and I, the moral martyr, am trying to save myself from the past; oh God, couldn’t an editor save me? Or a huge amount of money? Maybe I have to write so much to prove how little I need.]
I don’t want this recollection to end
sponsors two basketball teams every season to play in a workingmen’s league. I scored 8 points tonight including two 3-pointers, an integral part in a solid victory. I played an additional game with another team who needed one more (I ate and hydrated very well all day in preparation: Greek yogurt, strawberries and two bananas before lunch at Subway [footlong turkey on wheat, no cheese, with as many vegetables as I could coerce the sandwich artist to give me: “Could I do more spinach and tomatoes, please?” I think they’re onto me. One place told me, “management says NO MORE EXTRA.” Luckily there are three locations within walking distance from the office which means a savory and economical $5.44 lunch is mine any day. Oh, then for second-lunch at 3:45, I had leftover pasta, the one with my version of Grandma’s meat sauce (carrots, beef, veal, frozen spinach, Classico) all in preparation for 7:30 tip-off. Oh, and I peed about eight times today. The green aluminum water bottle has worked out well; I’ve got one for home and one for work.
“After basketball I went to Target, which of course lives right at my subway station. I shopped with an eye on price per pound, acquiring instruments for basic sustenance: beans, pasta sauce, yogurt, hearty soups; I also looked at the beer selection and found some great options at the ‘$125 per 100 bottles’ metric (like the economy is inviting me into a trusting relationship between consumer and provider).
“Cleaned up the room, gonna get a shower *with the implicit decision to wear a baseball cap tomorrow, i.e. no need to shower in the morning which extends my wake-up time from 7:15 to possibly 8. Hard to say — I wore jeans and a t-shirt today. I’ll have to get creative to pull of something casual but respectable that includes my sun-baked Giants hat which sat patiently in the backseat for a long, burnt Indiana summer.”
I closed my inbox to “go back to reality,” so I made the distinction and opened Twitter. I screamed, “Get me out of here!”
On Twitter, my coworkers were tweeting each other — it was nearly bedtime. They worked in the same room all day and at 10:30pm they’re still at it. “What gang have I joined?” I wonder aloud about their obsession with each other. Must I become that? and what it would say if I chose not to?
I always thought hard work was about the physical
5:00 wake-ups to open the chemistry textbook, balance equations, etc.
U.S. history notes, i.e. summarize the summary
AP classes and college apps
I’d been on this grind for two decades plus
to get my name on the U.S. News and World Report top-ranked school list
effort can’t be explained in only physical terms; the metaphysical is work too
hard decisions, resolving cognitive dissonance, confrontations
these drain the body but aren’t tangible
not impressive to an observer
not speed, accumulation or miles per hour but precise methodology, chiseled and polished gears
skilled in triage: knowing what to ignore, what to respond to quickly and what requires longer focus
skilled in blocking and tactful preservation
I wake up speaking academic paper
but go and fulfill the obligations of yesterday’s self
but if I pull the pin out, so goes salary, benefits
“The perfect customer is dissatisfied but hopeful, uninterested in serious personal development, highly habituated to the television, working full-time, earning a fair amount, indulging during their free time, and somehow just getting by.”
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Boston Marathon Massacre, Friday April 19, 2013
Stoic at our desks, we perched and watched the Boston marathon explosion news,
watching CNN as they fill space with SAFE reporting. Someone take a fucking risk. Be somebody.
our VP sent a long email:
there are amazing reasons to work in this world:
experiencing the news as it happens, broadcasting the experiences of yourselves and those around you,
absorbing moments in time across the globe.
but then there are weeks when it’s harder to comprehend those very same things, when the world feels like it’s too much.
It’s been an intense week — one filled with worry for your safety and the dawn of a very different type of news cycle.
So close the lids (stop worrying) grab an ice cream, say hello to a fellow VM family member,
be thankful that this week is drawing to a close.
We here in management are looking forward to doing the same.
See you in the kitchen on 3 in NY; SF, lots of ❤ to you (sending lots of virtual hugs your way)
signed, leadership’s lower-case initials (k, g, & aj)
Why we turn to labels in times of crisis — and why we should stop
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We take refuge in comforting binaries, the neat lines, tidy boxes — this absolute thinking offers us what we most crave: to put things certainly in their place.
But we, these lives we live, are full of small incongruities
shooting out at every angle
dependent on momentary mood, who walked by and
if we’re hungry, tired, sick
and seeing that
the human being
I have now re-presented this in a new box and I don’t feel better; I don’t think it needs or ought to be read, yet I am writing it, yet I don’t need to;