I set an alarm. But this half-hearted effort to write daily doesn’t always make sense to me. There are too many days where I wake with nothing on my mind and then, while typing, thoughts form on their own – and I am not sure they are mine.

How healthy is that thought when you are a person who continually questions the reality of their perception?

But even if my worst fear is true – that we create our own realities as we go according to whim and to gastrointestinal status – does it even matter that we have this meta perspective? We are caught in a kind of existential paradox because there is no passive state that is an acceptance of reality – because even that passivity is an active state of creation – because there is no non-fictional self.

What if I am randomly choosing words that force changes that ultimately will not be a “good thing”? What if I am writing myself into a corner – scattering red herrings along the way to a dead end. This isn’t how the story is supposed to be going at this point. A rambling rough draft where the character just talks and talks, and the whole thing is overwritten and simultaneously void of craftsmanship.

Maybe it is time to return to haibun. To ghazals. Maybe American sentences.

Once I knew what I wanted to do, but I blink: now this, and now this.

So many times I have (silently) scoffed at people who talk about needing to write. Maybe because I want another need – one that makes less sense of living.

It is one of those mornings when I put my fingers on the keys and stare a few moment as my hands. The pattern of blood vessels on the back of each. Ropey and bluish, like a coarse crochet work. There are still things these hands will learn to do, or learn to do better. They are the rough beauty of solid machinery. They are their own “back in the day” and still going.

They are the touchstone for earned wisdom. Sometimes offering the touch that frightens young and old alike. Where bones become stone, and foreshadow everything overwrought in our poems.

As here.

I wonder what it would be like to live without mirrors – without looking at oneself, or pieces of oneself, as a constructed and staged other.

I would like to live off the grid – in a world where social connections were forged over the time it takes to build a fire and boil water for tea. To cut the bread and soften the butter. Hell, I don’t know how to do any of that. But I do think I was meant for a slower life. One that didn’t come with the expectation of networking, of planning and anticipating the potential usefulness of people, to willfully stitch together the meaningful moments in a kind of half-formed contract of mutual obligation.

I know this is a fairy tale nostalgia.

Maybe I would have grown strong enough to live with gratitude had I outgrown my obsession with usefulness. Maybe I would have valued life differently. Maybe I can still learn to do that.

I doubt it, actually. Don’t we all want to be seen, even when we fear it? My mind keeps returning to Paulus Berensohn.

You see, there is a paradox in his idea of art as behavior rather than art as achievement. I don’t believe anyone who says that the former isn’t valuated by the later.

It would require unconscious art. And it seems to me that art is always intentional – either on the part of the creator and the viewer, or on the part of the viewer only.

So how does this work, really? Is a work of art a beautiful thing while it’s hidden on a shelf in the pantry? Or only after the estate is sold and the work “discovered” and the name written down with the romantic sparkle of “posthumous fame” and the virtue of humility intact.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it…

Paulus Berensohn was an adherent of deep ecology. There: see? I’ve typed his name again. Guru in life, a name rattling around the internet servers in death.

I wonder. What would happen if we could harvest the mushrooms that grow on the graves of our gurus. Grind them into a fine power with the long bones that fed them. Boil the water for tea.

Every time I moved, cardboard boxes and milk crates, I shed memories on the porous sidewalks. Metal roller skates and skinned knees.

My name is…

In third grade mid-year, all the other kids knew their times tables. The teacher put on a record and they sang along. I knew the inch worm song. Danny Kaye. A fog of icky-sweet that some of us know well. An infant, precognitive version of the deep ambivalence. Pleasure and shame.

Danny Kaye still reminds me of something. Sticky furniture, metal tables. A dog who bled behind the ears when he got excited.

Not everything comes together. Not everything finds a center.

I still count on my fingers in a dark closet off a crowed room.

As an adult it’s difficult to sit on the other side of a closed door and listen to the muffled laughter. Adults are conspicuous.

I remember ringlets, yarn ribbons, and seersucker dresses. I don’t remember shoes. There is a school photo somewhere, in which I am missing a tooth. There is nothing charming about it. I might be sneering. Or about to cry.

I have just the memory of this photo. If you saw it, your story would be as good as mine.

I don’t remember sneering. Not until my high school math teacher called me a slut under her breath. And I thought: All the things you do not know, woman.

When my step-father died, my aunt called me in the middle of the night to tell me. She slurred her words slightly, for whatever reason. And she took it upon herself to tell me the details of the accident, for whatever reason. It’d been 30 – 32 years?

“Yeah, no, fine. Thanks for calling.”

She wanted to send me photographs. “Please don’t.”

She asked me three times, “Are you sure you don’t want me to send them to you?” It was the only question she asked me. I had no questions for her.

But now, I wonder if she ever made sense of things. If all her photographs and the redacted stories told and negotiated around dinner tables once every couple of years found a true arc. Of some sort.

“Yeah, no, fine.”

Some hours of Monday slipped from my mind. Again. I am finding that, since I can’t pick up and move, I need to document things so I don’t dwell with the same story twice unnecessarily. Digging ruts in the most uninteresting of places just so we all have our stories straight.

I got nothing this morning – except runner’s knee again, which is why the neatly planned morning is falling apart.

Frustration. My body. My dog – who for some reason has turned the clock back suddenly and is waking me at 3 am. And, yeah, I am up for about 15 minutes to deal with the alarm, let him out – in, set the alarm again, but then use that as an excuse to sleep an extra hour.

And crawl out of bed to dawdle with coffee and the news.

I know better. I know opening Facebook brings a world of negativity and is the worst possible way to begin the day – with things that are completely irrelevant to my life, that none-the-less set my teeth on edge even before I’ve showered. If I were watching an ant frantically waving her antennae, banging her head against an expanse of porcelain wall, I would think: You stupid creature. Turn around.

Yesterday in a meeting, I made a statement that hushed the room. Someone finally began a new conversation. I think my statement was a non-sequitur. Lately I have been misreading, mishearing and misinterpreting normal missives. Lately it feels like I have been poorly skimming the world and moving too quickly mentally to be present: to take it in for what it is.

There is a little refrain in my head: I don’t have time for this.

Now, sitting here, I am wondering why I don’t have time. What am I in a hurry to get to? Don’t get me wrong, there have also been annoying things that I don’t/won’t make time for, but this is different. I am not even sure where I am going in such a hurry. Is there a pot at the end of the rainbow, or it is just a deadline, a cut-off, an expectation that I have to meet – or else?

That little ant banging her head, determined to get … through. But there is really nothing there. Nothing to get to.

I need a good run.

I had an aunt – have an aunt, I guess – who used to rewind motors. It is supposed to be a special skill, a relatively well-paid job. These days, it’s also important for the environment. She didn’t know that then.

I need a rewind. Unwind. Run like the wind.

I have been thinking now that I have never seen an ant indoors here. Stupid ants.

Or not.

This morning I listened to the Life Kit podcast while walking the dog. It was about dealing with dread. And one solution they offered was Death Meditation.

I don’t know. I think I am on board with scheduling time to worry, but I am not convinced that meditating on my own death will help me learn not to sweat the small stuff, as they say.

What if my anxiety builds with the concern that I don’t have time to line up and sort the little things? What if I don’t have time to tie up the loose ends to this self-image I am trying to form – form and show the world?

Really these aren’t rhetorical questions. B. told me that in the sure knowledge of having only months to live, she still sweats the small stuff. Which I tell myself is as much as she ever did: from my point of view, it being a matter of injecting humor into every experience of frustration.

But then, we never really know what is going on inside someone else’s head.


There are clubs in India, I think, maybe Japan (one of those countries with a culture that we attribute superior wisdom to), where people stand around and laugh for no good reason. Laughing for no good reason – for no reason at all – requires effort. It requires more effort than I am willing to put into it.

Should I be ashamed of that?

Isn’t it just easier to lean into the wallpaper? To press myself into a deep groove of irony that only passes for humor from a distance?

One of my colleagues has a drama project called “See Me”, which of course centers on how each student sees themselves – as mirrored in the archetypes and character tropes of a classical artwork (my academic reductionist view of the drama exercise). Despite the title, I have always thought the project is about “Me Seeing Me”, really – what I want to see in/of/about me. What I want to project.

And – oh, my god – the effort required to create that story.

I am short-tempered this week, for no good reason. But it takes surprisingly little effort.

Yeah. I’m just rolling with it. I am not sweating anything.