‘to reduce the fever of feeling’

Outside the wind howls. Inside a trio of snowmen converse in the vicinity of a conference of paper birds. Last night the ‘artsy’ neighbors continued their grand tradition of slamming doors and other unidentifiable objects against floors and walls for several hours between approximately midnight and the archetypal 3 AM hour. Result: current state of apathetic grogginess. Desire for absence of shared walls swells with each passing night of lost sleep.

Days less measureless than before. Crystalline structure of incipient routines inches out beyond the borders of a now worn and tarnished impersonation of L.B. in Rear Window. Except there never was anything even vaguely menacing to observe, only a sea of moment-waves rocking gently against the fragile hull of this origami sailboat.

Return to Pessoa’s words: no novelty in the universal, no comprehensibility in the individual. The old ruse of intentional obfuscation falls flat. But still the urge to fit words together roils inside. Maybe to do it, like Pessoa says, ‘to reduce the fever of feeling.’ Yet if all is unimportant (which it is), why bother describing any version of it. Unless perhaps to merely locate and handle the words themselves. To dive to the bottom, seeking words buried deep in a consciousness whose mirrored surface rests fathoms above undisturbed layers of sediment. Yes, perhaps it is for that reason: to extract anything worth contemplating from the granular level, to slip some small truth from the interstices and examine it from all sides, even if only to then return it unseen.

continuing studies in probability

I have suddenly begun encountering my neighbors all the time. Maybe they read what I wrote about them. Actually that is highly improbable. It’s funny to think about, though. Yes, it is. To me, at least. That they would intentionally make themselves more accessible to me based upon reading my musings on why I never see them is hilarious. But it’s more likely that this is related to the phenomenon I encounter with things like mist and nemesis birds, wherein something once recognized and acknowledged suddenly becomes omnipresent. Yes, that must be it. I must let it simmer longer, though.

A poem-fragment-something of mine called “The sights and sounds of leaving” appears in the 2012 issue of Paper Nautilus. Being a paper nautilus it only creeps out into the world in paper form. Copies are available here. I have one more forthcoming publication in 2013 (an erasure text) but that will likely be it for a while. The submission process strangles the life out of me and punctures holes into my dreamy writing life (for an extended even darker view, see also: this). I am reclaiming that life.

unfinished studies in probability

I am trying to determine how it is possible that I never see my immediate neighbors. We literally share walls. And I am out in the streets at least twice a day walking Farley. Yet I never encounter them. How is this possible. What are the odds of me seeing even one of them? That’s what I’d like to know, though I’m not at all a gambling man, just a curious one. Is it because I leave at random times, and they also leave at random times, making our odds of intersection quite low? Or is it because I leave at random times and they leave at the same times, also making our odds of encountering each other low. I know that I never leave at the same time, so perhaps I am the reason we never meet. My erratic behavior may be the cause of our never meeting. However, some people in the neighborhood I see quite often, even though they don’t even live on my street. Why them, I ask, why not the ones so close by. This I don’t understand.

Sometimes I look out a window and I see my immediate neighbors but they appear so far away, like they are in another dimension, another world even, or as if in a dream, and I consider that I may never know them for it is too late, too much time has passed and so we are destined to remain strangers. Somehow, in some hidden unreachable part of my insides, I think I know this is true, and for some reason it saddens me, though I don’t quite know why, but I think it may have to do with how I have created personalities and lives for all of them and the stories of their lives in my head are ongoing and can grow quite elaborate at times, and for reality to now impose on these stories would ruin them and probably depress me.

Meanwhile, the other day as I approached the revolving door at work from outside, someone also approached it from inside, and we pushed simultaneously and the door swung with ease, depositing each of us in places opposite of where we had been, and this was pleasing to me, for it rarely happens, and in general I am ambivalent to revolving doors, yet when serendipity such as this occurs I am reminded of their occasional magic, leaving me with a lingering sense of connection to my partner in door-pushing whom I didn’t know and didn’t speak to nor do I want to know or ever speak to.

the people

We made up names for the people we didn’t understand. This helped us decode their mysterious juxtaposition to our lives. The names we gave them were based on our keen observation of their behavior. We categorized this behavior, internalizing its significance, and assigned the names accordingly. Over time, a parallel world began to form, separate from the one we were living in. This world was inhabited by these people we didn’t know or understand. However, the strange thing about this world was that it existed in the same plane of time and space as our own. On occasion, we saw these people. But the question remained: could our lives ever intersect? And if so, what would happen to the lives we’d imagined for these people? Would the detailed personalities we’d dreamed up for them withstand deeper scrutiny? Or would they melt away in the acid of reality?

We had spent many hours carefully crafting the stories of these people and we were not prepared to alter those stories so readily. These people had names, held significance to us, in the world we had created for them. The idea that they, in fact, might be different from how we had imagined them was anathema to us. Our theories, constructed as they were from toothpicks sutured together in idle hours, began to quiver. We feared their collapse under the cold authority of hard evidence. We worried that we’d be proven wrong and exposed as frauds. Or worse yet, as unlicensed judges of human character.

In the end we left. We saw no other solution. The authorities had discovered the parallel world. Someone leaked it to them. We came home late one afternoon and found workers in the street, their industrial saws cleaving the invisible fabric. I’ll never forget that day. I stared in horror as our most intricate creation washed away under the silent cresting breakers of two worlds joining. The people were out there, too, watching as their lives closed in on our own. I could tell they didn’t even know what it all meant. That was the worst part. And now they will never know who they might have been.

my thoughts dried up so i wrote this instead

When you isolate yourself, you have no one else to blame when things go awry. There is some small comfort in this. It is possible to go days without talking to anyone. This can be a magical combination of your own self-imposed silence and a general indifference on the part of others. Together we can make it work. The woman in the alley enjoys screaming hateful words at her grandson but she is sweet as pie when I say hello. This dichotomy hurts my brain. The alley is loud in the summer. The ladies across the way gun their motorcycles at all hours. The level of their inconsideration for people living together in a confined space staggers me. Small children yell and sing and talk like adults. I brood at the kitchen table. If it weren’t for the swatch of overgrown vegetation threatening to engulf my porch, I would have to see, as well as hear, the denizens of the alley and that I could not bear. Meanwhile, in the plus column, the city installed four solar-powered compacting trash cans on a main street in the neighborhood. I was overjoyed to throw my dog’s poop in them. Then they took one away. It was the most conveniently located one. Why. On another street near my house the city erected an expensive-looking fence in the median. A few weeks later they removed it. Why. Every day I see the thousands of dollars I pay in property taxes hemorrhage out onto the streets in the form of Kafkaesque activities such as this. It pains me. I could make much better use of those thousands of dollars than by funding the erecting and dismantling of fences. Segueing into the employment realm, it’s summertime at work which results in a curious laissez faire attitude toward attendance. I like it but it confuses me. I am always suspicious of it. Yet there is a natural relaxed cadence I cannot ignore, and so I allow it to carry me in its wake. When I feel agitated, I look at the little pictures in the dictionary and this soothes me. Last night I had a pleasant time in dreamland, but I forgot most of it upon waking. I don’t like that. I need to remember my dreams or waking life seems vacant. Do you ever wonder about the nature of friendships? They are curious things. Coming and going, rarely staying. Sometimes they wane; sometimes they wither. Sometimes they fail over the stupidest things. And you wonder if it could have been avoided, but in reality if it was a strong friendship it should have been able to withstand most of the nonsense we manage to self-generate. Which then begs the question of why the friendship existed in the first place. Convenience, perhaps. Boredom. Desperation for human contact [see: possibility of going for days without speaking to anyone, as outlined above]. I have had many friendships through the years, for all of these listed reasons and more. Not many have lasted, but the tiny few that have are worth more than gold. The question is then, do I now need more friends? What purpose would they serve? It gets harder to make friends as you get older. It’s horrible but I find myself more judgmental than I used to be of people when considering them as potential friends. I am also perhaps even more guarded now. Friendship requires time and effort, both valuable resources that I don’t expend lightly. How can you know if it’s worth it. Most of the time I am content to be by myself. I also have a dog now. The ultimate friend. Always dependable, always happy to see you. Can’t go to the bathroom without your help, which is a little weird. Doesn’t talk, which is both good and bad. Sometimes I wish he’d talk, just a little. See, even though I am content by myself, I have this annoying urge to reach out sometimes. It’s irrepressible. Sometimes everything can’t be found in books. Or nature. Most things, yes. But not all. This is the curse of human nature. We are not 100% autonomous. And I am so restless. This incessant unease shadows my every move. The panic. The urge to drop out. The crushing confinement of your own mind. We’re all so spread out. Held together by weakening links. I trip over my own shallow roots and fall face-down in a mucky bog. Roll around and let the clay harden on your skin. Let it cover all that you see as wrong. It feels so good.

redemption

Yesterday, I decided to salvage what I could of the day and left the house, observing curiously as the late afternoon blossomed unexpectedly before me.  As fate would have it, during its period of disuse, the chain on my other bike (meaning not my commuter bike) had achieved a patina of rust and gunk that prevented it from making a successful circuit around the drive-train.  So I crouched next to the back door, generously oiling the links and massaging them back into working order, until one of my neighbors arrived home next door.  I hailed her, and we spoke pleasantly at length.  When she went inside, my neighbor from the port side hailed me and we engaged in a discussion of a less sprawling, though just as neighborly, nature than the previous one.  It is good to be friendly with the neighbors, I thought to myself, and I am lucky to have such affable and considerate ones!  With that, I was off on my bike across town to my old birding and exploring haunt where I spent a couple of happy hours tromping through the woods, restoring the waning energy levels of my soul and communing with the natural world.  As the sky darkened, then, and I wound my way reluctantly forth from the woods, the sweet ethereal song of the Hermit Thrushes rose surprisingly from the forest floor and carried through the trees, as if to ease me ever so gently back toward the main road, and harsh traffic, to that which I always must return.

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