I remember when I used to dread and now those days seem as far from me as tomorrow, both receding in directions that would be opposite if opposites had any meaning in the midst of infinity. I don’t feel happy or sad or cold or hot; I’m not in the mood to write or to do things or to leave things undone. Moods and feelings seem far away, too, and I just thought that maybe the black hole of narcissism that a lot of us talk about isn’t what I am, but rather where I am. Maybe I was outside all along, writing that it seemed like a black hole of narcissism on some days, some days like a black hole of despair, dread, meaninglessness and other times like other black holes of other emotional materials, while in fact what it is, is a black hole, and all those things were my own projections. Now I have passed the event horizon and whatever that increasingly foreign version of myself believed it to be, it is not, because it…is nothing at all.
I am doing something wrong, if not everything. I have been feeling happy, but now I get a free moment and somehow I messed it up. I went to the gym after work and ran and tried to think of what I would write and then I tried to just focus on the moment and then I left the gym and got on the subway and wrote in my little notebook. I got home and took a shower and ate a bowl of cereal and then I put the laptop on the table and tried to write something and I have been standing here for almost two hours now. This is what I’ve written. How can I know when I will be in the zone at writing? How come I can’t write every day? God damn it. And what’s worse, is that I’m trapped. I have to write. I tried to look at jobs the other day that I could do and I just thought, fuck I’d rather be a waiter the rest of my life then have to get one of these jobs, not that anyone would give me any of these jobs. And writing is the only thing I want to do. But then I get home and I can write, but nothing comes to mind to write so I just write that nothing is coming to mind and I do that for a long time and still end up nowhere. I can’t have all these days off if I’m just going to screw them up anyway. I’ve been standing here wanting a beer for almost two hours, too, but I know once I have the beer that’s it, no writing. But I guess that would have been the result either way. Damn this shit is tough.
Two nights ago I wrote for a couple hours about some made up people on a made up island. I thought it went well and then the next morning I sat down to think about writing again in the same vein. I was even thinking I would start getting up early in the morning every day to write (which I sometimes think of doing, every once in a while I start thinking that). But I got up the next day around nine and I sat staring at my books and I thought, shit I don’t know what to write about, and even if I did what’s the point of this story, and the point of life, as I usually do. My wife was like, “Do you want to do yoga with me?” I was like fuck it, “Ok.” I figured if I did the yoga I would stop the downward spiral and at least switch gears, if not feel better. Well, after yoga I didn’t really care about writing but i also didn’t really care that I didn’t care. Wife got angry about something that her sister said and they both went to their rooms and slammed the door. It was something about the knives not being sharp which wife took as a personal affront since she’s the one who usually sharpens them and neither of us have done it before. So I watched a video on sharpening knives with a whetstone and then I sharpened knives for two hours. I ate lunch and then I went to work. So I didn’t get any writing done, but I didn’t sit around staring at books and thinking about how terrible things were. And then I didn’t get up from the couch and get dressed for work thinking, what a wasted day. Maybe the day was a waste, most are, but it wasn’t such a bad day.
Today I got up and realized I don’t have to be at work for an hour later than I thought I would. So then I went on twitter to tweet some BS to try to promote this guy’s book and read all this stuff in the news about Charlie Hebdo. And then I tried to write more on that story but I just wasn’t into it. I got like an hour before I have to leave for work now and I don’t know what I’ll do, but I guess I better get away from this typing machine before I start typing what a stupid idea it was to be born, &c.
Wife is already pacing the apartment listing all the things she has to do and how does anyone expect her to get this all done, &c. I guess I’ll try to eat something and take a shower or some normal thing people do.
I’m five posts shy of my goal of 200 posts, but fuck it, pretty close. For the last ten days I’ve been thinking of posting but then I didn’t do it. I only posted three months out of this year anyway.
I am back in working mode and I haven’t written anything for days. Maybe weeks. I finished reading Sense and Sensibility and started Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice. The same guy lent it to me. I also downloaded Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy so I can read it in the dark.
I am working a lot more on my book projects. Just trying to stack up some paper, you know. Fuck it. I’m going to meet this guy soon. The old guy I’ve been working for over the phone and internet is going to roll up into Brooklyn in about thirty minutes. He’s an irascible character so it should be a good time. I am not looking forward to it.
I have a lot of other shit to do today and I’ve already done a lot of shit. And today is my only day off. And I told the other restaurant I would work there a couple days a week so maybe it’s my last day off ever. Well, at least until February, and then I’m going up to Vermont for a week.
Something I learned from thinking back on my wedding is generally those times we plan for are the only things we really remember. Life goes by in a blur since we’re doing the same thing over and over again but the days that we made a point of doing something different, especially if we had to think about it for weeks beforehand, or longer, are the days that define a life. I’ve thought about it before in a different, more depressing way. Like how Steinbeck describes it in Out of Eden, something about life going by without any signposts to hang a memory on. Well, those planned days are the signposts, and that’s not really all that bad. So instead of avoiding the boring, tedious work of constructing signposts in hope that a really cool one will just pop up a couple of times a week, I’m spending a lot of time planning this trip.
And I’m spending a lot of time not caring about what happens in the meantime. I’m trying to think long term, like yearly. Kind of like I was saying about throwing 2015 away. If you take your life in year chunks instead of day chunks, it’s like if you waste a year, no big deal. And forget about wasting a day, that’s pretty much a given for every day. As long as you do something really cool for a couple days out of a year maybe every ten years, well you pretty much had a good life.
And read books in the meantime. And get drunk at least a little bit a lot of the time.
Also I’m not eating a lot, but I think it’s making me fatter. I don’t care though, because it’s winter time and it’s cold as a bitch out here.
I started reading Sense and Sensibility since it’s free on the iBooks store and I can’t always be carrying around that paper book. Or reading it late at night with no light on. I don’t have a lamp in here so if I want to read late at night I have to use the phone.
The Murakami book is going okay, but not as awesome as I thought it would. It reminds me of Gary Shteyngart’s novels probably because it’s in the first person and he’s talking about what kind of girl he finds attractive. I think coming from the classics and then reading contemporary stuff you really notice the increased attention paid to the self. The first person p.o.v. is really jarring after Hugo’s third person omniscient. In comparison, the transition to Austen’s more stylized but still omniscient narration in Sense and Sensibility has been smooth and I’m much more drawn to continue reading. But I have to finish this damnable text so I can get it back to its owner.
Now that I’m reading more I don’t feel like writing. And I’m getting so much more done around the house. Logistics stuff that is still important, like signing up for health care. And going to the gym. But I want to want to write…or maybe not. Maybe there’s still time to go to law school and become an executive assistant to a mid level hedge fund manager where I get paid 70k a year to sort mail and answer the telephone.
Reality, in the metaphorical sense, in the sense that reality is everything undesirable about your otherwise good life, is back today like an old dying Aunt with no friends who just wants a few quarters for the slots. The last wave of inspiration has subsided, tonight I go back to work, the smell of coffee is negated by the smell of a full trashcan, the inbox is full of emails with bold underlined capitalized bullshit, and the guy who cut my hair last night somehow fucked it up. From now on I’m just getting that shit shaved. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking asking for some kind of ridiculous shit like short on the sides and messy on top. Yeah it’s a fucking mess now. Good fucking job.
I don’t think there’s really anything worth talking about now, especially since I can’t seem to even word the boring shit to be funny any more, so I might as well keep typing. At least I can get in a thousand words before getting bogged down in the mire. I’ll just resort to typing long cliches. I’m listening to an album of classical music called Mood Booster. I thought it would be a good idea. I started listening to The National at first and then I realized I was just going to type the lyrics over and over again if I didn’t stop.
Woo fuck, this is going to be tough shit. I do not feel in the least like writing. Ok, well, shit we’re a quarter of the way there now. Sometimes you just got to push on through, like Bob Marley said.
I been reading a lot about American History so I could write a book about a guy in America sometime. Maybe I was wrong to do that. I don’t think so, I’m just feeling like I was wrong about everything. It’s funny how much I don’t know about American history. I don’t know much of anything about American history, and it’s not that much history to even learn.
I don’t mind working, I guess, I mean I hate it, but it pays and that’s cool. I think I’ve worked everyone’s expectations down that I’m coming home for Thanksgiving or for any reason really. I love my family and I have one of the most loving families…or at least verbally loving families, I think maybe their actions say otherwise. My family is all about drama and shit and talking behind each other’s backs and putting on a good face and also full of expectations. No one expects you to do well in a career, they just want you to do well in your spiritual life, AKA go to church, pray, and get raptured in the next few days. And then they also want you to do Amway. Then you’d be good.
Shit, I just wish we could all sit around and chill when we see each other. But you can’t relax because they need you to be someone you’re not. Ah but that’s fine, because most people do. Nobody wants to talk about death all the time. Unless there’s a heaven afterwards, in which case my family would be happy to talk about it. But I guess the fact that they are my family makes me expect them to love me unconditionally. So I guess we all have our expectations.
I just want to move to Siberia and they can all stay here. It sucks because I want to see them but at the same time I never want to see them again. My grandmother is close to the end of her life and she never expected anybody to do anything but their “lessons”, which is what she called homework. She doesn’t think you’re a bad person as long as you’re not a bad person, whereas most of my family thinks you’re a bad person if you’re not Jesus Christ, and not just the real Jesus Christ but the rich one who hates gays and abortions.
Anyway, only three hundred words to go now. Ah, fuck, this sucks shit I feel like I’m cleaning a stubborn bathroom. How can I add something to your life today? I don’t know. What to I want to make you feel? Who are you? What emotion do I want to communicate? Boredom… I heard this song by The Doors on Other Voices. The guy was like, “I’m nervous I’m bored I’m stoned I’m ugly something something.” That was a good song. I bet he didn’t know what the hell to write about at that point.
Damn if I could just cut down some god damn trees around here. Even cleaning something doesn’t feel as productive as the idea of cutting down trees does. Like I could clean the apartment more and that does make me feel better about my life but that shit is just temporary. You clean something and then the next day you wake up and that shit is not clean any more, and then you start to believe that every day is a new day and you are just as wretched as you were the one before. You never make any progress. Like Chuck Klosterman said, every night things come together and I understand the world, and then morning comes and I don’t understand shit, and that’s why I hate mornings.
I like mornings, pretty much, sometimes, if I’m feeling good…alright so I liked one morning one time it was pretty good. Or the mornings of my childhood or the ones when I was in France the first time, but those are in my memory and probably didn’t happen at all like I remember and I probably hated them at the time. I guess the only thing to do is to trick yourself into thinking you were having a good time yesterday.
Well, there you go. Sorry about that, I guess, unless you liked it. I enjoyed it minimally. But I will try to remember that it was fun.
I’m home again and it smells bad just like the rest of New York and its noisy just like the rest of New York and I can’t seem to escape the violent assault on my senses. Sister has Gordon Ramsey or Dinner Impossible reruns blasting on her tinny laptop speaker and has made some fermented tofu mold stir fry. She’s walking up and down the floor asking no one, “where is it?” In a hoarse whisper.
The situation is bound to degenerate further as Brother-in-Law from out of town is due here any minute in a surprise visit.
I am insufficiently equipped to deal with this threat as I’ve spent today and yesterday eating different kinds of sugar and not sleeping and entertaining my good friend and besides I’m never ready for the cataclysm that is my Brother-in-Law.
It’s the entire horn section of the once great Chickasaw Falls marching band outside playing the collected works of Miles Davis’s hapless widow (who, claiming to be possessed by the spirit of her late husband, refused to stop composing polka choruses until she dropped dead twelve long days after Davis’s own tragic death). It’s that at nine in the morning on a sad Tuesday in Brooklyn.
When a friend comes to town for only a short time and you don’t have a real career and you don’t have kids, you put your life on hold until they leave. If your friend is at all interested in your life, you have some time to think about the damn thing with a little more perspective than usual.
Well, such a thing has happened to me these last two days. It is interesting that an entire life can seem so fraught with things to do and then one can decide to stop doing those things and experience no immediate consequences. I remember one time my little brother brought me an Xbox to play with and I put everything on hold (and, as I was planning a wedding and working two jobs there was a lot to put on hold) and even skipped meals and personal hygiene whenever I could (whenever my wife wouldn’t notice) to play that damn game. There was minor backlash after two weeks of being absorbed in that alternative reality, but not as much as i had imagined.
It makes me wonder if the stress I put on myself to “be productive” in day to day life is justified, healthy, or useful. I guess that depends on your definition of useful, and for me I guess I am still too immature to stop taking things to their philosophical nadir, and so my definition of useful is anything that makes me feel good right now (since we could die any second and even if we don’t the universe is expanding in all directions at once so anyway we are getting less and less prominent in the world and to begin with we weren’t even at the level of ants on a galactic leaf).
I am sitting next to my front door (on the inside of my apartment) on a gray rug that I stole from an absent minded somnambulist. I am sitting here drinking a beer that I don’t particularly like and I am thinking about what I did today. Only I’m not thinking of events because I can’t remember them well enough to make sense of them. Instead, I am thinking about this moment and what does it mean to be a man in Nautilus brand sweat pants two sizes too big with frayed bottoms drinking a beer in the dark at one in the morning while my wife sleeps and my good friend reposes on the love seat with his feet over the side and his breathing slow and shallow and that’s what makes me think he is asleep, too.
The reason I can’t think of the things I did today is that I am not the person who did those things. Maybe half my cells have died and been replaced since then. My mind certainly can’t process the past in a satisfactory way. It skews even the present, but not as viciously as it does the past. The memories I have now are only a representation of the person I’ve become since those memories allegedly occurred.
Anyway, it’s kind of nice here, now that I think about it. The beer is not tasty but it is alcoholic and oftentimes that’s what matters.
(Just now, by the way, I think someone built an entire jungle gym right outside of my door and then dropped it down the stairs. Either that or Charles Bronson is escaping this building’s stairwell using only a tin sledgehammer and a baby’s rattle.)
It’s nice here and besides I have had a nice day. I didn’t expect it to end this way, but that’s okay.
See my friend came to visit me and I had to work. So I was away for eight and a half hours and they were thinking of coming out after I got off. But then I texted them at midnight to say what’s up and got no reply. Then I walk into a dark apartment and so it goes.
I have worked a lot the last few days and it’s funny to me how the more I work the less I dread working. When I have days off I don’t want to go back to work, but when I work long hours all in a row, I don’t mind going to work at all. It feels more natural. I wish I could stop dreading going to work for good.
This time in my life, it’s never going to get more open than this. There may have been times in my life when I had more options than I do now, but those times will not come again and I know that I am in a time right now that I will look back on as a time when many roads were stretching out in front of me.
I remember I used to want to play cars with my sister. I don’t even know what that means any more. I have no idea how to play cars in a way that makes you sure that you are playing cars. I have no concept of what makes a person yearn to play cars with another person. She would never play cars with me and I was always upset about it. I didn’t have a brother and my dad was busy working and had probably forgotten how to play cars in a satisfactory manner as well. It seems like now the most important thing in my life in those days, I guess I was 9 or 10, was playing cars. It’s funny how you have no idea what the hell life is all about when you’re younger. Not what it’s all about, but rather, what the hell you have to do in life. Because life is probably more about playing cars than going to work, but life isn’t made up of what it’s all about.
Yeah but what I mean is I’d better take advantage of this time before I have a kid or something. Or before I break my legs or become paralyzed from some rare disease or even contract ebola. Or get strapped with some kind of financial burden that I just can’t crawl out of. Or get arthritis or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or amnesia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Maybe if I just keep telling myself to do something I’ll be able to convince my 94 year old dying self that my life was worthwhile.