Monday, November 29
When morning comes, I find myself perpetually tired; come night, I'm wide awake. I'd blame the red bulls, but really, it's hardly as if they're that effective, and I've not had any today, besides. So, mornings: I've these eyes dry and tired and heavy-lidded, and a head thick and slow, thankful these questions rarely require altogether too much thought, and I've sandpaper grit beside my eyes to scratch at, besides. All of which is to say I'm all the more thankful for these snow-scraped streets, how they've reached that perfect balance of packed ice and slippery slush. So it is that I'll race and slide and somehow these back streets will be mine and mine alone, the city blanketed by thin white foggy fingers, the snow that'll eat up and any all sound but the thick silence of winter. Foothills behind and beside me have disappeared but for the thinnest fingers that stretch through the mist, and once again, I'm thankful I've not my camera with me, knowing well the injustices images do such magic.
Rides like this, the day previous' two throbbing miles run - these are the things that'll have me feeling alive, make me feel my breathe and remember my pulse. Yoga it is not, but the satisfaction's the same as I'd remembered from those days. Satisfaction, contentment, yes.
So easily these past years have I catered to the dissatisfaction, the quiet empty. So easily I've allowed myself to crave the space of other places and so sought it out. So it is now, that fall rites find themselves this year in winter; still they remain the same: simultaneously I'm found out by communities that'll draw me in even as I resist. Better have I become in lingering further in the quiet margins, perhaps, less prone to seeking out the trouble that once found me so easily. Which isn't to say I might not yet find myself yet another nomad's home come next fall, tradition being what it is, or that I've gotten any better with my time - I haven't, and ever I'll wish I hadn't when I have it, and that I had it when I haven't - but, well. Naming a thing - just as refusing to name a thing - does not make it any less that thing.
And this novel? I'll hardly claim to still be making progress, not as I was, anyways, plateaued as I temporarily seem to be at only three-fifths the intended total. I know where I'll take it next, though, I think - and these days are a little less unsettling than they were. Even a couple hundred words a day is something.
Like I said, I'm tired. But that's not an unwelcome thing, necessarily, you know?
Monday, November 22
Not sleeping, or sleeping in stops and starts, or sleeping in such a way as to never quite wake between the dreaming. The night'll stretch on or disappear before it ever came, all depending on the vantage; this I know all too well. And I've this antsiness, this need to move, this need for silence and solitude and the only interruptions that of my breath and fatigue. I've this dream that if I move just so it'll be alright, it'll be better; pick the night, pick the dream. As I imagine it, a cheat code: left right left right down down up up. Time'll bend with the right code, I'm sure of it.
I just haven't found those codes yet, so if you have them: please share.
It's late and I'd fallen asleep early, conked hard and fell fast into the black, only to find the night interrupted and awake and wide, wide, this dream of healthy and active. So it's late and it's dark and it's cold, but the flakes are falling just so and I've this uneasiness lingering so, like crumbling rust on the edge of the night. That trail I've missed so? It's only closed by the light in which I'd be seen.
So awake, I laced up and strode out, ran for the second time in months, and this was the first run for certain more than a quarter-mile. I felt old and I felt weak and I felt throbbingly alive in the discomfort and I felt lost - but it was the lost I went for. It was the lost that'd inspired the run. Because this - running! - is precisely the sort of lost in which I remember best how to find.
I can't - or, more accurately, won't - make myself feel guilty about how little progress I've been making on the novel. I can feel guilty about how little sleep I'm getting.
I can. But I won't. There's living to be done in these spaces between the days. Living, lots of living. Especially in the weariness. Maybe mostly.
Sunday, November 21
Opening day of deer hunting season in Wisconsin is a day of sitting, of braving the cold in your tree stand, and keeping eyes for those deer who've foolishly not yet realized the season's opened. The game's never so easy as opening day; if you've a good spot, you sit and wait and then you shoot. Something like half of all the tags filled are done so in the opening weekend.
There aren't words for some sorts of things, aren't words beyond perhaps a quiet fuck. But even that seems, well, inappropriate, because lives are forever changed by some moments, and not necessarily for the better. Lives are sometimes suddenly made worse, or if not worse at least much harder. It seems if tragedy isn't the right word, then well, I'm not sure I want to know what is. And I certainly don't know the word for what comes next, the act of moving on, of forgetting the 'what if's and the 'how come's, the act of learning how to live again and with what's available.
But, opening day. Opening day's a day full of sitting, sitting and waiting. My father was doing neither; instead, he was walking. And he was listening. And that sound he heard, started to brush off, then decided to investigate? That sound was his oldest, his first son.
As he reminded me, his voice tired and worn and thin and small on the phone, as thick with fatigue and worry as ever I've heard it, this makes three years in a row something's gone wrong. Unspoken, though, was - at least for me - the realization that his list of disasters was only partially, woefully incomplete; we're really working on at least five years of continued losses and setbacks: his mother-in-law five years ago; one of my best friends four years ago (and the body found a year later); his mom and brother-in-law two years ago; the stillbirth and his son-in-law's brain cancer last year; my brother's childhood friend earlier this year. These besides the collected anxieties that come with living, the sicknesses and injuries and doctors' offices, the sort where if all goes well, then we'll all issue a collective thank god! and promptly forget 'til it comes around next. To sum: practice with heartache and heartbreak doesn't make either of them any easier.
This most recent news is of course a bit of both, the heartache and the thank god! each. Eighteen feet is a long way to fall, but modern medicine is also an incredible thing: Jason's not dead; though his spinal cord was severed, it appears he'll have use of his arms, neck, and head. And he'd in recent years grown into precisely the sort of man who'll do more in a wheelchair than most could dream of on two good legs, all in all a damn good man. It'll not surprise me if he's far quicker in adjusting to this new life than the rest of us. Still, any good vibrations sent his way can't hurt, right?
Saturday, November 20
So you can make another claim, well go ahead and make it
I'm sliding. These days come slippery like the algal remnants in the long ago drained canal, sliding as they do between wakefulness and dreams; often as not I catch an edge only in the hazy spaces between. Nights, how they slide to mornings, often as not waking with my face on the keyboard, a page of z's and k's and l's. I'll rise early with hopes of notching another thousand words on this belt of my undoing, only to fall back asleep and so miss breakfast, nearly late of work. Four of every five nights'll now so pass, and how clearly I've made my remedy clear. Caffeinate, caffeinate, caffeinate. Fingers shake as eyelids droop, but. Wasn't beer made for steadying nerves?
As you lie before me now, like a shadow...
Never thought I could find you so hollow, laying into me
You wrote of numbing fatigue, and, remembering some of our earlier conversations, how you poked at me when I was too tired, I'll admit to finding some small pleasure in seeing you so defeated; I wear spite altogether too easily, it's true, but you said I didn't understand, said I wrote too infrequently. Well. You know now how easily I'll grab even a small slight for these bonfires. Such is life, and life is pain, princess. Though, one concession I'll make: you never had the advantage of such insomnia.
Can we show a little discipline... loose lips sink ships
A clinic they'd been running upstairs; I'd gone in on a day off again, such had been our load, then stuck around. It being after-hours, we sat and drank and shot the shit, as such things go, compared our battered hands and talked of running and riding and more foolhardy ventures. More sure signs, though, abound, such as how little use I'd of handlebars the ride home, corners and climbs and gravel no matter. I sat, then, and started to write, and I'd courage in my veins, nearly enough to call. It shouldn't come as any surprise, I suppose, that we'd a reprimand waiting this morning regarding our collective consumption. And I remember asking once, a cryptic conversation in the wee hours of the morning: what's the difference again between sinking and sunk?
Can you see in the dark, can you see the look on your face
Another night from the shop, and the flakes are falling now fat and thick, and I've, as usual, altogether too many thoughts and too many aches. This temptation I'd gone and gave in to the night previous, gone and run, battered as I was. A quarter-mile, maybe a half if I'll exaggerate. But if it'd been less than pleasant, nor was it quite the nasty bitch I'd well expected, and so the night awake I was, giddy with this love that grown faint in my veins. He sends a text, several, actually: hot ass girls... you need to be here! But as you noted once before, I'm more comfortable now with memories and nights left quiet than the sweaty drama itself; in the morning I'll slip and slide, these tires tracking through the sloppy white, a full day of work ahead, and that trace'll be company enough. That'll be just enough.
We expected something, something better than before, we expected something more
Another conversation I've on my mind, and sure beverage'd a role to play then, too, but still, it remains true: we all have different expectations of ourselves than we do of others. I'll bury the past to resurrect the ghosts, and somehow the biggest surprise to me these tired days is that I'm "only" eight or ten thousand words behind. Each day, I think, this is more true, as if the whole venture were no more than a testament I've more desire in that which'll punish and test than that which'll come along pleasantly. I'll embrace the fire ever more for all the preaching of patience and ice; some blazes haven't much need of stoking. You might well have known you didn't have to walk away. I've always had the war.
Saturday, November 13
So much better you'd been, it seemed. So much better I'd been, it seemed. We've these exercises at restraint and moderation and the model lives they've all ever dreamed for us. Practical citizens, responsible adults. The things I've never been, except in these occasional plays, the one-act dramas; you were better at theater, you know, even when I took the credit. I suspect we've both tired the audiences before they've even quite sat, on more than one occasion, but. No matter.
Barely I'd been drinking, barely I'd been playing with this pendulum and the weight I'd in past times let swing and sway so freely. I'd not let it roam so, scattering all these balls from the hands that held them juggling, had done no such thing, least not recently. Seems, strangely enough, I'd even made some uneven peace with the not running & barely biking business, though the acquisition of this particular slovenliness still seems foreign to me.
But, well. There's always this, you know. The swimming away from land and out to sea, the slow slip back into that which fits most familiar, that which even in its discomfort is comforting. perhaps as a result of its discomfort. We did grow up good Lutherans, you know. There's always the night to slip on, the night of lonely moon and warming drink and the ride or run forever unlit, the night of the fatigues near enough forgotten in the chase... there's the routine to slip back towards, as you well know, even if we'd mostly forgotten, always the histories that'll circle back around, of choices made even as they're forgotten even as the last time 'round's only just then remembered.
Time and regret are forever living in the same familiar pools, aren't they?
So it goes, you and I and all these 'we's' changing forever more only to mostly stay the same. Re-reading these essays and correspondences that have sprung from the same dark corners, and how much the language we've shared! By god, remembering the days when I was so vain as to think I knew something more than the realization I knew nothing. I don't think you ever quite shared that particular illusion, though that isn't to say you were at peace with it. Anyways - I still know nothing; we still know nothing. I think we've both gotten better at accepting it. Maybe?
So we're sublimating our personalized antidotes to loneliness as this essay I'd meant to share with you says, and we're searching for a sign that we're doing it right as the lyrics go, and really: we're tired, tired, tired, and altogether completely out of answers, again. We're tired and it's too much work and too much thought and too much, too much. There's sleep and there's drink and there's easy apathy, even if it's less easy to actually forget. There's always another day, though. Tomorrow, maybe. Next week. Next month.
Today, though? There's just not enough time or patience or energy or words. Today's never enough. As you said, it's nothing more than nothing. Except, of course, when we're both wrong.
That'll be tomorrow, maybe.
Tuesday, November 9
I rode home hard as I might last night, feeling hemmed in perhaps by all this (relative) restraint I've been somehow exercising, and if this damaged hip were screaming already by the middle the first three-block climb, screaming forward as I was to race the night and the lights – tight as they are, that cars'll often enough not make them all on the climb – if were screaming as always she did before the big breakdown, the left always collapsing 'fore the right, you know, well no matter. It'd been too long, I decided early – several weeks, in fact, since I'd last embraced the forsaken feelings of pushing, pushing, pushing and the burn that'll swallow and make everything whole even as it'll flame with the effort. Into the highest gearings I shifted as the climb became more gradual, this mile-ish stretch of dark, dark night (even at 6:30) and so little traffic that I'd the road to myself, chewing up the center of it like a lunchroom fruit-by-the-foot, rolling it all beneath me and behind me. So it was that edges grew fuzzy – a difficult thing to do in the dark, indeed! – but I'd long before slipped from cussing at the effort, the foolishness, into silence, this breath altogether too ragged now for even the thought of expletives. Mind blank and the road before likewise empty, I pressed on as most I love, proceeding entirely by muscle memory, the knowledge that even in such dark, I knew this road well, knew its curbs contours and where trash bags may or may not be lying in dark wait.
It was delicious and it was dumb and I'd forgotten how damn fantastic it felt to be so damn alive.
There's a ring around the moon
Pleasure is pain and pain is pleasure, I told her, part tongue-in-cheek, but mostly on account of this foot still a little swollen to fit there. Still, the truth is. My gypsy heart was in flames, what with these traveling, itchy feet. Quite literally, too: the metatarsals so delicious in how they'll itch and I, perpetually forgetting, scratch them until the nerves once more awake to the blessed fire that comes flooding back; it'll be a while before I'm running again, I know this, yet this foot throbbing anew after each scratch is still something to savor, a reminder of how long trail miles'll break them down, swell them up like fish. I'm realizing altogether too easily how low this pain tolerance's stooped, but for the trade-off of expressing it a bit better.
I'm gonna fly all night down
So once home from this ride I fell myself right off the bike, less fatigued than straight-out jello-limbed. How delicious it was! Even as the last red bull bubbled dangerously in my sternum, even as the sky continued to spin and I'd trouble keeping a breath, what a thing of dazed beauty. So I set Proud Mary beside the garage and unevenly wobbled, hoping that such a thing'd make gravity return and the world settle, but I'd bile for a reward instead. And I thought of the littlest, how he's so unevenly been sick these past few days, but in truth, if I'm sick, it's more a matter this spinning head than any sort of bug.
I'm gonna fly down that road until I get where I'm going
Sick such that I'd savor the fire of this block-headed ride only naturally continuing to grow the evening through, hip and quad and the tightness full in my hamstring too; it'll be no surprise when the ache'll have me awake well into the night. But, what? I've no cares greater the moment, so short-sighted am I, and by god, I'd do it again and again and again. Of course, I've these plans already for a long ride next time my schedule'll allow it, cooler temperatures and these falling flakes be damned. Such is the use of tape and wrap and ibuprofen, being only so many days that'll allow themselves filled with the living, and fill them I certainly hope to. There's always rum or whiskey or words, besides, and if another vantage's necessary? Well, I did gain myself 2400 words last night on account of being so awake, and if the following day's often as not a four red bull dance with the weary, well. Everything's its cost; these legs go on.
And the silvery moon so fine
I'm savoring these days, and if anything I'm delighting in more than these many aches (weather changing'll not help either, you know), if there's anything I'll hold more than the aches and bruises and the weary, it's the things I associate: memories and nostalgia and the theft of memories; the smell of smoke and sweat and pines at night, the sounds of this guitar and click-clacking keys and who cooks for you ringing in the night. I'm stealing all the ways I've admired most in you and in others, minus the ones I can't be bothered with, of course. Words are words are words, but they're not all created equal, and I'd rather these to my others; I'd rather yours to mine; I'd rather none to those of most.
And the air tastes like wine
But a bookend, every tale in greater need even of conclusion than introduction (isn't that what separates fiction from fact, besides?). I'd rode to work this morning, fingers chilled as only a descent at twenty-eight degrees and lightly gloved would allow, and I'd rode stiff, feeling last night's choices and this morning's weather; it was riding home, this return from an emotional disaster of a day at school, I'd the fullest appreciation of precisely why, regardless the weather, I'd prefer to ride or run. Sky was brilliant as only a winter sky can be at dusk, the lights of the city reflected in this intimately close ceiling of clouds; slipping and sliding and laughing my way through the slushy mess of gravel and a carpet of autumn's most brilliant yellows and reds, I savored the snow on these eastern-most flanks, graded as it was from a soft shadow to a much thicker and more meaningful white on the upper slopes. The few peaks I could see were only barely visible, as if tip-toe distended to peer a white face above their respective rims of clouds. A hankering I'd had strong for this camera I so rarely remember, but even as I rode, I realized I was glad I hadn't it with me; trying to capture such a moment would've only taken away from the moment, the unthinking simplicity and beauty of it, the cleanest escape I might have ever hoped from the day.
And the road slips and slides...
Sunday, November 7
Having so regularly underperformed at playing nice, choosing passion over reason as once she'd less gently put it, perhaps it understandably came that I simply chose not to play. If I'd not the graces for so many social cues, not the patience to play even by the rules which I did know, not the discipline to refrain nor moderate - if I'd not the knack for such norms, then I'd instead make my own. It's this that I think of, sitting here before another blank email I've far less the trust nor courage than the words to send. Which is, of course, still the equivalent of saying nothing, but there's this: most of us wish solitude most when we're with others, but I wish of others most when I'm cold and could use some extra warmth. It could well be easier to just eat more, I realize.
Don't, don't leave yourself alone for too many days...
Sooner than you know you're gonna start slipping
So this other would-be mountain man and I, hearing of the movie they'd made about Aron Ralston, speak of lost spaces and the realizations that such openness and aloneness might sometimes push the spirit towards. Having just again revisited Alexander Supertramp myself, it's of course already on the mind, but still. You know, on those long adventures of yours..., he starts, middle o' nowheres at the conversational fork. And perhaps I've misread him, and its not intended as a kindly and gentle reproach, the sort only the best of teachers can offer, but well. We all read the lines different, you know, and you know better than most perhaps just how poor in fact I sometimes am at finding the fine print hidden between them. Not the patience to be bothered, as it were, I suspect.
So I think I can solve my problems by myself...
But then I go again, wishing never solved a problem
Not as if what he points isn't true, for it is; a bit of an isolationist these past few months I've been, as if the touring, once begun, never quite quit. And if I'm naturally a recluse, this has only been more true each successive year, as if I'd a web I've been slowly undoing, one golden corn silk drawn back each pull. Deliberate but quick I've been, as if to limit the damages of any more hands come swiping through, sweeping up what I'd thought rightfully my own. Likely a girl, as most these stories go. So it goes, the tale's not new.
You're sharp alright... but no one's asking to leave it alone, leave it alone
But. Some of these are strands not so completely severed as to be beyond repair, and so I'll crawl out along these strings of letters, see to what states I may yet mail them off. To the French, alas, no, but many others, yes. This mountain man revolutionary friend - an original, I swear it - had tried calling several times in the early fall; I'd returned one, but admittedly been less than present at the time. A truth I'll swear upon, though: brothers are not so easily lost to time and space, and he'd been on the mind especially much these past few days, thoughts lost as they were in the dreams of trees, and so it was that correspondence began anew. As with the best friends, we picked up just where we'd left off. Threads we'd left and now returned to, conversations of plants and what'll make a community of love, of how knowledge and wonder both fulfill each other and play the spoil-sports. Only natural I've the urge to crack the same joke I'd cracked then, when it first came up, even if he'd never quite realized how mostly serious I was: no wonder I find so much mystery in the world, relying more on senses than sense as I may be wont to do.
The time that we wasted and the place where we fall
Will we wake in the morning and know what it was for?
These words aren't making it to the fifty thousand. But these are the words I know how to share. Or, put another way: I'm sorry. Care to be one of those friends that remembers better where we left off than why we did so? Like she said, I'm a mess. Like I said, I'm sorry.
Wednesday, November 3
I'm working on drawing a straight line
And I'll draw until I get one right
It's bold and dark girl, can't you see
I done drawn a line between you and me
Drawing lines any sort of straight's always been a difficulty, and narratives haven't ever been an exception; I remember how frustrated you were with me when I spoke of time in puddles, a mess of memories scatter-plotted with no discernible order. It'll come as no surprise then, of course, that this fiction business is such a struggle (aren't most things, though?). I'm writing my ass off and still it feels as if I'm falling behind. I've events, scenes, bits of dialogue, these characters in my dreams, but the forks that'll connect them I've less than no idea of. As to the tale I might yet choose, might yet find a way of connecting? I've no idea, accustomed as I am to simply falling in and falling down and falling apart. Builders and destroyers, you'd said, and well. I like fire.
I had a hole in the middle where the lightning went through it
Told my friends not to worry
I had a hole in the middle someone's sideshow wouldn't do it
I told my friends not to worry
And if I've learned all too little, at least I've perhaps learned this. There are always scenes. There are always characters. But there are only themes and arcs and climaxes and conclusions where we choose to contrive them, and these strange, sad characters, little as I know them, seem deserving of better, least in any form I'd be able to offer. Or maybe I'd rather run than stay still and slowly construct. But again, isn't that also the norm, the pattern?
It wasn't me, I didn't dig this ditch
I was walking for weeks before I fell in
So I've some of the usuals on repeat; Sad Songs and Alexi Murdoch and Into The Wild yesterday, High Violet and Midnight Organ Fight, Neon Bible and Winter of Mixed Drinks today. My wrists are sore from these crutches and the chafed spots along my ribs are slowly 'coming calloused; besides this idea I've my fingers should be worn from writing, were they not already calloused. I raced ideas across the page on my break, then raced a student in the hall yesterday; he hopping and I crutching, we both got a reminder proper hallway etiquette. Forever behind on the words, forever seven; both are no less true than seemingly always they've been.
The rest of me is a version of man, built to collapse into crumbs
And if I hadn't come down to the coast to disappear
I may have died in a land-slide of the rocks, the hopes and fears
The leaves outside are brilliant, even as the snow's occasionally flying on the ridges up above, and I've all these mountain runs I'd not a chance at before fall began sliding towards winter and postholing. No wonder then I'm only half-attendant, day-dreaming of ventures for healthier times, when one of my students tells me her mom's age, not so much older than my own, and she a senior in high school. A co-worker and I just look at each other, force ourselves later to laugh at the absurdities of it all. I'll of course never be old enough not to be a child, you know, much less raise them; a memory skipping back, spiraling out in one of these puddles, and I remember back when we were all drunk, celebrating our freedoms, and a toast'd been made: to raisin,' a verb better suited shenanigans than progeny. Laughter's a common response to uncomfortable truths, you know.
Yes I'm listening I'm listening
I can tell that you are serious
You're looking for that hurt look around my mouth
Another stone skipped across pools in time, remembering toasts. You'd asked for a happy story, and I'd asked for time to think. That night, I think it was, I drunkenly wrote a reply. One time I drank... then a growler, then a fifth... and I danced and I was ahppy a dnlife was good. Even now, I'm more impressed with the spelling than anything. There's no time like the present for the fuck-ups of the past, memory being the wormhole it is, which is only to say this: I've never been any good at coloring between the lines, much less reading them. Do the happy portraits come without the re-imaging, without the technicolor nostalgia? I know best the wistful and best-forgotten; they're most often a mix of greys and pastels and rusted autumn earth tones.
This is a story and you are not in it
Flocks of pages torn out ...
Here's your shovel, there's the ground
As it were, this isn't a good story, not much better than terrible, truth be told, but equally true - it could be worse. Puddles I keep splashing about each time I sit to write, but still, the words I've wrestled forth. One of these times, I wonder if I won't just fall in and disappear, swimming right on through the earth's molten core, there purified and memory wiped, until I pop 'right through, a new mind in China. That'd be a fresh start, maybe. (And likely a better tale.)