Sunday, January 30, 2011

night of the living


part i: kilgore’s creed
            passion. i feel like i have none of it anymore.
i used to be a very passionate human being. i was passionate about a few girls. i was passionate about a few bands that i was in. i was passionate about a few friends. i was passionate about my education and my future career. all gone now, it would seem.
the girls i once loved are strangers to me now. in my mind, they are ghosts that only briefly haunted my dreams at one point in time or another. thoughts of those dreams only conjure up shells, templates of what it was that i once desired. the bands that i was in dissipated long ago, and my own solo project flounders in my excuses for my laziness. my friends have dispersed across the state and across the country. i feel so disconnected from all of them, who i love dearly—i feel so distant. once, we were all so tightly connected and our lives intertwined. now, we are merely aware of one another’s existence—but entirely unaware of what that existence is experiencing. this is what life does to human beings and i realize this, but that doesn’t mean that i can’t complain about it. the education i was once so involved in and the career that i was so excited about now seem bland, a waste. i know that this is not necessarily true, but it certainly feels that way.
i am dead. or perhaps by definition, i am undead. i feel nothing. i feel like i am thinking nothing. i merely exist and continue to exist only because of the instinct to eat, sleep, and keep my financial and professional responsibilities. otherwise, i don’t feel like my consciousness is making any decisions anymore.
long ago, i decided that thinking was no longer a good idea, and that i would turn off my consciousness for a while, and go on autopilot, and let my subconscious take care of everything. what was once supposed to be a break has become a lifestyle that my consciousness grew dependent on.
this reminds me of the book “timequake”, by the late author kurt vonnegut, jr. briefly, in the book, a “timequake” has occurred and jolted everybody back ten years in time. they can do nothing differently than they did the first time around, so everybody is basically working on autopilot, because there is no point in trying to think about anything or make any decisions, because there is nothing that can be changed. when everybody catches up with the origin of the timequake, people are so used to not doing anything that they don’t do anything when their free will is restored, and all hell breaks loose. the protagonist of the semi-autobiographical work was always aware of the timequake. so when time catches up, he goes about trying to make people aware that it is time for them to use their free will again to make decisions before total chaos emerges. as total chaos emerges in my mind, shattering the serenity i felt whilst on autopilot, i think it is time for me to say to myself what the protagonist, whose name is kilgore trout, said to everybody who was still on autopilot. and this is it: “you were sick, but now you’re well again, and there is work to do.”

part ii: the city of the hills
            today i went on a road trip with one of my best friends from college, who was born, raised, and still resides in west albany. the plan was to drive through several catskill ranges and make our way back to oneonta, where we attended college. i have been to oneonta once since graduation. it made me happy, anxious, scared, and confused all at the same time. i decided that i never wanted to go back. i was unmoved when i was made aware that i would be going back to oneonta today. i was also unmoved when i became aware of the fact that afterwards, i would be seeing my favorite band in clifton park. this is not normal for me.
            as we entered the city of the hills, i am not sure what i thought or felt. maybe i wasn’t supposed to feel anything. i did not feel like i had been away for 16 months. i did not feel like a stranger. but i also felt distant, in concordance with the fact that i no longer live or study there—that not many of my friends still live there. one of my dearest friends does, and i surprised her, and spent time with her and her housemates, and it was nice. we then went to a local, famous bbq joint east of the city. and it was delicious. prior to all of this, we drove around downtown, and we drove around the campus. that evoked at least some thoughts and feelings: flashes of images of a past life—a dream, now—filled my mind as it gazed upon these places with modern, tired, confused eyes.
            when it was time to leave oneonta, i think i felt then as i do now. and it is how i think i feel about much of my life, as of late: i feel like i am never actually acknowledging that i am living—that i am actually doing anything. i am never fully aware of where i am or what i am doing. my mind is always on a past that i long for or a future that i am hoping for. i feel like luke skywalker on degobah, when yoda is rattling off his distaste for luke’s tendency to “look away at the future—toward the horizon”, and to never keep “his mind on where he was—what he was doing”. that is how i feel. i think i need something meaningful to be happening in the present to keep my mind from wandering into the past or merely dreaming of a future—and not working toward one. but what? its up to me to find that meaning.
            and here we are back at me rescinding a prior life view: i didn’t want my life or my work to have meaning anymore. i wanted to exist above and beyond anybody else’s demands or expectations—i wanted to exist without responsibility. and now i am finding that life without meaning has assumed the form of the life of a zombie. eating and moving. eating a movie. that is all i ever do. it cannot be all i ever do.
            this is all crap.
            the show was amazing. i did not drink. i sang loudly. i danced a little. but i listened. and i watched. and i got goose bumps. the kind that i know that i get when my brain is happy for reasons that i cannot explain.
            that kind of happiness is one that derives from passion. a deep, indefinable, unconstructed mass of pure passion. i must delve into this mass again and find myself again. or something.
this is all crap.
today was a good day. there is no denying that. i need humans and love in my life so that i can feel again. i know when this all started happening to me. and i sort of understand why. but i don’t. and here i am rescinding a prior life view: i was fed up with love. and as stupid as i feel, and as stupid as love is, i know that it can reanimate the dead. and that’s something.
here’s hoping.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

death


The morning of Sunday, October 17, 2010, I received a phone call from my mother, early in the morning. I missed the call, as I was doing laundry across the hall from my apartment. However, when I saw that she had called, I knew something was wrong. And so I called her back and asked, “What is wrong?” But I already knew the answer before I even redialed. I knew it had to be about my grandfather. Perhaps another fall, like he did during the summer.
He was in a coma. He had had a massive intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke sometime between 5 AM and 7 AM that morning. Surgery would only relieve the pressure—not relieve the damage. He had at most, a week to live—at the least, less than a day.
So my father came to get me, so that I could be there with my family should the worst happen. When we were on our way to back to the Valley, I did something I don’t think I have ever done: I asked my father a personal question. I asked him about when his grandfather died of Alzheimer’s disease. I don’t recall his answer, but what he said next, unbeknownst to me, would become very relevant to me. He said something along the lines of this: “When the first member of my immediate family passed away, life stopped being fun anymore, it just became about wondering who I was going to lose next.”
We got to the hospital an hour and a half before my grandfather’s heart stopped beating. I think the most difficult part of that day was being around my family. I don’t mean that derogatorily. Its just, I expressed no emotion whatsoever. When he passed, one tear escaped my left eye. That is it. I was just empty. I don’t know if it had to do with all of the other nonsense going on around me and in my head at the time that left me completely apathetic, or if that was just a mental defense mechanism against knowledge of the fact that I just watched my grandfather die. And so, I was patient and quiet and just standing there while everybody else went to pieces. I felt bad not only because I pitied them, but because outwardly, nobody would think that I was feeling absolutely nothing. And truth be told: I really wasn’t.
I was the last one out. I kissed my grandfather on his forehead before leaving. It was still warm. And so the rest of the week ensued. My grandmother stayed with us the entire week that I was home. We all ate every meal together at my mother’s house and my aunt and uncle’s house—food made and sent to us by friends of the family.
My father always told me as a child that I was not to go to wakes, because he didn’t want that to be my last memory of distant aunts and uncles. As an adult, my father always told me that I should go to wakes so that way the first one I ever went to wasn’t for someone from my immediate family.
So later that week, I attended my first wake. It was difficult seeing my grandfather put on display like that, but I guess that’s how it goes. I had to stand there and shake the hands of 500 people who came to pay their respects; it was awkward and unbearable and the most uncomfortable I had been since being a giant tissue for my family in the emergency room after my grandfather took his last breath, but I guess that’s how it goes. [Again, I do not mean that derogatorily—being there for my family is my responsibility, and I am honored and proud to have it.]
I was a pallbearer. My grandfather could have knocked off a few pounds. And the sky could have decided not to rain. And my grandmother could have decided to just have the funeral where every other funeral is held and not up a tight, steep staircase to the church. But such was the situation. The funeral itself was not difficult. The military ceremony at the cemetery was not difficult. The most difficult part of that day, honestly, was everybody asking me if I was OK and saying how sorry they felt for me. I think I just wanted everybody to leave me alone with my non-thoughts. And I think I still do.
And so that was that. A week after the wake and a day before what would have been his 81st birthday I got two tattoos in his honor. I will not discuss them.
I still have not thought much about any of that. I don’t think there is much to think about. He was old. He had been suffering from dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease for 5 years—all of which I had been away for at college and in Albany. I think somewhere in there, I had already let go of him, and had already had had years to deal with it. I don’t know if that s necessarily true, but it certainly is plausible.
May he rest in peace.
I have noticed recently, however, that I am beginning to realize what my father was well aware of after the first passing of an immediate family member: that life isn’t fun anymore, and that I am simply waiting for when I have to go through this all over again for the next family member or friend. I think of my dear cat, and think of when he will no longer be around to greet me at the door, or wake me up in the middle of the night with a barrage of claws to my forehead. He is my best friend, I have finally acknowledged, and when I think of his passing someday, I finally feel something: I am emotionally ripped to shreds. I literally feel awful, and have this unshakeable feeling of despair. The same goes for when I think of my mother. Or other family members.
I had a conversation today in which I revealed these fears. I was told not to look at the people I love in terms of how much time they have left, but in terms of how much time I can possibly spend with them. I have previously thought this over, as well. The life I chose was supposed to keep me as busy as possible and as isolated from friends and family as possible. I just wanted to be independent and alone. I got my wish. And now I cannot help but feel like the last two years where I could have been living in Frankfort, I would have had more time to spend with my grandfather—and could have more time to spend with my mother, and others.
[This has no easily foreseeable place in this writing, so I will just say it: over the past 3 year and 7 months especially, I have become incredibly close with my mother. I now fear losing her and anything ever happening to her more than I fear my own death. I love you, mom.]
But in this conversation that I had today, it was pointed out that that is what life has dealt me, and phone calls and visits are still better than nothing. And this is true. And I need to appreciate this more. But I must say: spending the holidays at my mother’s house, with my grandmother staying with us—it certainly makes me feel like living there again. I could never move back to Frankfort, but I certainly hope (or fantasize) that my mother will move with me when I move out of New York in three years. I think it will be very difficult for me to live further than driving distance from her.
Death is all around me. I just need to find it in myself to try and live with the life I have chosen, and make the best of time that my loved ones and I get to spend with each other, while we can.
For all I know, I’m next.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

america, the beautiful (epilogue)

flying at a tremendous velocity, kilometers above the surface of planet earth, i gaze upon the land below me: the united states of america.

from way up here, a stranger to this nation—or this planet—may feel that this plot of land, comprised of hundreds of thousands of square miles of rock, dirt, grass, trees, and water, truly is united. from way up here, there are no discernible borders. from way up here, as the sun sets and the ground turns to gold, it truly is america the beautiful.

but it pains me to think that at ground level, this country above which i am flying, is anything but united. we are strongly divided based on our beliefs, political affiliation, class, and social and economic status. and these differences—instead of being celebrated—are met with disdain, hatred, and violence.

this—however—is not limited to the united states of america: this is the story of mankind.

i imagine that someday, when the shit really hits the global fan, someone will be flying up here—just like me, now—to escape whatever cruel fate mankind has bestowed upon itself down below. and they may be thinking, as i am right now, “if only we got along better, maybe we could have avoided this mess.”

i am not inclined to pray anymore, but if i had to say a prayer for the united states of america, and for the rest of the world, this would be it:

I pray that the people of Planet Earth will soon realize that we are all in this boat together, and that this ship is sinking, and that nobody is helping anybody by dancing for rain. I pray that the people of Planet Earth can come together in unity and enjoy this beautiful, blue-green wonder, while it still lasts, and maybe do a little housekeeping now and again. I pray that the people of Planet Earth will put down their arms and join their hands, and get as much beauty and wonder out of life as they can—what else could anybody want?

Friday, January 14, 2011

to get where i am going (the end)

tonight is my last night in florida. my vacation has nearly reached its end. i have done what i set out to do: i have written. i have written a lot. i have written candidly. and i have written unrestrained. tomorrow, while plane-hopping back to my dear albany, i hope to reread what i have wrote, and reflect on all that i have thought about, dwelled upon, and expunged from the mental queue in my brain. inevitably, i will make minor edits along the way—but i want this project to be as raw as possible, though i know i will never be content with first drafts. and i don’t think i ever will be: there is nothing that i have ever done that i was pleased with the first time around. i suppose that stems from me either being a perfectionist, or just being plain lousy at everything i do. any semblance of success in my life—i suppose—will be the judge of that.

i look out my window on the 15th and topmost floor of the aquanique condominium. though i gaze upon the evening lights of fort pierce from my altitudinous throne, i feel like such a small part of a large world that i am curiously feeling myself wanting to be a part of. this notion has persistently—in one way or another—been nagging at me for the past year or so. i have been saying over and over again that ‘it is time to do something about it’. last summer, i took a small step. now, i think its time to do something more. inexorably, i will—it’s all just a matter of cutting the bullshit and making the time. read on.

i described several things the other evening that i had been meaning to do, that i wanted to do. one was to make plans to actively seek out the remnants of the relatively minor relationships i have, scattered about the city. and so i have. my entire week is booked. this is uncharacteristic of me as of late, and it is a change that is beyond welcome, and is well overdue. i hope that this reemerging social side of me finds it well to stick around awhile. i am so much more fun that way.

the other was to place a phone call to my dear friend k. and so on tuesday night, i did. she was unavailable as she was climbing an ice mountain of death with my friend and fellow summer intern, who i will call d. he—unlike myself—was able to make it to her hometown this winter. i plan to make that trip later this year. i hope that i can.

coincidentally, they placed a phone call to me as i was writing this very document. we all talked for a while and it was nice: d and i about cell phones and books—k and i about life, as always. and it was nice. for a half hour, a part of my brain, un-stimulated since their departure, became active again, and a rusted tongue was put to use. i cannot help but feel like my inadequacy with verbal communication subsequent to five consecutive months of perpetual solitude is blatantly obvious in conversation—it is to me—but it was still nice talking with friends that i had made and shared experiences with during a time in my life that was immeasurably better—though not lacking its own unique peculiarities. i will never tell.

at this moment, as the smell of what glade calls ‘french vanilla’ air freshener permeates my nasal passage and excites my olfactory nerves, which—hardwired into my limbic system—pass along electric messages that cause my brain to question yet again, “where am i?” i have finally become at least somewhat lost for words. let me think.

today, for the first time in what must be months, i was thinking of my future, and not of my past—not recreating the environs of the past. i was entertaining a fantasy i used to have wherein i progress successfully through graduate school, and am on the precipice of the next stage of my life.

inevitably, i will make it to california, specifically, orange county. i am a child destined for the sun and sea.

and so, in my fantasy, i am a postdoc at the university of california, irvine, working in the laboratory of dr. suzanne sandmeyer, ph.d., and living in a beachfront apartment in laguna beach; a laser blue mini cooper s convertible is in my designated garage space. this is not entirely unrealistic; it is—in fact—highly probable.

someday i must leave my beloved albany—i have come to terms with this. the oc is far different from albany, and it makes me feel far different than i do in albany. in albany—especially in the summertime—i am overcome by a persistent feeling that i will never be able to describe fully. i cannot help but feel like a creature that a manifestation of albany—organic, and sentient—could discern from the rest of its residents, and have a unique respect and appreciation for. i feel at one with the city, as though it were my mother, and i were its child; the rest of its inhabitants, merely coincidental. during my brief stays in california, i feel entirely different, but i am comfortable with this feeling.

it is important to me to feel at one with my natural surroundings—nature and ecological aesthetics are important to my mental health and general wellbeing (bare with me). i was exposed to albany during the summer of 2008. my life changed there. i became inexplicably drawn there—it became my home. i would be unable to move anywhere else in this country—or this solar system, for that matter—where i did not feel at home, and did not feel like a child of the ground upon which i walked—the air which i breathed. this may seem intuitive to some people, but it is paramount to me. california—though i have only spent a total of 23 days there—feels like home. and i feel like i could very easily develop a similar relationship with orange county as i have with the city of albany.

time will tell.

until then, i will try to focus on my present—and make the most of it—so as to build toward this potential future. nothing ever works out the way one has planned, but for the past three years, on a global scale, it certainly seems to have. i can only hope i can make the most of the opportunities that greet me in the next three years, and end up in a place where i am happy.
i think that this is what i have learned, this week. there is much to be done, so that i can get where i am going. and along the way, i must make the most of every situation that i find myself in—good, bad, or indifferent. this is not news to me—it is probably a deep-held philosophy of mine. but in the midst of the maladies to which—in my weakened state—i could not help but succumb to this fall, i lost sight of all of that. it would seem—and it is not surprising, and is somewhat humorous—that i had to come all the way to the beaches of fort pierce, florida, to find it again.

i guess you never know what you will find buried in the sand. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

time machine

i am watching the sun set from my penthouse suite in flattened fort pierce, florida. it seems to be lasting an eternity, quite unlike those of mostly-flattened albany, new york. and it is wonderful.

albany sunsets—like most things in life—begin—as we know it will—unexpectedly—as we know it does—and are beautiful—as we know they certainly well can be. then—without warning—they disappear into the night. albany sunsets—unlike most things in life—return—predictably—some 23.5 hours later; most beautiful things in life—if repeatable—rarely repeat with such predictable consistency.

but this is not the subject of this little rant—it is merely an observational aside as i open a new document—blank, full of opportunities.

as i spend this week in sunny—though now, cold—florida, i cannot help but be reminded of california. perhaps because the last time i was here, my next destination was not albany, but california. also, it is undeniable that i miss california. i miss placentia, where my best friend lived. i miss his girlfriend, and talking about gaga. i miss downtown fullerton, where the girls—though often horrific in appearance—are as talkative and persistent as albany bros. and that is a nice change.

as i listen to gaga, and watch the sunset, i cannot help but reminded of this glamorous nightlife of which i often find myself fantasizing. wearing a casual, well-fit suit from h&m. at some vegas casino, or some socal club. cocktail in hand. loud music bumping. sun going down. i know not why sunsets and certain music conjures these images in my brain, but they do. i know not why my brain instinctively desires such experiences, but it does.

this here has no point. i am simply exploring a thought aloud. this has achieved nothing that i can detect, though it is nice to finally get this peculiarity out. its been poking in and out of my consciousness for months now.

achievement!

today, i continued to feel like i was in a different place and time, as i have consistently felt during my stay in florida thus far. i believe it is california, circa january 2010, that my brain feels i am. i believe it thinks this because of the warmth, the angle of daytime sunlight, the music i’ve been listening to, and not to mention, tonight’s sunset.

this condition is something i have been more or less afflicted with since july of 2008. i don’t necessarily call it an affliction in the traditional sense—although it certainly could become one, as i discuss below.

i have written of this before in a different place, and i will be brief. during my internship in albany, i went to one of my most favorite, restorative locales in the region as a part of what i will call a mini ‘field trip’ implemented by the program director. while at this place, sights, words, and sounds all came rushing back to me. i literally felt like the chemical environment of my brain was drained and replaced with one from a previous time—circa july of 2007. this was a bad time in my life, but the time i was reminded of in particular was not so bad. this experience set in motion my eventual discovery of some of the fundamental things in my near-to-everyday life that are essential to my wellbeing, happiness, and basic motor and nervous function. and i had no idea, at the time, that all of these things would be discovered via being reminded of a time a year prior in which my life as literally crumbling around me—as i drowned in expensive rum and cheap beer. irony.

since then, i find that—more often than not—i am commandeering any semblance of natural ambient stimulation and replacing it with a carefully crafted collection of sounds, images, and places—one perhaps complimenting a physically encountered other. which is to say, for example, i will go to certain places at certain times of the year and listen to certain music while there. sometimes, new places and sounds are associated with certain times of year, and those will be included in my arsenal of ‘whatevers’. sensory blasters? experience augmenters? experience repeaters?

i know not what to name it, but the last suggestion gets back to where this could be an affliction. you see: for the most part, it is comforting. although all things change at an awfully unpredictable rate, i can make my own little, silent rituals and implement certain ones at certain times in order to give some sort of comforting repetition to my life. comforting in that where i am and what i am listening to are comforting, and comforting in that repetition can be relieving when life is falling apart, revealing the ever-present backdrop of stagnation and unpredictable depravity.

however, what of when life decides to progress? will these little comforting rituals—routine, by now—impede the development of new relationships, new directions? is it possible that always recreating environments of the past—though for comfort—are preventing me from taking the initiative to create something new and move forward? i do not know. though the thought occurred to me today when i acknowledged that i am on a vacation in florida, but feel like i am in california, a year earlier. though the glimmer of comfort (and this time, i know not for what reason) is nice, it would be great to actually feel like my mind is present where my body is—and not just along for the ride—and is registering the time as new memories of a recent vacation, not just as a rapidly dissipating cloud of dreams.

i could be overanalyzing this because i am thinking about this for the first time. alternatively, i could be actively debating a potential flaw in my mental design—which would be one of millions, i can guarantee you.

i have no eloquent way to end this.

until next time, kiddies.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

fall 2010, explained

human communication.

i remember as a young boy who had just discovered the internet that i would talk for hours and hours to friends online. some were friends that i had rarely talked to in school, but ended up talking to for the sake of talking to somebody on the computer. others were friends that i had made via chat rooms or some damned thing. but the thing is, i remember that i would come home from school, do homework or whatever, and just talk.

as college ensued, i still talked often with friends online, though this gradually dwindled as my college career progressed, as i made more friends in closer proximity that i ended up spending time with. but even before that, during my first year of college, i made a lot of friends on my floor, with which i spent many hours talking about simply whatever. my sophomore, junior, and senior years, that list always contracted and expanded again, as all collectives of friends do. the point is: i was constantly and consistently interacting with others.

nowadays, i find that i rarely talk to anybody about anything. this is most likely because there isn’t anybody online or around to talk to anymore. everybody from high school is either far away living their lives, or—for the most part—living at home still, and—more often than not—nurturing both spouse and child. all of my friends from college are out trying to make it in this shit world. and here i am—doing just the same—all alone, with barely anybody familiar around.

i chose this life—preached it—almost three years ago now, and the story of how this all came to be is common knowledge among most. [if you—the reader—are unaware, just poke around here—around my swiss cheese brain—for a little while, and i am sure that you will come across something. i promise you: the holes in there are large enough for even the tallest person to navigate them with ease. just watch out for the cobwebs and empty beer bottles.] i chose this life of being alone (i refused to ever call it loneliness, because that’s not what it was). the simplicity of being responsible only to ones self, freed of the drama and problems of others.

curiously, i thrived on the problems of others as the meat of most conversations in my early life. it would seem that i was drawn to people in distress. i liked to try to help people as best i could, despite the fact that my own young life, so innocent, mundane, stagnate, and stale, did not afford me experiences from which to gain knowledge that could be passed on to them to assist with their current situations. nevertheless, i was good at helping others through their tough times, and it was through this that i developed friendships—this was how many of my young relationships with people began.

i began thinking about this because i was thinking of my conversations with my grandparents over the past two days. mostly, beyond just inquiring as to how everybody has been, conversations are comprised of situational observations, and the like—there is no meat to the conversations—no depth. and who says there has to be? i don’t. but it made me realize that i rarely have conversations anymore with anybody with any meat in them or depth to them. these types of conversations—i have always believed—are paramount to developing strong relationships with people.

the fact that i am thinking about any of this (most of which is being thought of as it is being written down, which is to say, that none of what i am writing was premeditated), would suggest that i desire these types of conversations and relationships—desire what i had as a child. this is in direct contrast to my staunch position over the past three years. after a summer alone in albany, i just wanted to graduate, and live alone to be able to develop my new life in my own way away from people, who, through observation of their activities and beliefs via a variety of media, i grew to detest. yet here i am, three years later, feeling quite unlike i expected: i am no longer just alone—but lonely; i have very few friends in albany. aside from my friend joe, who truly treats me like a friend that i feel i could never be in return, all of my relationships with acquaintances are, for the most part, very superficial. i love them for who they are, but there is nothing really there. this could be my fault for i have not made an astounding effort to get to know anybody well. the latter stems from my distaste with people in our society, as well as perpetual exhaustion. i’ve been aching to change this. and so i think that i will.

anyway: i have not made an astounding effort to get to know anybody new, except for one girl, this summer. i don’t believe that i have really alluded anywhere or to anyone that i think the majority of my near mental collapse this fall was due--in part--to a series of conversations that i had with her.


toward the end of this summer, i finally ended up spending time outside of work with the summer interns. i had been meaning to all summer long, but had not. that summer, i was feeling particularly sociable, and had already made several new friends. but much of that fell through, as it always seems to. i digress: they were a spectacular bunch of fun intellectuals with whom i spent a good deal of time. in a short amount of time, we hung out a lot and did all sorts of things all over albany. i immediately felt accepted and at home with them. finally: i had a group of friends with whom i could consistently spend time. i became close with one of the interns in particular--i will simply refer to her as “k”. if the feeling of closeness is not mutual, then i will say that i, at least, felt very close to her, for the reasons described below. read on!

at that point in time, she was at the stage of her life that i was at when i came to albany as an intern two years prior. come to find out, we had much in common. and she made an effort to hang out with me and talk to me, and we always had something to talk about. as alluded to above, many of the things discussed had a large impact on me and how i viewed my life and the world around me--this is human communication at its best--this was a welcome deviation from the often boring and useless communication i was having with anybody else. and inevitably, speaking with someone in that way in a consistent manner will always lead to the development of some friendship, and an underlying bond of some kind. i don’t think that kind of bond has a title or definition; more often than not, it probably goes unacknowledged. but there is the understanding between two people who otherwise had no idea who each other was, that they 'get it', so to speak--when others seem incapable of doing so--and respect and appreciate what they have to say. up until then, i don’t think anybody felt that i had anything particularly noteworthy to say. i don’t think that i have anything particularly noteworthy to say. why are you reading this?

moreover, she did the one thing that it seems i simply would not do myself: challenge me to accomplish the things that i had been saying for so long that i wanted to do that i was “too busy” or “too tired” to do. and so i made time to finally do some of them—if anything—because i felt like i had something to prove. preservation and augmentation of dignity is a strong motivation for getting things accomplished. i greatly  appreciate her for challenging me, and it made me respect her even more. i like to think that her knowledge of my meeting these challenges caused the respect to be at least someone mutual.

so at the conclusion of the summer program, when she and the rest of the interns left, this small slice of time in my life where things were finally coming together—this time came to an end. an infinitesimally small, yet spectacularly significant chapter of my life ended. at least in consistency.

this was devastating to me, as i said above, because i finally had a group of friends that i felt a part of—finally could share the thoughts and ideas that make me me with people who understood.

i tried to keep in touch, at first, but all of them were starting up college--again, and i was starting up graduate school classes--again. staying in touch became difficult. i have been meaning to get in touch with them. and so i think that i will.

my memory is not what it was, so many years ago. perhaps it is not that i cannot remember things as well, but because i do not take the time to relax and dwell on fond memories of my past in as much detail as i could. at any rate, the time i spent with them went by fast—there were a lot of memories cram-packed into one week. yes. one week. and i find it difficult now to recall them. what i need to do is as i said above: relax and dwell. whether i can recall them or not, i know that this time in my life was one i wish i could relive a thousand times over and over and over again—not changing a thing. some periods of time in life are like that.

i realized early last year that i needed people in my life again. and so last summer, i had met and spent some time with them. people unlike those i became so fed up with. after the interns left, however, i found myself quickly crawling back into my shell of solitude. i became so close with the interns that i did not want to be around anybody else. unfortunately for me, two catastrophic events occurred this fall that i should not have gone through alone, which just exacerbated my situation. one, was the passing of my grandfather, the greatest man i will ever know. the second was a pervasive and growing sense that what i was doing with my life was meaningless, useless, and not getting me anywhere. this thought that i was just wasting my life away as a student was inescapable. and it made me painfully angry, scared, confused, and downright miserable. i have since overturned this mindset, did some work and some thinking, and realized that what i am doing is what i want to do. but i also realized that i need a family of friends around me in order to do it. i realized that i needed to take the time to separate myself from my work, and from school, in order to take time for myself to be able to engage in my hobbies, and so forth.

as previously mentioned, my class schedule this past semester sapped me of all my energy, motivation, and happiness. i simply could not do anything with my free time but sleep. i have been done with class, and my two vacations have given me the opportunity to entirely revitalize myself. my class schedule next semester, though demanding, will still afford me the freedom to sleep and wake as i please, and hopefully, be energized enough to be able to pursue my hobbies in my free time.

i need to do something with my music. i have been saying this for so long now and have barely done anything about it. k got me to do something with it, albeit briefly. and i hope that when travelling with a musical instrument becomes more feasible (i.e. once spring comes along), i will find the strength and motivation to start performing and recording again. it needs to be done.

also, i have been silent for so long, barely writing or publishing anything. as i have said, my goal during this week in florida was to take the time to reflect, and write again. already, i have written several times each day. and this is good. i will not have the freedom to keep this up once i return to reality next weekend, but it is my hope that by spending so much time writing, that it will become something that i engage in more often. more often than not, my brain becomes a prison for ideas, lamentations, exclamations, and the like. just getting things out has been unbelievably relieving. hopefully, i can keep this up, too.

here is an account of a brief thought that turned into three and a quarter pages of reflection on this past fall. i did not mean for it to be. described here is what i knew i would have to think about and write about in order to accomplish what i wanted to this week. that is not to say that i will stop writing, but that the hardest thing to write has been written. [and i will tell you: this has been fairly easy and unbelievably relieving to write, although, it will probably be difficult for me to feel comfortable publishing—public honesty can be a difficult thing, especially if you fear people will misunderstand you, when its counts that you’re understood.]

i believe that the reason for my near mental collapse this fall was because of the departure of the interns. the reason i became so skeptical, and then violently fed up with my career was because of a conversation k and i had one night, atop the new york state museum as the sun went down. we both agreed that, despite being scientists with undoubtedly successful futures, we both had a passion for writing or music, and that it might be difficult to live a life in which we gave up the time to pursue our passions in exchange for job security—for money. [note: i have always said, since my ‘rebirth’ in the fall of 2007, that science and research were a passion of mine. they still are. but, music and writing are two things, my relationship with, i simply cannot describe. they are my life force, whereas science—though a passion—is something i like to do, and a way in which i like to think. it is rational. music and writing can be irrational. one could say, then, that music and science are my yin and yang.] that thought frightened me to no end, made me feel, as described above, a though i were living this drab, prescribed life. i know now that that is not that case, and that i can continue on with my education as i was (i can even say that as a result of this experience, my desire to learn more about what it is that i am doing greatly increased). but i also learned that i must take the time also to pursue music and writing, for, even if i cannot spend the majority of my time engaged in these passions, at least i can say that i am still doing my best to immerse myself in them. and this week, i have engaged in writing. when my guitar gets fixed, i will engage in music. i will.

and i will do everything, i have promised myself, that i wrote down here that i would do: i will get to know my albany friends better, i will get in touch with the other interns, i will reflect on my time this summer and i will smile, and i will continue during this vacation and thereafter to put my thoughts on paper, so that they may live free, and not imprisoned in the awful environment that which is my brain, and i will get my guitar repaired, and i will play out and record the songs that i have wrote, and then write even more (hopefully based on some of the topics i write about this week). these are the goals i have set for myself, and i hope that some day soon, i can say aloud that i have achieved them.

as we now come to the beginning of page five, i can say with confidence that i have not felt this accomplished, relieved, certain of myself, in tune with myself, or proud of myself in a very, very, long time.

thank you for your attention.

"listen: billy pilgrim has become unstuck in time."

my goal over this vacation was to reflect on the past few months and figure out how in the hell i wound up this way. thus far, i have been only dwelling on where i am in time. which is to say, right now, where i am, feels like another time in my life—a common occurrence for me—and i don’t know where it is that i am. i hope i can figure it out, because it feels nice. and i would like to know the temporal source of this feeling. the only thing i can think of right now is my first trip to california—perhaps because of the music i decided to play when i was de-boarding the airplane at palm beach international airport yesterday.

i also feel like i am envisioning my future—things i want to do to make me feel the way i am feeling right now, again. it is all free association, of course: the things i see in my mind right now in response to how i am feeling—both past and future—have nothing to do with where i physically am right now, but how i am feeling. and my mind takes off.

this is all still a bunch of crap because i am doing this more as though i were writing a journal instead of approaching this as a project. but at some point this week, i am sure i will feel like writing something that is more project than description. we shall see.

at least i am writing.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

delirium

i am deliriously tired. i have been awake since 3 am. day 1 of my trip is complete. tomorrow, i will hopefully have some more time to think and to write.

as soon as i landed in florida and entered the terminal, i could feel a stark difference in the air. it smelled, tasted, and felt different. i put on the split nfg/ishc ep, because that is what the air made me feel like doing. it was very nice.

at the condo, the smell of the tap water is familiar and calming—and it always seems to be. i do not understand why.

i need sleep. to bed. i will get some things done tomorrow.

peace.

30,000 feet

the world looks so simple from 9144 meters: there are clouds below, and sky above. the horizon in between turns orange as the sun rises, yet again. it is all so simple, yet it has taken billions of years of physics and chemistry, and billions of dollars and a collective of human minds advancing our understanding and application of physics and chemistry, to create this very opportunity. i think this may be a universal trend: an aesthetically simple event is the result of a fantastic amount of complexity. so it must be.

there is a very large, bright star on the port side, about 45o above me. i have no clue as to what celestial body this is. nevertheless, there it is: watching.

bare with me as i begin my journey into myself by describing what my body must go through—what my eyes will see—as i go on my way. eventually, we will get to the really good stuff.

i am reminded at this very moment of my first trip to florida with my family—when it was still whole. it was during a school week when i was in fifth grade. as a homework assignment, i had to keep a daily journal of my vacation. i loathed that i had to waste my time doing that—perhaps that bitch just wanted to see if i really went on a vacation, or if my sister and i were just going to play hooky for a week. either way: it is funny that now, that is exactly what i am doing.

strange.

bon voyage! (prologue)

i was not expecting to be sitting where i am right now any time soon. where i am sitting is in terminal c at albany international airport. i did not have enough money to make my annual trip to california to visit eric—or so i say—however, i did have enough money to go visit my grandparents in florida, yet again.

and so here i am, having just cleared security, waiting to be whisked away by a small commercial aircraft to a state far, far away from new york. i love albany, but i just needed to get away from everywhere i have been since early august. it was at that point in time that any semblance of happiness and sanity that i had dissipated into thin air.
but more on that later.

i decided shortly after having booked this trip—this second winter vacation of mine—that, even though i needed a break from work—in the sense that i just needed a break from doing anything professionally proactive—that there was work to be done, and moreover, could be done with the free time that i would have.

i have been silent for nearly a year. not all of that year was horrific. but i will not say that it was a cakewalk, either. nevertheless, i have barely spoken about a thing—written down a thing. eventually, the shell i made for myself this past fall cracked and i just had to talk to people—friends and family—as everything seemed to be crumbling around me. and it has been helpful, i think.

but, there is still so much that has only been given the freedom to bounce around the cobweb-filled recesses of my consciousness—and probably my subconscious, too. and so, i decided that while travelling, i will write down as much as i can possibly remember that i wanted to—needed to—need to—talk about. and it is my hope that with the free time in a different climate, in a different state—in a different state of mind—that i will be able to write uninhibited and have the courage to discern and expel the true nature of my mental and social collapse these past few months, and return to new york—to albany, my home—with an entirely different perspective on life and an entirely renewed opinion of myself.

this will not be easy, and i had no notions otherwise. it can be ugly, transforming thoughts in the mind into words on a page—discovering the degree of ones own major shortcomings, self-depravity, and global negligence in a way that is wholly and entirely retraceable and—to a point—un-editable. which is to say, when writing freely, everything comes out, and when going back and reading it, it can be edited as much as desired, however, writing it all down in the first place serves its purpose: you learn in disgusting detail how you truly feel about yourself and everything around you.

this all reads like crap—i am out of practice. but for once, i refuse to label what i hope to accomplish as “crap”. i think that this is a very important goal i have set for myself, and i sure hope that i can achieve it—if not in its entirety, then at least to some substantial degree.

apparently, the plane will be boarding soon.

here i go.

bon voyage!