i like to see chaos subsumed into order. long grass growing tangled then trimmed. but only in certain places, like next to sidewalks, not in parks where i am walking. no, not there. not when i am sitting facing a field and the man comes on his mower, chasing me away, following me through the park, more and more mower men, an onslaught of men joined in mechanised noise and motion. that is what i don’t like. i like to see spread-out papers form themselves into a neat pile or disappear into the recycle bin. bare surfaces. something emptied and discarded. this is not a manifesto, by the way. this is just a monday morning [note: it’s actually now wednesday—ed.]. a morning i rode in rain. traffic altered my route and i passed the central police station, a thriving death star hive, battered tie fighters buzzing in and out from the flight deck, looking to crush, to destroy, to subjugate the populace, meting out their brutal mutilated form of “justice” with truncheons and guns.

last friday was a special day for i heard my first wood thrush of the year. o, how i love the ethereal songs of the thrushes! there is no sweeter music in the forest for me. i used to wake to their flute music every spring and early summer morning, but no more, no more. now, if lucky, it is the much lesser song of another thrush, the ubiquitous robin. not to disparage the robin, but his song is nowhere near as transcendent as the wood thrush, the hermit thrush, the swainson’s thrush…

yesterday i went to a class that was like jungian personality types but with colors and a few more bells and whistles. i am blue-green and my conflict sequence moves from green to blue to red. there are all these diagrams that look like someone made them with a spirograph. they are quite pretty but i don’t know how i feel about being plotted on a triangular graph. there i am…a black dot straddling the line between two types, far off from my fellows (in the group report, i am a clear outlier, there are no other dots near me). there i am…moving across the color scheme as conflict escalates, crossing axes with impunity. look at me go…

the one and the other dance in the rain

Hello, one.

Hello, other.

It’s raining today.

Yes…wait, are we doing this on Tuesdays now.

I don’t know. Is that a problem.

Well, you know how I am about change…it makes me nervous.

Yes, that’s true…I do know that. But is this really such a big change.

Sometimes it’s not the size of the change, other. Sometimes it’s just how I feel inside.

Maybe it’s the rain.

It could be…is there something we can do about that…

We could dance in it!


What do you think.

I like it but I’m feeling shy…

Well, I am rusty, if that makes you feel better.

Do you know the steps.

No…let’s just wing it.

Okay. I just want to feel free, you know.

I know.

Thank you, other.

It’s why I’m here, one.

Maybe it will be a misty rain!

I hope so…let’s go.


[interlude of wet frenetic dancing]

I feel so much better, other!

I know! That was fantastic!

We should dance more often.

We really should.

Will you remind us.

I’ll try.

Goodbye, other!

‘Til next time!

the musicality of everyday life

Day two of rain on my face. Harder rain, colder rain. Less enthused about it. Wednesday’s unraveling of the week’s semblance of sanity. Sameness shakes through the bones. What is today from yesterday and next week. Listen to epic chanting bands as blood pools in useless sitting legs. Message light on phone appears without phone ringing. It’s a mystery I don’t want to solve. Remember to stand and walk around. Vacate vocation. Evoke smoke. Dream a little longer in the morning, don’t let time thieves tear it away. Afternoons of fast guitar picking on taut strings of sudden tendons stretched and longing. I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t hear it. There is nothing here anymore.

late rain world

The world was late today. I don’t know. I was late. But I wasn’t expecting the world to also be late. I had hoped for a leisurely ride in on mi bicicleta. Instead there were cars everywhere. An automotive horror show. Maybe it was the rain. Rain slows the world to a crawl. Like slow motion, creeping and crawling. Not me, though. I was pedaling quite rapidly, in fact. Bike commuting reminds me I am alive. Otherwise I might think I was a walking corpse. Or a dancing one. I’m skipping a meeting this morning. I don’t care. It empowers me. Robert Walser would skip it. Walser wouldn’t still be here seven years later, though. Walser wouldn’t have made it seven months. Seven weeks, maybe. More likely seven days. He’d be in his attic room writing his soul out on shreds of borrowed paper with a stolen pen. Oh, where is the rain crow. He migrated long ago. Now who will tell us when it is about to rain. I felt the cold rain on my face and knew I was alive. No more alive than last month or last week or yesterday, but alive nonetheless. 2013 dreams have been vivid so far. It’s like there is an arthouse revival series going on in my dream life. I’m liking it. There’s nothing else to report, I’m afraid. Raining, check. Biking, check. Reading Walser, check. No more rain crow, check. Not a corpse, check. Alive, check.

why does this channel play such a peculiar strain of white noise

Your shoulders bend forward to keep out the world. I see it. What is the point. Why do we insist on throwing ourselves out into the fray. Retreat! Climb onto this liferaft I have constructed from a few termite-riddled planks bound together with the discarded hairs from your head. It’s all different but the same. Longing and self-denial: our life’s work, the unrequitable nectar from which we feed, desperate fools that we are. I can’t bear to look.

Today I took Farley to Spiderweb City. I heard a Black-billed Cuckoo, a bird I identify with. Common but secretive? Rumored to predict rain? Maybe not. I came home, ran around inside the house with my paint bucket, sweating, the futility of it all welling up inside, allegro. Mainlining futility, hoping someday for the pure uncut junk that blows your mind.

Later: party time. An invitation not refused. Perhaps the strangest party I have yet attended in a lifetime of suffering strange parties. Now here I sit, a party of one. Freebasing dictionaries and dreaming of foreign scents. The window is open to let in the rare cool night air. The city crickets patch together their ragged symphony. I am restless with the other music, but not drowning out the crickets. The stage is set for insomnia. Cue white noise…aaand, ACTION.

Observer versus participant in the steel cage match of life. Who wins. I wish I knew. Not that it would matter. I can’t change now. I feel like a bad character actor playing myself when I go out in public. The superficial bumbler. Kafka talks about being alone and how it restores himself to himself. How he comes alive when alone. The noise in his head quiets. He says, “Being alone has a power over me that never fails. My interior dissolves […] and is ready to release what lies deeper.” When two people are together in aloneness it is a curious thing. In some ways it is liberating. I think it may be the best we can hope for, but I still can’t see how it ends.

So we are afloat on this rotten raft held together by your hair. And I reach to pull your shoulders back but they no longer move. Like my spine they are stuck out of place. It’s dark now and the sea grows rough. I know the morning will come, but what does that even mean. At what point did the day really end. Some weeks stretch like taffy. Others make Friday the pin on this grenade and you’re stretching your long thin arm to it all week but it’s always out of reach until all of a sudden you’re yanking the pin out and it all blows up in your face. Or it’s a dud. Either way you lose another seven days. The box of grenades is not bottomless.

The rain is falling now, again. Like the cuckoo sang it would. Rain crow, rain crow, sing us a shower. This bird is killed by pesticides; this bird collides with TV towers, with tall buildings that house banks and corporate overlords. Let us all share the blame for killing a bird that sings when it is about to rain. For there are few sounds so soothing as gently falling rain.

red light green light

Shifting synchronicity of traffic lights marks the vague change between these days. Whoa, that one is red this morning. I now recognize that yesterday has become today. Also, I think I’m wearing different pants. Speaking of today, it’s Office Olympics Day, an awkward afternoon-long opportunity to observe one’s colleagues caper with impunity in the insipid name of morale-building. Well, no amount of frisking about can rouse this drone’s morale. Even worse, OO is scheduled to start at the beginning of the usual lunch hour. Whose idea was that, I demand. Tell me, you fools. But it’s like shouting down a dry well of indifference.

This song triggers memories of driving back roads with my sister on the way to buy bootleg cassettes at the Sunday flea market. Poring over the endless rows of tapes by obscure bands, the excitement of finding strange new music coursing through me as the summer sun shines down. That’s really where it started, after all, this mystical journey down a jagged, thorny path leading from the dusty crossroads of early adolescence, a place where little acceptance was to be found. Of course it’s farcical to think anything was easier then. But as I gathered the tools of defense against a harsh world, enforcing my armor with sounds to yield lifelong comfort, the process prickled with the electricity of discovery. And these shocks, so intense in youth, temper as the years wrap gauze around us. I fear it’s the daily doing that does us in.

After the Olympics, which my team did not even medal in despite winning multiple events (team competitions are notoriously rigged at my place of employment), I leave early and walk out into a storm. Louder than bombs thunder strikes overhead. I duck under an awning hoping to wait it out before hopping on the bike to ride home. An Indian man stands next to me chain-smoking. More Indian men stream by, cigarettes in hand. Seems to be a gathering of sorts. Afternoon traffic builds like layers of crusted pus on an angry sore. People run from the rain. Building to parking garage. Building to parking garage. I grow impatient and take my chances. The rain falls on even as the sun violates the clouds. A sudden humidity clashes with cold rain on my hot skin. Drop, sizzle. Drop, sizzle. Red light, green light. Go.

good omens for a rainy day

Woke with a heavy heart and the universe responded. Two morning omens visited to provide a lift:

1. Downy Woodpecker on the deck.

2. Ben on his bike.

That is all.

abandoned umbrellas

A common rainy day sight in the city is the abandoned umbrella. I find this practice of flagrantly abandoning umbrellas at their point of failure to be extraordinarily odd. Countless times have I seen these cast-offs downtown, their broken metal frames splayed obscenely on the sidewalk, or folded and perched forlornly on some faceless building’s window ledge. Their bright hopeful colors belie the tragic loss of function in their mechanisms. Certainly I sympathize with the frustration that suddenly vulnerable pedestrians feel when they are faced with the prospect of getting wet. I have been there myself. But a broken umbrella is a large piece of waste to simply toss aside in the street. Fast food wrappers I can sort of (painfully) understand. However, the step up to throwing an umbrella on the ground is one that my brain can’t seem to navigate. If I were to follow this logic, it seems like the sky would be the limit as to what is deemed “acceptable” as litter. However, I might just not be properly connecting the lines between umbrellas and what else I have found abandoned on the street. For example, during one recent 6-mile bike ride back from an early morning birding expedition, I counted no less than 5 pairs of women’s underwear lying in the road, quite evenly spaced between the park and my house. I felt like I was traveling along some sordid trail at the end of which I had no idea what I might find. I have also seen plenty of shoes, pairs or singles, littering the streets, as well as a surprisingly diverse collection of other clothing items. I always imagine the scenarios that might lead to a particular item ending up there. But maybe I’m over-thinking it and the answer is simple. Perhaps there is a certain fraction of the population for whom disposing of used and unneeded accessories in the street is a commonplace activity. I guess that after giving it some focused thought, it really wouldn’t surprise me.

fundamental rules of bike commuting part one

A fundamental rule of bike commuting: on any two contiguous days on which an equal or similar chance of rain is predicted, if a cyclist suits up in full rain gear on one day then it will not rain no matter how dark and stormy the sky may appear and, in fact, the sun will likely break through the clouds causing profuse sweating underneath said rain gear; conversely, if on the other day the same cyclist does not suit up in rain gear, it will invariably rain a considerable amount, thus ensuring a fresh waterlogged professional appearance at work.

The phrase “slight chance of showers” is an empty meaningless phrase and should heretofore be banished from meteorological parlance.

and finally there was rain.

>After a very parched couple of months, we wake to a rainy day. I miss them. This morning a wee bird hunched under the awning of the feeder, leisurely pecking away at its breakfast and looking out at the wet green world around it. I feel like hunching down somewhere myself after the hellion broke through the veil of sleep last night, leaving me with a few hours of restless twisting and turning before NPR finally popped on and banished all hope of returning to slumber land. Spacey accurately describes my current state of mind.

I watched Jesus Camp the other night. Disturbing, but nothing I didn’t expect already. More fertilizer for growing the decision to leave the country, or better yet, the planet. On Monday at work I read that by 2050 the UN predicts that the world population will stand at over 9 billion, which is about 40 percent higher than what it is today, meaning that we will need the equivalent of two Earths in order to sustain ourselves. Since we all know that we don’t have an extra Earth lying around, those of us who are below the age of, say, 45 are likely to witness cataclysmic death and destruction on a grand scale we have previously not seen in our lifetimes.

The American people, including our stupid current presidential administration, are largely in denial. The carbon footprint of the average North American is double that of a European, and seven times that of the average Asian or African. The United States alone produces 25 percent of world CO2 emissions. We are digging a grave big enough for the whole world to lie in. How considerate of us. I’m sick of hearing about voluntary emissions caps for our corporate thugs. I’m sick of reading these facts and figures at work that put me in a foul mood and make everything seem hopeless. And I’m sick of standing with my bike at city intersections, coughing from the exhaust fumes, and watching as cars, SUVs, and minivans pass by, with nearly every one of them empty besides the driver.

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