I haven’t posted here in a long time. For a while now my online presence has been at Encyclopedia.zone, but to be honest I haven’t been doing much work. What I’ve spent the most time working on was editing a collection of poets from the zone, including myself, at https://encyclopedia.zone/Poetry%20Update%20Page/title.html It’s been a new experience for me, and as much as I enjoyed it I’m not sure I find it as fulfilling as working on my own writing, and as long as I have a day job it’s impossible to commit to both. Knowing me, it may be impossible to ever fully commit to anything.
Around this time last year, when I last updated this site, I moved back to my home town, Austin, from Greensboro, North Carolina, where I had been living for around three years. There were a lot of reasons for me to move back, let it suffice to say I realized my life had become a dead end and that, as long as we are at a dead end, we may as well be among family. When I made the move, I decided it would be best not to keep in contact with the people I knew in Greensboro.
I have friends now, theoretically, in Chicago, in North Carolina, in New York, California, London, and Germany. I don’t talk to these people. I don’t even know how to contact most of them. There are plenty of people I know how to contact, people who live in Austin, and I try my best not to talk to them either. When I was younger I thought this behavior must be strange. Everyone else seemed thrilled to spend time with their friends, some people even loved to spend time with family or, God forbid, strangers! When you tell people how much you hate having to socialize, they always tell you they feel the same way. So I came to think that maybe I was normal, after all.
Greensboro was a great home to me. I met and kept up with more people I genuinely got along with there than anywhere else I’ve lived. There was nobody there whose opinion I really respected, which meant everything I did was impressive. Not to everybody, but there would be at least one person who would hear something I said or read something I wrote and it would be mysteriously beyond them, and tenderly meaningful. That is despite all things in this world, especially words, being empty vaguearies which accomplish nothing. Despite being a pile of meat with no money and so no usefulness to society, I was very well liked and decently respected.
Which was nice, but it doesn’t ultimately mean much. If a friend is somebody you want to spend time with, then I have never had a friend. If a friend is someone you enjoy spending time with, then I have never had a friend. It was nice to be liked for once, but in the absence of pleasure really no people, places, concepts, or activities make any difference. Even so, I knew I would miss them, but I decided I would cut ties when I left. I erased my facebook and my contacts when I arrived in Austin to avoid the temptation of keeping in touch with them. I knew that ultimately it would be unsatisfying.
Well, a friend going through something terrible would weigh on my mind no matter who they were or how far away. The more people I know who I don’t spend time with, the more personal tragedies I have to discover vicariously through them. I suspect other people would stay in contact for the other side of that coin, to share in their joys and the journey of their lives. Because I don’t feel any of that joy, staying in touch summed up to a bad decision. I often wonder what’s going on in their lives now, but did not leave myself any road to reestablish connections. I miss them dearly some days, but I don’t regret my decision.
This is the second month of a global quarantine. I wonder how that small, locally owned bar is doing halfway across the country. I wonder if the people I cared about in Greensboro are making ends meet, knowing most of them gigged around from one bar to another, making a better living off tips than I’ll probably ever make in my life. I don’t begrudge them that, working for tips sucks. It sucks more than ever now, now that so much of the country is out of work, and nobody can sit at a bar for a drink anyway. I wonder if they’re selling a lot of take-out shots of fireball.
Personally, quarantine has been one of the best months I’ve had in recent years. I’ve accomplished nothing, do practically nothing other than eat and sleep, and I rarely have to talk to anyone or make excuses for avoiding talking to them. It’s truly a blessing, being left alone. Just waiting around joylessly in my room for time to pass, not trying to accomplish anything and not having to work. I’m worried for what the future likely brings, whether the economy will ever recover, and how deep I will get into my savings in the meantime, but honestly, fuck it. None of it matters.
The people I do still talk to, they keep telling me how much they miss spending time with people. How they’re all going crazy in their houses alone. Even the people who would always tell me how much they hate spending time with others, even they reach out and tell me they’ve become lonely. Nobody uses that word, of course. It’s never about the feeling of loneliness, even the lonely aren’t lonely, it’s the terror of being removed from context. Society may be a shitty context, but without it you don’t know who or what you are, or how to differentiate one action from another. Without other people, there is neither hope nor fear.
Without other people, there is only the passage of time, idle speculation, the things that bring you pain, and the things that bring you pleasure. I have been without context for over a decade, if I’m being honest. After I realized that society had only its own worst interests in mind, I struggle to even differentiate between things. What is this poem or that? Maybe the writing is clever, but what use is cleverness? Maybe it tells a cosmic truth that has so far gone unspoken. So what? It will be filed away with the other cosmic truths and forgotten. Maybe it makes you laugh.
It seems easier to discuss in terms of food. I still eat, after all, and I still cook every now and then. There is no difference between any two foods. Today I had chicken that was way too salty. Yesterday I had beans that were bitter from being slightly burnt. The day before I had the best stewed ribs I’ve had in years. I made a note of these things as I experienced them, and then the food was gone, and I was hungry again. Maybe you understand how a person could think about food that way. That is how I experience everything. That is how I experienced love, and hatred, and ambition, back when I still hadn’t accepted that I felt this way.
What I love about this quarantine is that I am no longer expected to leave the house and pontificate with other meat wallets about the emptiness of my days. I don’t have to go to work and smile at somebody I hate, and seethe for a good few hours about how little anyone there respects my wishes or treats me like a human being. I don’t have to keep working on writing projects in order to have something to talk about, to keep from going crazy in conversations with people whose worlds are so limited they can’t even hold their half of a conversation about the weather.
I love that celebrities are dying, and that people who idolize them are experiencing those deaths as tragedies, their parasocial relationships being ended by their idols for a change, rather than the other way round. I love that politicians are dying, that old people are dying — I love that, just this once, for the first time in my life, people are dying based on some categorization other than poverty. It is not only the poor who suffer today. This is, at least, different. And I love a little bit of novelty, for whatever it’s worth.
Maybe there is nothing to love other than novelty. Some day I’ll be able to feel happiness again, and when that day comes I will have more distinct experiences I can reflect on, more things will have happened. Or I won’t ever feel happiness again, and all I will have gotten out of it is the vague hope I get from them now. Maybe if you think for a minute or two now you’ll understand my problem, the reason I need to search for some sort of answer or conclusion by turning my world into a narrative. Maybe you can predict it.
Every tragedy pleases me. Not pleases, exactly. Every tragedy interests me. They’re new and different experiences, and as long as they aren’t happening on the personal scale to people I know and like, they don’t cause me any stress or harm. Only tragedy pleases me. There is nothing else new, and without the ability to feel pleasure in any real sense, there is nothing else whatsoever to discuss. I have to talk to people, most days. I have to somehow relate to them in order to function on the most basic levels. How am I supposed to do that, knowing this? Can’t I just stay quarantined forever?
At least I got my 1200 coronaland fun bucks, maybe I can spend them on some black market thalidomide.
Too Long in Disrepair
It wasn’t until the god had been left
so long indoors that bored husbands
set to dismantle and reconstruct it
in the name of home repair
that Nietzschean sluts and twitch-cast preachers,
both in their kinds of alabaster,
taught us to rely not on man or God,
or even self
because what is known cannot be known,
and what is felt cannot be felt,
but though god revive the mystery,
the mystery never could revive a god
whose words are used by morning talk-shows
to cast everything
however sinful, menial, or priced
in the soft and overwhelming light.
His is not even an emotional replacement –
the vermillions, malachites, arondights, and cyanide
were harder to trade for coco leaves, coffee beans,
vape pens and wines.
Love was harder to dismantle than the god,
and even she made no lasting protestation,
and even she was knit back together
into a cleaner-functioning thing.
I do not fear what the god will become
rather it is I, I who have not been inside so long,
who still serves more use than frustration,
I peek through cracks and corners
at repairmen, who are looking always
for something to improve. And at repaired men,
in whom what is known is totally known.