Sunday, December 20, 2020


It feels random. Not something I chose. furnished largely by hand-me-offs and chance discoveries. And yet I do love my new apartment, underheated though it is on a chill and snowed Buffalo morning, here where suicide was once redundant.

I no longer take credit for any of my choices, though I am happy if someone else seems to find them attractive, if they even were my choices to begin with. My daughter is good at scouring the Internet for buys, and she's the one who found me this place. I've always known that I am not best known by myself. Even in the mirror, when I glance, I find myself strange.

The fact is, I never did settle. I've lived on a boat, in a trailer, in borrowed space and in crappy hotels for long periods at a time. I've lived, as an old man, where students can afford, and as a not yet retired but older grad student on a fellowship, in an old-folks home, because it was cheaper, somehow, in SoCal than anything else - and all of that quite comfortably - in the one place sharing a wall with a live-streamer who couldn't understand why he didn't keep me up at night, and in the other a newly wed couple my age who did. In person, I thought the live streamer had about the best sense of humor I've ever encountered. I hope he's doing well. I never got to know the couple.

But that's not really what I mean. It's more like how, as a kid, the first and really only time I bowled, I scored a perfect score. The first time I handled a bow and arrow, I hit three bulls eyes. The first time I shot a .22 rifle I did the same, and kept the plywood target I'd made in my bedroom for most of my youth. The thing was, I could never repeat these feats, true though they were. I'm like the lessons in Zen and the Art of Archery written backwards. And sure I was able to solve Rubik's cube reliably, shortly after I first tried. I doubt that I could do it now. I know I never tried again after giving mine away.

I've tried and departed from more careers than you might even imagine. More academic disciplines. And I'm always off to a strong start, soon mastering even the arcane stuff, like network engineering, before I peter out. 

Nothing was ever compelling enough to consume a life, or maybe I just simply never achieved a comfort level to linger. I've always had claims upon my income. They wear a person down when they don't feel quite legit. Why bother kind of thing, when you're always taking time off from the real deal to pay the bills. More likely, I just get bored, or invent a grievance. Though I swear I never did do that. The grievances were very real.  

Upon graduating high-school, no joke, I had my highest net worth of my life until my Dad died and left us a little something. It was simpler back then. The cash economy hadn't yet been completed, and one could afford to live on a living wage. Minimum wage as a bike mechanic was more than enough to fill up a savings account. My high-school earnings lasted me through college, even after Dad cut me off for dropping out a few too many times. 

See what I mean? Unsettled.

And still I'm at least as content gazing over my life as I am looking around my new digs. I am just a tad ashamed of myself for attempting to scale great heights of intellectual accomplishment. I should have left that stuff to the disciplinary experts, though I hardly ever find those types to be more intelligent or aware than your ordinary Joe. 

I do wish, however, that now that I am finally settled (I say finally because I simply don't have the energy I once did) that I would find the ability to set a task before myself and see it through to completion. I don't mean like completing a house restoration or a boat rebuild. Been there, done that, and it's an easy thing to keep that motivation going. I mean more like a dissertation or a novel or something sprawling which requires more than a daily inventory of tasks and materials to complete.

This is my prayer then, to the cosmos, that I will find that resolve. By random happenstance, I just did read this tiny antique leather-bound book that has trailed with me now for a long time, across many dislocations and disbursements of all possessions. I can't remember how it came to me, and I apologize to whomever it was that gifted it to me, though I may have bought it. G.B. Shaw "On Going to Church." It's a hoot, and the proximate cause for today's epistle to the void.

I think I thought the book was pretty. I've left a good nine tenths of my books behind at various points, which I thought so important to have stacked about me in my youth. I smoke a pipe when I tended bar in London at age 18. Balkan Sobranie. What a pretentious prick I must have been. I can't even bear to look at myself then, now. 

Fact is, that's what keeps me from my big project. I cringe after the fact all the time. I wonder where I was coming from and what I was doing and why. I can't even understand what I write myself on those rare occasions when I can bear to read it. And I hardly know where the tipping point is between the amazement of learning new things and the raw fact of having forgotten what I once did know. 

And yet I’m happy for the carillon sounding from the steeple of my old church just behind me now. They reflect off the buildings in front of me. I doubt I’ll venture inside, GB, though you never know. It’s in process of reconstruction all over again.  

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