Archive for May, 2009

Real

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

I took a picture of my belly.

Now I have thought—for the longest time, it seems—that my fattness is a recent development.  You know, one of those vague assumptions you make about reality that is far from it.  Like the mildly hot (and significantly younger) coworker who you think might be interested in you.  Not reality.  Or the jeans you order online that you were sure would fit…

Although, from wearing pants with less than adequate waist accomodations, I have developed a figure similar to that of a black ant.  Like an ‘8’ with arms legs and a head.

Anyway, back to this picture.  Reality is neither cruel nor kind.  Ditto for Time.  They are both abstractions, in a way-out-there sense.  I’m not being facetious.  What we call Reality is really the sum of our perceptions; same for Time.  So, pictures, in the way they link a particular image with a moment in time, are neat little documents of perception.  This picture of my belly I thought was recent.  Since I took it, it has been hovering in the back of my mind, untethered from time, as if I was trim not long ago.

Thinking about it requires that you insert huge amounts of time which you hadn’t acknowledged were there.  Like, I obviously didn’t gain that weight overnight.  So, there was a while that I was fat even before the picture was taken.  And the picture, so recent in my mind, is over 17 months old.

Everybody sees me, except me.

Write a little every day

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Why?

I am considering taking a photo of everything I eat. Kind of a phood-o-log. Maybe it will embarass me into dieting, or maybe it will escalate my self-contempt to a satisfying crescendo.

What else would I do? I’m a ‘rich’ American. Clean water everywhere. Lots of food, so much food, we call it junk. Lots of safe shelter, personal space at home; so much space that I fill it with junk.

We can do anything artificially. It’s being genuine that is the challenge. We are like rare and finely crafted musical instruments, once in perfect tune. Now, padded and put away, to be ‘safe’ (or something) our opiated haze (whether or not due to actual opiates) leaves us blazé, out of tune, and out of play.

Or, to switch metaphors, we float in quiet pools of water, perfectly neutral in temperature, under a sun neither hot nor dim, caressed by whispy breezes that are exactly as warm as our skin, and we have some pleasurable diversion nearby to relieve us of any effort whatsoever—in my case a silken-skinned pool-boy to fetch drinks and swat flies. And smile at me.

How about a little genuine desperation? Or some effort at least?

I like to dream. It is when I wake up that anxiety starts. I suspect anxiety is merely a symptom of un-exerted capacity, the result of a neglected effort, the natural effect of artificial living. The remedy which springs to mind is physical exertion, like chopping wood, or climbing mountains. But that is not all that is missing. We are not that simple. We have minds and intelligence, and awareness of ourselves and the world: I am fat; the US is a terrorist state; I don’t need all these toys; oil is running out; my life is limited. And so on. These perceptions suggest to me—and sometimes demand—certain actions on my part. These perceptions are not always clear about what it is I need to do, but they are insistent that I need to do something. What to do exactly is for me to decide. Sigh.

I find that something sweet usually makes the feeling go away.

There. I wrote a little. Maybe, if I keep this up, I will eventually get sick of this babbling and finally write something meaningful.

I live in Massachusetts

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

California Supreme Court upholds Prop 8

I don’t know what to say, it’s all too painful to talk about. Besides, Keith Olbermann said it better than I could back in November.

Thank you, California, and your people, your court, your government and your churches. Without you I could have forgotten that nothing guarantees justice. Nothing. Neither courts nor constitutions, not promises or even laws can ever assure us that justice will prevail. Unless we are ever vigilant, and unfailing in our efforts to make it happen, then justice will fail. It’s opponents are legion, and never before have I seen them so clearly as in the breathtaking victory they won on behalf of narrow-mindedness and fear.

Bravo, California! I once dreamed of going to you, on a kind of coming-out pilgrimage to the Castro. But now, you make me proud that I live as far from you as possible.

CouchFearing

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Writing is bad. Doing is good.

I write.

Somebody I know is CouchSurfing, so I visited the site.

You know, there are two things; one is living, and the other is being alive. I do the latter, just being alive. It seems to me that CouchSurfers do the former, more active of the two, living. Or, I should say, Living!

I moved this site recently, and as a result I have been rereading a lot of old pages I have written. All I can say is it all seems as close to dead as one can get without actually dying. With that as preface, I stumble on to the CouchSurfing site. I visited a bunch of profiles, lurker-style (without becoming a member), and realized what I guess I have always known; there is a world out there, a life worth living, and people, people, people, all beaming and exuberant and generous and alive! And I am deliberately avoiding it all.

I was going to call these CouchSurfers fearless. But that implies that fear exists. For them—and I know because I was like them once—fear is insignificant. It is essentially non-existent in their lives. As I contemplate what I would be like as one of them, I realize that in that transition, fear would go out the window long before anything else, the very first thing, really. It is an essential requirement of the kind of life they live, that fear be given no quarter, because there is too much of everything else. There is no room for fear.

This is not to say they are reckless. Recklessness and fear are not opposites. In fact, if one retains one’s fear, then recklessness is the only alternative to stagnancy. No, CouchSurfers use care and common sense and intelligence in their exploration of the world and new relationships; in fact, CouchSurfing is predicated on an open-mindedness that precludes fear and requires the involvement of the intellect. You don’t just need a couch to CouchSurf. You need to be a whole person. And that is its siren song for me.

In my lurking at couchsurfers.org, I searched for couches in my area. Just to gauge the local involvement in CouchSurfing. No one in Worcester Massachusetts. A few in my hometown of Northborough. Several in Shrewsbury, next door to Worcester. I imagined joining CouchSurfing. And as an introduction for one just emerging from pathological isolation, like me, I imagined making arrangements to surf a nearby couch, like, in Shrewsbury. I fantasized that my CouchSurfing host, probably used to hosting foreign travelers, would be surprized I would be visiting from so near as Worcester, only a few miles away. Of course, for me that would be essential as a first excursion; I could bail-out if necessary and go home. In addition, such a local excursion would almost certainly force me to explain my reasons. When I played out the scene, alone at my desk, I became very choked-up while describing to Wayne (my would-be Shrewsbury host) that I have spent at least a decade going essentially nowhere but the three streets it takes me to go from home to work and back. My voice became a whisper, I became so contracted with emotion. He could hardly hear me over the noise of the restaurant where we met. I described how I stopped driving and let my license expire in 1991, and thus eliminated most opportunities for unplanned travel, and began isolating in earnest. Becoming overweight further limited my physical movement, and eliminated bicycle touring as a viable alternative to having a car. And that was the story up until I discovered the CouchSurfing web site, read about some of the amazing souls there, and the lives they live. As a result, I acknowledged how fear-centered my own existence had become, and I decided to get involved in CouchSurfing. It seemed logical to be a guest first, before trying to be a host, since my isolation mainly involves staying in my house.

It ended well, in my fantasy. He was not offended for being ‘used’ by someone who was not a traveler and did not really need to CouchSurf; at least not for the usual reasons. And he was impressed by my honesty. I didn’t take it much further than just the first meeting. I think actually staying with him might have been superfluous beyond the initial ‘breakthrough’. Maybe not. And I imagined that my role as host would require that I clean out the apartment; first of all getting rid of all the junk I do not need—just to free-up the space—and secondly to make the place hospitable. It doesn’t need to be hospitable if I am living in fear. Since all I need is a hiding place, it doesn’t need to be clean. And with fear, there are no guests.

Writing instead of doing is bad. What next?

confession

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

Forgive me father (or mother, or brother, or sister, or friend, or would-be lover, or co-worker, or stranger) for I have sinned. It has been twelve lifetimes since my last confession.


Dreaming last night; too much coffee too late. Old jobs, mixed with the current job, and always trying to get from here to there faster than possible on my bike. There were cute boys sprinkled throughout, all of them uncertain of my interest, while I remained implacably coy. And an old boyfriend with me in a group-session/workshop-type setting, and he wanted to have sex, right there. I was interested, but appalled. He was disappointed in my reluctance; I was afraid what the others might think. He masturbated anyway, and everyone noticed. He came; I was ashamed.

I need a mystic to guide my recovery. Not an untethered lunatic, but a teacher anchored somewhere more substantial than here. You see, I seem to just stay lost, and I understand how that might be preferable to one like me. But assuming I wanted to get un-lost, how would I do it? The only possibility I can imagine is to find someone on a higher plane who can help me progress through this arabesque maze, toward…

Where the hell am I going, anyway? Teacher? Hello…?

echoes

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

I’ve been rereading. Rereading me. Is that like masturbation? Or is it bad?

If I had it all organized better, not just included in my sequential archive (which it isn’t), but randomly accessible somehow…

I need a boyfriend/librarian. An archivist with youth and full lips.

Time for bed.

On the Road to Find Out

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

My last day off. This was an abbreviated vacay, sort of. Someone else would have planned a trip, or arranged a get-together of friends. I isolated, and broke a lens. But it is not the way you think. Isolating appears to arise from a negative motivation. But for me it is exactly what I wanted for these days off—I think. Except for the lens. Inasmuch as one can be sure of any motivation, I am sure that my motivation to isolate was not negative. I wanted the break to be a relief from my anxieties with daily human interaction. But I am beginning to think that I don’t really know what I want. They say that we humans came here to connect with other humans. I don’t want to do that, at least not anymore. So, does that mean I need therapy? Am I supposed to want to connect with others? Is not wanting to connect a problem in itself, apart from failing to connect?

Maybe if my job did not pit me against the worst of human nature, then I would be social-butterflying. As it is, I will be back in the throes of dysfunction tomorrow. Maybe if I were retired—or unemployed and homeless, or disabled and institutionalized—and had nothing but isolation to look forward to, then I would pine for contact. Maybe I truly do not know what I want. Maybe I am, in fact, pining desperately for contact, and am just using work-a-day miseries to divert my attention from the aching void within.


How many ways are there to lose sight? I’ve heard that everything is illusion, that we see what we expect to see, that reality is a figment of our imagination, or lack thereof. Opening our minds to see what we do not want to see, or to believe what we would not have expected in our wildest dreams to be real, that could be the path to awareness. If this is all illusion, then what am I missing? What do I not see? I mean, anything could be real, anything possible. What stories am I missing? What lives could I be living? What worlds without end?

And do I really care? That is the only necessary question. Maybe we did not come here to connect with each other. Maybe we are here to either succumb to the illusion of our own isolation, or to vigorously pursue the elusive reality that we have always been completely connected.

So, what is the way back from this oblivion? Where does one plant the first footstep on the journey to real? The answer to that begins with, and follows from, a fascination with what might be. Simple curiosity can get me started on the road to find out. But I am in love with the illusion, and at the first steep trail, or dark wood, I come back to it. I can’t count how many times I have started that trip. And the leaving and returning happens in such rapid succession that the two are indistinct. There is no clear moment of liberation, nor an awareness of defeat. Just a continuous circular dullness. There appears to be no direction out. But what else might there be?

Pick anything. Anything at all.

fruit

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

a small orange logoSettled in at the new web host. Still not sure about the move. It’s like moving to a new apartment—it forces you to review all the accumulated clutter. Of course, in the decidedly un-methodical way in which I conducted the move, I managed to copy stuff from my local backup that should never be accessible on a web server. But my local backup is the digital landfill where everything from my site (that I cannot bring myself to delete forever and ever) ends up. I also copied the old version of WordPress to the new server. It was a mess, but I am done crying over broken lenses and the frustrations of dis-connectivity.

I’m sure there were other—many other—errors made by me during this transition. By the way does anyone know what that row of little page icons is doing there in my “Add New Post” window?screenshot-22may09-889887061 It is probably some misconfiguration the root of which I will not discover until I die.

Just now trying to upload that image, I discovered the new server does not have write access to most of the directories within my site. Every time I do something new on this server, I hit an obstacle. Sigh. It is to be expected during the transition. What I said about thinking things through is truer than ever. But I am halfway down the mountain and going 40, and now is not the time to change my brand of skis.

just want to cry

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Changing web hosts (if anyone even knows what that means any more) is tedious, especially under duress. My web host provides a machine somewhere, connected to the internet, which contains the virtual space in which burgwinkel.com exists and shares itself with the universe. Specifically, my site consists of 24,120 files, cumulatively 793.5 megabytes of text and images, not counting the database, the abandoned older versions of burgwinkel.com, or the forgotten backups of various things which I thought best, at one time or another, to back up.

It seems so insignificant that way.

Anyway, my (now former) web host has had some issues lately. A security incident, a compromised machine, some down time. It’s not the first time, and I usually just roll with it. But I have this week off from work, and it was all starting out pretty well; I was writing, and getting out to take some pictures, and posting stuff. I just wanted it to be OK. I mean it’s only three days off, but it’s a break, you know?


Well, right at the end of that last entry, “Standby…”, I went outside to take some pics with my brand new, I-love-it-to-death lens, the Canon 10-22mm, really wide-angle zoom. It is a beautiful lens. I took some pics, and wasted blissfully extravagant amounts of time readying them to be posted. But my web host died.

Now it didn’t just die. If it did that, I could feel at least that I was sharing the disappointment with others. No. It blocked me. Just me. I have confirmed this. The sites at my web host belonging to everyone else were all still working; even my site was still working and everyone but me could still get to it. I have confirmed this too. Just me, unable to finish writing what I had started, and unable to post a puny picture. That seems petty, a minor inconvenience. But things had been going so well.

That was Monday night. After 18 hours of trying to get around whatever obstacle prevented me from exercising my pathetic little joy, I started to reconsider the wisdom of my choice of web host. I’ve been there ten years. It’s a little late for second thoughts. But I was annoyed.

I have often questioned the wisdom of relying on an instrument for writing that is as fickle as an internet connection. But I have always been seduced by the immediacy of it, the wonder of it, and yes, the power of it. These words I write are not scribbled inaccessibly on sheets of paper, and tucked away on my desk under a pile of old mail, or stuffed in some cubbyhole to never be read again–even by me. These words are writ large on the sky of the world wide web. And a mess that web may be, inundated as it is with insignifica, and indecipherable electronic graffiti, but anyone from almost anywhere has access to the words I write. My words may be petty, and insignificant, and even overwhelmingly dull. But only with a million potential readers am I going to reach that one who finds something remarkable in what I write.

I’m playing the lottery. Maybe you are my winner.

Writing on the web, live, was once such an obsession for me that I designed a web site that would post each sentence as I wrote it, under a notation which said, “currently writing”. I don’t think I made it flash.

So, anyway, by the time I had been without my web site for 24 hours, I had already been looking at other options for web hosting companies. And before my web host corrected the problem that had cut me off, I had signed up with a new host. Now all I had to do was copy everything over.

You know, I would never do most of the things I do if I just would think them through. You have no idea what a colossal headache it is to transfer everything from one host to another. And I was trying to do it while the first host was only half-connected. In addition to all that rapidly accumulating frustration, I was also feeling like a heel for dumping the web host I’d had for ten years just when they (he, actually–it’s a one-man operation) had made some heroic efforts in getting me connected again.

So, when the third ftp client I had tried failed for the twelveth time, and I still had no working site (there’s DNS migration to wait for too, you know), I snapped. I pounded the desk once too many times, and–remember that picture I went to take a day and a half ago, with that absolutely wonderful lens?–my camera, which was on the pounded-on desk, danced a little across the vibrating surface, and tipped over the edge.

The most perfect lens I have ever owned landed with a thud and a metallic-sounding crack. I am given to tantrums, you see, and at that moment I very nearly smashed everything I own.

Right now the lens is back in its original box, with a loose rattle and a space around one side where there shouldn’t be any space. That box is buried under packing nuts inside another box with a UPS address label on it. I packed it and unpacked it about eight times. I was just beside myself. “It’s just a thing” you may say. But it is in such things that I endeavor to find myself. And it is also in such things that I hurt myself. And I don’t know if I do it deliberately, I really don’t know. But it all just makes me want to cry.

A title would go here, but I am sick of trying to title these entries that are shorter than most titles would be. So there.

Monday, May 18th, 2009

I love this cool and cloudy weather. They are not dark clouds, but bright variations of grey, grey-blue and antique white. The world is not shadowy beneath them, just evenly illuminated. Maybe it is the photographer in me that appreciates softly lit days; there is one in me, even though I never let him take any pictures. It could be the depressed genius in me—who, like the photographer, I also prevent from giving evidence of his existence—who is soothed by the cool air and the grey light.

The windows are open, letting in all the quiet of this suburban-ish city neighborhood. The gloaming comes early on days like this. The air is still and the trees are sleepy and flush with fresh foliage, like dozing children. A distant bird sings.


I could get dressed and venture into the environs to take a photograph, but images capture so little; the air, the hush, the coolness. And then, what purpose, poetry? Who lives who has not loved? Who dies who has not railed against the coming of the night, his screams echoing only in some other dimension?

I guess I am neither poet nor photographer. So’s I guess I’ll just write some prose, and take a snapshot. Standby…

Fickle.

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Got a half hour to kill. Write a little bit everyday.

Went to the bank to get quarters for laundry. It was waiting in two wet piles in the basement since last night. Drying now. There were no gunmen at the bank.

So, we’ve established that I am dysfunctional, with probably a dash of antisocial added to my asocial-ness. But I am wondering, from this not so rarefied perspective, what is falling in love? Is it just a matter of getting over the natural obstacles that exist between people? I mean, in most love stories, it seems to me that circumstance, not fate, is largely responsible. And I don’t want to get into the tedious task of teasing fate apart from circumstance, but I think falling in love is more whoever-is-there than I-finally-found-you. I know that sounds like no fun, but such are the questions one must ask when coming back to life.

Back to life? Yes, I have come back to life more times than I care to count. Dying is a consummate pleasure, but it suffers for not having a satisfying sequel. So back I come. Which raises all sorts of annoyingly existential questions, like, what is falling in love.

Maybe I am here to be alone. Nah, too good to be true. Well, then maybe I am here to throw myself pathetically and hopelessly at anyone who is ‘there’. Oh, and has the other prerequisite, a cock, because we need an object of serious diversion if we are to survive getting close. At least that’s what I have always tried to use it (his, I mean) for. But I have to admit, such a method, despite countless applications of it, has never really worked; a cock has never helped me survive getting close. (But it has always been a serious diversion.)

Is one as messed up as me even allowed in to the feast of being in love? Or is it best that I settle at a distance for the sweet scent from the kitchen? From my perspective, falling in love seems more like ‘falling’ up a mountain. For those who socialize effortlessly, ‘falling’ may be an appropriate verb applied to love. It might seem inelegant but, ‘clawing into love’ might better describe the process for me, if I ever make it happen.

I know you are out there, and in this random world, with love falling like alternate petals of a flower, I have been trying desperately to avoid you. But I am tired. That which is inevitable rushes at me like a tsunami. From the beach I strain to see what frothing torment approaches. Is it you? Or is it the end of me? And are they not the same?

Numinous awe

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Everything is happening exactly as it is supposed to.

My tendency has always been to diminish pain, to dissociate from intense experience, and to avert my eyes from the light. Possibly I learned to not trust my capacity for reality. Probably I chose to bookishly obsess over subtlety rather than gregariously engage the magnificence. But despite my inadequacies with life and my crippled stumbling through the dance, I’ve always known there was something more. Often I denied it. Frequently I replaced it with something else, something that didn’t scare me as much. In defiance of the truth, I devoted myself to many things which I knew were false. I did it to repudiate reality, as if doing so would change it.

All along my journey it was there. Though small and barely perceptible, I could hear it calling, across the roaring ocean and through the howling storm. And though faint as an un-graspable star in the expanse of the night, I could see it, winking at me playfully. It knew my name, and so painful was that awareness that I rejected it. Under loud moans of mock ecstasy I buried its sound. In the theatrical brilliance of mock love I blinded myself to the sight of it. And in floods of self-generated angst and agony I drowned the feeling of its very presence within my own soul. What is this singularity that connects everything, links every light and sound and feeling and place and moment together, that ties all facets of reality to itself? And why am I so utterly terrified of it?

The warm summer night kisses the beach. The waves say “hush-shhh”. The dune grasses whisper soft confidences among themselves. The twinkling stars watch over it all, and guard the night. And the gentle breeze caresses everything. It is everything, the flow of life, into, through, and out of time. Fear is the result of moving away from it, not the result of moving closer to it. It sustains us through death, and through everything else that appears to harm. It is all the concepts that we would use to define it, and it is everything else as well. Absolutely nothing will be lost.

Summer soon

Monday, May 11th, 2009

The beautiful Summer is coming. The giant elder outside my kitchen window has been in bloom for a week now, dropping delicate white petals like spring snow all over the back yard. Soon the best of the boys will strut their glories in the warmth of their admirers and the sun. But I am older, closer to the end, and not so comfortable on youthful expeditions conducted on the European plan—plenty of bed but no meals. I hunger for the self I lost, exchanged in brief arousals with smooth, tanned young men; and I fear the man who will follow the troubled stirrings of my night and bring me back to bed.

I just wanted to quote that yet again. I love to quote myself. Besides, it’s perfectly appropriate; the white petals again are all over the ground.

3:06:22 PM

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

Late as late can be. Still lame.

Stood-up Stephanie, one of my surrogate mothers, her kids had a soirée for her at the Sole Proprietor.

Nasty headache.

I don’t like family affairs. It’s why I don’t have any contact with my own family. I especially hate social affairs where I do not know at least 50% of the attendees. And if any of them are breath-takingly attractive young men, then it doesn’t matter how many others there I know; for me the whole thing becomes a hot-acid bath.

Continuing lame. Over and out.

monolith falling

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

Lame. I am afraid that is what my life will be. I am scurrying around trying to slip out from beneath the falling mantle of lameness, trying to keep track of the edges of its shadow so I’ll know which way to run, trying to gauge how close the sky-filling monolith is as it slowly, almost imperceptibly sinks lower, closer, more inescapable every second. Anything was once possible, the sky was wide open. There were no limits. But now my possibilities are confined to the thin space beneath the lameness, and the distant horizon is out of reach, reduced to a shining narrow band between the sinking gloom and the earth below.

I just wish it would finally crush me, and get it over with.