Expansion, Not Vengeance

Late night, drinking screwdrivers, music on, playing single-player Mahjongg. Thinking. Remembering. Mental cleanser. Mind slowed down enough to give space to synapses. Chance to make connections. Listening to new VNV Nation “Noire”.

Reminds me of going home, to Texarkana. Staying for the weekend at mother’s house. She heads to bed, I head to the streets. Windows down. Get lungfuls of Red River air. Drive through stratified layers of fog North of town. Cranking VNV Nation. Dancing in driver seat. Constellations spin outside the windows as I drive 90 MPH on back roads. Something bigger, something spacious. Domes of light. Geolocation. Needs.

Thinking big thoughts.

I seldom do that these days. Life in Austin is always immediate. Cumbersome. Disruptive. Interruptions and imperatives telling me what’s next. TODO lists. Needfuls. Terrible hungers. I miss slowing down to think.

If I moved back to Texarkana, I would be a big fish in a little pond. I say that, but really, Not Really. I know myself too well. But I would pine for the bigger world out there. For places like Austin. San Francisco, Toronto, Berlin, Italy, Anywhere. Small man in small town dreams big, hungry for possibilities. Wants growth. Peter Gabriel’s “Big Time”. I was never meant for small town life. But maybe I was. I don’t know. Fuels my hunger and starves my desires. Mixes me up to question what I really should be doing to make things made. Big towns drown me out. So who am I?

This album, plus this solvent, plus this space I’ve created for myself, are really, really doing me in. Connections.

Stumptown Thoughts

I’ve been asked to cobble together my thoughts on my trip to Portland, to give my impression on the city, the state, and its people. It’s taken me a while to digest and put it into words, because the city doesn’t exactly have a strong flavor. In my five days of taste-testing, there’s just no singular flavor note on the palate that I can mark down in my notebook.

If pressed to find something, it’s this: Portland is a city of abrasive contrasts. That’s the biggest takeaway I have.

From the lips, it’s warm and inviting; from the eyes, it’s paranoid of everyone it doesn’t recognize. The people there will smile and are friendly to the end of the transaction, but behind it is a distrust. You have to be there long enough, as a neighborhood resident, as a frequent customer, to be welcomed and embraced, to be pulled into a long conversation about nothing. Otherwise, you’re just some guy from the street. The homeless problem there is so bad, the housing situation is so exclusionary, that as a tourist, walking around with my black hoodie and black backpack, I felt the side glances, the silent judgments, from those wondering if I was a danger or if I was going to ask someone for weed or bus fare.

The city is caught up in the act of change, like a film scene of a man painfully turning into a werewolf. Once upon a time, it was a manufacturing and shipping town, but with the decline of those industries, Portland’s manual labor workforce is hungry and bored, and all the warehouses, grain silos, docks, railyards, are slowly being emptied out and taken over by land developers. That’s a universal story at this point, but it’s strongly marked there in Portland.

So you have all these areas that are decaying, oily, dirty, fenced off, disused, or otherwise vacated. Contrast that with the verdant beauty of the place; the constant humidity and frequent rainfall means the botanical landscape is always exploding with everything green and orange. It’s a fantastic place if you like forests, hills, mountains, streams, rivers. I wish I could’ve taken more pictures that captured just how beautiful the place is. But in the big middle of it all is this gentrifying grease pit of iron and brick.

I guess with all the paranoia, hope, helplessness, overcast skies, furious growth, middle-class delusions, and distrust in everyone and everything despite all evidence, the city of Portland is me. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I do know that I have no desire to move there. It would consume me before I could ever take it all in. My life here in Austin is just as cold and distant as anywhere else I’ve ever lived, but at least Austin has warm days to help me ignore all that.

I could move there, I guess, but why? I dunno. That’s why my vacation there was more an expedition. I needed to know what it was about, and my five days there showed me, at least on the surface, what was there and gave me a peek at what was underneath. I could be completely wrong; I could find the greatest friends and the most wonderful loves of my life in that weird bond of shared meteorological and financial hardships, but I won’t know without enduring at least a year and a day in its city limits.

And that opens up an existential question that I should ask myself daily.

Phase Change

Chicken and gravyChicken strips and gravy: where you dip the solid chicken in the liquid chicken so you can dip the solid flour in the liquid flour.

Handle In the Dark

I woke up this morning. That in and of itself is a miracle, one that I daily take for granted. I also got out of bed. Even though I stumbled for the first 2 minutes, I still managed to stand in the bathroom and then walk with both of my feet to my desk. Tiny little miracles. Still clouded from the tiny little world of my dreams, I decided that today, just for once, I’ll deny the dark thoughts and do anything to deny them purchase on the mantle of my soul.

This holiday break has been a roller coaster with more downs than ups. Been playing the role of the moody gloomcow. I have every reason to dislike myself and my life, but for once this week, I’m choosing to ignore those reasons. I acknowledge that I’m manic-depressive, and what I have today is a mania, but if I can take this and rebuild myself to buffer against the darkness of the following night, then maybe that’s what I should be doing. I’m too much with the drab clothing. I’m too much with the negative talking. I’m too much with the sitting alone, hiding my face, and then feeling hurt when nobody comes over to sit with me.

I’ve had enough, at least for now. So if I avoid staring and thinking, I think I can keep the darkness at bay, I think I can trim back all the rough edges that the demons would grab on to, preventing them from latching on. I don’t want to be one of those scared people you see who run and talk and jump and do everything in their power to keep themselves away from their own scary dark thoughts, but at this point, the idea doesn’t seem so preposterous.