“Nothing for a long time but listen”

I know I should be quiet. The universe is telling me to listen. Be silent. But, as in the irresistible urge to move furniture I described in last night’s post, sometimes I have to tell my stories. Is telling them a part of my listening? I’m not sure.

Today, my day began with a cruelty.

I have long thought cruelty a contagious disease and we seem now to be experiencing an epidemic. I have been trying to inoculate against it by grabbing onto moments, looking for treasures. In the past few days, these:


A $5 sweater from Goodwill; because, somehow, I let go of most of my sweatshirts and sweaters during this last move. I don’t remember meaning to do so; but my favorite sweatshirt, and my two winter vest-coats are gone.


Also from Goodwill; this enameled, ancient,old-school baking tray which reminded me of Libertytown, and too, a Christmas mug, because somehow during the move we also lost most of our mugs without meaning to.


And today, while searching for bathroom lightbulbs at Habitat for Humanity store — where all lightbulbs are $1 — I was compelled to purchase these three Christmas mugs which, like lightbulbs, were also only $1 each. I am wondering why I am on a snowman kick? I am wondering why a person who doesn’t even much like Christmas is so desperately waiting for the energy it brings? Maybe because in the words of musical Mame; we need a little Christmas NOW!

So, yes, it is an inoculation of sorts this acquisition of things redolent of a past in which I still had hope. Or, I think I did. If I didn’t have hope, I did at least believe in things: An Order. Now, not so much — the syntax — my syntax, emotional and literary and the cosmic syntax — is all askew and odd and tizzy-fied and I am plagued by stomach pangs and I am afraid.

And I am angry that I am afraid.

And I am afraid what being angry about being afraid is doing to me.

And I am resentful about all of this.

These angers and fears and resentments are repeats of things I have felt over and over and over again in my life. So there is not only the anger and fear and resentment, but also, the feeling of having failed to fix or change ANYTHING.

I am suffering from guilt for having spent a total of $13 on sweater and tray and mugs because money is very tight and I’m not bringing enough in and this is all part of the rot that goes with choosing not to be in the game, or, about not being in the game because I was never any good at the game, or not giving enough of a fuck about the game to worry about being in the game except when $13 in two days turns into a cause for guilt or worry or something that makes no sense in the cosmic syntax rulebook.

But wait; this was supposed to be about looking for moments of joy as inoculation. I get joy from the library. I hang out at the library a lot. Most visits, I get there early in the morning before it opens. There is always a crowd, much of which is made up of some of Frederick’s homeless people waiting to get in. They head immediately for the bathrooms where they wash up.

I worry, a lot, about being homeless. I feel like they won’t know I am one of the homeless at the library because I already spend so many mornings there now. Or, maybe, they already think I am one of the homeless?


Some of these people are homeless. I wait outside the library with them. We are all the same people, right?


I will be in this library opening crowd one day, I fear, like them, without a roof of my own.

I am not yet homeless. I still have things to which I am holding on: like the gym. Except, this morning, cruelty there.

This morning, for some reason I do not understand, this twink who I have seen there for a few years and to whom I have never spoken a word, with whom I have never shared the locker room, a near child I have never bothered, this twink who is turning himself into a muscle head so quickly I suspect he is taking steroids, this twink who never comes into the cardio and machine equipment area, this twink who stays in the free-weight area where I never venture, this twink turning beast this morning, he crosses over and strolls in front of the elliptical on which I am every morning located, my elliptical by the pillar, where I can barely be seen and can barely see, where I rhythmically rock myself to my daily calories spent count, where I have for ages practiced my public solitude and found peace and accomplishment over a small part of my life I can control, this twink turning beast, he walks by, and when he gets in front of my elliptical, he turns at me with a head-pivot worthy of Patti Lupone in EVITA, continues lasering me with his glaring stare as he walks, and raises his hand to scratch his face, pointedly using his middle finger. Then smirks.

I mean, honestly, what the fuck?

He went out of his way to be unkind to me for no reason I can fathom. He doesn’t even know me.

This was a button pushing event. And my buttons are already pushed by this election, the tone of which on the GOP side has taken me back to my youth, my school days, when those who were “other” were targeted. I am having nightmares. I am a wreck. And some muscle-twink targets me? And I become so afraid I stay on the elliptical for almost two hours because I am paralyzed. I don’t want to walk through or look at any other part of the gym for fear he will be there and be cruel again.

When I was a child, this sort of thing happened ALL THE TIME — I was a cute-ish, fey-ish boy, and I was called every name in the book and it was scary to be alive —


Me, far right, cute, fey-sh, with a bowl cut.

I was agoraphobic for years. I could not go out in public alone for fear of being assaulted — verbally or physically. I am, mostly, cured of that. Though I am still horribly shy. And, too, now, I am not so cute, and somehow age has made me less fey, and usually, mostly invisible.


Me, not so fey-ish, disappearing, after today’s haircut by my Mom’s hairdresser.

I should be keeping silent. I should be holding my tongue. I am afraid you will read this and it will be the same as when I was young and told authority figures (or family members) about the attacks and I was told to “act more like a boy” and “don’t be so girlish” and made to feel that the way in which I was made outcast and put at risk by society was because I was wrong and flawed and other.

This election. It’s making me feel that. This twink. He made me cry. In fear. And anger. And self-hate. And embarrassment. I was afraid to tell you this story. I didn’t tell my Mom. I didn’t tell my sister until hours later. I didn’t tell M, but I sent her texts and a picture of my haircut because I needed to be held, even at a distance.

I want to be silent. I want to scream. Oh damn, I am inoculating by introspecting so hard that every time I leave my apartment it feels like a victory. Last night it was Auden, tonight, Walt Whitman, from Song of Myself:
SONG OF MYSELF (excerpt) Walt Whitman

Writing and talk do not prove me,
I carry the plenum of proof ad every thing else in my face,
With the hush of my lips I confound the topmost skeptic,

I think I will do nothing for a long time but listen,
And accrue what I hear into myself . . . . and let sounds
    contribute towards me.

I need to go back to the gym in the morning and not be afraid. I need to make peace with spending $13. I need to for a long time listen, even though I had thought, truly, that was what I’d been doing all my life.

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