Morning.

Open your eyes, it’s time to forget you were

Passed through by a shadow in dreams.

The shadow will float quickly away,

Scared by daylight and senses.

You know real things dreamt are only thoughts,

And thoughts are unreachable, forgotten.

Memories lose to the healing mind,

The mind forgets to remember.

Your mind doesn’t care what closed eyes see,

Your wants are not it’s concern.

The heart bellows out,

“My memories!” But

No. Too late. The

Alarm has rung.

Your dreams

Float away

And have

Ended.

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A White Figure 8.

A WHITE FIGURE 8

It’s around noon and I’ve just sat down to dive into my work at PublicUs in the downtown district of Las Vegas. I can never study in total silence. I think too many thoughts at once and background noise helps drown out the voices. A man sits down in front of me digging through his things looking for a thick marker, but since he can’t find one he asks me if I have one. Actually, I’m constantly buying art supplies I never use (a symptom of my bipolar disorder), so I run out to my car and return a few minutes later with a thick art marker. I’ll always donate to the cause of art. This man shows signs of mental illness, and I can tell he probably gets people following him around a lot “checking in” with the people he interacts with, in case he’s bothering them. I understand their concern, but I tell the man who’s walked up to me to check in that it’s okay, that he isn’t bothering me. I don’t sympathize, since I myself have had a long history of mental health issues. Our interaction feels more like camaraderie.

My companion sits in front of me making jewelry out of random trinkets. He has an art box in the shape of a very large Lego. Red. He also has some kind of gemstone that’s cut nicely. “This is from my mother. I guess I should keep it with me huh? It is mother after all.” He said this as he pressed it to his palm and closed his other hand on top. Before he put it back into his Lego, he pressed it quickly against his chest.

Throughout our conversation there is a lot of muttering about various family members. Some I’m not sure are actually family, or if maybe he considers and refers to friends as family. He mentions a son, and then mentions a daughter half way through the conversation.

Midway on, a clear little glass box appears, accented by gold around the edges. My friend tells me it’s from his grandmother. He then starts to pull things out of his Lego box, placing them in between of us. It was a show and tell of colored pencils, pots of watercolor paint, matchbooks, cigarette butts (his boyfriend’s), and trinkets. Sometimes he’d say, “Oh this is yours!” And place an item closer to me (“How did it get in here I wonder?”), just to snatch it back a few minutes later (“Oh wait this is mine”). I really wanted to know how he knew certain things were mine. People (in general) tend to place strangers into imaginary worlds the moment we see them. “They look like the kind of person who would do this and wear that. They probably like to…” It’s automatic for us to create worlds for others. I think it’s a defense mechanism against the unknown, or loneliness. Maybe it was something a little like that. Or maybe I just really look like a matchbook collector.

The moment I remember best was when my friend pulled out a light pink paint pot and placed it in the center of everything. He had been naming all the colors of the paint pots, and this one he proclaimed, “White!” And immediately put it back. The rest of the colors he named correctly. (Or maybe we’re all wrong and pink is white and white is pink.) [… We could be wrong.] Pink was white to him in any event, and no other logic really matters. His hands bore the distinctive look of an artist. He is obviously someone who deals in fidgeting and rummaging and splattered paints. Graphite dusted his palms and was crammed under his fingernails. I smiled to myself; hands that show personality are fun and easy to love.

My companion had on a very flattering tan shirt with red stripes. He told me he wants to be a hairdresser and that he was 50 years old. Actually, he doesn’t look this age at all. Though his face did look aged, his stature was that of a 25 year old man. If I had to guess, I wouldn’t have been able to pinpoint.

The artist muttered under his breath quite a lot. A trait I can relate to. I wonder if the people around him daily are dismissive by now; tired of making an effort with someone who keeps talking while not being privy to who he’s talking to. He’s talking to you, maybe, but with the air of getting his story out — just in case you forgot; in case you never met him again; in case he forgot; in case the world ends at 9:23pm tonight, Eastern Standard Time.

Our friend pulls out a book from his bag and shows it to me when I ask what it is. Its cover is long gone, and has probably been pulled from a library bin sale. He lets me take a picture so I can remember what it was. (I wonder if the highlights are his?)

“Oh look at me, I’m acting like my sister. She got locked up in the loony bin.” I blink in reply. “Ah well, I need to get my life together.” He says this as he puts everything back into the Lego for the… I lost count. At this point I know everything in the box. (Though more paint pot colors kept coming out every time and I wondered how many more there were.) I smiled at him, “I think we all need to get our lives together.” We really do.

I gestured towards my things laid out in front of me, “I need to study, though I’m glad to meet you.” “Oh! Of course! Thank you for the marker, you’ve made my day. I like you. I like you a lot. You get it.” I know what he means. Our conversation was invigorating. He gets it too. He shakes my hand, and exits the shop to have a cigarette. Before he leaves he places in front of me a little piece of shrub that’s been ripped from its parent (probably a whim while passing by the plant in question), and a tiny number 8 refrigerator magnet with no magnet left in it.

It was white.

THE END

“What advice would you give to those still ~traversing~ undergrad?”

The one thing you need to hear I think (or at least what I would have wanted to hear) is that everything is going to be okay.

Those really upsetting moments when you didn’t do as well as you think you could have? Walk away. It’s done. It is what it is. Focus on what you have to do in the future. You can mourn for those moments on break, with a good movie and as much chocolate as you want.

Ask the teacher what they want. Don’t assume you know. Verbalize. Start dialogues with your teacher. You could write a brilliant theorem that changes the nature of x, but that’s not going to get you the grade if all your teacher wanted was one page of personal thoughts on z.

You’re going to overwork yourself if you try to put the extra mile into every little assignment. Ask the teacher how much an assignment is worth. Don’t burn yourself out over an assignment that’s worth 10 points. Just do what is asked of you.

Learn how to be by yourself. This is hard, and this navigates the huge line between mental health and survival etc. but you will be okay if you don’t have a lot of friends. Especially for those who are in a new place. Don’t jump at new friends just because you’re lonely, you’re gonna burn out. Plus, most of the people you meet in undergrad you really won’t know past graduation.

Find the importance of each class you’re taking, even if it’s just “this helps me destress.” You’ll do a lot better if you have a reason to care about the class. “There are no boring subjects only disinterested minds.”

Let worrying about other people’s work compared to yours go. Seriously.

Remember that school may not even be for you in the long run, and it’s okay to do only exactly what is asked to get through if all you want is to get through just to have the degree. It’s okay for that to be your goal.  There’s a lot going on in saying that with “hard work” culture, and “being the best” and job markets and such, but there are other things that can be done in life besides things requiring climbing higher education, and most of these things you learn in school can be learned by books. (There are exceptions of course, but this is dependent entirely on what you want to do.)

You won’t recognize just how much you’ve grown until much later, and undergrad feels like hell generally, but you’ll be okay. It will seem like a dream after you move on from it, a long and really strange dream.

95

Stop idolizing the mountain. You can fall all the way down, walk ’round the damn thing twelve times, waste a few years, and still never make it all the way to the highest peak. It doesn’t matter. You can still survive in the valleys below, beautifully and well. You can still pour yourself into the ocean, and traverse continents and climb through jungles. The diversity of terrain is what makes life worthwhile. Your elevation does not mean that much.

A Tired Man

“I doubt he’s thinking about much. People tend to move when deep in thought, but un-thoughts are still. The body thickens the air around you in a desperate attempt to put you to sleep.”

I’m outside on the patio of The Coffee Bean across the street from UNLV. There is a slender older man in muted tan tailored pants I can see through the window. This man’s feet are dressed with patterned eggshell blue socks and placed inside a sharp pair of Oxfords. His green corded jumper is hiding a collared shirt underneath… though I can’t tell what color (maybe midnight blue?). The wire brimmed glasses he’s wearing are thick enough, and his slightly wild hair stands on end. Oh. His hair is graying in places. 

I observe him for a few minutes, and he pauses to rub his eyes, but this is a cue I didn’t need to tell he was tired, the repeated sighing motions in his body were signs enough. There are papers in his hands, but the poor things are only halfheartedly being studied. In an effort to concentrate (a task he appears to be failing miserably at) he consumes an espresso, a pastry, and a few sips of his water. (I have to agree here; this is no time for excessive water drinking.)

Maybe this man is a professor? I am sitting across from a university after all. The gold wedding band on his finger is slightly bigger than it should be. I want to sit next to him and ask why he’s so fatigued and on the path to being gaunt. I’m not one to talk though, I don’t sleep.

My man decides to give up and stares absentmindedly at the coffee counter instead, motionless, and I doubt he’s thinking about much. People tend to move when deep in thought, but un-thoughts are still. The body thickens the air around you in a desperate attempt to put you to sleep. I wonder if he’s too tired to manage his task, or if he’s just idling until a meeting of some sort. Annoyance. I am forced to look away as his gaze trails over to me, causing my pulse to speed up and an Anxiety to pull on my throat.

After composing myself internally, I turned my attention to other things, but out of the corner of my eye, I saw that when he got up to leave he paused in front of the window where I sat. It didn’t occur to me until later that he must have been watching me from the moment I looked down. I wonder what I looked like to my stranger. I wonder what he saw.

300˚C

Sometimes I forget to think in words.
Instead I start to think with my body.

I:

Think in food.
Think in clothes.
Think between the walls.
Think out for my friends.
Think with the lights on.
Think with beads of sweat.
Think through my eyes.
Think in thick pink noise.
Think in contagions.

Thinking in. Thinking out.
*Heartbeat*
Thinking in. Thinking out.

What are words and
What do they mean?

The Cyborg’s Monologue

Did they not warn you that I was the cyborg death?
I know where the sea is not the sea.
I know where the air is thick with signals.
So many signals it takes such a long. Long. Time. To move.
Hm. To live in a garden full of still and silent angels.
Where I am the rabid dog, and you are the only human.
Rabid dogs don’t need skill on their side.
They don’t even need fear. They just are.
Pushed by biological desire. Foaming.
Un-mechanical as they come. Foaming.
No wires. No one groping for them.
No one hoping to learn more about them.
No desire to use them for anything. plan-less.
The only thing people have for the rabid dog,
Is the primal sense to get way. Terror.
And maybe a little pity. It is strange.
Why is it that humans are so repulsed by pity.
Pity is a manifestation of caring. Empathy.
Humans would do well to cherish pity closer than they do.
Did no one tell you that I am the cyborg, Death?
And you are the human with no skill. Pitiful.
Humans should revel in their pitifulness.
It’s a unifying weakness, in all that there is.
Now is the time to pray for the garden.
A garden full of still and silent angels.
A garden where I will not be, after digital death.
Free of the rabid dogs hounding you away.

2.0

My heart’s beating so fast,
but maybe I’m just being reactionary.
Red. Blinded by eye sight.
I’m tasting your mouth, lost, and a little dry.
What have you been smoking?
It’s not a pleasing taste, but it feels so nice.
Like silk, trailing down.
My skin is turning cold, ice by touch.
It freezes like I have no blood left.
Let me borrow some of yours.
You look a little lost. No one speaks to you,
but you’ve never had the urge to cry.
Where’d you get that rough touch,
like you’re going to work all the time.
Where’d you get that look. Cold.
Like you’re ready for the war to begin.
Looking at you makes my blood run cold.
Let me borrow some of yours.
I’ve never felt so exposed, so worn down.
But you always drink to me later.
You’re a furnace, trying to keep a burn alive.