Detective’s Diary

1/18

It’s pains me to admit, but I’m at something of a low point. It’s a strange one though, almost as if observed rather than felt. I’m the least healthy I’ve been in my quarter century or so and that is no easy achievement. Perhaps I was on an upwards tract, but then I was hit by a truck both metaphorical and very literal. I’m beginning to worry I may not recover anytime soon.

Today it is 41°F. Normally I would love this, be spending these precious few days in nature, wrapped in a scarf, thermos of coffee in one hand camera in other. I have always had penchant for cold temperatures, growing up in a state where you can fry an egg on the side walk most months and wash it down with the humidity you scoop from the air, but it’s not in me this year. Hasn’t been for a while.

It’s not just cold weather though. It’s everything.

1/25

It’s been a week since I left this unfinished. Maybe for the best. Shouldn’t indulge the thought spiral. My mood has shifted again. No longer am I at the bottom of the pit, but like a ledge 12 ft up, there’s some moss and a spider too close for comfort.

It’s been three days since I’ve had coffee. I miss it in the way I imagine amputees miss a limb. When I think about the Starbucks gift card in my wallet there is a sharp pain in me where the coffee should be. It’s all for the better, however, or at least so I hope.

My doctor has proposed a new medicine for my life long ailment of being a fat piece of shit. Sadly, it does not mix with caffeine. I’ve never taken pills before to try to deal with it. In many ways it feels wrong, like I am cheating. It might not even work and if it does I’ll only be on it for 3 months. But of all my ails both physical and psychological, I feel this is the keystone. If I can kick this one loose, I may just collapse into something resembling a functional human.

Publishing a draft from January…

 

I hate the content, but like the imagery.

 

*Shrug*

 

And no, I don’t remember why I titled it ‘Detectives Diary’.

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Dada dum da da dada dum da da

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ACT ONE

I’ve always have had a terrible jealousy of music. It’s just so darn effective at evoking an emotional response. You don’t need words, hell, you often don’t need instruments. A sweetly hummed melody is often all you need, whether it’s between a mother and child, two lovers, or the overly nostalgic end credits of a 2016 musical. Visual mediums are almost as bad. A picture is worth a thousand words and a painting probably even more. They can tell more story with their lighting, focus, brush strokes, and colors than  I could in a dozen eassy’s about them. It gets even worse when those pictures start moving, of course. If you have actors who are good at  their art and a director and cinematographer who know how use the visual story telling cues, you honestly don’t even need dialogue. Words are purely secondary.

Yet words are what humanity created precisely to communicate our stories the most effectively. It’s not as easy to craft just right, but you don’t have to rely on your audience if you don’t want to. A movie with no words is lost on those who don’t care to observe , a picture’s thousand words never get said to those who don’t care to look for them, and a song’s magic is lost on those without the heart for it. I think that’s ultimately why we tell most of our stories with words despite how secondary they often are.

Just wish I wasn’t so shit with them.

 

ACT TWO

I consider tonight something of a personal failing. I was supposed to go out tonight, get out of my comfort zone, meet up with a girl I don’t know very well, make some new friends, listen to music, get drunk, have an explore, fall in love, make more friends, bottle up the whole experience into wonderful soul fulfilling art,  y’know, all that jazz. Instead I stayed home and watched La La Land for the fourth time with my mother (first time with my mother). *sigh*

The first time I saw La La Land, was in the good old days of January. Trump wasn’t officially president yet and I remember that despite the never ending bad joke that was 2016, I was feeling oddly hopeful. I couldn’t tell you why but I felt 2017 was going to be better despite the absurdity of that notion. After seeing it for the first time in theaters I was filled with a desire to chase my dreams.

I related a lot with the female lead, Mia, a smallish town girl with a lot of romantic dreams about Paris and living a fulfilling creative life. She had her actress aunt and old movies and I had snippets of smoky writer’s rooms and jazz bars gleamed from the Lost Generation. I dreamed my teens away imagining living in voluntary exile in the city of lights and lovers, spending my days by my whims, my nights by my loves, and my late nights bleeding at the typewriter.

I left that theater feeling determined to go home and write something nostalgic, somethings sentimental, something beautiful. A thing that would make that wayward teen I once was dream even more. Much like my travels in 2016, my first viewing of La La Land made me want to live by my dreams, Paris or not.

ACT THREE

I never put fingers to keyboard to bleed a story that night though. Not the night after either. Didn’t even prick them till July and haven’t bled a drop since. I can mark woman’s intuition off my skill list as thus far 2017 has been pretty rotten though I’m holding up middlingly well. Any progress I’ve made towards living my dream life was moonwalked right back over in July. Take that plot arc a apply it to the last six years or so and you get an idea of the life adulthood handed that dreamy teen. Even the nostalgia of La La Land has a bitter aftertaste these days. I can’t help but feel teen me would be rather disappointed in me. Nothing to do but move forward though I suppose….

Perhaps, I’ll seek my fortune on fairer, more westerly, shores. *sigh*

 

ACT FOUR

 

Dada dum da da dada dum da da

Dada dum da da dada dum da da

City of Stars

Won’t you shine just a little for me?

City of Stars

There’s so much I can’t see…

Who knows?

Perhaps my dreams will come true?

Dada dum da da dada dum da da

Dada dum da da dada dum da da

Scorning Terminus.

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Terminus is the Roman god of boundaries and limits. Once set, his boundaries can never be moved.

….

I love the way bodies of water look when it gets cold. Whether its the pond behind the school I work at or the vast sea. That deep blue stillness calls me; dark, cold, and inviting, like the sad eyes of a beautiful person.

Veltiosi

This last month I have been consciously trying to improve and better myself.   I plunge into the morning cold to exercise first thing.  I eat better and sometimes even less. I’ve started to read more widely and often. I’ve started doing a daily crossword again. I want to make routines and study new things. I want  make a better me, one that can be happy and have a sense of purpose . 

Saisei.

Old me wants to live though. It’s screaming; frustrations and inadequacies. I just want to hide away mostly. I’m no teacher, can’t help even one kid without resenting him. I’m no athlete, can barely walk four miles. I’m no writer, I can barely manage this. I am no thinker, can barely string together thoughts. No linguist, four years of French for nonsensical insults. No musician: sax, guitar, ukulele, piano all half learned and then forgotten from childhood. 

Pretension

Who do I think I am kidding?

….sigh….

I went to read at the pier with the fishermen. The warm sun on the left of my face, cold winds on the right. I forgot my jacket. Pelicans, cranes, and the gentle lapping of waves. The sea the saddest blue.

  Plop. Plop

A fisherman wades into the sea in search of meaning. I snap photos between chapters and voices across the pier blur and twist into Russian like my book. 

Devushka.

But, for now at least, I am winning.

Melancholy is my Favorite Feeling

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No I don’t mean anguish, or depression, or despair, or any of that. Perhaps it’s the wrong phrase, but what I am talking about is that feeling, you know the one. It can come on while listening to music, driving, laying in bed staring at the ceiling, or after watching a movie that just tugs at you, or perhaps simply out of nowhere. It’s a sweet wistful sadness, it’s dreams,  sentimentality, loss, and longing. When it washes over you you cease to think and just feel. That raw emotion that leaves you floating, chest swelled and heart aching.  That silly romanticism that just overwhelms you with emotion and destroys you while you hum along. That is my favorite feeling.

Pontifex Maximus of One’s Own Soul

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Pontifex Maximus is surly a term vaguely familiar to most, we know it mainly as but one of the many titles held by the Pope of Rome. It’s a title which he borrowed from the emperors which he symbolically succeeded, a title denoting the chief priest of Rome.  But before the popes used it to establish themselves as the supreme religious authority of the west, before Augustus co-oped the office as his own, and even  before during the late republic when it became but a stepping stone office for the politically ambitious, the office held a very different role.

The office of Pontifex Maximus was created by Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, in those far off days of ancient per-historical legend. Numa, a pacifist and extremely religious man believed, if religious duty and authority rested in the same hands as political authority, the gods would be neglected  and Rome doomed. Thus, Pontifex Maximus was created to administer the proper rites and oaths, honor the gods, and generally be the chief curator of the roman civic soul.

I’ve long had a deep fascination with ancient Rome. When I was in my teen years it completely consumed by imagination. Visions of grand aqueducts and marching legions swelled my young heart with faux nationalism and pride in heritage, after all, I was  a child of Rome, the greatest empire the world has ever known. Although those heady days of chest bumping fanaticism are well behind me, my dormant obsession has recently been reignited. I’ve rather voraciously consumed podcast after podcast on Rome and her oft belied torch bearer through the middle ages, Byzantium. I have found in this reignited obsession perhaps some answers to my other long lingering obsession, my search for spiritual purpose and self identity in the secular realm.

I grew up catholic. Perhaps not surprising, my most devout years in service to our modern Pontifex Maximus, where the ones shared with my greatest obsession with Rome. When I was serving the church on the altar I  found spiritual purpose. Not in love of Jesus or service to the lord almighty or any of that jazz, but in the rituals and rites of the Catholic Church. The calm and sense of purpose the ritual of mass gave my naturally chaotic soul, kept me a level ship through many rough waves. Through differences in opinion on my sexuality and my own lack of enamorment with the God of Abraham I had found myself thoroughly separated from Christianity (and honestly modern religion in general). Thus I began my search for that same spirituality unchained from modern religiosity.

During more recent years I have found myself turning frequently to the philosophies of the ‘East’ (mainly Japan and China) for answers, but I have run up against a problem that I imagine many westerners face trying to learn from the great eastern minds, the utter discordance of western thinking with the mysticism eastern philosophies are steeped in.  To a mind raised in the tradition of Plato, Nietzsche, and Voltaire, a tradition of thought that aligns itself solely with logic and proudly declares ‘god is dead’, understanding, let alone applying successfully to one’s own life the teachings of the east can be difficult. As such I have had little success.

When veering unexpectedly back towards Rome, I stumbled haphazardly upon perhaps a guideline of sorts, towards a synthesis of  secular logic and spiritual mysticism, from which I could learn. The Romans were practical people, even in their religion. There were no zealots in Rome. Even the office of Pontifex Maximus was an elected one, spirituality was a duty to keep Rome in proper running order. At the same time however, such a secular outlook did not diminish devotion, oaths, honor, and religious rites were regarded with the utmost respect and reverence. Similarly, in the later years of Rome when it was Greek and called Byzantium, although it had taken on a bent of theological mysticism, secularism still tempered their devotion. There is no such thing as Holy War to the Orthodox mind.

You can see this spiritual sense of duty’s influence in almost all the virtues of that made Rome great, from the republican ideals of Cincinnatus or Publius Decius during the early republic and Samnite Wars, to the heroics of the last Emperor of Rome, Constantine XI, fighting a doomed defense of Constantinople against the ascendant Ottomans. The Romans, when at their best never gave up, never surrendered, and devoted themselves wholeheartedly to Rome. I think without that balanced mix of secular and spiritual devotion, none of the triumphs of Rome would have been possible.

Similarly, I think the key to successfully finding any sort of real spiritual purpose lies in infusing my logical intellectual life with the sense of spiritual purpose those old rites and rituals once offered me. How, precisely to do this I am still unsure. Perhaps I’ll find the answer to how to tend one’s soul still lies in some eastern text. I hope one day soon,  I’ll figure it out and overcome this long depression of mind, body, and soul. Then, maybe,  I’ll be the  Pontifex Maximus of my own soul.

Someday, We’ll Meet Beyond the Stars.

Recently I have finally had to give up on a lot of things I’ve been struggling to maintain for a long while now. It’s both a relief and a defeat. I feel lighter but harder as a result.

I often think about fate. I’m not sure I entirely believe there is a preordained way things have to go, but I do believe there are limits to who we are and what we can be. Every life is one experience stacked atop another. We are constantly clashing together with others and their stacks, gaining and sometimes losing things as well.

Often I find myself limited by my own stack. The experiences that have stuck with me make it hard to pursue the things, experiences, and relationships I really want. Equally, often I find that even if my stack doesn’t block me or that I can over come it, things simply don’t fall into place or another person’s stack simply makes my goals impossible.  Effort and desire by a lone individual aren’t enough I don’t think. There has to be a collaboration, a shared ambition and luck enough to not have the universe stop it anyways. I think perhaps there in lies fate.

Fate is simply the people and things you can’t control. You need both luck and other people to really build anything, to be successful. Success has also oft occupied my thoughts of late. What makes one successful? There is this idea about success that I often hear that seems to ignore fate and other people; that if you want something and don’t have it you simply aren’t trying hard enough. Certainly, lack of effort will not get you what you want, but it isn’t the only factor.

I feel like my life up to this point has been a pretty clear failure by the standards I have set for myself. I’ve half halfheartedly made attempts to live the life I desired for a long time, I was waiting for a prefect opportunity that never seemed to come, I was being held back by my stack. When I finally overcame my hang ups and started putting forth real effort,  I was lucky enough to find another person who shared my ambition and thus all that was stopping our success was fate and fate stopped it dead. In this case, I can try again, perhaps without the need of another. Persistence would then seem to be the key to success.

However, some things you can’t try again. Some things you can’t try at all. Another person’s experience stack make them impossibilities. For this reason loves go unrequited, friendships break apart, and people grow distant. Sometimes people aren’t who they seemed to be, sometimes they change, and sometimes they are exactly who you thought but have a hamartia that puts them beyond you. Sometimes things just don’t work and there is nothing to be done. There in lies fate.

And when I think about all the impossibilities in my life, all the missed opportunities that have long gone by or all those that never existed, all the lost love and failed connections. I hope that one day I can meet all those people that things simply fell apart with once more beyond the limits of who we are, beyond the limits of that damnedable fate. I hope then we’ll be happy.

Older Than a Life Time

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Life is a strange thing. Some people get to live more than a lifetime before they go and some never even get a chance at the one.

The oldest person ever to live was Jeanne Calment, a French woman who lived to be one hundred and twenty two years old. She met Vincent Van Gogh when she was twelve, was thirty nine when Franz Ferdinand was assassinated starting World War I and she’d out live nations and wars all the way till after Saddam Hussein was kicked out of Kuwait and Bill Clinton was diddling interns.

While she still has a good three decades to catch old Jeanne, my grandmother has been around for ninety years as of yesterday and she’s still  more active and adventurous than my old twenty four year old bones could imagine. In a country where the average lifespan for women is eighty, she has lived more than a lifetime.

I’ve unfortunately never been close with my grandmother. She’s as stern as she is miraculously youthful. My romanticism and lifestyle have never jived with her and we maintain good relations through seldom contact. The same rings true with the rest of my extended family and thus I tend to find myself feeling adrift among the sea of family during events.

After the introduction kisses and hugs were passed, I was lucky enough to find my self a corner and a Cape Codder to nurse (courtesy of my already drunk uncle). I took to my usual watching, listening to the banter of people I barely recognized, and listening to the sweet playing of Terry, the kindly old gal manning the piano, only being interrupted when my parents would drag me into their impressive boasting of the meager accomplishments I had given them to work with.

“Oh, your son is a marketing executive for Bungie? Well our girl is an artist, very talented, did you see the painting she did for her grandmother?”

Unlike most family events, I eventually found myself something of a groove that kept me distracted from how out of place and awkward I felt. I would sit in my corner avoiding conversation until I had enough liquid courage to go ask Terry to ‘play it for me, Sam’ (literally once, who doesn’t love As Time Goes By?). However, as I sat there enjoying my own little corner, I spotted something unusual, someone else who didn’t belong.

All my younger cousins were sitting at a table together.  There was my godmother’s adorable little tikes Riley and Miller, the type of kids who make you want your own. They were playing, dancing, and just being adorable  together. Occasionally, they’d pester my godfather’s eldest Jordan, a pretty girl, annoyingly taller than me (and ridiculously long legged for my family),when she wasn’t fixated on the USA v Germany  Woman’s Soccer Game. And then making a rare appearance, there was her younger brother, Joey Jr. Joey was born with a severe type of muscular dystrophy that usually only gives out a meager sixteen years. He’s thirteen this year.  He was trying his best to have his own little corner too. But being wheelchair bound and paralyzed from the neck down doesn’t give you the same mobility options to get away from people that just being an awkward mess does.

I watched him for about an hour, as his mother wheeled him around to meet a bunch of people he didn’t care about and smile for the obscene about of pictures his grandmother (my aunt) always takes at these things. I’m not even sure if he can speak anymore, but watching him, his story almost had me crying. His eyes were this heart breaking combination of sad, angry, and exhausted. He was old enough to realize that ninety wasn’t even an age he could dream of making. He was a dying kid celebrating a long and fruitful life.

His mother took him home even before dinner was served. I was relived  for him. I couldn’t have lasted as long as him, even with a hundred Cape Codders. So as my mother raised a glass and toasted to meeting here again in ten years, my thoughts were squarely on the brave little boy who didn’t have a hope of seeing it.