“There is no means of testing which decision is better, because there is no basis for comparison. We live everything as it comes, without warning, like an actor going on cold. And what can life be worth if the first rehearsal for life is life itself? That is why life is always like a sketch. No, "sketch" is not quite a word, because a sketch is an outline of something, the groundwork for a picture, whereas the sketch that is our life is a sketch for nothing, an outline with no picture.” — Milan Kundera

“Or: Maybe the essay is just a conditional form of literature—less a genre in its own right than an attitude that’s assumed in the midst of another genre.
Or: Maybe every essay automatically is in some way experimental—less an outline traveling toward a foregone conclusion than an unmapped quest that has sprung from the word question”— John D’Agata, p. 41 and 95, The Next American Essay. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2003.

“As a verb, essay means “to make an often tentative or experimental effort to perform.”” — Ralph Rodriguez, my dear former professor. Much credit goes to him for both my love of essays and of writing itself, as well as the inspiration for this page. 

︎︎︎June 13


“Progress is often marked by a slow return to original sincerity.
Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit.
Sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny. – Proverb”
An I Ching Website I consult often now.

Ha! I told Bob at the Pittsburgh dog park: I consult it through the Internet, which makes it even more bullshit. But then I keep returning to it.

Another return: at the time that I read/listened to Motherhood by Sheila Heti (which I’ve just now confused with How Should a Person Be?, her other book that I love and think of often…because I ask myself that question often. And I should return to that book…) I didn’t think much of the I Ching readings in it. At the time, I had just graduated college. I was living in a limbo that felt impossible (an apt description of many phases of life I now realize), and I was painting a badly conceived portrait of a familiar friend (the colors were off. Julie Stunden, other family friend and brilliant painter, commented that I had started wrong: my base color was orange, vibrant, neon. I had thought you could start any way, but she said that cool tones worked better as a foundation for human skin tone. Eventually I completely restarted with a blue base. It was never completely fixed, but it was vastly improved. Thank you Julie.). The painting wasn’t working, and I was committing some sort of self-immolation via audiobook, that is, confronting the big questions of life through Sheila’s narration while simultaneously confronting that proverbial “rest of my life” that follows college.

My revelation during that period was that I was facing what felt like an impossible amount of uncertainty: what would the rest of my life look like? How should one be? What is adulthood, labor, what is the world during, post, with COVID? (This was the summer of 2021, when the world was collectively in another limbo: how long would the pandemic last in the end? Retrospectively, I might deem this period about ⅗ through.)

Limbo–I am struck with an impulse to mathematify this narrative: limbo is actually a state of flux, a state of possibility, disorganization. As much as there are problems with contemporary science, it is a huge source of poetic wisdom and inspiration for me. I.e. the chaos (entropy) that order and reordering and (alchemy) necessitate.

So what formed after that period? What remains and where will I return to? This and more, in my Life Essay (the name of which runs the risk of redundancy.)

︎︎︎June 15

Bob + Boredom

A note on Bob: He’s the sort of person who could inspire a character like Kramer on Seinfeld. That rich. He’s a fixture at the dog park: perpetually dressed in a bright yellow jacket, in his 70s and retired (from arresting people for mistreating animals).

Bob is constructing a rock wall called Stonehedge. Or pebble something. The name is in flux, but the structure is very real: a snaking row of carefully placed rocks in the back end of the dog park. He says he constructs it when there’s no one else around, describes another person slowly building what looked like a ritualistic circle, an extraterrestrial landing zone.

I think of boredom: (this was written a while ago)

In the digital world it seems to be the source of action: movement, stopping, switching, clicking scrolling, all because something is not interesting enough to retain attention. One becomes locked in a cycle of search and rescue: seeking stimulation and quickly becoming dissatisfied. More is always a question, not less.

Boredom is decidedly less, which becomes more. Boredom is space, simplicity. It's abundant time. Creativity, questions. Emptiness is so good. I wish I had more emptiness in life! I feel as though each day is a fight for emptiness or to fight the urge to fill any available emptiness. My mind and heart are full. There are too many ideas, I can't bear to make more and yet I’m having them constantly. Constant connections through static. What a bore! To be alive when everything else is also creating or created. Perhaps this is why people move to remote coasts because the water has a feeling of emptiness…they can act like 19th century European men and pursue producing, generation, growth—guiltlessly. Or they can hear their own thoughts. I hear mine and they layer with countless others. Text everywhere, no empty space. Even the white space feels full of the ideas of men, Zuckerberg, or whoever.

Bob’s project is quiet response to boredom. I wonder what the line is between this and other types of filling, growth, generation. He is reordering objects in the environment, quietly, impermanently.

Like a wave gently tucking sand

beneath itself.

︎︎︎June 17


Note: I don't remember reading this or what the book is, but I have thought of utopia a lot recently. Partly because designers love to speak of utopia, partly because I feel resistant to it, on the precipice of some sort of critique. But it seems I used to be more optimistic about utopias. This is my handwriting. So I will reconsider: I think utopia is the proverbial moon that you shoot for to land among the stars, forgiving the cliche. 

What is life without goals? I thought about that on the toilet today. It seems life would not be as good without them, and yet I find the concept of "betterment" questionable at times. Why? Isn't the idea that we should all be valuable aside from our actions, beliefs, accomplishments? Or is that just one of the other doctrines? And where is the possibility of not living within a system of belief?

It seems that Bloch thinks of Utopia as an attainable goal. Or that it should be one. Either way, I think it is by definition unattainable, and that is what makes it worthwhile to consider. A bar to raise us, to reach toward; the tail the dogs chase.

︎︎︎July 1


A strange performative gesture while reading The White Dress.
(The book that haunted me all the way to NYC.)

Nathalie Léger writes about performance artist, Pippa Becca.

I think I could possibly read the entire 100 page book while biking in place. I’m at the gym too early on a Saturday morning in summer. They play loud music to which I add a secondary layer of enveloping sound: “Not Strong Enough” by boygenius on repeat. The hype for their album has subsided so naturally my curiosity has increased, and I've been listening on repeat.

Honestly, I can’t say I find this song particularly profound or compelling, but there’s a video of them singing it live on YouTube, which shows the progression of each chorus, shifting meaning slightly, the harmonies building in complexity. This is what compels me—what almost seems like a drafting process fixed in place. Rewriting, revising lyrics and thoughts and cooperative melodie’s all at once. Hearing it grow through the song locks me info a perpetual climax sitting on the bike, rolling to nowhere. I use my finite energy for nothing. Not even my playlist moves forward.

In the induced state of paralysis I think I might be able to open up a black hole (initially wrote “whole.” a black whole!) of time (unintended reference to the lyrics). This will be the way to read an entire book on the bike. (Reminiscent of a toilet, or other seats that seem to stretch time. And Alia says she’s on the toilet when I am on my way back.) I think, I actually don’t think, keep glazing through the pages with no sense of preciousness: it is a greedy form of reading, with a pencil aggressively leaving messy marks everywhere, shaking myself with the motion of my feet. I find nearly every other line compelling, think I might have to return to this to understand fully, but for now the best thing to do is to keep reading.

The black hole kept me from it. Began to close on its own. I might not have been able to stretch it as much as I had thought. I was sleep tired, up too early again, and then I suddenly hear another song play. Not Strong Enough stops its endless repeat, and time has begun again. I feel it enclosing and bid farewell to my seat.

︎︎︎July 17

On Waiting

I have been listening to the Suburbs by Arcade fire on repeat (inspired by Elvira). This feels like a major discovery, but also a subtle missed opportunity to love something during my youth. Nevertheless, it’s not too late to love it, and I do.

I listen and the theme of waiting emerges:

“Now our lives are changing fast

Now our lives are changing fast

Hope that something pure can last

Hope that something pure can last

It seems strange

How we used to wait for letters to arrive

But what's stranger still

Is how something so small can keep you alive

We used to wait

We used to waste hours just walkin' around

We used to wait

All those wasted lives in the wilderness downtown

Oh, we used to wait

Oh, we used to wait

Oh, we used to wait

Sometimes it never came (we used to wait)

Sometimes it never came (we used to wait)

Still moving through the pain”

I think of the long months waiting for the school year to end this past year. Waiting to leave Santa Clarita. As I was waiting, I was wallowing in my sadness about waiting for my life to start instead of living it. I called this “holding patterns;” Maria and I talked about it a lot. Not wanting to live like we were just getting something done in order to have finished it. That wasn’t really living.

As I listen to this song, however, I wonder if we were too harsh on waiting. I always have thought waiting rooms were sort of beautiful and interesting places. There are these social contracts you enter into, where you become silent, docile, stationary in exchange for the waited-for thing.

Léger writes about waiting in her book… I already included that page but I’ll put it here again. I was struck by it and the truth of this waiting feeling in my experience of being in my 20s. All these people around me (including myself) looking at life and thinking, is this it? When will it happen? Then it hits you: this is it and has always been.

Oh shit! That is the feeling of anxiety and pressure that comes next. If this is already it, I better get to it. But then it feels impossible? Confusing? Daunting? If you don’t make some decisions now, will you face the consequences later?

I said to Elvira last night:
it’s a strange thing bc u can’t know the future but then ur thoughts about the future in this given present shape it

so if u think we have a future i act differently now and shape the future to be different

Now I think to myself, stop thinking so much. And go to bed earlier.

︎︎︎July 25

On Claiming

–Driving across Pennsylvania –crocheting a shell stitched bag –blasting music in my ears to drown out my parents quarrels over directions,

–I return to the subject of claiming, and my discomfort with it. I have the realization that i avoid sharing things because I have a blockage on Claiming. Because what do I know? Nothing for certain, it seems. It seems the wiser thing to not claim, to only claim the not knowing and to let what follows be a series of softer things: noticings. Questions. Observations, fragments. A claim is akin to a house of cards, bound to fall even to a subtle gust of air. (A claim I have just made…) Why bother constructing such a fragile, brittle thing? (Because there is no reason to do much of anything but eat and sleep. Editing voice: I realize not claiming is a claim…nothing is always something. Dammit!)

–although, a worthwhile question is, would claiming be a good use of the limited time I have here? I’m not certain. I think it seems good to do things fully and deeply, to try to understand them better than ever before, but there seems to me obvious limitations. Totality, wholeness –these are impossibilities.

–this perspective might actually be a combination of my own totalizing pathology, extrapolated to the world as a whole, for better or worse. To try to understand striving, I look at my own striving and think, What’s suspect here? I can’t live outside of my head.

–so what’s suspect is the coexistence of drives: 1. To understand everything, to know my own purpose, a deep drive for certainty and grounding and 2. The resistance of claiming and certainty because I simply don’t believe in it and feel even worse if i try to participate. All facts become intertwined with my feelings about them and the process. I’m not certain whether I am a brain or this feeling being or something else or a combination or not an “I” at all. –keep trying.