Here are the symptoms: 1) Dizziness 2) Frequent periods of extremely hard work 3) Less frequent periods of absolute inactivity and stillness 4) Recent dependence on the 70s TV show detective Jim Rockford for guidance and wisdom, via Netflix streaming I.V. 5) Midweek depression/angst 6) Obsessive musical explorations, settling in for ambient sounds when highly technical activity is required 7) Confusion over what I like, what I don’t like, and what I should like 8) Over-eating/ under-eating 9) lack of consideration for others 10) poorly connected and/or attuned to other human beings 11)hypercritical (and hypocritical) attitude toward unfunny this and that small talk/goofball antics 12) Blog failure 13) Living in the future 14) Cringing/twitching over past events 15) fear of how fast life is changing 16) dread of the ruts I get caught in—or situations that I interpret as ruts 17) forgetting important lessons 18) lapses in concentration 19) taking the wrong things seriously 20) failed meditations 21) failure to recognize the possibility that maybe there’s no such thing as a failed meditation 22) confusion over my true role or relationship to people ‘out there’ 23) connectivity issues 24) blog neglect 25) Twitter favoritism 26) Twitter frustration 27) Twitter disappointment 28) Twitter misunderstanding 29) weird expressions, facial, vocal, written 30) vulnerability to negative moods 31) insomnia 32) grinding of the teeth 33) loneliness 34) general flooding of thought 35) aches, pains 36) blurry vision after strenuous eyeballs exertion 37) allowing wisdom to come in one hole and go out the other 38) neglect of exercise 39) gesture failure 40) bad skin 41) stunted growth 42) frequent inability to distinguish between sounds heard in earbuds and sounds heard outside of earbuds 43) lack of confidence 44) failure to appreciate the right now 45) lack of time 46) fear of my ‘duties’ 47) complaining 48) inability to ‘engage’ 49) lack of resources 50) bad posture



His girlfriend kept asking me for my painkillers whenever he left the room, "Come on Bobby, gimme a pill. Gimme a pill." Every time he left the room: to take a leak, to get us more beers, to do whatever -- every time, the girlfriend: "gimme a pill gimme a pill." It was very awkward. I just smiled and said, "I don't know I don't know I don't know."

He had told me that this girl had once had a very serious drug problem - with a very serious drug. What was I going to do? Give her pills? Hell no. And anyway I needed the goddam things for my separated shoulder, for bona fide pain -- this was a legitimate prescription. Plus, I didn't like how freakin pushy she was being. I was starting to realize that I really did not get this girl. At all. Every time I hung out with them she would talk everybody to death about real estate. Loudly. Loud enough to cause pains in my skull.

But regarding him: He could have been my best friend. We had just about everything in common. We met while playing soccer at the YMCA. I couldn't possibly bring myself to tell him what happened with her, her practically begging me for my pills. I mean, I could have told him, I guess, but it all would have blown up badly. So I just decided to avoid the both of them. But I keep seeing him at the YMCA all the time and at the bookstore. I just keep walkin. Bad, huh?



Just keep asking: What is going through my head? What is going through my head? What is going through my head? And you will see what is going through your head, and these things will diminish like smoke as the breeze of your inquiry nudges these things along...and soon you are asking: What is going through my head? What is going through my head? What is going through my head? - - And there's nothing. Nothing but that question. And then the question goes away. And then you have those perfectly balanced, nothing gaps in brain activity where it's an absolute nothing in your head. Until something else comes and then you again start asking: What is going through my head? What is going through my head? What is going through my head?

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Letting go by actually pondering the definition of 'letting go' and engaging directly in it, as you have just defined it: "Letting go means not holding onto this or that. Not holding on to this or that means your mind is not engaged with something from minutes ago, it is observing what is coming in right now: it is observing the stiffness in the back, it is observing the sound of the car motor down the street, it is observing the refrigerator compressor turning on. Letting go means not hanging on. Letting go frees me to observe what is happening RIGHT NOW. Letting go means your mind is a tunnel that things flow through, things do not become encased, they flow through and are gone, they may cycle back through, but then they are gone again. Define very clearly what letting go is and do it. Sometimes, if you repeat the words "Let go let go let go," the words start to loose their meaning, and your just saying the words and the clutter in your head remains and these words are there with the clutter. If you keep your mind on what letting go is...If you have let go, you are now observing the new things that occur because your mind is not occupied by the thing that you let go of. Whatever that was.


In these times, it seems like we have to look within and improve within and find rewards within. There is no slack in the market. There is no fat in the workforce. There is none of that ‘just skating by’ stuff. All those gigs where you just surf the internet all day and don’t do shit (many of these gigs: I have worked in them, they did in fact exist) -but- I bet they’ve mostly dried up, because the market is so tight. Moreover, everybody has been knocked down a few pegs below where they believe they should be, knocked down from where they were back in the hyped up, greedy delusion days. Now everybody’s real and in their real place. There’s nothing you can do but get sharper, more knowledgeable, wiser, more mindful. What else is there to do? There’s no room out in the world for your ‘growth,’ so you have to expand within. Within your own world. This is how it seems to me. Improve yourself, the world ain’t gonna give it to you.

In the department I work in, half the people are taking classes: accounting, tech, medical, somethin...

I don’t know. It seems like all the delusions are crashing down, the house of cards built up so flimsy, built with weak dollars and air - it’s crashing down. There’s nothing left to take out there. You’ve got to make the most with what you’ve already got. If you don’t have anything, you’ve got to build it from within. Develop your inner world. Expand your inner self. It sounds corny, but it’s true. It would definitely have sounded corny to somebody three or four years ago. A lot of the clichés are starting to mean something again.

Some things about my lifestyle have not changed, in reality. I live about the same way I used to live. The difference for me is I have been forced to work much harder in order to hang on to the job I’m lucky enough to have. Another difference for me is that there is no promise of a big salary had easy by just ‘lasting’ somewhere. A few years ago, it seemed you would be guaranteed an upward path if you just held out. Now, no, not really. Another difference for me now is that the wife and I might want to try to have a kid. So I absolutely have to fight off my back and claw my way into a better position. I mean: I do and I don’t. I really think I should. It’s hard to explain: I could just leave my life the way it is and just barely scrape by and have a kid and buy K-Mart clothes for the kid that will get the kid’s ass kicked in school. Or I could at least improve my situation a little bit and give the kid about an average existence and average stuff. But, the ‘average’ – the middle – the middle class - - it’s disappearing. People are falling on one or the other side of the fault line, rich or poor. And now this nonsense I’m typing here is really dissolving into nonsense and I’m not sure what the hell I’m talking about. The Plan: Learn some tech. Get a tech job. Get a tech salary – not a huge one – an average tech salary. Have a kid and all of the triumphs and traumas and dramas and fantastic things and love involved with that…and…also…reconnect with other branches of the family. Restart the writing business (beyond just leaving hand scratched notes in public places, which I still do do.) Get back to not caring about money…because there will be enough of it. I've never really been a Material Girl, you know what I mean? Never had a fancy car, fancy this fancy that. And it's not that I'm some 'deep dude' who's a minimalist or an ascetic or whatever. I think I just need to be somewhere in the middle with most people...unless the middle ground opens up and swallows us all up...


It doesn't snow much in Portsmouth, Virginia. I guess I was eight or nine years old when I saw my older sister walking home through the snow with her friend and with some guy. School was canceled because of the snow. It was a great snow too. Any snow that stuck and accumulated on the ground and accumulated on the streets and caused school to be canceled - was a great snow. I was out playing in it. As my sister and her friend entered the yard followed by that guy, I think I probably threw a snowball at them. My sister quickly told me to quit it so I did. My sister and her friend went inside. I was still in the front yard, and this guy was standing there. I didn't know who he was or what his story was. He was older, maybe my sister's age or older. I guess I must have thrown a snowball at him. It probably seemed like the natural thing to do. I guess the natural thing to do, from his perspective, was to start throwing snowballs back at me. So he did. But his aim seemed a little bit off. Not only that, his whole throwing motion seemed a bit ungainly and awkward. I didn't know whether he just couldn't throw very well or if he was missing me on purpose because he was older.

Suddenly my big brother burst through the front door. "Get out of here!" he shouted at the guy. "Bobby, stay away from him." It took a few harsh shouts from my brother (who could be quite a fearsome-crazy-badass) - it took a few yells from my brother for it to register with the guy that he should carry his ass, and finally he did, he walked away down the street. My brother told me that the guy was a weirdo...or...that he ain't right or some kind of description like that. He said the guy was a like a crazy person...or...just: never talk to him or never go near him ever. I don't remember exactly how my brother put it, but he put it in a way that made it perfectly clear. Apparently the guy had followed my sister and her friend to our I can't remember the guy's first name, only his last name, but I won't use that here. Instead I'll just call him David Sheppard. Why it was that my brother didn't just forgo the talk and forgo the warning and walk straight up to David and just start ripping pieces off of him, I don't know. Maybe my brother felt sorry for him. He didn't pity him enough to be kind to him, but he pitied him enough to not whip his ass out there that day. Maybe he waited until later, I don't know.

I don't know why I am telling this story. This story does not end well. For some reason I was thinking about these events this morning. Maybe if I type this out, I'll never think about it again which would be just fine with me - and this is a phenomenon that I actually read about one time - a phenomenon that a for-real writer once described about memories: that once you write about them, they are gone, they separate themselves from you and they become their own things, and they yank their roots and strands out of your brains and draw them up into their own selves and they separate from you. Maybe that's writer bullshit (probably it is), but I do think that writing up a memory alters it. Maybe it has benefits. Maybe it at least tidies things up in your mind. Maybe it draws it out, rips the scabs off of it and causes you further torture that could have been avoided if you didn't bring it up again. I don't know.

A few years after my snowball fight with David Sheppard, David was involved in an armed standoff situation with the cops that ended badly. I heard the story from my brother and from a kid in school, and of course the story was on the news too. David attacked his brother and their mom with an ax handle in the family's home. (They lived four houses down and a bit around the corner from us.) The brother and his mother escaped from the house and called the police from the neighbor's house. David grabbed a gun that was in the home, and he fired at the police when they arrived on their street.

My brother was a very animated story teller. I remember his description of these events. I remember the crazy look on my brother's face and his bulging blue eyes and the way he brought his empty hand to his temple clutching the imaginary gun and the spasm that followed as he reenacted David's final deed of that day. The kid at school who relayed the story was named Charlie. Charlie was always late for school. I guess this all happened shortly after school began. While walking to school that morning, Charlie saw all the police in front of the Sheppard residence, and I don't know: I guess the cops made him go the long way around or they told him to quit gawking and get the hell out of there and go to school or something like that.

I don't know. Does everybody have stories like this? Or am I weird: am I one of the few -who- for some reason hangs on to these stories, unintentionally or intentionally, these fucked up stories: absurd, pointless, tragic events that happened around me that pop up in my memory? My memories are not the worst -- for sure I know that. I've never been in war. I've never been the victim. I've never had anything really bad happen directly to me. But weird stuff has happened around me. I don't know. Has anything like this ever happened around you? ...where you weren't quite involved, but you were close enough to it that it surfaces now and then in your memory this many years later? You know what? Something even worse than this happened with our next door neighbors, and I doubt you'd believe me if I told you, and I don't even want to tell it because - what's the point - and I don't even know what the point of any of this was. These things just happen in the world and sometimes they happen near you and sometimes you just hear about them on the news or in a blog or something.


Ever since Katrina, there are times when I'm taking a sip of water or over-eating, gorging or throwing out food or looking at food on the shelves . . . I think of how much this sip or this scrap...whatever it is...a handful of Cheez-its or a few spoonfuls of cous cous or rice or a half bottle of beer or plate of lettuce and sliced tomatoes or a piece of pizza with two bites taken out of it . . . how much it would be desired, fought over, cried for, begged, desperately gobbled guzzled craved - in New Orleans right after Hurricane Katrina went through...I'm not joking. The memory of this event, Hurricane Katrina, is implanted and interwoven and associated (at times) with my act of eating and drinking and even seeing food or smelling it or hearing it being prepared...or the sound of a bottle cap twisting off a beer or just about anything (at times, not all the time). I don't know if this is a prayer or a reflection or a connection with the world or guilt or an acknowledgment of the relative comfort and ease of my life compared to others. And now I'm getting those same kind of haunting feelings about Haiti. I could point out all of the inequities and atrocities and absurdities of the situation that have been pointed out over and over, but I just wonder how these things affect us as individuals, like psychologically.