Category Archives: musings

Post MFA Writer’s Blues, Fear, Little Deaths or, When Life Gives You Lemons…

Fear. Of writing. Who would have thought? I walk in the door each night, tired. Tired from balancing social life and work, stuck here again in a different atmosphere, listening for a new balance.

Maybe it’s the post-MFA blues. Did anyone ever tell me about this? For two years my only responsibility was to be a writer. Write. Just do it. You’re a student again.

I remember my first year of graduate school, I swung open the doors of the library, lusting. Bursting forth with love and satisfaction that I was a full-time student of poetry. How much can I accomplish, how hard can I work. And wow. I worked. 13 hours a day in a library researching, following whatever paths the library gods gave me. Go home, go for a run and write again. After a year of working post-undergrad, I was set free and licked the spines of books like long lost lovers.

Two years and a full book manuscript later, I am back trying to find balance again. Finding myself having to “work” again in the “real world.” Somehow it feels like falling. But deaths are a good thing. Small deaths, rebirthing something I have yet to see.

Circles. I believe in them. I swear by them. Sometimes they scare me, though. My sister once told me she had a phobia of circles. She just couldn’t look at them. Or she’d count them. I get that. I count things, too. Like steps. Stones. Numbers. A way to control, perhaps, or find signs in the mundane? But circles teach us something. Cycles love to hang on your waist and cling to you, whispering: A time for everything.

So with this in mind, I try to remember what it was like after leaving my undergraduate degree, heading into the 9-5 grind. At first, I was downtrodden. I remember I’d cry driving home from work, get into bed, and sleep. I had no energy for anything. But then I found my groove. Work. Go home. Workout. Go to Borders and self-study. Read poetry. Write. Go to sleep. Repeat. And the words came back to me. And then graduate school happened.

Funny, the joy and enthusiasm with which I wrote might have been even more pure during that year of working full time than before I entered graduate school. I was writing for the joy of it. I wasn’t thinking of workshops or literary journals. I was me, rediscovering the little girl who wrote in journals on rooftops to her angels as the sun set over West Texas.

Circles.

I know I’ll find my groove again. But darkness and fear has a way of overtaking you, especially when you being feeling like you’re a “professional” who needs to be “out there” and “networking.”

But there’s a larger picture in all of this. I think I see it coming.

I walk through the door and fear overtakes me. Why have I shied away from my love? Words. I know I haven’t spent the same amount of time with you, but I’m trying. Fear.

Why have you abandoned me? I ask the ceiling. Not You, but your spirit.

I was having dinner with a friend tonight and she was telling me about how, in just three days, every plan she had set for her life had disintegrated before her eyes. Three days. I kept thinking, the number lover that I am, that three is quiet significant. She said,

I’m just angry.

Our plans, our hopes. They seem, at so many times in our lives, to abandon us. Our words, our creativity, our schedules. Control. Count things. Circle things.

So I began talking about our minds. How we can’t see the larger picture. But something better than we even dreamed is in the works for us, and we don’t even know it. Deaths happen to renew. So interesting that even the disembodied die, too. Things unseen pass away without ever reaching conception. Ideas die.

But how we move through the day, displacing air and currents we can’t see, which reach out to hold another’s hand whom we don’t know.

Something is waiting for us.

Circles.

Can I say I’m being held? That my friend is being held? Yes. Do I always have faith in that? No.

Words. Why have you abandoned me?

I want to say, God, You have abandoned me, too.

But silence. Stillness.

We can’t always be called to action. And our ideas for our life, our dreams, sometimes they do not have our name written on their bodies. Perhaps another idea, another dream, is waiting. New words are waiting.

And it takes us dying to ideas, to schedules, to see that.

Control is an illusion.

Still, I walk into the room in fear. Because the words are not coming, the flow is not there. My time, schedule, life is in upheaval.

I don’t want to be silent or still. I don’t want to wait.

I had a dream last night, and I usually don’t speak of my dreams or attempt to interpret them, but I think this one was rather interesting.

I was getting ready for my wedding. I don’t know anything other than I was running around, trying to find my clothes, my plans, for the wedding, reception, honeymoon. But my mother was no help. She hadn’t planned anything, and neither had I. It was like a shotgun wedding and nothing was prepared. No plans. Nothing. I remember feeling frustrated and sad that I hadn’t taken the time to make it the event it deserved to be.

Interesting. Perhaps the wedding is coming, and I have to trust in that. Wedding could be my next big break, or simply the “conception” and “coming together” of another flow of creative outburst. Who knows. But I think the dream was trying to teach me that I couldn’t have everything and be everything and write everything NOW.

My friend said, You know, after those three days of all my plans for my immediate future just flew out the window, I felt a strange piece. A centeredness. Something inside me said, “Welcome back.”

Deaths bring us closer to what matters.

Personally, I equate my writing with my connection to my spirit, to God. When I’m creatively flowing, I feel close to my source. But sometimes, I get so caught up in the product and in the enjoyment and fulfillment I get from being “used” that I forget the process. The stillness. The waiting.

I’ve recently been reading the Book of Job. I came across this verse:

“Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong. –Job 6:24

And wow. I can’t even begin to fathom how hard that must be. Actually, I think I am beginning to realize it now. Isn’t it hard to be quiet? When we want something, when it comes to our lives, our dreams, what we think we need or want or desire, isn’t it so difficult to wait? To be quiet? Not only that, but “show me where I have been wrong.”

You don’t have to be spiritual to see how this verse applies in the many times in life we have to sit back and reevaluate. When things go wrong, or plans get messed up, isn’t it hard to look at the past, try to see beyond, see the bigger picture and say, OK, this didn’t work out, or this isn’t’ working out. Where have I been wrong? I can be still. I can be silent, and wait.

NO! I want to change things now! I want to know. I want the creativity to come back. I want the job. I want. I need.

“And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.” –Luke 1:80

The above verse is describing Jesus’ childhood, before he became a rabbi, a prophet, what have you.

And I always loved this line. Because I love the idea of going into the desert. Of seclusion. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, and, like I had while in grad school, free time alone to write and meditate seems to be the closest thing to heaven that I could think of. And I want. And I need.

But what if the stillness, the “time in the desert” is without creativity? Without the words? In fact, IN FEAR of words? Would I still want it? Would I still find new ways to grow, to look at the situation and say, OK, what have I been doing wrong?

But most importantly, what is this experience teaching me?

We want what we want when we want it.

How selfish of us.

I was crying last night. Despairing that

a) I haven’t written anything in weeks.

b) I don’t know where my life is headed or what job I’ll have

c) I haven’t had enough alone time

But I realized, what is this time teaching me? What can I be grateful for?

I’ve made new friends. I’ve really connected to some amazing people.

And I’m being held. Whether I want to see it or not, I am being held.

People stop in and support me. Send me links to help me find jobs, apartments, or just to send an encouraging word. I’ve given myself time to make new friends, and converse and help old friends. I’m making and sending new creations in ways I don’t even know, in someone else’s life. The end product I may never see. So I’m not writing. But I’m still creating.

In the car, on my lunch break from work, hungry and lonely for library life, I stole 30 minutes to read some poetry and mystical writing.

Today it was this snippet from “The Essential Kabbalah”

Everything you do is an act of creation, striking the holy sparks. And when you realize this, you’ll see, even the mundane of tasks is serving a holy purpose.

I remember looking down at my feet. Wiggling my toes. Then looking at the pine tree by the parking lot and thinking, I don’t want to do mundane tasks. I want to create art! I don’t want to fear words anymore for lack of coming to me!

But I wiggled my toes. Imagined waves dispersing from them.

Time. You circle. Round my waist. Remind me that there’s a time for everything.

In my car tonight, I listened to one of my favorite songs by Meredith Andrews called, Deeper. I particularly love these lines:

Take me through the desert places

For the chance to see your face and

Take me past the breaking waves

To feel the depth of your embrace.

Now, maybe the “face” and maybe the “embrace” is simply someone’s peace. Or someone’s dream, fulfilled. Their deepest desires and hopes. For me, it is both that and also the feeling of being connected to Spirit. To God. It’s so married to my concept of creativity and feeling creative, feeling used. And yes. I’d go to the desert for that chance. I’d do anything for it. But what if the desert-place is silent. What if it takes a while to be “used” or to see our dreams manifest? Can I still wait? Be silent? Have faith that what the Universe wants for me is even better than what I could conceive? Can I move past the fear, the little deaths, or, more importantly, come to peace and accept them?

And I end with this. A picture a friend of mine snapped on her way to Franklin Park to read her wonderful poetry. (It’s a sign that reads: The Divine Unlimited Sanctuary of God). Kind of funny, She said “It felt like seeing a cosmic metro card swiping down from the sky.”

I saw it and thought:

1) My body

2) Unlimited God-flow

3) Wait. I have that! Access all the time!

I was reminded of the passage I read today in the car. That everything we do, even the mundane tasks, is an act of creation.

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That’s a lonely desert

You have told me nothing is coming to you. That when you wake, it’s as though someone else is home within your body and perhaps you’re somewhere in a loft, counting spider webs, listening to wind and shadowy things.

You write that your mind has left a space you cannot fill, though you try, drugging up snails and bits of words as you walk to the bus stop. I know. And have avoided writing about it, have slept for hours instead of stare into the blank page to answer you, because I, too, am off somewhere counting the geometry of spider webs.

Honestly, I hope that’s where we are, you and I. That our bodies may be in mud, but that we are somewhere higher. Though shadows persist even there, as we count the webs given to us.

When will this lift? You ask. Ask me tomorrow. Today I am wandering, like you.

When was the last time a current came to your door? Perhaps it is coming, but still distant, far off and crying “faith!” I hope.

Because this morning, in the bath, I caught a moment sputtering by, shadowed in a mess of pain. Poor thing, it could hardly walk. It was crawling in the wood paneling, whispering. It was taking it’s own skin and shedding it.

I know what that’s like. The desire to peel away the excess of day, the film of boredom. Self-induced or not, it’s alein. The moment kept circling, crawling, whispering, peeling, bit by bit, its own skin away. Reveal! I said. Go on, let us see what’s under you.

Like when I woke, arm next to me. Wanted to scrape, see if I could get a bit of bone to show through. But flesh is flesh and my mind is off somewhere I cannot reach. Perhaps with you. Perhaps we’re singing and we don’t know it yet.

Don’t you feel a shadow hanging over you? You asked.
Yes.
When I lie down it builds mountains on my chest so I can hardly breathe.

You say you want to fight against the alien inside you. I know.
When you speak, it’s void, when you write, it goes nowhere, reaches no one.

And that’s a lonely desert in which to have no resources, no moon or cactus flower to speak to.

But the current is coming, and whether you drown from its power and never find your body again, or it trickles in, slow and with tenderness, it will come, speak your name, give you back to yourself.

Lie down. Be dead. Still. Tear skin away. Hear minutes unhook their scales.

When will this lift? You ask.

Ask me tomorrow. The shape of things vortex at my door, too. If I go one step nearer to inquire, I might drown. Sometimes the questions feed the shadow. It grows into what looks like starlight, what parades as promise.

And that’s a lonely desert. Thinking your next word will be what saves you.

Lie down, I told myself.
And I tell you this, too. Be still.

The alien inside? Don’t fight it. Let it breathe. Tear skin away in segments. Minutes will unhook their scales and we may never feel real again. This is what it’s like,

daydreaming of cactus flowers to speak to. A moon.

I’ll answer. Step nearer the vortex. Call myself from the loft where I count geometric webs.

Shadow, I answer back.

Wait. A current is coming.

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Random, but again, I’m still learning.

It’s officially April 11th, which makes me happy, simply because I love the number 11. I am supposed to be writing a poem every day for the month of April, and though I spent most afternoon at the gym or in the library trying to wrap my head around Wittgenstein (and failing), I did manage a small, split-pea of a poem.

“Starling, I lit your heart to hear it.

Against my window, your ghost brothers

tell me how to bend, praise her body,

fire-winged, singing.”

I went to a friends house later. Sat and watched things. Felt the way the wood-grain feels on my toes. Left with the wind feeling as though newness was about to arrive. Haven’t felt that way in a long time. Driving, there was a stop in the road. Can’t explain it. Perhaps you know what I mean. Sat at a red light, a tangled feeling rose up. Complex in its body, but solid in its word.

Something about reaching my limit. Limits are good, yes?

Teach me why, or where to go from here, I said.

Not much to it. Just remember this moment. How the wind feels. Perhaps you need a chant, it said.

What chant, I said.

Find it in the bath, it said.

So I took Meister to the bath. Love. I read some sermons and felt the water turn lukewarm.

Here is what I found. Perhaps this is a chant of sorts for this new turn I feel inside.

“Much prayer and fasting, strenuous work and so forth is the greatest folly if a man does not reform his ways but is irritable and restless….Where grace is, and love, things are easy to do….A wise man says, ‘I do not judge of people by the clothes they wear or the good food they eat, but by whether they have love.”

You know, it’s been a mixed Spring. Perhaps caught up in the chaos of daily–things, I haven’t been able to give myself perspective on exactly what is going on with me. I used to be so sure. I used to have a measure, a way of keeping lists. But tonight, yes, a chant, or a looking back.

Right before I read this section, I thought, “am I doing what needs to be done? What am I accomplishing?”

It’s strange to work within a new system of doing. My anxiety diminished so much, that I have no way to check. But here it is. The hard work that had me under its power for so long, the sleepless nights of worry “am I doing enough, writing enough, accomplishing enough” kept me dead.

“Much prayer and fasting, strenuous work and so forth is the greatest folly if a man does not reform his ways but is irritable and restless.”

So, no. Maybe I don’t work as many hours as I did before. Maybe I don’t read the same amount. But the lessons are coming in different ways. Taking time to ask myself if I want to sit in the grass and just lie there. Do I? Yes, please. For a couple hours, do nothing but sit in the sun? Yes. Stillness. Reaching out for love. Has this helped me?

I don’t know. But I think I’m more capable of letting You in.

The wood grain on my feet. How it felt. At an apartment with strangers. New faces. For a second, I thought “I shouldn’t go out. I should stay in. Read.”

But I did go out. And I was greeted with faces of the One who sent me to sing something about Opening.

Lotus pose in the middle of an apartment in Brooklyn. Who would have thought. The movement around me, the smell of laughter. And I was in bliss. Finding I am capable of learning love through faces which, at any moment, could be yours.

Chant: let me not be irritable, or anxious.

But in all things through–

Love.

This post brought to you by the number 11.

I thought, once more before I go, that I’d somehow reach a person through a dream.

Instead I found an old letter they wrote under my pillow. I must have put it there when I wasn’t looking.

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Thanks, Meister

I’ve been reading a lot of Meister Eckhart lately. It started as I scanned the shelves for Christian Mystics in the library, looking for books on “agape” for my Philosophy class. The idea of Love without object versus Eros. And though this will matter when I need to finally write a 20 page paper for Philosophy, it doesn’t matter at THIS MOMENT. Regardless, I found my way to Eckhart’s sermons. He kept skirting me, though. I remember a couple months back I ran into him at Barnes and Noble. And again, at the community library over the summer.

Yes, yes. I know I should give you a look, I thought, but I am busy with Thomas Merton, or particle physics, or Number Theory.

Alright, he said, not to worry. My hands are not tied and I will be back at the right time.

“Monitor yourself,” I thought, after watching the snow pull back from the curb this morning. So much shifting around me and I don’t notice. How the insides are like this, too! My mood a subtle fade or sudden whip.

“But in the darkness, no one asked where I was going, or what I planned on doing.”

Eckhart speaks of our soul or before-we-were-we as a ground of creation.

I imagine a small shoot about to be a flower, stuck in the damp. Dark, not yet known. No one yet sees her, or asks. And she has nothing but nothing. That’s how I feel about the touch stone inside me. And my moods, perhaps, are drifts above the stone. So I’m trying to monitor them. They are not me.

Driving home from a friend’s birthday party, I noticed a shift in mood. Oh dark, when you come, I rarely notice your quiet gift.

What can shake one, not OUT of sadness or low mood, but IN with it, better for it, laughing in it, understood by and for it?

“If the only prayer you said in your entire life was ‘Thank you,’ that would suffice” –Eckhart.

I looked around to the sides of the road, the tractor trailer speeding beside me, the pine trees–maybe a small skunk scuttled by, I don’t know–and I said “Ok. Thank you.”

When praise happens, so does strength.

When death becomes more “real,” that’s when life adds herself upon you a weight. The moments weigh a bit more. The Thank You’s mean, really, Thank you.

Still, Eckhart, I admit I’m learning.

It’s ok, he said.

I’ve come Now, and have been, and will be. As you are, will, to me.

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First Video Blog of 2010

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Schizophrenic Man Play / Reading

My friend, Anto, and I decided to have fun and read what I have so far on my script. 🙂

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Reimann hypothesis, 1,3,7 and: My Cosmos of Consciousness

I have thirty minutes left to sit here, dazed as though under the influence of some drug. Technically, I guess, I am under the influence of what is called 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine. I picked this name of the various tags for caffeine because of the numbers. 1, 3, 7. And to my surprise, 1,3,7 stand, grouped, laughing, colored differently, sometimes male, sometimes female.

I have thirty minutes until Borders Cafe closes and I have to pack up my books, leave, drive home.

In a haze, as a few more people sit, conversing. When I drink latte after latte, the voices become fuzzier, tickle things, grow as if under heat-lamps, little pipe-cleaner legs and carbonate my brain. I feel less lonely wrapped in the voices which I usually cannot distinguish in a crowed, but at least are not my own subjective creation–when I go home, it is simply the cats, a drip of the faucet and my own world of laughter or knot-bodied voices, buzzed in through the door of silence. Sometimes I love them, but sometimes I simply want the no-self to enter. The silence so rare that perhaps only antelope or mountain goats know it intimately, standing off a jagged cliff-side, whipped by God into white-noise.

I’ve read bits of things. Only bits. Not much to claim for the hours. An essay on the Year Million, what might remain. One scientist claims that only laughter and numbers will remain and I, looking around, see a herd of laughter in this one room alone, pre-teens with coffee, sweaters, cell-phones, laughing. Numbers, too. Cris-cross tiles, the corners of books, telling secrets, bumping page numbers and word-counts. In fact, if I stood in the middle of the cafe, waved my hands around, shushed and wiped the floor, all that would stand in my memory of each moment here would be corners of things, indistinguishable laughing.

Among the words I’ve managed to store, a few quotes stick to my shoulder blades.

“Within each of us a cosmos of consciousness unfolds temporarily, a subjective universe develops.” –Thomas Metzinger

Dangerously, stumbling over mismatched mushroom-moments, tangled in our own created-rooms. Just a bit ago, I was reading essays on the Year Million, and a friend of mine popped up in an Instant Message. He wanted to tell me of his travels to Paris. I, of course, grew jealous immediately of his jet-lagged future, luggage-heavy walking, possibly, toward Champ-Elise, imagined myself in his place, gazing up at the Rose Window, twirling myself into Mass, wrapped in a language unfamiliar enough to dazzle and disorient.

No, no. He was going to Paris in his MIND. How? Why?

Friend: To follow up on a lead from 200 years ago”

Me: Explain

Friend: Have to see an old friend.
last time we met was during the revolution.

Me: Ah, I see
To discuss strategies?

Friend: No. To discuss what happened in 1917 after we met and before I went to Ardenne
and died a few weeks later.
It’s been at least 90 years since we last had coffee…lol

Meanwhile, I am trying to wrap my head around Reimann hypothesis and how, perhaps, it relates to Chaos Theory because, out of a garden grow weeds, and though the wind tossed the weeds this way and that, perhaps a pattern emerges, maybe just in their root systems and yet to be known by consciousness of man as we stand above-ground on all things and at most times, save brief moments of mystical or otherwise unquestionable otherness.

(Once, I tumbled off my horse as we ran across a caleche pit, down and through the clumps, her hooves had way with God’s skirt. But then the earth opened up a bit, pulled one of her hocks into the gut and she tripped. As I tumbled, things once upside leaned their heads so far back, the blood-of-the-world got drunk and started singing to me: Shannon! Shannon! Shannon! And in the Shhhh’s, my temples landed, black-and-gold-stringed-sky spilled. When I came to, my horse idly breathing, bridle broken, I thought I saw numbers tied together in the sky, linked in a way that made sense. And for a moment, the world could have ended and I would have been laughing, happy to know the thread-of-things.)

“Within each of us a cosmos of consciousness” and, in a single mind, an untraveled escape for anyone standing at the doorway of another’s experience.

Random moments break in. I am writing, high on caffeine, about numbers and laughter, trying to read at the same time, while interjected by a friend of mine’s discussion about his mental trip to Paris. And who am I to say this trip will not happen, back in time, for him. Consciousness allows us to create fast-tracks to different cities, landscapes, worlds. He is, I presume, sitting somewhere, in front of a computer, possibly drinking a gin and tonic, or a soda. I am in Borders, enjoying a latte, staring off into space. Two points meet, intercept. Numbers created. 1,3,7.

An opossum walks across my mind’s screen, stops, stares, continues on.

My mental-opossum has a snow white face and black eyes and reminds me of an owl. In fact, if I recall my mental-opossum, the association of a great white owl causes a swoop-entrance of the bird above said opossum, and it to scampers. hurriedly hopping along into a mist.

I’m imagining this all while sitting in Borders, trying to concentrate on the Year Million essay on laughter and numbers. What, exactly, is the Reimann hypothesis?

Could I travel now via consciousness, to Paris? Could I bring along my mental opossum and laugh myself into 1,3,7?

This is my cosmic consciousness. A residue-mess of imaginary being, voices, past pain and pleasantries.

“Things that are over do not end. They come inside us, and seek sanctuary in subjectivity. And there they live on, in the consciousness of individuals and communities.” –Leon Wieseltier.

Traveling doesn’t always mean forward in time, but back in time, back into a swirl of moments. Tumbling off my horse that day, perhaps the string of numbers, the threads, were telling me that true reality of the world is never linear, but a spinning.

While standing on a knife-edged present, moment-to-moment, the past and future pitch spoons and forks at us, assailing us with a consciousness that spins, dizzying us to different worlds and selves, selves we thought we left behind.

Driving home from Borders, still jittery from caffeine, an image of me as a younger-me, riding my horse across the dirt that day, tumbling to the ground, landed itself on my chest.

Younger-me sits in the passenger seat, riding boots muddied.

Present-me doesn’t want to look at her and instead, stares in the backseat where future-me sits, dotted and hazy. Is she where she wants to be? Is she happy? I want to focus on her, not the muddy-boots child.

A darkness.

Nothing is ever “closed” to our consciousness. All things permeate even when we don’t realize. And as many voices as a crowd carries, bundled as a bouquet, inside of us, multitudes of selves fight for our attention.

1,3,7. My cosmic consciousness swells, sucks in its belly, swells again.

A darkness.

One moment, a joy not unlike tulips, pushes through.

The next moment, sadness heaves its heavy body toward the door. No one gets through my consciousness but, somehow, we try to translate the selves that seek us.

Just as traveling consciously to other places doesn’t have to be forward or backwards, our moods and selves can spin down, in no particular order, and bring with it mental-opossums and various other creatures.

Driving home from Borders, still jittery from caffeine, younger-me in the passenger seat and future-me in a haze in the back, I think about the various “states” and “selves” I’ve encountered while sitting in my seat, drinking lattes, listening to laughter and counting corners.

1,3,7.

1) at 5:19 PM–

I have two thousand ponies in my ears,
tiny ones; they try to keep
up with my heart, hooves
in rivers of blood and wax

3) at 6:04 PM–

Your kiss, starfish–
all mouth, unafraid–whole
oceans called out and I,
bits of sand, grain,
knew my name again.

7) at 8:45 PM–

How many claws can sadness have?
what can one do when, driving,
the bear breaks through, heavy-
weighted, a chest-pain, bright-sting,
laughing and innocent of the depression he brings?

From the ponies

to the starfish,

and then, the bear breaks through, my consciousness spinning back upon itself.

The Year Million Essay says laughter and numbers may be the only thing that remains.

And, caffeine splitting open anxiousness, I drive into a darkness home, my cosmos traversed by as many selves as seconds, as many voices as mental-opossums and other creatures.

Paris, he says.

And I am jealous, sitting here, counting corners, numbers, high on caffeine and Reimann’s hypothesis.

Tumbling, once, I fell off my horse– the world could have ended and I would have been laughing, happy to know the thread-of-things.

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