Tag Archives: train of thought

Let’s turn doing almost nothing into something to talk about.

I’m exploring my options by doing almost nothing for once. Or at least, I’m not driving to an office and sitting in between the office walls and letting fluorescent lights beam down into my eyes every day. I’m not plagued by constant dull headaches. I’m not sitting at a desk this summer.

Instead, I’ve elected to float below the surface, not quite staying afloat but also not sinking. I’m not hiding, I’m here, I’m just peering up through the surface.

The summer has developed a soupy consistency, all days are equally hot and humid. The air is moist and clings to the skin. From above, it weighs down on our brows and sends beads of sweat dripping down the backs of our necks. This summer, we are living in a fishbowl.

There’s no air conditioning in the car, so it’s a hot and heavy and necessary death trap. To travel anywhere in this vehicle is to volunteer to smother a warm pillow over our face. When the windows are rolled down all the way, the air whips by fast enough that there is some cooling effect. But this city is a knot of traffic, and most of the time spent in the car is baking into the cloth seats, oppressive clouds of air wafting in through the windows and hanging under the roof of the car. What an amazing machine, it can take us anywhere on this continent, we certainly could find the money to feed it gas, but surely it will kill us, or burst into flames. Touching the dashboard burns our fingers. Do not touch the seatbelts

But I don’t have the car this summer during the day. So this isn’t a transportation option for me in this time frame. I live in a cave, luckily, on the top floor of an apartment building built into a hill. The apartment is small, condensed, and the large windows in the back of the main living room open up to the trees sloping upward, blocking us from the view of the other apartments on the top of the hill. In order to fight the beating, violent heat from the other large windows facing out to the bare blue sky, I covered them with a vivid green tapestry with flowers and leaves curling around all throughout the design. During the day, the sun struggles to beam through these designs, illuminating the room in a light yellowish green.

I lock the door. I slide the golden chain into place. The other apartments are empty now, the fools in the office raised rent and no one wants them, and I can hear maintenance men clopping around in the building.

Most importantly, the old air conditioner runs all day long, swathed in the green tapestry and constantly filling the small space with a nice refreshing chill and droning hum. Since I’m well-aware this is racking up the electric bill, I keep all the other lights in the apartment off and the bedroom and bathroom door shut. The dark apartment, with light beaming in through the tapestry and the air cool, make the place feel like a cave.

We are living in a cave in a fishbowl this summer.

The days are so long that even when I wake up at 5:30AM there is light in the window. I’ve been sliding out of bed and we drink coffee in the morning, sitting in the same spots every day with our mugs, blessing the universe for routine, beautiful routine, gorgeous and amazing routine. Feeling scheduled brings us together, we can drag our bodies to where we know we are meant to be and put as little effort into our existence as possible. We can both buzz side by side, aware of each other, which is all we really need.

I just can’t stay in this cave forever. I need to escape occasionally and remember the world. In the middle of July, we slung some backpacks into the death box and drove up to New York for the weekend. We drove later at night, to escape some of the heat, at least. The sun was setting and the thick air composed a vibrant purple and pink sky, clouds stretching from the horizon and reaching for the center of the sky. In New York, we slept on several couches in cool apartments swathed with curtains.

We drove to the beach, walking through the molten sand dunes, heat radiating through us from all sides. The sand was clean and glimmering gold though. We fanned out the towels and lay down on a flat stretch, playing with the rocks and piling the sand up onto our bodies. The water was a blend of cool and warm, and we bounced along the sliding sand bars until we were far into the lake and everything looked small except the consistent endless blue above us.

We rolled a joint and walked back into the woods, where there was a wide creek and dunes so tall you could sit on the peak under a tree and stare straight down into the water, a solid emerald green. The emerald was so brilliant it almost seems strange, I asked, how can the water be this green? Chugging beers and passing the joint, we stood in the cold sand under the trees, a breeze teasing through the branches and through our wet hair.

But we had to return to the cave. The cave is our home. I crawled back into the icy reaches of our little apartment at the bottom of the hill, at the bottom of the fishbowl.

I’ve been working online. Pattering away at the keyboard at record speeds, selling products and making listicles for small fees, focusing on word count for hours and hours on end, playlists looping in the background and the brilliance of day trying to reach through the tapestry.

When the cool air of the apartment dries my sinuses and makes me pace, I make a cup of tea and turn on some resonant ambient music that floods the apartment. All this time, all this down time, allows me to toss over brittle old questions, prod them from a detached and neutral point of view. Where does my depression come from? What about my anxiety? I’m neurotypical, prone to anxiety, and when I fail to control it, which happens, my stress levels rise and perhaps there’s an autoimmune response. Perhaps when I’m clinging to the floor and imagining crushing my head under a cement block, it’s symptomatic of an illness, my poor lethargic body attacked by stress and my immune system doing only what it knows best and kicking into gear so hard that it leaves me a sick dog crawling on the floor.

Maybe my brain is inflamed.

I toss this question around under the ambient sounds and the buzz of the air conditioner until my mind is blank. After hours of taking huge purposeful breaths, I become empty and whole simultaneously. I am okay. This uneventful alone time involves me sharpening my knives, to fend off bad thoughts in the future. I am equipping myself to help myself. It may appear like I am doing nothing, but my mind is never inactive.

In fact, my mind has developed its own insistent little non-sensible tune about how this city is evil. Realistically I know positive framing will do me better than giving into weird fancies, and I tell myself that just because this city is squished into the hills with blankets of heat slapped over it, and even though it takes hours to even leave the evil circumference surrounding the rivers, this city cannot be evil.

There’s really no such thing.

I am safe inside a cave inside a fishbowl. I don’t need to properly emerge until September.


When I was in high school my mom woke me up every morning by screaming up the stairs, in her soul-slicing maternal voice, “REBECCA, IT’S TIME TO GET UP.” She did this every school day, for an approximate total of four years. There came a morning when I jolted awake and realized that there was something to this repetitive dedication, this drive to walk to the bottom of the stairs at a specific time and holler at her daughter to start her day. She probably got tired of it, but she never stopped. And I would ignore her as much as possible. She would yell my name several times, her voice cracking. I listened to this so many times, curled up in my green blanket, my face buried into my pillow. To this day I can hear her cracking voice easily, yelling at me to get up. The same lilt to her voice every time, the same emphasis, burned into my brain forever.

This is not a microcosm for any circumstances in my overall life. I’m simply expressing two things here: my admiration of my mom’s dogged dedication to making sure I began my day, every day, and the lasting bitter, stubborn dislike of loud forces ushering me forward into the event horizon which shares such a similar feeling with that yelling. Also, the recognition that the pressure has always been on, and it’s always involved a lack of sleep and a big scary day ahead. I think to when I thought this wasn’t going to be eternal, but now I have my iPhone’s alarm clock, almost every single morning, bleeping at me to move. I groan, I force myself up on shaky arms and whack my head on a big floating slab of dread. The Daily Dread. There is always something to worry about, something in the near future that exudes unpleasantness.

I wonder if my mother had experienced this consistently when she was younger. I don’t recall her working very much, she was a stay at home mom. Despite this, she woke up every day at 4AM and made herself a cup of orange pekoe tea. Mother, what drove you to this madness? She didn’t have to wake up for anything, she just did because that’s what she wanted. I used to sneak down and sit on the stairs and peek down at her to see what she was doing. She sat at the kitchen table, all by herself, staring off into nothing, drinking her tea. Imagine the scene: a little girl, sitting silent and immobile on some steps, staring down at her mother staring at the wall.

I wake up early in the morning not because I want to, but because I have an aspiration. This dream has been dragging me along for quite some time, and I’m pretty much a body in a bag, my skin getting all scraped up. But the dream keeps dragging me along, and I look up at it (or imagine it when my face is buried in my pillow), and it’s so big and shiny. I want it. Damn it.

The aspiration is sort of a foggy, obscure, blurry big shiny blob though.

Okay, and maybe I am comparing this to my mother’s compulsion to force me into activity daily with her screeching voice, so it’s like a metaphor, I guess, actually. There’s some microscopic connection that makes my brain hurt (or shrink into some corner of my skull). But I also love my mother and love this memory of being hateful and put off. Like I remember fondly how much she annoyed me.

I look back fondly at my achievements, paltry as they may be. Boring as they may be, too. That does happen.

I have yet to figure out whether dragging my exhausted body forward is a good thing. I did get all A’s in high school. However, my mother didn’t give a shit about my grades.


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