some time ago, on a day that i was fighting with my partner, an advertising company that installs billboards took down an anti-abortion billboard that was in the parking lot outside my apartment. i have never wanted to see a Geico ad more in my life. i stared at that billboard every day for the past month. i saw it while i did the dishes, when i cooked, when i arrived and when i left.
i’m glad they got rid of it.
seeing it every day was a death by a thousand cuts. each glance was a small interaction, a forced conversation, and a forced memory. a memory of an abortion. not me, but my partner and i together decided to have one. this was years ago, but i still remember what it was like in that waiting room with a fireplace. it’s an odd thing to have a fireplace in a big city healthcare clinic. but i supposed that was the point; it is supposed to be unassuming and unidentifiable because the same people who put up that billboard will run out with signs and shame people like me and my partner.
i always imagined it was death by a thousand paper cuts. i think it’s because the paper is the smallest yet most painful possible thing one could cut themselves with and therefore would amplify the metaphor. i suppose it could be any sort of cut, physical or none physical. It could be the scalpel of a surgeon. Or a billboard that judges you.
i’m glad they got rid of it.
like a knife, the tiniest text sits on the horizon; it cuts through the middle of the page
||how much more
too much more
so much more
more is less
less is more
more is more
much less more
more or less
the radius is the distance from the center of the circle outwards towards the edge of the circle.
the diameter is the total distance between the outermost edges of the circle going through the center point.
the circumference is the complete distance around the circle.
a tangent is a line that just touches a circle.
a secant is a line that cuts through two points in the circle.
a chord is a line that starts at one edge of the circle and ends at another edge of the circle without going through the center point of the circle.
an arc is a section of the circumference.
a sector is the interior section of a two radial lines connection at two unique locations along the circumference.
a segment is an interior area created by a chord.
and a circle is a round thing that repeats inside of itself over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over. it is the record player on repeat. the program looking for input. the single-celled organism floating around in the primordial ooze. the world spinning and the gravity that that creates.
it’s a lot.
it has a lot in it.
it does a lot.
i am governed by circles, and i must not be the only one. they seem to be more important than any other geometric shape. certainly, we live in square houses and have been building right-angled stuff for a long time (with some exceptions), but circles feel like home somehow.
isn’t the egg the most structurally sound shape? why don’t we live in eggs?
maybe it’s because even chickens don’t live in eggs. they gestate in the shell, but it is not a permanent home. where do chickens live when they don’t live with humans in chicken coops? are they like turkeys roaming the countryside scratching in the dirt looking for bugs?
how many animals live in something? where do elephants live? open-air life? what happens when it rains? i suppose it doesn’t matter. i also suppose it would be a very easy search on the internet to find out. i am at a computer right now. Why don’t i complete the circle and look into it a bit more?
i want to try not to have answers. i want to try to have only questions like a child.
questions and the thoughts that turn into more questions. the plaque that piles up in the brain. can memory be like junk? or like cholesterol? you have a heart attack because your arteries are clogged; can you have a memory attack because you have too many questions?
there is a certain beauty in not knowing, but in a way, it is also death. are we not the sum of our memories? yes, there is genetics, but i am not sure i believe that who you are is who you are going to be. seems fatalistic. plus, you can’t just have genetics.
but what are we without memories? just piles of genes, a lump of reactions, a sack of blood, and a bag of water. without memory, there is no record of life and, in a way, not life. if life isn’t recorded, then it is hard to tell if it is actually there. microbes have memory. they have a genetic memory; they can slice genes and add them to their own genetic code. there is the record. they are alive.
but they don’t remember. if they don’t remember anything, are they still there?
are the lights on but nobody’s home?
||the anniversary of
||your own death
I don’t really cry. Or, more specifically, I can’t seem to cry. I have been working on it; it was part of a multi-year-long process with my therapist, we worked on how I can express my emotions, and it is not easy for me to express sadness in tears. It is easy for me to express frustration and anger in tears. It is easy to suppress it, drop it deep down inside, put it aside, think about it later. I bury when I want to cry, it is an involuntarily physical suppression, a fight to contain the liquid up swell rising up from my core. Like a levy in flood, my throat muscles tense up and stop my emotions and keep them in their place.
I swallow. It’s hard to swallow.
It is a normal swallowing action, the saliva goes down, but the emotions stay at the top. Rising. Building. Boiling. Am I about to let it out?
The brain steps in and stops it. The backup fail-safes have been engaged. Is it logic, or is it the shame? Either way, my brain conjured up something along those lines and sucks the tears in, quick and efficient like a goddamn Dyson.
It is an important thing, I think, to cry. I am told that it is, but I was also told that it wasn’t, that I am not supposed to cry, and that it is a sign of weakness. Not that anyone sat me down and said, “Miles, don’t cry.” But they might as well have; a lot of me believes it. But there is also part of me that doesn’t believe it. I cried when my dad died. When I was in the hospital right beside his purple body. Staring at the shell of a person I loved, this wasn’t my father, though I wished it was. This frame was no more my father than an oak desk is an oak tree. He went through a simple by very important procedure, a transmogrification from life to lifelessness. It’s that shitty thing when “Life” gets a bunch of extra letters and too many s’s. But during that moment, that wasn’t the kind of crying that I am talking about now; that was a wailing. That was sorrow manifested in saltwater and a great mashing of teeth; that was the sound of pain entering into the body.
I cry at Pixar movies, though. Not even at any of the moments that are engineered for crying at, with all the soft and emotional music that underscores a dramatic realization or conflict that will ultimately challenge and grow the main character. No. I cry fifteen minutes into the start of the movie, right when they are introducing the characters. When everything is being set up, there is no conflict, no dramatic music, no long pauses between emotional dialogue. Usually, it’s pretty upbeat, with only mild notes of conflict sprinkled in. Thinking about this, I have subconsciously authorized myself to experience open up, as it were, let the floodgates out. This is now the only time I can have a good cry.
Well, that’s not super great. I can only cry during mass culture products that require thousands upon tens of thousands of people hours and millions stacked on millions of dollars to make? That seems like a costly way to cry.
There has got to be a better way. He says, obviously.
I want to add some facts about tear ducts and what crying signifies in our brain. I am not sure how important those facts are, they may be interesting, but they may be filler. Maybe the word fact can just stand-in for some facts. Just assume that when the word FACT is written that there is some interesting fact, it stands in for. Like for example, matches are more technologically complicated than lighters because the coating on the tip that ignites the match is a complex chemical formula, and lighters are just flint, a wick, and a flammable liquid.
Does that fact even matter? How much do we remember facts? A remembered fact cannot be compared to the memory of the last days spent with a loved one. And, of course, that memory is more important to remember than something about matches. But that is assuming that we only have a finite amount of brain space. Do we? When I was younger, I didn’t believe that we did; I prided myself on remembering everything that my friends said and everything that I said. And because of that, I always made sure I was never contradicting myself or presented myself differently from one group to the next. I want to be as authentically me as I could. Now, I’m not so sure about it. That question of authenticity is definitely a lot more complicated; it is not so cut and dry. Even now, as I am working on myself to help myself cry more, it could be argued that the more authentic version of myself is the self that is the current self, that is the self that doesn’t cry. It is, after all, the self that I have presented to the world for the longest time. As I work on myself more to help facilitate change and growth, the more I develop myself, the more I am “inauthentic.” It does seem that change is inauthentic and stagnation is authentic.
That doesn’t seem right.
That stuff doesn’t mean anything, though. How can someone not be someone? It is the same nonsense that we ascribe to politicians; if they change their position on something, then they are flip-flopping. This doesn’t actually encourage growth; it ensures that public figures remain the same. Nothing is able to remain stagnant, well, almost nothing. Lichen is so good at staying put and staying the same; they can hunker down and live for nine thousand years.
“But don’t be like lichen, change!” I say to myself through the bathroom mirror. Nothing is the same, and everything changes. Isn’t that a pillar of physics or something? I don’t know. I am not a physicist, and I don’t even play one on TV. What happens when we don’t change? What happens when we stay the same?
It’s a dramatic question, but the answer is the same for each question, what happens when we work on ourselves? Nothing. For both questions, nothing happens. I do not intend to be defeatist or nihilist with this, and to be fair; something does happen. It just happens in the short term, though in the long term, nothing happens, and everything stays the same. And I am not talking about the super long term, like DEEP TIME or the time scale that the universe is more familiar with. I’m talking about 50 to 100 years after you’re gone; it’s all going to keep on keeping on the same way it’s been keeping on. All that work that I did or did not do on crying is not going to be very important after I transform from an oak tree to an oak desk.
But deep time is meaningless to a human. It is an organizational concept, thinking thought to help process the past, but it means nothing to the immediate.
We were not paying attention to time before we were born, and we are not paying attention to time after we die.
Time is paralyzing.
Deep time is universe time; there’s so much time in space that it’s incomprehensible. It’s a lot of time to be piled up somewhere, collecting dust. Is time like coal for a steam engine?
It is like how not all ways are straight, but they look straight.
Or how all sentences don’t make sense but sort of make sense.
What if time was a cake, a circle with slices cut out of it. Like a broken record, skipping from line to line.
What if time was a rubber band stretched out as far as it can go, only to snap and compress itself before returning to its original shape.
What if time was a vine, curling, creeping, crawling.
What if time was a monitor constantly refreshing so fast the eye cannot see the change.
What if time was a mirror, reflecting, bouncing, beaming back
What if time was a USB thumb drive? You have got to turn it around 3 times before it can be plugged in.
What if time was a mariachi band at a restaurant? Please don’t come to my table, please don’t come to me.
What if time was a carpet, coating covering silencing.
What if time was a flightless bird watching other birds flying.
What if time was a song on repeat? I’ll probably get sick of that song.
What if time was a set of inherited wrenches, not complete and never the right size.
What if time reaches a point then stops and goes backwards to when it started and stops and then continues forwards again? niaga sdrawrof seunitnoc neht dna spots dna detrats ti nehw ot sdrawkcab seog dna neht tniop a sehcaer emit fi tahW
What if time collects dust.
i pick at my fingernails and cuticles. most times to the point that i make them bleed. my thumbs take the brunt of this nervous energy, and i often have them in bandaids. i spend a lot of money on bandaids. it is a disgusting habit, but i can’t break it. it is always present but shows itself more when i am driving, or in front of a computer anywhere my hands are not are not holding or doing something.
driving, you might say, seems that your hands are very much occupied there. what kind of fancy self-driving car are you driving? i mean, city driving, waiting at stoplights is the perfect amount of time to make my tumb bleed for no reason.
recently i think i have been picking in my sleep. this worried me because it seems to indicate that this habit is so ingrained that my unconscious mind is now making its own fun little hobby.
this section on this page is unfinished, and i am not sure if the concept will make it into the rest of the work.