10 tagged with #navelgazing

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i worry that i get myopic. i thumb through dozens, hundreds, thousands of photographs that are evidence of a life i have lived, and worry about the spaces in between that i have forgotten because i chose not to excise a slice of it to fix in a flat, static object.

sometimes, the photographs dilute the experience. sometimes, they dilute the memory. sometimes, they dilute the sense of being.

but then i think about all of the unphotographed and wonder, how much more has been lost?


i sat on the concrete curb, a small ledge delineating sidewalk from front lawn of the special needs school. the road glowed a silvery overcast sunset tone, and i stared into the dark spaces of densely leafed trees covering lawns and wrought-iron fences on the other side. one of my hands held my phone, flicking a thumb idly while waiting for things to appear in my game.

a man walked up the sidewalk towards me, thick shoes splaying out to exaggerate his uneven stride. his hair was wild, and cigarette smoke trailed behind him. he did not make eye contact with me as he passed, and i found myself stuck between giving him the courtesy of privacy by not taking in his every movement with my gaze, or ignoring him completely by being too engrossed in my phone to acknowledge another human.

the grit of the concrete made my clothes seem conspicuously thin.

24 September 2018 21:32


machines are simple. they take energy and convert it to a specific set of movements. when a machine doesn't work well, trace the parts that are not moving until you find a stiff area, then clean it and adjust it until everything is balanced.

i think about the machines i've given up on, sometimes. a car with a blown transmission, traded to a mechanic in northeast ohio for a wad of cash that bought me a consolation dinner and a few weeks of groceries; a bicycle that bit everyone who tried to handle it, which i made even worse by lowering the fork with a replacement for one that bent in a crash; a motorcycle i took apart and reassembled over and over again and couldn't manage to get a good enough seal in the engine block, so i sold it to a teenager and a parent pair who wanted to learn about machines together.

but sometimes i can extract a brushless motor from a typewriter that an office gave up on because it wouldn't turn on, spray down the shaft with acetone, reoil, and put it all back together and have it hum away.

not everything is this straightforward. i try to simplify other problems, sometimes, and the details i inevitably throw out are the ones that make us human, not machines.

16 April 2018 21:24


it's a restless urge in me, this time of year, every year. i noticed once that a drive to clean, purge, excise, and generally tie off loose ends always hits me between january and february. it's a thing that is signaled by the coming of a new year, often; my mother doesn't understand why i seem to take some chinese traditions as strongly as i do.

i don't have any conscious memories of being taught these habits, but maybe they were impressed on me. maybe it's just a stirring that reaches me when we're partway through the winter, when the other end of year/end of semester/holiday crush settles down, and i realize i was putting off sorting my mail, organizing my finances, restocking the larder.

this year, i made a pass at several boxes i've been dragging around through three, four, five moves; a shoebox full of art supplies, a banker's box full of notebooks, a beer case full of clothes i'll never wear again. i asked an old friend if she wanted to help me use up something i hoarded from our adolescence. i pulled blank sheets from the ends of unfinished notebooks to rebind into fresh notebooks. i threw out dried markers.

and then, in what i thought was an unrelated effort, i started combing through my collected email across the past decade of account updates, freelance, friends lost and gained, travel notes, coursework, rejections, windfalls. how much do i really need to save? what do i lose by refusing to move any of it? i have always kept my inbox as close to empty as possible, but i know that there are phrases i can search for that will instantly give me years' worth of personal history in one glance. do i want that? do i need that?

last year, i realized there was no reason for me to keep a three-inch thick stack of utility bills from several houses prior. it costs physical space to store it, physical energy to move it; it was easy to justify feeding that to the shredder.

i crushed several dozen old CDs of backups onto one microSD card, tucked into an empty film canister that i can sink into my safety deposit box. my safety deposit box is a physical storage location in an institution that is unlikely to go away, but i am unhappy at its monolithic existence and often unsavory business practices. i pay them for the service of holding documents that are incredibly difficult to replace. sure, i want that.

i would feel a very small pang of sadness if everything i owned was destroyed in a sudden disaster. i would not mourn for too long.

the year of the dog is coming. i like dogs.

10 February 2018 21:11

good morning

maybe i should stop trying to set a title every day. but the title gives me some sense that these days are all different, a notion that becomes more important to me as time goes on.

as if i need more help every day to distinguish one day from another.

this isn't a problem i thought i'd have, but maybe it's a problem everyone eventually finds. my days are packed, my months ahead are packed, and sometimes i forget to live the moment i've planned, or just the moment.

what are you so afraid of?, i ask myself every day. what are you so afraid of?

02 May 2016 07:18


I've developed a stock response to people because I know there are questions they want to be asked so that they are given an opportunity to talk about something they need to say out loud, yet I have no interest in hearing. I promised myself a long time ago that I'd never be one of these people. I haven't yet decided if it's better not to do it or if it's better to ignore people.

05 May 2014 21:18

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