why does it feel like my brain is pedaling just as hard

The only reason people like to say “Only God can judge me” is because no human being can authoritatively say by what scales and metrics God evaluates. If there were, then society would have upheaved itself in disbelief already.

I’ve gotten into the habit of doing twenty kilometers a day on a stationary bike my mom stopped using some time ago. The beauty of numbers and numerical systems, we are reminded as we hit the eleventh kilometer, is that they are infinitely expandable and compressible: 11/20, while expandable to the near-gobbledygook that is 10864197531/ 19753086420, just as easily becomes 5.5/10, ten being a nice, easy, stable number, even though its limited divisibility means that it’s unfortunately ignored for the practicalities of pizza slices and egg trays. Numbers are more malleable than people give them credit for: there is always a digit at the rightmost, nestled between two demarcations, if you look closely enough; and there is always space to put a mark in between two others, consequently to add a digit where there was once space only thought of to be empty.

To attempt to build cardiovascular endurance as I pedal–a trait that, coupled with the tendency for my body to heat up very quickly, has been my Achilles heel when competing against myself–I copy the breath-patterns suggested for sleep. The rhythm takes on the time signature of a jazz piece: four inhaling, seven holding, eight exhaling, with something in the irregularity of the conscious effort sending the brain into a relaxed state. I stare at the tracker as I count, and find that every one of these breaths translates into a good 0.08 kilometers. Two hundred and fifty of these, and I’m good.

This heady respiration, coupled with the similar breath/breadth of numbers, is a thought that comforts the knees, which start to groan once we start getting to 18/20 (which can go by 17777777778/19753086420, 9/10, even 4.5/5): the knowledge of how you “far” you are from your “destination”, how long you have to keep huffing at kinesis to get at your routine, this bourgeois approximation of that satisfaction that comes with the idea that one’s physical exhaustion has brought something tangible, physically measurable into reality.

Similarly discomforting, though, is the thought of the rest of the day spent off the bike: no less stationary, but this time without any unit of measure, without any end to reference, thus infinitely expandable into a cosmos’ worth of equal parts doubt and existential horror. What more when you throw in whatever metric you have to evaluate yourself, to at least see if what you’ve gone through can even moderately be called a success, with every step short–measurable or not–being no less than failure at this uncertain stretch of time, this life.

The tracker now reads twenty kilometers. I stop and get off, legs and brain aching.

one and a half hours past dead

Honestly, I don’t know what it is with me and second revisions. It’s always the second revisions that take the longest to start flowing, as if everything exhausted itself in the first.
 
I gave myself a three-day deadline, all of which I’ve spent staring at greenery, doing quick workouts to get myself sweating, playing with the dogs around here, and trying to help educate whomever I can about with what little I know about law and mental health. It’s satisfying when things do work out: people learn that they have what it takes to be critical, and what it takes to believe enough in yourself, as well as in others, to keep going.
 
But all this, as the realization comes too late, takes a lot out of me, makes me tired. This copy won’t write itself, and I’m already useless enough for not being able to put food on the proverbial table. It’s that romantic masochism people love to associate with writers and other craftsmen: passion as sustenance, bleeding the craft in swirling marbled patterns onto reality. But it’s the opposite of romance, the writer curled up in his own world, pale from his own exhaustion, surrounded by monsters of his own creation.
 
I’m so, so goddamned tired tonight, but it’s my fault this can’t wait until tomorrow.

misericordiam ad nauseam

A boy and his dad enter the van, squeezing themselves into spaces that in theory would house two bodies comfortably, but never really do in practice.

It is a familiar conversation. Boy asks if dad saw his phone charger. Dad says he took it and used it. Boy says that dad can’t just take things just because they’re lying around. Dad says he needed it, which was why he took it, and it was lying around anyway. Boy meekly–grasping for that pussyfooting but sufficiently direct argument–tries to claim that he has a “right” over his stuff. Dad laughs–“rights”? You? What nonsense!–and tells boy that you have no rights over your stuff, none of that is your stuff, try talking about “rights” again when you’ve worked up the money to buy your own stuff.

At this point, it becomes all too familiar, and I am surrounded by eggshells and a hundred Damocleses, all of which I, at that moment, desired nothing more than to take down, one by one, to stab in his face, which has become that which I have spent the better part of a decade on hating.

I

Aye, it is dreadful
To dream of saltwater
Whilst surrounded by concrete,
Consequence of pursuit
Of parchment, believing
This banal search is
Secret to success in society.

Aye, it is disastrous
That dignity, negotiated
With narcissists, turns
Tepid, hinged on
Hamstrung destinies,
That dreams are made
To matter upon wizened
Winds, clouding
Cataracts, fears of
Fading faraway futures.

maybe not cathartic enough, but I hope it’s good enough

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May everyone find the kind of comfort you always find in ice cream.

Either you’re already asleep, or my last few weeks’ of insomnia has been contagious.

I did nothing today, so I promised myself I’d do something tonight. Writing comes a little harder than usual these days, but it’s a special day, though regrettably, I am not around to help make it all the more special for you.

It’s this distance. This distance that, for years, we’ve tried to compensate for: voices that try to talk about the day (for what it’s worth on my part, as I doubt anything can be more exciting than listening to someone talk about how they’re only halfway through the taxation law coverage), pictures of the food, of the cats and dogs. My God, the cats and dogs. Enough cats and dogs to turn anyone into a blubbering “doggo doin a boop catto doin a mlem” of a person (who minds, though).

But of course, we keep at it, this routine: sometimes infinitesimal in what changed within a given day, sometimes going on random shenanigans just to shake off those emotional cobwebs that drudgery tends to leave to gather dust over several weeks. A movie there, a buffet there, retail therapy, therapy sessions, baking a batch for spreading joy and shaking off others’ cobwebs.

And (perhaps the most importantly), we grow. I’ve always had this notion that I never wanted someone which my world would turn around, a sun in the system; rather, I wanted someone who would sit with me and watch the world turn, a fellow planet. Circumstances have forced us apart, but I feel like the fortunate consequence of all this is all the space we have: to pull our own moons together, to orbit along our paths of least resistance. Progress, while a straight line, isn’t prevented from also having its cycles anyway.

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll grow so big that not even this distance will keep us apart. Or at least, we’ll have grown enough (and this I see whenever we have our precious alignments) to make gravity pull us towards each other, eudaimonae who are whole apart but fuller than whole together, rather than incomplete when apart and wholly dependent on the other’s light just for life to exist on their skin.

Until then, let’s keep growing, but work off the carbs and sugar every once in a while.

I love you, dear. Happy Birthday.

black vest

I wear a black vest
You can’t see, but it’s there
It’s got weight on the chest
But its shoulders are bare

It’s odd that it’s heavy
Though there’s nothing inside
Just a spot where little
Dark things like to hide

Even when I feel light
It’s always around
Waiting, just waiting
To drag my chest down

When those times, they come
Things get really rough
I stay in bed all day
‘Cause I can’t get up

The dark things pile on
Like used, dirty clothes
It gets hard to breathe
Under such a big load

Sometimes it’s so heavy
That I want nothing more
Than to fall, feel weightless
From a thirty-ninth floor

Or when I am walking
Or crossing the street
I think that getting hit
By a car would be neat

When these moments come
I have to tell myself
To just keep on breathing
And give myself some help

And so I will struggle
To get out of bed
Just to keep the dark things
From hitting my head

I go for a walk
Surround myself with green
Eat my favorite food
And then go for ice cream

I call up some friends
Both old ones and new
To join me for lunch
Sometimes, dinner too

I listen to music
Or read a good book
Anything to shake
The dark things from their nook

The doctor told me that
The dark things make me sick
She gives me medicine
Sometimes it does the trick

But when they pile again
I just have to say
That I can live through this
For another day

I don’t think the dark things
Will ever leave, you see
I just have to live
With them around me

And I just have to say
That I’m stronger than them
And do my very best
Until the very end

I wear a black vest
You can’t see, but it’s there
It’s got weight on the chest
But its shoulders are bare

It’s odd that it’s heavy
Though there’s nothing inside
Just a spot where little
Dark things like to hide

l’esprit de sombre escalier

People think trigger warnings are effective disclaimers, when all they do is make some all the more curious as to whether they see the same darkness as the artist does: gazing into a Nietzchean abyss that gazes back, until it’s Musashi’s void inside you, but without having mastered anything. Sharing darkness is, after all, forbidden fruit which has to be hidden from the bright gaze of the social God, lest one be cast on the goat hand even before judgment day.