Thursday, October 7, 2010


group therapy. a nice change of pace. in the most confidential way, I can tell you that we sit in the room, less than ten of us, and talk about things mundane and things not so mundane. I feel humbled when I leave the room, and I feel like I want to say so many things to the people inside the room that I don't say. like, e-, you're not even remotely fat, tell your boyfriend to fuck himself, let's get coffee some time, even though I don't drink coffee, because you seem pretty cool, in an i could be friends with you outside of group therapy type of way. it's weird though, group therapy etiquette. inside the confines of the room, in the space of eighty short minutes, we can share our deepest neurotic tendencies. outside of this room and the eighty minutes, we must forge a weird strangerdom for the sake of respecting each others' privacy. in the waiting room I have to pretend i'm not picturing the boy flipping through the sports illustrated magazine being asked for sex advice by his mom who is cheating on his dad, i'm not envisioning the girl with the green backpack ten years ago being told boys will be boys and at the same time feeling a deep need to tell her I heard the same thing once. even immediately after therapy, it's weird interacting with these people. once the threshold of the therapy room door is crossed, I don't even know how to go about holding the door for these people, I don't even know how to encounter them in the bathroom. refusing to acknowledge that we know each other is a lie, and casually acknowledging that we know each other only feels like a half-truth.

the particular day that i'm writing about was really nice from the get-go, even though I forgot to ask if anyone found the soft red and new gloves I left behind the week before. i swiveled from left to right in the teal swivel chair, and when n- said h-, can you start us off with something from your week?? I found myself talking about going home, about not having a home to go home to. I’d tried it the week before, and I’d have to do it this summer for the first time in three summers, and I was worried about this, I said. then I burst into tears for the first time in many months and said I was embarrassed because I don’t really ever cry. after that everyone acted really nice to me but I wasn’t really that sad anymore, in fact I felt pretty good, but I had to kind of act sad because I’d spontaneously cried and given the impression that I’d had a bad week. this is one thing about group therapy I dislike: sometimes if your week is just all around good, you have to unearth things that you normally don’t get hung up on just to start the group off on an introspective note. m- went on to talk about a text message that a boy she liked never replied to, and e- said her boyfriend came through her window drunk last night and vomited on her at two am, and then she had to give him a sponge bath and wash her sheets. i feel persistent hostility towards her anonymous boyfriend. we all agreed she could do better, but only after we laughed at the absurdity of the situation and then apologized for doing so. m- said she thinks she doesn’t have enough problems to be in the group, and she feels like she talks about trivial things in comparison with the rest of us. I often look at m’s bone structure and think she’s beautiful. we talk about how we’re not competing or ranking our issues, and then f- asks us why we like to come to group therapy, what do we get out of it, and how do we want people to respond to us? everyone is silent for a while and then e- says: “sometimes it’s nice if people just respond with silence, instead of trying to console you or relate the conversation back to themselves. sometimes silence is nice.” a time when I should have been silent: p- and I were laying on a mattress on the floor, his hamster making dying noises behind us, his eyes bloodshot to hell, when he mentioned his dad to me for the first time. memory: his dad had wanted to see how much tylenol a cat could consume before dying, so he administered a gradual dose, observing the signs of gradual death in p’s cat until p's cat became drowsy with death and died of an overdose.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


at work this morning mike the 'token half-retard' was teased by tyrone about the fact that he’s never had a girlfriend (i've been told he's in his thirties), although he comes in all the time and tells us about biker babes he’s dating. no one believes him for some reason. but one day he came in and said his biker babe girlfriend's dad told him he couldn't see his daughter anymore, and this plot thickening seemed oddly creative and maybe true after all. we asked him why her dad didn't approve of the relationship, and he said, "i don't know. i think it's because i'm canadian." we told him that his biker babe girlfriend was a loser and so was her dad.
but back to the story. he protested that he’s had girlfriends, and tyrone said blow up dolls don’t count as girlfriends. tyrone is missing his two front teeth. he grabbed R- and another lady as examples of “what a real woman looks like.” I was not one of the examples, and it was infinitely better that way. I laughed. that tyrone, I thought. he’s full of shit. then I skipped my second class to make stirfry. I found a perfectly good hat on the ground. most of the hats I own have been found on the ground. it is abnormally warm out.

i did go to my first class: smooth sailing. my French pronunciation is getting better. I took the tunnel between herter and Bartlett, and upon entering Bartlett I bypassed the boiler room, or some other room where maintenance work is done, apparently, because there was a paper on the door that just said this:


that put a slight damper on things. I pictured poor Jim Schafer venturing into the bowels of Bartlett to do some shitty maintenance job and being met with this cold (and yet oddly poetic) note. mostly I pictured jim schafer needing more clarity.

I went downtown to get some toothpaste and pick up a prescription. I waited in the small designated wait area while there was some issue with my insurance. homeless bill murray was sitting two seats next to me, and he was eating peanuts and throwing the shells into the seat between us. he was drinking orange juice too. when he finished his orange juice he got up, walked over to the drinks and got a new one. he didn’t pay for it. I was wondering how cvs permitted him to do this, but then he got up, cleaned off the peanut shell chair, and went over to the pharmacy counter to pick up the entire stock of travel sized tissue packets that a young girl wearing a umass sweatshirt had knocked onto the floor when she swung her coach bag onto the small red counter. i specify that it was a coach bag because this makes the accident and its inconvenience to homeless bill murray infinitely more deplorable. the pharmacy technician thanked him by name, and I realized that homeless bill murray was an undercover cvs employee, paid under the table with peanuts and orange juice. when he had collected all the tissue packets, he rose from the floor with some difficulty, only to have the box slip from his grip. the tissues were all over the floor again. I was going to help him pick them up but I read a pamphlet on type two diabetes instead. in retrospect, it was not the right thing to do. there was a photograph of a woman and a man on a dock on the cover, their legs dangling in the water. they were holding lemonades and smiling, and their party barge, which they were free to enjoy since their diabetes was under control, was parked next to them. then I read a pamphlet called “teens & couch medicine abuse.” there was an adolescent girl on the cover with long, straight, dark hair, and heavy black eyeliner. she looked like she just didn’t care. she was robo-tripping. inside the pamphlet I learned how to detect whether my teen is abusing cough syrup recreationally. symptoms of excessive robotripping include apathy and decreased performance in school. i felt cheated. i was apathetic about school and i wasn't robotripping. homeless bill murray picked up the tissues, with success this time, and then returned to his seat to resume shucking peanut shells. my insurance issue was unresolved, and I was told to come back tomorrow. on my way out, I passed by a stack of one subject notebooks on a shelf. a yellow tag hanging from the shelf read: ONE SUBJECT NOTEBOOKS 4.49 WOW!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


hey there
i'm doing well. i had a kidney transplant in june. i'm just living with my mom in carver and looking for a part time job, waiting to go back to school for my last semester in january. kinda bored. really bored. just watched fargo on netflix. matt thought frances mcdormand was a babe. he was right. I would like to play more basketball but am intimidated by the kids who hang out by the hoops, the court. how the heck have you been? are you still living in marshfield? I’m just waiting for thanksgiving, really. tonight my mom said “I have a surprise for dinner,” and the surprise was that she bought lobster. this is terrible timing because I’ve been sentimental about some things lately, including the rights and feelings of lobsters, which may have been triggered by reading david foster wallace’s ‘consider the lobster’ essay. but tonight i was also sentimental about being nice to my mom because i really surprised myself by saying 'fuck you' to her today because she smoked in the house, so i obliged and ate some of the lobster, was sorry i couldn't be more enthusiastic for her like she'd expected because she never has the means to get anyone anything. the lobster meat in the claws was really underwhelming in quantity, very flimsy. my mom said she must have bought retarded lobsters. this seems really unfair, to blame the lobsters, so I gave my mom the tail meat and rinsed the butter dish and felt my eyes water at the sink. yeah, I don’t know what my problem is. man, it’s been a long time. you used to have a chalkboard wall behind your bed, and my number was on it. your dad had a huge moustache. in the ninth grade you told all our friends that my boobs were uneven; you made a song about it in the hallway at school and then B and i wrote a nasty poem about you and put it on my old website and you cried. mountains have been visiting me in my dreams lately, big misty ones. sample from notebook:

dreamt about driving up and through enormous mountains. my cats were lined up at the base.

second dream this week about huge mountains in strange unfamiliar places, absolutely breathtaking scenery. mist and sunlight through trees. L is there and I’m yelling to him to get in the basement, the shockwave is coming because he pressed the red button, and I heard the telltale explosion in a distant Swedish village at the base of the mountain. he won’t come to the basement and in the small rectangular basement window I see the trees submit to the shockwave, bowing suddenly and recovering slowly. a small shockwave, though, because L is okay and we find ourselves trying to reassemble/revive S’s mother, who is a pile of strangely arranged toothpicks in the fridge. the feeling is that she was a whole person/mother in the fridge, but when she froze to death she became the toothpick structure. i'm trying to tell L i admire his curiosity but i can't say it for some reason.

third dream. I’m excited to be going up this mountain. I’m going on vacation with A. other people are waiting to get to the other side, too. some kind of vacation exodus. I’m nervous because once we’re on the other side, there’s nothing there. no stores, no hospitals, just mountain. there’s one house I’m looking at, to the side of me. it’s a small house and there’s something colorful about it, something I remember liking intensely. the way to get up the mountain is in a steel cage held by three strings. you’re raised up in it. the mountain is like a sky scraper suddenly. suddenly I don’t want to do this, it doesn’t seem safe. A is saying he’s not scared at all and he trusts the steel cage held by three strings. we also have the option to climb up the side of the mountain with ropes. this dream feels like an easy candidate for dream dictionary interpretations.

-end notebook sample- today I took an informal inventory of my mom’s medication and ate the dark chocolate at her bedside. the water was shut off today, well work or something. I found some papers by the bed, a big stack of them, from bible study. fill in the blanks (italicized). weirdest shit:

"We were put on this earth to enjoy Jesus’ love, and to manage all his other creations."

I hope you’ve been doing well all these years. what have you been up to? take care.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


few things are like having your mom see, in the backseat of your car, the HE COMES NEXT book (with a subtle unpeeled banana on the front, papaya in the background) your old roommate sent you home with. this in itself only becomes awkward when it’s not acknowledged, like most things, and it would seem that my mom doesn’t like to acknowledge lots of things, so I said cheerfully, “did you see my book? ha ha,” and then we went inside and onto our separate computers. later in the day she stood in my doorway while I tooled around on an acoustic guitar, and she said that I am drawn to the guitar “like a duck is drawn to water,” which seems like an exaggeration. I told her her relationship with art/painting used to be duck-to-water, years ago, and she said that she can’t get inspired when she’s financially insecure, and then i said that this was too bad.

today I went for a walk and got accosted by a terrier that was about the size of a foot. I also flipped through my most current notebook and found some things I don’t remember writing or I don’t remember why I wrote them, and many of these things have times written next to them. here’s a few examples:

4:30am: abominable seahorse. drumstick=eardrum

*8/24/10 4am ish: dream premise neighborhood woman is drug dealer to parent users who won’t testify against her (obv) for molesting their children. she dismantles fire alarms for poor people in the neighborhood who can’t afford batteries (they beep constantly if they need new batteries / are hard to dismantle since they’re wired into wall). dark comedy?

2:57am: I get fuckin’ surround sound & widescreen

8/10: can’t sleep, sounds like there’s TVs all around me

9/10: go to bed hilary, the sound in your head is a lullaby from benevolent receptors who really do wish you all the best. why, thank you, benevolent receptors (and then I practice the cursive H a dozen times)

*(this dream/entry makes partial sense since there is a malfunctioning fire alarm adjacent to my bedroom door that sometimes beeps, and almost always beeps when we run the dryer)

I think/hope everybody with a notebook has things like this (minus pervasive insomnia) and these might be the most non deliberate or honest and interesting parts of notebooks. I think trading notebooks is maybe the most intimate thing you can do, and I don’t know that I’d ever do it. my favorite is abominable seahorse, which makes me think of abdominal seahorse, which makes me want to have a band called abdominal seahorse.

Friday, September 24, 2010


i had to speculate about the inevitability of the fall of capitalism for a few hours. THEN, my cat started snoring on my piano, which i haven't touched in weeks, but i didn't know it was my cat so it frightened me. if i think about how many bowls of sugar smacks i had today, a conservative estimate would be six.

5 comes tomorrow. is 4.5 cheating?

Thursday, September 23, 2010


" 25 – 30% of the average adult life is spent with television

20% of your life is spent at work or school

30% of your life is spent asleep


…which leaves: 20 – 25% of your time for YOU, for the other activities that matter to you… "

Thursday, September 9, 2010


“I was watching this stupid program on PBS about evolution. this guy was talking about how we used to be apes, and how we’ll never know why, at some point, we decided to walk on two feet, and it was just so stupid.”
“well we didn’t decide to walk on two feet, I’m sure he didn’t say that…”
“no, he did. it’s like, come on. why can’t people just accept that we were never apes, and that god created humans? it’s so stupid.”
“I can’t talk about this with you.”

at this point she gets up and goes back to her room and continues her bible reading. and just an hour ago:

“they said on the news two asteroids passed between earth and the moon today. one of them was less than fifty thousand miles away.”
she just smiles and says, “god knows what he’s doing.” this smugness makes me strangely furious, probably because the asteroid news bothers and scares me. if only I, too, felt the protective love of a vindictive god who wants to subtlety threaten and frighten everyone else. maybe then I could rest easy with the faith that I’m not implicated in his plan for mass annihilation, since I’ll be taken up in the rapture before the shit hits the fan (yes, this is what she believes).

I am continually amazed at and suspicious of anyone who can be so sure of anything that purports to explain the origins or fate of the world or universe. what a terrible sentence. one of the main arguments against agnosticism is that it contradicts itself. in acknowledging that one couldn’t possibly be sure (of the existence of a higher power), one is necessarily sure that they are, and will continue to be, unsure. this reminds me of conservatives who argue that liberals are more closed minded, because they get offended by offensive free speech, hence bumper stickers that say things like “it’s not tolerant to tolerate intolerance” etc. I don’t think I’ll ever see a bumper sticker that says “certainty of uncertainty is not uncertainty.” the root of the problem is different ideas of what it means to be tolerant, and what it means to be certain of something. I wonder if these different ideas can really be helped at a certain point. anyway, I’m a lousy agnostic and I hate semantics so I’ll stop here.

today I got lost in the ghetto in Brockton on my way to an ear doctor appointment. my left ear does not hear as well as my right ear, but that still doesn’t explain a whole host of symptoms I’ve been having. for the hearing test they put you in a sound proof room, put the headphones on, you raise your hand when you hear anything in either ear. there was a different test where the woman on the other side of the glass told me to repeat the words she said, and for almost five whole minutes we did this:

and so on and so forth for what felt like a long time, and it was almost like some weird tension was building, like every word had a new urgency, and I could feel myself getting progressively sadder. I was very hungry and very stressed out after having been lost in the ghetto for close to half an hour, on the phone with a hospital operator who was helping me navigate with the help of google maps. man, fuck Brockton. and all of its deceiving lane changes and one way streets. I left that place in a pretty bad mood.

a good way to feel good about the world again if you’re feeling not so good about it is to notice all the people in vehicles that drive by you without crashing into your car. something about this mass cooperation is really benevolent and soothing to me. then on 495 there was a double rainbow over the highway.

I still maintain that saves the day’s I’m sorry I’m leaving album is great, and I think I’ll look up some tabs.

24 hours later: my hands are too small to play some of these chords. I went out to dinner with my dad and he said: “I am, therefore I must be.”

Thursday, September 2, 2010


to the world for whom I wash my hair at all,
mom is celebrating the hurricane with six beers,
lamenting humidity, and if she could fake a memory
it would be accepting that date proposal
from the future owner of Kellogg’s
(when she worked on the ship in the 70’s).

that never happened and instead there are fingernails
on battery receipts in my wire trash can,
airbrushed cats on cans of cat food.

there is nothing wrong with humidity
but that’s not the point.

I want to ignore that something in the face of poetry
is too smug and holding hands with the pressure
to achieve some staggering self, some steady parade
of bloated selfhood, I want to say what I heard in a dream,
that my fingertips end where the real thing begins but

I do have a name,
or what my mother called me when first I appeared,
and before I suspected the impossibly narrow space
in which to alternate between

keeping a safe distance from the facts that hang rudely above our heads
recoiling in classic horror at our options: A.M., P.M.

or loving the facts:
engineered cats and receipt literature,
although the second you close your eyes
you let the spiders braid your hair

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


a ladybug making strange, somehow lacquered noises on the wall, like it’s spitting but even more lacquered than that. I remember a really bad date. it wasn’t even really a date by any stretch of the imagination. we were at the dc. I was definitely drinking an absurd amount of diet coke and probably eating cereal. in my early college career a lot of pretentious guys were attracted to me for some reason and I even went out with a few of them. i say for some reason because i was very quiet/shy, mistaking complete silence for humility. I think if you don’t talk a lot, some people assume you’re secretly fascinating, and that’s a lot of pressure. everyone feels secretly fascinating sometimes, but usually when that pressure to perform isn’t there. and by fascinating I also mean socially adept. longer than I’d like to admit I wondered to myself why none of these potential suitors ever worked out, until it dawned on me that I couldn’t stand these people anyway and i wasn’t sufficiently impressing them either. I remember this one guy. I shouldn’t say I couldn’t stand him, because he’s not a bad guy, which I gauged a couple years later when we ran into each other drunk at a party, without the scary pretense of first meeting each other and feeling an urgency to identify common interests/a connection to justify a mutual attraction. anyway, he was into really obscure foreign bands I’d never heard of.

“what bands are you into right now?” (him)
“I’m really into radiohead right now.” (me)
“well, yeah, ha. I think everyone is always into radiohead.” (him)
I remember feeling instant inadequacy and trying to think of some band that I liked that was edgy and weird and hopefully not American or British.

but my favorite exchange of all time involved talk of cheese. same guy. he was really into cheese and wine. he started talking about cheese. I’m glad we never talked about wine, or alcohol for that matter, because at that point my experience with alcohol was pretty unsophisticated (limited to tequila shots and Smirnoff ices. throwing up grape Smirnoff ice in dan’s backseat, throwing up grape Smirnoff ice in direct response to a guy asking for my number in a parking lot outside of a house party.). so he asked me if I liked cheese. I said yes. big mistake.

“what kind of cheeses do you like?”

the word cheeses made me feel unprepared.

“I really like smoked provolone. and babybell cheese. you know, the little round cheeses wrapped in the red wax. they look like pac-men when you undo the thing. sharp cheddar, too.”