Without Intention


There’s something terrifying about staring at an empty page you don’t have any intentions for (of course). There’s something terrifying about living without intentions, feeling empty and undernourished, waking up in the morning and spending hours coming into yourself. Anything else right now would be a relief. When a day off isn’t a day off but a kind of necessary reformation, when you’re stringing yourself together after a long time of having come apart… When you have to string yourself together mindlessly to embark in any direction.


The Grey Tiger must be a disappointment to its owners—it has so much potential, but it’s never full, and the man and woman who own it always seem in a dark mood. Or rather the woman is always bright and cheerful when you say hello, but the man sits darkly at the counter, reading a newspaper, or stalks back and forth behind the bar, occasionally walking up to the woman while she is in the middle of some task. Bending over her. Putting a scowl into her. His body language suggests correction—somehow she has wronged him. Both proprietors are tight, coiled, but the man is like a cobra waiting to strike and the woman is like a tensed fist waiting to relax. If you startle her she might break down in either tears or laughter.


I’m on the verge of something and I’m not sure what it is—in a couple months I’m returning to school. Soon I will quit my job. Perhaps very soon. I’m exploring new relationships. But it’s none of those things. There’s something flipping inside me, something that can’t be expressed or addressed. It’s nothing I can say. But I feel as if I am mounting a cliff. I feel as if I am slowly coming to a new vantage… And that whatever it is that I see will change me, in a way I can’t yet understand. I want to relax in something. I am eager to. But I also know that I won’t be able to relax—I want to feel charged and excited. I want to feel alert and vital. I want to be focussed and expressive. And right now I am none of those things, except in an imagined future or the distant past.



A branch got caught in my rear bicycle wheel and somehow fucked up my fender and wrecked the wheel’s alignment, and while I was eating falafels on my walk back because I was afraid I was going to fall over from eating a bagel for lunch I received an email from the fiction editor at X, which has had my small book for ~4 months, saying oh I liked your changes personally but I passed it onto the publishers and they’re not sure now if they’re going to publish it because it is fragmentary (yeah uh) or incomplete (no) which is cool and great considering how many other attainable or possibly attainable publishers have asked me about it in the meantime (2) and I have said to them “Sorry? I guess not?”

Something else happened, uh, earlier I received an email saying I didn’t get OGS funding, and finally I’m meeting C later tonight (after postponing our last meeting) and I’d rather crawl into bed or fall down a flight of stairs and thinking about work makes me want to cry uncontrollably. I can do much better and I don’t know why I keep doing this job. It’s good to get more money from a job (as I have received) but not if it’s still not enough or only barely enough and not if the job is not worth doing.

There’s a limit or a breaking point and I feel demoralized and like I have no time to do anything that’s actually or urgently important to me. I want to slide onto the rocks out by the Beaches and lie there until the sun comes out of its hole and turns me into a warm and fragrant paste. I could sit out by the Beaches and look at the ocean every day and I would be filled with a warm peacefulness and even if I wouldn’t accomplish anything necessarily I would at least be a kind of alive. “What stymies you in this situation is that you have a motive at all.”

Notes from the day


Water the temperature of blood. “It’s like soup.” I imagine a boat doing circles on water that from the air is a bright crystal. In the year 2017, you can speak about things that are far away as if they are immediate.

The serial killer once rented a home in Toronto. He asked to borrow a spade so that he could dig a patch of potatoes. When the inspector from Philadelphia learned this he had the patch dug out. The girl’s bodies were found only a few feet from the surface.

But there is some uncertainty—the children were killed in a fire or through suffocation. This morning that seemed profound to me, I think because on the podcast it was worded as if it were a proposal, as if it was left unsigned and even the killer didn’t know. He was executed either by hanging or from being buried alive. They were so afraid that he would escape they sealed his coffin with cement.

It occurs to me now that I didn’t tell Lindsay that we drove on the 407. The other highways, going north, south, east, and west, were all jammed. An electronic lightboard announced that four lanes of a highway—that was all of them—were blocked.

On the 407 we moved comfortably at speeds in excess of 100 kilometres an hour. The country bloomed alongside us, rising and falling in ragged meadows. Now that they can no longer spray pesticides, weeds have taken hold of the underpasses, indestructible flowers that spread via underground rhizomes, and rushes, and tall grasses. I wanted to pull over and sit quiet and still amongst the long banks of concrete.

There’s an essay there—I haven’t gone far beyond the pitch, which is that we are attracted to the aesthetics of the apocalypse because we already built it, that the infrastructure that supports the free and fast circulation of cars in the suburbs and countryside is already post-human. It doesn’t take much work to imagine a land emptied of people when you are screaming by monolithic concrete and lonely greenery at speeds that in the nineteenth century it was imagined would make onlookers and passengers lose their minds (when speaking of proposed train lines). Another version of this essay explains that this is the appeal of the television show Adventure Time—it presents a vision of the apocalypse that is somehow more habitable than the suburbs we currently live in, because it emphasizes friendship, love, and connection in an emptied suburban or post-urban landscape that is both familiar and hostile to those values.


I hate to complain. But I am very good at it. I want to live in an ideal world and no world is ideal. I want to close my eyes and take care of myself. But I don’t take care of myself. I expect care from the world when I don’t offer it to myself.


It is strange to want to make yourself so agreeable to others. I used to think that meant taking a piece of them through association and grafting it onto yourself. Making yourself agreeable so that you can. A monstrous thing on its own. Now I know it is giving away too much, cutting off your limbs piece by piece, and holding them out to anyone who comes close.


Taking your time. It’s hard to feel what I want to feel with others when I’m doing the opposite of taking time. Rushing through conversation. All developments inevitably become stalled. I don’t want anything else (or anyone) to be in my head when I’m having sex. Maybe I’ll go into the park and sleep until visited by rain.


What do I need to do? I need to slow down. I need to put my feet on the ground. I need to focus on one thing, and one person, at a time.

These entries are becoming schizophrenic, swinging quickly from one position to the other. The internet is vanity and I have committed to it, I have hollowed out myself for a faraway glittering prize. It will never come to me.

Everyone knows who I am and I don’t care. No one knows who I am and it doesn’t matter.

I don’t want to be known, I want to live in the work. I want to carve out a life that straddles both plains. Rest peacefully in fraternity and abstraction.

I don’t know who I’m writing these entries for or who I’m trying to impress. If I’m trying to impress anyone, it’s thou, or you.



Especially with the door closed, the carpet store is quiet on Saturdays. I’ve sorted all of the rugs and filled out the invoices, making checks in the Excel file to keep track of the comings and goings. Now there’s nothing to do but wait by the phone, just the hiss and squeak of the fans to keep me company.

Lately I’ve been worried about the malaise that I’ve noticed growing in myself, a sense of helplessness, a kind of nihilism… I don’t know where it’s coming from. It’s almost confusing, because in some respects I am more confident than ever, following my desire, meeting the eyes of strangers on the street.

I’ve been worried about the carelessness which with I’ve started to approach this job, which doesn’t require much care but does require at least some. Today it’s nice that there’s no one else around, that I haven’t yet had to deal extensively with the public; it has given me both authority to make decisions and room to breathe and think.

But I’m not challenged, this situation is temporary, and I’m worried about what that has been doing to me, mentally and emotionally. I have also not been challenging myself in my time off. I’ve been running myself ragged, either by filling my time with too many commitments or too many distractions. Some of the only time I’ve given myself is the five minutes of meditation I am sometimes allowed on the subway, or the seconds before I close my eyes to sleep.

My sleep itself has been irregular, more recently interrupted by different partners in my bed… I feel like I’ve broken a pattern, like I have a better sense of my own boundaries, of my desire to commit and to whom, and when that should occur. Right now I am being cautious and slow, which doesn’t mean I’m not following enthusiasm… Right now I am waiting for things to develop and sort themselves out rather than to try and build something without a foundation. A life can be built that way (that is, quickly and carelessly), perhaps even ultimately successfully, but I’ve done that too many times to think it will work out for me.

And I am doing something new and probably part of that is making mistakes, or overextending myself, and that is itself of necessity a temporary situation, that it will not last. I of course need to remember in the meantime to be careful with others as well, as my journey is not theirs…

There are four security cameras in the office, and sometimes I stand in front of the monitor which has the feeds all displayed in little quarters on the screen. I’m surprised to see someone standing there who looks like me but is not the picture of me that I have in my mind… It’s someone with more confidence and perhaps even a kind of ferocity. Or intensity. I don’t know if that’s the image that other people receive. I don’t know if it’s even close. Maybe I’m trying to care less about whatever that might be.


I have been living with one foot out the door—dangerous psychologically, even for situations that you know will not last (driving a van up and down the city, learning a particular trade—I have already learned all I want to learn about rugs). What do I need to do? Probably I need to slow down, and meditate, and reduce my commitments. Do I want to meet C on Saturday, even briefly? What would be accomplished by doing that? It’s good to be friends with someone you have loved but not if their expectations are unreasonable or if they are used to having their unrealistic expectations met.

(I’m not sure this is happening or in danger of happening; expectations can sometimes arise implicitly where there is need, and dissipate with its dissolution.)

Two weeks ago I felt like I was living without desire, I wondered what it meant to be a person without it. Friday and Monday as I drove across the city all I could think of was H’s open mouth pressing against mine. I wished that more engaging things were happening on the radio so that I could drown it out, I was worried that I was investing too much psychic energy into someone I had only met a handful of times.

That might still be the case, but I like everything that has happened so far. My therapist wants me to date more generally, to “have fun.” It is implied this is what I should be doing. Not only do not know how to do that, it stresses me out. I don’t like doing it. I don’t want to. I have done enough of it. I know what I like and don’t like. As long as I keep that in mind, as long as I maintain myself and don’t shirk my responsibilities…

As long as I follow my desire and am honest about it. As long as I take the time to learn and to listen and to be open and engaged… As long as I remember to decide for myself.

I haven’t had much difficulty remembering.

It worries me, though, how cavalier I have been. I can make the mistake of wanting too many things. 


It’s strange that I don’t want to write. I feel totally blank, like I have been wiped clean. All I want to do is lie on my bed with the fan going, watching the hanging pothos wave in the breeze. All I want to do is come home from work and sit at the kitchen table watching YouTube videos on my phone. To do my chores to podcasts. To talk to friends, or not to talk to them exactly but to make time for them, though I also feel like I don’t have as much time for them as I’d like…

Right now I don’t know who I am or what I’m making time for. In this mood I feel as light and empty as a breeze. I am someone who likes to work, to push themselves, to feel accomplishment. I need that to feel like I’m who I am. But instead I’m floating along, aimlessly, wondering when my feet are going to again touch the ground.


Tension between wanting to write things of value and keeping this blog as regularly updated as possible, both because of the usefulness of practice and habit to changing emotional and intellectual patterns, but also because it is better to build a record than not; even an incomplete, limited, and less polished one.

I have been reading Augustine. You, the joy I was so slow to hear, said nothing as I ranged father out from you—I, loftily downfallen, actively paralyzed, sowing arid and ever more arid sadnesses. Good to feel, suddenly, on the subway, like you want to burst into tears, or like tears are constantly on the verge of coming, like you are opening up.