It is obvious from my posts here that I have become increasingly narcissistic.
I worry that I take up too much space in other peoples’ minds, an inversion of what is actually the case (that it’s my mind I spend too much time in).
Why have I been this way? Closed, echoing in and out.
It’s strange to realize your avoidance, to see that your mental state has been the opposite of what you’ve imagined. I’ve lost my train of thought.
But that’s more or less how it is: I don’t follow the tracks that I laid, long ago. I’m not sure what I’m doing. But it feels like I’ve been lost in the woods.
A strange place, where all of the trees have eyes.
I haven’t been reading—but I haven’t really cared that I haven’t been reading. I haven’t been writing—but I haven’t cared about that either. Even as, dimly, both have felt like the most urgent crises in my life. Standing in the front entrance of N and L’s home with a pen hanging in my mouth, watching a clutch of flowers wave in the wind, it’s like I finally understand. It’s a moment in a movie—a slow and maybe bad one, about a writer who has been chasing his own tail. I feel peaceful in this house, more peaceful than I imagined I would feel. I am recovering something, and it is coming on me accidentally. I have looked for this feeling for months.
CALGARY DIARY. Hills of grass and scrub, stands of birch, patches of thistle. Granite and limestone. If there wasn’t so much smoke from the fires to the west we’d be able to see the mountains, but the smoke is there, so instead Neil tells me to imagine the mountains dominating the horizon up to the first line of clouds. Could they be as imposing as I imagine? Maybe it’s better that I can’t see them; but I don’t want to leave Calgary with only their traces.
Even if that’s better.
My neighbours on the flight introduced themselves—no names, I don’t ask for them, but neither do they. “Are you going home?” No, I say, just visiting friends. And that’s the extent of their interest (that, and my shorts—the woman likes them). But not of my interest in them. But is it ghoulish to comment on their behaviours without their consent? On their bag of crispers, of jerky, as if they couldn’t go without, in a flight of less than four hours, a flight with two drink services and two small snacks. They strike me as a credulous pair—the way they jive to their food, like it was music. The woman especially—and she’s who interests me, because she is better dressed than her partner, because she has a nose ring, because they don’t fit my idea of a “couple” (he presents much more “basically” than she does). But anyone can present in any way, and I don’t know what people in Calgary are like.
They seemed giddy with their in-flight entertainment. Movies and television shows that didn’t look like anything to me. Car chases, one last score (I catch some of the closed captioning). Watching a movie or watching a television show is a feat of endurance: I don’t always understand how people can do it, even if I do it myself and the things I watch to the end are sometimes terrible all the way through.
It would be a shame if I never saw the mountains while I was here, though I don’t think there is a danger of that happening, but maybe in some ways it is enough to know that they are there. Not to imagine them purely, but to have the suggestion, to be placed into a landscape where they would normally be visible. To be told they rise to a certain height.
My motivation is in the toilet after a productive day yesterday. I’m sitting on the thirteenth floor of Robarts looking out at the city lying flat underneath a bank of heavy grey clouds. The day is far from over—I should not compare myself to others or even to previous versions of myself. I’d like to spend the day roaming the earth back and forth but instead I will write this essay about time and the ways in which it compares to form. The day is far from over, in fact it has hardly even begun. I like the way that I feel when I am in the throes of writing something—I liked biking back from R’s with the conclusion on my brain. But that essay is done—it’s time to reset and begin again.
Now I’m crawling through the day, on my hands and knees. It’s suffocatingly hot outside—when I put my bag down after walking outside I feel the wet slick of sweat from the nape of my neck down to my belt. I woke up late, feeling slow, my body outraged. Yesterday I stuffed it with bread and sugar, carbohydrates which caused the black veins in my gut to shoot out copious poisons, tricking my immune system into thinking that I’ve encountered a virus. It is my doctor’s theory that I am imagining this change but it happens like clockwork when I overeat certain foods or when I exercise too much, no matter my mood. In fact exercise will often improve my mood, only for it to take a nosedive the next morning when I wake up in the haze of illness, real, imagined, or false positive. I know that if I think this is happening I should take steps to radically change my behaviours, to alter my life–and I’ve done this for stretches—but without a diagnosis it doesn’t seem real, like without grounding it is confined to the realm of imagination, something I could theoretically overcome with sheer force of will.