Strange moment of kismet the other day. A friend emailed a link to a story about Frank Sinatra’s habit of carrying 10 dimes everywhere he went in case he needed to make payphone calls.

Moments later I went downstairs and found, on top of the mailboxes, an undeliverable card addressed to one of Frank Sinatra’s nephews who used to live in this building but moved out a long time ago. Postal mail still for him still arriving, I think it’s been over 12 years since he moved, is itself a little surprising. For it to appear moments after a discussion about his Uncle is, well, just one of those little bits of experiential ephemeræ that many people would not notice.

When Sinatra’s nephew lived here he likely had no idea there would be a Frank Sinatra School for the Arts built just 6 blocks away. Did this development hasten his departure? I’ll never know but, having not known this person more than just to say hi in the hallways, word was that he wanted nothing to do with being connected to the Sinatra clan.

I’ve been recording myself at sleep, calculating that I thrash from one position to another about 3 or 4 times an hour. I’ve shown some of those thrashful moments to a friend, who says she sleeps like the dead and that if she tossed and turned the way I do she would certainly be woken up by it.

I don’t think I wake up in those moments of paradoxically restless torpor. I have seen my eyes open but that will happen without necessarily returning to consciousness.

I knew someone in college who sleepwalked. I talked to him a few years ago, when he recounted a recent experience in which he sleepwalked into a stranger’s house at 3 in the morning. The owner of the house, completely within his right to do so, smashed with he presumed was a burglar on the back of the head with a shovel. That’ll wake you up from a sleepwalk. He’s lucky the shovel-wielding homeowner didn’t kill him. Emergency room peeps put several stitches on the top of his head. Youch. He’s damn lucky to be alive.

I do not sleepwalk but I do wake at least once a night, sometimes posting stupid shit to social media, going back to sleep, then waking up again a few hours later to delete it before anyone I know sees it.

I don’t write much on this site anymore. At present this feels like jabber. Jibber-jabber. The thunderous sound of this mechanical keyboard, which makes every word I type sound like a stampede of grasshoppers, adds an aural avalanche to this mental conflagration.

My best writing takes place, in my opinion at least, in email correspondence. It is direct, I know someone is reading/listening, and there is far less room for miscommunication or misinterpretation compared to social media or message boards. In those environments I find it far more common for people to simply read what they want to read, contorting facts into fantasy and innocuous asides into scandalous insults.

I was more inspired to write for this site when I had portable keyboards that connected to my cell phone or tablet devices. It felt better writing in places other than on this spot, in this apartment, which has become, save for the sweet release of sleep, a place I simply do not want to be.

I go out. I walk and walk and walk, sometimes double-digit mileage, just to be anywhere but here. There is nothing claustrophobic about this place. in fact it is a damn fine apartment. A little cluttered but not in a horder kind of way. I do consider myself something of a digital horder, erasing virtually nothing (deliberately, at least) since the 1980s, when floppy disks seemed like such an infinite terrain to store endless text.

I thought of that perspective whilst listening to comments from a book editor at a publishing conference I went to at a time when the Internet was still relatively new to mainstream society. This would have been 1998, I think, maybe 1999. This editor was marveling at how the Internet had made available oceans of text, more words and more content, he estimated, than print publishing had generated since the first Gutenberg Bibles were printed centuries ago.

He got hung up on the notion of “a gigabyte of text.” “Can you imagine? Access to a gigabyte of text? A GIGABYTE?” He asked this rhetorical question through gritted teeth. The mere concept of all that text coming at him, and the evident sense of responsibility that he would be forced to consume and read every single word, filled him with both awe and trepidation, if not genuine mental fear.

Since then data has, of course, continued to increase. By the late 1990s some of my individual media files consumed more storage than had been available all my first 5 computers combined. I retain endless hours of audio, video, and other media content, unwilling but not completely incapable of deleting the garbage, like a time I left a field recorder on overnight and recorded 13 hours of the sounds of cars driving by outside. That is what the world needs, right?

One trick to keeping me in place is a relatively cheap but effective pair of noise-cancelling headphones. I had the expensive kinds but found that they fell apart just as quickly, if not quicklier, than any other kind of headphones.

There never used to be much competition in the noise-cancelling space but that’s changed. I don’t remember what this set of Cowin noise-cancellers cost but it was nowhere near the $300 I spent on Bose or Sony.

Yesterday i recited to myself a haiku I wrote using only the letters from the word DENTIST. It’s no novelty to make as many words as possible from a given word. What I try to do is craft something reasonably coherent, with a narrative or some interpretable point of view. With DENTIST I came up with this:





That is, unquestionably, a masterpiece. All the gigabytes of text in the universe say less than those 11 words you just read. But I must move on, must create more content to pour into mental oceans which seem to terminally drain themselves or else I would not feel obligated to fill them.

I’ve been working on a haiku using only letters from the word RESIN, the only beer I drink at home. So far I have this:



Those lines reference the fact that I sometimes wake in the middle of the night, after the effects of drinking a few Resins and some vodka have worn off, feeling a bit of shame or self-loathing for having let myself drink too much, or maybe too little. The last line is still in the works, but I might go with


A reference to Resin being a pretty stiff 9% IPA (9.1% to be exact) which could conceivably lead me to drink myself blind, as the saying goes, though I don’t think that’s even come close to happening.

I’m not sold on that last line, though. NE’ER looks and sounds clumsy and contrived in this year of 2021. How about:


That means nothing in this context. Or does it? At what point does it become possible to interpret words any way you want? Can the self-loathing of the first two lines turn to scorn for the 9% ABV of Resin?

Speaking of dentists insisting, I experienced a first-for-me two weeks ago. I had a couple of teeth pulled. Dental torture is virtually unknown to me, having had virtually perfect teeth my whole life. But bruxism, combined with use of cheap mouthguards and a year’s worth of pandemic anxiety led me to grind two back teeth to a pulp. I’d been spitting out flecks of tooth onto the streets and sidewalks of New York for weeks, thinking it was just food that got stuck back there.

Feeling no pain but only slight weirdness I didn’t do anything until I spit up what did not look anything like the sandwich I was eating at that moment. I still have it, a chunk of tooth, ½ of it teal-colored the other kind of brownish. My dentist’s office, usually busy to a point where appointments are made weeks in advance, recognized my situation and got me an appointment the next day.

I completely over-reacted when the doctor said I’d need to have those teeth pulled. I looked at him like he’d just told me I had two weeks to live. I soon got over it, recognizing that plenty of healthy people lose teeth to grinding and other unintentional behaviors.

I did, however, remember a dating site profile where a woman listed as one of her requirements for dating a man was “YOU MUST HAVE ALL YOUR TEETH.” I’d have no way to contact her now but was she serious? Is even a single incident of toothlessness considered a stigma?

I realized after the fact that having teeth pulled was my first real surgery, whilst recognizing that  it is relatively minor compared to other procedures. I was fully sedated, lying on the dentist’s reclining chair, feeling a couple of needles go into my arm, then seemingly seconds later I found myself sitting alone in a small room asking myself how they expected to perform this procedure if I was sitting in this chair.

A dental assistant appeared and asked me how I felt. I asked if we were going to do this procedure or not. She chuckled, assured me it had been done. I was a little woozy from the sedation but nowhere near as bad as I’d been warned. I’d seen other patients leave this office looking like the walking dead. I felt relatively decent and honestly think I could have walked home on my own.

They would not have allowed that, it seems. A friend who agreed to drive me home from this surgery was required to actually appear in the office, to satisfy the staff that I really had an escort. Liabilities, I guess.

I now have the bone of a stranger in my mouth, and stitches that will fall out over time, leaving my mouth feeling like it did before. It should feel like nothing is there, but for now the stitches create a kind of fuzzy-wuzzy sensation which I’d earlier misinterpreted to signal that the bone or the blood clot might come loose. I didn’t even know he put in stitches until the follow-up session two weeks later.

The surgeon oozed competence but I wish I understood what the hell he was saying. I was at first unwilling to get the bone graft put in on account of the expense. But after a second session he sold me on it, kind of insisted really. It took a second session for him to convince me of this because I could not understand what he was talking about in the first one.

I’m lucky to say I felt zero pain through any of this. I preëmptively took a codeine and antibiotic but I probably did not need it. The surgery was on a Monday. I ate nothing but yogurt and pudding until Friday, and also followed what looked like credible advice to stay away from alcohol for at least a few days. The clot healed quickly, the surgeon said everything looks exactly like it is supposed to at this point.

I just did what I too often do. Interrupting this exquisite stream of text I went to the piano, glanced at an étude by Emil Sauer, then turned back and returned to this spot. A wasted, useless, unrecoverable use of about 10 seconds of opportunity.

I don’t multitask. I multiwaste, starting one potential project, opening another piece of software, then going back to another in-progress/never-to-be-finished timesuck. I spend so many days switching from writing code to playing piano to editing video to writing text to masturbating to walking 8 miles to uploading videos to YouTube to emailing effluviously and sometimes grandiloquently with a number of correspondents whose attentions I feel privileged to have.

When focus arrives, in the form of paying work or an email correspondence branching out into in-the-flesh contacts, I feel right. I feel correct. I deserve focus. I have earned the privilege of having SOMETHING TO DO.

But it’s become a sodden, sorry feeling on days like this, when focus eludes me. I will publish this screed, then go out of doors for what looks to be limited sunlight.

But first I’ll make another sidelong, useless glance at the Emil Sauer étude.