December 16, 2020

I am squeaky-clean. I am sitting here at my desk up in the loft, in my sweatpants, sipping wine, burning incense, & writing this letter by candlelight. I just finished listening to the soulful tunes of Macy Gray. I am just fucking vibing.

Today I woke up fairly early, around nine. It was cold in the loft. From the hole in the floor, where the ladder is, I could see the dull cloudy tarnished silver of a December morning in New York. A. was watching something on the TV, the sound of which I tried to block out. Something about the light—its gentle stream, its softness, its quiet plainness felt like a cool personality in the room, like a reverence. The room was full of clear unvarnished air, like the light filtering through the stained glass of a cathedral on a cloudy day, so it doesn’t take up the vibrant colors but just slips through, ordinary light, unassuming, unbeautiful, not radiant, homely, yet present nonetheless. The kind of light that reminds you that not every day is sunshine and rainbows, but that every day is—the kind of light by which monks in temples rake the lawns, carry water, garden, & expect no visitors. The kind of light which does not draw people together & outside, & so the kind of light by which people sit alone, thinking. So, in recognition of that, I sat alone & I thought.

I sat up here in the dim holy light & meditated. I had a headache, so I tried to explore that. I find that, when meditating, the mind is like a room, full of your thoughts & impulses—one whose dimensions are felt, but not seen. I imagined myself groping around a room in the dark, one whose shape I generally know but whose layout is constantly changing. The headache seemed to reduce the size of that room, to jut, like a stalactite, into the space where my thoughts might otherwise be. Handling the contours of that intrusion into my mental cavern was uncomfortable, somewhat painful, but gave me an idea of what to expect from that compartment of my mind that day. I had a call with my therapist at three. Unlike last week, I remembered our appointment. We discussed the compulsive, self-critical, intensely & aggressively negative thoughts I think about myself during depressive episodes. He asked me to list the ways I am a huge piece of shit. This is a direct quote. The two main branches were 1) things I said or did to people I loved & respected to cause us to break up; awful, terrible, true things said to me, about me, in these situations; & 2) the one-to-one relationship between my artistic output & my self-worth. We will tackle these in turn in future sessions, $40 at a time.

[. . .]

I can hear the blizzard raging outside. The flakes started around two, little flurries skittering through the sky, blown by the wind. By four, the air was white—the snow was driving, heavy, pure. At six I went for a walk. I put on my warmest jeans, long socks, a T-shirt, a flannel shirt, my hat, coat, gloves, hiking boots, & mask, & walked out. Instantly the wind tore through my clothes & dumped snow on the back of my neck—the exclusion of my scarf was a mistake. I pulled my hat down to my collar, my collar up to my hat, my mask up to my eyes, & trudged out. Driving snow & icy wind will either dry your eyeballs out or land a flake right in them, so you have to keep your hat down below your brow, squint, look down, & ideally get wherever the hell you’re going. But the snowstorm was my destination.

My favorite part of the snow is the quiet. Snowflakes in the air absorb sound, & fall almost silently. They erase all the distant sounds we usually tune out, of distant road noise, horns, alarms, whatever. I remember as a kid standing at the back door, watching the fat wet globs come down, hoping for a snow day, & hearing the perfect, still, swirling silence—just the sound of flakes collecting, the wind blowing, the seasons changing. Tonight as I walked I did not hear the city—just booted footsteps of lonely, hustling pedestrians; the odd scrape of a shovel on a sidewalk; the wet slap of tires riding carefully through the slush; the hum of the streetlights; the falling snow; & the total, awesome, unperturbed quiet.

I came back chilled to the bone, sopping wet, & white as a snowman. The forecast called for 8"-14” by tomorrow afternoon—at seven, there were at least six inches on the patio furniture already.

I took a steaming hot shower—my skin prickled at first, then relented.