Category: essayed

Bellow writing in the ‘60s about the well of literary estrangement running dry. Saul, that is. That was then—what of now? Well, now, is there any room for it at all? Everyone and no one is estranged. Every group, every clique, every niche of every corner has a brandable identity sewn on like logos on […]

I came to Chicago in 2007, the year of the Virginia Tech shooting. I’d been there, and when I got here—to the University—people asked me about it, what it was like. I didn’t become friends with those people, but the city and I got along just fine. Hyde Park and I got along just fine, […]

This is the story of Francisco—pejoratively called Frankie, unbeknownst to him—the middle-aged, denim-jacketed, long-haired pseudo-revolutionary Executive Director of a small NGO singing songs and playing guitar with his little makeshift band of false rebels, primary among them the incomparable minion Sonya de la Torre on tambourine, the pride and joy princess fresh out of community […]

There’s a thing I started writing a couple years ago and never finished. A thing about threes. In it I started and never finished saying that important things come in threes. Just look online. Profundity comes in threes. Steps to success/achievement /perfection come in threes. Good things come in threes. Meaningful things, delicious things, great […]

Once I was six or five years old and did things kid backward like I do them grown backward now and I remember one day doing my six or five year old backward best to ponder nonexistence because it struck me ponderably, little ponderable thing I was barely getting used to existing and ponderance in […]

And I see it’s all material, sure, that’s fine, again material, more material, immaterial and otherwise and with depth, yes, of course, I’m not mad, of course, not quite, not yet, of course, but I just can’t let the idea go, not quite yet, because I like to start things strangely and because where would […]

We had two dogs when I was growing up, brothers they were, one called Sammy and Moxie the other, both black and brown and white, some kind of beagle-shepherd-wolf-bird-dog-bear mixes or something magical like that, the latter with longer, scragglier fur for catching burrs and getting caked with mud and all manner of undesirable substances […]

I write under the name “Mischa” but that’s not my real name. Well, not anymore, usually, I mean it’s real, and it really was ceremoniously bestowed upon me by the power vested in my parents and the state of Virginia, but I tend to go by Mike or Michael—or Fernandoquan inside inner secret insider circles—because […]

Magritte was here, over two years ago now, and I visited him at The Museum on a cloudy, drizzly, seasonably chilly Chicago day in an early Chicago October. Time wrinkles like that and here I am on a not-hot-enough early July Chicago Sunday thinking how last week’s heat is right around the corner ahead but […]

I see children and I don’t want them but I’m glad someone does. They’re probably hungry and in need of discipline. Weekends come and go like deep breaths between five-day spans of hyperventilation and all I can think about lately is how I want to be apart, to be left alone but not lonely, no, […]

I read somewhere—on a museum plaque, I think—that, in essence, luminism was an effort to portray a “transcendental unity in the contemplation of nature’s stillness” and I wonder what the antonymic would be—to capture a descendant fragmentation in hasty reactions to urban chaos, perhaps. I might call that lifeism if a name was needed, one […]

Love did not help me find the words, infatuation did, infatuated impropriety, as always. Love let me lose them. These, my real fictions.

Current content is meaningless and fast. I’ve read Knausgaard (slowly)—he thinks something’s off with my capacity to resist and yes I’m happy to put words in his mouth if they serve my purposes, that’s fine, that’s what words and mouths are for, because words in mouths are as delicious as kisses if deep steeped and […]

Why write. I have to, I suppose. That’s what I tell people, and it sounds pretty good. I don’t really feel compelled to lumberjackery or carjackery or crackerjackery or whatever elsery anyway. Looked into haberdashery once, but it just didn’t pan out, because no one knows what that is anymore. Sophistry, though—now that I understand.

Broke my best spatula today, just snapped into three pieces. Was attempting to get under a pancake in need of a flip, pressed down a bit too much, and it exploded. I shed a single tear and promptly buried it with ritualistic solemnity by throwing it from my seventh-floor balcony into the street below. No, […]

Tired and irresponsible, plain not thinking. What is all this now? I love to think, but I hate to love anymore, yes, anymore I hate to love so I guess I’m lucky it’s all just my imagination. That’s it, really—little more than a sensation, a sensationation, a silly byproduct of certain synapses and stimuli and […]

I see my salary as if it were a tangible thing, but I never see any of my money. When I say I see it, I mean any thought, however small and glancing, of the number itself auto-projects a visual somewhere behind my eyes, as if I’m squeezing them shut and trying to look through my […]

They meet, an encounter, chance, for there is no other kind, and they watch and listen and observe and wonder, and go back to their lives and think, excited. They think. And they ask. They ask their lives, feeling a life should know something about what it is the person living it feels. But lives […]

You were on pins and needles all day, waiting to hear from me—or so I assumed, because ten hours or more had passed since I said my last words, and when I finally said some more, late in the evening because I finally had to, you called within minutes and we spoke until straight lines […]

Sorry for your loss, hello, pleasure to meet you, sorry for your loss, pleasure, sorry it’s under these circumstances, sorry for your loss, hello, sorry, pleasure, circumstances, sorry, loss.

Well, here goes. I’m a thirty-something Capricorn (textbook), Christmas Eve baby, six-foot-five, 220-ish pounds, 100-ish kilos, 16-ish stone, if anyone’s counting and measuring, former/current basketball player and perpetual dreamer (aww) with an actual functioning mind and overfunctioning heart. I frequently digress (see everything below), love to travel, although I somehow rarely do, I speak approximately […]

Canoeing with my dad on the Shenandoah. The smooth river winding along, trees leaning in, sitting up front with him in the back behind, fishing, watching the countryside, the riverbanks, keeping an eye out for rocks and finding the best places to glide through innocuous Shenandoah rapids, looking down into the dark green water, wondering […]

“You hear about the fire?” ? “There was a fire—a fairly big one, I think, in the city somewhere last night, up north.” “Had no idea.” I was busy. All my energy was elsewhere, after finally pulling myself out of an elsewhere that was actually, really, and truly just someone else’s nowhere, just a plain […]

We all go through it, we’ve all been there, that’s life, it is what it is, what can we do, everything happens for a reason, it’ll all work out in the end, you’ll be better for it, stronger, smarter. Spare me, please. Let’s stop dealing in cliché and quaint misapprehension. So your boyfriend/girlfriend cheated, so […]

A train horn in the distance tonight, long and low, makes me think of home. We lived right by those tracks—tracks like those, some tracks anyway—so close we couldn’t sleep with the big windows open because of the heavy, resounding clakclakclakclakclak and the discordant dingdingdingding of the crossing signal and the occasional horn and the […]

Something, someone keeps saying you’ll always be here. I can still hear it, and it sounds like you. Maybe one of those songs you sent, playing on repeat. Maybe it’s just me, me forgetting I released you from your promise, forgetting that what I hear now is only an echo, a reverberation muffled in the […]

My eighth birthday in this city, a week ago, in my eighth year here. What did I do, what have I done in this here octennial? This is what happens when your birthday falls at the end of the year—you wonder, doubly, what the fuck you did, what changed, what didn’t, what you gained, lost, […]

Well hello new, you don’t know the first fucking thing about me, do you. No question mark there because I’m not really asking. We both know that much. What I’ve done, what I’ve been through, who I’ve been, how low, how high and why and everywherething in between. I don’t know if you could know, […]

When this year began I was busy saying the city might be my salvation because I needed something to say that about and the city made sense, even though I didn’t feel like I did, or could or would or should. Home is what I wanted it to be, wanted someplace to be, desperately did, […]

Life gets ugly, we know that, it’s right as rain and true as glue and clear as mud; there’s perhaps nothing more self-evident and trite, or truer and opaque. Maybe that’s the ugliest thing about it. Ugliness’s inevitability, and its murk.

I saw my daughter in a dream last night, only I don’t have a daughter. I don’t have any children at all, in fact. But I saw her nonetheless. Without question, that was her (she, I know). I wish I’d been able to see her face—she couldn’t have been more than five. What a time […]

I have a new job. It’s better than my old one, and the one before that and before that, back to time immemorial, infinity-mirrored. Better than all of them, though they’re all really the same aren’t they, a series of times and tasks and more or less logical parameters, more or less sensible expectations, day-framed? […]

This is personal. I’ve been away, again, and I left right at the moment of swearing finally and definitively and forevermore death before dishonor happily ever after the end amen that I’d never again go, all away-going thus fully forsworn and packed in travel-battered and bumped past tense as those times I went, oh all […]

Dec 31 Cleaning my stove and refrigerator on new year’s eve is perfect because it doesn’t feel like such a waste then, like I’m spending time on maintenance that could (should) be spent on change. It doesn’t seem like I’m giving in to “the way things are,” as the old folks say (and the young […]

Contrary to what my employers seem to believe, I am extraordinarily unfit for my day job which is sometimes also a night job and occasionally a weekend job, even when I don’t have work to do—it sticks with me, a kind of trivial, biting toxicity requiring at least twenty-four hours of away time to purge from my system, […]

When I was a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed part-time grad student and full-time, spectacularly underpaid university office staffer, I wrote a short essay for some grandly insignificant gender issues essay contest about being a secretary because I thought it was funny to discuss the trials and tribulations of being a young, (presumably) up-and-coming man in a role traditionally held […]

It is a little-known fact that Jack Kerouac was the first howler monkey to break into the literary arts, as evidenced by the photo above (left), taken by Allen Ginsberg in 1953 and which I have juxtaposed to a stock photo of a stock howler monkey (right) as clear and indisputable proof. Ginsberg, in the […]

Sorry, buddy. I was gone for a while and I owe you some kind of explanation. You see, I was being what clinical psychologists call “stupid.” I lied to, hid from, blamed, and in one way or another mistreated just about everyone who cares about me. In short, I was behaving as what is often […]

None of this is real, right? I’m just making it up as I go, imagining? Monday. I’m turning photos of receipts from Boom Burger right-side-up and saving them as pdfs because our people in the field apparently can’t do this themselves and the company still handles expenses as if we live in an age where […]

Time flows like a rain-swollen river, carrying the detritus of hopes, dreams, regrets, certainties and uncertainties, works and lives, all history out to a perhaps, an I guess so, a big maybe made up of innumerable snaking tributaries, a vast, unreachable delta which we can only imagine and invent. It courses by and through all that […]

Dear Sir or Madam or Mr. or Mrs. or Whomever, Whatever, You, Person, I’m writing this predictably formulaic letter to a complete stranger about a job I only partially understand because I think I want it and assume it pays well (enough). So here are my three standard paragraphs, in the first of which I […]

I wander around crowded places looking for empty spaces, traces of life and activity. This predilection to seek emptiness and stasis in the midst of bustle and swarms is, I think, a manifestation of my Capricorn Problem—two places at once, dichotomous nature, pulled in opposing directions, mildly schizophrenic (not really, except maybe sometimes; either way it […]

Where does get off suggesting I “meet Chinese lady?” I came for a synonym and it’s offering me companionship—although I must say the fact that it’s “free join” is enticing. Yes, I realize I was searching for synonyms for “alone,” but this ad/link shows up almost every time I use the site, no matter […]

Seeing this makes me feel closer, just closer, no matter how far away I may be (or think I am), reminds me of what closeness really is, its beautiful base ingredients and essence. All it takes is a photo from a moment I remember in outline and impression, a moment I can revisit through some […]

Very inspiring. I always thought this was a one-man job but maybe I should swallow some pride and start relying on my coworkers more. After all, as the caption reminds us, “when we all work together, we all win together.” I want to be a winner. Winners are team players, and team players use the […]

This is what happens when I’m trying to write but nothing seems to make any sense, when my sight is cloudy and my words are flat, stick-figureish, when I can’t for the life of me locate the feeling, that burst of clarity and energy from which thoughts flow freely and clearly, meaningfully and purposefully. It […]