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In The Lonely

by drummis

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Moment 1: You Are Not Alone Three weeks ago, you broke up with your girlfriend of three years. She’d been fighting cancer for most of the relationship, and there’s still a lot of guilt and hurt and frustration. You’re both adjusting, living apart now. Then, tonight, sitting alone and dogless in your big, empty half-house, a musician friend sends you a web link to a livestream of him and his brother just jamming on guitar and electric drums, inventing music together across the internet, joking, occasionally calling out to you (their one listener), though you have no way of responding. Your friend lives a half-hour away; his brother lives on the other side of the country. You are reminded—even now, alone—that you are not alone.
Moment 2: Green Chaise Lounge, Part 1 (Forget Everything Else) It’s that time between a breakup and whatever comes next, when she’s moved in with her parents but you’re left with all her furniture. There’s a big green chaise lounge cornered here in your small upstairs study/studio. You can sit with your legs out and look through the dusty window glass at all the lush foliage and turning leaves and light October rain. You can read Autobiography of Red. You can watch the wind and, for a little while, forget everything else. There is this new mindless excitement buzzing through you somehow. Remember this, too.
Moment 10: Haunted House You have plans for the summer. You’ll move in to your dead grandfather’s house and live there for a month before finding a newer, smaller apartment(—“Something like a cell for a monk,” you told your poet friend). Your family’s excited to have you visit your hometown for so long. Your father, sister, and her fiancé have been fixing the house up, preparing it for the day they’ll all live there together. Your sister assures you the house is haunted. You think about June in a big haunted house, writing. You wonder if you can pick up women at the downtown bars, telling them you live in a haunted house—“Wanna check it out?” Right now, you’re amused by your own thoughts.
Moment 20: Living Dangerously NPR talks to you in the morning, all through the morning. You learn about the latest developments with the Ebola outbreak, you learn about the retirement community Harper Lee lives in, you get petitioned for donations by newscasters. You’ve placed two small speakers on the edge of the sink in the bathroom, next to the room’s only outlet, which the speakers need to run. You can shave and listen. You worried, briefly, that this was dangerous somehow, for you or the speakers, but some danger is necessary, you decide, even good. Live dangerously: leave those speakers by the sink.
Moment 21: Keeping Yourself Company You quietly admit, with heavy deliberation, that you are keeping yourself company.
Moment 30: This Absence A Presence There is a new sickness you’re familiarizing yourself with. This one comes with sudden transitions, crossing thresholds. After being gone for twelve or more hours you come home to the porch light you’ve left on for yourself. Past-you is watching out for future-you, and there is some vague hope that, when you pull in to the driveway, you will spot that other you peering out from a downstairs window, hopeful and glad you’re home. But the apartment is hollow, swirling with shadows, layers of vacancy. And this feeling comes after you, latches on to you like some small ugly child, now riding your back as you go through the paces—dropping your bags, kicking off your shoes, getting a glass of water, making that slow climb upstairs. The child is sick but clings fiercely to your neck, chokes you as you undress, and finally it alights when you throw back and slip beneath the blankets. This is who you curl up with at night, this absence a presence. You sleep on the right side, closest to the door, and a clump of pillows and blankets masses to your left, an almost-body.
Jesus Weed 02:56
Moment 48: Jesus Weed Isn’t weed supposed to get weaker with age? Jesus.
Moment 56: Abandoned Subway Your old crush took you to the abandoned subway, which is also a kind of art gallery. The two of you walked side-by-side, following ground-swallowed train tracks into a massive open-air-and-cement corridor, where you studied and read aloud from strata of graffiti. You stopped to talk about family over the Saranac pumpkin ale she’d brought in her bag. You watched other people walk into and emerge from the darkness ahead—trios of hard young punks, but then a father and his three daughters marched past and returned a half-hour later, and a couple resembling Disney World tourists snapped pictures from a ledge above. Everyone comes here, she said, and she took you past the spread of October daylight and into the ground, where you swept flashlight beams across still more words and art. Mystery surrounded you and deepened, the darkness now a cold and endless impossibility. She said she’d walked the length of the tunnel recently and came out the other side, but the two of you stopped only this far in, and turned back. She then drove you through the fallen leaves of her city, took you to favorite bars, a favorite coffee shop, an independent movie theater. You snuck candy in, bought baked goods and a Diet Coke at the concession stand, and, during the movie, she poured vodka from a mason jar into the cup. You coaxed each other with the straw, and when the mixture was gone she poured the rest of the jar in and the two of you drank it straight. She kissed you three times during the movie, you complained you’d missed an entire sub-plot, and the old man seated off to your left glared at you. That night, you searched for more pictures in the dark, feeling her body for the tattoos you couldn’t see. In the morning, you lingered (too long?), your hand resting on that favorite spot where waist bows into hip. Remember the comfort of this touch.
Sleep 03:55
Moment 60: Sleep What new phase is this? You crave sleep like you’ve never craved it before!—not with despondency or depression or defeat, but with a lavish desire steeped in something like longing, ardor, flirtation. Last night, you slept—what?—ten, eleven hours? And since then you’ve daydreamed of returning only to dreams. You want to lie on your back in your bed with the room growing cold around you. You want to wear your sleep mask and breathe quietly into the darkness. You want to play ghost stories on your phone so that the fear from others can lull you into a cozy warm sleep. All beneath two heavy blankets and the descending night and the ceiling overhead and the sky beyond that and the stars floating out there in space. Forget everything else, all your worries and fears and fantasies, and just be here, drifting, listening, your head filling up as your consciousness drains away and creates holes in the words. Oh how cold the blankets when you slip under them. Oh how warm the blankets when you slide awake.
Meat Stew 02:47
Moment 61: Meat Stew You do feel disconnected somehow. You worry briefly that you’ve developed some creeping disease, contracted some new and incurable horror. All your thoughts clunk down with grim finality. You feel like an iron maiden, a classically cruel closing metal thing with spikes on the insides. You hope this feeling passes. Perhaps you should start to work on feeling better. Perhaps this sickness has gone on too long and you’re now festering inside, turning to meat stew. Stop. Let yourself heal.
Moment 89: Horrible Things If you cannot get rid of your baser impulses, then perhaps you should restrict them. Your will is strong. Or can be, given that recent month without smoking, those weeks without drinking. How long could you go without masturbating? Days? Weeks? Months? You can’t imagine such freedom. But what happens to the male biology after years without sexual release? Horrible things, probably—if not for males in general then specifically for you, you’re sure. Briefly, castration is appealing.
Moment 98: Between E and F There’s that point in talking to someone when you turn a corner and they become a new person. You talk to each other and look at each other in this new way, like you’re meeting for the first time. Old pretenses down, new pretenses up. Your vision shifts perceptibly. All of it feels false, somehow, but you like the choosing of this new fantasy. You used to think in terms of “healthy” and “unhealthy” behavior, but that’s a false dichotomy. It’s more like you’re a broken dashboard needle jumping between E and F. You’ll land on the correct mark eventually.
Sick Again 02:35
Moment 125: Sick Again The antibiotics seemed to be working, but they left you weirdly wired, electric, and you didn’t sleep through the night because of the coughing. You called in sick and let your new crush nurse you back to health. She distracted you with conversation and food, but everything felt eerily familiar, overly familiar, and you fear she’s actually falling for you. How do you tell someone not to do that? In keeping yourself remote, you’ve made yourself a desirable mystery. The good plans always backfire.
Moment 129: Slices of You Your ex’s things have been set by the door. That large potted plant, her television and remote control, certain curtains and certain blinds and all their hardware, a box of mason jars, a shoebox containing essential oils and a diffuser, an oval mirror you’ve always liked, a check for half the cost of the dog’s medications, a few drawers with casters attached to the bottom, a bottle of Everclear (for making perfume or cologne). Much of this stuff has been sitting here for two weeks, ever since she asked you to gather them up. Originally, she was going to pick them up, then you were going to bring them to her, and now today finally her aunt is coming to collect them. This stuff has been in the way, cluttering the bottom of the stairs and sticking to the corner of your eyes as you move across the room. All of it is hers, but there are attachments to most of it that you can’t forget. Right now, there are fish swimming through your blood and sawing your insides with their fins. Slices of you are missing, floating free in the aquarium of your body, soon to be settling at the bottom.
Moment 144: Green Chaise Lounge, Part 2 (The Stonework Pit) You sit at the green chaise lounge and prepare material for work. To your right, on top of the pushcart nightstand that holds your art supplies: a turned-off lamp, a mason jar of lemon water, a cell phone. On the cell phone is a text from your new crush, a reply to a text you sent at 6:15 this morning in response to a text she sent you at 1:51 am. You deliberately hunch down into some reading, grind your teeth, stare at words. Text back now and you’re opening a stonework pit into your phone, something slime-slick on the insides and impossible to crawl back out of. You even know how, later, you’ll come up with little rules for navigating yourself—“Respond only in fifteen-minute increments,” or, “Double the amount of time she takes to respond to you to respond to her.” The pit breathes at you. No. Better to wait. Just sit here.
Moment 150: The Quality of Light Something feral with the quality of light down in here. It gets dark too early now, at five pm, then earlier, and you’re driving home on lonely country roads, black asphalt lit up like dusk, the side of the road glaring past, only allusions to the rest of the world. Or at work, there’s that little anteroom between the hallway and the bathroom, and when the two doors close you off from either side, there is this sudden urgent blood and bones wakefulness. Or back in high school, in that always-dark hall that connected all the art rooms, there, too, something came alive deep down in the underness of your skull. What is that? You think of stalking your new crush through a darkened apartment. Some primal, greedy lizard brain thing. Like you want to eat the world. Yes. Something feral with the quality of the light.
Moment 171: Constellations and Headstones Then she came back for an evening. The day had been warm, too warm—a false spring or a kind of tragedy before winter, a reminder of what you’ll be missing in just a few days. By the time she arrived, it was already early evening but full dark, with a breeze that had sent all the stars up across the sky and all the clouds blowing out past the space between constellations and rooftops. One night with a moon, not too long ago, you told yourself this was the kind of picture you wanted to walk through. So you took her out into the neighborhood and down the way, walked her through dark streets and past bright houses, staring through windows at empty lit rooms and sudden, perfectly still homeowners, each satisfied with his or her own complete house. You walked her down a trail made of old train tracks and were reminded of an abandoned subway station, though there was no graffiti here, no limitless black, just the breeze and a border of trees and the slow talk that comes out at such times. You walked her along a golf course and into the little cemetery near there, where the two of you lay amid the headstones and watched the sky and told what the clouds had to say to the stars. You picked out shapes. You daydreamed secretly of each other. It was a good night. It was an almost relationship. The clouds came in fast and heavy then, and you hurried back to your apartment, laughing, eager for that ever kissing and clutching necessity.
Moment 173: Statue of an Egg (Jesus Weed reprise) Then she came back for another evening. Chinese food, whiskey, weed, a movie, talking too much about things that don’t matter. Just a man and a woman slowly losing their minds together, that’s all. You wonder what it is that keeps the two of you stuck here like this, brushing up against each other as if any of it means anything. How often can you meet before something happens?—each nursing a separateness like some giant bird egg kept cradled in a shirtfront, pressed against the sternum, this part of you jealously guarded from the other. When it gets too late, she’ll have you follow her up the stairs and to the bedroom, to fuck her again and again, and still neither of you will be satisfied. The shell, instead of cracking, simply hardens, turns cold, becomes a statue of an egg only ever just about to crack. If only either of you had acted differently, better, sooner.
Moment 182: Green Chaise Lounge, Part 3 (This is the Place) Who knew you could still get so giddy over leftovers? Your pilgrim sandwich: a Kaiser roll from the store, a thin spread of mayonnaise, a layer of your father’s teriyaki-soaked turkey, clumps of your mother’s Stovetop stuffing, a smear of canned cranberry sauce. On the side, add some spicy chili Doritos and a glass of chilled diet soda pop, and you have the most enjoyable lunch in recent memory. In the green chaise lounge, the music swells and triumphs; outside the window, winter ebbs and flows, a deer runs past, the wind sways the wires. Bite and watch. Ahh. This is the place.
Geography 04:40
Moment 191: Geography It was shortly after the breakup and on a visit to your therapist friend that you contracted your illness, before all of this started. You were on the drive, halfway to your friend’s city, and she told you over the phone that she was coming down with something. But you were at the halfway point, an hour drive in either direction, and you really just needed to get away. So you visited her. The two of you avoided hugging hello, you washed your hands, tried to think of everything—except maybe the doorknobs, you realized later. And so you came home with a sickness that lived in you for two months. And your new crush has it. You’ve covered so much geography with this thing.
Moment 204: Quite Beautiful [the video shows a television displaying a bright video game map, then drifts to the hardwood floor:] You: “You’re seeing tracers on everything. And you are about to tell the girl in the room next door . . . that you think part of the problem with the two of you is you have these like artistic sensibilities, so the question becomes, Are you living for the sake of living, or are you living for the sake of having a story to tell? . . . It might not be the right word; it’s the right sentiment. Are you actually doing this—are you actually doing this just to be doing because this is what normal people experience and do, or more accurately are you only doing this so you have a story to tell later? That’s the screwed up thing. That’s not how normal people work. Normal people don’t think that way. That—that’s the truth. And I don’t think it’s bad. Actually, I think it’s quite beautiful. I think—I think it’s quite beautiful. I think it’s perfectly normal, and I think every . . . every generation, every age?—every age . . . needs that, needs people who remember the stories.”
Moment 222: Forgiven Yourself (You Are Not Alone reprise) So. It’s been two and a half months since you started this, and you with all your careful distractions, are you feeling any better? Have you forgiven yourself yet?


released July 9, 2015


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drummis New York

drummIs is an improvisational electronic musician. Most of what you hear on this site is played live in one track. Tools include the trapKAT MIDI controller, TD-5 drum brain, electric bass guitar, the RC-50 Looper, ME-25 effects, guitars, an iPad with too many apps, and a squeaky octopus. Located in upstate New York, he goes by Kurt Reymers, and is otherwise occupied as a professor of sociology. ... more

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