Ramadan Diaries, Day Four

“Bowl with G.W. monogram.” Smithsonian Institution. NYPL Digital Collections.

M. texts, “It’s the first few days that are the hardest.” Anticipating difficulty is harder than just going through it.

♦︎

Awareness of the rhythms of the day, particularly the degrees of light in the sky. Daybreak comes earlier each day as nightfall descends. These quotidian rhythms do contain an element of the poetic, but they whittle down to the science of the clock. 4:04. 4:03. 4:02. The morning stretches backward. 20:04. 20:05. 20:06. The night falls forward. Like splitting atoms set against a kaleidoscopic sky, the day stretches out in reverse. The duration of the day is daunting at first, but I become reassured. Why, I can’t say. But there is something comforting in being attuned to minuscule diurnal changes. Something has slowed down, disrupting my comprehension of the passage of time.

It is one thing to write this, and another to experience it. Often I am caught in a cinematic high angle, my chin pointed to the sun.

♦︎

I write a list of words in a notebook whose thread line I can’t right now decipher:

complacency

stupefaction

ambition

attention

control

♦︎

I have a theorem that there are only four states of being in New York: hungry, sleeping, horny, or working. With at least two of these benched for around 18 hours a day, I attempt to focus on working. Sometimes I am successful, but the promise of sleep lurks nearby like a patient and calculating cat.

♦︎

My students are reading Henri Michaux’s Miserable Miracle, based on a rigorous account of his experiences with mescaline. I call it a sensory document, pairing it with Audre Lorde’s The Cancer Journals. I have memorized Michaux’s phrase, “dull things becoming transformed.” If there’s a pointlessness to pointing out the point of life, this phrase punctuates my thoughts as a salvo of justifications.

♦︎

Cowboy thoughts.

I am listening to one of my favorite remakes: the Brazilian band Vanguart’s cover of “Cowboy Fora da Lei” by Raul Seixas. I get into a loop with this song where I have to hear it over and over again until its dissolution. I use it up until it evaporates, tucking it away for another month, another year, where I’ll feed voraciously on it again.

Spontaneously, I look up the etymology of the word “maverick.” So named for Samuel A. Maverick (1803-1870), a Texas rancher known for refusing to brand his cattle. What a find.

There is a news article on “Black Cowboys of the Old Wild West,” and the erasure of Black outlawry from popular culture and American mythology. I don’t believe in coincidence, and my mind ponders how many more cowboy things will pop up today.

♦︎

Come the appointed hour, I am betrayed by my own expectation of a large appetite. I toast two pieces of rye sourdough bread and brush them with avocado slices. Some cucumber and tomatoes, almond-milk based cheese, a bowl of Castelvetrano olives. There is a vegetable miso soup from the day before but I can’t touch it. Even the sandwich feels too large. Dessert seems out of the question. S. texts: “Make sure you’re drinking TONS of lemon iced tea, it’s going to become your friend.” I alternate between hot water, vitamin-infused cold water, and mint iced tea, my lust for thirst seemingly unquenchable.