Author archive for Herman Merman

Little Poor Me 6

We expect the strangest things out of our lives.

We dream the strangest dreams.

Darkness intrudes itself on the brightest moments of our live, and light on the darkest.

You’ll find yourself thinking from almost one moment to the next that you’re the happiest of the saddest that you’ve ever been. The switch is so sudden that hindsight sheds little knowledge on what made it happen. Hindsight so often produces only cliches.

Cliches are hard to avoid, because they teach us how to thinking.

Thinking is overrated.

I find myself re-imaganing the entirely arc of my life, and it feels like deja vu. How many times have I done this? How many times have I reached out from sadness to find hope? How many times have I seen my own plans crumble in despair, only to watch the mass of them reform into a viable, and even more beautiful, alternative?

And, yet, each time it seems like an affront to my plans.

Each time it seems wrong and unnatural; until it does.

How does one apply this lesson forward? Looking back, when in happiness, I wouldn’t choose to exchange a moment of the past for a different present. Looking back, when in sadness, I would exchange almost any part of it.

What this should have taught me is that the future will always hold some unforseen, meaningful being that I will feel grateful to have. And, yet, that knowledge does nothing in times of despair. And, yet, the remembrance of that does nothing for me in times of delight.

This is the unresolvable. This is the hypocrisy of emotional existence.

So I know that. So I don’t chastise myself for the happy, the way I do for the sad. And, yet…

The past pulls back.

It pulls back so hard.

You find yourself resisting the easy lure of happiness for the pious martyrdom of sad regret.

This is the folly and the sin of hindsight. This is the seeming purity of the past, coveting the murky, complicated future. This is stale, terrible certainty that we allow to swallow the glorious, complicated uncertainty that is our birthright.

The future is in the past: yes. But not because we must look to the past to crave our future, but only because of the simple fact that it was. It was.

The only agency that the past has on us is that is led us to here. We should as soon pray to our footsteps before we enter any door, as venerate the past, or give it sway over what we do, or the decisions that we make, or the happiness we find.

Which is to say: I make a resolution to myself to find comfort in the comfort of the now. To accept the goodness of the good that is around me. To know that I have earned, through sadness, the happiness that I feel — when I feel it — in every little, and great, thing.

Our lives are complicated. And wonderful. And wonderful, because of the complication.

And that’s a simple way of putting it.

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Little Poor Me 5

The warp and weft of who we are and who we want to be:

Who we are is the strong, taut framework over which we stretch the idea of ourselves, until the two form a seamless, flowing cloth we wear when in good company, and bad, or alone.

But it’s all there.

The idea of ourselves is only ever held in place by the reality of ourselves which created it. The reality of ourselves is only ever kept from unravelling into chaos and madness by the careful pattern we call our identity.

This is the warp and weft of who we are, and who we want to be.

Nothing of this is bad: it’s human, and fine, and necessary. We can’t survive as pure animal reality, or untempered ideal. Each one tells a lie to the other, and so settles a truth between the two.

It’s the balance that matters.

Living life in a spare bedroom. I feel like a guest in my own brain.

That’s not me in the mirror. That’s some thing. Some terrible idea of a person, roughly packed into a mockery of the approved shape and style of humanness.

Those aren’t my words leaving my lips, and they’re not my ideas entering your ears. They’re just the quivering of genetic acids filthed through chance, packaged by time and place, and sold to you courtesy of the good people at General Electric.

It’s a dream fucking a nightmare.


But I’m doing alright. Nothing much. You?


Regret and hurt are the household gods I carry with me out of the house each day.

The those that done to you, and the that you’ve done to others. It’s the simple equation with the difficult math.

Given enough time, it becomes a spiral-shaped difficulty to remember if I hurt, or was harmed; if I acted out of self-defense, or was taking punishment for wrongs I inflicted.

I hit him, he came at me. Hysteron proteron.

It’s difficult to tell the cart from the horse, anymore.

It’s difficult to know why it matters.


Make plans and keep them; make promises and break them. Wear away your welcome, while there’s still a welcome to wear. You’ve made a bed somewhere, so sleep in it, or not. Or you haven’t, and don’t.

Those may be the only choices you really have.

This may only be the idea of a life, but it’s the only real idea we have of life at all. Everything here is fiction, but everything else is fantasy.

That’s why it matters.

It matters because it is.

Life limped its way into the most important thing we have, because it was the only candidate.

And we’re still trying to vote for something else.


So stain the world; it’ll wash out.

We’re the idiot-wanderers of the universe; regretful heirs to nothing in particular; drifting, ever drifting toward wine-dark sleep.

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A Ferocious Missive, Written From the Basement of My Brain

Friends and well-wishers: Go away.

You have more important things to do than to worry about me. And you’re already doing them.

I don”t mean to draw your attention to me — but I do. I always do.

It’s hard not to be the most important thing in my life. After all: I’m me.

What an entire shit it all is.

What a strange and stupid struggle.

What did we do to deserve such an interesting life? There were other possibilities less interesting that deserved more attention.

All of these are in-the-moment observations designed to keep the reader abay of the thing which is actually bothering me:

I miss the me who used to be me.

The realization is that that me was who he was because he was with another person.

I know: you’re crying a concerto of who-gives–a-shit? for me.

Luckily, very small finger movements of mine make small black scratches on a white space, which are words on digital non-paper, and they exist whether you read them or not.

Until the very moment I post this, I’ll be thinking about deleting it,

She exists completely in my mind, except for the fact that she’s real.

It must be nice for her to know she has her own life entirely more dimensional than how I think of her. But, to be honest I don’t think of her.

I only think about her.

I can only think of an idea. The reality is too painful.

People are too real. Why do they insist on being so real?

A while later:

I’m making chiasmic tap-tap patterns on my desk with my glass of bourbon. Tap-tap left. Tap-tap up. Tap-tap right. Tap-tap down. None of this makes a difference.

My tics are legion, but hidden little things.

Lines and pines is all I’m good for.

Care and leeway is all I want.

My thoughts are no more than barm, and my soul is no more than lees, and only alcohol separates the two.

Oh, who has a soul? Not me.

Souls are for the soulful.

Souls…are for the soul full.

Strutting through the telegraph rain on a city night. A radio-song heavy with history. The taste of this or that; food is life, is memory. Sleep.

She owns them all.

Sign your life’s experience over from Mine to Ours, and when Ours disappears, it takes Mine with it.

Nobody gets half of something that doesn’t exist anymore.

This whole shout is a disgrace: I shouldn’t be talking about any of it.

The thing is…

The thing is that the temple of our mind is a lonely worship. We’re always looking to expand the religion.

But am I talking about me, now? Or am I talking about Her?

Sometimes, what’s the difference?

Ah, well. Ah me, ah my.

I might as well be a child again, the way I hurt and limp and complain.

If you see me, and talk to me, I do an amazing impression of a human being. If we talk about this small and that large, know this: I’m lying. I’m lying because I’m not telling you what I’m thinking always, always.

The truth is, I’m thinking: Where is she? How is she? What is she doing?

What went wrong?

What a lone thing it is to be alone. What a careful thing it is to be full of care. What a…

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Little Poor Me 4

Who you are is a palimpsest of who you’ve been. Do a little digging under our carefully curated characters, and you’ll always find the embarrassing scrawl of our immature hand. We’re right to deny the existence of our past stupidities. Soon enough, we’ll deny we ever existed, merely sprung into existence; a parthenogenetic miracle full-birthed with wisdom and insight.

But, still, it’s all there.

Every dirty little bit. Every shitty opinion, and half-thought-through life-hate. Every petty grievance, and shameful failure, and craven desire. They’re us. They’re me. They’re the gratefully forgotten graveyard we built the foundations of ourselves on. But try to take them away.

There’s a neat trick: trying to pull the tablecloth out from under a carefully set life without disturbing the current meal we’re eating, with its just-so opinions, and hand-picked, locally sourced attitudes.

My eyes have so long been on the past that I find myself stumbling constantly into the future, unsure of what I’ve just tripped over until it’s behind me. There is a temptation here to think that I’m saying I live in a state of wistful wishing for the things I’ve done, places I’ve been, and people I’ve known. No…no, that’s not it. It’s only that the future frightens me, and the present discomfits and enrages me. The past is comforting only because I never have to do it again.

Nothing fits.

Nothing even remotely fits.

It all sits on you in a way that suggests your own failures with ever bind and catch. Imagine an ill-tailored suit that constantly tells you that the problem is that you’re the wrong shape to match it. That suit is my skin. That skin is my life. That life is the reflection if myself I catch for a fluttering and silly instant in the eyes of people around me, talking at me, looking for their own reflections.

Of course, there are exceptions:

The mercurial perfection of a great moment on stage.
An intimate laugh with a friend.
A bit of art that pulls me out of myself.
Lying in the arms of a beautiful woman, and smelling her hair, strange and grateful.

And others; and none of them, at the same time. Tomorrow, I’ll feel differently; and the day after, the same.


Keep a picture of who you used to be close to your heart, and look at it often. You could learn a thing or two from yourself.

But you probably won’t.

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Little Poor Me 3

Don’t get me wrong: mistakes have been made.

Love that passive voice, it really denies some responsibility.

But, if we can be honest: I have made mistakes. Many. Many upon many.

Mostly while drunk, let’s be honest. But, to be more honest, enough while sober to be ashamed. The fact is that drunk me knows that sober me has made, and sober me admits to the mistakes that drunk me has made. We complement each other. We give each other meaning.

I don’t know what I’m doing with my life, because it hasn’t told me yet. I’m listening very hard, but my life hasn’t spoken up. So I’m grasping in the dark, and holding on to anything solid. But there’s solid, and then there’s SOLID. The capitalized one is an imaginary solidity that I’ve invented to make myself feel better.

If that doesn’t make any sense, it’s because it shouldn’t. The point here is that we all have an idea. An idea of the real, or the good, or the right. An idea that’s an ideal — and it’s the L at the end that makes all the difference — an ideal of where we should be (and sometimes where we’ve been) or where other people are that we’re not as good as, or what we’re supposed to want.

Or something, or something, or something.

These are thoughts in a vacuum. They’re reflections of reflections; because, unless I can touch you, I can’t really tell you what I mean. I would have to hold you, and transmit it to you like a virus.

But then there’s this:

I know a man. A man who’s better than me. He’s one of many who are better than me, but he isn’t one of many in any other way. Because he’s wonderful.

He’s been through worse pain than I have ever been, and handled it better than I’ve handled the most minor pain in my life. He wears his intelligence lightly, like a hat, but he’s smarter than I’ll ever be. He’s fun and beautiful, and people talk about him when he’s not around, because they wish he was.

And I love him.

And I can never be him.

And I know it. So I try my hardest to be near him, and I try my worst to hurt him. Because, when I hurt him, he lessens, and grows closer to me; because I’m less than him.

This is a person. And it’s a specific person, and it’s a general person, and it’s a man, and it’s a woman. But it’s not me. It’s not even what I aspire to be. Not because It’s not what I want to be, but neither do I aspire to fly — because I can’t, and I won’t ever be able to. So I aspire to creep an inch or two ahead, not to leap the mile to where this man, and that woman, and those people who are so much farther ahead, and human, and warm, and strange, and important than I’ll ever be by a long shot.

So I sit and drink, and think and write.

I read and watch, and want and need.

And I’m alone, because you’re out there and I’m in here. Except you’re alone, too, because you’re in there, too. In your mind.

But I’m more alone than you are. So I win…

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