Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cherries, all of us

I haven't seen the moon in nights.  There is just the grey phosphorescent hole in the billowing darkness where it should be.  Where it was.  Where it used to be, 1.3 seconds ago.  The mind crumbles at such perpetual vagueness.  Rain makes life less distinct, yet gives certain emotions distinction.  

Funny, that.  

We are born into the doom of distractions.  


Don't tread on me

Not much time to write today.  We will strike out on an adventure of some sort.  It's raining and will be raining all day today.  Seems unlikely that we will be able to drive far enough to escape it.  But with my only day off I refuse to sit in the apartment all day and just watch it through the windows.  That's what I've been doing far too much of lately.  The rain here is not like the rain in New York at all.  Here it is a season.  There it is an event, with one rain being separated from another by dryness, clearness of sky.  

I should have known.  It is a valley system and the entire bay area unique in its odd climate regions and changes.  It makes sense that there would be both microclimate diversity and seasonal patterns, considering the proximity to the coast and the range in elevation, the many valleys, mountain lines and inland waters.  But it didn't really occur to me until living here.  None of it did.  I have lived too long in the city, where there are only 4 seasons, and occasional gifts of weather peppered here and there.  Before moving to Sonoma valley I was reading about the place and discovered that it gets about 30" of rain each year.  I forgot all about this once I got here and it was just endless slices of sunshine, days of heaven.  

All 30" have dropped in the last 3 weeks, it seems.

On part of the road driving out of the valley, up towards the bay, there is a fenced off section that has filled with rain water.  I had noticed it before but assumed it was for a certain type of corralling, for the cows.  Branding, slaughtering, castrating, or something less dramatic, I told myself.  Not until the perpetual rains, with the fenced area filling to form a new lake, had it dawned on me that it was put up as an understood yearly estimate of the rain's reach.  They predicted well, the newly formed lake comes right to the edge of the fence now.  If the rain stops soon, as everybody claims that it will, then the cows will be prepared to make their delicious transition from cattle to livestock.

I witnessed a strange migration of sorts yesterday on my drive towards the peninsula.  There was an entire herd of black cows all walking due west.  There were no herders there, or dogs, or anything at all that I could see that had caused it, or was causing it.  Just one massive bovine exodus, headed for the other side of the field.  Maybe a snake spooked a few of them and the movement took hold based on fear, instinct and partial knowledge - like the Tea Party.  

Friday, March 30, 2012

Eye of the Leper

I should preface all that I'm writing today with the disclaimer that I get easily annoyed at people paying attention to their phones at the expense of others, whether this is at a dinner table, or a bar, or driving, or crossing the street, or anything else.  I wouldn't go so far as to say it is quite a pet-peeve of mine, but I find it selfish and irritating that people are willing to waste your time by inconveniencing you in this way, either by being distracted or by sending you the subtle message that you simply don't matter as much to them as the Angry Birds app, etc.  It's a similar feeling produced by people who are habitually late.  It sends a message, and the message is clear.  

As I get older I recognize that lots of people look down as they're walking, even when they're not looking at the their phones.  When I was young I would often hear people telling me to "look up" when I walked.  I wasn't aware that I was doing it, but clearly I was.  I recognize that now.  

So yesterday, as I was walking to get a coffee at the beginning of my day, I was crossing the "street" that surrounds the mall.  As always, I looked both ways and saw a small blue car coming from one direction, possibly a Toyota Corolla.  I had plenty of time to cross, so I did.   I cut directly across the two lanes of mall "street" towards the sidewalk on the other side.  I checked the phone that was already in my hand to see if Rachel had texted while I was in the car.  As I put my foot up, just as I hit the the curb on the other side, I noticed the car that had been coming had already made it almost to me and was coming to a somewhat abrupt stop.  Though not quite slamming on the brakes there was definitely a feeling that the car required some attention.  

I glanced up and there was a woman in the car with both of her hands outstretched, palms facing emphatically upwards, giving me the, "What the hell?" gesture and look.  I returned the same to her.  She rolled her window down.

"Why don't you not look at your phone while you're crossing the street?" She inquired.

I leaned down so that we could better converse through the car window.

"Why don't you keep your hands on the wheel when you're driving?"

"You're crossing a street!"

I leaned closer to the car, stopping just short of putting my hands on the car door to steady myself.

"I've already crossed it, actually. Did you speed up, only so that you could slow down, just to tell me that in some sort of sign-language through your windshield?  That was very kind of you, but I won't be need any 'life-coach' services today.  Also, you should always keep your hands at 10 and 2.  It's a really poor driving habit to take both hands off of the wheel, especially when you're accelerating or decelerating."

She didn't like the tone of this at all.  Clearly she was not used to being talked to this way.

"Well, I shouldn't have to slow down and roll down my window to tell you all of this.  You're a grown man for christ's sake!"

"So, were you mad that you had to slow down for me?  That you were forced to comply to a law and that I didn't bow to your doing so with grateful acknowledgement?  You really should have hit me, you almost had the chance.  If you would have just sped up a little bit more you might have been able to clip me before I made it all the way to the curb.  I mean, I WAS looking at my phone, nobody would have cared, certainly nobody would have blamed you for it.  You are the victim here."

At this point I thought for sure she was going to try to make a "citizens arrest."  It would not have surprised me at all if she had a trunk filled with an arsenal of mace, handguns, field artillery, restraining devices, whips, candles, dildos, who knows.  She was clearly somebody that was used to having control over those around her.  She was trying to nag me into compliance. 

Before she could mount a disciplined response to my latest suggestion, that she should have hit me, I decided to defuse the situation.  "Well, it looks like everybody survived here. There's probably no need to call the police, unless you want to file a report?"

"Oh, I am going to report you, don't worry, asshole."  

"What's the penalty for crossing the street here?  I just got out of prison and wouldn't want to have to report this to my parole officer.  She's a real nasty fucking cunt.  It'd be great if we could keep this...."

I wouldn't have been able to hear her response.  She "chirped" the wheels pulling away.  It almost scared me, that a Corolla could even do that.  I was still somewhat at a distance from any type of coverage that might have been able to stop a car.  I thought she might just be pulling forward to build up speed to take me up on my offer, to run me down like a mutt.  I envisioned myself sprinting, crazed through the outdoor mall, trying to escape a demented driver that clearly had had enough, and finally decided it was time to take action.  

No more waiting, no more trying, no more talking.

I didn't wait to find out.  I never wanted to discover if I was going to live or die based on my ability to sprint.  I've tried to avoid that test.  I took quick notice of any distant concrete structure that could serve as a shelter.  There was a Macy's and a Nordstrom's, both equal distances.  I walked swiftly towards Starbucks to get a morning coffee.  It did occur to me that with my shaved head and somewhat intense demeanor that I might look like a skinhead, to some.  

I wondered what it felt like to be shot from a distance by a police marksmen's rifle.  I emptied my head of all other thoughts as I got my coffee, then I kept a steady pace towards the time clock.  After all, nobody likes to be late for work.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

The future has spoken

Another day spent driving through paradise.  Working any schedule has its own peculiarities to it. But working a schedule that changes all of the time, without any consistency from week to week, brings with it a unique character unlike what I imagine the doldrums of a set schedule must be like.  To wit, last night I worked late, today I work early.  Even though there are the same amount of hours worked both days, and an equal amount to my counterpart who works a set schedule, it feels very different.  It feels as if I've been robbed out of some time this morning, time that I'll never psychologically recover, even though I will have more free hours after work tonight, ostensibly to do so. 

Just as only working five days a week, but having your two days off spread out from one another so that the months cycle by as if there were only perpetual attendance at work, is very different from having two days off each week, preferably Saturday and Sunday.  Unless you've never worked a randomly rotating schedule you can't possibly know what it is like.  It feels like being trapped in a clothes dryer that occasionally stops, hiccups, then starts back up again, only to stop 3 or 1 or 2 or 4 days later, only to start back up again the following day.  But you never really get the feeling that you've been able to leave the clothes dryer, only that it has stopped for a moment and the motion sickness will briefly subside.  It's like I'm stuck on a carousel of labor with the crazy carnival music blaring, the painted faces advancing and receding in a nightmarish delirium of sensibly timed and moderate income.

That last sentence finished itself.  I don't even know where those words came from.  It's as if the mighty holy majestic astral workforce spirit was channeling me, and I merely its humble daily vessel...  Once completed, it felt as if my soul had commuted back from a great ways away.  I was in a strange faraway reflective place where all of my efforts to help others were greeted with jeers.

Ok...  I was warned yesterday morning about writing such things.  The future has spoken.



Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The mommy gland

So, I finally get the "sleeping like a baby" cliche.  They can sleep anywhere, in the face of all your plans, unexpectedly, with little regard to either noise or motion, and there's nothing you can do about it.  Well, nothing that you will do about it.  Yesterday we sat in the car, in a supermarket parking lot, then drove around aimlessly, all to let the boy sleep where he was, in his car seat.  It was yet another rainy day, as is today, so far.  What else were we going to do?  The little guy is really starting to like us.  He seems so happy to meet our eyes, to be near us, to hear our voices.  For the first two months he was somewhat oblivious.  I thought that maybe he was just being dismissive of me.  It turns out that this is all quite normal.  All babies are contemptuous of their parents.  It's science.

I joke, of course.  But it's a partial truth.  The first couple months we were lucky to have his eyes meet ours and even when they did there seemed to be no spark of recognition.  That's all changed now.  He seems to love nothing more than looking at, and being talked to, by myself and Rachel.  He even mimicked me yesterday, though that very well might have been entirely coincidental.  I said, "Hi!" to him and he echoed the sound back to me.  I'm certain it was just chance and he seems far too young to actually be trying to mimic sounds yet, but Rachel and I didn't care. We were swooning with love for him.  It's really amazing, the feeling of connection that's developing.  To see the recognition of us in his eyes is staggeringly wonderful.

Ha! Coincidentally, I just got a call from Selavy.  He was reminding me that my life is not my own any longer, and nobody will want me to express anything but love for the child and the wife on this site any more. There will be no room left on here for me.  Expressing anything - individual, unique or worse, unpleasant - about myself will be increasingly discouraged.  In time I will only be recounting how happy I am to be going to work.  He assures me of this.  Not that I will actually be happy about going to work, but it will exclusively become the thing that people will allow me to write about, job happiness and security.

Just as I was going to begin the third paragraph of this post the call came in.  I was going to write about how much I resent going to work, not because I hate the job, but because I want to spend more time with the boy, and with Rachel.  I rarely get two days off consecutively any more, so each day exists under the pressure to make the most of it, in whatever way I can.  Whether I succeed or fail matters very little, work returns the next day and I am off and running again into it.  Always running to or from it.  

Ah, to enjoy the daily glow of love... I just went and took Rhys out of Rachel's arms and held him.  Moving him around one too many times, attempting to find the best way to hold him, he started to cry.   I tried to console him but it was no use.  He began to howl in spasmodic bursts. A sort of infant wailing, punctuated by convulsions of dissatisfaction.  Only titty was going to get us out of this one.  Titties take the tears away.

We notice that some of what Rachel eats makes its way through the breast milk to Rhys and upsets his stomach.  So I'm trying to convince Rachel to only ingest baby formula but she's not as warm to the idea as I am.  I have come to view her body as a wonderful opportunity in child-raising experimentation, a living and breathing lab from which I can safely test, and take note of the various results.  She is much more tempered in her curiosity of such things.  She is the Felix Unger to my Oscar Madison when it comes to how the child will be fed, fastidious in her daily approach to nursing.  

It is a wonderful thing to witness though, the calming therapeutic effect of titty time. 


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Red, Newt and Blue

I already miss Newt Gingrich.  Things were really starting to be a lot of good old-fashioned political fun there for a while.  But now Santorum and Romney are just acting like a couple of over-sped Jesus freaks.  One self-admitted, one closeted.  I mean, they say and do all of the same stupid stuff, but it doesn't have as much panache as when Newt does it, or says it.  Or, when he grins and grimaces it, tilting at sawmills, rippling his mighty jowls at poverty.

He gives us a beady-eyed glimpse into the future, with one soft rounded fang clamped onto the grizzled leg of the past.  He is a true student of the modern political form.  So pulpy and muddled and round-headed that it's almost hard to believe that he descended from even larger mistakes.

Santorum would propose colonizing the moon too, if he thought it might help his chances.  But then you just know at some tent rally he'd screech that, "Once in office we'll colonize the moon with all of the jobless homosexuals..."  Then, suddenly it just wouldn't be fun any more.  He's that guy.  He sucks all the fun out of the room if you let him talk for too long.  Poor Romney probably thinks that we already have colonized the moon.  I'm sure it ties into Joseph Smith's legacy somehow.  Yep, I just looked it up.  Smith claimed that the moon was inhabited, the same as earth, and that he would one day preach his gospel there too.  Amazing.

Very soon John Kerry and Mitt Romney will have lots to nod silently together about, and then buy up the future together, with Nancy Pelosi as their realtor, à la Annette Bening in "American Beauty."  I will sell this country today... They're not done, they're just all done with us.  Who knows for sure....  I only know that I was laughing a lot more when Newt was still visible in the political spectrum.  It was like watching an albino lunar eclipse every night on tv... It was really special when synchronized with Pink Floyd's, Dark Side of the Newt.  You'd see it coming, the moon would turn red, then it would pass, return to normal, and only a few people would talk about it the next day.  Crazy, I know.  But I saw it with my own eyes.  He's a werewolf that only returns to human form once a month. 

When Newt refused to recant his statements about "black people" on welfare... even after it had been pointed out to him that the majority of the welfare recipients that he was assessing were not "black" but were white, on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, on national television, to a "black" moderator, during a republican debate for the upcoming nomination of presidency...  I mean, where have all the good times gone?

Once you got past the initial audacity and shock of it, it was really funny to watch.  He's like the Michael Jordan of politics.  He's changed the way the game is played, he's made himself noticeable and memorable, he has massive sponsorships, he talks more shit than any other player in the game, he intimidates other players even when he is weak, perhaps then most of all, and..... he implicitly understands that, "republicans buy shoes too."*  

Newt is the new Nike.  Just say it.

Reagan never forgets...

I realize that he has no chance at all in this race, and he must have known or suspected this all along. He's just further peddling the idea of his proximity-of-power, nothing more.  He has a sweatshop built into his pituitary gland.  He is clearly a man of industry.  Callista and Newt envision a world of deep honesty about race, and the subsequent denouncement of races.  If he could just let his truth about minorities run free then minorities might one day understand.  If they can only learn to speak the right language.  If, my constituents, if....

His biography should be called The Audacity of Choke (A genuine understanding of Americans, and history, as seen though the asphyxiated politics of others).  America, Newt is ready...

I mean, it didn't matter what subject came up he would find a way of being the very model of an ignorant ass.  I keep hearing conservatives jabber about how informed he is about "history," and how much they really respect him for that.  One aspect of history that he doesn't seem to have studied very well is failed political campaigns.  When you're discussing child labor perhaps it's a bad idea to suggest that poor under-aged students should get paid to clean up their own schools, underneath the loving tutelage of a "master janitor"....  

Or,  that your infidelities were the by-product of a deep-seated patriotism and dedication to your country.  Santorum doesn't know how to cheat, Romney probably doesn't even have to.  Is there a Brigham-Barby-Doll that comes, or politely doesn't, with unsoiled temple garments and apologetic missing mystery genitals?  

"Latter Day Saints", think about that phrase.

Bill Clinton was not one of my favorite presidents but I happened to really enjoy my life during his presidency. This perhaps gives a false sense of credence and accomplishment to his presidency.  But they were basically eight warless years, just like Reagan's term.  It turns out that people really do like peace and prosperity.

But it must be a riot to sit and watch Newt's recent public disasters unfolding in slow motion with old Bubba Clinton.  He thinks on his feet, he has an easy and quick wit, and seems to have a much better grasp on political maneuvering than Newt has ever had, or will ever have.  It'd be like watching Wayne Gretzky beat the hell out of Elmer Fudd at air-hockey, or Mario Andretti in a winner-takes-all go-kart death derby with Wile E. Coyote.  Ok, Repubs, it'd be like watching Reagan beat Gorbachev at both Monopoly and Battleship at the same time.

Keep in mind that Newt was spearheading a movement to oust Bubba for infidelities while he was actually cheating on his own wife.  His own dying wife, I meant.  See, the laughs just never stop with the Newtron-onominator.

Holy Crap. I just did a search on Newt, trying to find some news to wrap this post up with, and a YouTube clip came up in which Chris Matthews sums it up best, "He's got that crazy Mephistophelean grin of his.  He looks like he loves torturing."



Some Newt highlights: 

"The problem isn’t too little money in political campaigns, but not enough."

"The idea that a Congressman would be tainted by accepting money from private industry or private sources is essentially a socialist argument."

"I have enormous personal ambition. I want to shift the entire planet. And I'm doing it. I am now a famous person. I represent real power."

"I'm not a natural leader. I'm too intellectual; I'm too abstract; I think too much."

"We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto."

* - An apocryphal quote attributed to Michael Jordan when he refused to speak out in opposition to Jesse Helm's re-election campaign for a North Carolina Senate seat in 1990.

Monday, March 26, 2012


(1 second shutter speed)

I'm torn between writing about Madonna being an advocate for ecstasy at the Ultra music festival or the Supreme Court's considering oral arguments against the individual mandate of "Obamacare"...  Since I don't know that much about either I'll opt for writing about my hatred for 10% of the people who live in Marin County.

No, I feel like I've already done that.  I have jotted down a few notes to further elucidate, but I suppose I'm just not in the mood for it today. I've tired of my writing of melancholy, and my pictures of flowers, which has been partly parody, part hyperbole, part joke, part truth.  But the intended audience didn't seem to get it, or care.  One must be careful when writing about one's feelings once you have a child.  Depression is no longer an acceptable admission.  It worries the minds of those who love me.  Though oddly it does so much more now than it did before.

My friend, Lisa, took me on a hike the other day. She wanted to get me out of the house, to save me from said depression. We went up to Sugarloaf and hiked the stream up to the waterfall, then we hiked the other direction up the side of the mountain, in search of a mythical tree she had once seen.  The mud and the steepness of the trail eventually forced us to turn around, partially victorious. We got a very nice view of the summit high above us and we saw a sign that marks the trailhead that leads up to the Ferguson observatory.

(ISO 200, f11)

We stopped just a few hundred paces beyond the clearing below, where the decision was made that further hiking involved greater risk of encountering steep muddy trails. Our shoes and the bottoms of our pants were already covered in fresh mud, much of it seeping through my thin Japanese Adidas trainers.  The soles of my shoes were never meant for hiking and they had been worn considerably smooth since I had gotten them several years before. There were some parts of the trail that made me feel like I was hiking with two slices of pizza on my feet, both facing downwards.  It brought a small measure of excitement to think that at any moment $2000 worth of camera and lens could be destroyed in one small individually wrapped mudslide.

This small meadow seemed to sit between two larger peaks, both accessible by trail, though only with a continued effort that neither of us seemed eager to expend.  I was telling Lisa how a wide aperture setting determines focal length (below) and how shutter speed affects objects in motion and exposure (far above).  When speaking about photography I still feel that much of what I'm saying is being made up on the spot.  But when I went back after our hike and looked it all up I was surprised at how accidentally truthful I had been.

(Lisa, in focus, fuzzy field in the distance)

Once done with the trail I promptly drank a bottle of wine, partially filled a cyclist's water bottle with brandy, and headed off to work.  I had foolishly gotten my hopes up a little bit that I would be getting an award for service, recognition for dedication, something....  Silly me.  They don't reward people like me with anything so sacred as formal or informal gratitude.  Instead, I was told that no award had arrived, that perhaps it mistakenly got mailed to New York.  Seems possible, I suppose.  I mean, companies get things wrong all of the time.  They hired me.


Sunday, March 25, 2012


Sleep helps.  I awoke today and the sky seemed a little less grey than last night.  Ha!  Last night it wasn't grey at all, it was black.

Today is almost a day off from work for me.  I still have to work, but not very much.  Sometimes it is difficult to separate what is depression and what is merely frustration from my job.  Despondency is never far away.  Wilde said, "The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one."  He was a clever man, of course, though not clever enough to keep himself out of prison.  Gaol.  I've made the reading recommendation before here but I'll make it again, De Profundis.  It's also worth reading about the conditions under which it was written.  Jacques Barzun has written a book and an essay that are worth considering.

I'll admit, I don't have much to write about.  I've felt this way for weeks now.  I'm struggling to find subjects and I am meandering, sometimes on silly fictionalized tangents.  I have been occupied with the purchasing of this townhouse.  Not with the details, which have been almost exclusively dealt with by Rachel, but with the feeling of enormity, the burden of responsibility.  In less than three years time we've gone from being broken up, to being an occasionally troubled couple, to being married, to moving from NYC to CA, to being parents, to being homeowners.  Much of that list, and the most important changes, have occurred in the last 3-6 months.  I keep calling Rachel a "homo wiener" because it is phonetically similar to "homeowner."  I suppose my mind still reels at the duty of ownership.  

I said "doody"...

Ok, I just thought I should write a quick note today and dispel the suicidal mania of last night's post.  I read it this morning and wanted to talk with myself about my feelings, to sit down and have a tea, and chat.     


You'll always have somewhere to stray

The rain is getting to be too much, it's gaining on me.  Depressing and dull.  I am not one that flirts easily or well with misery, only often so.  Melancholy sinks me in a way to which others seem immune;  a cuckold to despair.  Driving again today into the rain, then driving home in it unchanged, unhinged.  It is ceaseless, dismal and dense - a frustrating end of the spirit, ripe with yet unmade errors.

I walked to the car and the clouds sat heavy and low across the bay.  I looked out towards San Quentin but it was no longer visible, a terrible dream vanished, only a mile away, unseen.  Just water disappearing into cloud and fog, then a sightlessness unmissed.

The ashen murk stretches from horizon to horizon, in all directions equally, sitting heavily but not motionless above, stealing the dark mountain line from view. The silhouettes indiscernible, then diffuse, then lost.  It is a grayness that lets little of day's light through, yet all of night's darkness passes without complaint, without struggle.  It is something unthinkable, or worse.  

It would be called despondency were I not writing this, not thinking this through.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

season against season

The rains have returned, this time seemingly for good.  The weather app shows rain for the next 10 days.  The visible future from the perspective of a phone.  This is the un-talked about season in Sonoma.   Before moving here I never heard anybody say that it rains for weeks on end.  I had thought that it only politely rained while everybody was sleeping, like a well-maintained sprinkler system on Disney property.  In my mind Sonoma was like one of those postcards of Florida sunshine, but set in California, with little clusters of oranges the size and color of grapes, growing on vines, with no alligators there to protect them.  A whole state built upon endless sunshine, fermentation and perpetual celebration.

I wrote earlier about two rows of sakura trees as they were making their lovely late fall transition to cherry blossom.  Now, their colors have shifted to a dark magenta of the departed season, almost the color of a red wine.  Each day I drive by, wanting to stop and take a picture.  They line both sides of a one-lane drive that leads north off of the main road towards the center of the flat valley, then following a curve behind a small group of trees that obscure the road's ending, they disappear in unison.  The view is tempting, the path inviting.  But each day I am rushing in and out of the valley, possessed by time, making instant daily decisions to just keep driving, to just get there, to not suddenly slam on my brakes and veer to the side, wrestling the car into submission, one hand reaching for the camera.

I am held to the road by the grip of the rhythm of rock and roll, or bluegrass and country, or electronic dance music, or sometimes even talk radio - with me banging the dashboard and blasting my horn in agreement or rebuttal, screaming occasional spittle into the passing rains.  The road's curves I have memorized in both  the light and the dark.  But for an animal occasionally making its crazed dash from one side to the other there is little danger in taking the curves as fast as they can be taken, even in rain.  Once I've passed the cops that hide nightly off the road that leads away from the highway I set my cruise control for a spot on the border between what is legal, what is speeding, and just below what is pull-over worthy... perhaps foolishly believing myself to have it all figured out, and them along with it.  

None of this is to say that the valley has died the death of a normal winter, awaiting its spring in sparse grayness, or mourning.  The picture above was taken just two days ago, the picture below only a few feet away on the same day, just outside our door.  The valley is a mystery, the winter only seems to pass through some of the flora here, other plants seem to celebrate the winter as if it were a perpetual spring.  Everywhere there is the gentle explosion of colorful change, of life.  The hills turned a bright green and will return to a golden brown for the summer, surprisingly their richest in mid-winter.  Everywhere there are the colors of autumn mixed generously with the new blossoms from the wellspring.  Where else might there be a place that is so full of side-by-side contradictions - except, of course, the human heart.


Friday, March 23, 2012

I wouldn't say I've been missing it....

Well, things change.  After getting the news that our counter-offer had been accepted on the house we got a call from the bank a few hours later, wanting to know why there were so few weeks that I had worked 40 hours since moving to Sonoma.  We explained that we had a baby and that making the transition has been difficult, and that Rachel needed help along the way here and there with things she was incapable of doing while pregnant, and I occasionally got sick.   All reasonable explanations for missing hours here and there.

Nope.  A bank wants to see a very different type of behavior. They gravitate towards consistency and I do not represent their definition of the term.  Now we're waiting to hear the difference in the amount that we've been approved for to buy the place, potentially meaning that we will have to put much more money down.  Money we have but money we were very excited to not have to use for the downpayment.  We will see.  We should know more by later today.

Yesterday I went from ecstatic buoyancy to dispirited gloom when I looked up my attendance history and realized that they were quite right.  I am not a model citizen, not even close.  I am amazed that I still have a job, in fact.

But my day went from euphoric joy to a discouraged dejection in a matter of minutes.  I spent the remainder of the afternoon sipping beer, wine, then whiskey, late into the night.  I'll be amazed if I make it into work today.  Though Rachel has encouraged me with a seriousness that is impossible to mistake.  She has a new gravity of earnestness concerning my work attendance, specifically today, as this will be an 80 hour pay period if I can somehow make it through the evening.  I will put on a smile and pretend that there are not monkeys beating the back of my head with wiffle-ball bats all day.

Bob Porter: Looks like you've been missing a lot of work lately.

Peter Gibbons: I wouldn't say I've been *missing* it, Bob.

Office Space


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Consider the Ravens

Many of my friends are at the Winter Music Conference in Miami right now.  It's a yearly event that Rachel and I used to enjoy, whether alone or together, for many years.  It's where I first met her, in the winter of 1998.  She had just turned 23 and was dating a friend at the time.  After being briefly introduced we were chatting, she was being quite animated, swinging her hands.  She swung her hand into my crotch.  It was entirely accidental and I thought nothing of it. Though later that night I told my friend, Chris Fortier, who happened to be dj'ing at the event, that I was going to "have sex" with that girl.   Though I might have used a different descriptor, the popular "f" euphemism.  That's when my friend told me that she was dating another friend, so I left it at that and didn't think too much more about it.  

Years later, after we were dating off and on, the friend reminded me of the claim I had made the night Rachel and I met.  I had completely forgotten, but remembered saying it once I was reminded of it.  He was envious of the apparent ease with which I made the claim and then saw it through to completion, telling me so.  Looking back now it is funny, of course.  I was an obnoxious fool and took great pride in being so.  She doesn't remember this first encounter at all, but she vividly remembers the next one, which supports the obnoxious fool assertion.

My friends, Jon and Barry, were in a cab with Rachel, headed somewhere.  She was dating Jon.  They had flown over from Manchester where they owned and operated a label together.  I hijacked the cab with 3 or 4 girls, stuffing them all in as we were mutually headed to some event.  I began giving orders and deciding on the route that should be taken.  Rachel had to be stopped several times from telling me what she thought of me.  She was being "hushed" in the back seat without my knowledge.  I was oblivious, in the front seat with two girls sitting on my lap.  I had my own concerns to contend with and had little time or consideration for much else.  When we arrived at the event I collected the girls that I was with and walked away from the cab, leaving Rachel and her co-label owners to pay.  

She hated me, she says.  She brought it up several times later in the evening, how arrogant and rude she thought that I was.   I knew nothing of this, of course, until years later, when she excitedly told me of her first memory of me.

Things changed.  She started coming to New York and hearing my dj'ing sets, she began to listen to the electronic music work that I was making.  She started another record label, Viscous, to release material that I created with Jon and Barry, which precipitated regular visits to Manchester, where we became friends.  I would lie in bed with her talking until we fell asleep, never trying to seduce or persuade her, or even get her drunk to allow the process to happen in its own slurry time, though we did frequent the local pub before retiring for the night.  She fell in love with me there in her bedroom, though I didn't know it at first.  I liked sleeping with her, and talking with her before sleep, and then again in the mornings.  Life was much less lonely with her.

Rachel decided to spend one summer in New York, to study.  I helped her find an apartment which was conveniently on the same street as I lived, though a few blocks to the west.  A comfortable walk home, a comfortable return.  By this time she had broken up with her previous boyfriend, though they still managed the label together and were very close.  One night after going out to hear a friend perform we were given a car ride home. As I was getting out I held her hand and insisted that she come with me.  She feigned resistance, not having to suspect or imagine what would happen that night, as I had already told her.  We went upstairs where I gave her a very nice bible that I had little further use for.  We talked and listened to music, then retired for the evening, changing our lives forever.

In the morning I convinced her to ditch school for the day. We ordered pizza and watched movies together. My recollection is that it was a rainy day and we had no reason to leave the apartment, but I might be romanticizing it a bit with the imaginary rain.  The day was spent as the occasional days of lovers should be, without distractions we began to fall in love.

Later, back in Manchester, the bible was among a stack of books by her bed.  Needing a title for a track we were working on I opened the book and searched for inspiration, not expecting to find any.  I opened to the red letter text of Jesus and my eyes fixed upon this verse:

Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!

Luke 12:24-28

Indeed, who of you by worrying will add a single hour...

As I finished writing this post we got the news that they've accepted our offer on the town-house we were hoping to buy.  

Life is uncanny, just consider the lilies of the field...


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Static where there used to be hair

My life is filled with noise now, static to be exact.  Everywhere we go there is some device generating imprecise pink or white noise;  ever voluminous, without meaning.  It calms the child down: presumably, acceptably, understandably, sometimes, emphatically.

We have it in the bedroom, a "Sleep Sheep" plays a selection of whales-oceans-rains-and-forests, we can monitor it from afar in the kitchen or bathroom with the "First Years" one-way radio tele-sponders, there is an extra i-phone to be used in the stroller, always only a pocket away lie apple products.  In the car we tune to a location previously avoided over the course of a lifetime, situated perfectly between stations we perform the inexplicable: we turn up the radio to a nearly deafening measure of minor fuzzy mischief.

Then comes the occasional peace.

Left, of course, after all this forlorn loving, there is mother's mouth, ever shushing.






This sort of noise used to madden me.
It would anybody, but it did me.

I've almost gotten used to it.  I start to feel sleepy, even when I'm driving.



Why Utah...?

I need an adventure.  There is a tempting hill here, near the bay.  I've decided that I'm either going to hop the fence and hike the hill to take some photographs or, more likely, find out who owns the land and ask if I can hike, etc., etc.  Each day when I drive past it I look up to see what herds of cattle or sheep have made their way up, and how far, whether they're in groups together or spread out across the southern face.   

Last night I went into work early so I also got off from work early and drove home in the waning daylight.  It was a pleasant change as I am used to going in later and driving home in darkness.  When I reached this part of the drive, where I pull off from the 4 lane highway and onto the two-lane blacktop, the color temperature of the sun's setting made this hill look particularly inviting.  If I ever get two days off in a row again I will take the initiative to do what should be done.  

I should state, for the record, that I have never seen a human on this hill.  I will very likely be the first ever to reach its summit.  If I do not return then tell The Pope's Son that the winds took me, The Holy Spirit swept down from on high and cradled his little lamb up into the heavens. 

Nope, let me go make a tea and try again.

Why can't I just write nice things?   I was reading Selavy's site last night and I wanted to go back to a point in the post to re-read, I did a search for the word "remember" and found 16 of them.  That's strange, I thought.  Then I realized that I was searching several pages at once, so I went back and looked at each use of the word.  Indeed there were many moments of reminiscing or simply recalling.  It made me want to take on another volume of Proust's "In Search of Lost Time," the recognized masterpiece about recollections and the effects of memory.  I read the first volume, "Swann's Way" about two years ago as part of a faux book club that my friends and I had created that never quite congealed in the intended way.  We ended up each reading whichever books we each chose individually and largely ignoring others' selections.  

The one book that we all did read was "Revolutionary Road" by Richard Yates.  It was okay.

Don't get the wrong impression, dear readers, that your faithful correspondent is one who joins book clubs. This loosely formed literary clan was mostly a joke. We had named it The Finer Things Book Club after the group by the same or similar name from the television series The Office.  It was part tongue-in-cheek, the other part farce, and only a thin patina of substance.  Wait, is patina a layer of rust? Or, is it why the statue of liberty is green?  I don't know.  I haven't been able to get anybody to read a book with me since. I tried with Rachel and Dostoyevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov" but she gave up about halfway through, even though I was encouraging her almost daily to make it to the latter half where the themes, characters and plot really start to coalesce.  Que sera, sera.....

A good friend once convinced me not to pursue teaching as a career.  Many of my other close friends have suggested that it is my lost calling.   I do so love the sound of my own voice.... even when I am only sitting here typing it out I can hear myself speaking the words as they appear on the screen in front of me like a verbal Rorschach test.  

I've never understood what those blobs are meant to mean, all of them look like pterodactyl vaginas. What's the point?  I once playfully made the mistake of telling a doctor that each of them looked alarmingly like pterosaur labia and he did not find it nearly as funny as I did.  He kept wanting to talk to me about why I would find that funny, as if there was something wrong with me.  I asked him how long he had been administering this strange form of psychological test and he told me off and on for several decades.  I reminded him that man was not yet walking the earth when the mighty pterodactyls flew above, that my free association was purely imaginary, that I had no first hand experience with pre-historic genitalia, and that perhaps it was him that needed to look carefully into the dinosaur vagina and laugh.

He then asked me to say the first word that came to mind when he said a word.  He proceeded to say, "mother." I responded immediately with "mother."  He explained again to say the first word that came to mind after he had said his word, "family"  Without a moment's uncertainty I smilingly offered back, "family."  I could see his frustration growing.  I offered that if he had wanted me to say the second word that came to my mind after the word that he had said then why didn't he just say so.  Can you believe they pay people for this stuff?  He administered some other tests on me, all of which came back inconclusive, to my knowledge.  He told my parents that I was hostile to both the concepts of therapy and authority.  Can you imagine their surprise.  I'm certain that my mother offered to beat me for him.  

No, I only kid.  It is all a fabrication.  I just don't have much else to write about this morning.  The world is changing for the worse and I am trying to avoid polemics.  Laws are being regularly signed into effect now that violate the basic principles of freedom and due process.  Obama has done it again.  But not to worry, it made a little ripple on Facebook, where I'm sure Obama will soon go to seek out the public's opinion on such matters.  I'm certain he will quickly do an "about-face" on any law that gives him too much power. 

I work with quite a few young people and I have taken notice at how few of them know anything at all about either The Constitution or The Bill of Rights.  Picture me trying to casually interject such a thing into conversation...  Funny, right?  It has occurred to me for some time that if you are to take rights away from people who do not understand that they have them, then no one will notice, or care.  That's exactly what seems to be happening.  The abuses of power even at the lowest levels have become too egregious to dismiss, yet they are.  But when it gets mentioned among a group of kids they seem to think that the Occupy protesters sort of asked for it.   

I mean, they should have know that the cops weren't going to stand for that shit, right? 

That seems to be the general feeling about it.  That anybody who speaks up gets what they deserve.  I hear the NSA is building a new centralized database out in the Utah desert where they can compile secret archives of information about us and our online behavior.  Wired magazine thought enough of it to put it on the cover this month.  Do kids even read Wired any more, am I really in my 40's....?  

Why Utah...?


Monday, March 19, 2012

Venus in Fury

The winsome waking weather lasted but a single revolution of the orb.  

I found that last sentence, as is, unedited, on the internet.  I searched for hours, a true jewel in the rough. Can you believe it?

Sure you can.  You know of my dedication in this way.

Overcast skies returned today, moving red and menacing.  That we live in an agricultural valley has made itself known.  The rains make the land rich, wealthy with minerals, moist with death and then life, and then again, again.  

Tomorrow is the first day of spring.

My wants are relatively meager. My most extravagant yearning is to own a set of the Encyclopedia Britannica, at $1400 for a (new) set.  Any mention of this desire is met with derision, by most.  In a world that esteems iPhones, Galaxies and Droids over libraries and bookstores it is no small wonder that I am out of step with the tightening world around me.  Everybody keeps telling me that there is a Britannica app., not seeming to understand that I actually want the set of books and am willing to work and pay for them, sometime in the future, starting tomorrow.  But quick comes pity and regret, they do not seem to be meant for me.  

What future measure of knowledge or literacy will we accept, I wonder.

"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp - or what's a heaven for?"

The internet can probably tell you who said that.  Pick among the top hits, or the ones that make you happy.  It was Browning, either Elizabeth or Robert.  Who cares.  It might have been Goebbels.  

I happened into a curio shop a few weekends ago.  There were nicknacks and oddball relics arranged with an organizational mania that was matched only by the neurotic breadth in the contents of the place.  I started flipping through some framed and unframed posters distractedly. They seemed to be jokes about commerce and productivity. They were "inspirational" in intent, comic in the re-telling, found here in an indoor junkyard.  

Suddenly an Asian woman was flipping through the stack next to me, smiling with an unsettling and focused fervor.  She asked, "You like 'Pride'?" She was holding up a framed plastic poster that had a vaguely secular inspirational quote and a presumably matching image.  She flipped past, "You want 'Love'?"... "You need 'Gratitude'?"...  I said that I'd buy "Gratitude" only if they had a matching "Longitude" in golden aluminum frame.  Her ensuing search lacked all sense of thoroughness but easily made up for that loss in both enthusiasm and momentum.  

As I stepped away no subsequent virtue went unsolicited from that moment until I left the store, smiling and bowing a series of "No, Thank-You's" that must have seemed like a dynastic getaway.

Ok, that's my humorous racialism for the day. 

Suck it, whitey...

Shiny, shiny, shiny boots of leather
Whiplash girl child in the dark
Comes in bells, your servant, don't forsake him
Strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart

Downy sins of streetlight fancies
Chase the costumes she shall wear
Ermine furs adorn the imperious
Severin, Severin awaits you there

I am tired, I am weary
I could sleep for a thousand years
A thousand dreams that would awake me
Different colors made of tears

Kiss the boot of shiny, shiny leather
Shiny leather in the dark
Tongue of thongs, the belt that does await you
Strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart

Severin, Severin, speak so slightly
Severin, down on your bended knee
Taste the whip, in love not given lightly
Taste the whip, now plead for me

I am tired, I am weary
I could sleep for a thousand years
A thousand dreams that would awake me
Different colors made of tears

Shiny, shiny, shiny boots of leather
Whiplash girl child in the dark
Severin, your servant comes in bells, please don't forsake him
Strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart

-Lou Reed, Venus In Furs



Once upon a time, not long ago, and not far from here... I was chatting with a woman. I told her that we just had a baby ten weeks ago. She asked to see a picture. I showed. The next thing I know she's holding her phone up for me to take a look. On the screen there are two pubescent girls doing handstands in their underwear. One pair white, one baby blue.  Their matching white t-shirts barely concealing the area where their breasts would soon be.  

"One 15, one 13." She says.

"I see. Gymnasts?"

"No, just fooling around.  It's hard to believe they're as old as they are."

"Indeed. Hard to imagine."

The next picture they were in the same outfits but right side up.  Their t-shirts had dropped to conceal their stomachs though their budding breasts became much more apparent.  Well, two of them did, anyway.   

Again, "Hard to imagine how quickly they grow up. Soon enough they'll be having babies of their own."

"God, I hope not."

"Well, when the time is right."

"I don't think I'll ever feel like being a grandma."

"Better not let them grow up then."

"If it were only up to me."

I wondered why a woman would show a man she had never met before such pictures, but assumed that now I am in a "fathers club" in which all things are automatically different, and different for all people in the same way.  Terrifying, I thought.  

No, perhaps this woman was trying to sell her daughters off into sexual slavery and she assessed me as just the right person to safely facilitate such an exchange. 

Who knows. People are crazy.  

"Someone oughta' sell tickets." - H.I. McDunnough, Raising Arizona


Sunday, March 18, 2012

A baby grand

After a week the rains have finally gone.  Late yesterday and then again last night the remaining clouds departed.   There is the continued feeling that spring is here, even though it is still chilly in the mornings.  The drive across the river was pleasant and occurred without impediment from other drivers.  The Rolling Stones blaring me into my day.  The sense of opened skies and great spaces across the bay comes as a welcome relief after a week of perpetually damp grayness, or worse.

A single swan had returned to the pond where there were two before.  My friends and I developed competing theories as to what had happened to the other swan, or if this swan was even one of the two that were there before.  But this morning the single swan had moved on and a flock of smaller birds occupied the pond, just as they had before, presumably scaring off the swan with numbers.    

There have been sheep occupying various vineyards and farms in the valley. They flock together in the rains and the darkness, separating in the sun, grazing and playing, then returning together almost as a single animal for the nights and the wet weather.  One flock has made their way high up on a hill near where our little road leaving the valley meets the highway. 

They are up there, visible from a distance as a single unexplained event.  A white mystery surrounded by great greenness.   I keep wanting to walk up the hill to where they are, to see the bay and the valley from that great height.  I've often thought of hiking this particular hill.  It is inviting, though I suspect its owner may not be, especially as it pertains to strangers on his land, approaching his stock.  I envision buckshot flying over my head, or towards it.  But I envision other things to.  Like getting a puppy.

We are on the verge of owning a place.  Once we are told that we can have a puppy there then the search for one might begin, perhaps a cat also, some fish, spiders, and a large Amazonian snake of some sort, to keep the cat on its toes.  Though this search, and the biological width of it, is still somewhat dependent on Rachel's approval.  Many of the things that we could not have had as easily in New York we might now have: a small garden, pets, a barbecue grille, cars, parking spots, traffic tickets, oil changes...  little things that others might take for granted.  

We were offered a baby grand piano. A gift which we have yet to claim.  The idea of having had a baby grand in my apartment in New York makes me giggle.  An east village apartment full of puppies and a baby grand occupying the place, without explanation how it got there, or how it would ever find its way out.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Death of a Monkee

I wake up far too early most mornings.  I make the perpetual mistake of sleeping with my iPhone near the bed.  As if I don't have enough anxieties throughout the day, and that time represents no problem for me.  I keep that device always handy to supplement my stress.  I pour hour after hour into the glass screen as if it is a time machine, thrusting me ever further into the future, faster.  

It's no small wonder that I have sleeping problems.  I used to keep a book near my bed so that I could read for a while, which often worked well, unless the book excited me somehow, started my mind racing.  Then later, when I would work an overnight shift and Rachel worked in the daytime I would watch foreign films so that the soundtrack could be very low and I could read the dialogue of the film with my new glasses.  Now I have this handheld portal of terror.  I lie awake reading news feeds from all over the world.  It's no way for a grown man with sleeping problems - father of one, husband to another - to live.  

Rhys is starting to sleep well.  He has had several nights where he has slept 6 hours or more in a row without waking to be fed.  I almost want to give him my iPhone, just to see what effect it will have on him. I'm convinced the thing is filling the room with pure oxygen like they used to do in the heyday of Vegas hotel/casinos.  I remember watching the big MGM fire on tv and thinking, What are the odds of such a thing?  

The 1980's seemed a great time for breaking news.  The early 90's weren't bad either.  The Waco barn burnings were really something.  To watch the federal government move in on people with tanks was somewhat novel at the time.  It's seeming less and less so as the years march on, and with the patriot drones buzzing overhead.

I've been thinking about unmanned drones lately.  I want one.  I mean, I realize there are probably a few community college courses I would likely need to take to really maximize its various uses.  But it sure would be great to just sit home and survey this great land of ours from the sky.  I mean, from my computer, from the sky.

Ok, enough of that talk.  It's a slippery slope, they say.  My friends sometimes seem to admonish and warn me about my various politically charged Facebook status updates, and some of what I write here also.  Who needs spy drones when you've got friends.  They treat me like I've been up all night drinking and driving on Facebook.  It's really something.  I wonder if having a "fictionalized" online persona will be a defense of the future.  I mean, if they can have a war on terror then why can't we have a defense of fiction? Absurd times call for absurd measures, like the US customary units.

Today is Rachel's birthday.  I have a mini-adventure planned.  We'll see how she feels.  The idea of driving around on St. Patty's Day in the rain, with the baby boy, might not appeal to her. But if it does... then my adventure will make me seem much cooler than I actually am, I hope.   It involves my normal pre-emptive driving while drunk regimen, augmented with some prescription drugs I found near a trash can at work.

No, not that either.  

There is some hope though, they say that, "Celine Dion will never sing again" and "Arizona Sheriff delivers bombshell..."

Oh, I could hide 'neath the wings, of the bluebird as she sings....

Oh, what can it mean to a daydream believer....


Friday, March 16, 2012

The heir to a lost empire

I feel like an idiot.  I act like an idiot.  I look at idiots.  I must be an idiot.  I left a set of the Encyclopedia Britannica in New York.  Rachel convinced me that we would buy a newer set once we got settled in California.  They've discontinued the series now, after 244 years, longer than America has been a country. The set is relegated to the bonfires of the digital world, along with all of the other useless documents from that time.  

I knew that I was making a mistake by leaving them when we moved.  I knew that there would always be some reason why they never got replaced, and I knew that I would regret it, forever.  When that little voice in your head tells that what you are doing, or what you are about to do, is something that you'll regret, then listen.  I have learned my lesson ad infinitum, ad nauseam, add this to the list....

At the very least, before I completely abandoned them at my apartment, I gave them to somebody who will value them.  A guy from work who has six children, 5 girls and a newborn son.  I mentioned how bad I felt about not packing them and he offered to come by and take them home to his children, which he did, very grateful to have done so.  So be it, I can not cry about it forever.  Eventually I'll forget what I was crying about.  Such is the transience of primary memory, the temporal quanta of the fool.  

I looked online at the cost of a new set, knowing in advance that it was absurd to even check, that they would be way out of my price range.  I was right.  $1400.  The DVD with the entire set digitized and interactive for your learning pleasure, $40.  I almost feel obligated to buy 35 copies of it over the course of my lifetime, as gifts for children, a penance of sorts.  I really liked having a copy of the Britannica in our apartment. I thought of it almost as an heirloom. Once Rachel was pregnant I fantasized about our child being enthralled with the books once the child reached a certain age.  I thought that I was making Diderot proud.  

Ok, enough about it.  It makes me sick, sucking on the teats of stupidity should, I suppose.    

Speaking of, I will work several hours of overtime today, boosting America's economy, getting us back into fighting shape.  Of what use will the encyclopedia be in the years to come?  The concepts of democracy have finally taken over, truly. Wikipedia will serve as the only font of useful information, all other information will eventually wash away as forgotten sins of another time.  What the fuck was I thinking?  I even donated money to Wikipedia, thinking that it was a useful resource.  I never fully realized that it was the very thing that would one day soon kill off actual information, as opposed to group opinion.  I was naive.  

Naivety, it's a French word for idiocy, says Wiki.  It is the quality that most invites doom.