Monday, April 30, 2012

The Nanny

(Lisa, nanny)

I walked Rhys over to Lisa's house this morning, around two corners from our place.  It's his first day with his new childminder, the disciplinarian pictured above.  It's a big first day for all of us - Rachel's first day back to full time work, Lisa's first day with Rhys, and my first day alone in our house.  Some of you might ask why I'm not watching Rhys myself.  You would not ask if you have been a regular reader of this site, however.  You must be new here.  The reason is actually quite simple:  I don't know how.  I could figure it out and I'm certain that I will, soon.  But I will go back to work also, in three weeks, and we all mutually concluded that it was best to let Lisa and Rhys acclimate to one another as that arrangement best reflects our current long term plans.  

There will be plenty of time for me to acquaint myself with full-time child duties.  The boy is not even four months old yet.  Oh my, how things have changed...

I worry most about Rachel.  She has taken many big steps in the last year, one right after the other.  Such stepping must take its toll.  I can not imagine what it must be like to feed your child from your own body and then return to work full time, where you will only see the child in the mornings and evenings, and weekends.  I had a difficult enough time going back to work and the boy was just beginning to really notice me at the time.

All of that has changed.  The little guy has really warmed up.   Yesterday at Lisa and Matt's bbq he was absolutely smitten with me, couldn't seem to smile wide enough in my direction, with no shortage of smiling to go around for all.  Though in fairness, this was partially because Rachel had discovered a new way to carry him in his Baby-Bjorn, facing forwards.  The thing was designed for it but it was new to all of us, most notably Rhys, giving him a whole new way to enjoy the world, the moving vista.

There are big changes underfoot, to be sure.  I can feel them everywhere I look, and everywhere else too.  

Even poor Barkley is having to suffer the new transitions.  You can see it in his eyes.  He must have gotten used to having almost full time access to Rachel, being the mother's little helper that he is.  

(Barkley, the pensive pup)


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sonoma Glory Hole Mini-Golf

Nothing much to report today.  Found this sign advertising mini-golf.  There's a sentence found on it that you don't normally expect to see advertising anything.  If you look carefully at the actual shapes for the various holes I think you'll agree that this is one of the more one-dimensional mini-golf courses to be found anywhere.  There are about 6 that are nearly identical.  Rachel suggested a swastika shaped 18th hole might liven things up a bit.  Because what, at the end of the day, expresses the concepts of white-power more fully than mini-golf, really?

Selavy has written that the term "Bucket List" is his secret-ninja-kill-trigger-phrase.  Mine would probably be "Budget List."  It is a term that sends violent flashes through my mind.  I go blank and want to kill every time the phrase is uttered. 

I went to the Sonoma Community center the other day and was being directed to find somebody's office and the man explaining to me where to go said, "You see that light through yonder window?"  This was done without any irony whatsoever.  Just a phrase used normally and naturally.  I almost shit my pants when I heard it.  I could have talked to him for hours but he was already done with me.

I tried to buy something at Whole Foods that didn't have an "organic" sticker and an alarm went off.  They explained that the product was a "plant" to catch people.  

See, I told you there was nothing much to report today.  Why would I lie?


Saturday, April 28, 2012

That taunting feeling

An empty day ahead of me.  We'll see.  I feel like a gutted building, after a fire, and rain.  My interior is composed of wet abandoned ashes.  I've held on to the life I've lived for as long as I can, and now must contend with the feeling of drifting.  It delivers the problem of emptiness, particularly when there is no promise to exchange it with, no tangible hope to leap towards, or into.  There is some comfort to be found in perpetual daily misery, doled out in hours clocked.  One gets used to it, comes to depend on it, it speaks to the inner ear - reminding, taunting, then reminding again.

Then comes the taunting once more.  Emptiness is far from ever being empty.


Friday, April 27, 2012


(Stevie Nicks)

Again, not much time to write today.  It will be my last day at work for three weeks.  I look forward to today, and the completion of it, for this reason.  The day could go either way.  Sometimes nothing can reach me on a "Friday" because I know I've got the next day off, other times I am like a wet rat being chased by exterminators the whole day through.  Usually my own doing, admittedly, but still...

Everybody laughs at me because I drink a lot of NyQuil - too much some say.  But I have been sleeping lately.  The stuff really works.  My sinus infection is almost completely gone.  All things seem possible after a good night of sleep.  That's where I am this morning, filled with the feeling of possibility, and the gentle morning haze of NyQuil.  

I had a dream yesterday morning.  It was a television advertisement for the cherry-flavored stuff in which they were admitting it had very limited medicinal purposes but was really a great party elixir, useful for any number of recreational purposes.  I'm sure that my post from the other day generated this early morning vision.  But still, I found it strange.   

I like the picture above of Stevie Nicks. She seems like she must have been a very fun girl.  A party girl that writes forlorn ballads of brokenness, and broken strength.  Everything in her best songs seems to happen after the fact.   Well, maybe not everything, but the things that seem to matter most.  I like the look of the old Coke cups. They are the relics of another time.  Like old beer caps.  Now everything is a pop-top, self-contained and boring.  But drinking beer used to leave little metallic bits of evidence.  A can was recognized as being empty because there was no beer in it but also because you could hear the top rattling around in the bottom.  I wonder how many kids have been busted drinking by their parents because they found the remainder of the cans, the little strips of aluminum with the ring still attached.  Evidence of evidence.

Speaking of rattling around in the bottom.  I've always wondered if the rumors about Stevie Nicks were true, that she used to have guys blow coke up her bottom-hole so she could save her nostrils and throat for singing, and presumably other uses as well.  It is one of the more intriguing and enduring rumors of the 70's rock world.  Not because the myth is dynamic, but because it tells us something that we want to believe.  Some of us.

This rumor has legs, and needs.

Well, I must go.  Here is a song I've been listening to lately.

"I was born in the country so she thinks I'm easy to lose..." - James Alley Blues


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Point taken

I'm not opposed to a baby's crying.  I'm not exactly a fan of it either.  But it doesn't bother me the way that it seems to bother others.  Nobody is an ardent supporter of a baby crying on a plane, but I understand.  The pressure in the baby's ears changes and they don't know how to release it by yawning, or otherwise.  It causes pain and they cry.  I get it.  There's no use in looking about either angrily or dejectedly at the parents of the child.  They are as helpless in the matter as you, and each of us together less helpless than the child.  There are many times in life when I wish that my screaming would be an appropriate response to whatever is happening.  It's usually not.  I've learned that.  

There is a marked difference between being able to withstand the sound of a baby crying on a plane and being responsible for a baby that's crying, however.  That difference is what I am coming to terms with lately.  Rachel has gone back to work and there are short passages in the day between when Rachel leaves and the babysitter arrives, or when the babysitter leaves and Rachel returns, that I am expected to entertain Rhys and keep him happy, smiling, and bouncing.  

This new territory is what perplexes me.  I understand that men are not always "naturals" at this.  But I am a complete klutz, a dunce, a lummox.  I try to ape the things that Rachel does with the boy.  I put him in the "baby-bjorn" and I walk around the house singing to him, bouncing him gently on my toes, or rocking him lightly when he is calm.  Holding him close and whispering to him in his ear.  Never stopping for very long or letting his building swells of dissatisfaction overtake him.  I offer him his "binky."  I'll fill his ears with the gentle sounds of me "sssshhhhhuuuussssshhhhhhhhiiiinnnnggggggg..."

None of it works.  Within minutes he is wailing and I am either cursing the babysitter, or Rachel, or traffic, or anything else I can assume is the cause of this 15 second delay between when they are supposed to be here and when they actually are.  It is a hell, of sorts.  I imagine the netherworld to be filled with the sounds of the infantile wailing, and the others there crying for mercy.  I think Dante wrote about the ring of hell that includes those trapped in an eternal daycare.  Just babies wailing faces emerging from the dark, eternally, with the insistent demands of infancy, expectations that can never be eased.   The infinite wails of nascent life.

Several years ago my friends had a baby and invited me over for a dinner party at their house shortly after, while the child was still an infant.  I was my usual excitable self and as the night wore on the host and myself got into an argument of sorts in the kitchen.  It erupted somewhat unexpectedly and ended likewise.  It involved only a few quick, punctuated sentences, reaching my ears as abbreviated revelations. They were retracted as swiftly as they were put forth.  But each successive shock made its point, reached its target, and communicated its message to its intended audience, as it were.  Me.  The nature of the argument, I see now, was the urgent need to let a baby sleep when it can.  It is the only relief one gets from the perpetual demands of infancy.  I've learned that now.  Point taken.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

revise, refine, reshape....

(An altercation)

Blogger has changed their formatting, for the worse.  I wonder who they consult on these changes, or is it just some ambitious group of employees over at Google running their initiatives up the flagpole, then gathering everybody around to see who's not saluting the new guillotine.  Management is too tired, old or lazy to resist, afraid they'll seem out of touch - they go along with it.  Then the changes unfold and everybody's too dead to admit the changes are not preferable to the way it was before, "the old way."  The justification will be that the changes require much less maintenance, generate more revenue. 

They stand together at company meetings and applaud the very concept of change.  As if change, in and of itself, is what matters most.  Change is always vital at a place like Google, they tell themselves.  They take a look at the company and marvel at how much it has changed, then make the fallacious leap that it must have been change alone that made them strong and got them all where they are today, just look at the stock prices...  The rare dissenting voice is marginalized, then ostracized, in this climate.  Any plea for analysis, especially a backwards looking examination, is dismissed as unnecessary and perhaps even dangerous.  Change becomes a virtue, enshrined as its own self-convincing method.  

I mean, who would resist change at a technology company...?  That is tantamount to suicide, or patricide, or worse. 

Ok, I should really choose a subject to write about before I start writing.  

Friday will be my last day at work for 3 weeks.  I have some time-off set aside for family bonding.  The state of California is very generous in this regard, though that is not why we moved here.  In retrospect we were lucky to have moved when we did though, before the boy was born.  I was reluctant to make the leap from coast to coast so soon after the pregnancy, and it wasn't easy, but now we've landed and it's making more sense as time passes.   Buying a house helped, oddly.   

Change, change, change...!!!!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cherry flavored suppressants

(The way the world looked)

It has been some time since I've drank NyQuil recreationally.  Too long, really.  I gave myself another sinus infection from sleeping in a room filled with cardboard boxes.  The air is so dry in the room that I woke up feeling as if I was trying to finish swallowing the remaining pieces of an empty pizza box - that I was somewhat desperate to do so in my sleep.  I just needed water.  Each morning is a form of cheating death.

This morning when I woke up I staggered to the bathroom, then back to bed. The babysitter showed up at some point.  It was Rachel's first day at work.  I slept through most of it.  

Finally I got out of bed.  I had errands to run.  I turned, letting my head hit the pillow once more.  So, after an additional two hours of vision-quest rest I gathered myself slowly together and headed out the door.  Something felt wrong with the car.  It seemed a bit sluggish.  I put the pedal to the floor a few times and was convinced it wasn't reacting with its usual zestiness.  In a delirium I conducted my business.  I stopped at the grocery store and bought a bottle of wine, I picked up the mail (several boxes), I got a "grande" coffee at Starbucks, I drove by the bank's ATM.  As I was getting out of the car I noticed Barkley the puppy was with me.  I left him in the car with the windows up, thinking to myself "Safety First..."  The security chirp of the car's doors locking let me know that all was well, all would be well.  What a lovely and strange day it was.  Everything seemed to be happening at a fraction of its usual speed.  

On the way home I panicked, thinking that I had forgotten to collect the cash from the machine.  I couldn't remember putting it in my pocket.  I couldn't remember seeing any cash come out.  The receipt was there with my other pocket stuff but I struggled to determine if the money I had with me reflected a withdrawal also.  I pulled over and counted.  Yep, I had been to the bank.  I listened to the entire song "Freebird" before I realized what I was doing.  It was at the very end with the "built for stadium lighting" crescendos peaking when I stopped and asked myself where I was, what was I doing?  What next?  Freebird tapered off in redneck victory and I came to my senses a little bit, shaking my head slowly in wonder.  Had I been singing along just a few minutes before?  My throat was sore.  Do I really know all of the lyrics to Freebird?  

Barkley likes the new healthy "Fresco" burritos at Taco Bell.  I knew that with tested certainty.  I needed a Mountain Dew.  The coffee wasn't enough.  We stopped.  In the Taco Bell parking lot I silently renewed my vow to accord NyQuil the respect it deserves.  The color of the air around me seemed to be "off" a bit.  As if all of life was a faded Polaroid that had been left near a window.  Everything seemed to be covered in an unlikely shade of milky pale yellow. It was cherry flavored NyQuil.  I felt as if it might have had that affect on me in the past.  I couldn't find a bright red anywhere I looked.  I tried to remember the color wheel.  Was it possible that cherry red, when removed, would render the world more yellowish?  I was sure the world didn't really look that way before, or yesterday.

When I got home it took me 45 minutes to figure out that the baby's "pink noise" generator was what was making that static hiss.  It was coming from the iPhone and then through the baby walkie-talkie into the kitchen.  The whole house was filled with it.  I turned them both off and fell asleep in the bed nearest where the boy was sleeping.  I felt like I could hear much static in the distance as I drifted into it.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Chasing sunbeam

(Free Spirits)

I got an email after last night's post advising me to take a walk and get some sun on my face.  Do not worry, it was just an experiment in words.  There was perhaps a kernel of truth in there, but mostly I was just practicing saying things differently, to see what will happen, to see if anything interesting emerges.  Sometimes there is little or no relationship between what I am writing and what I am feeling.  That wasn't entirely the case last night, but there was some embellishment involved.  It was an exercise in nonsense, to see what foolishness might leap out.

Moving on.

I am trying to find a way to say something without sounding moralizing, or condescending, or as if I'm only denouncing.  But yesterday I noticed another difference between the people in the SF area and the people in New York.  I went to an outdoor party, a sunset party, one that ended at 7pm.  I went there after work and only arrived for the last 45 minutes or so of it.  There were many people dancing and enjoying the music.  People were stumbling from one place to another presumably enjoying themselves.  There were lots of children there though it was not exactly what I would call a children's event.    

I saw one man stumble past mumbling incoherently, stepping on other people's stuff with seeming obliviousness.  What appeared to be his son was swaying from one side to another upon his shoulders, pitching dangerously both forward and back, from left to right.  Later I saw them again.  This time the son was being held by the hand and the presumed father was walking him along by the portable toilets, not in much better shape than before, but less dangerously so with the child.  Neither father nor son were wearing shirt or shoes.  It was a free festival, you see.  He was perhaps teaching him how to return to nature.  To get back to his roots.

The music stopped promptly at 7pm and they made a few announcements.  One was that there was a 3 year old girl at the dj booth who had lost her parents. They announced her name and we were left to assume that her parents would be found and reunited with the young girl.  I imagined the girl to be somewhat frightened in such an environment, separated from her parents.  Also, I thought it interesting that they had presented the situation as one in which her parents were lost, not the girl.  Understandably, she was not lost, the voice on the microphone knew where she was.  It was, in truth, the parents that seemed to have wandered off.  

I realize that I just had a baby boy and I am probably overly sensitive to these situations right now.  But I am not blind or stupid either.  I have argued both for and against bringing children to open air parties in the past, even Burning Man.  But my arguments were usually based on direct observation of how the parents were treating having children there with them.  It is possible to be responsible in these settings, and one need not feel as if their lives have ended because they have had children.  But that's not exactly what I saw yesterday.  I saw something very different.  

I was afraid to say anything to one of my closest friends who was standing there next to me.  He was high on a bottomless cocktail of designer drugs and had been for days.  I was afraid that he would cite it as some new morality that I had adopted in some twisted attempt to tell the world how it should be conducting itself.  Something that I sometimes do.  But he agreed and even more fully felt that it was no place for children and those stumbling about to be caring for children - or not caring for them, as the case mostly was.  

They seem to insist on the naturalness of what they're doing because they've included their children in their activities. What could be more natural?  Practically a family function.  But there were a few thousand people at this party and everybody was getting in their cars and going home.  It just struck me as an unnecessarily dangerous place to lose a child.  As much as these people want to feel that they are all part of one big family, some families also include a wicked Uncle Ernie or two.  

You don't see as much of that sort of thing in New York.  They employ a system there known as "babysitting" in which the child stays home with a person capable of caring for them and ensuring their safety.  So if the parents want to go stumbling into portable toilets, or wandering off towards the lake to pursue fading sunbeams, then the child is not left in the care of thousands of strangers perhaps also pursuing their own ideas of sunbeams and where they might be found.

Is that moralizing?  I suppose it is.  I'm just not so sure I agree with the seeming premise here that, "It's cool because we're doing it."  I suppose my moralistic modification would be, "It's cool if you're doing it well."  

Or, "It might be cooler if you were cooler."

Also, the pictures from last night's post were from Cato.  I wasn't in the mood to credit him last night, and told him so, but wanted to do so today.  They were taken with, and processed with, an iPhone.  It's morally wrong to present somebody else's work as your own, I'm told.  Except when a dj does it... of course.


The forest sneaks past on little trees

No time again, tonight.  Life does not fly by as much as it daily snubs us.  If we choke of chosen work then through it we gladly noose our days - on freeways on highways on one way home, then back afresh, or else.  

Or, up close, most drive home.  What we call home, what we find.

No, time does not ignore us, it teases us with age, in years, then decades once owned, now leased shamedly behind us, but owed upon yet as equities expanding, payments ballooned, anchors partially shaped like iron hearts falling backwards sunk deep into the deep, bracing us from the rocks of imaginary shores, kept and held as graspless dangers - always the fault of other's others in their shore drawn flight.  Nothing quite anchors like an anchor.  Cargo, held in the hold, the submerged ghosts of once assumed wisdoms - quivering voices of past advice - inners, personas, outers.  

Falling forward for the Desdemona of Daytona.
Oceans of her.  Mysterious, then.  Cool, and blue.  
Blue and cool, and you and them, and I and us.  
So loud was so much less than mysterious. 

Barcelona, Pamplona, place and time tanned delirious.

I worry about myself, even though I am not the one to worry most among us.

I worry about fewer, and few.

No, stop it - life does neither of those things listed above, but both, and all, and probably more.  It is what we daily choose to do to ourselves, and then each other.  We only blame time because there is found nothing but witness, and validity.  We assign the fault elsewhere drifting.  We often blame before.  We learn to grow and fear and hate the passing of it, accord it its due dogmatic praise, or else misguided cheer.  

Then, we choose the busy work of our days, perhaps of a vague and vague and vague or undetermined specific terror, a nightmare nightly agreed upon, then quietly dismissed with turned down lights - though this bonfire advances in sunlit advancements.  Occasionally do we leap for the unsure grip of young memory, seizures of juvenescence, glandular reactions - mistakes made but never spent, never owed, back towards foolish desires where we all once belonged, ending up somehow both washed and well bent, and still ready for more.

Occupation now occasionally allows us, permits us this, unsmilingly.  It grants us the imitation gift of ourselves back to ourself own limitation, in the short term of a weekend, or a day or more called in as sick, or worse, two...  We are weekend by it.  Two days should only be called agreed.  But greed is what we are accused of if wanting to possess one single day more.  Assuaged are the inner resentments of lost time with the distractions that we call art: it's life, it's sad, all of us say so, let's hang upon the walls.  

When we finally get the time, we'll decorate.

Barcelona, what more mystery is there then, delirium? 


Art is never the sickness of work, but rather the sickness from it.  We tell ourselves the most artless lies in defense of the days wasted. 

My job is making me hate art, or making art grow faint.

But, oh, places delirious.... invite my soul to loaf.

... and wander

Sometimes, there is art.  Golden pieces slip away from the day, clutching the fragments of leaves lost last year, my feet feel the minerals rise past me, with hands stretched upwards, offering all earth back to the clouds like rain rising ever upwards, through me, without me, beyond my reach.

If only any moment could be held, then loss could be much less yearning, or much less self.

Upon such thin pedestals does life slip by, flipping amongst the acropodiums, jumping from plinth to plinth in the burning daily circus of treetop love.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

The future sneaks up on little feet

No time again today.  Life does not fly by as much as it ignores us if we choose to only work through it.  No, it does not ignore us, it punishes us with age, in years, with the ghosts of assumed wisdom.  No, stop it, life does neither of these things.  It is what we daily choose to do to ourselves, we only blame time.  We assign the fault ever elsewhere.  We learn to hate and fear the passing of it.  We choose the busy work of our days mostly out of a vague and indeterminate terror, only occasionally out of desire, when our occupation allows us, when it grants us the imitation gift of ourselves back to ourselves in the term of a weekend.  We numbly assuage the inner resentments of lost time with the distractions that we call art.  Sometimes there is art.  We snatch little pieces of it away from the day, clutching the fragments.  Upon such thin pedestals does life slip by, flipping amongst the acropodiums, jumping from plinth to plinth in the traveling circus of love.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mission Accomplished

(The Shaker and the boy)

When I said that we set out to drink wine yesterday I wasn't lying.  Other than breakfast at the Fremont Diner and dinner at home that's all we did.  Black pepper beef brisket at breakfast and grilled sea bass with vegetables for dinner.  The day was a success, though I perhaps drank too much wine.  Perhaps.  It was all good wine so I feel surprisingly well today, even though I went off to bed early and slept late.  That is the key to feeling good, eating well and getting lots of sleep. Knowing your limits.  I was slurring by the end of the night - that usually means that I am tired, very tired.  Being tired is also a limit of its own.

I have to go back to work today.  I had another one-day weekend, one that is now spent and over.  They are killing me.  It is my least favorite part of my job, competing against many other least favorite aspects.  How much longer, oh lord, how much longer....

Having a child is a novel thing.  He goes with us wherever we go.  Not even Barkley the puppy gets to do that.  Barkley notices this difference and does not seem to like it.  That used to be me, he must think.  

Our guests were the first guests we've had in our new house.  Another novelty.  It is a very different feeling to know that we own the place, that we are having guests at our home.  It's nice.  I'm starting to feel like an adult, one that knows when to go off to bed early, and sleep in late.  

Quite a novelty, that.



Friday, April 20, 2012

Fremont Diner and on

No time to write today, friends in from out of town, our first house guests, a big dinner last night - steak, chicken and lots of wine. Today we make our way out the door to the Fremont Diner and then over to Napa for more wine drinking, then back home for additional wine drinking, more food, music, etc.  

Chicken and Waffles, soon....


Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Laughter, Love and Music"

Up before dawn, already beaten and bewildered by the day. They say that you can not "catch up" on sleep, that it must be gotten regularly, that there really is no way to make up for lost time by oversleeping.  But that can't be true.  The other day I slept almost 10 hours.  Not consecutively, but each time that I woke up I would go right back to sleep, out of exhaustion.   Finally being able to sleep acted upon my body like a drug.  I just kept going back for more.  I didn't care about anything and was not about to change what I was doing.  I became almost angry at the idea that anybody would make me do anything other than sleep.  But that anger did not prevent me from going back to sleep, instead it just drifted away.

The hill pictured above is one that I've mentioned before here.  I want to hike to the top one day and take pictures of the valley, and of the bay, where the two meet.  I have no real reason to do so, but it is something I think about quite often when driving by.  I have never seen a human on the hill, though often there are herds of livestock.  If you look carefully at the image below you can see a flock of sheep at the top.  (Insert sex-with-sheep joke here).  But the hill is very inviting and I imagine the view from there as being somewhat unique.  It must be.  It is the last big hill at the end of one side of the valley, where the hill range meets the bay.  The hill can be seen from many miles away.  On the drive home I can see it across the bay, from the highway.  It seems just as alluring at a distance as it is up close.   

A close friend's father died in a terrible helicopter crash not far from this hill.  It was over 20 years ago now, on my birthday in 1991, but the effect of this loss can still be felt in him.  He was a young boy at the time, about 14 years old I believe, years before I knew him.  I think of it often when I drive by this area.  It happened during a storm in which visibility was very low.  The helicopter hit a power line tower, one that many people in the area fought against when they first went up in the early 80's.  They were supposed to be lit with flashing indicators to prevent such a thing from happening.  The people who fought the towers going up likely also fought the intermittent lighting systems that were meant to be on them.  It would seem that they won with one issue though not the other.  The first issue would have prevented the accident, the second likely contributed to it.  Odd, that.

His father had accomplished many great things in his lifetime and was engaged in a continuing philanthropic effort when the accident occurred.  He was enlisting a rock band to perform at a charity show, his passion.  His passing away produced a massive benefit concert that many people in the area still talk about to this day.  300,000 people attended the show.  It occurred to me that I do practically nothing that could be considered charitable.  It is not that I don't care, it is only that I am dedicated to keeping my life from becoming one that requires charity.  I always seem to be struggling to keep myself just above the poverty line, though I know this to not be factually true.  It is what I tell myself.

I once flew in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon with a friend.  There were elevated flattened tops in some places where millions of years of erosion had eaten away all that surrounded the area but left the ancient earth flat as it was before the beginning of the formation of the canyon, when the river that became know as the Colorado was at, or near, ground level, 65 million years ago.  I believe there was an Indian name to describe these flat elevated spaces, though that name now escapes me.  The helicopter pilot pointed out one flat spot high above the canyon bottom that was as large as the island of Manhattan, he claimed.  Presumably it was to give us perspective, in the event that the actual canyon itself was not impressive enough.  He wanted to be sure we understood that this geological event dwarfed much that man might have accomplished since.  It felt unnecessary at the time to unfavorably compare the size of Manhattan to the size of one visible portion of the canyon.  But the moment became memorable because of it.  I often thought of it when flying home to LaGuardia, as the city would float by beneath the plane's seemingly slow approach.

Distance and proportion give perspective, especially across time, often in an inverse manner.  This hill that I want to hike is not the largest in the area, nor does it seem to be particularly challenging.  Doing so would perhaps help nobody but me, and even that is doubtful.   It has just been some time since I have wanted to hike a hill by myself, for no reason other than to produce the feeling in me that I had nothing better to do, even if that isn't true, nor ever has been.  I just want to waste a day differently, to find a new way to feel free from time, if only for that moment.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The failings of democracy

(The joys of a track suit)

Up late and now I must rush to work.  Each day this week I am scheduled to work two hours earlier than the day before, ending tomorrow at 8am, or rather at 5pm, but my day beginning earlier and earlier successively.  It makes me crazy, as if I have no time for myself.  The time that I am "gaining" at the end of each day is spent in a tired haze rather than enjoyed as it should be.  Again, I have a one-day weekend on Friday. 

That, and the wine does not help.  I stayed up late last night correcting the opinions of those whom I've never met, on Facebook.  Foolishness from beginning to end.  It all culminated in a screed attempting to solve America's political problems by pretending to look at the big picture objectively.  I've included it below with a few corrections. I forced myself to stop at 3 changes so that the essence of time wastefulness would remain undisguised. 

Enjoy this very cautionary excerpt:

As with most of Bobby's posts I was being antagonistic, and somewhat playfully so. I was exaggerating the flimsy relationship between truth and statistics, especially as presented thusly by "foxbusiness." A contradictory phrase if there ever was one: fox-business. Though I was doing so with some serious intent, though much less merit, and admittedly so. I look at the grand collusion of the last 100 years (or so) between the political structure of this country and the uber-wealthy and I see great reason to cry "foul." I question anybody who doesn't. The disparity between the working class and the disproportionately wealthy (a class of people who could hardly be romanticized as being "industrialists" any longer) has grown so out of perspective that I question all of it. The media outlets are owned by those who wish to exert and enforce their vision of capitalism and media-based-economics upon us. The effects are both self-evident and ubiquitous. Those who seek a flat tax are being fooled by their party's rhetoric just as much, if not more, than the other's side of calling for increased taxes on the biggest earners. Each side craves votes first, the money will surely follow. The concept of a conversion to flat tax is untenable in the current economic climate. I am getting too old to just fall back on the axiom that if a person made their money "legally" then all is fair and as it should be. I encourage you to also question the nature of wealth accumulation and who actually "pays" for it, who allows it, and who enforces it. The economic laws of this country are ravaging the vast majority of the people. I'm sorry if you feel like you're being so violated by the many poor around you. The numbers tell a two-fold story. But it's a shockingly sparsely populated story from the one side. While some might spend their energies defending the rich, while accusing the un-paying poor as being the sole source of the problem - others see the disproportionate rich, and the attending laws that protect and defend their unethical hoarding of the nation's resources, as the actual and more pressing problem. Congress should be found guilty of grand racketeering and multi-national fraud on both a previously known, and as yet likely unknown, level.  Still, we all wave our flags to the right and salute to them similarly, praying that they'll bring prayer and guns back to schools one day.... Patriotic correctness barely hides an insidious xenophobia and bigotry. It's as if we are constantly being reminded that to be American is to give rather than take. But we're all so tired of the giving on the one side, and tired of the takers on the other - but so few of us are even really one or the other any more. Less and less so each year, anyway. You and I perhaps see the problem differently.  If you look at the amount of money being controlled by the very few and the amount of resources being deprived to the very many, then neither of our own personal politics will have much to say in the face of that. You must understand that there are some with whom you might aggressively disagree who are trying to preserve a semblance of democracy by keeping the tables from tilting too greatly. Others see that great tilt as the full fruition of such an idea as democracy and free-reign capitalism. Remember that capitalism, followed through to its logical conclusion, would lead us to a world very like the one we fought against to create the current one we claim to enjoy. A single man, or family, or corporation, will eventually own, or control, all that we know. Even if that entity goes by the name of "government." Soon enough the struggle will again be only to prevent abject and complete servitude to the few, or the one. If something doesn't change then some form of disaster seems to wait for all of us. You perhaps see it as the failure of democracy. Well, so do I. 


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Implosions under the Sea

Very little can make me feel as old as going to a rock concert, or as fat.  I suppose there are a handful of instances that might serve that purpose to an even greater effect, but not many.  I could look at Napster, or talk fondly about the 80's, or have a mild stroke, or shit my pants.  But that's about it.  I just walked outside and told a kid to get off of my lawn.  It felt right, and good.  I also yelled at a car to slow down while I was out there, picking up the newspaper in my robe and slippers, with white socks on, pulled halfway up my calves, barely covering my pale withered legs.  Damned hippies...  

Speaking of, my hip hurts.  I think I broke it when picking up the paper, or at that infernal rock concert last night.

I was peer forced to ingest some new designer drug, to aid with music appreciation.  To see and hear things that were not actually there, or to augment the things that were.  I think he said it was called "madonna."  I gobbled mine with a beer, after having drank two bottles of wine between us.  I don't remember.  The night was a loud, noisy blur, with many musical valleys and crescendos.  The band only played one song but it was a good one, with lots of effects and the occasional well timed key change.  It was written primarily in a minor key and lasted about 2 hours, give or take, but maybe much more.  Who knows.

The band was comprised evenly of all long-haired guitar players who stood shoulder to shoulder, axe to axe.  There was also one drummer that nobody seemed to like.  They all appeared to be very proud of their Texas heritage.  They prominently displayed a state flag, hanging over a speaker on stage, presumably not as a threat, though we've all been warned about messin' with Tex-mex, etc.  It was either a Texas state flag or a Puerto Rican one.  I can never tell one from the other, and the drugs didn't help much.  Fuck, I might not have even gone to a concert last night.  How would I know?

I don't think that the drug they pressured me into taking was even illegal.  What was I thinking?  "Never ingest a legal drug"... that's my motto-operandi.  They're never worth it.  I woke up feeling like my insides were made of asbestos, wrapped in non-permeable plastic.  I was like a soft-boiled strontium egg, with a temporary atomic number.  Courtesy glow, it's called.

I can smell it all coming out of my pores this morning.  My urine was blueish, glowing.  Sinister stuff.  If the FDA hasn't taken the time to deem something as being Schedule I and "very dangerous" then it almost always is, dangerous that is.  Nature is much worse than the lab, much.  The only things that should be illegal are the things they haven't bothered noticing.  Natural drugs scare me and make me edgy and paranoid.  Very strict laws against something are always a sure sign that it's something possibly worth seeking out.  It's the tell-tale giveaway, a prison sentence usually means "good drugs."

Right?  Name one great drug they haven't made illegal. For every one of those I can name twenty that should be.

The stuff even looks like asbestos, a little bit.  Asbestos is a naturally occurring substance also, to give you an idea of how dangerous nature can be.  I still want to market a drug called "Cobra Venom."  I'd sell it at Whole Foods, tell people that it's "striking", etc.

Here, just have a look at madonna.  It looks much like I feel - pitted and glowing orange and red on the inside.  Ready to seep and melt into the world around it, yet somehow concerned with overtaking its oval-esque mate.

(asbestos-based designer drug, madonna)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Eating the winners

Nothing much to report. They have assigned me an early shift at work today.  With little sleep I will soon trudge off to do whatever it is that needs to be done.  They prefer that I am enthusiastic about it all as well. My head is on the chopping block there at work.  They have a guillotine with my initials on it.  I have been warned.  It is yet another in what seems like a lifelong string of warnings.

Tonight I am supposed to go into SF to attend a rock concert of some sort.  It is a band that seems to pride themselves on the eschewing of vocals in their music.  It is all topographical guitar symphonies, produced by heavy and layered effects and lots of practice in the art of emoting.  We'll see.  

I will need to take a shower this morning, I guess.  There is no shower curtain. I'm sure that is my fault too.  It could have been bought yesterday but I spent half of my energy making sure that it didn't.  I worked for six days straight, had one day off in which I had hoped to settle into our new house and make it feel livable, now I return to work for four straight days.  Life can be circular in its absurdity.  I would say that there's never any end to it, but that is far from true.  It is, at best, circular.


Speaking of, I went over and witnessed the garden where the Bok Choy is splitting the earth with its emergence.  I know that it's one of the simplest things ever and occurs many places the world over.  But it is an amazing thing to engage in yourself.  These seeds were hidden away in a little paper folder. We put down some soil.  I made an indentation along two parallel lines. Dropped the seeds in.  Now they emerge, fighting for resources, only days later.  It is truly startling and yet one of the easiest things there is, in some places, where the conditions are right.

I am going to take great satisfaction in eating the winners.  


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Morning in the garden of Bok Choy

(budding flora pic by Lisa Murray)

In addition to all of the other many changes we have undergone we have also decided to become vegetable farmers.  Sort of.  I tried to get the farm to exclusively plant tobacco but so far no luck.  Then I went for opium, again no love.  We all pitched in a bit and prepared some beds for planting at our friends' place around the corner.  The Bok Choy that I planted less than two weeks ago has already sprouted.  The first amongst many, and another victory in a series of undisputed triumphs.  I'm thinking of running for the office of president, on the self-governing ticket.  This morning we will very likely head over to the garden to announce my candidacy.

Think about that word, candidate. Are they meant to be candid?  That's pretty much how they all strike me.  Just straight-shooters trying to single-handedly get America back on its knees.  That will be the premise of my campaign, that the other guys are not true candidates.  I will further clarify this point by making up a freestyle rap on the spot to my own beatboxing, something that sheds light on the real problems facing America.  

What is up with the working class, right?  Can I get a work-work...? Boom....

Ok, gardening.  I don't know anything at all about it.  But it fits into my new vision of myself.  We're going to look for a pair of overalls today, just in case I decide to rape some livestock this afternoon, or cover myself in Milorganite.  I wouldn't want to look awkward doing so. 

Nope, back to gardening.  Having no knowledge of a thing can make it difficult to write about.  Though I'm always willing to give it a shot.  I'm having a trying time adopting my usual air of authority this morning.  I'll let the tea trickle into my many indignations.  

I'll be back.  

I wonder how difficult it is to isolate morphine from the opium poppy, as an alkaloid.

See, I should have bought that set of Encyclopedia Britannica...  I looked on the site yesterday. There's less than 500 sets left.  $1400 each.  Anybody?

I can pay the loan back in drugs.  If I can get that set I see no reason why I wouldn't also be able to take over the world.  It might only be the "It's a Small World" ride at Disney, but that's a start.  It's a damned lucky thing that Disneyland wasn't built until after Hitler was dead.  He would have absolutely adored a world so cute and easily conquered.  He might have felt just like Michael Jackson.  And isn't that how we all should feel sometimes....

Ok, enough.  I'll be back later if I can get the time.  I don't think I'll be able to write tomorrow.  Cato is trying to get me to drive into SF to listen to guitar players while we're on mind melting drugs.  Neurons searching the synapses for heaviosity.  

We'll see.  It's a Monday.  Am I getting too old to start the week with hefty psychedelics?  Say it isn't so... 

Explosions in the Sky they're called, the band.  They sound far out, man.  

Maybe I can get them to buy me a set of encyclopedias, for research. 


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Moving In

The place doesn't look like this any more.  There are boxes everywhere, of course.  I snapped this picture quickly, knowing that it wouldn't look like this for very long.  It'll take weeks to sort it all out, if not longer.  It is strange to refer to a place as "home" rather than "the apartment."  I've felt myself stumble with it a few times already in conversation.  I'll adjust.

The baby grand was a gift.  There were friends of friends here who were moving a different piano in and this one needed to be moved out.  So, we became the lucky recipients of it.  I'm relieved that the boxes have dampened some of the sound.  I tried playing it yesterday after many years of not playing at all.  I'm glad nobody was around to hear it.  But it did sound nice.  Not the playing, but the instrument.  I'll adjust.

Well, I had better go. There is much to do and I also have to work again today, as I did yesterday and the day before that.  Tomorrow will be my only day off, then 4 days back on.  Tomorrow marks three years for Rachel and I.  Three married years, that is.  The full story stretches back further.  But we somehow managed a wedding, a coast to coast move, a baby, and a house in just under three years - with the clock still ticking.  I'll adjust.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Moving Out

Big day today.  We move in.  It is supposed to rain for half of the day.  The idea that everything we own will be subject to both the rain and the bumbling hands of hired movers sends my passions towards the anxious.  But nothing can be done about it.  It is written.  The apartment has already been rented to somebody else, they move in tomorrow.  We move out today.

Felonious hands of the movers, I meant.  Some of my best friends are convicted felons.  They talk about politics less than most, and voting, but beyond that they are just peachy peeps.  I thought the idea was that once you had served time in jail then you have paid your debt to society.  It seems wrong that they have been deprived of civic participation in this way.  I mean, Ann Coulter gets to vote, and she was found voting twice on the same election in different districts.  If anything should deprive you of your right to vote it should be cheating at it.  But no, we live in the best of all possible societies.  

Ann Coulter can be quite caustic, but she's also one of the few funny republicans in the spotlight.  I mean it.  If you read her website she makes some poignant counterclaims to the more left-leaning assumptions, and she occasionally does so with humor and wit.  I swear.  I've only read a few of her articles.  She's definitely a lightning rod filled with vitriol that explodes in viral grenade poison.  But there's the occasional telling and humorous observation mixed in that makes it worth the read.  I disagree with most everything she says but I still like reading it.  She has suggested that women should lose the right to vote, because if they did then a democrat would never win the White House.  That's funny.  She calls it her "pipe dream."  

Get it?

Ok, enough about her for now.  More later.  People on the left hate her so much, and she makes herself very easy to hate, but I don't think most of them understand how much she's just baiting them.  It seems obvious, but just try to talk about her in any way but a defamatory one with a group of liberals.   They'll lynch you.

Ok, I must go. There is much to do today and I am one of the people that must do it.  Then, once I have done what I must do, the others come and do all the rest.  I have to go to work today.  Somebody's gotta eat the donuts.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hippo Homeowners

It's official. We bought a house. We move in tomorrow.  Our lives will finally be unboxed.  For me it has been almost 13 years since much of my record collection has been out of boxes.  For Barkley it has been an imagined eternity since he has seen the pink Hippo.  

It had only been about an hour - but he doesn't know how to tell time.  


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

We tell ourselves

Life can be ironical.  Mine is.  It's as if I'm living out the chapters from Winesburg, Ohio.  It's where I endlessly roam.  My yearnings an unheard scream.  I am trapped in the teeming pull and push of it, fumbling along in the unbroken light.  Fighting a torrent of wind that leaves the world untouched.  Stumbling into misfits along the way.  Ever blundering towards them, with them, for them - from them. Ever and ever, dividing lines, telephone wires.

We all tell ourselves one thing and other's another.  Every step somehow a misstep.  Every step a struggle.  Every step gets steeper.

The horizon distant in all directions.  Reminding, remaining.  
We tell ourselves one thing.

Other's another.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Out of the frying pan...

(meatballs, no mayo)

I can't tell if it's me, or others.  It seems that everywhere I go I'm stuck in some situation, some interaction, with somebody that is driving me nuts.  But when I try to look at the interaction objectively I can't see where it's me that's doing it.  It seems to be woven into the world around me.  It's everywhere and many of my daily interactions are evidence of it.

Yesterday morning I went to get a coffee. There was one guy in front of me.  He was young, about the same age as the girl behind the counter helping him, and he was leaning forward on the counter.  She seemed to be taking his order at first but then I realized that they were just discussing the various merits, or lack, of the items on the menu.  She was being bubbly and informative.  After a minute or two of watching this clumsy flirting I began to shift my weight from foot to foot and gave the occasional scraping of the shoe against the floor.  Their fumbling continued, with me unnoticed.

The young guy finally ordered a coffee.  I wasn't paying attention to whether or not she had actually sold him a specific one that she was peddling but it seemed to me that he ordered one that he was familiar with, a favorite.  Their conversation shifted to other people that worked in the vicinity and whether or not either of them had attended various people's parties.  Nobody had filed in line behind me so I didn't have the type camaraderie one can often easily acquire in situations like this.  I was on my own.  The guy was leaning over the counter about halfway at this point.  I noticed because it was somewhat difficult to do.  The counter was rather low, as all Starbucks counters are, and he was having to let his legs fall out behind him to make anything that he was doing seem normal or natural.  

He paid with a $20. His drink came to just over $5, so he handed her another single dollar bill after she had rung it up.  This confused her a little bit so he told her the appropriate amount of change to give him back, which was $15 and some change.  He asked for three fives, or a ten and a five, or fifteen ones.  This confused her further and it started to become obvious that he knew he was losing his grip on whatever flirtation they might have been sharing.  He was the sharper of the two, though not by much.  Once she had counted back his money he was standing straight up.  It became a little more obvious why he was prostrating himself on the Starbucks counter. She was slightly taller than him.  She bounded off to make his drink and two people filed in line behind me. They continued their conversation while she made his coffee but she suddenly seemed to recognize that she was working, there was coffee to be made.

I have no idea why she was the only person working this morning. The place is often staffed with two or even three employees.  

Can I help you?

Oh, I didn't want a coffee. I just wanted to hear what you guys were talking about.

To say that she gave me a stare that stated simply that I am a creepy old man would be an understatement.  I hadn't exactly developed any solidarity with the people behind me as they had just come up.  I was on my own and somehow now I was the asshole.  The kid was still at the other end of the counter drinking his morning chocolate-caramel frozen desert coffee with a spoon.  A pimple trapped in plastic, soon to be freed.  He didn't hear any of this but he clearly seemed to be waiting around, hoping to slow down the economy further before he took off for good.     

Um, no, I'm kidding.  I'll have a ....

It was after ordering that I realized that I come in here to get a coffee all of the time and it makes no sense to upset the staff.  She neither got my joke, nor did she think that she was doing anything wrong.  She's been trained to recognize creepy old men and she knows to take note of who they are, and what their patterns are, in the event that a police report needs to be filed.  

So, then there was lunch.

To save money I often eat at a sandwich from a supermarket deli.  I've written about it here before.  There are several employees there and some of them are quite nice and engaging, while others are surly and put little care into sandwich making.  I don't blame them, I merely state it as a fact.  

There's one guy in particular who seems to have a somewhat managerial air about him. At least he seems to wish to engage customers in a vaguely corrective manner, disguised as information.  He has attempted to do that to me a few times in the past.  I ordered a stock sandwich from the placard menu that hangs above the glass divider, a sandwich I have had many times.  It's an easy sandwich to get along with, not messy, and reasonably light.  The ingredients of the sandwich are listed next to the picture.  I know them well.

I gave the only instruction, that I wanted "light mustard" on the sandwich.  I state this each and every time because if you don't then you will get a sandwich that tastes only of vinegar.  Their enthusiasm for condiments knows little restraint.  Then, as I always do, I got myself a cup of water from the soda machine.  By the time that I came back, only a few seconds later, I noticed that there was an enormous glop of mayonnaise on one side of the bread.  

"I didn't want mayonnaise.  I asked for light mustard."

He responded, "When I ask you what sandwich you want, you say light mayo. I think you are confused, my friend."

"I'm not confused, friend. I know the difference between mayonnaise and mustard. I order the same sandwich all of the time and I never order mayo with it.  I don't eat mayonnaise."

"Then why you order it this time?"

"I didn't and this isn't the first time you've made this mistake.  I eat here quite often, as you know, and you've made this same mistake before.  So, for the future, to avoid confusion, you can know that I don't eat mayonnaise.  Also, not that it matters, but that wouldn't even qualify as 'light mayonnaise', would it?"

"You didn't ask light mayo, you ask mayo."

"You weren't listening then and you're not listening now.  The ingredients of the sandwich are listed on the board here.  If you look at it you'll see that mustard is an ingredient and mayo is not.  You can use this board for future reference if you need to.  But if you're going to need me to list all of the ingredients that I don't want on my sandwich then I'm going to need a longer lunch break.  But for now, and for the future, please just make the sandwich that I order, as shown above, but with light mustard, friend."

"Ok, you no need to be angry.  Mayo is your friend too."