Monday, August 13, 2018

Beautiful Women



I am up too early this morning without energy or good feelings.  I feel like a day in bed, but I have much to do at the factory today.  I wanted to write a good story here, but a good story requires good feelings, and I haven't any as I sit here and listen to my stomach rumble and gurgle.  I just want more sleep.

I must skip the boring chronological narrative I just began to write.  It was just words on a page.  They made sense, but what was I telling to whom?  Who gives a shit?  I mean it was like a freshman comp assignment:  "My Truck and My Brother's Truck."

His is a four speed, mine a five.  Mine has leather, his has cloth.  Mine is newer than his by two years and more styling.  It makes me feel like I'm pimpin'.

"Jesus Christ, kid, who are you writing this to?  Who cares?"

Who cares, indeed.

Let me skip ahead.  After a day of the usual Sunday things, I called my mother to tell her I was heading back to her place for dinner (I need to quit saying "home") and asked what we were having.  She was making some frozen leftovers that I had rejected once before, this after asking her what she wanted for dinner before I left her house.  I'll get something to cook, she said.  I was more than pissed.

I didn't go back to her place to eat.  Instead, I thought I'd try the little noodle shop that is so difficult to get into, but it was Sunday and it was raining after a powerful storm, and it was about the right time between the first and second servings, so I thought things might work out.

I pulled into the crowded parking lot and got a spot from some people who were leaving.  Yes, I thought, this is good luck.  First diners.  But inside, the place was packed wall to wall.  The couple in front of me at the hostess stand were told the wait would be an hour and a half.  I asked for a seat at the chef's table, and the pretty tattooed girls smiled at me and said, "Right away."  It is not always bad to dine alone.

I looked around.  The place was full of very beautiful women.  I'm sure there were men, too, but I don't remember any.  Just women joyful in their youth and beauty.

The sous chef was new.  At least to me.  She was slim, dressed in black jeans and a black long sleeve t-shirt that had the markings of a weegee board on the front.  Her hair was as black as her jeans and tied into pig tails, a red bandana wrapped into a headband and tied in front.  Her eyes were dark and her eyebrows darker.  She had the smoothest skin I'd ever seen.  When she looked up at me without raising her head and smiled. . . .  A man can fool himself very easily.

But as I looked around the kitchen where the food was being prepared, I thought about Anthony Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential."   Sunday is when all the shit food gets cooked, the leftovers from the week before the new food shipments arrive on Monday.  And when the bowl came, I knew that that was right.  The cut chicken thighs were tough and gristly, and even though the soup was very hot, the center of the halved hard boiled egg was cold.

"I'll pay for this," I thought.

As this morning tells, I was right.

Last night I dreamed of a medium sized blonde wearing a short dress, lying on a couch, reading a book.  I could not see her face, but I know who she was.  She lay twisted on her side to look down at the book resting on the couch so that the hair fell over her face, a slight gap between her knees so that I could see the strength in the muscles of her inner thighs.  I don't often have such dreams, but I had this one all night, or so it seems.

What is the point of telling this?  Beats me.  But I can tell you that it is a lot more interesting than the narrative I wrote about running the exercise course.

"To whom are you telling this?  Who cares?"

I do.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Saga (of Sorts)



I did it!!!!  I got out of the house for a minute.  Even hours.  A trip.  A saga.  An adventure.

Well, not exactly.

In the morning, after coffee and the news, and after bugging my friends with clippings and links to stories as is my irritating habit, I was going to go for a run.  I got dressed, and then the rain came.  I was flummoxed.  I didn't feel well and didn't want to run anyway.  But I didn't know what to do.  My mother was fine, of course, with me sitting in a chair all day with her.  My nerves were bunched and my body was quivering.  I was in what they call "a bad place."  I wasn't catatonic.  I couldn't stop pacing.  It seemed to me that I no longer knew how to do the simplest of things.  Two centimeters from a crying breakdown.

I showered.  That was a first step.

I packed up my car.  That was the second.

I told my mother I had to buy some things for the house.  That was the third.

I sat in the car for a long time deciding.  My mother sat in her chair in the garage, a monument to complete resignation.

I had to go the wrong way to go the right one.  I drove as if to my house, then went around the block. It was raining.  I didn't care.  I headed for a town about forty minutes away, an old cracker place full of old-time religion.  I was uncertain.  I hadn't been there in my adult life.  I had no idea what I would find.  But I had cameras and a notebook.  I was your correspondent "on the road."

O.K.  But you don't know.  You really don't.  I have become an emotional slave, a crippled mess.  What do I have to think about while sitting in my mother's house other than that I have, in the past three months, been completely abandoned by my former life (split infinitive and all).  It may seem trivial from where you sit, I know.  It would seem so to me, too.  The problem, you think, is so simply solved.  That is what it is like to be on the outside.  But the inside is full of self-doubt and condemnation, whiskey, nerve pills, a little boo, and more whiskey, jet fuel waiting for a spark.

I used to be brave and confident, and little scared me.  Oh, I was scared of things like avalanches and lightening strikes and poison darts, sure, but I felt that I could handle whatever came.  I could dodge a bullet and beat the bad guy.

I wasn't 86 years old then.  This life has left me crippled in many, many ways.

As is my wont, I got off the big highway as soon as I could to dart down backroads, through countryside, looking. . . always looking.  This wasn't Grit City.  It was Crackerville, pure and simple. It is where my people came when the old neighborhood was taken over by gangstas.  And I'm not kidding.  I saw a sign for one of my old high school classmate's insurance agency there.  He used to be in the old neighborhood.  He went with the clients, I know, and my high school comrades were not the most enlightened people you might meet.  But they were more so than the original inhabitants of Crackerville.

Crackerville is on the banks of one of the largest lakes in the state.  It used to be surrounded by orange groves.  When I was a kid, my father had a boat, and we would go there to launch it for the day.  There was a big public swimming pool there, too, that we used to go to in the summer.  The lake, because of the runoff from the groves, became one of the most polluted bodies of water in the country.  It died.  I read twenty years ago about a study that showed the effects of the nitrates on alligators.  The males were feminized and had a low fertility rate.  The study was extended to residents who lived near the lake.  The males had been feminized, too.  Their reproductive organs were smaller and their sperm count drastically reduced.

Well, that's one way to deal with the Cracker problem.

Somehow I made it to the center of town.  I could see the giant Farmer's Market in the town's square and found street side parking just a block away.  I grabbed my camera and took a big breath.

Man. . . downtown was beautiful.  There were funky coffeeshops and beautiful restaurants and yoga studios and every kind of houseware and clothing store you could want.  There was an old theater and an old hotel restored.  I wandered the streets with the same photo-apprehensions, though, waiting for someone to come up to me with righteous indignation and anger.  A camera is a terrorist weapon in the hands of an 86 year old.  You can look that up.  But there was no rain at all and the streets and square was packed, and I have to admit, I had fun.

After a couple hours, though, I was exhausted in the way that such photographing will exhaust you, and I decided I would leave before the cop that had followed me for awhile decided that I was worth troubling.  I decided to cruise the countryside and see if there were any traces of things I would remember from childhood.

I drove to the lake.  There was a community pool and a shuffleboard court definitely from the late forties or early fifties, part of a giant trailer park community with very prominent signs letting you know that everything there was for residents only.  I was already tired and didn't have it in me to make another photo adventure, but I am self-committed to coming back.  I'll probably get arrested for trespassing or worse, but there were some things in that trailer city that you don't see any longer which require my eye for preservation.

Past the park there were scattered developments with signs announcing the names of the "communities," mostly large, cheap stucco houses considerably lacking in trees and landscaping.  The most interesting things, at least visually, were the water towers and the sewage plants.  I cut down a couple more roads that led back to town, through some "minority" neighborhoods that looked just like the cracker neighborhoods on the city's outskirts, places I would love to get out and wander through, but that would take a real and deep commitment of the type I'm not ready to make just yet but of the type I tell myself I one day will.

Now, the adrenaline wearing out, I was tired and hungry, and so I turned in the direction of my own hometown.

An hour later, mid-afternoon, I was sitting in a favorite boutique cafe eating a huge, thinly sliced turkey club sandwich with thick cuts of sugar cured bacon and avocado slices and drinking mimosas. And, for the first time in months, I could say that I felt a twinge of happiness.

I went to my house and lay on my bed, a bed I haven't spent the night in for over three months.  Two hours later, I woke.  "Oh, shit," I thought, "I have to hurry.  I have to make dinner for mother."  But I wanted to dump the images from the card into the computer, and I wanted to work on one or two before I left.  I put on some music--MY music--that I haven't heard for a long while and began perusing the day's shoot.  I picked an image and started working it.  I wanted to do more than just tweak the sharpness and color and contrast.  I wanted to work on a "signature" look, so, as I used to do so many years ago now, I began to explore, invent, mix, and play.  What fun.  The music carried me along, the images changing before my eyes, me trying to predict what would happen if I added this or took away that, and the afternoon turned to late afternoon turned to early evening.  I had to go, I had to go, but I wanted to stay.  I remembered my life, one I enjoyed a long time ago, and I was loathe to leave.

But one has duties, so I rushed out, went to the grocery store, and hurried back to my mother's.  I opened the door to "Gunsmoke" and the blare of commercial t.v.  I panicked a bit when I checked the whiskey, but then I remembered I'd bought another.  I opened a good bottle of wine--I thought I deserved it--and began preparing the evening's meal.  My mother hovered.

Dinner done, I wanted to watch a documentary on a British photographer, but my mother had no interest in that.  We watched three more episodes of "Mad Men."  And then, much whiskey later, I want to bed.

I'll have other pictures and maybe other stories if I get a chance.  If I can work on the pictures.  They are over there, at my house. . . waiting.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Abduction



Week's end, I made it out for an early moment.  Sat at the bar, alone, and watched the parade go by outside the big plate glass window.  I ate and drank and thought like I have a million times in the past.  And in an hour, it was over.  I went to my mother's.

"Did you already eat?"

"Yea.  I had sushi.  That's it.  That's my big Friday night."

"Well," she said bitterly, "this is mine."

Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ.  I bit my tongue.  Hard.  I didn't say anything.  I tried to read for awhile, but I couldn't escape the hyper loud ramblings of M*A*S*H and shitty commercials.  How does one quit drinking?

I gave up.  We watched three episodes of "Mad Men."  Then I went to bed.  My mother stayed up to watch more episodes of "Naked and Afraid."

I get up early in the mornings to have some quiet.  Reading, writing, and coffee.  But my mother gets up soon after me.  Why?  She wants to talk.  Everything is interrupted.  I thought for a moment that I wanted to write something here, but now I can't remember what it was.  Some vague memory of one of mom's shows, perhaps?  That up to five percent of Americans have been abducted by aliens?  This was reported by a Ph.D. at a convention of the abducted.  The hall was packed with people telling of their experiences.

"What do you think, that all these people are just making this up?"

"Yes."

I have to admit, there was an impressive list of congressmen and actors who say they have been abducted.  It must be true.  All the abductions are practically identical.  Aliens are highly predictable.  And they love a good probing.

Who doesn't?

I am beginning to pray for an abduction.

I have to quit drinking, but seriously, I have nothing else.  I can't function if I smoke pot and I don't have any good prescriptions.

And yet. . . my life is better than 99% of the world's population.

How do they do it?  How do they go on?

I guess they think they are winning.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Goals



A perfect metaphor.  Childhood/adulthood.  And a dog.  I don't know who the photographer is, but wow.

I met the new CEO of the factory yesterday.  She looked at me with the same eyes as did the old one. Not a problem.  I'll just float like a butterfly like Mohamed Ali.  I make my best impression when I'm not there.

But if you have to be somewhere, you can't go wrong imitating Alfred E. Neuman.

The weekend is nye.  It seems like a good idea, but who knows?  It could turn out like last weekend or the one before that or the one before that.  Or. . . I could take a day trip somewhere.  That my sound lame to the likes of you, dear reader, but it would be a monumental undertaking for me.  There are towns within striking distance that would offer up something.  Or the beach.  Oh, my, though, so much to worry about.  Homebound is so much easier.  You just sit in a room with the lights out and the t.v. on and worry that you have pissed away your life.

That kind of talk might just get me out of the house.  My mother's house.  I don't know mine anymore.

On a positive note, I went to spin last night.  It was easier than the first time but still hard.  I pooped out a few times.  Everyone else seemed fine.  I am hoping to reach the fitness level of those mostly overweight men and women.  My heart was pumping and I was sweating and my mind was fighting to deal with the strain.  Yes, before you know it, I'll be ready for Lance Armstrong, that cheater.  But I do feel fit--or fitter--this morning.  My plan is to keep spinning and slow down on the drinking until I am barely drinking at all.  Once I have a thirty inch waist and bulging thigh muscles, I'll have reached my goal.

You have to have goals if you want to win.  Or lose.  Or anything in between.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Worst Lies



I have gotten myself all in a tizzy, as the old folks used to say, because I am meeting the factory's new CEO today.  She has just come aboard and is making her first rounds.  I had thought not to embarrass my bosses  by dressing like they do, cheap versions of Trump personal.  Then I thought to tone it down, to be a little more hipster.  I bought a couple skinny silk knit ties.  I put them on and thought I looked like someone trying too hard.  I have changed my mind again, and now I have decided to wear jeans and a white shirt with a pale linen jacket and buttery leather slip ons.  There is no use in not being true to yourself.

That is sort of what I thought at three in the morning.  This morning.  I woke up in a heart thumping panic, dry mouthed, head pounding.  Was it the liquor?  I remembered that I had not drunk much water yesterday.  Was it stress?  It did not have to be exclusive.  All of these could contribute.  I got up and visited the bathroom and then got a drink of water and went back to the bed.  And when I lay down, I remember thinking, "The worst lies are the ones you tell yourself."

I tried to think of the lies I have been whispering into my own ear.  As we all know, it is difficult to live with the truth.  The truth for me might become unbearable.

But I have friends to keep me down.  It is true.  I think they enjoy watching my trajectory and theirs.  As someone said of Hemingway, they are always ready to give me a hand down the ladder.  And they are ready to revise my history, too.

I was at the Cafe Strange for a single beer yesterday.  I had to decide between trying to exercise or a drink.  I didn't have long.  The beer won.  It was nice in the cafe late in the afternoon as the day was lovely and the place was full of my favorite things.


My favorite things, though, don't pay as much attention to me now.  One friend told me they never did.  Another told me they would if I had lots of money.  That might be true for other than the obvious reason.  I mean, I would I would certainly be better looking with more money, and my confidence surely wouldn't have shattered like precious glass.  The wealthy don't grow old, do they?  I'm kidding.  I saw my girl Paris Hilton on t.v. the other day.  It was shocking.  She didn't seem as confident, either.  But at least with money I might afford unlimited travel, and as everyone knows, travel and romance go hand in hand.  "I don't regret a day or a dollar," wrote one friend.  He has spent a lot of his money on travel.

I probably need that as much as anything, but I have become homebound and frightened.  It has been a long time since I've gone anywhere outside my zip code.  I could be closing in on a year.  Soon, I will be like everyone else who stays home and watches the news.

But today's concerns first.  Roll the dice and see what comes up.  I'll know within a second what the CEO thinks.  I am pretty good at reading eyes.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

A Moment Out



This once was one of my destinations in NYC when they still had bookstores.  Scribner's was, and it was the same building that Hemingway and Fitzgerald walked into to see Maxwell Perkins.  Fifth Avenue.  I was thrilled, but that is what it is like to be young.  One year I went and it had been turned into a Benetton store .  Remember Benetton?  Well, nobody remembers Scribners any more, either.  I guess that is just the way things go.

I just Googled Benetton.  It is still a going concern.  I Googled Scribner's.  Had to drill down to find them.

I am fat again.  That is what comes of being depressed, eating, and drinking.  I feel like an overstuffed sausage.  This is not a good look for an older single gentleman.  What can you do?  My buddy told me he joined Tinder last week.  I was stunned.  Why would he do that?  I think it cost him $100.  For what?  Rejection?  He showed me the app on his phone.

"Look at this one.  Swipe right."

He swiped his finger across the screen of his phone.

He showed me several more girls and did the same.  He explained to me that if those girls swipe right on his profile, he will be allowed to communicate with them.

"!!!!!"

He must be crazy, I said.  Had anyone swiped right on him?

"Well, I just joined."

"You'll have much better luck on Grindr."

"What's that?"

I explained to him.  I have several gay friends who have Q'd me in.  It is a wonderful app, apparently, if you are gay and like sex.  Tinder, I think, isn't as good for men.

I told my secretary about it.  She laughed.

"Yea," she said, "It doesn't work as well for men."

"Sugardaddyforme.com.  That is what my buddy should be on."

Yea, I'm swollen up like a pumpkin.  Tinder would be the last straw.  The camel's back would absolutely be broken.

But don't give up hope for me, loyal reader.  Last night I went to a spin class.  Oh Sweet Jesus.  How did I get so out of shape?  It took a while.

By the time I got out of "class," got back to my mother's and showered, it was later than she would usually eat.  She wasn't hungry, she said, which I knew meant she had already eaten.  Now I have been eating home cooked food almost exclusively, but as it was late and my mother wasn't eating, I said I would go up the street and buy some take-out from the Peruvian chicken place, La Granga.  The place had changed a bit since I'd last been there some years ago.  The menu had expanded.  But the kitchen and staff were still all Spanish speakers and the food was just as good.  I had gone up in a new pair of lounging pants I bought from some company in China, big baggy things that are pedal-pusher length.  I shouldn't have gone out of the house in them, but they were just the thing for this Hispanic crowd.  I looked like I'd stolen my pants from a Mexican laundromat.  O.K.  I know I can't make those kinds of puns any longer, but seriously, here in my own hometown Mexican men don't wear short-shorts.  They don't wear shorts that come above the knee.  Oh, I'm over-explaining and not winning anyone over, so. . . . But the young girl behind the counter apparently thought I was cool.  She took my order and then, rather than making me wait while it came up on the other side of the counter, left the register with its long line and put my order together loading it up with beans and rice and putting in extra plantains.  The joint was hopping and I was out in the waning of the day under the electric lights, all the sounds and smells foreign to me for a moment.  I didn't want to leave.  I wanted to stand and smile at the young woman handing me my bag o' food.

Maybe there is a dating site for Hispanics.

Jesus Christ!  There are lots of them.  I just Googled it.  Not just Hispanics.  Every culture has its own.  My buddy's fucking up.  There are dating sites that would certainly be more fun than Tinder.

I came back to my mother's, back to the routine and ordeal.  But I had broken it all for a brief instant.  It is a start.  Perhaps I'll quit drinking again, and maybe I'll keep going to spin class occasionally, and maybe I'll lose this overstuffed look, and maybe. . . just maybe. . .  I'll get out of town.  Just as I'm writing this, one of my traveling friends sent me a photograph and a message--"Go 2 Columbia."

There's a thought.

The United Colors of Benetton


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

My Emojis



In the mornings, I cut and paste news stories and send them to friends, but I try to be judicious.  Sometimes I make a mistake which only seems normal as it is early and I send A LOT of silly stories, headlines, etc.  For instance, from this morning, this.


Who I send it to and what I comment is. . . you know. . . I wouldn't want to make a mistake.  But I do sometimes.  And then the shit hits the fan and I get a snarky reply and then my feelings are hurt and I don't send anything else to that person for awhile until I just can't stand it any more and then I'll start up again.  I have a few friends I can send anything to without fear, but there are only a couple.  They are never snarky, only witty.  They are my favorite people.

I was sent this one and then forwarded it to some others I thought would like to read it.  From a couple to whom I had not corresponded for some time, I received the snotty rebukes.


Even as I write this, two more are sent me about which I have to use good sense.



I want to send these to some feminist friends, but only a couple will see the significance.  The others would just take offense.

It is a tightrope I wake in the mornings.  I just forwarded the links to two friends, one of whom may have been a mistake.  If you look at the Beyonce Vogue cover and see too many contradictions to name, then we are on the same page.


I have these instead of emojis, but they seem to work the same way.  Nonverbal communication.  Rich in meaning and subtext.  Fun.  Better than the discussions about the worth of a life that I am having with others.  Words are even trickier than images.

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Nightly Nerves



Just choosing some shitty, nightmarish images to go with last night's horrors.  I won't bore you with this again. . . for long.  I woke up with the deepest terrors and hoped it was nearly morning.  It was one-thirty.  I had to take a nerve pill to get back to sleep.  I am still all nerve pill now.  No gym this morning.  But the nerve pill did its job.  I will be here another day.

Yesterday I went out with an old friend.  We spent the day riding, he on his little motorcycle, me on my scooter.  We went for breakfast and then rode around and ended up for beers.  It was another gorgeous afternoon, hot, but the sky and light were perfect.  We finished the afternoon at his newish home, new to me as I had not seen it.  It is a lovely remodeled '50s home in which all rooms open up to his odd pool, a series of offset connected squares and lavish garden that looks very Japanese/Hollywood 1950s.  Being there is like being on vacation.  My friend has inherited luck and money and is able to afford a lifestyle that I can't aspire to, a life without a job or financial worry.  He has been my friend for about thirty years and has always been a good guy, and early on, when his parents were alive, he worked every day, but now the work week has gotten shorter and shorter, and his lifestyle has become more obvious.  It never bothered me in the past.  I guess I still had illusions.  Yesterday, however, I was more than envious.

Last night all my bad decisions and squandered opportunities came back to haunt me.

He is still friends with my ex-wife who has plenty of money, too.  "They" all do, it seems, members of the country club set and such, BMWs and Range Rovers and classic Benzes, and constant trips and vacations.  None of it has ever bothered me for I always felt I had something they didn't have, that I held the advantage.  Suddenly I just feel very old, tired, and broke.  The future, as they say. . . well, last night was bleak.

I have friends with no more money than I, but they don't seem to worry or to mind, and I assume that something is wrong with me.  It seems fitting assumption.

Wait a minute!  I said I wouldn't go on about this.  But you've been here before.  You knew better than that.  I am journal writing again.

I have never spoken much about what Ili did, who she was.  Just a figure here, a name and a companion.  I've hardly fleshed out any details about exes.  They have all been well educated and in the main from enviable families, some with extensive pedigrees.  Some of them have been from families with fabulous wealth, the Friends of Trump type.  Ili, too, but she was smart.  Really smart.  She had focused her intelligence into a career that required more than the others.  I don't think I told her enough, but she knew it, though my not saying it was probably a sore point.  She was smart and had a career and could make as much money as she wanted without the family wealth.  It is her intelligence that leaves the biggest void.

We were downtown yesterday, and it was busy.  The restaurants and bars were bustling.  Men and women were styling and strutting.  Egos abounded.  There may have been a time, I don't know, when I might have sniffed potential in the air, but yesterday it all smelled of something else.

I don't think I have much of an agenda at work today, which is good.  I think I'll just float on nerve pills.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Illusions



The worst of it is when it begins between two and four o'clock.  If it doesn't start until five or five-thirty, getting up, going to the bathroom, having a drink of water, and lying back down knowing that sunrise is in the offing makes it bearable.  The sleep that occurs after lying back down is usually peaceful.  Either way, though, the horror show is the horror show and I can't figure out how to make it stop.  Surely some must have peace at this age.

But I've figured out part of the puzzle.  I walked into the Walgreen's liquor store the other afternoon.  The fellow behind the counter is an older man from the islands who has worked there a very long time.  He is severely overweight and has a difficult time moving about.  He asked me how I was doing and I said fine and asked him how he was doing.  I guess that was the point.  He said he wasn't doing so well.  Why not, I queried?  He had fallen and had been off work a few days.  Turns out, he needs to have his knees replaced.  Well, I said, they get you up and going right away.  You'll be as good as new.  Then he looked at my shirt and asked me if I played polo.  No, I said, why?  He pointed to the polo insignia on my Ralph Lauren.  He loved polo, he said.  I wondered at that.  Polo is not part of this man's economic bracket.  He will never own a string of polo ponies, nor could he ride a horse.  I can't imagine that he ever rode.  And that is when it struck me, the answer to the question I posed yesterday.  How do they do it?

Fantasy!

Of course.  I've read my Eugene O'Neil.  I know that when we strip away people's illusion about their lives, they drop down to the bottom of the deep well of depression.  Our illusions cary us through.

I feel stripped of mine.  There are no illusions for me between two and four o'clock in the morning.  I go to bed with them, I swear.  What happens to them, I don't know.  But in the darkness, they are gone.  The iron gates of hell have been opened and there is nothing but hags, she-devils, demons, and boogeymen.  They seem to enjoy their work.

Yesterday, I did some things that must be done, depositing checks and taking laundry to the cleaners.  Then I took one of my Leicas to the camera repair shop, a little, cluttered place run by a now old hipster.  He had other customers and I was content to sit and watch the show.  It lifted my spirits to be there among the cameras and clutter and music in the narrow rooms of what was once a house as my friend went through his paces.  It felt good to be back in the world.  The afternoon was gorgeous, the skies a distant blue, the air clear as ether.  Something had swept away the humidity so the heat was just heat and not the suffocating, mold and mildew vapor that has been surrounding us.  The doom and gloom were gone for awhile.  My heart lifted.  The world was beautiful again.

And then, in late afternoon, I returned to my mother's.  When I pulled into the driveway, she was sitting in a chair on at the edge of the garage, rocking back and forth, obviously not feeling the same about the day as I.  She told me of her complaints.

That is when I had my second epiphany of the day.  I cannot let myself feel joy as my mother is not joyful, and if I do for a moment, it is immediately replaced by guilt.  And I'm certain that this is normal.  The living must not be allowed to be joyful among the aged and maimed.

And so. . . I know these things.

And apparently, knowing this does not vanquish the other.  At least I slept until five-thirty.

It has become clear to me, too, the role of a lover.  Illusion.  A lover lets you believe something about yourself that you want to believe in.  It is as simple as that.  That is what is so difficult when they go.

In the startling light of the afternoon, I took my old Rollieflex outside.  I have not used it enough and have never really gotten comfortable with it.  But yesterday, fooling around with the settings, I realized why it was such a good street camera for Vivian Maier.  You can zone focus with it very quickly.  I've never done that.  I've tried to look through the screen and focus precisely which takes a long time, but it occurred to me that I could simply look down at the focussing screen and see the distance settings.  I walked around the yard estimating distances and setting them, then I would look closely through the viewfinder to see how I did.  With a little practice, I got pretty good.  Working that way, you can take a picture pretty darn quickly.  I had always wondered how Maier got those candid shots in the streets with that camera.

Today's picture was taken with the Rollieflex sometime back when I could still go to Grit City.  If my balls swell a bit today, I may take that camera out for a run.  But you know. . . it is confidence you lose when the illusions leave you.  Hmm.  Tragedy relies on hubris and a bad decision.

"I am confidence.  I am all confidence."

That is what the young cocksman says before the fall.

There is more thinking to be done here, but mother is up and I need to pay some attention to reality and all its precious needs.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Electroshock in Blue



Like many Americans, I think I am suffering from depression.  I just read that Dick Cavett suffered from it and had electroshock therapy just after college.  He said it made a great difference--for the better.  One of my employees had it and it seems to have ruined her, though it may just be that it has not cured the depression.  Another of my employees told me his doctor has recommended it for him.  He says what he is suffering from is bad, very dark and deep.  I believe we all know the root cause of mine.  I lay a lot of it out here every day.  Knowing it, though, doesn't seem to help.

I left work yesterday excited for the weekend.  I was out early and stopped for an Old Fashioned at my favorite upscale bar.  I just wanted one and a chance to think about what I would do with my time.  It is a place that Ili and I frequented, and I thought about that.  Sitting alone at the bar, I didn't feel like Don Draper.  I was too conscious of myself, my movements.  That is a horrible way to be.  I paid up and left to visit my house.  I had some packages on the doorstep and some bills in the basket under the mail slot.  The old house smelled unused.  I sat down in one of the leather chairs not knowing what to do, and as I was thinking, I got a text from an old friend who asked if I wanted to meet him at a good Italian restaurant at seven for a drink.  I wrote back that I couldn't, that I would be at my mother's.  Then I called my mom to see what she wanted for dinner.  She had eaten late in the afternoon, she said, and wasn't really hungry.  We could have some old chicken she had frozen and she could make potato pancakes from the leftover mashed potatoes.  My Friday was going south, it seemed to me, and irritated, I told her to go ahead and have that.  I would get something out before I came home.  That sounded like a good idea.  I would go to the Italian restaurant and eat.  I wrote my buddy that I would be there if he came early, but I did not hear back.

When I got there, the bar was full, so I had to sit at the outside bar facing into the restaurant which meant I didn't have a view of the street.  It was hot.  I couldn't remember what I always ordered and made a mistake.  What I got was not very good, but the bartender was friendly and asked me where my girl was.  Yea, yea. . . .  Nothing was fun, and I was blaming her.  I let myself get mad about it for the first time which makes sense since I have been around my mother and have needed to be pleasant and kind.  But it boiled out of me sitting there at the restaurant eating a meal that we normally would split.

A $15 Old Fashioned and a $50 dinner later, I was back at my mother's house.  She was lying on the couch and not feeling well.  I looked at the whiskey bottle and made a quick decision.

"Do you need anything from Walgreens?" I asked.  I made a quick exit to the liquor store.

I didn't want to get out of bed this morning.  I realize that it is going to take a lot of energy to combat the way I'm feeling now, and I keep wondering how people do it?  How do people struggle through lives that are thousands of times worse than my own, poor people without power or voice, without good food, who live in war-torn countries without the basic elements I take for granted?  How do they go on surrounded by guns and drugs and hideous others?  What do they look forward to?  It is incomprehensible to me even though I come from such stock.  I've looked at my relatives and wondered that my entire life?  Their lives and the lives of their friends and neighbors. . . how do they survive?

But they do while people like Anthony Bourdain take a powder.

It's Saturday morning, and I am sitting in a chair without much will to move.  But move I must.  I can't become catatonic now.  I've got to find something that will make me laugh.  But really, I think, I have to let my emotions do what they are wanting to do right now.  I can't keep everything bottled up.

The future looks bleak, but a wink and a smile might fix that.  A lifting of a skirt, the opening of a kimono.  I am shallow.  Maybe that is how I got here in the first place.

Friday, August 3, 2018

The Morning Chuckle



No shit.  You can't make this stuff up.  Every morning I read the news for a chuckle.  Not the stuff about global warming or Trump, of course, but the other news like this.


Not everyone is going to get a kick out of this, I know, but it works for me.

CLEVELAND — Nick Nutter, an All-American heavyweight wrestler at Ohio State turned professional martial arts fighter, sat watching the television last January as one by one, the young women, former gymnasts — some of them Olympians — took the stand in a courtroom in Michigan, and in wrenching testimony, detailed how their team doctor, Lawrence G. Nassar, had used his power to sexually abuse them.

The memories that Mr. Nutter for so long had tried to bury came surging back, he said: how when he was in college, his team doctor groped him “19 exams out of 20”; how the doctor once called him to his house for an emergency treatment of a poison ivy rash, carefully laid down and smoothed out a white linen sheet on his bed, then repeatedly groped his genitals when he was supposed to be treating the rash — and how for two decades, the burly no-holds-barred fighting veteran had said nothing.

Mr. Nutter said he had always believed, “‘He’s a doctor, I’m sure he’s got a reason to be doing it.’”

I sent this to a friend of mine who must remain nameless since I don't wish to drag him into my mess, and he wrote back:

"He did have a reason for doing it. The logic there is impeccable ."

This is why I have friends.  O.K.  It was C.C.  

Then there is this. 


But after a firestorm of criticism on social media over a white poet’s attempt at black vernacular, as well as a line in which the speaker makes reference to being “crippled,” the magazine said it had made a “serious mistake” in publishing it.

“We are sorry for the pain we have caused to the many communities affected by this poem,” the magazine’s poetry editors, Stephanie Burt and Carmen Giménez Smith, wrote in a statement posted on Twitter last week, which was posted above the poem on the magazine’s website a day later, along with an editor’s note calling the poem’s language “disparaging and ableist.”

I know.  I'm not right.  Maybe we should ban all art that hurts someone's feelings.  Other people's, I mean.  Churches whack me out, but nobody seems to care.  

Of course, the N.Y. Times columnists read my blog, and after I posted my thoughts about the new Ideologists, one of them wrote a funnier version that you absolutely need to read (link).  The Times will probably have to publish a retraction tomorrow after all the kale eaters start to whine.  It is the new white people vernacular, whining.  I used to like watching Erin Burnett on CNN.  I felt she was very authoritative.  But now. . . well, she has mastered the new white people vernacular.  You know.  "I'm personally insulted. . . . "  

Look at today's picture.  Why are all the men watching her eat the popsicle?  Is the fellow with the hand mansplaining or pleading?  This has to be the way women see the world, men watching, men explaining and/or pleading.  

I'm watching "Madmen" with my mother.  We are on season three now.  I was afraid I'd be bored watching it again.  I was wrong.  That show was so well done that I am getting more out of watching it for the third or fourth time than I did before.  It is as well done as "The Great Gatsby."  You can't change a thing without damaging the rest.  I've never seen anything like it, though "The Wire" was another masterpiece work.  Maybe I'll watch that with my mother when we finish "Madmen."  

That is how I spend my nights now.  And in the morning, of course, there is always the news.  

Tell me my life isn't full.  

Thursday, August 2, 2018

A Photograph Not to Remember



You have one of these.  Everyone does.  It may lack the palm tree, but surely the rest is (too) familiar--the oil-stained parking lot, the scraggly runt shrubs and grungy yellow curb, the seamed wall with scruffy paint.  I saw this Walgreens worker hitting a cigarette and texting against this most common of suburban backdrops and ducked back into my car to get a camera.  I always have cameras, I just don't take pictures with them.  But I did, and the act thrilled me.  The picture is what it is, common, mundane, but that was the underwhelming charm of it for me.  The image will be forgotten as soon as you look away.  It is not memorable.  But it is not an image to remember, I tell myself.  It is one to look at and to register what you feel.  We have made this.  It is our "home."

Last night was as terrible a night as I've had.  My mother has spooked me with her recent talk, and last night I awoke in horror with a splitting headache and a sickly stomach.  Thinking it must be near dawn, I got up to find it was one o'clock, and knowing I would not get back to sleep, I took an Advil P.M.  An hour later, feeling no effects, I got up and took another.  My thoughts were a black hole of doom and gloom from which nothing could escape.

I woke well after my usual hour, and now the day is shot.

I think it was the scented laundry detergent my mother used to wash the sheets.  Why would she use a scented detergent?  It suffocated me.  I took the cases off the pillows and thought of sleeping on the couch.  If it had not been for the heroin in the Advil. . . .

I fear for my mother, and then I fear for myself.  We make our lives, and then we have to live with them.  I have always prided myself in taking responsibility, but now I do not want it.  I hear the pleasured taunts of those who feel I will reap what I have sown.

But this is not what I should write about.  I should be talking about Q's new hard-won fame.  He is the leader of a conspiracy group, Trumpians through and through.  I guess we all reap what we sow.


The palm tree in that photograph, though, changes everything.  Quite a flourish.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Beware The (Ideological) Puritans



I've been trying to find a photograph to use today for too long now.  My extensive library, however, is at my house which is not where I live at present.  Disadvantage me.  I don't have a thing.

But wait!!!  I've just gone back into some old text messages.  Yes, there are images there.


I have nothing to write about, either.  Working, exercising, eating.  And, for a couple days now, not drinking.  These are not inspiring topics.  I might write about weight loss and the troubles therein, but that is stupid talk.  I could speak of the things I think, but they are all taboo now and can only get me in trouble.  It is like that with a lot of my pictures, too.  Today you either have ideology or religion.  The young are Ideological Puritans and have the same fervor for punishment as their religious counterparts.  Punishment, I think, is the woof and weave of our country.  We are all about it.  We kid ourselves that we are kind, and I have even been fooled for short periods of time, but as a general rule, we have never been that.  We used to export entertainment.  You know, Michael Jackson and all that.  Wait--did we punish Michael?  Well, we let the rich get away with more for awhile.  But Little People like us. . . we must watch our steps.  Even a picture like this is trading on shaky ground.  And the meanness and small spiritedness of our country is catching fire around the world.  It is a World of Hate and Twisted Thinking.

I, however, will lose ten pounds.  There is that, and that is something.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Privacy in the Age of Public Shaming



Mark Steinmetz is an amazing photographer, so I was shocked to find so little about him on the internet.  Indeed, he hasn't even a Wikipedia page.  Here is a link to his website, though, if you want to see more of his work (link).  It occurred to me while I was searching information on him that I assumed I could just find everything about him quickly.  It is a terrible fact of life.  Privacy in the age of Google appears indiscreet.  It seems that someone is trying to hide something.  Indeed, there must be something wrong.  We need to call Ronan Farrow.  He'll ferret out all the grizzly facts.  But I wonder. . . is privacy a thing or not?  Does Farrow believe in it?  I think privacy is the next big philosophical question.  It certainly needs deconstructing.

Privacy in the Age of Public Shaming.

I have become a terrible photographer.  I can't take a worthwhile photograph to save my life.  How can such a thing happen, "losing my timing this late in my career"?
Where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns.
Much of what one can do, though, is a result of either madness or reinforcement.  The ability to pursue something without caring what people say is crazy, right?  To value your own judgement above the judgement of the herd?  Sanity is listening to others, especially experts.  Submit your work to the contest and see if you win a prize.  And if you don't, go back to the garage and whittle pieces of wood into duck and geese fixtures.

Steinmetz went to Yale as an art student and won his first major award in the '90s, a Guggenheim Fellowship.  That's the way to do it.  Within a few years, major museums were purchasing his work.

So why isn't there a Wiki page?

Yesterday after work, I took a long walk.  I started at the Physical Fitness Club with the idea of stretching good and long afterwards, but the rains came and when I went into the air conditioning, I was too cold to consider it.  But I had a plan.  I went to the sauna, and after that, I went to the steam room.  I don't know why I don't do that more often.  The only other people in there were men as old and fat as I.  Why is that, I wonder?  Why don't young men take a schvitz?  Does doing so make me automatically old?  I don't know the answer to that (yes I do), but I was set for the rest of the night.  That shit is relaxing.  More importantly, I broke the routine, the rut I am following, and it felt wildly invigorating.  My mother is going to have to wean herself of my omnipresence.  I need to do things that living people do again.  Yoga.  Dinners.  Drinks.

And schvitzes.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Walk Away




I made a tremendous fish stew last night for my mother and myself.  But there was enough for six.  You should have come, too.  I guess there is nothing really difficult about cooking soups and stews, but the process and results always amaze me.  It just works.

We watched Anthony Bourdain while we ate.  He was in an interior part of Brazil that looked like a set made for a photographer.  I decided I would go if I could remember where it was.  I don't hold much stock in what he says about the food.  It's t.v.  You can't know if the food really tastes good or not.  He could be eating boiled turds, but through the magic of television. . . .  But it was a nice backdrop to our perfect stew with crusty bread and a sav blanc that only I used.  My mother isn't drinking any more.  I used a lot of it.

Dinner done, I got up to do the dishes, and as I did, I crowed about how good the stew was.

"I'm telling you, I'm a good cook.  Tell your friends," I said jovially.

"What friends?  I don't have any friends."

Man, I'm tired of this refrain.  It was the perfect way to ruin a good meal together.

"Well, don't tell anyone about it, then.  Keep it to yourself."

My nerves are shot and alcohol ain't doing it any more.  But that is what I've got.  I finished up and poured a big scotch.

We watched a second Bourdain, this one in Rome.  He decided to use his girlfriend as his guide, though he never mentioned the relationship.  Watching it now, though, you see it.  She is a dour girl and he all jumpy trying to cleverly please her.  If you are a guy, you get that right away.  It is a horrible thing to watch.

"Don't do it, man. . . don't do it.  She isn't worth it.  Walk away!"

Watch it.  It's on demand.  You'll see what I'm saying.  She never laughs, never smiles, is never warm in any way.  She just keeps throwing little jabs.

"How do I please you?  What do I do?"

Nothing man.  There is nothing you can do.  Just walk away.

We all know now that he should have.

I should mention that I broke the habit yesterday.  Oh, I rode my scooter, but I went far away to a new place.  I don't usually ride my little scooter so far from home, and it was a little bit of an adventure.  I drove through a distant industrial part of the city.  Nobody was around.  It looked like a movie set.  I wished I had a girl there to photograph.  But I didn't plan on taking any photos.  That was another part of my breaking away from routine.  Coming back, I didn't drive any of the usual roads.  And I didn't go to the Cafe Strange.  I'm not saying the day was anything different.  I still went home and took a nap, read and drank wine.  But somehow I kept the needle out of the vein.

I went to bed with travel thoughts in mind.  And that worked until three when my mother got up and started banging around.  I didn't fall back to sleep after that.

I'm tired of bellyaching, and maybe I'll quit it.  I don't enjoy my mother's, and how much different from hers is mine, really?

That episode of Bourdain, though, telegraphs it all.  You think that if you just stand the right way, say the right words, and don't breathe, it will all work out.  But it doesn't.  He was doomed the moment he tried.  Goddamnit, Bourdain, did you just get too old?  Maybe that's the curse.  But Jesus, fellow, you should have just walked away.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Kafka



It's like junk.  It's like crack.  You intend to stop, but you don't.  "I'm never doing this again."  But you do what you know, and as that '80s prophet said, nothing can compete with habit.

So I did the thing I do that I said I wouldn't do again.  Groundhog Day.  I got on the scooter. . . Cafe Strange.  I was awfully disappointed in myself.  There is no way I can explain it to you other than to say I am pitiful.

Time unravels.

I'll quit talking about it.

My mother comes into the room where I am writing.  She passes by again and again in the mornings once she is up.  She sits in a chair now and does her exercises.  It is her house.  She can do what she wants.  But I am uncomfortable writing with her sitting a few feet away and feel an angriness building in me at not being allowed even a little sort of privacy.  My tension grows.  It is unbearable.

Kafka.  My God, Kafka.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

What I Need



Are you ready for a happy post, one to make you feel good and giggle?  You'll need to go in search of one then because you aren't going to find it here.  This is going to be a good, old-fashioned bellyaching.

First off, I missed the full moon, the Full Buck Moon, the Blood Moon.  I wasn't aware it was coming.  I used to be the one to keep you informed of such things.  You could rely on me.  Now. . . I am out of touch with everything, it seems.  Some part of me knew, I guess, for last night was another screamer.  I was up at two, my heart coming through my chest.  I walked around, had some water, peed, and went back to bed, but my heart was still not beating normally.

I won't burden you with my nightmares.  Rather, I'll put in some quotes here from what I was reading before bed.

I hadn’t worked in ten years and I had retired too late as it was. In those final days, I felt I had run out of courage rather than energy. Seventy-two isn’t a bad age, but sixty-two is too old to be working. You are just impersonating the man you used to be. Retirement had seemed like the best way not to die, but the adrenaline had gone the day I threw in the towel and it never returned. You have your books and your movies, your daydreams and your moments in the sun, but none of those can save you any more than irony can.

The same old conversations of expats who were declining night by night on the terrace. The same gossip about neighbors and real estate deals and aging adultery and petty crime down the coast in Ensenada. The same overheightened indignations about things that didn’t really matter. I realized then that I had never anticipated getting old or not being needed. 


I had dreaded the book thinking Osborne, who can be one of my favorite contemporary writers, had made a huge mistake, but some of the lines and paragraphs are real keepers--if you are his audience.  He didn't write this for millenials.  It is a complete throwback for sure.

Still. . . I can't imagine Hemingway or Fitzgerald or Faulkner doing this.

I got away for the day on Friday, though.  That was good news.  The bad news is that I still had no idea what to do and so did the same thing I've been doing over again.  Which is nothing.  Rode the scooter with cameras. . . etc.  Ended up drinking in the afternoon, taking a nap, getting up in the rain. I told my mother I wouldn't be "home" for dinner, so I went to get the wonderful Ramen at the smallish hipster place.  I went early so that I could eat without waiting.  They open at five, but when I got there at 4:45, there was already a line.  The doors had yet to open.  When they did, I put my name in and took a seat.  They don't begin seating 'til 5:30.  Within seconds, the bar in the waiting lounge was overwhelmed.  Within minutes, the waiting time went from half an hour to an hour and a half.  I was just glad to see that I wasn't the only one in town ready for an early Friday night dinner.  Not by a long shot.

Dinner done, I went back to my house, picked up my things, and headed over to mothers.  By now I was balls deep in alcohol though I told myself in the morning that I was going to quit drinking, and I thought about the herb someone had given me that I haven't used.  I read some more and then went out on the porch to smoke a cheroot.  I took a hit and tried the lighter again, but it broke, so I had to ask my mother for a match.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm trying to smoke this here little cigar," I said.  One hates to disappoint one's parents.

I came back in and poured a scotch and sat down to watch t.v. with my mother.  In about fifteen minutes, I was hungry.  I got up and staggered a little which surprised me, but I made it to the refrigerator and took out some stuff.  Food.  All kinds.  I sat at the table and ate things.  All kinds of things.  The watermelon felt really good in my mouth, cold and wet and refreshing.  There were other things.  I picked up a can of what looked to be Pringles, but it wasn't Pringles.  It was Stackerz, a knockoff product of the sort I spent my childhood and adolescent years with.

Image result for stackerz like pringles

Hydrox instead of Oreos, Hi-Hos instead of Ritz, etc.  But I ate them.  All of them.  And then I poured another scotch.  Something was wrong, though.  I kept reaching slowly for my glass which wasn't there.  It was always in another place.  Fortunately, my mother kept falling asleep in her La-Z-Boy.  Well, a knockoff of one, anyway.

And then, under an unknown full moon, I went to bed.  And that is when the horror show began.

I've decided that what I need is a Camera Girl, someone with whom to shoot and to print and to talk about art in general.  There must be millions of them out there.  They are young and slim and tatted up.  You know the sort.  May have a nose ring.  And they are getting by on less money and would be glad to have access to my millions of dollars worth of gear.  And I do know a lot.  I could mentor.  Isn't that what guys do?

"A tortoise goes to the police after he was mugged by a bunch of snails . The tortoise police ask him what happened . But the tortoise is confused . I can’t remember , he says , it all happened so quickly — ”

Friday, July 27, 2018

Free Mulch




My mother tells me I moaned and yelled in my sleep all night.  She said she was worried about me.  She told me this when she got up after I did.  I've been aching and have stabbing pains all over my body this morning.

"Do you remember having bad dreams?"

"No."

"Do you feel rested?"

"I never feel rested."

I believe aliens perform experiments on me at night.  There is no other explanation.

It is horrible, really.  I had given my secretary some advice the other day which was unusual because I don't give people advice, but she has been dwelling in a bad psychic place, so I told her she needed to focus on some positive thoughts.  Then, yesterday, I realized that I was probably speaking to myself, and I decided to take my own advice.  I need to focus on some positive thoughts.

Trying to find one is difficult.

Instead, I headed to my favorite bar after work and had two Old Fashioneds.  And they sent me for a loop.  When I got to my mother's, I had wine with dinner and then the usual scotch.  All this after I decided that I would stop drinking.  Heading to bed, I was worried, so I took the last half of a Xanax I had left.

I guess that's when the yelling began.

This morning I am tired.  I may be catching the dreadful cold that is going around.  My mother has had it for days, so it is really inevitable.  The weekend weather will be shit and gloom.  I want to go into a sensory deprivation chamber until it is over.

I am always anxious about my health now that I have a doctor.  Always.  I wonder what I have done to my "levels" at every moment.  I'm not worried.  I'm scared.

I tell myself I will quit drinking.  Then I tell myself I will quit eating.  And then I tell myself I will quit both.  I will become an ascetic.

I always write aesthete first.  I confuse the two.

I will become gaunt and hollow.  I can see myself all slim and ropey.  I can feel the emptiness inside.

If I lived in California or Colorado, I would just eat gummy bears and drink water.

See?  Focusing on the positive.  This is why I don't give advice.  Nobody takes it.  We want to share the depression and gloom with everyone.

As I've always said (for ill or good), what do we learn from happy?

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Fun O Rama



In the past few days, I've opined that a photograph doesn't say anything, that it just is.  I'll provide fodder for argument with this one, but I will maintain that it doesn't say anything.  Still, it seems to provide a different kind of information than other pictures I found when I Googled "funorama."






I didn't know who took the first picture, and I wanted to give credit.  Never found out who took it, but I found LOTS of pictures of the old Fun O Rama.  I may be right that none of these pictures says anything, yet one of them is more intriguing than the others, of course.  The second picture (first in the series) might be some people's pick for "most intriguing" if they are inspired by the photographs of William Eggleston or Mark Shore.  I know which one I wish I had taken.  I also know which one I might have taken, and that just breaks my heart.

I will admit that people do read photographs and draw conclusions, and there are many conclusions you can make about the first and many moral comparisons you can make of the first and second.  I can.  I have a lot of voices talking in my head.  They say so many different things.  Listening to them all is paralyzing, of course, if you want to try to make a picture which I haven't done much of for awhile because I can't turn them off.  Politics and the morality do not leave much room for "art."  They might, however, if they are good and true, turn us all into little sitting Buddhas.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Perception Is All Mine



A break up does two opposing things simultaneously.  It shuts your mind down so you are unable to think clearly, and it causes you to consider some things obsessively.  These are difficult to reconcile, but it is what it is, to use a very dumb phrase, and you just have to live through it.

I don't know if this is a universal truth, of course.  It is, I realize, just what is happening with me.  I am unable to think in certain directions, but I obsess over the nature of what we mean by "real."

My secretary got married and seventy-six days later her husband died.  She is young and going through something that only a handful of people have experienced, so I can't even begin to try to give her advice.  When she shows up in my office and begins to cry, I can only be there as sympathetic company.  However, sometimes it seems that I need to say something.

"I can't know, but you just have to live through it.  There isn't a shortcut.  And one day, who knows when, you'll wake up and realize your bones don't hurt.  Until then, you just have to live through it."

I'm a hell of a sage.  But it is the same with all loss, I assume, no matter the size.

A friend came into my office yesterday.  She will have a baby this weekend.  She said she is ready.  She wants sushi and a cocktail.  We talked about sushi restaurants and cocktail bars, and she told me there was a good new place that just opened in Crackerville.  I cocked my head and said softly, "I don't really go there any more."

"Yea, that's probably a good thing.  Do you want me to tell you?"

I shook my head.  "No," I said.

"Good," she said.  "You're better off."

Still, it was a punch to the gut.

My new mantra is that people can't help what they do.  And I think it is true.  That might even include me.

Wow.  I've completely lost my way.  I intended (for days now) to talk about our sensations of "reality," the forces and objects with which we interact, and how we perceive them without ever knowing what they are.  We try to find commonality in experiences, but I believe in it less and less.  We want to universalize our experiences.  We try to tell ourselves, "People are the same all over the world no matter what culture.  We share the same hopes, the same desires, the same dreams."  I can't even believe that is true in my neighborhood.  We don't share the same perceptions.  Some are colorblind, others can't hear, can't taste.  Then there is experience and age.  I am losing the old romantic notion of common human experience.  It is a myth.  The writers of religion knew this, the ones who wrote the words of the gods.  They knew that the only thing that would yoke us and make us one was fear, though they conceded that even that would not be universal.  Still, they knew a common fear was the only way to make things work well enough to get through the day.

I did not know I was going to write that, either.

I read this piece of writing advice from Hemingway yesterday.
The first draft of anything is shit. When you first start to write you get all the kick and the reader gets none, but after you learn to work it’s your object to convey everything to the reader so that he remembers it not as a story he had read but something that happened to himself. That’s the true test of writing. When you can do that, the reader gets the kick and you don’t get any. You just get hard work and the better you write the harder it is because every story has to be better than the last one. It’s the hardest work there is.
As I told Q, I sure get a kick out of my writing.