Thursday, April 23, 2015

Postcards to Strangers



I don't know why I do this any more.  Most things, really, but this in particular.  I'd be better off sending postcards to random strangers.  It would be more personal in a way, and the responses to them would likely be very interesting.  As I write it now, I like the idea.  It is very, very intriguing. 

"Hello, You have been chosen to receive this rare print as part of a far-reaching project exploring the the romantic and the phenomenological implications of shared meaning on a lonely planet."  

Something like that.  Jesus!  Can you imagine getting that in the mail?  It would really shake up your day if not more. 

I'd be in jail in less than a month. 

It is a shame, though.  Everything can land you in jail now.  Everyone is under suspicion. 

"What are you in for kid?"

"They suspected me of being a little strange, they said."

"He-he.  Ain't we all, kid, ain't we all.  What's your name, anyhow?" 

"Kafka.  Franz Kafka." 

"Really?  I can see how that might land you in trouble, a name like that and all.  You really do seem a bit off you know." 

I'm tired now and just want to make it to the weekend so that I might collapse.  That is a hell of a way to live, but it is my life.  It is very, very time consuming, really, all this trying to make meaning on a lonely planet.  Sometimes I just want to go along with things.  Maybe I'll just go along.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Poem Therapy



Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay.
Oh that Robert Frost.  And oh those others. 
so much dependsupon
a red wheelbarrow
glazed with rainwater
beside the whitechickens
 This is just to say. . . in that other world. . . .

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Money and Violence: The History of the World



Popular thinking about why so many young, disaffected youths are attracted to ISIS is that there are no other counter-culture movements.  That makes sense to me.  We have built a generation of young republicans who look up to people like Mark Rubio or some other well-put-together production model.  Hipster culture is not a counter-culture.  It is a culture-within-a-culture.  They like their pleasures, they are just a bit snottier than the typical republican's.  It's either craft beer or Pabst.  Soccer rather than football.  Still, it is part of the consumer culture. 

So if you are a kid dissatisfied by what you find around you, what do you do?  You are so pissed off you just want to blow things up.  You don't have much worldly experience or education.  Maybe you are already stuck in some dead-end labor job.  All of life is making you miserable.  Where is the literature of revolution, of personal evolution, of spiritual uprising? 

Computer games.  Fantasy characters, fantasy worlds.  Violence and transcendence.  If only it were real. 

I don't think I would want to be young in America today.  Don't get me wrong.  I would want to be young again.  But I don't think I'd pick right now if I could choose an era. 

Money and unregulated decadence for the few.  We didn't do such a good job.  Russia?  China?  India?  Nope.  Who is?  These are some serious bad times, I guess, and the coming elections look just like more of the same.  If a kid asked you what s/he should want, what would you tell him/her?  Fewer people?  A cleaner environment?  Fewer companies like Monsanto?  That's not going to happen.  In truth, I wouldn't know what to say.  Be a champion athlete?  An entertainer?  A personality of some sort?  Jesus H. Christ. 

Who will stop the Koch Brothers and their ilk?  Extreme money only responds to one thing.  They won't negotiate until they must.  Money and Violence.  I guess it has been the history of the world.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Happy Life



I just Googled "happiness."  Holy smokes.  Do it yourself.  Take the ride.  Start with Wikipedia, of course, and work your way down from there.  If you are like me, the reading might stress you out.  It might make you worry or even make you miserable.  I am afraid I won't live as long as others who are "happy."  I don't have a wife, a religion. . . . Oy!  I like reading that 50% of happiness is genetic.  My 50% is the cause.  I can meditate.  I can adopt a positive frame of mind.  But man, those Dutch and German genes come straight from "The Sorrows of Young Werther."  I am melancholy by nature. 

I haven't read far enough yet to come to a definite conclusion about the connection between pleasure and happiness, but I am Buddhist enough to know that seeking pleasure is a bad way to find happiness.  But I had better Google "pleasure" and see how it is divided up.  Some pleasures, like the pleasure of a happy family, are different than the drug consuming pleasure that often cause families to dissolve. 

I've never been a real fan of "happy," but as I get older, it seems more and more a good thing.  It is not profound, but it is peaceful and I am all for peace.  Recent studies show that the happiest people in the world live in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and yes. . . even Finland.  Switzerland and the Netherlands, too. 

You don't, however, want to live in Africa or the Middle East.  They are not a happy people. 

It makes me think, however, that the definition of "happiness" is a western construct.  Perhaps it is all in the way we define and measure the term.  If I look at the bunny hutch and trailer park communities around me, I think, "Whoa, there are a lot of unhappy people here."  I grew up in those communities, and that is my experience.  There is more anger and more discontent.  And that, perhaps, is where the chasm between pleasure and happiness becomes clearest to me.  Bubba sure wasn't happy, but he took a lot of pleasure from getting fucked up and beating people.  Often enough, the boys in my neighborhood took pleasure from fucking other people's shit up.  Hell, it may have even been joy. 

The seventeen year old boy who was just convicted of shooting the baseball player in Oklahoma (?) said he and his buddies did it because they were bored.  I think I grew up with them. 

It seems to me that the popular thinking on this is flawed, though.  Sweden adopted lots of Somalians.  They thought it would make them happy.  Oops.  That, it seems, didn't work out as planned.  Immigrants to Italy and France, either.  Have you known people who have adopted children?  It seems a compromise at best. 

So. . . if I decide to move to a happy country like Norway or Denmark or even Australia, do you think I will be happier or do you think I will sink their world standing just a little bit?  I have to wonder how that works.  I don't think that I would be happier in Australia, though.  I hardly have an itch to visit Australia.  I think I'd rather have angst in New York City.  Q has been writing about his week in the city and how much happier he is there. 

My happiest friend lives in Yosemite, and I think that is where I might be happiest, too.  It is my spiritual homeland, I say.  There is nothing like the Sierras.  I will go this year.  I have been offered my friend's house for a number of weeks in July.  There is hardly anything better. 

But today, I must live with my troubles.  I must go to the factory, then the gym, etc.  It is not a difficult life and most people in the world would trade with me without hesitation.  And perhaps, in truth, it is the thought of how easy a life I have and the thought of what it would be like to live without it that buggers me.  And thinking about it just now, I am certain of it. 

So. . . I guess I'd better go now so that I can enjoy this happy life.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Murky Gray



Having fun with the new Impossible black and white instant film 2.0.  It is much, much better than that last version.  And I just got their new color film in yesterday.  I have plans for trying to fuck it up a bit, but first I just want to use it.  It is prototype film and not yet ready for marketing, so it may have some problems of its own.  But instant film is fun, and that is a key ingredient to life, I believe.

The question is, though, what is fun?  Adderall.   Fun?  The Times reports today that this attention deficit drug is now a key to getting ahead in the workplace.  Most of the women I know under the age of forty use Adderall from time to time to get things done.  I can hardly stand to be around them when they take it for they never shut up, especially if they are smoking weed with it.  The twenty-something crowd takes it on a more regular basis.  I don't like working at all, and I don't like speed, so this will never be a drug I use.  I don't want to get more done.  I don't want to stay up all night cleaning and organizing the studio and then coming home to do the same, fall asleep for an hour, then get up and go to work.  I certainly don't want to use it so I can get more work done for my employer.  But according to the article, in a highly competitive market, this is the only way to keep up.  But that is a generation who are attention deficit by default.  Too many chemicals in their food from what I've read.  One generation tries to lose their minds, another tries to get theirs back.  The cycle of life, I guess.

The article which was fun in today's Times was this one about the new Whitney Museum.  Q is there right now.  We will see if he is what he professes or just some Philistine who eschews high culture.  I hope he has a report for us on the new facility.  Hell. . . I don't even know if it is open yet.  It is close to being, I know.

I wanted to break my routine yesterday.  I went with a friend to lunch and had a grilled wahoo reuben sandwich with sangria, then took my mother to buy a new washing machine.  After that, I took her to the AT&T store and put her on my plan with my old, stolen and retrieved iPhone.  I am quite a good boy, they say.  But afterwards as the day began to wane, I felt like some adventure.  My friend and I were talking about the beach and she mentioned a restaurant she liked that I had never been to.  "Let's go," I said which took her by surprise, but within minutes we were in the car with a bottle of scotch for the long ride over.  The restaurant was everything I hate, really, and the food was of the kind that people with mustaches and bellies eat, overcooked and over seasoned and plentiful.  Afterwards in the waning light, we drove out to the beach.  It was gray and miserable looking for some reason.  We both love the beach, but we agreed on this fact.  Still, we were not bummed out by the trip and were home in time to fall asleep watching a movie on my iPad.  Such is life.

This morning is gray and murky.  I may need to make another pot of coffee.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Complainer's Gotta Complain



All this technology takes up so much time.  Trying to be tech savvy enough to keep all my computers and phones synched, updating my mother's software and troubleshooting for her. . . .  Right now I am trying to recover all the contacts I had on my old phone.  It means I have to go back into an older computer and update all the apps, etc.  I am having fits.  Apple used to be easy.  It was all easy.  Nothing is easy any more and I wonder--is it me?  I end up with so many passwords, I can't remember any of them.  I have answered so many password questions and reset so many times, I don't even remember what my favorite car was or my favorite job.  Whatever. 

My nerves are frayed anyway.  I drink too much to relieve the stress and wake in the morning with a heaviness that is confounding. I am making mistakes and bad decisions that complicate my once simple life.  I find I do not want to perform in the off hours and am prepared to die alone. 

Dreadful talk for a pretty Saturday morning.  I must find some bliss today someway.  A walk through some gardens, maybe, or a trip to the beach.  I don't know.  My ass seems heavy and anchored to the chair.  Maybe I am only made for sitting any more.  Sitting and waiting for the beating. 

Enough of that.  I'll stop it.  There is hot coffee and hot blueberry pie.  I will take some pleasure there.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Photographic Sins




Another day for early factory work after a long day and a late night.  Bad throat, bad belly, I just wish for the day's end.  I want to crawl up into a ball for awhile. 

Photography may be the most complicated art.  Not technically, but philosophically.  What the fuck are we doing when we take a picture?  Why do people like them so?  Why are they so charged and dangerous?  They are, without doubt, the "graven image" we have been warned about.  There is little I dislike as much as a mundane photograph. 

The New York Times ran an article on Sally Mann today.  I have never understood the controversy of her pictures.  I still can't.  They are a beautiful glimpse into the secret of things.  They are, as Diane Arbus said about photography, a "secret about a secret."  

In general, I guess, they should just make laws against photography.  There shouldn't be any.  It is all trouble.  All of it.  Just make it illegal.  If you can't learn to draw. . . .

Here is the article on Mann if you are interested  (link).

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Exhaustion



Went to bed at nine.  Woke up at eight.  Perhaps this will end my exhaustion though I know much of it is emotional and not physical.  I know I need a vacation.  Perhaps this (link). 

Something. I need something. 

I have no stories just now, only fears, and fears are boring.  I don't wish to be a bore.

No, no. . . I am in a vacation state of mind.  More a running away, I think.  I would live the Parisian life, but it takes more money than I have.  Money.  It all comes down to that.  They lied to me as a kid.  All the hippies said it was so.  Money and happiness. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Wire



Strange days and nights.  I'm out of my rhythm.  I've made a decision at the factory that is causing me anxiety and sleeplessness.  It is what one gets, being foreman and all.  That and being the sort of human being I am.  What I want most now is to get back to my old patterns, my old routines.  The old comforts, more or less. 

But what is it we tell people who are going through rough times?  "You'll be fine, you'll be fine."  That's what Donald Draper taught me.  When something bad happens, you take off the rest of they from work.  "You should go home," says Double D.  "Why?"  "Because," he says, "that's what people do." 

It is easier to see from outside, of course.  Things will go as they will, and there is little you can do to control it.  Q is going through some rough times.  "You'll be fine," I say.  "You'll suffer, then it will get better.  That's what people do." 

True enough.  There is little variety in the grand scheme.  They are all well-worn paths.  Nothing new happens to us.  It just feels like it.  Even your own mother will say it.  "You'll be fine." 

It is best, though, to keep a weather eye out for calamity.  Walking the tightrope comes with its own set of rules.  Not everyone goes up there but they sure like to watch.  People don't go to auto races to see the speeding cars go by.  They go for the danger.  They are looking for the inevitable crash.  That is when all the old assurances go out the window because that is not "what people do."  Nobody at the races is saying, "Don't worry, it will be fine."  Don't try to be a hero if you don't want the consequences. 

Today is tax day.  I must go and file my extension.  I have forgotten to do so every day this week, and now I will have to stand in line with everyone else who has done the same.  You can file it online, I'm told, so perhaps it won't be bad, but I have a feeling that the post office will be full of old people who don't trust online banking.  Require a signature.  Return receipt. 

If you live long enough and live a certain way, I imagine that you are constantly haunted by the accumulation of sins.  You must wonder why you've done these things over and over again.  Then, if you live longer, I imagine, you just don't care.  What was right and what was wrong have long ago been displaced by shifting values, by changing cultures.  You realize then that there is no keeping up, that you've simply done what you've done and nobody gives a shit.  It has to be why Robert Durst decided to go on t.v.  He wasn't stupid enough to leave the open mic on himself on two different occasions.  Certainly, even in his drug daze, he knew.  One last time, he must have thought, I have to walk that wire.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Provisional



Last night was the perfect antidote to the weekend.  I did not need to go to the gym, for it was not a day of lifting, but I left work early and wondered what to do.  I thought about simply going for a long walk, but the skies were cloudy and rain was not far off.  I decided that I would be a superhero and go to the gym to run on the treadmill and follow up with the elliptical machine and some serious stretching.  That's right. . . I have become a middle-aged soccer mom.  Whatever.  I am pleased to say that I am running an unbroken mile and a quarter now without significant knee pain, and I am ready to do a mile and a half next run.  You haven't any idea how pleasing this is to me who has not run for over a year.  I love to run.  It makes me sane.  And soon I hope to be doing this outside in the actual weather amongst the lakes and the trees. . . but I don't want to jinx myself. . . . Yesterday I did my mile and a quarter cranking up the speed each lap, then I got on the elliptical and wore myself out.  Sweat.  That is the thing.  I was dripping with it.  Not a soccer mom after all (they never seem to sweat no matter that they go faster and farther than I). 

Then it was home for a what I thought to be a well-deserved dinner.  I had leftover steak from the Sunday meal with mother.  There were greens and beans.  All so healthy, all so good.  I was happy to have no need of going to the grocery store.  I had worked out and it was still early.  I would have a good, long night ahead.  So when I got home, I eschewed water and poured a Dale's Pale Ale, sat at the computer to check on some things I had missed, then hit the shower.  A glass of wine.  I put on the greens and looked to get out the steak.  What steak?  There was no steak.  Apparently I had thrown it out that morning when I was cleaning the refrigerator.  It was garbage pick up day. 

The storm broke like a monsoon.  I was not going out again. 

Fuck.  I don't keep food in the house.  What could I eat.  I found a big can of chicken.  Chicken and what?  The greens were cooking.  I found the last of some veganaise and cubed sweet relish and mixed them with the chicken.  A glass of white wine.  It was not a dinner.  I had no crackers but I, having missed lunch, was hungry.  I ate it down with a spoon in mere minutes.  I could eat the greens when they were done, perhaps.  Shit, fuck.  I would have a whiskey. 

The bottle was empty. 

The storm continued to pound. 

Drinking rye is not the same as drinking scotch.  But it was a makeshift night.  It would have to do.  I tasted the greens.  They were not a thing to eat by themselves.  I decided to fry some eggs.  Eggs and wine.  I still couldn't eat the greens.  Rye whiskey.  I sat at the computer and began editing images.  The music, though, carried me away into the night.  Rye and music and making pictures.  It was late.  I was hungry-isn, but I would sleep. 

Provisional.  That is the only way to describe the night.  I have become too locked into what I do.  I need some catch-as-catch-can living. 

I look forward to dinner tonight.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Days Run Away



Dinner with mother.  Sunday night.  And when that was done, all the Sunday night feelings of the coming week, the coming life.  To bed alone, the same old silence, the same anticipated dreams.  Waking early, sleepy. . . the same coffee, the same music, the same old complaints.  With no reason to be unhappy, there is only the silent nothingness of the coming day. 

I open email.  Nothing there but a couple lines from Q about his slow-motion agony.  I am reminded of a joke I heard in my teens. 

"I hear that in New York City, there's a man gets run over every minute," says the first hillbilly. 

"I'll sure bet he's tired of that," says the second. 

I anticipate some unexpected tragedy or horror.  Projection.  Imaginative thinking.  Too many good things not to, though.  The needle runs dry. 

Paella and mimosas for brunch.  A small, fitful nap.  The inevitable departure.  Then. . . the usual. 

"The days run away like wild horses over the hills. . ." (Buk).

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sacred Time



Quiet Sunday morning.  Peaceful.  A guest still sleeping, I must finish this up before I am obliged to entertain.  Saturday was a miracle of productive laziness.  This morning it is a wonder to me, really, how so much transpired without effort.  There are days the live on in memory, I know, for being miracles of perfect nothingness, days like movies, effortless, seamless, not Newtonian but bracketed time, Hopi time without flow. . . sacred. 

It is too mundane to recount, I think, the day beginning as usual, reading, writing, cooking up pictures, gym, sun, a trip to the studio to make prints, a luscious lunch, grilled wahoo reuben, sangrias and mimosas, then a ginger and rye before shopping for luxuries, drinking and laughing, looking at the HUGE new book of Peter Beard's work by Taschen at Anthropology (the only bookstore left in town), massage bars and lotions and wires and clips to hang pictures and then home for more gingers and rye and music and a nap, then marketing for fish and vegetables and berries and shortcakes and heavy whipping cream and Dale's Pale Ale and wine, then scotch and more music and bed, falling asleep to beauty treatments and a long, long massage. . . .

I don't know.  I guess I recounted it after all.  Sort of.  There is much left out.  And now a cloudy day without rain, soft morning light. . . . 

"I require a lot of alone time," I say.  "There is much that can't be done except alone.  You can't read or write or make art except alone.  You can't think some things except when alone.  I am like that, but then I enjoy company, too.  Mostly it is just the idea that there is the opportunity for company.  It is a balm, I think.  You are not alone that way, just by yourself.  Then when you have company, it should be something powerful and electric.  It is the mundane march of human existence that deadens relationships.  I mean, it builds them, too.  You can't have families without that.  But I was an only child and had much time to myself." 

She came from a family of six sisters.  That is a movie script, I think.  It is not something I can grasp, that experience.  They are all close and go out together often.  It is nothing I object to, just something completely alien.  They must love to play together, for she is the playful sort.  She treats me like I am a little sister, I think.  Last night she rolled some needle roller all over my face so that it stung and swelled up a bit, then she put hydrochloric acid on it.  She said it was a "beauty treatment" but she was laughing much of the time.  I imagined it was like a trick you would play on a younger sibling. 

"If mom finds out, you're going to be in trouble!" 

I don't mind at all, though.  It beats watching t.v.  And I smell so good from the potions and lotions she rubs into me.  It is too much, really.  I know it cannot last, and I know I must mythologize it so that it stays on and lives forever.  Pictures and words.  They are all that will last, and when they are gone, there will be nothing else anyway.  When they are gone, there will be nothing but the brutality of existence where violence and sex are the only pleasures.  Pictures and words and good cafes are necessary luxuries. 

Today's picture reminds me of a Sargent painting, though I realize my framing is a bit more radical than his is most of the time. 

The hissing of the lawn.  Again. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Refrain



. . . and then after shooting practically every day and night for two solid weeks. . . this week, every model cancelled the day of the shoot.  I was relieved each time, but now I realize the cumulative effect is devastating.  I get sick of the rigamarole--all of it--and want to lead a "normal" life.  No more fits and starts, just the slow motion travesty that is ever-present.

I realize that I have been sick, though.  It was a malady more than a straight out illness.  I was tired and slow of brain and foot.  I know this now that it is passing. 

And so last night after another cancellation, I went to the gym and then to my favorite bar for cocktails and shrimp tacos.  I hadn't been, I realized, for over a month.  Life changes in a month.  Recognizably.  Then a phone call, an agreement.  I pick up a bottle of small batch rye and a designer ginger ale.  A couple drinks and then a search for sushi.  And in spite of the mushy tuna that was not al dente, the night turns out well.  I stay up late.  In the morning, of course, I am tired. 

But that can be fixed.  I will go back to bed and let music and weak, cloud-filtered sunlight put me out for another hour or two.  Later, perhaps, shopping.  I need things.  My friend needs things.  Of course there will be food, drink. . . .

And there is the promise of travel.  That alone is sustenance.  There may still be adventure.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Whah, Whah, Whah



Friday:  Factory, gym, shoot, date.  Full day.  I was up till the wee hours working on images last night trying to catch up.  Stayed in bed until eight this morning.  Now I feel the rush. 

I've looked at too many of these pictures lately.  I will only shoot once a week for a while.  I need to get my feet on the ground. 

Whah, whah, whah. 

Simple things.  Shoes, new shirts.  Lots of socks.  Mail my tax extension.  Sounds easy.  Why so goddamned difficult and time consuming? 

Whah, whah, whah. 

I can't quit it, so I'll quit it.  Better later.  Still, the photo. . . .

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Dinner



"Do you always live like this?"

"I try to, I think."

"It's a wonder you haven't burnt (partially inaudible) yet." 

"I may have burnt out.  I seem to be making mistakes." 

"No, I said burned up, like to a crisp.  You need some down time."

"Let's go look at the really expensive scotches." 

"Why don't you leave that alone tonight.  We can have some later in the week." 

"Yes, maybe that's a good idea.  I've got Perrier at home.  I'll go to bed soon." 

All around were people with enough money.  The cucina was lush.  The food was good.  It deserved good drink, too.  But not this night.  There had been a couple glasses of wine at dinner.  That was fine. 

The evening was bright and comfortable.  She gave the boy the ticket for her car.  A kiss, a promise.  It reminded him of something.  He didn't know what it was then, but he remembered wanting it.  It sounded like bossa nova, like samba.  It looked like a foreign movie with a forgotten title. 

He watched her car pull away.  Roll credits, he thought.  Fin.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Beautiful Nature



Have I whined lately?  Certainly I can whine.  I had last night off, meaning I didn't have a shoot after working in the factory.  I went to the gym but drove on by.  I went to the store to get victuals for the evening meal, came home, dropped the grocery sack on the counter top, and went into the bedroom to take off my clothes.  I woke up an hour and a half later. 

I still feel tired this morning.  I have a shoot tonight, which I thought I could handle because I have tomorrow night off.  I did until this morning.  I had forgotten about a model I had booked some time ago.  I will be in the studio every night for the rest of the week. 

Models are clamoring.  "Where's my pictures?" 

But I am beat.  It scares me how hollow and empty I feel.  It is difficult getting from one room to the next, and what scares me is that it seems like something other than simply being busy.  It feels as if something is attacking my system.  I must get through the rest of this week and then next week. . . . There is always next week. 

But who will make these pictures while I'm off? 

I watch men my age who no longer work.  It seems great.  They look peaceful and content.  I wonder. 

I've been thinking about how we are no more than alimentary canals supported by a spine, wrapped in muscle, with organs to produce digestive enzymes and oxygenate the blood that carries nutrients to all the cells.  The brain. . . shit, it is a mere afterthought, really.  If the eating and shitting machine isn't working, our brains are not much of a luxury. 

The season has definitely changed.  There are spring showers here now, but more markedly, the sun is coming in through a different window in the morning.  It just moved to one that shines into my eyes today.  Ahh. . . those lovely shutters, though, which I had installed just for this reason.  I move one lever and everything is fine. 

Maybe I have a simple bug.  I woke up yesterday morning with a sore spot on the right side of my throat.  I thought it might just be a dry spot from snoring all night.  Either that or cancer, of course.  But there is the off chance that I have some sort of spring malady that is traveling through the sorry lot of humankind.  I will ask around today.  "Allergies," most will say.  "I've been taking Claritin."  My new friend, though, seems to be a bit of an herbalist.  I don't know.  I claimed that she was a borderline Wicken, but laughed that away.  Still, she wants to infuse lemon water with garlic and Umcka which I thought sounded like an exotic root.  Turns out to be an over the counter cold medicine.  A practical Wicken, perhaps. 

This morning, lying in bed, I thought about living in the middle ages and getting sick.  Herbs, cold fish soup, leeks. . . whatever.  "Oh, he's got the miseries," they'd say.  I picture myself lying in a stinking bed in a mud and straw hut breathing in the smoke from the fire, guts roiling, running out to shit myself every few minutes without toilet paper, my old wife with half her teeth trying to get me to drink some folk elixir, mice running along the edge of the wall, me covered in lice-ridden blankets, bedbugs, etc.  Just lying in the half dark with my own thoughts.  Perhaps someone with a religious title would come in to pray with me/over me.  The greasy stink of life. 

I've told you I have a degree in zoology from a pretty good school, right?  I got it because the animal programs I watched on t.v. made nature seem so pure and pretty.  Have you ever gotten next to a wild mammal?  Holy shit!  They are full of fleas and ticks and mosquito bites.  They have worms in their guts and parasites throughout.  Flies constantly try to lay their eggs in their eyes.  That is nature. 

It is easy to fall off the wagon.  I did last night.  I've lost a bunch of weight by changing my diet, but I want those tasty breakfast things again, the pumpkin loaves and raspberry things.  I want them with my coffee.  I want all of it--pleasure.  It is what we have to stave off the middle-ages, I think.  Salt and sugar and all the spices.  We live longer than they did even with fattening diets anyway. 

"Even by exercising moderately just 2.5 hours a week, a person can extend his or her life by an average of three and a half years.  Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your health." 

I read that on CNN today.  Who knew? 

Russians don't live as long as most of the populations in other first and second world countries.  But it seems that maybe they live long enough.  Who would you have rather been, Frank Sinatra or Jack LaLanne?  The magazines at the checkout stand at Whole Foods have covers of people smiling.  They always have a big ass smile.  Why are they smiling?  Because they are vegans or yogis or have mastered the art of. . . .  I hate their stupid smiles.  They just seem self-congratulatory. 

Look at the smiles of artists and writers.  A different thing altogether. 

Whatever.  I lost my way around paragraph two, I think.  Consider this a journal page.  I will color on it with pencils later.  Now, however, I must join the hoi-poloi.  It is what I do.