Monday, February 17, 2020

Dismantling



Living alone without a job, I have few distractions from my emotional state.  States, actually.  I realize that most of the time, I am good.  I wake in the night thinking, "I love my life."  Later, culling books, deciding what to keep and what to discard, something more complex emerges.  Then, eating lunch alone in a bar, there is a precipitous drop.  Confusion and paralysis become part of the late afternoon realizing how little was accomplished that day, then a numbness at dinner with my mother and cousin.  Late, with a whiskey, there is the inexplicable weeping over a sappy scene in an overproduced popular movie.  Then blankness and bed.

Each morning begins with a promise that the day eventually erodes.  Luckily, I have few moral regrets with which to contend.

But there are many practical ones.

So. . . yea.  Yesterday I decided to do something/anything practical and useful.  The list of things needing to be done is growing.  It has, in truth, becoming overwhelming, piling up like an Empire State Building, getting too large to even think of tackling.  It is beginning to effect my emotional wellbeing.

Yesterday, with weak determination, I decided to tackle the whole book fiasco.  I opened a tub of books I brought home from the factory, then turned my attention to my shelves.  There was no place to put the books in the tub.  Decisions would have to be made.  I wish it could be done in the passive voice, but it couldn't.  I had to make editorial decisions.  What to keep.  What to pitch.

And so, shelf by shelf, starting with the "A"s.  Jesus, I have a lot of books by Edward Abbey.  How'd I get so many?  Well. . . it was the '70s.  Then the '80s.

I kept them all.

Achube.  Hmm.  Gone.  Brautigan.  Look at all of those.  You know, I read them, but I was never a fan.  I will never read one of those again.  But man, they look good on the bookshelf.  I mean, c'mon. Fuck.  Something has to go.

Gone.

Two full shelves of Bukowski.  Really?  Sure.  I've been buying him since '74.  I have ridiculous small press, smaller press, almost mimeographed things.

Keep them all.

But what, then?

Crumley.  Holy shit.  I must have bought everything he ever published.  Why?  Oh, sure, he was a friend of the Clark Press crowd, a Montana writer, Harrison, McGuane, and the Gerber fortune.  The Clark City Press book is nice looking.  But fuck.

Gone.  All of them.

Etc.

I got through about half the bookshelves.  When I had finished, I was sneezing and blowing my nose with vengeance, eyes red and itchy.

And it didn't look as if I had made much headway.

I discarded piles of books that I had never read and would never read, many touted by the N.Y. Times as one of the best of the year.  I'll bet they would have been fun at the time, but they surely haven't held up.  They were not meant to last.

Still, it is heartbreaking to tear apart your youthful treasure chest, the fortunes of your years.  I must have spent all my money on books, what little I had, anyway.  It made me smarter and hipper than thou, I thought.  I valued them the way the young republicans valued their stock portfolios.

I look around wondering who was right.

I didn't touch Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, or any of the other gold standards, of course.  Not even a little.

That's a lot of male authors, right?  I thought about going back and editing in the female authors from my shelves into the previous paragraphs just to make me historically acceptable, but I decided not to be one of those people.  I do have female authors.  Lots of them.

But not as many.  I read a lot of "tender hearted men, lonesome, sad, and blue" books.

And a lot of travel books from the past.  Adventure tales, of a sort.  Men braving the unknown.  I was looking for guidebooks, I guess.  I acted out most of what I read, though I never shot an animal.  But the rest of it.  You know--Burton and Speke, searching for the source of the Nile kind of stuff.  Victorian bravery, "The Man Who Would Be King" style.  Then the Lost Generation debilitated by war, living their stoic existential existences.  Then those fucked up Beats.

There are lots of books of Japanese and Chinese poetry.  And Yeats and Williams and Frost.  And of course Stevens and Elliot.

I can throw away the Pound.

But I haven't gotten to any of that yet.

My living room floor is littered with piles of books about which I am still undecided.  I have made more of a mess than I have solved.  I feel as if I have put on the wizard's hat in "Fantasia" and everything keeps multiplying.

Help!

More shelves today.  More blowing my nose and sneezing.

Oh. . . I forgot to mention one of the pleasures of going through old books.  I used everything and anything for a bookmark, and so opening the books, I find forgotten pleasures, old love notes, invitations, business cards, photographs. . . . There is a secret history hidden between the printed pages.  Some of it is funny.  Some of it is heartbreaking.  There will be more of that today.

And little else, really.  Dawn is cloudy and drizzling.  More dismantling, more organizing, and little else to distract me.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Nap Interrupted



I just got up.  It is four p.m.  No, I didn't just get up.  I was shocked into consciousness up by a visitor.  I was in bed, dead asleep.  I woke to hear a voice yelling my name.  WTF?  I was in the middle of a sangria nap.  She was already in the living room by the time I rose.

I am at the hipster place with a cappuccino now trying to get normal.

Lunch was great.  Ceviche, garbanzo bean soup with an egg on top, and sangria.  I'm not eating sushi during the flu season, but I thought I could chance ceviche.  Lime. . . you know.



But I wasn't feeling so well to start.  I woke up too early and never got my balance.  Literally.  I was dizzy all morning and my back was killing me.  The back is from doing my first squats since my accident.  And my last.  Done with that.  I had forgotten about back pain.  It is debilitating.  

So I went to the gym.  Duh, right?  But it was my new gym, and I thought maybe I could work my way out of the dizziness.  That is how one thinks.  

The new gym is a wonderland, big and full of workout things.  It makes me wish I were whole again. I would tear it up.  But I have been working out with the housewives of the YMCA, and there are not so many mirrors as there are in the new place.  Everywhere I look there, I see the shrunken version of myself.  There is a sadness in it.  And of course, who should I see when I walked in?  That's right--my mortal enemy, the Comedian, the one I inspired to get on the 'roids.  We looked at one another in shock and disgust.  He is bigger than I am now.  Fuck.  I always knew that my butch shit was going to cost me when I got old.  He will hit me one day, I am sure, just to make up for the years of shame.  

I probably deserve it.  

Q said I must make sure to get the fight on video.  He says it will be valuable.  I'm sure to make more money from this than I received from getting run over.  

So, I worked out hard in preparation.  When I left the building, I was walking like a corkscrew.  Barely.  

Smart.  Really, really smart.  

After the gym and after lunch and after drinks, I was ready for a nap.  And deep in the middle of the thing. . . . 

I will be miserable for the rest of the day and night.  I should drink hydrating fluids, of course, but I will be on the couch with a bottle of whiskey.  

Again, smart.  Really, really smart.  

I should have taken photographs today.  It would have been lovely.  If not that, I should have done some work.  I should have gone through at least one box of books littering my house and made decisions about what to keep and what to ditch.  It would be easier just to toss a box in the garbage and forget about it.  I would never even realize what I threw away, I'm sure.  

Now the coffee cup is cold and I feel like a drink.  I will head home now and sit on the deck and try to regroup.  There is nothing like a good caffeine/alcohol smackdown.

And of course, as always, I'll try not to be disappointed.  

*.  *.  *.  

Jesus, I wrote that a long time ago, it seems.  I did come home and have a drink, and I did talk to my mother, and then I made a simple dinner.  And sometime after, I rushed to the grocery store for ice cream and cookies.  It was imperative.  But I ate only two cookies and no ice cream.  The entire thing was symbolic, I think, it being Saturday night.  I was drinking alone and wanted some pleasure.  So cookies and scotch and a whole bunch of YouTube.  I watched episode after episode of NPRs Tiny Desk concerts.  And then hours of Norm Macdonald. WTF?  

I must have gone to bed.  I didn't wake until the sun was up this morning.  My back still hurts, of course.  It is on fire.  Perhaps today I will try water.  I hear that is a good thing.  

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Outposts, Landscapes, and Junkyards



I keep waking at 4:30 and getting up at 5:00.  Yesterday, after doing the usual, I went back to bed at 7:00.  I got up again at 8:15.  I don't know.  It's crazy.  Maybe I am.  Or maybe it was just the day.  I shamelessly reveal that I received no valentines.  But I did get a text from my ex (secretary) to come to lunch with my replacement, ex-boss, and his secretary.  Sure.

I met them at a taco place near the factory.  Only half of the coterie had shown, my ex and my replacement.  There they were--the new couple.  Well. . . shit happens.

I was the only one allowed to have a beer with lunch.  It felt good.  It made me sleepy.

When I got home, I took a nap.  I got up at four and had a glass of wine.  Hell, where had the day gone?

I decided to go to my mother's house since it was V-day.  I poured a big glass of whiskey for the drive.  I sat with her and my cousin until six, then went to Whole Foods to get something frozen for dinner.  With wine.  Then whiskey.

I fell asleep at the computer editing this picture of a smoke and vape shop on the outskirts of town.

I'm either going to have to get more sleep or quit drinking.

This morning, I woke at 4:30 in quite a vivid dream.  I won't tell you about it, for as I have said over and over, other people's dreams are either boring, irritating, or both.  But when Ili showed up in it, I woke with a start.  Apparently, even in sleep. . . .

I want to make intimate photographs of people again, not just photos in the street.  I don't want to do fashion.  Just intimate portraits.  Since I don't have a studio, I have to figure out how to do this.  I need a practice model, someone I don't have to please with pretty or successful pictures.  Just somebody who likes participating in the process.  I have a friend from the factory who I don't see any more but who showed up at my retirement thing.  She has three gorgeous daughters, and she might be willing to pimp them out to me, but they will want REAL pictures.  Of what?  That is the thing.  I need to know the answer to that.  My answer, not theirs.

I would have to be crazy to photograph her daughters.  God knows.  The one she brought to my party is a 5'11" slender tenth grader.

I'd better stick to outposts and landscapes and junkyards.

Oy.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Addicted to Love


Zoey, 1978

When I post this, it will be Valentine's Day.  I've always disliked the day.  When I was in elementary school, they had us make Valentine receptacles out of old shoe boxes.  We had to cover them in crepe paper and put pictures on them.  I was never very good at it.  Then we had to get Valentine cards and put them in our classmate's boxes.  It was always a terror for me as I was never sure how many I would get.  Poor Bebe Adams was semi-rxxxxxx (not a word you can say in this day and age), and she wouldn't get any.  Well, I always gave her one, but she never got many.  Everyone would get a bag of V-day cards from the Woolworth's store.  They were all the same.  There would be several really big ones and a bunch of regular sized ones.  You always had to think hard about who to give the big ones to.  Some boxes would be full (Susan Pleitchwaite's) and others not so much.  I hated the whole thing from start to finish.  I hated the little Valentine heart shaped candies, too.

I'm glad I don't have to go through any of that this year.  People may not understand that, but it is true.  I just can't stand it.

Q asked me today if I was an alcoholic yet.  Nope, I said.  I don't go to bars in the daytime. I figure that would be the hallmark.  Rather, I've been having wine with lunch after the gym and then not a drink until four or so.  But tonight, I had too much to drink between four and six.  I was sauced.  By seven I had eaten a delicious meal that I had cooked, and by seven-thirty, I was ready to head out the door.  I have been wanting to take night pictures.  Tonight, I thought, would be the time since I did nothing other than go to the gym all the live long day.  Maybe two things, or maybe three, but nothing really.  Sometime after dark, I put together a camera pack and headed out he door.

For the next two hours, I listened to a jazz program (link) and drove.  And stopped.  And shot.  It was very eerie, for I had driven far out of town.  Sometimes it was scary.  But it was fun, and I was full of energy.

I haven't looked at the pictures yet, and I don't want to tonight. Looking at them with an immediate memory would spoil them.  I want to wait and have some time to forget.  Maybe if I wait a week or two, they will look different.

But you may get one with this post if I decide to work on them tonight.

*.   *.   *.   

After I wrote that, I fell asleep.  I woke up an hour later, Rocky Road ice cream melted in a cup, neck crooked and kinked.  Maybe it is the couch that does it, but the room is too dark to stay awake.  And of course, there is the drinking.

Now it is the day itself, or an hour away from its dawning, anyway, and I have had a cup of coffee and have read the papers.  Today, I was happy to skip some of the stories in The NY Times, for I downgraded my subscription yesterday.  I had been paying FAR too much, and being a retiree who must watch his kopeks, I cancelled my subscription.  They didn't like that and gave me a better deal.  A really good one.  Now I don't feel guilty about not reading everything there.  And, of course, for the really good stories (link), I read CNN.

Thrifty.  Call me thrifty.

For all of you who want to understand Valentine's Day, I leave you with this from CNN.  It makes love perfectly clear.





"The brain seals the deal by releasing oxytocin, often called "the love hormone." It's a neuropeptide produced in the hypothalamus and secreted by the pituitary gland during times of intimacy, like hugging, breastfeeding and orgasm.

So hugging, kissing and love-making are all things you can continue to do to keep your brain on love."

So why'd they leave out breast feeding?

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Rabbit Hole



Man, I don't know what went wrong with this film.  It was new.  Maybe.  I think.  This isn't even from the roll that was hard to crank.  You can see the Kodak 10 print from the paper backing, I guess.  I can't figure this one out.


This one is from the other roll, the one that wouldn't advance.  You can see the scratch lines running from top to bottom through the picture.  Both pictures are of the La Belle furrier building.  Holy shit! I just went to their website.  They are celebrating one hundred years of business.  Been here since 1920!  It is wild to think, a 100 year old furrier in the sub-tropics.

I am worried.  I hope I haven't broken the camera.

I was a slug today.  I didn't feel 100% when I got up, and so I spent most of the morning scanning and failing.  Then I did some internet searches for solutions.  A rabbit hole.  I am now considering buying a $450 scanning software and a $150 target slide for calibrating it. That is the price of a pretty good used digital camera.  I downloaded the trial version, and it is a pip, I think.  But I don't know that I would ever scan enough to get my money's worth out of that.  I can work around it, but once you focus on a thing. . . .

In the early afternoon, I was trying an experiment where I would make a color photograph out of a black and white one.  After many attempts, I failed.  I'm not sure why yet, but I will keep thinking and working at it.  I have some pretty high hopes.

By lunch time, I had not eaten, but I felt I needed to go to the track and try to run.  I got dressed, stepped outside, and changed my mind.  Then again.  I went.  It was awful, but I did the deal and it was done.

I ate lunch before I showered.

After a quick nap, I went back to my internet research.  At four, I decided to get a cup of cappuccino. I am at the hipster haven listening to alt.metro music now.  The only words I've spoken to anyone today have been, "I'll have a cappuccino.  Thanks."

But I talked to the cat for a bit at lunch.  She put on quite a show of rolling around on her back with her legs in the air, the flirt.  Funny what a little tuna juice will do.

I looked into rooms in Miami this weekend.  I don't know.  I could buy the software for what I would pay for a couple nights there.  Everything is an economic decision now.

And so, I've done absolutely nothing productive today and nothing that I intended to do.  I have to get better at this.  Much better.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

$20 Bill



Here's the picture I took on my first outing with the gifted Rollieflex.  You remember my story about the couple.  I took the photo, did not have my phone, she had a pen, I had a $20 bill, he wrote his phone number on it so I could text him the photo, I promised I would. . . .

Yesterday was a slow, busy day.  I think that is what retirement is all about.  I'll quit talking about retirement soon.  It is just so NEW to me, the experience so powerful, that I am in a constant state of amazement.  But I promise, I will soon move on to other things.

Early on, I called AARP United with my new insurance plan F to get some info on my free gym memberships.  The fellow on the telephone was very nice and chatty as he set my account up.  When it was all done, he asked me, "Do you have a pen and paper handy?"

"Yes," I said, and wrote down the letters and numbers he gave me."

"You must think I'm old," I told him.

"Why's that?"

"You asked me if I had a pen and paper.  I could just type it into my phone like any kid would do."

He laughed at that, so I decided to tell him my so-far-favorite retired joke.

"You've probably heard them all, " I said.  "Have you heard how many retirees it takes to screw in a lightbulb?"

"No."

"One.  It just takes a very long time."

Oh, I'm going to be a real hoot at the Boca del Vista retiree nights.

Then I got my free gym membership at the Y.  Saving over $600/year there, and I can set up as many gym memberships as I want.  I'll head to some of the big fancy ones today where the steroid boys can get irritated at me for using the equipment.  It's one of the new pleasures I've found.

Home for a shower and lunch and wine, then a trip to the photo store to get some chemicals.  As usual, they chat me up.  But I had to cut it short, for I had an appointment at the factory.

What?

More money savings, dude.  They needed a copy of my new Medicare card so that my pension can start paying me $150/month toward the cost of my supplemental health insurance.  Now you may wonder, "Couldn't you just email/text it to them?  Are you really such a boomer?"  And the answer is, yes I could have, but. . . there was something I wanted to borrow from the factory for awhile, and I needed to pick it up in person.  So after the photo store, I hopped on our horrible interstate hoping to get to the factory quickly.  Of course, 3/4ths of the way there, traffic was stopped, backed up for miles and miles, so I arrived much later than I had planned.  And, of course, people chatted me up.

It was three when I left, and I had told my mother I would come over to make a Costco run with her and my cousin and have dinner with them, too.  I decided it was too late to run home, so I just went directly there.

And when I got to my mother's house, there was the obligatory sitting around as they chatted me up.  After an hour of that, I asked if we could go get the goods.  With much deliberation, we loaded into my cousins car, and we were off.

Costco is for explorers, I feel.  There is always something new to be discovered.  As we made our way through the isles of the disenfranchised, we stopped to spy some new, exotic offering.  My mother and cousin were busy eating their way through the place, stopping at every cart offering a taste of this or a taste of that out of little paper cups.  The disenfranchised bunched up on these oasis just to get a taste.  By the time we got to the check out counter, I doubted that my mother would be in any hurry for dinner.

And this, comrades, is where the story turns back to its beginning, a snake taking its tail into its own mouth.  We each lined up at the register to pay for our spoils in turn.  My mother, having the least, went first.  I followed her, but the checkout dame looked perplexed.  She wanted my non-existent Costco membership card. No, I explained, this is on her's, pointing to my mother.  The lady looked like she was doing some internal calculus equation that she couldn't quite solve.  Her eyes turned inward, her jaw went slack.

"What are you trying to figure out?" I asked her.

She said she couldn't let me pay with my debit card.  Flustered, she call a manager.  My mother, a hillbilly not to be trifled with, began to explain in frustrated tones that I was with her, that we had done this many times before.  Costco people in those red vests began to gather around the register as the store patrons looked over at the miscreants who required official attention.  I said nothing.  I know what it is like to make your case to morons.  I just let them do what they were going to do without my help.  My mother was "helping" enough.  Finally it was decided that I could pay with cash.  Unbelievably, I had enough money in my wallet to cover the $96 bill (mostly wine), and I counted out five twenties and handed them to the cashier.

That's right.  You guessed it.  When I got outside, I had a realization and panicked, looked into my wallet at the remaining twenty.  Nope.  No phone number there.  Shit, piss, fuck, Jesus Christ, fuck.

I told my mother and cousin what I had done.  My cousin suggested we go back in and tell the lady at the register what happened and exchange twenties with her.  There was no way that was going to work, I said.  After what had already occurred, this would look like some sort of con.  The moron at the register was likely to call the cops.  Nope.  It was done.  I was crestfallen.

I've been brooding about it since.  I told the kid. . . I PROMISED. . . that I would send him the picture.  Now he'll think I'm just another asshole honkie.  Bad juju.  I want to get him the photo.

If you recognize him, give me his contact info, woncha?  It's not a great photograph, but the kids would probably get a kick out of it.

I was right about dinner.  I didn't leave my mother's house until after eight.  I was a little drunk and very exhausted.

Today will be another slow busy day.  The lady from Charles Schwab called to tell me the money from the state had landed in my account and that we needed to meet to decide where it should go.  I have been reading up on investments lately.  I found out that I should have been saving money my entire working life, even if it was only 10% of my earnings.  I would have much more money now, I am informed.  Huh.  I wish I'd known.

I've also learned that indexed stock accounts outperform every other type of account over a period of years.  That is good enough for me.  I am going with that.  I think.  The Schwab lady will probably tell me things I do not know.

But I will exercise first and go to the fancy gym to get my free membership.  And I have a glass plate negative to develop and some large format film, too.  I want to try shooting and developing some paper negatives today as well.  It is fun to have the time for all of that.

There is a big art festival in Coconut Grove this weekend, and I am thinking about driving down.  I'll take my Rollies and make some pictures.  That is what I think, anyway.  It is still to be determined.  One of the best bookstores in the country is down there, in Coral Gables (Books and Books), and it is just a block from the Leica store.  Oh, I should go.  I need to get some air under my wings, as they say.

When I decide, you shall be the first to know.

The sun is almost up and the feral cat has pressed her face against the bottom pane of the kitchen door.  She is staring at me.  She wants food, but not just food.  She likes for me to hang around and talk to her while she eats.  We are buds like that, now.

Well, it is something.  For now, that is what I've got.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Dope



What a lovely day.  After a good night's sleep, I did what I do, only more slowly, I presume.  In no rush, I cleaned parts of the house, took out the garbage, ran the big printer in the garage, and only then, I went to the gym.  There is one drawback in going to the gym later, however; everyone is my or my mother's age.  But it works out o.k. because after my workout, I can go lie in the sun.  Not long, just fifteen minutes per side.  Just some color.  My mother and my co-workers all said yesterday that I already look more relaxed.  Not bad for a man going through trauma.  Even by the pool, though, I can't avoid the retirees.  There are back to back pool aerobics classes, and they play the worst music possible.  But I am not there so very long, so que sera (sera?).

After the gym, I had a shower then went to the grocery store to buy some things I needed--for lunch and for dinner and for tomorrow morning, too.  That's how we roll when we are retired.  Back home, I retreated to the deck for a smoked salmon and apple lunch with a wine that didn't pair well at all.

By the time I had finished, the day was passing me by and I hadn't done the things I thought to do.  To wit, I went to the garage and got all my photo chemicals, beakers, measuring tools and thermometer, and the chemicals I needed to mix up.  D-76.  Stop bath.  Fixer.  Mix and rinse.  Success.

I wanted to test the new Rollie camera that I got so that I could send my buddy some pictures, so I packed a camera bag with film and a good spot meter and headed for the big city downtown.

On my way, I saw a shirtless fellow sitting on a bench overlooking a lake and some hideous interstate construction in the distance.  Man, I thought, that looked like a good photo.  I should take it.  But I was in the wrong lane and I could not get over, so I felt justified in not going back.  But fuck it, I thought, I'm retired and have no schedule.  What are you going to do, pass up all the pictures you might have taken because you were in the wrong lane?  Nope, I said to myself, and I made a right into a parking lot and turned around.  I parked the car across the street from where the fellow sat and grabbed both the Rollie and the Razzle Polaroid 4x5 conversion camera and dashed across the busy street.  "Dashed" may be a flattering term.  Once across, though, I took a quick spot meter reading, set the Rollie, and bam! Quick as a flash, I did the same with the Razzle.  The fellow was talking on the phone like a real jerky boy, loud and obnoxious, and I was hoping he wouldn't turn around.

He didn't.

There you go, cowboy, I thought.  You're a REAL photographer now.

When I got downtown, I saw something I wanted to photograph, an old fur store that had been there since I was a kid.  LaBelle Furier.  They both sell furs and cold store them there.  But shit, I was in the wrong lane again.  I almost went on since this was a one way multi-lane street, but I saw a parking place and cut across traffic and pulled to the curb.  It was a long walk back, but what the hell, I thought once again, I'm retired.

Walking back with my Rollie in hand, I recieved several comments about the cool camera.  I talked to a couple women who had just opened up a CBD store.  They liked my camera but were worried about where the picture might turn up.  I didn't care.  They weren't that interesting to me anyway, and I didn't press them about it.  They were quite nice and we talked for a long while about their business.  In another block, a cute couple across the intersection began posing for a picture.

"You're too far away," I yelled to them.  When the light changed, I crossed the street and snapped a photo of them.  "Do you want a copy," I said to the young black fellow and his girl.  He did, but I didn't have my phone.  I didn't have a pen or paper, either.  His girlfriend had a pen, though, so I gave him a twenty dollar bill to write his phone number on.  "I'll definitely send it to you," I told him.  "You can count on it.  And I'll scratch out your number on the twenty, too!

I got back and shot some photos of the fur place and finished the roll.  I rolled it up and took it out of the camera and went to put a fresh roll in.  Standing on the street with too many things in my hand, it was difficult, and I kept fucking up.  After what seemed like hours, I had the film in the camera, but the camera wouldn't advance.  WTF?  Had I already broken it?  It would be the second Rollie gifted to me that I had.

I opened the back and took one of the reels out and put it back and closed the camera and it advanced.   Once.  Only once.  It would not fire after that, so I opened the back once again and did the same.  after four attempts, the film advanced if I REALLY cranked the film advance arm.  Whatever.  I was going to take pictures.

Two young guys passed me and said the camera was dope.  I told them I had just gotten it, and they said they knew I was enjoying that.  Oh, yea.

For once, people weren't calling me an asshole for having a camera in the street.  Nope.  They thought it cool.  Yessir.  Dope.

It was past four when I finished the second roll, so I decided to head to the hipster coffee shop.  Then I decided not to.  It was getting late, and if I went straight home, I could load some glass plate dry emulsion film into my antique wooden glass plate holders and see if I could make an image.  There was a second motive, too.  I wanted to make a rum and tonic.  But first things first.

I went to the garage and pulled out the big old Aero-Liberator.  I put the changing tent on the table and loaded a glass plate.  Then ever so quickly with the light almost gone, I took a meter reading and then I took a picture.  Bing bang bong.  Done.

And now, with a photo mess all around me, I am finally having that rum and tonic, and it is really hitting the spot.  Tonight I will develop some film and see if anything turned out.  That's the thing with film.  You just never know.  But if I get a picture that is worth a scan, you will see it in the morning, whether it is medium format or 4x5 film or if it is glass plate.  I sit here now hoping.  We shall see.

*.  *.  *.  

That didn't happen.  Developing film last night, I mean.  The rum was all too good, I guess, and then I made the most delicious salad I've ever made, a garbanzo bean Mediterranean salad with cucumbers,  red onion, red pepper, black olives, garlic, halved cherry tomatoes, and Greek peppers topped with parsley, crumbled feta cheese, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

For one.

Then I opened a better bottle of wine and heated some chicken.  The wine went down well, then I attacked the salad and chicken with the wine.  Hell yes.  Then the scotch.  I was watching this (link), and I woke up for the ending.

The best laid plans of mice and retirees.  I think I am getting this retirement thing down, though.  I don't have as many bad thoughts or dreams.  I am sleeping peacefully without sleep aids, and if I do wake up, I am comfortable and sound and not freaking out.  I am beginning to be a little productive, too.  Nope.  Retirement is, in the modern parlance, dope.

The sun will be up soon.  I will go and develop that film to see what, if anything, I got.  Until then. . . .

Monday, February 10, 2020

Perhaps This Would Have Been a Better Choice



I think maybe I should have gone with this instead.  Regrets.

Even Under a Full Moon



My birthday is over, and I feel good about it.  I got up in the morning and did my usual things.  My mother sent me happy birthday wishes over the internet and then called to me to sing.  When it warmed, I went to the track to "run."  I gave myself permission to stop whenever I felt like it which was a good thing.  The day was gorgeous, cool and bright and cloudless.  After "running," I came home to shower and make an easy, healthy lunch.  I sat outside and ate tuna salad and drank wine.

The afternoon drifted on.  I got a happy birthday text from Q saying that I should get something in the mail that afternoon.  I wondered if he didn't know that they don't deliver mail on Sundays.  Ah. . . but Amazon. . . . He sent me a blues harmonica set in the key of A.  I took it out of its case and started playing it like Bob Dylan.  Anyone can play a harmonica like Dylan.  Playing like Little Walter, Jimmy Reed, or The Harmonocats is a very different and difficult thing.

Funny boy, my friend Q.

I wanted to try using my Polaroid conversion 4x5 camera that I sent money to Australia to have constructed the day before Polaroid announced it would no longer make the Polaroid film.  I really haven't used it since.  But I was lazy and slow and have many ways to avoid doing things that take effort.  Around two o'clock, however, I pulled out the camera, film holders, and chemicals, ran through the steps of setting the camera and making an exposure a couple times, then loaded the film and photographed my birdbath for the hundredth time.  I flipped the film holder over and made the same exposure again, for what reason, I don't know.  Then I set up my little dark tent on  the patio table, put in a tray full of monobath developer, and rocked the film off and on for six minutes.

When I pulled the film out, I couldn't tell what was on it.  So I developed the other negative.  Same thing.  I realized that something wasn't set right on the camera.  I tinkered with it and tried again.

Success.

I found something unexpected in the closet the other day.  I am finding lots of things since Ili moved. I don't know if this was hers or something I had for a long time, but I kind of remember that it was hers.  Whoever, I decided to use it for a picture.  I hung it in a tree where the sun was shining and snapped.  Developed.  And boom.


I know.  It is a stupid picture.  That is why I put the color wizard picture at the beginning.  It is not a satisfactory picture, either, but I am out of things to post.  It was impossible to center the building if I wanted both his hands to show with a little border, so the whole thing feels off.

But back to my birthday.  It was past time for the little birthday party my old school gang was having for me up the street at my favorite bar, so I put everything in a pile in the living room, got dressed, and left the house, calling my mother on the way to tell her I'd be over afterwards.  There was a crowd when I got there, hats, trinkets, and cards.  I ordered a G&T and tried to relax, though being in crowds always makes me nervous.  These were my peeps, though, and they wanted me to remain so even though I am no longer part of the factory war.

After a couple hours there, the party began to break up, and I walked out to the parking lot with my former secretary with whom I made dinner promises.

Then mom's.

My long-expected cousin had finally arrived from Ohio.  This had been my mother's main concern, and there was little fanfare over my birthday.  Per usual.  We hillbillies are not a laudatory or
loquacious lot when it comes to celebrating, so I took a seat and chatted as my mother made a usual dinner.  Nothing special.  There was a small cake with no lettering.  She didn't want leftovers.

After dinner and after conversation, I was tired and ready to go back to my house.  I felt pretty worn out.  My mother and cousin walked me to the car to look at the moon.  The sky was clear and you could see the stars.  The moon was big and beautiful.  My moon.

At home, I brought the cards into the house.  At the party, the fellow who has taken my job had borrowed my keys to put some thing in my car.  There was a bag with a present.  I opened the envelope first.  He had written me a two page letter, a stunning tribute, really, about our relationship over the years.  I was truly stunned as I always had the impression that he just humored me because I was his boss.

Then I opened the bag. . . and HOLY SHIT!  He and his wife had given me their Rollieflex camera.  I couldn't believe it.  He had shown it to me at a party some years ago, and I informed him that it was worth a lot of money.  It had been given to his wife, he said, and they really didn't know.

It was too much.  Way too much.  I was tired and a little drunk, of course, but I needed to write a thank you to him for this.  And I needed to thank my friends.

When I was done, I fell into my bed.  I didn't take anything to go to sleep.  I simply lay down in my bed, closed my eyes, and let my mind go.  I didn't wake until after six, a long, uninterrupted sleep compared to that of recent weeks.  Even under a Full Snow Moon.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Look After Your Finances



It's been a long time since I've taken this picture.  I took it again last night, the night before the Super Full Snow Moon which is actually tonight.  You can't tell the difference from this photo, though.

I took my car into the Firestone down the street at seven o'clock yesterday morning.  I took it there because it was close and I couldn't drive my car far with a broken hose.  I took it in early as the fellow at the desk said it would get done quickly that way.  When I got there, the place was a cluster fuck.  The fellow who gave me the info the day before said he would be there at 6:30 and open at seven.  He wasn't there when I got there, but he walked in as I was getting ready to leave looking hang dogged and disheveled.  I heard the manager give him a quick but meaningful rebuke.  He was going to be of no help to me, I knew, in my own matter.

I had forgotten to take the cameras out of my car before I left the house, so I slung the bag over my shoulder for the walk home.  The morning was crisp and quiet.  The light was beautiful, and I thought I needed to quit hanging around the house all morning and get up with a cup of coffee and head out to make photographs without the hustle and bustle of the workday.  I took my Leica out of the bag and started snapping photos.  No one was around.  The light was stark.  It was fun.

Back at the house, I felt stuck.  I wanted to go to the gym.  I thought about riding my bike, but it was cold.  I thought about walking there and back, but it would be a seven and a half mile round trip.  I decided to call an Uber.  I would work out and then walk home.

The Uber seemed a bit expensive, but I haven't used them in a while, and I thought that prices had naturally gone up, but when I looked at the bill after paying, there was a surcharge of about 33%.  For what?  There were no tolls.  I tried to make a complaint about the charge on my app, but I couldn't find anything that applied.  Perhaps the surcharge is like everything else in my neighborhood.  Everything costs more in my zip code.

I worked my shoulders gently for a long time, doing all of my old therapy exercises and then adding some weighted movements, trying to make my shoulder pumped and pretty without damaging any of the torn and broken structures.  I decided would skip doing my leg workout since I had to walk home, but when I stepped outside, I decided the wiser thing to do would be to lie by the pool for a bit.  Not long.  Just fifteen minutes per side.  And that is exactly what I did.

By the time I got home, it was well past lunchtime, and I was running on a single pot of coffee.  I put some eggs in the pan and opened a little container of yogurt, ate outside, and showered.  The day had drifted by me now.  Mid afternoon.  My buddy was coming over in a bit to taste my expensive scotch, or so he said, but when he showed up, he had a present in his hand.  We sat on the deck in the cool afternoon and drank scotch and talked about upcoming travel.  He has spent his money wisely on art, books, and travel, and these are the bonds between us.  He is preparing to walk the Cinque Terra this spring and is going on a safari to Africa that is similar to the one Brando cheated us out of years ago. I am envious.  He, too, has recently retired, and we talked pluses and minuses of that.

I still had not heard a word about my car, so I called Firestone.  My car was ready.  They closed in forty-five minutes.  I was lucky that my buddy was there to drive me for I might not have made it in time were he not.

As I entered the lobby, one of the mechanics, a big African-American fellow, came over and asked, "Did you get dropped off by the Lexus?"

"Uh. . . yea."

"Was that an Uber?"

I was confused.  "No.  My buddy."

He started to grin, then laugh, his big shoulders and chest bouncing up and down.  "He sure has some stickers on that car."

"Oh. . . ha!  Yea, he doesn't think much of Trump."  I'd forgotten about all the Fuck Trump stickers with which he has covered his car.

After the laughing was done, however, the bill came due.  It used to be that when. hose blew, you got your screw driver and some metal clamps and put a new one on.  That's what C.C. and I thought when the hose blew going to lunch the day before.  We looked at the little hose, though, and couldn't figure out how to get it back on.  There was a reason.  Things don't work that way any longer.  The hose fit over a little plastic nipple which had broken off.  The nipple was part of a larger plastic thing that went into the heater.  It was complicated.  Of course, all the hoses needed to be replaced according to Firestone, and the radiator had to be flushed.

$800.

What could I say?  "No, that isn't right"?  Should I have told them I knew better?

I put my card in the little gadget, slunk into my Xterra, and took my broke ass home.  "That's a great way to start retirement," I thought.  The bank account was already draining.

The sun was going down, and I was hungry after drinking scotch with my friend in the afternoon.  A simple meal, the news, and then, remembering the moon. . . .

The Super Snow Moon is tonight.  It is my birthday.  I looked up my horoscope to see what it had to say about that.  I am to look closely after my finances, I was advised, and I should be active with friendships.

Now they tell me.

The coffee is gone and the sun is up.  The cat has been fed and is hanging around watching me through the bottom panes of glass in the kitchen door.  I will wait for it to warm up a bit, and then go for some exercise.  I will have dinner with my mother tonight.  This is how it begins.  This is how it ends.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Why Me?



It is already called "The Friday Night Massacre."  Who knew?  President Trump is taking revenge on his enemies.  Retaliation.  Putin.  Jong-Un.  Trump.

Should that be Kim, not Jong-Un?

I am housebound tonight.  I thought I blew a hose on the Xterra, but when I took it in to the nearest place, Firestone, I was told that a plastic part is missing and that they would have to order it.  Leave the car. Since Firestone is only a mile from my home, I told them I would be back in the morning.  On the one mile drive home, my car overheated.  There is no choice but to take the car back to Firestone at seven o'clock in the morning.  I get to walk home.

I will be housebound on Saturday as well.

House arrest.  The maids came while I was at lunch today with C.C. this afternoon.  Everything I like is here.  It is awful.

*.  *.  *.  

Morning.  It is time to take the car in.  I don't want to go.  The sun isn't quite up and it is cold.  I must walk home from Firestone, and I would rather sit here drinking coffee.  Why don't I have servants to do this?  It is going to be expensive, I know.  Fixing the car.  Servants would cost much more.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Lucky



I fell asleep last night watching little YouTube L.A. neighborhood bits by Anthony "I Hanged Myself" Bourdain.  There were a lot of them.  He was chauffeured about in a black Range Rover in each of the episodes as he visited populations of Guatemalans and Iranians complaining about the tastes of middle-class America and railing against hipsters.  Oh, Anthony.  Be still my heart.

Yes, I can relate.

I've been looking through my pictures for a while now, and I've decided I like color.  I have years of black and white, but I am drawn to yellows and blues and reds.  Maybe I don't want that Leica M10 Monochrom after all.  I'm pretty sure I am going to buy the new Fuji X100V, though I am also pretty sure I won't use it.  And maybe I won't buy it, either.  It is a great snapshot/street camera, and I have no one to snap-shoot and the streets are getting dangerous for photographers.  Perhaps I would be better off focussing on something else.  The "what," however, is driving me crazy.  The sort of provocative pictures I like most have fallen out of favor.  I could leave the country to photograph, but that sort of cultural exploitation is frowned on now.  For the non-polemic photographer, there is little left but garbage and abstract shapes.

If I just wasn't an old white guy. . . .  It's just bad ju-ju, especially for someone who likes to kick the bucket of snakes to see what happens.  It is fun, but it doesn't help you win a congeniality contest.

I have been very lazy in retirement.  My cleaning and straightening project has hit the wall.  I am like the joke that asks how many retired people it takes to change a lightbulb.  One, but it takes a long time.  The days are long and I do little.  Today a friend stopped by just as I was leaving the house with my camera.  He sat on my deck for almost two hours telling tales.  Other than the gym and a little straightening up around the house, that was my day.

Tonight will likely be a repeat of last night.  I am lucky, I am told.  I have it made.  Me and Anthony Bourdain.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Doing Nothing Is Taking All My Time



The hum of the refrigerator, the ticking of the clock.  A little lamplight on a stand in the corner of the room beside the bookshelves.  That's about what I have right now, sunrise just moments away.

I talked to a fellow in NYC for a long time yesterday.  He is a well published journalist.  He has written for The NY Times and the Post, Interview and Variety magazines, and many more.  He has interviewed famous actors and directors and covered dance and fashion for years.  He has an MFA in creative writing and was the favorite of a famous poet.  But getting his fiction published, he said, is a job.  He is hiring an agent to try to get his writing "placed."

It is difficult to be a "creative."  Supply and demand, I guess.

The gray light brings the world into view.  The cat walks in front of the kitchen door ready to be fed.  The coffee left in the pot may still be warm.  I think I'll order a pizza and eat with my mother tonight. One of her relatives will be arriving today.  A real party.

The fellow from NYC said I was lucky, that I had it made.  He said I should do nothing for two months.  Sit on the couch, don't make plans.  In two months, he said, "You will know what to do.  You'll" go to Hawaii and take surf lessons or become a bartender or just chill, he said.  "You'll figure it out."

Doing nothing is taking all my time.

If that isn't a line in a country song, it should be.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Irrevocable




I am going to my mother's in a bit to cook dinner.  Days alone are long.  I did what should have been a lot today.  I got up too early, went back to bed, got up again and went to the gym, took a long walk, came home and put on a pot of oatmeal and took a shower, cut a grapefruit, ate, then took my car to the carwash after which I went to the grocery store for some things.

And then it was noon.

I started straightening up the mess in my house and burned a bunch of old financial reports, then organized my new papers, tax documents, etc.

Mid-afternoon.

So I started in on the boxes of books and took some to the garage, then began on the photos and negatives, but I felt a bit overwhelmed, so I quit.

Three.

I poured a scotch and called my mother and made my evening meal plans.

I did even more than I am reporting.  I pulled some weeds and went through my bank statements online, called to pay a bill then another.  Now I sit in the hipster coffee shop just because I was losing my mind alone in the house.  It has only been two days and I know I have to get a plan.

Tonight after dinner with my mother, I will experiment with some photos.  I have some ideas.  They may or may not work.  But I will put on some music that Q sent me and see how it all turns out.

I think I am still waiting.  Once I lose hope and quit waiting, maybe I'll get on with things.  But I am afraid to move anything, put things out of their normal place, disturb the old universe.  I hold my breath.  I wait.  I will wait a bit longer, but I can't wait forever.  Once we do a thing, it can't be undone.  I am not ready to do the irrevocable yet.

*.  *.  *.  

Later on that same day, I watched the Art of the Union message delivered by Trump.  It was the anti-halftime show.  It was Obama through the looking glass.  It was, in C.C.'s words, a Wild West Extravaganza.  From beginning to end, it was quite a show.  Pelosi tearing up the speech at the end was terrible theater.  It just reminds us that Democrats are no fun.  And there was Kavanaugh with a silly smile reminding us of the fun  that "boys and girls drinking beer" have.

Remember the Alamo.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

A Better Day, But the Night Is Another Thing



My first day of retirement was o.k. Really.  I got up later than usual, and after coffee and electronic newspapers, I got ready to go to the factory.  What?  Yea, I had to take care of some unfinished business.  But I didn't have to get dressed, just jeans, flip-flops, and a t-shirt.  Driving in didn't stress me out at all.  I wasn't glum or nostalgic.  Driving onto the property was weird as I went to a different parking lot on the opposite side from the building that houses my office.  As I walked across the grounds, I wasn't sad.  Everything seemed to be fine, and when my business was done, I turned around and came home.  Without regret.

I went to the gym and worked out then lay by the pool to get a little color.  When I came home, a buddy was running by just as I stepped out of the car, and we chatted for a while.  The tenant came over with the rent check and we chatted as I made lunch, poured a glass of wine, and ate on the deck. The day was perfect, seventy degrees and cloudless blue skies.  After a shower, I went to the photo store, and the day was quickly closing.  A scotch and a call to my mother.  And now this.

Is this what retirement will be like?  Hellfire, it is fine.  I don't know where the day went, but it passed pleasantly.  The fellows at the photo store asked me if I had been taking photos, and I told them no.  I said that there were a lot of photographs and a lot of good photographers doing the same thing.  The street has been done to death now.  Making street pictures is more than redundant.  So are most things.  I need to find a purpose, I said, need to find a theme.  Maybe I'll start with process and then decide on subject.  First the look, then the image.

But I haven't come to that, yet.  I still have days if not weeks of organizing to do.  I did none of that today, but I don't feel guilty.  I can do it tomorrow or the day after or the day after that.  I know it is dangerous, but I want some down time, some lazy time, some let's find out who I am now time.  Today was a nice start.

I didn't think about Ili as much today.  I have another piece of candy to help me through the night.  I figure I need a supply.  A couple scotches and then some candy and water.  Much healthier overall.

I got a lot of emails today telling me it was already different at work.  My secretary texted me to say that dammit, I was the person she came to when she needed to bitch.  So I called her and she told me her tale.  Tales.  What happened wouldn't have happened had I been there, but now there is a power vacuum that people are looking to fill.  Relationships will change.  There is no rebel to yell bullshit when bullshit needs to be yelled.

She said she felt better after talking to me.  Sure.  Any time.

The sun is dipping behind the trees and the evening dew is beginning to settle, and I am on the deck writing and need to go in.  I will learn to love myself again.  You'll see.  It will be fine.

*.  *.  *.  

It is not yet morning after a night of not quite sleep.  I am still not used to waking up in bed alone every night.  I will revert to my previous ways of living alone and put on a little jazz when I wake up in the night.  It used to drive away the bad thoughts and put me back to sleep.  And a night light.  The darkness is oppressive alone.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Days Ahead



Jesus Christ, Monday's suck.  Wait. . . oh, yea.

Well, I was wrong about the Super Bowl.  It was played quickly (but for the halftime fem porn) and well.  My friends only texted me about the halftime show, though.  There was general agreement about it, but I was confused a bit.  I thought the NFL was like NASCAR, but I didn't see them anywhere in the commercials nor in the halftime show.  The NFL put out a cop hater ad.  My head was spinning.  I was part of the Great Culture War.  Somehow, it looks like a pyrrhic victory.

I'm sure Trump's numbers just went up.

Q is pondering what I will do during my retirement.  Maybe I'll go here (link).  I think I'll try Reiki and some other cool things (link).

What?  Don't be so binary.

I was given a lot of presents last week, and I ate one of them last night.  I quit drinking earlier than I would have and had bottles of water waiting for the calm.  I shouldn't have eaten as much as I did, though.

There is much research on hallucinogens and depression right now.  Perhaps I'll try to get into a trial. I don't want to sit home eating acid by myself in this mental state.  I'm afraid I'd jump off the porch or something.  Actually, I'm pretty sure I'd be one of those who didn't come back right.

But the days now spread out before me, and I must do something with them.  There is plenty I need to do.  I just don't want to do it.  I'll take some days where I don't feel the need to do anything.  Maybe it will all work out.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Hardly a Whimper



I muddled through the day somehow.  Nothing new.  Went to the gym in the morning after thinking I wouldn't, then started culling books from the bookshelves to make room for the books I have brought home from work.  Difficult and dusty work.  I made it through the "Cs" so far, but I don't think I am culling as much as I should.  Mostly I am getting rid of stuff that seemed important but that I never read like Harold Brodkey, and things that seemed hip at the time that I never got around to reading and have no clue about now.  Then there are the silly books I read like the Jimmy Buffet novels.  And things I read because it seemed I should like Russell Banks who everyone said was good but who means nothing now.  I couldn't part with the Bruce Chatwin books though they mean nothing to anyone now and I had to keep every book by Paul Bowles.  I worked all morning, but I've barely made a dent.

I find all sorts of things in old books, too, notes and letters and cards and invitations--anything I could use for a bookmark--and so I flip through them all.  I didn't touch the shelf and a half of Bukowski.  But like I said, I have a long way to go.

Went to a barbecue party at my replacement's house and sat with a mixed group of his friends and some of the factory workers.  I was o.k. but lethargic.  I drank some and ate too much barbecue and came home three hours later to two cats waiting by my door, my feral and the neighbor's domestic.  They fight now to see who gets to look in.  I put some food in the bowl and then laid some out on a stone step for the domestic, but the feral cat had to push him away and have that, too.  They are my closest friends right now, I guess.

I will have to get a new yardman soon.  The leaves are overtaking everything.

It is just turning dusk, and I am tired.  I want to curl up and fall asleep, but that would not be good later.  I thought an expensive whiskey would wake me up, but it has had the opposite effect.  I will have to switch to the cheaper scotch, I guess.

The photograph is of my college photo professor, Jerry Uelsmann.  I don't know what made me snap the photo nor why I was brave enough to do so.  Uelsmann was at that time coming off an NEA Fellowship that was following a Guggenheim award.  His photographs sold for more than anyone's in the world.  After the advent of Photoshop, he said, he felt like he was teaching horseshoes.  But he was a wonderful teacher who never promoted his own techniques and spoke only of the aesthetics that photography could promote in the world.  I think I still have one of the work prints he gave me in a class demo many years ago.  I saw him lecture at Country Club College a few years ago, and he was still a vital and funny guy.

I must figure out what to do with my evening.  I would rather read than watch t.v., but I don't know how far I can make it.  I ate so much at the party that I don't really want to make much dinner.  Some ramen noodle soup would be nice.  Not the college kind.

"What are you going to do in retirement?"

I'll let you know.

*.  *.  *.  

What I did was fall asleep on the couch once again.  I woke at 8:30 with a stiff neck.  Maybe I mislead you when I say I fell asleep on the couch.  You may picture me stretched out.  No.  I am sitting up, something in my hand.  It is miserable.

I went to bed and woke up 3:30.  Xanax free, but weeping.  I'm still waiting on God's mercy.

Have you heard about Kobe Bryant?  I think they might cancel the Super Bowl.  They will, at a minimum, play it in sadness as a tribute.  Who will win?  It doesn't matter.  It is not a sporting event, it is a spectacle.  There will be too many commercial breaks and too long a halftime show for either team to get into a real rhythm.  They should call it "Football Interrupted."  It is not a real game which is a shame.  I would like to watch these two teams play one another under normal circumstances.  It is an interesting matchup as they say on Sports Center.

Trump gave him the moniker, "Little Marco."  Now Little Marco Rubio is defending the president against impeachment and telling everyone that he is sorry for the comment he made on national t.v. about Trump's teeny weeny pecker.  Trump has shown him its true size, and Marco is a believer.  If you haven't seen Rubio's rationale for voting against witnesses, you should look it up.  He is one of the people making our country great again.

Look at that.  Hardly a mention of how terribly sad I am.  Soon you'll think I'm all better.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

I Got Away with It!



I walked out of my office for the last time late Friday afternoon.  I wanted to be the last one out of the building, but my boss waited me out.  Maybe he was required to, I don't know, but it took away some of the contemplative profundity of the moment.  Probably for the better.

I won't bother you with the details of the last day.  I'm just sick of breaking down, of weeping suddenly and ferociously.  My face looks like a Star-Pei's.

So let the healing begin.

First things first.  I have to quit taking Xanax.  I have been walking around in bubble gum for a week.  I have taken more each day trying to quell my emotions.  I haven't been to the gym.  I fall asleep on the couch as soon as I sit.  The house is a littered mess that needs attention.  I am like a dissolute movie housewife from the '50s full of alcohol and pills.  I am sure to go through some serious withdrawals, but I have to get on with things.

And what things might that be?  I still have to figure that out.

I'll have to get used to people talking to me like I'm retarded.  I've been dealing with Social Security, Medicare, and supplemental insurances over the phone.  The sing-song voice in which they speak to me is straight out of Romper Room.  Simple words delivered in a musical tone.  My mailbox is full of ads for cemetery plots, hearing aids, insurance plans, retirement communities. . . .

I want love letters.

When I got home last night, I decided to open one of the retirement presents I was given.


It is my new favorite.  I'll need to cancel my cable and some other subscriptions to help me stay supplied with this.  It will be very difficult to go back to "table scotch."

After a glass of this neat, I passed out.

At four in the morning, I woke to a tremendous, violent banging on the wall.  WTF?  It went on too long. It sounded like animals fighting behind the house, but there were no animal cries.  And then it stopped.  I couldn't go back to sleep.  Had a coyote gotten my cat?  It seems like she would have screamed.

The entire event remains a mystery.

So my first day of retirement begins.  I stayed in bed until five, then the usual.  It is raining and will continue to rain for the rest of the day.  I don't think I will go to the gym today, either.  It seems a good day to sit inside, eat junk, and contemplate the void.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Howdy Pardoner




Today is my last day at the factory.  I'll bet that you are glad, tired of hearing about it.  Have I told you I'm very weepy?  Really?  Huh.  I felt as though I had been fairly stoic.

Did I mention Ili?  Really?  Did I tell you she cancelled me?  I couldn't have since she only did it yesterday.  She made a final text and then blocked me.  Sure, you can wonder what I did to deserve it.  That's what people do.

Today is onerous, though. I will wait until everyone has gone before I write my final emails.  Then I will take the large framed prints off the walls (two 36" prints from my Lonesomeville days) and leave for the last time.   People will think about me when I am gone, at first, then less often, then one day they will realize that they haven't thought of me for a very long time.

And so will I.  But today. . . .

Saturday, actually, I am going to a party at my replacement's house, and Sunday, I am invited to a Super Bowl party to which I won't go because I always have dinner with my mother.  Super Bowl Monday, I will not be returning to work, and my new life will begin.

At least I can avoid people and their viruses.  Wait!  I'm supposed to go to a barbecue on Saturday with some Chinese guests who arrived just two days ago.  How do I get out of that?

My house is a mess and has been since Ili left and I began bringing stuff home from my office.  I will have to deal with that this weekend.  I am not so very good anymore, though, at doing things alone.  I am going to have to develop some of my old habits from the years of not having a girlfriend.

Wait!  No.  Those were the years when I let things get dilapidated and fall apart.

Soon, I think, all the sadness will fall away, and I'll realize I don't have to work.  I know that people at work are envious.  I haven't met anyone at the factory who didn't wish to quit working.  Maybe I will buy a fishing pole this weekend.  And CC has invited me to go out and throw rocks at cars.

Yea, this could be the start of something big.


I photographed these images from the t.v screen when Nixon resigned.  Like Nixon, Trump knows he will never go to jail for his crimes.  He, too, has a pardoner.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

An Ending



I'm all kinds of hungover this morning.  After I got home last night, I fell asleep in my chair with a glass of red wine in my hand.  You know how that turned out.  Shirt, pants, and chair.  Red wine for fuck's sake.  Why?  I know better than that.

I guess I was drunk when I got home.  I don't get drunk, so it is a little surprising.  But the afternoon went into the night, and the whole thing was super emotional.

The "thing" was my "surprise" retirement party.  I did not want it.  I said I wouldn't go.  They planned it, anyway.  It would be another disappointment, I said, another paltry affair.  But it was not for me, I kept being told.  It was for those who wanted to do it.

So I went.

They knew I didn't want stale cookies and punch, so they held the event at a local bar.  When I got there, they had plastered the walls with pictures of me from my forty-four year career.  There were more scattered about on every table.  People I used to work with who had retired were there.  My former secretary brought her daughter and her family.  Other people brought their children who were no longer small.  The crowd was large and I had to pass through them trying to express what I felt.  It was all very difficult for me for a variety of reasons that I am too hung over to explain.  

After awhile, my boss got up to read a tribute he had written, but he was moved to tears many, many times.  Then my secretary began to wail, and then the general waterworks began.  And, of course, I broke down, too.

Afterwards, when I thought everyone had done their duty and would leave. . . they didn't.

I won't try to relate the truly moving words that people spoke to me in private.  I am trying to report without self-aggrandizing which is difficult enough for me in mundane tales, so imagine my self-restraint now.

There was more drinking, and the party went on for five hours.

I sit in a room littered with gifts and cards and letters this morning in a chair with a red wine stain.  My head hurts.  I am almost through the pot of coffee.

After two days, the feral cat has shown up.  WTF?

I have two more days at the factory.  They will be short and go quickly.  I need to write one final email to say farewell.  The task is daunting.

My life is falling apart in about a hundred ways right now, but what does one do?  Most of my inspiration these days comes from Samuel Beckett, if that tells you anything.

"I can't go on like this."
"That's what you think."


"Did I ever leave you?"
"You let me go."


“Memories are killing. So you must not think of certain things, of those that are dear to you, or rather you must think of them, for if you don’t there is the danger of finding them, in your mind, little by little.”
“Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” 

“Nothing is funnier than unhappiness.”