Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Monday, September 20, 2021
This place just opened up next to the Cafe Strange. It's a hydration station, I guess. Next time I am at the cafe, I think I'll walk in and see what it is that they do. I read an article today in the Times that said all the concern with drinking water is pretty much rubbish. Doctors and/or scientists (I can't remember who they were quoting) said the rule is that you should not overthink it and should drink when you are thirsty. Problem there is I don't get thirsty. Even as a kid. Almost never, anyway. I'm curious about this place, however. I'd like to lose weight, rejuvenate, and look younger. It must be true. It's right there in the window.
Tonight is the Harvest Moon. I won't link another version of the song this year unless I make a recording of me playing the ukulele that Q gave me and singing. That could be coming later this evening if I am drinking.
I am trying to cut down, however. Last night, I smoked a little boo before bed. I held the smoke in my mouth and let it cool down before I inhaled. Burned a little, but I only coughed once. But boy did I have the sweetest dream. And it seemed so real. I fell in love. She wasn't the prettiest girl in the room, but man, I was all about her. And she me if you can believe a dream. She was with a boy and I was with a girl but the electricity between us filled the building. Such sweet and loving glances, the shocking sensation when we touched. See, it was a love dream, not a sex dream. I dream of romance.
I had to get up around 4:30, and I realized I'd been having the dream the entire night. When I went back to bed, I tried everything I could to crawl back into the same dream.
Everything after that was the usual uncomfortable mess.
But you see, I am feeling something other than the pain in my hips and back. I took my mother to the pool again yesterday and I swam. I'm a mess and it is really difficult, but afterwards I felt sleek. Sleeker, anyway. Looking past my big belly at my reflection in the sliding glass door, I saw a few muscles once again. Brawn. I would call it brawn.
Last night I boiled shrimp and made some yellow rice and cole slaw, a real southern cracker meal. And damn it was good. While I was cooking, my mother took a phone pic of me from behind. She said, "Here's something you never get to see." Broad shoulders, broad back. Not bad for an old man who was almost run over to death. Nope. You know, though, I give it the old college try.
So maybe I deserve to have romantic dreams where young women are mad about me. Maybe I deserve a little happy sleep.
Of course, it may just have been the boo.
In all likelihood, I won't get to see the Harvest moon tonight. It is the rainy season here and the skies may be cloudy all day. But there's a chance, and I will be looking. Perhaps I'll stick with a little Pinot Noir, the last full moon of summer, and a tiny toke.
Right after making dinner for mother.
I'm a bit tired of hauling big cameras around all day only to find the plates fucked up at night. I am thinking of going to a cafe today and writing some. I have an idea for a series of sketches inspired by reading Buk. His best stuff is when he remembers people or events. His worst stuff is when he wants to opine about people or the condition of society.
We all do too much of the latter and not enough of the former. Well, I do, anyway.
On a final note. . . I have found my rapper name--K'Gari.
"Shine on/ shine on Harvest Moon, up in the sky. . . ."
Sunday, September 19, 2021
Hey. . . have you seen this one? Yea, it's the Blurry House. But this one is different. But it's still blurry.
Yesterday I took TWO different 4x5 cameras out to photograph this house around the corner. It just gets the best morning sunlight, really nice. I made sure everything was right, that the film holder was firmly seated in the film back, that the focus was right on. I did that with the liberator, then I did it with my Graflex Speed Graphic which focuses on the back ground glass. I was truly satisfied I'd nailed it. So. . . I came home and developed two plates, one from each camera, let them dry, then scanned them. WTF? Again, they are out of focus blurry. I thought maybe it is the scanner or the way I am scanning, so I flipped them over and scanned again. Then I took out the plate holder and scanned them directly on the scanning glass--both ways.
They were all blurry.
I've decided it is the house. I think it must be out of focus. There is no other explanation.
In truth, I'm disheartened. I've spent a lot of time and energy and money trying to nail this large format dream I have, but it ain't working out. I'm going to try shooting film in both cameras today. I am flummoxed.
Saturday, September 18, 2021
I went to the beautician yesterday, but I don't think I got beautified. First off, my little friend, the Russian Jew, is in training for some body contest. She's ripped if not jacked. She is three weeks out from the competition and is on a strict diet. Death sucking on a soda cracker, as they say. It is a striking look. But you know what that does to your outlook on things. Well, maybe you don't. If you are anything like me, you've never gone "there." She was sitting outside taking some sun when I drove into the parking lot. I wasn't even sure it was her. It could have been any beautiful Russian woman. This little shopping plaza is owned by Russians and filled with Russian owned shops. Cold, beautiful Russian women are always somewhere around, sort of like a Bond movie. When she saw my car, however, she stood up. It was her.
"Jesus," I exclaimed, "look at you! You're jacked."
"Ha. That's what my boyfriend tells me. When he sees me, he says, "You're jacked."
"Yea," I said, "little good it does him."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, your sex drive has to be metering around negative three."
"So. . . what? I don't have to do anything. I just have to lay there. Am I supposed to do something?"
"Oh, that's right, you'er Jewish."
Yea, yea, yea. That's the way we talk to one another.
We always play catch up on one another's lives when I go, but we mostly talk about her life since I hardly have one. I just make the funny observations about what she tells me. She finds elements of truth there. After a while, however, I realized she was brushing chemicals on my hair but wasn't using foils.
"Hey, what are you doing? Why aren't you using foils?"
"I'm putting color in your hair. You have enough blond."
O.K. She is good. I leave it to her. But when I got home, I wasn't happy. I don't know what color I am, but I am not blond, and I like being blond. WTF? I got the zero calorie diet hair treatment. I was in and out before the cuckoo sang.
I am going to start swimming in the old chlorine pool. This color should be gone in no time.
But I'm not happy.
The photo. You know what it is. It's another fucked up C.S. picture, another mistake, another failed attempt. But I kinda thought it was groovy, you know, and I sent it around to my friends. Then I posted it on the little dry plate photographers group page with the message, "Let me know if you want any advice on how to make plates like this. I am good at this." I put a crazy face emoji at the end. Turns out, people really liked it. A lot. Some on the forum said they didn't think I could do it again. I said that was a fool's bet. They just don't know how I can f things up. But I feel weird about its popularity. They don't really respond much to the ones that work. The one, I mean. I think people like my accidents more than they like my "successes." But I agree. I like accidents by and large because they are unrepeatable.
Sitting in front of the mirror yesterday with my jacked hairdresser behind me, I got sad. I have become a fat, lumpy old guy. Maybe that is why she made my hair an indistinguishable color, just so I can fade into the background. Living with my mother, I just let myself get fat. I can't believe how much I drank while I was there, so I know you wouldn't be able to. The nerves, you know. . . they just needed SOMETHING. I wish I could smoke pot, but it kills my broken lung. Now that it is legal or semi-legal in most places, everyone is using. On my mother's street, all the old folks have their medical marijuana cards. That's cool, but it is something of a shame also. I told my mother I wished I could smoke a joint. She asked me what that was, and I realized all that old lingo is gone. No doobies. No ganja. No dope. It's gone the way of the old homosexual lifestyle. Now that they can get married and hold hands in public. . . well, it is like David Hockney lamented, it's nice, but the Bohemian element is gone. I like that Hockney lamented.
But I have to do something. My belly is big as a beach ball. My head seems to have doubled in size. When I moved home, I was doing well. I limited my drinking to two a day. I was drinking herbal tea at night. And as usual, I was making healthy meals. First I lost the puffiness, then my stomach seemed to flatten out a bit. I was able to cut my toenails without using an aqualung. It was going great. Then. . . I don't know. . . the sadness or something kicked in, and I dove in to the whiskey river. With cookies. And of course, I gained everything back plus some. But sitting in front of those full length mirrors with skinny jacked chick behind me, fuck. . . I looked like Norm McDonald before he died.
I've got to quit drinking. Hence. . . I wish I could smoke a doobie. I'm sorry, but I am weak. I need a crutch in my old age. I'm thinking about tripping. They used LSD to treat alcoholics in the '60s, and it worked like a miracle. Of course they couldn't draw worth a shit after that and the stuff they wrote was pretty much gibberish. Sure. . . there are trade offs. But holy fuck, you've got to be some idiot member of a religious cult to seek out reality 24/7. That just isn't for the thinking class.
I used to be able to quell a lot with exercise. I went to the gym in the morning and ran in the evening. I played basketball. I road bikes. I worked out on heavy bags and even boxed for awhile. But now. . . well, I'm a mess, and suddenly my hips are giving out. I can't even walk most of the time. My aerobic abilities are shit.
So, I have to cut the booze and the sugar and figure out how to stay sane. Not "sane." Maybe "calm." I actually jumped out of my car a couple days ago when some fucker almost ran into me and then started yelling at me and flipping me off. Fortunately for me, he sped away. My hips hurt when I hobbled back thinking something was really wrong with me.
I'll try to begin today on my Journey to Svelte. Yes, that is what I will become. Svelte.
But it is hard to imagine being slim and elegant and not holding a martini glass. Somehow that would just be wrong.
Friday, September 17, 2021
Let me show you my latest mistake! Wait for it. . . wait. . . .
That's it. Another glass plate with all the warts. It is dirty. I have trouble getting them clean (as I do everything else). I will have to rewash it and try to get the water spots off. I'm not sure, but I think there are some scratches in the emulsion, too. No. . . I'm sure. And WTF is up with the focus? This has been a problem with the Liberator all along. Sometimes things are in focus but too often they are not. Now I think it may be the film back. Maybe the film holders are sometimes not situated right inside it. That is my most recent thinking now, anyway. I am going to shoot a bunch of film through it to check that out. Shooting these glass plates is way too expensive. I need some R&D money if I am going to keep doing this.
Still, it has a quality, doesn't it?
I was at my mother's house to fix dinner. I asked her if she saw the photo I sent her.
"I can't do anything with the computer. It won't let me see anything."
"What do you mean?"
"All my pictures are gone. They're just gone. All that's on there are your pictures."
"Yes, pictures of you and Ili and pictures of you in the hospital."
WTF? I looked on her computer but didn't see any pictures. Then she opened Photos. All the pictures on my iPhone were there. I panicked. Holy shit!!!! I started scrolling through real quick. What did she see? What did she see?
"How in the fuck did these get on there?"
"I don't know, but mine are all gone. I can't get into FaceBook. It keeps asking me for my password. It never asked me that before."
I am not sure what happened with my mother's computer. I thought maybe the OS updated, but I am not sure. I deleted all my photos from her computer. Then we began trying to get into her apps. I have told my mother that passwords are like bank account numbers. You have to have them to get in. She has written them down now. Lots of them. In many different ways. Some have capital letters, some don't. Some have .s, some don't. They are approximate passwords, inconsistent. And she has many different ones for each account. Jesus Christ, Mother of God. . . my nerves were shot. I was losing my mind. I was getting shitty. Computers are not for old people. I am not buying my mother any more tech stuff until they come out with the Grandparent Series that only requires the user to click on giant buttons.
I had to change a lot of "forgotten" passwords. When I did, some of them said it looked like someone else had used the old ones. God knows what information she has given away. But much of her stuff is on my accounts. Now I'm terrified. How in the fuck did my photos end up on her computer? When will she start getting access to all my email and texts?
I am going to have to go change all my own stuff today. I need to figure out how to get Apple to stop uploading my pictures and documents to iCloud. I don't want any of my stuff in the cloud. I back up everything I want to keep on two external hard drives. I have not need nor want for them to have my stuff. God. . . I am getting too old for technology. I need the Grandparent Series.
I texted my maids to see if I could get back on the schedule. I had Fridays, but they want to put me on Tuesdays. Tuesdays?! I wrote back and asked how about Thursdays? I haven't heard back. Seems they have the hand. Since moving home, I have turned my house into what the Times refers to as "a squalid migrant camp." I try to clean. O.K. I don't try very hard. But when I do clean the kitchen, for instance, it never shines. It looks just like it did before I started. I'm not good at it. I need a maid.
Now I must get going. My days are not my own, but today is especially busy. Gym, shower, mother's therapy appointment, then. . . I get beautified! Somewhere in there I must eat. And when I get finished with the beautician, it will be nearly time for dinner. Fuck me. . . the days go by.
I'll make no photos today unless I use my phone. Maybe selfies when I am in foils and after, but that is all.
And now. . . [exeunt]. . . .
Thursday, September 16, 2021
I don't know. It's probably just me. But I feel like people are purposely naive about some things. Oh, I was going to write about priests and gymnastic coaches and doctors, about parents who think its all o.k., people who expect everyone to act with nobility. . . . That's just not me. I mean, I am not surprised. These are outrageous acts, they say. I say no shit. But have you ever talked to any women about their experiences as little girls? There aren't any I've met without some kind of tale. It's not just women. When I was a handsome boy and wanted a better haircut than the ones I got from the barbershop, I started going to "stylists." Better haircuts for sure. More expensive, too. But man, those guys sure leaned on me in a way the barber never did. They really got close to make sure they were doing a good job. And they took their time, too. Women only flirted, but there were teachers at our jr. high school who would let you drive their car if you could stand the other. In my redneck/cracker neighborhood there were many sayings that warned of sexual assault. If I wrote them out for you here and now, you would blame me, say I was making it up, but they were truths much told. These things don't just happen in Africa and India and in the Middle East though we like to think that European blood and influence have cleansed us. If I had the courage of a Dave Chappelle, I'd tell it to you straight. But even Dave is going back into hiding.
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
I did it, I did it! Sorta. I finally got one of the ambrotype dry plate photos to work. Sorta. The black edge on the left is due to the Liberator camera not covering a full 4x5 plate. The white on the right side is due to the dark slide on the film holder not closing all the way. So yea, I got another fucked up plate, but it worked!
I am one of the few people in the world trying to do this process. There are probably so many good reasons for this I can't count them all. Very few people have been successful. If I can begin to get consistent results, I will do more. Then I will begin to wonder why. It is a slow, deliberate way to work. Is it worth it? Are the images more spectacular than other forms?
Yet to be determined. This is a scan of the plate. This is not how it looks when you hold it. Backed with black, the image looks like this (lousy quality--I took it with my iPhone).
The glare at the top is caused by my desk lamp. I just made this quickly. But the resulting plate can be framed and mounted as a one of a kind photographic image.
So what do you do with that?
We'll see. I still have to work at getting the process down pat. There are a handful of wizards who love working in the dark arts still experimenting. Fortunately, they share most of what they discover. I say "most" because I fear I am not contributing enough to get the secret handshake. I am sure there is information being passed that I am not privy to. No real evidence, just my usual paranoia.
I'm an Outsider, don't you know.
Which became painfully evident to me once again yesterday when I sent around a bunch of silly texts to my friends about AOC and the entire Met Gala affair as well as some comments about the 'baller Russell Westbrook's wearing a skirt and knee boots at a fashion show. A retired 'baller wrote an acerbic post about "n- - -a's" who where dresses. I find such things hilarious.
I only have a couple friends who can tolerate if not enjoy my insouciance/glee at the profound silliness of the world. But sometimes in my excitement I forget that. I just want to give my pals a chuckle and lighten their days a bit. My reward for this forgetfulness is often some cutting remark about my viewpoint or intelligence. Undeserved, I feel, but I know some real ideologues who do not find any humor off message.
"You need some viewpoint diversity," one of them wrote.
"I ❤️ AOC...she can do whatever she wants lol," wrote another. The [. . .] thing that's annoying about this today is that nobody knows what the hell the word performative actually means, apparently, at least not in a theoretical or critical sense."
Ouch! I was only trying to have fun. The Met Gala and the rest of it was like reading People magazine for me. It was drivel that I was able to find some humor in. You can analyze it, criticize it, perform Marxist/structural/post-structural/hermeneutical/feminist/identity theory analysis of it, sure. You can trot out your academic chops, no doubt. I don't care. But pandering to referential authority in a text message. . . really? Jesus, that's like trying to be learned on Twitter. Texts and Twitter are made for wit, for the bon mot.
But some of my friends. . . well, they argue within the boundaries of textual authority. That, fortunately or unfortunately, is not where life is lived, and when MAGA comes for them, they are going to run or lock their doors and call the proper authorities. The strongly worded letter, however, is going to do them little good at that moment. Their identity is going to be less than theoretical. It will show itself in an emergency.
I love to read and I have a good education, but man, I admire a cowboy.
It is a wonder that I am so popular in my mother's neighborhood. But then again, I don't text them in the mornings.
I must say, though, that I have been intellectually lazy since retiring and my friends' rebukes sent me reeling. Last night, I began boning up on the postmodern post-structuralists once again. I will do the same with social theories next week. I don't wish to be caught in a gunfight with a knife.
I wrote back to one of my detractors that I just didn't like ideologues.
"Everyone is an ideologue," I got back. "Even you."
"Yea?" I responded. "At least I'm not consistent.
To wit--Norm McDonald died. Oh fuck me I loved watching Norm McDonald. He was such a liar. He loved his wife, he said, who was beautiful, and their daughter, but he was afraid he might be a homosexual. His wife was not beautiful and they had a son. Everything was a schtick. He revealed himself through misdirection. He went against the grain. He disagreed with everyone. Sometimes he even shocked me. My world is reduced by one.
Don't watch this if you are easily offended even if you think you are not. But this is Norm McDonald.
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Oh why am I mucking about with big cameras and dry plates, spending dollar after dollar chasing some elusive look that I don't seem to be able to capture when I can make a simple Polaroid and color it on my own? Look! It is really something, I think. Alas, I can no longer do this. The film is gone. Photographers and photography are pawns in the hands of tech companies. I have been experimenting much, and as frustrating as it has been (mostly due to my errors), it has been fruitful in that I am finding which cameras I enjoy using most. It comes down to user experience, doesn't it? Yes, like everything else. The best boat for you is the one you like to sail. The best car is the one you like to drive. The best camera is the one you like to use. And sure, there are different boats and cars and cameras for different types of use. No doubt. In the end, though, you know which one and which use you like the best.
Monday, September 13, 2021
This is what I got from a roll of film that didn't go through the camera. The rest was blank. I am about to give up on analog. I just keep f'ing things up. My glass plates are not turning out well at all. Indeed, I am just burning through the money trying to get a decent picture. I have to admit, though, that I love the colors I get from my own home development of color film. It is fairly thrilling. I may leave the large format stuff alone and just go with the other formats. I wanted so, though, to become a dry plate wizard.
But palm trees and blue skies, eh? That ain't nothin'.
I took ma to the pool yesterday. I thought to tread water while she did whatever. It got to be painfully boring, so I tried swimming. To my astonishment, my left arm fully rotated. I could swim! At least I could make the swimming motion. I have never been much of a swimmer for some reason. I don't float well. I can take a full breath and still sit on the bottom of the pool. I must have heavy bones. I don't know. But in the best of times, I'm slow. Yesterday, I looked like one of those old hand cranked batter beaters, just churning up the water without going anywhere. No matter, though. . . I was swimming. I think that I might try to make it part of my fitness routine. The only problem is stripping down at the pool. I have the body of a Borscht Belt comedian now. It's o.k. I have lost a lot of my ego/dignity in the past few years. All I need is a pair of old man trunks and a belted hip-length terrycloth top with two big side pockets to complete the look.
And a pack of Lucky Strikes or Camels.
In truth, I've always disliked swimming as exercise. Plus chlorine plays hell with my new blond hair. Still. . . a man's gotta do. . . .
I opened another vault yesterday. More pictures I haven't seen in maybe ten years. One file contained all the old surf photos I took with the Holga camera ever so long ago. I thought they were gone, but there were the big TIFF files from which I can print. Hallelujah! And there were many that never made the surf site (link). I will probably post a few of them here, but most of them will be over where they belong.
I found some early Lonesomeville images in there, too, that might make it into the book. Yea, I'm still working on it. Decisions, decisions. But it will be done. . . perhaps in time for Christmas!
The days are getting shorter, even here. I am going to bed earlier each night and am rising with the sun. It is nature's way. It is my rhythm.
My travel buddy left for his conquest of the Camino de Santiago this weekend. C.C. is preparing for Paris. My republican friend left yesterday to return home after a couple weeks touring Europe. My neighbors should be home from Eastern Europe soon. Me? I'm making myself content with smallish excursions that have me home by nightfall. I think in a few weeks my mother should be capable of taking care of herself for a few days if I want to spend the night out of town. Maybe. If not, no matter. Since moving back home, I have become more at peace with things as they are. There is much to keep me busy here and there is still most of the peak of hurricane season left. I will take some photos today, I think. The weather looks promising. There is marketing to do and dinners to cook for mother and still plenty of therapy to take her to. Maybe I'll get to make some fall journeys with my cameras. You would like that, pictures and stories.
Sunday, September 12, 2021
In a single zany sentence, this is how the once-promising summer of boxing ended: Triller, a social video app that is a much less popular version of TikTok, put on a pay-per-view fight between a 58-year-old Evander Holyfield (who hasn’t fought in a decade) and a 44-year-old mixed martial artist, Vitor Belfort — and paid former President Donald J. Trump and Donald Trump Jr. to serve as live commentators, all on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. (link)
Trump had hoped to box Biden in the main event (link), but I guess the money wasn't right.
This, my friends, is the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. It is Your Land. It is My Land. Stand Beside Her, And Guide Her. . . .
So maybe we've all gone mad. It seems so. And from what I read today (link), t.v. execs are going to feed us an endless stream of sci-fi/Marvel Comics entertainment until we all become addled teenagers once again. It will be the triumph of Clearasil.
And so it goes. There seems to be no sun today, so much of my photo dreams are cancelled for the umpteenth day in a row. I need sunlight for those glass plates. I may have to move on to a plan B. Or make more pictures of "things."
It is not much of a life for a peeper.
Saturday, September 11, 2021
It's 9/11. I don't wish to relive it through television specials or journalistic pieces. It seems never to have ended. It seems we live with it every day.
So my memory of the day is merely personal. It has not wide-ranging importance to anyone. Like everyone in America, I remember where I was when the first plane crashed into the first tower that morning. I was at the gym. I heard the news on the radio. No one was certain what had happened yet. By the time I got home, the second plane had hit the second tower. It seemed unreal, even looking at the images on the television screen. One knew right away that things had just forever changed.
The night before, however, I had decided I could no longer continue things with N. I'm certain she had already come to the same conclusion. She had moved and was at the university a couple hours away. It was impossible, really, and unfair. I, of course, was confused as to whom it was most unfair. I had tried to end the affair before she left, but she had not wanted that and so we lingered on. When it was no longer possible, though, I wanted her badly. Why had I been so stupid? I was like Issac Davis deciding he wanted Tracy (link).
Unlike the movie, however, the story didn't end with a Gershwin song. Of course. And so, I wrote a long goodbye on Sunday night, an email that I sent late after a number of whiskeys. I would wait for her response. That was 9/10.
By the time she would have read the email, however. . . 9/11.
And that was that. For a long while, at least. We didn't leave one another alone for a number of years, but those are tales for another time.
Q lived in the East Village but was in Manchester that day. His girl, C, was in class at Hunter College on the Upper East Side. They were the only people I knew living in NYC at the time. They were both O.K.
I began a new journal that day and titled it "New World Journal." Indeed, it was.
Good old N turned out alright. She got a job with a major magazine and moved to New York. Her career took off and she became famous in the fashion world. You can look her up. There are many photos of her in the Getty Image Library, by herself and with the very, very famous. We stayed in touch for many years and I saw her a couple times, once here and once in Manhattan. Then she met the boy she would marry, and I haven't heard from her since. I check in on her online like a creeper from time to time.
There is so much more to say, but I am not poetic today. I have been purging since moving home. I've only eaten soups and have limited my drinking to one or two whiskeys a day. Last night, however, I fell hard off a speeding wagon. The world was, I guess, just too much with me. I am slow and groggy this morning. I haven't the energy to go searching through old emails and journals for words from the past. All that jazzed me a few nights ago overwhelms me this morning. The past is a grand place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. Those journals are evil. I wrote everything there without censorship. There is joy and depression, danger and lust. There are things I should regret, perhaps. . . but I don't. What is clear, though, is that we were all living through a different set of paradigms and assumptions then that look foreign to many now. N and I were living on the very cusp of change, I looking in one direction she looking in another. I know that the intersection of our affair was of profound importance to her.
I know that the end of it was even more so.
Friday, September 10, 2021
Being home again is thrilling and dangerous. Last night I listened to music I had pirated in the time after my divorce, the crazy time, and I read letters, emails, and other writing while I listened. Jesus. . . things have changed. I was drunk with it all and wrote a blog post for today that I had to delete. One must be so very careful these days.
I am shocked by what I don't remember. It is important to write things down, to keep a record of what goes on, or it is all lost. But some of it might better be, at least for me. So many painful letters, so many hideous responses. In the end, however, everything works out. For others, I mean. Apparently I was an important part of their lives, but leaving me may have been more so. Ha! That is my take, anyway. In the end, the letters were sweet. . . for them. Bittersweet for me.
If I'm writing this now, I must have accepted that my last affair is over. It can go into the pile of old memories with the rest of them. I only have one regret, really. I didn't write it all down during that time. Oh, no. . . that would not have been good. Writing, art, music. . . those were not things to be lauded. In others, sure, but not for me.
Whatever. I felt something akin to hope and happiness last night. It seemed a very distant, foreign emotion. It was probably the music that did it.
Here is another little piece out of the billions of words that lay in those old drives. I don't remember writing it, but I used to do that. I would read a poem and then write my own in the same meter, using the fixed line as my guide, using the same number of syllables, the same number of lines per stanza, the same tone and sentiment. I don't know if I would have written "fuck" now, but it fit the meter, I suppose. I might have used another single syllable word, but it was Bukowski you know. I will leave it.
It was painting by numbers, but if I didn't tell it, who would know?
* * *
A Poem After Reading Bukowski (2003)
She is seeing a fellow,
She tells me.
He works for a brokerage firm.
Oh, I say.
She looks at me defensively.
He makes me laugh.
Well, that’s something.
We used to be lovers occasionally,
But she has let me know that that is all gone.
I don’t object. It is not my call.
But I would like to fuck her now.
We probably should never have made love,
Yeah, she says, you’re probably right.
I didn’t want her to agree with me.
I wanted her to object, to tell me
That it was important,
That it was good.
I am just home from work tonight
Fixing my dinner for one.
She has not written me since she went back
I think about her, and suddenly I realize
That she is with her new boyfriend.
Thursday, September 9, 2021
I opened up an old hard drive yesterday. Bad ju-ju. Q says, "Old hard drives are trouble, little digital crypts waiting for their spirits to escape." Tru dat. It was not the pictures that got me but the volume of writing that was on them--old journals (lots and lots and lots of them), stories, vignettes, letters, several beginnings of failed novels. . . . I used to write all the time. Constantly.
Here is part of the first thing I read. It is perfect pre-9-11. You can get the beginning and the ending, perhaps. Maybe just a little more.
1999. It looks a strange number now.
It begins with an email, then a song. The longing, the pulling of old love. You want to go back, to live there awhile. Maybe you drink the whiskey, consort with faeries and daemons. And then your wife or girlfriend calls your name and you are yanked back to the present, to the world of bad cars, ill health, and unpaid bills.
She wants me to write this narrative, the long-promised, oft started-narrative. It is her story, and she wants to hear it. Maybe it has been long enough now.
She was in my film course, a once a week evening class. I noticed her the first night. She was the most beautiful girl in the room and the one I knew I would teach to. However, I was married and tried hard not to look at her. But I kept her in my peripheral vision, always seeing her from the corner of my eye. Everything I did--every move, every word--was inspired by her. I knew a few of the boys in the class already, and they gave me the look. Yes, she was beautiful
Did we meet once or twice before the storm? I don’t remember now, and surely it matters little. Early in the term, a massive hurricane descended on Florida. I have tried hard in the past to make this an important part of the narrative, but it isn’t. It was simply an incredibly large hurricane that never came. The day it was to cross the state, it turned suddenly north and went inland at North Carolina causing billions of dollars of damage. That morning, I had taken my wife to the airport at dawn, then come home to put away the things in the yard that might become missiles. The last thing I moved was a ninety pound glass table top that slipped from my grasp in the misty rain and the dull gray light, the last thing I moved to the detached garage. It fell on my right big toe which was housed in a flip-flop, and crushed it in five places. I was lucky not to lose it. My wife did not come home to take care of me when she found out and, indeed, never really came home at all. When she got back into town, she told me that she was not happy. A few days later, she told me that she wanted a divorce. And that was that. I was unable to walk, owned a blind, diabetic German Shepard/Husky mix, and had just lost my wife.
The film class did not meet for two weeks. The first we missed because it was Memorial Day, the next because of the hurricane. When the class next met, I was unable to walk and the beautiful girl had a patch covering her left eye. Her name was N. I asked her what had happened. She had been in a car accident, she said, rear-ended on I-4. The air bag had gone off and damaged her eye severely. “Oh, dear, you will be rich. Will you marry me?” I said off-handedly. I was only slightly kidding. She screwed her mouth up a bit, her tongue slightly touching her upper lip as she thought. “Yes,” she said slowly, looking at me with her one good eye. The boys in the class went nuts. Looking back, I think I took her at her word.
And that is how it began for me. I did not talk to N for many weeks, at least not directly, but I was always speaking to her. And when the room went dark and we viewed a film, I would sit near her somehow, always nearer. One night, halfway through the term, N got up early and said she had to leave. “OK,” I said, and just as she reached the door, I told the class, “OK, lets talk about what will be on the test next week.” She paused, turned facing me, and waited. “I thought you had to go,” I said. She put her hand against the doorjamb and leaned seductively. “Oh, go on. I’ll wait.” She was a cinematic image. I swallowed the hook.
I had a student in another class who was friends with N. One day I mentioned to her that N was very pretty, that all the boys in my film class were crazy about her. She did not respond and I thought the effort wasted. But a week or so later, I saw N in the hallway and she said, “I hear you mentioned me to Andrea.” “Maybe,” I said. “How old are you?” I asked. “Twenty,” she said. That was OK, I thought. I was forty-seven.
The next week after class, she came to my office. She wore a short, brown corduroy skirt and as she sat on my couch, she could not help occasionally showing her underpants. She could not drive because she was still wearing the patch and she always got a ride home with some boys. We talked for about an hour before I became worn out and said, “what about your ride?” “Oh, they will come get me.”
The next day, I got an email from her. By then, it was late in the term, close to Thanksgiving, and I was trying to make it to the end of the term without incident. I tried, but it was impossible. One night she called me at home and said she was in my neighborhood, nearby, and she could come over. “Oh, no!” I told her. She was my student. I could not have her over. Not yet. But she persisted and I was lonely and weak. I said OK.
That night we talked and hugged and kissed. There was a week left of class. I knew that it was wrong, but the end was close. I figured that was good enough.
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
It was time. I knew if I didn't do it yesterday. . . well, it would be bad. An old man living with his mother just becomes weird at some point. That point came. I stayed through Labor Day. My mother doesn't need me for very much any more, not on a practical basis.
So yesterday, I moved the coffee pot back home, and I'm going to sleep where the coffee pot resides. Last night, for the first time in over two and a half months, I slept in my own bed. I came home.
I was unexpectedly overcome with sadness when I drove away, though. I teared up. I'm like that. An empath. But sometimes a thing just has to be done.
I went back to have dinner with her last night. She had packed everything up that I had left lying about. She even packed up groceries. It seemed a bit harsh, but. . . .
When I got back to my house, the familiarity with sitting at home alone hit me. I made some tea and decided to eat a brownie I had frozen for future use. As always, big mistake. Jesus, I just can't eat that shit. It makes me edgy.
My sleep was none too good. This morning, I sit with coffee in my usual chair feeling the residual effects of last night's folly. Today I begin my new regimen. I'll be back to nightly yoga and meditation, teas and healthy snacks. So I say, anyway. I won't try to quit drinking, but it will be limited again to just a couple a day. It just makes it easier not to drink. I will eschew big chunks of meat by and large, and make soups and lots of vegetables. I will snack on hummus. . . . You know the drill. But I drank so much at my mother's that I look like Fatty Arbuckle now. I have to empty my tank a bit.
Now I will need to deal with my excuses for not living a more productive life. I won't be able to blame my mother. I probably will find that I was more productive in the brief time I had to myself than I am in the greater morass of time. Maybe it was good to have an excuse.
But the thing is done. And there is much maintenance that has been neglected, an overwhelming amount. It is already beginning to weigh me down. So. . . don't worry about me getting too happy.
We know, that just wouldn't do.
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
I wrote that title just before going to bed. I'd spent the day at my house trying to get it ready as a habitat for living once again. The chemistry/photo lab is gone from the kitchen. . . mostly. I did a few chores outside. I also began to realize that simply moving home was not going to be a panacea for what ails me. It saddens me that I may never find the cure.
Many of my friends are traveling now, but what they report is disturbing. A friend just got back from Hawaii. He said it wasn't fun. His words: "It was weird." My friend who travels through Europe for business remarks on the emptiness of the cities. It is not the same experience, he says. If anyone was in doubt, the world is not going to return to "normal." Trying to recreate old books and movies is futile. That world is gone and will never come back. I'm afraid that art and literature of the past is going to make less and less sense, especially to the young. It has no connection to their realities. Much of their world is virtual. Their pleasures are not the same as those of their parents and grandparents.
That is what I think, anyway.
When I see parents trying to be friendly with their sons' and daughter's friends who are headed off to college, I am appalled by their insecure, almost desperate attempts to engage them as familiars, to speak to them as friends. It is like watching The Disney Chanel where the kids are wise and have a secret language to deal with the oafish, ineffectual adults, tools to be used as needed but little more. Adults, it seems, have abandoned their authority to a vastly more talented and beautiful generation.
That is what I think, anyway.
After cleaning up the house a bit, I came back to my mother's. We were going across the street for a barbecue with the neighbors. Neither of us wanted to go, but it is what you do. Fortunately, there were a few other neighbors there, so the need to be constantly engaged in conversation was somewhat mitigated. The men had a common interest it seemed. A giant t.v. was blasting the Rays/Red Sox game, and that was the gist of the conversation until dinner was served at which point one might reasonably think the television would be turned off, or at least the audio, but no. . . I guess they are used to sports bars. The food was bad and I eschewed the whiskey. I did my best with the conversation and had the women laughing though one of the men seemed surly and not to care much for my company. I didn't care beyond wishing I could show him to be stupid, but I was really only there because of my mother, so I suffered his painful face and smug look as I would have done at any meeting with outsiders at the factory.
Three hours later, we were home. I poured a scotch and sat on the couch. I turned the television to something on YouTube and immediately fell into a coma while my mother sat outside and watched the rain. When I came to, a documentary about the life and career of Linda Ronstadt was just beginning. I watched that and then another documentary on studio musicians known as The Wrecking Crew. As much fun as the music was, such stories never end well, Ronstadt no longer able to sing, the result of Parkinson's disease, the Wrecking Crew left unnoticed, some diseased and broke, others dying or dead.
I didn't sleep that well last night.
The inside of my head needs cleaning. I just need to have it all scraped clean so I can start anew. But that would not work, either. The body is failing me, too. I watch my mother, crooked and shuffling from place to place, room to room, in wonder and despair. She found a large bottle of oxycodone the other day that she had not taken when she had her previous accident. I mean a BIG bottle. She just got a new prescription, too. I eye them for future emergencies, an insurance policy, if you will.
I won't report the news to you. It is mean and dangerous and awful. Rather I will drink my coffee and go to the gym. Then I will take my mother to therapy after which we will have lunch. Then I will go back to my own home where I will prepare for and consider my eventual egress.
Whatever that means.
Monday, September 6, 2021
Sunday, September 5, 2021
Saturday, September 4, 2021
Simply More Artless Complaining and Self-Absorbed Misery--Do Not Bother Reading--You Won't Like Me Any Better For It
Took my mother to the doctor and to therapy and to Costco today. It took all day. I didn't make it to my house. I don't feel well. My belly is bad and I am achy/tired. Probably breakthrough Covid, but maybe something else. I drank whiskey all night and it seemed to help. I put on a fairly good movie after dinner tonight, "The Railway Man," I think it was called, but it bored my mother so I switched everything back to commercial t.v. so she could watch "Quigley." Whatever. I am going to take a bunch of drugs and go to bed. My mother is doing well but is not "there" yet. I am heading toward three months here--a season! And you?
* * *
I did just that--took drugs and went to bed. In the night I woke with a bad stomach. And this morning. I am weak and punky, so I probably have gotten a breakthrough case. I probably got it at the gym, but maybe from all the waiting rooms I sit with my mother. It's a drag, but I have all the time in the world just to lie about. The girls will just have to wait.
I really have nothing to tell here today but my disdain for "the crowd." In the main, people are dumber than dogs and more self-interested. Sitting in the waiting room with my mother for an hour (how do doctors fuck up scheduling so badly?), was all I could take. A woman (I am not allowed to mention race or ethnicity, right?) kept playing horrible (I guess I can't say what kind, either, as it might give away the other) music on her phone while she stared at the screen. I was a gnats hair of screaming, "Ear buds, Lady!!!" but knew my mother wouldn't like it. Chairs were in rows of three, so of course people would sit in the middle one rather than on the end so that someone could sit on the other. I moved three times to make a place for someone else to sit. One woman texted the whole time with the typewriter click on. We not only got to listen to her keystrokes but to whomever was responding keystrokes, too. I could go on, but I won't.
I won't even get into the annoyances at CostCo. Holy shit.
Isolation has taken away whatever crowd coping skills I might have had.
I just want a studio where I can go back to making things. The life of painters and writers (except for Fitzgerald), working alone and having drinks with a few friends in friendly confines, the right sort of conversations. . . .
I'll probably lie low today. At my house. My mother is pretty much able to handle things now. Total extraction will be difficult, though, logistically speaking. My big grinding coffee pot needs to be where I am going to wake up. That is the pivot point. When I take that back to my house. . . well. . . my mother will know. Soon.
Then I will be left to live with the consequences.
Friday, September 3, 2021
I know, I know, I know. . . but I just wanted to show you. This is the first glass plate attempt using the new developer I had to mix by hand from half a dozen powdered chemicals. The developer that I wasn't sure would work. The dubious brass lens and the super-estimated exposure time. I got an image. It is terribly flawed, but I feel like I'm participating in the early stages of the development of photography. Just getting an image is amazing.
But yea, it's the milk can again. And yea, it is boring. And yes, I did. . . I colorized it. But if I am able to get the process down, I have real plans. There are not so many people making dry plate pictures right now. Why would anyone go to the trouble when a phone will give you a much cleaner, clearer photograph?
But that's the thing.
Last night, I watched the news with ma, and I heard the new Governor of New York say the very thing I've despairingly predicted. She said the terrible storms were a result of climate change and were here to stay. We just have to learn to live with it. IT IS THE NEW NORMAL!
An article I read by a climate scientist this morning called it the Dystopian Moment.
I'm too old to be Mad Max. I'm too old to Escape from New York. I'm even too old for The Road.
But people would rather read about what Lil Naz has to say. Is that how you spell it?
You wait. The satellite watches me. Soon everyone will be saying "The Texas Taliban." Sure as shittin'.
Today marks the end of ten weeks of living with mother. I take her to the doctor today. She has many complaints that she will poorly relate about how well she is doing. I am pretty sure he will take X-rays, tell her the bone has healed, tell her to stick with therapy for the next X number of weeks, and to call him if she doesn't begin to feel better. He'll say it will take time but eventually the pain and swelling will lessen, etc. She will come home with a complexity of feelings about it.
I am wondering about my extraction. I have to go home sometime. I don't know that she feels that way though. She can't imagine that my life is any different at my own home than it is here. You sit and talk, make dinner, watch the news, eat, then settle down for an evening of "Frazier" and "Gunsmoke." It's the same everywhere. What else would one do?
Her friends tell her she's lucky to have such a caring son.
"You don't tell them how mean I am to you? You don't tell them about the mental abuse?"
That is a form of self-defense on my part. I am getting to be snippy. Most nights now, I feel entombed.
But I am certain that when I go home and am alone, I will be miserable, too, and will feel a terrible guilt as frosting on the cake.
There is no winning in this life.
I'm getting a t-shirt made that says "Team Bourdain" atop a noose.
But my travel/art buddy is much different. He is getting ready to leave in a couple weeks to walk the Camino de Santiago on his religious pilgrimage (link). He will be gone for many weeks. And he has two other European trips planned following that. He tells me I need to hit the road. Sure, I say. Just as soon as. . . . I tell him he should start a travel blog. He has been a traveller for many, many years, and who doesn't like a travel story?
But not everyone likes the idea of shaming themselves in public daily the way I do.
It is Friday. The Labor Day weekend is upon us. That means within a week or ten days, we will have our first hurricane warnings in my own hometown. It happens every year. Most years we get lucky, but sometimes we get hit. All we can do is cross our fingers and lay in supplies.
Ma and I are too cheap to get a generator.