Friday, October 30, 2020

The Days Ahead

 


I am disaster minded, I know.  I have been since I was a child.  I am imaginative which is not good for mental health.  I imagine how everything can go wrong.  As a child, when the family's annual vacations were coming up, trips to the homeland or for a week in a hotel at the beach, I would make myself unwell with anticipation.  What if everything didn't go right?  What if it rained all week?  What if. . . what if. . . ?  

It has carried over into adulthood (if it can be said I have ever achieved such a thing).  A painful pimple under my arm is absolutely lymphoma.  Any abdominal pain is cancer.  

My house has been sinking into the earth, rotting from the inside and out.  There is no hope of saving my nearly 100 year old wooden house.  Why would I buy a wooden house in this wet, mildewed state?  

The fixit man came to work yesterday.  He opened up the water damaged wall and ceiling.  No mold.  Much less work than he anticipated.  An easy fix.  Same with the damaged exterior boards.  They don't need to be replaced.  The deck I built four years ago has already rotted.  Why?  Pressure treated wood?  It was like a voodoo spell had been cast.  The fixit man figured out the problem.  When I changed out he mulch for granite in the driveway, the ground became less permeable and the water ran rather than soaked.  I had a very sleepless night thinking I would have to remove all the granite and completely rebuild the deck.  Then, in the morning, I came up with a solution.  He agrees that it will work.  And we will not have to remove most of the granite nor rebuild the entire deck.  It will be work, but there is a solution.

It is only my anxiety that holds the world together, though.  I realize that.  I must never stop worrying.  

All by way of saying, be ready for disaster.  I have quit worrying about the election.  I don't care anymore.  I have quit watching the "news."  I don't need their hourly electoral college predictions.  I know that Corona virus is going to be more widespread.  They've reported that already--a quadrillion times.  I just can't work myself up about these things any longer.  I get it.  Biden is ahead.  Trump may win anyway.  If not, the militia of deplorables are going to do terrible things.  Trump will not concede.  

Fuck us.  If that is what happens, that is what we get.  I think I am screwed either way.  Neither party likes me.  I am a dangerous nay sayer who will point out that the one's I agree with are wrong.  I am nobody's favorite.  No matter what, I can only hope to be ignored rather than ridiculed, scorned, and beaten.  

It all begins this weekend.  Buckle up.  Get ready.  Katy bar the door.  First there is Halloween under a full moon, a blue moon at that.  Then we shift the clocks.  And then the election.  The virus is going to take over again and we will all be in isolation for the dark holiday months while either militias or antifa prowl the streets.  The national guard will be ordered out and the FBI will be in disarray.  

That's the way I think.  I may have a pimple on my ass, but I think it is anal cancer.  

There.  I have performed my theory. 

It is difficult for me to understand why candidates fly around the country from state to state campaigning.  Especially now.  Are there really and truly people who go, "Well, I wasn't going to vote for him, but when he decided to make a stop in Atlanta, I said, fuck yea, he's the one for me."  If that is the case, we need to figure out another way to pick our nation's leaders.  The constant advertising on television, the internet, and by mail is abominable.  The Biden campaign is bragging about how much money they have raised to spend on campaigning as if that is a wonderful quality.  "We won the election because we outspent them two to one."  It is an abhorrent thing.  That the citizens of our nation don't want to regulate this is a posey on our character.  How can anyone believe in the efficacy of such government?  

America is just one big gameshow funded by advertisements.  Money always wins.  

I am preparing for the coming disasters now.  I'll stock up on things that might be in short supply this weekend.  I am fixing the house and getting the entire interior repainted in anticipation of another Year of Living Dangerously (Alone).  I'm going to buy some decorative and practical  things just to cheer me up.  

What a world, what a world.  




Thursday, October 29, 2020

Horrors Past and President

  

Frank Bruni wrote a good op-ed today that reflects my feelings correctly (link).  As does this from a different op-ed:

And then, just when you thought the country would rise up in moral revulsion … nothing happened. Trump’s behavior got worse and worse and worse … and nothing happened. He was defying moral gravity. A lot of Americans either had reality TV moral standards or their expectations of politicians were so low they didn’t care.

I will be voting with a crowd who doesn't really care for my white male cis-gendered ass.  Such is the world today.  There is enough viciousness on either side to go around.  

My attentions, however, have been contracted to my own little world.  The fixit man begins work today.  There are big problems caused by a leaking roof to repair.  And way leads to way.  As we walked around, the project grew larger and larger.  Of course.  Old men and old houses.  I asked about remodeling the bathroom while we were taking out the walls.  Another $10,000.  Oh. . . I guess I'll stay with the 1970's tub and sink for now.  The deck I put on four years ago has already rotted out.  Yesterday, the mystery was solved.  When I replaced the mulch driveway with granite, the water began to run rather than sink into the more permeable ground, and it settles under the deck.  Now I have a big problem.  

I am feeling sick with it all.  

LIke many in the Time of Covid, there doesn't seem to be a happy way to turn.  Everywhere I look, I see doom and destruction and despair.  I just want to load up on Soma.  

Last night, I got a text from my ex-secretary.  She was out on a "great date."  She wanted to know how I was doing.  

She had asked me earlier what was my prediction on the election.  I wrote back, "Supreme Court."  

She counts on my guidance.  Ha!

My fixit guy is in the final stages of divorcing a woman who lives in his daughter's house with him.  He says he has been going out with women he meets on internet dating sites.  He says that they don't really work out.  Huh.  Hard to imagine.  

It makes me wonder if I am the only one who is socially distancing.  Am I the only one afraid to kiss a stranger?  Am I the only one who doesn't party with friends or travel from state to state?  Am I the only one who sits in his crumbling home alone?  

Many thousands of dollars from now, at least the house won't be crumbling.  It will be patched and repaired and freshly painted.  I will be able to wait in anticipation of the next disaster.  

I may have said this already.  I don't know.  My mind is foggy.  But I'll say it or say it again, whichever.  There was a benefit to finding those old letters from my young girlfriend. I began thinking about something other than my recent past.  I have dredged up old memories and nightmares galore.  I am no longer haunted simply by my most recent failures.  

I hope one day soon to begin remembering some of the good parts of my life again.  But I will have to keep it a secret when I do.  I mean, you know, the "bad old days of privilege" and all.  We live in the Age of Correction and Re-education" now.  Long Live Mao.  

O.K.  The repairman will be here in a moment.  I should probably put some pants on and get ready.  He is a Trumper.  

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Warning: Either Skip This or Read Quickly

  


Narcotic overdoses have gone up.  Do you know why?  More people are using them.  Do you know why?  Well, there's the rub, isn't it?  When does one make the decision to take up a top shelf drug?  Those of you who like to smoke a little weed or drink a bit too much might be able to shed some light on the issue.  Why do you do it?  You know it is harmful.  You may focus on the "positive" side of the drug as in "studies show" that two glasses of wine a day can have benefits or that smoking marijuana can decrease interocular pressure, etc.  But that's cherry picking, and you know it.  So why?  Why are some so hellbent to alter life's experience?  

O.K.  I had two scotches last night.  Jesus, they were good. There is something magical about it.  I broke a string of drinkless days--and I don't care.  I am not "on the wagon."  I am simply trying to look something like I once did when I wore regular pants instead of pajamas.  It is working ever so slowly.  My face isn't as puffy in the mornings and the under eye baggage is diminished.  We all know the deal.  

Still there are times when you just need to take the edge off, as they say, to round out those sharp corners, to make the world a little softer.

So. . . we slouch toward the answer to why people do narcotics.  But hold on!  The original question was why have overdoses and deaths increased, and the partial answer is that more people are using them.  But that isn't the full nor the real answer.  The real answer is. . . BECAUSE THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE BUYING.  

Not so many people decide to overdose.  It is an accident.  Sure, some, and that's o.k. with me.  I try to keep a stock of gentle killers for the time I decide to check out.  I'm not the shoot myself in the brainpan or hang myself by the neck or the jump off a high building kind of guy.  I'll go the Marilyn Monroe way, thank you.  But most people who overdose do so because of the uncertain purity of street drugs.  Every time the drug passes hands in a commercial deal, it gets stepped on.  You can never know for sure the purity of the powder in that dime bag.  

I had a girlfriend for a long time who used to say if people were stupid enough to overdose, we should let them.  They are doing no one any good, anyway.  

"Really?" I'd say.  "Lenny Bruce?  Are you talking about Lenny Bruce?"  

I was only kidding, though.  Poor Lenny.  But if people are willfully stupid enough to take too many drugs. . . . 

The biggest problem, as I see it, is the crime that surrounds those addicted to illegal drugs.  The habit is expensive and the money has to come from somewhere.  Drugs aren't the problem.  Crime is.  I hate thieves. There are two things you can never protect yourself from--thieves and liars.  I.E. Donald Trump. 

I don't know why I wrote any of that.  But I have a fixit man coming in a few minutes and don't have time to delete it and write something else, so this will stand.  Sorry.  Sometimes it just happens.  

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Performance Anxiety

  


My new crush is now on the Supreme Court.  She will imprison the baby killers and make sure a lot of lazy fuckers who want to lie about and draw their welfare checks have no health insurance.  Makes sense to me.  Who is having the most babies?  That's right.  Those welfare fucks.  But wait. . . who will pay their medical bills?  Oh, yea.  People who pay for health insurance.  You see, doctors and hospitals are going to get their money one way or another.  They don't give away health care.  They don't even discount it.  They make it up on paying customers.  So you middle class working stiffs. . . take that!  

I try to explain this to my mother, but it just doesn't sink in.  

You'd better get me a date with Amy.  I swear I can bring out the beast in her.  The country will be better off for it.  

What seems a year ago, I sent some images to a company in Vienna, One Instant, who was developing a new peel apart color instant film, and told them that I had developed a special process with the old Polacolor film that resulted in the images they saw, and that I was curious to see if I could do the same thing with their film.  They responded quickly and said they would send me some of their prototype.  Then came Covid and they wrote to tell me that they were unable to ship to the U.S.  It has been so long, I just figured they had forgotten about me, but yesterday a package arrived.  It was the One Instant film.  

I was ecstatic.  It felt in some small way like corporate sponsorship, a validation of sorts.  I took a phone pic and sent it to crow to my friends.  


But when the adrenaline wore off, I started to think.  This is 4x5 film.  I was shooting a smaller pack film in the studio synched to powerful strobes.  I've shot 4x5 instant film, but never indoors.  A lot has changed in the five or six years since I took those photos.  I no longer have a studio.  And as it turns out, I don't have the correct film holder for shooting this film.  And the Black Cat Liberator does not synch up well, if at all, to studio strobes.  Oh. . . and I no longer have anyone to use as a model.  

I have a lot of thinking to do.  

Last night, after dinner (and oh, what a dinner it was), my mother called to tell me what was happening at her house.  Long story short, she decided to go out at dusk and turn off her sprinklers.  When she opened the box, she saw something inside.  She said she thought it was a wasps nest and poked it with a stick. It turned out to be a frog, and when she stuck it, it tried to get away and suddenly the box started to smoke and sizzle.  When she went inside, her air conditioning didn't work.  

"Jesus, that's crazy.  Why would you poke the frog?"

"I thought it was a hornet's nest."

"O.K.  Have you ever heard the old saying that you don't poke a hornet's nest?  Why would you want to poke a hornet's nest?" 

I told her I'd come take a look, but she said no, she was going to call the ac company.  She said she had checked the circuit breakers and they were fine.  She said it could wait until morning.  After I cleaned up the kitchen, I called her back to tell her I was coming over, but she said the ac guy was already on his way.  I said o.k. Call me when he's done.  She called in ten minutes.  It was the breaker.  Sure it was.  She said the guy didn't charge her anything.  I have gotten her to use the same company I have and to get the warrantee.  It was covered, even on a night call.  Finally something works right.  

Still, I have a mother who would poke a hornet's nest.  That might tell you something.  You know, another little piece of the puzzle.  

I will go about trying to find solutions to my flash/camera problem today.  That means mucking about in the garage sorting through all the things I stored from the studio over five years ago.  I used to have a connector I need, but I haven't a clue where it might be.  If I find it, I can run some tests with the strobe and camera.  I will have to unpack the strobes and stands and flash rings and reflectors.  It is daunting.  I don't even remember the camera settings I was using back then.  

While I am at it, I will start planning for The Future of My Photography.  There are only two types of photography that interest me, that rooted in aesthetics and that rooted in documenting, polar opposites in most ways.  I DO have an idea about combining the two, but it is very complicated.  I would need an assistant, and since I am the lazy sort. . . who knows? 

Right now, I feel the pressure to perform a little magic to show the people at One Instant, and I'm suffering from a little performance anxiety.  A lot, really.  

But maybe it will be a break from the constant hum of my existence.  A little modulation might be nice.  


Monday, October 26, 2020

The Hum

 

Jesus.  I ate part of a gummy last night.  I don't know why I do it.  I just needed the edge taken off a bit, and since I'm not drinking, there were few options.  But the edge needed smoothing.  For some reason, sitting in my underwear on a cushion alone in my house meditating just isn't appealing to me the way it should.  I've lost all purity, I guess.  I've even lost corruption.  All I have is weeding and Kombucha.  Some nights, it feels like my nerves are being pulled across a cheese grater.  

But my days alone may be coming to an end.  The other day, I got this email.  

I got excited and sent this around to many of my friends.  They, like I, took it as a joke.  She wants to make the sexy time, they said.  Are you sure she has "the vagine"?  They urged me to respond.  

Boy were they wrong!  The email is legit.  After I wrote her back, she sent me a more detailed description of her and her life, and she sent me a number of photographs.  She is beautiful!  And she is going to come visit me in the United States.  I've sent the money for the plane ticket.  For some reason that I don't understand, it had to be purchased in Russia.  And boy. . . airline tickets from Russia are EXPENSIVE!  I couldn't believe how much.  But she said that if she gets to stay in the U.S. and A. she will get a job and pay me back.  She said she would let me know when she will get here when she is able to purchase the ticket.  There is a LOT of red tape to go through, she says.  It isn't easy.  I will have to be patient, but boy is it hard.  I can't wait until she gets here.  

This is how the world is for me right now.  A big event is running into a friend at the grocery store as I did last night.  As we stood in the parking lot talking, he pulled out one of those thermometers you point at someone's forehead and took his temperature.  He said he had been bothered by allergies and in the Time of Covid wanted to make sure he wasn't running a fever.  He pointed it at me.  Nothing.  He fiddled with it and pointed it again.  Nothing.  He pointed it at himself.  97.8.  He pointed it at me again.  Nothing.  People in the parking lot were watching like I had done something wrong.  I looked around and did the schlemiel shrug.  He fiddled with the thermometer and took his temperature.  Slightly higher.  He pointed it at me.  Nothing.  I said, "Give me that," and pointed it at myself.  Nope.  Nothing.  

Apparently, I no longer exist.  I have felt that way for months, but now it is confirmed.  

Twice yesterday, I pulled out into traffic in front of cars I didn't see coming.  Twice!!  Should I not be driving?  I am blaming it on isolation, of not having enough visual stimulation.  One of my friends got confused on the gas and brake and ran into a pole in parking lot, not once, but twice.  Jesus.  A generation of aging drug addicts is a dangerous thing.  

I got up late and still buzzy, so this is silly and mercifully brief.  I have a day of exciting things ahead of me--exercising, weeding, planting. . . etc.  What's that fucking buzzing?  Do you hear it?  That hum?  

Oh, yea.  That's my life.  

Sunday, October 25, 2020

In A Time of Quiet and Longing

 


Weeding has lost some of its luster.  I know, you would think that some endeavors would just keep adding value to life, and maybe it is just me, but somehow, I don't look forward to it as I originally did.  I have weeded half the yard.  I think.  It is hard to tell as it is not contiguous.  The next couple of days could be real torture.  

But I have kept the routine I began a week ago.  No booze, sleepless nights, early rising, coffee which somehow I seem to fuck up every morning now (this morning I set the grind for 4 cups for the 8 cups of water), a workout, some weeding, some planting, as shower, a late lunch, perhaps a trip to the coffee shop for some writing, mother's, dinner alone, answering emails, some reading or guitar playing, then a little t.v.  For whatever reason, now that I cannot sleep at night, I do not need naps.  I think it was the wine with lunch that was putting me to bed.  I loved those wine-inspired naps.  

One side of the property is looking much better now, the side with the deck where I sit in good weather to eat and drink and smoke and wave to the neighbors walking by.  I cut some stray branches from the Crape Myrtle that I had just ignored too long in my Separation/Covid funk, and that opened up the whole vista again.  I have potted two mother in law plants in pots that held the long dead corpses of the previous residents, and I have more pots and plants waiting today.  It makes me feel good.  I've even been doing some yard work for my mother.  I'm a Jim Dandy good son, I say.  

Do any of you use CBD oil?  People make so many claims about it.  Ili had some and I replenished it once.  I take it sometimes before bed in the hopes that it will do any of the things it promises, especially help me sleep.  I haven't had any since I quit drinking and I thought that maybe many of my aches and pains and restlessness at night might be the result of not taking it, so I went looking for some in town.  The drugstore, curiously, didn't carry it.  They have all sorts of quack shit, from herbal male "enhancers" to fifty types of melatonin.  Indeed, half a row of supplements and over the counter drugs were sleep aids.  There is something wrong in American when so many people have so much trouble sleeping.  But I didn't want melatonin which will only help you for a night or two (experience), nor did I want any of the Somminex-style sleep enhancers.  So I asked Siri to find a CBD store near me.  She sent me to the Kratom shop near my house.  Ili took me there once years ago and bought me Kratom tea.  After drinking it, I was surprised to learn I could levitate.  It is some crazy shit.  They had several brands of sublingual CBD oil.  I bought the one on sale.  It is very expensive.  And, of course, the shop only accepted cash. 

I took it before bed, but I still didn't sleep.  But that is another story. 

After dinner, and after emails and texts, and after a phone call from my African buddy from the factory that lasted an hour, I sat down to watch "On the Rocks."  I had to sign up for Apple TV with a promised one week free trial that I can cancel until Halloween.  We'll see how that works.  

Now what I wanted to do was pour a scotch and sit on the big leather couch with the lights dimmed and start the movie.  Rather, I poured a big glass of Kombucha and hit play.  

I have been anticipating this movie greatly.  Every Murray/Coppola fan has.  And the movie started with great promise.  Coppola was channeling her inner Woody Allen in this one, filming in the iconic locations of New York.  It was often visually stunning.  The exposition was slow and sometimes seemed a bit incongruous, and I had to wait for what seemed too long for Murray to appear on screen.  And when Murray is in the scene, the movie really shines.  Coppola knows how to do Bill Murray.  She did it in "Lost in Translation," and she did it in "A Very Murray Christmas."  In this movie, she does it again.  Murray's character is pure id in this film, unadulterated pleasure principle and desire attracted to beauty and extravagance.  I was asked yesterday why women are attracted to such men when they should know better, and I can only think of one answer--because they know what they want.  Most people, as my dead ex-friend Brando used to say, don't.  They can't make up their minds, and when they don't have to, when someone else is unequivocal, it is easy and fun. 

When Murray is not onscreen, however, the film is a sleeper.  It is Woody Allen without the wit.  At the movie's end, I could not remember a single line of dialog between Rashida Jones and Marlon Wayans.  It was just bland, page filling blather.  Jenny Slate is the only other interesting character in the film, her self-involved monologues an echo chamber of all the pop psyche, self help, life coach/counselor pseudo-empathic prattle one might hear on a daytime talk show.  I mean, truly, it was delicious.  I wish the character had played a more essential part in the film.  I'm still trying to figure out her function as she adds nothing to the plot.  Still, I'm glad she was there as she was one of the most enjoyable parts of the movie.  

I had read many glowing reviews of the film before I watched it, and I, like those reviewers, was pulling for the it.  I was giving it every chance.  I wanted it to be great, wanted another Coppola/Murray classic.  About three quarters of the way through, however, the movie just began to fade away.  There is a plot turn that takes the movie to Mexico, but there is no payoff there.  And from that point on, the film is just another Goldie Hawn/Meg Ryan 80's/90s romantic comedy.  Or worse.  The mawkish denouement might have been written by a high school playwright.  And if you haven't watched it yet, I am going to give away the ending that if you hadn't figured out at the first mention of the "little red box," you haven't much experience as a reader.  

I may watch the movie again, at least the first there quarters of it, just so I can look at upscale Manhattan.  God knows when or if the world will ever be like that once more.  I want to go have drinks in oak lined bars.  I want to listen to the piano at Bemelmans'.  I want to walk streets full of interesting people and duck into fabulous bookstores and art galleries.  

Rather, I am going to keep my distance from people and spend some more time pulling those pesky weeds from my lawn.  Such is life in the Time of Covid.  All I now is quiet and longing.  

Saturday, October 24, 2020

More than One Question, Myriad Answers

  

The day has not started well.  When I went to put the milk in the coffee, it came out in chunks.  I had to resort to a two year old container of non-dairy creamer that was hardened.  Thank god those chemicals never go bad.  They have a half life of 40,000 years, or so it seems.  That was after a third night of not sleeping.  It is getting worse.  Last night I woke at 11:30.  Then 12:30.  Etc.  Up and down all night long.  Maybe I should blame it on the Borat movie.  I watched it last night.  I've decided that Cohen's entrapments are no longer funny.  Fifteen years ago, they were shocking, but now I find it shocking that he continues.  If there were a fair mix, if he were entrapping BLM or liberal dems, it would seem more legit, I think.  But to imply that only conservatives are stupid and corrupt seems unbalanced.  How funny would it be to see him get over on Biden or MLK Jr.?  I'll bet his audience would be outraged.  Going into someone's house and shitting on their dining room table is neither comedy nor political satire.  In the end, I thought the movie was a comment on Cohen himself.  

O.K.  I laughed at a lot of it, but I was alone in my own house.  I'm not perfect.  I'll admit, too, that the non-dairy creamer wasn't that bad, either.  

The sleep thing, though, is wrecking me.  I haven't had a drink in a week, nor have I had a good night's sleep.  I like drinking.  It is a good way to end the day, I think.  But many of my friends have stopped and I decided I didn't wish to be the first one to die because I drank.  I don't want to be the last one, either, but I sure don't want to be the first.  I miss, however, uncorking the bottle of wine to begin the dinner prep.  I miss a lot of other things, too, like laughing and hugging and sharing the chores, especially the after meal cleanup.  Yes, there is much I miss, but it is all more palatable with wine and after dinner whiskey.  

My expanding waistline, however, was a concern and an indication.  And I do feel better during the day, but as I often quote, the night's another thing.  

As I feared, yesterday was not as much fun as the day before.  I followed the same routine.  I went out for some exercise, then worked for three hours picking weeds.  That is what I thought.  The lying clock said it was only half an hour, but it seemed more like three.  I showered and made a healthy lunch and almost sat down to the computer but saved myself just in time.  After lunch, I went to a nursery and bought weed killer and new plants to pot where the old ones have died.  And I got some wildflower seeds, three different types, and put them 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep into the ground all around the small garden.  Perhaps I will have a something growing there in a couple of months.  

I went to the grocery store, having decided not to get a takeout meal this Friday night, and while I was there, I went to the pharmacy and got a Shinglex shot.  I had chickenpox as a kid, and I've known several people who have suffered with shingles, and I've been meaning to do this for awhile.  After I got the shot, though, I felt tingly and tired.  Perhaps it was the shock of having to pay $160 for it, I don't know, but when I got home, after putting away the groceries, I collapsed into a chair and closed my eyes for half an hour.  

What strange images were projected on those shuttered lids.  My mind seems a Curiosity Cabinet of late.  It entertains and enlightens me with the weirdest of things.  I've tried hard to become a learned man.  Is this the inevitable result? 

I bought some things for my mother at the nursery and delivered them at my usual hour.  By the time I got home, it was Friday night.  I tried to psyche myself up with a Kombucha, but there was really no luster to it.  Spaghetti and broccoli and the news, almost.  Other than the BBC, the news outlets have begun to treat us like idiots who can't remember how or what they opined about the evening before.  I took in a couple minutes of it, then turned it off.  

After dinner, it was time to check the day's inbox.  Surprisingly slim.  Without my constant input, the chatter is much reduced.  

After I finish this and a few missives, I am going back to the existential world.  I still have lots of yard to weed and now plants to pot.  As the Covid World gets ready to isolate again, in a world without people, I have been thinking of setting up a photo space for objects, a small studio for entities both strange and familiar.  I ask myself over and over, "Why?  What's the point of it?"  I don't have a good answer.  Photography in almost every form other than the selfie is being villainized.  Such attitudes compel me to make dangerous photographs, you know, for the crowd is always vicious and wrong, and it is important to travel in the opposite direction.  But it is literally (not virtually) impossible at present.  So. . . what is the point of making a studio for picturing objects?  

I don't know.  I really don't.  Maybe it is just that I have spent all this time and money and have all the equipment and fell the need to do something with it.  Or maybe I think I will figure something out about the inanimate world.  

I will end today with one question that you only need to answer to yourself.  Given that today's photograph is a pretty poor one and not worthy of attention--given that there are no guiding vectors and that the composition is a random mess, poorly cropped and themeless--after eye-scanning the picture, what becomes the center of your attention?  Why?  Is your final answer intellectual or visceral?  Is this a product of the photographer's intent or a reflection of your own imagination.  

Oops.  That is more than one question.  I guess I got carried away. 

O.K.  The birds are chirping and the band is playing.  It is time to go get visceral once again.  

Friday, October 23, 2020

Literally Productive


Yesterday was the best day I have had in a very long time.  I owe it all--at least I think I do--to "disconnecting."  I've decided to check my phone and/or computer twice a day for messages and not to go near the computer if not for a specific task.  It was liberating.  It was great.  Since Covid, my computer has been (or so I believed) my only connection to the outside world, and I've come to spend more time on it than I would have ever believed.  I was responding to texts as they came in as if world markets depended upon my answer.  I was finding significance in the small things I would cut and past from the internet.  I would eat lunch while surfing photo sites.  It had become a great source of distraction and increasing irritation.  

Done.  The cable is cut.  I was happier yesterday than I have been in months and a hyperbolic amount more productive.  I won't go into the boring details of the day, though I know good writing lies in the details, but after working for myself, I went over and did some manual labor for my mother.  As when I repaired her dryer, I felt my manhood increase.  

That may not be a great statement when referencing your mother.  

I plan to stay "unplugged."  So if you message me, know that I will answer you sometime before bed.  My world is slower but better.  The virtual company I keep is good, but it is less fulfilling than a real life.  

I watched the debate last night.  It was better last time when they talked over one another.  Last night's debate had the stench of death.  It was like watching a group of eighty year olds play dodgeball.  As odd as it is, you can't stick around for the entire game.  I couldn't.  After a bit, I turned it off.  It was just another wasting of my life.  Every answer was pre-recorded.  All punch lines were scripted and delivered with the freshness of a Little Debbie cake.  You knew the answers before you heard the questions.  Watching was neither informative nor entertaining.  

I am focussed on other things now.  I am tending the garden, so to speak, figuratively and literally.  The grass has ceased to grow.  This has not been determined by the temperature, which is well above normal, but by the angle and duration of sunlight.  Plants have brains, of a sort.  It is nothing short of fascinating.  But while the grass stopped growing, the weeds have not, meaning their tiny little plant brains haven't figured out that it is easier for me to spot and pull them which I did for part of the day.  I only got a small section of the lawn done, but that was a feel good accomplishment.  I'll give myself a number of weeks to get around to the entire lawn.  No worries.  I don't want to burn out.  All of the potted plants that have died due to my inattention are being replaced.  I have let too much go so that my house has begun to look a bit like the Addams Family has settled in.  I've taken stock, however.  I have a plan.  

I've decided to hire someone to do the house repairs that I had hallucinated I would do when I retired.  I don't want to do them which doesn't really matter because in truth, I can't.  I've decided not to go to carpentry school this late in life.  I am going to stick with what I can do, which is very little and of small if any value, but many of those useless things I do fairly well and they make me happy-ish which is much preferable to self-imposed misery.  I mean, anyone can pot a plant and watch it die, but not everyone can wax prosaic about the metaphoricity of the act over drinks in a way that gets the table laughing.  

Who doesn't enjoy a good tale about someone else's failings?  

It is Friday which for the past few weeks has been the day for evening takeout.  It was something to look forward to, but I think I will decide to eschew takeout tonight.  Rather, I'll just make something simple and fun.  I will make it movie night.  Both "On the Rocks" and the new Borat movie will be available.  That is a wealth of riches on a lone Friday night.  I would prefer to watch "On the Rocks," but by tomorrow everyone will be talking about the Borat movie, especially the Giuliani expose.  I'm not sure how I'll feel about that yet, not until I watch it, but I am a little dubious.  It is too easy.  Put me in an elevator with a pretty woman who flirts with me and god knows what might happen.  I'm not saying it is right or wrong. . . I'm just saying.  

I'll probably save "On the Rocks" for later.  It is a good one to anticipate.  

Q called me last night on his drive into the city.  I answered since I was in my time of responding to messages I had gotten throughout the day.  We talked about the Giuliani piece and I mentioned that I thought the Ron Paul segment of the original Borat was the best part.  Watching Paul run down the hallway in his arthritic gait screaming, "He's a queer, he's a queer," was priceless.  Q commented it was funny to him that so many old, ugly heterosexual men believe gay guys are attracted to them.  He said that straight men seem to have a problem understanding consent until it involves a gay man.  Funny that, and true.  

"Hey buddy, that's my butthole.  Mine.  Get it?  I'll decide, not you."  

Suddenly "no" doesn't mean "yes," and "yes" doesn't mean anal.  

I'm glad I've always been shy. 

Well, I'm running out of internet time for the day.  I'm going out into the analog world and try my hand at living.  I don't expect it to be as much fun as it was yesterday, but that is the nature of things, isn't it?  As Bad Santa so profoundly remarked, "They can't all be winners now, can they?"  

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Sucker Punched (Or So It Seems)

  

I am up very early.  I didn't sleep much at all last night.  I was discouraged yesterday, felt the slings and arrows of personal snubs far too deeply.  At least that is how I feel this morning.  Last night, I felt much more outrage.  I poured it out onto the page that I thought I would publish this morning.  Thank goodness I wasn't drinking.  The writing was full of self-pitying vitriol.  I'm done with that now.  Even the disappointment I felt is beginning to fade.  But it sure made for a restless night.  

The upshot of it all, the overarching feeling that lingers, is that I want to practice silence.  I don't want to communicate with anyone now, not through writing, not through images.  My shrunken Covid world is about to shrink further to the boundaries of my own yard.  I'm putting up the barbed wire and getting attack dogs.  I want to stay in my room.  The goofiness has been sucker punched out of me.  I'm done for awhile.  

For the rest of the period, you may talk amongst yourselves.  

Thank you.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

In the Blue Gray Stillness

  

And still. . . I haven't used my camera.  It has been weeks.  I did buy guitar strings and have restrung my guitar, and I have gotten out all sorts of old recording gear with ideas of grandeur.  But my guitar playing has been painfully lousy (I've lost the callouses on my fingers), and the recording equipment will not work with the new computers.  Indeed, after Apple's last upgrade of my OS systems, I can no longer print on the old Epson printers, including the large one that makes all my huge prints.  I am going to have to buy an older computer to run the older operating system and then get another copy of Adobe so that I can print.  There is collusion between Epson and Apple, I think, in order to sell new equipment.  Epson doesn't want to support their old printer software with updates.  Nikon has long ago quit supporting their scanners.  There is no customer loyalty.  Remember--Apple was sued for slowing down their older phones through software "upgrades."  

People are regulated more than industries.  But citizens are stupid and business people are smart, and wherever there is big money, there is corruption.  Just look at the medical industry in America.  It is like some hideous Russian oligarchy.  Do you really think that with that much money on the table, anyone is not going to be bought?  Ralph Nader died years ago.  

It is exasperating.  I am beginning to realize why old people give up.  Around the globe, those who live the longest are the ones least connected to industry and technology.  How we pity those poor primitives with their slow internet and their slow lives.  Meanwhile, every few days, CNN or The NY Times publish articles on Wellness: advice on how to eat better, sleep better, exercise better, on how to create better relationships and how to meditate.  

In a fucked up world, people are searching for Life Coaches.  

I've been watching more of those hillbilly interviews I posted a few days back.  Those violent drug addicts who have nothing say they've had a "good life."  I know hillbilly.  All they ever need is "good enough."  

All most of us ever need is "more."  

I woke early to rain.  The world outside my door is drizzly and blue-gray.  The landscape owns an attractive sheen.  The normal rain here is driving, but this is like a Pacific Coast rain, soft and gentle.  It reminds me of something that will not come to mind, perhaps my first trip to the Adirondacks and the Catskills with my buddy while I was in college, a place that seemed Middle Earthy to me then, nothing like my harsh southern cracker environment, but maybe I am remembering my early childhood in Ohio.  Emotionally, I linger.  

Such is Covid Time.  Harsh realities and protracted memories wrestle for prominence.  My nights are full of these battles.  Last night, in my waking sleep, I remembered the harshest times with Ili and then all the things I have let go since then.  The plants have all died.  I still haven't gotten rid of the small things she left behind.  There are towels exactly where she folded and lay them, baskets as she arranged them, baking products I will never use filling cabinets.  Her chest of drawers stands empty.  There is so much around the house, inside and out, that needs to be done.  I am overwhelmed and wooden.  Almost anything I listen to or watch brings a sudden deluge of convulsive sadness.   I have hoped that a new diet and the avoidance of alcohol will bring on a new mental state.  So far. . . not so much.  The call of the past is too strong when there is so little stimulus in the future.  One dullish day gives way to the next.  There are solitary walks and bike rides and the afternoon trips to my mother's.  On Fridays, I get take out.  There are hellos or two minute conversations at a distance with neighbors.  But the darkness is coming as is the second wave of sickness, and of course there is the election, a contest between people that nobody wants. It is difficult to believe that life will ever return to what we once considered normal.  

I don't think I will re-read what I have written.  I would just erase it and have to start anew, but I haven't anything to put down in its place.  It will have to be what it is today as I melt into the blue gray day.  

* * * * *

I just got up to feed the cats, and while I was outside, the question occurred to me--would I ever be naive enough again to enjoy a Tom Robbins novel?

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Best Keep Your Pecker in Your Pants

  


Oh, Jeffery, what were you thinking?  How could you do it?  And. . . why did anyone feel the need to tell? I mean, it was just a penis.  Sure, he touched it, but guys are always touching their penises, especially at home.  And besides, who wears pants to a Zoom meeting anyway?  

I am saddened.  Toobin was one of the smartest analysts on television.  His career is over unless he gets some roles in porn.  He'll be stripped of his credentials.  He won't make money as an attorney nor analyst. Maybe he can get one book out of this.  I've been told he is worth ten million dollars.  Most of that will surely go to his wife and kids.  He won't be able to dine in his usual restaurants.  What is left for a man who shows his penis to his colleagues?

Many women have asked me after this terrible incident, "What is wrong with men?"  I tell them there are just too many rules.  But in truth, technology has been their downfall.  Ben Franklin could deny anything.  But Anthony Weiner used texting like it would just disappear.  Everything is recorded now.  Everything is permanent.  

Even an angry God is said to forgive you of your sins.  But we are only human.  

The good news is that QAnon is not so dangerous as we thought.  See. . . they are an anti-pedophilia group.  They are only against The Church, Hollywood, and most democrats.  Someone needs to protect the children.  Why not QAnon?  Those are some people you can really trust.  

I watch "The Circus" on Showtime.  If you haven't seen it, it has insightful coverage of the election.  It began in 2016 when we thought things couldn't get any weirder.  They did.  I watched this weeks installment last night.  You should watch it, too.  

link

It's o.k. to watch.  They got rid of their sex offender, Mark Halperin, years ago.  What I really want you to pay attention to, though, are the militia who are interviewed.  They are some spooky sonofabitches.  Do you think you could reason with them?  Fuck no.  These are some of the dumbest people on the planet, but they think they are smart.  Without a high school diploma, they know more than the scientists and other great minds of our time.  Watch them on the steps of the Michigan State House, their hurky-jerky movements all nerve and muscle like schooling sharks when they smell blood.  I grew up around these guys.  I've seen them in action.  They are like retarded pit bulls after a small dog.  

They are the future.  

I propose that we should lock them all up before they reproduce, but that is just me.  You can't stop QAnon, though.  It has no location, no place.  It simply lives in the hearts and minds of the ignorant and willfully ignorant everywhere.  

I'm sorry to be an elitist, but, you know, I don't question them about things like how to bulldoze a forest or pick up a cow.  They got that shit.  But in the court of logic, yea.  I will look them straight in their beady little eyes.  

However, we all know brute force beats logic every time.  Besides, where truly does logic reside in the universe?  Trump beats Covid after a day and a half and Jeff Bridges has lymphoma.  

I'll bet you one thing, though--with odds:  there are no fewer pedophiles among QAnon apostles than there is in Hollywood or The Church.  Any takers?  

Be afraid, people.  Be very, very afraid.  

I ended my fast after forty hours.  I felt I could go on for another few days, but I did a fairly strenuous workout and decided that my body would like a little food.  Just a bit.  Then last night, for the first time, I made a brown jasmine rice/green lentil dish.  My god, it was great.  I cooked up some pork cubes to add a little flavor, and added sautéed onions and baby spinach.  This will become a staple in my dinner repertoire.  I'll soon be as healthy as a sherpa.  

I have not been able to get the new Kathleen Edwards song out of my head for about a month now, it seems.  It is playing there constantly.  That and the David Letterman video I posted a few days ago.  So I went back and listened to all her albums.  Almost every song is about a sad or bad relationship.  The female is always wonderfully and beautifully or savagely in love.  The male is always a fuck up.  And the songs ring true.  I tend to reverse the roles, of course.  You can do that.  But given the way the songs are written, I feel she is my kind of feminist in the Alice Munro or Dorris Lessing school of feminism.  My academic feminist friends would tear me up on this one.  Of that I am sure.  But holy smokes, the longing for love in a fallen world, as stupid as it is, is sometimes too overwhelming to fight.  Often we feel the need of an emotional rescue.  In the main, we allow ourselves to be fooled by the false promise, though, and that is the theme that underlies most of her songs.  

So yea.  I can't get them out of my head.  


“Love is heavy and light, bright and dark, hot and cold, sick and healthy, asleep and awake- its everything except what it is! (Act 1, scene 1).” 

"This love that thou hast shown
Doth add more grief to too much of mine own.
Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs;
Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes;
Being vexed, a sea nourished with loving tears.
What is it else? A madness most discreet,
A choking gall, and a preserving sweet (Act 1, Scene 1).

Two perfect lovers, Romeo and Juliet, but not even perfect love can save you.  What then?  What have we to fall back on?

I don't know, but I'm sure as shitting going to keep my pecker in my pants on all future Zoom calls.  

Monday, October 19, 2020

Purity Is for the Pure

 


I'm in my 37th hour of fasting.  I will probably break it after the 38th, though once you get this far, you feel as if you could go on forever.  Last night I wanted to eat.  It was mostly through habit and boredom though there was probably a drop in blood sugar levels, too.  This morning, that has probably stabilized.  I once fasted for three days, and as the toxins were released from my fat cells, I started to hallucinate.  Not the trippy kind where you hear colors or see trails, just subtle shifts in time and distance sort of like getting stoned.  I could reach that distance now, I feel, but I have another plan.  Still, it feels as if I should consider it as the first day is the hardest and it seems a shame to waste the effort.  In the Time of Covid, with nothing pressing me that needs doing, I feel I could go on forever.  

If you are anything like me, reading this will piss you off, make you resentful.  I hate reading about people's spiritual or bodily journeys.  I don't enjoy (nor truly trust) non-drinkers.  Vegans put me in mind of lepers, something to pity.  Holy men and their vows of (you pick) remind me of cripples.  Holiness, I figure, comes not through abstention but through a vital embracing of life.  I only enjoy Catholicism because it is so corrupt.  

So don't take my fasting as anything of the sort.  This is a necessity.  I am trying to recalibrate my health.  And as I've said, nobody has ever died of starvation.  Wait.  That is not what I said.  I'm getting a little goofy.  Maybe I should eat.  

In grad school, I took a particular liking of John Falstaff.  A jolly man in a fallen world, his Rabelasian approach to life had a peculiar charm.  Now, however, I focus more on his depiction in the plays after Hal becomes Henry.  The disappointment and bitterness that blankets him make him seem petty.  

I've never had any attraction to Hal/Henry, however.  None whatsoever.  I do prefer the jolly glutton to the high-hatted idealist.  

All my life, I've been attracted to colorful characters.  It has probably been my greatest flaw.  I should have idolized greater minds and purer men, but goddamnit, I've always loved the man with a hangover who came out and played his greatest game.  

I have to question that choice when I see Joe Namath hawking life insurance or whatever on the Old Folks Network.  Perhaps it could have worked out better for him some other way.  

But people get old and only wisdom can save them.  Look at Dr. Fauci.  Seventy-nine years old and a hero to all but QAnon.  Last night, I watched his interview on 60 Minutes.  He was eating raviolis and sausage and drinking a big glass of wine, and I thought, "There may be a little Falstaff in him."  Just a little, though.  Brando was like Falstaff, and I watched his pathetic decline.  Perhaps just flirting with Rabelais is enough.  

I read an article in the Times about Bruce Springsteen this morning.  Broadway play, new album.  Jesus.  I listened to the songs.  They were terrible.  There is a form of mawkishness that is like a disease among old rockers, I think.  No matter how much they talk about being present, they cannot let go of the past.  There is something terrible about being 65teen.  

Wait!  What?  What am I saying?  What have I been writing?  All I want to do is go back and redo everything.  Is that wrong?  Am I a mawkish idiot trapped in my own failures and oversights?  

Ha!  It can't be so.  I am a man who eschews food for days on end.  I am purer than thou.  Cast your gaze upon me with envy.    

Perhaps I have a ways to go before I achieve clarity.  

Sunday, October 18, 2020

PMA

 


What terrors grip you in the night?  We all have our demons, right?  Doubts?  Regrets?  Paranoid fears?  What do you do to quell the horror?  

O.K.  I'm being melodramatic for effect.  But I have had more bad dreams in the last few months than I have had in the previous. . . oh, I don't know. . . ever?  When I wake in the night, I can't escape the thing I've been dreaming.  The atmosphere blankets me in the dark.  Sometimes getting up, drinking water, passing water, and getting back into bed helps, but not always, and less and less as the months have passed.  It is Covid dreaming, they say.  It is a new phenomenon.  

Someone is going to make a buck.  

I would imagine that older people are haunted more.  What does a young kid fear?  Spooky monsters?  Those, as I remember, were almost fun.  The dreams of old men are rooted in some past reality or some future certainty.  They are not the wild chasing and escape dreams of youth.  Oh, god, for a few of those again.  No, they are commonplace horrors so real you can taste them.  

Perhaps it is no wonder I would look back into some beautifully failed past.  


I try to take sweet thoughts to bed with me, of course.  I don't lie down with thoughts of failure and doom. But somewhere in the night, I hear a voice like this.  

Not really.  What disturbs my sleep is much more quotidian and mundane.  Mundane horrors are more terrifying and real than the drama of our lives.  Drama fades.  The inevitable commonplace stays with us.  

Or so it seems to me. 

My dead ex-friend Brando used to say that the interstate was only a few miles away.  He meant that when things get bad, you can always leave.  He did.  After he cheated my friends and me and stole from his own girl, when everything finally got really bad, he moved to Greece.  That is where he died.  I don't plan on moving to Greece and dying--not now, anyway--but there are things I can change.  I should quit drinking, of course.  I could change my entire diet.  I will fast today, and maybe tomorrow, too.  I've thought of eating only lentils and brown jasmine rice every other day. The rest of the time, I can eat normally (whatever that means).  Starvation has never hurt anyone.  Skinny people live much longer.  Q wrote to tell me of his incredible weight loss.  It was either that or he lost his small dog, I can't really tell.  The poundage seems about the same either way.  His communiques are always obscure and incomplete.  I must forget on Tuesday what he told me on Monday.  It is his way.  

The world has changed, and not for the better.  I will attempt to counteract that in my own paltry way.  PMA, the hippies used to say--Positive Mental Attitude.  

If only.  

Saturday, October 17, 2020

From Brighton Beach to the Hollers

  

Yesterday was unusually busy for a Covid lockdown retiree.  I had to read the Trumpian news and write my piece, of course, then straighten the house and wash the sheets for the arrival of the Wrecking Crew.  I hurried to the gym in order to get back in time to shower and head off to my beauty appointment.  I just had time to stop at Sprouts and have a delicious turkey wrap made and pressed and cut for me which I ate in the parking lot in my car.  

I made it to the beauty salon just on time; thus began the half-day ordeal.  

It was like Brighton Beach.  The salon is co-owned by my beautician and her family and some other Russians.  Everyone in the salon, both employees and customers, were Russian.  There was a new Russian girl there, a beautiful blonde Russian stereotype with a blank, perhaps ruthless stare.  When she gazed my way for a brief moment, however, I could feel her resolve waiver.  What chance does a beautiful Russian woman have in conquering a shy American boy?  I was certain she was experiencing emotions that were hitherto unknown.  I could see confusion creep into her gorgeous blue eyes.  

My beautician wanted me to lean my head back into the sink, but I said, "Uh-uh. . . wait a minute."  She knows me and said, "Oh.  I know what you are looking at?  Do you have money?"  I looked over at her and grinned.  "Yea."  

The beautiful blonde was new to America.  She was working in the salon as an "eyelash technician."  This was a new profession to me.  I didn't know there were people who worked on your eyelashes for a living.  I was wondering just then about my own.  

My beautician loves me in that peculiar Russian way, but at a discount.  She doesn't charge me what she charges others.  We've been together over twenty years, I think, and we know much about one another's lives.  She worries about my being alone without a girl of my own.  Thusly. . . . 

"Katya.  I want you to meet my friend.  He's a photographer."  

My balls drew up. 

"Hello," she said.  

"Hi."  

My beautician said something else, and I think I mumbled or grunted.  

And that was it.  

When the Russian doll had walked away, I looked up and said, "I think that went well."  We both laughed. When the Russian left, she said, "Goodbye, it was nice to meet you."  I watched her through the plate glass window get into a brand new Lexus SUV.  

"She's shy," my beautician said.  "She hasn't been here long and she doesn't know much English."  

"She does alright for an eyelash attendant.  She drives a new Lexus."  

"A guy bought that for her." 

"What guy?  Fuck it.  I don't any money."

"Russian women want things.  But she is a beautiful woman inside and out.  You have good taste."  

"Yea. . . it's really working out for me."  

Hours later, I was even blonder than before.  "I'm going to look like Dawg the Bounty Hunter soon," I giggled.  I may be riding a fast train in the wrong direction, I thought, but I really didn't have anyplace I had to go.  

After the beauty shop, I stopped by mother's for what they call "a spell."  I hadn't been over in days.  My cousin had had enough of Florida and headed back home early, so my in state cousin with whom she was staying called my mother and dished on her.  Oh, she has so many anger issues, she told my mother.  She wants to get a trailer and move here, just leave her husband, she reported.  

"She wants me to find her a sugar daddy."  

Oh, stories of the riotous ways of my mother's hillbilly relatives bring me great joy.  Just when I think my life has gone into the shitter, reports from the farm give me a little boost.  I don't know why, though.  Through hook and crook, they always seem to do better than I.  Other people's lives are always a mystery to me.  

"Ma. . . I think I'm going to get takeout Thai.  Yup.  That sounds good.  I'm going to pick up Thai and go home to a clean house.  It's been quite a day." 

It was a good choice.  The spring rolls and coconut soup and yellow curry with chicken really hit the spot. Just after the last bite, sitting on the couch before the t.v news, I fell dead asleep.  My body was tingling with some unnatural fatigue.  I stayed upright against the cushions.  I knew I was sleeping, but I couldn't move.  I was like that for hours.  

When I woke up, I did the easy cleanup of throwing everything into the garbage.  The kitchen remained spotless.  I called my mother to give her the report.  I was having trouble waking up, but it was only 8:30, too early for bed unless I wanted to heavily sedate myself for the night.  I sat back in front of the television.  I didn't have the energy to watch a movie, so I turned to YouTube.  And lo and behold, after a couple brief pieces of camera porn. . . .


Then this.


Turns out, there is a series of them.  I was back in the hillbilly hollers of my youth.  Hillbilly truth.  I have been running hard and long, but there are some things you just can't shake.  

A little drunk and very sleepy, I went to the computer and sent links around to many of my friends.  I do that kind of shit sometimes.  By then, it was eleven, later than I had thought to stay up.  It had been a long day, as I said, for a lockdown retiree.  I went to bed wondering why I wasn't the one making those interviews.  

Not really.  I was thinking about the blonde.  

Friday, October 16, 2020

Morose

  

I've reached the end of the letters, read them to the inevitable conclusion which ended the summer before we began high school, just over a year and a half.  Not bad for puppy love.  But unable to see one another but for the occasional visit monitored by parents, the denouement was inevitable.  I had to read the whole arc of it.  Now they are scanned into digital perpetuity.  

It is embarrassing, of course, this reuniting of two lovers, one dead, the other old and infatuated.  

I don't think I'll be able to bring her back.  

But the letters have dredged up all sorts of memories that I have buried and almost forgotten.  Last night, I woke and could not get fully back to sleep.  My mind went through all the reasons I was so bad at writing her, at having friends.  Once I got to college, I left all of that behind.  But until then, my life was one disaster after another, it seems.  My parents fought viciously.  I didn't enjoy coming home.  I was hospitalized three times during high school.  My parents got divorced.  I moved out.  My father was in a head on car crash and hospitalized for two months.  When he got out, I became the caretaker.  My life was full of dropouts and lowlifes.  Somehow, I finished high school.  I found my grades in that box of papers.  I don't know how they decided to let me through.  

All this flooded my half-awake brain brought back to consciousness by those letters.  I didn't know how to articulate any of that back then.  I couldn't express my confused emotions.  

I don't remember anything from my classes.  What I do remember was reading.  That was my escape.  Life was better in books and movies than the profound ugliness of my own life.  The only gem was Emily.  And as much as I would like to think I was equivalent, I know that to be far from the truth.  

Next in the pile of papers in that box from the attic is a novel I began just out of college about my Jack Kerouac tour around the country.  I've just glimpsed at it.  I've never forgiven myself for not completing it, not because it was a masterpiece, but because I've lost some of the details of that journey that were still so fresh in my mind.  By that time, my life had become something desirable.  Happier times.  

But there are plenty of fuck ups to contend with.  The narrative I have constructed around my good boy angelic nature schtick contains some serious flaws.  I made a few mistakes along the way.  Colorful ones, I must say, almost picaresque.  But I am weary of thinking about these things.  Alone for these long Covid hours, they just keep dragging me down.  I have become despondent and catatonic.  I can barely move.  I've not taken a camera with me anywhere since I brought the boxes down.  I haven't worked out or gone to see my mother for three days now.  I've begun to drink too much again.  But what bright future am I to think of, I query?  What glorious thing can I look forward to?  

I'll need to move myself out of my head and into the world.  Motion is everything.  If you don't move, they'll throw dirt on you.  Move, man, move!

The photo is from the first day of the new century.  My predictions have proved to be pretty accurate.  


Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Darkness

  


It is Thursday.  I know that because the garbage truck just came by.  Yesterday was Wednesday.  I knew that because I had lunch with my ex-secretary.  Tomorrow is Friday.  I know that because the maids come and I have an appointment with my beautician.  Those are the ways I know the days of the week now.  Garbage trucks and hair appointments.  Today the a.c. people come to service the unit.  I like saying that--service the unit.  I will take all the proper precautions.  

Lunch yesterday took all afternoon.  Including driving time, it was a three hour deal. I got the scoop on what is happening at the factory.  Someday it will all fade from me and make no sense, but still it does.  Ili, too.  I have not seen her since Christmas, and only now am I beginning to not think about her all the time.  I think finding the letters in the attic helped.  Helped?  I have become a nut, sure, but days go by now where I don't think about Ili, and when I do, the thoughts aren't the sweet, longing sort I've had before.  I am beginning to remember the awful things that I have put away.  There were terrible things that I still don't want to remember.  

Night is coming soon.  If Trump were smart, he would revoke the changing of the clocks right now.  It is crazy to do this in the Time of Covid.  Studies show that trying to adapt to the hour's change stresses the body as well as the psyche.  Do we really need to be more prone to infections?  If you are not going to wear the mask, buddy, at least stop the hideous shift in time.  Polls show that overwhelmingly people oppose it.  

If he doesn't put an end to it, I will suffer a very dark winter.  

And I will not be sitting inside for the holidays with my own true love.  Rather, I will spend dark and lonely hours in lockdown as the virus rages through the nation.  There will be no romantic dinners together, no holding hands and watching movies on t.v.  There will just be the darkness and the silence and the sound of my own lonely heart. 

I've had enough trauma these past years.  I am not up for taking more.  

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Conceal to Reveal

  


Let us leave the mythopoesis of youth, love, death, and all that lies between for a day.  Just for awhile.  Let's just take an ambling walk through the fields and bramble of the vast landscape. . . no, wait. . . that is another trope for something we shall avoid.  Selah. 

I've been looking at some old files, things I've never considered, photos that have never been touched.  Much is there, and I decided to try cooking a few of them up to see if I still had the old chops.  I still have chops, but they are not the old ones.  They are good chops, nonetheless.  

Masks serve different purposes, no?  Some are used to protect us, others to hide us, and still others to call the attention of the gods.  This mask is certainly a call to trouble.  I know that in the Time of Covid, I look better with a mask.  It will be a shock when I must reveal myself fully to the public again.  As you know, this blog's a shield.  As Q used to like to say, it is my Bat Cave.  

Victorian society was heavily masked.  There were veils behind the veils.  Revelation was improprietous. Deception enacted with faces bared.  

In pictures, however, I always thought of the mask as a reveal. It allowed one to offer what might not have otherwise been expressed.  You can't imagine how a mask can put a person at ease.  Concealed, they are willing to divulge, disclose, display.  

There are many secrets in a mask.  The better truths often come from the shadows.  Secrets and truths can be terribly intertwined.  

There are secrets I will never know, but I still want to unveil the mystery.  I know how the story ends. I just want to know what happened.  

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Locked in the Arms



Trump was in Grit City tonight, but I am not sad I didn't go.  I saw the crowd on television.  The odds of getting Covid were not worth the couple of pictures I might have gotten that other photogs could have as well.  No, I was better off watching it on t.v. 

I'm sorry to say this.  I really am.  But Hillary was absolutely right.  "Those people" are truly deplorable.  If I had the energy, I would make a picture of a Neanderthal in a Trump hat.  Face it.  That is what it is.  Neanderthals and the one percenters who are making money off their votes.  I have a very clever and dear friend who is a Trumper.  He would never go to one of Trump's supporter's houses for any reason other than to sell them Amway.  But he doesn't have to.  He does better than that by far.  What matters to him is Wall Street.  As long as he and his buddies can drink expensive scotch and go to exclusive clubs, everything is fine.  They laugh about the Redneck Revolution as long as it serves them.  

I would take a flamethrower to them all.  

Speaking of Trumpers. . . well, let's not speak ill of the dead.  Still. . . Emily's parents were VERY conservative.  

 

I don't understand it.  Her parents didn't like her seeing me.  But everyone said I was a sweet boy. They thought my hair was radical.  I admit. . . I was part of a hoodlum crowd, but I was never a hoodlum myself.  Not much, anyway, beyond a certain personal hoodlumism.  I did smoke cigarettes, and I did drink, but not so much.  And I did very early some of the drugs my hoodlum friends did often.  But I was always the first one home on a crazy weekend.  I preferred my own company to the company of others.  At parties, I was always the one sitting in the outer room away from the fray.  I was mopey, I must admit, an outsider at an early age.  It wasn't a conscious decision, I think, but only that the world around me scared me.  And I never trusted the adoration any more than the scorn.  

Look at that kid.  He didn't know how to write, let alone what to write.  Emily. . . she was so profuse.  She could pen a beautiful eight page letters like a lover.  Where did it come from?  She was freer than I, wilder.  She was exploring the world without fear.  She was hellbent on gorging herself in possibilities.  She was a Juliet for Shakespeare.  She was, I am ashamed to say, much further advanced than I.  

Did it serve her well is what I want to know, or did it turn around and bite her in the ass?  See?  This is the thing, the dominant question about which I wonder.  I want to know.  How did her beautiful wildness serve her?  

She remains that wild budding flower in my memory.  But how does that story unfold.  I jump from the exposition to the denouement.  I need to know the conflict, the antagonist, the rising action of her life.  There is an arc, a curve.  I only know that she married a year or so out of High School, and divorced fifteen years later.  I know that she remained unmarried for another sixteen years, then married for another fifteen.  I romanticize the first marriage, perhaps, and villainize the second, but I have little data to go on.

There were no children.  

The arc of her life. . .  I can never know, of course, and that is what haunts me.  A person's life should be knowable if not valorized.  Like Willy Loman, a person amounts to something and must be recognized.  

I would practice alchemy if I thought it would work.  I would conjure and speak in tongues just to know.  I would change everything.  

I stayed up too late last night.  Never turned the t.v. on.  I scanned letters, worked on old photos, listened to music, drank whiskey, sent texts, and then read for a while before passing out.  It was the old mania that got me.  It is all fun until you get your eye put out.  

I dreamed all night.  

I'm going to need release soon.  I'm locked in the arms of this madness.  

I've watched this video about one hundred times now.  I can't begin to explain why.  




Monday, October 12, 2020

The Tale Poorly Told

  

Trump is coming, Trump is coming!  

And I am conflicted.  I want to go take pictures at his rally near my own hometown, but is it worth it?  I have no idea how close I would be able to get, and if I did, I don't know how likely I would be to get the virus.  Like many, I've become more skeptical about the dangers.  Everywhere I look, people are shopping, drinking, eating, and I think I am being paranoid.  Then I'll read a story about those hospitalized with the virus, and I grow paranoid all over again. I just don't know if a few pictures of the campaign is worth the risk.  And yet, there are people out there covering the campaigns.

I don't know.  I can't make up my mind.  

My cousins came to my mother's house yesterday.  They are not careful.  They go to restaurants, casinos. . . just another day to them.  My mother was not going to let them in the house, but she said she was feeling guilty.  I said I couldn't advise her on this.  In the end, she told them they could stay.  I went over for an outdoor takeout meal yesterday, and I felt the Covid virus in the air.  My chest got tight right away.  They talked loudly and laughed, and I could practically see the germy vapor hanging in the air.  

I'd probably better not go to the rally.  

But sitting alone in the house for months and months has given me cause to reflect on the meaning of life. Funny, right. . . I mean seriously, can I really make such an asinine statement as that?  Yes.  I'm not saying I figured out anything profound, but I do know that mere existence is not satisfying to me in any way.  All the mystical hippie shit I read and spouted all my life about the world within, etc. has been put to the test and found to be wanting.  Spiritual answers?  Nope.  I have concluded that I do less harm to others and to the world sitting alone in a room, but I do no good, either.  The neutrality of existence has not brought me great peace or joy.  It has brought me profound ennui and anxiety.  

My cousin asked me how I was doing.  Like everyone else, I said, knowing it wasn't true.  But the conversation lagged.  What do I have to talk about?  Something I saw on television?  A book I have recently read?  There is no real tale in such things.  Then my mother mentioned the letters I had found. She wanted me to tell the tale.  I told the facts of the thing, the cleaning of the attic, the surprise those boxes held, finding out that the girl in those letters had become a woman and died.  

What I have not been able to tell well, or maybe even at all, is the symbolism of all that, how the experience is metaphorical for something much larger and profound. I've tried and tried to write it, but I haven't been able to get my arms around it.  It still comes out as simple facts, sweet and sad, but not what I intend to say.  Maybe it is too big for me.  Perhaps I am too small.  But I'm going to have to put it away for awhile.  It has become a weight too profound to bear.  

The day is bright.  It will get hot soon.  I don't even know what time Trump is supposed to arrive.  Maybe I should just drive in that direction and see.  Or I could stay here, safely away from the possibility of danger.  

Seems to be my M.O. now. 

Avoiding, I mean.    

Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Way I Love You

  

The neighbor's cat has not been around for days.  Many days.  The poor feral cat has been forlorn.  She shows up for meals, sometimes, but without enthusiasm.  She looks about as if waiting for her lover to come.  It is obvious she is lost without him.  I try to be sweet to her but she is inconsolable.  

Last night, when I pulled into the driveway after visiting my mother, there they were, the two of them.  She was alive again, happy and animated.  I took my sushi dinner inside and came back out to feed them.  He was warm and wanted some affection, but the feral cat tried to prevent him getting near, staying between the two of us until he was close enough for me to reach out and scratch his head.  She won't get close to the hand.  

My poor mother.  It took her a couple years, I think, to be able to say Obama.  Now she is in the same bind all over.  She has never heard the name Kamala before.  She tortures the name.  Carmela is the closest she has gotten so far.  All these foreigners in American politics.  The country has gone to shit.  

I can't change her mind.  Her own son is just one of those snotty, effete, uppity people who thinks he's smart but can't even do nothing.  

I can hardly disagree. 

I read through more letters yesterday.  Emily was like the feral cat when her family moved away.  She couldn't eat, she said.  She felt sick.  She got into arguments with her parents and her brother.  She loved me and always would, forever and ever.  She wrote it over and over again.  She would send me pictures.  She would buy me presents.  But there were two things she wanted.  


I need to put the letters away.  I need to quit it.  It is shameful, I know, the way I feel when I read them. 

I'm afraid people will find out.  

Yesterday, I dug out a storage container looking for the old yearbooks.  I couldn't find them at first and thought that maybe I didn't have them any longer.  I unpacked the container until I reached the bottom.  There lay three the three thin yearbooks from so very long ago. 

I lay down upon the guest bed and turned on the lamp.  I held them in my hands for a moment, looking at the years.  I began with the first one, before I knew Emily.  I looked through the pages.  I could remember some people and laughed at the thoughts.  Chubby Howie.  I tried to remember any conversation we ever had.  He had been in my class since second grade.  Looking at his picture made me chuckle, but I couldn't remember a single word we ever spoke.  

Those were different times.  Life wasn't as easy or safe.  Here was the kid with the polio leg, and there was the kid wo was hydrocephalic.  We didn't call it that, of course.  He was a water head.  Several kids had severe hare lips.  Everyone said the girl with the coke bottle glasses was a retard.  Nobody would sit next to her on the bus. At the end of the school year, kids signed one another's yearbooks.  

I was sweet.  That is what the girls said.  One boy had written, "Good luck with Kathy!"  Who was Kathy.  I was stunned, but on the same page, in large letters--"Hi Lover, Kathy!"  I looked back through the photos trying to find a Kathy that I might have liked.  Nope.  Nothing.  

I looked through the next grade pictures.  It seemed I knew more of those kids than the ones in my own class.  I had become precocious maybe, or maybe it was from playing in the band.  

I opened the next yearbook, the year I "went with" Emily.  We had all changed a bit.  Helen, one of her best friends, had a sexy, sultry look, more woman than girl.  Her other friend, Cindy, still looked like a kid.  She would become beautiful in a couple years.  I was still sweet.  Emily and I were an item.  I don't remember it being so public, but there it was on the page, comment after comment.  

I looked at the clock.  The hours had passed, me in some time warp. I put the yearbooks aside and called my mom. 

"Hey.  Do you want a beer."  I needed a beer.  I felt jumpy as that feral cat.  

It doesn't matter what Trump does.  My mother hates Biden and that Carmela woman.  She hates Nancy.  She can never say her last name.  And that other guy who is always with her.  

"Which guy?"  

"You know who I'm talking about."  

"You don't even know their names, but you hate them," I chuckled.  It is outrageous, but she's my mom.  She had her mail in ballot, and I asked to see it.  

"Give me a pen," I said.  "I'll fill this in for you."  

I should have set it on fire.  

I left her house to pick up my sushi.  The fellow getting it for me got nervous and confused.  He couldn't find the order.  The fellow in charge said, "No, I'll get it.  It is no problem.  He is my friend," he said referring to me.  He has served me many sushi meals over the years.  It is nice to have a friend.  I don't even know his name.  

After I fed the cats, I got my own dinner out and arranged on the tray in front of the television.  I had bought a nice bottle of unfiltered sake to go with the nigiri and edamame and miso and the avocado I had sliced.  I had made it home in time for the six o'clock news.  

I looked out the windows of the kitchen door across the deck.  The cats were gone.  The news was the same.  Trump was acting outrageously, Covid had not gone away.  There were still campaigns and predictions about the coming election.  

Nothing had changed.  As I had been doing all year, I was eating alone.  I thought about those kids in the yearbook.  It was all so far away. I wondered what had become of them.  I wanted to know.  They would all be old men and women now, those who hadn't died.  My own life had gotten better for a long time, I thought.  

I just couldn't reconcile that Emily was dead.  Why was it so haunting?  I thought about the two things she requested as a kid, the things she never wanted me to do, and I was spooked.  Had I forgotten that she was alive? 

I won't forget that she is dead.