Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Domesticat

Depending on the species, the average lifespan of a squirrel is three to five years in the wild.  In captivity--ten.  The same is approximately true for rabbits.  I assume that it will be the same for any animal--shorter lifespans in the wild, longer lifespans in captivity.  

We are captive humans.  We would probably live to be about thirty-five in the wild.  And that's if a lion didn't get us while we were young.  

Yes, we are domesticated.  And for all the bad chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis, average lifespans are growing.  

That movie I took my young friend to see about Gauguin a few posts back, "Wolf at the Door," was themed after this fable (link).  It is part of our romantic legacy.  I imagined I lived my life by that when I was young.  Now I am old, due in large part to the fact that I really didn't.  Oh, I chanced my life quite often, but dying never seems as scary when you are young.  It is only as I have gotten older that the final act has terrified me so.  For most of us, I believe, the biggest disappointment in life is going to be living too long.  

But don't worry.  I still have some things I want to do.  

I waited around all day for the plumber.  He didn't show up until 4:30.  I gave him the line I said I would about how easy installation was going to be according to the ads.  He said that may be true, but removing the old stuff was going to be the difficult part.  Then he made me sign an estimate on how much this would cost.  "Holy shit!" I exclaimed feeling my testicles suck into my abdomen.  To kill the pain, I poured a cocktail and sat outside the kitchen on the deck with the door open so I could hear him groan and complain.  

Kaboom!  Pow!

Yes, he had to hammer several pieces apart.  He came out to show me.  

"Look at this.  Metal on metal.  Why wouldn't they use metal on plastic?"

I panicked for a moment.  I didn't know the correct answer.  To cover my uncertainty, I squinted my eyes, nodded my head, and took a slow sip.  

"See, after awhile, metal corrodes and you can't get them apart," he continued.  "They become a solid block."  

"Motherfucker," I said.  "They just aren't thinking about the future, I guess."  

"I need your help for a minute," he said.  "I need you to hold a wrench.  My arms aren't long enough." 

"Sure, but I'm going to have to get you to sign this estimate on what it is going to cost you," I laughed.  He just gave a weak grin.  

Finally, he had everything apart.  I poured another drink and continued to sit on the deck.  I scrolled through my phone deleting photos and voice messages until my phone was almost dead.  People walking by would wave and say hi.  Some stopped to talk for a moment or two.  The day turned to night.  I was hungry having eaten only some cheese and apple and crackers all day.  With wine.  And having had a couple cocktails while he worked, I was getting shaky.  

He finished up at 7:30, but he didn't seem in a hurry to leave.  He sat down at the table and became chatty.  I'm a nice guy, so we ended telling tales of growing up in this town before it was this town.  When he was finally gone, there was nothing left to do but procure some Popeye's chicken.  I think I have gotten addicted since getting Covid.  This is the third time in a few weeks.  It is so bad, though, that it is good.  Really good.  

The new faucet looks better than the old one.  True.  I am in no way disappointed.  It is a fine faucet and it works well.  Still, I'm waiting for something to go wrong.  

The maids come today.  They will do something to break the new hardware, I am sure.  The old Wrecking Crew.  I think this company gets their helpers straight from the jungles of Africa and South America.  Don't get on me.  That is where the husband and the wife are from, respectively.  They have connections.  I don't think the women cleaning my house are familiar with snappy modern things.  And I know they are brutish.  

The problems of the privileged, eh?  It is so hard to find good help these days. 

Tongue in cheek, motherfuckers.  Don't cancel me.  I'm old and injured and need help.  I'm a captive squirrel.  

Even the feral cat is getting cosy.  She stayed on the deck with me through the entire plumbing adventure.  She kept walking to the open door and looking in.  She walked up to me coming as close as one foot.  These are new behaviors on her part.  Perhaps she is willing to give up some liberty for comfort, eh?  

At evening's end, I watched a documentary about a group of crazies sailing a 120 foot boat from New Zealand to Patagonia by way of the Antarctic (link).  The boat was not built for this kind of sailing.  They bought everything on the cheap and had to continually make repairs at sea to survive.  There was a time when I would have been, like. . . YEA!!!!  But last night, I didn't think I wanted to go.  I did feel ashamed, however, that I didn't install my own sink and disposal.  

And that is how I ended my night.  With that and one hit off the old pipe.  And as has been the norm for awhile, my dreams were by turns sensual and sweet, then weird and disturbing like a David Lynch movie. I am, I must say, quite fascinated.  

So. . . hat is it for today from this Domesticat. We'll have to wait and see what the new day brings.  


Monday, October 18, 2021

Good News

Ready for some good news?  Me, too.  I can try.  I woke up this morning to the sound of the furnace.  Outside, it was 61 degrees.  We haven't had a temperature like that here in a very long time.  It won't last, but the coming weather is going to feel more normal for this time of year.  Dogs be frisky.  

I got up yesterday morning to the messiest house I've ever lived in.  Every horizontal surface was covered with something that needed to be elsewhere.  By afternoon, however, the house was spic and span.  I put on my big boy pants and got to work.  It felt really good once it was done.  I was energized, so I put on my gym shorts and gently exercised for about forty minutes.  Then I went out and hooked up the hose with insecticide and sprayed the yard and perimeters of the house and apartment.  Sorry kids, but it had to be done.  Afterwards, I showered, of course, and went to the grocery store. When I got home mid-afternoon, I felt fine.  Better than fine.  I felt that I was finally on the road to recovery.  

And I hadn't even had a drink. 

I went to my mother's for dinner.  We sat out with a cocktail first and neighbors stopped by.  And stayed.  And stayed, in serial succession.  One would see the group and show up as another was leaving.  It was all small talk and chit-chat, of course, and I was losing my mind.  I was hungry and wanted dinner, but dinner wasn't coming very soon.  

"You sure attract a crowd," my mother said.  "You've made me popular."

She doesn't know how such things wear me out.  But fine. It makes my mother happy.  And so, the last person leaving, I headed into the house to start preparing dinner, but it was my mother's dinner and she took over.  It was fine and good, and I stayed and chatted much later than normal.  She whined when I said I was going.  

I think there is never enough you can do for your old mom, do you?  

But I wanted to get home to see if Amazon had delivered the promised faucet.  It hadn't arrived before I left, but there it was parked on the front door stoop.  Now you may not know this about me, but I am fairly negative about things turning out well.  I was sure I would hate something about the faucet.  Surely nothing would go well.  But nope. . . I was surprised.  It is not bad at all.  Of course, I know it is my worry that holds things together and that if I stop worrying, everything indeed falls apart.  

The plumber comes this afternoon.  I suspect something will go wrong, that I will have bought the wrong disposal or faucet or that there will be a bigger problem.  Of course.  But. . . if. . . and I mean "if". . . perhaps this afternoon those troubles will be over.  

Of course, once the faucet is on, I will dislike it.  You'll hear all about that tomorrow.  Or perhaps it will be the disposal.  I will feel it is underpowered, maybe, that I should have gotten something stronger.  

The maids come tomorrow.  As it has been all along, Wednesday is my hope.  

Next, I'm going to get the tenant to help me tackle the garage now that the weather is nice.  She has junk taking up over half of the space.  She is not my girlfriend any more, hasn't been in almost a decade.  Still, unbeknownst to her, she has cost me things I miss most in life.  

But that is a tale best left untold.  

I have a wealth of pictures now.  I've spent entire days sitting at the computer and cooking things I've never touched before.  Street stuff.  Big city stuff. . . and some country, too.  They are not all great, of course, but as my hillbilly relatives like to proclaim, they are "good enough."  

That should be the hillbilly anthem.  "Good Enough." 

That is about as exciting as my life gets right now.  Prices are rising and shortages abound, but I am going nowhere and buying nothing.  I feel I can be happy with beans and lentils and rice and vegetables.  And for all the near death trouble one has brought me, I am dangerously close to buying another Vespa.  If things will just keep rotting and breaking, I could live on very little money.  I don't even want to buy cameras any more.  I haven't bought clothes in a couple years other than some t-shirts and stretchy shorts.  I do need a new pair of Tevas, but not much else.  

Biden's in trouble, of course.  He was championing the underdogs and giving them money as fast as he could while Rome burned.  It's not that his heart was in the wrong place.  He just couldn't keep his eye on the ball.  He spoke of injustices to people whose houses were on fire.  He reminds me of the Wizard of Oz when Toto pulls back the curtain.  

"You're a very bad man," Dorothy exhorts.  

Chastised, he responds, "No, my dear.  I'm a very good man.  I'm just a very bad wizard."

Now I will stretch and take a long walk in the beautiful autumnal air, the light and the colors more than the eyes can bear.  I am ready for a little less gloom and a little more relief.  Hell, I may even be hoping for something akin to happy.  

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Torn and Frayed


If you are looking for an uplifting or happy post, you'll need to go elsewhere.  If you are anything like me, though, other people's misery makes you feel less alone in the uncaring universe and so is not depressing to you at all.  Now interesting. . . that's another matter.  There needs be something interesting in a screed about misery.  Will I accomplish that, at least?

I doubt it, but if you have read this far, you are probably going to take your chances.  I've been interesting before, I swear.  It could happen again.  I mean it.  It could.  

So the drip, drip, drip continues, and I believe it has gotten worse.  The sound of the drops hitting the water collected in the bucket is about ten times louder, too.  It is similar to the Chinese torture thing without the drop hitting the forehead.  It is fraying my nerves.  "Why don't you just turn off the water?" you ask.  I do.  And as soon as I do, I need to use the bathroom or wash my hands or get a drink of water.  Turning off the water is like a trigger.  I am beginning to understand triggers, you see.  My nerves are shot.  

In the morning, I checked on my delivery of the two faucets I ordered on Amazon.  One was supposed to be here yesterday and the other today.  But no.  Amazon decided to bundle the two together.  They would be here Monday.  I couldn't trust that.  The plumber gets here Monday anytime after noon.  If the faucets didn't get here on time. . . . 

So I cancelled the order and reordered separately.  One faucet is scheduled to be here today.  The other, still tomorrow.  I'm hoping I can stand the faucet that comes today and be done with it.  

But I won't, I know.  So add this anxiety to the drip, drip, drip.  I swear, I'm ready to jump.  

I spent the rest of the morning looking for faucets that could be delivered in a day.  And I found one I thought I might like.  And it was gold.  It was for a single hole faucet, but here's the thing. . . they make plates--called escutcheons--that will cover three hole sinks.  Perfect (I guess).  But what do you do about the fourth hole?  Well. . . they make soap dispensers for that one.  Well holy shit, then, I thought, I'm ordering that one.  But wait, honkey, not so fast.  Amazon doesn't have the escutcheon in stock, and you can't find it in gold from any of the big box stores.  

So. . . I'm fucked. 

Did I tell you about the kitchen floorboards warping from the water?

I had planned on stretching/yoga yesterday and a little meditation to quiet my anarchical mind.  I needed to align my nervous system.  It has gone into excruciating rebellion.  Sort of like American workers.  But I couldn't convince myself that the time was right.  I went outside and watered my palms and ligustrums and azaleas.  And when that was done, I made a mimosa and went to the big computer.  Where I stayed except to make more mimosas.  All afternoon.  Working on old S.F. images.  Until I was nearly blind.  Seventy-five images in all.  And when I was done, I went back and looked through them all. 

With great disappointment.  I think my treatment of most of them was poor.  I decided I will have to go back to the raw files and start over.  

My mother called.  Her arm was hurting badly, she said.  She must have done something to it.  She did not feel like eating dinner.  That was fine with me.  I did not feel like leaving the house.  I was tired, achey, depressed.  

"But you're still coming over, aren't you?"

"Sure mom.  I just need to take a shower."

We sat outside, me with a premixed margarita, she with a beer.  Neither of us was talkative, neither having fun.  I ordered takeout sushi and waited another fifteen minutes before I left.  I didn't have any sake, but I was too tired or lazy or just kerflumpt to go to a liquor store.  I was going to take a bottle of wine from my mother's, but I forgot.  Well. . . I had a beer, I thought.  

Nope.  The kobachi and rice and edamame were good, but I drank a sparkling water.  

This morning I discovered that I had a bottle of sake here all along.  

That's the way my shit has gone lately.  

This morning the coffee seems weak.  Did I put too much water in the coffee maker?  

Drip, drip, drip.  

Lost and needing Xanax, I poured a big scotch and settled into the couch to watch t.v.  Everybody is talking about "Squid Games" on Netflix, so I figure it is a piece of shit show.  But I hadn't anything else good cued up, so I turned it on.  

I was right.  WTF is wrong with people?  

Having hardly moved a muscle all day, I went to bed exhausted.  I took half a zanny and didn't get up all night long.  But I dreamed.  I don't let my dreams disturb me any more.  I just try to enjoy them, even the bad ones.  But last night, for the first time in memory, my ex-wife appeared.  It did not go well.  Understandably, I guess.  

Today I will do some things I don't want to do to make myself feel better.  It will take me half the day to clear out the clutter I have accumulated on every horizontal surface in my house.  But there is a plumber on Monday and maids on Tuesday.  It has to be done.  

I'm thinking "Wednesday."  Perhaps I will feel better then.  

The photos are from Cafe Mason, S.F., 2012.  Q and I had breakfast.  It seemed a magical place then. The food was excellent, the waitresses French and extremely desirable.  

Oh. . . but I learned something from a Times article today about "gaze" (link).  A Black lesbian is "reinventing" the nude.  It is o.k., however, for her gaze is "multifaceted."  Apparently, all gazes are not equal.  I guess I have some work to do.  

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Drip, Drip, Drip


I'm O.K.  I'm just not.  Nothing seems headed in the right direction, but it will turn around.  I called the plumbing company.  It is not a plumbing company.  It is an engineering firm.  They have done all my recent work--changed out the electrical boxes, put in and serviced my a.c. units, and fixed the underground leak at the apartment.  They are a good company and are scheduled to come on Monday.  So I went looking for faucets.  Can't find one.  I am looking for a unicorn.  I went to the big places, Loews and Home Depot.  You find only the most functional units there.  I went to a high end bathroom and kitchen place in my own hometown.  I've been before.  They are real shits.  I knew I would be ignored and then treated like a peasant when I walked in.  I wasn't wrong.  But even they did not have anything in stock.  so I ordered on Amazon.  Taking no chances, I ordered two different faucets.  One would arrive today, said the website, the other tomorrow.  This morning, however, the website says they will arrive on Monday.  WTF?!  Monday won't do.  Now I am in a quandary.  There is another, very expensive faucet, a one hole rather than a four hole thing, that the site says will be here tomorrow.  But I have a four hole sink!  They sell an optional cover plate.  Well. . . the company does, but Amazon does not.  It seems I'm fucked all around.  I may have to reschedule the plumber.  Monday was good because my maids come on Tuesday.  I would have to reschedule until Wednesday.  Meanwhile, the water drip, drip, drips into the five gallon bucket.  I shut off the water to the house to stop it.  Inconvenient.  

What a world. 

I did buy a replacement disposal, the same model as the one I have now.  It says "easy installation."  So do the faucets.  That is what I am going to tell the plumber.  

"Boy, this is easy installation, huh?  You should be done lickety split.  Easy."

I keep telling myself I should just try to do it.  What could go wrong?  The internet says it is easy.  The packaging says it is easy.  You only need a couple screw drivers and a hammer. . . maybe something else.  Cut off the water and the power.  Undo a few screws or bolts or whatever.  Pull it out and put in the new one.   

What kind of man am I, anyway?

I'm a reader and a dreamer.  

But. . . what about Big Balls in Cowtown?  

Fuck that, I think.  I don't feel well. Who wants a pair of big balls slapping up against their ass anyway.  It is an old man joke at best.  

"What's it like making love to an old guy?"

It will be O.K.  I just feel disaster-ridden.  

I watched a documentary about prison fighters in Thailand last night.  Thailand has a program where multiple murderers can fight their way out of prison.  If they are good enough, they can get a pardon.  Thai prisons don't look like much fun.  The documentary followed one fellow who stabbed a stranger in the neck one night.  He stabbed a kid who had just graduated high school.  He was with his girlfriend and went to a pub.  Some gangsters liked her and they had words.  When the couple left, the gang got on their motorbikes and followed them.  The fellow in prison was drunk.  He didn't know the kid.  He got off his bike and stabbed him.  The kid died.  The murderer was good at Muy Thai fighting.  He won a series of fights and was pardoned.  When he got out, he went back to live with his parents and his five year old son in their small home. He got up before dawn and worked the cooked chicken cart every day with his parents.  That was to be his future if he stayed out of trouble.  

See?  Other people are lucky.  Me?  I have plumbing problems.  My trouble never ends.  Every time the world turns, why does it land on me?

Maybe I should take a mental health day?  Hah!  

I took my mother to the doctor yesterday.  She is healed and needs not go back, but she will continue therapy.  She was happy I took her.  I went back in the late afternoon.  She wanted to make me dinner.  Pork chops, green beans, Jasmine rice, a garden salad.  It was the best meal I've had in weeks.  

Drip, drip, drip. . . .  


Friday, October 15, 2021

Disasters Compounded


I'm sick of whining, tired of complaining. . . but what else is there to do?  People enjoy my bragging even less.  Oh, a good story is what's called for, but I've been nowhere, done nothing.  I forgot to tell you about the fall I took leaving the restaurant one night in front of an onlooking crowd just before I got Covid.  That would be the sort of thing that would put a smile on your face.  Who doesn't love a pratfall?  But the time for that has passed.  It no longer has the necessary verve, or, perhaps, I don't.  

Rather, I have only woe.  A couple nights ago, I turned on the garbage disposal.  There was a piece of broken glass inside, and it made a terrible noise, but I thought, what the hell, ice is supposed to be good for disposals.  A little piece of glass can't be that bad.  

The next morning, I woke to a wet kitchen floor.  I thought it was the dishwasher that had leaked.  Yesterday, however, there was more water.  I checked under the sink.  Water.  Shit.  I pulled everything out from under the sink and dried the floor and the cabinet.  But there was a drip.  It was coming from the disposal.  WTF?  I got a bucket to put under it.  I moved everything around so that I would use the other half of the divided sink, the side without the disposal.  Still, the water kept dripping.  

I emptied the bucket before I went to bed.  This morning it was almost full.  Five gallons in eight hours.  No water is running.  How can the disposal be leaking water?  

It is all a mystery to me.  I spent yesterday afternoon trying to find a replacement sink.  I have a lovely and very expensive Kohler Revival swan neck faucet.  It has a lifetime guarantee.  I tried ordering parts for it this year, but they have changed the hook up so that the parts were not the right ones.  At that time, I could have bought the new version for just under $700.  I balked, of course.  I thought it was a lifetime warranty?  The lady from Kohler said no, they didn't make that any more.  

So yesterday, I thought I would have to bite the bullet.  What bullet?  They no longer make the faucet at all.  Gone in mere months.  So. . . find a replacement.  My faucet is polished brass.  All the cabinet hardware matches as is the decorator's rule.  Try to find a polished brass faucet now.  There are hardly any around.  I am going to have to make a BIG compromise in buying a new faucet.  Mine is a four hole sink--hot and cold water handles, faucet neck, and sprayer.  They don't make so many of those any longer.  

I will order a compromise today.  I am very unhappy.  

I looked up garbage disposals, too.  Mine is a popular one--the InSinkErator.  They used to be around $80.  They are around $200 now.  

I guess I am going to take what I can get.  When I tried to replace my washing machine in Covid times, there were hardly any around.  Shortages, they said.  Everything was shut down.  Nobody's making parts.  

Same with lumber.  Mills closed.  Lumber prices are four times what they were.  I need to replace my deck.  

I am feeling the curse.  I've spent far too much money on the house since I retired.  Far, far too much.  

Oh. . . and now the planks of my kitchen floor are warped from being wet.  One day it will need replacing.  

I should sell my house, rent a large studio somewhere, and just live in it.  

My mother has a doctor's appointment today with the orthopedist.  She made it ridiculously early.  She can take herself now, but I feel the need to go.  I will have to get ready soon.  

But I am not feeling well at all.  Covid will not leave me alone.  I am achey and tired much of the day.  I have something akin to an allergy going on--scratchy throat, mucus, a cough and a runny nose and much itchiness.  And the other usual ailments--aching back, bad hips, etc.  I'm suffering from Covid brain, I know.  Nothing brings me pleasure.  I've read about the anxiety and depression that often lingers after Covid, but it never made sense to me.  I don't think I ever believed it.  

How do people go on?  

So there you go.  There is today's gripe.  There is the whining and complaining.  Disasters compounded.  There was another factory group birthday party last night, but I had to miss it.  It is difficult enough to simply sit upright.  I will go to my mother's now and take her to the doctor.  If it is as usual, we will be sitting for a very long time. . . waiting.  

I'm sure to be hurting by the time I return home.  Don't get this stuff.  It hurts.  It really, really hurts.   

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Living and Dying (in Three Quarter Time)


I worked on photos from San Francisco and environs for the past few days.  I have many photos I want to show.  But this is the one for today--just "my" cat.  She is not "my" cat, of course.  You see her clipped ear clearly here.  She is feral as she can be.  She doesn't trust anyone after having been captured, cut, clipped, and released.  I don't know how people think they can do this and not damage an animals psyche.  This cat is scarred way beyond her ear.  

But she likes for me to feed her and she comes closer than ever now that I'm home.  Still, there are days when she doesn't show up at all, and I have to wonder what she does.  But our bond is tenuous at best.  

Like most relationships, I guess.  That is what I thought of last night in my sleep.  You see people come together madly in love, then, with time and circumstance, the passion fades and is replaced by a tired but sometimes decent acceptance.  Seeing it makes me sad.  Living it has made me sadder.  

To wit, I went grocery shopping yesterday.  I went to Fresh Market because I wanted luxury things, the sort of treats you can't get at Publix, the local Supermarket behemoth.  I won't tell you what I got out of shame, but I'm not sorry to have those things.  

When I went to the checkout line, I heard a voice call my name.  It was a blonde woman standing in an adjacent line. I couldn't make out who it was, however, as she was wearing a mask.  She pulled it down and said her name.  Holy shit.  I hadn't seen her in many, many years.  

I have known her since she was in high school.  My girlfriend at the time was teaching at an expensive private school and had been hired to escort her and her boyfriend, her boyfriend's sister, and her friends for a weekend at the beach condo.  I went over on Saturday to visit, and oh, my, I was knocked out.  

The younger girls were cute and flirtatious when I went into the pool with them and my girlfriend.  They'd swim over and stand up and ask, "Do you think I'm fat?"  They were skinny little rails, and I just laughed. But they kept going, shimmying about, popping up in front of me with those little girl flirty eyes.  

"This is my pooch," one of them said to the other mere feet away, "and this is my cooch," she said looking me in the eye, grabbing herself and laughing.  Jesus, I'd never seen such a thing.  I tried not to look guilty of anything to my girlfriend who sat staring.

The older girl didn't hang out with us.  She spent her time with her boyfriend.  But after swimming, we went up to the condo and I chatted with her before I left.  She was sixteen and as sophisticated as anyone I had ever met.  She spoke in the low, assured tones of the privileged.  She was definitely not seeking approval.  

I was smitten.  

We became friends.  Don't ask me how.  I don't know.  It was, of course, through my girlfriend, but I got to know her parents, her brother and sister.  I would go to her house, and she would come to mine.  I can't imagine this now, can't imagine how it happened, but one night, I asked her if she wanted to go to a movie.  Don't ask me.  It even surprises me.  We went to see "Wolf at the Door" (link).  It was a movie about Gaugin (played by Donald Sutherland), and of course, there were lots of nude women in it.  Most significant, however, was his affair with his landlords young daughter (significantly shown in this theatrical trailer--link).  

Jesus Christ!!!!  I had no idea.  Oh dear God, I thought, I'm in trouble now.  If people had been using the word "grooming" then. . . . 

After the movie, we went to get something to eat.  "Well," I asked tentatively, "what did you think of the film?"  

"Oh. . . it was alright."  

Maybe not the response I might have hoped for, but it didn't seem she was going to call the cops.  

And we still stayed friends, her stopping by often just to chat.  In her senior year she was voted Homecoming Queen by all the privileged boys and girls.  I would have been displeased, but she also played on the boys soccer team as the school did not have a girl's.  I went often to see her play.  

When she graduated, she went away to college and would often write me letters telling me about her experiences and what she thought of them.  I still have the letters somewhere, of course.  And each holiday break, I would see her on the Boulevard where we would embrace and go somewhere to chat.  The year my girlfriend and I split up, she said I looked down.  "You know, she was a shit, anyway.  You are better off without her."  And then, for the briefest of moments, we kissed.  

That Golden Moment.  

She eventually left the college she was attending to come back to town where she attended the local university.  She had started dating a boy whose father had become fabulously wealthy, a good looking boy who had everything he wanted.  She had become a sophisticated hippie, smoking dope and looking expensively bohemian.  For Christmas, she gave me a colorful little bracelet she had woven.  I wore it for years until it fell apart.  No worries.  She made me a new one.  

She and the boy broke up, and she was devastated.  For awhile, she taught at the private school where she had gone.  In a very short time, her ex-boyfriend's father went to prison.  Apparently, his business was a Ponzi scheme.  The family was suddenly broke.  The ex got married and went to Texas where he became a renowned painter among the very rich.  Her father, who owned a large chain of car repair shops along the lines of Midas, went broke, and then his health failed, and in short order, he died.  Her mother, who had a tutoring business of some repute, hired her to run the company, and she made it very successful, mostly through the writing of federal grants that paid them to tutor underprivileged kids.  

I found this quite ironic.  

I didn't see her much for a number of years, but one day I ran into her at an Office Depot.  She was with a big, overweight guy who she introduced as her boyfriend.  It was unbelievable to me.  He just wasn't handsome in any way.  It was a boy she had gone to high school with, and eventually they got married and had two kids.  I learned all this from her mother who I would run into from time to time.  

What her mother told me, though, was that she had married Jim whose family owned the biggest transportation company in town.  But wait.  What?  I had known Jimbo from the old steroid gym.  He was a couple years older than I and a nut, a testifying Christian on 'roids.  She couldn't have married him.  Could she have?  I'd seen her with one unattractive guy.  Maybe she did it for the money.  Who knows what happens in people's contorted lives.  

It wasn't until years later that I found out that she had married a fellow her own age, perhaps the guy I had been introduced to at the store.  

But as I say, at the grocery store, I didn't know who she was until she took her mask off and said her name.  I don't think I would have recognized her if she hadn't.  She didn't look much like the girl I knew.  Of course, I was surprised she could recognize me at all.  

We walked out into the parking lot together and talked like old friends.  She was as easy and friendly as she had ever been.  She told me of her children, the usual shit, and then I said, "You know, when I heard you married Jim, I thought you had married Jimbo, then I realized he must be junior."

"No, no," she laughed, "that was his uncle.  He committed suicide a few years ago."

"What?  Really?"

"Yea, he was really messed up.  He had an empty soul."  

"But he was a super Christian,"

"Yes," she said, "he had an empty soul."

Good girl, I thought.  She was alright.  She was still good.  

I didn't feel like cooking last night, so I called my mother and asked if it would be o.k. if I just ordered a pizza.  Oh, sure.  She was all for that.  I was hungry having hardly eaten anything all day, so I got there early and we sat outside and ate.  I told her I still wasn't feeling well, that I would have a few good hours and then just feel sick again.  I said I was tired and depressed and couldn't think of anything I wanted to do.  I'd thought about it, I said.  I thought, o.k., you need to get out of the house.  Where do you want to go?  But I couldn't think of anything I wanted to do.  I used to like to go places, I said, so that people could see me.  I knew that if I went out there was a good chance of catching some girl's eye.  Now. . . what would I do?  Get a cup of coffee and be ignored?  No, I said, it isn't fun being ignored. . . or worse.  That is what was so good about seeing my friend at the grocery store again.  It is just fun to have a pretty girl who is glad to see you.  

But I wasn't feeling good and sitting with my mother got to be boring, so I came home to pour a whiskey and sit on the couch.  I read for awhile, then watched t.v.  Before bed, I cleaned up the kitchen, prepared he coffee maker, and ran the dishwasher.  As I was leaving the kitchen, the dishwasher seemed to be making a very strange sound, but I was tired and decided to ignore it.  I took some pills and went to bed.  

In the middle of the night I woke up with a crazy itching in my throat and ear.  I had to get up, drink water, blow my nose--something bad was surely happening.  I was getting sick once again.  

I never truly got back to sleep, so I got up before six.  When I went to the kitchen to turn on the coffee pot, the floor was covered in water.  Fuck!  The dishwasher!

When the neighbor's cat came to see me, I opened the door to speak to him.  My head sounded full of cement.  I don't feel well.  WTF?

And so begins another inglorious day of retirement.  A chance encounter reminded me of better times, but I probably won't run into her again for years.  She is wealthy once again and lives in a different part of town.  

Me?  I guess I'm reflecting on the lyrics of a song that came on my playlist yesterday.  Am I living or dying?  It may not be an either/or, but you know. . . it seems a bit more than merely philosophical.  


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Negative, Not Well


While I am Covid negative, I think I am not Covid free.  I was ready to re-enter the world yesterday.  I did another round of light exercise and took another walk.  I showered and readied myself for the final visit of Mr. Tree to settle up the bill.  The day was a pretty one, bright light, gentle temps.  I had even trimmed my fingernails which had been ignored and were beginning to tap against the computer keys.  I'd gone to the bank and cashed some checks, so I had a thick wad of fifties and hundreds riding on my hip.  I tell you, I was ready for life.  

Mr. Tree showed up.  As expected but not quite anticipated, his price was a knockout punch to the heart.  I could feel myself sicken.  I haggled a bit.  The wad I had counted on was not enough.  I ended up writing him a check.  When he was gone, my knees felt weak.  I hadn't eaten.  Surely that was it.  I vowed that I would not use Mr. Tree next year as I alternated between weakness and rage.  

But now that was over and done, and there was nothing left to do.  I would put that behind me and tell myself "lesson learned."  Again.  It seems I learn these lessons over and over.  But the yard looked nice.  I had a compliment from a neighbor just that morning.  It was not like I got nothing for my money.  So that was it.  Forget about it and move on. 

For the first time in weeks, I went grocery shopping.  It felt strange to be around people again.  I felt a bit gun-shy.  I should have super-immunities now, or so I've read, but I imagined I could feel the germs swirling about the miasma surrounding me.  People are dirty, germie creatures.  They just are. 

I grabbed the "fixin's" for the evening's dinner--salad, chicken, Brussel's sprouts, and potatoes.  I picked up some milk and a bottle of wine.  

At the checkout, I felt robbed again.  WTF?  There was a hole in my pocket.  I could feel the trouble with the world.  It is the feeling that you lack control, that everything is beyond you.  The price of things rise without your say.  Suddenly, it is not your system, not your world.  Everything is wrong.  

You feel insecure.  And that is it, I think, the trouble with things.  People want security.  They want to feel invested.  They want to feel they belong.  Give people security and they buy into the system.  It is their system.  They will defend it because they are invested.  But many people do not feel secure right now, left or right, cis, trans, Black, White--all that is left to people is activism.  

How can you feel secure when you know you're going to end up once again with Trump?  

The universe is against us.  

Back home, mid-afternoon, I tried to read, but my head was heavy, my limbs full of sand.  I lay down for a nap, but I don't think I slept.  Though my eyes were closed, I was fitful.  The day seemed long, and I felt short, and in a short while, I was up again.  It was still too early for dinner, so I sat down at the computer and worked through more of my interminable files.  

But I was jumpy.  The pictures brought me no pleasure.  I got up, grabbed a handful of nuts, and poured a drink.  I sat outside on the deck and watched the day pass by until it was time to go to mother's.  

It was traffic time.  The trip over set my nerves on edge.  I was getting achey.  I didn't want dinner.  I wanted to take a pill that would put me out for the rest of the night.  But when I pulled into the driveway, my mother was there, waiting.  

The old routine.  We sat and chatted about nothing, about relatives and the troubles with the world, and then it was time to fix dinner.  

Chopping and cooking, I began to feel a collapse coming on.  As the sprouts steamed and the potatoes boiled, I sat down.  My mother put her hand on my back and said I felt warm.  I could feel a fever and a cold sweat on my forehead.  

By the time we had eaten, I felt that Covid had returned.  All I wanted was to get home and pop some Tylenol, to sit on the couch in front of the television until it was time to go to an early bed.  I could see the concern and disappointment in my mother's eyes.  I just wasn't up to the task.  

At home, I poured a big whiskey so that I wouldn't have to get up.  I turned on the television.  I needed something easy to watch.  I scrolled through HBO series.  "100 Foot Wave."  What?  It was a series about big wave surfing.  Oh, yes, that was just the thing.  Perfect.  I sat for three episodes during which I imagined myself surfing again.  I could do it, I thought.  It was just a matter of determination.  You can't give in, I told myself.  You can't lie down.  I imagined myself with the pretty wife of the subject of the series, a chill hippie girl who made me eat hippie food and do yoga and meditate, someone who would feed my body and my soul.  Yes, it was all possible.  I just couldn't quit.  

Before ten, I was ready for bed.  My mother had given me some Benadryl because I had begun to sneeze and cough.  The cough had become worse and worried me.  I popped a Benadryl and some Tylenol besides.  The bedroom was quiet but for the hum of the air purifiers.  If I'd had the energy, I'd have put on some music for the night once again.  I felt the day, somehow, had turned against me.  I wasn't well yet, not by a long shot.  My body ached.  I lay down and waited for the drugs to take effect.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Covid Free


I tested negative for Covid yesterday.  Now the long slow road to recovery.  Two weeks is a long time to stay in bed, to sit around the house alone.  It has made me stranger by measures, I'm sure.  But now the long march back to "normal."  I will get a booster vaccine, too.  I just read that this will make me a rock star of immunity.  I'll keep my fingers crossed.  

Tonight I'll go to my mother's and fix her a good meal.  She will be delighted.  

As with most things, however, the return to normal comes at a cost.  When Mr. Tree called yesterday, I told him about the test results.  He still wanted to bring dinner to me, he said.  Great.  His girl cooks like a wizard.  By eight o'clock, it was clear he wasn't bringing anything.  I ended up eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  

He will come today to collect the money.  I will be very sad about how much he charges me, I know.  

Today's headline is that Superman is Queer.  So reports CNN, anyway,  Their lead, not mine.  A much smaller tagline reports that the IRS wants banks to send more information to them about your bank accounts.  

Obviously, Trump will be re-elected.  

Holy shit!  This just in!: "But he was 100 years old and in great shape.  Of course he was gay!"

I sent that to all my gay friends.  Good responses there.  

I just wish Superman would show up in a pair of those slippers, but you know, femme is out.  CNN is in.  

Monday, October 11, 2021

The Day Indigenous People Discovered Columbus


I thought I might do some light exercising yesterday.  I thought about it.  Somehow, though, that held little appeal.  And so. . . I didn't.  The morning was beautiful, and I thought to walk.  Rather, I sat.  Then I ate.  Then morning was over and Mr. Tree called to tell me he was bringing lunch.  So I poured a mimosa and took lunch outside.  When I went back in, I sat down at the computer and began looking, once again, through old files.  I hit upon some folders with images from California circa 2012.  

And that is where I stayed the rest of the live long day.  

My God, images that might never have seen the light of day.  Why had I never worked on them before?  The day wore on.  Just one more.  But then the next one.  It takes me awhile to work up a picture, but after working all afternoon and into the night, I had about a dozen or so.  

There are more sitting in those folders.  I'll not spend an entire day again, but one or two at a time I think.  They were all taken with the big old Canon Mark 5D Mark III.  What a camera.  It is an all-time favorite.  Just super.  

But I can't believe I used it in the streets.  With the zoom lens on it, it is HUGE.  

Having sat all day, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to sleep, so I nibbled the very tiniest of nibbles off a gummy.  Why?  Why?  Sometime during the night, I woke in wonder.  WTF?  Oh. . . yea.  My dreams were by turn funny and paranoid.  

I didn't get out of bed for ten hours.  

My buddy is still sick with Covid.  I feel OK as long as I don't move.  He is still testing positive.  I will get tested once again today.  I don't want to go around my mother until I am clean.  This shit is really hanging on.  

I've not finished my coffee yet and the morning is half gone.  Two weeks of sitting and sleeping and eating little has taken a toll.  I have little motivation to do anything which is really dangerous for I can do pretty much nothing from now on.  I must push myself today.  If only this f'ing virus would fade in the rear view mirror.  

Today is Columbus Day/Indigenous People Day.  Playboy magazine has put a gay man on its cover dressed in a bunny costume.  Biden's popularity is fading and people are already predicting a second Trump Presidency.  

I need to get better.  I can't just sit around and miss the end of The American Dynasty.  Not yet.  There are stories to be told.  

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Good Fight, Bad Post


Are you anything like I am, kids?  Do you like a good contest?  No, no, I'm not talking about this woman's perfect ping-pong form, I'm talking about fightin'.  The Gypsy King!  Well, I was Covid tired last night and couldn't stay up to watch the fight, but I saw it first thing this morning. . . and so can you. 

It's shot from the stands, but it is interesting to watch the fight without commentary.  

I'm not in fighting shape yet.  I'm barely in walking shape, but I did a little exercise and took a walk yesterday and didn't feel worse afterwards.  My buddy is still sick.  I think I've turned a corner.  It has been two weeks since we were at the party, but he took another test and is still positive for the virus.  I guess I need to get tested before I go to see my mother.  Three of us sick for two weeks, all of us with two vaccinations.  This Delta variety is bad shit.  Really bad.  

I guess the reason I was pulling for Tyson Fury is the whole dad bod thing.  I look like the Doughboy right now, so it was nice to see someone who doesn't look like an athlete win something.  Fury's body should be the new Hot Physique.  

I've nothing much else to say.  Mr. Tree has brought me two more delicious meals made by his "personal assistant."  She is from Venezuela, he told me, and I meant to say, she is a top cook.  I may see if I can get on a meal plan with her.  

The morning is beautiful, and I want to get out into it.  We have fortunate weather right now.  I've missed much of it, but I think I can take a little fresh air time today.  

Just watch the fight.  It and the photo are the only good things in today's post.  

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Toxicology

The tree guys came early yesterday, and they stayed until it was late.  But they did little tree work.  They were on the ground pulling vines and trimming hedges and cutting back growth on the fence.  Shit work.  I thought they would be gone in half a day, but the fuckers worked slowly to not at all when the owner wasn't around.  And he wasn't around much.  He brought me lunch, a Malaysian/Indian dish of spicy beef, potatoes and rice, and a mixture of vegetables.  And by God, it was good.  

But then he was gone, and the boys lay around.  Lunch for them, too.  One can't complain.  

I was at first anxious, but as the day drew on, I became depressed.  Physically, I began to suffer.  I had planned to exercise.  I'd planned to move.  But I was trapped, and sitting was my poison.  Hour after hour, the day dribbled by.  

I sat at the computer and scanned some 4x5 color negatives I had developed the day before.  Each one was ruined by light leaks.  I'd spent an entire afternoon developing film, but everything was ruined.  Nothing turned out.  My body ached with defeat.  

My computer was a mess of files.  As I've scanned in pictures these past months, I've stored them on the desktop.  Now that desktop is overwhelmed.  I decided to clean it up.  My constant problem, however, is that I have little idea what is on my multitude of hard drives.  I mark them, but the labelling is vague and usually only partially accurate.  I have many 4TB drives that are half full.  And now that Apple has once again changed the external cabling, I have drawers full of adapters that must be mixed and matched to hard drives to get them to connect to the very inconvenient plugs in the BACK of the computer.  Fuck Apple.  

I spent a frustrating amount of time finding the right adapters and getting the hard drives read.  I settled on two semi-new drives, though neither of them have the contemporary connection for my new iMac.  But. . . drained and in need of drugs or drink or something, I finally had the drives a humming.  

Mere feet away, drug addicts pulled the vines I should have done myself.  

For those of you not familiar, Lightroom is a cataloging device.  It is a processing program for images, too, but it only stores the information about where the files are located.  If you move them on your hard drive rather than in Lightroom, Lightroom can no longer find them.  I've done it many times.  And one day, when I want to pull up the things I have imported, they are no longer there and I am in the Land of the Lost. 

So I tried to move files from my desktop to the hard drives.  I tried for a very long time, but for some reason, I couldn't remember how.  So I Googled it and tried again,  Maybe it is Covid brain, but I couldn't do it.  I tried for an hour until I said fuck it.  I closed Lightroom and just moved them from the desktop to the hard drives.  I did, but I did my usual shit job of organizing and labelling.  When I open a drive, I have folders within folders within folder, many labelled only with dates.  I have no idea what is in the folder.  The first folders might be labelled something like "Spring '17."  When I open that, there might be five to twenty folders labelled with download dates.  I'll open one, and there may be ten images I took inside my house.  The next one might be a hundred images I took one day at a farmer's market or some sort of festival.  Etc. Once I've looked through all the subfolders, I'll go back out and choose another file.  "Old Mac" it might be labelled.  Inside, another bunch of subfolders with obscure labels.  "Desktop" one might say.  I open it to just lots of random shit, flotsam and jetsam, often interesting, but time consuming.  

I chose a drive and transferred my desktop images to it.  And waited.  Then I copied them to another drive for backup.  But now Lightroom couldn't find them, so I deleted the files from Lightroom and re-imported from the new drives.  

Meanwhile, outside, the chainsaw motors roared.  

When I had cleaned my desktop and some other portions of my computer, I casually looked through some old files.  Holy shit!  Millions of images I've never touched.  There were some good ones.  Occasionally I'd open one and work on it.  What surprises.  Another, then another.  

Outside there was thunder, but the chainsaws and the chipper kept working.  The world was getting darker.  I was wasted from sitting all day.  It felt as if I were experiencing another Covid relapse.  

And then they were gone.  

I felt sick, that sort of sundowner disease that comes to the invalid.  More so, however, I knew that the day was going to cost me a heartbreaking amount of money.  I felt I'd been scammed.  

I needed food, but I was a mess.  I hadn't showered.  My shirt was stained.  I decided to get Popeye's chicken once again as I only had to do a drive through.  

On my way home, Mr. Tree called.  He was on his way to my house.  He was bringing me chicken soup.  

While I waited, I ate some of the Popeyes.  A few minutes later, he showed up.  Again, homemade.  I poured the broth over the noodles and chicken and vegetables and spices.  Oh, man, it was really good.  

I watched three YouTube clips about the three volumes of William Eggleston's new publication, "Outland."  Then I watched another by Alec Soth talking about the books of Eggleston.  I noticed some things about his photography I had never noticed before.  

I went back to the computer and worked on a few more images.  But working on images IS work, and it is long and often tedious.  It is exciting to see the images transform, but it is a slow motion transformation with much backtracking and re-doing, and I had really had enough of computers for the day.  My eyes were blurry from staring at screens for so long.  

It was early, but I was achey and tired and knew I needed bed.  A handful of pills I wish I didn't need, and off to Slumberland.  

This morning, those images from yesterday still thrill me, images that have not seen the light of day for twenty-plus years.  I am rich.  

Today I must try one again to get on the road to Wellville.  Light exercise.  A little walk.  Better food.  A redirecting of mood.  It has been long enough now that I should no longer be contagious.  Fifteen days.  I've had a lot of being alone.  

Tonight is the Fury/Wilder Heavyweight Title Fight.  It is the third fight in a trilogy.  Pay per View is around $70.  I've bought fights before.  I would buy this one, but I don't think I can comfortably stay up late enough.  They won't fight until eleven or so, and I don't care at all to watch the prelims.  Fury is the heavy favorite, but I can't figure out why.  I predict a Wilder win by decision.  I would rather see the fat Gypsy King win.  He is colorful, a real gypsy raised in a caravan.  Wilder says he cheated in the second fight, that he somehow drugged him.  Of course he did.  He probably had a Gypsy Curse cast on him, too. It appeals to me.  But I think Wilder will dash my hopes of a fat Gypsy King Champion of the World.  

I used to box in gyms.  I know a little about the Sweet Science.  My father was a Pacific Fleet Champion in WWII, or so he said, and he trained fighters for my uncle who was a boxing promoter (and Recap Tire King) in Dayton, Ohio.  My father taught me to box and told me not to.  When you fight, you have a strategy.  You try to hit the other guy and keep him from hitting you.  I was pretty good at that, but when I got hit, I didn't like it very much.  In the gym, we fought with big gloves with thick padding, so it didn't really hurt you that much when you got hit.  Sometimes, though, we'd strap on twelve ounce gloves.  These hurt a lot more.  If you get hit in the right place, it is funny how your knees will buckle.  I would fall down early on, but I learned to fight the instinct to fall and to stay on my feet.  It is no good to keep getting knocked down in front of the fellows.  But you'd go home with some puffiness and a headache often enough.  

Tonight, these guys will be wearing ten ounce gloves, probably.  Their hands will be taped so that the bones can't move.  They will be like stones.  The ten ounce glove is really protection against breaking their knuckles when they punch.  Getting hit with one of those. .  well, I can't even imagine.  They are 6'7" and 6'9", 245 and 275 pounds.  The punches they will take tonight would break a big man's facial bones, break his nose and jaw, would split the skin of his face open like a plum.  And surely, it would scatter his brain.  These boxers soak their faces in brine to toughen the skin.  They chew special gum to strengthen their jaws.  They've been hit thousands of times.  Their knees will hardly buckle.  But if one of them takes a punch to the temple or to the forehead, an electrical impulse will shoot through their brain, and for some seconds, it will get no oxygen, and the fighter will go down involuntarily.  In many fights, that never happens, but that is what the paying customers want to see.  Everybody hopes for a knockout.  Everybody wants blood.  

They will each be paid millions of dollars tonight to do this.  People will be watching from all around the globe.  And in drunken bars, men will fight one another for free.  Punches will be thrown.  If it doesn't get broken up (which it probably won't) someone will get hurt.  Shirts will be torn, noses broken, teeth loosened, eyes bloodied.  Nobody will get paid a dime.  

That is Toxic Masculinity.  Women complain about it.  But I've had my nose broken, my jaw cracked, and my teeth chipped.  I think somebody owes me something, too.  It isn't any fun.  

I'd rather take pictures.  Look at that!  I find it thrilling.  

Friday, October 8, 2021

A Lot


Southern Gothic, pt. 2.  I can't decide which one I like more.  

Yesterday afternoon, my tree guy stopped by.  I haven't seen him in almost a year.  He is from Malaysia and said he had to go home.  His mother died in January, the day before his birthday.  He stayed, then went to Singapore, then he flew his son over and they went to Japan.  Things had been so stressful, however, he had to go to Thailand to chill.  Ended up in Phuket.  When he got back, he went to Cuba and got stuck there for awhile.  Now he is working again. He said, "I'm going to get my guys to come by tomorrow and just do some maintenance on your trees."  

WTF?  He's just stopping by?

"Uh," I moaned, rubbing my index finger against my thumb, "how much?"

"Don't worry.  Whatever you can afford." 

"Uh-huh."  

He'll be here today.  He said he was bringing me lunch.  I'll certainly have sticker shock in the end, but they do great work.  My palms will look like Palm Beach again.  They will cut the big shrubs away from the house, trim the ligustrums, take suckers off the big camphors, and pull vines.  

I think his secretary is making lunch. 

When the garbage men came by yesterday, they honked the horn and wished me a good weekend.  The yardmen like me, too.  

All that should be enough.  

I've spent a couple nights watching the worst Woody Allen movies ever made.  I had not seen them before.  How I knew not to watch them before, I don't know.  But they were miserably bad, even for a fan,  "Melinda/Melinda" and "Scoop."  Even Scarlett Johansson could not save "Scoop."  They were horrible movies.  

The good news is that I am feeling better by increments.  I spoke with the other fellow who got this, and we agree that if we had not been vaccinated, we would have ended us in the hospital.  

In hospital.  Why do the British drop the article when they say this?  You don't go to the hospital.  You go to hospital.  

Sorry. Anyway, he is still a little sicker than I.  His wife, he said, is a couple days ahead of him.  All of us vaccinated.  All sick for more than a week.  Now. . . the long recovery.  

The tree guys just pulled up.  It makes me jumpy.  I have gotten used to the long boredom of not dealing with people.  I can feel fingers in my pocketbook already.  Last year when he came, I had Mr. Fixit.  That is when the bathroom came apart.  Months of Mr. Fixit, tens of thousands of dollars.  Trauma.  I am reliving the trauma now.  

Was it only a year?  Was it already a year?  Are the Holidays almost upon us?  Soon it will be two years.  I can feel my spirit flagging.  Long, lonesome Covid retirement.  

But save that for later.  I will go to see my mother soon.  Redux.  

Another knock on the door.  

"It doesn't look like much, but there is a lot on the ground.  O.K.?  There isn't much tree work, you know, but there is a lot on the ground.  We are going to take care of it."

Ohhhhh. . . fuck.  

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Endorphins


I don't "do" social media, so I am not the guy to comment on it.  I'm not a Luddite.  I have some faux accounts I use for photography, but I don't use them to keep up with family or friends.  It has never appealed to me.  It is as simple as that.  So take anything I have to say about it with a couple grains of salt.  

Social media is bad for kids they say.  Duh.  Don't they get enough of that face to face in school?  Schools are social torture chambers of competing hierarchies.  Every teen movie ever made is about school losers, geeks and freaks, against those controlling the narrative.  Getting away from school was the reprieve.  

Social media is just more of that.  At least that is what I've come to find.  

I've joined a couple photography groups on Facebook.  That is how I learned (almost) to make those dry plate ambrotypes.  I also correspond with some photographers on Facebook as well.  Once in awhile, I'll post a photo to a group, but by and large, I am not an active part of "the crowd" and am pretty much ignored.  On the dry plate page, for instance, I somehow pissed off the page moderator.  Not somehow.  As you know, I have been having trouble getting my plates into focus.  The fellow who made my Liberator camera said that it was the plate holder.  This all happened publicly on the site.  The moderator doesn't like the fellow who made my camera and he started sending me private messages about it all.  I didn't want to get into a shit show and just didn't respond.  When I post to the site now, he doesn't react.  Nor do the wags who people the site.  It is fine with me as long as I keep getting the technical info that I want and need.  I can be a spook on the channel, so to speak.  

Two days ago, however, I posted a photo that I shot with negative black and white film to a couple related groups--large format and Graflex camera sites--and for whatever reason, they blew up.  The "likes" just kept pouring in--ding, ding, ding!  Wow!  I was a popular kid.  I felt full of endorphins, of course.  

This continued for two days.  Then the fellow who runs the site on which I am a pariah posted something on the other sites related to something I had commented on on his site.  

Nobody responded. 

Ding!  My pleasure button was twanged again.  

I maintain an Instagram site.  Maintain is about the right word because I don't know how these things work.  But. . . yesterday I read an article on how to use hashtags.  I had no idea about this, but I decided to put some on a photo and post it. 

Ding! Ding! Ding!  The "likes" rained.  

Goddamned if I don't think I was getting a chubby.  

I'll never reach those social media heights again, I'm afraid.  I just don't want to.  It is a game like the experiment with the rats pushing the button to get either food or cocaine.  Eventually they starve to death. 

My art dealer has sold a good number of my photographs this year.  I say "good number."  It is a good number for me.  But. . . I want more.  It is like crack.  Give me more.  

If I were Modigliani, of course, it wouldn't be crack, it would be mere bread and a roof.  I am not Modigliani.  Nor am I Bonnard.  I am not earning my living that way.  But the old artists, I think, were playing the same game.  Whose cock would you have to suck this week to get into the most esteemed galleries?  

No, I have gotten enough of that in my life.  There are people who thrive on social acceptance.  They need the clicks whether it is online or in social groups face to face.  It plays its role everywhere, of course.  Even at the factory.  

In trying to please the market, there is certainly a kind of death.  "Art"?  "Soul"?  No, nothing like that.  

Or maybe something.  

What I do know is that being "liked" is its own hell.  There is only one direction from there.  

But as I qualified in the beginning of this little rant, I am not the person to speak to this.  I really don't know much about social media.  

Quarantine has given me some time to play with photos again.  I mean, there was nothing else to do, so I developed some film and scanned it and fooled around in post.  And Voila!  Today's photo.  I took this with my Hasselblad and developed the color film at home.  This still amazes me.  In just about twelve minutes, start to finish, my color film is developed.  And it looks great.  CineStill has made a very good product.  I just haven't any interest in making digital images right now.  Just film.  Big film, too.  Medium and large format.  I developed a roll of 35mm black and white this week, too, and those smaller frames just look puny.  No, I like those big, punchy negatives I get from the larger cameras.  And that is what I'm going to shoot.  

Now to get some cajones.  Oh, it would be better not to have them, I think, to be a female photographer.  I would have more access to things I want to photograph, I believe.  But I have thought about it, and I can't shoot in drag.  It's just not me.  So. . . I need to ride a couple of pumpkins to make my photos, for indeed, it is scary.  Or at least it is for me.  People are so problematic these days.  Nobody seems to be cheering for the old (white, cis-gendered) man with a camera.  I get yelled at just walking down the street with one.  

Speaking tangentially of which. . . I watched the Dave Chappell special on Netflix.  It wasn't funny.  It wasn't even interesting.  It was painful.  It was titled "Closer," but it should have been called "Whiner."  Watch it if you want. . . but don't blame me.  

Still a few more days of lockdown.  That's o.k.  I'm still not feeling great.  Age has probably been a factor. But I cooked my first meal last night.  Made a salad and some spaghetti.  I even opened a bottle of wine.  I didn't lose my sense of taste or smell, but I think they are quite off.  I couldn't drink the wine and the spaghetti just tasted blah.  I'm still not cafe ready.  

One more note.  I have an iTunes station with my name on it.  It is my music and the music the Apple algorithms think I will enjoy.  The station was spectacular yesterday.  A song came on that stunned me.  It was beautiful.  I ran to the computer to see who it was.  Then I sent it around to friends.  I'll admit, no one wrote back in glee.  I looked up the artist to see if all her work was that good.  Nope.  What a terrible shame.  But the one song, I think. . . oo-la-la. 


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

What Do You Mean. . . Art?

Here it is!  Much better!  This be the stuff!  I took two shots of this couple knowing that in all likelihood one, if not both, would be flawed.  The one I posted yesterday was the flawed one.  Colorized, this turned more pastel.  On the banks of the lazy river, Grit City, USA.  Oh. . . just lovely. 

I tried to send copies to the email address they gave me.  Guess what?  It wouldn't go through.  I think no one will ever get the copies I promise them at the moment.  I try.  I do.  One day someone will just gun me down in the street over broken promises.  

"But I tried.  I did.  I had every intention. . . oh. . . . oh. . . ."

Dying for my art.  

Art?  Ha!  Just dying.  Or so it feels.  This Covid shit won't leave me alone.  I felt better one day and thought I was on the Road to Wellville, but then I had a two-day relapse.  Yesterday felt as if death were sneaking up in crepe soled shoes.  I'm living on Tylenol and vitamin C.  Not quite what the Dead sang.  

Maybe today will be the day.  

As I try to write, I am getting text messages from Q and c.c.  The texts are about art and literature, of course, and also about Demon Drink.  Alcohol is the Curse of the Creative Class.  Sobriety is for idiots like Noam Chomsky and his ilk. They seem smart until they have to debate some twisted intellect like Foucault.  Then they look just like what they are--intelligent Kiwanis Club members, always looking for the high moral ground no matter the cost, straight as a gate.  Oh, Chomsky was good with Buckley. . . had him on the ropes. . . but I prefer Hitchens if I have to choose.  Too bad it killed him.  

In the end, though. . . no matter.  Look at Chomsky now.  Or is that the Unabomber?  Or Prufrock?  Nothing in this life is fair.  

The best you can do is not worry too much and enjoy what you can.  That was the advice my dear old dying dad gave me.  "Do what you want," he said.  But you know. . . I've said it before, that's the sticky wicket, eh?  Knowing what you want?  

My dying friend wrote me yesterday that he never planned anything in his life.  It just all happened.  "It's just a shit show," I wrote back.  "It doesn't matter if you plan things or not."

Maybe I'll feel better today.  That would be nice.  I'd like to get out soon and have another look around.  I think I have a couple more things I'd like to photograph.  


Tuesday, October 5, 2021

It Only Takes One of Us to be Alone


My health took a little dip backwards yesterday.  I just didn't feel good.  I was tired and achy and. . . dare I say it. . . weepy.  I didn't do anything.  For half the day I merely lay in bed and listened to music.  Didn't sleep, really, just listened, muted light falling through the shutters, full of sad lyrics from the melancholy music to which I am so prone.  

It's the same dark that falls
On the light that shines
Everything seems to want to hurt this time.

Immobile, hour after hour.  

Late in the afternoon, I rose.  I'd been thinking about the glass plates and the film I'd shot before I got sick.  I needed to develop them.  I got two plates, went to the garage, and put them in the developing tank.  One plate worked, the other didn't.  

I took four sheets of film and put them in the tank.  They worked.  I scanned two.  Those big negatives look almost 3D.  I sat staring at the computer screen.  Color.  Just try to make it look like an old postcard.  Fishing on the banks of Grit City River.  Timeless.  

Surreal existence
Casts its shadows to the blind
Everything seems to want to hurt this time

The music continued, sad and unrelenting.  Bones ached, muscles pained.  

There needs to be a law against this shit.  



Monday, October 4, 2021

How You Walk Through the Fire

I'm out of photos.  I just am.  All I can do now is dig into the wayback and try to find something.  This is from a trip to Cali a few months before everything stopped.  But there is good news.  Covid cases have dropped like a rock in an empty well.  I was fortunate enough to be one of its last victims.  I will work on a poster today with me as poster boy for "The Shittiest Retirement."  

Whatever. 

I woke this morning with a strange realization.  I forgot to change my quilted bed covering on the first day of autumn.  It is a bi-annual ritual.  I have a green one for spring and a red one for autumn.  They are not actually "green" and "red."  That's the way boys talk.  Boys don't have the color vocabulary of girls.  I haven't the words for their actual colors.  They are more subtle and richer by turns.  But the realization saddened me.  I will switch them today.  

I've marked my last relationship by the changing of the duvets.  

I've measured "The Shittiest Retirement" by the same.  

If I were smart, I'd change the whole bedroom scheme.  But I'm not smart.  I'm maudlin.  

Today begins Week II of Covid.  I felt better yesterday, well enough to try a tiny bit of exercise.  And then, as it was early and no one was around, I took a brief walk.  Before that, however, I had stripped the bed and put the sheets and pillowcases in the washer.  When I got home from my walk, I put the sheets in the dryer and took off my clothes.  I threw them in with a load of Covid clothes that went into the washer.  Then I lay down naked on my naked bed and fell dead asleep.  

When I woke, I took my first shower since getting sick.  You know how that goes.  It feels weird.  The grime has settled in and feels like a protective shield.  Once clean, you feel a bit more vulnerable.  I shaved and dressed and, out of necessity and duty, I got the sheets to clothe the bed.  This is not "my thing."  I cannot make a bed worth a damn.  I never learned.  It is a monumental failing, I know, a lifetime embarrassment.  My mother made my bed as a kid.  I never made my bed in college, just pulled everything up and fluffed the pillows.  I still do.  And now (big confession), the maids change the sheets.  

Soooo. . . . how in the fuck do the fitted sheets go on?!?!?!  I have a King Size bed which means it is almost a square.  Why aren't the corners of the fitted sheets labeled somehow?  "Right top" or "bottom left" or something.  I bought expensive sheets with a high thread count (which I've recently read is a waste of money), but they seem too tight.  Perhaps I've done that in the dryer.  I have a variety of pillows, several that are King Size.  How do you get the cases on them gracefully?  I tuck the end of the pillow under my chin, but my arms are too short to reach the bottom of the pillow (and I have long arms).  By the time I had gotten the top sheet on over the very warped fitted sheet and had put the heavy quilted bed cover on top of that several times (nearly square), I was once again covered in sweat.  

I sat down on the couch.  I was tired.  I was weak.  I was done for the day.  

Covid ain't done with me yet.  

Last night I watched the final two episodes of "Sex Education."  That was my Covid show.  Perhaps having finished that series, I will get well.  Today I will do two sets of exercises and a bit longer walk.  I am in the very low viral load phase of my disease now.  

The days have been almost autumnal here with crystal sunlight and long shadows.  I have missed them.  I am opening all the shutters to the world today, though.  I have been a cave dweller long enough.  I will try to run the vacuum today.  I want to feel life's return.  

One good thing having gotten Covid after the vaccines is that I should be about as immune to the disease as an old guy can get.  I will get the booster anyway and a flu shot.  And then, mother permitting, I will travel.  That is the hope, at least.  I will travel into the great Autumnal West and try to invigorate my soul.  

"Soul?  Now you're talking about soul?!?"

Metaphorically.  You know what I mean.  

"There was a time when courtesy and winning ways went out of style, when it was good to be bad, when you cultivated decadence like a taste" (link).  When you were young, you believed Bukowski was right, that what mattered most was how well you walked through the fire.  You spent a lot of time posturing and getting that walk just right.  Later, when it was all over, you began to realize it didn't.  It never mattered how you walked through the fire.  The fire was always going to take you anyway.  

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Recovery


I slept last night without "comfort music" for the first time since infection.  Sure sign of improvement.  I took a mere two Tylenol yesterday, as well.  My neighbor, an anesthesiologist who is in the hospital every day, says my viral load should be pretty low by now.  He said I shouldn't have long term Covid effects since I have been vaccinated.  "It would have been a completely different story if you hadn't."  So. . . good news all around.  

Now I need to move a bit.  I've watched far too much t.v. in my wasted state.  I've only watched one show--"Sex Education."  I am almost finished with Season 3.  It was recommended as a good show for Covid brain, and it was.  It begins as a very silly show and remains so but morphs into something more.  I don't want to oversell it, but if you want to know your kids, it might be good for you to watch.  It riffs on the Disney formula, ineffectual, good-hearted parents, wily kids who have to figure things out, and promotes an even greater diversity.  No, I can't recommend it unless you are sick and need something that doesn't require much of you.  It revealed to me how damaged I am, though.  I would start weeping at unusual times.  I guess it is difficult for someone my age with adolescent tendencies to watch adolescence ascending.  

But last night, I had much more pleasant dreams.  I, too, became trapped in confused adorations.  Of sorts.  

As I've begun feeling better, with nothing to do, I've been sending friends stupid things again.  I've managed to wear most of them out.  I had two "good to see you're still an asshole" texts within a few hours of one another.  One person told me to go "take a nap."  My adolescence is better dished in smaller doses, I guess.  My friends have grown up while I've been playing Peter Pan.  The fly in the ointment as I see it is that they think somehow it makes them wise.  I see mostly disappointment and bitterness.  

I miss having a companion as goofy as I.  

Bored, tired of t.v., I decided to go through my phone messages and delete the unwanted ones.  "What?  You keep phone messages?"  Mostly through sloth, I guess.  I scrolled to the bottom messages.  God, so many years of voice messages.  It is a wonder that my phone still works.  I started by listening to and deleting anything that had only a number and not a name.  Most were shit and got deleted but some were surprising, and those I kept.  I didn't delete anything from my mother.  Then I hit some surprises.  I really don't have many from Ili.  When I came upon the first one, I hesitated.  Then I listened.  There it all was, the excitement, the joy, the love, the anticipation.  I should have stopped there.  It was a downhill ride.  

I could spend the rest of the week deleting messages.  I should be like my more mature friends and just delete them all.  But every time I've ever listened to "mature" voices and gotten rid of things, I've regretted it.  

On the other hand, I carry too many things.  

I will have to shower today.  That means, however, I will need to change the sheets into which I have sweated endlessly.  It will take great effort to strip and remake the king size bed.  It will wear me out and leave me tired, but I do need some exercise.  I imagine I will feel better after that until I look around the house and see the mess that needs to be cleaned.  Entropy is tangible and never-ending.  Especially mine.  

It is, however, time to recover.  But you know what they say--"You can always come back, but you can't come back all the way" (Dylan).