This is how Christmas is now, skinny, barren trees with pretty, happy TikTok images. Or so it seems.
O.K. That's stupid. I'm just trying to pretend that this is a good or meaningful photo. It's not, but I haven't anything else. Well, I do, but I've already told that story. I mean, there are more photos, but I am sure you are done with that part now. So I travel on through life's narrative, such as it is. Sometimes, though. . . well. . . do you ever watch "Saturday Night Live"? Not if you are under 30, of course. But you have, and you know it is often straining to be funny. It often isn't, quite, though they touch on things of near interest. They make mistakes like ridiculing the way people they don't like look or making fun of Joe Biden's stutter. They have their moments, but they only do 21 shows a season. I looked it up. They have, give or take, 26 writers per episode. Yea. . . I looked that up, too. And still, you know. . . only a few parts of the show really work in 93 minutes. Yes. . . 93 minutes. You can look it up.
So. . . what chance do I have to produce a great photograph and 500 to 1,500 words of great writing every day?
Look it up.
So that's the Photo of the Day.
I thought about it yesterday while I was sitting at the bar. Which bar? What were you doing at a bar? Who were you with?
Oh, yea, the old "who what when where and how." Those are good principles, but sometimes a good writer leaves a mystery in the realm.
I won't. . . necessarily.
After the stale Moon Drops didn't seem to work, after I wrote yesterday's post, I went back to bed. For a long time. I think I was in bed from ten until two. Can that be right? I mean, that's a long effing time. Was I sick or simply bored? I can't say. I had plans to go out with cameras to the hipster markets. It was a fine and sunny day. I should have. But I stayed in bed. And when I got up, I felt terrible. Not physically. I felt emotionally bad. Vulnerable, I guess. Sad because I stayed in bed on a beautiful and potentially productive day. The voodoo got me, I guess. Maybe I was fearful of walking around with cameras in a crowd. I don't expect you to believe me at face value, but I swear to you it is true that people stare at me in crowds. I'm one of those guys, I guess. I get remembered like Quasimodo, I reckon. When I walk by families, they all just stare. Mothers will pull their daughters close. It's worse when I have a camera. People throw rocks and sticks and punch me. It is awful.
O.K. That is how I feel at times, anyway. And yesterday I did feel like Quasimodo for having stayed in the bell tower so long. I fretted about it for another hour, but by three I had decided to take a walk. I took my new Leica M7 along because I have yet to shoot the entire roll of black and white film I put in when I got it. How long ago now? I haven't been able to shoot 36 pictures? Nope.
I felt good at first, walking slowly but without a limp. That didn't last too long. Within a quarter mile, I was waddling again, short stepping on my bad leg. I had a long way to go.
Oh, look. . . some chairs overlooking the lake. Click. Oh, look. . . there are some more. Click.
Passersby glared at me as if I were committing a crime. So it seemed.
Look at the light and shadows on that wall. Click.
"Did you just take a picture of my house!!!"
I limped along across the Country Club College campus. Something was going on. A lot of things. There were people everywhere. Not students. Families. The Bach Choir was going to perform in the beautiful chapel. There was a dance concert in the theater next door. I limped along. People pointed.
"Look, mommy. . . that man has a CAMERA!"
Other than the limping along, none of that happened. I'm just trying to put you in my head. These are the thoughts implanted by an ex-girlfriend. I can't shake them.
The streets were busy. There was a lot going on. The holidays won't last much longer. Then there is the horrible deadness of the New Year, the blank waiting for. . . what? Easter? Holy shit. . . we'd better enjoy this while we can.
Happy people celebrating. I need to smile, I think to myself, but my knee is hurting. It is difficult. I try, though. I feel my tortured gait and grim smile that is not a grim smile but a grimace.
Down the Boulevard. I see people I know. I say hello. O.K. That is pleasant. I come upon a group of young girls in matching dresses and sashes that say they are beauty pageant contestants. They stand in a group while women line up to take cell phone photos. Oh, shit. . . I can't pass this up. I put my camera to my eye. The women all look at me in horror.
"Run," I think. "They are going to start yelling or calling for help."
But I can't run, of course.
That didn't happen, either. The women were nice and smiled and apologized and let me pass through. Again. . . just trying to let you peak inside my misshapen skull.
I come to the end of the Boulevard and pass back onto the college campus. A friend is driving by. He pulls into a parking lot and I walk over. We don't see one another much anymore. Time and circumstance. We both were once recognizable participants in the village's tremendous social scene. He's funny, quick witted, smart. We talk too long.
"Give me a ride home," I say. It is late. I need to go see my mother.
There is not enough time to shower. I go over in my gym clothes. The woman from across the street is there with her two dogs. One of them stinks terribly always, even after a trip to the groomer. My mother and I have yet to figure this out. But the dog loves me. It recognizes my car and comes running. I have to pet it. It is a sweet dog and I am a lover, but god, it stinks.
"She doesn't do that to anyone else but you."
"I wonder why she likes me so much?"
The woman thinks I am funny. She tells me I need to come over for dinner anytime I want. I don't tell her that does not appeal to me. I just grin. In an hour, I head home.
There is a neighborhood party at the lake. As I drive home, the neighbors are walking in groups in the street carrying food and drinks. They are going to watch the annual Christmas Boat Parade. I don't want to go. It is torture. For FAR too long, motor boats drive around the huge lake slowly showing off their string of lights, people hooting and hollering like they are watching the winning Super Bowl touchdown.
I shower. No, I won't go. I used to love the neighborhood parties when I was married. We were social creatures then. I felt the warm communal glow. We were all young. Well, no. They were. And I felt it. And so my young wife and I would go out among the crowd and chat silly chat and I would try not to be too weird. These were not hip people but straight arrows who thought it a crazy time if everyone smoked a little dope. I never liked smoking pot, so I was the straight one with a glass of whiskey. Much later, I had a girl who was as shy of crowds as I and didn't mind my weirdness. I got used to eschewing people. It was nice, a universe of two.
Now, Quasimodo stays in the rectory at night.
I decided to go up to the good Mexican-ish restaurant. I wanted a spicy skinny Margarita, I didn't want to cook. Steak tacos with beans and rice.
"Welcome back," said the bartender. She remembered me.
"Where's your friend?"
Oh. O.K. She remembered me. . . sort of.
As I sat at the bar, I scoured the room evaluating the crowd. I was a secret agent, I giggled, always aware of his environment. Where were the dangers? But my mind wandered.
"You need to write about something else. You write too much about women and the desire for your own true love."
"What? I mean. . . I don't write about sex. Only love. . . or the lack thereof."
"There are other things. Nobody gives a constant shit about how you feel. Well, most people don't. The rest of them are happy that you are miserable."
"I'm not miserable. I'm melancholy and contemplative."
"So you say again and again. Got it!"
"Fuck you. You try writing. You like to talk about your "journey through life" bullshit like you have been reading another self-fucking-help book. But you don't write about it. You just imagine you are "on a journey" like it says in serif font printed on the front of your mostly empty notebook. Fuck you and the Great Silent Majority."
"Easy, motherfucker. You don't know what I write and what I don't. I don't have to wash my laundry in public. Everyone sees your underwear drying on the line."
"Ha! I don't wear underwear."
"Would you like another?"
"Sure. Otre por favor." I grin. She grins back.
I shouldn't have ordered another. I come with the rich gymroids and they overtip for the recognition, so the bartenders. . . well. . . I watch her give me a triple pour. Two shots and an over-stream of tequila. She clears the plate from the bar in front of me. I take a sip. Yea. . . I shouldn't finish this. I hold up my card. I can't read the bill. I can't see the total, don't know how much to tip. I squint. I put the bill under the light beneath the bar. I think I can make it out. Is that a five or an eight? Jesus. I do my best.
"I hope this is right. I don't have my glasses."
"Do you want me to check it for you?"
"I think you had better."
It was right. O.K., I say and get up to limp away. She looks at my half full glass.
"Was it o.k.?" She looks concerned.
"Yes, it was wonderful. I'm going home to drink some scotch." I smile. She nods dubiously.
I light a cheroot and pour some whiskey. I sit on the deck. People are coming back from the neighborhood party. My neighbors come by. They seem pretty lit.
"Do you want a drink?"
The decline. They stay awhile and we recant tales. They say everyone was asking about me. It is a joke. They say I didn't miss much. I knew that already. Several times they are ready to leave, but several times we launch into another story. When they walk across the yard to their house, it is nine.
I determine that tomorrow will be different. I will get on track, I tell myself. I will get out early. I will get things done. I will quit whining, stop all the drama, quit projecting melodrama.
But, then. . . what will I write? Maybe I will get some math textbooks. I have taken many, many math courses in acquiring my zoology degree. I never liked the courses. Maybe calculus. But I don't remember any of it, and now, years away from it, I want to study it for the pure poetry of the symbolic language of concepts. Surely I could write fascinating things about my vision of mathematics, not from a technical point of view which is how my classes were taught, but from the conceptual vision of symbolic reality. I'll spend one hour a day starting with algebra. I can probably whiz through it since I once knew it. . . poorly.
The thought makes me giggle. It would be beautiful, I am sure, but I don't want to spend an hour a day with math. I should, though. I know I could have a fascinating take.
"You're so full of shit. You know what you are going to do. You are going to whine your way through Christmas and tell us you're a stoic. It's maddening."
Look. Here's a Christmas card for you. There is a duality to it. Black and White. The Good Angel and the Bad Angel. See? That is what I mean.
"Get it? No. . . I don't think you get it. You don't read close enough. There is more here than you see on the surface. Trust me. I'm a famous scholar. . . almost."
"I'll tell you what you are. . . almost. You're almost full of shit. Ha! That's what you are."
"Yea, yea, yea. . . that, too. We can continue this later. Tonight. Over drinks."