Saturday, January 6, 2024

Bitch and Cry and Whine

What will I whine, cry, and bitch about today?  This pic was from my road trip last Saturday.  Was it Saturday or Sunday?  I'm too lazy to go back and look it up.  But this was the day.  It was an unusual one this fall and winter in the formerly Sunny South.  This is what winter usually looks like here.  Not this year.  The skies are constantly overcast.  Today it is raining.  All the live-long day.  I must find activities consistent with the day.  Reading, culling images. . . cafe hopping?  

The gloom is real. I think of the ending of James Joyce's "The Dead."  

You haven't read "The Dubliners"?  Really?  Huh?  There is one of life's true pleasures.  Joyce in his Chekhovian style.  You haven't read Chekhov?  Really?  Huh.  Well. . . what can I tell you.  You know such things were all the rage once, right?  They were.  Before TikTok.  It's true.  

Maybe I'll go for an early big breakfast.  Bacon, eggs, potatoes, toast.  I'm afraid I am not losing weight now.  I feel as if I haven't.  I've not been as careful with my diet this week.  Alcohol abstinence should be enough I want to believe.  Taking away everything all at once. . . well, it's difficult.  I should be allowed breakfast.  

But the gods don't work that way.  

"You're fat.  You did this to yourself."

"Well. . . I think you helped."

"How's that?"

"All the shit you've thrown my way in the past few years, all the things you've taken.  You haven't been helping me much at all."

"Oh. . . really?  You think you've had it rough?  Ho-ho-ho.  I'll show you rough."

"O.K., O.K. . . O.K.  So I haven't had it that rough."

"You've had it pretty good, old sport.  You have no idea."

"No. . . I swear. . . I know, I know, I know. . . I'm an ingrate.  I shouldn't complain."


Contentment through fear, so to speak.  "It could be a lot worse.  Be grateful."

That's the bottom line, isn't it?  That's what keeps us in check. 

Yea, I will go to breakfast when this is done.  And I'll feel sorry after.  

My friend must be in Singapore by now.  I think about that, about Thailand and Malaysia.  I am envious.  She came into a lot of money, I guess.  She is traveling all the time.  She's making the most of it.  Fearless, she is, an only child, like me, and child free.  While her father was still alive. . . but now. . . .  

It used to be mandatory that intrepid travelers learned to draw.  Before cameras, it was the only way to let people know what was out there, what you saw.  Drawing, too, sharpened the "eye," the awareness and perception of the details of things.  

I should have learned to draw.  At least to sketch.  

I have many regrets.  

I need to shake this gloom.  Yesterday, I was sitting behind a young woman in the Cafe Strange having a cafe con leche.  I would have guessed her to be eighteen or so, blonde, tight short skirt, frilly baby doll socks and black shoes, and a crop top over which she wore a light down jacket.  I didn't take her for what she was.  In a bit, a young man walked in to join her.  She stood up to greet him and then he sat next to her.  I heard her ask him some questions.  It seemed they knew one another, but maybe not.  In a minute, she had launched excitedly into some branding campaign.  It was about a coffee line.  Her voice was quick and certain and the pitch seemed perfect.  She was talking about the line's brand in precise, descriptive terms.  She talked about animated video and color palates and styling.  Again, she sounded like Madison Avenue.  Eventually I understood that the fellow was a videographer.  He pulled out his phone and showed her some clips.  I could see them.  They were good.  I was fascinated.  She turned her head and I could see her in profile.  There was no way she could be over twenty.  I wouldn't think twenty.  The fellow, either.  Maybe it was a class project, I thought.  Maybe they were from the private school at which an old girlfriend used to teach.  I used to chaperone on trips once in awhile.  They were very sophisticated kids.  I don't know.  I could not figure it out, but I realized what a stupid dumb shit I have become.  That girl had a vocabulary better than mine.  Her sophistication was miles ahead of my own.  In isolation, while my self-esteem has dropped, I've let my esteem for others fall even further.  I've been out of the factory too long.  I have forgotten things.  I have forgotten how unexpectedly amazing people can be.  This girl or young woman or whatever she was had just knocked me out.  I thought of all the conversations I have not been having, all the intellectual debating I've been missing.  I've become the only genius in the room.  Ho!  

Kids are smart.  I'm sharpening my wit on buffoons.  

So. . . there's a little insight I gained on yesterday's outing. 

Or am I merely nonplussed?  

I have to find a way back in.  

I knew I was going to end up whining today.  I could feel it in my achy bones.  But as I've said. . . I'm down.  

Q sent me a link to Garry Winnogrand's new, posthumous book of color photography.  I YouTubed it and found a video walkthrough of the volume.  It was impressive, so I ordered the book.  It should be here next week.  

The thing that struck me as I watched the video was how much richer the world looked from the 40's through the early sixties.  Elaborate signage, elaborate dress, cars with details and lines.  People in the city all looked like fashion models just walking down the streets.  Hats and jackets and pencil dresses and pleated pants.  Good haircuts and makeup.  Men and women.  Colors popped.  There wasn't the "sameness" we are inundated with now, everything standardized, everything plastic and bland.  

I thought of the girl and the Cafe Strange.  It is the only place in town that people bother to dress.  The "costumes" are off-beat and often elaborate.  It is visual.  And I'll be damned, some of them are smart!  I need to figure out a way to document that place, that crowd.  

Maybe breakfast will pick me up.  I'm going to do it.  

Out of the house and into the clouds and rain and . . . whatever.  


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