Sunday, June 16, 2024


My computer had been hacked, or so it seemed. Compromised passwords, unknown computers using some apps, some of my info on the Dark Web. I needed to change passwords, so I did. And therein lay a real shit show. It could be easier, but Google and Apple don't like to talk to one another. That was my takeaway. I need Google. They own Blogger. I'm not even sure where Meta comes into play, but it does. FB and IG are owned by them. Google owns YouTube. That's not accurate. Alphabet owns them both. My email is a site, too. Apple, however, wants access to all of that information so that I can run the apps on my iPhone and computers. If I tried to use Safari, Google suggested Chrome. But somehow DuckDuckGo had become my default search engine.  

Are you following? Yea. It's the Great American Free Marketplace. Lovely, huh?  

Having changed passwords, questions were posed, the answers to which I didn't know, so I had to guess. I don't think I guessed well. My iPhone, MacBook, and iMac were no longer talking to one another. I couldn't send or receive email on the MacBook. If I texted from it, the phone and the iMac didn't show it. Holy fucking moly.  

I thought about buying new gear and starting over. I was verging on tears.  

I had to get away from it. I decided to put on my running things and go to the outdoor exercise track for air. I needed to move. I needed to unwind. I grabbed my phone on my way out, though I wasn't sure what it would or could do.  

It was hot, of course, but not overly. I stretched and started limp-walking. It wasn't just my knee. Back, hips. I stopped at one of the stations and did more "limbering" exercises. I love the word. Limber. Nobody says that anymore. Just my mother. 

On the second lap, I stopped at each of the stations to do various exercises, a routine my climbing buddy in Yosemite and I started doing when? Some thirty years ago? No. Longer than that. We used to run five laps, going harder each time around. Then we'd walk to the overpass and sprint up it eight times. I think of those times whenever I come out. We invented the optimum workout, and everyone does some variation of it now. Orange Theory has made a fortune using an indoor version of it. Selavy.  

After the first stop, the pushup station, I don't know what got into me. Yes I do. I'm fat and I will always be fat as long as I don't do cardio. I had done a full hour of it in the gym the day before on an inclined treadmill, an elliptical machine, and a stair stepper. I was terrified afterwards that my knee would blow up, but surprisingly, I felt that I was walking better, not worse. I wanted to get thin. No one was around. I tried a little trot. A stumbly, foot dragging thing, but faster than a walk. I was checking in with my knee. When I hit the downhill portion, I walked. Huh. I have always been a heel runner, but as long as I ran on the balls of my feet, very slowly, maybe. . . .  

Crunches. I got up and started to trot a very slight uphill. The problem was that my body wanted to do my old running pace. It kept going faster. I had to keep tuning it back down. Squats . Trot. Dips and pull-ups. Not really, not since getting run over, so. . . modified dips, hanging rows. Then comes the longest unbroken run of the lap. Trot, trot. Just a little. I'm breathing. My heart rate is up. The body remembers. I walk to the start of the next lap.  

At the end of two miles, I am sweaty and happy. My knee feels o.k. I haven't been able to go faster than a brisk limp for a very long time. I could feel my running muscles. My back and hips had loosened up. I was making deals with God. Let me do this and I'll be a humble and loyal servant. If I can do this, I will quit eating and drinking and. . . and. . . I'll give up self abuse. 

On the way back home, I stopped at the 7-11, got a big bottle of Gatorade, and drank it right down.  

When I pulled into the driveway and got out of the car, I slowly put my weight on my bad knee. No worse, I thought. But when I walked, I knew my muscles were going to be sore. An Epsom soak. A hot shower. I look in the bathroom mirror expecting a slim version of me. I quickly looked away and ran to get dressed.  

I looked at the computer. Shit, piss, fuck, goddamn. I got a text from the gymroid group. I wrote back.  

"Who is this?" one asked.

My name or phone number weren't coming up.  

"It's C.S. My accounts got hacked and when I changed my passwords everything went out of sync. I've been working on this for hours."

"Stay off the porn sites."

"He can't. He's addicted." 

"Goes straight to the furry sites."


I'd make adjustments and write asking them if my name or number came up now.  

"Still Cafe Furry."

Shit piss. . . . 

It was Apple, I was pretty sure. It kept wanting to put information into iCloud storage. I don't want iCloud, but no matter what I did or do, I can't stop them. It wants to store passwords. It populates my apps with information I don't want to share. Remember when Apple was the brand you bought because you didn't want to be a tech head? It was just plug and play. Not anymore. Apple has become Evil. That post-lapserian logo of a bitten piece of fruit is certainly apropos. They are the devil who has gotten us kicked out the garden.

Around four, however, I had given up enough of my information to get everything synched again, and for the moment, at least, I was coming up in texts as my old self. All I could do was cross my fingers and hope everything would work again, but I was pretty sure Google and Apple were still fighting it out.  

Time for mother's. When I stood up, I could feel the soreness in my legs and hips and back. But I was walking better, I thought, without a pronounced limp. I would give up drinking. I would eat only enough to sustain myself.  

My mother was sitting out when I got to her house.  

"Would you like a beer?"

"I'll split one with you," I reluctantly said. And then I remembered that I had not eaten all day. Nothing. Zip. Well, it was only a light beer.  

"Sure," I said.  

My mother told me that she was feeling better. She had sweated out whatever had been plaguing her during the night. She had taken a walk, talked to relatives on the phone, had people stop by. It had been a good day. Still, when I got up to go, I felt the great guilt of leaving her alone even though her social life was much more robust than mine.

I had vegetables to clean and cut. I didn't want to. I stopped at the grocers and got chicken tenderloins. WTF is a chicken tenderloin? I hadn't an idea, but they were cut into convenient strips and were cheap. I'd soak them in teriyaki sauce and throw them in the pan, three minutes per side. That is the magic number for cooking, I've found. Three minutes per side.  

Brown jasmine rice and broccoli. While that cooked and the chicken marinated, I made a Campari and gin.  

"I thought you weren't going to drink?"

"I'll go easy on the gin."


I was feeling good. I was feeling like my old self. An hour of cardio a day. That's the secret. I used to run in the mornings and lift in the late afternoon. I'd. . . I'd. . . try not to hurt myself now.  

"Don't go getting carried away. It won't last."

As Wilde so famously said, "I can resist everything but temptation."  

The phone rang. It was Mr. Tree. I thought for a moment, then I answered. He asked if I'd like to go to dinner with his fiancé and him. I saidI was cooking my dinner just then.  

"Will you be home later?"

"I'm in for the night. Sure."

"I want to drop off your invitation to the wedding."

But he didn't wait until later. I had just dished my meal when he knocked on the door. He was with his fiancé. I asked them in, but they didn't plan on staying. He had forgotten the invitation. The wedding was next Saturday.  

"What's the dress code?" I asked.  


I was hoping for shorts and t-shirts.  

His fiancé smiled nervously. She is Cuban surgeon born in the nineties. She has only known tourist Cuba and its economy. I asked her if she was going to try to pass the medical exams to practice here. She nodded her head uncertainly. A minute more and they were gone.  

After dinner, I cleaned the kitchen and put on a pot of tea. I would be good. No more alcohol for me. I was feeling nearly righteous. I turned on the t.v.  

Piss, shit, fuck, goddamn. My YouTube Premium channel was all fucked up, too. Who was I? Did I want to set up a new account? I pushed buttons. I did things. I am not sure what, but I got a code to scan. A text came to my phone. Was it me? Hell. . . I wasn't sure anymore. I said yes and clicked in with my new passcode.  


But it was like starting over. Maybe that was good. It had part of my old history from long ago. It suggested a documentary on Fitzgerald (link). I clicked on it. The show began and ended with a discussion of Matthew Brucolli, the preeminent Fitzgerald scholar for a very long time. He was a tyrant about the scholarship, however. He believed he owned it. He made enemies. There were interviews with people I had known or met at Hofstra University and in Paris where I presented a paper at the first Fitzgerald/Hemingway International Conference. My session was in the early morning. I was hoping no one would be there. Sitting right in front of me, however, was the man Brucolli himself. I was nervous and hurrying. Brucolli yelled at me to slow down. I was taken aback and quite afraid that he would rip my presentation apart as insipid, stupid, and lazy. My hands were shaking, but I settled down. Brucolli closed his eyes but didn't yell out again or ask me questions. People came up to tell me what a fine job I had done when I was done. I was asked if I could submit something to a book one professor was editing. It would have to wait, I said, until I finished my dissertation.  

I paused the show to make a mug of Golden Milk. I was sticking with the plan. Fitzgerald drank himself to death. Maybe the show was helping. I sat back down and continued watching, thinking. I had been a scholar once. As I watched, I got an itch. I could do it again. These scholars and experts were not intimidating. But when they read long passages from Fitzgerald's work, I wanted to weep. He was too good. He knew that life could never be as good as it had been again. He knew he and Zelda had hit their zenith. Read Gatsby and then read Tender Is the Night. It all went so quickly, that talent, like powder in a flame.  

"The light that burns brightest burns half as long." So they say.  

I woke up this morning feeling stiff, fat, and sore. My light ain't burning bright. I'll cook for my mother tonight. Maybe I'll have some wine. And maybe I'll read again.  

Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes — a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.

And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther... . And one fine morning ——

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.


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