Wednesday, July 10, 2024


No car.  O.K.  I'll ride the bike.  But first, strip the bed and get the sheets and pillowcases into the washer.  Outside, they are digging up my yard again.  It gets worse each time.  Today, they are running underground conduits from the street to my electrical box on the back of the house.  Many men walk around my yard, onto my deck, and into the alleyway between my house and the fence.  The maids are coming and will need electricity.  I walk out among the workers to ask if they will be cutting the power.  Nice guy says no, they are just running conduit.  He doesn't say that, exactly, but that's what I think.  I put away cameras and bags and other paraphernalia that the maids would have no idea what to do with.  I dress for the gym and go to the garage to pump the tires on the bicycle that I haven't ridden in, what. . . a year?  Two years?  And then maybe only once.  

I search for the pump.  I can't find the pump.  I look at the mess in the garage, make plans.  I find the pump.  

I have always had trouble attaching the pump hose to the tire valve.  The tires are flat, so the valve sinks in when I try to push the attachment on to lock it.  I push the valve from the flattened tire's backside.  Once.  Twice.  My knee and back are killing me.  I straighten up, curse.  I try it again.  It feels attached.  I pump, but the air won't flow.  I reach down and detach the hose and try again.  


Front tire.  I am unable to get the clamp on the valve for ten minutes.  I am sweating, hurting.  I painfully sink to the cement floor and try.  And then. . . dumb.  Just dumb.  I have the clamp's switch in the wrong position.  I have it for releasing, not attaching the hose.  

Tools and me.  


The bike is a fifteen year old fat tire trail bike.  Leaning on the low handlebars is uncomfortable.  I've never liked bike riding because my arthritic neck makes it painful to lean forward and put pressure on my left arm, but since the accident, the shoulder hurts as much or more.  But it is unavoidable on this bike.  As I ride, I wonder if I could put on a different set of handlebars that let me sit more upright instead of in the forward racing position.  Surely.  But then I think I am just a baby and what I need to do is ride enough so that I get stronger in those broken parts.  That is the dumb logic I have always used.  

I pedal the 3.5 miles to the gym.  I am sweaty when I walk in.  The gym is fairly empty.  All my gymroid friends are out of town.  I workout without talking and am done in half the time.  I check my phone.  No call from the repair shop.  

Back home.  I think to shower, but I get a text from the cleaning crew.  They are on their way.  What to do?  I decide to ride my bike to the cafe.  One of the crew tearing up my yard watches me get on my bike and says, "Brave man."  He means the heat, and I think he's kidding since they work all day in it, rain or shine.  But he's chatty.  A nice fellow.  We kibitz a while, then the maids pull into the driveway.  I talk with Lamine, the small, Ethiopian man who runs the cleaning crew.  The crew is sitting on my front door stoop eating lunch.  

"Lamine, they can sit at the table."

He shrugs.  I'm off.  

There is a steep hill I must climb.  It is only two block long, but my legs are burning.  As I top out, I am breathing like I have run a sprint.  My lung capacity has been reduced from the accident.  It is embarrassing.  But, I think, I can fix it.  I need to ride up hills every day.  

But I won't, I think.  I just won't.  I remember lying in the hospital, the left side of my body broken in pieces, thinking, "If anyone can come back from this, I can."  But I also remember thinking, "It is O.K.  As long as I can function, I'll be O.K.  I don't need to do all that anymore.  I just want to be able to sit in cafes and talk with my girl.  My brain is good.  I will be interesting.  Good company."

I guess I knew how bad it was.  

But I've done a good job.  Maybe I will ride hills and see.  

12:30.  The cafe is empty.  I've never seen it empty before.  No gaggles of girls in costumes.  Only an old guy sitting with a beer at the small bar.  The cute girl behind the counter isn't so cute.  She can be, but she isn't today.  She doesn't seem cheerful, either.  I am sweaty.  I need something hydrating.  Is green tea hydrating?  Maybe a beer.  Neither, really, but I don't want a sugar drink.  I settle on the tea.  

I sit, open my courier bag, and take out my journal, glasses, and pen.  But I am blank.  I had put a small camera in the courier bag, too, but I didn't see things.  I just concentrated on riding.  Riding a bike did not make me feel creative.  It made me think 'Point A. . . point B."  I am no better now.  I write nothing, then more nothing.  I write things I have written before.  I look at the time.  Ten minutes have past.  I'm cast out of my own home, exiled to a cafe to sit and wait.  All I can think of are practical al things.  The car, of course.  Food.  Drink.  Basic life stuff.  Survival.  

After an hour, I depart the empty cafe and ride across the street to the liquor store.  The price of scotch has shot up once again.  It had gone down to its pre-covid price of $29.  Now, in just one week, it has shot up to $47.  I will quit drinking, I think.  How many months would I have to quit drinking to make up for the cost of the auto a.c.?  I calculate.  It is an embarrassingly few months.  I put two bottles in my courier bag and head home.  

The maids are gone. I think they have been rushing, but there were four of them, so it is probably fine.  A man is on my deck using my hose and my broom to clean the planks.  He grins.  

"I thought I'd clean our mess off the deck," he says.  I nod and step into the house.  It is after one.  I am wet with sweat, but I am hungry having not eaten anything yet.  I open a can of sardines from Whole Foods, some brand I've never seen.  The sardines are big and fat unlike the skinny things you get in popular brands.  I grab some crackers and. . . fuck it. . . a beer.  The sardines, crackers, and beer are good.  I check emails as I eat.  I read a free article from Vanity Fair.  They want to sell me the magazine again, only a dollar a month.  I cancelled my subscription years ago when they got a new editor who made the magazine "Woke."  I preferred the old corruption, the ads for expensive watches and shoes I would never buy and stories about the dastardly lives of royalty and would-be royalty.  "Murder in Darien," and that sort of thing.  I could get the sort of progressive commentary the magazine gave anywhere.  I didn't need to pay for it.  The magazine sucked.  It got thin.  They had fewer and fewer articles.  

I've noticed a change in content lately, though.  It is less about identity politics and the struggles of privileged women whose suffering had been unconscionably yoked to those of minorities here and around the world.  There was more of the old sparkling frivolity again.  

I don't need a lecture.  I need to be transported.  I have the Times, the Post, and U.S. News and World report along with NPR and PBS for the other.  That field is fairly crowded.  

Maybe I'll spend a buck.  

Lunch done, I dip into a hot Epsom Salts soak.  It feels good.  I fairly doze.  Then a shower.  Then a brief nap.  I get up at 4:30.  I call my mother.  

Five.  A Campari. I feed the cat.  It has rained while I slept.  The heat of the day has been broken.  I put a towel on the wrought iron chair and sit while the cat eats.  A sprinkle starts.  I go inside.  I check my phone.  Nothing from the auto repair shop.  It's o.k.  I have food.  I am not in need.  The house is clean.  I'll have to dirty the kitchen, though.  I chop red pepper and garlic and sauté it while I chop the tofu and soak it in teriyaki sauce.  I heat the noodles and spices in bone broth and water.  It all goes in a big bowl together with the pack of sauce.  It is a big bowl.  I test it.  Oh. . . it is missing avocado.  I have none.  It is o.k.  But drats.  

It is still too early, but I feel under house arrest.  I turn on "Babylon Berlin."  But. . . what the fuck. . . it is in English.  It is a terrible dub.  All the voices sound the same.  I go to the options.  I can't change it back to German with English subtitles.  Last night it was in German, but tonight it is only dubbed.  The show seems lousy now.  I think about AI and how it will be able to dub shows using the original actor's voice.  Surely that will make a world of difference.  The dub I have tonight is the worst I've ever heard.  

But house arrest being what it is, I watch two episodes.  It is still early, but I go to bed.  

I wake every hour with pain.  My back, but the pain has shifted.  My knee.  Long before dawn, I give up and rise.  I have options, one of which is to go back to bed with the sun.  I might, but I fear I won't sleep.  

My car should be ready sometime today.  I will ride my bike to the gym, and if it is ready after that, I will ride to the car place.  If not, I will Uber later on.  

Maybe then, I will get creative again.  

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