Lockdown Diary – The Pavilion

Opening shot: Satellite view of Earth, zooming in Google Earth-style on Europe, then Austria, then general vicinity of Vienna, then small village, then backyard of a house, then flames and sound of explosion and fire.
Man rushes out of house with fire extinguisher, puts out fire, cursing.
Man: Goddamn it.
Woman: Oh, you’re busy.
Woman: I have another job for you when you’re done with the satellite fire.
Man: Ok.
Woman: We need to put the curtains on the pavilion.
Man sighs
Man: Ok
Woman: Here. The mosquito net curtain elements have a hook on the outside, so I think they go on the outside. Remember last time we put them on the inside and there was nowhere for the hook to go?
Man: I guess.
Man snaps grommets along top edge of mosquito curtain element to plastic hooks on outside rail.
Woman: Here is the next one, see, the numbers match.
Man snaps next one in place.
Man tries to zip the two elements together. Although the numbers and zip elements match, the two elements do not reach each other. One is too long the other too short.
Woman: Hm.
Man finds pliers in cellar, returns to carefully remove elements again, unsnapping metal grommets from fragile plastic hooks of which they have only one extra.
Woman: Look this is the long side and this is the short side. So these go there.
Man: Ok (snaps all four mosquito curtain elements in place along the outside rail.
Woman: Wait, hang on.
Man:
Woman: Look, the heavier shade curtains have these slits in them. They must be for the hooks in the other, mosquito curtain elements. That makes more sense – then the mosquito curtain elements would be on the inside, protected from cats.
Man: So I should take all these back down?
Woman: Yes.
Man: Ok.
Man: I need to go brush my teeth.
Man brushes teeth, sighs, carefully unclips the four mosquito elements.
Neighbor 1, observing from balcony: Vat are ze rules of ze pavilion drinking game again?
Neighbor 2, observing from another balcony: Venever dey remove a curtain element hung in error, ve must drink a J├Ągermeister.
Neighbor 1: Dey will take all afternoon and I am already drunk.
Man checks which is the long and which the short side of the heavier shade curtain elements, carefully clips one onto the proper place on the outside rail.
Woman: Wait a second. Let’s look at the website.
Woman looks at website, finds the entry for the pavilion which has a tiny, unenlargeable thumbnail image from which it is impossible to tell if the mosquito curtain elements are on the inside rail or the outside rail.
Woman: Let me call the store.
Woman calls store, actually finds someone who actually finds her order for the pavilion in the computer but has to look for the instruction manual but can’t find it so will have to find someone with more expertise who will call back.
Man: This is the most logical arrangement. Let’s just put it together.
Man: I’m not mad at you. This is just frustrating, clipping the metal grommets onto the fragile plastic hooks, then removing them again, the metal grommets are made of soft but sharp metal, and we have only one spare hook so I’m afraid of breaking them.
Man hangs first shade element onto outside rail.
Woman: No, look, the short side is where the long side should be. That goes over there, not here.
Neighbor 1: OMG
Man and woman hang outside elements where they belong, then inside elements.
Woman: Ok now about assembling those hammocks.
Man wonders if he would die instantly if he stabbed himself with a knitting needle in the brain, or if it would hurt first, or if he would only lobotomize himself, and what it’s like to be lobotomized, subjectively it might be nice.
Man: Tomorrow.
Woman: But it’s so warm today. (looks at weather app) and tomorrow it’s 1 degree cooler.
Man: Let me write a blog post first.
Woman (on the phone with furniture company that sold them the pavilion, complaining about the hooks)
Woman: They said to send them a picture of the hooks. Maybe I can get a refund.
Man: Ok.

Lent

If I, for Lent, get rid of all my bullshit
what remains?
family
animals
a toolbox
a pair of boots
cans of beans
two pairs of blue jeans
rope and string
a couple knives
pots and pans
a sweater from Ireland
my father’s obituary
some photographs
friendships
an eye for beauty
a sense of humor
a couple belts
glasses
hearing aids and batteries
toothbrush and paste
t-shirts, flannel shirt
secret portal
pasta
more, to be decided

Eye like mouth

A play in one act.
Living room. Three people watching TV. Two women, mother and daughter on one sofa. Man lying on second sofa.
Man: I was walking down the stairs at the train station and got real dizzy and realized it was because I had forgotten to breathe.
Woman 1: OMG you do that too? Mom doesn’t believe me that I do that.
Man: I think it’s related to tension.
Woman 1: So do I. See, mom?
Woman 2: Hm.
Woman 1: When the doctor was cutting open my incision she stopped and said, “please keep breathing.”
Man: Yee. (Watches TV)
Women 1 & 2: (Watch TV)
Man: Oh geeze.
Woman 1: What?
Man: That guy being interviewed’s right eye, on the left on the screen, looks like a mouth and every time he blinks it looks like it’s closing and opening, with an eyeball inside. I think it’s due to his minimal eyebrows.
Woman 1:
Woman 2:
Man: It looks like a mouth!

The Light of Peace

On Christmas Day
we celebrated at our house
I picked up my in-laws at their house
and drove them to our house.
They are old and wobbly
and there are lots of stairs
so it took a while to get them into my car
also my mother-in-law had a flame
the Light of Peace
that had come all the way from Jerusalem
that she wanted to share with us
and we had to be careful with that
so as not to light anything on fire
and especially not let it go out.
it was in the form of a candle, protected in a little
wood and glass lantern type thing.
she put that into a pot and carried the pot
for extra protection of all involved.
the light, as i understand it, someone goes to jerusalem
and sets something on fire from the Light of Peace there
and hurries back with it before it goes out
then they light more things on fire
and take them to churches
where people come and light other things, usually candles
and take them home
where the Light of Peace
shines on Christmas.
their neighbor had gone to church to get a flame
and come over and lit their candle for them
doubling the Light of Peace.
all the way to my house it smelled like something was burning
in my car but it was only the Light of Peace.
at my house everyone stood around
and watched
while I took out our candle
or rather put their candle-lantern thing into a larger lantern
of ours
a big glass affair
and took our candle and a long wooden match
with which to transfer the Light of Peace to our new candle
while leaving their candle burning
thus doubling yet again the Light of Peace
but instead, with the large match, I pressed the first candle’s wick
into the melted wax
extinguishing the Light of Peace
undeniably, before five witnesses
fuck, I said.
it’s like that Jack London story with the trapper starting a fire in winter,
i said
but none of them were Jack London fans.

Fuller Disclosure (Full Disclosure Part II)

Beta: (Returns from exotic mission to exotic country XYZ)
Beta: Boy, am I tired.
Beta: (Reads blog post)
Beta: Hrm.
Beta: Dad, if kidnappers kidnap you they want ransom. So your family would already know.
Mig: Uh…
Beta: Especially if they cut off your fingertip. It would be used to emphasize their ransom demand. So your family would already know about that too. Your train of thought makes no sense.
Mig: It was a fresh train of thought, I was still in the midst of thinking it, I hadn’t examined it for logical consistency yet.
Beta: (Raises one devastating eyebrow devastatingly)
Mig: Fresh, I tell you.

Full disclosure

Mig: Hi. Watcha doin’?
Gamma: Well I was going to do yoga but I got stuck taking tests online.
Gamma: I wondered if I could name 20 elements, so I took a quiz, then I fell down a quiz hole for an hour.
Mig: Ah.
Mig: Your mother asked me what I was thinking. I said, well, I was thinking if someone kidnapped me and cut off the tip of one of my fingers, and then released me but threatened my family if I told anyone, if I would tell anyone. And how long it would take her to notice one of my fingertips was missing.
Gamma: Ah.
Gamma: Well, actually, full disclosure, I was thinking, if we were on a quiz show where they killed you if you didn’t know the answer, would I be able to name 20 elements.
Mig: Ah.

Family history

The quick, brown fox could no longer remember whether it had already written a post on a certain topic, or not, but figured if that was the case (that it had forgotten) then anyone else potentially out there in the aether reading this couldn’t either, so why worry?

Alpha, as you know, is looking into family history. We are slowly, as in a couple years down the road, lining up trips to Ireland and Scotland (near the single-malt whisky trail, apparently) to look at where some of my people are from, but for now she is concentrating on her side of the family.

Her father’s people were miners. They worked in an iron mine that dates back to Celts and Romans. She has spent time in archives and churches going through centuries’ worth of birth and death records.

I have already written about this, haven’t I? It feels so familiar.

Miners were the first workers to unionize in Austria (I think). And there were times when the unions were strong, and wages were okay, and living conditions were relatively healthy. And there were times when the unions got busted, and new workers imported from somewhere else, and pages and pages of death records were full of whole families all dying of the same disease at the same time because people were malnourished and crammed into crowded housing.

There was no endless progress from darkness and misery to light and prosperity. Prosperity and health of these ancestors depended on how strong their union was, because the natural tendency of the mine owners, whether church or state or someone else, was to squeeze as much as possible out of them; they had no interest in the welfare of the miners, and revoked what prosperity the miners had once achieved whenever possible.

Pages and pages of people dying at the same time as some sanitation-based epidemic or another burned through the village.

PS break up Facebook, google, Apple, Twitter, all those guys.