Before sunrise

Three deer barely visible in a dark field beside a dark forest. Smokestacks here and there dispensing smoke or steam into the sky. Everything is grey and washed-out, nothing is grey, it’s already vibrating with potential color. The black naked trees are already deep brown if you look at them closely.

“So how was the mental hospital? Was it scary?”
“I didn’t think so. Just sad. That one lady screaming all the time because she thought everyone was poisoning her.”
“Not the one who thought she was being anally raped?”
“No, the poisoning one was doing the screaming.”

Beta is writing a paper on familial murder-suicide for school and met with a psychiatrist yesterday.

“The mental hospital seemed sad when your great-grandma was there. We all drove up, but then only dad went in to visit her and the rest of the family waited in the car in the parking lot.”

It was a 1969 (I think) Pontiac station wagon. Blue. We had a 3-pound coffee can in the back seat, empty, for when us kids had to pee on long trips.

“She was in for manic-depression. I don’t know if they sent her in while she was depressed, or manic, or how that works. She got electroshock treatment. I don’t think it did her any good, to put it mildly. They stopped using electroshock for a long time. Now they’re using it again. I hear they’re being more careful with it.”

A friend of mine told me a story about fixing a lamp and touching the wrong wire and being knocked clear off the ladder onto the floor. At first she hoped it had given her new mental powers. When I was little I touched an electric fence and my hand closed around the wire and I couldn’t let go. I was standing in a wading pool at the time. I used to wonder if that was what made me so much smarter than the other kids in my class. Now I just wonder whether my parents had taken out a large life-insurance policy on me around that time.

Yesterday Beta played a new piece on the harp that sounded just like sunlight on water.

Last weekend I played bowing exercises on the cello that made my kids want to learn cello.

The sun’s up. Lately I prefer the dark.

Posted in The Bug


La F

Last night, around bedtime.

    Mig: You want to what?
    Beta: Poke you in the ear with a skewer and you tell me where you feel it.
    Mig: Okay.
    Beta: [Pokes her father in the ear with shish-kebab skewer]
    Mig: My left shin. Interesting.
    Beta: [Pokes father in other ear]
    Mig: My right arm. Where’d you get the idea to do this?
    Beta: Traditional Chinese medicine.
    Mig: I wonder if Marie Curie’s dad let her experiment on him. Want some of this absinthe Anne gave me?
    Beta: That’s that stuff.
    Mig: Your mom says I’m not supposed to drink it because artists used to drink it and it made them crazy.
    Beta: Uh huh.
    Mig: But I think this is made without wormwood. They used to have like spoons with holes over the glass and a sugar cube in them and an ice cube over the sugar cube and it would melt and dissolve the sugar cube.
    Beta: They don’t sound like busy people.
    Mig: Want a taste?
    Beta: I’ll drink it by the sink so I can spit it out.
    Beta: [takes sip]
    Beta: Ptooey! Ptooey, ptooey, ptooey. Ptptptptptptptpt. Ptooey.
    Mig: [Commercial narrator voice] Just as disgusting as ouzo, but green!
    Beta: Ptptptptptpptptpt.

Advice, part II

I had a short fantasy about Gwen Stefani at a traffic light in my wife’s car this morning.

The fantasy was about Gwen Stefani on a golf course: I was in my wife’s car because the Doblo decided this morning the weather was too damp for the windshield wipers to work.

The fantasy goes like this:
Mig: I’m going to catch 40 winks in the cart, Gwen. Wake me up when we get to the 19th hole.
Gwen: Okay, Mig.

Advice: see what I’m thinking with this is you have the cultural wisdom, the wisdom you grow up with, that which your parents or society in general try to impart. And then you have the wisdom you figure out for yourself.

There are usually good stories attached to the latter kind. Like, don’t try to climb stone monuments while drunk: I’d love to hear the story behind that one.

At a bookstore recently I was looking at a book about taking your life back at midlife (i.e. reclaiming one’s life, not committing suicide). It depressed me so I put it back on the shelf, but it mentioned the value of what we have learned, the wisdom we gain through living and so on.

Right there in the bookstore, I couldn’t think of a damned thing I had learned that anyone would be interested in. I suppose if I would apply myself, I could think of several. But application takes effort, so I’m just asking you for your wisdom instead, with stories where interesting.

I am of two minds about self-help books. On the one hand, I would like to help myself. On the other, most self-help books strike me as a single seed of wisdom (or not) expanded into a book by some twat with an editor and time on his hands.

Any of these pearls of wisdom here could be expanded into a book. Think of all the time and money we are saving when we post them here, and all the idiots we are putting out of business. I will go first and try to add a few after all:

  • Again, to lose weight eat less. I am repeating this because the weight-loss book/etc industry is so large. This is all there is to it: burn more calories than you take in. Is that so hard? Get used to the feeling of hunger. Relax, you won’t starve – the food is available, you’re just not eating it. Skip a meal or two. Daily.

  • Again, because the stop-smoking industry is fairly large: to stop smoking, you have to stop smoking.
  • Relationships: avoid romantic relationships with people who have one or more screws loose. Also: if it feels weird, it is weird.
  • Fashion: you can’t go wrong with a dark suit, unless you work in some fashionable industry in which case you don’t need fashion advice, or if you live somewhere where no one wears suits. But the world would be a better place if all grownups wore dark suits, at least the men. And drank whiskey. The women could wear little black dresses and they would all be hot and look like Gwen Stefani and drink gin.
  • Woodworking: cut away from yourself.

Advice, part 1

  • To lose weight, reduce the amount you eat and drink.

  • To stop smoking, stop smoking.
  • Don’t buy a Fiat.
  • To improve your kids’ performance in school, reduce their stimulation. Lose your TV, for example, and sugar.
  • If you want to write, write.
  • If you’re not sure about something, ask someone who knows what they’re talking about, but still make up your own mind.
  • Be good, but remember anything can be overdone. God loves you because you’re you.
  • Seriously, watch the sugar. Especially that corn syrup stuff.
  • If you’re unhappy, consider therapy, although it’s okay to be unhappy. Maybe you have a good reason.
  • Have I said don’t buy a Fiat yet?

What’s your advice?

Still-life with big bed

  • One big bed with sheets, down comforter, pillows, buckwheat neck thing.

  • One man who has gone nearly without sleep for past two nights.
  • Three stuffed rabbits, one stuffed fish, one stuffed owl.
  • One lava lamp (red) employed as night light.
  • One Gamma (from Greek word meaning “snores like Cyclops”)
  • One Beta (from Greek word meaning “filthy blanket thief”)
  • One red cat, purring on man’s chest like this.
  • One cell phone set to ring at 4.00 AM by Beta “so I can fall back to sleep for another three hours”.
  • One ceiling, stared at by man between 4.01 and 4.45 when he finally gives up and goes into kitchen to make lots of coffee.

Why I quit chess

So my wife is out of town on business. The two advantages of this are one dad gets more quality time with his kids and two she can buy her own damn Coach bag in Japan because they have no outlets in Vienna but apparently line the streets of Tokyo like Starbucks in other places.

This is my idea of quality time:
Beta: I went to that Indian restaurant yesterday at lunch.
Mig: The one next to that great sex shop? Off Mariahilferstrasse?
Beta: Um, yeah, off Mariahilferstrasse. That one.
Mig: What’d you have to eat?
Beta: Eh, it was too full.
Mig: Did you check out the sex shop at least? Last time you were at the restaurant with mom she called and mentioned you guys were looking into the windows of the one across the street but that’s the wrong one, that’s the condom shop, the sex shop is on the same side of the street as the restaurant and down about 20 or 30 meters. It’s not sleazy at all, it’s for women and the woman who runs it is excellent, gives great advice. [Note to self: get some sleep.]
Beta: …
Mig: I love that place.
Beta: You’ve bought stuff there? What, exactly?
Mig: No comment. [Note to self: start thinking more than one move ahead] Why are you so interested in sex shops, anyway?
Mig: But seriously, go check it out sometime.
Mig: Like, when you’re 18 or something maybe.
Mig: I suppose you’re still too young to be getting your girlfriends dildos for Christmas.
Beta: I got them shower gel from Bodyshop.
Mig: Plus, dildos are like incredibly expensive.
Beta: Coconut, tangerine… the mango is really good, too.
Mig: But those hand-blown glass ones are beautiful.