Sorry, what?

First, before I forget: is the Nissan Cube a good car or is someone playing a joke on hipsters? We test drove one on Saturday and it seemed okay, but it also seemed as if there were a premium being paid for extra design and coolness, sort of like with the MacBook.

Which I also have, of course, and like.

We decided to wait a while and think about it. Chances are I’ll get a van, which would be larger, and yet cheaper.

I have a year or so with my current car, a Mazda 2, I figured. Then this morning the clutch and transmission got very weird all of a sudden, so maybe not a whole year. I’ll be happy if I can drive home, goddamn it.

I hate cars. At least the ones I can afford.

Two guys came into our house this morning and installed a very large television set. This is apparently connected to the guys who came to our house last week and installed a satellite dish on our roof.

Listen: I remember when dad could go to the store and come home with a box, and take a television set out of the box, and plug it in and you were done. You got maybe 3-4 channels, (not over 1000) and sometimes you had to stand there moving the antenna around while someone on the sofa said, “a little more, no, a little more, no, hang on, it was better before, move it back, no the other way,” but that was it. You didn’t have to communicate with a fucking satellite. You didn’t have to have a guy come to the house because he could navigate twenty different fucking menus. You didn’t have to go back to the store to get a different cable to attach your DVD player because there were no DVD players.

And so on.

When I left for work, my wife was watching a show about weather in Germany.

How to justify your existence

First, get some DNA of the person who invented Daylight Savings Time. Or, not the person who invented it, but the person responsible for propogating it.

Someone is always responsible. If you cannot find them, ask your wife, she’s good at that sort of thing.

Hair or fingernail clippings will suffice. Sew them into a voodoo doll and follow normal voodoo procedures. Cause daylight savings time, man. Seriously.

Then go for a walk while it’s still dark, along the creek. It is five AM, not four AM despite what your phone says. Apparently you forgot the clock on your phone when you were resetting clocks yesterday.

Go walk in the dark. Are you walking? Is it dark? By the time you get to the bridge where you turn right to follow the bike path along the creek, you’re already wondering why you felt it necessary to justify your existence in the first place. A calmer voice in your head is beginning to tell you it’s not necessary. That existence is not something that requires justification.

DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS VOICE. If you want to justify your existence, ignore this voice even though it sounds reasonable.

Christ, it’s dark.

And yet, people are still driving around. Austrians are crazy.

Look who’s talking.

At least they’re not out walking around.

Keep walking until you think of a justification. Spring might work. Does spring justify your existence? Frog eggs? Or a journal full of words? Or the steadiness you can give a child dealing with rapid change? Can you teach someone something, like how to ride a bike or that finger snapping/bottle-cap shooting thing, or throat singing?

If you can teach throat singing, please mail me. I’ve tried to teach myself in the car but I keep passing out, which is dangerous when you’re driving.

There must be some way to justify your existence. Maybe you’re not thinking hard enough.

Maybe you just need a cup of coffee. A little caffeine and all these justifications will pop into your head.

Go back to the house and make some coffee.

Paris update

So we’ve booked flights and a hotel (one of those recommended by Evalyn, thanks!) and are packing walking shoes and have a list of a few places we want to see, and will otherwise be wandering around. That’s about it. Somehow not having really detailed plans is more relaxing for me than a full schedule would be.

Something something tortoise something

The tortoise wants out so bad you can taste it. She was scurrying about when I got up at 4.40 to feed the cats (was gotten up). Caught her in the middle of hte kitchen floor when I turned on the lights, like a cockroach. Now she’s running laps, her claws scratching the tiles sound like a wheezing businessman running laps in a deserted Y.

She never gives up. I reiterate, I know. She is one of the lucky ones. We all are. Thanks to a long – infinitely long, or at least immeasurably long series of highly unlikely occurrences, we are here. In all likelihood we shouldn’t be. According to the laws of probability. But we are. Because we were lucky. We call it lucky. We here at the tip of the long tail. Because luck got us here, we believe in it. We worship it every week in line for our lottery tickets. We have ceremonies and riguals to guarantee it, like baptisms, weddings, and funerals.

When the tortoise runs her circles, though, something else is going through her mind. Science.  She is thinking about science. Through her millions of years of evolution she has learned to make her luck. She doesn’t sit in a shady spot, or in a sunbeam wishing for it. She, usually (unless she is resting or digesting, or fucking her rock (she might not be female, in fact)) walks the perimeters of her existence, seeking an exit. The exit will not come to her, it has to be found.  She has to go to it. And she is seeking, not trying to work magic. Because she knows that this amazing series of accidents that is our universe will at some point create a situation she can seize to get what she wants. A door will be left open, a section of fence will fall over, a plant will grow bushy enough to support her weight, and she will climb out.

And although highly unlikely, these possibilities are less unlikely at the perimeter than at the safe center. A tortoise does not believe in fairy godmothers. It believes in pellets of food, lettuce, a water dish, a little house, daytime and night time, hot and cold, hiding and seeking, marching the perimeter, finding a hole and climbing out. It believes in what it has observed and experienced, not in what it wants.

Tortoises invented science, science defined as observing without prejudice and using what is real and what works. Tortoises don’t disbelieve in God but they don’t pray either.


Escatology: Theological doctrine concerned with the world ending in shit.

Things I learned after 10 years of cello lessons

Have you heard of the Black Hole endpin stop? Have you? Have you heard of it? Because if you haven’t, let me be the one to tell you it’s awesome. You know those portable holes some cartoon character used to carry around and use to escape with?

Maybe it was Wile E. Coyote, maybe it was someone else. I can’t remember right now. I’m getting conflicting signals when I try. [Edit: Looney Tunes, apparently. Thanks, Anne. ] But remember what a cool idea that seemed like?

Anyway, after 10 years of battling with a big T made of wood scraps that I wedged beneath my chair when I practiced, to stick the end of my endpin into, I discovered the Black Hole, a black rubber disk about 4 inches in diameter, with a hole in the center to hold the end of your endpin. It is made of a rubber that is non-skid on wooden or tile floors. It is said to be washable if it gets too dusty to grip the floor anymore.

It fits in your pocket. No more giant wooden T. I love it, and not only because of its name. But partly because of its name.

Second thing I learned about playing cello:

Don’t forget to breathe.

I am quite good at holding my breath. I can go two minutes. I can swim two laps underwater, if the pool is not too big. I apparently can play an entire tune without taking a breath, too, without keeling over off my chair. But that is not enough. Holding your breath affects your playing.

Who knew?

Ruth, you there?

Anyway, breathing. As if fingering and bowing at the same time wasn’t hard enough already.

Also: I’m getting really tired of Bach? Not to diss Bach, I love his music. It is just taking me forever to learn this tune I’m working on. How do you find a tune to work on that is both enjoyable and at the proper difficulty level? That is my problem, ignorant of music as I am. I hear something exquisite, want to learn it and then am all Holy Toledo! when I get a look at the notes, usually.

So I’m trying to compose something. A little something. About grunion.

I even – this is really awesome – I even met with a composer to discuss what I’ve come up with so far. He didn’t seem all that impressed about the grunion, but that’s okay. What I found cool was that he wasn’t even interested in hearing the MP3 my composing program (Finale) had generated. He just spread out the notes and heard it that way. That is not something I can do, so I was impressed.

[Edit: I tried breathing yesterday. It makes a huge difference. I had thought, Great, breathing, a third thing to worry about besides left hand /intonation and right hand / bowing. But it actually seemed to lessen the panic and /or frustration I often feel while playing, and was really groovy.]

Sometimes you are the hammer

And sometimes you are the anvil.

Sometimes you are the anvil, and sometimes you are the coyote.

Sometimes you are the coyote, and sometimes you are the roadrunner.

Sometimes you are the roadrunner, and sometimes you are the highway.

Sometimes you are the highway, and sometimes you are the bus.

Sometimes you are the bus, and sometimes you are the husky kid shouting crazy shit in the back  seat so that everyone holds their pee from Omaha, Nebraska all the way to Salt Lake City, Utah.

Sometimes you are the crazy man, and sometimes you are the psychiatrist.

Sometimes you are the psychiatrist, and sometimes you are the asylum.

Sometimes you are the asylum, and sometimes you are the world.

Sometimes you are the world, and sometimes you are an idea of the world.

Sometimes you are an idea of the world, and sometimes you are a chai latte.

Sometimes you are a chai latte, and sometimes you are a girl standing in line thinking about how good a chai latte is going to taste.

Sometimes you are a girl standing in line thinking about how good a chai latte is going to taste, and sometimes you’re a guy standing in line thinking about how good the girl looks.

Sometimes you’re a guy standing in line, and sometimes you’re another guy standing in line, picking the first guy’s pocket.

Sometimes you’re the pickpocket, and sometimes you’re the wallet.

Sometimes you’re the wallet, and sometimes you’re the money.

Sometimes you’re the money, and sometimes you’re the drink.

Sometimes you’re the drink, and sometimes you’re the bartender.

Sometimes you’re the bartender, and sometimes you’re a rabbi, a priest, and Lindsey Lohan.

Sometimes you’re a rabbi, a priest and Lindsey Lohan, and sometimes you’re a chicken.

Sometimes you’re the chicken, and sometimes you’re the road.

Sometimes you’re the road, and sometimes you’re the chariot.

Sometimes you’re the chariot, and sometimes you’re the horse.

Sometimes you’re the horse shoe, and sometimes you’re the nail.

Sometimes you’re the nail, and sometimes you’re the hammer.