Thanksgiving 2010

So much to be thankful for.

We had enough food for everyone this year. Every year we worry there won’t be enough, and there’s always too much. The turkey, although smaller than usual, and slightly injured in one spot from trying to escape through a fence (organic), was plenty big and turned out well. I thought the apple pie could have been a little juicier, but it was pretty good. The pumpkin pie looked a little funny but tasted good. Alpha’s corn soup was delicious, as was everything else. Her biscuits were especially fluffy this year. None of the guests got into a fight. The barfing cat barfed twice, but no one noticed. It was nice seeing everyone. I generally do better with smaller groups, though. More than two people and it gets hard for me to follow conversations, and I’m a lousy host repartee-wise, but you can’t have everything. We fired up the theremin and the singing saw after dinner and half of us spent some time jamming, including my cello teacher Alena, and Ute, and her friend Rich, and his daughter Megan, an 11-year old thereminist who also bakes awesome cookies.

Here is a recording Ute made of Megan on the theremin, accompanied by me on the saw:


The smallest man in the world’s secret

The smallest man in the world thinks twenty inches is the watershed. There is life before twenty inches, and life after. He’s still more than twenty inches tall. Once he slips below that, he thinks, something profound will change.

He doesn’t know what.

This door he’s knocking on: one day he’ll be small enough to walk underneath the damned thing. He’ll still knock first, though. He won’t just barge right in.

Actually, if it had a cat door, he could fit through that now. Easily. Like walking through a garage door, almost.

But there is no cat door.

The smallest man in the world has a secret. It is one of the following things:

  • He has a tattoo of a tortoise on his arm. It shrinks with him. He is relieved about that, he had feared someday it would grow into a full-body tattoo.
  • The smallest man in the world seeks to emulate god. Aim high, is his motto.  God’s main quality, the smallest man in the world thinks, is that he leaves you the hell alone. The smallest man in the world tries hard to leave other people alone. He fails a lot, especially with his kids. And even when he succeeds, it is sometimes misinterpreted as neglect. Your most important job is to be you, he thinks, who am I to interfere with that?
  • The smallest man in the world would probably tailgate people if he had a sportscar.


As the poet said, there are moments.

You are sitting in a humid kitchen feeling bad, say, and a cat comes in and starts freaking out because a petunia is stuck to its asshole.

There are moments that make life worth living. And you never know when they will happen, so you keep on going.

And there are the moments that break your heart, like a second of vulnerability crossing your kid’s face like a shadow when she is defying you as you yell at her about we had a deal about fingernail polish.

There are moments that make it clear you haven’t learned a goddamned thing in all this time.

My wisdom is being tested, and I’m flunking.

Sometimes you’re the hammock

Somestimes you’re the hammock, and sometimes you’re the man of leisure.

Sometimes you’re the moon, and sometimes you’re the lunatic.

Sometimes you’re the frying pan, and sometimes you’re the fire.

Sometimes it looks like you’re writing a letter, would you like help?

Sometimes you’re the saw, and sometimes you’re the bow.

Sometimes there’s one right thing to do, and sometime’s there’s no right thing to do.

(In which case, doing nothing is also an option.)

Sometimes you’re the sports car, and sometimes you’re the traffic jam.

Sometimes you’re the comedian, and sometimes you’re the punchline.

Sometimes lay, sometimes lie, try to mix them 50:50.

Sometimes you’re tired, and sometimes you’re sleeping.

Sometimes you’re dreaming, but you won’t remember it when you wake up.

My productive weekend

My wife got sick this weekend and couldn’t leave on a business trip so Gamma and I were more productive than we had originally planned.

My achievements: bagels. Real good ones. I mean, I unlocked the bagel badge with these. Raked leaves. Caught cold. Painted Gamma’s nails (right hand only). Chocolate chip cookies. Japanese curry. Some Indian dish, blah-blah chicken. Practiced cello. Researched local theremin players. Inspired, practiced theremin, headphones only. Gave up quickly. Mended Beta’s jeans. Pet cats. Gave up on nanowrimo, but not on the story I was working on for it. Tried to assemble shelves. They are made of tin, and stick together with tabs, you just hammer them together, theoretically, assuming they are produced to exacting standards and not warped.

The weather here is unseasonably warm. Normally, November is cold and even snowy here, warming up for December before getting serious about snow in January. So we have our hopes up that, with a warm November, we might have a chance of snow for Christmas.

The smallest man in the world takes out the garbage

Actually it’s the cat litter, but it goes in the garbage can so what else can you call it?

He’s only 22 inches tall now. He measured himself in the home office, where everyone marks on the wall how tall they are – the kids, visitors, maybe repairmen, what does he know.

22 inches.

He knocks at a door. Knocks and knocks. Maybe no one is home and he should go do something else. But maybe they’re home. Maybe they were just asleep and now they’re getting up to answer the door and if he gives up now it’s like he was a kid playing a prank, getting them up for nothing, so he keeps knocking.

Just a little while longer.

But now he’s taking out the garbage. A white plastic bag of cat litter. In his other hand he has a fifty Euro bill, because his wife needed money for the cleaning lady and he was going to give her the fifty but that’s too much and the cleaning lady can’t make change so he gave his wife two tens, and then another ten because she needed money for something else too.

And when he throws away the cat litter, he throws away the money, too.

It’s a big garbage can, he has to climb up a ladder to throw away the cat litter and money.

After he climbs back down he looks at his hands and pats his pockets and stuff, but he realizes what has happened. He looks back inside the garbage can and sees the money down there.

He tells his kid to get the money out for him, because he is too small.

I’m too small, too, his kid says. And besides, that garbage can is gross.

She’s right, it is.

I can lay it down and you can reach in and get the money.

If you lie it down, you can walk in and get the money, she points out.

Lay, lie, he says. I’m wearing a suit.

I just ironed my hair, she says.

How much will you give me if I do it, she says.

The smallest man in the world sighs. He is lost. Why do all the women in his family drive such hard bargains?

Still, he has to put up token resistance. How would you like to ride the bus to school instead of getting a ride like every day?

Here, help me lie down the garbage can, he says.

This is why you don’t put money in your mouth, he says.

Why would you want to put money in your mouth, she says.