I just googleimaged “garden spider” to see if I could find an image of the spider my daughter had seen when she was picking some parsley in the garden (she damaged its web accidentally and it charged her) that she then showed my wife and my wife said it looked as if it were eating a bee, it was so big and strange-shaped, but my daughter said no it was just a bee-like spider, long bodied and so on, and then neither one of them wanted to go pick tomatoes for dinner so I did, and accidentally damaged a spiderweb there, on the tomatoes, and by god, a similar spider charged me too (I guess they’re touchy about their webs) and I was all, whoa! damn! because it was the first time I had seen a spider like that, black legs, yellowish body with markings like tribal tattoos, and when I went back into the house and described it to them they were all, yeah, that’s the guy, and I was all, well he wasn’t eating a spider, he was just big, and fast and strange-shaped (at first I thought it was lugging an egg sac around but no, it was just big-bodied) and later that evening when they were discussing whether to sleep out in the yard at night (it’s been hot) and i mentioned the spider for some reason, they were all, “I’m sleeping inside after all” and believe¬† it or not, it was in the very first images at the top of the page, apparently it’s called a garden spider for real. But the one I saw had blacker legs.

Also, yesterday I woke up covered with spiderwebs, which sort of freaked me out in retrospect, after seeing this spider. But it’s a real pretty spider.

I will report you

On the day I was born

I woke up one morning

at a crossroads

in the middle of a crossfire hurricane

and for once my mind wasn’t occupied

with a song I couldn’t just quite place –

the Beatles? Vending machine jingle?

or a veil of a nightmare about not getting through to someone

or of committing a crime

or of someone being dissected, probably me

or a headache

or someone else’s broken skeleton

or the feeling that I had forgotten something essential

but rather

an earworm

a line from my daughter’s travel blog of her trip through

India and Nepal

read in her own voice

(the earworm)

“I will report you”

Behold the sturgeon

The sturgeon decides enough is enough and decides to finish turning that cluttered room in the cellar into a studio/workshop/whatever. He marches downstairs, opens the door, steps inside and stands there gobsmacked by the horribility of the mess.

He is standing there while his youngest daughter enters. “Dude, I would totally put a sofa right there,” she says. “Or a big mafia boss chair, at least.”

He throws out some stuff, then goes to bed and sleeps.

The next day he goes back down there and throws away some more stuff. Other stuff he arranges in boxes and puts away in an orderly manner. Slowly it begins to look better than before.

He stands at the work table going through papers he has, for whatever reason, saved. Post-Its with scribbles on them, for instance. You never know when you will need one of those. Instruction manuals for computers he no longer has.

A piece of paper reading, “I love you” in the handwriting of one of his daughters. Tapes that to the wall.

Later he finds a Valentine’s card his oldest daughter gave him when she was four or five.

This is time travel, it dawns on him. This is two tin cans connected by a string, stretched between him, now, and that little girl sixteen, seventeen years ago.

He holds the can up close to his ear.

He can hear her voice, as he reads the card.

“I want you to be happy,” she says.

“I love you,” she says.

“I am giving you a castle with lots of roses.”

The world is full of these tin can telephones, crossing decades, he thinks.

This is why he can’t throw anything away. You never know.

Everything comes to a stop for a minute, down there in the cellar.

“I am giving you a castle with lots of roses, just for you and me.”

That’s all they want from him, he realizes. That is the only thing – for him to be happy.

Everyone who loves me wants only for me to be happy, he thinks.

So he decides to be happy.

Just like that.

And he is.

His oldest daughter, she of the time traveling tin can phone, writes of her trip through India and he is happy, amazed at her talent for writing, her eye for detail, her heart for the world.

His youngest daughter informs him that he has to drive her into Vienna before work tomorrow for a dance lesson. He asks her what sort of dance and she says, pole dancing, and he is happy.

He plays cello with his teacher at a lesson and at one point the beauty of Vivaldi moves him to the verge of tears, and he is happy.

He tapes the Valentine’s card to the wall of his shop. Then he throws away some more junk.

Things I learned on vacation

  • When eating chicken satay and telling a story at the same time, it is possible to hit the end of a satay skewer extending past the edge of the tabletop in such a way that the skewer, full of chicken, flips into the air, does a 360, and lands back on the plate without getting peanut sauce on anyone.
  • The Balinese are way into kites.
  • The sidewalks in Ubud are hallucinogenic – meter-deep holes, offerings everywhere that you have to keep stepping over, 1-food height differences for driveways. Don’t ask me what Ubud looked like, I was looking at the sidewalk the whole time.
  • The Balinese are terribly kind. A shopwoman felt so sorry for me she gave me haggling lessons.
  • Men often wear flowers behind their ear on Bali. It looks awesome.
  • On Lombok, do not tell the waiter to bring you the spiciest thing on the menu. No amount of Long Island Iced Teas excuses this.
  • The monkeys in the Monkey Forest are nasty.
  • At the Lombok airport, do not let anyone carry your luggage for you. It is a rip off. You will have to be more assertive than I was.
  • Careful what you eat and where you eat it, i.e. avoid ice cubes, which are sometimes made using unsterilized water etc. and so on.
  • The Balinese are terribly kind. A waitress at our hotel brought medicine for our daughter when she heard she had consumed something with ice cubes, and organized a doctor etc. When we gave her a tip at the end of our stay (some tourist guides recommend against tipping on Bali, but that made me feel bad), she shared it with the other waitresses.
  • Luwak coffee tastes the same as regular coffee.
  • Up close, like walking across your hotel window, a firefly looks like a flying ant with a green LED up its ass.
  • Fried rice is a great breakfast.

Finnegan’s Bali, as performed by the Osbournes

Driver: The main streets of Ubud are in the shape of a ‘U’. riverrun, not the Ayung, that’s by the hotel, but something smaller and full of garbage, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bendof bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation past the Monkey Forest and back up to the temple. I’ll meet you at the temple at what time?

Ozzy: Sir Tristram, violer d’amores, fr’over the short sea, had passen-core rearrived from Europe Minor on this side the scraggy isthmus of Asia to wielderfight his penisolate war.

Sharon: Three should be good.

Driver: Okay.

Kelly: God I’m so fat.

Ozzy + Sharon (in unison): You’re not fat!


Sharon: You guys never disappear like that again!

Kelly: We bought pants.

Sharon: How much did you pay?

Ozzy: Did you see those monkeys fucking on the sidewalk?

Sharon: How much? You got ripped off didn’t you?

Ozzy: Less than she originally asked, okay? Watch out for that hole in the sidewalk. What’d you get?

Sharon: This silver thing.

Kelly: Vanessy, were sosie sesthers wroth with twone nathandjoe. Rot a peck of pa’s malt had Jhem or Shen brewed by arclight and rory end to the regginbrow was to be seen ringsome on the aquaface. Have you noticed how all tourists walk with their heads down?

Sharon: With these sidewalks, you have to.


Sharon: We can cut through here to get to the other street.

Man: Hello? Where are you going? This is a dead end.

Ozzy: Sorry.

Monkey: bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk!

Kelly: Stop taking shortcuts, mom.

Ozzy: (To Kelly) Tell your mother she has an offering stuck to her shoe.

Kelly: You have an offering stuck to your shoe, mom.

Sharon: Oh, my. How embarrassing. (Wipes offering from shoe sole).

Ozzy: They’re hard to avoid. They’re all over.¬† The monkey back there was eating the crackers out of one. There’s the palace. Is that the same as the temple? The driver say temple or palace? Temple, right?

Ozzy: (To police officer) Where is the palace?

Police officer: (Points across street)

Ozzy: That’s what I thought. So where is the temple?

Police officer: (To another man walking past) The great fall of the offwall entailed at such short notice the pftjschute of Finnegan, erse solid man, that the humptyhillhead of humself prumptly sends an unquiring one well to the west in quest of his tumptytumtoes.

Other man: (Shrugs)

Ozzy: Thanks.

Sharon: Look, there’s our car.

(later, driving to airport)

Sharon: We only have ten hours to kill. Where shall we go?

Driver: I suggest a volcano, a coffee plantation and several other things.

Ozzy: Can we stop at an ATM machine to get some cash? We’re out.


Sharon: Sorry, that ATM machine rejected our cards as well, like the last 10. We’ll need to find another.

Driver: Okay.

Ozzy: Yippee! Jackpot. Finally.


Man at coffee plantation: And these are luwaks.

Ozzy: Look, there are some coffee-bean laden turds at the bottom of the cage, even. Take a picture, kid.

Kelly: (takes picture)


Driver: And this village we are passing through is a silver making village.

Ozzy: Want to buy anything, dear?(To driver) We could buy something, but we’d need to stop at another ATM machine first. Heh.

Driver: (laughs hysterically)

Kelly: I’m so fat.

Ozzy and Sharon (In unison): You’re not fat.

Ozzy: You just have big bones. Not really. That’s just what my father said to me when I was your age. I really was fat, though. I know all about fat. You’re not fat, nor do you have big bones. The waiters in Lombok were all over you. Everyone here says how pretty you are. You’re awesome.

Sharon: Do you think you’re helping?

Ozzy: Hrm.

Ozzy: Remember, when we get to the airport, DON’T LET ANYONE CARRY OUR BAGS. Those guys on Lombok, Jesus Christ.

Sharon: Live and learn.

Kelly: How much would it cost if I were to, like, just turn on my phone for just a second and peek at just one text message?

Ozzy and Sharon (in unison): No.

Ozzy: We’ll be back in Austrian airspace in just 18 hours and then you can turn it back on as far as I’m concerned.

Ozzy: (to Kelly) Did you see that little kid who just walked by? He was totally checking you out.