Dear Younger Self,

Tuesday 22 January 2013 sounds like the distant future, because of the three at the end, maybe, but it feels like the present – mundane and ordinary; cold (we got a lot of snow), dark right now, a little frustrating, a little disappointing but at the same time surprising, fulfilling and hopeful. I have met a few people, and figured out that people are wonderful in many ways.

Furthermore, future technology makes it possible to share mundane details of strangers’ lives, which makes them seem familiar, almost friend-like sometimes, except when they get excited about spectator sports. I still can’t understand getting excited about spectator sports, with the possible exception of water sports such as diving, swimming, or ice-skating.

Here we are in 2013 and yet the future still has not arrived; we have no jet-packs, flying cars, underwater houses or widespread telepathy. There have been some suprises, on the other hand – above all, telephones, which can be used to take photographs, or watch cats fall off fences, among other things.

Mostly, the present just goes on and on, and the past gets bigger and bigger and bigger. Some diseases are cured, some grow less virulent, some more, and new ones are discovered. Man’s still gotta die, it seems.

Parasites, widely conceived, are fascinating, and you should study them and do something with your life, but you won’t. You will study a variety of things and eventually take two BA degrees in Economics and German just to get things over with, and wander away from academia. This is a mistake from the regular point of view, but: you have a beautiful life here in 2013, and it was created by your mistakes as well as your victories. Your wife and children are beautiful, your house is warm, they just got new machines at the gym, you have a good physical therapist and a good cello teacher.

Yes, you are learning cello! At this age! You might learn wet-plate photography next, who knows. Life remains surprising and often in good ways, but it is always the present, at least so far.

January 23, 2013, though – that’s another thing entirely. That’s the future, I’m sure of it.

Careers in Science: Barology

The barologist does not study bars, nor does he think this is funny.

Some jokes are always funny, no matter how often you hear them, some are funny once, and some are tragic because they are so lame; these latter jokes are also known as Dad Jokes by some, and are best avoided.

One day, the barologist is standing there getting yelled at by his wife for something, and it dawns on him: I have slipped into an alternate universe, one where my wife is made at me for reasons unknown.

After that he devotes thought to alternate universes, and their implications.

There are alternate universes that are full-fledged universes, and there are those that are circumscribed; small eddies, looped-off instants, some only a second or two long, some a few seconds or minutes (rarely) that can be visited and revisited.

An example: the moment when the barologist and his daughter, who have been moving furniture, tilt up her heavy wardrobe, which they have moved into her living room, and the barologist is squatting there with his end of the wardrobe above his head, wondering if they will succeed in lifting it – that moment of not-knowing – will he get a hernia? Will his strength fail and it crash back down on top of him? Is he strong enough? Should they give up? Perhaps it is density that creates such looped-off alternate universes, because when the barologist thinks about it, the moment is dense with wondering, and not-knowing, and daring, and ultimately dropping all thoughts and fears and just lifting it, and the feeling of accomplishment when it stood.

The alternate universe the barologist is thinking about is about three seconds long, and he finds himself back in it now and then, squatting with a heavy wardrobe at arm’s length above his head.

Or, another one: a lady on a beach in Hawaii. The barologist is about 12, bored in front of his hotel, sitting in beach grass up the slope of a rather steep sandy beach, when a wave crashes right onto the lady and takes her white bikini, and her tan lines underneath are just as white. This is connected with two more seconds on the plane home the following day, when the boy barologist recognizes the woman, now fully dressed and on her way home too and he wonders if she recognizes him and what she is thinking if she does but she probably doesn’t.

Or, a blond woman standing naked in her upper-storey window as the barologist walks to work. Or, the barologist getting off a bus and slipping on the ice and falling on his hip and people asking if he is okay and the wind is knocked out of him and he says thanks, I’m fine, and limps offstage as fast as he can.

Or, et cetera.

The barologist wonders if it is too late to become a scientist of alternate universes.

I played the cello last night

I played the cello last night.

I had a cello lesson last night in the backroom of a music store near my house. It is a small shop crammed full of fascinating instruments. If I have time before my lesson I stand in front of the singing bowl rack, hitting the variously-sized singing bowls with the little hitter things, wishing I had spare money for a couple, and a few other things. I wonder if it drives the woman who runs the shop crazy, or if she is used to it.

The backroom is the most crammed-full room in the store, with lots of merchandise boxed on shelves and a carpet on the floor, and just enough room for my teacher to hold lessons. I couldn’t say if the acoustics are good there, or bad, although I supposed if they were terrible she wouldn’t be holding lessons there.

I have been learning a cello sonata by Benedetto Marcello. We sat there last night, playing it, and I’ll be damned if it didn’t sound beautiful.

Not just better than the previous lessons. It sounded really nice.

I always low-ball and so on but I had to smile while we played and think, this is what I have been taking lessons for ten years for.

Twelve years, whatever.

Although, it wasn’t actually why I took lessons. I took up the cello thinking I might learn something about the cello, and appreciate music better; get a peek through the window into the House of Music or something.

I thought I’d try it for a few years and give it up.

So it wasn’t exactly the attainment of a goal last night, it was more like a pure, unexpected bonus, that blessed little moment.

I would have hugged my teacher afterwards, but the room was small and I didn’t want to knock over a cello or freak out my teacher.

So, yes, despite jetlag and so on, I played the cello last night.

Thanks, Alena.

Thanks, Uncle Phil.

Thanks, Ruth.

Thanks, family.

Thanks, friends.

Thanks, life.