On bread

Chances are, you have already been the recipient of fallout from my current Bread Phase.
I have been posting pics of nearly every loaf I bake to Instagram, and find myself unable to STFU about my bread efforts while talking to friends. Or when corresponding via WhatsApp.
A friend told me, “I have to admit, I didn’t finish reading your bread story because I am just not interested in baking” so she gets extra bread updates now. I think of it as a meta-apology for unwanted bread stories.
I asked my wife, “did I tell you about (private bread story involving a dream)?” to which she replied, “yeah about ten times a day.”
Yesterday I started telling my therapist about my bread story phase, but my enthusiasm took over and I ultimately just told her a bunch of bread stories instead. While talking, i was thinking, god this isn’t going where I intended…
(Currently, I have 3 reliable recipes that i alternate and modify – rye sourdough, wheat sourdough (SanFrancisco sourdough style), and rye/wheat mix non-sourdough, which is a good one when you’re in a “hurry” because it takes only 3-4 hours instead of 24+ hours.)
Good old bread.

The spider Gamma warned me about

I was watering the back yard at dusk. Right when my face hit the invisible web, I thought, ah, this is that big fat spider Gamma was going on about.
The neighbors probably thought I was having an LSD flashback. I danced and clawed at my face and hair with one hand, and squirted everything with the hose I held in the other.
I finished watering (front too, and the stuff in pots) and went inside and opened a kitchen drawer to sort flours when a big goddamned bumblebee flew out!!!

  1. A big black bee flew out of the kitchen drawer!
  2. What was a big black bee doing in the drawer?
  3. Why is the big black bee flying so funny?
  4. And why is it following me everywhere I go?
  5. Why is it still following me?
  6. That is not bee-like behavior.
  7. Oh, it’s the spider!
  8. Mother!
  9. fucker!
  10. Get it off me!

Yeah so I got it off. I clawed at my leg and stuff trying to find the web it was still hanging on and that i was sort of towing it around with and eventually found it and was sort of dangling it there when it looked up at me and said the following:

That’s the problem with you Americans.

It went on: “Not only, but especially you Americans. Never have I seen a bunch of people more brainwashed than you. You are, as a group, people who need a little perspective. You need to get out more.”
“Well, I did emigrate to Austria,” I said.
“I said, ‘as a group’,” said the spider.
“You pledge allegiance to a fucking flag,” said the spider. “And no one knows your Pledge of Allegiance started out as publicity for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Most of you still think Europeans discovered America. You think Democrats are leftists. Democrats today are to the right of Nixon.”
“Ok,” I said. “But I agree with everything you said.”
“Of course you do, I’m a figment of your imagination. You made me up. Spiders don’t really talk.”
“Actually you really did scare the shit out of me hanging off me like that.”
“How the fuck do you think I felt? No but listen, one of the most dangerous things you’ve been brainwashed to believe? That history is made by the Great Man (or the Great Woman).”
“Ok.”
“Americans are always looking for a savior. Other people too, but Americans are especially noxious about it. Kennedy! Obama! (We shall ignore for the purposes of our argument their emphasis on organizing and collective action). Greta Thunberg is here, we can all relax, she’ll save the environment,” said the spider.
“And now everyone is losing their shit about RBG passing away.”
“Well…” I said.
“It is sad. It is sad when a person dies, I get that. Even I, a spider who deals death to countless insects caught in my web every day get that. And Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a great woman. But she wasn’t a Great Woman. How can anyone be so blind to think a zillion year old lady was going to protect us from You-Know-Who, that other “Great Man” (to his cultists) like some kind of kajira battle?”
“Ok.”
“No Great Person has ever done shit. You morons don’t get that. Stuff gets done when the guillotines come out. The torches and pitchforks. I am speaking somewhat hyperbolically. Somewhat.”
“Well, it’s not like there are no protests,” I said.
“It’s not enough.”
The spider looked at me, and I looked at the spider.
“General strike,” I said.
The spider nodded. “Now take me back outside. To the hydrangea, if you don’t mind.”

Rowr rowr

Woman on subway platform, through mask: Rmpf rmf mm grmf.
Man on subway platform, in a big hurry to get on the train that is stopping because he has to ride it a lot of stops to catch another train he doesn’t want to miss and trying to remember whether he knows the woman or if she is confusing him with someone else: I beg your pardon? (but because he is wearing a mask it is also unclear.)
Woman: Rmpf rowr rowr grmf!!!
(Train doors open)
Man: I’m really sorry, I can’t understand you, masks huh, I have to…
Woman: (grabs man’s sleeve)
Man: …get on this train.
Man: (Pulls loose, gets on train, followed by woman, who he is increasingly certain he does not know)
Woman: Rowr rowr grmf rmpf!!! Rowr!!!
Man: (quickly walks length of train away from woman, until she is no longer audible)
Man: (looks at phone, watching reflection of train interior behind him, can’t see anyone rushing him with intent murderous or otherwise).
Man: (switches trains at appointed station)
Man: (finds empty seat, opens book, reads)

Yes, so

crows
Establishing shot: Galaxy
Quick zoom from there to face of (anti-virus) masked man as he – walking down crowded sidewalk – realizes he is audibly muttering the word, “idiots”.
Over and over.
His eyes, as he realizes this, express a complex emotion. Like, he agrees with himself, but he hadn’t realized he was saying it out loud.
Saying it at all.
Later someone tells him, I quit reading your bread-baking story halfway through bc bread baking doesn’t… I just don’t bake bread.
Later, someone else he is telling about hiking abruptly changes the topic to the virus.
Yes, he says. The virus.
Yes. So.
On his lunch break he walks to the store and buys a sandwich. All the way there, crows scream in the trees lining the street. It feels like a ticker tape parade, just with screaming crows.
That cheers him up.
In the trees.
On a stop sign.
Atop a parked car.
Standing in a gutter.
Watching him from a fence.
A woman zipping down the sidewalk on a scooter nearly hits him from behind. He hadn’t noticed her at all.
Fuck!
Perched on a telephone wire.
He resolves to ask his new therapist what one can do to not be a boring old fart.
Atop a moving truck.
But he knows already. Lose 20 pounds and keep your mouth shut.
Standing in the grass.
Flying over his shoulder so close he feels the wind.
Screaming, screaming.

The seven things successful people don’t want you to know!

  1. 3:50 AM give up, go take pee, look at clock, wonder if you’ll get back to sleep before alarm goes off
  2. 5:00 AM wife shakes you, says “your alarm” which would be unnecessary, since you’ve been awake since 3:50, except you can no longer hear the first couple higher-pitched cycles of the alarm so, ok. You turn it off and get up.
  3. Let in cats. Feed cats. Close 2 doors so sensitive cat is isolated from the less-sensitive cats and can eat in peace. Turn on coffee machine. Open windows to air out downstairs.
  4. Go check the trap line. It’s still dark. One dish of beer has a few slugs. On the way to the other 2 dishes over by the echinacea a slug somehow gets into your Birkenstock. You do the “A slug got into my Birkenstock” dance but he holds fast so you take off the sandal and flick him into one of the beer traps, kerplunk. A dozen or so of his buddies are in there too.
  5. That’s fewer than usual lately, maybe you’re making headway. Maybe they’re hunkered down waiting for the hot weather to pass. Maybe they’re on the tomatoes.
  6. You’ll never know cause you have to go eat breakfast (slice of rye bread, butter, ham, Greek yogurt with blueberries + honey)
  7. One cat wants out. No not that door the other door. Then another cat wants out, but not the door the first cat went out, the other door.
  8. You tiptoe around while you do all this so your wife can sleep.
  9. But she gets up to make sure you don’t forget to throw lettuce and blueberries out the window for the tortoise.
  10. Throughout all this you have the idea of distance in your head. Maybe you had a dream. Distance between galaxies is the same as distance inside atoms, between the nucleus and the electrons, it’s mostly empty space, you think. And yet we find each other.

A cat licked my wife’s dish

It was my first day of freedom following the expiration of my quarantine. The others still had a day or two to go.
We were sitting on the terrace chatting after eating noodle soup for dinner.
We were talking about dreams.
We talked about dream architecture. I mentioned my theory that houses in dreams represent aspects of our minds. Generously, no one mentioned that everything in our dreams represent aspects of our minds. Everyone described houses and other buildings they had dreamed of.

Houses I have dreamed of: repeated dream of standing on the street looking at a suburban single-storey green house in which a family has been murdered. Repeated dream of (imaginary) sex club in Seattle that, the last time I dreamed of it, had gone out of business. One-time dream of a friend’s house in which I was fighting a stranger to the death and he Would.Not.Die. no matter what I did, including stabbing him in the jugular with a shard of glass; a frustratingly thin stream of blood sprayed out.

Alpha went inside to talk to someone on the phone.
A cat took that opportunity to lick our soup bowls clean.
I told Gamma that, regarding the shirt-shopping nightmare I had described earlier (two understocked shirt shops that overlapped such that one could not tell where one shop ended and the other began, nor even where the real entrances were, and which carried no really nice shirts, just mostly factory rejects or oddly-styled and funnily-sized strange-fitting shirts with unusual or ugly patterns that I did not want) that I had yesterday been thinking about Uferlosigkeit and Grenzenlosigkeit (and wondering whether there was a significant difference between the two). (Something that is uferlos is unbounded, and grenzenlos would mean without borders).
Inside the house, Alpha said something that sounded as if she were wrapping up her conversation, so I carried the soup bowls into the kitchen and put them into the dishwasher so the cat wouldn’t get in trouble; but it turned out she was not done with her conversation after all.
Gamma asked me how my first day out of quarantine had gone. I said I had forgotten how to drive. When I took my car into the dealer for a check up, I had drifted too close to the shoulder, for example, and was not paying as much attention as I should have. And while at the dealer waiting for my car, I looked at Humans of New York on Instagram and the stories made me cry. I imagined an apprentice mechanic asking the mechanic, Gee did someone give Mr. Living his bill already?
That’s all I did today. Plus a little work. Plus I went grocery shopping and the cashier had to remind me to enter my PIN code.
I was going to take a walk but it’s too nice in the hammock now.
I’ll take a walk tomorrow.
I didn’t gain weight in quarantine (actually I lost a little) but my belly is fatter, which I guess means muscle mass is down.
Washing dishes, taking walks. Life is an endless struggle against entropy.

Things I learned this week

1. One thing you don’t want to hear yourself say while measuring chili powder into a marinade for kebabs you are making is, “oops”. We subscribe to weekly pre-measured recipe boxes from an organic farm in Vienna and I realized today that the spices sometimes are delivered in larger quantities than recipes require, which can result in pepper spray-levels of capsicum released into the air when you toss the mix into a hot frying pan.

2. When everyone in your house has been quarantined and is waiting for the results of their COVID-19 test, the kind thing to do in this situation is explain to them that you, and now they, are all coughing because you just pepper sprayed them, and then go open windows.

3. The test takes much longer when it is being done on you than when you are watching someone else being tested. Time is relative. 30 seconds is not such a long time when someone else has a probe up their nostril, but a very long time when it’s your nostril.

4. When the health office calls you after waiting 3 days and tells you your test is negative, that’s a very good feeling.