I will always remember
going down into the kitchen
one morning and my daughter
is grumbling at the table
angry over string theory
i mean she wanted to slap somebody
I will always remember
sunset at the beach, we were in Florence,
and in Cannon Beach, and up north in Washington
my daughters sitting in camping
chairs at a bonfire
when i am honest, this year has been
for many of us
my mom froze to death in January
under sad circumstances
she didn’t have coming
my photo app sent me a memory
a collage of pictures of the beach,
my daughters from 2019
my wife and me from earlier this year
over for the funeral
I had momentarily forgotten we went
to the beach
but I had wanted to show her places
i went to with our kids because I had wanted
to show our kids where I had been
with their mother when we were young
when i am honest, it’s kind of a mush
in my memory banks
i see ruby beach, I see a tent
cobbled together from laundry
line and plastic tarps
I see a skunk lured back out of
our tent with cookies
they ask me what do you
want to do now
i want to live, i want
to experiment, i want
to make more memories
i want to love and be
kind but sometimes I also
want to slap a physicist
So it was a hard year
in some ways for
some of us
be kind to yourselves
be kind to each other
make good memories
this is what we got
this right here
this swirling galaxy
swirling in a snail shell
Yearly Archives: 2022
I will always remember
I was with Gamma, she had a conch shell the size of a lime.
Then I was at Horst’s place, except it wasn’t a place he really has, more like a house or part of a house, with a view of an ocean or sound, maybe near Seattle, or perhaps in Denmark. Or Sweden. Or Iceland. Or Norway. (All places I have considered visiting lately).
There were a lot of strangers in the place, coming and going between different rooms.
I looked out a window that overlooked a small blue wooden balcony overlooking buildings and, beyond them, water.
I was packing or unpacking. Going through my stuff in a bag. Perhaps I wanted to leave, I was getting my stuff together.
I found Gamma’s conch shell, or should I say Gamma’s Chekhov’s conch shell?
Because I noticed legs emerging from it, eyes, pincers, the whole package. It was home to a hermit crab.
Then I noticed there were other various snail-type shells in my stuff, that I had thought empty, but they were all running around, hermit crabs all over the house. I was scrambling around trying to gather them all up while also trying not to make a big disturbance as I didn’t know the people in the house and also trying to figure out what to do with them?
I would put them back in my bag if i could gather them all up and take them down to the water and release them.
Wrapped up in some newspaper I found a blotchy red-orange bass/grouper type fish, sort of gasping for air/water, I wrapped it back up and put it in with the hermit crabs.
Although the situation had potential for slapstick or panic, I was going about gathering the sea animals methodically and calmly, with a clear solution in mind. I happen to think that emotions in a dream are as important as any events or symbols, and this was free of worry or panic or anxiety or any other negative emotions. Which, if you are familiar with my dreams, is a breakthrough. It was a good dream, for me at least, and the sea animals were going to be okay too.
I had everything under control.
I have been bouldering lately, and I was talking to Alpha last night about how the things you climb are called “problems” and how I love knowing that they can all be solved, unlike problems in life, where you don’t always know that.
For me the dream was (among a lot of other things) about dealing with problems with that positive feeling that they can be solved, rather than with angst.
I just checked the visitor stats
on this blog
and let me say, it fills my heart with
when I hear that Mark Zuckerberg is
losing 1.5 imaginary bazillions daily,
or whatever on his metaverse
or whatever on
his new VR project
because he killed this blog
man. he killed personal blogging,
my stats, man, i had at least ten daily visitors
back in the day
now i’m down to five and most of those are
probably i don’t know.
something, some AI device harvesting something
learning interesting facts from my content
that i live so intensely for
so i can distill life
down to these nuggets
metaverse, man, why?
can you imagine being an investor
and realizing someone had convinced you
to sink your money into a project
aiming to make a new universe
even fakier than this one?
than this one?
how about a questionverse? where
you put on the goggles and walk around
and this little glowing thing flies over
and you ask it whatever
has always been
long bugging you
bugging you since childhood.
who pied the piper, and why did they pie him?
are my parents taking me on all these trips to remote
places to abandon me?
and it says, pied means multicolored.
(multicolored piper, wtf)
and it says, you lucked out, someone else always showed up before your
parents could abandon you on the bridge, at the lookout, in the woods,
on the beach, at the waterfall. just kidding – they were just
doing their best, getting away, going
on outings, they thought it would do all of you
your childhood terrors, you were born with them,
they’re from a past life or whatever.
like your daughter telling you
when she was little, that she had drowned
in her past life and chosen her new parents
bc she knew they wouldn’t let her
this time around
the glowing thing says
it is simple but not easy
it is complicated but not hard
it is hard but simple
it is easy if you don’t think about it
it is like when you are having a lucky streak
or when something physical – a tennis serve,
a dance step – is working well, it only works
as long as you don’t think about it
while you are doing it.
it’s like when you found a bird
on the ground under your picture window
and picked it up and held it
and felt its heartbeat
and it flew away and you watched it,
and at the same time, were the bird.
Man, to mangy, fat crow staring at him from the balcony: What.
Crow: Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Man: That’s a trick question.
Man: It’s a trap. Which reminds me, I was shopping for “miniature bear traps” online today, for reasons I forget.
Man: They exist.
Man: I mean, both miniature bear traps and my reasons.
Crow (patiently): Trap?
Man: Yes. There is doing whatever, and there is planning to do it. They rule each other out.
Crow (nods): Yeah I grok.
Crow (turns to face the autumn foliage, same as the man): This is what we’re doing, baby.
Man (stretches, winces): I explained to my wife yesterday why leaves change color in the fall and she listened to me patiently.
Man: Apparently I hadn’t exhausted her goodwill. Or she likes biology.
Crow: You’ve known her for how many decades and you don’t know if she likes biology?
Man: Of course she likes biology. Who doesn’t like biology? I mean, she seemed to take a scientific interest in photosynthesis.
Man: I just think it’s beautiful that the yellows and oranges are there all the time and we just don’t see them until the chlorophyll runs out.
Man: Also, the idea that trees take half the year off.
Crow: And yet they never travel.
Man: Traveling is overrated. Especially flying. No offense, I mean like airports, security lines, cramped seats.
Crow: I would travel if I had six months off.
Man: You don’t?
Crow: Oh hell no. Constantly flying around, you know? Between the dead and the slain and Odin and stuff.
Man: How’s Odin?
Crow: You’re Odin, you tell me.
Man (regards a tall tree, the root of which is being gnawed by a big snake): Hmm. Then what say the slain?
Crow: Living beats reflection; you’ll have time to reflect when you’re a lake.
Crow: Let me rephrase my question: what will you do now?
Man: Something wild.
The Chemical gets a call from his wife, the Chemist.
How old were you when your grandmother spilled (what did she spill? Boiling water?) on your foot? 7 or 8?
Boiling oil. I was 12. 11 or 12. Although, maybe 10 or 11 come to think of it.
So just a year or two before she died?
The Chemist is researching family history. She knows more about the Chemical than the Chemical does. The Carboxyl family, the Hydroxyls, the rest.
So my brother was 8 or 9, he says.
And how old was he when he ate her thyroid pills?
And that was after the mental hospital?
I guess? I was a little kid.
So was her thyroid problem diagnosed after the mental hospital?
I don’t know.
Maybe the thing with Amino…
Was enough stress to trigger a thyroid storm or some other crisis… and she was hospitalized and got the electroshocks… and eventually a thyroid diagnosis?
I don’t know the chronology. And anyone who knows is dead, except one or two who were directly involved in the whole scandal themselves so you can’t ask them, and their kids are all younger than I was so they probably don’t know either unless their parents told them later, which is entirely possible, everyone’s parents told them more than mine told me. Everything was a secret and now they’re dead.
Maybe ask Phosphate or Methyl, he says.
They finish their conversation and hang up.
The Chemical gazes out the window. It is a crisp fall day but warmish, the colors are bright (chlorophyll breaks down revealing yellows and oranges, any trapped sugars might turn into anthocyanins for the reds) and crows are arguing over the borders of their territories.
Mellow music is playing on his computer. The YouTube algorithm has decided to serve him mellow ambient music today, which irritatingly is just what he needs. He is wired, as if he had drunk a lot of coffee this morning, which he has but not that much, not any more than usual.
When he leaves the office in two hours he will walk to the subway, past various things including the attacking crow. He thought she had mellowed out, she stopped attacking him for a while, swooping only, but yesterday she whacked him in the head with her wing again.
Boiling fat, actually. His parents had a broiler pan in the oven, a flat pan to collect bacon drippings etc and when his grandmother forgot about it and it started to smoke, he drew her attention to it and stood there next to her and told her to use the oven mitts, so she wouldn’t burn herself. Careful, Grandma.
And she put on the mitts and took it by one end and as soon as it was free of the oven it tipped and emptied the boiling grease onto his right foot.
She felt terrible and he felt terrible that she felt terrible.
When he finished screaming every obscenity he knew, he tried to comfort her.
In the hospital where he got a skin graft he had rubber joke vomit and tricked a nurse with it, who then tricked another nurse with it.
Sometimes you’re awake and feel alive. Sometimes you’re tired and feel dead.
Anyone who thinks they understand this world raise your hand.
One minds one’s business.
One walks down the street to catch a subway. But the crows, so one tosses them treats and they follow one to the very edges of their territory for more treats, and into (maybe they are new arrivals and don’t know, or just hungry now in the fall) the territory of the attacking crow.
Words are exchanged in crow, on this sunny fall evening. Like, “fuck you get the hell out,” and “fuck off.”
Then it quiets down and one thinks it is over until one receives a blow to the top of the head, and feels the claws of both feet of the attacking crow in one’s scalp.
This is an escalation, this attack. Previously there was a whack on the head from a wing tip, then there was a body slam to the back of the head.
This here, claws, feels like an escalation.
At least it’s not defecating.
It seems desperate, maybe it has a nest close, but it’s the wrong season for babies.
It sits there on a telephone wire, watching.
One throws it some treats.
One throws it some more treats.
Some people walk past, pretending nothing unusual is happening.
One turns and takes a few steps in the direction of the subway station, then looks back and the crow is checking out the doggie treats.
“Don’t reward the crow for attacking you,” one’s daughter texts.
“I’m trying to make friends,” one texts back, “but I see your point.”
Radler is a mixture of beer and juice, often lemonade. It is good in summer. There will be days you put two cans of it in your backpack along with your stuff and when you get where you are going one can will still have Radler in it, the other will be completely empty, and when you unpack only a little liquid will trickle out of your pack, the rest having been absorbed by Richard Powers’ “Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance”, a loose wine-colored necktie and your Slovenian wooden pinhole camera. Your laptop will be dry and you will understand that your pack is waterproof inside and out.
There will be days when you will have removed the stickiness from your pinhole camera although it will possibly still be slightly warped, anyway that is the best explanation for the film advance turning so hard, that being an early fall day warm and gloriously sunny and free of all obligations you will decide to take a walk and shoot a roll of film because Facebook served you a memory consisting of a surprisingly pretty image you had taken with a different pinhole camera 5 years ago and you had thought, why did I ever stop? What happened?
Life will have happened.
And you will see so many things on this day.
A black shopping cart on its side at the edge of a field with a few empty, crushed cans of Wieselburger beer inside, beside a pile of scrapped streetlights. What visual opportunities just in that one place – broad, blue sky full of condensation trails; reflective irregular convex and concave shapes of the dented streetlights, the angular wire shapes of the shopping cart, the expanse of the field.
Walking along the street you will see a footpath into the woods and you will follow that and the path will split and split until you get tired of making Robert Frost jokes to yourself, or trying to, or thinking, “there ought to be a Robert Frost joke in this.” You will walk through brush into a thicker stand of trees that have, all standing slender and tall and crowded, an eerie effect on your sense of perspective and then you will see it: a mysterious structure built of dead limbs stacked into walls. And walking closer to examine it, careful not to disturb possible inhabitants, you will notice a dozen other such structures scattered through that section of the woods, some built like this one, others made of limbs standing vertically, leaned together into teepee shapes, another just several limbs suspended horizontally from ropes.
The eeriness of this dark place on such a sunny day will feed your soul like a big hamburger. You might not have realized you needed it but you will.
After walking around taking pictures with your telephone and your pinhole camera, you will crawl into one of the structures to take more pictures from the inside.
You will hear people walking past outside and realize how they might react if they walk closer and see you inside, lookin a bit wild, or if you climb out right when they pass but you will keep quiet and they will finally pass far enough away that they will not see you.
And when you, full of eeriness, make your exit from the eldritch grove of the lost architects, a bunch of people with alpacas on leashes will walk past.
Then you will go buy take out bulgogi bao at a shop named PingPong but the descenders on the Ps will be very short on the sign so that you think “DingDong, what?” when you see it but whatever. After the hamburger for your soul in the woods you will now have hamburgers for your body, and while you wait you can have a glass of beer too if you want.
There will be days, this I can guarantee.
And when you leave the restaurant you can pause at the fountain you like so much and listen to the water trickle.