Monday, December 31, 2007

What is love?

This is love, she thought, isn't it? When you notice someone's absence and hate that absence more than anything? More, even, than you love their presence?
               -- Another quote from Everything is Illuminated.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Today

I plan on impressing myself with many verbs and nouns.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

More Illumination

Maybe you're wondering if it's really worth typing all of this--it is. Even if no one ever reads it it's worth feeling the words travel through my fingertips. I thought after the first chapter this book was just going to be funny, but it's much more.
Yankel had lost two babies, one to fever and the other to the industrial flour mill, which had taken a shtetl member's life every year since it first opened. He had also lost a wife, not to death but to another man. He had returned from an afternoon at the library to find a note covering the SHALOM! of their home's welcome mat: I had to do it for myself.

Lilla F fingered the soil around one of her daisies. Bitzl Bitzl stood by his kitchen window, pretending to scrub the counter clean. Shloim W peered through the upper bulb of one of the hourglasses with which he could no longer bring himself to part. No one said anything as Yankel read the note, and no one ever said anything afterward, as if the disappearance of his wife weren't the slightest bit unusual, or as if they hadn't noticed that he had been married at all.

Why couldn't she have slid it under the door? he wondered. Why couldn't she have folded it? It looked just like any other note she would leave him like, Could you try to fix the broken knocker? or I'll be back soon, don't worry. It was so strange to him that such a different kind of note -- I had to do it for myself -- could look exactly the same: trivial, mundane, nothing. He could have hated her for leaving it there in plain sight, and he could have hated her for the plainness of it, a message without adornment, without any small clue to indicate that yes, this is important, yes, this is the most painful note I've ever written, yes, I would sooner die than have to write this again. Where were the dried teardrops? Where was the tremor in the script?

But his wife was his first and only love, and it was the nature of those from the tiny shtetl to forgive their first and only loves, so he forced himself to understand, or pretend to understand. He never once blamed her for fleeing to Kiev with the traveling and mustachioed bureaucrat who was called to help mediate the messy proceedings of Yankel's shameful trial; the bureaucrat could promise to provide for her future, could take her away from everything, move her to someplace quieter, without thinking, without confessions or plea-bargaining. No, that's not it. Without Yankel. She wanted to be without Yankel.

He spent the next weeks blocking scenes of the bureaucrat fucking his wife. On the floor with cooking ingredients. Standing, with socks still on. In the grass of the yard of their new and immense house. He imagined her making noises she never made for him and feeling pleasures he could never provide because the bureaucrat was a man, and he was not a man. Does she suck his penis? he wondered. I know this is a silly thought, a thought that will only bring me pain, but I can't free myself of it. And when she sucks his penis, because she must, what is he doing? Is he pulling her hair back to watch? Is he touching her chest? Is he thinking of someone else? I'll kill him if he is.

With the shtetl still watching -- Lilla still fingering, Bitzl Bitzl still scrubbing, Shloim still pretending to measure time and sand -- he folded the note into a teardrop shape, slid it into his lapel, and went inside. I don't know what to do, he thought. I should probably kill myself.

He couldn't bear to live, but he couldn't bear to die. He couldn't bear the thought of her making love to someone else, but neither could he bear the absence of the thought. And as for the note, he couldn't bear to keep it, but he couldn't bear to destroy it either. So he tried to lose it. He left it by the wax-weeping candle holders, placed it between matzos every Passover, dropped it without regard among rumpled papers on his cluttered desk, hoping it wouldn't be there when he returned. But it was always there. He tried to massage it out of his pocket while sitting on the bench in front of the fountain of the prostrate mermaid, but when he inserted his hand for his hanky, it was there. He hid it like a bookmark in one of the novels he most hated, but the note would appear several days later between the pages of one of the Western books that he alone in the shtetl read, one of the books that the note had now spoiled for him forever. But like his life, he couldn't for the life of him lose the note. It kept returning to him. It stayed with him, like a part of him, like a birthmark, like a limb, it was on him, in him him, his hymn: I had to do it for myself.

He had lost so many slips of paper over time, and keys, pens, shirts, glasses, watches, silverware. He had lost a shoe, his favorite opal cufflinks (the Sloucher fringes of his sleeves bloomed unruly), three years away from Trachimbrod, millions of ideas he intended to write down (some of them wholly original, some of them deeply meaningful), his hair, his posture, two parents, two babies, a wife, a fortune in pocket change, more chances than could be counted. He had even a lost name: he was Safran before he fled the shtetl, Safran from birth to his first death. There seemed to be nothing he couldn't lose. But that slip of paper wouldn't disappear, eveer, and neither would the image of his prostrate wife, and neither would the thought that if he could, it might greatly improve his life to end it.

Before the trial, Yankel-thenSafran was unconditionally admired. He was the president (and treasurer and secretary and only member) of the Committee for the Good and Fine Arts, and the founder, multiterm chairman, and only teacher fo the School for Loftier Learning, which met in his house and whose classes were attended by Yankel himself. I twas not unusual for a family to host a multicourse dinner in his name (if not in his presence), or for one of the more wealthy community members to commission a traveling artist to paint a portrait of him. And the portraits were always flattering. He was someone whom everyone admired and like but whome nobody knew. He was like a book that you could feel good holding, that you could tal about without ever having read, that you could recommend.

On the advice of his lawyer, Isaac M, Who gestured quotation marks in the air with every syllable of every word he spoke, Yankel pleaded guilt to all charges of unfit practices, with the hope that it might lighten his punishment. In the end, he lost his usurer's license. And more than his license. He lost his good name, which is, as they say, the only thing worse than losing your good health. Passersby sneered at him or muttered under their breath names like scoundrel, cheat, cur, fucker. He wouldn't have been so hated if he hadn't been so loved before. But along with the Garden-Variety Rabbi and Sofiowka, he was one of the vertices of the community 00 the invisible one -- and with his shame came a sense of imbalance, a void.

Safran moved through the neighboring villages, finding work as a teacher of harpsichord theory and performance, a perfume consultant (feigning deafness and blindness to grant himself some legitimacy in the absence of references), and even an ill-starred stint as the world's worst fortuneteller -- I'm not going to lie and tell you that the future is full of promise... He awoke each morning with the desire to do right, to be a good and meaningful person, to be, as simple as it sounded and as impossible as it actually was, happy. And during the course of each day his heart would descend from his chest into his stomach. By early afternoon he was overcome by the feelings that nothing was right, or nothing was right for him, and by the desire to be alone. By evening he was fulfilled: alone in the magnitude of his grief, alone in his aimless guilt, alone even in his loneliness. I am not sad, he would repeat to himself over and over, I am not sad. As if he might one day convince himself. Or fool himself. Or convince others -- the only thing worse than being sad is for others to know that you are sad. I am not sad. I am not sad. Because his life had unlimited potential for happiness, insofar as it was an empty white room. He would fall asleep with his heart at the foot of his bed, like some domesticated animal that was no part of him at all. And each morning he would wake with it again in the cupboard of his rib cage, having become a little heavier, a little weaker, but still pumping. And by midafternoon he was again overcome with the desire to be somewhere else, someone else, someone else somewhere else. I am not sad.

After three years he returned to the shtetl -- I am the final piece of proof that all citizens who leave eventually return -- and lived a quiet life like a Sloucher fring, sewn to the sleeve of Trachimbrod, forced to wear that horrible bead around his neck as a mark of his shame. He changed his name to Yankel, the name of the bureaucrat who ran away with his wife, and asked that no one ever call him Safran again (although he thought he heard that name every now and then, muttered behind his back). Many of his old clients returned to him, and while they refused to pay the rates of his heyday, he was nevertheless able to reestablish himself in the shtetl of his birth 00 as all who are exiled eventually try to do.

When the black-hatted men gave him the baby, he felt that he too was only a baby, with a chance to live without shame, without need of consolation for a life lived wrong, a chance to be again innocent, simply and impossibly happy. He named her Brod, after the river of her curious birth, and gave her a string necklace of her own, with the tiny abacus bead of her own, so she would never feel out of place in what would be her family.

As my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother grew, she remembered, of course, nothing, and was told nothing. Yankel made up a story about her mother's early death - painless, in childbirth-- and answered the many questions that arose in the way he felt would cause her the least pain. It was her mother who gave her those beautiful beg ears. It was her mother's sense of humor that all the boys admired to much in her. He told Brod of vacations he and his wife had taken (when she pulled a splinter from his heel in Venice, when he sketched a red-pencil portrait of her in front of a tall fountain in Paris), showed her love letters they had sent each other (writing with his left hand those from Brod's mother), and put her to bed with stories of their romance.

Was it love at first sight, Yankel?

I loved your mother even before seeing her -- it was her smell!

Tell me about what she looked like again.

She looked like you. She was beautiful, with those mismatched eyes, like you. One blue, one brown, like yours. She had your strong cheekbones and also your soft skin.

What was her favorite book?

Genesis, of course.

Did she believe in God?

She would never tell me.

How long were her fingers?

This long.

And her legs?

Like this.

Tell me again about how she would blow on your face before she kissed you.

Well that's just it, she would blow on my lips before she kissed me, like I was some very hot food and she was going to eat me!

Was she funny? Funnier than me?

She was the funniest person in the world. Exactly like you.

She was beautiful?

It was inevitable: Yankel fell in love with his never-wife. He would wake from sleep to miss the weight that never depressed the bed next to him, remember in earnest the weight of gestures she never made, long for the un0weight of her un-arm slung over his too real chest, making his widower's remembrances that much more convince and his pain that much more real. He felt that he had lost her. He had lost her. At night he would reread the letters that she had never written to him.

Dearest Yankel,

I'll be home to you soon, so there's no need for you to carry on with your missing me so much, however sweet it may be. You're so silly. Do you know that? Do you know how silly you are? Maybe that's why I love you so much, because I'm also silly.

Things are wonderful here. It's very beautiful, just as you promised it would be. The people have been kind, and I'm eating well, which I only mention because I know that you're always worried about me taking good enough care of myself. Well I am, so don't worry.

I really miss you. It's just about unbearable. Every moment of every day I think about your absence, and it almost kills me. But of course I'll be back with you soon, and will not have to miss you, and will not have to know that something, everything, is missing, that what is here is only what is not here. I kiss my pillow before I go to sleep and imagine it's you. It sounds like something you might do, I know. That's probably why I do it.

It almost worked. He had repeated the details so many times that it was nearly impossible to distinguish them from the facts. But the real note kept returning to him, and that, he was sure, was what kept him from the most simple and impossible thing: happiness. I had to do it for myself. Brod discovered it one day when she was only a few years old. It had found its way into her right pocket, as if the note had a mind of its own, as if those seven scribbled words were capable of wanting to inflict reality. I had to do it for myself. She either sensed the immense importance of it or deemed it entirely unimportant, because she never mentioned it to Yankel, but put it on his bedside table, where he would find it that night after rereading another letter that was not from her mother, nor from his wife. I had to do it for myself.

I am not sad.

Things that are old

My old blog has finally resurfaced after many a months of being M.I.A. I don't know why it disappeared in the first place (besides a general overabundance of suckiness) nor how it happened to reappear. With such a mystery in the air I feel it is best to stay here in the warm loving folds of Blogger and Google. But here's a link for reference (in case you find my musings THAT interesting).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Holiday Travel

I don't recall ever driving long distances in winter snows. I do recall riding in a car when I was younger but never actually doing the driving. Soon, tomorrow, I'll be making such a trip. Twenty-nine grand years of life and he finally puts himself on a frozen road. I'm a little nervous. I'm hoping the pass separating California from Nevada is mostly clear so I don't have to put chains on the tires. I wish I hadn't sold my all-wheel-drive Subaru to a stunt man.

This reminds me of road trips we took to Idaho while living in Indiana. Crossing the mid-west we saw some amazing thunderstorms. But mostly I remember we had one of those giant family size vans. It was so nice to be able to spread out and sleep in a moving vehicle, not worrying about anything in the world except how many fish I'd catch or how long we'd have to stay at Grandma's smoky house.

Thunder still sparks across those plains. Yes, thunder.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Everything is Illuminated

I'm somewhat loath to admit that I've started reading a new book. Mainly I don't want to admit it because I'm so fond of Courtney and I know how excited she was to have me (anyone really) read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, but the two gentlemen magicians are boring me. I still plan on powering through the remaining 400 pages and would be doing so right now if not for a series of unplanned events. See I was heading to a place where reading is often required, the bathroom, and grabbed the closest thing along that path from my desk, which happened to be a splendidly colored book entitled Everything is Illuminated.

I read the first couple paragraphs and thought, "oh dear, Jonathan Safranis Foer is full of himself and his vocabulary." Then I realized that the narrator isn't a native English speaker and uses the vocabulary enlargement in an attempt to impress the reader AND he uses the words from slightly to completely wrong. It turned out to be quite funny. The most extreme example so far is his use of the word "retarded" in place of "retired" when describing his grandfather.

Later, riding the Muni on my way to basketball, I was so engrossed in the book that I missed my stop and didn't realize until the train had gone two or three stops past mine. I also literally laughed out loud; in hindsight I suspect people may have thought I was borderline crazy, but I'm not sure if there were even any people there, so whatever.

This book requires that I finish it before going back to the gentleman with thistledown hair and his two human counterparts. Forgive me Courtney, forgive me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Verge

Somewhere someone is doing something amazing.

Monday, December 17, 2007

I Must have had a Hundred Nightmares


I have this tendency to worry when people take longer than expected to get somewhere or return home. This is a double-edged sword, especially with Robyn who is notoriously late for most everything. On the one hand I worry myself sick awaiting her return. On the other hand I'm never angry when she finally arrives, just happy that she has made it home. This isn't something that is limited to her, I do it with most everyone, but it comes up most frequently with her.

The first verse of this song gives me the chills because of my special relationship with worry and Chevrolet trains. It's a song I've owned for a while but only recently discovered and loved. Luckily there is little worry about the last verse.

Drive well friends.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Change

Not the loose stuff in your pocket.

Today we've been moving Robyn into her studio. This is a change. It's big. Not quite like Everest.

For the last six months or so we've both been working from home so her spending half her time at the studio will be an adjustment. She says leaving her home office is like breaking up with an old friend.

One might think that growing up a military brat I'd be pretty adept at change. However, this hasn't proven to be true. I seem to grasp a hold of things and change very reluctantly. Maybe it's never having the stability, predictability and control that nonmilitary families have that has caused me to latch on. I'm good at accepting new things into my life, it's the other direction that is hard.

This song choice might not seem obvious, but it is to me, not so much the words but my relationship to it. It's been listened to a lot.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Jam Session

I heard this tonight.

I think my new bosses are socialites of the Technology World. It's kind of nerdy and kind of endearing. Nerdy isn't that bad of a thing in my book--recall, if you will, that in high school I was captain of the chess team and math champion.

Today they said I could work less if I went out with them to a giant meeting of nerds, there would be cocktails and a post party that included a jam session. I don't drink, and I don't socialize well (I imagine many in the group aren't so great at the latter either). So I wasn't thrilled about this proposition--it's not often I feel like I'd rather be working--but I agreed to go out with them. I was informed that the jam session would include "David S., 'Mr. Model Driven Development' himself".

At this point I was worried that I was about to get sucked into some techno-groupie-after-party-thing where we all stand around worshiping David S. I had conjured up this image of Jabba The Hut with Princess Leia chained to his person. We'd walk by and bow to him as he spat out some computer science gibberish no one really understood and, if we were lucky, we could get near enough to throw grapes into his gaping mouth. So also, obviously, the jam session I imagined involved little aliens playing silly horns and drums. I was seriously starting to dread this after party.

Luckily it turned out nothing like what my imagination had concocted. David was a small, soft spoken man. I was introduced to him, we shook hands and he moved onto unloading his guitars and mandolin. Two other men who I hadn't been introduced to took two of his instruments and began the process of tuning them. Meanwhile, the sounds of computer science ultra geek speak filled the room. Then one of the musicians took the lead and started playing, the other two--David S. included--followed. After their first little jam, David S. brought out some lyrics with chords written above them and asked if he could sing this particular song. It ended up being a Bruce Springsteen song I'd never heard of. He couldn't say enough good things about it. At first I thought the guys were doing a pretty poor job with the song but then I realized I didn't have much to compare it to because this was the first jam session I'd ever been to. I've plenty of friends who play guitar and I have heard them do their own songs solo but I'd never experience a group of guys sitting down with little to no prior preparation and playing music as a unit. Maybe they did well, maybe they didn't, but I enjoyed it. They were all older gentlemen, probably in their 50s and 60s, so most of the music reflected their age: Bob Dillon, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and The Boss. Yet watching them play, and truly enjoying themselves, they were all still little boys--no where near as scary as Jabba.

I was reminded once again that I wish I could play the guitar.

Remember Me, Fondly



Finally getting around to posting The Trapeze Swinger, as promised.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Treasonous Traitor (for k8)

This is a stretch, but I think I may have unconsciously stolen the idea of posting songs on my blog from Katie, so I had to come up with something.

In a comment to a previous post, Katie said, "i'd like to hear more about this changing jobs thing as i'm sort of looking to do the same thing. after almost 6 years in one place-i feel like a traitor."

A little history.
Once there was this company that made a decent product but could never sell it. We weren't exactly Arrested Development but we were adding value and pleasing a small set of customers. Then there was another company who did something similar and was also struggling. They purchased my company and somehow that made their struggle less of a struggle (they don't have a lot of expenses and the added revenue from our customers worked out well for them). At that point all of my stock options, that I'd hung many life dreams on, made this great swishing sound as they went down the toilet. The job market isn't so bad out here but I think the new company thought they were doing a select few employees a favor by letting them keep their job without any pay raises or replacement stocks. In fact, and I hate to brag--except for on Tuesdays and look at what day it is--they decided they wouldn't buy the company if I wasn't going to stay. I hate looking for work so I agreed to this staying, and truly honestly intended on staying. I also made it clear up front that I thought I should be getting some replacement stock but I was given the "we'll see how the CEO feels about my value in a year" song and dance. This is a boring song and dance that wasn't making me very thrilled to sing and hop around the floor (partner had bad breather perhaps).

Then a few months later my boss, who wasn't graced with the privilege of staying for less pay (like I was, and by less pay I mean minus my stock options I use to hold near and dear (yes like a teddy bear)) called me up and said he wanted me to come be the lead developer on a new project he was working on and, oh by the way, we'll pay you whatever you want. This presented a moral dilemma for me, I certainly would like to get paid whatever I want but I'd made a promise about sticking around. Everyone I talked to said, "leave." So maybe I was feeling like a traitor. But I hadn't gone looking for a job and what kind of fool passes up chests overflowing with gold (or even silver)? Not this type of fool apparently; I do other foolish things instead. Anyway it did take me quite a while to decide to make the move. What it came down to was the money and the fact that I'd be working on a product that would really help people. As a last ditch effort to stay where I was I told them I wanted more money than I thought they would agree to but then they did. Even then I wrote a long drawn out letter to my boss explaining how things happened and how I really did enjoy working with him and I thought the company was doing well but life happens. And I offered to give him two months notice so he could find a replacement and I could train them for a month. This is actually where I learned the most. They were VERY grateful for my "generosity." I found they understood the financial and personal decision and they were just happy that I was making the exit as pain free for them as possible. They said I was welcome back anytime, and I was eventually able to walk away feeling quite good about myself, the old company and the new company.

I'm starting to get bored with my post again.

Here's the thing people told me: it's business. When the company feels they're done with you they won't hesitate to get rid of you. And really if you're doubting how much you want to be at a place perhaps it ends up being better for both sides if you make a graceful exit. They can get someone new who is eager beaver (though probably not nearly as talented and charming as Katie) and you can move onto another job where you will razzle and dazzle the eyes right out of your new employer. That being said, I still have a hint of guilt about leaving the old job, but in a month it will feel like THE right answer. Unless it's a Jupiter month, then heaven knows how we'll feel.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Guitar

This might not seem related but it is.

I was watching Juno the other day and recalled (for the ten-thousandth-and-second time) that not knowing how to play a musical instrument is kind of depressing. I've made a plan to start learning how to move my hands around a guitar once the new year starts. I know what you're thinking, why wait? It's because I promised Nate a story and I can only take on so many projects at once.

Wait, what? Guitar? Juno? Superstar?

Well, most of the main characters in Juno played the guitar, none of them were super stars but they had them laying around their rooms, they could pick other people's up and strum out a little music. That's really all the more I want. The song was in the movie. See it's all connected. Also the song is great, and meta (music about music, and love, of course).

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Friday, December 7, 2007

Blah Blah Blah

Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah

A Month

Given that a Jupiter year is equal to about twelve Earth years, then a month on Earth is only equal to 1/144th of the Jupiter year. On the other hand, Jupiter whips around its own axis once every ten hours. The months crawl by but the days fly.

What happens in a month? It's started to rain, which is accompanied by a temperature drop. I read a book. I changed jobs. Weeds grew in the front yard. We gave thanks. We counted the hours. I started a story. Played a little ball. Talked. Listened. Wrote. Stared. Wondered. Felt. Ran. Walked, a lot. Friends visited. Friends left. Life. Love. Joy. Pain. Christmas shopping. Excessive amounts of typing. Home. Somewhere it is snowing. THIS. THIS. This.

Another month lays before us all--even the mighty Jupiter.

Gray (Continued)

I woke up at 6:30am and it was still dark. Then I fell back asleep. I was tired and my sick body finally felt good enough to be able to sleep eight hours so I gave into it and missed the grayness. Another day, another day.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Gray

There is this certain time of day when the sun has set--not so far that the edge of the horizon has completely stopped burning red--and the world sinks into a soft gray. Often we don't see this coloring because we're in our homes where we only see blazing bright natural and artificial light or utter darkness when we turn our lights off just before going to bed. This moment doesn't last long; it rushes by, like the world is closing its tired eyes, you feel the Earth breath and the air heavy on your skin, then the color is gone--changed to shades of black.

If you haven't done it recently turn the lights off in your house right after the sunsets. Breath that air. Please be careful though, if one were to be listening to the right music with the rain gently tapping against the window, one might run the risk of being translated straight up to heaven.

I suspect it happens in the morning too. I might investigate tomorrow morning, normally I'm not awake early enough to know. And if I am awake I've turned lights on and the gray passes over my house without my knowledge.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Job

I've changed jobs for the first time in seven years. I had started a post that was reaching epic lengths when I realized, this post isn't even interesting to me. I'm somewhat surprised I don't have anything to say about the change.

I decided today that when the new year is upon me I'm going to learn to play the guitar, that's a job I can write about.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Jerry

Before talking about Jerry I wanted to mention I've changed my mind about working on the puzzling-hand story. It's too big, I haven't lived long enough. I don't think I could finish it in any reasonable or believable way. Now I'm left with one option, starting from scratch. I have an idea for a story I'll play with today to see if it has legs.

One might enjoy this song while reading.

Jerry. Who is Jerry? Jerry is a man--although in many ways he's still a high school boy in my mind--whom I'm not related to by blood but who my brother calls "brother." Much like myself my brother formed one of his deepest friendships in Indiana before we moved off to finish our K-12 years in Washington state. (One day I should post about Indiana.) Jerry lived on the same street (hello Shortridge) and was in the same grade as my brother, two years ahead of me.

Being a teenager I was wrapped up in my own world and only noticed the sting and pain that was caused to me by the move. I don't know how my brother felt about that move; it was the hardest of my life. I cried sitting in the U-Haul next to my dad as the Indianapolis skyline slipped from view. After leaving, Jason and I (mostly Jason, he's show me a lot about what it means to be friends) did our best to stay in contact and found some way to see each other pretty much every summer until we graduated and then moved off to the sunny skies and golden beaches of California. Sorry mom.

In contrast Frank seemed to pick up and continue his life better than I did, but I'm probably not a fair judge given how myopic and self-involved I had become. He and Jerry talked on the phone but I don't think they saw much of each other. When Frank married Jeanne, Jerry flew out and was the best man. He still looked the same to me then, my older brother's handsome athletic friend.

Back in our Indiana days we sort of ran as a lose group. Jason, I, Frank, Jerry and our other friend Larry. Jerry was probably the closest to being "cool" and it was an interesting group because of the age difference between Jason and I and the other three (all being two or three years older than us, which is a big deal in late Junior High early High School). So Jerry and I were friends too, we had a heated rivalry in Super Tecmo Bowl (his Cowboys vs my Giants), we played pickup games of football and basketball together (but he was mostly a baseball man), tricker-treated together, etc.

Jerry's little brother Chad was even younger than I and I never interacted much with him and really only knew him as a hot tempered little rug-rat (this information was mostly gleamed second hand from what Jerry and Frank told me.) Years later Chad went to school in Florida with the help of a baseball scholarship. During his first year there he was involved in a hazing incident and drowned. Even never reallying knowing Chad these were sad days due to the chain of human connectedness that linked me back to him. The stories I heard of Chad made me wish I had known him better. One story in particular sticks out in my head. At his funeral an awkward girl who nobody really knew stood up and talked about Chad, who if anything like his brother was a handsome athletic popular young man. She related how she spent many days sitting alone in the lunch room and Chad was the only one who ever stopped by and sat down to eat lunch and talk with her.

My brother had his hands tied financially but our family made it so that he could fly back to be with Jerry for the funeral. (One of the few things money is good for.)

These days Frank and Jerry talk on the phone once every other week or so. Both of them are flying out to the Bay Area in two weeks. We're going Skiing in Tahoe, just the boys, maybe Jason will come along. I haven't seen Jerry since Franks wedding; his brother has died between then and now; he is family in that he is family to my brother. I look forward to seeing him again.

I write about him now because the last two nights I've had dreams that involved him.

Dream one:
Jerry, Frank and I were unpacking a car parked in someone's driveway, wasn't mine (the driveway or the car). It was all normal. Then I looked down on the pavement and there was a little boy, maybe two or three. He had long curly reddish hair and I knew it was Jerry's little boy. I don't know why the child looked the way it did, Jerry has dark curly hair and I've never seen his wife (or any of his real progeny). The child made me very happy. Then the scene switched the ocean, a family at play, and while I'm not sure if the child was still there I could feel his presence and I remained happy, so happy I cried. I woke fighting tears of joy. Why fight such tears? I don't know.

Dream two:
This one is slipping from my memory quickly. My dad, brother and I were driving to a ski range. There we met Jerry. I talked Frank into staying on the easy slopes with Jerry. We enjoyed our day but I had the feeling that people were watching us, something about us made us the target of their spite. I don't know how I knew this because no one said anything, it was just the way they looked at us, or didn't look at us.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Iron and Wine

A sample.

What's it mean?

Iron and Wine became one of my favorite bands over the last couple of years--don't hate me for being a late bloomer. Last night we had the chance to go see them live at the Paramount in Oakland. I would have preferred to have seen them last year or the year before--before their newest album came out which has a World Music sound to it that I can't get fully behind. The previous two albums were very low-fi folk and a pleasure to listen to (all the time). There are two songs I really enjoy in the new album so I figured the show would consist of bearing through most of the new album with some respite in the two songs I love plus hopefully a couple of my old favorites.

When the show started eight people came on stage, EIGHT. Oh how I wanted just Sam out there, him and an acoustic guitar, but it was not to be.

Let me do all my complaining up front. The couple in front of us consisted of a girl whose body language made it seem like she didn't want to be there and a man who got so into some songs (she had to hold him still he was so excited) and then other songs, I'm assuming songs he wasn't interested in, he'd just lean over and start talking to her or kissing. I don't mind kissing but the seats are crowded and every time he did it he hit my knee with his elbow. Really the talking was the bigger offense, even over the songs I wasn't particularly excited to hear myself.

The other problem is that they played a couple of my old favorites including the one I linked above but they put the World Music twist on them. Sigh. Somewhere in the middle they played a version of Sodom, South Georgia (which I've always secretly expected is his favorite song) that wasn't mangled. It was different, but not World Musicy, they added a little accordion and a little up-right piano, it turned out to be quite nice.

I was starting to worry that they wouldn't even play my two favorite songs from the new album (Resurrection Fern and Flightless Bird, American Mouth) but they ended the show with those two songs and Flightless Bird was almost done without any instruments. So I was pleased at the end. But I was to be more pleased in a moment.

They left the stage and the audience demanded an encore (as audiences do) and just Sam (with his acoustic guitar) and his backup singer came out. He said he was going to play one more song, and he stuck to his promise. He played The Trapeze Swinger, another of my favorites (the origin of which I'm clueless about).

Here are the lyrics, they're ____. A word goes there. I'll probably post the song later.


Please, remember me
Happily
By the rosebush laughing
With bruises on my chin
The time when
We counted every black car passing
Your house beneath the hill
And up until
Someone caught us in the kitchen
With maps, a mountain range,
A piggy bank
A vision too removed to mention
But

Please, remember me
Fondly
I heard from someone you're still pretty
And then
They went on to say
That the pearly gates
Had some eloquent graffiti
Like 'We'll meet again'
And 'Fuck the man'
And 'Tell my mother not to worry'
And angels with their gray
Handshakes
Were always done in such a hurry
And

Please, remember me
At Halloween
Making fools of all the neighbors
Our faces painted white
By midnight
We'd forgotten one another
And when the morning came
I was ashamed
Only now it seems so silly
That season left the world
And then returned
And now you're lit up by the city
So

Please, remember me
Mistakenly
In the window of the tallest tower call
Then pass us by
But much too high
To see the empty road at happy hour
Leave and resonate
Just like the gates
Around the holy kingdom
With words like 'Lost and Found' and 'Don't Look Down'
And 'Someone Save Temptation'
And

Please, remember me
As in the dream
We had as rug-burned babies
Among the fallen trees
And fast asleep
Aside the lions and the ladies
That called you what you like
And even might
Give a gift for your behavior
A fleeting chance to see
A trapeze
Swing as high as any savior
But

Please, remember me
My misery
And how it lost me all I wanted
Those dogs that love the rain
And chasing trains
The colored birds above there running
In circles round the well
And where it spells
On the wall behind St. Peter's
So bright with cinder gray
And spray paint
'Who the hell can see forever?'
And

Please, remember me
Seldomly
In the car behind the carnival
My hand between your knees
You turn from me
And said 'The trapeze act was wonderful
But never meant to last'
The clown that passed
Saw me just come up with anger
When it filled with circus dogs
The parking lot
Had an element of danger
So

Please, remember me
Finally
And all my uphill clawing
My dear
But if i make
The pearly gates
Do my best to make a drawing
Of God and Lucifer
A boy and girl
An angel kissin on a sinner
A monkey and a man
A marching band
All around the frightened trapeze swingers

-- End Lyrics --

Man, that's life.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Matter

This is sort of cheating in that I made it about a month ago. So it goes.

A slide show.

It's only viewable on a PC, if you right click the slide show you can choose to view it full screen.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Story (continued)

I was reminded that the "I wasn't always a monster" story is meant to be a longer piece. The puzzling hand wins by default.

And in case my own writings are killing the mood I'm trying to set, here's another example of what it's suppose to feel like.

Denton, TX.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Story

I told Nate, who is great, that I had made a New Years Resolution to finish a short story this year and that as the end of the year draws near I'm no closer to finishing one than I was at the beginning of the year. In his infinite wisdom he has triple dog dared me to finish a story by January 1, not just a first draft, but something that feels done. I've picked up this challenge and lobbed a similar one back at him, except in the form of a fairy tale instead of a short story. Whoever does not finish owes the other person a book. And we've decided that if we both finish Alex owes us both a book. Sorry Alex.

I've two short stories in the works at the moment that would have the advantage of not being written from scratch (since we are dealing with a short time period).

Here is an insanely brief excerpt from each:
The clock reads 12:17. A notebook lays open on the desk.

I wasn't always a monster.

OR

She took my hand and inspected it in the same manner she handled the puzzle pieces: turning it over, looking at it from multiple angles, calculating how it might fit into her life.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

East

Sometimes I play like I'm a writer. On the plane I gave myself the exercise to describe what I saw out the window.

Looking out the window you see a thin, sharp line of flat clouds cut across the horizon. Your eyes follow the line west from its tip back to an explosion of soft bubbling cloud.

From the sky you can see two lakes situated on either side of a range of rolling hills. The lake further away is green like emeralds. The other looks as if a painter has mixed his favorite dark green emerald with basic white. The perfectly symmetrical rectangular and circular fields near the lakes look as if the same painter used his steady hand to layout the world--just as he always wanted it--by dipping a giant brush in his two pools of green.

From here a larger lake can be seen in the distance, it's the color of reflected light. Much smaller pools dot the landscape between the plane and the large lake. They all reflect the same light, they look like a broken bottle scattered across dark asphalt.

Perhaps the Indians and the Pagans had some way to separate their minds from their bodies. Perhaps they did so and floated high above the ground, looked down upon the the hills, mountains and rivers spread across the earth like wrinkles on their sacred mothers' faces. Perhaps this is why she is affectionately known as Mother Earth.

Rivers don't move when viewed from a great distance.

Even though the cities and their twisting streets aren't perfectly symmetrical there is no doubt of their origins. They are not naturally formed but have the soft flowing edges of an Aztec Jaguar carving.

The fields that follow the river are greener than the rest. If looked at from a child's perspective maybe it appears as if those greener fields have sucked the color out of the rest.

That's all. Here's a little about the trip itself.

Flying into Chicago I get nostalgic for Indianapolis. It's definitely the trees but there is something else too, something I can't put my finger on. Maybe it's the spacing of the buildings or the layouts of the roads or maybe it's just that I know we're in the mid-west. I know the houses look different, in and around San Francisco there are a lot of town homes and apartments, many of the houses look no more than ten years old. The houses themselves tend to be wide but not very deep. In the mid-west the yards are bigger, the houses are deep instead of wide and look ancient with their brick walls.

Even in New York I feel a little nostalgia for Indianapolis. The two cities obviously have very little in common but when you see a colorful oak you feel worlds closer to Indy than you ever do in San Francisco.

New York shows its age. Its fire-trucks come straight out of the 80s, its subway looks to be from the 60s or 70s. But they work, and the city is huge. I can imagine it's much tougher to keep all of its public works up-to-date. Suddenly BART and Muni seem clean to me, hopefully one day Muni will be as reliable as the New York subway (I'm told it's really reliable).

We walked from Washington Square (4th St) up 5th ave and Broadway to Time Square. We didn't have enough time to really plan an itinerary so we just walked. This was a nice approach because we could stop and look at buildings, stores, cafes, whatever, without feeling like we needed to rush to get somewhere. After Time Square we walked up to about 55th St and then back down to the Rockefeller Center so Robyn could see the Ice Skating Ring.

We soaked in the people, the crisp air, the brick churches that were probably once the tallest buildings in the City. Strange to think that now the tallest buildings are that tall for functional reasons while the old giants of the City were that way more for aesthetics.

It's a noisy city. The drivers are quick to honk, there is almost always an emergency vehicle going somewhere--trying to be in a hurry but mostly just getting stuck in traffic with everyone else.

That night we met up with a group of friends for dinner. Some I was meeting in person for the first time and was pleasantly surprised by their greatness. If you're wondering how I have friends who I haven't met in person it's because they are Internet friends, you should try some, they can be great.

The next day we drove down to Delaware for a wedding. I'm sure Robyn will have some nice pictures from that posted on her blog soon.

I don't think I've ever been to Delaware prior, and we didn't really do much there besides visit Wilmington, which you might have heard of (look at where your credit card bills come from). They have the best old red brick colonial style houses. I almost wanted to move there just to live in one of those homes. But the city itself felt like a small town disguised as a big city. There was a downtown with a few buildings that were probably 20+ stories, but the city's streets were bare. We went to breakfast one morning at a diner downtown and it was full of flannel and men looking at us as if they knew we weren't from around there. The menu had the "scraple" littered through out it. At first we thought it was a spelling error (scramble) but asked the waitress about it and she explained it is a grayish meat made from the leftover pig parts. She offered a free sample but we quickly explained we were vegetarians, she sort of rolled her eyes and moved on. The nice part was that we fed four of us for under $13, stuff is cheap there.

The wedding itself was pleasant and stress free for the most part. Like I said, check Robyn's blog for pictures in the future.

The most adventurous part was the Sheraton Hotel. It was nasty. There were (what we labeled) "glazed donut" stains on the ottoman, the doorknob for the partition between the bedroom and the main room fell off if you tried to close or open the door, and our friend Dustin found a crushed, hairy Junior Mint on the floor. I always thought Sheraton's were nice, not sure what was up with this one. Oh well. Oh well.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mood - Peaceful Waters

This is akin to the previous post. I'm still not sure exactly what I'll put here, but I want it to feel like this. Watch his face and eyes at 3:43(or -5:45), ah baby. That's what I want. Right here. For you and me.



Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Starting over

My old blog has issues. Namely my service provider can't keep a mysql database up and running for longer than a couple weeks so I'm moving, here. That being said I haven't done much blogging in the last six months even when my blog was working so this may be a desert waste land as much as the old one was.

We'll see.

I think I might use this one for more creative writing than personal journal. Again, we'll see.