The easy part is the digging – snowsilver spade slicing steamsoil. Dirt hardly parts – but sighs! Eucharine breath, epicene oil. The lissome lisp of shovel slipped into winesoftened silt. The easy part is the digging – straight-grained shaft stung by stone, bonequiver knock on bone and out the crown emptied unto Heaven with every chuck and throw. The easy part is the digging – brute-sunk shovel in soil. Psalm-sung singing of sinew. Instrument to sentiment. Lie-less rhythm without end. Monument to sediment. Lie-less rhythm without end
In a world that suddenly lost all its racism, the racists would simply have lost a tool for sounding like morons, and would indeed likely find a great deal more success than ever, suddenly lacking the worldview that had previously been so staunchly resisted by mainstream society. It would be a net gain for them. But not for the activists. Not for the journalists and the professors and the sign wavers and the marchers. Not for the authors and poets and painters, not for the actors and filmmakers. For them, the end of racism would be the end of nearly everything. The end of racism would turn their world upside down and dump them out the bottom, naked, poor, and ashamed. Their jobs would vanish, their paychecks would dry up, their book deals would be meaningless, their degrees, doctorates, PhD’s, all of it would be gone.
So of course they’re complicit in keeping it alive. They’re causing as many train wrecks as they can so that they’ll never have to wake up without someone to save. But meanwhile, man, the bodies are really piling up.
Those paragraphs are clipped from a long, rambling missive I have been putting together since my 4th of July weekend in Idaho. It was about definitions (again)(always). I kept adding to it and sculpting it and deleting things and shuffling paragraphs around. Eventually I decided it was just so much more of the same pissing and moaning, so I just looked at it and said “no.”
I’m at a car dealership. My car apparently had a couple of safety recalls that needed to be addressed. Remember the way Anton Yelchin died? I have a Jeep like his with the same odd transmission that somehow resulted in him getting out of his car while it was still in gear, or in neutral, so it rolled down a hill and crushed him against a pillar, I think at the end of his driveway. It really is a bit of an interesting situation with the gear lever, in that doesn’t lock positively in place to indicate that you’ve put it in drive. Or in park, as was the obvious issue for our young Pavel Chekov. You just bump it forward or backwards and it returns itself to the starting position. My car before that was a manual transmission, so it really took me some getting used to. But cars now are doing all kinds of odd things with their transmissions. The Italian’s car, for instance, is some kind of a throwback to the old three-on-the-tree:
Her car has a right-hand shift lever on the steering column, but the similarities end there. It’s a matter of pushing a button on the end for park, tap the lever upwards with a finger for ‘go,’ downwards for ‘go back.’ It’s simple, but the biggest problem is the lack of uniformity. Every car runs different now. When I get back into my car, I have to remember that the shifting happens at the center console, and that I have to engage/disengage the parking brake myself. The Italian’s German car puts the brake on as soon as you put it in park. Takes the brake off once you hit ‘go.’
This of course opens a can of particularly slimy worms concerning technological advancements in automobiles, and whether we’re collectively worse at driving because of it. I do know that when I think of all the safety measures – beeps and warnings that light up in the side mirrors when a car is in your blindspot, cars that actually brake for you in whatever the car deems is an emergency, cars that literally drive for stretches without you at all. – when I think of these things I recall Mike Rowe’s talk about how an excess of emphasis on safety often results in more accidents. Risk compensation.
But prudence and compliance are not the same thing, and we should look with deep suspicion upon self-proclaimed experts and professionals who tell us that safety is first, or worse, that ‘our safety is their responsibility.’ Those people are either selling something or running for office.Mike Rowe, Safety Third
I haven’t heard much from Mr. Rowe lately, but maybe he’s just all worn out from the world proving him right at every turn. Also I think he does a lot of his work via Facebook, and I’m not there anymore. I’m not much of anywhere anymore.
Anyway, cars: The one real issue I’ve had with both of our cars stems from the fact that you don’t put a key in the ignition anymore. The obvious other end of that situation is that you don’t have to remove a key when you are finished driving. Removing the key was always the way you knew – without having to think about it – that the damn car was all the way off and you could get out. Whether you put it in park – or in 1st for manual transmissions – before you turned it off was up to you. But now the key never leaves the pocket, and there have been a couple of times that I left the car running for a while. Once was at a kid’s soccer practice – over an hour of hanging out at an indoor arena while my car was running outside in the parking lot. Not the best situation.
Slightly better, though, than the time I left our daughter (it was our first baby! I wasn’t used to it yet!) in the infant seat in the car for a good 20 minutes while I was in the grocery store. She was under a year old. I remembered just as the cashier was ringing me up. I can’t imagine the look on my face.
That wasn’t the key’s fault.
Anyway, I’m still at the dealership, and it’s just reached the limit of the time they said it would take “at the longest.” I expect these things to go worse than expected, so I expect to not be leaving soon. But I did just experience the one thing that can unsettle the most patient temperament: Someone who came into the waiting room 30 minutes after I did has just been told her car is ready. It doesn’t matter how different her services probably were, that one stings a little. My patience wanes. But at least my beard is sweating under a face mask in a warm room that smells like incense and car air fresheners.
One more paragraph from that other essay:
If an alien stumbled upon Earth, having no prior knowledge of us, and spent a month or two observing the USA, the cognitive dissonance would leave it utterly confused. It would write in its journal: “Nation incapable of distinguishing between victory and defeat. Loudest voices have total control, insist they are oppressed. Progress towards future rendered nearly impossible by obsession with past. Beautiful place, everyone hates it.”
Maybe I’ll keep working on it and post at some point after all.
-Is it in gear, Comrade Citizen?-
Algorithms and machine learning and all, so the fact that this happened is probably because I searched from my own computer. You might get different results. Anyway, I googled “the snapdragons smelled buttery delilo,” and the second result was something I had written in 2011:
“I think I am just reading things to find the beautiful words. I don’t really know how much the story means to me, in the end. I do know that this is why I need fiction – non fiction doesn’t say beautiful things. Or maybe it does. But if that’s not fiction, then nothing is. I don’t know what snapdragon is, don’t know what it looks like. What it smells like. I don’t need to anymore, thanks to Don Delillo:
It was the rooftop summer, drinks or dinner, a wedged garden with a wrought iron table that’s spored along its curved legs with oxide blight, and maybe those are old French roses climbing the chimney pot, a color called maiden’s blush, or a long terrace with a slate surface and birch trees in copper tubs and the laughter of a dozen people sounding small and precious in the night, floating over the cold soup toward skylights and domes and water tanks, or a hurry-up lunch, an old friend, beach chairs and takeout Chinese and how the snapdragons smell buttery in the sun.
When you can start with the simple rooftop summer, something that just says “this is where we sat when” and end up at “the snapdragons smell buttery in the sun” without a missed anything between, you’ve built more than a dozen carpenters could in a month. You’ve built another forever.”
All of that because a poem that I read at Naive Haircuts reminded me of that passage in Underworld by Don Delillo. If you have any interest in poetry at all, or maybe especially if you have none, follow the link and read his poems. The images are so crisp and the music is so clear that I could read those poems out loud and actually like the sound of my own voice.
I haven’t been right about much during this plague – note what I said in the very first plague diary:
For the record, my early prediction for the Societal Freeze brought about by the Perfect Vison [sic] Plague is that here in the United States it will be over much sooner than we think. We will have overreacted in effective ways, and we will look back on this whole thing as a job well done.Me, 3/16/2020
I mean there’s wrong, and then there’s “the polls say Hillary is going to win in a landslide” wrong. But my initial plague prediction blows right past that and sets a whole new bar for prognosticative failure.
Why do I bring this up now? Because, as I guessed just a couple of posts ago, soccer has already backpedaled. I called this one correctly, for a change. The King County numbers have steadily been climbing, and now we’ve moved from a moderate to a high risk county. Practices will be little to no contact again, and though the soccer club didn’t come out and say it, this can only mean that the league games scheduled for this weekend are canceled.
But how’s the bridge coming along, you ask?
Those are some kind of maintenance platforms on the underside. They’re not doing much, aside from whatever it takes to make sure the bridge doesn’t collapse, even with nothing on it. Note the prison-esque concrete misery of its Soviet style design. It was built in 1984, so it is very much a Cold War construction in the spirit of surviving Mutually Assured Destruction. Unfortunately, it couldn’t even survive traffic. I remember 1984. I was 9 years old and terrified of nuclear war. Screw you, The Day After. The Foucault-like observation tower on left of the picture is the watchtower for the lower bridge, officially the Spokane Street Swing Bridge. But I know I’ve been over all this before.
City council member Lisa Herbold was kind and brave enough to send out a survey asking the very in depth and technical question of whether we, the people, would prefer to repair the bridge, or to replace it. There’s so many ways to mock that move that I don’t know where to start. If you like, you can throw in your vote here. My vote is for replacement. I think it’s high time – and an absolutely perfect opportunity – to be ambitious. This thing’s gonna cost a fortune no matter what, so let’s be bold and creative and build something beautiful. Pull a full Singapore and find someone who will design and build a bridge that will have the whole world talking. As a rule I avoid negative generalizations about America and Americans, mostly because it is the stock and trade of the least intellectually creative people out there – Americans are fat, Americans are selfish, Americans are lazy and won’t walk anywhere, etc. Nobody hates Americans like Americans, because self-loathing is peak virtue signaling. It’s such a clever dodge. You can’t be criticized very effectively if nobody hates you as much as you hate yourself.
Jesus, I digress. Here’s a negative generalization about America/Americans: Our urban construction is based almost exclusively on the principle of Easy, Fast, and
Cheap Inexpensive. Our cities are not visually, aesthetically pleasing. It is uninspiring to look at them, and uninspiring to walk in them. There is nothing to wake the spirit. Nothing to be proud of. Maybe someone could run around select streets in San Fransisco or Chicago or New York and take some iPhone photos, then hit them with a good instagram filter and say “look how beautiful,” but overall they’re real downers. They look best at night, without exception, because all you can see is the lights. But now Seattle has a chance to etch out a small fissure between itself and its deep pseudo-solcialist branding by doing something grand and moving with this bridge, instead of just taxing us with another dull, gray way to slow people down.
A note in closing: I received about a week’s worth of traffic here yesterday, and there is no ready evidence of any particular reason. No incoming links, pingbacks, no particular post with excess views, nothing. Just a lot of hits to the home page. So if you are a someone out there who directed viewers my way yesterday, I say thank you. Thank you very much.
-Build it better, Comrade Citizen!-
Wait wait WAIT. 5:30? In the morning? I thought it was 6:30. I’m not feeling very “out of bed at 5:30” today, so I must have been reading the clock wrong. I’ll have to go back upstairs and check. Between the rain and the tinnitus I was probably just going to lay there awake for a while, anyway, so it really doesn’t matter. Gives me more time alone with my coffee. Coffee and….Roger Waters? Polarizing fellow, I know. But I’ve like most of his stuff, even post-Floyd. I do remember listening to an album he made sometime maybe 10 years ago. It was lousy. But let’s drift back to The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking. Classic Pink Floyd-ish album that tells a story. A panicked flight from civilization, sex (slightly unhealthy?), failed Thoreau-ian escapism, alcoholism, psychotic collapse, eventual comfort. Maybe:
[Waitress:] "You wanna cup of coffee?" [Customers:] "Heh, Turn that *****ing juke box down You want to turn down that juke box....loud in here" [Waitress:] "I'm sorry, would you like a cup of coffee? Ok, you take cream and sugar? Sure." In truck stops and hamburger joints In Cadillac limousines In the company of has-beens And bent-backs And sleeping forms on pavement steps In libraries and railway stations In books and banks In the pages of history In suicidal cavalry attacks I recognise... Myself in every stranger's eyes And in wheelchairs by monuments Under tube trains and commuter accidents In council care and county courts At Easter fairs and sea-side resorts In drawing rooms and city morgues In award winning photographs Of life rafts on the China seas In transit camps, under arc lamps On unloading ramps In faces blurred by rubber stamps I recognise... Myself in every stranger's eyes And now, from where I stand Upon this hill I plundered from the pool I look around I search the skies I shade my eyes So nearly blind And I see signs of half remembered days I hear bells that chime in strange familiar ways I recognise... The hope you kindle in your eyes It's oh so easy now As we lie here in the dark Nothing interferes, it's obvious How to beat the tears That threaten to snuff out The spark of our love
We had a downed tree on the road just outside our not-so-dead-end street yesterday. It had been pretty blustery the night before. I headed out Monday morning to do the homework kit distribution at The Boy’s school, and ran into this. It’s bigger than it looks. I do think I probably could have wrangled it out of the way, but that’s a pretty soft probably. There was a brief internal dialogue about the gritty self-reliance that could clear the mess right away and do the neighbors a service, right now, vs. driving off in the other direction and calling the government to come clean it up, eventually. I chose the latter, and still feel dirty. My strongest rationalization was that even though the area still had power, I didn’t have time to be sure that there weren’t any power lines involved in the mess. Besides, it’s just as fast (for me) to turn around and go the other way. Depending on the destination, the direction in which we leave the house is often just a matter of how we feel at the time. The victory was secured by The State on this day.
It’s pretty perfectly laid across the road, though. Conspicuously so. For just a short, quick-pulsed second I had that ambush feeling.
The neighbor dads and I are looking to go in together on one good-sized, gas powered chainsaw for us to use in case a tree comes down sometime that hems us into our not-so-dead-end street (or worse, God forbid). Waiting for Seattle DOT to come out on their schedule won’t be feeling like a very good idea at that point.
It’s funny, I just found the COVID-19 Glossary on the King County site. You know how I love me some definitions. Check this one out:
Obviously this kind of thing is about as moving as a coma by now. “Often overestimates the actual…” Translation: “Does not represent reality.” Err on the side of panic, I guess. CYA. I understand. I guess I recognize myself in every stranger’s attempt to go blameless.
“…and can make a disease seem more deadly than it is.” You don’t mean to say…it couldn’t really be possible that…I mean, no. Right?
Also, I was thinking yesterday, has there been a single announcement from the CDC along the lines of “Hey! Good news!” or has literally everything they’ve learned been worse than what they already knew? I don’t think SCIENCE is any different than we poor, common people when it comes to a bias towards the negative. Especially in groups. Company loves misery.
Wind advisory today, gusts up to 50mph. We might be looking for that chainsaw sooner than we thought.
When I was building the plague patio, I remember using the plate compactor. I loved it. I love things that are built for a specific purpose – especially if it’s a kind of odd, very specialized purpose – and does it really well. I mean, that plate compactor is good for maybe two things: compacting solid surfaces, and weighing down bodies at the bottom of a lake. To fire that thing up, look at the chaos in front of me, then look back at the order and beauty that it left behind, was a truly gratifying, steadying experience.
I read a short book once about the healthiest, longest-living communities in the world. There were a handful scattered around, from a town somewhere in California, to an Italian island, a city I think in Japan, maybe China. In other words, all over the world, thoroughly separate from one another, yet full of healthy people who lived long lives. I think the author called them Blue Zones. (Yes). In his research, the writer found that all of the zones shared a small number, maybe 5, of common characteristics. Diets varied because of differing climates/agricultures, but I think there were common food threads along the lines of maybe low salt content, little to no processed foods, etc. One of the things that stuck out for me, the thing I always think of first when I remember that book, was that they all believed in having a purpose. Something to get you up and going in the morning that feels important. Something to gratify and steady you.
In that regard I think I envy the activists and the protesters. It cannot be said that they don’t wake up with a purpose every day. They are probably gratified and steadied by it, to a great extent. Especially because they are in no danger of waking up and feeling like they aren’t needed. No danger of feeling purposeless. Except things are blurry there, because a protester may wake up saying “My purpose is to create justice,” but what that really means in practical terms is “my purpose is to find injustice.” Their purpose dies without it. What happens when your purpose depends on horror? You make sure you don’t run out of it.
So beware, I guess, the dedicated problem solvers. They’ll do more than anyone else to make sure there are problems to solve.
I don’t know what my purpose is. Home and family, broadly speaking. Specifically, things like this:
I could certainly scrounge up a before picture, but won’t. It originally matched the other cabinets – maple, smooth, flat, no depth or character – so we got weird and wanted to start changing things. Initially we thought we’d paint all of the cabinets, but that’s a pain in the neck and we’re stopping with the island. It matches the wainscoting I just did in the entry with the shaker/craftsman style. This is the 4th different look I’ve given this island in 3 years. The butcher block has been there through 3 of them, and isn’t going anywhere. Unless we move. If that happens (when, eventually), we’re going to replace it with something cheap, and take it with us wherever we go. That walnut top is the sort of thing that lives are built around.
My next purpose is the floor. I’m replacing all of that, too. I guess we’re not moving for a long time.
Other purposes? I’ve been taking piano lessons for several months now. I like it, but I didn’t practice at all last week. The teacher is going to be disappointed in me tonight.
Arabic – I found a reputable place through which I can take online courses, and have applied. They’re past due on responding to me, so I have to follow up there.
Anyway, Hitler had a purpose. Dahmer had a purpose. Looters have a purpose. Don’t mistake purpose for virtue, I guess. It’s one thing to wake up with something that motivates you, it’s quite another thing to be able to go to bed knowing you’ve left behind something beautiful.
The flame in our gas fireplace doesn’t get very high. For a couple of years it also took a long time to light. We’d flip the switch and wait, and step back a little bit, and watch with that jack-in-the-box tension building until it suddenly blasted on with a force that rattled the glass. It was a situation that hinted not very subtly at eventual disaster, and I did the usual thing: Searched the internet for quick fixes to my problem, and found none. Then I searched around for local gas fireplace services, found a few but balked at the probable price tag, combined with the (at the time) possibility that they wouldn’t even come into our house anyway. I eventually figured out what the problem was and what needed to be fixed (that internet again. If you don’t have one yet…), ordered a couple of parts that arrived in 2 days, installed them and got our fire turning on in a way that can probably be best described with a clever British turn of phrase that begins with “right as” and invokes biscuits, the Queen’s ankles, or something seaworthy. Or a combination of the three. “Right as eating biscuits off the Queen’s ankles in a cuddy boat.” Something. Like. That.
So now we don’t have to run out of the house when we turn the fire on and wait for it to ignite, but the flame isn’t any bigger. I assume that with more flame there would be more heat, but it rarely gets anything like cold here in Seattle, so It isn’t a real concern. As it is, the low flame makes for a really nice morning mood. Any hotter and I wouldn’t want the blanket. Any brighter and I wouldn’t be quite so relaxed. As much as I would love a real fire, part of what I love about the dark winter mornings is the quiet and solitude. If I had to rattle irons and logs, and wrestle with a flue catch, and kick up a burning wood smell in the house, it would probably just wake everyone up.
Robert Hayden knew about waking up with fire:
Those Winter Sundays
Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?
I wrote a paper about that poem a few years ago. Organized it into three sections, each one focused on one word in the title. It was one of those papers that was more fun than work.
There are frogs croaking with an Amazonian thickness in the section of the Green River that runs alongside The Boy’s soccer practice. It’s a huge facility down in Tukwila where the Sounders sometimes practice. Tonight it is neither the frogs nor the Sounders that have my attention. Rather it is is the fact that for the first time since returning to practice (that must have been July, maybe June), they are going to be able to compete. Practice has returned to a full-contact situation, so they won’t be relegated to their little orange cone cages in the corners of the field. They’ll be all over the place, knocking into each other, tugging on shirts, lowering shoulders, and maybe even throwing the occasional elbow. Until now, soccer practice has been a sad little exercise in wishing it didn’t suck. A test of patience and the ability of a nine year-old boy to think of the long term in order to tolerate a lousy short term.
It didn’t work. He hated it. He complained every day that he had practice. Begged us to let him quit so much that we almost gave in. But in the absence of an alternative, we weren’t going to tale away his only real physical outlet. His pent up energy would be the end of us all. But yesterday he heard that practices would be full-on again, with no social distancing, and his attitude changed. A little. It wasn’t very perceptible, because he’s guarded and would be giving away far too much of himself if he were to come out and say that he was happy to go play soccer. He continued to insist that soccer is lame, but gave himself away a little by saying that he was just looking forward to trying out his new soccer shoes (my God, their feet grow fast). He’s only nine, but he already acts as stupid as the rest of us. My work is done.
Fast forward! It’s tomorrow now. Today, Thursday. The phone just buzzed and showed me that The Girl has an actual soccer game on the schedule now. October 17th. I am an eternal optimist, but also a realist, and I think that 10 days is more than enough time for everything to be rolled back, and I won’t be at all surprised if the game gets canceled before they get to play. Wouldn’t make much sense for them to cancel it afterwards.
I said it here before, I doubt this will be the last time. I know that people “aren’t ready” for close contact. That for a lot of people this is all happening too fast. But I remember that none of those people had any trouble trusting the government (and the science and data it cited) when the government was shutting us down. It’s the same government, the same science, and the same data that are opening us back up, so it doesn’t make any sense to choose (and it is a choice) not to trust them now. And this isn’t exactly fast. We’re still in a world of social distancing markers on the floors, one-way grocery store aisles, special shopping hours for vulnerable populations, mostly – and very often fully – remote schooling in most areas, mask requirements just about everywhere indoors, pro sports with no fans, closed parking lots at parks, and sad, sheepish anticipation for every little peep that comes out of the governor’s office. We’re not walking the plank here. We’re dipping a toe or two.
And if I’m being honest, I do fully expect to see it rolled back. There will be an increase in positive cases soon, unless the governor thinks he can be re-elected without it. So we’ll cancel our soccer games, tape off the playgrounds, close the libraries, and increase capacity at bars, with expanded hours. For you know, coping. I might finally get actually annoyed when there’s a vaccine, fully vetted and approved by SCIENCE and issued by TEH GUVERMINT, and the people who have based every step of their COVID lives on government-relayed declarations from scientists are suddenly all “you’re just gonna believe it’s safe because they said so?”
People are friggin’ weird.
One more development to report now that it’s the future. It happened last night as I was saying goodnight to The Boy. We had just finished our highly classified bedtime ritual when he looked at me and said, “I can’t wait for practice on Saturday. I really like soccer now.” He’s a better man than I. It would have taken me months to change my tune.
-Get back in the game, Comrade Citizen!-
They won’t let me stop writing plague diaries! After what felt like months without much movement beyond the usual bickering, we had a slew of changes announced yesterday. Among them: bars get to shut down an hour later every night, which is nice because the streets will be that much emptier for the drunk drivers. It’s utterly (*searches for an adjective to convey the proper level of emphasis without falsely indicating surprise) stomach-turning (that’ll do!) to note how important alcohol is to our society. In a global pandemic that has people clawing at each other’s faces in pursuit of the right way to react, the best way to limit the spread, the best balance between safety and freedom in order to minimize the death toll, every single step has been a (sometimes clumsy) dance of prioritization. When historians study us and want to know what we considered to be the most important elements of a healthy society, they will look at our response to COVID-19 and see that the fetters came off of public alcohol abuse more quickly than library access. Go team.
Masks/no masks, six feet/ten feet/no feet, I don’t much care. I mean, you see the (wobbly and hesitant, again) steps they’re taking to get us back on the right track, get us back to a semblance of life like it was back in February, and it of course it isn’t going to be good enough for some people. Especially the ones who insist that everyone in a mask is an idiot who will go gleefully to the gas chambers, which are being built as we speak, at a joint CDC-CNN compound on a plot of land in upstate New York, where AOC will serve your pre-shower coffee to keep you buzzing about fair trade beans while you wait your turn.
But for what I am guessing is a majority of us (yikes – assuming majorities is dangerous work), the loosening of restrictions is simply a welcome step. Something to be pleased about (don’t confuse that with celebratory), and a sign that we’re getting somewhere. Let’s take our time. I don’t have any particular interest in the idea of ripping off the Band-aid. Society is fickle, and to exercise some compassion and generosity in this situation means going slow enough that the people who are still really scared of this thing – whatever you may think of them or their reasons – don’t come completely apart. Not for the selfish reason that it would constitute a problem for the rest of us, but for a reason that we tend to have a very hard time recognizing as legitimate: because it’s kind. Being kind is enough of a reason to do anything.
It is interesting to note that the people who were the least resistant to the restricting of personal liberties are also the ones most resistant to the restoration of them. The people shouting “too soon!” “I’m not ready!” I guess it just goes to show that – whether there was any intended tyranny in the lockdowns and mask mandates or not – in any given population there is a significant number of social agoraphobics who are the most comfortable with the fewest options. Maybe that line at the gas chamber will be longer than I think.
So we’re getting there, slooooowly, and as election day grows nearer I think we can expect to be thoroughly dizzied by the ups and downs, the giving only to take back, then maybe given again, maybe not. But keep your ammo in the bunker for now. We haven’t woken up years later to find out that the virus is gone but the restrictions are not. For all the garment-rending we hear about how this has all been paving the way to an Orwellian future of dirty gray coveralls and electrodes on the nipples for public displays of general happiness, it’s just not happening. Wasn’t ever going to, but preppers gotta prep. I guess what it boils down to for me is this: Nobody reads 1984 and says “Oh yeah, that’s what I want.” Not the left, not the right, not the middle. Not the leaders, not the followers. It’s universally deplorable. Yet everyone seems to be able to point to how the other side is marching us straight there at a double-time. Have you read 1984? I mean yeah, that’s a world in which nobody wants to live. But it occurs to me that it’s also a world over which nobody would want to reign. Why we always think people are trying to get there is beyond me.
-A bar is just a booze library, Comrade Citizen!-
Oh man, I wrote these words on March 20:
When the messages painted on the windows progress from “OPEN TO GO,” to “NO FOOD,” we’ll be in trouble. From there we’re only a National Guard call-up away from saying “LOOTERS WILL BE SHOT.”
Really got my Nostradamus on there. Not about the food of course, but the NG and the looters – well I suppose you can say that riots are just around the corner any time you want to say it, and it won’t be long before someone proves you right. IN this case it wasn’t food and toilet paper that had them marauding into businesses through smashed storefronts, it was the essentials: Louis Vuitton handbags and North Face jackets.
We did not have food shortages. And we do not have food shortages here. Yesterday, the girl child made doughnuts for the first time in a while. It’s October, so she went full decorative gourd season and made pumpkin spice flavor. I believe I have just heard the coffee pot go silent, so it’s time to grab a cup of joe and a doughnut and see what’s what.
Off in a few minutes to go handout homework kits at The Boy’s school. People drive through the alley at the school’s entrance, pop their trunks, and we remove the homework they’re turning in, replacing it with the work for the week ahead. Some people don’t pop their trunks (or let’s be honest here, the hatches on their SUV’s – that’s the majority of vehicles out there) because they actually have a car old enough that it doesn’t have an automatic, electronic, mind-controlled door release mechanism. Those people lean out their windows and try to yell to us behind their cars, “you have to – no! You have to push the – right under the keyhole, under the – it’s a place where you can put the key to lock and unlock – what? Yes, I do still have to actually use a key to start my car, but just press there under the keyhole there and – yeah, there you go.”
Some folks are slightly less concerned about disease transmission, so they just make the exchange between actual hands, through the driver’s window. There’s usually 3 of us passing out the kits, parents from different grades, and between us we know a lot of the people coming through, so fetching their kids’ kits from the bins is automatic. For some, though, we have to ask who their kids are, and I always feel like a jerk for that. Like someone who’s way too important to have taken the time to get to know them. Not true in any way, of course. You can’t know everyone. But you also can’t help feel what you’re feeling, until you’ve done the work to change that emotional pathway for yourself. It doesn’t happen automatically.
There’s one very cautious fellow who doesn’t even roll down his window, and none of us know him, so he holds up a sign in his window with the names and grades of his two children. My guess is that he disinfects the homework bags when he gets home, before touching them.
Quick fade, as I have to head out: The fact that I always select my music – for posting here – in the mornings has a lot to do with my choices. I don’t do fast in the morning. Or bright, generally. With music or anything else. I like it low and slow. I also liked Netflix’s series Dark, as much for the music as anything. This is the opening theme:
Hold back and Fight among the stars We could be the lucky ones If we could only levitate Fly low dear Dance beneath the trees If only we had oxygen Then we’d begin to breathe And we can watch While the beauty takes its toll And we can stop While the world retreats Lie low dear Fix yourself a life We could be the wealthy ones If we could only emigrate These walls get closer by the night Everything is delicate And everything in flight And we can watch While the beauty takes its toll And we can stop While the world retreats
It’s dark in the mornings again, so I’m back to prepping the coffee at night and sitting in the dark house for the short run before people start waking up. My wife will also be up early (already is today), but she’ll go straight to the office and get to work.
I was up much later than usual two nights ago, having attended one of those themed parties where I was the only one who showed up and everyone (still just me) had to get a new modem and router configured before they (I) went to bed. Everyone else was already sleeping.
We have moments at home now when four of us are on different Zoom calls at the same time, and it shows. What’s a fella to do? I upgraded the Internet service to a 1 gigabit plan, a large increase from our previous plan of 250 megabits. I found out tout suite (not really using that properly) that our modem was not robust enough for a gigabit’s worth of sauce, so I put my googlefingers to work, found a modem/router combo that would represent egregious overkill in terms of bandwidth capacity, and Amazonned it up. The new modem powered up nicely, then at some point when I wasn’t looking the lights all went into an epileptic episode of some sort, which I found through a quick internet search indicated a thoroughly bricked status. Pack it back up and return it, wait for the replacement.
Replacement arrived. (And keep in mind the beauty of this all taking place in a space of 3 days, with no shipping charges) Finally, Wednesday night, my wife wrapped up her meeting with her team in India at about 11:30 and I got to work on installing the new goods. Modem did great. Comcast cooperated. The router resisted. At about 1:00 am, I plugged the old modem (with built-in router) back in and went to bed. I’ll get back into that crap this weekend. For now I just want to mow the lawn and spread some grass seed. The weather’s perfect for it.
I hear the President has tested positive for COVID-19. This should be…another chance to be disappointed in just about everybody.
I just deleted several paragraphs because I remembered that I got in trouble a few years back for writing about something related the boy’s school (at the time, the girl was there as well) which violated their policy for people volunteering at the school. I did not know because I had never been shown said policy, but ignorance is no excuse, and all that. But in that instance there was a sort of socio-political slant to what I had written – and not the approved slant, at that – so I had to remove the post. I didn’t like the censorship vibe, but I read the policy and she was correct – I had violated it. No use kicking and screaming.
It was a post I had written on 9/11, I think in 2018, briefly lamenting such things as false sincerity and weaponized compassion. It contained this picture and this poem (and I’ll leave it at that):
Pictures of Churches I just want to take pictures of churches and say nice things. To listen to autumn. To listen to wind. To stop saying sorry - I didn’t mean to offend. I just want to take pictures of churches but not with my phone. With a childish foresight. With a childish need. With a long-lonely longing to be whispered to sleep. I just want to take pictures of churches and say nice things. I want father to hear them. I want mother with me. I want these thin thirty years to fall into the sea.
I had been working for a very long time on another poem that I was going to release on 9/11 this year, but I forgot. It’ll have to wait until next year, which is for the best because it really isn’t ready anyway.