spring sprang sprung

With the year’s first sighting of cigar-smoking man (scroll to the bottom of that page for full enlightenment), we solemnly herald the official arrival of the so-called warm season (so-called by me, that is). Cigar-smoking man (or cigar-smoking guy, as he is also sometimes known) appears to be growing a beard. He was not in the company of his lady friend. I wonder if they are still an item, as they say (the other, more generic they, that is).

Warm season brings a slow shedding of clothing. An increase in flesh exposed to the sun’s rays. Perhaps even corporate nudity. Certainly tourists.  And what I fear most of all: mosquito death squads. It’s all too much.

What will I write about this warm season without sounding highly repetitive.

Wait, don’t read those other posts…it will all soon become painfully familiar.

peering out from dormancy

The recently sliced up confetti of old words sifts through my fingers as the primitive beats of old heavy music pulses in the other room. Winter is upon us, oh yes, with the wind and the snow and the sleet and the penetrating coldness. Every year the shock of how slowly real winter arrives here beats me about the head with a large stick come late December, early Januaryish. Cold fingers tapping on the keys, the chill of the glass in these windows, how reading in the sunroom suddenly means reading in the ice fishing shack. And how I become a grumbly old man, rug thrown across my lap, scarf encircling my neck, unwashed hair standing on end, burning words in my brain to stay warm somewhere, if not on the outer surfaces, then at least on the inner ones.

I still prefer it to the stifling madness of a city summer. I find it easier to get warmer than to get cooler. The lack of mosquitoes in winter thrills me. Sometimes I loiter in my front yard, teeth chattering, for the mere joy of not being eaten alive by those tiny flying demons.

The bitter cold purifies. Most living things die out there. Or go dormant. I go semi-dormant myself, though this state is not dissimilar from other times of year for me.

On cold days, humans appear on the street as rapid bundles of fabric. On hot days, humans appear on the street as languid loops of flesh. Take your pick.

I’m making good use of my vacation from the-place-that-shall-not-be-mentioned-by-name. In addition to copious reading, I’m indulging in a bit of paper management, something which I tend to ignore the necessity of for months at a time. This activity chiefly entails clearing off a desk I no longer use, famed dumping ground of mail that may or may not require saving and paper scraps scrawled with cryptic notations that I must now decipher in order to determine their value. But it also extends to shredding old writing: abandoned manuscripts, hard copies of blog entries, failed stories, and handwritten pieces that have since been either typed up or rejected. Destroying my own words gives me secret pleasure (well, it’s no secret anymore). So much of what I’ve written is dead to me, and I am merely finalizing that. The end of the year is a good time to do this. One desires a clean slate, at least on some levels. We are of course multi-slated individuals, and not all slates require erasing.

Yes, so here I am talking about the weather and my fascinating domestic life. It’s not what I wanted to write about, but I have not figured out yet how to write about what it is that I want to write about. Oddly enough this past summer was more fertile for that, so perhaps the heat is good for something after all.

Playlist for above activities and subsequent transposition into words:

Universal Order of Armageddon – Discography
Sleep – Volume One
Charles Mingus – Mingus Moves

tenodera aridifolia = one riot, a failed raid

The One and The Other are on vacation this week. Or they may have time traveled or transcended reality or something. It’s hard to say for sure. They are unreliable narrators. I overheard them jabbering about surfing wicked eddies in the space-time continuum. As I left the room, I saw them out of the corner of my eye, a brief flash. I think they were holding towels. Perhaps they’re now cavorting with mattresses on Sqornshellous Zeta.

I saw many birds this weekend. Birds. Birds. Birds. I went to the park. Twice. I saw a Chinese Mantis (Tenodera aridifolia). It flew across my path and landed in a tree. Fun!

On Saturday night I played Bananagrams. I felt sure I’d win on account of all the anagramming I’ve been doing lately, but I did not. Win, that is. One of my opponents was a known fierce competitor. Fastest bananagrammer in the West, they say. Now, I’m an anagram purist and do not think you should be able to dump letters, even considering that you are penalized by having to take extras when you do. When I mentioned this I was accused of being difficult. I ended up screwed several times at the end of a round when I picked up everybody’s crappy discarded letters. I think I prefer Boggle and Scrabble.

Work is work is work is work is work. Bah. Read poetry outside at midday near the water. So many old white men in suits. Just wait until they get the corporate nudity memo. Bloated bellies, sagging flesh tubes, scraggly grey chest hair…THE WORLD WILL SEE IT ALL. No one will be intimidated again by your fetid air of combed-over superiority.

Reading again about how the lucrative used tire market is the nefarious cause behind one of my summer woes. Isn’t that a bitter pill. I can’t get over it. Me, who hates cars and doesn’t even own one. I dream of an apparently pre-1987 world where I could actually enjoy my deck instead of shrinking from it in fear for months at a time. Where assassins did not invade the sanctity of my home, lurking in the low shadows, inserting their proboscises into my flesh to make a blood withdrawal. Used tires? Are you kidding me?

So here I am with my brand new 1970s rec room molester carpet, my office looking much tidier as a result, the shaggy blunt brutality of Monday closing in on me. The horror, the horror. And those brats The One & The Other not even here to entertain me. Damn them.

This didn’t really go where I wanted it to go.

mosquitoes = o quiet moss

It’s possible I saw more mosquitoes than birds during my birding expedition. I probably now have West Nile Virus. They are going to spray stuff from airplanes to kill the mosquitoes where I was looking at birds. Really. I wouldn’t lie about that. Think about not ever going to work again. Just think about it. For one. heart. beat. Fuck. I saw a dead slug on the sidewalk. I can’t take it. Why is it so easy to dislike people without even knowing their faces or their names. And yet. a squashed slug. crushes me. Farley walked right past a cat. Didn’t even see it. I think the cat was mocking him. There were a lot of vultures at Soldiers Delight. Hanging out on the cancer towers. Airing their wings and such before kettling up. It’s a vulture’s world out there. So many dead things to feast on. Because life is too much of everything. And so things are always dying and being replaced. And if you’re a vulture…well, I don’t feel the need to explain any further. There are too many people. And there are too many things. Too many people things and too many thing-people. The other night I dreamed I was living in an outdoor camp in a forest. I was part of a team. Our job was to watch over the forest, to help people traveling through it and to keep poachers out. We slept outside in little beds and watched informational films that helped us do our jobs better. How is this relevant? Let me put on my Jungian hat and pontificate. I guess maybe I want to help people instead of rot at a desk all day? Maybe not a job, per se, but something. Why not. Jung said many of his patients were successful middle-aged people who suddenly realized their lives were empty and meaningless. Hooray. Nothing changes throughout modern history, does it. It. just. gets. worse. But what does ‘successful’ mean in this context. I suspect it means the opposite of what I consider success. I am not interested in ‘social standing’. I am not interested in ‘moving up the ladder’. Of course that kind of success is going to make your life feel empty and meaningless. Of course it is. I hate your filthy money and everything. it. stands. for. I just want my time. That is all. Why is it so difficult. It seems like it belongs to me. But actually right now it largely belongs to a mammoth financial institution by way of a prominent American university by way of the United States Government by way of taxes paid by my friends and neighbors and complete strangers. So, in a way their time belongs to me, but not really because I give it to a big faceless bank, which means the people ‘moving up the ladder’ own it all. And their lives are empty and meaningless because of it. If they just stopped the process by which they are taking our time, I think we’d all be better off.

Where’s my cave. I have some paintings to make. They tell a very different story.

And yet…at work the ghost of Edouard Levé was haunting my mailbox. So there is that.

anagrams = an arm gas

There is a Grand Prix auto race going on in front of my work today. Cars that reach speeds of 175 mph are driving on the city streets. That’s a good idea isn’t it, isn’t it. They sound like giant alien mosquitoes, whining at high pitch. Where is my giant fly swatter. Oversized things are always funny. You should know this. Any object that is much bigger than its normal size is innately humorous. This is some sort of natural law, I believe. I’ve seen forks that are like five feet long and I immediately fell on the floor seized by paroxysms of laughter. There is no denying this. Think about those giant foam cowboy hats. They are not funny because they’re foam; they’re funny because they’re huge. Let’s just agree to agree on this and I won’t say anything more about it.

As you’re pondering very large things that are usually smaller, here are a few anagrams:

EVERYTHING IS IN EVERYTHING = THE TINY GREEN IVY HIVE GRINS

AMERICAN HANDBOOK = A MOAN CHOKED BRAIN

ELF GENDER = FERN LEDGE

Today is Thursday and I just ate some pretzel sticks. This means it is the last day of work for me. Hooray. I feel the shackles loosen. Soon I will hulk out and roam unshackled for four five whole days [just made an executive decision to also take Tuesday off]. I thought about taking today off, too, so I could go birding because it’s been awhile since I’ve visited my bird friends. But I decided to come in and make anagrams instead. Plus the creeper carpet is creeping my way and I have a few last minute preparations to make. I am sure I will see my bird friends this weekend instead. Or Tuesday.

This afternoon I plan to drink yerba mate again and do some things. After that who knows. I might write a short play. As F.K. would say, don’t touch my chains.

hot ugly times are a’comin’

Ah, summer in the city, my least favorite time of year here. Yesterday I got my first “Hey buddy, lemme borrow your bike!” [Does anyone actually fall for that?] Then this morning while watering the garden I received my first mosquito bite, courtesy of the invasive Asian Tiger Mosquito, the bane of my summer existence. Soon I will not be able to enter the yard without being swarmed and bitten to my near death. Trickling in on the email lines are the initial reports of random acts of violence committed by hordes of savage bored youth. Calm evenings on the deck are shattered by the incessant hovering and circling of the city’s police chopper. I try to block it all out and dream of living in a tree fort in the middle of an expansive tract of old growth forest. I fail regularly. But sometimes I succeed.

mosquito death squad: now recruiting

Ever since I was a boy, I’ve been marked by members of the blood-sucking insect world as a particularly tasty food source.  I’m not sure why exactly every blood-sucking insect is drawn to me, but I suspect that my easily accessible veins have something to do with it.  Some have dismissed this theory, claiming that insects aren’t intelligent enough to seek out those of us with veins closer to the skin’s surface, but my anecdotal evidence says otherwise.  Others around me with deeper veins remain untouched while I serve as a feeding ground for the entire local mosquito population.  I look at where the bites occur, and for the most part they are directly over the vein.  So I’m willing to give those blood-suckers the credit where it’s due.

In the past, I’ve had run-ins with fleas.  Apparently I’m allergic to fleas, but what that really means is that I’m allergic to their saliva.  At one time I lived in a house where fleas also lived, unbeknownst to me.  They began biting me during the night while I was sleeping.  I’d wake with my ankles covered in welts.  Flea bites are prone to infection, and while I took great care not to scratch the bites, they would often become infected anyway.  During a several month stretch, I was put on antibiotics three or four times.  I began sleeping in layers with socks pulled far up over my pants, despite the summer temperatures.  Nothing I did seemed to stop them.  I literally thought I was going to lose my mind.  To say that my quality of life declined would be an absurdly gross understatement.  I flea-bombed the house and yet the fleas lived on.  I finally bought some powder online that was guaranteed.  I had to move all the furniture and work this stuff into the carpet really good before vacuuming.  I think that finally got them, but I moved out anyway.

These days the worst offenders are the mosquitoes.  Have you heard of the Asian tiger mosquito?  I had not made its acquaintance until recently, but apparently somewhere on my block there is a major breeding ground.  I can’t linger outside my back door for more than three seconds without being bitten.  The tiger mosquito came to the United States from Asia via the used automobile tire trade.  These mosquitoes like to breed in water that pools up in used tires sitting around outdoors.  Hooray, yet another scourge we can blame on car culture!  These mosquitoes are like regular mosquitoes on steroids.  Whereas other mosquitoes come out to feed only at dusk, the Asian tiger mosquito feeds all day long!  Isn’t that great?  So now I can’t even go out into my yard in the middle of the day without getting bitten at least six times.  Another great thing about Asian tiger mosquitoes is that their bites last much longer on average than regular mosquito bites.  I’ve found my bites from these fiends itch for several days, whereas regular mosquito bites usually fade rather quickly, often within the hour.  Even more awesome is that these mosquitoes are like ninjas; you don’t feel them while they’re biting you so you can’t even attempt to stop them.  They are also known to be particularly agile in avoiding being slapped.

Tiger mosquitoes breed in any containers holding water, and so have thrived in residential areas.  Many of the birds and bats that consume massive quantities of insects don’t live in the city, and so there is not much in the natural world of the city to keep these mosquito populations in check.  The best defense is not to allow water to sit outside in any type of container.  But when you live in a rowhouse community, this presents a problem.  You may prevent breeding in your own yard, but you can’t stop everyone else from letting water sit around.

My solution this summer has been to stay out of the yard.  Lately, though, some mosquitoes have gotten into the house.  They bite me at random times and I suffer quietly while they go sleep off the drunken stupor they’ve gained from gorging on my blood.  Awhile later they return to bite me again.  Eventually they die, I guess, but by then it doesn’t matter…they’ve done their damage.

I’m really looking forward to winter.

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