the musicality of everyday life

Day two of rain on my face. Harder rain, colder rain. Less enthused about it. Wednesday’s unraveling of the week’s semblance of sanity. Sameness shakes through the bones. What is today from yesterday and next week. Listen to epic chanting bands as blood pools in useless sitting legs. Message light on phone appears without phone ringing. It’s a mystery I don’t want to solve. Remember to stand and walk around. Vacate vocation. Evoke smoke. Dream a little longer in the morning, don’t let time thieves tear it away. Afternoons of fast guitar picking on taut strings of sudden tendons stretched and longing. I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t hear it. There is nothing here anymore.

hiding under my deck from the insect overlords

Channel 6 anchorman Kent Brockman mistakenly reports on a master race of giant space ants.

Welcome to the Kingdom of Ants. I don’t know what goes on here, but I like it. Actually I don’t care for ants. I particularly don’t like when they start that business of traveling in lines. Nor do I like them crawling incessantly around on my kitchen counter or invading the hummingbird feeders (even though there are no hummingbirds this year? where are they? hello?? I created an urban paradise for you and you never showed up?). But enough about that. I enjoy the idea of an Ant Kingdom. Do you remember the Simpsons episode where Homer gets sent into space? He bumps into an experimental ant farm, letting the ants loose into the space shuttle. Footage of the accident, depicting ants looming large in the camera lens, is picked up by Springfield’s Channel 6 News. Anchorman Kent Brockman subsequently reports that the shuttle has been taken over by a “master race of giant space ants.” Brockman goes on to state: “I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.  I’d like to remind them that as a trusted TV personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves.” On the wall behind him, Brockman has hung a homemade “Hail Ants” sign. Now that’s funny. My roommates and I hung an identical sign in our apartment many years ago. But in reality I’m pretty sure I would not enjoy living under insect overlords. They would likely make me march in lines, which I would hate.

Brockman shows off his obsequious nature.

Mondays are so absurd. Lately I’ve been away from work more than I’ve been at work, which makes being at work now seem all the more ridiculous. I’ve got this sticker at home in a box that says “Why do you work?” I hate that sticker. That’s why it stays in the box. It’s so cold at work and it’s so hot at home and this is a source of perpetual confusion for my body and my mind. This morning it was raining so I suited up in rain gear and then the sun came out as I rode to work sweating in my non-breathable rain gear, as was expected according to this fundamental rule of bike commuting. This evening I rode into the alley and the kid whose grandmother always screams at him was walking toward me, banging a long metal pole of some sort against the pavement. And it was like that scene in The Warriors where David Patrick Kelly clinks the beer bottles together, yelling “Waaaarrrrrriiiorsss, come out to pla-ay!” except substitute a little kid for David Patrick Kelly, a long metal pole for the beer bottles, and a cold blank look for “Waaaarrrrrriiiorsss, come out to pla-ay!” I got off my bike and I was sad.

But I digress. Here are two mostly unedited short pieces I scrawled in my notebook a few months back while riding south on the light rail. I’m not exactly sure where I was going with these at the time. I think I was pondering the 1950s and the beginning of the suburbanization of America. Maybe imagine these as entries in the American Handbook™ that we give to our insect overlords so they’ll understand us better. If we’re lucky maybe they won’t force us all into subterranean caverns and we can keep our decks and our pools and our acres of green green grass.

Deck: A deck is a popular structure attached to a house. When people tire of feeling closed in, they retire to the outdoors, without leaving behind the comfort and security of their home, the deck being an extension of the house and not a separate entity vulnerable to attack. Homeowners enjoy inviting over acquaintances to sit on their decks with them. Often this is accompanied by a meal cooked “en plein air” on a grill that sits proudly on the deck. The man, clad in a masculine-themed apron, always controls the grill. It is his domain. His wife brings him platters heaped with sanitized animal flesh, which he slathers with sauce before neatly placing on the foil-covered surface of the grill. After the meal, the deck people continue drinking themselves into oblivion before finally driving home and/or passing out in their bedrooms.

Pool: A pool is a status symbol popular among the wealthy. In-ground pools are the only ones that anyone cares about. If heated and covered by a screened room to keep out bugs, so much the better. Teenage girls enjoy laying out by the pool as their bratty brothers plot to splash them with water or inflict some other heinous act upon them. Rich mothers bring trays laden with glasses of cold lemonade to poolside. Their daughters sip daintily before applying more tanning oil. Their snotty sons then sneak up and snap the bikini tops of their pretty daughters. When the man of the house arrives home from a tough day at the office, he may, if of a certain disposition, change into his trunks and swim a few laps. But first he tousles his son’s hair in greeting and gazes briefly and uneasily at his daughter before finally kissing his wife on the cheek. He may then pop open an Amstel Light if feeling particularly spent.

Stay tuned for more entries!

Maybe. Depends on if the ants come, I guess.

subject to unmeasured confounders and biases*

Inside it’s freezing cold. Outside it’s blazing hot. I walk out there into the world and my arms remain cold to the touch for a time. After that passes, my hair follicles feel like they are burning in my scalp. My coworker is back visiting from Dhaka, where she reports it is hot, crowded, and smelly, so not much different from Baltimore in summer. I forgot my music today. I don’t even have headphones. This pains me. I also forgot my ID badge. I have no identity. I am no one. I am all of the things we don’t say. And that is a lot. If we even knew them, whatever would we do. A thing occurs and it causes effects and those effects affect you and you wish the thing never occurred even though you made it occur and you could have not made it occur. That was your choice. But you took a stand, for better or for worse. And now there’s just this sort of empty place. Anyway, I read a book and it was the Collected Stories of Carson McCullers and I wrote a long review of it over on Goodreads, but I want to mention it here because I loved it so. I read a lot of it in the cabin when I should probably have been talking to people but I wasn’t, because that is how I am and I know I won’t change and I don’t even want to change, so there. And this book included the novel The Member of the Wedding and it was sad and dark in the way many good books are and it placed me even more in awe of Carson McCullers than I had been before. Growing up is hard and life is not very kind to adolescents and then suddenly you are an adult and what the hell is that. I mean, it’s hard being an adult, too, but maybe not as hard as being a teenager because at least when you are an adult your youthful idealism has been wiped away instead of still in the process of being stomped on by the awakening realities of life and the human condition. I feel strange today, but not in the way I felt strange last week. Perhaps it is the heat, perhaps it is how today is my only day of work this week and it’s odd to me that tomorrow is Friday already. It seems like it should be Monday. And it just keeps getting hotter and hotter and I fear we all may explode like ants under a magnifying glass. But the tomatoes and jalapeños are ripening and new cucumbers are growing, so I guess a few more of them were fertilized after all. The heat is good for that, but not for my mental state. The radio tells me this heat may last well into August and if that is so, I very well may lose my mind. I will lock myself in my room like Kurtz and plot and read and scratch out words and maybe something good will come out of it. But first there is this and that of which I don’t feel like doing on account of my awfulness, and so I will sit here and brood over my jasmine tea for I am into brooding these days and perhaps the tea will warm me up.

Note:  In the American Heritage Dictionary, 3rd edition, the third definition of brood reads as follows:  a) To be deep in thought; meditate.  b) To focus the attention on a subject persistently and moodily; worry.  c) To be depressed.

I am thrilled that this definition of brood offers such a varied and expansive range of what I do so often. I can use this term broadly and no one will know if I am actually worrying, depressed, or just deeply in thought. Some words are so convenient.

*Title of post lifted from a random journal article I saw in a list of search results

the dark place

I woke up last night from a dream where I was lying in bed and couldn’t breathe. There was nothing I could do or say…I just lay there silently choking to death. Sometimes things come along that can’t be shrugged off. And when they do, they trigger a flare from a deep well of banished thoughts and feelings. The urge to sabotage all that is good and pure rises up from the long-cold ashes of the last flare that burned short but fiery. Sometimes, crouching in the dim light of that flare, I want to stab the past in the eye with a pencil. But it’s eyeless and hard to pin down. And then when I stumble into the dark place I’m always still surprised to find such easily corroded materials. Is it the new air that circulates around them, setting off a new round of oxidization? Even now, so many years later, when I’ve struggled so hard to reach the center and stay there, I still have to face these rusted thoughts. Sometimes things come along and heft their weight onto your chest, pressing down on your rib cage until you finally react. And hopefully somewhere within the cracked and and bruised ribs, the wheezing breaths, the bloody foam filling your throat, there is a tiny ghost bird fighting to make it to the surface, to fix its beady black eyes on you and flap its miniature wings in disapproval. It is this…this simple gesture from the wild, apart from the ugliness and flawed brokenheartedness of humanity, that will snap you to attention, will drive you to stand and clear the blood from your throat and speak again out from behind the dirty shroud of inner weakness we all share.


Fridays are invariably weird days for me. The primary reason for this is that I do not work on Fridays. Ever. Which isolates me from the majority of society that does work on Friday. A typical Friday for me transpires thusly: rise anywhere from 7:30-9:30 AM; make coffee and breakfast then eat and drink leisurely in front of the gigantic windows in the living room; sometimes then I’ll shower so that I feel like I am more formally starting the day; after that I often start some laundry and then dick around on the internets for awhile; for the past couple of months I’ve been doing some pro bono indexing for an organization whose board I’m on so I usually work on that for a few hours in the afternoon; at some point I begin to get incredibly stir crazy and so I force myself out of the house, usually on the pretense of checking my PO box down the street; if I’m lucky there’s something in there other than junk mail for the previous renters (today there was a zine from Kurt; thanks, Kurt, even though you have no idea that this blog even exists); if I’m feeling really brave I then ride my bike over to Whole Foods and get groceries (this happens very rarely); or I might go to Whole Foods to get quarters for laundry (I like to use them as my bank since the closest branch of my bank is farther than I feel like riding just to go to the bank); back at home, I might do some more indexing, finish laundry, or if the weather is really nice like it was today, go running; between five and six is when my sweetheart usually gets home and so then we attempt to plan our evening. By this point in the day, I am usually feeling and often acting somewhat insane, but bless her heart, she takes it all in stride.

The main thing about Fridays that usually makes me so crazy is that I hardly talk to anyone. Today was unusual in that I went to the bike shop and talked for almost 10 minutes to a guy I know who works there. Beyond that my interactions with people today have been limited to my request for quarters from the Whole Foods Customer Service person. You would think that I could somehow fix this problem, but most people work on Fridays so I’m kind of screwed. That’s why most of my interpersonal contact on Fridays comes from some sort of retail exchange.

This happens over and over and over again like clockwork every Friday. I’m hoping that the warm weather will help things because then I will just go ride a metric century on my bike every Friday, come home, eat like a horse, then go to sleep at 7 PM, which is when the typical witching hour begins.

Okay, before I go try to figure out what to do with myself this evening I just wanted to mention one other thing. I used to have a blog on Xanga, and I must say I liked Xanga better than I like Blogger. Sure, the place is overrun with preteens, but at least they sometimes randomly comment on your blog and you can have some fun back-and-forth with them. No one on Blogger seems to randomly comment on blogs. I think part of the reason for this is that it’s almost like it’s set up to keep you isolated from other bloggers. You can’t search the damn site; all you can do is hit that stupid “Next Blog” button, which inevitably pulls up some Cyrillic gibberish or maybe some Eastern European mom’s photo page for her kid. And you can’t subscribe to other people’s pages like you can on Xanga, so how are you supposed to easily get back to other pages? I’m certainly not going to bookmark every freaking Blogger page I might like. I guess I could do the RSS feed thing but that’s not as good as having subscriptions built into the site. I originally thought that moving to Blogger would be a good thing; I somehow had this perception that it was a more grown-up type of blog site, but now I just think it’s kind of lame. I think I just miss the interactive quality of Xanga. Anyway, I just had to get that off my chest.

crazy time

>It is now ten days before the deadline of the annual photo contest at work. I start to become a little unhinged during this period. Caffeine intake increases, behavior becomes more erratic, and my patience with contest participants drops sharply off. This temporal madness will last for at least a couple of weeks.

As usual I have more to say, but no time to say it in. I need to blank out with my book and eat my lunch with my back to this infernal screen.

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