The list of things I had in my youth that I later decided were “lame” and got rid of and now wish I had again continues to grow
- crazy creek camping chair everyone had in high school but in college it was associated with hippies so I got rid of it
- incredible Pendleton blanket I somehow thought looked stupid
- very high-end deeply waterproof LL Bean raincoat I replaced with weird quilted jacket found at Goodwill
- contact lenses (threw in garbage)
- rad hiking boots that were probably Danners or something crazy that I probably just left by the side of the road during a move in the late 90s
- dead grandmother’s shell collection
- entire early Stephen King canon in battered paperbacks all lined up in a row
- a banjo
- a mandolin
- Pearl Jam “Ten” on CD (JK I still have that)
I love that there’s this whole heart-breaking list, but then I somehow never got rid of Pearl Jam “Ten.” That album, quite frankly, does not hold up.
And like everyone, I also of course did not appreciate my lithe sinewy body which could run and leap at will. Youth truly is wasted on the young! Did Oscar Wilde say that? It sounds like him. I went to the doctor yesterday and she was like “is there any special concern you’d like to address today?” and I was like I’M GLAD YOU ASKED and pulled out a huge piece of paper and started reading maladies off it. Who knew I would ever one day have a big sheet of paper with things like “fluoroscopy” and “MRI” and “menopause” and “cartilage” and “arthritis” and “despair” written on it, and I’m not even forty yet, it doesn’t seem fair. Then she said she didn’t know why any of these things were happening to me but that we should run the same battery of tests I’ve already had twice, which all came back normal the first two times and which indeed have now already come back normal this time, which, I don’t even know if I should feel glad or bummed about it, because at this point I just want to understand what is causing this incredibly violent thing that my body is doing to me that is getting worse every month, and now I’ve seen three doctors about it and all of them are just like “huh, weird.” All she did was randomly give me a tetanus shot, which I could not give less of a shit about.
In other news, the final grading push is here! I am resisting it by writing this very blog entry, is that not clever of me. Every night I dream about my job then I wake up and have to keep doing my job. My dream life is betraying me! I used to dream about flying over canyons and rivers, or battling zombies. Now I just dream that I am grading or teaching or sitting in my year-end review. I’m starting to get confused about what has happened in reality and what has happened in a dream. For example last night I dreamed I got dog food but I thought it had really happened until I went to feed the dog and saw that I still need to go get dog food. This seems like no way to live. The last time this dream/reality boundary got this blurred for me was senior year of college when I was having emotional problems and all I did was cry in bathrooms and get drunk alone in my house.
This tetanus shot hurts like hellfire. What on earth
I went to the library and got two novels, which feels like a double middle finger to my career anxiety, which feels good. One of them is Thackeray’s Vanity Fair! I have no idea why I have been wanting to read this so badly, except that it is monstrously long and about a past historical era, two things I am a major sucker for. I imagine I won’t be able to get through it but you never know. Also I got the first book of the Gormenghast trilogy, which I accidentally read the second book of first. I found this cool edition of Mervyn Peake’s short stories combined with his artwork in a weird bookstore here and I read it one afternoon and it reminded me of what an incredible weirdo he is. “Boy in Darkness” is an unreal story–you should go read it right now. “Mervyn Peake” sounds like a pseudonym but it’s not–it’s merely the greatest name on earth, and a name that exactly matches the kind of fiction he writes! God is great. The book has a foreword by Sebastian Peake, his son, who tells this bizarre story about when he was in grade school and he and his friends found a hidden stash of German army stuff–a helmet, a dagger with a swastika on it, etc.–and they divvied it up and took it home. But then the mayor heard about it, and made them give all the stuff to the police–but Sebastian had already hidden his in a secret location, “where it remains to this day!” Whoa dude
And I am deep in the war years, in these Sylvia Townshend-Warner letters. I read them in bed at night. I get through about two before falling uncontrollably asleep. She and her girlfriend Valentine have a goat named Victor Ambrosia that they are very interested in (she is very picky), and they start keeping rabbits to supplement their wartime rations but then they can’t bear to kill the rabbits so they just keep them as pets. There is also a long discourse on how there are no more stockings to be had, nor garters, so everyone is hysterically shepherding their last remaining pair of stockings and trying to keep them up with adhesive tape. She says one has to wear stockings because in one’s war work one is always talking to ministers. She and Valentine sit in the garden in the evening listening to the German propaganda on Radio France–she says when Germans try to act nice it is like a clown crying–and at one point her cottage gets blown up by a bomb but all the people inside get somehow sucked out the door by the blast so they are all saved. Meanwhile she is writing a novel about 14th century monks, and Valentine looks at the moon through a telescope every night.
Now I must take the dog out for a stroll through this cold windy day, fare thee well my wayward son