The Swing (of Things)

I dreamed I couldn’t spell “Foucault.” People kept jeering at me–I kept getting these harrowing editorial reviews back, with “track changes” turned on and the whole document completely awash in red–but I couldn’t stop spelling it “Foucauld.” Even in the dream, I was like, why can’t I remember that this isn’t how you spell it? It was horrible. “I awoke bruised and muttering.”

I don’t even write about Foucault, in real life. But just now I had to put him in a footnote, and the dream came sweeping over me and I was filled with horror and shame.

The other day I went swimming in an ol’ swimmin’ hole near my house. My local friends told me about it. They spoke slightingly of it, saying it’s the hole where “everyone goes,” and that it’s “fine, nothing special.” I arrived to find something out of a 19th century painting, all bucolic hand-made bridges and gently sloping bluffs leading down into pools the exact depth and temperature you would ever desire, with soft sandy bottoms. And it turns out that the rural New England version of a terrible crowded “everyone” equals perhaps five people and one dog, and two of the people turned out to be people I knew. Apparently there are even better swimming holes, where no one goes, and you can be naked and have the dog off leash and drink beer. I can not imagine how I ended up in such a paradise.

These local friends, I have spoken of them before, they are very young. One of them just turned 26 and I made her a cake. When I told my dad how old she had turned he was disgusted. “MY GOD” he said, like imagining the age of 26 had become pure science fiction to him. He refers to these friends as “whipper-snappers.” They seem to also find our ancient ages exotic; they ask us fun questions like what was it like when the original Ghostbusters came out. I am starting to see why old people love telling stories about the 40s. It’s fun to blow younger people’s minds with what you were alive to witness. The original Ghostbusters is our moon landing. “I had never seen anything like it!” Suddenly the pop culture of our youth seems SO LONG AGO, for example the fact that I have actual memories of “Thriller” coming out. That seems like fucking Depression-era pop culture, now, quite frankly, like I’m talking about some Al Jolson song he sang through a megaphone. Now it is a cultural moment that I teach in my history classes, alongside Al Jolson. There is a whole chapter on “Thriller” in the textbook I use. And then I show my kids the video and I’m like ISN’T THIS FUCKING AWESOME CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS SHIT and they are sort of gently bemused. They really WANT to think it’s awesome but they just can’t. I would say this is the attitude of my students 90% of the time, whether it’s Baroque French opera or “Papa Don’t Preach.”

When you listen to Al Jolson records now, it is like when my students watch “Thriller.” It simply doesn’t make sense that this was a sensation that swept the nation and caused such uproar. It just sounds like a mediocre singer noodlin’ around. Al Jolson in today’s terms is an absolutely unimpressive performer, with no charisma, totally average looks, and a weak-ass voice. I swear to god, watching The Jazz Singer and trying to understand what all the fuss was about will make you feel like you are an alien from another land. Impossible that he was an international star, swilling champagne with Errol Flynn or whatever.

Now Errol Flynn, there is a superstar whose fame I can understand. That man was a stone-cold fox and charming to boot. Captain Blood? Get outta here

I like to imagine Kanye West coming to inhabit a cultural position similar to, for example, Frank Sinatra, simply due to changing times. Perhaps a day will come when young people will vaguely think of Kanye as a quaint old drunk who grandmothers love. Anything is possible, when it comes to history! Today’s cutting edge is tomorrow’s dull-ass knife you can’t even slice a tomato with.

Me, 50 years from now, playing “Black Skinhead” for my students: “No one had ever heard sounds like this before! And listen to how he addresses the uncomfortable ambivalence entailed in being a rich and successful black man in mid twentieth-century America!” My students don’t respond, because they are all listening to radical atonal bleeping noises on their in-brain speakers and thought-mailing dick pics to each other.

LOL imagine if I was still teaching in 50 years. LOLOLOL literally 90 years old, teaching Yeezus. OMG HA HA HA HA

I love thinking about time. And yet I have never successfully read “A Brief History of Time,” even though it was expressly written with the intention of stupid people reading it. “No one can read that book,” said my grad student whose father is a scientist. I was very comforted by this. I feel like you read the first page and you’re like “Whoa, yeah! Totally!” Then you turn the page and somehow instantly already you have no idea what he’s talking about. Like there’s a drawing of a cylinder with a rabbit in it and all these equations, out of nowhere. And you turn back to re-read the first page and fall uncontrollably asleep. And then you read those first two pages every couple of years, like “this time I’m gonna do it!” I still have this shit on my “soon-to-read” bookshelf.

I have a cascading series of bookshelves themed by the strength of my intention to read the things on it. The shelf nearest to my face has all my reference works on it, books I use constantly: the Oxford History of course, the Encyclopedia of Political Economy, the Writer’s Thesaurus, a bunch of Strunk’s source anthologies. The shelf above that has canonical shit from my discipline that I have actually read; it sits above me sort of like a protective aura, my forebears blessing me, ostensibly. The shelf to the right of my desk has the books I’m currently working with for whatever project I’m working on (this shelf has a corollary “shelf” which is “the entire floor of my office”). Then over on the wall of my office is a bookshelf with all the books I’m definitely going to read when I get some free time. Here is a sample:
- book about music printing in the first hundred years after the invention of the printing press
- book about martyrdom in the 16th century
- book about Duke Ellington
- Nancy Mitford’s book about Louis XIV
- source anthology of documents relating to UFOs and aliens, dating back to the 18th century
- Philippe Ari├Ęs’s 1,000 page cultural history of death, one of the few books I would sincerely refer to as “magisterial,” and which I read a few chapters of every once in awhile (I find it comforting)
- The satirical “history of England” Jane Austen wrote for fun at age eighteen (“contains very few facts”), which I have in facsimile
- book about Mary Shelley
- another book about Mary Shelley specifically about Frankenstein
- this amazing cultural history of madness told through the eyes of institutionalized people from the past several centuries that I have been meaning to read for ten years
- two books about the diseases that are allegorized in 19th century operas
- second volume of Cosima Wagner’s diaries (the first is on the shelf by the bed, indicating that I am ACTUALLY reading it, unlike all these other books I own)
- volume of Clara Schumann/Johannes Brahms letters, too sad
- Maynard Solomon’s “Mozart” and “Beethoven,” which I have read parts of but which I have this fantasy that someday I’ll sit down and read cover to cover, obviously this will absolutely never happen
- several books about serialism that I intend to read one day, believing that once I have done so I will understand serialism and be able to actually teach it to my grad students instead of pretending to teach it
- book about equal temperament
- book about the reception history of Beethoven’s 9th

Then out in the living room there’s, like, all of Proust or whatever. Like, AS IF.

The final “shelf” is a cardboard box in the attic. Maybe mice will eat everything on that “shelf” and I won’t have to feel guilty about it anymore (please don’t let us get mice).

Does anyone know anything about blueberry care? This blueberry bush is probably 10 years old–it’s 7 feet tall–and I don’t know if I’m supposed to water it or not, and, if so, how much/how often. It was doing great on its own with no care whatsoever–it produced many quarts of blueberries and all was going swell–but now all the unripe blueberries are just sort of shriveling on the bush. Does it need water?? Help. I guess I could google this.

Here is a confession. As previously mentioned, I have had an unusually hard and dramatic summer. So, in the spirit of today’s stupid “self care” trend, I spent A LOT of money on a really amazing cutting board. A cutting board! Just a piece of wood! I actually drove out to a place in the woods that sells only cutting boards and nothing else, that this guy makes by hand from fallen trees, and I bought the biggest one he had. It is beautiful; it has completely transformed our kitchen. And honestly, every single time I use it I feel happy. Is this a good or a bad story, or both? I think mostly bad. My personal happiness is not much of a justification for doing anything. But I did it anyway, because I wanted to. And that’s the story of America

Right now I am supposed to be reading a bunch of books on mortgage lending policy, for this chapter I’m writing. My book is hilarious. Every chapter requires me to delve into a completely different discipline. The history of labor formations in the U.S.; urban planning and the history of real estate investment; education philosophy/policy; participatory theater; philosophy of individualism; the rise and formation of the surveillance state; and the modern history of conceptions of time. Many people have tentatively asked me “so…is your book about…music?” and I am like “yes”

Who cares

I also need to make an appointment to get yet another fluoroscopy on my hip. I drove to Boston to see a specialist, which cost $60 and took six hours all told, and he looked at me for 45 seconds and told me to get an MRI because that’s the only way he can tell what’s going on. So now it is more scheduling and more trips to Boston or wherever. And my insurance wants me to use this new service where you type in the procedure you need and it tells you the cheapest place to get it done, and it just feels weird. I’m gonna go to some random hospital in Holyoke and let them poke around inside my hip joint because it’s cheap there? What is this world! I am so sick of this shit. There are worse things and I should be glad this is not one of those worse things. I am glad, for sure. It’s just a bummer how bad America sucks, I mean, come on, we’re all thinking it.

I think the only people who like America in its current iteration are wealthy pro-business centrists, the worst people in the world. You know you’re doing something wrong when only wealthy pro-business centrists approve of you.

Did you hear that the hole in the ozone layer is shrinking? I saw the headline and was like, huh, that was unexpected

Other top stories in today’s paper involve ice cream (locals discuss whether they prefer hard scoop or soft serve–this is the front page, above-the-fold story); the guy who writes the nature column asks us to think about how amazing and beautiful flies are; and a lady who grew an entire corn crop without using any machinery or fossil fuels is pictured holding a pitchfork.

We are watching the awesome 6-hour Wim Wenders movie “Until the End of the World” and it’s great. There’s my recommendation for today. Also why not get some Sheila E albums? It can’t hurt.


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Wolf Jaw Blessing

It has not been the focused and relaxing summer I had anticipated and planned for, but I suppose it never is. I keep thinking that once I get finished with x, or once y is over, things will be great and easy. I realized last night that I have been thinking that way for at least 10 years, if not forever. Right now it’s all about the book. If I can just get a book deal, then it’ll be smooth sailing from here on out! I’m starting to suspect that that is not true. Also, it’s no way to live. I would say that I am surprised by how often I think seriously about the very bad Adam Sandler film “Click.” I think often of this film, and nod my head grimly. The message of the Adam Sandler film “Click” is spot-on. I feel that film could have actually been pretty tremendous, if it had been directed, written, and starred in by completely different people.

A lot has happened this year that has been very bad and not fun. Some of it has been worse than other parts of it. It was like, really bad things happened, and then it got to the point where then a slightly less-bad thing happened, and because it was less-bad than the bad things that had already happened, it sort of seemed delightful and fun. Then things even worse than the first most-bad things happened. I can’t really talk about any of it but some of it is stuff I think about pretty much all day, every day, and probably will for awhile. I am fine, but changed probably.

Katy visited, which was predictably incredibly life-affirming and spiritually rejuvenating, and we talked about how middle age hit in a major way. Not only the bad knees and the weird sleep management issues and the absolute refusal to go out past 9:00 pm. but also just shit getting super real. Death and destruction, people having actual problems, not the problems of your 20s where you’re like “if I can’t put an album out on K Records I will be a failure” or like “if this random asshole won’t make out with me I will grieve forever” or like “boo hoo I don’t like working as a receptionist at this college scheduling software company downtown” or like “I’m fighting with my friend” or “my butt looks weird” or “I really hope we don’t invade Iraq in the wake of 9/11.” Worries that now seem quaint, like medieval people worrying that a cloud in the shape of a horse means the apocalypse is coming. Silly medieval people! In a few years you will all be dead of plague, but here you are worrying about clouds! That was us, in our 20s.

And then in addition to becoming middle aged and having weird middle aged problems, the world seems to have gone absolutely to hell also. Like on top of all these sad things happening in my personal life, I’m also sobbing on the airplane reading this completely harrowing article about how the Assad regime is intentionally trying to murder every doctor and nurse in Syria. They do this thing called “double tapping,” where you bomb a hospital, then fly away, wait 20 minutes, then fly back so you can drop bombs on all the rescuers and ambulances. I could not stop crying about this article. Then I got off the plane and, like, got a Starbucks. This life feels completely out of joint.

Does every generation feel this way? I’m sure the Vietnam War did not exactly feel like a comprehensible and peaceful time (not to mention the aforementioned bubonic plague), but these days it just seems like the end is so near. That George Saunders article about the madness of contemporary political discourse made me so deeply, profoundly sad I didn’t know what to do so I got up and made a blueberry pie. With fresh blueberries from my garden! Yeah, I just went out and picked five cups of blueberries, and didn’t even exhaust the supply! NOT A BIG DEAL

Here are some things:

I’m growing my hair out and it looks crazy. This is only the second time I’ve grown it out in adulthood and I’m enjoying it more this time. Maybe because I have so much more hair now, and it’s thicker and has weird kinks in it that it didn’t used to have? This was another thing Katy and I discussed: how wildly different our hair is now. Anyway I have this big mulletty mop of weird multi-colored hair and I don’t have to teach in the fall so I don’t give a shit. I want to own a hairbrush again.

I dreamed a wolf blessed me by taking my hand in his mouth and biting down, gently but firmly. I woke up awash in a gentle feeling of well-being.

My neighbor told me that a gigantic albino skunk has been living in our neighborhood for four years. “Wait’ll you see him!” he said, “and wait’ll you SMELL him!! Take three normal skunks and put ‘em together, that’s what this one smells like.” “Wow!” I said.

Still plugging away at Cosima Wagner’s diaries. The other night I read this entry where she casually mentions that, contrary to popular opinion, Wagner had actually written a symphony, but that Mendelssohn lost it. It was apparently in E major. She says Wagner wishes he would find it, “just so I could prove how well I knew my job.” I wonder if this is the actual source of all Wagner’s insane anti-semitism; Mendelssohn losing his symphony (joke). Also, how do you just “lose” a whole symphony?? What, did he leave it in a taxi cab? What on earth! I love picturing that conversation, where Mendelssohn has to cop to Wagner that he lost the only existing copy of a piece of work that probably took like three years to make. “Bro, I’m SO sorry.” Like the Very Strange Doctor skit. “Then I just flat-out lost it”

There is currently one existing Wagner symphony, that I’m aware of. It’s in C major and I’ve never heard it. I bet it’s pretty good. Credit where it’s due, you know? The guy knew his way around orchestral writing, no two ways about it.

At my family reunion my entire family stood around roaring with laughter while watching my brother prepare, cook, and eat a quesadilla while delivering a monologue in an Australian accent. This is sort of a classic my-brother moment. My brother has also gotten really ripped lately, because a regular at the bar where he works gave him a car, which he then gave to this old Vietnam vet who runs a boxing gym in exchange for free training. So several times a week he goes to this run-down boxing gym straight out of Rocky and lets this man scream at him and hit him in the stomach with boards. He looks like a million dollars.

Please pray for my tomatoes. They are growing like hotcakes. My garden looks like Little Shop of Horrors, like any minute the vines are gonna come in through the window and strangle us in our sleep. Alien beings, crawling everywhere. I went out there yesterday to stake some of the vines up and I kept finding previously unseen vines, spread around in a much wider radius than I’d thought. I planted five kinds of tomatoes: Jet Star, Better Boy, Sungold Cherry, Brandywine, Early Girl. There is apparently a terrible tomato virus in this area that makes successful tomato growing very difficult; this is why I ask you to pray for them. As you no doubt know, I have survivalist fantasies, and I read a lot of sustainable living manuals that are way too advanced for me, like this one INDEPENDENCE DAYS which is written by a woman who has four children and doesn’t own a refrigerator. But I’ve decided to set a couple of attainable goals along these lines:
- buy a chest freezer and fill it up with local corn, blueberries, rhubarb, broccoli, etc. to cut down on produce-purchasing in the winter when it’s all trucked in from Mexico
- build a hoop house and try to keep kale going into December
- build a DIY root cellar by burying a bucket in the ground and filling it with carrots

My biggest goal, one that I won’t meet for a couple of years probably, is to grow and can enough tomatoes to get us through the winter. The challenges in meeting this goal are several-fold: for starters, I have never canned anything before and don’t know how to do it. Secondly, the aforementioned difficulty of growing tomatoes here. And finally, we eat A LOT of canned tomatoes, probably more than most people. I would say it is a major staple of our diet. So, this is a good goal, one I will have to work diligently to meet. Imagine the year when I finally meet this goal!!!! Oh boy

We bought the chest freezer a few days ago, after a year of discussing it. We went to this place called “Manny’s” that sells appliances at a discount for unclear reasons. Some of them are returns, some are broken in superficial ways, I don’t know. We have always called this place “Manny’s Dented Appliances,” and I kept being surprised that that wasn’t actually on the sign or the employees’ t-shirts. They had one chest freezer that was the size we needed (very small), so we bought it. It fits right in our little pantry. I put two milk crates in it and boom, it’s organized. We stood around admiring it and talking about how “badass” it was to own a chest freezer. As soon as we did all this I read a chapter in Independence Days about how you should try to phase out your chest freezer because it’s so energy inefficient and won’t be any good once the power’s out anyway. Oh well

- convert our house to solar power. This is more of a ten year plan, and would probably entail chopping down our apple tree, so I’m not sure about it. Still, how great would it be?

- dehydrate fruit. The Independence Days lady says you can use your car as a food dehydrator.

- make three times as much cider as we did last year

- get into forest farming. My old man is reading a book about this. It’s called “agroforestry” and it entails farming in a way that is totally in synch with the normal ecosystem. Apparently you can grow paw paws in the shade. I had never heard of paw paws before, but they are like papayas, a fruit I detest. My old man is very excited about this–last night I was sound asleep in bed and he came in and woke me up to show me a picture of a paw paw. You can also grow shitakes, and have ducks.

Other things

- we bought a $100 board game called Caverna that has over 300 individual carved wooden pieces, takes 20 minutes just to set up, and has a 24-page rule book with an 11-page appendix. It is AMAZING and we play it all the time. You can play it with ONE PLAYER.

- I am getting age spots on my face that look like smudges of dirt, so that’s awesome

- the snoopy is doing great. He’s a leggy old gent. He’s lost a couple of pounds, not sure why, but it makes him look SO much weirder, like a long-necked sea creature. In the hot weather he pants even when he’s just been lying there napping for hours; when Katy was here he had to sleep in our room and his panting kept us awake but we didn’t mind. He was very scared of the chest freezer but has gotten over it. The other day we washed him in the yard with the hose and it was so humiliating. Now he smells like a salty cake. I just deleted a very long paragraph exploring my thoughts on dogs and on the love of dogs. Thinking about dogs is overwhelming to me, their completely selfless loyalty, their willingness to trust after being hurt. The responsibility of having a dog is so much deeper than just making sure he has enough water in his bowl. He gives you everything, you are his everything. It’s a devotion so easy to abuse, to take lightly. It makes you want to adopt every dog on earth and just be nice to them. DOGS. When I die please put “SHE LOVED DOGS AND FOUND THEM INTERESTING” on my tombstone

- the other night my old man lay awake all night with a beetle crawling around in his hair because he could tell I was mad at him for tossing and turning. I congratulate him for his bravery

- Did I tell you I set up my new office in the basement? It’s very funny. Lets just say it’s not the kind of office that pops into your head when you think of “office of an Assistant Professor at legitimate university.” It’s more like a custodial storage space in which someone has semi-legally set up a semi-functioning office. There is no window. Also whereas my previous office was adjacent to other professors’ offices, my new one is adjacent to practice rooms. So, previously, I of course heard musical instruments and singing all day long, which has never bothered me and actually I am MORE uncomfortable in offices where I’m NOT surrounded by this kind of noise, like in my first office at my last job, which was in the languages building rather than the music building. But now I am realizing that practice rooms are not the same as the actual faculty offices. In the faculty offices, they rehearse ensembles and solos, they preview concert pieces–it’s repetitive, but musical. In the practice rooms, though, kids literally sit in there for an hour just blowing into a saxophone mouthpiece, making a sound much like a duck screaming in horror and pain. They do mouth exercises and weird fingering exercises, or they practice slurs over and over again. They do hilarious vocal warm-ups. It’s not musical, it’s more like random screaming. So that’s been interesting. I think I have an unusual tolerance for certain kinds of repetitive sounds, and an unusual INtolerance for certain other kinds of repetitive sounds. A dog barking from a block away will drive me absolutely batshit crazy, but a kid playing the same four notes over and over again on a trombone doesn’t bother me at all. Also, I spent a summer driving an ice cream truck, and even THAT didn’t bother me! But a clock ticking in a quiet room makes me want to jump out of my own skin. What does it all mean

- scuttlebutt is that all the academics are going to be moved up to the second floor once the art department moves into their fucking brand-new fancy building (WHOSE YOU-KNOW-WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO YOU-KNOW-WHAT TO GET A NEW BUILDING AROUND HERE??? SOMEBODY FUCKING EXPLAIN IT TO ME). This seems way too good to be true–it seems like it’s so obvious, such an obvious and incredibly easy solution to our office space problem, that there is no way it could ever happen. Instead, some completely bizarre thing will happen, like all the practice rooms will move up there even though it will entail 10 million dollars of sound-proofing, and the academics will actually be moved down to the level that is BELOW the basement, and looks 100% indistinguishable from like a bunker in a movie where they do illegal experiments on people. When you inhabit the Kafkaesque nightmare that is the bureaucracy of a state university you learn never to expect that the easiest, nicest, most straightforward solution will ever actually be the solution that is chosen. 30 million dollar budget cut? No problem, we’ll just hire a new Associate Assistant to the Vice Provost for Diversity Development, and pay them half a million dollars. YOU’RE WELCOME

Somebody in my town had a big herd of goats that got out of hand and it turned into an animal welfare situation, so animal control came in and took away all the goats, and it became this town-wide communal thing of trying to get these goats placed in good homes, and they did it! They got the goats all wormed and healed up and then placed them–in pairs, never singly, because goats get lonely–all over town. I would love to have a pair of goats. They are a very weird animal; probably they are the devil? They like to climb up and stand on tall things. I once heard a story about a guy driving down the freeway who saw a goat standing on a grazing cow.

SMALL TOWN POLICE BEAT: Like any thoughtful person I have major problems with cops and am appalled by the rise of the modern the police state, but leaving that aside I would like to specifically applaud my local police for their attitude toward animals and wildlife. I swear 50% of what the cops do in this town is search for lost dogs or help people who come home to find a rooster on the porch, or save a bunch of feral goats from some weirdo’s property. Two times in the past year off-duty cops and firemen have found dogs that have been lost for months and months, and then the whole town rejoices. I would say dogs appear in the local paper more than is normal for a newspaper. But anyway, the cops here have an attitude toward animals that I really approve of. For example, in the aforementioned rooster dilemma, the cop came and told the homeowner to just leave the rooster alone. That was the solution to the problem. Leave it alone and it will go away on its own. NO STRESS NO MESS. And right now is the season when bears come into town looking for food, so there have been all kinds of bear sightings and pictures of bears in the paper, bears chilling out in people’s yards, bears casually ripping bird feeders out of the lawns with their cool-ass bear hands, bears strolling down main street. And regarding these bears, the local cops are 100% on the side of the bears. They have no sympathy for people who are scared of the bears or who want the bears off their lawn. They are always quoted in the paper like “leave the bears alone. The bear population is good. Unless a bear is actively attacking you please don’t call us; just leave it alone and let the bear do its thing. Don’t act like an idiot and the bear won’t hurt you.” The other day the police chief was quoted as saying “if we get a report of a stolen bird feeder and the main suspect is a bear we are not going to investigate.” Basically telling people to deal with the fact that they live in rural New England. Basically being like “bears rule; don’t fuck with bears or you are an asshole,” which is just true. BEARS FOREVER

the cops here also seem to respond to a lot of 911 calls that turn out to be children calling the police because they don’t want to go to bed. Also a few weeks ago every cop in town was called to respond to a missing children report, and then they found the children on the highway, trying to walk to New York City to meet the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

I am really enjoying living in a small town again after 20 years of living in cities and/or Iowa City, which is neither a city nor a town but rather a theme park for drunk white kids and which I do my best to forget every day. No offense to drunk white kids, lord knows we all have our struggles.

Now I will go to the YMCA and do my very sad middle-aged-person-with-hip-dysplasia 20 minute elliptical workout while all the buff dudes look pityingly away. Who cares??? I have half a blueberry pie at home and two beers

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Good lord! What is going on? I am rarely fully on the internet now that it is summer, if you can imagine such a lifestyle, and the only thing I miss is constantly writing about myself on my blog.

Now we are trying to take it a step further and get off our phones more. We are primarily doing this by verbalizing it. “Just now I thoughtlessly went to grab my phone for no reason but instead I didn’t.” “Good job.” We also shame each other. “HONEY? ARE YOU ON YOUR PHONE” “NO!!!!!!!” [sound of phone being hastily set down]

The internet is amazing and only a fool would say otherwise. But why do we have to have it with us everywhere all the time? Why do we have to look at Facebook. Facebook is a disaster, it’s a nightmare, it’s like selling your data to the military or some shit, and even leaving nefarious corporate surveillance aside do we really need to see some random acquaintance’s dumbass uncle weighing in on Hillary Clinton? Look pal, I’ve got my own problems. Okay, but, do I think this is ever going to change? Do I think people are going to for some reason stop looking at their phones every second while they’re talking to each other? Do I think we will ever go back to landlines and answering machines with the big buttons you punch down to hear somebody’s busted voice leaving you a message from hours ago? Am I a goddamn fool? No. But I do have control over my own life and I have to believe that with enough will power I am physically capable of not looking at my phone every two seconds. I have to believe that, as an adult human with a reasonable intelligence, I am capable of doing that. So far I have not proven that I am capable of it, but I have to continue believing that I am. I would get a flip phone except I love google maps too much. Lord these choices, what have I become

I’ve started feeling this pathetic desire to protect my mind, like a baby animal that can’t fend for itself. Warding off evil influences. It is absurd and terrifying how hard it is to just put the phone down, some days. What is even on there? I deleted all my apps and now I don’t even have enough storage space to take a video, but I’m still looking at it all day long? I’m just like scrolling between instagram and literally the weather app, I don’t even have anything ON my phone! Why am I looking at it?? Why am I checking my email at midnight on a Friday while on a dinner date? My EMAIL??? Gotta make sure I get that email from Cornell West or the Humane Society email full of graphic pictures of people killing dogs, right? I certainly should not eat dinner and go to bed on a Friday night without making sure I check up on that situation!! The world needs my hot takes!

I do like instagram. The only celebrities I follow are Chelsea Peretti and Erykah Badu

I don’t mean to sound judgmental; I understand what our contemporary condition is and I am fully a part of it too, even though I don’t understand how the Cloud works.

I love texting with friends

I love that texting and email have enabled me to stay close with a couple really important friends, even after moving across the country.

I love google maps

But I hate my phone. And I hate google. I google things constantly, all day long. I love google. Google is watching me type this right now.

HAPPY SOLSTICE. We went to a solstice party and I ate watermelon and threw the rinds to a bunch of chickens. It was a potluck and three different people brought pesto, including us

My old man is teaching a science fiction class next fall so we are watching a lot of old sci-fi from the 1950s. It’s very interesting. We have learned that H.G. Wells was apparently a total fascist; that the original Godzilla is actually an amazing, affecting, and pretty arty film with an incredible score, we both cried and then dreamed about it, it’s about the atomic bomb in a deep and profoundly tragic way, and there’s this long scene where Godzilla is just sitting underwater like thinking about his life and how the earth has been violated to its very core while this incredibly sad music plays and a scientist in an old-timey diving suit stares at him in shared sorrow and then they both choose to die; that 1950s American sci fi rarely explores what is actually interesting in a given scenario because it’s too focused on serving as American propaganda about how great American heroic men are at defeating commies; that John Carpenter’s The Thing is superior to the Howard Hawks original in spite of the presence of a fast-talkin’ dame in the latter; that in spite of apparently being a total fucking fascist sociopath, H.G. Wells’s novel is better than the 1961 version of “The Time Machine”; and that the American remake of Godzilla from 1956 is too stupid to watch even if it does star a foxy young Raymond Burr (me: “that looks like Raymond Burr!” gary: “it IS Raymond Burr”) because it’s literally just clips from the original movie with Raymond Burr narrating on top of it, and American voices dubbed over the Japanese ones, and Asian Americans cast in the roles of Japanese people who interact with Raymond Burr when he isn’t just narrating clips from the real movie, so it looks like everyone in Tokyo speaks flawless English with a Californian accent, in 1956. Like we see a clip from the original film, of Japanese dudes talking in Japanese about how Godzilla came out of the sea and killed everyone for their scientific hubris, and then we cut to Raymond Burr leaning over to his Japanese friend and being like “Say my Japanese is pretty rusty, what the hell are they yammerin’ about” and then the other guy then just tells him the expository material from the first film, just in English. “They are saying Godzilla came out of the sea and killed everyone for our hubris, you know, the bomb and stuff.” What a racket!

I write every day and then I work in the garden. I don’t know what I am doing.

We are leaving for ten days to go to a family reunion and then to visit a sick friend. My suitcase has mostly books and notebooks in it, and herbal allergy pills.

I wish I had a pair of cute clogs

I’m growing my hair out again, even though it never goes well

I want to read some more dystopian fiction, any recommendations? I have read so much of it, but want more. I wish China Mieville would write another book, what the hell is that man doing, running Marxist conferences or what? WRITE MORE BOOKS CHINA, IF YOU ARE READING THIS.

Our CSA started. We got a shitload of garlic scapes and made pesto. We made way too much pesto. Nobody needs that much pesto. We ate it for dinner and then took it to that solstice party, and we have to eat it again tonight; everyone is sick of the damn pesto. I also ate an entire watermelon the other day and I would have done it again yesterday except there weren’t any in the store. I have these terrible vices, like mineral water and imported fruit, and I struggle against them but often cave. My will power is actually not that great (see above re: phone). We do what we can! LOL that’s obviously not true

I read a booklet about hip dysplasia and rejoined the YMCA, because I learned that exercise doesn’t necessarily make it worse, it just hurts, so who cares. I paid the extra money to get the nice locker room that has the sauna. Bourgeois life baby! With a key to keep out the plebes! Back on the elliptical I go. The nice locker room also has a dimly-lit chill-out yoga space that I monopolize. The last time I went, a lady was doing her hair for the entire time I was stretching, then showering, then changing. She had like three different brushes and several products and her own hairdryer. I got out of the shower and got dressed and raked my fingers through my weird shitty non-haircut and she goes “THAT’S A NO-FUSS CUT!” and it was pretty unclear if she was judging me or approving of me, or if we were both merely regarding one another with a purely anthropological interest. The other night I dreamed I had Helena Bonham Carter’s hair in “A Room with a View” and I woke up filled with longing, but some things are simply not meant to be and that is okay. Anyway, can you imagine how much maintenance that hair takes? I bet you spend two hours a day just dealing with it. Who has the time? Rich 19th century ladies lounging about in Florence, playing Beethoven even though mother says it makes them peevish, that’s who.

Our apple tree isn’t going to bloom this year because an early thaw followed by a sudden frost shocked it. I am so sad about this, I had really been looking forward to seeing it in full bloom. Crossing fingers for next year, but these days who knows (global warming).

We bought an award winning board game called Caverna that has over 300 individual carved wooden pieces, and a 24-page rule book with an 11-page appendix. We had to watch YouTube videos to figure out how to play it. It is AWESOME.

Going in to my new office in the basement tomorrow, gonna arrange the furniture and see if I can hook up my printer. Maybe get a mini fridge up in that shit, get a coffee maker. Really gonna “inhabit the space” now that I finally get my own office. Play some ragtime in there, I don’t give a damn. Continue trying to memorize the Tristan chord, which is weirdly hard for me. Such a great chord! Come on!

Concluding by giving my hot take on the Tristan chord: it’s a great chord

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