Local Newspapers, Report-Generating, Matchbox 20, Trump Lawn Signs, and Oliver Sacks

It turns out to be hard to write all the scintillating blog entries I think about in my head all day long when I have no internet in my home. The experiment is going well, though, really. Aside from a few irritating moments (crouching on the front steps of the closed library in the rain in order to send a student an emergency file, e.g.), it still feels very good to have a safe space away from online life. My computer feels like a tool again, rather than a weird place I live.

But there has been so much I wished to tell you about, my friends! Our local newspaper, which delivers the hottest scoops to our doorstep daily (“Correction: Catholicism was predated by other world religions. Last Saturday’s Recorder incorrectly stated otherwise”). Working on our house, which is looking awesome. We got a bunch of hand-made wooden furniture from some local weirdos and we hung a huge-ass gold-and-white mirror on the wall and we took down these weird kitchen cabinets and made a coffee nook. The electricians came and put all our light fixtures back up. The old man put the storm windows on and fixed the manual lawn mower and every Saturday he goes out and trims the hedge. I basically married a 65 year old man in terms of what kinds of activities bring him deep satisfaction (hedge-trimming; oiling the tools in the shed; literally doing a jigsaw puzzle called “Friends in Autumn” on a card table he purchased for that express purpose). When you’re married to a 65 year old man you get a ton of free yard work but you also get someone yelling at you about how high you turned up the heat.

I am busier than I was last year, but less overwhelmed by it, if that makes sense. I am learning the brutalizing bureaucratic nightmare and how to get what I need out of it without getting lost in its labyrinths and clawing out my own eyeballs. I am on more committees than ever before, and I spend several hours a week doing labor for them. Doing things like “generating reports on curricular reform.” Who knew!? I have not been able to make any time to write, which is worrying. I don’t know how anyone writes while school is in session. I can not imagine getting to the end of my daily to-do list, ever. I don’t know how you sit down and write for six hours when your grading isn’t done and you have to generate a report on maximizing the data to innovate student-driven learning initiatives by a factor of excellence. I can only pray that there are successful people who do all their writing during christmas and summer, because that’s when I do it.

I am sitting in our rad local cafe drinking a “honey latte” and listening to all the hits of the 90s they are blasting. Cypress Hill, the Cranberries, Sinead, is this heaven on earth? No, ’tis but a place to get a very good biscuit and use the internet. We came here on the very day we looked at our house. On the walls are framed album covers of both Yes and They Might Be Giants. “These are my people; this is my home” I said. We bought a house one hour later. The house is a 6 minute walk to the TMBG cafe.

Cypress Hill is not a good band. This music does not sound good.

Our neighbor who lives across the street also writes the gardening column in the local paper. She brought us a bag of peaches and told us she’d help us identify all the plants in our yard.

We spent half an hour trying to revive a sluggish bee on our porch. We gave him sugar water and tried to warm him up. He drank all the sugar water but then just kept laying there. But when we came back from running an errand, he was gone. I pray and hope he returned safely to his hive.

Now they are playing Stone Temple Pilots. The cooks are singing along.

We are buying tickets to a home cider-making workshop being held at our local cider festival in 2 weeks. There is also a fiddling competition and a dog show.

On my drive to work every day I pass a shitty ranch house on the side of the road that is absolutely covered in Trump paraphernalia. At least five official “Trump for President” signs adorn the lawn, in addition to an American flag and a very large homemade sign that says “IT’S TIME TO TAKE AMERICA BACK! WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE!” Every day the sight of this home fills me with wonder and awe; I enjoy thinking about what the people in the other cars around me are thinking and if they too are amazed by the spectacle. The other day I had to get to school earlier than usual, so I left the house at 6:15 instead of 6:45. As I passed the Trump house, I realized that there was not a single sign to be seen! Suddenly it dawned on me; this person wakes up before 7:00 and goes outside and puts up all those signs, and then takes them all down at night, every single day. Then it further dawned on me that they must do this because at first, they probably would wake up every morning to find all the signs stolen or defaced. I laughed and laughed. Their impression of themselves as a heroic underdog is strengthened and given a tragic nobility with every frosty morning that they bravely venture out into, plastic Trump signs under their arms. I imagine them hammering the signs into the hard ground each morning. Perhaps cars honk at them while they do so. But who shall see the middle finger of the angry American, when that finger is encased in a mitten? A koan.

“Cypress Hill into Stone Temple Pilots into Matchbox 20 is not a transition I was expecting. Interesting jams you guys are playing.”–customer just said this to guy behind counter. Real talk.

There is a bar here that is the best bar I’ve ever been to. It’s all warm wood and flickering candles and cool old books and boardgames and tarot cards filling all the shelves. It’s one of those bars where you can’t always tell who works there and who is a customer. They have tons of local beers that change constantly. And they have a deal with local restaurants, where you can order food from another restaurant and they’ll bring it to you. So you can get your favorite pizza from the fancy pizza place down the street and eat it inside the bar. Also dogs are allowed inside. They have an edition of the Guinness Book of World Records from the 1980s that we enjoy perusing.

I’m reading Oliver Sacks’ memoir. It is beautiful. He’s been fired three times, and nobody would publish his second book! Put that in your pipe the next time you’re feeling bad about yourself. I have also learned that the last time he had sex was on his 40th birthday (he died recently, in his 80s). He just drops that into the conversation all casually. “Little did I know then that that would be the last sex I would have for 35 years.” He says recently he was at a doctor’s appointment and the doctor said “I have to ask you something delicate, do you want your assistant to leave the room?” and Sacks goes “no, I have no secrets from her. I know what you’re going to ask: I haven’t had sex in 35 years.” And the doctor goes “Oh, I was just going to ask for your social security number.” Then all three of them laugh and laughed.

What a delightful human being.

We have all seen the astonishing photo of a young hunky Dr. Sacks astride his motorcycle, but did you know that he was also a bodybuilder and that he broke a California state power-lifting record in 1961? There is a picture of him doing it in the book. He was also good friends with W.H. Auden.

He says his experience of science has always been a profoundly narrative, historical, and literary one. He’s always reading 18th century chemistry books as a kid, even though his father tells him it’s “sad trash.” Somehow, though, in spite of his superficial similarities to a young Victor Frankenstein, he did not go on to create a giant monster out of dead people.

They truly do not make people like Oliver Sacks very often. I feel lucky to have shared some time on the planet with him.

Fuck I am late for school

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2 Responses to Local Newspapers, Report-Generating, Matchbox 20, Trump Lawn Signs, and Oliver Sacks

  1. Bee says:

    But what about the shower?? Did it ever get fixed?

  2. ericka says:

    But WHERE is the Bathtub Update for which all well-read people clamor???

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