STRANGE NOISES

The other day I came home and saw my husband’s to-do list on the shelf in the entryway. It said:
– bird sounds
– ebirds
– Man Ray translation

Since quitting academia he has developed a passion for birding. He bought a double CD called “Birding by Ear” and is now difficult to go on walks with. He has become obsessed with this catbird he sees sometimes in the neighbor’s tree; on walks with the dog he’ll go stare into the tree until the dog begins sobbing. The other day on the way to a wedding I spotted a wild turkey in a field and he was so excited because his birding app declared this “very rare” for our area.

It turns out, there are so many kinds of birds, and they are all over the place! A pair of bluebirds lives in our yard and the other day one of them shit on my foot. I’ve also become aware of how many outdoor cats live in our neighborhood. Really going down a Jonathan Franzen-esque life narrative at this point, next we will be knocking on neighbors’ doors begging them to keep their cats inside. We are shopping for a birdbath but they are all insanely expensive, it’s just a bowl on a stand, damn!

Then yesterday I came home and saw his new list, which reads:
– saw horses
– decking screws
– lumber

Which I think is perhaps the exact opposite to-do list. He is a man of many mysteries. I think his favorite thing about home ownership is going to the lumberyard; he always comes home exhilarated then spends time out in the yard hammering and sawing and comes in demanding lemonade. He is making us a new section of fence to replace the one that the fallen tree destroyed some months ago.

The garden is blowing up, all kinds of guys sticking their dewy faces out of the dirt and saying hey. At first I was being super organized and keeping track of when/where I planted everything; now I am just throwing shit out there willy nilly. I’m interested to see how it all turns out. I also planted sunflowers which are popping up, and a lavender bed, and a strawberry patch, and six hot pepper plants even though it is not the right climate. Our yard is full to the brim of big fat bees, peace be upon thee my brothers and sisters, it’s a hard world for bees these days.

I’m really looking forward to the election

LOL imagine if someone really said that! LOLOL

I, like everyone, of course have a lot of stupid loud thoughts about Trump, Clinton, Sanders, the upcoming revolution, how meaningless feminism is if it isn’t also anti-capitalist, our new friend who is an Ethiopian refugee who hasn’t seen his mother in 20 years, etc.

But I’ve also been stressed out by how blaring our opinions on the internet increasingly stands in for meaningful action and I don’t want to contribute to that. I have been very guilty of that and I don’t like it. I don’t know what meaningful action even looks like, for me. I would like to be ready for the revolution when it comes. When it comes, it won’t take the form we probably want it to take–it so rarely does, it so often turns into a right-wing military coup or the Muslim Brotherhood or something–and that’s why we need to be ready. How do we get ready? I’m not sure. Probably it involves reading groups. Probably it involves trying to talk substantively with people who we think of as the enemy. I think 90% of the things people are upset about on the internet are probably pretty dumb, BUT that 90% of dumb things sort of stands in for the 10% of real things, which are too immense and overwhelming to deal with, certainly not in 140 characters or fewer. I think all of us know we are mad and scared but we aren’t totally sure what we’re mad and scared about, and that anger and fear comes busting out in all kinds of directions depending on who we are.

But so anyway, did you see Keanu? It’s good!

I hired a book coach using my startup funds. I am writing a book chapter every two weeks, you heard it here first. My book is about capitalism and I love it, I love writing about something contemporary and urgent. I am mad and sad all the time but I think that is an appropriate emotional state for the times we live in. The important thing is to think critically about your anger and about yourself and the things you care about, if you can. It’s hard. I am a real speak-first-ask-questions-later kind of person, the worst kind of person in the world, so believe me, I know.

I also got asked to join a university feminist reading group with a focus on world-building and envisioning post-capitalist societies, so I am very excited about that. I had never even heard of a single author on the proposed reading list. So fucking cool. My current vision of life after capitalism is extremely hazy, it’s just like either an apocalyptic smoking wasteland or some sort of fantasy of eco-friendly bike communities where everyone wears rough woolen clothing.

Things that make me happy are my apple tree, full of birds and squirrels and weird bugs. My dog who is long and lean and houndy, if you dance and clap your hands he barks and yells. He smells like dirt and popcorn and when he thinks it’s time to go on a walk he runs over to the shoe rack and throws shoes on the floor. I have been listening to a podcast I really like, called Black Men Can’t Jump in Hollywood, which is a group of smart black people talking about movies with black lead actors. Trying to keep up with my New Yorkers but getting sort of annoyed by the whole vibe. Like why does David Denby still get to write a whole huge thing about how the Hays Code was good for women, I thought he retired? And also the restaurant reviews make me so angry I almost want to cancel my subscription and yet I am drawn to them again and again as a moth to a flame. We found a pizza place that delivers to our house! We joined our new friend Sarah’s CSA and she gave us an insane discount and it’s pick-your-own and they are doing WATERMELON and I am stoked. I am growing mint and using the mint in moscow mules which is………..pretty fucking cool. And I am experimenting with home fermentation; I successfully made amazing sauerkraut and weird farty asparagus. I also enjoy doing the difficult crossword they put in the local paper every Saturday. Last time the theme was real phrases that meant something else if you said them in an old-school Brooklyn accent, it was so fucking complicated, it took me forever to figure it out. Like the clue would be “Weird hospital staff in Brooklyn?” and the answer would be “STRANGE NOISES.”

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3 Responses to STRANGE NOISES

  1. Leander says:

    I’ve been subbing out at UO in Eugene for the past two weeks, one of a long list of people coming to teach lessons and studio class for my friend who is on sabbatical this term. I know these kids have been getting tons of advice from these various horn players on “how to make it” as a musician and how to sell a concert and create a marketable project and how to win a job by doing exactly the right thing….. which is all very important. But I figured that I could lend a different perspective. I asked them to think of their musical practice as something spiritual, something psychological, something worthy regardless of whether it could make them money. Like prayer or meditation or being a monk or whatever. Not necessarily profitable, but still GOOD. A few of them talked to me afterward about how much they appreciated me saying that.
    Yesterday, I read them excerpts of this article on musicians who experience disability (which, let’s face it, will be most of us, at some point!) https://van-us.atavist.com/broken-musician
    There’s some great lines about commodification of people, capitalism, “bankability.” There are not many suggestions for solutions in the article. But IMO one of them has got to be us respecting our art as worthy regardless of the capitalist reward system.

    Fight the power.

  2. Alex says:

    Wait, he quit academia??

  3. erin says:

    Would you mind sharing the reading list for your book group? I’m interested in those topics but they are also waaay outside my field and I’m not sure where to start.

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