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You're not allowed to take photos in the museum. This is a firm rule and it applies to everyone and every work of art and on every floor. They advise you to just leave your camera in your bag and check it at the front desk.
But Violeta is crazy about photography, and she smuggles her camera in. Then she asks me to go over to the guard and seduce her so she can take some pictures. I laugh, but when I look over at her I see that she is serious.
"Just go over there; be
," she says.
We went to the museum and they had a special tiny yellow room where an artist had taken a bunch of old junk and arranged it
on shelves. There were used crayons and matchbooks and toys and empty bottles and every kind of plastic whats-it, and they were arranged by size and color, and the whole thing was beautiful and familiar, like it had come out of your own house from when you were a kid, and stuff like that still felt special and slightly mysterious because you were still trying to figure out how the world worked.
I tell Mary I want a little more communication in our lives and
THAT IS RICH COMING FROM YOU
she says, and goes on to explain the ways in which I shut down and negate and ... nobody else has to go to the bathroom every time just before responding to a serious question, and then when he comes out
fifteen minutes later
claims to have forgotten what we were talking about. Apparently that is just me.
But Mary, I want us to talk, I want to know what's going on in your life but I'm so hungry right now, Mary.
So I finally bit the bullet and asked Mary the dreaded question, i.e. whether or not she wanted to be tied up and spanked as is popular now-a-days. She said that God, no, she did not, and I was so relieved.
Why, she said, do you? And I said no, please never do that, and we were in total agreement and we warmed to each other upon hearing the good news. That conversation is the heavy dumpling dangling between the members of your modern couple, so you might as well have it now and get it over with.
By the time I finish this entry my body is going to realize I've stuffed an immoderate number of chocolate eggs and jelly beans into it for breakfast. When it does, it's not going to be happy and I will probably get hyperactive and shaky. Were you expecting to get some nutrition this morning, body? Sorry.
I don't usually go home for Easter, and I miss out on this once-a-year sugar breakfast. Any minute now I'm going to wish I'd stayed away, but for now I'm surrounded by family and candy and there's nowhere I would rather be.
I would much rather suffer in silence for a decade or more than have a very small, very polite conflict over anything. It's lucky more people don't know this, so please keep that info to yourself.
I have learned to go through life with a certain furrow in my brow, a signal to all that says "I will not give you a bite, and then another bite, of my sandwich." Some people will gladly eat your whole sandwich and never save a bite for you, but there are enough sandwiches to go around and I can probably find another somewhere.
When I was in college a professor told us a story (and she may have made it up, I can't find it anywhere) about two gods who were having an argument. One of them said he wanted to wipe everything out because basically everything and everyone sucked, and the other just kept repeating "life must be irrationally affirmed."
On days like today, when I feel as if the first god had the right idea and once you break through the thinnest veneer everything is hollow and entirely without value, that irrational affirmation, repeated over and over, can keep me going.
Your new boyfriend has the standard circle beard
And a stupid backwards baseball hat
I hope you're happy, but he's worse than I feared
You know, girl, I never played you like that
Anyway enjoy this respite from your pain
Don't take it personally when you've parted
I'm confident you'll drive each other quite insane
And you'll be right back where you started
But you never did have the greatest taste in men
We two fellas are the damning evidence
And now nothing can ever be good again
And I've gotten used to your absence.
(bad bitter fictional lyrics, ho!)
Behind the Music
I had written a goofy and light-hearted little song called "Your New Boyfriend is a Fucking Embarrassment." Nobody I know has a new boyfriend or anything, it just came out of nowhere.
I started to think about how real songs aren't so goofy, and I started to wonder how some of the lyricists I really admire would have approached the subject. Elvis Costello is more often than not angry at someone, so I tried to re-write it as an Elvis Costello song.
After the break, we'll learn how it became a critical and financial disaster.
My first thought was that good lyrics need to have a layer of abstraction or ambiguity in them to
ever so slightly
cover up the real subject, and it's an excess of earnestness or sincerity in bad lyrics that make you cringe. Maybe lyrics need to be at least a little bit ironic, to spare yourself the embarrassment of saying anything too directly. But of course everything I've just written is wrong.
Maybe some month when I'm feeling brave I'll try to write a 100-word song every day and at the end we'll see whether or not I've improved.
Should I become a guy who wears bold, colorful socks to the office? I sometimes think about it. I go to a meeting in my sensible tan pants and dress shirt, and people cry "Oh lack-a-day, another meeting," and if I should cross one leg over my knee and show a bit of ankle can it be helped if a bit of my daring polka-dotted sock is exposed? I know it's 2015, nobody's going to faint, and somebody might point to it and shout out "Hey it's a party," and I will be toasted throughout the night.
I had a brief chat with a delightful person today. We happened to be in the same place, so we talked for about 15 minutes, but that was probably the most meaningful human interaction I've had in several months because she really made me laugh and stop taking things so seriously for a little while, and afterwards I felt refreshed and
saw the potential for fun in life.
If you are a funny and delightful person, please make sure you go out and chat with random people for a few hours every week, as a kind of public service.
I saw an ant in my kitchen, and I thought, yeah, that's one of those 'lone wolf' ants who just tool around wherever and do their own thing. He won't find anything he likes here and he'll move on to the next town soon enough.
But then I saw a different ant, and then
different ant. I remembered that ants famously like to work together, and that's when I realized I probably have more than three ants in here with me.
What's to be done? Can nothing stop their fearsome march? Details to follow if I survive the night.
I dipped a toe into the bold sock world when I chose a beige pair with a muted argyle pattern. I wore them today and thought I'd make a point to let my super-attractive co-worker see them. Like a proud bird showing his plumage, I could pretend to itch something on my lower leg, giving her a glimpse and letting my socks advertise my suitability as a mate.
As it happens, though, I didn't have any meetings today. I just sat at my desk and worked by myself, and I'm not sure anyone even knew I was there.
The thing about this place is that everything closes around 5:00 p.m. If it's 7:00 p.m. and you want to get out and get a coffee, you'll have to make it at home. I guess if you really wanted to (I've never tried) you could put it in a travel mug and take it to the little grassy lot they call a "park," but you'll be the only one there, and the people living adjacent to the lot will assume you are sitting there in the twilight waiting to snatch passing children. I've got this place figured out.
The crows are fascinating. There are more of them here than anywhere else I've ever lived, and knowing how smart they are makes me want to follow them around and see if I can't get to the point where I am accepted by their notoriously secretive faction.
I want to lecture them on the evils of intelligence without compassion (the crows are known to bully the local robins) but I also want to see the world through their eyes. What I'm saying is I want the scientists out there to stop whatever they're doing and teach crows to have blogs.
It is not my intention for this to become a place in which I help to perpetuate the doomed capitalist system, but I have to tell you how I feel about my favorite scrubbing powder, BON AMI.
Bon Ami is made from feldspar and other stuff, I forget. (The can is under my sink.) Last week I scrubbed my pan, teapot, and glass cooktop with exemplary results. I recently repaired an appliance by scrubbing the corroded battery connections with Bon Ami. If I ever had to scrub a loved one, it is the only powder to which I would turn.
I went back to Albany to do some shopping and visit Ian. Shelley is visiting her parents, so Ian bought some burritos and lots of beer and we cranked up some 80s rock ballads or whatever. We are cool guys.
Shelley called and we talked to her on some kind of video-phone. After she hung up Ian started telling me how much he missed her. I told him I envied them, and the thing I like about Ian is that he doesn't deal in platitudes; he didn't give me any "some day" nonsense, he just got me another beer.
I want to know what happened to those ants. What happened to make them leave their home, what adventures did they have here, and where are they now?
"On day one we found a drop of maple syrup spilled between the refrigerator and the cabinet. It was a very small amount and in an impossible-to-reach location, so the fact that it was there did not reflect badly on the person who lives here. We looked at each other before digging into the drop, more of a
, really, and agreed he was probably otherwise a very clean person."
Everything has to be in CamelCase, you know why, because "That'sBranding!" and we like our LetterForms in the right TypeFace (don't say 'font' around Stevane because he will give you a RealLecture) so I hope everybody is OnBoard with this policy which I hope I don't even have to explain InDetail.
Do you want to drink 'root beer,' pausing between the two significant words like a peasant, or do you want RootBeer, heh, eliminating that pause because you are a modern person, CrazyBusy, and unwilling to indulge in TimeWaste?
(I've probably unintenionally infringed on at least a dozen trademarks here.)
I don't know whether you know anyone who needs to have everything double- and triple-planned out three weeks in advance, but it's not great. "Should we do
on the 23rd and
on the 24th? Or
?" Like that.
You just say "hmmmrh" to everything, because you're just courtesy-listening to this person get the anxiety out and it couldn't possibly matter less to you in which order you do anything, and the more you listen to this nonsense the less you want to do anything with this person; "sorry, I'll be sick that day."
Coffee Sam tells me the morning rush is her favorite because most of the people are too sleepy to be grouchy, and they are just so
to be given coffee that it makes her feel like she's doing a good deed.
The bad part is that she is also responsible for the small table, where some people like to add syrup or soy milk to their coffee. In the morning they are so sleepy and rushed that they just sort of waggle the container over their cup and hope some of it goes in, but mostly it does not.
The original idea was that I was going to go to the gym after dinner tonight, but it's been snowing all day so instead I ate two quesadillas.
Next I will compare and contrast the feeling of having worked out for 40 minutes with the feeling of having eaten two quesadillas with homemade guacamole.
In both cases you end up with a short-term feeling of enhanced well-being and happiness. But tomorrow I will feel bloated and gross instead of strong and healthy. That Chao "cheese" (made from tofu, they say -- 'tomato cayenne' flavor) is
Someone else needs to run in the Democratic presidential primary, so today I announce my candidacy. I really need someone to fill in all the papers for me and collect a bunch of money. I'm going to run my campaign from my apartment, so you're going to have to come here if you want to do an interview or get me to kiss your ugly babby. I'm not going to quit my day job even if I win, I refuse to debate, and you probably wouldn't want to have a beer with me.
OK, e-mail me if I win.
Do you notice that as you add words to a sentence, the possibilities and potential meanings of the sentence decrease? As you progress, you become more and more trapped by the determinism of grammar and syntax until the next words are more or less dictated to you until the sentence ends.
I feel like we should get a long blank white wall and get some big plastic letters and jumble them around on the floor so people will think of it as a sentence yet to be constructed. I feel like... let's do some weird art like that, you guys.
For whatever reason I found myself flipping through a pamphlet for nurses with tips for helping geriatric patients. It said if you work with a patient who did not achieve his or her full potential while younger, that patient may seem sad or depressed. The pamphlet did not offer tips for bringing the patient cheer. That made me sad.
Then I remembered "
How we spend our days is how we spend our lives
," and that made me sad too, because I spend most of my days at work, and much of the rest of my days tired because of work.
If your friend has done something to you and feels a bit guilty about it, by all means keep bringing it up and bashing this person over the head with it again and again, never giving it a rest. If you keep it up, maybe you can get some special treatment out of it, so long as you never fail to go five minutes without a sharp reminder. Do it light-heartedly enough that you can claim it is a joke, although it clearly isn't. Through relentless psychological torture, you gently remind your friend never to fuck with you again.
I want to see some alternate universe versions of myself, like the one where I'm a fast-talking salesman or a father of twelve or a hardened criminal, and I want to see how those guys ended up the way they did.
Then I want to see how things would be different if I'd done certain things differently, and then, the classic, what the world would be like if I'd never been born.
I mean, Jesus H., just anything so that I don't have to look at or think about the real world I actually live in; I'll try
My friend Todd came around with a case full of stuff, because Todd is always trying to raise awareness. He had mini erasers shaped like prostates for raising cancer awareness, and travel toothbrushes to raise awareness about violence and so on.
I guess I must be some kind of quietist because I don't see how any of this actually
anything and I do not try to raise awareness or change anyone's views about anything, but that doesn't mean that I don't
. I just can't be up in arms about five hundred different things and I refuse to try.
If you tell me that you are having a baby, I am in ACTION MODE. I jump to my feet and take several deep breaths.
This is happening
! How many toy bears do we need? Five? Ten? I'd better get fifteen to be safe."
My assistance is not needed or especially welcome, because I am mainly concerned that the baby, who has yet to come on the scene, will not be bored. The parents are the ones who need someone to make a casserole or something, and I do not volunteer for that; I'm thinking about cool toys.
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