Toward the Horrid Specificity

I’ve been feeling a bit dyspeptic today, and I worry that I’ve gotten cancer or a blocked colon or my appendix is ready to burst poison all over my system. And yet, unlike most other hypochondriacs, I quickly convince myself that it’s nothing and definitely not worth seeing a doctor about. Maybe there’s a physiological reason for my medical denial. No, I’m sure it’s nothing.

But it does make me wonder about time. At times I automatically think of myself as the same person I was when I was 16–or even think of myself as still 16–but today’s 16-year-olds were just being born back when I was a 16-year-old. I don’t want to devolve this into me sitting in a darkened living room listening to some Pink Floyd album on headphones, but I really feel that, for the first time, I’m coming out of “youth” and entering “middle age.” It’s later than you think, as the song says (not Pink Floyd–much older than that, kids).

Modern human life starts at unfettered possibility, which funnels through our own actions and those of others, as well as random chance, to a horrid specificity: This is what he did, this is where he died. No one aims for the middle when they’re young, but there’s a tremendous pull there for comfort, for love, for entertainment, for leisure, for well-cooked, delicious, and timely meals. Okay, that’s it…this has become a Pink Floyd song. Here I thought I had gotten wiser with age, and it turns out I only know what I did at 16: “Did you exchange a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in the cage?” Actually, the answer is no. I deserted.


Another Beautiful Day in Seattle

Wendy and I rode the ferry together, as she’s now teaching at a school in town. I brought the camera with me into work this morning…I snapped off a couple of nice photos: One of the ferry coming into Eagle Harbor and another from the deck of same ferry, looking toward Eagle Harbor and the Olympic mountains beyond. It was absolutely beautiful. I see why it’s important to take photos at home.

I listened this morning to an NPR story about the history of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. I was interested in his daily writing routine: warm up with a few letters, then a short entry into a writing log, where he would detail his plans for writing that day, before he would write. It sounded so appealing. What great discipline.


Introducing Poor Yorick’s Almanack

So, a name change, for several reasons. First, I was dissatisfied with the country-fried sound of “Jiggle the Handle”. I thought it sounded too much like the punchline of a Jeff Foxworthy joke. I used it because that is what came to mind right before I started this whole stinking endeavor. Second, Wendy cut my hair this morning very close…so close, in fact, that in the mirror I could see the clear detail of my skull underneath. I immediately thought of Hamlet act 5, scene 1, upon finding his dead friend’s long-ago-buried skull:

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is!

I’m not a huge Shakespear fan, but I really liked that line because it’s crucial to Hamlet’s understanding of life and death and of time passing…something I am considering a lot these days. The name also comes from Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack, a work of which I have minimal yet pleasant experience. Anyway, it’s just a name change.

Today is better. The sun is out and the sky is blue (the world is beautiful, and so are you dear Prudence). I think that lately I’ve been suffering from some seasonal depression, and that it’s difficult for me to recognize being depressed because I don’t so much feel sad as I feel vaguely dissatisfied, fearful, and cranky. I think with just the sun being out, I’m a lot better off. Wendy and I are about to go out for a walk on the beach to fully explore its vitamin-E charms.

One thing I want to remember for later, though, is an article I read in this morning’s Seattle Times, about a warm, evil wind that is the bane of people living in western Austria.


High Anxiety

I’ve been feeling a little anxious about my job, and that anxiety kind of spills over into my life. January through March are typically the toughest months for me, and this year has provided very little reason to become an exception. It just feels like I can’t keep up with things; that I don’t know how to properly manage my time or my tasks. It becomes a spiral because I worry about it so much that I can’t relax when I’m at home, then I feel exhausted and defeated before I start my day. I’m exagerating. I just feel like what I’m doing doesn’t stick. My accomplishments aren’t fulfilling (they can’t always be) and my leisure seems misspent. I worry about the spelling of words that no one will see or mark. This is how pains become cancer.


Hamlet on the Holodeck

I’ve been reading a book called Hamlet on the Holodeck for the last couple of days, and it’s given me an idea for a baseball-themed collaborative hypertext novel called “Home 5, Away 4.” I’ve been throwing the idea around for a couple of months, but I wasn’t sure how I could organize it. I think if I start with a box score, it can block the story of the game into segments. Then, for each segment (titled something like “fly out to right”), I can insert the radio announcer’s monolog, and players thoughts during the game. The references during those segments can then spin off to people in the dugout, people in the stands, people listening at home, people not even aware of the baseball game that afternoon.

Wendy and I went last night to see The Man Who Wasn’t There. We saw it at the very quaint Lynwood Theater on the island, and we did plan to have dinner at the cafe next door, but we were turned away by the prices on the menu. We don’t often go to such expensive restaurants, but when we do, we don’t do so an hour before a movie is supposed to start. We drove back to Safeway for deli food, which was cheap and worth every penny. The movie wasn’t as good as I was expecting. I love Coen bros. films, and I especially love film noir, but this lacked energy. Their idea was, obviously, to have a character who didn’t have any presence, one who just let life happen to him. That’s especially hard to do because if the character doesn’t care what happens to him, there’s little incentive for the audience to care. I didn’t dislike the film; I appreciate its effort. It’s just that I felt like looking at my watch a little too often.

dad Wendy

the best couple of days

This was the best couple of days I’ve had since my dad died (January 29). I think about him a lot, but now more with control. When I do think about him, I feel like I have a little bit more perspective on things. Wendy and I were in the hot tub the other day, and I was telling her how bad I felt that I couldn’t just call him. I’ve never gone a whole month without hearing his voice. Today I called to talk to my mom and found his voice is still on their answering machine. It was nice to hear his cadence again, the way he said “Bye” on the phone in a slight southern drawl, probably fabricated to be cute decades ago before becoming a forgotten part of his repertoire (he was originally from the least southern state in the union: North Dakota). It didn’t feel odd to hear it, either, but I did think of how preserving someone’s voice–a much more intimate part of one’s identity, even more so than their physical appearance–was a luxury that our grandparents never had. I don’t know what to do with that answering machine greeting; part of me feels like I should capture it and encase it in crystal, another part of me feels like I should let it slip away randomly, perhaps in the next power outage.


“You’re so procrastinating with this car,” Wendy says

“You’re so procrastinating with this car,” Wendy says. This is what I’ve been doing instead of putting the Kia up for sale. Really, I just got the idea last night and I wanted to find a new way to get more writing done. Today we’re going to the car wash.