Monday, April 25, 2022

Didn't Dwell on This


Wasn’t long before I got one and then another call done that I had to get presentable and drive the older one over to the dentist.  One of the calls I had to do was to who I’d arranged to join on Thursday at the prodding of my dentist, as they suggested it would cost under $200.00 and save me much more on the ugly bills I was staring down.  I rang them and got the wrong department of course but the right person confirmed they had spelled my name wrong on my email.  Now I had the confirm. 

Over at the dentist they confirmed that I’d save more than I paid for the plan in the first place.  Somehow they have decided to play the worst pop hits of the early eighties as the muzak track de jour, at this dentistry.  It is certainly the hateful music I hate most in the world and I made arrangements to head outside and read my book in the car.   On the way out one of the ladies asked me if I’d my daughter had called me “baba” which I confirmed.  “They grew up in China.”  She suggested she called her father the same thing.  She didn’t appear to be Chinese but I never confirmed what other culture it was that also used the term. 


I hadn’t expected to, but I dozed off in the car after a page or two.  Next thing I knew she was down in the lot, with a mouth full of Novocain and a bill for . . . the full amount.  I called and they mentioned a mistake and a promise to credit it towards my younger daughter’s bill when she arrived next week.  I could have made a fuss but just drove home instead. 

We stopped by my mom’s.  She and my step dad are off in Long Island, enjoying the shore.  I promised to take a walk around which I did.  Everything seemed normal.  But I got a somber feeling walking in the back.  They weren’t there.  They weren’t supposed to be there.  But someday, certainly it will be a day when they will never be there.  I didn’t dwell on this for long and went back to the car and drove off back across  the river. 




Monday 07/26/21



Her Red Target Shirt


I can feel the air conditioning rising-up from the vent, at my feet.  During the day its’ imperative, but at night it isn’t always necessary.  For now, it feels good.   The Central Hudson bill was $235 for the month.  That certainly seems like a lot.  I’d mentioned to the girls to be careful with their wall mounted air conditioners on the second floor, but perhaps its’ something else.


Today at 9:30AM I was speeding up 87 to Kingston.  My older one had to get to work.  For the second day in a row, I told her to put on tunes, but she reminded me that she couldn’t until the car was stopped because it involved removing one phone and adding another.  Cloudy day, hot, humd, but not excessive.  My daughter doesn’t want to go in to work today.  She has on her red Target shirt. 

Read all morning.  Read when I got home.  Took a nap and read.  I finished off Cela’s “The Family of Pascual Duarte” after reading his “Journey to the Alcarria.”  A colleague and former student had recommended “Carmen.” I read it.  Another had recommended “The Alchemist.”  I read it too, quickly as I wanted to get to some of these Lorca plays which I also seemed determined to read today.  They were all cruel and gynocentric.  “The Ornament of the World” by Rosa Menocal will take me longer.  Anyway,  the day was already done. 


My older one had mentioned chickpeas.  I imagined something with small pieces of potato and zucchini baked mixed with the chickpeas.  Some olive oil.  Some fennel seed.  I linked it.  She ate around the zucchini.  I made some bruschetta for her that was better received.  The rack of lamb which she didn’t eat, I cut into chops and those came out well, if a bit fatty. Grilled lamb chops with cumin and paprika and sea salt always remind me of Beijing.

Sunday, 7/25/21

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

I Just Want Them



It wouldn’t be appropriate to sleep here, though I’m tired.   I’ve brought my lap top to Prestige Toyota in Kingston New York, where they are replacing the tire I blew yesterday.  Only a little while ago there had been a half a dozen people in this waiting area, where I’ve waited before.   Fortunately, as I didn’t bring any headphones, they were all quiet.  But one by one they’ve been told their cards are ready and they rose to left.  Diane has come to notify me.  But for now, I’ve time to write.  Off in the distance beyond Route 9, beyond the miserable signs and cars and criss-crossing wires are the majestic Catskill Mountains. 

“My Last Sigh” is the autobiography of Luis Brunuel and after finishing off "Tristana" I dug in, on my good friend’s recommendation.  It was charming and certainly insightful as it concerned the Lorca and Dali and Breton.  Surrealists are not, it would seem, and predictably enough, particularly consistent and I didn’t think much for his justifications for bad movies and uninspired acts.  But it was fun to be with a heavy drinker and it was humbling to think of the choices faced by people who really had to chose between anarchist forces, communist forces and fascist forces.  I’ll see if I can find his treatment of “Tristana” on my collection of movie-viewing channels I reluctantly consider from time to time. 


An older white man, which is to say a peer-level white man, has just come in and sat down with a young black man.  I’ve stared at them twice.  I do not care that they are one race or another or whether or not they are friends, relatives or lovers.  I just want them to stop talking because before they walked in it was perfectly quiet in here and I could think as I type.  The hairy eyeball seems to have worked.  They are both staring off in space, quietly just now.  Some guy who works here is on the phone speaking Spanish in a ridiculous voice, but this is a lesser form of distraction because I can’t really understand a thing he is saying. 


Yawning.  Always yawning.  I keep oddballs sleeping hours and it doesn’t matter that I went to bed early and slept late and had a few cups of coffee this morning.  My body is still demanding rest, almost instinctively, preparing it would seem for the next bout of deprivation.  Off to my side is Camilo Jose Cela’s “Journey to the Alcarria” which he wrote about himself in the third person in 1948.  A Nobel Laureate, I’d read Cela’s “The Hive” the last time I visited Spain thirty years ago, though I can’t remember a single salient thing about it other than the twisted face of the guy on the cover of the version I’d had.  I also have a Lonely Planet Spain, which I want to review as well.  One book is on the left.  One is on the right.  But the first thing I may do is revisit the restroom, even though I was just here forty-five minutes ago.  




Saturday 07/24/21


Take an Astronomy Class?


We played a lot of music during this ride, though I didn’t play “My Old School.”  But that’s where my younger one and I were heading.  Route 84 east, into Connecticut, past all those familiar signs for Danbury, Watertown, Meriden and then over towards Middletown.  We had an appointment for a 9:00AM school tour at Wesleyan, my alma mater.   Last night around 4:45PM my daughter said she was still on a waiting list for the tour.  I called them, mentioned my year and asked if we could get a confirm on a visit, which they kindly, now confirmed. 


I’d been up with client calls since before 3:00AM and had drank plenty of coffee.  I wore a long sleeved brown shirt on what would surely be another hot day, as I didn’t want anyone to have to stare at the horror-show that was my poisoned-ivy forearm.  I shook my little one around 5:30AM, just before my last call.  I wanted to leave by 6:00AM so we could have breakfast at O’Rourke’s the classic diner of yore, there in town.  I’d checked.  They were still there and would be open. 


We’re heading to Spain next month and I’d been reading “The Sun Also Rises” to my little one and with all this driving before us, I’d downloaded it ahead of time and threw on the audio book as we were heading up the drive.  My little one promptly rolled over and attempted to go back to sleep, so I paused it and decided we’d play it later, when she was actually awake.  Overhead I marveled at an enormous cloud that looked like a continent and turned the radio up a little as the Pidge on WFMU’s Wake and Bake show had thrown on Iggy’s “Real Cool Time.”  And with that, my daughter asked me if I’d remembered my Covid vaccine card.  “Sure.  It’s in my wallet.”  She didn’t have hers though and our second destination, Connecticut College had requested it, so we returned, secured the card and I got to marvel at the cloud a second time.

Been fasting for a few days.  We reached O’Rourke’s with a good forty-five minutes to spare.  They were closed.  We had a bagel somewhere else on main street that wasn’t here thirty-six years ago and headed up to the admissions office.  A smart, personable, articulate young lady of vaguely Asian descent showed us around.  I tried to see it all through my daughter’s eyes.  And I tried to imagine why it was I didn’t do any of the remarkable things she was describing, when I had the chance a life time ago.  There is an observatory on Foss Hill.  Why, for example didn’t I take an astronomy class? 


I did my best to keep quiet, but the strange environment worked its magic and sure enough my younger one decided she liked it.  “It was cool.“ Good.  She certainly has much better grades and much better work habits than I ever had.  We’ll see.  We’ll see.  After the info session, during which another parent recognized mine and introduced herself.  Our parents were friends.  We hadn’t seen each other in forty years . . . we drove down to the coast and got a lunch in New London, at precisely the same place my older daughter and I had done, four years ago, before we’d visited Connecticut College.  They have a lovely campus and I tried to master my late day tiredness, walking in to view what a real dorm room looked like.  One thing I was looking at fresh, at this campus and back at Wesleyan was the trees.  Though they both had stately trees, the variety on either campus was nothing to brag about.  A place that was, remarkable in that regard was Middlebury in Vermont, which we’d visited last year.  I did spot a Kentucky Coffee Tree, which I’d never seen before and I snatched a seen pod which I pocketed with the intention of planting back home.  All the ride home she played power-pop, Japanese anime theme songs and the ride went fast, and I never tired, because every time her song ended I got to through on the most aggressive punk I could think off to complement the vibe.  It wasn’t until after we’d crossed the Hudson and had ordered the evening’s family pizzas from Lombardi’s in Gardiner that we had a flat tire which we pulled over and replaced with the spare. 




Friday 07/23/21


Consider I Start Saving


I don’t know why, though we didn’t end up seeing the dentist much in Beijing.  The Western ones were a fortune and the Chinese one’s were spooky.  And I wasn’t insured.  I’d wanted to get my daughter’s braces now that we’re back in the U.S. and before we could we’d need to get some cavities addressed.  We drove today to Dr. Trimboli, at dentist my mom uses, not far from where I went to high school, in the hopes that he’d be a bit more merciful on us than the quotes we’d gotten on this side of the river.


He was.  A bit.  And he seemed to have a nice chair-side manner which wasn’t the case for the person my younger one had originally had her mouth prodded by.  Checking out, confronting the enormity of what would be required to fill these holes they suggested I consider I “Start Saving.  Keep Smiling” with  By paying approximately $175.00 I would save around 20% on my upcoming bills and let’s just say that if this were true I would be saving much more than $175.00.  I don’t understand precisely how it is that makes its money.  I don’t care.  Something is being properly stroked by securing my participation in this plan, so that overhead is no longer required. 

I usually didn’t want to go anywhere near food after visiting the dentist but the younger one wanted bubble tea and we drove down Route 9 to the section of the mall where the tea joint was.  No one ever walks into this bubble tea place and exits before at least ten minutes has expired and so I rang up and before my daughter’s had exited, I’d talked a plan through with a woman whose name I’d asked and acknowledged but now cannot recall, but whom I thanked as I would now have a plan, in time for the older one’s return to Dr. Trimboli next Monday.

With that we went over to my mom’s place.  She and my stepdad were out on the porch.  We talked dentistry and then Long Island as they were heading out there the next day, to the north fork where my sister had a place for the next two weeks.  My daughters are invited.  Perhaps they’ll go.  I must say I’m not overly excited about a trip to Long Island.  I’ve been back in New York for nearly two years now and I realize it is what people do in the summer, but I have no interest.  Rather, I explained to them that I’d taken the plunge this morning and done what I hadn’t done in at least eighteen months:  I’d bought round trip tickets for the family.  We’re off to Spain in three weeks.  I hope we don’t regret it. 

Thursday 07/22/21


Try to Stay Quiet


Appropriate perhaps for a drive to work with a psychology major, my older daughter and I talked about dreams on the way up to Kingston.  In her dream, her boyfriend had turned out to be a gangster.  If you knew her boyfriend, it would be immediately understandable why this could only be inexplicable and humorous in equal measure.  The boyfriend of the dreams casually confessed to having been involved in opaque, gangster-like activity.  The cops wanted my daughter to wear-a-wire and she didn’t want to do this.  I was curious to know what it was she was watching all night up there in her room, so that cops with wiretaps were asserting themselves this way. 

I’d had a more predictable, protean dream.  I was on a train, but I’d forgotten my backpack in another car, so I went to get it and I got distracted when I remembered my backpack, I was worried that it wouldn’t be there anymore.  Do the activities of the day, impact where in the memory hoard the mind searches for settings, and people and tensions to play out the day’s release at night?  We wondered about this as we exited the New York State Throughway and cut our way over to the overdeveloped strip of Route 9W where the Target she was working at was situated. 


I guess I’ve sheltered my daughters some.  She’s twenty and is only now discovering that eight-hour shifts, stocking shelves are boring.  That standing around on your feet all that time is tiring.  That there are many people who are working there who, unlike yourself, don’t have much choice in the matter. Still, she got off her ass and found the job without much prodding.  I’ll try to stay quiet about the fact that it doesn’t make sense economically, as it requires her mother or I to drive up and back for thirty minutes each way and consumes the attendant amount of gas.   I’ve very glad that she is talking to the other people there, who she works with.  They customers who come in and look for things like ketchup.  It’s part of learning to be American, for she who isn’t really from here.

I head over to the edge of the enormous parking lot they have at Target, after dropping her off, determined to figure out why it is my phone’s Bluetooth won’t connect with the car.  Eventually I have it reconnected and I ring back a number that had called me.  Spam.  What did I expect?  Then I call Japan and speak with a colleague for the next ninety minutes.  We’ve both been doing a lot of work to fix something that needs better coordination.   Back home I park the car at the head of the driveway and finish the last twenty minutes of our conversation, for if I’d driven down to the house the call would necessarily drop.  It’s Wednesday.  I’ve wondered about this and now I know when the garbage truck comes and actually picks up our garbage on Wednesday mornings.  It isn’t as early as I’d thought.  




Wednesday 7/21/21

After a Deliberate Pause


It isn’t a pretty song.  It captured my imagination for a short while as a thirteen-year-old.  I had run for some middle school office.  It may have been class-president.  But all I can remember running for the right to do, and then actually doing, was playing music in the lunchroom.  I fervently liked music that no one else liked.  I hated everyone else’s music.  But I won.  And ended up playing things like the Sex Pistols in the middle school cafeteria.

I can remember playing “EMI.”  I don’t think I ever played “Bodies” but I’m sure I thought of it.  Miraculously for my thirteen-year-old mind, the way one might consider a gymnast who could leap in the air and spin five times before landing, the song used the word “fuck” five times, rather overtly.  “Who Are You” was a Who song on the radio which managed so squeeze in a muffled “Who the fuck are you?”  But there was nothing discrete or tricky about what Johnny Rotten was saying.  The barrage of profanity was unmistakable confrontation after a deliberate pause.  And that’s all that mattered as I hadn’t any meaningful way to consider what an abortion was, yet.


The song was on my mind today, as there is another part of the song where Mssr. Lydon suggests the unfortunate topic is a “gurgling, bloody mess.”  Staring repeatedly at my left forearm today, mopping up an unerring stream of puss this description seemed most apt.  I have a rather epic case of poison ivy.  I guess I’d forgotten that it could get this bad.  There is a six-inch by two-inch strip of tender pale skin that is aflame with pustules.  I keep daubing it with calamine lotion.  Calamine lotion should work to dry it up and speed the end of it all, but I don’t think I’m even halfway through this yet.  Rivulets of puss make a mockery of the pretty pink covering. 

A long-sleeved shirt at least protects the rest of my family from having to consider this living road kill.  I snapped at my younger daughter during dinner when she asked me to show it to her sister.  Back at my desk there is a roll of paper towels.  I keep peeling off individual sheets, patting myself and tossing them.  But there is no end to this process.  There is too much carnage for anything to properly coagulate yet.  I have, of course, thought back over my activity.  What happened a few days ago to invite such a dramatic reaction?  Was it the quality of my encounter or the potency of that particular combination of three leaves and a petiole that set me aflame?




Tuesday 7/20/21