Friday, November 23, 2007

fail gloriously part ii

I had the idea that writing a blog would compensate for my homelife. It brought about some great distractions, sure, but in retrospect, I realize that the only purpose it really served was to throw present circumstances into such contrast that everything is black where I know there must be some light. I have to open the windows, somehow, sometime. I’m done here.

I think most readers of this blog who would like to keep in touch have my email. If not, I’ll put it in the comments upon request. Sorry for all the coming and going and changing names. I tried.

Steph, I hope you’ll continue the blog. It started as yours, and it’s still yours.

It’s been real.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

fail gloriously

Two things. First, I’ve been stopped increasingly often lately, on my way here and there, to help drivers parallel park their cars. I love it, almost as much as being stopped by someone asking for directions. I take it to mean I look something like a local, like I have some idea where I’m going and what I’m doing. I tend to fail when it comes to giving directions; I know my way around, but on foot, not in a car, and I don’t know the names of streets so well. Helping someone park, however, I’m brilliant: it reminds me of the days when I was first hearing Greek, and I thought everyone in this country was named either Ela or Opa. Ha.

Second, I just called the mil. It's that bad.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


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not liking anything

No stink bombs yesterday, but again it was a difficult class. I came out with my face burning red and my hands covered in black ink from the stupid white-board marker. I asked Maria if I had any marker on my face as well, and she said, no, but your hair is sticking up everywhere. I must have been a sight.

Earlier in the day, the plumber had come again, so buka and I couldn’t leave the house. It was one of those days when she doesn’t like anything, not me or my projects, or any of her toys, or even food. I thought she’d pass right out at naptime, if she was half as worn out by it all as I was, but she didn’t like that idea either. She fought it hard for half an hour or more, making noise, banging walls, even folding up her crib mattress into the corner in boredom and protest -- before she finally fell asleep on the cold bare plastic. I covered her up and we both got some rest.

Monday, November 19, 2007

post hoc ergo propter hoc?

"The author feels that there is justification for considering the strabismus syndrome a psycho-physiological distortion, part hereditary and part environmental in genesis. He suggests it may be one of a variety of responses to emotional stress in the parent-child relationship. Evidence for this is presented in seven brief histories in which strabismus appeared during emotional upheaval. Convergent strabismus is conceptualized as taking objects to the mouth, while divergent strabismus is a denial or thrusting away. Much of the data presented suffers from post-hoc-ergo-propter-hoc logic, but some of the cases convey important support for the major thesis."

[Israel Annals of Psychiatry. IX, 1971: Stress and Strabismus. Morris L. Beckwitt. Pp. 11-29]

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Radio silence

I'm the "500 channels and nothing to watch" kind of guy. I rarely turn on the TV any more. And as for the radio... let's say I'm somewhere between Radio Gaga and Radio KAOS. I usually find myself flipping in vain between Red, Jack & Rock (96.3, 96.6 and 96.9, very conveniently), hoping to come across some new tune, until I give up and push in one of my Sparks compilation CDs.

And yet, the radio's had its moments for me (the TV? Uhm... no). I remember listening to LedZep's Kashmir and Radiohead's Creep for the first time. I remember exactly where I was driving, and how in both cases I had to pull over.

A few weeks back I had another such moment. I was listening to one of the very few shows I actually knew the schedule of (not on any of the above stations, but just a slip of the dial off). Listening to a strangely familiar, soothing voice, and surprisingly agreeable words. Words not of major wisdom or enlightenment, but pleasantly meaningful. It was good company.

And one day the voice started reciting the translation of a poem; Philip Glass in the background performing a melody on the piano. And then the voice of Patti Smith, to sing the original song. It was a poem by Allen Ginsberg, called "On The Cremation of Chogyan Trungpa, Vidyadhara".

The same evening I found myself sending emails with subject "I am looking, quite desperately, for...", the body containing as many details as I could assemble from the web about the poem, the music, the performance. Some googling later, I came across Mr Lynch, who was kind enough to send me the piece.

A couple of days ago I found out the show was aborted. Abruptly.

I'll miss the voice, the words, and the sounds.

[Discretely dedicated to CM. But I'd rather not link right now]

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

returns of the day

As a day, it wasn’t a good one. I got a happy birthday in the morning, but just that. I opened the birthday box from my parents, to find a bunch of junk I had abandoned (for a reason) in their basement. Well, I was happy to see the wooden cat my brother brought me from Japan many years ago, and I liked one of the two sweaters my mother picked out. I thought it would go well with the pants I had just gotten back from the seamstress, and therefore, one of the few pairs of pants I have that actually fit me. Except that the pants have disappeared. I’ve been cleaning out closests lately and doing a lot of laundry. I would know if the pants were in either place or anywhere in between. I’ve looked all over. I vaguely remember washing the pants, but I don’t remember ironing them. Most likely scenario: they blew off the clothes line, and into oblivion.

To stop myself wasting more time obsessing about the pants, I took the buka out to the swings, where the other mothers were loud and annoying and throwing their cigarrette butts down on the ground all around the swings, some still smoldering. I was disgusted. I thought, should I say something, or leave? I left.

I went to buy birthday cookies to take to work. I got some extras for home -- for the babysitter, really, since she had brought sweets for us when she had her birthday last week. The husband started to eat one and noticed something dark on it. Whereas I would have just left it alone, especially on somebody’s birthday, he went off to get a magnifying glass -- to discover, sure enough, that the “something dark” was a leg, most likely a cockroach leg, baked right into the soft golden surface. He demanded that I take the cookies back. He made a big deal of it, refusing to throw the offending cookie away. I said we probably eat crap like that all the time, just forget it. I’m not taking them back and I’m not getting into a fight on my birthday. I was disgusted. By all of it. Again.

I left the cookies on the counter for the babysitter, and I took the other box to work, where I got lots of kisses and happy birthdays. The cookies were consumed without incident. The incident took place later, when I entered the worst class in the world. I dread facing this particular group of students every Tuesday, but this week, they must have decided to assign new meaning to their designation, since it was my birthday and all: they set off a stink bomb.

I got home, 10 o’clock at night. There was a present waiting for me, and a cake. I had had my doubts. I didn’t understand the suspense, why he would make me think all day that my birthday would remain unacknowledged and then “celebrate” it at a time when I would have the least time to enjoy it. (I go to bed by 10:30.) It’s okay. I made my wish, for something forgettable and vague.

I don’t care about birthdays. I have nothing else to wish for.

Except my pants.

Monday, November 12, 2007


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adventure buka

Buka had another doctor’s appointment today. She usually takes one look at the doctor and bursts into tears. Today, not a peep, not a whimper, not a tear. There was a wrinkled brow when the needle went in, but seriously, she didn’t cry. For her part, the doctor has never been one to remark upon the buka’s robust development or beauty. She sees cute and smart and crazy-haired babies all the time. But today she couldn’t contain herself. She said she’s never seen a baby the buka’s age take a needle and not cry. It’s a sign of security, she said. Maturity. A strange word to use for a baby.

I have what they call “an easy baby.” My mom says I’m so lucky and so clueless, having had no experience with any other kind of baby. But I know what I’ve got. And after all I’ve been through, I know how lucky I am.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Was visiting my parents the other day, and Artemis was intrigued by the little decorative ornaments on one of my mom's many coffee tables. She was particularly taken by this set of glass pomegranates.

After glancing at them for a while, she rushed into the kitchen and came back to add something on the table that she probably thought would make the composition stronger and more balanced.

Who am I to judge...

Friday, November 02, 2007


1, 2...


Thursday, November 01, 2007

dog-matism, a rare breed of

A very nice dog lives in the shortcut on the way to my house. A very nice woman, I recently found out, feeds the dog. I thought the dog belonged to the people living in the hovel alongside there. He’s obviously looked after, and quite the people dog. He’s super tail-wagging friendly, with passersby large and small. And cats.

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The woman said the dog was not hers or theirs, but, to my surprise, a stray. She lives on the other side of the neighborhood, but she stops by to bring him food every morning. She’s made several attempts to take him home with her, but the dog is strangely unwilling… to stray.

Sometimes she cooks for him. The hovel-dwellers aren’t crazy about it.

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But I am. I’m aware now of what a Greek mentality I’ve had to adopt just to walk through that shortcut on a regular basis. I no longer need a handwritten sign on a shoebox top or a cardboard box to tell me what it means to be civilized.

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