•August 18, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I recently discovered that I’ve learned how to touch-type on the number pad of a full sized keyboard. Somehow, without deliberately training myself, I managed to garner enough practice typing up payroll entries to get the knack of it. 

As I began to realize that I was often typing in numbers without having to hunt-and-peck for them, I began to (over) think how I type on a daily basis. I tried to deliberately think through where each letter of the alphabet falls on the keyboard and found that I couldn’t remember. My hands knew the way, but my memory no longer kept a map on file . Deliberately trying to think of the letters location on the keyboard didn’t just slow me down, it nearly brought me to a halt. How the hell did I ever manage to learn touch typing in the first place? 

Instead, I determined, I mostly type “by ear”. Even if I’m not looking at the screen or at the keyboard I can usually tell when I’ve mistyped a letter, as if I’d played a sour note. If I’m transcribing something and I need to type quickly, I typically keep my eyes on the paper and force myself to read each word sound by sound. Somehow my fingers follow along. I can type pretty fast- about sixty words a minute when I really get going, but I can read even faster, which causes problems.  If I read too fast, or if I glance up at the screen or up at the keyboard and I see a different word with a different sound my fingers will get confused and start tripping over themselves. 

I sometimes wonder if this is what playing the piano feels like to a pianist: somehow knowing what the shape of the music should feel like without trying to think about the location of individual notes. Knowing how satisfying it can be to get up to a good speed when typing, I can imagine how satisfying it must be to be able to be able to make music like that.

Tenth Day

•August 17, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Well, technically the eleventh day- my first day back in the blissful world of coffee. 

The coffee pot had become the happy home to a colony of slime mold that was happily growing up in small white capped islands from the shallow pond of coffee left from the dregs of my final pot two weekends ago. I felt a pang of guilt to wash such a thriving community down the drain, but didn’t let it didn’t stop me from actually doing the deed. 

I was down to the dregs of the coffee grounds as well. The can of Yuban had been sitting on the kitchen counter for ten days with only three last scoops of grounds left in the bottom. Through a minor culinary accident, these had been lightly salted by the Curmudgeonly Lion. “It’s only, like, twelve grains [of salt],” He assured me. “It might even help bring out the flavor.” So I was in for a taste sensation one way or another. 

If salt made a difference in the flavor, I failed to notice it. I took coffee with breakfast while absorbing fifteen minutes of the morning Howl of outrage from social media (I’m just going to go ahead and call this The Howl from now on) and then escaped into the Hollywood Reporter’s list of top film schools for the year, more than a little bit satisfied to see the Alma Mater still holding court as number one.  

In a typical reversal of convention, the final day of my caffeine detox was the only day that I got a headache. It was a persistent one that lasted all day and utterly refused to respond to hydration, massage, or ibuprophen. Regrettably, it seems to have continued into today. Even caffeine seems to be failing to lift the pressure. Instead, it is making up for this shortcoming with the jitters, which I haven’t felt for a long time, and which are reminding me that I may want to pace myself with that second cup of ambition, headache out no headache. 

Jitters aside, it does feel good to have that feeling of fire in my belly again. August, so far, has consisted of one long motivational stall during which the work keeps piling up and my impulse to tackle it keeps shuffling off to take a nap.  The brain part of me wants very much to get to work. Everything else wants to lie around like a blob. I compromised by reading and finishing my book “Harpo Speaks”, which was an excellent read. It’s not a big accomplishment, but it’s something. Maybe I can build on it. 

•August 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Considering that I was only on Chicago for the weekend, I feel like I shouldn’t have acclimatized to the time difference enough to be feeling jet lag now, but somehow I’m managing it. It doesn’t much help that the sky has been overcast and that I’m still off of coffee. So the highlights of my day have consisted of reading a few chapters of “Harpo Speaks” by Harpo  Marx with Rowland Barber, and enjoying a Nutty Buddy bar for an afternoon snack. Enjoyable as both these things are, they aren’t a very exciting subject matter to write about. I also fell asleep briefly in the lunch room and managed to wake myself up with exactly five minutes to spare before I had to be back at work. It seems that my internal alarm clock is up to speed even if the rest of me isn’t. 
The rest of my day wasn’t very noteworthy. I learned that if I fall asleep upright with my head resting in my hands I swallow a lot of air while asleep and wake up belching. I learned that I’m still incapable of eating a Nutty Buddy bar like a normal human; instead I’m compelled to take it apart layer by crispy layer the same way that I have since the lunch room in junior high. To bite across all four layers at once would be like biting across a string cheese. My teeth hurt at the very thought. 

I’ve also learned that reading about the Marx brothers is eminently preferable to social media at the moment. I spent several summers working on the UVA campus and count it as one of my favorite places in the country, which adds to the recent violence an extra layer of mental distress. At the risk of sounding escapist, it’s nice to have the excuse to tune out of social media for a while and just concentrate on the here and now. In a world of turmoil, it feels doubly important to feel the small pleasures of life like a good book and a sugary snack as deeply as possible.

Launched

•August 14, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Rise n shine

My flight was due to leave Chicago at six in the morning in order to get me back to Los Angeles in time to work *most* of a work day. Boarding began at five thirty so I calculated that I should be out of the house by four thirty, and that meant getting up at four. So to be safe, I set an alarm for three fifty five in case I needed a five minute snooze to bring myself online. 

Somehow, I managed to set the alarm for three fifty five in the afternoon for last Thursday. Needless to say, it never went off. By some internal mechanism I woke myself up anyway and lay for a long time in the dark wondering how much time I had left. Surely the alarm would be going off any minute now. Aaaanny minute now. Now. Now it would go off…. Any second. 

Finally I gave up and looked at my phone to discover it was seven minutes after four. I didn’t need a snooze: I was launched into wakefulness on a sudden surge  of adrenaline, stopping long enough to jab my contacts into my eyeballs. I wasn’t panicked exactly: everything was packed already, I just needed to close up my bag, get dressed, and grab a bite to eat. But it was enough to fluster me into indecision- did I have time for cereal or did I need to take something on the road? Or could I sit and eat as long as it was something already prepared? I dithered my way through the kitchen until I realized what I was doing and forced myself to stop and just eat some damn Cheerios. 

I managed to make it out the door without further incident and proceeded to make the longest commute I’ve ever done to get to work by mid morning. 

Boob

•August 11, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The man on the train platform had a breast in his hand. There did not seem to be any evidence of a woman to which it might once have belonged. The breast was fake, of course: a novelty object cast in some kind of pliable, flesh colored silicone, complete with a nipple. The back side, where it would normally attach to a body, was flat to the point of concavity and rimmed with a faint ribbon of excess silicone. It was solidly the size of a grapefruit. 

The man spoke in the piping tones of a child. He could not have been more pleased with his plaything, which he referred to frequently and ebulliently as his “titty”. His favorite pastime was to throw his titty, with all his might, against the ground. If he aimed it right, the back side would adhere to the cement of the platform sending a satisfying ripple of jiggle through the breast. His companion, the George to his Lenny, scolded him gently: 

“Respect the titty.” He repeated in an undertone. “Don’t throw it on the ground, it’ll get dirty.”

This advice seemed to speak to Lenny. He borrowed a bottle of water that his companion was emptying for redemption and poured it over the breast with ceremony. The titty was not noticeably cleaner, but did now gleam with shining droplets of water. 

Then the train came and the man and his titty went on to adventures in places unknown.

Reading Lately

•August 11, 2017 • Leave a Comment

My impulse to read seems to be returning. I hate that it comes and goes- I’d like to think of myself as the kind of person who is a prolific reader, but instead I go through long phases where reading feels like work instead of a pleasure. Then some switch in my mind will flip back the other direction and I will have an urgent need to READ ALL THE THINGS!!!!! To the exclusion of all other pastimes. 

Yesterday, I finished reading “Astrophysics For People In A Hurry” by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, which was pleasant to read over breakfast in the mornings. I suspect that the contents that the book covers are, to an astrophysicist, so painfully basic that it would be like reading a coloring book, but for someone like me who just wants to be able to locate “astrophysics” on the map it was a welcome introduction to the area of study. 

I’ve moved on to “Theft by Finding” by David Sedaris, although admittedly I’ve only made it as far as the introduction so far. It is a book of diary entries, collected over dozens of years, so I’m curious to see where it goes. Like with reading, my journal-keeping habits have gone in irregular phases: sometimes I will record my life in nauseating detail (which, when I later read it I will consider burning out of embarrassment) and other times- often the  more eventful parts of my life that would actually be interesting to read about- I won’t write at all. Keeping this blog has turned into a diary of sorts: I mean, not a deeply personal one since I tend to avoid putting my deepest feelings and most vulnerable moments out onto the scorching plains of the internet, but it does help me record my days. In particular, it helps me remember the little things that I would otherwise put out of my mind and helps me keep a general chronology of the progression of my life. 

I’m also grinding my way through a sci fi novel that I’m not enjoying at all. It’s by an author that I typically admire, but it’s the third book from a series that I started and lost interest in so long ago that I remember next to nothing of it. The style is so very florid, and the story (so far) is so melodramatic that I’m having trouble connecting with it. But for all that, it does seem to be a quick read, considering that I read nearly half of it in one day. So there’s that. 

Beyond reading, my inspiration continues to wander in the desert. Each day I put pen to paper and hope that the muse will come, but each day it fizzles out before I reach the bottom of the page. Maybe all this reading will help spark something new.

•August 10, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The laundry situation was getting pretty urgent. It wasn’t an emergency of pairing-plaids-with-stripes proportions yet, but the reserves of clean underwear were beginning to run dry. Since the laundry machines were still vacationing in the dining room, the task of doing laundry evolved into an expedition into the wider world in search of laundry facilities. It wasn’t much of a search: we already knew where to go- to my sister Bean’s place. They were out of the house, and we had a spare key so we let ourselves in. A wild time was had by all. 

Two loads was probably a mistake. I mean, it’s one thing to do two back-to-back loads of laundry at home on the weekend when the waiting time can be spent on other activities. It’s another thing to do two back to back loads at eight in the evening on a week night at your sister’s house. All we could do was wait. And wait. And wait. 

The dryer takes as long as the dryer takes.

Bedtime came and went. I did my best to nap while I waited for the cycle to end, waking briefly to move a load from one machine to the other. It was a restless kind of sleep- always near enough to the surface to keep an ear out for the sound of tumbling clothes. It was nearly midnight by the time we actually got home and plunged into bed. The morning alarm came much too soon. 

So I’m dragging my tail this morning, and I don’t even have a fun or glamorous excuse. It’s not like I spent the night out on the town or was up until the wee hours burning with inspiration. No. Laundry. That’s my excuse. But it needed to be done and I’m an adult, so I needed to do it. Mornings like this make me regret growing up. 

 
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