11.25.2023 that is not story, that is egg

Egg smells so strongly of egg. That is its problem, and its promise.

An expensive coffee can be a nice thing. An expensive coffee can be a pleasing thing. Treat yourself! You deserve a nice coffee! I deserve a nice coffee. I deserve a fancy fucking coffee. I deserve a fancy hat. I deserve international respect for my movements in the south china sea. I deserve to be recognized as a naval superpower. I deserve a little song with my name in it, a song written for me and about me that the American Public knows and loves and scream-sings in cramped little karaoke bars while mister drunk coworker Brian doesn’t listen because he is fantasizing about how hard he is going to absolutely crush “Sabotage,” because if he crushes “Sabotage” (he MUST crush “Sabotage”) Lindsey from accounting will finally SEE him for who he REALLY IS and then she will go home with him tonight and they will have Hot Sex. This is a fantasy, and a promise.

I deserve to be praised by partisan news outlets for my unwillingness to implement austerity measures. I deserve to have my own small gavel. I deserve to have my own private navel. I deserve to have a scale replica of my own bedroom which is placed on a pedestal in my full-size bedroom. I deserve to be placed on a pedestal in the eyes of the American Public and then to be allowed to climb down whenever I want because I am not entirely comfortable with heights. I deserve to find spiritual comfort in flagpole sitting. I deserve to have an insect named after me by an admiring biologist as both a laugh and a sign of respect.

I deserve to have a hardboiled egg that is just for me. I deserve to have a hardboiled egg that contains the promise of a future. I deserve to have a hardboiled egg that doesn’t smell devastatingly and brutally of hardboiled egg.

In four days I fly north for winter. I am getting old. I thought that by now a wizened elderly man would have taken me under his wing and taught me how to navigate by the stars, and how to find true north, and how to use an astrolabe. I deserve to be mentored. I deserve to be coddled. I deserve to be enrolled in an educational program that encourages encouragement and discourages discouragement. I deserve to be taught how to use an astrolabe.

No. No no no. Nothing is deserved. Everything has to be earned. Astrolabes don’t read themselves, baby boy.

Astrolabes don’t read themselves.

11.22.2023 chicken caprese panini

The bees are gone. Yesterday, during the Swarm, B-- herded the bees into a rosebush. Saint B--, protecter of men, herder of bees. They (the bees) settled into the rosebush and were still there when I checked yesterday afternoon and yesterday evening and this morning. But when I went out front around noon all the bees were gone. All of them, even little Jeremy Bop. They did not leave a note. They did not leave a trace.

I went out front this afternoon (right before D--- and C---- came by with kind sandwiches) and all the bees were gone. I felt a hollowness that was momentarily overwhelming. Every now and then a vague idea is made concrete, and, probably because it is too heavy, it slips into the world through a fissure in the elsewhere. Names solidify and appear not as dreams but as omens, and as bees. If you go on the internet you can learn all about beekeeping. If you call LA county vector control you get an automated list of buttons to press for different extensions.

I knew the bees would have to go eventually — a yard filled with bees is unsustainable at best — but today the bees vanished as invisibly as they arrived. Even the smallest bee, little Jeremy Bop. I felt a tremendous sense of loss.

1.21.2023 זיכרונה לברכה

When we got home, the bees were swarming. We pulled up the car in front of the house and saw what looked like television static rippling across the front yard, blurring rose bushes/front steps/sidewalk/achillea millefolium. I did not expect it to be bees but it was bees. We got home and the bees were swarming.

We have never had a cloud of bees before. We have never even had a politely contained hive of bees before. But when we got home from the funeral with only 15 minutes before guests would arrive to eat sandwiches and reminisce and give apologetic hugs, our whole front-of-house was thick with bees. It was a crisis. It was a threat to normalcy. It was absolutely destabilizing. It was surreal.

Last week (two weeks ago?), when we were out for a walk, a small group of small boys approached, asking if they could pet Kitty. “Ask your parents,” my mom told them, “whether you’re allowed to pet a dog on Shabbos.” They were allowed.

“Are these your sons?” one of the boys asked my mom, gesturing to me and to M---.

“My son and my daughter.”

“No,” said the eldest of the small boys. “They are both sons.”

We did not correct him. He sounded so confident that we all felt he must be right.

Today when the director asked the pallbearers to approach the casket, he said “alright, gentlemen.” Then, seeing me: “And lady.”

“You are lucky to have two strong sons to help carry this burden,” I told my mom. But I had not expected the casket to be so heavy. Grandma was almost gone, by the end, and the dealwood looked light enough, but it asserted itself fiercely in the fingers and the left shoulder. We set her down and looked past our toes into the dead earth. The men who winched her into the ground at the end of the service wore blue shirts and blue hats, looking less Victorian undertaker and more Honda dealership employee. Dirt always thuds when it hits casket. It is a specific sound, one worth holding in the ears.

After the service, Rabbi M— asked us if we had ever bonded with grandma over having lost our fathers so young to cancer. It was an interesting question, one worth asking if not worth answering. Then she asked us what it was like losing a father so young. She wondered to what extent we felt it had shaped us. We laughed. Entirely, we said. It’s pathetic. There is another world I am forever aware of in which I am an entirely different person. It is the world that wobbles enticingly on the other side of rippling asphalt heat and '70s-themed bead curtains. Rabbi M— gave a rabbinic noise of understanding and we headed home to set up tables and chairs for sandwiches and people.

I had not expected to return home to a swarm of bees. I guess I never expect to return home to a swarm of bees. I guess that is why it was so unexpected.


L---- entered the world in Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in East Hollywood, which is now the Scientology building but wasn’t the Scientology building back then because it was Cedars of Lebanon Hospital. She left the world slowly, forgetting it as she went. 


I asked my mom what I could do to be helpful.

“You can call —— ———— to cancel Bumpy’s appointment.” She was on hold with the mortuary. So I called —— ———— and cancelled the appointment.

—— ———— cleared his throat and gave his condolences and then gave his condolences a second time and then, drawing a blank but determined to keep the verbal stream going, moved on to listing facts:

“She was a client of mine… a dear… client… She was your mother’s mother… She was your grandmother… She was your grandfather’s wife…”

I thanked him and I really did mean thank you. I admired his determination to fight social discomfort with irrefutable fact. My grandmother was my grandfather’s wife. Straight fact. Irrefutable fact.

11.16.2023 There are a number of questions greatly weighing on me:

1. Will I finish my graduate school applications on time and actually apply to graduate school?

2. Am I capable of making a decision about graduate school?

3. Am I capable of making decisions?

4. Was Sir R. Montague really on the train to Chipping Camden at 7:45pm on the night of the Westerbrook murders, or could he have exited the train at an earlier stop and returned to the Westerbrook estate, thus invalidating his alibi?

5. Will I actually get my act together and overcome my anxiety and write friendly yet professional emails to former professors ASAP asking for recommendations?

6. Were there any witnesses who might have seen Sir R. Montague on the train after the initial 6:15pm ticket collection?

7. What should I wear tonight for my hastily arranged Hinge date with a guy whose identity, personality, employment status, etc are vaguely unknown?

8. Liza the parlourmaid claims that Dora Barker was snooping under the window, but might Liza have mistaken a different "flash of yellow" near the hydrangeas for Dora's pashmina?

9. Can bird omens be trusted?

10. Will I get covid 19 on my date tonight?

11. Did Stephan Barker actually die while serving in India, or is there a chance that he is alive - he would be 36 now - and has returned to Wiltshire under a false identity seeking revenge for Charlotte DuPont's suicide?

12. Can bird omens be used to seek advice on grad school applications?

13. Can bird omens be used to seek advice on first date outfits for meeting unknown men at random bars?

14. Is there anyone other than Dora who would recognize Stephan if he were living in Wiltshire under a false identity?

15. What do I want?

16. Dora's maid, Claudette, claims to have gone to the cinema on her afternoon off, but the ticket seller, when shown Claudette's picture, did not recognize her, saying he "would've remembered a girl like that": where did she go that afternoon?

17. How do I live a life that looks something like a life?

There are all these questions that weigh on me greatly. I have trouble sleeping at night. I have trouble waking up in the morning. I have trouble doing jazz hands, but I watched a few YouTube tutorials and hopefully I am back on track.

11.11?12?.2023 (1:30 or 2am or thereabouts)

It is dangerous to be anywhere but here. It is dangerous to be anyone but here. Everything is immense and everything is dangerous. To be anywhere is to be in danger.

Bathtubs are not safe. Bathtubs are not safe. To be in a bathtub is to be in danger.

There is an anecdote often told of Monseiur DuParnass, a wealthy merchant who owned a wig store on the Blvd. St. Antoine in the early days of the F—— R———. On returning home from church one Sunday, he found that all his wigs had up and fled to the countryside, doubtless led by that one foppish peruke in the front display case who had long nursed a dream of "living off the land." M D—P— was devastated, not only because of his lost stock but more-so because his wife had left as well, having entered into a sordid affair with an outmoded full-bottomed periwig.

Two weeks later, M. D—P— was dragged to the guillotine and executed. He was not an aristocrat, but a passing mob took offense at his upturned sternum and self-indulgent poetry. His head was paraded through Paris on a pike, and a woman on whom drops of his blood fell later claimed to have been immediately cured of rheumatism.

I guess what I'm trying to say is — life comes at ya fast, kid. To think just a few years ago I was an Average Joe, nothing special, not a penny to my name — and now look at me! I mean it kid — look at me. Look me in the funking eye. I've got more collarbones than I know what to do with. It's the American Dream, kid! I'm livin it! I hope this inspires you to believe in yourself, kid, and to do one thing today worth filming and publicly broadcasting.

The world is full of all this stuff. It is absolutely jam-packed with material. I am just a mappable point in relation to all these objects.

I used to count every night, in my own way and by my own terms. I used to count myself to sleep. I used to exist within a society. I used to exist in relationship to other people, to where they were sitting. I used to count by my own terms and by my own methods: here are my numbers -- I named them myself!

All is fog and salt spray and television static. And what are you counting to? And what are you praying for? And what is your name for the number between ten and twelve? And - actually - don't tell me — I don't want to know.

Being told is dangerous. Being anywhere is dangerous. Counting is dangerous, as it leads somewhere — somewheres are dangerous.

In certain places -- in certain places, I am told -- there is water so thickly salinated -- so unliving and thickly salinated -- that you can lie back in it and just --

11.7.2023 plush dog cone

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There is this nothingness that can be overwhelmingly insistent.

I am looking for slim prose. I am looking for taut prose. The verb "to be" must join hands with the adverb and depart; you have no place here. Your brothers have no place here.

There is this one hour that comes with daylight savings time and leaves with daylight savings time and in the middle bits of the year it just hovers around as a "was" and as a "will be." It scratches at the eyelids and destabilizes everything. You can get lost in it.

Blinking is necessary but dangerous. You can get lost in it.

Bathtubs are necessary but dangerous. You can get lost in them. There was this girl once who went down the drain with the bathwater. She was in the bath and the headmistress said "get out of the tub!!" and she said "I won't" and the headmistress said "I'll count to three and then I'm pulling the plug!" and so the headmistress counted to three but the girl just said "hmph!" and didn't budge so the headmistress (who was nothing if not true to her word) pulled the plug and the girl went right down the drain with the bathwater. This was unfortunate, but so many things are unfortunate -- you can't be choosy about fortune. Fortune is in the hands of the wheel, and the wheel is in the hands of the gods. Mr. Rodgers has refuted this. He sang a whole song dedicated to refuting this, which goes "you can never go down, never go down, never go down the drain." Mr. Rodgers should not doubt the gods. If the Old Gods and the New Gods want you to go down the bathtub drain, they will send you down the bathtub drain. You just can't be choosy.

I am looking for meaning in all the wrong places. Today I tried editing my thesis, whittling it down into a writing sample. But I hadn't counted on all that lint that floats around in page margins. There is this ectoplasm that hovers in page margins and in web browsers, unnecessarily haunting digital tasks. Everything begins to feel stupid, and unnecessary. Everything begins to spin with retinal floaters and television static and apartments with shoes piled up by the door and outdoor balconies furnished with indoor couches where things could have gone a number of ways but didn't. Time gets all rattled around like loose teeth in a tooth can. Maybe there is no such thing as a tooth can. Maybe there is no such thing as a marzipan spoon. There is definitely such a thing as a bathtub: I know this much, as I have seen them around.

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