Thursday, November the 28th
B is fighting through her cold. I had at least two quick, deep thrusting, strange dreams last night. For the first time in a long time I called something out in my sleep—three words I think, but I don’t remember which—something like, “Oh, come on!” B heard me, it woke her. And I think she said something to me in response, but I had my ear plugs in so I barely heard her through my haze and I didn’t respond. I think the earplugs contributed to me finding that odd level of sleep-state.
I tossed and turned for most of the night. I couldn’t call it sleep exactly.
At 6:12 I got up for good and told B it was time for her to get up, too. We had breakfast scheduled at eight and I wanted to be awake for awhile beforehand. I grabbed some americano I had left over from yesterday. It was cold but welcome. I did my cash accounting. B agreed to take me on a cigarette run!
We hit a 76 station down the street and I paid more than I have ever paid for a pack of smokes. Then B asked me, “Do you want to go to the beach?”
“Uhhh, sure,” I said. We winded our way on down that same street and eventually I could see water. Before long we were at Matthews Beach Park. The sun was just coming up, joining a heap of fog, some mountains in the distance, and ever-present evergreens to create a tremendous morning sunrise melange. There were ducks: probably four different kinds: mallard, gadwall, american widgeon, and farther out a smaller duck that I’m going to say were goldeneye. I didn’t have my field glasses so I am not calling these sightings officially. There’s a bird book here at the BP, and I have consulted it. One of the kinds of duck was making a sharp whistling noise that I can’t recall having heard before. My first thought was, “Is that a whistling duck?” But according to the book, the geography is not right. It’s the widgeons that whistle. They are about the size of a mallard and although they sometimes have green on the head, which I didn’t see, the tail was right as were the white wing marks, which I did see.
The goldeneye were farther out, wary. Divers, not dabblers. Smaller. White and black. Some white on the face. My first thought was goldeneye. Could have been bufflehead but I know bufflehead—I can remember where I first saw them, on a walk down Sullivan Road from my dorm at IMSA—on a pond near on office building on a blustery weekend day—no one in sight….
There were also crows and a few gulls. It was chilly. Leaves on top of the rocks at the beach were frosted. The fog waned, then waxed. We took photos, I did a Vine. There was only one other person out there: a guy walking a dog. I had a cigarette and the hand holding it got cold quick. After that we left.
On our way back we stopped at the Safeway and B got some cold medicine. I sat in the car, with it running. A guy in an old white Honda parked a couple of rows away, locked the car manually. He wore loafers, no socks. Out to get a few last minute items for Turkey Day, I thought.
I’m now at the BP. We had breakfast over here: quiche, turkey sausage, and pump-cran scones. It was all good. The quiche had spinach, two kinds of olives, onions, and maybe some red bell pepper in it. I rather liked its formidable crust. I’m on my second half-cup of coffee. B’s nieces are…constant but bright. They’re all out walking now.
It is quiet—exceptionally so. JO is here but is downstairs watching TV. His phone rang and he came up and got it with surprising promptness. Maybe he just happened to be coming up at that moment anyway.
It’s a nice house with numerous pieces of unique, original art. B and I especially like this painting of a couple of barns:
Simple is beautiful. That painting is basically ten lines and then a lot of color to fill in. Add two windows, a barn door, four pieces of lumber leaning against the broad side of one barn. Maybe that’s a hay bale at the bottom left—could be a tank of some sort or a barrel on its side. No horizon. The same blue sky makes up half of the painting. I’m not saying it’s easy—simple is hard.
They’re all back now. Sheena has a book with a button—if she hits the button, the book sings, “Over the river and through the woods….” She hits the button repeatedly and smiles. I’m not sure what’s on tap. We’re due for dinner up north at 16:00. It’s ten now.
Cash accounting: cigs this morn: $11.25. Ouch! Seriously, can we stop blaming the smokers for society’s ills? As if smokers are the prime reason healthcare premiums are out-of-control expensive. The smokers are just an easy mark because they’re not politically protected (how can they afford to make the kind of campaign contribution that secures a vote?) Or they’re so content sitting back and smoking their cigs that they just don’t give a damn. It’s getting to be where I can buy a decent bottle of booze for less than I have to shell out for a pack of smokes. Let’s play a game. The price of _______ is rising faster than a pack of smokes. What fits? Not food, not gas, not booze, not taxes, not rent, not houses. Education? Lobbying? I’m to the point on these cig prices that if it’s all for one, one for all. Tax the hell out of: french fries, Mountain Dew, cable TV, Halloween candy, sports gambling, footlong sandwiches, the Red Zone channel, acetaminophen, lottery tickets, religious redemption, frozen dinners, Botox, cheese sauce, Xanax, porn, Netflix, so-called natural supplements, next-day online delivery, etc. Either tax it all or don’t tax any of it.
The smokers, the drinkers, the tanners: today’s lepers. I had about $5 in taxes on the quote-unquote $13.99 bottle of Beam I bought the first night here. I pick up that bottle with the $13.99 price tag attached to it and I’m thinking, “Nice price.” Then I paid with a $20 and got back just coins. I had to scrutinize my receipt before it made any sense. And the rental car. The base rate on a rental car is irrelevant. Forty percent of the bottom line cost was fees and taxes.
It’s gotten to where every city’s tourism slogan should really be: “Soak the people arriving in our beloved city! We’ve got them by the balls!”
If we hadn’t seen so many broken, disconsolate souls downtown on Tuesday I might be tempted to think that this approach actually worked. I ask: Where does it all go? I’m hardly a distributionist but this five-year, multi-trillion dollar, Federal Reserve-minted stimulus: Who is it really helping? Stocks are up, corporate coffers are fat with cheaply borrowed money, house prices in this crowded city are in the stratosphere, lots of trendy shoppers were out and about…and, yet, downtown was also littered with so many people that had so little—not even a plan. Dirty, ragged souls. I was standing there at the bus stop looking out at these wretched people and thinking: God, if someone ever unites this strata of society, there will be a day of reckoning that us comfy cozies cannot today imagine. The cost of maintaining status quo at all cost will be chaos!
I had one of my English pale 16 ozers—5% ABV, so relax. Or maybe not because Jim just sat down at the table. I am nervous about this Thanksgiving meal that’s about to get going. We are all going up north a bit to the house of Tom and Quaint, longtime family friends of B’s family. There will be a total of 15 people there. But using my anxiety as a reason for why I just poured two fingers of Beam is b.s. because if I weren’t going anywhere I’d probably have already drank that glass. I guess what I’m saying is that I probably shouldn’t be drinking and maybe I’m trying to kill the conversation in me right now—drinking and talking to myself.
I’ve gone on a much longer spiel about the Federal Reserve and the equity markets and my job just now that I haven’t recorded in these pages. I’ve given you just a taste. If I thought it were that interesting—or fully coherent—believe me, I’d share it. I’m just fearing that moment when someone asks me what I do. I think I’m going to go with, “I manage money.” Ugh. I really don’t like talking to people I don’t know. I dread it. B would probably tell me—or my Dad would—to just “be myself.” But here’s the problem with that: this is me writing right now. Writing, listening to my music on shuffle, with a Thanksgiving football game on low volume over my right shoulder—and me sipping Jim and looking out the window, thinking about what it is that I’ve got to say and how best I can say it.
We leave in about an hour. The sun has broken through for the first time today. Maybe it won’t be so bad. Here’s the thing though: Tom, one of the hosts: I met him in 2004 and we were sitting out on a porch in Tennessee, me and him and two other people. And he put to the group this question: What’s the secret to life? Crikey. If I get another one of those today I might not make it. You’re wondering what I answered? I said, “The secret to life is being content, i.e. not seeking happiness but being content with being content. I do think back to that conversation every so often—wondering if that was/is a good answer and whether I still believe what I said. I suppose I do. Happiness, to me, has always been something you can only experience ephemerally, in the present. It isn’t some destination, with a border you can cross and where once you get to the other side you can say, “OK, I’m happy now!” Good enough has to be good enough. Happy scares the shit out of me because you can’t get any better than happy. I distrust people who claim to be happy. First because I don’t believe them when they say it. And second because if someone is happy why would he or she change anything, compromise, make an extra effort. You can’t improve happy. Happiness is no different than perfection. A moment can be perfect but the next moment is no more likely to be perfect because the moment preceding it was perfect. At any moment something terrible can happen! A windstorm could blow a tree down onto your house, your car, or your head. It might be grim but it’s correct—the happy happers can go on in their drugged compaceny—I’m trying to acknowledge reality.
I’m only halfway through that Beam two-fingers I poured…an hour ago. B is back and has just gotten out of the shower. My stomach is growling.