TransPlantings

TransPlantings
Pierre-Antoine Poiteau: Plate 8, "Arancio di Genova", from l’Histoire Naturelle des Orangers (circa 1818)
"It's been a long time since yesterday's lunch."

Psychologist Paul Watzlawick told the story of the Stalin-era Ukrainian collective farm ordered by the Moscow central planning bureau to grow oranges. When the farmers complained that Ukraine's climate was not right for orange cultivation, the planning bureau criticized their counter-revolutionary attitude. Relenting, the farmers planted orange trees, which froze the first winter. The farmers were sent to Siberia for sabotaging The Five Year Plan. Context always matters yet plans can only be crafted out of the context within which they will be expected to execute. Planners largely presume away the differences because anticipating them either proves to be impossible in practice or implausible to overseers. We tend to create fictions, the best-laid of which initially prove most satisfying. Later, the weather will do what she always does and prove somebody foolish. Caution's rarely rewarded.

One just never knows until arriving precisely what climate they'll be encountering.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

ReadinessOrNot

readiness
Jean Francois Raffaelli: Le Chiffonier [The Rag Picker] (1879)
" … the very nature of Readiness: Or Not."

"Ready or not, here I come," has proven the most valuable phrase I learned playing childhood games. It seems to encapsulate a critically important understanding about engaging in this world, that when time comes, it does not presume readiness. Indeed, it scoffs at it with utter indifference. Through my life so far, if I'm honest in my assessment, I might insist that I've never once felt as though I was completely prepared for anything, and yet I've more or less thrived, often sitting on the edge of my seat or cowering near some corner, but I've thrived. When a teacher handed out test papers, he might as well have spoken that fateful phrase, "Ready or not …", because test time had come. Further preparation had just become beside the point. Whatever might have come before matters not at all. 'What next' matters then.

I carry a vestigial notion that I really should be ready, though.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

TimelightZone

TimelightZone
YVES KLEIN (1928–1962) IN COLLABORATION WITH HARRY SHUNK (1924–2006) & JÀNOS KENDER (1937–2009),
LE SAUT DANS LE VIDE [THE JUMP INTO THE VACUUM] (1960)
"Annonymous no more. SettlingInto."

Along Interstate 80W, just west of Ontario, Oregon, a roadside sign announces entry into a radically different space than any place east of there. I call it God's Own Time Zone, probably because I was born within its boundaries, which always amounted to pure fiction blended with both geographical science and politics, which tends to guarantee very strange bedfellows, indeed. The most conservative will wistfully recall that before The Gilded Age, these United States featured just one time zone, or, perhaps more accurately, an infinite number of them. When the sun reached its apex, noon appeared. This standard worked precisely the same everywhere on Earth, always had and presumably, always should. God's will. Ten miles further down the tracks, noon arrived a minute or so later. The emergence of land travel moving on average faster than a walking horse finally did in the old man's time, sparking a decades' long debate which was more like an international argument, culminating in the most outrageous encroachment upon human freedom and liberty in human history, the adoption of Greenwich as the prime meridian and calculating all local times relative to that baseline; mean time The French, of course objected but still adopted the standard, though declaring their prime meridian Paris Mean Time, retarded from Greenwich by 9 minutes and 21 seconds. God must love the French!

Part of Oregon protrudes into The so-called Mountain Time Zone.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

OneWayRoad

OneWayTrip
Hieronymus Bosch: The Healing of Madness (Circa 1494 or later)
"We were always traveling a OneWayRoad."

This drive felt really different. Prior trips, The Muse and I carefully planned both legs, there and back again, before we departed. Then, part of my brain never lost awareness that we would soon be leaving again, that our exile would be restored after that brief respite. This time, we left with no intention of ever returning. Even Wyoming seemed welcoming without the threat that we would soon be going backwards crossing it again. Even beleaguered old Denver looked less threatening without the certainty that it would soon have us in her clutches again. Even the barren Early Spring Prairie seemed forgivable, for we were out of there forever. In the future, we will be in and out of everywhere but where we're intending to be SettlingInto. Future excursions, rather than home then back into exile again, might be no less circular, but they should center on our center rather than upon some remote-seeming periphery.

There are only OneWayRoads.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

Untethering

Untethering
Sir Francis Bernard Dicksee: The Funeral of a Viking (1893)
" … that familiar haunting ignorance that comes from not even caring anymore what's lurking behind that door."

Untethering must be one of the earlier stages of SettlingInto anything new. The past must be rendered irrevocably past to make room for the next story's future. Certain rituals must be observed, prominent among them refrigeratoricide, where one must, with deliberate purpose, let go of everything that had been cluttering the family refrigerator since just after the last ice age. Every damned half pint of sweet gherkins must go. So must almost everything left, except, of course, The Muse's precious jar of Maraschinos. The disposal should rightly start smoking in response. The separation of garbage and recyclable must leave you wondering what tractor beam trance had insisted upon this curious inventory. Try to save the cheese if you can, but heartlessness demonstrates dedication to The Plan. Are you deeply invested in SettlingInto something new? First trash whatever's remaining within your blackhole refrigerator first.

Our fridge had evolved to that point where nothing ever put into there could ever be found again.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

CopingAgain

CopingAgain
Caspar David Friedrich: Frau am Fenster [Woman at a Window] (1822)
"The past weighs more that any future can counterbalance …"

I consider Coping to be the great under-appreciated superpower and the skill underlying most of my success, such as it was. Most of what has happened to me just happened. I didn't ask for very much and yet usually received more than I imagined receiving, both good and bad. Once whatever happened, I found myself basically powerless to undo it, since the experience resided in the past by then. I used to try and inevitably fail to fix my past and never once succeeded, though the attraction to try to undo my past continues. I figure that it's an innate urge, probably a standard stupid human trick, one which almost always aches for attention but which no-one ever masters. Not for lack of trying, though. Throughout history so far, much human folly as well as tragedy seems to have been the direct result of failing to fix the past, with Getting Even and Settling Scores ranking near the top of the list of perennial failures, to the point where they fully qualify for the long list of Things That Just Do Not Work, However Dedicated The Attempt.

Coping comes in both useful and useless forms, healthy as well as self-destructive kinds.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

Converging

Converging
Still Life with Peaches and Water Jar (left),
Still Life with a Silver Tray with Prunes, Dried figs, Dates and Glass of Wine (center),
and Still Life with Branch of Peaches,
Fourth Style wall painting from Herculaneum, Italy, c. 62-69 AD

"Nobody knows what might unfold …"

Times come when events commence to Converging. Common near the ending of any effort, multiple threads resolve as if by magic. A sudden flurry of activity sees synchronicity show her usually shy self and pure magic invades. Nobody complains, for we see these events as justifying our earlier efforts. What formerly might have seemed disjointed and arrhythmic finally finds its pace as well as its justification. Little things can spark this sense that the world has started coming together rather than continuing to fall apart. I notice things. Just after the moving van left stuffed full of all of our stuff perfectly squared off into a perfect cubic rectangle, I poured the last bit of my single malt and invited The Muse to join me in a toast. She very quickly concocted a Manhattan, squeezing the last drops out of her Basil Hayden. How could it have been that both bottles exhausted themselves at precisely that minute? We experienced a small Converging. Cheers!

We're heading home later this morning and I 'm up preparing myself for a day of Converging.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

DisappearingAct

DisappearingAct
Detail of a mosaic from the Maison de la Nouvelle Chasse, Bulla Regia, Tunisia
"Nothing ever actually disappears but just changes places …"

The Muse and I have been a long time going but then we intend to be an even longer time gone. Sleep has insisted upon chasing us around the Master Bedroom until we're exhausted each evening but hasn't been staying around long enough to encourage us to wake refreshed. We move like zombies but only because we feel more undead than alive. Only the promise of someday SettlingInto seems to keep us moving ever nearer the edge of leaving, though we have not yet toppled over any precipices. Perhaps today brings respite. Maybe tomorrow, instead.

Nothing ever actually ends in a flash or flourish.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

Imposition

Imposing
Artist unknown (Roman): Mosaic with mask of Silenus (1st century A.D.)
" … all thanks to the mysterious power of Imposition."

Just about this time yesterday morning, I confidently predicted that I would never again find myself writing from this desk while looking out into a familiar backyard cast in predawn darkness, yet here I am, feeling like a living testament to the folly of feeling certain about anything in the future. Still, I cannot quite conceive of fully embracing uncertainty as a useful manner of living. My life so far has certainly proved to reinforce the innate folly involved in executing according to plans, but it seems schizophrenic in this respect, too, for sometimes careful planning seemed to deeply influence manifesting expected outcomes. I might not have ever been able to predetermine which plan might succeed or fail, but I also never managed to become quite cynical enough to reject the possibility that some planning might prove beneficial. Unlike a few of my forebears, I cannot believe that my future was pre-determined by either a loving or a vengeful god. I ain't no Job or Midas! I also question the absolute authority of my, or anybody's, free will, which might just be a useful fiction, but useful nonetheless.

Yesterday's plan of action governing the great move-out, the grand precondition for later moving in, itself a precondition for finally, eventually, SettlingInto, fell apart with whimpers.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

Lasting

Lasting
Gypsy Girl Mosaic, Gaziantep, Turkey (circa 0)
" … a little richer for my Lasting."

For me, last impressions stay with me longer than first ones. My first impressions tend to get fogged by my native inattention, more distractions than information. There's just so much to see when first encountering something that I'm rarely certain upon what I should be focusing my attention. I'm the type who, when visiting The Grand Canyon, leaves with the deepest impression of some otherwise trivial something that somehow seemed special in that context, like the bathroom configuration. I remember exits, though, especially those informed by a lengthy stay. When leaving, I know what's special about a place and if it impressed me, I press my face up against the glass and attempt to peer into it, as if to capture some essence of it, just as if I could. As The Muse and my departure date approaches, I catch myself Lasting, performing that peering trick just as if it might allow me to take the best of this place with me once I leave. Yesterday, we took the last drive down Lookout Mountain Road, my go-to secret passage narrow two-lane switchback backdoor route down into Golden. It was often more convenient and doubtless the most scenic. Eighteen minutes down to the flats. I'll very likely never be back again. Goodbye, old friend. You left a Lasting impression, or maybe I was the one who captured it peering into your window.

Lastings seem the most fleeting experiences.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

Unsettling

Unsettling
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes: Witches Sabbath (1797-1798)
As losers have long been known to sing, "Look away, look away, look away, Dixieland."

Before SettlingInto can commence, it's considered traditional if not strictly essential for prospective settlers to first survive some sort of ordeal. The old, overdone trial by fire holds little popularity in a modern world seemingly ruled by microwaves, but some humiliating experience, some sort of Unsettling, seems necessary to set a proper context for eventually SettlingInto. Our Unsettling has been manifesting in most of the usual ways, which is to say we've been showing off what we tend to do when we don't really know what in the heck to do, on steroids. What usually tend to be no more than small surface imperfections seem amplified under Unsettling conditions. I swear, The Muse can lose anything she lays her mitts on, Sharpies and tape gun most prominently, though only very rarely permanently. To lose the last Sharpie in the universe while in the midst of a genuine packing frenzy might seem like high comedy to any distant observer, but personally experiencing it feels like the lowest form of tragedy known to man. Likewise, without the tape gun, everything, and I mean every DAMNED thing, just stops working. A certain fruitless frenzy replaces forward momentum. Forward momentum becomes the whole purpose for living whenever attempting to get through any Unsettling.

I might overstate my case in favor of not losing the tape gun, since tape guns only ever work at best sporadically.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

SettlingInto

SettlingInto
Thomas Cole: "A View of the Mountain Pass Called the Notch of the White Mountains" (1839)
"SettlingInto brings our souls and spirits into play."

Few human acts manage to feel as unsettling as settling. It seems inevitably disruptive. My own ancestors arrived on this continent in the 1620s, having bartered their seventeenth century lifestyle for something more closely resembling one common to the Dark Ages. A wattle hut, very likely hastily constructed from roughly-gathered forest scrub, probably sufficed for shelter through that first Connecticut winter or two. We now think of these people as valiant and brave, and they may have managed to become both, but they began their SettlingInto as essentially economic resources indentured to some land speculators rather than as simple, peace-loving Pilgrims. Religious liberties aside, they held deeper obligations to produce returns for rich shareholders or face ruin. They might have been seeking liberty, but only as a longer-term possibility. In the short term, they became essentially debt slaves as a precondition for their eventual freedom, so they first SettledInto fulfilling obligations, not enjoying newly-found freedoms. These duties sometimes conflicted with their high ideals, and relations with the locals only degraded over succeeding decades. Pilgrims were genuine sons of bitches when they felt that they needed to be to fulfill their financial obligations to gain their own freedoms. Little has changed over following centuries.

Taking alien country as if it was your own, even if you presumed it to belonged to God and, by divine right, was passed down to you as his agent, seems one of the more audacious forms of liberty.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

SettlingOut

SettlingOut
Paul Gauguin: Ia Orana Maria (Hail Mary) (1891)
"I doubt that I could have not accomplished it without your presence."

Had I been watching the calendar over the last week, I could have prepared for today being the last day of Winter, but I was not watching. Distraction seems a great and glorious gift capable of producing pure magic. In those rare moments when I lift my head up from my work, I might catch glimpses of myself, but I've been spending the bulk of my days somewhere else. Our life here now seems as though it was holding us in suspension, as if we became an emulsion from which a SettlingOut seemed both inevitable and unlikely. Ten thousand and more elements had found their place here and we over time grew accustomed to the flavor. It started distinctly bitter but later turned sweet, then sour, never really settling on any one dominant profile. Now it turns savory, as the pieces which survived the over-long aging process finally start SettlingOut.

At the end of a meal, one settles up. Once arriving, one starts settling in.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

HOAed

HOAed
The Bauhaus emblem, designed by Oskar Schlemmer (adopted 1921)
"I'd prefer to inhabit The People's Republic Of These United States …"

The place we're exiting was built as a sort of latter-day attempt at Utopian development. Its developers sought to combine several conflicting conditions. Paradoxically, they intended to maintain original land use by leaving large swaths permanently open so that the buildings would not displace the native elk herd from its historical habitat. The developers also intended to build houses people could actually afford, so they built graded sizes, from condos to what we now call McMansions. The county and state land use laws never intended to govern such enterprises, Colorado having historically leaned toward the presumed right for any landowner to do whatever they damned well pleased on their property. The company adopted certain covenants and insisted that all inhabitants agree to abide by these as a condition of buying in. Later, a management company took over responsibility for collecting fees, maintaining public spaces, and assessing fines. These private agreements supplement the public law in this neighborhood, presumably for the common good, but as generations of decent people had already proven, no law ever adequately compensated for any absence of decency.

I have been free, for instance, to paint this house any of a half-dozen approved colors.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

HollowingIn

HollowingIn
Edward Hopper: Night in the Park, etching (1921)
"… this dance should properly continue into an eminently unforeseeable future."

When The Muse and I first stepped into this house, it was as spare and bare as a newborn baby, a blank canvas of a place devoid of distinguishing character. After weeks and weeks of stepping into places, some also blank canvasses and others over-crowded with leftover stories and others' possessions, this house seemed a welcome respite. It held nothing but potential then, other than its native dimensions, and even those seemed alien since we'd never lived in a house this new, for it was fewer than twenty years old. Our home place was nearly a hundred and ten by then, and we carried that certain distain for more modern construction. My eye caught the shoddy work mass production produces, the many shortcuts and compromises anyone building for profit incorporates into their latter-day masterpieces, yet the angles and high ceilings intrigued me. We might just be able to tolerate the shortcomings, which seemed slight after so very many deeply disappointing and genuinely disturbing viewings of places that clearly held no future for us. I'd about given up, suggesting that we might eke out an end of this exile existence in that tin can trailer park near her job. With an acquiescent sigh, I confided to The Muse that I could imagine myself living here, and she began negotiating.

Unthinkable now, in the current market, The Muse bid the owner down to precisely the price she wanted, the highest one we could possibly afford then, and to even the realtor's surprise, her bid was accepted.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

GettingRealer

GettingRealer
"A City on a Rock, long attributed to Goya, is now thought to have been painted by 19th-century artist Eugenio Lucas Velázquez. Elements of the painting appear to have been copied from autographed works by Goya, and the painting is therefore classified as a pastiche." Wikipedia
"About half of this stuff could evaporate without either of us ever missing it."

Things start GettingRealer when I put them into boxes. I classify—however temporally, however temporarily—creating definite descriptions, however actually misleading. I'm creating a Periodic Table of our Possessions, curious box fellows only intended to last through a brief transition, though I know for certain some of these items will never again see the light of any day. Apples and oranges easily fit into boxes intended for neither, my purpose more focused upon clearing shelves than in preserving any implicate order. In so doing, I disrupt what was once a definite order which eroded into a mild chaos over time. An expedient extraction or a hasty addition, The Muse respecting her notion of preserving coherence while walking all over mine, a thousand small diversions resulting in the mess I'm packing. About half of it disgusts me, kept in the pantry more so nobody could see it then because it carried any particular meaning or value. It's ours, we own it, and we can't quite bear to part with it during this time when we seem to be losing so very much. We'll drag that curious implement we never use lest we lose it in the transition. I imagine that I'll more easily part with it once I'm on the other side of HeadingHomeward. Real change, GettingRealer, demands much delusion.

Previous moves, the ones where The Muse's work picked up the tab, professional packers loaded our boxes.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

Achilles'Finger

Donato_Creti,_The_Education_of_Achilles_by_Chiron
Donato Creti: The Education of Achilles by Chiron (1714)
"Older, yes, but still spitting."

I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not quite as young as I used to be, even though I never once have been younger than I used to be. Older than's a permanent condition. It connotes diminishing capability, though my present state finds me in much more able condition to engage in some activities than my younger self ever was. I remember a writer friend confiding some purported wisdom when we were both in our early twenties. He said that somebody insisted that no writer's worth a pint of warm spit until after they turn forty. We both silently set about to prove that proverb wrong and in the process, I guess, proved it to be correct. Nobody ever correctly anticipates how much better they might become and many, perhaps most, think themselves competent long before their mastery manifests. At my age, I really should have come to understand this principle, now that I'm well north of forty, but I probably haven't. I still engage as if I knew, when tomorrow will most likely disclose to me that I hadn't but that I might have mastered then. Mostly, a spiraling cycle of pseudo-certainly motivates me. I hope to never outgrow this capacity.

On Saturday, I engaged in an almost frenzied bout of dedicated packing. I went berserker on the chore.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

Nowish

Nowish
Wassily Kandinsky: Winter Landscape (1909)
"I swear I live unconscious …"

Packing, I feel least connected to the so-called here and now. Both here and now seem slippery, now that my focus has shifted toward HeadingHomeward. Now and here seem preternaturally tiny and unusually thin. Rooms fill with freshly filled boxes, leaving narrow aisles for navigation. The cats explore the ever-changing configuration, furry brows furrowing with apparent concern. The Muse still cannot quite believe that we'll be able to securely transport them for two driving days and an overnight, though we've begun researching feline face pheromones as a potential tranquilizer, anything to help ease the transition. The Muse and I seem to have mostly already arrived there, as if home was an app with a progress bar slowly moving left to right, revealing that we're about 80% loaded. Once we're there, we'll inhabit no more than moments, just like we always have here.

I'm the guy who was never certain what was happening around him.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

CultYourWars

CultYou're
Wassily Kandinsky: Entwurf 2 zu Komposition VI (1913)
"You matter more than any us or them ever could have mattered."

The days are gone when culture amounted to holding eccentric skills like demonstrating the one true and proper way to cantilever a little finger when holding a fine china cup of Darjeeling. The only canting done these days involves twisting the common language out of shape for the purpose of demonstrating how ignorant another obviously is, each word purposefully loaded, each phrase most likely cast into meaning its opposite and said with a knowing sneer. We seem incapable of assuming the best of each other and so opt for presuming the worst. Another's not just wrong, but evil. I'm not just right, but righteous. Without my presence, this whole operation would have long ago gone to Hell without the benefit of hand baskets. I consider myself Heaven's Handmaiden, as you consider yourself, too, except your Heaven seems more like Hell, as mine must also seem to you. You're more than welcome to yours! I might be the only one left standing who actually qualifies to consider myself upstanding, everyone else, mere wannabes degrading civil society. Not even civility seems to be what it used to be, now seemingly more interested in trying to prove some essentially unprovable something than in letting anything or anyone simply be. Even culture itself seems to have gone to Hell.

Now we engage in wars about it, and not civil wars, either, but the most unimaginably uncivil ones.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

Stalking

Stalking
Gerrit van Honthorst: The Matchmaker (1625)
"How utterly unsurprising these continuing surprises seem."

My future takes care of itself in ordinary times, but this time seems somehow extraordinary. It's not every day, for instance, that I contemplate HeadwardHomeward in any way that might seriously threaten any present status quo. I've daily dreamed about heading in that direction for longer than the past decade without buying any packing boxes, until now. Now, I seem to have set into motion some irreversible actions very likely to propel The Muse and I somewhere different, somewhere familiar, and the forces seem increasingly inexorable. I won't be napping through this one. From one perspective, I have been actively stalking this very future for years, but from another perspective it seems more likely that this future has been Stalking me and has finally found me. This feels haunting, extra-volitional, as if it were happening to me more than that I might have been making this happen. The time has apparently come.

To complicate our exit, a Spring blizzard has been stalking us all week.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

LastTripToKansas

LastTripToKansas
R. Farrington Elwell: Untitled [Prairie Fire] (1935)
" … the threat of revisiting the wrong side of the tracks will leave right along with us."

Every city features two sides of the railroad tracks bisecting it, one side considered the right side of the tracks and the other, the wrong one. Denver's no different in this respect. Like most prairie towns, even those that never outgrew their founding footprint, railroad tracks slice right through the middle of the place. Denver's unique, though, in that the main body of the city's located on the wrong side of those tracks, at least from my perspective. I refer to that side of the city as Kansas, and I've made it my business to avoid it. It features most of what passes for culture here, which says something, and also hosts the state capitol, Union Station, and Rockies Stadium, but we became exurban once we'd moved into The Foothills. Kansas might have been only a half hour away by car, but between traffic and general inertia, we'd only rarely visit. We'd feel like we were Just Visiting, price tags still dangling from our hat brims as we attempted to navigate its ill-maintained streets. In January every year, they run a herd of Longhorns down through the business district to mark the opening of The Western Stock Show, the city's biggest cultural event. Need I say more?

As disappointing as urban Denver seems, the sprawling suburbia to the East seems several degrees worse.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

Small_Distinctions

Small_Distinctions
Max Ernst: Ubu Imperator (1923)
"Only a SmallDistinction separated their two identities …"

Despite, or perhaps because of, general exhortations for me to see the Big Picture, I usually focus upon making SmallDistinctions. Shades of grey seem to dominate most disagreements, not stark differences, as if a squint divided great armies to insist upon great tragedies. The easily perceived differences don't amount to much. The subtler ones seem to encourage deeper disagreements. Sons of Abraham became mortal enemies while birds and bees peacefully co-existed. BIG changes only seem the most significant, and some observers convincingly argue that BIG changes rarely, if ever, actually stick. People might take to wearing different jerseys but rarely shift far from wherever they started. One never successfully outgrows their roots, their infinitesimals growing up seem infinitely more significant. Blossoms might even emerge from those same gnarly, unpromising roots.

HeadingHomeward reduces into a series of small moments, none of them seemingly large enough to sum to anything wondrous or huge.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

BoxingIn

BoxingIn
Max Ernst: The Elephant Celebes (1921)
"A point comes within every transformation …"

Two and a half weeks out, The Muse and I finally find a date certain for our departure, BoxingIn any possible escape. Procrastination no longer spins comforting yarns. With a suspected Monster snowstorm creeping in upon us, outside preparations should have already been completed and inside work might face a final bout of cabin fever before we can break camp and head into the sunset like they did in cowboy movies. My tendency to circle several times before boxing something can no longer sustain itself. I'm cornered and I can't deny what comes next. Where we formerly lived out of boxes, we're facing living within them, our lives suspended until after the move, and very likely for several weeks after we arrive.

Old Status Quos tend to hang onto themselves until just after the final responsible moment.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

FreeShit

FreeShit
Salvador Dalí: The Temptation of St. Anthony (1946)
" … the sales price prominently displayed: Free."

The first place The Muse and I rented when we started our exile, sat on a street with a 25 degree slope. Too steep for the moving van to park there, so the driver parked on a flat spot a couple of blocks away and ferried stuff down to the house in a smaller van. One crew of movers would leave furniture and boxes on the sidewalk and another crew carried them inside, but the van crew moved much faster than the ground crew could, which left a pile of temporarily excess inventory on the sidewalk. Anyone who's lived in any American city could have predicted what happened next. I stepped out of the garage to find a car stopped next to the cache of boxes and someone pouring through one of them looking for FreeShit. The FreeShit Market remains an under-recognized portion of our much-vaunted free market system. In any city, anything left curbside becomes a free good. In Manhattan, for instance, the cost of moving furniture easily exceeds the fair market value of that furniture, so it's common practice to simply move that old couch out to the curb where it will be quickly scavenged or eventually hauled away as genuine trash. Most get snagged before garbage day. Finding these treasures tends to make someone's day.

The Muse and I have benefitted greatly from the FreeShit Market over the years and have come to understand FreeShit as somehow sacred.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

LettingGo

LettingGo
Part of the Illustrated Sutra of Cause and Effect Handscroll (Emakimono) (E_NGA_KYO) (8th century)
" … LettingGo feels like giving up something."

LettingGo seems infinitely more difficult than acquiring, perhaps because the bulk of my training and experience has focused upon acquisition. I associate LettingGo with losing something rather than as an act of liberation. HeadingHomeward can seem, if I don't have my head screwed on straight enough, like dissension more than ascension, a falling into more than a rising up. I hail from The Never Can Say Goodbye Family, the one who, when stopping to visit, might linger longer than either party initially intended, stories lengthening into supper or bed time, seemingly unable to part, endlessly offering just one more story. Leaving subsequently seemed asymptotic more than specific, smearing along the leading edge, as if any leaving might somehow prove permanent, more terminal than temporary. My folks were kind of hoarders, holding on to keepsakes until they filled whole floors of their house. I was called to clean out the resulting mess after they'd spent their lifetimes failing to learn the gentle art of LettingGo. I learned everything and also nothing from them.

The New Agers insist that one must let go to let come, attempting to reframe the experience of losing into one of potential new acquisition, a making of space for different, perhaps even better.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

FeelingLikeHome

FeelingLikeHome
The Villa Vatta Schmaltz, October 2019, the tenth year of exile
" … where it's best to just let that mystery be."

George asked, "What does FeelingLikeHome feel like?" I thought he'd either asked a brilliant or a snarky question. Doesn't everyone know what FeelingLikeHome feels like? Others on that Friday PureSchmaltz Zoom Chat amplified the question's brilliance. They didn't know either. Curious responses followed, ones, as someone—I think it was Steven or Cynthia—noted that FeelingLikeHome might belong to the same class of feelings as does falling in love, which I interpreted as meaning universally indescribable. I had always assumed that pretty much everyone naturally held a deep nostalgia for some physical place, a definite home base around which their life revolved, either there or away, a binary place in a world of stunning diversity, but I was about to learn better, "better" being disconcerting in this specific case. George opined that he held no particular sentiment about where he'd grown up. Steven said that he felt attached to the people in his home, not the physical place at all. Our dialogue turned curiouser and curiouser.

I tried, enlisting my situationally velvet tongue, thinking that I, if anyone, might provide a crisp description of the FeelingLikeHome feeling.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

MultipleHomeTheory

Multip[leHomeTheory
Joaquín Torres García: "Constructivo en Gris y Negro con Centro Rojo"
"We exist beyond belief and confirmation …"

As a dedicated non-physicist, I feel great attraction to string theory, a perspective proposing that vibrating strings comprise the fundamental building blocks of this universe. As I understand it, which likely represents a material misunderstanding, under string theory, multiple simultaneous dimensions exist. I'm informed that the math supporting this perspective more or less works, though physical observation, long the gold standard of scientific investigation, cannot confirm it. I feel warmly attracted to this non-confirmation aspect of it because my experience seems to dwell simultaneously in multiple dimensions, and while my sensations fully support the existence of these swirling existences, physical confirmation remains beyond me. I can swear today without misrepresenting my experience that I continue to live in every home I ever inhabited, though I know that I physically left all but one of them behind me, or attempted to. This world would be even more of a mess if I could maintain multiple simultaneously active mailing addresses and the physical sciences would have to reject my MultipleHomeTheory or undermine its whole philosophy. In string theory, the math works. In mine, only personal sensations confirm it.

As we pack to leave this place, I face an impossible choice.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

Snakes&Ladders

Snakes&Ladders
Bernardo Strozzi: St. Lawrence Distributing the Treasures of the Church (circa 1625)
" … maybe—just maybe—The Muse was counting cards again."

Board Games bore me. Trivial Pursuit seems aptly-enough named and begs a big "Why?" from my corner of the room. Sorry, likewise, seems properly, even preemptively labeled. Card games might show off some player's memory and observational talents, skills that seem to hold little relevance for me in my world. Though Fundamentalists might strongly disagree, I firmly believe that this universe operates quite skillfully by employing simple randomness, though I freely admit that this belief fails to produce the most compelling explanatory stories. Being human, most of us can concoct some fable revealing an underlying strategy or a subtle conspiracy holding everything together. Anything's better than the same old tale of random molecules disinterestingly bumping into each other, though the more exquisite stories insist that some God or other attends to even this tiniest level of detail. Bored Games, like religions, seem like attempts to fool ourselves for our own amusement.

Even the ancients found reason to amuse themselves by drawing clever conclusions based upon the results of rolling dice, a stunning paradox many might have missed.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

ShortTiming

ShortTiming
Joaqu’n Torres-Garc’a: Artists’ Ball: Pierrot and Figures Standing (1921)
" … grace seems so very far beyond knowing."

By our calculations, we're within a month of departing, that point where we actually begin HeadingHomeward rather than simply preparing for the passage. The actual Heading part of the endeavor will have shrunk into pinpoint significance by the time I finish this series, so much anticipating and so very little heading. We've slipped into the ShortTiming part of the program now. Long lead times, once the prominent feature, have shriveled into remarkably narrow ones. Everything seems to need to be done tomorrow, though something tends to delay everything in turn. I could be packing, but packing produces boxes which need storing. The clutter has metastasized into unseen annoyance which leaves me feeling itchy. The staging specialist, scheduled to show up at noon today, will doubtless further complicate the effort, probably insisting that even more schlepping seems indicated before we show the place to prospective buyers. The outside painters finished their work in under two days, a blinding speed when compared with my velocity. I'm moving at the approximate speed of a stunned horse.

ShortTiming sparks some superpowers, though. In sight of an end, many mysteries have resolved themselves.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

Sleighted

Sleighted
Odilon Redon: The spider, she smiles, her eyes look up (1881)
"Poison can displace purpose in any life."

I'm a sucker for spiders. Were I a fly, I'd have long ago been wrapped in web, sucked dry, and displayed like a trophy. I'm fortunately no fly, but I still seem to try to get along with the spiders in my life. Most, I just leave behind. Considering them trolls, I unfriend them and abandon any further attempt to tame or relate with them. Others, I cannot so blithely dispense with. They're dear friends of dear friends or, shudder, ex-spouses. These manage to corner me unaware, though I could argue that I should never let down my watchfulness when they're near. They must be out to get me because they always seem to catch me. I might enter an encounter hoping for better, but they dispense their worst, which they seemed to have been saving up just to bushwhack me with again. I've tried hardening my heart, holding deep suspicions as if they were reasoned conclusions, but I never seem able to maintain that stance. I let down my guard and they commence to have at me again, leaving me stunned and confused. Lucys snooker Charlie Browns again and again and again. I might be a Charlie Brown.

I come to learn that I committed a sin so grievous that it could never be forgiven.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments

Purging

Purge
Franz Marc: Yellow Cow (1911)
"I rid myself of my more troublesome priests …"

About a quarter of my worldly possessions probably qualify as junk. Precisely which items make up that quarter remains in shifting contention. HeadingHomeward brings a forced choice reckoning where I get to reconsider every blessed thing I own. I maintain my corners, shady spots I rarely peek into, places where I store my more embarrassing possessions. Many amount to regrettable purchases which I can explain to myself but to nobody else. I keep those well hidden, even from myself, because I cannot really justify their presence to anybody else, much less to myself. I'm embarrassed to own them but curiously have never gotten around to Purging them. I avert my eyes when in their presence, figuring that I might deserve to own them. They come to own me instead. HeadingHomeward calls a most curious sort of court into session. I get to fill the role of hanging judge.

I finally find the courage to engage in Purging.

Slip over here for more ...
Comments
 

I'm not swiping your personal info because I'm just not that interested in your data. PureSchmaltz