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№ 75 Posts

Labored days

I have been fortunate during the pandemic. I have a stable job, and can work from home when necessary. This means I’m never really off the clock, but due to the nature of my job and narcissistic personality this has generally been true for some time anyway.

I’ve also been lucky to have time to catch up on other things. Hard to tell from the photos I post here but my time isn’t always wasted. It’s not always well spent, but it is spent to completion. We worked on our property all spring and summer; cleared out 60+ Bitter Cherries and Alders, re-ran the fences, re-hung the gates, and re-graded a long steep hillside to make it more useful for the horses. I painted the garage and barn, and actually finished the trim and siding on the barn that had been sitting in its OSB cladding for a dozen years as I stubbornly waited for the price of T1-11 to go down. It’s been a lot of work, about 30 pounds worth according the the bathroom scale. Good to know that I can still work 12+ hour days at my age.

Still, something has been nagging at me for awhile, and after this flurry of activity settled down it was there again. Unsure of its actual shape I just bought a guitar. Music used to fill my every waking moment but I haven’t had much time for it lately. Usually great music is a physical place where I can most quickly and easily reset,  Franz Schubert or Fats Waller can pack boundless motivation into an ordinary morning. But with all the impacted crap of 2020 an actual scheme seemed warranted.

It’s been strange though, picking up a hobby at my age, even if it’s technically a hobby I started in childhood. I’ve been improving with one hand but not the other and it’s my dominant hand that’s struggling.  I can Travis-pick pretty well with my right hand only after a few months, but my left hand only seems to remember the chords that I learned from a few lessons 40 years ago. It’s almost like each hemisphere of my brain has a dominant tense.  I get an inexplicable optimism and energy from this guitar, although who knows whether it’s because I’m running towards a new hobby or away from old one  (and maybe by extension towards the past and away from present). Maybe it’s pointless to pry at this point, but whatever. I can’t wait to play the thing, even if it sounds like I’m flailing at it with cold cuts and wet bandages.

Nice break from photography. I haven’t even been tempted to take photos of the property improvements, or even of the new guitar save the photo above. But brute documentation has never been an irresistible force in any of my hobbies. And anyway after the property improvements the homestead just looks too respectable, too fundamentally plain really. I miss the seedy ineffability this place had. And maybe by extension my own seedy ineffable qualities. Now these tableaux of rural ennui are just too on the nose, too labored, too filed away. But maybe I only enjoy taking photos at home up to the point I have no choice.

Low-yield recipes

News is a lot like the bathroom scale in this house. I eagerly check both but I’m not doing anything with the information. Both express inexorability equally well, and neither nudges me towards action. Both make me feel increasing shitty about myself. I used to have dreams of civic engagement, weightloss. Lately the only thing on my bucket list is outlasting Trump. Maybe if I stay  marginally healthier than him I’ll pull it off. Such a middling bar.

I’m a libtard but was all for giving Trump a chance. Since neither of us have any redeeming qualities that ended abruptly. Maybe we do share one- we like Citizen Kane. The rest is objectionable,  doughy. Mindless reaction and reflex. Unprincipled and undisciplined vanity. Serial brinkmanship, chronic turpitude. Yet on we go, so energetic in all the wrong ways. Dumb inanimate inevitability. Like gas station chicken detonating in your gut 300 miles later; or maybe the used condom that brings a water treatment facility to its knees.

What could be my redeeming qualities? I seem to like people a little more than Trump does, but it is close. Since I’m no longer predisposed to action I am infinitely less worthy of a good country. Even so, perhaps I want a good country a little more, whatever good means. I can’t help but think of all the stuff that went into me, the making of my middle-aged white dudeness. Instruction, intention, indulgence, opportunity, patience, food, fortune, furniture, and more than a little benediction. And yet here I am, still measuring myself against nothing.