Monday, January 24, 2011

something to think about

Yeah, that’s me. The guy in the long gray pimp coat hanging onto a pole in the U1 to Reumannplatz. The one with Southern rock –Georgia’s finest—blasting out of his pink iPod and spilling out all over a subway car full of down-gazing gray Viennese, Muslim moms with shopping bags that say Strawberry Shortcake, and maybe even some folks from the other Georgia. That’s me in the middle of that.

The other day I was pondering how much bad luck some people have, and also marveling at my inability to cherish my own good fortune. But this morning I did it. The cat woke us up with kisses @ 5:45, then the alarm clock woke us up again @ 6:20, with the floatey, dreamy music of Manuel Göttsching's e2-e4.

The kids tumbled out of the bunk bed on their own and in a sunny mood. I sprinkled extra granulated maple syrup on my hot cereal, and it tasted ‘Grrrrr-eeaat!’ The kids got dressed for school, even helping each other out—no screaming or biting at all! Anette threw a few extra things in her suitcase and said good-bye—easy, simple, no fuss. She’s off to teach in Belgium again this week. Then at kindergarten, V. said, ‘Geh weg!’ (meaning ‘You don’t have to help me take off my boots, Papa. Take off, you hoser. Go to work. I’ll be fine.’)

And I just thought, ‘What a nice family I have.’

Walking to the subway, I pulled out the headphones and stuck the Allman Brothers in my ears. I’ve never been a fan, but suddenly, as I listened to Gregg Allman’s words, I understood something. Though I scribble furiously and mope meaningfully, these guys really said it better a long time ago. Life’s too short. So I ain’t wasting time no more.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

...and now a word from the management of this theater

Something is definitely wrong with me. Last night, I watched The Horror of Party Beach, a 1964 black and white, zero-budget boogie-man and babes "film," and I found myself thinking, "This is a cinema-verite, lowdown, quasi-avante-garde classic!!"

But maybe that was the cold medicine talking....

Friday, January 14, 2011

black days

Whoa. Stop. I can’t take any more bad news.

Trouble has come to friends and family in the US, other countries, and here in our building, right up to our doorstep. I hear such sorrowful stories. The shootings in Arizona (and Sarah Palin’s hideous response) are terrible enough. But people I love are struggling with divorce, depression, sudden and not-so-sudden unemployment, medical traumas, and suicide.


Paranoids imagine that the world is conspiring against them. I put a Vegas twist on that: I worry that with such black times descended upon my friends, odds are that I’m next.

Then I swing to an equally instinctive, and selfish, gesture. I realize that some people have Real problems and life can be very, very hard. I think, ‘I should be thankful everyone in my house is okay, is healthy, and, if not always happy, then relatively able to make themselves happier.’

I think, ‘What have I done to deserve my stay of execution?’ I feel guilty. And I decide, ‘I’ll never complain about anything, ever, again until the end of Time.’

Then, an hour later, I find a fly in my soup. ‘Waiter!!’

What is that? Is that a human thing—are we genetically incapable of thanking our lucky stars? Is it a question of brain mass? I’ve always thought that most of us have trouble reconciling different or conflicting ideas. Maybe, as a species, we don’t have enough gray matter to stay grateful for more than five minutes. Because we so quickly start thinking again about all the stuff we don’t have, all the experiences we’ve missed, all the money Bill Gates has, and all the fun those young folks are having on all those reality tv shows. It could be that human beings have always been this way, or it’s possible that those ten percent of us who are blessed enough to have fast Internet connections and no net censorship, and live in middle class houses in Western Europe and the US, are mostly just big fat spoiled 21st century babies.

Ahem. Yeah, that’s possible.

Well, okay, maybe I’ll have to overcome vast societal, economic and technological forces, but Today I’m gonna try to live right and be thankful and have a satisfied mind. I can do this. I will do this.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

48 Hours with my Best Girl

1) That long walk through the vineyards and over to the next town.

2) The long walk back to our hotel alongside the reed marshes.

3) Making out like thirteen year olds.

4) Reading, reading, then reading some more.

5) The steam bath.

6) Listening to AOR love song radio last night, while she sat in bed reading Paul Auster, and I sorted a small bundle of stamps from Denmark.

7) Long conversations about her life and mine.

8) No conversations with or about our kids.

9) Trading smiles.

10) Sleeping till 8:30 am this morning.