The Meaning of Life

What gives your life meaning?  How have you been handling the inherent meaninglessness of existence? Do you valorize creation of art or artifacts, the raising of your children, or the existential struggle itself?

Roses Bloom in the Park

By the time I reached the park, the baby was basically asleep. Her head had fallen into my chest, and although her fingers still clutched the straps of the carrier, her arm was growing increasingly heavy against my ribs.

The leaves rustled in the gusty breeze. Roses blazed color to my left. A young woman in a bikini, laying alone on a blanket. She raised her head as I turned along the path. Is she pretty, I wondered? She laid her head back down and I looked again but I could not tell.

Each rose bush was separated by a perfect, square bed and had a label indicating its variety. Each type of bush showed flowers of a different shape and color. Each type held a unique aroma, I felt sure. I stopped to sniff a few. It is so important to do so, they say. But after three roses it didn’t feel important anymore.

I tried to stay in the shade, making my way around the playground which marked the center of the park. Next to the playground, workers were scraping the accumulation from the bottoms of the dry fountains. They had dug up the peonies and the beds lay brown, loose and dry. I guess the peonies were done now and something new would be planted.

I made a circuit around the second field, returning back to the roses. There I noticed a woman in green work-trousers working amongst the beds. She was bending away from me and as I rounded amongst the square beds again I sneaked a look at her face. She was young. I found that curious for some reason; I expected someone older.  As I passed her the perfume of a thousand roses gave way to something awful. A smell like gangrene. Something was rotting here amongst the blossoms.  I couldn’t help thinking that the smell was coming from the gardener. I caught the thought and pushed it away. Probably some kind of fertilizer, I told myself.  I could see the package in my mind. A special rose fertilizer made from blood.  The smell was absolutely repulsive, completely at odds with the beauty of the blooms. I was surprised that it didn’t wake the baby.

I neared the sunbather again but she didn’t look up. I turned back and walked through the roses and past the gardener again. This time there was only that sweet perfume that almost seems like a simulation of the smell of a real rose, but which no replica could touch.  I found a bench and sat.  The baby was fully asleep now and I dug out my book and sketch pad. I laid them next to me on the bench.

An old woman approached, impeccably dressed in a beige and white, fine, wool tartan skirt and cotton blouse, handsome matching shoulder throw, a string of small pearls. She stopped a few paces to my left and while her eyes fixed on the sleeping baby she spoke and gesticulated. I was used to this. Here all old ladies make a fuss over a baby.  Usually they produced some words in a few short bursts, like a prepared speech and then they moved on.  When I had told them that I only spoke English it hadn’t seemed to alter the script they all seemed to follow. Their speech didn’t expect response; it didn’t require it. So, this time I just smiled and let her get on with it.

She chirped and smooched as normal. scrunched her face and pinched the air between us. But it was immediately obvious that she was different than the host of old ladies before her. Her eyes glittered and she stomped her feet as she spoke. Her voice warbled, like a strange bird performing a dance to attract the love of a surveillance drone. Her gesticulations became more animated and her speech quickened.  Her vocal tones showed dramatic range, soaring and diving as her hands swayed and her feet stamped raising dust.  This was not the usual fawning. This didn’t seem part of the script. I gathered that she was telling a story, it was about her children or grandchildren. There was some drama, maybe an accident or a scare, a medical emergency or grave condition. Undoubtedly in the end everything would turn out ok because her eyes remained clear and she continued to kiss and pinch the space between her and the baby in joy. As we got further along and the story continued, I began to regret not telling her that I didn’t understand her. I wanted to tell her before this went any further, but I couldn’t find an entrance in her monologue.  I followed her arms and the acrobatics of her voice, rapt. I shook my head, smiled and nodded in true response to her story as she went on and on. In the back of my mind I wondered how this would end.  Would she ever know that her words were wasted on me?  Would she expect a response, or would she deliver the story to it’s concluding and walk away?

Eventually she stopped speaking and looked at me.  The silence hung heavy for moment.  I put on my most sincere, weighted smile “I’m sorry, I only speak English”.  A chuckle emerged involuntarily from my mouth.

She was aghast with embarrassment. This time I understood exactly what she said without needing to know the words. ‘You say that now? I’ve been standing here babbling for 20 minutes, and you only tell me now!?’  But she smiled and I assured her as best I could that her story was truly magnificent. With my hand on my heart, I tried to impress upon her her that she didn’t need words to express herself. She truly had a gift.  I believe she took my meaning, or at least she was unfazed by the chasm that had showed itself between us.  With a few more cheerful chirps and waves of the hand, she walked past me, along the path.

I sat smiling, reflecting on what had passed. I replayed it so vividly in my mind that I didn’t notice the sunbathing girl until she was crossing the path right in front of me.  She had put on shorts and t-shirt but I still recognized her. She wasn’t particularly attractive, I thought; plain, short and skinny.  Really not much of anything.  As she passed the rotting smell came back.  Fertilizer, I told myself, something to bring out the roses’ color. This time the smell did wake up the baby.

The Beast Between

The strength and focus of my love for her was greater than almost anything in this horrid, unbearable world. Love, like a torrent, churned and tossed within my gut. There existed only one thing which was greater than this love: the pain I felt where my arm once was.

Blood oozed from the tourniquetted stump in pulses. Although the arm was gone it still felt. It burned and throbbed.  Tears blurred and stung my eyes. My hand trembled where it held onto the sword.

The beast rose before me again. Beyond it lay my love. I had three things. My love, the pain and the beast between. Silently, so as not to use any additional strength, I charged.

Hosszú Kávé

The enjoyments derived from coffee are many fold.  Not least of these folds are the bitter-sweet flavor, the heat in the mouth and throat, and the rush of caffeine as you stand to walk away. It’s a balance of these pleasures that drives the connoisseur. We are always tinkering with our formula to derive the greatest pleasure from our coffee experience.

For me, the caffeine rush can be overwhelming and lead to nasty side effects. So, my coffee drinking is limited by necessity, although I do like to push the limits…! Coffee also serves as a meditation of sorts. I like to sit and sip it and do nothing else but focus on the taste, the heat and act or drinking itself. It is because of my desire to prolong the drink, to wring every drop of pleasure from it, that I will rarely order and espresso. While espresso flavor is sublime, unrivaled by any other brewing technique, it is also a short drink.  When I drink an espresso, I inevitably feel unsatisfied and order another.  A few espressos later and I am experienced the aforementioned side effects.

This conundrum, the balance between enjoyment and side effects, pleasure and pain,  has led to me the Hosszú Kávé – the long coffee.  In France, this is simply called ‘café’.  At it’s essence, the Hosszú Kávé is a very long espresso. The length of the draught does diminish the fine, elegance of an espresso’s taste, but the Hosszú Kávé offers an comparable palette. The caffeine content is slightly boosted, but only slightly; much less than two espressos(!),  The notes are still rich – if somewhat more bitter – and the strength of the brew is correct; it retains that chocolate depth. The outstanding quality of the Hosszú Kávé – the characteristic which sets it apart and asks to be exhaulted – is it’s duration.

The Hosszú Kávé lingers. It can be sipped without rushing. It is long enough to be savored and short enough to stay hot. It is complex enough to be pondered and the pondering may continue. Hosszú Kávé exerts an Americano-esque duration while retaining the Italian-esque flavor and strength. You can have your coffee and drink it too.

Its all about the aesthetic

Morality is an aesthetic. What seems moral today will not tomorrow.  As new concepts emerge the landscape shifts and what was beautiful and noble yesterday is stale or putrid today. In this way aesthetics is progressive.  It reaches for the new and fresh, the different and edgy. Morality likewise.

Every morality begins with a contradiction to status quo. And ultimately, if any morality is to survive it must be sublime.

Running List of the Greatest Scams of All Time

Box Springs

Put this mattress under your mattress so it’ll last longer so you dont need to buy another mattress.

Insurance

You know…just in case something should happen to you.

Garbage Bags

Buy these so you can more easily throw out all the other shit you bought.

Toilet Paper

Buy this, then wipe your ass with it and flush it down the toilet.

Shaving Cream

Its not soap…really its not.

Banks

Give me your money so no one steals it.

The Cloud

Give me that. I’ll hold it for you.

Social Media Platforms

You can just tell me and I’ll tell them. It’s cool.

 

Send me your great ideas for the running list of the greatest scams of all time and I’ll publish them here under my own name…

revbone01

Leaving Going Nowhere

The pictures will need to be wrapped in plastic and blankets.  The speakers too, except the bottom of the pedestal. That way the speakers can be set upright. They can also be lain sideways, but be sure not to lay anything on top of the cones…

So he lay on the couch in the living room under a patchwork quilt, outlining how he would pack all his things and load them into a truck. Outside freezing rain pelted the glass with every gust of wind. The rumble of garbage trucks scraping snow plows through the dark streets resonated through the floor boards.

He had no plans to move, or even travel anywhere any time soon. Ironically, he’d never felt more present. He was up at 3am precisely because he was having a rare moment of clarity.  It was as though a disorienting lens which normally confused his eyes had been lifted. Everything seemed to stand still for the first time. He looked at the wall and there it was.  Things simply were what they were.

Yet there was a voice as well.

Furniture will need to be bubble wrapped. Probably no way to efficiently stack bubble wrapped chairs. The table will be a bitch.  Have to lay the blankets on the floor first. Even lay some twine or straps underneath to tie the blankets; because once the table top comes off it’s too heavy to lift again…

That voice was small and unobtrusive, but seemed necessary to the clarity that the rest of him experienced. It was as though the voice with the packing narrative was speaking softly in a small room, while the peaceful now-ness was resounding deep and hollow in the larger room next door.

The large room quickly played through how he had arrived here, in this place at this time. He remembered that the present moment was inevitable. He relaxed into the thought that there was no way to re-do what had been done, nothing new that needed doing. He remembered times he had argued that articulation was the only thing of value. He felt free of that now. Nothing had value. Inaction was completely respectable.

He looked at the wall and the book case.

Liquor store boxes are the best for books. Need to keep the book boxes small because they get heavy.  While packing best the have a Sharpie and label things. That way if you do get movers they’ll know where to put stuff…or at least keep all the books together. How do you pack dishes?

The Well

I sit, at midnight, with a bottle of wine. My wife, my newborn daughter and my dog are all asleep in the bedroom. The fish, behind my head in his tank, is not asleep. He swims gracefully, unrushed, seeming to explore anew his three-gallon world. The family downstairs are not asleep. I hear their new baby screaming and footsteps pound from one end of the apartment to another.

I sit here and I write because I feel that something has changed. I have a daughter now. and though it may seem less significant it is certainly worth mentioning that my wife is no longer pregnant. Through becoming less pregnant she has been injured, physically. These things have happened. And I will now take another swig from the bottle of wine.

Boy, it’s a trip how all those things people always say about having a kid are true. That’s not the trippy part. The trippy part is that the things they say are true in ways that you never imagined. You don’t understand until it happens to you. And when the understanding hits it hurts a little.

You get to understand two sides to the thing. The first time the kid screams til its voice goes hoarse and then keeps screaming you understand why people lose it and shake the baby. You start thinking it’s doing it on purpose just to push you. Then – hopefully – you apply a little critical thought. That’s when you start thinking that this kid is scared and suffering. You see just how helpless it is. Some would say this is a ploy. This is what the baby wants you to think. Those people may be right, but just because it’s a ploy doesn’t mean it’s not true.

That’s when you start to see yourself differently. You see that the kid is a nomad, wandering through the desert. She’s lost and scared and blind from the glare and the dust. She doesn’t have a friend and there’s no place she comes from. You are the well. With a good well a whole civilization can be established. A good well is clear and unpolluted. A good well gives succor even in the driest season. Some pulls may have a taste of bitterness, or a sulfuric funk; but this is called “minerality”. This is the character, the special magic of this well which is like no other.

Oh, the wine is almost gone. Soon, this spirit in me will be out. Then I can go back to bed. The family downstairs seem to have gone quiet. Peace has been found where it lay in some corner. Even the fish is still now. He hangs suspended near the bottom, his head pointed up at around 45 degrees, faintly drifting. Goodnight sweet fish.

The Birth Story of the White Wolf

As written in an email to our birth-classmates:

Hi birth class friends,

We are happy to announce the arrival of our baby girl, The White Wolf.

A**** says she was thinking about all of you and your labor stories when her water broke around midnight on Wednesday the 13th. When it happened, we were surprised and excited. We had been sleeping, and since A**** wasn’t experiencing any contractions we thought we’d just go back to bed. Upon inspection of the sheets, we noticed that the fluid was slightly green.  We googled and that made us nervous (of course) and we called the midwife.  She was concerned that the greenish tint could be meconium caused by fetal distress.  She came over and did a stress test but felt good about it. We made a plan to coax labor along with castor oil if it didn’t happen on its own by the next night. We returned to bed around 3am.

Almost immediately after the midwife left, A**** started having “uterine activity” but not full-on contractions. We spent a lovely day on Thursday, toodling about the house and feeling excited. Around 5pm we decided to go for a walk and shop for materials to bake a cake. On the walk A**** started having real contractions. They were quite intense and we came home as quickly as we could. Around 6pm the contractions became regular, at around 8 minutes apart. By midnight, A****’s pain had become so intense that she vomited and we asked the doula to come over. A**** says that she was unprepared for the amount of pain she experienced during labor. She was expecting there would be breaks in between the contractions wherein we would be cooking or hanging out. But her discomfort between contractions – while lessened – was so intense that all she wanted was to lie in bed, in darkness and quiet.

When the doula arrived she checked the baby’s heart rate and found it a bit fast.  She called over the midwife and we focussed on getting A**** hydrated which succeeded in returning the heart rate to normal. The contractions got closer and more intense.

Because her water broke early we were running a risk of infection and couldn’t use the tub until the pushing stage. Though A**** had expected to want to be massaged or touched to relieve the pain, she found that during the contraction stage she mostly just wanted to be left alone. She felt that shutting everyone else out was how she could best deal with what was happening to her.  She also felt intensely lonely. In the throws of a contraction A**** wondered aloud why we had chosen a home birth.  Were we crazy?  She also assured me that this would be our only child!

A**** found it most comfortable to lie on her side in bed.  I lay behind her and would rub her back during her contractions (with her permission) while the doula coached us from her make-shift bed on the love seat nearby. A**** would regularly go to the bathroom to pee but despite her efforts nothing would come. I think this was the longest night either of us had ever experienced.  A****’s pain and discomfort made her intensely uncomfortable. Vocalization alone made each contraction bearable until the next. This went on for 12 hours.

At around 4:30 am the midwife and doula began urging A**** to go outside and take a walk to help things progress. That felt like the furthest thing from what she wanted, and the idea of descending four flights of stairs and past neighbors’ doors felt near impossible. Nevertheless she got her pants on and prepared to force herself out. As the midwife and doula consulted one another in hushed voices in the living room, A**** came back to the bedroom and had the most intense contraction up to that point. Her vocalization changed and she felt like pushing. The midwife and doula heard the noises she was making and came into the room.

Up until this point we hadn’t measured the cervix dilation for fear of infection because the water had broken so early.  The midwife was pretty sure that we hadn’t reached active labor yet, but she wanted to confirm that.  Upon examination she found A**** to be dilated to 9cm. She kept her fingers inside and during the next contraction and pushed the cervix open the last centimeter.  Now it was really on!

The midwife and doula rushed to inflate and fill the tub.  A**** was no longer comfortable laying down and we all went into the kitchen. A**** stood with her hands on the counter-tops. I asked if this was an appropriate time to take the dog for a walk to get it out of the way before things got to be more serious.  The midwife assured me that it would be fine so long as I wasn’t gone more than 20 minutes, but A**** shouted “Not more than 5!” and I came back as fast as I could.

While I was gone, A**** vomited Gatoraid all over the kitchen floor. I returned to find the proceedings in full swing. The tub was not yet filled, but it was clear that it would be too long to wait. At the midwife’s suggestion, I got on the floor under where A**** was standing and shone a flashlight up.  There, during the next contraction I saw a full head of hair! A**** was pushing and the baby crowned before we knew it. At this stage the midwife told A**** to go slow to prevent tearing.  A**** got up on her tip-toes and felt like she was swallowing the baby back inside. She was extremely motivated not to tear and managed to hold the urge to push back for a few contractions. The baby’s head emerged without a tear and on the next push the baby’s body tumbled out.

A**** sat back into a kitchen chair, holding and greeting her new baby, completely overwhlemed. A**** says that she didn’t feel the rush of love adrenaline that The Business of Being Born had promised. Rather, she was rattled and shaking and wanted nothing more than to lay down with her babe.

Things got a lot better pretty quickly.  Within a few minutes A**** was feeling back to herself, albeit a bit worse for the wear.

All told, it was 31 hours from water breaking to birth.  The official labor lasted about 13 hours and active labor only 40 minutes, which the midwife assures us is very fast for a first time mom. The White Wolf was born at 7:21 on Friday, November 15th as A**** stood in the kitchen.

Though it felt impossible at the time, A**** feels strong and alive for having accomplished what she did. I for one am amazed and in awe of A****. I have never seen anyone go through something that intense and I never thought it would be as hard as it was. I am so proud of A****. We know that in the hospital, she never would have been allowed to labor naturally with her water broken as long as it was. Being at home was ideal for us all. Not only were we able to control the environment, but hanging out with our White Wolf in our own bed all day yesterday was magical. The three of us are all so in love!

Sending you all love, and excited to see you soon.

The Paint I Will Apply to the Bureau Tomorrow As Viewed from the Sofa at 2am

Will it peel when it dries, flaking off like a processed potato product?

Will I begin sanding diligently and then become bored, degenerating  to a few lazy wipes by the end?

Should I ask a friend to help me move the bureau to the other room? Will I then ask the same friend to return and help me move it back?

Will I damage the drawers trying to carry them up the ladder with one hand?

Will I go too fast and make mistakes?