It’s been too long and too much has happened. I mean this since my last post, and also in general. Suffice to say shit’s been weird. Many good things have happened, a few pretty tragic things have happened. I want to talk about some things of both but I’m reluctant to prioritize, to narrativize. I don’t really yet have much a way to make sense of it save chronologically, but that sort of feels beside the point: in COVID times there is no time. But my friend Chelsey reminded me I had a blog yesterday, and Friday afternoons can be slow at the office.
So, below the marker are some things that have happened. They’re ordered randomly on each page load; this feels more right.
Some books I’ve finished recently (in reverse order): The Second Sex, 10:04, Things: A Story of the Sixtie_s, _The Secret Adversary, The First Tour de France, Under the Volcano, Água Viva.
Some books I’m now picking at and/or that are on my desk: The Collected Stories of Lyrida Davis, Ava (Carole Maso), Brecht on Theater, Synthesizing Gravity, Computer Science Programming Basis in Ruby, Jealousy.
The last weeks of my non-vaccination were surprisingly hard for me. I was angry and bitter and frustrated and feeling like I’d been patient for a real long time but was being asked to be patient a long while more. Luckily supply ramped up faster than expected and also eligibility changed such that I was eligible. It’s not over but it’s at least better, and I can hug my friends again.
Our neighbors (one of whom is Alia’s cousin) got a new kitten and she’s tiny and ginger and adorable and her name is Pru. I do not have a picture but I can assure you she is profoundly adorable.
The company I work for decided to shut down its office in Boston for the time being. This was disappointing news. For a lot of the folks on my team especially it was extra disappointing; many of us were fully-vaccinated the week of the announcement and had been looking forward to leaving our apartments and going it. So it was a bummer.
Many of us went in on the same day to collect our things (ouch, my back! I had not ridden a bike home with that heavy a backpack in a very long time), which was lovely because I got to see these people in person whom I’d only really known for three weeks before everything was shut down and we went out for outdoor drinks after and it was goddamn lovely. My extrovert heart was full.
Alia and I are now both fully-vaccinated.
Alia started working on her home bakery not "full time" but at least she no longer works her office job and it’s been great. See sweetheartveganbakery.com.
A friend of mine passed away. He wasn’t much older than me and although I guess he’d been kind of sick it was still sudden and pretty awful. It was someone I played ultimate with in the years after undergrad back in St. Louis, and this guy would drag me — effectively the new kid in town, as I’d not played college in the midwest — to all the fun tournaments, some competitive ones, and was just generally a good guy, a pillar of the community, which is not a phrase I’d really ever use but one that is very fitting and apt.
We played on the same club team (which is I suppose "competitive" ultimate), and though he and I would butt heads a lot it was always because he was such a goddamn passionate guy. But we’d have so much fun afterwards and I always appreciated his ability to (mostly) leave it on the field, and to pick folks up later on.
I got a bunch of calls from old friends after it happened. I wish the circumstances had been different, but it was really good to hear their voices and check in. I have a lot of follow-up calls to make sometime.
This wasn’t the first of my friends to pass away during COVID — another person I’d played ultimate with passed away earlier on, and I’d only found out about it about two months later — but I don’t know, maybe because they were such different folks this one feels different. I loved K very much, and I loved CP very much. It’s just really fucking sad, you know?
I have continued to ride my bike a lot, building up mileage, too. I had been wanting to try Randonneuring for a long time, being foiled first by working in a bike shop (one does not ride their bike much when they work in a bike shop, ironically), and then COVID, but this summer was the summer and I did a self-guided populaire (100k) with a couple of buddies in April and then we did a century and then last weekend I did my first brevet (200k, ~125mi). It was wonderful and lovely, and I’m very indebted to Emily, who not only was an excellent pace partner but a superb conversationalist as well.
I’ve been meaning to go volunteer at the Somerville Bike Kitchen but then I keep not doing it.
I’ve started waking up before 8am again and it’s been really nice. We’ll see if it lasts but I prefer it when I can swing it. It’s hard in the winter though, hard when you work at a desk that’s only ~15ft from your bed.
We did, if late, plant our garden again, and we got new lights for our "outdoor living space," i.e., our backyard, and I’m very much looking forward to continuing to spend a lot of time there, especially in the morning with a cup of coffee, and late at night with beer maybe over a fire with friends (we got a free fire pit, too: you really should join your local "buy nothing" group).
My kid brother graduated college! Also here’s your reminder to check out his very cool band (and no: I don’t really understand the music video, but the song is pretty dang catchy).
My middle brother and his wife finally got their van in order, which they are now building out to be #vanlife again, and I’m very excited for them, although I think we’re therefore going to miss seeing them this summer which is a bummer.
I really haven’t been writing shit. It’s been disappointing.
The book club — Foucault Club, Philosophy Club, "Club" — finally made it through The Second Sex. Next up is Against Interpretation and Other Essays. I’m glad we read TSS but it was maybe too long for club, and since a lot of it is expository/descriptive it didn’t end up providing too much fodder for discussion after the initial ideas were worked through. Still: very interesting, frustratingly (still) relevant. The social science is…dated, and there’s some oddities in there, but I found it nevertheless super interesting and important and in a lot of way right. Some of her "accounts" are BS, but I think every time she gives a positive account she’s on to something. Also, there’s just gems like these:
the child is the enemy of waxed floors.
The Second Sex
A quote I liked recently:
When Gertrude Stein was at last after so many years of fruitful absence touring and lecturing in the United States, she was a popular sensation in that she was of a piece, a figure round and burrless as a ball, solid, simple, capable of being perfectly, not partially, misunderstood. She could be completely seen and completely heard; she matched herself. Such homogeneity is nearly unbearable for the complicating mind, and the universities where she lectured were full of such minds. After a certain lecture which had as usual bewildered the sober note-takers (the serious people laboring to understand by writing parts down, making decision about what was important to write down and what wasn’t, seeking a pattern in what was said, attempting to get a fix on that—determining its coordinates like an alien craft’s) a photographer came up to Stein. He was elated, ravished by what she had been saying. It was no trouble for him to understand as it was for teh audience which had come with the intention of understanding rather than with the intention of taking pictures for the local newspaper. His ease was no surprise to Gertrude Stein. The photographer had simply listened and therefore he had understood, since what Gertrude Stein was saying was always simple, plus she repeated it. The serious note-takers couldn’t listen and therefore couldn’t understand because they were trying to remember.
(I should go back and read more Stein…eventually.)
I’m sure there is more to say, but I am running out of steam. That’s been the thing: needing steam. Or coal, I guess. Fuel, in any case.
The things I’ve been thinking about lately include obligation and story forms and adulthood and bikes and listening and art, sources of and friendship and header levels and patience and insecurity as related to knowledge of self in self and others and coding and on-demand printing and hydration and bikes and wearing shorts and sweaters and algorithms and dive bars and postage and travelling and public health, safety and group email threads and whether it’s worth finishing Last Year at Marienbad and gardening and staining wood and working from home and if I need to start sourcing a new notebook and many other things, I’m sure.
I have spent a lot of time with George (the cat).
Ol' Schwinny is no more: the headtube is too deformed and the welt is right where you’d need to ream it further and I just don’t have it in me, so I’m retiring that bike. I semi-stripped it for parts to build up this frame I traded for on Craigslist that my buddy Nick is currently riding until he gets a bike that’s actually his size which I’ll then sell for money for parts to fund the next build.
My kid brother left a bike at my parents' house "for me" about two years ago (i.e., he had no more room in his apartment, thus the gift) so when I go visit my folks at the end of the summer I’ll find a lower headset bearing for that guy and bring that back as my new commuter. I’ll probably try to paint it, too: it’s a horrible sickly green color.
I have made it a point to ride the fat bike more and single speed fat biking is really fun. I feel lucky that there are trails close so I don’t have to do so much slow spinning on the road to get to them.
I’m realizing I no longer remember what this blog is for or what I’m supposed to talk about. Oh well.