Maybe I should drink coffee more often

I was just forwarded a ‘neighborhood watch’ email about a recent identity theft in the area. It feels too early to read anything like that but I opened it anyway.
It was unusually vague, like “Between October 2013 and June 2014 an unknown person assumed the identity of a victim.”

I actually like and appreciate the neighborhood watch and our block captain is cool, and I respect and understand that they don’t give the name and home address of the victim. At a certain point, there’s not much left to pass on though, so you wonder what you are supposed to take away from it. It reminded me of Catch 22 when bored soldiers in the infirmary were censoring letters home and would just cross out all the nouns.

Then at the bottom, there was a link to the neighborhood lost and found website, which I originally thought was part of the same warning and I wondered about it for a second. Maybe that was the place to visit if you had lost your identity or found someone else’s. I even considered clicking because maybe my identity had been lost and I didn’t even know it, and maybe it would be really cool to find it again and then I’d be complete in a way I didn’t realize I ever could be. But I’m reasonably happy with my identity as it is now–flawed though it may be–so then I figured I’d probably just leave it unclaimed even if I found out it was there, even though it would still be good to know where the identity that I didn’t realized I’d misplaced had actually ended up.

Then I remembered that link is at the bottom of every neighborhood watch email. (Like I said, it’s probably too early to be going through email.)

Stupid raven.

After the sun came up, a huge raven somewhere close to my bedroom window started making noise. CAWCAWCAW, groups of three CAWs over and over. I thought, “Wow, that large bird must be really close. Good thing that won’t go on for a long time!” It went on for a long time.

I covered my head with pillow, and it still continued for a bit, then quiet briefly. Then a weird saxophone type sound started. Merrrrp. pause. Meeerrrrrrrp. I tried to ignore it and figured it was the gate moving in the wind or someone’s garage door or I don’t know what but it would probably stop soon because there’s no such thing as perpetual merping. It didn’t stop, and without my admitting it, the day had begun.

Then I heard weird occasional velociraptor grackling noises followed by CAWCAWCAW again and realized there was still a big raven very close to my bedroom making noises. I got up and looked out the window and couldn’t see it but it was clearly within a few feet of the window. I figured maybe I would try to get a pic or two if it was in the right place, but I saw nothing.

I went in and washed my face, and as I reached for a towel, I saw the bird perched on the parapet on the garage just outside the master bathroom. It was huge and impressive. The exact moment I laid eyes on it from inside the dark room and behind bamboo blinds, it instantly flew off like it knew its work was done here. It was so big I could hear the air being pushed by its wings through the closed window.

I pulled a blanket over my head and dogs collapsed comfortably (for them) around me, and then some weird low frequency vibration started. I figured it was some commuter’s big subwoofers, or maybe a big truck driving by, but it kept going and going. Then I realized it was probably the Taos hum, and I’d read that once you start hearing it you’ll hear it from then on until you’re forced to move or go insane. Then I remembered that I’m not actually anywhere near Taos and I tried to remember if I’d ever read of anyone in Santa Fe hearing the Taos hum, but I couldn’t dredge up anything useful. As I woke up a little more, I realized it probably wasn’t the Taos hum, and maybe I don’t even believe that there is one, and also I’m still not in Taos, so I continued to reason out what it might actually be. Maybe they were grading our dirt road today? (Which would be great, because it always rains within a day or two when they grade my street and we could use it.)

So the day had begun. Or not – as I prepared to dig myself out from under the heap of dogs, it suddenly stopped, and I figured I’d take one more shot at trying to go back to sleep.

After what felt like a really long struggle, I finally managed. But probably a few minutes after that, I was jolted out of REM by a phone ringing somewhere, and some part of me decided it was the most important call ever and I couldn’t miss it under any circumstances.

I burst out of bed and stumbled into the hallway to find one of the cordless handsets. I was all sleep-addled and thinking things like “THE ONION TRUCK MUST BE HERE. MAYBE IT’S WORK. DO WE HAVE MILK? YES, PLENTY. DRUM MONKEY. THE SNOW MIGHT BE ON FIRE. WHERE IS THE PANDA MAN?” and just picked it up without even looking at caller ID. It was just the dentist’s office reminding me of the appointment I have tomorrow, which I still remembered even half asleep. I looked at the clock and it was 8:14am and I tried to force my mind not to do the math which revealed how much sleep I was short today because it’s usually better not to dwell on it.

Nervous dogs clicked around on the tile outside my office and gave me suspicious sideways looks as I held my head in my hands and made some kind of sound.

The day had begun. Again.

Locust trees

One of the best unexpected discoveries about the house we live in was the cluster of locust trees out back. We didn’t know what we were in for in our first spring, and didn’t know what they were called for the first year or two. For roughly one glorious week in late May or early June, the trees they originally planted 30 or so years ago explode into deep pink/magenta flowers, and the “volunteer” trees that grew so easily after the first ones will do the same albeit with pure white flowers and the vicious thorns on the branches that the ones from the nursery had had bred out.

The fragrance is beautiful, the flowers are beautiful, the tropical green leaves are beautiful, and when the wind slows enough, you can hear the constant hum of bees during the day. At dusk you can see hummingbird months (and hummingbirds) getting the last of the day’s nectar, and come fall, we always find that the branches were home to several bird families through the year.

They’re on the south side of the house, and being deciduous, they provide blessed shade in the summer and allow ample light to pass in the winter months after they’ve shed their leaves.

Although it’s easy to wish they were with us throughout the year, the flowers themselves don’t last for more than a week, maybe 8 days total if you count the early bloomers and the late starters. By the time the last blossoms open, the first ones have started to fall, and the pink flowers become dense purple confetti that swirls into the various corners even while most of the blossoms are still thriving on the tree. You find little piles of them everywhere, even on the opposite side of the house where it seems unlikely the wind could blow them.

Sometimes I wonder if these trees aren’t the perfect allegorical plants for describing a human life. Not because of the brief flowering or the explosion of beauty or the ‘enjoy the moment’ Hallmark card stuff, mostly because you could play “Purple Rain” while you were trying to explain it and it would sort of make sense.

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Bzzzzzt.

I found through trial and error that I could distract my mind during long sleepless stretches with different kinds of positive aspirations, it worked OK for a few weeks at least. Then my mind caught on, and I have since learned that affirmations work a whole lot better when your mind doesn’t start adding a classic gameshow BZZZZTTT after each one.

“Gotta get back to sleep, just beating myself up is not really helping anyoneBZZZZZT. Oh yeah, affirmations; uh, you’re a good person and feeling this much stress doesn’t help anythingBZZZZT and you don’t deserveBZZZZT to feel this way all the time. BZZT.”

“Okayyy… maybe that one word thing. Uh, peaceBZZZT. GratitudebzzzZZZZT. HappyBZZZT. CalmBBBBBBBBZZZZZZZT.”

“Damn. OK, how about that appreciation one. I am grateful for all that I have. BZZZZZZT. Uh, I am grateful for the roofBZZZZT over my head and having enough fooodBZZZT to eat andBZZZZT well shit.”

“Huh, maybe aim lower. OK, you, uh TRY to be a good personBBBZZZT at least some of the timeBZZZZZZT and maybe you could try to lighten up just a littleBZZZZZZZZZZT.”

“OK. You’re not the worst personBBZZZZZZTT who ever livedBZZZZT BZZZT BZZZZZT and you shouldn’t always stressBZZYT because things are going to get betterBZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZT and things can improveBZZZZZT in the blink of an eyeBZZZZZZZZT because the universe (pause) is filled with unlimited possibilitybzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZTTTTTTT.”

“It’s like that, huh. I guess I’ll just sit here half awake and stress out then…” (silence) “…and hopefully get some sleep laterBZZZZZZZZZZT.”

Damn.

Aside

Doors and windows

Sometimes when one door closes, another one opens. But if you also have some windows open, sometimes when you close one door, it makes another door on the other side of the house slam shut from the wind and that traps some dogs in your bedroom and some outside your bedroom and they all go nuts and bark at the invisible intruder for two minutes and then they all chase each other around and wrestle on your bed and playfully bite your hands when you open the door back up and prop it open with a clay piggybank filled with pennies so when one door closes another one can’t close at the same time quite so easily.

Audio

Solo Album Preview

I guess I’m just a little edgy about sharing this, but here goes. I did 2 sessions at SFUAD with Willa Snow to record some solo piano work over the last couple weeks. In this process, I’d just start with a 2-to-16 bar snippet of melody, or a couple chords, or just a rhythmic idea of some sort, and then sort of see where it goes for a while. Some ideas are from 20+ years ago, some of them just a few weeks. Then I take the little snippet out for a walk and try to return it safely home at some point. It’s easy to overthink, but my lack of complete comfort sharing this feels like a good sign rather than a bad one. (I’d be more worried if I didn’t have some doubts about it.) Right now I’m trying to hear it on every system I can get my hands on (so far very happy) and putting it on Soundcloud was one easy way to facilitate this. This is a public sneak preview as I figure out the next steps…