cigar-tin stories number seventy-six / / three days

Sunday: I have a stomachache. It’s one of those high-end-pressure aches, some kind of clamorous, furry gas inflating me middle-ways, with enfilading fire via my esophagus. It reminds me of an episode of LOST –– strangely insistent but ultimately completely senseless.

And then I try to think of the why –– what I might have consumed or been irradiated by to cause all this pointless suffering –– but there are no compelling suspects. Apple? Peanuts? Chocolate milk? Quiche? Heroin? It hardly matters. The stomachache is going to live its life, bathing itself in the glittering Cuban surf of my pain, and all I can do is wait for it to complete its destiny.

Getting sick is always tricky in the respect that if I tell C, then I have to expend considerable effort describing the evidence to a skeptical and impatient judge who can’t wait to dismiss the case. Yeah, you had what I had this morning, she says. It’s nothing.

Oona and I are now at the part of the children’s illustrated version of the New Testament where Jesus returns to Jerusalem, and it seems like on every second page the disciples cower and waver in the background, cringing with doubt, while Jesus provides cryptic answers along the lines of, Look, it’s the family business, I don’t really have a choice, besides I’ll rise from the dead. And this is a very confusing narrative for the disciples, never mind for an eight year-old. But in another way it’s the perfect story for our times, when everyone believes in whatever’s convenient, and all our problems will be solved by magic. And by fighting the man I mean the power I mean the patriarchy. And zombies. Look, it’s Lazarus!

Monday: after a semi-deranged morning of distraction and complaining and general non-compliance, I spend the drive to school lecturing Oona about being capable and coping. Good times! But it’s a lecture I keep coming back to with her, because of this future wave I see of people not being able to cope (the British would call it ‘not managing’). My generation was defined by the kind of fucking up that came from being both too-cool and generally clueless; the only advice most of us received from our parents was of the get-the-hell-out-of-the-house vein. To be fair, their own upbringing hadn’t exactly prepared them to deal with us, and we couldn’t exit fast enough. So these were largely crimes of omission: when we failed (often, and in spectacular fashion) it was in that oblivious, floundering, falling-into-something manner, with any adults around trading in a lot of anger or shrugging. But at least we were doing things, and and trying to course correct along the way. Whereas what I see now is things not happening, and loads of people not coping, and looking for the sidelines, where they can just live through their phones. Anyway, all we want her to do is brush her teeth, wash her face and get dressed, and do these things on her own, with no chasing. And most days this is still a fail.

Weird dreams. A completely invented title for a completely invented object. Besides, I have weird dreams all the time, which I try to write down while they last: Monday’s features a pile of utility blades on the couch, and my insistence that they could not be there, how dangerous that was. Exciting, right? A notable one from last week was about being lost in a giant warehouse, and something about being shoeless and not stepping on spiders. Yeah, I really don’t know.

A friend of mine reminds me that this is my last week to be 49. I can write that number down and circle it and no thoughts come at all. I never expected to live this long (there’s always been a doom-y streak, or low-volume countdown, somewhere in the background) so I guess I should be thankful?

Tuesday: listening to BBC radio while I make breakfasts and lunches, and I hear the question, “Now, where does that leave the political situation in Kenya?”, which makes me laugh. But you know what? It’s fine. I’m glad to learn a little more about Kenyan politics. That doesn’t hurt at all. Most importantly, it’s not Trump. Because I think I’ve reached peak Trump. The news about him is starting to fall away, is beginning to lose any coherence or meaning. The American system is so oppositional, so confrontational that it begins to look like some kind of Orwellian media super-scheme, leached of any nutritional value by propaganda and agendas and false flags. Most of what I read and hear is recycled nonsense. Hardly anyone talks about economics and class, the two issues that really matter (and solve many others). So what’s the point?

Trying to get Oona out the door, out to the car. I forget my phone, which I go back for. Then, dropping Oona off at school, I realize I’ve forgotten my coffee flask. It’s sitting upside down on the dining room table, upside down so the spoonful of honey at the bottom can work its way through. And I’m a little angry about this, and I resolve to move my wake-up time from 5:30 to 5, because I need to be completely done before anyone else gets moving, otherwise things get forgotten or badly done. I guess I’m prone to distraction, too.

Please have a good week, everyone,

Draw things, paint things, write things, make things.

p.s. This is a version of my every-Tuesday Tinyletter; if you’d like to subscribe, please go here.


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