cigar-tin stories number eighty-two / / memory ruins

Oona and I listen to a podcast about colours. One of the stories is about a woman who loses her sight, then regains it slowly, painfully, in a highly altered fashion, seeing like some prehistoric fish at the bottom of the ocean. At one point her brain begins turning on the colours of things when she’s told what they are; somewhere in our brains are tiny wires marked out for ‘blue’, I guess.

At the supermarket (always at the supermarket): a teenage girl, sullen in the wake of her mother’s endlessly stupid grocery shopping (“Why are you even buying that? I’m not going to eat that. This is boring!”), says, with little atomic lightning bolts shooting from her eyes, “Do you even know where you’re going? You don’t know where you’re going, do you?” Sometimes it seems like this is the entire world.

On Brownie night I serve Oona a quick supper––in this case it’s a mixed plate of grape tomatoes, sliced strawberries, vegetable crackers, seedless grapes, Polish sausage in bite-sized chunks, apple slices, cheese, toast with butter and jam, and cold chocolate pudding. It’s the cheese where I fall down; Oona won’t eat regular cheddar or mozzarella, she’ll only eat either when they’re mixed in a processed cheese string. Foolishly, I have broken these into pieces, and mixed them with all the rest. The censure is swift. “What were you thinking, daddy?” she asks.

I haven’t been posting as much art. This isn’t to say that I’m not creating as much, only that I’m experiencing some kind of glitch where I skip the last step, the packaging and presenting and posting part. I seem to have a lot of things lying around the studio, moving around but never put away and asking strange questions in their need to be finished off. But it’s always easier to start things than to finish them, isn’t it? At the start of things the world is yours. But finished things move away from you.

Part of this is down to organizing. Nothing of importance can be accomplished without organizing. I’ve heard. Unfortunately, the aspect of my brain dedicated to organization often looks like the forgotten remains of a bag of onions––all rottenness, brittle skins and some kind of plastic mesh where you can’t find your way in. And then as you get older, you just don’t care as much.

So much of my life these days is the giving up on things. I don’t mean this in any negative way; it’s more the ability to ignore the various circuses that roll through one’s cognitive suburbs. The noise, dear, and the people. I think instead about routine. I don’t want to buy anything. I have too many masters already.

Consumer society doesn’t really work so much anymore by pulling the old levers of advertising and having you want things; now it cultivates the need for adventure. It’s the difference, I guess, between the Cuisinart You and the Curated You. It’s just a different road to the same place. You’ll still require many products and devices.

Looking for music, I find a CD with the handwritten (Sharpie) label of ‘mixed for new’. It might be fifteen years old. The ancient JVC stereo in my studio was always cheaper than fuck, and these burned CD’s always have a secondary audio quality anyway, but I sort of love the heavy, low-fi sound: loud but somehow never sharp, never refined, as if coming from the end of some narrow memory tunnel.

At a children’s play where the kids read from scripts: it is not exactly a the-future-is-ours kind of moment. But the real play is called SELF-ESTEEM, and the velvet ropes are fiercely patrolled by organic-fed parents, all ecstatic applause and giant teeth, so I do not say a word.

It’s March Break, which should really be called Emergency Child Care Week. I take some holidays to stay home with Her Highness. The morning is for playing, the afternoon is for getting out. Yesterday it was simple: a giant walk that ended at a bakery. “But all these cookies have peanuts!”, my eight year-old complained, even though she is not allergic to peanuts and her aversion is completely based on some random comment by another manipulative eight year-old. In the end she picked out some lemon cookies and some shortbread with a jam centre. How awful.

Have a good March Break, everyone.


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

p.s. This is a version of my Tinyletter, which I send out every Tuesday from here.

unconnected / / cigar-tin stories number seventy eight

A Thursday evening, and I forget my phone. This happens with an erratic frequency these days; I have no idea why. Part of it, I’m sure, is down to the incandescent levels of mental energy I expend trying to get my eight year-old out the door (in this instance, for Brownies –– and in uniform, no less). But that sort of thinking excuses me from the very be-responsible-for-your-own-shit fiction I mean ethic that I wave around like some kind of photocopied, suburban version of Lenin, so I won’t use that. All haranguing should be directed inward. I forget things. My brain works imperfectly. I am getting older. If consciousness is a vast, emerald-green ocean, then evenings, especially, are all about floating beyond the safety buoys, beyond any reasonable depths of planning and coherence, into darker waters. In fact, often I’m so tired that I can’t think what I’m supposed to do next.

The moment I realize that I’ve forgotten my phone is one of both rising and falling panic –– I want my phone but I know I don’t need it. I am meeting a friend for coffee and that friend is not here. Instead, that friend is probably texting the phone I left on the kitchen counter, texting things like I’m running late and doesn’t look like I’m going to make it. Oh well. The phone and texts are beside the point. The plans had been set, a little window of kid-at-Brownies time set aside, in much the same way that I used to make plans in that lifetime –– and yes, it was an entire lifetime, unbathed by iPhone light –– before I was tethered to constant access. Remember that lifetime? Remember that time and then ask yourself: constant access to what?

This is a nice place. I go a little crazy and buy a five-dollar latte. Then I read a newspaper that hasn’t been touched all day. When not serving customers, the baristas are texting furiously.

In the newspaper there are many stories about terrible things and several about very angry people and more than a few about the Winter Olympics (the Frankenstein monster of money and meaninglessness that just won’t die) but the article I read at length is about an anniversary: one hundred years ago approximately one hundred million people died from the Spanish Flu, the viral equivalent of the biggest, blackest monsoon in history, raging mindlessly around the planet. It probably came from China and proliferated with troopships (the Chinese did not fight in the ‘great’ war but we let them dig our trenches). It went everywhere, killing heavily in the middle of the age bracket; in some places, like many villages in Alaska, everyone died.

The coffee house is full of young women. Most of them are obviously students but they look more affluent than any student I remember; they dress like they’re going to an expensive slumber party. They have iPhones and iPads and Macbooks. Some have real notebooks as well, with pencils and everything, but they drift back to the screens pretty quickly.

The latte was delicious, and it was rather pleasant to sit and read the paper. I hope my friend is okay. Time to go get the kid.

I hope everyone is having a good week,

Draw things, paint things, write things, make things

p.s. Don’t forget that it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow.