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Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Saturday, October 8, 2016
1. I ask my father if he has any regrets; how he feels about his relationships with his sons. “I don’t really, no. There’s only so much I can do. You all make your decisions, or started to at some point and all I can do is be there if you need to talk about something.” This is a fair answer. I have never asked my father a question like this, or maybe I hadn’t since right after he and my mother separated almost twenty years ago, and I have no expectations. His response dovetails cleanly with his actions. If I call him he’ll be glad to talk. If I don’t, he is seemingly glad to wait while we both do other things.
2. I haven’t surfed in a week or three. Since the last time I surfed and those two or three times I didn’t surf because of dumb reasons Antonio and I cooked up on the fly. I went swimming in the swimming pool twice. I used the foam roller a number of times. My back has started to tighten up.
3. The zipper on my winter wet suit is broken. At the end of last season I ordered a replacement zipper that’s supposed to fit any wetsuit, a magical, easy fix. It doesn’t do that. I struggle to get the metal bit to even fit onto the teeth. So I’m stuck here anxiously anticipating the upcoming cold months when all I don’t need is one more reason to not get up in the pitch black cold dark and paddle out into frigid water. “Oh! My zipper is broken!” I can hear myself exclaim in mock surprise, hoping someone is listening while I dawdle alone in the basement. “Ugh. What a bummer.”
4. There is a new faux-Jewish, hipster-retro, Katz’ like deli on a corner in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The bagels are very good, the smoked fish is very good, the prices are very high and the line is very long. I go in there to pick up our order, annoyed and agitated.
5. There is a moment in a certain young person's life when they hear John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” for the first time. Maybe the second or third (they just weren’t paying attention before.) The soaring majesty of heavily considered extemporaneity offering a glimpse of the esoteric joys of the freedom of flow state, like a window into another window, into another house, down the street, maybe across town, maybe in another town altogether. The youth thinks he understands, gripped with such authenticity and intensity there is no denying. I don’t know when that moment was for me. The exact moment I heard it anyhow. It did impress enough that I would spend the better part of a cool Spring morning in a back bedroom of a Salinas, California ranch style house on a cul de sac in the Chicano part of town (is there another part of town in Salinas?) eating a homemade breakfast burrito delivered by a shuffling abuela, staring at the velvet painting of Mother Mary, fielding queries from passing kids on their dirty bikes as if my pain was their take-out window for sniggering, feeling slightly nauseous as Primo impaled my arm on the end of a buzzing needle, digging harder and deeper, longer and longer as the blood streamed down to my elbow. The resulting mush of a tattoo, Primo’s initiative go round, I the initiate, later legible to many as a pulpy paean to a favorite Taco Bell menu item, was in fact my own maybe second, arguably twelfth, attempt at defining myself as myself, apart from some younger, older myself. “A Love Supreme” seemed to me, in all its spiritual exhaustion, the perfect mix of where I had been, was, and was going. A couple years later, when Primo had actually ensconced himself in a Monterrey tattoo parlor proper, gifting himself nagging tendinitis and a niggling sense of regret, he would plug white ink into the swollen shut holes of the letters, an attempt at retroactive definition. For years after that I think Primo felt sheepish for the protruding distention that would make the black-bluish blob adorning my upper left bicep look just like that. But I’ve never been sorry for any of it. The slight diarrhea caused by shock and grease of that fly-bitten morning nor the subsequent quizzical looks of scrunched up nose-bridges trying to make out what the thing might say. I don’t think I’ve ever really “gotten” the Coltrane track. Could I? Does anyone? But somewhere in my own dermal acclamation I believe I’ve hit upon something approaching.
6. In Chinese astrology there is the animal identity your birth year bears you into and an element the quadrennial cycle bears to you. In my case, I am a wood tiger. There is something similar, I think, that our life brings us. A sort of daemon on the shoulder we acquire through years of pain and coping. In my case, the little bugbear is insecurity. Most believe insecurity is a weakness, a sign of… insecurity. But it is not. Not in my case anyhow. I use my insecurity offensively. A violent reaction that allows me to pull away in an attempt to create safe space, an indiscriminate habit, insatiable. It is my shield and my sword. If I don’t pay attention, its little sharp teeth sink in quick as a whip I can do little to prevent. If I pay attention well enough, it becomes a constant argument trying to shout over all positive, rational emotion. Funny stuff.
7. I could have gone surfing this morning. I woke up early enough, my wife doesn’t have to be at work until noon today. I took the dog for a walk, replenished our coffee bean supply and read the newspaper, finally settling down to tap out lines for a surf blog about not surfing. I’ll go surfing tomorrow. I’ll let you know how that goes.