technology and me

It was the Worst Thing That Ever Happened. I ran out of space on my iPhone.

32 gigs. Is that not a lot? Apparently not enough for a smattering of apps, two photos, Spotify and i few albums in iTunes. The phone screamed at me. YOU MUST DO SOMETHING!!

I tried killing stuff I never use. Then I killed stuff I don’t use much. Then I killed stuff I use a lot. Still full.

So I did what we all do when the going gets rough: I googled it. They took me through a bunch of stuff that didn’t make much difference. Still full. What do do? I can’t live without the iPhone.

But then.

I started uninstalling stuff. And then I uninstalled everything. And I discovered something.

I no longer stared at the phone compulsively, checking to see if I had received any email in the last five minutes, or if someone liked my pithy Instagram post, since I had killed my Instagram.

And I realized.

I don’t need the phone. I don’t need to be constantly updated. I don’t need to share my innermost thoughts with guys in Papua New Guinea. I just need it when Mo calls to say hello. That’s all.

And then I looked at my WordPress blog.

Same thing. I don’t need it. I think I’ve said everything I’ll ever need to say three or four times. What’s the point?

I think my life has finally come around full circle. A moleskine journal and a trusty black pen is enough for me. Drop by if you ever want to read it.

But turn off your phone before you visit.


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mister pants, part 24

“Turning Plato and Hegel on their heads
I sometimes choose to think, no doubt perversely,
that man is a dream, thought an illusion,
and only rock is real.
Rock and sun.”

— Edward Abbey

You get so caught up in the hysteria. The world revolves around this thing that is gripping the world. Nothing else matters.

But then you find yourself sitting on a rock on the edge of the world while Mo wonders if a lizard has just crawled into her shorts or if she’s just happy to see you, and you remember for the millionth time.

We’re just like the lizard. We’re only here for a little while. Our joys, our despair, our experiences that seem so important are not. Maybe the vermin will get us, maybe a 2.33 mile run, maybe one of the 30 trillion cells doing a conga line in our body that decides to step out of life. We’re going to die.

But after we’re gone, this rock will still be here. And this sun. And for a couple of hours on a May afternoon on which we may or may not have broken curfew, we are real, too. The overpowering silence, the endless view, the wind wreaking havoc on our baseball caps, the raptors dancing in the thermals. A brief, glorious respite from the madness.

“We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope; without it the life of the cities would drive all men into crime or drugs or psychoanalysis,” Mr. Abbey said.

We create the illusion that we’re important, but as you gaze out at forever from the top of the world, you realize we’re not. And because of that, maybe we are after all.

Rock is real. Rock and sun.

You sit quietly, immersed in the vastness of the world. You don’t know how the story will end. But you know when it does, this rock will still be here.

You drive home with a new hope, even if it’s just an illusion.

Mostly, you hope there’s not really a lizard in Mo’s shorts.

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the keys to a good marriage, part 9

Mo is looking at Instagram. She frowns.

“People shouldn’t write long captions below their photos on Instagram. It should just be photos,” she declares.

“Ummm, I write long captions below my photos on Instagram,” I point out.

“Nobody but YOU should write long captions below their photos on Instagram. It should just be photos,” she says.

“Agreed,” I reply.

A good marriage is all about compromise.

And coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. But don’t write long captions below it.


OK, but it’s a short caption.

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life is funny, part 386

“There ain’t no answer.
There ain’t gonna be any answer.
There never has been an answer.
There’s your answer.”
— Gertrude Stein

Running past a memorial service 18 times, I have a lot of questions. Who was Bob? What happened to him? Was he really a kind soul, always with a smile on his face? Are these people oblivious to social distancing? What if you could teach a chihuahua to sing?

They laugh, they cry, they eat muffins, they write messages to Bob on balloons with Sharpies. Bob would have liked it, I bet. Black T-shirts and shorts, stories and Starbucks. A lovely wake, even though I’m not quite awake yet.

Near the end, they release their balloons to greet him in heaven, which apparently is in the grass on the other side of the pond.

I gather as many balloons as I can in an effort to save the birds that live here. But it’s futile.

Next week, the birds will have a funeral for Bob the Bird, who they will agree always had a smile on his beak until he died from eating the remnants of a misplaced tribute.

What’s the answer? There ain’t no answer. Just little loops in the cycle of life till you’re done and you hit the stop button on the Great Garmin in the Sky.

RIP, Bob. I hope you liked your balloons. Please tell Bob the Bird I said hey.

Life is funny …

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home is where the art is

“I don’t paint dreams or nightmares,
I paint my own reality.”

― Frida Kahlo

He just wanted his art up. That’s all.

Bruce is our friend. He’s settling in to a new apartment after he was kicked out of his previous abode because Brandy, his 130-year-old comfort dog, was sitting in the grass without a leash when the apartment manager happened along. I suppose rules are rules, but karma is karma. I hope it works.

So now, here he was, displaced, disheartened, dis and dat. We sat in Char’s patio while they enjoyed their evening cocktails. We talked about life, politics, how the move was going. He shrugged, that look of someone who hasn’t quite found his footing.

And then his eyes lit up with hope. He and Mo had gotten out his artwork yesterday and moved them around to various places seeing how they would fit in. They apparently had a battle plan in place. All that was left was to hang them. He thought that would go a long ways toward settling in.

“So why don’t you do it,” asked Char, always one to suggest work when she wouldn’t actually be involved.

And so we did.

He has a fabulous, eclectic array of art, from realism to abstract to quirky. The art was all leaning on the wall where they had decided their new spots should be. He began.

Bruce measured everything carefully with the precision of someone who once worked with his hands. Tape measure, left to right, up to down, a measurement to account for the height lost for the wire, algebra equations I didn’t understand, pencil marks on the wall, nails hammered in with the manly man tape measure.

One by one, the paintings went up. Char stood watch with her martini, barking instructions. A little to the left. No, to the right. No, to the left again. Never trust someone who drinks her martini out of an antique Green Bay Packers collectible cup.

A painting over the TV. And the couch. And the piano. A “Shalom, y’all” greeting in the doorway. High, low, everywhere, all in just the right places.

Mo tried to rearrange his dining room set because one of the chairs partially blocked a painting. Bruce pointed out that one person no longer would be able to sit at the table under her new arrangement. Mo stared blankly at him, unsure why that would be a problem. This, after all, was art. Bruce won. Mo pouted.

More measuring, more pounding, more hanging. And then, we were done.

Bruce sat down in his chair, looked around, and smiled.

“Now it feels like home,” he said.

Brandy curled up on the couch and put her head in Mo’s lap. Apparently she agreed.

And then we went home. Home  being the place where all of our art resides.

Paint your own reality, Frida Kahlo said. And we did. They can boot you from your apartment, they can disrupt your life, they can lock you down.

But they can’t tell you where to hang your art.

Nightmares can become dreams. In reality, all you need is a tape measure, a few nails and a stout quarantini. Done, done and done.

Welcome home, Bruce and Brandy.

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