Saturday, April 28, 2018

Robert's passing

   I was a bit shocked when Betty told me that Robert had died. Although I hadn't seen him for some time, I was still fully that he had touched me. I just needed to remember.
   Because I hadn't been at the park for quite some time, I must have thought at some recent time that he might not still be alive. Still, the news surprised me. I imagine that although we might fully expect someone to die, perhaps even anticipate it, its difficult to fathom it.
   I  remember being at my father's deathbed in the hospital in Oneonta, New York, waiting for his last breath. I was shocked when it happened.
   When Betty stopped me as we walked in opposite directions around Stow Lake, I felt guilty for thanking her for telling me about Robert. I meant to thank her for informing me, but it felt afterwards like I was thanking her for his death. It's hard to know what to say when you're told of a passing of a person important to someone else; it's confusing when it's someone that you knew only a bit.
   Robert was a man that I talked with only for short periods of time when I had finished my morning walk in the park. He would sometimes tell me a not-very-funny joke, and honestly, I can't really remember much of what else we would speak of. Still, I was moved that he would come out of his car to talk with me as I neared. I don't know what we had in common that might have formed a bond between us, but I felt one, and I believe he did, too.
   Once, I wanted to hug him, but didn't. I don't really understand why I felt so close to him, but he felt like a family member that had always accepted me fully. The news of his death reminded me that I miss him.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Barn smells

   From the ages of about eleven to fifteen, I went to a kind of hippie summer camp in upstate New York, parts of which were a small, working farm. One year, I was assigned to stay with a group of boys in a converted chicken coop.
   During those summers, some of us would play floor hockey in the storage floor of a nearby barn. I loved the smell of the hay there, and although those years were not the happiest for me, there was still something about the aromas there that I have sweet memories of. The smell of the weeds burned to keep away the insects during outdoor evening events, the biodegradable soap we used at the bathing stream, and that hay.
   I  am surprised when I reminded of it that people don't talk more about smelling in a positive sense. I cannot offhand think of another example of a thing that can so powerfully illicit memories seemingly dormant for so long. When people talk of smelling something, it usually is of something they find unpleasant.
   Perhaps most interesting is how the olfactory seems to bring forth past experiences in an almost non-linguistic way. And although I am someone who finds language to possess so much potential beauty, I also can see it as being too dominant and reaching. My nose can often have a better sense of things.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Calling dad

   I thought about calling my father as I got into my car early earlier. I think this every couple of months or so, though my father's been dead for eleven years at the time of this writing. I don't know whether that's a little or a lot. Anyway, I didn't feel particularly close to him as an adult when he was alive.
   It's not strange to me that I should have thought to call him in the morning (I regularly think to call other people at this time), but the idea of calling him made me think more today why I do so. Surprisingly to me, I even thought of telling him that I loved him.  
   I imagine my wish to call him and others as I go out into the world is an attempt on my part to feel more related and less afraid; perhaps less or more me. Maybe the thought of telling my father that I loved him was a merely a wish to feel closer to a world that I often find so antagonistic.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Why do I dislike theater, but not film?

    While we spoke via phone when she was still in Argentina, my wife Fernanda told me about the play that she had just seen there. When she returned, she told me more about it, adding that it was only a small, neighborhood production, but had been very good. She added that she wished that there were more like it here in San Francisco.
   Although she knows that I really don't care for theater, she relayed her feelings to me in a way that a person does when they have regrets about a thing. At least that's how it sounded to me. And while I am fully aware that I probably read that aspect into it, it still saddened me. I imagined too that she may also feel remorseful that she married someone that doesn't generally like plays as she does.
   These thoughts set me off me asking myself, yet again, why it is that I don't enjoy theater, but am liable to be moved by certain films, It seems to me to logically follow that if a person likes one, then shouldn't they also enjoy the other?
   In terms of how these two forms appear, how they present, there is something about the lack of border, really an end, that the finite space of a film frame is able to create and define in a clear way that theater does not. The play, whether on a stage or not, is for me too enacted, but not restrictive or discerned enough in a way that makes sense to me as the artifice that I see it as.
   While I often find in-between spaces, such as the difficult physical location that I see plays existing in, to offer a stretch of freedom for me as a viewer, the theatrical place instead leads me to feeling confined, and sometimes, even short of breath. I find that feeling often occurring in art museums, too.
   Perhaps because of this problematic area, the actions of the players in the productions often seem laughable to me. I actually am embarrassed at times for the actresses and actors, as they seem to be trying too hard to convince me of something (though I don't know what). It just looks ridiculous to me.
   In contrast, I rarely question the form of film, even when I don't like what I am seeing, because the artifice is pronounced in a way that I can enjoy without continually questioning it. The same is true for me of television. It seems that neither medium attempts to be anything besides artificial, and this approach is for me both refreshing and easy to consume.
   Of course, I have considered the idea that I have become more naturalized to the television (whose screen, though smaller, is not terribly unlike a movie theater screen), but I don't think that it is the resounding influence.
   Instead, it is more likely the rigidity of the screen's borders that allows me to float more freely as a consumer within the tale it depicts. The subsequent lightness allows me to interpret more freely, feeling less constrained and determined. And for me, to feel even a little less weighed down, is so wonderful.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Perceiving dimensions

   I became aware as I walked this morning my tendency to perceive the world in negative ways, and wondered what might happen if I were to try to comprehend things differently.  I was aware that thinking about things as I do makes me feel bad about others and myself.
   I decided to try a quick experiment, squinting my eyes as if I was nearly asleep or high on marijuana. As I propelled forward, I immediately realized that I had a qualitatively different sense of space. It was beautiful and unexpected.
   Instead of feeling that things around me were static, they seemed to be moving, somewhat like being looked at through a kaleidoscope. The trees moved as I moved.
   As I think about it now, I imagine that if someone were to tell me about the sense I had of those trees as if they had experienced them like that, I would figure that the person had themselves become rigid; the trees had appeared to bounce due to the movement of the individual's gait.
   But that's not how it seemed. Actually, I had perceived that myself and my world had become less rigid, and I had the impression that the less I fixed my view, the less my views were fixed. And although it was frightening to know that things could feel so much less rooted, there was also something wonderful about the fact that the world could seem so different, even for only that moment.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The smell of my gloves

   In the trunk of my car there are perhaps four or five pairs of gloves that I use during the (sometimes chilly) early morning walks that I take daily in Golden Gate Park. Although I wear the same old stained, Reebok sneakers daily, I do prefer to try to match my gloves in some manner to either my clothing, the weather, or both.
   The gloves that I generally wear on the more mild days are a neutral grey (one of which is shown below), and which I often notice have an odor which is at once familiar and murky. Although I'm not certain, and the association certainly may be misplaced, I believe that the smell reminds me of the blackberry and raspberry jelly candies that my Grandma Jean would have available for us kids when we would visit their home in Jamaica, Queens.
   I find it quite interesting that this fabric, which is made of an acrylic, nylon and wool blend, should remind me of these candies, and wonder if perhaps what I am reminded of is actually of that same grandma's basement (which had a lot of wool clothing, moth balls), one floor below the candies. It's certainly possible that I have attached the association to both levels.
   Whereas I normally write in these blogs to try to better understand my feelings and thoughts, sometimes, as now, I feel the need to elucidate for myself my associations only to give them possibilities. Rather than looking for answers, I find that these wonderful and often perplexing associative mental links make my existence richer. I write in part to understand some of these things better, and to hopefully, better realize the depths of these kinds of wonder.

If only you could smell it from there

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Dog grandma

   There is a car that is sometimes see parked around Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park when I go walking there that has a sticker on it which read, Dog Grandma. Located just behind the gas tank cover, I have only recently noticed it, even though I have seen the car there for at least a year now. I believe that the sticker must be new, because knowing myself well (if only in this regard), I cannot imagine that I have not seen it before. I say this because of the impact it has on me now.
   I find the statement in the picture below interesting not only for what I see as its' ridiculousness, but because I find its' message is so difficult to tease out. Is the driver of this car someone that has three generations of dogs from the same family, and if so, how many dogs might she have? Maybe she is a grandmother to human beings, with one of them owning a dog. Or, perhaps she herself is a a dog and grandmother that is also able to drive a car?
   When I began writing this blog, I honestly couldn't wrap my head around what the sticker was referring to, but as I write, I realize that she must have a grandchild with a dog, but I love that the two words seemed, at least temporarily, so strange together as to bewilder me. I probably would benefit from more of that feeling.