Thursday, September 30, 2004

Slice o my life to be put under glass for observation:

I am as per usual the first to arrive. I unlock the front door and set the pin so that others can get in. I turn on the hall lights and the lights in the back room. I clock in. I am on salary, but I am still asked to use the time clock, though this generates no used data. My time cards are put in a file and are never looked at. I don’t date the cards so even if you were to see my average hours you wouldn’t know what days they correspond to. I try two or three keys on the office door and unlock it when I find the correct one. Nancy, the Kundalini yoga instructor enters and we exchange our usual Thursday morning hellos. I turn on two floor lamps and a fountain in the office. I turn off an om cd that has been on repeat overnight oming aaaaauuuuuuummmmmmm to clean the energy in the office. You know what I mean. Your work has these, right?

I enter the bookstore and turn on the overhead lights. I unlock the double French doors leading into the store and I turn off the store’s om cd. I set the ac by the t-shirts to 76 degrees down from the overnight setting of 80 degrees. I turn on the photocopy machine – it will take five minutes to warm up. I pick out a cd for the store, Galana’s “Moon of the First Snow” Native American flute music. I open the door that leads from the store into the main floor classroom. There are two thermostats here and I set them both to 76 degrees. I plug in two lamps in the hallway and a string of Christmas tree lights that are strung through a fake fichus tree.

I can hear Nancy upstairs beginning her preparatory chanting, “ha – ha – ha –ha.” in loud blasts wholly unlike laughter. She is energetically clearing the space upstairs to prep for the students. Anne arrives and clocks in. We both go into the classroom and begin rearranging the tables for the business class. The custodians cleaned last night so all the folding chairs have been stored so they could vacuum. We set up the chairs at the repositioned tables.

Students begin to arrive. I return to the front desk and take a in a few tuition payments. Anne does the same functioning of thermostats and oming cd players downstairs in the clinic and upstairs in the bodywork classrooms, while I get the computer network up and running. The business class instructor arrives and begins making copies on the now warm machine. She has a puppy she wants me to take, but I’ve decided against the lab sheltie mix – BJ this would be the perfect dog for you. Interested? All fees paid, comes with cage, leash, bowl, and toys. You could come up for the housewarming and get the dog.

Angela is having a party – wine and cheese – tonight to watch the debates. “If people ask if they can bring anything I have plenty of reds, but very few whites.”

The phones start to ring and I open up the To Do list on my desk top. #1 schedule cpr class for mid December, #2 contact Rita in Chicago about hot stone hand class requirements, #3 make Reiki certificates for Friday distribution, #4 etc.


Wednesday, September 29, 2004

From levity to heavy handed Paul Harvey-isms (a variation on the Garrison form)

Alternately, an impressive rationalization:

7:45 am:

My wardrobe is under attack. I was walking downstairs to do laundry in my freshly pressed shirt and I hooked the shoulder on the door such that the sleeve ripped off. So that’s how my day has started let’s see if we can improve it from there. Blah. Car didn’t fit = new car. Clothes don’t fit = new clothes. Job… We need to see some motion here Karl. I hired a new front desk person yesterday and am training her today – or assisting Anne in her training. I have a long list of work tasks to make my blood pressure rise. “You seem like you are in that cycle again where your job is getting you down.” Yup.

We watched a good movie last night – Dirty Pretty Things. – full recommendation if you like dark movies about people selling their internal organs, and I do.

Tonight is Paul’s last night here as a resident of circle K, he’ll be heading back to Columbia Thursday night to resume his duties as Quincy of Columbia on Friday and sorry to say will not make the housewarming party at Brad and Beth’s nor will he be able to help Vanessa move. What’s the plan there Vanessa & Chris? Are you renting a truck or am I taking the seats out of the van (or all of the above?).

I should tell you “the rest of the story” from yesterday ala Paul Harvey.

. . . Eventually after several years as a custodian for Concordia Seminary I spent a summer with Lober Hall as my assigned building. I don’t know if you ever had one of these jobs where you show up and do things in a pattern – clock in, unlock the doors, vacuum, empty the trash, turn on the lights, set the air conditioner or the heater, etc. I do the same things every morning at my current job (our custodian cleans once a week the rest of the time we do it – that is everyone on staff). It’s the sort of stuff that on the one hand keeps you grounded and on the other it can suck your soul out through a very thin straw; I guess it depends on your attitude.

One Sunday when I was still in High School, my father took me downtown for the opening of a new woman’s shelter for unwed mothers that the LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod) was sponsoring. The man in charge of this facility, and several like it in East St. Louis, was one Otis Woodard. As part of the ceremony Otis told us something of his life story. He had been a part of the Civil Rights Movement and had worked directly with Dr. Martin Luther King, but after King’s assassination he and his pregnant wife fled to St. Louis and hid out, friendless and penniless, in the abandoned buildings on Washington Ave.

If you haven’t been to St. Louis there is a street that runs into the heart of downtown, most of the downtown dance clubs and bars, the convention center, the Rams stadium, these are all on Washington. If you continue to head west from the downtown you get into the burnt out buildings and the brown fields that look as decimated as any war torn city you can imagine.

---Anne calls informing Karl she will be late for work so he hastens his morning rite, saving what he’s writing to disk. Karl Leaves for work, functions the building as described above, students arrive for first day of level one and buy books and pay tuition, he goes to bank with paperwork and picks up Lattes and raspberry scones at Stratton’s Café, he develops a rough draft of a student calendar to be produced by local printing company to be given as a gift to new students, he interviews, hires and starts training Vickey, he goes home for lunch and walks dog, returns to work in time to send fellow employees down to the massage clinic, he resumes typing on story started this morning while discussing the differences in American and European culture with coworker Tanya. She gives him the card for a ballroom dance instructor. Hmmmmm…. but I already swing dance.

12:36 – scratch that – too busy

Without a means of support and in fact in hiding and fearing for his life, Otis turned to an area pastor who found him work at Concordia Seminary. He was hired as a custodian and, you guessed it, Lober Hall was his assignment. Twenty years apart, Otis & I managed the same space: the space that was his first source of income in St. Louis, the building that paid for the birth of his child, got him into a home, and set him on the path to the opening of that shelter. The empty building Otis and his wife stayed in is still standing. Then, as now, it has no windows and is open to the elements. They were not the last tenants I am sure.

There are unintended and often unknowable ripples that move out from every choice, every task, in all directions. Otis’ brief story, which came after and at the same time preceded my own experience, washes over all those custodial memories and changes them. Sanitation Engineer is not an improvement from Custodian and it reduces to “tasks” a much more important job, the job of being responsible for a space. People at my current work occasionally and quite seriously thank me for something that neither I nor they can quite explain. They thank me for “holding space” and I think writing this has helped me put a finger on that role. I am still a custodian of my workplace. I am responsible for it and everyone in it, such as I am able and invited to be.

Do I still think all working environments are games, yes, but games to children are not just the escapes that we think of as adults; games, while filled with “play,” are also serious experiments into how to be in the world, how to act, think and live. If we invite play into our serious roles we redeem them and renew them. What’s the existential mantra? We can’t control our “thrown-ness” in the world, but we are infinitely free to control how we feel about it. I had a good day at work today, in part because I decided to.


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The relative seriousness of work:

When I got back from my trip to Minnesota I was feeling very light. The job stress that is an integral part of my work environment kept provoking fits of laughter rather than the more typical jaw clenching, but now I can feel myself sliding back into that habit of dire seriousness, as though my very life might depend on the relative success of some irrelevant widget. I have to keep reminding myself that none of this matters and if I had a little more distance it would all in fact be terribly funny.

I have this memory that I keep coming back to. I am fourteen and we’ve moved to St. Louis. I have no friends so to get me out of the house my father gets me a summer job on the custodial crew at Concordia Seminary. I am on the second floor of Lober Hall with a team of summer help and we are getting instructions on stripping the floor of the second floor lounge. I have a small green Frisbee with me, the kind that you get in a box of cereal, and I plan to play with it on one of our fifteen minute breaks. My boss Leroy is in mid sentence giving orders when he sees the Frisbee and he erupts with wide eyed anger, “You got a Frisbee there? What you think this is a game!?!” He was furious. Here I am thirty one years old, more than half a lifetime away from that moment and his anger is still stuck to me. (Makes you think about all your anger out there, stuck to other people.)

I sometimes think of myself in that moment where I cringed and stammered, “No”. I think of myself now older and calm, unthreatened, saying, “Of course it’s a game & not a very good one at that. Except running the power buffer, that is in fact a good game and I hope it’s my turn again soon.”

What was Leroy really angry about? He was a fifty five year old man managing a custodial crew made up of seminary students, lifelong custodians, and the teenage children of faculty (I wasn’t the only one). I remember an older employee saying to me with resentment, “You wouldn’t have this job if it wasn’t for your father.” Talk about an introduction to the horizon of possibility. My summer fling, that I of course had no interest in, was a stopping point for so many of my fellow workers, and sometimes they actively resented me for what I embodied. Mostly we just got our work done, found a quiet place (unoccupied dorm room) and played a little four point pitch while we waited for the floor wax to dry. Cards: always the game within the game, teaching both the luck of the draw and the skill to play what you got.


Monday, September 27, 2004

Today is the first day of the academic session here at work, an intense day. I’ve been here since seven thirty. The roofers, who were here over the weekend, burnt out the third floor air conditioner by shorting out its power source. They also left a fist size hole in the roof, being roofers that does seem antithetical to their avowed purpose. Then Orlando, great name for a heating and cooling repair man (woman?) tracked roofing tar through the building as he attempted to fix said air conditioner. I had to call Andy to fix the hole that the critter control guys left in the siding, Steve to clean up after Orlando. You get the idea, fighting a losing battle. I just want to go to sleep. I am still hurting from Saturday, and whatever weird things flying does to your system. Minnesota one weekend and Dallas the next, no wonder I’m exhausted.

I have been offered a puppy named Rufio with cage etc. that someone else has paid the adoption fees for. I am going to meet him after work and am just not sure if this is such a good idea, but the no string puppy thing may claim me. My boss Deby seems on the verge of quitting. I am out of fish food and quite broke. I brought my change up to the center to cash in for bills. I get paid Friday, but this will be a long week of pasta dishes. I would like to wax rhapsodic over what a nice weekend I had, but right now I am exhausted. I did get the pictures into the on line photo storage thing – www.photobucket.com – my album name is smallhatmonkey and the guest password is “spleen” I think. The most recent album is Octoberfest, but feel free to browse – there’s a ton of stuff on there. As to my question about what to do, we opted for The Modern in Fort Worth, a fabulous Museum which I highly recommend. More later…


Saturday, September 25, 2004

Welcome to a web savvy pre-party sleepy afternoon. I am in Texas, somewhere between Dallas and Fort Worth. Amy and Brian are very nice and with Brian’s American Airlines employment as our avatar we flew first class from St. Louis last night, cocktails and sandwiches with our hot towel hand rub for the rock bottom price of eighty eight dollars apiece (round trip). Amy, Angela and I went to pick up the keg – forty minutes away – as we are in what’s called a dry city – while Brian cooked brats, sour kraut, etc. for the seventy or so expected. The house smells of cabbage and apfel strudel. The keg place was in the epicenter of the strip club district, where condoms and corvettes are ubiquitous on the flat Texas backdrop of hill-less homogeneity. We ate at What-a-Burger and seeped seediness all the way home.

I knew I wasn’t sure about Texas, but with such a possibility as a “dry city” my resolve to move further north has strengthened. The dryness of this locality was actually repealed last month (now beer and wine are allowed but no Gin), but I think the keg had been ordered by then – “Spaten” imported from Munich Germany – someone is doing something right.

Karl to Amy as the party plans are revealed, “If every event needs someone to appreciate it, I am your man.”

One of Amy’s jobs is that she’s a professional event planner. Yesterday she hosted a building dedicated in the name of Shuttle Astronaut Kalpana Chawla, at which Kalpana’s father spoke. They had one semi credible bomb threat involving a green van that was going to blow up everyone at the event, but that mystery machine never materialized from hoax land.

Interruption: blog tutorial – I will write more later, but in the meantime I have a question about what we should do tomorrow with our post-party pre-flight day:

1. Fort Worth Modern Art Museum
2. Dallas Art Museum
3. Nearby odd temple to which we would need to bring food donations in order to tour (Twinkies (now bankrupt) or whole grains?)
4. Bar/movie theater with drinks served in and not next to theater
5. The Cowgirl Museum
6. The Cowboy Museum – a more serious museum with Remingtons etc.
7. The Grassy Knoll and associated JFK got blown away but all this kitsch is here to stay.
8. Gondola ride in the park?
9. Aquarium – with built in rain forest!!!!!!!
10. Other things that we haven’t thought of that you who know this part of Texas could suggest.


Friday, September 24, 2004

Angela and I are flying out to Dallas tonight to go to this party.

So Not much posting over the weekend I assume, but we’ll regale you with tales upon our return. Someone told me last night (a regular reader) that I occasionally write like Garrison Keillor – this was an apt criticism of my more elegiac writing. I do have a maudlin streak about a mile wide so I will try and work on that so as not to drag you all through whatever sentimental muck I might be musing about.


Thursday, September 23, 2004

Recipe: Two parts experience to one part education, a dash of bitters muddled with sugar. Serve on the rocks or blended according to taste and tolerance.

Mostly when I sit down to write I have something in mind to write about, current events in my life if nothing else, but this week since my return from St. Paul I have been feeling kind of blank. Exhausted is really the term. Just enough energy to make it through my workday and that’s about it, I’ve also been too busy to blog at work as I am trying to get that promised October raise in place. Well, “current events” is at least a place to start.

Tuesday night Paul and I took the land yacht over to Mary’s to meet her sister, her daughter (both visiting from California), and to have Paul see all Mary’s unpacked finery. Have we talked about Mary’s collectables? Bob summed up her overall theme best as forties nostalgia for the twenties. I hesitate to engage in further description, as it really deserves a focused effort with photographs etc. I think I’ll wait until Mary has a house warming party and the pictures from that will serve double duty – drunken follies overlaid on a background of delicate and not so delicate Kitsch.

I did drink a few small glasses of Makers Mark with a Sam Adams back (I shouted Eureka when the addition of an ice cube did not cause the glass to overflow (that’s a little history of science “determine mass through liquid displacement” humor there for you)), and even threw down a shot of tequila or two as sister Margaret had boosted the percent alcohol of Mary’s home bar by significant percentage points. Brad & Beth joined us for our drink and think, they now live a stones throw from Mary, and we all went out to sit in the van, contemplating the road trips to come. Contemplating the future is what I’ve been up to. My brother Phil self describes as being very future focused. He’s considered getting a degree in future studies, a field that the University of Minnesota has pioneered.

The Tao Te Ching advises that the future is as empty as the past, and hope is as hollow as fear. But even still, admitting as tacit the ecclesiastical psalmists assertion that there is and can be nothing new “under the sun” while also giving ear to Ezra Pound’s asylum dictum “Make it new”, we must accept that a change of semantic circumstance does us all good from time to time. I am sure all my friends and readers would agree that this papa needs a new pair of shoes (How many metaphors can this mixologist blend into one psychic cocktail?). So to quote from William Burroughs, “Let us all scan the horizons of depravity. This is the space age and we are here to go!” To the stacks good readers, we will sip of The Futurist Manifesto and ponder the lunacy of youth (Marinetti is awfully close to Marionette).


Wednesday, September 22, 2004

I have am still worn out from my trip and have not the desire to blog in detail, however I do feel I should share the gifts of my nephew and nieces who had me in tears for several hours with the following:

If you have a sophomoric sensibility as I do I suggest you spend several hours here.

Or on a par with Itchy and scratchy.

Or just plain odd.

At the very least you must get a taste of this.


Monday, September 20, 2004

Home again, home again, jigidy jig. J.F. Sebastian is sure happy to see me and I smell like Jason’s dog Othello & Grace’s dog Toby - so there is the added bonus of canine olfactory postcards from Kansas City Kansas and St. Paul Minnesota. This is turning out to be a year full of road trips. I rolled out of St. Paul around eight am and just got home at 11:30 pm, so that’s a full day of ass hauling. The best roadside attraction was Boondox Iowa and the last boondoggle café. I really need to start carrying a camera now that I am photo blogger. I passed a car dealership in Ames Iowa that had one word on the marquee: “Karl.” That was an inexplicable howdy from the universe. I will put “Universe” up on my marquee tomorrow, after I find a marquee, buy it, and load it into my huge frickin van. The van handled great. I got to spend a few hours with six-week-old Triton Emily in KC (after getting lost on my way in) from five to seven thirty. Jason let me hold and feed her while we got caught up. I am an uncle once again. I am home, I am safe, I am exhausted, more later.


Sunday, September 19, 2004

I had a powerful dream last night. I dreamt my ex R was living in my parent’s house in St. Louis and that she’d been living there month to month without signing a new lease. In the dream the roles were reversed and it was me who had moved out. I came over to assure her that I did not have the lease, that it had been almost exactly two years since we separated and she must have signed a new lease of her own in order to keep living there. She wanted me to help her look for the old lease and while we looked we gradually got over all the tension that’s built up between us and we remembered how much we used to enjoy each other’s company. Oddly enough in the dream she was involved with Karen’s boyfriend John, who spent much of the dream on my parent’s old couch watching football. If I can’t have reconciliation in the actual world it’s nice to have a dream world in which I can work out my shit. It is almost exactly two years since we split. She moved out in early October and Brad moved in to cover her share of the rent on the tenth.

I stayed up until 3:30 last night discussing possible theories on the formation of the universe and the meaning and implications of discreet consciousness. We talked about the newer theory that attempts to include the five competing string theories by suggesting that there are twelve dimensions of which all the other mathematically possible dimensions are a subset. Into this mix we threw Pascal’s wager (which Phil has always seen as cynical and I somehow have not – perhaps it was the hopefulness to which it was employed by Kurt’s father in Kurt’s funeral sermon), intelligent design, and the relative utility of confirmation class for children who need moral grounding to reject later in life as evolution becomes increasingly obvious. Phil’s pastor, “What do you think of evolution?” Phil, “That’s how God did it.”

My niece Erica spent three years in confirmation class and at the final one on one meeting with the pastor last year she told him, “You know what? I can’t go through with this. I don’t believe any of it.” Erica kicks ass. So what then are the implications for Sarah, who starts confirmation class today? An open question, but I do believe it’s Sarah’s open question, to wrestle with as do all of us who were raised in a paradigm that most of the world was done with two hundred years ago.


Saturday, September 18, 2004

I am having a wonderful time here in gorgeously temperate Minnesota. The flight couldn’t have been better and it took less than an hour from St. Louis. It was a clear night and I had window seat so flying north from Lambert I was able to watch the Missouri and Mississippi rivers wind their way through patches of population as the sun set and the drink cart approached. I had taken a cab from my house to the metro station, and then it was light rail into the airport where I got my e ticket and cleared security in under ten minutes. I bonded with the bartender next to my gate and wolfed a French Dip sandwich before departure. In flight I read Tom Robbins and had my first gin and sierra mist courtesy of the pocket flask. Not bad. The Minneapolis airport reminds me of the substation on the way to the moon in Kubric’s 2001. There are automated trams that connect the various gates to baggage claim and a calm British voice directs you to your proper destination. It’s a very modern airport, like Atlanta’s. I found my brother easily and a few fellow travelers were amused by our greeting as of all my siblings we are the most physically similar. There is no doubt that we are brothers meeting and could really be fraternal twins were it not for the fourteen odd years which separate our births.

The tiki spirit has awoken in Phil and he has displayed for me an admirable collection of fine and faded Hawaiian shirts worthy of our Polynesian childhood. Thusly clad in clashing apparel we meandered back to St. Paul with me at the wheel of my new – there ain’t nothing Mini about me – van. It handles exactly like the truck Mary and I drove back from California. It is as Jerry rigged as all things tend to be and fits like a glove. There are dents and rattles and the power steering fluid cap has been replaced by duct tape and one of my niece Sarah’s hair ties, but as a hunk of metal goes it’s well worth the asking price. If you recall my psychic reading way back at the Gay Pride Festival, I was told that I would take two important trips this fall and I puzzled over what the second trip would be. This is it.

I’ll have to gloss the rest as I’ve just been told that steaks will be on in ten.

Last night was Hot Tub, Physics, and Philosophy with beer & Mudslides (what is it with my brothers and mudslide fixings?) and several hours of Teen Aqua Force on DVD with my nieces and nephews. Morning brought coffee with Grace and the gaggle of Martin’s slumber party friends (I slept most of the night on the living room floor with the D&D crew of Steve and Lance). I was shown many hysterical websites which I will soon provide links to here, the comic genius of which may dwarf all my previous links.

Phil and I went to the University of Minnesota (as I may be attending here next fall) to tour and spent several hours on a quality wander which included the alumni center and the museum – which is free on Saturdays offered up a swath of Picaso and brethren, an impressive collection. The Museum overlooks a relatively narrow Mississippi and has campus facilities on each shore, divided from one another like the Casino River Boats of St. Louis, but the competition is departmental rather than strictly financial. Surprisingly, it’s a much larger university than Wash U and has exerted a gravitational pull. Phil suggested that I register to vote while I am here so I can get in state in the fall. Not a bad idea, but if I get an assistantship tuition would possibly be waved anyway. That’s the goal.

We stopped in at my nephew Martin’s work, a pool supply store, to convince him to take tomorrow off so we can all go to the Renaissance Festival together. I’ve never been to a ren fair so that should be fun. We returned to the house to snorkel in the swimming pool, warm up in the hot tub, shoot several games of eight ball on the new table and retire for steaks and such. Speaking of which I must away to fly the flag of conspicuous consumption.


Friday, September 17, 2004

Typical work widget for your pleasure:

Hi Karl,

Please contact OPTP at optp.com and inquire about wholesale pricing on
foam rollers, videos, books, etc.

Have you ordered Ma Rollers?



I have opened an account with OPTP in the Healing Arts Center’s name and they are sending us a distributor’s package with wholesale, retail, and professional pricing structures. As to the Ma Rollers I had an interesting conversation with the owner of Edcat Enterprises in Florida, we get a number of our posters and the Theracanes from them and they were our source for Ma Rollers. The Ma Company was run by an elderly couple in New Hampshire and they decided to close up shop and retire the product as well. Edcat went so far as to attempt to buy the Ma band name and take over production, but the couple wasn’t interested in selling. As of now there is no source for Ma Rollers according to Edcat.

A quick google search revealed that the New Hampshire couple did sell the business to man in Ohio and that production has always occurred in India and entered the US via shipment to New Hampshire. The retired couple has moved back to India and do occasionally ship to a Philip Wilson, who is currently in Florida at a spa show. Every three to six months they send a “skiff” of Ma Rollers to Phil that are apparently of varying quality (they’ve gotten some with worm holes and some that weren’t properly lathed). But if we want to sell Ma rollers it’s a matter of negotiating a good price with Phil and then, “getting in line to receive what comes off the skiff”.



Thursday, September 16, 2004

Ask and ye shall receive, right? I am flying out Friday night to St. Paul Minnesota to sit in a hot tub. While there I will buy my brother’s 1996 Chrysler Town and Country Mini Van – the Cadillac of mini vans according to Car and Driver Magazine. I will then lounge and pontificate until returning via the van on Monday. I took Monday off work bowlers, so expect me not at the Saratoga. Mary Beth has dubbed the new ride the Breeder Mobile – not sure if the name will stick, but the road trip implications certainly hang quite nicely on this yard sale shoppers dream and just in time for October Fest in the Missouri Wine Country!


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

As per usual I was exhausted after work yesterday. My job is a multitasking job where I am generally working on at least three projects while taking select phone calls. The calls introduce new projects and so I spend my day constantly reprioritizing what needs to be done first. I went home and got a long hot shower. Around seven thirty I was called back into work to serve as a body for the Shiatsu class “final exam” as the intended body did not show. Post Shiatsu I had enough energy to watch part of Akira Kirasawa’s Dreams, move my Cichlids from their ten gallon to a new twenty gallon set up, play a game of chess with Paul, and read some in my new Tom Robbins Book – Fierce Creatures Home From Hot Climates. I got to sleep around one, but still as a result of the Shiatsu I feel deeply rested today. I dreamt I was a the base player in a basement band – Eddie Van Halen was sitting to my right at one point and he was talking about wanting to buy a new eight string base with a special kind of pick up, but he was conflicted, he was going to be in KC this weekend and wanted to buy about a thousand dollars worth of cocaine. I nodded it commiseration, “It can get expensive when you’re buying for a lot of people.” “Right” As a non-musician I find this dream to be doubly odd. Unfortunately most of the convoluted plot faded in my rush to get to work on time otherwise I might be able to tell you how I got there.


Tuesday, September 14, 2004

I arrived early to the Chamber of Commerce luncheon today – early enough to watch one of the chamber members fill his Styrofoam coffee cup with two beers and put the lid on. “Well Done!” thought I. He’s one of those big firm handshake guys and is a personality on one of the local radio stations. He had suggested at the last meeting that we sponsor a Maplewood pub crawl ending with an actual crawl up the steps of the Saratoga. It was at his behest that I tried the Maplewoody Long Island Ice Tea at the Maya Café the other night. I am still in my sheep’s clothing among these folk, but his wolfish behavior may yet tempt me into embarrassing situations of libational libidination. Maplewood after hours is this Thursday night and I have to ask myself, “Do I want to get drunk with these people?”


Monday, September 13, 2004

And then I sold Marshall Faulk 1,000 dollars in massage equipment. The usual odd day.


Feelin the squeeze. I sent off for application materials to Iowa City, Northwestern, and Columbia in Chicago today. I took my car in for inspection and had the following conversation.

Ann, “Karl, Jim from the garage on the phone.”

Karl, “Jim, what’s it look like.”

Jim, “Do you want to shoot it or should I? Just to pass the inspection we’re talking 500 dollars with various problems. I fixed the rear tire, but the front one isn’t fixable so you’re looking at a new tire there. If I go after the leak in the radiator you’re looking at $255 for that to start, since I have to take out the water pump to get at where the leak is and it could get a lot more expensive from there. How long to you plan to keep this car?”

Karl, “Don’t do anything else to it, I’ll come in and get it in a bit. I guess I’ll shoot it.”

From the ticket:
Left Front turn signal out
Wiper ripped
Right front tire cord showing
Front brake pads 2/32 rivited
Left front brake hose cracked
Rear linings 0/32 rivited

Three years, 2,000 dollars, not bad. Maybe I can get a hundred dollars for it on a trade in. With two hundred in the bank and unpaid utilities looks like I will be getting more exercise than I had anticipated.


Sunday, September 12, 2004

When I was a young man in my early teens I lived in a small town in rural Wisconsin, Brillion. I suffered there from extreme boredom and I longed for challenges and new experiences that just weren’t available to me. Thankfully I had some great teachers who gave me extra projects outside the scope of my classes and allowed me to stretch. For two summers my mother was kind enough to take me up to the University of Oshkosh where they had summer science courses for kids like me. I took an astronomy class one summer and earth science, I guess you’d call it geology, the next. I was thinking now as I got my morning shower about how I used to want to expand my experiential horizons in any direction I could. I would turn the heat way up or way down to see how hot or cold I could stand it. In Shinto religious practice this sort of behavior is called gyo and either involves a hot spring or a mountain steam. I wasn’t being a masochist. I was trying in a small way to see what I was capable of. To grow we need to set the bar higher for ourselves. To envision something which might be beyond our grasp.

After I wrote yesterday’s blog I went to a street fair in Maplewood put on by the Schlafley Brewing Company. The music and beer were great. The art was great, and then the universe gave me a gift in the form of Missy. Missy is not someone I see or talk to regularly, but our academic and professional lives are intertwined in ways that someone in the next life will need to explain to me. We met in college and shared friends, considered dating early on, but I was way to much of a flirt and a jerk and all of those things that I continue to be. I had applied to teach English in Korea and backed out when the Korean economy tanked in 1997. Sometime around then she went to Korea. She came back and entered the graduate program in English at Truman State a year before I did.

When I began teaching we shared an office. Upon graduation she received a yearlong full position as an instructor in the program, a year later I had the position and got her office, the year after me Jen had it and got my office (with Chet Breed). Missy moved to St. Louis and took a position at Meramec Community College. When I started at Meramec we not only shared an office, we shared a desk. In my blog yesterday I mentioned finding out that my supervisor Rich had died, I found out from Missy at her wedding to our fellow grad student Brian, with whom I bought the bus that you occasionally see on this blog. It was his idea.

So yesterday I make this promise to myself to take the universe’s next invitation and get back in the game. The universe responds through the cunning use of ordered chaos to serve Missy up and have her say, “I’m looking at graduate programs so that I can get the Ph.D. done before we have kids.”

I have been resisting returning for the Ph.D. on the following grounds: I can get a job now (that I wasn’t sure I wanted on the rare cancer from stress tip) with the degree I have already. Graduate school will cost billions of dollars. I already am in debt for my limited use brainpan to the tune of sixty thousand or so, which eats up a little less than half my monthly income. I will never make a salary as a teacher that would allow me to pay those debts off in a single lifetime.

What say you universe to these fine rationalizations and doubts?
Last night I was playing poker with the gang (I sure get around don’t I) and we get to this round of Texas hold-um where the cards that the table shares are an ace, a four, and a three. I have the ace in my hand for pair. Tyler and I are the only ones left in the game and he raises the pot three dollars. I try to read the look in his eye and my confidence breaks. I figure he has it and I fold. He bluffed me free and clear. He had nothing and bought the pot on confidence alone. Fuck the money, I’m all in cause I got an ace in the hole.

Ok universe here’s the thing, it is clear that I am intellectually half-baked. I have some good flavors brewing, but I am not done. I did not stay in the oven long enough to really know my ass from my elbow and if I really want to test the limits of this body I don’t need to teach, I need to get back in there and cook. Are you listening Jen? Chicago? Madison or St. Louis for that matter? Let’s go get minted. I am something I haven’t been in a very long time. I am excited. I’m going to go get a Ph.D.

(But first I need to fix my car.)


Saturday, September 11, 2004

My friends have asked that I write something more real, honest, and from the heart.

Thinking about the towers.

Modernist assumption: “You get at the Universal through the personal”

I went up in the towers once – it must have been July of 1999. I was in New York for three days as part of a month long academic summer program through Wake Forest University in Winston Salem NC, sponsored by and held at the Reynolda Museum of American Art. http://www.reynoldahouse.org/

On our three-day tour we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. The director of the program, Nick Bragg, put his hand on the cables of the bridge and encouraged us to do so too, to feel the vibration of the city, the pulse of life. During our visit we hit all the major museums, caught Brian Dennehy in Death of a Salesman, did a walking tour of cathedrals, trump tower, and of course we went up in the twin towers.

This was after the first bombing, so security was very tight. I expected the view from the top to be like that of the Sears Tower in Chicago, which sways slightly and has forced me from the top with nausea. Not so the tower we had ascended. It was also open to the air.

I wish my memories were clearer. I remember a slightly balding security guard checking our bags in the lobby. He was especially concerned about Errol Claus’ (the historian) 35 mm camera. I remember walking past Windows On The World, the restaurant that we heard so much about in ongoing NPR coverage. I rode down last with Nick and Errol after everyone else had left the top; places with gravity tend to hold me and I felt something there, seeing the potent symbols of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, so small beneath us. I know what I was thinking about then, I was thinking about my brother Kris.

My brother Kris is a pilot for Midwest Express and he is often in NY flying his routes or doing training. One day in the nineteen nineties he woke up before dawn in a New York hotel and made his way down to the Statue of Liberty. He touched the statue and he put his toe in the water there. He then raced to the airport and flew his route back to Milwaukee, where he sped back to his house for a shower and a fresh travel bag. Back in the pilot’s seat, he flew a different route across the West and landed in Santa Barbara, where my brother Andy was living at the time. He got there with enough time to make it down to the beach and stick his toe in the Pacific Ocean before the sunset of that single day.

Kris’ America is a vast place seen daily from a vantage not unlike that of the towers, but small enough to bookend with his big toe and a little salt water. I know he went often to watch the towers be removed, as often as he was in NY. As a pilot, grounded that day, his link to this tragedy is deep. For my brother Andy, his twin boys Nick and Jake, were born on September 12th 2001. So as is often the way: out of tragedy, Joy.

I was driving Ruthann to work when we first heard a cut in on NPR that a plane had struck one of the towers. We had one car between us and had to do quite a lot of driving that first summer in St. Louis, trying to make the transition to the cost and pace of city life. I can’t help thinking that all those hours in the car together kept us together and healthy. When we got the second car we lost that time and lost sight of each other.

I remember imagining as NPR told us what was known, that the impact must have been from a small single prop plane like the one that had hit the Empire State Building. It wasn’t until much later, while in the waiting room of the Jiffy Lube having my oil changed, that I began to understand what was happening. There was a small television with the ongoing coverage and the guys in the garage kept coming in asking for updates.

The next day in my classroom at Meramec we did information triage. We wheeled in a big TV set and I explained what was being said and gave a history such as I knew it then of the events that had led up to this attack, which for the record have nothing to do with Muslim hatred of our “freedoms” and every thing to do with what the CIA has been up to for the past few decades.

For the next few weeks we would start every class with “This is what I heard, but I don’t know what it means.” These classes were critical-thinking-in-writing classes where we were looking at shifts in perspective, paradigm shifts. I tried to make everything that was happening clear and I also tried to use that rare moment when the shared paradigm shifts, to teach the most important lesson I could teach: that the paradigm is always shifting and we always have room to grow in knowledge and compassion.

I haven’t had much compassion for myself of late, and I haven’t been growing in knowledge like a reed either. I’ve been stuck. I hit a wall that semester at Meramec, maybe September 11th was part of it, I don’t know.

I was discovering that I couldn’t make a living as a teacher, at least not as an adjunct one. Several of my colleagues were battling rare cancers and I began to think of their diseases as linked to the stress of the profession, the reward for their struggle was an early death. Rich came into my office to ask what teaching schedule I wanted for the coming term and I said, “You know what, I don’t.” I shook his hand and went to tell my boss Greg that I would not be returning. Rich passed away in the middle of that next session from one of those rare cancers and none of my colleagues called. I heard about his passing some months after the funeral from a mutual friend.

The sense of loss I felt at turning my back on my students and my calling ultimately led in part to the demise of my relationship. That hurt brought up older hurts and I began to slide. Here’s the thing. I have a broken heart. I’m not really sure how it got that way, but it is that way, broken. It could have been something simple and sad and far off in my past like the Citizen Cane rosebud sled as metaphor for a lost childhood with dad or something like a love affair gone bad, or twenty such events all added together. I’m not sure that the original cause matters all that much, at least not as much as the effects and the key effect is that I don’t really live in my life, it’s more like something I’m watching rather than something I actually participate in.

Even though I have a wonderful caring and supportive girlfriend and more friends than you could shake a stick at, I don’t get to enjoy these things fully because I’m not all here. I have my foot in another room and I use humor as the shield to keep anyone who wants to from joining me in this other room. I suppose the other room is safer, in the other room it doesn’t matter if people leave me, or if I chase them away. It doesn’t matter that the innocent religious faith of my youth did not survive my education, it doesn’t matter that people die and someday I will too and I have no idea what that means. The thing is, I am sick of living in this other room. I want to live my life fully. I want to come back into life, to stop being afraid, and to answer the call as it were. I have been resisting the pull of life, which has done its best to get me to come out and play while I have stood in the doorway waiting for the right game, the game doesn’t matter, it’s the playing that does.


Friday, September 10, 2004

What’s old is killing me, so I need something new. A new direction… or at least a new directive. Jen has put out a call, thrown the proverbial gauntlet, so what do we think of this as a fictive start… A character named Ellen.

Ellen had emerged from a Midwest stew pot of the liberal arts, hell bent on getting paid for the folly of a well-rounded education. Her knowledge base was largely deemed irrelevant by all prospective headhunters, but the skills she amassed getting it were just what the doctor had ordered.

What do we really know about Ellen, what concerns her, and the blue ice that might fall from the flush toilet of a passing plane, to entangle her in misadventure? Is the universe at stake, a nation, or just one person? Has something been stolen or found? We know that Ellen was once the world’s fastest typist; that thoughts could emerge from her fingers mere nanoseconds from their first appearance on her tabula rasa. However, she has long since burned up her fascia with corporate minutia, letters, faxes, training manuals and the like – the dictated ramblings of the wealthy and powerful typed at superhuman speeds and leaving tiny tares and scarring on the inner lining of her tendon’s sheathing. Now the one thing she can’t do is type. Her fast typing fortune squandered on specialists, she is forced to wander like Qui Chang Kane.

As our greatest strength can often become our greatest weakness Ellen is cursed with the curse of non-repeating – the more spontaneous her motion the less her pain. The more she repeats a task, from folding laundry to operating a drill press, the greater she suffers; until her arms hang limp at her sides, useless. Her nemesis is an abstraction: habit.

Does it have hook? Do we now have an image of Ellen? Do we care what might befall this lugubrious lass? Can the most habituated man alive take on such a spontaneous critter as Ellen must needs be? Comments please (or should I throw this one back try something else)?


I am beginning to think that astrology.com has me pegged:

Dear Karl,
Here is your horoscope
for Friday, September 10:

It's party time. Plan an impromptu gathering at your place, and expect neighbors, siblings and lots of familiar faces to show up. You're all in the mood for laughter, lively conversation and even a few theatrics.

I know this sounds extremely unlikely (cause it’s what we did last night) but BJ is in town and we’re all going to be meeting at shoot-a-rack just as soon as we can all put our work days away.


Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Thursday Edit:

I should have written this a.m., I had/have a great deal on my mind and it seemed then, in the shower, that I had the words to express it. I just ran out of time and then work has been a circus since I got here. This moment – 2:13 – is the first break I’ve had from meetings and phone calls. I just feel work worn and there are still several hours to go. It’s 2:42 now. Another wave hit just as I was starting to type this.

Mary Beth is making dinner tonight, pasta of some sort. And last night Paul made us a wonderful dinner of pecan encrusted chicken with crisp green beans and various nut breads, olives, Insalata Caprice salad, and a desert of coffee with heavy cream – just his way of saying thank you for the month of hospitality. Here’s the thing, I feel guilty about what a great time I’ve been having lately – perhaps my true lasting hangover is Lutheran guilt – a feeling that I don’t deserve to be happy and have joy lead into joy the way my life has been of late – even the sad things have been edged with joy. At the wedding just past I spent most of the evening in the proximity of my ex. She made it clear that she did not want to interact with me and so we spent the evening dancing around one another. While this is clearly a sad state of affairs the upside would be that I am no longer miserable in a disfuctional relationship hurting and being hurt by someone that I still love. She looks good and is making a new life for herself in a new city, I wish her well with every part of me.

I dreamt last night about stealing cars – it fit in somehow with The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Kundera, which I started rereading yesterday, which fits also with the Tom Robbins book I just finished. I feel like I’ve changed somehow recently, that my heart is somehow lighter and my moods are somehow softer. Angela’s quote of the day, “For someone who randomly woke up at four in the morning and has been up since then, you’re in an awfully good mood, I love how silly you are.” The universe has sent me three telegrams in the past week – each arrived with an intervening day and each came from an unrelated sender. They all said “lighten up” and I think I am beginning to.


Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Dear Dalai Lama, I am not a super happy camper, coukd you slide a little of that advice my way...

The purpose of all the major religious traditions is not to construct big temples on the outside, but to create temples of goodness and compassion inside, in our hearts.

-His Holiness The Dalai Lama,

So I should cultivate compassion for myself and for others?

If you can cultivate the right attitude, your enemies are your best spiritual teachers because their presence provides you with the opportunity to enhance and develop tolerance, patience and understanding.

-His Holiness the Dalai Lama


"What we must decide is how we are valuable rather than how valuable we are."
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Right, ok thanks boys I needed that.


Owww, I went to bed at 9:30 last night in comfortable exhaustion. I normally try to pack a lot into my weekends but this past one was off the chart. We started Friday with a ball game, Cardinals Vs. Dodgers

At the back of the ball park there is one food stand where you can get a whole turkey leg for four bucks. Only one stand in the whole park serves these. I hope it survives the transition to the next stadium, but I live in fear that I’ll be left with only peanuts and beer

After the game we went out in the Central West End to Llywelyn’s and Dressel’s for victory beer and to see if we could catch up with Dan and Yumi who had been out in that part of the town while we were at the game. The second floor of Dressel’s is a nice place to sip a pint with a good cigar.

Turns out we missed them, but they hadn’t run out of beer yet so we made the best of it.

Saturday was the day of the wedding and involved much circuitous driving which seemed to have the intersection of Brentwood and 1-70 as its’ epicenter. W went through that light from various directions somewhere on the order of ten times. I had gone garage sale surfing in the am and then went with Jen, Dereck, Bob and Angela to get the girls’ hair done, get lunch, get them checked in at the Cheshire (where Bob and I wandered off to discover this taxidermist’s triumph).

It’s an important tradition in America that guests at a wedding bite the bear in the labyrinthine hotel of the happy couple.

Jen and Dereck were in the same hotel as Dan and Yumi. They got a suite complete with hot tub and mirrored bed (the Bordello suite).

Enough! Show us the dress (says Beth).

After the wedding, which was sweet while also being frighteningly Calvinist, we were well received at one of the best wedding meals in my memory.

From the reception we went to Saratoga, which is well documented already on this page (and I left my camera in the car to focus on bowling). When we closed the Saratoga out at 1:30 it was back to the Cheshire for some three am drinking

Bob, Angela, and I caught a cab back home around 3:30 and got a good seven hours of sleep before heading over to Mary’s for brunch and then back here for a Labor Day BBQ that turned into a dance party of epic proportions. Suffice it to say that Tom Jones had his way with all of us and my floorboards are loosened from several hours of bounce.

Monday was the long slow goodbye in which we further hardened our arteries with the left over brats and whittled the afternoon like our younger selves, playing video games and Risk. Perhaps more stories will emerge between Jen and myself as we hang our newly minted memories up to dry, but now you have the basic structure onto which we’ll stretch such garments as we’re able, cause we were ridden hard and put away wet.


Sunday, September 05, 2004

Notes from the dweebs in Thebes:

Luxurious, luxuriate, Luxor land of smooth milk and sweet honey (not Canna, that was a bait and switch).

There’s an interesting thing about parties, they have a mind of their own. You can announce a start time for a party, but if you’ve picked one with the logic of Aristotle, the will of the world will remind you that all good things will happen as they may in their own sweet time. The air smells like rain. I’ve just awakened from a nap, into which I had fallen to assist in the digestion a fabulous late brunch at Mary’s: breakfast burritos with all of the fixins and them some. Flour tortillas from the warm stove acting as edible oven mitts for the scrambled eggs and sausage stew, habanera hot sauce, fresh chopped cabbage and grated cheddar, cherry tomatoes bleeding little seeds, coffee and juice, fruit salad with melon and apple, Spanish rice and cast iron potato wedges.

She has transformed her home into Kitsch heaven and our group of friends explored her manifold displays like children in a pop culture candy store. It’s 4:30. I suggested yesterday that our BBQ would begin at five. I put the meat in marinade at eleven or so – thin cut flank stakes, sixteen of them, soaking in tequila and lemon juice with onion, garlic, and black pepper kneaded into them. I have brats enough to feed a horde of hungry Germans and kraut enough to tempt the Kaiser to doff his pointed hat and bite into the juice of the well-turned link. Life is for the living. I am calm. I am a little sad. I am sober. Most of all I am sated at the well of Luxor and all life’s blessings flow. Ah well, off to knock one back in Karnak. I’ve many pictures and tales to share of wedding fun, but today I’ve guests on the way – and a party I will start in just nine short minutes – logical or no, I’ve got to go.


Friday, September 03, 2004

Whenever I think about marriage and relationships in general I think about
what a gamble they are. This of course makes me think of gambling in general
and in specific gambling with Dan and Yumi. Here they are, the couple on the
right, in this early evening scene of one of our “the tradition continues”
poker nights.

Paul, who is staying with me right now, gambled on love as well,

How could you not love a cute guy like that? His three year anniversary is
next weekend I believe.

The closest I have come to a wedding is standing up in one, here at my
brother’s wedding in Santa Barbara.

Bond, Karl Bond. Maybe I got into the Bond movies too much as a kid.

High school was like that,

College was like that,

Women were my downfall, especially when they knocked me down for being such a

I had more of mug for it then, people projecting all kinds of things onto me,

But I’m older and wiser now, and I can see that when trees fall on your house
like the fell on Bob’s, it’s good to have someone like Dan around who you can
count on to throw them off,

so we can cut them up and share all that concentrated sunlight over a fire in
Bob’s Chimnia.

On Jen’s blog she reminisced about our days at the Dukum Inn, with Yumi as
demure pool shark,

I recall plenty of good moments we shared beyond that bar. You could say that
in our lives at that moment we were all on the same bus, headed in the same
direction (like up to Iowa to visit Rachel).

whether we took that bus camping with Dan’s old car for Wallmart beer runs,

or shared or collective creative talents

in any case I look back on that time fondly as we all do, and look forward to
celebrating both the present and the future with Dan and Yumi at their wedding.


I had a plan about what I was going to write this morning and we’ll get there eventually, but right now I have come to the realization that I have fish-ues(issues relating to fish). I was on my way to work and saw a sign for a weekend long garage sale beginning this morning, I diverted and found myself confronted with a neigh empty wallet and a gaggle of fish tanks; each priced higher than the five dollars in my possession. The haggling gods of “please take my crap” were on my side and I walked with yet another twenty gallon tank – with hood and light no less-for five dollars. I had been concerned that my cichlids would soon outgrown the ten gallon in which they currently languish – I had removed them from the twenty five gallon so they wouldn’t eat the Pleco that I bought to clean said tank, but then the cichlids did seem happy enough so I started buying other fish for the twenty five gallon. So anyway I will eventually move the cichlids up to the new tank, unless I should give it to Dan & Yumi for their wedding….nahhhhhhh.

Dinner last night was great. Ben and Lori are charming and Lori actually worked under Mary Beth for several years at Blueberry Hill, so the six degrees thing again as per usual with Mary Beth – our lives have overlapped many times as is generally common in St. Louis, which Mark Twain once described as the worlds largest small town, I find this to be true over and over again. Maya Café is a new favorite. I had the maple woody, a long island ice tea with a local flair, and I think that its safe to say that Angela’s Mojito knocked her on her ass. Good food, good company, stiff drinks, and then I had to go back into work at eleven pm since the night girl didn’t lock the building and the owner didn’t have his keys on him. Ah well, near and far, high and low, light and dark define each other, so too with work and play.


Thursday, September 02, 2004

Wahhhhhhhhhhh, this is a noise of pleasure. I woke up before the alarm at 5:50 and checked to make sure Paul was up. Paul arrived Tuesday and is staying with Mary Beth and I much of this month while he does a rotation at Barnes with the ultimate goal of getting of full residence in dermo-pathology. With Paul comes the return of dog Zoe, increasing the animals in house and reinforcing the sentiment that I want to get another dog. I went downstairs and tapped into the coffee IV that Mary Beth had hung just a little before, the French Roast with its tiny scrubbing bubbles worked the red wine and late night reading from my bedraggled body and I got some reading and dog walking in before work.

Work has been calm after yesterday’s nonsense and I got Dan and Yumi (and Brad’s Mom Peggy and myself) in for massage. Dan and Yumi are friends from grad school who are getting married this weekend, I haven’t seen either of them in years. After their massage I ran by the house to let the dogs out and then I met them up at Mai Lee for lunch – always fabulous. I had to eat and run to get back for my massage, this will sound odd but as the students need to get their hours in I sometimes literally have to get a massage at a specific time to fill the schedule. My therapist today is a master in deep tissue and afterward I had the peel myself out of the sunken foam, I’m not sure I have ever so completely melded with a piece of furniture.

After work I have to run home and clean a bit, function the dogs, and the pick up Angela to go out to dinner with some friends of hers who are professional glass blowers. I think we’re going to the Maya Café, but I’m not sure. So two great restaurants with a set of old friends, and (for me at least) a set of new friends who seem very cool at the outset, if you make your living through your art you are in a different league than me. Throw a massage, time with dogs, fish, friendships with the roommates, the anticipation of the fun time we are going to have at the wedding, and great weather all together and you’ve got a pretty damn good day.


My job should be a sitcom. In today’s (yesterday as this wouldn’t post last night) episode a mentally challenged student, he really is dumb as a box of rocks (can I say that?) brings a puppy to school. His plan is to leave the dog in the car with the windows cracked and food and water on the floor in little dishes. This is his plan – in St. Louis – in August. This puppy is six to sixteen weeks depending on the mystery of breeds, which I think must be Dalmatian and Husky from his coloration and build. A teacher from the nearby school hears the dog barking in the noon hour and alerts me to his presence, he’s only been out there cooking for maybe ten to fifteen minutes.

If we send this student home it will be the last straw and he will probably be expelled, he may be expelled anyway as he has a long way to go before graduation and I just don’t expect that he’ll make it – at least not at this point in his life. Anyway, I try to help and I make a space for the dog in the storeroom, giving it water and walks as I am able throughout the day. This is one of those odd things. It’s not illegal, the dog was actually fine, the dog is of course more fine now, but seriously WTF. The dog is quite cute, cute enough to come home with me. Maybe he just got away…

We are also hiding the dog because this will be easier to explain and deal with as is needed after the dog is gone – so there is a comic layer of subterfuge… which I completely blew when walking the dog around the building and passing in front of the student clinic windows – students and instructors poured out onto Big Bend Blvd. to cuddle the ridiculously named Snoopy. SHHHHHHHHHHHHH you fifteen people, don’t tell anyone I’m hiding a cute puppy. I spent a little while printing out internet advice on how to take care of a dog, and how to prevent heat stroke in said dog, and how not to be a dumb ass with said dog. He wasn’t being intentionally cruel – he just doesn’t know any better and he is not leaving here with that dog without a serious education. (I gave him a packet with several bits highlighted in yellow.

A few months back, after a big storm, a woman came in for a massage and she had several goslings with her in a plastic dog carrier. She wanted to leave the goslings with me while she got her massage. Puppies yes, goslings no, I’m allergic to the feathers. Luckily she had a relative nearby who could watch after the goslings, who had been separated from their mother in said storm. We used to occasionally find ourselves watching the random child until one of them smeared his poop all over the bathroom walls and then locked the door behind him so that his fecophilia went undiscovered for some time. No more fecophilia kids, no more goslings, no more dumb students with dogs in their cars. These little tales are but the tip of the iceberg.


Wednesday, September 01, 2004

From two to seven I lived on south 79th street in Milwaukee Wisconsin. I am six in this photo.

My father was a pastor and we lived in a parsonage that was next to the grade school that I attended. I had a dog that was named Yahnah (in Enga – a New Guinean Dialect (I was born in New Guinea) – the word Yahnah literally means dog). My brother Andy and I would play endlessly on the monkey bars you see behind me. The neighborhood kids would call him Tarzan and they would call me Cheetah, this is the first time I can recall anyone calling me monkey. I went back to visit when I was in my early twenties and my father got a good shot of my physical reminiscing.

I’ve been back twice since then and I am far less limber. On the first occasion Bob and I found ourselves there at the end of a night of bars, the last one being an old tiki bar that had converted itself into a Nascar hang out, but still sported finely carved loa. Oddly enough I recognized a few landmarks so we went by my old house and watered the nearby trees. On the second occasion I found that the block had been leveled and a new high school had been built to replace my childhood haunt. The house, the playground, the old school, etc. are all resting compactly in a landfill somewhere with gulls from Lake Michigan circling overhead.


For our out of town friends and the buy-curious looking at St. Louis Décor – The Fulcrum Monkey blog proudly presents yet another in the ongoing “I have nothing to say right now and if you have dial up this might take awhile” photo essay series, OTHER PEOPLE’S HOUSES:

Brad and Beth just moved here… up these steps.

About half of their stuff is on the main floor, but the rest is up here,

which will be good for Joey

If you had to carry stuff up all those stairs you might feel like Hannah and Rusty did after Hannah’s bar-a-thon birthday,

Shut up Karl and show us the fireplace!

Where do they eat?

and the dishes are stored where?

And where do the servants prepare the food?

Do they know how to read?

and where will they watch porn?

Kitty third try thanks you for tolerating this ongoing visual fiesta.

My sister Sandy also thanks you for your tolerance.


All of my friends are investing in real-estate. Vanessa and Chris have just purchased this home in St. Charles located just five minutes from the Historic St. Charles with it’s fine bars and view of the Missouri river. It is also just a short ride to the Katy Trail, along which one can bike and bask in nature.

There are also large rocks nearby so Chris can

Chris likes to

I like to

and I like to

and Chris finds this funny.

I find this a little odd

but to each his own.

Apparently in either direction there is a great deal of enjoyment to be found.