Bad Blackberries

There's this little throbbing in the joint of my thumb, and the last good blackberry I had was three weeks ago.

When sharing music collections, the assumption is that the sharer listens to their entire collection, that each part is beloved. It's not clear if this is assumed or I assume it's assumed. History is not clear (in a music collection). Who has music collections anymore?

I assume summer is full of blackberries. To grow up here is to have intimate knowledge of brambles. Well-irrigated lawn has a flavor, as does shade, and parched railroad tracks. One develops a taste for a place, the best place to pick them. Though it may change throughout the summer, as each ripens and shrivels at a different time. The best is always just at the cusp of something awful. Some prefer them almost inedibly sour, others on the verge of drying up or fermenting on the vine. I knew a boy who savored the red, unripe ones at the edge of the middle school field. They were never ripe before the school year ended. I don't imagine he went back for the ripe ones.

Most blackberries are awful. They're insipid, or acrid, or rotten, or never tasted like anything at all. But I take for granted that conditions will be just right somewhere in town each year. This year I walked past a family happily picking buckets of berries I considered barely worth picking one or two on my way.

The really good-looking ones were just across the irrigation ditch, on the side with all the NO TRESPASSING signs.

Someone said it's the storms. All that smoke and cloud blocking the sun. At sunset, in between long shadows, the sun isn't a presence as it is in the afternoon, but a laser beam. Those tiny druplets must be nearly boiled on the inside, on a good summer day. Sweat baloons.

Someone else said just the opposite, that it's been too hot and dry for the fruit to "develop." He also suggested that minor back pain from working (in?) should be alleviated by working out. The impending dough-shaping tendonitis, too, can apparently be kept at bay by a gadget that's a metaphor for the place in the world in enables one to occupy: A ball and socket, that once it gets spinning must be gripped in anticipation of its movements. Its gyrations can only be maintained by keeping up, pushing back, synchronizing ahead. I at first suggested it operates on empathy. It was pointed out to me that it's a machine. I'm still not clear on what that changes. Perhaps there's just some deep-seated impetus to go forth and give handjobs rather than fornicate with metal. My boss does not want the art of "a computer guru" on display in his shop, but "someone who actually puts actual paint on an actual canvas with an actual brush--that's what I want to see."

These paragraphs are more or less a season of bad blackberries. Every good blackberry I've ever had was felt entirely apropos. Of what? During one of these storms that can still be termed dry despite brief, violent deluges, we were watching the lightning. Across the street someone overheard our oohing and told us the middle of his tennis court was struck the previous night. I was thrilled; it was like he'd had lunch with a celebrity. I didn't see a tennis court, and didn't ask. At this point would be a near-miss not to say that the atmosphere was electric. As it is when there are no good blackberries. All this lightning hitting everywhere but right here. We kept counting the seconds between sight and sound, with a kind of giddy yelp of fear whenever it was less than five: "That one was really close!"

21 August 2014

Electronics Repair

I've been (badly) repairing my earphones for two years. I've had them for nearly four. In this era (any time in the last, what, fifty years?), not buying a new pair is an affection. Someone who buys organic milk can't pretend to be that poor.

Some are shocked by the sight of raw meat in a glass case, and others are horrified that they are shocked. Some avoid a particular Mexican restaurant--much cherished by others--because it is also a butcher shop. Others feel that psychology is no excuse; meat-eaters must willingly involve themselves in slaughter.

Meanwhile, some go beyond holding their cards close to their chests. They hold them in plastic cases. The real card sharking then becomes not playing the game, but shuffling the cards without damaging the cases. Every time, I handle them wrong and receive instruction.

Sometimes I wonder if by "the environment," conservationists mean "assets."

There's always not speaking, or thermoses, or my long time favorite, journals.

It was a slow morning pushing dough around and listening to Israelis on the BBC blame Palestinians for malevolently placing themselves in the way of missile blasts. The delivery boy asked me "you've been to Israel, right?" "No, I haven't. Why do you ask?" "Something about your demeanor." Is there something unmistakeably Jewish about being aloof?

If your headphones are a few milennia old, they may be too fargone.

When my brother was young enough to really appreciate Magic cards and marvelled at the power of a single card, he didn't have the money to buy cases. Or if he did, he would have spent it on more cards. Now that he has a stable source of income, the sets and formats of Magic have multiplied to the point that precious is hard to define, and any card may be purchased on ebay, he seals them. All his new card purchases, too, are so much lamination.

I can't resist complaining about how unwieldy the prophylactics are, or shuffling them the wrong way, or comparing them to plastic-wrapped furniture. I can hear myself taking it too far (he's so attached to them that disrespecting his property is tantamount to disrespecting him--you see? I just keep pushing it.) It's as if the boundary of all those little boundaries is itchy. The sound of cards in cases is a weirdly slick crinkle.

Irritation is a slash and a wall of a feeling. Get back at the thing that crosses you by nearly inciting empathy. Disavow that thing in you. Keep crisscrossing it. (I've always been irritated by how pattern-laden my efforts to scribble out a disappointingly predictable doodle are.) Before sleep I scratch, and miraculously wake up with a scab. In that sense one ought to be delighted by the sight of blood.

Someone's softly misrecognized empathy (that's the stable kind) with this nocturnal stubbornness was that he stays up because he hasn't had enough fun yet. My expectations are far less realistic: I haven't had enough meaning. If we're going Latin, this is not a matter of degrees, but opposition: diversion versus significance.

But maybe it's all the same. I notice in the morning that I notice things. The senses are often unwelcome at first, but soon enough observation comes in like a chatty friend and blots out dreams. After a day filled with eavesdropping and noting the angles of shadows and their moods, I eventually come back to a corkboard filled with holes and covered in notices. Surely there's something to heightened emotion other than heightened senses? But I don't know, it seems like one can either let loose platitudes or feel clever for watching the way raindrops flow across a window.

8 August 2014