Office/Diary: Tuesday


Chatting on Google with Nom de Plume, shortly after lunch, I blurted that I was “sick of life.” I knew that I did not mean this in its operatic sense. I did not want to “end it all” &c &c. It took a moment, though, to realize that I meant it quite literally. Like a little boy who has eaten too many pieces of birthday cake, I was sick of too much.  

¶ Matins: Do you want to settle in one of the “best” cities in the United States — or is it just a city of whites that draws you? Aaron Renn at newgeography

The answer, obviously, was to let nature take her course &c &c. I must rest.

¶ Lauds: Ann Temkin likes to move the furniture around. This means that that the art of which she is the MoMA curator moves comes and goes. Starry Night stays put, though. (NYT)

By the way, when I write, “I must rest,” do you understand that I am speaking in the past tense? “The answer was to let nature take her course; I must rest.” Meaning: I would have to rest. I’m not sure that even English readers hear it properly anymore. But in fact the past tense of “must” is “must,” not — you’ll be happy to learn this — “musted.” Or “merst.”

(That’s all the fun with “must” that we’re going to have tonight.)

¶ Prime: No more McDonald’s in Iceland — a casualty of the country’s economic  collapse. (via Marginal Revolution) It’s not much consolation to know that Icelandic tourists can pick up a Royal Deluxe at the chain’s new outpost at the Louvre. (NYT)

If I took things easy — to get back to the “me” part of this entry — I’d feel better; much better; and not at all “sick of life.”  Sure enough, as the day wore on, I felt less and less doomed. As it happened, I had a physical exam scheduled for this afternoon. That can’t have contributed to any well-rested feelings. The doctor let me know what he thought about my health by saying that he didn’t see anything wrong with me but/and declining to weigh me. Having survived the exam, though (pending blood and urine tests, of course), I walked back up Second Avenue with a springier step.

¶ Tierce: “Do Exactly What It Says.” Instructions for burning Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in effigy on Hallowe’en, in case you’re interested. “The demon adds a nice touch.” Or, bring a fire hose. ( The Awl)

If I hadn’t been genuinely tired, I might have laughed, because even during the morning of sickness of life, I’d known that my state of mind was fleetingly likely to disappear quite soon, and I’d refused to indulge in any operatic decision-making. I did not make any pacts with myself to take rash action of some kind or other. I did not promise my patron saint that I would live on ramen for a month, or stop speaking, once and for all, to someone I don’t like (“why pretend?”).

¶ Sext: Peter Jon Lindberg complains about “Bad Music in Public Places.” Read through to the end; he has a sound-designer friend who puts together playlists that you can buy at iTunes. (via The Morning News)

On the contrary: I knew that I’d feel better if I just held out and managed not to make things worse with one of those operatic coups that would probably not come to mind so readily if I did not know anything about opera. (See Stendhal on “love.”)

¶ Nones: Will Hugo Chávez change international relations? Or will his head end up on a pole? Either way, here’s something for your Chávez scrapbook. (BBC) If your scrapbook is devoted, rather, to memories of lost grandeur, here’s a map of what Turkey ought to look like, to some, anyway. (Strange Maps)

What was even funnier, except not really, was wondering how many of my inky black moods and states of rage would have occurred if I’d been well-rested. Over the years, I mean. How many therapists would not have required talking to.

¶ Vespers: R Crumb discusses his Gnosticism and the making of his graphic Genesis. (Vanity Fair)

This revisionist history of my mental health was checked, to some degree, by the recollection that hormones fall off as one gets older. This makes many people sad, but for me it has brought nothing but relief. My version of Augustine’s famous “not yet” prayer would have been, “Lord, please calm my endocrine system — right now!”

¶ Compline: Steve Toback has been worried about multasking-induced intelligence sinkholes for over ten years, and he sees no reason to change his mind.

At the moment, my mood is bright again, but I can tell that I’m still very tired. I fixed a nice-enough dinner, Elizabeth David’s Veal cauchoise. For some reason, I was watching Syriana in the kitchen when Kathleen got home. She hadn’t seen it, so I was explaining that now and then there’s a big explosion, while, all unthinking, I ignited the Calvados on the stove. I had bought a gigantic measuring cup — it must hold a quart — for this purpose, thinking that the small quantity of spirits that is usually called for to make a flambée would quickly give up its alcohol in a broad vessel that kept it shallow. This turned out to be correct.

It never occurred to me to foresee a culinary explosion, and in that I was correct as well. Indeed, one of the things that I love about igniting brandy and the other eaux fortes is that the flame is all bluff, a cool blue that just might burn a sheet of paper if you could dangle on in it with your third hand. (The real danger of igniting alcohol, I believe, is that the flame will go on to ignite a grease fire.) Kathleen, however, jumped, and had to walk away. She said that dinner was delicious, though, and she ate every bite.