The houses in the town are mainly made of stone, basalt I think, and there is a certain look to the streets I havenâ€™t seen elsewhere. There are long shared walls running along the street, made of stone and mortar, the mortar in many of them shaped in such a way around the stone to give a leopard-skin pattern to the wall.
There are gutters between the streets and the walls, and each houseâ€™s wall has metal doors large enough for a car, painted eggshell blue with rectangular or curved gaps near their tops that are decorated with bars in a fan pattern or the pattern of a sunrise, or even one is curled into the shape of an eagle clutching a snake in its talons. When the doors are open you can see in and there are their stairs and balconies, their laundry and their gardens, like a photograph sitting there, or in the mornings sitting around their tea.
The morning light on the back porch is the best light to read by. There’s an old bedframe there, the mattress support being thumb-sized metal rings, linked together in chain-mail style, hooked by springs to a square frame anchored on the end posts. The neighbor’s roof is by the left hand side and above there is a canopy of grapes, half-purpled and half still small and green.
In the space between the two, I can see the border with Karabakh, the spine of the South Caucasus. The clarity and coolness of the light between eight and nine match my book, and the air is so still my heartbeat seems to shake the bed.
This afternoon, I’ll be riding a metric century, down around Salem. It’s a hundred kilometer ride. It shouldn’t be too hard, the course is pretty flat. I haven’t done a ride this long since before I was sick this winter, so I am nervous in spite of myself. But when I biked 100 miles before,… Read more »
What is it about music? It makes me feel good. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.
I went to a show last night, first time I had seen live music in a while. I can see in my thoughts how my happiness unfolded: at first, it was kitschy. Older men, basically a standard five piece outfit: a drum kit, a synthesizer, guitar, bass, and the vocalist had a hand drum; only they added a guy who can play the saz and the oud, and they called it traditional music. And even I could tell the singer’s pronunciation was terrible, whether he was singing in Armenian, Turkish, or Arabic, and didn’t they even realize the differences between the traditions? The dancers on the floor in front of them, so pretentious! What did they imagine they were doing? I was, in a word, defensive. Over-critical.
It’s good to see old friends again and see them happy.
I saw one yesterday after over a year. Time isn’t dealing them out faster than I can take them. He’s up from California for the week for some shows with his band. He looks tanner and thinner, maybe taller and maybe greyer. He’s become an electrical engineer since I saw him last, specializing in solar panels; his wife does belly-dance instruction out of their home and is branching out to clothing manufacture in the kitchen. We talked over salad, humus, and a tempeh-BLT. We talked about Armenia, Anatolian history, music, the price of wood, how to live a full life. He works out doors and his mind is his own, he says, when he works.
I can feel a change coming in my life. Of course I know that it is coming, since I set it in motion; but there are indicators that confirm it for me. I touch on them and their texture reassures me.
There is a certain character to my encounters these days. I get in touch with old friends, I revisit old familiar places I haven’t been in years, I try drinks I had put aside long ago, I see old roommates again. And in each of these circumstances, there is a kind of summing-up; chapters get closed, stories are resolved, the past is put in its new place and its parts shuffle into their new arrangements. The conversations tend toward the historical, or the philosophical. They also seem larger than themselves, and they somehow come from behind themselves.
I haven’t been control of myself for a few days. I’m nervous, jumpy, and clingy.
There’s a woman at our office who works in the mailroom; she’s deaf, and a funny thing, she always walks very softly, with an exaggerated, silent-movie tiptoe. I almost expect her to be putting a finger to her lips, wearing white gloves. Her face is made up thickly, like tv makeup, except seen in person; which alters it. And she’s deaf, so I wonder why she takes such care not to make any noise, on the thick concrete floor with silencing rugs, wearing sneakers. Nobody, wearing no matter what, makes noise on them. Of course she wouldn’t have any way of knowing that.
I lost my temper Friday night, and I slapped a telephone pole. I really went after it too; I slapped it more than once, right palm and then left, and then right again. There was lots of gummy-looking stuff on its surface, but that stuff turns out to be pretty stiff. There are nails, staples, and splinters as well; all kinds of hazards.
I have five cuts on my hands today that still sting, and somehow I managed to get a piece of the gummy stuff from the outside of the pole underneath my skin. The skin grows together over the wound. That’s a bizarre thought for me, I have pole surface-stuff in my body now, I’m busy chewing on it and taking it apart and seeing what I can take from it; or at least I’m trying, for some values of I.
There’s an oppressive feeling in the air today. I feel like I’m struggling to breathe. It’s a huge effort. I know I’m not struggling, I am breathing normally, regularly, and easily. But everything seems like an effort, even what I’m doing easily. I have to tell myself it’s easy.
The weather is blinding bright overcast, the walls are lined with a horrific purple-grey static wallpaper and there are sickening patterns in the carpet, made of multi-colored thread that manages to look grey in combination. I can’t look anywhere. There’s either clutter or complete disorder.
The radiator sounds like: goblins working underground; busy neighbors rearranging their apartment; strange, unhealthy labor at dystopic-type machines; freshman year of college; or Death, walking from door to door, banging on an iron pan.