This Domicile Is Now Presentable

Did a crapload of laundry today and a smattering of dishes, which was not my intention, though it must be stated: Be careful what you wish for. Because crawling around back there was the notion that it wouldn’t be so bad to wash another load by hand, insert earbuds and get down to it. Hands in hot water, mechanized thoughtlessly for a good duration, strategizing at the end to stack in a way that won’t have the plastic Ikea bowls stewing towards mildew if no one puts them away for a few days. It’s a forgivably loud activity, so belt out a lyric, step to it. Clatter and splash. 

Words to this effect got their due when I pulled out the bottom tray of the apparently repaired dishwasher and saw the cloudy lake that had been waiting since yesterday–back when the guy had replaced the motor and declared it a done deal. Ha ha, it ain’t never that easy. Just two visits from the appliance people? You know it’s just the beginning, this saga that started in the middle of March.

So I got my wish, I washed some dishes.

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Kick the Kindle?

So the native docs app sucks, for reasons I will get into soon enough. The views are great. Web layout, for instance, automatically adjusts the width of the text when you enlarge or shrink the screen. Only a fraction of apps in the universe can pull that off. But a few unforgiveables have ensued. 

Sadly I couldn’t log onto Verizon Wireless tonight and see the deals on the Samsung tablets they’d emailed me about, didn’t feel like searching my inbox for deleted emails…

So here I am back at WordPress, the only reliable writing thingy on a Fire. I’ve often thought to myself, the limits that a more modest tablet will impose are productive. You work with that one app that works, you stick with it, you eventually ask no questions, you don’t bother with tedious comparisons. So even though it saves locally, I reject the docs app, which at this point I’m not even sure is native. Am I confusing the issue?

Three bluetooth keyboards have had problems staying connected to the Fire. My Windows laptop, though, has the same issue with bluetooth speakers and headphones. So Christ, do I want to risk it with an Android tablet, or invest in an iPad? I need an iPad. But iPads don’t let you buy stuff directly in the Kindle app.

Apple, you are so threatened by the Amazon bookstore that you force us to make this kind of decision?

The pleasure of shopping within the Kindle app is, for me, without parallel. I find the deals. The bargain bookstore a few miles from here just closed; the owner retired, sold it off. Most of the authors I’ve fallen in love with over the past few years have been from Kindle deals (that I learned about via Bookbub, the only company whose emails I truly look forward to): Nell Zink, Ottessa Moshfegh, Mary Karr (although I’d dabbled with her Lit before, I hadn’t yet read The Liar’s Club, a game changer for reasons completely unrelated to this post).

The central question is WHERE DO I WRITE?

This tablet, whose tiny pricetag on a particularly broke-ass Christmas I cannot forget, lets me write in WordPress. That’s it–barring Evernote, which works fine except it doesn’t enable the Ctrl shortcuts (for skipping across and deleting entire words), an indispensible feature of any writing app, let it be known. I cannot write without Ctrl.

And that’s Part One of why the native docs app turns out to be solid shite. Part Two: Did it really just kick me off my keyboard when I switched between “web layout” and “page layout”? 

Why this conspiracy against hassle-free blogging? From all conceivable angles, my own included?

That’s the keyword here–blogging. I am scarcely a writer, though I teach writing for a living. Nay–I am, at heart, a blogger. I write to connect with people without waiting for whether my missives have been accepted; just publish. Spit off that tall bridge, see whom it hits.

Just don’t forget the tags.

Wait, possible interference. Bluetooth was enabled on my iPhone this whole time?

Pro Tips

Bad habit: Turning off the screen when I get up to pee. This interrupts the Bluetooth (keyboard) connection, often. 

(Scrap that hangup with wasting battery power. Like a two-minute interval is going to destroy everything you’ve worked for.)

Don’t put your coffee on your portable work table. Never will be the day when everything you need is in arm’s length, but everyday will you spill your coffee.

Start waking up earlier than you’d dare. They all want your attention; beat them to it.

Summer Grades, and the Drinking’s Easy

At lunchtime squirting and stirring the purple energy concentrate into the ice water from breakfast, having woken up too early thanks to the housebroken though leaky diapered beagle pup (we suffer his rare condition despite the studies that say the surgery’s so expensive and unreliable you might as well put the dog down), I feel the first kick of that mindset so treasured among chronic graders of papers: the wired, heady resolve to blast through the payload–a mere near-week after the deadline–while knowing dead-certain this effort will last the weekend–and then, bless it, starts two weeks of summer camp for the littlun. By which point who knows, maybe I’ll have dispatched the assignments and can throw my highlighted rubrics at every single discussion post just a day or two late while receiving definitely fewer than a dozen student inquiries about asterisks in their gradebooks and then BAM–I can write another blog post and practice German. “Die Welt ist voller Widerspruch.”

Word Germs 

What is essential in the weeks to come is that I establish the context of my poetry (which is prose) as outside the gates of self-censorship and well within academic precedent: I did indeed study both modernism and German, just not so much together as I intend to do now. But I’m 7 years out of grad school and so will approach the study just as I did before grad school, independently pursuing a haunted aesthetic of irony and hope–for alternate worlds and literary forms. How glad I am that I opened up NYbooks’s website tonight and landed on a review of Marjorie Perloff’s Edge of Irony: Modernism in the Shadow of the Habsburg Empire. The Kindle sample is fantastic, promising precisely what I need to read right this minute…

DrummerSoundbeiten

There must be some reason it’s so rare I sit through my recorded drumming sessions in search of bites for my blog. Because I’ve already had that experience and don’t feel it’s necessary to relive it. It won’t be anything like what I experienced; it’ll be a shoddy representation. You weren’t in my head in that moment, you didn’t hear it as I did. Which isn’t to say it will suck, but it won’t pop. It’ll just be fast and spastic but mostly unsurprising; recorded drums without a live audience or video have this thing to overcome: the speedy humdrum. That is far from the issue with the experience itself, where I throw out so many beats and fills in such a short space and then repeat the exercise in a new and more radical combination than the previous, until I am cruising on endorphins and realize I’m running out of ideas even if I still am energized–and so it is just that, exercise. Might as well hop on a treadmill. So if it’s that, then ramp up the speed and spend all the energy, wind down until clever again. Likely I’ll forget that trajectory when I listen to the recording weeks, months later. I won’t know what’s going on because I’m not actively listening anymore, I’m grading, so with all the witless thrashing I might as well have just, yes, jumped on a treadmill. (There is one in the next room, after all, plus a rowing machine and a stepping machine that I think I paid 80 bucks for: thanks, Craigslist, for providing this house with decent equipment that we reject in favor of what they’ve got at the gym 15 minutes down the rushed and harried road to Columbia, at a gym we pay a fortune to guilt ourselves into staying more or less constant with.) But what’s missing from this scene are the days when I do not record: they are, in fact, vital. Never play an instrument only to be recorded; it causes that old conflict of interest of ends and means and what justifies what. One day, I will listen regularly to these tracks with discretion and compassion. I will cut and paste the moments and internalize the injunction I so frequently make while editing: Stop hitting things every few minutes or measures, it makes for an easier cut! Hell, sniff out the decay of that giant ride cymbal, that betrayer of all interstitial subtly, announcing the connectedness of every single moment–nothing was planned or executed with a view towards permanence, was it, it was all for the fleeting ephemeral. And if I don’t make good on that promise to keep it episodic, I have these moments that might not be easily extracted but which all speak of spontaneous playful rage. Everything, in short, that I have just described, is a virtue. None of this is cause for regret. Except the diction.