Good thing I brought a shovel with for when I hit rock bottom. I can always dig a little deeper on account that I listen to the old Czech composers. I know Ma Vlast like the hurt on my liver. Sometimes I just sit and think about my life and what I might become and all the things I became. It feels good to me to think about these things. It’s like an affirmation of self that resonates through me like a shiver tingle. I dunno if anybody else feels that way sometimes, but I hope so.
The Cubs are amidst a skid since D Lee went down with a broken wrist. They’ve been getting crushed like crumpled hearts. Three rookies in the rotation, two of them lefties, an old man, and a hot head, c’mon. Not to mention the free agent Right Fielder whom I watched since he was a rookie up here in the “DA-DA-DA Dome” who can’t not bounce a throw to the plate. But anyway.
Dawn’s parents got me a fish tank for my birthday a few months ago. 55 gallon, complete with a Big ol’ Firemouth Cichlid, a Tinfoil Barb of about nine inches and a healthy every day tripped out Pleco. I went to the fish store and bought some algae pellets for the Pleco, some tetra min for the barb, some Hikari Cichlid Pellets and two dozen feeder guppies for the Firemouth. Damned if them fish didn’t eat them guppies. You all know what happens when you get a bunch of guppies together? Right. You know, guppies.
My first two fish were guppies. My cousin Dave had a bunch and put a male and a female into a pickle jar for me and my sister. Pop goes the babies then we got a ten gallon with a nice air pump, filter and heater and fluorescent light. We got other fish then too, a few Swordtails and a catfish and even a comet goldfish. We named the comet goldfish “Goldie”. We had some zebra danios too. Fish became my hobby.
My boyhood room soon became filled with aquariums. I had Cichlids, an Oscar, some marine varieties, brackish, whatever. Then something happened. I started to neglect the fish. I didn’t go to the fish store anymore to get the bloodworms or brine shrimp. I just dumped pellets in each day until.
I felt sad about all the fish one day when I went into my mom’s basement and saw all the empty aquariums. I was just a kid though, and adolescence is a tough go. I can’t believe how many times I thought I fell in love back then. I used to write letters to every girl that couple skated with me at the ice rink, we’d hold hands and my palm would sweat. Man I loved those girls back then. Maybe I just hated myself less.
Growing up wasn’t what I expected. For instance, the other night we’re at this Party of one of Dawn’s friends and somebody is talking about business and then somebody else tells everybody that I just started my own business. Then somebody asks,
”What is your business?”
And I havta say,
”I make handmade ceramic fish.”
They all think I must be joking. But I look around and think that there is an intelligence gap or something. I get all high headed. I am better than these people and they don’t know me and who cares what they think anyway? I do and it is awful that they are all going to the casino on Mother’s day and I will just phone my dear sober ornamental mother.
Getting stuck in a gap makes me speak louder and drink more. I type the letters of this keyboard harder too. With emphasis. Gotta let people know what you think, otherwise they won’t know. Of course I know my dilemma, who doesn’t? It’s an interesting phenomena late at night.
In the Oak Park conservatory, there is a giant gold comet in the pond. We brought him over when he was too big. The giant gold comet you see is maybe Goldie. A fish of my past.
Now fish are more. The fish I make are secrets and puzzles. People ask me why I make fish and I tell them,
”Making fish makes me happy.” But deep down I am not near happy.
I press just near dead fish into plaster I mix extraordinary. The plaster is just right and I spread out the fins and open the mouths and I press their shit and guts out and then the plaster dries and I peel the fish out. Then I mix more plaster and cast the other side. Damn if that plaster don’t stink
Later on some days I push some clay of variety into the plaster cast. Then I bounce it out about an hour later and trim the edges. Then I mark the fins. Then I bisque it a day later, then I glaze it as I feel and then... it fires. Then I have a fish I can’t believe I made
Making fish make me happy. Someone asked me once what would making fish be worthwhile to me. I toll them,
”It’s already worthwhile, even if I never make a cent. In fact, I’d rather have every fish I’d made in my basement than to sell ‘em."
You know what this business advisor said when I toll him that? He dern said,
“Well, you might be the most successful ceramic fish maker I ever met.”