Gonna be in the hospital for Thanksgiving is what I've been told today.

I continue to violate doctors' orders and drink and eat too much.

The stupid thing about having to be cooped up at Thanksgiving is because of the surgeon's schedule. I'll be recovering but can't be guaranteed turkey.

I'm trying to feel good about this 'cause dad's not around and I really don't care for my other relatives (the ones who're used to me bringing a case of wine to T-Day dinner PLUS a bottle of Cognac). They'll just have to do without, I guess.

I will salt and pepper a crow and eat it feathers and all if any of the aforementioned relations bother to come up to Connecticut to visit me in hospital.

Winter music needs to be sad. It reminds us of the chances we missed, the fragility of our own lives, and renews our humanity. It is not the wild cavorting of Spring, or the malaise of summer, and that is okay. That is fine.

My own winter is elusive. I can only feel it coming on in my joints, a cold that I can't shake, as my tastes in music and photography start to drift toward the solitary. This is not depression, but rather an affirmation of the darker parts of myself. I welcome it.

Enclosed is a list of songs for the impending cold. I have included a short impression, in lieu of a review.

Winter Music List:

 

1. Josephine by Tori Amos

 

"So strange, victory.
Twelve-hundred spires, the only sound, Moscow burning.
"

 

When we finish rebuilding the world to make ourselves worthy of their love,
how much of them will be left?

 

2. Please, Sister by The Cardigans

 

"I know love is a hot, white light."

 

Love turns us into ridiculous people.

 

3. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction by Cat Power

 

"Baby, baby, baby can't you see? I'm on a losin' streak."

 

They will try to understand us,
and they will fail.

 

4. Mariner's Revenge Song by The Decemberists

 

"It took me fifteen years, to swallow all my tears."

 

The longer we live,
the more we have to explain.

 

5. And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda by The Dubliners

 

"But nobody cheered, they just stood there and stared.
Then turned all their faces away."

 

We will fight for things that we do not understand.

 

6. Racing Like a Pro by The National

 

"You're dumbstruck, baby."

 

We will become unrecognizable to ourselves.
We will look in the mirror and wonder where we have gone.

 

7. Dad's Breakdown By Psapp

 

"And as for shades of gray, well I like grey, its a friendly, comforting color.
And it was good enough for Giacometti."

 

Don't ak us why we do the things we do.
We don't know.

 

8. Bed of Lies by Matchbox 20

 

"It's not enough just to be lonely."

 

Sometimes it is time to go.
Sometimes we have to face an empty house.

 

9. Heartless Romantic by The Dears

 

"You're just unloveable."

 

Every single one of us knows that we can never become one flesh.
We are discrete.
When they die, we will be alone again.
But what if we die first?
Can we live with that possibility?

 

10. Kicking the Heart Out by Rogue Wave

 

"If music is my lover, you are just a tease."

 

Every day, while I warmed up my engine,
I would listen to this song.
Nothing has warmed me so well since.

 

11. Middle Distance Runner by Sea Wolf

 

Well I'm so proud tonight,
of the woman you've become.
And I'm just too tired to fight.
So darling, I'll succumb.

 

I had never heard Sea Wolf when I went to Lubbock a few winters ago,
but this song seems to belong to that trip, that feeling.
The sky was gray and mournful,
the whole world seemed to be whimpering in the cold.

Last night was a difficult night, the first in a while...

  • We took our daughter out to dinner and then grocery shopping last night. She behaved well until about a half-hour into shopping, at which point she decided she needed to tear up and down the aisles like a cheetah on speed. After she totally ignored many requests to remain by our side and follow us, she lost that privilege and was confined to either my arms or the cart for the rest of the trip. She expressed her dissatisfaction at this arrangement by crying and whining.
  • When we got home, she vehemently disagreed with our plans to put her to sleep for the night at 8:30pm, and she made sure we knew about it until at least 9:00pm. She was no doubt over-tired from her shopping trip with us, as she usually goes down at 8:00pm.
  • She then proceeded to wake up at 2:30am, crying and complaining. My wife took care of her that time, so I cannot complain.
  • At 5:20am, right before I was to get up for work, I was awoken by my wife, who had accidentally knocked over the glass of lemonade sitting on her nightstand. After cleaning that up, I took my morning shower, and got out just in time to hear our daughter crying and yelling again. A sippy of milk and fifteen minutes of reading got her calmed down again, and (hopefully) she fell back asleep.
  • After pulling out of the driveway and driving all the way down the court, I noted all of the garbage cans at the curb, swore loudly, did a three-point turn, arrived back home, and put the trash out more quickly than I ever have before.
  • All of this was compounded by the fact that I had some sort of unremembered nightmares last night that caused me to wake up in cold sweats; my wife tells me she didn't sleep very well either.

Luckily, things settled down once I arrived here. I mailed out some outstanding bills -- for some reason, that's easier to do from work than it is from home. Checked up on my email and the news and the usual websites. Got into a discussion with a coworker about old computers of the 1980s and early 90s. They have always been an interest of mine, and for a while I had intended to collect them (until I realized that there's barely room in my house for us, much less a bunch of old museum pieces).

That got me looking at OldComputers.Net, and remembering how fascinated I was with all of them as a kid. Keeping the 1980's theme going, I fired up iTunes and put on Thomas Dolby, and the rush of nostalgia came. Enormous curly hair, headbands, legwarmers, Trapper Keepers. Our first television with a digital tuner. My first computer. All of the gadgets that my friends and relatives had.

It hit me like a brick, and I grew very depressed. I miss the way I felt back then. I miss the wonder and the mystery, the excitement and the optimism, the imagination and the creativity. I miss the feeling of safety. All of those aspects of youth that fade away as we get older.

And then I thought about my dad. I talk to him all the time... but then, I've talked to myself all my life, and sometimes I think I say I'm talking to him so I don't feel so crazy. It has been over three years since he died, but I think some part of me still hasn't stopped mourning. I thought about how much I owe him, how much he taught me when I was young. He let me look at old computer and television repair manuals. He brought home hulking pieces of test equipment for me to disassemble. He taught me a few basics about electronic circuits. He read to my siblings and I every night. When I thought about the time I spend playing with my daughter, that's when I lost it and the tears welled up. I want her to feel the same way about me as I did about him back then.


As our daughter grows up, it's easy to be astonished by all of the similarities to our own youths, and at the same time, all of the differences. For example: she watches Sesame Street. She's not yet two, and yes, I've heard all of the warnings about limiting how much television children watch... but that's really all she watches, so I don't feel bad about it. Sesame Street is a perfect example of how things change and yet stay the same. Much of the cast is different; Elmo has center stage, while Hairy Monster is almost nowhere to be found. Even the theme song has been modernized -- kids today are obviously much cooler than we were. And yet, in every episode, we'll see segments from our youth, bits of cartoons or skits with Muppets that just make our mouths drop open and bring back memories that have been buried under years of experience.

My daughter plays with blocks and Duplo and Little People just as we did. She sings along with many of the same songs as we did. Yet her songs are on an iPod instead of a record player, and she can identify the cordless phone and both of our cellphones as such (the three of which look nothing like one another). On the other hand, she has that Fisher-Price phone that squawks as you pull it along the floor, and to her, it bears absolutely no resemblance to a "phone". It has a dial, and a handset connected by a cord. She probably thinks it's just some kind of weird looking monster.

I just want to make sure that she understands why a computer works, instead of just viewing it as a toaster. I want her not to take these amenities for granted, in a world where everybody is surrounded by instant communication, instant computation and instant gratification.

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