Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

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A long, slow ramble into China, with a .wav

Today I worked a hard day, the kind of day about which one can be proud. My wife and my sister-in-law went for a night out together at an Italian restaurant, so I stopped by Dickie's Barbecue and had a "two meat platter" of hot links and beef. I wish I had known when we were getting married that instead of asking for casual stemware, we could have deferred that acquisition in favor of the fabled huge yellow plastic Dickey's cups, which come in complimentary copies with each meal. Our cabinets are full of large yellow Dickey's cups, which are better and certainly more appealingly plastic than carnival glass.

When we got married, some 14+ years ago, we did all the traditional things. We had the wedding in a church, and, to my chagrin, the chamber music group at the reception at the KC Country Club played "Ode to Joy" instead of "Gymnopedies III". The organist did offer to make a game try of making recessional wedding music of the Satie piece, but she finally had to confess she could not make it sound wedding-y on the organ. I remember the hors d'oeuvres that looked like White Castle burgers were actually really, really not. The flowers were lovely. Our families loved us. We found love. The marriage worked.

I think I flunked the personality profile the minister gave us before the wedding. He just kept looking at me with the kind of mournful look that the boss at an industrial park lawn crew gives you when he realizes that you don't have the sense that the Creator gave to a lawnmower. But he married us, and wished us well, so I think that I must have tested "eccentric" rather than "deranged". SAT, LSAT, ACT, Iowa Basic Skills Test, Minnesota Multiwhatever-it's-called Test. Who needs the tarot when you have standardized testing? It's all numerology, and paradigms, set theory paradigms.

I once stayed in a house in Bristol in England in which someone's cousin has posted her "O" levels in her bedroom in which we stayed in her absence, or "A" levels, or some important levels, which she considered less than ideal. She had written, in red magic marker, "bloody wonderful!", apparently because she would not go to Oxbridge, but no doubt instead get to tour Europe with a backpack for a summer and perhaps go to some redbrick place and study hard on something absurdly, heart-warmingly practical and then live in a cool flat in London or in a suburb with a cool job not offering the depression and substance abuse of academia and no doubt one day use her skills to facilitate the acquisition of the things she needed outwardly and inwardly and never really miss having a tutor or worrying about her accent or the last whiffs of the social class system. Everything always seems so awful when you actually have choices. Bloody awful. But often things work out fine. Life is, in many ways, wonderful, after all. Bloody wonderful.

But I am losing my wedding theme, not that I worry overmuch about theme. I was coming to the part when I talk about Gump's, in Beverly Hills. Gump's is gone now, but it was the kind of old-fashioned department store that you just knew that Talluluah Bankhead went to for her china, three, four or five times, not that I know anything about Tallulah Bankhead, but I instantly give her serial monogamist leeway on principle. We had an appointment at Gump's, which had an air I would now call something from a Harry Potter novel. We looked at china and casualware across a broad range of prices and designs, selecting carefully things both tasteful and unlikely to bankrupt our families and friends. We were escorted past bone and filigree by an appropriate saleswoman, although I seem to recall we heard a sad story unfold nearby in which a long-time employee lost her cool with an impetuous engaged couple, and got cashiered from the china merchant marine the next day. I can't remember if she was rude to us, though--or was it another couple? Slights slip right by you, when you're worrying about things that matter.

We picked some really cool china, which we still have to this day. We also met a man who sold home-baked things by mail-order, and who had pitched a tent in the Gump's to market. His food was Heavenly, and I sent some home, where the kind women in my folks' little home town were busy organizing a "tea", which is the traditional thing that is the height of social life in my part of the south, where the only champagne is called "iced tea" and formal receptions tend to be held with Oreos in the church basement.
The Encino candyman's wares were a bit hit in Arkansas. If I remember the name of the products, I would order more today.

We also picked up casual plates,which have served us nobly and well. But had we known about Dickey's cups, we no doubt could have shaved off the casual stemware from our registration list, and instead had a real shot at the peanut dish or the cow creamer. I used to think that one should always give nice teapots for weddings, because they're on the fringe of being appropriate and hip, and yet no recipient feels guilty when they have to return your teapot to get an electric rug utensil instead. It feels repugnant, just a bit, to talk of material things, though, so I'll switch over to books and immaterial things.

On my way home from work, post-hard-work, pre-Dickey's-cup, I stopped in Barnes and Noble. I picked up a new Poet's Market, a Short Story Writer's Market and the huge directory of independent presses. I read a great interview in Poet's Market with a BYU professor who made so much sense about contest submissions. I love the way there are thousands of little publications, and I made a silent, bloody wonderful pledge to read much more poetry than I write. I love that so many things are on-line, which conserves paper.

I have made only one major submission this year, but I intend to write and to submit.
I have also begun to get creative writings from the writing meme I started, and I now have markets to suggest in plethora. I will read and critique some folks' writing on Sunday.

I mailed off my second tsunami CD to a buyer in Virginia, and wrote an appropriate "tongue in cheek" e mail to my collaborator, Scott_M, to advise him that funds that would otherwise be available to recoup our 99 dollar cost of recording and duplication instead have been diverted, which gives him the ability to experience people monkeying with the monkey points just as all great musicians experience. He replied that this was as close to "We are the World" as he and I could get.

My brother found me a cool software that does MIDI to .wav for CD burning, and further has a cool package including a softsynth as well. I think I'll order it, as I have promised to spend a sum of money I got for Christmas, and have not been inspired until now. I already have music notation software coming, as I foresee a truly ambient Gurdonark CD coming on. I even know what it will sound like, in my head.

Tonight, though, I'm also thinking about a complex legal issue on which another attorney in my office is briefing under my supervision. I think I am blessed to have things to think about that amuse and intrigue me. Who could ask for more, personally?
I'm fortunate in that way.

This weekend I go to Arkansas again, as it's important to me right now to see my parents. My kind brother offered to drive me in his large American sedan. He drives well, he's good company, and it's easier to count hawks in the passenger seat.

Sunday we return, and I'll work and exercise some more. It's a curious, difficult time now, in many ways, with personal and work challenges ahead. But I'm working to live the life I live, and not to merely get crushed by the burdens. I'm glad I have my health, a kind wife, great extended family, and some cool things to enjoy.
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