It’s Electric

Yesterday I asked my brother what he knew about switching out old electrical outlets, the ones with just two slots and no grounding hole. I asked if he had a current reader, and he said he has a multimeter.

Our house is oldish, built in 1955. Most of the electricity has been updated throughout the house, but a few old outlets remained. Thinking about working with electricity sort of freaks me out, and I knew that my brother has all-around experience with lots of handy stuff.

So we went to the hardware store and walked to the outlet section. There are so many types! And prices run the full range. But Brother picked out what he thought our house needed. Nothing too fancy.

When we got home I took a nap while Bro switched out the outlets. Reilly read a book while Z watched Ratatouille. The breaker box labeled a lot of the outlets wrong, so we spent some time finding out which switches actually controlled which outlets. Bro found out about one via tiny shock. Zzzt.

Poor guy.

Anyway, our house has better hookups now.

The end.

Fixing Clarinets

Today I took my newer, not-my-33-year-old-student-model, Bb clarinet to the shop. I told the repairman it needed its yearly maintenance tune-up and to look at the transition between open G and B5: the seal might not be completely closed for a smooth jump up the register. He said that my place in the queue puts repairs about 10 days out.

So I can play my student model and/or my A clarinet in the meantime.

I also took my Gretsch metal clarinet apart today. The head on one of the screws had worn completely flat, so I spent some time gently hammering my smallest flathead screwdriver into that screw to form a groove deep enough for unscrewing. It got to where if I pushed hard enough into the screw and turned lefty-loosey, enough of the screw would be above the hole for me to unscrew the rest using needlenose pliers.

Glad that worked.

Gotta look at the springs and clean the keys and screws; replace the rest of the pads. Then put it all back together. I wonder if I have to buy a junk metal clarinet for parts just so that I get screws the right length. The repair kit I have is for modern clarinets, and not all the screws are the same size as those from the metal clarinet. Most of the screws are still good, though–it’s just the one that has a bad head.

It looks cool. Even if I don’t get it playing perfectly or at all, working on it is pretty fun.

June 14

Today is Wednesday, June 16. Which means I’ve distanced by two days when Z got her first cavity filled.

We scheduled the appointment last Wednesday, and I’ve tried not to stress out about it for five days.

When Monday came, we didn’t really know what to expect. Like we thought we’d try the nitrous oxide. And we didn’t know if she’d keep the mask on. Or how she’d react to the gas.

But Z sat down in the big chair. The assistant lay the seat completely flat. She put the little rubber snout thing over Z’s nose, and she didn’t push it away. Reilly got out his phone for her to look at while the dentist was busy.

The first minute was the worst minute.

The rest of it went the best it possibly could. Z relaxed really well and the dentist worked quickly. It seemed like a long time, but after applying sealant to the other molars and then cleaning out the cavity and then putting in the glue then the filling, I guess maybe 20-25 minutes passed? There was also a lot of water and air and suction and that flashy sterilizing light thing. It happened fast and in slow-motion at the same time.

I sat at the foot of her chair and gently squeezed her leg to let her know I was there. Reilly was next to me. That was probably more for our peace of mind than to comfort Z. She seemed completely fine.

I think maybe she was just enjoying the gas the whole time.

She really did terrific. Couldn’t have gone better.

I’m so grateful.

Quick Entry

We watched a scary movie this evening, and it’s pretty late, but I wanted to jot down that the word décolletage has been on my brain lately. First, because I’m starting to notice aging in that part of my body, and I’ve been trying to slow that down by applying moisturizer with AHA. Second, on the show Mad Men, Joan tells Jane–Don’s new secretary–to button up her blouse because her décolletage is showing, and she’s not being very professional.

It’s a random thing, but it may prove useful later on. We’ll see.

The scary movie was decently scary. It’s called Anything for Jackson, and apparently it’s that director’s first ever horror movie. Before this he directed a lot of Hallmark Christmas movies. Fascinating.

Anyway, I did do some deeper thinking today, basically continuing the discussion from Sunday’s class.

It’s nice to form thoughts. Sometimes my mind isn’t clear enough for it, but I’m learning to do it in order to clear my mind, so that I can form better, more substantial, meaningful thoughts.

It’s all a process.

An Article About Poetry

I was scrolling my Twitter feed yesterday and came across this article, which happens to discuss one of my favorite poems, WS Merwin.

To participate in Mental Health Awareness Month last month, I read a biography of Sylvia Plath. This month I read a revised edition of her Ariel. What I did not know was that Merwin and Plath were contemporaries. And since I had the amazing opportunity to meet Merwin in 2011, transitively I also met Plath. It counts, right?

I digress.

The article analyzes one of Merwin’s shortest poems, “Elegy.” And author Devin Kelly hooked me with this gem:

I’ve learned things from poems for the same reason people learn about anything: because they’ve spent quality time with it. When you sit with a single poem for a long time, when you type it out, when you speak it, when you try to unpack a line or feel the way a phrase fills your mouth, you begin to notice more about what the poem offers outward. When you pay attention — to anything, really, that has also been paid attention to in its creation — then the act of attention does not serve as an act of narrowing. Rather, it’s an opening — a givingness, to use that word again. All these doors open up the more you pay attention. They open out to light. They open to other rooms, other floors. They open to a hidden staircase. Another door.

Quality time is one of my love languages. Sitting with someone or something and letting it unravel, or actively unpacking it is one of my favorite things to do.

And I haven’t come across a single poem in my very limited experience with them that hasn’t invited me to spend time with it. I wouldn’t call them friendly nor aloof, but perhaps … alluring. And there hasn’t been a single poem I haven’t learned from.

Poems offer a chance to choose your own adventure. Or at least to hang on for a ride.

Read the whole article. Pay attention. You won’t regret it.

Comment

Today after our main church service I attended another meeting, sort of like a Sunday school class. The teacher led a pretty good discussion, and a thousand thoughts entered my head at the same time, reacting to everyone else’s thoughts.

I hadn’t attended a class like this since March 2020. And even pre-pandemic I didn’t raise my hand very often to contribute to the discussion. Without rehearsing I get really nervous speaking in front of people, especially after 15 months of not speaking in front of them. Yet today I felt my throat opening up and my vocal cords readying for air to pass through them as my brain prepared my lungs to expel this air as actual speech.

Which, at the same time, my adrenaline levels had significantly increased, causing my armpits to heavily perspire.

So I made my comment. And then I was done. And I listened intently to the rest of the discussion while wondering if I had said something wrong or offensive. Adrenaline was still pumping so I remained sweaty, but I was also sitting underneath the air conditioning (and close to a floor vent), so I was also freezing. But my shivering may have also been residual nerves?

I don’t know.

After class, someone made eye contact and said she was glad to see me. And that I made a great comment and had nodded the entire time I was talking.

I was grateful for that. She made the fear sweats worth it.

Fifty

Today’s the 50th day in a row that I’ve blogged. Not that a lot of those posts actually said anything important. But it seems significant to form a thought and write it down. Real action. Sort of. Whether those thoughts develop into something more substantial is a different story, but looking back at the past 50 days, all those posts had potential to become more. It’s encouraging to see the potential in things.

I can’t decide whether the past 50 days passed slowly or quickly.

The next 50 days are summer days.

Should be interesting enough.

Ten minutes left in the day. Cutting it close.

Here’s another clarinet video. Still in the mood for cheesy love songs. I’m a real sucker for those.

A Park Today

A family of old trees stand together. Their trunks shoot straight up before branches spread out the sky. I love their shade. Their calm presence. Their steadiness.

These trees help obscure an old house adjacent to the park. The house looks scary. Signs along the fence read, “No trespassing.” The trees in that yard are also old. The other foliage is overgrown. Branches gnarl and twist and canopy what might be a lawn.

Large arches signal entryways (NO TRESPASSING), but simple chainlink lines the perimeter. Between long, stamped-down stretches of rusty webbing, it stands somewhat upright.

The family of old trees serve as sentinels. They warn against going past them. They are a much more effective fence than the janky wire barrier. I do not go beyond them.

The straightness of the trees gives me strength. Bestows courage. Grants power.

The will to stay away from that creepy, old house.

Power Outage

The power went out in my neighborhood today. It might have lasted two hours. We spent the time reading and playing outside.

We also went out for tacos.

I mean, it was 75 degrees and breezy. I’ve experienced worse conditions during a blackout.

The NYC blackout of 2003, for example.

But even then, that seemed like a huge party.

That was a weird blog post from so long ago.

Oh! My blog had a birthday this week! 18 years old! My blog can vote and will likely attend a two-year school before transferring to a university.

Congratulations, blog. I wish you the greatest success.

A Successful Day

Today our family went to the dentist. And it was probably the best Z has ever done in her few years’ experience of biannual unpleasant visits to someone who went to school for years to learn how to probe teeth. We were proud of her. But: she has a cavity, and she has another appointment to have it filled. We don’t know how she will handle this. All her other teeth look great, though.

Oh! I also made the bed this morning! And passing by the bedroom a few times today, I looked in and saw a made bed and felt a little less stressed out. It’s also very nice slipping into a bed without having to tug at sheets to make sure my whole body is covered.

Back in December my cabin fever compelled me to cut off all my hair. It’s been slowly growing back, and now it is in the middle of an awkward mullet-like phase. I have two cowlicks at the base of my skull, which keeps the hair from lying flat against my neck. It just sort of half-fluffs out. So I’m sort of in the middle of willing my hair to grow faster so that the mullet-thing will calm down. I’ve pinned and clipped my hair down at the neck. It’s long enough to tie back into a ponytail, if the pony was tiny. Another month, and maybe it won’t be as bad.

Vain, perhaps. But I never said I wasn’t.