unrecorded firsts

At 2 months Marcelo begins to follow our faces and smile when he sees us. My vestigial, pre-dad impulses continue to make notes I won’t have time to follow up on. I mark time less and less as it marks me more and more. And as my colitis flares, I wonder how long this body gives me to let him know from his roots that he’s loved and that he’s born of love.

thanksgiving eve

10:41pm on the eve of Thanksgiving, and the low hum of never sleeping more than 3–4 hours at a clip is a slightly dicey, disembodied feeling. I slough balance as Marcelo rounds 6 weeks—a constant off kilter. The caffeine-frenetic wave’s crest glimmers far off from this drained space of opaque chromatic activity. Something’s going on underneath that I can’t see.

friday the 13th eve

Marcelo Francisco Min Chavez was born 9:23PM EST on October 13, 2020 at Mount Sinai West in New York City. How to think/feel about the fact that from his grandparents’ generation to his, we’ve gone from almost no photos of early childhood to a sinuous stream whose source is the exact recorded time of his birth? And the C-section—a word often passed so casually in conversation—casts a dull, deep pain, ineradicable from palimpsest memory. The fatigue-addled body’s minding gives less and less to reflection and revision. In fits and starts spirit inertia, like the baby’s own growth. His oddly paced, inchoate breath-rhythms and animal noises guide me through strange terrain.

liminal melons

There was an almost fall-like coolness to the air last night as we walked through Marcus Garvey Park and circled back to open our windows to cross-winds. This summer I’ve been buying Korean melons from the local H-Mart regularly. I spent some summers of my childhood on my maternal grandparents’ farm and in Seoul. My grandmother had a head of short, permed curly hair, and the crowns in her mouth gleamed when she smiled wide or laughed. I think her voice partly stands out in my mind because hers was an accent you won’t hear too often, and my food memories from those times are visceral. When we tried the baba ganoush one night at an Upper West Side Druze restaurant called Gazala’s, I had a Proustian madeleine moment because something about the eggplant’s smokiness enveloped me in a reverie of that tiny (now mostly empty) village. It’s a strange liminal state because the visceral memories are clearly imprinted, but my actual state of mind and feelings from the time are vague. Add to that my dad’s home movies on VHS tapes, and it’s a disorienting mixture of intimate closeness and decades-distant mirage.

Still, there’s a non-mystical feeling of ancestral presence about me. And I say non-mystical because it doesn’t feel extraordinary in any way but just as it should be. I do sort of feel like I should be lingering in it though—as if there’s something in it that I need to find.

4-mile sun

4 days in Cape Cod. 4 miles to Race Point Light and back along low-tide-soaked sands, seal heads slipping through red algae waves to eye us with curiosity.

Gull’s bones, buzzard’s meal disrupted, our son’s sleeping mouth moving in his mother’s belly-diffused light.

Now bends the light of now that I can’t see from tomorrow’s now. Remains to be what remains. What will these memories become?

fractal praxis

There isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said about the recent protests and the fucked-up-ness we’re seeing and have been seeing by the militarized psychotic police against our fellow human beings who happen to be cursed and blessed by blackness. Maybe the inertia of immense sadness and anger (the electricity of which I could feel when we happened to pass by the above march) is finally uncontainable.

It’s a strange time but so has it always been. It only compounds as the years pass. But still the fragments of something remain at the fringes (or maybe ubiquitous/obivious but awareness always only at the fringes like Kierkegaard’s indirect communication), something barely understood, inchoate, a sound outside the field of vision, permeating, pulsing, and moving one from within but just beyond comprehension. Today I really sang for the first time in a while and was surprised to feel something that had been there the whole time, even without outward song.

Recursive Child

The mother of my pre-born son (pictured above) is making me watch Back to the Future Part III, which I vaguely recall seeing in its theatrical release in the ancient year of 1990. It isn’t any better in this Covid era. Oh, and yes, voy a ser padre en Octubre. I’m trying to remember what 1990s me would’ve imagined about current me imagining 1990s me because that’s my eternal return. An early memory:

I’m 5. I’m in our first home in Jersey City after emigrating from South Korea. I’m reaching for something on top of the fridge. I become keenly aware of my physical growth. I project that growth to the future and try to imagine what it will be like to look back from that future self. It’s my first clear memory of experiencing recursion.

Another early memory:

I’m on the plane. It’s my first flight. We’ve just arrived from Korea. I’ve never heard a word of English in my entire life, and suddenly it’s everywhere. It’s my first experience of the oddness of a new language—the sound of language without sense.

Philosophy, language, and music—these are my archetypes. Where do I go now?

body in soul

I learned recently to identify squirrel alarm calls:

So today walking after dinner I knew right at that sound that the park’s current resident hawk must be near. Every time we see the hawk I’m reminded of Bruce Wilshire, and the words I read in his book and the phrases he used to use in class come back to me. Tonight I read some passages where he talks of fugues appropriately (recursively? fractally?). This wildness is necessary to live. No soul without body.


The days are the days turned in for our lost nights’ warmth, dreamless heat roiling in the mouth of no time to pass. An egret climbs north to circle south around the meer circling calls of redwing blackbirds. The evening gathers around us, 6 foot+ delimiters between self and other self. The physical inventory of meditation only reveals further recursive mysteries. Even from a distance your sounds become mine.

without music

For whatever reason I haven’t picked up my guitar in maybe a year or more. For some years I’d played for hours a day, but these last few… I’m not sure where that inertia has gone. What was driving it? Is it that these years of marriage have eased the loneliness that drove me to that musical impulse? Lately I’ve wanted to pick up things I’d put aside for some time.

Something about that red-bellied woodpecker’s call had stopped me during our walk. Reading Bruce Wilshire’s book has me attuned to new frequencies I guess.

it was some kind of me

Year in East Harlem, lease in its rustling bag knotted to the window grate, where’s the thread of some kind of me? Pink moon fills behind a Tuesday cloud of its light. What else are we waiting for in the staggered line, shifting in the rinds of ourselves, coming loose in grey folds?

in thru the out dream

We’ve been watching The Staircase on Netflix.

Spoiler Warning

What happens to one’s bodily minding to spend 8 years in such a small, hard space? I’ve always imagined myself meditating the whole time in such a situation, but even the Vipassana 10-day retreats I attended were in peaceful surroundings, even as we kept voluntarily silent and remained within the limited confines of the center’s grounds. And though we didn’t communicate with each other, we were amongst like-minded practitioners meditating and taking meals and walking. What’s it like to be so involuntarily isolated?

A colleague broke down in tears while talking during a video call and continued to talk, wiping away tears. The strain of the enormity of what’s happening against the maintaining of some vague semblance of routine and the pretense that there will be a return to normalcy is an impossible one to hold to, but I guess the fear of not knowing what this post-pandemic future will look like is even more unbearable.


In this post a week and a half ago I conjectured that the bottleneck of my music streaming service on my Android app was the NAS, but after finally digging through the logs, I discovered this wee bit:

2020-04-04 14:09:56 [admin] (play/index) -> Playing file (/media/music/Faith No More/Sol Invictus/08 Motherfucker.m4a}... 
2020-04-04 14:09:56 [admin] (play/index) -> Media type {m4a} 
2020-04-04 14:09:56 [admin] (play/index) -> Transcoding is not enabled for this media type. Valid types: {["native"]}

Turns out the problem was the transcoding of m4a files. All I had to do was add this line to the config:

transcode_m4a = required

And voila—no more hiccups. Like scratching a months-old itch at last.

As you can see above, I tried roasting my own coffee beans for the first time. I bought that Air Crazy popcorn popper years ago based on some things I read on the interwebs about being an adequate device for the purpose, but then I discovered that the only real way to get green beans at the time was to by in enormous bulk quantities or sign up for some inscrutable membership club and follow all kinds of arcane rules so I just gave up.

Meanwhile, the box traveled from apartment to apartment unopened. While checking in on a friend, I was made aware of this site that sells small quantities of the unroasted stuff. Amazeballs! The coffee world had transformed before my very eyes. Anyway, the first roast wasn’t so bad (though I’m probably not getting the best of it with my French Press, which is why I’ve ordered some new brewing supplies—more on that in a later post). Not having done sufficient research I learned that you should have a proper cooling system for the beans so for the next batch I’ve hacked together something (more on that in a later post as well).

The coffee, incidentally, is from my late abuelita-in-law’s home region. I haven’t had a chance to visit that area, but I was lucky enough to have met her and had the chance to make tamales under her guidance. I’ll have to post a drawing I made of her one of these days.

All Teh Taaaaaaaags