weird bones

Marcelo is asleep, and we’re watching a documentary about Joan Didion because she died today. I’ve never read any of her work. My left shoulder hurts from two vaccine jabs received at a Rite Aid where the security guards were holding back one of their own from being drawn into a fight at the door with a man whose nude rear end was open to the bike rack where I needed to return my Citi Bike. I’m deeply tired because Marcelo’s daycare is closed due to its director and other staff testing positive for Covid. All three of us tested negative, but Marcelo has a cold. He develops in amazing ways despite all, in innumerable daily changes.

o sage

Yesterday’s hawk, talons empty. We walk through Marcus Garvey’s chess players, strung out junkies, African drum circles and dancers, open air gym rats by the bball court, dog park walkers. The osage oranges are plentiful.

Marcelo now stands unaided briefly. He’s waving to Sesame Street monsters on TV. He claps and points. He hands me toys. He laughs randomly as if he’s remembered a joke. He seems ready to walk and speak any day now. Daily I’m pummeled by the darkness of our living dystopia, but this love that is our family of three is my refuge.

no know say

It’s Tuesday. Marcelo has come through his first cold for which I took a sick day Monday, and today was the first incident report at daycare (bumped his head, exploring under tables). I’m listening to Rilo Kiley‘s Take Offs and Landings because I missed it in 2001, and now I’m searching through e-mail and various digital files to see just what I was up to in that year and am coming up bupkis so it must pre-date much of my digitized life. Still feels strange to think of the gaps of unrecorded life Marcelo will never know. Will these almost daily photos/videos and digital ephemera be part of his tracing the history that arrives at the formation of his first memories? The accumulation of 42 years makes me wonder if I can make anything of it beyond a personal tower of Babel.

early delayed starts

Marcelo has started his first 2 full days of daycare, and he already seems changed in subtle ways I can’t place words around. I’m right now listening to an album I’ve never heard called Handfuls of Night, which the algorithm gods have set upon me. Arthur Jeffes, son of Simon Jeffes who died in 1997 of an inoperable brian tumor, started Penguin Cafe as the legacy of his father’s Penguin Cafe Orchestra. I’ve been listening to the latter since discovering them in the back of an issue of Paste Magazine, which I’d gotten from my high school girlfriend’s dad, who worked in advertising in NYC—all of which is to say that this web of connections and timeliness makes this meaningful to me in the wordless way in which Marcelo’s changes are likewise shifting my inner world in as-yet-unknown ways.

Another of today’s positive bookends is the discovery of an answer to a vexing problem, which I hadn’t had time to diagnose until just 15 minutes ago. NGINX had been failing on reboots on my server, and I just checked the logs to see this:

Sep  8 10:19:04 beto nginx[940]: nginx: [emerg] host not found in upstream "mosquitto" in /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/
Sep  8 10:19:04 beto nginx[940]: nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test failed
Sep  8 10:19:04 beto systemd[1]: nginx.service: Control process exited, code=exited, status=1/FAILURE
Sep  8 10:19:04 beto systemd[1]: nginx.service: Failed with result 'exit-code'.

Turns out mosquitto was starting after NGINX in systemd’s queue so resolution was failing, and the simple solution was requiring and starting after:


For weeks/months/years I accumulate the grains of seemingly minor problems that are the soul-grinding earworms of daily existence, and then a seemingly unremarkable day resolves them without any resistance.

A poem popped into my head. It started out “I am the proprietor of the Penguin Cafe, I will tell you things at random,” and it went on about how the quality of randomness, spontaneity, surprise, unexpectedness and irrationality in our lives is a very precious thing. And if you suppress that to have a nice orderly life, you kill off what’s most important. Whereas in the Penguin Cafe your unconscious can just be. It’s acceptable there, and that’s how everybody is. There is an acceptance there that has to do with living the present with no fear in ourselves.
—Simon Jeffes

everything is terrible let love rule

Washed the daily million dishes to a podcast about theory of mind, and now listening to the song referenced above (which I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard completely because the radio version wafting through the 90s never ended) and eyeing Marcelo on the baby monitor in IR grays rolling and settling into REM. And when? We’ll say a theory of mind loves a theory of mind.

open break break open

Tonight I let the algorithms guide me to Spinoza’s atheism and Kacey Musgraves on psychedelics. Marcelo is regressing but still mostly cheerful and no wonder if, as Kacey Musgraves relays that her child psychologist? says, children are basically tripping all the time. I think I am regressing too. I have glimpses of childhood feelings that I’d long forgotten about. We close with age, and the world breaks us open. Death resists our contemplations. Let us live in the open break.

endful summer

I haven’t written here in some time because Zark Muckerberg and his Facebutt cronies borked the API I was using to embed Instagram images, and after pointlessly navigating the comically bureaucratic/infuriating technocratic parody of a Kafkaesque developer application process, I gave up and finally decided to just convert all the photos/videos on this blog to the idiotically fragile embed codes that are provided on the front end. One day I’ll just ingest all those photos/videos into an Archipelago instance and host my own digital collections. Speaking of which, I now work for the organziation that built that open source project so setting up my own collections will serve a dual purpose.

Marcelo now climbs to a standing position against objects on his own. He burbles in word-like syllables and still crawls commando but more and more gets up on his knees. We’ll occasionally play Sesame Street on the TV by calling to the Google Home Mini, and his immediate recognition and excitement is evident. As in the video above, he often waves seemingly as a greeting but also as a signal of something else… maybe delight? Every day there are both subtle and dramatic changes, and I hope we’re guiding him to be good and loving and capable of happiness.

narrative undoing

Mother and son are asleep. I’m running various home IT/tech maintenance tasks like updating router (an Asus flashed with the excellent open source Merlin) firmware, renewing my personal domain cert, and running upgrades on my Raspberry Pis. The last of Saturday’s sun is glowing over the senior care building across 5th Ave., and yesterday I was thinking about how I’ve been misguided by simple narratives. How much of the mountain of self-delusion is built on the molehill of clean narrative that ignores the messiness and ambiguity of what happens in most moments? How often do I interpret and re-interpret these moments to suit the inertia of ego, the failed state of self?

Playing the guitar, singing, and chattering to Marcelo strips away so much of the usual self-consciousness of the performative self. There’s something deeply satisfying about this mode of being—one that contrasts with the persistent bubble of hollowness that attends the usual approval/validation-seeking state of mind. There is so much about this life I could never have conceived in my fallowest imaginations.


Regression renders 4 months in off-toned shadows. Variegated ahead run days, warp of timestamped I (weft of joy), probabilistic and sutured to reveal construction. Marcelo fitfully in milestones sleeps, and I slip into forgetfulness that joy returns also.

knocked wood

Marcelo is 16 lbs. 7 oz. today. I spotted the woodpecker while pushing him home from the pediatrician’s office, mom next to me with an insulated bag of tortas from Doña Maty’s. I’m listening to Angel Olsen’s All Mirrors as a sliver of sleep expands in my soul. Last night I was up until about the same time as now assembling baby’s crib, cutting up its oversized box, and trashing its styrofoam bits. The crib’s color is called lagoon. It’s a mini so it’s a mini lagoon I guess. Marcelo is swimming or floating then. The pediatrician knocked on wood to emphasize the expression, which is something some people do. I briefly thought of William Carlos Williams only because we are with a doctor in Spanish Harlem I guess. People are dying daily for a very specific reason we’re all aware of instead of the usual nebulous ineffable shadow undergirding all our pedestrian sightings of knocked wood.

101 days

The days though arbitrary have number once you pick one to count. There’s disagreement about the first day, but the last is indisputable as we know. The room is warm with sleep, wake, sleep again. Cedarwood sticks in rice send up wisps of farm in summer Korea—sun, frogs, heavy rains tamping dust.

bee sting and nothingness

Now he reaches far away from being and been. He’s at his ends. I live in half sleep liminal. The room swoons, and the void renders me unavoidable. Tomorrow a hundred days, sacral mortal number, cardinal luck for soju and rice cakes’ offering.

later elations

His hands move now with more intention. He holds them centered looking intently for his will in their grasping. He chatters loudly to us and mumbles to himself with a gaze that seems lost in thought. There’s a deep satisfaction in seeing what I’d experienced but of which I’d had no awareness. There’s joy in his joy that can’t be stifled. As the world becomes clearer for him so does our shared experience clarify something for me though I’m not quite sure what it is.

All Teh Taaaaaaaags