Lately and now I’m listening to Laura Veirs Found Light for the way it taps a vein of feeling that just now recalls to me Dark Dark Dark’s Wild Go. The slipstream of a headache is chasing me to sleep, and I wonder if death will truly be the relief that I’m entertaining these days of what that final end entails. I saw my dad’s face today in just-woken half-sleep over a belated birthday video call and was struck in my mind’s back-channel by our years showing there. Still there’s some otherness that calls with the inkling joy of the days ahead I can’t see but feel.


I’m sitting listening to Penguin Cafe thinking of memory and trying to remember what memory meant before algorithms drowned us in content. I’m trying to think ahead to what I’ll remember of these days when Marcelo will thread his own recollections into the story of his life. How well will I recall his first attempts at pronouncing grapes (buysh) without an audio recording? I started a single note on my phone the other day that never progressed beyond “I want to remember,” and I do, but my mind stops short there as if the bottom has dropped out.

father litany

His words grow. He begins to know letters. He’s excited to see buses and bikes and emergency vehicles. His favorite pond in Morningside Park has a resident egret and occasionally some ducks and two geese with their suddenly adolescent goslings and red-winged blackbirds and stray cats and turtles, always turtles all the way down and through. And he identifies them all. He kicks a ball. He points at everything and demands attention and identification. Let me write the memories before they’re absorbed by the body’s opaque, vestigial palimpsest. I chatter and chatter to lull him into patience, to tide him to the next impossible wave of childhood.

wending wall

Among the innumerable delights of being a father is that of your wee one toddling up unbidden with a hug at the back of your knees. That I have so little time to absorb these little joys means they’ll leave their traces without stirring any waves of future memory. How will this attachment fair through the years of our relationship? Already this palimpsest seems unfathomable in the light as his independence grows.

low blur

Was a time I kept multiple blogs and hand-written journals and notebooks and scraps of scribbles and sketches on discarded newsprint. Now it takes me five months to write one blog post. Begun reading again from something other than a screen. Marcelo is able to identify birds—egret, goose, robin, sparrow, starling, pigeon. Trying to do less. Bless this less.

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.

All Teh Taaaaaaaags