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.

sleep draining

Marcelo is asleep, and I can read some books for what seems words’ lifeless eternity. Mind has not drifted far from parent anxieties in 5 months. Navigating infant sleep is an eyeless mind-field, but he is thankfully by the grace of the somnolent god under night-long sleep punctuated by only some brief likely-unwaking low wails. I am jumping tonight between the following books:

Toxicon and Arachne by Joyelle McSweeney

Vibratory Milieu by Carrie Hunter

DMZ Colony by Don Mee Choi

The Recluse, Issue 17, January 2021

Lacking words, I’ve been pursuing a minor bit of home automation. The baby’s sleep was not amenable to the clicking of an old piano lamp in the bedroom so I decided on getting this smart power strip after reading one of the reviews in which a fellow Pi-nerd mentioned being able to flash some open source firmware onto the device, which is apparently ESP8266-based.

A few frustrating, brain-conking hours of failure later, I was able to flash TASMOTA with TUYA-CONVERT. I initially failed on my Ubuntu-based laptop, but switched to a Raspberry Pi 3 which I’m currently using as a print server. I had a good bit of trouble with the AP not appearing but finally had success after reading this issue in which someone mentions running sudo killall wpa_supplicant.

The device flashed a red LED and began clicking so I initially thought I might have bricked it, but reading the docs revealed that that was the signal of success, and that I needed to hit up its IP in the browser and configure.

The next step was to find a way to power on each switch with Google Assistant since we were gifted a Google Home Mini and use Android devices. After considering IFTTT, which I’d mucked around with a bit before, I stumbled upon another open source project called Home Assistant. After some mind-melting hours trying to figure out MQTT, I was able to get Mosquitto working, and the device was finally chattering away with my Docker instance of Home Assistant.

The last bit was getting Home Assistant to talk to Google, which was surprisingly straightforward.

Anyway, that was a lot of boring work to turn some lamps on and off so I bought another and did it in the living room too. I didn’t know much of anything about any of the above, and it was a honking annoyance so if you find yourself on a similar road and have any questions feel free to ask.

Before I forget, I wrote a small web app a month ago? to check the CVS vaccination website, and email me when there was availability so I could schedule my parents. Their systems were understandably a bit of a clusterfuck, but the app ended up working. I’ll github the code at some point and maybe do a little write-up.

regressions

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.

develop resolve

Five years resolve in eleven developed.

Some of the above (which are only selections from each roll) are cropped because I think a bit of tape was hanging over the lens. I hadn’t even had time to test the camera out before committing to 11 rolls so after getting back the initial set of digitized prints of mostly underexposed night shots, I still wasn’t sure what would come of the rest. As they came in I felt a bit of glee, a glimmer of joy, that the Holga hadn’t been a dud. Shoutout to The Darkroom for the smooth process in bringing these back to life.

Incidentally, I’d only waited five years because at one point I’d bought the chemicals thinking I’d set up a diy darkroom, gave up on that ghost, started researching places that do medium format film, decided they were too expensive, moved onto other things, and finally decided now that I could afford it. Now that I know the camera’s good, I may start shooting again.

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.

head’s thread

This thread I’m pulling now is pulling me through the hearted now. This is a record of today. We woke in the baby’s slow wake to feed. 404 push-ups / 406 crunches/leg lifts. Mom bought bagels from Bo’s for herself and dad. Baby burbled with new sounds. Roasted the last 8 ounces of Flores Ranaka Robusta while pourover of same brewed, and the smoke alarm stirred around minutes after second crack. Mom and baby done, baby into bouncer, and we bounce sounds while the coffee is clean but dark and slim bitter. Marcelo on the bed for second time with head raised. Out for groceries alone and return to him asleep, mom’s watch waning, wakes to our lunch. Walk east, three of us in mostly shade for a latte and espresso. Marcus Garvey Park is bubbling with muted joy of kids and dogs. I push the stroller, espresso pushing too. Home to dinner of lime butter white wine shrimp pasta, peeling de-veining freezer-burned thirteen in the sink listening to our collective MLK memories.

Something like a low gurgling joy through all of this, thread/river pulling mind alive. Maybe something waking to this baby boy.

familiar familiar

There is a bubble of ecstatic joy pressing up above the river beneath the quotidian air of my life. Something says it’s been there. What releases it? It’s surrounded by a fractal web of feelings that map against momentary stations of a lifetime. Each node is a world. How do I see this more clearly? How do I instantiate this state?

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.


All Teh Taaaaaaaags