The Christmas Miracle Spider

December 27th, 2006

The 2007 Buick Rendezvous is where comfort, capability, and capacity meet. With seating for seven, it is the ideal vehicle for a family vacation.

Christmas Eve 2007 found me in a silver and black Rendezvous pointed towards Beaufort, South Carolina. My 6’0″ frame was packed into the rear, fold-up seat. My grandparents would have refered to it as the “rumble seat.” The Keller sisters, Abbi, Meredith, and Pembry sat before me, while Mr. and Mrs. Keller sat in the pilot and co-pilot positions, respectively.

Mr. Keller was easing the Rendezvous’ out of Bray’s Island Plantation towards Route 17. The windshield wipers were sweeping aside a light drizzle. Abbi and Pembry were singing along to WYKZ (“The River: 98.7 on the FM dial”), while Meredith tapped away at her Blackberry™. I was quietly taking it all in.

“Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!”

Meredith began waving her Blackberry™ wildly.

“SPIDER!!!”

The disturbance spread quickly, like a boulder through a muddle puddle.

“What!?! Where!?!?” Abbi asked. “Dad, turn on the light.”

“Is it big?” Mrs. Keller asked.

“Oh my gosh,” Meredith said with a shiver. “It’s huge! And hairy!”

Mrs. Keller unleashed a bloodcurtling scream, equal parts laughter and terror.

“Richard!!! I felt it! I felt it! It’s crawling up my leg! Stop the car!!!”

The Rendezvous came to a sudden stop. The women evacuated, backlit by halogen composite headlamps. The Kellers searched the vehicle high and low.

“It’s under the floor mat,” Mrs. Keller said.

“There’s no room under the floor mat,” Mr. Keller chuckled. “Besides, how would it get there so quickly after Meredith flicked it from her Blackberry™?”

“Spiders shoot webs, Richard!”

“It’s the Christmas Miracle Spider,” is said to myself.

Amidst gasps and laughs, the spectre of the spider loomed larger and larger, soon reaching tarantula-sized proportions. I kept to myself, there in the back, quietly grinning at my anonymity in the face of the unwanted guest. I secretly relished the mini-drama, itself small evidence that all families are, in fact, created equal.

“C’mon,” Mr. Keller said. “Let’s get back in the car. We’re late for our reservations.”

The Rendezvous began creeping forward. Calm began to settle. Meredith turned on the overhead light to browse her iPod.

“It’s on the ceiling!!!” Abbi screamed.

As I reached up to destroy the object of our terror — a hapless, generic arachnid no larger than a thumbtack — Mr. Keller’s right hand struck the decisive blow. He rubbed the spider into the vinyl, gathered up the remains, and tossed them out the window.

“There,” he said.

* * *

In the small hours of Christmas Eve morning, as the Kellers slept hours before The Christmas Miracle Spider Incident, I tiptoed around the rental hanging short strands of white lights, and red chrome Christmas balls. Later, as the second pot of coffee brewed, I pulled on my boots, grabbed the biggest knife in the drawer, and felled a three foot swamp pine in the back yard.

A funny thing happened in my rush to characterize Christmas as a crass, capitalist, logistical nightmare. A surprise occured as I overidentified one heartbreaking afternoon in 1980 with every one to follow.

Somewhere between New York City and Sheldon, South Carolina, between chalking my family up to dysfunction, and rabidly crafting and collecting gifts for my precious nephews, I found the Christmas spirit, alive and well and laughing along with The Kellers in a silver and black Buick Rendezvous in the rain.

The Tower Of Song – MP3

December 26th, 2006

Somehow, at year’s end, Leonard Cohen seems to say it best:

I bid you farewell, I dont know when I’ll be back
They’re moving us tomorrow to that tower down the track
But you’ll be hearing from me baby, long after I’m gone
I’ll be speaking to you sweetly
From a window in the tower of song

[audio:towerofsong.mp3]

The Greatest Discovery

December 21st, 2006

Elton John was born in Middlesex, England, on March 5, 1947. My brother, Christofer, was born in Waterloo, Iowa, on November 29, 1968. I was born in Iowa City, Iowa, on September 4, 1971.

Some weeks prior to my birth, my very-pregnant mother posed for some photos in a sun-dappled corn field with my father and brother.

Mr. John’s eponymous debut, fueled by hits like “Your Song” and “Take Me To The Pilot,” was still burning up the airwaves that summer. It was in heavy rotation in the Wagner household when I came quietly into the humid, Iowa midnight. One of the lesser-know Taupin/John compositions on the LP is called “The Greatest Discovery.” The song, a sweeping, soaring, piano ballad punctuated by harp and cello, witnesses the birth of a child through the eyes of an older brother.

My father left Iowa City for Waldorf, Maryland, a few days after I was born. The rest of us joined him a few weeks later. (“If this boy ever gives you trouble when he grows up,” my grandmother told my mother, “Remember what an angel he was during this move.”)

Sometime thereafter, friends and family from Cedar Rapids to Cedar Falls received my birth announcement: an 8″ x 17″ silkscreen of the photo in negative alongside Bernie Taupin’s lyrics:

Peering out of tiny eyes
The grubby hands that gripped the rail
Wiped the window clean of frost
As the morning air laid on the latch
A whistle awakened someone there
Next door to the nursery just down the hall
A strange new sound you never heard before
A strange new sound that makes boys explore

Tread neat so small those little feet
Amid the morning his small heart beats
So much excitement yesterday
That must be rewarded must be displayed

Large hands lift him through the air
Excited eyes contain him there
The eyes of those he loves and knows
But what’s this extra bed just here

His puzzled head tipped to one side
Amazement swims in those bright green eyes
Glancing down upon this thing
That make strange sounds, strange sounds that sing

In those silent happy seconds
That surround the sound of this event
A parent smile is made in moments
They have made for you a friend

And all you ever learned from them
Until you grew much older
Did not compare with when they said
This is your brand new brother
This is your brand new brother
This is your brand new brother

My brother is my best friend. During the dark fall of 1980, when my parent’s fighting shook the rafters and drove me into hiding beneath a pile of winter coats in the basement, my brother wrapped his arms around me. That’s my brother and my relationship in one sentence.

I’ve been thinking about, listening to, and contemplating on that song since Edward entered Ethan’s life on that humid, New York afternoon in July. Edward arrived with urgency, enthusiasm, and drama. He was nearly three weeks early. Jen and Ethan delivered him alone in the apartment. Chris and the midwife arrived moments later. Ethan, then barely three-years-old, and suddenly a big brother, let them in. Later, when I arrived, I spent extra time with him before meeting his little brother. I wasn’t sure what he’d seen, or how frightening it was for him. I wanted to know how he felt. I wanted to know that he was all right.

Ethan is an astounding kid, really, at once fiery and independent, then distant and shy. And he loves his little brother, so much so that his parent’s need to remind him that Edward is still a fragile, little baby. “Suave,” they repeat patiently. “Suave.”

For Christmas, I compiled my favorite photos of Ethan and Edward into a hardbound book called, “The Greatest Discovery.” On the inside cover in a vinyl envelope is a new album a limited edition six-song EP, called “Songs In The Key Of Ethan.” I’ve been up well into the wee hours recording it for three nights straight. Still, it’s not quite the collection of lullabies, hymns and standards I would wish for my little buddy. I ran out of time, so couldn’t record everything I wanted to. And I didn’t have the equipment to record it as well as I wanted. I worry that it won’t be good enough, that he won’t like it, get it, or listen to it.

Ethan is suddenly my toughest audience.

“The Greatest Discovery” is a complicated song to sing. It’s right on the upper edge of my range, and loaded with strange key changes. Also, Elton’s performance is emotionally nuanced. He set the bar pretty high. Moreover, though, in the few times I’ve practiced singing and playing the song, I haven’t been able to make it through the last line without choking up.

And so I put off recording it until last thing. I put off the title track, the emotional core, the thesis of the entire project — until well after midnight last night. The sky was dark. The city was sleeping. I was exhausted. My voice was fading. And sure enough, as I approached the final lines — “And all you ever learned from them, until you grew much older did not compare with when they said, ‘This is your brand new brother'” — I felt chills run up my arm, and a lump gather in my throat.

The valence between family members is strong, magical, and mysterious. It is, perhaps, the greatest gift of all. In this season of shiny baubles, colorful paper and bows, it is the gift for which I am most grateful.

Still, I hope Ethan likes what he finds underneath the tree.

Person Of The Year

December 19th, 2006

Ed Gorham, Associate Director of Syracuse University’s alumni relations, left me a message last week. “We’re hosting a panel Monday night,” he said. “The subject is the future of television. We’d love for you to participate.”

“Bob Costas not available?” I quipped.

Never one to pass up an opportunity to a) address an audience or b) pimp my singer/songwriter sideline, though, I said, “Of course.”

“You can speak on whatever trends or issues are appropriate to your specific specialty,” he said. “Anything from media consolidation to the encroachment of the Internet.”

“Encroachment of the Internet!?!” I thought. “What does he mean, ‘encroachment’!?! The future of television is the Internet!’

“And it would be really helpful,” he concluded, “If you could reassure the stdents that there is life after SU.”

Fast forward to last night. I’m seated with a few thirtysomethings at a long, narrow table in front of a few twentysomethings. The panel included a video editor, a researcher, a series director, an anchor, and an executive. I was the executive. And the oldest person on the panel. Both of which were kind of astounding.

I gave the students an abbreviated version of my usual speech, de-emphasizing all my extra-curricular activities except rock ‘n roll. “When I was fifteen, I was the editor of my high school newspaper, and played in a band called Neoteric Youth. I’m thirty-five now, the executive producer of MTV News Digital, and play in a band called, well, Benjamin Wagner.”

Unlike some of my peers who actually prepared for the presentation, I was (obviously) freestyling.

“I mention the fact that I’ve self-released ten records in the last ten years not because I want to grow my audience (though you can download my songs on iTunes),” I said, “but because a) you need to remember that that which you do does not define who you are and b) the fact that, at thirty-five years old, I have even a sliver of a music a career is completely salient to what we’re going to talk about tonight: the death of the mainstream, and the rise of the long tail.”

Only after my brief introduction did it occur to me that twenty-two year olds might not have any idea what “the long tail” is. So I tried to explain.

“The Rolling Stones haven’t recorded anything good since ‘Sticky Fingers,’ but they still have a career. Why? The long tail. They can sell a ten copies of each of their first ten records for ten days and make more than they will on ‘A Bigger Bang.’ Remember ‘A Bigger Bang’? Exactly.”

When asked to represent the biggest trend in my corner of the industry, I’m sure I sounded like a lunatic.

“There hasn’t been a revolution in media this big since Gutenberg started printing Bibles and Martin Luther nailed his ’95 Theses’ to the church doors.”

The students kind of giggled, and I said, “I know that sounds like hyperbole, but I’m tellin’ ya’: this is an exciting time. Anything goes. All bets are off.”

I’m not going to bore you. Actually, I’d be happy to bore you, but I don’t have time at the moment (I should, after all, be working). Anyway, you read stuff; you know what I’m talking about. Big Media is dying. Gatekeepers are losing their grip. Blogs, transparency, user generated video, dynamic intelligence, time shifting — everything is changing. It’s not about worshipping at the alter of The Big Three, it’s about making your own videos and posting ’em on You Tube, it’s about shooting your own movie and distributing it on iFilm. It’s all about You, Me, and Us. Heck, we’re Time magazine’s Person of the Year!

I’m not sure how articulately I communicated any of the above. Probably not so. But I certainly communicated my enthusiasm, and — hopefully — my optimism. ‘Cuz, I mean, I always expected to be on the cover of Rolling Stone. But Time?

Lucid Dreams

December 17th, 2006

I had a dream last night which I consciously experienced as if watching a television show. That is, I remember thinking, ‘I’m dreaming. I should wake up. But I’ll wait until the dream is over.’

When I woke up, it occured to me that this phenomena could only have occured subsequent to 1934 (later, really, but not before). And I wondered, will kids who grew up with video games begin to act upon the outcome of the dreams in the same way that I passively — though consciously — waited for mine to end?

In other news, you’ll notice in the associated photo that the air conditioner is still in the window over my shoulder. That’s mostly due to the fact that I’m lazy. But it is 54° at 11:37 p.m. on December 17th. Despite the current administration’s protests, it feels more like North Carolina than New York these days. I don’t mind, but the Hudson isn’t lapping at Broadway. Yet.

You’ll also notice that I have something resembling a beard goin’ on. That’s two weeks of growth you’re seein’. Which has less to do with fashion, and more to do with the fact that I still have the weird stress-related thing in the corner of my mouth. Whiskers hide it. Still, I expect I’ll shave it off in the morning. I’m speaking on a panel at Syracuse’s Lubin House on The Future of Television. Best not to look like Paul Bunyan.

On Saturday, Chris and Jen had us over for a tree trimming last night. Ethan was pretty excited, hanging every ornament at roughly two feet off the ground. Edward was largely non-plussed, but he’s barely six months old, so one can understand. We all sang some carols, which was pretty cute. Then Abs and I hit a full battery of holiday parties, popping from the Upper West to Midtown East to Dumbo. Oddly, I don’t remember one conversation I had between eight and one o’clock.

Correction; I remember one. A dude named Adam and I were discussing the death of the music industry for a while. I explained how my home studio and iTunes makes it possible for a guy like me to keep making music, evern if I just earn a few thousand dollars a year from it (and by “earn” I mean “pay back what I spent on equiptment,” but still). It was basically a Long Tail 101 conversation, during which he asked, “So will there ever be another Bono or Eddie Vedder?” Meaning, does The Rise of The Niche and The Death of The Mainstream pell The End of the Great Big Crossover Star? Which is a good question.

And which leads me to “Casino Royale,” which I finally saw tonight, and really dug. I used to be a huge Jackie Chan fan (prior to his issuing me a cease and desist order, but that’s another long — and completely true — story). To some degree, the new Bond moves fights Chan: quick, nimble, acrobatic. But he’s also almost primeval, almost primate. As you’ve no doubt read (or seen) by now, the film goes back to Bond’s pre-“double o” origins. He’s ruthless and unrefined, not he slick, suave Bond we’ve come to expect. It’s original, smart, and inventive. I liked it. Yunno, for a blockbuster and all.

Which reminds me that Chris Abad asked me to play his wedding in January. I’m singing while people take their seats, while Chris walks down the aisle, while his betroathed, Meg walks down the aisle, and during the ceremony. It’s a terrific honor. So Saturday afternoon we browsed my catelogue to decide what to play prior to his big entrance. Of course, I had to laugh; not a lot of my songs are wedding material. Most of ’em are about heartbreak. Still, we found a few. But looking over nearly fifteen years of songwriting really made me think that maybe I should release some kind of greatest hits record. That may sound absurd, but as long as you re-adjust your notion of “hit,” it makes some sense.

One thing’s for sure, I’ll be releasing my children’s album before my greatest hots album. Primarily because I’m finishing one off this week. I mean, kinda’. I’m recording a few songs for Ethan’s Christmas present. I noticed when I babysat last week that he falls asleep to acoustic music like James Taylor and Indigo Girls and thought, ‘He should be falling asleep to me!’ So, in addition to obvious children’s songs and lulabies (“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” “Hush Little Baby”), I’m recording him some other cool songs that kids should know, like “This Little Light Of Mine,” and “This Land Is Your Land” and even “Mr. Tamborine Man.” I’m pretty sure that children’s music doesn’t have to suck. So it got me thinking about recording a solo/acoustic children’s record full of songs that parents and kids can enjoy together. Stay tuned.

Which reminds me that I’m also finishing up a few Christmas carols for The Morning Mix. They should be done by Tuesday or Wednesday, so be sure to tune back in to download some holiday cheer from your Grinch-in-recovery.

Meanwhile, it’s getting on midnight, so I gotta’ call it a day. I have a lot to do tomorrow.

Like shave.

With Your Feet In The Air And Your Head On The Ground

December 14th, 2006

All week long after work I’ve been watching Spike Lee’s documentary, “When The Levees Broke.”

The film, subtitled, “A Requiem In Four Acts,” is harrowing, heartfelt, and heartbreaking. It’s made for a few sobering ends to a few long days. But man, oh man, does it make ya’ wonder, What the fuck is going on? Where, to paraphrase my favorite Pixies song, is our mind?

I don’t have the time or inclination to line up all the facts, but you remember the highlights. Seven o’clock Monday morning, Hurricane Katrina makes landfall east New Orleans. Shortly thereafter, Mayor Nagin reports the first levee failure. Four hours later, George Bush shares a birthday cake photo-op with Senator John McCain at the Pueblo El Mirage Resort and Country Club. Eight o’clock that night Louisiana Governer Kathleen Blonco tells President Bush, “We need everything you’ve got.” Shortly therefater, Bush goes to sleep having raised nary a finger.

Um, huh?

Remember when, for a full seven minutes after Chief of Staff Andrew Card whispered “Mr. President, the United States in under attack,” Bush continued reading “The Pet Goat” to the children of the Emma E. Booker Elementary School?

Same guy.

Despite reports that 80% of New Orleans under water, and CNN’s hours upon hours of dramatic, heartbreaking footage, it took our president nearly three days to survey the scene — from the comfort of Air Force One. It took him until Friday to actually land the plane, and get his loafers wet.

I could go on. 25% of the nations oil and natural gas come from waters just a few miles of New Orleans; New Orleans get zero revenue. Those same fossil fuels drive global warming, which diminishes wetlands, which serve as buffers against storms. Of course, Bush money is all wrapped up in oil (like their friends, the House of Saud, who a) whisked Bin Laden family members back out of America on September 12th and b) stonewalled the U.S. investigation into all fifteen of the nineteen September 11th hijackers — who were from Saudi Arabia).

I wasn’t intending to write (another) diatribe against The Bush Administration. Nor am I (completely) conspiracy minded. It’s really bigger than all that. It’s really more about social justice, and priorities. It’s really more about me and you, about us.

For now, though, because it’s late, and I’m tired, I’m just wondering, what are we thinking? Are we really that interested in Monday Nigh Football and Beyonce’s Golden Globe nominations and Mel Gibson’s latest gaffe that we can’t see that all around us the levees have broken, and the water is rising?

Like Frank Black says, “Your head will collapse if there’s nothing in it. And you ask yourself…”

You ask yourself, where was Chertoff? Where was Cheney? Where was Rumsfeld? Where was Ridge? Where was Bremmer? Where was Bush?

Worse, where were we?

Way out in the water. See it swimming.

Cheer

December 13th, 2006

I was ducking into Andy’s Deli on the corner of 80th & Columbus on my way home from a beloved colleagues bon voyage party when I spotted it there, big as a whale.

An 18-wheeler loaded twenty deep with Christmas trees was straddling the east side of Columbus behind the Natural History Museum.

Where one might think I’d turn all Grinch and mutter, “Damned capitalism!” under my breath, but I couldn’t help but smile. The sheer volume of trees — imagine a rectangle of pine fifty feet long, fifteen feet wide, and ten feet deep (that’s 7500 cubic feet of cheer!) — was staggering. The amount of joy that one truck load of trees represented, well, it was tough not to feel it.

Three guys (elves!?!) were atop the great mass. Two were unloading. One was laying down, resting (one would imagine) from the long trip south.

And the smell? Oh, the bittersweet bite of evergreen. I love it. Kinda’ makes a guy reconsider his whole position on the whole holiday thing after all.

Cliché

December 12th, 2006

I’m certainly guilty of a few rock cliché. Sometimes intentionally. Luckily, none in the top twenty.

Well, one maybe.

Yunno those email lists you can’t get off of no matter how many times you unsusbscribe? I’m on a few of ’em. One of ’em is music related. Comes from a guy named Mikel Derby. I think I got on it thanks to my pals in The Nadas (who I dreampt last night crashed my offices, but that’s another story).

Mr. Derby likes to circulate all sorts of articles on the music industry, sometimes as many a four or five a day. Usually, the subject range from the Death of No Depression or The Ubiquity of MTV or The Genius of Pete Yorn. In other words, I rarely count said articles as insightful, presumably because a) I’m surrounded by conversations every day and b) my perspective tends to be that of a semi-jaded, semi-corporate, semi-working musician (that is, I work for a corporation and have been surrounded by the general media’s inability to recognize or reward talent).

This morning, though, I got a fun one. The subject line read, “The 89 Most Redundent, Repetative Cliches In Music (Because 100 Would Be Cliche).” Figuring that three fourths of my lyrics would be indicted, I read on. Here’s the top twenty:

# 20. The Posthumous Album
# 19. Dating Winona Ryder
# 18. Firing the Drummer
# 17. The Mother Theresa Syndrome
# 16. The Spoken-Word Breakdown
# 15. Courtney Love
# 14. The “You’re Ugly, But It’s OK” Song
# 13. The “Girl” Song
# 12. Attacking Photographers and Reporters
# 11. The Onstage Meltdown
# 10. Gangs Members Gone Good
# 9. Dissing Bush
# 8. The Rain Sequence
# 7. Rehab
# 6. Bum Rushing the Show
# 5. Working With Timbaland
# 4. Dating a Stripper/Porn Star
# 3. Lighters
# 2. Beef
# 1. Yelling ‘Freebird’

The bad news is that Goldner yells “Freebird” at nearly every show, no matter how tenaciously I lobby against. The good news is that, excepting the fact that I write plenty of “Girl” songs (“She” songs really, but thelist calls out the concept, not the specific), I think I got off scott free.

Though I have explained to Abbi that, should I die unexpectedly, I’d like my all twelve of my albums, all of my “Morning Mix” recordings, and as many servicable live recordings released in a massive box set. Tupac, however, will not have a cameo.

Editor’s Note: Mr. Derby emailed in his defense: “I do sing the praises of many musicians – particularly Todd Snider (and The Nadas, Josh, Will Kimbrough and yourself…) but not Pete Yorn! He’s a fine musician i’m
sure but not one I listen to much, if at all.” I tucked my tail between my knees, and encouraged him to keep his emails coming.

Stealing Home

December 11th, 2006

I played third base on the Oak Park T-ball All Star team.

The All Star Game was on July 4, 1980, on Ridgeland Commons field, just across the street from OPRF High School. It was the first time I played baseball on a manicured, grass and dirt diamond. I hit the first RBI, a triple that led my division to an 8-2 win.

I was nine-years-old.

Twenty-six years later, the trophy rests downstairs on my living room bookshelf.

It was my last sporting victory.

I joined the Pony League — fast pitch — the following spring. In the third inning of our first exibition, I stole home. When the dust cleared, I was safe. But my wrist hurt really badly.

The only adult in attendence was Tommy’s dad, Mr. Meyers, from down the block.

“Is your mom home?” he asked.

“Um, yeah,” I said, wincing. “But she doesn’t live with my dad anymore.”

My wrist was broken. I missed the remainder of the season. In August, my mother moved my brother and me to suburban Philadelphia.

Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, was light years from Oak Park, Illinois. The kids were wealthy, and in a hurry to grow up. They listened to The Who, and smoked pot. In sixth grade.

Me, I was recovering from The Lost Year. The chaos of my parent’s divorce was distracting. I hadn’t learned a thing in fifth, except that things fall apart.

I tested into a fourth grade math class, and a fifth grade English. The other kids teased me. I got tutored. The other kids teased me. I shared jeans and sneakers with my mom. The other kids teased me. I sat around during recess listening to my Walkman. The other kids… you get the idea.

In the spring, when I went out for little league, I could scarcely hit the ball. I was walked a lot. The coach put me in right field. It was my last season on the diamond.

In “A Farewell to Arms,” Hemmingway writes that “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places.”

I have been broken more than once. The Wrist. The Jaw. The Divorce.

Every fall, it seems, my mortality is back on display when, at the end of another busy year, I slide into winter with another energy-sapping illness. I have been walking up and down the spiral staircase between my bedroom and living room for three weeks.

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places,” Hemingway writes. “But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too, though there will be no special hurry.”

I want to believe that which does not kill me makes me stronger. But I have a fragile radius, and a glass jaw.

And I want to believe that my heart is tougher for the tearing. But I think, in fact, that the scar tissue is weak. And on days like today — weeks like this week, months like this month — I am certain that it is killing me too, though in no special hurry.

Maybe it’s futile. But maybe we have no choice but to stand up, and take another swing.

Shiver (Or, Rx Volume II)

December 8th, 2006

Some forty-six blocks downtown, my colleagues are toasting another banner year at the MTV Holiday Party. I just washed down a fistfull of pills with my third fruit smoothy of the night.

There’s nothing lamer than reading blog posts about illness, and how this hurts and that hurts and so on. And lord knows I’ve written a few in the last three weeks.

In summary, I’m sick again. Or, I’m still sick. I went back to the doctor this afternoon. She thinks last week’s sinus infection was stronger than last week’s antiobiotic, so she gave me a new one. I saw her 1000mg of Levaquin, and raised it two Sudaphed, two B12s, two Ibuprofin, and a multivitamin.

When I interviewed Aimee Mann a few years ago, she mentioned a graphic novel called, “It’s a Good Life If You Don’t Weaken.” The phrase stuck with me. It is a good life. And I don’t like feeling weak. I don’t like slowing down. There’s a ton going on at work. Christmas is coming, and I really do want to get in the spirit of things. And I want to get running again. Right now, though, I feel like everything is falling apart around me in slow motion, and all I can do is eat, drink and sleep.

The wind is blowing outside. The windows are rattling. Downstairs, the radiator is making a knocking sound. My mouth tastes like metal. My head feels like an anvil.

I’m not sure what this weakness is about. And I don’t like it. But I’m listening to it as best I can.

G’night.