07 August 2011


I try.
I try so hard.

"You're like Mr. Spock," he said.
"You look so human, but it's like you don't have
feelings like us. You always do the logical thing."

And I am always a little
out of step with the world.
A little less good would be okay, they say.

Can you be kind to people and still
get ahead?
We think so.

I have feelings. I show them
very carefully
and only to those I trust.

Mostly, to other aliens.

04 August 2011

The Best Tool for the Job

It seems like, after thirty-five years of practice, razor manufacturers should have been able to make the best possible razor for someone who shaves their specifically grown face exactly like I do. I am not like everyone for whom they are making their razors. I am a specialist; a virtuoso. I specialize in my own face. I have been practicing it for thirty-five years, give or take a few when I disposed myself to allow the beard to grow untrammeled. My trammeling of facial hair is a task that I proposed, as a young man, to be good at. I got good at it, had a preferred set of best tools for the job, and went on with my life. Shortly thereafter, the razor-makers stopped making my razor and shoved me onto a different set. Not the best, but nobody made the best any more. So life has gone ever since. I have yet to have found a set of blades that shaves me as well as that twin-blade, double-edged, Teflon-coated safety razor did, when wielded well, which I felt was my responsibility as the wielder. No greater number of blades, nor greater flexibility of steel, nor even spring-loading of pivoting head is enough to make up for me determining and elucting (From eluctor, l, to struggle, the same root as ineluctable, which is inevitable or unavoidable, to eluct is to make a choice and struggle to make it bear fruit, as in the choice to practice to become a better musician, or orator, or human being. It is a word I have made up myself from latin antecedents, and I propose to continue using it as I see fit.) to learn to shave myself in the best possible way. As I mentioned, I have become a virtuoso. Like all virtuosi, I have found the best tools for the job. Just as Pinchas Zukerman has a particular Guarnerius that he plays, with a specific Lucchi that is peculiar to it, I have tools that I use for shaving my face. I can shave very well with other tools, just as Mr. Zukerman plays a mean Bach no matter which fiddle and bow he is presented with, but my favorite is best. It would be good if somebody still made it.

Which brings me to another idea. I am in the midst of being a little bit fed up with the way of the world. I'm not ready to bow out (I doubt that will ever be an option for me; I love my life, and my mate, far too much for that), but I can see a truly ineluctable problem. Let me explicate:

I am an extraordinary chef. I served an apprenticeship back in the mid eighties, and have much experience. I am of the “Toque Blanc” school, which differs from the “Cordon Bleu” in ways that I will not describe just now, except to say that it is not a merely political or social designation. It has meaning. I am one of the best working chefs of my generation, I do not hesitate to say. In addition to that, I am a trained musician, with skill and experience in reading, writing, and arranging, years of live and studio time, and a canny research scientist and writer, capable of generating questions of depth and clarity, and determining a most economical and direct elucidation. Finally, I am a truly gifted educator, with an ability to teach difficult concepts to under-prepared students that is uncanny. I do other things, as well, being a person of some fifty years on earth who has been interested in and motivated toward many activities, each of which, needing its own skill set, has required of me a certain degree of competence. (Let me also mention, here, that I am very well educated and read, with Bachelor's degrees in Zoology and Mathematics, and Master's in Entomology and Science Education.) I work hard to be good at the things I do. I work hard to make sure that the people who employ me in any activity are rewarded beyond any compensation for their perspicacity in choosing me to do the job that needs to be done.


As of this moment, and for much of the last year, I am and have been unemployed. I am a great employee. I do good work, I do it fast, and I do it at low cost to my employer. Somehow, due to the needs of the many, which are those to whom this world caters, I have been deemed largely unemployable.

It seems like, in the past thirty-five years, I should have been able to find that perfect job wherein I could have put all my skills to use doing great work for some grateful employer. That situation may not exist. However, there is a situation that exists anywhere there are people and jobs. There are jobs that need a virtuoso. Jobs that require someone who is great at making good decisions that are best for the company. Jobs that need a man who can work hard in a hostile, stressful, unforgiving environment, teaching the skills that are necessary for success to the people who really need them in order to succeed. Jobs that require both thinking on one's feet and the ability to research and figure out the best course of action for the future. Jobs that require communication and dedication and loyalty and hard work. I am a virtuoso at those jobs. They were created with my skills in mind; I am the correct toolset to get them done, the best tool for the job. It does not matter that most jobs can fit anybody that conforms to a certain norm. There are jobs that are perfect for me. So, why don't I have one of them?

It comes down to statistics. Most companies don't seem to care about making a great product. They care about making a lot of dollars. And that's okay. Statistically, a company can sell the greatest number of razors, made in the most inexpensive way possible (not cheapest, but least expensively based on economy of scale), when making them for them most statistically normal group of people. The product won't be great. It will be very good and will shave most people about as well as they care to be shaved. A virtuoso company can use pretty much any average employees to create great stuff. And I, a virtuoso shaver, can use any razor to get a great shave. But where, oh where is the company that wants a virtuoso employee to make the best stuff possible? I am that tool. I am that guy. I am more than a little fed up with a world that glorifies not being a virtuoso employee. I am not a regular, ordinary every-day guy. I'm the best tool for the job, and I'm still here, ready to do it. Where is the company that wants me?

05 March 2011

How to Spend a Life

There are a lot of strange things that happen in this world. Not least is the providence of finding another human being with whom we want to spend our life. And that is really the way I want to say it. My life is a currency that I value. Far more than money or the mere circumstance of time, life is the concatenation of all the events good and bad that make up our presence on earth; I will spend mine only on something of great value.

Marcy Stoeckel is the person for and with whom I wish to spend my life; it is a privilege to be with her. I don't need to be in her presence every second, nor is it essential that we do every thing together. We are different humans, who do the things we do in our life because we are motivated by the pleasure they give us, or the guilt they help us to avoid. But I want to spend the life I have with Marcy. I have no higher purpose; I have no other, more important motive. The use to which the rest of my life will be put is the pursuit of our life together. I celebrate that.

Marcy is a brilliant and funny woman, wise and kind, and angry and sad and hopeful, and she has chosen to be with me. I choose to be with her. I love her, and I want everyone in the world to know it.

11 February 2011

Home, after a long absence

...not many things as blue
        as the sky in Taos on a clear winter day... .

When Kali the Destroyer gives final suck
         to the world that will die and yet be reborn
The color of the poison with which she anoints
         her nipples
Will be the color of that sky.

The great god Thor has yet to find a paint
         so blue for his sky shield
And when he casts it behind the midnight sun
It looks a little pale and worn out
Compared to the sky in Taos.

It is said that Antonio Gaudi never
         came to Taos,
And so the pilgrims to La Sagrada Familia will not see there
         true blue, but
         only the approximately blue sky of heaven.

Every summer, beside a dusty old adobe in
         Arroyo Seco,
A cornflower sprouts; and, if it gets precisely the correct amount
         of water, and of drought,
It blossoms, a single floret of Taos sky blue.

Long ages ago, before there was a Taos,
         or a world,
The great old ones, Father and Mother,
         raised up their perfect child and
         named him Death.
And they clothed him in black -- of which
         darkest night was made in memory.
And they planted the sun in tribute
         to his smile.
And made the Earth so that all things
         precious therein could be his toys.
And so that none would ever mistake him --

His eyes are mirrors
         that reflect only those things
         as blue as the sky in Taos on a clear winter day.

Kokyu-Ho Nage

Sometimes it feels like my whole world
Is clinging to me
Holding me still.

The trick at such times is to keep moving at a measured pace, not too fast or slow.
Relax and
Remember to breathe in
And out.

Let yourself bend -- it's okay.
If you truly mean no harm
Your whole world will fall in behind you
Meek and astonished as a baby deer
At its first butterfly.

And you might, then, feel a little breeze
Sending you on your way,
Quiet, and open, and really, truly free.

Mot Juste

Some people
only truly live in our minds.

Their turn of phrase burns in our heart and we are inspired
to the elegant
that we fire deep into the well of their being,
slaying them briskly and efficiently.

And still they live, lovely objects of scorn
for us to strike down again
and again.

In Spring the Thaw (at least if there was a frost)

And down from the peaks
those same old pissed out molecules
tumble (late from the bowels of a chipmunk that died after two seconds
in the talons of a red-tailed hawk, a male; his first solo kill--)
tiny bits of life downhill

Sun shining, sere and hot:
when they later climb
the great sky ladder
what do we see...?

Who is to know which motes of sky
were made at the beginning of time
and rolled down that gentle but slippery
nineteen billion years high slope to us,
and which became, in that blink of moment,
testimony of a new creation?