March 14: On This Day In History

Albert Einstein is born. Karl Marx dies. George Eastman commits suicide.

"After several tedious delays from clouded weather, on the 14th of March, we gladly stood out of King George's Sound on our course to Keeling Island. Farewell, Australia! you are a rising child, and doubtless some day will reign a great princess in the South: but you are too great and ambitious for affection, yet not great enough for respect. I leave your shores without sorrow or regret." - C. Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle.

Watching from my terrace, I observe a jetliner heading north, up the spine of Manhattan. The plane banks to the left, but disappears below the tall horizon of midtown before I can detect any movement to the left. I take it on faith that such movement occurred.

I walk out to the store and pass an SUV with a Florida license plate displaying the motto: "The Sunshine State". I muse on the notion of Floridians approaching each other, offering their hands in fellowship while beaming brightly and saying, evangelically, "We are in the Sunshine State."

I return to my apartment and hang my coat up on the deadbolt latch inside my front door. I see the Fire Safety Notice sticker placed there years ago by my landlord. It begins: "YOU ARE IN A COMBUSTIBLE (NON-FIREPROOF) BUILDING". I have long known this, I think, but can't recall ever noticing this bold declaration before, despite the fact that the sticker has been on my door for years. I take this as tentative proof that the hoped-for, cumulative effect on me of these "On This Day" entries is starting to kick in.

March 13: On This Day In History

Herschel discovers Uranus. In California, 400 people die when the St. Francis Dam gives way. Kitty Genovese, her screams ignored, is stabbed to death in New York City.

The cool, damp, gray, coastal weather reminds me of Seattle which reminds me of the time I was riding my bike to work and my front wheel slipped into an old trolley track imbedded in the asphalt. Oddly, that happened on a bright summer afternoon so I cannot think why the crappy weather this morning would remind me of that moment. In any case, I recall seeing the imbedded track too late and a moment later foreseeing in all its glory the scope and magnitude of the disaster that was about to happen. I recall convincing myself I would be able to control the bike even as the imbedded track took control of the front wheel.

The spill was spectacular. I slid for a while across the asphalt and then by the grace of friction came to a gentle stop. I don't know if I lost a pound of flesh but it was close, especially if you throw in the lost blood for a bonus. The world was silent and still for a moment, then I rolled onto my stomach and managed to get to my hands and knees.

And then I recall the time the same thing happened except I was on my motorcycle on a dirt road. The villain was a deep rut in the dried mud, obviously cut by a car tire during a rain storm a few days earlier.

I don't think I am ineluctably drawn to flaws in the roadway. More likely, I am incapable of imagining those flaws even though at least twice I have encountered irrefutable proof of their existence. I am not a brave man, and I am not by nature reckless. I'm a bit stupid, though, clearly, at least with regard to the possibility of ruts in the roadway. But part of that may be the fact that I am unquestionably mesmerized by time and space and scenery going past me on either side. I don't think I care all that much about the nature of the scenery. I think all that matters is the going past of it. I think, for me, going forward is a stupefying drug.

March 12: On This Day In History

Ghandi begins a 200-mile march to the sea. President Roosevelt gives his first fireside chat. "Mrs. Robinson" wins a Grammy. In Bombay, a bomb goes off and kills 317 people.

The phone rings and when I answer it no one is there. "Not in time? Try star-six-nine!" But the party at the other end apparently does not exist, or is veiled, or is too inconsequential to merit a second look inasmuch as star-six-nine cannot give me the number. I wonder why there was no answer in the first place. Perhaps it took everything the other party had just to dial the number?

I consider growing a beard and a moustache.

For no reason that I can think of, I remember a picnic I had with my father in the mountains above Tucson when illegal immigrants slowly emerged from the trees bordering the parking lot. They looked -- and in fact were -- desperate.

A weird email arrives from my brother. I speculate on its meaning, but then move on without drawing any conclusions.

On an unrelated matter, I experience a brief moment of satisfaction. Somewhat later, I notice the book I am currently reading sitting on my desk.

Through carelessness on my part, coffee grounds end up floating in my cup, but I see that perhaps by way of that same carelessness I have also overfilled the cup. I use a teaspoon to simultaneously skim away the unwanted grounds and remove the excess coffee.

March 11: On This Day In History

U.S. Steel is born. Explosions in Madrid kill 170 people. Mikhail Gorbachev becomes chairman of the Soviet Union's Communist Party. Janet Reno is confirmed as the first female attorney-general of the United States of America. The man who discovered penicillin, Sir Alexander Fleming, dies at 73.

I rise late as a consequence of having friends over last night. I continue my experiments with oatmeal. I will further consider buying a ceramic bowl. I will long for more time in the day even though I have nothing of any real importance to do today.

Already agreed upon arrangements will be made concerning the events of March 29, but they will take place beyond my ken. I will remember something I had forgotten. I will take a pill, and then sometime later I will take two others. Briefly, there will be a tickle in my ear canal, and I will wonder what it means, but then it will go away and I will never remember it happened.

The number of days I have left will have been decreased by one day. I will wonder, again, as I do almost every day, why it doesn't bother me that shortly after I die it will be as if I never existed.

In Memory

May 2006

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