Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

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New Friend

I inspired my friend Laura to start -- or I guess restart -- the blogging process. She's not an LJ user, however, so I'll need to link to her, as I have done with Steven.

That's a lot of entries for one day.

Steven has also been real busy of late, including an entry about Bad Subjects which, predicably, rankled me even though I have felt many of the feelings he expresses. Hear Lucinda Williams sing, "I can't let go."

If I get the energy, I'll respond here to what he has to say, some of which pertains to a review of mine that just went up on the site. That's not a given, though. It takes A LOT to get my rolling these days, with all the ambient stress -- my phrase of the year, apparently -- in our lives.

Reading Laura's blog tonight inspired Kim to take the plunge, here on LJ. I suppose it will be telling to see how well we can sustain our journals in the same household, on the same computer. One thing we've always been good at is preserving our separate identities, culturally speaking. People have often remarked that, at parties, we spend -- or spent, since we are parents now and never go to parties together, really -- almost all our time apart, talking to different people about different things.

I've always thought that was a sign of our relationship's health, relative to those couples that feel the need to "perform themselves" -- I apologize, Judith Butler, for giving in to the blasphemously etiolated version of your idea of performativity -- as a couple, cuddling with each other in public.

But when you have little quality time together as a couple, as working parents with busy lives do, the inertial reluctance to perform yourselves as a couple in public can spill over into private life with troubling consequences.

I read Steven's accounts of missing Robin on her business trips and the passage he quotes from that song about redheads and think, "Maybe I should be more like that."

When you've never been very successful at being like that, however, starting in middle life is not easy.

Kim was more like that when we first met than I was. Becoming a parent really redirected what was left of that mode in her, however.

So now we're the couple that divides up at a party, secure in our individuality, except that we're at home, alone.

Kim lay down on the sofa in the front room to read tonight, while I read -- Seneca, Montaigne, and William T. Vollmann! -- in the rocking chair next to her. It was the first time we had read alongside one another, in our old Vallejo mode, in years. I don't think we had done it since Skylar was a newborn. And it felt strangely restorative, when you consider how short it lasted. Kim fell asleep quickly, as was her Vallejo practice, but I'm here writing this, instead of reading, because I burned out on Vollmann again.

I think he's a great writer, but I can only take him in small doses, which poses problems, since he writes in very large ones.

Coming full circle, back to Laura's blog, when I read that she was "amused" by my entries here, I thought, "Why?" It's like those moments when I'm reading a paper at an academic conference and people laugh regularly. I don't mind per se, but it is a little unsettling to be amusing when you aren't trying to be.

Then again, since I spend the better part of my "public" day trying to elicit laughter, whether in the classroom, with my colleagues, or with my friends, it shouldn't come as a big surprise that I'm amusing when I'm not trying to be.

I suppose I want people to laugh and perceive the sincerity underneath. Yes, I'm describing myself the same way I used to describe Pavement to Kim, as I sought to convert her. I wanted her to understand that, from my perspective, it's not only possible for irony and spirit to co-exist, but desirable for them to do so. I discuss the same point, at far greater length, in the "Spirit of Irony" piece I wrote when I first arrived in Tucson.

Tomorrow I'll do my diary of road music from our trip, though the highlight was not a CD, but the moment when Marvin Gaye's "Heard It Through the Grapevine" merged with Game #1 of the Cubs-Marlins series, somewhere between Blythe and Phoenix.

Go Cubs, even if Sammy does get on my nerves. Go Cubs, for Prior and Wood, who are just fun to watch pitch. Go Cubs, for Dusty, who signed that baseball for Skylar and who walked those inner-city kids through the Candlestick Park locker room with more caring than you can imagine. . . and who introduced them (and me, as the BTF guide) to Bill Mueller, just up from the minors, and told them to watch out for his name, because he was going to be in the majors for a long time. That was 1996. In 2003 Mueller had a "comeback" year and won the A.L. batting title. I also got to meet Barry Bonds on the journey through the Giants remarkably run-down facility -- they needed a new park, believe me -- and talk about the experience more than I should. But, hell, when you're in the presence of greatness. . .

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