Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

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A Day in the Life

This is how I've spent the last twenty-four hours:
• 11:00pm -- I'm driving through Oro Valley looking for a party. I shouldn't be going. I finally have the time to write. But I'm too tired to concentrate and hate to cancel. There's a six-pack of Sierra Nevada on the passenger seat. As I finally make the turn onto the correct street, I seriously debate turning around. I get out of the car, get halfway across the street, stop, then muster the courage to walk up to the front door
• 11:40pm -- I've settled into the party now. There's an island in the middle of the kitchen, reminding me of the parties we throw. I only know a few of these people, but I like their aura. I needed this.
•1:00am -- I'm nursing my second and final beer, waiting for the improbably offered Cajun burger on the grill to be ready for consumption. I make jokes about leaping in the frigid pool, about people who take speed, about anything I can think of that doesn't return work to the center of my consciousness
• 2:45am -- I'm back home, even more tired but still wired from my excessive nighttime coffee consumption. I sit down with the intention of writing, but find that I cannot think straight. I aimlessly click on my usual links instead. I read about the Washington and UCLA games. I read about Cuba's defeat of the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. I read my Live Journal "Friends" page
• 3:45am -- I'm jolted awake by a pain in my neck. I've fallen asleep in my desk chair, staring at a screen that has gone black. But the lights in my home office are still bright. I get up, try to stretch out the kinks, then make my way out to the futon in the front room. I feel around for my partner's legs and feet, not wanting to wake her by landing on them as I had two days previously. It's cold. As I crawl under the comforter, I realize that only half me is covered by the down portion.
• 8:00am -- I'm using all my powers to stay asleep, but the bright sun streaming in through our east-facing front window, the noises my partner is making in the kitchen, and the need to pee conspire to exile me from the futon sooner than I would like
• 8:45am -- My father asks me whether I'm going to go get the Sunday New York Times. I tell him he should do it, but then second guess that decision when my mother asks him to pick up antihistamine for her. I know where everything is in Walgreen's. I'll get back faster. I volunteer. But then my partner insists that I stay.
• 9:30am -- I sit down at the computer to write. I still can't think. Even checking my e-mail seems like an impossibly arduous task
• 11:15am -- My partner returns from jogging, asks me to feel her frigid thighs. It's raining. I hadn't even noticed. She goes to take a hot shower. A minute later the phone rings. It's our family friends up in Gilbert. The weather is horrible up there. They suggest that my parents cancel their trip scheduled for the afternoon. They will drive down to Tucson on Monday instead. I still won't get to see them, since I'll be returning from my daughter's field trip to the Desert Museum.
• 11:40am -- I'm crawling around in the front room with my over-stimulated daughter on my back, urging me to buck like a wild bronco. My spine makes ominous sounds, like ice cracking in a spring thaw. I'm extremely happy.
• 12:15pm -- We've moved on to a cool-down period. My partner has left to work on her writing at a café. I'm supposed to set my daughter up with the portable DVD player, but instead decide to prolong our quality time. I pull my Andrew Wyeth book The Helga Pictures off the shelf and we study it together, talking about the tension between abstraction and realism, wet watercolor and dry brush, foreground and background. Eventually, she goes to her room to get our favorite father-daughter book Cat and Bear, in order to show me the similarities between its illustrator Anne Mortimer's use of detail and Andrew Wyeth's. She asks me to read the book so that we can study the pictures. I explain to her again how I modify the book when reading it out loud to her, changing the male cat to a female, the "child" to "little girl," as per the proto-feminist taste preferences she had when I first read her the book nearly four years ago. Because she is seven now, I think it is time to explain the concept of the pronoun. She understands.
• 12:30pm -- I turn on the Pitt-Bradley game with the sound off, watching it surreptitiously every now and then as we laboriously make our way through Cat and Bear for a second time.
• 1:10pm -- It's lunchtime. My partner is still out. My parents help themselves. I give my daughter a bowl of shredded cheese. I want to get rid of some leftovers, settle on the fried rice I'd made Friday from the remnants of the previous Monday's wine-ginger-garlic beef.
• 1:25pm -- My daughter is making wonderful art with the colored pencils I sharpened for her. She's working on a sequel to Cat and Bear, she informs me, in which those two characters are made jealous by a new edition to the little girl's menagerie, a puppy. She also tells me that these are just sketches, not the final illustrations. She was clearly paying attention to the Wyeth book, which shows various pencil and watercolor sketches for his tempera and dry brush paintings.
• 1:40pm -- I'm driving Old Red through the rain to get my daughter a better set of pencils at Michael's Arts and Crafts. There was a 40%-off coupon in the Sunday paper and she clearly deserves new and better materials to work with
• 1:45pm -- I make a detour into the Borders-Sports Authority-Office Depot plaza. My ostensible purpose is to get a new electric pencil sharpener at Office Depot, which I do end up accomplishing, but my first stop is actually Borders, where I look first for a copy of Being and Event, then for that Donald Davidson book I'd seen the month before, then for anything in philosophy that interests me. My mind is working again, however briefly. I'm overwhelmed by the desire to read Carnap's The Logical Structure of the World, even though I recognize the folly doing so would entail. I pick up the Francis Bacon book I'd wanted to get my partner for Christmas, leaving the rest of the titles I covet for next week's once-a-year educator discount
• 1:55pm -- I drive from the Borders portion of the parking lot to the Office Depot portion, because it's raining and I'm feeling lazy. I have the radio tuned to AM 1290 and realize that the Arizona representative discussing the Wildcats and their upcoming opponent so intelligently is my former student, who has made his way up the ladder from one team manager among many to an assistant-in-training. It delights me to hear him
• 2:05pm -- I'm in Office Depot now. There's a single television, with a rabbit-ear antenna attached to it, tuned in to the Tournament. The color balance is way off and the picture is half dissolved in noise. But the George Mason-North Carolina game is all the more captivating for being submerged in imperfection, much like the Beach Boys' melodies in early Jesus and Mary Chain songs
• 2:15pm -- I've finally made it to Michael's, a store I loathe. But the pencils must be procured. As I wait in line, I look around at the other customers and am beset with the delusion that they are all Fundamentalist Republicans purchasing the raw materials for making the sort of crafts that give me apoplexy. I know I'm not totally paranoid, though, because they all have crosses around their necks
• 2:20pm -- As I exit Michaels's, I realize that I won't make it home in time to see the end of the Connecticut-Kentucky game. I walk briskly across the parking lot to Target and make my way to the Electronics section, where, sure enough, one of the dozens of televisions on display is tuned to CBS. The picture is only marginally better than it was at Office Depot, but similarly satisfying in its failure to communicate clearly. I make a note of my greater pleasure in watching the games in that context than I would in front of a big-screen set with perfect reception. I decide this counter-intuitive preference is worth blogging about
• 3:20pm -- My daughter and her mother excitedly preparing to put the colored pencils to work, I take my father next door to watch the Arizona-Villanova game on my father-in-law's giant television. I realize that I'd overstated my preference for a poor-quality broadcast signal. I'm pretty sure the Cats will lose
• 4:20pm -- My mother-in-law has joined us and is talking non-stop as usual. Luckily, she is confining most of her words to the game this time, unlike Friday evening when she blathered through the whole Cal-NC State game about matters of extreme triviality
• 5:15pm -- Arizona has left the Dance. It's alright, though, because they played well and were facing a 1-seed. My father and I walk home
• 6:10pm -- I'm sitting with my parents at the Mediterranean restaurant in the Trader Joe's plaza. I've ordered an eggplant dish with chicken. I'm pretty sure I made a mistake. Eggplant is so hard to get right, especially when it is fried.
• 6:45pm -- I made a mistake. My dish is decent. My dad's lamb schwarma and my mom's lamb kebob look way tastier. What was I thinking? Luckily, they have screwed up my parents' order and are giving us free desserts to compensate.
• 7:10pm -- Mmmmmm. The sopapilla-like, cheese-filled pastry I just ate is extremely delicious
•7:30pm -- I'm picking up a few things at Trader Joe's while my parents sit in the car. I engage in my usual repartee with the person checking me out. We agree that it's important to indulge a bit, because, as Prince says, "You and I know we're going to die someday/You think I'm crazy, you're probably right/But I'm going to have fun every motherfucking night."
• 8:00pm -- My daughter is reading Cat and Bear to her mother and grandmother, explaining all the modifications I make when I read the story out loud so that mom will do a good job when it's her turn
• 8:45pm -- I'm sitting on the floor of my daughter's room, lazily petting the cat, while she and her mother lie on the bed reading Cat and Bear yet again
• 9:15pm -- The futon is out. I'm talking to my partner about the various articles she's read and songs she's heard since we last had a real conversation.
• 9:30pm -- I'm resisting the urge to drive over to the bookstore to look for one of the many texts I've decided I can't live with out
• 10:15pm -- My partner is so inspired reading the first two pages of the book I got her, Gilles Deleuze's treatist on the painter Francis Bacon, that she puts it down to write a blog entry
• 11:00pm -- I've been writing this entry for twenty minutes. I'll still be writing it twenty minutes later.
I still can't concentrate at home. It's great having my parents visit. But the stress it puts on me and my partner is a lot to handle. At least I can record the minutiae of my day, though!
Tags: autobiography, everyday, humor

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