Glorious day – you just want to walk outside, arms raised, and do a Zorba dance. Rain is expected tomorrow, though. It’s already quite lush; this should nudge us towards “tropical rot,” if it doesn’t let up in a day or two. But it was warm and clear at noon when I took Gnat outside and emptied a can of spray paint on her head. She took it well. In fact she welcomed it. This is “Spirit” week at school, wherein everyone engages in “wacky,” up-the-establishment acts designed to throw a spanner in the grim institutional wheels of deportment. Monday you could wear pajamas to the school. Tuesday was “wacky hair day.” We had a can of pink hair-spray left over from something or other; I have no idea where my wife kept it. And I know where everything is. It’s my job. It’s non-toxic, of course, although the label assures you that no evil scientist sprayed it directly into the eyes of bunnies, so for all you know it contains caustic lye. I gave her the hair-hue of a small Icelandic exercise enthusiast, and off to school she went.

When I returned from the office there were two fellows bent over the Oak Island Water Feature, as if in prayer. “How’s it going?” I asked. One of them, a tall wiry unfriendly fellow I’d never seen before – think some 50’s guy hanging around a gas station in Walton, Oklahoma, muttering that Elvis aint got nothin’ he ain’t got - straightened, said “it’s goin’,” and that was that. It was not a convivial moment. So I advanced. The other fellow was pushing water with his hand into the corner of the pit, “to see if it leaks,” he explained. After a few minutes they vanished, perhaps via the Rapture. They left a bigger mess than before.

Plus something else.

Yes, it’s the homeowner’s favorite job-site detail: the cast-off Marlboro 100 Light butt. Thanks, Elvis.

Another picture from the weekly download: this lovely booze-shop sign in Northeast Minneapolis.

The more I explore NE the more I realize it’s the part of town that Time did not forget, but took aside and said “you’re my favorite.” I’ve always been a Southside guy, although I wince as I write it – while I understand finding a reflection of your identity in your choice of neighborhoods,  I prefer to be a Minneapolitan, period. Otherwise you end up saying you’re from  South-Southwest West Tangletown, and you’re here to represent! Of course, different neighborhoods have different moods and character, but it’s not like I need my visa stamped to go back to my old neighborhood in Southeast.

I feel somewhat lousy; I get this way when I don’t eat enough. I thought I had a substantial supper, but upon totaling up the calories it seems I ate 300 calories. A big bowl of spinach has 50 calories, it seems. Once I get in this state – light-headed, schmozzled -  there’s really no getting out of it unless I make myself another dinner, and that doesn’t seem likely. On Tuesdays Gnat has church choir practice, and that means I make dinner for myself. Tonight I nuked a chicken breast – a sad, desiccated thing that felt like eating a Tolstoi digression. I had some chips, some hard vinegary gum-slashers with “gourmet” pretensions, and the aforementioned bushel of spinach. God, how I sometimes hate eating healthy. I could have made a low-carb low-fat Mexican meal, but what I really wanted was a plastic tray laden with Taco Bell, with the glutinous chili cheese chilito, a taco packed with glistening chopped Bossie, and one of those burritos as thick as a storm drain loaded with rice and refried beans – because frying them once is not enough – and rivers of quasi-real cheese product, all doused in a quart of liquid napalm, topped off with fried dough and a rafter-rattling belch.

But I have too much invested in pants. When I did the low-carb diet two years ago and shed the weight I gained when I nixed the cigs and gained a child, I bought new pants, since the old pants made me look like I should run around with a seltzer bottle dodging elephant shite and cursing myself for debasing my art in front of guffawing yokels who do not understand the finer points of the Auguste archetype. I like being thinnish. I feel all high and holy living on carrots and spinach and apples and protein, but some days I think of the times in college when I would order a cheeseburger with a toasty bun, an order of fries that would have single-handedly staved off Irish famine-related emigration for a week, and a malt served in a glass stout enough to hold ten tulip stems, and I sigh. 

So now it’s time for popcorn (100 calorie pack!) and some pudding (sugar free! Sixty fargin’ calories!) and the nightly exercise regime while I watch “24.”  Alas, I will have to delay the project I had hoped to announce today. We’ll have to cope as best as we can. Trust me, it’ll gladden some hearts, and no, it’s not Joe Ohio’s return. Although I will be finishing that story – I’ve decided to pull it from the market, finish it up, and concentrate on the other two books on the plate. Fine by me; it wouldn’t have sold for much anyway, or sold many copies. The other projects have more potential. I’ll finish it, then sell it later. Maybe. Or not. Either way, you’ll find out what happens.

Site update: More “First Day Issues,” a site I put up a few years ago, based on 20 envelopes I bought in a flea market in New York. It’s in the Engraveyard, one my favorite little sections; the entire Money section will get the Motel treatment – meaning, new scans, new designs, much more material – in the fall, and since a kind reader of this site is sending along 30 bushels of First Day Issues he inherited, I expect I’ll make it weekly feature, like the matchbooks.  Sorry for the light Bleat today, but there are 11 new pages in the First Day Issues section - which has also been redesgned, incidentally - and that’s not exactly hay.

Although hay is good, if you’re a horse. And who am I to say they’re wrong?

c. j. lileks 2006. Email may be sent to first name at last name dot com.