Thoughts From The Standing Desk

I’m worried that I can’t write worthwhile in a standing position.  It seems I need to build my core, prevent my back from collapsing.  If you recall I fell sixty feet off a cliff about eight years ago.  (That’s bullshit, who could survive? It’s called “ledges on the way down”.) My back is deteriorating and sitting doesn’t help, but they say standing might be the way to go.  I remember soldiers in Taiwan standing along the highway when I drove through once.  They were like human metal posts in a war movie.  I’m sort of the same way now, waiting for the mainland to attack.  Teaching the children how to take shelter in the bunkers.

For those of you who might be thinking about moving to Mexico.  Here is a typical half-day.

I wanted some pasta and corn nuts.  On my way through the park, I stopped and taught Angel, my slow-motion death buddy, a bit of English.  He is having trouble with the verb “to be”, which is funny since the Spanish language has split the idea of “being” into two different states of mind: ser and estar.  There are two sets of rules governing the way “to be” should be used.  That curve ball seems insane to me, to split being alive into two different milieus of grammar, two different meanings for the state of existence.  It goes against the singularity of life.  Anyway, I try to explain to him that the English “to be” is all you need for every state of living or death that you might find yourself in one day.  Fuck ser and estar, I yelled out for all the park to hear.

In relationship to that, Angel and I discussed “chingar” which means fuck in English.  Surprisingly, the Mexicans have expanded the use of fuck into regions of their language and culture that gringos have yet to explore.  Octavio Paz (Mexican Nobel Prize winner for literature) wrote this:  

“The word chingar, with multiple meanings, defines a large part of our lives and qualifies our relationships with the rest of our friends and compatriots. For the Mexican, life is a chance to screw or be screwed. That is, to humiliate, punish and offend. Or vice versa.” 

It is the vice versa that gives chingar more forms of usage then fuck.  Chingar can be used in a loving, sentimental, intellectual way and it can attach itself to the most obscure words and situations. Of course, for those of you who speak fuck with your family and employers, who write Christmas cards with fuck, turn in a PhD thesis with the occasional fuck in the data, leave church donations with little notes using fuck, then you are welcome to debate this point.

Anyway, I left him with the caution to say, “Hey pal, fuck you”, only if he were prepared to use all 87 pounds of his miserable body in a fight.  As usual he laughed and I asked him if he wanted to come buy pasta with me and he said, no and so I walked away and he said, hey where are you going and he kept asking me until I was out of earshot and we both laughed until I left the park. 

On the way to Luna de Queso, the place with the pasta, I ran into Maria de la Luna, not really a coincidence, since Luna is everywhere in this city.  Luna this and luna that and I always give her money since she weighs less than Angel, is about five foot two inches, dirt poor, and dresses like a refugee on the road. The people she works for treat her like shit and she has a dying brother at home, and wears her hair in an old-school hair net that reminds me of my grandmother during the Depression.  I only had a 200-peso bill, so I sent her into a big hotel to get change.  She freaked out.  She had never been into a big hotel before and so I had to explain how to get into the place and what to expect inside.  She turned grim and said, you have to wait for me, watch me, and I said, okay.  At the big glass doors, she entered.  A guy with black radio ear plugs and a nice suit, stopped her and they talked a bit and she handed him the money and a minute or so later he returned and gave her two one-hundred-peso notes. 

She returned to me and I gave her a hundred pesos and she smiled and walked away.  I told her health to her and her brother and she smiled. 

Of course, Luna de Queso did not have the pasta I wanted, so I bought cheese (which proved to be rotten), corn nuts, candied Macadamia nuts, stir fried noodles, and two jars of pesto.  It cost about 600 pesos, which is $30 in your kind of money.   

On the way back, I stopped at the cemetery and bought some flowers.  I had the kid split the bouquet into three bunches and he said, you have three people buried here, which was a statement, not a question, and I said, no, all of my people are on the other side.  I had it in my mind that I would give Angel and his mother some flowers.  I don’t know why I thought this, but I did.  When I got to the bench in the park, Angel said, no I won’t take flowers and I won’t walk to the house where my mother works (she is a maid for some gringos), you will have to go alone.  I did, but she wouldn’t answer the door and when I got back to Angel, he said, my mother is hard of hearing, almost deaf, really. He wasn’t surprised that I had failed.  A little girl walked by and I gave her one of the bouquets.   Her parents were teenagers and the mother had another baby in a blanket and three of her front teeth were missing and she and the husband smiled about the flowers.  The little girl started to skip around with the flowers.  I asked Angel, if he had told anyone to fuck off and he said no.  He conjugated the verb to be in present, past, and future tense and he did pretty well on that. 

I then headed home as a sprinkling of rain began and the rain fell on everybody.

14 thoughts on “Thoughts From The Standing Desk

  1. Best wishes with standing and writing – that sitting too much
    is so bad for us –
    And with the standing desk –
    We have some balance boards that we use – it helps on some days
    Also /
    Sometimes rest one foot on a yoga block and let the other leg have a loose knee (no locked knee) then alternate!
    It helps

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Here is a surprising list (to me anyway) of great authors who wrote standing up. Seventeen are listed, including Hemingway, Bellow, Nietzsche, Dickens, Woolf, Carroll, etc. I’m finding the best thing so far is the movement of my legs regularly, leaning against the desk, a four inch thick rubber pad, and to look at my chair parked like a foreign car in the corner. It is laughing at me, but I don’t care since I can think just as well standing as sitting. Incidentally, I built it with my trusted Mexican handyman, Fernando, for 40 bucks US. Duke

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Having a good handyman is great
        And I knew dickens and others were great walkers but didn’t realize the standing up!
        My husband sets a timer to get away from his standing desk and he’ll go outside to “ground” for a few minutes with bare feet and get sun or in winter will nature haze thru the window or get some cold air (all tips he got online)
        But maybe the success of standing and writing is just getting used to it. It is really hard for me to do –
        I much find a groove and can work like a long running semi truck when I am sitting slouched and cross legged – lol
        I try to not slouch and have knees at 90 degrees but habits run deep!

        Oh and by the way The flowers were a beautiful idea

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Enjoyed your unpacking of chingar in lexical and oratorical contexts but I still get an acid-reflux reaction when considering using the term (estoy bromeando(joking) cuate!). I do like the nuances in some of the ser and estar continuum undulating between the permanent and the temporary, characteristics and conditions, like ser casado(married), ser vivo(clever) and estar vivo(alive). This dichotomy, especially alongside the subjunctive, expands Spanish and the usage of ‘to be’ into realms to which other languages, especially English, don’t have easy access. I guess Spanish may be a means to travel the road less travelled, to go beyond what you alluded to as ‘the singularity of life’ and chingar a little in the matrix of possibilities.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I figured you might have an opinion on this. Agree totally that the Spanish language, like all the romance languages, is more subtle than English, or German for that matter. And the state of existence is no exception, hence the subtlety of ser and estar. However, when you approach the issue from an existential POV, it seems confusing to say, I exist grammatically on several different levels which one must inhabit or else when speaking Spanish I sound childlike or worse, a fool. The debate in English was finally won by the “I am, I exist” crowd. My point with Angel was he need only worry about one form of existence with English. Which, I am hoping, will make it easier for him to learn English before he no longer exists as a living human. As for the centrality of chingar in Mexican Spanish, here is a great overview of the word, notwithstanding Paz, who this author thinks was in error.

      As I said, chingar is so much more important to Mexicans than fuck is to the English speaking world. Chingar is highly historic, culturally powerful and, as you would say, subtle in its usage. Fuck seems like a rock when compared to the mountain of chingar. Mexicans are the children of a very well documented rape of Malinche, la Madre Chingada, mother of all Mexicans. So it goes here at the stand up desk. Ni modo. Duke


  3. I’ll never forget in my 20’s a friend, someone I was trying to emulate, strong, independent, we were sitting around smoking weed from an antler pipe. He took a hit, looked at me and in total sincerity asked me: Are you Dave Cline?
    Naive, I responded in earnest: Yes.
    Well, fuck you Dave Cline.
    I laughed until the snot shot from my nose.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I spent most of yesterday driving through the Central Valley where we could only get Fox news or the Bible Thumpers on the radio – such a long day and I am chingared up today. I like your day much more.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. welcome back. i’m sort of working on the book. still can’t decide if Willem Dafoe Comes To Town is any good as a title. i’m having trouble coming to a definitive answer if one can use a real, live actor in a book title. I sort of like the title, but am not sure. The central valley is like death valley days. i have a friend here who had a few roles in death valley days. i think i mentioned her to you. ok, sweet dreams. been watching the hearings and they are pretty gripping on the detail. love. duke


      1. Death Valley has a lot more interesting characters and things to see than the Central Valley! It’s just five hours of bleak. There are more kids in foster care in the Central Valley than any other part of California. It looks like the Supreme Court will undue whatever they can to turn this country backwards. I still like the title – so let’s get to it while we still can. love jan

        Liked by 1 person

    2. On your right is Germany 1937 and on your right as well you will find Iran 1980. Notice the people lying in the street. While turning next we encounter North Korea and a number of terrorist groups making bombs of various sorts. Then up ahead you will see Russia and China sharpening knives and preparing acid baths for children. And so the tour goes on and on and we spend our time contemplating the death of the oceans and the collapse of ice on the planet. We dream of electromagnetic storms and we can see ourselves on a radio transponder asking, is anybody out there? Of course, we will have the old photos and we will get them out one last time. If anyone is with us, they will say, it’s time to fill the bathtub honey. I’ve got the water hot or would you prefer the drugs? I guess it doesn’t really matter. Ni modo. Duke


  5. Duke, the way things are going on Mother Earth these days with it’s endless and mindless dilemmas , your chingar tale is very fitting. Fuck it ….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have pretty much had it. I think it only a matter of time before everything will be dead, one way or the other. The ocean is dying while Trump’s and the Supreme Court replace reason with lies and Christian belief. I wish Biden would go on the TV and say people don’t have much time left before hundreds of million will die across the planet and then after that wave, hundreds of millions more and then more and more. Even white people. Oh well, you and I will be dead. The future is being destroyed before our eyes. Ni modo. Duke


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