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VERY SIMPLE, BUT STILL HERE
October 28, 2006
 
There are so many keys on my fancy wireless keyboard that I can't identify, so many different ways to do the same thing, so many things I can do that I can't imagine doing. So many things I can do only in theory, because I haven't even the vaguest idea what they are, *All, for instance -- what might that mean? What do you suppose PrtScn is? And ScrLk? And the arrows that look like the arrows on a digital radio or a CD player -- what do you reckon they're for? There must be something I'm supposed to be playing on this thing.

These things bewilder me. I resist such useless engineering specificity, as I resist the gadget you can buy whose only purpose is to cook a hot dog and warm its bun --nobody has enough counter space to warrant the purchase of one of those. And the automatic tea maker. And the chocolate fountain machine -- how often will you use it? Where on earth will you keep it? It's nearly two feet high.

In his tiny New York apartment kitchen, my friend Chris hung all his pots and all his cooking tools on the wall beside the stove. He didn't have lots of tools, but what he had were good, and clearly sufficient: some amazing food came forth from that three by five-foot galley.

Amid the good steel whisks and the substantial slotted spoons, one pan stood out. Chris had found it in the street, where it had been run over repeatedly by any number of cars and trucks until it was perfectly flat. It hung with the others: limp, in need of some serious inflating but still brave. It was like a Salvador Dali saucepan.

Oh, I do love you, you flattened pan, I would think whenever it caught my eye. You're beautiful and inspiring. People think everything has to be in working order, everything has to be perfect before we can even begin, that life is not worth living if everything doesn't work properly. But a time comes when very little works properly, and life is still very much worth living. The flat pan was still completely at home on the kitchen, among all his working comrades. So we are not what we once were -- so what? We're still here.
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I'm Still here

Good times and bum times,
I’ve seen them all and, my dear,
I’m still here.

Plush velvet sometimes,
Sometimes just pretzels and beer,
But I’m here.

I’ve stuffed the Dailies in my shoes,
Strummed ukuleles, sung the blues,
Seen all my dreams disappear,
But I’m here.

I’ve slept in shanties, guest of the W.P.A.
But I’m here.
I’ve been through Gandhi, Windsor and Wally’s affair,
And I’m here.

Amos ‘n Andy, Mahjongg and Platinum hair,
And I’m here.
I got through "Abie’s Irish Rose, Five Dionne Babies,
Major Bowes, Had Heebie-Jeebies
For Beebe’s Bathysphere. I've lived through Shirley Temple,
And I'm here.

I’ve gotten through Herbert and J. Edgar Hoover,
I’ve been through Reno,
I’ve been through Beverly Hills,
And I’m here.
Reefers and Vino, rest cures, religion and pills,
But I’m here.

Black sable one day, Next day it goes into hock,
But I’m here.
Top billing Monday, Tuesday you’re touring in stock,
But I’m here.

I’ve run the gamut, A to Z.
Three cheers and dammit, c’est La Vie.
I got through all of last year,
And I’m here.
Lord knows, at least I’ve been there,
And I’m here!
Look who’s here!
I’m still here!
--lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
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