Hand Injury in a Writing Accident

I am trying my hand at dictating the post this morning because my right hand is in absolute agony when I move it in certain ways. And sometimes when I don’t.

My guess is that it is carpal tunnel syndrome, caused by excessive keyboard time; my writing is injuring my health. I may be wrong. I don’t know what else it could be.  I guess I’ll give it a few days and if it doesn’t subside of its own accord, I will go see a doctor.

Last night we went for dinner at the Beehive. We had their special Polish meal, a Polish Hunters’ Stew. Subsequently I learned it is called bigos in Polish.  During the dinner, we had a conversation about pronunciation. Polish is pronounced either polish or Polish but you can’t tell which except by context.

This business with my hand is crimping my style and interfering with my quality of life. There was a time when I felt very comfortable dictating, but it has been many, many years. I don’t think I’m going to enjoy trying to dictate a post. So I’m giving up and letting this be a record of my failed attempt.

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A Diverse Dreamworld

Achieving cultural diversity is much deeper and more complex than mixing skin colors, languages, and customs. Real diversity is attained by blending every element of different societies, yet maintaining the uniqueness of each component. It consists of embedding an understanding and appreciation of unfamiliar customs and rites and rituals, while maintaining the core virtues of the host society’s character. That’s my take on cultural diversity, for what it’s worth. And I long for more of it.

I want the opportunity to experience the richness of multiple cultures, while holding on to my own. I do not understand attitudes that reject diversity, instead clinging to the idea that the “purity” of one’s own culture can be maintained only by excluding external influences.

Vacation travel offers only a glimpse into other cultures. It is too brief and too superficial to permit the development of real understanding. Understanding other cultures, I think, requires time, patience, and trust—trust of both the visitor and the visited. I have a vision, impossible to achieve, of creating global villages  in close proximity to one another. They would be cultural pockets that maintain their identity, yet would be open to sharing the “secrets” of that identity to visitors. These pockets would resemble the Chinatowns in big cities all over the U.S., but would invite people in to learn about the diverse cultures; integrated into our culture, but maintaining their uniqueness. Cultural diversity, in other words. I can envision Japanese and Chinese and Mexican enclaves. And, for that matter, Black enclaves in which African-American culture is maintained and cultivated, open so others can learn from and about that culture.

The seed for this fantasy was sown this morning while I read about Japan’s shokunin. According to the article on the  BBC website, “the term represents especially devoted craftspeople who may spend their entire lives perfecting their art, making a living out of it and ensuring it passes to the next generation.” The artisans included in a video companion to the article were especially intriguing; they are people who create models of the food items on menus. These people make models of each dish on a menu that can be displayed in a restaurant’s window so passers-by can see what the menu items looks like. The models look absolutely real. The article reports on other shokunin, as well. I would be fascinated to delve into that (and other) aspect of Japanese culture by spending time, on a regular, frequent basis in my imagined Japanese cultural pocket.  Of course, I might have a bit of a tough time understanding the language, but in my make-believe world, the Japanese people who I meet will be happy to struggle with English as I struggle with Japanese.

Of course, such pockets of diversity should, in my dream world, exist in other countries and inside cultural enclaves in our own culture. If only people around the world could be enticed to appreciate and be excited about the richness of cultures outside their own, perhaps the world would be a more peaceful and less stressful place. If only. But that fantasy is just that: a dream, an illusion, a reverie. Why can it not be reality? I think the answer is that people tend to view experiences outside their own culture as threats, something to fear. I know I’ve felt that on occasion; when I’ve encountered something I did not know, and did not understand, I became uneasy and frightened of…something. But, after getting through the initial apprehension, I became engaged by the novelty of a new experience. And so it should be for everyone. I wish.

Fantasy. It keeps my mind off reality. Lately, I’ve found I prefer fantasy to reality. I prefer the land of make-believe, over on the other side of dream-world. But the real world has so much to offer. In fact, it is what populates my dream world.

Hmm. Speaking of a dream world. I just pulled up the shades and, to my surprise, the ground outside is covered in snow, as are the trees. And I see snowflakes falling from the sky. The streets look clear, though. I’ll stop writing and will, instead, stare at the dreamworld outside my window.

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Distortion

Consider how radically different your life would have been if you had been adopted in 1962 by a Chinese peasant couple who traveled to the United States from their rural home outside the tiny village of Zhongxin in . Instead of the privileged upbringing you experienced in the United States, you would have grown up amid rice paddies, buffaloes, and mud-brick homes. Your education would have instilled in you an utterly different world view than the one you hold now. Your native language would be Southwestern Mandarin.

Unlike the childhood experiences you remember now—those happy times riding your new bicycle and playing with your new toys or video games, for example—your memories would reflect a happiness that did not rely so heavily on access to material wealth. “Oh, but we were not wealthy, not in the least,” you might say. Compared to the life you would have lived in that mud hut outside Zhongxin, you were incomprehensibly wealthy. If you think honestly back to your childhood here in the U.S., you will realize just how wealthy your family was. You had indoor plumbing for most, if not all, of your early years. Your kitchen stove, which was inside the main part of your house, was powered not by dried dung and wood chips, but by electricity or gas. Your water was delivered through a tap, not from a bucket pulled up from a communal well. You would have had a happy childhood, nonetheless, in the rural China of the early 1960s.

Your happiness in that hut would have derived from relationships between members of your adoptive family and other villagers who supported one another through brutally challenging times. But one brutal challenge friendly faces could not overcome was the bullying you experienced from children in nearby villages. Those children made fun of you because you looked very different from other children. Your skin was strangely pale. Your eyes had an odd, circular shape about them. To those kids, you looked misshapen, deformed; as if you had emerged from the womb of a creature that was, like you, not entirely human. And it wasn’t just the children. Their parents, too, looked at you as if you were an aberration. They turned their gazes away from you as they passed you on the road. They whispered among themselves as they glanced in your direction, quickly averting their eyes when you looked at them.

But you survived. You became a teenager and, later, a young adult. You joined the Communist Party and read the newspapers that reported on the atrocities committed by Western countries. You believed what you read, too, because the papers were published by the government. Westerners, you learned, were materialistic in the extreme. Their natural human qualities, you were taught, were extracted from them as they grew up, replaced by the bitter, poisonous fruits of Western propaganda. Only the Chinese people possessed the most attractive and admirable qualities you should seek to cultivate in yourself.

Ah, but in fact you were not adopted by a Chinese peasant couple. You speak English. You live a nice life. Maybe it’s not overflowing with riches, but it’s more than comfortable. As you think back on your childhood, you remember the bullies; not necessarily kids who bullied you, but they bullied someone. And maybe you were the bully. But that’s all history, right? And as you ponder the differences between that life you might have had and the one you have lived thus far, you know you were taught only the truth; no distortions or lies found their way into your education. Right? And government propaganda never put Asians or other “foreigners” in a negative light, right?

Truth. What is true and what is not? Is propaganda a distortion of facts or is it the intentional misrepresentation of falsehoods as truth? Just as I wonder who I am beneath my veneer, I wonder what other societies are like under the paint we, and they, use to cover their blemishes. And what about our own society? Are the history books even remotely correct? How much did they leave out? We know they left out a lot. They neglected to mention the 1921 massacre and destruction of Tulsa’s Black Wall Street or, if they did mention it, they called it the Tulsa Race Riots. How much more is there we don’t know because it was intentionally withheld from us? How much do we “know” that is untrue? Yes, I’m wandering off course again. I do that. But if I don’t write it down, it might escape my brain, never to be captured again. And that stuff in my head; it needs to be captured before it does any more harm.

 

 

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The Upper Edge of Anything Hollow

Before I get into the meat of this post, I want to document something I wrote for another post I subsequently discarded. I liked this little snippet from that post, but didn’t like the rest. Maybe I’ll use this sometime in the future:

I have nostalgia for a time before I came to understand immortality has a limited duration.

All right. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’ll continue. The title of this post came straight out of a definition presented online at dictionary.com. Why the words hold such appeal to me is something of a mystery; yet indeed they do. They suggest, to me, either the title of a literary work or an achievement beyond the reach of tedious people. But, in fact, the words define the word “brim.” As in, the projecting edge (brim) of a hat or the rim of a canyon.

I looked up brim for a reason, but once I got there and saw the words, the upper edge of anything hollow, I forgot my purpose. Not just my purpose in looking up the word, either. My purpose. My. Purpose. Why I am here. My reason for being. Ma raison d’être. No, that’s not entirely true. I didn’t forget. I’ve never known. None of us have. We make up stories, we create elaborate explanations for our existence. We pretend to know why we, of all creatures on Earth, are imbued with such advanced intellect and knowledge and skills and…all the rest. But we just don’t know. And we never will. We should be okay with that, but we’re not. At least most of us don’t seem to be okay with that imponderable question.

We’re seekers, though, searchers for answers that, we realize with some degree of certainty, do not exist. In that sense, we’re not especially smart. But we put a different spin on it. We say, instead, we are insatiably curious. That sounds more appealing, doesn’t it? More appealing than admitting we’re as crazy as a cat lady on the seventh Monday of February.

My reason for looking up the word brim must have been important to me at the time I began my search. I doubt I was looking it up for the definition; I know more than one definition for the word. So what could it have been? If I’d wanted a synonym, I would have looked it up in a thesaurus, so that wasn’t it. If I’d wanted to know its etymology I would have looked it up in the Online Etymology Dictionary…probably. But dictionary.com also includes very basic information on word origins. So that could have been it. No matter. None of this rings a bell.

***

Yesterday, my wife spent a good part of the day trying to get her primary care doctor’s office to communicate with a local medical laboratory to coordinate a blood draw. Something so simple was so completely screwed up and made so complex, thanks to broken communications technology and inept communicators. Neither party accepted responsibility; my wife finally got them to correct their mistakes. Well into the afternoon, my wife had her blood drawn; the doctor wanted it done early in the day.

Today, I am going to my church to listen to three candidates for representative for Arkansas state District 22, all Republican, respond to questions. No Democrats are running. One Libertarian is running. I’m likely to vote for her, in the absence of a Democratic candidate. I am attending the luncheon at the behest of a friend, who organized the event on behalf of AARP. Later, I will attend a meeting of committee chairs for my church.

Tomorrow and Thursday, I will drive to Little Rock with my wife for more of her medical appointments. And on Friday I will go back to church for another committee meeting. This week already seems jammed with appointments and obligations and other such demands on my time.  Next week is similarly scheduled. One of these days I will carve out an entire week during which I can control every moment of my time. One day. When I’m older.

We had planned to go have lunch with friends tomorrow, meeting mid-way between their home in Fort Smith and ours in Hot Springs Village. Those plans were dashed by tomorrow’s ultrasound. Health comes before pleasure, though, so we will delay our already delayed visit with our friends.

***

One of my brothers called my attention to an offer to sell a double-decker bus, outfitted with a kitchen on the bottom deck and booth-seating on the upper deck. It also has what appears to be a structure that can be attached to the side (and covered with canvass) for additional seating. The owner converted an old double-decker into the mobile cafe. It would probably be illegal here. It looks like it would be quite the adventure to operate it. The fact that it’s located in Bristol, England makes it a bit of a challenge, though. If I were thirty years younger, single, and flush with cash, I might just pursue that adventure.

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Chiselers

I don’t remember where I came across the word “chiseler” in the past day or so, but the word stuck with me. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone speak the word since I heard my father use it many, many years ago.

I did a bit of research and found an article by J. Louis Kuethe in the June, 1932 edition of the professional journal, American Speech, published by the American Dialect Society. Kuethe said the term chiseler was (in 1932) used by students at the Johns Hopkins University (the article dealt with student jargon). It had been in common use a hundred years earlier and only recently had come into common use again, he said.  My father would have been almost thirty years old at the time; he attended the University of Texas and practiced law for a time in that era. I wonder whether he picked up the term as it was returning to common usage among students back then?

A little more research revealed the word in use in the early 1940s in popular fiction magazines. And it continues, even today, but it seems to be quite rare. As I said, I don’t remember anyone using it since I heard my father use it. I think he used it on occasion to refer to people he considered cheaters and swindlers.

It’s interesting to me that a single word can conjure up remnants of memories long since buried under layers of time and experience. I don’t remember specific instances of my father referring to someone as a chiseler, but I know he used the world. Memory, although an incredible faculty, is as porous as sponge. It absorbs enormous volumes of information, but retains only a fraction of what it takes in; the rest leaks away, dry and chalky and subject to blowing away in the wind.

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A Short and Cynical Critique of Society

We sometimes fail to see massive changes in society because they occur in response to much smaller—seemingly innocuous—changes. For example, governments at all levels, over time, began to mimic customer service practices originally initiated by businesses. The idea was to streamline the bureaucracy; no one wanted to wait in interminable lines waiting to get or renew drivers’ licenses or pay tax bills. So, governments adopted business practices used successfully (an arguable point) by businesses to speed the process of dealing with customers. Governments’ intent was admirable, but that shift in processes triggered a sea change in governments’ perceptions of constituents. They were no longer taxpayers or individual members of the civic community; they became customers and, over time, consumers. Decisions once guided by moral adherence to the greater good changed into responses to shifts in consumer demand, regardless of the consequences for the broader community.  It is that kind of environment and attitude that allows lynching instead of relying on the justice system to determine guilt or innocence and then to respond accordingly.

The paragraph above is a dramatic oversimplification of just one example of ostensibly positive changes leading to unwanted and unintended consequences. Such stuff happens all the time, though. But we are the fabled frogs in a pot on the stove; we do not realize the water is getting hot until it is too late to jump out; we’ve been boiled alive.

Fundamental problems involved in addressing such matters are many-fold: first, we do not pay sufficient attention to incremental changes to realize their impact; second, even when someone sounds the alarm, calling our attention to the problem, we tend not to believe the problem really exists; third, by the time the public tentatively acknowledges the problem, their elected officials often have been successfully lobbied by the beneficiaries of the changes, so they oppose reversing them; and, finally, the public’s insight into the problem tends never to reach the point of truly understanding what the problem is and how it can be rectified. Change becomes permanent, irreversible, and monstrously unsatisfying.

“Our options have recently changed. Please listen to the entire message before making your selection.

  1. Press 1 if you are a constituent, then hang up;
  2. Press 2 if you are a lobbyist, which will transfer your call to a representative who can process your payment;
  3. Press 3 if you represent a foreign government, which will transfer you directly to the Senator’s staff; or
  4. Press 4 if you wish to respond to the Senator’s automated constituent survey designed to solicit responses supportive of the Senator’s votes on issues that matter to him.”
Posted in Just Thinking, Politics, Rant | Leave a comment

Insignificant Expectations

David Copperfield and Great Expectations both were written in the first person. Neither novel, nor their plot lines, have anything to do with what’s on my mind this morning. But, like most of what I write, relevance often is out of place in my thought processes.

No, what’s on my mind this morning is how unusually well-kept the guest room is this morning. That’s the room that also serves as my little-bitty study, since the air in the room that was to be my study when we first moved to this house is impossible to condition, thanks to poor HVAC planning and enormous windows that magnify heat gain or heat loss, depending on the position of the sun and the northern hemisphere’s seasons. The reason the little-bitty study/guest room is so remarkably tidy this morning is that we expected a guest to occupy it overnight last night. A woman with whom I used to work contacted me to say she would be in Hot Springs for a “celebration of life” for a deceased friend; she suggested we get together and I agreed. Because of the timing of her visit, my wife and I expected she would stay overnight and would return to Dallas this morning. My friend suggested she would stay over, too, because she does not like to drive in the dark. And, because yesterday was the only scheduled screening at my church of a documentary I hoped to see, I invited her to join us in watching American Heretics: The Politics of the Gospel. She said it sounded interesting.

When she arrived yesterday afternoon, around 1 pm, she said she might not stay the night, after all. She might drive back to Dallas after the screening, which would be over by 5. And she did. She left around 5:30. I assume she got home before 11 last night. Based on our earlier communication (before she arrived), I expected she would stay with us. But the expectation was not met. It was, fortunately, an insignificant expectation. My world was not upended. But the expectation led me to tidy up the guest room…fresh sheets, clearing away computer and paper clutter and the like. The room could use periodic tidying, so all was not lost with her decision to drive back. Were I the driver, I wouldn’t have done it. Driving several hours in the dark on a crowded four-lane highway is not my idea of fun. But that’s just me.

My wife opted not to go to the film, even though she was looking forward to it. She’s wrestling with a trio of health issues that makes going out a little unpleasant and challenging, so she decided to stay home. Ach. If it ever comes out on Netflix, I’ll be sure to let her know so she can view it.

What about the film? My friend said she enjoyed it. I did, as well. Last night, though, I read some reviews of the film, one of which caused me to consider matters I hadn’t considered during the “heat of the emotional validation” provided by the film. Regardless, I found the film both informative and, to a degree, inspirational.

My jocular language this morning notwithstanding, I’m feeling a little down for no specific reason. It’s the sort of down that’s cured by time; nothing else seems to work, though I haven’t tried everything (like little blue pills, syringes full of narcotics…that sort of everything). But it’s also the kind of down that seems it will never end, even though I know it will, eventually. It’s a low-grade hopelessness made modestly worse by a light grey, yet bright, sky. I can imagine how easy it would be to get addicted to drugs that would erase this dull despondency.

The grey clouds are thinning, allowing spots of blue to appear, so the sky is attempting to improve my attitude. I hope it succeeds. I’d like to feel more enthusiastic about facing the day.

 

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Musing on Health and Such

Age is the enemy of good health; the greater the age, the more powerful the enemy. That is not always true, of course, but lately it seems to be an increasingly factual axiom.

As I age, I increasingly engage in combat with challenges to my health. The same is true for my wife. And I see evidence of the battles all around me. The experiences of family and friends and acquaintances offer testimony to the inverse relationship between increased age and good health. Despite the fact that this is not news and, in fact, is universally understood and expected, the reality of age-exacerbated threats to our health is no easier to accept. Vulnerability of one’s own health seems a bit easier to accept than threats to the health of very close loved ones. Witnessing the apprehension and distress of friends who face health issues, either personally or with family members, is hard, as well.

If logic were the driver behind emotions, perhaps declines in one’s health and in the health of those with whom one is close would be easier experiences. But I think logic lessens the burden only slightly, if at all. Logic cannot deaden emotional pain. I am not sure logic can make it any easier to tolerate. But logic might make understanding the circumstances that drive it somewhat less complex. And that might make the experience modestly more tolerable.

These thoughts are flowing through my brain this morning due to personal experiences, the recent experiences of friends, and because of the experiences I learned of this morning that other friends are going through. Heart issues are troubling. But so are health emergencies that confound healthcare professionals. And so are strokes and heart attacks and a thousand other maladies and symptoms, as well as conditions for which there are no symptoms.

Syncope. Memory loss. Weakness. Chest pain. Chronic cough. Swelling of the extremities. The list is almost endless. And the likelihood that the list will include something ominous and threatening to someone important in our lives grows with each passing day. I suppose that reality is where logic must come in. We cannot let fear rule our lives. Logic must inform us that all the myriad ways health can be put at risk will not befall us and our loved ones all at once. Logic and statistics argue against any of us being inundated with the flood all at once, or even all over time.

In my head, compassion shares space with empathy and fear and logic and anger. I try to give the most room to compassion and empathy, but it’s sometime difficult to keep fear and anger from hogging space that wasn’t meant for them. Logic; it slides along as a thin film beneath all the rest.

Recently (and not-so-recently), I wrote about how worry is a waste of energy. And even more recently I wrote (but apparently did not post) that such a statement is axiomatic BS when in the throes of an urgent, emergent, frightening situation. So, as I almost always do, I look at situations from different points of view and arrive at different conclusions, based on the angle of observation.  Despite my ambiguous take on worry, I can say this with conviction: worry tends to drain one’s emotional strength and, in turn, one’s physical stamina. For that reason, alone, the emotions attached to challenges to health, whether one’s own or that of someone close, should be kept in check. To the extent possible. But sometimes that is as easy to do as climbing a rope that is nailed to the ground.

So, in conclusion, there times when we must simply “slog through the porridge,” as I am wont to say. And so I shall. Here’s to everyone’s good health. May it last longer than anyone imagined it would.

Posted in Emotion, Health, Logic, Mortality | 1 Comment

The Illusion of Love

I find it hard to say “I love you” to most people for whom I feel that emotion (or something like it). The church I joined a couple of years ago, after being not only churchless but actively anti-church and anti-religion for virtually all of my life, encourages us to love everyone. And I try. But rarely can I bring myself to say it when I do. I could blame my upbringing, but the real blame resides within me. I could have abandoned my hesitation years and years ago, but I didn’t. It resides in me still. And even though I know it and it bothers me and I think I should change, I feel like there’s something stopping me from changing my behavior. I think it’s fear. Fear that the recipients of my expression of that emotion will find it awkward. Fear that they will find it odd and unseemly. Fear that they will view that emotional honesty as a disgusting display they can’t quite get their heads around.

And my own selfish fear, of course. Fear of rejection. Fear of being branded as an outsider; even though I’ve always branded myself as one, despite evidence to the contrary. There’s the fear in recipients, too, that an expression of love is dangerous. As if it is deviant and, therefore, suspect. That’s an enormous obstacle, I think.

Maybe the problem is this: the Western (mostly) idea that love is restricted to one person. Romantic love, especially, is essentially restricted by laws and regulations. One cannot be “in love” with more than one person as a time; it’s immoral, illegal, and contrary to all the laws of man and nature. It’s just wrong.  Ach! In my view, that’s utter madness! We are who we are. Our individual foibles do not constitute sin. Crap! I do get worked up over such stuff, even when it has no bearing on me, personally.

Last night, while I was attempting to encourage my body to feel sufficiently tired to go to sleep, I thought about monogamy and polygamy and life without companions and the fantasy that there is, somewhere, an end to loneliness, if there is such a thing. It bothered me. Not only for myself, a sole character who loves solitude but who desperately wants companionship, but for everyone else whose needs might be slightly different than mine; or exactly the same. None of us, the collective “we,” should be left alone. Even those whose needs are radically different from mine. We all should seek out the lonely among us and we should shower one another with love and acceptance and support. I might just as well call on humanity to actively wish for all elephants to change colors. Magical thinking will accomplish nothing. But what will?

Love is impossible to adequately define. It is an emotional attachment, yet it can manifest itself in separation. Maybe our belief that we love or are “in love” is a delusion. Perhaps a belief in love is like a belief in God; many people wish love exists, too. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, a day I label a profit-motivated commercial manipulation of a strong emotion. But what if love doesn’t really exist? Then Valentine’s Day would be like today’s version of Halloween, an opportunity to infuse children with sugar and delusions while draining their parents’ bank accounts. Jeeze, it seems I’m a cynic; I don’t want to be one.

Perhaps there’s only the illusion of love. Or maybe love exists, but it’s rare; other emotions we’ve called love but in reality are unique and as-yet unnamed are more common. It’s possible we simply haven’t examined emotions as deeply as would be required to differentiate between love and those other emotions that masquerade as love. Lust sometimes does that, but we recognize it for what it is. Infatuation, too, seems to mimic love in many ways. Assuming, of course, we really understand and can recognize love. I could make up words for those impostors; we really can’t understand the world around us unless we have words for the elements of that world. Wouldn’t that be a hoot; I would be the only person in the world who understands those love-like emotions because I have a word for it and nobody else does.

I think I’m going off the rails again. Time to stop. I have to go to my early appointment with the pulmonologist. Then, later today, my wife and I go to Little Rock for an appointment with her primary care doctor. Too damn many medical visits between the two of us. I don’t love that.

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A Fleeting Period of Perpetual Rain

Endless sunshine always is interrupted by fleeting periods of perpetual rain. The weather has always been this way. The everlasting pattern of dark and wet, then bright and dry, will continue forever, until it ends. Everything is impermanent and has been since the beginning of time. But we know about time, don’t we? Time is an illusion that refracts both truth and experience. One day I will write more about that refraction. Perhaps the story will be told from the perspective of a disillusioned ophthalmologist; but that fantasy is neither here nor there.

I mull over such irrefutable claims because these last few days of on-and-off rain seem to have begun when the earth was young, never stopping for the seasons. I realize, of course, that recent days of sunshine nullify that statement. No matter. Perception is reality.

The weather forecast calls for rain to end by 2:00 p.m. today, but we know that is a promise that is bound to be broken. Rain never ends; it simply moves on to ruin picnics in other places. And it will return again. The meteorologists’ own predictions say we should expect more precipitation within a week.  During that time, we’ll be teased with a taste of Spring and threatened with perennial Winter.

One could look at the fickle nature of weather through a lens clouded with displeasure, but I do not. Even when torrential rain makes taking a walk inadvisable or when ice makes driving dangerous, I enjoy Mother Nature’s tantrums. Though I’ll admit to being miffed when the weather require the cancellation of plans, I am glad weather comprises an almost endless variety of atmospheric phenomena. Tornadoes, ice storms, straight-line winds, torrential rain, sleet, hail, gentle snow, hurricanes, blizzards, even dust storms and stifling heat in the absence of even a slight breeze—it’s all fascinating and delightful, in a sense. Of course, the damage and destruction and loss of life that sometimes accompanies weather events is terribly unfortunate, but the weather itself is amazing. I will admit to frustration when extended periods when weather interferes with my plans; but, in the grand scheme of life in this universe, weather is a good thing. Where would we be without it?

My philosophy (or should I call it my theory?) about weather is this: weather is a tightly woven collection of atmospheric chaos that constitutes a magnificently complex and intricate design. Not an intentional design, but a self-generated design that relies on its own components to generate its form.

The power of weather is stunning in its enormity. Volcanoes, earthquakes…powerful, but impotent in comparison to weather. Nothing else on the planet can hold a candle to it. That statement may be erroneous. Weather, after all, is a child of climate, isn’t it? So isn’t climate the all-powerful force of nature? I think not. Climate functions like a car’s driver. The driver controls the car’s direction, but it’s the car that has the power. So it is with climate. Climate controls the direction weather takes, but weather exhibits the power. Yet an argument might be made that both the driver and the climate have ultimate control. Remove the driver from the car and the car becomes a mass of steel and plastic and rubber, unable to move of its own accord. Remove climate’s guiding hand and…what? Would weather cease without climate to guide it? I don’t know. I have never thought about it until just now; and thinking about it just now leaves me confused. I have no answer.

My smart phone just alerted me to the fact that Garland County, where we live, is under a flash flood watch until 6:00 p.m. today. More evidence of the power of weather. And a sign that I should stop writing about weather and return to fiction, hidden in documents on my computer.

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A Great Civil War

It’s strange, isn’t it, that I’ve been glued to coverage of the New Hampshire primary this evening? Perhaps not. The battle between Democratic candidates for President offers some hope that we may see the demise of the demon in the White House before many more months pass. But I remain afraid. I remain concerned that democracy may be in the grips of a maniac who is doing his damnedest to hold it under water for an extended period, hoping to drown it in preparation for seizing power on a permanent basis.

At some point, we may reach the point that all of us may understand the crucial need for revolution. But, by then, it may be too late. Is it beyond the realm of possibility that Americans might be unable to come to grips with our own battle with dictatorship?

Democrats and, I hope, independents are likely to realize the seriousness of the situation early on. But Republicans don’t seem to understand that they are supporting the dismantling of democracy by supporting the orange idiot. At some point will they, too, come to understand that our only hope might well be open rebellion? Will they, too, realize that insurrection could be our only hope?

I would hate for Lincoln’s words to have to be relived again: “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.” But I’m afraid that may well be how this plays out.

Let’s hope I’m simply being overly dramatic. I do hope that’s the case. If not, I fear we’re doomed.

 

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I Knead a Massage

Facebook gave me an opportunity to change the “old look” to the new. I took them up on it. I loathed the new look. I wasn’t crazy about the old one, either, but the new look reminded me of the great, great grandchildren of self-absorbed millenials. So I went back to the original look. Uninspired, fundamentally ugly. But I was used to it. Ach! I hate the idea that I might be devolving into a problematic geezer whose primary measures of quality depend on “the way it used to be.” I’d rather slash my wrists. (Though, in all honesty, I’ve never done that; I can’t actually say I’d rather do that. I don’t even want to try. So let’s leave it at that.)

Yet I brand myself an adventurer. Or something like it. I am willing to thrust myself into new experiences. And, I usually enjoy them. But the idea of some new experiences does not appeal to me. Until I actually experience them. So maybe I’d like the sensation of a knife slicing into my jugular vein; but I doubt it. Seriously. I’m almost certain that would not appeal to me in the least.

It’s only 6:02 and I’m drinking a gin & tonic. That’s a sign, I think, of deviance. But I am, deep in my heart, a deviant. I enjoy fantasies in which…wait, I better not go there, for fear of being disallowed entry into the home of good friends and others. But, in spite of my geezerhood, I have a rather active imagination. Some of the people who occupy real estate in there might be appalled. Or they might be enthralled. Who knows? One day, I may reveal the vivid, active, exceptionally expressive fantasy life that goes on inside my head. I should probably wait until I’m on my death bed, though, lest things get a little awkward. I love making people a little uncomfortable; have you noticed? I have no idea, actually, whether my dream-world would make others uncomfortable; others may well have the same dreams! Who knows? I don’t.

A nice neck massage would be perfect about now. Something to wrest the anxieties and the worries from my aching muscles. I doubt I can arrange for that, though, at this hour. So I won’t even try. But I can say with certainty that I want a massage. Actually, I may not just want one, I may knead a massage. Am I cute, or what? Of course I am, in spite of my belly fat and a face that seems bent always into a  perpetual snarl. I’m actually happier than I look. But cute? Yeah, probably not.

Enough of this. It’s time to go finish cooking the pasta and making the sauce. I’m sure the meal will be delightful. It always is.

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Looking for Serenity

Attempting to achieve anything remotely resembling a sense of serenity these days seems to be a fool’s errand. We are bombarded around the clock with news telling us that almost everything we hold dear is under assault in some form or fashion. How can a person find serenity in an environment in which chaos supplies us with the oxygen necessary to sustain life? If I had the answer, I would joyfully share it with the world. Sadly, I don’t. But I have encountered some suggestions I want to try.

Breathe: Take a deep breath, count to three, and release. Repeat it ten times. By the tenth time, a greater sense of serenity (or, at least, a lesser sense of chaos) should have come over me.

Focus: Instead of trying to juggle dozens of tasks that need to be done, focus on one at a time. Do that whenever possible. That approach to “to-do” clutter should be a soothing exercise.

Drop Everything: When the challenges become too great, simply walk away. Obviously, the walk must be short-lived, but I’m told it can be enormously restorative and calming. Even a few minutes away from the demands of daily living carries the potential of revitalizing one’s sense of serenity. Or so I’m told.

Read for Entertainment: It happened slowly, but it happened: I read quite a lot, but I read almost exclusively for information, insight, knowledge. That is great, but I think reading as an escape into a fantasy world or a world that exists exclusively for my entertainment can reduce my blood pressure and smooth the sharp edges in my brain. That I have to remind myself of this is evidence that something has gone wrong. It’s easily fixed. Will it give me some serenity? Maybe; especially if combined with some of the other ideas.

Exercise: This is not news. But, still, too many people (including me, of course) just don’t do it. Stretching one’s muscles, breaking a sweat, putting the body in motion can relieve the tension that builds up over the course of a day’s exposure to stress-inducing thoughts and experiences.

Pay Grateful Attention to Humor: Look for reasons to laugh. Actively seek them out. Share them. I suspect this is one of the quickest ways to sooth one’s soul. I imagine the type of humor matters, though. Light-hearted silliness, I suspect, is the best kind. In my experience, that kind of humor seems to excise rock-hard clumps of stress from within me.

Pay Grateful Attention to People Who Matter: We do that already, right? Maybe. But I think conscious gratitude for people who mean something to us is a little less common. We are grateful, yes, but do we consciously tell ourselves (and them) by paying close attention? Maybe not so much. I do not know how much this will impact serenity, but I’ve seen the suggestion from more than one source that offers advice on retrieving one’s serenity. Whether it works or not, I think it’s good practice.

Recognize that Worry Doesn’t Change Things: Worry is a sure way to crush serenity. One cannot feel serene while engaging in worry about something. The reality of worry is that it has no impact on the object of concern. Worrying about something will not change it. The issue, of course, is to recognize that fact. Worry is especially useless if you can’t do anything about the problem. If you can do something, the solution is to do it, not to worry about it. I know this. But it’s easier to write about than to internalize and be guided by it. I will continue to try, though.

Meditate. Meditation need not be a formal process. It can be a simple retreat from daily stresses by thinking about something soothing, calming, relaxing. Occasionally, I achieve a sense of peace (albeit not necessarily long-lasting) by visualizing a pebble dropping into a glass-still pool of water and then watching the water ripple away from the place the pebble dropped. I think that’s a form of meditation. If I train myself to do that regularly when I feel stress, I suspect I will achieve a greater sense of serenity.

Understand that Serenity is an Internal Affair: In spite of the fact that some of the ideas I’ve written about thus far suggest otherwise, serenity is internal. It’s impossible to look for our serenity in other people or in other places. It’s all inside our heads. By recognizing that we, alone, have ultimate control over our sense of serenity, we should be able to exercise governance over it. And it may be just that easy. Or that impossibly hard.

I think I’ve been so far from serenity for so long that I might not know what it felt like when I found it. That’s probably not the case, though. The sense that I can accept whatever comes my way is, I think, a feeling of serenity. Though I haven’t felt that acceptance in a long while, I do remember feeling it. And I’d know it again if I stumbled across it.

I intend to incorporate these suggestions into my thoughts and behaviors. It would be so refreshing to feel a sense of peace and serenity. Not “would.” “Will.”

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Wisława Szymborska (1923-2012)

Wisława Szymborska was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1966. I did not know that until the morning of February 9, 2020. I do not believe I had ever even heard her name until that moment. But when I viewed and listened to a video of Maria Poplova reading Szymborska’s poem, Pi, I decided I should find and read more of her work. And I will. Someday.

But first, I will explore just a bit more about her. She was a poet and an essayist. I like the titles (translated into English) of several of her works:

  • That’s Why We Are All Alive
  • People on the Bridge
  • Non-Required Reading
  • Salt (I do not know why that single word evokes emotion in me, but it does)
  • A Large Number

I read that last poem, A Large Number, and was intrigued by it. I love her imagery. And her creativity is a delight. She describes a flashlight beam in the dark, illuminating only those random faces over which it passes, leaving the rest in the dark.  Another element of the poem includes a Latin phrase: non omnis moriar. Translated, it means my work will live; literally, it means I shall not wholly die. That simple phrase can offer as much hope to a writer as anything else, even to a hack who will leave only unpublished and unfinished manuscripts.

Szymborska published about 350 poems. I gather that’s a small number for a published poet (who knew?), though it sounds like an impossibly large number to me. I don’t know how many I’ve written, but I suspect it’s in the neighborhood of 175; my entire catalog comprises half of her published work. According to Wikipedia, she was asked why she had published so few poems; her response was: “I have a trash can in my home.” My reasons for my low number would be: 1) I have a creativity deficit and 2) I have a delete key on my keyboard.

Some of Szymborska’s poems found their way into musical lyrics and others found their way into movies. At least two of her poems, Love at First Sight and People on the Bridge, either inspired film (the former) or were made into a film (the latter).

Aside from the Nobel Prize in Literature, Szymborska was the recipient of The City of Kraków Prize for Literature, the Goethe Prize, the Polish Ministry of Culture Prize, and the Polish PEN Club prize, among many others.

I wonder whether my unfamiliarity with Szymborska is atypical or whether the U.S. education system simply doesn’t acknowledge the importance of foreign literary writers and their work. And I wonder whether Szymborska’s name is more widely known in Europe and elsewhere around the world. I realize, of course, it’s entirely possible that I have simply led a sheltered life, protected from education that would have made me a well-rounded citizen of the world. But I sort of doubt that; I think Szymborska’s name might not be well-known in the U.S., outside of erudite literary circles. Maybe not even in those circles; I wouldn’t know.

I said in the first paragraph that I will find and read more of Szymborska’s work. That’s probably not true. My interests tend to be short-lived and shallow. I’ll flit on to something else very soon and will forget Szymborska and her poetry. Maybe the something else will be welding or making wind chimes or painting or going to see plays. It’s anyone’s guess. Sorry, Ms. Szymborska. I do admire you and your work, but probably not enough to do more than I’ve done.

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The Spring that Refreshes

A blogger friend’s post this morning, about her back yard in Sweden, got me thinking about Spring and flowers and plants and such. She wrote about feeding the birds and putting in plants that feed birds and butterflies and the like. And she mentioned reading a book about a family in the U.K. that let their farm revert to a natural state. Her post served to jog my memory of a garden I planted many years ago. It was in the back yard of our first house, a white brick ranch in western suburban Houston, Texas. At the time, my brother worked for the railroad and had access to old used railroad ties. He arranged for me to get some of those ties, which I used as the perimeter of the garden. I then bought a truckload or two (or more?) of topsoil and filled in the railroad tie outline, creating a slightly raised garden. I grew tomatoes and corn and squash and beans and radishes and who knows what else. But I didn’t keep it up for long. I didn’t have the patience for gardening. Eventually, I let it revert to an almost natural state. The flowering weeds did, indeed, attract butterflies and birds.

Without a great deal of expense and backbreaking labor, a garden of the kind I made would be impossible here. Living in a house on the side of a mountain, with an extremely steep and dangerously rocky back yard, is not conducive to vegetable gardening. But I suspect I could get enough flowering plants to grow in the little available soil to make for a feast for butterflies. Some of the weedy vines that take over parts of the land behind the house flower in the Spring. I suspect I could add to the color of Spring by planting butterfly bushes and paintbrushes and evening primrose. The latter two are weeds that grew…like weeds…in Texas. They were all over the roadsides in Springtime.

Even though February is not even half over, I’m feeling a longing for Spring this morning. I blame Liz and her blog for it, but that’s not fair. I felt that longing even before I read her post. Of course, my lack of patience, coupled with my uncooperative lungs and declining strength in my arms and legs, could impact any plans I might have to garden. Even to garden with flowering shrubs that take care of themselves.

But I should be able to muster the energy to feed birds. And, really, I just need to get back in shape. Go to the gym. Get back in the habit of walking, even if it’s in small bits. It’s the bloody hills that get to me; I can walk on a flat surface, but the damn inclines leave me breathless.  It’s a problem that cries out for a solution. And I should just solve it. And so I will make it my mission to do so. And I’ll plant a few flowers and such to make sure Spring is as renewing and refreshing as it is meant to be.

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Smooth Stones

When I find myself looking down through water flowing over a bed of smooth rock, my mind wanders back in time. Not months or years, but ages. Eons. More years than I can imagine. And when I see a large, smooth boulder in the water, resting on top of the smooth stone bed, I wonder how much force the water must have exerted on the stone to move it to its current location. And I wonder how much the force of the water must have diminished to have deposited it there. Finally, I wonder how much time must have passed to have ground smooth that stone and the bed upon which it rests.

I try to imagine how the image I am looking at would have appeared to my father when he was my age. And to his father at the same age. And to his father at the same age. And on and on and on. How many years ago would that smooth river bed comprise rough, ragged, sharp rock? Of course the surrounding vegetation might have looked radically different years ago. And the banks of the river or stream would have been more abrupt. Time and water must have smoothed them over the ages. Maybe the water would have flowed over a different course a millennium ago. I suppose it doesn’t matter. My father did not see the water flowing over the smooth rock, nor did his ancestors. It’s all just me, playing a game with time. But it does matter, in a way. It matters that I understand that the so-called ravages of time are not necessarily devastating. The ravages of time can transform one form of beauty into another, sculpting monuments to wind and water out of shrines to the rawness of the Earth.

I’m fascinated by fast-motion animations that show the transformation of deserts into oceans into mountains; and back into oceans and deserts and so on. I watched an animation that showed how present-day Colorado was, 300 million years ago, quite a distance below the equator. The animation showed the tectonic plates drift northward; it then showed Colorado under the sea, as a desert, and it showed several iterations of mountains rise and disintegrate into sand. Truly fascinating stuff, though admittedly only an animator’s approximation of reality.

Time as we know it and experience it is compressed. When I attempt to understand it in its full scope, I have to remind myself to breathe; breathtaking is not just a expression of amazement, though I suppose it’s that, too.  In trying to comprehend time, I try to equate it to the thread on spools. If I extend a role of 200-yard-long thread to its full length and cut 1/16 of an inch from it and say that little piece is equal to one century (100 years), I would need more than 25 additional spools of thread tied end to end just to get the length of thread to equal 300 million years. It’s mind-boggling.

Watching fast-motion animation videos, I realize that the smooth bed of the river I see is probably just the latest of dozens, maybe hundreds, of expressions of land mass that existed in that spot over the course of many millennia. There’s not enough thread in a sewing hobbyist’s house to stretch that far.

Here I am contemplating time. I’ve written before that I believe time has completely different meanings, depending on context. A hour on planet Jupiter is vastly different from an hour on planet Earth. But we’re stuck here on planet Earth, so in practical terms, time is what we experience. Yet we cannot possibly experience its full scope, simply because time is longer than our minds can comprehend. Enough of this. On to personal drivel.

And here’s today’s journal…

This business of getting up well before four o’clock in the morning seems to have become habitual. Today, the clock claimed the time was only a little after two o’clock when I awoke, but I forced myself to stay in bed for almost two hours until I could no longer tolerate the Groundhog Day-style daydream any longer. It’s odd, knowing one is fully awake yet being unable to turn off the repeating scenes from an unsatisfying daydream playing in one’s head. Getting out of bed after such an experience is a little something like salvation; I have to admit, though, I know little about the experience of salvation aside from what I’ve read. Perhaps relief is a better word to describe the experience.

Relief is one of “those words.” Those words whose multiple meanings seem to have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with one another. The most common definition involves the alleviation or removal of pain or anxiety or stress. But the word also can refer to “the differences in elevation and slope between the higher and lower parts of the land surface of a given area.” Another definition, also relating to differences in elevation, concerns printing (relief printing). Though I do not understand the derivation of the definitions in different contexts (and I’m not sufficiently motivated to go looking), I find the different definitions quite interesting.

I should not complain about my habit of much-earlier-than-normal rising of late. My wife has been having a very difficult time getting any sleep at all. If she slept at all last night, it was just a little, sometime after midnight, in her recliner. She came to bed just after I woke up after two o’clock, but stayed there for only a short while before returning to the recliner. When I got up before four, she was in her recliner, but not asleep. She had gotten up, she said, because she was afraid her persistent cough would disturb my sleep. I sent her back to the comfort of our bed; I hope she is sleeping now. I suspect she will sleep in this morning; I hope so.

Yesterday, we finally went to the Coronado Fitness Center to sign up for membership, using a new benefit supplied by our individual supplemental Medicare insurance. Many others have told us about the wonders of Silver Sneakers. Until January 1 this year, we had no such benefit; we now have one (not called Silver Sneakers) that costs $25 per month, versus the unacceptably expensive “regular” cost of membership in the fitness center. The next trick is to use it. I am sufficiently out of shape to need coaching on how to recover from indolence lasting for a year and then some. Exercise. That’s what I need. Lots of exercise. And a diet geared toward health. I could use a magic pill that would give me the body of a forty-year-old athlete and the intellect of a forty-year-old renaissance man who possesses doctorates in physics, literature, mathematics, sociology, and pharmacology; I’d be willing to pay full fitness center prices for such a pill. Absent that little pill, I’ll just have to enthusiastically live the life available to me.

Part of my day today will be devoted to creating a list of repairs and renovations (and the like) we need to have done to and around the house. After I compile the list, my wife and I will attempt to put it in priority order. Some things, like finishing the painting of the deck, will have to wait until we can rely on several days running of clear, warm weather. Others, like trimming a tree near the “sky room” off the master bedroom should be done soon, before the tree begins to leaf. Others will depend on our willingness to spend money; for example, both the master bath and the guest bath need updating (in my opinion). And I’d like to change out the lighting in the kitchen. Dozens upon dozens of little things need to be done, too. Things like changing out fan-speed rheostat switches, which I can do, but for which would I like a helper (who can take charge of flipping breaker switches on and off). I’d rather do all the little things I can do than spend my time fulfilling commitments I’ve foolishly made to organizations in which I am involved. Oh, I’ve mentioned that repeatedly on this blog? Yes, yes, of course I have.

 

 

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A February Mood

The temperature outside at 4:00 a.m., a short while after I awoke, registered 25 degrees, just half the number of Fahrenheits the weather witches are forecasting for today. If, indeed, the temperature reaches 50 degrees, today will eclipse yesterday by about 15 degrees. Unlike yesterday, today will not offer a demonstration of what a “dusting of snow” looks like. Actually, yesterday’s snow was more than a dusting, but less than enough to cause any problems on the road. Yesterday offered incontrovertible evidence of Winter, but without teeth. Not a bad day at all, weather-wise. I suspect today will suggest that Spring is at least in the back of Mother Nature’s mind; but it’s only in her subconscious thus far.

Aside from the occasional celebratory moment (like today, which is a friend’s birthday), February can be a dank and bothersome month. Its wild swings between frigid cold and teasing warmth suggest either that Mother Nature experiences psychotic episodes or that she is capable of bullying. Maybe both. I’ve never been particularly fond of February, but I’m certainly glad I’ve not missed any of them since birth. That’s a paradox, isn’t it? I suspect it is akin to the feelings of the parent of a child who has criminal tendencies; I don’t think I need to explain further.

Yesterday, I went to the hospital to undergo a pulmonary function test. The woman who conducted the assessment was very pleasant and seemed very capable, but she was careful not to tell me much about the results. She did say, though, that the bronchial inhaler she administered as part of the process measurably improved my lung function. That means, I guess, that the inhaler my oncologist prescribed (thinking it might improve my cough, which it hasn’t) is apt to be a permanent fixture. And, I might add, an ungodly expensive fixture. My insurance company won’t pay a dime of the cost; I finally got my doctor to prescribe one that cost only $76 for 200 sprays. The good part, though, is that I am to use it only when I need it. Thus far, I haven’t been able to determine whether I need it; I can’t tell any difference between using it and not using it. That’s February for you.

After three days in bed and virtually no intake of food, my wife was up and about for much of the day yesterday. And she ate lunch and dinner. But her cough remains. She asked me to buy more cough/decongestant medicine, which I dutifully did. I may have to physically drag her to see the doctor if her cough persists for much longer. I find it ironic that she has resisted going to the doctor; she berates me for my resistance to the same thing. This is the second episode of cold-like illness she’s experienced in as many weeks.

Today, we’ll have a visit from the occasional housekeeper, who brings with her some floor care machinery (vacuum/wet-vac/??) that is louder than a badly-tuned 747. I flee the scene when she arrives, leaving my wife to give her whatever direction she needs. I wish I had someplace to go, rather than just wandering around in my car, using up gas. Ideally, I would be able to go to the “club,” where I could sit and read the newspaper, have a snifter of brandy, and then play a game of pool. But when she arrives it’s a bit early for brandy; and there is no “club,” so it’s out of the question. I haven’t played pool in years; I bet the last time I played was when we lived in Houston. That would have been almost 40 years ago. I suspect I might drop the pool cue if I picked it up today. Perhaps I could visit my friend whose birthday is today. But that would involve a 5-hour round trip, plus time for the visit; my wife would be annoyed that I left her here for the duration. And my friend my be unpleasantly surprised if I were to show up, unannounced, on her doorstep.

If I were in the mood, I could work on an article I promised to write. But I’m not in the mood. Nor am I in the mood to do much more, for the moment, with the database I will manage for our church auction. It’s not that I’m slothful today; it’s just that I’m in a February mood.

The remaining quarter of a cup of coffee in my mug has long since grown cold. I am not a fan of reheated coffee; it must be fresh and hot to satisfy me. So, I will finish the cold cup, sneering in disgust as I drink it, and will then make another fresh, hot cup. And then, I may write some more. Not that this post can claim to be writing.  But it’s the sort of thing I write in February.

 

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Structured Thinking with a Bit of Flex

A tiny bit more structured introspective assessment, please. Nothing imbued with gravitas, though; let’s keep it light and airy, to the extent introspection makes that possible. Keep it flexible so it can bend the way my mind bends. Mind-bending. Does that suggest the use of drugs? It was not meant to; I’m on drugs, but none that have any enjoyable side-effects to accompany their danger. Already off track.

I wonder whether other people experience intellectual and/or emotional periods in their lives that surprise them? By that, I mean I am curious as to whether others find themselves suddenly thinking, “I thought this issue [whatever it is] was put to bed years or decades ago.”

The issue on my mind this morning is narrative/free form poetry versus rhyming poetry. Until only a few months ago (with occasional interruptions), I thought I had long-since decided I did not enjoy writing and only rarely enjoyed reading rhyming poems. But, then, out of the cerulean sky (I can’t help myself), I found myself rather enamored of writing poems with various rhyme schemes.  As I tried my hand at rhyming poems again after approximately forty years (again, with the occasional dip back in the pool of rhymes), I discovered some of them are rather difficult. And I learned, or re-learned, that poetry can be considerably more complex than I once thought. Though I do not pretend to remember (if I ever knew) all the myriad poetic structures and schemes, I think I remember enough to be dangerous. I remember terms like iambic pentameter, couplets (of various types), stanzas, rhyme patters, and so forth. But beyond that, my mind remains just as cloudy as it ever was.

While I was in school, I was frankly bored with the seemingly endless complexity of poetry. I had no interest in rhyme patterns, pentameters, couplets, and haiku. It was a bit like the visual arts for me; I knew what I liked, though I knew not why. And I didn’t have an interest in finding out why. Did others feel the same way? I can say with certainty many in my schools did. I am surprised I did, though, given the fact that my mother was an English teacher and was enamored of such stuff; she even enjoyed diagramming sentences, which I believed should be made illegal, inasmuch as it amounted to torture. As an aside, though, apparently I learned from her by osmosis; I never even learned all the terminology of grammar, but I know how to frame grammatically correct sentences.

With all that as an unnecessary backdrop, I wrote a rhyming poem during the last couple of days. If my understanding of poetry’s terminology is correct, it is written as a series of heroic couplets that incorporate the same meter (with a number of exceptions that I may one day “fix” so the poem fits the “rules” of poetry; a term I find offensive when applied to poetry for some reason).

I tired of writing it as I neared what is, for now, the end. If I weren’t so damn lazy, I would have continued working on it, rather than simply tacking on an ending. But I’m lazy. So the poem is missing some stanzas; probably a good four our five maybe more. With the addition of those stanzas, it might tell a more complete story. But the fact is, those stanzas remain somewhere in my head and they may never find their way out. I think, even in their absence, this poem is adequate. It could be better. Oh, well. So could I.

Kingdom of the Time of the Dead

When bodies were buried and headstones were carved,
we worshiped at altars and prayed to the stars.
We thought death was transition to more than mere dust.
Our lives seemed to matter, the world seemed more just.

Once we depended on old time religion
when poetry was pure and somewhat Coleridgean.
That time when churches soothed our hard souls,
lives dedicated to loftier goals.

We’ve since abandoned that old superstition.
We’re lost, we’re lost, where’s our sense of contrition?
We’ve grown weary of caring, we tire of sympathy,
gone are our values, we’ve lost the meaning of empathy.

Oh let us recover our sacredness, please,
that piece of existence we once chose to seize.
Oh please let us remember our duty to Love,
to cherish and honor the matters thereof.

I once walked through graveyards and thought of the dead,
of the lives they once lived and the words they once said.
The wind often whispered of those who had died
and it spoke of their stories and the tears they had cried.

But now the flowers are wilting and the headstones are broken
as if memories have faded, their  names no longer spoken.
Those lives that once mattered are just history lost
and the cold winter winds coat the graveside with frost.

The dead don’t remember, nor do the living.
We can’t seem to recall, yet the dead are forgiving.
Now we just leave them to rot in the grave,
with no compensation for the lives that they gave.

We no longer bury them, there’s no ritual now.
It’s easier, faster to just mumble a vow,
as we scorch them, torch them, and set them ablaze,
but we can’t watch them burn, averting our gaze.

Oh this loss of solemnity is truly not real,
this scarce wave of contrition, just sorrow we feel
for the way we squandered the lives we have led
as we enter the kingdom of the time of the dead.

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The Question is a Serpent

Dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life

I ask myself the question over and over and over and over, hoping to one day find an answer: “Who am I, under the veneer?” It hasn’t even been a month since I pondered the question, in writing here on my blog, once again.

Yet here I am, clanging my metal cup against the bars to get the attention of the guards in the hope they will release me from my cell. I should know better. I was given a life sentence. The answer to my question, if one exists, is not out there, beyond the prison walls. It is buried beneath the veneer. To find the answer, I need only to strip away the veneer, layer by layer.

Based on comments I’ve received about my question, I gather it is difficult for others to understand. But it may be me; my explanation may be inadequate or confusing. I’ll admit, the concept is a bit abstract. “If I could rid my personality of all the consequences of socialization, training, environmental influences, etc., etc., etc., what would the remaining “pure” personality be like?” A raft of other questions flow from that one: what would I believe? How would I treat other people? How would I treat myself? Would I be compassionate? Would I have empathy? I could go on and on and on.

Some people may understand my question, but some of them may think it’s a stupid one. Or they think it’s pointless to even think about it because they think it’s impossible to answer. But I don’t think it is impossible. It’s just extremely unlikely that I’ll ever find an answer. Even mining the depths of my brain by writing and thinking and probing and writing some more, I doubt I’ll ever get beyond a layer or two of those hard veneers wrapped around the real me that’s buried deep inside. Yet I keep trying. Either I’m persistent or I’m of unsound mind.

I remember attempting to engage someone in conversation about the question; someone I thought would at least have some inkling of what I’m looking to find. The response, though, suggested otherwise. It was, essentially, “Why bother? You are who you are. It’s a waste of energy.”  And maybe it is a waste of energy. But, for me, it’s a compelling waste of energy. I’d like to know, before I die, who I would have been had I not permitted myself to be molded and shaped by other people and by experiences that I allowed to sculpt me into someone other than who I was. I recognize that it’s an odd, abstruse query. It may be one unique to people who are pathologically introspective.

A writer friend with whom I have occasional conversations suggests the question is a manifestation of my belief that I am fundamentally not a good person; but that if I can dig deep enough I might find a kernel of decency. I hope she’s wrong. She’s not a psychologist, so her opinion is not that of an expert. But she makes a reasoned argument.

One of the triggers for my question, I think, goes back to my first job in association management. I went into the job as an extreme introvert but, because of the job requirements, when I finally left it six years later I was able to present myself as an extrovert. Thought I remained, and remain still, an introvert, I changed my behavior. And that change of behavior resulted not only in external changes but internal changes as well. I’m an introvert whose personality was altered in some way by the experience.

I’m sure similar changes have taken place in my head over the years, but I probably do not even recognize most of them.  I am certain similar adjustments to who I was/am took place before my first association job. As far back as early, early childhood. And the changes just kept on coming. My question, then, asks who I was before all those changes took place. Would I even recognize the person I was before I was altered by experience?

Perhaps I am destined to always pursue resolution to a problem for which there is no answer. And in that case, the suggestion that “you are who you are” and that it’s a waste of energy may be the best one. No matter, though. I’ll keep at it. If nothing else, it gives me something to think about and write about.

Posted in Philosophy, Ruminations | Leave a comment

The Capacity for Understanding

As I was reading some of my old blog posts, looking for a reason to cling to hope for humanity, I came upon the following words which were included in a longer sentence:

…we must be capable of acknowledging and recognizing the incalculably vast differences between butterflies and locomotives.

One would never know it by reading those words alone, but the subject of the post was the complexity of saws—the devices we use, for example, to cut wood. I wrote about the unique and necessary lexicon, which I discovered by chance while wandering the internet, surrounding saws.

It occurred to me, as I read that sentence from my old post, humans are far more complex, even, than I have acknowledged. Even the dull, dim-witted, downright stupid among us are capable of distinguishing millions—maybe even billions—of unique characteristics and attributes of pieces of the universe around us. We can be trained, or train ourselves, to understand many of the minute differences between elements of the physical world. Surely, then, we can be trained or can train ourselves to understand the similarities and the differences between elements in the intellectual landscape. That is to say there’s hope for even the dull, dimwitted, and downright stupid to grasp, on at least a basic level, the full spectrum of ideas related to any given subject.

All right, maybe my optimism is misplaced. Maybe even a basic understanding of the full spectrum of ideas is beyond many of us. But the fact that almost all of us can readily acknowledge and recognize how butterflies and locomotives differ from one another is worth celebrating. That capacity is a reasonable baseline to describe intellectual facility. Or, at least, it is an attribute worthy of note.

Even after last night’s debacle in Iowa (which has yet to be resolved), I can feel a few shreds of optimism about my fellow human beings. But to be honest, those shreds start to degrade into brittle fibers as I contemplate what Trumpian thugs are sure to make of the situation. Ah, but I must return to the wondrous reality that even Trumpian thugs can see and appreciate and understand the differences between butterflies and locomotives. Though the Trumpian thugs are doing all they can to eradicate the butterflies and replace them with coal-powered locomotives, spewing soot and ash and planet-killing carbon dioxide.

The fragility of my hopefulness is clear to me. I vacillate between low-level joy and overwhelming despair.

I don’t have time for this. I took a break from writing to check on my wife. She was sick all day yesterday with an awful cough and she’s in bed now with an ice-pack on her head. I must devote my attention to her well-being, considerations of the viability of humankind be damned.  I’d better go check on the status of the ice-pack.

Posted in Ideas, Intellect | Leave a comment

Cloaking Fashion in a Different Framework

I wonder why men’s capes and cloaks fell out of fashion? That question has plagued me (a slightly dramatic overstatement, perhaps) for some time. Aside from the drama of the question, though, it’s a reasonable question. Alas, I have no answer. Regardless, I am sorry capes and cloaks fell by the wayside. I like the way they look. I think I might rather enjoy wearing a cloak, especially, simply because to my eyes cloaks lend an air of casual sophistication to a gentleman’s dress.

Until this morning, though, I did not know the difference between capes and cloaks. Frankly, I’d never considered that they might be different types of clothing. Hmm. Are capes items of clothing? Same question for cloaks. Or are they fashion accessories? I would argue they are both, but would lean heavily toward the utilitarian; they serve a function beyond serving as eye candy. So, they are items of clothing that supplement and accent clothes over which they are worn. So says John. Who’s to argue? It’s 4:40 in the morning and no one in their right mind would be up and thinking about such things at this hour.

Speaking of the difference between the two items. According to Ravenfoxcapes.com, capes tend to be shorter, falling to the hips or thighs. They tend not to have hoods and they don’t necessarily close in the front. Cloaks, on the other hand, “fall to below to the knees and are often floor length. They typically have enough fabric to be closed for warmth and will protect from the elements.” The same website suggests that capes often serve more of an accessory than an item of clothing. All right. I’ll buy that. So, what I’m after, then, is a cloak. Cloaks would look better than capes on old fat men, too. More fabric to cover and disguise the unpleasant evidence of gluttony and sloth. So, the matter is sealed; I’m not going to be wearing a cape until I shed seventy pounds and at least half as many years. But I might surprise the world one day by showing up in a cloak. I doubt I’ll be buying from Ravenfoxcapes, though; their offerings seem geared exclusively to women; at least that’s the impression I get from the photos of models on the site, all of whom are female.

A bit more exploration revealed a variety of sources of cloaks for men. Most, though, seem geared toward costume-wear intended for people desiring the goth-look. I’m not after costumes; I’m after clothes! And I don’t want to break the bank. An admittedly cursory review of products that look like they are nicely tailored and made from quality materials revealed price points that are beyond my reach. Or, beyond my willingness to part with my money. The range seems to be between $325 and $1500. Damn!

Okay, what if I were willing to spend that kind of money? What more would I have to spend for an entire “outfit” that would look like it was properly assembled? You know, kind of like assembling slacks and a jacket and a nice pair of shoes and, of course, a shirt that complements the rest of the ensemble. I don’t know. It has been so very, very long since I bought a suit and all the requisite accouterments to go with it that I have no idea what it might cost. Frankly, I don’t know (and haven’t bothered to research) what one wears under a cloak. If, indeed, there exists some fashion dos and don’ts for cloak undergarments. Jeans and running shoes seem not to fit, but I could be wrong. If I were to get serious about this, I would do my homework. But, wait, I am serious about this. I like the idea of cloaks. But would I really wear one? Perhaps. I’d hate to find out that I wouldn’t, though, after spending a thousand dollars on one. I’d have to spend money on tailoring, too; despite what Ravenfoxcapes says about them, I’d have to have my cloak shortened so it falls to just above my knees. I think. I’m pretty sure I don’t want a floor length cloak.

Buying a cloak would be a risky endeavor. I’m not a fashion early-adopter or fashion leader. It’s annoying to me that I am a fashion follower; unwilling to risk ridicule and mockery by bucking fashion trends. It’s pathetic, it is. That fear of bullying suggests I’m equally unlikely to engage in other endeavors that stray from the mainstream. Ach! Would that others’ opinions of me did not matter. I pretend those opinions mean nothing to me; it’s an act, executed poorly.

My original question remains unanswered. Why did capes and cloaks fall out of fashion? I really don’t understand why people wouldn’t find them attractive. Maybe I should ask someone. I don’t believe I’ve ever had a conversation with anyone about my heretofore secret attraction to cloaks (now that I know the difference between them, I guess I’ve never really had much of an interest in capes).

I’ve written (several times, I’m sure) about my interest in designing my own clothes to suit my particular tastes and to fit my desires for practicality in clothing. I’ve promoted the idea of multiple pockets in sleeves designed for notepads, phones, pens, and other such paraphernalia. I have argued for the same add-ons for both shorts (which should have much shorter inseams, by the way, than those on the market today) and long pants. I am sure I would want to customize my cloak with the same sorts of practical pockets. But I’d probably have those pockets on the inside of the cloak, versus the outside like I promote for shirts and pants.

***

I went to bed very early again, hoping to get plenty of sleep and to make up for its lack during the last several nights. My SleepNumber app says I went to be at 9:14 and arose for the day at 3:48, for 6 hours and 32 minutes; 5 hours and 56 minutes of restful sleep, 26 minutes restless, and 2 minutes out of bed to pee. Apparently, insufficient sleep leads to strange fascination with Medieval outerwear. I’ve not gotten enough sleep in days and days and days; but maybe “enough” is a relative term. Two more hours until I have to be in the dental hygienist’s chair. I need to drink coffee, then shave and shower, before that takes place. The day begins again.

 

Posted in Clothes, Fashion | Leave a comment

In Lieu of More Poetry

My SleepNumber app tells me I was in bed for four hours and thirty-nine minutes last night; four hours and eight minutes of which were identified as “restful sleep.” The 4:08 figure compares unfavorably with my restful sleep average of 5:39. That figure compares unfavorably with my target of 7:30, which I almost never achieve. I suppose I don’t need as much sleep as I target, but I think I probably need more than 4:39 or 4:08 or even 5:39. Yet in recent memory I haven’t collapsed for lack of sleep. So there you go.

***

My cheesy little poem, first post of the day, was a disappointment to me. I posted it anyway. But I wrote another one that I haven’t posted yet because I want to polish it. I wrote the second one with the intent that it constitute lyrics to a song. But I don’t have a tune in mind, inasmuch as I am incapable of writing music. But lyrics, I think I can do reasonably well. I just don’t often share them. Because, well, they don’t sound as good just reading them off the page or screen as they sound (in my head) when sung to a well-written piece of music.

***

This morning, I will facilitate a post-service conversation at church. I’m trying something a little different. Rather than asking participants to watch and them comment on a themed TED-Talk (or other such video speech), I’m going to show a 10-minute documentary video about the posthumous Leonard Cohen album, Thanks for the Dance.  I have no idea how it will go over. But we shall see. I found the video extremely moving and thought-provoking. If it sparks conversation, good. If not, I will chalk it up to another piece of evidence that I am not really as in-sync with the people at church as I once thought.

***

My wife awoke yesterday with a pretty bad cold. I went out and bought Robitussin for her. She stayed in all day and slept for a good part of the day, I think. I went out to lunch with a friend who, after we had lunch, bought flowers for my wife. I love nice people, don’t you?  I Even though I awoke very early this morning (4:35), my wife was already up. Well, she had gotten up a bit earlier because she was coughing. When I got up, she was in her study, trying to sleep in her recliner. She went back to bed almost immediately. Ach. I hope she’s better soon.

***

It’s now 37 degrees. The forecast calls for that number to almost double to 72 by mid-afternoon. How does one dress for such wild temperature swings? Perhaps I should wear a thong under a parka. If I had a parka. And if I had a thong.

Posted in More Thought Bubbles | Leave a comment

The Cost

Words left unspoken
Thoughts never shared
Love never given
Hearts never bared
Hurt not softly soothed
Life like a cell
Hate freely given
Tears never fell
Eyes lacking for sight
Regret not felt
Emptiness so cold
Knees never knelt
Heartaches delivered
Memories lost
Dreams left in ashes
Lives are the cost

Posted in Poetry, Writing | Leave a comment

The Mouthfeel of Meat

The problem is not the flavor. The problem is the texture. I am confident I can achieve the flavor with relative ease. What I cannot imagine being able to do is replicate the texture to a sufficient degree to enable me to turn my vision into reality. I’m thinking, of course, of vindaloo tamales. I’m satisfied I can achieve the right texture if I use lamb or beef or chicken, but a vegetarian version of vindaloo tamales seems out of reach. Not that I’ve tried. I haven’t made vindaloo tamales of any sort. But I think I could if I tried. As long as I use meat. But the thing is, if I want to make a vegetarian version, I need a vegetable base that retains its “tooth.” I’m not sure that’s the word I want, but it will have to do in the absence of anything better. What I’m trying to describe is the resistance to one’s bite; the “mouthfeel of meat,” if you get what I mean. But with vegetables.

I may forego the vegetarian version. Lamb vindaloo tamales sound perfectly fine. Even more than perfectly fine. Beef, not so much. Chicken, even less. But lamb. Oh. Yes. Indeed. So, what I’m aiming for, then, is lamb vindaloo tamales and, if the universe were a cooperative, helpful place, vegetarian vindaloo tamales with the “mouthfeel of meat.” So, when will this undertaking occur? That’s hard to say. I need a cooperative wife or other cooperative partner; a nice girlfriend would do, I suppose, but that might create some friction with a certain wife. Regardless of the identity of the cooperative partner, I also need some lamb. And, if vegetables are to figure into this equation, one or more cooperative vegetables that will deliver the (always use quotation marks) “mouthfeel of eat.”

Here is a recipe I might try (I haven’t yet):

Lamb Vindaloo Tamales

Ingredients
• 3 lb boneless lamb shoulder, cut into roughly 2-in chunks (veggie alternatives???)
• 4 oz red wine vinegar
• 2 tbsp sunflower oil
• 2 tsp sea salt flakes
• 1lb potatoes, peeled and cut into roughly 1-inch pieces

For the sauce
• 4 oz sunflower oil
• 4 onions, 3 finely sliced and 1 chopped
• 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
• 3 jalapeño or hot Asian red chile (do not deseed), roughly chopped
• 1oz fresh root ginger, peeled, roughly chopped
• 1 tbsp English mustard powder
• 1 tbsp ground cumin
• 1 tbsp ground coriander
• 1 tbsp ground paprika
• 2 tsp ground turmeric
• 2 tsp cayenne pepper
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• 2 tsp sea salt flakes
• 2 bay leaves

Preparation method

  1. Trim the lamb, discarding any really hard lumps of fat and sinew. Mix the vinegar, vegetable oil and salt in bowl until well combined. Add the lamb and turn to coat in the marinade. Cover and chill in the fridge for two hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350.
  3. For the sauce, heat three tablespoons of the sunflower oil in a large heavy-based frying pan and cook the sliced onions very gently over a medium-low heat for 15 minutes until softened and lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
  4. While the sliced onions are cooking, put the remaining chopped onion, garlic, chiles, ginger, mustard powder, cumin, coriander, paprika, tumeric, cayenne pepper and cinnamon in a food processor and blend to a purée.
  5. Stir the purée into the fried onions. Add two tablespoons of oil and cook together for five minutes, or until thickened and beginning to color. Remove the mixture from the pan and place into a casserole dish.
  6. Drain the lamb in a colander and reserve the marinade. Return the frying pan to the heat and add two tablespoons of the remaining oil. Fry the lamb in four or five batches over a medium-high heat, turning occasionally until lightly browned. Add a little extra oil if necessary. Add the lamb to the casserole.
  7. Pour the reserved marinade and 2- 1/4 cup water into the casserole dish. Add the salt and bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Cover the surface of the curry with a piece of greaseproof paper (parchment), then cover with a lid. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes.
  8. Remove the casserole from the oven and stir the potato chunks into the curry, re-cover with the greaseproof paper and the lid and continue to cook for a further hour or until the lamb and potatoes are very tender. The consistency of the vindaloo matters with tamales; cook until much of the liquid has dissipated and the meat and potato mix is quite thick. Season, to taste, with salt.
  9. Prepare masa using the traditional means.
  10. FILL, FOLD AND STEAM THE TAMALES Select 30 of the largest husks without tears or large holes. Arrange 1 husk on a work surface with the narrow end pointing away from you. On the wide end, spread 3 tablespoons of the Tamale Dough in a 5-by-3-inch rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border of husk at the bottom. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the cooled vindaloo filling in the center of the Tamale Dough. Fold in the long sides of the husk, overlapping them to enclose the filling. Fold the narrow end toward you, over the tamale; it will be open at the wide end. Stand the tamale, open end up, in a very large steamer insert. Repeat with the remaining corn husks, Tamale Dough and filling.
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Shrapnel

The confetti from the explosion filled his chest. There was still room for his lungs and his heart and his liver and so forth, but the formerly roomy spaces were clogged with shrapnel. The wounds in his flesh healed over the pieces of twisted steel and bent aluminum and chipped pieces of ceramic. Scar tissue grew to surround the sharp edges of jagged nails and deformed ball-bearings, saving him from opening old wounds or creating new ones when he walked. All in all, he was lucky to be alive and able to get around on his own. But it wasn’t easy. He was in constant pain, though he had gotten used to it during the sixteen months since the bombing. But his anger had not subsided. Not even a little. He wanted nothing more than to find the bastard who detonated that bomb and rip the man’s face from his demented head. Assuming it was a man. And he did. He didn’t think a woman could have done such a monstrous thing. Sixty-one children died in the blast. In his mind, no woman could have killed so many children. It was unthinkable.

Pelvin Cartermore had been a Marine in his younger years. After his six years of service, he finished his bachelor’s degree and found work as a technical writer for an automobile glass manufacturing company outside Detroit. He worked for Pane Autoglass for nineteen years. Then, at age forty-nine, he was let go as part of a downsizing. Shortly thereafter, Pane Autoglass declared bankruptcy. Pelvin’s pension, which would have kept him comfortable in retirement, turned to vapor. His age and the economy conspired to keep him unemployed while his life’s savings dwindled to nothing. His house was repossessed by the mortgage company and, six months later, he was evicted for nonpayment of rent from the apartment he leased after losing the house. Fortunately for him, his 2002 Honda Civic was paid for, so he had a place to sleep at night.

And then came the bombing. The attack, obviously, was aimed at the family planning clinic on the building’s third floor. The daycare centers’ charges on the first floor—children cared for by five co-ops operated by young mothers who just wanted a safe place for their toddlers to learn and grow—were simply collateral damage. So was Pelvin Cartermore. And so were sixteen other people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time that rainy, cold January day in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The utter chaos of that awful morning was never far from Pelvin’s mind. Cold, grey, rain swept skies often triggered his memories of the event. It was as if a switch was tripped when he drew the blinds on a dull winter day. Instantly, he relived the experience.

“Dr. Davis,” Pelvin said, “will this prevent her from having children?” He was referring to Melanie’s, his friend’s, diagnosis of endometriosis.

“That depends on a number of factors, but in Melanie’s case, it’s not likely, especially if she gets pregnant in the relative near-term. But, Melanie,” Dr. Davis said as she turned toward Melanie Grant, addressing her patient directly, “you’ll have to make some decis…..”

That’s when Pelvin’s world exploded into a monstrous whirlwind of chaos, destruction, pain, blood, dust, shattered glass, and death.  Melanie Grant and Dr. Lisa Davis died instantly. Pelvin Cartermore’s chest absorbed pieces of shrapnel. Surgeons later said they could not be removed without risking his life. Somehow, Pelvin remained conscious during the explosion and its aftermath. He remembered being dug out of the rubble a hour after the blast. He recalled being carried on a makeshift stretcher over blood-soaked pieces of broken sheetrock and bent metal wall studs. He could picture every detail in his mind, even though the event had taken place sixteen months earlier. Now, though, he was well enough to do more than reminisce about the most horrible day of his life. Now, he was prepared to do what the FBI and police and state agencies had been unable to do; he was ready to identify and find the bastard who had killed those children and his friend and her doctor and all the rest. He wanted justice for those people. And he would stop at nothing to get it.

***

Melanie Grant was Pelvin’s friend, but not his girlfriend. She was a young woman Pelvin met one day when he went running on Mt. Sequoyah Woods Trail. Mt. Sequoyah was a hiking trail, but Pelvin went there to run. Most mornings, after he awoke, he drove his old Civic to a trail head early in the morning and went for a run. Running was painful for Pelvin, but somehow cathartic, as well. Early one morning, he came upon Melanie Grant, sitting on a bench near the trail head. She rested her chin on her clasped hands. Even from a distance, he could see that her eyes were red and puffy.

“Good morning. You’re out early,” Pelvin called to her from a distance as he approached. He did not want to startle her by getting too close before he made his presence known.

Melanie’s reaction seemed odd to Pelvin. She didn’t jerk her head in his direction, the way one would expect of someone surprised by the presence of a stranger. She slowly turned her head in his direction and, just as slowly, raised her head so she could look in his direction.

“Yeah. It’s pretty early.”

“Are you all right?” Pelvin felt odd asking the question of someone whose face he had seen only for a few seconds, but he sensed that she wasn’t all right and might need some help.

“Fine. Just meditating.”

“Oh, okay. Do you mind if I stop here for a minute?”

“Nothing to stop you.”

—————

[This seems to be going nowhere. Stilted conversation; not even remotely real. I’m not sure it ever had a place to go. Just another vignette out of the ether. But maybe I can use it some day.]

Posted in Fiction, Writing | Leave a comment