Competing Emotions

I first mentioned Keb’ Mo’ here in a piece I posted in March 2013, but I’ve been one of his raving fans for much longer than that. I think the first time I heard his music was during a visit to my late wife’s sister when she lived in Santa Rosa, California. That was many, many years ago. Though I like a lot of his music—virtually all of it—probably my favorite song is Life is Beautiful.  And here, from YouTube, is a version of the tune in which he and Taj Mahal collaborate:

It may seem silly to say this, but sometimes when I listen to a large selection of a musical artist’s music I get the sense that I know enough about him or her that I am confident that, if we ever met, we would get along very well. Keb’ Mo’ is one such artist. There’s something about his music and the way he delivers it that tells me he is a genuinely good, kind, compassionate man. He strikes me as someone who is humble, has a good sense of humor, and has not let his fame and fortune ruin those qualities. The skeptic in me says I should just let myself believe all that and should never, ever engage him in conversation, if presented the chance. I often wish that skeptic would shrink away, never to return. Competing emotions can be troublesome. Indeed.


A few days ago, I mentioned Ranchman’s, an old restaurant in Ponder, Texas where I used to get spectacular chicken-fried-steak. A friend happened to read the post, which triggered his memories of the place. He was introduced to it in 1972 during dove hunting season. At the time, the place was owned by the original owner, Pete, who always sat at a round table facing the door. My friend recalled his introduction to the place and how he experienced it: “Hunters didn’t bother to clean their boots when they came in. There was plenty of mud on the floor. There was a late model Rolls Royce parked diagonally in the middle of the street in front. One of the dove hunters, I imagine.” The Ranchman’s of today, even though it is shuttered for the time-being, remains an iconic attraction that recalls a different time. Although the place has evolved and “modernized” a bit, it continues to be a snapshot that takes visitors back in time.


True nostalgia is an ephemeral composition of disjointed memories.

~ Florence King ~


Recently, I bought new lenses for my eyeglasses; the prescription, after an eye exam, changed ever-so-slightly from the previous lenses, so I opted to replace the roughly three-year-old lenses. But I kept the frames. Yesterday, one of the ear pieces broke. I called the optical shop, hoping to buy a replacement ear piece. Instead, I was told they would replace the entire set of frames under warranty. The skeptic in me (he lurks in plain sight) says the shop has nothing to lose by replacing the frames and a lot of goodwill to gain (from some personal experience in consulting interactions with optometrists, I know the wholesale cost of frames is a tiny fraction of the retail price we pay—at least that was true about 15 years ago). That skeptical attitude notwithstanding, I was surprised and quite appreciative at the good news. I now have something positive to say about McFarland Eye Care of Hot Springs. And that positivity notwithstanding, I plan to go to a different eye clinic to have my eyes checked. Optical products and ophthalmic care are different beasts.


An idea for a piece of oddball fiction:

A man goes to a town he’s never been to or heard of before. He notices the absence of restaurants; no diners, no fast-food joints, nothing. He stops in at a convenience store, hoping to get something to eat. But he notices the place has nothing edible on its shelves. Nothing one might ordinarily expect in convenience store: no chips, no jerky, no candy bars. Nothing. He asks the clerk at the counter: “Is there anywhere to eat in this town?”

The clerk responds, “To what”? “

“To eat. Anyplace to get lunch? Or even a snack. You don’t have anything in here to eat. That’s kind of strange.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” the clerk answers. “What does that mean…’to eat?’ Is that what you said?”

The man looks shocked. Did he just hear the clerk say he doesn’t understand the term “to eat?”

Yes, that’s what he heard. And he notices other customers are paying attention to his conversation with the clerk. They, too, seem perplexed by his question.

Just an undeveloped idea. I have a lot of those. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe. My head is full of scraps of potential fiction, nonfiction, and would-be poetry. All undeveloped. Unpolished. Much of it, unfortunately, uninspired. But every word has the potential of replicating itself, each new version consisting of different letters. It’s like the way cells divide and change into different components of life-forms. Some words evolve into lengthy novels, while some are transformed into newspaper articles or business communications. And some ripen into urgent manifestoes that call for the violent overthrow of governments or whole societies. The thing is, one never knows what will emerge from a word as it changes. Identical words can morph in very different ways. Their progeny can mature into marketing catalogs or love letters or even ransom notes that threaten death and mayhem if the recipient fails to follow explicit directives.

One day, I hope to return to writing fiction. But for now, my attention span is so short I can’t even begin to think about writing something longer than a few paragraphs. I get bored with what I write. I get bored with myself. I feel the need to transmogrify in reverse, becoming taller, younger, better looking, and far more intelligent and worldly. A dashing figure who churns out novels and epic poems at the speed of thought. Uh huh. Right after I win the lottery.


I woke this morning around 3:30, but did not get out of bed until a few minutes after 4. I really tried to go back to sleep, but my body was having none of that. So I got  up, made coffee, and retreated to my computer. It’s nearing 7 now and I cannot stop yawning. I am afraid I may not have enough energy to paint an entire room today. But energy or not, I have to get cracking.


By the way, yesterday’s email notification about the day’s new post began “I am in the mood for a tit.” My intent was to write “I am in the mood for a titillating experience,” but I stopped mid-sentence. Apparently, I hit “publish” before I erased the sentence entirely. My apologies for the surprising error. 

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Competing Emotions

  1. Deanna says:

    Transmogrify? Impressive!

I wish you would tell me what you think about this post...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.