Early Wine

Synchronicity. I encountered an example of synchronicity yesterday. I spent some time with a financial advisor, asking questions about steps I should take to simplify my rather complex, but not particularly large, investment portfolio. Of course, the primary question for me was how to first take care of transferring joint ownership to sole ownership and some related matters. During the course of our conversation, I mentioned that I might want to sell my too-large house at some point, but probably not right away.

A few hours later, as I was playing Words with Friends with my sister-in-law, I got a call from the financial advisor. Another new client—a couple who just moved to the Village from the Pacific Northwest—visited her after I did yesterday afternoon. They mentioned that they were looking for a house with a mountain view. She told them about me and suggested, though it might be a bit early, they might want to talk to me.  Apparently, they wanted to; they asked her to contact me to ask me to call them. I tried to reach them by phone, but voice mail had not been set up on the number I was given. And it probably is too early. But…synchronicity.

Some people would say “everything happens for a reason.” Though I cannot accept that within the framework it is usually presented, I can acknowledge that there’s a “reason,” but not necessarily a reason orchestrated in accord with a grand plan. Yet, such coincidences sometimes seem to happen with a frequency that cannot be easily explained by statistical probability.

I would have a hard time explaining away the coincidence if the financial advisor suggested her new client allow her to reach out to me had I not mentioned to her my possible interest in selling my house. That would have been beyond coincidental; it would have been paranormal. Or something like that.


Early wine can lead to unintended sleep and disorientation. I woke up last night just before nine, unsure of whether I had slept all night in front of the television. The closing moments of Law & Order: SVU were on the TV when I opened my eyes. By the time I had recovered enough mental presence to understand my surroundings, Dateline had begun. I had started watching television at 5:30, when I decided to watch the Nightly News with Lester Holt. I used to watch that news program with regularity, switching at six to the PBS Newshour. But not last night. Somewhere between Lester Holt and Judy Woodruff, I fell asleep, catching roughly three hours of unintended sleep without changing the channel. That’s what can happen when one starts drinking wine at three in the afternoon, pacing oneself to correspond to games of Words with Friends.  It’s exceedingly rare for me to have anything alcoholic quite that early, but it just seemed like the thing to do yesterday.

Between the time I had my first glass of wine and the time I fell asleep, I made an early dinner. My neighbors had gone to Little Rock yesterday and generously dropped off a few bags of frozen dinners just before three. Perfect timing. I made an early dinner of Trader Joe‘s chicken & fried rice before I sat down to watch Lester Holt. Sometime between three and 5:30, I consumed enough wine to anesthetize me. My empty bowl of chicken and fried rice, which I had flavored with sambal oleek and soy sauce, was next to me on the love seat when I awoke just before nine.

It is pointless to try to go to bed immediately after arising from a lengthy alcohol-induced nap. But one’s disorientation and general displeasure with oneself at having over-indulged is not suited for much else. I turned off the television upon waking and had no interest in turning it back on, nor was I interested in surfing news sites on the internet or doing anything else, for that matter. So I sat and stewed for a while. I considered emptying the dishwasher of clean dishes, but opted to delay that until the morning. And I considered calling a friend in Fort Smith, but I generally avoid calling anyone after eight so I opted not to do that. Instead, made a gin & tonic. I should have known that was a waste of decent gin and tolerable tonic. I drank a few sips of it before realizing a gin & tonic after a three hour wine-induced nap tastes awful. I hated disposing of a perfectly good drink down the drain, but gin & tonic over ice does not keep well so I discarded the newly-made drink. And I switched to Diet Coke, once a favorite of mine but something I rarely buy these days. It was good. Very good. Much better than wine or gin & tonic, at least at that hour.

I had a thousand things on my mind yesterday afternoon and last night, but I was able to hide them from myself for long enough to go to sleep after my non-alcoholic refreshment. I was not able to keep them hidden all night, though. I awoke at three to pee. Getting back to sleep took a very long time. In fact, I was almost sure there was no point in staying in bed but, in what seemed like the blink of an eye, the clock suddenly displayed 5:00. Somewhere between three and five, I must have gone to sleep. A few minutes after five, I got up for the day.

As I type this, the dishwasher remains full and the chicken & fried rice dinner dishes remain in the sink. Unless my discipline fails me, both of those situations will be handled forthwith. But not until after I’ve finished exercising my fingers and finished at least my first cup of coffee.


Cinnamon incense has a pleasant aroma. So does opium incense. As do several other uniquely odoriferous incense choices. But I find that I prefer patchouli and sandalwood, the more traditional scents I once associated with head shops (but, to be clear, I never frequented head shops).  Before I buy more of the traditional stuff, though, I have a rather enormous number of cones of other scents to go through. Twelve scents, I think, each of which has six or twelve cones. My house will smell a little like an Indian grocery store for a while.


A friend came by for a while yesterday morning, bearing a plate of keto-friendly foods; stuffed jalapeños, cheese crisps, thick bacon, and more. Though I had eaten breakfast earlier, I was more than ready for the late-morning infusion of energy. It constituted my lunch. The foods were the sorts of things I would happily eat every day, but the amount of time required to make them would strain my patience and put my limited discipline to a revealing test. While we ate, we touched on memories of reading Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. The title of the book is from Exodus 2:22 of the King James Version of the Bible: “And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.” It has been almost fifty years since I read that book; my friend and I will read it again and compare notes. I think I may try to find the original unedited version, which his widow arranged to have published in 1991. Heinlein is said to have preferred his original to the heavily edited version we read.  The book came up during a conversation about friends, friendship, and my recollection of the deep friendships described by the term water brothers in Heinlein’s book.


This blog has evolved over time. Originally, I think it was more of a place for me to store short stories and snippets of fiction I thought I might use in longer pieces. Lately, especially, it has become more of a journal than anything else. In the intervening years, it was a combination of fiction, philosophy, journal, and platform. I suppose it remains a hybrid of sorts; not enough of any one thing to hold anyone’s interest for long. I sometimes think it represents a raw display of a jumbled, jangled, mind released from its skull cage; spilled onto the screens of a dozen unfortunate readers. But, then, as I go back and read what was on my mind five years ago or three months ago or day before yesterday, it seems to me to be my personal treasure of memories. It reminds me that I can think deeply about things and that I can question my own thoughts and beliefs and motives. It is, in some respects, my lifeline to the world. It sometimes is my only connection to the universe outside my windows. Why would I write this paragraph? Simply to record a thought. To give myself a chance, later in life, to remember what I was thinking. There’s no guarantee that there will be a time “later in life,” of course, but if there is, I want to have something to remind me how life was “back then.”


If I could get an injection that would fill me with all the knowledge of humankind …physics, philosophies, science, carpentry, medicine, forestry, road-building, printing, everything…but getting that knowledge would be paid for by limiting my life to one more year from today, would I take the injection? That would have been a reluctant “no” a few months ago, but today I would lean heavily toward “yes.”  Emotional ties can be far stronger than a desire for knowledge. Knowledge is like attractive thin rope, while emotional bonds are more like tempered steel chains. But that attractive thin rope can be braided into something stronger. So maybe I would not just lean toward “yes” but be lashed to “yes” like a captain to a ship’s mast in the aftermath of a mutiny.



About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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One Response to Early Wine

  1. Day Drinker Extraordinaire says:

    Okay, I have a few comments here, good sir. First off, 3pm is a bit late to start, wouldn’t you say? I mean, how many three-beer lunches did we have at the Saucer back in the day? I WILL say that it WAS always very tempting to go home and take a nap after one of those days, and it is even more so now, so I understand where you’re coming from… With regard to the G&T, you should have just strained the glass, thrown out the ice and stored the gin and tonic water in the fridge. Would have been just fine for you to come back to at a later date… Perhaps I’m just too frugal!!! My money’s on something else, but that’ll do for now, pig. Lastly, would that knowledge include knowing all of the things, perverse or otherwise, that every other person has done in their lives? If so, I would counsel against getting the shot. Just saying…

    Be well in this cold winter of our discontent, good sir…

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