I’m nostalgic for a future that will never be.

~ Rommel Wood, producer, Ask Me Another ~

Rommel Wood’s comment about what he’ll miss about the radio game show he produced echoes some of my emotions about the show, though I was not not even remotely as close to it as he. I learned this morning, while perusing the NPR website, that Ask Me Another, one of those odd weekend NPR game shows I liked to listen to on weekends while driving, is ending. I feel like I’ve let a good friend down by not being there when I should have been. I listened to the show only occasionally. I never put it on my calendar, never made a point of listening to every episode. I missed most of the 1,700 games Ophira Eisenberg hosted during the show’s nine years on the air. But I enjoyed every one I heard. Even though the show sometimes was utterly silly, it often made me smile or laugh out loud. Listening to Ophira’s banter with the ‘house musician,’ Jonathan Coulton, I thought “these are people I would enjoy spending time with.” And, of course, I did spend time with them. We just never met, nor did we ever communicate with one another. I just drank in their camaraderie and their unshakably good moods. Their laughter often made my weekends more fun. Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi lyrics are so true: “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”


I do not have clothes suited to the place I live. That is, a place where the population is largely elderly and the volume of the newspaper’s obituaries sometimes edges out timely stories that have more lasting timelines. I have no “funeral clothes.” I’ve not owned a suit since I moved here, seven and one-half years ago. Even my more muted sports jackets—the one or two left—that could be paired with dark slacks to mimic “funeral clothes” are no longer available to me. Apparently, they shrank while hanging in the closet, along with those dark slacks. And my dress shirts, the ones that could be worn with ties, no longer button around the neck. It’s the same damn problem; the air in the closet causes shrinkage. If I were to attend a funeral, I would have to rent or buy something. I doubt rentals are available for anything but tuxedos (probably inappropriate for funerals), so I’d have to buy a suit. And it would need considerable alterations, as my suits always do. Clothes have never been designed to fit my body. Or my body has never been sculpted to it inside off-the-rack clothes. I’m a bespoke man; I require clothes produced exclusively for the shape of my body. All of which argues for casual funerals or, better still, no funerals at all but, instead, casual celebrations of life. Even better, people who warrant my attention, appreciation, love, and respect should not be permitted to die. Problem solved.


After church today, I may work at organizing the garage. Or I may decide to treat today as a vacation day or a holiday or a time dedicated to relaxation. Not just another do-nothing day, but a day of enforced leisure; several hours dedicated to extremely casual recreation. We’ll see. On the one hand, I want to get the garage situated so that a car (preferably two) will fit. On the other, I am getting enormously tired of having my days dictated by an ever-delayed since of obligation to “get things done.” Yeah, yeah, I need to get things done. But it will ever be so; so, maybe the time is right to say “screw it, I’ll do whatever I feel like doing, instead.” Not that the attitude is new, of course. But the dedication to it is not extremely common. We’ll see. We always do.


I shipped three packages to three friends yesterday. Each package contains cans of two different beers, the same in each package, that will provide conversational fuel for a Thursday evening video chat. My friends and I have done this a few times before and have agreed we want to continue doing it once a month or so. The cost of this little exercise is rather high, but worth the expense. Each of us is obliged to host the video chat and provide the beer, on a rotating basis. So, once every four months each of us buys the beer, ships it, and hosts the call. The cost for beer varies dramatically (I’m buying two six-packs so I can assemble packages of two different beers each of the four of us; about $19). And shipping runs somewhere around $40. Plus boxes and bubble wrap and such. About $70 for me for each hosting period. It’s probably cheaper than golf, though I don’t know what golf costs. The investment in casual conversation over beer for four guys located in four states (Arkansas, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Iowa) is an investment in friendship and in ourselves. The fact that shipping beer is, as far as I know, immoral and against the laws of man and Nature is no deterrent. Rules sometimes are meant to be broken. When the other guys host, I get to taste some extraordinary beers. When I host, they get to taste some good beers and some not-so-good. We try to distribute the output of different craft breweries with each gathering. So, the secret is out. The other guys have access to an app that enables them to purchase beers from all over the country. Arkansas, with its antiquated liquor laws (i.e., its religious zealotry disguised as civilization) won’t allow me to participate in the app. Given what I know about Texas of late, I’d be willing to bet the same it true there. I’m rambling. I’ll stop.


I realized while trying to decide what to write next that I no longer enjoy writing this blog the way I once did. It has become an obligation instead of an outlet. Instead of letting my philosophical musings flow through my fingers, I’ve been working to produce “content.” That’s not why I write; I write to think and to wonder and to imagine and to hope and to express emotions I can’t full express otherwise. But that has taken a back seat in the recent and not-so-recent past. So I have to think about what I’m doing here. I may decide to close this down (not really…just stop adding content). Maybe this sensation will pass. But if it doesn’t, I’ll find another outlet. I won’t kill the blog, I just may not write in it so religiously. I’m tired of being unable to do more than whine about the challenges of life. I need a break from myself, I think. Or I may just ignore everything I just wrote and keep spilling shit into the internet.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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