Shut Off

Yesterday’s late-ish breakfast consisted of a monstrous burrito, one for each of us, at Taqueria Queretaro, a larger-than-average taqueria in Bryan, Arkansas (where Benton ends and Bryan begins remains a mystery to me). After picking up my newly-repaired car from Campbell Collision, we were on our way to Speakeasy for breakfast at my IC’s recommendation. But, just as we turned into the parking lot for Speakeasy, I noticed Taqueria Queretaro, a place I’d visited on more than one occasion in years gone by. I suppose it was my plaintive whine that convinced my IC to direct me to TQ instead of the original destination. Whatever the reason, both of us were delighted with the choice. Not only is the food exquisite, the place is clean and the staff is pleasant and helpful. TQ is not a place for table service; orders are placed in front of warming platforms for the taco/ burrito fillings. There, all the options were explained to us by a very nice young woman whose accent made it a bit difficult for us to understand her; but she happily slowed the rate of her speech and explained them to us again. She called our orders to her colleague in the kitchen, behind her, who came out with huge, freshly-heated flour tortillas and packed them with our requested fillings. After we paid, we took our food to our table and enjoyed food that made us glad to be alive. Ah, yes!

The rest of the day was devoted to mostly-failed attempts to buy things on our list; no fans, no lights, no faucets. We decided we need to approach those purchases with more information and, perhaps, some professional advice. But we did buy a mailbox and post, which we hope my handyman will install sometime late this week. And my IC later in the day ordered a deck box. So we successfully spend money on items that we both need and want.

Before everything changed (causing us to plan to go shopping yesterday), we had planned to drive up to Fort Smith to look at a house that, after seeing photos online, we both fell in love with. However, everything changed when the real estate agent we called poo-pooed the idea; she learned we had not yet taken the step of getting pre-qualified or pre-approved. Apparently, in today’s real estate market, an intense interest is not enough; to view a house that is for sale, one almost has to have cash in hand or a mortgage company letter promising its delivery. It may have been the agent, who thought an unmarried couple (boyfriend and girlfriend) were not worth her time. The mid-century modern house conjures images of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, expanded and modernized for the late 20th century and beyond. Would we have bought the house, had we been able to see it? Who knows. Probably not. We aren’t even certain we want to move. We just want some lifestyle adjustments. We may find them without wrenching us from our home and without leaving our HSV friends behind us. We shall see.


Today, if all goes according to plan, a new mini-split will be installed to heat and cool the room I call “Sky Room,” the all-windows room attached to the master bedroom. That will make the Sky Room livable for all seasons and will give me a new office, where I can write while gazing at the forest and the pastures below and in the distance. I may have to upgrade the WiFi network so my internet connectivity is more reliable in that room, but it’s worth it. I’ve wanted that room to be more livable since moving to this house. The next step may be to replace all the windows in the room, which would make it an even more delightful place.


If we learn nothing else from the recent enactment of laws restricting women’s rights to controlling their own bodies—and from the Supreme Court’s complicity in taking away those rights—it must be that progressive and restrictive social and cultural norms spin through humanity like recurrent, recycled waves. Back and forth, back and forth, progress is made and then pulled back into the dark ages by people eager to live according to ancient simplistic and over-simplified religious dogma. I don’t know if there’s to be done to prevent the cycles; anything that can make permanent the progress that was made and is now under fierce attack. It’s heart-breaking. Only by incinerating the anachronistic views of people who worship at the altar of deep conservatism might we make permanent progress. But how do we incinerate those views? Who knows? I don’t. It’s just a matter of fighting again. And again. And again. And again. And again. Will either side ever grow weary of the battles? Again, who knows?


I am tired. Tired to the bone. More than tired. Exhausted. Utterly, completely, thoroughly exhausted. It’s not sleep I need. At least not only sleep. It’s rest. Something to put my racing mind at ease. Mental comfort. That’s it. A long-term pause from thinking about “what if” and all its iterations. But how do you get there? How do you turn off the constant flow of electric energy? Sleep doesn’t do it; dreams and nightmares and their cousins interrupt sleep. Resting on the couch doesn’t do it; thoughts creep in like home invaders carrying axes. The closest thing to it seems to be mindlessly watching television. But even that is temporary and the subjects of the programs do not lend themselves to serenity. I truly feel wiped out, crushed under the inexorable wheels of time. Today will not provide any respite. As much as I want the mini-split, I wish I could escape from its installation. I wish I could spend the day and the next four behind it in a dark, utterly quiet room, sitting on a soft chair or relaxing on a soft bed. No noise, no light, no sensations of any kind. I wonder whether that would cause me to go crazy. Or to just shut off the systems that give me life. I think I’ve read that the withdrawal of stimuli leads to death. Interesting; but no danger of that happening. There is no way to cut off the stimuli.



About John Swinburn

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