Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Hiatus of Hiatuses

Today, with all the free time I have, I plan to celebrate, to whoop it up big with a celebration of my hiatus. With the end of another month (June) and the beginning of another month (July), it seems a fitting time to get excited.

All through June [Cheers] I insisted on maintaining my hiatus, despite some temptations [Boos] to terminate it early. But thankfully, as month after month drags by, the temptations have become lessened and my resolve has been steeled and reinforced. [Cheers].

(From here on I will leave out the cheers, boos, and other expressions of my favor or disfavor. But you may imagine them along the way. Anything that is pro-hiatus will be something to cheer. Any enemy of the site, attitude, or factor opposing my hiatus will be something to boo. But for the most part, I'm going to keep it positive, not allowing those sad voices of the past drown out the joy I feel over what really could be called The Hiatus of Hiatuses. [Cheers].)

I like that ... The Hiatus of Hiatuses. But it's such a great descriptor and such a great title, maybe I ought to save it for a more auspicious day, like July 4 or Christmas. No, I'll step out today. This will be the auspicious day to celebrate my hiatus as The Hiatus of Hiatuses.

Look, who's got a better one? No one that I've seen. I think it's official by now, that my blog has the most consecutive posts on the author's hiatus. And certainly, by far, the most thoughtful, heartfelt, and varied. For I not only took a hiatus -- anyone can do that -- but I put my heart on the line for it, I've worn it on my sleeve, and now I'm staking a claim. I heard there's another site that's done the same thing. But I heard that all their posts are robot-generated. Such worthless things as "Day 36 of My Hiatus," with a robot-generated paragraph of gibberish following. I would put my heartfelt thoughts up against an ignorant robot any day! [Cheers].

So how did I get this far? That's a great question. When I started the hiatus, back in April I think it was, I had it projected out as essentially a 15-day thing, two weeks tops. Someday if I ever get back to work, I'll find the original file and set it forth as a part of the archives that the general public can access. I saw it one day and was thinking, My Lord, I had no idea. I was a little naive. Because little did I know, I would shoot past two weeks and leave my original plans well in the dust.

I don't entirely know how I did it, to be honest, except Grandma always gave me during my upbringing an attitude of sticktoittiveness. (My spell check says that's not a word. Isn't it a zigziglarism?, which my spell check also says isn't a word. But hey, I can't be bogged down by the spellchecker. The spellchecker is the equivalent of a robot, an automated device just like the guy uses on the other hiatus site, and, who knows, maybe he's up to "Day 37 of My Hiatus" by now! [Guffaws]. Yeah, when you've got a robot, it's no problem; you program it, it spits out your gibberish, and you're lounging on a beach somewhere.)

My time is up. I post to one of those egg timers, and when the sands run out, that's it.

Just let me sneak this in. Celebrate with me. Wherever you are, lift a glass or coffee cup to my achievement, and stay with me to celebrate -- who knows how many more days -- The One And Only Hiatus Of Hiatuses.

[Cheers drowning me out, then trailing off, as a lone figure pulls a mantle over his face and leaves the crowded hall, looking back on the lights of the building, then ahead to the rippling sea. Hat tip to Sinclair Lewis.]

Monday, June 29, 2009

Billy Mays Dies During My Hiatus

I know I just said a few days ago that I'm not concerned with celebrity deaths:

Up here, on this higher plane, I'm not worried, bothered, or disturbed by the day to day affairs of the world. This would include all concerns about whether famous people are sick, whether they've died, or what their legacy is.

But that was before Billy Mays died, which is something I need to comment on. For you see, Billy Mays was a sworn enemy of this blog. But it was a friendly thing, and we never meant to suggest that we actually disliked him in any way. It just was unpleasant seeing him on TV is all, and hearing all that shouting.

Billy Mays was mentioned a few times on this blog, the first time going all the way back to July 19, 2008, in a revealing post on my problem with rage. Because then, as now, I have lots of rage. In that revealing post, I said:

And beyond that, I have TV rage. Grandma rage. Internet rage. Chatroom rage. If I see couples dating rage. Rage at Billy Mays. Printer cartridge rage. Pipes leaking rage. Freezer burn rage. Lake algae rage. Greasy pepperoni rage. Garage sale dickering rage. Dead batteries rage. Pimple rage. Body odor rage.

Very revealing, isn't it? It looks like almost everything enrages me, and that's true. Including Billy Mays. But now that he's passed on, I want to make it clear that I was just having a little fun at his expense. Because he was just someone everyone hated to see on TV. In fact I couldn't get the remote fast enough. But now that he's passed on, really it was all in fun.

Next, on March 22, 2009, I mentioned Billy Mays, in the context of how worthless glory is. I went into the glory that a person can get from being in news articles, being on TV, and from receiving the key to the city from the mayor. Specifically on the glory that comes from being on TV, I said:

TV appearances are worthless, because now every pervert and thief knows your name, face, and where you live. And wait five minutes and you're keeping company with Billy Mays selling orange flavored soap.

I still can't see the glory in being on TV. And for the same reasons. Certainly you don't want every pervert and thief knowing your name, face, and where you live. Then I said that about Billy Mays, which, now that he's passed away, I should say was said all in fun. The fact that he sold orange flavored soap didn't affect a person's glory of being on TV all that much, since there really isn't any glory to it in the first place. Because if it isn't Billy Mays piping up with a sales pitch, it'll be some other guy. So it was all in good fun...

Then my last mention of him (before today) was just the other day, June 24, 2009, in an already classic post on "The Deadliest Hiatus," in which I skewered the show "The Deadliest Catch" (all in good fun), and had this to say, which included a reference to Billy Mays:

At this point the show went to a commercial and I lost interest. Billy Mays came on selling some kind of orange scented chamois so I went outside to cut weeds.

The implication was I would rather go outside and cut weeds than sit through a commercial with Billy Mays selling orange scented chamois, even if it meant that I would miss the "Deadliest Catch" crew bringing in the Great White Whale. And that's true. But now that he's passed on, let me say I was saying all that with tongue firmly in cheek ... firmly.

Also in that post (June 24), I mentioned him again, as I related the theme of "The Deadliest Catch" to my ongoing hiatus:

But looking back on the show, sometimes that's exactly how I feel about my hiatus. All is calm for a while. A few friends, like Charlie the Tuna and the Old Man and the Sea might show up and say hi. The tension is broken. I'm feeling pretty good about my time off. Then suddenly, as if from the depths of hell itself, I'm carried right into the gaping maw of the Great White Whale, or, worse, the gaping maw of Billy Mays -- such tension -- and I don't know what to do. It threatens my very existence.

That one comes across as fairly mean sounding, comparing the gaping maw of the Great White Whale to the gaping maw of Billy Mays, and even saying his maw is worse than the whale's. But seriously, I meant it only in fun. I was just ribbing Billy in a friendly way.

Yes, Billy Mays was a sworn enemy of this blog. But we truly treasured the friendly rivalry, and that's all it was. He was a spokesperson for some kind of orange cleaning product and needed to shout about it to catch our attention. Because whatever he was selling, we weren't buying. But we always hoped the best for him, especially now that we see how terribly things turned out.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Stagnating In Hiatus

Maybe there's something to be said for working like a dog. For me it might be the thing to do.

A hiatus is nice for a while, but after a while, like now, I feel like I'm stagnating. Something stagnates when it just sits around for a while without any kind of flow, like a pond or Coke in a glass. It loses its fizz. It goes flat. All the fish come to the top and are gasping for air.

Grandma used to tell us kids not to go in that pond because it was stagnant. Then we'd go in anyway, kicking, playing, splashing each other. Somebody would get an open sore and be sidelined for a month, because bacteria apparently like these bacteria traps. Yet they're always trying to escape, like into someone's open sore, so whether they like it or not is an open question.

I myself was always fairly lucky. Either I didn't have an open sore or I just had a natural immunity to flat Coke, I was barely ever sick and also usually felt refreshed. But still, given a choice, I would've preferred a nice, pristine pond and an ice cold Coke. I feel for nature -- that's part of it -- so if I see fish gasping for air, I know that can't be good.

But now, I guess those years of avoiding stagnation are coming back to get me in full force. I wanted this time off to do whatever, just take it easy, get rid of some of my duties, responsibilities, and work. And it's been a blessing for much of it, but there have been plenty of times I've felt down, at odds with myself, flat, no fizz, and stagnant. Those times tend to pass, but then they're right back the next day. At least when I was working like a dog I was still more or less content.

What to do about it, I don't know. I was thinking about moving into full retirement, but I'm not so sure now. And I hate to leave my hiatus at this point, because I have so much time invested in it, it'd be a shame to have such a great streak going and to lose it without knowing how much longer it would've lasted.

I know everything comes to an end. And perhaps it is better to end things that have become unpleasant sooner rather than later. Since it's going to happen anyway! Alternate realities can be fun as well.

We don't swim in the old pond anymore. We've grown up and never make it out there anymore. The land was sold anyway. So that came to an end. And any Cokes that have gone flat, of course someone's emptied them out by now. And whatever fish there were gasping for air, they're dead.

As for now I'm still on hiatus. But we shall see.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cosmic Mind On Hiatus

I've come down, reluctantly, from the higher planes. Of course anytime you start messing around with the file cabinets and ways of heaven, someone gets the word and you're expelled.

It's a hard fall, but in my case it was made much easier by the fact that I completely expected it. That's the main thing, let's say if you're a fallen angel: Get a clue. Expect it that you're not going to prevail. Get tossed down and be happy. I know I am.

Of course someone up there's always looking. They're a paranoid bunch. But there's a lot for them to keep track of. That's when you slip back in and have another heyday. Just blend in as best as you can and enjoy it while it lasts. Then go willingly with a laugh and it's not so bad.

Dwelling on a higher plane, as I have been doing the last couple days, thanks to the time off this hiatus has given me, I've checked out some of the various mysteries, riddles, and conundrums of the cosmic mind at play. It's very wild.

Not that I'm personally immersed, mind you. I've gotten just the edge of a single molecule of one big toenail wet. Intuition says none of this can be snatched, and my normal way is that of an old lady at a rummage sale. But existence at those levels is like a wilting violet. It withdraws 100% of the time, receding some completely that it's not even worth talking about. Like I said, you get tossed out.

Fasting doesn't help. Nor any kind of asceticism. Eat all the pork you want. The thing is to be mindful, attentive, while living and enjoying your normal life. There's no essence that needs to be conserved to get you closer. It's in the files! I saw it!

The best way to live is on hiatus.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Higher Hiatus

Being on hiatus, if not quite yet permanent retirement, I find that I dwell on a higher plane than this world.

Up here, on this higher plane, I'm not worried, bothered, or disturbed by the day to day affairs of the world. This would include all concerns about whether famous people are sick, whether they've died, or what their legacy is. It's not my mission, while on hiatus, to strew flowers in their paths, to lionize them, or really even to care all that much.

On the higher plane, up here, for me it's a matter of taking time off, of being unconcerned about the spinning and shifting of the earth, whether we're speaking globally, as of tectonic plates, or locally, as in the affairs of every celebrity who ever hit it big, then was stricken and perhaps surprised by mortality.

I'm not mentioning names, because up here, on this higher plane, such things are almost meaningless. A higher plane gives you a terrific perspective. I can look down and see everyone scurrying along like rats, or, smaller yet, ants. It's quite a sight! Someone dies, then someone else. I glance down and see it, then I may turn away. Or I glance down and see it, then I look to see the crowds gathered. Then I sit back in a chair and gently tap my fingers together, shaking my head.

The biggest thing I wonder about is how high can I go? Because I'm way up here now. Looking down. If I go higher I don't know what might happen. Someone dies, I might see the powers of the heavens pulling their 3 x 5 card and checking it. For them, I'm imagining, there's no shaking of the head, not even a thought of seeing any of this philosophically. For them it's simply another day on the job. A few rats, ants, and people died. The cards are pulled, they're already forgotten.

But going higher yet -- this is almost as high as a person can possibly go, I'm guessing -- there are things up here that man may not speak. But I believe I can hint around about it. Up here, in the highest place you can possibly go, everyone is remembered. Every ant, rat, and person. Quite a thing, huh?

Yesterday I had an ant on my desk, oblivious to me sitting there. From a higher plane, I observed his ability to run very fast. And I could see ahead to what his likely path and destination would be. Then he was on my computer mouse. Then down and across behind the keyboard. Now over here on the left side. I thought I should probably catch him and release him outside, because what if he is a she, and she's looking for a maternity ward? There was the tiniest little puddle over by my mouse, so possibly her water broke.

It being a nice day out, I felt I could safely catch and release her without any injury to her young. But she was way too fast and small for me. Dodging under papers, around books, wires, other junk, and finally over the back of the desk, where it's too dark and hard to get to. So I let her go.

Perspective. It's very much a function of life. And with a hiatus, I've got it good! I'm way up here. So that whether it's you -- or the latest famous person to experience passing into the heavens -- I'm observing, watching, scouring the countryside for your slightest movement and purpose.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hiatus By The Numbers

There's no perfect hiatus, it's starting to seem. It's all very irregular. It could very well be one of those zero sum games, like where you have a whole column of numbers but at the bottom line they're all canceled out.

Just saying I have joy one day and sadness the second at this point is to repeat myself endlessly. And it's like checking your oil every five minutes; you can chart it exactly but it's hard to enjoy the trip. For me, what I should do is just accept it as an axiom that additions and subtractions are the normal arc of life and quit worrying about it.

But you'd think that being on hiatus, having all this time off, would multiply my happiness quotient, and that whatever fractional division there normally is in the give and take would see some borrowing from the bad and some addition to the good's column. Why can't I come out on the plus side? I've checked my work and can easily calculate how things ought to come out.

I try to reconcile myself with comparisons, such as a baseball player can be hitting .200 and still be considered an asset to the team. Which, at least in that area of his game, is failing 80% of the time (I know there are other factors at play). Right now, for me, it's at least half and half, and that's not really such a bad average. But the way I figure, and I've been through this a number of times, is that having extra time off should more generally be a plus, yet somehow my mind is still borrowing trouble and that's a problem I can't solve.

At this point, it's six of one and half a dozen of the other as to what to do. No matter how it adds up, everyday has this common denominator, that I'm the product of my makeup, equal to what I've become, a composite, a divergent sequence. So I must learn to reckon with the pluses and minuses, or I just might put a zero vector to my circle and become a negative number.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Deadliest Hiatus

Maybe you've seen the popular show "The Deadliest Catch." You probably have since it's the only thing on TV. We have 100 channels and nothing but this one show.

As is well known, the various "Deadliest Catch" crews take their boats and weapons out every year, for eight months of the year, and compete to see who can bring in the Great White Whale. It's out there lurking somewhere, and you never know when his spout may appear and his huge, hulking form may capsize one of the boats and devour the crew. He's evil, rotten to his rotten core, a very very bad whale, really a monster.

One day we had the exciting footage of him finally taking the bait. A gigantic hook the size of a couch was tied to an enormous rope as thick as a maple tree, then strung on a huge pulley with a hydraulics system, baited with the shark from Jaws. It was quite tense on the boat, to say the least, as the sea became very calm, as still as death, no breathing, no motion at all. There wasn't a ripple on the water for 4,000 miles. The boat was literally dead in the water. The only movement was by one of the very nervous crew, a single guy sitting over by the door who scratched his nose.

Then suddenly, as if from the depths of hell itself! ... They heard a light tapping at the hull. Just a light tapping. Tap, tap, tap. Charlie the Tuna was just stopping by to say hello. He has good taste, so he loves the show. Then as soon as he'd come, he left. That broke some of the tension and the guys laughed. There was a great sense of relief.

When ... suddenly, again as if from the depths of hell itself! ... They heard what sounded like a sloshing of the water ... What could it be? One of the crew looked overboard and it was the Old Man from "Old Man and the Sea," with a big fish strapped to the side of his boat. Check that, it was by now half fish, half skeleton, and he had a fork and was presently eating. He called up to the captain who sent down a greeting ... and a warning: If you want to live to be an Older Man, you better get a'movin'! So he made quickly for the horizon, with a putt putt motor and a zigzagging path. Again, the tension was relieved, but it would not be for long...

Because suddenly, and for the final time, as if from the depths of hell itself! ... the Great White Whale had taken the bait! They saw him leap into the air in all of his righteous fury. His crashing back to the sea raised a wave so high the guy in the crow's nest was able to grab a handful of sand from the ocean's floor. Up and down, the mighty beast soared and crashed back again. He was the size of the Empire State Building if he was an inch! The boat was a bobber in comparison, the crew like matchstick men.

At this point the show went to a commercial and I lost interest. Billy Mays came on selling some kind of orange scented chamois so I went outside to cut weeds.

But looking back on the show, sometimes that's exactly how I feel about my hiatus. All is calm for a while. A few friends, like Charlie the Tuna and the Old Man and the Sea might show up and say hi. The tension is broken. I'm feeling pretty good about my time off. Then suddenly, as if from the depths of hell itself, I'm carried right into the gaping maw of the Great White Whale, or, worse, the gaping maw of Billy Mays -- such tension -- and I don't know what to do. It threatens my very existence.

So I need to do something, anything, like go outside and cut weeds. It makes me feel useful. One of these days I'm going to find him, the Great White Weed! And when I do, oh! that'll be something!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Hiatus Is Strange

I'm on hiatus. I hope that's no secret.

Sometimes it's happy, sometimes it's sad. I never really know what to make of it. I've been thinking maybe I should've never gone on hiatus, because for quite a lot of it that's been all I can think of. Guarding my hiatus, keeping it real, making the most of it, trying to commemorate it in tangible ways so that someday I'll be able to look back on it more vividly.

You can tell it's really turned my world upside down. Before, I was just a normal workaday kind of guy. I came up with projects, or projects were given to me. I worked with the responsibilities that fall to the lives of most people. I tended the hours of the day, scheduling and accomplishing things. I tried to fit in some leisure time and treasured it.

I got involved in this blog, which took off in ways I didn't imagine. It attracted a lot of readers there for a while, with quite a few of them being very hungry for every scrap or morsel of wisdom and truth I was able to serve up. At first that was gratifying; I thought they were half kidding, to be honest with you, but I didn't let on; if it all turned out to be a joke, I thought, the joke would ultimately be on them. And if I had to I could show you from my private diaries where I noted some of my skepticism about the readers' sincerity.

Now looking back, it's apparent they weren't joking, because the interest in the blog became an interest in me personally, leading to me launching the private newsletter that was very popular, and then we had some real life visits, including highlights like tours of the half acre and house, meetings at the bedside of Grandma, going through the family photo albums, viewing my baptism certificate and my first clippings of hair as a baby, and on and on. The visits started off normal enough, but then they were camping on the half acre, seeking personal favors, and, in one rather unfortunate incident, with Garrett Al, the personal favors went more toward the favors of the flesh, if you know what I mean. Guns and knives were involved and finally the police subdued and took him away.

I don't know what exactly the breaking point was. But in there somewhere, in the stress of keeping it all going, I decided I'd finally had enough, and I called for this present hiatus.

But a hiatus is a very strange thing. It's almost like another of these artificial friends seeking personal favors! I hate to say it, but it's true. It's always there with its little hand out. It's staring at me like What are you going to do for me next? On the worst days, a hiatus is like school probation, study hall, or expulsion. It's like a ball and chain. It's like the difference between wrestling and rasslin'. You signed up for a pleasant minuet with a nun and you got kicked in the crotch by Big Bad Mama from the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling (sic).

It's always strange when you have something you think you really love, then it turns out to have a hidden side, a terrible, devouring side. Like five minutes of pleasure, then a lifetime with an STD.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Pressure Of A Good Hiatus

Just before I came to my computer, here in Hiatus Central, I made the mistake of listening to the Billy Joel song, "Pressure." And it really reminded me of a lot of things.

It reminded me of the pressure I was experiencing in the heyday of this blog, the get-togethers, the newsletters. I felt like producing in volume in those days -- and of course it was never enough for the voracious readers and those who made it their business to hang around me. I was suffering some major out of pocket expenses for refreshments and some accommodations, but of course this was never enough, because people always have different preferences than what you just happen to give them. It's the old saying come to life, that no good deed goes unpunished.

Plus, listening to that song, brought to mind the mounting pressure I'm feeling even now that I'm on hiatus, to really make it count. It's like going on vacation but not enjoying yourself (sometime), like if you have a set list of places you need to go and people you need to see. If you have a lot of far flung relatives, they better never hear you were within 100 miles and didn't stop! It's that kind of pressure. And in addition, maybe at a smaller scale, there's the pressure of getting just the right souvenir of your visit, which usually is easily dealt with, since the best souvenir is either a commemorative plate or coin.

I have pressure today, because I know the lawn needs mowed, some sticks need picked up out of the yard, and other various domestic duties are barking for a minute of my time. I hear ya!

Pressure is a mental thing. It's a build-up, maybe of brain fluids that have no where to seep out, which means an extra hole in your head is probably precisely what you need. It's like hermetically sealed up there at times, with your thoughts colliding like bumper cars. The little sparks at the ceiling, though, generate enough heat and smoke and accumulate, and having no natural place to vent, bring about that feeling of pressure. I believe this accounts for perspiration on your forehead nine times out of 10.

But still I'm pressing on. I'm hoping to enjoy my hiatus. Some of the sweet days of the last week have gone away, and I feel like a few negative vibes are on the ascendancy. It's a matter of venting somehow, hoping for the best.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Hiatus Keepsake

Going along with "Hiatus on Parade" from a couple days ago could've been and should've been some reference to a keepsake to wear or proudly display. My own preference would be a keepsake to display.

It's long been one of the themes of my life that there ought to be a keepsake for it. Even if it's just a bug in a jar to commemorate the picnic you went on, you need something to show it happened. It could be something as simple as a jar of rainwater, which would be more humane when it comes to bugs. Then if the jar is labeled and put on a shelf, you will know what it means. Somewhere around here -- maybe in the cellar -- there's my first jar of rainwater from over 40 years ago, unless someone threw it out.

Anyway, whose spirit doesn't thrill to the idea of a keepsake, a souvenir, a memento of some historic occasion? When the new president was about to come to office, souvenir dealers were having a field day trying to mark the significance of the event. And while I didn't get any of those souvenirs, I did keep some of the literature, including a rather handsome laminated bookmark (still unused) as a reminder that I alone am not the crazy one.

When I see one of these mementos, like when they're advertised on TV, it gives me a profound chill to see the glint of light off the edges as they're being rotated on display. You see the front and the reverse, the head and the tail, and you know it's necessary to have both. When the artist or sculptor conceives the one, perhaps he or she has conceived all that is possible at that moment. That can be a wrenching experience, not to be able to conceive the reverse (since usually the front is the first to be conceived.) With hard work, diligence, sweating it out, maybe in a sweat lodge, maybe a lot of late nights pacing the floor, drinking coffee way after hours, he or she will conceive of the B side.

Let's say I were to march in a parade. That is, I'm not the Grand Marshall. And I have one of these souvenirs or mementos. I would love to march with it so that it could be displayed to the folks gathered on both sides of the road. They could see it and know it was there. And any who happened to bring a magnifying glass or a jeweler's loupe magnifier, could stop the parade long enough to run up to examine the object. If there happened to be an actual souvenir official there, he or she could also examine my certificate of authenticity and attest to the genuineness of the object, or, in case I didn't have the certificate, could pronounce its authenticity in lieu of more formal certification.

Now, my thought here is of a keepsake to recognize, honor, and commemorate my current hiatus. At this point we don't know how long it will be till it's over, so there can be no finality in dating. But that only makes the preliminary object, struck in the flow of the hiatus, more likely to achieve a high value over time, because it clearly was from the time of the event, with all the aura of the first flush of those days. These are always rarer, especially if they seem to be more or less unconscious of their eventual collectibility, which is very hard to fake, these days especially.

The design of the front I can conceive in my mind's eye. A guy seated, his back to the viewer, and a computer monitor in front of him. Around the top, if it's circular like a coin, the name of the blog. Around the bottom a reference to my hiatus. I might have to go somewhere, to one of those heat hutches, and really sweat it out what the reverse would show. Those are always harder.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My Hiatus Halo

I've never been a big fan of the halo. No, I seriously haven't.

I don't like to see religious artwork where the halos are so pronounced. I don't like halo jokes, like "His halo is rusty" or "Her halo seems to have slipped," etc. I don't like to see wired halos on angel costumes, coming up behind the neck with a vertical piece. There's nothing charming about it. Just go without.

Maybe I'm too literal minded when it comes to religious artwork. I expect that what I'm seeing as the observer here is an angle of what the subjects of the artwork would see in the same setting. And if a guy, one of the apostles, let's say, is standing there with a halo about a foot deep (connected to his head, not just hovering), everyone else would be staring at it. Like, What is that, a big toe nail? It's like a big Easter bonnet of light! C'mon!

Now, they do have smaller more delicate halos. I've seen those. They're a perfect circle up there, like they're made of a piece of fiber optic, then infused with the most delicate fluorescent light bulb imaginable. If the light is not burning as brightly as a typical fluorescent light bulb, like half strength or less, it's much more of a subtle thing and nothing to be overly ashamed of.

If I were saddled with a halo, I'm thinking it'd be like your shadow; you wouldn't be able to outrun it. But since it's obviously detachable, whereas a shadow connects directly to your feet, it seems like you'd be able to run under an underpass with low clearance and knock it off. We really don't have enough animated religious artwork with a guy running under underpasses to know what would happen. It might be that it would dodge and weave and slip down behind just long enough to miss being clunked.

The halo is supposed to represent the intrinsic glory of the subject. It's a cue to the viewer that this person has arrived. There's such worth and quality within the person that it radiates out. Everyone can see that you're beaming, like Madame Curie after a long day at the lab. You've got a very healthy, heavenly glow, like farm animals at Chernobyl. The sun is up in the sky, representing the highest heavenly light. And you're down here on earth, a gleam off the old block.

To that extent, then, I guess I have a halo! I'm beaming as I contemplate the glories of my life, made more lustrous by my blessed hiatus. To have this time off has given me a brand new enlightenment that radiates from me like special effects. The light bulb in the fridge is burnt out, but it doesn't even bother me when I check leftovers.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hiatus On Parade

I'm hoping this will be my year!

Every year the local moguls, do-gooders, and civic clubs choose someone to be the Grand Marshall for the July 4 parade. They go for local folks who have achieved some level of respect in the community, including firefighters, retired sheriffs, a returning military hero, or whoever.

I may not fit perfectly into any of those categories, but I have certain other things going for me. I've lived in this town pretty much all my life. I've kept my nose clean. The weeds on our half acre, I trim them from time to time. And I believe I've shown more average literary ability, representing the community well, the creative writing class I took at the local high school being an inspiration, in the daily conceiving and producing of this blog on the worldwide web.

Right now I'm very down in "friends" and "followers" on the blog, which may be a mitigating factor against my selection -- as though popularity with fawning, needy, anonymous sets of eyes out there is really any major selling point. But still it doesn't look good when they come check out the site and they see this guy seems to be declaiming to an empty room, like in a warehouse, with my words echoing meaninglessly off of big abandoned barrels and cobweb-fraught rafters.

Plus -- and I'm actually very proud of this fact, but I know it will not look good to the superficial Chamber of Commerce member -- since I'm on hiatus and have made much ado about that fact, perhaps that is not a subject that they would think represents literary ability or a goal worthy to be emulated. And being the Grand Marshall usually goes to those heroes and worthies who can also set a moral example for the community, particularly the young. But try it -- just try what I do here everyday -- and see how easy it is! You'll wish you'd simply gone to war!

Anyway, however it works out, I know I would look good sitting on the upper seat of a convertible, a big sash in the appropriate place, from my shoulder down to my waist, waving to the people, pointing to the occasional friend, and passing by in the kind of style that announces I have arrived.

Now we come to the inevitable But then what? ... Yes, then what -- It always comes to that.

I'm halfway through the parade and thinking my Grand Marshall gig is just about up, and they never get the same guy twice.

Three-quarters of the way through, there's barely any crowd left because any normal person who goes to the parade will be there on the first half of the route. Because everyone knows the performers and participants are hot, tired, and cranky by the three-quarters mark and don't feel like waving anymore. And anyone who had candy to throw out is now down to about nothing, meaning the pickings are very slim indeed. Any free popsicles or bottles of cold water are long gone. The horses are hot and tired and without warning might stampede

A few of the floats will have turned off now, being too proud to display before parade route stragglers, known in the business as "The Dregs." What you have after the three-quarters mark are registered sex offenders who aren't allowed up route, or guys just out of jail who are too ashamed to be up route lest they run into curious relatives, or drug dealers looking to score off the worthless and forlorn who populate the last quarter of the route. I'm in this section as Grand Marshall and I'm ashamed to be a part of it. The glory of the first three-quarters is over and finished. The folks up route have already forgotten me.

By the end they're stripping the sign off the convertible, the owner is checking out the place I sat for any accidents I might have made, plus he's mad that I had the slightest bit of dirt on my shoes and now it's on his seat. The sash rental place is there to get their sash back, then they deny me my deposit because of all the criminals standing around on that last stretch. I've got a severe sunburn and have to hoof it home.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Torrential Hiatus

It's been another period of strange, terrible weather, much like that torrential outpouring with lightning and other assorted phenomena a few weeks ago that struck houses in my neighborhood.

When we get such awesome, terrifying, extreme weather, it comes with its inconveniences of course, but for the most part I like it. It depends on what it is. Even I hate the extremes when it comes to the possibility of freezing to death or losing limbs from frostbite or being sucked up into a screaming vortex of wind, rain, and the debris from people's houses.

But, you know, you have to look at it philosophically, you need to take the bad with the good. Plus, if a few people are sucked up now and then, it points out even more clearly the benevolent side of life for the rest of us when it's nice. My advice to those folks is, Quit being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It's better to have the sense that where you are is where you're meant to be. Then you can have a certain calm assurance no matter what the day may bring. That's the way I faced this most recent bout of weather, with a kind of glib cockiness that it would not affect me in any personal way. And I guess it's not too much to say what all this encompasses, that this shield of safety, this penumbra of protection, this guarantee of good extends all the way down to my garbage cans. It's my full expectation that even they won't blow over. And I just looked outside and they're still standing there!

Every time the good comes my way, I take it as vindication for whatever choice I've made theretofore. Now, with my hiatus being such a big deal to so many people, of course I've had moments of self doubt, second guessing, reservation, and qualms. But then something comes along -- like all those houses being destroyed and yet my own garbage cans being unaffected -- and I know that all is well, that the hiatus was destined, is blessed, and shall forever be affirmed.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tips For A Great Hiatus

I remember one of the guidance counselors we had in high school who tried his best to steer kids right but was basically a failure. I don't remember him doing me a bit of good. He wasn't any good at guiding or counseling. He got a good paycheck from the school district, but I'm still waiting for his advice to kick in: Go home and think over your future. OK, I've been home thinking now for close to 40 years! What's next?

It turns out, now that I see it in black and white there, that I used up my future thinking about it. And now I'm a lonely old man, left to look at my depressing visage in the shards of a broken mirror. I could've been a teenage idol. I had good hair, teeth, and skin. Let's say I were to bound up on a stage. I could've waved with all the enthusiasm of a natural born star. But he said performers often face years of struggle and only a meager few make it to the big time. So that was discouraging.

But, hey, I'm not that unhappy with the way things turned out. I'm still here. I still have some hair, some of these teeth are still halfway decent, and this is definitely skin. It's skin toned anyway, appropriate for the race I happen to be. And I'm very proud of my race, since it's what I was born and I had absolutely nothing to do with it. That's the best kind of pride. All in all, I think I did all right. I've had a roof over my head all these years and a bathroom.

And now that I'm on hiatus, I have all the free time in the world. I can get up and do what I want. If I feel like working I do. And if not, hey. The fact is I was overworking there for a while, with all the responsibilities of this blog, plus the newsletter, plus some of the getting together with real life visits. It was like I had a mini empire going there, reminding me that when "friends" and "followers" start clamoring to have their needs fulfilled, there's no end to it. And some of the needs were great. Most of the folks you meet on the internet are voracious. Nothing is good enough but more, more more.

But were I to be a guidance counselor for some of these sad souls, I might recommend, take a hiatus of your own. Just pull back from whatever you're doing and don't do it. Claim your space, stake your claim, and insist on it. Some days you'll feel like giving up and going back to your labors, but resist.

Then when you've got your hiatus cinched up good and tight, continue to be firm: I will not work. I will take time off. Soon you'll find that whoever it was who was making demands on you, they're nowhere to be found anymore. It's just you, stripped to nothing. At that point you'll feel a mixture of sadness and of joy. But the joy will be in the background, very miniscule.

The sadness will come to the fore. You will struggle with it, a titanic struggle. You will think you've hit an iceberg, that you're about to split open, and that you're about to flip up on one end, and go down with just a few bubbles to show for it. Don't worry about it, it's really not that bad. At least you'll realize it wasn't so bad after the joy starts breaking through. Then there's a good balance of joy and sadness, and finally the joy kicks in in full.

At this point I have so much joy that ... [I can't describe it.]

The thing is you will have joy if you stake out a hiatus and follow through on it. Find your own personal space, retreat there, and look to see what all lies out in front of you for the years ahead.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Laughing Hiatus

If laughter is the best medicine, I hope my medicine cabinet is always well stocked. I need to check some of my prescriptions, and maybe tell the doctor I need some funnier pills because I'm not laughing near enough. Plus make sure they're all up to date. I can't be taking old pills, ones whose expiration dates expired when Red Buttons was big.

Laughter is very good medicine and I think I need a fix. There's a house in one of the neighborhoods of my town, somewhere out there. And they say people are coming and going all the time, all hours of the day and night. But they can't shut it down. Some very funny guy must live there, giving the people their laughs. They walk through the door, through a bunch of curtains, past some guys with caps on backwards and their pants slumped low, through a smoky, hazy room, then finally to the room where the guy holds court.

I started off this day laughing at something. And I found it very good medicine indeed. Good medicine is ... you know it's good when ... there's a quality that medicine has ... the doctor knows.

You see a twisted up situation, a human drama or comedy, or a comedian says something that tickles your funny bone, or you see yourself in the mirror and feel like crying, but it hurts too much to cry, so you look again ... I just came from the bathroom ... I was looking at my craggy old face in the mirror, with a few stray hairs coming out of my nose, and the hair on my head looking like I'd spent the last five years in bed ... and I noticed a few blemishes, small ones on my nose ... I see the wrinkles around my eyes getting worse ... There I stand. I could cry but I try to laugh. It's hard to do when it's not that funny. But it's absurd, to look at yourself and worry about it. And I'd rather crack a smile than the mirror. Wouldn't you?

Finally I burst out in laughter, and could picture myself like in an old black and white absurdist movie, with the mirror indeed cracked and the view of myself coming from a dozen assorted, very disturbing angles. Then when I close the medicine cabinet, who's standing there but ... the Devil! Or let me walk that back a bit, the mirror isn't cracked at all and I'm looking at myself dead on in the starkest frame. Finally I pick up a hairbrush, destroy the mirror, there's a piercing scream, and the next thing you know there's a siren.

Did any of that make you laugh? It did me, just a little. Especially the surprise appearance of the Devil. I get sick of thinking in cliches but, you know, any old port. I'd rather think in cliches than not think at all. Although if you didn't think at all, there'd be some benefit in that. One, it'd be like sleeping. You'd wake up 40 years later and say that was a perfect night's sleep, but I seriously need to pee.

My concept today, which I'm not going to get to, thanks to this laughing jag, was the fact that I'm far up in my hiatus citadel, laughing at the world below, all my supposed "friends" and "followers" who have deserted me for taking and prolonging this hiatus. That would have been funny.

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Hiatus - Like It Or Lump It

I will descend from my perch of complete happiness and fulfillment today -- up where the blue skies are -- for a few minutes of housekeeping duties in regards to any lingering malingerers who still have their nose tied up in knots about the personal choice I made concerning the direction of this blog and my life.

I'm so often up in my citadel of happiness these days, absorbing and reflecting the rays of contentment and peace, that I sometimes forget that down here still dwells a whole people perceiving and expressing various needs, who also have become stuck in a certain level of immaturity and have failed to advance beyond to the point that they could take some responsibility for their own happiness and sense of personal well being. I'm up there on a completely different plane, but unfortunately you're still down here, barely risen from the primeval muck, and as far as abilities to rise above, you're not just physically a bottom feeder but also one mentally.

How does this make me feel? Like I said, sometimes I forget. Because my hiatus is paying handsome dividends, which I collect and enjoy ... up there somewhere.

If you can stand back and picture a plain, the earth, and lots of people clawing at each other in the mud out of envy and lust, you'll get a sense of what I see. Now take a look at the wider landscape. There's a mountain rising from the earth. Now pull back and see it in context. Midway up the mountain there's an encircling cloud, very thick, but it doesn't go on forever. For at the top of the cloud it becomes wispy and the mountain from that point stands out in stark majesty. Now zero in on it, focus just slightly down, and you'll see a little citadel there next to a big pole with red blinking lights to warn airplanes. See that? That's where I dwell, far above everyone else. The happy airplanes occasionally drop supplies to me, whatever I order.

And occasionally I get word that all is not well down in Mudland, Clawsville, Lustburg, Envydale, and Sadvale and every slough of depond in between. We want you down here, they seem to say, so we can grasp and claw and pull and make demands. In short, they want me to be as miserable as they are. Which I was, once upon a time. But I have ascended, dear friends. I have gone aloft. I have found the secret for which long I had sought. And I don't see myself giving that up just to go another 10 rounds with the likes of you. To my faithless readership, my former "friends" and "followers," just let me say this as kindly as I possibly can, Get a life.

Your contorted facial features, I don't recognize those anymore (outside a funhouse mirror). Your big pleading sad cow eyes, those aren't signs I respond to now. Your outstretched hands, put together with your big pleading sad cow eyes and your contorted facial features -- including your overactive ooga-looling tongue movements -- it's simply another language to me, the language of desperation that only seeks to take, never to give. It's pathetic and I meet it all with the harshest of disdains. No sympathy. Away! Vamoose!

This hiatus -- you may be sad to hear -- will continue! Now, if I may pry your muddy hands from my doorknob -- thank you -- I need to catch the next plane up.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Hiatus From Scratch

I've just been feeling myself along during this whole hiatus.

I didn't know what to expect when I boldly started it and I don't know what to expect as I courageously continue it. There aren't any paths out here. Of course that makes me a little bit afraid and a whole lot proud to continue on...

I'm not even sure there ever was a hiatus in my family before, at least in the formal sense. I guess I had plenty of relatives who took time off or were just plain lazy. Some of my Missouri kinfolk always had a real lazy look, laying around or leaning back in their chair on the porch. But that was just their normal way of life. Which I'm not saying is true for everyone in the state of Missouri, because it stands to reason there has to be at least one person there somewhere who doesn't mind working.

My family around here was certainly overactive all the time I knew about. The womenfolk, the menfolk, the kidfolk. A bunch of workaholics. They grew up used to the Depression and knowing that if they sat around today the creditors would be taking away the half acre tomorrow. So it was work, work, work. So much work, in fact, that they didn't hear the news the Depression was over till the mid 1970s; they kept right on working, and finally that's what killed Grandpa.

Now leaving basically me and Grandma to enjoy all the fruits of their labors...

So now that I'm on hiatus I'm definitely blazing a trail. Or I would if it didn't take so much effort. All I want to do is sleep, take it easy, take a break, nap, and wait till an animal crawls into the yard and kills itself so I can eat. I seriously might move to Missouri just so people don't look at me funny.

Work is overrated, that's for sure. You figure if these two things are true, that there's no good deed that doesn't go unpunished, and that the Bible doesn't say 'God helps those who help themselves,' then who am I to kick? Take it easy.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Hiatus Wavelength

I've been thinking of things how they literally seem and how they actually are.

Of course I only know things as they seem to me. If a guy in a green and black jacket goes jogging by with a big light brown dog, that's exactly what it looks like to me. And if I could somehow stop the guy and bring in 40 other observers, they'd probably say the same thing.

But let's say I had some kind of bionic eye, and let's say I had a control box to it and a bunch of buttons to push, or I was controlling it by thoughts and instinct, and perhaps acting out the workings by a lot of upward and rotating hand and finger gestures, and it was all accompanied by several buzzing, beeping, and centering sound effects, what then would I see? I know, it would depend on what the eye was programmed to see. In the scheme of things I'm imagining, it's able to break down the component parts of everything in its line of sight, and to see the parts as we normally see them as well as through several interpretive filters.

One interpretive filter might be represented like graph paper, with appearing and disappearing labels, hooked into some computer mentality (also bionic) that my mind happens to possess, in which things in time are frozen, or are cataloged then immediately retrieved for instant analysis and examination. That's a great filter. I won't go through all the possibilities of filters, in the interest of not tiring out my existing, non-bionic brain. Except to say, I'm picturing one of them as seeing wavelengths, the color spectrum, all that, again with a lot of cataloging and abilities to compare, contrast, separate, and immediately train in on as far as reaching conclusions and judgments.

So, let's say, when I see a guy in a green and black jacket, I would see the scheme for green and black, the qualities and quantities for each; everything comprising the guy himself would be broken down, the wavelengths of his thoughts, hair, spine, etc.; if he were listening to music, everything about that would be before me; all ephemeral attachments, like wet grass sticking to his shoes, etc., would be known; the sack with his dog's excrement would show its wavelengths as well as revealing everything about its heat; and of course the dog itself, I would see its bones, and be able to examine everything thoroughly, all these wavelengths being manifest.

I'm thinking reality is really quite wild. And even if you can't literally do all these things, you can still go around thinking, There's a guy in a green and black jacket. The guy is listening to music as he jogs. He has a light brown dog jogging beside him. Then in your thought, in comes your bionic eye's machinations, the sound effects, the graph paper, the cataloging, the comparing, the breaking down of component parts, the manifestation of the spectrum and wavelengths, etc.

When I sit in my chair, taking my hiatus, reading my Tarzan book, it's all right before me. My hiatus has its own color spectrum and wavelengths. I train my bionic eye on it for closer examination. What's this I see? That it's a lot like the rings of Saturn. There are plenty of gaps there. It stretches as far as the eye can see, but up close it is made of lots of tiny, separate pieces, wandering waves of light. Who knew my hiatus was a physical thing? It's not. It's a mental construct with observable energy. (Right now I've dismissed it and it's out wandering the grounds.)

I turn my chair toward the mirror. It's just me sitting there. But beep, buzz, whirr -- what's this? -- my chair is nothing but a stretched out sequence of lights, color, and possibly some trapped gas in its cushion. And as for me sitting there. Beep, buzz, whirr -- what's this? -- I also am a tower of light, colorful whirling dervishes ascending and descending, doing a pole dance in which the pole is both metallic and evanescent, all very colorful.

I exist like a carnival ride with blinking lights and wild, wild spheric music.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Well Guarded Hiatus

Let me say right up front, I'm in no way comparing myself to Tarzan or Tarzan's father. Tarzan's father, Lord Greystoke, had a lot more challenges to face over there in Africa than I, thankfully, can claim in my life.

To build a little house after months of the fearsome creatures of the jungle lurking about would be a Herculean task that would take a lot of skill and determination. Think how the apes could've swooped in at any time to destroy the tiny family. But Tarzan's parents "worked it out" and, doing their best, won a hard fraught victory over the worst nature could throw at them.

Yes, the mother went psycho and shut down after shooting the gun, leaving m'Lord to pretty much fend for himself. But that was really no reason for m'Lord to give up, leave his door open, get surprised by the Apes' friendly visit, and end up dead. You have to be on guard better than that. If you're going to give up at the first sign of trouble, I'm sorry, you should've stayed home.

The mind races with all the things he could've done. Given the time, I would've had that area around the house so booby trapped with trip wires (or ropes) and noise makers, I would've known if a mother flea was up at night pacing the dog with a hungry baby. Let alone an entire pack of murderous apes walking through my front door.

But, ahhh, well ... somehow we need to have Tarzan get adopted by the apes, who by the way, should have killed Kerchak. I would've called Kerchak out. I'd yell it, "Kerchak!" Everyone would say "Gesundheit." And after we had that old ape joke dispensed with, I'd stand there like High Noon and say, "It's just you and me and the law of the jungle, and, buddy boy, you're goin' down." Then BOOM ... from my "death-dealing thunder-stick" (p. 48).

Can you tell what I'm reading at this particular time during my hiatus? I've been laying in bed, burroughed under my covers, reading "Tarzan of the Apes," and learning some lessons (maybe) about how to take a decent hiatus. It'd be nice, except for all the apes and natural dangers, if I could be somewhere like Tarzan's family. And let's say the house was already built and well stocked, a nice outhouse and about 50 years worth of toilet paper in a nice, dry warehouse, plus lots and lots of food without any chance of expiring and going bad. And cable TV and internet. OK, I guess I'll stick where I am.

But there are still good lessons. Such as even if my wife dies, I still lock the door. Sheesh. That was insane. Look up from the table and it's wall to wall Ape. At that point it's too late. How much better it'd be to know they were coming, kill and butcher them all, and have your freezer packed with Ape steaks. Forgive my fantasizing. Tarzan's father needed to learn the high survival value of a good case of paranoia. There's basically no one coming after me and I'm still sitting here with a thunder-stick dreaming of steaks. Because you never can tell.

Possibly this is as far as I'll go in the book of Tarzan. But it's my hiatus. If I feel like reading further, I will. And if I don't, at least I have bookmarks that still work. This book was written in 1914 and I'm just now getting to it. If it takes me a few more years to finish it off, that'll be OK too. Anyway, I've already seen enough Tarzan movies and TV shows over the years to know he survives and ends up kicking some serious butt in the jungle. With his human intellect and abilities to figure things out that the brutes can't quite manage. The kinds of stuff his stupid dad should've also known but somehow didn't.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Hard Day's Hiatus

Life is a tough row to hoe, or if it's like boating with a hard scrabble gal I used to know, a tough ho to row. That's just a joke. I never actually went boating with her.

Life is tough. You get up in the morning slavin' for bread, suh, so that every mouth can be fed. But as tough as it is, guess what, I'm smiling right now.

Yesterday I went through a cemetery and was thinking over the issues of life and happiness, life and mortality, life and death. I was stunned to see how many epitaphs there are on tombstones that are some variation of this phrase, "Never Had A Hiatus." Seriously. I bet I saw it a couple dozen times. Like "Red Buttons / 1919-2006 / Never Got A Hiatus."

It made me start thinking of my own demise sometime in the next 50 years. Whether I'll see it coming, know it's coming, or whether I'll just wander toward the light in my sleep. I'd kind of like to be awake for it really. Because I can't tell in my dreams what's real and what isn't.

But if you think about your own death, it gives you some insights and also some help in deciding what to do with your life. My own epitaph might be "Longest Hiatus On Record," which would be cool. Or "Local Man Takes Hiatus," picking up on one of my most beloved self images. As for the insights, just think, every chair you've ever sat in will no longer have you on display. You'll be gone.

I don't know if I mentioned the theory I have -- it seems like I mentioned it -- which is this: If you don't leave the place you are you'll never die. It's something like that. Like let's say you're at church, in your favorite pew. You show up, you sit there, the service ends, you get up and leave. Big mistake! You should sit there as long as you can, literally until they carry you out. Because, according to my theory, the longer you stay right where you are, the longer you will live.

It doesn't pertain strictly that you need to stay right where you are. For instance, if you were at home, it doesn't hold that you should only stay home. Because then you might die at home and people would be saying, if only he had been somewhere else and stayed there, he wouldn't have died. That's what I'd say, for sure, because it is my theory.

On the other hand, it can be a very fitting choice, the best choice, to leave a place. It all depends. Let's say there's a hotel you stay at once in a while. But then 10 years later you drive by and see they've torn it down. In that case you can be thankful you left when you did, because it's always better to get out of a building before it's demolished.

Grandpa didn't die at home. He was in the hospital. But I still contend, had he been at home it would've never happened. At least not right then like that. Because he could've looked up and seen his own things. Maybe that's the reason. Or we could look at it like my church example. He stayed at home as long as he could, surviving every minute of it. Then they carried him out, through no choice of his own. And then he died, meaning it might've been his time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Hiatus Experiment

My head already feels muddled even before I start.

The hiatus experiment I'm trying today is two-pronged, or maybe it's two separate experiments. And I need to say them quick before I forget: 1) If I quit everything am I still here? 2) If this blog post had been memorized in advance, would I have been able to type it as efficiently as I am now without forgetting any of it? OK, that's down in black and white, so I won't forget that much.

Let me start with "one" first. "If I quit everything am I still here?" This is where the muddled feeling comes in, because a question like this has lots of binds. Like what do all the words of the question even mean? Quitting, I, everything, here. I can't tackle all that! But I think the issue is not to stir up a lot of logical hubbub about words, but to wonder what happens to me if I were to persist in this hiatus without end, perhaps at some point calling it permanent retirement?

Would I still be here? If "here" means posting the blog on a more or less daily basis, of course if I were to quit, I wouldn't be here except for my archives. That's simple enough and really would go without saying. If I were to go into permanent retirement, would I still be "here," like sitting here? That's a simple geographical question. I might still be here, sitting here, reading other things. I'm not going to quit "everything," like I'll still be reading, eating, and scratching where it itches.

(None of this has any of the wonder I felt when this experiment occurred to me. When I thought of the experiment, I was thinking of myself vanishing, like in the movie "Back To The Future," like if my parents didn't meet. But there's no real connection -- except whatever my online persona is to readers -- between my existence as a living person and whether I'm on hiatus from this blog or not. Again, my logical, clear-thinking side is vetoing the weird fantasy at the basis of the experiment's original idea.)

Think of all kinds of things I could be doing besides this. Like five years ago, I could have decided to go around the county painting water pumps pink. I didn't. But let's say that was the decision I made five years ago. Would I then be wondering, five years later, that were I to stop painting water pumps pink, that somehow I wouldn't still be here? It's absurd. There's no real connection between me painting pumps and my being here. And that's just one possibility. I could come up with a fantasy of a thousand different activities, that just because they were possible, the fact that they didn't happen, and the fact that I'm still here, shows that there's no correlation between any of those activities and my continual existence, perceived by some knowing, apparently cognizant entity, familiarly termed as myself.

All right, I think that's exhausted, but it would be fun to come up with a list of the thousand different activities I could've done! The answer to the experiment is "Yes, I would still be here were I to quit."

The second question is more interesting. If I had memorized this blog post in advance, which didn't exist, would I have been able to type it word for word as efficiently and flawlessly as I'm typing it right now?

That stirs up a lot of mental sagebrush, up there rolling around, rolling into a campfire and catching the tent on fire, to the point that there's a complete conflagration of my thinking cap. Now that my cap is burning, I can't think. But I must try before the fire consumes everything...

The blog post didn't exist, so there was nothing to memorize. The experiment would mean that I would have to imagine each word of the post in sequence, then memorize what I was thinking of, so that it would match exactly. This would be the equivalent of writing it like I'm doing now, except just as an imagined and remembered whole. If I were able to do that, the answer is "Yes, I could also sit here and type it as efficiently and flawlessly as I'm typing it right now." In fact I could do it more efficiently because there'd be no composing, only transcribing.

After all, typing is just a mechanical process. It has mental aspects. But what I'd be more interested in is whether a million blind monkeys typing on a million keyboards would write this blog post word for word as efficiently and flawlessly as I'm writing it right now were I to tell them what to type? Of course it would depend on how well they were able to type, whether they understood what I told them, and whether their memories were good. Could all million get the job done? I'm sure it would be less than a million. Remember, they're blind, and blind monkeys would have to make lots of typing mistakes.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Hiatus I Was Born To Take

My life has spanned a few decades now, so we're talking about some real history when you add up the days, weeks, and years. And each leap year gave me an extra day to enjoy along the way, like a cherry on top of a very long, prolonged, and wild ride. With the constancy of the hourglass, that's a lotta sand. And blood and tears. And toil.

Think of all the calendar pages flying by, representing my life. There's big block number pages, like the calendars you used to see in hardware stores. There's gigantic, black and red calendar pages, like they used to give away at the Farmers Bank. There's rolled up, demur nature scene calendars, like they gave away at restaurants. There's thematic calendars that schools sold, with the general theme of every month, like back to school in September, desks, rulers, and Abraham Lincoln in there somewhere.

After all this time, it's not too early to start thinking what my purpose in life is, why I'm even on this earth. And after a litle thought, here's the answer. It looks like I was put here simply to go on hiatus. To take a prolonged and maybe permanent break. Can a man exist just to quit and do nothing? It looks like it!

I wish I would've known this as a kid. I could've quit then. No potty training, no socialization skills, no birthday parties for friends, no school, no learning to balance a checkbook, no hanging out on streetcorners asking women to marry me, no nothing. I could've been like Tarzan and found myself a jungle somewhere and just gone there and taken a prolonged nap. Like a mix between Tarzan and Rip Van Winkle, just hibernate, vegetate, and swing through the jungle for exercise, to keep my strength up for the long hiatus ahead.

Instead, I went through all the normal ups, downs, stops, starts, and false starts. Trying to live with normal goals has been a mess. And as I look back on it, I feel mostly, you know, shame, like most people. A few good memories mixed in but for the most part overwhelmed by the bad. Even though I like to think I was a happy kid, my biggest memories are of being overwhelmed with fear, hesitancy, eyes averted down, reluctance to meet the world, embarrassed by my own body and thoughts, feelings of shyness, ugliness, aversion to most things, antisocial, graceless, ignorant, hopeless, and small. Of course there were some good times, like that time I shot the rat at the dump with my bow and arrow and everyone said I averted a plague and saved the town.

Through it all, somehow I survived. Mostly by the pleasure I got by going out to vacant fields and clubbing dirt clods. It still sounds kind of fun. Club 'em with a baseball bat. Take a dirt clod, throw it up and whack it toward an imaginary center field. You can wear off a lot of energy that way, take revenge on your many enemies, and just generally have a nice time. I used to come home one dirty little boy. And Grandpa would greet me with a smile, then take my baseball cap off and put it back on sideways, and tell me to, "Get cleaned up for supper, Champ." He understood at least one important lesson before he died: Everyone's trying too hard.

Now I know where my fulfillment is, where the joy of life can be found. In prolonged rest, shirking, giving up, flushing away ambition and living in the moment as a loungeabout. No more guilt. I'm Hugh Hefner without the girls to keep track of. No more worrying about what my "friends" and "followers" at this blog need or think they need. My mind is not their special plaything. My heart is not meant for them to bat around like their own personal dirtclod. And the rest of my body certainly isn't here to serve as Garrett Al's personal trampoline.

Hiatus, baby, that's what makes my day! That's what my life is. I've stumbled into life's greatest revelation, that I was born to take time off.

Monday, June 8, 2009

My Favorite Hiatus Memory

I'm always curious about people's favorite memories.

Like the memories we have of high school, like when we're at a class reunion. The years seem to melt away as the memories come rushing back. And actually the years in high school do melt away, because the five or six memories we have of high school compress it all down to about two days.

In high school, one of the few things I remember is jumping on the trampoline that time we weren't supposed to and getting busted by the teacher. I made a couple smart remarks about it and we walked away and walked somewhere, toward the west, now that I think back, and laughed about his consternation. Of course now as an adult I can see the problem, that if we would've gotten hurt, it would've been on the teacher's head, since he was the only responsible adult there at the time, etc.

But those memories are of the olden days. And it's not that great to get together with those chums of years ago and laugh it up over five or six memories. Then the rest of the time we're sitting there -- like 10 minutes later -- thinking, Now what? I blew my memory wad in 10 minutes. I don't know these people. They're old people. They have grandchildren. I'm not even married. I'm an idiotic bachelor still living at my grandparents' old rundown house.

I don't really think of myself as an idiot. That is, I try to put it out of my mind. And now that I'm thinking of it again, it's depressing. But today is not a day for depression! I'm up and at 'em. I'm alive and vital. I have enough healthy spleen to vent on any enemy who comes my way and seeks to depress me or oppress me or repress me. I don't need anyone to repress me. I can do fine at that myself. If you want to impress me, you're going to have to try harder. Because I hold myself to exacting standards and the rest of you aren't getting a pass either.

Anyway, what do I care? I can just tell the world the truth, that at the present moment I'm on hiatus. And that's true. I'm in a transitional phase between hard work and dedication -- overwork -- and possibly permanent retirement, although I still don't think it's going to come to that. Certainly I gave up the hard work part and have been taking it easy for the most part ever since. And time has been slipping by. And I'm not hungering to get back to it either, to the blog (maybe just a little), and none of the rest of it. It's a hiatus for me, sweet and simple.

Which leads me to wonder what your favorite memory is (so far) of my hiatus? And if you don't think you can narrow it down to only one, what a few of your favorite memories are. Until I hear from you, which I know might take some time, I'll share my favorite.

One of my favorite memories -- if it's not my absolute favorite, because I also have more than one -- is when I was thinking about "Wrestling and Rasslin' With My Hiatus." I was just thinking about this yesterday, and was wondering if I had another "wrestling and rasslin'" post in my system. But this time I was thinking in terms of wrestling or rasslin' animals and not just people.

Like it's wrestling if you wait till the alligator has his trunks on, but it's rasslin' if you attack him from behind on his way to the dressing room.

It's wrestling if you wait patiently while the ref calmly explains the rules to the alligator in growls he can understand. It's rasslin' if you nail the rules to his forehead.

It's wrestling if the alligator gets a breather between rounds. It's rasslin' if he's not breathing at all.

It's wrestling if you take the alligator out for a beer afterwards. It's rasslin' if he needs an IV drip to drink it.

It's wrestling if the alligator smiles and shows his teeth. It's rasslin' if he smiles and I give his teeth back to him.

You can probably see, if you really think about it, why the post on wrestling and rasslin' would be my favorite hiatus memory. They're both funny and true, creative and obvious.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hiatus Backup

I'm a big believer in backing up, having a backup. A backup plan, a backup of files, having my back up when I'm mad, everything. And backups of backups, to tell you the truth. Because you can never be too careful.

I think I got some of this urge to backup everything when I was in school. It was a very sour feeling to give the teacher the only copy of your homework, only to have her tell me two weeks later that she didn't get it. That's when a backup would've come in handy, and I should've had one, since all my teachers were complete incompetents.

Anyway, whatever it is these days, if it's possible and feasible to have a backup, I will have one, two, three, or more. If they put me in charge of the Library of Congress it'd have to be three times as big as it is, just to store all the extra copies.

I remember as a teenager being deathly afraid that my favorite artists' songs could be lost to civilization if they didn't have them on albums as well as singles. The thing was that singles were in the store for less than a month but an album could be there forever. My own little collection, as far as I knew, would exist as the last backup if they found that certain songs had vanished.

With computer files, how often, especially when we had just floppy disks, have I duplicated files. And you needed to with floppy disks, since about 90% of the time they were defective. Hard drives these days are a lot more reliable -- but even then I know that eventually they're going to fail. It's good to have everything on at least two hard drives, then also at least one copy on a CD or DVD. Then if one hard drive goes bad, as it eventually will, there's a chance the other will work good enough to copy everything over to a new hard drive. And if both fail, at least you have the DVD. If everything fails, then you'll know you should've had other backups.

When I took this hiatus, I didn't know how long it was going to be. But I might have foreseen it, that if I wanted a really good break, it'd be better to triple the days that were likely. Then if I wasn't rested up sufficiently, say, from three weeks off, I'd have another six weeks on top of that to make sure the job was done.

Certain things it's not feasible to back up. Like I don't have a couple extra cars in case the one goes bad, although I'd like to. And if we're having hamburgers I don't make extras in case the first ones fall into the charcoal. I can't live my life like that ... entirely.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Polk Salad Hiatus

Some of you all never been down south, boy, I'm gonna tell you all about it, so if you go on down there you can pick me up some and bring me back a mean mess of polk salad. Chomp, chomp.

I'm on this hiatus here, this hiatus, and somethin' they all been sayin' here about this boy, they say I'm lazy and no count. He claims to have a game toe. You know that's what they're talkin' about ... but then again I'm doin' all right.

Now every day about supper time, Granny goes down by the truck patch. I'm sending her there to carry it back, to carry it back in a tote sack. It's a green thing she gets and it grows down there, and this thing, it grows out there in the woods and it grows down there in the fields, I swear to the world.

And this thing I'm talkin' about, it kind of looks like, just like a turnip, a lot like a turnip with somethin' that looks just like a mess of green salad stickin' up. Chomp, chomp. And every evening about supper time, she goes on down there and picks us up a mean mess of it and she comes on home then so that she can fix it and we can eat it. Cause that's about all we have. But then again we do all right.

Everybody says it's such a shame about Granny, that she's so mean and vicious, a 'gator tamin' woman, Granny. She's wretched and spiteful and totin' a straight razor, but she does all right. You know what I mean. Workin' on a chain gang somewhere down there some place you all ain't never been in Louisiana. Lawd have mussy.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Hiatus Comeback

The last couple days I've been moody, blue -- sometimes up, sometimes down, mostly up but frequently down -- about my hiatus. At times it's been a mess of blues. But there's enough of a variance day to day that's really there's been something for everybody.

I'm reminded of a guy who climbs mountains. What he must feel like when it comes time to climb the next one! He must think, c'mon everybody, one of these days it's going to be the end. And, I'll just hope my time hasn't come yet, but I'm afraid this is a mountain I just can't climb, and if I fall I'll be saying this is my heaven and I'm goin' home.

But it's a wonderful world, so I went with it -- the hiatus. A few days ago -- I can't believe I didn't say it before -- I thumbed myself all the way down to Memphis and was staying at the YMCA. I went to one of the dives down there and dove right in and played my guitar down at the end of Lonely St., and sang about my hiatus. It was my hope that everyone would treat me nice about this thing, but many of my "friends" and "followers" decided instead we're gonna move. But that's all right. I said I'll just sing for myself tomorrow night.

Ever since I've been ragging philosophic about my loss, essentially it's been easy come, easy go. When I have my druthers, of course I'll take love. But first you gotta stop what you're doing and let me be. If you won't do that, there's the door, let yourself go.

I was in Memphis just a while, then called and told Grandma I'm comin' home. She gently responded I want you with me, to which I responded with several echoes of love, even telling her that the thrill of her love was at times a dirty, dirty feeling. Fortunately she didn't tell me to stay away. I got lucky.

But now that I've said that I feel so bad and I need to make her know it. She'll ask me whether it hurts me or not. (At least we'll be together.) I'll say there's too much monkey business going on, you're wearin' that loved on look, my suspicion's never ending, and, it's such an easy question, but is your real name Judy or could it be she's not you?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Hiatus Holding Pattern

Good battleaxeing grief, has another day passed already? So that I'm already once again sitting here trying to catch up everybody on my hiatus. I'm calling these "The Hiatus Posts," and for very good reason. I'm in a hiatus holding pattern, like a plane that can't come down. Except in this case the plane is grounded, taking a breather, and can't go up.

There's no way it was supposed to go this long. I envisioned it as potentially something that could stretch out, of course. But I also envisioned it as more likely being 15 to 20 days max. I did what you're supposed to do when you envision and prepare to take a hiatus. I filled out the paperwork, the forms, the proposal, and waited. I was ready right then and there to get started, but they put me in a holding pattern until it could be officially approved.

Why it's gone long, it's a case of finding it hard to quit. But I've definitely got what it takes to quit -- just like that -- if I really wanted. So there must be some real desire of mine to just keep going. It's not like anyone's really caring all that much. I could pad this thing out from here to doomsday with "Hiatus Posts" and no one would care. That's what I get for chasing off all my so-called "friends and followers." I'm sitting here alone ... and you know what? ... I like it that way.

Anyway, I've written about my "friends and followers" -- and I was frankly never convinced they were either one, which turned out to be the case. They fell into a few different categories. 1) Lurkers, just casual internet curiosity seekers; 2) Social types, trying to sidle up to me for friendship based on the charm I seem to possess; 3) Activists, looking for anyone who regularly posts to join them in whatever activities that activists tend to act on; 4) Desperate, anyone who would seek and attain real life visits with people they meet online; 5) Pervert(s), basically Garrett Al, but there could potentially have been others by now. (I left him in "a holding pattern," holding his own in a jail cell and not mine!)

So just look through that list of categories. It's pathetic from first to last. There's no one who needs any of that. Well, I guess 2 and 3 aren't so bad, but out of the two I would be most naturally repelled by activists, since I don't want to participate in their activities. I hate all activism, the meetings, motions, signs, speakers, chants; activists hate all disagreement, so you have to lie to them constantly to be their friend. As for social types, wanting to be friends? Friendship has to be organic, I'm sorry. You can't glom on to someone out of the blue and set your sights on him and say that guy's going to be my friend. Social types, you're meeting them as a work and pursuit in progress, so it doesn't work. It's so artificial, it breaks down the minute you sober up.

I do not take thee, to have and to hold from this day forward. I choose hiatus!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My Very Own Hiatus

I'm feeling righteously selfish this morning. I guess I rolled out of bed thinking about me, me, me, so that's the way it'll have to be!

I'm my favorite subject in the whole world, and I don't normally play favorites. But ... hey! [multiple self-referential gestures meant to highlight my best features, which are all of them, and to suggest in an exasperated tone that the quality you see is the quality you get. And it's true, just like the TV manufacturer who may or may not still exist, the quality goes in before the name goes on!]

I like the way I look. I like the way I think. I talk in a natural enough way. When my jib was cut it was sliced to perfection. There's nothing wrong in this being, whether from the point on the top of my head to the flatness of my feet. In between there is enough masterful architecture to keep any opposite body well pleased and satisfied for as long as it physically takes.

I could see myself like on one of those shows where the human body is in is normal physical form, then it rotates in a scientific way with all sorts of clicking and whirring noises and is seen in all the various ways, muscular, skeletal, light forms; with labels in very small type and straight lines leading to the various parts. Then in for a close up of my head, the eyes, the straps of the muscles, the ligaments, everything revolving, then back to skin.

Of course in those scientific presentations of the self, they're usually in the nude. Which is a great way to be. If you walk around in the nude a lot, you're ready for anything. It's no problem at all to go to the bathroom. Everything's loose and available. It's very refreshing and only a problem when the UPS guy comes or they're collecting for charity.

To see the human form in a book, like this one book I saw and almost bought, terrific paintings (Ken Wilbur wrote the intro), it makes you appreciate that you really are more than just a walking bag of bones. Your mom and dad thought they were just making the back seat go up and down when no one was looking, but they came out with the light of eternity in a precious little package. Speaking of myself there.

I wander around the half acre and remember this is the place where I was deemed most precious. And that's before I even got to thinking about it myself. They were all my Number One Fans. Many black and white and color snapshots exist of me as a little tyke, wandering the half acre, standing by the pump, standing where Grandpa's garage is now, out by the flower trellis, over by the dogs, sitting or laying on one of Grandpa's boats flipped over, with cousins, with dogs, geese, goats. I'm the one constant. Paired with every creature that ever entered the yard. Paired with every object we ever owned. But I'm the only constant, except for the house in the background. All the dogs have died. The geese too. The goats. The boats are gone. The flowers go away every fall. But I live on. How great I must be!

I went to the pump to get some drinking water, earlier on. And I'm struttin' like a mildly irritated rooster. The morning sun when it's in my face doesn't show my age. I'm timeless, eternal, and very very persistent. No one can touch me. I'm riding high. I have a chariot that goes straight to heaven. And I'm on hiatus, beautiful, wonderful hiatus. No one can take this away from me.

I saw the devil today. He was passing by.

And this is my hiatus, my very own hiatus -- no one else's.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dwelling On My Hiatus?

I've been accused of dwelling too much on my hiatus, the one I'm currently taking. To which I reply, "I'm taking a hiatus. What else would I dwell on?" When that's what you're doing that's what's going to be on your mind. Sheesh. Can't please some people. But I know how it goes, since that's in part the whole reason for this little breather I've been taking. And you read that right, at this point it's "a little breather," not permanent retirement. Let me stress that again, or emphasize it, my hiatus is not -- not -- I'll repeat that, not permanent retirement at this time.

You'd think they'd catch the irony of the situation. Kind of silly, really. Nag, nag, nag ... "not doing enough, not giving us enough," on and on. Then you announce a hiatus and actually follow through and take it and the nagging just intensifies. It's insane! People, that was the problem in the first place! Hello? Hello? Do you want me back or not? If you do you're going about it entirely the wrong way, let me tell you right now. Because I am decidedly not coming back if all I'm greeted with is the demand for more, more, more. That's the last thing I want to hear. It's simply cluelessness on your part, with no apparent ability to discern why I took this hiatus and what might end it.

I said my hiatus is not permanent retirement at this time. That last bit there is a very key point. At this time. Meaning, you know, push me too far and I might go all the way. I could retire just like that. And I wouldn't look back. Any regrets I might have at that point would have to take a backseat to my iron will. I'm a stern taskmaster when it comes to the will. I say it and it's done. It's always the same, cold turkey, right now! I'm not big on threats I can't back up. I'm not all talk. I'm also action. So don't try me.

It's because I know that about myself that I'm not really that flustered about all the pressure. If I seem flustered about it, I'm not. What I am -- I do get exasperated, but only because I see people shooting themselves in the foot. Here's the message: You don't get your way with me by nagging. You're much more likely to get your way by backing off and playing it cool. In this case, then, with my hiatus giving me the chance to relax and take a load off, to have some refreshment, I would ease back into it with a clear head and some happiness. But you'd have to be a saint not to get your back up a little with this kind of self-defeating behavior.

OK, I think I've given it to you straight. You've got it, right? There's no mistaking my intentions this time, is there? You promise you won't forget? Good, then I'll try to be gentle from here on out. I've never thought I was actually ready for permanent retirement. Of course that's out there in the distant future for me, but not immediately. It's like anything; things start and then they eventually come to an end. But it happens in the course of time. One day this work of mine will come to an end. That is certain. Then you will look back to the first day and you will look at the last day. Then you will look at the body of work in between ... and, I hope, appreciate it.

But as for now, we're not at that far off, distant day yet. At this point I'm not considering permanent retirement, just as I said. But please, please, let me take this hiatus without any undue kicking against it ... or me.

Monday, June 1, 2009

My Hiatus Comes Into Its Own

When a thing has been around for a while, give or take on the time depending on what it is, it's no longer wobbling around, hobbling about, feeling its way or feeling unsure of itself. If it can bounce off this wall, careen toward that one, feel the pushing of many hands toward that extreme, then shove off from this one, it develops a certain independence through the scrapes and trials, and finds itself seeking a clearing, a place of light, a path without hindrance.

I think of the way it is with little baby birds, unsure of themselves. But look at the time frame they're working with! Three weeks ago they were an egg. Now they're hatched, pretty well grown, and expected to fly. I think of the power of flight as something I can only dream of. It'd be nice to be able to fly. Maybe it would. Although, you know, if human beings could fly it'd just give us more ways to get in trouble. All the ne'er do wells would misuse the power to run drugs. The police would be shooting down innocent fliers by mistake. You'd have to buy a license. The rates would go up. It'd be a mess.

But when you're innocent like a bird, it's all in your power to get out there and flap 'em with the best of 'em. They're very unsure of themselves at first, though, but pretty soon they swoop, dive, dodge, bob, and weave with a great deal of expertise, to the point that you start to think they're just showing off. For them it's no longer special, and they're no longer happy to just fly around here. They get bored and decide maybe they need to fly south for the winter. And next thing you know everyone's doing it, like with geese. They're up there in big wedges, honking like a car alarm. And you know they're really cursing their ability to fly, since it now wastes so much time they have very little time left for other things.

Ever since I went on hiatus, I've been feeling my way along -- slower and less sure at first, but little by little I've been getting my sea legs, my wings have developed some muscle at the sockets, I've lost my baby teeth, and I've gotten my adult eyebrows. If you think of it in terms of maturing, little tufts of body hair have sprouted, first like a nucleus exactly centered, like in the center of an arm pit. Then it's been ringed by a new growth of hair. Then that has been ringed. And other rings have been added. It'd be interesting to see it happen with a fast motion camera slowed down. I can even picture a beard coming in one hair at a time, then being ringed multiple times to the point that there's all these circular patterns. I don't know. It's an image worth documenting.

The early days are past. And when I look back I smile at my early thoughts about permanent retirement. How fast I was thinking! It's interesting to dream in such big terms when the thing was barely off to a start. Now that I've had some weeks to think it over, to stew, to examine it in detail, some of the same dreams and same thoughts are there, but I also can see the pitfalls. I'm not rushing a thing at this point. Just taking my time and letting things go where they feel most naturally like going.

My hiatus has broken into the clear. I can look back at all the clamoring, but all that gets smaller as I advance on. And soon I won't be looking back as much, then not at all. To the left and to the right, there's very little obstruction being offered. The path ahead looks rosy and bright. There's some very interesting natural colors ahead. Blue sky, yellow sun, green trees, and an occasional bit of red just to break up the monotony, like a cherry in a can of fruit cocktail.