Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Hiatus Roundhouse

When I think of trains I think of the whole thing, from engine to caboose. Except they don't make cabooses anymore, so it's engines to infinity. We need that ending but they don't care. I hate a train that leaves you dangling. I can't be looking at an infinite train.

A train goes strictly in a straight line, except for the curves, then right back to the straightaway. The tracks are designed for the width of the wheels. They've got them nailed down to wooden posts. In some countries the trains ride a smooth cushion of air above the tracks. It's air travel about three inches up.

I can remember some of the stuff they taught us in 2nd grade about trains. But not much. The different cars have names. Like coal car, box car, and flat car. An engine can go forward or reverse without turning around. The engine driver is called the engineer. His job is to keep the train going and also to look out for hobos.

The yard dick -- that's seriously what he's called -- is also on the lookout for hobos. A hobo is a bum with some pride. I used to want to be a hobo. A big can of mulligan stew would taste good right about now, depending on whether I like mulligan stew, since I've never had it. I met a hobo right off the train once. He was looking for potatoes.

It might be a good job to be a yard dick. You don't have to do much, just mill around the train yard and look for hobos. I would probably have an eagle eye to see them with. Except I would have a hard time capturing one. I'd rather be a hobo than capture one. So let's say I'm a yard dick and you're a hobo. I do see you, but I'm pretending I don't. Except for meeting the quotas in order to keep my job, I wouldn't capture very many hobos.

If I met a hobo I might hide my yard dick badge. And he'd be going, "Are there any yard dicks around?" And I'd be going, "I hope not. Just keep down and they won't see you." Then I'd hurry back over by the roundhouse and they ask me if there's any hobos around, and I'd be going, "I hope not. It's been a busy last few months we've had and I think we scared them all off." Then the roundhouse master wants to walk with me and we're getting closer to the hobo, so I start into a really rough coughing jag to let him know we're getting closer.

The hobo sees me and knows it's me, the very guy who had said I hadn't seen any yard dicks. Then he knows that I am indeed the yard dick and gives me a sly "O" sign with his hand. Pretty soon I have the roundhouse master ensconced in his office, keeping him busy hand stamping old hobo reports. And I rush out to tell the hobo that I am indeed a yard dick, but a devious one, who despises capturing hobos, and that I wish I were a hobo.

After I punch out for the day, I head down to the hobo jungle, and they're playing the harmonica and singing old folk songs. Alan Lomax comes out of the trees and records us. I end up on a Folkways album narrating the story of the hobo in search of potatoes. I add to it to make him seem less selfish. Such as this, that he was in the town and heard the story of a poor family without food. So he enlisted the other hobos to find potatoes, carrots, and other food to give them. Then just as he was about to get out of the train yard he was run over by a train. But everyone knew he died doing good. (It didn't really happen like that, of course.)

Ever since I took this hiatus -- at least in the last couple days -- I've been in a reverie. Someone mentioned to me about the existence of theme rooms in motels. I've taken that idea and run with it. Yesterday with a boating theme. Today with a train theme.

Reveries are so much fun. It's like meditation, with a secular emphasis.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hiatus -- Thar She Blows!

I'm a good buoy, I'm not nautical. But today I'm taking an excursion with a boating theme. What's good's a hiatus if you can't get out in nature and make a splash?

I'm just pushing out from shore and looking at the crowds back on land. How needy they look, milling around, seeking a word of wisdom, some attention. May be a few paralytics in the crowd borne by four. I've shove out in deeper water in a minute. Just let me look at the needy a little longer and wish them bon voyage.

Up on the mountain I see Garrett Al. He's needy in his own perverted way. But believe me, if he got any closer I'd beat him off with an oar. I'd render him so impotent they'd encourage him to live within 2000 feet of a school and they might even make him a traffic guard!

But for the most part the crowd is nameless and faceless. They're clawing their way toward the front to take a look at me on my skiff. A few of them look mean, like Skidrow bums, maybe a few resentful carpet dealers. They're giving me one of those Italian curse signs you do with your arm. A couple of their kids -- miniature versions of the real thing -- are running toward the water, skipping rocks in my direction.

I'll take my big stick and push it against the bottom of the lake or sea, wherever I am. I'm thinking of setting sail for somewhere else! Leave the pests behind, sail for the future. Let them fend for themselves. They'll soon get tired of watching me out here, especially as I get smaller and smaller and finally disappear. They'll learn they can't look to me for every morsel.

As to this blog, yes, it's a good thing. But sometimes enough is enough. What did you do before I was here? Then do it again! If what I gave you was good and now I think I need this hiatus, wouldn't my thought on that need also be good? Makes sense.

Now I'm in the open water. I'll just click it on autopilot and taste the spring breeze. There's some seagulls flying above. Maybe it's a mobile on my bed.

Now I turn my rig into a fiord and look at the close rocks. Close enough for someone to jump on me. Pirates maybe. A whole pack of Garrett Als with peglegs or just happy to see me. But it doesn't happen. Maybe he's getting the message, I'm strictly off limits to that whole scene.

(This entire post is extremely off. I'm sorry for it.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Rich Fabric Of This Hiatus

Can you believe we really have words like "warp" and "woof"? I can't believe it. But as insane as it sounds, I guess it's true. Look it up. You'll see that whoever those guys are who use words, they'll be using these ones too, as they comment on "the warp and woof" of such and such.

To me it sounds like a perverted dog, one who rubs himself on guests, as in he's warped and he occasionally woofs. You get one warped enough -- not just perverted but evil -- and woofing enough, you put a heavy chain on him and drag him down to the Army recruiter. They need dogs like that in the various concentration camps our government runs.

Just a lot of woofing isn't enough to put one away. In fact your dog might be trying to tell you something if he woofs a lot. Because no one monitors territory like a dog. They're very territorial. And instinctual. They can read urine like DNA. They can detect subtle clues as to people's intentions. So when the fur stands up on your dog's back, that's a very good sign.

But "warp and woof" don't actually have anything to do with dogs, but with fabric. Fabric is made up of string going one way then another. If it goes one way it's the "warp" and if it goes the other it's the "woof." And if you turn it around the opposite is true. Like left and right. You might be the woof from one angle but you're the warp from another. So it gets confusing. Except what we're interested in is the finished product, once the warping and woofing is done, and we don't care what they call it.

The phrase gets applied to something like a figure of speech, to say what really makes up something. So you could have the warp and woof of meat, let's say, the straight meat of the bacon could be the warp, and the fat globby portions the woof. I believe so.

I've been re-reading my hiatus posts and I'm amazed at the rich fabric of them. Such emotion! Such passion! It's all so fascinating it deserves to be published -- maybe handwritten by very old, very skillful monks while chanting -- then preserved in a richly decorated, fabric hardback book about the size of a family Bible.

The outer fabric would have its warp and woof and be lush, lavish. But the real "fabric," if you catch my drift, would be the contents, with big decorative capital letters to start the first paragraph, etc. Like today, my first sentence starts with "Can you believe...", it'd be an enormous "C" to start the page, with some color and crosshatching. I love it!

The hiatus is going well. I've calmed down since whenever it was the last time that I was riled up about it. You can hear it in my voice, the cadence of confidence, renewed playfulness, restless creativity brimming over, and humor that sweeps over the entire production. I'm winking at everyone! I'm as light as a bee skimming over a field of nothing but flowers. My big old book needs to be scented with a floral scent.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Feeding On My Hiatus

You've all seen the Taoist yin-yang symbol, the curvaceous, circular conjoining of dark and light, black and white, each with the opposite colored circle in each's independent part of the overall circular shape? Perhaps an illustration would be helpful, but I've searched on the internet for the better part of an hour and can't find a single one.

Let me try to describe it a little better. You've got an overall circle, OK? But the circle has what looks kind of like a "6" on one side and a "9" on the other side. Let's say the "6" is black and the "9" is white. The "6" then has a white dot in the fat portion of the number, and likewise the "9" has a black dot in the fat portion of the number. They are together in a kind of opposite-attracting harmony.

Taoist philosophy teaches us that these two are "going at it" in an eternal relationship. Perhaps the relationship is a struggle, being at each other's throat. Perhaps they have joined forces against a common enemy and set aside their differences in a truce. Perhaps they marry and live happily ever after. One thing they can't do -- insofar as I know -- is break the circle, you know, with the "9" having a restraining order against the "6" and the "6" suing to keep the circle and kick the "9" out. Rather, at some point in eternity past, they made their bed and now they must lie in it ... together.

The "9" can't at this point wake up and look at the wrinkles on "6"'s face and seek out a younger partner. And the "6" can't say the "9" hasn't made a good living for her and that she wants someone richer. Each is in that everlasting struggle -- kind of like Grandma and Grandpa Slump were, till death did them part with Grandpa's non-suspicious demise in 1978. Only at that point, I guess, could the "6" hobble along as an independent entity. It could end up in a nursing home and play footsie with an old guy across the table, or accidentally brush body parts together while trying to get around the cleaning lady's wastebasket in the hall. For the most part they won't do this, since many of the sensors in our body parts shut off when we're around the age of 75, and, they say, the feeling conveys no pleasure to either person.

All these truths have a bearing on me and my hiatus. We have been locked in a fierce struggle. I sought the hiatus and took it. Then I woke up to find I was in bed with, alternately, a lech and a lump. The pleasure is no pleasure and the pain is all pain. I'm looking at wrinkles, the failure to make a living, constant stress from uncouth noises, and the added egregiousness of my wounded pride, having lost all my "friends" and "followers" by my dalliance, then blind alliance with this worthless, insatiable partner.

Just as the black and the white revolve in that eternal circle, and just as the "6" has to make way for the "9," so am I locked in by the foolishness of my choice. I was tricked. I was seduced. Now I can find no way out of the circle. The hiatus is feeding on me. I am feeding on the hiatus. The hiatus knows it will end if I end. But will I end if the hiatus ends? That's the question that is causing me the most grief.

Did I not start the hiatus? Can I not end it? We know, of course, that starting something is different from ending it. Even biology proves this conclusively. Does a hiatus, once started, have the right to continual existence and place? Ethicists wrestle with that problem. I need one to let me know! With the mutual feeding-on that we speak of in the "6" and the "9"'s relationship, can we even be divided at this moment ... without one of us having to die? Or face other existential consequences, including perhaps both of us ceasing to be ... mutual assured destruction!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

This Tormented Hiatus

We've had very tumultuous weather lately. Could it really just be a coincidence, going along with the indisputable fact that the season of Spring is known for many thunderstorms and rain? Or could it be that somehow the weather is related to me personally, something to do with my hiatus? Like it's time for me to be tormented.

I'm remembering that night I stood in the thunder and pouring rain and demanded that I be struck by lightning if I had done wrong, and all those houses were lost in the lightning fires. I thought that was a very good sign for me, clearing me of guilt. But now we're getting the intensity again, the thunder crashing down, and I'm hoping it doesn't mean my case has come up for review. And that my feeling of innocence isn't all it takes to pronounce actual guilt.

I tend to look at thunder and lightning as scientific facts, not instruments of judgment. Grandpa used to tell me the thunder was just potatoes rolling down the cellar stairs but I don't believe that anymore. There's more science to it, something about the air pressure building up to a point where the dew point is exceeded, then an electrical chain reaction makes contact -- between the polarities -- in the sky and earth. They meet in a loud crash somewhere in the middle, with the lightning going both up and down simultaneously. What comes back to earth affects us here, but what advances up in the sky shakes loose the rain, and so the weather gets worse. But what compels all of it? Is there a meta-science behind the science? That would be my question.

Why would I be judged for simply going on hiatus? It doesn't make a lot of sense. But the nature of transgression isn't always a thing of sense. It's also a thing of instinct and of just knowing. The chill up the spine. Your hair standing on end when the holy is in evidence. Science can't put these under a microscope and take a biopsy. You know what you know by leaps and bounds, tumultuous shifts in consciousness.

It could be that getting hit by lightning would be the best thing that ever happened to me. I take a hiatus. I perceive that judgment will come. Instead there's affirmation, in the form of being struck by lightning. Then after I'm struck, I become like lightning, like a super power. I'm able to jump into the sky and ride with the wind to a destination. At the destination, I crash down to earth. Everyone just thinks it's lightning. But I'm back behind a billboard taking off my charred clothes and putting on fresh. Then I walk into town and teach the people the lessons of life. Then I see the daughter of the guy who runs the hardware store. We hit it off and are holding hands in back of the grange. The father sees me, chases me into the country. I clap my hands, become a bolt of lightning, and I'm off to my next adventure.

Judgment's a funny thing. When you feel like you deserve it, you're fine. But when you feel innocent, that's a dangerous scene; that's when you're likely to be struck. I took this hiatus. I enjoyed myself. But now it could happen. I might be in for torments I can't even imagine.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Big Hiatus Headache

I thought that taking a hiatus would be a help to me, that I would have time off, that I would be able to reflect, then recharge and renew myself. Isn't that what a break's supposed to do? I go to the grocery store and I hear the checkout people saying, "I'm going to take my break," and the entire grocery store doesn't go out of business over such a heinous offense.

But the "friends" you meet on the internet are less forgiving than customers in a grocery store. The customers in the grocery store may indeed hate the checkout people's guts for taking breaks, but because of hunger, their need for groceries, they keep their mouth shut. I know I think the same way, essentially; I hear the checkout person saying they're going on their break -- the other day I actually heard one say, "I'm going to take my last break" [my emphasis] -- and I think, "Oh, that's real helpful to me, the paying customer." But when I think about letting the store know what I think and taking a stand, I quickly lose my courage, because I know I'm going to need groceries very soon. And that's the biggest reason you never see anyone picketing a grocery store.

It's not like that out here on the internet. No, the internet is like the Wild West of Shunning. Because it's just one big nameless, faceless blob, you can lose your "friends" and "followers" just like that. State an opinion that doesn't match up with the blob's prejudices and you'll have the blob all over you. Take a hiatus and you're dirt under their feet. It starts in small ways, a few curse words directed your way. But because the blob is a blob, it adds to and supplements its rolling girth, weight, and heft rather quickly. Emails fly at lightning speed, advancing, mutating, and pretty soon you're not just garbage, you're the scourge of the world! Every word is twisted in such a way that you yourself question your intent, then your worth.

I know about the blob because I've done it too; everyone has. You hear a crazy news story about a principal in another state who expels a kid for, say, being too smart, who made all the stupid kids feel inferior. The principal had a good defense, that budget cuts didn't allow a separate class for the smart kid. And telling the stupid kids' parents that their kids were inferior was out of the question, because there's more of them than there are of the smart kids. Naturally you have to sacrifice the smart kid. But by the time it gets to the internet, to feed the blob, the principal has done something very, very wrong. The hotheads take over! And she gets a ton of emails including a few death threats and quite a few cuss words. How great it feels for us to email this poor principal, cajoling and threatening her simply for doing her job.

But if you can, put yourself on the receiving end. That's where I've been the last couple weeks. I completely lost all my so-called "friends." Each and every one of my so-called "followers" has vacated the site. Why? Because I merely wanted to do what everyone wants to do once in a while, have some rest and relaxation and time for myself. Was that so dishonorable? Apparently so! The grocery store girl can get away with it, but not me. Because, as has become very obvious to me, people need groceries, but they don't need what I give. What I provide here is considered a luxury, the ideas and ideals that could help you in life. But when I'm not here, they fall back to their jungle morals and skin alive any leader who seems to have more than they do yet fails to hover over their highchair like Mommy Dearest to shove each spoonful of pablum in their darling little mouth.

How the mighty have fallen! I know the taunt. I know the drill. Put it on a sign and march around my house, it'll last longer! Sheesh. What did I do that was so bad? Didn't feed The Almighty Blob! Well, here, feed on this for a while! There you are! Nuzzle in good and close! Oh, wait, you didn't kiss me goodbye. Here you go, kiss this! That's it! A feast for the eyes as well as the lips!

As for me, I'm going to lock my door and take a nap, thank you very much. And just in case you get ideas, I'll be sleeping with about five guns. And should I ever break this hiatus and come back -- and at this point I'm feeling newly emboldened not to -- you, my dear "friend" will be the last person I'll invite back. Keep your distance. You're not wanted in these parts. None of you are!

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Hiatus Could End

I'm saying the hiatus could end. Note the emphasis on the word could. I can't say it will end, because I simply don't know.

It may be too late. I let my mind go to pot. I wrecked all the goodwill I built up over the years at this blog, with the newsletters, and the friendships people thought they had with me in the real life visits. I burned too many bridges and now I'm afraid I've made too many enemies.

Yet I can't help thinking that some of you, many of you, maybe, will understand, and maybe come flocking back. Could it just be false confidence on my part to think that you'd give me a second chance, a chance to make it right?

I know I acted like I was being put upon by the responsibilities. That's true. But when you go from nothing to sitting on top of the world, sometimes a guy gets dizzy at the heights. And you know I went from zero to 100 in about 10 seconds. I'm entitled to go crazy once in a while.

So I took a hiatus. I withdrew. I let the world go by. I threatened permanent retirement. I turned my back on you. I made a shambles of things and I didn't care.

I stood in the center of the half acre on a particularly stormy day, with lightning crashing all around, and called on God Himself to strike me dead if I'd done wrong. I challenged Him. The rain is streaming down my face, I'm looking up with pure defiance. Again, lightning is crashing down everywhere.

Maybe you read in the papers what happened, although of course the papers didn't know about my part in this. About six homes in my neighborhood, a couple to the west, a couple to the south, and a couple to the east, were struck by lightning and completely burned down. The fact that I myself wasn't struck I took to be divine approval of my hiatus. And the fact that so many neighbors were now homeless I took as divine disapproval of any who would nay say my hiatus. Not that my neighbors themselves were naysayers, but in this interpretation they're stand-ins for those of you who were naysayers. (By the way, if any of you lost your home in a lightning fire, say, within the last two weeks, please think next time before you criticize.)

Let me hasten to disclaim any liability or responsibility for homes lost in lightning fires. This blog and the opinions expressed herein are for entertainment purposes only. By visiting this blog you agree to these terms. If you disagree with the terms, please leave now, but nonetheless know that when you were visiting the blog you automatically agreed to the terms. The terms being stated and agreed to, good luck with rebuilding, and please know that I am very sorry for whatever loss a relationship with me may have caused.

So, you can tell it's been a tumultuous time because of the hiatus. But I've been oblivious through a lot of it, and really thought I might be happier with permanent retirement. And like I said, my mind has gone to pot. I seriously don't know what I'd write about were I to come back. I could probably write about the strange conundrum of why the lightning didn't damage homes to the north. The north being entirely disagreeable to my nature, to think that just living north of somewhere else would be enough to spare you ... I could analyze that, except my mind has gone to pot.

OK, that's enough for the day. I will hold out hope. But please don't hold me to it. My mind -- whatever may not yet have gone to pot -- is toying with the idea. The more I think about it the more unlikely it seems. Could I come back? Haven't I destroyed all the bonds of trust? That's what's torturing me. Check that -- That's what's "enhancedly interrogating me."

Haven't I made my bed by everything I've said about the hiatus? I would be very shamefaced to come back now. Hi, it's me again. And everyone's booing. But don't they want me back? I don't think they do. But they might.

Good grief, I might come back only to be heckled back into hiatus. Then it would be a permanent retirement on someone else's terms. At least until my enemies were stricken. Or I could change my name and start again somewhere else.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Just Hiatus Humdrum

Tapping my fingers on the table ... checking the meat for freezer burn ... dusting the telephone ... alphabetizing the cookbooks ... pressing my aprons ... whistling ... this is getting dull.

Grandpa's got those nails in the garage in baby food jars and coffee cans. I could make sure they're not rusting. They could be. He's been dead almost 31 years. Some of those coffee cans might be antiques and worth some money by now. I saw one of them had a promo on it for Doctor Doolittle. Isn't he the guy who had a two headed llama? Antique stores might pay a pretty penny for that.

I went to bed early and got up late, so at least I'm accomplishing something, getting plenty of rest. I'm relaxing pretty much, very mellow. Slippers, housecoat, sipping some apricot juice. Nothing in the weather's got me upset. The phone hasn't been ringing. My mail has dropped way off since I've been on hiatus. Most of my readers have moved on.

Maybe I ought to go out to Walmart and see if they still have that 10 gallon jobbie. Maybe get me some fish. And some color gravel. If I did I think it'd be best to get one of those aerated skin divers opening a treasure chest. Adds some life to it. And of course the fish swimming around adds life too.

I'm planning on cooking a hotdog for dinner tonight. Probably need to check the expiration date on the relish. Hotdogs are easy to make. Brown them up, don't burn them. I'm sure they're pre-cooked. Where'd I get that idea? I wonder. What do they do, cook them at the factory? Maybe they go through a big oven on their way to the packaging center. But if they're pre-cooked how come there's no signs of puffing, searing, or anything? I don't know.

Maybe they meat's cooked before they press it into hotdogs. Like they take the animal meat, meat byproducts, and meat-like substances, mash it all together, and boil it. At that point it's cooked. Then hash it all up and form it in the classic hotdog shape. Then package them with no obvious signs of them having been cooked. We assume they're cooked. I know I've had them raw before.

They say if you've ever seen them made you'd never eat them. So I don't want my imagination to be too accurate.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Very Satisfying Hiatus -- Very Satisfying

Yesterday I was wistful about it, about certain things, but as the day wore on, dragged by, I felt my spirit reviving, and by the end had regained my characteristic perkiness. The dismal day could not change my essential character, which is one of perkiness.

I'm thinking in heroic terms about it. I the hero stand tall against the wistfulness of a downer day. One of the coolest things in heroic stories is where the hero is heroic even when he could take the day off. There are plenty of people who'd put their tails between their legs and slink off, in a manner of speaking; I'm not saying people have tails, although you've probably heard about the vestigial stuff about the tailbone and what it supposedly was for back in the days of Adam and Eve.

But getting back to the heroes, think with me of one of those stories where the hero is really offended. Someone offended his honor. Maybe dripped ice cream on the leather of his stagecoach. He's offended about it and says to the guy, "I demand satisfaction!" He wants to go head to head, toe to toe, in a duel to the death! I've seen shows where they even do that if someone whaps them lightly on the mouth with a hankie. "Now I definitely demand satisfaction!" So he kills the guy and rides off toward the sunset. And back then the sun always looked about three times as big as now, so he had to be brave, because it got pretty hot when you went west in those days.

Satisfaction. That's a great word. I'm sated, satisfied. Put that "-fied" on the end of a word and you're speaking of a process that has come to a completion. Snickers satisfies. That's a promise inviting putting it to a personal test. Check and see. OK, I'm unwrapping a Snickers, now munching on it. Umm-chew-good, very good. It is satisfying, at least I'm sensing something satisfying about it so far; the process is still underway. Now I'm down to the last little bit, one last bite, and in it goes. Umm-chew-good, very good. Swallow, and to the belly. Let me sit for a moment. Now I will walk around the living room. I've got a peanut in my teeth, need to pick it out with a pen here by the TV. OK, I'm ready to say, having eaten the Snickers bar, that, yes, Snickers satisfies. I am satisfied.

As far as my hiatus goes -- I am very satisfied, very satisfied indeed thus far. To be free -- completely free -- of all responsibilities as far as the duties from which I am now abstaining, that is a satisfying thought, and I have made the thought a reality.

It really helps, though, that I woke up with all kinds of an angry mood. I am angry at everyone who has put me down. I've been pushed, pulled, folded, spindled, and mutilated. I am angry at everyone who has ever told me what to do. I am angry at the machinations of those who think they know best. To do what? To stifle, to confound, to impose, and to block. I know I am right and I don't need to be told otherwise. When I know the truth, I know it. I'm not blocked from knowing it. I can glimpse in a flash exactly what the truth is about principles, ideals, bedrock stuff.

Being angry is also a very satisfying thing, very satisfying. And the longer my hiatus goes on -- put this in your pipe, please, and smoke it: I'm not ending this hiatus anytime soon! -- the more satisfied I hope to be. In that sense it's a process going on, though with satisfaction all along the way. I am very satisfied, and I hope to be very satisfied more.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hiatus Time On My Hands

Taking a hiatus has been the best thing I've ever done. Not trying to come up with things for the blog. Not putting out my members newsletter. Not arranging real life meetings. I'm just vegetating, nothing but time on my hands. To do whatever.

I went out and checked on the half acre. Actually walked around the entire perimeter, really happy to have my little piece of Earth right here. I know I'm not the center of the universe, of course, but it's a nice thought to think, No globe would be complete if somehow they left off this half acre. What? You'd have a little sunken impression on the globe? No man's land? That's ridiculous. Because it actually is here. I can look from border to border, then straight up, and know that from here to infinity definitely starts with here. So I'm being here now.

The thought of the half acre, just wandering it, puts me in a wistful mood. Too bad Grandpa isn't here to see me still here, haven't left. He wouldn't be too happy about Grandma's bad health, of course, but his wasn't much better, which he died from. I keep thinking if you just stay right where you are you won't die. But that doesn't make any sense. Because you have to leave sometime. I've been places that I've left and I'm still alive. Some places I needed to leave. Like if I left a building, then 15 years they demolished it, I can't help thinking, Good thing I got out when I did. I would've never lived through the blast. But for the most part it's true: If you're right there, you survive. I knew a young woman who died at 23; if she'd've been someplace else, it would've never happened.

I'm not a big fan of wistful moods. But I remember how it'd be out here with the cousins. Roto when he was a kid. The ones from out in Wyoming who came every year. We'd be messing around with the crawdads over by the tree, pumping the well, messing around with the outhouse, watching Grandpa mow the yard, posing for pictures. Now Roto's out in the country and I don't see the Wyoming bunch anymore. They're married, I guess -- maybe divorced -- and have grown kids and grandkids. Who knows? Maybe a few of them died. They have grief in Wyoming. Must shake off wistful mood. Wistful me goes downhill fast.

Maybe that's why I got into everything that now I'm taking a hiatus from. I need something to occupy my time. Tons of ideals. Ideas. Insights for the masses. They're looking for a guy like me out in the bush. The local man. A Brian the Hermit kind of guy. To send the signal for all to gather, to take back our proud land from the conquerors. To warn of the dangers of the North, of Skidrow, of fly by night carpet stores. To invoke dreams of free women in red convertibles. And everything else I weighed in on. But no, must enjoy myself on hiatus.

I could go out and throw dirt clods. And study their aerodynamisticity.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Next: Maybe A Yearly Hiatus

I'm always thinking, What comes next? I know that's a nasty way of thinking, since it takes away the joy of this moment, the whole satisfaction there is in savoring what you have. Who hasn't thought of how nice it might be to just put off tomorrow till it gets here? Or next year?

You see it when you watch the World Series or the Super Bowl. The winner isn't off the field yet before the announcers are wondering if they'll be able to repeat next year because three or four star players will be gone. It makes you want to scream, Let them enjoy it for five minutes, always popping everyone's bubble like that. But our brain seems to be designed just like the dog's. A dog can't savor its food; it just wolfs it down as soon as possible, because somewhere in its mind it knows another dog will get it.

(If I'm saying a dog "wolfs" down its food, shouldn't I just use the wolf as my example? And anyway, the plural of wolf being wolves, it seems like the same rationale would apply to the word used as a verb, making it, "A dog wolves down its food." Seems like it, but you only hear it the other way. I saw the opposite of wolving one time. I gave a pork chop to a dog who must have thought he was civilized. He sat there looking at it in his bowl, then looked up at me like he wanted me to leave before he did the nasty business of wolving it down. I never saw a dog hesitate with food like that before or since. Well, in a flash, a cat darted out from the bushes, grabbed the chop and disappeared around the garage. The dog looked at me like, Whot hopponed? I hadn't cooked the pork chop for him, of course, but since he was so sad about "That Darn Cat," I went and fixed him another one. I like my current dog's style of eating more. She wolves down the food in midair and the bowl is still clean. She vents a tiny burp and that's the meal.)

So the question, if put to me, of What Comes Next? about the hiatus I'm taking from this blog, is not a welcome question. Please, let me enjoy the time off, at least five minutes. Because I don't really know what comes next. It could be -- if I ever start enjoying myself -- who knows? -- I might take a yearly hiatus. Or maybe I won't come back at all. I could do the whole Enoch thing, go for a walk and just never come back. Or maybe I will be back. I didn't start this hiatus with the thought of permanent retirement. But I might permanently retire. We just don't know.

Remember, Johnny Carson took 15-20 weeks of vacation every year. Then he permanently retired and immediately died. So, let that be a lesson to you. You might see me back here. Or maybe you won't.

UPDATE: It might be critical that I come back. I checked around and I can't find any other story like this one about The Dog, The Cat, and The Pork Chop. None of our national blogs seem to have one. It's just the lowly "Local Man" who's able to recall such an incident. That story is now preserved, but who knows how many more great stories might slip through the cracks? This will give me something serious to think about as I consider how long my hiatus will last or whether I will go permanently into retirement.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Hiatus Health Update

No, no, no, I haven't got a life-threatening illness, disease, or syndrome that is the real reason for my hiatus. But if I did have such an illness, that would be great reason for a hiatus, because I would need time to battle my way to full health, enduring a grueling regimen of applying various salves from the Mexican black market. You may say I'm "stuck in the '80s" for saying this, but believe me, there's nothing quite like the horse medicine they've got down there.

I know where the rumor that I have a life-threatening illness started. I mentioned how I get these terrible olfactory hallucinations, which means I smell things that aren't there. Or I'm smelling what's there, it just smells differently than it used to. It's like a dog's hearing with a greater range of frequencies. There's a way to help your dog, by the way, but it's expensive; someone actually markets a collar with a graphic equalizer, so that's progress. But ... getting back to me ...

I also said it's possible that I have a brain tumor, because that's one of the known causes for these smell hallucinations. But now the whole situation is a lot better. I'm not having them as often or as bad. There's a couple possibilities. 1) I don't have a brain tumor; 2) The hallucinations are just something in my nose that's out of whack, like matted cilia. Or it could be that I do have a brain tumor and it's just not that bad a condition. I do have a theory.

My theory on tumors is not as well known as it should be. I looked it up on the internet but can't find anyone else advocating it. Briefly it's this, that there are two kinds of tumors, stationary tumors and free-floaters. The stationary tumor is the worst, because it abides in one place all the time, and all it has to do all day is eat and get fat. But your free-floaters are on a trajectory like a comet, and that motion is good. Only when they're close to your brain on their path, that's when cause the most trouble as a brain tumor. Then they move on and the noticeable symptoms naturally decrease, and for the most part you're OK. Even the sniffles you get from a cold is really, probably, just from a free-floating tumor, so tumors are quite common.

What I've been saying about my hiatus all along, believe it or not, is the real story. But since I'm not thinking very clearly today, for whatever reason, you'll need to read some of my old posts to see what I've been saying. I really don't remember. Please excuse me today -- and all through this hiatus, however long it turns out to be. Maybe it will indeed be full retirement. I haven't considered that yet, but now that I think of it, it doesn't sound like a terrible idea. I'm getting some dark spots in front of my eyes. My eyes are burning. I think it's happening, friends, that my free-floater is advancing up here somewhere on its path. I hope it doesn't slow down and stay.

The spots aren't terrible, but I can't keep my eyes open. There's some throbbing, nothing back here, all toward the surface. I need to knock off the blog now. I'm going to go sit under Grandma's grow lamps. That's some relief. I'm fine, I hope. Be patient. Must go.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My Hiatus Part Of The Master Plan

I've gotten a real outpouring of support from you concerning my decision to take a hiatus from this blog, as well as the newsletter and any possible real life meetings. I've frankly been very jittery over it, wrung out, running myself ragged -- all the rest -- and you know some of the reasons why. I set my mind to do this, I took charge, I put myself out front, and now it seems like I've been failing you.

Let me just put a little confession here out front. I've never told anyone this, but here I am spilling my guts this bright morning. Oh, man, I can't believe I'm about to say this. OK, here goes. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the drum majorette at football games. They usually find the tallest girl they can, a giantess, then put a hat on her four foot tall, and give her one of those big sticks to thrust in the air. She's as tall as the flagpole and kicks with the authority of a Thirty Ought Six, and it's something to behold. That's what I've been doing. I'm here with you, essentially the star of the show, the one indispensable element in the whole arrangement, standing tall, kicking with power, and now I've pulled back.

Of course there's some sadness in that. Can the show go on? It looks like maybe the show can go on, even though we're in a hiatus phase at this particular time.

For some of you -- only a small minority -- my hiatus is a problem. "Why don't you just get it together?" one discouraging note read. I believe he went on to call me "a drama queen," and threatened to take his patronage elsewhere, adding that there are a million or more blogs seeking followers, and new ones popping up everyday, and an estimated 99% of them were better than this one. And they don't spend their every waking moment complaining about their workload and the high personal cost that their labors exact on their sanity, equilibrium, and physical safety. To which I reply, "Well, la-dee-da for them!"

OK, sap! Go to one of those other blogs! See what I care! It's not for you, you scumbag, that I'm sitting here, even now with tears in my eyes, putting forth this effort! As stupid as you are -- ha! -- you probably can't read anyway, and no doubt needed your Mommy to write your scurrilous note! Didja?? And as for the statistical approach, yes there may be a million or more blogs and new ones everyday. There's also a million stars in the sky, each one a sun in its own right, but there's only one Sun close enough to do us any good. And as far as the blogging world goes, you'll never know which one of the million is putting forth the radiant beams. It's right here, nitwit! What a dim bulb. What a dweeb. Absolutely moronic. The kind of stupidity you can't make up. Sheesh!

Why don't you just get it together? That galls me. I also could ask him a few questions. Such as wondering why he doesn't just take a walk on a pier, if you've ever heard that one. It's an excellent question, designed to twist his little pea brain into enough knots that were they ever to untangle it they'd be left with not enough pea powder to make soup for a family of three ants for each to have a full bowl. I don't know. Drop it. Let the loser have his fun. Move on. I'll be the bigger man.

Most of the other notes I got I appreciated. You let me know you're hanging in there! And that's definitely something that cheers me. But one of the notes was especially sweet and is worthy of my fullest attention. It was a woman's handwriting, signed only "Love, J.B.," and, even though it was short, it was very encouraging. It came in the mail, I think, or maybe it somehow manifested itself out of the mist of the morning. It could have arisen from Mother Earth or it could have descended from the dew drenched hills. That's how good it was. In it, "J.B." was very sweet, telling me that she senses that my hiatus "is part of the master plan." As I think on that phrase I think of the ebb and flow of the tides. Or the way the Sun -- lord of the day -- sleeps at night. Nature itself speaks of a hiatus! "J.B.," you're in my thoughts. That's beautiful.

"Part of the master plan." So nice. Maybe she meant "part of the Master's plan." Either way.

Friday, April 17, 2009

My Well-Guarded Hiatus

After yesterday's post -- in which I both hit the heights and dragged the depths, and both embraced you all and kicked you to the curb -- I felt like I had it in me both to break my hiatus and make it a permanent retirement. Now that's what I call being torn! I'm a lot like da Vinci's famous spread eagle man, so busy flapping my wings and kicking my feet that I don't always know if I'm coming or going.

But it hasn't all been in vain. Because growth has been real, with lots of personal discovery -- for me, and I'm hoping eventually for you. I didn't know I could fly so high. On the other hand, when I crash and burn there's very little left to sweep up.

And that's where I am now, leading to this time of hiatus.

I've been a skyrider, like ghost riders in the sky; I've caught too much lightning barehanded and now I'm singed. I flew too close to the sun, dangerously close, and my wings couldn't take the extra, excruciating, unpleasant heat. I must have made a Faustian bargain with the devil that I don't consciously recall: "In exchange for these enhanced abilities we will meet again one day," he must've said. I rose above my station. I ascended Mount Carmel, Mount Sinai, Mount Molehill, Mount Moriah. I cried out to the gods, "I defy thee! Striketh thou me if thou musteth!" I raced through an impossible labyrinth and disappeared at the unknown nexus, the fabled vanishing point. Where vapors flare and quickly dissipate. My body became fire and I burned through my clothes, leaving me, again, like the da Vinci man.

Who wouldn't need a hiatus after that? I know it must be hard for you to understand, when you sit there all passive like a baby in a high chair with your mouth open, waiting for your mother's spoon. The whole passive approach I've never liked. Even when I was a baby I didn't like it. My mother would show up with a fresh diaper and I'd say, "Give me the d--- thing." Then I'd chew her out and say, "You know I can't walk yet! Next time get me to the d--- outhouse before it's too late! Sheesh!" I know it's never a popular thing to admit disrespecting your mother, but forgive me this one time. I'm just wanting to illustrate the fact that passivity and me don't get along.

That's probably part of this whole thing, why I crash so hard when it happens. I'm surrounded by baby bird readers, mouths agape, never mature enough to leave the nest. You're great at taking, taking, taking! What has Momma Bird got for me today, this very minute? Your hunger's never satisfied. If I gave you a Snickers you'd still have your mouth busting at the edges, hungry for something more, more, more. So something has to give! Whether it's this blog, the newsletter, our real life meetings, none of it's been enough, and that's been an oppressive weight on me for far too long. And how to separate you out, the sincere and compliant from the criminal and demanding, like Garrett Al ... this has been almost an impossible task thanks to the lies of the internet.

I mention him -- Garrett Al. What a loser. His lust was not for my mind -- which could've done him some good -- but my body. The real issue was with Garrett Al's mind. It's as worthless as a peach pit. If he would've only sought my mind, not my body, then he'd've settled down and flown right. But because his mind is so far gone, all he can see through is that prism of primeval lust, and that means there's no way back for him. They put him in jail for the night, perhaps a fitting punishment for the crime at the social level. But as far as I'm concerned, the crime never dies. And I won't say exactly what I'll do if he shows up at my door again. Just let me say that Grandpa Slump did believe in the Second Amendment, and I feel more secure now knowing the full extent to which he did.

So that's where my hiatus stands as of right this minute. I'm taking a well-deserved break, while standing guard. And in rare moments of relaxation -- when I'm able to shake off the exhaustion for a second -- I'm trying to think of ideas and principles to share with you, my beloved readership, to try once again, likely in vain, to satisfy your needs. But right now I cannot do it. I must not even try.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Think Of Hiatus As My Canteen Time

My mind is overwhelmed with cliches about pressure cookers, the breaking point, crawling through the desert, stress being public enemy number one, and the dark night of the soul. My mind's abuzz with a thousand clamoring voices and I can't turn it off.

It's all craziness but, yes, I know you're out there. I have you to deal with and I have me to deal with. I'll start with me. I am of course a goal-oriented person, very task-oriented. I make a resolution and I want to achieve it. I took on the responsibility of this blog and the newsletter and I take my responsibilities seriously. I want to present ideas and insights so they'll be out there. There is some value in that to me as the person doing the thinking, then setting it forth. And like I said, I have you. I know that you could, possibly, conceivably get some good out of my insights and ideas, and, if you're lucky, achieve some measure of equilibrium from having shared them.

Some of you no doubt are reprobates, set apart for certain destruction whether by a destiny not of your own choosing or, worse, through your own obstinance and unwillingness to yield. If you are in that category, my writings are not for you. You are too far gone or are incapable of changing, of growth, so nothing here will make any difference. Even though I say that, I don't think very many of you are in that category. Rather, I feel it likely that most of you are among those who could step it up, achieve your dreams, and reach for the highest things.

It is for those who are reaching for the highest things that I feel compelled to put forth these deep ideas, ideals, and insights. Believe me, I'm not writing for all the money I make on Google Ads. Those do of course bring in quite a bit of income, and I'm getting very comfortable with all the added luxuries I'm now able to afford, but that's not my main interest. If it were just the money I could stop writing right this second, leave all my posts up just as they are, and simply cash the checks they're generating everyday. Like residuals. Because seekers will be hitting those articles till the end of time. But that's not my thing, material riches.

I feel compelled to keep on here because you've gotten to a certain level -- we have together. And if I leave you hanging, anything could happen. You could go the wrong direction. You might even deny the progress you've made and give up. Then what? I would hear the statistics, that admissions to insane asylums have suddenly spiked, and I would know in my heart of hearts that I had something to do with that. And there you'd be. And here I'd be, imagining you at the asylum window, holding the bars of the window, a forlorn look on your face, howling at the moon, barely able to answer questions at the social interaction and self esteem classes they'd have you in every afternoon. Yes, I know about the free potato chips and those little ice cream cups -- and canteen time, during which you may buy soda pop for the reduced price of 35 cents a can -- but even those amenities surely wouldn't make it entirely worthwhile.

I've met some of you in our real life meetings -- and I know how needy you are, and not just the kind of fleshly needs like Garrett Al had. Which were pathological. In his case he had the weird instinct to procreate but it'd gone entirely wacky. I'm a man! How could Garrett Al expect me to have his baby? It's absurd. Anyway, I know you from the meetings, a few of you. And I know what you've written in about the newsletters and how my writings have touched you. I'm not a people person -- we know that. But that doesn't mean I'm not also touched in return.

Each of us is being prepared for something, some path, some destiny we don't necessarily know. And it's these kinds of insights that help "keep it real." But right now I'm emotionally exhausted -- physically and in every other way -- and I so desperately need a break. I do hope to be back. I do not want to leave you hanging. What I have started I want to see through. Getting it accomplished is everything to me. It's like clearing away the jungle to make a home. Sometimes the more you hack the more hopeless it seems. But if you don't keep hacking the hopelessness is assured. Somehow Tarzan did it, and I believe we can too!

But now, in these moments, friends, I very much need this rest, this hiatus from my responsibilities. Therefore, you will not be seeing me here as much, for a while. Let's not say Goodbye, but let's just say, Hors d'ouevres. And if it's helpful to you, just think of this hiatus as my canteen time. To your way of thinking, as far as you're concerned, I'm just stepping out for soda ... and possibly a candy bar ...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Case For Hiatus

It's seriously weighing on me, my grounds for taking what I believe is a very well-deserved hiatus versus the needs and desires of others who question and pick and "seek clarification." At some point I need to ask, "Am I not free to do as I please?" Apparently not.

One obvious response is simply to do what I want, what I choose, to bull my way through. I could do that. Just don't respond at all. Let it drift where it will go. Cut it off and leave a stump behind. Just pack it in and vanish in the night. I've thought of it, don't think I haven't. I'm at the individual level here, without a lot of employees and hungry mouths depending on my every move. But I am also a reasonable person, especially with something like this that really is my baby. I ought to respond in a reasonable way when I can without being overly prickly about it.

I will speak my piece and that'll be it. If there remains yet any objection, then we'll have to agree to disagree. More likely you'll go your way and I'll go mine. But at this point my thinking is that at least it will not occur without a clear statement of my principles and reasons.

I haven't said much about the real life visits I've had with some of you. But there's a principle concerning real life visits that seems to be true. And that is, Those who seek real life visits of people they meet online are more likely to be hopeless psychos than not. Note, I said "more likely," without giving statistics. I don't know the true statistics, of course, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were in the 99% range. The bigger surprise to me is that we are able to know anyone in real life without being jumped with a knife. And being propositioned. Oh yeah!

Now, I have my strict policy of not running anything I consider "blue material." So I won't be describing in any detail my experiences along those lines, except to say it's completely disgusting and reprehensible. I might sit there like la la la, but inside I'm dying. Please get out of my yard, out of my town, as far away from me as possible. Something like that.

There was one psycho and the guy ended up in jail for the night. Some people don't like the word no. He had been drinking. (I'll leave off his last name, Garrett Al ___.) Like Geritol. Sorry for the humor. I'm just glad I can kind of laugh about it now.

Long story short. We got together for one of these real life visits, big mistake. He brought along a bottle and a knife. I also had a knife and we were out whittling by the garage. It's a family custom to whittle while we visit, but those times were never with psychos we met online.

But too much drinking, and Garrett Al being a big amorous guy whose fantasies of meeting someone in real life had finally come true, and his having a knife were almost a lethal mix. When I said no everything went bing bang in his head, and I ended up with a cut on one hand. But he was at a big disadvantage because I know all the places where our lawn tools are leaning. I whacked him with a rake and called the police. My first prayer was, "Thank God for Better Homes and Gardens."

So see? I've been through the mill. I hesitate to mention any of this but every word is true. I'm even shaking right now just to think about it. He could've slipped me a mickey and I could've woke up in Vegas with Property of Garrett Al tattooed to my pelvis. It's crazy.

Anyway, let me have this hiatus -- I'm going to take it -- and I'll try my best to spare you the disgusting details.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Survival Demands A Hiatus

Friends, I've given and I've given, and, frankly, I am given out. I have nothing left to give. My very survival demands a hiatus from all this, and that's what I must take. I was left with no other choice.

I want you to know that I appreciate all your well-wishes. And other words of encouragement. Including one very encouraging, "Attaboy" that someone sent in. I don't know if he knew that Grandpa used to say that to me when I was opening birthday presents or not, but obviously it's a word that touches an important emotional place in my psyche, and so of course I was briefly overcome.

But what would the internet be without a few scurrilous knaves trying to ruin it for everyone else? So naturally I got a few discouraging responses, dissing me and my efforts here. They neither like nor appreciate me, it seems. One called me "clearly developmentally challenged" and ended his missive with several frightening death threats. Of course these are the ones that linger in my memory, much more than the encouraging ones.

I tell myself that's the price of being out there. If you just stay in your shell, no one notices you. But if you have things to say -- and a spirit brimming with insights, as I have -- you feel like you cannot be contained, no matter how many brutes and bullies you have to pass by. It's a lot like what we had to face in school. Organized gangs right there in class making careful note of who raised his hand and who didn't, then beating up the more studious among us. I was bullied into silence from first grade up. It wasn't till college that I offered my first peep since kindergarten, and I have to tell you, it was interesting to finally hear what my voice sounded like in a classroom setting.

So I came here, but now I have to pull back. Not because of bullies but out of sheer exhaustion. I've been plumbing the depths, going deep into realms of intellect both natural and supernatural. That's not an easy thing. Then add to it the strain of putting out my newsletter as well as the real life meetings. I thought I was a people person, but it turns out I'm not really. Let's not do that again. I've been yawning ever since. That means I don't like doing something.

Please let me have this hiatus and spend it in peace. Let me try to get a grip. I promise I will do my best and not let you down.

Much Revealed Before Hiatus

I'm surrounded by drinks. I have a nearly full glass of milk, about 3 inches in a glass of orange juice, and a full, big cup of coffee that was freshly ground. I have them here at my desk like buttons on a dash board. With my keyboard and screen being like the pedals and steering wheel. The milk and orange juice are over here on my left like Paul and George, respectively. And the coffee is on my right like John. That's a lot of drinks!

These are the kinds of details that probably should be kept private. But something compels me to shout them from the rooftop. It could be that there's a little exhibitionist in all of us. Even someone like the bearded lady has the compulsion. The skinniest man, the fattest lady, gorilla girl. I went to a sideshow once that had an 80-year-old woman in a leopard spot bikini and another guy putting needles through the flab on his neck. One of these made me feel faint.

If they can do it, what's going to keep me down on the farm? Have I not feelings too? Am I alone to stew privately in my own juices, forcibly contained by the dictates of ritual purity and family pride? If there's bloodletting to be done -- and our species craves the deed -- wouldn't mine run as deep and red as any other man's? I've set myself up to strut with the best of them. Of course I do it at my level, as any man must. For, as has been revealed, I am the local man. I do the deed at the local level, on my own sod, within my own tiny castle.

Over the years I've revealed much. But now it's time to pull back. Those posts -- if studied -- would fill in many of the blanks, answer many questions about my life, questions, perhaps, you never knew you had. But as you dig, as you explore, the answers will come in quick procession. So that you could say, This thing is true of him, or, This thing is false. I've definitely done my part! (I've overdone it!) Now, somehow, you're going to have to make it on your own. You might yet luck out -- I can't promise it -- and I will be back. Or it might be worse than I originally stated; my hiatus may become permanent retirement. What more can I give? We shall see!

But know this, I really don't want anyone to feel frustrated. Or that I'm being abrupt. Of course I have love for each one of you. If it seems like I'm being selfish, then so be it. But soften it a bit. There's an instinct for self preservation in all of us, and that's all I'm doing. Because I can't be expected to be here all the time, putting these things forth. That would be too much for anyone, including me. Unfortunately there's only so much of me to go around. And when it's gone, it's gone. It's like a rummage sale, quickly picked over and difficult to restock.

Anyway, there's no reason to be dreading the future in such a dramatic way quite yet. I've only been on hiatus -- what? -- two days, this is the third day proper but only the second full day. So that's 2½ days, not very long, certainly not long enough for despair to completely take over. Anything could happen in the next month, or year. I could catch up on my sleep, I could be completely recharged, I could meet a special someone, I could win the lottery. There's no telling what might happen. And in a negative way, too. The brain tumor that I fear I have might actually be there and I'll be gone. They might medicate me and drive away my spirit. I could be a zombie, staggering around the half acre and peeing on fence posts.

The key thing is to give me my space. That's all I'm asking. Let me take this hiatus and see what happens. If I'm back, hooray! If it stretches out and becomes full retirement, then find something in that to brighten your life as well. The thought of retirement is something I like. You get to have a cap with fish hooks and lures on it that says you're retired. And there is a very special license plate for the retired, but I can't remember what it says.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

My First Full Day Of Hiatus

It's Easter Sunday. Perhaps there could be no greater day than Easter Sunday to rest from my blogging labors. I didn't pick it like that; it just happened by happenstance, but who knows, maybe it was destined, or at least an unconscious thought in my mind guiding me toward this decision to set the blog aside and go on hiatus. To leave the tomb, as it were, and ascend on high toward a more paradisaical place called "time off." I have entirely left behind this body of death and have been translated into the kingdom of retirement. Free time. To kill time. To make quite an ado about nothing except killing time. To have time off. Time for myself alone.

I know the decision came to me suddenly. But it's just as I said yesterday, I've known it for a while: "I've known it for some time. I knew it weeks ago," were my precise words. But weeks ago I hadn't yet made the decision. Weeks ago I hadn't even knowingly thought of taking this much-needed break. In fact, when I look back weeks ago, I was right in the thick of it, in the midst of the excitement of Old Faithful. There was no real thought of taking a break then, a breather, as I now have taken. And think about it, those were overwhelming days; if anyone needed a break, it was me, but I kept right on chugging along. Or, as the old song has it, I "kept on chooglin,' chooglin', chooglin'"...

I probably shouldn't have "kept on chooglin'" through it all, but I can't really say I regret it that much now. Because the things of those days also seemed right at the time. I can look back in hindsight with the best of them, believe me, but I know how little regrets are good for, because you can't change the past. The key thing is what you do with regrets. You make them productive by projecting them into the future. That is, you consider that you will regret the things coming if if you do them, so you don't do them. That is when a hiatus is demanded!

A hiatus is like a tourniquet on an arm seeping blood; the time to staunch the flow of your precious lifeblood is now before you're completely on empty. And one other illustration, not to belabor the point too much, comes to mind -- a similar figure -- how you can't drive a car on empty for very long. For as we all probably know, without proper fueling, constantly topping off your tank, you can't go far, because fuel is the very lifeblood of your vehicle.

I've been working harder than I should be. To be constantly expected to come up with examples for things like that ... it wears on me. And without a breather, a hiatus, I'll continue to be worn out, dried out, worn ragged, and will barely be able to surmount an honest effort even to stagger to a collapsing point near the finish line. I'll be waving the white flag of surrender long before that terrible point. Like today, or yesterday. Yesterday was when this important step was taken, when I announced my hiatus.

Now I am into the first full day of my break. And it's going great so far, with very few regrets. Please understand. It's not that I don't want to be here. It's just that I can't be. I need to have this time off. Perhaps it won't be forever. I can't make promises.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I'm Going On Hiatus

Well, dear friends, I suppose you knew it would eventually come, and now it has. The time when I need to pull back a little -- and I hope I get back to it -- and take a breather.

I've been writing this blog faithfully for some years now. Really, it's been a joy. Didn't we rock and roll!? We sure did! LOL, I'm thinking back over some of the gettin'-down here. It's been a blast. A few of you pitched in, and that was good.

And we've grown. I know I've grown. Before I was so shy I really couldn't warm up to any of you. You came around, signed up for my newsletter, then I heard from several of you, letters of encouragement, interesting stuff. There was a couple of real life meetings that went from guarded to awkward; let's not do that anymore. Keep it at the newsletter level -- or just the faithful reader level. I believe I kept it real.

The big problem with real life meetings is ... well, there's lots of problems. My life as seen through the squeezed lens of short blog posts seems thick and rich with excitement and wonder. But when you get to the humdrum of day to day, minute to minute activities, it's not really that great. And the people I met, while they meant well, weren't much better at carrying on a relationship beyond the initial excitement of our meeting. We do a lot of sitting and a lot of personal scratching in these parts and that doesn't translate in company.

But I don't want anyone to think I'm disappointed in you. I'm not. I'd just rather keep things, like I said, at the newsletter level. And now, to be brutal about it, not even that. I need a break and I'm taking one.

Maybe Grandma and I will do some traveling. Maybe we'll take in a few shows. It's her golden years, and I'm getting a little silver myself around the temples. We need to take our time while we have it. Because you know there's another hiatus out there waiting for us all! I mean death. That's the big one. So what you're going to do, you need to do quickly. Time is not waiting. And I can prove it. I made coffee today and it took about seven minutes. Had to rinse the pot, grind the beans, heat the water, mix and stir, then wait and pour. I thought, Wow! Seven minutes of my life is now expended on that very simple task! And I'm expected to go pour my guts out on my blog as well? Which will take me around 20 minutes, plus maybe another 10 minutes editing? Then work on my newsletter? Then decline a few real life meeting requests?

So you can see it's all weighing on me. It's like the weight of the world. And on top of that, it's time to take my dog out. And I have to wait around for her to pee and do her other thing. All this time my life is wasting away. Of course I need a hiatus! The biggest tragedy is that I've waited this long to claim what I need; because I've known it for some time. I knew it weeks ago.

Anyway. This is a tough moment for me. But I want to make a clean break. I'll tell you like I'm telling myself, I'll be back. Let me get some R & R. And you do the same. Don't depend on me to live your life for you. OK? Step out. Live! Have some excitement of your own! You can do it! Promise me. And I'll promise you something, that I'll be thinking of you and all you mean to me. Each one of you is precious. And no one can take that away.

So, farewell. Grandma Slump blog, over and out. ... I'll just let it trail off like that.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Imagination #9

Number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9.

Cue the music, something metallic, rising in volume, with a piercing scream. Skidrow's national anthem pipes in with a police call and sirens. It's another case for the fly by night lawyer, Amestic D'Buse, to get his greedy little paws on. She pulled a knife on him. Both ran out just as everything started crumbling and dissolving.

In a bed on the upper floor, our lady of the night stuffs towels in bed holes to soften the springs. They make an impact. She has a masked man who says strictly, "Do not look upon me in my heat." That's getting technical. What's he got to hide? He likes it blue.

Respectable citizens cruise the entrance to this foul district, peeking down, wondering what there might be to see. Give me one good case of staggering and something reprehensible and I'll be happy. Maybe a mad drunk throwing a chair through a window. How about that pizza place?

I've imagined myself in that one dive, the last one out. Even the lowlifes knew enough to get out. I'd be bellying up to the bar just in time to get the call. "It's for you," and I'm like, Who Knows I'm Here? Then I hear his accusing voice from before, "I know where you go, and I know what you do there." No, no, no, it's my first time!

The neon sign at the fly by night carpet store flickers. Get that sucker fixed! It's pollution. It's mental anguish. It'll give me a seizure if I look at it twice. I wouldn't buy carpet from you. I'd be afraid to sign the papers. I won't sign anything.

What about the pizza from down the street? He kneads the dough like a strangler. With persistence. He's angry. It's rotty. It's scuzzy. He laughs with mania -- that's M-A-N-I-A, so sexy. The oven is open and shut, open and shut, fanning the flames.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The End Of My Imagination?

This is a tough one to write. I've wadded up and thrown away three false starts. I'm up pacing the floor.

I look at my clock clown above my desk, hung on top of my other clown, and see the time is speeding by. The ticking sounds loud. I was in the other room and thought I heard the constant drip drip drip of water somewhere. It turned out to be the clown clock making noise right through the wall. It's maddening and not helping a bit.

Have I reached the end of my imagination? It feels shot, spent, wasted, drained, annihilated, and obliterated. I could continue to do sociological and psychological analysis on my Skidrow obsession. But there's only so far that takes me. This is like a microbiologist looking at fleas in a microscope everyday. They're definitely worth looking at but not everyday.

I'm a little bummed out that I had to see Skidrow crumbling and dissolving. As much as I hate Skidrow on one level, it was actually nice to have it there. I can even envision Skidrow being cleaned up and becoming a tourist attraction. With big plywood pictures of some of its characters and a hole where tourist kids can stick their heads through. Make it fun. But think about it, there's the Skidrow type of person, and he or she would just end up somewhere else to make a new Skidrow, one that the tourists would avoid.

It takes a special kind of brazen person to actually go to Skidrow. And it takes a really creepy person to make it his permanent hangout. But for all that, you want it to be there. It's something you know about. It's something that everyone knows about and likes to peek at. I seriously don't know anyone who is truly disgusted about Skidrow at some level.

As for its crumbling and dissolving, I guess I can take some relief in this truth, that it actually does still exist, because the crumbling and dissolving I saw was only in my imagination. It really is still there. So that's some consolation.

Now that I think of it, why was I so bummed out just because my imagination had the place crumbling and dissolving? I think I got reality and fantasy mixed up! That's weird. But if anyone should know better, it'd have to be me, since I was the person doing the imagining! It does exist! I don't have to imagine it crumbling and dissolving! I can imagine it any old way I want! I can back up and see it not only still there, but thriving! How wonderful! It lives that I may peek another day!

The woman at the end of the bar. She never existed, so she's safe, not crumbled, not dissolved. The two guys playing pool. They don't exist, so they're safe. The same for the bartender. And the pizza guy. He's not the devil; he doesn't even exist. The bartender yet lives to mix drinks tomorrow and every day yet to come!

My imagination lives on! As good as ever!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Imagination Times Two

This is a beautiful situation. It all started with my first imaginary visit to Skidrow. Then I explored the experience from every conceivable angle. I was thinking that might be it for me. That time would be my only taste of glory. From that point on it'd all be commentary.

There would be a certain joy in that. To live vicariously through the experiences of others is time-tested and honorable. It's what the professional historian does. He has no life of his own. He relishes the history that others have made. And of course we know from psychiatry that psychiatrists are constantly troubled by transferring their emotions to their patients and trying, usually in vain, to live in a more exciting fantasy world.

As for myself, if I could have been a librarian or museum curator, I would have been very happy, tinkering with the works of other men or the artifacts of society and culture in general. That is a life of commentary, because it involves a lot of explanation of definite facts and some generally agreed upon theories. But it also allows enough leeway that any fool who's been on the job for a while can make educated guesses and impress the rubes during tours. So you're not entirely tied down.

I could be happy with that, as I say. But since all this relates to my first imaginary visit to Skidrow, which was my own experience, it seems like I would be selling my potential short by merely commenting on it the rest of my life. The obvious question would be: Why not multiply your experiences? Now, after yesterday, I've proven it can be done! Hence my second imaginary visit to Skidrow, which had an excitement all its own. A very special excitement!

I'm just now rereading it. Wow! I wrote that? The thought of everything crumbling and dissolving like that is awesome. Someone might say that's just wish fulfillment. That because I was forbidden by others and my own scruples from going to Skidrow, why not dissolve it to attain victory over the temptation of going there? I won't even going to listen to the suggestion. Skidrow, I will confess, gives me a lot of pleasure. It would be my wish, actually, that Skidrow were much bigger, as it'd give me that much more to wonder at, scold, and avoid. That wouldn't make it a bigger temptation. It's just like how I said I liked to ride by the jail and see the ne'er-do-wells hanging on the bars. It hasn't been the same since they moved to the new jail, took away the public aspect, and instituted strict privacy rights.

I will contend instead that Skidrow crumbled in some way to thwart me from enjoying it. But there is a more objective side to its crumbling that is unrelated to me. The people there know they deserve judgment. So the disappearance of the patrons -- the pool players, the bartender, and the woman -- shows that they have received a word on their judgment, and were wise to escape. This was their true ideal, you see -- they knew better -- but they waited until it was almost too late. I'm stunned at this fact, that these lowlifes knew enough to get out, while I -- this is amazing -- lingered there in ignorance. The way it worked out was such that it seemed like I was destined to survive. But you can't ignore the fact that the crumbling and dissolving took place while I was still on the premises. My fascination was there but not the same conviction of warning that they had. So in that way it did crumble to thwart me.

Now, once we got toward the end of the block we see the flipside of the bar patron's experience. This is the reprobate -- a symbol perhaps of the devil -- who knows it's all dissolving but stays right in the thick of it and even in some real way is responsible for its collapse. My own sense of what's going on in that scene is this, that the scuzzy pizza guy is indeed responsible for the block's demise. But it means that he himself will perish in the collapse. Interesting!

It's really quite the scene. He's "opening and closing the oven repeatedly and laughing." He knows the penalty and hastens it with his rash actions. His laughter shows he's out of his mind in opposition to all that is right and fair. Then I conclude with an interesting italicized "Somehow..." I don't know how he's doing it or even why. But read it again: "Somehow he is destroying the only world he's ever known, this block." Powerful. Powerful stuff.

I love that. "The only world he's ever known." Is he a normal person? Apparently not. If he were normal, wouldn't he have known some other world? He surely would have had parents who didn't live in the pizza parlor. Surely he would have gone to school, and perhaps loved or at least lost at love. How did he wind up as a cook in a pizza parlor? These are questions either to be left to mystery or to be imagined at some point in the future when I'm not quite as exhausted. The way, though, that I say it -- "the only world he's ever known" -- if that's not an exaggeration, and it doesn't sound like it is, clearly preludes his being anywhere else but Skidrow. Is he above history? Is he a symbolic representation of evil? It seems likely, because who among mortals could have such a thing said of him?

Well, I am tired. But I made it. We made it, together! And my first burst of imagination -- my first imaginary visit to Skidrow -- has now met its match, rather its partner with my second imaginary visit to Skidrow. Life definitely goes on ... and I'm loving it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Imagination Is Going Back In

Yesterday I had a very important choice to make:

Now I have a choice to make. Do I press on toward new imaginary ventures? Or do I fixate so firmly on the last one that my life becomes a shrine to its memory?

I've decided I have no other choice than to double down on that day, not exactly making it a shrine but giving it a special twist, by supplementing it and building on its glory. I think this is the best way for things to work out, because it both pays tribute to my imaginary visit to Skidrow and renews the visit's promise on another day.

Let me hasten things along to save time. At this moment I'm going into a trance. There. It is achieved.

I'm now driving toward my destination. My heart is beating as I approach. I can see the last vestiges of respectable society, businesses that have no reason for shame. They sit on the square as ladies and gentlemen would sit, aware of their natural propriety. But off to the northwest -- ah, there it is -- I see the openings of that block. Here is where I usually drive by slowly in order to peek down it to see if anyone's having troubles. Occasionally you'll see someone stagger or pounding on a parking meter. It's not my desire that people suffer, but it's always good to have someone of high morals observe and reckon it to their account. That might sound holier than thou, but in this present trance, a very heavy one, I am less able to censor my thoughts.

I'm adrift in thought. I hope I'm able just to type this. Yes, fingers on the home row. Everything before me is going slowly. I'm reticent to turn on that block because I know the teaching I got growing up. This block -- Skidrow -- was forever spurned except for peeking.

OK, I'm turning down the street now. Again, the film, as it were, slows to a snail's pace. I'm able to discern the looming buildings with their sordid past. I think once again of the sociology of the lower class losing their stake at the upper class saloon and winding up down here. To plat out their dismal future of pool halls, saloons, brothels, fly by night carpet stores, scuzzy pizza parlors, bail bondsmen, and shady lawyers. The buildings ache with a dreadful history. It's a burden they can't shuck.

I pass the alley and note the garbage can tipped and garbage strewn about. Someone must have been looking for a used needle. To suck off whatever drops of moisture from the drug that everyone else might have missed. The wind back there has trapped a few wads of paper which swirl in a corner.

I'm especially eager to reenter that bar. I get to the front door. It seems to be locked but just a jiggle of the knob allows me to enter. There's no sign of life. But the pool table is just how I left it the other day. Some smoke still drifts around the light but there's not a soul in sight.

I look around. The bartender isn't there, but his wet rag is still on the bar. At the end of the bar, the woman isn't there either, but there's a fresh drink is on the bar as though she just now left it.

I'm in a mental stir at the thought of this. Where'd everyone go? I'm stunned to hear a sudden cracking sound. I look up and rafters are splitting and disintegrating. The bar itself is dissolving. I'm running for the door even as the floor is giving way behind me. Outside I run across the street to my car, as the entire block called Skidrow is caving in, crumbling to dust.

In my car, I gun it. But in the present slow motion movement, I'm barely moving. Fast enough, though, to avoid any judgment. Toward the end of the block I see the scuzzy pizza guy, opening and closing the oven repeatedly and laughing. Somehow he is destroying the only world he's ever known, this block.

I'm shaking my head now, the trance being shaken off. Isn't it remarkable how the people knew enough of their predicament to escape? They were like birds, able to turn without planning it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Very Special Imagination

Already, the other day is quickly becoming the past, and as the past, it's no longer fresh in my mind. I'm very busy, hoping to document the details of it before it completely fades from memory. I might need to skip the next few days entirely just to dwell on it in order to accentuate its features more and hopefully keep its memory alive.

Of course I'm very happy that I had that time of imagination; I'm talking about my imaginary visit to Skidrow. But how to preserve and rightfully commemorate it, that is my struggle at this time. For it's those special times that make life worth it, times of inspiration and decisiveness, times of insight and the mind's grandeur. Not like ordinary time. You think of ordinary time and what is it? Solitaire and eating apricots? Stoking the fire? Bringing in the mail? A glass of water? Barely a fit memory in the bunch!

Let's say the next few days are ordinary days. If I take those days and dedicate them to memory of the other day I might keep it closer. Like by studying and making note of that day. What I ate. How I was sitting when the inspiration hit. What the weather was like. How freely the inspiration flowed. If I knew everything about it -- which I will seek to know -- then I might more likely be able to repeat it when I look at the present and see the same conditions. Today's not one of those days. That's why I'm lurching from topic to topic, barely able to find the right word. But that day -- we'll call it inspired -- I was in the grip of something powerful, really thinking the thoughts that are not ordinarily given over to men.

Am I proud of that day? Am I proud of that piece? Well, I do feel proud, but let me back up a minute. Even more I feel humbled, just as I said a moment ago, that I was in the grip of something powerful, and, therefore, wasn't even really myself entirely. I was the tool of higher forces that seem like they were going to have their way whether I was the instrument in their hands or someone else. To be chosen like that, then, is a humbling thing, leaving our ordinary feelings of pride very far behind.

Also, I've paid something of a price for that day. I don't know if you've ever had a day like that. But one thing that happens is that you want to recapture it. You want to remember it in such detail, and preserve it to such an extent that you even seek to give up living in the present moment. You become very past-oriented, to the extent that the precious experiences of life in this moment are wasted. You're always chasing that first high, as it were. And it takes more and more hours in the days following than ever were spent in that first moment. Like this thing with me, it seems like I ought to be able to recapture it very well; I have the same mind, the same heart. What's the hold up? The higher forces? Perhaps, but I'm thinking of them as really just another dimension of myself that is generally obscure. I'm not really thinking of them as higher forces, like some kind of little winged creatures bestowing imagination on me.

Probably what I should be doing is simply letting that other day be past. And instead of chasing its great high, be striving with my imagination toward other glories. With the idea in that being to make all time transformed, worthwhile. To forget the past, then, to remember it? No, not to forget but not to worry about remembering. To make this moment the time in which I excel, then to excel in such a great way that I need to spend three days worrying about this latter time rather than the previous time. I'll know it was worthwhile when it's something that blocks me as this time has, then has to be overcome.

Well, today was definitely a thought piece. And a necessary one. Now I have a choice to make. Do I press on toward new imaginary ventures? Or do I fixate so firmly on the last one that my life becomes a shrine to its memory?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Points Imagination Raises

I've been very focused, giving over my imagination to some of the details in the piece I wrote about my imaginary visit to Skidrow. It arose from my imagination and it provokes my imagination even further, so imagine that!

The men playing pool is only one part of the whole story, of course, as would be the woman at the end of the bar. They are all fascinating characters and we could develop the possible relationships between them. Do they know her? Probably. Have they perhaps developed or shared any deeper times of intimacy? It would be my guess that she hasn't been particular, nor have they. None of them sounds like he or she has maintained a strict sense of hygiene or kept their lusts under wraps. For them it's Live every moment to the max, you're just an animal anyway.

The setting is another part of the story. And I've just been rereading my original piece, reviewing how I set the scene, delving into, hoping to glean what we can from the hopes and dreams, then motives and actions of the various ones responsible for coming up with the block that later came to be called Skidrow. I think I have it exactly right, that you have to originally imagine the place as vacant. Back before there were buildings, like when the Indians lived in this area, you had just nature. Deer probably roamed these parts, rabbits, various scrub bushes sprouted up. Then came the white man, laying out his cities and towns. They started with the businesses you see in westerns, the saloon, the blacksmith, the doctor's office, the sheriff's office.

But if they had saloons, then that would lead to brothels, or at the very least, hotel rooms you could rent for an hour, and right there -- boom -- you've got the foundations of Skidrow. Let's envision it, though. What would make the district later called Skidrow susceptible to such naming? What are the sociological underpinnings to this? My theory would have to be its location in relation to the classier districts.

The classier districts would have higher rent, higher income, a more upscale clientele. But your lower class folks, people more into quickies and a knife to the gut, would have to go somewhere. So they're getting off the train, taking the main path to the classier districts, they lose their money in a card game, they still haven't learned their lesson, they're in a tailspin, they're thirsty, seeking female companionship, wanting to win back their stake, so where can they go? They seek out their fellow losers who've withdrawn from the higher class areas over to the lower rent digs. It's almost automatic; it's scuzzed out just that fast!

I'm coming up with some different conclusions, but these sound right. In my original post, recall, I seemed to have the builders and entrepreneurs building with a sense of ideals, with no apparent idea about what their district would become. But that might need to be nudged a bit. Who would know better than they the socioeconomic dynamics of classy and scuzzy? So you use a shabbier wood, shabbier building products, cut corners, keep it cheap over there, knowing those folks will always be with us.

It's like Skidrow would be the most predictable thing in the world.