Friday’s Theme Music

Just another fuzzy Friday. My I-don’t-have-to-work-day. My drink a cup-of-coffee day. Which makes it like every day, except the fuzzy part. It’s fuzzy with clouds and rain out there (yes — we like rain!) although a few degrees warmer (gonna be a struggle to reach sixty F today) would be appreciated.

This is May 21, 2021. May, and 2021, are storming past. The sun put some light in the sky at 5:45 AM and will take its gift of light and heat away at 8:31 PM here in the valley. The cats are quite ambivalent about it all, going out, coming in, searching for sunshine, hurrying from rain, sheltering from the winds that kick up, meowing at me to fix it before finding an inside place to retire for a few hours.

Thinking of what stage we’re at with the coronavirus, and what stage I’m at with different projects, dredged the ZZ Top song, “Stages”, up from 1986 memories into the active memory stream. “Stages keep on changing,” they sing, and they’re right. We’re at a stage with the COVID-19 crises where the mask guidance is changing, a stage where we’re waiting to see what’ll happen with variants and the vaccine, a stage where we wait to see if herd immunity can be achieved, a stage where we wait to see what the new normal will be.

Stay positive, test negative, listen to the music, wear a mask as needed, and get the vax. Cheers

Thoughts

I spent over twenty years in the military, 1974 to 1995. The Cold War was underway. The U.S. and U.S.S.R. and the allies of each were constantly ready to fight a war. Stationed in Germany for several years, we used to practice wearing our hazmat suits and gas masks, taking shelter as we were attacked. I did the same during war games in Korea and Egypt.

Wearing the suits and masks wasn’t fun. That experience rendered it much easier to wear masks during the pandemic. These masks over our mouths, attached to our ears, are much easier to wear.

I’ve just finished reading The Splendid and the Vile. This book by Erik Larson covers Winston Churchill’s first year as Prime Minister. World War II had begun six months before. The London Blitz began that first year, 1940. The tales of deprivation are stunning. Larson uses multiple sources to weave a narrative not just about Churchill, England, and the Blitz, but about Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, Hess, FDR, and the many people around Churchill coping with him, helping Churchill, and hunting for the way forward.

Imagine those times in the United Kingdom as bombers flew overhead through the night skies, dropping incendiary devices, and then bombs, feeling the ground shake with violence as buildings were shredded and people were killed. Imagine being one of those people in London and other cities, enduring as food and tea was rationed, gas, electric, and water services were interrupted, fighting fires, worrying about unexploded bombs if you survived the raid, then going to work. Imagine sleeping in air raid shelters in squalid conditions. Imagine the black-out demands where lights were left off, forcing all to stumble through darkness.

And so many here, in 2021, complain about social distancing. They won’t wear a mask, because fake news. Freedom.

They know nothing. They should have been in London or any of the other cities around the world that experienced these conditions. Then maybe they’d realize what sacrifice means. A mask? Six feet apart?

Really. It is nothing.

Wear the mask. Stay positive. Test negative. Get the vax.

Friday’s Theme Music

TGIF! Yes, it’s Friday, April 16, 2021. Sunset is expected at 7:53 PM in Ashland while sunrise took place over thirteen hours before, at 6:29 AM. Summer’s shoulders are crowding into Spring’s thing as temperatures this weekend are expected to jump into the 80s. Controlled burns are underway around our small town. Smoke scars the blue sky and the burnt-wood smell lingers, an unpleasant reminder of past wildfires, and the ongoing threat.

Are you one of those who said, “Thank God it’s Friday”? I definitely am. I think that with so many people saying it, happy for the weekend, it lifted our collective energy. Still gives me a jolt although Fridays have much of the same flavor as most days of the week in these days.

“Name” by the Goo Goo Dolls (1995) came to me yesterday. I was in the car, waiting for my wife. She’d gone into a store to pick up two items. I wasn’t interested in going in. As I sat in the car, watching people going in and out, waiting in cars, etc., I remembered the song. I first heard it while on temporary duty in New Hampshire, visiting a satellite tracking station. The song always struck me as about anonymity, about being a person in a crowd of people where no one knows one another. Not a party group, but people going about the business of life.

Anyway, the song stayed with me. I present it to you. Stay positive, test negative, wear a mask, and get the vax. Cheers

Going-out Day

Going-out day was coming up. Just twelve days until they would toddle out to re-discover the world.

He thought, what should I do about my beard? He played with it during the thirteen months, twice shaving it off to begin again. No matter. It wasn’t the beard that dissatisfied him but the foundation underneath it. The sagging on display. As for his hair…oh.

She brought out her clothes. Examination of style and fit was conducted. Her shoes followed. She thought about what to do with her hair. A lot could happen to hair in thirteen months.

They made tentative plans. Cautious. Visits to new old places were broached. Small dreams of where they could go and what to do were nurtured. They would still wear masks. Of course. Wash hands. Avoid contact. Socialize outside.

She marked her calendar. Hairdresser. Dentist, hard times in cautious ink on the calendar, the first mark on its fresh pages. He planned a day in his mind. Beer with friends. He’d not seen them in thirteen months, except one of them. Two who were there before would not be there.

A lot of life happened in thirteen months. It was a heavy weight.

Wednesday’s Theme Music

Hello! Welcome to another edition of ‘Wednesday’s Theme Music’. Today is March 10, 2021. Skyorb rise was at 6:32 AM. Skyorb set will be at 6:12 PM. After dipping to 32 degrees F during the night, the outside temperature has bounced up to 39 under a flat gray sky. Wet surfaces glisten and shine outside as pine and oak trees peer out of fog banks a few hundred yards up the mountain. Rain looks imminent.

Music today comes by way of writing efforts yesterday. After writing, I was out on a walk, thinking through where the story was and the paths it was following, formulating the tactics for picking up the paths and taking them forward. After a time of this, satisfied with my decisions and directions, ready to turn home because sunrise was a few minutes away and I was a mile from home, Van Halen’s “Finish What Ya Started” (1988) arrived in my mental music stream. I enjoy the riff that begins this song, and how the song builds off it.

Stay positive — you know the rest. After a year of the coronavirus pandemic, you should, lessen y’all been hiding under a rock or sumpten. I’ll say it all anyway: stay positive, test negative, wear a mask, and get the vax. Of course, once you get the vax, some of the guidance changes for you, so stay up to date, ‘kay? Be smart. Stay safe.

Cheers

Somewhere in the Future

Somewhere in the future

I sit and read

various books written by me

I lounge on beaches

soak in the sun

drink wine and read

till night’s begun

I visit friends and families

hug them all hello

ask them how their day went

tell them how it goes

I visit restaurants and shop in stores

I run around the great outdoors

and if I want, I have a sit

whenever I want, until I quit

those days are possible

I know they’re coming

somewhere in the future

Stuck In Arsehold

I was stuck in Arsehold for the last two weeks. You may have experienced the same.

I’ve been writing a novel while locked away. That’s not so different from my normal life, where I’m always working on a novel. Many people think I’m working on one novel forever and a day, but I’ve finished many. I shrug them off; I enjoy novel writing.

I think under ordinary circumstances, this would have been finished a few months ago. These aren’t normal times, at least for me. I’m assuming a lot with those words. It’s sadly probably normal for quite a few people to stay locked up in one place, with limited contact for other people. I think of prisons. Nursing homes. Hospitals. Yeah, getting downright depressing, isn’t it?

Some say that such solitude is a gift. I’m not one. While I’m a solitary person, I like outside stimulation. (Sounds a bit naughty, doesn’t it?) Like to walk to clear my mind, shift into writing mode, and slip into the noisy solitude of a good cuppa coffee in a coffee shop, hunch over my laptop, and tap away.

All that normal-for-me isn’t available now. Coronavirus lockdown, you know. Although I have coffee and space, I also have wife and cats. They struggle with my writing boundaries. My wife tries respecting them, but news of the world sets her off. I also don’t try enforcing my isolation with her, as she’s in the same situation as me. She’s much more verbal, however, and craves other contact. While she’s dancing and exercising Monday through Friday via Zoom, and meets with her book club once a month with Zoom, and Zooms into a coffee klatch almost every week, she likes expressing her opinions and insights vigorously and out loud. There’s usually a lot of swearing involved, too. She’s quite passionate about social justice, equality, human rights, and women’s rights. She also hates Trump and has little respect for most other Republicans. So I try to indulge, but then I suffer. Either way, one of us must suffer in our situation. We get over it, but it’s not ideal.

The cats, however, don’t give a damn that I’m writing, reading, playing a game, sleeping, eating, showering, or sitting on the toilet. Three cats share ownership over me. They have their own secret agendas, which surprisingly, often involves me. Part of that is which cat owns the most of me, and whether that’s acceptable to the other cats.

Between wife, news of the world, the coming and going of the muses, and the cats, novel writing progress has been uneven.

But I persevere. Sometimes, the worse interruption is by me to myself. Self-doubt. Imposter syndrome. General malaise. It struck hardest in Arsehold.

Arsehold is a place in my novel, wholly made up. I came up with the name months ago, a whim that made me laugh. I stuck with it, creating the setting around the name, devising the history of how it came to be. Yet, my characters struggled to get through Arsehold. I naturally responded, per my proclivities, to overanalyze what was going on and why, attempting to seek the root of my issues. I thought it might be the general tone. Perhaps some of the introduced characters weren’t clear enough. Maybe, maybe my characters shouldn’t be in Arsehold. And what happens after Arsehold?

Writing helps me think by creating a funnel through which I must focus. With all this mental flaying, I did a lot of writing about the novel in progress, addressing the concept, characters, story, plot, locations and settings, etc. Eventually, I took all the assembled material of the novel in progress, one hundred twenty-five thousand words, and began reading, editing, and revising, putting the story into the order that I think it’ll be in published form.

That helped. By the time I’d reached Arsehold (almost sounds like a song lyric — I can hear CCR doing stuck in Arsehold instead of Lodi), I’d discovered that the errors that I thought I was seeing weren’t there. It always scares me to think or say, hey, this is pretty damn good, about what I’m writing, but that’s what I concluded. Of course, it’s my work; if I didn’t think it was good, maybe I should be working on something else, right?

Anyway, I think I might get through Arsehold this week (knock on wood, he said, tapping the side of his head). Got my coffee; time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Tuesday’s Theme Music

I’ve hit that COVID-19 wall. Again.

No, don’t have COVID-19, haven’t tested positive, etc. Just slammed into the wall. Built of stout same ol’, same ol’, reinforced with tedium, overlaid with boredom and frustration, the wall is a staunch mutha. “I want,” my mind screams like a hungry wailing infant. I want something different today. I want a road trip. I want a beach! I want a coffee shop, solitude, and privacy. I want something different that’s something old, something borrowed, something new.

Sounds like I’m getting married.

“Shake It Up” by The Cars plugged into the scene. Released in 1981, it’s a poppy techno-rock hybrid. I need the sentiment today. Shake it up. Change some damn thing. Break the tedium structure.

I want to tell you, stay positive, but hitting this wall today, I don’t feel positive myself, so it’d be hypocritical of me, right? But I’ll encourage you anyway (and meself), stay positive. Test negative. Don’t do anything crazy because you want to shake it up. Wear a mask.

Cheers

Tuesday’s Theme Music

I went with an old familiar from David Bowie and Queen today. Queen’s Freddie Mercury is gone, along with David Bowie, unnecessary reminders about our final destinations.

They made their marks, though. Thanks to technology, solace can be had by listening to their performances again and again.

As today is election day in the USA (prompting some mental hearing of Alice Cooper and their song, “Elected”), but “Under Pressure” (released in 1981) seems more of a fit. Sadly, that’s because Trump and his followers, abetted by the GOP, are working hard to create obstacles for this civic duty. Once upon a day, the United States had low turnout but the elections themselves were flawlessly executed. A lot of that changed with the hanging chads debacle in Florida in 2000. At least, such is where it seems to start in my mind, as the SCOTUS was called upon to interpret state laws, halt the recount, and declare a winner. Since then, campaigning and elections have become more contentious in the USA.

The nature of Trump’s campaigning and the attributes of his base have added to the pressure. Trump wants votes to not be counted, squalling like an infant over cheating that doesn’t exist, threatening to challenge results in court beforehand, obviously attempting to intimidate voters. Gun and ammo sales are up. The FBI is warning of the threat of violence from armed Trump supporters.

More pressure yet comes from COVID-19. Again, politics are in play. Republican led states are leading as COVID-19 cases climb. As cases climb, hospitals fill, but our healthcare system under greater and greater pressure.

That pressure comes atop the economic pressure instilled by necessary measures to flatter the curve. Experts consistently warned that a sizeable chunk of the US population is working poor, without emergency savings, living from paycheck to paycheck. All that was swept under the rug. Now, coronavirus has curtailed the service and consumer economy, and people are under pressure to have enough money to pay the rent and buy food.

Yeah, it’s a mess. All of that is just a tiny fraction of the mess we’re in – so many things weren’t mentioned because I didn’t want to go too ranty before my coffee – but it all adds to the pressure that we face in the United States, part of the pressure we’re facing in the world, making the Queen/David Bowie song “Under Pressure” my choice for today’s theme music.

Now I need to go see a machine about some coffee. Cheers

Floofinar

Floofinar (floofinition) – A group of advanced animals studying under a mentor with each doing original research and all exchanging results through reports, discussions, and flooflepathy.

In use: “When the novel coronavirus pandemic began spreading among humans in 2020, the Floof Exchange established a series of floofinars to understand the problem so they could help humans survive and recover.”

2. A meeting for giving and discussing information about animals, especially housepets.

In use: “As pets live longer, more floofinary hospitals and floof stores are conducting floofinars to help owners understand their mature pets’ needs.”

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