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This weekend I did a little preliminary packing for next weekend’s holiday. Normally I am excited in the running around as I gather together the books, shirts, and such  – but I was not. Today there was a sense of disappointment: I have a sad initiation the vacation will be a bit of a let down. Some of this is based on the weather. I hoped by delaying the trip to the end of February Palm Spring would have guaranteed sunny and warm weather. The forecast looks like it will be quite cold. I worked hard to get into shape so I could parade around in my foudroyant shirts and T-shirts (or in nothing at all) and it looks now like we will be under heavy winter wraps. p71 !  However there is a more philosophical elements to my down mood. I’ve been going on this annual holiday since the 90s. The original resort (Key West) is gone and most of the original gang have moved on or have disappeared.  We transferred to Palm Spring with fair success but even that is a-changing.  Some of our favorite restaurants have closed and some of our coterie won’t be coming.

I recently heard the short story “Mono no aware”. Mono no aware (物の哀れ)  is an expression that translates literally as “the pathos of things”. A friend of mine who knows Japanese tells me it can be translated as “an empathy or a sensitivity to the ephemeral element of things”. It is a term of awareness and acceptance of impermanence. MNA has a gentle sadness to it at things passing and the knowledge this is the reality of life. 

Having just heard about it for the first time, I don’t know how depressing or comforting the expression is.  Jack Gilbert’s poem “The Lost Hotels of Paris” reminds me it is the memory and not the thing itself that holds the most worth. 

“If you can’t have tradition, have an adventure” I tell patients when they are bereaving a situation different now that ‘X’ is no more. While I finishing packing this week I will do so with anticipation of reliving annual delights  but I will also try to be open to what novelty awaits. Aware of mono no aware and an openness to what happens, I suspect it will be a good vacation. 

journeys

A few months ago patient “D” announced she was traveling to Sweden. I wished her safe journey and please say hello to Pippi Longstocking for me. She didn’t know who that was so I had to explain my joke. Pippi Longstocking is a little girl in a series of books written by Astrid Lindgren of Sweden. Her books are considered ‘classics’ not only in her home country but internationally as well. I told D she might come across the braided red-head on souvenir stuff; look out for her why don’t you. I was curious to see if and what D would find.  

Last week in D came in for an appointment; she had brought me something. D pulled from her purse a piece of paper looking like monopoly money. It was a Kronor, the currency of Sweden. She had found Astrid and Pippi all right – on the money!

Today I got the bill framed for my office. Astrid Lindgren and Pippi will be smiling down at me now while I work. 

Sweden! What a country!  It holds its artists and writers in such esteem it honors them on its currency! Small wonder Scandinavia is such as happy place!  

Last week Princess-Goddess asked me via Facebook IM to contribute to her school’s fundraiser. I made a donation. Yesterday I received in the post a thank you note. Not only did she write to acknowledge my gift she wrote out in cursive a few lines about her plans for a science project.* A handwritten thank you note! I was struck speechless but this marvel. I wrote her back in longhand using my best stationary. i extolled her good manners and thoughtfulness. I enclosed 20$, passing it off as a grant for her science project but it was really a reward for outstanding behavior I was so happy. I want her to keep writing.

I am one of the fuddy-duddies who believes handwritten thank-you notes and letters are essential to character if not for civilization. In grade school I learned beautiful and thoughtful penmanship was as important as intelligence and character.  Our handwriting illustrates who we are; it is as personal as a fingerprint.

I remember as a boy being proud of my penmanship.It wasn’t fantastic but it was mine; it symbolized who I was. I remember having developed slightly different styles whether I was writing a letter or signing my name to a document. 

Handwritten documents have a sense of the personal. This is illustrated by my grandmother’s handwritten recipes on index cards. When I touch them I know grandmother had done so. One does not get this sort of intimacy from a fax or word document. 

Keyboards with their automatic spell checks and cut and paste editing do not hone skills that come from the cultivation of handwritten prose. Writing in cursive requires time and practice. It slows us down  to think while we write. It makes me shudder to think kids are  possibly not being taught cursive. Woe onto them who think so! They lose more than they realize.

There is a continual threat to the extinction of my careful cursive. I write more via keyboard and less on paper. What I do write on paper is rushed and this discourages legible beautiful (readable) style. I plan to resist. I realize my paper journal is not just to preserve what I do but it is a means to keep my penmanship from degenerating.

I hope we always keep our hand writing for the beauty, dignity, and intimacy they hold. 

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*In the thrill of receiving the letter I don’t remember what she is planning. Nuclear fusion from kitchen utensils or something.

“Well that was a real boner-killer” said the email sent from The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections. This is a discreet reference to my last entry. Vikings have little use for self-exploration (or even personal hygiene) and they are not concerned with time management. They like to point out they go the entire winter doing almost nothing at all as there is nothing to do. This philosophy explains the overflowing trash bins in The Board Room.  I was instructed to write something funny pronto or face their wrath or group hugs. Being embraced by a bunch of unwashed Norsemen (and women) reeking of herring isn’t inspiring towards humor. I will try my best under pressured circumstances.

It is said behind all humor something awful lurks. Someone or something has a mistap or misfortune and yet we find it funny. A man slips on a banana peel; a woman’s wig fall down in a violent sneeze. This puzzling paradox of tragedy = comedy goes double when it comes to the calamity of cats.

I am currently reviewing the rules of the card game ‘Exploding Kittens’. Its basic concept is if you draw an exploding kitten card, you explode, you are dead, and you are out of the game. I find the name alone hilarious. Cats can be standoffish and prissy; they can be downright – ‘catty’ yet there is something inherently funny about them when they freak out or blow up.*  I am not alone on this perverse pleasure. I see the internet is full up of ‘crazy cat’ videos in which pussykins is up to no good only to get its comeuppance resulting in hilarity and mirth for millions and millions of viewers.

Dogs just don’t have the same clout. Exploding dogs elicits no humor but depression and threats to report the comedian the ASPCA. Perhaps it’s because we see dogs as sort of dummies to start with. Their dopey running into mirrors or closed screens or falling off slippery counters isn’t funny per se but understandable viz. they are clods. Cats conjure in us schadenfreude when we see them hoist on its own petard as it were. Apart from the psychobabble explanations perhaps the tessitura of a cat screech is just more amusing; it beats the yowl of a dog by a country mile on the laugh track meter. One of my favorite expressions is “a howl resembling an orchestra of scorched cats”; it doesn’t work with birds or dogs.

I suppose there isn’t anymore to say on the subject. I’m quite tired and I should go to bed. I wanted to get something up and out before TBDHSR themselves start howling like an orchestra of scorched cats.

I promise something better soon. 🙂

 

*I have never seen an actual exploding kitten other than on Monty Python who routinely blew up pussycats allegedly hidden away in the background of their sketches. One never saw the cats literally blow up, only hear their howls as they went up in smoke.

 

 

Pensive

This one is a bit dark; it is an on-line ‘coming out’ on a personal problem. I have two goals in writing it:

  1. a) writing it out may help me solidify my thoughts on the topic
  2. b) I want to reach out to others who may have something similar to get their input and advice.

Over the years I have developed an anxiety about time, more specific: the management thereof. It is a sort of horror about time being wasted when it ought to always spent ‘doing something”. Sitting idle evokes angst. Every minute of the day is judged as being productive or not. Last night I ran around the house right up to bedtime doing things: taking out the trash; putting away the dishes; clearing off counters; doing laundry. While I did these things Someone sat on the couch watching TV while playing a game on his iPhone. I wasn’t making things up to do; these were tasks that arguably needed doing (especially taking the dumpsters to the curb). I sense he was aware of these matters; he was choosing to ‘chill’ after his long and tiring work day. The contrast between us raised in me emotions of mild resentment (dammit there’s work to be done!) but mostly bewilderment how he could relax knowing there were things that could be done. Mind! I didn’t see him as slothful and myself as proper; he seemed to be strong one and myself the neurotic – even ‘trapped’.

There isn’t an official diagnosis for this. There isn’t anything specific in the medical literature. The internet is full up with proposals. I read about ‘Time phobia’, and chronophobia, and “time anorexia”. Time anorexia or chronorexia gets my vote for this matter has at its heart anorexic properties of diligence, control, and fear of drifting from a punitive ideal.

This sense of ‘purpose’ to every minute is also demonstrated in my menu of podcasts. Nearly all of them are ‘intellectual” types. They are full up with history, science, medical matters, even politics – all ‘learning’ which is equivocal to time not squandered listening to silliness.

I wonder if this is how an Olympian figure skater feels in front the judges who are watch and critiquing every minute of my performance looking for less than stellar movements. To be not doing something would be like coming out in my skating costume only to just stand there. What would ‘they’ think?

Even the mundane things in my life are tainted by this anxious need for time not squandered. If I should watch TV I need to be doing something more/else – I just don’t sit.

This is not OCD: I don’t redo things nor do I make up things to do. Indeed there is always something that could be done. The point is can I allow myself to do nothing?

I won’t bother to write out the probable factors that contribute to time anxiety/anorexia. It’s more important to recognize the problem and start working on a solution. The goal is allowing myself to ‘waste time’ as it were. First, change the negative term to something less pejorative – “Quiet time” perhaps.

I think it is The Tao that says one can not make or lose Time but only spend it wisely or foolishly. Perhaps a better approach is to forgo the value judgment and let Time merely happen.

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One of my pending holiday companions wants to make his Palm Springs ingress dressed in the height of Spo-fashion; he asked me to make for him a new shirt. ‘Send me three yards of fabulous fabric’ I instructed him. He sent some – and this is the end product.

I’m pleased as punch it turned out well Usually there is a hiccup or blemish but this one did not have such. It is shirt #109 – can you imagine?

The pattern was peculiar to me. I thought to enter it as “The punctuation shirt”.  A few Facebook comments got me to connect the dots and have a revelation: it is a grawlix shirt!

Grawlix (n.) : a series of typographical symbols used in text as a replacement for profanity. Example:  @#$%&! 

I don’t know if this is my friend’s intent; he is not known for his salty lexicon. I merely hope it fits and he likes it.

The other day I ran across one of those questions which are supposed to get you to think about yourself in a self-reflective way. Most of these pop-psychology ponders are rubbish but I thought this one had some value:

What is true about you today that would make your 8-year-old self cry?

I sat down with him over a cup of tea (yes he drinks tea) and we discussed it. He asked what was I doing and I replied. My 8yo self was mostly shocked by my 56yo self but he didn’t cry much – a good sign. However there are a few exceptions:

I am not now working as a ‘dinosaur expert’ nor am I an astronomer, both lamentable to the lad who was gung-ho in his passion to be one or the other. In my defense I continue to be interested in both topics and science in general, so the little twerp wasn’t too disappointed.

I no longer play the piano, which was awful news to Spo-8. That certainly got him to tears.  “You mean all those years of practice when I could have been doing something else is for nothing?”  Yes, I’m sorry to say. He was saddened but I had to admit I am not.

Seriously now, he was quite saddened by my lack of book-reading. In my youth I could not read enough; nowadays I struggle to read a book a month. The tyke say this as horrible and worse than growing up gay. He saw it as a sign ‘growing up’ is not worth it. 

He teared up to hear about all the places I haven’t traveled to see. It was a sort of Monty Python Cheese Shop Sketch as he asked have I gone to see X: ‘no”. He was especially sad about the Northern European places like Norway and Sweden.  “You made a promise” he pointed out between the tears. 

He reminded me he is so excited about growing up to the capability of cooking as many creative dishes as possible and not eat mundane and repetitive rubbish as he eats now. He was amazed by many things I eat now. He had never heard of most of them – but he added ‘but are you cooking anything new NOW?” He had a point. 

Reading, traveling, and cooking can be lumped into the common category of constrains of Time. I tried to explain I have only so much free time to do things. The 8yo Spo said he sort of understood but ended our tea party with a Parthian shot saying it sounded a threadbare excuse. In the parallel universe where he is growing up he will be traveling and cooking and reading thank you very much.

The goal of the question is of course to get in touch with the negligences and shortcomings of ones life and try to recapture some of these things before it is too late. I may not be able to travel/cook/read as much as my 8yo self would like me to do but I can do better. Both of us can feel a bit better for it.  

What is true about you today that would make your 8-year-old self cry? Please tell me in the comment section. 

 

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Thank you all for the blog-day salutations; I was glad to hear from everyone.

After last night’s boisterous birthday party held in the Great Halls of Heorot III* things are now quiet. As it is a ‘new year” here at Spo-reflections I think about ‘new year resolutions’ and goals for the next twelve months, but dammit this is a blog not a science project. I have enough goals already.* With few exceptions The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections doesn’t give a danegeld what I write or do provided the product rakes in visits and comments.

It’s a slow Saturday here at Casa de Spo. It is not good to sit for long periods of time. This is not a problem today: Harper seems to be on the wrong side of every door today. .

The washer machine is going allegro non troppo. The clothes are done – for now. I am looking around for other things that want washing. Presently I doing the gym shoes which I hear going thump thump thump in the wash cycle . Someone questions my habit to continually wash my treaders on the grounds frequent washing will wear them out. Gym-shoes I believe are quite disgusting and need cleaning on a regular basis. I also put toothbrushes and sponges into the dishwasher.

I think I will go now to “Show tunes”. Someone is working so I will be by myself. I don’t mind really. I sit at the bar with my boulevardier and read. This isn’t as serene as it sounds. Sometimes I am hit upon by intoxicated young Hispanic gentleman (no this is not amusing).  Kat, my future-ex-wife, does a good job shooing them off and making sure my drink doesn’t get drained.  She is a dear.

With paperwork and chores done I am looking forward to reading blogs this evening. I can think of no better evening arrangement. Someone gets home about ten I think. He will be tired and he will want to go to sleep right away. He probably won’t notice my industrious housekeeping but then he won’t notice the shoes hanging up to dry either.

Thus begins Year #14 at Spo-Reflections.

I promise something better tomorrow.  🙂

*Everyone knows the original Heorot, but what happened to ‘II’ is anyone’s guess. Rumor has it HH2 was destroyed by mythical monsters or was the victim of gentrification. Opinions differ whether  it was razed or converted into a Starbucks.

**I am pleased to say I am doing relatively well with them –  with the exception of daily oatmeal and Spanish lessons. They want work.

Spo-reflections 2006-2019

I do not know what is the average life expectancy for a blog. Today marks thirteen years writing Spo-reflections. Lucky number 13! If blogs are measured in people years mine is in its adolescence; if done in ‘dog years’ it is an old one declining towards its death. You are as old as you feel I suppose. My scribblings are inspired by The Muses who are ageless archetypes* so this could go on indefinitely.*  We shall see.Rest assured to Spo-fans far and wide my enthusiasm remains bright as the brilliance of a radiant sunrise.. It’s one thing to endure a boring marriage but a boring hobby does not make sense.   It remains jolly good fun and definitely not dull.

While composing this blog-day post I stopped to consider how many blogs I read that as old as mine or even older. I’ve seen countless blogs come and go over these thirteen years; there’s been so many of them I can no longer recall them. Sometimes I go back to my early entries and remember blogs from long ago. Not all ex-bloggers became ghosts. A few turned into ‘friends without blogs”or Facebook followers, so they keep in touch. Alas, the majority disappeared like the dimetrodons, leaving me with a few fragments of fossils and questions what the hell happened to them.

But these are sad thoughts for a festive day. I will pat myself on the back for another year of writing and take comfort I’ve gladdened some people who have bothered to drop by to read it.

As always I am grateful for Spo-fans and thems who leave comments.

Please come along with me for another year of Spo-reflections.

Hugs!

 

2006

2019

*The ages of The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections members are estimated to about 1,200 years old. I once asked them to clarify but they said Vikings do not tell their age or weight.

7 February is the birthday of my pal Boz A.K.A Charles Dickens. Mr. Dickens is one of five writers from whom I take inspiration and I try to emulate.*  He was one of the greatest writers that ever was; do no dare to question this. Mind! 19th century prose is a challenge for the average 21st century reader. Even I have to admit at times Dickens can be quite wordy. Conversations that now take a only few text lines to tell Mr. Dickens draws out of over several pages. Often the exacerbated reader wants to shout out Monty Python-like to “Get on with it!”

In the short story “Joplin and Dickens” a 2nd grade school teacher asks the children in her class to describe the weather. Young Charlie Dickens shoots up his hand and says:

“The weather? The implacable November weather?! As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snowflakes—gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun!”

“Charlie -” the teacher says ..

“No ma’am! I can not put it into other words!” he replies.

And Dickens couldn’t – or wouldn’t anyway. His readers loved him and his style and so do I. He was the J.K. Rowlings of his time. In this modern age with its impatience to be quick and ‘too the point’ I remain devoted and grateful to C.D. for his munificent and beautiful prose. How disconsolate I would be without him.

Here is a jolly little history lesson to enlighten and entertain you while I go read the death of Daniel Quilp for the umpteenth time.

 

 

* The other four: David Barry, Barbara Holland, Flannery O’Connor, and Alice Thomas Ellis. How’s that for a coterie!

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Spo-Reflections 2006-2018