The Archives

  • 2018 (1)
  • 2016 (9)
  • 2015 (1)
  • 2014 (59)
  • 2013 (286)
  • 2012 (73)
  • 2011 (14)
  • 2010 (30)
  • 2009 (101)
  • 2008 (88)

The Bookshelf

Doug's bookshelf: read

AntwerpWarsaw BikiniIcelandHow the Soldier Repairs the GramophoneThe Original of LauraBrief Interviews with Hideous Men

More of Doug's books »
Doug's  book recommendations, reviews, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists

Time Since Reboot

  • 1252 days, 3 hours, 31 minutes, 24 seconds ago

It’s Christmastime N-Yo City

link to the BEST CHRISTMAS ALBUM EVER!!!  (baby) It has finally happened.

You see, I am an extremely selfish person. I always have been. So it was that, back deep in my childhood, the Christmases were pretty much all about me and what and how many presents I would receive. Even now, for the majority of the year, I waffle between hedonism and narcissism. (You’d have never guessed, I’m sure… what with this blog being so lofty, humble and other-centered.) But lately the holiday seasons have been having a wondrous — miraculous, even — effect on my otherwise grossly self-serving nature.

Just after Thanksgiving, when I am beginning to flesh out my x-mas lists, shopping seems like an arduous chore. I stall. I procrastinate. And finally, motivated by time’s crafty velocity, I force myself to wade into the sea of consumer-culture humanity and start buying things. The first few outings are irritating adventures — more fact-finding missions than actual shopping trips. But at some point the transformation takes place. I start taking pleasure in the process. I have loads of fun finding little goodies for my fake nieces and nephews. I begin to imagine my wife’s face, her reaction, her (dare I say?) delight when she opens her gifts. I revel in setting a spending limit and then purposefully spitting in the face of fiscal restraint. I become the master of the grand gesture. And I love it!

By God, it’s the "holiday spirit" and I’ve got it!

(Now if the families could just be civil and rational and stick to the rules, everything would be carols, chestnuts and Christmas-cheer perfect.)

Dead Seconds, Dark Inventions

Last night I thought I was dying. It seemed as if it was happening just after I switched off the bedside lamp and lay my head on the pillow, but it may well have been on into the night. Time gets squirrely. I do not even know if it was an actual physical event or if I was waking from an unremembered night  terror. Sometimes my heart will skip a beat, and that is what this felt like except it was greatly magnified. I couldn’t catch my breath. My head clouded. In an instant I was miles beneath the ocean’s surface. The world was justDeath In Salzburg a pinprick glimmer in the darkness. The buzzing began — a wrenching numbness increasing in intensity inside my skull. And I panicked. To continue the nautical metaphor, I clumsily thrashed my way toward the surface, toward the world, toward life. Struggling. My mind was one feverish question: "is this it?". There was no grand replay of precious life events, no white light, no feeling but fear. I reached the surface and my head instantly cleared. My buzzing brain went silent. I lay under the bedsheets panting, relieved, wondering whether I was waking from a dream or had simply experienced another nocturnal palpitation. If that is the case, it was a prolonged and intense version. And, of course, for all I know it was all imaginary. A scary, remembered moment though, whatever it was. I’m glad I’m still around. Today was a nice day.

That was just the beginning of a night brimming with weirdness. The subsequent dreams were scrambled particles of my partitioned life. There was a school audit going on, although I was on vacation at the same time. My wife was there along with all my coworkers, my dog, my parents’ dogs, and at least one ex-girlfriend. The audits were unusually precarious, and for no good reason. There was just a feeling of dread over the whole thing. Then, there was an airplane buzzing a lake while we sat and lunched on the pier. The plane made two circuit loops where it would zoom down over our heads, skim the water, then rocket up into the sky again. The third circuit was fatal. It dove too low, tried to bank and pull up, and dipped its left wing into the lake. The wing was immediately torn off and propelled toward our position at the shoreline. The remainder of the airplane plunged into some marina buildings across the way while the wing bisected an automobile just tens of feet away from us. One of the dogs got loose in the woods behind the mountain cabin where we were staying. We sent helicopters up to look for the dog, which ended up falling off the mountain and finding its way back to the house. When we discovered him under a blanket with a large cut in his side and I was freaking out trying to figure the best way to get him to an animal hospital, my mother’s response (yes, my mother suddenly appeared) was "ah well, we’ll just take him to the vet in morning" as if it was a simple scratch. The next morning my wife and I were searching for something on the mountainside and found ourselves in the middle of a large mud patch in the middle of a rainstorm.

That’s all I’ve got. It is a jumbled mess, I know. The dream notebook has not worked as well as I had hoped. If I could write these things down while they are still fresh in my mind, it would likely be somewhat more coherent if not more logical. The number of lucid dreams has become more frequent over the past couple of weeks. Not sure what I am doing differently, but it definitely makes the nighttime more interesting. Also, it provides me with material when I am otherwise uninspired. I guess even death scares have their bright sides.

I Love The Nightlife, Baby

How about a glimpse into my world:  a night in the life of the grammaticaster.

4:40 PM  — Arrive home from work, let scrawny dog out of crate, turn off dog meditation music, pat cat on head, eat piece of chocolate (if available), strip off work clothes, don lay-about clothes.

5:00 PM  — Iron shirt for next day, wash dishes, eat piece of chocolate (optional).

5:30 PM  — Pretty much sit around, delete misguided TiVo suggestions, read email.

6:15 PM  — Cook dinner, wait for the wife.

7:15 PM  — Wife arrives.  Chat about day.  Chat about dinner.

7:45 PM  — Eat dinner.  Watch whatever Discovery Channel / Travel Channel / Food Network show TiVo has recorded for us. 

8:45 PM  — Dessert:  chocolate or key lime pie (or both)

9:00 PM  — Wife naps.  I have a glass of wine and blog (or play around on the internet, as was the case tonight).

11:00 PM  — Contemplate another glass of wine.  Feel bad for wasting time instead of writing or reading or doing something useful.

12:15 AM  — It’s bed time.  Shake blanket to wake up the dog.  Take dog outside.  Prepare for bed.

12:30 AM  — Awaken the wife.  Tell her it’s time for bed.

12:40 AM  — Awaken the wife.  Tell her it’s time for bed.

12:45 AM  — Awaken the wife.  Tell her it’s time for bed.  Get into bed.  Read book until eyes grow heavy.

1:30 AM  — Turn out the light.  Sleep. 

Fascinating, isn’t it?  I wish this was more embellished than it is.  And now, if the clock is to be believed, I’m running a little behind schedule.  Excuse me.

Bumper Sticker Thought Dump


My Wife’s Itsy Bitsy Bee Clips

A few angry words need to be written about my wife’s car troubles.  When she got back from Phoenix a couple of weeks ago, it was dead in the Birmingham airport parking deck.  So she had it towed to a place downtown whose name is being withheld for the time being – a previously-believed-to-be reputable auto repair and maintenance shop just a few blocks down from my wife’s building.  We were told all it needed was a new battery and that if we waited a minute they would have it ready for us right then.  However, the greasemonkey who drove it out of the garage had a bit of trouble keeping it running.  The dude behind the counter chalked it up to the computer needing to “re-learn” some things after being disconnected from the power source.  He suggested we leave it overnight, which we did.  The next day it was picked up and driven home, seemed to run fine for a week or so, then became unstartupable in the driveway (where it remained over the weekend).  After an unsuccessful jumping-off attempt Monday morning (due more to me not knowing where the battery was on MY car – underneath the spare tire in the trunk, as it turns out), she was finally able to get it towed, once again, to the garage.  That was yesterday.  The verdict was that the (new) battery they had installed was bad.  It was to be replaced and the car picked up today.  She picked it up and drove it back to her building – an amazing accomplishment, since it quit on her three times on the short journey from the repair shop to her parking spot.  Now it is once again going back to the guys who are apparently more concerned with tossing off a quick diagnosis and sending the little naive woman on her merry way than actually taking the time to analyze and correct the problem. 

So it would appear that tomorrow morning I will once again wake up thirty minutes early so I can drive my wife to work before going out to beautiful, smelly Tarrant for the day.  Irritating.

Of course, my wife’s car is an irritating little bugger anyway.  It’s a ridiculously redneck sports car that she was talked into buying by some douchebag back in a time before my cool, rational, sensible voice was available to her in her household.  I won’t name the type of car, but it rhymes with itsy-bitsy bee clips.  A low-slung, bare bones wannabe muscle car that is cheaply built and shoddily designed.  Part of me wishes the mechanics would just come back and say “I’m sorry, miss, but the best thing we can do is drive it off a cliff and file an insurance claim on it.” 

A boy can dream, can’t he?  A boy can dream.

Ego Sententia Fragminis

It is one of those nights when I know I should be writing something… I need to keep writing, but I have absolutely nothing to say. So let’s just spin the wheel and see what comes up, shall we? The state of disunion. For a few weeks there I felt extremely focused — around the time I got in the groove with this blog thing and when election-mania was in full swing. Now, with the election over, my political energies have gone into a temporary hibernation — recharging for the year ahead, no doubt (and not to worry). This past spring and into the summer, I was feeling largely uninspired. I had nothing to say. No poetry. No artistry to speak of. Then I sort of hit my stride around October-ish. And now, it is almost as if I am overloaded. I have gone from reading a book a week to devoting my attention to so many blogs and magazines and fictions and nonfictions that it takes me ages to finish anything. And this blog, too — it started out fairly focused, or at least squarely intent on being prolifically unfocused. But what has emerged, in this web space as it is in my head, is a tangle of so many ideas and so many divergent lines of thought that whatever loose-but-coherent center has disintegrated into this mishmash of forced writings, dear-diary crap, and soulless photography filler. What felt artfully aimless is now frightfully off track, and I am not sure how to steer the narrative back to its equilibrium point.

So, instead of curling up with a (single) good book or saying to myself "I am going to take the next hour or so and write a few paragraphs about x," I am pulled in so many different directions that I end up doing nothing but listlessly surfing the net or dozing off a couple of pages into whatever I happen to be reading. I want to do too much. I want to relearn some of the old songs I used to know on guitar. I want to keep a log of all the hyper-realistic dreams I’ve been having. I want to add my voice to the political blogosphere. I want to learn photography and capture the world as I see it, or as I want people to see it, or as I want people to think I see it. I want to start writing art again. Not this personal exploration drivel, but real art. I want to overcome this stifling social anxiety and connect with people who share my passions (or at least one or two of them). I want to take my wife on culinary excursions and blog every exotic meal, and I want to, at the same time, journey off into the wild desolation and keep a journal — written and photographic — of what I see and feel. I want to master something… but I want to master too many different and disconnected things. So I end up being an enthusiast about a great many things and a master of nothing. Instead of an encyclopedic knowledge about a certain subject I know a tiny amount about a great many useless topics. I know and do just enough to be uselessly mediocre.

I am a scattered entity. There is simply not enough time to devote to every wild endeavor. Am I an airplane pilot? A musician? A poet? Photographer? Blogger? Philosopher? Finance guru? Deviant sexual virtuoso? Vinophile, policy wonk, world traveler, realist, idealist, hedonist, utilitarianist, socialist? Yes, yes, yes to all. And yet, I am none of those things… not really. Because I want to be all those things, I only succeed at being average, at best, at each of them. And so I fade into the background noise, destined to be the crazy uncle who has all kinds of weird anecdotes that are only interesting in extremely small doses, but who insists on prating on and on about how, when I was flight training in Orlando, or when I would spend four hours a day in dark coffee houses writing pages of poems and editing literary publications, or when my friends and I would get together for jam sessions and share all the different tunes we knew and would try to write songs of our own and that one time when we were talked into forming a contemporary Christian rock band, or what my thoughts are on economics, or my crazy new ideas on the reorganization of the federal government, or that time I went to x location in y country all by myself and got lost trying to find my way back to the inn, or my this or my that or my blah blah blah… yeah, whatever Uncle D.

How’s that for a Monday evening tangent? Sometimes your self-portrait comes out like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and sometimes it’s the handfuls of excrement you threw at the canvas. Whatever it is to anyone else, this is who I am tonight.