Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Just a Minor Weakness

I have thin skin. Human skin is composed of three primary layers, but I think I may have entered this world with one thin layer. It would certainly explain why I have a tendency to be so sensitive to comments from others. I'm even quite empathetic to the misery of others, down to the lowliest mouse.

Recently my son started enquiring about skin colors. He was asked what color daddy's skin tone is, and he replied, "light blue." It's light blue, because of my lack of extra protective layers. Maybe that's why I'm frequently "blue." I would much rather have thick rhino-like skin if it would shield me from the pain and suffering in this world. The human decline is all around me, and because I have the power of sight, and a sensitive skin layer that picks up all these vibrations, I often find myself fighting off the pull of the blues.

Ethically though, I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I found refuge in reality shows, cheap beer and overrated sports teams. I'd rather live in pain, and feel the suffering of the world, along with the Buddhist monks, philosophers, and street prophets.

On another note: I saw my old counselor for the first time in about two years. She was leaving the store with a coffee in her hand. I was chatting with my co-workers at the counter, but she stopped and said hello. She even gave me a hug, and wanted to smooth over any hard feelings I may have had at the termination of our sessions. I replied honestly that I was pretty damn happy now. I didn't mention anything about taking on the suffering of the world though. No need to inject any negative thoughts into a chance meeting with my old counselor.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fade to Gray

The sun has disappeared. If it stays away through the weekend it could mean well for the bookstore's big used book sale. If the weather is nice then the customers may just find something better to do. I'm planning on going in tomorrow for about four hours in the middle of the day to help out during the sale. If the store is not bustling with book buyers then I may just slip out early.

I'm still feeling like I need a couple of days break, even though I returned from my vacation recently. I'm just craving a couple of days filled with quiet and time to read. I have about 50 pages left to read in Nicholas Carr's The Shallows. I'm about ready to dive into another novel, so I'm ready to finish The Shallows this weekend.

Winter's Bone opens today, but I don't think I'll find the time to see it this weekend. It's a must-see though, and I'm not going to let this one find its way onto DVD before I see it in the theatre.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dragging It In...

It's Monday, which means I need to head into the bookstore soon. I may just end up at the bagel shop for some lunch before my shift. The bagel shop has the convenience of just being around the corner from Ravenna Third Place. Plus I finally figured out the perfect formula for my toasted bagel: one schmear of veggie cream cheese split between two everything bagels. For the longest time I would get one schmear per bagel and it's just too much cream cheese, dripping out the sides of the bagel.

A co-worker had asked me to trade shifts today, which would have had me working 10 to 6. I declined, because I'm still getting back into my routine after my vacation. I came in for a few extra hours this past Saturday, because my boss was out with a bad back. I will also be coming in for at least a few hour this Saturday to help out with the Big Sale. So, I will work my normal shift, arriving back home just before 10:30 pm tonight.

I'm craving a short camping trip, and I'm hoping to squeeze that in before the summer closes its curtains. I would love a few quiet days in the woods, preferrably by a babbling brook. Some time to walk, read, and just soak up some of the wilderness ambience. First the rain has to take a break, and let us Seattlelites enjoy a brief sunny respite.

The Weekend Fades to a Close

Days go by. Weeks fall by the wayside. All in all it's just the world turning, as we blithely move about upon it.

I yearn for some quietude. Sometimes I stand on the deck at the back of the house at three in the morning, just before the earliest birds have begun to sing, and I absorb the pre-dawn quiet as if it's a precious commodity.

The weekends are never long enough, and my shift at work always seems to crawl along at a slug's pace. Sometimes my only desire is to lie entwined with my loved one, as the afternoon rain slides down the window pane.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Reading Notes and Bonus Music Video

I've got a little bit of the post vacation blues, especially since it was more of a obligation-vacation than anything else. What else explains the fact that we didn't get any time to read while there? Reading is one of my most cherished pastimes, and if I don't have time for that then I am too damn busy. While on "vacation" I finished reading Rex Pickett's Sideways, which was very similar to the film. There are some significant differences, such as Miles and Jack going wild boar hunting in the middle of the night, and instead being shot at by the hick that lead them out there. Also, Miles and Maya become intimate in a complicated way, whereas in the movie there is never any consummation of their relationship. The changes that Alexander Payne made for the film only seemed to improve the realism of the friendship between the two characters.

I'm now reading The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. I'm only about 50 pages in at this point, but it's an interesting read. Carr incorporates all of the latest in brain research data to examine how our actual thought patterns may be altered by the manner in which we browse the web. I hope to get some substantial reading time this weekend, because I'm already craving some fiction. I've been pondering a few classics that I've been meaning to get to, such as Great Expectations and The Mayor of Casterbridge. I've seen at least a few film versions of Hardy's tale, but I'd like to read the original. I don't really have any novels that are high on my "to read" list...except ALL of them!

As if I don't already have enough unread books on my plate, I recently started a list of favorite books that I'd like to reread. I've only read a handful of books more than once, including The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler, and Pan by Knut Hamsun. There are at least a half dozen more that I'd like to revisit in the coming years. It's been so long since I've read books that I consider favorites, that I'd like to refresh my reasoning for keeping them in a cherished place in my memory bank. Some of my early choices are: Desert Solitaire by Ed Abbey, Jernigan by David Gates, White Noise by Don DeLillo, and Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner. There are books that I read in my youth that I would surely disdain now, but I don't believe that the classics mentioned above are among them.

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Lately, I've been listening to a lot of Frank Black, a.k.a. Black Francis, particularly the album Bluefinger. All of the songs on the album reference Dutch musician and artist Herman Brood in some way. Black's album Teenager of the Year is one of my all time favorite discs. Here is an interesting video for the song "Your Mouth Into Mine" from Bluefinger.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Catching Up and So Forth

Let's see...where was I before I was so rudely interrupted by that vacation? Oh yes, I was here in Seattle, working the 2 to 10:30 pm shift at the local independent bookstore, taking care of my son half the week, and generally "living the life of Riley." As far as this blog goes, I have a little catching up to do. It is probably best that I start with the most recent events in my life, since I'm more likely to remember those more clearly.

Tonight my beloved and I attended a concert by Boz Scaggs. Who, you may ask, is Boz Scaggs? Well, if you're curious, you can jump into your "Wayback Machine" by clicking on this Wikipedia link. This was the first time I have seen a show at a local casino. That seems to be the venue of choice for certain musical artists just past their prime, with a few top 40 hits under their expanding belt to attract the grey haired crowd. We arrived at the Snoqualmie Casino just at show time, and secured parking in the multi-storied garage.

We made our way circuitously through the intentionally confusing casino to find the seasonal stage in the parking lot just to the side of the front entrance. As we walked to our seats a bald eagle chose that moment to glide majestically over the crowd as if on cue. The formerly endangered bird merited a round of applause for his appearance. Shortly thereafter Boz Scaggs, and his band took the stage. It was a good performance in a chilly overcast June evening in the Pacific Northwest.

The 66-year-old (!) Scaggs played an hour long set, performing songs such as Allen Toussaint's "Hercules" and "Sick and Tired (of foolin' around with you)," written by "Fats" Domino and Dave Bartholomew. After a short break, and before the applause ended, the elder musicians (elder except for Miss Monet, the booty-licious backup singer) bounded back onto the stage for an encore of nearly a half hour, running through a repertoire of hits, including "Lido Shuffle," "Breakdown Dead Ahead," and "Lowdown." Overall a very good show, even though I would have preferred a more intimate venue (such as the Triple Door downtown), so that Boz would have felt comfortable playing some of his more quiet numbers, including some of his recent interpretations from the Great American Songbook.

* * *

Besides attending an oldies concert, I have been getting back into the grind at the bookstore. We're getting ready for our big bi-annual "40% off all used books" sale, which means buying lots of used books, and pulling old titles off the shelves to be marked down. There have been two author events, plus Magic Monday in the week since I have been back. Today I worked a day shift, starting at nine this morning, but by noon I thought it would be wiser to have lunch with my loved ones and then catch a nap before leaving for tonight's concert. I was right.

The vacation itself was quite nice. It's true that I was visiting family instead of lounging poolside in Negril, but even considering that it was a nice respite among family and friends. I overindulged by attending at least three parties, and eating all those east coast things I don't get out here (or at least not in their original version): Del's frozen lemonade, Sax steak sandwiches, and a chocolate frappé and clam roll from Bliss Brothers Dairy. Never mind the various birthday cakes, and our last night feast of baked stuffed lobster. These particular crustaceous delicacies, were special ordered ahead of time for our party, and were stuffed with lobster and scallops and shrimp.

While driving around the neighborhoods where I grew up, I was struck by how little things had changed. In some ways it seemed that things had stalled because of the economy, but it also seemed that some old places were still in the hands of families, who were not ready to sell off their properties to the highest bidder. I enjoyed seeing the old cemeteries, and stone walls. I told my partner as we drove by one particular graveyard, that in the fourth grade our teacher took the class to there to do gravestone rubbings. I guess that was part of growing up in New England.

I was also privy to a raucous thunderstorm during our stay, and during the evening, while I relaxed on the front porch of friends, I saw lightning bugs, and more stars overhead than I've seen in quite a while. Visiting is taxing, especially when it's family, but I did well until about mid Wednesday. Then I hit my wall. We were flying out Friday, so I spent Thursday going to the U-district near Brown University and RISD. That's where I went during my adolescence to find good books, and to see art film double bills at the Avon Theatre. The College Hill Bookstore has been closed for some years now, and it seemed that there was more swag and less books at the nearby University Bookstore. I was specifically looking for a copy of Nicholas Carr's The Shallows, but their copies hadn't arrived yet. I settled for a copy of the first Richard Stark novel, and a book about a Brown University student, who spent a year at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.

Well, that's about all the catching up I have time for right now. I have one more day of work, and then the weekend arrives. I'm hoping that there will be some sunshine and reading time during my upcoming weekend. There's always hope.
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And as if this post isn't long enough, here is a video of Boz Scaggs doing his hit "Breakdown Dead Ahead."

Monday, June 14, 2010

Back in Town

I have returned from my obligation/vacation. I got back into town late Friday night, and I haven't really had a chance to sit down and write about that week that was. Soon though...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

It's Vacation Eve!

Tomorrow at around eleven in the a.m. we will be flying to Providence, Rhode Island, to stay with friends in nearby Massachusetts. We'll be there a week plus travel time, and there will be reunions aplenty. I'm still trying to decide what book I will be starting next. I timed it so that I need to start a fresh title at the beginning of the trip, but I'm still fretting as to what will engage me; what will provide the necessary escapist fare for vacation?

My bag is packed. I just need to through in a few odds and ends, and I'll be ready to go. I'm glad the flight is not at sunrise. I'm awoken early enough by my four-year-old. I will have wireless access at the residence where we're staying, so there is a possibility that I may post a blog or two. There is also a strong possibility that we will take the opportunity to catch up on the Breaking Bad episodes we have not seen yet.

Now here's Delbert McClinton doing "Giving It Up For Your Love" from an old Austin City Limits. All I've got to say is, "More cow bell!"