Throughout my youth, I would hike the dense swampland behind our farm, intentionally getting myself lost, knowing that sooner or later I would hit a road. One sweltering summer day when I was about eight years old, I escaped into the cool shade of the woods. I was exploring, finding discarded refuse among the trees. I climbed up a hill, and found a pit. A small car could have easily fit into this dusty pit, but instead it was filled with dead dogs. The pit was behind the dog officer’s house, who was also the town sheriff. What stood out to me, besides the blank eyes and contorted corpses, was the fact that many of the dogs had collars with tags. My first thought as a naïve boy was, why have these dogs been killed and dumped here when they have dog tags?
I don’t remember the long walk home, where I then told my parents what I had
seen. They assured me that the pit would be filled, as if that would stop my
nightmares. This dog horror story is just one from my youth. Being on a farm, animals came
and went. There were a string of dogs, including collies, beagles and various
mutts. Some got sick and walked into the woods never to return. There were a
few hit-by-cars, a runaway Beagle and one suicide (unintentional, I’m sure.)
One of our family dogs, named Hobo, was with us quite a while and sometimes I
would bring him along on my walks; but Hobo was always more interested in
chasing my sheep and devouring rabbits. There no was chance of wildlife
sightings with him around, unless he was about to ingest it. There was a Weimaraner
named Loki, but he was my mom’s dog; to the point that he would sulk and get
teary-eyed when she left for work. Sometimes the dogs would warn my father off when
he started to tickle me, thinking he was hurting me.
Shorty after I joined the air force at age seventeen, my father bought my
brother a pure breed Springer Spaniel. They named him Hank and had high hopes
of turning him into a hunting dog. I had failed my father as budding
outdoorsman, so he was having another go at it with my brother. Unfortunately, the
dog was hit by a car and had to have his leg amputated. This was not a not a
death sentence, but, according to my dad, he would never be a hunting dog, so
it was better to put him down.
I’ve never had a dog to call my own and these morbid experiences have made me a little hesitant to adopt one. Maybe I’m not dog worthy and worthiness is something I’ve always striven for in my life. I'm at the age where I feel the need for a dog by my side. You know . . . man's best friend. Dogs specialize in unconditional love. Spouses are wonderful and stick with us through some tough times, but a canine friend is different. With a dog there are no judgments or conditions. I could complain about anything and he would never say, "Mark, you’re full of shit." If anything he would say, "I hear ya bro. Tell me about it." And then he would go piss on a tree.
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Saturday, June 25, 2016
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
I love to turn on Netflix while I'm snacking (also known as the midnight munchies.) I've got nearly 500 movies and television shows in my Netflix queue, as if I have all the time in the world. Most times I finish my snack before deciding on anything to watch. I'm more likely to put the remote controls aside and pick up a book. If I had cable I’d be watching too many Mariners’games. There was a time when folks watched so little television that they would hide it with a decorative cover between shows. Watching TV shows was a family event in the beginning. Now, with smart phones, watching entertainment is often a solitary activity. A one-handed solitary activity.
I've always been more of a movie watcher than a faithful follower of series television. The last show I watched every season of was Battlestar Galactica. I got through three seasons of Breaking Bad, but I haven't taken the time to finish it. I've heard how great Mad Men is, and people swear by Parks and Recreation; just not the first two seasons. There's Justified, Rectify, and a little project called Game of Thrones. I loved BBC’s The Detectorists, but there were only six 30 minute episodes, so I cannot really claim that as much of an accomplishment.
|The All in the Family installation at the Smithsonian Institution|
* * * *
I guess I would label the above essay a fluff piece. I have lots of serious and heavy stuff on my mind, but it's going to take some time to sift through the detritus and attempt to make something creative out of it. Until then, I'll be selling books, reading books and spending lots of time on my deck stargazing or cloud-watching, depending on the sky.
Thursday, June 16, 2016
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
I’ve always been a reluctant driver. I hadn't even gotten my driver's permit before I joined the air force at age seventeen. Once in the service, and stationed in North Dakota with the prospect of driving parts out to missile sites at midnight in subzero temperatures, I chose to wait until my return to Massachusetts before getting my driver’s license. So, all those hours on the byways of North Dakota, I sat in the backseat, listening to my Sony Walkman and watching the fields of sunflowers passing by. To me, driving is like golf in the respect that it would be a lot more fun if there was nobody else out there.
I usually take the backseat in my relationships too. Always wanting someone
else, preferably a strong female, to do the driving. I’ve always been attracted
to strong intelligent women, like Marie Curie and Pam Grier. Periodically,
some fool on Facebook asks which celebrity the reader would most like to spend
the night with. I used to always say Elizabeth Warren, but she
just endorsed Hillary, so she’s been demoted from my fantasy list. She’s easily
replaced by a plethora of smart women like Carolyn Porco, or Mary Roach. I’m
immediately turned on by their intelligence. Pillow talk would be subjects like
dark matter and the gravitational pull of love. I’m a mind-f*cker for sure.
Maybe we're all backseat drivers when you consider that we are 90% microbial
and only 10% human. We have over 100 trillion microbes in and on our bodies.
Where are they driving us? Talk about a lack of freewill. We are not in as much
control as we thought. Not only are we stuck in the backseat
without a map, but we don't even recognize the driver. Some say let Jesus take
the wheel, but if I were going to give up control I think I'd want a more
talented driver, like say Dale Earnhardt, Jr..
"Take a right up here."I've never been an effective backseat driver. I'm too willing to keep my mouth shut and go along for the ride, not complaining until we get to the destination. Whether intentional or not, the backseat driver can often be left behind, seemingly forgotten at the Seven-Eleven, as the driver pulls back onto the highway. Miles can go by. Maybe the title of this post is a misnomer. I'm more like the guy in the trunk, waiting for Samuel L. Jackson to find a vacant lot, where he can dispose of my body. I'd rather be stuck in the trunk with Jennifer Lopez, as in the film "Out of Sight," but I guess the producers lost my number, so they had to settle for George Clooney.
"How do you know what's right?"
|Smart and sexy Carolyn Porco, please whisper sweet mathematical forumulas into my ear.|
Let's go for a drive OK? Well I'll go for a drive; you'll go for a ride. The person who drives the car they go for a drive, the other people they go for a ride. People don't know that, tell them when they're in your car. Say "you assholes are goin' for a ride!"Right now, I'm going to settle for walking....
– George Carlin