Saturday, March 23, 2013

Quiet Time

March 23, 2013,

Coffee in the morning. It seems so natural, so right. This morning, in particular, it felt good. It's been a long week, a lot going on. So, last night I tried to go to bed early (it didn't work) and this morning when my internal alarm clock woke me up at 7 o'clock I went ahead and got up. My cat was bugging me for her moist food, anyway. I got dressed and went to corporate coffee shop.

A little over ten years ago I had done a Very Stupid Thing and I was having to work a lot to make up for it. I had a day job, Monday through Friday 8 to 5, then I had an evening job delivering pizzas. Pizza delivery was evenings during the week and on Sunday. It was mid-shift on Saturdays. I was off from that job on Mondays, but I didn't have an actual day off. I was at one job or the other, or both. It might seem like I would sleep a lot on Sunday just because I could. But, there was something delicious about getting up early on Sunday mornings, going to a coffee shop, still a little tired mentally and physically, and drinking coffee among other people. I mean, if I had been asleep I wouldn't be conscious of those precious hours to myself. I needed to be awake. And being around other people was particularly nice. Not necessarily people I knew – almost pointedly not people I knew. I could sit and read and watch people go about their happy lives and think about a day when things would be better for me. It was a good time (in my life) to be introspective and heal from the inside out. If I hadn't had those problems, then I wouldn't have had those Sunday mornings by myself – I wouldn't have appreciated them like I did, anyway. It's like a story my father used to tell me about a ranch hand who, every morning, put a rock in his shoe. When asked why, he said that the only joy he had in his life was taking that shoe off in the evenings.

So early this morning I got up and went to a coffee shop. It wasn't exactly the same – things are much better for me now in general. But, I have been working a lot these last few weeks and the stress level has been rather higher. So, I enjoyed, I savored sitting by myself in a coffee shop full of people, reading and watching people interact. Being alone, but around other people. Reading. Being awake and conscious of the fact that I wasn't at work and didn't have to be. Nursing inner bruises. I'm glad I can appreciate these moments still.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I Wanna Take It for Granted

March 13, 2013

There are things that I like taking for granted. Thumbs for instance. I like just going to bed so secure in the existence of an opposable thumb that I don't even have to think about it. There is an issue called De Quervain syndrome that I suffered from several years ago. The tendons that work the thumb are wrapped in a sheath. That sheath becomes inflamed and then the thumb doesn't work and it hurts. When I had it, I literally could not lift my thumb. (I could if I lifted it with the other hand, but that doesn't help in any practical way.)

Every once in a while it will flair up a little bit again. I take Advil and rub Icy/Hot on it and it usually goes away. This time it's taking longer. Don't get me wrong, I can still use my thumb (mostly) and if I hold my thumb and pull my wrist down, it doesn't hurt my wrist or forearm. But, the area that was affected before is sore and it twitches. Having gone through a period of weeks in which I couldn't grasp anything or use my thumb for the space bar on the keyboard I'm a little sensitive to the issue. (You try writing one sentence using the thumb of your left hand on the space bar rather than the right.)

I suppose that I should use this as an opportunity to grow spiritually and learn to appreciate my most preaxial digit. But, I don't want to. I want to not have to think about it. Does that make me a bad person?

Monday, March 11, 2013

The End of an Era

March 11, 2013

Page 131. The end is approaching and I'm not emotionally prepared for this. Out of 166 pages, 9 of them are about the author, related products, etc. So, there are a total of 157 pages of novel. And I'm on page 131. I've gone from the early interbella period through the 70's and now I'm approaching the end. In 1920 Agatha Christie published The Mysterious Affair at Styles, her first novel and the first Hercule Poirot mystery. Admittedly, I'm less fond of Poirot as I am of Miss Marple, but even she was born of a side character (not of the same name) in an early Poirot novel.

Thirty-three novels spanning from 1920 to 1972. And, I'm at the penultimate, which is probably the last of the Poirot novels I care to read. I read all of the Miss Marple novels first, but there are only 12 of those. I wrote about them here. I began to read the Poirot mysteries almost begrudgingly. "If I can't have the character I want I'll go ahead and read these." That was more or less my mindset. I've taken issue with him on occasion, but good lord, with that many novels not every one of them can please everybody. But, I've grown accustomed to him. I look forward to weekends with a light novel and a nap on the sofa. The Miss Marple novels helped me keep my sanity when I lived in a small town 20 miles from Austin (I ramble about that here) and Poirot has become a part of what I enjoy about my apartment; part of what makes this little place feel like home.

And now I'm on page 131.

The last novel is called Curtain and I'm almost certain that Poirot dies in it. It was written during WWII and set to be published postmortem. Actually, it was published just before she passed away, but after she had realized that she would not be able to write another novel. I'm not certain I want to read about him dying. It would be like watching the Last M∙A∙S∙H, knowing that Hawkeye was going to die. (He doesn't.) Miss Marple also had a final novel written at the same time and it was published after Christie passed away. I read it in the order it was written in, not published, so it fit in. (I think that Christie adjusted Curtain to fit in at the end of the series, but didn't get a chance to do so with Sleeping Murder.)

There's always Tommy and Tuppence, but, I'm not excited about them. Maybe I'll give them a whirl. There aren't that many of their novels. They could at least tide me over until I find the next thing that I want to read.

And, this is a remarkably long series. I really have nothing to complain about. When I started it, and I found an official reading order, I felt comfortable that I'd be set for a while. I guess I was. But, now it's coming to an end. I'm on page 131 and this is likely the last one I'll read and I'm sad, and not just a little anxious. How will I fill my Saturday afternoons? Cleaning? Pffft! I'm going to go to bed now and read. It's likely that I will be finished with the book before I fall asleep. And then tomorrow will come along and somehow I'll go on. Maybe I'll cry.

Until later,


Saturday, March 9, 2013

In the beginning...

March 7, 2013

I've been reading the Bible lately. This is less an act of faith as it is simple interest. I can't even remember what the reference was that started the whole thing. But, I read something that was a reference to something in the Bible and I began to get curious about the things that I didn't know. I've read Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus before. I petered out in Numbers – it's rather tedious. So, when whatever it was piqued my curiosity, I began with a perusal of Deuteronomy, which is more or less a summary of the first 4 books from what I've read. But, I wanted to know about the things that people talk about. I wanted to read the books of Kings and read about David and about Daniel and understand the context. But, I didn't want to miss anything so I kept going further and further back. Finally, I settled at the end of the Pentateuch.

I wanted to begin with the story part, and not so much with the laws. The laws are tedious and make me think that it was the world's first attempt at socialism. I mean, settle accounts every 7 years and every 7th 7-year span all property reverts back to its original owner. So, I sell you some land; in 49 years it comes back to me or my family. What I get from that is that this would prevent a situation in which most of the property/money rested in the hands of a few powerful families. And the size and shape and decorations of the Arc of the Covenant are only interesting for the first five times you read them. After that they lose some of their flair.

So, I read the end of Deuteronomy and made my way through Joshua. It was interesting – from a historic perspective if nothing else. The Israelites never got along; they were bickering from the get-go. "Why do I have to be on this side of the Jordan? Why does he get to be on that side? Why can't I have my own altar? Why do I have to go use HIS?" Also, the seemingly arbitrary commands that were given. March seven times around the city; don't attack or shout. It recalls their days in the desert. Gather only enough manna for one day; don't try to save for future days. It all seems like God is trying to teach them to be 100% dependent on him. When I feed my dog I make him sit and stay while I put the food down. Then I say, "Release" and he can eat. He has to learn that he's completely dependent on me for food, so that he learns that I am dominant; I am the alpha. Is this what God was doing in the desert? (Is this question sacrilege?)

This is not to say that it isn't interesting. At least I have a better understanding what people are talking about and referring to. And, the bible that I have has notes; it explains the different sources, from the North, from the South and their different perspectives and how those perspectives come into play when putting the stories down on papyrus. (Actually, having read First and Second Kings gives me more insight into that background information as well. But, more on that later.)

I'll close for the moment. I've risked a bolt of lightening enough for one day. I'll write more questions and observations later.