time to read, even

Hey guess what has to happen tonight?!  Nothing!

I have no phone calls, no pressing work for which I only need to “log on for an hour or so,” no overlooked housework, nothing.  I think it’s beginning to feel like I’m “home,” finally.  It takes time, you know, after being away, to get back into it.  We got back a week ago and I went immediately into two all-day conferences at work.  The weekend came and my sickness crowned and stole both those days and one more for good measure.  This left me having done next to nothing at work nor at home to “catch up” from the two weeks vacation we’d spent in Florida.  In all honesty, I spent yesterday and today getting back into it… like we’d just returned.  Put the suitcases away, started attacking the bulging inbox, took down the Christmas tree, shaved.  It feels good to be home.

I have time to read, even.  Been reading again.  Maybe I’ve written before about how I read in fits and starts, I can’t recall but if I did it’s because it’s true, I do.  I wish I could tell you I decided to tackle some of the more “heady” items on my “to read list,” you know like some Pynchon or Faulkner or Dickens or Shakespeare (all on there, all still on there), but I can’t (because I didn’t).  When I was in highschool I started reading Stephen King’s then new Dark Tower series (sidenote: other King books I read back in those days had noticeable influence on my writing of the time).  As with other long multi-part epics I’ve tackled, I gave up when I caught -up to the author’s output and had to wait for new volumes.  When we were at my folks’ place for Thanksgiving I decided I’d like to read them again, so I ordered the paperbacks for pennies used online.  I’m halfway through the sixth of eight books.

I also think I’ve written it before (I mean dang, I’ve written a lot, chances are I’ve written everything before), but as I read more I write more.  Seems impossible, since both take time, but it’s true.  I also write better.  Don’t judge me by this post though, this is not a good post.  I’ll go read a chapter and write tomorrow’s entry; tomorrow’s entry will be boss.



Today I stopped at the bookstore on the way home from work.

The second-to-last book in the epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time was released Tuesday and I’ve been meaning to get it ever since.  In fact, I’ve been waiting on this book (and the next one, which will wrap the series) for over a year.  See, I’ve been reading this series for something like on the order of of thirteen years.  Not straight-through, mind you.  I think I’ve read the first ten or so volumes (a mere ~8,500 pages) a total of three times after I’d “caught up” to the publishing/release schedule and had to wait for new volumes to come out.

The series’ original author, Robert Jordan, died in 2007, and another writer, Brandon Sanderson, picked up the quill in his stead, filling in the gaps from Jordan’s notes and determined to complete the story.  I was worried about the Sanderson-penned volumes, but loved the first one he co-authored.  Anyway, I’m super excited to read the new release and be only two years away from the finale.

While I was in line waiting to purchase the book a mother and her son, aged around seven or so by my estimates, queued up behind me.  He was excitedly telling his mother about his intended purchase.  “I can’t wait to read this Mom.  It’s another murder-mystery and his last story was soo good.”  The mom spoke to him about the series, asking him why he liked it so much, and he explained that he “just really like(d) the characters and the suspense.”  I turned around, clutching my tome, and smiled at the mom as if to subliminally communicate, “Good on you, mom, for encouraging your son to read.  You’re doing alright.”  Thankfully I think she got my telepathic message instead of assuming I was hitting on her, and offered a nice knowing smile in return.

I don’t know if kids loving books and reading really means anything about the future of humanity, but witnessing that seemed somehow refreshing and restorative of my faith therein.  Maybe that’s bad… that something as simple and one-time commonplace seems to me so impactful.. probably something wrong with me and not some grand statement on society though.

Gotta go, Towers of Midnight is calling to me.  Goodnight.

castles on the moon

Turned out to be a pretty strange, loosely-connected deal today friends. Came easy though so let’s run with it.

When I was a tween I was big into all things occult. Not to say I was a practicing version of anything, rather that I was just intrigued by the mystical and magical and unexplained. I’ve written about this before, I think.

I sat riveted to television shows about ghosts and UFOs and cults and other manner of unexplained phenomenon. Which, at that time, before the great “paranormal bastardization” of cable channels like TLC, Discovery, and the History Channel, were a more rare occurrence on television. I checked out and devoured books from the local library on psychic phenomenon, spontaneous human combustion, witchcraft, Stonehenge, Bigfoot, and the like. I don’t know what drew me so to this kind of stuff, which then seemed supremely interesting and truly mysterious and now seems just so many folks talking through their hats and is interesting mostly as a curious aspect of human nature. Anyway, I loved the stuff.

You can imagine, then, how awesome it was when I somehow convinced my folks to spring for a series of Time-Life books called Mysteries of the Unknown that I’d seen advertised on television. Looking back, I can’t imaging these were cheap, and I wonder at my parents’ willingness to purchase them on my behalf. There were thirty-three volumes in the set, and they’d send you a new one every month or so (remember when book-series’ like this were the rage?). Each volume focused on one of those so-loved “mysterious” pursuits of mine.

Holy crap I loved those books. And while I didn’t quite take them as gospel (the skeptic was strong in me, even then), I did at least ascribe them some credence. I remember vividly closing myself in my closet with my copy of Psychic Voyages, following to a tee the step-by-step instructions required for one to achieve “astral projection,” where the consciousness leaves the body and can travel seeing through the physical world. I was going to astral-project myself down the street, into the cul-de-sac, and into Mary’s bedroom if I had to try all damn afternoon. I never was able to have that out-of-body experience; never set foot in Mary’s room either (although I guess I could look for pictures of the modern-day version now that Sharaun is friends with her on the Facebook, if I really wanted to).

It was in these books somewhere that I learned that, in “the old days,” they used to hang bells above-ground with strings running down into the coffins of the newly-interred deceased. The idea being that, as death was more then often mispronounced for things like coma or other catatonic state, these poor buried-alive souls could then signal the world that they there were merely resting, not in final repose, but instead now awake and quite ready to be un-buried.

I don’t know why but that image concept really stuck with me as a kid, and I still use it as a powerful mental image for the intense fear that comes with utter helplessness. Even today, when that everyday entropy begins to weigh and I get the itch to “run away,” I see a mental image of a man furiously pulling a string he hopes is attached to a bell he can neither see nor hear. It’s a pretty striking picture of being “stuck” and wanting to change one’s present situation.


Later in life I had a brief obsession with one the series’ covered topics, alchemy. In my late twenties I got interested in the history and thought processes of the ancient physical alchemist, and subsequently the grafting of those physical precepts onto the field of psychology by Mr. Carl Jung. I wrote about that a little at some point too, I think over here. But for the most part I left the “mysteries of the unknown” for the tweenage me to ponder… and grew up into a mostly practical adult (who’s just a little given to whimsy).

What the heck am I talking about?  Goodnight.

PS – Kristina, if you’re out there, you still have some of my books.  Love you.

dwarves & princesses & castles

This week I started reading The Hobbit to Keaton before bedtime at night.

It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a while.  I loved the book when I was a kid but I haven’t read it since highschool.  I’m willing to admit that she’s likely a little young still to really comprehend the story completely… but I’d talked to her about “someday” reading it together and she wouldn’t let it go.  And, actually, so far she seems to be managing decently.

She asks questions and knows which characters are doing what.  She knows a bunch of dwarves showed up at Bilbo’s house, along with a wizard, and that they did some singing (for which dad dutifully invented a tune and actually sung) and some talking about adventures.  She knows Bilbo doesn’t like adventures and isn’t a burglar.

Every night we start our fifteen minutes of reading with a thirty second recap of where we left off the night before.  She was thrilled that, within the first ten pages or so, they mentioned dwarves and princesses and castles.  “I didn’t know The Hobbit had princesses, Dad!”

I’m hoping that as we get into the book she has enough retention to enjoy it.

And hey, “worst” case we read it all over again in a couple years.


a saturday to remember

Two-thousand ten.

Hard to believe that Sharaun and I will be married ten years this year. Veterans. Pillars. So long together now, if you count the years we dated (subtracting that self-imposed “break” around ’95 that she won’t let me talk about much), that I’ve been with her as long as I haven’t. Sixteen years without, seventeen with. Something to be said for longevity – and perhaps forgiveness and long-suffering too – I suppose.  I know, this paragraph reaches for continuity… but those ten years are the first thing I think of when I think about how it’s now two-thousand ten.  That, and that Keaton will be four and I’ll have been ten years at my job.  Or, is a “career” now?  When does that line get crossed?

Ten years.

I read Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises for the first time over the weekend. Made me half wish I could spend a year drinking my way around Europe, bankrupting myself halfheartedly chasing fleeting passions, having impossible conversations with a cadre of equally sloshed and disenfranchised comrades. But in addition to daydreaming about being part of the perennially-tight “lost generation,” reading the book piqued my interest in good literature again.  I found myself once again wanting to read.  I made a trip to a couple used book stores in town on Saturday, but came up short.  A visit to the library was disappointingly equally unsuccessful.  Not to say there wasn’t plenty of good reading to be had at each stop, just that I couldn’t find a single one of the ten or so tomes I’d set out to acquire.

Then I wondered about downloading books… maybe reading them on my iPhone or something.  At first, I wrote off the idea as stupid.  Who’d want to read from a screen, let alone a screen as small as the iPhone’s?  But, later that night as I lay in bed I decided to re-download the Stanza application for the phone.  As a test, I grabbed a free book from Project Gutenburg – Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.  At right around 100 printed pages I figured it’d be short enough to use as test.  Stayed up reading it in bed and, as I finger-flipped the last “page” I realized that, yes, I think I could read books on my phone.  I immediately set about finding some of the stuff I’d been out amongst the brick-and-mortar searching for.  Oh, it’s all there, but unfortunately most of the works carry a prohibitive pricetag.

In short order, however, I found a way “around” that and was able to load up my phone with all manner of classic  and “modern classic” literature.  I’m actually pretty excited to have a pocketful of good books with me at any time.  Now to see if I can truly adapt to reading things this way… I’ll keep you posted.

A couple paragraphs I wrote on the iPhone over the course of the weekend, to round things out:

Saturday we woke with an idea at grand plans on the day. Something as a family, something fun for Keaton. We took our time in the morning. I made coffee and Sharaun and Keaton had cereal. I read a little. By and by it was 10am and we thought we’d better firm up plans. 11am and some discussion later and we were no closer to anything material. We ate lunch and after that everything fizzled. We played a few games of memory together and ended up running errands and shopping for dinner. A Saturday to remember. Maybe next weekend.

Work begins back this week after what feels like a fantastically drawn out hiatus. I’m not exactly eager. I feel a bit too disconnected from what’s going on. I’ve felt this way before and it always passes naturally as I wade back in. Not sure where to get started, but it’s coming up on annual review time and I guess that’s about as important a piece of work as you can dig into. A good start, I suppose, to numb me back into the day-to-day of corporate infinity.


sore loser

Greetings, year of our Lord two-thousand and ten.  Greetings indeed.

Tell you what, you let the passing of the 00s help ease the memories of the worst of the mistakes made therein and I promise to make less in the 10s, OK?  Deal.

Wednesday Keaton and mom were playing Memory.  Remember that game?  Little tiles with pictures on them, always in matching pairs, that you flip over and then hunt through looking for matches?  Of course, Keaton’s set the Disney® Princess™ version; need you even ask?  First game went to Sharaun and Keaton was not happy.  Her reaction was unlike anything I’ve seen from her before.  She got immediately frustrated.  She denied her mother’s win loudly, started grabbing for Sharaun’s pile of matches.  She then tried to deny her defeat.  “We weren’t even playing for a winner!,” she declared.  “I didn’t lose because there is no winner!  We weren’t playing it like a game!  We were just playing it!”  At that she stomped off back to her room and slammed the door.  Odd, irrational, and seemingly unprovoked.  She stayed back there pouting while Sharaun and I looked at each other, considering.

Yes, I’d never previously seen this behavior from our little angel.  I have, mind you, seen it before though.  From me.

And so I said silently to myself, “Lord… please help us teach Keaton patience and sportsmanship.  Please help her to best the me in her in this regard.”

While my folks were here they recommended a book called The Road to me, said they thought I’d dig it.  I bought it, and read it through, on Tuesday.  Powerful book; hard to put down and as such a quick read.  Well written and came nicely to life inside my head.  Apparently there’s a movie now.  After my birthday, I told myself that I needed to shake this fantasy-only book kick I’ve been on since… oh, I don’t know… twenty years gone now…

See, I got the latest novel in the Wheel of Time series for my birthday.  You know, the massive fantasy series I’ve been reading, off and on, since college?  Yeah – that long.  I’ve re-read the series once in its entirety to catch up when a new book is released… but at 10,000+ pages it’s more than a quick effort as a refresher. I devoured it, feeling accomplished at finally coming to the end while there are yet books to be published.

See, this last one was supposed to be the final book, was supposed to end it all.  But the author died before he could bring it to a close.  His wife, who’s also his editor, asked a young fantasy writer at the same publisher to take up her late husband’s extensive and detailed notes and finished his unfinished masterpiece.  Only, the new guy, upon seeing the original authors final story arc, deemed it impossible to fit into a single volume and so now we have three final volumes, spread over three years.  So, even though I thought I’d be done, turns out I’m still only through twelve volumes of an eventual fourteen… and have at least another two years to wait.

In the meantime though, I have to diversify my reading material more than I have in the past years (thanks Ham On Rye, Vonnegut, and On the Road).

Goodnight.  Happy New Year.

read a book, fell in love

Hi people.

I’m sitting in the Portland airport right now. I have 59% battery on the laptop and approximately two hours to kill. I don’t know why I booked my flight so late, I think maybe I was using it as a “test case” to see if I could do an entirely public-transit based day-trip into the local sawmill.

Leave California around 6:30am, arrive in Portland around 8:45am. Hop the train from the airport towards work, arrive via shuttle van just shy of 10am. Work till around 4:30pm, take the shuttle van to the train, train to the airport, and clear security just before 6pm. Thing is, my flight’s not until 8:45pm. I think I did this just in case, assuming I could get on standby for the earlier flight if I broke speed records (I did, and I couldn’t, economically).

So then, here I am. Nursing the first of at least a few tall black-and-tans, pondering what to eat even though my bowels protest (I think they’re grumpy from not having a decent at-home evacuation today… 4am was just too early for them, and they do tend to get upset when they get off-schedule).

But, even though I’m weary from the rigors of travel, I count two good things which came of today: 1) I got do some much-missed reading-for-pleasure, and 2) I totally fell in love in the security line. Let’s take them in reverse order.

Cut to security line at the airport. The girl in front of me is small, slimish with crinkled-curly dirty-blonde hair. From behind, she looks plausible, but I’ll need frontal confirmation to say for sure. Suddenly, as we progressed through the ranks of the line, awaiting our turns to undress and empty our pockets as a thick, symbolic American middle-finger to Al Qaeda, my opportunity arose.

Roses and Cigarettes, as I have since fondly dubbed her, dropped her black belt on the ground – and failed to notice. As she continued to disrobe, gradually revealing her diminutive figure in what I imagined as a private audience, I stooped to retrieve the belt. “Excuse me, I think you dropped this,” I said casually to her back. As she turned, her sharp features came into view: An isosceles nose and angular jaw, not manlike, but designed. Her curly, almost crunchy looking, hair framed her face well, and she replied though thin lips, “Thank you so much, I kinda need that, huh?”

“No! No! You need neither that, nor any other clothing in my presence!,” my lustful heart wanted to cry.

“Guess so,” was the tepid response my level-headed brain formed in my mouth instead.

At least I remembered to smile my best smile while speaking, and was met with one just as warm and promising in return (and, in my head, no doubt).

Presently, I was aware of her scent as we moved: An overpowering wash of roses and cigarettes, the stink of the latter somehow imbued with the headiness of the former, combining into some sort of otherworldly aphrodisiac scent that said, “I’m delicate and feminine, but I totally do it.” It was only later, after using the restroom, that I realized the scent had been transferred, permanent-for-the-night, to my hand, presumably from my brief belt-fetching. (Yes, I do make it a habit of sniffing my hands after washing them in the restroom. It’s some compulsive thing I do to ensure my hands are truly “clean,” regardless of #1 or #2.)

Back in the present, Rosed and Cigarettes preceded me through the portal-of-ensuritude and we both began to reclaim our clothing and ore-laden effects from the rolling belts on the other side. As she redressed next to me, I sighed, overly loud, as I re-threaded my belt through the loops of my sliperry, pleatless, cuffless, khakis, in hopes she would hear. She did. Turning, in all her pale crisp-angled glory, to me and speaking, she said, “Take care,” as I walked away. “Thanks,” I replied, “you too.”

And, as I walked away towards my gate, my heart crumbled to dust at the prospect of the life I’d lost for not being with her.

Secondthingwise, I read a book today on the plain/train/shuttle. A book a friend loaned me because he said I needed to read the author’s work. He even commented as such right here on this very blogish thing. When I saw him this weekend, I borrowed one he recommended, and set about digging in today. I hadn’t intended to day-read it, but it was short and really good and I totally got sucked in. It was called A Maze of Death and it was a kind of theological/metaphysical/sci-fi mashup that I totally dug. Anyway, whenever I read something, I have this misconception that it makes me write better. I have no idea from whence this delusion comes, but I labor under it still. In fact, I wrote a ton today on the train in between fits of reading; all of it thumbed into my BlackBerry in a gush. I decided, however, after some consult, to leave over these bits for tomorrow – as having them pre-written will afford me an evening “off.” Unfortunately (right?) for you, this means you’ll have to to wait.

Speaking of the train (I was, I swear), it always amazes me how many people stumble onto public transit in the early-morning still reeking of liquor. Today, as the train hit its downtown run, at least three people wobbled on looking worse for wear and emanating the sickly-sweet aroma of a night spent in the bottle. One guy even paced the center aisle in a decidedly certifiable stomp, back and forth, back and forth, chuckling loudly to some unheard joke replaying silently for him alone, making everyone uncomfortable. These roll-your-own-smokes types seem to flock to the train, maybe as shelter from the biting cold outside on the concrete where they live. For me, to wake up smelling of booze is an awful, shameful thing. The kind of thing that will get you in deep trouble with the Lord and make your soul weep. I can’t imagine reconciling myself to a life of waking up that way. It must be terribly depressing.

I should so be writing employee reviews right now, but I’ve squandered my battery life on blogging. Tsk-tsk. Looks like tomorrow will be a late night getting things finalized. Good thing I have boxed-content ready to go, hope you don’t mind leftovers.

And, 23% battery dictates I now say: Love you all truly and deeply and madly. Goodnight.