Cutting back

bothendsAs some of my readers are aware, I have two blogs, this one (SITS) and Limping in the Light (LITL). Keeping up two separate blogs, even as minimalist as these two are, is a significant amount of work, especially if quality is an important consideration in their content, which it is to me anyway. I’ve written about time constraints and priorities in another post, so I won’t bore you with it (again) here.

Combine these blogs and the daily mundane activities of life with attempts to actually write stories to be sold, published, or otherwise used beyond the realm of the blogosphere and there’s a serious conflict. Something’s gotta give. Everything we do represents something we don’t do because that slice of time and energy has become unavailable.

The conflict is illustrated most tangibly blog-wise when I take shortcuts, such as using the same post in both blogs (q.v. here), write skimpy posts (q.v. here), and when I’m late with a post (q.v. what you’re reading now, one day late.) On the whole I’ve maintained an exemplary record, considering the longevity of the blogs. LITL spans over five years and 300 posts while its little brother SITS is comprised of about 70 entries spread over the last 14 months.

Not a bad run, but it’s going to slow to a walk after today.

In order to devote more time to my “job”, i.e. writing – and also to accommodate some other “opportunities” insinuating themselves into my life – I’m cutting back to one post a week total, that is, for both blogs. From today forward, I’ll write a single post per week, the intent being to alternate between the two platforms. The day of the week is TBD. Recommendations welcome.

This eases up the demands on my schedule, but it frees up your time, too.

You’re welcome.

The Night I Woke Up (part 4)

[People have been asking me where this is going and how long they have to wait to find out. Well, I know where it’s going – I lived it, after all – but the length of that road is as unknown to me as it is to my readers. There’s no GPS to help us along the way this time. We’re feeling our way in the dark through uncharted territories of memory.]

It’s not uncommon to hear someone speak glibly about a few moments feeling as if they were hours. We’re wise not to buy into such claims. Any imaginary extension of the time-space continuum is invariably a gross exaggeration. Whether they’re spent in a dentist chair or at a job interview, a minute is a minute and an hour is an hour.

Not so in a bathtub, evidently.

The time I spent cowering in that fixture might have been no more than two minutes, but it could have been hours. Time had truly lost meaning for me. The only concept I understood in those moments was terror.

The sound of raspy breathing wheezed through the open jalousie window above me. If I had reached my arm up, I could have touched it, but that was the last thing I would have done. A more immediate, if unrealistic, desire was to somehow slip between the porcelain and cast iron of the tub. Instead, I made myself as low profile as the film left by the previous bather.

What was there, standing, squatting, or otherwise looming on the other side of that wall? No imagination is more active than that of a young boy and mine was in overdrive. With plenty of time to dwell on my peril and more than enough fear to fuel the flame, all manner of evil tidings occupied my thoughts. An escaped convict? An alligator that had somehow acquired the ability to scale a wall? Why stop with known creatures? It could have been some mythical juvenile-eating beast that had caught the scent of fresh meat. Giant irradiated arachnids, dinosaurs, and aliens weren’t too far flung for my phobias.

To be honest, I was totally ignorant of the fauna of the east coast of Florida, as I was of most things that didn’t affect me directly. Such is the self-obsession of the average pre-teen boy and I was no exception. In this case, it might have done further harm as my imagination roamed far beyond the limits of local wildlife. Bears, lions, dingoes, and wolves might not have been native to the area, but they freely ranged in my mind.

I fully expected an arm or a claw or a fang to come crashing through that window, showering my puny body with glass before it was pierced and carried away by the nameless and faceless monster.

The breathing continued. Otherwise, the silence of the house and the outside world continued. The light in the bathroom only seemed to grow brighter, my vulnerability more intense. I was aware of my own trembling. How long can a boy hold his breath?

Then another step.


Remember the future

obsoleteNo one needs to be reminded of the transitory nature of this life. Today is a memory before we have a chance to make sense of it. Those times we breathlessly look forward to become vague memories while they are still echoing in our minds.

I’ve written on this topic before, which gives you some idea of how close to my heart it is. The speed at which the highly anticipated future becomes the distant path can be downright frightening. How desperately we want to hold onto those moments in a more tangible form than an elusive and fleeting memory.

Even the title of this blog, “Scribbling in the Sand” speaks to the futility of trying to extend ourselves beyond ourselves. Those scribbles are washed away with the next tide, in whatever form its breakers take.

Look no further than the mundane articles of our daily lives to demonstrate this concept in the most concrete manner possible. Every day, some of our most wonderful innovations are relegated to the scrap heap of history (which is shipped to China to be recycled into future scrap heap candidates).

Here is just a tiny percentage of those once-precious items that have disappeared in my years:

  • Slide rules – Remember those? They were indispensable before they were obsoleted by calculators. Oops! Remember those?
  • Encyclopedias – Not the democratic virtual kind. I’m talking about the honkin’ multi-volume, sold-door-to-door beasts that still sit in the basements of people who can’t imagine tossing such storehouses of knowledge, regardless of how useless and outdated they might be.
  • Dial and corded phones – First we had the hefty black monstrosities that could double as weapons that – in many a noir film – would be used to knock the bad guy into the middle of next week. Can you imagine doing that with your iPhone? Goodbye “Princess” phone, knots in the cord, “Dial M for Murder”, and yanking phones off tables as we reached for a pen to write down the number of the person calling. (Another unnecessary action due to caller ID.)
  • Station wagons – Before the minivan and the (God help us) SUV, extended families cruised the country in comfort in these beauties.
  • Phone booths – What’s a Superman to do? The empty chrysalises of countless phones now unbound can be seen across the land.
  • Civility in public discourse – This is a whole ‘nother story. Let’s hope it isn’t a permanent scrap heap dweller, though I harbor little hope for that in my lifetime.

pocketNo small amount of technology has come and gone over the same period: acoustic modems (I’m old enough to remember when 9600 baud was screamin’ fast), 8-tracks, cassettes, and videotapes all had their brief flicker of utility. In fact, all “tape” is gone – except that of the duct, masking, and Scotch varieties – but the name lives on as we talk about taping TV shows, with no tape is involved.

A few things out there are barely hanging on or have been relegated to the role of novelty. Vinyl records refuse to give up, but they’re only a niche. Virtually all media except various forms of computer memory (increasingly of the solid-state species, though all bets are off if “the cloud” has its way) have no real raison d’etre anymore.

The same can be said of watches, books, newspapers, and writing in cursive. A day may come when the only people who see such relics do so as they scratch their heads walking by museum exhibits.

drive-inAlthough most of them have become land for low income housing, strip malls, and office parks, here’s hoping that a remnant of drive-ins survive into the future. They’d be missed at least as much as any extinct species.

In the “we hardly knew ye” category, you’ll find flash-in-the-pan technologies such as laser discs, Betamax, HD-DVD, and PDA’s.

It’s hard to say goodbye to some things. The GPS, itself now a dispensable technology in its standalone form, eliminated the need to give directions. I say “need” not so much for the recipient of those directions as for the giver. We all know folks who live to provide detailed directions of the best possible route(s) to our destination. When I recognize that craving, I generally allow the speaker the opportunity to give vent to his passion. Then I return to Google Maps or a GPS and find the best route for myself. No endless discussion of the best shortcut, most scenic route, or least traffic.

While I don’t miss LP’s so much, I do mourn the loss of album packaging. Some of that album art was suitable for mounting and hanging on your wall. (I have just two words for you: Roger Dean.) A few releases contained enough junk to overflow a fan’s scrapbook, e.g. The Who, “Live at Leeds” or “Chicago at Carnegie Hall”. Sure they were extravagant and pompous, but so was the music and we loved it.

CD’s never offered such wit and variety. And downloads? Fuhgeddaboudit.

I don’t wish to live in the past, but it would be nice if some of the past still lived here.

[By the way, if you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that the smartphone (beginning with the iPhone) is the perpetrator of many in these untimely demises. Not that it’s wrong, just saying is all.]

Life is long… and short

Is it possible for two seemingly opposite statements to both be true? On the face of it, the answer would be no, but not so fast. We deal with such incongruities all the time.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting that as a true statement. Yet, we’ve all experienced the veracity of “out of sight, out of mind.”

Christian theology is filled with such contradictions. God is one but God is three. We have free will, but God is sovereign and predetermines our eternal fates.

When it comes to one particular adage, I can’t disagree with one of my favorite characters from another of my favorite under-appreciated movies: Lamarr from “That Thing You Do” says:

"Slow down, young squire. Life is long."
“Hey, hey, hey! Slow down there, young squire. Life is long.”

Lots of folks say life is fleeting and you have to squeeze as much into every moment as possible. But if Lamarr says life is long, who am I to disagree? He’s one of my heroes and he’s never steered me wrong. Think about the last time you were in the dentist chair. Did life go by fast? Or when you’re waiting for the results of a job application or medical test? Or for the writers out there, how about when you’re waiting for a response to a query letter?

In those cases, and in many others, life is indeed looooooooooooooooooong.

At the same time, life is way too short. If you have kids, you know exactly what I’m talking about. One day, they’re potty-training, seemingly the next, they’re finishing a doctoral thesis on string theory (or string cheese; I can never tell the difference). Life couldn’t go any faster than that.

I’m not the first and I won’t be the last to declare how life speeds up as you age. The more years behind you, the shorter the ones ahead. A classic example: When I was in school, summer lasted forever. Those two months, after all, were a significant percentage of my life. Now they represent a miniscule fraction of the whole and the season’s gone before I’ve had time to make vacation plans.

None of this is new; everyone pays lip service to it. But few behave any differently in the face of the increasing velocity of life. Ironically, Lamarr’s advice applies here as well, “Slow down, young squire.” Appreciate the fleeting moment. Get off the information superhighway.

Instead of giving more and creating more, we (myself included) bury ourselves, our gifts, and our talents in a jumble of iDevices, sports, lame TV and movies, innumerable tweets, and more added to the mess every day.

To once more quote the incomparable Lamarr, “Now where I come from, that just ain’t right.”