Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2020

Archive for the category “Writing”

Shifting Gears

Sometimes changes are thrust upon us by circumstances beyond our control. Being the Wannabe control freak that I am I do not like such changes – but like everyone else I have to accept and live with them.

I’m dealing with one such change right now.

With all of the Fooferaw about this virus thing I’d been hearing about there was one change that really tossed my routine into the laundry hamper of my life.

For a number of years I was used to getting up in the morning, driving down to the nearby St. Arbucks and writing for an hour or two. Six days a week I did that – and then that Corona Sumptin or Other butted in.

St. Arbucks became a Drive-Thru only and I was left on the outside looking in. Horror of Horrors! Oh, the Humanity! My writing sanctuary was taken away from me. Why didn’t they just cut off my fingers and gouge out my eyes? I don’t care what any says – writing at the Kitchen Table just wasn’t the same. There were just too many distractions.

Circle The Wagons!

This sudden and sadistic exile didn’t completely stop me from going down the street and getting my coffee. It just changed the How and Why of it all. My trips for coffee became social outings rather than creative efforts. I would abase myself by going through the line and getting my coffee handed to me from a small window. Doing it that way ended my free refills (Sob, Sob).

After being handed my plastic cup of iced coffee I would drive around the building and into the Kroger supermarket parking lot and join four or five other exiled coffee sippers who had set up an impromptu and ad hoc Gypsy encampment. Instead of writing every morning I was now spending my time chewing the fat with other retirees. It was a pleasant diversion, but nothing was getting written.

It was during this caffeinated diaspora that I restarted this blog with a weekly rather than a daily output. Writing any longer Fiction became almost impossible. All I could produce were 500 – 700 word bursts of extended random thoughts.

This Parking Lot Coffeehenge of circled SUVs went on all through the Spring and Summer. It was in early September that things began to look up. It was then that they unlocked the doors at St. Arbucks. We could go inside to order, and we could stay inside but there were only a few randomly placed seats. Our solution was to loiter outside in what the Manager of the store called “The Patio.” The Patio was about five feet wide and thirty feet long – not a traditional design. This same crew of Geezers was happy to move from the parking lot to The Patio just because it also opened up their emergency access to the Men’s Room. There were a few available tables available I was additionally happy because I could now get my free refills! This “better than nothing” improvement was a relief but it was still not helping my writing.

In Mid-September my prayers were answered…to a degree. Actually it was a lack of degrees that made me smile. We had a cold snap that made our early morning Patio Parties unbearable. I was not going to sit out there when it was only 8 degrees above freezing! I was the first one of our Senior Citizen Play Group to move inside. They were nice fellows but I wasn’t going to freeze for them.

For the first few days I was inside all alone and, wonder of wonders, I was able to write again! After about a week of icy temperatures the guys began to join me inside. Their Senior Bones had begun to object to the chill. On most days this group would begin to arrive at about 7:30 AM. When I was inside all alone I began to be creative, but when they followed me into the warmer interior everything fell apart again. My only solution was to come in even earlier than they could handle.

The St. Arbucks had returned to their earlier business hours opening at 5:30 AM for the Insomniacs and Methheads who were still up from last Wednesday…and the odd writer or two. I altered my schedule to arrive at about 6:00 AM to give me a good 90 minutes of writing time. It works for me. I get my work done and I remain a Social Animal.

I am once again a Happy Scribbler.

As I Was Saying…

“Why use ten words when a hundred will do quite nicely, eh?”

Those words were spoken to me by my wife this morning. I had been trying to explain something to her. I was simply trying to make myself understood when she made the comment above. I must admit that her synopsis of my explanation, which took only twelve words, was perfectly accurate. Twelve words that clearly stated what I was halfway through page two with.

All I want is to make sure that both you and I understand fully whatever it is that I’m trying to say. I want there to be no ambiguity or confusion so I will present a complete explanation of all… OK, I’ll acknowledge that I do tend to ramble on.

I’m doing it right now aren’t I?

What can I say? I’m a fan of words. Language to me is a great and wonderful toy. On some occasions it is like a Rubik’s Cube puzzle that needs twisting and turning to find the solution. Other times the words, any words, are like a cryptic and mysterious code that makes no sense at all until you find the key, the right words to make it sing.

This is the reality whether you are writing Fiction or Nonfiction. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between them anyway. At least it is with me.

I started writing when i was just a kid. I’d started reading even earlier. At the age of six I had my own library card. Once I learned how to read the books in the “Children’s Room” I knew that I could write better ones. I found a collaborator (Marty who lived down the block) and we began cranking out Cowboy and Indian stories that we thought would take the world by storm.

We were wrong.

Like any writers, of any age, we were always looking for approval (Positive Reviews). Marty went to the public elementary school nearby. I went to St. Mary’s Catholic elementary school. What better places to find critics? Marty took our stories to his teacher. I took them to Sister Mary Butch.

Marty’s teacher thought that our stories were the best thing since School Lunch Macaroni and Cheese. She praised our efforts and encouraged us mightily.

Sister Mary Butch said that we were wasting our time and that we were both going to Hell.

Marty got support and encouragement. He grew up to be a Doctor. I was belittled and damned to eternal perdition. I’m still looking for a sympathetic critic who isn’t my wife. Thanks, Sister.

As a result of these early literary traumas I’m still writing. Behind me I have left a trail of Fiction, Nonfiction, Textbooks, Speeches, Five years worth of Blogging, Jokes for Comedians, and the odd Theatrical opus or two. All of it just because that nun didn’t recognize juvenile genius. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

And so I keep writing.

I have a number of the proverbial Works In Progress stacked up awaiting editing, a second draft, or a future as kindling. I am determined to finish these stories, but I’ll tell you one thing – I’m not taking any of them over to Sister Mary Butch.

It Is Time

TIME PASSES. TIME ALSO ARRIVES. AND TIME HAS ARRIVED HERE.

This blog has been going since November of 2014 with well over 1500 postings of varying quality and meaning to be sure.

But now I feel that it is time to pull the plug. Today will be the last day for this blog.

I am tired. My mind is tired and my body is not as cooperative as it used to be. I feel unable to sharply observe the world around me and I don’t really have anything left to say.

To those of you who have been with me on this excursion from the early days – I thank you for your mysterious loyalty and the countless comments you have launched in my direction.

So, as I wrap up this chapter of my life, I urge you to love one another.Tell people that you love them. Hug them often. Don’t let them feel lonely.

Thank You and Goodbye.

John

Here Comes 2020….Duck!

THIS IS GETTING RIGHT DOWN TO THE WIRE. Today and Tomorrow and that’s it – a new year and a new decade.

2020? That doesn’t even look real. It looks like a date out of a bad Science Fiction movie.

“It was 2020 on the Third Moon of Zoltar.”

It may sound and look cheesy, but it is real and I’m sure it will take me until Mid-May before I stop writing 2019 on checks and other things. I tend to be a little behind the curve on those things. It will finally start to register in my brain when I start getting complaints from my bank.

2020? Doesn’t it seem like it was just last week that we were fussing and fuming about “Y2K” and how

the world was going to shut down? That didn’t happen, did it? I’m not sure.

2020? I’m not sure that I’m ready for it. 2020 sounds so…permanent, like it means business and isn’t going to take any more guff from people like me.

2020 sounds like a date doesn’t even need a New Year’s Eve to get people ready for the change. If you are not fully prepared for it 2020 will slap you around until you quit whining.

2020 sounds like a Mixed Martial Arts kind of a year – anything goes and you better protect yourself against those kicks to the groin. It reeks of, “I’m rough. I’m tough and I have a secret Sleeper Hold if you get out of line.”

2019 Going Down

If we can get through 2020 we will then bump into 2021. That year, on the other hand, sounds like a misstep, a stumble on a crack in the sidewalk. 2021 will just fill up a space in time. It’s 2020 we have to watch out for.

The term 20/20 also has a meaning referring to supposedly ideal vision. Since my cataract surgery two years ago I now have 20/20 vision, but it is far from ideal. I can now see more clearly the things that I cannot afford to have.

2020 is different things to different people. I have already received a new 2020 calendar and within thirty seconds it gave me a nasty paper cut.

I can take a hint.

The Habit Of Love

IN ANSWER TO A NUMBER OF REQUESTS FROM READERS WHO WANTED TO READ THIS ONE MORE TIME. 

FROM JULY 3OTH 2019

 

THE HABIT OF LOVE

I WAS IN A DISCUSSION THE OTHER DAY ABOUT GOOD HEALTHY HABITS. There was talk about eating the right things, seeing your Doctor regularly, and getting enough exercise. I can’t really argue with any of those things. They all come under the heading of “Duh!”

As this discussion went back and forth with people offering up their own special dietary favorites and exercise routines I sat on the sidelines. I was taking it all in, but not offering anything of my own. I was thinking. That can take some time. My brain has to warm up first. Trying to come up with an idea too soon and I could pull a lobe.

While I stood by listening to the others I noticed that all of their “Healthy Habits” had to do with the heath of their physical bodies, but none for their spirit or soul. That concerned me. My physical habits are generally pretty crappy so I try to take care of my Soul/Spirit/Being – whatever you want to call it.

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Survivors!

WELL, I’M GOING TO ASSUME THAT, IF YOU ARE READING THIS, YOU ARE STILL ALIVE. In some cases I know that that may be a bit of a stretch, but it does look as if you made it through another Christmas.

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Christmas Dinner – and then there is a day of Christmas Leftovers and Batteries not included. That seems to be the Order of Battle

For me that day after Christmas usually involves multiple trips to the supermarket for a can of this or that and a Dollar Store Safari for batteries of the size I failed to buy before Christmas. How was I to know that nothing uses “D” size batteries anymore? If you ever find that you need some “D” batteries let me know because I have a boxcar load of them out in the garage. Most of them may be thirty years old, but they can be yours at a reasonable price.

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Throwback Thursday From December 2016 – “I Have Not Done This Well”

new2OK, WE HAVE CHRISTMAS OUT OF THE WAY. The eggnog has been thankfully disposed of until next year. Christmas carols are over until Thanksgiving – except on the Hallmark Channel. New Year’s Day kind of takes care of itself with football, aspirin and drawn shades. I guess our next societal obligation is the making of New Year’s Resolutions. I suggest doing that before going out on New Year’s Eve. Doing it after that carries the danger of it being a product of desperation, shame, and physical pain.

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Merry Christmas To You All!

christmas

 

 

 

Enjoy this day with your Family and Friends!

 

Fa, la, la, la, la.

We’ve Made It This Far

 

OH, MY GOODNESS! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

It’s Christmas Eve already? The calendar says so, but I never completely trust those calendars anyway. Those are the crazy things that claim that March 21st is the First Day of Spring and I can usually look out of any window and see a foot of snow.

No, I realize that this is Christmas Eve by looking around this old house in Texas and seeing all of these people (half of them kids) gathered about awash in gifts and wrapping paper. That, not a calendar, tells me that it is Christmas Eve in Texas.

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“Gramma’s House.”

 

WE ARE BACK IN TEXAS AGAIN. We come down here every Christmas as the entire family gathers at the Family homestead.

Everyone calls it “Gramma’s House.” Married in 1941 just before the start of the Second World War the house finally got built in 1947 when the chaos subsided. It was a small house, but when the first baby arrived it was obvious that expansion was needed. When babies #2 and #3 showed up in 1949 and 1954 it became time for some serious additions to the original floor plan.

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Feuding And Fussing

FAMILY FEUD? OH, YEAH, LET ME GET ON THAT ONE FOLKS. Heh, Heh, Heh. I’d make Steve Harvey lose control of his… Oh, never mind. It ain’t gonna ever happen. It sure wouldn’t be a pretty picture.

I remember when that show first appeared on the scene with Richard Dawson as the Host. He was a British Actor/Comedian best known in the country from his regular stint on “The Match Game” (another game show) and the TV show “Hogan’s FAMILY Heroes.” For you younger readers “Hogan’s Heroes was a rollicking Sitcom set in a Nazi Prisoner of War Camp – a place always known for its laughs.

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Throwback Thursday From December 2016 – “Welcome To Whine Country”

giphy-3IF THERE IS ONE THING THAT REALLY TICKS ME OFF about my fellow human beings it is listening to them whine.

When I hear a grown person whining about anything I just want to walk right up to them and slap them silly. That would give them something to really whine about.

I know I can’t do that, but I can dream can’t I?

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Flying The Crazy Skies

I FLEW BACK FROM FLORIDA YESTERDAY…and, boy are my arms tired. Not from flapping them like wings, but from dealing with a crazy person on the plane.

For some strange reason Southwest Airlines figured out that it would be good business to have a flight from Fort Lauderdale to Indianapolis at 6:30 AM. What??? I don’t get it either. At that time of day you are only going to have customers who have been drinking all night, an assortment of crazy people, and a few folks who are so strung out they don’t know what planet they are on. Oh, yeah, and then there was me just trying to get back to Terre Haute (That’s French for, “That woman is crazy.”)

A 6:30 AM flight boards at 6:00 AM. I had to return my rental car so push back my arrival time at the airport another half hour. We are now talking about Official Werewolf Time. Why do I do these things to myself? For a ticket that is half the cost of the flight at 9:30 AM that’s why.

So here I am at Gate A-4 at about 5:30 AM. Looking about I can see three other people; the Southwest Agent at the desk, and two young women who are getting ready to open up the Starbucks on the other side of the empty concourse. I’m the only one who looks like I’m planning on going anywhere.

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Are You Being Served?

 

HERE WE GO AGAIN. We are now in the throes of the Christmas Shopping Season. The online vendors are doing business at an astounding level and Shopping Malls are hanging on by a slender thread.

The Retail World is changing…Again.

For thousands of years the individual merchant did business one customer at a time, one sale at a time. The customer went to the merchant’s shop to find what they needed. Then in the late 19th Century we saw (Well, not me personally) the rise of the Department Store.

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Searching For High Quality Trash

 

HOW SOON AFTER GETTING UP IS IT ALLOWABLE TO TAKE A NAP? I think I may be pushing it a bit, but I got up at 7:30 this morning. It is now 11:10 AM and I’m seriously considering a little nappy-poo. I know that sounds nasty but…I don’t care.

It is now 3:37 PM.

It was a good little nap. I agree with you. A four and a half nap does border on a coma, but I felt it was also somewhat medicinal. Take a pill or two; lay down for just a minute…BOOM! Its late afternoon. I had plans. So much for them.

It is time to go on to Plan B. Get up, put on pants, and go buy a couple of souvenir T shirts. It’s obligatory in Florida. There is probably a law on the books here, “Don’t buy a cheap T shirt and we feed you to the gators.” People disappear all the time down here. They vanish forever or just show up at the Mayo Clinic. “I was standing in the buffet line when, all of a sudden, I blacked out and woke up in Minnesota.”

I’m going out to hunt for cheap T Shirts. Wish me luck.

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Those Days Are Coming

 

ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS I DID ONCE I LANDED IN FLORIDA was to locate the nearest Starbucks. No matter where I am I gotta have my morning coffee. My afternoon and evening coffee too, but that should be obvious. The closest Chapel of St. Arbucks to my lodging is about two miles away. I can live with that. I have to. But all Starbucks are not the same.

While the buildings vary little from state to state, country to country, but the clientele is unique to each store. On a college campus most of the customers will have just finished puberty, while in Midtown Manhattan the majority of the sippers will have high blood pressure and be paying child support. This week I am in sunny South Florida.

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Throwback Thursday From December 2016 – “The Name Game”

f0bf7e046eb40ca7200c68cb9f6c806bI TOOK MYSELF ON A LITTLE FACT FINDING MISSION the other day. It was inspired by seeing a picture of the actress Tuesday Weld. Most men my age remember her from the TV show, “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.” She played the gorgeous blonde Thalia Menninger. After she left the show nobody cared about it any longer.

My research topic had little to do with the lovely Thalia, but more to do with Tuesday – and Wednesday and Thursday, etc.

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By The Sea, By The Sea

 

GUESS WHERE I’M AT? NO. NO. NO, NOT THERE EITHER. I AM IN FLORIDA -The Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Area. What am I doing down there when there is a perfectly good winter going on in Indiana without me? Well, for at least a few days, that is the idea.

Ever since our five week visit to Ireland I have been cold – freezing even. I needed to do something or I was afraid that I would not survive to see another Springtime. The cold feeling exhausted me. I was empty Physically, Emotionally, Creatively, and even Socially. I felt like I was an empty shell with freezer burn. I hated feeling like that and I don’t think I was very good company for anybody. I was either silent or snapping at everyone – and that’s just not like me. Going to where it was still warm so I could thaw myself was the solution. So here I am in Florida.

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Taxes On The Spin Cycle

 

THE WORLD IS MADE OF PEOPLE, THINGS, AND EVENTS. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell one from another. Which is it? Am I reacting to the person, what I am seeing, or what is going down? I guess the reality is that, in most cases, it is a combination of the three.

Such is one unusual thing that happened to me in, of all places, the neighborhood laundromat. The laundromat is not my usual haunt. I don’t think I have any “usual” haunts just a bunch of verifiably “Unusual” ones.

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Sic Transit Alfalfa

I HAD THE ULTIMATE FLASHBACK THIS MORNING.

The fact that it all happened at a little after 5 AM made it even more unusual.

As I do most mornings I am up early because… because my eyes pop open like two deviled eggs and I cannot roll over and go back to sleep.

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