Whoever invented the gun should be shot

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So here we are again, in October of 2017, with another mass shooting in America and another great loss of life. Sad to say, it will happen again. And again. Don’t blame the guns, the gun lovers say. Well, why not? Were it not for his 23 guns, this man could not have carried out his heinous mission. Without guns, there is no way he could have killed so many people so quickly.  Without guns, he likely would not have had the courage, or even the idea, to do what he did. Oh yes, the guns are culpable alright, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The guns greatly facilitated the killing and the murderous intent, making it quite effortless and efficient. Brutally engineered “improvements” and increases in a gun’s killing power over the years make it all so very easy. Does anyone really believe that the normalization and glamorization of gun culture is not a lure for wannabe killers?

And please tell me, why does any private individual need to own an automatic weapon? For protection? From what, and whom? We have a military and police forces for such protection (I know, you don’t trust them, or anyone. See next paragraph). I don’t hear many stories where an automatic weapon in the hands of a private individual saved an innocent, or innocents, from harm. I do hear lots of stories where they cause harm – and great harm. And even if there are cases where they have saved lives, is it really worth the other side of the coin? The side where some whack-job takes out a whole movie theater full of people, or school full of children, or night club full of dancers, or arena full of teenagers?

If we’re going to buy into the argument that people have a right to defend themselves with ever-more destructive weapons, then where does it end? Do we eventually allow private citizens to own nuclear weapons? Absurd, you say? Well, if it is absurd, then you must believe there is a limit. So where is it? The NRA seems to think it’s OK for people to own increasingly, ridiculously lethal weapons with enough firepower to decimate scores of people in one fell swoop. Does that indefensible stance really make sense to anyone? It’s a private-level arms race, a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses, a rationale that the private citizen needs weapons on par with those the government and the military use, to protect themselves from that same government and military. All I can say to that is this: if the government or military is coming for you, there’s nothing you or your paranoid arsenal can do to stop them. So, what was your argument again?

And if people really want to kill each other, make them do it the hard, old-fashioned way – with clubs and knives, or maybe even hand to hand combat. Make them work for it. Make them get their hands dirty instead of hiding comfortably in a hotel room far from the carnage. Make them see, up close, the horror they’re causing, the bloodshed, the pain. Make them be a part of it, not apart from it. Make them settle their blood lust conventionally, one person at a time, and give the people they’re attacking a fighting chance to defend themselves. Do you think some of the overcompensating misfits currently hiding behind their assault rifles would perhaps think twice? Maybe find an outlet for their powerlessness other than the one that uncontrolled firepower conveniently lays at their feet?

Guns are a cowardly way to kill people, and even more so animals, which is what these mass killers seem to be treating people as (hunting is another reason the gun lobby likes to cite as justification for assault weapons, as if deer are such a threat). To call hunting, of animals or people, a “sport” is laughable. Where’s the sport in gunning down defenseless and unsuspecting prey? I’m reminded of a great scene in the movie Crocodile Dundee where a gang of hoods who were shooting innocent kangaroos are suddenly pursued by a kangaroo with a gun (with a little help from the movie’s namesake). Ah, if the tables were only turned, maybe it would be the gun owners who would be crying for armistice.

My condolences, thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by today’s mass shooting, and all mass shootings. I wish I could say it would never happen again. I wish I could say we are learning from these tragedies.

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Five books a year

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I’ve spent half a lifetime accumulating books (anyone who’s helped me move will attest to this). I’ve been fascinated by them since high school, even though I didn’t particularly like being forced to read things that didn’t engage my interests at the time (does Beowulf engage anyone’s interests?). I recall being assigned Return of the Native, Pride and Prejudice, Tess of the d’Urbervilles and the like, none of which I’ve read to this day (thank God for Cliff Notes, the Wikipedia of the seventies). I did like Shakespeare, however, mostly the poetic Elizabethan sentences, and also Homer’s great adventure The Odyssey,  but it was still torture to get me through a whole book. Forcing someone to do something isn’t a good way to win an adherent, but I also had the added struggle of trying to focus my daydream-prone attention (oddly enough I was an honors student, so my focusing must have been selective). In today’s multi-tasking world, where myriad demands needle our frazzled attention spans, focusing is even more of a challenge. Nevertheless, I am more successful with my reading regimen today than I have ever been. Let me explain how this miracle happened.

The first book I remember reading to completion – I have a great habit of starting, but not finishing, books – is Stephen King’s The Stand, which I read during one of my high school summers. Without being forced. A paperback, no less (how quaint!) It was hardly a piece of literature, but I loved it and I felt good about finishing it (it’s a long book). It was a page turner, and King is, of course, an excellent writer.

Soon after graduating, I started collecting fine leather volumes from Easton Press. First I subscribed to their “Library of the Presidents” (a biography on each chief executive), and then to the “100 Greatest Books Ever Written.” They were beautiful books, and looked quite impressive in my oak bookcases with their gold-stamped, raised-hub spines and leathery smell. They also made me look quite erudite to visitors, even though I had hardly read any of them. Who has that kind of time? (the typical American supposedly reads five books a year. Yeah, I find that hard to believe, too. The typical American lies).  I was running my own business at the time and worked sixty-hour weeks, plus I’m a terribly slow reader. The writer in me mulls passages over in my mind and ruminates on them, marveling at their poetic structure or philosophical brilliance, which doesn’t lead to the page being turned very quickly. I daydream, I get sleepy, and before you know it, it’s lights out. So my beautiful books mostly sat and collected dust, moving with me from place to place (to place) while I promised to get to them, someday (retirement? The Old Folks’ Home?) After ten years or more of collecting, I had a good 200 volumes.

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My “100 Greatest Books Ever Written” bookcase

Fast forward a decade, when I decided to complete a degree in English Literature, finally and formally pursuing my interest in all things literary at the ripe age of fifty. Surprisingly, even in this course of study I didn’t have to read many complete novels. It takes much too long, and the curriculum would rather expose you to a wide variety of writers and has only a finite amount of time in which to do so. So while I did read Madame Bovary, Othello, To Kill a Mockingbird, and shorter writings of numerous and varied authors, I was still largely ignorant of many of the classics. This bothered me. How could I claim to be an English Lit major when I hadn’t even read Moby Dick to completion?

Electronic books were becoming increasingly popular at this time, and I started amassing them. They may not impress anyone on a bookshelf, but I could store thousands of these babies on one little device! If I wasn’t overwhelmed before, I sure was then. It was a hoarder’s – I mean collector’s – dream! I could start-and-not-finish books to my heart’s content! I bought each successive incarnation of Amazon’s Kindle e-reader, which kept improving, and when they released one with a back-light I began reading in bed at night. This became a ritual, with the side benefit of making me tired and directing my thoughts just before sleep. I’d developed a new habit, one that I stuck with. Reading in bed became something I looked forward to at the end of the day, a luxury I had never really indulged in before (it was something about the lights being on, I’m sure. My dog would give me dirty looks).

Thanks to the e-reader’s versatility I can read several books at once, but I limit myself to just one chapter from each (lots of the classics have deliciously short, distinct chapters, because they were originally published in serial form). This method keeps my interest alive if one book is getting dull, and even if it is, it helps to know that I’m only committed to one chapter. It gets me through the rough spots. Occasionally, I’ll like a book so much that I’ll violate my rule and read two chapters (yeah, I can be a little wild at times), but if I get too hung up on one book and neglect the others, I end up forgetting their plots and characters (who is Starbuck again?). I’m actually in this predicament right now. I’m currently reading (or re-reading – and you know you love an author’s writing when you want to read their book again, even though you already know what happens) The Count of Monte Cristo, David Copperfield, Jane Eyre, War and Peace, Frankenstein, Don Quixote, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Picture of Dorian Gray, King Lear, and biographies on Washington, Lincoln and Nixon (I guess I’ll be forgiven if I confuse Nixon and King Lear). Please, don’t mention another classic to me or I’ll start reading it, too. I need an intervention! It doesn’t help that many of these books are in the public domain and are therefore free to download – a major advantage over printed tomes.

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I know there’s still a lively debate over physical books versus electronic ones. As much as I salivate over a finely designed and crafted physical book, I have to admit that the electronic ones are much more convenient. For one thing, the next time I move, my helpers will be bowing down to the Kindle gods in gratitude. But aside from this physical practicality, you can’t beat the ability to store hundreds of books in the space of one, to switch among them at will, to read conveniently with the lights off, to hold the device effortlessly with one hand, to look up unfamiliar words with one click, to highlight favorite passages at length and collect them in one spot, to share passages on social media without leaving the page, to pull up the first mention of a character whom you’ve forgotten, and to have the device keep track of where you left off and pick right up from there, even if it’s on another device (your phone, your tablet). In fact, because of this marvelous invention I’ve started selling all my fine leather volumes. As nice as they are to look at and behold, they are just tying up money and space, two things that tend to dwindle as you get older. I do keep the ones I’m fondest of*, and you still can’t beat a physical book if there are lots of pictures inside. I also own an 1850 illustrated copy of my favorite book, David Copperfield, the year it was first published. It’s a bit musty and yellowed, but knowing it was printed shortly after Dickens wrote it rather fascinates me.

My 1850 David Copperfield

So even though I’ve overwhelmed myself with reading material, I am confident that, by the end of the year, I’ll have finished more (electronic) books than I ever have before – just as I promised their leather-bound cousins. I’ll probably even surpass the national average of five, which will make up for someone else who’s slacking. Or lying.

* You can read my thoughts on some of my favorite novels and passages here.

Confessions of a modern anachronism

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anachronism: a thing belonging to a time other than the one in which it exists

I’ve been reminded recently of an episode of the original Twilight Zone (“Once Upon a Time”), where a man from 1890 is transported by time machine to 1960, a jump of 70 years into the future. The man, played by Buster Keaton, is horrified by the incessant noise and dizzying pace of life in his new surroundings. He simply cannot tolerate it. I’m beginning to know how he feels.

While our hapless time traveler’s jarring experience is largely the result of a sudden and drastic change to his circumstances, this same process happens to all of us – just much more insidiously, like a steady drip to the forehead. The world changes slowly around us, and these changes reach a point when, just like our Twilight Zone friend, we find ourselves in an environment where we really don’t belong.  The older we get, the more we resent having to continually adapt to things and situations to which we are not accustomed, and for which we don’t much care. We want things to be the way they’ve always been – the way we liked them – but they refuse to remain so. The next generation comes along with their own ideas and ways of doing things (most notably in music, fashion, social discourse), and we find ourselves slowly becoming frustrated and obsolete.

One of the most pervasive examples of this is in the workplace. The expectations on the “modern” worker have become ridiculous. Most of us used to work at jobs that were much more specialized and focused, but now find ourselves wearing the hats of several workers and pulled in so many different directions that we can’t adequately focus on any of them. Everything must be done half-assed and under duress. There is no longer enjoyment in anything, just a constant struggle to not fall too far  behind. Multitasking and “doing more with less” (and for less) has reached a point where the worker of today is expected to match the productivity that used to be generated by two or more workers just a decade ago. Positions are eliminated (or slyly redefined) and hours are cut, and those remaining are expected to quietly pick up the slack, with fewer perks and benefits than those they’re replacing enjoyed (pensions? ha!). This is called “progress,” but for whom? The result is a workplace full of stressed-out and demoralized people – especially the older ones, those who know that it used to be so much better. The young ones are deliciously oblivious, and are therefore highly favored by Corporate America. They won’t complain, because they don’t know things used to be better. This is the true basis of age discrimination. The mature workers (who, by the way, usually have a better work ethic than their younger counterparts) know too much for their own good, and if you try to pull the wool over their eyes, they’ll likely speak up (disengaged complainers!) Can’t let that happen, lest the young workers be empowered and the revolution begin.

There is a certain pace and rhythm to life that we become used to by our twenties, and this pace seems to be constantly accelerating. We all remember our grandparents talking about much simpler (and presumably less stressful) times, when life was slower and people had more consideration for each other, better manners, and more patience. Just imagine, people used to actually make an effort to merge onto the highway, whereas now they just barrel on and expect that you’ll get the hell out of their way. It’s all about me! Once, people would never be so rude as to chat with their companion in line while a clerk was waiting on them, but today they jabber on their cell phone during the entire transaction like you’re not even there. Yeah, you have a nice day, too, pal!

As the pace of life gets more hectic and stressful, consideration for others declines because we’re all becoming more self-absorbed, frantically pursuing a happiness that eludes us. What we really need is a break, a slow-down – meaningful chill time that is not constantly intruded upon by the demands of work, social media or our ubiquitous smartphones. I think many have forgotten how to live “off the grid,” how to just be – or perhaps the latest generation has never really experienced this. Read a book, for god’s sake! Does anyone do that anymore? (too unproductive!) We’re like hamsters who don’t know how to get off the exercise wheel. Most days at work, I feel like one of those old ’70s stage performers who tried to keep a bunch of plates on a stick spinning before they all fell to the ground.

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By the time we hit “middle-age,” we’re adrift in a world where we just don’t fit, like our time traveler. It is run by others now, others who are willing (or rather, forced) to live at a pace and with customs that we find quite disagreeable and out of step with our natural inclination. 

Maybe this is as it should be. Maybe, if we’re lucky enough to live to a ripe old age, it makes leaving this world easier, because we no longer admire or respect it. Our gig is up. Good riddance! I hope they bury me upside down so . . . well, you know the rest. Time to make way for the new, just as our eventually disillusioned grandparents made way for us. So I needn’t bemoan my eventual demise, because I know I’ll increasingly dislike the future. It’s not really for me. And this, stressed-out reader, is why the older you get, the more you’ll reminisce about the good old days. Now put down your smartphone and go read a good book set in the past – preferably the three-dimensional kind.*

*Might I recommend Wally Lamb’s “Wishin’ and Hopin’.” It’s not terribly long for you easily-distracted types, and it’s absolutely hilarious. (Personally, I’m currently working my way through “War and Peace.” I’m ready, and it immerses me in a simpler time and place in the past, one of the greatest benefits of reading. But the current generation will just watch the movie. It’s quicker).

New York City Redux

Here I am again at Penn Station, on my way back from what has become an annual excursion to the Big Apple. The trip was shorter this time, though somehow it felt longer. I was even bored at points (!), or maybe just immobilized by being unsure of how best to use my time in such an overwhelming place. I feel a bit worn out, no doubt because I’ve walked more in three days than I normally do all month. This is probably why I saw so few portly New Yorkers. And they must blow through shoes every few months. I’d say that I’ve surely lost a few pounds, but then I remember how much I’ve eaten. New York is second only to cruise ships in constant food availability.

My trip consisted mainly of opera performances, two days at the museum, and several dinners with an old friend. My hotel was – interesting. I was trying to keep things affordable, but I might choose to pay up the wazoo next time. You don’t get what you don’t pay for. Hot water would be one of those things (but, presumably, I paid for that).

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The individual rooms were decorated (I assume for free) by different artists. Mine looked like someone ingested pea soup and then projectile-vomited it all over the room. Everything was slathered in a thick coat of slimey green. A plaque on the wall informed me that the color was called “arsenic.” How fitting. The pukey decor was augmented by images of someone’s trip to uninteresting parts of Asia, complete with paper lanterns and Christmas lights strung  from the ceiling. I felt like I was either in a teenager’s bedroom, or a Martha Stewart nightmare. The room was very hot and noisy, with no way to control either affront to my senses. Sleeping a full night was impossible. It was akin to a night on a park bench in Times Square, except there wasn’t the saving grace of a cool breeze. Of course I didn’t come to New York to sit in my hotel room, but it will be nice to get home to my own digs. Comfy. Quiet. No snot-green anywhere.

When I did leave my room, it was to much more grand surroundings. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is amazing. It would take a week just to give everything even a cursory look. I gave it two afternoons. I was amazed at times by the great detail artists were able to give their items (plates, pottery, figurines, furnishings) long before modern techniques to paint or mold them existed, and with the great condition items were in that were hundreds of years old. I frequently asked myself “how did they do that way back then without modern conveniences?” Astounding how talented and creative people can be when they aren’t filling their every moment with mindless electronic distractions.

As for the operas, always a treat. The Met orchestra is top notch, and while there aren’t superstar singers the likes of Pavarotti or Callas these days, the singing is far better than I’d hear most other places availabile to me aside from my own (massive) mp3 collection.

And speaking of Callas (whose voice I adore), my friend (the one I supped with) gave me a biography of her as a gift. I was very touched. And bemused. The thing is huge and weighs about five pounds (it’s hardcover and full of delicious pics), and here I am trying to travel light, knowing I have luggage to lug through the streets, stairwells, and subway tunnels of New York. Good thing I didn’t fly here, as I’d have to buy a seat for the book on the return trip.

Spring is blooming in the city, and the landscape is full of mass plantings of tulips and hydrangeas, as well as cheery clumps of  flowers ringing sidewalk trees in the only garden space most residents  have. Space is at a premium, and everyone makes the best of it. I had wanted to spend some time in the fantastic green (yes, green!) vistas of Central Park, but it didn’t happen this time. At least I wasn’t rained on the whole trip; it was just dreary and gloomy, kind of like my room.

Again, like last year, I didn’t see a single person who I felt threatened by during all my subway rides and street walks. I’m not sure what to make of this. I kept near crowds of regular shmoes like myself, tried to blend in and look confident and blase (“hey, I do this all the time!”), and never felt afraid. I’d be more concerned walking around certain dank areas back home. Here, there are people everywhere at all hours in a city that never sleeps, most of them just going about their business. Kids, moms, tourists, working people, largely unfazed with their surroundings or the hour, interacting more with their smartphones than the people all around them. Just like me (I’m typing this in the waiting area at Penn Station). See how nicely I blend?

I got out of my comparatively rural surroundings for a few days into one much more cosmopolitan. I heard foreign tongues everywhere. I sat next to a young man at the opera who appeared to be, like me, alone, and during the intermission I asked how he was enjoying it. He was European, and had seen the opera (Aida) many times in Vienna and other European cultural centers. I noted that during the performance he didn’t have his seat translator on, so he was likely multi-lingual, unlike my boorish American and unsophisticated self. It was a bit humbling.

So while it was nice to get away, it will also be nice to get back to my version of Kansas where I (unfortunately) fit in better. This city knows I don’t really belong here, as much as I may aspire to. But I’ll keep trying it on for size nonetheless, and hope it doesn’t take much notice.

Online college

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Tomorrow I start my 39th, and next to last, college course before finishing my degree, which I began almost thirty years ago. I went into business for myself right after high school graduation, then spent about ten years working slowly on college credits while running it. Since I didn’t need a degree being my own boss (and the one I pursued wasn’t even in business), I went solely for personal interest and satisfaction. I like learning and am naturally curious about things. I stopped school after finally getting my associate’s in 1996, but picked up the mantle again three years ago because I was bored (instead of working sixty-hour weeks as I had for many years, I was down to forty). Also, the new availability of online learning appealed greatly to the introvert in me.

Online class is great for introverts. I participate more in online classes, via discussion boards, than I would in live classes, because live classes are dominated by extroverts. That’s where they thrive. Online is where I thrive. It’s not unlike Facebook, where I am more social than I tend to be in real life. So yes, I strongly applaud online school, as it allows those of us who are quieter and more reserved to “chime in” in a way that works for us. Actually, you can’t shut me up on the class discussion boards, and it’s an area of every course I’ve taken where I have gotten very high participation marks. What’s more, classmates tend to appreciate my carefully rendered feedback. None of this is to say that I cannot participate in class discussions in real life, but new people and environments make me uncomfortable and it takes a while to warm up to them. Even once I do, I am always more verbose with the written word than I ever have been with the spoken, so I can really shine online.

I’ve always done well in school, whether live or online, because I am observant of things others don’t notice and am hyper-focused on the written and spoken word, introvert qualities that serve one well in learning. I take things very literally, and am always finding errors in instructions and written texts (I have found many professors’ syllabi to be riddled with errors and lack of clarity – and these people have advanced degrees). A life in academia may have suited me, and I may have pursued it were it not for my hesitance to go to college after high school, which was a little intimidating. Running my own business appealed to me more as it gave me lots of control, and if there’s one thing I like it’s the freedom of having control over my life.

But now it has all come full circle. I no longer have that control and work for the Man, and in four months I will have a college degree in English literature and poetry. Yes, I know, not the most marketable of degrees, but it is the subject area that interests me the most. My intent was not to get a marketable degree, but to get a degree period, and to also satisfy personal interest along the way. It has been a nice journey, for the most part (I could have done without the Statistics courses, even though I aced them). If it were not for the expense, I would continue on to a master’s. We’ll see.

Is online school easier than live school? I’ve done both and see little difference. I spend a good twenty hours a week on classwork – three hours a day – which includes reading, writing papers, tests, and the discussion boards, which are very time-consuming (reading the daily posts of twenty other students and responding to many of them in a qualitative way). The coursework is the same as that given in live classes, and the online curriculum is fully accredited by the regional college board. So aside from not having to drag myself to a physical location and being able to do my work at midnight if I so choose, there is little other difference – except that the courses are accelerated. What live classes cover in sixteen weeks, we cover in eight. So it can feel a little rushed (this was never more true than in my recent Western Civ class, where we covered 4000 years in two months).

Now, as for that poetry degree, I am aware that some do not consider it a “real” degree, much as they do not consider online classes “real” college. It seems the discipline of poetry is viewed as requiring no more skill than ruminating in a diary. To them, I would say this: try writing a poem that a respected literary journal would publish. Then come laugh at me. Fact is, professional writing of any kind – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, screenplays – is hard work. While poetry may not be highly valued, or even understood, in today’s world, it is the highest expression of our language. I enjoy the linguistic and creative challenge it poses, the introspection it requires, and the possibility of moving someone else with something I’ve written. That is reward enough for me.

The Great Indoors

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The introverted part of me loves snowstorms, almost as much as it loves rain. What’s up with that? Is this just a preference of mine, or do other introverts feel this way about inclement weather? I think its appeal to me is multi-faceted. For one thing, it sets a mood that seems to match my preferred one: contemplative, peaceful, cozy, secure. I don’t quite understand why many people see rain as sullen and gloomy and cause for complaint, yet get excited about snow. Perhaps it’s because there is more to do in the snow – sledding, snowball fights, building snowmen. Even shoveling. It invites activity. But you can’t do much with rain except stay inside, and that’s probably one reason I’ve always liked it. I’m basically an indoor kind of guy, and always felt a little threatened and overwhelmed by the big wide world outside my door. Too unpredictable. I’d rather read about it. The indoors always felt safer, even if I knew my preference for it was a bit abnormal. Also, I wasn’t athletic, and in grade school rain always meant we had to stay inside (yay!) and play some pseudo- sport I was more comfortable with (dodge ball, volleyball), versus one where I would feel totally inept (baseball, football). Even away from school, if it were a nice day I would feel pressured to do something outdoorsy with someone, and often there was no one around (most of the kids in my neighborhood were not the sort I wanted to hang around with, so I had only two or three friends to choose from). And then there’s the matter of my fair skin and proclivity to sunburn. So yeah, indoor activities were much more user-friendly and suited to my temperament.

None of this is to say I do not like the outdoors. I spent lots of time outside as a kid, exploring “Mica Rock,” the woods, the stream, bike riding, swimming in our pool. I also like nature, even if I make little effort to engage with it (though I do love the forests of New Hampshire and the vistas of the Southwest). But as I got older and tied to my very demanding indoor businesses, the outside got put way on the back burner, especially when I lived in places with no yard. Now that I have a nice yard and more spare time I enjoy the outdoors more, but still love the rain and snow. It makes staying indoors feel “normal,” and that’s just fine by  me.

Metamorphosis

“The Beverly Hillbillies” was a new hit TV show, the first James Bond movie was released (“Dr. No”), Sam Walton opened the first Wal-Mart, and I was born into the world.  It was 1962, and Russian missiles in Cuba aimed at the United States had everybody a little nervous (leading to the installation of the hotline between the White House and the Kremlin). I, of course, remember none of this. What is my earliest memory? Who can say, given the unreliable and nonlinear nature of memory? It’s all pretty fuzzy, but then so is last week.

The biggest trigger of memory for me is music. Just this week I was listening to music from the seventies, as I often do, and remembering the heady days of my late teens. That was a special time for me – my first jobs (Caldors, Big G grocery store, Arco – I had three at once), my first car (a ’69 Mercury Montego), graduating from high school – all entries into the magical world of adulthood, which seems to lose some of its magic once you’re there for a while. Be careful what you wish for, as they say.

My best friend got me the job at the gas station during my last year of high school, and a little over a year later I would own it. Being my own boss appealed to me greatly, and I now realize this was because of my independent and introverted nature – I didn’t like working for others, and still don’t. I’m not cut out for it.  I am very sensitive to how I am treated, and have a strong enough work ethic and sense of propriety that I don’t need someone breathing down my neck or second-guessing me all the time. Just leave me alone and I’ll function best. Entrepreneurship was for me, and it worked very well.

That song on the radio (“Cruel to be Kind”) put me back in that place for a brief instant, and it felt like it was yesterday. I don’t feel all that different in some respects from my 1979 self, except for the convictions and self-assuredness that thankfully come with age. While I felt somewhat defective back then due to my introverted nature, I now see it as perfectly normal for me and I wouldn’t trade it away even if I could. It does concern me some as I get older, as it’s easier to be independent and somewhat of a loner when young and able to take care of oneself. I don’t think I’d make a good nursing home resident, but then who does?

Why do we age? I suppose life would be pretty stagnant and boring if we didn’t. Life necessitates growth, and everything that grows and expands eventually reaches a point when it must change into something else.

Excuse me while I change into something more comfortable.