Snapshots

Snapshots

Once again, it’s been a while since I last wrote on this space. I wish I could plead some grand excuse—a no-punches-pulled, one-on-one interview with President Obama; a drug-smuggling caper gone terribly awry in the jungles of Costa Rica; a tragic wardrobe malfunction at a Gwar concert—but in truth my life has been pretty quiet lately. I work, I read, I write, I exercise – all the usual stuff – and despite having done this now for years I simply can’t seem to get into a regular routine of posting. So in a spirit of catch-you-up recompense I’ve assembled below a couple brief snapshots from the past 6-weeks.

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I was sitting on an outdoor patio with a friend when a homeless guy stumbled up, hooked himself around the railing like a hasp and began to quote Shakespeare. His name was John, his cheeks were bulbous and pock-marked and reminded me of a matte black golf ball. It took him no time to move from the Bard to his own compositions, which he recited with all the earnest passion of a young Gil Scott Heron and only a little of the talent. Despite his being very obviously gay he addressed all his attention to my companion, who is a woman, repeatedly telling her how beautiful she looked and wondering aloud if he were only a little younger mightn’t he steal her away from me, an inquiry whose conclusion was never resolutely addressed, though I would happily have sat quietly and observed his best efforts.

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After nearly fifty rainless days Seattle looks set to soak up the first night of what one can all too safely predict will soon come to feel like seemingly endless months of precipitation. The weather has dramatically cooled 20-plus degrees in the past 20-plus hours, the skies have clouded over like a glaucoma and the leaves have begun to sluggishly robe themselves in their dappled fall cloaks with the slow, patient smile of an old man slipping into his housecoat. Our shorts and t-shirts have been shelved overnight in exchange for wool sweaters and socks; we wait excitedly with upturned collars for the first sprinklings to remind us of where we live.

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From the desk where I’m writing I can see the faint flash of the RCA colophon spinning on my record player: the well-known white dog looking curiously into a golden phonograph. Elvis Presley asks if I’m lonesome tonight; I choose not to reply. The record picks up its beat, kicking through a stirring rendition of Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” and I find myself reflecting upon all I’ve learned from having recently completed Peter Guralnick’s wonderfully written two-part biography of Elvis. 1,100-plus pages ranging from the heart-warming to the head-scratching, an undertaking that on my part was met with universally raised eyebrows from my friends. I’ve always had a thing for The King: we share a name (Elvis Aron Presley, don’t hold his parents’ misspelling against him), a date (1977: the year of his death and my birth, the sort of coincidence that pretty much obligates me to hope in reincarnation) and a deep-seated desire to become a federal deputy (a fact Elvis realized, but as I live and breathe there’s still time for me). And even though it has apparently become uncouth to admit this fact (to say nothing about outrightly celebrating it), I think a lot of his music is absolutely tremendous.

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This summer my parents moved; my mother took her housecleaning seriously and sent me box upon box of childhood items, filling my apartment with the sorts of things that I hadn’t thought about for years but which immediately laid claim upon my memories, and, as such, my sense of self. My scrapbook of newspaper clippings following the 1985 Detroit Tigers (a disappointing 3rd place finish after the ’84 World Series Champtionship); a still-in-the-box Lando Calrissian action figure; a View-Master with several wheels of images, including two reels of the Muppets; a series of navy-blue bound Hardy Boys books, their titles, Frank Dixon’s name and position numbers stamped in the darkest of Bible blacks on either side of the brothers’ proper looking faces; and a host of other items, many hiccuping on the cusp that separates junk from self-definition.

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My first half-marathon, for which I trained with moderate diligence with two other friends, run on trails in one of Seattle’s eastside suburbs. A sunny day, cool in the shade of the pine trees, the trail dusty dry and smelling prominently of horse-shit. Around mile 5 I kicked a root and went down, gashing my knee and scuffing my elbows and palms, a fall that caused enough adrenaline to run through my system that despite the gaping wound on my knee I was still able to finish second in my age group, which led to an interesting and curious self-reflection as this was the first time I’d ever measured anything in terms of ‘age group,’ a term I had hoped to avoid until I was well into my 70’s and demented as a bat.

1 Response

  1. Jon Carpenter

    keep the snapshots coming. these are great

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