Friday, July 19, 2013

Songs of the Week

Over the last three days, I've listened to The National's "Sea of Love" at least two dozen times. In fact I'm listening to it right now, on repeat. That and "Demons", also by The National.

I have a tendency to become infatuated with songs. Two weeks ago I listened to "Nomenclature" by Andrew Bird until I was humming it in my sleep. I simply could not get enough of the song. This week, I've moved my affection to The National. I was introduced to the band years ago after watching this rather enjoyable animation using their song "Slow Show". Using YouTube I listened to most of their music then. And then this week, I became obsessed.

I was re-listening to "Sea of Love" and happened to notice that the Dessner brothers (the guitarists) look a bit like a friend of mine. So of course I had to look for more videos. And that reminded me of "Demons". Now I can't stop listening. I bought a bunch of The National's song but these are the one one repeat.

Eventually I'll get tired of them. Or a new song will come along. But until then, repeat is my best friend. And these songs just keep getting better with each listen.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


With the fourth of July behind us I finally feel that I can admit something. It's not a popular thing to admit right now but I don't really care. It needs to be said.

I'm not much of a patriot. Or at least I don't care much for patriotism.

I like this country. There are a number of nice benefits of living here. It is certainly a better place to live than many country in the world. But do I believe that this is the greatest country ever? Do I believe that everything the US does is great? That's where my patriotism begins to get a little shaky. I was young when I started to notice how the word patriot was bandied around in debates. It was often meant to be a conversation stopper. I watched us go to war (for the first time in my lifetime) and the cracks started to appear in the "America is wonderful" veneer. I suddenly started wondering if we were just as flawed as the other countries.

I started to read more about the ways that our country slips: torture, espionage, war-mongering, etc.... And the more I read the more I realized that we're not a perfect country. That we do some of the things that we rail against other countries doing. We just try to do them quietly and covertly. Now I'm not expecting our country to be perfect. That would be silly. But I am tired of the patriotic rhetoric that goes around, that says we are. I'm tired of the flag waving and political speeches that seem to say that we can do no wrong.

I got into an argument on July 4th about Edward Snowden. There was passionate argument on either side about whether he was a traitor or a hero. And one of the debaters asked me if I loved my country. And I paused to think. And I honestly couldn't say one way or another. Like I said, I like this country. But I think I could just as comfortably live in Canada.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


I found an old photo of an apartment I shared with a friend in college. On the wall above my writing desk were two quotes that I had created with letters cut out of magazines. I thought I was so creative to do that. The two quotes were favorites at the time and still are, even though I'd forgotten they were up there.

The first:
"And not when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived." ~ Henry David Thoreau from Walden

And the second is one of my favorite inscriptions from Robert Service, a poet who I've loved for most of my life.

I have no doubt at all the devil grins,
as seas of ink I splatter.
Ye gods forgive my literary sins,
the other kind don't matter.

I might have to put that one up over my current writing desk.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Neil Gaiman!

For those of you who don't know, the man sitting at the table is Neil Gaiman. And the woman looking slightly faint while professing her undying love standing in front, is me. I've been that close to Neil "freakin" Gaiman! Even just saying that makes me giddy.

If you're a friend of mine on Facebook I'm sure you're tired of seeing pictures of this man. But it's not everyday that someone gets to meet one of their heroes. So pardon me if I'm a tad over-enthusiastic. I have loved many writers. I have a couple writers who I've read all of their books. Neil Gaiman is on the top of both of those lists. So when I heard that Neil Gaiman would be doing his last signing tour I knew I had to find a way to go. The closest stop was Minneapolis so I started making plans. A friend, graciously, went to the bookstore to pick up passes for me. Another friend, as big a Gaiman fan as I am, went with me to the signing. We listened to him talk and read and then read from his even newer book. And I applauded and cheered. And then we waited, and waited. Three hours we waited for the chance to have our books signed. Thanks to my friend Josh for making me stay. Because it was worth the three hours.

Because for 30 seconds I got the chance to talk to my hero. I stood in front of him and babbled something about how much I loved all of his work. And he said something gracious about how it was all so different and I babbled more about how he was an amazing storyteller. And he signed two books with a beautiful fountain pen and I couldn't stop smiling for the rest of the night. Every time I open my copy of his book I smile. He was so gracious and genuine. And I can't stop talking about it. So here you go. More pictures. More talking. I just have to say it. I love Neil Gaiman!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Recurrent Corneal Erosion

I can't believe I'm writing this, but I'm becoming fearful about falling asleep. Bad things happen when I fall asleep. I'm living on less than five hours a night lately. For the last three weeks I've been waking up every hour or every other hour and going back to sleep just praying that I get to the next wake-up. At least get to the next wake-up without pain.

Three times in the last two weeks I've woken up with severe pain, tearing, and the feeling that there is something in my eye. I know what it is. I know that it's not something in my eye but the explanation might be worse. Each time I wake up that way I'm hurting my cornea. I have Recurrent Corneal Erosion, which stems from my cut back in March. Knowing the damage that is being done actually makes it worse.

I've bought three different types of eye drops in the last three weeks and just broke down to buy an eye ointment this evening. The drops help a bit. But not every night. So I'll try the ointment tonight to see if that works. Each time I buy something I hope that it works and that I won't have to go back to the eye doctor to get further treatment. Mostly because so many of the treatments that are tried for RCE only occasionally work. I wore a contact for three weeks without luck. I'm sure I'll wear one again for longer with the hope that will work. I'd have to think long and hard about the surgery.

I'll go to see the doctor again soon. But I'm waiting until the end of the week when I have the days off. I know I'm not doing a lot of permanent damage to my eyes which means that it's not an emergency. Some people live with RCE for years. I just hope that it's not the case for me. Until then I hope that ointment will at least allow me to sleep without fear. I know the cause, and knowing helps in a way, but it doesn't help with the anxiety. Here's hoping for a good night sleep tonight and calm eyes this morning.