"Said the Right-Wing skeleton, ‘Forget about yr heart’"

The above is a line from Allen Ginsberg’s collaboration with Philip Glass and Paul McCartney, “The Ballad of the Skeletons,” but I can take it literally, at least for the next year.  I spent the first part of this morning at the Ross Heart Hospital.

I saw two cardiologists, which worried me at first.  It is always a little disconcerting to be seeing a doctor and for the doctor to call in another one and say, “You should see this.”  I worried for nothing.  My heart muscle is in good shape, the aneurysm does not seem to have dilated any further, and all the cardiac function is as it should be.  I have another CT scan in December–a year from this week–but that seems to be all the proactive work that needs to be done.  Yes, my cholesterol level resembles a ZIP code.  Yes, heredity is not on my side when it comes to this (Dad died of congestive heart failure, his dad died of a heart attack at age 52), and I could stand to drop some weight, but my heart seems to be holding its own.

My grandfather’s death was the beginning of my dad’s break with Roman Catholicism, as I understand it.  Dad was a senior at the Catholic University of America in the fall of 1951 when his dad–two years older than I am now–died unexpectedly in Wheeling.  My grandmother had been fixing lunch in the kitchen while my grandfather was in the living room listening to the radio.  She heard a “thud” sound, and went into the living room and found him dead.  She sent my dad a telegram in Washington, and he was on the next train back to West Virginia.

His crisis of faith (at least with Catholicism) came because, until she died in 1965, his mother always worried about her husband’s soul, since he was unable to receive the last rites of the Roman Catholic Church due to the suddenness of his death.  Dad questioned the value of a Church that could bring about such unnecessary worry to one of its own very faithful.

Work has resumed on my memoir re my friendship with Robert Lowry.  I began several years ago, and I have been within 20-30 pages of finishing for the past few years, but by now it doesn’t flow in the same voice, and there are parts of it that need to come out and stay out.  So, the best thing to do, in my eyes, is to start from the ground up and rewrite.

Part of the lack of progress on this project comes from, I think, my taking Abilify, which is a drug that is supposed to supplement antidepressants that a person already uses (Lamictal, in my case).  After about a week or so on the drug, I noticed I was beginning to fidget even more than I usually do (which is saying quite a lot–I never sat “like a little statue” when I was younger, whether in school, church, or a concert), that I cannot sleep for more than four hours at a time (which leads to dozing off at all times and in all situations), and–worst of all–that what manual dexterity I have was suffering.  I cannot shuffle cards, I can barely manage to use silverware, and yet I can type 80+ words per minute using only two index fingers.  I noticed a sharp decline in my typing skills and accuracy.  As much as I pretty much loathe the computer culture (he wrote in his blog which is on the Internet), I was so thankful for computers and word processing these last weeks.  I was making one error after another, as if my fingers weren’t going where my brain was directing them, and I shudder to think what a page from my Royal Skylark portable typewriter would look like if I was using it instead of a computer.

I saw my nurse practitioner Monday, and described these symptoms to her.  She agreed that the Abilify may be the culprit, so I stopped taking it.  Like other psychotropics, it will probably be a little while before it completely clears my system, but I have noticed I am not as fidgety as I was.  The restlessness first manifested itself on the bus trip to Washington last month, when I could not get comfortable, and could not sleep, no matter what position I assumed.  I also could not concentrate on the two books I had brought with me, The Girl on the Best-Seller List (Gold Medal Books S976) by Vin Packer–a thinly disguised treatment of Grace Metalious and the post-Peyton Place uproar; and William Harrington’s Which the Justice, Which the Thief.  (They were in the backpack when I left, the first one since PulpFest last summer.)  Also, even though the Pennsylvania Turnpike is quite conducive to dozing, I was unable to sleep at all–the first time that has happened anywhere and at any time in the last two or three years.

The heavy reading I brought along on the Washington trip.  The cover art closely resembles the author photograph of Grace Metalious on the back dust jacket of Peyton Place, where she was called “America’s Pandora in Blue Jeans.”  As I learned from living 19 years in Marietta, the citizens of small-town America hate it when someone writes the truth about them.

We were pelted with more snow Monday night into Tuesday morning.  Oddly enough, it made walking much more easy than the trek from hell which I described in the weekend entry.  Good packed snow makes for a better walking surface than slick, bumpy ice.  The fact that I did not have a laptop causing me to list to one side probably helped as well.  The scene outside my front door looked beautiful enough that, despite the fact that I thought I would be running late, I went back inside and got the camera.

East Maynard Ave., December 10, 2013, about 7:15 a.m.  My only problem with this picture is the flash reflecting off of that sign across the street.  Sunrise was still a half hour away, so I decided the flash would be better.

There were nowhere near as many cancellations as there were when the first wave of snow hit last week.  Some churches and recreation centers cancelled evening services and activities, and two schools in counties other than Franklin County were under two-hour delays.

I am off work today.  I was not sure whether the appointment would lead to a cardiac catheterization, so I opted to write off the entire day.  (The procedure itself is brief, but the patient is pretty much wiped out for several hours afterwards.)

So, I’m going to try to keep walking more (although the snow hampers my progress, and makes walking even more aerobic than usual), and hope that this heart issue resolves itself.  (A friend gave me some not-so-pleasant advice about whether my aneurysm has burst: “If you wake up in the morning, it hasn’t burst.”)

But, if the doctors are correct, the aneurysm is not bursting for awhile, if ever.

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Winter is icumen in/Lhude sing goddamm

Ezra Pound’s parody “Ancient Music” seems so appropriate today, even though the winter solstice is still two weeks away–and I’ve used it before, back when this blog was still on LiveJournal.  The first wave fell yesterday, and we had a small respite from additional snowfall today.  This is, I understand, the calm before the storm.  According to the meteorologists I’ve seen on TV and online, Columbus is due to get slammed again tomorrow.

I took what turned out to be a minor fall Friday morning when I was walking out of my place to the bus stop, thinking the front walk was just wet, not icy.  In the end, I hurt nothing but my pride, but it was painful enough for me to call off from work, down some Naproxen, and sleep for much of the morning.  When I got out of bed, I was not walking like an old lady, like I was immediately after the fall, but I was walking more slowly than usual.

The juxtaposition was not lost on me.  On Tuesday, the mercury climbed into the 60s, so I rode the trike to work.  It took about 45 minutes, and I felt invigorated when I made it downtown.  (A trike ride, even when I undertake it reluctantly, does improve my mood and my overall spirit.  I have often wondered if my mental health insurance will reimburse me for it.  Futile, I know.)

I didn’t ride home until Wednesday night, because I had to head home early to meet the guys from Beavis & Butt-head Appliances, Inc., who were delivering my new washer and dryer.  (I live diagonally across from a Laundromat, but with my own equipment, I have the freedom to do my laundry at 2 a.m. in my bathrobe, if I so choose, or not to take it immediately out of the dryer.)  All they would promise was that the appliances would be at my place between 4 and 6 p.m., which entailed leaving work early, all so those these two could arrive at 6:30.  I could not christen my new machines until the following night, because the dryer did not come with a vent hose.

The trike spent Tuesday night in the BWC garage, and then on Wednesday, I rode it home.  I knew the weather was going to change, and if I didn’t ride it home Wednesday, the bike would spend all winter in the garage.

And Thursday morning, I attempted to walk to work.  I got about two-thirds of the way before it began raining too hard for me to continue.  I rode a bus for the final mile, and then worked until 5, hearing more and more ominous stories about the storm.

What is remarkable is that I managed to do a fair amount of walking today without falling.  Since I have accepted the fact–kicking and screaming–that I am middle-aged, I also know that part of this involves the fact that falls can be much more dangerous and have much more negative long-term effects than they did when I was younger.  Today, I vowed not to confine myself to quarters, so I loaded up my black over-the-shoulder bag with the laptop, two books, my journal, and the typescript of a long untouched manuscript that I am rewriting, and went to Kafé Kerouac, a walk of 0.8 miles.  Never has it seemed so long, so difficult.  The ice was melting in some places, but the bulk of the trip was on slick and bumpy ice surfaces.  Even though I was wearing tennis shoes, I felt myself about to slip several times when I put the soles of my feet on the ground.  (I am sure that if I had been wearing dress shoes, I would definitely have fallen.)

Adding to my worries was what would happen if I did fall.  Hurting myself would be bad enough, but I was mortally afraid of landing on the laptop and ruining it as well.  There were points along the journey when I was hanging onto street signs, shrubs, and garbage cans just to keep stable.

I did get a fair amount of work done while I was at Kafé Kerouac.  I finished the first chapter of the manuscript, and read a chapter of Grant’s Final Victory, the story of the last year of Ulysses S. Grant’s life, his sudden poverty, and the writing of his Personal Memoirs.

Earlier this week, I came home from work and found a large, but light-as-a-feather, parcel sitting on my front porch.  This was major good news, since lately my letter carrier seems to deliver mail only when the mood strikes him.  Inside, mummified in plenty of bubble wrap and balled-up newspapers, was a Simplex toy typewriter.  Novelist Robert Lowry died on December 5, 1994, 19 years ago Thursday.  He began writing at the age of seven, when he asked Santa Claus for a typewriter, and found it under the tree that Christmas.

The Simplex, which I bought on eBay, was the vintage of the model he received.  There is one key, and the operator turns a big rubber wheel to the desired character, and presses the big key so that it prints on the paper below.  (This machine is non-functional, and has not been inked in decades.  I have no plans to try to get it to work; it’s in my office as a conversation piece, and as an inspiration.)

The Practical Simplex Typewriter Number 300.  The keys in the front are painted, and not functional, just like the black keys on Schroeder’s toy piano in the Peanuts comics.

Online, I was kidding Susie that this was the original laptop.  Later that night, I was reading a clipping that I tucked inside the front cover of Jimmy Carter’s White House Diary.  It was a 1981 New York Times article about Carter’s upcoming memoirs.  It made the newspapers when the former President hit a wrong function key and lost two or three days’ worth of work.  More interesting was the description of the machine itself, back in the day when the masses did not know much (if anything) about word processing and computers:

The Lanier machine, which sells for about $12,000, takes up about the same amount of desk space as an electric typewriter but is taller by a foot or more because of the cathode-ray display screen.  The operator works at an electronic keyboard that returns the carriage automatically and also hyphenates and numbers pages.  Removable magnetic disks store up to 30 pages of typed information.

(I displayed a picture of President Carter’s Lanier “No Problem” word processor in an entry last month.)

Word is that we’re supposed to get pelted with even more snow and cold temperatures tomorrow.  I am not planning to go to church in the morning, so I plan to hibernate at least through the morning hours.  A good friend lured me out for dinner tonight, since I had recovered mentally and physically from the walk to and from Kafé Kerouac, but she had a car, so that involved almost no walking.  However, packed snow is much better for walking than ice is, so I may venture out to see what Columbus looks like under this second round of snow.

Winter Solstice is Officially Here

It seems that I have to kick off more and more blog entries by apologizing for not posting more frequently.  I plead the usual–work overload and utter exhaustion once the work day finally ends.  I’m logging the usual 40 hours per week in service to the State of Ohio, and two or three nights per week at the Discovery Exchange.  (The winter quarter is in full swing at Columbus State, but my supervisor asked me if I would stay on until the end of next week.  I need the extra cash too much to decline such an offer.)

As I left the DX (as Columbus State people call it) last night, the snow began to fall.  I was under-dressed for this, since the temperature was in the mid-40s when I left my house around 7:30 a.m.  It was cloudy and gray, but I didn’t give that any special consideration.  From mid-November to about March, Columbus residents speak of seeing the sun the same way other people talk about UFO or Loch Ness Monster sightings–and usually receive the same skeptical responses.

When I left the Industrial Commission at 5 and started to make the 0.8-mile walk east on Spring Street, a cold rain was falling, and I was, as usual, hatless.  I managed to keep busy by re-shelving buybacks and customer assistance, so I was astonished when the work day was winding down and I saw that wet snow was starting to fall.  Snow had covered most of the ground, including the sidewalk and streets, much thicker than the very light dusting that covered the grass just before Christmas.

Susie came home about 30 minutes after I did, not happy about having to walk from High St. to our house in the snow.  Now that she is older, snow is definitely losing its allure.  The Susie and snow memory that I will retain until the day I die was the sudden dumping of snow in February of 2010.  I was lying abed, recovering from my gallbladder surgery, and Susie and one of her friends shouldered snow shovels and went all over Baja Clintonville, coming back $40 richer.  They were out earning money, and getting some major exercise, while my major accomplishment that day was that I managed to get from my bedroom to the bathroom and back without having to hang onto the wall the whole way.

One of the books I got for Christmas when I was about three or four.

I still enjoy snow, although, as I get older, I like it more while I’m watching it from inside.  I never willingly participated in a snowball fight (I knew kids in Marietta who were not above putting M-80s and rocks in their snowballs), although I enjoyed sled-riding.  I was a bit of a chicken when it came to sled-riding–I stuck to my easy-to-manage flexible flyer, inviting ridicule from kids who used saucers, car hoods, flattened cardboard boxes, etc.  (I have never ridden on a metal saucer.  Once they started going downhill, you were a projectile, with absolutely no way of stopping until the hill bottomed out or until you hit something.)

The hill next to Mills Hall on the Marietta College campus was the one we used most often.  The campus was private property, and security officers had repeatedly run us off, but we had the rules-are-for-canasta attitude that I still retain to a lesser degree, even now, and security finally gave up.  It was steep enough to get up a good head of steam while you were headed downward, but not so fast as to instill terror.  Usually, your ride would stop when you hit the chain-link fence that enclosed a small basketball court at the foot of the hill.  It would smart a little, but usually the kids wore enough heavy clothes that it wasn’t more than a bump.

Susie had school today, and I went to work.  I took for granted I’d be working, since the State barely agreed to close all offices during the 1978 blizzard.  I made the lunchtime walk to the Payroll office at Columbus State, but moved a little more slowly than usual, since I was afraid of slipping and falling.

The snow hasn’t kept Susie and me confined to quarters.  We’re both at Kafé Kerouac right now, and I’m typing away while two aspiring guitarists play on the stage.  (Listening to these guys, I think they will be aspiring for a long, long time!  Susie reviewed them in her blog and her critique is quite accurate.)  High St. looks pretty clear, and there’s plenty of condensation on the windows, which makes the streetlights and car headlights look a little ghostly.

While we were walking here tonight, the neighborhood seemed to be pretty quiet, other than some music from some of the houses we passed.  This is quite a contrast from last night, when the sound of the wind howling up and down Maynard Ave. awoke me several times.

Marietta did not get the full force of the 1978 blizzard, although we missed a lot of school because of the snow, and because the Bituminous Coal Strike drove up the price of heating.  When snow came, it was quite subtle.  I remember one Sunday night calling a friend of mine and saying, “Hey, it’s snowing.”

“It is?” he said, quite skeptically.  There was silence on the line for five or 10 seconds, and then he gasped, “My God, it is!”  He and his older brother made the 15-minute walk over to my house, and the three of us left together about 15 minutes later.  His brother was disappointed, as we retraced their path, to see that their footprints hadn’t been covered up.  A day or two later, snow was falling fast enough and heavily enough that footprints disappeared almost as you made them.

Slow Day at Mineral

This Presidents’ Day was the first Monday I haven’t been working for quite some time, so I put it to use.  My friend, retired R.N. Jacques Angelino, and I made the trip (72 miles each way) down to Mineral in western Athens County.  Jacques has made the trip at least 500 times, each time with his Toyota bursting at the seams with clothes, school supplies, personal hygiene items, and food to deliver to the Feed My Sheep food pantry.  He always brings his 97-year-old mother Jackie along, and she sits in the Faith Believers’ Ministry sanctuary and bags pasta and rice.

The turnout today was low.  We traveled down in the driving rain and low-lying fog and went to work filling food boxes from the shelves that lined the pantry walls.  Cans of tuna, corn, Spam, kidney beans, green beans, and soup went into the boxes on the worktable, all the co-workers prayed over them, and then when the cars began lining up outside at 1 p.m., they were ready to go.

I took this picture last June.  These are full boxes of food,
ready for distribution to the people coming by for them.

As the end of February nears, we expected there to be a long line of people coming to get food packages, but there were probably only 20 to 25 customers altogether.  My guess is the line will be bumper-to-bumper next week, the last day of February, but we took long breathers between cars, and many boxes remained on the worktable in the pantry, ready to go out next week.

Rev. Ray Ogburn, the pastor of the small Faith Believers Ministry (which hosts the pantry) justifiably takes pride in the fact that his is the only pantry in Athens County which has never run out of food.  In addition to filling the outgoing boxes, we restocked from the backup supply of food in the Sunday school room and the trailer next door.

Contributions are always a touch-and-go business, and Ray isn’t always flush to buy food from the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.  Since Athens County is the poorest of the 88 counties in Ohio, unfortunately there will be a need for his service for quite some time.  Jacques told me about an elementary-school girl from the church who came down one Monday with her mother to help hand out food, and she asked her mom, “Where do the people who come here go to work?”  Her mom explained that there were no jobs for them in this area, and this was why we were down here helping.  Employment is so scarce in the area (the Office of Workforce Development placed it at 8.2% in December) that people frequently car- and vanpool to day labor jobs in Columbus, Parkersburg, and Lancaster.

More and more I find myself in total agreement with the words of St. John Chrysostom.  (I have long been reluctant to cite his quotes, because he is also the author of some anti-Semitic sewage called Eight Homilies Against the Jews, which was Mein Kampf before there was Mein Kampf.  Rabbi Michael Lerner took him to task quite handily in his excellent book The Socialism of Fools: Anti-Semitism on the Left.)

However, these words of St. John Chrysostom should be inscribed above the altar of all houses of worship:

It is not possible for one to be wealthy and just at the same time.  Do you pay such honor to your excrements as to receive them into a silver chamber-pot when another man made in the image of God is perishing in the cold?

Jacques brought 10 lovely afghans from church and gave them to people with young children.  Women at the church spent many hours knitting these, and another woman crocheted the separate panels together, and now children in Athens County will sleep in warmth in the near future.  He gave one afghan to a woman who turns 85 next week, and I took a picture of it with his one-shot camera.  (I was going to bring my new DXG Model 506V mini-camcorder/still camera.  I got it at the end of January at the Really, Really Free Market, and it works just fine.  Unfortunately, it came minus the CD-ROM with the driver, so I have no way of loading my pictures and video clips into the laptop at present.  I sent an email to DXG asking about sending me the disk with the driver.)

He has also made it a point to include a children’s book or two in each outgoing food box.  He believes that children should start reading and learning at as young an age as possible, and I totally agree with this.  When Jacques taught elementary school in inner-city Washington, D.C., he was constantly appalled during his home visits when he saw the total lack of reading material in any of his pupils’ homes.  I live at the other extreme, where books consume every flat surface of my living quarters, but he would go to houses where there was nothing to read–not even a TV Guide or a Holy Bible, let alone a dictionary or a newspaper.

I was home by late afternoon, and the mercury dropped just far enough that the rain turned to wet snow.  The ground was already covered by the time I stepped out of the house for my weekly meeting of the Radical Mental Health Collective at Sporeprint.

I do not/will not elaborate on what happens at the meetings, because confidentiality is the first order of business for such a gathering.  The only chiseled-in-stone rule of the Collective is a mantra that members of Narcotics Anonymous use as a guide:

Who you see here,
What you hear here,
Let it stay here,
When you leave here.


The reply is: “Hear, hear!”

I’ve Become a 21st Century Equivalent of a Scribe, Thanks to the Ice

Two consecutive days of ice storms in Central Ohio has meant two days off from school for Susie.  However, it means that I venture out into the driving rain and the sheets of ice for work.  (The State of Ohio has not cancelled work for weather since the 1978 blizzard.)  And, once I arrive at work, it means skeleton crews and entire sections that resemble ghost towns.

The upside to this was that I learned a new task.  There wasn’t much for me to do in my own section, so I learned how to scan.  The usual scan person wasn’t in–he had enough common sense to hear the ice spraying against his window, look outside and see the glare of ice on the snow, and say “uh-uh.”

I was grateful for a break from transcribing doctors’ reports.  And scanning is a task that I quickly learned to enjoy.  I sat in a pod with a computer and the scanner, a machine that resembles an ink-jet printer where you stack in the paper vertically.  Page through everything to make sure it’s legible and scan-worthy, fill out cover sheets, keep a chart current, put the document in, and push the button.  This scans the document onto a database accessible to the Injured Worker, the employer, and their representatives.  Someone downstream edits these scans, omitting duplicated documents, rotating anything I may have scanned upside down, etc.  (I did that job for several months, so I try to be conscientious whenever I am at the point of origin, as I have been since yesterday.)

Despite the title of this blog, I think this is the first time I’ve come close to a Melville reference.  I was thinking of his short story “Bartleby the Scrivener,” a chronicle of militant passive-aggressiveness.  In the days before Xerox machines, law offices employed scriveners, also known as copyists.  And that was what they did.  The attorney would give them a document, and their job was to copy it word for word, not omitting a single jot or tittle, and they had to make sure every i was dotted and every t crossed.  This was a very secular variation on the lives of cloistered monks in the days before movable type and the printing press.  They produced quite aesthetically pleasing illuminated manuscripts, sheet music, and Bibles, all of it in longhand.

When I began to think about how my job compared to the hero of “Bartleby the Scrivener,” my supervisor came with a thick stack of documents that had to be scanned tout de suite for a hearing later in the day.  I was quite tempted to say, “I would prefer not to.”  I didn’t, because I am finally learning a sliver of self-restraint in my old age, and also because this supervisor is not that well versed in literature, and I think the allusion would have completely flown over his head.  Why waste a good comeback?  (If this went totally past you, click on the above link.)

Since I’m alluding to a literary character, I see from CBS News’ Website that I won’t be reading Ulysses this year.  In addition to today being Groundhog Day, this is also James Joyce’s 129th birthday.  My late father taught English literature at Marietta College, and every year he threatened to assign Ulysses if the groundhog saw his shadow.  I’m not sure if he ever went through with this, but for the first few years since he died in 2000, I followed this tradition by listening to Recorded Books’ excellent audiobook of it–unabridged.  It was the only way I could ever get past the giant capital S on the very first page.

Tuesday morning, I ventured out to work at my usual time, but quickly realized I needed to tread quite lightly. The sidewalks and the alley behind our place were glazed with ice, so I hung onto every fence, garbage can, and telephone pole for dear life with every step I took.  As I glanced down the street, I saw the bus (which I prayed had been running late) breeze past my bus stop.  The sidewalks were so slippery that they demanded I focus on only one thing: getting from one place to another without falling.  I’ve walked while talking on my cell phone, and I’ve even done the comic-strip nerd routine of running into a lamppost or telephone pole because I was reading and not looking where I was going.

None of that yesterday and today.  I managed to make it to my bus stop without falling, although I did slip sideways once or twice, managing to catch myself both times.  I reached down to my waist, because I clip my cell phone to my belt, and found there was no cell phone.  There was no pay phone in sight, and they have become quite scarce all over Columbus, plus all I had on me were bills, no coins.  Once the bus did arrive, and we were heading south toward downtown, my seat-mate on the bus was nice enough to let me borrow his cell phone to call my supervisor to let her know I was en route.  She seemed relieved that she wouldn’t be completely flying solo.

Will Susie have school tomorrow?  Yes and no.  Columbus Public Schools will be open tomorrow, but seven schools are without electricity.  Hers is one of them.  As of now, her school will not be open, but if they restore electricity before morning, it will be.  This is crazy for parents who have to arrange days off from work to stay with their children on snow days.

During the night, during one of my bouts of wakefulness (when I’m awake, but still too exhausted to even contemplate getting out of bed), I saw a blue flash outside.  I am still not sure whether this was thundersnow, or whether a transformer somewhere in the neighborhood blew.  I tend to doubt the latter, because our lights never went out.  (If they had, it wouldn’t have made me late, because I use the alarm on my cell phone to awaken me in the morning.)

The Snow Was Not What I Envisioned

Yesterday afternoon, a Weather Channel alert about heavy snowfall popped into my email box, forecasting accumulation of three to five inches.  Later reports, both from The Weather Channel and our local meteorologists, made it sound like the snow would begin falling mid-afternoon, and would continue without ceasing for most of the night.  I am always up for a good snowstorm, so my reaction to this was more anticipation than dread or worry.

Hence my disappointment.  My pod is on the 10th floor of the William Green Building, and my window faces west, which means I usually have a front-row seat at any incoming storms.  Yes, there was a time or two when I would look up from the computer monitor and it would be white enough outside that I could not see the main post office or ODOT (the Ohio Department of Transportation) off in the distance.  Most of the time, when it did snow, it was light.

I came home from the Columbus State bookstore tonight (Saturday will be my last day there, at least until spring quarter starts at the end of March), and Steph was watching a DVR recording of today’s Young and the Restless.  At the bottom of the screen were dozens of cancellation notices.  Many school systems (not Columbus) were dismissing kids early, and churches were cancelling evening services and programs, night school classes weren’t meeting.  All this for what can’t even rightly be called a dusting.  The temperature never got above the low 20s today, and I didn’t enjoy the walk on E. 5th Ave. from the Cleveland Ave. bus stop, but this is hardly Storm of the Century.

Even with enough advanced warning, it seems many people downplay the inconvenience of a good snowfall.  I remember the first New England snowstorm I experienced, while I was living in Boston.  I woke up very early on Saturday morning so I could head to Cambridge and typeset The Harbus News, the weekly newspaper of the Harvard Business School.  I had been vaguely aware that snow was falling when I went to bed the night before, but I gasped when I stepped outside and saw there was whiteness as far as the eye can see.  At the time I lived on Commonwealth Ave., just up from the Boston University campus.

The surface lines of the T (Boston’s subway system, short for MBTA–Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) were not running, and I stood there with my jaw dropping open when I saw how careless drivers were being.  Since I’m almost always up for a decent walk, I trudged east toward Kenmore Square, where I could catch the subway.  (That night, after The Harbus was finished, I sat in The Crimson‘s deserted newsroom and typed a letter to my dad.  I remember writing, “It was crazy this morning!  I must have seen a dozen accidents on my way in to work.  You’d think New Englanders would know how to drive in the snow!”)

Hearing the forecasts made me think of a paperback I read in the 1980s.  It was a novel by George Stone called Blizzard, and it was about meteorological warfare.  The tag line was “What if it doesn’t stop?”  A weather-controlling weapon gets loose and a huge snowstorm buries most of the eastern U.S., including New York and Washington, D.C.  The book itself wasn’t all that wonderful, but what was fascinating was how each chapter started with the current time, temperature, snowfall, and forecast.  The first chapters, the weather statistics are relatively benign.  America is hoping for a white Christmas, and it looks like they may get it. The later chapters talk about snowfall of four to eight feet with drifts to 10 stories, and each forecast is the same: “Snow ending tonight.  Clear and cold tomorrow.”

Before Susie got up this morning, I crawled to the laptop and pulled up Channel 10’s Website to see if school was cancelled.  There were cancellations, but they were mostly in Washington County and Athens County, so Susie headed off to catch the school bus while I got back in bed for another hour of sleep.  There was no wind rattling my windows, and there was some additional snow on the ground, but the wetness and the slush from earlier this week was gone.

Last night’s radar on WBNS-TV.

I took a break from typing this, and went to the window and looked out.  All is quiet on the weather front, and it looks like we won’t be buried in any more than an inch–if that–of snow tonight.
Damn!

Winter is icummen in, Lhude sing Goddamm

I am really not in the habit of quoting demented anti-Semites in my blog (especially on the first night of Hanukkah), but snow flurries were falling when I stepped out the door for work this morning, so Ezra Pound’s poem seemed appropriate.  The official start of the winter solstice is still three weeks away, but since snow has fallen, that’s close enough for me.

Snow and books bracketed my day today.  I hit the snooze one time too many when the alarm on my cell phone rang this morning, so I had to hurry through showering, getting dressed, and making my way out the door.  I wasn’t even completely dry when I stepped onto my porch.  I was wearing a hoodie when I left, but when I saw the snow falling, I turned right around and grabbed my winter coat and my gloves.  While walking to the bus stop, I called my supervisor and told her I’d be just a little behind schedule.  (This used to happen so often that I used to call and say, “I’ll have the usual!”)  Arriving a little late means a shorter lunch hour.

I did some volunteer work after dinner tonight.  One of Sporeprint Infoshop‘s offerings is a lending library, and it is in dire need of organization.  Jeremy, a union organizer, posted a notice on Facebook asking people to come for a “Spore Library Work Session.”  The selection of books there is quite varied, and there is quite a catholic (lower-case C) assortment of writings from the radical and anarchist Left.  The bookshelves take up almost the entire west wall, and curve over toward the center of the main room.

Misfiled and disorganized books are a mixed bag.  I have gone into bookstores in search of a particular volume, and, while searching for it, I’ve found a treasure completely out of the blue.  If it had been shelved where it belonged, I never would have encountered it.  On the other hand, I realize the truth of the librarians’ maxim: A mis-shelved book is a lost book.

A mis-shelved book at Sporeprint is not necessarily gone forever.  Their selection is not as vast as Ohio State’s, or Widener Library at Harvard, or even our own Columbus Metropolitan Library, but one careless person putting a book in the wrong place, with no indication of where the book belongs, can cause a person to waste much time searching for it.

The project is not finished–far from it–but Jeremy set up a good system.  He armed us with small stickers (to go on the books’ spines).  I brought a stack of books from one shelf, and then looked inside the book.  Just past the title page, I’d search for the Library of Congress call number, which publishers usually (but not always, as we learned!) print along with other cataloging information.  (An example: I just pulled down Allen Ginsberg’s Journals Mid-Fifties.  Its call number is PS3513.174Z473 1995.)

Another person, Ben, stood by at one of Sporeprint’s two PCs.  He pulled up the Library of Congress‘ Website, and we made a pile of all the books that had no call numbers printed inside.  He would take each book and type the title into the database, and then make call number stickers based on what came up.

We worked until about 8:45, and made tentative plans to continue the project in a week or two.  I was a little disappointed, because I was on a roll, and having a blast looking for the call numbers and writing them on the small stickers.  My only complaint was that I had bad luck with my pens.  They either didn’t write, or wrote too lightly, or the ink would smear no matter how gently you handled the books.  I looked like the President signing a new bill into law.  He uses several pens when doing this, so he can give them away as souvenirs.

I may have gotten even more work done if I had a two-liter of Diet Pepsi at my elbow, but that’s a no-no tonight.  I’ll be going back to the Martha Morehouse Medical Plaza tomorrow morning (taking a vacation day from work) and getting another MRI, another MRI that they’ll pay me for, not vice versa.  They sent me an email saying I should lay off caffeine for 12 hours prior to the examination.  (It’s a cardiac MRI, and I’m going to earn the money this time.  They’re giving me an IV dye and putting me on the treadmill this time.  The last time I was just on my back with my head in a dryer-like apparatus, listening to WOSU-FM the entire time.)

In the evening, I’m heading to the Linden area to pick up an IBM Wheelwriter, the first electric typewriter I’ve ever owned.  (The soon-to-be-ex-owner and I have been exchanging emails and playing phone tag about my picking this machine up since I saw on Columbus Freecycle that he had it available for anyone who wanted it.)

My current audiobook at work is reflective, I suppose, of the volunteer work I did tonight.  I finished Dracula this afternoon, and began Allison Hoover Bartlett’s The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, the story of Charles Gilkey, a man who was a notorious book and document thief, not because of the vast fortune it would bring, but out of a obsession with owning and hoarding books, where bibliophilia crossed over into bibliomania, which is classified as an obsessive-compulsive disorder.  It’s a form of hoarding, much like the person who dies in a cluttered house with 30+ cats and each room stacked floor to ceiling with yellowing back issues of The New York Times.

Easter Morn & Easter Afternoon

I went to the earlier (9:15) of the two services at church this morning and heard Steph sing with both choirs (combined) and heard Susie read as part of the Flower Communion.  We’re all home now; Steph and I have prepared the food for the Easter fete (ham and a green bean casserole) we’re serving later this afternoon, and Susie is on an errand.  I had breakfast at church, although my stomach was still full from the marvelous food at last night’s Seder.

I never attended church on Easter until I started attending the Unitarian Universalist church in Marietta, so my first Easter Sunday in church would have been probably 1979, just before turning 16.

This is a bizarre confession from someone who attended a Catholic middle school and who, for two weeks in seventh grade, considered becoming a priest or a monk.  (My vocation went by the wayside when I looked up the word celibacy in the dictionary; I thought it meant to always be in a state of celebration.  I am not kidding.  That’s not the only time I’ve guessed wrong about a word–For years I believed a pedophile was someone who had a foot fetish.)

I’ve written earlier in this blog (in the LiveJournal section) about the Easter Sunday when I was about eight, when Marietta was caught off guard and buried in almost a foot of snow, much to the delight and financial betterment of many doctors and chiropractors treating the broken bones of elderly people who insisted on going to church that morning.

My most productive secular Easter was Easter 1976, just before I turned 13.  The date was April 18, and I had not been to bed.  My dad was at my stepmother-to-be’s apartment, and Channel 3’s All Night Theatre was preempted for an Easter Seals telethon.  I went outside just as the sun was rising.  I wandered toward the Marietta College campus and saw 10 or 15 people, including the Dean of Men, wandering the campus with large plastic trash bags.  The campus’ annual party and festival, Doo Dah Day, had started at noon on Saturday with an open mike and concerts on the library steps, and beer flowed from then until probably about midnight.  When the sun rose on the campus Easter morning, the grass was almost invisible under all the strew of empty plastic beer cups, cigarette butts, food wrappers, napkins, paper plates, and plastic utensils.

Since I had a pronounced aversion to manual labor in my early teen years, I surprised myself when I waded through all the debris and said, “Need another pair of hands?”  There didn’t seem to be a real leader of this work party, but someone who heard me nodded enthusiastically and handed me a huge trash bag.  I picked up cups and trash for the next several hours, until fatigue finally overtook me.  The campus wasn’t immaculate when I left, but we had greatly improved its appearance.  I headed home for bed, feeling good about the work I had done.  I didn’t suddenly become a lover of hard work, but it did register that when someone is appreciating your work and is grateful for it–whether you’re compensated monetarily or not–goes quite a long way.