In 2016 my oldest son set up my Blog, figuring it was a safer outlet for my crazy ideas. My obsession with getting into print (see 3/10/20 Blog) has manifested itself in rough drafts of fake obituaries I have been composing for the Seattle Times. I flirted with a fictitious person and a tribute normal enough not to raise red flags. My wife was opposed. I moved on to a draft for a real friend who died young and gifted him with a fictional longer life story. My wife pointed out that his brother would probably not be amused. My parents are deceased so I thought about doing my own obituary. I could see it while I was alive. My wife insisted that some people would still be outraged. So I am thinking of a fictional name with my picture. Who could get upset with that? I could mourn the death of my youth using a pseudonym and a picture from forty years ago. I could write about the mysterious double life of Geoffrey James. Somebody would recognize the picture but know the biography did not connect, especially with inside jokes embedded in the tribute. Surely that prank would be fun for all. My wife is still not on board. But instead of getting in a big fight, I am scratching my itch by blogging about the idea. That helps everyone, especially those who think I will forget about the idea before hitting upon a bogus obituary worth planting. I intend to revisit the project as soon as I finish stapling witty wanted posters of friends and foes on telephone poles around town.
Month: March 2020
Everesting is one of so many movements that usually pass by my cocoon unnoticed. The premise is to take any hill or mountain and go up and down it by bike or hike until the total of the upward elevation gains exceed 29,029 feet, the official height of Mount Everest. The 29029 hike on Stratton Mountain in Vermont takes place on a black diamond ski run in October. You are invited to climb it 17 times (22+ miles total) in a 36 hour time period. You pay over $4000 for the glamping tent and meal support which includes gondola rides down in between ascents of 1.3 miles (1750 feet altitude gain). The Tronquet Suffering Index (TSI) was discredited when the last quarter mile metrics exceeded TSI upper limits. I am pleased the 2020 climb is sold out because I definitely would have signed up.
Ten Second Test
I have been sneezing into my elbow but nobody wants to elbow bump with me. Every time I sneeze, I remember to loudly curse my allergies. When I cough, I curse lung cancer. Those lies do not help. People scatter. They act like flatulence is a sign of Coronavirus. No one took much notice of my belching before COVID-19. So far I have not contracted the respiratory illness. I know this because I have passed the self administered YouTube test by holding my breath for ten seconds without coughing. I do this dozens of times every day, mostly after anyone gets near me. I think this medical procedure has exacerbated the flatulence and belching. I cannot get any official confirmation from my doctor because his office staff thinks I am a crank caller. And I admit to being cranky. I survived a month off school in second grade with a mumps infection that landed me in the hospital. I survived rheumatic fever, a burst appendix, and a couple of melanomas. I do not like the prospect of being felled at age 72 by a Coronavirus I never heard of. I am still holding out hope for death by inhalation of smoke at age 95 in a daring rescue of orphans from a burning building.
Yesterday I finally polished off the last wall of our gingerbread house. We left it up into January because we had a party where it was part of the decor. So by the time we got around to dismantling it, the gingerbread had hardened more than usual and the holiday guests were not around to help me eat it. Everyone avoided the gingerbread just like they skip the lime jello with veggies I make for Thanksgiving. Not even the candy trimmings on the house were enticing. To be fair, the gingerbread had the texture of chalk. But if you made chalk with sugar, it would be edible. I am thinking of test marketing some as Rock Chalk Jayhawk in Kansas. Unfortunately, I am not a good judge of popular food. Last week I ordered a peanut butter burger in Virginia. I have ordered those before at other restaurants. Some feature sweet onions or jelly so I know I am not alone in believing everything tastes better with peanut butter. I should have slathered some on the gingerbread and seen if PB&G would have tempted more people to join me at the table.
I found myself daydreaming and did not even know I was lost. I heard myself snoring and knew I was asleep. I saw myself winning and knew I was dreaming. I smelled fear and knew I was blogging. I tasted the pressure of posting a daily blog as the clock raced. I felt it would count if I could squeeze out at least sixty five words.
Not many people remember their Second Holy Communion the way my eight year old granddaughter will. She was the youngest person in the Christmas Children’s Choir performing behind the altar last Christmas Eve, so she took Communion like everyone else in the Choir. She says she thought that was supposed to be her First Communion. She was also an Angel in the homily pageant performed by students on the altar. The Church was packed. Flowers were everywhere. People were dressed up. It did seem like a special night. I did not see Zofia receive her unsanctioned First Communion. In fact, I did not hear about it until long afterward as others kept that news from me. Zofia will likely receive her second Communion on May 17th with the rest of her class at the First Communion Mass. I will try to insure that is only her second Communion by sticking very close to her during every Mass until then, especially on Easter.
Sorry Jeffrey Anne
Walter Mosley, the crime novelist, just published Trouble is What I Do. One perk for a fiction writer is selecting character names. Catfish Worry is a blues singer from Mississippi who has descendants passing for white. Exposure consequences are as dangerous as you would expect in a crime novel. Some of the lesser characters are named Archibald Lawless, Dido Kazz, and Mozelle Tot. Mosley has created lead heroes like Easy Rawlins and Leonid McGill who have recurring roles in his books. I rarely get the satisfaction of knowing the story behind the names of fictional characters. I feel sorry for my own characters who were banished to obscurity by being born in an unheralded novel. Sherlock Holmes, Scarlett O’Hara, and Hannibal Lecter were lucky that their creators were skilled writers. Does my own Jeffrey Anne Jones deserve a death sentence just because her writer is a hack? She is so forgettable that I actually had to skim to Chapter 12 of my own novel Suicide Squeeze to find her last name and the spelling of her first name! And I lovingly created that name. I always wanted a daughter with a version of my own male name. I had no daughter and my wife never would have agreed anyway. When you write, you carry the pressure of your own possible failure but also the responsibility for characters who are depending on you for their very life!
Just So You Know
Whenever I update my list of best phrases I have ever heard, my wife Mollie is the speaker who dominates the top spots (e.g., “I’m pregnant”). My skin cancer screener has muscled her way near the top for her occasional words, “Your biopsy came back negative.” Unfortunately, said screener also populates the worst phrase list. My wife is a multiple speaker of worst phrases, including the ominous: “Just so you know.” Nothing good ever follows that phrase. The completed sentence is never going to be: “Just so you know, you are the kindest person I have ever met.” The tone of voice and facial expressions make it clear that bad news is coming. Something like: “Just so you know, while you were babysitting the grandchildren were running around on the roof playing tag.” I would like to answer that I distinctly told them that they could only play hide ‘n seek up there. But I know better because I do not want to hear: “Just so you know, I am meeting with a divorce lawyer this afternoon.” When I am the culprit, I need to take responsibility. But my wife tends to punish me when others are culpable: “Just so you know, your son is up on the roof flying kites with the grandchildren.” Or: “Just so you know, Mike Pence is working hour by hour leaning into the Coronavirus problem Hunter Biden introduced to this country.”
College or Not?
Elon Musk joins others who say you do not need college to learn stuff. He notes college is for fun and for proving you do your chores. He asks, “Did Shakespeare even go to college?” That question has never been definitely answered. One account has him spending seven years (1585-1592) earning his AA degree in Horsemanship at King’s New Country School in Stratford. But echoing Musk’s point, he was mostly having fun poaching deer and writing scurrilous ballads during his college years. Still, I would ask, “Did Shakespeare ever use a flush toilet?” Bill Gates dropped out of college. He co-founded Microsoft and was the Forbes World’s Richest Person for nineteen years. He has inspired many others to drop out of college. Surprisingly, the vast majority of those dropouts have not been able to duplicate the Gates path to success, although most have mastered the flush toilet. Shakespeare was a bit of a mysterious recluse. He never drove a car or flew on an airplane. He never used a computer, preferring to write out his plays by hand. Others might do well to follow in his footsteps. But until we get through this Coronavirus crisis, do use the flush toilets and wash your hands.
My wife Mollie and I are shocked at how few elderly people are left. We define that group as people older than ourselves. I knew the Spanish Flu was not the last pandemic any more than World War I was “the war to end all wars.” I worried about Ebola when Coronavirus is the threat. Since we are not elderly, we took an airplane to see the grandchildren in Virginia this week. Donald Trump assured us we could. If you cannot trust the President, who can you trust? Nobody. Mollie could not trust me to keep the trip a secret. Others scorned us for flying, not because we might get sick or die. They assume we are irresponsibly infecting others. In a true pandemic we will get sick one way or another because we reflexively touch our faces and forget to wear gloves when we handle the toilet paper deliveries. I do Sudoku puzzles but do not consider it a meaningful defense against dementia. Our grandchildren on both coasts are still attending school. Fortunately we have built up their immunities by letting them eat food off the floor for years. We take big risks every day. I have not had a colonoscopy in 17 years. I could have stayed home and submitted to one but I felt safer on the plane. While doing my 2019 income tax, I realized my wife and I incurred no dental expense. We have no dental insurance and did not visit the dentist. Mollie says that makes us negligent but it just means we have incredible teeth. Mine have received many gold and silver medals over the years. Even this posting carries the risk I might end up laughing out of the other side of my coffin.