Source: AllthingsclipartSince the start of the new year, I’m finding myself in a bit of a disorganized rut. I start one thing, and after a short period I’ll set it back down; then I’ll start another only to have it suffer the same fate. There are worse things, of course, which I’ll actually get to in a few moments. But suffice to say that just under four and a half years into early retirement, I’m experiencing my first moment of restlessness. To quote a more prominent person who I understand is feeling similarly right now, “poor me.”
So I hope, dear readers, that you’ll indulge me as I dispense with my usual one-topic essay in favor of a potpourri-type missive here. Fear not: for those who nod off or otherwise begin to also find their attention spans challenged, I promise you a plate of freshly baked cookies along with a glass of milk at the end of this post. I am grateful for your indulgence and patience. If nothing else, we strive for benevolence here at Snakes in the Grass.
The above photo, ever so slightly staged in an attempt to provide at least lame evidence of my scattered pursuits, includes the following:
Three books.¹ Hoo boy. Not since college have I attempted to read more than one at a time, and back then it was rarely for pleasure. I realize some people actually do read more than one book a time, but I can’t ever do that. Yet, in the last month or so, this is exactly what I’ve been doing as I flit from one thing to the next. In spite of my troubles, I can tell you that the top book in the photo, Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee, is absolutely the best novel I’ve read in years. During rare moments of relative concentration, I really am enjoying this story about four generations of a Korean family. It is passionate, haunting and beautiful. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
Money matters. Our accountant is way too punctual. No sooner did we clean and put away the champagne glasses to celebrate 2019 than we received her “organizer” for our upcoming taxes. The organizer runs about 15 pages and always requires hours of finding pertinent paperwork and, well, organizing it into groups. I tend to be good about filing away IRA, brokerage, and bank statements during the year, but now I have to sort through all that information and copy it onto her blank spaces. Fortunately there is occasional mirth in the process: when your wife is a professional psychic, it’s interesting to see what kinds of business deductions she attempts to submit. Most of them never actually make it to the accountant, but I do enjoy her spirit. So to speak.
Solidarity. As I poke fun about restlessness and my own lack of an attention span, former colleagues of mine still on the job are coping with a partial shutdown of the federal government, now in day 30 as I write this. Over 800,000 federal employees are affected, plus scores of contractors. As of last Friday, many of them missed their second paycheck. Some have been forced to stand in line at donation centers for handouts of food and groceries. My pension fortunately continues to be paid; but in solidarity, I’ve made several phone calls and sent emails to my senators and congressional representative to voice my objection about the ongoing madness. From food inspectors, to airport safety measures, to food stamps, this shutdown is impacting many Americans, not just civil servants.
Random fits and starts…
We are currently backed-up with our TV shows. Regular readers here might recall that last year we started a streaming subscription to Acorn TV, plus enabled the Prime service from our Amazon membership. For two people who’ve never really been huge TV watchers, it’s admittedly an embarrassment of riches. We’ve been binge-watching the shows Vera, Midsomer Murders, Shetland, Ladies of Letters, and Goodnight Sweetheart. I noticed on the DVR last week that the new season of “Victoria” started again on PBS, as did a new episode of “This is Us” on NBC. We haven’t even gotten to those yet. And somehow, in spite of the Bronx cheer I get in my own living room, I am keeping tabs on the last season of Big Bang Theory. Too much to watch, so little time.
The NFL playoffs just concluded, which means that the Super Bowl is coming up early next month. Other than the Thanksgiving day Lions game, which I turn on primarily because of tradition (with the sound low or muted), the Super Bowl is the only professional football game I watch at all. It’s the one day of the year that Gorgeous will hold her tongue (and her stomach) when I go out and bring back appetizers from the frozen food aisle like those sticky Buffalo wings, etc.
The Rams in 14. Oh, and I don’t know Maroon 5 at all; bring back Bruce.
Has your gym been overcrowded from the annual wave of people who join after the start of the new year? Ours was and it became sort of comical at times because of the sheer number of them. However, we noticed only last week that already the crowds are starting to thin out again. I can return to getting my favorite machine in my favorite location (near the overhead TV airing CNBC, away from one showing Fox News). I hate to wish bad tidings on anyone, but I’m always relieved when the newbies go back to their regular routines, or at least find a more preferred time to workout.
For those who made it this far, I did promise freshly baked cookies and milk. Enjoy. Those of you who cheated and came here immediately without reading, we know who you are and we’re taking names.
Until next time…
¹ (1) Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, 2017 Grand Central Publishing; (2) Gracie: A Love Story by George Burns, 1988 G.P. Putnam’s Sons; and (3) People Like Us by Dominick Dunne, 1988 Crown Publishers.
I read recently how the 1950’s “George Burns and Gracie Allen Show” is considered by some television historians to be cutting-edge, and also a blueprint of sorts for later TV sitcom successes. For instance, Burns’s breaking of the fourth wall to speak directly to viewers was unique for this new medium at the time. After watching a handful of episodes on YouTube, I was inspired to read Burn’s tribute to his then-late wife, Gracie.