14 November 2013


I love thrift stores. We have a few here in Yreka, and as I had a little time after work today I decided to go a-thriftin' for things I like. What do I like, you ask? I like CDs. I'm old school--I like the full, rich sound you get from an actual disc, which is much better than an .mp3 file. I like LPs, too, just in case you were wondering. So, I spent ten bucks at two different stores for four CDs. Yeah--ten bucks for four CDs. The first one is a Dave Brubeck/Gerry Mulligan live collection called We're All Together Again for the First Time which features performances from a 1973 European tour. Yes, it includes "Take Five" as well as the Mulligan tune "Unfinished Woman" and their take on the classic "Sweet Georgia Brown." Good stuff. The next is Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come from 1959, which is exactly my own vintage. It was considered avant-garde at the time, but 54 years is a long time! Joe Jackson's I'm the Man was a big hit when I was a college kid, and I remember listening to his music quite a bit back in those days. All three of those discs, despite the battered cases, are in perfect shape. The last one is Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley, a compilation from the early 60s that was released by Capitol (Blue Note) on CD in 1993. The disc itself looks pretty bad, but all the tunes played just fine. I never listened to jazz singers much until I discovered Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, since then I've learned to appreciate that music. I'll say it again: four CDs for ten bucks.

I saw a genuine US Navy pea coat in 40XL for five bucks that I almost bought on principle. I certainly don't need another winter coat, but this thing was gorgeous. The wool and lining were in great shape, the buttons were original and intact, and it fit surprisingly well except that the sleeves were a little long. It weighed about ten pounds and came down past my butt like a top coat. A beautiful thing, man, but I'd have to make some serious room in my closet! I remember working at Acme Surplus in Oakland when I was a young lad, and we sold coats like that for a minimum of fifty bucks and often as high as seventy, and that was over thirty years ago. A coat like that is a classic--but not really my thing. I hope some poor working stiff on a budget finds that treasure and keeps himself warm all winter.

Oh, and I picked up a nice long-sleeve shirt for four bucks. My size (15-1/2 by 34), Van Heusen 60/40 cotton/poly broadcloth, white with very thin longitudinal stripes of blue and brown. Dressy, with a spread collar (I have too many of those, I was hoping for the button-type), but will work great as a casual shirt. Not bad for an hour after work.

10 November 2013

XXX: Two-thirds Full

Lots of people told me to enjoy my final year of teaching as it would "go by fast." With the Monday Veterans Day holiday, Tuesday the 12th of November is the 60th work day on the calendar. That's exactly one-third of my work year of 180 days. Only 120 left! I've been thinking a lot about the speed of time, and I find my anticipation about June 6th, 2014 has caused my days to crawl by. I feel like I look up from my desk at the government-issue utilitarian analog clock on the wall and it keeps saying 10:30 a.m. over and over again. This year is definitely NOT racing by! I'm not complaining, a day should take a day, should it not? A week should feel like a week, right? I've always been a "glass half-full" sort of fellow, and as I look at my calendar I see that two-thirds of the year remains, not that one-third is done. I'm tired all the time, and feel harried and a bit abused on the job, but I always manage to center myself and take a few deep breaths and remind myself "LAST time I have to do THAT." Believe me, that's a huge help. Still, when I finally trudge home I feel like a squeezed-out sponge. My brain is spent, and all I want to do is drink whiskey and pass out on the couch. (My lovely bride bears the brunt--I'm sorry, sweetheart. Zombie Mark will soon be a distant memory.)

Wednesday the 13th is my birthday, number fifty-four. I started this gig when I was a mere lad of twenty-four. I remember those early days really well--it's the stuff in the middle that's all jumbled up. The last few years have been particularly intense, I'm not sure why, and the time has certainly not flown by. It's been a grind, nice and slow, like a glacier. It makes the wait for the big date a little harder, but I don't want to see my days disappear in a blur. Einstein convinced us that time is not absolute, it goes fast or slow depending on the observer. My ninth-graders told me on Friday that their freshman year of high school was "flying by." Isn't that funny? Nine more work days and it will be Thanksgiving Break. I think I can make that.