I took a sick day and stayed home Tuesday, wasn’t feeling well. My ears hurt, you see, and so did my head. And my eyeballs. And my teeth. And my feelings. In that regard I felt like I imagine a depressed possum might feel, upon realizing not only is he depressed, he’s also a possum and what with all the humans around here these days there’s no future in that, not here, not anymore.
When I stood up, I wanted to sit down. When I sat down, I wanted to lay down. When I laid down, I felt like I should get up and do something. My wife kept trying to make me take something. “Do you want to get better or not?”
I took some generic painkillers and tried to figure out a plan. Tuesdays are important days in my life. They’re the day before Wednesday, which is when this newspaper goes to press whether it’s ready or not. It behooves me to do things on Tuesday, whether I’m breathing or not.
So I figured I might get some damage done. I went upstairs to the only room in the house I’m allowed to call mine to type something resembling a story and check email. Half an hour later I was back downstairs to watch TV, and managed to stay still and awake enough to watch “The Angry Red Planet.” I highly recommend that movie if you like terrible movies, which I do.
Back upstairs, I worked for a while on a story about the interchange at I-95 and I-16 before I lost momentum.
It’s an interchange that, along with much of the rest of that strip of commercial hubbub from Port Wentworth and on down the road, should be blown up and started over. I can’t write that in the story. I can for the opinion page.
Anyway, I got a handful of paragraphs done and felt like I’d just finished wrestling a particularly energetic walrus, one that didn’t want to be written. Then I looked around. I realized I have lots of stuff in my room. No wonder my wife won’t turn me loose anywhere else.
In front of the laptop I worked at on a wall are tacked some old Georgia Southern game day posters honoring the real Adrian Peterson. They’re right next to a Spongebob Squarepants poster, which is next to a Three Stooges poster. On the desk in no particular order is a plastic Christmas tree and an empty cigar box and a pocket Instamatic 20 camera and some cups filled with pens and pencils and some notebooks filled with notes I can’t read, and it’s my handwriting. A whacky bat and Duncan Butterfly yo-yo are nearby. To my left, a couple bookshelves filled with books, like a Gray’s Anatomy and what I think is a complete set of around 20 “how to fix things” books from Popular Mechanic, circa 1960-something, and some Miss Read novels, and lots of mysteries, ranging from Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse series to R.D. Wingfield’s Inspector Frost series. Down at the bottom, an Idiot’s Guide to 20th Century History.
And here, a Mack Bolan paperback, “Executioner #83: Missouri Deathwatch,” by Don Pendleton. I get a kick out of that kind of writing. Inside, page 39 … “Bolan’s war was not about St. Louis, or New York, or any other single battlefield along the way. It was a universal struggle with universal stakes, and he could not afford to blow it all for the sake of getting finished quickly. And it was still the same old war, beneath the superficial changes, sure. Good versus Evil. Civilization versus the Savages. Right. It was the longest running war on record.” And how. Bolan shoots a lot of people up in these books.
There’s more. More cameras, some quite old. Cameras here, there and everywhere. My wife is convinced I collect cameras, so I do. Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars, which I have collected over the years, are over there, next to a metal detector, shortwave radio and lots of CDs and records and a stereo that lets you record your albums onto CD. I’ve been working on recording Harry Belafonte, Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass and The Ventures for years now. Lots of stuff piled on a workstation, along with my desktop computer, which hasn’t been turned on in a couple years. On a wall is a Dale Earnhardt poster (senior. I’m old school). And a battery powered plastic Atlanta Journal Constitution Atlanta Braves clock from the 90s, or maybe the 80s, only back then the Braves were so bad they couldn’t tell time.
What else? A real telescope. An old bound volume of Atlanta Journal papers from the 1920s. A somewhat fleabitten bass mounted by a neighbor back when my folks lived on Lake Gale and he was trying to see if was something he’d want to do for a living.
A TV, and a laundry hamper full of baseball and bucket hats amassed over the years, most Gamecocks. Some knick knacks. Some old Army ribbons and my field artillery insignia, stuck to a cardboard coaster. I never kept any that jazz, but for some reason I kept an old Army issue laundry bag I had when I was stationed in Germany. With it in a box are a Ramones t-shirt, an Incredible Hulk T shirt and a dashiki. I wondered where that dashiki had gone.
There, a plastic bottle of water with an Arabic label I brought home from covering the start to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2001. And a box with what’s left of an electric train set along with a few cards and letters from people who appreciated something I’ve written over the years, including a photo sent to me by the parents of a young lady who died in a car crash in Moultrie back in the 1990s when we had time to do stories better.
More mostly unreadable reporters notebooks, some old newspapers from all over. Dog toys belonging to old dogs dead and buried but still beloved.
Backpacks, including one I’ve had since I was stationed in Germany. Got it before a trip to the General Walker hotel. Everyone should got to the General Walker hotel.
A pirate kite with a skull and crossbones on it. A Mexican Elvis statue. A glass from the Pennsylvania Anti Horse Thief Society I bought at a yard sale in Rincon. On the floor, a sisal rug from the 1970s with the outline of the state of South Carolina and “This is Gamecock Country” written to it. A South Carolina Gamecock board circa 1980. A cassette tape made in the 1980s by my Uncle Peewee and Aunt Mary and their four-piece band, The Newry Church Gospel Singers. Southern Gospel never sounded better, and never will.
Some .22 bullets. Remote control cars without remote controls. Cables and screwdrivers and a can of lucky house spray No. 7 or something I got at a Fred’s to win the lottery. It hasn’t worked so far. A real sombrero.
Indeed, every spare inch is taken up with something, which made me wonder Tuesday if my wife is right, and if I really want to blow something up I should start in my room.
I feel better today