Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sentimental Journey to a Musical Office

About halfway through my childhood, we got a TV and a VCR. We didn't pick up any broadcast channels except for PBS every once in a very great while, were too far out for cable and for satellite, so VHS tapes were all we ever really watched. My dad had a tendency to periodically pick up bunches of budget movies--the sort that used to go on sale for fifty cents or a buck brand new. These days, budget movies seem to generally be recent films which didn't do well in theaters (and which should have been allowed to die quietly), but back then they were mostly old black and white movies and TV shows, copied to poor quality long play tapes without any restoration, and typically with lousy sound and picture quality. We saw shaky versions of old Tom Mix serials, the original Flash Gordon, old and mostly forgotten musicals like Born to Dance and Pot o' Gold, all sorts of James Cagney movies and Kirk Douglas movies and Bette Davis movies and Charles Boyer movies and...well, you get the idea.

One of our favorite tapes was a rather hacked together documentary about Ernie Kovacs' TV show, mostly highlights from the show: favorite skits and shorts. We eventually wore that sucker out, and for years I've thought back fondly on the bits and pieces, wishing I could revisit. For some reason, it never occurred to me to check YouTube.

Last night we were looking for a stapler, and my sister pulled out the pencil sharpener I have yet to find a home for and started whistling "Sentimental Journey." I knew exactly what she meant...I can't use a pencil sharpener without the same thing running through my head. We got to talking about that old tape and ended up on YouTube...lo and behold, you can find all *sorts* of Ernie Kovacs material on the web! This particular short is an old favorite, and (in my humble opinion), a must for those of us who love old office equipment, typewriters and otherwise.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

Exits and Horizons

It has been a week of winding down after the big move and all the accompanying chaos. It did start off with one final stressful day: Monday was the hearing for that "wheels off the roadway" traffic ticket I got back in November. I'd asked for a mitigation hearing. I did drive on the shoulder. However, the fact that everyone turning right does that at that exit unless there isn't any other traffic seemed to be mitigating circumstances to me.

So...I got my court date, and Monday I put on my best dress and my good shoes, and a good friend helped me think out what I'd like to say, and also took this picture of the exit in question.


This is pretty much how it was that night, too--a moment of lightish traffic, with a few cars backed up. Other times, the cars are backed up all the way to the interstate. In either case, traffic generally forms two lines, one driving on the left, the other on the right, mostly on the shoulder.

This was my first experience in a courtroom of any kind, and mundane though the circumstances were, I couldn't help making mental notes. Not that traffic tickets amount to much of a courtroom experience.... But now I can give a character a traffic ticket and let him or her deal with it in realistic fashion...heh.

There were maybe a few dozen of us who had the same hearing time, and we all sat in a few long rows on benches at the back of the courtroom waiting for our names to be called in reverse alphabetical order. Most of the other tickets were for speeding, running red lights or failing to stop at stop signs, no proof of insurance. The one other off-the-roadway offense was more blatant: off the pavement entirely, not just partially on the shoulder while turning.

When my turn came, I got up, gave the judge the photograph, went back to the table, and said my short piece--essentially that I've lived here four years, that traffic always divides into two lanes at that exit as a way of making the best of a bad situation (truck stops to both right and left, and no traffic light, traffic gets very backed up), and didn't know I was doing anything wrong. She looked at the photo, confirmed which exit it was, and said, "So you weren't really off the road--you were on this big wide shoulder." I said yes, and she said, "It sounds to me like you'd like to contest this ticket rather than mitigating." And she explained that to contest, I would need to wait until after the mitigation hearing was complete, and then she would review the officer's statement (in lieu of his actually being there), and swear me in, and then I could, under oath, tell my side of the story. Then she would consider both sides and either I would have to pay the fine in entirety (no mitigation), or the ticket would be dismissed entirely. Contesting seemed to be the way she was guiding me, so I went for it, albeit with trepidation. She gave me the officer's statement to review and sent me back to my seat to wait until the mitigation hearing was complete.

When I sat down, the guy sitting next to me, who had already noted the location of the photo said, "You got pulled over for driving on the right shoulder *there*? What else are you supposed to do?" Made me feel a little better about my chances, but I was still really nervous. I sat there in a fog, desperately thinking prayers to the Holy Spirit that I'd know what to say, while the rest of the people went through.

When the time came, she had me swear in, and then I more or less repeated my earlier statement--not very eloquently, I'm afraid. Her response began with stating that there are lots of exits like that around the area with a tendency to get backed up, and where people turn right on the shoulder. I was thinking, "Here it comes--she's going to say, 'But that's no excuse.'" But she didn't. She ended off by saying, more or less, "I don't believe that is what wheels off the roadway means, and I'm going to dismiss this ticket." I just sat there blinking until she said, "You're free to go."

My friend Diana, who came with me to the hearing, said she wanted to stand up and cheer. ;-) A victory for the citizens of Exit 99! Me, I just went all wobbly-kneed and practically started crying. But what a relief! This whole affair has been hanging over my head for four months now, and now it's over and done with for good, as though it never happened. Now I can relax and settle into the new house.

And I do love it. I like being out of town, though it does mean I have to think a bit about combining errands in town, and it is a longer commute. I like the fact that a number of times a day we can hear trains go by--a distant rumble and whistle, not quite enough to shake the house, but enough to stir the soul. I like the way the wind sounds in the trees that surround us, and even like waking to the sound of joyous corgi barking next door. ;-) And I like being right on the trail--the best location on the map.

This morning I got up, got mostly ready for work, and then, in the dim barely-morning light, took thedog for a three mile walk.

It was raining when we started off--not a torrent, but steadily enough that I almost didn't go. Apparently others had the same thought. I didn't see another soul out there, though generally there are a few joggers, a cyclist or two: just an intrepid handful of hardy early morning folk. Today, we had the trail entirely to ourselves. I thought I'd taken a photo to end this off with...but my real camera is still missing in action, and my phone apparently chewed up the picture and swallowed it.

I rather like being out in the rain, once I get going, at least in the spring and summer. Oh, dealing with wet clothes and wet shoes when you get home isn't any fun, but being out there in the wet isn't so bad, so long as you're warm enough. And it's a different flavor of outside: everything is at once intensified and muted. The damp brings out the scent of earth and flowers, of leaves and water--and dog. Colors are heightened by the water, reflected on every surface...but softened in the lack of light. There are no sharp edges; the horizon fades off into a sort of hopeful mistiness. There is promise in the air; the rain awakens, it cleanses, it makes things grow.

I stopped a few times to let Cisco sniff around and to stand and reflect myself. The rain had a way of isolating us, capturing us in a moment. I stood and listened to it, looked off into that misty distance.

I can't see what's beyond the next rise...but I'm looking forward to it, whatever it is.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Almost there....

Well, Bernard the SG-3 is now gone (but never to be forgotten). To soften the blow a bit, rather than being sold, he was traded locally for an exceptionally clean little script SM3--the first SM3 *and* the first script machine I've ever used or owned. The only real downside aside from having to say goodbye to a favored machine is that it makes me wish I also had an SM3 or 4 in a more standard typeface. A very satisfying snap, that little thing has. Since I still need to pare down rather than adding any more to the stable, you will likely have to put up with many script typecasts as a compromise.

I haven't done much writing lately, even in my journal. All creative energy has been going into unpacking, decorating--and organizing. If the new little house has a fault, it is that it has a distinct lack of storage space. And I'm down one room. Somewhere in the midst of the move, I acquired (temporarily, at least) a live-in sister, so the office is an office no longer, and all my notebooks and papers and desk and typewriters and all are crammed into the bedroom instead. The paring down that began with the move is being forced to new levels.

I suppose Lent is an ideal time to reflect on what really matters, physically and spiritually. I've had to let go of a great deal in the last few weeks, starting with material things. I don't have that many valuable possessions, and therefore I have a tendency to think I'm not very attached to material things. Moving can be a wake-up call in that regard. My things may not be worth much, but that doesn't mean I'm good at letting go.

And then...bringing another person into the mix shows me how selfish I can be with my time, my space, my routines. It gives me new respect and admiration for those of you who work writing and other artistic hobbies around the needs and wants of spouses and children. I love my sister, and it's nice t have someone around to share experiences, to bounce ideas off, to turn to for opinions and affirmation...but there are moments when I feel at sea because I'm not alone, without anyone else affecting my schedule or offering distractions, intentional or no. Again, I suppose it's a time to consider what is truly important, and to (at least some of the time) be willing to put aside my own comfort zones and typical boundaries in order to assist and interact with others.

I'm a creature of habit, and there really isn't a habit that has been left in peace throughout this move. Everything is in transition, everything is in turmoil, there's nothing to grab onto quite yet. At times I'm so overwhelmed I feel like curling up in a corner with my back to the wall and crying. Change is awful hard. But the new little house is wonderful and bright, there are new flowers blooming outside and more on the way, the shelf above the washer and dryer will someday be up, and eventually all the items lost in transit will either turn up or be replaced. The new couch will be in place in a week or so, so I'll have a place to relax. The new route to work will become routine. The dog will calm down, as much as he ever does, and I'll stop worrying about what my previous landlord might or might not be thinking about me. Easter is just around the corner. And I can start riding my bike to work.

Found this poem as I was doing some of the shuffling of old notebooks. It was written during summer years ago when I was particularly depressed, and it's a bit...much. But I kind of like it. And there have definitely been some foggy moments these past few weeks....