The watch ticks on, oblivious to the importance of its ticks. But the watch-wearers know and are making much of the passage of time today, like kids busily making a big sand castle against the imminence of the tide that will soon pound it down. As the saying goes: Time and tide wait for Norman. And Norman's taking his sweet time.
Think about it, but not too hard, whilst I open the last six hatches of this mystery march through December...
This is one of those days that provides a window to Canada, if not Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, all those other places where English is spoken in funny accents and Christmas is extended by a day that's apparently for boxing things--either to give to the neighbours, or to return to the shops. There's no evidence that Boxing Day is an occasion for fisticuffs, except maybe a clue that surfaced on a walk with Carol. My hands, though gloved, were cold, and Carol explained that I should move all my fingers from their separate tunnels and bundle them together in the belly of the glove, thumb tucked inside, to warm up. I had no idea! Maybe Scrooge was right, and the way to warmth is tight-fisted, rather than open-handed!
Matt's writing a screenplay, a five-minute film for his filmmaking class. He was stuck. When you're stuck and the instrument you're writing on is the same one that distracts you from writing with a carnival of links and websites and videos and social media, then it's a good idea to remember what Red Smith, the sportswriter said, which in the version I know goes: "Writing's easy. You just sit at your typewriter and wait until little drops of blood appear on your forehead." Makes one miss the typewriter.
Anyway, he eventually got unstuck, blood or no blood.
This was one of those little "oh" moments that the eye sees, the brain notes, and it becomes knowledge. It was a quarter of five, I was in Arlington Center, walking between the fitness place and the book shop, and I realized how light the sky was for that hour, pink to the west and evening blue, the same hue as the houses and trees, to the south. Only a week past solstice and already we'd gained back a good ten minutes of winter light. January, you old optimist!
Arlington has the coziest bookstore in greater Boston, a tiny bibliotheque of new and used everything called The Book Rack. And if you bring in books of your own to add to their shelves, you get a generous discount on used-book purchases. Thus it was that I took home three books for $9—Slaughterhouse-5 for Matt, The Bridegroom (Ha Jin) for Carol, and for me, the Collected Stories of Dylan Thomas, my birthday mate (October 27). Nothing like a new book to start a new year. Reading and exercise, that's the ticket.
Good segue: I just read Miller's Secret Rat Race. Not really. It's a cryptic puzzle clue without a puzzle, something I do aimlessly and often. You'll see the "secret" word hidden in that sentence: I just read Miller's... Treadmill, that's the answer. And there's a definition for treadmill hidden in there, too: Rat Race. All of which is just to give the treadmill its aha! moment, because I'm trying to make it more of an enticement than just a getting-nowhere-fast (or at least a brisk walk) for 20 or 30 minutes while listening to NPR on my little radio and trying not to compare myself with the woman on the treadmill next to mine, who's running in place at an Atalanta-like clip.
Auld Lang Syne
Well, just about caught up now. Twenty minutes to midnight. Earlier I was thinking of my favorite New Year's Eve, which was when I was seven or eight and got to stay up late with my sister, Dory, who was eleven or twelve. We had popcorn and sparkling Night Club strawberry or lime soda and we watched the TV shows that were on too late, in the forbidden zone, shows like M Squad with Lee Marvin and Markham with Ray Milland, and we'd even make it up to the momentous moment, ushered in by Guy Lombardo in a white suit, leading his Royal Canadians in a fond, wavery rendition of Auld Lang Syne. Ten minutes. Old long since. Old long ago. Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Of course not. We'll toast the good old times with a cup o' kindness, for old time's sake! But I can't help adding this nugget from Wikipedia: "The melody [of Auld Lang Syne] is played as a background music at department stores in Japan to let the customers know that the establishment is closing soon."
Five minutes. Happy you near! Happy near you! Three minutes! Get ready, Georgia O'Keeffe calendar! Two...One... Harry New Year!!!!
Well, I'll settle for the Wynton Marsalis sextet on the radio, swinging in 2014, with the top-hatted baby cutting a rug with the old geezer with the giant hourglass.
To your health! And yours!