Saturday, March 19, 2011

Status report

What I'm reading: Stephen King's first Dark Tower book, the revised version. I enjoyed reading the introduction and foreward possibly more than even the book so far. He's such a self-observant writer and generous with his insights about the world of writing.

Where we are: at an undisclosed location. Possibly home, possibly at South Padre Island.

Things I've learned when I was vacationing at South Padre Island: Austin, my 16-year-old, explained the significance of a woman wearing beads. My coworker (also a woman) kept telling me, "Now Julie, don't come back wearing a bunch of beads! My opinion of you will change!" I confess I really didn't get this till Austin explained it all yesterday. I'd like to buy some beads for all my coworkers and boss. Let's see, there are seven of them, four of whom are also CPAs.

So, am I the only grown woman (or person over 12, for that matter) who didn't know, guys give girls beads in exchange for being flashed?

I also learned I don't like Snoop Dogg's language. The concert, across from our RV Park at Schlitterbahn, was billed for "over 18" but we could hear him clearly, as the sound probably traveled at least a mile from his set. But, hey, this means I was at a Snoop Dogg concert*! (*as an unwilling bystander) Can't wait to tell Kyle, my coworker who warned me about beads.

I also discovered I am quite unusually scatter-brained. I ran off without packing any extra bras, and not enough shirts, which is just not like me at all. I think I've been trying to cram in so much new tax knowledge, and some of the more basic stuff has leaked out of my head.

I learned I sometimes have a woeful lack of common sense. Not really! That is, I already knew I somehow have survived for 40-some years while mainly lacking this ingredient in my life, this "common sense" as you people blessed with it like to call it. On a recent evening, one of the wildest on the island, the boys wanted to ride their bikes out to the beach. It was after 10 pm. Dwaine and I both allowed them to. Why? I couldn't say. About 10 minutes later, I panicked and said, oh what have I done? (not for the first time) and then Lord, please give me my boys back and let me have another chance! We both contacted them --meaning my hubby and I, not the Lord and I, though he may have been in touch on another channel -- and told them to come back. Which, mercifully, they did quickly and safely.

So, I officially have the best boss in the world because I hinted I wouldn't mind having one day off over Spring Break, and a few weeks ago, he told me to make it two. That's one of many reasons he is Best Boss. Sure beats Dwaine's last few! He's had a string of bad luck in the work world lately.

I could stay on the beach forever, it seems. The water is mesmerizing. On a recent night, I was watching the surface reflected by the moon from the causeway while we waited in a really bad-a** line to get back on the island (we had gone off it to eat at Pirate's Landing in Port Isabel and then Andrew fished, unsuccessfully, from the pier there while I read "The Old Man and the Sea" -- a must-read while at the beach, BTW, which can be done in about an hour). I thought the line would have died down by 9:30 pm, but it was as bad as ever. The entire causeway was stacked with cars and RVs and trucks, end to end, for many hours. Dwaine swore the island couldn't possibly hold them all, and he said law enforcement should start turning them away! But somehow, they all made it on the island (though there was no place to park), and this morning, there is no line. There's never a line for anything in the morning.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, the water. The surface is never still, and the ripples are endlessly complex, all that visible energy symptomatic of what is happening at the cellular level, and way beneath that, all the way to the atomic level. The ocean describes the enormous energy that is in and all around us, so much of it deceptively locked in place to our unseeing eyes. The motion, and the sound, that rhythm of the waves, when did it ever start? And when will it stop? Even on the stillest day, the bay still swirls and the waves still break. Stillest, yet never still. What would it take to stop the water from moving? Water is the most destructive element, also so beautiful to watch, and essential for life on earth. We are so much water; most of all space, then water. And we are all in constant motion. What is a body at rest? Is there such a thing, anywhere at all?

There I go again.

Reading "The Old Man and the Sea" was not a carefully hatched plan. It's the book Andrew is reading for pre-AP English right now, and it happened to be the only book in the vehicle at the time, so I read it. Again I marvelled at Hemingway's clean, spare use of language. Every sentence in that book is beautifully expressive without using excessive words, as I am doing here. It's quite a difficult feat, and he was the master. But his genius haunted him. Is it the genius, I wonder, that is the undoing of so many of the best artists, or is it being able to see the darkness so clearly? That's a thought to end on.


  1. Beautiful as usual Julie. I can't believe you guys ventured to S. Padre during Spring Break! You know MTV used to do Spring Break specials from there (I think S. Padre has been replaced by Panama City as the IN place though) and it mostly consisted of topless girls wearing beads :). And speaking of beads, are we seriously to believe that you "accidentally" forgot to take bras and shirts to S. Padre? I bet in the back of your closet there is a secret stash of hard-earned beads.

  2. "There's a fine line between genius and insanity." - Oscar Levant

    This quote has stuck with me since I watched a show about "Brain Man" Daniel Tammet, in which he said this line (or something very similar).


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