I can’t be trusted to dress myself any longer. When I do, chaos ensues.

After my morning shower, I threw on a pair of pants — just pulled them up to my hips and only buttoned the waist to keep them from falling down because I had already begun to hunt for a shirt.

When I found a shirt, I shrugged into it without buttoning it or tucking it in because I had already gone looking for socks next.

Found socks, sat down on the sofa to put them on, stuffed my feet into shoes and tied them up, then immediately went to pack my bags to go to work — fully intending to do up the rest of the buttons and belts and zips and whatever else I’d left open.

Guess what I looked like when I got to work?

a) an unbuttoned, untucked, unzupped ragamuffin

b) a guy closing in on retirement without a single fuck to give

c) an absent-minded professor

d) a raving lunatic

e) all of the above

Up On The Roof

A couple days ago I was in the van, taking measurements of the floor and adding the measurements to sketches in a notebook so I could figure out how to piece together all the woodwork that’s going to become The Camping Thing. This is not the first time I’ve measured the insides. I’ve measured so many times that I feel sometimes that I should have all the measurements I need, but I do not. There’s always more measurements to be taken.

There are four steel rails that run from the front to the back of the passenger compartment. There’s no way to remove the rails so I have to build The Camping Thing on top of them. The last Camping Thing I built sort of ignored the rails. The big box I made stood on stilts over the back ends of the rails, which worked okay, mostly. This time I’m going to build right on top of them, but to do that I have to know exactly where they are. Hence, all the measurements.

I measured how long each rail is (they’re not all the same, which is a pain in the ass) and how wide they are (they’re all the same width, thank dog). I measured how far each rail is from the front of what I’m going to call the battery box (see previous entry for The Camping Thing), how far they are from the center line, and how tall they are.

I had to run to the garage a couple times to grab scraps of wood. I wanted to see which pieces of dimensional lumber might work best to span the width of the van on top of the rails. That’ll be a bit tricky because the rails are not at equal distances from each other, or from the door frame.

At some time during all this measuring and running back and forth from the garage, I misplaced my tape measure. It takes a special talent to misplace a bright yellow tape measure when the only two places I’ve been are the cramped, gray interior of a van and the admittedly cluttered yet very small interior of a garage less than ten steps away.

The rear of the van was almost empty. There were not a lot of places for the tape measure to hide in there, and I checked repeatedly: I looked all over the carpet, I looked in the battery box, I looked in every compartment (even though I knew I didn’t open them), I looked under the notebook. It wasn’t there, but I looked again and again.

Likewise, I checked everywhere in the garage: On the work bench where I usually keep the tape measures, all around the saw horses where I went for scrap lumber, on the floor in case it fell out of my pocket. Oh yeah, I checked my pockets, several times.

In the end I gave up, grabbed another tape measure, and finished taking measurements and making notes. I figured the other tape measure would turn up sooner or later. In situations like this it usually does, when I’m moving something out of the way or when I’m finally packing everything up. And that’s what happened this time, sort of. When I finished, I cleaned everything up, put it away, grabbed my notebook and pulled the handle on the sliding door, then stepped back to wait for it to close and latch itself. And that’s when I saw the tape measure, on the roof of the van. On the roof. Why the hell did I put it on the roof?

build a fire

I suffered an especially painful case of dry-eye last night and when I told My Darling B about it, she said, “Maybe you need a humidifier in the bedroom.”

What I heard her say was, “Maybe you need to make a fire in the bedroom.”

When she says something that doesn’t make any sense at all, I stop and let the decoder in my brain work on the problem for a while until it comes up with a translation. It’s sort of like Wordle: most of the phonemes are there but I need time to look at the gray areas to imagine how they should be filled in.

But that doesn’t always work. When it doesn’t, I repeat what I thought I heard her say. In this case when I told her, “I heard you say: Maybe you need to make a fire in the bedroom,” she nearly bust a gut laughing. Then, when she could breathe again, she told me about the humidifier.


“It used to be that if I dropped something, I just bent over and picked it up. Now, I stop and think about how to pick it up. Is there something I can grab hold of, or lean on? Is it even worth the effort of picking it up? Maybe I should just leave it there.” — my boss, telling a story about getting old.

Worth noting that he’s almost twenty years younger than I am.


I woke myself up this morning by stretching a little too far, giving myself a leg cramp that was like lighting all up and down my left leg. Twelve hours later it still hurts a bit. Pro tip: If you can possibly avoid it, don’t point your toes when you stretch.

tuckered out

Went for a very long walk around the neighborhood today because temps were in the 40s for the first time in about two weeks, if I recall correctly, and I was feeling so good about getting out of the house until I got all tuckered out while I was still about a mile from our little red house so I had to trudge home, huffing and puffing all the way. It’s what happens when you don’t go outside for two weeks because you don’t like the cold but you also don’t have a treadmill in the basement. You can’t buy stamina at the store.

big log

I don’t know if this is the weirdest thing I’ve ever done, but many years ago while a medical doctor was trying to diagnose a little trouble I was having with my gastrointestinal tract, she asked me to keep a diary of what I ate and each time I pooped. She also wanted to know what kind of dump I had, i.e. was it firm, loose, runny, explosive, etc.

I did just what she told me. I got a pocket-sized spiral-bound notebook, kept it in the breast pocket of my BDU blouse, and each time I sat down to eat I got the notebook out and jotted down a list of each item I was about to consume. I had a very simple appetite and was a picky eater back then, so the list was usually short and easy to make. AND ALSO after each visit to the men’s room I would make a quick note of the visit and the ‘character’ of the expelled dookie. I did this for at least a couple weeks. I think it might have been a whole month.

On my next visit to the doctor I handed over the notebook, saying something like, “You wanted me to write down everything I ate and every time I pooped.” She acted puzzled as she flipped through the pages. “Wow, you really did it,” she said. It seemed to me this was the first time anyone had actually followed her directions. Weirdly, she hardly read the diary. She mostly just flipped through it, pausing to read two or maybe three pages before handing it back to me.

stuck in a loop

So I’ve already written more than once about getting a song stuck in my head. Happens to everybody, but I’m pretty sure my brain takes it to an extreme most other people don’t experience. I could be wrong. This belief is not supported by even the tiniest shred of evidence. But it feels absolutely true.

More to the point: I’ve had three Aretha Franklin songs stuck in my head for the past two weeks: “Ain’t No Doubt About It,” “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You,” and “Respect.” My brain’s been stuck on the first one more than the other two, but all three get air time on Radio Dave. Things could be worse, right? Those are three pretty great songs to have stuck in your head, right?

I guess. It’s just that, after two weeks of hearing those three songs on a loop, I have to say that even a fan of Aretha Franklin might get a little burned out. And I like to think of myself as a fan. But as much as I enjoy listening to those songs, I have to admit I’m getting … tired.

I think the songs that get stuck in my head may have a bit to do with how infrequently I listen to my favorite music these days. I used to have a huge collection of record albums close at hand (it’s in storage in the basement now) and listened to them almost all the time. Even if I wasn’t actively listening, I had an album I liked playing in the background. As a result of that, I had a huge loop of songs in my memory. I still occasionally fell into the single-song loop trap, but not for long. And certainly not for two weeks, ever.

I have to admit, though, that I will sometimes go whole days without listening to much of anything anymore, and even then I’ll turn the radio on only to have music in the background. But modern pop music hardly ever gets stuck in my head because I’m not familiar with it. It’s literally just background noise to me. In that respect, pop music is very safe to listen to.

But when I indulge a craving, as I did about two weeks ago, to listen to favorite album (like the Best Of Aretha Franklin I dug out of the archives), I think my brain eagerly latches on to those familiar sounds and obsesses over the details it enjoys or perhaps hadn’t even noticed until just now. “Hey! We haven’t heard this in a while! Oh I love these musical phrases! Wow these lyrics are the best!” And it goes into a seemingly endless loop of re-listening to the bits it loves every waking minute of the day.

Eventually I have to seek therapy by listening to some other old favorite of mine in the hopes that it will bump the previous album out of my phonological loop. Trouble with that is, the relief is temporary. I’ve just replaced one loop with another, so I’ve got, at best, a week of relief, maybe two, before I get really tired of the new loop. So I have to choose carefully. Which album have I not listened to for the longest time? How long can I stand to have it stuck in my head? What if I totally burn out on it and this is the absolute last time I can listen to it? These questions must be carefully considered before I return to the archive to dig up the next album or two.

dry eye

Everybody knows that old people are hard of hearing or that their eyesight has gone bad. It’s common knowledge because it comes up in conversation all the time, but for whatever reason I never heard anybody talk about dry eye. I never HEARD of dry eye until I was old myself and my own eyes dried out. And I want to tell you, that shit sucks.

Woke up in the middle of the night, rubbed my eyes to get the sleepers out of the corners. Stopped immediately because I felt like I was grinding broken shards of glass into my eyeballs. What the hell is this? Looked it up on WebMD the next day to make sure I didn’t have eyeball cancer. Nope, it’s only dry eye. Everybody gets it. Totally normal. Happens all the time to all kinds of people. Nothing you can do other than put some eyedrops in. Welcome to old age.

On the entire opposite end of the spectrum of eye moisture, my eyes get super weepy for an hour or so after I wake up, almost like they’re overcompensating for drying out. If you see me walking down the street in the early morning, tears steaming from my eyes, don’t worry at all about me, I’m okay. I’m not crying. Well, technically I guess I am crying, but it’s not because I’m heartbroken, it’s because I’m old. This is just how my crappy old eyes work in the morning now. I’m fine.

wakey wakey

I had to get out of bed early this morning because My Darling B wasn’t making any noise AT ALL. I woke up from a dream, made a quick visit to the bathroom, climbed back into bed and, while I was waiting to return to Slumberland for what I was sure would be several more hours, I realized that B was making absolutely no sound. I couldn’t even hear her breathing.

This is not normal. Normal, on any given night in our house, is lots and lots of snoring. I’m as guilty of it as she is, and I know this because she has made a recording of me snoring so I could hear that I sound like a diesel dump truck downshifting on an off-ramp when I snore. She sounds more like a cartoon Dagwood: SNXXXX! SNXXXX!

So when she makes absolutely no sound at all, it can weird me out. Not always. There are lots of nights when I’m so oblivious of what’s going on around me that I can easily return to sleep after any one of my six dozen visits to the loo in the middle of the night, and thank goodness. Having Old Man Bladder would be a million times worse if I couldn’t.

But on a night like tonight after waking from a dream full of super-creepy twists and turns, my lizard brain sometimes kicks in. “She’s not breathing,” it says to me.

“Oh stop it,” I say right back. “Of course she’s breathing.”

“Can you hear her breathing? No, you can’t.”

“Of course I can’t, my tinnitus is ringing off the hook.”

“Your tinnitus isn’t that loud.”

“Shrieking banshees aren’t as loud as my tinnitus. Quit bothering me.”

“So you’re not worried at all that she’s not breathing.”

“No, I’m not worried, because she is breathing and she’s fine.”

“Yeah, I’m sure you’re right. She’s perfectly fine. It’s just that tonight she’s really, really quiet. Happens all the time”

“No. It never happens. She’s never this quiet.”

“Well aren’t you going to do something about it then?”

“And what am I going to do? Give her a poke? That’d go over well I’m sure.”

“You don’t have to do anything as rude as poking her. Just roll over, yawn, scratch yourself, make a little noise, same as you do every night.”

That’s what I did: I made a little noise, then laid perfectly still to see what her reaction would be. Only she didn’t react at all. She continued to lie there, still as a statue, and made no sound. So I rolled over, yawned, stretched, adjusted the bed covers, did a little cat/cow, farted. Finally she made a tiny snuffling noise.

“There! See? She’s breathing.”

“Pffft. Corpses make a noise just like that when they get gassy.”

“You went there. I can’t believe you went there. How are you even part of my psyche?”

“Your psyche is totally screwed up and you know it. Now give her a poke to see if she’s alive.”

Well, dear reader, I didn’t poke her. At that point I gave up on sleep, rolled out of bed and headed to the kitchen to make some coffee. As I grabbed my pants on the way out, B whimpered in her sleep and shifted the blankets to get more comfortable.

Sleep well, B.