Well, it’s a new year. Lots of stuff happened last year, most of it rather unpleasant (at best). There were a couple of high points, but overall, it was a slow slide into what seems like a home stretch.

I grow less and less patient with the insistence of Facebook and Twitter. Yes, I’m on both of those, but they lost their luster for me some time ago. Whenever I sign on, I feel as if I’m walking into the local Mall, circa 1995.

So, I think in this new year of 2012, I’m going to return to the good old “blog” format. As a special bonus, I can pretty much say whatever I want to, since no one reads this anymore! Finally, a good use for that old devil, Time.

Anyway, thanks for dropping by, dear imaginary reader (I remember you from when I was a kid!). I hope to make more regular entries during the new year, including (I hope) the return of the PaintBlog.

The Past and How It Got There

Wow. Just clicking around some old links, finally selecting one I hadn’t visited in years…and I find it’s got the same thing that was there when I last visited.

Namely, a radio play that I recorded a while back. Cool. I didn’t listen, because I hate the sound of my voice, but it’s sort of nice to know that I have a measure of random immortality out there.

Current Day Count: 365

As FithyRottenAngel notes in a comment elsewhere, my blog celebrates its first year of existence today.

It has turned into a rather remarkable (for me) method of organizing my thoughts and projects so that I’m actually getting things done, rather than simply keeping collections of scattered thoughts in my head (where they were getting dusty, and parent figures were saying “You know, you collect all these thoughts and you never play with them, I’m not sure I should buy you any more…”).

I’ve completed six paintings, and have four more in various uncompleted states; I’ve actually written many of the essays I used to think Hey, I should write about that in an essay; and I’m in the middle of a novel, something that may actually get completed. The only remaining fallow field is audio recording, which is of course a much more difficult form to share over the web. But who knows?

Most important of all, I’ve met many kind, intelligent, thoughtful, talented and funny people. That’s been the most productive aspect of all.

Here’s to many more.

October Eleventh

This is really directed at one person, who will, more likely as not, never see it, but the future (so I’m told) remains unwritten.

Happy anniversary.

For the rest of you, that is all ye need know in this blog, and all ye need to know.

Junkyard Nostalgia

I went to college at a small university in a little town on top of a mountain. You could walk from wilderness, through the brief civilization, then back to wilderness in just a matter of minutes. While my career there has, inevitably, been colored through the golden glow of nostalgia, I think I had a pretty good time there.

One thing that was very cool was the local junkyard. It was pretty small, but it wasn’t fenced in or otherwise unavailable. At least, no one ever yelled at me for going there to look around. No dogs, either, other than friendly strays.

For one of my art classes, I went there to find objects to be used in sculptures. I found all manner of intriguing detritus and arranged same on small pieces of wood. I lined them up and declared that they represented the days of the week (I had just conveniently noticed that there were seven of them in total).

I miss that junkyard. Every junkyard I’ve seen since has been fenced off and seems to charge admission. (Admittedly, anything can be turned into a buck nowadays. ) Still, every time I drive past one I get that brief acquisitive surge. Oooh, I wonder what they’ve got.

(Note: I’m sure there are public safety issues involved in locking up junkyards, too. )

It is entirely possible to go to flea markets instead and find some interesting objects. But there, you have to pay for them. I’m certainly not adverse to paying for things. But that throws an element of judgment into the mixture; rather than simply gathering and then conceptualizing, one has to pre-conceptualize. In essence, you have to create the artwork first, then find stuff to fit. I find that a lot less fun.

See also, about how anything can be turned into a buck. That means that a number of things available at flea markets are far more expensive than they ought to be. Admit it–if you’ve ever gone to one, you think, Who would want to buy that? on many occasions.

Strange, now, to think back on my college days, and the one thing I am most nostalgic for is a junkyard.

Ghost Story

A while ago, I was browsing Henry’s Asylum and came across this entry. I thought to myself, Say, I have a kind of ghost story, I’ll leave it here in the comments. But then I further thought to myself, You know, I haven’t posted anything on my blog that’s been entertaining, interesting or even well-punctuated since, well, forever.So, I cast aside the fellowship of man and decided greedily to post my story here. Sorry about that, Henry; if you’ve popped by for something, this one’s for you.

So, I cast aside the fellowship of man and decided greedily to post my story here. Sorry about that, Henry; if you’ve popped by for something, this one’s for you.Some years back, in college, I was a member of the university choir, though you wouldn’t hardly believe it to look at me now. In early December, we embarked upon a tour of some cities in the South, mainly located in Georgia and South Carolina. At each spot, we sang various works in the local church, and we were then trundled off to stay the night at the homes of parishioners who had volunteered to host us.

When we reached Charleston, a group of us were selected to stay in one of the older homes near the church. We enjoyed a pleasant evening, chatting with our hosts, before it was time to go to bed. I was shown my room and bid goodnight, and I prepared to retire.

Many of the houses we stayed in throughout the trip were quite old, and the previous night, one of the girls told us she had stayed in a house reputed to be haunted, though she had no spectral encounters. My room this night was quite old as well, with solid wood floors and an old steam-heater near the winter. Of course, our dorm room in college also had a steam heater (two of them, in fact), and I knew that if it kept going all night, it would eventually remove all the moisture from the air, and I would wake up (at best) parched, at worst with a raw throat–not at all good for singing.

So, after preparing for bed, I turned the heater off, and settled under the covers. And then–

No sooner had I drawn the covers up, it began. A slow, scratching noise came from the wall, immediately above my head. It sounded like the long fingernails of a clawed hand, slowly and deliberately running their points over the wallpaper.

I, for my part, was petrified, in the literal sense of the word. I was too terrified to move, certain that any motion on my part would be instantly detected and my fate, decided. Only the darkness hid me from this creature.

I lay there under the covers, wondering what kind of fate that sinister hand was going to deal to me. I was not conscious of time passing, thought it seemed that the world had slowed to a crawl. I was resigned to staying awake, rigid, all night long rather than surrender to this phantom.

I have no idea how long I lay there, but it was long enough for despair to become my dominent emotion. I felt the hand of doom upon me, as surely as I thought I would soon feel the more material hand above my head upon me.

At length I could tolerate no more. Prepared to sell my life dearly against this invader from the shadows, I tossed the cover aside and turned to face my fate–

–and, now that the angle of my head was changed, I could clearly hear that the scractching was not coming from over the headboard, but from the radiator; that it was not the sound of scratching fingernails, but the sound of hissing steam dripping from the now-closed valve.

I have never felt relief as palpably as I did that night. Nor, for that matter, foolishness at my overzealous imagination. Needless to say, I did not make my experience a topic of discussion the next morning.

But I have never forgotten my visitor.