Thoughts in the night

TWO DECADES AGO when my mother was about 80, I asked her what entered her mind at night during those moments when she was awake, those intervals we all have.

I was curious about what old people with lots of history thought in the dark night.

New ImageIf we’re worrying about something before going to bed, that’s what we’ll be focusing on, of course, but at times we awake when there’s nothing worrisome in our lives. Usually, we slip back into our dreams easily, but not always.

I forgot what my mother told me, but I recall it was nothing notable. I thought she’d be remembering the Great Depression or the time she eloped at midday with my father in Athens, but she didn’t mention anything like that. I would have remembered.

Well, now that I’m pretty old myself, I know what old people think, at least what I think. I have a few set skits for those moments. I think, for instance, of a photo of me standing on Cesery Boulevard in Arlington, Florida, posing with a baseball bat as if someone were pitching a hardball at me. I was about 9. I have lost that photo.

But it lives in my mind.

I sometimes think of my very small bedroom in that Cesery Boulevard home, the twin bed, and getting up mornings, stepping across the narrow hallway, and opening the folding canvas door into the kitchen where my mother would be smoking a cigarette. Maybe she’d just downed a Miltown to get her through another day.

What I have thought of more frequently than anything the past 25 years is the moment my last wife told me she was leaving. I was standing in her office door in our Houston home one evening, and she was sitting on the floor going through files.

She mentioned fairly casually that she had found an apartment in Montrose and was moving out. She was shockingly nonchalant. She didn’t even look at me.

Since we had never discussed the possibility of divorce, this was like a meteor. I remember the moment in detail a quarter of a century later. And here is the strange part. Conjuring up that memory during an insomniac spell almost instantly returns me to sleep.

You would think it would be precisely the opposite.

But I’ve just recently noticed that I’m not using that memory anymore as a substitute sleeping pill. The 25-year-old habit has died. I do still think of the kid with the baseball bat, and mornings walking from my small bedroom into the little kitchen and seeing my mother, but not the moment my wife announced she’d had her fill of me.

A single Tylenol will also send me to dreamland, but where’s the drama in that?

Running out of steam?

YESTERDAY, A READER from Tennessee emailed to ask if all was well on my end. The reason being that over a week has passed with nothing new under the Moon.

I rarely remain silent so long, but maybe I will in the future. Am I running out of steam? Perhaps. The older you get, the less steam you generate.

I began this writing effort 15 years ago come January. I started on the Blogger website with a different title. I believe the first post was about a lunch here at home with company, the guests being the inimitable Al Kinnison and his wife, Jean.

(Both of whom are now deceased. They were witnesses at our 2002 wedding. R.I.P.)

Al read it later and told me he liked it. That inspired me, so I soldiered on, mostly writing about my relatively new life in a startlingly different world. Often I waxed lyrical, and people praised it. The list of followers grew, and it was fun.

I permanently pasted some reader feedback on the side column of that blog. Here are just a few examples:

Infectiously personal.

You never cease to amuse and amaze me.

Pretentious dolt!

What a nice piece of heaven you share.

You’re like a drunk uncle.

You’re a right-wing wacko.

You are a treasure on the electron highway.

Dark introspection.

You are so funny. I was snorting in my atole reading this.

You disgust me. (a paraphrase)

Later, I abandoned Blogger and switched to WordPress, a far better platform, as it’s called. And by 2011, I had wearied of writing about “Life in Mexico,” which had become routine. The novelty was gone. Anyway, many Gringos here were writing about “Life in Mexico.”

They had that base covered well. One good example is Steve Cotton’s blog where he never seems to weary of writing about Mexico. I admire his stamina.

I tossed my first blog aside and started fresh with the intention of writing not about Mexico but other stuff. Enter The Unseen Moon, a title that came to me out of nowhere in the process of writing The Old Wolf. The phrase was in the final line.

Speaking of The Old Wolf, I began writing short fiction, which I’d never done before. Prior to 2005, with the birth of the first blog, in spite of being in the newspaper business for 30 years, I had never written anything but headlines and photo captions.

I was an editor, not a writer.

Most of the brief fiction is available hereabouts via links. I also jumped into politics, the good sort, the conservative kind. Leftists, being the rabid bunch they are, reacted as they do, and I had to block quite a few commenters due to rudeness and curses.

My WordPress list of blocked people is laughably long, all because of ill breeding. Sad.

So, here we are almost 15 years after the start. We’ve gone from the novelty of living in Mexico to fiction to politics, and at times it’s all combined. And I have aged. Fifteen years ago my hair was as much black as white. Now it’s all white, and I’m creaky, sometimes cranky.

Am I running out of steam? Perhaps. But not today, it seems.

See you down the line, but Lord knows when.

Do not go gentle into that good night. 

— Dylan Thomas

But why not, Dylan? One wonders.

The feel of fall

TWICE IN THE past week, I’ve noticed a feel of fall, which is odd because it’s cool here most of the time. But this feel was different. It felt like fall, which is still more than a week away.

fallDuring the 15-plus years I lived in Houston, the arrival of fall was a huge deal because summer was such a misery, weather-wise. The arrival of fall here is less notable, but it’s sweet to feel it anyway. At times, some of our leaves actually change color. Not spectacularly like they do in Atlanta, but it’s a nice touch.

In Houston, the arrival of autumn almost invariably happened on the 21st to 23rd of September, a very narrow time span. I defined the debut of fall, officially or not, as the arrival of the first front that dropped the temp to 59 or less.

It did not matter if the temperature rose above 60 later in the day or even to 70, the mere fact that it hit the 50s at dawn was good enough for me. It was exhilarating.

Autumn of the year takes on an additional significance for those in the fall of their lives, and even more so for those of us in chill winter with snow-white heads.

Time moves on and, with luck, we’re still around in springtime.

There’s no guarantee.

The crack of dawn

YEARS AGO I would get out of bed between 5 and 6 a.m. Often I would have thought of something to write here on The Moon. But even if I didn’t, I would wake up early.

It’s said that you require less sleep as you age, 5 hours or so instead of 7 or 8. I was living the stereotype. But that changed a few months ago, and now I sleep in till 7 a.m. I don’t know why. The Savings Time switch didn’t help matters. I don’t want to rise in the dark.

It’s getting dimly light by 7. If I wake before then, say 6:30, I just lie there and listen to the sounds. Dogs, chickens, birds, the occasional burro.

They all wake with me, my morning amigos.

One thing I do not listen to is my child bride who makes absolutely no sound whatsoever while she sleeps. It’s quite strange, like I’m lying beside a corpse.

Since it’s May, the bedroom window is wide open. When we hit the hay around 10:30, it’s stuffy, so I turn on the tower fan, which is a very nice fan. It’s got a timer, and turns off around 2 a.m., which is when the atmosphere changes, starts to get cooler.

We first encountered a tower fan in a hotel eight or more years ago in Valle del Bravo where we overnighted during a detour driving to Mexico City. It’s a popular getaway spot for Mexico City residents. We’d never been there. We left the next day unimpressed.

The best thing we took away from Valle del Bravo was the memory of that tower fan. We finally bought one a year ago.

The view through our bedroom window is lovely at dawn, the plants and shadows combined with the animal sounds get the day off to a great start. And, of course, waking to a new day is desirable at my age, not guaranteed.

While my child bride sleeps like a corpse next to me, I don’t want her to have a real one next to her on any morning, but that will happen one day, I suppose.

But it did not happen today.

Instead of a corpse, she’ll have a croissant. And so will I.