Sunday, April 6, 2008

Random Stuff at Night

3:04 A.M.

Should be in bed. Instead, I'm sitting in the dark. The only light, the glow of my MacBook screen illuminating me and the room. Harsh, cold, bright light. Nothing warm about it.

Rain falls softly and intermittently. I like the sound it makes on the glass, but am grateful it's gentle so I don't have to worry about the leaky window that needs fixing, has needed fixing since we moved in.

In the distance, a train blows its horn. Long blasts. A warning. At this time of night, who's foolish enough to be on a train bed or near a train? I can hear it approaching now. The tracks run through Fort Totten, along Blair Road, through Takoma Park, into Silver Spring, on to Kensington, and from there I lose track. (No pun intended.)

The sound of trains is comforting to me. It brings back happy memories of childhood. Growing up in Provo, Utah, and listening to the trains switch in the yard a mile or so from our home. Visiting California and watching the trains run through Gram's and Gramp's backyard. Driving to Wyoming to visit my other grandparents and watching the miles-long trains carrying freight up the geologically diverse grades pulled by the bright yellow engines of the Union Pacific RR. The sight of my cousin engineering the Heber Creeper.

Ironically, though, if I have to travel to New York on business, I fly. For me, it's just easier. And yet, traveling by train has its advantages. When I lived in Austria, I traveled a lot by train and loved it! The large, picture windows allow views of sweeping valleys and soaring alpine ranges; winding, commerce-laden barges ply rivers protected by decaying castles and fortresses that bespeak an earlier, often romanticized time in history.

The rumble of a train is as soothing to me as the sound of the ocean...


I spend too much time blogging. Actually, a more accurate statement would be, I have too many blogs.

There's this one. And my photography one. And the family reunion blog. And one I'm starting for my resume writing services. And a couple here or there that I dabble in privately.

Too many blogs.

Fortunately, Blogger/Google has finally seen the light and entered the modern era by adding scheduled publishing to their blog features. Alleluia and it's about friggin' time!

Speaking of blogging, though, I've been a slacker when it comes to commenting. I read somewhere recently that if you want more traffic on your blog, you need to read TONS of blogs and leave comments all over the place.

Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to have 30, 40, 50, 75, 100 comments per entry. Heady, for sure. But then I realize, I'm happy with what I have. It is more than enough. Especially lately, as I've been so lousy about reading and commenting on the few blogs I do read. It's not that I'm not interested, per se. It's that I already spend too much time parked in front of my computer and I feel like life is passing me by.

And yet...


I finally made in-roads with the Dirty Bastard Cat while Bee was in California over Easter. Seems he had to like me because I was the one feeding him and scooping out his litter box (nasty contraptions, those. Foul things.) He and I finally achieved a rapprochement I had only previously dreamed.

Well, I blew it all in fell swoop the other night.

Seems the DBC didn't like being sequestered in the basement family room while we had guests over and he decided to take it out on the DVD collection that lines the stairs. When I caught up with him, he was at the top of the stairs, pushing DVDs off the shelf and watching them tumble down, down, down. My Mel Brooks collection was ignominiously strewn about, as was American Beauty, March of the Penguins, and several other movies too numerous to recall.

In a huff, I picked up the DVDs and marched up the stairs, where I proceeded to scold the little shithead. He growled at me. I swung a DVD in his direction to warn him off. He zigged as I zagged and the DVD caught him full on in the face.

Now we're back at square one where he hisses and spits at me.

Dirty bastard cat.


3:25 A.M.

Still raining.

Another train rolls through the neighborhood.

It's Sunday everywhere but where it isn't. Back in Honolulu, it's still Saturday. In Tonga, it's going to be Monday soon. I think. Damn Greenwich. Damn International Date Line.

When my sister lived in Hong Kong, I was living in California. I use to have arguments with my family about who was closer to her in terms of time. They lived in Virginia. Geographically, I was closer, but when it came to the hands on the clock moving in their circumference, my family was closer. My sister finally had to settle the argument during her annual Christmas call. "Jay is further away," was the answer.

Personally, I think we should be like the Chinese and abolish time zones. But where's the fun in that, right? Or maybe that is the fun. I forget.

Really, we should abolish daylight saving time, but I won't go there. Apparently, I have a propensity for ranting about that every year like clockwork. I hate to be predictable.


And speaking of clockwork, it's now 3:46 A.M. and I have no clue what the point of this is, but I know my friend Di will like it because it's me, randomly streaming my conscious.

That's about all I have lately. Random streaming. I'm like a pointless, awful Carpenter's song trying to make contact with space aliens who are trying to make contact with interplanetary earth and I still have no clue why.

I turn 40 in a few weeks and I'm not happy about that.

I miss 30. I liked 30. It was a great age. Oh, I know, I know. I can't wish for the past. But if I could go back, well...

Anyone who tells you they wouldn't do anything differently if they could go back in time is a liar and full of shit. Plain and simple. I don't care who you are or what your life experience has been...

I think I'm going to stop there, because I feel a full-on snark coming and I'd rather not. If I start now, I'll never get any sleep.


3:51 A.M.

I hear the distant rumble of another train. Or maybe I just think I do as my thoughts are carried away and rumble into the recesses of a mind touched by experience, left a little wiser, perhaps even a little sadder.


Cele said...

Tewkes, embrace 40 with lust and joy, because honestly 40 was great.

And as for the DCB, I like the edict of the Richard the III myself. But don't tell B that.

Trains always make me think of the song Barges.

Phoenix Touch said...

HOLY SHIT, Jay! WOW! I love this post. I totally went with you the whole way and felt the random flowingness of it. I appreciated it mostly because it felt like my own mind talking to me.

Love you!
Abgue :)

Anonymous said...

Train sounds make me nostalgic too. I heard them in Provo at night, and in SLC at night, and in Salina at night. They were always comforting sounds no matter how old I was when I heard them.

- phoebe

Lucy said...

What is it about a train in the night?? I am so comforted when I hear them. I love it. Flagstaff is the train kingdom with trains in and out all day and night long. I love them. And most especially at night. And sometimes when the wind is right, I can hear the one train in Mesa in the middle of the night. All is well.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Cele: I'll take your word for it, but I'm still not looking forward to 40.

Abgue: My mind can be wonky a lot lately! ;-)

Phoebe: I think I'd like to be a hobo for a while...

Lucy: Trains at night are the best. There's something haunting about the sound, but in a good way. I think trains imply adventure, beauty, and the unknown more than any other transportation medium.

nancypearlwannabe said...

I can tell you one thing, my posts would be nowhere near as coherent and well-written as yours if I was up at 3:00 a.m.

Anonymous said...

Tewkes: "I've been so lousy about reading and commenting on the few blogs I do read. It's not that I'm not interested, per se. It's that I already spend too much time parked in front of my computer and I feel like life is passing me by."

I just want to challenge the notion that blogging and interacting online are orthogonal and/or taking away from [real] life. I think they are a vital part of it for those who love it.

Simplify, though -- you can kill all but two blogs, and you know the two I want to keep. ;-)

I love Cele the most...but I think 40 SUCKS. I'm hoping, frankly, that maybe 42 will be okay. Shee-it.

Love the stream of consciousness, though - LOVE it. :-)

- Di

Phoenix Touch said...

Now, Di! I am stompin' my foot because I want Tewkesy to keep reading MY blog too, so do ya think you could be kind enough to up the number to three? Pretty please?!

Jess said...

Scheduled publishing! Really? OMG that is SO EXCITING. I am off to check it out right now!

Also, this post is beautiful.

Phoenix Touch said...

ps... would someone clue me in on the benefits of scheduled publishing??? I seem to be... um... missing out on the importance of this announcement!

(And my Good Student girl is all up in arms about missing the important info. Someone please help...)

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Nancy: I wish I wasn't that coherent at 3:00 AM. I'd like to get paid for being, though.

Di: I love it, but I do need to cut back a bit. I think scheduled posting will save me from a life of blogging servitude, which is sort of how it's starting to feel at the moment. And yes, I know which two you'd like me to keep posting at, but I really enjoy the photography one as a creative outlet...

Abgue: I think Di meant I should trim the blogs I blog on, not the blogs I read and comment at, down to two. I have this one, and D.C. Confidential, several others, plus one I help my mom with for her upcoming family reunion, as well as weekly updating Two Things Challenge--another photography blog. See? Too many.

Jess: Yes! When you go to your Blogger Dashboard, scroll down to The Latest from Blogger Buzz and read about their draft test of scheduled blogging. I've already used it and it works!

Or, go here:

Abgue, Too: Scheduled blogging allows you to write the blog entry/entries days or weeks in advance, then set the date and time you want the blog to post, hit "Publish" and it will schedule the entry to post on the date you indicated. This frees you up from having to save completed entries as drafts and then go back and post them later.

For example, on Friday morning, I wrote my Sunday blog post for D.C. Confidential. I always post my Two Things Challenge on Sundays. I wrote the post, then dated it 04/06/08 with a timestamp of 8:15 AM. On Saturday night, I went to bed and slept until 11:00 the next morning. While I was sleeping, Blogger automatically posted my blog entry at 8:15 AM.

It's a really slick feature and one that services like WordPress, etc., have had for a long time.

That's scheduled blogging!