KEEPING THE COMPANY IN CHECK

Across New England, the spire on city hall typically had prominent clock. Its purpose, I’m told, wasn’t just civic pride.

No, it was to keep the mill owners in check, just in case they were tinkering with their own clocks to squeeze unpaid time out of their workers.

It’s comforting to know the town fathers could stand up to corporate powers. Most of the owners, by the way, lived far from these sources of their wealth. Many of them were Boston Brahmins clustered around Harvard.

In honor of the workers and those who stand up for them, Happy Labor Day.

Advertisements

TEN REASONS NOT TO WORRY ABOUT A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE COMING YOUR WAY

Do I really have to define this? To be honest, until recently about all I knew about the topic came from overhearing someone who’s truly terrified about it, but then you have to realize he’s terrified by everything, including his own shadow. A little research, though, casts the possibility in a much calmer light. For instance:

  1. It’s essentially a suburban phenomenon, should it erupt, starting at the malls. You don’t go there, do you?
  2. That also means it’s afraid to venture into the ghetto – and anything close to center city.
  3. It self-selects for Trump country, something like the plagues of Egypt. By the way, there’s no harm in sprinkling your doorposts with sheep’s blood, just in case. (You may want to keep some on hand.)
  4. It also heads straight for Walmart. Think of the cockroach hotel ads, “They go in but they don’t come out.”
  5. It runs in terror at the slightest whiff of high culture – paintings, fine literature, jazz, classical music, opera (especially) ward it off. Keep a good supply of Shakespeare quotes at the tip of your tongue. They’re better than any arcane spell you could cast.
  6. There’s some debate about whether it’s spread by infected people or by an airborne virus. Here’s a hint: It has no sense of humor – it’s completely defenseless against laughter. Or really bad jokes. (“You hear the one about two zombies go in a bar?”)
  7. As people? Traditional slow zombies will get in the way of the newer mutant fast zombies. They’ll start tripping over each other, which will lead to biting their rivals. New research indicates their blood types won’t match and that will be that. End of the show.
  8. Or consider traffic gridlock. Major highways and bridges stop moving at a given volume – and many zombies will expire right there. You really didn’t expect them to be walking anywhere, did you?
  9. And as a virus? Simple. Stockpile your vitamin C. And take it faithfully.
  10. They won’t want your home-canned green beans. Or any other greens, for that matter. It’s too quiet where I live. Zombies would be looking for live action. I’m more worried about garden slugs.

~*~

So what potential global catastrophes are keeping you up nights? And how would you advise coping?

 

African violets in a cozy window.

Of course, this is totally unrelated to the theme. Just another thing on my mind.

 

THE PERILS OF GETTING TRAPPED IN SUCCESS

Ever wonder where your life would have headed if you’d had the big breakthrough back then? Landed the job at the top? Been accepted at that Ivy League college or tony prep school? Married the seemingly perfectly glamorous spouse? (The one who got away, of course – or the one you only gaped at across the classroom with never more than a sentence at a time ever being exchanged?) Started your own business and thrived? Had the weed-free garden or the problem-free children?

I can look back on a life with a lot of near misses that way, or so I’d hope, but the reality is that is one advance that way would have precluded many, many down-to-earth life lessons.

Once past the early dreams of literary success, I’ve wondered what would have happened had one work or another taken off as a bestseller. More along that vein would have been expected, even demanded. And then? Where would the growth have occurred?

In my experience, the practice has been to keep exploring. Often it felt like looking for a crack in the wall, whatever the resistance was, but I kept probing.

Instead of continuing along that opening, had it happened, I’ve kept investigating a wider range and recording that. I could say it’s been exhausting as well as prolific.

Revisiting the notes and drafts and thoughts that underpin my newest release, Parallel Tracks of Yin and Yang, resurrects so much of that turmoil and openness.

For me, this volume is a celebration of the creative process, more than any “finished” product.

It’s an honest acknowledgement of so much that got away or might have been. Wish you’d had a chance to meet me back then.

~*~

For these stories and more, visit Thistle/Flinch editions.