The Landy Novella: Chapter 1

•July 16, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Unfinished SymphoniesIf you’re like me–and I shudder to think that you might be–you have lots of unfinished projects and people in your life nagging you about them. Sometimes timing is the issue. You, a well-known asthmatic, are just waiting for the magic moment when opportunity intersects enthusiasm to finish removing the twenty year accumulation of carcinogenic soot from the chimney.I have timing issues like that when it comes to completing most of my work–I mean the lawyering that I’m paid to do. Writing projects are different though. As any creative writer knows, I don’t write the stuff, it writes itself. So it’s not my fault.

Last year, for example, a Sci Fi short story manifested itself by means of my typing skills. It owed much to A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The muse refused to favor me with a credible ending so I printed the story, doused it with Scotch and torched it. In frustration, I deleted the computer file as well. Damn, what a fool I am. That was expensive Scotch.Rather than waste single malt, what to do with unfinished work? Easy. The Internet.

I hope you’ll do me the favor of reading the first chapter of my latest work in progress. I call it The Landy Novella but that’s just a working title.

I do plan to finish this one. All comments, including your critical ones, are welcome and appreciated. TD

Chapter 1

Landy was approaching the two lane bridge near the county line. She had driven at least 45 miles before she discovered that she hadn’t taken off her reading glasses after stopping to check the map. Landy was absent-minded that way. Before her realization, she had concluded that someone had repainted all the street signs in crisp black lettering. And that her hands were swollen.“Silly girl,” she said out loud, “things will be just fine so long as you don’t fall apart.” Try to unclench your toes and breathe, she told herself.

Her rigid arm jutted out the car window at the precise moment that the bridge’s mid-point was reached. Her fist opened and the syringe that it held floated gently on the breeze until it was sucked violently into the river that raged below. Now she could relax, if only a little.Just then Landy almost jumped out of her skin. It was her cell phone. Her heart racing, she picked it up and spoke. “Oh, Lynne it’s you. No, I’m fine. No, hon, I’m not coming in. Did you forget that today is the first day of my two week vacation? I swear your frontal lobe is starting to rival mine.”

Lynne was Landy’s friend of 20 years, her sometime travel companion, and a fellow librarian. The head librarian called them the “Bobbsey Twins” which, of course, frustrated persnickety Landy because the Bobbseys are two sets of fraternal twins.

Lynne was calling because Landy was late for work and that had never happened before. “Lynne, you’ll just have to get over your withdrawal pains and cope until I get back. I’m kidding. It’ll be just as hard on me. I’m out of my coverage range once I’m in New Mexico but I’ll drop you a postcard or two. Be good, doll.”

Landy pulled the battery from her phone and dropped it into her purse. She then threw the phone as hard as she could through the still open window. It landed somewhere in the foot tall weeds next to County Road 14. She had an immediate sense of regret for having discarded her phone. Doing that wasn’t in her plans. Rather than stop to retrieve it though, she stepped on her accelerator.

To be continued…


It’s my life

•July 15, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Hey, I’m new here.

If you’re reading this, chances are you lost a bet or you already know me. Or both.

I’ll tell you right up front that theory vs. experience will be a major theme in my writing. Just exactly what that means will become clear by the end of this post.

Since this is my initial post, I must first give you an intro to all things Tim. Sorry. Those are the rules. Whose rules you ask? Shut up. It’s my blog.

I am a lefty, except when it comes to batting or playing golf. I’m also a slightly off-kilter lawyer. Rare among the lawyering breed, I have some moral scruples and sensitivity. It’s also possible that I’m only saying that because the ladies like it.

Truly, I’m a romantic yet also logical, analytical & rational. I’m not all that politically correct. I keep it real, yo. I am also too old to credibly use terms like “yo” and “big pimpin’”. I want to experience and understand everything and everyone. I’m a little ADD. I could never live in some sparsely populated area. To be happy, I need to be around lots of expressive people with strong opinions. I should probably listen more. I need to talk–lots. I need to write–lots. It’s a mania. But I like it. To me, it is big pimpin’.

I’m generally pretty easygoing and non-judgmental. I live and let live. I don’t hold grudges. But, I do get worked up on a regular basis. You can’t live if your heart doesn’t beat and the more beats, the more life. I call it passion. I’m pretty passionate about most things.

If I think you’ve taken advantage of me or someone I know, for example, I have no qualms about bringing you to justice. I care about seeing that good people are treated with the fairness and dignity that all people deserve. You could characterize that “worked up” trait as the junkyard dog lawyer in me, I suppose. It’s not at all like the second coming of Gandhi or Mother Theresa. Rather, it’s belligerent and tenacious. On the other hand, I’ve had people remark on my sensitive, perhaps even naive, idealism. I don’t know. I guess that makes me a rabid idealist.

Like all idealists, my turn ons are long walks on the beach, newborn kittens and world peace. In that order.

Writing is another turn on. Kurt Vonnegut is one of the major reasons that I write and someone I’ll blog further about, no doubt. His was a unique, idealistic and unapologetic voice. He’d been through World War I and knew about harsh reality. May he rest in peace. And so it goes.

I love reading books like The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr. She’s now a poet and college professor in upstate New York, I believe. The book captures her personal experience–a dysfunctional childhood growing up in South Texas. It is at once funny and poignant. It reads like poetry. That’s the thing about unfiltered truth. It usually does.

I admire any author who can capture the truth of any moment. You know authenticity when you read it. It’s what poetry is about. The title “poet” garners little respect in modern day society. That’s unfortunate. I define poetry as any writing that is evocative of reality in a way that connects viscerally with the listener or reader. The truer the emotion, or the more intense, the better the poet. Rappers are probably among the best poets today.

Want to hear me rap about my unique worldview? No? Well here, then, are the three most important tenets of my worldview, written in boring prose.

1) You can get what you want if you help people get what they want. This applies to love, friendship & work. Even Van Wilder knew that “life is all about developing relationships.” BTW, return on your interpersonal investment will not be 100%. Don’t expect it to be.

2) Strive for effectiveness, not perfection. Demanding perfection in yourself and others is a dysfunctional trait. To my discredit, I am still a perfectionist about certain things. But when it comes to people and art, I learned long ago that imperfection is to be embraced and valued because it is truth. I have no use for airbrushed people. After all, it is the Mona Lisa’s imperfect smile that makes her beautiful.

3) The law is an ass. Mr. Dickens had it right when he penned Oliver Twist. To wit:

Mr. Brownlow: The law assumes that your wife acts under your direction.

Mr. Bumble: If the law supposes that, then the law is a ass, a idiot! If that’s the eye of the law, then the law is a bachelor. And the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience.

Did you catch that the law’s an ass is all about juxtaposing theory with experience?

There’s the rub. We’re talking about forcing the square peg of idealism into the round hole of reality.

It’s often a recipe for frustration.

It’s definitely a recipe for bloggin‘.

And it’s my life.

The Gentle Hand of Lady Bird

•July 11, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketI don’t care who you are or what your politics are–you’ve got to recognize that Lady Bird Johnson was a great and gracious lady.

Mrs. Johnson was a calm and steadying influence on her often moody and volatile husband as she quietly attended to the demands imposed by his career. Liz Carpenter, her press secretary during her years in the White House, once wrote that “if President Johnson was the long arm, Lady Bird Johnson’s was the gentle hand.”

She was devoted to her husband. Still yet she was true to herself.

God bless you Lady Bird. May you rest in peace.

It’s true what you heard

•June 21, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Yes, it’s true. I am eccentric. Make that weird. Here, by request, are ten weird, random things, facts, or habits about me. As if you needed more grist for your mill.

  1. I eat an entire jar of natural peanut butter every week.
  2. I’ll drink beer but I prefer vodka & tonic, a martini, or red wine. Jack & coke is good. Or single malt scotch–excellent! Rum drinks are tasty. Gin tastes like medicine but I like it.
  3. I am Irish.
  4. As a kid, our neighbor had a bulldog that would chase me back into my house whenever I came outside.
  5. We lived in the country when I was a kid and my dad decided to raise 4 pigs. They were constantly getting out of their pen and running all over the country side with my dad, me, and my sis chasing them. Crazy.
  6. Go to Jack-in-the-Box. Order a Jumbo Jack combo and two 99 cent tacos. Eat some burger, then some taco, then back to burger, etc. You will thank me.
  7. President Kennedy was more like a Republican than a Democrat by today’s standards. Kennedy is still one of my favorite presidents. Plus, Jackie O, what a stunner.
  8. When I was born, my parents got me a chihuahua named Rusty. He lived about 12 years. He barked at the pigs.
  9. I am left handed.
  10. I was terribly, terribly shy as a kid. I loved geography and was one of the few jr. high kids who did the reading. One day teacher called on literally 20 kids in class w/ same question & no one knew. Finally came to me & I nailed it. I was so embarrased. The kids started calling me Mrs. Evan’s boyfriend. I didn’t like it. This was way before female teachers had sex all the time with their students.

Super-size Me

•June 10, 2007 • Leave a Comment

I consider myself a middle-aged man. My friend, who I’ll call Doug to protect his privacy but whose actual name is Kevin, said that I am middle-aged in the same sense that December is the middle of the year. Doug (Kevin) is a person who thinks charming is a brand of toilet paper. After a half-day with him, even a nun would cuss. Regardless, his December line was a good one. But, I’m not blogging about D-Kev today.No, today I’m blogging yet again about my quirky eating practices. First, let’s just lay it on the line. I am a middle-aged man who has the eating habits of a college freshman away from home for the first time. Let’s take a walk through the last several days, shall we?Last Wednesday I took a look in my fridge just out of morbid curiosity. The shelves were stocked with a 2 quart container of milk, a bag of tortillas dating roughly from the late 60s, and a sticky yet almost completely full bottle of grenadine. In the vegetable crisper I found various unidentifiable fruit-like objects, all consistently black in color and mushy in texture. I thought of combining all of these items in a blender to make one kick-ass smoothie but decided that I would save that treat for a special occasion.

On Thursday night I had leftover fajitas from a restaurant that I frequent. Why the hell do restaurants think that a grand total of 3 tortillas will be enough with ¾ of a pound of meat and a plate full of sautéed onions and peppers? Luckily, I had plenty of tortillas in my well stocked fridge to solve this crisis. I pulled out the last five tortillas from the 1960s era bag and estimated that each of them would probably require 1 minute of heating in the microwave. I slapped all five in the microwave, set it on five minutes and plopped down in front of the TV to watch Sean Hannity rip a liberal a new one. That’s always good for a chuckle and I always walk up to the TV set afterwards and give Sean a virtual high five although he rarely reciprocates.Sean had the pencil-necked geek shrieking like a stuck pig so much so that I actually began to smell the singed pork. Or was that burnt tortillas? Yes, it was burnt tortillas. They were all black like fruit and instead of being mushy they were stiff as a board. They didn’t really smell like pork. Actually, and this is odd, they smelled exactly like burnt popcorn. But instead of being made out of corn, these tortillas were made out of flour. I contemplated that conundrum for awhile then I dropped all five fruit colored tortillas into the kitchen trash basket. Why the hell do restaurants think that a grand total of 3 tortillas will be enough with ¾ of a pound of meat and a plate full of sautéed onions and peppers?

Fast forward to tonight. I came home from the office and quickly noticed a loaf of bread and bottle of wine on the dining room table. My first reaction was to conclude that two lovers, soulmates but criminals nonetheless, had broken in and had a romantic rendezvous on my premises. No doubt they were probably still in the bedroom doing god knows what to defile my sheets. My second reaction was to consume half a loaf of bread (multi-grain, very tasty) and to drink three glasses of wine. I called it dinner. Roughly three hours later I ate half a container of large soft cookies from the bakery. I washed them down with two glasses of milk.

I see nothing wrong with any of my culinary habits. I like the way I eat. Yet do-gooder busybodies like nutritionists and moms would look askance at this type of thing. Why, I don’t know. Especially when it is unlikely that the nutritionists know what askance means anyway.Oh yes. I never did find those lovers/criminals but I did find a nice new pair of pants next to the bed and some fairly impractical ladies undergarments tossed about the room in a rather untidy arrangement. I figure that if I start eating right I’ll be able to fit into those garments by December. Or as I like to call it, mid-year.

A Few Weird Facts About Me

•May 27, 2007 • Leave a Comment

I claim to be off-kilter in my profile but don’t offer much proof. Among family members and old friends there’s no dispute on this topic, mind you. But for the rest of you—new blog friends and random internet predators—I thought I’d offer up a few benign weird facts about me.

  • My interest in government and politics started in early childhood. As a kid, I would watch congressional hearings on television for hours and hours. I now believe that was an early indicator of brain damage.
  • As a kid, I did not like fried foods.
  • As an adult, I get stuck on one particular food that I like. I will eat that food every day at lunch for up to six months at a time. At about six months or so, I tire of it and move on to another food fixation.
  • Any word for the body’s natural gastric release annoys me: fart, poot, etc. I’ve never used these words & won’t. Yet, I’ll say just about anything else.
  • I have an irrational hatred of cats. I’m not fond of turtles either.
  • When I first moved into my new place, I tried to avoid meeting the neighbors by tuning my TV to the Spanish channel and turning the volume way up. I hoped that my neighbors would conclude that I didn’t speak English and would leave me alone. It didn’t work. Damn Hispanic neighbors.

These are all true. In fact, they are just the tip of the iceberg and by no means the most weird. As I get more comfortable with you new friends and anonymous predators, I just might share some of the really good stuff.

In Memoriam: The Randomness of the Virginia Tech Tragedy

•April 21, 2007 • Leave a Comment

The mass shooting at Virginia Tech last week was senseless and horrific. There is nothing that can be said to explain it.A colleague of mine is the mother of a Virginia Tech student.

She speaks of hearing news reports of the unfolding drama last Monday and fearing for her son’s life. For hours she lived through her own personal hell as the telephone circuits were overloaded and she was unable to reach him.

Ultimately she got through, of course. To her great relief she learned that her son had been in his dorm at the time of the massacre working on a paper. He claims that he is fine. One wonders though if anyone at Virginia Tech that day is fine. Directly a victim or not, everyone on campus likely sustained some emotional scarring. The same applies to the parents and friends of victims and survivors.

My colleague flew to Blacksburg late last week to be with her son and to be among the thousands who gathered on Friday to honor the dead. Her description of the atmosphere at the school brings to mind the surreal suspended animation aspects of 911 and its aftermath. Shock. Somber reflection. The uneasy realization that anything can happen to anyone at any time, suddenly and without warning.

My faith tells me that things happen for a reason. Certainly it seems that more lessons are learned from tragedy than success. Attention is riveted for a time and we are forced to pause, to examine, and to value what we had formerly taken for granted. Virginia Tech illustrates the extreme consequences possible when mental illness and social alienation combine in rage. Perhaps, as a result of this tragedy, we will take new steps to be aware of, to protect ourselves from, and to help the mentally ill.

Even so, it is inescapably true that the random and the senseless are as much a part of the human experience as are order and reason. What the shooter did required a lot of planning and forethought. He wanted to be viewed as a martyr for a righteous cause and said he was dying as Jesus Christ did. No one short of deranged will see him that way. Nevertheless, within the framework of his own sick reality, he did meet his goal of garnering attention through death, destruction and disruption. He did it through his own willpower and effort. But he executed his will randomly.

In his manifesto, the shooter railed against the rich and the over-indulged. But, the victims were not necessarily either. They were from varied backgrounds and they were in class doing what they were supposed to be doing. On Monday, they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. There was no rhyme or reason.

After the tragedy the shooter’s family said, “he has made the world weep. We are living a nightmare.”

Randomness. Not just here but in all tragedy and in life in general. Reason, as a concept, does not exist without chaos. Light cannot be distinguished without darkness. Humanity is characterized by reason. Yet it is our fate to deal with the random.

My heart goes out to all the victims of the randomness. The 32 dead. Those surviving. Families. Friends. The family of the shooter, themselves victims.

The mass shooting at Virginia Tech last week was senseless and horrific. There is nothing that can be said to explain it.