The Life in My Years

An anthology of life

“There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” Everything has a price.
I’m not giving away anything really tangible here.
The “free” in the title of this piece refers to “free-flowing.” Random thoughts; aimless; catch as catch can; spitballing. Even remnants o’stuff that never made it into posts.
But bear in mind that everything has a cost. In this case the cost is your time. I hope that it’s time well spent.

Free time says the title. That can have different meanings. There’s the good notion; the unallocated block to do whatever you want.

And then there’s the other notion of free time; that it has no cost. This is a canard. The cost of time is time and there’s really nothing more valuable. Take it from an aging guy who’s got less time on the horizon than in the rearview mirror.

This of course mostly puts the lie to the old saying, “Time is money.” Money is pieces of paper with pictures of famous dead people. You can usually get those pictures back. Time is irreplaceable.

Time. Time was the topic of the week in the domestic circle.

Time was of the essence this week. My grandson Jackson turned eleven and my daughter was going through the time honored parental, “Where did the time go?” angst.

Jackson’s birthday dinner of choice was Buffalo Wild Wings. I’d never had those particular wings before and I have to say that they were pretty darn good. Between bites and wiping sauce off my beard I teased my daughter about the milestones and times to come.

Middle school and high school.

She groaned over first dates and prom. I laughed about the driver’s license. More groaning over high school graduation and a long sigh over going away to college.

“Before you know, it’s going to be grandma Jess!”

Although it’s reality, in the end it’s no joke when you’re going through it.  When we dropped Jessica off at college in San Diego I cried almost all the way through the 500 mile drive home. When our dog Rainey was getting old and I realized that her time was shortening I went through some deep depression.

For me it’s not so much the speed of the passing time but the question of “where did it all go?” And there’s a difference.

When Jack was born I was out of work, a victim of the Bush recession. Everyone else had a job to go to so I was the designated babysitter. On nice days I took Jack and Rainey to a local coffee joint and we enjoyed the sun. He was a good baby. While I had my coffee and read a book, he just quietly did his baby stuff (I’d say he did his baby shit but that has an entire meaning unto itself that requires a change). There was another semi-regular; a young mom who brought her baby. On the times that she was there we would talk while we sat in the warm sun.  Good times.

I wasn’t making a thin dime during that time but that time was so much more valuable than any amount of money. Of the four grandchildren I’m closest to Jackson. Maybe that’s not the acceptable thing to say but it is the truth. I don’t love the other three any less, but I feel a special bond with Jackson.

I sometimes think about the time I’ll have with Jackson. Will I see the milestones that Jessica both dreads and, yes, looks forward to? I would like to have as much time as possible to help him or to impart my old guy wisdom on him; a pretty damned presumptuous notion in itself isn’t it.

Time passage was driven firmly home when Jackson stood next to Cora last night and we noticed that he’s a good three inches taller. When did that happen?

Below Left: One of my favorite photos. We were at a fundraiser and I spent a good portion of the event carrying Jackson, actually refusing to give him over to someone. He finally fell asleep and I spent the rest of the time in that chair. Center: YMCA basketball 2018. Right: Autumn 2020.

Jessica gets particularly pouty when she looks at photos. “They’re growing so fast.”

It’s times like that when I want to admonish her about the time she spends with work. There are times when she works well into the evening. That’s the American workplace though. It doesn’t value your time but for the time that it can squeeze out of you. It doesn’t just want your time, it demands – strongly demands – your time. And if you don’t comply your employer will employ the time it takes to find someone else to employ who will be very accepting of the unreasonable time demand.

I remember the times when I would get emails from coworkers that were time stamped 2 A.M. Who does that? More importantly, why should anybody be made to feel compelled to do that?

I remember being both amused and turned off by supervisors who would say, “You need to take vacation time. Time for yourself so that you can recharge your batteries.”
And so you put in your request for vacation time and you get rewarded with some “how dare you ask for time off” attitude.
And then they want you to take your computer with you and be available to take phone calls. My response was an adamant, “fuck that.”
That was basically the time when I realized that retirement, getting out of that environment was the best decision.

Jessica likes her work and that’s not a bad thing. But I dislike her work because it takes up so much of her time.

I’ve always followed the gospel of my dad, “I work to live, I don’t live to work.”

Time. It’s taken a hell of a long time to get my bike tuned up. I took it to a local shop on December 17th. The bike shop minion told me that I probably wouldn’t get it before Christmas and I was understanding about that. I responded that it wouldn’t be a problem. In the days before Christmas, bike shops are busy putting together all those Christmas bikes. Add to that, the fact that the times of COVID have infused cycling with a new popularity.

I gave the shop a call after New Year’s Day and checked in.
“We haven’t been able to get to it. We should be able to give you an estimate tomorrow.”

A lot of tomorrows passed and I checked in again and they gave me the same story.

Mid-January came and I went to the shop to pick up my untouched bike, telling the bike shop minion that they’d had my bike for a month and I was going to take it to another shop. The bike shop minion gave me my bike and a dose of attitude.

In this case that old saying, “Time is money,” took on some relevance. They took too much time and didn’t get any money. It might have cost them more money if I were a Yelp whiner (which I’m not) and I’d taken the time to write a scathing review about the time they took to do nothing with my bike – along with the attitude.

Two weeks ago I took the bike to a shop in nearby Martinez, telling the owner that I wasn’t in a giant hurry to get the bike. Words I should have eaten.

I still don’t have my bike. The new bike shop minion asked for more time. I’ve given him until Tuesday at which time I’ll, well, probably give him more time if he needs it. If I take it to shop number three then I’m just starting the clock all over again and at some point in time bike shop minion number three will probably ask me for more time. And anyway I don’t have time to shop for another shop.

Marjorie Taylor Greene. I’m not going to waste a lot of time on our little Margie. She’s frankly taken up more time than she’s worth and she’s wasted a lot of valuable time.

You see at some point in her recent past she wasted time reading bullshit on the internet and wasted more time convincing herself that the bullshit she was wasting time on was really truth.

Then she wasted more time spreading that manure and then she decided to run for Congress. The latter of the two is her right, and is an admirable calling, but the former, wasting time on spreading BS, led to more wasted time.

And then because she wasted her time reading, believing and spreading bullshit, the process of dealing with the repercussions of  her waste of time took up the time of the entire Congress; time that could have been better spent on something like, oh, COVID relief comes to mind.

That’s because yesterday MTG got stripped of her congressional committee assignments largely as a result of all of the wasted time she spent reading and believing and spreading bullshit.  She wasted so – much – time.

And so without a committee, MTG is almost nothing in Congress; more or less a voiceless observer who gets to vote. Committees spend time giving birth to legislation and then work to forward that legislation or to give it the coup de grace. Committee members speak for and against their bills both in committee and on the floor. As a result of getting stripped of her assignments MTG has given her district almost zero voice in Congress.

She wasted the time of all of those people who campaigned for her. She wasted the time of those who took the time to consider whether or not to vote for her and wasted the time of those who did vote for her. She wasted their votes as well.

And then on her very first day on the job she wasted Congress’ time by introducing Articles of Impeachment against Joe Biden on his first full day on the job.
What a waste.

Since you’ve hung with me for all this time, here’s more free stuff. Another music find. (Understand though that my dearth of contemporary music knowledge means that most people have found my find long before I found it).

With all the talk about Bob Dylan that I’ve had with another blogger I took the time to listen to some new (for me) country/folk music.

Justin Townes Earle was an American country/folk singer. While listening to and enjoying this young talent, my time taken in doing some research on him led me to find out that Justin Townes Earle died last December from an accidental overdose of fentanyl-laced cocaine. He was 38. He died before his time.

His father, Steve Earle also a country/folk singer, gave Justin the middle name of Townes in honor of songwriter Townes van Zandt. Van Zandt wrote one of my favorite songs; one that was brilliantly covered by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.

Emmylou Harris covered it as well but after listening to it a couple of times it sounded to me like she was just wailing.

Finally, while it may come off as a sort of joke when I say that your cost in reading this is your time, I do appreciate your spending that time. Particularly if you’ve made it this far. You don’t get the time back, even if it’s only a few minutes. I hope that my pieces touch something; a funny bone, a heart, a soul or even a nerve. That’s time well spent for both of us. And if you’ve taken more time to comment – well, that’s sweet icing on the cake.

6 thoughts on “Fabulous Friday Free Stuff: Time – Free, Passed and Wasted; Kids; Justin Earle Townes and, Last and Least – Marjorie.

  1. eden baylee says:

    Thanks for the freebies, Paul.

    Beautiful pictures of your grandson. I hope your family had a wonderful celebration.

    Maybe this piece about time has you in a melancholic mood. You end it with such a softhearted request, which really isn’t a request, but how can anyone refuse? Time on your blog has been time well spent for me, each and every time.

    Have a great weekend,

    1. Paulie says:

      We started the day with me buying donuts for breakfast-usually a big no no.
      Jessica took the kids horseback riding for the afternoon.
      Jackson is a great kid with a great sense of humor.
      I call him youngun and he calls me olden.
      Thanks so much for reading and commenting.
      A good weekend to you too.

  2. Scott Blake says:

    Every parent to be hears that comment about how the kids grow up so fast. It doesn’t strike home until you have kids and realize it to be the truth. When my kids turned 30, I asked them “How did I get old enough to have kids who are 30?” What you wrote about some people seemingly enslaved to their jobs 24/7 is sad but true. Unless it is a necessity to do otherwise, I’ve always felt that I should give 100% of my effort while at work and then be able to put it aside until the next work day. Jess and others in her situation now have to do what they do because they work remotely. One problem with that is that your home becomes your workplace and it is difficult to differentiate your time spent working vs. not working.

    The story of your bike reminds me of the old joke about the guy who is cleaning out his parents’ attic and finds a dry cleaning ticket from decades ago. For a laugh he takes the ticket to the cleaners and presents it. The owner is amazed because it is so old. He disappears in the back of the shop to search for the item. He returns and tells the guy “I found it, it will be ready on Friday”.

    Greene is not just a waste of time, she is a waste of space on this planet.

    Justin Townes Earle, I became familiar with him because of his dad and the strong connection to Townes Van Zandt. My picks for best American songwriters of the past 60 years are Dylan, Townes, Guy Clark, and Terry Allen. I saw Justin perform once, he was at HSB and played at the charming little Porch Stage. Sad that he died so young and that the death involved Fentanyl. That stuff is seriously dangerous. Unfortunately his young life had been full of drug abuse problems.

    1. Paulie says:

      A holdover from the Bush recession and Obama stimulus. Companies started running lean during the Bush recession and then found that they could make do by loading up the staff with more work, even when business bounced back.
      Many then used stimulus money to buy back stocks and inflate their value.
      MTG is starting to look like the face of the GOP and that doesn’t portend well. That party needs to decide what it’s going to be.

  3. johnlmalone says:

    two good tracks; you gotta check out Harlem River Blues !

    1. Paulie says:

      Just listened to the whole album. Excellent. Thanks for pointing to it!

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