Sunday, April 27, 2014

The end is NEAR(ish)

Well, hello there!

Welcome to the latest update of "Saturday" the book.  We're on page 27 this time around.  It's getting into early evening in the world of India McGreevy.  There's a terrific kind of light that can happen around this time of day (depending on weather conditions).  It almost seems to have its own kind of built-in nostalgia, though I can't really put my finger on why it feels that way to me.

Could be that I have more memories associated with this time of day.  Or maybe it's just that I'm more prone to reflection in the late afternoon/early evening.  There's a kind of stillness that seems to encourage reflection.

Also, I'm usually starting to get tired at this point in the day, which means I have less energy to corral my brain.  Having my brain is kind of like walking a big dog.  Which is not to say that I'm smart, only that my brain is sometimes difficult to control.  And when I get tired, my brain can yank the leash out of my hand and run down memory lane.  And the only thing I can do is sigh, shamble after and hope that my brain hasn't rolled in anything by the time I catch up to it.

It just so happens that I'm writing this at precisely this time of day.  My brain dog has managed to get away yet again and I've been thinking about all the time that's gone by.  I've been working on this book for the better part of six or seven years.  And now, 34 pages later, I'm pretty close to being finished.

It's been a lot of work and an intense amount of fun.  Thank you for coming along for the ride.  I'm sure at times it's felt like you were in the back of some jalopy with me at the wheel and you've wondered, "Does this dude actually know where he's going?"  The answer is, "Um...for the most part, yes."

But I can look back at every panel on every page and realize that the drive itself has been all sorts of fun.  I've never been bored.  I've never been impatient to finish ("Yeah, we knew that already," I can hear you say).  I don't know what happens when I'm finally finished.  But that's coming up soon.  I know I'll get this book to you, by hook or by crook.  I know I'll hold my breath while people read it and hope it was worth the sore butt, tingly legs, bad music on the radio, and long stretches where there wasn't much to look at out the window.

Well, I have my dog back on the leash, so...thanks again.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Unbearable Lightness of Tow Truck Driving

Good morning (or whenever you happen to be reading this).

It's time for another glimpse into the world of "Saturday" the book.  In this episode, we're on page 26.  It's getting to be late afternoon (probably somewhere around 4:00, but it's always a little hard to tell what time it is on Saturday).  India's had a fairly run of the mill day: finding a dog named Porkchop, meeting a traveling circus, falling into a storm drain, etc.  Just usual weekendy stuff.

And now India's headed back in the direction of home, though there will probably be another odd detour before she gets there:

This looks like kind of a lonely panel.  India's shadow in the fading afternoon light is long and solitary.  The day is coming to an end, which has its own kind of built in melancholy if you love Saturdays.  And India is by herself again (Porkchop notwithstanding), with the empty sidewalk stretching out in front of her.

One of the leitmotifs of this book is how lonely it feels to be stuck.  Have you ever had your car break down on the side of the highway?  You didn't feel alone moments before when you were driving faster miles an hour.  But now that you're standing next to your gasping chariot, it feels like you're stranded on a desert island.  The cars flash by (you don't realize how fast they're going until you're not) and suddenly it occurs to you that every single one of those cars is driven by a stranger.

Years ago, I was driving with a friend when my car broke down on the side of the highway.  One half of the drive shaft literally fell off and started dragging on the asphalt.  It was just starting to get dark and we were a ways from home.  There were no houses or businesses anywhere nearby.  We stood by the car, not sure what to do (this was before cell phones and we had both forgotten our telegraphs that day).  I started to worry that we'd have to walk for miles along the highway in the dark to find help.  But, as luck would have it, a police officer stopped and radioed for a tow truck driver.  The police officer drove away, assuming the tow truck driver would show.

We waited.  The wait for help to arrive seems infinitely longer than any other kind of waiting.

It was now fully dark and I wondered if the tow truck would ever show.  And then, on the horizon, our tow truck appeared.  Home and safety suddenly felt much, much closer.  The truck pulled up next to us and out stepped Jerry, a big fat guy who immediately started yelling at the passing cars.  Cars whose drivers could not possibly hear him, as they were going 60 mph.  Home, which had been several miles away, was starting to feel further away than ever.  We exchanged a few pleasantries with Jerry about the upcoming polo season, Milan Kundera, and the rather disappointing wines that year.  By which I mean Jerry told a couple of absolute strangers how much he hated his job and his dispatch.

With that, Jerry bent to his work.  In doing so, he exposed his crack like a cartoon plumber.  My friend immediately produced a pencil and held it above Jerry, pantomiming the infamous pencil drop joke.  Being fluent in pantomime, I gestured back that this guy was our ride back to civilization and we probably shouldn't alienate him.

Our car hooked up, we all climbed into the cab of Jerry's truck for some paperwork and olfactory adventure.  Jerry popped a little soothing Megadeath into the cassette player of his dash while we filled out some forms.  After a little more career advice ("Don't ever be a tow truck driver; it's such a pain in the @$$."), Jerry kicked us out of the cab and drove away.

And we walked back home along the highway in the dark.

Help doesn't always come in the form you expect or even the form you want.  But it's usually not as far away as you think.  So the next time you're stuck somewhere or somehow and feeling small and isolated, just remember that the universe has already radioed in and Jerry is on his way.

Also, in case you were wondering, I took Jerry's advice and decided not to become a tow truck driver (so far).  So it's kind of like Jerry helped me out twice.

Thanks, Jerry.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Best Vice


Welcome to this week's update of "Saturday" the book.  If you're just joining us, "Saturday" is a book about a creative little girl named India McGreevy, her parents (Fred and Elizabeth), and the rotten week in which they've all been stuck for what feels like forever.

Fortunately, it's now Saturday afternoon in the book.  The previous week is now no more than an unpleasant memory and a bad taste in everyone's mouth.  Basically the way you would feel if you'd just eaten at a Skippers.  But things are starting to look up a bit.  India has been wandering around her neighborhood, where it turns out there are some interesting people:

Of course, not everything is la vie en rose.  India in particular is still feeling some lingering spiritual indigestion from her week at Skippers.  A problem that takes a week to create is rarely solved by a couple of hours' worth of walking around talking to weirdos and strangers.

On the bright side, some of those strangers have been pretty helpful, offering advice and whatnot.  They say that the worst vice is advice, but I disagree completely.  If someone has already been through what you're going through now, why wouldn't you listen to what they have to say?

I've received sage advice from complete strangers on a number of occasions.  Usually, said advice is in the form of directions or food recommendations.  But once in a while the advice covers more serious topics like thread counts, face tattoos, or bail bondsmen (you might be surprised at how often those three pieces of advice come from the same person).

Once time I was in a Rite Aid and an elderly woman told me: "Don't get old.  It isn't any fun."  Now, in some respects, I'm sure she's right.  I don't plan on taking her advice, but it's nice that she's prepared me for the not-funnness of getting old.  Life experience is pretty valuable stuff, so I always listen carefully when an elderly person offers advice.

Particularly about thread counts, face tattoos, or bail bondsmen.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

If brevity is wit...

...then this is going to be my wittiest update ever.


This week's update of "Saturday" the book comes from page 24.  It's now Saturday afternoon in the book.  India is wandering around the neighborhood unsupervised.  Fred and Elizabeth are inside, having only just realized they haven't exactly been stellar parents the previous week.

This is typically the part where I would bloviate about something or other.  But this week, Noha is wiped out.  So, for those of you who usually skip over the talkie part of these updates: Good News!  Far less talkie this week.  For those of you who are fans of the bloviation, good news: I'll be back next week to prattle you good.

In the meantime, here are some pictures: