How My Brain Works: About An Hour in the Life of Jon

It’s about 11 a.m. on a Wednesday morning.

I am at my desk at home, ostensibly looking for work.

For me, this entails a mix of job search, review, and application. I get quickly bored and overwhelmed by this task, so between steps, I pop over to Facebook, where I have been passing messages with friends lately, doing my best to make up for being oh so bad at correspondence for, broadly speaking, a year or more, and, more generally, a lifetime.

In the course of one of these conversations I offer an old friend, who is planning a visit to the ATL, the opportunity to stay at my home rather than book a room. I quietly applaud myself for remembering to ask if stairs might be an issue, given that the guest room is upstairs.

Thus begins the following sequence:

The stair handrail is a bit loose where it is anchored to the wall at the second floor landing.

I should fix that, especially since I have told The Empress of Whisky that I’m up for doing this sort of thing, what with all the free time on my hands just now.

Get up from computer. Start walking downstairs, to utility closet where tools are stored.

Upon opening utility closet, where cat’s litter box is located, remember I haven’t scooped it today.

Realize I need to pee.

Go to bathroom. Pee. Skip hand-washing, due to next planned activity.

[Somewhere along here, this blog post begins forming in my mind.]

Scoop litter box.

Dispose of results.

Wash hands.

Return to utility closet. Acquire a wall anchor and the right screwdriver to use with it.

[The blog post is definitely coming together now, looking good in my head. I decide to write first, then attack the handrail fix.]

Reach computer. Phone beeps. Check messages.

As I am checking messages, I hear Cat meowing from hallway, outside bedroom. She does this, frequently, when I am home and The Empress of Whisky is not. I think, sometimes, that she thinks I have The Empress locked away in the bedroom. I think this because sometimes Cat will not stop meowing until I have gone to door, opened it, and shown her that The Empress is not, in fact, languishing in the bedroom. She has not mysteriously teleported there from her office downtown. All is well, Cat. Cat then usually rubs on some shoes belonging to The Empress and, thus appeased, leaves the bedroom.

Sometimes, though, and this is one of those times, Cat will instead come when I call and enter the office to sit upon my lap.

This makes work difficult because it is harder to reach things like the keyboard. Left-handed mouse work is okay, though, as is using my phone.

Wait, the phone beeped awhile ago!

Pick up phone, respond to texts while Cat is purring contentedly on my lap.

Just as I have done about all I can before getting back to the keyboard, Cat hops up of her own volition and goes off to either find a sleeping spot or re-investigate the closet I am, as of this morning (before the time-frame of the events described herein), sorting and rearranging. Possibly both.

Begin writing in earnest. Get as far as these words right here.

Realize phone has been beeping a bit while I have been in the flurry of writing this entire post.

Pause to appreciate, again, how wonderful it feels right now that the words are flowing and the rate of brain composition and my typing speed are matching up damn near perfectly, which has been a rare thing in the past but is really happening a lot more often lately and goddamn I feel fantastic about that.

My eyes are watering a bit, probably allergy-related. (This is not a euphemism for crying. I really do have irritating year-round allergies that mostly mean a runnier-than-average nose but occasionally mean watery eyes. This is all while medicated. Ugh.)

Appreciate, again, having switched to a higher grade of tissue (Kleenex Ultra Soft, rather than regular Kleenex). This was initially done, at my — later proved correct — thought that they would be kinder on the nose of The Empress of Whisky, who had been down with a cold until just recently. (Yes, she applied bourbon. We know our medicine.)

Answer more texts.

Also? I love my clackity-clack old school keyboard, with its nifty backlit keys.

Take note of just how many words — ATL, teleported, clackity, backlit / and later, vis — I have added to my personal dictionary in the course of writing this post. (I really loathe red underlines that aren’t actual typos. And. Yet. I. Keep. Adding. Words. To. My. Personal. Dictionary. Forever. And. Ever. Amen.)


Review post so far. Adjust a few words. (But not many! Damn, they really are behaving  well for me lately.)

Note the time: 11:56.

Get up.

It takes about five minutes to realize this handrail fix isn’t going to work. Specifically, I realize this after inserting the base of the wall anchor, beginning to apply the screw that will attach the rail to it and bind the two tightly to the wall, when the whole anchor goes THWERTHUMP! and slips into the space behind the drywall.

(I did not add THWERTHUMP to my personal dictionary. The red line under it bugs me a lot, but that ain’t a word, so what to do? Leave it. Ignore it. You can do this, Jon.)

Realize someone probably tried this — or something like it — before, which is why the whole damn thing is loose in the first place.

Wash hands. (I have … a thing … about keeping my hands clean.)

Return to desk.


Write most of the rest of this post.

Facebook is dinging to let me know I have new messages, and my phone is beeping again. Ignore both because I am on deadline.

Recall how, just two days ago, My Friend The Former Lifestyle Editor Who Retired And Turned Mystery Writer told me something like, “I find deadlines very helpful.”

Remember how I used to always, for purposes of anonymity, refer to my friends in the manner such as My Friend The Former Lifestyle Editor Who Retired And Turned Mystery Writer and wonder whether I need to keep doing that.

Realize I am, in fact, running over deadline — think here, as always, of Douglas Adams and his statement: “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” — and that I may be in danger of overselling this whole piece.

Pause for editing. Quickly, now!

Reach for mouse to push the cursor toward that big red button in the top corner of my screen marked “Publish…”.

Worry whether anyone will realize I did not, in fact, fuck up grammatically — vis-a-vis quotation marks, accurately writing what that button says within them, and proper sentence-ending punctuation — in that last sentence.


Reach for mouse …


2016 Whisky Wind-down, 12: Procrastination 

Today’s dram: Laphroaig, 18-Year-Old

Today’s tasting notes: Strong, deep breath of the sea. Somewhere a fire is burning. Sit here and remember with me, the things we loved in days gone by.

Today’s thoughts: This one is a bit late, especially considering I had basically all day to get it done.

Well, not all day.  

I had presents to wrap, shopping to finish, dishes to catch up, probably other tasks that are slipping my mind …

So, I slept in.

I thought I might just have a quick lunch and then get going, but Cat looked at me pitifully, so I sat on the couch and let her flop with me a bit.

Then she reminded me the remake western The Magnificent Seven just dropped for streaming rental today, and she really likes westerns and The Empress of Whisky (who does not) is away hiking, so …


Decent flick. It ain’t Seven Samurai, but then, what is?

Then an unusual thing happened, the sort of thing that I suppose happens a lot but I never notice because I am away at work — a crew came by to pressure-wash our building. The water made weird sounds out there, and the sounds made Cat anxious, so I stayed on the couch to console her, and I decided to read a bit …

Next thing I knew, The Empress of Whisky was home with dinner.

Not only had I accomplished nothing on my personal to-do list, I also had yet to even pick today’s whisky.

The topic, however, basically writes itself.

I have long had the great ability to put off ’til tomorrow what cannot be accomplished today.

“And what can be put off ’til tomorrow might just as easily be put off ’til day after tomorrow as well.”

I forget who said that, but I remember it was Douglas Adams who said, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

I love being on holiday when the only deadline I have is a self-imposed one to daily drink a dram and then write about it.

I realize how incredibly fortunate a position that is to be in. Moreso, I realize how, when I’m not on holiday I mostly work by a set of generous white-collar deadlines that would be the envy of most workers the world over.

So being unhappy that I cannot meet my own deadlines is an admittedly advantaged position in which to find myself.

Doesn’t make it any easier. But I do acknowledge it.

Today’s deeply morbid thought on tomorrow: A good friend of mine — the same who gave me the Laphroaig 18 — once said to me, as I was lamenting my lack of progress, feeling like I was spending too much time on trivial pursuits, “Someday this will all be dust and no one will be here to remember or care; so, in the long run, idle chit-chat is about as useful as anything short of building an empire.”

Today’s toast: To the reader: I’ll have something for you tomorrow. Probably.

2016 Whisky Wind-down, 13: Whisky, Cats, Fortune

Today’s dram: Craigellachie, 13-Year-Old

Today’s tasting notes: I rather enjoy this one, even if I can never remember how to spell or pronounce it.

It’s a warm whisky with a bit of bite, but it isn’t peaty, and there’s no smoke. There is a real sharpness to it, though, and probably what I’m getting (and failing to adequately describe) is the sulfuric note that is supposedly this whisky’s trademark. (The distillery refers to it in marketing as “Scotch with a touch of brimstone.”)

Whatever is going on, I rather like it. It’s the sort of whisky I like to sip slowly over an afternoon, never quite remembering what I like about it, then sipping to recall, then forgetting again. It’s weird that way, and I love it.

I’m not sure what’s up with the age being 13 years. Most single malt Scotch whiskies are at least 10 or 12 years old, with the next jump usually to 18 (though 15 pops up here and there) then 21, and beyond that you can’t afford it, anyway.

Does the extra year make a difference? I’d have to taste it at 12 to tell you. And that isn’t an option, since Craigellachie doesn’t bottle anything younger. Only relatively recently, in fact, has it bottled much at all under its own name. Despite being around since 1891, for most of its existence the distillery has sold its production for use in blended Scotch whiskies, notably Dewar’s.

With some irony, the production of its own lines seems to have begun only after John Dewar & Sons, Ltd. bought the distillery in 1998. (Production was increased to keep up enough for both purposes.)

Why age the first one 13 years, though? I couldn’t say.

Maybe the distillery is just making a point about superstition.

Today’s thoughts: I’m not superstitious. Mostly. I grew up with a few superstitions, including religion, but I have mostly gotten over those. Mostly.

The thing about getting a weird idea in your head is that it can be hard to shake. I mean, when your mom tells you that her mom told her that her mom told her that … you should not wash clothes on New Year’s Day because to do so would be to “wash someone out of the family” in the coming year, your rational mind can realize this is bullshit while the lizard-brain still feels queasy.

So, you say, “Fuck it. I don’t like washing clothes, anyway,” and you put it off a day. Totally normal. If it happens to make Mom feel better, that’s fine, too.

I always thought the bit about the ill luck of having a black cat cross your path was just nonsense, but that’s probably because we had a black cat when I was a kid, and she crossed my path so many times — seriously, did the person who thought this up not consider how much cats get around? — that I would have been an utter shut-in had I tried to avoid having her cross my path daily. Also, if you believe this, when does the bad luck from the crossing expire? Do you have to see the black cat cross your path for it to count? What if one went by just before you rounded the corner? Would you appreciate someone rushing forward yelling, “Stop! Whatever you do, don’t keep walking this path! Black cat alert! Black cat aleeeert!”


The “don’t walk under a ladder” thing just makes sense. Things fall. People knock ladders over. Be reasonable.

What else?

Oh, being born a Southerner, I am under obligation to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, lest I suffer a terrible run of luck the next year. Fortunately, I love black-eyed peas, so I don’t see making a big pot of them that day to be any hardship at all, and I expect them like pie at Thanksgiving or pizza at Christmas.

(You don’t eat pizza at Christmas?! No wonder your luck is lousy.)

Today’s unrelated note: Although she is not a black cat, it can be serious bad luck if our calico crosses your path. I mean, she really likes to trip people, so watch it.

Today’s toast: To the superstitious: Good luck!

Mental Images: The Man in Line Behind Me

The man in line behind me at the supermarket is purchasing dozens of cans of cat food and a six-pack of Corona. 
I do not want to stare. I do not stare. But I wonder.   
Does he have many cats and therefore need to buy this much on a regular basis? Maybe he has just one cat and a stock-up shopping attitude.

Does he have cats at all? Maybe he is actually allergic to cats but loves them anyway and this is his donation to an animal shelter and the Corona is for the pain. 

Does he plan to eat the cat food himself? The only other thing he’s buying is Corona …
Then I’m paying and I’m carrying my bags and I’m driving my car and I’m sitting on my couch all while the man is somewhere with his dozens of cans of cat food and his six bottles of Corona, probably living a more interesting life than any I imagined for him.