It’s Monday. I’ve been up since about 6:30. Now it’s 9:54. What have I gotten done? I’ve done all the record-keeping from the weekend trip to sell copies of The Audacity of Dope in Martinsville, Va. I’ve watched Todd Snider play his songs on “Imus in the Morning.” I’ve had breakfast. I’ve folded clothes.
Yesterday I wrote half a chapter on my third novel (the second one will be out later this year) and watched the NASCAR race with a friend, Nate Ryan. Later today I’ve got a funeral (an old friend’s father) and an eye appointment, and I need to drop by Printers Associates to pick up the rest of my business cards. My next book appearance is this Saturday, March 16 (5-7 p.m.), at Poor Richard’s Book Shoppe in Charlotte.
As you can undoubtedly tell, today’s blog, so far, is a recitation waiting for inspiration and a coherent topic. Three paragraphs may already be a bit late for coherence. The TV is on, and I’m positive that the new Pope is much more important to the rest of the world than it is to me. I’m not Catholic. I’m not sure what I am. I pray at night, sometimes in the middle of the night when I awaken and realize I didn’t pray in the first place. Maybe I’m a Prayist. I believe in the unofficial gospel of Tom T. Hall:
Me and Jesus got our own thing going / Me and Jesus got it all worked out / Me and Jesus got our own thing going / We don’t need anybody to tell us what it’s all about
While on the subject of music, one of my songs, “First I Took My Clothes Off (Then You Changed Your Mind),” has already been included in the Couch by Couchwest online festival. South by Southwest is, of course, the massive festival going on in Austin, Texas, right now. Couch by Couchwest is going on at the same time. The idea is that you don’t have to go to Austin and fight the hassles, of which reportedly there are many. You can sit on your couch and enjoy videos from musicians all over the country and, I suppose, the world. My friend Chase Whitaker got me to enter, so I sat in my easy chair (not my couch) and shot a homemade video. In fact, I shot two. “First I Took My Clothes Off …” went up on the couchbycouchwest.com site about a half hour after the Las Vegas race ended. Another, “Uh-Huh,” should pop up sometime within the next week. CXCW13 began on Sunday and runs through Saturday.
Don’t worry. Most of the “performers” are better than me. I’m honored to have my songs included, though. Check it out when you get the chance. You’ll be glad you did.
As John Denver used to sing, “Some days are diamonds. Some days are stones.” I can tell already this one isn’t going to be a diamond, but a man needs stones. As I have written several times about NASCAR, if every race were a classic, there’d be no such thing.
The race? I didn’t think it was terrible. I was happy to see Matt Kenseth win. In some ways, NASCAR is once again paying a high price for raised expectations. Danica Patrick, who has predictably crashed to earth with a thud, is paying for artificially inflated hopes stemming from the Daytona 500, which has about as much to do with the rest of the season as the price of gasoline in Malawi to civil liberties in North Korea. It doesn’t surprise me.
The biggest problem with NASCAR isn’t the new car. All else being equal, the cars look cool. At the moment, they are also victimized by raised expectations. The biggest problem with NASCAR is NASCAR. By almost any measure, the Denny Hamlin fine was a mistake of epic proportions. The famed line from the comic strip “Pogo” applies: They have found the enemy, and it is they. The image makers are sapping the life from a great sport.
If there is a good time to have one’s job eliminated, it is now. I’m deriving great satisfaction from writing and selling my book. Can I make it on my own? It’s way too soon to tell, but personally, I haven’t missed the NASCAR road that much. During the race, Nate and I talked more about racing than watched it.
It does hurt, however, to be laid off, after 16-1/2 years at the same newspaper, without any warning. Having colleagues communicate to me how much I’m missed doesn’t assuage that pain at all. Turning that into a blessing in disguise is a challenge, but there are miles and miles to go on that psychic trip. Most of the satisfaction lies ahead, if at all. I was in Martinsville when the racing was in Las Vegas. This week I’ll be in Charlotte when the racing is in Bristol.
It’s entirely possible that I’m about to really miss it for the first time.