The House Is Too Quiet

The house is too quiet when self returns from purchasing today’s Wall Street Journal and a six-pack of Negra Modelo beer from Whole Foods. The first thing she does, after opening a beer, is turn on the TV.   Here are some things she picked up from the 5 pm ABC World News:

A third of U.S. soldiers are on prescription drugs. 80% of suicides by U.S. soldiers occur on American soil. The U.S. Army now tends to attract those with “risk-taking” personalities (This was immediately followed by a clip from the documentary “Restrepo”).

The piece was reported by Martha Raddatz.  (Incidentally, on p. 1 of the Wall Street Journal, in an article headlined “Drug Use, Poor Discipline Afflict Afghanistan’s Army,” there is this:  “…  four Afghan soldiers leaned back on some idle farm equipment and lit up a joint in full view of U. S. troops and an American reporter.”)

It has not escaped self’s notice that, for the last several weeks, her next-door neighbor and the one across the street have been erecting six-foot wooden fences around their property. Now, it seems, both fences are finished: there are no more workmen about, and self, for the first time in 20 years, cannot peek into her neighbor’s living room windows. The wooden fences present blank, inscrutable faces to her. And the neighbors, too, are inscrutable, behind their new wooden barriers.

The Negra Modelo is a writing aid. Writing a novel is such a bear. Totally different from writing a short story. Short stories are fun! She gets to the end before she loses track of the beginning. Now, she has over a hundred pages of the putative novel, and today, when self started reading from the beginning, she found that some characters switched names twice, even three times!

Self totally missed Obama on “The View” this morning. Instead, she was on a talk show featuring Oprah regular Bob Greene (Could it have been Rachael Ray?). She also, later in the day, watched “View From the Bay” and found that the guest was a former colleague at Foothill, Michele Bigley! Oh! She has written a travel book! About travelling on the cheap, with kids! She was always bubbly. Now self learns that her child is three years old. Best of luck on your book tour, Michelle!

Today’s afternoon hide-out (to escape from boiling heat of self’s tiny abode) was the Atherton Library. This is housed in a teensy little cottage, surrounded by tremendous old trees. It is so quiet that when self walked in, banging the entrance door harder than she’d intended, everyone looked up.

The library’s usual patrons are middle-aged or senior citizens, and today was no exception. After checking out her book — Hugh Sebag-Montefiore’s Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man — self settled down on a couch and began to peruse the items on the coffee table in front of her: Aside from several copies of AARP’s journal, she found many copies of The Hollywood Reporter (!!!). Self picked up the latest issue (26 July 2010) and read there all about Viacom’s octogenarian Chairman, Sumner Redstone, and his seeming fascination with an MTV reality show called “Electric Barbarella.” Also, a Comic-Con wrap-up, which featured a photo of the entire cast of Marvel’s only-just-begun-shooting “The Avengers” (Yup, indeed there is a picture of Mark Ruffalo, who has replaced Ed Norton as “The Hulk.” And there is Jeremy Renner, who self just found out will play Hawkeye). Also, something about this fall’s upcoming new show, “Hawaii Five-O,” which will include Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park (previously Boomer on “Battlestar Galactica” — YAY!).

So, having caught up on all her Hollywood reading for the day (Thanks much, Atherton Library! Though your air-conditioner seemed to be non-functional today), self wends her way home to await whatever bad news there is in her mailbox and in her e-mail.

Stay tuned.

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