The Dizziness of Freedom

“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”
― Søren Kierkegaard , The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Orienting Deliberation on the Dogmatic Issue of Hereditary Sin

Artwork in the Braindead Brewing Company, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Today I finished a difficult work project. The culmination was six straight uninterrupted hours – from noon to six – staring at multiple computer monitors with spreadsheets, database reports, pages of notes, online forms and an ancient light-powered calculator in my palm.

What surprised me was how I felt when I finished. I felt like someone had hit me in the back of the head. I was tired, sure, but very dizzy and innervated.

Does thinking really take energy? Was my noggin out of oxygen? Does gray matter get worn out like a muscle?

At home I ate a little, stumbled into bed and fell into the sleep of the dead. For four hours.

At least it is done. The world can go on.

Sunday Snippet, Flash Fiction, Foondball by Bill Chance

The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.

—-Walt Whitman

Lee, trying to pull the ball loose.


Craig’s son called him at work – he was home from school and a friend, George. was at the house. He wanted to know how to type on the computer. Craig gave him quick instructions on how to start up Word, how to save his work, and how to print it out when he was done. It turns out his son and George had an idea for a new sport, which they called Foondball and they wanted to type out a list of rules.

When Craig came home he found his desk littered with sheets of notebook paper covered with crude drawings of athletic fields and different dimensions, markings, and goal layouts.

On the screen was their rules for Foondball:

  • The game can only be played with 6 to 12 players.
  • You may use your hands to throw the ball and your feet to kick the ball and the goalie may use a hockey stick to block shots taken by the strikers.
  • The goals are at opposite ends of the playing field the field is 75 yards in length and is about 25 to 30 yards in width
  • The winner of the most rounds wins the match there are three rounds lasting 20 minutes and 5 minutes of rest between rounds
  • In the case of a tie the winner will be decided by a 10 minute overtime if no winner is decided then it is a draw
  • The goals are about- 6 to 7 feet high and 10 to 11 feet wide
  • The game begins with the thrower throwing the ball and the whacker hitting the ball the seekers catch the ball if the seeker on the whackers team catches the ball he may keep running to the goal if the seeker on the throwers side catches the ball he may run it back and try to score
  • Each goal is worth two points
  • If there is a foul the ball goes to the place where the foul was committed and thrown from there.
  • If a foul is committed within ten yards of the goal the person whom the foul was committed against gets to take a free shot he can throw the ball into the goal or he can kick the ball into the goal
  • If one team wins the first two rounds of the game then they automatically win the game
  • At no time during the game is play ever supposed to stop unless a foul is committed
  • There is a ten minute half time in between the 2nd and 3rd round
  • If a person scores on a foul then the goal only counts as one point
  • After a goal the team that scores is to throw the ball and play resumes
  • Helmets are to be worn
  • For each team – 1 goalie, 2 whackers, 1 seeker 2 throwers
  • The goalie may never come out of his 10 foot box
  • If a player is on concrete he may dribble the with his hands
  • The player may throw or kick the ball to one of his fellow teammates

Someday, maybe, kids will dream of glory on the foondball field, and trade photos, cards, and stories of who their favorite whackers, throwers, and seekers are.

What I learned this week, February 26, 2022

Cook throwing dough at Serious Pizza, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

2 Tips I Wish I Learned Before I Bought This Cast Iron Skillet

Sylvia Plath and the Loneliness of Love

The Crystal Hunters of Chamonix

This Is the Most Bizarre Grammar Rule You Probably Never Heard Of

No, Shawn Bradley Wasn’t Paralyzed in a “Bicycle Accident”

A Kansas Bookshop’s Fight with Amazon Is About More Than the Price of Books

A Bard’s Eye View

Dreams Within Dreams

“Dreams feel real while we’re in them. It’s only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange.”

—- Inception

Vivian Maier

The worst kind of dream is when you dream that you wake up in your own bed. I mean, if you are dreaming you are in a submarine on Mars – if things go wonky, you can say to yourself, “Well, there are no submarines on Mars, and if there were, I wouldn’t be in one.” You know you are dreaming and can relax, knowing you will be awake sometime soon.

I rarely remember my dreams (There is that weird, just awoke, feeling where you feel the dream memories draining away like water down a drain) and when I do, they are very mundane and frustrating, like my real life.

Sometimes, though, I remember vividly.

The other night I dreamed that I was at Starbucks for a while, when it was time to go I discovered my car had been stolen. I walked around the parking lot, looking at the vacant space where my car used to be. Understandably, I was pretty upset and wondering how I was going to get home until I realized I was dreaming.

Right after that, I woke up in my bed… the sun was rising and I could see gray through the windows. I sat up, parted the curtains and looked out. My car was gone. Not a good way to start the day.

Then… I woke up again. I had been dreaming that I was in bed. This time, looking out at the street, I was relieved to see my car.

Unfortunately, there was an inch of ice all over it. There would be scraping before I made it to work.

Floundering in a Mire of Spectacle

“We feared that the music which had given us sustenance was in danger of spiritual starvation. We feared it losing its sense of purpose, we feared it falling into fattened hands, we feared it floundering in a mire of spectacle, finance, and vapid technical complexity. We would call forth in our minds the image of Paul Revere, riding through the American night, petitioning the people to wake up, to take up arms. We too would take up arms, the arms of our generation, the electric guitar and the microphone.”
― Patti Smith, Just Kids

Deep Elllum, Dallas, Texas

I do nothing anymore. I’m reduced to looking at things I once did and regurgitating them, slightly re-edited.

It’s not good enough, but it’s all I got.

The Spaghetti Harvest

“Welcome to Hell. Here’s your accordion.”
― Gary Larson, The Complete Far Side, 1980–1994

Eric Mancini Mural Dallas, Texas

One of the odd, but very clear, memories of my early childhood was seeing a short documentary on television (black and white, of course) about the spaghetti harvest. I remember seeing the European women gathering the strands and stacking them in baskets for packaging and shipment.

Today I came across it again online. It was produced in Great Britain in 1957, the year I was born – so obviously I saw a re-run. There were some other satires… (I seem to remember a family at a beach consisting of large rocks – they were uncomfortable trying to sit on them, though the narrator waxed poetic about the beauty and comfort of the beach) but who knows why I saw it.

At any rate, enough horror in the real world, so enjoy the bucolic splendor of the Spaghetti Harvest, and thank God those Spaghetti Weevils are under control.

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, She Titles the Email “Things are Moving Along” by Caitlin Scarano

“What’s your name,’ Coraline asked the cat. ‘Look, I’m Coraline. Okay?’

‘Cats don’t have names,’ it said.

‘No?’ said Coraline.

‘No,’ said the cat. ‘Now you people have names. That’s because you don’t know who you are. We know who we are, so we don’t need names.”

― Neil Gaiman, Coraline

Waco Downtown Farmer’s Market Waco, Texas

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Wednesday, October 07, 1998


I started out for work in the morning just a little bit late, having to rush. Candy, watching the morning news, warned me of impending weather. I glanced at the television as I walked out the door and saw that familiar ominous radar image of the metroplex with an irregular diagonal orange line of thunderstorms slashed across it.

I hadn’t driven very far before fat blobs of rain started slamming into my car. It didn’t look that threatening – no large dark caterwauling thunderheads or blasting cold wind of an advancing squall line. Only the usual gray skies with a few darker patches. There was an occasional rumble or crash of thunder and a bright laser flash, thin crooked line of lightning, however, to indicate more powerful forces at work.

The plop sound of the big soft drops soon took on a strange clicking noise as they struck the steel skin of the Taurus. The water quickly turned to ice. I was caught in an unusual early March, early morning, dawn really, hail storm.

It’s a helpless feeling to sit there, stuck in traffic, as chunks of ice scream across the sky to slam into your vehicle and the cars all around. I looked for a place to pull over and get some shelter from the storm; unfortunately with morning rush hour all available overhangs were quickly snatched up by aggressive drivers in expensive new Sports Utility Vehicles or Dual-Axle Pickups. The gas stations, fast food emporiums or any other structure with a modicum of cover were full before I could even move forward an inch in the backed-up street.

So there was nothing to do except wait in the backup of cars on the road behind the spot where a crew was digging out some potholes and using orange cones to narrow the way from three lanes to two. That caused the slow backup in the left two lanes of good citizens like me, patiently waiting our turns while obnoxious morons in the right hand lane zipped by to asshole their way back into the queue at the very cones themselves, thereby holding everybody up.

Nothing except sit there and hope the ice didn’t get big enough, the wind strong enough, to put unsightly dents in my car. Which it didn’t. It only lasted a minute or two. Although the hail did look fairly large it was soft and misshapen, fluffy; not a very effective weapon. As the spring goes on into summer I’m sure the tornadic thunderheads roaring in out of the great plains will get better at it and have some good damaging hail.

It must have been bad somewhere, though, because, hours later, on the way home from work in the parking lot of the abandoned movie theater near my house (eleven screens, all of them within a couple miles of my house, closed when the new stadium seating 30 theater multiplex emporium opened a few miles south in the long vacant field that for a decade held a single real estate sign “ZONED COMMERCIAL,” off of the interstate loop) had appeared a large white tent open at each end. Cones were set out to direct cars through the open maw of the tent. Next to it was a large recreational vehicle painted a bright blue and white and bearing the brazen logo ALLSTATE – Catastrophe Emergency Response Unit.

So the insurance companies were all ready to start taking hail damage claims. The storm may have been worse in areas near here but it couldn’t have been too bad because I didn’t see anyone queued up for their estimates.

Across the street, in the parking lot of another abandoned theater was a small carnival. Only a few steel rides and a smattering of booths; the bright lights were coming on as the sun set. One attraction was a huge slide, an inflatable structure that looked like a giant cruise ship, listing forward at an acute angle. At the stern, pointing high in the air were two inflatable propellers and, of course, the legend TITANIC.

I turned right, into the neighborhood, putting my back to these omens of disaster and drove on home.

And now, a piece of flash fiction for today:

She Titles the Email “Things are Moving Along” by Caitlin Scarano

from Brevity

Caitlin Scarano Webpage

Sunday Snippet, Flash Fiction, Hot Rod On Mars by Bill Chance

“We earth men have a talent for ruining big, beautiful things.”

― Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles

A painting I bought at the For the Love of Kettle event at Kettle Art in Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas. The artist is Jeycin Fincher

Hot Rod On Mars

After a hundred years of terraforming the air on Mars was finally breathable. The colonists had developed their own culture – often seen as odd and ridiculous from the point of view of their friends and relatives left on earth.

One of the most inexplicable cultural oddities was the popularity of hot rods on the red planet. All kinds of replica American muscle cars from the fifties, sixties, and seventies became the ride of choice across Mars.

Craig was very proud of his replica 1970 Dodge Challenger. I was white, like the car in the ancient film, Vanishing Point – one of the few classics that survived the great purge. Craig couldn’t resist though, and had a garish red and blue lightning bolt painted on the room.

But Craig’s testosterone was more powerful than his driving skills – plus he never understood that late-20th century muscle cars were designed for pavement and were dangerous and unstable on cross-country jaunts. The designers never intended their cars to be driven across the rocky plains of Mars.

It was inevitable that he would find a steep ditch and plunge the front end down into the gap, bury it in the dust that filled and hid the furrow. Craig climbed up onto the elevated back end to get a bit better satellite cell reception and decided to stay there as he waited for the star-shaped tow drone to fly to where he was. It was going to be an expensive accident… Maybe he would learn from this.

Probably not.

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Abyss by Lois Hibbert

“The Earth is God’s pinball machine and each quake, tidal wave, flash flood and volcanic eruption is the result of a TILT that occurs when God, cheating, tries to win free games.”

― Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

Caribbean Sunset

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Wednesday, October 07, 1998


After work today I drove over to the health club and had a good, tough workout. It was a gorgeous day and I felt like staying outside for awhile so I drove across Sunnyvale to Lake Ray Hubbard and a little park at the end of Barnes Bridge road. This is the place with the two wooden crosses, I wrote an entry about it back in June.

The two crosses are still there. I was glad to see that someone had repaired Jason Farmer’s cross. From the look of how it was done, it might be the same people working on the other cross.

Michelle Lemay Self’s cross is still kept up with a little plot of plastic flowers. The white wood is covered with messages written in what looks like black magic marker.

Wife, Mother, Daughter
Sister Beloved

We Don't know you
but visit all the time.

There is a little line drawn about eighteen inches up from the ground. It is labeled, “Austin’s height when She left him.”

At about three feet there is another line. “Austin’s height, 7/9/98, 2 1/2 years old.”

Love U
Your Husband
Chris Self

Nearby, in crude but legible hand,

I love you
Austin 7/19/98

Along one side was a longer, more ominous message. I present it here as I copied it down, I don’t think it’s my place to make any comment.

For those of U that come
and see this 1 and Lonely cross
I hope u all have took the time
and understand are pain & are loss.
This 1 man I'd Love too c out
here 1 sunny summer day.
So I can end his sorry LIFE,
AND then be on my happy
way to go & tell my loving wife that
he has finally paid.
u know who u are
I'm coming soon.

The park is as poorly-developed as always. Some run down playground equipment and an arc of shoddy grass, a bit of woods, along the shore of the lake. I walked on down a path away from the parking lot.

All the lakes in North Texas threatened to dry up with this summer’s drought. The recent deluge has helped, but the lake is still down. Instead of these little cliffs of mud-rock along the shore, there is a little stretch of sand, which used to be lake bottom. I sat along this poor man’s beach and watched the gold sunset sky, the hazy distant opposite shore with its expensive homes and developments. A lone sailboat fought against the waves, a flock of white seabirds dove for fish.

The wind was blowing stoutly and that was enough to build waves from across the big lake. They came rolling in, miniature breakers. With a bit of imagination it was like being at the ocean. It even smelt a little like the sea, mostly because of a mat of drying and rotting seaweed.

I walked on down the curl of the park ’til the stretch of public property ended in a steel barrier and “No Trespassing” signs. Away from the water was a thick grove of trees and a path. I walked back into a little grotto, my legs brushing away last night’s spider webs, nobody had been there all day. I looked up into the trees, still illuminated by the afterglow of the set sun and saw motion. The trees were full of Monarch Butterflies.

It was a beautiful sight. The green and yellow trees, orange sky, red and black flapping wings. The branches were lousy with them, many came fluttering down, disturbed by my approach. They flew in a cloud around me, close enough to reach out and touch.

They must be stopping over on their annual migration. It was an unexpected treat, a special pleasure, to have them decorate this remote speck of shabby forest.

I needed to get home so I walked back to my car. The return drive was slow and fun, I was stuck behind a peloton, maybe thirty riders. A local club was finishing up a ride, trying to get back before dark. I especially liked slowing down on the uphills, watching them all come out of the saddle, black shorts and colorful jerseys, pumping legs and bobbing helmets.

I had worked out hard enough, it had been a long, tough enough day that I was content to sit in the bucket seat and steer, listen to a tape, let them all do the work for once.

And now, a piece of flash fiction for today:

Abyss by Lois Hibbert

from Flash Fiction Magazine