Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Stir Crazy

Cabin fever. From early morning the feeling of walls closing in has been at the forefront of this post Super Bowl Monday. It might have been the result of long hours in front of the television on Sunday lasting from 6:00 until almost midnight, with first football and then the season preview of Glee. But it might also have come from a long string of days without venturing outside my little backwater town. Think I needed a dose of Lady Gaga, or at least something with more jazz than seagulls and jellyfish.

The first escape attempt came with a trip downtown to have a look at the New Smyrna Beach Historical Museum. Wouldn’t you know that when I walked up to the front doors they were locked. Closed, dark, empty—a notice on the side saying they are closed on Sunday and Monday. Apart from a soda fountain drugstore, a stationery store, a couple of “antique” (gifts and trifles) shops and the utility company offices, there isn’t much to fill a humdrum afternoon in our illustrious downtown.

Decided to drive to daytona and spend some time in Barnes & Noble. Couple of books in the back of my mind, a thirst for coffee and the need to escape NSB were reason enough. Things are hopping at the Daytona Speedway, with the Daytona 500 Speedweek only five days away (Feb 12-20). Already the area around the speedway is crowded. Daytona’s Barnes & Noble is directly across the street.

Since reading something about writer-journalist Gay Talese in The Writer’s Almanac, a couple of his titles have been on my mind. I read early this morning his career making essay on Sinatra, Frank Sinatra Has a Cold, published in a 1966 issue of Esquire. Was my first exposure to Talese and enough to leave me wanting more. The Writer’s Almanac article included this interesting tidbit about the writer:

‘Each morning he wakes up and dresses in a suit and tie, goes downstairs to his window-less “bunker,” a converted wine cellar, has orange juice and coffee and muffins, changes into an ascot, sweater and a scarf, and begins to write. He writes in longhand and then uses a typewriter, because he says he wants “to be forced to work slowly.” He writes a single page a day. When he’s close to being done with his story, he types it on the computer…married for more than fifty years to Nan Talese, an editor and publishing executive, she reads aloud to him every page that he writes.’

Barnes & Noble had nothing on their shelves by Talese that I could find. Probably looking in the wrong place. Neither did they have The Story of a Million Years, by David Huddle. I ended up instead with the new Robert Crais novel, The Sentry. Crais is another of those Louisiana natives I try to keep up with.

Sipping coffee and reading the first pages of the Crais book, the sky abruptly opened up with torrents of rain and in moments it became difficult to even see the parked cars outside the glass wall in front of me. The sight of so much pounding rain abrading the oily asphalt was relaxing and I sat transfixed for close to twenty minutes while the deluge continued. Later I waded out to my car, finding it a little cleaner from the wet thumping. Cured of cabin fever I drove home to the seagulls and jellyfish.


  1. A pouring down rain, gray skies and a cold wind blowing would usually make you stay in a Barnes and Noble bookstore more than 20 minutes. What was your rush?

  2. It's these kind of days when one of those cliches is alive. Something about not realizing that it is Life while waiting around for something to happen. Sounds okay to me: a comfortable place, a good book, a storm outside the window.


About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America