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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Jumps

                                            [Norma photo of Geo. graphic]

I worked 40 years (Hah, just see if I go do that again!), and for most of them I had to get up before sunrise and never got used to it. This was because I became a gardener early on --it did not require one to be house-trained.  Then, in 2009, I called in old.

In my working life I did nothing particularly right but there was a general and positive momentum toward settling an income in a humane economy. It allowed leisure enough to pursue my lifelong dream of retiring on the prairie to raise hornets. But this essay is not strictly limited to my successes in vespine husbandry. It is about the jumps.

For the purpose of our inquiry, I have included over this essay an x-ray of my head. You are invited to observe the chief mechanical systems of the brain: psychic constructs called conscious and subconscious minds. They are separated, with rather disappointing efficiency, by the nuchal crest.

The nuchal crest is a posterior bump on some human skulls that serves mainly as a head-hook to catch the edges of swimming pools so one might relax the rest of the body and chat with other nuchal crest possessors. People without nuchal crests --like my wife-- try to emulate and join in the fun but unhappily slide off into the depths. Another advantage of this crest is the extra cranial room it makes. As you can see, the x-ray shows a mainspring that has relaxed in some spots and snapped clean in others. With some stabilizing by means of baling wire, the added space effectively accommodates this neurological distemper.

Point is, although 4 years retired, I woke this morning from a dream that I was late for work. In the dream, each time I looked at a clock I was another hour or two later and quite beyond my repertoire of phone-able excuses. I woke with the jumps, and the impossible question: what does time measured on a dreamed clock measure? That is a question left to the conscious mind. It cares.

Subconscious mind doesn't care. It finds no purchase on the pool edge, slips under and hatches more anxious dreams based upon outdated data. Down there, it eludes reason no matter how tightly our net is drawn around it. This gives one the feeling, not of having slept but having spent the night in a Beckett play, proving even retirees work hard for their money.


  1. Oh Lordie...dreams of the work place and being late for it no less. What did you eat before you went to sleep? It was bad enough going to work in daylight hours and napping at the computer but to have it insinuate itself into an innocent retiree's sleep......unfair I say.

  2. Since I do have a nuchal crest, I'm wondering why my brain doesn't work as intricately and eloquently as yours. Perhaps my head-hook has caught too many edges on swimming pools.

    Your work as a gardener generated a positive momentum "toward settling an income in a humane economy".
    Your thoughts and musings as a retiree generate more than a mere income.....they are absolutely priceless.

  3. Hey, old friend of mine: I just got something that bears exact image to your 'nuchal crest'--but my doctor says this new bump on my head was caused by my falling over last week in the extreme heat here in Sonoma Valley. However, I find its gifts incredible. While he says it caused a temporary vertigo that sometimes makes me feel tipsy even though I have not tippled, I think I'm on to something that the alcohol barons may not like. Indeed, your 'nuchal crest' seems to have greater power--viz your creative output over the years--since my bump is just a newbie, who knows what may come of it. I'm inspired by you, young master!

  4. I am looking through 4X mirror now looking for a nuchal crest. I would really like a head hook as you never know when that could come in handy. I have always just depended on my nose.

  5. Delores-- Truly unfair, but nonetheless instructive I hope!

    Jon-- Thanks! nuchal crest marks us as members of atavistic genetic strains or progressive ones. Happily, I don't know which.

    Willie-- My dear friend, hurt! So glad I was able to ascertain by phone your physical well-being. Nuchal crests are not something to develop suddenly! Glad you're ok.

  6. Arleen-- You have a most delightful and pleasing nose. Would you consider trading for a nuchal crest?

  7. Dear Geo.,
    "to pursue my lifelong dream of retiring on the prairie to raise hornets" - that reminds me of a) Hercule Poirot, though his dream for retirement was raising pumpkins in the country - his nuchual crest hindered him, he worked far about the age of 1oo years b) do you know Tove Jansson's Tales from Moomin Valley? The English version seems sadly to be shortened - but a wonderful story is "The Hemulen who loved Silence": "(...) The hemulen's job was to punch holes in tickets, so that people wouldn't have fun more than once, and such a job is quite enough to make anyone sad if you have to do it all your life.
    The hemulen punched and punched, and while punching he used to dream of the things he would do when he got his pension at last.
    In case someone doesn't know what a pension is, it means that you can do what you like in all the peace you wish for, when you're old enough. At least that was how the hemulen's relatives had explained it to him." Read it! Husband once gave a seminar about "Philosophy in children's books" - Tove ranked absolutely high.
    PS: Husband has of course a nuchal crest too.

  8. I feel a nuchral least I think that's what it is? But my extra space must be occupied by something other than intellect, as I do not possess even 1/10th of your creativity. Can you spare some?

  9. Sublimely constructed. Thine art genius, no lie.

    I have a nuchal crest. And I dream about not having attended classes enough to get the credits I need with regularity -- though I have been out of school some sixteen years. A correlation?

  10. I like the picture of your brain – it’s a lot more exotic than the schema of the brain I saw this morning at the clinic (my husband has been diagnosed with onset Alzheimer and I was looking at a drawing of the brain.)
    I also had to get up before the sun for decades – had to be at work by 6:00 am and, like you, I still dream about work at least 3 or 4 times a week – I retired in January 2008 and wonder how long I’ll have these (bad) dreams…
    I saw the picture of your garden thermometer – goodness, that’s hot! Here in Georgia, where it should be warm, we have had rain every day since 30 June and as I speak it is all dark out and I hear terrible thunder. It usually is in the 70s these days.

  11. I'm not sure whether I have a nuchal crest or not. :( (feeling around the back of my head for a bump...)

    As usual, wonderful post! I generally have to highlight a few words here and there and Google the meanings, but that's okay... :)

  12. Hey! I have one of them nuchal crests too! Is that pronounced nuke-al or nutch-al? I think mine's more a nutch-al, cuz it sounds close to a hutch, which is what my brain is, and contains nut, which is certainly appropriate for me, natch. I do like the way your mechanism works.

  13. Oh, my! I'll be tempted to feel for nuchal's with every head that rests near mine. Travel will become more interesting......

  14. With all the creaking and cracking sounds emanating from my neck when I move it, dare I hope that I, too, may be growing one of those magical nuchal crests? For 'tis true that I could use a bit more cranial space to boost the re-memory functions of my brain, dude.

  15. A night caught in a Beckett play: sounds like hell! :/ I bet everyone reading this post felt the back of their skulls. I have that bump. Maybe this is why I routinely dream about going through each and every one of my tedious morning tasks, only to wake up and realize I'm going to have to do them AGAIN. And I still dream of missing the schoolbus.


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