Posted by: David | August 4, 2018

The Black Bow and the BDL

It’s been well over a decade since this blog began, mostly as recreation for a hopelessly wandering mind. Wandering in search of nothing. Or of anything. As luck would have it, a few similarly minded (or UNminded) folks have crossed paths with me here and showed some interest. THANK YOU for visiting this mildewed corner of the interwebs! It’s been a PRIVILEGE to have “met” you, you few kindred souls I would have never otherwise encountered for the distances of space and time between us. (This post seems to have developed some kind of TIC. Sorry about the random SHOUTING. Could be an old age thing. Cuz I’m OLD now …)

Previously, on Thoughts-0-Dave, election 2016 was a fresh, bleeding wound, blade still deeply embedded. Now posting NEARLY TWO YEARS later, waves of words again crashing upon the sand in my skull, tidal thoughts and feelings … pushing the seaweed, driftwood, plastic trash and foam rushing at your feet … OKAY! Enough already! The wound is healed. It took a lot of STITCHES, many changes of dressings … and the pus was just disgusting. EEEW! By the way, “EEEW” is an official Scrabble word. I know right, three E’s?!

From New Yorker magazine.

One stitch was the passing of my father. Diagnosed around Halloween 2016 with pancreatic cancer at age 86, he took it in uncharacteristic stride. Terminal cancer was one of few things I know of in his life that he accepted with little apparent objection. I can’t say enough good things about the local hospice team. They helped make Dad’s exit as peaceful as it could be. He was gone just a couple weeks after president 45 was inaugurated. I swear that the gloom and doom of Trumpocalypse helped to hasten Dad’s exit from this world, to his long sought-after, long joked about meeting with Beelzebub. In Hell. Good for him I thought. He won’t have to watch The End of the World As We Know It.

IMG_2272 (2)
Leaving some of Dad’s ashes at a lake he often fished when I was a kid.

(Funnily enough, I remember my republican friends at work playing that R.E.M. song after Obama was elected, Had they actually known the lyrics of that track, they would have realized that it was the chorus alone that gave voice to their feelings of defeat. The rest of that song is about RIGHT. FUCKING. NOW. All I can say now is that I’m glad that even though their politics were far to the right of my own, they were equally surprised by the triumph of Trump. Well looky here! What awful damage a perfect storm of fear, hatred, lies and willful ignorance can do. Duh! )

Another stitch was the digital piano I bought with some of the money Dad left behind. With that piano and the GarageBand app, I was able to accompany myself and leave a series of musical excretions on SoundCloud. I listen to these tracks over and over. It’s a delightful new dimension of, uh, self-pleasuring. It’s pretty shite, undisciplined soundtrack music for really bad movies, but on a nice sunny day at work, walking from building to building on campus, headphones at medium volume, it feels like some curtain opens and the yawning abyss looks less terrifying.


2017 is the street number of my house. Banner year it was. Toward its end I found myself battling feelings I’d managed to avoid for a couple of decades. Bad, depressing, dead of winter feelings. (Also some pretty wonderful ecstatic feelings. Phew!! Thanks for those … may I have some more?) As luck would have it, many friends came forward to help me out. Really Old Friends. Friends with whom I’d worked for 20 years, friends like good American vodka, and even new friends that I’d never really noticed before. They provided more stitches to close the wound. To help cover that jagged bit of glass with nacre. Yeah I’m not an oyster, and there was no pearl in there. Just a few knobs and dials I could twiddle when the needle shuddered and buried itself on the right side of the meter. What meter, you ask.

The BDL Meter! BDL = Background Dread Level. Like the cosmic background radiation accidentally discovered in the early 1960s, the echo of the Big Bang, after they cleaned the pigeon shit from their radio antenna. We now have a persistent background noise of HORRIBLE CHAOS emanating from the billionaire nostalgic white guys longing for WWII and the 1950s. Hey guys? The 1950s called! They said they’re DONE, and want NOTHING to do with you cherry-picking FUCKS! Try cleaning the pigeon shit out of your hearts. Weirdly, pigeon poop seems to be an obstacle to knowledge. Occasionally.


They installed the BDL Meter in my abdomen on November 9, 2016, after a sleepless night. It felt just like when someone close to you dies. Like something was ripped from your chest. You keep re-remembering the trauma, that yes, it really happened. Since installation of the BDL Meter, there had been an exponential increase in self-indulgent behaviors of all sorts. Mostly just Deep Fictive Immersion. The idea is to shove that dread into the background. Duh. That’s where dread belongs.

Books, movies, Netflix series, ANYTHING but the NEWS. Always HATED “reality TV”. Now it’s in the White House. Maybe it always was. We morons are easily entertained. Sometimes the deep fiction dive backfires. Sometimes it reflects the non-fictional dread too well. Like The Handmaid’s Tale for example. Season 2 actually broke the dread meter. See my tweet. When the UNwomen were cleaning up the radioactive waste … Holy Shit. Time to remove it. The meter. Hey it’s broken now anyway. Like everything else. (And Bob Dylan wrote a song about it back in 1989.)

So yeah. It’s time. Time to put a bow on this blog too. A black bow. Pretty soon the Big AI will be scouring and deleting All Excess Feelings anyway. Maybe I should print it all up and get it bound in nice, leather hardcovers. Like Dad did with his treasured volumes of Edmund Wilson first editions. Nah. I knew these words were disposable when I wrote them. Just the black bow then. Tied up properly, like my shoes, which I only recently learned from an early TED talk. This is another early TED talk you need to hear. Thank you TED for making the interwebs a less mildewy place.

And many thanks to you dear readers, for your attention over the years. Carry on and mind the gap. I fear the worst is coming, but still hope for the best. What an IDIOT!!

Thank god I work at a college. This was on a professor’s office door last year.

I’m publishing this final post on what would have been my son’s 35th birthday. He had a happy but too short life, sprinkled with a little trauma. Given a do-over on Danny, I would ask for no changes other than that defective ticker. He taught me how to laugh and cry at the same time. It’s a useful skill.

The End


  1. Im thankful we met via our blogs – the BDL is real. Dont be a stranger.

    Me too Maleesha! I’ve enjoyed all your writings very much. I’ll try not to be a stranger, but I can’t help being strange, nyuk nyuk!

  2. Absolutely the BDL is real. Far too real. And not as “background” as I’d like. I can’t watch national news anymore. I barely watch the local stuff. Daytime tv has always been awful. Rather than drop my blog, I’m spending even more time on it, trying to avoid politics. And video games. Strange hobby for a woman my age, but it’s all about the escapism, the retreat into a world where I have some control and ability to fight back.

    Who am I kidding? Nothing really works. There’s no escaping the BDL. That beautiful bowl of cherries. Tried it recently and even that failed. The cherries fought back and I lost. Hang in there, Dave. Whatever it takes. And I’ll do the same. If we both survive this apocalypse, maybe we can celebrate together in 2020. Till then, be well.

    Thank you so much Pied! We are TOTES on the same page! It’s like reality has turned just about completely inside out. Sorry the cherries got the better of you. I’m picturing Jack Nicholson floating in the pool with the Witches of Eastwick, who are unwittingly assisting his dark spell-casting. “Have another cherry!” he says.

    Your blog is about the most perfect form of personal blog I’ve seen. A wonderful range of thoughts from a mature and still curious mind. Your continuity is super inspirational! Maybe I’ll get another blog going! Right after I finish Orange is the New Black season 6! And 3%. And Better Call Saul season 3 … Ugh.

  3. I would say, “sorry to see you go”, but I already left. I’m sure I’ll see you around Twitterville. In the meantime, I hope you are doing well and thank you for your virtual friendship.

    Oh no, thank YOU ifeelunusual! You connected me to Withnail and I, for which I am eternally grateful. It’s up there in a Very Short List of movies to re-watch annually, alongside 2001 A Space Odyssey. As I said, Very Short List. Anyway, thanks for your virtual friendship too.

  4. So glad you are back :o) I’m back too, at SlowWriting.Cafe. But there’s nothing there yet. Let’s get old together.

    THANK YOU vermonter! I see you posted at This Day As-Is in a similar pattern to moi after … erm … well you know … Thanks for visiting. I think of you every time I’m on the 3rd floor of Colgate. Happy to get old with you!! Try and stop me!

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