Fear of Driving in Snow

fear of snow drivingDriving alone can already be terrifying even when you are under typical or normal conditions, but such an experience can even be more frightening if there is the presence of snow. Many people are prone to this dilemma.

This fear can be a normal one or it can also be huge enough that one might simply steer away or refrain from driving in the presence of snow totally. Then again, the main concern here is that, if this fear of driving in snow is not dealt with properly and early on, there is a high risk that this might turn into a complete driving phobia.

The first step that you need to take is to know the stats. What does it mean you might ask? Well, most people who have this problem is fixated with the idea that accidents can and will occur if you drive into a snowy road.

That particular notion does hold true, but it is still best to take a look at the statistics regarding snow-related accidents. The truth here is that, people all around the globe drive through snow and blizzards every single year (excluding those continents which are covered with snow all-year-round of course) and most, if not, many of them get to live to a golden age.

With that said, you see that your fear is founded on things which are not real. Simply put, it is just in your mind. Another thing you need to do is to determine the source of fear. People are not born with it, it is developed.

Search deep inside your memory for answers. Knowing the source of fear is a breakthrough factor that can help eliminate your driving anxiety. The last thing you need to do is to face your fear and drive head-on towards the snowy road.

However, this does not mean that you have to go all out at once. Take small, baby steps, one after the other. You can begin by taking short drives with the accompaniment of an experienced driver. Gradually pick up your pace and before you know it, you have already conquered this driving fear of yours!

Experiments in Etymology: Things in Frankfort, KY

Brass Horse HeadLet us start with things. The very word – thing – is a word from the Old Norse, used in Scandinavian countries with the meaning of “meeting” or “assembly.” Thing described a gathering, not of objects, but of people. Interestingly enough, one of “thing’s” cognates is the Dutch word “ding,” which, in English, we recognize as a loud ringing, clattering, commotion. In a way, “things” are the bringing together of voices, people, noises, and actions. In this light, speaking of things as inanimate objects is almost trite, if not a complete etymological misappropriation.

Compare that definition of “thing” to the Latin word “res,” a stagnant object or matter. (In English, we think of “res” in so stagnant and dead terms that we have used it demarcate the the second tone of a diatonic scale from all others, fixed and immovable.)

So, let us begin here – with dings, things that are very much alive, shedding, and transfiguring on micro and macro levels. This past winter, Mary Love and I drove up to Frankfort, Kentucky, to the home where my great-great-aunt lived and died, a home filled with dings, no res.

The place was swimming with dings, three stories of closets, shelving, bureaus, cabinets, and old desks, packed neatly with anything and everything that might be useful (or perhaps just beautiful): 15-inch long tapered candles, old typewriters and sewing machines, silver, brass, and intricate lace work snipped and laid away by mothers and grandmothers. Train trunks, an 86-year old violin, glass paneled wooden bookshelves, and an array of serving ware from a bygone era.

Removing the things of another person, especially one you knew on some level, is accompanied by a distinctly uncanny sense (not quite voyeurism). I think this has to do with the fact that things, real and true things, have a part of their owner imbued in them, some intangible ringing that they carry with them outside of their natural place in the world. It’s a presence that can be felt.

There’s one ding that has resonated for me in particular, a brass horse head clip that bears the markings: 7-79 COPYRIGHT 1949 / HORSE HEAD, made by the VA. Metalcrafters in Waynesboro, VA. The clip can be used as a paperweight, mounted to  a wall, or for a number of any other purposes. But – as it is with things – its being isn’t wrapped up in its functionality. Rather, its essence is granted to it by the user…

As her caretaker says, my great-great-aunt carried this clip in her last few months, shuffling about the house, its great alloyed weight hanging limp in her weakening right hand. But what enthralls me – or maybe disturbs me, I’m not quite certain – is how she would push on the horse’s strained, forward-jutting neck, her thumb and forefinger working its click-clack-dinging like some tinny trap lashing back or the safety pulled off a handgun, this shuffling, dinging, thing-resonation of 99 years coming to an end.

And the stranger thing is, when you hold the horse head in your hand, you can feel the warmth of flesh come back to you in an almost unreal way, as if metals of a certain weight had some natural exothermic property, though we know this not to be the case. And yet you can feel it otherwise, you can feel it, this resounding ring, the thing shining forth, this meeting or assembly of a person, a time, an experience, and you right there in the palm of your warm, living hand.

Things You Learn As a Copywriter

There are some things that only a select group of people ever need to know. As a copywriter, my profession subsumes a vast majority of this rather obscure need-to-know knowledge. Today, here’s what I’m left with:

  • It costs less than $800 to get married and have two different Elvis impersonators sing at your wedding. This price includes photography (limit 18 poses) and a copy of Elvis and Priscilla’s marriage certificate. No cake.
  • You can buy tequila flavored sugar water. Yes, just the flavor.
  • The temperature 10 feet below the earth’s surface, in most regions, holds fairly steady at a clement 55 ºF. Lovely.

Sayonara to a weekend of platitudes!

Why Hyper Self-Awareness Doesn’t Translate

Oftentimes writers are too self-aware, writing phrases like “writers are too self-aware,” referring to themselves and really demonstrating but a pretense of awareness, for a truly self-aware person would strike through the line entirely – much less would he go back and add hyphens between his “aware self” as he composes the next relative clause and interrupts himself before finishing the first to question whether relative clause is the appropriate phrase, carefully noting in a parenthetical (parenthetical?) clause that it’s a good thing his computer is off and he can’t (we are in the third person right?) be bothered to reach for Strunk and White while composing a simple sentence.

By no means is self-awareness attractive, and almost certainly it’s not worthy of publication, and as you, the reader, who must witness it most insufferably for the second time in the matter of a few seconds, already know; it is but an exercise in the thought process of writing a needlessly convoluted and certainly grammatically incorrect sentence.

And, as evidenced, it simply doesn’t translate. Therefore, you, the writer, are kindly beseeched to cease and desist – in the spirit of a mixed metaphor – with your hyper self-awareness lest your blog become no more.

And, of course, no editor present or future need ever worry about receiving any such sentences like these ever again from this desk.

Though that sentence was presumably fine.

Heat Storms

It’s the kind of evening we call electric, though faced with such power, the meaning of our words begins to drift from the sky like the first soft spats of a storm. I’m paused for rest tonight in a valley south of Nashville, eyeing the silence of heat storms as they strike up somewhere far away from here. In sharp flashes, the sky becomes a shock blue the color of daylight. Scaly cirrus clouds like fishbones splayed against the surface of a still water shatter the humid air.

Driving north into town, the clouds begin to separate, and dark patches of night give rise out of the wind. As the highway lanes split before me, I remember driving into Georgia two Christmases ago, the roads suddenly turning to ice as fractured as the sky on this night. Feeling the asphalt give way to ice, my tires gave way to the careening, my body and the weight of the car together passing in slow motion, freeform, across lane after lane of traffic.

At home, at rest, the clouds are still bursting electric, purple fires and jagged cliff-like shapes in the sky. The first drops are falling, transforming the roads, the sounds, the passage of headlights. And only now is it appropriate to think of all the different energies and weathers a body might waver through before arriving into the other side of night.


I’m afraid of the things with you I might forget.

There was the player piano in Falls Mill, a quarter at rest on the wood, and in the memory I still have, a fine line of dust across it all. Amidst the old cookbooks and mounted firearms there was a stillness; there were feelings only born in a room filled with dust. A motion in my body dropped the quarter.

Some years we say spring bursts forth. Other years, we say nothing at all. This spring there was a rupture in the stillness, and the negative space was filling the room, drawing the trees, the stream outside into its powerful vortex. As the music became faster, it became louder, too, and it was as if you could see the corn dust dance and shake from the shelves above.

You can imagine the pounds of corn these people breathe each year, the pounds that are sucked in by the player piano that is never tuned. It coats the keys, the strings, the hammers. It becomes a part of everything here. In the quiet that has followed the music, I am hoping this corn has found a way into my ears, has settled in my brain like a fertilizer. I am wishing for rows and rows of cornfields in the tissues of my brain like a fecund field.

I think I will become hungry, and I will go there, and I will find you lying face down in a row of cornfields somewhere in my cerebrum, and I will say:

“See, don’t you remember the dusty player piano? Didn’t you think it nice, the cobwebs that could catch only corn? Wasn’t it beautiful when something started, and you could hear it without putting an ear to the ground?”

Life was effortless poetry.

Is Inspiration a Myth?

In one of my favorite interviews, Jean Stein (for the Paris Review) asks William Faulkner a series of rapid fire questions. In the middle of the flow of conversation, she says:

“You mentioned experience, observation, and imagination as being important for the writer. Would you include inspiration?”

Faulkner, never missing a beat, responds:

I don’t know anything about inspiration because I don’t know what inspiration is—I’ve heard about it, but I never saw it.

I absolutely love his response. As one of the titans of modern literature, Faulkner never calls upon inspiration as a a source. He adamantly refuses to believe that inspiration even exists.

He’s also known for having said:

I write only when I’m inspired. Fortunately I’m inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.

For Faulkner, inspiration was never a reason for writing or for not writing. He approached it as a discipline, a skill to be honed. It was never a matter of feeling the urge to write. Writing was a way of life.

A Morning Song

Again, it is morning. Body heavy and stiff, sunlight lithe and buoyant: it is morning and it is Sunday, and everything is always as it should be, even in the face of the most unknown.

Last night came the first drops needed to pull these hills from drought. They fell into the earth, the gutters, my window unit; they fell into the cracks of the sidewalk, the coffee shop; they pooled in my neighbor’s white plastic chairs.

Finally, after the flash and thunder, they gave way to morning. Of course, something always gives way to morning. The night can’t handle its own hushed activities, repressed fulminations. If morning didn’t cut off the night, then what would become of all of us? Awaking in its cold depths, aware of some implacable activity, a  place only my trusty space heater can reach, static energy without a locus.

On my desk I have a wooden picture frame etched with a nautical chart of San Francisco Bay. Angel Island, Yellow Bluff, Sausalito: they are all here, and whether or not you choose to forget the meaning of words and allow your tongue to speak only sounds, they are all treasures, phonetic masterpieces.

I imagine the boats pulling up to the islands this morning, floating airily on billions and billions of raindrops. The sun hasn’t been up over San Francisco for more than an hour or two now, and already I am jealous of their new-found morning, their sailboats lolling in the bay, the sounds of water and early light and banished night, the traps coming up out of the sea, and the sound of rain that comes up below them as they’re hauled up onto the deck.

As much as my body resents the water, I’m imagining these morning-stiff joints, fortified with coffee, stretched out on the deck of some sailboat like the Vitruvian Man, my aches rolling out into fingertips and toes as the boat rocks back and down, fore and aft, scudding on near nothingness, and all tension vaporizing with each lapping of the waves.

Sunday morning rouses an urge within me to simply yaw into infinity. But then, of course, there would be no mornings; and, lonesome for the dawn, life would be but a constant returning, a hymn sans Mattins.

Found in Nashville

Earlier this week, walking out of my apartment at five o’clock in the afternoon, I could have melted into the asphalt. With temperatures over 100 degrees for days on end, it takes a lot for me to leave the house. But, I was overdo for a game of darts with some friends, so what else does one do?

Before meeting up with my friends, I ducked into one of my favorite local bookstores, Bookman Bookwoman, to kill some time. Of course, it didn’t take long before I found a book I couldn’t pass up: The Made Thing: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern Poetry.

The most memorable artist of this crew of anthologized poets is David Bottoms. Out of the seven works Mr. Bottoms has in the anthology, one is particularly remarkable: “Under the Boathouse.”

In this piece, we follow the poet in the arc of a dive that takes him under a lake in “a fog of rust,” where he becomes trapped, a hook through his left hand. Flailing like “a bait hanging up/instead of down” he’s looking toward the sky, helpless, awaiting his salvation, which comes in the form of his wife.

But, it’s not until the last line of the poem — when we finally take our first aching breath as readers — that we actually hear of the hook that has held the poet submerged.

The beauty of his poetry is the suspense, the element of the unknown that draws us under, holds us close, and refuses to let go. And, when we’re released, we wonder how we were living before the experience, before the work of art unfolded.

“Under the Boathouse” can be found here.

Writing is Persistence

A week ago I was able to revisit one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Tennessee, Cummins Falls. There are several plateaus that terrace downward to a pool below the falls just before the water spins out into the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River. At 75 feet, Cummins Falls is an impressive sight. But, it’s not always the largest figures that demand the most attention.

These shallow shelves of water below the falls were full of fish: tiny minnow-esque creatures that drifted in nebulous schools, merging and dissipating in furtive motions.

And, no matter what came their way, they remained on their small, waterfall shelves. Simple, shallow grounds, but they could not be pushed on.

There is no key to writing, but there’s something to be said for persistency. Sitting down every day with a cup of coffee next to a portable heater for warmth and just starting.

Hemingway said, “Work every day. No matter what has happened the day or night before, get up and bite on the nail.”

Perhaps he meant that there are those who claim their 10×10 shelf of water below the falls before moving on to the next one. And when they move on, they move to swim.