Tag Archives: Douglas Adams

The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

By Douglas Adams

Dirk Gently is a holistic private detective that solves mysteries by looking for the fundamental interconnectedness of all things, including his moldy refrigerator. Having been hired to help with a contract related to a potato of some sort, Gently first shows up to work more than 5 hours late to find his client recently decapitated. From there, he heads to a café where he steals both the cup of coffee and the book belonging to the woman sitting at the table next to him. Meanwhile, Kate Schehter, who had been involved in “an act of God” the week before (but which god, and why), does her own investigatory work to find answers for questions she doesn’t yet fully understand. Kate and Gently unexpectedly crash into each other (well, it was really just a fender-bender) down the street from a notorious hospital that seems to be covering up some information. After swapping stories, Kate and Gently part ways with the agreement to share any other information, however improbable, they find. As Gently continues on his unexpected day, he finds himself in a most unlikely situation. In fact, it is a quite impossible situation. But what cannot possibly be done must therefore be done impossibly, and Gently will do whatever it takes to solve the case.

“The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul” by Douglas Adams is the second of two novels in the Dirk Gently series, though the series does not necessarily need to be read sequentially. Adams introduces characters, storylines, plot twists, and non-sequitur explanations enough for the reader to just barely keep up with the fundamental interconnectedness of all things. As with all his other material, Adams describes Gently’s improbable world with wit and humor that is delightfully snarky without crossing into the realm of blatantly cynical. The storyline progresses with this tone in the familiarly unpredictable “one step forward, two steps to the side” that typifies Adams’ other writings. Upon first glance it seems impossible that all these tangential storylines and irrelevant details could possibly be related, but have patience. Adams, of course, finds a way to bring all pieces of the story together, emphasizing not only the fundamental interconnectedness of all things but also his ability to follow a story through every dimension of the universe and bring it all back to the task at hand. Raucous, wild, and unbelievably enthralling, Adams delivers yet another stunning science fiction gem.

This book had me rolling with laughter, almost to an inappropriate degree, when I read it in public. It was even more hilarious when reading in the privacy of my own home. Dare I say it, I love this book even more than “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series (blasphemy, I know). Astoundingly original, unbelievably far-fetched, and entirely satisfying, I can’t think of anything else to ask for in a novel. If you haven’t read it yet, put it at the top of your reading list. Now. You won’t regret it!

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Backyard Lessons from a Novice Homeowner

Having recently entered the level of adulting known as “Homeowner,” the past few months have taught me more than I thought possible about measuring responsibility and achievement, and added an entirely new category to my ideas of “productivity” and “busy-ness.” Always a student of life, I have gratefully, and sometimes grudgingly, accepted the many lessons I have encountered. This is a short collection of just a few of the lessons I have learned, and I am sure there are many more to come!

I am continually amazed at the astounding amount of life that exists in the nooks and crannies of my backyard, whether in the dirt, carefully nestled among the plants, or waiting to surprise me just beyond the steps of my back porch. This veritable microcosm of the eco-universe offers me a small-scale view of the grand systems of nature. A few of the key lessons I have absorbed from my time in this microverse:

  • Always use DEET when in the backyard for a period of longer than 30 seconds
  • The snake with the pretty brown diamond pattern is not your friend. Admire from a very far distance
  • When left to its own devices, the jungle will thrive
  • The ground is full of gross, squirmy, squishy things. Try to avoid stepping one them, but more so try to avoid looking at them
  • The air is full of gross, flying, buzzing things. Pretend they don’t exist
  • If you CAN”T EVEN, walk away and come back at a later time. It is more likely than not that the situation has resolved itself in the interim
  • Nature is living, breathing, evolving resilienceIMG_0714

In my attempt to convince the jungle it would rather be a backyard, I have learned the incredible value of persistence, persistence, water breaks, and more persistence. I have yet to learn, however, how to accurately estimate the time, energy and stamina necessary for any yard work endeavor. If we learn from our mistakes, I have quite a way to go before I achieve some level of education. A few of the things that have managed to stick in my head:

  • Do all things with enthusiasm. Dive in head first, even if you have no idea what you’re doing
  • Water is good. Water is great. Drink your water and rehydrate. Especially in the midst of a hot, humid, heat index-busting summer
  • Keep going, keep going, keep going
  • Even five minutes makes a difference
  • A helping hand (or a few!) can make a world of difference
  • Try again tomorrow

And of course, the whole purpose of having a back yard is to appreciate in awed stillness the miracle of Life, the Universe, and Everything (that is the purpose of a backyard, isn’t it?). What could possibly bring more satisfaction and a greater sense of connection than taking just a few moments to pause and exist, and then consider the impossibility that anything could ever be better than it is right now? A simple lesson here:

  • Life is good


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