THE CRAZY LADIES HOUSE!
Near Mora, Minnesota
Brasseries on the porch!
Nuns riding bicycles!
This place is crazy!
In Missoula Sean stopped the car at a Subway fast food restaurant.
"Nothing spicy on mine." said Mary. Her nausea hadn't returned, but she was still a little on edge from the near miss with the deer. "I'll stay in the car, I'm going to check in back in Seattle." Mary called her point person at the legal firm handling the ADR sale.
"Robinson here. What do you have for me?"
"Ms. Robinson, have you seen any of the on-line tech magazines? You and Sean have gone viral. Tech Creeper has you plastered across their home page."
"I've haven't looked at the internet for a couple of days. We're on vacation. What's the gist of the story?"
"The story is harmless enough, it's about how you and Sean cashed in on the ADR sale. It's the backlash in the forums that is kind of scary."
"The usual jealously trolls I suppose?"
"Well, its gone beyond that, the misogynists and racists are out as well. It's as if there is a concerted attack on your character."
"Not much they can do about it now. The checks have been cashed."
"I hope not. Where are you two? When will you be back? The media has been calling us all day for interviews." The lawyer sounded peeved.
"Nobody's business. I'll check in every couple of days, keep a log, if something really important, like a subpena, comes up Sean or I can be back in 48 hours. Absolutely no interviews—it only feeds the trolls. The internet will forget about us in a couple of weeks."
"Billing to be sent to your home address?"
"Yes, don't worry, I'll be back in net thirty days."
Mary ended the call and closed her eyes. When Sean returned with the food he found Mary sleeping.
"Oh, I must have dozed off."
"What's the news out of Seattle?"
"Oh not much, just that we're internet celebrities."
"Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"
"Sean, you know I've always been one to stay out of the spotlight."
"Yes, it's to be expected when you're running a private investigation service."
"There's more to it than that. I learned early on that as far as business is concerned my race and my gender are debits. For most men, the tech world is just like any other business enterprise: a woman on top is a woman who needs to be shown her place. The anonymity afforded by the internet allows the real depths of hatred to be revealed. Evidently, due to the ADR sale, I've now become a target, and you as well."
Sean paused a moment before speaking.
"There isn't anything we can do about it, is there?"
Now it was Mary's turn to pause.
"Sean, let's make a family, a real family, not just you and me and the baby, but your Aunt Tina, my step-mother, maybe even my stepfather, maybe more kids someday, but something more than being just a man and a woman who happened to 'get together' for a while. The internet stuff will fade away soon enough, but we can build something real together."
"You didn't mention my father. Billy thought he killed my mother."
"That's a real problem. But how can you mend a broken heart? His whole life is based on cruelty, selfishness and bullshit. Let's let that problem ride for now, but think about what I'm saying. We have to come to grips with the Icelandic child as well."
"You're right, I understand what you're saying."
They ate in silence. Finally, Sean spoke:
"Mary, we can do this. I'm with you all the way."
"May it always be so."
Sean drove the rest of the day, with Mary drowsing from time to time, but when they got close to Billings she suddenly sat up.
"Oh Sean, have you ever seen the mountains so beautiful? All the colors are so vivid, it's as if I'm seeing the world for the first time."
"It's beautiful, Mary, its all so beautiful."
Waiting for Lady Gaga II
Harpa, Reykjavík, October 2012
Lost in the now. A non-event, nothing happened. Yet within these organisms are billions of cells, each with its own strands of DNA, each cell living in coordination with the others. The code is complete; it has been refined through thousands of generations. Pinnacles of evolution, now motivated by a culture of conflicting desire and conformity.
Flowers! The Movie!
A nice hot 'n humid summer evening. Sitting on the open front porch with a southwest breeze bringing me dozens of scents. Every once in a while one will come to the forefront of my consciousness, as if to say "smell me! smell me!" Flowers all around; the cool and wet spring was good for something. This 3-D technicolor production (in Odor-Rama) is presented for a target audience of bees and bugs, I just snuk in when the usher wasn't looking.
Text originally posted July 21, 2004
Image captured July 20, 2014
On the Road, Again
Mary and Sean were in Idaho, driving through the Clearwater National Forest, heading into Montana. Mary was taking the first shift, hoping that by driving her nausea wouldn't flare up again.
"I was never really aware of how big the world was until I helped my step-mother move." she said. "When I was young my world ended in Seattle."
"She's in Santa Fe, right?" said Sean.
"Yes, she's been down there for fifteen years, since the divorce. She loves it there. It's too dry for me."
"Do you ever hear from your step-father? He's still in Seattle isn't he?"
"He lives in the University district. He doesn't have much to do with either of us. I don't think he was ever comfortable with the idea of adoption; I've never quite figured out the dynamic between him and my step-mom. He acted like he was an open-minded, progressive male, but I think that really he thought that adopting a black child would prove to the world how morally superior he was. I would characterize him as a 'distant' father."
"What about your step-mother? Why did she want to adopt?"
"She wanted a baby, she was infertile, although later on, when I was a teenager, I think she regretted it."
"Was that because you are black?"
"No, it was more about the fact that she could never appreciate my nerdiness. I think she read too many articles about D&D players being devil-worshipers. When the internet took off in the mid nineties and I started to make money gaming she thought I was doing something illegal."
"Which you were?"
"I understood how to game the games. It was my 'gateway drug' to data search."
"And now you're going cold turkey?"
Mary paused before answering.
"I never thought I'd say it, but I've come to the conclusion that there are better ways to live than interacting with a computer all day."
"Is that one of the reasons you got pregnant?"
"Having a baby is beyond reason. My new role module: Supermom. Besides, your Icelandic love-child needs a cousin."
"Hmm. It seems like a pretty half-baked plan for starting a dynasty. That child could be Billy's, however." said Sean.
"A cousin either way. I do wonder why you got that photo of the child, with no letter attached. I would think that his mother would be looking for some child support, or at least an acknowledgement. I could have our lawyers look into it when we get back."
"A guilt trip? Or maybe the Senator's lawyers got to her first. He has a history of paying out hush money."
"If they know about her and the baby. You didn't tell anyone about her, did you?"
"Sally O'Donnell knew I had seen her, but that's all, as far as I know. They thought she was one of Billy's girlfriends. I don't know if they followed up on her."
"That's the Montana border ahead, Missoula is another 45 miles, let's get something to eat there and then you can drive. I want to check in with the legal team."
"Cold turkey, huh?"
"That sounds delicious. No, I just want to see if anything happened while we we're gone."
"And I should call Tina; let her know when we'll be there. If we push it, we can make Rapid City tonight and Decorah tomorrow night."
"That's a couple of very long stretches. We should stop in Billings instead; we've got time. Let's stay off the interstate, the world can get along without us for another day. Call your Aunt tomorrow."
"Sounds like a plan… a fully baked plan."
"I'm starting to like being out of the loop… " Mary said, "… no clients, no employees, no one scrutinizing our every move."
"Inscrutable Supermom. I like it."
"Please don't become a 'Distant Dad.' I need you in on this."
Mary slammed on the brakes as a mule deer bounded in front of the car, missing it by inches. The scent of burning rubber filed the cabin. Visibly shaken, Mary pulled the car over to the side of the highway.
"Are you alright?"
"That was too close." Mary said, turning off the engine. "I think it's your turn to drive, Sean."
They got out of the car to change places. After undergoing a couple of hours of road noise, the silence of the forest was palpable. Sean put his arms around Mary, she was trembling.
"Are you sure you're all right?" asked Sean.
"I'll be fine in a minute. I… when that deer was in front of us, it turned and looked at me, there was something in the eyes… it was as if it knew me."
Thirty Years Ago…
Stacy, Minnesota, July 1984
Looking back at the pictures of the kids is always bittersweet, although there is little to be gained in going over the "what might have beens". The kids turned out OK, in spite of some setbacks and lapses in judgement on my part. These were good times, to be sure: the children were given the freedom to play, fresh air, good food to eat, clean water to drink, a safe place to sleep; with each new day offering new opportunities.
That is more than many kids have; the horrid wars of hatred still fester, stealing the childhoods of many. But this day, thirty years ago, this day was perfect.
Down at the end of the block is Sam's place, noteworthy for its magnificent yard full of gnomes, milk cans, butterflies and other decorations. As long as I've lived here the spindly fence around Sam's yard has always been in a state of decay. Sam always patches it up, I'll see him working on it while out on my evening constitutional. I'll say hello, he doesn't talk much, but is always friendly.
This has been a 'good' year for garage sales. Good tools, three boxes full of primed cedar shakes (which I put on the front of the garage to match the house) and some other supplies I know I'll use. Of course when ever things like that are for sale it means that another old guy has hung it up, either incapacitated or gone, leaving a widow and/or children with his lifetime of accrued possessions. My turn is coming, I've already gotten rid of a lot of stuff I thought I'd never use, but a lot remains. Actuary tables suggest that I've got at least a couple more decades to go, but then again, it could be tomorrow. And if I do go longer the house will need upkeep, so I keep buying stuff.
It's been a couple of months since I've seen Sam.
His fence needs work.