Monday, July 31, 2006

Hunting, Gathering and Fishing

Goodness, you're looking fine tonight! Girl what's gotten into you? I know that you have been known to play the field, but you'll be drawing a crowd if you go out looking like that. I thought you were looking for a man, not an army! You'll be a gatherer in that get-up, not a hunter. What's that? You have a man picked out already? Only he doesn't know it, right? So that's what that make-up and those fine clothes are for- they are your lures, your hooks, lines and sinkers. Baby's going fishing, and heaven help the man who thinks he's safe.


Comments: 2


Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Music Store

Located between the Polka Dot dairy store and what was once a candy store, Amanda Bacon's Music Studio was an anomaly. Run by a fiesty sexagenarian, this small shop, in what was otherwise a cultural desert, sat there unpretentiously for years, with Miss Bacon making a modest living giving piano and stringed instrument lessons. This business model changed abruptly when a certain combo from Liverpool appeared on the Ed Sullivan show. Suddenly dozens of teen-aged boys were seen there loitering, buying guitar picks and strings, even taking lessons. And they came face to face with the real deal, Amanda from Kentucky, who was roots music personified, before anyone even knew what that was. I'd stop in almost weekly, my purchases minor, but every visit was a little mini-lesson in some facet of guitar-playing. "Now I'll sell you those picks, two for a quarter, but don't go bendin' 'em, hold it just so, no, no, like this..." she had a lot of students now, but she was always looking for more. She sold instruments too, and amplifiers. Amanda was on a roll.

I drifted away from her little shop and went elsewhere, to places that opened doors for us: "...buy a set of gear and we'll see to it that you get a shot at the teen fair, in August..." Amanda couldn't compete with that. She persevered for a few more years, but the music that young boys wanted to learn to play became louder, stranger, darker. She closed her store, and moved back "home".

My band had actually gotten to the point of playing out a bit, one day we had a chance to attend a practice with a "name" local band, a band that had just put out a record. They let us play on their gear, and made some helpful comments and gave us words of encouragement. "So where are you guys from?" the lead guitarist asked. We told him and he immediately broken into a wide grin. "You bought your first strings from Amanda Bacon, right?" Half of that band had taken lessons from Amanda for years. "She taught us almost everything we know about guitar pickin'."

So Amanda was cool, hipper than me to be sure, and I bet that she would have even appeared cool to The Beatles, too (to George, at least.)


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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"Blown Away"

It's staggering, and almost amusing to me now. I said almost. However, I’m still sore about the subject, and I don’t want to talk about it. Yet, I know that if I keep silent about it, the neighbors sure won't. I think we should move, but even Joanie still giggles whenever the weatherman so much as mentions the word, "storm." I thought I had raised her better. Three days is enough to forget one little incident, but nobody will let it go. The Lowensteins are having a dinner party this evening, and I just know that somebody will bring it up. I'm the only person in the apartment building that doesn't take life for granted.

I'll admit that a pinch of it did give me a chuckle, but only once because the situation had been gravely serious. I don't like to joke about it, but there I was on the brink of death and I stopped at my mailbox to see if I had any mail! I guess I somehow thought of Gary Holloway at Dominion Electric, thinking about how I had tragically died in the midst of paying my electricity bill. There I'd be, licking the stamp, and a tornado blows me away along with the stamp, and even the payment itself. I wondered whether he'd feel guiltier about the fact that I had been blown away or the payment. This is the damndest thing I could've been thinking about, but you try nearly dying sometime and see what you find yourself contemplating.

I had heard the initial peal of thunder when I was carrying in the groceries. The sky looked very suspicious and bordering on a greenish color, which we all know is a sure sign that a cyclone is coming. During the ride home, I had also heard a snippet on the radio about a tornado. Naturally, I was upset. I had just purchased two weeks worth of food, and now it was going to be blown away! Not only that, but I would probably die too. I felt sick. This was when I checked the mailbox. In the heat of the moment when I had encountered my own mortality, I had forgotten that the electricity bill wasn't due for another two weeks.

I didn't bother to shut the front door after I ran into the apartment building. In my hurry, I had to leave the groceries in the Taurus. What would it matter? The food and the car were going to be blown away anyways, and I needed every precious second to get my affairs in order. It made me mad to think that the tornado was going to be the one to enjoy the frozen cheesecake I had purchased, and not I.

There was no time to get a lawyer to help me with a will. That was entirely too obvious. He would be blown away and never get here, or he would get here and we'd be blown away together. I didn't want to spend my last few moments with a sleazy lawyer. I managed to come up with a makeshift will in my head that I would email to my cousin, Bernice. She's only a hairdresser, but I'd trust her with this information more than I would a lawyer. Besides, I intended to give her the pearl earrings that Aunt Carol left for me that she’s been coveting them ever since I got them. That way, I knew she'd make sure my wishes were followed. I knew that the computer had to be disconnected immediately during a storm, but what was the point? It was going to be blown away too, which was a shame because I had just purchased it for Joanie’s amusement. You know kids these days. If it has buttons and a colorful screen, they have to have it. It took me all of two minutes to type

the email and send it. That was taken care of. Another small boom of thunder

reminded me that time was of the essence. I knew that I should call my husband,

Mark, to say our final goodbyes. Despite the fact that our lives were ending,

the bastard hadn't bothered to come home and hold me so we could be blown away

together. I thought about dialing the office to yell at him, but I know that

it's dangerous to talk on the phone when the weather is like this. I also

thought with dread that perhaps my soulmate had attempted to come home,

but perhaps a premature twister had already blown him away. I clutched the

locket he had given me last week for our anniversary, and tried not to get too

emotional. There was still so much left to do...

All of the excitement made me have to go to the bathroom, but I immediately decided against it. I just knew that as soon as I sat down, a stray bolt of lightning would zap the toilet, which I'm certain is chock full of metallic mechanisms that probably used to be part of a lightning rod, like the one on top of City Hall. Now, if I was going to die, I didn't want it to happen while I was relieving myself. It was different for Elvis. It's perfectly okay if you're the King.

I wondered if I would meet Elvis in the afterlife. I knew that I should've been wondering if I would run into my Great Aunt Tootie or my old border collie, Rufus the Fourth (and Third and Second and so forth), but since I was already thinking about Elvis

Then I got embarrassed. My little girl, Joanie, isn't an Elvis fan. Never has been, never will be. Even when I took her for rides in the Taurus when she was an infant, Joanie would bawl every time she heard "You ain't nothin' but a hound dog, cryin' all the time," which is very ironic and a cute anecdote for parties. But this was no time to think about ironies, parties, or crying houndogs.

Joanie would certainly embarrass me if we saw Elvis in the afterlife. She'd make that face she makes when she's especially disgusted with something. It isn't the adorable puss where a child will stick out her tongue and blow a raspberry. Oh no. Joanie has this way of sneering. Bless my baby's heart, but she can make the ugliest faces when she wants to. I do not exaggerate when I say that her sneer shoots upwards and doesn't quit until it reaches the Pearly Gates. Sometimes I worry that she will poke her eye out with that sneer. I certainly don't enjoy looking at her when she’s like that, and I just knew that Elvis wouldn't approve of it either. I made a mental note to remind her before we died not to do that if we met the King.

Not only did she need to be on her best behavior for Elvis, but also I was positive that we'd meet other important, historical figures that she wouldn't approve of. Sometimes children don't know when to act mature, which breaks my heart. I decided to jot down a key list of people and possible greetings as well as clever one-liners. What if there are banquets in heaven? I would've been so ashamed if I couldn’t snag an invitation! I had just written down the twelfth person on my list when I heard Joanie's school bus pulling away and my drenched baby walking through the front door...


Believe me when I say I nearly burst into tears when I saw my Angel standing there dripping wet and grinning. It's such a tragedy when life is yanked away from the innocent. I couldn’t think of what to say to my precious darling to give her comfort at a time like this. So I kept a cool head as best as I could without allowing so much as a quiver in my voice.

"Sweetie, you're soaked!" It's all I could bear to say.

"Hiya Ma! Yeah, I was just jumping in these really, really huge puddles in the front courtyard!" Joanie grinned wider, pleased with herself.

I nearly lost it, and tried to think of what else to say when another crack of thunder, which was particularly menacing, broke my concentration. I dropped to my knees and clutched Joanie’s shoulders, having lost my cool.

"Joanie, say your prayers! This is the end! It's official! I'm sorry I never got you that pony, but I did get the roller-skates you wanted. I just thought you should know that. I did get the roller-skates. I tried, didn't I? You love your mom, even when all she can do is try for you, right? I cant believe my baby will never turn nine! You were just shy of a day too! When we meet Elvis, don't shame me! Be polite, smile, and don't say a word! Oh, I wish your daddy was here right now! We'll never get to take you to Disneyworld! I'm so, so sorry Joanie baby! The tickets are in the upstairs bureau, but what good will they be now?"

I hadn't noticed that Joanie wasn't as upset as I was. I was swaying back and forth with her in my arms, and she was positively limp. I assumed she was in shock and couldn't react just yet, so my rant continued for a few more minutes.

A polite knock on the door interrupted me, and I was flabbergasted. Who would knock that socially when the end was near? I was still crying when I opened the door and spied my next-door neighbor Helen, who had been vacuuming a few minutes earlier. The nerve of that woman. I needed to listen for sirens going off, and she was vacuuming?! I was having a private, final moment with my only child, and then she has the gall to knock as if it was the perfect time for a chat! I was infuriated to say the least.

"Meryl! I'm so glad you’re home! My little Nancy was wondering if Joanie would like to come over and watch a bit of television before dinnertime. I thought while the girls were doing that, we could discuss next week's fundraiser at the church over a nice, hot cup of Chamomile tea. Sound good to you, M?"

She was so calm and collected. I envied her for that, but I told her to cut the act.

"Meryl, what in heaven's name is wrong? You look like you've seen a ghost!"

I thought it was apparent, but I squealed, "Don't you listen to the radio? A tornado is coming!"

Joanie missed this portion of the conversation; she ran next door to tell Nancy she'd be right there after she grabbed her favorite doll. Of course, she came back at the moment of my embarrassment.

Helen said without missing a beat, "Meryl honey, the tornado watch is all the way in Fairfax County and it ended ten minutes ago. If you'll look outside, you'll see that the sun has come back out already. I think you need that tea now."

Like I said, I don't want to talk about it. The worst part about it is Bernice came by today to snatch the earrings I promised her, and Joanie won't shut up about how excited she is about going to Disneyworld...


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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

It feels like I'm home, the way this place smells of the sea.

Right from when Delhi became a maze of red, white, and blue dots from the plane window to now my impression of Chennai has been that this city is chock-full - and I mean that in the most positive way - of helpful people. My co-passenger on the plane was a Rotarian entrepreneur who game me his business card and invited me to dinner with his family. When I was stumbling under the weight of my suitcases, another guy appeared out of nowhere, and helped me with the trolley, wheeled it till the car, and smiled graciously while I mumbled an inadequate thank you.

Yes, each and every person I have met so far has only been eager to help, smiled patiently as I have first blurted something in Hindi and then gone on to English, and has tried to make my life better in whatever way they can. But I'll have to be careful. My friend warned me over last night's dinner of Fish Kuzhambu (pronounce Kolambo) and rice, "All the men will fawn over you, but you'll have to distinguish between affection and lechery."

I am living in the company guest house in a place called Thiruvanmayur. It is a huge farmhouse, with mango trees and chickens in the garden. In fact when my HR manager said, "Don't be in a hurry to look for a house, you can stay in the guest house for as long as you want," I could weep tears of gratitude.

I haven't seen much of the city yet. I know Mount Road, which is like the Ring Road of Delhi, and pretty much connects all important places in Chennai. I have seen the Saidapet bus stand. I have seen IIT Madras. And I saw TIDEL Park, which is really impressive, in that it houses about twenty software companies, and has a book store and a foodmart and what not.

I totally love my office people. Working here's going to be easy and friendly I think. I know. My cubicle is another story people! I am on the seventh floor and right beside a glass window. While I type this, I look out and see a lot of Chennai - houses, roads, and a lot of coconut trees.

So overall, I'm good. I'm happy. I'm a bit of alright, really. And yes, the blog continues.

~RS
February, 2005
Used With Permission


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Monday, July 24, 2006

A Madras Shirt



As a teen, one of my few articles of clothing that made any sort of fashion statement was my Madras shirt. There was a brief craze, about 1964 or 1965, where the junior high boys had to have a "Madras" shirt. Woven in a wild plaid, colored with dyes that bled, this simple garment was almost certainly my first tangible reference to Indian culture (the incense and Ragas came later.) Now, India is everywhere. The good (Bollywood films and their westernized imitations) the bad (nearly every day I get a telephone credit card solicitation from an Indian call center) and the challenging (Thomas L. Friedman's The World Is Flat goes into great detail about the growing Indian economic influence.) The media in the USA has finally (!) become aware of India (although we still don't have as much coverage of Indian politics and internal affairs as we did 40 years ago) -the recent Time magazine cover was a symbolic step in the right direction.

I still have a Madras shirt (not the same one!). Madras, also known as Chennai, is one of the new technological centers of modern India. A certain much admired contributor to this humble blog lives there. Things are coming together, faster and faster. Fasten your seat belts, we're in for a bumpy (but fantastic) ride.


Comments: 1


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Hot Fun In The Summertime

Little Ollie Cabin.
July 12, 2006
Naked

As usual, by the time one gets into a vaction routine, the trip draws to a close. Earlier, I had retrived my canoe from its hiding spot near Swamp Lake and portaged 100 rods (1650 feet) to Poplar lake. (Non-stop!) I had finally come to an uneasy truce with the Bugs (a little mosquito netting), with the Forest and the Lakes and my own no-longer-aching body; what was at first hard work is hardly an effort now. I traversed Poplar, and floated the canoe through the small shallow channel to Little Ollie. I cruised up to our dock, where the Weaver was waiting, reading her "lake book" (JPod, by Douglas Coupland- highly recommended.) I went up to the cabin, stripped, and poured myself a glass of Cabernet Savignon (Bourgeon De Cassis, 2003- OK, I guess- I am so gauche as to pour it over ice.) This is the life...

...I hear the Weaver returning, I will have to put something on, if only to stop the laughter...

Batty the Outdoorsman


Comments: 1


Friday, July 21, 2006

Message In A Bottle

I found message in a bottle. Floating on the etheral electronic ocean, it washed up on my laptop with a story that was new yet familar.

It told of dissatisfaction, with work, with life, with one's spouse. The part about the avoidance of intimacy stirred up memories of long ago, another life really, with another partner. We were two fine minds, certainly. Two minds that ruled the bodies we inhabited. Which was why we were miserable. Stimulated by everything in the world but each other. Were we afraid of our bodies' hunger? Or was it that we could not allow the small death to overwhelm us, to lose our self-control, even for an instant? Was the abyss of nothingness so terrifying that we could not face it? Loveless days turned into weeks, and weeks into months.

Was it that our intimacy was never free of shame, of bad feelings mixed with the good? If so, then when would it ever be so? Not tomorrow, or with another partner. The way one has sex says a lot about a person's sensibility, realms of imagination and perception. Some people see greater worlds than others. But the basis for being a couple is commitment to striving for unification of mind and body, of one with the other. It is this act of striving, not the the act itself that brings meaning. It is a biological birthright and a psychological imperative. What is the alternative?

We finally did split up. We did work it out, each in our own way. Being half of a couple is a peculiar thing. But it is something. And it can work, if you just give up a little of your self and embrace a little of the not-self.

I put my message in a bottle, and hit "send".


Comments: 3


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Choices

When my laptop died (is five years too soon or not soon enough?) I was forced to make a decision. My options:

1. Fix the old one- With a major motherboard-CPU repair, that seemed pointless.
2. Go down to Best Buy and get a cheesy PC- Just like my work environment- (shudder.)
3. Quit home computers altogether- And give up the daily scintillating insights from my Significant Others? Not bloodly likely. (You know who you are.)
4. Bite the bullet and get a new Mac. OK, and done. Triple the machine (vís-a-vís my old iBook) thrice the memory, thrice the hard drive, sextuple the speed, uses the OS that I like, and no mouse. Track pads aren't for everybody, and I do have have a mouse if I really need it, I just find that a small notebook computer is so cozy and the pad (now with EXCITING TWO FINGER ACTION) completes the picture. It does have a built-in camera, however, which I promise to use sparingly.

Which leaves me waiting a week or two, sneaking in on my son's computer ("Don't change anything!") and $1600 poorer. I would have one by now, but the local Apple stores didn't have the configuration I wanted (in fact, they were out of a lot of items- it was pandemonium in there, did I hear someone say that Apple is dead?), I'd rather just get it directly.


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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mother And Child Reunion

Swamp Lake, BWCAW
July 9, 2006

Piloting a solo canoe has its own charms. The slightest movement results in a counter-movement, the smallest breeze will try persuading you to explore in another direction. Fishing from a moving canoe will offer you a chance to see a lot of a lake, especially the downwind side.

I had just caught a nice 2-pound Walleye, dinner for two, as it turned out. I began paddling upwind to let the canoe drift back over the same spot when an inhuman groan/grunt came from behind me. I turned and saw a majestic mother moose bellowing out over the water. She was evidently calling to her delinquent offspring who was swimming in the middle of the bay. The mother swam out and chastized the calf, and as she turned to go back toward shore she called as if to say: "Come on!" to which the calf responded in a similar voice (about an octave higher): "I'm coming!" The pair continued this conversation until they reached shore, with one final warning coming from Mama when the calf took an interest in my tiny craft. They retreated to the woods, I resumed my fisherman's toils, and peace was restored again to this corner of the BWCAW.

-Mark Trail, AKA


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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Marginalisation.

I think it is typical of me that my favourite moments of the day - the edge of the morning sun, the last breath of the day exhaled as twilight, and the driving wind that runs before the thunderstorm to herald its coming - are fleeting.

Blink, and you miss them.

And that is because my favourite moments, just like my favourite places, are right on the margin between being one thing and another.

Neither fish nor fowl, nor good red herring.


~RS
April, 2005
Used With Permission


Comments: 2


Monday, July 17, 2006

Down, Not Out...

The old laptop died yesterday, and barring a Lazarus-like revival, it may be awhile before Flippism Is The Key is back up to speed...


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Sunday, July 16, 2006


Knobs

Bakelite Knobs

Interface Between Man And Machine

Relics From The Golden Age Of Radio


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Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Secret Garden

Halfway up the Gunflint Trail
July 8, 2006

Little Ollie Lake is a small appendage on the eastern end of Poplar Lake. On Little Ollie's eastern end is a small channel, the start of Poplar Creek. This channel feeds an even smaller channel, so shallow that one needs to get out of the canoe and guide it under a canopy of overhanging branches, crouched on all fours, so as to emerge in a charming, secret, water garden.

Entering at dusk it is perfectly calm, even the flies have given up for the day (but not the mosquitoes!) Only about 20 by 100 yards in size, the gently curving pool ends in a natural dam of fallen trees. A riot of flowers- Queen Anne's Lace, Wild Iris, Water Lilies and other, more humble blooms surround you while little minnows race about your craft. You linger, time stands still as you steep in the natural beauty. The fading colors prompt you to return the way you came, leaving this bower and its secrets to be cloaked by nightfall.


Comments: 4


Friday, July 14, 2006

Family Values

Two Harbors, Minnesota
July 7, 2006

After three hours on the road (and six hours since breakfast) the need for sustenance became apparent. "The Vanilla Bean Cafe and Bakery"- how inviting! We pulled into the side parking lot and left the car to go inside. On the way to the front door we passed by a row of Harley-Davidson motorcycles- big ones. Oh my...could be trouble...a vision of Marlon Brando in "The Wild One" emerges in my fevered imagination...oh well, you can only die in a gang-fight once, right? We entered.

Inside, there were only frazzled tourists, like ourselves. No signs of the hooligans- perhaps they were at the bakery next door. The server bade us enter a side room, wherein she proceeded to sit us right next to the bikers! With leather jackets, chaps and proper motorcycle boots, their long hair falling down over their collars and...

...and it was carefully braided, on four young women and a girl, all absolutely beautiful in a fresh-air, wind-blown, healthy, no make-up way. Their parents sat in the corner, also in leathers, keeping an affectionate eye on the girls. When their food came, one of the Mothers led both tables in a silent grace. They ate their meal in a pleasant, congenial way, with no bickering or sibling jealousy. We ordered, and while we waited spent time admiring the "Coffee Art" which adorned the walls. A Finnish couple had perfected a way to make oil paintings with coffee as a pigment (think shades of brown) and, according to the guide, had exhibited in Finland, Iceland, California and Minnesota.

As we sat enthralled by all this beauty (the girls, not the pictures) the biker group began to migrate, from table to table, to the bakery next door and the bathroom. They then came back, one at a time, and proceeded to crowd into the corner until all nine were sitting at a table meant for four. One of the Biker Dads told a story, quietly, and then they arose, en masse, and departed.

Later, I mentioned to the Weaver that they were "Like the Amish, except they had Harleys."


Comments: 1


Thursday, July 13, 2006

The World's Best...

vacation? Pretty darn close. Not in the Vegas-glitz sense, not in the Vatican-Sistine chapel mode, it was just a cabin for two, all the woods and lakes and streams you'd ever care to explore, fresh fish to eat, a few bottles of wine, etc., etc.,... we were joined by our eldest son and his girlfriend who had gone DEEP into the BWCAW, returning to our cabin by the lake ("just look for the dock with the red cooler on it!") for an evening out at a nearby lodge, spying a moose and her offspring on the trip back (my second spotting of the trip) and then home, via Grand Marais, a tourist-artist colony-lumber town. We went to "The World's Best Donuts" (they were ok, I guess) listened to radio station WTIP, ("The World's Best Radio Station") if they did say so themselves. The DJ was a burnt-out hippie named "Rainbow Trout" who giggled a lot a said "oboy" about every other sentence.

But of course, dominating all of this was THE LAKE. Lake Superior, the world's best. If not the best, the greatest in terms of volume of fresh water. A lake deserving respect (many an ore ship lies broken on the frigid bottom) holder of secrets (100-year-old logs are dredged up and made into expensive veneer) and legends (the Indians called it Gitchee-Gumee, the Voyageurs plied its waters, even the Vikings may have traveled there.) Further south, in Duluth, ocean going vessels arrive and depart, an international seaport.

One out of three isn't a bad percentage. (Or was it two out of four?)


Comments: 2


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A letter to you.

So maybe love is meant to be a little imperfect.

Maybe love is meant to be about you saying something stupid in our most intimate moments and me smiling it away and tousling your hair instead. About sitting in the theatre together and knowing that we'd rather be watching each other at home.

And now, that I'm miles away from you, I'm feeling your eyes on me all the time.
I'm waking up alone in the night and reaching out for you with my eyes shut (and I'm blaming you for spoling me thus), but I'm only losing myself in the folds of a cold blanket. And I'm surrounded by people of so many pastel shades, while I'm only looking for your vibrant color.

Tell me now... isn't this slightly flawed love we share so much better than the ethereal head-rush of something that will never be? Isn't this what you'd always wanted?

Yours,
RS.


December, 2004
Used With Permission


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Friday, July 07, 2006

Gone Fishin'




Kautzky's Lazy Ike

Fishing Lure, Inherited From My Father

No Fish Were Harmed While Using This Device


-the professor has "gone up north" for a week of getting in touch with his inner walleye- to a cabin on the edge of the BWCAW, no TV, Phone, Internet or worries. See you later, alligator.


Comments: 2


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Broken Bike

It had started as one of those arguments about nothing. There really wasn't much arguing, just stony silence. We had just gotten off the middle shift (11 pm) and downtown Minneapolis was buzzing with activity on a warm summer evening. We got on our bikes, and took off for home. She had a thing about going down Sixth Street- it was not as busy as Fifth, but I thought it was a drag- cobblestones, poorly-lit and prone to visits from the "children of the night"- the vagrants and winos who crave the darkness. She veered off, I continued to Fifth.

I had gotten about three blocks down Fifth, approaching the bridge over the railroad tracks when I looked back. She wasn't there. Then I heard the sirens. I turned around and backtracked to Sixth. She was lying on the pavement, her bike lay near her with a twisted rim. The Ambulance had already pulled into the street, a Police car was parked diagonally on the cobblestones- over a mammoth pothole which was probably where she spilled. She was conscious, although dazed, the attendants led her into their vehicle and they were shutting the door as I shouted her name. She looked in my direction but did not connect. I spoke with the officers, they said she would be at HCMC for observation, she could pick up the bike at Police headquarters.

That might have been the beginning of the end for us. I wasn't allowed to see her (we weren't married) and the next day when I did pick her up I could feel the chill. We got the bike, I fixed the wheel, but what little rapport we had in our relationship dwindled. The quarrels and resentment grew too- birth control, a disastrous trip to England, and finally nothing. I thought I'd try my luck elsewhere, and eventually she did leave, at my request.

I thought I could be her man. I never knew what she thought I could be for her. A broken bike, with a bent wheel, going nowhere fast.


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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Not The Best Fireworks Ever

Barry, Brian and Me. On a juvenile fireworks shooting spree, through the northern fringes of Minneapolis, 40 years ago. I don't remember how I hitched up with those two: Brian the carefree, Barry the heart-breaker. Brian had just come back from South Dakota with a grocery bag of fireworks, his summers were a continous series of explosions. I had been to his house a few years earlier, his uncle and grandfather sat in the back yard with beer and eight-foot long strings of crackers, lighting them from their cigarettes one after another, for hours. It was in his blood. Barry, sinfully handsome even at 15, was a Bud Abbott to Brian's Lou Costello.

It was quite dark, after ten at least, and we made our way through various neighborhoods, randomly punctuating the cricket's songs with our explosive outbursts. We arrived at the Shingle Creek park, which had a sledding hill- the perfect site for shooting Brian's "big" rocket. We were trying to figure out a way to prop it up when we saw a squad car in the street below. We took off, laughing, in the other direction, over the creek where the police couldn't follow, heading off to the neighboring suburb, Brooklyn Center, leaving a trail of explosions on the way.

Even the most incorrigable delinquent can weary of this past-time, we finally found an empty lot where there was an old bucket that we could use as a launch pad for our mighty missile. All that running we did must have loosened the powder, when Brian lit the rocket it fizzled a bit, rose about six feet into the air and exploded in a shower of colorful sparks. We thought that was really hilarious. Especially when Brian noticed that his polyester shirt was riddled with tiny burn holes.

And, of course, by the next summer we could drive, take part-time jobs, go on dates, and have other kinds of fun/trouble. The most memorable skyrocket of my childhood was the one that was a dud.


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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

burning feet.

The sandals of my life, I guess, have met the hot summer asphalt of adulthood... all warm and gunky, trapping my shoes, leaving me either stuck there in my melting sandals... or running out and burning the pads off the bottoms of my feet as I search out some kind of shade.

ah.

Mixed metaphors and manic hyperbole, as I try to distract myself. But I'm left with no distraction and just a further feeling of non-accomplishment. a further reminder of what the hell I do with my time... brood, write occasionally... work in a job that's obscured in a bureaucratic mess... hoping to win the lotto, I suppose, or impress someone with my writings in some desperate painful hope to extricate myself from this mess... I can feel everything I hold dear slipping, the lines I swore never to cross getting fuzzier

Accuse me of laziness for not thinking that's the answer - compare me to burnouts and cripples and failures for it. But damn if it doesn't sound safe. Safe, stupid, fruitless, and arbitrary, but well-organized and constructed in a fashion where failure and success are easily rendered...

I am wasting my life, I think.
But not in the way that they think I am.

Stuck between hot asphalt and stupid sandals and the sun keeps getting hotter... Standing here for too long just makes me sweat.

~RS
April, 2005
Used With Permisssion


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Monday, July 03, 2006

Not-So Silent Night

Moorhead, Minnesota

Safely ensconsed in our chain-motel room, sheltered from the savage prairie heat and wind (actually, it was a delightful day) the Weaver and I settle down for a night of repose, recovering from our day's journey, looking forward to a family reunion the next day... Lights out...(click)

whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr

What is that noise?

whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr

Just the mini-bar refrigerator...I can get used to that, I suppose.

whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr

THONK!rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr

Now what?

rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr

Oh, I guess the A/C turned on, with its fan.

clunk...rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr

Now the A/C compressor turned off, the fan is still going...

rrrrrrrrrrrtickrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrtickrrrrrrrrrrrrtickrrrrrrrrrrrtick
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr

Great. A new tick from the A/C fan.

THUMP. The fan shuts off..

whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr

Drifting off to sleep at last...

whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr

zzzzzzzz...

whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr

THONK!rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr

Awake again.

THONK!rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
clunk...rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
rrrrrrrrrrrtickrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrtickrrrrrrrrrrrrtickrrrrrrrrrrrtick
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
THUMP.whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr

Let's see, about a ten minute cycle on the A/C, six times an hour, times 8 hours = 48 REM cycles interrupted...

THONK!rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
clunk...rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
rrrrrrrrrrrtickrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrtickrrrrrrrrrrrrtickrrrrrrrrrrrtick
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
THUMP.whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr

THONK!rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
clunk...rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
rrrrrrrrrrrtickrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrtickrrrrrrrrrrrrtickrrrrrrrrrrrtick
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
THUMP.whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!

What the...

BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!

Did the alarm clock get set by mistake?BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!Turn on light (click)BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!Press some buttons...BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!(click)"looking for a new or used car?"BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!It won't stop!BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!"...stop by West Acres motors with the finest selection" (click)BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!"IT'S THE FIRE ALARM!"BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!THONK!rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!
Get our clothes on...BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!
BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!...BEEP!
Go out in the hall, (click) strobe lights flashing...BEEP!FLASH!BEEP!FLASH!BEEP!FLASH!BEEP!
Down the stairs, with a dozen other bleary-eyed patrons...BEEP!FLASH!BEEP!FLASH!BEEP!FLASH!BEEP!
Through the fire door... (Ker-chunk!)BEEP!FLASH!BEEP!FLASH!BEEP!FLASH!BEEP!BEEP!FLASH!BEEP!FLASH!BEEP!FLASH!BEEP!
And out on the lawn.

A few minutes later the all clear is given (the DJ at a wedding reception thought it would be a good idea to turn on his SMOKE MACHINE!) and we all go back to our rooms.

OK. We settle down, turn off the light (click) and try to get back to sleep...

...

...

...

THONK!rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
clunk...rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
rrrrrrrrrrrtickrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrtickrrrrrrrrrrrrtickrrrrrrrrrrrtick
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
THUMP.whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
THONK!rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
clunk...rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
rrrrrrrrrrrtickrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrtickrrrrrrrrrrrrtickrrrrrrrrrrrtick
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
THUMP.whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
THONK!rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
clunk...rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
rrrrrrrrrrrtickrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrtickrrrrrrrrrrrrtickrrrrrrrrrrrtick
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
THUMP.whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr
whrrrr-ping-whrrrr-ping-whrrrr...


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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Another Question

Which is better: Your Cell Phone or a Phone in your Cell?


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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Living With Women

All my life, a stranger in a strange land. Since infancy I have been surrounded by women. Mother, sisters, friends and lovers, co-eds and co-workers. My formative years spent not with Playboy, but Redbook. Nancy Drew instead of the Hardy Boys. Always questions, always fascination, and, occasionally, answers. Questions like: "Where do babies come from?" and, at dinner one night: "Why don't we get some of those sanitary napkins?" I was only ten, I thought we needed to set a better table, I suppose.

Talk, talk, talk. I learned a few things, but as I grew older I was still pretty clueless (Was clueless?) I became a charter subscriber to Ms. Magazine. I left home to live with a woman. I learned some more, I learned that sometimes it isn't so nice, and sometimes it isn't nice at all. And sometimes I wasn't nice at all. But I still learned. I learned that some things about a woman are unpredictable, and I learned that that's ok. I learned that I could be just a friend, that was a hard lesson. I learned when to shut up. I'm still learning when to speak up.

We, as a species, have about ten million years of human DNA instructions in us, and millions of years more from our mammalian, reptilian and bacterial predecessors. Those things in us, the emotions, the hormones, the rages and fears, are part of what makes us what we are. They help us deal with the world. They hurt us in our dealings with the world. Men living with women, women living with men, it is a continual experiment, a billion variations on a theme.

I wouldn't have it any other way.


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