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Serpent's Egg - Prologue
Soluble Words
A Ghost Between Us
Jane Meyers One
50 Things I've Done
The Real One (Part 5) The Real Story of Santa Clau...
The Real One (Part 4) The Real Story of Santa Clau...
The Real One (Part 3) The Real Story of Santa Clau...
The Real One (Part 2) The Real Story of Santa Clau...

Click to go to the most current Cliff Between the Lines
Life, viewed sideways. Emotions, amplified. Answers, questioned. Me, between the lines.

- A Wounded Heart, Who Can Bear?
- Drowning Under a Tidal Wave
- Clawing My Way to the Sunlight
- Yes, Santa Claus, There Is a Virginia
- Fugu
- Touching the Spirit
- A Hole in the Universe
- Riding on the Dreams of Others
- Turning Into a Shark
 - A Heart, Ripped Asunder
- Surrendering to the Roller Coaster
- Hunting in the Jade Forest
- Dodging the Shark
- Dancing With Invisible Partners
- The Captain and the Harliquin
- Courting the Devils
- The Captain Makes His Mark
- Mad Dog to the Rescue
- Innocent in the Big City
- Dropping the Ball Briefcase
- Scrambling Brains
- Cheating the Reaper, Again
- What If the Man Behind the Curtain Is No Wizard After All?
- All of Us Have a Soundtrack
- Working With Broken Machines
- Happy Anniversary, Baby
- Standing on Stars
- Running the Film Backwards
- Identity Crisis ("Who am I?")
- Can We Ever Really Admit the Desires of Our Heart?
- Forgiveness is a Rare Thing
- Having Your Heart Caressed By the Creator
- Working With Broken Machines
- A New Leg to Stand On
- The Real Spirit of Christmas
- Chatting With Infinity
- Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
- We All Have a Great Capacity for Loss
- Brushed Lightly By Might Have Beens
- We See the World Through Our Own Looking Glass
- Every Storm Passes Eventually
- Accidents Can Introduce Destiny Into Our Lives
- Freedom Depends on the Walls Around Us
- Pulling Aside the Velvet Curtain
- Riding the Razor's Edge
- Dying With Strangers
- In Your Face
- Between the Lines
- The Bobcat
- Angel With a Coffeecup
- Innocent in the Big City
- Chains of Gossamer
- Playing With Knives
- Stumbling Through Memories (Ooops)
- Picture This
- Running the Film Backwards
- Playing the Score, Tasting the Music
- Coins and Corals and Carved Coconuts
- My God, I Confess
- Exotic in Thin Air (Part 1, Speechless)
- Exotic in Thin Air (Part 2, Taxi)
- Exotic in Thin Air (Part 3, The Pan American)
- Exotic in Thin Air (Part 4, Guano)
- Exotic in Thin Air (Part 5, The Andes Express)

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"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."

Walt Whitman (1819-92)

"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."

Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)

And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:

The WeatherPixie

Saturday, March 06, 2004

In Your Face

Function: noun
Etymology: Latin revulsion-, revulsio act of tearing away, from revellere to pluck away, from re- + vellere to pluck -- more at VULNERABLE
1 : a strong pulling or drawing away : WITHDRAWAL
2 a : a sudden or strong reaction or change b : a sense of utter distaste or repugnance
3 : a feeling that can come on you suddenly in a grocery store

I had one of those spiritual life changing moments yesterday at the grocery story check out.

And no, it had nothing to do with the bill being higher than I expected or anything. It had more to do with my deepest beliefs and how I live them.

I was running into the store to buy a couple of items on our way to dinner at a Peruvian Restaurant last night. All of the employees know me by name, and they all stop what they are doing and tell me hello when I come in. I always smile and wave back, and speak to them when I check out. They have pretty bland jobs, and I know that not many people give them much respect, so I go out of my way to do it.

A lot of times I will make a special effort to compliment an article of clothing, a hairstyle, or something else that I know about them. "I still think those earrings are awesome, Cindy." "How's the burn on your hand healing, Olga?" "How's the massage business, Royal?"

(I should point out here that Royal is a professional licensed masseuse. Don't want to spread the wrong impression!)

Or, if the employee is Fico, I just wave, because he is from Peru and can't speak English. We just do the grin and howdy thing and he loves it. His wife Olga always calls me "Sir" like it was my first name.

Anyways, last night when we went in I noticed a new cashier, a Latin American or Mexican lady. As I glanced at her, it looked like she had a pronounced mustache. And something about it was disturbing to me. But that quickly passed as my wife and I wandered the store trying to remember what we had intended to buy.

A few cases of drinks and pieces of fruit later, we headed for the checkout lines. I look at the new cashier, my goodness that mustache is REALLY dark, how gross.

I hopped into one that was manned by Fico and Olga's daughter, a fairly pretty young girl with a huge smile. A lot of the time they all work the same schedule. Food Lion is truly their life. The lady in front of me only had a few items left to ring up when the line to my right emptied.

My wife says "Quick, go over there." And I look, its the new cashier. I tried to nonchalantly avoid going over there, I hate female mustaches, but its been said now so I run my cart over to her lane. I line the cart up and the cashier with the mustache turns towards me.

But it's not a mustache. It's a horrible, horrible harelip, far worse than any I have ever seen before.

She looks at me and says something to me. There is no possible way I can make it out, because its in heavily Spanish accented English, spoken with a harelip.

"Uh, Pardon?"

She looks me right in the eyes and says...who knows what, I still can't understand it.

So I do the failsafe maneuver (nod and smile), hand her my VIP discount card, and walk over towards the ATM terminal. Apparently that was what she wanted, as she started ringing things up and sliding them down towards Fico, who was bagging.

My heaven's, that poor lady, it looks like half her face is missing.

I try to avoid looking at her face, but darn it, after a smile and nod and hello at Fico, we had exhausted our common vocabulary. My wife had, of course, wandered off to look at a Glamour magazine, leaving me to deal with this alone. Figures, when I want small talk...

I am fiddling with my wallet so I won't have to look up. Now, I have a strong stomach, nothing much bothers me. I pride myself on being able to look beyond a deformity. But I was actually feeling sick to my stomach. This one was bad.

Imagine my surprise when I looked at her left hand, which was unadorned except for her wedding band.

To someone, this was the most important person in the world.

Here I was, trying not to look at her face, and somewhere someone was eagerly waiting on that face to come home to them tonight. How humbled can you be. Here I was, a person who prides myself on looking beyond the veils, and yet I could not make myself do it this time.

Inside of that misshapen face was a golden soul that God values very highly indeed, probably more so than many people that are pleasing to look upon. I had focused on the flesh, when God focuses on the heart, because that's where beauty lives, after all.

I can say that now, but I have to be honest and admit that at the time my mind didn't really go along that track. When she had me all rung in I said "Debit card, no money back" so she would not have to ask me. Of course, she didn't understand, so we had an exchange of debit/credit, and another one where I was saying "no money back" and she was responding "twenty back?" in her harelipped Spanish.

When I left, she said "Thank you, come again." I looked her right in the face, and realized what I think really broke my heart more than anything else.

With what she had, she would always be unable to smile.

Her mouth simply lacked the facility to move that way.

She would have to go through her entire life with a frown, no matter how joyful she was.

Well, I for one will not let her go without a smile whenever I am in there in the future to give her one of mine.

Somehow, in my heart of hearts, I know that she deserves it.

Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A word of optimism and hope. A "you can do it" when things are tough.
Richard M. DeVos

Permalink: 3/06/2004 11:48:00 PM |
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Friday, March 05, 2004

Stepping in Mud

Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English probleme, from Middle French, from Latin problema, from Greek problEma, literally, obstacle, from proballein to throw forward, from pro- forward + ballein to throw -- more at PRO-, DEVIL
1 a : a question raised for inquiry, consideration, or solution b : a proposition in mathematics or physics stating something to be done
2 a : an intricate unsettled question b : a source of perplexity, distress, or vexation c : difficulty in understanding or accepting
3 : result of one person lying to another person

I really hate dealing with human beings sometimes, ya know?

For myself, I am honest to a fault. I can't remember the last time I told a bald faced lie to anyone. I can't even remember the last time I invented one of those shifty half truth numbers. No one else can remember either.

Truth and honesty are important to me.

Dealing with someone on a truthful level, as I see it, is a sign of respect. Lying to someone is a clear message of grave disrespect for that person. Lying to someone clumsily is even worse.

OK, enough philosophy. Let's see if I can relate what just happened and maybe make some sense of it myself by doing so. I am doing some self analysis here, and you're invited for the ride if you like.

Fact #1: I am the Controller and Director of IT for my company, and work with several other members of management. One is the office manager, whose name is Mitsi.

Fact #2: As part of my job, I am responsible for computer security at my company.

Fact #3: We allow our computers to be used for personal purposes if such does not conflict with work duties or job performance. A lot of companies think that this would be stupid.

Fact #4: In order to make fact #3 work, there has to be an honest and open exchange of information between the desktops in the company and myself. That avoids serious problems, like viruses and whatnot.

Fact #5: In the past, I have been able to depend on that and not have to snoop around on other employees' systems. I educate them and depend on them to take proper precautions and ask questions when needed.

Fact #6: In October of this year I began to see some unusual activity on our corporate firewall. From a cursory glance, it appeared to be coming from Mitsi's desktop. About the same time, her AOL log in vanishes from my buddy list. We use our AOL connections for internal messaging and email. When I question her about this, she replies that she is now checking her email on the web interface and not starting the IM software.

Fact #7: Several times over the next month or two, I send her emails and they are not checked. I question her again, and she replies that she seldom checks that account. The conversation shifts and I never really get an answer to where I SHOULD send them to.

Fact #8: Four weeks ago, which would have been the beginning of February or so, she is out sick. Another employee needs to access the net and I start Mitsi's computer. The AOL companion starts automatically, displaying a log in that I had been unaware of. Its named "Onegrl4u2nv" or something like that.

Fact #9: I confront her about that the next day. She claims it was a log in she just created so that her boyfriend could get emails ("Onegrl4u2nv"?) She says that I had not asked her about log ins since it was created, so when she told me she had not done that it was not a lie. She also says that she was unaware that I had to be notified when log ins were created, etc. I inform her that yes, since the equipment AND the account were owned by the company, yes she did have to let me know about it.

Fact #10: I then asked her to add me to the buddy list on that account. This would enable me to track the usage. She replied that she never used that account.

Fact #11: Two weeks ago, her computer gets a really bad polymorphic virus. I have to spend the better part of a day trying to clean it. I don't want to think what would have happened if it got loose in our network. She says she has no idea how it got on there.

Fact #12: This week, she gets another one. This one is a trojan hijacker. I remove it. She says she has no idea how it got on there.

Fact #13: Last night, I stay after work to see if I can find the hole. I am going through her computer with a fine tooth comb, and come across the directory that was created on the unauthorized AOL login. It is dated 10/8/03.

Fact #14: Gravely suspicious, I run her AOL companion. She has stored her password, so I log in. Every person at our company with a computer is on her contact list EXCEPT me. In addition, there are about 30 more names on the list.

Fact #15: There are only two ways for this to have happened. Either she (1) typed all of those names in, or (2) used AIM to export her list then imported it into her new login, after which she deleted only my name.

Fact #16: I personally put through a 50% raise for this girl a year and a half ago. We had worked together and worked together well.

Fact #17: She, of course, denied all of the things I found, claiming that she never used that login and did not create the buddy list. These excuses are, of course, impossible. The only way that the buddy list could be there is to (1) run AIM and export from her main account, (2) switch to the new screen name and import the list, and (3) individually delete my name.

Fact #18: Although I do not think the AOL thing contributed to it, I still cannot determine the source of the viruses on her desktop, and she still denies doing anything that would have caused it.

Fact #19: She was about the only person I would have counted as a friend at work.

Fact #20: Once you have stepped in mud, does your foot ever really get clean until you wash it?

I really hate dealing with human beings sometimes, ya know?

I am so dissapointed.

Comments are VERY welcome on this post.

False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.
Plato (427 BC - 347 BC), Dialogues, Phaedo

Permalink: 3/05/2004 05:58:00 PM |
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Thursday, March 04, 2004

Grab your kids and leash your cats, its this blog's
Blogger Idol Week 7 Top Picks!

This week's field was small, but was really a field of diamonds.

I'm breaking with tradition this week, because I want to mention two entries in particular that were absolutely exceptional. So, instead of listing five entries in no particular order, I want to mention these two first:

  • ganns - Let's play with Week 6's Blogger Idols via a #1 Madonna song, exclusively on Superblessed.net! Wow. Talk about some work put into an entry! Ganns went through every Week 6 entry and placed paraphrases of their topics or authors into a rewritten version of Madonna's "Vogue." Not only that, but he linked them! Well done, Ganns, you share the top spot this week on this blog!

  • Lypton Village - This week's entry Notice that Amanda did not describe her topic, either here or in the entry itself. With the barest of introductions, she sends her message in images alone. Wow, for some reason, this one touches me deeper than Webster's can reach. These images caress your soul and whisper right to your heart. Well done, Amanda, stand right up there on the podium with the dancing geeks!

(Yeah, we tried to get real professional dancers, but they were way too expensive, so we had to get some geeks, they do it for free.)

Now, sharing second place we have the following great entries:
  • Bryan - playing church A point well made, and made poetically even. Not to mention that he's right, which helps.

  • alyshajane - Playthings...Whatever you do, don't discount this one just because it is a picture of toys... On simple things, broad statements rest.

  • Bridgier - Playing Myself. Intimate. Honest. Unreserved. Forgiven.

That's it for this week, but click on the icon above and read them yourselves. All of the entries were good, and you will find a few new blogs that you have never seen before.

Trust me on this, it's worth it.

Permalink: 3/04/2004 09:39:00 AM |
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Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Cheating the Reaper, Again

Function: verb
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin interruptus, past participle of interrumpere, from inter- + rumpere to break -- more at REAVE
transitive senses
1 : to stop or hinder by breaking in
2 : to break the uniformity or continuity of
3 : life, last night, 10:14pm


The Honda Civic spun off to my right with the full force of the impact, landing askew in the juniper bushes of a furniture store.

In an instant, I had gone from person-on-his-way-home-from-meeting to accident-victim.

I was driving home late, I had been to a meeting and had spent an extra hour or so chatting with a friend. Since traffic was light, I took a different way home than usual, and ended up on Broad Street, a four lane heavily traveled road lined with stores that runs the length of Richmond, VA.

I understand that this is the longest retail strip in the world, and it really is impressive. You can travel on and on and on and on and find hundreds of merchants and malls willing to take your money for all sorts of things. But last night, I was beat, and all I wanted to buy was some sleepy time at my house.

I hopped on to Broad from the interstate in my Jeep Cherokee. The street was pretty much deserted, seeing as how it was after 10pm on a weeknight. Those who had to go to work in the morning were already home or wherever they landed for the night, and those who didn't hadn't run out of steam yet and were still at their late night haunts. Everything was closed except for a few open-all-night gas stations.

I only had a few blocks to go, then I would turn off onto the road that would take me home. I looked at a gas station I was passing....the price was $1.53 per gallon. I idly wondered if that station was cheaper than the one I usually did business with. I looked ahead, expecting to see the sign for the Mexican restaurant where I would turn, I would see it any minut.....

BURGUNDY METAL, that's all I could see. It filled my field of view, way too close to be missed. I tried to hit my brakes anyway, but I hit the car before I could get the pedal pushed.

Someone had turned right in front of me, and there was no way I could have missed them.

The impact was horrific. I remember screaming tires as the car that I hit careened off the road from the force of the impact, across a side street that they had been trying to turn into, and up an embankment into a flowerbed on the far side. I remember the burned smell of my airbag going off and my detached wonder that it really DID work, after all, how neat. I looked and I still couldn't see the restaurant.

Amazing, how stupid your thoughts can be at a moment like that. I wonder if my last thoughts will be something noble, or something like "Whoa, so THAT'S what falling down the stairs feels like!"

Anyway, for a moment, I was stopped dead in the middle of the road, stunned. My seatbelt had prevented me from going through the windshield, but for some reason I was all wet...why am I wet? I did not seem to be hurt at all, no pain anywhere...

I got out and looked at the other car. The driver was motionless. I hesitantly went up to the car, hoping against hope that they were not dead or injured. It had been a violent impact.

It turned out to be a young girl. She was already on her cell phone, and had already called 911. Now she was on her second call, telling someone (who did not live in Richmond) to come immediately. (I found out later that this person was in another state, and had the presence of mind to then call the girl's roommate who was less than a block away, and who immediately came to the scene.)

I called my wife, "Honey, I've had a bit of an accident..." and she got out of bed and headed for the accident scene.

I realized my car was out in the middle of the street, and it was running, so I pulled it into the side street. It's hard to drive with a deployed airbag, by the way. Just in case you ever need to know that.

And why was I wet?

I realized that I had had a half of a Coke in my cup holder. On impact, it had literally smashed itself and the weight of it had torn off the cup holder. I was covered in Coke.

Even more amazing, in the back of my Jeep Cherokee, I had a case of Cokes. The impact had caused the entire case of drinks to burst out of one side of the box, yet the box had not even shifted position. That's how sudden and violent it was.

Fortunately, the worse thing that seemed to be wrong with the girl in the other car was that she was rattled and had lost her glasses. I got a flashlight and found her glasses for her, missing a lens which I could not find amidst the rest of the broken glass, and the police eventually called an ambulance to handle the shaken up part of it. Otherwise, I think she will be fine. (Note: Both cars, however, were total losses.)

It is always worth thinking about though, the fact that one instant you are driving safely down an almost deserted street, and the next the one car on that street could do something really stupid that could even cost your life.

We like to think that when we die we will have some time, at least a few moments, to "get things right."

Well, if you are thinking that way, I got one word for ya.


It can happen just that quick. You can be walking along and all of a sudden "Oh, hi, God. Nice place you got here."

Make sure you have an invite to the party.

And drive safely.

When anyone asks me how I can best describe my experience in nearly forty years at sea, I merely say, uneventful. Of course there have been winter gales, and storms and fog and the like. But in all my experience, I have never been in any accident... or any sort worth speaking about. I have seen but one vessel in distress in all my years at sea. I never saw a wreck and never have been wrecked nor was I ever in any predicament that threatened to end in disaster of any sort.
E. J. Smith, 1907, Captain, RMS Titanic

Permalink: 3/03/2004 04:21:00 PM |
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Playing the Score, Tasting the Music

The topic for this week's Blogger Idol is "Play." My entry's a bit late, but this is the soonest I could get it here.

Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -nies
Etymology: Middle English symphonie, from Middle French, from Latin symphonia, from Greek symphOnia, from symphOnos concordant in sound, from syn- + phOnE voice, sound -- more at BAN
1 : consonance of sounds
2 : To me, the feeling of music touching my soul

I don't know about you, but my life has to have a soundtrack.

Since as early as I can reasonably remember, music has had a place in my life. Some of my earliest toys were a plastic violin, a toy saxophone (only played one note, you know the kind) and a portable record player that would play all of my 78 records, and later my 45's and even my 33's till I got a real stereo.

I started actually playing music in kindergarten when we would march around banging on various instruments and singing who knows what. Hey, it was a parade, it was fun. I used to get the instrument that had a music box in it, and we would march around singing "Onward Christian Soldiers" or something while my "instrument" was happily chirping "Old Gray Mare."

But it had a melody. That was a lot better than the wood blocks and sticks the other kids had. At least to me it was.

I don't know how the teachers stood it.

In grammer school I picked up the tamborine as an instrument. I got one for Christmas, one of the nice ones with a drum head on it. I spent interminal hours in my bedroom playing records at almost full blast on that little record player and banging along on the tamborine. Usually I would want my parents to hear me too.

Which probably explains why my parents bought me a guitar the next Christmas, and not drums.

Over the next few years, the guitar became part of me. Within a year I had learned so much that my guitar teacher told my father he had nothing else to teach me. Before two more had passed, I had taught myself several styles on my own. I not only spent hours each day playing, but was now teaching lessons myself.

And music was consuming me. By now, records had been replaced with 8 tracks, and I had a voracious appetite for them. I had over 500, well over 500, and would sometimes buy them several at a time.

When I began to drive, my car could not move without a tape in the tape player. And it might be anything. Beatles, Hot Tuna, Yes, Johnny Paycheck, Peter Paul and Mary, even some symphonic works. And the list of eclectic music was huge too, probably 75% of my collection was of artists that hardly anyone had ever heard of, at least here in the US, groups like Zephyr, Head Hands and Feet, and Barclay James Harvest. Mixed in with the rest was a selection of Christian rock, which was my personal favorite, with groups like Love Song and Selah, and artists like Ron Moore and Larry Norman.

I would go to at least one concert each week, even if it was just in a small coffeehouse. I was also performing as part of a singing group called the "Reach Out Singers." We were named that because we were based in that coffeehouse, called "Reach Out." Somebody had a stroke of originality, I guess.

Onward to college, and now I was a professional entertainer as well as a student. Now I began to actually meet some of these people. I met Barry McGuire in my driveway when a member of the 2nd Chapter of Acts, who was at the time touring with him, stayed at my house. I even met Larry Norman, who was probably the very most influential musician of my youth.

I met some other musicians in other venues who did not have such a sterling resume. We won't go there right now.

I shouldn't have gone there then either, come to think of it.

I had some really nice guitars by this time, and all of them had names, all female of course. There was Roxy, and Ginger, and Euterpe (I know, sounds wierd, its the name of a Greek muse) and some others too. Had a few other instruments (banjo, etc.) but they went nameless.

There's just something about a guitar, ya know?

I was also writing music. I had written well over 100 songs. Some of them were actually good ones, too. I had taken a group into the studio to record several of them and even considered doing an EP or an album. At the time, that was a very pricey thing to do if you were solo without a studio backing you.

My soundtrack was now mostly my own music. Even when I was listening to other music, in my mind I was playing along, singing along. There was no longer anything between me and the magic. If I heard it, I could instantly play it on my guitar or even sometimes on piano. I had found my life's love and we were joined as closely as any two lovers on the planet. Music could fill my every sensory perception, I could smell it, breathe it, taste it, feel it, embrace it.

But then, in my senior year of college, everything changed in an instant. My life, which had been so intensely pointed in a single direction, would be derailed and sent careening off to the side in one moment of time.

One night, I had an accident. I sustained a traumatic injury to one of my eyes, my left eye. To my profound shock, I instantly and utterly lost my ability to play guitar, or any other instrument, and my ability to enjoy music as I had.

The soundtrack was just silenced, just like that. The magic was dead.

The best I can figure is that, since the left eye is "tied" to the right "creative" brain, the shock of the accident had done "something" in me that caused my left "analytical" brain to take over. The music stopped.

But at the same time I suddenly got really good at math and computers. I even ended up selling insurance, and doing most of the rating myself. Now I work in accounting and computers.

For several years I bought very little new music, and hardly listened to the radio. But gradually, the love filtered back, at least into my ears. Slowly, I found myself acquiring cassettes like I had previoiusly collected 8 tracks. Again, I centered mostly on the eclectic, buying a lot of Rickie Lee Jones, Joan Armatrading, Paul Winters and stuff.

Now, the world has graduated to CD and MP3.

My car cannot be driven by me without a CD in the player.

My CD collection grows almost daily, and I'm finding all sorts of cool artists out there, like Cory Sipper, Jump 5, Norah Jones, and the Whitlams.

Yeah, I love the Whitlams.

I'm writing music again. Granted, it's on the computer and I'm not singing any (yet) but it is writing. I started with techno and now I've done some world music and hard core rock. Not bad for a grandpa.

And the guitars.

The guitars.

Six months ago I opened the case of my favorite one, a limited edition Ovation Patriot, made out of Concord walnut named "Ginger." I took her from the case carefully, and found myself turning her towards me, and embracing her across the back that is molded and curved so perfectly, holding her like a lover, close to me, breathless with the distance of years and my still intense love for her.

And I cried. But they weren't tears of loss, they were tears of welcome.

For the magic was back, I could feel it.

It was there, just like before. After all these years, a spark deep within me survived and readily fanned into flame.

Hello Ginger, I have missed you so much.

I had not opened her case in over ten years, maybe fifteen. I turned her around and nestled her against me, then started to tune her, to hear her clear voice again after such a long time apart.

And she was still in tune.

After all that time.

She had been waiting too.

We played together then, my forty four year old fingers and her now mellowed and dusky voice, a perfect symphony, a reunion long desired and never hoped for, yet somehow, magically, there we were.

And there, in that place and moment, the soundtrack began, again.

Ah, music. A magic beyond all we do here!
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Socerer's Stone, 1997

Permalink: 3/03/2004 03:18:00 PM |
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Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Kissing the Dive Bomber

Function: intransitive verb
1 : to fall perpendicularly
2 : to drop sharply and abruptly
3 : to go where I went on last Wednesday

Wednesday morning was when the pot on the potter's wheel tore itself to pieces.

I had been riding a cycle since the lithium poisoning episode I mentioned a few days ago, and started hitting the skids over the weekend. Of course, that's when my wife wanted to go camping, so off we went to Virginia Beach.

Having grown up in Myrtle Beach, every time I go to another beach I mentally weigh it against my memory of the place where I spent so much time as a teenager. Every beach comes up short. Daytona, Wrightsville, Miami, all of them, so Virginia Beach is no exception.

Not to mention that a beach experience with my wife is somewhat different from a beach experience as a hormone laden teen, but we'll leave that right there.

I think "sedate" might be the word I'm looking for here. OK, really stopping now before I get into even MORE trouble...

Back to the topic.

Yes, I'm sorry, dear.

That's not what I meant at all, dear.

Uh, what do I mean then? Well, uh, ... Hey look! John Travolta is in the front yard! Really!

(Door slams)

(Clearing throat)

OK, where was I? Friday night.

We stop on the way out of town at a combination KFC and Taco Bell on Route 1 near I-95 in Richmond (at 8340 Brook Road, Richmond, VA if you're interested.) We have attempted to eat here several times. Yeah, attempted. The service is always very, very bad. This evening was no exception, as they were taking about five minutes per customer to fill the orders. They had a long line the entire time we were there, and actually served about 10 people.

Note to self: Next time, resist the temptation to believe in the ability of man to improve himself. At least in that restaurant.

We get to the campground about 9pm or so and set up camp. Then we confirm the fact that we have no bedclothes. 10pm finds us in the local Wallyworld shopping for sheets. I think. I don't remember much about the evening at that point.

By a little before midnight we're in bed. I sleep like a stone, and the next morning I don't want to wake up at 9:00.

Or 10:00.

Or 11:00.

My wife drags me out of bed anyway. I am a walking zombie, even after almost eleven hours of sleep. And I was sober, too.

So of course, I drove.

We did the bank thing, then the lunch thing, then went to the Marine Sciences Museum (Oh, for those of you tempted to click on that link, be warned....it loads slow and makes noise.) The museum was neat, even though I was feeling pretty lethargic. I had decided to be a trooper and HAVE FUN no matter what the cost.

Nothing, after all, is more fun than ordering yourself to have it. Yeah, right.

Toured the museum, watched the IMax movie, picked up some tacky souvenirs and off to town we went.

Now, this is right smack dab in the middle of the off season for Virginia Beach. Downtown is about half open, and a lot of the places are rolling up the carpet at 6pm. We barely make it into a couple of shops before they shut the gates.

In one of them I see what is absolutely the most tacky set of salt and pepper shakers I have ever seen. Each one is a Matchbox car with a small glass salt shaker hot glued onto the top of it. And there is no effort to disguise that, it looks exactly like what I just described, two toy cars with a two dollar salt and pepper set hot glued on top.

The price on it was $20.

We did not buy it.

We had eaten lunch at an Applebees. If you are not familiar with them, they are one of those cookie cutter yuppie food places decorated with antiques on the walls that follow a theme, like music or something, which is what the one we ate in had near our table.

And I sat there waiting for my food and wondered, somebody has the job of going all around and buying up antiques for those restaurants. What a cool job!

Then I got to thinking that these restaurants would probably end up being one of the major repositories for Americana.

Then our order came and I started eating and the heck with all this thinking stuff.

At dinner, we (I) had chosen a local barbecue place named "Jakes." (Their link does not play music.) Now, being raised in South Carolina, I am very picky about my barbecue. Since I have been here in Virginia, I pretty much have to cook my own to make it passable. And when I lived in Florida, well, don't get me started on that! They seem to think that sliced roast beef with some Kraft barbecue sauce on it suffices.

Poor folks don't know what they are missing.

I don't know what it is about it, but even though I know I'm not going to like it, I keep going into barbecue joints in other states and ordering the stuff. Helplessly, I walk into Jakes and do it yet again.

Wow, was *I* surprised! The stuff was awesome! If you are ever in that area, it's got my recommendation.

By the time we start to pack up and go home on Sunday, my depression (for that is what was happening all this time) was getting worse and worse. The docs had been juggling my meds around the past couple of weeks, and I was now officially "out of balance." I felt horrible.

Monday is pretty much a blur. I think I might have missed the day at work. I go to the doc, he nudges my meds yet again.

Tuesday I work a part of the day, then head home because I feel so bad.

Wednesday when I get up out of bed, my wife takes one look at me and tells me that we are going to the doc. My mood is heading downward in a death spiral. I made an agreement with her long ago that if she said that I needed to go to the doc I would go, so we did. By the time I get there, I am in as bad a shape mood-wise as I was when I was hospitalized a year ago. Fortunately, this time I was not a danger, so by a decision as close as a coin toss I didn't have to go in again.

BTW, for anyone reading this who has a mood disorder, these kinds of safety measures with those close to you are vital to living with it. If you don't already have them set up, do it now.

Anyways, another med change, and by the next day I was recovering, by Friday I was back at work again.

One thing I want to make totally clear here. That episode, although one of my worst ones, had no event triggers. It was totally chemical in nature. I was majorly depressed, but I could not have named anything in my life that made me feel that way.

My illness is not because I can't deal with problems. It is caused by misfiring brain cells. I don't want any pity, everyone has their problems to deal with.

I might, however, occasionally need a little space to stagger around a bit.

Well, I'm back now.

It was not a good trip.

Glad it's over.

Miss me? (Insert big grin here)

I was once thrown out of a mental hospital for depressing the other patients.
Oscar Levant (1906 - 1972)

Permalink: 3/02/2004 01:39:00 PM |
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