Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Break

Scheduled Outage From

Take your break and listen.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Everything Explained

For some reason I've received a number of visitors to my blog looking for the meaning of this song. Being a gracious host I will now explain it. This is what the song means, the Gospel of Trapeze Artistry according to Shawn.

First, let's talk about Trapeze Swingers. This is a dangerous job; it's not suited for everyone; if everyone gave it a try we'd have many more dead and injured people on our hands. Second, this song isn't a story so much as a mood. You can traverse it from point A to point B without reaching the destination. Thirdly, it's a song about Trapeze Swingers, not clowns or bankers. There's a place for clowns and bankers in life, but that place is NOT high above a crowd with no nets to catch them when they fall. Remember that.

Please, remember meHappily
From the get go we're told something has ended. We'll be reminded frequently. The story teller's real desire is to be remembered in some positive manner.

By the rosebush laughingWith bruises on my chinThe time whenWe counted every black car passingYour house beneath the hillAnd up untilSomeone caught us in the kitchenWith maps, a mountain range,A piggy bankA vision too removed to mention
Here's some examples of the good times, one can be happy for these can't they? The speaker seems to think so. The second half is the more interesting part. To the casual observer (one who catches them in the kitchen) it's all vague, like a map, mountain rangers, a piggy bank and visions that the observer couldn't understand even if they could see more than the maps and piggy banks.

Please, remember me
Don't forget.

I heard from someone you're still pretty
Ouch, but he probably knew that already. More to the point, it's been long enough since they've seen each other that their physical appearances could have changed.

And then
They went on to say
That the pearly gates
Had some eloquent graffiti
Like 'We'll meet again'
And 'Fuck the man'

And 'Tell my mother not to worry'

This bit is harder to decode. I'm not sure the person actually said these things. Here's my suspicion, they said, "she's still pretty," and then the poor fellow is lost in his own thoughts. And these are the words he heard. We'll Meet Again. A Trapeze Swinger finds it hard to give up the heights. Fuck the man. And all the things he says are impossible. Tell my mother not not to worry. Even in your lowest of times you can't help but worry about mom.

And angels with their gray

Were always done in such a hurry

I'm not sure what the importance of the color gray is here, but I can imagine that if you get to touch an angel, that moment of contact will always feel way too short.

Please, remember me
At Halloween

There's really no better time of year.

Making fools of all the neighbors
Our faces painted white

See they're still having some good times. They can still make each other laugh. But the problem is, as we'll see later, they've given up their Trapeze Swinger outfits and are running around dressed as clowns, or ghosts of their former selves.

By midnight
We'd forgotten one another

And when the morning came

I was ashamed

And here it is, the beginning of the end.

Only now it seems so silly
Hindsight is 20/20: of course he shouldn't have forgotten her at halloween.

That season left the world
And then returned

And now you're lit up by the city

Things change and remain the same, but mostly they changed. Even so, it's true, she's still beautiful.

Please, remember me

He wasn't perfect. Let's not make that mistake.

Disclaimer (I know, a little late): Now that I'm sitting here trying to figure out what's exactly meant I can understand why people searched the Internet to figure it out. I don't feel comfortable with the next couple parts but it's the best I could do. We'll see if I was really up to the challenge.

In the window of the tallest tower call
Then pass us by

But much too high

To see the empty road at happy hour

Leave and resonate

Just like the gates

Around the holy kingdom

With words like 'Lost and Found' and 'Don't Look Down'

And 'Someone Save Temptation'

Sometimes there are problems with too much height. You get way up there and you can't see things you use to be able to see, some of the missing things are simple, like happy hour, others are complex, like the gates that guard the holy kingdom. Then you realize you're not actually that high, but you would have known that long ago if you hadn't put so much stock in the words you found "up" there: "Lost and Found" and "Don't Look Down."

Please, remember me
As in the dream
This comes off as desperation. Just remember the good parts, not all the time, but every once in awhile.

We had as rug-burned babies
Among the fallen trees

And fast asleep

Aside the lions and the ladies

That called you what you like

And even might

Give a gift for your behavior

A fleeting chance to see

A trapeze

Swing as high as any savior

Here he tries to convince her that it was really worth it. It was worth flying. And in a perfect dreamy world perhaps they could have lived aside the lions and the ladies and the heights would have been a savior. But it's a dream, he's already admitted that, and she won't be taken in by it

Please, remember me
My misery

This is different. What does he want? Pity? It's tainting the goodness of all his other memories. Maybe this is where desperation leads. His thinking of the impossible good leads him to misery. Maybe.

And how it lost me all I wanted
It seems to be something else. Had he been happier back then, not because of her, but life, then perhaps things would have been different. Perhaps his misery and sadness drove her away? This is speculation as it does not sound like a trapeze swinger.

Those dogs that love the rain
And chasing trains

The colored birds above there running

In circles round the well

It's hard to make heads or tails of this since the previous line left me scratching my head. These are dangerous activities, much like trapeze swinging. Perhaps there is a certain sadness to the danger a trapeze swinger requires?

And where it spells
On the wall behind St. Peter's
So bright with cinder gray
And spray paint
'Who the hell can see forever?'
And no matter what it is, how good it could have been, or how bad it could have been, or how good it is, or how bad it is, it's still a gamble. We're all trapeze swingers to some small degree, because the answer to the question is "No one."

Please, remember me
He Knows he's been asking too much. Remembering isn't always a walk in the park.

In the car behind the carnival
My hand between your knees
You turn from me
And said 'The trapeze act was wonderful
But never meant to last'
The clown that passed
Saw me just come up with anger
When it filled with circus dogs
The parking lot
Had an element of danger
Here we are, back in real life. The end of it. The final act. He offers her a physical--if not loving at this point--touch, and she can't bare to look at him. All she knows is the the heights were wonderful, but they weren't meant to last. And all of the sudden they were both alone and vulnerable to the world, so much so that the parking lot filled with clowns and ordinary people feels dangerous--no high-wires required.

Please, remember me
Seriously, he's done trying. Things are what they are.

And all my uphill clawing
My dear
He did try pretty hard, but the hill was too steep, or his claws weren't strong enough or sharp enough.

But if i make
The pearly gates

Do my best to make a drawing

Of God and Lucifer

A boy and girl

An angel kissin on a sinner

A monkey and a man

A marching band

All around the frightened trapeze swingers

I don't know what this means. I'll leave it to my readers to tell me what it means. Please leave a comment.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Words Words Words


Given Eve's propensity to eat bad fruit, do you suppose she was the first person to die?

Thursday, January 24, 2008


OK, I've been overly interested in cars since going to Tahoe. It's a long complicated route one takes from Tahoe to this page--I won't get into the details now.

You don't have to read about the details of the Skyline (although you might want to because it's a sweet car) and you don't have to watch all eight minutes of the drive around the Nürburgring Nordschleife, but do watch the first minute or so of it. In particular watch the driver's feet when he down-shifts. He brakes and feathers the gas (at the same time) to bring the RPMs up to just the right amount before reengaging the clutch. If you blink you might miss it. This sort of thing brings me great joy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Imaginary Battle

This morning I was half awake experiencing really great ideas about... I'm not sure what. I recall thinking, "oh that would be awesome in a story." And I couldn't fall back asleep because I kept thinking about this thing. But, at the same time, I knew the idea wasn't sticking, it was there, I'd think about it and then it'd be gone only to return a few seconds later. It was like fighting your way through a tangle of thorn bushes. You push through just enough to realize that you can't continue that way. You change directions ever so slightly and try again. On and on it goes. I know what this feels like because I've done it before, along the San Francisco cliffs. After climbing up a steep face, and nearly killing myself, I was presented with two options: either turn around and nearly kill myself again (really bad option) or continue up the cliff, which was less steep now but full of thorn bushes taller than me (slightly better option). Even though by climbing the cliff below I proved I was equipped to make bad decisions I made a pretty good one here and slowly pushed my way through the thorns. It was painful, it was scary, it knocked some sense into me. Anyway, that's what this morning felt like, but instead of my life I was losing an idea. But trust me, it was a really really great idea.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King Jr.

Here is a man.

Here are words.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity. But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free.

One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.

So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition. In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.

So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights.

The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. we must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" we can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Saturday, January 19, 2008


This is a place I would love to visit.

Friday, January 18, 2008


There are two places I can go that invoke instant nostalgia on demand. I'm sure there are other places I could go that would do the same but these two places I visit on a regular basis and they never fail to produce. The first is Berkeley. I usually find myself over there once every couple months and it always brings back a good warm feeling. I tell myself while I'm there, I could live here, it's the only place I say that about (I love SF). I also tell myself I should come visit more often, but sadly I don't--I don't really have many reasons to go over there.

The second is a little different, and indirect. I lived in Germany during my second through fourth grade years. One of most memorable things we did there was go to the German public swimming pool. I don't actually recall much about the swimming but I remember we always bought milk ice cream popsicles and salami sandwiches on these little tasty rolls. Also, there were these open air showers that you would get under and pull a little string and a stream of cold water would wash over you. You'd freeze for a second, shake off and then go into the pool. That second of freezing is what is brought to mind when I shower. Robyn hates hair; I lose a lot in the shower, so I always (she'll tell you I don't do it always, but I do try) take the shower head down after I've dried off and spray extra hair away. I use cold water to conserve energy and to invoke this feeling. When the water splashes on my feet I'm there in Germany, a kid again. Maybe it's a little like kicking a soccer ball.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Clank. Clank. Clank. An old man with small withered hands sat before a crumbled stone wall; he struck the remains of the wall with an equally small and withered looking hammer. For a stone wall this one was quite long. In its prime it was said to have stretched over five thousand miles: through woods, over hills, and it was even rumored to have crossed a small lake. The wall had been hundreds of feet high and God knows how many feet thick. Of course that was a long, long time ago. Back then two people standing directly across from one another on opposite sides of the wall—exactly God knows how many feet apart—would have never been aware of each other’s existence.

The hammer on the other hand, was a completely different affair; it never was bigger than its current size; it was put together by tying a piece of sharpened metal to the end of a withered branch. The old man laughed at the thought of this once mighty wall falling further apart under his feeble strikes.

Clank. Clank. Clank. Another rumor concerning this wall is that it is filled with diamonds. Okay, perhaps “filled” isn’t quite the right word. But the old man had it on good authority from his wife’s dead right hand, which spoke to him nightly, that there were at least a dozen king-sized diamonds somewhere within the ruins of the wall. It was three years ago that his wife’s hand began talking to him. On the darkest of nights when the crickets were chirping, and (probably not by coincidence) when his wife was snoring her loudest, Tom awoke to find her hand, dead for all fifty-five years of their marriage, floating and talking above his head. Now, naturally hands can’t actually talk, they don’t have voice boxes, but Tom had had a deaf twin sister who taught him to read lips when they were teenagers. She died shortly after teaching Tom to read lips, hit from behind by a train furiously blowing its horn. The horn and the brakes made quite a ruckus just before impact. The conductor was quoted as telling the police, “It was like she didn’t even hear me.”

In honor of his sister Tom had kept his lip reading skills honed. Originally he practiced by muting his television while watching reruns of his favorite shows. This also inadvertently taught him to read body language and facial expressions quite well. This however, turned out not to be as useful when communicating with his wife’s dead hand. After the power went out for the last time, and never came back on, Tom had to resort to watching real conversations to keep from losing his talent.

Clank. Clank. Clank. He learned that Parker Brady was sleeping with Widow Deb. Mark, from down the street, believed ghosts were stealing the money he stored under his mattress. Jennifer R. had lost two sons to consumption before moving to Willow Wood. Tanya, the tailor, had always dreamed of being the President. His very own father swore on Sundays. George and Edna Donaldson affectionately called each other My Lamb and My Lion. The police chief was afraid of cats. Jerald Rich MD, the town’s florist and doctor, never loved his wife. Father Irving, who moved his lips when silently praying, always ended his prayers with, “if you’re really out there. Amen.” And nobody knew exactly where the power had gone.

In his early twenties Tom felt that he hadn’t learned anything interesting or useful from his lip reading and, besides, God would have surely given his sister her hearing back when she died, so he gave it up. It wasn’t easy to stop. He had to avert his eyes whenever he saw anyone in conversation. And, as it turned out, there was always someone talking within his line of site. He quickly realized that looking at the ground was the only safe way to keep his eyes out of other people’s conversations.

Tom had never been known for being crazy. People said he had a solid head on his shoulders; his friends and family would always come to him for advice about their lives and doings. He became an excellent listener, possibly owing to the fact that he stopped watching people and inadvertently started listening to them. So when his wife’s dead hand started talking to him he didn’t consider the possibility that he might be going crazy, instead he took it as a clear sign that something fundamental about the Universe had changed.

This wasn’t the first time he had to shift the way his mind worked because of alterations in the Universe. The first time the Universe moved on him was after the death of his sister. The second time was when he fell in love with Emma. The third time was when the power went out for the last time. The fourth time was when Emma fell in love with him. The fifth time was when he had his first child. The sixth time was when his last child died. The seventh time, and last prior to this wife’s dead hand talking to him, was when he first heard about the wall.

Tom originally discovered the wall in a dream and the wall’s existences was later confirmed by Father Irving during a Sunday sermon. In Tom’s dream he stood in a long line of young people. Even though he was in his seventies he didn’t feel out of place with these people; his body ached less than normal and there were fewer wrinkles and folds across the backs of his hands. The line he was in inched forward slowly and at an irregular pace. No one talked in line but many people could be seen eagerly looking over the shoulder of the person in front of them—they all desired to catch a glimpse of whatever it was at the front of the line. With a little effort Tom could see the line lead to a great wall that spread out across the horizon. He marveled more at his ability to see such a great distance—something he hadn’t been able to do in quite some time—than with the magnitude of the wall. People stood and sat in front of the wall. As the line grew shorter and Tom approached the wall he could see that many of the people sitting were actually kneeling in prayer before the wall. Those who were standing placed their heads gently against the wall and traced elaborate patterns over it with their hands. From time to time a person would stop praying or drawing shapes and the wall would shutter and shake before them, bricks were sucked into the wall or shifted to the side and a hole large enough for a person to walk through would appear. The hole never hinted at what was inside—it was just a dark hole that you couldn’t see more than a few feet into. Once the hole had opened the person would walk in and the bricks would shift back into place. The next person in line would take the missing person’s spot in front of the wall and the line would creep forward.

Father Irving said this about the wall: all man-made walls are made to either keep people in or out, but this one was made to be crossed.

Standing before the wall Tom could see nothing special about it. Green moss filled the gaps between the bricks. The bricks themselves weren’t smooth, nor were they uniform in shape or size. Ants, beetles and other insects scurried between cracks and crevices. The wall was cool to the touch. It looked like any other brick wall he’d ever seen, except much taller and much longer. He watched his nearest neighbors for clues about how he should interact with the wall, but he was unable to gleam any pattern other than praying and touching. Tom wondered if he was dreaming.

Father Irving said this about the wall: the wall was created out of ordinary rock by ordinary people. It took ten-thousand-years to complete.

Tom placed a hand upon the wall. Rocks had always fascinated him; he and his twin sister had a shared rock collection before she died. They had two tiger-eyes, a handful of rose quartz pebbles, some turquoise, a small bag full of fools-gold, a sliver of jade, a large piece of petrified wood, a normal-looking rock with some ancient fossilized sea creature in it, three perfectly spherical rocks (they sometimes pretended these were the Sun, Earth and Moon), a rock so smooth and flat that Tom was certain he could skip it all the way across the Pacific Ocean (his sister thought this quite impossible), a dozen quarter sized opals, a piece of glass they both secretly believed was a diamond, and a very real and very small ruby that had fallen out of their deceased mother’s wedding ring.

Tom rested his forehead upon the wall. His sister had loved taking a rock in each hand and banging them together. Clank. Clank. Clank. Although she couldn’t hear the sound they produced, she could feel them vibrate in her hands. She would mouth to Tom, “this is what it’s like to be alive,” and then bring the two rocks together as hard as her skinny arms could manage. Sometimes she would accidentally smash the tip of a finger between the rocks but that never seemed to lessen or dull her joy. Tom tried to replicate her enthusiasm but found the banging noise painful to his ears and couldn’t overlook the sting in his fingertips when his aim wasn’t true.

Father Irving said this about the wall: the other side of the wall held the Kingdom of God. But, strangely, when the wall came down all that was seen on the other side were trees, and grass, and cows, and houses, and people.

Tom slid his hand down the wall as he thought about his sister. He pictured her smiling with rocks in hand, he heard her strange giggle (which she never heard herself). She also never heard their father say that he hated them or that he blamed them for their mother’s death during child birth. She never heard Tom crying in their shared bed, although his sobbing probably shook the wooden frame enough that she knew. She never heard the train coming and she never heard Tom whisper, “I love you, sis” to her back while she silently marveled at their shared piece of glass-diamond.

Father Irving said this about the wall: just like the power, no one really knows why the wall came down. You can still see the remains of the wall. Head west out of Willow Wood until you reach a fork in the road. Take the southern road toward Tangle Hollow, and about two miles down that road you’ll come across part of the wall.

Tom’s wife’s dead arm said this about the wall: In the wall’s remains there are twelve king-sized diamonds.

Tom finally felt the rocks vibrate in his hands. He stepped back and watched as the bricks shuffled apart, splitting and rearranging until a perfectly Tom-sized hole stood open before him. Tom wasn’t especially fond of holes. In his youth he had accidentally kicked his favorite red and white soccer ball into an abandoned well way out behind his house. He had dropped his lucky quarter on the floor one day and watched in horror as it rolled across the wood before falling into a small hole. He and his sister were certain a pack of vicious trolls lived in this particular hole, they were thankful it was too small for trolls to actually crawl out of, but still, you wouldn’t want to be walking bare foot and have a dirty little troll finger reach out and poke you, or feel its vile breath on your skin, or—worst of all—accidentally make eye contact with a troll through the hole. Two days after losing the quarter his sister was hit by a train—so Tom never doubted the lucky nature of the quarter. Later in life he’d take his wedding ring off while shaving. He’d place it securely in the soap dish where it would be safe from harm while he shaved. But one crisp October morning there was a rumbling that shook the entire house. He heard his wife yell “Earthquake,” but it was over before he could do much reacting. When the quake had finished he made sure his wedding ring was still safe and that his wife was fine before getting back to shaving. After shaving he picked his ring up but he hadn’t noticed that it had shifted ever so slightly, covering itself in soap in the process. He picked it up and it promptly slipped from between his two fingers. His gold ring went round and round and then down the pipes. He believed his wedding ring was at least as lucky as his old quarter and so he spent the next five hours in a panic tearing apart the plumbing until he rescued his ring from the muck and grime. Life started from a hole; like an hour glass it flowed out of his mother and into him and his sister. He watched his sister lowered into a hole six feet long, four feet wide and six feet deep. Being her twin, he never thought that hole looked quite right all by itself.

Father Irving said this about the wall: remnants of the wall can be found all over the world. Sightings have been reported in Egypt, China, Croatia, Germany, Saskatchewan, Australia, and even Minnesota.

After the sermon Tom asked Father Irving how anyone could possibly know that all those walls were once part of the same wall. How could a wall stretch all the way from Willow Wood to Egypt? Might the wall in Egypt be some dead old farmer’s wall, just something used to keep the sheep from running off? Isn’t it like insisting every grave in the ground use to be one large grave? Doesn’t that seem crazy, that we’ll all be buried in the same grave? Well that’s how all these walls being the same wall sounds too—plain crazy. This was really just Tom’s way of saying that he felt like he was walking into his sister’s grave when he entered the wall. It also felt like his mother’s grave, and that little hole his lucky quarter fell into. But complaining about the impossibility of the wall was the only way he could explain how he felt to Father Irving.

Tom heard the wall piece itself back together behind him. The insides of the wall began to glow barely enough to see the grassy ground a few feet ahead. A small red and white checkered ball sat on the grass with one side gently pressed against the wall. The neighborhood kids were all disappointed when they found out that Tom had accidentally kicked his ball into the well. But to be accurate, they never actually found that out. Tom told them he had forgotten his ball outside one night and in the morning it was gone, no trace of it, just paw prints—twice the size of the biggest dog’s he’d ever seen—right where he had left the ball. This tale helped lessen the blow of having the neighborhood’s only ball lost. Soccer was replaced by imaginary wolf hunting. The boys put together expeditions into the woods—but not too far into the woods—carrying sidewalk-sharpened sticks, fist-sized rocks and red makeshift bandanas tied around their heads while the girls picked wild flowers at the edge of the woods waiting to greet the boys like returning heroes, even when they returned empty handed, which they was always the case. That is of course until the night a frightening howl could be heard all across the village; it was so loud it even woke little boys and girls in Shady Pines, a village ten miles away. The kids didn’t talk about the howl the next day—or ever—but they all knew they’d never be going into those woods again. Except for Tom’s dear sister who couldn’t understand why all of the sudden no one was interested in hunting the wolf anymore and who never realized that the other kids hadn’t believed her brother’s story until the howl turned his lie into truth.

Father Irving said this about the wall: when the wall came down even the deaf heard it. And even the heartless felt the earth tremble.

Many years had passed since Tom had last kicked a ball. One can’t always rely on one’s body when it’s as old as his. Countless times he’d seen groups of kids playing soccer, but he could never approach them. Even if it were just a single kid kicking a ball against the side of a house or wall, he couldn’t trust his body to not make a fool of him. A single flash in his mind of laughing, pointing, mean little children, or a single glance at his awkward, bent legs and stooped back was all it took for him to put away all thoughts of playing. “You are an old man,” he’d tell himself and continue on his way. But here his body felt young again; his mind was less afraid. And, besides, there wasn’t anyone here to laugh.

Still, he approached the ball with some hesitation. Even though he was feeling younger he was still out of practice. Suppose his body couldn’t remember the correct way to kick. Taking just the right number of steps before swinging your leg back and giving a ball a good whacking always required a great deal of concentration and practice. If you were off by just one step then the whole process was botched and you’d have to start over. Luckily the interior of the wall didn’t leave much room for any heroic kicks so Tom settled on a simple tap with his toe. The ball rolled forward. No laughter. No falling. But there was joy.

He kicked again and again, sometimes a little harder sometimes a little softer. He began to run as he kicked. The breeze of childhood memories blew across his face, into his lungs and down his legs. He stopped thinking about the wall. There was no sound. There was sound, but Tom didn’t hear it. The walls behind him rumbled and closed off paths he had just run through. Similar rumblings could be heard deep within the walls. He didn’t hear himself giggle, or the dull thud of his foot impacting with the ball. Wet spots on the grass and sharp turns caused him to fall a few times but they were of the fun childish hydroplaning sorts of falls, they didn’t hurt. Without much thought he’d get back up and continue his kicking. The noise he didn’t hear grew louder and louder. He kicked harder and ran faster. Then it happened. The wall came down around Tom.

He was unharmed. His ball was lost again, buried somewhere beneath tons and tons of stone. He looked around and found other people standing inside the ruins, people he had recognized from the line. They looked scared and lost. They caused him to feel guilt for his happiness, for smiling. This is where Tom woke, still smiling, still happy.

Clank. Clank. Clank. After Father Irving’s sermon Tom and his wife went home. Tom started a fire and then sat in his favorite chair while his wife busied herself around the house: dusting, putting books back in their proper places and watering plants, all the while humming a little tune about doll-houses, tea parties and little girls. She whirled around him as he thought about the wall. He hadn’t felt this good in years. She willingly stopped at his side when he grabbed her dead hand as she headed to the kitchen. He asked, “How big do you suppose a king-sized diamond is?”

She smiled and said, “probably about the size of a soccer ball,” and then went back to humming and cleaning their home.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

First Draft

Well, I'm done with the first draft. I'm still excited for this story. That's momentous, usually I'm bored with whatever I'm writing before I even finish the first draft (which is why I now only have two first drafts, and I'm bored with one of them). Anyway. I think I'll post the whole thing here. I was trying to decide if it should be broken up into multiple posts over days, but that seems kind of annoying for a short story. Although, it would have the added bonus of appearing like I'm making a lot of posts and doing very well at keeping my blog alive. :)

I have to make some tweaks to formatting to make it play well on the Internet (and maybe come up with a title) before posting it. Maybe it will appear later tonight or tomorrow.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Some Kind of Perfect

An End

All Better

Thanks Charles, you be the best.

The song about twenty-nine years sounds much better now. You might need to clear your cache (or refresh once you click on the link) to get the new version.

Tech Difficulties

Last song I posted was wacky. I'm looking into some issues.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Next, Please

I'm done with that story I was writing before the year was over (for Nate). The story sort of sucks. No really, it does. So when I say I'm "done" with it, I mean I'm done looking at it, not that it's in some sort of completed form. BUT it served a purpose in that it got me back into the habit of writing and the next thing I started working on I have loved, yes loved. It's been a joy to write and will hopefully continue to be that way. I'm so excited for it. I can hardly wait to finish it. Too bad there is this thing called work that keeps getting in the way. So it goes.

That doesn't really do much for this blog, in fact the story has horded much of my creative energies and feelings. So here's a song I've been listening to a lot lately. Around 2:45 it becomes glorious. I wonder how much of my enjoyment of the song is due to the fact that I'm twenty-nine, like when a song mentions your name you some how feel more connected to it (even though the writer/singer doesn't know a thing about you).

You know I've dreamed about you, for twenty-nine years
before I saw you
You know I dreamed about you
I've missed you for twenty-nine years

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Trees Were All Dressed in White

My brother and our old friend Jerry were here this weekend. We went snowboarding, which I've done once or twice before but we decided to all board since Jerry had never skied and that would allow us all to kind of suck and feel challenged on the easy slopes. We weren't absolutely sure we were going to be able to make it up to Tahoe because the area was experiencing blizzard like conditions. I awoke at 4am Saturday morning to check the weather and roads and attempt to find a ski resort that was opened. Parts of highway 80 were closed but 50 was open (if you had 4wd or chains) so I decided on the first resort off of 50 that was open (Sierra-at-Tahoe). I woke Frank and Jerry and we headed out around5:30. It is a mere 3.5 hour drive to Tahoe that was mostly uneventful. The snow on the roads weren't too bad.

The snow at the resort was fresh (which translates to soft to fall on, which we did a lot of) but around 1pm it started snowing and blowing like crazy. Somehow this change in weather coincided perfectly with our first ride up to the very top of the mountain. It took use 1.5 hours to get down because we couldn't see more than 10 feet in front of us. So it was a bit like learning to snowboard with your eyes closed. At one point I fell down and then got up but couldn't look directly downhill without going blind so I looked down at the ground but could really tell where the ground was and I tried to get my board moving again and thought I had; I readjusted my balance for moving but it turned out I actually wasn't moving (the snow flying past my created the illusion of motion) and so I fell over again, which was even weirder because it was so white I couldn't predict when I was going to hit the ground. It was a very bizarre , and maybe humbling experiencing. I have new respect for the power of winter weather. I can see how easy it would be to get lost and confused in a powerful winter storm. The resort ended up closing early. The drive back home was slightly more challenging, mostly due to limited visibility but the roads were also slicker.

That's all a bit of a side track from my normal postings, but I had mentioned Jerry earlier and there is something profoundish about feeling lost in a sea of white. It was good to see Frank and Jerry together, obviously still good friends. That made me happy.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Love and War and all the Things in between

Listen here.

Read here:

I'm nearing the end of Everything is Illuminated. There is a chapter dedicated to Jonathan's grandfather (Safran) and the Gypsy girl he loves but doesn't love. He is Jewish and has a dead right arm, she is a snake charmer, their love is forbidden, especially for him.

They exchanged notes, like children. My grandfather made his out of newspaper clippings and dropped them in her woven baskets, into which he knew only she would dare stick a hand. Meet me under the wooden bridge, and I will show you things you have never, ever seen. [This is what she told him the first time they met, sitting next to each other in a dark theater.] The "M" was taken from the army that would take his mother's life: GERMAN FRONT ADVANCES ON SOVIET BORDER; the "eet" from their approaching warships: NAZI FLEET DEFEATS FRENCH AT LESACS; the "me" from the peninsula they were blue-eyeing: GERMANS SURROUND CRIMEA; the "und" from too little, too late: AMERICAN WAR FUNDS REACH ENGLAND; the "er" from the dog of dogs: HITLER RENDERS NONAGGRESSION PACT INOPERATIVE ... an so on, on so on, each note a collage of love that could never be, and war that could.

The Gypsy girl carved love letters into trees, filling the forest with notes for him. Do not forsake me, she removed from the bark of a tree in whose shade they had once fallen asleep. Honor me, she carved into the trunk of a petrified oak. She was composing a new list of commandments, commandments they could share, that would govern a life together, and not apart. Do not have any other loves before me in your heart. Do not take my name in vain. Do not kill me. Observe me, and keep be holy.

I'd like to be wherever you are in ten years, he wrote her, gluing clips of newspaper headlines to a piece of yellow paper. Isn't that a nice idea?

A very nice idea, he found on a tree at the fringe of the forest. And why is it only an idea?

Because -- the print stained his hands; he read himself on himself -- ten years is a long time from now.

We would have to run away, carved in a circle around a maple's trunk. We would have to leave behind everything but each other.

Which is possible, he composed the fragments of the news of imminent war. It's a nice idea, anyway.


For all of his liaisons, for all of the women who would undress for him at the show of his dead arm, he had no other friends, and could imagine no loneliness worse than an existence without her. She was the only one who could rightly claim to know him, the only one he missed when she was not there, and missed even before she was absent. She was the only one who wanted more of him than his arm.

I don't love you, he told her one evening as they lay naked in the grass.

She kissed his brow and said, I know that. And I'm sure you know that I don't love you.

Of course, he said, although it came as a great surprise -- not that she didn't love him, but that she would say it. In the past seven years of love-making he had heard the words so many times: from the mouths of widows and children, from prostitutes, family friends, travelers, and adulterous wives. Women had said I love you without his ever speaking. The more you love someone, he came to think, the harder it is to tell them. It surprised him that stranger didn't stop each other on the street to say I love you.

My parents have arranged a marriage, he said.

For you?

With a girl named Zosha. From my shtetl. I'm seventeen.

And do you love her?
she asked without looking at him.

He broke his life into its smallest constituent parts, examined each, like a watchmaker, and then reassembled it.

I hardly know her. He also avoided eye contact, because like Pincher P. who lived in the streets as a charity case, having donated even his last coin to the poor, his eyes would have given away everything.

Are you going to go through with it? she asked, drawing circles in the earth with her caramel fingers.

I don't have a choice, he said.

Of course.

She would not look at him.

You will have such a happy life, she said. You will always be happy.

Why are you doing this?

Because you are so lucky. Real and lasting happiness is within your reach.

Stop, he said. You're not being fair.

I would like to meet her.

No you wouldn't

Yes I would. What's her name? Zosha? I would like very much to meet Zosha and tell her how happy she will be. What a lucky-girl. She must be very beautiful.

I don't know.

You've seen her, haven't you?


Then you know if she's beautiful. Is she beautiful?

I guess.

More beautiful than I am?


I would like to attend the wedding, to see for myself. Well, not the wedding, of course. A Gypsy girl couldn't enter the synagogue. The reception, though. You are going to invite me, aren't you?

You know that isn't possible, he said, turning away.

I know it isn't possible, she said, knowing that she had pushed it too far, been too cruel.

It isn't possible.

I told you: I know.

But you have to believe me.

I do.

They made love for the last time, unaware that the next seven months would pass without any words between them. He would see her many times, and she him -- they had come to haunt the same places, to walk the same paths, to fall asleep in the shade of the same trees -- but they would never acknowledge each other's existence. They both wanted badly to go back seven years to their first encounter, at the theater, and do it all again, but this time not to notice each other, not to talk, not to leave theater, she leading him by his dead right arm through a maze of muddy alleys, past the confectioners' stands by the old cemetery, down the Jewish/Human fault line, and so on and so on into the blackness. For seven months they would ignore each other at the bazaar, at the Dial, and at the fountain of the prostrate mermaid, and they were sure they could ignore each other anywhere and always, sure they could be complete strangers, but where proven wrong when he returned home one afternoon from work only to pass her on her way out of his house.

What are you doing here?
he asked, more afraid that she had revealed their relationship -- to his father, who would surely beat him, or his mother, who would be so disappointed -- than curious as to why she was there.

Your books are arranged by the color of their spines
, she said. How stupid.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The most important part

My eyes alight linger stay rest fall upon the hem of your dress
You lift the sides
revealing bare feet and spring-time mud
a heart discovers love
Soaked by the rain that covers
your dress, my hair, our world, all the rest
Spring will always turn to Summer
then Fall
But (and this is the most important part)
The spring-time mud always always returns

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

If I could, I would make it so nothing ever hit the ground again.

"And then the General came to my father." It was not too dark for me to see that Grandfather closed his eyes. "Spit, he said." "Did he?" "No," she said, and she said no as if it was any other word from any other story, not having the weight it had in this one. "Spit, the General with blond hair said." "And he did not spit?" She did not say no, but she rotated her head from this to that. "He put it in my mother's mouth, and he said spit or." "He put it in her mother's mouth." "No," the hero said without volume. "I will kill her here and now if you do not spit, the General said, but he would not spit." "And?" Grandfather asked. "And he killed her." I will tell you that what made this story most scary was how rapid it was moving. I do not mean what happened in the story, but how the story was told. I felt that it could not be stopped. "It is not true," Grandfather said, but only to himself. "Then the General put the gun in the mouth of my younger sister, who was four years old. She was crying very much. I remember that. Spit, he said, spit or." "Did he?" Grandfather asked. "No," she said. "He did not spit," I told the hero. "Why didn't he spit?" "And the General shot my sister. I could not look at her, but I remember the sound of when she hit the ground. I hear that sound when things hit the ground still. Anything." If I could, I would make it so nothing ever hit the ground again.
                  -- Another quote from Everything is Illuminated.