Most of my life I’ve considered time, not money, to be my most valuable resource. Maybe I should have put it second to love, or joy, but if I’m honest with myself, I didn’t. Maybe I always thought I was going to die young. Lucky for me, I’m getting a little too old to do that …
I’ll never know quite how I got the idea of writing a one page poem that managed to encapsulate my life story, but it’s where I landed. Two hours later, I had this. Turns out it takes a LONG time to say things in a few words.
Next thing I know we’ve changed our route to have lunch because isn’t this amazing. Yes, it is great to see him, but throw in a little road construction and a couple of other longer stops than expected and we arrive well into the dark, 14 clock hours after we left.
Not a problem, except this Airbnb is along the unlit and poorly marked dirt roads west of Trinidad. Our host’s verbal directions are vague and once we make a wrong turn, my phone is so flummoxed it shows us heading across a pasture, which we clearly are not.
Frustrations are rising, so I call our host and describe our location. She talks us, landmark by landmark, to the edge of her long driveway where she meets us with a flashlight to guide us in. Some Airbnb hosts go well beyond the expected. Yay for nice people.
The frazzled nature of the day leaves me craving soft music and pretty sounds as I get ready for bed. I’m not particularly religious but my time on the road has put this song in my head. I turn to this amazing rendition, not knowing yet that it will help me get through the remainder of this journey, and soothe me for many more nights once I’m home.
It’s jazz. New Orleans jazz to be precise, and I realize this is a funeral procession …. Then I notice just how big the procession is. It’s got to be hundreds of people, maybe more. They are getting closer to the temple ….
I’m happy to let my private tears coexist with this noisy tribute. Then I realize the trajectory of this procession will take it into the temple via one of the many curved entrances, and it happens to be the one in which I’m sitting in the dust crying. I’m about to be in the way of the largest single act of mourning ever held at Burning Man.
I have less of a sense of time. Hours pass unnoticed when I write, minutes last forever as I stare at a blank page. I attribute this to living more inside my head than out of it. But if hours and minutes confound me, years and decades are worse.
Somewhere, deep inside, I now understood I was going to die. It was a fact I’d heard before, of course, but until it happened to my dad, I guess I didn’t really believe it. Didn’t get it would happen to me.
I understand that may writers are reluctant to share their work in progress with family members so I consider myself lucky to have relatives who are genuinely supportive of my passion to tell stories. I’m particularly lucky to have this amazing genetically similar pal to give my stories a second set of eyes.
Then, imagine my reaction when I realized that I would not be here for the big event. Days earlier I had booked non-refundable airline tickets for four to Kenya for the safari trip of a lifetime. No, the eclipse would not be visible in Kenya. No, the tickets could not be changed. Maybe I should have checked, but seriously, who looks at a schedule of eclipses before they plan a trip?
She turned twenty-one that day, and married her high school sweetheart. He was about to turn twenty-two, and had already returned from the war, smoking cigarettes and telling tales of the motorcycle he had learned to ride. She thought that he seemed pretty full of himself since he got back, but she married him anyway at the small country church in the town in which she was raised. A 9:00 mass was followed by a giant buffet lunch which was followed by an afternoon of drinking and dancing and then a lavish dinner with more dancing and drinking after that.
Never ran a stop sign? Crossed the street on a red light? Exaggerated the value of your clothing donations on your income return? Never double parked or jaywalked or even drove a single mile over the speed limit? Ever?
She had their attention then, and we generally went on to have a pretty lively discussion about what it means to be a law-abiding citizen. I liked to talk about Jack Sparrow’s famous quote that his pirate code was really more of a “guideline.” The fact is, we all consider some laws to be guidelines, particularly when we believe that consequences of our breaking them will not hurt anyone. The perception of which laws this applies to changes over time.
You find the future in the oddest places. I mean if you are like me and have been reading science fiction for decades, you probably go along feeling like nothing has really changed all that much compared to the future you read about. Yes, yes, our cell phones can do all kinds of cool things but where are the Jetson cars and colonies on the moon and cute talking robots and all those other things that the future was supposed to bring?
And then, blat, along comes a piece of that science fiction that has turned real, and you find out about it in a place you least expected it.
Do the Americans saying these things listen to themselves? Do they not realize that they sound like the villains in a barely believable movie?
I wrote the above lines three weeks ago on my z2 blog, where I often write about bigotry and hatred, two of the difficult themes that I tackle in the novel z2. While the news mentioned in my post is slightly out of date now, the subject matter remains sadly relevant. Please read the entire post at And the Hate Goes On …
If you type “slowing down” into Google, one of the first alternatives it will offer you is a search of “slowing down time”. It is obviously a popular topic, and I knew when I created my hero Alex that his ability was hardly unique. Normal humans often report time moving slower during an emergency …
It you had to pick one thing out of the original Star Trek series to have in your own life, what would it have been? Beam me up, Scotty? The replicators? Warp drive? Well, we didn’t get those, did we. At least not yet. Face it, we got the equivalent of the com badges, those marvelous communication devices that let the whole crew talk to each other all the time no matter where they were. No, it wouldn’t have been my first choice either.
I know something the writer does not. I can see the future… I know that by August 28, five days hence, protesters and police will be attacking each other in front of Chicago’s Hilton Hotel… Before the night is over, so much tear gas will be used that it will make its way into the hotel and bother the guests, and bystanders will be covered in mace. Inside the convention, reporters and delegates will be roughed up by police, including Dan Rather as he tries to give a report on national television.
It looks like the national guard has been called in after days of racial violence in the city, according the large headline on the top of the front page. The governor has put Wichita in a state of emergency, enacted a curfew, closed bars and stopped the sale of gasoline in containers. I scan the front page for information on why.
I have to smile. Attacks on communism seem quaint and harmless today, although thirteen-year-old Sherri Roth was under the firm impression that both Lenin and Marx specifically advocated tyranny, massacres, and cruelty.
Yes. Of course. The older Sherrie knows that history will eventually say “What a mistake. What were we thinking?” She knows that it will be decades before any leader sends another half million men to Asia to meddle into the internal affairs of another nation. But she also knows that it will happen again.
At some point many years ago I decided that I was in the summer of my life. Natural enough. Life was full and I was as physically fit and attractive as I was ever going to be. Those are summer kinds of things to me.
So about six months ago, I got fired up about going after something I wanted. It happens once in awhile. The person I share my life with bought into my idea, and that could have been the first problem. You see, what I wanted was complicated and expensive and going to take a real lot of effort. Sort of like the time that I decided what I wanted most in life was to sail around the world. Only that time, my partner had the good sense to suggest a long soak in the tub and big glass of wine instead.
It is always odd to finally visit the real location that I’ve held in my imagination for a story. Today is a windy, overcast day in late autumn, and I stand for the first time on the grounds of the civil war battle of Cedar Creek in Northwest Virginia. Battle grounds bring a hush over us all. People died there, often in the most difficult and painful of ways, and we know that they did. Lots of people lost their lives at this site, and thanks to my determination to write a battle scene as accurately as I could, I know more about these people than I do about those in any other battle ever.
Humans, of every continent, race, and religion, hope for good fortune. They want to live long and healthy lives, safe from danger. They will ask their gods and beg the fates to protect their children. They want love.