Hitting Da Wall

I’d like to think it was only this political season, something that’s always interested me and even more so this year. Maybe that, and throw in the Olympics. That makes a busy middle of the summer in terms of things to keep an eye on.

Or it could be the weather. After 25 years here in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve learned a fair amount about delayed gratification (not enough, obviously, and a quick glance at my life will provide a pretty decent laugh in this regard, but in this specific case, yeah) — we endure darkness and clouds and blahness because come August, we get a couple of months, maybe more, of drop-dead gorgeous stuff every day. The shades get pulled and light creeps into the corners and we sit up straight up and say, “HEY! It’s freaking BEAUTIFUL HERE!” And it is. If you’ve never been in Seattle on a sunny day, you don’t know.

But August came and now it’s done gone, and I note it’s been kinda…cold. Wet. KInda unusual. Kinda usual. Kinda…November.

I say all of this, of course, with the knowledge of what’s about to go down in the Gulf. Still, this is the flaw with empathy. Someone keeps poking you with a stick while across the room somebody’s hitting the other guy over the head with a hammer, and you want to say, “I have it pretty easy” but it still hurts.

Must…acknowledge…JOY.

There’s been a lot of that J-stuff here. We’ve had a peaceful summer, for a lot of reasons but mostly financial, as ordinary as that sounds. And while cheese and milk prices are soaring and gas is doing what it does and I still haven’t figured out how to get a new back deck without spending several thousand dollars I don’t want to spend (if it were possible to build a deck out of drywall, I would have done it already, but I don’t think you really can), there’s been a persistent feeling of our noses being above the water level. OK, enough said about money, but that’s a huge thing.

But I notice things. I’m supposed to; I’ve been trained well, by legions of people with similar experiences who said it might help. I’m not supposed to let things simmer, to develop habits and patterns that I can be amused by down the road and then fix. This is a dangerous thing for me, not paying attention, so I work hard on a daily basis. I take a little inventory, not only of what I may have said or done, but some sins of omission, too, and then I just watch out for little things.

For instance, I noticed something odd the other day that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, and finally figured out it was that my face felt scratchy. Because I hadn’t shaved in three days. Yeah, you scoff, you laugh, but alarm bells should be ringing.

And I look at my journal and note that I have a big fat zero under “exercise” on three days out of the past 10. Again with the scoffing (stop, it’s getting old).

There’s no mystery here, just blinking red lights. I work at home, I have it easy, I pretty much get up when I want and do what I want, if I feel like making extra money I can, if I don’t I won’t, etc. I have freedom and no coworkers with hygiene issues and no parking problems at all. It’s good.

But I’ve acquired new responsibilities, and looking back I see that since June 10 I’ve worked every day save one, and attrition is a real thing. I’m wearing down. How old am I again? (Everybody say it at once.)

I also have a feeling that the majority of my calories are coming from ice cream. ‘Nother story.

So, September. Regardless of the weather, news, deckishness and dullness of razors, it’s time to make more changes. I have the luxury of a spouse at home until late in the month, when classes start again, and a son who seems to be getting out of his long slump. There’s an upcoming wedding to dream about, a compressed campaign to observe and some gutters to clean, and in between I resolve to take care of myself better. Starting tomorrow.

I hereby resolve to shave every single day. And no more missing my walks/runs, not even once. I resolve not to dwell on the silly season, or even mention the fact that Sen. John McCain thought long and hard about his first major president-like decision and picked as his running mate Barney Fife. Not a word.

I resolve to find George Carlin and Richard Pryor videos and watch them, just in case I forget how to laugh.

I resolve to share, listen, donate, serve and shut up when necessary, and sacrifice something. Something. Something…

No ice cream, starting tomorrow. Until September 24. Then maybe. I’ll explain when the time comes, but for now let’s just say that life without sugar is worth exploring every once in a while, and good for the soul. It feels like discipline, and discipline is always what I’m lacking, and of course at the end pretty much everything will taste sweeter, and I can pretend that there’s sun, I’m used to that.

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Political Commentary

During the primary season, Barack Obama got hammered a little by his statements that he would talk to states like Iran without “preconditions” — that is, without some sort of formal agreement having already been reached. He clarified his position a bit but stayed firm, and he made the point that Iran, for example, was a tiny country compared to the old Soviet Union, much less of a threat than the Soviets relatively speaking, and still we talked to them.

The McCain campaign has recently come out with a commercial stating that Obama called Iran “tiny” and doesn’t think it’s a threat, and obviously lacks the knowledge and experience to be President if he thinks in such a naive way.

So, here’s what I’m thinking. Obviously political campaigns exaggerate and do all sorts of stuff to sway voters. Sometimes they mislead and obscure, and sometimes they even misstate the facts. We’ve had this on both sides so far.

This commercial, in my opinion, is a Karl Rove Blue Plate Special that speeds past distortion and ends up as a pretty obvious lie. Horrors. Politicians lie?

My question is: Can you still vote for a man who is trying to run for office by using lies against his opponent in an attempt to fool you? That’s what he’s doing, you know. Trying to fool you with a lie. It’s not keeping me up at night, and it’s nothing new, but I wonder about those of you who intend to vote for him. Is Obama so bad, so wrong, so…whatever that you’ll swallow a deliberate lie and vote anyway?

If I catch a similar Obama lie, I’ll post that, too, but so far I’m only seeing the usual silly stuff from that side.

Here’s the Obama quote they’re referencing:

“Strong countries and strong Presidents talk to their adversaries. That’s what Kennedy did with Khrushchev. That’s what Reagan did with Gorbachev. That’s what Nixon did with Mao. I mean, think about it: Iran, Cuba, Venezuela — these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don’t pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us. And yet we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying, ‘We’re going to wipe you off the planet.’ And ultimately, that direct engagement led to a series of measures that helped prevent nuclear war and over time allowed the kind of opening that brought down the Berlin Wall.”

And here’s the McCain commercial.

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Convention Watch

UPDATE: 5pm — They’re having a Wonk Moment in Denver, some sort of YouTube-ish panel discussion on the economy, which is a lot of fun to watch on mute (yes, I’m working; I glance up occasionally is all). Which brings me to my observation of the hour: These Democrats sure do look like Democrats. Maybe it’s the lack of sound, but it appears to be a central casting convention. Lots of women. Lots of African-Americans. Lots of various types of humans, actually, all of them looking alternately concerned about the poor and sort of drunk.

This will be in contrast to the Republicans, who are not only meeting in the White City Central, USA, but as we all know have had difficulty attracting people of pigment to their big tent. Just look at the GOP members of Congress. In the Senate and the House, the Republicans have far fewer African-American members, for example. Far fewer. Fewer fewer fewer.

Like, zero.

I have a feeling you’ll be able to get on stage and maybe even be allowed to speak in Minneapolis if you have a decent sunburn.

4pm: I turned on C-SPAN to see what was going on at the Democratic Convention in Denver, although it’s only the first day and currently around 4pm here, which means 5pm there, which means…I have no idea.

Anyway, I had it on mute so I can’t swear to any of this, but a fresh-faced young woman was speaking and the caption (yes, I know it’s called a chyron or a chiron or Chlamydia or something, you know what I mean) identified her as being a delegate from North Dakota. And there eight people on the stage with her, and so I decided to assume they were from North Dakota too, bringing me to the obvious conclusion that there’s nobody left in North Dakota.

Quick. Somebody run over to North Dakota and spray paint some graffiti or steal something. I want to hear details.

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I See The Glass As Half Broken

I met a woman the other night who had been in treatment with me. Small world, although a very specific one in this case, I guess. And not all that amazing; somebody knows somebody else, we go to meetings, we’re in the same region, and so on. Not even close to a miracle, and we would know.

We barely remembered each other, since it was pretty rigidly segregated by sex, but I recognized her and she actually recalled John, from his trip up for Family Weekend. And during our conversation, she mentioned that everyone she knew from that place has relapsed.

This wasn’t much of a surprise, either. It is by far the saddest aspect of addiction and recovery, the horrible odds. Very few longitudinal studies have been done so any numbers you might hear are suspect, but they’re probably pretty dismal.

And so we can toss around the word “miracle” just for that reason alone and feel justified; the odds were against us, and yet here we are.

There’s a randomness to recovery, too, that’s a little intimidating. We spin our stories casually, go through the way it was and what happened and what it’s like now in a couple of minutes, hitting the high and low points, talking about rock bottom and moments of clarity; this is part of the liturgy of 12-step meetings.

And it’s all true, or as true as it can be, but the possibilities are daunting, at least to me. Moments can be pretty flimsy, and sometimes it all feels like chance and luck.

In my story, when I tell it, there’s always the part about the broken glass. It’s my personal metaphor of convenience, how in the last six months I stopped throwing out the empties. They multiplied, spilled over off my desk and onto the floor, and eventually I had to be careful walking in the room. Still, I cut my feet sometimes.

It’s a good story. My life had become unmanageable.

Two years ago, on August 24, 2006, I left home, went across the mountains to eastern Washington for three weeks, and I haven’t had a drink since. It doesn’t occur to me to do that, drink, but I’m aware that it could, so I do some stuff. I talk. I move. I think, meditate, walk, share, read, pray, laugh, reflect. I keep busy, and I’m scared of nothing.

Seriously.

What I have are synonyms of fear. It’s hard to explain. I feel anxiety, and nervousness, and worry and concern. I imagine all sorts of bad things, just like you do, from time to time. I just don’t feel fear. Not the way I used to, and it’s really just an attitude adjustment. What’s the worst that can happen? we say, and some of us can say it easily, because we know the answer. Been there, done that.

I doubt there’s anyone who knows me well who wouldn’t tell you I’m a pretty different person, two years out. I act differently, I look different, I do different things. I’m happy. I’m calmer. I’m more at peace, I love more deeply, I care more passionately, I feel more intensely, I hope more fervently and I am more cynical in a million different ways, because I know the odds now.

I see the glass, in other words, not as half full or half empty, but as half broken. There’s danger there but also possibilities. Some things can be fixed, there is a solution, but life is complicated and I have, ultimately, control only of myself. I’m doing the best I can, too.

That makes me a realist, I guess, but mostly I’m just grateful for the grace I see every day, including those who are still suffering. I can’t help but see them. They fight compulsions of all kinds, and it shows if you know what to look for. Too talkative, too quiet, too nervous, too calm. They pace outside bars, they eat while they walk, they scratch lottery tickets before they get out the door, and they remind me of me.

I wish them the best but I know the worst that can happen, and mostly I just watch them, and if I catch them walking oddly through the world, limping, lurching and stumbling, sometimes I wonder if it’s only because their feet are bleeding.

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WWJD

(This is the original post, or Part 1, I guess, on this subject.)

In the comments from the last post, Jim set me up for the ideal segue. To recap, I wondered aloud (and rhetorically; I know the answer) why the audience at Saddleback would be so apparently one-sided in their support of John McCain (in a polite way; they were responsive and attentive to Obama, as well).

And, of course, it could be that a significant portion will, after all, vote for Obama. But if we assume the little quick and dirty poll done at the end is accurate, the question remains.

Jim suggested it was simply a matter of constituencies. He asked, what if this discussion was sponsored by the NAACP? This is where I was heading, actually, although the NAACP doesn’t analogize well with Saddleback. First and foremost, Obama isn’t the “black” candidate, anymore than McCain is the “Vietnam veteran” candidate. And, of course, even if you assumed that the NACCP was an accurate representation of the opinion and feelings of African-Americans, which is statistically problematic, it’s irrelevant: It’s not that black Americans will vote overwhelmingly for Obama, because they will. It’s that black Americans will vote overwhelmingly for the Democrat. Because they have.

This is a constituency. There are historical reasons why African-Americans appear to feel more comfortable with the Democratic Party than the Republicans; I don’t need to get into that, anymore than why Big Oil, for example, feels more comfortable with the GOP. You know all this.

Just as you know that, in broad strokes, people who tend more conservative drift toward the Republicans and their opposite number toward the Democrats.

(Noting, in fairness, that there are a large number of people registering as Independents who see little practical difference between the two political parties. Whole ‘nother subject.)

But why evangelical Christians? And why do we use the term “evangelical,” when to a lot of people who don’t spend a lot of time thinking about such things, that term really reflects a style and not a doctrinal difference? I mean, to someone who is not a believer or has a different faith system, don’t Ted Kennedy, Billy Graham, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all pretty much share the same faith, the same belief in the Word of God and the divinity of a historically vague Palestinian Jew who roused the rabble and changed the world? Isn’t everybody going to heaven?

Heh. Sorry. Just couldn’t help myself. Silly me.

Barack Obama is a Christian. He says so. His story is well documented. He speaks the language. He knows the code words, he’s read the stories, he sings without the hymnal. So whether or not you’re bothered by the Constitutional questions or the inappropriateness of focusing on faith, shouldn’t this question be off the table? if it’s important to you as a Christian to have a leader who shares your faith, it’s all good, right? We can move on to foreign policy and tax issues.

And yet we have Saddleback, and Rick Warren asking these guys what it means to them to be a Christian. John McCain answered, “It means I’m saved and forgiven.” OK, well, I get that. I’ve actually asked that question and heard pretty much that same answer lots of times. But usually from 9-year-olds. The man is 72. Really? That’s all you got?

It’s his business. I have no interest in McCain’s spiritual life at all. I really don’t. I want him to be a good and ethical person if he’s going to be President, but I don’t care if he goes to church or reads the Bible or sings to the trees and worships the lilies of the field. But he was there, he was trying to make a connection, and he gave a giant philosophical and spiritual question the response of a typical third-grader.

And that seemed to be good enough. Because it’s not about faith, it’s not about doctrine, it’s not about leading a Christian life, it’s not about the Good News of Jesus Christ, and it surely isn’t about health care.

It’s actually about sex, but I’ll continue this later.

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Someone On The Internet Is Wrong

I’m surprised at how this Saddleback thing has irritated me. Really surprised.

The last time politics irritated me was during the Gingrich/Contract With America/How Much Is That Blue Dress In The Window (without or without stain) era, and I closed at least one eye for a bit.

Lately, though, I’ve enjoyed it, and reveled in all my political junkiness. True, the Democratic primary season was a little tenuous, what with my wife and I favoring different candidates, but even then she was more passionate about hers. I just took a liking to Obama because he seemed familiar, somehow, somebody I could relate to, and I thought Clinton was (duh) a lightning rod for crazies.

And the Republicans were fun to watch, frankly.

Full disclosure: Last year, when the campaign was brand new, only about 16 years along, I thought about all the announced candidates and came to a conclusion.

“If I had to choose one,” I told Julie, “and I had the power to install a president right this second, I think I’d go with Biden.”

She sort of snorted. “Good luck with THAT.”

I’m just saying. In case Obama picks him for veep.

But now? I’m irritated. Blame it on Saddleback.

I thought Obama was fine. I sort of wish he wouldn’t think out loud, um and ah his way to a thought, but people do that. We’re just a little used to glibness from our politicians. But he obviously seemed to be taking the whole thing seriously, and props to him for going into hostile territory.

And it is. Hostile, if tempered hostility. People identifying themselves as “evangelical Christians,” which means Saddleback, tend to vote overwhelmingly (75% or so) Republican. More on that in a bit.

And the tickets for this event were $500-1000 a shot. Wealthy people tend to vote Republican in large numbers, too.

As for McCain, we got some nice glibness. I have no idea if the fact that he agreed to be backstage in a room where he couldn’t hear Obama’s questioning, and then reneged and showed up halfway through the first session, gave him an advantage. If it did, I didn’t see it. He was calm, smooth and articulate, and obviously had a mission: To get his message out to a particular audience, and he did it well. Even if he had the questions written on the back of his hand with Magic Marker, I doubt it would have made much of a difference. And who cares? This was just a Saddleback thing, not a sanctioned debate.

I was curious about Rick Warren; I lost count of how many times he said to Obama some variation of “Don’t give us your stump speech,” and yet sat back and let McCain give us his stump speech. Maybe he just got tired. But he was a nice interviewer, polite and friendly, and they were interesting questions.

So what’s wrong?

I mean, aside from the fact that two Presidential candidates participated in an event organized by one of the country’s most influential religious leaders, a situation that skates on thin Constitutional ice and could be considered unAmerican. Nobody forced them. So it’s not that. I didn’t have a problem there.

And really, it’s not that McCain told a touching story about when he was a captive in Vietnam and a prison guard silently drew a cross in the dirt on Christmas, signifying comradeship in Christianity. A story that seems now, at least to a lot of people, to look suspiciously like it was made up. I mean, it’s still a good story. And people misremember stuff all the time. Hillary Clinton had a nice story about landing under sniper fire, if you recall. Moving on.

And you know, it’s not really that when Warren asked Obama what current Supreme Court justice he wouldn’t had appointed had he been President (a remarkably stupid question for this level; why not ask him what he would have done differently at the Battle of Yorktown had he been General Lord Cornwallis? Still, it was designed to enlighten us, I suppose), Obama hemmed and hawed (again) a bit and then said he didn’t think Clarence Thomas had the right background to be nominated. Fair enough. And then he also mentioned that he disagreed with Scalia and Roberts, although admired their intellects and legal know-how.

Or that when McCain got the question, he immediately spit out the names of the four “liberal,” or left-leaning, justices. No careful consideration. No wrestling with thought at all, apparently. Although at least he didn’t hem and haw. Just came right out and named ’em, the damn liberals.

it’s not even that he didn’t mention, and Warren certainly didn’t comment on, the fact that John McCain, you know. Voted to confirm three of them (he wasn’t a senator when the fourth, Stevens, was nominated). You could call this pandering. You could call it pandering like a fox.

None of that bothered me. Not McCain breaking the agreement, possibly lying about an anecdote designed to sway people, and pandering like Eddie Haskell on running into Mrs. Cleaver in the hallway.

Because I’m an Obama Guy. I surely am seeing this through my own lens, no matter how objective I might think I am, or try to be. Maybe it was Obama who cheated, lied and pandered. Could happen.

No, what bothers me is this: A reporter polled the audience later and couldn’t find one member who said they intended to vote for Obama. Not one.

Odd. I mean, the man’s been ahead in the polls for a long time, if only by a little. Surely somebody at Saddleback will vote for him, right?

Well, I have some thoughts. Let’s think about this for a bit, though, all right? It’s already long enough. I’ll be back with more questions in 24 hours or so.

NO FAIR COMING LATE, EITHER.

Read Part Two

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Rumbling

Note: So, after Sunday night I had to get up and write a newspaper column. Hmm. What to write, what to write…thought I’d post it now, a day early. Just because.

I was fortunate last week, I found out, to have missed the terror that began to sweep the nation on Wednesday, when apparently thousands of Americans opened their mailboxes and saw no red envelope. I was oblivious to the horror as it became apparent that something at NetFlix was horribly, horribly wrong.

I still don’t know what happened, although I haven’t really looked into it. Apparently the DVD-by-mail service had a glitch of some sort, and shipments got delayed, and for a while the country shook. Movies went unwatched, and so on.

I’m a fan of NetFlix, actually, and I’ve used their service off and on for years, although lately I tend to watch very little, and usually only on weekends. So by Saturday, when I expected a disk in the mail, I wasn’t disappointed. Sometimes you get lucky.

The film I’d ordered was “Smart People,” something I’d made a note of last winter when it was released and then promptly forgot about. And it’s not a great movie, or even very good. Starring Dennis Quaid, Thomas Hayden Church, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Ellen Page (from “Juno”), it’s a cloudy film, colored by neurosis and dysfunction.

Quaid plays an English literature professor, pompous and arrogant, a widower who endures a shiftless brother (Church) and accepts the meticulous management of his household by his daughter (Page), all the while ignoring the fact that she is, still, only a girl.

There was something about it, though, that intrigued me, and I finally figured it out. It was the sound of the men, Quaid and Church, the timbre and color of their voices. They were baritones, scratchy and broken, and in their dialogue together they produced a middle-aged harmonic, rumbling of weariness.

This is the way my father sounded. This is the way I sound, I think, or at least what I hear on my voice mail message. It’s not depressing or gloomy, but a soundtrack of life in midstream. And particularly the lives of men, men who stumble through their days, clueless at times and just jerks at others, confused and terrified by the things they love the most.

Women, in other words.

I know all about this confusion. I’ve been married to a woman for 25 years, and the father of another for nearly 24. I’ve spent half of my life, in other words, baffled (I spent the other half sleeping) and helpless. No wonder we sound like this.

Some of you have been with me a long time. I began writing this column when my daughter was 16, and you’ve endured some whining, moaning and flailing on my part as I came to terms with childhood’s end. When she graduated from high school, I walked around, muttering to myself. When she left for college, I sat in her room and wept. When she came home for visits I got far too excited, and far too depressed when she left.

But somehow we survived, and lately things have been nothing but good. She graduated from college and moved to Boston, along with several friends and, of course, Cameron, the young man who came into her life nearly four years ago.

I like Cameron a lot. He’s everything I wasn’t at his age: Calm, relaxed, and sprinting into his future. He’s a stunning singer, and suddenly in demand all over the country. I’m more than a little impressed.

This summer, in fact, he had an enforced absence from my daughter, leaving her in Boston while he spent 10 weeks in Santa Fe, singing for his supper and making a jillion professional contacts. It would be a hard time for any relationship at any stage of life, but for young people…well, let’s just say we worried and hoped for the best.

Well. The best. It’s hard to quantify, sometimes, but Cameron sent me an email a few weeks ago, telling me his plans, asking me what I thought and politely requesting that I keep my mouth shut, a wise thing since his girlfriend’s dad tends to spill family secrets in public. Still, I kept my promise, and he got back on Sunday.

As I said, some of you have been with me on this journey for a while now. So I thought I’d pass it on, the young couple reunited, a successful summer, and now a daughter who called, happy and amused and wanting to share the news that she wears a ring on her finger.

I once noted that I’d discovered an imperative floating around in the back of my mind, all these years: Get the girl grown. Let her do well before I mess things up, let her find happiness and peace. And love, of course. Mostly love.

There was a fair amount of excitement in this house last Sunday, too. Phone calls were made and conversations were held, and at some point I listened to the sound of my own voice. It rumbles through the walls, I suspect, weary and smoky. I wear my heart on my vocal cords, it feels sometimes, and our lives are accompanied by my own middle-aged harmonic, born out of bafflement and worry and fear and concern.

It’s just that right now, at least in my mind, it sort of sounds like music.

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Circles, Cycles, Rings

Some of you have been with me a long time.

It’s been five years this month since I started a blog. Five years is an eternity in technological terms, although changes are more attenuated these days. Still, back then I had to explain a lot what a blog was, and why I would want to have one.

And the truth is, I didn’t quite know. I already had a writing gig, one that still theoretically gives me a weekly readership that dwarfs this site (although I have no idea, really, how many people actually read my column and how many use it as a convenient place to set down their cups of coffee). But it sounded interesting, a workout, maybe, a little writer’s gym, a place to try things out, stretch some prose, sweat out a few tight metaphors and maybe cuss a little.

What I got, though, surprises me still.

Relationships. Real ones, some of the light and fluffy variety and some…something else. Substantial. Intimate. Mutual.

I know your names, and the names of your kids, spouses and pets. I know what you do and what you like. I’ve met several of you in real time, flesh on flesh, breaking a little bread together and finding old friends I’ve just met.

And you know about me. Good stuff, bad stuff.

Again, five years is a long time. Blogs are born, flare up and die down in much less time. Things change, and identifying a constant is hard, other than I’m still here, clicking away.

But for a while there, a common theme in all the jokes and lists and column cross-pollination and movie reviews and sentiment and worry had to do with the fact that I thought it was possible a hole had opened in my life and all my air had escaped.

This was true, too, although I didn’t understand it back then, so I assumed it was because once there had been a little red-haired girl around here, and suddenly she was gone.

That’s when she left for college, August 2003. I was sort of a mess. I sat in her bedroom and cried sometimes. I got excited when she came home and depressed when she left again. This is not right, I thought, but of course it was. Right, and natural, and a good thing. Particularly for her, I would think.

So I moped and I whined, and I drank a whole bunch of vodka and then I stopped doing that, and meanwhile she just kept moving on. Four years in Texas, a degree, a plan, a move. Love. Cameron came along and just had to accept the fact that his girlfriend had a father who told family secrets for a living, who documented his strange life in a very public way and that was going to include him and if he didn’t like it well maybe I’ll just blog about that, too. Sheesh. Might be awkward.

It’s nice to note, then, that things have settled down some. I wish that girl lived closer, but I love Boston and love that she’s there. And Cameron’s a great guy, and even though I haven’t met his parents yet I like them already from e-mails and such. And I’ve become more discreet with what I spill, trying to think ahead of time (always a challenge) and maybe leave some things unsaid.

Like what Cameron told me, a couple of weeks ago. He’s been in Santa Fe all summer, singing for a living, while Beth stayed in Boston, and he emailed me and mentioned that when he headed back east he wasn’t coming empty-handed and what did I think? and oh yeah, could I please keep my mouth shut about it?

He got back yesterday.

I just thought that some of you would like to know. Some of you who’ve been with me on this odd journey, who’ve read between the lines or sometimes, you know, the actual lines, who’ve heard the stories and the updates, who maybe feel about my family the way I do about yours. Familiar. Curious. Concerned. Intrigued. Interested.

There was a question, apparently, and an answer. There were phone calls to make, and now plans to firm up, and my girl is happy and she’s got a ring on her finger, and I look around and I’m seeing no holes at all, not one.

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Signs Of The Time

I’ve been in this house 20 years, this month. That should stagger me, but I look out my window and see the same neighbors, the same trees, the same motor home (well, no, but it looks like the same one) in Larry’s yard, and the same driveway. I’m constantly surprised these days, actually, by how slowly some things move.

A month ago, for example, Julie and I drove down Broadway on Capitol Hill in Seattle, our old stomping grounds when we were in our 20s and newly relocated to the Northwest. If you had asked me in 1983 to imagine Broadway in the year 2008, I suspect I’d have had some funny images.

But naw. Pretty much the same, all in all.

Anyway. I walked into the Safeway this morning, for some reason this on my mind. I don’t go there all that often anymore, but for a while back in the late 80s it my store of choice, by proximity if nothing else. And so I was thinking about holding 3-year-old Beth’s hand while we walked through the parking lot, etc.

The guy who checked me out has been there a long time, I thought, so I asked him. Turns out he’s worked there since the store opened, so we had a little competition, pointing out what we remembered about store design changes, new construction in the neighborhood, etc. And then I thought of something.

“Here’s how long I’ve been coming here, ” I said.

“I once was buying some beer here, and I got carded.”

I win.

Maybe.

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