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Morning brings ground fog, low to the ground and drifting west to east. It burns off quickly with light from both the East and reflected windshields. I wish my memory was that quickly dissolved. Instead it is reminds me of the train tracks that run behind the apartment complexes on the western edge of town. Unused, unmaintained and steadfast. Remaining just to remain. Overgrown weeds and stolen ties don't deter them. They are here for the long haul.

On the way home, I search for an ATM and find one in the center of a darkened parking lot. A small oasis of light in the black concrete plain. I wonder why there is not music coming from the little machine and I wish for some Chopin or Debussey. A small refrain would be enough.

The feel of being where you belong. Walking in the door to a sleepy room with the tv left on at low volume. Scooping her naked body into your arms. Stumbling in the dark, but catching your footing in time to gently place her in bed where she belongs. Being strong when you have to, but not having too much pride to cry like a child when you need to. The ups. The downs. The joy out weights the pains. Knowing that things are built because they are better that way. Not because of selfish needs. The smile that makes you forget your problems and reminds you that no matter what happens, everything will fall into place one day. Life is worth holding on to.

I have never, that I can recollect, been truly terrified more than once in a 24 hour period. Until tonight. Leading us to this writeup...

At this time, I am living with my parents trying to find a job that doesn't involve flipping burgers. This means I am in a small town, which only has one store. To get to the point, a store that doesn't sell my particular brand of smokes. To get them, I have to walk roughly 7 miles to a truck stop, which is a 2 and a half hour trip, mostly along unlit, empty country roads.

I've been on a 4:30 AM to 8 PM sleep schedule lately, which means I was tired to start with when I set out (at 11 PM). For logistical reasons, AKA hiding my smoking from my parents, who should be able to accept that their dear little 22 year old son is able to make decisions for himself, even stupid and potentially fatal ones, but are most certainly not, I don't dare leave before they have gone to sleep. I digress... I was sleep deprived when I set out. That is where I've been going this last paragraph.

First it's a half mile through town, which is reasonably well lit. After that, it's not, especially when there is no moon and heavy clouds. The first big stretch is a 2 or 3 mile road, with fallow fields on either side. I'd walked this stretch of road numerous times, both on other cigarette runs, and back when I lived in this wasteland. But I am quite sure that I have never seen a reddish glow on the horizon on that road before. It was directly in front of me, and, as there were no other lights, I could not tell how far away it was. My best guess was it was right on the bridge that crossed over a small stream about a mile away. For some reason, the thought pops into my head of 'oh, it's an alien landing', which I laugh at as pure nonsense. But shortly thereafter, I began to feel like I was loosing control of my body - my head was spinning, and my body felt light. In the dark, all alone, with a mild case of sleep deprivation, everything became a monster. A small tree at the side of the road became a ravenous thing laying in wait for me. A small mammal in the ditch was a giant spider, sneaking up on me from behind. By the time I reached the end of the road, the only thing holding me onto sanity was the running commentary I kept in my head of my reactions. Other than that, my brain had de-evolved into something quite similar to what a small lizard might have. I am eternally grateful that I didn't run into some poor farmer or local kid on that road, because I truly believe I might have kicked in their head, or knifed them, out of mindless fear.

Despite being a wreck, I made it to civilization without any serious trouble. I bought 3 packs of smokes, and confused the crew by walking off down the road (I don't think this is typical behavior at truck stops). Walking back, I felt much better, though I realize now I was still somewhat unhinged. I felt that, being such a good smoker, the nicotine demons would protect me from harm. I don't think that is a sane thing to actually believe.

In any case, I make my way back to the monster infested road from hell. With the strange red light out of sight behind me and the lights of the town in front, the feelings I had before seem almost silly. I walk and I smoke and I even sang to myself a little bit. By the time I'm a mile away from town, I start thinking about how nice it will be to sit down and rest my legs, and drink a few of those Tecates I had in the fridge. And then I hear, out of the darkness around me, a large dog starting to growl. I pull out my cheap, stupid pocketknife (how I wished for one of my switchblades at that moment), and begin to scream. Not a yell of 'Go away, bad doggie!', but of pure fear and rage, saying "I am big and mean and if you get near me I will fight" without any words. By this time I can see him, in the field next to me, following along with me. I keep walking, and screaming. A few times he looked like he was going to cross over from the field into the road... at which time I would have killed it, or gotten seriously hurt attempting said act. Believe me, I am not a bad person. Or at least, not bad enough to want to hurt or kill animals. But I would have done it.

We keep up our little dance, me, walking sideways with a knife in my hand, screaming, and our canine friend, following along, growling and barking. Eventually he slowed, then stopped, letting me continue on my way, with the receding volume of his threats letting me know it was safe enough to turn my back (though I checked every 10 seconds, all the way home, just to make sure).

Home. Lights. Beer. Safety. And as I'm sitting outside reading Howard Zinn and acting quite a lot like a normal person in civilization, I realize that the truly messed up thing about tonight was not what happened around me (which was weird enough), but that I spent most of the night with all of my higher levels of thought turned off. It is amazing what a little dark can do to someone...

All true. It's been a bad night.

† I've been taken to carrying a weapon on these trips ever since I heard two dogs stalking me in the dark while on one, around the end of September.

Happy birthday honey!!!

My kid turns nine today and I’m sorta in a reflective kinda mood so here goes.

Only nine years old and you’ve already been a nurse to those who are sick, a veterinarian to animals in need, a scientist in search of new and wondrous things, and an imaginary schoolteacher to your class of stuffed animals.

Only nine years old and you’ve already been a poet who’s short efforts speak volumes, an author of stories that live in your heart and wind up on paper, a songwriter who brings joy to the words that come out of her, a soccer player with a sense of determination and sportsmanship that is rare in one so young, and a ballet dancer in search of a performance.

Only nine years old and you’re already a budding pianist who brings music to my ears, a painter of many styles and colors and who has yet to discover boundaries and whose works adorn my refrigerator , an actress willing to take on parts both tough and tender, a doctor to those in need of healing, and a baseball player trying for the game winnning hit.

Only nine years old and you’ve already been a gourmet chef who specializes in French toast, a seamstress who mends clothes for her dolls, a philanthropist who recognizes the need for good, a salesperson on behalf of the Girl Scouts, a marine biologist in the deepest of oceans, an astronomer who gazes at the stars with a sense of awe and wonder, and an astrologist who finds meaning in such things.

Only nine years old and you’ve already been an architect with a flair for the dramatic, a pacifist who can’t conceive of violence, a philosopher who’s thoughts and reflections are a constant source of amazement, a dreamer of dreams, and a keeper of promises.

You've been all of that and so much more. In a strange way, I wish I could stop time and keep you where you are and in an even stranger way, I can’t wait for the rest to unfold…

Tonight we’re going to celebrate by having some of the neighborhood kids and their parents over for ice cream and cake. While they’re over, I’m going to be thinking about some words written by Bob Dylan many years ago that I hope hold true for the rest of your life. It’s a song called Forever Young and while I don’t know if I can use them here anymore, I’m going to try.

Forever Young

May God bless and keep you always,
May your wishes all come true,
May you always do for others
And let others do for you.
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous,
May you grow up to be true,
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
Stand upright and be strong,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

Happy Birthday kiddo!!!!

I'm tired

I'm tired of being tired
I'm tired of being busy
I'm tired of things I don't need being shoved in my face telling me I need to buy them
I'm tired of seeing pain
I'm tired of feeling pain
I'm tired of working in a job i don't really like
I'm tired of cars, bills and noise
I'm tired of hearing about kings and tyrants
I'm tired of waiting
I'm tired of being mad and frustrated
I'm tired of dreaming and not doing
I'm tired of shouting and crying
I'm tired of feeling lonely
I'm tired of the War
I'm tired of seeing the War on TV
I'm tired of politics
I'm tired of religion
I'm tired of knowing this won't end until I die
I'm tired of everything seeming so far from my reach
I'm tired of not saying the things I want to say
I'm tired of not being able to scream
I'm tired of worrying about everything
I'm tired

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