Thursday, March 19, 2009

Life is a Fairway

Yesterday for the first time in at least 3 years I went golfing ..It was a wonderful Spring day , four men brought together in Gods purposeful way. Golf is a game that engages all the senses , the budding trees , the flags fluttering in the distance the sound of the ball going into the cup, the taste of fresh mud as your wedge cleaves into the soil , the smell of sun lotion and Ben Gay , The camaraderie was enjoyable , each person cheering each other on , and some good natured kidding and gamesmanship . Although the Starter Pistol gag was a little extreme. But considering this is the South I am blessed it wasn't a shotgun .

My only regret was the game I had planned to play remained in my mind and not on the fairways . When I was much younger I would frequently end up playing with these " older " golfers . It was not unusual for me to blast the ball far past their best efforts ...yet steadily they moved forward more often than not they actually played in the designated fairway , they hit it short but straight , simply by playing each long hole as one stroke more ( par fours became par fives , par fives became par six ). Mixing in some great short game play these old golfers would sail around the course posting scores in the low to mid 80's.

My game was usually more dramatic , turning 3's into par fives and par fives into threes as I would post scores in the low to mid 80's as well . When I was playing competitively in college I played to a solid 3 handicap , spending several hours a day working on my game , and while playing cursing every shot that was less than perfect . In those days I owned several club records including the greatest distance for throwing a Driver with no wind assist ( 123.5 yards ).

I wasn't much fun to play with in those days ...I was grouchy and my style of play left me alone in one distant fairway or another wasn't until much much later that I started to enjoyed golf on a whole new level , this really started to happen when I actually had to pay to play . I had little or no time for practice , I started to put less pressure on myself and simply enjoy spending time on the course. I started to notice some interesting changes in my game . I was actually hitting the ball longer , much longer , due in part to the change in golf equipment ( metal woods, graphite shafts ) And a change in body weight ( I was no longer a slender Adonis , instead I had become a chubby wood nymph ..... Middle to long irons where just a little off , and the short game was unpredictable . But when I posted a score it was usually in the high seventies to low 80's . I found myself actually enjoying the people I was golfing with , especially my favorite foursome stubby , lefty and hoot. Not only an interesting group of nicknames but an interesting trio , these three guys had worked in the Portland Steel mills and were all now on disability leave since an unfortunate explosion in the foundry. Stubby had lost three inches off his left leg, Lefty was one armed , and hoot had no hearing and no balance . Suddenly I found myself wining more beverages than usual at the the 19th hole . Although in time Stubby became quite a good golfer when he learned to take advantage of uphill lies.

All good things often come to an end ..and this was no exception , married with child on the way...responsibility crept into my life , like a dust bunny under the couch ...for the next 13 years golf was pushed aside as I worked to provide for my family. I worked as hard on providing asI had worked on my youthful Golf game , I returned to grouchy and not being much fun to live with and in time I squandered the relationship , and watching my daughter grow up quickly as a golf ball can swerve dead left and into a lake , I found myself alone with nothing but debt and set of golf clubs that had once ruled the Astoria Golf and Country Club Fairways ...

To take my mind off the failed marriage , I worked as a fireman at a local resort , Black Butte Ranch in the Foothills of the Cascade Mountains ..I had been very active with the local Volunteer Fire dept. and through this association I started also helping out at the resort , It was a busy department with a fair share of motor vehicle accidents , ambulance calls , forest fires and a few structure fires . We lived on site and that provided me with shower facilities since I had given the house to my former family. I also had golf privileges there and started playing regularly ...we couldn't play when we were on shift but we could hit balls and practice putting if we carried our radios .

It was at this time that I met Lori ...we met on the Internet , in a Christian Chat Room on AOL . In a short time I had found that special someone ...Lori and I were married in 1996 , by then I had once again put away the clubs ...I had actually sold my Ben Hogan Irons. left most of the rest at the fire department. Lori and I moved away from Oregon in 1999...we moved to Tennessee and I started working at the Opryland Hotel ...while in Nashville I tried to pick up Golf again , but I was surprised by how expensive it had gotten , and how humid it was in Tennessee..I couldn't understand why everyone used golf carts , that is until I tried to walk 18 holes on a pleasant July day . My golfing outings were few and far between. I found a public course that had a practice area which I could hit some and shag them , and as I moved up the ladder at the Hotel I started to play more often and thought about getting into some amateur tournaments ...And then came 9/11 .

After the attack I made a decision to move back to the Northwest ...In March of 2002 I drove to the Northwest with out a Job prospect but fully trusting in Gods Providence ..on the way I had a book on tape by M Scott Peck called Golf in the Spirit ...and it kept me company from Nashville to North Bonniville Washington . There my first stop was a Hotel Property called Dolce Skamania Lodge was a great wooden building sitting above the Columbia River . the property had beautiful Golf Course carved into the mountains . After my first interview all I could think of was this is the Job I want , there are no others ...I was asked back for a follow up interview I was surprised , overwhelmed and blessed to have been offered the position .

Skamania is about thirty miles from Portland in the Columbia river gorge is one of the most beautiful places in the world ... Housing would be a problem , or not , in a matter of hours I had located a nice apartment in a wooded area just a few miles from the Hotel . Lori was in Nashville but it would be joining me in a few weeks ..the job at the hotel was a dream job , I was the front office manager and the weekend MOD at night , part of the Job included dining at the restaurant with my wife and critiquing the food and service , not to mention unlimited free golf.

Lori and I were close to friends and close to my daughter , we could drive to the ocean in a few hours or explore the Columbia River Gorge and its vast number of waterfalls and trails. My Golf game improved dramatically and it was certain I was going to do very well in the Senior golf tournaments in the area. I made it a point to visit some of the courses I had grown up on in the Portland area and set personal bests on most of them ...even though my game in many ways had suffered from the years , my attitude and enjoyment of the game was so positive and encouraging ...And then it all came to an end ...Just before Thanksgiving of 2002 I was downsized position at the Hotel had been eliminated , low occupancy in part to 9/11 , forced management to eliminate some management changes and I was low man on the totem pole ...

This remote beautiful area I worked in which was at one time such a friend , became a liability ..and soon it became apparent that Lori and I would have to return to Tennessee where Lori's parents had suggested we could share their home with us ...We returned in June of 2003 and I went to work again at the Opryland Hotel ..assuming that with my experience I could easily work as a front desk manger ..I was humbled by a job offer for a front desk agent ...We needed the income and I accepted ..It was at this time that I received a small inheritance and we used the money to purchase a High end Digital SLR and I started reestablishing a relationship with photography ...soon I was passionately addicted and found myself also working for the hotel as what can be best described as an on site photographer. In time I was promoted several times. I was watching our income and found that I could either take photos or golf in my spare time . Golf was about $30.00 a game and photos were for all practical purposes free .. I choose photography. I played in two church tournaments. and twice in the Opryland employee tournament. These four tournaments were all a four man best ball format and in all of them our team did very well . The highlight round was at a local Lebanon Golf Course where my church team had three straight eagles ....and ended up scoring 59

I left Opryland February of 2006 ...and decided to reinvent myself as a Commercial/portrait Photographer ...I picked up a few weddings , some portrait work and some commercial work... but income was very scarce at one point to make ends meet I tried to sell my clubs ..but at the last minute held onto them .

One night as I was coming to the inescapable conclusion that I was going to have to give up my current " dream " job ..I was speaking to a friend of my wife , she was talking about her daughter's volleyball team and how disappointed she was with the quality of the photos she had of her daughter playing Volleyball , ..I offered to go to a game and take some photos, at the same time she told me of a company in Smyrna that had been taking the photos I also decided to contacted them to see if they needed any Photographers.

I dropped off a resume at Micheal's Photography and a few days later I was contacted by a Dave Warren he asked me to come in for an interview ...Dave hired me and for a year and a half I worked for Micheal's as a free lance photographer ...I loved this job and it also became the glue that held our developing photography business together ...David and I developed a friendship based on our Christian faith , Photography and an Interest in Theater ...David even extended to Lori and I an invitation to come and see a production of Guys and Dolls at some place called Lamplighters theater ...Lori and I love theater , and we were involved with a theater company in Mt Juliet ...we loved the production and were really excited to find out that the Theater Company called Lamplighters was sponsored by a Church ...Lori and I had always wanted to start a Church based theater company . we had wanted to reclaim the arts for the Glory of God ..and here was a church doing it ! Only problem was we where very happy in our church home and we lived about 25 miles away from the Smyrna Church.

Lori and I went about our business we directed a play for the Mount Juliet Theater group and had great reviews fact we shared some review space with a local blogger with another show at Lamplighters .."Much ado about nothing " .

That spring ( 2008 ) was interesting . I was on the board for the Local Community Theater , and was involved deeply in our local church ..Leaving Opryland had been very good for my Church life , Sundays could be spent at church regularly..we even had the opportunity to belong to a Sunday school class...with a modest but steady income from the Photography business , the ability to return to doing some theater and a developing church family ...everything seemed in perfect harmony ...

Then ...I started losing confidence in the Theater Company , who was in my opinion starting to experiment with titillating theater in order to build an audience board member in particular was very uncomfortable to work with ...I choose to leave my board position , then I ran into some problems at the church I was going to and was asked to leave over theological differences ...

Lori and I decided to do some Church shopping and while preparing our list we accepted another invitation from my friend Dave warren and his wife to visit Smyrna Assembly ...the Church that sponsored Lamplighters .

We were simply overwhelmed by the Church service ...while we lived in Oregon we had gone to an Assembly of God and loved it , and we felt right at home ...Lori actually had tears in her eyes after the first service ...that was the first week of June ...and soon there was no doubt in my mind that this was the Church for us ... The worship filled such a void in my life , a void that I had tried to fill up with academic study in theology I seemed much more at peace with myself and my relationship with God ...A few weeks ago Michael's Photography went through a " change " , I no longer have that account , but that has afforded me some " spare " time . I am in a play ( 12 Angry Men ) at Lamplighters. Ironically for the first time in years I am not angry ..I am feeling strangely blessed ..I look back down a series of fairways , of challenges , friends and opportunities all bringing me, a child of God born in Denver Colorado , with a wonderful woman , born in Pennsalvania to a town named Smyrna , with a set of golf clubs I should have sold several years ago.

Yesterday the day I started talking about I went golfing with my Pastor and two Church Members , I played horribly and left physically tired and drained , but it was without a doubt the best golf experience I can remember ...for me it was more than a game , it was an affirmation of Gods steady and mighty hand on my life ...A God who knows when to prune and when to graft , a God who knows how to knit and weave , and bring all things into harmony and unity in His time ... A God who bears us on wings of eagles and can even remind us in a great and ancient game of His grace and love ...

Looking back there has been no random actions ...all is part of a plan still playing out ...and I feel so blessed and so humbled to have been invited to the game .

It was a pleasant spring day , one day in a stretch of days that trail back to the foundation of time , a day purposefully and deliberately planned ...and I was so thankful to participate in it ...

Monday, September 1, 2008

winding down

So there you go I was a normal well adjusted young child growing up in Portland Oregon, the fifties were years of celebration and innocence , the sixties were in the future and few clouds could be seen on the horizon.
As my adventures escalated I was becoming more aware of the background noises , the static of the world I was growing up in. I remember listing to the radio in 1953 that the Koren war had come to a uneasy end. I was aware in the same year that we had a new President of the United States a war hero name Dwight D Eisenhower. Each year brought more and more awareness of the world I had been invited into During this period from 1953 to 1960. I didn't know it at the time but I was a Boomer, part of a great wave of children born as World war two ended and hundreds of thousands of young men and women settled down , after the brutal World wide conflict. The parents of the boomers were gracious and giving , no expense was spared to build schools and playgrounds. Boomer parents wanted above all else that their children live in a world that was better than the world they remembered before the War began. I think they also knew there would be a cost and they were prepared to pay it, roads were built , schools were raised , college's were getting record enrollments.
American Victory in World war 2 gave Americans a profound sense of moral certitude , good had triumphed over evil , and we were very good. There are a great number of books that explore this period in our countries History , this is not one of them , I care to note that growing up in Portland Oregon between 1953 and 1960 was not growing up in a vacuum ..the politics of the nation and the politics of the world were a backdrop to my life , my growth and my understanding of the world.
These early years were helping me to lay down a foundation that I would continue to build upon for the rest of my life. early in my life I was Diagnosed with Asthma which usually manifested itself in the form of severe Hay fever , from a very early age I was taking shots for this affliction, the shots were given to me at a doctors office about a mile and a half from where I lived so twice a week I would walk either with my mother or by myself to the clinic and receive two shots in each arm. While pretty annoying , these shots allowed me to participate after a few years in most outdoor activities. For several years I spent much of my time indoors and with little or no television available I discovered the magic of books , I read voraciously devouring books at an amazing rate. I was interested in science and nature and in the classics. I spent long hours at the Hillsdale Library which had recently opened. IN the third grade we were required to read at least one book per month and I was reading one a day. I was becoming a nerd and was unhappy with this development , I would hide my glasses when I went to school and I would try to excel in sports and and adventure often failing spectacularly. I quickly began a pattern of easily getting the highest grades in my tests and neglecting to turn in homework a result I recieved the grades of an average student , and was also involved in several accelerated programs for above average students as well , I was in a speracil language class that taught German as a second language , and I was in the Seventh and Eight grade special science class which I was admitted to when I was in the Fourth Grade .
Both of these honors were readily embraced by my parents. Neither my mother or father had graduated from High School , yet both of them had a profound appreciation of education, My mother would spend long hours with both my brother and I using what were called flash cards , these flash cards were designed to assist us with Math and Language skills. Reading was encouraged and expected in our home , and both my Brother Bob and I were encouraged to have discussions with the adult friends of my parents. My father assisted both bob and I in our interests , he helped with Science fair projects and drove us to the Library even when bone tired and weary from his physically challenging job of lineman / tree trimmer for Portland general electric . My parents were not only concerned about our education they were also interested in our spiritual well being so they started taking us to the Hillsdale Community Church just a few blocks away. On Sundays we would go to Sunday School class , Bob and I went downstairs to the children's class , and my Mother and Father would stay upstairs. We would then meet together upstairs to hear the message sing songs and pass the offering plate.
In class we would talk about Jesus and the Disciples and the hero's of the Bible , Noah , we spent allot of time on Noah and Joseph. Our Church had lots of Youth activities and potlucks and seemed to be very pleasant. I have no negative recollections of my early Church life , and in fact learned to enjoy wearing my suit and tie to the service. If I had to choose I would say I enjoyed the later part of the service the most , espicially the songs ...even at a very early age I had several favorite songs that I enjoyed hearing . MY father had a pretty good voice and I enjoyed hearing him sing I come to the Garden alone , and the Old Rugged Cross . Years latter we would sing that song at his funeral.
My mother did not work outside of the home , when I came home from school she was there , and usually with some kind of treat , cupcakes , cookies , jello and kool-aide When we burst through the door mom would ask about our day and we would give her the highlights , sometimes we had friends with us and they would be welcome and fed as well. If we went to a friends house after school always let Mom know in advance that was our plan and where ever we went there would a mom there as well with cupcakes, cookies, Jello and kool-aide.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What happened between Weed And Selma ( Looking back )

What happened between Shasta and Fresno backtracking

There are two answers to this ..the first is I don't know where that part of the book went off too , I am not very organized and if it wern't for Lori , there would be nothing left of that project ... I believe I did at one time have a written record of that day ...but not now.
The second answer is I have a very good idea ....
It was early morning when I was in Weed at the gas station, the cold air would have kept me awake and I turned left just out of Weed onto Interstate 5 ...heading south..its a downhill ride from Weed and soon the temperature would have been warming , there was no evidence of the sun rising , but in a few hours I would be getting tired ...more than likely I stopped and found a place in Redding California to sleep ..I like sleeping in a car , it feels safe and cave like ...when you wake up you simply tilt your seat up and go ...Probably as I went to sleep then for the next several hours I owuld have started thinking , really thinking about the turns and twists of my life ...when I remove myself from all the distractions of life I start thinking about me. Selfish perhaps, but there are some times when you look back, you know how it is day you are six years old , you are chasing dandilions and throwing tantrums when you are told to go to bed feel the first startling twinges of independence , and every thing is new much new you simply can't take it all in , so your mind stores up memories which come flooding back to you when you least expect it. I would have started to think about my life in terms of memorable periods ...The early years from six to twelve , High School years , Sandy and the serious dating years , First marriage and college , Divorce , college , and Diana , Karen , Kaisa , and the Store in Sisters . Once I had started putting my life into these spaces I would like putting together a beach cabin Jigsaw Puzzel begin to fill in the middle ...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sunset Strip

( Please note that there is a part missing between the Gas Station in Shasta and the trip to Los Angeles )
That evening I decided to drive into Los Angeles. I would be there very late, but I would miss the traffic. The conversation with my cousin had really started me thinking. I went back to the thought about our lives being a tapestry, and I was realizing there is not much difference between a net and a tapestry, and the difference between them. I wondered how many people were caught in nets of their own. When we enter life, we are a part of someone’s work - the life we weave is a part of a larger work and often just our past traps us before we even have a chance to start our own work. Nancy had grown up in Selma; a child of Dust Bowl evacuees, her entire world had been formed around a hub of grape farming. She had inherited her mother’s smile, her father’s laugh and her family’s religion.

I must admit that this has been a huge stumbling block in my Christian life. It has always seemed to me that Christianity does have a cultural component to it, that many people who are Christians in the United States would be Muslim if they were born in Iraq. It has always seemed to me that there are loving and gentle people of good heart who are associated with most of the world faiths, and there are people who love to condemn others in most faiths as well.

Well, the drive from Selma to Los Angeles takes abut three hours, and I was up and over the Grapevine by 2 a.m. I had an urge to Cruise Sunset Blvd. I grew up with television, and Sunset Strip was one of those great icons of my youth. I have seen so many car chases down Sunset Blvd., I knew I would be no stranger there.

Soon I saw an exit that proclaimed Sunset Blvd /Hollywood, and I took it - and for a little bit, I did feel I was in the wrong place. This road of my teenage dreams wound unimpressively through a residential neighborhood, then squeezed past UCLA. I craned my neck, looking for the famous coeds, but none appeared. I drove past the Hotel California, past the famous neighborhoods of star worship - but I saw very few people or cars. Then I surged out of Beverly Hills and into the Sunset Blvd. of my remembrance. It’s not difficult to find temptation on the Strip, and everywhere I looked there were girls: some quietly and some sheepishly offering themselves for sale to the men and boys who flitted like fruit flies on the Strip and the intersecting roads. I saw lots of police, but they seemed hopelessly outnumbered. The words of the Paul Simon song, The Boxer, found their way into my mind: “There were times when I was so lonely that I took some comfort there,” and I wondered what drove the men to circle and the women to offer themselves up to strangers with such ease. I thought, “Somewhere there is a wife sleeping, comfortably unaware; and someplace else, a girlfriend fretting. Somewhere, a family room with a picture of a pert young girl with a flawless complexion looking out over the mantle. How many faces did I see that where in some living room in a distant land, framed with love and remembered in adoration? I wonder how long it takes for a policeman on this beat to lose faith with his or her fellowman, and distill all of us into a caricature of these evening immigrants. They are explorers and inhabitants of a world that borders Suburbia. Sedans and station wagons replace covered wagons and sailing ships - but there is only bitter harvest here. No minerals, no lumber - only broken dreams and passionless passion. I’m sure both seller and customer each will bear the marks of the blows that cut them down. I admit that I was fascinated by this swarm of people – the furtive looks, the outlandish appearance, the men in cars darting from lane to lane. Police with stoic understanding, stopping, questioning. Lights glimmering neon; proclaiming billboards elbowing each other; while in another world, not too far away, families slept and college students worked into the late hours forming paragraphs about social justice and world change. I suspect every major city has their Sunset Strip. It’s always a place on the “other side of the tracks,” just outside our understanding - but close enough to point at. I think each of us has our own Strip as well; it’s a place were we can occasionally blur the line between right and wrong. It’s also a place we can easily recognize in others. And just as it seems that those of us in Portland and Sacramento like to point toward Sunset Blvd. and Times Square, in our own home towns there are streets that slither through the gardens we have built.

I wanted to see Grumen’s Chinese Theater before I left, and I finally found it a few blocks away on Hollywood Blvd. The sun was coming up; the tops of the buildings were soaking in the light. There was a relay going on, and the people of the night were handing the baton over to the people of the morning. The bus stops were filling up with tired-looking people, most of them Hispanic or black, and most seemed to be headed into the richer neighborhoods of Beverly Hills and Belair. I suspect these were the domestics, the ones who mowed the neatly landscaped yards, who tended the dogs and washed the cars and a thousand other menial jobs. Some of these people stared at me with fierce pride, but most simply seemed to be asleep on their feet , thinking of the last moment of love’s embrace or of bills to be paid .

I pulled into a Denny’s for a cup of coffee and a quick breakfast. I know I must have had a book with me; if I eat alone, I have to have something to read with me. I’m sure there is something Freudian about that, but I think I will save the money on the exam and use it to buy more books. I was probably in Denny’s for about an hour, and when I came out I saw a new crowd taking the baton. These were the secretaries and the young executives, some at the bus stops and some in their own cars, filling up the Strip once again. As I looked at these people, I saw some staring back defiantly and others asleep, thinking of last moments of love’s embrace or bills to be paid.

My next stop was Chula Vista, just South of San Diego. There was a dear online friend I planned to visit there; her screen name was Quietedone, and her real name was Cathi.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Most business have cycles , in Sisters Oregon , the months of January and February are very slow , we would get a little surge on the weekends , and a nice bump on Presidents day weekend ..but other than that it was very very slow. Having survived Christmas , and having done better than I suspected. I looked at the money situation , I was able to pay another months Rent on the store the mortgage on the home that my wife and child lived in , I seemed alittle ahead , and the bills I should be paying seemed much smaller than those big bills and I could make them up during Spring I did the only responsible thing for a financially irresponsible person, ROAD TRIP....
The Datsun which before seemed like it could barely make it to the Pioneer Market , now was perfectly suited to making a 3000 mile journey to California , How it made this change I don't know , it might of been the sun striking it on the dusty hood just right , or the little bit of rubber I managed to lay down when I peeled out in front of a speeding Log Truck , because I couldn't wait 5 seconds longer to get in on the wseeklong sale of frozen dinners at the Market matter what, the car now looked fit to head South.
Sisters Oregon is near Highway 97 which is a North South route which pierces the High desert plateau of Oregon and somewhere near Shasta Mountain connects with the big asphalt river ..Interstate 5 , the drive takes you along side of the Cascade Mountains sitting on your right hand side ..the tall peaks were snow covered and at some place I would cross them , but far enough south that snow should not be a factor.
A journey of that length demands some careful planning ...I got the idea to go south around six pm on January 2nd, made a few calls to my employees, and by seven PM I was packing the car ... I decided against maps because well I knew which direction South was , and I just threw in the few clothes I had with me at the time , considered putting a Frozen dinner on the engine to thaw as I drove , but decided against it ..probably the wisest choice I made in those few hours of planning.
My first stop was in Bend Oregon where I filled up the tank , and provisioned myself with ample Coca Cola , Coffee, Beef Jerky and a few Snickers bars philosophy on road trips is travel light and don't stop expect for bathroom and gas breaks. As I left Bend it was very late , the roads were snow covered , My snow tires would be sufficnent and would soon be clacking away on the Southern California Streets.
I had no real reason to head south , I wanted to meet an Online friend in San Diego , I needed to clear my head , take some time for me , I was concerned that Beverly and I were getting too personal and too close , I just wanted to go somewhere else ...I wanted an adventure , or escape ...
As I headed south I realized it might be a good time to decide where to stay along the way ... In the morning I would call my Mother and get phone numbers of my cousins that lived near Fresno California and at least stay there the next night , for this evening all I planned was to just keep driving . Five hours later I was in Weed California ..looking for a gas station , behind huge bearms of snow ..
in Oregon you do not pump your gas , there are attendants who actually do that for you ...California forces you to pump your own gas, and this required understanding the pumping mechanism which I discovered later was different with each pump. I didn't realize this at first , instead I waited in my car for the attendent to come out and pump my gas. I could see the attendent but he seemed to have no interest in comming out he was chewing on adonut adn c=kept looking out at me , but made no movement to the door. finally i forced open the car door , which has been frozen shut by road slurry .. I slipped across the icy parking lot , and politly asked if the pumps were oppend. The guy with the donut in his mouth mutterd "yeth" I looked quizzically at him trying to nicely say " well I need gas " when it suddenly dawned on him and me there was something wrong ...After a few moments of awkward silence the donut chwer swallond and said ..this is a self pump station ...and suddenly that light went on and I heard myself say " you mean self ? as in I pump it myself ?" Now I remembered so I gave the guy a sheepish look and tramped out to fill up my car I tried to pump but nothing happened , I was standing out in sub freezing weather with a thin shirt on and I needed to pee , I was squeezing as hard as I could for gas and other reasons , and nothing was coming out ! well nothing I wanted to come out ..I was doing this little dance trying to forget that really insistent feeling and alsotrying to pry my fingers off the frozen nozzle so I could go back in the gas station and find out what I had overlooked . Back in the Gas station the attendant has plugged his mouth with a maple bar I asked him for help and he said " how muth " " I don't know" I need a fill up ..." you have to pay futh " he saids my mind was racing at the speed of discomfort and I realized that I needed to pay in advance , but how much should I pay .. if I paid too little I would just have to do this all over again , sooner, if I paid to much I would have just tipped the guy with maple frosting smeared over his chin, I reached in my pocket ..shoved a twenty dollar bill on the counter and walked out to the car ...then it hit me I had forgot to pee...there are times that life can overwhelm you ..I had already paid for the gas , that pump was sitting there like a ripe melon , anyone could use my paid for gas if I raced back into the Gas station , yet there was no denying the insistant cramps that where now making my entire body convulse ..I had no choice I had to find the bathroom and I had to trust that no serial gasoline thief would be watching this from a distant perch on a snow berm ...I went back in to the Gas Station , the attended was chugging chocolate milk from a carton ... " bathroom" I squeaked out ... " in back" he said with a mouth filled with uneated maple bar and chocolate milk...I squirmed out the door choose right , should have choose left when I arrived , the door was locked ...I just about crawled back the the Gas Station , I Looked the guy full in the eye and noticed he was having a Snickers bar he said " you need a key " ..He handed me a key which was attached to a Car license plate which was in turn teathered to a 40 foot chain wrapped around a beer cooler least it seemed that way ..and again I struggled out the door turned left and entered the bathroom, I should have got a clue when I noticed that the Bathroom also doubled as the Ice storage locker was cold very cold , so cold you would want to go out side to warm up ...It was four AM and I just left the door open ... sometimes you just have to go native .

Thursday, August 14, 2008

New friend on AOL Part 2

The letter was friendly and warm , Beverly said based on our IM conversation she had already figured out I was not as young as I said I was , she also indicated she might be a little older as well , she was gracious and understanding and her letter was filled with grace and forgivness ..all of which I soaked up like a cheap paper towel soaks up spilled coke ...For the next several weeks Beverly carried on an ongoing conversation , sharing our dreams , our desires and our failures , after we got the age thing sorted out we realized we were very close to the same age , I was going through a divorce and she was contemplating one ..she had two grown children both heading off to college and a husband who as she explained it was very demanding , overbearing , non communicative.
We both realized that in another place and in another time we might have had a go at each other and based on the openess of our Compter conversations we realized that in fact we might make a very good go of it , but several thousand miles apart , and more hurdles than you find on a High School Practice field we were mature enough to understand having a go would have to pass ... I was hurtling toward the holidays , and I had started to dread them ...Thanksgiving would be the first holiday alone for me in some time ...Since the day after Thanksgiving is a huge shopping day I couldn't leave the area , so I planned to dine in alone and try one of the Marie Calanders Turky Dinners , spend some time on AOL , and putter around the store getting ready for the next day...I called my mother , wished her Happy Thanksgiving and called my Daughter and wished her the same ...Karen and Kaisa were spending Thanksgiving in Portland with her parfents.
AOL was kinda quiet with most of the people even the lonely ones having a brief interlude with real people ...the Frozen dinner was ok , just seemed odd eating your thanksgiving feast off of an aluminium plate ...somehow the meaning and vibe of Thanksgiving was lost , it became just a quiet day with little human contact , the local grocery store was closed , the tavern was closed and as the snow piled up it was a possibility that the mountain passes would be closed as well , meaning a poor sales day and even more worries ...somehow I stumbled into sleep late into the night or early into the day , not sure which.
All the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas became a blurr , buisness was doing ok , not great but better than expected considering the weather and my all nighters on AOL ...about this time I got my first bill from AOL ...I am not sure of the exact amount ..but I remember it was over $600.00...and that was the month woth all my free minutes ...I was a little shocked but so addicted to the chat rooms that I knew I was just going to have to find a way to keep online...bottle collecting, selling blood or other fluids , a host of ideas some good most bad ...
What I feared most about Christmas was simply being alone ...I needed to keep the store opened and I couldn't drive to Portland to be with my Mother , my brother lives even further away, Kaisa would be gone to Portland , and no one had offerd to take me in on Christmas ...partially because I was letting everyone know just how miserable I was and while they understood I am sure they wanted no part of my cynical , crankyt whiney , self to darkend their Holiday as I watched Christmas sneak up on me I planned , and I hoped I had planned well
I had planned the next two days very well. I had food and treats and a new book to read, and several videos - all designed to keep my mind off what my mind was really on. I was lonely and I was desperately sad and I was not even sure if I would make it through the next two days.

I fixed dinner - roast beef with baby reds - and decided to pick up my mail from Beverly. I knew it was there; she had sent both letters earlier, and had marked them Do not read till Christmas Eve, and day. I opened Christmas Eve’s; it was a wonderful letter, heartwarming and encouraging. It ended with this exercise: Beverly asked me to describe myself in ONE word and then write why I chose that word. Looking back, I think this simple exercise was a gift from God. It helped me focus and helped me to take a good look at myself; after discarding COMPLEX, LONELY, and many others, I settled on TAPESTRY. I realized my life was a tapestry, woven together with the threads of many people. This is an image has never left me. Our lives are a measure of not only what we contribute to our work of art, but what others add to it also. Some of our tapestries are vibrant with dazzling contributions from ourselves and others. Some of our tapestries are bland from lack of color.

While working on my homework from Beverly, just on a lark I started exploring AOL. That’s when I found the Religious and Ethics Forum. This area was a multi-faith chat and message board area. I started to look at the message boards, and was amazed at the diversity of thought and, unfortunately, intelligence. The boards seemed to be dominated by far right Christian types, and it was not long before I was entering the cyber fray.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A New Friend on AOL

It did not take me very long to lose interest in the chat rooms, but before I slipped totally away, I did meet a person who would become one of my very best friends and confidants. It happened this way: One night I was in my favorite chat room when I got IM’d. An IM is short for instant message. What happens is you can actually talk to someone in private with others knowing. I believe the IM is the greatest invention of online chat; it makes it possible for more “honest” friendships to occur, and keeps the level of tension at a minimum in the rooms because you can vent through IMs. Anyway, I was minding my own business; my screen name was Scott for Hugs, and I got this IM.

BEVERLY: Is this the Line for Hugs???

SCOTT: Well it’s a very short line

BEVERLY: that’s because I pushed them out of the way...

Beverly and I had a thoroughly engaging conversation. To me, it was clear immediately that THIS was a person I wanted to know more about. The problem was I had gotten off to a bad start. You see, I had panicked and had adjusted my age slightly; instead of 48, I had told her my age was 24. Now, I do believe that a few years are simply trivial to God, and very early into the conversation I managed to come clean and tell her I was really 27 (sometimes coming clean requires lots of scrubbing). After our initial conversation, this slight misrepresentation of my age began to gnaw on me. I realized that this was a person who could become my friend for life, and I had started our friendship by lying to her. She, on the other hand, had cleverly avoided how old she was; women can be so sneaky. I decided at that moment that, from that moment forward until the end of all recorded time, I would never be anything else than what I really am when I am talking online, and except for one brief angry moment when I posed as a Christian Cowboy called Stud for God I have been true to that promise.
All this is very nice in theory but here I was left with the reality that I misrepresented my real age to a person who I really wanted to know better ...and in knowing that person better eventually it would become obvious I was not 27 as I told her ...but much much older least old enough in what might be one of the few brillant ephanies I can lay claim to ...choose to do the unimaginable ...I Immeaditaly emailed Beverly and told her the truth...Not only did I tell her but I begged for her forgivness and understanding. Then I waited for her to reply to my Email ...and waited , and waited ...I beleive I was at first concerned that she did not write me right off , then I was concerned that it was my Computer not working properly so I wrote myself an email , which I got then I wrote me back which I got again..It was nice having someone to write too and for a moment I forgot what I was really interested in , then when I checked for the email which wasn't there I admitt I got a little cranky , after all why wasn't this lady whom I had just had a wonderful conversation with , who must right now be racing back and fort to her computer to see if the dashing young man of 27 had written her back ...writting me back ..well the reason was obvious ..I had fibbed ...twisted the truth alitte bit ..
and Beverly had no more use for me than a tripod without a camera ..than a Bottled bear with out a bottle opener ( although since this was writted the twist top bottle cap was invented , heloing as it were to build up the wrist and tendons of frequent drinkers ) .
As I waited for the Email reply it was becomming obvious that my short lived relationship with this woman was , very short lived ...the wait became unbearable , beads of sweat appeared on my forhead , no easy task in the Winter weather of the Cascade town I lived in which was now buried in snow ...the minutes ticked by , the wait crushed my psyche , like a dead whale could crush a rose ..after the first five minutes ticked off the clock on the wall I was in total despair ...after ten minutes I was wondering if you could take an overdose of Marie Calander pot pies and end it all ...then as I pounded on the keys to check the mail for the umpteenth time there it was ..the reply from Beverly ...I took a deep breath , with trembling fingers I clicked on the Email ..and ...the computer crashed .
In the early days of AOL this was not unusual , being bumped off AOL was as common as being overcharged for frozen dinners didn't last long , usually required rebooting the computer ..waiting a few minutes then starting over again, but when your whole life hangs in the balance , when every nuron, muscle , and fiber in your body is aching from the unkown ..then rebooting takes much longer ....much longer ...finally I was ready to read the letter ...