My wife’s family memories

Where are your family memories stored?

For my wife, they’re kept in many places, not just in the synaptical, neuronic electrochemical impulses of a single central nervous system.

Some are stored here, at the cemetery in Stony Point, Tennessee, next to New Providence Presbyterian Church:

New Providence Presbyterian Church panorama





…where naturally-aged gravestones tell the story of time in more ways than one:


Carmack-John-gravesite-2007-12-27 - wide-shot










…and verify information stored in the Forgey Family Bible, of which my wife is the current keeper:










Those memories make my wife happy and when she’s happy, I’m happy!

Actions instead of words

Caught in a whirlwind of sets of states of energy called thoughts within a central nervous system of which the spongy portion we call the brain is supposed to be an important portion…

Wondering who someone with my name is like.

Because my life with my name took a different tack.

Fictionalised part of it.

More than once.

Or twice.

History repeats itself sometimes, too — novella description from Oct 30 2008:

Even breathing has consequences.

Lee loved his wife unconditionally. Yet, just as domestic love wanted to rivet him down for good, Lee desired to explore free love. Does free love include sex? Is there really no such thing as a free lunch?

Fredirique entered Lee’s life and turned it upside down. Will Lee surrender to Fredirique’s fun and games in the city or will Lee return to the quiet domestic bliss he’d learn to savor in the suburbs?

Lee thought he had to pay the price for unrequited love, his guilty conscience serving in his mind as judge and jury — will he give himself a life sentence or time off for good behavior?

Some people are driven to have so much fun, to push themselves past where pain would stop most everyone else, to achieve accomplishments that no other member of our species has or will again.

I danced because I liked to have fun — my willingness to memorise long sequences of dance moves, to memorise any long sequence at all, has never been my strong suit — thus, I let myself flail around rather than succumb to suppressing my unwillingness to control my body/thoughts in specific contortions.

I love life.  My goals are simple: to live.

The wild, uncontrollable part of me is not so wild or uncontrollable as others — not the least nor most wildest, not the least nor most uncontrollable.

However, on this planet we should allow each other to be as wild or uncontrollable as we want as long as we don’t adversely interfere with the same from others.

Civilisation is the intersection of our concepts of wild and uncontrollable, in almost infinite form.

Today, I piece back together thought patterns in an attempt to remove the repetitively painful portions…

To return to my peaceful self again.

Meditating in nature.

Happiness is being myself.

Myself being fluid yet fixed.

Despite years of writing blog entries, still the most popular one read every week: where/when I mentioned the Seven Ages of Man.

I am happy to die today.  I have made peace with myself.

I can breathe.

No need to compare my life to others.

I can write about the peace of breathing but words do not do the breathing for me.

Have a great day!  Time to spend more time breathing, less time writing.

Clueless in the countdown

I wander this planet in a fog, my thoughts in wonder, my eyes catching rays bouncing from stray objects that barely stand out from the background.

I contemplate the universe in imaginary silence, bounded by vibrations in the central nervous system, a repetitive process that my body interprets as rhythmic ringing inside my ears, surrounding me as in a fog.

I exist.

That truly suffices.

I do not see beyond the simplest gestures of friendliness that acknowledge my existence.

Saturday morning, a woman in my age range, say…oh, 40 to 60 years old, about five feet, five inches tall, shoulder-length black hair mixed with gray streaks, wearing glasses (reminding me of a friend from long ago, Deena Ramos), while helping to set up the food line for the marathon runners who would arrive shortly, struck up a conversation with me.

She seemed determined, as if she had a plan in her thoughts to complete in action that morning, with me as part of the plan.

She quickly gave me a rundown of her autobiography, letting me know she had three children who did not like her ex-husband (it took me a while to connect that he was their father (or “sperm donor,” as they told their mother they thought of him)), a man who divorced this woman on the grounds that she didn’t make the kids’ beds in the morning after they got up, which indicated to him she didn’t care for them, even though she fed them and handled all of the school homework assignment without his assistance.

The way she pounced on me and dwelled upon the divorce, I felt that she was trying to tell me something about men who choose to divorce and the thin excuses they use as the marriage dealmaker.

She was not a man basher or man hater — she clearly sought to keep our conversation going, or at least wanted me to listen to her, pushing aside interruptions from others with a wave of her hand.

I understood she wanted more than sympathy, which I supplied by recounting my sister’s divorce stories and the divorce stories of other people I knew.

She wanted empathy.

Hadn’t I just been in a similar situation with Bai a few weeks before?

When does fiction and reality mix?

I had abandoned the love story of my life, the tale of Guin and Lee on Mars, in order to return to Earth for some me time away from the future, and here I was, getting all I asked for, and more!

I interpreted the woman’s insistence on holding my attention as a side effect of my people-pleasing personality and had learned to accept the consequences long ago, forsaking the career of a priest in order to live amongst everyone, regardless of religious affiliation.

I am not a trained mental health professional — my interest in matters of thought sets are merely amateur curiosity.

As wax from a Scentsy burner, sold to me by Guin months ago, melts nearby, reminding me of what might have been and might still be, I know my journey is neither long nor short in the discovery of what only one body can experience in one lifetime.

I am humbled that any one person or persons would want to talk with me, their pure selves, being the only people they can ever be, standing before me in their personal glory, angelic vestiges of sets of states of energy in motion, exchanging energy states freely.

Thus, as the woman continued to talk with me, I sought to learn from her what in her life would make both of our lives better now and into the future.

I expanded my inquiry into what she wanted, what it was that would ease the perceived weight of the burdens she had carried as a single mother providing for her kids — from whom did she most need affirmation of herself?

Frequently, especially here in the heart of the Bible Belt, I discover the person in front of me has been well-trained to believe that straying from a childhood of religious training is perceived as a cause of one’s ills; if a person expresses that belief, then I help steer that person toward an internal forgiveness and permission to return to childhood beliefs that had been abandoned due to feeling no longer worthy.

This woman did not go in that direction.

She seemed to want something specifically from me and it wasn’t just forgiveness.

I was at a loss for words to keep her going.

She eventually just stood and looked at me, her eyes expressing a want I could not understand as I pulled grapes off of stems and put them in a bin to hand to marathon runners as nature’s free energy pills.

This went on for a few minutes, the woman glad to stand and watch me without saying a word.

I wasn’t familiar with the arrangement of her facial features but it seemed as if her face was not in tune with her thoughts; or, perhaps, her thoughts were mixed and her face reflected the puzzled mix.

Her mouth was slightly open, as if she was about to say something, her eyelids apart wide enough to give me the impression she was mulling over words to say to me, her body leaning against the food table and her arms folded across her chest.

I had no problem with her standing there if she wanted, because she had already completed her morning duties, so I kept working until the first marathon runners arrived, which forced her to move on to her work area around the corner in the hotel hallway.

We exchanged farewells and I added her to the list of hundreds of people I met the rest of the day who made my life so much more complete than the day before, thousands of insights into why I should never have given up writing about life on Mars with Guin.

On the countdown clock in front of me, 13,290 days remain until the Martian storyline goes into full swing.

Meanwhile, back here in regular domestic time, on the way home after the marathon, my wife inquired about the long conversation I had with the woman who watched me prepare grapes.

I told her what I could remember.

She told me that she had been about to go over and tell the woman that I was married and she was my wife, to back off, that just because I looked like a single man didn’t mean I was available.

She reminded me how many times this has happened, a woman digging into my life to find out my marriage status, and how many times she’s seen I haven’t stated for the record that I’m married.

Am I that clueless in real life?

Have I been so seemingly innocent, so lost in a fog of happy self-delusion that the universe is here simply to acknowledge my existence and nothing more, driving me into fictional tales in the moments I want to keep my thoughts going as if there is more, that I’ve missed when single, available women have been hitting on me?  Even if I had missed them hitting on me, what had I really missed?

I explained to my wife that I am an innocent flirt who has maintained a clear boundary between myself and others that has, for all but a couple of instances, kept me from becoming a dangerous flirt — marriage is as much a protection against sexually transmitted diseases as a social nesting habit — when I put on a wedding ring in 1986 in front of my wife, friends and family, I bound myself physically to the marriage contract that I understood meant my body belonged to my wife for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness or in health, till death do us part.

Otherwise, if that marriage contract has no validity then the society in which I was raised and the global economy in which it was supported has no validity.

And, by extension, if they have no validity, then the universe is a false front, a magician’s illusion.

If the latter, then what am I doing here writing this blog when there’s more to discover than reiterating historic falsehoods?

I did not speak with that woman at the marathon again so I didn’t get a chance to hear if she had learned as much about life in our brief conversation and the hours of conversation snippets with the runners as I had.

I hope she did.

Regardless of the number of days left in the Martian countdown, life is a learning experience, a way to maximise the exchange of sets of states of energy.

All I have is myself and these fingers that have learned to form callouses from tapping on plastic keys, a habit not anticipated by my ancestors thousands of years ago.

Yet, here I am.

I am alive, despite my worst habits.

As a person who assumes the godlike viewpoint of a writer determining the lives of fictional characters, I choose to go on with my stories regardless of how much they do or do not reflect the possibilities of a real future.

Where the writing leads me, I do not know with 100% certainty.

Uncertainty is my best friend.

Change is all I truly have to depend on.

Our short lives and civilisations based on inconsistent narratives give us an easy way to believe all sorts of forms of permanence, no matter how fleeting they really are.

Thank God.

The intensity of thinking?

Do I completely understand the role of electrochemical processes taking place between the atomic structures that fill the cavity between my ears and connect to the rest of the central nervous system of my body?

How many of the chemical structures can I readily recall their assigned labels and say that the photon bouncing across the back of my eyelid has anything to do with the impulse to press a tiny block of plastic which produces the letter I’m going to type next, carefully describing each changes of the states of energy between the photon hitting my eyeball and the letter that appears one after another on this screen?

How then can I understand where I’m going to take my robot design next?

First, I expose my eyes and ears to as much stimuli as possible, asking myself what in the environment, in this place and time, do I want to simulate on Mars decades later?

In other words, today I prototype with scale models of what I want to physically manifest using native materials on the Red Planet years/decades from now when who knows what kind of augmented reality we’ll give the first colonists to help them believe their senses are being so stimulated with variety that they won’t get homesick before the first generation of native-born Martians believes that life on Mars is rich and fulfilling enough as it is?

These questions trot across my memories and thoughts as I sit down to sketch out the design that I want our team to complete within three weeks using materials at hand, including the stuff I’ve bought (adding today’s purchase: another PIR sensor (Radio Shack product number 2760347) and two ultrasonic distance sensors (Parallax product number 28015-RT and Radio Shack product number 2760342)). and stuff that the folks at Maker gave our team.

While all of that boils in the cauldron of a cranium, I’ve got the love of dance and the love for friends floating in the mix, making my wife nervous that my thoughts are so clouded with constant processing that I’ve become a dangerous “tunnel vision” driver, the stereotypical absent-minded professor type who doesn’t see the light is red at the traffic intersection.

Every day, every hour is precious and the next three weeks will be challenge because I’ll both be without Abi in my life and missing dance lessons with her, let alone feeling her close by in my thoughts, and I’ll be without her which means I can focus on the robot design.

Aren’t most of us able to transfer some part of our physical attraction from one person to another?

I sure am.

So, last night, knowing that I’ll miss Abi more than I can ever tell her, I chose not to dance with her (or Jenn or Naomi or…) and gave my body love to women on the dance floor I’d never met before, losing myself in two-minute spans of time and hoping that I could be as good a dance partner for them as their eye-love requested, helping me transition my love for Abi from her to unknown women last night and then to my computer work today.  I danced with my wife, too, of course; she mentioned I barely paid attention to her most of the evening, seeing that I danced with only a few women (quality instead of quantity, I always say) so it wasn’t that I ignored her, my monogamous partner, and spent all evening with other women; no, I was my usual alone-in-a-crowd meditative self preparing mentally for this day.

While sitting in a chair alone in my thoughts next to the dance floor determining how to take the new dance moves I saw advanced/all star and professional dancers showing off and incorporate them into my dancing, the design for the team’s robot started appearing to me in a foggy vision.

i wish I had a flatbed scanner in my laboratory study to quickly scan the engineering notebook drawing of my vision.

Here is an electronic paint version, instead:


More details tomorrow…

Let’s have fun!

The difference between fun and work, if there is any

In this moment, looking at the internal vocabulary, searching for new ways to express myself without resorting to a thesaurus, listening to the replay of conversations, realising how many details I’ve forgotten that make stories more real, feeling my face and neck break out with small infected pores that are commonly called acne…

“Learning never ends.”  [from a 15-cent stamp on an envelope dated 15 Sep 1980 sent from my father to his mother containing the following poem]

Lineage [for Evelyn]

Only moments agoOur only son
Gave his oath
To his country
As his grandfather
Did fifty-one years ago
As his father
Did twenty-six years ago next month
Ah, tears well in my eyes
A lump is in my throat
For him, for we three
Grandfather, father, son
For the why we each serve our country
For patriotism, love of country

For ____ why —-?

— RLH 9/15/80

A line whispered into my ear from a dance partner. “I flew to New York for the weekend.  I walked 10 miles a day, wearing poor shoes for walking the first day, and my flats for the second day.  This dancing tonight, bending my knees…phew!  it’s killing me!”

Multiple storylines begging to be continued — the Martian tales, the Mad Hatter chronicles, the Wondering Wanderer, the Wandering Wondering, the thinker, the doer, the tinkerer, the inventor, the investor, the Kickstarter campaign…

If I don’t write them down, they don’t get lost, they simply never exist except in the vast universe of my imagination which entertains me for as long as I live with this stimuli-driven central nervous system of mine.

I finalised the West Coast Swing routine with Abi today — enough so that we can play with the routine and keep it in time with the music — that in itself would be celebration enough for a lifetime.

But a second routine, with Jenn, has not been finalised less than two days before our premiere performance on Saturday, with scant time to polish our moves.

There is much I have learned in the past two years of dance lessons with my wife.  In our 27-plus years of marriage and 40 years of knowing each other we have aged together, aligning our storylines so that one of us cannot tell the tale of our lives without including the other.

In the past few months of dance lessons with Jenn and Abi, the learning has changed pace.

I could never have imagined that I would once again know a person whose physicality was without bounds, but that tangent will wait until another day…soon.

Tonight, as I prep my thoughts for trippy dreams, I look at the faces of my two dance partners and see their futures written in features that change with aging skin and graying hair.

When I danced with one, our connection running from her big toe through her foot, calf, thigh, ribs, shoulder, upper arm, forearm, wrist, and fingers, down through my fingers all the way to the floor, I felt the warmth of a loving mother, a powerful lover and an equal dance partner that, although we have danced untold times, I had never felt deep within myself like I did today, willing to share with my wife that I took on Abi as a new lover today but in a way that surpasses sex, in the way that Monica and I, who never kissed, could say we were lovers the night we melded our thought patterns and saw how our differences made us one an evening in Knoxville during the early 1980s.  I felt Abi simultaneously as a child, a young adult, a middle-aged mother and an elderly grandmother fighting for every last breath before she dies.

Jenn, with whom how many dance partners can easily brag how much better they dance than I, our connection is like…being a kid all over again for the very first time.

I want to have fun all the time — Jenn is more willing to let me just be crazy with my dance moves when I shouldn’t be than Abi — I do them both a disservice by not taking our dance practice more seriously.

I know the two of them are not the same even if our goals for this week are.

Jenn and I are not lovers on the dance floor and I cannot predict a future where we will or will not be.  I have not set a goal for such an event.

Instead, it is within the pure bubble of unadulterated fun that I want to place the memorised routine with Jenn.

She was willing to come to the studio tonight, tired after a trip out-of-town, to nail down our moves but I was outside myself with mirth, unable to concentrate but wanting to make her visit not be a total waste.

When I held Jenn in my arms, I felt an older woman and saw gray streaks in her hair — I heard the voice of her husband, Gilley, speaking through her, wondering if I also heard her father and mother, maybe even her grandparents find their way to me through her.

I used to keep these observations to myself, thinking I was crazy, sensing different personalities in the sight, sound and touch of other people, wondering how much mass media representations of ghost stories, ESP and other paranormal phenomena were imprinted in my thoughts as fuzzy labels upon my irrationally-explainable emotional states rather than scientifically-testable experiences.

But I remember I am a storyteller, a tall tale spinner, exaggeration my best feature rather than my facial profile or wishful hunk of a body.

Jenn sensed a mouse in me when we first started dancing, my feeling intimidated by the laughter welling up from inside my thoughts at the silliness I felt, unable to justify why I was standing with my childlike friend trying to take ourselves seriously as adults with little time for fun before our showcase routine in two days.

Abi demands that I first treat myself as a strong dance leader seriously, putting fun second after I’ve shown my dance partner, the follower, that she is the only connection I feel with the universe, the rhythm of the dance music our source of energy.  Her demands I have given into reluctantly but willingly like a latent masochist, a glutton for punishment.

Jenn asks that I take command of the dance floor.

Every leader and follower is different.

Tonight, the older woman in Jenn needed her strong, lifelong male partner to hold her up and I failed to match that need.

My distraction was the leftover euphoria of discovering what a West Coast Swing connection with Abi truly means.

The world will not end because I was unable to settle myself down and concentrate on Jenn in a dance studio dominated by my wife, Abi, Chris and his dance partner.

Jenn and I have another hour, maybe two, three at the most, before we dance our Lindy Hop routine together.

For two years I wondered what dancing with Jenn would be like, seeing how well she matched up with other guys, some better skilled than I and some less skilled.

I have learned that Jenn’s strengths come from her deep knowledge of physical skills, including track-and-field events for which she spent long hours training.

I can neither compete against her dance partners nor against her years of physical training, or more recently, her hours of physical therapy recovering from car smashups.

I will dance with Jenn and Abi again after this weekend’s showcase.  Of that I am certain.

What I have before me, in the next 40-plus hours and the next 40-plus years, is a challenge to discover what this 51-year old body can do as it gets older that it never learned to do at a younger age over many days, weeks and months of arduous practice, both for the sake of my wife and for the sake of any dance partner I walk out onto the floor.

The challenge for me with Abi is how fast can I learn from her the years of training she’s had with the best dancing instructors on this planet.

The challenge for me with Jenn is how fast can I learn from her the years of the aforesaid physical training, minus the pain and physical rehabilitation, if I can help it, and training she’s had with some of the best dancing instructors on this planet, including Abi.

The challenge for me with my wife is how patient I can be to help her improve her physical stamina to be just as much fun as Abi, Jenn or any number of dance partners that I encounter in this adventure that started what seems like yesterday.

How can I convince myself that focusing my attention on the art of dance moves is fun, rather than mundane work that I abhor in any endeavour?

What is life without challenges?