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Emotional Overdraft

I’m slipping, again.

These moods I cannot stand, emotions I do not understand. This is when I can’t be close enough to those I love most. I want to be near, yet when together I am so supremely annoyed that I can’t think! Not annoyed by my loved ones, but by my own reaction to them. As if I can see myself from 10 feet above – acting, reciting the same bullshit lines that always lead to explosive confrontation with those who do not deserve the emotional battering of a depressoid downer.

"And when they've given you their all
Some stagger and fall
After all it's not easy
Banging your heart against
Some mad bugger's wall."
Roger Waters Outside The Wall

I felt it, so I know this has been coming, the dark; the angry dullness that obscures, confuses. The uptime was longer this time around. Perhaps this “Market Bubble” – my own, heady, sub-prime borrowing on mood-mortgage I could not sustain – led me to believe the dividends would keep cashing in, that this time I was somehow emotionally solvent. Yet, in an ever-growing cashless society where machines do more and more of the thinking for us – and none of the feeling – I am seriously overdrawn in my emotional account.

I’ve just finished reading this month’s Wired magazine (February 2008) and in it an article about two brilliant young men researching AI. Working separately, and often in direct competition, both men compiled massive databases of “common sense” postulates. Posed as validated true/false statements or as yes/no questions, these would serve as the basic body of learning for simulated intelligence under each one’s unique model for mechanical learning. Both of these pioneering minds operated on that extreme edge – exhibiting traits that I find so fantastically pure – the driven and dramatic, the dangerous, damaged, destructive states of intellect that mark abstract genius.Sadly, both men deep-ended off the high dive into the dark pool of organic intelligence’s suffering with barely even a splash. Each ended his life alone, in pain, leaving only drops of tears and ripples of questions.

Tears and questions are telltale signs in my own never-ending destructive dive, signposts along the trail on the downward spiral of depressoid downturns.

Over the years of coping – of hiding affected highs and lows, managing to stay afloat amidst inner turmoil threatening to drag me under – I have come to see my emotional swings as stock market risings and fallings. Each new high is tempered – “adjusted” in market vernacular – by a recessionary period of sustained, negative behavioral growth. Without prompt corrective action, this negative growth leads to collapse in the mental economy and protracted depression takes hold, devaluing all of one’s holdings and rational properties, bankrupting the faculties, dissolving the partnership with so-called “reality”. And while I am not presently perched upon my own springboard high above the bottomless pool of oblivion, I do truly fear the tug – the ceaseless sucking – drawing me nearer the edge, that grows stronger with each cyclical-downturn-drop into the red ink of my biochemical bank statement.

Investors in for the long haul fare best, riding out the downturns, even seizing opportunities for purchasing greater share when prices hit bottom. Those newly acquired shares come at the expense of some less hearty market players who cash in. Cash it in; as in “hit bottom”, give up on the game, exit the ride before it reaches the station – effectively taking that deep plunge into the abyss from whatever platform they find themselves upon. Picture the Wall Street Window Jumpers of October 1929 – it is raining investment brokers and the clouds ahead have never looked more ominous. The street below, the water beneath the bridge has never seemed so close.

My own shareholders are my trust. My board of directors, Ethan Ward and Aviana Claire, maintain the majority sharehold and set emotional investment policy. So long as I draw breath, I answer only to the mandate that I draw breath. What becomes of our stock is dependent on that simple factor. Our “brand” will suffer should I cash in at this low point in the cycle and there is little evidence that the corporation – that is, the family of brands that we trade on – would recover. So my own precipice, my bridge, my tall building window, my high-dive into the dark pool must not seduce my Stock Market Steele.

I may be slipping, but I will not sell short.

1 January 2008

Last year at this time I made waves - I made a point - I don't do self improvement.

My disdainful colleagues were sent a message: do not enlist me in your get-rich-quick games nor your lose-weight-now schemes both of which, in my opinion, were attempts to separate me from my earnings rather than my poverty or obesity. So much for bettering my broke, fat ass.

While still an overweight ower, looking back, I see it was a year of improvement.  I walked away from a one-sided, abusive relationship with someone I considered dear. I devoted every available moment to my precious children, loving, learning and growing with them. I have paid more debt and become more financially independent in the past 12 months than in the last 12 years. Many ghosts, hungry and otherwise, were put to rest.

So, in an apparent reversal of last year's claim that I don't do self improvement, I publicly offer my singular resolution for 2008: I resolve to deepen my practice and understanding of the BuddhaDharma.

Hold on one minute.

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche said in his book The Myth of Freedom that a "...[Buddhist - my insert] sitting practice will not make you a better person," an idea that is echoed many times by his esteemed student Ani Pema Chodron in her many books and lectures. So far, last year's pronouncement and this year's resolution are in agreement...

Ah, deluded perception, where would I be without you?!

I did not resolve to meditate more, practice more or offer more prayers in order to better me, the individual ego deluded identity. No, may I offer that my practice of the BuddhaDharma may deepen and that Bodhichitta - "loving kindness" - may grow as a result of such deepening. A loving kindness to all sentient beings, who are in fact me, and we - Buddha.

In the words of our Precious and Perfect Teacher, Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:
"By this effort may all sentient beings be free from suffering. May their minds be filled with the nectar of virtue.
In this way, may all causes resulting in suffering be extinguished and only the light of compassion shine throughout all realms."

Barbed Wire Barbs

I: Scars: 

While not entirely life scarring, I am actually the proud product of a less-than-affluent, rural Texas upbringing. In fact, I was raised on a goat farm situated on a limestone bluff above Stroud’s Creek, which flows into the Brazos River in north-central Texas. This was no enormous Texas cattle ranch of flat, grassland grazing. No, this was scabland of thin topsoil and thick bedrock. Texas historian and water-rights advocate, John Graves, wrote about the area defined by the Brazos, Paluxy and Bosque rivers in his books, Goodbye To A River (Knopf, 1960), and Hardscrabble, Observations From A Patch Of Land (1974).  This land itself is quite scarred, eroded, as it is, through the limesone deposits of late Cretaceous Period oceans that covered it some 100 million years ago.

I escaped mostly intact. Mostly.

There is, however, a scar on my left wrist. Palm up, it begins one-and-one-quarter inches below my hand. The scar is approximately three-quarters of an inch long and runs from the thumb side to almost exactly the center of my wrist – terminating just over a prominent surface vein. Thirty years after the blood ran down my arm from the deep cut to my wrist, I contemplate the ideals, the thinking, that led to this cutting.

II: Fences

My Granddaddy, a Learned Man, told me: “Boy, if ya gonna raise goats, ya gonna have to have the proper fencin’ what’s to keep ‘em in.”

He said: “You sink them corner posts deep. And you place them ol’ cedar posts in tight – real close together. Then ya gonna squeeze some T-posts in between ‘em, nice an’ tight.”

“Now for the wahr,” he would say in his Comanche-County-Texas drawl, “You gon’ gitcher two-strand bob wahr  [note: that’s barbed wire, outside Texas] an’ strang it real close together, goin’ jes up to the top of them thar T-posts. Stratch y’self a roll of hogwahr along on the inside a that whole mess and g’on back to the house.” Then he added: “Before y’all go an’ put them animals in that thar pen ya done built, y’all wait fer a good hard rain.”

My Granddaddy was a Practical Man, if nothing else. He explained: “Now, son, I tell you what.” He stopped; bent down to pick up a pecan that had fallen from one of his trees, cracked it in his hand and fished out a perfect half of the oily, sweet nutmeat before continuing.

Handing me the nut – the kernel, the very essence of his decades of hardscrabble wisdom – he said:“If that ol’ fence’ll hold all that water, it’ll hold yer goats. T’ain’t nothing shorta that what’s gonna do. Y’ hear?”

III. Goats

The domestic goat (Capra aegagrus hircus) is a subspecies of goat domesticated from the wild goat of southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a member of the Bovidae family and is closely related to the sheep, both being in the goat/antelope subfamily Caprinae.

Goats can be difficult livestock to manage. Extremely intelligent and clever creatures, they are also quite independent. This combination of traits can be summed up in one word: stubborn. Or, more precisely, and to use the Latin term for it – capricious. That may seem an anthropomorphic description, granting the goat a sense of will, if you will. However, a goat does seem to act according to a willful disregard for what is required of them. A goat wants to be exactly where you do not want them to be. They are also smart enough and persistant enough to figure out how to get there.

I recall a time when, barely in my teens, I arrived home on the school bus that dropped us off at the long, gravel drive leading down to the family home. My folks were away in town that afternoon and I was surprised to discover the front gate swinging open and the front door to the farmhouse wide open as well. Inside, the entire herd – some thirty goats – stood in a cud-chewing group in the center of our living room! And the look – they challenged everything with that look – it was as if they were saying with non-chalant defiance, “make me leave.”

Since the time of their domestication, goats have been the subsistence farmer’s friend. They clear dense brush quickly and produce milk, meat, wool and skins in return for minimal upkeep. They are nimble on even the most steep and craggy slopes and self-reliant in herds, even able to fend off predators with hoof and horn. They were the perfect stock for our mesquite and scrub-oak ravine, carved as it was through dense limestone and coliche. Yet goats – my goats – were seen as “poor man’s cattle” in this beef rancher’s empire. No matter that there was no place to graze the lumbering, resource-consuming, expensive and small-return angus and Hereford cattle on this upstream reach of the Brazos, dropping through the limestone escarpment to the grassy plain below Thorpe Spring and down to Granbury. Goats ate scrub, scrubs raised goats, so scrub any idea of social climbing.

Did I mention how intelligent goats are? How resourceful and, even, rebellious?

IV: Fences, Part 2

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Tonto – not knowing the Lone Ranger had disguised himself as a door – shot his knob off…

My closest neighbor, about one mile across the rocky divide that separated us, was a Mexican family who also raised some goats, as well as a cow or two, several horses, chickens, and a peacock. Yes, a peacock. Now, this was not at all out-of-the-ordinary to my family or myself as it so happened we also raised peafowl (two peacocks and five peahens, thank you very much). It would seem that containing these magnificent birds is at the very least as difficult as fencing in goats.

Only, these bastards can fly!

One of our males took it upon himself to go a-courtin’ over at the homestead of the Jimenez family and made a nuisance among their well-kept barnyard. You see, peacocks, with their oh-so-showy feathered tails, are – well – cocky in their demeanor and will fight with their own reflection!  Many visitors from the city would come to our farm in washed and waxed rental cars, only to have one or both peacocks strut out onto the gravel drive, glimpse his own reflection in the sheen of a waxed finish and take the offensive – jumping, flogging, flailing and spurring the side of a car in quixotic battle with his own reflection.

Jose Jimenez was an incredible man. He did everything con gusto. A man of deep passion, Jose would drink cheap bourbon whiskey, sing country-western songs in English and Spanish, play guitar and laugh hard at every joke he heard in any language. It didn’t matter to Jose that I was 15 years old, I was his drinking buddy, and my peacock was roosting some 30 feet up in an elm tree in his front yard. With just enough whiskey and just enough song, we would woo this overstuffed pigeon down from the branches and into the fishing nets his sons were waving about like banners at a protest march.

But Jose also had two daughters.

Marta was like a vision of classic beauty to me. Her skin was so soft, so smooth and the color of sweet leche quemada. Her long, black hair shone with brilliant sheen in the summer sun and her deep, brown eyes were like exotic southern oceans that I so wanted to explore. I fell in love with Marta Jimenez in spite of my father’s plans for me (and her father’s plans for her). Yet I remained a very close friend of Jose’s for the remainder of my years at the farm.

Later in my teenage rebellion years, I took up electric guitar and would spend nights out in the barn, jamming away on two or three chords at top volume. On one particular night, Jose could hear my guitar all the way over at his house and proceeded to saddle up and ride over, his own guitar and bottle of whiskey in hand. Upon arriving in my drive, Jose fell off his horse and broke his ankle. He came inside, drank more whiskey and sang and played guitar until 3 or 4 am. At which time, he said he needed to go home. Jose could not walk from his injury and from his total drunkenness, but he laughed at every step of the way. His horse had hours ago trotted home alone, so I was the friend/paramedic/scout that half carried – half dragged my friend Jose across the field, across the creek and across many barbed wire fences, to his home.

It would be days before I returned to my own home.

V: Goats, Part 2

Jose helped me build the goat pen, just as my grandfather had prescribed. As we stretched the top-most strand of barbed wire, the wire snapped and recoiled instantly toward me. Faster than I could blink, the two steel strands shot back toward me as if from a shotgun, shredding the flesh of my left wrist. Jose wanted to take me to the hospital, some 25 miles away. I declined, and asked him if he could stitch my wound himself. We rode one horse back to his compound where his wife – a certified nurse in her country – gave me the stitches to hold my cut shut.

The stitches held my wrist. The pen held the goats.

VI: More Goddamn Fences

You see, when building fences for goats, the goal is keeping the little shits IN. Goats are damn smart; they can fend for themselves in most cases. So, keeping other animals out is not the primary focus.

Consider what is accomplished with a retaining pen:

  • I know where they are at all times.
  • I control their comings and goings.
  • I control what they consume – from nourishment to nurturing, I control what these beings eat and drink, no contraband weeds that may taint their milk, no sweet treats from strangers that may swing their affection.
  • Most importantly, I control what they know – they will slave for me because they know nothing else.

Now I offer you a hard nut, a kernel of insight to ponder. What if the fence that is so strong to hold clever goats and errant peafowl alike were mere metaphor for a much more real and sinister barricade being built to keep you locked inside? What if – under the guise of keeping others out – this fence were built along, say, our southern border? And restrictions on travel made it very difficult to fly to other places and see for yourself how other people live? And if the fence were built along our northern border – ostensibly to keep out strangers bent on terrorizing the honest, hardworking average citizen?

Would this fence actually hold water with you? Or, like a cunning, rebellious little goat, would you worry this fence until you discovered an exploitable weakness and free yourself? Fences are scars on the landscape of a free nation; razor wire and barricades slash to the bone the trust of neighbors. Make no mistake, the Berlin wall may have come down, but the U.S. Border Fence is going up. This is not the time to build more goddamn fences. Build them at your own peril, I will find my way to the other side of your fence.

From there, I will work to free you.

Superstitions Old and New

And now, for digging your hard rock, sluicing your cool flow or panning the craze as folly, the Solid Gold Dancers will perform the Jacob Waltz! 

Ummm… Huh?!

Just got back to civilization – well, Phoenix – from an extended stay in the Superstition Wilderness, east of here. The four-day outing with my son (7),and my daughter (6), in and around Canyon Lake, Tortilla Flat, Fish Creek and Apache Lake, followed an educational day of study at the Mesa (AZ) Museum of Natural History where we were presented histories of early peoples of the Salt River Valley, (Anasazi, Hohokam and O’odham) whose realm covered most of the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona and northwestern Mexico. These advanced, tribal societies created vast irrigation systems across what was already an arid desert valley in order to live and thrive in otherwise harsh conditions. Indeed, without the early endeavor of the Hohokam, the Salt River Project that created Phoenix as an oasis in this horrible desert may not have even begun. 

You see, the Hohokam created the intricate system of canals that bring life-giving water from the Salt River into the Valley of the Sun that is modern-day Phoenix. Hohokam society was quite complex and advanced – even somewhat Utopian. (My esteemed brother, whafford, whose expertise does include a stint as director at an important Anasazi archaeological dig here in the southwestern United States, may take issue with my less-than-qualified assumption here.) Yet the build-up up those 13th century canals is the basis of the contemporary framework that irrigates the land and brings electrical power to Phoenix under the auspices of the Salt River Project.

But I promised you gold, not water, crops or electricity.

Enter a certain Dutchman (OK, Jacob Waltz was actually of German decent) who, quite probably, knew his way around in the Superstition Mountains. It was not he who was lost, but his find: a gold-rich vein in the Superstitions that would rival the richest South African goldmine known today. The Mesa Museum has a great deal of information on this prospector and his mine. After all, it was in the 1880’s, in the Mormon settlement of Mesa, Arizona Territories that Waltz came to sell gold nuggets of a size and purity never before seen. Jacob Waltz died of mysterious illness in the care of a Mexican medicine woman in 1891. It is legend that he gave the location of his fabulously rich claim in the Superstitions to this woman in some delirium. Those clues along with the records of the gold buyer and other witnesses have fueled a 116-year search for the “Lost Dutchman Goldmine” in and around the Superstition Mountains of Arizona

While out among the shadows of ancient peoples and prospectors, my two hearty companions and I made the two worlds collide in ingenious manner when, faced with a caffeine jones and only whole coffee beans (a prospector’s choice), we were forced to combine what we had learned. So we searched for and found a wide, flat-surfaced stone and a smaller, rounder, grind stone with which to pulverize the magic beans (an Anasazi’s choice). The resulting brew would please Monteczuma and Dutchman, alike. At the same time, my little ”wild indians” got a first-hand feel for some small bit of the work involved in preparing a campfire breakfast. Yet, accomplished as we may have become in our ancient domesticity, our own gold panning may not have panned out. Abundant and particularly shiny, iron pyrite is known as “fool’s gold” for a reason.

I would have settled for a shiny trout, pulled from Apache Lake, by day four – but even that eluded us. However, the gold I DID mine on this trip was a pair of happy campers, begging to go out wilderness camping again over the Thanksgiving weekend!  Perhaps a campfire-roasted turkey may present the golden-brown key to a century-old lost treasure of gold nugs that will make me rich. Then again, going out with Ethan and Aviana for another 4-day camp-out in the Superstition Mountains makes me unimaginably rich just having the experience.

Indeed, it will be our lucky day(s)!


Art For Art's Sake?

I am an art snob.

Let me qualify. I have made fine art and the study of art and art history my passion for so much of my life that there is not a whole lot outside of that. As part of a family of artists and academics, I absorbed this sensibility from an early age. Art, in order to qualify as such, must adhere to certain malleable, yet immutable, criteria or fall into disregard as distant second cousins - craft, folk-traditional or artifact.  There are inconsistencies, however.

I believe it is a sociological - as well as biological - given that parenting has certain irreversible effects. Having a child enter your life changes everything about that life. Corollary to that, the “Paternal Postulate” states that a girl child will reduce the father unit into blithering idiocy at best and, more often than not, into some perpetually grinning, bobble-head-mannequin likeness of his former self. Thereafter, it is all the poor sap can do to simply smile and nod affirmatively (typically with outstretched, credit-card-bearing hand).

Herein lies the wicked juxtaposition that I offer as proof that art does not imitate life: all my carefully crafted and collected treasures now share show space with less critically noted works by yet unknown talent. Unknown, that is, to all but this collector, this art snob. 

Obscurity notwithstanding, a resume and deepening portfolio are unfolding. As I glance in the direction of the kitchen, seeing this new addition – exuberant in its own naïveté, brilliant, primary, crude, natural – I read in it the unconditional emotion, the raw purity of intent. In that moment, the lines blur between art and artifact, art and craft, fine art and child’s play. We create to communicate. Art does not exist in a vacuum; art shares something with its audience. When the tender, tiny hand that reaches up to me to hand over her newest magnum opus her eyes beam. My own eyes reach an ocean’s depth and spilling over their banks, flood the craggy plain of my cheek.

I am proud to hang this latest acquisition alongside her earlier works in what has become the most important space in my gallery – the refrigerator door.





It is not without reference to the deeply personal, intensely moving yet wholly academic writings of Kaye Redfield Jamison, psychologist and author of Night Falls Fast that I headline this post. I have admired the courage and integrity with which she addresses her subject in  her other books, An Unquiet Mind  and Touched By Fire.  Yet it is not the self-inflicted darkness that concerns me right now, but the loneliness in which we each must face our own eventual nightfall. Struggling with the instability I share with Dr. Jamison, I process today's weight on my already precarious balance.

A long-time coworker  has suffered a heart attack at his press today, just after shift-change. It has me shaken on many levels. More than my night-shift foreman, he is a straight-to-business company figure for more than twenty years. When I worked nights under his supervision, he trusted my unorthodox solutions to uncommon pressroom situations, even when at odds with  policy. It was only with his support and trust in my passion for our trade that I eventually landed a position in the front office working alongside the president of the company, estimating, planning and engineering our customer's projects in production at our plant.

Another coworker and close professional ally is out attending the funeral of a close family member. Yet another awaits results of a second round of tests for serious, life-threatening cancer. And as I arrived home tonight, I could not help but notice that there was a lot of buzzing around - people gathering close to my apartment. There was a woman at the top of the stair talking on her cell phone and even as I mounted the step, the nauseating air overpowered me. Not sure what was taking place, I moved past the open door of a neighbor only two doors down from my flat and was nearly floored by the smell. His apartment was in utter disarray and the odor of death - permeated with the acrid  stench of urine - blurred the scene. Yet the unmistakable, the undeniable, lay on the floor of the  apartment adjacent to my neighbor. I quickly retreated into my own room and heaved my guts onto the kitchen floor.

It is not simply the obvious overload of mortality suddenly so conspicuous and so close to home that has me  sitting in the dark, contemplating the absolute emptiness of that other place. No it is the loneliness with which we must face that passage. All alone. No one is going with us, no one holds our hand. That dark, cold and silent void yawns in the distance, is the distance. And that is it.

As I walked out of the office this evening, after our pressman had been whisked away in an ambulance for the nearest cardiac center, I could hear the nervous chatter all around. Reassuring themselves by reciting what seemed like lines from an episode of ER: "EKG stable..." "...blood gasses..." "...stress tests just last week..." All in ultimately futile attempts to make sense of the non-sense, the thing that will never make sense. All reckoning with the exact same thing - when and where will I go.

No matter how many friends and family may be at your side at the very moment, the fact remains the same as it has since we first dreamed up this inherently flawed, cyclic existence of death, birth, suffering and death: When we go, we go alone.

Make your peace now, or continue to live (and die) in Hell.

Om Mani Padme Hum.
... and by Homer this Armchair Anthropologist Sofa Surfin' Sociologist is referring to the donut-&-Duff-downing Matt Groening cartoon character, Homer Simpson (America's favorite Doofus Dad - DOH! I've been out-doofed again!).

Although, it would be pretty cool if Simpson were spotted sportin' these super cool Converse Chucks.

So with reference to my previous LJ post I would like to share with you now the manner in which the aforementioned delectables are prepared for optimal enjoyment. This is a RARE cultural idiosyncrasy, I assure you.

Perfect “Breakfast of Champions”
1 doppio espresso (double shot espresso coffee - Sumatra Sulawasi origin, if available)
1 bottle of Guinness Stout, room temperature (Not that nasty-ass “Nitrogen-infused draught” shit, either - just plain ol' bottled Guinness)
2 Dunkin Donuts Double Chocolate Donuts (without sprinkles, Homer)
Pour liquid contents into large bowl.
Crumble donuts into bowl.
Serves one, with deep soupspoon, slurp with gusto.(Chinese-style porcelain spoon preferred).

And there you have it, all of the most important food groups in one delicious serving! An epicurean epiphany, I tell you!

Now, all this blather has got me to thinking about what we call "comfort food", what makes such and - most importantly - where's my bowl? Certainly an individual thing, comfort food is by nature, different for every person. There may be groups of similar taste - almost assuredly gathered along cultural lines - but each individual in the group will display variation.

From my own notes on the subject:

The Human Animal is fantastic in its ability to create the profound in the most mundane activity. Ritual and High Ceremony are crafted from the banal. Religions are founded on far less. Human beings place so much meaning into the simple metabolic mandate of nourishing the cellular colony corpus that entire societies flourish and vanish based not only on their ability to feed the member bodies, but how, and with what cultural attachment. The level of importance connected to that attachment might define key reasons for establishment or alienation – class among culture, cultures among tribes, and tribes among peoples.

Consider the concept of “comfort food”.

Certainly subjective in scope, the very idea of comfort food is merely an individual’s overlay of assimilated enculturation, environment, interaction and ingestion on the temporal routine of stress and relief. Yet the universal connection of individuals through identifying cultural examples of foods that may have been a favored response to perceived stress on the organism create a journal of shared experience over space and time. In that identification lies the key mechanism of the importance of “comfort food”. Herein the individual finds affirmation with the greater group of individuals identified by what amounts to cultural - even regional - differences in basic staple diet.


Yet somehow I can't help but ask myself, "where DO donuts fall into scholarly discourse, if at all?"

And this:

"Can I get another Guinness over here, please?!"

Perfect Power Breakfast ... Anytime!

A belated birthday breakfast for whafford. Enjoy!

Sketchy Vignettes

Most days, I'd really rather journal in a live journal, rather than on LiveJournal. So, now I will subject you to really bad sketches in addition to broken stream-of-consciousness, random thought pattern vignettes of questionable continuity or commonality. Click on the image to see the original up close and try to read my sloppy hand.  Or you can just read this transcript. Trust me, it is easier.


Papiermeister, 2007



The commander got his mission. After many years of hard work and training, he was going to the International Space Station.

Seeing his home from 250 miles in space, he was so deeply saddened by the intense beauty and the brilliant achievements of the men and women there below all the while MAN had progressed no further than savage brutes. On one EVA, he cut the cord and orbited earth in a 4-½ year free-fall.


He was a brilliant and talented scholar graduating at the top of M.I.T. he went on to research jet propulsion, rockets and space. His studies made way for huge leaps in space exploration.

Yet his own alienation, bitterness and internal mutiny cast him adrift on seas of self-doubt and loathing.


So tiny. Her little bones show through her pale, tight skin. She has lost all her pretty blonde hair. She looks so frail and old. She is only six years old and she is dying.

“My daddy will be here soon.”

And soon he bursts through the door, she smiles and slips away forever with a faintly whispered “I waited for you daddy.”

As she set sail on death’s sea, the one thing that kept him anchored in life cast off and his own mooring slipped anchor and he was swept out to sea.


The commander’s body skipped across the uppermost layer of the earth atmosphere, much like a flat stone hurled at just the right angle to the surface of a still pool. Within a few bounces he plunged into the outer reaches of sky, hurtling toward the planet’s surface at 175,000 mph. While his body incinerated rapidly in its reentry, the medallion he had worn since childhood heated to white-hot in the friction of its fall.