Notes

I will put these words here because I know you have many things going on.

I wanted to sit with you at lunch today and talk about the club activities but was miles away delivering blood to hospitals.

I am glad we understand each other.

Therefore, I can tell you I have reached the action point of my plans to move on.

Next week, I am going to talk to a legal advisor about what it takes in this state for legal separation; I assume nine years of no sexual activity can count toward irreconcilable differences.

More later…

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In another world…

[Personal notes recorded for posterity.  Feel free to skip]

Taking a break from the future to write about the past, to capture thoughts of an ordinary life…probably repeating myself…

When I was 12 years old, I attended a summer camp in the mountains of North Carolina.  I, along with about a dozen campers (six boys and six girls) and two camp leaders, spent five days in a rustic campsite, which meant we slept in bunkbeds housed in wooden sheds and ate in an outdoor eating area with fireplace and picnic tables.  We hiked, swam, canoed and went “tubing” (riding inner tubes down a river).

Like any situation where you spend time with kids your own age, I discovered I liked being outdoors with some of the kids but not all of them.

I had a crush on one girl and she liked me but she was more enamored with the fellow camper who was the son of the camp manager, well-liked and popular.

Thus, I was left to “pair up” with another girl (funny, how many of us naturally paired up with members of the opposite sex; however, one summer another boy was interested in me (I didn’t understand the word “gay” back then) and we corresponded afterward just like any boy and girl would).  She was outgoing in the sense that she tended to blurt out sarcastic, funny responses to things people said, sometimes defensively; thus, I took notice of her when others were a bit turned off.

She was the underdog, a bit awkward socially and easy to talk with, once I overlooked her social faux pas with me, sensing that it was her way of flirting.

She tended to hike a little slower than the rest of the kids, getting blisters on her feet and making excuses about being slow.

Made her even more attractive to me for some reason.

Was it the “rescue the damsel in distress” syndrome in me?

Perhaps.

We corresponded, which gave rise to my writing career, wanting to entertain her (and other correspondents) with short stories I’d include with the regular letters we exchanged.

Two years later, she approached me about the prospect of us meeting for the same week at summer camp, in this case hiking five days on the Appalachian Trail.

Thrilled that a girl would be so forward as to ask me for a five-day long “date” at age 14, I acquiesced.

I had forgotten about her slow hiking rate.

The camp leaders saw the two of us at the rational, well-behaved campers and were used in unusual ways.

For instance, the camp leaders did not want boys and girls sleeping together in tents or in AT shelters, with either camp leader sleeping between the boys and girls; however, they trusted the girl and me to sleep next to each other, with the two of us sharing a pillow more than once.  We were also used to act as barriers between rambunctious boys in four-person tents, the girl and me sleeping in the middle with two misbehaving boys relegated to the outside, colder part of the tent.

The girl and I never kissed or even faced each other when we slept, making sure we were “appropriate” children.

We continued to correspond throughout junior high and high school, visiting each other twice during our high school years (we lived in east Tennessee towns about 30 miles apart).

We had our first official romantic date during spring break of our freshman year in college (she attended Tennessee Tech and I attended Georgia Tech at the time).

I had had a regular female friend in high school, with whom I attended both of our senior proms — we were a regular fixture and people assumed we were boyfriend and girlfriend but we never kissed, despite three-plus years of being together (she now lives in Tokyo with her husband; they have two grown-up children) — we also attended sorority/fraternity social events together after I transferred to the University of Tennessee; people assumed we were going to get married.

Instead, somewhere along the way, I fell in love with the girl from summer camp and, despite reservations from my sister about my maturity (and opposition from my high school female friend), and six years of on-again/off-again dating, I showed up, during one of our off-again stages, at her apartment door one evening with a dozen red roses and an engagement ring.

I moved in with her a day or two later, in April, and we got married that August at age 24.

Fast forward 30 years.  I turn 54 tomorrow.

Where has the time gone?

Better yet, what happened to my dreams of being a free writer living in a cottage exploring dreams and Big Ideas?

I stood at the front of the church on our wedding day, seeing all the people looking at me, wondering if I was really ready for so big a commitment, basically something I had long opposed myself, the institution of marriage.

When we were on our honeymoon, out on a catamaran off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, I remembered something else about marriage that bothered me, something I had kept to myself since I was five years old:

My genderlessness, which sometimes fluctuated into bisexuality and attracted people of varying sexual orientation.

I had seen it time and again while growing up but did not understand what it meant to be attractive to people who didn’t always subscribe to the heterosexual lifestyle we were taught to perpetuate, especially at summer camp, which was sponsored/run by a Christian religion organisation, where we daily prayed, sang Christian songs and read out loud passages of the Bible.

So, from my honeymoon forward to recently, I kept up the sometimes difficult appearance of a heterosexual male in a monogamous relationship with a heterosexual female.

I had let myself get painted into a corner a few times over my hidden sexuality, wanting more than once to kill myself, almost a daily routine of thinking, “Well, I can kill myself tomorrow.”

Then, thanks to a dear, close friend of mine, I achieved a level of self-awareness that I could no longer ignore.

At first I identified myself as genderless, due to the fact that my marriage has been pretty much a celibate one for the past nine years, my sexual desires as strong as ever but not for the woman I lived with (I have rationalised “why” over and over to the point I don’t have any one reason why we’ve been abstinent this long).

My desires, they change from moment to moment and day to day.

I can flirt with a guy or gal any day of the week.

But, am I just a flirt?

As the 30 year mark arrives, I ask myself, is the security of my marriage worth it anymore?

If I stay married, the world stays the same, even though I announced myself to several close friends, including my sister.  Financially, my life is much easier in this marriage than outside it.

If I get out of this marriage, my world will change quite a bit, could be better or worse.

Before I make that change, I ask myself what is it that I really want?

After all, there are important parts of my life that having financial security helps out, including a social dancing group that could use funding assistance.

But if I was a single man, I could also devote more time to activities that I’d no longer have to coordinate with my wife’s need of my time with her, which is never high demand but still ones that I’m not much into, like going out to eat and seeing movies or sitting in front of the TV at home while she plays a computer game and I text friends.

I’ve known my wife for 42 years, or 78% of my life.  Does that mean anything?

Would I publicly give up all that my life has been to start a new uncertain one?

Would I want to be at home alone?

Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I’m going to explore the future with my Martian buddy!

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Meditative Moment

Delving deep into our species’ undiscovered mysteries of the universe — for some, it is a passion with no end.

For others, living the lives that ancestors had laid out is sufficient.

Neither is worse nor better than the other.

In fact, we may be predisposed to one or the other, or some combination thereof.

Therefore, it behooves us to know ourselves, our desires, our capabilities.

I know I desire to explore the solar system, if not in my body, then in a body that represents me in some way we haven’t figured out yet.

For that reason alone, I wake up and get out of bed.

But I am a social creature and sleep in bed next to another social creature (or two) pretty much every day, thinking about her and my other friends constantly.

So exploring the solar system only makes sense if I am not alone.

And some days, the rational analysis of pure science gets boring which means my friends and I find ways to entertain ourselves.

That is what makes us special, different from the rocks and the trees, from the wind and the dust.

Our humanness, our unique brand of socialising, carries us out of the solar system in a tiny vessel recently sampling galactic winds.

This morning I played with our cat, Papier, who wanted to play and play and play when I wanted to sit and write.

Is one activity more important than another?

Papier does not care about this laptop computer.  She understands it competes with her for my attention.

No one would criticise me for spending the rest of the morning playing with our cat rather than meditating upon the quality of “humanness” by typing here.

The choices we make are ours to make and live with.

When I learned to embrace that last sentence, I gave up worrying about others’ opinions and spent more time loving who I am.

Reminds me of a question a friend asked me in junior high school: “What happens when the people whose opinion you care about don’t care about your opinion?”  It was asked rhetorically and we laughed at the dichotomy of growing up in a subculture that you don’t call your own, thinking, at age 12 or 13, that we would not spend our adult years in the same place we were then.  That friend ended up living all over the world, including Paris, France, and Borneo.  We stay in touch but not very often.  My travels have been limited to Northern Hemisphere destinations — when will I ever travel to the Moon or Mars, and with whom?

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Willingness to leave personality traits behind

Never stop learning.

Be willing to leave your comfort zone.

Easier read than done.

And when did we decide that “read” can be pronounced as reed or red?

Anyway, today I dive deep into personality traits in order to move past them and grow into my future self.

Although these topics are covered elsewhere, in popular media for instance, I have rarely written about them here.

I am male by birth, heterosexual by primary gender preference.  Which often means that I find myself desiring a female of my species without realising it.  To the women whom I have ogled absent-mindedly, I give you my apologies — I most often discover myself eyeing a female when there is something going on in my thoughts that scares me, thus driving me to want to procreate in case an imaginary monster is about to kill me.

So what scares me?

Uncontrollable mobs.

Not being liked by at least one person.

Having no wooded land I can walk through alone.

Memories of separation by death.

Being maimed, in agonising pain, and no way to end the pain.

Leaving this world without leaving progeny behind.

On that last fear I stand and meditate for a moment…

I have lived billions of lives, wandered this planet for millions of years, experienced the body of a human and the birth/death of stars.

I want pain, I want discomfort, I want happiness and joy.

I also want a child of my own, a human being who has my genetic material and is influenced by me in one way or another as it grows from infancy to adulthood.

If I do not father a child, I will die with these words as my offspring, pebbles tossed into the pond of life, causing small ripples to spread out and combine with or subtract from other waves.

Not a bad thing.

But I know that I am incomplete.  I am at the age where many of my schoolmates are parents, grandparents, even great-grandparents.

I am an uncle and a great-uncle.  I am a son.  I am a brother.  I am a husband.

I am fatherless.

Therefore, I am missing part of the pain, discomfort, happiness and joy that comes with being a parent.

When my girlfriend, Renée Dobbs, died at age 10 when we were in 5th grade together, I promised my dead 10-year friend I would not forget her, imagining that one day I would have a daughter of my own and could nurture her past the age of 10, healing myself of the stunted emotions I locked away when Renée died.

I don’t even need to have a child.

I just want the hope [that in the future I could possibly have a child] to keep me going.

I can mentally live on ideas for generations.

Sometimes that hope in my thoughts gets mixed with my sexual desires and even I get confused about what it is I want rationally versus what I want in a more primal manner.

I am getting older so I have grown to understand in part that having a child of my own can be substituted with encouraging younger adults as a proxy for being a parent.

If some of these people see me as a father figure, I cannot say, because I have never been a father.  My only interpersonal relationships have been as a son, brother, boyfriend, friend, husband and [great]uncle.

Today I give myself permission to ask who I really am, and who I want to be in the future.

I cannot control what others think of me but I can change the person I project.

I choose to look in the mirror and see the 54-year old man who looks back.

I don’t have to pretend to be sexually attractive to get others to like me.  In fact, such an image may be a turnoff at my age and it’s not what I really want.

What I really want is for our species to live on a planet[oid] other than Earth.

And by species, I mean a self-aware being that recognises itself as progressing out of the lifeforms on Earth, regardless of its set of states of energy, its chemical composition that differs greatly from Homo sapiens.

Amongst many roles we play, we are messengers for our genetic code.

I don’t have to be afraid that I will die fatherless.  I don’t have to maintain the semblance of some sexually attractive aura.

I can be the me I am in my thoughts when no other human is around.

I can live on Mars and wander the woods at the same time, imagining woodland creatures many an ancestor believed lived in the forest in anthropomorphic form and creating adventures for us to enjoy together.

That’s who I’ve always been, interrupted occasionally by the need to communicate with other humans and navigate my way through the eddies and swirls of the river of life with them.

The time arrived last night when I decided to let go of thought patterns that were making me uncomfortable with myself, telling me to sleep on the idea of me as an ugly ogre.

I woke up this morning and felt refreshed but a little tired.

Yes, there is a beast or two in my thoughts — what’s a forest without them? — but they don’t own my thoughts.  They are just a couple of the billions of characters in a mental narrative, the story of my life.

With that said, I move on.

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When I was a child…

When I was a child, I relished the story of Arthur and Guinevere, feeling the emotional scars as Camelot was lost.  Now, as an adult, whenever I realise that a friend loses a parent, spouse, child, or another friend, I remember those literary characters are no longer with me and I grab the emotions of myself as a child and own them like I’m having them all over again.

I learned to write because of my friend Mike McGinty who went on to success in the field of advertising.

We corresponded with each other after he moved out of my hometown and became good friends again after his family moved back.

He taught me it’s okay to own your emotions and write about them.

My wife was my penpal from 7th grade to 12th grade, helping me to finetune my writing style as I fell in love with her — my permanent summer camp romance, dating each other off and on for six years, married now for almost 30 years.

It is for her that I write.

It is of my friends that I expand the character of my wife into other roles.

Not always easy to write of a universe in which we humans are such a small part but worth the effort all the same, nonetheless.

I sing a song of love for us.

Shared with the world with no desire for monetary compensation because love is free.

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One or more

To sit here, as writer, as comedian, as journalist, as funhouse mirror or crystal orb, I throw myself into my work.

All or nothing.

I sacrifice my privacy for the sake of the small chance I will ever consider what I reread here in the future will appear to be, to me, as art.

As I hear in my thoughts throughout the years,

…to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

[The words I chose to read aloud during my Eagle Scout ceremony at age in 1976 at age 14]

I stay true to myself — observer first, journalist second, writer third, comedian/funhouse mirror last — losing and gaining friendships based on how well my wife, family and friends accept what I write with them as stand-ins for characters playing out roles in the scifi tales I tell myself in my thoughts that may or may not parallel our/their lives.

Being slightly autistic and clueless/unaware of the reality of life, only able, in my youngest years, to quickly learn how to map out my surroundings in attempts to comprehend what others are saying to/about me, I live an internal life of great wonder, forever the child fascinated by the rain, by nature, by the technology it takes to put these words on a flat object a few feet from my face without a direct connection between my hands and the electronic paper where these words appear, one set of pixels at a time.

I read Donald Barthelme’s work, including a bio about him, when I was a young adult, remembering how he and others like him (e.g., Eugene O’Neill) noticed when the characters they wrote about interfered with their personal relationships because of very close similarities between friends and fiction.

I understand the difficulties they face because of the advice oft repeated, “Write what you know.”

If I cannot be true to myself, Rick the Writer, then who am I?

Is my writing worth the pain I feel after stories and books are published, read by the very people whose delightfully detailed and inspiring lives helped fill the pages they hold in their hands, asking me (and then me asking myself in doubt) why I chose a particular angle or storyline with them clearly described in what may or may not be a flattering view?

My father knew I would face such a dilemma.  His advice was to dive wholeheartedly into my writing should I be willing to die alone, or give up writing and concentrate my analytical skills on business management, reaping monetary rewards and friends alike.

Dad, I chose both because I have only one life to figure out which path was the better in real life and realtime.

I seek forgiveness from those whom I may have modeled too closely for comfort, a way to show how much I am willing to give of myself for love of them.

The only love I truly know how to show is through my writing.  Everything else is an approximation of what I observe others call love, love that I as an autistic child emotionally never have fully understood.

I write because I hope one or more will read this and gain [a new] understanding of something similar within themselves.

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Thunbergia grandiflora

[Personal notes — feel free to skip]

I never expect to be here, contemplating the levels of being that imply a scale of happiness for which I can move higher.

Is such possible?

I guess that’s why I’m here, trying to separate the reality of my existence from the Walter Mitty like life I write about and partially live in, giving my future selves hints about where we’ll find ourselves, given the infinite directions we can take from every point in time.

The cuckoo clock lets me know a half-hour has passed and by letting me know I mean that a mechanical device raises two bellows, each blowing a puff of air over a wooden edge that we interpret as a bird singing kuh-koo, in place of its actual signal of whistle-whistle in two different sound frequencies at the same time a painted wooden object is pushed out of a door where we pretend to see a bird calling “cuckoo.”

Today, in and of itself, is only special in that it designates the precursor to the next day on our European-influenced calendar where practitioners of a particular system of beliefs practice an annual ritual.

Many choose today to celebrate libation consumption levels which strain many a liver beyond the best filtering a biological sieve can provide.

If I am to survive to my second century, drinking massive quantities of fermented beverages is out of the picture.

Is there a reality where the things I desire can materialise?

What of my visions of Martian exploration and settlement?

What of living in a cabin in the woods, possibly in Europe, raising little ones I call my own with a loving mother just as vision-filled as I am?

I plan the future because it always happens the way I want it to.

Therefore, I carefully consider my words before giving them nearly total exposure to Earth-based humans via the current method of writing electronic journal entries in a system we call the World Wide Web.

Oh, happiness, can you be so close?

Oh happiness, can you still be only a Thurberian vision, repeated ad [in]finitum?

Can I only be an inspiration for my future self, the current self always slightly unhappy, always slightly dissatisfied with self, seeking that which I can never have so that I can plant the seeds for a better future, planting, harvesting and replanting a forest of ideas in Sysiphean fashion?

What if one person can bridge the gulf between imagination and reality, providing a hand as long as I’m willing to blindly, trustingly, step over the precipice that separates us now?

All the signs are there (assuming I still know how to read them).

Of all the possibilities for our species four centuries from now, what if they only exist after I take that next scary step into the void?

Sure, it rocks the boat and shakes up the status quo but isn’t that what I’m for?

Let’s make the choice more dramatic.

Give myself two choices, taking away the easy path I’m on.

I can step off the plateau and either I’ll fall flat on my face (possibly or probably suffering irreparable damage, even death) or I’ll step into undiscovered country with no way of knowing what’s going to be next except the fact that it’s the only way I can move higher on the happiness scale and live into my second century of life (recalling that my second century of life includes perpetuation of the species in its current (or yet to be genetically rearranged) form).

I can only write this blog entry because I believe no one else reads it but me and it has no effect on anyone I know, itself a big step forward from the private diary/journal entries of old where writing whatever I wanted had absolutely no effect on anyone but the pen/diary/journal manufacturers.

Sometimes, I have to pay attention to this entity known as the self, knowing I take up space that other sets of states of energy could occupy, doing whatever else they might do in my place, for better or worse, richer or poorer — still so much to do to protect and preserve the future of our species in getting off this planet, negotiating with those who want to cement their place on Earth, despite the statistical knowledge of keeping all our eggs in this basket for too long is wrong.

Although I probably wouldn’t take it with me if I did go, it tells me what I should know — ultimately, I am a Happy Wanderer!

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