My Weekend for Sacred Texts

Before I head off to bed, I’m going to sit down and type some notes on the weekend that just ended, and get it posted.  So, Messrs. Nelson, Kristofferson, Jennings, and Cash are singing “The Highwayman” (from the disk The Legend of Johnny Cash), and I’m polishing off my last Diet Pepsi of the day.

I’m recently back from the Noor Islamic Cultural Center and their Ramadan open house.  I went with Steve Palm-Houser and his daughter Amelia.  Guests from many of Columbus’ many houses of worship came for the presentation, and for the food served at 8:09 p.m. (official sunset).  We even came away with small gift bags–a trade paperback of the Oxford University Press’ edition of The Qur’an (©2005), a picture brochure of the Noor Islamic Cultural Center in Dublin (quite a beautiful building, both inside and out), and several pamphlets from the Website Why Islam?.

One of the guest speakers was Cantor Jack Chomsky, who leads the services (weekday and Shabbat) at Congregation Tifereth Israel, the Conservative synagogue in Olde Towne East.  He and the rabbis of that temple were a shining beacon to everyone in the post-9/11 lunacy and xenophobia which became fashionable, if not epidemic, in the U.S.  Down E. Broad St. from Tifereth Israel, the Islamic Center was severely vandalized, and the damage was so extensive that the building had to undergo extensive and costly repairs.  The rabbis and leaders offered the Muslims the use of the temple for their five daily prayers and Friday prayers for as long as it took to make their facility usable again.  To this day, Tifereth Israel loans out their parking lot gratis for the parking overflow for the Friday prayers.  (The leadership at Tifereth Israel are so treasonous as to not take their marching orders from Limbaugh, Beck, Gingrich, etc., and their congregation, and Olde Towne East, is much the richer for it.)

You almost needed to roll me out of the Islamic Cultural Center after the meal.  I had generous helpings of rice, chicken, hummus, lamb, and lentil soup.  (I had a beard trim this afternoon–more about that soon–so I felt I could eat lentil soup.  When the beard is untrimmed, I usually abstain from it.  About 25 years ago, I was eating a meal in a kosher restaurant in Flushing one winter night with my friend Ken Katz.  I saw two old Hasidic men–complete with the long, untrimmed beards–eating lentil soup.  If you want to lose your appetite in a hurry, that’s all you need to see.)

The Qur’an from the Oxford World’s Classics was my second sacred text today.  I slept too late to go to church today, but in the early afternoon, Susie and I went to the Really, Really Free Market in Weinland Park.  The Sporeprint Infoshop sponsors the Really, Really Free Market the last Sunday of every month, but they expanded it today as a way of bidding farewell to the summer.  Usually, the market is on the sidewalk in front of Sporeprint’s headquarters on E. 5th Ave., where books, clothes, bread, and baked goods are set out a table for anyone who wants them.

They turned it into a mini-fair in Weinland Park.  They offered knitting and hair-cutting, clothes, books, and household appliances, all free.  A young woman named Jessie walked around with a sign on her back that said FREE HAIRCUTS, so I asked if she ever cut facial hair.  She never had, but I was feeling adventurous, so I asked her if she’d trim my beard, which has gotten to the point where it was totally covering my upper lip.

I know Mr. Rogers told two generations of children,
“Haircuts don’t hurt,” but you’d never know it from
my facial expression.  Jessie very patiently and
thoroughly cut through the Brillo pad of my untrimmed

Jessie did a stellar job, especially using just scissors and a comb.  I’m sorry to report that the scissors were a casualty of the project.  By the time they cut through the beard (which is probably like steel wool in some places), I doubt her scissors would have cut butter.  She didn’t have a whetstone or a razor strop handy, so she had to strike her shingle after only one client.
The second sacred text I obtained today was A Buddhist Bible, edited by Dwight Goddard, courtesy of the Really, Really Free Market.  This was also a trade paperback ©1994 by Beacon Press (the Unitarian Universalist Association’s publishing arm), the publisher of two anthologies compiled by my late aunt Jean McKee Thompson: Poems to Grow On and Our Own Christmas.  (Jack Kerouac’s discovery–and extensive reading of–The Buddhist Bible laid the groundwork for his books The Dharma Bums and Some of the Dharma.  The latter remained unpublished until 1997, except for very few excerpts published by my friend Robert Lowry in his short-lived literary journal Robert Lowry’s Book USA circa 1958.)

Susie didn’t fare too well, I’m sorry to say.  The only shoes in her size had cleats on the soles, and she couldn’t find any clothes she liked that fit.  She came away with a glass and a Thomas Kinkade spiral address book.  I got Steph a pair of shoes, after getting on the cell phone to call and ask her size.

I remembered why I never buy puzzles or games second-hand.  Some of the children, trying to “help,” spilled two puzzles together on the ground.  Sally Louise, one of the people who helped launch this event, spent some time on her knees helping the kids collect the pieces and get them back.  (Fortunately, the backs of the puzzles were different colors, but I’m sure they’re still intermingled.)

Sally Louise helps the kids picked up the spilled puzzle
pieces.  How many Lite-Brite pieces ended up going
up vacuum cleaners in America over the last 40 years?
My friend Scott came with his face paints, jumping at the chance to ply his trade, since he never had a chance at Comfest.  (The last time he used such natural canvases was at the World Naked Bike Ride in June.)  Many of the younger element flocked to him, and they all came away pleased, especially this young man:
Such great artwork, and yet so fleeting.
Friday night, I went to a party/concert at The Monster House, an actual dwelling place on W. 10th Ave.  I didn’t spend much time at the concert itself.  That was in the basement, and being below ground in such a comparatively confined place with about 20 people, each giving off the energy and heat of a 150-watt bulb, triggered my latent claustrophobia (which has never been a significant issue in my life before).  I stayed on the main floor and on the front porch and talked with people, including our many hosts.
It was a BYOB affair, so I went to the 7-Eleven at N. High and 10th and bought some Diet Pepsi.  I received many unsolicited warnings about how horrible aspartame is (I guess that must be the nutritional bogeyman this summer–preceded by mono-sodium glutamate and carbohydrates; they’re hard to keep track of), all of these coming from people who were drinking beer by the liter and who were smoking.
One of the bands’ lead singers wore the big-lensed Christian Dior glasses that I remember girls wearing when I was in junior and senior high.  (My favorite TV personality, Fritz the Nite Owl of WBNS-TV here in Columbus, made them very popular on his Nite Owl Theater in the 1970s.)  She complimented me on my glasses, which doesn’t happen often.  (One woman I dated once told me I was one of the few people under 60 who could wear half glasses and not look silly.  I’m not sure if that’s a compliment.)  We traded eye wear and the moment was immortalized:
 What I never understood was when girls had little
stickers at the bottom of the lenses–with their
initials, or butterflies, or hearts.  How could
they stand to have that in the peripheral vision
all the time?

This was supposed to be a short entry, with or without illustrations.  The Johnny Cash disk ended a long time ago, and I’ve switched to The Alan Parsons Project’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination, with “The Fall of the House of Usher Suite” playing right now.  (One thing I miss about LiveJournal–and that is a very short list–is the field where you type in what music you’re listening to or thinking of while you’re working.)

Wondering If I’ve Decompressed Sufficiently

It’s 5 a.m., and when the little hand is on 8 and the big hand is on 12, I will be back to work.  I still don’t feel like I’ve had sufficient time to change gears mentally from the trip to New Jersey and go back into civil service mode.  Especially not helpful is the fact that I collapsed from sheer exhaustion before sunset, and remained asleep until nearly 4 a.m.  (My shuteye was minimal at the LRY Reunion, but I knew from the get-go that would happen.)

Here’s the group picture, taken after the Sunday brunch, before the lack of sleep caught up with everybody.

Monday was one of my cost-saving days, as was Friday.  (I chose those days specifically for the safari that just ended.)  I fully expected to be spending Sunday night on the bus coming home, but thanks to Julie and Marc, Susie and I were home just after 11 p.m.  I would have arrived back in Columbus around 11:30 Monday morning otherwise.

You’d think that the minute I saw the bed, it would be like someone taking the switch that powered my body and throwing it immediately to off, but that was not the case.  I was still wound up from the trip–the joy of reuniting with old friends, meeting some new people, etc.  So, I loaded the 90+ pictures that I took with my Kodak EasyShare C180 (a good digital camera, a rather simple Ph.D.–Push Here, Dummy–camera) to my computer, culled through them for the ones that would go on Facebook, and then scanned the handwritten entries from the weekend into Blogspot.

Jacques, his mom, and I went down to Mineral to deliver clothes and food to Feed My Sheep.  I ran on sheer adrenaline for most of the time I was stocking food boxes and helping to get them out to the front parking lot. I hadn’t eaten anything but two chicken-salad sandwiches I bought at 7-Eleven on the way down.

The trip from Columbus to Mineral is 75 miles each way, and that’s a milk run compared to the trip I just completed, but I found myself dozing off quite a few times on the way back.  I managed to stay awake until dinner, but I lasted less than an hour after the meal ended.  I need to realize that I’m not the type of person who can nap.  When I do nap (such as the siestas I take in the quiet-reading desks at the BWC Library at work), I never feel all that refreshed when I wake up.

My news is good footwise.  I wore the boot on the trip home, mainly because it would have been such a pain to pack it otherwise.  I haven’t had a Darvocet since the noon meal Saturday.  (We went on a hike around the camp property that afternoon, and with lunch I took a double dose, so I could stay ahead of the pain.)  I took the hike wearing a regular shoe, and I can’t really say I’ve felt much foot pain since.

Here is the camp map.  I think we covered about two miles in all.  I remember that three of us (Joan, John, and myself) were standing on Vesper Island and looking out at Lake Shawanni, and we saw Susie in the middle seat of a canoe with two other kids.  They were having a blast, but seemed to have a hard time synchronizing their paddling motion.  (I’m glad now that I haven’t shown A Place in the Sun to her.)

Where I spent my weekend.

The sun will soon be up, and I will probably be moving on sheer automation the first hour or so that I am back at work.  Something truly unusual: It looks like I’ll make it to the bus stop without having to make my customary Dagwood Bumstead sprint to catch it.

Eve of Departure

Susie is packed and ready to go, and I’m pretty sure I am as well.  The Liberal Religious Youth (LRY) Reunion, aka “Garden of LRY”, officially begins at 5 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, and to me this night is Christmas Eve, the last day of school, and Mardi Gras all rolled into one.  I think I’m packed–I promised Julie, who was nice enough to drive Susie and me on this safari, that I’d pack light.  (Since I originally planned to take Greyhound to this Reunion, packing light was my original intention.)

Susie will be picking up a new state on this trip.  She’s never been to New Jersey before.  She has been to Pennsylvania, which is the only other state we will cross on this journey.  She’s not looking forward to the long drive, but as I get older, I take Cervantes’ words more to heart: “The road is always better than the inn.”

Julie’s husband Marc is attending an academic conference in Seattle, and she worried about the logistics around meeting him at the Newark airport.  (The Reunion itself is near Newton, N.J., in Sandyston Township.)  But, a mutual friend of ours from Queens will meet Marc’s flight as he is heading to the camp.  This came about in a blizzard of phone calls and emails among all of us today.

Jacques and I met for beverages at Kafé Kerouac this evening, but I became more and more frustrated because their Wi-Fi and this computer just could not connect, regardless of how many times they reset the router.  To keep from seething, I suggested that Jacques come with me and take an impromptu tour of Sporeprint Infoshop, the “radical social center” on E. 5th Ave. which is becoming quite dear to my heart.  We drove down and met with two volunteers, and Jacques came away quite impressed, especially with the lending library, the non-sectarian food distribution, the Internet-ready computers ready for anyone who needs them, and the fact that Kroger has been quite generous with donations of bread, cakes, and pastries.  Sporeprint is located directly across the street from Vineyard Columbus’ food pantry and free clinic.  Kahlil Gibran wrote in The Prophet that “Work is love made visible,” and that should be printed on a banner that stretches over the street above E. 5th Ave. between Summit and N. 4th.

Jacques came away marveling at the work Sporeprint promotes, especially the Really, Really Free Market the last Sunday of every month.  He plans to attend (as do I) the special one which happens on the 29th of this month (noon until 5 p.m. in Weinland Park, 211 E. 7th Ave.).  In addition to free clothes, books, bread, etc., there will be free services offered–hair-cutting, face-painting, children’s shows, etc.  I plan to be there.  Those of you who read this blog who live in the Columbus area, I strongly encourage you to come.  Those of you that miss it, I will describe it in a forthcoming entry.

Out of curiosity, I checked Google Maps for the directions to the 4-H camp in New Jersey.  It offered three routes, and the travel time varied by, at most, 30-45 minutes.  Julie says we’ll probably take I-71 to I-80 (which makes sense, because it avoids the Pennsylvania Turnpike and all those tolls).  I asked her out of mere curiosity–she’s driving, her word is law.  She says the car has a GPS, which she’ll be using for the first time, so I’m sure it’ll suggest the same thing.

The first “long” piece of prose I ever wrote, other than a penciled autobiography when I was 10, was a 48-page, typewritten, single-spaced description of two trips to Richmond, Va. I made with my parents when I was almost 11.  While writing this, I remember keeping the Exxon road map of the trip spread out on the bedroom floor by the typewriter, so I could trace the journey.  (It stayed spread out because I could never master the art of folding maps.)  The GPS makes that a little different.  Gone are the days when this would be your guide:

It would be invaluable to travel with this, even though it was crumpled up in a ball in the glove compartment, complete with melted Tootsie Rolls and old McDonald’s napkins and coffee stirrers.

Well, I’m not a tiny tot, but my eyes are all aglow, and I am finding it hard to sleep tonight.  Nevertheless, I am going to post this entry and make the attempt.  The camp is beyond Wi-Fi range, so I plan to handwrite blog entries in a notebook and then scan them, backdated, into this blog once I’m back in Columbus.

Been Too Tired For Self-Promotion

Very busy on Saturday, from mid-morning until about 3 a.m. Sunday morning, and all I’ve wanted to do in the meantime is sleep.  How tired was I?  On Friday, I learned that one of my favorite Websites, Notebook Stories, named me “Notebook Addict of the Month,” and included a link to this blog.  I have been a devoteé of this site ever since I discovered it, and I was honored to receive this award.  No one who knows me was surprised by this at all.  One of the miracles of the World Wide Web is learning that other people share your more bizarre and offbeat interests, whether it’s collecting Cracker Jack prizes, or decorating your kitchen in old Mrs. Butterworth bottles, or writing in (and hoarding) notebooks.

I jumped at the chance to go back to Athens Saturday with Steve.  He’s writing an article for The Columbus Examiner about Ohio Unitarian Universalists’ reactions to the recent death of Art Gish, so I recommended he speak to Bob Whealey, professor emeritus of history at O.U., and my longtime friend and mentor.  (I knew him for three or four years before I ever took a class from him.)  Steve and I met Bob at Perks, a coffee shop diagonally across from College Gate, early Saturday evening.  (It had been a jewelry store, and later a Kinko’s, during my years in Athens.)  The conversation was quite free-flowing, and we spoke about much more than Art Gish and his legacy.  I think it could have gone on for hours, except that Steve was worried his parking meter at Scott Quad would expire, and, since his wife had gone to Kentucky for the weekend, that if he didn’t get home soon, their dogs would be going berserk.
Speaking of berserk, that describes the rest of Saturday night for me.  I stopped in at Dude Locker Fest II, a marathon metal concert at the Tompkins Warehouse on E. Hudson St.  Several metal bands played, and there was an impromptu skate park set up on the asphalt in front of the building.  I’ve never learned to ride a skateboard, and I was awed by some of the feats these guys performed.  One wooden ramp stood next to a small bonfire (fueled mostly by trash and old pizza boxes), and I winced every time I thought someone would get to the top of the ramp, spill, and land in the fire.  They spilled, but thankfully each one managed to fall away from the flames.
On the other side of the parking lot, someone rigged up a ramp which included an old dryer, which made the drop-off that much higher and steeper.  Several people wiped out attempting it, but just as many landed with all skateboard wheels on the asphalt, and the rider balanced perfectly atop it.  It amazed me how much the excessive alcohol could dampen inhibitions, and make the body more relaxed and able to absorb falls and blows, but at the same time they did not sacrifice the coordination and dexterity necessary to perform skateboard stunts and not end up crippled as a result.
Since I got home from Dude Locker Fest II, all I’ve wanted to do was sleep.  I skipped church, but I did make it to work this morning and the library afterwards.
Mostly, I’m counting down the days until Friday.  The Garden of LRY (a reunion for those of us who were in Liberal Religious Youth from the ’60s through the ’90s) takes place at a 4-H camp near Newton, N.J. this weekend, and yours truly will be going.  Susie will be coming along too–she can make new friends among the teenagers there.  The teenagers can sit back and watch their parents act like teenagers.  I am moved by the generosity of Marc and Julie, a couple at church, who have offered to drive Susie and me to and from.  (Julie is driving me to New Jersey, since Marc will be in Seattle and will be flying to Newark on Friday.  All four of us will head back to Columbus Sunday.)  I had planned on going Greyhound both ways, but when I mentioned this to Marc during coffee hour at church the Sunday before last, that was when he suggested we come with them.  Since not buying bus tickets freed up some money, that was when I began to think Susie would enjoy coming.  It’ll add a new state (New Jersey) to her list.
Julie, Susie, and I are departing around 9 a.m. Friday morning.  According to Google Maps, it’s a 9½-hour journey, but I’m sure it’ll be longer when we add stops for bathroom breaks, refilling, eating, etc.  Travelling with someone else will make it a less grueling trip.  I was upfront about not being able to drive.  That started off as a choice, long before narcolepsy made it a matter of necessity.
The camp itself (the G. Lindley Cook 4-H Camp) is way out in the boondocks and beyond the reach of Wi-Fi.  True to my calling as Notebook Addict of the Month (normally the Webmaster chooses Notebook Addict of the Week), I’ll be blogging with paper and ink.  Once I’m back in Columbus, I’ll backdate entries and scan the pages into the blog, so you’ll read my thoughts and impressions upon my return.
Here is the entry with my “award.”  I am no photographer, but they did publish my pictures of the work notebooks and rough drafts of William Vollmann’s gigantic novel Europe Central, which was on display at the OSU Library last month.
A very small tip of the iceberg that would become Europe

Tragedy Brings Me Back to Athens

Art Gish devoted his life to peacemaking, economic justice, civil rights, reconciliation, and love.  These are ideas that have never sold well.  If you start shooting off your mouth about them around the wrong people, you’re likely to find yourself nailed up on two pieces of wood at the top of a hill.

This afternoon, friends came from all over to honor his life and mourn his death.  The First United Methodist Church on College St. in Athens was standing-room-only.  Art, who had faced down Israeli tanks in Hebron armed with nothing more than the cry of “Baruch Ha’Shem Adonai!”, and who protested in front of Army recruiting stations, died on his own land, crushed by a tractor, aged 70.
I rode down from Columbus this morning with Phil and Julie, a couple who attend Columbus Mennonite Church.  I had never met them before; we connected through Central Ohioans for Peace’s message board.  I was happy to learn that, after Art’s memorial service, they were headed to a wedding and reception in The Plains, so I would have time to explore the city where I had spent much of the 1980s, both as a high school student hitchhiking up on weekends from Marietta, to a student, and later as a townie.
I first heard the name Art Gish in the fall of 1981.  A Quaker farmer in New Marshfield asked me if I wanted to help select a peace candidate to run against the incumbent Congressman, Rep. Clarence Miller (R-Lancaster).  I was realistic enough to know that Miller, who had represented the 10th Congressional District of Ohio since 1967, would be handily re-elected, so the sacrificial lamb candidate we chose had almost no chance of winning.

One chilly November night, I hitchhiked to Athens and went to a long meeting at the home of a chemistry professor.  Two names seemed to carry the day: Chuck Overby, professor of industrial and systems engineering at O.U., and Art Gish.  Chuck Overby I knew slightly through the Unitarian Fellowship, but Art Gish was a totally foreign name to me.

At the next meeting, both men spoke to us about their vision for peace and the prospect of employment for the 10th District (At that time, Ohio was 49th in employment, trailed only by Michigan).  After both men spoke, we sent them into another room and closed the door while we debated.  After much debate, we decided that Chuck Overby would be the more viable candidate.  The two men emerged from the room each convinced the other would be a stellar candidate.  (It was a moot point; Chuck was defeated in the Democratic primary the following June, and John Buchanan went on to lose to Clarence Miller by almost 2:1.  Miller kept his seat until retiring in 1993.)

Many stories and anecdotes came from the pulpit of the church in Athens.  We heard from his family (one of his sons is part of a Bruderhof community (literally “place of brothers”), a sect of Anabaptists who live communally based on the model of the early Christian church).  I heard stories about Art that took place in seminary, Israel, Gaza, and the Athens Farmers’ Market.  People read from some of his books, including Beyond the Rat Race, Hebron Journal: Stories of Non-Violent Peacemaking, and At-Tuwani Journal: Hope and Non-Violent Action in a Palestinian Village.  Prayers in English, Arabic, and Hebrew went up in his name.  He habituated both the Hillel Foundation for Jewish Life and the Islamic Center of Athens, and always tried to converse with foreign students in their native languages.

After the service (the Calliope Feminist Choir sung us on our way), I explored Athens thoroughly for the first time in many years.  I tried not to dwell on what had stood at a particular location, although I eagerly sought the familiar.  Baker Center, the student center, is in bigger and more majestic quarters at the end of Court St.  Many businesses I remember from my days there no longer remain, although many of the bars are the same, albeit with different motifs.  Little Professor Book Store is still chugging along–I bought a pocket diary on sale there for $.25.  The Saturday streets were quite busy for a summer afternoon, as this was the weekend for Bobcat Student Orientation.

I took several pictures of Court Street from various angles, the street where I spent much of my time–way too much.

Near the corner of N. Court and W. State Sts.,
where Pawpurr’s, The Pub, and The Junction
still stand.

College Green.  I actually choked up a little
when the bells atop Manasseh Cutler Hall struck
at 7 p.m.

Looking north on Court St.  The First Presbyterian
Church is on the northeast corner.

Phil and Julie left the wedding and reception in The Plains around 8:30, and we headed north.  I was able to stop by Oak St. and have an animated and informative, but all too brief, visit with Bob Whealey, who turned 80 this spring.  He is a retired history professor at Ohio University, who also made a quixotic run against Clarence Miller (this time in 1972, and he fared as well as George McGovern did that year!).  I earned extra cash typing his manuscripts, notes, and projects during my years in Athens, and he even mentioned my name as one of his “patient typists through the years” in the Foreword of his book Hitler and Spain: The Nazi Role in the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939.  It was like old times, sitting in the living room of his house, surrounded by books, high stacks of papers and files, the familiar archive and musty paper smell I knew so well when I visited there quite often.
I was too saddened by the downfall of The Oasis to photograph it.  This was a student hangout and grill located on University Terrace, next to the Church of the Good Shepherd.  Many Middle Eastern students habituated the place, because of its proximity to the math and science buildings, so it had the derisive nickname “the Arab embassy.”  I worked there in 1988 and 1989, my last months in Athens, as a typist and assistant manager at the small copy shop in the back.  The pay was livable for a childless bachelor, and I enjoyed the long conversations with my manager and with the owner of The Oasis, John Farley.
John died in 2002, aged 77, and the University bought The Oasis from his estate and ran it as a grill and snack shop, but in November 2006, The Oasis closed its doors for good, and it appears to have sat vacant ever since.  The only sign of life is the Chase Bank ATM machine.  An O.U. grad writing in this 2006 Athens News column, wrote about the post-Farley life of The Oasis.
I was too wound up from the events of the day to head home, so I went to the Awarehouse (the warehouse/party site behind Third Hand Bicycle Co-op and Sporeprint Infoshop on E. 5th Ave.) and saw the  New York-based group Menya perform at the Hootenanny for Hellraisers.  I was happy to reconnect with friends I had met at the housewarming the previous week, and also a friend I had met at a Sporeprint screening of Fowl Play last Wednesday evening.
I would have covered more terrain in Athens had it not been for this damn orthopedic boot on my foot.  My approaching footsteps resembled Frankenstein’s, I’m sure.  I probably walked more than I should have, but I had taken two Darvocet (I usually take one), which kept the pain at bay.  Without a good walk, I’m like a heroin addict his second day off the needle.  After the party at the Awarehouse ended, I probably would have risked a walk home, but I had my laptop in an over-the-shoulder bag, and it would be tempting fate to walk through the neighborhood around Weinland Park at that hour anyway, laptop or no laptop.
I will leave you with the image of Art Gish that is probably the most famous.  I am surprised it didn’t win the photographer a Pulitzer Prize.  Art stands in front of an Israeli tank en route to bulldozing a Palestinian market in Hebron.

Your Diarist Gets the Boot & Thoughts on Art Gish

I had a two-hour respite from my insane workday today, but I wish it was under better circumstances.  I spent two hours at Feet First, a podiatrist’s office downtown.  On Thursday, I awoke with incredible pain along the right side of my right foot.  I’ve had pain in my feet before, so I decided to ride it out.  (My first thought was that I had worn out the tennis shoes I’d been wearing, so after work I went to the Volunteers of America and plunked down $2 on a new pair of walking shoes.)

That didn’t help, because I woke up this morning (in my eyes, it’s still Friday night) in even worse pain.  The pain was so bad I was noticeably limping when I arrived at work at 8 a.m.  A co-worker of mine had missed work earlier this week because of gout, so one person asked me if that was what I had.  I have not had gout, which is miraculous when you consider how much Diet Pepsi I drink.  However, I have had cellulitis on the top of my foot.  That happened when a cat scratched me, and I think I had my last tetanus shot in Athens sometime in the late 1980s.  Cellulitis’ pain is so bad you can’t put on socks or shoes.  The doctor gave me antibiotics and a Limbaughesque cornucopia of painkillers.  (The doctor initially diagnosed gout, but revised the diagnosis later that day.)  Stay off the foot, and don’t eat anything in the nightshade family until it heals (which meant no potatoes, no onions, no tomatoes, or anything made from them).

By 8:30, I had pulled up Aetna Member Services’ Website and went to DocFind.  I called Feet First, the only podiatrist truly close to my office.  The office manager said that if I came right now, I could get an appointment.  I spoke with my supervisor and took two buses to get there–a distance that earlier in the week I would have happily traversed on foot.  They took two X rays of my right foot, and Dr. Zoog, the young podiatrist, looked at them, examined the foot, and diagnosed a stress fracture at the base of the little toe.  He wrote me prescriptions for Lamisil (for athlete’s foot) and Darvocet-N for the pain, and–on the house–provided me with a black orthopedic boot.  It looks like a moon boot, and I now have a gait that resembles that of Frankenstein’s monster.  Between the painkiller and the boot, walking is not pleasant, but it is bearable.

I’m to wear the boot until I see Dr. Zoog again in three weeks.  I can’t be as sedentary as I ideally should.  The not-walking time after my gallbladder came out just about drove me crazy.  The only reason I was able to stay inside and not walking was because of the heavy snowfall a day or two after the surgery; I was too scared of slipping and falling on the ice to go outside and walk.

Here’s my boot-encased right foot:

I’ve had zero interest in footwear style–just buy what’s most comfortable, and to hell with how it looks.  That being said, it’s safe to say I doubt Imelda Marcos has anything like this in the infamous shoe collection she left behind when she and Ferdinand fled the Philippines.  (I remember a political cartoon depicting her as a millipede.)

I took Susie to Olympic Swim and Racquet tonight to see Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian.  The pool is only a mile from our house, yet I had Susie walk up there while I rode the bus.  I felt like such an invalid.

Athens beckons in the morning.  I am riding down with a Mennonite couple–friends of friends²–for a memorial service.  The service honors the memory of Art Gish, an Athens farmer and Christian pacifist, who died in a farming accident.  Here is his obituary.  This will be my first trip to Athens since my mother died in October 2008.

Will post some thoughts about Art Gish and the memorial service upon my return.  In the meantime, I highly recommend this video, Old Radicals, in which Art described his efforts at making peace in the Middle East.  (He tells the story of the photograph of his staring down an Israeli tank in Hebron, holding up his arms and shouting over and over, “Baruch Ha’Shem Adonai!”–Blessed be the name of the Lord.)

The service is at 2 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Athens, 2 S. College St.

With My Final Reserves of Energy, I Drag Myself to the Laptop to Chronicle My Weekend

I’m sitting at my overly cluttered desk with The Moody Blues (the Every Good Boy Deserves Favour album).  Truly riding on fumes here, but I realize I haven’t written in here in a week, so–even if no one else is reading–I’m going to post to try and restore my mental and physical energy level.

On Monday, Steve and I took Susie to Girlz Rhythm ‘n’ Rock Camp at Hoover Y-Park in Lockbourne, about 18 miles from us.  This is her second year there.  Girls aged 8-18 come together to form bands, write music, learn to perform it, and put together complete stage performances.  Unfortunately, after we dropped Susie off, Steve made good on his promise to get me to work promptly afterwards.

I’m sure Suzie Simpson (the director) and her volunteers kept the girls running around to all hours, until they fell over from exhaustion.  My week was packed to the rafters with work, since my co-worker is on vacation the entire week, which doubled my workload considerably.

So how did I unwind?  By cramming Saturday with one activity after another.  Our friend Cynthia drove me down to Lockbourne Saturday morning to see the girls’ performance and take Susie back to Columbus.  Susie surprised me when I saw her onstage at the Yamaha keyboard while singing lead vocals for Moonlight Band.  (She had to sing two vocals, since one of the girls in her band left the camp by emergency squad on Friday, apparently with appendicitis.)

The littlest kids’ song had everyone in stitches.  I didn’t catch all the lyrics, but the gist of it was “Leave me alone, get out of my life,” and the refrain included “When I see you, I want to vomit.”

Susie at the Yamaha, awaiting the cue to begin.

Only one finale was appropriate: a very spirited rendition of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ “I Love Rock and Roll.”
They love rock and roll!

Susie and I went to the Whetstone Library once we were back in Columbus.  The outdoor performance was racing the sky, which was darkening every minute.  Steph and her friend Joanna had come down separately from us, and headed back to Columbus as soon as the performance ended.  Cynthia, Susie, and I stayed for the potluck.  (Unfortunately, I didn’t get any of the blackberry pie that Cynthia contributed.)  By the time we were back in Columbus, it was raining.
I didn’t realize just how exhausted I was until Susie and I came home from the library.  I lay down for about 45 minutes, and then jumped on the COTA bus northbound to the Noodle Company, across from Graceland Shopping Center.  Pulpfest was this weekend at the Ramada Plaza Hotel on Sinclair Road.  I went to it last year–its first year in Columbus–but didn’t go this year.  (I wrote about the ’09 show in my LiveJournal blog here.)
Since I met him at an Old-Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention in Cincinnati in 2006, I try to see Mike Nevins any time our paths intersect.  Long before I ever met him in person, I had bought his Cornell Woolrich: First You Dream, Then You Die, which chronicles the wretched life of the author of “Rear Window” and The Bride Wore Black.  Last year, he was our dinner guest, and since I couldn’t make it to PulpFest, Steve and I met him for dinner at Noodles.  Mike talked about his forthcoming book, Cornucopia of Crime, in which he analyzes the works of many popular 20th-century crime novelists, such as John D. MacDonald, Cleve Adams, and Erle Stanley Gardner.  (We all had quite a discussion about Perry Mason in its various incarnations.  This started when I opined that Hamilton Burger had to be, without question, the most incompetent attorney in American history.)  All the characters of the Perry Mason series grew and changed with the times, of course.  I always remembered Raymond Burr in the courtroom with “But, Mr. Phillips, if you were in San Diego that night, as you claimed, how could you have known…”

Steve headed home, and Mike back to the hotel for a PulpFest event.  I’ll probably see him in Cincinnati next spring at the radio convention.  He planned to head home to St. Louis early Sunday morning.  (Mike publishes under the name Francis M. Nevins, and has written several mystery novels, including Beneficiaries’ Requiem and Publish and Perish.  He is a retired professor of copyright law at St. Louis University.)

Mike Nevins and me, post-repast at Noodles Company.
Not sure why we look so solemn.
Through the miracle of Facebook, I was invited by a friend of a friend ad infinitum to a “Meet Our House” party on Medary Ave.  It was truly a wonderful occasion, christening the Judi Bari House (named in honor of the Earth First! activist who died in 1997).  No one there knew me by name, although when I introduced myself to one of the hosts, he recognized my post to the event’s Wall.  (I wrote: “Only in Clintonville can you have a calendar like this: 1. Pick up daughter at summer camp; 2. Have dinner with mystery novelist in town for PulpFest; 3. Go to radical activist house warming party in evening.”)  I walked into a crowded, but still comfortable living room, and everyone was drinking beer.  I felt a little presumptuous, but I went straight to the kitchen and filled up a cup with water, which was all I drank all night.  (I truly overdid it on the Diet Coke during my dinner with Mike Nevins, and had tried to walk some of it off between dinner and the party, so I wouldn’t be quite as wired.)

A lesson I never learned when I was in Athens was that booze isn’t what makes the party.  It’s the people, and I met quite a few people I hope will become friends, and not just in the loose form of the word that all the social networking sites use.  I spoke with different people–male and female–at different stages in jobs and education, many at the crossroads.  (One woman has a very circuitous journey planned for the next several months.  She plans to become a laborer at The Farm, the Tennessee intentional community, and from there to move into a squat in Brooklyn.)  The music consisted almost entirely of very unorthodox dance mixes and hybrids of disparate sound files.  I am not a dancer, so I remained on the porch or in the kitchen, where I could actually hear myself think.

I was home around 3 a.m.  Steph was sound asleep, but I was too wired to sleep.  I considered blogging, but I made a stab at writing in the holographic diary and finally fell asleep around dawn.  I had wanted to go to church, but when I woke up, I realized I wasn’t going to make it.

Now the work day looms before me, and I still want to write up the day’s events in the diary, especially since I’m down to the last seven pages in the composition book.