The Weekend–An Imminent Departure, New (Old) A/V Equipment, Riot Averted, and a Marvelous Spring Concert

What better time for a three-day weekend, especially when I’ll have two in a row?  Susie and I are going to be touring her new high school, The Graham School, at 11 a.m. Monday (this) morning, so I took the occasion to take the day off from work, and Susie will be taking the day off from school.  After her recent bullying incident, and her middle school’s unwillingness and/or ineffectiveness in dealing with it, I decided that The Graham School, with its much lower teacher-student ratio, and the fact that everyone in its student body seems to be an oddball in one way or another, would be a much better place for her than Whetstone High School.

Steph leaves for Florida, this time for good, on Friday morning.  She took another step toward making this happen on Saturday morning.  She already has her Greyhound ticket in hand, and on Saturday she shipped several boxes of clothing to Florida via UPS.  When I came home from a long overdue haircut and beard trim Friday, she was sitting in the living room with a Sharpie in her hand, addressing these boxes.

The thought that stayed in my mind was a poem by Mary Oliver.  I’ve heard it many times, but hadn’t given it much consideration until recently.  One night I jotted it in my pocket notebook, and I glance at it almost daily lately, much the way a 12-Stepper contemplates the Serenity Prayer.

The passage is from “In Blackwater Woods” and reads:

To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

I spent Saturday morning in Westerville with Steve and Kittie at the monthly Builders of the Adytum meeting at the Blendon Masonic Lodge.  After lunch, there was a longer meeting, but I walked to Cleveland Ave., so I could catch a 1 bus back into Columbus.  I happened by a yard sale, and the only item that interested me was a Symphonic combination VCR/DVD player/recorder, on sale for $5.  The Magnavox model that became mine when my mother died is about shot, so I was happy to buy this.  (Symphonic was the model of the first VCR I bought new.  I bought it at Golden Bear in 1988.  Golden Bear was Jack Nicklaus’ short-lived chain of electronic appliance stores.)

I bought the VCR/DVD by the Otterbein campus, and had to eat at Dairy Queen beforehand to break a $20 bill.  While eating there, I found the tray liner amusing.  They definitely need to change or update the tray liners.  It featured the Presidents of the United States, from George Washington to George W. Bush.  It was also printed before 2004, because there was no death date listed for Ronald Reagan.  (It made me think of a calendar hanging on the wall of a carryout in Marietta when I was in grade school.  The calendar featured pictures of all the Presidents–Washington to Nixon at the time.  Someone had taken a ballpoint pen and doodled a glowing halo above JFK’s head, and drawn a forelock and square mustache on Nixon.)

After the (former) owner and I walked to his apartment to get the remote control, I had a good workout, hiking from N. West St. to W. County Line Rd. to Cleveland Ave., so I could catch the 1 bus back to Columbus.  I was totally exhausted when I made it home.

During the night, I was curious about whether the planned block party on Chittenden Ave., ChittShow, would careen out of control.  The party was in the 100 block of Chittenden, about a 15-minute walk from my place. It was also a week after a block party on E. Woodruff Ave. that resulted in three arrests, many airborne beer bottles and cans, and police using tear gas and pepper spray.  I wanted to record images for posterity on Saturday night.

And when I got to Chittenden, yes there were partiers clogging the sidewalks and standing shoulder-to-shoulder on every porch and every lawn.  There were also many Columbus police officers, many on foot, some on horseback, making sure the street stayed clear.  I overheard many people complaining about why all the police presence, what made them think there’d be trouble?  (Search me.  Lots of alcohol, lots of people drinking it–many of them underage, all of them living in an area whose population density is comparable to Calcutta or Tokyo, of course they’ll all act like civilized human beings.)  People wandered from party to party, and many of them were sensible enough to travel in groups.  The yards were littered with plastic cups and beer cans before 11:30, but I didn’t see anyone throwing bottles.  (Of course, I went to O.U., where the parties make ChittShow look like a church picnic.)  When the clock struck 2, the crowds in the block began thinning out, although they did need some prodding from the police, but without the use of billy clubs or tear gas.

I’m glad there was no riot, but for the wrong reason.  Once I was in the thick of Chittenden Ave., I reached into my pants pocket for my cell phone, so I could use its camera if anything happened, and found I hadn’t brought the phone.  The bulge in my pocket was my microcassette recorder.  Despite all the beer available, and all the offers I declined, all I drank Saturday night was Sun Drop, which a woman in a parking lot was giving away free from a small cart.  (I had never had it before.  It’s a Dr. Pepper product, best described as a cross between 7-Up and Mountain Dew.)

Buckeye Real Estate, one of the major landlords on Chittenden Ave. decided to head off any trouble before it started.  They taped this notice on their tenants’ doors.  I took one with me to scan here into the blog.  It was the only one I could find that wasn’t totally wet or covered with footprints:

The combined choirs at church performed the Spring Concert, “Make Love, Not War” this evening.  Susie sang as part of Rising Voices.  The whole performance was fantastic, and I noticed a light rain was falling at the same time as the sun was starting to drop into the western sky.  I guess I would have seen a rainbow if I had gone outside, but I wanted to hear every single note of the concert.

To compensate for this entry, which I realize has strayed all over the map, I will share with you a video of the Rising Voices (Susie is visible on the risers, on the left) singing with the Spirit of Life choir (the 9:15 a.m. service choir) and the Chalice Choir (the 11 a.m. choir).  They’re singing “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” from Hair.

Entry C

This is the 100th entry in this blog since I jumped ship from LiveJournal.  (The C in the title is the Roman numeral for 100.)  It’s a momentous occasion, much like when I was a kid, watching the odometer roll over at 10 thousand miles and seeing all those zeros appear.  I’ve been at a loss as to how I can mark this event.

I would have posted this centennial entry sooner, except for the fact that my mood’s stability has not been reliable from one moment to the next.  I suspect that my desperate overuse of ibuprofen last week has wreaked havoc on my lithium balance, so my body is not properly processing the 600 mg I take daily.  I haven’t been in a constant state of depression (I always picture that as being like Joe Btfsplk, the Li’l Abner character who constantly dressed in black and had a dark rain cloud above him at all times), but when I’m in a good mood about something, I fall from it twice as far as usual.  (It’s analogous to using sugar as a stimulant.  Yes, it will make you feel more awake, but once it wears off, you feel twice as wiped out as you did previously.)

Over the weekend, my mood was all over the map, but some of the reasons were legitimate.  On Saturday afternoon, Susie and I went to the Northside library.  She left before I did so she could play at the Weinland Park playground, and we agreed to meet at “the dollar store” at 3:15, so she could buy Christmas wrapping paper and some presents for her friends.

Cutting right to the chase, our scheduled meeting didn’t happen.  I left the library on time, and hurried to Family Dollar, a few blocks south.  I waited around for a decent interval, and bought a Diet Coke, so it wouldn’t look like I’d been loitering, and made it a point to sprint home via Weinland Park.  No one was there, so I headed home, getting worried.

Susie came in about 15 minutes after I arrived.  The thought, “Thank God she’s all right, I’m gonna kill her!” passed through my mind, but I didn’t have time to worry about it.  Steve was on his way by soon to pick me up so we could go to the Qabalah Christmas celebration, something I was afraid I was going to cancel if Susie was still at large.  (As it turned out, Susie and I got our wires crossed because she was at Dollar Tree, just across the street from the library, and I was at Family Dollar, a short walk away.  We forgot there was more than one “dollar store” near the library.)

The celebration was a blessed way to wind down from the worry and frustration regarding my miscommunication with Susie.  It was a ceremony that quite lent itself to turning inward, centering, and decompressing, and I needed it at that moment.  I know very little about mysticism, and it’s nothing that can be explained while standing on one foot.  The service was a Builders of the Adytum ceremony (adytum is Latin for “holy of holies”).  (Before I reveal my lack of knowledge any further, I’ll refer you to the Wikipedia entry on Hermetic Qabalah.  If nothing else, remember this spelling during those Scrabble games when you have a lone Q sitting on your tray and there’s no open U anywhere on the board.)

Monday night, I was saddened, not depressed.  I came home from a meeting and opened my Facebook page, and there was a note from a classmate.  “Paul, you need to check Dan’s page.”  I did this, and found out that my friend Dan Bush, with whom I reconnected (thanks to Facebook) a year ago, died this week in Tennessee.  His sister posted this news on his page.

I have heard no further details since that time, and several scenarios and possibilities are going through my mind.  Dan and I re-established contact in 2009, and he called me several times in the week that I was recuperating from my gallbladder surgery in February.  Additionally, we had communicated by email, Skype, and IM, and he was a frequent follower of this blog.

Dan and I were both active in the Audio-Visual Club at Marietta High School.  I joined because of a fascination with magnetic tape recording, and I knew A-V was the place for me when I sneaked a look at Playboy and found myself mooning over the stereo equipment advertised more than the centerfolds.  We were front and center doing lights for school assemblies and plays, and in our sophomore year, Dan and I were immortalized as we were setting the lights (I was setting lights before I was setting type!) for a community theater production of Man of La Mancha.  This picture appeared in the yearbook, I suspect, because the idea of me on a scaffold was appealing to quite a few people when I was in high school.  The picture appeared in the 1979 edition of the Orion, MHS’ yearbook, and, in Dan’s honor, I’ll post it here.  The picture is flipped, because I never have worn my watch on my right wrist, as it is in this picture.  (Yes, that beardless beanpole in the checked shirt is me!)

Many thanks to Robin Lynn Pyatt
Bellamy (Class of ’80) for scanning this
photo from the yearbook and emailing
it to me.
Four days off from work are coming, for the next two consecutive weeks.  I’ve ranted about the 10 mandatory days off (“cost-saving days”) demanded by our current union contract; December 23 and 30 are two of them.  The Agency will also be closed Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, since Christmas and New Year’s Day are both on Saturday this year.  We’ll open presents on Christmas morning, and that night Steve is taking us to the third episode of Nite Owl Theater‘s return, where Fritz will be showing (what else?) Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.  (I remember when I was a teen my private way of celebrating Christmas, as I braced myself to pretend I could tolerate being with my family, was to watch the Pope’s midnight Mass from St. Peter’s in Rome.)
It’s just after 11 p.m., and I am making a trip to Kroger, since I’ve just realized we’re out of milk and eggs.  The walk isn’t a long one, and the temperature (per the Weather Channel icon at the bottom of my screen) is 30 degrees, so I won’t have to worry about getting too cold on the short trip.