NaNoWriMo – 30 –

Yet another National Novel-Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has come to an end, and both Susie and I (in Florida and Columbus, respectively) are trying to recover.

I am skeptical (at best) about the effectiveness of Twelve-Step programs, but the “one day at a time” concept does have its uses, and NaNoWriMo bears out its usefulness.  Every evening (mostly evenings, sometimes afternoons), I sat down and faced the laptop like it was some type of adversary.  When I logged onto Microsoft Office and pulled up my manuscript, I did it with an emotion akin to dread.

Trying to write a certain number of words per day (1667 per day is necessary to produce 50 thousand words in 30 days) is a lot like visiting a nudist colony: The first few minutes are the hardest.  I know that when I began typing, that magic number of 1667 seemed so far away.

But, as the session progressed, I usually was able to get into the activity, and when I saw I had made my quota for the night, I almost had a feeling of disappointment–“You mean I have to stop now?”  Of course, I didn’t, but I wanted material to fill the next night’s session, and not have to scramble.

The manuscript now sits on my hard drive and on my Microsoft SkyDrive.  I am following the advice of Stephen King, and I am letting the project “marinate” until after the first of the year.  NaNoWriMo is not ashamed to say that the goal is quantity, not quality, so I am sure I overran the manuscript with verbiage and asides that will have to go.  Some word-padding techniques can stay.  (For example, I did not use contractions, except in dialogue.)  Truthfully, I have no qualms about not touching it until January.  I am sure I am going to look back over it and wonder what the hell was I doing writing such-and-such?  (Susie has read excerpts of it, and so far I have received her seal of approval.)

Another thing her project and my project have in common is that they are both incomplete.  As you may recall, I decided to make NaNoWriMo the subject of this year’s manuscript.  Thus, I began with a brief prologue, and each chapter afterwards represented one day in the contest: “Day the First,” “Day the Second,” et cetera.  I stopped at Chapter V, “Day the Fifth,” so once this book comes out of lockdown, I have 25 more chapters to write.  Susie says she is two chapters away from those beautiful words THE END.  (I will end it, as a tribute to my former typesetting days, with – 30 -, which I have often thought should be my epitaph–my name, and underneath it, – 30 -, carved on my tombstone.)

I took a page from Jim Bishop when I used these chapter titles.  In his books The Day Lincoln Was Shot and The Day Christ Died, he broke down the book into hours–each chapter represented one hour of the day he covered.  In his one and only novel, Honeymoon Diary (I met him in 1979, and he said, “Oh, Jesus!” when I told him I had read it), the titles were “The First Day,” “The Second Day,” all the way up to “The Thirtieth Day.”

Sleep has been the biggest casualty of NaNoWriMo, although my sleep patterns have been erratic for years.  I can’t lay the blame solely at the feet of this contest.  I am constantly dozing off on buses, or anywhere that I lack new stimuli.  And, as before, I can doze off straight into REM sleep, which means falling asleep and straight into dreaming.  Unless I have specific plans, on weekends I do not set an alarm.  (Even on Sunday; if I am awake in time to catch the bus and go to church, I will; otherwise, I take it as a sign and I’m content to “worship in bed.”)  So, every weekday morning, there is this Dagwood Bumstead scramble to get out of bed, into the shower, dressed, and out the door in time to catch the bus in time.  But, these past few weekends, I am wide awake before dawn, unable to get back to sleep.  Yes, I’ll toss and turn a while, but it’s a losing battle to try to get back to sleep.  And this is after not retiring until 2 or 3 a.m.

I took it easy the rest of yesterday, after submitting my manuscript to http://www.nanowrimo.org, where their template verified that I had enough words.  Yesterday was the Ohio State-Michigan game, and I was thankful it was in Ann Arbor, since the presence of drunken idiots would have been even greater had the game taken place at the ‘Shoe.  So, I thought it prudent to stay indoors, where I watched some DVDs of Homicide: Life on the Street and read.  (I kept my computer use to a minimum, since I had enough of my keyboard to last me awhile.)

Thanksgiving and Hanukkah coincided for the first time since 1868, and this will not happen again until 2070 (Susie will probably be experiencing this).  The coincidence that Black Friday occurred on a sacred holiday did not deter the shoppers.  We here in Columbus did not experience the brawling, gunfire, and stabbings that some communities had.  I, for one, kinda sorta boycotted the whole thing.  I went to two record stores, Spoonful Records and Records Per Minute (RPM), and bought some albums there–I kept my money local, and supported friends of mine.  The haul was not overwhelming, since I didn’t buy any new material.  I stuck to the dollar bins, where I could find much of the music of my teen years.  (As if my weirdo credentials weren’t already well established by high school, my favorite groups in high school were The Alan Parsons Project and Seals and Crofts!)

“Buy nothing day” was so much easier in the years when I was usually stone broke.

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Blog is the Victim of NaNoWriMo

National Novel-Writing Month–the annual race to write a 50 thousand-word manuscript in 30 days–is what literate people do in November instead of following college football.  It is also what has consumed all of my writing strength and energy.  Not only have I neglected the blog, I also have not written in the holographic diary since very early this month.  After working like mad to get in x number of words per day, I am too exhausted to produce any other writing.

Susie is participating this year as well, and she is ahead of me in terms of word count.  I currently am at 28,894 words, or about 58% of the minimum I need to “win”, so I will be at the laptop keyboard any moment I can/should be between now and 11:59:59 p.m. on the 30th.  (The “prize” for winning NaNoWriMo is bragging rights, plus, I believe, a nice little icon to put on your Facebook page.)
So, I’m posting to the blog before I start tonight’s writing.  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so I can stay up as late as I want and sleep in during the morning.  Susie and I are having a quiet fête at home, which probably means eating off our laps and watching a DVD of The Social Network.  I have to produce about 2700 words daily between now and the end of NaNoWriMo to be able to “win.”
This is because I went entire days (never more than one at a time) without writing, and playing catch-up is a nightmare.  On the fifth of the month, I was in Cincinnati for a Marriage Equality rally on Fountain Square, which meant leaving Columbus at 8:30 in the morning and not getting home until nearly midnight.  (Susie was at a Coming of Age retreat with the church, so she was in the Hocking Hills all weekend; otherwise, she would have come to the Cincinnati rally with me.)  The following weekend, both Susie and I were in North Olmsted for a youth conference (I was a sponsor, she was one of the youth) at the Olmsted Unitarian Universalist Church.  I brought the laptop along, but there was just too much going on, including lots of kids going in many directions at a mile a minute, that I didn’t have the privacy or the concentration to get anything done.
For the first time with a writing project, I began keeping a work log with this NaNoWriMo manuscript.  At the union convention last August, OCSEA’s Office of General Counsel gave away neat little black spiral notebooks, and mine has sat on my desk, blank, until NaNoWriMo started.  Some days, I record more work information than others:
The first few days, I was keeping meticulous track of what music I listened to while I worked.  You probably have noticed that my working music is quite catholic, lower-case C, when I’m going to be at the keyboard for awhile.

Last night, I felt really cruddy after dinner, with no energy and feeling lightheaded.  So, I decided to go out and see if some fresh air would perk me up.  Susie was in the living room, busily working at her laptop, being a role model to me by writing, while I was outside.

I drifted over to Mirror Lake.  The Ohio State-Michigan game is Saturday at noon, and I have zero interest in it, since I have zero interest in football, and because I attended neither school.  On the Thursday before the OSU-Michigan game, the students at Ohio State jump into Mirror Lake, regardless of the temperature.  Channel 10 had predicted thunderstorms, and the Lantern, Ohio State’s student newspaper, thought that lightning would deter anyone would making the jump.

There was no lightning, but I knew that would not stop anyone.  I remember inviting myself to an after-hours party in the spring of 1986, after the bars on High St. (the bars themselves razed a long time ago) had closed for the night.  The party was in the courtyard of an apartment building near High and W. 10th (where the Taco Bell is now).  There was a hot tub in the courtyard, and there were about eight or nine people in it, even though the sky was very cloudy and at some point before dawn, there was thunder and lightning.

I came early to Mirror Lake.  I had no plans on diving in–I would not go in Mirror Lake if you paid me.  At its best, it smells like Roadside Rest pump water.  The bacilli that live in it, and all the rocks, broken glass and other trash that line the bottom, would not make me go in it at all.  (I remember during Comfest 2010 seeing some high school kids swimming in the pond at Goodale Park.  I had the same feeling, and thought someone should have a booth offering free tetanus and hepatitis shots.)

Maybe I was too early, but I didn’t see that many people there at 10 o’clock.  I have seen videos of previous jump-ins where kids were shoulder to shoulder in the Lake, but I don’t think I saw more than 20 or 30 people in at a time.  It was very popular to jump in groups of four, so you could stand in the Lake and do the O-H-I-O with your arms.  (O = Arms over your head with your hands joined together above your head.  H = Arms over your head, the palms held parallel.  I = Like O, except that your fingers form a point.)  What I found funny was how many people would swear up and down they had no intention of going in the water, and then would suddenly bolt in and do it, often holding hands with a friend as they jumped.  Two young women planned, I think, to swan dive into the Lake.  They had stripped down to bikini briefs and sports bras, scampered hand in hand to the lip of the water, and then decided to sit down and slide in, like they were entering a wading pool.  When they came out, their teeth were chattering and they were running like mad to put on their dry clothes.  (A lot of people who jumped in fully clothed didn’t have that option.  The temperature was in the mid-50s when I got there, but it dropped almost into the upper 40s by midnight.)

I never saw the allure of football, college or otherwise.  When I was younger, my dad took me to Saturday afternoon games of the Marietta College Pioneers at Don Drumm Stadium, but I was not very good at masking my boredom.  (I went on my own when I was older, but because it was free to me, since my dad was on the faculty.  Since it was free, I would take advantage.)  I went to a few Marietta Tigers games my sophomore year of high school, but paying to be bored was even sillier.

When Susie was first learning to read, I went to Abebooks‘ Website and ordered a copy of All Through the Year, the Harper and Row reading textbook I had in second grade.  I had always liked the book, and put off ordering it until I tired of reading the Berenstain Bears and Mr. Brown Can Moo!  Can You? repeatedly.  The only section of the book I disliked as a second-grader was called “Captain Sam,” and it was about one of the major characters’ hero worship of the high school football captain.  Besides the fact that I didn’t care about football, I remembered one scene that bothered me.  David, the boy who looks up to Captain Sam, will have his birthday the same day as the high school home team goes against their arch-rival.  (It’s apparently their version of OSU-Michigan, or Harvard-Yale.  In Cincinnati, the big high school sports rivalry seemed to be between two boys’ Catholic schools, Elder and Archbishop Moeller.)


In the story, David tells his parents that he doesn’t want a party or a birthday cake.  All he wants to do is go to the game.  His parents agree, but also add that he would not get any presents.  At the time, I thought that was a bit mean, and I still did when I read the story to Susie–knowing a story about football would put her to sleep with little difficulty.  I came around a little when I saw that David’s parents paid for all his friends to go to the game, plus paying for their hot dogs and soda pop, I suppose, which does demand a significant outlay of money.


Football and writing in the same blog entry…  I am as surprised as you are, folks.  I first heard about NaNoWriMo when we were still living in Franklinton.  I was at the library, using the computers there because we didn’t have any Internet at home, and I overheard one of the kids that worked behind the counter tell one of his co-workers that he knew a woman who entered this contest every year.  I Googled “novel writing in one month” and that was what led me to NaNoWriMo’s home page.  It was mid-October by then, so I didn’t have long to prepare for the project.


I usually have tanked by now.  In 2008, I didn’t even make the effort, since my mother had died on October 30, and I was preoccupied with her memorial service and cleaning out her apartment in Athens.  Today is the 23rd of November, and I’m farther along than I ever have been before, but I am not going to get cocky.  I guess it’s good that this guy never attempted NaNoWriMo.  It sounds like he won it on a weekly basis.


I am multitasking while I write this.  Susie and I are having a little pre-Thanksgiving meal tonight, so I am upstairs with the computer, typing away, and trying to keep track of the turkey and potatoes I have in the oven in the kitchen.  Unless the next entry describes a house fire, you can safely assume that we had an edible meal tonight.

My very amateurish footage of the beginning of the Mirror Lake OSU-Michigan jump-in last night.  One of the funniest moments I captured was a guy berating his friend for losing his lab goggles in the Lake, and insisting that he submerge himself to locate them.

I’d Walk a Mile…

Ever since I was a young teenager, I’ve wondered why “walking a mile” is supposed to represent walking a long distance.  I remember hearing about the slogan Camel used for decades to advertise its cigarettes, “I’d walk a mile for a Camel!”  And yet, 5280 feet (1.609 km) is not that far a distance to walk, really.  (It probably is a long, long way to run, especially for someone like me, who has never run long distances.  I don’t run because I don’t have the stamina.  Why don’t I have the stamina?  Because I don’t run.)

This subject comes to mind because the Owl flies tonight, which means I’m going to be pounding pavement in a little over an hour.  Tonight is the second return of Nite Owl Theater, and tonight Fritz the Nite Owl will be hosting Plan Nine from Outer Space, long considered the worst movie ever made.  The Grandview Theater is just over three miles from my house in Weinland Park, a straight westerly walk up W. 5th Ave.  Ordinarily, I wouldn’t walk three miles in 27-degree weather to see that thing–I used to have a VHS copy of it, but erased it to record cartoons for Susie when she was a toddler.  But Fritz is hosting it, and that’s reason enough.  (Susie’s introduction to the legendary Mr. Peerenboom will be on Christmas night, when the show will be–surprise, surprise!–Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.)

At least three of the items on my “bucket list” (a wish list of things I want to do before I “kick the bucket”) involve walking.  The three big walks I want to make in my lifetime are these:

  • John Wilkes Booth’s escape route.  It would start at the back door of Ford’s Theater in Washington and wind its way through Maryland and Virginia before ending in Port Royal, Va., where Booth was captured and was shot by a demented Union soldier, a born-again Christian and self-castrated eunuch named Boston Corbett.  It would also include pit stops at the Surratt family tavern in Clinton (then called Surrattsville) and Dr. Mudd’s farmhouse in Bryantown.
  • The National Road.  This inspiration came to me while I was living in Franklinton (“capital of West Virginia”) from 2002 until 2009.  The main drag through Franklinton is W. Broad St.  In fact, Broad St. is the major east-west thoroughfare in Columbus.  It is part of U.S. 40, which is the old National Road, beginning in Cumberland, Md. and terminating at the Kaskaskia River in Galesburg, Ill.  Much of it would be familiar terrain for me, since I went back and forth on W. Broad St. daily when I worked at Medco Health on Phillipi Rd.  In Wheeling, my dad’s hometown, the street is called “National Rd.”, and part of its route includes going over the Wheeling Suspension Bridge.  (I don’t remember if I’ve ever crossed the Wheeling Suspension Bridge, but my dad said it swayed so much that during a circus parade to Wheeling Island, one of the elephants was so petrified its handlers had to blindfold it and lead it across.  Sobering, especially if you’ve ever seen the footage of the 1940 collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington State.)
  • The Pony Express route.  This would be from St. Joseph, Mo. to Sacramento, Calif. (known fondly to my friends in the Bay Area as “Excremento”).  Even though emails and text messaging are legion, I still love the feel of writing (or tape-recording) letters and cards and then dropping them in the blue mailboxes (when I can find them).  The only reason I never signed up to be a carrier during my stint at the main post office in Cincinnati was because carriers had to have driver’s licenses–I would have been happy to take my mail on the bus and deliver it that way, but that wasn’t permitted.  And mail call–although increasingly disappointing–is still my favorite part of the day.  (Amazon.com gave me a $1 subscription to Rolling Stone for recently buying a DVD, and my first issue arrived yesterday.  Two previous issues were in the mail today.)  So, walking the Pony Express route–all 1680 miles of it–would be a good way to combine my love of mail and my love of walking.  Ads for Pony Express riders targeted “young, skinny, wiry fellows not over eighteen”, with the added notice “Orphans preferred.”  My walking the distance of the Pony Express route (Fort Collins, Provo, Salt Lake City) would be proof that you don’t need to be young, skinny, or wiry.  I was when I was a teen (“not over eighteen”), but I am an orphan now, so I meet one of the qualifications.

I keep reminding myself I need to be on my guard tonight.  The Ohio State Buckeyes were victorious over the University of Michigan Wolverines today (as they have been annually since 2004), 37-7.  The game was here in Columbus, so I am sure that there will be places along W. 5th Ave. where I will be running a gauntlet of drunken yahoos who are celebrating the victory aided by sustenance they’re carrying around in brown paper bags.  I am thankful that the old Roxy Theatre on N. High St. (just north of Lane Ave.) is no more.  If it still existed, I’m sure that’s where Fritz would be hosting this program tonight, and trying to get through High St. when the streets and sidewalks are clogged by inebriated football fans would truly be a hellish experience.  So, I’m glad to be making the trek to Grandview, west of where all the insanity is occurring.

My Prophecy Was Not Fulfilled

The victory celebrations around the OSU campus after the Buckeyes’ victory over the Miami Hurricanes produced the usual drunken hooligans, but did not erupt into car-flipping, Dumpster fires, and couch-burning, as I had predicted and feared.  Saturday afternoon, after Susie was finished at Hot Times in Olde Towne East, I made a trek all the way to Upper Arlington to return some electronics at MicroCenter, and then went to Kafé Kerouac.  (I’m proud to say I was rather productive there–wrote my first poem in God knows how long and also completed a 2½-page diary entry, all of it in longhand.)

The poem had been percolating for some time, and I felt confident enough that I went to College Town while the game was in progress and bought a Roaring Spring single-subject notebook specifically for the purpose.  The finished product was almost three pages long.  I need to type it up, and then decide what lucky publication will get first crack at it.  I’m arrogant enough to be considering either The New Republic or The New Yorker.  I celebrated this productivity by buying (for $5!) a hardcover copy of I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg, by Bill Morgan, which I had not read previously.

Steve had borrowed my Kodak EasyShare camera, so I had to reacquaint myself with the other Ph.D. camera in the house, Susie’s Digital Blue camera, when I wanted to take pictures of the girls performing at the Hot Times Festival.  (Hot Times is 100% volunteer-run.  Some people describe it as a mini-Comfest, and that’s a valid comparison, but if it’s like Comfest, it’s minus the topless women, public urination, and pot-smoking.)  Susie and friends performed at high noon, so she and I had to be there at 11 a.m. for check-in and warm-up.

This meant we were there as the food vendors were setting up.  I bought her a hot dog after she left the stage, and I’m sure I made her want the earth to swallow her up when the man gave us the hot dogs.  He said, “Condiments are right there,” pointing to the ketchup, mustard, pickle relish, and mayonnaise in front of us.  I declined saying, “I don’t use condiments, I’ve had a vasectomy.”  (I recycled a line I’ve used when a co-worker who moonlighted as a Realtor tried to evangelize me about “why [I] need to buy a condo.”)

Suzie Simpson, the director of Girlz Rhythm and Rock Camp, was grateful to the girls who came, since quite a few seemed to be laid up by seasonal allergies and autumn viruses.  I felt badly for Susie because she composed a song at camp she wanted to perform yesterday, but her guitarist/accompanist was one of the ones who was sidelined by the bug.  (I’ve been sneezing so hard I thought I had broken my nose, so I have sympathy for the girls who weren’t there.)  As it turned out, Susie had to sing a non-original song a Capella to fill out The Moonlight Band’s gig, holding an MP3 player to her ear for accompaniment.  (When I lived in Boston, a trumpeter frequently played on the subway platforms.  At his feet was a boom box–then known politically incorrectly as “ghetto blasters”–the size of an attaché case–labeled The Band in big letters.)

Susie and her portable accompanist.

This is as good a time as any to mention that Girlz’ Rhythm and Rock Camp can always use donations and support.  Pearl Jam contributed $14 thousand several years ago, which helped with buying instruments, equipment, and electronics, but they will always welcome a tax-deductible contribution.  To that end, immediately after the show ended, Susie took the jar and went to work in the crowd.  We heard both the clink of coins and the ruffle of dollar bills.
Wouldn’t you be quick to open your wallet and 
checkbook to someone with this sunny a countenance
when she comes to solicit funds (fundz?) for girls to
go to camp?

I roamed High St. for much of the evening after leaving the sanctuary of Kafé Kerouac.  My motives were not pure.  If honest-to-God rioting broke out, I was going to take a few dozen pictures and let my blog’s readership be the first to see the action in all its glory.  (I take after my maternal grandfather, Charles Lester McKee, in that respect.  In September 1925, he was home in Caldwell, Ohio and saw the crash of the USS Shenandoah (ZR-1), the Navy’s first rigid airship, in a squall line, which tore the ship to pieces and killed its commanding officer and 13 of its crew.  My grandfather, aged 30, saw that the ship was about to tear apart and crash, so, being the Christian and Good Samaritan he was, what did he do?  He ran home and got his camera.  By the time he came back, there was debris scattered everywhere and people were tearing off scraps of the hull fabric as souvenirs.  I’ve watched eBay for hull fabric on sale for a year now, so far in vain.)
The worst thing I saw all night was a guy leading three or four boys, the oldest of whom was maybe 12, selling candy bars for Buckeye Youth Basketball.  They had boxes of the fundraising Anthony-Thomas candy bars, and they were out there around 9:30 p.m. amidst all the drunkenness, open containers, airborne bottles, and sidewalk vomiting.  Kids shouldn’t be out selling at that hour on the most tranquil of nights, and this definitely was not one of them.
I only snapped two pictures of the crowd, neither of which came out very well.  The flash on the camera illuminates a radius of millimeters, so after dark, you capture more silhouettes than people.  I took a picture of the interior of The Sloppy Donkey, a bar that occupies the site of the former Larry’s Bar, where OSU dropout Phil Ochs (“Draft-Dodger Rag,” “I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore,” and “Outside a Small Circle of Friends”) had his professional debut.  Larry’s, the only bar which offered classical music in its jukebox, is now a sports bar.  (As a loyal Democrat, the name offends me.)
Post-game interior of The Sloppy Donkey.  May Phil
Ochs’ unhappy ghost haunt them night and day.

I was intrigued by the restroom at Kafé Kerouac.  Its walls are decorated, floor to ceiling, in items found between pages of books returned to the OSU Library over the years–letters, court orders, photographs, notes, scratch pad pages, postcards.  I could stay in there for hours and read them.
Some samples of the pictures displayed in the Kafé Kerouac restroom.  This holds my attention much more than “For a good time, call…” 

No Calm Before the Hurricane

My only long walk today was down High St. tonight, since I needed something from CVS.  The one near us closes at 10 p.m., and it was past 10 when I stepped out the door.  So, I headed to the one at Lane and High, just a little over a mile south.  I had a dim recollection that Ohio State would be playing the Miami Hurricanes tomorrow, but Saturday is so jam-packed with activity for me that even if I was a football fan, I wouldn’t have time to watch the game or go down to the ‘Shoe to watch it.

So, walking down High St., it was impossible to go a city block without passing porches loaded (and overloaded) with people, all of them drinking and cheering, with endless renditions of “Hang On, Sloopy!” and “O-H!”  “I-O!”  The game doesn’t even start until 3:40 p.m., and yet everyone is out on their lawns, porches, and the streets, and the drunken enthusiasm has begun.

The open containers of alcohol have been blatant tonight.  On my way home from CVS, I counted no less than a dozen people leaving private residences or their cars carrying open bottles and cans of beer.  The irony is that I worried about getting a police officer’s attention when I left CVS with an open bottle of Diet Pepsi!

Errands will take me far from the campus area for most of the day.  I am thankful for this, since I wonder if the enthusiasm of a crowd which is stoked already, when kickoff is still 14 hours away, can be dialed down once the game is over.  The outcome of the game really has no bearing on what a crowd–especially one fueled by alcohol and fan adrenaline–will do.  At OSU, people will riot as a way of celebrating victory, as happened in 2002 when the Buckeyes defeated Michigan (see below picture).  In 2002, one of Jay Leno’s Tonight Show monologues said that the first duty of the then-new Department of Homeland Security was “to protect Americans against Ohio State football fans.”  (Seeing Homeland Security’s stellar success at capturing and killing Osama bin Laden, as a Columbus resident I am thankful Leno was only kidding.  Bin Laden would have to text-message his GPS coordinates to Homeland Security before they’d even be remotely capable of capturing him.)

Aftermath of the OSU-Michigan game of 2002,
downloaded from http://www.dipity.com.

People are just as likely to take to the streets out of frustration when Ohio State loses a game.  This is impossible to predict, and I’m not predicting that the partying I saw tonight will lead to a disaster tomorrow evening.  In fact, the overall atmosphere (I shudder away from the word vibe–it’s a cliché I should avoid like the plague (get it?)) of the street seemed to be festive and fun, more like the Undie Run Scott and I happened into last spring.

That hasn’t always been true.  When I first lived in Columbus, in 1985-1986, there were many nights when I would be prowling the bars on High St. (many of which have long ago been razed) and would have a feeling that the street just seemed ugly.  There was a hostility and bad feeling that seemed to be in the air, almost like static electricity, and as much a part of the air as the carbon dioxide.  I didn’t feel that it was directed at me personally, but it was on those nights that I would still get drunk, and prowl in vain for a one-night sexual encounter, yet I would be doing it with my guard up, or as on alert as you can be when you’re getting hammered.  Those would be the nights I’d take a cab home instead of walk, or would go straight home after the bars closed, instead of trying to find an after-hours party.  My wariness paid off.  I didn’t pick up The Dispatch the next morning and find out that I had just escaped a full-scale riot, but at no time was I beaten, mugged, or pickpocketed.  I often think that maybe I was such a careless–if not outright sloppy–dresser that many a would-be thief thought I was too broke to be worth rolling.
In my entire drinking career, I was never cited for open container, because usually I was pretty conscientious about not carrying open containers of alcohol in public.  The closest I came was my last quarter or two at Ohio University, when the school began to crack down about where alcohol could and could not be consumed.  In the dorms, you were permitted to drink and serve alcohol in your room, but it was forbidden in any of the public areas.
An R.A. almost cited me for this once.  I was propped on my bed late one fall weekend afternoon, reading and drinking a beer, when I thought I heard someone knocking on my door.  (I lived on New South Green, in a single room.)  I had called out “Come in!” but no one turned my doorknob.  A little frustrated, I got up, opened my door, and went out into the hall.  It wasn’t until I saw my R.A. staring me down that I realized I had carried the beer can out with me.  She let me by with a warning, but I realized I should have taken the nanosecond necessary to set the beer down on my desk before I stepped from the sanctuary of my room.
Many people groaned about this new policy, but we all knew the alternative was a dry campus.  (The president of O.U. would have been lynched if that had ever become law, I’m sure.)  Even if I had been a teetotaler at the time, I would have thought this ridiculous.  It made no sense that the powers that be were proposing that it was okay for you to go up to Court St. and get blasted, and then stumble back down to your dorm and vomit in the hall or (as happened in my residence hall more than once) in the shower, but sharing a 12-pack with your legal-to-drink friends while watching videos in your room would be verboten.

I’m probably worrying for nothing.  I doubt many of the people I saw tonight will be sober by game time, and if they are, they will be hungover and in no condition to continue.  As for me, I have something to do that will consume most of my morning.  At noon, Susie and her friends from Girlz Rhythm and Rock Camp are performing at the Hot Times Community Arts and Music Festival in Olde Towne East.  She and the others will be on the grounds of the Columbus Health Department (formerly the Ohio School for the Blind), and I’ll be on hand for the performance.  I give you fair warning I’ll be posting pictures of this in the blog later this weekend.
Where you’ll find Susie and friends come high noon,
240 Parsons Ave. (corner Parsons and Main.)
Unfortunately, I will be missing the “Burn No Sacred Books” Day service at church, a service that will both honor the memory of the people who died on 9/11 in 2001 in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, and counteract the lunacy of Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida and his plans to mark the anniversary of this tragedy by burning copies of the Koran.
The third event I am sorry I will miss is God’s Family Reunion, in the parking lot and property of Faith Believers’ Ministry in Mineral, home of the Feed My Sheep pantry that I visit with Jacques on those rare Mondays when I am not working.  I have known about this since spring, and was planning to take Susie to it, but her services are needed at Hot Times.