Planes and Backyard Movies–All Under the Harvest Moon

Every day I’m happier about Susie’s and my move to Old North.  The cleanliness, pride, and simple respect the neighbors have makes it infinitely preferable to Weinland Park, but the friendliness has made me feel even better.

After Susie came home from Youth Group yesterday afternoon, she and I were walking to the bus stop, so we could go shopping at Kroger.  There were about five people standing on the sidewalk as we went by.  I recognized one of the men as someone who often rides the 4 bus to and from downtown with me every morning.  (He’s in the minority on these particular schedules, since he works neither for the State of Ohio nor Nationwide Insurance.)  They invited Susie and me to a backyard movie at 8 p.m.  Without even asking what they were showing, I accepted.

The movie was El Mariachi, which I had never seen (neither had Susie).  Our hosts, Jeremy and Deborah, made us feel welcome right away.  The temperature was in the mid-60s, and I was perfectly comfortable, since I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, but Susie was wearing a T-shirt and was about to head back to the house to get a blanket, but Deborah very quickly produced one, so Susie was all set.

Fortunately, Jeremy put on the English captions.  My knowledge of Spanish is confined to counting to 20, and I only know this from years of Sesame Street.  Susie is taking a Spanish class at The Graham School, and she mastered counting to five, thanks to Dora the Explorer.  Jeremy and Deborah hung a bed sheet across the back wall of the garage for a screen, and put brick-sized speakers at either end of the row of chairs.  (There were six of us there altogether.)

Airplanes seem to fly over every four or five minutes throughout the movie.  (And El Mariachi is not a long movie–it’s less than 90 minutes.)  Sometimes the planes flew so low their navigation lights cast shadows on the ground.  None of us had ever seen that many commercial planes flying over the neighborhood with so little time between them.  (When I lived in Franklinton and Weinland Park, police helicopters, along with their mega-candlepower searchlights flashing around the neighborhood, were so common that we paid little attention to them.)  Last night, we only saw one helicopter, which was flying at high speed, and which I suspect was on its way to Riverside Methodist Hospital.  All of the planes were eastbound, so I suspect we’re in Port Columbus’ flight path.

The moon is not officially full until tomorrow night, and it is the harvest moon.  The Wikipedia says that October 11 is the latest that the harvest moon can be.  (The harvest moon is the first full moon after the start of the autumnal equinox.)  The moon was very bright last night, and there were white ringlets of clouds in the night sky almost directly above the yard.  The movie, the moon, and the company made the evening a very pleasant one.

The movie Susie and I saw last night in our neighbor’s back yard.

Susie and Rising Voices sang “Night Winds” at the 9:15 service yesterday morning, so we had to be at church early.  (I almost always go to the 11 a.m. service, and rarely am out of bed before 8:45 Sundays.)  We left just before 8, because Rising Voices’ director wanted to have a small rehearsal on the risers, and wanted all hands on deck by 8:45.

I was glad I went to the early service.  Susie and the kids sang quite well.  I shot the first non-test video with my new Kodak Easy Share C143 (my DXG camera gave up the ghost this summer, so I replaced it, going back to the model which worked the best for me) when they sang.  Below is the video I made:


There was a Peanuts cartoon where Charlie Brown stalks into the panel fit to be tied.  He had gone to the store to buy a Hallowe’en mask, and the store didn’t have any.  One of his friends asked if they were going to order more.  Furiously, Charlie Brown said no, they weren’t.  “They were too busy putting up Christmas decorations!”  This afternoon, I received a Facebook invitation to the church’s annual winter concert, which will be December 18 at 4 p.m.  (Mark your calendars now, folks!)  I will be front and center, since Susie will be performing.  I’ll be missing her for Christmas, since on the 21st, she’ll be flying to Florida to spend Christmas and New Year’s with Steph.  Susie will be headed to Orlando on the last day of school (she’ll be leaving school a little early that day), and will be flying back the day before Winterim begins at Graham, January 3.  (Steph forwarded me Susie’s Southwest Airlines itinerary the other day.)

I wasn’t the dynamo I planned to be today when it came to getting this place completely ready.  I had vague memories of hearing Susie getting ready for school–getting dressed, fixing her lunch, shutting the front door, etc.–but it wasn’t until almost 11 a.m. when I hauled myself out of bed.  I bought some kitchen and cleaning supplies at Dollar General, and managed to set up my Crosley phonograph, but there is still a scatter of boxes in the living room.  And I confess I wasn’t all that organized when it comes to list-making. I don’t realize we don’t have something until the need arises.  I took some lasagna out of the oven tonight and then saw the only knives we had were butter knives, so I put the lasagna on top of the oven to cool and then dashed around to the corner market and bought a cheap set of steak knives so I could cut the lasagna.




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The Night We Called It a Day

I’ve done enough organizing and tidying up around my worktable that I can get to my turntable without obstruction for the first time in weeks.  I celebrated this event by putting on a Dave Brubeck Quartet LP from the mid-1960s, Angel Eyes.  One of the songs on this album is “The Night We Called It a Day.”  It’s not my favorite song on this particular album (that would have to be “Diamonds for Your Furs”), but it is truly appropriate to my current life situation.

(Even now, by the way, I’m still on a vinyl Brubeck jag.  Currently spinning is Anything Goes!  The Dave Brubeck Quartet Plays Cole Porter, and I’m listening to “Love for Sale” as I type.)

Steph is now in Florida, on the eve of beginning a new job, and already beginning a new life.  Susie and I saw her off at the Greyhound station downtown early Friday morning, and she left at 7:30 a.m. for a 26-hour bus ride to Titusville, via Cincinnati, Nashville, Atlanta, and Orlando.  Since Susie had to be at school to audition for a speech, we didn’t stay with Steph until she boarded, but left her as the line was moving toward the gate and onto the bus.  This was the point where the driver was announcing “Tickets out of the envelopes, please!”  (Steph had ordered her tickets online beforehand, and they had arrived in the mail earlier in the month.)  Steph teared up hugging Susie goodbye, and I gave Steph a very cursory farewell hug, and went out with Susie to East Main Street so she could catch her bus to school and I could head home.

(I had planned to just arrive late for work, in the interests of returning to normal as soon as possible after Steph’s departure for Florida.  However, earlier in the week Human Resources sent me an email saying that I had one cost-savings day left, and it had to be used very soon.  Not remembering it was the day Steph was leaving, I asked for May 27, more because it would make my Memorial Day weekend longer.)

Susie and I are bearing up quite well.  Despite this entry’s title, there was no night (or day) Steph and I decided to stop being together.  It’s been a gradual process, and even going through nearly 16 years of memories (my own memory supplemented, of course, by reams of diaries and shoe boxes full of breast-pocket notebooks), I can’t pinpoint one point where it started to go bad.  So in the end, there is little sadness on my part.  There is, instead, much relief.  I feel that the limbo has lifted, and the way is clear for me to look at the next phase of my life.  And last Friday is as much of a milestone in my own history as 1066, 1492, 1215, 1776, and 9/11 are in world history.

The record has now gone to “What is This Thing Called Love,” and the best answer I can give right now comes from the computer in WarGames (1983) describing thermonuclear war: “A strange game.  The only winning move is not to play.”  This is not universal, by the way.  It’s just the way I think I have to live in order to preserve my own sanity.

I was proud of Susie Friday night, when she performed in the Cabaret Night at Dominion Middle School.  The attendance was sparse, and many of the kids scheduled to appear were no-shows, but Susie and her friends were on hand to perform two brief skits from The Wizard of Oz.  Susie played the Wicked Witch of the West in one scene, and the Scarecrow in another.  (There may have been better attendance if it hadn’t been Memorial Day weekend and if the baseball team wasn’t away at a championship game.)  Several of the acts listed in the program didn’t happen, because cast members were absent, and the drama teacher, Emily Foster, had to fill in for some of the roles, but I was proud that Susie was front and center.  Despite the fact that she said goodbye to her mother 12 hours earlier, and that she may not see her mother again for weeks, or maybe months, she gave her all once she was onstage.  That makes the no-shows’ excuses rather lame, methinks.

Dominion Middle School, where Susie will be a student until the end of this week.

Saturday night, Susie and I walked the three miles to Grandview for the monthly Return of Nite Owl Theater. The movie last night was Dementia 13, the first commercially successful film of Francis Ford Coppola.  Susie thought she’d doze off during it, especially after the long walk, but she was riveted to her seat.  I even found myself warming up to the latest installment of Aidan 5 (a detective, circa 2070, tries to solve the mass murder of his clones), which had left me a little cold when I had seen it in March before Carnival of Souls.  I dismissed it then as a cheap Sin City wannabe, but now I want to go to the site and watch the episodes from the beginning.

First Unitarian Universalist Church went to one service per Sunday as of this morning, and Susie and I marked the event by sleeping late.  (Smaller UU churches shut down for the entire summer.  The stock answer when non-Unitarians ask about this is, “What other denomination could God trust out of His sight for an entire summer?”)  We went to the Really, Really Free Market in the afternoon, and the pickings were slim this month–there is no way to predict it.  I knew, however, that Susie would not go away empty-handed.  Next door to the Sporeprint Infoshop is the Third Hand Bicycle Cooperative, and last week a generous soul donated eight or 10 children’s bicycles.  Most of them were for kids of kindergarten age and a little older.  My friend Randall told me this last Monday, and he set aside a 15-speed Huffy Mont Clare for Susie–the only one that might have been big enough for her.  Between Monday night and Sunday afternoon, he filled the front tire and adjusted the handlebars and the saddle, and now Susie has a bike.  She has had limited success in learning to ride them in the past, so I’m worried that it may gather dust, but I’m hoping to encourage her to take it to Weinland Park this summer and give it a whirl.  (It’s in our dining room right now, because we don’t have a bike chain and lock.  Even with one, I’m not sure if keeping it outdoors is a good idea.  I can see someone in this neighborhood owning the tools to snap a thick U-lock in half like a twig, and Susie had a bike stolen when we lived in Franklinton and kept it out front.)

Susie and I went to an excellent Memorial Day cookout in Clintonville, at the home of our friends Steve and Kittie.  The undisputed star of the show was their granddaughter, who will turn a year old in July.  I picked up the little girl, and she did the exact thing Susie did when she was an infant: she made a grab for my glasses, which instantly skittered to the deck.  I had completely forgotten how fascinated babies are by glasses, and how they’ll make a grab for them when given the chance.  (Susie also loved tugging at my beard, or pulling things out of my breast pocket, when she was a baby and I was holding her.  It made me very briefly consider shaving off my beard until she was older–and this from a guy who considers it a deal-breaker if a romantic partner asked me to get rid of my beard!)

Since I was (am) so proud of Susie for stepping up to the plate and performing so well on such an emotional day, I am posting this video from Friday night’s Cabaret at Dominion.  (Susie is in the blue T-shirt, portraying the Wicked Witch of the West–riding a push broom!–and the Scarecrow.)

Bachelor Father’s Diary

Steph left for Florida Tuesday night to see some old and new friends, so between working (both my “real world” job with the State of Ohio and my part-time bookstore job) and being with Susie, my idea of leisure time has been sleep.  It’s not that I don’t love my readers, it’s just that I’ve been so exhausted that the end result of any session at the keyboard would not have resembled English.

Today begins my last week at the bookstore.  (I must be good at what I do, because twice my supervisor has emailed me and asked me to stay longer.)  I am eager for the 13-hour days to end, but a look at my finances made me realize I’d be crazy to turn this down.  Today was the one Sunday per quarter the bookstore was open (albeit for only four hours), and every time a cart full of returns and buybacks materialized, yours truly was in and out of the stacks, shelving them.

Susie and her drama class went to see a matinée performance of West Side Story at Eastmoor Academy last week, which was a welcome break from the regular school day.  When I came home from work, Susie left a stellar report card on my keyboard for me to sign.  (The keyboard is the only place where you can leave something and be sure I’ll find it.  The rest of this desk makes me look like I’m auditioning for Hoarders.)

Tonight I served lasagna for dinner, and put my culinary skills to work.  Preheat the oven to 375º, put the lasagna in, set the timer for 45 minutes.  I’ve downloaded the recipe for tuna casserole, and that may be dinner tomorrow night.  Quite a filling meal, and none of its ingredients are that expensive.

Never saw the show, but the title card is appropriate
for describing my life since Tuesday night.

Susie and I went to the First Friday potluck at church on–when else?–Friday evening.  We were invited to a soccer game at Crew Stadium (against FC Dallas), but declined.  I am not a sports fan, and neither is Susie, plus we were under-dressed.  By the time the game ended, the temperature would have been in the 30s.  Susie was already starting to nod off as we were on the bus headed to church, and I wasn’t surprised when she headed straight to bed once we came home, save for a cursory glance at her email.

Pat took me to lunch at the Saigon Palace Friday afternoon, and the sesame chicken meal was filling enough that I debated not eating anything at First Friday.

Susie’s godmother Cynthia took her to Cirque de la Symphonie last night at the Ohio Theater.  I ate dinner at the McDonald’s on campus, and was so wiped out that I considered taking the bus the 1.3 miles.  But I didn’t.  I hoofed it the entire way, and even made the trip a little longer by using side streets and back alleys, instead of going all the way to High St. and walking north.  (I know how contradictory it sounds–walk a mile to eat fast food.  It’s like running a marathon where the prize is a carton of cigarettes.)  I nursed a few Diet Cokes, read a chapter of Secrets Can Be Murder, and wrote in my diary, and made sure I was home before Cynthia and Susie returned.

Next Saturday will be my last bookselling day, until spring quarter winds down at the beginning of June.  I have accounts at SnagAJob.com and other job-search sites, looking for part-time work, but I’m not sure just how much my heart is really in it.  I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I’m enjoying the bookstore job.  As I apply for part-time jobs, my attitude resembles a line I read in an old “Family Circus” cartoon.  The friend of one of the boys in the comic says, “Go ask your mom if we can play on the roof!”  The little boy reluctantly walks toward the house, saying, “Okay, but I hope she says no.”

I switched my Facebook status to “single” just before Steph departed for Florida.  We are still married in the eyes of the law, but we are, at best, roommates right now.  We posted a joint letter last fall about our intention to divorce, both as a Google document and as a Note on Facebook, but I could tell that not everyone had seen it.  A co-worker of mine, who is also a Facebook friend, asked me about my new status when she saw me at work the other day.  I knew that she did not know about our divorce plans–she hadn’t read the letter.  I could tell because it wasn’t common knowledge around the agency within minutes.  (In 1948, Tex Williams recorded the song “Don’t Telephone, Don’t Telegraph, Tell a Woman”, saying this was the fastest way to spread news.  Dated but true.)

Exile on High Street

Steph’s Saturday calendar was packed to the rim today (even more so than usual), and so, though she didn’t specifically order it, I’ve made myself scarce today.  I’m blogging at the Whetstone Library, one of the many stops I’ve made on High Street this afternoon.  I’ve been a regular on the 2 bus today.

Steph taught some voice and piano lessons this morning, and when I left, a double rehearsal for her a Capella women’s group, The MadriGals, had just started.  I slinked (slunk?) slowly and unmissed from the house, headed to Cartridge World to exchange ink cartridges for my Hewlett-Packard DeskJet printer/scanner.  (I’m too stingy to break down and buy a laser printer.)

There was rain last night and some this morning, so all of Columbus has a mildewy smell about it.  I seem to have outgrown most of the environmental allergies that plagued me as a kid, otherwise my eyes and nose would be running, and aforementioned eyes would be bloodshot right now.

I finally did buy the notebook I was seeking on Thursday, before my friend Scott and I found ourselves in the midst of the OSU AXE Undie Run.  (I’m still old enough to remember when having your underwear showing was the ultimate humiliation.  At the Ohio-Meadville Youth Con last weekend, I came to the conclusion that exposed bra straps are now a fashion statement of some kind.)  I bought a blue Mead 3″ x 5″ notepad, and christened it last night by making notes for a short story.  I haven’t typed a word of the story itself, but I think I know what I want to do with it.

I turned around and headed north here to Whetstone, mainly to return interlibrary loan books.  If they’re overdue, the fines can be prohibitively expensive.  I also picked up a Book on CD, Haiku, the most recent Andrew Vachss novel.  (I was a bit leery, since he’s permanently retired the Burke series, but what little I read of this book in print sounds fantastic.)

I’m not sure where Susie is.  She was in her bedroom with the door closed when I left.  I doubt I could have interested her in a trip to Cartridge World, so I didn’t bother to knock.  I had company on the errand; I’ve begun a long overdue taped letter to a friend of mine, so I was communing with my tape recorder (the Memorex MB1055 standard-sized one, not Diane the Olympus microcassette recorder).  As I was waiting to catch the northbound bus, a gaggle of four or five sorority women walked by (I was in front of the Newport Music Hall), and one leaned over and shouted “Hi!” into the microphone while I was talking, sounding like a nursery school kid on Romper Room.  The time-and-temperature sign in front of the Ohio Union said 12:45 p.m., and these women were already quite drunk.  It made me wonder how long they’d been at it.

I’m going to a wedding on Second Life tomorrow night–one of my rare forays into that domain.  (Its national anthem should be the Alan Parsons Project’s “In The Real World”: “Don’t wanna live my life/In the real world.”)  Steph and I are tux-shopping for me tonight.  I’ll enjoy that as much as I enjoy real-world clothes-shopping, I’m sure.  (I’ve worn a tuxedo only once in my life, when I was best man at a friend’s wedding.  When I saw myself wearing the tux, I wondered if it came with a hurdy-gurdy and a monkey, or if I’d have to buy them separately.  I didn’t even wear a tux to my own wedding!)

Were it not for the threat of rain, and my overfilled over-the-shoulder bag, I might have walked from campus to here, all 20+ blocks.  The musty after-rain smell didn’t make me as miserable as it would have during my childhood, but it was still triggering an itchy palate.

I probably should have walked, because I dozed off a few times on the relatively short bus ride north.  I slept rather well last night, but I recognized the dozings-off on the bus as narcoleptic attacks; I was going straight into REM sleep and dreaming in a matter of seconds.  It’s happened a lot on the way home from work lately, too.  Last week, I was riding the northbound bus and reading The New Yorker, and at least three times I dozed off, awakening only when my magazine hit the bus floor.  (The article I was reading was far from dull, too.)

The cough seems to be 95% gone.  I do still cough from time to time, but the tickle in my throat doesn’t trigger the long and loud bouts that have plagued me through much of March and April.  The chest pain episode on my birthday turned out to be pleurisy, so I’m willing to bet it’s all part of the same package.  There was a woman on the bus the other day whose cough sounded as bad as mine, although I could tell by the sound that she had a much more productive cough than I did.  (Mine was dry 99 times out of a hundred.)  I’d look over toward her seat and her face was red from the effort of all that coughing.

She got off the bus before I did, and I saw her opening her purse as she stepped off the bus.  I thought she was getting out an aspirator (for asthma), or her cell phone (so a friend could take her to Urgent Care), but I was wrong on both counts.  I was just shaking my head in disbelief when I saw her pulling out a lighter and a pack of cigarettes.  No doubt where her cough originated.  (Mine was probably an opportunistic infection that came when I was still recovering from the gallbladder surgery.)

Needing to Stay Grounded in This World

It’s been around since 2003, but I learned of virtual world Second Life’s existence only in the last two weeks.  One of Steph’s friends told her about it two or three years ago, and it pretty much remained in the back of her mind until one night when she was bored at the computer.  She went to http://www.secondlife.com and began exploring.  I watched enough of it over her shoulder and it whetted my interest, whereas Kingdoms of Camelot and Farmville made me wonder, “Just what is the fascination here?”

So, less than a week later, with Steph’s help, I logged on to Second Life and created my own avatar.  (I am not going to disclose the names of either of our characters, because they’re on Second Life, and the whole point is that this is reality and they are citizens of Second Life, and never the twain shall meet.)  The graphics and characters are a lot more realistic and solid than many I’ve seen.  (What little I’ve seen of The Sims reminds me of an animated cartoon more than anything true to life.)

We’ve explored several areas, both separately and together, and I can understand the allure.  I posted on my Facebook Wall that I was “venturing into the unknown… I’m trying Second Life for the first time.”  One friend replied: “If you’re like most I know into Second Life, allow me to say it’s been nice knowin’ ya.”  I dismissed this as silly when he first posted it, and then I looked back on this weekend.  I haven’t posted in the blog, I haven’t written in the diary, and the only books I’ve read are audiobooks at work while I index or work on something other than dictation.  (The last one, just for the record, was Ayn Rand and the World She Made, by Anne C. Heller.)


The tag line for the ’70s Marvel Comic Howard the Duck was “Trapped in a world he never made!!”, which describes many of us, if not all of us.  No one can say that about Second Life.  I’ve actually danced there, and I swam several laps in a pool last night, neither of which I can do in reality.  Steph and I were on Second Life visiting a nightclub whose owner’s rippling chest protruded from a white shirt buttoned only at the navel, with long white flowing hair down to the middle of his back, his arms bulging with six-pack abs.  As the owner of this sophisticated strip club, he was in charge of the pole dancers and strippers.  Both of us are convinced that the avatar’s creator is a fat, balding guy in his late 50s with hair on his back, dressed in a stained T-shirt and torn carpet slippers, with take-out and fast-food trash surrounding his computer and cluttering the bedroom in the house he shares with his mother.


When Steph and I maneuvered our characters into the club, I went up to the bar and realized I didn’t have to be a teetotaler in Second Life.  So I had a couple beers, and didn’t end up in the drunk tank, or making a complete ass of myself.


Dungeons and Dragons was first starting to be popular when I was in high school, and I gave it a fair trial.  I was never as obsessed as some kids (universally male in my high school), who would go immediately to bed on Friday after school so they could stay up all weekend playing.  I played one extended session at a friend’s house, and was glad to have had the experience, but never played again.  Until I graduated, I saw guys in the cafeteria, or in the library, with Gary Gygax’ many D&D reference books piled around them, meticulously designing his next dungeon or campaign on graph paper with pencil and calculator.


(Not even I was immune to its reach.  I had to give a how-to speech in a public-speaking class, so I demonstrated how to play backgammon.  I laid out the components for the game–board, doubling cube, and “six-sided dice.”  D&D was the only place, other than the geometry class I dozed through, where I ever heard the word dodecahedron used.)


Some parents were leery of D&D and its popularity.  One reason was because it siphoned off energy formerly devoted to classwork.  Also, the “steam tunnel incident” at Michigan State University generated very negative publicity for the game, almost none of it factually based.  (A 16-year-old child prodigy, James Dallas Egbert III, had gone missing from the campus.  He was a full-time student there, and had occasionally played Dungeons and Dragons.  He had gone into the campus’ underground steam tunnels to commit suicide by ODing, and a private investigator hypothesized he had gone nuts or gotten disoriented while playing D&D in the steam tunnels.  Long story short, he had drifted from friend’s house to friend’s house until he made his way to Louisiana, where the detective found him working as a laborer.  He had a drug problem, he found it hard to make friends at college because he was so much younger, he was clashing with his parents about his sexuality, he was clinically depressed, and his parents were riding him about keeping up academically.  D&D was a non-issue in his story.  Tragically, he took his own life a year later.)  Some parents may also have thought that Rona Jaffe’s idiotic novel Mazes and Monsters was non-fiction.

For years, I could always ridicule D&D players from my high school with a clear conscience.  (At a party one night several years ago, someone asked me, “Did you play Dungeons and Dragons in high school?”, to which my smug reply was, “No, I had a life.”)  Now, I can see the emotional satisfaction and release that it could bring.  The nerd wedded to his multi-function calculator can command armies and slaughter sadistic deities while in the game, even though in the real world the jocks and bullies would give him wedgies or shove his head in the toilet and flush it whenever they got the chance.

Since there are virtual worlds out there, I’m wondering what bearing behavior there would have on reality.  I was looking at this video on YouTube from The CBS Morning News: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruMi3MAGkvc about sex there.  There are women earning real money (as well as Linden dollars, the Second Life currency) as prostitutes, but since no real in-person sexual act is paid for, it’s totally legal.  (I think that’s the same law that would apply to phone sex for money.)  But does that mean that a sexual tryst, or  even an ongoing affair, on Second Life by a married person wouldn’t be adulterous?  I imagine Second Life chat logs have appeared in evidence in divorce courts.  The chance to have multiple sexual partners in a universe where AIDS doesn’t exist must be quite a temptation.

Since the hysteria about role-playing games fizzled out in the ’80s, I don’t find it surprising that no one has sounded the alarm or mounted a campaign against The Sims and Second Life (or their many counterparts).  These games and virtual worlds are pareve–neither meat nor dairy, neither evil nor good on their faces.  They can be beneficial or they can be harmful.  A scalpel in the hand of Jack the Ripper cut a path of gory death and misery through the Whitechapel section of London in 1888, whereas a scalpel in the hand of Dr. Bruce Lytle in Cleveland may have saved Steph’s life.