Exclamations and sayings are funny things. Everybody has their signature saying, the quote that makes that person unique. My dad's go-to expression regarding any business doing well at the moment of his patronage, is, "It's a gold mine!"
My late brother's favorite exclamation was, "BOOM!" There was no occasion he didn't find a use for it. In the morning, right after he took that first sip of coffee, you would hear from the kitchen, a howling, "BOOM!" When he thought of something new, he would yell, "BOOM!" At those times, when he needed a boost, his chest would puff with air and release, with a resounding, "BOOM!"
Hard to believe a person can be summed up in one word, but that was the case for my dear brother. Along with a love for camels, a penchant for bright clothing, and the way he referred to everyone as, "Chiefy," this battle-cry was an intrinsic part of him, written into every fiber of his being. When I decided to create a character to honor the memory of my brother, I gave this character, Trapper Dave, all of these qualities, especially, the "BOOM!"
Sunday night I went to see the greatest rock and roll band in the world, at least the one with the greatest longevity, The Rolling Stones. My daughter bought me a ticket as a Christmas present. Our seats were so close, I could all but smell the sweat dripping off of Keith Richards. Yea, the best gift ever!
Although I saw them twice before in the 1990's, their performance all but rocked my socks off. The energy of those men, all in their seventies, was something to behold. Mick Jagger didn't miss a beat and flounced around the stage like a peacock on the prowl. He looked like he was in his fifties. While watching his performance, it was hard to believe he had a heart procedure back in April. Because of Mick's medical condition, the concert had been postponed from June, and Mick apologized to the crowd for causing the postponement. The man is not only one of the greatest showmen to have ever walked onto a stage, but has class and style to boot.
The Stones rocked Gillette Stadium. The audience swayed and sang to the tunes these bards belted out, from the first note of Street Fighting Man to the last beat of Satisfaction. The concert had everything from pyrotechnics and fireworks to more heart and soul than any of us spectators deserved. The Stones did not disappoint in any way, shape, or form. The best way to sum up the experience is with a raucous, BOOM!
Personality quirks define the landscape of the human condition. Strands of weirdness run through all of us, connecting all of us to the Cosmic Tapestry. The Cosmos holds the strings, upon which we dance.
Some of us embrace our peculiarities, while others run from them. I don't know why anyone would flee their intrinsic nature, that which makes them who they are, but they do. The Cosmos has a plan for each of us. We only have to do our part by living our lives to the fullest extent possible. Not a hard concept to wrap our minds around, but to put that into practice?
Maybe, the unknown is what people find most unsettling. I, for one, appreciate the unexpected and wouldn't want it to be any other way. That's what makes life exhilarating and worthwhile. The thought of waking up, knowing what the day would bring, would be unbearably depressing. Something to ponder, until we meet again. In conclusion, make the most out of what The Cosmos has gifted you, and remember, when in doubt, shout out with the combined verve of my late brother and The Rolling Stones, BOOM!
Thanksgiving and Christmas may be the busiest times for airports, filling the skies with grumpy, holiday travelers. Black Friday may fill shopping malls and cyberspace with impatient shoppers. All of that can be debated and is discussed ad nauseum every year by the talking heads on our television sets.
There is one fact that is an incontrovertible truth. The week of July Fourth is the indisputable, hands-down, number-one week for vacations. Every year, during the course of this week of weeks, our nation's highways fill with road-raged, pleasure-seeking vacationers. They storm toward their destinations, and damn it, have a good time, before storming back home. For many, this is a yearly ritual, an American right, our birthright. If it's not written in the Constitution, it oughta be!
Although I'm not traveling to anywhere in particular this week, I will be sharing the highways of New England with my fellow Americans plenty enough over the course of the week. I already have taken to the blacktop express. This past weekend, my wife and I went on a doughnut run.
Big-city slickers might say New Hampshire is the definition of the middle of Nowhere. I would disagree, but what do I know? After all, I chose to live in New Hampshire on purpose, and not by some fickle, twist of fate like my car spontaneously exploding as I was traveling through some podunk town that is not on any map on my way to somewhere important. Lo and behold, there are no mechanics in the whole state, so here I am, some twenty-odd years later, still waiting for my car to be repaired. Sometimes that's what living in New Hampshire feels like. So close to civilization and all of its amenities, yet disconnected in some significant manner. On the way to somewhere, but at once, nowhere in particular.
My wife and I are vegans, and we woke up Saturday morning with a hankering for a doughnut. Just one, not a store full of them or anything crazy. You might think we could have found such a simple thing around the corner from where we live, but you'd be wrong. Everybody around here thinks doughnuts can't be made without eggs and butter. By the narrowing of their eyes and furrowing of their eyebrows when we explain to folks we are vegans, you'd swear veganism must be some form of disease.
You can almost hear the cogs and gears of their minds grinding to a halt. Something in them wants to express their frustration of not knowing what you are talking about, but not wanting to admit it either. After biting their lower lip for a moment or two, they manage to blurt out, "Then, you must eat fish."
Anyway, the closest place that sells vegan doughnuts is one state away, a two hour drive. As ridiculous as it sounds, my wife and I set off on a four-hour tour to go buy a doughnut. That's life in the sticks for you!
My wife and I didn't choose to steal food from the mouths of animals to make any political or social statement. I became a compost-eater as a means of managing my diabetes, and my wife joined me in solidarity, bless her heart. Despite what anyone says to the contrary, fruits and vegetables don't give you that WOW feeling other foods possess. Unless you have a medical reason for choosing a vegan diet, I don't recommend it at all, though drowning the garbage in condiments goes a long way to making it all edible. With that all said, you can live without eating any animal products just fine. Be prepared for strange dreams of gnawing on pets and the like, attempting to subliminally pull you back into the orbit of the carnivore. The body has a mind of its own and wants what it wants, and it ain't anything on a vegan menu.
In case you're wondering, yes, the doughnuts were heavenly. Whether they were worth the effort is debatable. I suppose, a similar analysis as to whether a five dollar milkshake is actually worth its cost. But oh, they were splendidly delightful!
Our next trek will no doubt be to see fireworks in some place or other. My wife so enjoys a good display. Fortunately, for her, we live in a state where the love of fireworks seem to be imparted into the DNA of every man, woman, and child born here. Those explosions of light and sound are so ingrained into the psyches of everyone that fireworks are blasted into the sky at every opportunity. No event occurs without them. Old Home Day, Pond Hockey Tournaments, the lighting of town Christmas trees, and anything just shy of What The Heck Day is accompanied with fireworks. The Fourth of July is the mother of all events for the celebration of these sprays of color. You'd swear the day is Fireworks Day, rather than the celebration of the founding of our country.
Topping off the week, my daughter and I will be hitting the road to Gillette Stadium, home of The New England Patriots, to see the greatest rock group in the world, The Rolling Stones. I've seen the old fellas twice before, but this will be the first time with my daughter. One can never see too much of The Stones. Yes, finally, I'll be going to a go-go of my liking, and I will get my ya-yas out!
Ever since my high school days, I've ruminated over a story, The Prisoner Of Sleep. Every so often, I'd write a few a few chapters, before putting it aside, sometimes for years at a time. I don't seem to be able to write a story, if I can't see a clear path to the end of it. Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. I haven't been able to see a path to the end of The Prisoner Of Sleep, not yet, anyway.
My story is based upon my experiences with narcolepsy, a relatively rare sleeping disorder. Over the years, friends and family have told me about the odd things that occur while I sleep. In part, my story is about some of those events. Some day, I'll finish it, when The Muse moves me to do so, and not until that twist of fate happens.
This past weekend, my gaming friends came over to my house for another Gaming Extravaganza. These events go the entire weekend, where we game from Friday night until Sunday afternoon, with some amount of sleep dispersed in there somewhere. These sessions usually involve lots of gaming of the role-playing variety, eating the copious amounts of food I made in advance of the affair, listening to the mix of music I created, chain-smoking cigars while drinking more soda than any ten people imbibe in a month, and chatting about whatever nonsense pops into our minds.
Every group develops a dynamic in the pursuit of their purpose. Our reason for getting together five times every year is to pursue creative bliss. Think Tank is the proper term for our weekends, the name my friends gave it some twenty years ago. Think of it as unfettered creativity, wheeling like a bat out of Hell through our collectivized, cerebral construct. With that in mind, this past weekend was a success.
Something out of the ordinary occurred this time around the cerebral merry-go-round. This occurrence connected the weekend with my work in process, The Prisoner Of Sleep. Not too many things accomplish that feat. Writers have so many works in the wind, and I'm no different on that account because I haven't thought about that story in a couple of years. Maybe, this is my Muse's way of telling me to get on it, right now!
If you've ever witnessed a friend or family member sleep walk, or if you've ever done so and been told of the odd things you did while in that state, you may have some context in which to understand what I am about to relay, but I doubt it. As they say, truth is stranger than fiction. My truth is more bizarre than any about which I had read or heard.
You may be inclined to conclude my friends are punking me, but I don't think so. The facts that underlie their stories are too closely related to something verifiable for that to be the case. In any event, what I am about to relay is the sum total of what my friends said had transpired as I slept.
Friday night we gamed until four, Saturday morning, after which we all went to sleep. My friends later told me they awoke somewhere between eight and nine in the morning. I continued to sleep, until I started to move around ten-thirty or eleven. The rest of what I write about is what I've been able to sift from the stories relayed to me by five people. You be the judge of whether any of it is true or not.
Being told I sleepwalk is nothing new to me. This has been my reality since being diagnosed with narcolepsy at a sleep disorders center run by Dartmouth Medical Center. However, being told I did very particular things for hours on end is altogether another wrinkle in the matter.
When I get really tired and some noise or other disturbs my sleep, that is when I tend to walk in my sleep. On those occasions, my wife redirects me back to bed, and nothing unusual occurs. This past weekend, my wife and friends were unable to redirect my unconscious state. Apparently, I had something on my mind to express.
When I first stirred, my wife told me she managed to get me to lay back in my recliner. She said I sang my favorite Dylan and Stones tunes between bouts of attempting to head for the front door. So far, nothing out of the ordinary.
In my sleep, I seem to have the escape mentality of a rodent. My buddy said I even tried to sneak by him with a blanket over my head. I've heard that one before on more than one occasion. It even makes sense within the framework, if you can't see it, then it can't see you. He said that bit didn't fool him. I'm still waiting for the situation to occur where the bit does fool someone.
At some point, my wife and friends gave up on containment. My subconscious was just too hell-bent on movement. They hoped I would wake up, but my subconscious had other ideas in mind. Even asleep, I have an unrelenting, stubborn streak.
They followed me around the house, as I dressed, grabbed a cigar, and shambled out the front door onto the porch. At some point in this journey, I attempted to put on a pair of shoes that weren't mine. My wife said I groused my shoes had shrunk because the one's I had attempted to don were too small. The things you do in your sleep.
Once on the porch, the strategy my friends had conceived was to contain me there, which sounded easier in theory than in practice. They did their best to get me to sit down. They said that effort was absolutely hilarious.
Apparently, I needed my chair to be in a certain, exact location. They said I scooched, shimmied, twisted, and contorted, moving my chair back and forth, fractions of an inch at a time. I did that odd dance with my chair, until I was satisfied the chair was in the right place. Then, I would sit down, look around, let out an exaggerated sigh, get up, and do the whole show all over again. Eventually, after three or four attempts at making the world right, my chair had found its rightful position. I moved onto the next task of lighting my cigar.
How the cigar survived the chair shenanigans, I don't know. One of my friends said, "You pulled your clipper from your vest, clipped your stogie, replaced the clipper, took out your lighter, flicked it with your thumb, then puffed and puffed until we told you it was lit. After that, you put your lighter back in your pocket. It was uncanny, as if your muscle memory was on fire. At times, I thought you were wide awake, until you did something that assured me, you were definitely not with us in any normal manner."
The next part is the most bizarre of all. My friends said I ran my game for them. Yes, I dungeon mastered, while fast asleep, and it made sense. Talk about sleep walking through life. Try your hand at gaming in a sleep state. Of all the strange things I've done in my sleep, that has to be the strangest.
The stories are confused about how the gaming actually came to fruition, but it all began with some comment from my wife, whom my dream state thought was one of the gamers. She sat where one of them had always sat. I guess my mind filled in the rest. From that jumping-off point, according to everyone, I interacted as I usually do for the next couple of hours. The only difference being, I didn't look at any notes. Asleep, I appear to have a photographic memory. My memory is pretty good, but far from being photographic. Afterwords, as my friends relayed what happened in the game, I checked and the details were correct to a "t". However strange it seemed to me, it didn't make sense to make the gamers do what they had already done. Asleep or not, plenty of deeds were accomplished in between rants of "kill the rabbit!"
They said my shenanigans went on for three or four hours before I finally gave in and went back to sleep. That is, I stumbled back to the security of my recliner. When I did wake up, boy, did they have a tale to tell!
Now you know the rest of the story, at least all that is fit to print. Take a page from this tale and don't allow yourselves to sleep walk through your lives. Make the most of every moment, and along the way, always keep faith with The Dark.