Friday, May 16, 2014

Just frikin' super cool.

Wow... the most amazing thing happened today at work. I can still hardly believe it. I don't think I've ever been so completely discombobulated as I was today, when I had the flummox forcibly ejected right out of my brain by a fistful of unexpected, unfettered flabbergast. So this is what happened:

There's this regular customer who has been coming into the store for years. His name is Travis Lee, and I've known him as a close acquaintance for most of that time, as he comes into the store several times a week.  So, today when he was in the store, Jennifer complemented him on this really cool, bizarro alien octopus thing he had tattooed on his shoulder. I expressed my appreciation along with Jennifer, for It was indeed a pretty cool tattoo, and I asked him what the story was with that thing, to which he replied that his dad was a science fiction author, and that it was inspired by something he had written.

This of course is piqued my interest, so I asked if his dad had anything published, expecting the answer to be either no, or that he was self published with only a few dozen or maybe a hundred or so copies of whatever mediocre novel it was that he had written ... so when Travis replied that yes, his dad was published, and in fact was the author of several works which had spent several months each on the New York Times bestseller list...

...this was about the time that my jaw began to come unhinged, as I just kind of stood there staring into space, wondering vaguely who this kids dad was while he stood there, smiling and obviously waiting for me to take a guess. Finally he said, "My dad has co-authored several books with Arthur C Clarke."

He had barely uttered the last syllable when I blurted out, "No fucking way (pardon my French), your dad is Gentry Lee?!" followed by several back and forths consisting of no way, yes way, holy shit, yup, wow, I can't believe it, yep, it's true, wow, yup, and all this time I never even knew, yup, it's pretty crazy huh, which went on for a good two or three minutes, with me reaching over the counter and pumping his hand up and down like a lunatic.

Now, I realize that most people reading this have never even heard of or know who Gentry Lee is or what he even does, with no idea that in the world of science fiction authors he is a major player; one of those rare heavy hitters who actually, really did experience the privilege of co-authoring several books with Arthur C Clarke himself, the man who wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey and Rendezvous with Rama, along with a myriad of other classic science fiction books throughout his decades-spanning career. Oh, and he also came up with the idea for communication satellites.

So, suddenly finding out that this guy who I have known as a fairly close acquaintance for the past several years is, and has been all along, the son of Gentry Lee, a science fiction author with who's works I have been intimately acquainted and have respected for the past 25 years, was probably the biggest surprising shock that I've ever experienced, ever. At least, I can't think of anything else that has completely knocked me out of my socks like that.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


I'm always making friends at work and losing them.  It's a process, like a chunk of life shaped like a rotating drum, with new friends rolling up as the old ones vanish underneath.  I've made friends... good friends, the best friends I've ever had.  And then they go away, and I never see them again.  They're all gone.  They've all passed through my life over the past seven years like a story that wrote itself as it rolled across a cylindrical platen, and then disappeared when the paper ran out.  A phenomenon of fluctuating friendships.

Now there's Jennifer.  We talk a lot about everything, stuff that neither one of us would probably ever tell anyone else..  I don't know where she finds that trust in me.  A couple of  months ago I was walking down Hickory toward all of the bars on Fry Street.  I had my nose down in a book, as usual, so I didn't see the shape that was barreling toward me until the last minute.  It was Jennifer.  She'd been hanging out at one of the bars and had spotted me as I approached, and before I knew it, I was on the receiving end of a full speed tackle hug.  I don't know if I've ever been tackle hugged before, but that kind of thing elicits a feeling which is sort of indescribable.  The feeling you get when you're accepted, and liked, and included in someone's list of things that matter.  That somebody is really aware of you.  It felt like... instant joy, maybe?

Then there are the ones that are gone.  Olivia told me that she loved me more times than I can remember, and I have no idea why.  She's gone now... where to, and doing what, I have no idea.  Matt was always trying to get me to hit the bars with him.  A few times I did, and I'd almost forgotten what it was like to have a good bud to share drinks with and talk with, the way guys talk to one another, but he's been gone for almost a year now.  I saw him a week ago before he left for North Dakota, of all places.  He gave me a hug and said goodbye, and I almost got choked up.  Brittney helped me so much when I first got back from Alaska and was just a complete wreck with a broken heart.  And Leah... Leah's gone.  I'm still somewhat discombobulated about that.  I haven't seen her or spoken to her since October of 2011, since she up and left, to go live at a monastery.  Can you believe that?  It's like something out of a badly written movie.  How the heck does that happen in real life?  Man falls in love.  Woman leaves man.  Man howls ceaselessly in anguish.  Woman runs away to monastery in order to escape the noise.  That actually, really happened, and now this person who was once my best friend - the center of my life, around which all of my thoughts and actions revolved - this woman who I was in love with, who I still love as much as I ever did, now is just somebody that I used to know a few years ago.  It's a hard concept to grasp, that a thing such as this can actually happen in real life, to real people. It's just... incredible.

These people have all consistently brought me into their trusting folds, and I'm always kind of flabbergasted that they do.  They've all, every one of them, reached out with emotional bonding irons to forge a connection between us that always hurts when the time inevitably comes to wrench it loose.  Jennifer will leave eventually, too.  I wonder who will be next?  I wonder if my emotions will eventually break from all the cracks, like metal fatigue, that have formed as a result of so many connections having been made and broken, made and broken, made and broken, made and broken, made and broken... again and again and again.


I've got the sweetest ki-ki-meow in the world. Every night when I get home and every morning (or afternoon) when I wake up, he runs into my room and hops up on the bed, meowing his little ki-ki head off, and hops up on the bed and snuggles up right next to me. A rare kitty, one that's actually more like a dog than a cat. His name is Shady Cat, but he answers to meow.