My Epitaph

If you don't question everything, you will know nothing and believe anything!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Day Jedi Are Born: May the Fourth is with a few of us always. I'm from the Jedi class of 1971.

As I turn 42 today, will I discover the question to why 42 is the ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything? In my own fictional account of today at least I concluded with my account of why I might have discovered the question. Today, as the public unveiling of "The Evolving Door" as my official blog, I begin with some of the autobiographical accounts found in "My First 100 Days: An Autobiographical Manifesto of Futuristic Novelty". The following is an except of Chapter 14.

Thinking back to his birthday six years ago, he laughs as he remembers how close to suicide he was on that birthday.  It was a week before he would finally see a surgeon smart enough to, finally, place him in the back brace that healed the worst of the spinal fractures, and his pain had not diminished in these past five months.  Although he could touch his toes - hence could dress himself again - he was still in much suffering.  He was sleeping on an air mattress in his brother’s basement when he was awoken in a fright.

His parents had developed a habit of waking both he and his brother up on their birthdays around the time they had entered this world.  This might not have been so bad for his brother because his wake-up call usually came about the time he was arising to get ready for work, being born around 0630.  However, he had had the misfortune of entering the world in the deadest part of the night: 0400.  At his parents house the previous birthday he had awoken before they came to awake him, so he slipped into their bedroom and laid down on their bedroom sofa.  Expecting to play a joke on them, they were lazy, for once, and didn’t set an alarm to come wake him.  When morning came and his parents awoke and stirred, he awoke as well, and then he teased them about sleeping through his normal birthday wake-up call.

That was the last time he would have a completely healthy birthday, and the next year would be the last of these early wake-up calls.  From a deep sleep he was startled awake by his parents standing over the air mattress in the basement singing “Happy Birthday”.  It did not have the effect they desired because he woke up trembling.  They went back upstairs to return to the guest room while he laid in pain trying to calm his racing heartbeat from waking in a state of fear.  Struggling to return to sleep, he was not looking forward to this birthday.  

He had tried to schedule the appointment with the next surgeon to be before his birthday knowing the difference it could/would make to his psyche on that day; however, he still had another week before he would finally see someone that was smart enough to prescribe an apparatus that would prove to have healing effects.  Depressed and in pain, sleep finally returned.  The next ‘alarm clock’ he would have was his niece.  Since he was leaving with his parents that morning, she had come down before going to catch the bus to go to school to wish him a happy birthday.  Her approach was definitely better than her grandparents’ had been, and as he opened his eyes he saw his darling niece coming with birthday wishes.

His brother had already left for work, and as he went upstairs to get a glass of orange juice he was alone in the house because everyone else was out at the bus stop waiting to see his niece off to school.  Returning to the basement he sat down, and began to cry.  “How many more years do I have to feel like this?” he sobbed to himself.  He had been fighting to keep himself from being depressed about the accident, but it all came welling up that morning.  As he sobbed in pain that morning, he was overcome with self pity.  A thought crept into his head.  He opened up his bottle of pain killers and dumped out the contents.  The thought flew from his head because he didn’t think he had enough to do the trick.  It was his first time contemplating suicide since the accident, and, ... he knew that it had been yet another example of divine providence taking care of him.  

That was the last year he would receive this early birthday wake-up.  Without telling them that he had had suicidal thoughts, a year later he asked his parents to allow him to wake up naturally.  They were together, again, but this time it was in canyonland.  They had already visited Bryce, his birthday would be spent in Zion, and in a couple of days they would go to the Grand Canyon.

The next year he was back in the midwest for his birthday.  He had several doctor appointments, including getting another x-ray of his back which revealed two fractures of which he was unawares, and that at least two of them did not appear to have healed in the past two-and-a-half years.
One of the reasons he choose to be back there for his birthday was because he had a birthday miracle ticket to see the Dead (2009) perform in Chicago.  Lucke had gotten him a ticket for his birthday before he knew he was flying back.  If he had not made it, the ticket was to be a miracle to someone else.  However, there really was no one else that would have appreciated the ticket as much.

They were going to crash in someone’s hotel room by the venue, and after meeting this host, the host asked what song he wanted to hear for his birthday.  “Are you kidding?  I want to hear ‘Happy Birthday’!”  He could have replied ‘I Need a Miracle’ for his miracle ticket, but he figured he would hear that one (he did).  No, he was asking for the next to impossible.  However, being the statistical anomaly, he excels at doing the next to impossible (which was what gave him the self-confidence in his own abilities that had brought him to his current position).

Shrooming through Shakedown Street, he spies a long-board skateboard resting on a car with Colorado plates.  Receiving permission he surfs a slight incline in the lot.  Returning the board after a quick couple of waves while the mushrooms were kicking in, he continued his cruise around Shakedown searching for the friends he already knew.

Not finding them before getting back to the board, he surfs the same wave again, pulling into the same little inside barrel (ducking below a line taped to orange cones).  Back through Shakedown looking for his friends.  He makes three trips through Shakedown and three quick skates before he finds his friends.  If he didn’t look so much like his mother he would have sued Bob Weir years ago, for even being clean cut in school he would generally have someone ask if he was Bobby on Shakedown.  With a mushroom Cheshire cat smile, when he gets called Bob and gets to smile even broader (if possible) and inform his accuser that he is innocent: “His hair is shorter and whiter!”
Finally finding his friends they enter the venue.  Their seats were in the nosebleed section behind the stage.  It may still be fun and good, but it has never really been the same without Jerry.  However, having heard several tapes from May 4 shows, he never heard Jerry play ‘Happy Birthday’.  Warren Hayes had the lead role for that tour, and he really rocked the house when he sang ‘Into the Mystic’.  That may have been the highlight of the show for most people, quite honestly, but not his.  Coming out for the encore, he hallucinates hearing Warren play ‘Happy Birthday’ as his warm-up for the encore!  Singing it to himself in hallucinogenic disbelief he turns to Lucke as Warren finishes and singingly asks “Happy Birthday to me?”  Lucke hadn’t quite heard Warren playing that over the rest of the band warming back up for a two song encore, so he wasn’t quite sure if it was real.

They were selling a limited number of copies of the show on compact disk as soon as they could press them.  Stephanie waited to buy one while Lucke went out to smoke.  He went out with Lucke and walked back to Shakedown looking to go see if he could ride another wave while waiting for Fucking Lucke to get out.  Being too early to borrow a board again, he began walking back to where the Luckes were smoking.  About halfway back, spawning like a salmon against the outflux of Heads, he sees his host for the night.  Lucke may not have heard it, but the man he met a few hours earlier exclaimed to him:
“Congratulations!  You got your ‘Happy Birthday’!”

“You heard that, too!  I thought I was hallucinating it!”

The next day while re-entering the black hole they listened to the previous night’s show during the drive.  Indeed, he had accomplished the next to impossible.  Now, they all could clearly hear the notes that he was the only one of the three of them to hear the night before.  He was able to hear the only song that he had wanted to hear: ‘Happy Birthday’, and once more, he tried to figure out exactly how he had accomplished this task.  Two years previously he had contemplated suicide first thing in the morning in the west suburbs of Chicago, now he had someone playing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him (actually to someone else, but …) in front of thousands.  He may never see the man whose room they crashed in that night, but he knows that that man will never forget the stranger who got his birthday wish in the set list.

The next day he reached escape velocity and returned to the coast where he wouldn’t have to visualize water while he street surfed - he could paddle back out and really surf!  His next birthday was to be spent, again, with his parents seeing one of the most scenic areas of the country.  They spent a week driving the California coast to Big Sur.  He may always have people accusing him of being a ‘junkie’ because he is still in pain and continues to take pain killers, but his parents have not, nor will make that accusation.  On these birthdays they have traveled with him, they have seen him still suffer.  He has had days where he has sent them off to see things he has already seen before because he needs to spend a day in bed to rest.  This time it was to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, where he had camped several years previously.

Most of those who are quick to accuse him of abusing his medication (which he wishes that he didn’t need) do so without having seen him on days where there are visual, facial, clues that he hurts with every step as he walks slower than the barely walking old people.  He has heard “cripple” being yelled from cars as he crosses an intersection as fast as he can move.  These are the days that he is not wanting to see people, because he is suffering and is miserable, but he doesn’t want company in his misery.  He wants to be left alone, and he will resurface when he has gotten the pain back under control.  However, his parents have seen him still suffer with every step because he cannot keep up with them for an entire week!  About halfway through, he needs a full day of rest just to be able to be active the next day!  Luckily, these days have occurred when he can send them places he has already been, but they (as complete non-users) have never voiced a concern about him ‘abusing’ instead of ‘using as prescribed’.

Taking another hit, he remembers childhood birthdays.  Most of the springtime field trips he had in elementary school fell upon on his birthday, and it seemed to never fail in the fact that it would rain.  Every time they took a field trip to the local frontier setting on his birthday it would rain.  He could count on it so much that after being sucked back into the black hole from Florida, his neighbor, who had been four when they moved in, was now in 3rd grade with the same teacher he had had in the same grade, asked him, since he had just gotten back and was still looking for work, if he would be a chaperon for the field trip to the prairie this year.  The field trip fell upon his birthday and he couldn’t refuse.  

At the time he was asked, there were not enough chaperons to take the class, but by the time of the field trip he was placed in charge of only two children: his neighbor and one of his friends.  Since it was his birthday, and the field trip was to the same place he had spent several rainy birthdays of his own youth, he had brought his rain gear and a couple of umbrellas.  When he told his former teacher that he had rain gear for his wards and himself, the teacher seemed in disbelief that it could possibly rain.  Explaining that it always rains on his birthday on that same field trip he would have been foolish to not bring them.

Needless to say, that when going back to the picnic shelter for lunch, they were the last to arrive, but they arrived dry.  His former teacher looked at him like he had conducted a rain dance to insure rain.  Beaming a smile back, he laughs as he asks his former teacher how many years he has brought classes here that it hasn’t rained.  Repeating that he remembers it always raining on his birthday on the same field trip was why he came prepared and his two wards were dry.
That was turning thirty, and as he exhales another long hit (this time actually a deep enough hit to blow smoke rings - something much harder to do with the holiest of sacraments than with that poison of tobacco) on this, ... birthday he laughs at how absurd his life is.  Who would ever have thought that the years of struggle being motor-homeless with a broken spine would eventually pay off?

I trust that those of you finding "The Evolving Door" today would wish me a Happy Birthday, even those that I have yet to offend - stick around, I'll shock you into neuroplasticity if you give me the chance! For those of you that are fans of George Lucas' Jedi mythology, feel free to claim "May the Fourth be with you" for it always has been with me, both sides in either struggle or conspiring cooperation. So, May the Fourth be with you, always, too. If you are just finding this blog, there is more content here than you can read in one sitting already, and I have only just begun. So, as you keep coming back, you will have the opportunity to see this project grow, evolving towards perfection. If you have enough of a taste from the above that you would prefer reading the free excerpts in the chapter order, you can find that quickly on the tool bar above your next visit, but here is the link to make it easiest right now.

If you don't question everything, you will know nothing and believe anything.
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