And We Hope For Better

I’m in “talks” with a publisher.  Cool things may be in the offing soon.  Details when things are more concrete.  Will this be career-changing?  Who knows?  It will, to be sure, take me another step on the way.  It will not, at this point, be life changing.

Change is one of those terms we bandy about almost like an incantation. “Things will change” “If you don’t like it, change it” “Change is good for you” “changes are coming” and then there is the most puzzlingly problematic corollary, “Things will never be the same again.”

I’ve never understood that phrase, not in any concrete way.  I know what it is supposed to mean, but in that specific sense, the question that rarely gets asked is “What things were these that were always the same in the first place?”  Because in many small but no less real ways, just waking up in the morning brings you a life that isn’t the same anymore, even though it bears striking similarities to the one you had the day before.

Or put it in a slightly larger context, the oft-remarked “History changed with that event.”  You really have to step back and asked “How?  It wasn’t history yet when it happened, so how could it change before it was?”  I mean, History changing….again, I know what it’s intended to mean, but it’s also sloppy in that it assumes history had an expected direction before said event.

Which it didn’t, really.  That’s telec thinking, which humans love to indulge and which is almost always wrong.

Back to the first instance, though.  “Things will never be the same” is incantatory in that it masks a hope.  If change is good—or at least necessary—then you don’t want things to be the same all the way to the end.

Unfortunately, we seem to live with a profound inertia that often imposes a suffocating sameness day to day.

Perversely, we can become victim to this by embracing an impossible nostalgia, by turning our backs on the possibilities of change, and wishing for things “the way they used to be.”  Too often, this involves a highly edited version of those times, with some additions and revisions that tidy up the less pleasant realities we endured, and turning them into a Camelot to which we cannot return. Mainly because, in significant ways, we were never there.

But if the prospect of changing into something unknown is too daunting, people can let this little capsule fantasy swallow them up.  They live inside a constrained and ever more false set of memorative tableaux as though in a castle under siege. Should the walls ever come down, they can be left defenseless and naked, surrounded by realities made more frightening because they never bothered to understand them.

We only have one path—forward.  No matter what all the gurus and wise-beings have said about pathways, all them share this in common.  Tomorrow is our next stop.  We can arrive at the station with anticipation, an open heart, and curious mind, or try to stay in the back of the car when the doors open and ignore what’s out there.  But we will go forward.  No other direction is possible.

That can get very frustrating, even if you do want to find out what’s out there.  It’d be nice to stop at one of these stations occasionally and stay a while, recover a bit, rest up.

No such luck.  The only thing we can do is try to travel in company with good people who will share the weight and join in the marvelment at the next stop.

They aren’t always the same folks, from one stop to the next.   And sometimes people who’ve been along with you for years may, for a variety of reasons, drop away.

A pity, sometimes.  Things will never be the same without them.

But then, they weren’t going to be anyway.

Just some musings for a rainy Saturday.

Digital Painting

I’m procrastinating this morning, distracting myself from a stubborn short story I want very badly to finish but only if it’s finished right.  So I decided to do something else until the solution to the problem presented itself.

This is a sketch. I intend to go back in at some point and do a better job, for now this is the result of about 40 minutes of adding color to an image to get a new effect.  I’m calling it Enchanted Forest for now, but given how easy it is to lose oneself in this process I could just as well call it The Forest of No Return.

Anyway, enjoy.

Enchanted Glade, colorized


It seems longer, but it’s only been a bit over a month since my surgery.  Everything, according to the People Who Know, has been going well.  The last couple of weeks I’ve been encumbered with a brace, which is intended to keep me from moving my arm in a manner likely to impede healing.  It’s been awkward.

Robotic Me 3

But this, too, will soon end.  According to Patrick, my physical therapist, I’m tracking the way I should be—even a bit better than expected (for age, injury, disposition)—and he estimates the brace can come off after May 8th.  I’ll still have therapy to go through and it will be a few months before I’m battling superfoes and lifting cases of books, but I will at least be able to scratch my nose, comb my hair, and eat my meals with my right hand.  It’s the small things one misses most, mainly because you never think about them until you can’t do them.

So I have that to look forward to.  I’m wondering now if I should use this shot as my official author photo or something…

Robotic Me 2

Update and So Forth, With Appreciation

It’s still awkward to do this. My right arm is bound in an articulated brace that bears a resemblance to some kind of robotic prosthesis.  This one, however, is only intended to constrain my movements so I don’t damage the surgery while it heals.  Makes typing difficult, but it’s getting easier.  My handwriting, already questionable, is another matter.

So back in August I had an accident.  I could characterize it as an act of stupidity, but that’s not really true.  I did something I had done before and had no reason to think I couldn’t do again.  However, my right biceps tendon chose to give and I experienced a partial tear.  Not enough to incapacitate me but enough to give me chronic problems.  When it became evident that it wasn’t healing, I sought advice and went to a specialist.  I saw Dr. George Paletta.  One MRI and a lot of conversation later, I agreed to surgery to repair the tendon.

So on March 31st I went to a small surgery where Dr. Paletta opened a small incision on the inside of my elbow, “completed” the tear, and bolted the tendon back in place.  I spent the next two weeks in a full cast. photo 1 me Much reading and watching of movies ensued.  Learning to do with just my left hand proved an education.

Removal of the cast occasioned one of the worst pains I have ever experienced.  My forearm felt as though the Incredible Hulk had grabbed it and determined to crush it. When my eyes once more focused and the spots stopped dancing, the staff, including Dr. Paletta, were standing around me smiling.  “Perfectly normal,” they told me.  Okay.

So now I’m doing physical therapy twice a week and slowly, slowly reacquiring the use of my right hand.  I can drive, I’ve been back to work, and I’m doing this.  Because the brace is a restraint on range of motion, I can’t yet brush my teeth with my dominant hand.  Or eat with it.  Or scratch my nose, comb my hair, etc, you get the idea.  Next week I may get a bit more range.  I haven’t tried playing piano and I’m not even getting near a guitar with this aluminum thing.

Before the surgery I managed to finish the 1st draft of a new novel.  I’ve been noodling on a couple of short stories lately and still reading.  (I’ve decided to start Agatha Christie.  Read some of her books as a teenager, but that was almost half a century ago, so…)  I’m working my way through a book by Kip Thorne about wormholes and such.

My hope is that by the end of May I’ll be more or less mobile again.  My gym kindly put my membership on hold till such time as I can come back, but that may be even longer.  I’m feeling…puffy.  But if I’m careful, which I intend to be, I’ll be good as new by fall.

Meantime, I thought I’d just give folks an update.  More words are coming, trust me.  But lastly I want to say Thank You to everyone involved in this.  People have been terrific.  From my coworkers to the medical personnel, everyone has been generous, supportive, and tolerant.  Thank you all.


photo 3 me

At Play With Landscape

This started out as a fairly straightforward image in need of some attention. I scanned it from a negative this morning, a shot taken back in 2002 or ’03 in New Mexico when we were visiting a friend. Difficult conditions at the best of times, shooting more or less directly into the sun, with the consequent flares and subdued contrast and obscured detail.  So I started playing.  It went some places I didn’t expect and pretty soon became less a photograph than a painting, and a not bad one, if I do say so myself.  I like it, anyway.  I think I’ll put this one in the Archon art show next October.  A bit Maxfield Parrish going on in this.  In any event, enjoy.

New Mexican Sun and Mountain as Maxfield Parish, April 2002


As a comparison, here’s an unmodified shot from the same day, in good old black & white”


Crags, New Mexico, b&w, 2002

It’s March 9th. Time For Another Photograph

This one was taken on the campus of MSU, East Lansing, Michigan, in the summer of 1988. When needing a break from the workshopping and writing that was Clarion, I’d go for walks with my cameras and find things.


Down the Shallow River, b&w, July 1988


Okay, make that two photographs.


Ducks Against the Fall, b&w, July 1988



Ducks-Go-Round, b&w, July 1988

Okay, I’m done for now.  It really was a lovely campus in places.  Speaking of writing, I’m going to do more now.  Enjoy.

It’s Been How long?

A bit of nostalgia.  Reminiscing on happy times.  I’ve been pretty fortunate.  I think there’ve been more smiles than frowns.  Me On Snowy Bleachers, b&w, January 1991

Even when the ground has been covered with nasty white snowy stuff, which is not my favorite thing anymore.  But, you know, the fact is I don’t really like being in a bad mood.  I very much prefer being happy, or at least content, and I suspect I’ve had more of that than the alternative.

So going through some old negatives this past week or so I found a couple of images I’d forgotten about, but which, once seen, brought back the whole day on which they were taken.  Good days.

This one, for instance, was ostensibly for possible author photo use.  Never used any of them for that, but Donna and I had fun taking them.

And then there’s this one, which is of usDonna and Me, b&w, 1986.  A studio portrait, done at Shaw Camera in about 1986 or so.  Me and my sweetie.

Which she still is.  Soon—this weekend, in fact—it will be 35 years since our fist date.

35 Years.

For a guy who once thought he’d spend his life as a bachelor due to an inability to have a relationship, this comes as no small surprise.  But you should never second-guess yourself.  Or third-guess.  Whatever.

35 years ago I took Donna out on our first date.  I took her to see 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was playing at a theater that no longer exists.  Afterward we went to a nearby Chinese restaurant which also no longer exists.  In fact, pretty much the only thing that still exists, albeit in much altered form, from when we met is the McDonald’s where we met, on Kingshighway.

Look at that picture.  Am I not fortunate?  I’m still amazed by her.  She has made my life worth having.

Damn.  35 years….