Thursday, October 30, 2008

Devil's Night Demon

How appropriate for tonight... but a sad reality of this world. Opossums are demonic looking things anyway, but tonight what I saw topped them all. Just as I was coming to the top of a hill my headlights illuminated the eye of a bloody opossum sitting in the middle of the road like a dog would sit waiting for treats. His face was covered in blood and his hind end had been rolled over. The scene would give most people the creeps. He was just sitting there waiting to be finished off. Erie, yet sad. I didn't have the spine to finish him off...but I hope somebody did. I don't adore opossums, but I don't like to see anything suffer. This life can be cruel sometimes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


So I've been collecting buoys for probably over a year now. Not exactly sure why I started, but after a while it became a quest, seeking the strangest, furtherest traveled, weirdest, ugliest, whateverest. I am sorta intrigued or maybe envious of the journey some of them have been on. Each one has its own story. Each one driftin', maybe landing on a beach for a couple days, maybe setting sail again. Or maybe it spent most of its life tied to a crab trap waiting for that rogue boater to set it free with his prop. Some are colorful, some are plastic, some have barnacles, some are not whole, some have a tether... and somehow they seem to make their way to me.

I selfishly snag them, or maybe I rescue them, and put them on display in my back yard. I have about 70-80ish now. They are not all mine though. Some days I would come into my office and find a buoy laying on my desk... Sometimes they ended up in my truck... semi-anonymously... Other times people have just given me ones they have found. I kind of prefer these actually...

Lately the isolation of this place has... See our lives are much like buoys. Sometimes in life we can get tied down to a cause, compromising self and losing sight of purpose. Then things can be shaken up, we lose our tether, bob in the current. We drift, sometimes too far, until we can't see what was, and may never be again. We become victims of circumstance, at the mercy of our surroundings. But we also have to know that things have a way of coming back around, that what was, doesn't always have to be. We just have to keep our heads above the water and float on. Look out on the horizon, there is a new day, there is a new place, new opportunities, a new smile ;). One day circumstances will land you on that new beach. The waves will wash away your tracks and you will find meaning again... And I will pick you up and put you on my fence!

This is why I am launching my Paint a Buoy for El Jefe Campaign. Tapping into your creativity is soothing and meaningful. Expressing and giving is rewarding...

So here is what I want... I have a bunch of plain white buoys, I want my peps to paint, draw on, carve, defile, write a poem on, etc. them, however you see fit. Make it as abstract, personal, lite, or profound as you want. While I originally wanted these as mementos of my friendships, and would definitely appreciate and cherish those, I think it would be just as appropriate to personalize them however you see fit... You can do this anonymously, but I want them on my fence!

So please send me your personalized buoys. Get in touch with me, even if we don't know each other...

Now don't you worry, we'll all float on...
Even if things get heavy, we'll all float on...
Bad news comes, don't you worry even when it lands...

Good news will work its way into all them plans...

We'll float on, GOOD NEWS IS ON THE WAY!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Grays In The East, Pastels In The West

Me and Big Guns took the Triz out to watch the sunset tonight. Just like old times. We ended up in our favorite spot, perched up in the tower along the Lagoon. The full moon was rising off-shore like a sunrise, chasing the sun down behind the clouds in the west. A sweet and stiff breeze was blowing in off the Lagoon. A osprey hovered over the tree tops and did a fly by to check us out. I watched the moon glow off the Lagoon and the turned to see the sun reflect off the ponds. We used to go out there a lot around sunset. Big Guns is more interested in running than he is in pondering near the tree tops, but he waits patiently for me. You can see for miles up there; and like magic thoughts congeal into the big picture.

I haven't talked much since I left the Refuge. My last couple of days there were weird. I was crazy busy so there wasn't a lot of time to reminisce. The bridge was out so I had to drive the 35 miles around. I drove in silence wondering where the last two and a half years of my life went. One of the astronaut jets circled around and disappeared below the tree line, once more merging science and nature before my eyes. The memories played like a slide show in my mind. I learned a lot. A lot of things that will help me professionally, but more importantly, a lot about life; humility, forgiveness, the underlying good in people.

I did the right thing but I realize that everything about me here is somehow connected to the Refuge. The first day at my new job was the same day as the MIWA fund raiser. It is a pretty big event held at the Debus Center at KSC. I had only been away a day but it felt like coming home when I walked in. So many people I knew... but instead of a homecoming it was more like a goodbye.

I've been pretty lonely lately. Trapped. Shaking my head at the lessons I have learned in the last couple of years. How I have grown. If only... I was then what I am now. I guess I got what was coming to me... there's nothing left to run from... only places and things to go to, or go back to. Just serving my time... working on acceptance and being content. Wish life wasn't so short.

As the daylight sinks, as I fail to stop and think, once I cursed the things I've done, won't you please forgive me, won't you please forgive me

In the morning the pastels will be in the east and the grays will be in the west.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

New Hero

This makes me giddy. Watch Robert Gibbs smack down Sean "waste of space" Hannity. Gibbs flips the guilt by association argument on Hannity, declaring that based on his own logic it is fair to assume that Hannity is anti-semitic because his show on Sunday was centered around an anti-semite. Brilliantly done. Leaves Hannity squirming in his seat. Even gives Gibbs a little chest poke at the end.

Hannity has a way of making even O'Reilly look like a saint.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

RS Eagle Soar

Man, I can’t believe it’s been three years. How time flies, and how we have a way of putting some things out of our minds…maybe some things are better there, though, at least for a while.

I got a call around 8:00 am or something. For some reason I feel like it was a Tuesday. I was still sleeping. I had been spending endless hours working on my thesis. I would go to bed and stare at the wall across the room, mind spinning about a billion things, mostly though, looking back on it, it was fear of finishing my thesis. Anyway, I would be up late and when I would finally get to sleep I wouldn’t set my alarm unless I had to… Well one was set for me that morning; and I knew why she was calling as soon as I saw that it was Wendy.

I met Ramon at MDA camp when we were probably about 6… well I was, he was about 8 or 9. Mexican, slicked back hair and a rat tail. He had a chair but would still try to walk and stand. Ramon and I weren’t friends at first. My friend/rival was Ray, and Ray and Ramon were camp veterans and they often let me know it. Ramon was in cabin #1 and Ray, Bobby aka “Jellyfish”, and I were in cabin #2. We shared a lobby with cabin #1. Often times we would play hockey in the lobby during “rest period”; Ramon and Ray against me and Bobby. It was often very competitive, in fact, there were never any winners because we would often end up yelling at each other. When you are a kid sometimes loyalty runs thin. There was some issue that arose during one of the hockey games and all of a sudden the tides changed and it became me and Ramon against Ray and Bobby… and the friendship was born.

Years passed, and I watched my friend gradually decline. Every year, Ramon was not able to do something he had done the year before. It progressed from him not being about to walk or stand anymore, to him not being able to move his chair, to him not needing braces anymore because they were of no use, to him not being able to hold the hockey stick or swing the bat, to him not being able to feed himself, to him not being able to drive his chair unless his finger was placed on the joystick by someone else, to him not being able to breath without a vent.

But to know Ramon, you knew that it didn’t faze him. He wasn’t proud, he wasn’t insecure, he wasn’t worried or down on himself. It was as if somebody forgot to tell Ramon that he had a death sentence. His optimism was remarkable.

Me, being the unfortunate realist and vector of pessimism that I am would often wonder how he could be so optimistic… of course my pessimism and thoughts were firmly stowed away in my head until now. I remember one time in our teens, just the guys, talking big, and I remember Ramon saying something about kicking somebody’s ass. And I remember how sobering that was to me. How physically impossible that was, but yet I realized that Ramon had found a way to live a life without limits through others… For some reason that moment sticks in my mind.

As we grew into our late teens camp started to mean something different to me. I have talked about this in another blog. Reality was starting to sink in. I think I was about 17 or 18. It was summer and camp was just around the corner. I had heard that Ramon was in the hospital and they weren’t sure if he was going to make it to camp. Well, going to camp is about the best cure for anything, and I knew Moner would be there. But, the first day of camp rolls around and no Moner. The word was that he was still trying to come but not sure when. Tuesday, Wednesday, no Moner. The word was that he was going to make it to prom on Thursday. Being the sly guy that he was, he had already arranged a date for prom before he even made it to camp.

The week was weird for me. My partner in crime was not there. I was worried about him. I knew that he had a trach put in and that he was on a ventilator. This was very unsettling for me because it was such a step in the wrong direction. I had such mixed emotions about seeing him.

It was Thursday and he wasn’t there yet. Noon rolls around, afternoon activities wrap up, everybody is getting ready for prom, we have dinner; and no Moner. Everybody had made their way to the dance. I am anxious. Was he going to make it?… Finally the van pulls in. He made it.

But, to add to the frustration, there was one more hurdle to cross. As the van tried to turn around it bottomed out on a rock and got stuck in a precarious spot. There was no way to get Ramon out because it was bottomed out on the side that the lift was on. I remember the frustration and even anger. My long time friend Stan and I walked down to try and get help moving the van. The frustration boiled over and I remember Stan saying “all the kid wants to do is to go to fucking prom”. It was obvious that he too, was unsettled about whole situation…

Finally he it made to the dance floor… He was having a great time. But I was having a hard time seeing my friend attached to a ventilator. It was really, really hard for me to put that aside, knowing that this was pretty much the last step for him… But once again, somebody forgot to tell him…

Years passed and Moner and I stopped going to camp. He had finished school and worked at Camp Fish Tales, a camp started by former MDA campers that were too old to go to MDA camp. He seemed to be doing well. He had a lot of pride in Fish Tales. To some extent it gave him a purpose. I saw Ramon for the last time in 2003 at Fish Tales before I moved to Florida.

We talked once in a while by phone over the next couple of years. I had heard that he had been in and out of the hospital. In August of 2005, I was in the lab and I got a call from him. His voice was barely audible; “I am getting married” he said “and I want you to come”. Well it turned out that I had been debating whether to go home for another wedding the same weekend that he was suppose to get married. So hearing that news made my decision for me.

Well it turned out that she got cold feet. I went home for the other wedding and I missed out on meeting up with him while I was there. Two weeks later Wendy called; “Ramon passed away”. I said ok… but still haven’t processed it…

You go where I go…

It is the greatest of all advantages to enjoy no advantage at all.

- Thoreau