Ancient Survivors

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I’m going to hit you with something deep. You know, your authentic self is constantly trapped under the weight of the most negative forces in this world. And it will be an everyday battle. You know, sometimes I felt, and you will feel, that who you are is hidden away like a piece of really great jewelry that you keep in a box, and you only take it out during special occasions. Yet your everyday persona is a type of demonic possession. But the demons aren’t gargoyles or red-faced men with horns, but everyone else’s dreams, desires, definitions of success, greed, the pursuit of personality instead of character, the exchange of love and family, for money and possessions, entitlement with no sense of responsibility, and the most frightening demon of all, lack of purpose.

If I do not know who I am, it is because I think I am the sort of person everyone around me wants to be. Perhaps I’d never asked myself whether I really wanted to become whatever everyone else seems to want to become. Perhaps if I only realized that I do not admire what everyone seems to admire, I would really begin to live after all. You see the two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you discover why you were born. Now I have only been able to slay dragons when I have kept these two important facts in sharp focus, because at some point in life, it will indeed suck. Loss of a loved one, health issues, marriage, children, loss of passion, the discovery that what you thought you wanted in life … you don’t. You veer off course, but all that while, that purpose, that thing that you were specifically, divinely made for will be looming in front of you.

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Stumbling at times, yelling internally, “Help me”, happy, disillusioned, exhausted, fulfilled, knowing that I am giving all I am, all I really am, to this life. It’s said that humans are the only creatures that stay at their mother’s bosoms the longest. Perhaps that’s why when we are thrust into the world, we flail and thrash, looking for a sanctuary, answers, to be saved. The good news is that the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are, and as for the demons…you exorcise them. How? To those who say, “What is my purpose?” I say, “You know.” And to those who know, I say, “Jump!”

-Viola Davis, Providence College commencement address, May 2012

The One Sad Cry Of Pity Tour

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Chef Wil told me of a dream he had about rhinoceros. I helped him look up the dream symbolism on the internet:

“One of the top three largest land mammals, the rhino’s physical presence is mammoth. Although the rhino is known to display aggressive behavior, for the most part it is a passive creature – preferring to roam its wide-open grassy spaces in contemplative solitude. Here we see the first of many paradoxes that lead us to the underlying symbolic theme of the rhinoceros: ‘things are not as they seem.’”

I have been reading, “A Short History of Nearly Everything,” by Bill Bryson. At the dawn of the time when mammals began to take over, oxygen was a much higher percentage in the atmosphere. When the dinosaurs died en masse, our mammal ancestors, cautious, nocturnal, came out from their hiding places and took to the land. They rapidly grew to mammoth size in this highly oxygenated world. Guinea pigs were the size of small cars, and rhinoceros were the size of raised ranch houses.

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My heart goes out to Tom Ashbrook, whose wife passed away this past weekend. The On Point podcast is my favorite on the internet, because it combines so many interesting sources and always put them into a larger perspective. For example, in May this year he covered the prehistoric hunting sites- dating to the last time of real climate change, when the ice sheets were disappearing- that have been discovered on the floor of Lake Huron, and then the second half of the podcast was about tipping points, and how we and our children and their children will live through the melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet.

I was listening to an older On Point podcast called Ancient Survivors, from 2012. It was biologists talking about how some species, the lungfish, the velvet worm, the horseshoe crab, have lived through multiple major extinctions in the history of earth. Meteor / comet strikes. The acidification of the seas. Whatever it was that these species did to survive, we should study and learn from, to prepare ourselves. I was totally taken off guard by how Tom closed this discussion, with a Providence College commencement speech by actress Viola Davis.

Never Ending Tour

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After I checked out the dishwashers I was alone in the basement of the restaurant doing the final walk-thru. All good closing managers know to take one last look inside the pastry walk-in just in case a piece of chocolate cake caught on fire or something. I’m not afraid of anything but I shrieked when I saw these alien bones!

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Chef Goob saw the top picture online and said, “Ahh, sugar cane. Mother Earth had that at Tropical Dimensions, just not as nice.” Mother Earth also had one hand on a machete at all times. I saw Katy training her replacement as Chef Rick’s personal assistant: she is happily returning to just one full time job, culinary media. I had never seen such height in a power pony!

You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere

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Clouds so swift
Rain won’t lift
Gate won’t close
Railings froze
Get your mind off wintertime
You ain’t goin’ nowhere
Whoo-ee! Ride me high
Tomorrow’s the day
My bride’s gonna come
Oh, oh, are we gonna fly
Down in the easy chair!

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Genghis Khan
He could not keep
All his kings
Supplied with sleep
We’ll climb that hill no matter how steep
When we get up to it
Whoo-ee! Ride me high
Tomorrow’s the day
My bride’s gonna come
Oh, oh, are we gonna fly
Down in the easy chair!

-Bob Dylan and the Band, from the song whose name I’ve taken for the title of this post

Open the Door Homer

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The past five days have been a blur. Etta has taken real good care of me, not easy, I am the ultimate baby when sick. She got me got tea, citrus, warm meals, medicine and tissues. She even got me a bag of candy and picked up my dry-cleaning.

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I called out sick from work for the first time. I really wish it was a day to play hooky, instead of hurting. Etta and I walked together to the library to vote in the midterm election. I don’t call out sick from democracy.

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The best part of the sick day, other than Etta and Roly Poly, is the new Bob Dylan basement tapes raw bootleg.

Dia de Muertos

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Halloween promised to be a wild night in Chicago, falling as it did on a Friday. Instead the monster returned, with temperatures in the 30s, howling winds, snow, sleet, and 23 foot waves crashing on Lake Shore Drive.

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I started to fall ill with a harsh sickness, for the first time in years, something like the flu. Trying not to blame the fresh air, flu shot, or anything else that’s undoubtably good for me.

Hamburger Security

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Late one night, after I told her about the extinction of large, defenseless sea cows, on both of America’s coasts, by the hands of human beings, Effie put on a song I had never heard before, “Dying on the Vine,” by John Cale. The fragments of sentences have been rearranged, William Burroughs-style. When John Cale sings, “I was living my life like a Hollywood, but I was dying on the vine,” he is only making sense to folks who know of the street corner in Los Angeles.

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“I’ve been chasing ghosts and I don’t like it. I wish someone would show me where to draw the line. I’d lay down my sword if you would take it. And tell everyone back home I’m doing fine.”

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As I ride my bike to work on these fall days, I have been listening to a lot of tracks from the Gloaming, by Radiohead, an album inspired by fear of future and feelings of powerlessness. To create the album’s cover art, artist Stanley Donwood made lists of words and phrases drawn from roadside advertising in Los Angeles. In bottom right corner, are the words from the title of this post.

Yellow Leaves

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4 years ago, I took a photo of Etta by a tree, across from Wicker Park. The sidewalk was covered in golden leaves.

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Effie gets 5 gold stars for supporting her sister this weekend.

Chicago Architecture

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Chris said that the more we understand the design that surrounds us, the better it all gets. Merchandise Mart was the largest building in the world, as measured by floorspace, until being surpassed by the Pentagon.

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It got cold on the boat as we approached the Chicago Harbor Lock: I gave Effie my sweatshirt. There was sister to sister snuggling.

The Cruise

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On Sunday, Effie, Etta and I walked over the Grand Ave bridge to the Doughnut Vault. We got some doughnut holes at the vault, for the cruise.

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For the first time, I got on a boat in the Chicago River. We took the architectural tour on Chicago’s First Lady, run by the non-profit Chicago Architectural Foundation.

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Surprisingly, the docent who lead the 90 minute tour was an acquaintance of Etta. Chris, from nearby RR#1, an apothecary turned gift shop that carries Etta’s jewelry. He was a great bearded guide.

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