Other People’s Deaths

I’m writing this on St. Patrick’s Day, the one that this year might as well be dedicated to the patron saint of warding off COVID-19, the one where all the pubs and restaurants are closed in Ireland and Boston and a lot of other places, including, starting today, in Austin, where I live. It’s the first flush of Coronapalooza in the USA, as public life shuts down piece by piece and the world closes in on itself, people facing the undeniable reality that life has changed. I suppose that given the Irish fascination with death and tragedy some might think it an appropriate season, but I could do without it.

For a recently remarried widower like myself, it begs the question: How many new normals can one take? On an extremely micro level (me sitting on the couch posting this blog), it at least adds a certain impetus to the writing: Get it done now — you totally blew off the New Year’s Day post, which in retrospect was just as well, but, hey, events are happening. Really interesting events, too.

At my local supermarket today, the semi-zombie apocalypse had definitely arrived. It was the first time I’d seen the place completely bare of potatoes, onions and garlic (to ward off demons?), along with most cheese, cereal, pizza, bottled water, canned soup, and, of course, paper products. I did score a bag of frozen hash browns and a notepad.

This will be a long spring break, probably stretching into summer. At the moment the boys’ high school is slated to resume classes April 6, though I wouldn’t bet on it. As the parent of two ninth graders, one of them nonverbal and autistic, I wonder how I’ll manage to keep them occupied over the long weeks at home. My warm and caring wife, the second Mrs. Pogoer, whom I married in November after a lengthy engagement, works in rehab care at a facility for elderly patients, and I worry about both her possible exposure to the virus and the fate of her patients. And on top of this my dad has a big 90th birthday party scheduled in June in Florida and I wonder if that’s going to happen. We’re not buying our airline tickets just yet.

As someone for whom music has always held outsized importance, the vanishing of live concerts, along with all other types of live performance outside of online streaming, particularly hurts. As a freelance arts writer, it certainly impacts my livelihood when there’s not much around to write about other than “how are you coping with the shutdown” and what’s on TV (and although I’ve never remotely wanted to be a sportswriter, I feel for them too), but I realize that for most people, the livelihood of touring musicians — much less, the people who write about them — is pretty far down on their list of concerns. The performers I’m connected with on Facebook seem resigned to the current circumstances, but sane and steadfast, as most songwriters, in my experience, are.

Inevitably, I revive a snippet of a “song” that I came up with a long time ago, maybe even back in my teenage days:

Now that you’ve become infected,

Is it all that you expected?

Now that you’ve become infected, baybee…

That’s all there is of that. Just as well. I’m not that self-delusional.

I recently began singing lessons at a local music school. I have a decent voice that very few people have ever heard, and I want to learn how to use it properly. My teacher is a woman near my age who has performed in local bands since at least the ’80s and though our tastes in music don’t much align, she’s helping me slowly refine my technique as I work my way through the likes of “Three Coins in a Fountain” and Nick Lowe’s “Heart.” Though I like punk and alternative as much as anyone, as a performer I skew towards Sinatra. They’re switching to Skype after the break. Sigh.

Anyway, let me tell you about my dear departed friend Orsi from Romania.

I met Orsi — short for Orsolya, her actual name — during a trip I took in the summer of 1998 with Outward Bound Romania, which I’ve written about before on my previous website. At home among her peers, a group of mainly ethnic teenage Hungarians from Romania, Orsi was, I wrote, “a spirited, very bright 16-year-old girl with a ready smile, who spoke at least four languages (including quite fluent American-accented English) and sported a USA/California baseball cap.” She was cheerful and brilliant and was curious about me, and we ended up having meaningful conversations about languages, countries and cultures. We kept in touch after the adventure and met up in Budapest three years later to tour the city (it’s the Brooklyn of Central Europe), and over the years connected via Facebook. Orsi eventually married and had a child, and I sent her messages pretending surprise that she was of legal drinking age.

Then one night last October, Orsi went to sleep and never woke up. (I don’t know what happened; I never asked.) Her husband posted the news on Orsi’s Facebook page, to a chorus of laments in Hungarian and Romanian. She was just 38, and left behind her husband and a four-year-old son.

I sent a letter of condolence to her husband in Targu Mures. I didn’t expect to hear anything back, but at the end of February I received a response in broken English, thanking me for the letter, sending best regards and telling me that I was a “special friend” to her. He enclosed a photo of the smiling family, now shattered.

Orsi’s death really bothered me, still does. The usual questions — why? And the gut reactions — “No, this can’t be right. This isn’t right. I have to fix it” — happen, too. But in the end there’s little to do but fall back on the usual mandatory sorryforyourlossness.

Then I have to remind myself: No, this is not my fault.

With Orsi in Budapest, 2001

Inevitably, the deaths of friends, and even relatives of friends and friends of friends, people you don’t know personally, resonate back to the death of my wife Donna, now over four years in the past. It all comes back. The widower thing.

The silence in the house.

The feeling (overwhelming and constant), when the boys get home from school, that everything is wrong.

You feel in your bones the universe telling you: Your life is over.

And, for a very long time, it is.

Until, if you’re very lucky, it isn’t.

So, how are things these days? Aside from the coronavirus thing, pretty good. I’m happy. I have a healthy sense of self-esteem, and carry the confidence which comes with knowing one is well loved. I contribute to the world, in my way.

Last year, the then-Fiancee and I went to our local Alamo Drafthouse (may it reopen soon) for a late afternoon screening of Mary Poppins Returns. It wasn’t as good as the original, not that we expected it to be and the songs were meh, and we weren’t five-year-olds anymore, but it was a delicious nostalgia bath and it made me miss my mother (who took me to the original, the first movie I remember seeing in a theater) as well as Donna, and it was good to have the Fiancee sitting next to me squeezing my hand. 

Things are good now. But some people that I loved remain dead. The eternal tug between life and death goes on, whether or not a plague is raging outside the front door.

We fight to preserve life, even if we believe the soul lives on after death. Because we go with what we know.

Saints preserve us.

And now for the d’var Torah for Shemot

(Parsha Shemot, the 13th weekly Torah portion. Exodus 1:1 – 6:1)

You don’t have to be ­­­­Jewish, or even have read the Bible, to know the tales told in the 13th weekly Torah portion, Parsha Shemot. It’s Exodus, Jack. It’s the origin story of Moses. You know, the stuff from the Passover Haggadah. It’s about how the Israelites became slaves in Egypt, and the hiding and rescuing of the baby Moses. It tells how Moses killed an Egyptian taskmaster who he saw beating an Israelite slave, then fled to the land of Midian; the prototypical Jewish outsider, raised in a blended family, unsure of his true identity. God calls to Moses from the burning bush, and finally Moses confronts Pharaoh after extensive discussions with God, including the CGI parlor trick with his staff being turned into a snake and back again, and plans the escape from Egypt – tune in next week, same Mosaic time, same Mosaic channel. 

It’s the Hollywood version of the Bible. Specifically, roughly the first half of the 1956 movie “The Ten Commandments” (which, by the way, is not something you should rely on as a source of either Talmudic scholarship or historical accuracy).

Shemot means “names,” and it begins by listing the names of “the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob,” that is, the founders of the 12 tribes of Israel, minus Joseph. 

The Israelites were fruitful and multiplied in Egypt, until a new Pharaoh arose who did not know Joseph, and his good governance. As we know, Joseph’s resume included becoming second in command to Pharaoh, actually saving the country from starvation after the seven years of plenty turned to seven years of famine. However: New Pharaoh, who dis? The new ruler saw the Israelites as a threat. Rachel Barenblat, who blogs as the Velveteen Rabbi, writes that the new Pharaoh may have conveniently chosen to forget the Joseph story because it didn’t fit his narrative of seeing the Israelites as a fifth column, a threat to the nation. Strangers. Immigrants, who breed like insects or rats. Sound familiar? Pharaoh ended up basically running a proto- concentration camp for the Israelites, working and starving them to death.

However Moses-centric this parsha seems, you can’t get into these chapters without discussing the prominent, indeed indispensable, role of women in facilitating his survival and rise. Begin with Pharaoh’s directive to two midwives, Shifrah and Puah, to put to death newborn male Israelite babies, while sparing the females. Barenblat writes, “Biblical women often don’t get names, but these two do — which I think is relevant in this, the book of ‘Names.’ Pharaoh tells them to kill all of the Israelite boys, but they have awe of God, so they disobey.”

Then there are the roles played by two other very important women in Moses’ life: his adopted mother Batyah, or Bithia, Pharaoh’s daughter, and his wife Zipporah. 

Batyah, the one who drew Moses from the river, knew he was an Israelite and wanted Moses to know his heritage. Talmudic tradition says Batyah was actually at the river to cleanse herself from the idolatry of her father’s house, and later married an Israelite and converted to his faith. Who knows for sure? In some stories she even got to ascend to heaven while still alive, which you’ve got to admit is a neat trick.

To fast forward, Moses marries Zipporah and they have two sons, first Gershom, and then Eliezer. Zipporah was the daughter of Jethro, or Yitro, a Midianite priest. So Moses and Zipporah were an early interfaith couple – There doesn’t seem to be any midrash that says she converted to the Jewish faith, although some Torah scholars just assume she did so at some point because, you know, Moses. So, we have two women, one a convert to Judaism and one likely of another faith, playing absolutely crucial roles in Moses’s life. 

And this brings us to a notoriously odd and perplexing passage in the parsha. God has just appeared to Moses at the burning bush and announced His plan to liberate the Israelites. God chooses Moses as his prophet, the one to lead his people out of Egypt. He says goodbye to his father-in-law, Jethro, and heads back, with Zipporah and the kids, to the land of his birth. Jethro gives them his blessing: “Go in peace. Send me a postcard from Egypt.”

So they gather their things, load up the SUV, and head out. But then, in the middle of their first night on the road, we’re suddenly confronted with this mysterious episode:

On the trip, at an overnight campsite, it happened that the Lord confronted him and sought to put him to death.  So Zipporah took a flint, cut off her son’s foreskin, and threw it at Moses’ feet. Then she said, “You are a bridegroom of blood, chatan damim, to me!”  So God let him alone. 

As a side note, if you accept that the word “feet” is actually a euphemism for genitalia – as is occasionally the case in the Bible – you end up with the image, as one website puts it, of Zipporah “throwing her son’s freshly circumcised foreskin at her husband’s penis to win an argument with God.” You didn’t see that in the Ten Commandments movie. 

So what’s going on here? Why would God want to put Moses, his newly chosen leader of the Israelites, to death for the seemingly minor matter of not circumcising his son? Also, because the pronouns aren’t clear, the text may be saying that God intended to kill Moses’s son for not being circumcised. Many scholars point out that this event foretells the slaying of the Egyptian firstborn sons. 

Why did Zipporah cut off her son’s foreskin and then react in this seemingly melodramatic way? No matter how you slice it, so to speak, this is some weird stuff. It seems like we’re not getting the whole story.

For the Modern Orthodox rabbi Dov Linzer, the focus on blood is a key component to understanding the passage. He assumes that Moses’s son was the one at risk from God’s anger, and points out this is the only time in the entire Torah that blood is associated with circumcision. Indeed, he writes, it was not just the being in the house that saved the Israelites, it was the blood of the Pesach – a sacrifice linked to circumcision – that was placed on the doorposts. And it was the blood of circumcision that saved Moses’s son (a point also noted by the medieval scholar Ibn Ezra). 

Another contemporary Modern Orthodox scholar, Rabbi David Kasher, has what is for me the most interesting take on this whole business. Kasher suggests that God wasn’t threatening the life of either Moses or Eliezer but the older son, Gershom. Since Gershom was older, shouldn’t he have been circumcised by then? Maybe not. 

According to one midrashic tradition, the Mekhilta of Rabbi Ishmael, there was a prior arrangement between Moses and his father-in-law, Jethro, that might have kept Gershom from being circumcised. Quote:

When Moses asked Jethro to marry Zipporah, Jethro replied, “If you accept one condition, then I will let you marry her.” He said, “What is it?” He replied, “The first son that you have shall be dedicated to idolatry. Any other sons you have can be dedicated to the Heavenly Name.” And Moses accepted it.

Say what? This contradicts all kinds of traditional assumptions about these characters. Was Jethro that intolerant? And was Moses so easily swayed that he was willing to give his firstborn son over to idolatry?

These might be considered outrageous claims, except that they do make sense of some other details in the story. We know that Jethro was called a “Midianite Priest,” so he certainly had some serious religious commitments of his own. Also consider that the name Gershom bears the meaning of ‘exile’ or ‘being a stranger’ – like father, like son?

But beyond this, the idea that Moses had handed his firstborn son over to idolatry gives us a much more compelling motivation for the attack on the road to Egypt – whether it was Moses or his son who was being threatened. The notion that Moses would be heading back to represent God, to do battle with a deified dictator and his necromancers, but to be secretly harboring a child dedicated to the same dark forces – this was unacceptable. It was an insult, a betrayal, Kasher writes – an offense God would not tolerate.

This hypothesis also makes sense of the placement of the night-camp episode in the midst of the larger narrative. Because it so happens that the last thing God says to Moses, just before he leaves for Egypt, is all about firstborns:

You shall say to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord: Israel is my firstborn child. I have said to you, let my firstborn go, so that he may worship Me. But you refuse to let him go. So I will kill your firstborn son.”

God is pointing ahead to the end of this battle, the final plague: the killing of all the firstborn sons in Egypt. This terrible devastation will end the war, but at great cost. It is almost too great a punishment, and God is only able to justify it because, He says, “Israel is my firstborn child.” As you have afflicted my firstborn, so I shall afflict yours.

Ultimately, Moses must answer the question. Who are his people? He grew up half-Israelite, half-Egyptian. And then, when those identities came into conflict, and he was forced to choose, instead he fled the country. He married a foreign woman. He became a stranger in a strange land. And perhaps, when he had children, he thought he could split the difference, dedicating each child to a different god, and to a different part of himself.

But you can’t play both sides. God will not allow it. Zipporah knows it. Even Pharaoh calls it into question. “Who is the Lord,” he will ask, “that I should heed Him?” Who are your people, that I should let them go?

Who are your people, Moses? writes Kasher. Who are you? It’s time to decide.

In the end, it comes down to this: if you’re circumcised like a Hebrew, you can’t walk like an Egyptian.

###

Happiest of birthdays, or: To Heck and Back

Yesterday was my birthday, one of those ending in a zero, of which this was the sixth such in my life if you don’t count the actual date of my birth. (Apropos of which, why don’t more people sing “Happy Birthday to You” on the day their children are born? Donna and I did, back in 2005. If you have the opportunity to do so, try it; it’s kind of fun.)

OK, I’m old. That’s what much of the world wants me to say, right? I don’t feel old, but I suppose I am, as they say, not a kid anymore. Nor, to be honest, do I want to be. My feelings about birthdays have long been mixed (take this post, for example), but I’ll take this one standing up. “It beats being dead,” people around my age commonly say around their birthdays (of course, nobody who says this has yet died, so how do they know?).

No, but really. Having been through…some…stuff myself, as people my age tend to have been, I have to say I have a special liking for other people who have been through…some…stuff themselves, not necessarily the same stuff, but some…stuff in general. I don’t want to raise the banner of Barry Manilow, king of cheese, but I’ve been thinking of his old song “I Made It Through The Rain.” Yes, I did, Barry, but the point is, after I got rained on I didn’t keep my world protected and I didn’t keep my point of view. That’s what distinguishes me from those who haven’t been rained on yet. Call me. We’ll talk.

On the afternoon of my birthday the Fiancee and I went to the Celis Brewery’s 2nd anniversary party (fitting, since 20 years ago I spent my 40th birthday at the Beer and Flowers Festival in Laško, Slovenia). I’m calling it a Chapter 11 party, since the owner, Christine Celis, recently declared bankruptcy in order to keep operations going. Wise move, Christine, and better times ahead. Drink ’em if you got ’em. I’ve had better than the pomegranate witbier, but it wasn’t bad, and points for creativity.

Does Carole King have a monopoly on the metaphor of life being a tapestry of multicolored disparate threads? (Mine would be broken and tied back together inexpertly in places, but it would be serviceable.) There are a lot of things I don’t know about — being a drug addict or alcoholic, being the child of abusive parents, spending years in prison, being a touring singer-songwriter — but these are among the things I have experienced in my life:

Being the son of a German Jewish Holocaust survivor.

Being the parent of an autistic child.

Being a widower, of about three and a half years’ standing at this point.

Being an expat, having lived for about five years in lovely Slovenia.

And what have I learned from all these experiences?

Being the son of a Holocaust survivor has taught me to not have any patience for governments who put children (and adults) in concentration camps on the border.

Being the father of an autistic child has taught me to have respect for people of different abilities, and to see potential in unlikely places.

Being an expat has widened my view of international cultures and also of the possibility of living successfully and happily in different lands, among different peoples, and not limiting myself to my home country as the be-all and end-all (don’t get me started on that).

And being a widower on the verge of his second marriage? Among many other things, there’s this positive: It’s opened my eyes and heart to the knowledge that love is infinitely expandable, love is love, and in the words of the old TV theme song, love is indeed all around.

There was one other thing I did on my birthday that I’d like to note: In the early afternoon I walked down to my neighborhood park with my children and the Fiancee, and placed a bouquet of roses there, in colors mirroring the flowers at our wedding (she was partial to a rich orange hue).

Because yesterday would have been her birthday too.

We were born eight minutes apart, after all.

I don’t want to go back, and let us not speak of moving on. But we do go forward, all of us, until the point where we all meet up again, at the gates of Heck.

Thoughts on ‘Your Band Sucks’

Just finished reading Your Band Sucks: What I Saw At Indie Rock’s Failed Revolution (But Can No Longer Hear), by Jon Fine, in which he chronicles his life performing in obscure post-hardcore indie cult bands, most notably Bitch Magnet, in the latter half of  the ‘80s, and a reunion tour in 2011-12. (The book came out in 2015 but it’s new to me, so whaddaya want.) Aside from his present status as a minor duke of media, the guy is a bona fide music obsessive and writes with commendable detail, wit, and clarity about the fine mechanics of being in such endeavors, from the intricacies of tuning a guitar to the interpersonal dynamics of endless road trips in a van with two or three other people (who you love even though you often can’t stand them).

How Fine translates the odd music in his head to something he and his bandmates create on a stage of a cruddy club, whether or not anyone else appreciates it, is the book’s real subject, and he does a decent job of explaining the outsider rage that directed his musical compass to a magnetic North of dissonant noise. It’s not that my musical taste aligns perfectly with Fine’s – far from it – but the book is a welcome change from the typical rock-star autobiography filled with tales of drug abuse, debauchery, and celebrities encountered along the way. Rather, it’s about a low-level, bare-subsistance lifestyle and the network of fellow musicians, fans, and fellow travelers that made it possible for a brief few years (I don’t know Fine personally but we inevitably have only a couple of degrees of separation between us). The last few chapters, about the unlikely reunion in middle age, is as sweet as alternative rock culture gets. To give him the last word, “You may have a complicated relationship with the culture that unorphaned you, but it isn’t easily forgotten.”

Facebook Status, August 19

Out with
The future second wife
At my now favorite
Local Late Boomers/Generation Jones
downtown watering hole
The Townsend
Tonight featuring
The age-appropriate and exemplary musicians
Kathryn Valentine and Peter Livingston Holsapple
(the former, an investor in this joint)
An ex-Go-Go and an ex-dB
Proving there is life beyond both
As indeed there is for me
Not forgetting what went before
(And indeed, playing some of it)
But alert to what may yet come
And what’s going on right now
They’re biting and alive, with joy in their eyes
New bands, new relationships, new pages
Doesn’t matter how old you are
Always reconfiguring and recombining
New chords and time signatures
Working that thing one more time
Because that’s what we do
I include myself, out there in the audience
With phrases, ideas popping into my head as usual
Maybe useful in the end, maybe not
But I’ve got a cocktail in my hand and a smile creasing my face
I’m just grateful to be here
And I’d say everyone else in the room is too.

A Nalepka Noir Novelette

Here it is, the longest piece of fiction I’ve ever written;zmajbigNALEPKE a comic noir novelette, complete, unabridged, with special-edition DVD-only extras, hot off the WordPress. Fair warning: there are a lot of in-jokes, puns, and references that only people familiar with Slovenia and Ljubljana will get, but I hope the rest of you will find something there of value. If nothing else, it’s original and it is My Thing. Access is free, but there is a button to donate something via GoFundMe if the spirit moves you. If you like it, share. And enjoy.

That URL again:

https://themesecnikfiles.wordpress.com/

Things to Do in Denver When You’re Alive

Writer Square b&w

Strangers in a strange land

[Nearly six months later]

Transitions, transitions…

I am on my first plane ride in nearly eight years, a direct flight to Denver, a city I’ve never been to. I am traveling with my younger son, K. (not his real initial)*, the nonverbal special-needs kid with the autism diagnosis. It is his first plane ride ever, and I have no idea how he will react. My other kid, M. (also not his real initial), the budding animator and stand-up comic, is visiting the grandparents in Florida.

It is my birthday, and I’m in no mood to reflect on my age. If I’d entered incipient oldcrockitude, by cracky, I was going to fight it with every fiber of my damn being, mainly by ignoring how old I am.

For various reasons I will be going back and forth to the airport a great deal this month, both on my behalf and my sons’. No, I’m not on tour; and if I were, exactly what kind of show would I be putting on for the good people (that’s “people” to rhyme with “monopoly”) of the Colorado metropolis anyway? Would it involve snappy patter, jazz hands, dry ice, broken glass strewn across the stage, strategically placed yams, a drum machine, and a big showstopping finale featuring the flags of the Baltic states? Yeah, let’s go with that.

My last flight was in 2009, when I traveled to Germany for a ceremony related to my family’s experiences in the Holocaust. After a hellish year, which I’ve chronicled on this blog, following the death of my wife in January of 2016, I felt lighter and more optimistic than I had in ages. At least on a personal level, I had the definite sense of an upward arc trending. (In the wider world, let’s just say “very interesting times.”)

The Denver trip was a short city break courtesy of the fiancee, who had some extra miles on good ol’ non-reclining-seat, everything-extra budget airbus Frontier to dump in a hurry and couldn’t take time off from work herself. Yes, I am engaged to be, eventually, married again. Life is odd. Unlike my encounter with Mrs. Pogoer, this one began as prosaically as you can get, with a casual coffee date. Unlike my fellow widower celebrity doppelganger Patton Oswalt, I received absolutely no negative feedback for this. At least to my face, everyone, including Donna’s relatives, has been nothing but supportive: Congratulations, I’m very happy for you. As it should be. Love, as they say, is infinitely expandable.

I look around at my fellow passengers and am struck by a sense of common humanity. I like and sympathize with them all. We’re on the same journey.

My fears about K.’s reactions to flight are, no pun intended, groundless. The kid just likes to be in motion, whether he’s walking, on a train, in a car, or on a nonstop flight to the Mile High City. He sits like an angel for the duration, looking out the window.

While M. bonds with the grandparents, I do my best to bond further with this inscrutable 12-year-old, the boy who likes to listen to the same parts of the same video over and over again throughout the day, who likes to put things together and take them apart, a born engineer, smarter and more capable than almost everyone knows. His family, and a few blessed teachers, know.

K. is game to go with me almost everywhere. I check into a cozy basement Airbnb flat on the northern edge of the Capitol Hill neighborhood downtown, and we explore, walking, Ubering and Lyfting, for two very full days. We go to the Molly Brown House, a well-touristed home restored to its 1910-ish glory, where we’re immediately told that her name was Margaret and that movie with Debbie Reynolds was only about 3 percent true. I love the place, K. doesn’t. Onward.

K. Is game enough for almost all our other urban explorations. We visit the State Capitol and eat at the Delectable Egg (a breakfast joint where I get the inevitable Denver omelette in situ) and a pizzeria called Brik on York and a hipster joint on South Broadway called Sputnik. I went to Sputnik immediately after spending six hours with K. walking the 80-acre Denver Zoo, a fine but exhausting place where we got our fill of giraffes, elephants, a gorilla family group, polar and brown bears, Komodo dragons, lions, red pandas, black rhinos, zebras, hippos, and overpriced mediocre zoo pizza.

Sputnik is next door to the Hi-Dive rock club and across the street from a fantastic place called the Mutiny Information Cafe, which gave me the impression of stepping across the threshold into 1987 Allston, Mass., with its vast collections of used books, LPs, cassettes, comics, rude punkish buttons, and actual paper zines for sale. Oh, and coffee, and a snarky savant of a barista/clerk/know-it-all who clearly wasn’t taking anything from anyone except money. K. and I were both exhausted at that point, but I was on a second wind from the discovery of such a place and the kid really didn’t care, so that was that.

We fly home. For me at least, the magic dust is gone. It’s not eight years now since I last flew, just three days. My fellow passengers are just people again, some annoying as hell, especially the overweight, middle-aged guy who spends at least 20 minutes at the boarding gate barking into an earpiece to a staffer at his tech company that his team doesn’t know what it’s doing, and he’s going to escalate.

Still, he doesn’t come close to ruining the trip. Even pessimists have to agree: Sometimes things go right.

And K. doesn’t mind it a bit. He sits peacefully throughout the flight, contemplating the clouds.

Beyond the sundown mural

One of eight 1940 murals in the first-floor rotunda of the Colorado State Capitol, this one contemplating the future. “Beyond the sundown is Tomorrow’s Wisdom/today is going to be long ago”

 

*in-joke tribute to a late former editor of mine in the Boston days
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