Archive for September, 2015

Dear Sonya: What a wonderful world

September 27th, 2015

Dear Sonya –

A few days ago, you mentioned sending out Iz Kamakawiwo’ole’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow to your friends. I sure needed it.

When Evan was tiny, not long home from NICU, he would wake often in the night, so I’d take him from the bassinet in my bed to the living room. I’d hold him on the couch and listen to Pandora’s lullaby station until he fell back asleep.

One of the more frequent songs there was, of course, Iz’s take on Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World. It worked like magic. Evan would lie still, quiet his crying, listen to the ukulele and near-whispered lyrics. Sometimes I’d play the song on repeat until he slept.

The song has magic. Iz was a huge man, beset by medical problems and (by some accounts) depression. Whether over his size or the pressures of performing, I don’t know, but I can believe Iz was low. The first part of the song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, is a search for solace. He is (and we are) looking for that one place we’ll finally find happiness.

And then comes What a Wonderful World, whisper-sung almost with exhaustion, but a satisfied exhaustion, an acceptance that the dreamworld of the first half doesn’t exist, but that this one isn’t so bad.

Ev grew, and while neither of us sleeps well, we left Somewhere behind.

Maybe two months ago, we were in a store when the song came on, and both of us stopped. Just… stopped. I watched Ev: He was still, his eyes far away, responding instinctively to a song he hadn’t heard in years.

It calmed him, just as your reminder of the song calms me now. I’m never going to find anyplace better, but maybe this isn’t so bad after all.

Thank you,


Like my letters? I wrote a whole bunch of them to the boy: Dear Evan.

And of course there’s weirdness afoot in the letters to Kitaree.

Kitaree: A new job, but some weirdness

September 25th, 2015

Hey, y’all –

It’s been a busy week in Kitaree.

A weird one, too. For me specifically, I guess, but… yeah, I had something very weird happen. First, though, I know you’re wondering about that job interview.

So like I said, the great state of Texas is contracting out the work of rebuilding Kitaree after this past spring’s storms tore the place apart. Why not, you know? I’ve actually been a little excited about the prospect of some good honest manual labor. Plus, summer is ending, so I figure it won’t be blazingly hot out.

Besides, who better to help out than the returned prodigal, you know?

Anyway, it was a nice morning, so I walked to the downtown square from the little trailer I’m renting out in the boonies. Kitaree’s not big, so it was an easy walk, even with the streets torn up. I mentioned some of the old haunts last week, but with Kitaree practically being rebuilt from the ground up, some new places are moving in. Mostly small Texas town stuff –some new B&Bs; at least two sort of “everything” stores, The Squared Circle and Farrah’s Finds, selling basically whatever salvage they found when folks fled; oddly enough, an upscale type bar called Mac’s. The Harvesters’ Hall still squats, ugly as ever, a block off the square. Thing’s basically a brick cube, hardly any windows, so it weathered the storm just fine.

Oh, I think I mentioned another new store last week, too: Christianson’s Antiques. That was new to me, but apparently it opened before everything went to hell.

That’s where the interview was, which I guess isn’t as odd as it seems. We’ve got a premium on usable space around here right now, you know? So that’s where I met Mr. Neko.

Darcel, if you still have a celeb crush on Will Yun Lee, you’d have been all over this guy. Plus I think he owned the place, so, you know, rich? Dressed rich: black suit, black tie. I’ll admit, I was intimidated.

It helped that Deputy Once — arggh, again, *Helen* — was there at the start. She works at the shop now. I think she runs it for this guy. It’s an odd situation, but maybe he just bought up a bunch of cheap real estate after the storm? I didn’t ask.

So, Helen made introductions, and we were off. Honestly, it wasn’t anything exciting. Dude would ask questions, and then just stare while I answered. And after. And until I got uncomfortable. And then he’d ask something else. Lather rinse repeat, creepily.

I got the job. Dude told me right then and there, which was refreshing. The corporate world is so much sitting around and waiting, you know? Not here. Boom. You start next week. Thanks for coming.

I promised weirdness, so here it is: I got lost on the way home.

Stop laughing. Yeah, it’s been a few years (oof, or more) since I left Kitaree, and pretty much the entire town is under construction, but still… streets are streets, right? Except when they go *different* places.

I mean, whole town’s maybe a couple of miles across in each direction, just a glorified clearing carved out of the Ashton National Forest Preserve. The trailer I’m renting is right at the treeline, so really I could’ve just walked in a straight line and then followed the edge of town.

Still, once I got a few blocks from the downtown square, I lost track of where I was. With the streets shut down in places, I was sort of zig-zagging, and I took a couple of shortcuts between the buildings, and then they all started to look unfamiliar. And the street names, too: Locust? Anoura? Apophis? I’d have remembered those, and no way are the streets in decent enough shape to merit being renamed already.

It’s a weird feeling, panicking in bright daylight, in a town so small I could eventually just hit the edge and circle around. But it was quiet except for the hum of cicadas, and nobody else was out, and the sky was… it was too bright for mid-evening. It felt *wrong*.

The cicadas, too. That buzzing rattled me like a dentist’s drill. It and the sun and the heat had me light-headed. The air felt *thin*. Sweat soaked my nice dress shirt.

I ran. I did. I ran to the next block, and the next. I should’ve stopped and made sure I was headed toward the edge of town, but I’ll be honest: I just took off and let my feet take me where they would. I just wanted as far away from that buzzing as I could get.

At some point, the bigger houses gave way to smaller houses, and then to tumbledown lots and what could generously be called shacks, and I realized I knew where I was. I wasn’t anywhere near where I needed to be, but I knew how to get there. My heart slowed to a steady pound. I was okay. I was safe.

So. Weird, right? Now I don’t know. Maybe it was just being back in Kitaree, considering everything that happened before I left.

Anyway. Off to sleep. Next week I start the new gig. Wish me luck!

It’s been a busy week in Kitaree

September 18th, 2015

Hi, friends –

It’s been a busy week in Kitaree.

The town’s still rebuilding from this spring’s freak storms. There’s a constant hum over Kitaree, a buzz of power tools and construction equipment that sometimes goes late into the night. It’s comforting, almost, and almost makes up for the lack of cricket song.

Some folks complain that the hum lasts all night, keeps them from sleeping, but it’s got to happen. The storm blew trees from the Ashton forest preserve as far in as the downtown square. Dragged them through the streets, too, judging by the odd marks. Don’t believe a certain Web site (which shall remain nameless) that claims those are drag marks, that the trees somehow crawled through the streets. People saw — or mis-saw? misunderstood what they saw? — a lot of weird things in the dark and the wind.

Still, those damn trees tore up the streets. The town’s been rebuilding almost from the ground up. You’d barely recognize it anymore. Sorry to say, Jules, that the Yellow Rose burned down a few days after the storm. You’ll need to find somewhere else to stay next trip down.

I think you were right, Jennie, about Sheriff Frederickson and his deputy. (Former deputy, now! She quit after the storm and is running some antiques shop on the downtown square.) I caught both of them at Ruby’s Diner. They weren’t together, but they were making eyes like nobody’s business. Deputy Once — ugh, sorry, just Helen now — got her order to go and got out of there before I saw them actually say anything. Pretty sad. Chev looked so sad, I figured he’d go after her, but he sat and nursed a coffee for a while before cashing out and hopping into his nice new Sheriffmobile.

Ruby’s is fine, by the way, but the courthouse is all sorts of messed up. The storm dragged all of the trees here, like the courthouse was the middle of the tornado or the… I don’t know, whatever’s the opposite of the eye of a storm. It’s been months, and guys are still cutting branches free of the windows. They were shoved in there really good, like the trees were trying to get inside out of the wind.

That’s good news for underemployed folks like yours truly, by the way. The state’s contracting out all sorts of cleanup work, so I’m going in for an interview today. Yeah, it’s grunt work, hardly making use of my college education, but a paycheck’s a paycheck at this point. And hey, Kitaree needs me.

I’ll write more later. Keep your fingers crossed!

Remembering Doug Bastianelli, five years on

September 16th, 2015

Five years, Doug.

This is supposed to be where you look down on me from the Great Big Pub in the Sky and smile wisely and see I’ve done well, right? I think that’s how this works.

So why isn’t it working? Five years. Tara’s off in Australia, giving Realtors the kind of speeches you get to deliver through a little ear-microphone. Jenny Calligan is beautiful as ever, but I only see her through Facebook photos. Stacey left Chicago for Colorado, and again, Facebook is keeping us in contact, but she seems to be doing well. Joe is a divorce lawyer somewhere; somehow I got on his e-mail newsletter list. Hell, even the Dark Horse got sold to new folks.

Ev’s doing great. I call him Evvie Doug pretty much all the time, which I know would get out of you one of those loud, head-thrown-back guffaws. He’s incredibly intelligent, incredibly verbose. Plays with Lego all the time. Creates his own mighty machines. I wish you’d had a chance to play with him. I just know you’d be down on the floor in his toy area, laughing while he showed off his creations.

I got lost somewhere in there. I go to work, I come home 12 hours later, I play with the boy, I maybe have 30 minutes to myself after bedtime, and then I fall asleep. I don’t have friends. I don’t have a bar that I can walk to, that I can use as a launching point for our adventures.

Maybe that’s okay. Maybe I had my time, and now I can just let go and be a wallet and a chauffeur and work on your namesake instead of myself.

I don’t know. It’s lonely, you know? I miss your friendship, and your perspective, and your laugh.