All Stars, No Moon

As I sip a cold mineral water with a splash of non-alcoholic rhubarb aperitif (bitter sweet) on the second floor landing of my temporary abode, I reflect on a strange moment of the evening. The last, quiet nights of summer hold a sad sweetness for me. I’ve written about two such nights already: Home Turf and Un Dolce Momento Triste; both special and unique and profound for me.

My father-in-law and his wife joined us at Victoria’s Pasta Shop in downtown Norman to commemorate the passing of a friend, by eating his favorite sandwich: the chicken parm sandwich–a chicken parm served on a cheesey baguette with a side of Norman’s best marinara. We shared our sweetness, sorrow, and laughter with each other. As the light began to fade on our patio table, we decided to pay the bill and take a stroll in the warm, evening air. While my father-in-law and my wife went to put some stuff in their cars, I stood in the back alley of the line of downtown shops and restaurants chitchatting with Linda about wanting the Norman Music Festival to return. We’d seen many bands near this alley over the last few years.

“You know it’s gonna rain tomorrow.”

We both turned to see who was speaking to us in such a low, gruff voice. He had a slightly rough appearance–dirty t-shirt, tan skin, ballcap, gray beard. The beard was the tidiest piece of his appearance. He was smoking a cigarette and smelled faintly of beer. I couldn’t gauge Linda’s response, but I was a little anxious about being approached by a stranger at night in an alleyway. I stole a glance back to the parking lot to see if the rest of our party was returning.

“Oh yeah?” I said, remembering that rain wasn’t in the forecast until next week…the day before fall, in fact. I gave him the benefit of the doubt. “Yeah, I heard there’s some rain on the way.”

“Yup. I woke up in the middle of the night last night, and saw stars, but no moon,” he continued. “The stars were as clear as could be. But no moon.”

Linda looked up to the south of us, over the roof of Victoria’s and pointed out the half moon. “Well there it is tonight.”

“Oh but it wasn’t there last night,” he said with easy certainty. “You watch. It’s gonna rain. Won’t be much, but it will rain.”

He stamped out his cigarette and began to walk back into the bar with his back to us, saying, “Yep, it’s gonna rain, and you can tell people I said so.”

“Ok then! Well I’m gonna hold you to it!” I shouted after him with good nature. “If it doesn’t, I’m gonna come find you!”

I’ve learned that street encounters like this are usually worth enduring a little unease for. I don’t know the basis of his science. Perhaps he was a farmer with folk methods. Perhaps he was just drunk, prone to storytelling. While writing this, I did look a the forecast–nothing but sunshine.

I believe in signs. I look for them in the difficult times of my life such as this week; losing a friend and losing my aunt. I don’t know if this is a sign for me or for just the rain or for the folly of a strange men in alleyways.

As I reflect, I am remembering a detail. When he approached, I thought I knew him. He looked vaguely like my friend who had just passed. If it were some spectral manifestation of him? I wonder what sign would he be giving me?

We’ve been looking to the moon and stars for signs as long as we’ve been a species. The stars to guide us, the moon to give us just enough light to make our way. And right now? I’m fumbling in the dark a bit. With grief, with indecision, with fatigue, with insecurity…no moon to the light my footsteps…and yet there are the stars giving me the tools to continue to move in the right directly even if a little clumsy–to what, I cannot say.

Perhaps there will be an inexplicable rain shower soon, but I don’t need it. I don’t need something to validate the mysteries and wonders and unknowable truths in my life. What I will remember is not whether it rained or not, but that a stranger in a sometimes lonely world wanted to give me a peek at his truth.

The Experience of Grief

A very special aunt died yesterday. We knew it was coming. Once it became inevitable and once her quality of life had deteriorated, we wished it to happen as quickly and as painlessly as possible. Everyone seems to be grieving healthily and beautifully. But what is grief? Why do we even have to experience it? This is one of those posts where I just have to work through something. I’m not sure where it will take me.

My favorite site in the world looks to various roots that involve the the words “heavy” and “burden”. That is the feeling, right? Grief feels very weighty. My heart, which can be light, is now heavy. And “sorrow” is another word associated. Sorrow, in terms of grief, seems to have a weight to it.

Then there is “bereave”, which is to have something taken away from you. So, when someone you are close to dies, you feel the weight of sorrow from having someone taken or separated from you.

Although I’m curious about the science behind this phenomenon, I’m not in a place to investigate anything on that level. I’m talking about the experience of grief.

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Almost Famous or He’s Finally Exhausted?

I am a perpetual, creative motion man. If I didn’t have a wife to spend time with and to let know that she’s important to me, I would probably write, make music, and code non-stop. It’s part of my bipolar disorder, but it’s also one of my innate qualities.

I’ve been in an intensive collaborative creative project for the last few months and will continue for a few months more. I am writing a podcast musical with a couple of songwriters. We just put out the first episode. It’s at the bottom of this post if you’d like to hear it. I did all the writing and the marketing and this Saturday I told my wife I was exhausted and in need of a break. Later that day, my wife got off the phone with her mother and said, “I was telling my mom about your project and that you were exhausted. She said, ‘He’s finally exhausted? I never thought that would happen!'”

It struck me as funny. I laughed at it. She’s a wonderful mother-in-law and likes to give a good ribbing from time to time, but it left me thinking. I know I’m exhausted, but am I exhaustING to other people? Is my perpetual motion a perpetual nuisance?

As someone who handles most of his own marketing, this is often a concern of mine. Are my friends just sick of it? Maybe less than I think, but I do think I can be a lot to take.

And what is at the core of all this nearly inexhaustible work ethic? Well, of course, I love writing; otherwise, I wouldn’t do it. I also believe in my writing. I think it’s worth reading, and I believe with the right visibility, my writing could catch on. I truly believe that it is a matter of time. This musical could be the lucky break. It’s a unique project that is getting a lot of play–much more than anything else I’ve written.

But I’m gonna be transparent with you. Deep down. What is this drive? I’m not even sure I know myself, but I often think about a party I attended in my twenties. My wife and I had formed a tight bond with a group of young couples from church. We called ourselves the DINKs (Double Income No Kids). It was such a fun group and was such a formative time for us all. At this party, a Cuban-born friend started doing a party trick: palm reading–something he’d learned from his abuela in Cuba.

With great interest, I watched him read a few palms. It was very entertaining and he frequently assured us that it was just a fun party trick and to not take it seriously. My wife went first. The only thing I remember is that her palm indicated that she would have a couple of other husbands on down the road. It’s been 27 years, and so far it’s just been me. Then it was my turn.

The party was starting to get boisterous. We were enjoying cocktails and munchies and had split into groups: the living room group, the kitchen group, and the palm reading group in the den. The lights were low and we were laughing and enjoying each other’s forecasts. My wife left her seat on the ottoman next to the chair Carlos was working from. He was a big man–tall, full-bodied–with a very neatly trimmed beard and a snappy haircut. He was a good speaker–quick-witted, engaging, smart.

He offered my hand and he put it in the palm of his own hand. The only light in the room was the lamp next to his chair. He turned my hand to the light and began tracing the lines of my palm–occasionally making sounds like “hmmm.” Every reading I’d watched was about relationships, children, and careers, but not mine.

He said, “Wow, David. This is really interesting. I’ve never seen anything quite like this.”

If my wife didn’t say it, I’m sure she thought it, “Heeeeeerrrrre we go. There is nothing ordinary about this man.”

He pointed to a longish line and said, “See this line? This is your fame line. David, in all the times I’ve been doing this yours is the longest fame line I’ve ever seen.”

I said, “Wow, really? You think I’m gonna be famous?”

He examined it a little closer and said, “Nope, but you’re going to be almost be famous.”

“What? What do you mean?”

“I couldn’t tell you, but I think that you’re gonna get very close several times.”

Jesus. Almost famous. That seems worse than not ever getting close to famous! I’m almost going to be famous?!

I think that on some level, that sparked a desire in me; a desire to conquer Fate. Doomed to be almost famous, and so far, my palm has not lied. In my musical and writing endeavors, I’ve been close to success—especially with writing. I believe that I am close to a hit blog, a hit book, or a hit musical. So close! Almost famous!!! ARRRRRRRGGGG!!!!

I can hear my wife saying, “Why does it matter? Just enjoy it. Why do you have to be famous?”

My answer is, “Well, I don’t have to be famous. I just want to be successful. I want my work to be acknowledged, read, enjoyed, and profitable.”

But to be totally honest? I wouldn’t turn down a little fame either.

E-Vatar Episode 3 – THIS IS E-BODY! E-VATAR – A Podcast Musical

Episode 3 – "This is E-Body!"  – In their E-Vatar, Taylen joins a new friend, Clarke, for a trip to the club exclusively for E-Vatars.In order of appearance:Narrator/Peyton – Sean RooneyTaylen – Thomas Farnan-WilliamsClarke – Sam BriggsMusic and Lyrics by Brian Eads and Gregg StandridgeBook by David Wilson-BurnsDirected by John Burns
  1. E-Vatar Episode 3 – THIS IS E-BODY!
  2. E-Vatar Episode 2 – A New World
  3. E-Vatar Episode 1 – Peyton, I'm Coming Home to You
  4. E-Vatar Season 1 Trailer