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June 15th, 2002

step back in time, step forward in time

I write this post on my parents' computer on what must be one of the slowest connections to the internet since 2400 bauds. Yesterday I finally got two hours of sleep, then did two important meetings, and then hit the road to Arkansas. My parents live in the 14,000 person town of Camden. The postman who lobbied to get the words "In God We Trust" placed on the coins lived in Camden. I could not describe the town better than in that sentence.

A family friend allowed our family to use his gorgeous ante-bellum home for my sister's wedding. Her fiance's family, from Oklahoma, is into horses, so the wedding was an informal wedding with western attire encouraged. I don't have a bolo or ostrich skin boots, so I worried about being misplaced, but fortunately,
"western attire" did not receive any of its more outre interpretations among the guests.

The wedding was attended only by family and a very few friends. The living room of the home had a large "square grand piano" (I/'d never seen such a curious thing before), upon which were placed a Bible (open to the 23rd Psalm--"the Lord is My Shepherd"), huge pots of green caladium leaves, five candles gently burning,
and some antique roses. The bride wore a simple white tea dress; the groom and his father wore jeans and matching western shirts. The minister wore a curious suit that was neither quite a Sunday go to meeting suit nor westernwear.
He was a handsome, earnest fellow. Although I am in the main hormonally impaired to assess male beauty, I do believe that if he hadn't been called to charismatic ministry, he might have carved out a career for himself in charismatic sin.

The wedding was simple and beautiful. No music, no homily about how it is better to marry than to burn, and no trains of people walking about in clothes they buy for just one use. I wish I could say the wedding clean-up was also simple,
but life is not quite *that* romantic.

After the wedding, my brother's fourteen year old son filled me in on all the latest adventures in his Dungeons and Dragons role playing game. I have a strong nodding acquaintance with the game,though I've not played in years,
so I appreciatively joined in with observations in response to his lectures about the differences between dragons with high hit point counts and transmogrified worms with the same hit point counts, the problems of trying to defend yourself by torching a forest when one of the pilgrims in your party is a druid mage (curiously, I run into similar problems sometimes in real life),and what happened to the pixie-thief in their party. The juxtaposition, sitting in a colonial home amid period antiques
listening to somewhat post-modern role playing fantasy game tales was almost lost on me, as I was lost in the moment
Lately I find myself using the emoticon :), even though I have a mild disdain for emoticons.
Today I realized that sometimes life is lived in upbeat
emoticons--

I am one of those people blessed with two parents and two siblings whom I very much love and who very much love me. I hesitate to even write the preceding sentence, because I know not everyone has my good fortune, and to talk of good things somehow seems
to some deep superstitious part of me like a way to invite bad things to happen. I remember as a child being told never to mention a new family car purchase, because nothing is less desirable than appearing to have material good fortune. This is good thinking, a modesty of which I wholeheartedly approve, but if I cannot revel in happiness in my journal, where can I?

My brother and I sat with my dad this morning on our parents' front steps talking about my dad's civil war swords and his grandchildren (my brother and my sister each have children), and it just felt so down to earth and so *right*. Then my wife, my mother and I sat in our dining room doing that very southern kind of visitin', in which one discusses the histories of folks from my folks' little home town, in a fairly non-gossippy, life's rich pageant kind of way.

Then we hit the road for the 4 1/2 hour trip back to our suburb of Allen in Texas. The fields were yellow with black eyed susan flowers throughout our drive. We made very good time, through light traffic, and now we're comfortably home. I arrived exhausted but happy.

I arrived home to the most satisfying mail day of my entire life. gregwest98 sent me a Tulsa postcard of praying Oral Robertseque hands that was simply priceless. He also sent me an e mail that one of his wonderful photos is winging its way to me.
I am so excited at this good fortune. nacowafer mailed me a CP Snow book, the Two Cultures, as part of a book exchange. CP Snow is one of my most favorite authors--his Strangers and Brothers series of 11 novels really resonates for me--in fact, it's time for another re-read. The Two Cultures, about the disconnect between science types and liberal arts types, is particularly interesting for me, as I took my initial degree in physics but ended up being an attorney. I've always felt that I am at home in neither the world of the scientists nor the world of the liberal arts folks, so a book about this divide interests this particular straddler intensely. I've read it, or most of it, before from the library, but I've never owned a copy. I was so glad to see it offered for exchange, am grateful to nacowafer for posting it, and so proud of myself for having already mailed my own part of the book exchange
in a package on Friday. I got a blank notebook from the woman in Tennesse with whom I'm doing a poem exchange for nervousness.org. After reading so many horror stories of exchanges that didn't work out,
I'm so glad this one is....but I still have verse to write and a rather odd looking notebook to decorate.
I still have one nervousness.org exchange corruplast to mail out, and it will feel good to be caught up.

I got not one but two amazing pieces of artwork that
completely delight me. procrastinatrix sent me not only a great card with a fold out of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, but also a painting that is just marvellous, and will be framed for hanging. In addition, in an unbelievable example of incredible kindness, marstokyo sent me something so grand I am not going to even try to describe it. I had expected something wonderful from marstokyo, for a project I am working on, but in addition to that thing, I got something which was much more than I expected. I feel grateful beyond words, so I will just express here simple gratitude without trying to set out all the words.

If this were a Twilight Zone episode, the exit paragraph Rod Serling would intone would be:
Gurdon Ark, a shy, unassuming, very plain, ordinary man, a sometimes boring commercial lawyer, a poor poet. When he awoke this morning he imagined he would have a nice day, but just another in a series of nice days. Sometimes, though, life isn't just nice...it's amazing. Amazing, that is....in the LJ Twilight Zone.