Magic Hour

Magic Hour is the term for the first and last hour of sunlight in any given day.  Everything is washed in golden light and there is an ethereal quality to the atmosphere.  The orange and blue transitions to darkness as your eyes move from one side of the sky to the other.  It's a great time to take pictures.  It's also a time where I feel like anything is possible.

I've had a really good couple of weeks.  I have moments, of course, but overall September has been the best month I've had in nearly a year.  It feels very much like a sunrise; the cold and dark stillness of grief and loss is giving way to the warmth and brightness of life.  I smile.  I laugh.  I don't feel like I'm running on reserves anymore.  The river is flowing again and it's a very welcome feeling.

This afternoon, I went to lunch (so to speak) and drove the mile and a half to Taco Bueno.  It was about 7:15 PM and right at the tail end of Magic Hour; the sun had disappeared behind the westernmost buildings and I was left with the diffuse glow.  I got my food and pulled into a parking space to eat.  I was eating my quesadilla when I suddenly wondered how many times Dad sat in the same car, doing the same thing.  I know he ate out a lot, and would often eat in his car at the local Sonic.  I could imagine him sitting there, eating his food.  Radio on, probably, listening to one of the same 5 CDs he always had in his changer the last year of his life.  Nobody to talk to.  Just sitting there, going through a routine.

I didn't get sad.  I actually took comfort in the simplistic symmetry of the situation.  As I contemplated this, a minivan pulled up beside me.  A small child hopped out with his mother.  He looked over at the car and said, "Wow, what a cool Mustang!"  The mother agreed that, yes, it was indeed a cool Mustang, and followed that up by confirming that the boy wanted two burritos and a taco as they walked inside.  When I heard the kid exclaim his approval, I turned my head, met his eyes, and smiled.  He smiled back.  I have to believe that when Dad found himself sitting in his car, eating by himself, that he had the same run-ins.  It's Magic Hour, after all.  He was so proud of that car.

I miss him.  A whole hell of a lot.  I feel that his legacy is able to live on in his boys.  Every time I make a bad joke, every time I gun the accelerator in his car, every time Steppenwolf plays on the stereo.  Every time I call Tyler and ask how his car's running without thinking about it.  Every time I'm hanging out with my brother, we look at each other, and say, "Well...I don't know." and smile knowingly.  So many little things.  So many big things.  He'll never be completely gone, and that makes me smile.



Family is important.

When I was younger, we would spend the 4th of July and Christmas at my Dad's folks' place.  They lived in an old converted schoolhouse about fifteen miles north of Pawhuska, OK.  It sat on two acres and the only traffic that old gravel road ever saw were from few-and-far-between neighbors.  Dad was raised out there, as were my aunt and uncle.  We visited at other times, of course, and I also visited my Mom's folks in Barnsdall, OK semi-regularly.  At some point, those visits started waning.

I was somewhat close to most of my cousins.  Nobody ever fought or anything.  In the mid-nineties, we didn't go to my Mom's folks much anymore after some heavy family drama, but visits to Hardy and Gail (Dad's parents) continued.  In 1997, my aunt Kim passed away from cancer.  It was hard on the family (as would be expected) and it happened right around the time us kids were getting to an age where family gatherings started to lose their luster.  Factor in the age of my grandparents and a few other things and it wasn't long before the normal gatherings dwindled and then turned into visits too shamefully rare to mention. It's nobody's fault, it just happened. Now it's uncommon that I ever get up to Pawhuska and see the rest of my family there.  I keep telling myself I'll do better, but I haven't yet.

I remember seeing Grandpa Hardy in the hospital not long before he passed.  He was sitting up and had several tubes attached to his face.  He smiled when I came into the room; a smile that assured me there was still lucidity and understanding.  He couldn't really talk, but he reached out to shake my hand.  I know he wanted to show me how strong his grip was.  I shook his hand and smiled generously.  He had no strength left.  This was a man that I'd always known could crush every bone in my hand if he ever decided to.  He had whittled down to this. That's one thing I'm thankful for with my father; he didn't have to go through that process of withering.  He just went.

I look now and my Grandma Mary, on Mom's side, is the only grandparent left.  We have scares pretty regularly and I know it's not going to be long before she's gone, too.  I haven't seen her since before Dad passed.  I'm afraid if I go visit I'll be greeted with a version of her I don't want committed to memory.  I'm not close to that side of the family at all anymore, and that's a sad thing.

Every time Mom and I get together, she says, "Don't be a stranger!" as we part.  I know she wants to see me more.  She doesn't live that far away, only twenty minutes.  It's not a big deal.  But I don't see her but once every few weeks.  I feel guilty about it often.  I love my mother very much.  We get along great.  I don't know why I am not putting in a greater effort, or why I even need to put in an effort at all.  It vexes me, because I don't have many relations left.  "Life gets busy" is not a valid excuse.



It's a new day.

As predicted, I woke up this morning in much better spirits.  Last night, I found myself in a place where I didn't want cheering up, but I did, and amidst the confusion I decided to reach out.  I spent a little over an hour with my good friends Leah and Darci, having a beer and just talking.  I came back home tired and vented; I awoke this morning with a smile.

Though I had no energy; I didn't run today.  I only went once this week.  Yipe.

When I'm feeling good, it's all smiles.  I launched one of my streaming electronic music channels, turned it up, piped it through the kitchen, and danced about.  I fixed tea and a quick breakfast.  I took a shower.  I started my chores.  I've been interacting with people all morning and it feels great.  Ever since I came home from Dragon*Con, I feel like I've been waking up.  Getting back to where I once belonged.  Bumps along the road are still expected, but I tell you they are so much fewer and far between.  Even my nightmares have reduced in quantity.

I write when moved.  The strongest emotions I've felt overall in the last year have been grief and sadness; I need an outlet for that emotion and writing has been my primary tool for that.  Things right now are terrific.  I write, but it's not public consumption writing.  It's been wonderful to be full of emotion on the other side of the spectrum.  An unexpected pleasure, to be sure.

Life is good!



It's going to be October soon.  Hard to believe the year is this far along already.  The weather has cooled and our highs are in the mid-to-low eighties most days.  We've had some rain.  Pretty soon the leaves will start to turn and summer will be a distant memory.

I've had a lot of really 'up' days lately.  I've been in good spirits and smiled even more than usual.  There are several reasons behind that, but I won't delve into those here.  It's the still moments that I want to talk about.  My phone stops alerting me, the porch light is out, and the house is silent.  My mind isn't on tomorrow, or an hour from now.  It's right here with me.  I want to talk, so I look at the keyboard.  I wonder what I will have to say as my fingers seek out the letters.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, I start to think about Dad.  This may be related to the fact that I got unexpectedly sad in the kitchen a few minutes ago.

It feels like he's always been gone.  Seeing the words typed makes my eyes water.  I still check his email once a week or so and unsubscribe from any junk mail he happens to still get, clear Facebook notifications for the account I created for him.  I haven't posted on his wall in a while, even though I have thought about him.  His contact is still in my phone.  I have pictures of him in various places.  But they have dust on them now.  It's a strange mixture of acceptance and fresh pain.  I remember writing that it felt like he was just here.  They say that time heals all wounds; I think it heals some, and others just morph into different wounds.

I've had a few windfalls as of late.  I found a cache of webchats that Google saved from when I was traveling the world.  Mom found a collection of pictures that I didn't know still existed.  My conversations about him are happy, and my memories of him are fond.  I know he would be proud of the successes I've had at work this year.  Still, like a spouse saying 'I love you' ... it's still good to hear it.

My religious views have shifted since coming home.  Where once a conservative non-denominational Christian stood, now stands an agnostic.  I really don't feel like I'll see him again.  While that's not a new realization for me, it's something I've only recently really looked inward at.

Eh, I dunno.  This post is kind've directionless.  I had some allergy meds earlier and I'm a bit spacey.  I think it's tremendously sad to sit and cry in the silent dark without letting someone know about it.  So, here it is, world.  I'll be okay.  Tomorrow is a new day.


Dragon*Con 2011

Boy howdy.  Dragon*Con.  What a whirlwind of amazing times!

The group of us (Brad, Nikki, Niki, Zack, and me) left Tulsa on Wednesday night thirteen minutes ahead of schedule.  We arrived in Atlanta twelve hours later at 11:00 AM, tired and ready to be out of the van.  I checked into my room at the Sheraton (to a lobby blaring Star Wars music) and immediately went down to registration.  They did a new thing this year where they scanned barcodes on postcards; aside from a computer outage for awhile it wasn't too awful getting registered and getting my badge.  Thursday isn't an official Con day, but people start going out in costume anyway.  I enjoyed walking around the hotels and seeing people, including some familiar faces.

Friday is when things got real.  The only panel I really wanted to attend this year was the Back to the Future Panel with Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, and James Tolkan.  I put on my Marty costume and set out to do a little wandering first.  Over the course of the weekend, I'd say my costume was a 3 or 4 out of 10 in regards to demand for pictures, but everyone that took a picture was tremendously excited.  I also got a lot of compliments for accuracy, which made my geek heart swell.  When I made my way over to the Westin Hotel for the BTTF panel I ran into my first other Marty costume.  Although I was concerned about what it would do to the space-time continuum, I talked with him a bit and got some great pictures.  He had an accurate JVC camcorder and the right Aiwa tape player.  I was jealous!

The panel was good, many expected questions.  Christopher Lloyd is a lot like his characters IRL, a little disjointed, but fun.  Afterwards, I did a lot more wandering.  Three of the hotels are joined by sky bridges; since I was wearing many layers, I decided to avoid the outdoors when at all possible.  There were a lot of really amazing costumes this year.  I took way more pictures this time around.  I felt like I was able to tap into the vibe a bit more, too, especially in costume.  There's an unspoken bond between folks cosplaying.

There were several very popular folks.  Of course, scantily clad women are always popular.  There were a few Rufio's from 'Hook' that got chants wherever they went.  There was a Macho Man running around taking credit for stopping the Rapture.  I saw a Ryu and Ken from Street Fighter give a Star Wars rebel pilot crap for Porkins' demise in 'A New Hope' only to have the pilot berate the fighters and speak honorably of Porkins' sacrifice.  I saw Lando Calrissian and Captain Sisko get into a duel while the crowd chanted the classic Star Trek battle music.  Cobra Commander raged at Zack's Doctor Doom shirt.  There was a whole group of Yip Yip Muppet aliens very in character (though they did surround a Captain America at one point and chanted 'USA!' instead.)  Jesus took Professor X's wheelchair.  But probably the most elaborate group was the Pee Wee's Playhouse folks:

Oh, and a drunken Gryffindor student complimented my costume.  When she went for a high five, I said, 'Ten points to Gryffindor!' and got a kiss for my nerd knowledge.  That was pretty awesome.  This blog doesn't cover everything that happened...that would be impossible.  I hung out with my friends, met up with old friends, rekindled connections, made new ones, learned a lot, taught a little bit, and had the time of my life.  'Til next year, Atlanta.