Thursday, October 21, 2004


In Which I Bear Witness To Miracles (and my trouser cuffs reveal a flash of red)...

After a long period of getting over the flu, the world appears to have gotten tired of me dragging my ass around from place to place, yawning and grousing about how tired I am. "Let's see how tired he is when we change the setting..." a demonic voice rasps, and suddenly the hum of the engines beneath my life ramp up and things begin to move quite a lot faster. I'm not one to fall on my face easily, so it's time to quicken my pace.

The hum of those engines was deafening Monday morning, when I was handed the task of writing yet another story--1500 words this time--on obscenely short notice. "Can I get it to you by day's end?" I ask, when I'm handed the pinless grenade in the staff meeting. "Um, sooner?" was the response. "Right," I said, looking at the clock. "By the end of lunch?"

There was much laughter then (oh the wit of that boy editor!) but I thought, If I could just be let out of this interminable morning meeting, I might just do it. Of course, I wasn't. By the time I made it back to my desk, I had 55 minutes before noon, and one interview to make to screw the lid on this thing. I made the call, got the info, wrote like a mad bastard, and had the story to my top-editor at 12:43.

But then, this is a week of miracles. Ever since I caught the early flu, everyone (except my bosses) have been begging me to take a couple days off and just take it easy, just get away. I actually did take a week's vacation this summer--my first since I got married, I think--and went to New England, land of my birth, home to my people (I take great pride in seeing my last name on the roadmaps of the state where I was born. My people cleared huge tracts of land for farming, built mills, fought the British, the whole Colonial bit. So having a body of water and some roads and a few towns named after you seems like a fair compromise in the eyes of history). I spent every summer of my youth by a rustic cabin on a great lake, free to roam the woods and explore the old stone foundations of forgotten farmsteads and hunting camps, responsible for nothing save being back in time for supper. It was positivelt idyllic, and my memories of the place and the time have become fixed in my mind as my personal notion of what Peace will be like. Of course, when I actually went back, it rained the entire time, and that pretty much told me what Fate thought of my designs on getting away from the office and trying to recover my slice of Peace.

But then, not long ago, I got an invitation to take a few days at a quiet little college somewhere north, in a climate very much like the one I grew up in, and talk to a bunch of undergrads about my career. Like most places of higher learning, they have nothing like the travel budget we have here at the RBM, so after they sent me my plane ticket, I was asked rather timidly if, instead of a hotel, would I mind very much if they put me up in a place owned by one of the administrators of the school...his lakeside cabin.

Hmm: Three days of sitting around, talking about myself to a bunch of young men and women (mostly women), and then repairing each night to a little cabin on a great lake. Like I said, it's a time of miracles.

Of course, I have to do some prep work before I leave next week, and I've made additional arrangements to lecture to a couple of classes and in general make sure these fine folks get their money's worth. But really, it's they who are doing me the favor.

I just hope there's a TV in the place, or at least a radio, because I am blood-bound to keep a close watch on the final miracle of the week: The Red Sox in the World Series. I am not a sports-oriented guy, not in the least. But if you grew up somewhere between Maine and Connecticut and still have a pulse, I don't see how you can NOT stand up and be counted when the Sox make yet another attempt. I followed the team to their doom in the 86 run, and was so crushed by their defeat it actually ruined my grades. I turned my back on them after that, swore NEVER AGAIN. But God loves to make a man breaks his vows, they say, and anyone who has ever held out hope across several generations for a team like this (I bet Chicago Cubs fans know what I'm talking about), knows that such promises really aren't. They're just steps in the ritual dance we take, the one we take through every dry spell, hoping against hope that this will be the year the great rain comes, hoping this will be the year of big miracle.

Next time, maybe I'll post some of the stuff I'm preparing to talk about to the Leaders of Tomorrow. It won't be ALL about me, I promise. Yeah, now who's asking for a miracle?

From Somewhere On The Masthead

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