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Entry date: 3-14-2024 – Pi Day, High and Low (the Bet) – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

I want to thank Steve and Michael C. for encouraging me to watch Resident Alien. I’m a good handful of episodes in and love it. It’s got a lot of the quirky charm I have been enjoying from the old Northern Exposure episodes I’ve been watching, but with way more belly laughs. Resident Alien is quite hilarious.

 

In fact, I watched a little of each show yesterday and enjoyed the Resident Alien episode much more than Northern Exposure. The characters on the latter seemed much angrier than the former, even though Alan Tudyk’s main character, “Harry” can be just as abrasive as Rob Morrow’s “Joel” or Janine Turner’s “Maggie.” Just an observation.

 

*****

 

The days of spring break are slipping away, but that’s okay. I’m feeling ready to get back to it and finish strong. I am not going to say that I miss the little people, but it has been popping up in my head that I’m wondering what they are up to this week. I hope it is all good things, but I know the reality of that.

 

Some of my students come from some difficult homes to say the least. I need to always be cognizant of that and most of the time, I am. For teachers, it can be very helpful for us to keep this in mind so we don’t take things personally. I’m getting much better at this and the longer I teach, the easier that gets. Nothing in grad school prepared me for that, though.

 

***** 

(The Bet continued…)

 

“Do you think that is a good idea,” Paul asked later.

 

“I really don’t know. I just know I have to see if I can help her,” Marcy replied as she chewed on a stray bit of hair that fell to the side of her face.

 

When Marcy was nervous or anxious about something, she would often do this. It was her ‘tell,’ if you will, that things were not right and seeing this made Paul anxious, too.

 

“You’re sure that you made a bet with her?” he asked.

 

“Positive. I wanted her to get some rest. She was in so much pain and she needed to sleep.”

 

“But she wasn’t in any real danger, though, right? She’s going to recover?”

 

“Yeah, her charts looked great, and she should be able to go home in a few more days, maybe a week, tops.”

 

It felt good to talk about the procedure for a bit. Marcy felt almost normal as she walked Paul through what an omentectomy was and how patients usually faired when they were in a similar situation to her patient.

 

“There’s a lot of pain in the first few days. She should be over the worst of it by now, but without real rest, she’s going to be very uncomfortable for a while. Imagine trying to move around after your guts have been rearranged. It’s not fun…plus, she’s probably not had a proper BM yet,” Marcy shared.

 

It didn’t quite matter that she could still not remember Betsy’s name, but that was the least of her worries at the moment. The hair found its way back to the corner of her mouth after she stopped talking.

 

Paul sat there, staring at Marcy chewing her hair. He knew she was completely unaware she was doing it.

 

“What about Jonathan? Do you really think you should go down there? What if someone asks you about him?”

 

“It’s only a matter of time before someone calls me. I’m surprised it hasn’t gotten out to the press yet. Bodies just don’t walk away. Look, if I don’t go down there, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to relax or focus at all.”

 

“I get it. Do you want me to go with you? The kids can go to my parent’s house,” Paul added nodding his head.

 

“No. I will be in and out. I just need to check on her. Stay here with the kids. Maybe Aidan will check in later, anyway. He’s got to be freaking out, too.”

 

 

Marcy got herself together and headed to the hospital. She hadn’t told Paul this, but she was hoping that Jonathan would reveal himself to her. Maybe she could help him, she thought as she drove down the road. Usually, she would have put some music on as soon as she got in the car, but today, silence was what she needed more than anything.

 

As Marcy pulled into the employee lot, she noticed there were several police vehicles parked around the perimeter of the parking area. She wasn’t sure if this was a good or bad thing.

 

She parked her car and walked toward the entrance. There was a uniformed officer outside. Marcy showed the officer her ID and was allowed through. She relaxed a little bit after getting inside the building, but it would be the last time she was able to feel a tiny bit of relief for quite some time.

 

*****

 

I was saddened to see that Karl Wallinger of World Party died on March 10, 2024. His work with World Party, particularly, but also in The Waterboys, is something that I have taken great comfort from in my lifetime. It reminds me of a very particular time in my life.

 

In the summer of 1990, I was working at Easy Street a lot. I’d kind made up for the ridiculousness of the Spring and early Summer of 1989 where I would often show up either hung over or high and gotten my act together enough to be a functional part of the Easy Street team. At least that’s how I like to remember it.

 

One song that was helpful for me in this calming down of spirit was “Way Down Now” from the album Goodbye Jumbo which had come out in April of 1990. When it came on the radio, I would turn it up and sing along while doing my prep or whatever was going on. I even got my Aunt Julie into the band, too.

 

I went out and bought Goodbye Jumbo (which was quickly followed by a purchase of 1987’s Private Revolution, as well). I was so happy to find out that I really liked the entire record. I mean, “Way Down Now” is my favorite song from it, but that album became a kind of talisman, maybe, or signpost for that summer and fall in my mind.

 

That was an important time for me. I was getting ready to turn 21 and little did I know it, as 1990 became 1991, I was going to be contemplating my second really big decision to leave Arizona for a while. My two forays into living elsewhere have been decidedly temporary in nature, but the second one was definitely impacted by this particular soundtrack.

 

Wallinger wrote lyrics that deeply impacted my 20/21-year-old brain. “Way Down Now,” for example, touches on a few of my favorite themes: Television, Hell, Honesty, Oddities.

 

“Inside my future life, what I see just makes me cry/I’m way down now (x2)/the clocks will all run backwards/All the sheep will have two heads/and Thursday night and Friday/ will be on Tuesday night instead.”

 

What I was looking for in those days was exactly what Wallinger described in the outro: “Something new/Something true.” It took me a long time to find the “something true” part. I certainly didn’t find it in Berkeley, but at least I had this record to keep me company.

 

The opener “Is It Too Late” is a bit of a beautiful downer that sounds a little bit like a cross between an INXS intro and something Joe Strummer would have been proud of if he had written it. “When The Rainbow Comes” is another one of those pretty, but dark kind of songs. I guess I needed songs like these in those days.

 

“Put The Message in the Box” is one that I really like a lot to this day. It’s another Wallinger lyric that I like a lot. “See the world in just one grain of sand/you better take a closer look/don’t let it slip right through your hand.” The chorus is great, too: “Put the message in the box/put the box into the car/drive the car around the world/until you get heard.” Good stuff, for sure, and it’s a really lovely melody.

 

‘Ain’t Gonna Come Till I’m Ready” has a little ELO thing going on with the bassline that I like a lot. It’s kind of a soul song, really, and Wallinger waltzes on the edge of a falsetto vocal, but he kills it, much in the way Jeff Lynne was able to do on so many ELO records.

 

To listen to these songs on the day I learned of Wallinger’s death is hard. On one hand, it feels like I’m visiting an old friend, but it’s different now. In those days, I was excited about what he would come up with next. The guy was such a talented artist.

 

“And I Fell Back Alone” sounds so haunting now. I just wish peace to all his fans and friends and family. It was nice to hear the slightly more upbeat “Take It Up,” but the lyrics are getting me just the same. “I promise you miss/I will do my best today/but somebody keeps trying to make me, trying to make me lose my way/But I believe, oh my darlin’/I believe in you/and I hope when you hear this, you’ll remember what we were sent to do.” The organ work in the outro of “Take It Up” is also pretty damn rad.

 

“God on My Side” is another beautiful song. It is so lush and hopeful, but in a restrained, utterly English way. “Show Me to the Top” is Wallinger’s take on dance funk and it kind of slays the genre in his super smart way. It’s got a hook, that’s for sure, and the synth parts on it are pretty great. The bass, too, is great. As I listen more, I realize that he was channeling Prince on this one.

 

There is a little extra bit hiding in “Show Me to the Top” as well. It’s super quiet and oddly placed. I guess I’ll have to look that up. “Love Street” is one that I’ve never really gotten into, but it’s lovely. “Sweet Soul Dream,” however, is one I like a lot. It features a brief backing vocal by Sinéad O'Connor. Wallinger produced some of her stuff, so maybe they were friends in those days. “Sweet Soul Dream” is another great song of his and the lyrics are great. I highly recommend listening to it with the one you love.

 

“Thank You World” seems a little too fitting right now. I’m just going to leave it right here. Thank you, Karl Wallinger. You helped me.

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



Michael C. calls this the last embrace. I like that a lot. Pretty cool thing to be walking through the desert and see. I love how the sun was coming down to touch the lovers.

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