Get Lost! But Please Come Back…

Travel is what many of us live for. The ability to immerse ourselves in a world not our own and soak up all the cultural differences is refreshing and satisfying. While there are some who enjoy the same routine day after day and desire the comfort (which is completely valid), I personally enjoy the daily shake up and I think there are many physical, social, and mental health benefits associated with travel abroad. Seeing a new place can be exhilarating and tiring, but I think the long term benefits are worth the strain on your mind and body (and bank account).

The physical benefits should be easy to identify. Many of the activities involved in travel to a new location require walking — from one attraction to another, or to explore a city. The act of breaking routine alone is motivating and stimulates physical activity. An active and curious mind is going to be more open to maintaining physical fitness, and a healthy body makes travel much more enjoyable.

The social and economic benefits of travel are lasting and world changing. When people take the money they earn at home into a foreign land and spend it on anything, they stimulate the global economy and that of the country they visit. An indirect effect of this is the recognition of goods and services that are not offered in one country (or continent) or another. When someone travels to Japan from the United States and falls in love with a certain food (sushi maybe?), product or type of human service (onsen?) and then raves about it with their friends back home, they develop a market that had not previously existed in their home country. This leads to job creation and a deeper economic and social connection between lands. Taking this a step further, words from foreign languages are blended constantly, which promotes the growth of both cultures as well as the broadening of worldviews. Taking this another step further, the act of learning a foreign language completely requires the individual to re-tool their mind in order to understand the structure of the new language. Different people in different regions see the world differently, and different languages were developed from these differences. Picking up a second language can be difficult, but the cultural reward is great enough to merit the effort. Appreciation of customs and activities can only deepen with the shift in perception. ***In light of the presence of COVID-19, keep in mind… surfing the web, reading and pouring over images of new places is a great leisure***

The mental benefits branch off from the social benefits. Learning a new language helps keep the mind sharp. On top of this, seeing new sights and broadening your scope of the world you live in can only give you a better understanding of where you came from. And when you get back home, you have stories to share with friends and colleagues that will hopefully surprise and delight them. This positive interaction is healthy for mood and a sense of self worth.

So whether you have the ability to travel physically or just peruse the internet for a virtual tour of the globe, it is all time well spent. If you have the extra time, download the Duolingo app and play around with learning a new language. It’s free and easy to use. It is surprising how differently the mind has to work to lock into a new language. While the words and phrases you’re accustomed to might make sense from the way you see the world, you’ll find that others may not even be able to process the information. And it’s incredible to learn how to twist your mind to process the grammatical structure of a new language. In any case, enjoy the differences our world has to offer. You won’t regret it.

Creating Experience – The Magic of Words

One of the many things that separates humankind from any other animal species is the ability to communicate complex ideas and concepts using spoken and written language. Many species communicate using varied sounds and facial expressions, but humans have taken that communication to an entirely different level. Our tendency to document our daily lives and history and even our everyday experiences in the forms of art and writing and music gives us the ability to communicate and share not only our intentions, but our unique experiences, emotions, dreams, and fantasies with others. Of course, there is intrinsic value to this, but I think the long term effect of writing and advanced language is the true phenomenon.

Language of any kind has the obvious potential to connect minds and bring groups of people together in ways that stimulate advanced communities and group activity. Beyond that, language and writing can be used for things that I would consider to be classified as magic. Magic, however, is only a term to describe what can’t otherwise be defined. 1000 years ago, much of science was considered magic. If someone 3000 years ago saw a cell phone, they’d likely fall to their knees in wonder. And this is why I call language magic. Those things that used to be considered ineffable, given labels such as divine, magic, godly, or supernatural can eventually be wrapped in words and given definition and understanding, grounding the subject. In this way, language and writing can be used as a tool to manifest dreams and ideas that would seem unattainable. The first step in realizing a dream is to communicate it. Leonardo Da Vinci was known for his art, but was also a visionary inventor. His drawings and writings were the starting point in turning his enigmatic musings into real technological marvels. This should be intuitive and obvious. The more skilled an individual is at wrapping language around a difficult topic, the more that can be communicated, and the more real the idea becomes. Science follows this logic. Where most of our biological processes used to be completely mysterious, we can now easily control, manipulate and aid our bodies with chemicals and therapeutics, natural and synthetic. This used to be considered witchcraft or shamanistic. Today these things are just another part of everyday life. Consider the things you would label magic today, and then envision a future where those magics would be embraced by science and controlled. Even spirituality becomes a physical phenomenon that can be described.

More important is communicating an overall experience. The importance may not be obvious at first, but the downstream impact is huge. Anyone can say, “I feel bad today.” What does that mean? What is bad? Poetry is used by creating metaphors surrounding mundane and simple aspects of human life that are strung together to create and contain complex emotion. Words describe objects, sentences describe events, paragraphs describe experiences, and poems or stories capture unique sensations — heartbreak, euphoria, maudlin, ennui, melancholy, love, obsession, romance… It’s all on the table. When coupled with music, you can create states of mind and soul that surpass the inspiration. This effect is not well documented or highly discussed, but most of us can say we’ve heard a song that reminds of us a specific memory that we associate it with. The emotional experience communicated in the music, coupled with our individual real world experience creates an emotional state that surpasses the mundane and gives the sense of higher power, purpose, or importance. Of course you could call this coincidence, and maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. Those experiences that give the immediate sense that they are necessary and bigger than the mundane are real. Many musicians will tell you that they feel compelled or inspired to write what they write.

Whether you believe in magic or no, wrapping words around phenomena like this will not fail to make the understanding thereof more complete. Talk on!

What Grows from the Sea

She asked a question

Simple question

You love me now for what you see

But can you love what hides in me?

Yes, he said, desire to show

Showing all, she loved to know

And all he said with certainty

The things she always believed to be

Inside the tempest, darkened sea

Tanned leather scorched intimacy

Bent to cradle all perdition

And rise o’er all in transition

The reaper takes no penalty

Excerpt – Memories of the Shadow Age – Where the River Flows: Book One

—From Chapter V — Full book here

‘You two go ahead,’ he said with the car idling in front of the large, well-lit house. ‘I’ll find parking and meet up with you.’

‘Send a text when you’re close,’ Candace suggested.

‘Will do.’

The girls climbed out the passenger side door, walked up the steps to the fraternity, and then disappeared into the giant structure. It had been fifteen minutes before David caved and decided to pay for a spot in the parking garage a few blocks away. It was another ten minutes before he was close enough to the house to warrant sending Candace a text message asking her to meet him out front, and another five before he gave up waiting for a response. One of the fraternity brothers had been watching the door when he saw the young man approach who was wearing and very nicely filling out the black t-shirt with black boots on his feet and boot cut jeans resting around their tops, and who stood well over six feet with long golden hair landing in loose curls on his chest and back. When David was at the doorway, the boy at the door could also see the short beard with the clean-shaven upper lip.

‘Hey,’ the young man named David Emerson bellowed to the boy. ‘I’m here with friends. Short girl with long hair and freckles and her roommate.’ The thumping music did not drown out his deep voice.

‘I’m not supposed to let any guys in that I don’t know,’ was the response.

‘Here…’ David pulled out his phone and flipped it open to show the fraternity boy a picture of Candace. It was ten o’clock. He had no new messages.

‘Yeah I saw her come in but –’

David stopped listening and looked the boy who was likely two or three years older than himself up and down. The boy was a few inches shorter with a feminine jawline and pretty features. David walked past him, and the thumping grew louder.

‘Hey, you can’t just –’ the boy started.

‘Stop me,’ David belted. There was a tray of shot glasses filled with a clear liquid set on a small table in the hall past the door. ‘What are these?’ he asked the fraternity boy.

‘Tequila shots.’

‘And you’re giving them to people as they come in?’

‘Right. Listen, you can’t—’

‘Just tequila?’ David interrupted.

‘I don’t know. I guess so.’

David quickly downed three of the drinks.

‘What the profanity man?’ the boy shouted angrily.

‘Stay,’ David commanded and then stepped further into the house and began to explore the bottom floor. There were people laughing and dancing and milling about the large house and David was surprised that the boy at the door had obeyed him and wondered if they would have any further confrontation. After fifteen minutes, he had forgotten about it. He pushed through the crowd, making his way through the house wearing a broad smile, and could taste sweat in the air. Several of the girls he passed gave him interested looks and a couple of them had touched his chest. One of them pushed him into the wall.

‘Hey.’ She lingered on the word. ‘I’d have sex with you.’ Her eyes were more closed than open and her speech was slurred. She was tall and brunette and her hair was pulled tight on her head and fell down her back, and David watched the lingering trails she made in the light as her head swayed.

‘Hi beautiful,’ he said calmly. ‘I’m actually looking for a friend.’

‘Is that me? I want to be your friend.’ She put her hands on his shoulders.

‘Ok.’ Her hands felt heavy and smooth on him and he answered, ‘I’ll be your friend.’

‘Oh I’m so happy. We’ll be best friends.’

‘That’s right.’ The thumping beat stretched out and David felt it reaching deeper in his chest. It pounded. ‘Can you help me with something?’

‘I’ll do whatever you want,’ she spoke so slowly that David almost forgot what she was saying by the time she finished the sentence.

‘What’s your name?’ he asked in a tone deeper than he had ever heard from himself. It echoed between his ears.

‘I’m yours,’ she said as she laid her head against his chest and wrapped her arms around his waist, grabbing his backside with both hands. They had not noticed but they were moving involuntarily to the beat, and through their movements David saw where they had been and where they were going, and the motions were outlined and drawn like a laser light show in the eye of his mind before he made them. He pulled his phone from his pocket and opened it. The light from the screen blurred like painted brushstrokes in the air. It was ten-twenty-seven. He had no new messages.

They’ve drugged everyone.

Full Book on Amazon

Book Review – Palimpsest: Book One of the Multiple Dimension State Series by Craig Herdern

In Herdern’s Palimpsest, everything is laid on the table with the exception of dragons, as noted prior to the Prologue. The colorful and raw story follows the exploits of medical student Lucinda (Lu) Soames-Parker as she grows into her profession and develops the relationships that lead her through this modern classic. Herdern’s prose and writing style are fluid and dynamic, never awkward, and tell Lu’s tale in typical English form.

The writing is thick and tender, though at times bitter on the palate. Herdern leaves very little to the imagination in his work. The blended science fiction and fantasy, mind bending, hyperdimensional thriller is mysterious and intriguing with twists and a mild darkness that offset the often delicate writing style. Dialogues are pure and genuine, bringing a tangibility to the modern fantasy canvas. What starts as a seemingly standard English coming of age story that would make even Dickens proud quickly takes a left turn into the realm of the absurd, somehow managing to maintain a tight enough grip on reality to keep the reader in suspended disbelief. Fresh and satisfying, Herdern presents the problem of traversing higher dimensions in a concrete and staying fashion.

It is a story rich with unique lore. The text is not overly wordy, but describes its settings, characters and plot devices elegantly and completely. There is sex, criminal violence, science and pseudoscienc. The narrative is satisfying and brilliant, keeping the reader’s attention, and begging them to read just another page. Herdern scores in every way possible. The first book in the Palimpsest Series can be found here on Amazon, and author Herdern can be contacted on Twitter.

Let’s Flip to Feminism!

There is a massive shift occurring across the United States. Women are taking power and putting themselves in positions of authority that were historically reserved for men. If a female democratic candidate were running for office this year, she would win without a fight, and if Biden was a little bustier he wouldn’t even need to open his mouth. Personally, I welcome the change. Of course there is an adjustment period, and most men haven’t started complaining about aggressive sexual advances yet, but they will.

I imagine a scenario completely post transition where all the women work and the men stay at home. Lions are already on top of this. The alpha sleeps nearly 20 hours a day while the women hunt (go to the office) and the other males lounge around and compete in physical contests. The females bring dinner and the alpha eats first, in order to maintain physical dominance. He also enjoys relations with all the females. The analogous human scenario would be a little different. As mentioned before, the men stay at home and pump iron when they aren’t sleeping, and compete with each other for the position of top trophy husband. I suppose the largest of men would enjoy a great deal of “freedom”. Or perhaps the typical monogamous relationship would survive. In this case, the bulky and showy husband might be found cooking dinner in the nude (maybe in an apron) for the wife when she gets home from work. A playful slap on the rear would initiate the typical domestic squabble. “You don’t respect me! Make your own flapping dinner!” *Bedroom door slams* Probably not.

But no matter how this transition goes, it works out best for the men, especially men with a little height and muscle. Even more so if the gender roles swap completely. I want to be the “guy next door”, and get paid or receive special attention because I have biological… “things.” It flips entirely… All the cops are female. No more firemen. Guys already set excrement on fire all the time, and in the future they can do it just to get girls in uniform to come deal with it (keep in mind they pay to see things like this currently). Machines do all the heavy lifting. ALL OF THE DOCTORS ARE WOMEN. Technologically, we’re in the perfect position to let this happen. Of course, a lot of guys will be neglected, used and cheated on, or made to cry about their insecurities. Really, it shouldn’t be seen as problem and I’ll tell you why (even if you’re a dweeb).

I imagine living with my hardworking department manager wife. I have a gym membership at a club in the suburbs, and most days I go out to lunch with a bunch of guys and feel worshipped by the single professionals who come through the deli. They even objectify me and send dirty looks and cat calls. One of them explicitly states she wants me to “saddle up” for her. It’s awfully degrading. Cut to the holidays. I ask my wife for a Corvette just because I’m worth it. She refuses and buys me a new watch. Not cool. I cut my gym membership and get a new account at a nicer place downtown, closer to the law offices and hospital. I target the peak hours when the high earning women show up, and I make sure to shake it a little more playfully as they pass by the machines. And I do very well over the course of a few months. I buy the new Corvette myself and get pulled over on the way home. Pull up my sleeve and shift back into my seat and avoid a ticket. When I get home, I’m accused for spending too much of her money, so I admit to everything I’ve been doing. Then it gets rough. I go back to the gym. It’s a good day.

The best part of the new world is the holiday schedule. There is way too much feminine energy …flowing… in the professional world… THEY ALL SYNC UP! Every 28 days, the entire world gets 5 days off, just because. No one in the office agrees on anything, and the machines can do most of the busy work. Male nurses handle almost everything at the hospitals and clinics and doctors are on call. You don’t want to know what happens in the hospitals during those 5 days. It’s a very progressive world.

The men eventually start to pretend they don’t have needs… Their stress levels are lowered and they’re pumped with endorphins all day every day, so they really don’t have to try that hard. When the biological clocks of the ladies start ringing, things get weird. Desperate working women making wild advances in bars become ubiquitous, and the dried up, elegant beauties with banking investments that pump out absurd amounts of cash become the new standard. Thank goodness for sperm banks.

The joke is on romance. No more knight in shining armor coming to treat girls like princesses. Instead you have flamboyant, high strung giants in speedos holding out until they get everything they want. If you need romance, the nerdy, androgenous flower child down the street will bring you a cupcake while you’re at work if you take him to enough movie premiers and comic conventions. He might even let you touch his rocket. He loves building model rockets. But most of your handsome and kind young men won’t “feel pretty enough for you” when you want to get down. If you run your hand through their hair just right while they’re playing the new Diablo, they might let you hug them while they cut skeletons in half. Afterward, they’ll tell you they appreciate you. If you play the game together, they’ll think they’ve fallen in love. Unfortunately, the rest of the boys will be into each other, but they’ll tell you the nice things you want to hear, so you won’t hate it.

Then the moon crashes into the Earth… Just kidding.

Realistically, the world will likely continue to change in order to accommodate every unique lifestyle. Love will find its lovers, and people will continue to connect in strange and unexpected ways. The least likely of pairs (or groups) will find each other and make things work against all odds, and people will grow together and develop a deeper understanding of what it really means to care for one another. That’s my hope, at least. Fads will come and go. Relationship trends will rise, and the family will evolve. Spoiler alert… Nah. I don’t do spoilers. Ask the lions.

Pollution… Environmental, Noise, and Visual – A Call to Consideration

We’re in a bubble, in terms of global health, and it wants to pop.

In the early 1990s, my generation could be found sitting in elementary school classrooms with wide eyes and open minds listening to our teachers discuss the problems of drug abuse, HIV and cancer and the lack of cures, acid rain, recycling and general pollution. Global warming had not yet become a hot topic, and some of the positive, trendy ones such as the successful launch of the Hubble space telescope overshadowed the importance of others, at least in my opinion.

Of course, we listened and changed. As we grew and began to take jobs in industry and the corporate world, our mentality caused a shift in the general dynamic of the workforce. Personally, I was met with resistance in regard to operating under idealistic best practices. Many processes are encumbered by excessive caution and there were older employees that just didn’t care enough to change. This wasn’t surprising, as the technological age has come on faster than people were able to adapt. Now, in the middle of a consumerist, high throughput technological explosion, I see the concept of pollution taking on a whole new meaning.

In the 90s, pollution was in the air and the rain and in the streets and forests. The part that little me could control was litter. I remember feeling very strongly that littering was wrong and I still pick up stray pieces of garbage when I see them. I certainly do not throw my trash nonchalantly into the wind. Or maybe I do. Today, I find myself surrounded by a mass of information, mountains of gadgets and accessories, and I’m overwhelmed by the amount of unnecessary visual stimuli I encounter, much of which I’d rather never see. And then there is all the ambient noise. Computer fans, cell phone tones and notifications, automobile engines and sirens, and people talking in public, seemingly to themselves. This blog, perhaps? I hope not. It’s meant to entertain and stimulate thoughtfulness, but for many it will just be information pollution.

It isn’t just in the air…

I don’t want to beat a dead horse or preach too long on this topic but I think it is beneficial to remember the values behind our reasoning. Littering was wrong (to me) because a bird, turtle, or fish would end up dead on the beach with a plastic ring around its neck. I didn’t want that. I think the potential consequences for digital, visual, and noise pollution have the potential for consequences far worse, affecting humanity directly.

Digital pollution does not have to be seen in order to be damaging. Virtual space is still space that requires a physical foundation. Many of those physical stores (like cell phones and memory cards) are consumed so rapidly that they hardly fullfil the cost of production with actual value, especially as certain rare resource stores continue to dwindle, such as the metals used for batteries. Other digital waste comes in the form of online photos, pornographic or offensive material, and malicious or highly bugged software. Some of this can’t be controlled, but is being monitored and handled. Instagram has become a tar pit of socially offensive yet legal media. Some of it I wish I never had to see, but there it is.

Visual pollution is everywhere.

Visual pollution is not limited to pictures or flyers taped to phone poles, or billboards and web ads. It can be offensive t-shirts, graffiti, inappropriately placed advertisements, or racist propaganda. Noise pollution follows the same logic, and I don’t feel the need to identify all of it. But it’s in music, radio, can be heard on the bus, at the beach, or in your church. My point is that we’re already seeing the consequences of environmental pollution, in the post industrial age, despite our efforts to avoid it, and the next to come will be the consequences of digital and visual, social pollution. If our youth, and you, do not see the problem of general pollution for the reality that it is, then there is no way to divert the stream of negative effects rushing toward us. I understand the concepts of anti censorship and free speech (and freedom in general), but a line needs to be drawn somewhere. Freedom does not permit littering.

Life is beautiful

Pictured above is a scene I would like to preserve, from an environmental standpoint. The reality is this type of beauty is being threatened and, in the midst of the technological boom, we have grown accustomed to living in our own filth. As time has progressed, we’ve decided that less restrictions be put on what can be thrown out the window while we drive through each other’s neighborhoods. This is a call to consider the impact and importance of what we present to the world. It is also a reminder that physical pollution is still a problem. Be considerate, be bold, and put your best on display, and stay conscientious.

Before I Wake

She was far off in the distance, but I could see her clearly. I had seen her before, but this time she was smiling and waving her left hand high in the air. There was a man with her, old and leaning on a cane. His long beard and grey hair whipped lightly in the light breeze around him. She was wearing purple. A dress. He was wearing an old suit, the jacket draped over his right arm. I don’t remember how I got there. I was just there, and she was there and the old man was there. Her chocolate brown hair fell lightly around her face, framing her green eyes and heart shaped mouth. Even at a distance, I could see the light freckles over her cheeks.

The old man joined in beckoning me across the chasm. I can’t describe the place. It was dark, removed from reality. Above, there was machinery. Gears and turbines. A giant conveyor belt that looped in on itself. It churned and clicked along in steady rhythm, with a song like a charging locomotive. The old man and the girl were at the center of everything and I ran from where I had been. I ran until I was at the center. They were there and I was with them and the girl extended both arms toward me, taking my right hand in both of hers while the old man began to speak. Her smile widened and she bowed her head.

“The song,” he said to me. “When you hear the song, know it can only speak truth.”

I said nothing. The girl was silent but she released my hand and turned, standing beside me and facing the old man. I remember not being able to see the ground. I could feel it, and I could see my feet, but there was nothing below. Until I heard the song. It was then I realized I had bowed my head as well.

The old man hummed a simple, haunting melody. Four, sometimes five notes. Alternating and repeating. The ground came alive. “What do you see?” asked the old man.

“Nothing,” I quickly replied.

“Keep looking,” he urged patiently, the song still humming behind his words.

I kept looking. Down. Colors of all the rainbow became shapes, and shapes become objects, and those objects grew in complex form and figure. “I see machines. Roads. Sky below and above. There aren’t people, but I can feel that life is everywhere.”

“Keep looking.”

Above the roads and sky there were cities. “People are in cities above the sky,” I said, and felt something brush the small of my back.

“And?”

I looked again at the machines. “The machines share a signature, and they’re all working together.”

The girl had wrapped an arm around me and pulled me toward her. And then she fell. Back, down, and through the floor, and she pulled me with her but we parted as we fell.

My body shook, quickly and violently, and my eyes opened. I was alone, standing in the old subway tunnel in New York City. I was leaning against the wall, waiting for the train. I had almost fallen over when I woke, but managed to stay on my feet. Dark, blue and grey. A few of the people around me glanced in my direction when I shook, but no one said a word. There was a train accelerating from the station. Had I missed it?

I took a step toward the track and saw through a dirty, scratched window of one of the cars, the visage of a woman with green eyes and freckles framed by rich, straight, soft brown hair peering back at me and when my eyes met hers, she lifted her chin and raised a hand. A finger pointed skyward and her eyes slowly shut, and when they did my vision turned black and I felt I was falling again, down through what had been holding me on my feet.

Again, my eyes opened and I shook. I was in the subway, back where I awoke before and I knew it was the same. The girl was there as before, and as before I fell away from her.

Again. Again. Again, and again. I would never catch her. I could never catch her. In vain attempts, I tried to communicate with the others. With anyone else at the station. They would shrug or roll their eyes, and I would lose my will. I pushed them and they would fall. All of my strength to push and they would fall and I would fall back and away and start it all again.

I was lucid now.

I had given up.

When my eyelids parted next, I surrendered and raised my sight to the sky. I couldn’t see it, and I didn’t need to. My head tilted back on my shoulders and my eyes resumed their resting state as my hands came together at my chest and I let it all go. I didn’t fall and I didn’t shake.

Gently…

Awake. Open eyes.

The realization came quickly that I was home. My right arm extended and the warmth of another was felt. I turned on my side and exhaled. She was there. The chocolate hair and freckles and the green eyes, though the eyes were concealed by their sleepy lids. She was there, wearing a pendant with an emblem matching a signature I had seen in the other world. I blinked slowly and shifted my weight, sliding one arm back under my body and the other over hers. And then I pulled her close.

She breathed deep and settled in to my embrace.

“I love you,” she said.

Waiting in the Rain

The dirt around the dugout was dark and pocked with holes. Tiny puddles of water filled the majority of them, and the sound of scratching cleats in the grain echoed off the back wall. The air was cool and dank, not refreshing as it should have been. The way I would have preferred it during practice. I was sweating and sticky, my hands with fingers curled around the wet metal of the fencing separating us from the field. It was raining. I liked the way the rain smelled in the late winter. It was almost as if you could smell the new growth on the trees and brush around the perimeter. I don’t think you could, but the scent reminded me that the full greenery and floral aromas of the primavera were only weeks away. I loved the anticipation of new life, the warm breeze, and the inevitability of time spent outside the house in the open fields or around a charcoal grill with my family, or riding my bike to the plaza to rent a movie with friends.

This year was different. I was in a new city, a new state, and a new school. I was outgoing and had made enough friends that I really hadn’t missed my hometown. At least not yet. Everything was fresh and new and exciting. Then there were the boys. When I was younger I was a pale blonde. I think I was attractive. Not beautiful or anything extraordinary, but I was proud of how I looked and who I was. My hair was long and thick, and I knew how to get attention with my sky blue eyes. And I was getting enough of it. I was happy. I knew what boys wanted and I was smart about it. It was high school. Most weren’t able to express anything more than that. I had a friend, a guy, who I liked to be around. He and I had spoken earlier in the day.

“Hey!” One of the coaches called to me. “Can you get out there and fill in at catcher?”

Obviously. “Sure,” I replied and then scuffled to the bleacher to retrieve the heavy gear and suit up.

“Hurry up,” he shouted back. “Less than half hour left.”

I know. “Right, of course.”

The rain was cold. It dripped through the helmet and down around my eyes, to my chin as I jogged to the plate and turned to face the coach, tall and in his baggy black poncho. I nodded and turned to the coach behind the plate. He motioned toward the mound and choked out something unintelligible. I heard, “Ready,” squatted, and looked across home.

Thud. I caught the first pitch. There was no one at bat. Just a warmup pitch, and then four more. I really had to reach for the fourth. Across my body, left of the plate. It hit the edge of the glove with a Thwock.

The rain was cold.

By the time I’d gotten through three batters, I was in my own world. The fielders with their red uniforms against the green grass of the ballpark looked pleasant and hypnotic to me. I’d been doing this since I was a little girl. Nothing interesting. I was good at it and I didn’t need to think. Just catch.

“Hey, who’s that behind the fence?” The fourth batter asked me, smiling. I glanced behind, quickly.

“I don’t know,” I lied.

“He’s watching you.”

“Yeah, I told him he could meet me after practice if he wanted.” It was the friend I mentioned earlier.

“Hmmmm… ok.”

“He’s fine.” My heart fluttered, but I ignored it.

She laughed. “It’s pouring rain.”

“Yeah.” The next three batters came and went. I only had to catch once.

Practice had ended, and I had gone down into the dugout to pick up my things and take a drink of water. It was colder than the rain, but I was hot under my uniform. I didn’t hate it. I was smiling but don’t think I knew it. The other girls made a few comments and I brushed them off.

“You looked really good,” the boy at the fence said when I came up from under the shelter. I turned and stepped toward him.

“What are you doing?”

“I wanted to come say hi.” He smiled.

“It’s raining!” I was incredulous.

“I live across the street.”

“Yeah, but it’s freezing.”

“You’re out here,” he said through his smile. I looked down at my feet and back up.

“Yeah,” I said, “I guess.” I walked to the fence to see him.

He laughed. “It is really cold.” I shook my head and then our eyes met. His held a sparkle and life that gave the same feeling as the smell of the rain.

“Yeah… It is.”

Coronavirus Never Goes On Vacation…

California, United States. Less than one percent of the American population has been tested positive for a virus that has been labeled by some as the deadliest disease we’ve ever seen. And apparently, it doesn’t go to the beach. In San Diego, people are still swarming to the coastline during a time where everything else is closed. I might have been the only weirdo wearing a mask.

Oddly enough, masks are still required inside the surf shops just across the boardwalk. No, I did not wear the mask when I went surfing, but I did wear it while I spoke with the other beach goers, including one who admitted to having and just recently recovering from COVID-19.

I can’t decide how I feel. As a scientist, it doesn’t seem to me that the pandemic really deserves the title. According to Claire Gillespie at Health, the flu kills tens of thousands every season in the US alone. It’s still early, however, and new cases of the virus are popping up everywhere. It’s difficult to tell people to let something like this run its course. But when you stifle a wildfire too long, the result is increased devastation when the spark catches.

For now, there are thousands of happy, healthy people at the beach, and maybe only one in every hundred has the virus. In a world where freedom is considered a right, it’s hard to tell people to stop having fun. I’m not going to either. Until the virus becomes a problem on a scale tenfold it’s current state, I really don’t believe people will take it seriously. Until then, have fun and take care of each other.

It’s a very fine line being ridden. Tide is in, so I need to catch a wave.