Ben’s great-grandparents met in the internment camp colony forty one years ago. They were only two in a sea of millions driven to the camps colonies because of the famine.
Generations lived their entire lives in these resorts. They must be resorts. Nobody works. They don’t have to. They spend their time on leisurely pursuits. Everything is provided by the government.
He watches the black smoke from the power plant dissipate as he considers tomorrow’s big day. His birthday.
Ben eyes the transmission lines from the plant as they fade into the horizon. He thought, “I wonder where they lead?” The propaganda drones say the outside world is a desolate wasteland.
As Ben reflects on his life, he realizes that he will finally see the inside of the plant tomorrow. The government provided Ben a comfortable life, and tomorrow will be a very special day.
He’s seen those olive drab government limousines scuttle about almost daily and he will finally have his turn to ride in one tomorrow. The government will honor him when the limousine delivers him to the plant. He will be incinerated.
Have you ever had the feeling you are doing time? Like you’ve been sentenced and you hope for an early release? Life sometimes feels this way when you have chronic pain.
I hate to bang the same old drum. I’m certainly not trying to gain sympathy. It’s just that it tends to be cyclical. Flare up periods where the pain is intense followed up relatively calm days where you get lost in the fog.
Have you experienced the fog? It’s actually quite nice. You can’t remember much so there’s less anxiety. If you are a control freak, you’re in trouble. You can go ahead and ratchet up your angst because you are now officially out of control. I’ve doubled up my meds because I forgot that I took them ten minutes prior. I’ve even forgotten where I parked. That one has happened a lot.
There was a time where I thought I would be cured, but my expectations aren’t what they were five years ago. I’m guardedly optimistic that my rheumatologist will find the right diagnosis, and if he does, there are treatments to mitigate the damage to my joints. I can anticipate less pain as well.
I have it easy, though. I spend much of my time on the couch eating snacks. My family got the raw deal. I’m sure Heather never anticipated a cripple for a husband when she repeated her marriage vows. Technically, I guess I’m not physically challenged as I don’t have a blue placard to hang on my rearview mirror. Yet.
Last week, Heather told me about how my oldest daughter felt about my predicament. Alli questions God because it’s unfair. I’ve learned that it is unfair, but God isn’t fair. I’m thankful for that. If God meted out justice based on fairness, we all would be condemned. I’m trying to find the words to have that conversation with her.
I need to tell her that my affliction is because of God’s immense grace. My deep relationship with Christ is because of my pain. It’s a little hard to explain the full scope of what I mean, but I hope that I will be able to help Alli understand.
I’ve been doing time for 1,654 days. I’m expecting tomorrow to be a good day. The weather is supposed to be nice.
Quantum Leap is probably my favorite time travel show. Some dude randomly goes back in time to correct ‘wrongs’ in history. Through his hologram pal, he has access to a supercomputer named Ziggy that makes all of the probability calculations to determine the outcome of his actions on the future. He even gets to experience others’ lives by hijacking their body while their soul hangs out in some waiting room in the future. Now that I think about this time traveling bodysnatcher, it sounds kinda creepy. To complicate matters, there was an evil leaper who went back in time to undo favorable moments in history.
Multiply that by a million. If time travel is ever achieved, the technology will eventually be affordable enough for Mr. Average Joe to have his very own time machine. A million potential time travelers is a reasonable number given that there are what, seven billion people on the planet? A million people traipsing through time, crushing colorful butterflies with their muddy boots, and essentially bungling history.
Either our lives will become a series of Billy Pilgrimesque flashbacks, or there are infinite timelines. For a universe that is finite, I find it hard to believe that anything infinite can come from it. Besides, having a fractured lifetime could be somewhat interesting if you aren’t driven insane.
This could be a brave new world where not only is anything possible in the future, everything is possible in the past.
Perhaps the best place (or time) to go for the time traveler would be the future. I would choose a method where you don’t even need a fancy phone booth. I would choose to make the Rip Van Winkle Caper a reality. I mean, who doesn’t like a good caper?
To mastermind a gold heist and to enjoy it after a hundred year slumber, you would have to be pretty fit. One, because gold is really heavy. Two, I don’t know if I would want to be riddled with arthritis in a future where everyone is a muscular android lizard person. Actually, you might want to make a lizard person suit out of a set of footie-pajamas so you can blend in.
If you arise in the future and gold is worthless, oh well. Just wait. There are a million jokers traveling through time and they are bound to change your future.
I certainly remember reading numerous fiction books as a kid. I was a voracious reader and I enjoyed the dry as dust nonfiction books because they were retelling events of something that actually occurred. It was not some absurd story about a nude parrot getting smuggled down to “too damn vivid South America.” Besides, this was maybe a dozen years before Tom Robbins even penned Fierce Invalids… However, I remember checking out a forgotten Jacques Cousteau book numerous times at the school library. It appears my obsession with reading books that were fact and not some fantastical adventure stunted my creative nature. And I don’t even think I was old enough to wear my nerd glasses. I got those when I was ten.
Around fourth grade, I remember we had creative writing assignments. I figured I was doing great until the parent-teacher meeting. “Mr. Luoma, your son is not creative,” was the gist of the conversation. It was like someone dug my dad’s heart out with a titanium spork, cut it into chunks, and proceeded to catch a thirty-eight pound catfish with his left ventricle as bait.
My dad made it his mission to try to make us well rounded little people. He referred to parenting children as “an experiment.” Terrific. He must have taken food science instead of chemistry where he would have learned that experiments can end badly. The type of experiment you would find on The Island of Dr. Moreau.
I don’t remember what my dad did to make me creative, but I do remember he made me read the dictionary aloud when I was fourteen in a lame attempt to cure my lisp. By the way, broadcasting school cured me of that. I like to imagine his creativity experiment was somewhat creative involving army ants and GI Joe action figures. I imagine his methods were no less diabolical. I think army ants were GI Joe’s other half of the battle.
Somewhere between then and my junior year I became unglued. I had entered a world where I’m the only one who thought I was funny. My drama teacher in eleventh grade called my dad in for a parent-teacher meeting. She told my dad I was “peculiar.” Seriously. I didn’t know how to take that.
In college, I used to get drunk and write my term papers. My English professor who also happened to be the Dean of the Humanities department once accused me of plagarism. He said my typical writing was hackneyed and this one sentence in this one paper on mythology was decent. Decidedly, I must have stolen it. I think he forgot the first rule of Fight Club. Never look for quotable material while drinking. Make everything up so you can get back to drinking. After I reminded him of the first rule, he realized that even hacks get lucky sometimes.
This post is response to the Weekly Writing Challenge on reflections.
Names can be like baggage. For better or worse, you drag your name along for a lifetime. However, one occasionally can escape their given name only to get a worse one.
My last name is peculiar, but I like it as it is uncommon. I like to identify with it. It is especially vowel-y that intimidates strangers. It flows like cool water which is fitting as my grandpa told me it meant creek. Luoma. Loo-oh-muh. Just like it’s spelled.
My name was borrowed from my grandpa. It even soan old guy’s name. He went by Ted. That’s normal enough, but my parents insisted on calling me by my initials. TJ is the epitome of uncool. I have actually spent most of my adult life running from it.
I was a disc jockey for many years. It’s a beautiful profession. You can choose any name you want and that name is the key to becoming someone else. When I started work at an active rock station I needed a flashy name. I settled on Naked Jake.
I was around 23. I thought I needed a name that would be remembered. I chose a name that cannot be forgotten. I’m 38 with a wife and three daughters now, and it no longer feels cool. It feels like a name you would give to the creeper that hangs out at the bus stop. It can’t get much worse unless you ARE the creeper at the bus stop.
It now seems that I am saddled with a mélange of monikers. My family calls me TJ. Old radio pals know me as Naked Jake. Then there are the few who call me Theodore or Theo. I’ll answer to anything, but my favorite name is Daddy.
This post is response to the Weekly Writing Challenge on names.