The following is an excerpt from a collection of memories I wrote down in 2003. This piece tells the story of how Tania and I met, and how our relationship began in 1986/87.
I was in a dark hole. In my mind I often picture the year 1985 as this big dark hole. So many things happened that year which shaped my future life, but what really happened is I got stripped down until I was raw, and I looked at myself and what I saw I didn’t like. I knew I needed to turn this around.
How do these changes, these re-creations of our heart happen? Some moments are so crystal clear in their abruptness you know you’ve changed. Some moments wash over you like a slow tide of a long season before the harvest of change comes. I believe in change. I believe people can change. And somewhere in the dark hole of 1985 a change started in me.
I threw away pages of really bad, angry poetry. I got a job as a teller at a bank. I listened to lots of gothic music. I was tall, rail thin, chalk white, with hair that was ratted on top of my head.
I would go to the local Winchell’s Donut Shop when I got home from my teller job for my evening cup of coffee. One day in September of 1986, I saw a very beautiful girl behind the counter. We started talking about working at the donut shop. I had worked there a year earlier as a late night baker for about 3 months. It was the longest amount of time I held a job during that year.
As we talked I found out her name, that she was out of cigarettes, and she was at the beginning of her shift. When I left the donut shop I walked to the nearby Thrifty Drugstore and bought her a pack of her brand of cigarettes (Marlboro Light 100’s). I came back, walked past the line of people and laid them on the counter. I pushed the pack across to her and said, “Here you go…Tania,” making sure to pronounce her name correctly, which so many people don’t. Then I went home.
I thought about her a lot, making many trips to the donut shop for coffee in the following weeks. I found out she had a boyfriend, and I wasn’t going to interfere with that. Not again.
I just came in with my poems, which had started to get better, and tapes of my music. We talked and smoked cigarettes along with her friend Jamie who worked there with her. Jamie was her best friend at the time. Sometimes we’d all go in the back room and get stoned, then just hang out some more. We became good friends very quickly.
Tania was only 17 at the time, and I was 22, but she was just as old as I was. We both had been spending the last few years doing the same drugs, having similar experiences, just in different crowds.
We spoke the same language, but only in the way that meeting your other half makes a language like no other.
It was only a month later that Tania got rid of her boyfriend, and asked me out. That was October 12, 1986 – From that moment onward, life became amazing.
Some people are just meant for each other, and this was just one of those things. God made me for Tania and He made Tania for me. I’m sure there are lots of perfect fits like ours out there in the world…
Because we were in Irvine, California we found each other. Our families traveled great distances over time to bring us together.
Tania’s dad’s family left Belgium the same time my parents left Illinois (1952) and settled in the same year in the same town in Southern California (Pasadena).
Over the next 35 years our families wandered around Southern California until the necessary pieces fell into place and brought us together in Irvine, where we could meet in a little donut shop.
Wonderful memories about the beginning of our relationship that I cherish:
It was a full moon that first night; we watched a cat stumble through the street and get sick; we made love in the parked car for the first of many times together.
We were together from the word go. We both knew it and made it special. We made it more important than anything else, and when Tania said she was going to Minneapolis, I asked if I could go. Of course she said yes.
Before Tania, art was just an idea, a concept out of reach, but she made it real to me. Creativity sparked immediately when we came together.
I compiled a collection of all the music I had been working on in a project called Eccentric Activities.
I started collecting my poems and then a friend wanted to publish them as a book, which he did, and it was called “I’d Like To Live That Kind Of Life.”
I had a Yamaha scooter we’d go for cruises on, zipping down to Newport Beach to our pot lady, who was the mellowest, sweetest lady in the world with a goof of a husband and two great kids.
We would sit for hours on my front porch, smoking Marlboro Light 100’s one after another and talking, drinking coffee, and getting stoned.
We sat there, collecting our cigarette butts in coffee cans, discussing everything. We read Kurt Vonnegut books out-loud to each other. We talked about change. We talked about God.
We started building a sculpture, a tower, out of our collected cigarette butts. We made colored glue with Elmer’s glue and food dye. We added odd trinkets to it, like you get out of gumball machines. We would only allow our own cigarette butts. No one else could contribute. We were all about us.
When we left for Minnesota in August, 1987, our sculpture was nearly four feet tall.
Title – “The Big Habit” Dimensions – 71″ x 37″ x 11″ Format – acrylic latex, charcoal, and newspaper on cardboard construction Date –1993
[ In the collection of the artist ]
Our Thai food delivery guy has been in love with this piece for over 5 years. It hangs at the top of the stairs into our apartment and every time he delivers food from The Star of Siam, just down the street, he remarks about the piece.
Sometimes he has a question, but usually it’s just a compliment on the big cigarette box. He smokes Marlboro red pack too.
If he had a bigger place to live in he would own the piece. I told him to let me know when he moves to a larger apartment. Until then, The Big Habit stays hanging at the top of our stairs…
Above: Tania on the cover of The District – December 9, 2009
The District Weekly – December 9, 2009
The new issue of The District came out yesterday with an article that has been much anticipated around our home…
Rachel Powers, a writer for The District, has been putting this article together since the summer, and our friend and professional photographer, Russ Roca, took the photos several months ago.
We had no idea when the story would come out, or that they would choose this photo (above) for the cover shot…
I think it’s a great photo. That’s my beautiful wife, doing what she does everyday – giving her time, energy and love into making other peoples lives better.
I’m very proud of her!
The story is about the amazing place Tania works at called “The Village” which serves the homeless, “mentally ill” population with real care and true compassion.
Long Beach is finally learning about this world-famous and very successful resource in their own downtown.
People who work in the mental health field come from all over the world (right now there is a group from Japan visiting for a week) to do an “Immersion” and find out how the philosophy of The Village works.
The article does a great job of explaining the simple, but radically different approach The Village uses to help remind people that they are somebody of value, to reawaken their forgotten dreams and to both start and continue on that road back to health and stability.
Tania started working there in September of 2005 – how she got there is a story for another time – and since then she has grown in amazing ways.
I feel honored to be a part of her story and to be able to offer her my unconditional support for the work she does.
An added bonus every evening is to look up a see the planet Venus as the evening star, which sends my mind off into thoughts about the Maya time-system , non-linear time-space, my place on a round planet and other “beyond the horizon” kind of mental explorations.
I’m sure it does the same thing for you too…
About the image: photos from my cellphone on January 30th, 2009
Welcome to Part Two of an election time allegorical story called STEW, or, How Esau Lost The 2008 Election.
And now for something completely different…
Today we have a semi-epic Biblical drama, Journey to Mesopotamia, to add more ingredients to this stew, and to help us understand the background of our story…
I imagined this drama in what I call “Star-Wars-o-Vision”, an epic and lush George Lucas-esque styling – available in wide screen HD for those of you with a great visual imagination.
Keep in mind all the allegorical imagery from Part One as we move ahead… all the pieces will add up as the story moves along.
Plagiarism Disclaimer: The following story is mostly lifted from Genesis 24:13-67 using the American Standard Version, the New American Standard Version and a few modifications of my own…
A Note on Hebrew Names for God:
Elohim is a Hebrew word for God which means: gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural) of the supreme God.
Jehovah is another of the Hebrew word for God which means: self existent or eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God as in, Jehovah, the Lord.
Source – Strong‘s Hebrew and Greek Dictionary.
Journey to Mesopotamia
Scene I: The Oath
Setting: Widescreen view out over a vast desert landscape, bleak, but colorized a bit with some deeper colors to give it the “settling in to an epic story” feel. As the camera scans the desert a great settlement of tents, people and herds comes into view in the valley below… the camera shifts to inside of Abraham’s tent, decorated in early “Raiders of the Lost Ark” style…
Casting notes: Abraham is play by Jack Nicholson in this scene and his servant is played by Morgan Freeman, who is also the narrator, like in “The Shawshank Redemption“…
Abraham’s Servant: Our story begins after Abraham has mourned the death of his beloved wife Sarah…
In that day Abraham was old and advanced in age, and Jehovah had blessed Abraham in every way, but he could see his son Isaac was still heartsick because of his mother’s death.
One day Abraham called me into his tent, because I was his oldest and most trusted servant, and he made me swear an oath
Abraham: I will make you swear by El-Shaddai, the Elohim of heaven and the Elohim of earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son from the Daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, but you shall go to my country and to my relatives and take a wife for my son Isaac.
Abraham’s Servant: Suppose the woman will not be willing to follow me to this land; should I take your son back to the land where you came from?
Abraham [exploding]: Beware lest you take my son back there! El Shaddai, the Elohim of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and the land of my birth, and who spoke to me, and who swore to me, saying ‘To your descendants I will give this land,’ He will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there.
But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this my oath; only do not take my son back there.
Abraham’s Servant: So I made an oath with Abraham concerning this matter. He gave me ten camels loaded with a variety of good things and special gifts he gave into my hand, and I left for Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor, the snoring father of civilization, back to the land that my master Abraham had left so long ago.
Scene II: The Well at Nahor
Setting: another view out over a vast desert landscape… the camera moves towards the caravan of ten camels that is coming to a stop at a desert well of water, it is late afternoon…
Abraham’s Servant: When I approached the city of Nahor, and came to the well where the women came to draw the evening water, I made the camels knee down and I dismounted.
I looked around me and made a request to the Jehovah, the Elohim of my master, Abraham.
O Jehovah, the Elohim of my master Abraham, send me, I pray thee, success this day, and show kindness unto my master Abraham.Behold, I am standing by the fountain of water.
The daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water, so let it come to pass, that the girl to whom I shall say, ‘Let down thy pitcher, please, that I may drink.’
And she shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels also.’
May she be the one whom thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac. And thereby shall I know that thou hast showed kindness unto my master.
Abraham’s Servant continues: While I was still addressing Jehovah I saw coming towards me a beautiful maiden who I later found out was Rebekah who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, with her jar upon her shoulder.
Note on Rebekah’s name: could be translated from the Hebrew as “The clog, the fettering beauty born to the son who was destroyed by God, born of the queen to the snoring brother of Abraham” or something like that…see Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionary.
Abraham’s Servant continues: This girl was very beautiful to look at, a virgin, who had not yet been touched for the very first time. She went down to the fountain, and filled her jar, and came up again…
Abraham’s Servant [running to meet Rebekah]:Give me to drink, please, a little water from your jar.
Rebekah [lowering her jar to her hand, and giving Abraham’s servant a drink]: Drink.
Rebekah [after Abraham’s servant finishes drinking]: I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.
[Rebekah quickly emptied her pitcher into the watering trough, and runs back the well to draw more water, and continued until all the camels had been satisfied.]
Abraham’s Servant [narrating]: All the while I watched her, holding my peace, to know whether Jehovah had made my journey successful or not…
When the camels had finished drinking, I knew in my heart she was the one so I gave her a golden ring for her nose, and ten bracelets for her hands.
Abraham’s Servant [speaking to Rebekah]: Whose daughter are you and is there room in your father’s house for myself, my camels and my men to spend the night?
Rebekah: I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor. We have both straw and feed for your camels, and plenty of room for your men.
Abraham’s Servant [bowing his head – praying]: Blessed be Jehovah, the Elohim of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his loving-kindness and his truth toward my master. As for me, Jehovah has led me in the way to the house of my master’s brothers.
Scene III: Mesopotamian Material Girl
Setting: Large settlement with many people carrying on with the daily activities of Mesopotamian people about 3,500 years ago… the camera follows Abraham’s servant (Morgan Freeman) and Rebekah (early Madonna, “Like A Virgin” era) from the well to the house of Laban, the Mesopotamian – Rebekah’s brother (played by Rupert Murdoch in this scene)
Abraham’s Servant [narrating]: I waited as Rebekah ran off to tell her mother’s household.
Now Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban. Soon I saw Laban hurrying out to meet me by the well, because he had seen the gifts I had given Rebekah and had heard her story.
Laban: Don’t just stand there, come blessed of Jehovah… I have prepared the house, and room for the camels.
Abraham’s Servant [narrating]: So I went with Laban to his house where he unloaded the camels, gave them straw and feed and provided water to wash my feet and the feet of the men that were with me.
After this food was set before us to to eat…
Abraham’s Servant [speaking to Laban]: I will not eat, until I have told my business.
Abraham’s Servant: I am Abraham’s servant, and Jehovah has blessed my master greatly. He has become great and Jehovah has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, many servant, and camels and asses.
Now Sarah, my master’s wife, has bore a son to my master in her old-age, and my master has given his son all he has.
Abraham’s Servant [narrating]: I continued to tell him about my oath to Abraham, my request to Jehovah and my meeting with Rebekah by the well…
Abraham’s Servant [continuing to speak to Laban]: If you will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me so. And if not, let me know, so that I may turn to the right hand, or to the left.
Laban (with Bethuel at his side): The matter comes from Jehovah, and is not ours to decide whether this is good or bad.
Behold, Rebekah is before you, take her, and go, and let her be your master’s son’s wife, as Jehovah has spoken.
Abraham’s Servant [narrating]: And it came to pass, that, when I heard their words, I bowed down to the earth and worshiped Jehovah.
After this I brought out jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah. I also gave to her brother and to her mother precious things. Then we ate and drank until the morning.
Scene IV: Blessing Our Sister Rebekah
Setting: Same as Scene III, only now it’s the morning after…
Abraham’s Servant [speaking to Laban]: Send me away to my master.
Laban: Let the girl stay with us a few days, at the least ten. After that she can go…
Abraham’s Servant: Do not delay me, seeing Jehovah has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master.
Laban: We will call the girl, and ask her.
[Rebekah enters the room]
Laban [speaking to Rebekah]: Will you go with this man?
Rebekah: I will go.
Abraham’s Servant [narrating]: And so they sent back to my master Abraham with Rebekah, their sister, with this blessing:
The Voices of Rebekah’s Kin [5 to 6 voices all speaking together]: May you, our sister, become the mother of thousands of ten thousands, and may your descendants possess the gate of those that hate them.
Scene V: Back To Canaan
Setting: another view out over a vast desert landscape… the camera moves towards a caravan of many camels, it is late afternoon…
Abraham’s Servant [narrating]: Rebekah arose, along with her maids, and they rode upon their camels, following me as I returned to my master Abraham and his son, Isaac.
Isaac lived in the Negev, or the south, along the way of Beer-lahai-roi (which means: the well of a living seer).
While Isaac was meditating in the field one evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and, behold, there were camels coming.
Meanwhile, Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel.
Rebekah [speaking to Abraham’s servant]: What man is this that walk in the field to meet us?
Abraham’s Servant: It is my master.
[Rebekah takes her veil, and covers herself. Isaac enters the scene]
Abraham’s Servant [narrating]: When Issac met us, I told him all the things that I had done.
After this, Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother Sarah’s tent, and she became his wife and he loved her.
With this, Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
End: Credits Start To Roll…
I hope you enjoyed my Bible story for today… I’ll have Professor Yarnhead here later to help explain some of the allegorical clues from this story.
Note: I was up late on the Monday writing and rewriting and rewriting this piece. I think I caught all my typos… let me know if you find anything I missed.
The Twins Story (the birth of Esau and Jacob) has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Election Day…
Also coming up on the 4th… Greed Stew for Esau and Blind Stew for Isaac.
I grew up as a Christian, and still consider myself one… I mean when it comes to Jesus – I’m a big fan of His work! But this strange Republican-Evangelical love-in freak show has me bothered – really bothered.
Being a Christian means something, I mean, just on the word-usage level. When you say you’re a Christian to someone who doesn’t know you, it carries a certain kind of shorthand statement about you to that person, based on what the word “Christian” means to them.
I don’t know what to call myself since the 2004 election here in the USA. I mean – those Bush Christians, and now a even worse mutation, Palin Christians, don’t resemble anything like Christianity that resembles Jesus’ teachings. Hate your neighbor, attack first, lie, take advantage of the most vulnerable in society – not your grandfather’s Christianity…
And more of the same has the Evangelical Right Wing going crazy? This is Christianity to them? I’m really confused… or they are.