Seeing In The Dark

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JK and I have both been grumbling about darkness. Not about the lack of sunlight; after 34 years, we should be accustomed to winter up here.

It's driving in the darkness, with added rain and windshield wipers that might or might not be the culprit. It's become a little intimidating, and we tend to drive much slower and take it easy.

So when I looked at my 30-mile trip to regular Wednesday choir practice last night, and noted the incoming rain and, of course, knowing about the traffic, instead of opting for a later takeoff I went for earlier, with more daylight. I left at 4:45pm for a 7pm rehearsal then, with The West Wing Weekly podcast to keep me company. Slow and steady, I planned on at least an hour. It was closer to 90 minutes, which is crazy but not unexpected.

And at about the 45-minute mark, although unbeknownst to me, the power went out in the neighborhood of the church. This seems to have been some sort of mechanical failure, not an accident or related to the weather. It happens.

It happened to my wife, as it turned out, when she was alone at church, filing music folders in a back room, a room without the emergency battery-powered lights we discovered existed in much of the church (who knew). So she was stranded for a few moments in the dark, her phone 40 feet away in another room, a little spooky.

And I was crawling along surface streets, a couple of miles from church, peering through the pouring rain at the nearly-invisible road, wondering about my lousy vision and why everything just seemed so dark, eventually realizing that it wasn't just me and more than a little frustrated by that.



Choir was cancelled, then, which always make me think of a long Readers Digest article, probably from the 1950s, discovered in some anthology my mom had. I think it was called The Night The Choir Was Late, or similar, and I think about it a lot. It was about a choir practice in a small church in a small town, and the story carefully followed the lives of various choir members as they got delayed and held up from their normal weekly rehearsal. Everyone was late, on this one particular night. Just a little late.

And something blew up. A furnace or something, just a random mechanical accident that would have been devastating had anyone been in the building, as they normally would have been.

That's a lot for a kid to chew on, reading the story. Now it seems unbelievable, surely something structured in a way to point out the bizarre coincidence and ascribe something supernatural or mystical.

And, as I just found out, it was all true. You can read the story here on Snopes, but to sum up, it was in Beatrice, Nebraska, on March 1, 1950. Everybody was late, for various reasons or, in a few cases, none at all, just the way it worked out. Five minutes after choir was supposed to have started, BOOM. It knocked a local radio station off the air. Nobody was hurt.

I'm not claiming any divine intervention for our power going out. I still don't know what to think about the furnace story, although I guess it actually happened. I just think about it on choir nights, and wait for the explosion.


A friend just made a comment on Facebook referencing Everybody Loves Raymond, and I thought about how strange it is that I pretty much skipped the 1990s when it comes to television. I was aware of it, and I saw plenty of parts of episodes of Raymond, as well as Seinfeld, Mad About You, etc., but I wasn't a watcher then. And it's awkward to come across a classic years later and try to offer commentary. Like seeing Citizen Kane one night when you're bored and sitting in a hotel room. Wow, I discovered this great movie!

I've only been drinking coffee for about 10 years. For sort of an example. Took me nearly half a century to get there. I've got plenty more where that came from, though. Sometimes it takes a while.

Gingerbread being the latest example. Rarely ate it, never made it, and now I'm craving that spicy ginger goodness all the time. The first time I made those gingerbread bars, I mixed up way too much glaze, and it sat in my refrigerator for a week or so, scowling at me.

So I made some more bars, and slathered them with glaze, and Oh Em Gee. My mouth cried. I ate the rest of them yesterday, knowing it was the right thing to do. It's just gingerbread, chewy and moist. But it's my gingerbread, and it's really good.

My weight is not so good, although in an amusing way. If I hadn't been so obsessive about the scale for the past decade or so, I'm not sure how I'd feel about gaining five pounds over the holidays. Probably frustrated enough to gain another five.

But no. It's just the relentless snacking that keeps more food sitting around in my stomach, so instead of saying 167-168 lbs, which I think is accurate, it's been 172-173 lbs for a couple of weeks now, maybe a bit longer. It'll recover, but what's funny is how my brain dismisses the numbers. I mean, I weigh what I weigh. The scale isn't being passive-aggressive (although it can be), and what difference does it make anyway?

It makes a difference to me. It tells me that I'm heading in a direction, and it depends on how I feel at that moment about that particular direction. It sends up a flare, alerting me that there may be something else going on, something more serious. Mood issues, something. I'm really not crazy when it comes to this. Just a little obsessive.

It's just about controlling what I can, as I've said before. It inspires me to pick up the exercise, cook more vegetables, move more. It alerts me, and alert is better than not.


And then there's this.

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I found this with On This Day this morning (there are three this-es in that sentence, which makes me nuts for some reason). It's from a stranger, some guy who somehow asked to be my friend and somehow I agreed. He's a thoughtful, intelligent person who usually posts thoughtful, intelligent pieces about the world and science and politics, but we don't know each other at all.

And this came right after (I'm assuming) Facebook allowed us to start posting pictures and albums, as weird as that sounds (now that it's sort of the point of Facebook), when I added some photos. I don't know what to make of his comment, although I've heard similar things for most of my life. I look different at different times, as we all do, but somehow people tend to remark on me.

None of the pictures, by the way, were of the before-and-after variety in terms of fatness. They were as flattering as I could find, of course. So that's not it. I don't know what it is, I just saw this and wondered again. And now I'm going to think about it all day.

And about Beatrice, Nebraska. I wonder if that church is still there. I wonder if they had power last night. I wonder if ours ever came back on. I'll be here all day.

Chuck SigarsComment