Posted by: jamesotis | September 24, 2008

Meme’d Moments

Thanks Marge. And thanks Turtle, not only for kicking this off but for being one of the wonderful librarians who won’t call the men in white coats just because someone is crying at the computers.

The defining moments in our lives shape not only who we are but how we view the world. There are many people and events that color our perspective on life and fine-tune our ideals and values, but there are a select few that hold a special gravity, they mark turning points, growth, milestones.

So what moments (some longer than others) shaped my life as a clay shapes the potter?

The summer after kindergarten held two such moments, but only one that I can bring myself to blog about today. One emotional item per blog and in nice chewable bits please. (By myself at any rate. Dig out your steak knives and meat saws y’all. I routinely bite off more than my readers can chew.) That summer I read my first Big Book. I’d been chipping away at my family’s Tom Swift Jr. novels for a year, but here was a masterpeice: Robin Hood. In Middle English. The KJV is good for something besides brainwashing diciples and confusing your teachers (honest, it was my sister Lilith, not me). My first Wonderful Librarian, whose name escapes me at the moment (*many days later* – Miss Markoff), lent it to me from the school library with a wink to my mom. And a dropped jaw when I returned the tome, read and understood cover to cover.  Besides giving me a taste for ecclectic and skilled literature it gave me a portal into a whole new world. I would become the kid who, in the absence of a television, stayed up reading and invented ways to avoid detection. Who when asked by his dad if he was alright (I had leaned over to get my backpack out of the car footwell and stayed hunched over) would reply, “Hmm? Oh, I’m reading the back of this oil can.” TV is O.K., but my imagination is better.

Similarly, my first taste of radio frequency energy. My family would sit nearly every year, listening to The Hobbit on NPR. We went so far as to bootleg copies. We even abandoned Family Reading Time. As soon as I was trusted with my own radio I snagged the next pair of broken headphones I saw and learned the art of searching out distant radio and TV stations, DXing. Later would come my Brittish obsession, accent aquisiton and further consternation of the world in general. Today I hold a General class U.S. Amateur Radio Licence, but am seldom on the air. I still prefer to build antennas and snoop around the ionosphere.

Speaking of FRT, it’s right up there. Marge, you are still perhaps the best story reader I know. Seldom an accent, but inflection that tells another story beside words. Such books as Below the Root, and it’s sequel And All Between, The Hobbit, Sweetwater and various others. No wonder I was am so strange. I still have the urge to try to fly, walk on water and communicate with animals. And not just at the peaks of mood swings either.

Like my sis, my older brother’s death changed me. And as for that unearthly noise that Dad made, now I know who made it. I can still hear it and it still unnerves me. That was when I saw my dad feel pain, raw, gut eating pain. Something I’ve only seen one time since. The time he was grey and sweaty and hopping, unable to walk or lie down from a bad case of intestinal flu and I had to take him to the ER. And with no protest from him, which really scared me. Dad never goes to the doc. **And what was the question?** Oh. Yes. Quite. *Ahem*

Duff’s death gave me one of the strangest relationships with death that I’ve found, even among professional killers, healers, rescuers and morticians and their ilke. I know death like most people know the guy who operates the next machine up the line, or the security guard at work. “My old friend? My old enemy? How shall I call you, Sam Adams?” No, I can’t bring myself to try the beer of the same name. Just too weird. I know when the person under my hands has died, is dying or is about to be given the chance. When death was good or not so fitting. I’ve been stupid enough to pray for dreams showing me how I die. Don’t ask.

Learning to ride a bicycle. What would become my favored transportation for 20+ years. Still would be, were it not for shattering my arm because my brain hadn’t sufficiently recovered from being pasted by a truck while riding 7 months prior. But yes, I still ride, and commute occasionaly on my bike. But no longer my beloved vintage road bikes.

Becoming a traumatic brain injury survivor changed me in many, many ways. I estimate a 30% personality difference based on my friend’s and family’s comments. Marge thinks it’s just the me that was always there and got stuffed away in a large jar at the back of the closet, like the pet garter snake I wasn’t supposed to have. The snake, incidentally, ended up dying in that house’s air ducts. Still, Mr. Lady & company have me beat.

My TBI changed my relationships, mostly for the better. It changed my view of disabilities. It hooked me up with a friend and hero, the woman who inspired me to get off my hospital bed/walker/cane and rise to greater hights than before. I shall always count Fry as my wingman. But who knew that I’d have a matching goatee that night?

Meeting Doc, my eerily similar friend. Thanks for giving me the courage to be who I am and ask 4 and/or take what I want. You rock gal.


I’m in the middle of several moments that may well go down as life changing/defining. Look out future, I’m coming up the path.

“You mean you’re comparing our lives to a sonnet? A strict form, but freedom within it?

Yes…. You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.”
-Calvin and Mrs. Whatsit, in A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle.



  1. I am currently reading Sweetwater aloud with Bart. Below the Root is next – and the 6 or 7 other books by the same author.

    According to my crystal ball, the next 3-5 years will be the best of your life yet, with “moments” occurring non-stop 🙂

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