21 Again

I just turned 21 again, in a fashion.  Today is Homecoming for my high school.  On Homecoming Day, 1990, something happened that had a major impact on my life.  Literally and figuratively.  Only two other events have played a larger role in shaping who I am.

I was in 8th grade.  We had been let out of school after a half day, so we could celebrate Homecoming.  The parade route went right past the end of my street, so my mom and sister had gone to the end of the street to watch.  I, like many of my schoolmates, was riding my bike around the neighborhood while we waited for the parade to go by.  Something someone said to me got me upset, so I decided to burn off my anger by riding as fast as I could.  The way my sub was set up, there was a very convenient loop, with a gradual rise with a sharper drop, with the parade route only about 50 feet from the end of the loop.  Riding a ten-speed, I was able to really build up some speed.  Until I decided to go as fast as I could going down that hill.

I realized my mistake as I made the turn at the end of the loop nearest the parade, which had just started passing by.  To be more precise, as I tried to make that turn.  I was going too fast, and couldn’t make the turn.  And for the second time in my life, the handbrakes on my bike failed as I braked too hard.  Which left me a choice: I could hit the parked car, or I could hit the oak( or was it a maple?) tree that was about 3 feet in diameter.  I choose the car, as it was less solid and frankly, less vertical.  Which wasn’t that bad a choice, as it turns out: I didn’t hit the car.  My bike wrapped itself around the bumper, sure, but I sailed over the car and landed on my chin, knocked unconscious.

Fortunately, the ambulance was just a block away, part of the parade.  So it turned at my street rather than continue in the parade.  (I later got a nice card from the fire department, apologizing for not being there – they had already passed my street).  A neighbor saw my mom, and said she’d take care of my sister so she could go to my side.  When I came to several hours later, I had total amnesia.  I didn’t even recognize my name or my mother’s voice.  Over the course of the next eight hours, I regained memories chronologically.  Not many, but it was definitely in a chronological order, and I acted like I had at that age.  My first memory is of the doctor asking what month it was.  I was only off by about a month at that point.

When I returned to classes the next Monday, I learned what it was like to be an idiot savant.  My first academic class was a math class, Algebra if I recall correctly (I was on an advanced math track, in any case).  The teacher had me do some problems.  It was weird – I had no idea what these strange symbols meant, but I knew the correct symbol to write and the correct spot to write them.  By the end of the week, I regained my knowledge of what letters and numbers represented.  I had other problems those first days back.  I used to have beautiful handwriting, but I struggled to print even simple sentences.  Speaking was a problem as well.  I could partially visualize the words I wanted, but getting them out of my mouth was nearly impossible, and very frustrating.

I have never fully recovered.  Most of my memories never came back, and I have trouble retaining new ones.  My time sense is skewed, and time passes for me almost as if I were thirteen years younger.  While I am very good with math, I don’t remember how I learned to do anything before Algebra – I can do it with ease, but the basic underlying theory is just not there.  Speech and language was a major problem for many years, though I am much better now than even 14 years ago, when I met my wife, and to this day I will often struggle to properly form words (for example, saying cut instead of cot – I even know that I’m doing it).  Learning a foreign language is likely an impossibility at this point.  I have trouble parsing what I hear – often I have to ask people to repeat themselves be causeI matchedthe pho nemesincor rectly.  And most pertinent to this blog, writing is like wading through molasses.  A paragraph takes half an hour to write.  A report for work can take a day or more, where someone else would get it done in an hour at most.  One of the reasons I keep trying to keep the blog going is in hopes that by forcing myself to write, I will get past the block the damage created.  And it has worked to some extent already.

And that, while true, is only part of the story, the part that I tell people.  Read on for the rest of the story.

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Well, one last swing at this blogging thing.  I have a new computer, which hopefully will make writing easier (for one thing, the keyboard on the old one never worked right, and I had major problems uploading pictures, ending the Monthly Mascot just as soon as it started).  One thing I realized is that, at this point, I simply can’t produce the high quality, well-researched posts in the quantity I’d like.  But I also didn’t want to throw in a lot of fluff, where I’m just parroting some information from another blog.  So I invited a couple of authors to the blog.  Sort of.

Sort of?

Yeah.  You see, I’m a member of the Society for Creative Anachronisms, a medieval re-enactment group that researches and recreates aspects of history for fun and education.  As a member of over 16 years, I have developed a couple of personas.  The first persona, Calum, is a 16th Century Scot from the isle of Raasay.  He will be writing about his experiences as a fencer and an archer, and he is just starting to explore making camp furniture and other large wooden constructs.  The new persona, Tokihira, is a poet-scholar from Heian Japan (the Heian era stretches from the 9th to the 12th Centuries; Tokihira is from the early 10th Century).  Poetry will obviously be a major part of Tokihira’s contribution.  In addition, expect research notes on Heian Japan to be posted from time to time.  I of course will still write the type of posts I always intended to write, but I may also use my “co-authors” as inspiration for my own posts.


It was a cold winter evening when I first met her.  I had spent several hours in my fencing gear, winning a few bouts, losing a bit more.  I was a bit lonely, I admit, it being ValDay.  The beautiful young lady I had asked to marry me 31 months earlier was not even in the country.  So when I overheard a man that I vaguely recognized as an officer of the local group ask her if she was enjoying herself, I decided to ask her to dance.  She was a red-head, and with that black corset, she had curves that would make Marilyn Monroe jealous.

To my delight, she said yes.  After a few dances, we swapped stories.  She had just moved here from Down South.  When I told her my fiancee was studying in Mexico, she perked up.  It turns out that she had been to the same city a few years before my fiancee’s first visit.  They even studied the same field!  I knew they would be instant friends.

Meanwhile, a man danced with his wife.

I was right: they became fast friends even before my fiancee returned from Mexico, passing messages through me.  But when we got married, there was an absence.  She hadn’t received her invitation because of an argument with another member of the group.  (To this day, my wife has a tendency to forget that she wasn’t there).  Our wedding was wonderful, the reception the best evening of my life, but there was a bit of a hollow space.

Meanwhile, a man fought in honor of his wife.

The two became even closer as the years passed.  After returning from a year-long research stint in Canada, my wife started spending days at a time at her house, writing the dissertation.  They started a research project together, even managing to drew me in.  But she sometimes felt left out, being single.  They even camped together when i had to work the first week of a two-week camping event.  When a man and his wife announced  they were selling a period tent so they could get a different one, my wife pursuaded me to purchase it so we could camp with her the next year.

Meanwhile, a man lived and camped with his wife.

They started a research project together, even managing to drew me in.  And then another year had passed, and we were getting ready to go out to that annual camping event.  My wife had won; I was going to leave the group I had always camped with so we could camp with her.  I had decided to go out the first weekend to help set up, returning for the full second week.

Meanwhile, a man was left by his wife.

This man was in charge of our camp.  He rode out with me, while the girls went in my wife’s car.  We all decided to make sure that he was taken care of.  It was rough for him, alone in that brand-new tent his wife convinced him to buy the year before.  He and I talked for hours on the trip home – and neither of us are gregarious.

Meanwhile, a man fell in love with a woman.

The man’s wife had already moved out of state to be with the guy she was sleeping with.  Soon, she was pregnant (planned) with the other guy’s kid.  This threw a monkey wrench in the divorce proceedings, which had to wait until the child was born.

Meanwhile, a man proposed to a woman.

We moved, as did some other friends of ours.  And they moved in together.  And she asked my wife to be maid-of-honor.  Soon, I was hip-deep in wedding planning.  And then they traveled with my wife Down South to see her parent and hold the first of three bridal showers.  My wife helped organize and host all three.  And as I write this, it is 12 hours before the rehearsal luncheon.  I will play a small, but important role, so I will be leaving work early.

And by the time this posts, a man will be dancing with his wife.

Congratulations, James and Galen.  It’s been quite the journey.  And we look forward to journeying with you to where it all started – Mexico.

We’re Moving!

Quite a few of the blogs I’ve followed have said that, often when joining the SciBorg collective.  No worries!  You won’t have to update any of your links.  Missing The Point isn’t going anywhere any time soon (insert snark here).

I, however, am moving my physical address next month.  For only about $50/mo more (including extra utility costs), I’ll be closer to work (with a more convenient route), closer to a number of friends, closer to my wife’s family, and getting an additional 200 sq.ft. of living space.  The cons: further from my family and further from a number of our friends.

Some of the things I like about the new place:

  1. Less square footage lost to hallway, meaning we get an extra bath (shower not tub) and walk-in closet
  2. A big pantry in kitchen (no pantry in the old place!) in place of utility room
  3. Slightly larger bedrooms, with lots of light (wall-to wall window starting @ 45″ a.f.f.)
  4. Better layout of closet shelving (old place had shelving that we could only utilize at 50% capacity)
  5. Larger dining room that isn’t a through-fare to living room and dining room
  6. Bigger living room – with a gas fireplace!
  7. A covered balcony 6 times larger than our current one – and as a result, nearly 3 times the light into the living & dining rooms

Some things I’ll miss about the old place

  • Less counter space in kitchen
  • Hanging space in closets not as well laid out
  • Laundry room now a closet
  • Fewer places to hang pictures (or swords or crossbows)

Of course, the real reason we are moving is my wife.  (No, not that!)  She is working on her Ph.D. and the current layout simply is not conducive to her writing her dissertation.  In fact, the current set-up is directly leading to health problems.  So it’s time to cut bait.

Which means that the current molasses-in-January posting rate is going to become positively glacial.  We are going to be moving pretty much all of May.  The good news is I do hope to have a major project for the blog done by early June.  And the new arrangements will also make it more likely that I will have motivation to actually work on the blog.  Motivation, not inspiration, has always been my problem.