Sunday, August 04, 2002

Sunday night in the world. Beautiful Sunday morning. All peace and quiet and cloudy muffled. Finished a book, "The Journey to Ixtlan" by Carlos Castaneda. A trail buddy who worshipped psychedelic mushrooms and yurts, Yurtman, was really into Castaneda. The guy wrote three books about his experience with a Mexican mystic, don Juan. Lots of new-agey incomprehensibility, but some advice good. Like talking to plants. Like there being power places on earth. Like the power of the earth being strongest at first light and sunset. Curling your fingers as you walk gives you more stamina. Stuff like that. But a lot of it, like learning the art of "not doing" and "stopping the world" were beyond my grasp. Maybe I need further enlightenment.

After the book I returned it to its owner, John Panek, an old tennis buddy from college who recently moved to Rockford. He's like my newest closest friend. He's married and his wife, Julie, is very cool. They are both a nice couple. Esther and I need more "couple" friends. Most couples our age have children, and the ones that don't aren't living around here. Panek and I played tennis for the first time together since he moved here. I have been lax about playing tennis this summer, and I have no excuse. I have a list of numbers of guys who love to play, and I haven't called them. I can still do that, but it is hard to find the time. No excuses. I could make the time. I want to seriously diminish the gut before my 30th birthday. Got to lay off those stout beers, junk food and desk jockey ways. Bad habits all. Cannot neglect this prime of life. Must develop healthier habits.

So John and I played tennis, and old beer-gutted me whomped on Panek, 6-0, 6-2, in front of his wife. I had some good strokes. We both had some good volleys. But there were too many unforced errors, dink second serves. But as usual I remained cool and detached and analyzed my game and slowly got my stroke back. John grew more and more frustrated and threw his racket a few times. I think John was trying too hard to impress her. He kept swinging for the fences and way more often than not he was out. The few wicked strokes he got in were nearly unhittable. But there was no control. Maybe he's coming around to his game different than me. Some guys like to whallop and whallop, and control will come with touch and repetition. I'm more about process and technique, and only going for the sure shots. Does tennis reflect one's life values? Is John more of a foolhardy risk-taker than I? I admit I like to take risks, but, in tennis and in life, they are always well calculated ones. We played at the Auburn High School tennis courts. John and I both talked about substitute teaching there. Beforehand, I drove around downtown Rockford, 7th St., and then near Kent Creek, showing John some of the seedier side and talking a little history. What little I know. I was going to go by Fairgrounds Park, where baseball was played in the 1860s and Albert Spaulding played, but we didn't get around to it.

I showed John and Julie where we lived and it turns out John had been in my apartment before. An old friend of his used to live in our place years ago. Strange small world. I have this childhood belief in ghosts, but don't think they are conscientous disconnected spirits, but the residual life energy of those people and things which dwelled there before you. And now I am trying to pick up on the ghost energy of John's friend, but nothing is coming in on the radar. Only very rarely do I get the sense of things past. Each time I have it has been a magical, transcendent experience. Okay, now I'm speaking like Castaneda. But at least I'm not talking Borley Rectory. Or the evil faces that appeared in the tile of a Peruvian kitchen that haunted me for weeks. Or the Amityville Horror or Helter Skelter or any of the other whacked out literature from way back in the day that I once bought into.

The Cubs won, 4-1. I caught the last three innings. Covered a Grand Prix event in downtown Beloit. Go-Karts. Hay bales and tires. Seedy hick element gaudy NASCAR element. The winning team for three years running is the only one to have its own trailer. Beefy fat guy whose skinny son competes professionally. Beefy fat guy I could never imagine in one of these little carts. But he's crew chiefed the winning cart team the last three years running. Guess we all got to be good at something. Better than sitting at home watching TV, potato chip crumbs collecting on the navel. Wrote two stories in dark office air conditioned comfort then was back home.

Steak dinner at parent's. Mike is still unemployed, but used very clever word play when I asked him how his job search was going. He said there has been a dwell in interviews lately. And I reply, don't you mean 'lull?' And he says no, dwell. Typical argument settler in my family, Mike takes well-thumbed dictionary out of kitchen pantry (my mother does a lot of crossword puzzles in the kitchen) and looks up dwell. Of course there's all that verb stuff about living, residing, being in a certain place. But at the end of the definition there is a noun version of the word, from the world of computer programming, in which dwell means a programmed space in planned activities. Basement boy brother used the right word in the wrong context, but was right on with his intended meaning. I'm impressed. There is some wisdom to be found in Mike's odd ways. He is so easily dismissed as something of a crackpot, and, yes, he does not have any sense of self control over his finances and is socially awkward, but he possesses an original mind, and that gets my respect.

Backtrack to Thursday, Aug. 1. We had a special meeting of the Rock County chapter of the Ice Age Trail foundation to select a proposed trail route through Rock County to include on the county's five year parks and outdoor recreation and open space plan (POROSP). For the eastern corridor from Janesville to the Walworth County line we reached a consensus on a trail corridor and I actually made the official proposal to include that corridor on the plan. Secretary Carla Hanson wrote every word I said and it was approved by all in attendance. Sure, it was a procedural move, and I only put it into words, but it is the first official act I have ever made after reporting on countless official acts of others. Sadly, there were no newspaper reporters in attendance.

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