Random Musings

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Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, United States

Thursday, March 31, 2005


My friend Brett told me last night that he is going to a Christening for his baby nephew this weekend. Maybe its because I haven't been around babies that much, but this is something I'm entirely unfamiliar with. Do they not name the baby until then? Is it the same as a baptism, or different? I'm not sure. I only hope they use a mini-bottle or something rather than the champagne bottle.

Monday, March 28, 2005

The Tin Man

Does anyone remember the old 70's song "The Tin Man" by "America"?
I was listening to that song yesterday for the first time since I stopped having to listen to my parents' radio station, probably back in 1979 or '80. When listening I finally heard the correct words to the song, which say "But Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man, that he didn't already have." This was apparently suggesting that the Tin Man already had a heart, as evidenced by his actions in helping Dorothy in her cause.
Now that is somewhat different from my understanding of what the song meant when I was a child. I had always thought the song said "I never did give nothing to the Tin Man, that he didn't already have." Very similar - only one word different, Oz for I, but it gave me a very different idea of the song. I had always imagined a rather sadistic guy who would always give gifts to some unfortunate guy in town called the Tin Man, but every time he would give a gift, he would make sure that it was something the Tin man already had, just to torment him. He would always give it with the greatest sincerity, and always things that most people wouldnt know he already had, just to see the Tin man excited about getting a gift, wondering what it was, and then the inevitable disappointment that it was something he already had, then watching the Tin man struggle to be polite and pretend he really wanted it. And each time a little more, the Tin Man would wonder if the giver did this intentionally, but would immediately feel guilty for having such a thought and banish it from his mind; that is, until it happened again. So apparently that wasn't what it was about. Maybe I should write a song about that then.

Friday, March 18, 2005


Yesterday I was with one of my tutoring students, waiting for him to complete some work, when I had a memory that helped give me a breakthrough in a story I'm working on. Some background is in order.
Long ago, maybe 7 or 8 years ago, I went through some difficult times. Of course, that's a serious understatement. It was something that entirely broke me spiritually and psychologically, that I am still trying to heal from. As you can guess, it began as a relationship. A great relationship. The perfect relationship, with the perfect girl. No exaggeration. Beautiful, very intelligent, artistic, talented, honest, fun, confident, strong, and she was as in love with me as I was with her. And Robert Frost was right: nothing gold can stay. It didn't last. after several great months, for no clear reason, she began using heroin, and quickly turned into a junkie. Things pretty much went downhill at that point. Really really far downhill. So now, 7 or 8 years later, depending where you count from, I decided that telling the story, writing it so I could really see what happened would be the best way to finish dealing with the whole thing. I still couldn't write about it directly, at least not if I wanted to be honest, so I switched the genders of the characters to make it feel more like a story and less like my life. I thought this would help me, and maybe also help anyone I am close to - its too personal and bad for me to ever be able to tell anyone the whole story in a way that conveys anything, so I'm hoping that I can let them read the story to understand what happened then. Okay, so now you understand why I'm writing the story.

Now, I know the point is supposed to be therapy, but I'm not going to write a story that doesn't work as a story too, so I was stuck. I was writing, and I realized that I would have to explain somehow why the perfect person would just suddenly flip a switch and fuck their whole life by getting addicted to heroin. I tried to think how to convey it, then realized I needed to decide what the reason was first. That was when I figured out that I had no idea why she had done it, and that that was one of the mysteries of it that really continued to bother me. Then yesterday I remembered for some reason a statement she'd made, seemingly at random. She had commented that she was intrigued by the idea of the hair shirt. I hate to admit it, but at the time I had no idea what a hair shirt was, I assumed it was something like a mohair jacket, so I didn't think about it at all. But yesterday I remembered that comment, and it fit. For those of you who dont know, a hair shirt is a shirt made of boar bristles that is worn underneath the clothing on the bare skin. It scrapes the skin raw and then scratches the raw skin all day long. The purpose of these was for penance; if someone felt they had sinned very terribly, they could pay penance for their sins this way, and through other methods of self torture - like Reverend Dimmesdale's self-flagellation in "The Scarlet Letter." It fit with so many other things about her - her sense of honesty was so strong that she could not abide the idea of having an unpaid moral debt, and though she never shared what it was, I could feel some hidden guilt in her from long in the past, in childhood. I suspect she never consciously enunciated what she was guilty of; most likely that would have revealed how foolish it was to feel guilt over it. I think that was where the heroin came from. I don't think that she felt she deserved to be as happy as we were together. Maybe I'll understand it all by the time the story is done, although I somehow dont think so, and I dont need to understand all of it, just the important parts.