Happy ending?

Heaven and Hell are two sides of the same coin.

It’s been going round and around in Alene’s head – and neither one of us can place the exact context of the quote as she remembers it. She Google’d it with no success.

We don’t watch TV or go to the movies. We don’t do Netflix. And we haven’t checked out any DVDs from the library in ages. That leaves just podcasts and M*A*S*H – or a flashback from Doctor Who – which we haven’t watched in the last year. It’s driving Alene crazy because it’s the opening line of a monolog she’s sure is important.

There’s certainly a battle going on her head right now. She hasn’t been talking with me much lately – not freezing me out – just preoccupied with more Earthly troubles – like the UK bombing Syria – and a lot of angst at her job.

I’m able to take heart from what goes on my own head. If I can step into someone else’s head (and eyes and ears) simply by closing me eyes – then it’s easy for me to believe that we are not here by accident. So when Hell comes my way, I just tell it to sod off. Heaven usually reigns in Alene’s head too — but lately, Hell insists on being heard.

Alene remembered a horse she rode when she was young — a very solid, reliable, sturdy animal who could go flat out all day and not get tired. He was exactly the kind of horse you would have wanted in older times, if you had to ride twenty miles in pouring rain in the middle of the night to summon the doctor in an emergency. He would have got you there safely. But this horse had no time for the show ring. He showed utter contempt for the idea of jumping over painted poles in front of spectators — saw no point in it at all — and usually mis-behaved when asked to do it.

 Alene is getting tired of jumping over the painted poles — just wants to head out into the rain and go for the doctor. But she keeps being asked to jump over the painted poles — and is finding it harder and harder to behave….. Every day begins with her feeling the need to apologize for something she did the day before.

“Enough of this,” I insist. “There’s enough Hell out there without you encouraging it.”

I honestly believe there’s a happy ending for Earth — but maybe not in our lifetime.

One day, we will go to war for the last time…..


Be like a duck

You’ve gotta walk the walk,
You’ve gotta talk the talk,
And if you wanna fly,
You gotta take to the sky.

And then there’s:

Please can I keep it!
It’s thumping its tail!
It has such a lovable whine….
Please can I keep it,
Just look at those eyes….
I think it would love to be mine.

We’ve had a few Philadelphia Chickens earworms going round and round today.

We hope you like…..

Alene mentioned yesterday that this was the soundtrack to her life for about three years while she worked at Magic Mouse Toys. It wasn’t playing all the time — but it sure seemed like it. As we remember, it once played on a repeat loop for six (or was it sixteen) consecutive days — which is probably an unbroken store record. One reason is that the CD played on a boom box that was chained to the top shelf of a display — and while it was possible to push the Play button without going for a step stool (especially with use of a stick), changing the CD did require even the tallest staff member to get the step stool — so it usually went unchanged, unless a customer requested to hear something else.

Bing bong!

As it happens, the staff rarely got tired of the Philadelphia Chickens — although six (sixteen) days eventually prompted someone to get the step stool and change the CD — only for a customer to come by about an hour later and ask to hear the Philadelphia Chickens.

It’s pajama time….

Get out of the way

I swim while Alene is on the bus to work. That way, I can listen to a podcast. This morning, we were in the mood to be unapologetically British and listen to something from the BBC Radio 4 In Our Time: History archive — the episode about The Celts, of which Alene can probably claim to be one, as she’s from Cornwall. She’s finally starting to tune into my surroundings as I swim — smelling the chlorine of the pool water — AND, getting a sudden shiver of cold as I get out of the water. She’s formed a picture of the layout of my studio apartment too. I’ve been living there a month now — but she’s been very busy and very distracted.

She’s finishing up her third Coursera course, and I suggested she take a break for December — and perhaps January too. We have some fun projects of our own she needs to work on. And, I’d like us to spend some quality time together, in way we haven’t in a long time.

Alene has typed — and then deleted — five paragraphs so far. It’s not that we have writer’s block. We both have plenty to say — but then we think better of it. Perhaps that is writer’s block!!

Sting was blocked once. Yes the guy from The Police. After a couple of decades of creative inspiration, he couldn’t summon a new song if his life depended on it – until he started writing about shipbuilders in Wallsend — writing in the remarkable Geordie dialect of the far northeast of England. Poetry emerged out of nowhere — and Sting now performs spoken word in his native accent. Check out his TED talk.

We need to get out of our own way too – perhaps go back to our own roots.

The world is coming unglued. Everywhere you look you can feel it. Something big and powerful is coming up fast behind us — and we have to get out of its way — and let it do what it must.

Harry Lime (The Third Man)

The Lives Of Harry Lime is one of our all-time favorite radio dramas. Alene just downloaded all 52 episodes from the Orson Welles On The Air podcast series (part of the Relic Radio stable) at iTunes. The episodes can also be heard here. We plan on a fall Harry Lime bus-riding marathon.

Give it a listen. It’s wonderfully ridiculous! A great way to start your day!

I am calling you

Alene handing back to Mark.

I am calling you

Alene had another earworm recently. But neither one of us could place it. And then it went away. But it resurfaced last night — when we watched the movie Bagdad Cafe. Alene put a request on it at the library several weeks ago and she got to the front of the queue on Saturday. We can’t remember what made us think of it — but perhaps the unidentified ear worm was what subconsciously prompted us to think of the movie.

This movie was particularly wonderful to revisit — because the last (and only time) we saw it was in the spring of 1999 — shortly before our lives got turned upside down. What’s more, I do believe that we watched it at the exact same time.

I was in New York for business, staying over the weekend, and a Saturday night dinner engagement fell through. I wasn’t really disappointed. I am wealthy enough and worldly enough to give myself permission to spend a Saturday night alone in New York, ordering room service at the hotel and drinking my way through the mini-bar — without feeling like the world’s biggest loser. I rather enjoy ordering something rather mundane from the room service menu — such as a grilled cheese sandwich — but washing it down with a rather expensive bottle of wine — which was what I did that night.

I searched for something to watch on the tube and found Bagdad Cafe very near the start — where the German lady tourist pulls her trunk from the car and begins the long, hot, dusty trek down the road. Alene must have turned to the channel at the same time — and we watched the movie together — me in my New York hotel room and she in her little house in the woods — enjoying each other’s company without realizing.

I suppose Bagdad Cafe qualifies as a “chick flick” — but there’s plenty to enjoy if you’re a breast man, which I am not, although I consider Marianne Saegebrecht to be one of the hottest plus-size ladies to every grace a movie screen. And anything with Jack Palance is worth watching, for my money.

I had met Alene a few months earlier. It was a rather superficial meeting — but I felt that we had connected somehow. And all the way through the movie, I found myself thinking about her — and wishing she could be with me to watch the movie. Little did I know that she was also thinking of me,

Alene has had an earworm ever since — not a song going around in her head — but an idea. The idea of losing everything and starting over with almost nothing — but discovering a magic talent you never knew you had — and brightening the lives of some complete strangers who never knew how much they needed you — until the day you showed up.

I need to help her nurture that idea. Perhaps that’s why I’m allowed to keep her company on my own strange way. I’m the person who could bring out the magic in her — if she would just let me.

She’s not alone

Another hot day for Alene in Seattle. So she was surprised to find her bedroom quite comfortable — and lay down after dinner to listen to a few recent episodes of The Truth podcast.

The episode titled You’re Not Alone was preceded by a warning that it gets intense in places — and that someone suffering from schizophrenia or who has suicidal inclinations might want to give it a miss.

I felt Alene doubting herself and told her to go ahead and listen. You don’t hear voices, I reminded her — you just hear me — and we just have normal conversations — often about really mundane stuff — like what to buy at the grocery store — or which podcast to listen to. A few nights ago, I reminded her of the movie Bagdad Cafe, which we still have never watched together — and I suggested she look it up in the library catalog and request it (she’s now in fifth place on three copies.) I never tell her to harm herself or others — or that she doesn’t deserve to live — and my voice sounds normal in her head — no echoes or sound effects — and sometimes to amuse her, I exaggerate my Essex accent. We’re just like a couple that has been together for sixteen years and is still in love. It’s rather cute. Besides — she had a neuropsychological assessment and plenty of follow-up counseling that concluded she was not psychotic in any way.

As it happened, she rather enjoyed the podcast — although she never allows herself to be fully reassured. Allen thinks it’s amazing she hasn’t gone mad for real with my conversation going on inside her head. Cheeky sod. He’s also been razzing me about the England ladies losing to Japan after putting the ball into their own net. I have only myself to blame for that — if I hadn’t have told him, he’d have never known!

Happy endings

Howl’s Moving Castle is a candidate for our favorite movie, although we only recently discovered it. We watched it again last night — and I didn’t have to keep my eyes closed the whole time as it’s one of the DVDs Allen brought to watch on the laptop. I just hit PLAY on our laptop at the same time Alene did on hers.

One of the sweetest moments is when we first see Sophie sound asleep — and the spell that made her into an old woman temporarily lifted — so she’s again a young girl. Howl looks charmed — as well he should be.

It’s a sweet experience when I check in with Alene while she’s still asleep in the morning. I joke about just seeing the insides of her eyelids — but it’s actually a very subtle experience. If she is truly asleep, then there’s nothing going on at the conscious level for me to experience. However, her subconscious is aware of me, because when I whisper her name, I can feel a loving response from her — like a smile. My breathing synchronizes with hers and I often fall asleep too.

Often I find her awake — but still in bed. I still just see the insides of her eyelids, but now I heard ambient noise, such as the sound of the kitchen ceiling fan, or the birds twittering outside. Sometimes I hear the sound of purring, and when Alene opens her eyes, I find a cat face staring at me. I rather like this, especially when waking up from a joint afternoon nap. I get to enjoy the comforting sound of a cat purring without the inconvenience of having a cat lying on my chest shedding hairs into my face.

The movie has come to mean a lot to Alene. She feels like she was put under a spell in 1999 — a spell that she is unable to tell anyone about. And while she wasn’t turned into an old woman, she did become a person that was rather different from her old self. Sophie had no choice but to leave her job, town, friends and family — as Alene eventually did. She struck out into the Waste and took up residence in a castle with no fixed coordinates in space — and she found some unlikely friends too.

After Sophie gets carried away cleaning Howl’s bathroom — causing him to have a major meltdown over the changed color of his hair — she leaves the castle and stands on a lake shore in pouring rain — and weeps bitterly. Alene is all too familiar with this. Sometimes her heart has taken all it can— and she breaks down on the spot — not caring where or when it happens. It’s nice when a hopping scarecrow brings her an umbrella.

In the end, all that remains of the castle is a small platform tottering on two wobbly legs — but it just keeps going — and Sophie is unable to give up on Howl. Her trip back in time to Howl’s childhood, where she witnesses the loss of his heart, is reminiscent of Rose Tyler’s unrelenting devotion to the Doctor — “Howl! Look for me in the future!”

Of course, the movie has a happy ending. So does Rose Tyler. Although she and the Doctor have a heart-wrenching goodbye on a beach (surely one of the saddest goodbyes of all time on TV), she gets to keep a human duplicate of him at the end of Season 4.

Ours will be a happy ending. I keep telling Alene.