Day 339: Everything Is Right

At some point, it became difficult for me to take standardized tests like the SAT or GRE. I read too much into the questions and note their ambiguities. This makes me unable to answer them quickly or correctly.

I was contemplating interview questions, as if I was being interviewed for a job. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I am not sure where I would start. How can anybody look that far into the future with any certainty? “What is your greatest success?” or “What is your greatest failure and how did you overcome it?”

Day 313: Spy

I have dreams. I dream of people who have died, like Miles and my grandma.  In my dreams, they do not speak.

I dreamed again of Miles. I was in a big house. My grandma was there and I sat with her quietly for a long time. I looked around in the house for my family because I knew they were around somewhere. I looked all over and found Miles sitting in a lounge area. I sat next to him. He smiled kindly and joyfully to me and we sat together. Like many of my dreams of Miles I felt that he did not really want me around. He wanted to be left alone. So I sat with him a minute and neither of us spoke. I got up and walked around the house and looked for friends until I found Owen and some of his friends outside. Owen and I talked. He was waiting in the car but my dad hadn’t come outside yet. He had been inside for a long time. I went inside to look for him and I wondered why he was driving Owen around.

Day 305: Gloria

At Shakemore, I gave a Miles Wild Thing sticker to a young man riding his skateboard outside. I started to talk to him about Miles and I told him what happened. It turns out he knows Miles. He and Miles worked at Woodard at the same time. When Miles was working in the cafe, Thomas was a counselor. He was very sad about Miles. He wants more stickers to give to skaters at Woodward. I met his mom too. They have been involved in Shakemore for a long time. I really liked them a lot and I am glad I got to know them a little bit. I hope to go back to Shakemore next year.

Thomas told me that he was going to be at Woodward in a few weeks. I drove up to visit him, and I gave him some posters and stickers and a set of zines. He had two posters framed. One is in the Woodward office and one is in the cafe where Miles worked. The one in the cafe looks nice. I visited just to see it.

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Day 304: Put Some Sugar On It

I drove down to Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, for a music festival I learned about just a few days ago. Shakemore is organized by David Fair, a founding member of Half Japanese and brother off Jad Fair. Half Japanese is one of my favorite bands ever. I was so excited to see them. Danielson was also playing, so it was exciting for me.

Shakemore is a big party. It is organized by a bunch of people in Maryland who are friends of David Fair. It is like a big family reunion with Half Japanese at the center.

When I was Miles’s age, I had a cassette with Charmed Life by Half Japanese on one side and an REM album on the other. I listened to Charmed Life over and over again. I loved it and Iove it still.

Throughout the day, I kept thinking that Miles would have loved it too. Miles loved Daniel Johnston. He also liked Jad Fair a lot. Fair and Johnston did an album together and Miles really enjoyed it. I like that Miles and I enjoyed the same music, and Jad Fair is a common touchpoint. I got to meet him and I told him how much his music means to me and that it is a good connection with my son. He thanked me.

The whole day, I was thinking that Miles and I could have had a great day there, enjoying the dozen and a half bands and getting into the Half Japanese set. It would have been the last thing Miles and I would do before he left for college. We could have had a fun time in the sun, listening to the music. He could have taken his skateboard with him and skated on the concrete surrounding the venue. We could have walked down the road with a new friend to get food at the little diner down the way. We could have laughed. To him it would have been a fun time, but he might have been looking ahead to more and bigger adventures just around the corner. For me, it would have been a last moment together as dad and son, enjoying the last few days before he left the house and moved out on his own to become more himself. I regret we could not go together.

Day 302: Firecracker

At 4:14 this morning, I was startled awake by a giant cap of thunder.

At first, I did not know what it was. My first thought was that it was a crash and Miles was hurt. I sat up in a panic and realized I must be wrong.

It must be an explosion, I thought. Someone blew something up out back. Then I heard the deluge of water come down on the roof. It was a giant storm with lots of water. We needed the rain and I was grateful for it. I lay in bed and thought about Miles. I thought about what I thought and wondered why my mind jumped so quickly to an impossibility.

Day 137: Miracles Happen Every Day

Jad Fair is an artist too

“Let’s kiss and talk about you. Let’s kiss and talk about me. Then we’ll kiss and kiss and talk about we. Suddenly, I’m completely changed.”

Spring is coming. The snow is almost all gone. I see little flowers popping up out of the ground all over the place. As the snow melts and as it gets warmer and as the sun shines more often in the day, I think about Miles getting his skateboard out and hitting the streets. I think about him spending hours at the skate park.  I think about him getting ready for graduation and the end of the school year, a final summer at home before college.

Day 134: Roman Candles

I wore out that cassette with Charmed Life by Half Japanese on it.

Half Japanese are amateurs who started writing songs. They couldn’t play their instruments, but they recorded anyway and it came out OK, well enough. They got better, but were very rough.

I was so glad to see that Miles really liked Jad Fair, one half of the Half Japanese duo. Fair collaborated with Daniel Johnston a lot. Miles loved their music they made together. I hope he found Half Japanese. We could have listened together.

This is one of my favorite songs. Not just favorite HJ songs, but favorites of all time. I do not pick many favorites, but I love it.

Day 133: Charmed Life

When I was a teenager, around Miles’s age in high school, I spent summers cutting grass. I cut the grass at my grandma’s house and a few neighbors. I did a good job. I enjoyed it because I liked taking something messy and cleaning it up. I still do. It is nice to fix things, make things better.

I liked cutting grass and I still like cutting grass because it has a beginning, middle, and end. The grass needs cut. You cut it. You clean up. It looks nice and you can look back on it and say, I cut the grass.

So few things in life are like that, and it is nice to look back on a time when tasks had definite time spans and results. Ten or fifteen bucks seemed like a lot back then. It could get you a few meals and a movie. You could share the gas money. You could get a new CD.

While cutting the grass I listened to a few albums all the time. I had a Walkman cassette player and there was one tape I listened to all the time. On one side, I had REM’s album Dead Letter Office. On the other side, I had Charmed Life by Half Japanese. I recorded them from the WVBC radio station when I worked there as a DJ in the summer one year. I was Miles’s age.