Goodbye Chet - T.M. Camp

Offices

This past week I conducted two sacred offices, both equally difficult in their own right.

On Thursday, I was the foreman in a jury and delivered our verdict to the court.

After nine days of witnesses, evidence, argument, and deliberations, we found the defendant guilty on all five counts. It was a criminal case and the charges carried serious penalties.

It was not an easy role to fill, but it was necessary.

And then on Friday, I dug a grave.

It was hard work, harder than I expected.

A few weeks back, it became clear that age had finally caught up with our cat Chet. He was losing weight fast and there were plenty of signs that he was shutting down. Apart from a couple of days where he rallied briefly, Chet just sat and waited. There was a new tension in him that we hadn’t seen before.

We knew what was coming. I suspect he might have as well.

We had hushed conversations in the kitchen, my wife and I. We started to prepare our seven year old for what was coming. I called the older kids to let them know.

And I called the vet, made the appointment.

As the trial dragged on, I had to reschedule twice. At night, I’d sit on the couch and run my fingers gently over Cher’s bony frame and hope that he’d find a was to slip out in his sleep.

But, in the end, it was up to me.

On Friday afternoon, I took Chet to the vet.

It was quick. He went easy. I knelt down next to him and stroked his cheek. I looked into his eyes until it was over.

I was the last thing he saw, the last voice he heard.

Two exceptionally kind ladies wrapped him up for me in his favorite blanket, his little face sticking out... gently cradling him like a baby as they passed him to me.

All of that thin tension, that waiting in his face... it was gone.

Inexplicably, he looked young again... happy. I was very grateful for that.

I drove him out to Aurohn Lake where a little patch was set aside for all of the family pets forty plus years ago.

It was early evening when I got there, the sun just starting to set. Golden light and very warm. Chet’s favorite time of day.

When the grave was dug I made sure he was wrapped up tight in his blanket with the other things I’d brought for him: the little brush my wife used to brush him, the catnip mouse my daughter would toss for him to chase...

I also folded bay leaves into the blanket, along with the pomegranate and the wine I’d bought on the drive out. Gifts he could take with him when he crossed over.

I laid him to rest with his face turned to the setting sun. I made sure he was deep and safe, placing a little wedge of limestone on top to mark the grave.

I said my prayers, asked my gods to take care of him.

And then I went home.

Miraculously, I was no longer sad. All of the effort to dig that grave had, somehow, flushed it all out of me.

None of this week was easy. It has left me exhausted, with a heavy heart.

I have two weeks worth of work to catch up on, a long overdue episode to finish, an even longer overdue book to write... and all I want to do is sleep.

The sun is setting as I write this, golden light coming in over the empty window sill where Chet used to sit in the evening.

And I find that I am sad again.


Life During Wartime

[Blogging pro-tip: If you wait long enough, your last post becomes relevant again. But regardless, I deserve a good scolding for sure.]

 

It’s been nearly a year since last I posted, and it hasn’t been particularly good one.

In that time I’ve laid off staff, been laid off myself, applied for hundreds of jobs, and managed to luckily land somewhat on my feet after a limited unemployment. But it was (and continues to be) tough going sometimes.

Over these past months, I found myself living under a shadow most days — one that it’s still difficult sometimes to get out from under, even now.

One of the perks of my new job means I get to walk to work, which is good for me as I’m not typically the type that seeks out exercise on a regular basis. This commute takes me through the “Hearthside” district of downtown. So on a daily basis I get to see people living right on the margins, as well as those who are well past them.

It can be a distressing commute some days. But it serves a reminder of how difficult things are for a lot of people in the country, as well as a good reminder of how fortunate I am to have the job, home, and family that I’ve been given.

 

Meanwhile...

Find Your GodsOn a brighter side… During these intervening months, two projects that were gestating for a long, long time finally got off the ground.

The first of these is the Find Your Gods podcast in which I explore the resonance and relevance of ancient myths in modern times. It’s deeply personal and mildly informative. And most people seem to like it, so that’s okay.

And I should mention that my novel The Red Boy was finally released in both print and audio formats. I’m very pleased with both and deeply grateful to the kind support of designer Kyle Harris and award-winning narrators Tanya Eby and Neil Hellegers for helping to bring it to life.

It’s a good book, I think. A little sad, but it’s well suited for this time of year, when October brings cooler weather, changing leaves, and darker days.

 

October.

Ziegfeld girl by Alfred Cheney JohnstonIt’s been odd weather here in Michigan. Temperatures in the 90s a few weeks back brought out a literal plague of flies in my neighborhood. Fortunately it looks like cooler weather is here and the pests are on the wane.

Now that I’m (hopefully) edging out from under the shadow cast by the previous months… In the evenings, I’ve been equally dividing my time between work (there’s always something to do in the evenings before the next day), researching and writing the next episode of Find Your Gods, or my latest book The Chameleon’s Dish — which is turning out to be a bit of connective tissue between the The Red Boy and The Cradle.

I’m tentatively, cautiously hopeful that it might see publication before the end of 2018.

So there’s that to look forward to.

—

(And yes, I'm aware that some of this — most of this — post is a rehash of an even earlier post from last year. I'm sorry for that. If you want to see what's currently percolating, follow me on Facebook or Twitter.)


Summer Salt - T.M. Camp

Halloween

Just a little something in the spirit of the season...

 

"Summer Salt"

by T.M. Camp

The aged oak trees line each side of the narrow dirt lane. The twisted boughs above me clutch at the flat, pale sky beyond.

I walk beneath them without knowing where I came from nor where I am going.

All I know is the heat and the slow, dark stain spreading across the right side of my uniform. Flies crawl across the rough wool tacky with blood.

Soon the trees clear. I walk on through the dry fields buzzing faintly in the heat towards distant low hills, brown as bread.

I do not remember how long I walked.

I remember stumbling, clutching at the dull ache between my ribs blooming bright. My cracked boots season the afternoon light with dust, the spice of summer.

I did not recognize the faded name stenciled on the battered knapsack I carried, so I left it behind when I rose up from the ground.

I did not know my name. I do not remember thinking that this was strange.

 

___

Later, the slanting light of the setting sun, the rough wood of the gate under my hand.

Beyond the gate, a barren yard strewn with rusted farm equipment flaking away, scoured by time and misuse.

I remember the house, the woman standing on the sagging porch, shading her eyes.

Her voice, from very far away.

I remember the sudden shock of fresh blood soaking through my fingers, a taste of iron and dust.

A shout, the bang of a door. A man running towards me, his overalls stained with sweat wrung from him by summer and honest labor.

I do not remember if he reached me before I fell.

 

___

I wake in near darkness. A lantern flickers beside me, throwing shadows across the broad beamed roof over my head.

A man kneels at my side, older than me and dead of expression. He does not look at my face.

Three others stand behind him, watchful — a woman, two men.

They all have the same flat eyes, the same bony chin.

The kneeling man draws his hand up into the air and then down again. As it dips and rises, there’s a flare of agony at my side. The dull gleam of metal between his fingertips, a thin shadow trailing from his hand.

I shift away from the brittle pain. The mattress rustles beneath me.

The woman and her brothers move forward.

On my brow she lays her hand, very dry and cool.

The brothers hold me down, hands heavier than stones. I feel the press of corncobs in my back, the blaze of agony in my side.

The kneeling man raises his hand and lets it fall, again and again.

Someone groans. Someone screams.

 

___

Dust motes drifting in the light streaming through an open window. Morning or afternoon, I cannot tell.

The older man is there, sucking his teeth over the wound in my side. He helps me rise. The movement is stiff, painful.

I run my fingertips lightly over the wound, tracing the thick dark yarn he used for sutures.

He hands me a threadbare shirt to cover myself and leads me out of the room.

The walls of the house are unadorned, save for a few faded photographs pinned haphazardly down a long length of hallway.

In the kitchen, he leads me to sit at the head of a long wooden table.

The woman rattles pots and plates behind me.

The man, the eldest of the family, takes a seat to my right.

Three brothers and their sister, he tells me. Their shared birthright amounts to no more than the drab clothing on their backs, their dust colored hair, and this farm. Like their parents, they scrape what they can from the dead earth and hope that the world and our wars pass them by.

The other brothers file in from outside and take their seats.

The sister sets a steaming plate before me, then for her brothers.

I cannot remember the last time I have eaten.

Ravenous, I take up my knife and fork.

The elder brother politely clears his throat. We bow our heads.

I do not remember his prayer, only the food in front of me. A simple meal of meat and boiled vegetables. My mouth is watering and, when the amens are said, I spare no time in digging in.

The first bite is oddly tasteless, bland. I ask my host to pass the salt.

No one speaks.

The air in the room goes dead.

I realize that there is no salt here. It is too precious, too rare, like life during wartime.

To barter with, perhaps, to preserve the dead. But not to season food at this meager table.

The family sits with their eyes down, staring at their empty plates.

I see for the first time that only I have been served.

Shame fills my mouth, thick as dust.

I do not remember what I said, but I did try to apologize.

The elder brother raises his head to look at me.

His face, expressionless.

The others sit stiffly in their chairs, still as the dead.

One by one they look at me, their eyes dull and flat as coins.

I shout. I leap to my feet. My hands pressing flat on the edge of the table, sending it flipping up and over through the air.

Empty plates scatter. Of course they are empty, even mine is empty. There is no food in this house, there is nothing wholesome in this dead place.

The table tumbles end over end in a somersault to land flat on the dusty floor with a hollow slap, like the lid of a coffin falling into place.

I stand, staring at the empty room: The stone cold stove, the rusting pots, the warped shelves — all covered with a thick layer of dust.

I am alone.

A single pair of footprints lead across the grimy floorboards. I follow them back down the hallway to the room. Next to the rotting corncob mattress, there is a dark sock, partially unraveled, matted with dust.

I stagger from the room, from the house.

The yard is choked with tall weeds. The rotting gate falls apart under my hand.

I walk up the dirt lane into the heat, towards the gathering darkness.

 

___

I awake in a military hospital.

They’d found me wandering the countryside, delirious with fever and weak from the loss of blood. They cared for me awhile until the wound in my side was clean and free of infection.

Even now, writing this with the war and that dead house many years behind me, I trace my fingers along the jagged scar that runs up my side from my hipbone, along my ribs, to end in a puckered depression to the left of my nipple. I rest my finger there. My heart beats beneath its tip.

I told them that I did not remember who had sewn it closed. I lied.

My time at the hospital was uneventful. The days a blur of clean starched sheets, bitter medicines, and bland food. The nights were mercifully quiet, broken only by the whimpers of the sleeping soldiers around me and the soft sounds the nurses made as they moved from bed to bed like pale, comforting ghosts.

— for Ambrose Bierce


T.M. Camp - photo by Tracy Thomas

The Long Year

The Red Boy by T.M. CampAs I write this, the second wave of copies of The Red Boy are shipping out to people who have placed orders. After so long, it is be a relief to see this book going out into the world. For a project that was relatively easy to write and has some of my best writing in it (if I do say so myself), it certainly has been a challenge to get it finished.

My friend and designer extraordinaire Kyle Harris deserve a lot of credit for getting it there. It was his outstanding job on the design that finally got it over the finish line.

You can order it now, if you like. Otherwise, watch for more announcements in various corners of the web and social media spheres.

(Yes, I’m aware that spheres don’t have corners.)

Somewhere in the midst of all of this, I sneakily started a new podcast called Find Your Gods. I’d been thinking for a while now about a way to re-invent my old Gospel of Thomas show . . . maybe something to do with my writing and this ongoing near-obsession with mythology that I’ve had since childhood?

Nope. Try as I might, I just couldn’t find a way into it.

Find Your Gods podcastThat is, not until a number of new podcasts hit my radar screen all at the same time earlier this year. My subconscious coughed politely, tapped on the inside of my skull, and whispered “You know, you could always try something like this…”

And so, with the wax still a little wet on my wings, I took a running start and jumped.

It’s been more than a little therapeutic, with all the doom and gloom of the year. 2016 has been a long, hard year for everyone I know. Including me.

So this new show is giving me the opportunity to dive deep into something I love: Mythology. And I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that almost everything I thought I knew was, in fact, quite wrong.

We’re about seven episodes in now, with new ones coming every other week. The response has been slow, steady, and strong (insert joke about Your Mom here) and I’m very interested to see how it grows and evolves over time. Head on over to findyourgods.com or subscribe on iTunes, let me know what you think.

A few months back I took a break from writing The Chameleon’s Dish (the next big book, one that crosses paths with characters from Assam & Darjeeling and The Cradle). It wasn’t so much a creative issue, but rather the ongoing stress of 2016 creating a lot of noise in my head...

But the cloud has cleared and now that Find Your Gods has gained some traction, the challenge now is to balance the time between these two projects — and, of course, balancing that against the normal day to day demands of my real life.

Fortunately, I still don’t sleep very much. And I kinda like sitting alone in the dark, talking to myself.

Watch this space, more to come...


#fyg

Well… things have a way of getting away from you, if you’re not careful.

Meaning me, meaning this here website.

I know it’s pretty common for people to post apologies for not posting very often. Lord knows I’ve done it once or twice in the past as well.

Sorry about that. The signal-to-noise ratio has been way out of whack these past few months. Just when you think things are calming down… well, I expect you know how it is.

But I’m back and here are a few things that are in the works, a few things to look forward to…

 

The Red Boy coverThe Red Boy
At long last, this one is on track to publish in May (yes, this year). We’re taking preorders now, if you’re interested.

 

The Chameleon’s Dish
This project has been coming together slowly but surely. I haven’t spoken about it much here (or anywhere, really) but it is set in the Underworld and fans of Assam & Darjeeling will be happy to know that some familiar faces put in an appearance.

The bad news is, I’m maybe a quarter of the way through the first draft. So it’ll be a while before this one sees the light of day.

But you can get little glimpses behind the scenes over at Pinterest. I’ve been posting theme and character inspirations there for a while now.

 

New Editions
Once The Red Boy is released, I’ll be turning some attention back to Assam & Darjeeling, Matters of Mortology, and The Cradle. Each book will be re-released in a new, vastly improved edition. Apart from some long overdue cleanup and corrections to the texts, each title will also sport a spiffy new cover design and typesetting.

I’m thinking we'll have some of these ready for sale later this year, just in time for Christmas.

 

#fyg
For a while now I’ve been tinkering with an idea for a new non-fiction project. Over the past few weeks, things have started to come together and it looks like I should be ready to go live with a new podcast a few weeks from now.

It'll be interesting to see how it comes together.

A big open question is whether it will be weekly or biweekly but I think it'll be the latter. Time is the main problem there.

Until then, secret project is still secret. Watch this space and stay tuned for details…

 

But, of course, it’s not all about me...

A few months back a friend suggested I check out the Cartoon Network miniseries Over the Garden Wall.

So I did.

Two little kids, lost in a dark wood... Encountering all sorts of odd characters, being pursued by a menacing figure as they try to find their way back home.

Over the Garden Wall

It’s outstanding and utterly charming. It’s now on my Top Ten list of all-time favorite things ever.

If you like the sort of things I like, you will love it.

 

Michael Pollan's Cooked
I wasn’t familiar with Michael Pollan’s work before stumbling across Cooked on Netflix. It’s not a cooking show or a travel show or a foodie show. But if you like those sorts of things, then you should check it out.

I’d call it culinary anthropology.

It’ll change the way you think about the things you eat, in a good way — and no, it’s not one of those guilt documentaries. It’s a celebration.

Lore Podast

Oh my god. You’re not listening to the Lore podcast yet?

Stop everything, drop everything, go subscribe right now.

The Witch

My wife and I tend to be homebodies (and we hate everyone) so it takes a lot to get us out of the house for the evening.

Early reviews and the trailer for The Witch had us both saying "Yeah, that one looks like it's worth setting aside our misanthropy for a few hours."

We were right. The Witch is easily one of the best films I've seen in a long time. It's perfectly acted, and the writing and direction show a masterful amount of craft.

It's not for everyone, though. It's a period piece and shows a remarkable restraint in not letting modern horror sensibilities take the reins of what is a genuinely disturbing little folktale.

So it was surprising to hear how much other people hated it. As near as I can tell, they went into it expecting something a more conventional scary popcorn movie and the slow growth of the suspense in this quiet little story left them bored.

We loved it.

 

Crimson Peak

 

In some ways the negative response to The Witch reminded me of the response people had to Crimson Peak. Based on the reviews I read, most people seemed to go into Guillermo Del Toro's latest movie expecting something entirely different.

Which surprised me, because I knew exactly what I was getting into and I thought it was a terrific gothic story in the Hammer tradition. Apart from a minor quibble over casting Charlie Hunam in an admittedly already two-dimensional role, I really loved it. I think Del Toro perfectly accomplished what he set out to do, and he did it exceptionally well.

So there.


Summer's End

Summer's End

October.

As long back as I can remember, I’ve always been a fan.

There are lots of reasons why but, if I’m being honest, the biggest one is probably that October is when it’s fairly safe to assume that we’re done with all the hot weather and summer nonsense. October is when you’re safe to mentally switch over to wearing long sleeves, sweaters, jackets and coats. All of which, thanks to decades of insecurities and body issues, I prefer.

October is when the wind blows cold.

October is brisk evening walks and cold cheeks.

October is when the moon shines brighter and hangs longer in the sky.

October is the hinge of the seasons, when the darkness slowly folds over on top of the day.

October is when the leaves start to turn, start to fall. Each one looking like they were dipped in fire or in wine.

October is apple cider. October is hot soup and fresh baked biscuits.

October is a warm house.

October is Halloween.

October is Ray Bradbury.

Rename October for Ray Bradbury

Make this happen, Internet.


Grandpa was...

My wife wrote this eulogy for her grandfather, Kensinger Jones. She read it at his memorial service last month.

Since the service, people who knew and loved Ken have been asking for a copy (including me).

I think it's lovely.

(I don't have a photo of Keeley and Ken together, but above you can see her in all her glory at Aurohn Lake — one of the many gifts he gave to us all.)


Grandpa was a lot of things.

He was Grandpa, he was a conservationist, a farmer, a boy scout, an ad-man, a teacher, a father, a husband, a faithful friend to so many, and of course, a writer.

He liked writing poems. He liked poems that rhymed. He would write an original poem every year for my birthday card and every year for Christmas cards (and Grandma helped too, I know).

He wrote much more, of course. Books and radio plays and essays and articles...

Writing has life. Everything written is a creation. Every letter is a seed that has been planted in a row.

Everything about Grandpa was full of life. His personality, his writing, and his land. He planted trees, he planted flowers, he planted memories in that land. He wrote some of the best chapters of my childhood.

Knowing that the place where he walked, where he worked, where he wrote... The place that he looked out across every day and said the blessing "Lord we thank you for this day, we thank you for the beauty that surround us..."

Knowing that that place will be preserved and protected... It's as if we know our childhood will be protected, too. And what kinder gift, what better story, could ever possibly be written?

Every blade of grass is a noun
every flower is an adjective
every field is a paragraph
every tree is a line of poetry

And people will be reading the story of the land, as Grandpa and Grandma wrote it together, for generations to come.

Keeley Geary
March 10, 2015


Periscope

I’ve talked about this before, but the latest surge in popularity for live video streaming apps like Periscope has reminded me of the digital clock I used to watch from my bedroom window late at night:

…and when I was young, I’d look out my window at night. There was this flashing clock on top of a building that I could see from my window. It flashed all night long. I used to watch it, counting. Seeing how long it would go on . . . just flashing the time away. I’d watch this from my window, when I was young. And sometimes I’d wonder, how long it had been going? How many years had it been there? How long would it keep going? And, maybe, thousands of years from now will it still be going? When everything else is cold and still, and the only sound is the wind blowing through an empty world. Will it stil be there? Flashing? And will it still have the exact time? And when it stops, finally, when it’s done, what time will it be?
— from Drawing Away

Apparently we never entirely shake off some of those little high school quirks — at least, maybe I didn’t.

Years ago, when I clumsily fired up the first version of this site, I had a little webcam that would deliver a static live snapshot every 30 seconds of whatever I was doing at the time. I usually left it on late at night when I was in my office writing — an odd blend of narcissism, introversion, and loneliness.

Over the years, the webcam captured a lot of unintended moments, like me obliviously singing my heart out...

Probably Not in Tune…arguing with [redacted]...

Arguing…and obsessively checking to see if I looked cool in the latest snapshot...

Cool?It was a little one sided, but somehow it touched that same little nerve that watching that clock used to do for me, all those years ago.

"...the single assumption which makes our existence viable - that someone is watching..."
— from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard

Staying up late when the rest of the house is quiet is something that I’ve been compelled to do since I was very young. I can remember being four or five years old and sitting up in bed, reading long into the night.

I’ve never really stopped.

I have always loved being awake in a sleeping house. The secrecy of it. That stillness, the privacy. The selfish solitude of bare feet and cold floors.
— from The Whispering Boy

At a certain point, the night takes on a surreal quality and it’s difficult to shake the feeling that you are, in fact, utterly alone in the world.

That isn’t always a bad feeling. In fact, it almost never is.

But the clock reminded me that I wasn’t alone. Sometimes I would sit and fantasize about who else might be out there, awake in the night, watching it from their window.

When I joined Twitter, I immediately recognized that old familiar cocktail of narcissism, introversion, and late-night loneliness. It was like coming home.

PeriscopeA few weeks back I got wind of Periscope and, once again, I was instantly mesmerized.

Quickly, here’s Periscope in a nutshell: It’s a mobile app that allows you to share live streaming video straight from your phone. People can watch your feed, post comments in real time, and tap their finger to give you “hearts” (imagine if you could click the Facebook “like” button over and over again).

The potential impact of Periscope on every aspect of our culture was immediately obvious to me and I could not stop talking about it to everyone.

PracticingIt’s fun and frightening and downright amazing.

The people streaming live video of their cats purring one Saturday morning — delightful.

The countless pre-teen girls crowded around their phones on a Friday night saying “Ask us anything” — horrifying.

The bands, practicing set lists in their basements and living rooms — awesome.

And on and on and on it goes...

The writer side of my mind was working overtime: Broadcasting live readings, holding Q&A sessions with my fans… Forging immediate connections with new readers… Setting up a floating “salon" of like-minded writers…

So many great ideas to explore. At the very least, it gave me a new way to mix up my cocktail — but, better than the old webcam, now we can interact with each other.

Mostly, I’ve just been telling ghost stories (true ones) or I only sit there and write while people watch and, in time, lose interest and leave.

So many ideas...

I work in Advertising, so Periscope represents a whole other world of opportunities and issues to explore for my clients — but that’s a different blog post for a different website.

More importantly, I have become obsessed with the immediate and profound sense of connection that Periscope provides.

Another writer called it “teleportation” — the ability to be anywhere in the world. Someone in the UAE can walk down the street and give me (and everyone else) a real time look at life on the other side of the world. A side of the world that, admittedly, people in my country sometimes tend to demonize or disassociate from. But Periscope broke down those boundaries.

IMG_3105New York, Dubai, South America, the UK, Nepal… I started looking for as broad a range of people and places that I could find.

One of my favorites is @neilpande. His broadcasts of the sunrise and sunset in Kathmandu are stunning. As is his own enthusiasm for the world he lives in. I can't help but be swept up by it all. The connection is so strong that, when I woke up to the news of the earthquake this past weekend, I immediately thought of my “friend” there and checked to see if he was okay (he is, but the devastation and tragedy there is staggering… please help if you are able.)

That point of connection, the awareness of a single world and the ability to see it all . . . amazing.

One feed I ran across was titled “Awake, Cancer” — just a darkened room, a digital alarm clock on a nightstand. And a flood of comments with love and support from strangers all over the world.

I watched a snail in France crawl across a leaf.

Toby and familyAnother time I had the good fortune to see “Mama cat having kittens” and watch as, halfway around the world, a litter was born in the UK. The mama cat was named Snickers so everyone suggested candy bar names for the kittens. I’m proud to say that somewhere in England there is a kitten named “Toby” because of me (short for Toblerone).

There’s a flip side to all of this as well, of course. And it can get a little ugly.

Politics, journalism, law enforcement, celebrity, sexuality… all aspects of our culture are bound to mutate under the gamma radiation of a live worldwide video feed.

As I started getting more and more obsessed, I made all kinds of predictions. “It’s only a matter of time,” I told my remarkably patient family and colleagues. “Someone will broadcast a terrorist attack. Someone will commit suicide. Or a drive by shooting. Or a sexual assault."

These things are bound to happen. Because the potential is there, for good or ill.

A few days ago, I found myself watching with equal parts admiration and dread as @paullewis of The Guardian UK ran a live feed from the midst of the protests in Baltimore following Freddie Gray’s death. I was watching, in real time and more or less unedited, an event that otherwise would be delivered to me in heavily produced and commented soundbites.

There was a freedom there but I was also well aware that I’d added a dash of voyeurism to the cocktail.

the snailI don’t know where Periscope goes from here. I think it has staying power and relevance. It’s strong enough that I’ve had to curtail my own use, because it was distracting me from my work.

As excited as I am to explore the possibilities, I’m equally enthusiastic to see how other people put it to use as well.

But mostly I’m just glad to have something that can remind me, when I'm wandering around the house in the dark hours of the night, that I’m not the only one.

 


Kensinger Jones

T.M. Camp with Ken Jones
I first met Ken Jones on Thanksgiving Day in 2004.

We hit it off. Not surprising, as we had a lot of things in common. Each of us had been lucky enough to fall into careers in Advertising. We both discovered a love of books and writing at an early age. And we shared a delight in the spoken word, particularly in the form of long, rambling conversations punctuated by bad puns and jokes. The badder the better.

I loved talking with Ken. Every conversation with him was a delight.

In fact, part of my “What if I win the lottery?” daydream included stopping by to talk with Ken every day.

I looked forward to our visits and, when it was time to go, I was always so grateful when he said “Come back and see me again soon."

Early on, I recognized that the almost immediate rapport that developed between us was something rare and special.

Over the years, though, I realized that it wasn’t our bond that was rare and special… it was Ken.

He was rare and special.

His mind, his creativity . . . all of the things he achieved in his work.

His sense of adventure, his enthusiasm for the world. The places he’d been, the people he’d met.

The connections he made with friends, colleagues, and students — relationships that he valued and sustained for decades.

That lifelong devotion he shared with his wife. His commitment to his family.

His generosity.

The amazing provisions he made to take care of the people he loved, to support the causes that he believed in, and to cultivate and preserve the wonderful gifts that he’d been given.

Ken was rare and special.

He lived a rare and special life. And he knew it. He didn’t take any of it for granted.

And, because he was Ken, he made life rare and special for all of us.

He made it rare and special for me.

I feel so lucky, so grateful to be able to say that he was my friend.

Ken passed away last night.

It’s not a tragedy.

We should all be so lucky to live such a rare and special life, to take our leave gently in the night holding the hand of our oldest, dearest friend.

We should all be so lucky.

And we are, because we knew Ken.


"When there is trap set up for you..."

It's been a while since I posted some music — hell, it's been a while since I posted anything, I know.

This song has been with me for a few days now (my middle daughter is taking accordion lessons). I'd forgotten how much I like it.

And there's an Underworld connection too, if you're looking hard enough for it.