I, have become, Suddenly Glum.

Mood swing

Except now she’s 14.

 

I feel as though I had been there, on scene of the burnt shell of the Colossus roller coaster at Six Flags, recently. Seeing something so classic, loved, with brilliant memories held by many of earlier days, come to a sudden end is eerily similar to the days I remember of my daughter before her emotions toyed with the peace of our household.

Now, I have to tread carefully here because she will read this and if I’m not deft in my handling of this delicate issue, well, let’s just say that burned roller coasters will be the least of my concerns. (I love you, sweetheart!)

Before I get going too far, let’s have some back story. 1) Our daughter is incredible, honorable, respectful, chaste, law-abiding, modest, bold, tough, sweet, tender, has a crushing handshake and tickets to her own gun show. Genius, did I mention genius? She’s probably one of those, too. Also 2) my wife and I were her age once, with emotions bleeding out of our skin from psychotic levels of hormone free play and we were much, MUCH less judicious in the outward expression of their administration.

Now that we understand where we’re coming from, let’s proceed. The roller coaster analogy is apt in this area so let’s continue with it. Each day, there are highs and lows in her facial expressions, word choices and tone, posture, effort output and emotional status . . . let’s call them Focal Representations Using Internal Thought Yearnings (FRUITY). Like the roller coast in motion, her, dare we say, FRUITY-ness has a measurable impact depending on the velocity with which it might change direction, altitude or suddenly stop. Indeed, as with your favorite park ride, you may hear screams, shrieks, crying, laughing, possibly vomiting all within the space of a few minutes when the FRUITY is powered up. For others acquainted with this tumultuous ride, it’s not so much about getting on or off, trying to start or stop it but more to the point of giving it respect.

One of my favorite sayings in the bible is, “And it came to pass . . . ” A comedian once noted that it never says, “And it came to STAY.” These things move on, they go, eventually. Getting through it all intact, as a family, in love and with honor toward each other is the real challenge.

The rest is simply wiping some tears and cleaning up a little puke, now and then.

I love you, kiddo.

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What’s in a name? Quite a bit, actually.

There are several benefits to having a highly common name. Many ways that fate screams by you and with just a tiny dodge – unscathed. I am not the Matthew Miller you are looking for (waves hand at guard checkpoint).

The phone calls threatening to bury my credit under a mountain of pain and anguish are never for me. What’s my middle initial and my address – yep, wrong number, no problem – have a good day. The vitriol on the other end rapidly drains away with a now rational-sounding person on the line. I can’t imagine what it must be like to drum up a Samuel Jackson-esque interrogation with every call connection.

Similarly, ordering pizza is a breeze. Here’s my phone and name – a two second pause without asking how to spell either first or last and it’s on the way! They don’t mix up my name at the coffee counter either, because I don’t have a name generated by Googling something loved and portmanteau-ing it. My brother did this – he took two beloved family names and named his first child with a mashup of them, creating (in the early days of her birth, at least) an awkward arrangement of syllables with repeating stress accent.

Consider my poor wife who, with her maiden name, had a terrible disadvantage in daily roll calls at school or in sports, confounding announcers at every turn. While there is now a famous athlete whose surname is nearly identical, back then, when he was not yet on the scene, people would spew something more akin to the volcano from Walter Mitty. When she changed her last name to mine, she not only shortened it by more than half the number of letters, she also made paying bills by check a breeze.

Not diminishing the heavy despair that must be oppressive in a North Korean prison, I find myself thankful for being free to do what I want today. To sit here and write, reaching out to others wherever they might be, in whatever work they find themselves is a massive blessing to be sure.

Yet, something I read in the account of the men incarcerated struck me. Two of the men are being held for preaching the gospel and distributing bibles in one of the darkest places, spiritually, on the planet. That is devotion, folks, pure and simple. You have to really get out of yourself to want to see people set free in a country that treats its own citizens no different than prisoners. The third man, the one who shares my first and last, however, he tore up his tourist visa at the airport and shouted for ‘asylum.’

Now, there are hard times in everyone’s life to varying degrees that make them do desperate things. But if you were able to go back in time to your earlier self somewhere and say, “You’re going to be seeking help and shelter from North Korea because of what you’ve done,” it might be a good time to re-evaluate your priorities and consider a new path in life.

itoldyounottodothat

I do hope for a swift return to the U.S. for the men being held. And I hope that whoever gets it done, whether it’s Bill Clinton or Dennis Rodman seducing Kim Jong-un over Eric Clapton ballads, gets a proper thank you. Whatever we may feel about why they’re there, what they are being held for, should they have done it or not and so on – if you were the one being held, you’d be praying to God above for mercy from your countrymen to get you out of there A.S.A.-freaking-P.

From a yet-to-be-announced tourism campaign for North Korea:

Walk into North Korea

Have a great day, everyone, and be thankful.

Who enter . . . all ye abandoned . . . have hope . . . welcome! We have come to share our banana guacamole and give you a new porpoise!

So, I’m pretty fuzzy on exactly what it’s supposed to say over Dante’s entrance to Hell – I don’t plan on ever going there myself, you see – but I wanted to let you know that here at My Marvelous Maelstrom of Moving Memes, Musings, Malformed Manuscript Machinations and Millieu, that there should be some measure of giggles, hopeful pondering  and thoughtful insights from squeezing into the spaces between all of us; feeling individually abandoned, collectively herded. But it might also resemble literary Hell. Just a heads up. Could go either way, really.

I have no right to write any more than the rest of you, right? I think that would be something – all of us writing a blog, scrambling for time to make sure everyone gets read. Gosh, there’d be no time for endless Survivor marathons or Happy Days reruns. Therefore, my ridiculous idea isn’t shot down so much as Dead On Arrival.

You really should consider writing something yourself, though. It feels good when the words are flowing and the key strikes keep coming and coming. There’s a purpose, a creativity vein is crumbled loose from the deep shaft of living and breathing that kept going further and further without really knowing where or perhaps why. All of a sudden, you find it. This rich, deeply ancient ore long forgotten that whole new industries and processes are developed in your life to find ways of leveraging this discovered material with so many uses.

Or, you could just keep coming to sites like mine, with zero visitors and followers, hoping to find some break in the monotony – a quantum of solace! (James Bond reference #1). Yes, it looks very bleak at the outset, of course, all journeys do – the more risky and unlikely, the worse it looks. But the better the payoff if they do! NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS! (Star Wars reference #1, gosh, I really thought SW was gonna get in first but James was a spy so I guess it makes sense he’d find a way around the rules).

Well, whatever you decide to do, write, don’t write, rerun, don’t rerun, find life-giving literary ore or just pretend Minecraft ore (virtual ore! how sad IS that? Yes, yes, Tommy is so creative and being productive with his fake creations, at least he’s not blowing up something – what’s that you say? oh, look he’s making bombs in the game . . .) it’s yours to do or do not. There really is no try. (Ha! #2, okay – I’ll stop) There are merely professionals or dilettantes en route to becoming professionals or becoming nothing. That’s just how it is. Sorry, but not everyone in real life gets an award AND A PRIZE! For showing up, for participating; for having a pulse. ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that’, someone once said. They’re too busy – not-reading all those blogs – hoping they’re life might become so wonderfully benign it becomes it’s own story worth telling in a sitcom, later rerunned, later blogged about.