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September 20th, 2009

~Sunday~  I took advantage of the wonderful weather today and did the nice three-mile walk around Lake Johnson. While walking I listened to an episode of This American Life that is up there in the top three—and I've listened to a lot of them—of all-time compelling, compelling radio.

I don't even have kids, and it was absolutely riveting, so if you have them, I imagine it would be even more so, if that's possible. It's a 58-minute investment, with an exceptionally high ROI, in my humble opinion.

Episode 209: Didn't Ask to Be Born

Two stories that are worst case scenarios for any parent. In each story, when you take apart what happened and how it happened, it's hard to see how anyone could've prevented things from going bad.

Prologue.

Host Ira Glass plays tape from the documentary TV series American High of a teenager fighting with his parents about which car he can take out that night. Every family has its own way of fighting and its own particular family dynamic, and if things go terribly bad, it's often hard to figure how the bad things could've been prevented.

Act One.

The chronicle of a family that unraveled. Debra Gwartney loved her two oldest daughters like she loved herself. And they loved her in return. But Debra got a divorce, moved the family to Oregon, and relations with her daughters got worse and worse. Finally, at the ages of thirteen and fourteen, they ran away. In this story, Debra and her daughters try and retrace what exactly went wrong. The story was produced by Sandy Tolan of Homelands Productions, in collaboration with Debra Gwartney and her daughters. It's part of the World Views series of first person narratives, which gets funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Debra is writing a book about what happened in their family. (35 minutes)

Act Two.

Brent Runyon tells the story of the day in eighth grade that he set himself on fire ... and what led to that. He wasn't a loner, he had friends, his mother was a teacher, his parents took an interest in his life. This is an excerpt from his memoir, called The Burn Journals. (17 minutes)

Song: "Goodbye to Romance," Ozzy Osbourne


These stories are absolutely incredible. Listen now.



I met Suzanne and Sharon for Mostly Social Book Club at the Barnes & Noble in the Streets at Southpoint. Janet was out of town, on her African trip we think, and Mary had a cold. Sharon and Suzanne both shared "college stories" about their kids that were quite compelling.

We considered canceling book club, since Janet and Mary couldn't make it, but Sharon said, "I could really use a get-together. I always get so much out of our meetings." I'm glad we ended up meeting.



I was thinking today about long-term commitments, and my personal history of them. These came to mind:

  • Being married for 16 years.

  • Being in my first male-male relationship for 6.5 years.

  • Being in my current relationship for over 7 years.

  • Being a member of the Nematomes Book Club for 11 years.

  • Being a member of the Mostly Social Book Club for over 15 years.

  • Being on the board of directors of Triangle Community Works for 5 years.

  • Reading to my blind friends, Jeanie-baby and Milton, for around 10 years.

  • Being without a television for over 7 years.

  • Not missing a day of blogging in over 5 years.

  • Working for IBM for 28 years.

  • Working with my financial advisor for close to 10 years.

  • Line-dancing and two-stepping for over 7 years, virtually missing only when I'm out of town.



I dropped by Scareyokey tonight, arriving at Flex after book club at around 9:30. When I walked in I thought, "Oh my fucking god," as someone was absolutely screaming their lungs out singing.

Joe arrived shortly after that, and I didn't know it, but Alex and Bill were already there. I saw them when I saw Joe go over and say hello to them. Joe and I played a couple of games of pool. (It's free on Sundays.) Then, Joe and I played a couple of games against Alex and Bill.

In the category of You Might Be Gay If..., there was a guy there with a football jersey on with a huge number "0" on this back, and just above it it said, "See Coach in the Locker Room."

The place was totally getting on my nerves tonight, as there were very few singers, and the ones that were singing for some reason felt like they had to sing a gazillion decibels above safe hearing levels, like they were live on some stage in L.A. or something. People. It's karaoke. In Raleigh, NC. At Flex.

I left at 10:30, glad to be away from there and home at a decent hour on a "school night."

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