The Other End of Sunset

Saturday, September 02, 2006

This is not a technology posting.

For those of you who found this blog through a particular technology magazine, I might suggest you stop reading now. You won’t find much here – there is no discussion of technology, no corporate thoughts, no insight for entrepreneurs. Really. All you shall find here is lyrics and love and loss and laughter. And a lot of alliteration, whenever I can make it work.

If you want something more useful, I recommend … well, just about anything else.

Otherwise, welcome to my brain. Hope you like the trip. Watch for low-hanging ceilings and the occasional crawling critter that might scuttle into the light on its way to some yummy meal of grub worms and night terrors.

And, oh, by the way, despite the assertion, I didn’t exactly whip off my shirt. Well, ok, maybe I did, but it wasn’t my fault. Anyway, back to our normal plotline.

It’s been just over a year since Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans is a national treasure. It’s a part of our terrible history and a part of that which makes us wonderful.

Is there anyone who has traveled through New Orleans, especially at Mardi Gras, and hasn’t left a piece of their heart in that city? The music, the laughter, the corruption, the crime. I really, really love that city. JR went to graduate school in Baton Rouge, and still has friends in the area. I remember talking to her during the crisis – she couldn’t believe what was happening to the city, to the people.

And none of us could figure out where the US government was. How did we let this happen?

Spike Lee made a documentary on HBO, it aired last week. I’m just getting around to watching it now. So far, I’m about halfway through. It’s been a set of video images from the ground during the event and aftermath, along with individual interviews, with government officials, local residents, miscellaneous stars, and others.

There have been some amazing things said so far.

A woman who rode out the storm, with her teenage daughter, was interviewed. Although both could apparently swim, the mother wasn’t as good a swimmer. And so, in the run-up to Katrina, mom pulled her daughter aside to talk about what they should do if the waters rose. What an awful thing to plan for – the mother told the daughter to go ahead and swim off, if they were to get separated; she wanted her daughter to “go and get help”. Mom was trying to convince daughter to leave her – presumably to drown – and spinning it as an opportunity to get help. Do you think that the daughter, had she chosen that option, would have felt less guilty because she was trying to help? I don’t think so.

And I am in awe of a love so deep that it would make me tell someone to leave me to die so as to protect them. What must such love feel like, to the one being loved, or the one giving it. Do you think you know you have such love when you are in it, or only discover it when you need it.

If you are lost you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall I will catch you – I’ll be waiting
Time after time
--Cyndi Lauper

People say that folks have love like that for their children. I hope that’s true. I haven’t always seen it to be true, but people always say that.

They say stuff like “I’d die for my kids”.

Hmm. Think they would?

When JR first got sick, we thought she could have a liver transplant to save her. I was going to give her part of mine. We are different blood types. That didn’t work. Oh, well, she couldn’t have had the transplant anyway. But if I could have, I would have, in a minute.

I went out for pizza tonight. JR and I used to go to a particular pizza place every Sunday. It was our regular “Sunday night date”. We’d pick some topic – often work related – but sometimes it was something random. And we’d talk about it for hours, at these little tables, that were shaped like guitars, on these really uncomfortable stools. Oftentimes, she’d take notes. But she’d never remember to bring paper, so the notes would end up getting written on a bunch of those cocktail square napkins. Those were some of our best times – focused, fun – and they produced some great work. We designed development programs there, and reorganized functions, and planned conferences, and loved each other.

But this is off track. I was talking about children. Let’s go back there.

Ok, I was at our pizza place tonight. And I noticed some kids. I have been paying more attention to children lately. A friend of mine has been trying to get me to recognize that those kids who make me crazy aren’t really at fault – their parents are. So I’ve been paying attention. My friend might be right – my understanding of children is somewhat less than my understanding of cryptosystem design, and somewhat more than my understanding of the last national elections. Which is to say, kids totally befuddle me.

Tonight, I noticed two kids. One kid was with his mother and her friend. Her friend was flirting with the boy, and he was loving it. That kid knew he was the center of those people’s lives. He was running around grabbing stuff for mom’s friend – napkins, or forks, or more ice. This kid was happy, and didn’t get everything he wanted, and he wasn’t always thrilled. But he was a good kid. I think I’d have liked him. I smiled at him.

There was another kid, at the next table. He was with his father. His father was barely talking to him – basically, dad was busy scoping out all the mothers in the room. Especially the half-dressed ones. And there were several of them there. The kid was not on his list. And the kid seemed somehow … well… desperate. The kid had interesting stuff to say – he made a joke about question marks that was pretty clever. But dad was totally disinterested. So the kid repeated it, louder. It wasn’t funny the second time – it was annoying.

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it. I don’t think that the kid was annoying because he is simply annoying. I think he was annoying because dad didn’t pay any attention to him. Would that second dad die for that kid? What if it helped him get some attention from one of the East Babes?

The kid with the two women was getting attention. He didn’t have all of their attention – they spent some on a pair of guys at the bar, and they were actively talking to each other. But the kid got some attention, and didn’t seem scared – I don’t think he felt like his mom (or even the friend) might leave him at a train station or wherever. Cool.

Strange line of thinking, this.

And for of you who know me, yes, I have Celiac’s. No, I’m not supposed to have pizza. That’s why JR and I stopped having our Sunday dates. But I miss her, and I am on my own this weekend, so I can be sick for a few days.

And it is good to remember JR, even if it’s a little painful.