Friday, November 13, 2015

We Are A Mirror

I used to write an improv newsletter twice a month.

I used to improvise, on stage, a couple times a week!

I was in a group called Trail Mix that did 3-person monoscenes, a group called Book Club that did hour+ genre narratives, and a group called BLOODCUP that did ... god, I dunno. We wore black outfits and makeup and improvised based on existential dread and raw emotional truths.

I had a dream about improv the other night. I was onstage introducing an improv-in-the-dark set -- kind of like an improvised radio play, where the improvisors are onstage, the lights are off, and the audience can only listen and imagine -- and I kind of woke up in the middle. But in my eyes-still-closed, knowing-I'm-awake state, I kept silently introducing this set. Practicing what I would say and how, what inflections, when I would make eye contact with the audience. I used to do this with Trail Mix and BLOODCUP, starting off sets with a kind of tone and language that I hoped would carry us into our sets.

I haven't improvised on a stage since May 15th, the night before I left San Diego in a moving truck with my brother. That's six months ago now, almost to the day. I moved to Ohio to live and recover from a rather traumatic life change -- my wife broke up with me in January after 3+ years together, and less than a year as a wedded couple. I stayed at my brother's place for about 6 weeks, then had to leave that place after another traumatic life change. I had started to date someone in San Diego about a month before I left, both of us thinking it was going to be a nice way to spend a few weeks. But, as can happen, we found that we really (really, really) enjoyed one another's brains and manners and points-of-view, so she decided to come visit me in Ohio.

(( "I've never seen lightning bugs in person," is what she said. "I can help you with that problem," is what I told her. ))

I wasn't yet properly divorced, not that anyone in Ohio had asked me about that specifically, and the evening before her arrival I was told that it was inappropriate to have a romantic partner stay in the same room and in the same bed as me. I was welcome to continue to stay, of course, but she would need to find an alternate arrangement.

I moved my stuff out the following morning, and into my parents' house. Into my own teenage bedroom, to be precise. There were hurt feelings all around I think, and I don't know that I've properly recovered myself. I felt like -- I literally said the words out loud, in a whisper, alone in a room -- They don't have my back.

This was the thing Book Club would say to each other before going out to improvise our monthly show. I've got your back.

Except one member of our group, who would, ironically, humorously, say Watch your back.

It always put my hackles up. I didn't know how to express why this was so, and I doubted by own instincts about it. I needed to lighten up, is what I told myself. That was just how he was, and in saying the one thing he actually meant the other.

I'm not sure if I believe that now, several months on. I think he was saying the thing that he meant.

Before breaking up -- heck, before getting married -- when my wife and I would argue she would often, regularly tell me that she didn't think she could be the partner I wanted her to be. This would always upset me, and it derailed anything else I was thinking of. It would make me so mad because I thought it meant she was abandoning ship, that we could no longer even discuss the issue at hand, whatever it might be, because now we were suddenly in Should we break up or not? mode.

But after actually breaking up, it occurred to me -- like it should have all along -- that I should just listen to people when they say something. When someone declares, simply and straightforwardly, what they think and feel, you should just trust that person and what they are saying.

(( I'm not saying the end of our relationship was a failure on her part or as my partner -- what I mean is, she was saying very simply "I do not want to be your partner," and I was refusing to hear that. ))

I have moved around a lot as a grown-up. Cincinnati to Chicago to San Francisco to Ohio to Los Angeles to Vermont to Baltimore to San Diego to Ohio to Thailand. I have lived in any one of those places for anything from 6 months to 4 years, and I have made friends and social circles in all of them. My social network in San Diego was by far the biggest, and it felt the deepest. I was going onstage regularly with other people, not knowing what was about to happen, trusting that we were making art together.

I've got your back is what I told them, They've got my back is how I felt in return.

What is the idea that I'm circling right now? I'm not entirely sure. Some writers write with a thesis statement in mind, but I've always written with the need to figure out as I went along exactly what I was talking about.

I know that this entry started because I was writing an email to a new improv friend I made when I moved back to Ohio. He had also just moved there, from Baltimore, where I first took improv classes. I didn't know him there, but we had friends in common. The improv scene in Ohio was -- well. I dunno what it was, or what it is. I went to a few jams, I went to a show. It felt like -- I just wrote this in the email to my friend, about 45 minutes ago -- it felt like going on a date with someone when I was clearly not over my last relationship.

When I started going to improv shows in San Diego, I saw groups and players and I thought, There are no teams where I see a Matt-shaped hole. So I took classes, and it was only after having several scenes with my classmate Arbora that felt really good that felt like icebergs with more under the surface than was visible that I suggested putting our own team together. That turned into Trail Mix. With Trail Mix I felt like I was working with friends and fellow travelers*, and like we were growing and learning and making something together.

(( *"fellow travelers" is a whole other improv-related blog entry someday. ))

Being in Trail Mix and taking classes led me to Book Club, where I always felt like I was running and trying to keep up. That's not a bad thing! It was meant I was doing work that scared me. I probably failed more than I succeeded, but I learned a lot and I got to improvise with, objectively, better improvisors, better actors, and better performers than me. If you can stand a regular dose of humility and humiliation, that's not a bad masterclass in improv. Book Club led me to BLOODCUP, which started as a wouldn't it be funny if... kind of joke about an improv group, and led to the feeling that I was doing a thing, with people I cared for deeply, that would not have existed if I hadn't been in the room.

That's not to disparage Trail Mix or Book Club, it's just to say -- nobody every said to me, about Trail Mix doing monoscene or even about outright being in Book Club, that any of it was a bad idea. Even if it wasn't everyone's cup of tea, those were groups that were someone's cup of tea. BLOODCUP was a group that people actually told me was a pretty bad idea. I don't think anyone not a member of BLOODCUP ever expressed to me that they liked what we were doing. But goddamn, every time we played a BLOODCUP set, I went offstage feeling aLIVE. I felt like, holy shit, I do not understand what just happened, but I loved it.

I feel that way about the novel I wrote, and I feel that way about my weirdo improv team that performed like 3 shows ever.

What I'm saying is, peeking into the Cincinnati improv scene, I was just flat-out not ready to a) break into it, b) help build up what is a young and growing scene, or c) do the legwork necessary to make new friends in it.

I've got your back was a promise still echoing in my head. It wasn't something I wanted to hear from anyone else yet, because I didn't feel capable of believing it.

I texted my friend + BLOODCUP partner Keith, after going to a Cincinnati show, that I was quitting improv forever. It was a joke, but also not a joke? I think I was trying out the idea. But it wasn't about improv. It was about feeling lost and hurt and intimidated by trying again after falling down.

"A single wave sinks your boat," is what he said in return.

I've thought about that a lot. I think it's true -- I think it's my first impulse a lot of the time, at least. At least in the recovery mode I spent a lot of this year in, I was looking for any excuse to take No for an answer, almost all of the time.

I used to go to Book Club practices practicing speeches in my head. I was going to go through with this practice, I would tell myself, and then announce at the end that I was quitting. The feeling of trying and striving and coming up short -- a lot! -- was unpleasant and embarrassing. But I never went through with that impulse, largely because I just enjoyed being with those people so damn much.

In the months between getting married and then not being married, I would have dreams that my wife got a new job and told me we were moving to Minneapolis. Minneapolis was where we'd intended to move after leaving Baltimore, to follow my desire to go back to the midwest. She got a job offer in San Diego 2 weeks before we were set to embark, and we switched gears. In my dream, I was devastated at having to leave San Diego. I never intended to go there, but once there I never wanted to leave. I would wake up and tell her about the dream -- I had it 3 or 4 or half a dozen times -- and I told her I didn't want to go.  

"No one is going to make you," she said, both of us awake.

I made my own dream come true.

I don't know if a wave sank my boat, or if I just jumped overboard.

I don't feel I've quit improvising, though I haven't done it in practice or performance for six months. But I think I've been very fearful of asking anyone, or expecting anyone, to have my back, onstage or off.

I don't read a lot of improv blogs (or newsletters), but a San Diego improv acquaintance posted this one today, and I read it, and I keep thinking it over. Its thesis is to pick one team and be great on it, instead of being just okay on five. I guess that's good advice, but it's not why it sticks in my head. The single line I keep thinking about is, Form a group with people you dig seeing and hanging out with. That's why and how I started Trail Mix with Arbora and it's why and how I started BLOODCUP with Terri and Keith.

I think I kind of forgot about that. I didn't start improvising onstage because I felt an undeniable draw to the artform. I mean, I totally dig the artform! But I did it as an excuse to hang out with and play with people I really liked and trusted, and who trusted me back.

When it doesn't feel like that -- for all sorts of reasons, some of them outside of me and some of them in my own head and heart -- I haven't gone onstage.

We are BLOODCUP. We are a mirror. You are BLOODCUP. Can I get a suggestion of something you are afraid of?

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

  • I dressed in black and performed gut-based improv with #BLOODCUP
  • I drove across the country with my brother
    • (California to Arizona to New Mexico to Texas to Arkansas to Tennessee to Kentucky to Ohio)
    • We saw Mad Max in Arkansas
    • We stopped at a lot of comic book stores and bought $1 comics
    • He had to get a comic book box to keep all of his new comics in
    • I stuffed mine in a backpack.
    • We stopped at Graceland and wrote on the wall
  • I went to Origins with the Diplomancers
    • I played a pro-wrestling RPG
    • I played a Jane Austen-style romance RPG
      • I won the rake's hand by making him a frank business proposition, even though my younger sister was truly in love with him
      • But he was a rake! It was partly for her protection
  • I went to Chicago for a few days
    • I talked to Annie in places where I used to go with Annie
  • I rode my bike for Ohio miles
    • Lots of people asked me why I was riding my bike
  • I went running, a lot
    • Lots of people yelled at me/flipped me off/swerved their cars toward me
  • ChainĂ© came to visit
    • We went to green parts of Ohio, we went to Kentucky
    • We went to Gatlinburg
    • We went to Nashville
    • We went dancing so hard in Nashville she lost a plug
    • We made prints at Hatch
    • We drove north again
    • We rode roller coasters
    • We built a partnership on affection, mutual respect, and murder
    • We watched Twin Peaks from start to finish
  •  I got back to work
  • I spied on Ohioans doing improv
  • I read books about travelers
  • I made plans to travel
  • I had Facebook fights
  • Oh, I almost forgot something!
    • That is legitimately true, but it was probably the biggest thing that happened this summer
    • I can't say I was kicked out of any place
    • But I was basically kicked out of a home + refuge 
    • Made to feel ashamed and unworthy and sinful
    • It's -- look, I'm not trying to start a fight here -- but it was bullshit
    • I think it will fundamentally shape my Ohio relationships from now on
    • I think if you build walls and create distance between yourself and others, you are doing it wrong
      • Life, I mean
      • and loving people
      • and loving your family
    • I don't mean to create distance
    • But I'm not really ready to be the one to bridge the gap, you know? 
    • For some reason I thought this was something David Milch said, but it looks like it's something Paul F. Davis said? I don't know who that is:
      • "Go where you are celebrated, not merely tolerated."
  • I will say it again: "Go where you are celebrated, not merely tolerated."
  • I read interviews with Stephen Colbert that were really moving.
    • I watched the first episode of his new show, and it was not moving.
    • He said, "I love the thing that I most wish hadn't happened"
  • I finished/filled up my Hobbit journal
    • I started a new journal, untouched by the west coast or the east
  •  I cleaned out my parents' basement
    • I traded away my Nintendo games
  • I wrote about some comics, but it was frustrating
  • I came to terms with probably not writing that Friday Night Lights/relationship piece
    • I might write it anyway, because holy smokes it will haunt me otherwise
    • I bet it's how Axl felt about Chinese Democracy
    • Just get it out there, you know? 
  • I listened to the new-new Prince record, which is half good
  • I listened to the new Carly Rae Jepsen record, which is all good
  • I listened to a lot of Whiskeytown again! Crap they were a good band
    • I guess they were more of a duo
    • Being in improv groups has taught me about band dynamics
    • Sometimes it's about talented people getting together, but mostly it's about personalities
    • I bet being in the Rolling Stones is depressing
      • Okay, maybe not the Rolling Stones but probably like Van Halen
      • When it's a business arrangement, but it used to be a band
      • Like you used to be friends with those guys, you know?
      • And now there are friends, or ex-friends, not in the band anymore
      • And Michael Anthony lives somewhere these days, and he probably opens the paper once a year and sees that Van Halen is coming to town and he's got to be like, "Huh!" 
      • Or maybe he is touring with Chickenfoot or something. I hope so.
      • Do not stay where you are merely tolerated 
That is some straight-up good advice.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July Linkery and NEWS

What I've written this month that lives elsewhere:

Why Almost Everything You Know About Star Wars Is Now Wrong, for KQED Pop, in which we discuss retcons, Star Wars, and ecumenical councils.

Review: Spider-Man 2099 #1 for The Beat, which has long been by NYT of comics news, in which we discuss last century's future superheroes, anti-hero secret identities, and the Spider-Man we deserve.

Which is a nice segue into the ANNOUNCEMENT that I'll be helping to cover San Diego Comic Con for The Beat this year! I'll be writing up panels & news & hopefully doing some Artist Alley spot interviews. I expect SDCC will be a bit too crazy to link to articles here as they go up, but I'll surely do a round-up on the other side.

As briefly mentioned above, The Beat has been a personal lighthouse in the dark for comics journalism for 10 years, and I'm excited to contribute this year. Heidi MacDonald, The Beat's editor-in-chief and the sun god of comics reporting if-you-ask-me, is passionate about the medium and passionate about writing about the medium, in a way that goes beyond linking to press releases and storyline speculation. I'm super pleased and excited.

IN OTHER NEWS: I'm also pleased and excited an official female Thor coming to Marvel Comics. I mean, it's not my long-dreamed-of erasure of Superman and permanent replacement by Supergirl, but it still sounds pretty neat to me.

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Tale of Years, 5: 1984

A hinge point.

Grandpa Mathews passes away. It is my first funeral. Jeff and I lurk under coats. Later, I play that one of my He-Men has died, and the others must attend his funeral. Mom tells me to never, ever, play that someone has died.

Later (or before), I ask what will happen when I die. Mom is folding and putting away sheets and blankets in the closet at the end of the hall. She is busy and exasperated (I have likely been asking questions all afternoon), and she tells me, over her shoulder, Jents don't die.

I am relieved. For years, I am relieved.

I am enrolled in pre-school, probably in the summer. There is a girl who announces she has a crush on me. I always arrive after the rest of the kids, and leave at naptime. I arrive one day and am beckoned by the girl with the crush. She is in the middle of a crowd, and she states that We have FOUND our Luke Skywalker, and she raises my arm high in the sky. Every cartoon I have ever seen has taught me the appropriate response to a girl with a crush on you is to run from her.

 I run.

I have vague, timeless recollections of seeing commercials for things like football phones. You can have one (free!) if you subscribe to Sports Illustrated. I do not care for sports, but I have an innate desire for phones shaped like other things. Can we order the football phone?

Jents don't do that.

On television, characters order pizzas, and the pizzas are delivered to their homes. On Weaver Road, we order pizzas, and Mom drives to Owensville to pick them up from Angelo's. Why don't we have them delivered?

We live too far away.

In ways that are hard to grasp, I come to believe that our family is different from other families. There are rules that apply only to us. There are indulgences we are not allowed.

You can imagine, then, my surprise when I turn 5 and become the caretaker of a castle of great reknown.

It is the first birthday I have a direct memory of. It happens in the dining room, which is not where we normally share meals. This is a special occasion. I have filled up an entire hand with my age. I am 5!

Snow falls. Snow angels are made in the backyard, where a structure and a roof has been built over the back porch. Formerly, the back porch was a hellscape of unending sun. Now, it is shaded and a place for tables.

In the front yard, snow dinosaurs. Rolled (with leaves), splattered with blue and green food coloring.

In the summer, suddenly, we are the caretakers of an above-ground pool. For a long time I am terrified of the water. I try to learn how to swim with water-wings, but they throw me out of balance. I am only comfortable when supported by a small, orange innertube. This is the way of the water for some time to come, until I am enrolled in swimming lessons at the Y. My brother takes to it immediately, donning masks and snorkels and captaining rafts and inflatable boats.

My father builds a deck.
I am introduced to Batman, holding court and signing autographs outside of Johnny's Toys. Johnny's Toys has a large window out front, decorated with an elaborate train set. Dad says I should whisper to Batman that I know he is really Bruce Wayne. I say this is ridiculous -- what if the Joker is watching? I will never reveal Batman's secret identity.

In the fall, I am put on a bus. I am sent to kindergarten.
One day I sit next to Preston King. He is my age, he is starting kindergarten as well, but he is taller than me, his hair is curly and large, he is bigger than I in every way. This must be a bully, I decide. I remain unfairly wary of him for the rest of my life.

Another day, I sit next to Geoff. Geoff Wilkins? He tells me his name, which is similar enough to my cousin Jeff's name, that I inform him we will be friends. He is blonde and smaller than me. Geoff responds We are not friends, with a laugh. I feel this rejection for the rest of my life.

(This is some kind of pre-attendance-special-ritual. Preston and Geoff, members of my kindergarten class, are not riders of my bus.)

Every day on my regular bus route, I sit next to Nick Gilkison. He lives on Weaver Road too. He has two younger brothers and dozens of cousins. The Clermont County Gilkisons are a gang, an institution, a deep-rooted tree with many branches. Kellermans, Lockes, Davises, all springing from the core. The first time I spend the night away from home, it is to sleep in a waterbed shared by the Gilkison boys. The first time an exterior object pierces my flesh, it is when I fall while running on a hill in their wooded preserve, and a stick punctures the palm of my hand.

Nick's mom wraps my hand in an exaggerated bandage. I develop a theory: if it's not bleeding, it is not serious.

Next to Nick's house, where the trees part, is The Shelter. A large picnic area, abutting a small cliff that can be climbed, fist over fist, holding to roots. Atop the cliff is a baseball diamond. Past this, a field, and past the field, a creek, and across the creek, more Gilkisons. This is not a public park, though it is sometimes mistaken for such. It is family property.

In 1984, Pa's youngest daughter -- Aunt Sheryl -- marries Lance Cottone. Ma and Pa dance.

I am the ring-bearer. My brother, who is 14 going on 15, serves as bartender.

It is a joyous occasion.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Tale of Years, 4: 1983

Grandma & Grandpa Mathews live on Belfast Road, in a low blue house hidden by trees. It's not properly in the woods -- behind this low blue house is someone else's house, and a barn that sometimes houses a horse -- but it feels like a very Ohio home all the same, with its own yard and hills and valleys and a spring that runs nearby.

It is where my mom spent much of her own childhood. There is no bathroom in this house. It was  chicken coop before it was a home for humans, when there was also a barn and a farmhouse on the property. Those two burned down under mysterious circumstances, with a black sheep uncle inside, with Mom and the Mathews family proper out of town. This is prehistory, and unclear.

Grandpa Eldritch Louis Mathews is a man on the couch. He has big black boots that I liken to Frankenstein's. There is a line of action of figures that Mom occasionally buys for me from Rinky Dink's, figures the same size as Star Wars guys. I have Dracula, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Frankenstein. When I see Grandpa Mathews lying on the couch, waylaid from a head injury that is decades old, I think of Frankenstein and his boots. I do not think Grandpa is Frankenstein. I just think Frankenstein reminds me of Grandpa.

What I think is, I think my Grandpa is Jesus Christ.

Let me explain.
Fount from which I sprang.
There is a painting, or a print of a painting, hanging in the living room of the Mathews home. It is a Peter Bianchi Jesus, probably gotten from a grocery store in the 1950s or little bit later, but when I see this picture, coming from a lack of religion as I do, I say to myself, Why would Grandma have a painting of a man in her house if it wasn't Grandpa? Therefore, Jesus is Grandpa as a much younger man.

(Another time, at Ma's, I have a vision of Han Solo in my head. I imagine this is what God looks like. Young, virile, a man to be followed. I ask Ma if God has a gun that he shoots that is full of water, and when he shoots it, that is rain. Ma is angry. She tells me God does not shoot guns.)

There is a birthday party for Grandpa Mathews. There is a cake in a pink cardboard box. There are party hats and I wear my best Superman shirt. I am adjusting my party hat and the elastic band snaps back at me, hitting me in the nose and beneath my eyes.

Eldritch Mathews, Jeff Mathews, Matthew Jent.
It hurts, and I cry, but not so much that I don't want to put a party hat back on. It's a party hat! I am not going to be the only one not wearing a party hat.

A Tale of Years, 3: 1982

The grass come in. The trees always have.

I have winter memories, but those only become clear later on. For now, it's still the summer I think of.

My brother is 12.

My mom and dad are 32 and 32.

The Big Swing. Aluminum frame, painted brown, a long bench-swing made of wood, also painted. I run circles around it -- I literally do this -- as Dad yells to stay away because a wasp lives there now. I hear him, but I do not listen, and as I'm pumping my knees up and swinging my elbows to each side, there is an intense bolt of light and a pain in my right ear. I'm on the ground, holding it, and someone is beside me -- it must be Dad, but I feel like his voice is far away, telling me I told you to watch out.

I'm taken inside, to the bathroom with Mom. A wasp sting in my ear. There is cotton, there is alcohol, I am swabbed and I squirm and I am held down and soothed, to very little effect, until I tire myself out and lie still.

Later, Dad walks around the swing and sprays something at the ends. The wasps die, I convalesce. For all time, I fear their honeycombed nests.

There is herd of cats and a matriarch called Peaches. Orange kittens, until one is born that is partly gray. Peaches is very friendly and polite. The gray one is meaner. The gray one -- her name should be seared into my memory, too. I can see her eyes, those vertical pupils, but her name is washy. Patches? Cleo? Spot? Who is she?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Tale of Years, 2: 1981

There's a feeling I still feel today in the Ohio River Valley. It is large and expansive, yet hidden. The hills dip down, the trees reach up. You can be hidden there. Taking in the world, but living unseen and unheard. Later, this feels frustrating. In formative times, it feels like patient safety.

"After the monsoon."

In 1981, I am 2 and my brother is 12.

My mom and dad are 31 and 31.

 Up the road at Ma & Pa's. Pa is a farmer, with a former life as a short-run trucker. He wears button-up plaid shirts with short sleeves, which show off his tattoos (a lady in a bikini; a lady not wearing anything; a heart that says Mother). He wears mesh-backed trucker caps that perch on the top of his head. His glasses are big, but he usually keeps them in a leather case in his shirt-front pocket. He breathes heavy. He smiles slow and talks mean. He calls Ma mother. He is my dad's step-dad.

He keeps trailers of junk and detritus and old mechanics around the farm. Right across the road from the farmhouse, where my brother will later build a house of his own, there are several rusted semi-truck trailers filled with parts. When Pa's tractors or cars or combines break down, he goes into these trailers and puts together a replacement.

Ma & Pa's kitchen table. The head of that table, where Pa always sat. Corn on the cob, held by corn-shaped stickers. Those thick wooden chairs, that thick wooden table, the wooden beams along the top of their living room ceiling. Me and Dave, staying the night at Ma & Pa's, on the floor looking up at those beams in the nighttime dark.

The wooden cabinets of our kitchen. The yellow and brown tile of the kitchen floor, fitting together like an alien mosaic pattern. I cannot hear you, there's a banana in my ear. My dad's red sweatshirt, splattered with paint. The sharp metal edges of the toy car I would drive. No shirts in the summertime.

Sitting on the front porch. Watching the real cars as they drove past, because who is that?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Tale of Years, 1: 1980

Memory is tricky, trickful, and slippery.

I remember Grover. I remember the bars on this bed. I  remember later, when the walls are painted blue, which means I remember that they used to be white. I remember Grover falling out of the bed, just out of my reach, and crying and screaming for his return.

Fount from which I sprang.
Matthew, Fry, Cox, Mathews.

I remember the brown van. Two bucket seats up front, wide open space in the back. Wheel wells that serve as seats. Parked in the driveway turnaround where, in the future, Dad installs a basketball pole.

Fish-faces in the backyard, which is 60% grass and 40% dirt. Small tractors and wagons in that dirt,  as rusty as the real things up the road at Ma & Pa's farm. Wheeled around in the red wagon, brown base and red removable rails.

Weaver Road is paved but not lined. Ernie and Jeanette live across that road. We are related in a convoluted way. Ernie is Pa's brother (older or younger? Ernie lives to be older, and Pa continues to work his family's farm, but I think Pa {whose name is Leslie} is the little brother). But Ernie and Pa do not speak. Ernie had a farmhouse too, made of wood, but it is broken and busted by the tornado that comes before my birth. There is a piece of metal in the woods behind our house, wrapped around the top of a tree, that lives on as evidence of this twister. Ernie's house is rebuilt as brick and low to the ground, like ours. Ernie mows his grass once or twice a week, riding a loud, orange mower. Later, we mow his ditch with a pushmower. I am only ever briefly inside Ernie and Jeanette's house. The curtains always seem drawn, though they are often outside. It's a mirror of mystery.

There are haircuts in the backyard.

There are headbutts in the kitchen.

I remember wearing red and blue (like Spider-Man), but I don't know if I remember the outfit, or the picture of the outfit. The thing, or the memory of it.