The Next Room

In my previous post about the death of Robert Jordan, I mentioned that he had stepped into the next room. I wasn't familiar with that turn of phrase until the passing of my step-mother. Her good friend spoke at her memorial service, and she read aloud a piece that mentioned this idea. But that was several years ago, and I have only that vivid image in my memory. The name and everything had faded.

After some internet investigation, I uncovered the full passage:

Death Is Nothing At All

Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room. I am I, and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, that we still are. Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way that you always used. Put no difference in your tone, wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was, let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was; there is unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am waiting for you, for an interval,somewhere very near, just round the corner.

All is well.

-- Henry Scott Holland

Now I'm not a religious person. I'm spiritual to a degree and after a fashion. But even if I put all of that aside, there is something poignant and fundamental from this idea that our passing is merely a transition into the next. That death should not diminish us, even though it causes sadness. That we are better for knowing the people we know and knew. And that their finality is not an end if we celebrate who they were and what they meant to us.

I'm reminded of the series finale of Six Feet Under entitled Everyone is Waiting. As if to say everyone who has passed is in the next room. Ready to ask how we've been. I imagine Darlene, my grandfather, and even RJ himself entertaining each other with jokes, sitting around a small table, an intimate and quiet affair. I peek in on them and smile to myself. Such characters. They'll be in there till all hours of the night.

And off to bed I go, knowing that they still have life. That they'll be saving a seat for me one day. And that we'll carry on, as if only time had passed, and nothing more.

So Long, Friend

Two days ago, I found out that one of my favorite authors passed away. His name is James Oliver Rigney, Jr., but if you know him at all, it most likely by his pen name of Robert Jordan.

He wrote the amazingly rich and detailed series called The Wheel of Time. And if ever there was an opus that told of a fictional world, his main series of 11 novels, a prequel novella, and various companion pieces was near the top of them all. With nods to Tolkien, mythology, and world cultures, he borrowed familiar bits of what we know and wove them in with his own creations of magic, cultures, characters. Oh so many characters. No seriously. Lots of characters!

And while the series began to slow after the sixth book, the eleventh really picked up the pace. And RJ, always devilishly coy at book signings, would remark that the series would end with however many books it took to tell the story. As you may surmise, he had not intended it to last as long as it had. But after the last book, he had clearly stated that book 12 would commence the main series. And if it was a 2,000 page tome that required a hand truck, he said, that's what it would be. LOL

It would be the end of over 17 years of storytelling. But he never got to see it end.

See, RJ recently developed a rare blood disease, amyloidosis. And if ever there was a fighter, it was RJ. He kept in touch with fans via his blog. Fan support was incredible. But in the end, the disease caused complications that led to his death. We knew his time was limited, but the suddenness was unexpected.

It feels like a betrayal that a creator did not outlive his own creation. So often, you assume the person will keep going on long after the ink has dried and the paged dog-eared. But sometimes it isn't the case.

I remember at book signings how particular and funny he was. I'd drag my family and friends along to get the books signed. My friend Aaron and my step-dad Greg were hooked, too. So we had an entourage. RJ would always correct people for mispronouncing the names and terms he created.

My big bro, Jim, cracked us all up once when he turned to us and remarked, "Robert, you had me at Seanchan." You probably had to be there, but it was hilarious. And then you get up there and feel compelled to ask the big man something about the series as he neatly and purposefully signs his name. Every time, the old sass, he gave me his patented response, "Read and find out." Curse you, RJ! His slight smile would follow.

As I understand, the last book will be published. He's committed the bulk of it to audio tape or paper. Selfishly, I'm happy to hear that. Like any reader, I'm invested in the story, the characters, and the outcome. I want some closure!

But I keep coming back to the fact that, even though he had the final scene of the last book locked in his head all along, he won't get to see his readers respond. Or hear their thanks for the enjoyment he's brought. Or the ideas he's given. Or the inspiration for future storytellers.

I suppose he's stepped into the next room now. Wherever it is that everyone goes in the end of this life. Who's to say what that is. We all have to read and find out.

Hey man, nice TWIKE!

After work today, I ran into (not literally) one of our computer guys, M@. Our relationship started off a bit bumpy because right after my promotion was official, I came into work that night and moved into my new office. LOL - What can I say, I get antsy with transition and just feel comfortable having all that stuff done and out of the way. Plus the new office is much bigger : )

Needless to say, I jumped the gun and the computer tech guys weren't ready to set up my new computer, the internet port wasn't working properly, and basically I caught them off guard. After a bit of email to-and-fro between the main tech guy and our associate director, things were "settled." Fortunately, I ran into two of the guys over lunch that same day and went over to them to apologize for what I did. They took it well and said they should be able to get to it that afternoon.

Well, M@ and I ended up chatting it up while he set up my computer, and let's just say, we have a bunch of nerdy common interests to seal over any troubled cracks in our professional relationship. It was actually a bit uncanny how many TV shows or book series that he mentioned that I'm also into. So now we're basically the best friends on earth.

Anyway, back to this afternoon at the elevators. We're chit-chatting on the way down, and Mama Bean parts ways with us. M@'s all, "where are you off to?" Taking the bus to the shuttle lot, I respond. "Want a ride there?" To which I'm all, hecks yeah.

Come to find out, his mode of transport 'round town is an electric/human-powered hybrid. It's called a TWIKE, which basically sounds like Elmer Fudd named it. But you know, it's German. Those crazy kids with their language!

He owns one of less than a dozen TWIKE's in the US. Most of them are in Europe, natch. And they cost quite a bit of dough. Nevertheless, it is a cool set of wheels! He has it parked right in front of the YMCA. He pulls the electric cable from the building and shows me how to get inside the cockpit. You can't step on the floor because of it's light body construction. And you feel like you're riding in the future.

It can run either completely electric or you can pedal to ease the drain on the batteries. It can run pure electric for about 40 miles,
which extends under pedal power. He got it up to 50 MPH once, he said, which seemed crazy!

The controls are more like that of an airplane / sail boat. And there's this neat little control panel in the center that reminds me of the time circuits from Back to the Future.

The TWIKE turned quite a few heads and produced many smiles. It drives on all the regular streets because it's classified as a motorcycle. I'd be a bit afraid of being clobbered by Soccer Mom in her Monstrosity or even worse, a bendy bus. But M@ piloted the TWIKE with ease. It was a bit bumpy on the rougher spots but otherwise accelerated smoothly and quietly like any good electric engine should. And the braking system is regenerative, so stop and go traffic made the batteries rather happy.

The ride was an enjoyable and exciting end to my day. M@ said he's on the waiting list for a new one, which he's been twiddling his thumbs over for 2 years. Each TWIKE is hand built, so production is quite limited.

As I watched him skim away, I overheard a bus driver waiting at the lot calling out to a pedestrian, "No, no. He's pedaling it. It has pedals." They probably thought it was some fancy enclosed tricycle. But then again, I guess it sorta is.

Too Freaking Funny!

Yeah, so this is my first attempt at adding a YouTube video to my blog... let's see if I can keep from blowing things up!

Anyway, thanks to The Lovebrarian for revealing this MADtv clip to me. I love the clever humor!!!!!

The Moment of Truth

As you may have read, I rocked out my interview last week, or so I thought...

While at work today, my coworker HH got a phone call when I was chatting with her in her office. It was from one of the committee members contacting her as my reference. Ooh! Good news? Sure, but not a done deal. They could be contacting all of the finalists. Still, it distracted me even more. I knew I would likely hear back today either way.

After lunch, I overheard a quick conversation about the search chair leaving a message for JP the British Boss. They were both on the committee for this position, and the timing seemed right. Perhaps she called to finalize the deal and make the offer to their candidate? But was it me?

I had been nervous all weekend and just wanted the Band-Aid ripped off. Job or no, I needed some answers. No matter how well I thought I did, you just never know with these things.

It figures that the call came through when I was with a student. So I tossed my little kiddy out of my office (no, not really), grabbed my cell phone to listen to the calm and unrevealing message from the search chair, and quickly dialed her number.

The secretary put me through...

"How's it going, Army?"

"Hello Search Chair, good to hear from you. I'm very nervous."

Chuckle. "Why should you be nervous when we're offering you the position?"

Laughter. "Are you kidding me? That's wonderful news!"

WOO-HOO!!! I was ecstatic! I had been wanting this promotion really badly for so many reasons but tried to not get my hopes too high. But it all worked out in the end!

So I'm basically jazzed : )

And that's all for now!