A History of Jacke in 100 Objects #22 – The Sound

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I fall asleep with my hand on my girlfriend’s hip. I awake with her hand squeezing my throat.

“Jesus!” I gasp after I finally pry her fingers from my neck. “What are you doing?”

She blinks, still in a fog, halfway between sleep and madness. “Huh? What…?” She shakes her head, coming awake. “Oh, sorry… ” she says. “I was dreaming that I was choking you to death.”

“Nice dream,” I say.

Her eyes drift shut. “It’s the SOUND…” she murmurs. “It’s making me…INSANE…”

I cannot blame her. My dreams are just as bad. Monkeys howling, trains derailing, slaughterhouses at night…

“One more day,” I say.

The sound is still there, encasing us. My throat tingles. With one hand I grip her arm; with the other I wrap my pillow around my head.

It does not matter. The sound pierces through.

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A History of Jacke in 100 Objects #21: The Speed Trap

Some advance warning: I’m going to stop this story and start over because it’s the only way I can figure out how to tell it.

So it’s 1980, morning in America, and I’m riding in a car with my grandfather. We are on the way home from the golf course. It’s sunny and we’re in Wisconsin and the car is, I believe, a  1974 Gran Torino. Anyway I’m sure it’s a Ford, because my grandfather bought all his cars from Barney at the Ford Garage, which was just up the road from his house in the small Wisconsin town where he lived.

As we reach the crest of the hill, we see a police car stopped by the side of the highway. He has caught a speeder. Another car—a Ford, no doubt—sits in front of the squad car. The officer of the law is walking toward the driver.

I know what my grandfather is going to say. In fact, I’m about to blurt it out. But I don’t.

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Today’s Comment of the Week: The Hateful Reader!

Today’s Comment of the Week comes from Wonderful Reader G.Z.K., who writes:

Love misrepresented advice. This is brilliant. Your style of writing is immensely appealing. If I wasn’t such a sore loser I would adore this, but unfortunately I’m just jealous and I’m forced to hate you.

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A History of Jacke in 100 Objects #20: The Sign

I was in my twenties and working yet another dead end job. You know how it is. Overworked. Overtired. Undervalued.

I simply could not believe that this was all there was to life. And then what? Death. Oblivion. So it was this and then that. Wow.

Or was there a Heaven to look forward to? Who knew? And what good was Heaven if we couldn’t count on it?

I decided it was time to demand a little more from the Deity.

I had not prayed since childhood. But that day, during my lunch break, I formulated what seemed like a reasonable request:

God, You have given me many trials and tribulations. I can make it through these. But I need to know that You exist. I just need to know.

I was surprised by the immediate response. Words resounded through my body like thunder.

YOU DON’T GET TO KNOW.

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Battling the Napoleon of Spam

As an independent author, I have to deal with a lot of unexpected tasks. Like designing a book cover. Or marketing. And of course, maintaining this blog, which arose as a way for me to connect with my readers. (Which has been awesome. Thank you, readers!)

One of the quirks of hosting a blog are the thousands and thousands of spam comments that come in as comments. WordPress filters out 99.9 percent of those before they ever reach me [statistic unofficial]. But a few get through. And once in a while, one tricks me and I approve it. It’s a minor nuisance and I feel cheated. More spam follows, attacking the same post, as if I’ve swung open the gates and let in the giant wooden horse. What was I thinking? How did I miss this!

So that was my world for several months. And then came something I never expected. Continue reading

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A History of Jacke in 100 Objects #19: My Roommate’s Books

My roommate arrived before I did; I met his stuff before I met him.

Meeting his stuff first was fine with me, because the truth was that I was a little afraid of him. Wilfred Carter Boiteaux III. From New Orleans. Or maybe of New Orleans? I had not known anyone with a name like that before.

A month earlier we had spoken on the phone. I had expected Thurston Howell but he didn’t sound quite like that. He sounded like a decent guy who would make a good roommate. If anything he sounded as anxious and nervous as me.

And now, as I gazed at his stuff, I saw nothing to concern me. Nothing violent or bizarre; no gaudy signs of wealth. A suitcase, unopened, stood in his closet. A small black-and-white television sat on the corner of the desk, next to the folder of orientation materials we’d received in the mail. On the top of the folder was the yellow sheet with the room assignments, just like the one I had, only in the blank for roommate, his sheet would have my name instead of his own.

Jacke Wilson from Cadbridge, Wisconsin. Just how disappointed had he been to see that?

Well, what could I do about it now? Maybe I’d grow on him.

Then I looked up and noticed something else: his bookshelf. It was completely full.
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Today’s Comment of the Week: Advice for the Study Abroad Student Headed to Bologna!

Wonderful Reader Corra22s, commenting on Object #12 – Tickets to the Premiere, writes:

As a current twenty-year-old soon-to-be studying abroad in Bologna (a whole year early!), I really enjoyed your reflections and your hilariously illuminating recount of class relations.

I was wondering if you could give me any advice or suggestions for doors I should try to find. As you said, there are so many! (I’m still TWENTY.) It’d be fun to have a place to look forward to finding, a challenge of sorts.

TWENTY! She’s TWENTY! (You’ll understand the importance of this if you read the story.)

Okay, Corra22s, the first thing to say is that you are indeed a very lucky person, because studying abroad in Bologna is one of the very best things a person could ever hope to do. And the second thing to say is that advice from old people like me to young people like you is pretty much always annoying because it always boils down to the same basic thing:

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