Saturday, March 24, 2007

Travelin' man goes to....

This week's letter from travelin' Uncle Matt sees my life's journeys having brought me to.... Hamilton, New Jersey, near Princeton.

Specifically, I'm sitting on my brother's back porch, sipping a glass of rather good cognac, and smoking a cigar in about 35 degrees of a clear, crisp "what is a Miami boy doing in the north in March" sort of night. There's something poetic about the whole thing --- which perhaps is what drove me here --- anyway there's a thin line between creativity and boredom.

So, what is a Miami boy etc etcing? Tomorrow morning I stand as godfather to my nephew, the first born and very adorable little boy of my brother and s-i-l. Today was the first time I got to see the little Michelin Man (we are a well-fed family)... so at this point just about any jokes about being named godfather to a baby in New Jersey are more than a little bit funny. Though it was only mildly and politely received when I asked before if this meant that I had to settle all debts with the five families... mostly fell on deaf ears. So I guess tomorrow I have to limit it to, like, four bad Al Pacino impressions tops.

That notwithstanding, the whole thing is a considerable honor. Best man at the wedding, and now this. 90% of the time it's true what John Lennon said, "Life is what happens while you're making other plans"... but there are also the events that come along that you know in advance are going to be significant life experiences. This is doubtless one of them. Pictures will be taken, if you'd like to see some let me know --- if you're reading this, there's a good chance I'm going to thrust them upon you whether or not you ask!! :-)

I may be starting another journey too... one that has me, so far, finding myself happy a lot more these days. More on that, well, whenever. A definite stay tuneder though.

Completely arbitrary and transparent change of subject, I've just started reading "The Great War: American Front" by Harry Turtledove. It's an alternate history book, the second in a series. The idea behind the story is that he goes back to a single point in the history of the Civil War, a pivotal point which it can be argued eventually led to the South's fall, and what-ifs out the possibility had that one event been different. In the first book, "How Few Remain", it's about 1885 and the South ultimately was victorious in "The War of Secession". Lincoln is still alive, having been voted out unceremoniously in 1864 having failed to gain real traction in the war. The book plays out a new war betwreen the confederacy and the union, and features significant story lines for Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Frederick Douglass, Mark Twain, General George Custer....

This second book continues about a generation later on the dawn of WWI. I won't get too much into the second book --- partially because I don't want to ruin the possibility of reading the first for you and partially because I'm only on page 35... but consider: If the French and English had, as they were so close to actually doing, supported the South... where would that have left the US in European relations? Suddenly the Germans fall in a different light.

I seem to like alternate histories, I read a very good one when I was in Washington as well.

I should have more to share after tomorrow's big doings. I enjoy spending time with all of my brother's in-laws whenever I come up here, and we have some cousins and such scattered around as well who may also join in, so it should be good times.

I think... think I am sufficiently appreciative of the fact that I have been blessed with drawing the card in The Big Deck that says "good family life". I know there's nothing like it.

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