Posted by: Richard Bergstrom | September 12, 2011

The Gambler – A Story

The Gambler by Richard Bergstrom

That night, I offered you a drink. In a crowd, a bar: scent of cigars and cattle, blue jeans and dusty cowboy hats, then you. No friends, no family, and never seen, we were alike. Raven, your straight black hair, tanned hands on your bountiful hips like the Pocahantas of myth, and no, not the shaved, underaged naked one. A scar, just above your right eye, gave you a third eyebrow. I didn’t have to ask how it got there. Life has a way of cutting the deck that people are dealt. You knew about life when you found me at the craps table, notepad in one hand, two six-siders in the other.

“There is no God” and I rolled the dice, taking mental notes.

Yet, you showed me otherwise. You sat down next to me, but I could only dream of touching you. Feeling you up, dressing you down. And I could be proud. I could have your hand in mine, lips locked, standing tall. You wanted to be with me, and I was you. Together, whole, one. You swept up the dice, cast them on the table one last time, and then left.

I lingered, staring at your lucky seven’s. And stared. And someone tried to sit in your empty chair, but my feet held your place. The bartender refused to serve me any longer, but his baritone voice rang over the phone.

“Jack, it’s Earl. Raccoon needs a cab.”

I saw your smile in the paper the next day. It didn’t look like the real thing though. It also said your name was Maria, but my real name also wasn’t Raccoon. But, you knew that too.

 

Gravity brought us together that night. Natural selection let me feel you in a thousand stories. Your smile adorned hundreds of paintings. Scores of flowers and animals echoed your nature. Yet, we are not one, yet. Feeling, eagerly, fingers of energy grazing, just distant, cutoff from love.

 

Still, I went the next night. And the next. And, of course, the next week. Not every night and I sometimes left early, but you still weren’t there. No raven hair, and no Raven, my lady. I stopped playing dice, since I knew what I was shooting for. I also stopped buying drinks for others. I didn’t want to kill them off too. But, the crowd still remained, a variety of faces wearing the same kinds of clothing. The same smells of cigar and country, and my dealer, my junkie, the sweaty bartender with the empty tip jar. On those nights that I was sure you’d be there, that I tried shouting over the card games and pool tables for you, he’d kick me out. Earl would chase me off the front stoop, out of the parking lot, and into another old cab. In the twilight, I never saw the details on the shadowy faces of the drivers. They didn’t know my name either, nor Raven’s.

That week, I went through twenty pages and ten pens. But, I thought my best writing would come when I found you again.

 

True love, though, is a mathematical improbability. I’d never bet on it. The chance of two people that are made for each other, finding each other through the mobs and miles, must be quite small. All the more reason to latch on tight if the dice seem to roll your way. Without love, there is loneliness, and without snakeeyes, there’s nothing to see.

 

“Did you do that?”

I would’ve missed it, but I just happened to be looking the right way. Etched into the wooden cross, just above the bouquet, the word “Hello.” The wind trickled through the hair on my arms and neck. The sand blew past me, past the flowers, and over the mesa to the canyon floor. The canyon floor, a long, long way down. That must have been where you left me. The article in the newspaper didn’t have a roadmap, but the area seemed right. A lonely curb on an unpaved road, unnoticed by anyone save whoever built the shrine. And, of course, myself. And I can feel you. You’re in the wind, the sand, and the flowers on the turn. The string of face-cards that caps off a winning streak. The set of rolls that defy the odds and the gods. If such a power can change the luck in a dice game, then I will be hearing you soon. I just have to count the cards and take notes.

 

But what now? They call it a “phantom limb”. Maybe it’s some kind of nerve memory, but I still feel you. It’s not an embrace anymore, or even a caress. It’s a tap, tapping on my shoulder, and since you tried talking to me, I tried to find you again, so I bought a dream catcher.

 

I drove to your shrine daily, some time after I get done thinking and before I get done writing. The pendant hung limply from my rearview window, the long-dead dark feathers dried and lifeless from the desert heat. An open space in the middle of the pendant was threaded with beads like a spider’s web. That was my dreamcatcher. A four dollar trinket, designed to keep out the bad dreams of loneliness and losing bets. Only good things could pass through. I tried to drive straight, but the wheel in my hands keeps turning to the shoulder, my vision following the dreamcatcher like a broken compass. No birds in the sky, and only discarded flowers on the ground.

 

You always believed in those kinds of things. Before, I liked fact: odds, numbers, probability. The senses, touch, taste, smell and sight. I wish I could hear you now, a whisper, or a sigh. But no matter how fast I drive, the dreamcatcher never rings. I know it will soon, and I’m going to test it.

 

I anchored the flowers in a little blue vase I had bought at your reservation. The lady who made it was old: her parched hands wrapped the vase, streaks of silver hair braided through ceramic beads, wizened eyes that didn’t recognize your name. I didn’t ask her why she packaged the vase. She also had more quill pens for sale. And candles.

“It is good to write. These pens won’t fray until long after you’re done releasing your thoughts.”

I bought some pens, and back in my truck, I felt the sharp tip. The tip that had once been deep in a bird’s body. The tip that now drew blood from my palm.

 

It’s actually a pretty simple test. It’s a matter of velocity and angles. The speed of sound is only a bit faster than my souped-up chevy. Gravity will do the rest, now that I know how to find you.

 

Redwolf’s eye would twitch whenever he had a full-house. I learned quickly not to bet against Ziggler when he had a cigar in his mouth. I never needed to figure out Moose – he liked breaking up his best hands, risking it all for a big win. That night, I won more hands than I lost. An average night for me, nothing too special. I didn’t plan on playing any more cards after tonight anyway.

“Raccoon, another drink?”

“No, Earl, I’m done.”

I didn’t want to lose what I found, and I already hit the jackpot once.

 

I’ve learned your tells well by now. Even if it’s been weeks since I’ve seen you, I still feel you around me, clutching, not wanting to let go. I see mockeries of your smile in the other wayward, lifeless patrons of the bar. Earl never leaves. He’s always there, handing out the drinks, calling for cabs, and letting each person go about their business. The cards dealt out, the dice rolled, and the same game played out. But, Raven, you’re telling me you’re still around, and you’re telling me how to find you. You’re telling me there are different games and better stakes out there, and you have your chips stacked on me. I just need to place the big bet for you.

The Raccoon”

 

I lit two candles at the base of her cross, then climbed into my truck. I put my wallet, license revealed, on the dashboard beneath the dreamcatcher. The night was dark, the wind shivering, exciting, sensitizing my skin. The hairs stood on end as I revved the engine, and let go of the brake. Up-shift a gear. Faster. Shock absorbers working. The dreamcatcher jingled like a doorbell, and welcomed me over the edge of the cliff.

 

 

Please feel free to check out the new post “Golden Arm – Excerpt #2” at http://bergstromblogsonbaseball.wordpress.com 

Feel free to leave feedback on anything that interests you (or for that matter, anything you would like to talk about). You can also get a free subscription to this blog so that you are emailed when further updates are made.

Thanks!

Richard

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Posted by: Richard Bergstrom | September 11, 2011

Online on 9/11

I was online that morning. I’d actually been online all night, a 25 year old kinda-hippieish guy in Corvallis, Oregon that had just returned from a camping trip where we had talked about the end-of-the-world mythologies of various religions on the night of September 9th. On the morning of the 10th, I watched as my friends ridiculed and demeaned a guy who thought our camping space was vacant and thought about how unnecessary all the drama and negative energy was. Still recovering from the bad vibes and the booze, I was lingering on Yahoo the morning of the 11th, well before the bots invaded the chatrooms, listening to people yell and scream over the audio about how this room was “Their” chat room and hating on anyone who treaded wrong in their little worlds. So I tried to be a little voice of reason and humor to help defuse things, thinking that I was changing people by getting them to pause and think. I felt pretty educated though I still hadn’t finished my college degree and I felt I was intelligent and “socially active” even if, in retrospect, my activity was limited to chats at coffee tables outside of Starbucks, reading the first chapter of books like “How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic” and little quips on Yahoo about how others (not me, of course…) waste their time over nothing important on the internet. Hey, I’d been on the internet since the mid 90s and liked to brag that my high school was one of the first schools wired onto the net. I was hip, I knew a lot, I was “in tune”.

 
Then a message came through that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.

 
Even then, I was capable of flashbacks. Comes with being self-aware and world-wise as a partially employed 25 year old wanting to save the world through education while conveniently forgetting I didn’t have a degree nor the money to actually save for more than a cup of Starbucks coffee. I flashed back to November 4th 1995. Didn’t remember the exact date at the time, but I can thank wikipedia for helping me to look at that up as I write this. So, I was playing an online game called a dikuMUD (which can also be looked up on wikipedia) and news came across that Yitzhak Rabin, prime minister of Israel had been assassinated. Even in those days, news traveled fast on the internet and the immediate response was “At least the killer wasn’t a Palestinian.” In fact, the news traveled so fast that you couldn’t find out details on it for another twenty minutes.

 
Flashback over, I flip to CNN because I’m sure television has hopped on the internet superhighway because every news broadcast instructed viewers how to use the “at” symbol.

 
There’s a reporter in front of a camera, a rooftop shot, with the World Trade Center framed nicely, smoke and fire in the background. The reporter’s not sure yet what hit the tower besides “a plane”. The ticker beneath the footage backed up that amorphous tidbit. Probably just an accident, nothing more, but gosh, I rarely see this kind of thing on television and I start wondering who goofed up and some fresh face just hopped on Yahoo Chat to give her a/s/l well before the days when people actually maintained their profiles and then like a bad video game a plane limped slowly through the sky and looked like it was flying behind the smoke and fire until the glass exploded and a second ball of flame erupted. It looked so fake, so unlike the movies, that it was hard to believe it was real until papers joined the falling debris.

 
What the hell? This was no accident.

 
My hunger for information started. I mean, it’s one thing to hear something on TV, but to be able to read and absorb it, at a pace I was comfortable with and could safely digest, that’s what I needed. Too much was happening too quick. Yahoo chat discarded, I head to CNN.com. Offline. WTF? Rumors of a car bomb near the White House blare from the TV. BBC.com? No go. A plane headed towards the White House flips the camera off the Trade Center to a quiet looking marble building. I hopped on IRC, one of the few, though sometimes disjointed, bastions of intelligent public chat on the internet at that time. I wasn’t the only one who wanted to know more and people shared what information they had or were hearing. Rumors of planes heading towards Seattle and Los Angeles. Seattle sounded scary. For some reason, the hot Y2K rumor was that radicals (there was no such thing as terrorists in America at that time) would take out the Space Needle for no real reason other than it was there. Without any online news working (though we kept checking) and as of yet, no public statement issued by the government (who probably had their hands full at the time), anything and everything seemed possible.

 
“…when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center’s North Tower at 8:46 A.M. Within minutes, major online news sites were struggling to serve between 3 and 10 times their normal load as Internet users sought details. One news Web site estimated that traffic to its Web servers was doubling every 7 minutes, beginning around 8:50 A.M., until about 9:30 A.M.

By just after 9 A.M., when United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the World Trade Center’s South Tower, the Web sites of CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, Yahoo! News, and others were observed to be slowing significantly. The cause would later be reported to have been the loads on these sites’ servers, not connectivity problems in reaching servers across the Internet. Then the South Tower collapsed, damaging equipment and circuits in the Trade Center complex.” http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10569&page=21

 

I remember as a young child watching a mockumentary news broadcast called “Special Bulletin”. Shot as a fake news broadcast and with constant reminders in the “War of the Worlds” type vein, there were reminders that what you were seeing wasn’t real even as journalists and hostages died in gunbattles and as another reporter on a Navy ship “safely out in the Atlantic” with Charleston in the background talked about the radicals with a nuclear weapon until, in midsentence, that background exploded in a flash of light and blew the fake journalist not just halfway, but all the way across the room and past the camera. No warning, no inside scoop to see what the radicals were doing. Just a big fake boom that felt all too real. Myself and others felt blind on 9/11. People on IRC confirmed that they couldn’t reach their friends in New York City, either because the cellphones were jammed or because of a media blackout. The only way we knew New York was still there was that we could still see it on television.

 
We weren’t sure what would happen next. We were told the towers were built to withstand the impact of a plane. They were wrong. Again, no warning. Just an ominous rumbling and a live shot of people on the streets starting to run away without really seeing in the background what was going on besides a tsunami-high cloud of dust coming. We weren’t even sure if people could survive the dust or if it would just touch them and kill them like something out of Steven King’s “The Fog”. We knew something had happened at the Pentagon but we weren’t sure what or why or more importantly how. I mean, don’t they have a military to defend it? If the Pentagon could be hit, what’s next? Rumors of another plane coming towards Washington… and a guilty sigh of relief at the aftermath of Flight 93.

 
Things slowed down. We could tell. We were on alert and “the worst” was over though the estimated casualties counts crept into the tens of thousands. The television broadcasters started sounding more like broadcasters and less like people. The internet sites were still down but information was flowing more regularly through the television. Both towers had collapsed, the search and cleanup began. Someone set up a website and started posting facts, vetted by others and overheard on broadcasts of what had happened. Attached to that website were phone numbers for blood banks and charity organizations. Others posted to these impromptu news sites, offering to drive people to New York City to volunteer or offering up a spare room or even a couch for stranded travelers. I did my best to forward information along, let people know on my chat networks where lists of the missing and the found and the alive were posted. Truth be told, I couldn’t do all that much. I didn’t even own a couch and I lived in my parents’ house. Around 4pm, things seemed settled, if not safe and I felt I had done what little I could. I fell asleep.

 

The next morning I woke up. The house was quiet. My friends online were staying inside, calling in sick from work, staying with their families. I did, for awhile. I eventually had to get out. I went to Starbucks, my home away from home. It was open, but none of my friends besides the baristas were there. I got my mocha and sat down in the sun. The town sounded so quiet I thought I was in the farmlands of southern Illinois. Hearing a single car drive a few blocks away jolted me out of my thoughts. I didn’t know if we deserved this. I did know we didn’t expect this. I knew more people died each day in other countries abroad from wars or suicide bombings and other forms of violence, most of those stories never making more than a byline in a newspaper or a blip on a CNN ticker. I had no idea how we would react to this. More violence? More war and hate? I felt like I didn’t know anything except how I felt, and how I felt was numb.

 
A pickup truck drove by slowly, a hundred American flags embedded on flagpoles lying solemnly in its bed. I didn’t know the driver but I _knew_ he was going to pass them around to his friends, his neighbors, to strangers. Probably paid for out of his own pocket, taking action to do what he felt needed to be done. That nobility, that action amazed me. There could be, would be some benefit, some opportunity for action that might salvage some good from this tragedy. And then, I decided to take part. No more quips or words without actions, I got off my ass and called the Red Cross to donate some of my meager blood and even more meager coffee money. I got a real job and, in time, a real degree. Not solely because of the events of 9/11, though, but because I needed to act. I needed to improve myself, not putting into words what I have thought about those days until now. Now, the next time reality blinds me, confuses me, scares me, I can produce something more in return than a silent nod of respect to a passing truck. I can get offline and get things done in the real world. And for that, unlike others on that tragic day and on other days since, I am grateful to be alive.

 

For baseball-related reactions to 9/11, please check http://bergstromblogsonbaseball.wordpress.com

 

For a touching tribute done by one of my friend’s bands, please check out “Yesterday” by The Silent Still

Posted by: Richard Bergstrom | September 10, 2011

White Ceiling – A Story

WARNING – MATURE CONTENT

 

White Ceiling by Richard Bergstrom

 

White ceiling, he was awake in his room.  He turned over, spread his woman’s thighs, and entered her.  After a time, she smiled and he felt good.  He stood from his bed and wrapped himself in his cloth.  His door opened.  He left his room and at the end of the hallway, the far door opened.  He walked down the corridor and entered his office.  He sat down.  He pressed the five buttons because it was important and then saw his woman smile.  He smiled back and the door opened.  He reentered the hallway, and the door to his right opened.  He sat down with his son.  His woman placed the food in front of him, then in front of his boy, then sat down with her food.  All three of them opened their mouths and ate their food.  The woman and boy looked at him and smiled.  The door opened and they stood up and walked into the hallway.  A door opened and his boy walked through and laid down on the bed.  The door closed, and his door opened.  He walked through and
took off his cloth.  His woman was there.  He laid down in his bed, entered her.  After she smiled, he felt good, then fell asleep.

White ceiling, he was awake in his room.  He turned over, spread his woman’s thighs, and entered her.  After a time, she smiled and he felt good.  He stood from his bed and wrapped himself in his cloth.  His door opened.  He left his room and at the end of the hallway, the far door opened.  He walked down the corridor and fell.  He pressed the five buttons because it was important but the buttons were hot and then he stopped falling.  He could not reenter the hallway but he could see he was touching a long grey tube in front of him.  Far down, there was a red and grey haze.  He moved his thighs, but could not sit down.  Beneath him, a woman was placing food in front of a man and a boy.  All three of them opened their mouths and ate their food.  The woman and boy looked at the man and smiled.  The door opened and they stood up and walked into the hallway beneath him and fell.  A door opened and gray smoke came through.  The door closed, and a door
opened.  His feet moved but he could not walk through.  He took off his cloth and fell and fell asleep.

White ceiling, he was awake in his room.  He turned over, spread his woman’s thighs, and entered her.  After a time, she smiled and he felt good.  He stood from his bed and wrapped himself in his cloth.  His door opened.  He left his room and at the end of the hallway, the far door opened.  He walked down the corridor and stopped.  He sat down.  He touched the cold floor because it was important and saw his smile reflected.  He smiled back and his door opened.  His woman entered the hallway, and the door to his left opened.  She walked around him and through the door.  He stood up and walked right into the office door.  He turned around and walked into his door.  He turned around again.  The door to his left opened.  He walked around his woman and his son and entered the room.  He sat down and opened his mouth.  After a time, he stood up and walked into the door.  He turned and walked into the wall.  He stopped, then he took off his cloth.  His woman
was not there.  He laid down on the floor then fell asleep.

White ceiling, he was awake in his room.  He turned over, and looked at his woman’s thighs.  After a time, she smiled.  He stood from his bed and wrapped himself in his cloth.  His door opened.  He left his room and at the end of the hallway, the far door opened.  He walked back into his room.  His woman was putting on her cloth.  He sat down on the bed.  He pressed his woman’s shoulder because it was important and then saw his woman smile.  He smiled back and the door opened.  He opened his mouth as the woman turned towards the door.  He pressed his woman’s shoulder and opened his mouth.  The woman tried to walk towards the door.  He laid her down on the bed and took off her cloth.  She opened her mouth and he entered her.  He fell asleep.

White ceiling, he was awake in his room.  He turned over and opened his mouth.  His woman spread her warm thighs and he entered her.  After a time, she smiled and his woman put on her cloth and left the room.  He fell asleep.

White ceiling, he was awake in his room.  He turned over and pressed her warm shoulder because it was important.  He opened his mouth and pressed her again.  After a time, she smiled and his woman put on her cloth and left the room.  He fell asleep.

White ceiling, he was awake in his room.  He turned over and looked at her white shoulders and dark hair.  He looked at the white wall behind the bed.  He pressed the cold wall above her head because it was important.  After a time, she smiled and his woman left the room.  He fell asleep.

White room, he was awake.  He turned over, spread his woman’s pale thighs, and tried to enter her.  After a time, her lips parted, showing white teeth.  He stood from his bed and wrapped himself in his white cloth.  His door opened.  He left his room and at the end of the hallway, the far door quickly opened.  He walked slowly down the corridor and entered the room.  He sat down.  He looked at the white buttons with dark markings because it was important.  He saw his woman’s frozen smile and pressed it.  It felt like the cold wall.  The door opened.  He reentered the hallway, and the door to his right opened.  He looked, then sat down with his dark son.  His white woman placed the grey food in front of him, then in front of his boy, then sat down with her food.  His woman and son opened their mouths as he touched his food.  It was a grey tube.  His woman and son ate their food then looked at him and smiled.  The door opened.  His woman and son stood
up and walked into the hallway.  A door opened and his boy walked through and laid down on the bed.  The door closed.  After a time, he opened his mouth then he ate his food.  He fell asleep.

Grey ceiling, he was in a room on a bed.  He turned over, and saw the walls of the room twisting back and forth in a haze.  Seeing became questioning, questionings became meanings, and in the meanings, words began to form into thoughts.  He pressed the wall with a thought, and the haze parted.  He saw a figure standing there, revealed in red, the cloth was the same color as the fire that had sundered his world.

The figure opened its mouth.

“To be or not to be, that is your question.”

The man queried, “Am I dreaming that I am, or am I a dream?”

“To live is to die.  No more does that happen.  By a sleep, we end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that your flesh is heir to.  Those who now sleep do not think, or speak, or dream.”

He retorted, “I think, therefore I am.”

“Do you want the whips and scorns of time, the oppressor’s wrong, the pangs of despised love, the insolence of office?  To grunt and sweat under a weary life, but dread of something after death?  We do not breed thinkers.”

The man asked, “Are you honest?”

“Your resolute life has been sickened with the pale cast of thought.”

The frown twisted the man’s face, ‘What should those as I do crawling between my room and my office?” 

“Let the doors open and close for you, so that you may play the man nowhere but in your own house.  We gave you a face, do not make yourself another.  You consummate, you walk, you press buttons, you eat, and you put your son to bed.  Make diligence your ignorance and farewell.”

White ceiling, he was awake in a room.  He turned over, spread the woman’s lips, and kissed her.  After a time, she smiled and he felt good.  He stood from his bed and wrapped himself in cloth.  The door opened.  He left the room and at the end of the hallway, the far door opened.  He walked down the corridor and entered the office.  He sat down.  He pressed the five marked buttons because it was important and then saw the woman’s image above the word “TRUTH”.  He smiled back and the door opened.  He reentered the hallway, and the door to his right opened.  He sat down with the boy.  The woman placed the food in front of him, then in front of the boy, then sat down with her food.  All three of them opened their mouths but he ate their pills.  The woman and boy looked at him and smiled as his stomach swelled.  After a time, he felt good, then fell asleep.

 

Please feel free to check out the new post “Jordan Zimmerman’s Sing-A-Long Blog – A Parody “A Man’s Gotta Do” ” at http://bergstromblogsonbaseball.wordpress.com 

Feel free to leave feedback on anything that interests you (or for that matter, anything you would like to talk about). You can also get a free subscription to this blog so that you are emailed when further updates are made.

Thanks!

Richard

 

Posted by: Richard Bergstrom | September 9, 2011

Playground – A Poem

Playground by Richard Bergstrom

 

Back and forth

Back and forth

I loved it — I was free

When I was on them, I would fly

Higher and higher, until I touched the moon

Or the swing went completely over

And I would hang upside down

A kid again

 

I am climbing the ladder

It only takes three steps these days

The big kids used to do it in five

And I am on top

Standing, I am on top of the world

My World

And I see everything and everywhere

I sit down and edge forward

“Torpedo Away! Look out below!”

I launch myself forward

“Warp speed! Target dead ahead!”

I finally reach the bottom and walk away.

 

I walk past the monkey-bars

Domed steel where parents hung their kids

Like Christmas ornaments and watched them

play “Tag” and hang like spiders

Magically shooting, saving, and living with each other.

Their parents stood in the background

Towering over the playground

Their sighs now mirror my face.

 

My favorite was the merry-go-round

I grabbed on the outside rod

I only needed to use my left arm now

And I ran around and around

Counter-clockwise five times

As fast as I could

Faster, faster, almost the speed of light.

I jumped on and it stopped

 

The school bell rings

Once, twice, third time’s the charm

I sit on the teeter-totter

And watch all of them come out

They head away as fast and free as possible

Biting the Lemonheads that education serves them

The younger kids run to the playground

To play until their parents arrive

They run to the slide and the swings and the monkey-bars

And the merry-go-round

As I watch the rust, grime, and age disappear

The playground is alive

And I remember

And wonder

 

And the parents come

The memories flooded me again

They look so familiar…

Over there, it’s.. No it isn’t.

Many shadows haunt me

Recognized by my heart, not my mind

I do not know them

I accept it

It would be impossible

Only my imagination

 

Five kids run up to me and giggle

I don’t know why

Five kids huddle and laugh with each other

I don’t know why

Five kids grab the other end of the see-saw

I know why

Five kids try to pull me from the earth

I know why

But five kids can’t do it

I know why

And let go, all five stop trying

Because I forgot how to fly

They said “Thanks for letting us try, mister”

 

Please feel free to check out the new post “Simply Enjoying Sabremetrics” at http://bergstromblogsonbaseball.wordpress.com 

Feel free to leave feedback on anything that interests you (or for that matter, anything you would like to talk about). You can also get a free subscription to this blog so that you are emailed when further updates are made.

Thanks!

Richard

Posted by: Richard Bergstrom | September 6, 2011

Life is Like an Orange

 

Life is Like an Orange by Richard Bergstrom

 

You know, life is kind of like an orange. After all, there are millions of different oranges in the world, and they all taste or look just a bit different… some are a bit more sweet than others, and some are quite sour… some have thicker peels than others, and some you can’t peel without ripping into the orange… some have seeds in them, and some break easily into pieces… some are not even eaten, but just drop to the ground and decay away … most importantly, I can not explain to you what an orange tastes like, or why one tastes better than another. An orange, after all, tastes… sweet… juicy… tangy… orangey??? I might as well be describing a piece of candy… unless you have tasted an orange, you would have no idea what I was describing. Even if you had tasted an orange, I may call a sweet orange what you may call a sour orange… or you may consider a thick peel what I consider a thin peel… I may love oranges and you may hate oranges… you may say that the orange that fell from the tree is helping to fertilize that same tree… and I may think it is just wasting away. All I can hope for is that you understand how I think an orange tastes even if you do not agree with me.

 

Please feel free to check out the new post “Golden Arm” at http://bergstromblogsonbaseball.wordpress.com 

Feel free to leave feedback on anything that interests you (or for that matter, anything you would like to talk about). You can also get a free subscription to this blog so that you are emailed when further updates are made.

Thanks!

Richard

Posted by: Richard Bergstrom | September 4, 2011

Echoes – A Poem

Echoes by Richard Bergstrom

I have been everywhere, and I have never left home.
I have seen everything, and I have never opened my eyes.
I have loved every man and woman, and I have raped them.
I have kissed a tree, and I have used a tree to wipe my butt.
I have helped every human being, and I have killed every one of them.
I have loved God, and I have also destroyed Him.
I have spoken every language, and I have never communicated.
I have written poetry, and I have cursed in slang.
I have complimented people on their actions, and I have condemned them for the same actions.
I have sung every song, and I have screamed insults at people.
I have had numbers of people working for me, and I have fired every one of them. 
I have always valued personality, and I have been attracted to people with good looks.
I have hated people for hurting others, and I have hurt people myself.
I have lived forever, and I have died every day.
I have made perfect sense, and I have been a contradiction.
However, with all the things I have done, I have never lost hope in the future.
I am the human spirit.

 

Chirps:

Richard Bergstrom (@rbergstromjr): Love – the ability to wonder about a person, to value what you see, and to be optimistic about what you will see in them in the future.

Charles Perkins (@charlieperkins7): “Blessed are the cracked, for they shall let the light in.” – Anon

LeVar Burton (@levarburton): As good a reason as any… RT @jodema To ease my #WhiteGuilt I have just followed LeVar Burton. #SoThere

Jimmy Rollins (@jimmyrollins11): Success is right around the corner. Do things the smarter way, not the harder way!!!

Kevin Green (MySOdotcom): “There is real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment.” N. V. Peale #RockTheReTweet

 

BergstromBlogsUpdates:

New post “Alex Rodriguez on Rounders – A Parody” at http://bergstromblogsonbaseball.wordpress.com

 

 

Posted by: Richard Bergstrom | August 28, 2011

What Is In A Name?

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So, my name is Richard William Houlder Bergstrom Jr. It sure is a mouthful to say, and there’s a permanent memory of the length etched into three lines of the graduation plaque of my high school. Just like many people, I imagine, there are certain parts of your name that you like, that you don’t like, parts that get ignored and others that you just plain don’t understand.

For example, William. Nice, common name symbolizing strength and fortitude. Pretty much anyone can spell it. There are a lot of famous Williams in the history of the world from William the Conqueror to William Shatner. There’s even a Baldwin, a prince and to complete the game, an actor famous for playing Doctor Who. To me, however, William has always been an addendum, an afterthought, an acknowledgement of a mysterious grandfather who died before I was born, was a spy in World War II and passed away under suspicious circumstances to be buried under several different serial numbers.

The Bergstrom part is interesting. It reminds me I’m Norweigan, though people also think it’s Swedish. It means “mountain stream” and I was especially fond of that fact in my more hippie-ish days since it made me even more earthy and as a Gemini, I think water’s cool. Turns out there are a lot of Bergstroms out there, including a surgeon general and an Air Force Base though I’m pretty sure they aren’t related (neither to me, nor each other).

Huolder’s the confusing one. I went through about twenty years of my life thinking it was spelled Houlder. After all, who has a middle name of Holder? Surely it had to be something more exotic, more quirky, just downright plain unusual than Holder, right? Then I thought someone told me it was in fact a plain Holder, so thus I thought it was Holder for a decade. Then imagine my chagrin when I learned my true family name isn’t Bergstrom but is actually Houlder. Yep. Turns out Bergstrom is (or was?) a town in Norway (or Sweden?) and as the Houlders (Holders?) immigrated over to the great US of A, we took our town name as our last name. Guess that’s why there are more Bergstroms than Houlders since other families from our town took up that tradition.

Of course, I’m also a junior. That was kind of hard to grow up with, signfiying all the responsibility (but in hindsight, privilege) that a first born comes into this world with. Now, as a kid and probably like a lot of kids, I didn’t get along with my dad. Our idea of family time was to watch television together and any appeals for a bit of money or bit of attention had to wait until a commercial. There’s a legend in the family (which turned out to be somewhat untrue) that my father was late to my delivery because he was watching the John Belushi Star Trek skit on Saturday Night Live. Compounding the frustration was that I played a ton of sports and was a pretty thin member of a relatively unthin family, which made it even harder to see how I was “like” my father. Then there were the family gatherings with uncles and aunts where calls for “Richard” were met by my “ut oh, what did I do now?” shiver-of-fear-at-my-full-name-being-used-to-scold-me only to receive a “I meant your father” in response.

So, as a kid, I wanted to be “Ricky”. Everyone said I looked like Ricky Schroeder and Rick just sounded too short and boring and terse and tense for a little kid. Then when I went to my second new high school, I lived in the dorms and “Ricky” sounded too childish and led to too many “Oh Ricky you’re so fine” jibes which flashed me back to the days of building forts and fighting with tin-foil wrapped swords and putting colored inserts in my Converse shoes which were “so 80’s”.  So, I matured into a more adult, cool, collected “Rick”. I stayed as Rick for a long, very long time… through college, the move to Colorado, then to Oregon, the birth of my daughter and even past the breakup with my ex-fiancee. I moved back to Colorado since there were no jobs in Oregon even for someone of my supposed skills and intellect and I just couldn’t afford to be a hippie anymore. I started working more-than-fulltime, designing reports and running them at night and on the weekends. I’d be working night shifts and odd split shifts and though I still had the long hair and mountainman scruffy beard of a hippie, I became “Richard”. I could blame the Human Resources department for that, for setting up my email as richardbergstrom@here.there instead of rickbergstrom@here.there, but basically, people knew me by my email address more than by my name. “Who’s Rick? Oh, you mean Richard…” started causing more confusion than it was worth. I became “I go by Richard, but my friends call me Rick.” until I realized I was working so much that I had no friends outside of work and they all knew me as Richard anyway. Hardly on the scale of “My Name is Marguerite” by Maya Angelou, but there gets to be a point that what a person prefers gives way to necessity as one ages. Besides, it took too much damn effort to keep straight.

So these days, I go to visit my father in Oregon. We are both older now, of course, but he is much much older now. He has a PhD and a few Masters Degrees to provide proof on paper that he didn’t spend the years idly. He’s an educated man, about the world and about our family. He passed on to me the stories about how his father was a personal friend of Ronald Reagan’s when he was governor and that my grandfather took photos used in the Nazi war crime trials. I can’t find a shred of information on the internet about Will Bergstrom, but I believe him. He also told me of our heritage and our family name, similarly incomplete as the “telephone game” can get through the years. His memory is still very sharp, even after a few strokes which have left him partially paralyzed. We also have the same laugh and our pear-shaped bellies jiggle in the same way. He does cry more times in one day than he had in the thirty-some-odd previous years I had seen him and that does worry me. We both smoke cigarettes too. About two years ago, though he had been smoking since he was 15, he quit cold turkey for ten months because his doctor said it would lead to another stroke. He ended up having more strokes anyway so he started back up again. It’s just one of the small comforts he wants, and I can even say, has earned after working so hard all his life for ungrateful brats like myself. We both make a decent bit of money, more than a lot of people, and never enough. We both work hard, and we get selfish about our “relaxing time”. And now I too go by “Richard” and wonder if I will… if I should… if I would want to mature and age like he did. If I do, I hope I can still laugh like he can.

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