RECKONING REALITY TIMES THREE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Reckoning

In a quantum physics sci-fi universe, a three-way choice creates three parallel realities or worlds. One is the current universe where the “me” I am today lives. This is my known reality.

At one point in my life — when I was 18 — a three-way choice presented itself. I picked this path, but as a result, two parallel universes exist based on the choices I didn’t make.

I wonder what became of the other two-of-myself?

Our road is full of side trips and detours. We reckon the odds and make choices. It isn’t the more or less traveled path. All paths have many footprints. We go where we think we need to go or for sentimental or mental reasons. More often, we reckon the best path is the one which will take us most effectively where we want to go, at least as far as we have figured out where we want to go.

Most of us reckon we can change our mind later. Which is true. We can change our mind … but because we are in a different place and time when we decide to change courses, it’s yet another course leaving another two worlds in parallel to the one we know.

At 16, I started college and was required to choose a major. Clueless, I chose music because I liked playing the piano. I thought maybe I should pick something practical too. In an elegant compromise, I became a music major with a comparative religion minor.

Religion, the practical career alternative.

Except, I was really majoring in hanging out at the college radio station. Music was okay, but I wasn’t sufficiently dedicated — or talented — to make it my career. Religion was the intellectually “fun” choice. I knew I was going to be a writer. The radio station gave me an opportunity to write and eventually led to real writing work.

Not to mention I met two out of three husbands to be at that radio station.

Dodging and weaving through the first two years of school, there came an unavoidable day of reckoning. Even a dedicated procrastinator ultimately gets gored by the horns of a dilemma. The summer between my junior and senior year, I wound up at a three-way crossroads.

My old boyfriend — with whom I couldn’t have a civil conversation, but with whom I had exceptional sex — sent me a train ticket to join him at his summer stock theater on Cape May. A sexy summer by the sea was an attractive offer. Not a career maker, but it had perks. Meanwhile, back at the radio station, the guy I’d been dating asked me to marry him.

I liked him. Smart. Educated. Employed. Good-looking in a waspy way. I could do worse.

And then there was Boston. Almost on a whim, I’d applied to Boston University’s Communications program. In 1965, Boston was as cool a town as a kid could want, short of San Francisco. Joan Baez sang at Harvard Square and the comedy clubs featured men who would become the future kings of late night television.

Against all odds, Boston accepted me into the program. Nothing could have surprised me more.

I had a lot of deciding to do.

I married Jeff who was (coincidentally) Garry’s best friend. Four years later, there was my son, Owen Garry, because Garry is not only Owen’s step-father but also his godfather.

Don’t over-think it.

The old boyfriend refused to stay gone. Like the proverbial bad penny, he would keep turning up for 15 more years. He would follow me to Israel when I dumped everything and emigrated there in 1978. Another story for another day.

Marrying Jeff gave me a son, a career, a chance to finish my B.A. and find my feet in a reasonably secure environment. I made friends, got a career going and figured out what I wanted to do.

But there are two other universes from that first triadic choice. In one world, I went to Boston and probably stayed there. Oddly enough, that’s where I wound up eventually anyway. Worlds within worlds.

In the other, I went to Cape May — and I have no idea where that would have gone.

If I should, by chance, encounter either of these other versions of me, I’d love to know what happened.

I bet all of us married Garry. Destiny is unavoidable.

WHAT WORLD IS THIS? – Marilyn Armstrong

When I was first married we lived in an apartment on the second floor of a building that was one of two identical brick buildings. We lived in apartment 2Q, at the far end of the hallway … a corner apartment which had better ventilation than apartments in the middle.

I didn’t drive yet.

One day, having taken the bus home from shopping, I went in through the front and proceeded all the way down the hall to our apartment. As I started to put my key in the door, I realized that there was a nameplate on the door. It said “2Q, Kincaid.”

Not my name. Right apartment, but not mine. Hmm.

I took a deep breath, walked back to the elevator then went back to the apartment. It still said “Kincaid.”

I immediately realized what had happened. I had slipped through into a parallel universe, another dimension. I didn’t exist. I’d been replaced by someone named Kincaid. It took me a while,  standing there and staring at the door before it occurred to me that I was in the wrong building. It was a simple enough mistake: the two building were identical and I just hadn’t been paying attention.

What’s interesting is not that I went into the wrong building but that I immediately assumed I’d slipped into my own personal Twilight Zone. That building today is student housing now, but it was a private rental building back then.

Would most people, finding themselves in such a situation jump to the conclusion that they’d slipped into a parallel universe? Or would think they had maybe walked into the wrong building?

What would YOU think?

I sometimes wonder if a lot of my ability to get through a variety of bizarre and scary situations was because I didn’t relate to life as real but rather as if life — MY life — was a long book in which I was the main character. It was the narrator’s fault.

From when I was perhaps 4 or 5 years old until a few years ago, I lived life in the third person. I had a narrator. She sat on my shoulder and told my story. She added “he said” and “she said” and provided full descriptions of people, places, and events as they were happening. She flushed out experiences by providing context and commentary. She’d always been there, or at least as far as I could remember so it seemed normal to me, though distracting.

This was nothing like “hearing voices.” The narrator was not independent. She WAS me. She didn’t talk to me but about me. She wrote me. She was a mini-me, perched on my shoulder, always watching, then instantly translating everything into a third person narrative. I was detached but watchful. I saw everything and remembered everything, especially what everyone said and exactly how they said it. I was almost never fully engaged, but I was an excellent witness.

Does — or did — everyone have a narrator at least sometimes, or it was only me? I’ve always wondered if it was something to do with being a writer.

A few years ago, I realized my narrator was gone. Did she slip away a little at a time or suddenly depart without so much as a note of farewell? I wonder why she left. For that matter, I wonder why she was there in the first place. These days, she is gone as inexplicably as she arrived.

By the time I sat down and wrote a novel, she had been gone a while, though that was when I noticed her absence. Without a narrator to tell my life story, I find I am more surprised by experiences and have lost the ability to detach.

I’m real. Not the main character in an endless saga, merely another confused soul on the road from somewhere to some other place.

WHEN I THINK OF PARALLEL – Marilyn Armstrong

PARALLEL – The Daily Post


My mind rarely goes blank unless I’m looking for a word that has gone missing. But this time, literally — there’s nothing there.

We’ve done a bunch of similar words and I think I’m lost between synchronicity, clues, cabals, and collusion. Are these parallels? Of what are they parallels? What am I missing.

Right now, I’m missing something. I don’t know what it might be, but it is definitely leaving a hole where the rain gets in – and kept my mind from wandering. (That’s a line in a Beatles song, in case you missed it).

I look outside and it’s raining. Again. Cold. Raining. I get cranky (that was another word … from last week I believe) and irritable.

I would be glad for a parallel universe, though. A nice clean version of this universe, but without the sludge and the pollution and the murder. If parallels are “on offer,” sign me up for the “other” one. This one isn’t making me happy.

THE EIGHTH GAME – THE 2016 WORLD SERIES ON A PARALLEL EARTH

FOR FANS OF AMERICA’S PASTIME:

It’s the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series. The pitchers on both teams are done in. No rest for the weary because the game is tied. Exactly as the inning ends, it starts to rain. Heavy downpour. Buckets and sheets of rain.

world-series-2016The deciders call a rain delay — and everyone holds their breath.

I’m actually watching this in real time as two underdog teams play one of the best games I’ve ever seen, in or out of the World Series. Everything has happened, pretty much.

The rain delay is supposed to be ended in 8 minutes and I have every confidence this is exactly what will happen. It’s the Cubs and Cleveland in the ultimate duel to the death. They said John Lester was crying coming out of the dugout as the rain delay was ending.


But in another reality — a parallel universe the same as ours, but — not exactly. Because in that universe, the rain doesn’t end. They can’t restart the game, thus leaving it tied at 6-6 … and neither team has it in them to play another game. Maybe they can play some more the following day. Call it extra inning or innings following a 24-hour rain delay. How does that work out?

And what if, in yet another dimension, a tornado struck. Destroyed the stadium. Both teams barely escape with their lives. They can’t restart the game … so … they put it into the books as a tie. With an asterisk. They give two sets of World Series rings and each team gets a trophy. There’s a first time for everything, right?

Somewhere else, a darker ending. The powers-that-be deny both teams a win and instead, schedule a runoff game as soon as they can. Both teams blame dark curses and malign fate.

What do you think happens in that alternate Earth. Which team — either, neither or both — wins the World Series?

cubs-win

This is earth. Our earth. On this world and in this dimension, the Cubs have won the World Series for the first time after a 108-year drought.

Congratulations Chicago! As Red Sox fans, we know how it feels … and isn’t it fine?

WORMHOLES, SOCKS, AND TUPPERWARE – ELLIN CURLEY

Who doesn’t wonder where the other sock from the pair went when it disappeared from the dryer? Don’t you wonder where they’ve gone? It seems to me that with every load of laundry, a pair of socks goes in, but only one comes out.

Does the dryer eat them?

I have bags of lonely, single socks in the back of my closet, all yearning for the day when their long-lost mates will reappear.

My husband theorizes that missing socks go to a parallel universe in which people find extra socks. Two socks go in to their dryer, but three come out.

buddySystemSocks

I like to think somewhere in that universe live the mates to my lonely socks. Somewhere in the great galaxy, they patiently wait for destiny to reunite them with their mates. It’s kind of romantic. Depending on how you feel about socks.

I asked my husband if this theory also explains the Tupperware problem. I have many orphaned lids with no bottoms that fit. Yet I also have plenty of bottoms for which I can find no matching tops. Is my missing Tupperware in the same parallel universe as the socks?

My husband looked at me as if I were crazy. Impossible, right? Because the dryer is the wormhole to that other universe and I swear I’ve never put my Tupperware in the dryer. But maybe the dishwasher is a secondary wormhole. You can never be sure about wormholes. They can appear anywhere, anytime.

missing tupperware universe

The good news? Wormholes can reverse themselves — at least, according to my husband (but I’m not sure who else). Thus it’s possible one day we will begin to find spare socks in the dryer … and superfluous Tupperware pieces in the cabinets.

I’m going to hang onto my bags and boxes of single socks and mismatched Tupperware. I advise you to do the same. If we run out of space to store all this stuff, we’ll simply have to find a way to move to a parallel universe where there’s more storage space.

ZONING OUT

Once upon a time, I lived in apartment 2Q on the second floor. It was one of two identical buildings. My flat was at the end of a long hallway. One day, I walked down the corridor to our apartment. As I started to put my key in the door, I realized the nameplate on the door said “2Q, Kincaid.”

My name has never been Kincaid, but this was the right apartment — 2Q. Apparently I didn’t live there anymore. I took a deep breath, walked back to the elevator. Counted to ten, then went back to the flat. It still said “Kincaid.”

I knew instantly what had happened. I had slipped through into a parallel universe, was in another dimension. I no longer existed. I’d been replaced by someone named Kincaid.

Of course, I was merely in the wrong building … but before I realized it, I had scared myself half to death.

THREE TIMES REALITY

In a science fiction universe, a three-way choice creates three parallel realities. One is the what I really chose — this reality in which I live. But two parallel universes exist based on the choices I didn’t make. I can’t help but wonder what became of the other two-of-me.

Our road is full of side trips and detours. We make choices, but rarely between a less or more traveled road. It’s more often picking the path which will take us where we want to go. And there’s a small matter of figuring out where we want to go.

75NK-Train-15

At 16, I started college and was required to choose a major. Clueless, I chose music because I loved playing the piano. I thought maybe I should pick something more practical too. In an elegant compromise, I became a music major with a comparative religion minor. Religion, the practical career alternative.

Except, I was really majoring in hanging out at the college radio station. Music was okay, but I wasn’t sufficiently dedicated — or talented — to make it my career. Religion was a dead-end. I already knew I was going to be a writer. Hanging out at the radio station gave me a chance to write and led to real writing jobs. Not to mention I met two out of three husbands to be. Not bad. None of my other courses were that productive.

Dodging and weaving through the first two years of school, there came an unavoidable day of reckoning. Even a dedicated procrastinator ultimately gets gored by the horns of a dilemma. The summer between my junior and senior year, I wound up at a three-way crossroads.

My old boyfriend — with whom I couldn’t have a civil conversation, but with whom I had exceptional sex — sent me a train ticket to join him at his summer stock theater on Cape May. A sexy summer by the sea was an attractive offer. Not a career maker, but it had perks, especially at 18. Meanwhile, back at the radio station, the guy I’d been dating asked me to marry him. I liked him. Smart. Educated. Employed. Good-looking in a waspy way. I could do worse.

96-BeachAtDawn-NK

And then there was Boston. Almost on a whim, I’d applied to Boston University’s Communications program. In 1965, Boston was as cool a town as a kid could want, short of San Francisco. Joan Baez sang at Harvard Square and the comedy clubs featured future kings of late night. Against all odds, Boston accepted me into the program. Nothing could have surprised me more.

I had a lot of deciding to do.

I married Jeff. Garry’s best friend. Four years later, there was my son, Owen Garry, because Garry is not only Owen’s step-father but also his godfather. Don’t over-think it.

The old boyfriend refused to stay gone. Like the proverbial bad penny, he would keep turning up for 15 more years. He would follow me to Israel when I dumped everything and emigrated there in 1978. Another story for another day.

Marrying Jeff gave me a son, a career, a chance to finish my B.A. and find my feet in a reasonably secure environment. I made friends, got a career going and figured out what I wanted to do. Not too shabby.

But somewhere there are two other universes. In one, Marilyn went to Boston. In the other, she went to Cape May. If I happen to bump into either of them, I’ll have to ask how it went. I bet all of us married Garry. Destiny is unavoidable.

Roads converge. Detours don’t change destiny. They merely delay it.