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PUT AWAY YOUR TOYS: Sunday brought perfect weather for hot-air ballooning over the Old Mendon Highway -- but when it's over, you still have to pack up. / Photo by Nancy Williams

Today's word on journalism

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Paranoia means having all the facts."

--William S. Burroughs, Beat Generation writer (1914-1997)

Come Sunday morning I found peace up on the roof

By D.A.

September 21, 2006 | The patchwork terrain came closer with each second. The passing air made it difficult to breathe as I dropped through the clouds. I clawed at nothingness with frantic urgency as I tried to keep my body upright. My eyes shot open to witness my wrist fold under the weight of my body. "Shit," I grunted as I pulled myself back up over the edge of the bed. My vision blurred slightly with each painful heartbeat. I filled my lungs to capacity and let the air escape slowly.

I could hear I Know that My Redeemer Lives screaming from every speaker in the house. A local radio station, usually reserved for Top 40 music, played a program each week called "The Sounds of Sunday." There were speakers in every room of the house, save only the bathrooms and bedrooms. Although it didn't matter much since the volume was more than enough to penetrate into those rooms as well. The calming piano tones echoed from wall to wall and burrowed deep inside my brain.

The smell of freshly glazed orange rolls was the only force tempting me to abandon my sheets. The alarm clock flashed 12:00, but from the sun pouring in my window I knew it to be about 8 hours slow. The clock on the adjacent wall had no batteries. Both the hour and minute hands were deliberately placed on the 4. My tired eyes vetoed my stomach's petition; there were stronger forces at work here. I rolled over and grabbed a Starburst from the nightstand before making a pillow sandwich of my head.

I had no choice but to tolerate my family's racket until 9 a.m., at which point they would file into the Suburban and speed down the gravel driveway to church. With just under 30 minutes remaining the two youngest of the family, Dani and Derek, bypassed the childproof doorknob to gleefully make a trampoline of my mattress. Inevitably they lost balance; simultaneously making a mattress of my spinal cord. They had my attention.

I withdrew my head from the pillows and my blood-red eyes were inches from a set of smaller blue ones. "Good morning Dan," I said, knowing exactly what my sister's response would be.

"I'm not Dan!" she replied. I always preferred her middle name, Alise. She was 3, her older brother 5. The typical inquiry came as expected and prefaced with an inquisitive "Um ... Dev?" My parents would never be so bold as to climb the stairs to request I trade my blanket and pillow for a white shirt and tie. Instead they would instruct their youngest children to do this job for them.

"Are you going to church?" Derek asked.

"No, sleep," I yawned back as I stretched. Seeming satisfied with my response, my brother and sister retreated back downstairs to report my decision. Now that my bedroom door was wide open, there was no blocking out the noise. My father's voice would loudly announce the time remaining until their departure; 15 minutes, then 10, then five. The Anderson family minus one backed out of the garage, making certain not to hit any dogs, cats, chickens, geese or any of the other common driveway obstacles, moving and stationary.

Silence. Too quiet to sleep. I reached under the bed feeling around for my guitar case. Blood rushed to my head as I pulled the case closer and popped open the latches. Inside I located a small glass pipe and a bag of pot, headed for the window and crawled onto the roof. I found a familiar spot on the shingles and relaxed on the incline. Cracking open the Ziploc I retrieved the most colorful narcotic nugget I could see. I knew I had three wholesome hours until my family would return. I loaded a healthy sized bowl and took a deep hit from the pipe as if it were an asthma inhaler. The local buds weren't the best quality, but the reasonable price more than made up for the lower potency. As I let out my first hit the high began to creep in on me immediately. My mind drifted to my family, by now they were in the Lord's house. I felt guilty ... sort of. It was a perfectly beautiful and serene morning.

I would relax here and watch cars go by for another hour or so before heading back inside to eat cold orange rolls. After all, I am a man of morals, and I toileth not on the Sabbath.


Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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