Michiana Chronicles: The Magic Is The Muse

Jul 5, 2019

“I couldn’t sleep,” Judy told me one morning last week. “I think it’s because I saw a headline that says insomnia can kill you.”

Wow. Pretty good. Put that on the Spirit of the Age brand t-shirts. The joke’s on us. Funny. Really funny.

(Maybe you just gave up trying to go back to sleep)  Again, she said,  “I couldn’t sleep because I saw a headline that says insomnia can kill you.”

If I live to be 100, it will be because I’m married to the funniest person I’ve ever met. By funny, I mean absurd, and by absurd I mean honest. To be honest, by what other form can you possibly explain our brief presence here in this universe, other than absurd, which is funny, when we aren’t afraid to admit it. Judy is not afraid to admit it. She’s in on the joke. I’m in on Judy being in on the joke. That seems like a good reason to hang out.

She says, “You know I’m not profound,” which is what a profound person would say, and I say, “Okay, sure.

“You think we oughta get married?”

The week we met I asked her “What time is it?” and she said, without affect or deliberation, “When?”

Forty-four years later, I’m still writing down things she says.

If I say something funny it’s because I stood by the speakers at a Bo Deans show at the State Theatre once and I don’t hear so well. 

She says, “He’s in Oregon.”

And I say, “He in the army? He’s gotta be in his 70s.”


She says, “I couldn’t sleep. I think it’s because I saw a headline that says insomnia can kill you.”

Every time I start one of these Michiana Chronicles she asks me if she’s in it. She’s kidding, but she’s not. And so am I.

You’re in everything I do, dear, but, no, not this time.

When green catsup hit the shelves at Martin’s a few years ago, Judy scooped up the only one they ever sold, and then posited to the universal What Makes a Meatloaf a Meatloaf? argument  by spicing a pound of ground round, that she had shaped into the form of a fish, green, for fun, in order to see how I would react when, on an ordinary Tuesday evening, I see it come out of the oven.  A green-tinted, fish-shaped, meatloaf with an onion for an eye.  Do I want to eat that? Why might I not? Deep stuff.

Credit Sid Shroyer

Beneath a magnet on the refrigerator, next to a picture of her with Matt and Lily there’s a note she wrote that says, “We have to keep being nice to them so that they will continue to come home … and explain the world to us.”

Things like The Matrix and bitcoin, she means. We nod at them when they do explain because they care enough to try.

We like to drive. This summer we’re going to stop in Minneapolis to see Matt and wife Shannon on our way through the Badlands to Denver to see brother Stan and wife Cindy, singer Jason and wife Amanda, and the baseball Rockies and their date with the Mets, before we head on out for Wyoming or Idaho or Montana, or wherever a road takes us. Yippi i oh ki ay. Yippee, I am okay.

I’ve got a short story hidden away on a computer file somewhere that’s based on the time we drove for three or four hours in an endless dusk from Durango, Colorado through Mesa Verde and Cortez, to Gallup, New Mexico. How’s that story go?

Let’s go this way and see what we see,” and for 90 miles from Shiprock to Gallup they see one other automobile and, headlights like a flashbulb, the eyes of a cow or a horse or a           donkey that pop out of nowhere inches from the blacktop, scare them silly, and disappear. To      be alone and then to have company in the world is startling. And then fun.

Once, on a late Saturday morning after I got home from work we hopped into the car and drove north 400 miles for seven hours to Sault Ste. Marie, looked at the locks for about 30 seconds, and then looked at each other, got back in the car and drove home.

If you are young and you are lucky you will find out, too, that all of time turns out to be no time at all. When is now.

I wrote a poem about us once, that for the life of me, and naturally, I can’t find, something about two specks of cosmic dust floating in the same direction, what are the odds, through the ice cold universe to some inevitable demise. Giggling, winking.     

Last week Judy said she couldn’t sleep because she saw a headline that said insomnia can kill you.

Music: "Do You Believe in Magic?" by the Lovin' Spoonful