My Baby’s On the Other Side of the World and Other Stories

1. My Baby’s On the Other Side of the World. It’s not my wife or girlfriend baby. It’s my youngest child. And she really is on the other side of the world, 14 time zones away1 in Siberia. Actually, she’s in what is called “Far East Russia,” but we all say “Siberia” because people give you a blank look if you say “Far East Russia.”

How did she get there? The Rotary Youth Exchange program.

Why did she go? She took some Post Secondary classes in Russian and fell in love with the language. She wants to major in Russian Translation. Why Russian? She has a gift for languages. And she saw a Russian copy of one of my books and thought it would be neat to be able to read it. So on a whim, she took a class that turned into several classes and is now the direction she wants her life to go in. So now my baby is on the other side of the world, and I’m responsible.

And if I hadn’t raised her to want to go, and If I hadn’t been willing to let her go, I’d have been a rotten father.

It’s been an ordeal getting her prepped and away. And now, in the space of six short months, my wife and I have become empty nesters (my adult son took a job promotion and moved from Ohio to Saint Paul in February of this year). We’re still adjusting.

So if you’ve sent me an e-mail in the last six-to-eight weeks and haven’t gotten an answer yet, that’s the reason. Our lives were uprooted trying to get everything in order. But now things are calming down, and I’m making my way slowly through the list of unanswered emails. Hang in there.

2. He Had a Voice Like an Angel and He Could Have Been a Star. No, his name wasn’t Johnny. It was Clifford. That’s where my middle name came from. He was my uncle and he passed away over the weekend. Now both of my namesake relatives (I was also named after his oldest sister, Jo) are gone.

Clifford had a boxer’s nose, the result of early and primitive surgery during childhood to correct a deviated septum; it turns out to be a genetic trait that I also have. I’ve opted to keep mine as a souvenir.

In spite of the compromised sinuses, Clifford had a beautiful singing voice. But he had more than that. He had an exquisite sense of phrasing and timing. He didn’t sing songs, he acted them out, played them, became the narrator. Most singers have to learn it. He did it naturally.

Once upon a time, some men heard Clifford sing and approached him with a deal. “We know people,” they said. “We have record company connections and concert hall owners and promoters. We can make you rich and famous. All you have to do is tell people that you’re one of us.”

They were from the Communist Party.

Clifford told them to take a hike.

So you’ve never heard of Clifford Faust, the pop singer who was famous throughout the 50’s and 60’s, and had a variety show like everyone else in the early ’70’s. That’s because he went to war instead, as a radio operator in a plane that dropped bombs over Italy. His plane was shot down so many times they called him and his colleagues The Hard Luck Crew. On one trip back his oxygen was shot out and he had to be revived on returning to base.

Instead of being a star, he carried the invisible scars of his service to his country throughout the rest of his life.

And I should have written this while he was still able to appreciate it.

3. Everything Must Go. I’ve about got Version 8.0 of this web site finished. When it is, I’m going to do something that I should have done long ago. I’m going to have my host company wipe out everything currently on my server space before posting it. After 9 1/2 years of this site, there’s an awful lot of clutter out there. So I’m cleaning out the cellar and starting all over again, fresh.

A lot of stuff isn’t going to come back, including the archives of the writing blog. I’ve seen the stats, and all it is doing is wasting server space – it’s not even wasting bandwidth.

I have it all backed up, and I have a couple of ideas of what to do with the material, including nothing. A few highlights will be recycled into v 8.0, but for the most part everything must go. If you want to make a stab at reading my literary mind, do so now while the stuff is still up.

4. HappyBlogiverary to Me – This and $3.10 Will Get Me a Grande Skim Latte at Starbucks. Still recovering from sending my baby to the other side of the world, I missed the actual anniversary date. I started on September 6, 2002. This is my fifth year of blogging. A lot has changed. There’s been a bust in the blog audience all over the net. I’m not the same me I was five years ago. Funny how much can change. Wonder if I’ll even be around in another five years. Maybe nobody will.

Ah, such morose thoughts. You’d think I was Russian or something.

There’s lots I have to be cheerful about. I’m just out of writing time right now.


  1. Okay, technically I suppose she’s only 10 time zones away if you go west. But there are only two portal cities into Russia, and she had to travel east through Moscow, which means instead of going the short way, she had to go 2/3 of the way around the world to get to her destination – through 14 time zones.

One response to “My Baby’s On the Other Side of the World and Other Stories

  1. one starving musician came by to say: Clifford sounds like an all right guy. I liked that story.j.e.

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