Thursday, September 03, 2009
4pm Saturday Afternoon.
The rest of the day went smoothly. Skuld was holed up in her room whimpering like a lost puppy and clutching her stomach. It took three doses of Urd's medicine before the little goddess was feeling somewhat better. Keiichi finished the rest of the maintenance on the bike and settled down in his room to grab a nap before dinner. Urd took advantage of Skuld's upset stomach to monopolize the television, and was soon absorbed in a Ninja Slasher TV marathon. Belldandy stayed busy by preparing lunch, and doing the laundry. She had just finished hanging sheets out on the clothesline when the phone rang.
Bell was the closest to the phone. “Hello, Morisato Residence?”
An unmistakeably majestic voice came through the speaker. One that Belldandy was quite familiar with. “Belldandy.”
“Yes, Kami-sama” she responded with a slight catch in her voice. Even while Urd was totally into the Ninja Slasher show, her goddess hearing picked up the mention of the Almighty's name. Quietly she padded out of her room and joined Bell at the phone.
Kami-sama continued “Belldandy, It has been decided that it is time for you to resume your duties at the Goddess Assistance Agency. Your contract with the man named Keiichi Morisato will be voided without penalty. You must prepare to return to Heaven immediately.”
“Why Kami-sama? Is my performance inadequate? I have not yet fulfilled my contract with Keiichi. I cannot leave him now.” Belldandy said sadly, tears forming in her eyes. She looked at Urd as if searching for her next response. .
“I understand that you have grown quite fond of Keiichi Morisato. He is a unique person, one with many traits that make him stand out from the rest of humanity. But remember Belldandy. You are a goddess. Your first duty is to me and Yggdrasil. You are needed in Heaven. No amount of time spent on Earth can alter this fact.” Kami-sama spoke, a tinge of irritation entering his tone. “So now. Prepare to return to heaven.”
Sadly, Belldandy paused and looked down at her left hand.
It was not the fanciest ring, really. Just a simple gold band with a small solitary diamond. It was the ring Keiichi gave her on their first anniversary of living together. It took him five days of working back-breaking part-time jobs to save up the money to buy her that ring. And it wasn't even the ring he wanted to get her. The one he wanted cost 30,000 yen more, but he forgot to figure in the sales tax. She remembered the nights that Keiichi would come home late dead tired from working his butt off. She had always wondered what he was doing and why he was toiling so hard. But she had implicit trust in him, that whatever he was doing was for the best. So she never questioned him. When he finally presented that ring to her, she scolded him about working so hard on her behalf. But her heart was filled with so much love and joy that he would buy this for her and her alone. She treasured that ring, and never took it off.
Keiichi had always had a hard time telling Belldandy how much he loved her. He always got tongue tied, and the words never came out, or if they did, they didn't come out right, or something or someone got in the way. But this ring, this simple ring said what Keiichi could not. It was at this point that she had made up her mind about what she was going to do. If Keiichi could put so much sweat and toil into showing her what he thought of her, it was time to return that affection in kind. She weighed the costs of both sides of the decision. No doubt what she was about to do was going to land her in big trouble. But when it came down to her and Keiichi, she swore to protect him at all costs and to stay by his side, and she would do so even without Heavenly sanction. And to a Goddess First Class, her word was her bond.
“Kami-sama” Bell said, her resolve rising. “With all due respect, I will not leave Keiichi. I will not return to heaven.”
Steel was in her voice. Urd gasped. Never had she seen Belldandy refuse an order from heaven. Bell was always known as the goddess' goddess. She earned the highest marks in her training. She flew the fastest broom in Heaven. She had the finest singing voice of all the goddesses. She showed evidence of great power long before those her age. The entire company of goddesses attended her commissioning ceremony, as a testimony of how loved and respected she was amongst her peers. Something that rarely happened in heaven. While Urd feared for Belldandy's career as a goddess, she was silently congratulating her for standing up for her principles, as well as a little intrigued to see what Kami-sama would do next.
Kami-sama remained calm, although his voice betrayed that he was not used to hearing back-talk from a goddess, and that this uprising had to be nipped in the bud. “Belldandy, I am sure you understand the penalty for disobeying an official order from Heaven. Your license could be suspended for up to 100 years heaven time. That is 500 years earth time. This would be a very large black mark on an otherwise stellar career. “However, because you are such a valued goddess, I will give you one more chance to comply without penalty. Your contract with Keiichi Morisato is hereby rescinded. You are no longer required to remain by his side. You will now prepare to return to Heaven. If you comply, no more will be said of this. Your record will remain clear. But if you refuse to comply, the penalty stated will be implemented, and you will be returned to Heaven by force if necessary. Consider well your decision, Belldandy.”
Belldandy needed no time to make her decision. She spoke with the utmost clarity and reason, with no sign of nervousness or intimidation. “Kami-sama. I love being a goddess. I love spreading happiness and joy to all I meet. And under any other circumstance with any other person with whom I would be contracted, I would comply without hesitation. But I love Keiichi as much, if not more, than my calling as a goddess.
“I swore to him that I would protect him and stay by his side forever. And my word is my bond. I am a better goddess for having lived with him. He has taught me so much about life as a human. I would rather lose my license, my career, and even my life rather than break my oath and bond to him. Because my love for him and my obligation to him reaches beyond the words of a contract. It is embedded deep in my heart and written indelibly on my soul, and it cannot be erased or rescinded. If you wish to suspend or revoke my license, do it. If you send other goddesses to escort me to heaven under guard, I will resist them and if necessary, will fight them. There is nothing you can say or do that will cause me to leave Keiichi. I love him with all my heart, and will give everything for him. So Kami-sama. The answer is no. I will not return to heaven.”
Silence. Urd and Belldandy looked at each other. Looking into Bell's eyes, Urd could see that she was not kidding, nor was she calling Kami-sama's bluff. She was dead serious. The only other time that she had seen Belldandy with that look in her eye was during the incident with the Lord of Terror, after the Midgard serpents bit Keiichi while infected with the Lord of Terror program and transferred the virus to him. Bell had removed her power seal to battle the Lord of Terror. At that time, Bell had access to her full range of power. Enough to destroy the Earth. She was willing to give her all back then for Keiichi. Just as she is willing to do so now. Belldandy was displaying a backbone of steel, and Urd had gained tremendous respect for her younger sister.
“Well, Belldandy, what do you think? You're playing a very dangerous game here. I hope you're prepared to face the consequences.”
“Urd, I have never been more serious in my life. This is no game. I am fully prepared to lose my license, and my life if necessary to protect Keiichi and to stay with him. One thing that has happened since I've lived here with Keiichi is that I have learned a lot about myself.
“ Much of what I've learned showed me that despite my being a goddess aligned with the light, I have a dark side, also. I have become extremely protective of Keiichi and I am also a very jealous and possessive woman. I am not proud of it, but it is what it is. When I see other girls and goddesses flirting with Keiichi, even you Urd, I get so full of rage and anger. I try to hold it back, but sometimes it just gets so hard to restrain that I can no longer contain myself. Then it comes forth as a jealousy storm that causes much destruction. I want Keiichi all to myself and I can't countenance any other woman being with him.
“ But I have to be the good goddess that puts on the happy face. I have to preserve my reputation of being pleasant and positive and loving. I love what I do, Urd. I love you, and Skuld as only sisters can love each other. I love all the friends I've made on this Earth. Megumi, Chihiro, Tamiya, Ootaki, Sora, I even love people like Sayoko and Aoshima. It is in my makeup to love. But there is one whom I love most of all and that is Keiichi Morisato. And I am willing to give all this up to be with him forever.
Urd sighed and took Belldandy's hands. “I've gained a whole new level of respect for you Belldandy. I didn't think you had it in you to be the little rebel. I like it. And whatever happens I'll support you.”
Kami-sama came back on the line. “ Belldandy, you have put me and the Heavenly Council in a difficult position. I wanted to revoke your license permanently. But the Council thinks that you're too important a goddess to lose. So they have taken the unusual step of having you appear before them in a hearing to determine what should be done with you. I will defer to the Council in this matter even though I have the authority to override their recommendation. The hearing will require that you appear in the Council Chambers along with Urd, Skuld, and Keiichi Morisato. You have my word that once you appear in Heaven, you will not be placed in custody nor have your license suspended or revoked until the Council makes their decision. Your goddess privileges and your contract are still in effect for the moment.”
Belldandy considered this for a few moments. “Kami-sama, I accept the council's summons for a hearing. I thank you for coming to this decision. But how will Keiichi be allowed to enter heaven? He's a three dimensional being. He would not be able to function in a ten dimensional world. No human has ever been able to glimpse Heaven much less enter.”
Kami-sama said. “There is a spell that can convert Keiichi Morisato's body into one that can function in our environment. However it is only temporary. It only lasts forty-eight hours. Also, even though this spell exists, it has never been performed before because there was never any need for it. It is a very precise and demanding spell to cast. It requires three First Class Goddesses with Level One Song Proficiency. There are only three First Class Goddesses in Heaven that hold that degree of mastery. You, Belldandy are one. The others are Peorth and Lind. I will be sending those two down to the earth to assist you in casting this spell, as well as escort you back to Heaven. I must warn you that this spell leaves no room for error. The slightest wrong note and at the least, the spell will not work. At worst, Keiichi's body may be destroyed in the transition process. And if he does not accompany you to the hearing, your punishment will be carried out.
“Do not thank me yet, Belldandy. Your future as a goddess is by no means secure. You could still have your license suspended or revoked. Or you could suffer the ultimate penalty for a goddess—being cut off from Yggdrasil completely. That would place you in a state of limbo. Unable to derive power from Yggdrasil, unable to use your abilities and powers. Unable to re-enter Heaven. But also unable to stay on Earth. I appreciate your desire to remain on Earth and live with Keiichi Morisato. He is quite a man for you to oppose me like this. But I cannot allow goddesses to challenge my authority without consequence. The hearing will take place in two Earth days. Prepare yourself, your sisters, and Keiichi Morisato.” Kami-sama rang off the line.
Urd scratched her head, looked confused, and said “Lind and Peorth have Level One Song Proficiency? That's news to me. Then again I had never heard either one of them sing.”
Belldandy responded “Yes, they do. They both have beautiful singing voices, almost as good as mine. Not to brag of course. In order to become a Goddess First Class, one must have at least a Level Three Proficiency. You sing at Level Two. But for some reason, Lind and Peorth have never done much in the way of singing. Being that Lind is a combat specialist, perhaps she doesn't have much use for singing spells. Also, she's a good singer, but she's not very good with non-combat magic. That could be a problem. I'm not sure about Peorth, either. Well, we will get to see both of them in two days.”
Urd then remarked “Well we, or should I say, you, better get our boy Keiichi ready for what's to come. He has no idea what he's in for. However, with all the things he's been through since we've been living with him, he may come through it with flying colors. Or we may have to scrape what's left of him from the courtyard.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
11am Saturday Morning.
Despite Belldandy's late start on preparing breakfast, nobody complained. Most likely because they weren't really sober enough to put two sentences together. Chihiro finally came to, stumbled into the bathroom to wash her face. She then went out into the courtyard and rounded up Tamiya and Ootaki, who were cowering against the wall with Banpei angrily waving his staff at them. She then went over to the Tanuki and convinced Sora that the badger statue totally agreed with her viewpoint and would she please put her top back on. After she got her bedraggled bunch of drunks in one place, she then went back into the kitchen and spoke with Keiichi and the goddesses.
“Keiichi, thanks for letting us have our meeting here. We had a great time, and once again, Belldandy was the perfect hostess.”
Belldandy apologized about the lateness of the breakfast for the third time in ten minutes and then added “I'm glad you enjoyed yourselves. Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun. We must do it again sometime.”
Chihiro responded “I'm sure we will. Hey, I noticed that you and Keiichi weren't hanging out with the rest of us.” With a sly grin, she said “Were you two off k-i-s-s-i-n-g??”
Urd, always game to put Keiichi in hot water, piped up “Oh yeah! They were going at it hot and heavy!!! I'm surprised that Kei is still standing after the night they had.”
Keiichi stammered “H-hey, you're embarrassing Belldandy!! We did spend the night together, but absolutely nothing happened, right, Bell?”
Belldandy thought about playing along with Urd and Chihiro, but decided against it. “No, nothing happened at all. Although I did fall asleep in his arms.”
Chihiro mused “Well, that's a start. We'd take you up on the breakfast offer, but I'm dragging these losers back to the campus and putting them to bed. They don't have classes today. Also we've been in your hair long enough. See ya on Monday, Morisato. ”
Chihiro collected her Motor Club charges and drove them back to campus.
Annoyed, Keiichi grumbled “ At least they could have offered to help clean up this place. It's a mess.”
Looking around, he wasn't wrong. There were ice cream containers, sake and beer bottles all over the Tea Room. Futons were scattered all over the floor. Skuld's karaoke machine was laying on its side, the song, “I Did it My Way” playing continually. The floors were sticky with spilled sake. And the place smelled like a bar.
Belldandy said “Keiichi, let me handle this.” She stood up, waved her arms in a precise flowing gesture and intoned “Spirits of the wind, hear my call and come to my aid. Restore this room to its former beauty!!”
A rushing wind blew through the open window, and picked up all the trash on the floor.
A stray gust stacked all the futons in a neat pile, another swept all the bottles into the trash and righted the karaoke machine.. A third carried away the stench of the sake and beer and left a fresh smell of spring flowers and new mown grass in his place. Thirty seconds later, it was impossible to tell that a full-blown booze-up had occurred just hours before.
Belldandy dropped her arms and said “Now that's much better!”
It was at that time Megumi finally woke up. She roused herself out of the corner she had sat in all night, shook the cobwebs out of her head, wandered over to the table where Kei, Bell, and Urd were eating breakfast, and said groggily “ Morning. I'm not feeling too hot, so I'll pass on breakfast. I'm heading straight home. Thanks for letting me hang out.” She staggered out the door towards the garage where she kept her bike. Belldandy wondered aloud “I hope she'll be all right.”
Keiichi said “She'll be OK, I've seen her in worse shape than that. At least she slept a good bit of it off. She doesn't need a DUI on her record. I'm surprised she passed on breakfast. She never met a meal she didn't like, especially one of Belldandy's.”
Urd got up and headed out of the Tea Room “I better go and find out what our little Skuld has gotten herself into. She was eating ice cream like there was no tomorrow. I might have to make up some medication to treat an upset tummy. Ciao, guys.”
Belldandy and Keiichi sat in the Tea Room eating their breakfast. Bell had prepared a Western style spread consisting of omelets, pancakes, toast with butter, tea, and jam, and fresh fruit. Any ill effects Kei suffered from the beer and sake immediately went away once he started digging into the food. “Ok, Bell. Last night, you said that we some things to talk about. What's the matter?”
Bell took a sip of her tea and said “ While I was in the bath, I was thinking about some things. I was wondering if you think that my holding back on our becoming more intimate is hurting our relationship. Do you think that I'm being selfish in denying you something that you clearly desire? I never want to do anything that would take away from your happiness. I really want to become closer to you. But I don't feel ready to make such a sudden change just yet. I'm a Goddess First Class, and I'm supposed to do all I can to fulfill the contract between us, and as long as any part of that contract remains unfulfilled, I have failed in my mission.”
Keiichi looked Belldandy straight in the eyes and said with all the seriousness he could muster. “Belldandy. Forget the contract! If it didn't mean that you'd have to go back to heaven, I'd release you from this damn contract. The contract is no longer the primary reason you're still here. You told me that and now I'm reminding you.
“ I would never force you to do something you're not ready to do. I admit that I have thoughts about becoming more intimate with you. Some of those thoughts get pretty intense. But never would I act on those thoughts until you were ready. You are NOT being selfish by holding back. I can only be happy when you're happy. And making you do something that you clearly are not prepared to do would not make you happy and it would not make me happy. What did you tell me yesterday? A mighty oak has to grow from an acorn. There will come a day when the time will be right. I can wait until then because when it finally happens, it will be well worth the wait for both of us.”
A tear came to Belldandy's eyes. “Keiichi, I don't deserve you.” Keiichi came back “And I don't deserve you, I guess that makes us even, right??” Belldandy's laugh sounded like a pure note of a fine silver bell.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Monday, September 01, 2008
If there was a way I could include a streaming link to Earth, Wind and Fire's hit "September", and not run afoul of the RIAA, I would do so, because my favorite month of the year has arriv-ed!! Yes kiddies, I'm a September baby, and September is here! Oh joy, Oh rapture!!!
If it hasn't been made abundantly clear, yes, September is a very important month for me. Many significant events, all of which life changing to one degree or another occurred during the 9th month of the year. Almost all of those events occurred during the period of September 10th to the 20th. Chronologically, let's go through them one at a time.
September 10th is important because that was the day that I went into the service. Those who know me know that I was not the best student in high school. Despite attending what was traditionally considered the best high school in the City of Pittsburgh, Taylor Allderdice, I was woefully immature, spectacularly unprepared for college life and even if I had all my shit in one sock, my folks didn't have the cash to fork over to send my lazy ass on to college, which had this happened would have been one of the greatest wastes of time and money since Prohibition.
So unlike a lot of my college bound schoolmates who were putting out college applications left and right and hoping to get into the school of their choice, and knowing that my attempt to do the college thing would end in a disaster of biblical proportions, I enlisted in the Navy under the Navy's Delayed Entry Program. This program allowed eligible people to enlist in the Navy 12 months prior to going off to boot camp. I was in non-paid status of the Naval Reserve during my senior year in high school and that year would count for pay purposes once I started boot camp. That meant that I had a few more bucks in the paycheck from the get-go, which given my proclivity to spend like a...wait for it...drunken sailor, was a small godsend.
I had no regrets about doing this because frankly, going into the service was my best and only viable option. Even back in the '70s, the prospects for young black males weren't all that good and not being ready for any type of post high school education meant that would have had to find a job, so I figured, why don't I join the Navy, get some education, toughen myself up and get out of the ghetto for a while, so three months to the day after the graduation at 6:30am, the morning of Wednesday September 10, 1980, the recruiter came to my house to pick me up and start me on my first major life adventure. I was driven down to the Federal Building downtown and spent about 11 hours being hustled from room to room, signing a small mountain of paperwork, being poked, prodded, told to bend over and cough numerous times and then I was shuffled into a room with about a dozen other guys. I was told to raise my right hand and swear that I would support and defend the constitution of the United States. At that point, I was a sailor.
I and my induction group were then put on a bus, schlepped out to the airport, and put on a flight to Chicago. An couple hours later, we landed at O'Hare, were put on another bus and sent 35 miles north to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. I can remember everyone laughing, and talking crap and joking around on the way up to the base, but once we saw those high barb-wired topped fences with the "Property of the US Government" signs on them, you could hear a pin drop. We entered through the gate and then a couple of guys wearing dungarees, guard belts, and dark blue shirts with funny looking insignia on the collars came on the bus and in no uncertain terms told us to get of their bus quick, fast and in a hurry. We clambered off the bus and lined up on the footprints painted on the asphalt, and marched looking like a bunch of Soviet-era dissidents condemned to the gulag, to what was called "Receiving Division"
There we were issued raincoats, ditty bags full of cleaning supplies, and some other stuff and made to sit a large room, until everyone else that was expected to be arriving showed up. I was assigned a seven digit number that I remember to this day: 056-09-10. I was told never to forget that number and to spit it out on command. A few hours later some petty officers came in, screamed at us for a while, told us what to expect, collected all our UA or unauthorized gear from us, and marched us to a small barracks with a couple dozen bunk beds. It was about 1 am when we finally turned in, and just as we had finally got to sleep, the lights came on, a garbage can was thrown down the middle of the bunkroom and we were woken up rather roughly and told to get our asses down to the grinder(parade ground) as soon as possible. What followed was a blur as within the space of a few hours we had been: fed; given haircuts; told to write a letter home saying that we had arrived safely; finished more paperwork; been issued ID cards and dogtags; and marched all over the base at least a couple times. Those first few days left little time to rest or reflect on why the hell we decided to put ourselves through this crap. There was always someplace to go, something to do, stuff being constantly drilled into our heads. But to be honest, I didn't mind it. I actually felt quite alive. This was something I wanted to do.
Eventually, we got our uniforms issued, were assigned into a company and a barracks and settled down into the regular routine. Lots of running around, marching, schoolwork to master, PT to sweat through. It was a big head game, but I didn't mind it. I felt like I was doing something productive. Boot camp challenged me in ways that high school never could. It was not always easy. I ralphed more than a few times after some of the PT runs. I had problems getting my bunk and lockers ready for inspections, and I did miss home, but I was proud of what I had done, and I knew there was a change in me when I passed in review for graduation eight weeks later. I was in the best shape of my life, I looked good in the uniform, and I thought I was going places.
My post-boot camp career had its ups and downs. I didn't get into the Data Systems Technician school that I was assigned to attend because I could not make it through the preliminary Basic Electricity and Electronics course. I always did better in a traditonal instructor/student environment, and I could not adjust to the self-taught system BE&E used. I ended up having to be reassigned to Mess Management School in San Diego. It wasn't what I wanted to do, being a cook and the parents weren't too thrilled, but better to go to the fleet with an A school diploma in my pocket rather than as an undesignated striker having to earn a rating the hard way. Besides, six weeks in San Diego after freezing my ass off in Great Lakes, plus the fact that there were women on base in San Diego??? What's not to love about that???
To compress it all, in summer of 1981, I graduated from MS school, volunteered for service on the USS Carl Vinson, which was being built in Newport News, VA. After she made her maiden World Cruise in 1983, I left that ship and literally walked across the pier to my new ship, the USS California. The California was not nearly as great an adventure as the Carl Vinson. I clashed with a lot of my crewmates, didn't quite fit in, and on September 9, 1986, I walked out of the East Gate of NAS Alameda, with honorable discharge in hand, happy to be done with that ship, but still wishing that I could have stayed in the Navy. I wanted to stay in 20 years. But the crap I had to put up with on the California, while much of it was self-imposed, had soured me on a naval career. Now thinking about it in hindsight, I could have done much more to improve my lot on the ship and in the Navy. I had a lot of issues that affected my ability to fully succeed. Most of those problems, I still have today. But I look and think often upon those days with a certain fond rememberance. Even the bad times, weren't really so bad, and they served to play a major part in making me what I am today. I made new friends, seen places most people couldn't find on a map. Had a lot of fun and learned a lot about myself. And so, September 10th will always be an important day for me.
September 13th of course is my birthday. I actually wished that I was born in 1963 instead of 1962, because that would insured that I would have been born on Friday the 13th. Now that's a conversation starter. This year I'll be 46 years old. I've seen a lot over the years. Most of it good, but a few potholes in the road to keep me honest. I cried in my bunk my first birthday in boot camp, but I've never been a big birthday party guy. I've only had a couple parties in my life, and would rather spend my birthday either by myself or with my friend Denise.
Speaking of Denise, September 20th is significant for me because that is her birthday.
Finally, September is most well known for the my second major life changing experience...my return to school or The Relentless Pursuit of Higher Education.
In 1992 after six years out of the service, basically knocking around doing dead end chimp work, I got it into my head that I finally needed to go back to school. As a Christian who occasionally feels that God is talking to him, I felt that He was telling me that he wanted me to continue my education. Through a tenant of mine, I got the name of one George Carter who was a counselor at the Community College of Allegheny County. Little did I know how much of an influence this man would be in my college years.
I made an appointment to see Mr. Carter at his office in Boyce Campus in Monroeville. I walked into his cramped little rabbit hutch office overflowing with books, papers, and other bric-a-brac. We shook hands and introduced ourselves, and after a minute of small talk, he pulled out a application for admission and said to me in a voice that would leave no uncertainty of his position, "Now we have the small talk out of the way, let's get down to business." He wasn't forcing me, but something told me that I wasn't leaving this man's office without signing that application. I had only come in to ask some questions, and maybe to set my mind at ease. Mr. Carter had other things in mind. He was one who had a burning desire to see that any student especially black males in particular got a chance to succeed, and would do anything to make sure that would happen. After about an hour in his office, I had filled out the app for admission, and for financial aid, and had registered for my first two summer classes. I owe a great debt to Mr. Carter. He did a lot for me while I was in school. He encouraged me when the pressure tried to get to me. When I wasn't able to pay for my books at the time I needed them, he pulled strings with the bookstore to get me the books I needed for class until my grant money came in to pay him back. He even showed up when I graduated from Robert Morris in 2000.
I have to admit, that I wasn't sure that I was ready to get back into school. I was 30 years old at the time, and going to school with kids a dozen years younger. Would I be able to keep up? Well, after those first two classes in the summer, I found that the answer to that question was an unqualified YES!!! I took to it like a fish to water. My mind was totally and completely re-energized. It felt like the switch connected to my brain that somehow got turned off in middle and high school was found once again and snapped back on. I was absorbing this stuff like a sponge. I had discovered a gift for writing that had never manifested itself before. Other than the service, I had never felt so alive. I looked forward to going to class. I wanted to get the whole college experience. I felt almost like an 18 year old again. I signed up to join clubs, I got involved in the intramural sports and the collegiate bowling team. When I fulfilled the academic requirement after 12 credits, I joined the local Phi Theta Kappa chapter and threw myself into their activities, racking up all sorts of awards and honors and eventually becoming chapter president. In 1995, I graduated from CCAC with the Male Student of the Year Award for 94-95.
I was published in the National Dean's List; Who's Who Amongst Students in American Junior Colleges; more certificates of merit and honors than I knew what to do with. Those were great years. But because like I always did, I planned things as I went along instead of making a plan on paper and sticking to it, I ended up with an associate's degree that wasn't strong enough to transfer to any of the major colleges in Pittsburgh. So I had to decide whether I should try to get enough credits to at least transfer one year at Pitt, until I had come across the counselor types from then-Robert Morris College occupying a table in Boyce's front hall and trying desperately to get someone to notice them. Something told me to talk to them and see what they had to offer. I went to the registrar and requested a copy of my transcript which by then had close to 80 credits on it. I gave it to the RMC people and my jaw hit the carpet when they looked it over and started checking off course after eligible course of study. After they were done, they told me that could take the maximum number of 69 credits from my transcript. I then asked them about tuition, which at the time was extremely reasonable, and then the clincher was that they had transportation between downtown and the Moon campus free for students and I asked them "Where do I sign up???" The application and admission process could not have been smoother, I was admitted within three days of submitting the application and began classes in September of '97. Once there, I did the same routine I did at CCAC. I jumped into my classwork, joined clubs, got as involved on campus as a commuter student could and got involved in the local Phi Beta Lambda chapter. I chose a major that interested me more than one that was marketable (notice a trend here???) and in 2000 finished up my studies with a 3.07 GPA, and a degree that I enjoyed studying for, but would not get me a decent job. And as a result, I'm doing the same shit work I was doing before I started the 7 and a half year ordeal. But you know what, I still learned a hell of a lot about myself, and my capabilities. Yes, the whole thing ended up being a paper chase. I could have done things better, and emerged with a marketable degree that would have gotten me a decent job. But I have found that my education did help me in my outside interests. Working as my church's treasurer for four years for example. Rebuilding my American Legion Post's management system. Stuff that I could not have done if I hadn't gone back to school. And I would not have been able to succeed at school had I not learned about myself in the Navy. And it all happened in the month of September--My month.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Remember, I don't care whether people read the damn thing, that ain't the point. It's all about adding my stuff to the growing pile of irrelevant content that is clogging up teh interwebs. And so in commemoration of this earth-shaking event, I have compiled a list of what I consider to be the 10 best posts in the history of the Scribbler. Now It's safe to say that even with my chops, I should be able to find 10 posts that should qualify for such a dubious distinction. But these posts made it not only because of the quality of the writing, but also because of what the subject matter meant to me at the time it was written.
That said, here are the 10 greatest posts in the history of the Moonlight Scribbler.
And No, none of the Song of the Goddesses, nor the City League posts count because 1, I haven't posted all the chapters yet in SoTG and 2) Both are different writing projects altogether.
In no particular order, I'll leave the actual ranking to the multitudes who read this thing.
10. A Crisis of Faith or a Midcourse Correction
9. My Month--September
8. Oct 28, 1983
7. The Call, What's Memorial Day All About
6. Black Church, White Church
5. Holy Week
3. On Turning 45
2. The World's Worst Christian
1. Red Jesus, Blue Jesus
Sure, The Country's going to Hell,
Dead and Missing Pretty White Girls
Bobby Has Two Daddies...or Two Mommies.
10am Saturday Morning.
Belldandy got herself sorted out, and quietly went off to the bathroom to take a bath and change clothes. Keiichi grabbed a clean shirt and pants out of his clothes drawer and waited for the bathroom to clear so he could get cleaned up. While he was waiting, his mind drifted back to last night. Was Urd right? Did I blow the best chance I'd ever have of getting intimate with Belldandy? Was Bell giving me the green light, but I was color blind? He grabbed the picture of Belldandy standing next to the temple bell in that very sundress she wore last night, and as was his custom, he looked at it for a few moments, and then kissed it. Maybe a little longer than usual.
Meanwhile, Belldandy was sitting in the hot bath relaxing. Like a traditional Japanese bath, she scrubbed herself clean with a bucket and soapy hot water before lowering herself into the bath to soak. It was during this time of day, that Bell would think about the day's events, and what she had to do, as well as what she was going to prepare for Keiichi. She thought about making a Western style breakfast for Keiichi today. She tried that once before, and he liked it a lot. Obviously the temple had to be physically and ritually cleansed. All the drunken debauchery that occurred last night would not be good for the temple's vibrations. She started to think to herself as well. Am I denying Keiichi that which he clearly wants most? Am I being selfish in withholding myself from him? Is it time that I finally allow myself to clear that final hurdle that prevents me and Keiichi from getting intimate? And by denying him this intimacy, am I violating my first function of a goddess which is to bring happiness to all I encounter? His happiness is supposed to come before mine. But Keiichi would never want to be happy if I have to suffer. And most of all, am I interfering in the natural course of the relationship if I continue to hold back? Or am I interfering if I move ahead?
In the course of being employed by the Goddess Assistance Agency, Belldandy had fulfilled wishes of a sexual nature. It didn't happen all that often because Yggdrasil matched goddesses to wishes based on their basic compatibility with the wish in question. That's why Yggdrasil sent Peorth down to Keiichi when he had his unspoken sexual desires. Peorth was more compatible with fulfilling the desires of the flesh. But occasionally, Yggdrasil had a hiccup in its programming, and sometimes sent Belldandy to a client with a sexual wish. It was part and parcel of being a Goddess First Class, Second Category. That license she held was the license of a field goddess, which meant that she had the authority to go to Earth and make contracts with humans. As opposed to a First Category license like Skuld and Urd possessed. They didn't have the authority to contract with humans and really weren't supposed to be on Earth in the first place.
But when Belldandy was presented with sexual wishes she didn't take them personally. Her training dictated that as a Goddess First Class, she had to do whatever it took to fulfill a clients contract. So she would perform the desired service required to the best of her ability, and all the while maintaining her happy and pleasant demeanor. To her it was all about the fulfilling of the contract. In all those cases, the relationship was strictly goddess/client. Once the contract was fulfilled, the relationship was over and she went on her way. Nothing more. There were no moral hangups in Belldandy's mind about fulfilling those wishes, because she was not subject to human morality. Unless it was a wish that directly threatened the Earth, she could not refuse to grant it. It was part of the job.
But now she had a contract with a human who's happiness was directly tied to hers. Keiichi would never be happy as long as Belldandy was unhappy. And vice versa. This is the first contract of this type she had encountered.
She didn't expect to fall in love with Keiichi when she first met him in that dorm room years ago. She just figured that he would wish for something more mundane like a million dollars, or a brand new car, or that he could be irresistible to Earth girls. She could knock out a wish like that with her eyes closed, and be on her way in a few minutes or a day at the most. But he had to come up with a crazy wish like “I'd like for a goddess like you to stay with me always!” Who'd come up with a outlandish wish like that?
Then after submitting the request to Yggdrasil, she assumed that wish would be kicked out in a heartbeat because it was just plain impractical, unprecedented, and maybe even unenforceable in the fullness of time. After Yggdrasil approved the wish, and she was stuck here on Earth for the time being, she thought that she would go along and do what he asked in order to fulfill the contract. Be cheerful, put on the happy face, play the good little goddess. After all, that was what her job was all about, right? And maybe after a few weeks or months on Earth which is merely a tiny slice of time in Heaven, he'd get bored with her or feel that she fulfilled enough of his wishes and desires that he'd send her back.
But no. She had to get the one guy in the world that was totally selfless, and put others happiness before his own.. The one guy who actually cared about her feelings and wants. The one guy that wanted to share his life with her. The one guy who was most like her. And then she had to fall in love with him.
Keiichi did more for her in those few short years than all the time she spent in Heaven. He taught her, a mighty goddess, about life as a frail, mortal, limited human. Through his humanity, he helped her to become a better goddess. Through his strengths, he showed her her weaknesses and flaws. And even when those flaws manifested themselves, sometimes in quite destructive and ungoddess-like ways, he never turned her away. He never turned his back on her. He accepted and loved her unconditionally. That touched Belldandy.
And tipped her attitude from just staying around to fulfill the contract to wanting to spend her life with him.
When Urd became the Lord of Terror and she threatened the Earth with destruction, Keiichi didn't turn and run like any other human. He stood up to the Lord of Terror, even to the point of containing the Lord of Terror himself until the goddesses were able to vanquish him.
When the Angel Eater had stolen her angel as well as the angels of Urd, Peorth, and one of the twin angels of the warrior goddess, Lind, It fell to Lind, Skuld with her tiny angel, Noble Scarlet, and Keiichi to fight off the beast. Kei even showed the ability to support and deploy Lind's remaining angel, Cool Mint. No human had ever shown that power. He was even able to host that demonic familiar implanted in Belldandy by the head of Demonkind, Hild after Bell had turned that familiar into an angel..
That situation didn't go nearly as well, but the fact that the familiar latched herself to Keiichi was remarkable just the same.
This human, This Keiichi Morisato, though unassuming and ordinary in appearance had something about him that intrigued Belldandy. The love and respect he showed her. The willingness to put up with the antics of Skuld, Urd, and Peorth. The almost god-like powers that he sometimes manifested. Keiichi Morisato was no ordinary human. What other human could hear the song of the Lorelei, or fix the intricate parts of the Machiners? What manner of man was this Morisato?
Bell still had a lot of thinking to do, but she had spent almost 45 minutes in the bath and she still needed to get some kind of breakfast on the table. She climbed out of the tub, dried herself off and conjured up a blue and white long billowy housedress and a white ribbon for her hair. She left the bathroom and as she passed Keiichi's room she said “ Keiichi, the bathroom's clear if you want to use it. I'll have breakfast ready by the time you get out.
“Ok, Belldandy. Are you alright?”
“Yes, Keiichi. I'm fine. It was a lot of fun spending time with you last night. I really enjoyed our time together. We have a lot to talk about over the next few days.”
With that she walked down the hall towards the kitchen.
Keiichi wondered about that last sentence. “We have a lot to talk about over the next few days?, What does that mean?”