[A concise summary for the emo immune: The author worries about stuff. Has anxiety attack. Gets better. Misses party. Is lame. Doesn't care. The End.]

This return to Washington has been a serious nail-biter for me. I'm not sure people have entirely picked up on that, as I tend to fake a placid calm pretty well. But there were a myriad of tiny things that could have shattered my plans. Car trouble, loan trouble, illness... you name it.

Even after arriving in B'ham, I've been dead sure, just utterly convinced, that something horrible was going to happen. My stress level's been spiraling out of control. The whole thing sorta climbed to a crescendo this Tuesday last. Tuesday was a really dark day for me. My general dread had ramped up to Total Freakout proportions and I thought: Yep, this was IT. Something horrible was destined to happen today, maybe right here, maybe right this bleeding minute, and it was all going to fall to pieces around my soft and only head...

But nothing happened. Then (as Douglas Adams would say) nothing continued to happen. The wrath-of-god asteroids whizzed quietly overhead. I chipped at my mountain of homework. I drove out to Lynden to watch the wind rip rainclouds across Mount Baker. I went downtown and kicked around the stacks at Michael's Books. Fell beasts did not leap out from the darkened corners. Later I went out to Anthony’s-on-the-Bay with my pal Classic Mike. Drank a microbrew. Ate a salad. Talked about sailing. The zombie legion doggedly refused to rise.

Somewhere between then and now it has occured to me that HOLY CRAP I’M IN BELLINGHAM. A locale recently voted #1 Raddest Place in the Solar System by a recent nationwide survey of RoguePoets. I actually made a plan that worked out okay? Straight up, no whammies, fine-just-fine? It would seem so. A little off the rails and behind schedule maybe, but otherwise I'm motherfucking lucky in life.

So I guess I’m back down to threat level yellow. Breathing easier now.

What sucks is: I'd been hoping all along that I'd have my shit together before Columbus Day. That I'd have a side job & a decent studio by now. That I could make that leisurely 4-hour drive down to Portland and get a chance to hook up with Jack again, and Jeff and Keith, and not to mention Christen and Laurel and their entire oddball crew, all these interesting folks that I'd heard so much about. Obviously, that didn't happen. (No, you weren't that drunk. You didn't miss me. I wasn't there.)

In truth I didn't even realize Columbus Day had come and gone 'til the aftermath w/us came rolling in. On the aforementioned Panic Attack Tuesday. So thanks for kickin' me while I was down. Jerks.

We are invited to an exhibition about Indian film legend Raj Kapoor, because the organiser is a friend of P and her mother's. It opens a season of his films showing at the cinema here.

I get a slightly surreal feeling as soon as we enter, brought on mainly by the intensely bright lights that shine from stands at various points on the way in. It only occurs to me later, as we are leaving, that they are there to illuminate passing celebrities for the sake of photographs and TV cameras. On the way in, we pass by an ongoing press conference to head straight into the main gallery room.

The exhibition is small but well put together, with many beautiful stills and publicity shots from Raj Kapoor's films together with original props and costumes, censors' certificates and so on. Though he was an enormously popular actor and film-maker his movies were often controversial; we see here a shocking on-screen kiss from the 1970s, an obviously sexy woman in a sheer top inside a temple, a scene of breastfeeding. Largely ignorant myself, I learn a lot from all this, and from P's additional explanations.

She points out a few quite big names from the Bengali film industry, and our host introduces us to a nonplussed Randhir Kapoor, the also-famous son of the man himself, as the daughter of actress Suchita Ray Chaudhury and her husband. He seems disappointingly unmoved by her exaggerated claim that I'm a big Raj Kapoor fan and know all the songs.

As I tell a TV interviewer who calls me over after a couple of minutes talking with P, I do actually know the refrain of one song from the one Raj Kapoor film I've seen most of - Mera Joota Hai Japani, from the excellent Shree 420. They get me to sing it for the camera, and I totally fluff the third line. It's terrible.

'But my red Russian hat' indeed.

The Slums and the Cemetery- | -Kolkata Metro

Tomorrow marks one month of being a father. Other than the lack of sleep, I've been doing quite well with everything. I can change diapers and burp my daughter in no time flat, and she seems to enjoy laying on me. I seem to be one of her favorite nap time spots, which I don't mind, except when her diaper springs a leak and I end up wearing some post-processed milk. I haven't changed all too much from my pre-fatherhood days, but I have been taking more notice in news stories dealing with children.

The school shootings in Ohio make me wonder what has happened to society in general. Back in the early nineties when I was in high school, the biggest worry was a kid bringing a knife to school. I can remember only once incident when the school got locked down, which was due to a reported person in the area with a shotgun, which turned out to be a hunter. It seems like public schools are not as safe as they should be, at least in my mind, and it concerns me that one day my daughter is going to enter one of these places. With the way things change from year to year, who knows what she might be facing come the time she enters high school.

I read another story about a mother who poured boiling water on her five year old boy, apparently because she was upset that the boy's father had left her. Even if I wasn't a father, this still would bug me. Why would anyone take their aggression out on a helpless child? It just doesn't make sense to harm an innocent bystander in a domestic dispute like this.

I'm not going to be a paranoid parent by any means, but I do intend on watching out for my daughter and do my best to protect her from things. The next eighteen years of my life should be a fun ride for sure.

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