Heart Wide Open

The last day of June came rumbling through the epicenter of the Moxie Universe like a runaway locomotive.  The thunderstorms and lightning began before midnight and continued with stunning illumination and intensity until dawn, or so it seemed.  I was caught in the midst of this natural train wreck just before midnight.  Then I went home, got under the covers, and listened to my heart race like it hadn’t for many months.

Around Memorial Day, I added a new layer to my schedule.  What can I say?  I am an overachiever.  I think I can handle more than the average human.  This layer was beautiful and my heart stopped racing so much because I felt alive.

I did not feel alive today.

I asked a friend for help and she showed up, just like a flower.  She calmly listened and reassured me.  She asked me what I could do to soothe my racing heart and mind.  I said I didn’t know.  She told me to think about it.  After our visit, I tried a number of things.

I inventoried Moxie gear with another committee member.

I took a nap.

I found my high school discus, went up to the track, and took a couple throws.  In 1980, I came in second to Leavitt’s Gloria Batchelder at the May 20 Mountain Valley Conference track and field meet.  On that day, I threw my discus 95 feet and qualified for regionals.  I think I threw the discus less than 60 feet today.


I took a walk along the Androscoggin River and soaked my feet in the water.

While I walked I listened to the soundtrack on my 2012 Sony Walkman.  I found it in a drawer the other day.  This device is loaded with songs capturing my mood during the lonely years before I moved home to Lisbon Falls.  I listened carefully to the lyrics I could understand.

I was searching for answers.  I have been searching for answers my whole life.

Is this how Eisenhower felt in the hours before the Invasion?  Probably not.  I think he played cards and smoked a cigar.  Men and women soldier differently.

A country song struck me as I walked.  “When I Get Where I’m Going” by Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton is a real tear-jerker for the grieving heart.

The song’s lyrics say, in part:

Yeah, when I get where I’m going,
there’ll be only happy tears.
I will shed the sins and struggles
I have carried all these years.
And I’ll leave my heart wide open
I will love and have no fear.

The lyrics also note:

So much pain and so much darkness,
in this world we stumble through.
All these questions I can’t answer
So much work to do.

Fortunately, not one other person was on the walking path, so it was safe for me to stop from time to time and weep.  I wept because there are three people I miss in my life right now, in no particular order.

I don’t write about many unhappy things here on the blog.  I have never written about the death of my beloved nephew, Mark Baumer, on January 21, 2017.  I think about him every day.  Every fucking day.  Yeah.  I hope it’s ok that I have appropriated his use of the word “yeah” into my own life as a way to keep his memory alive.

I miss Gina Mason.  There have been a few days during the fog of the Moxie battle when I have cried out to her in Heaven and asked her to intervene with God on my behalf, although I’m not sure it works that way.

Mostly, I miss my brother, Jim Baumer.  He’s still alive but I think I am dead to him.  Tragedy often does that kind of killing work.  We’ve had feuds before.  I wrote about one on this blog.

For the record, the primary reason I have experienced this small measure of success here in my hometown in this late season of my life is because my brother created and documented a plan that I could study and implement.  It was called “Jobs for JAB.”

“Jobs for JAB” has almost come full circle.  I do my day job out of the house I own in the center of the Moxie Universe and I’m the curator of this year’s Moxie Festival.  That was the plan my brother devised for me in 2012.  I’d like to talk to him about how the plan is going.  I wish he were here to listen to me “boo hoo” for about two minutes then give me a stern pep talk.  Then he’d make me laugh about something that happened in 1979 and I’d know everything was going to be ok.


I know some people don’t understand blogs and writers.  Not many people read this blog; no regrets today for airing out my personal laundry.

We are now 11 days away from The Moxie Festival.  There has been so much pain and darkness in this little world I’ve been stumbling through since January 21, 2017.  There is still so much work to do.  I am sustained by the love of everyone here in my hometown, including but not limited to my parents, my neighbors, Uncle Bob, and my high school classmates.  I can’t even begin to tell you about the beautiful and loving things that happen every day.

If any of my blog readers are so inspired, I welcome your prayers for the success of the festival.  Pray for good weather (remember: heat trumps rain for Moxie), pray for happy people, and pray for the volunteers who will do the heavy lifting as we approach the finish line.

For me, over the next 11 days, I’m going to leave my heart wide open.  I will love and have no fear.  And then when Moxie is over, I might try to keep living that way.


Thank you for loving me, Moxie, and my hometown.  Insert orange heart here.

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