May 30, 2001: The Countdown Begins… Escape from LA, Part 1

All of this started playing out 16 years ago today – thought I’d bump it back to the top of this blog to rekindle the memories…

Escape from LA
by Roger Darnell

Wednesday, May 30, 2001: The Countdown Begins

As I sat at my desk at the end of the business day (night) on Tuesday, I knew I really needed to get some sleep to be ready to start loading the truck bright and early the next morning; surveying my office, though — still largely intact — it finally also sunk-in to me that I needed to get it packed, once and for all. Fast forward to 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning: I’d worked all the way through the night, the office was 98% done, the house was a scattered array of semi-packed boxes, furniture and closed boxes, all ready for the truck, and we were off to pick up the truck from Budget in Van Nuys on Sepulveda Blvd., the same place where we’d returned our truck from the 1998 move West. This truck was a little bigger — a sign that the move was a success? — and the car carrier, destined to transport our Honda Accord back across the country, may have been the same one we picked up from New Orleans on the previous trip. Beth had slept very little as well, so the recollection of truck-packing day is a little blurry. We were smart enough to request a couple of movers to come to our house at 9 to load the truck, and by 11, they were done. By 5 p.m., Read more


Arc of the Poet, Part 14: Ramblings

More than ten years ago, after relocating to the Blue Ridge Mountains and making final preparations for parenthood (we actally studied The Bradley Method), Beth and I launched into this current phase of our love story. Experiencing life’s joys and sorrows together over the next couple of years, while diligently tending to my business and supporting personal projects for many members of the family, I wondered what was to come for the creative writer. In 2002, I made up an answer, in the form of a new writing project named Ramble. In it, I aimed to address my personal challenges, write simply and seek new focus. From the beginning, these words have appeared at the top: “This document will hopefully grow in the weeks ahead to represent a journey: the rediscovery of the writer inside a person caught up in his life as businessman, husband and parent.”

Going mostly on instinct, I limited each line to 38 characters, wrote the first entry 73 lines long, and planned to make each subsequent verse one line shorter. If all went as hoped, I figured the final line would be something significant, even if most of the others might be forgettable.

Leaping ahead to the present, Ramble has been somewhat miraculous to me; as you might expect, it changed dramatically over time… and so have I. For the first, longest verses, I vented in detail about momentous developments, including some of the bigger political and global issues of those days. Progressively, I grew more and more daunted in facing the need to communicate things of real importance concisely. For anyone arriving at a crossroads in life with ability and time to write, I encourage a similar writing challenge. If you don’t have years and years to devote, begin with a five-line poem, then count down four, three, two and one: In my experience, it’s a productive approach at focusing oneself. Read more


Arc of the Poet, Part 10: Good Poetry

I may never become famous as a result of a poem I’ve written. I reluctantly accepted that probability some time ago, but only after mounting great, concentrated efforts designed to place my poetry within well respected literary publications… most of which failed.

I’ve always been a sincere fan of my mother Lila Darnell’s direct, powerful and stylized creative writing. Through my high school and college educations, exchanges with many other colorful and smart friends and family members, and lifelong exposure to magazines, radio and cable TV broadcasts, I developed a pretty strong sense for good poetry, and where that odd form of writing fits into the world. In my early 20s, I was introduced to the works of Charles Bukowski, who appeared to me as a 360-degree representation of the life of a successful poet… and who wrote books I loved instantly, due to them being so human, approachable, funny, well written and good. Read more


Arc of the Poet, Part 9: Dear Departures


Note from Tom Tilford, Aug. 13, 1993

In the summer of 1993, I was very proud to be the husband of Beth Darnell, a homeowner in downtown Orlando, and a genuine communications industry professional making some headway as a writer, producer and photojournalist. My campaign efforts pitching my original creative entries into literary publications produced no other significant results, until one day a poem came back with this kind note (click for full-size) attached.

I could have wept. Here’s the poem it was attached to. Read more


July 14, 1987: Beat

I’ve been thinking a lot about my personal writing projects lately. Thanks to the sage advice of Julia Cameron in “The Artist’s Way,” I have taken to journaling most days of the week… and those activities keep me in touch with my inner ticker, while maintaining my balance with Being. Looking through my database of poetic writings, one has jumped out to me tonight, due to the fact that I wrote it precisely 23 years ago. It makes me realize what a very long way I’ve come in this span of time, and how much I have to be thankful for. Read more


April 20, 2010: FOR AUNT HONEY

We are dearly missing my sweet Aunt Helen Ridings, affectionately known as “Aunt Honey,” who passed away early last Tuesday at the age of 84. She has fought hard against many challenging health conditions over the past years, and always maintained her upbeat attitude, while sending us the pure kind of love that is the root of confidence in life, and one of its greatest treasures. Today, I’m thinking Read more


Jan. 1, 1998: Flaming in Florida

It’s March 21, 2010, a Sunday, a little over 12 years after I emailed the following report to our friends and family members, the first of five installments documenting our move to California. Neither Beth nor I had ever been west of Texas before that time, but we were up for LA and fun new times with the dawn of 1998. So much has happened since then, for us and everyone we’ve met on this journey. Over the days ahead, I’ll be posting the other notes from this trek, followed by the photolog of our 2001 move to the Blue Ridge Mountains. As much as ever, we are especially connected to the original recipients of these emails. Sadly, the cats we fussed over back then have passed on, along with many others near and dear to us. To our friends and loved ones reading this, we still love sharing life and good times with you, and we look forward to making wonderful new memories together. Rock on! Read more


August 27, 2009: For Aunt Max

Circa 1985, Roger, Maxine and Bud.

Circa 1985, Roger, Maxine and Bud.

I learned today of the passing of my Aunt Maxine Ridings.  Talking about her with my mom this evening, one of the things that came up was how she has just always been part of our family, forever.  Also, for her nieces and nephews, Read more

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