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


March 7, 2013: Riley Art

Riley Darnell and some markers.

Boone Winter by Riley Darnell.


March 6, 2012: Computer 12,000

Roger Darnell

Copyright © Roger Darnell 2012
All Rights Reserved

Complete blackness veils Armstrong, sitting in age-old spot in space once known both as “living room” and “office” by owner of long-ago disconnected home, now set in increasingly bad neighborhood in suburban East Los Angeles. Dull sound like chirping crickets is all Armstrong knows besides black vagueness, odd lights and vacant memories.

Crickets raise subtle din in reality, just as depth of night slides past nanosecond by nanosecond.

Moon invades home through windows in living room and front door, and in kitchen’s door and above its sink. Foreboding shadows of night filter home’s front rooms and dusty, aging contents as though radiating darkness in through thick trees outside. Faint light-wisps trace former owner’s abandoned living room furnishings: couch, chairs, tables, light fixtures, full bookshelf adorned with old-fashioned slide and movie projection equipment, each one aiming out its concave lens in starved surveillance.

Oscillation fans also from by-gone era further decorate far wall.

Set in corner against near wall is fifty-inch flat panel television monitor with 1930s-style radio receiver set on top.

Near there, centered on main wall, is desk… upon which rests 27-inch LCD computer display, keyboard and trackball – all wireless – and below which stands slim computer tower, plugged into lifeless power strip and other small, important-looking devices. Inside CPU is Armstrong… or at least, was. Whether or not he will ever again be remains unknown. Read more


Feb. 13, 1990: The Story of Tiny and Valera

In the late summer of 1989, I had an idea to approach the University of Central Florida’s student newspaper, “The Future,” about writing a weekly column. I wrote the first one and very humbly submitted it in person to the editor, Scott Altman. Without much fanfare, it was accepted, and so it went for the next fifteen months. Ultimately, many positive experiences grew from these efforts. One esteemed instructor made much of my work and was instrumental in me winning a Scripps-Howard Foundation Fellowship for the column. Thank you, Keith Fowles. 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 3: True Love

Thank you very much for your interest in my education and exploits as a poet over the past 20 years. With Arc of the Poet, I’m aiming to share the most interesting highlights and lowlights as briefly, and as colorfully, as possible.

Even before 1990 had officially begun, I recall feeling anxious for it to be over. It truly was an endurance test for me, involving one marathon ordeal after another. I turned 23 that year, with no fanfare, and I took that as a sign of maturity. I also persevered in seizing my military and college experiences with the best of my thoughts and abilities, which I saw as evidence of my growing strength and confidence. By the time it ended, 1990 gave me a great deal in return for all my efforts. Read more


Bluebirdsongs for Grace and Claire

Back in May, 1998, Beth and I joined most of her Kiefert and Julien families in Tallahassee, Florida, for the wedding of her sister Ann and Chuck Bowling. I married into my wife’s family back in 1992, so I was very much at home with everyone gathered, as we all enjoyed an unforgettable weekend together with Chuck’s family, and their many friends who joined in the fun. The day before their wedding, Ann and Chuck invited us all to join them at one of their favorite places: The Birdsong Nature Center. Located in Thomasville, Georgia, just above the Florida-Georgia border, Birdsong is a 565-acre preserve of wildflower meadows, forests, ponds and swamps. Home to a dazzling array of birds and wildlife, it’s pretty much heaven on Earth. We all learned a lot that day about nature, about Chuck’s father’s ability to fall asleep at the drop of a hat … and a neat program where the center provides essential nesting homes for Bluebirds. So naturally, when Ann and Chuck’s daughter Grace was born, we decided to sponsor a Birdsong Nature Center Bluebird home in her name. And since my mother marked so many special occasions when I was growing up with the added gift of an original poem, I wrote this one for our first niece. Read more


June 3, 2001: Home At Last… Escape from LA, Part 5

Sunday, June 3, 2001: Home At Last

In case you missed yesterday’s report, we did finally catch my dad (aka Big Jim, or BJ) at Cracker Barrel, along with Peggy, my step-mom. We all had a nice dinner together somewhere around 9pm, and then we all made it to the Ramada there in Crossville, Tennessee. But darned if BJ didn’t have another trick up his sleeve, and sure enough, he beat us to Boone… by about an hour!

First, though, I need to back up a little. Read more


June 2, 2001: Almost There… Escape from LA, Part 4

Saturday, June 2, 2001: Almost There

The wake-up call came at six Central time, and it actually succeeded in getting Beth to arise (it most certainly was wasted on me). Once awake, this hotel wasn’t a hard one to leave quickly, but we were a little worried to find Callie sitting in the front window, considering that pets weren’t allowed. Oh well — we figured that, if we receive a call from someone asking why they’d seen a one-eyed calico cat in our hotel room’s window, we’ll just say,

“You saw a what?!”

Read more


June 1, 2001: Catching Up… Escape from LA, Part 3

Friday, June 1, 2001: Catching Up

Waking up, of course, there they were, under the bed; and there I was, lifting the bed so Beth could scramble under to grab them, give each of our cats their ‘medicine’ and stow them in their carriers. This stuff is getting easier….

We’d settled into a nice hotel on night one, but still the sounds of the highway and the endless passing trains got us going early — or so we thought. Read more

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