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Inspiring

Like many kids born in the late 60’s and early 70’s, I grew up watching Star Trek on television. My first memories consist of watching the show in syndication on a tiny color TV in the living room of my family’s apartment. I was too young to understand most of the dialogue, and it wasn’t until many years later that the social issues Star Trek was known for confronting began to affect me. I just loved the stories and characters.

I had action figures, trading cards, toy phasers and tricorders. Every yellow, red or blue shirt I owned reminded me of someone from the series, and when I wore them, I was them. Of course, I was enamored with Captain Kirk, and any imaginary game played with friends starred me as the handsome, strong, awesome Captain of the Enterprise. I had a toy robot who became the mister Spock to my Kirk when no friends were about, and I would invent missions, planets, obstacles for us to overcome. We had some intense conversations and adventures.

In my mind, the people on the television show weren’t just actors playing a role. All of them, right down to ensign redshirt who was about to die on planet X were not acting out a script, they really were the characters they portrayed. I wasn’t foolish. I knew the difference between fiction and reality. It was just extremely easy to surrender myself, to believe what I was watching was actually unfolding.

The series inspired me, not to become a scientist or an explorer, but to create. Looking back, all my early writing (before I was 12) was loosely based on the Star Trek world with a dash of Battlestar Galactica and a dose of 1970’s Salt Lake County.

I no longer write much science fiction, but I still owe my creative desire to the wonderful Star Trek stories that filled my childhood with adventure and wonder, and the actors who made those people real for me.

Today, I learned of the passing of Leonard Nimoy. I never met him, never sent him a letter or interacted with him on social media, and beyond the interactions he personally chose to share with all of us, had no personal connection to him outside of his role on Star Trek. Still, perhaps selfishly, I mourn his passing. I feel sorrow for his family, for the pain they must be experiencing. Also, I mourn what I have lost, and while the memories of my young self remain intact, they feel forever altered knowing that Spock is really gone. I can’t help but feel as if part of my early childhood has gone away with him.

Would I, Could I…

Last night, while watching some television with Sheryl and Destry, we came across a show about buying homes in the Caribbean. We saw some interesting properties in Puerto Rico and St Maarten. The images of the ocean and islands heightened an already growing urge to return to Cancun.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAI imagined myself back on the beach, the sound of the water, that constant roar of the ocean, soothing away every ridiculous care. I could see the tropical sun, feel the humidity, the never ending wind and I wanted to be there.

Because I like to torture my children, I made an offhand remark about selling our house and moving to some wonderfully laid back island the moment the boys were 18. Destry played along, saying that was fine as long as we had a room for him.

But I wondered, could I really live on an island, or even some place tropical? I know I can live near an ocean. I know I would love it, but would living in a place like St Maarten take away from some of the wonder?

I fear I would eventually feel trapped. I think I would need more variety in my surroundings.

coverWhen I think about it, besides my lovely Utah, there are few places I would want to live.  Few places have such a diversity of climates and scenery. There are salt flats, mountain lakes, high tundras and sandy deserts. I can be in the city surrounded by buildings and chaos and in fifteen minutes be completely isolated from almost everyone. There are things that drive me crazy about living here, but in the end, it is home, and home is amazing.

Scroll through some of these images of Utah and see for yourself.

If you feel inspired, come visit. I would love to show any and everyone around. Utah is a massive place, and I don’t know everything about everywhere, but I do know how to get to most places. It could be an epic adventure.

 

 

Dexter is Over

Warning-spoilers inside. P.S. I am assuming most of those who read this know most, if not all of the story to this point.

So, that is it. After 8 seasons, Dexter ended in dramatic, chaotic, violent and in many ways unsatisfying fashion.

For many reasons, the first season of the show will always be my favorite. I love the grittiness of it. The show was so completely different from anything I had ever watched. I was a fan from the first episode.

Most love season 4, with the performance of John Lithgow as the Trinity Killer marking the high point of the drama, which is hard to argue against. Many of those same fans feel that from this point on, the show becomes aimless, trying to recapture the power of those 12 episodes, and failing, finally culminating in the mess of seasons 7 and 8. I am not one of those fans.

Dexter for me, has been a journey of exploring what it means to be human. Diagnosed as a psychopath, Dexter lives a life of charades and lies, pretending to have emotions, pretending to care about those around him, living by a code that allows him to survive in a world he really never understands. Well, at least at first.

As the seasons progress, each challenge Dexter faces uncovers what he tries to hide-Yes, he is broken by what happened in his youth and yes, he has a near uncontrollable urge to kill others, but underneath it all, he does feel, and he does change.

At the end of every season, some set back causes him to re-evaluate what he learns about himself, most times, brushing aside his revelations as something that will only further complicate his existence.  This casting aside is most often an exercise in futility as he cannot unlearn what he knows, or how that knowledge changes the course of his life. he does feel, he does have emotions and he is capable of being more.

All of this is what makes the series finale so frustratingly bad.

Dexter falls in love with Hannah and is willing to run away with her, raise his son and leave his old life behind. And while that might frustrate some fans of the “old” Dexter, it makes perfect sense in the progression we have witnessed. This time, instead of finding some reason to bury his emotions, he revels in them. He feels he is deserving of some happiness and is going to take it.

Then as usual, events spiral out of control and some choices have disastrous consequences. Rather than kill Saxon, his latest serial killer nemesis, he spares him, turning him over to his sister, Deb. Saxon escapes with the unwitting help of a federal marshal who was tracking Deb and Dexter for helping Hannah hide from the police(an absolutely idiotic scene when you take into account that Saxon was wanted for mass murder, his face all over the news and certainly, the marshal’s office as well). As he is fleeing, Saxon shoots Deb, leaving her for dead, but she is able to call an ambulance.

Complications from surgery leave Deb with severe brain damage, unable to breathe on her own. Dexter crafts another plan to kill Saxon while he is in police custody, and though he breaks every rule in the book, his former colleagues at Miami Metro let Dexter leave, calling the incident a case of self defense (again, badly executed scene).  Dexter has little time to escape as a tropical storm is descending on Miami, threatening to trap him there while Hannah and Dexter’s son try to make their escape to South America.

With Saxon dispatched, Dexter returns to the hospital and in the best scene of the season, he unplugs Deb from her life support machine. We see here a fully emotionally mature Dexter. He cannot leave his sister behind in such a state and with absolute tenderness, he disconnects her from the tubes and wires, whispering “I love you,” in her ear as she flat lines.

For one final time, Dexter takes his boat out with one more body (Deb) on board. He calls Hannah as she is about to board the plane. He talks to his son, telling him to remember he loves him. Then he tosses his phone into the ocean.

He gently carries Deb’s body to the edge of the boat and like he has with hundreds of corpses, tosses her overboard.

Dexter has determined he causes the death of everyone he loves, and in order to spare Hannah and Harrison (his son), from the same fate, he fakes his own death, driving his boat into the storm where it is found, demolished the next day.

The last two scenes show Hannah finding the article detailing Dexter’s death and a bearded Dexter, living an empty life somewhere in the the northwest, driving a lumber truck, living in a broken down room.  The final moment leaves us with Dexter staring out the window, then turning towards the camera for one final look.

And that was that. Open ended, meaningless, incomplete.

What saddens me most is not that it ended in such an incomplete and frustrating way, but that if we are to take the final scene for the ‘end’, then after all is said and done, Dexter has learned absolutely nothing. All the death and sacrifice of those around him end up being pointless.

Rather than see how his not being around would affect his son and Hannah, he selfishly chooses to wallow in his own misery. In Saxon, we are presented with a representation of what Dexter could have become if not for the code, if not for the caring of those around him, but Dexter refuses to see any of this. Instead he focuses on the darkness, falling into the same traps he always does. He blames himself for what happens to Deb, failing to see the choices she made that ultimately lead to her demise. He willingly ignores what she has told him over and over, (and the evidence that exists in his life, Hannah, Deb, Harrison) that he is a good person, a good father, a great brother, and that he deserves happiness.

Throughout the series, Dexter fears that if his family and friends knew his secret, they would recoil from him, condemn him, and in the case of Deb, turn him into the police or kill him on the spot. In almost every case, those who care for Dexter and learn his secret do no such thing. In fact, the opposite is the case. Deb is understandably shocked by what Dexter is, and it takes her a long time to come to terms with all that, but she does.  The first night she discovers his secret, Deb helps him cover up the murder. She kills Laguerta, rather than Dexter. She accepts Hannah because of Dexter. She always chooses Dexter, and Dexter’s choice to throw away his happiness out of misplaced guilt and selfishness, makes Deb’s sacrifices meaningless. This final choice makes the entire journey pointless, every lesson, every success and sadness, meaningless.

The writers of the show have said on numerous occasion that the story could never be just Dexter doing the same thing over and over, or it would be over very quickly, and for much of the story, the did not allow that to happen. They gave Dexter a life beyond killing and showed us a great deal about the human experience, about unconditional love and redemption, but then at the critical moment, when it matters most, Dexter fails to take the final step. He remains the same selfish, self absorbed creature he was from the beginning.

I had hoped for more.