Tom's Hedonic Clouds

    1998. A year of absolute highs and bottomless lows. My painting business was really kicking into high gear; I spent Christmas in my first house, and was expanding my studio--buying everything I could with all my extra painting money. On a miserable note, my step-father, Robert Williams, passed away the first week of March. In October of that year, I would finish my first CD, and dedicate it to his memory. What an inspiration he was--and still is. On an almost daily basis, I feel he's watching over me, and probably getting yet another 'last laugh' in when I struggle with repairs around the house.

    And how appropriate is it that Chris Isaak's, 'Wicked Games' just now came on the radio. I was trying to find a way to segue into the point of this story, and the XM-Radio DJ lent a hand. Thanks, dude! Anyway, here's the story:

    My good friend Michael O'Laughlin and I decided to take a week-long road trip (over the Memorial Day weekend) to Dallas to visit his mom and sister. I had no idea what was in store for me once I arrived, but all the preparation in the world couldn't have prevented my eyes from having a heart attack once I met Angela. Besides meeting her, everything that took place over the next few days was like a dream (and I'm certain not to forget all the brilliant moments that took place just on the drive down, and on the way back, too). It would take literally 30 - 40 pages of journal writing to cover a fraction of all that happened, so I won't even begin. But everytime I look back at the trip, I get a little chill--the good kind, for sure. Maybe someday I'll recount it all, as I know people would enjoy reading about it.


     So as a result of that dream-like moment in time, Michael created a chart. A chart based on what it's like to be on Cloud 9. You see, that's what we talked about for most of the trip back. How it felt to live everyday on Cloud 9. While stuffing M&M's into my mouth, I continued my juvenile thought process with, "Man, when I saw Angela, that was like Cloud 10 or something..."  I further added that, "...the Flashback (roller coaster) ride with her at Six Flags almost put me on Cloud 11, but at least Cloud 10;...maybe 10.5...But Mr. Freeze was a mere Cloud 9 since Angela bolted towards the Chicken Exit right as we boarded." And how could I forget listening to the Chris Isaak CD in her room,...well, you get the picture. So many moments engrained into my memory.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

That's where the following came from. As childish as it may seem, I'm sure you'll find it a nice distraction if you try it yourself. A good way to gage how your day, is presently going, and where you'd like it to be. It's fun to think about, for instance, what your favorite place to visit would be; and if you were there, how would the weather be...? Would they serve your favorite food with a to-die-for dessert menu; the best-ever music playing in the background; the Sun begging for a few more moments of your time... How do you relate your Heaven (or Hell) on Earth?

Cloud 0: Absolute agony. Better off dead. Suicide preferable to life.

Cloud 1: Life's a shambles. Hit rock bottom. Utter despair. Only thing going is living, and that's of questionable worth.

Cloud 2: Things falling apart rapidly. No sense of future. Struggle to survive. General sense of futility.

Cloud 3: Things are slipping away. Desperate to turn things around. Panic and despair.

Cloud 4: Things are bad. The situation is grim. Future looks bleak. Just treading water.

Cloud 5: Feeling insecure. Unsure what future holds. Living on a prayer.

Cloud 6: Things are shaky. A few disruptions but are riding it out. Hopeful for the future.

Cloud 7: Have basic security and comfort. Future looks positive but a lot of work ahead.

Cloud 8: Things are good. Have hit your stride. Good outlook for the future. Feeling of well being. Dreams seem within reach. Future looks bright.

Cloud 9: Traditional Heaven. Things are great. Feeling fine, secure and confident. Hitting on all cylinders. The world is your oyster.

Cloud 10: True Bliss. At peace with the world. Radiating good will.

Cloud 11: Nirvana. Feeling euphoric. Nothing can go wrong and you can do no wrong.

Cloud 12: Cosmic benevolence. In harmony with the universe. Feel god-like. Peace and love emanate from you.

Cloud 13: Metaphysical transcendence. Death by pleasure. Corporal body insufficient to contain joy and love.

1998 Michael O'Laughlin


Music of Tommy  No longer across from the school in Appleton City, MO


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