Nothing but the Rain, Sir

Journal entry by Julia Lundman

One month later, I am still at a loss for words, the exact words really. A while ago a friend of mine described complicated emotions as being like a ball of yarn that has become all tangled up. The only way to untangle the yarn is to pull a little bit of this and a little bit of that until the whole thing starts to unravel. Sometimes when I’m wound up in a tight ball of emotion I listen to music in an attempt to identify the pieces that make up the tangle. Growing up in the military and moving each year to a new school whilst also thankfully studying piano, I learned that music can be a great friend to emotion; it can describe what the heart feels and words cannot.

Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Bear McCreary, who has composed some of the most painfully beautiful compositions I’ve heard since discovering Debussy and Phillip Glass.

Violence and Variations

Since the shock of discovering Jamie lying on the floor of our bedroom unable to move or speak, I’ve felt a sudden call to action, an adrenaline rush that has put me in a state of action for a full month, often times combined with absolute sleep deprivation. I’ve experienced odd physical sensations, emotional obsessions, delusions, paranoia, uncontrollable fits of tears, something more than mere thankfulness for friends, a certain terror of idleness, silence, and stillness. I’ve spent a full month feeling like a guard dog on my porch barking at anything, everything, protecting Jamie from the world, from himself, from the stroke.


Acute rehab has not only been helping Jamie relearn to walk, talk, and think; it has assisted me by providing a place away from the world where we can be together while Jamie sheds this skin and emerges again like a cicada who’s been hibernating. As this month has come to a close, acute rehab has lowered my anxiety, decreased my adrenaline rush, and helped me, along with reminders from friends Tony, Derek, Nina, and Jamie’s brother Rob, to breathe… breathe… and breathe again… I’ve finally brought the Viper into the bay, taken off my helmet and taken a long, deep breath.

“What do you hear Starbuck?”

“Nothing but the rain, sir”

“Grab your gun and bring the cat in”.

The immediate terror has passed. Jamie’s blood pressure is stabilized, we have not had brain surgery, the swelling in his skull has decreased, he is writing messages on this site. We are now left with recovery. My entire soul is committed to climbing Mount Everest with Jamie. We are looking skyward with new eyes, new
skin, and no heavy baggage to slow us down.



Gaeta’s Lament

14 thoughts on “Nothing but the Rain, Sir”

  1. Julia,
    …how beautiful. I am so moved by your total honesty & sharing. One of my greatest joys in life is being allowed to share in how other people express themselves, in the many & varied forms. Thank you so much. I’m greatly relieved to hear that things are settling down for you now, physically, mentally & emotionally. Please look after yourself, look into supporting your Adrenal Glands as best you can. Sleep as much as you can etc etc,… you know what’s right for you,…music…nature….nuture yourself as best you can, & allow yourself to say “no” when you need to. People will understand.

    At the moment you see Mt Everest, but perhaps at some stage, could that image possibly be changed, to an image/thought of something smaller, gentler, achievable, not so gigantic & daunting? When you think of it, a mountain like Everest looks huge & daunting from far away, but close up, I’m sure those who have succesfully scaled it & achieved, only saw one foot in front of the other at the time. Those footsteps are small, human, & achievable.
    Heck, even Neil Armstrong took a small step :-)

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, that I believe what we imagine, what we think & what we visualise play an underestimated but large part in what we attract to us, & how we perceive what happens to us, so although things must undoubtedly seem as challenging as climbing Mt Everest for you & James at the moment, especially given the rawness of your experience on so many levels & the processing of all that. I’m hoping that down the track a bit, that perhaps you’ll feel more inspired to imagine not a mountain to be conquered, but rather a journey that you are achieving every day.

    At least that’s how I see it. A month must seem like a year at this point, but for me, on the outside looking in, & without the day-to-day that you both face, to me it seems like you have already both accomplished so much, & every day you are both achieving more & more. It can only get better & better.

    However, while you are still in the throes of climbing Mt Everest, know that you don’t do it alone. Like Sir Edmund Hilary’s ascent, we are all hanging on every word, every bit of news that you both send us, & we are all with you in Spirit. Perhaps Jamie’s stroke may even have triggered a few little Everests of our own. It’s all for the good.
    Also know, that when you get tired of climbing, that you can also be carried :-) until you feel steady enough to climb some more.

    Thank you for your wonderful sharing posts & for all your love for James.
    Rest. Sleep. Take care of yourself. Sending you & James a big, squeezy, virtual hug,…and lots and lots of LOVE. xoxoooo

    …would that cicada be a Floury Baker?…
    — Janine Dawson, January 30, 2013

  2. What a lovely piece, Julia. I think you and James should write a book together about all of this–you could alternate perspectives on a chapter by chapter basis! You are both such gifted writers and talented souls!We are all thinking of you constantly here in VA!
    Priscilla and the Blacksburg Bakers
    — Priscilla Baker, January 30, 2013

  3. That was beautifully written, Jules. You’re a talent in so many ways. Hang in there and keep giving yourself and Jamie hugs from us. He will recover if only because the two of you are so determined to make it happen. Strokes have nothing against the power of Jamulia! (TM).
    Thank you both for updating this and it’s amazing we can all follow you on this journey. I loved Jamie’s last post on the horrors and humiliations of going to the bathroom. Poignant but remarkably strong.
    — Adelle Caunce, January 30, 2013

  4. Tis Beth here again. I read Julia’s moving update which was much appreciated. It oddly enough brought a flood of humorous Jamie memories – lunch time swims with you in a shamelessly miniscule Speedo, one too many Long Island Ice Teas in a bar in the Castro during a heated political conversation, interrupted by a military type who did not approve of our conduct, cowboy picnic in Golden Gate Park . . . .
    While mulling over these past thoughts, the reality of every day is my kid, Max. He is big into emulation. His dad recently recovered from a kidney stone which prompted little man (aka Max) to announce yesterday that he has a kidney stone is his throat (with fake cough sounds added for effect).

    Sending good thoughts to you and Julia.
    Best, beth
    — Beth Segal, January 30, 2013

  5. So jimmy I’m working in Sydney for a stretch co-directing a feature. Blinky Bill. I’m doing the production design as well. The important part of that is lunch today with some crusty old timers who were shocked and dismayed about your setback. Steve Cooper was one, who sends his fond regards. I took the opportunity to expound your finer qualities as the consummate professional you are, which I took a great deal of pride in so doing. Just in case you didn’t already know it, you have a lot of genuine mates. It doesn’t get better than that.
    — Deane Taylor, January 31, 2013

  6. James,
    I dont know how many times I’ve tried logging in and started this a number of times in airports and the like but found it hard to write. Life here seems so normal (well kinda) by comparison.

    I found yours and Julias posts very touching along with people from every far flung corner of the globe. We are so proud of your spectacular effort and progress. (Even if I do now have an image of you in a shower which overwrote my previous image of you in jocks in a tent – mmmm).

    Langy and I caught up on Skype and he sends all his best along with Will Thompson who I had Breakfast wiith this morning. Cheryl sends her love and so too from Ben and Davey – who still remember Mr Baker and we still take pride in seeing your name when we watch ‘your’ movies (Wall E was on last week) and Ratatoullie (i can never spell that) .
    Like I say, our life is pretty normal – kids went back to school yeaterday and Cheryl is sitting here putting timetables into their cumpolsory standard issue ‘iPads’ – doesnt every school kid have one. Ben was a Ball boy at the Austrlaian Open Tennis across the holidays so thats our latest ‘big news’.

    Julia, even though we haven’t met as yet, I’m so heartened to read your posts and support for a great hearted man. You know big fella we’re rootin for you from Downunder Melbourne.

    Pete, Cheryl Ben, Davey and lovely little Lucy
    — Peter Lawlor, January 31, 2013

  7. Jamie and Julia,
    Thinking of you both, and wanting to thank you so much for what you’ve been sharing. It’s incredibly moving to get such honest accounts of what you’re lives have been like this past month. You are SUCH courageous and powerful individuals, and it’s an honor to bear witness to it, if even from afar. Sending huge love and so many positive thoughts all round,

    Larissa, Steve and Zadie
    — Larissa Martin, February 3, 2013

  8. Hiya Jamie, Julia and Robbie,
    Great to see you at your Jamie-side post, Rob. Thanks a bunch for your pungent, insightful and wonderfully well expressed bulletin to the family network. Please don’t even dream of reluctance to send regular further ones; the one just now was well up to the standard of those previously sent.

    Congratulations, Jamie, on the fortitude and persistence with which you’ve embraced the effort at self-mending in collaboration with the various therapists who wish to see you mended. It all makes a father very proud (Wendy will have some words of her own to say at the end of this), among that legion of all your other well- wishers, as well as being buoyed-up by the news of the progress you are all making.

    Julia, you may remember my saying to you in Saintes last year how glad I was that you and Jamie had found each other. The same still applies – with bells and whistles on. We regard you as an absolute Godsend, and can’t thank you enough for the depth of your commitment to old Whatshisname. God bless you both, and Robbie.
    Love, Dad

    Dad has expressed our thoughts so much better than I could on your efforts, James, and the wonderful support from ‘the troops’! Thanks Rob and Julia (and Jo in recent times)! We scour the emails and are buoyed by them all as you make your beaut, brave steps towards recovery, James! Love to all!
    — Dad & Wendy Baker, February 5, 2013

  9. Hey Jamie,
    Apparently, I am the last person to hear about all this. Glad to hear you’re improving. A local guy had a pretty bad stroke a little over a year ago, and today he’s like his old self – for what it’s worth. Just got to keep at it.

    I found a few letters I’d written to Mom when I was in Taipei on Toaster. It stirred up some long stored memories of Chinese New Year, with fireworks CONSTANTLY going off, and Chinese kids with gauze patches over their eyes from bottle rocket mishaps. Were you there for the big party the Wanger threw for the whole studio? They gave out washing machines and microwaves and stereos – like a game show. I wrote about it on my FLIP blog.

    I’ve been clearing out my dad’s house, where I grew up. Strange and sad and interesting at the same time. I am finding cool stuff like Dad’s Navy uniform from WWII – he was on a destroyer in the Pacific Fleet. I also found his discharge papers, some letters he wrote home, and a Japanese rifle with bayonet. What I’ll do with it, I don’t know. Just keep it, I guess.

    Is there any old crap that you collect? I know you were into Civil War stuff – haven’t come across any of that though – but I haven’t even touched the attic yet. Hey, how ’bout dem Niners? Remember when we went to the Exploratorium while they beat Cincinnati? North Beach was out of control that night.

    That’s all for now. We’ll go for a pint when you’re up and at ’em, okay?No straws! Steve
    — Steve Moore, February 5, 2013

  10. Hey there Jamie! I’m sitting on Beth’s sofa making sure nothing befalls her kid, while she is off having cocktails with Mike Smith. How did that work out? It’s grand having some of our dear Colossal pals up here in yon Pacific Northwest. I wish you two were here too though. Wasn’t that under consideration?

    Anyway, it’s cold and rainy and I’m fat and tired and don’t have much to report, but I’m thinking of you and hoping you are feeling pretty darned good. I particularly thought of you at Target on Sunday, when I bought a new bathing suit. The old one was “so thin you could spit peas through it,” as one brilliant young sage once said.
    Lots of love to you,

    — Anne Smith, February 5, 2013

  11. Hey Jamie, Julia we’ve heard about the ass aches and the great showers… hows the food? Don’t leave us hanging out here.
    — Tony Stacchi, February 5, 2013

  12. Julia kindly gave me this link but before I could send you a message I suddenly had to pop down to lovely, slightly soggy Devon. Just a quick hello for now to let you know I am thinking of you. I Will immerse myself in all of Julia’s up-dates & your guestbook messages….intrigued about the ass aches?

    Will be back in touch when I am up to date…. But first not
    knowing if you can stalk on FB here is a link to a colleagues planned movie…. One year. One film, One second a day. Each month will be posted… bit of silliness for you

    Keep strong both of you & much love
    Bye for now…. xx
    Duh! I think I blew that link…. I try again…

    — Kim Craste, February 6, 2013

  13. Yo Jamie
    I just read while getting in here for a stckybeak at the latest entries that your Guestbook has had no visitors today, which seemed a shame. It might mean, of course, no more than that it’s some ungodly early hour of the day there.
    Just in case, I’ll beam all the encouraging thoughts and love that I’m capable of in your direction. I don’t suppose I could interest you in a few inches of dog dung (wink, wink, nudge, nudge; code!!).
    Love, Dad
    — Rob Baker, February 7, 2013

  14. “And will you succeed?
    Yes! You will, indeed!
    (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)
    be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
    Today is your day!
    Your mountain is waiting.
    So…get on your way!”
    Dr. Seuss,
    Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
    Always thinking and praying for you both! -r.
    — Roque Ballesteros, February 7, 2013


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