I Remember...., Ideas and Musings


“Children see magic because they look for it.” -Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal.

I remember the first time I performed magic. My mom, brothers and I were on our way back from Dover Minnesota where we’d been visiting my mom’s best friend and her kids. We switched off, this year we went to them, next year, they’ll come to Omaha.  It was October 30th, a day before Halloween when we started for home.

Half way into our 8-hour drive, the car decided to have a fit and die. There we are, in a town that was lucky to even have a motel for us to stay in, praying that they could fix the car. Mom sat in the waiting room, dejected, because they had already told her that the engine had seized. They didn’t think the car would ever start again.

Now, you have to understand. To a nine-year-old Karin and a five-year-old Rick and a four-year-old Kelly, this was devastating. We’d already spent the night in the motel instead of at home, and it was HALLOWEEN! The day when we get as much candy as we wanted! We were supposed to be home getting ready to go trick or treating!

We sat in the backseat of the car while the mechanics lifted and lowered the car, still poking at it because they had no other customers and what the hell. Today, we wouldn’t be able to get near the car, but this was a different age and if kids wanted to sit in the backseat, no one cared.

There we sat, me in the middle. Finally, I said to my brothers, “This car needs to start, we should use our mind powers to start it!” Of course, they didn’t really understand what I was talking about but my brothers have always been game. We held each other’s hand and focused all of our attention on the idea of starting the car. We pushed, we pressured, and we persevered.

Damned if that car didn’t start. Mechanics flabbergasted because they hadn’t actually been doing much. They turned it off, and then restarted it. Yep, somehow, they’d managed to fix it. But I know it was the combined brain power of us Armbrust Kids. It was magic!

We ran into the waiting room. “Mom! Mom! We started the car with our brain power!” we yelled. “Don’t tease me,” mom said. “No, no! Listen! Do you hear that car? That’s our car!”

We made it home for Halloween, ensuring a running start on our diabetes. Heh heh…

More Magic

While I’m sure that many times I’ve done magic without knowing it. I do have two other stories where I discovered that I’d inadvertently used magic.  Both times were when I was a server at the Washington Athletic Club in Downtown Seattle.

BLT Sandwiches

One day I was working and for some reason, a lot of people were ordering BLT sandwiches. Now, I love BLTs. Seeing all of those BLTs created a deep desire in me. Everyone got a meal during their shift, but bacon was off the table. Too expensive for us lackeys.

I became obsessed. All I could think about were BLTs. I could barely work. The kitchen started making “mistakes.” Something, although nothing that I really understood, was wrong with the BLTs coming out of the kitchen. I ended up with 3 BLT sandwiches. I actually had to share to get them all eaten!

Was it a coincidence? Maybe. Did the cooks see me struggling with my desire and decide to give me a treat? Maybe. But I think it was magic!


One day, the bartender didn’t show up for work for the lunch shift. I was given the job of keeping an eye on the bar. No one came in. No one ever goes to the bar during lunch. So, it was a matter of peeking in there periodically.

Being the curious being I was, I ended up behind the bar looking at all the bottles and checking out the setup. There, amongst the bottles, was a bottle of Sambuca.

I spent two years in Sicily when I was in the Navy, and while I was there, my liquor of choice was Sambuca. I love Sambuca.

So, there’s the bottle sitting there looking at me. I look at the bottle. It looks back at me. I pick it up and think about pouring myself a shot but the damn thing has a shot counter on it. They’d find out. I really don’t understand why they have to have shot counters! Don’t they trust us? You’d think they thought we’d get into all the bottles while on duty. I’m so offended.

No Sambuca for me.

I get home that night and my roommate Dave comes in with a bag filled of liquor bottles. He’s unpacking the bag, and there, sitting with the other bottles, is a bottle of Sambuca.

He picks it up, looks at it, and says, “Not sure why I got this, I like Ouzo.”  Shrugs his shoulders.

I know why he bought it. He bought it for me. Coincidence? I think not! It was magic!

The Cost of Magic

I believe that everything is energy. I say I believe but I’m pretty sure science is right there with me. The idea is that energy can never be destroyed or created, it just transforms.

When I, or anyone, does magic, we are transforming magic from one to another. This brings up some ethical issues.

It flies along with the Pie theory of abundance. If you have something, then someone is doing without it. If I think this way then when I do magic, I’m taking from someone else for my own benefit. So, it seems selfish.

Some people think that there always have to be a cost, and if it’s not paid by another person, you have to pay it yourself. I have a friend who is in a group that performs magic. One of the people in the group has been getting sicker and sicker every time they do anything. Part of me wonders if that person isn’t taking on the cost of magic herself.

I noticed that after both the BLT and the Sambuca magic, I got sick. I think I’m one of the people who think that I have to pay to do magic. It made me nervous. Nervous enough that I didn’t want to do magic.

The Future of my own Magic

The thing is, I do think everything is energy. And that it’s all infinite. Who says that it has to be a human being that pays? Or even an animal or plant? Or that rock there? Or the Earth? Our solar system? Does there even have to be a payment? Does there have to be a cost?

The number of points between two points is infinite. Quantum Physics has blown our minds with the idea that how we experience our world may not be reality. The idea of the cost of magic may be too linear. Too cause and effect. Too limited to be the truth.

I find myself drawn toward magic, but I don’t want to hurt anyone or anything, especially myself. Maybe that cost is all in my mind. If I can let that go, maybe I can be powerful beyond my own imagination. Maybe I can perform serious magic, and not just get sick over three BLTs. Or start the car because I want to go trick or treating.

Maybe I can be the magical being that I am. With care, and with the intention to hurt no one and nothing, I can be a force in the Universe. Maybe we all can…