Saturday, November 30, 2013

I've gotten a lot better about it, but...


James Baldwin as an ally...


“To accept one’s past – one’s history – is not the same thing as drowning in it; it is learning how to use it. An invented past can never be used; it cracks and crumbles under the pressures of life like clay in a season of drought.” 

“People can cry much easier than they can change.” 

“All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.” 

“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” 

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” 

It's ironic in a way that I had to go to college to find James Baldwin, but I've ended up learning more from him than I learned in college.  It was a question of having to live a long time beyond college for James Baldwin to find me!  There were no points of reference in my narcissistic, self-absorbed adolescence, an adolescence that extended well into my forties, to facilitate the assimilation of this wisdom.  It was a question of turning away from the mirror and from looking at the increasing worry and grief lines on my face, and looking at and listening to other people.  Only then was it possible to take these as lessons.  Only then was it possible to see him for what he was/is -- as beautiful a soul as ever existed in our world.  

There were a few teachers back there in school who had faith in my ability to learn and grow.  Several tried repeatedly to pull me away from the mirror, and a select few who actually tried to raise my arm to smash that mirror so that I might finally turn away from it.  Everything in it's own time though, is the truth of and for most young men.  All balls and no brains might be the apt descriptor.  You can't learn until you sidestep your fear of being less than a man and admit how little you really know.  

Lessons learned, better late than never.  




Insomnia


Not quite.  

Call it one of those slow drifts like when you're traveling the highway late at night, many miles to go before you sleep, and all that, but your horse hasn't the foggiest where to go and you're just done so you're not really at the reins.  Every so often your vehicle drifts across the double line into the oncoming lane and you get a hell of a fright with big rigs overloaded with skeletons and driven by ghosts are bearing down and they hit the airhorn that sends you scudding back to reality.

Reality.  

Right.

So it was in and out all night, having fallen out early on a friend's sofa and then lead-footing it home in the wee, cold, cold hours.  It made no sense to stay, probably because it made perfect sense to stay, but that's not going to make any sense at all to most of you.  It's just an act of will.  If you're going to deal with the skeletons from the astral diesels it's probably best doing it home in the company of your trusty dog and your books and your music.  No sense in everyone staying up, right?  That, and his bricks smelled like dirty laundry and fried something.  Fried laundry?

This terrorist worm that's been gnawing it's way through my vitals... ugh... my vitals for victuals?  Sorry.  It seems to have mostly lost it's appetite and it's been lying in a big hard ball in my mid-section since late afternoon yesterday, so the dog and I took it out for a walk, figuring maybe we'd freeze it out.  Miss Jane Pitbull gets squirrelly when she sees I'm feeling poorly so she sits closer and moves more slowly.  No bouncing about.  Every so often yesterday she would hop up on the bed and stand right over my face just looking at me, her brow furrowed more deeply.  She dared not even wag her tail too hard for fear of tilting my machine and sending my balls scuttling down into the gutter.  I've witnessed some incredibly intuitive canines in my life, but these acts of empathy and compassion never fail to move me.  They're closer to human than humans that way sometimes.  She came up and checked every so often, pressing her muzzle against my face, and then wheeled around and went back to the foot of the bed, where she just sat there looking.  

Not to be melodramatic but I still wonder where she came from and I wonder how often she attended these sickbed rituals.  Maybe it's just in her blood.  So we took the worm for a walk and it seemed to cool it down a bit more and now it's still there, but in a tight knot, immobile.  No more waves of heat and throbbing lights and pain, that kept me immobile for a good part of the preceding twenty-four.  Kept everything but my brain immobile.  What was it Sherman Alexie said about everyone being in the doorway of their own personal prison?  Well, yesterday my brain decided to walk the cell block and poke around every cell.  There was no avoiding it.  No "move a muscle, change a thought."  None of it is anywhere nearly as scary as it used to be, but I still prefer to revisit at my leisure and at a time of my choosing.  There was no choosing yesterday.  Nor last night.  

OPEN 24 HOURS

There have been colder pre-dawns but maybe most everybody is laying in this morning, sleeping off Leftover Day, or Black Friday, or however they decided to spend it.  I don't blame them.  It's not, as I said, the coldest morning, but it's kind of a penetrating cold of the kind you're going to feel whether or not you've got an alien invader deep in you somewhere, sleeping off its own Leftover Day.  Still, in between rubbing at my ears with the damn-fuck-you-idiot-where-is-your-hat intensity, and making sure Jane wasn't digging her nose into piles of this or that, there was time to take inventory.  There are two reasons for these walks and I never know which it's going to be until I'm out there at about the 1 mile marker.  The first would be the days where it's just about counting steps and consciously not looking at anything.  Just clearing the head.  A meditative thing.  You should try it some time.  Just walk and count steps.  Focus on the numbers and only the numbers.  Make sure your mobile is all the way off so nothing breaks in.  Just focus on counting and breathing until you get a rhythm going between the number of steps and the number of breaths.  I can't say where that will take you, aside from a few miles from home, but it puts me in this in-between place where I'm here but in that other place at the same time.  On a good day, and these days are not so few in number, answers come.  Don't ask me where they come from, and it's none of your business what questions I'm looking for answers to, but you can guess.  The human repertoire isn't all that varied.  We all want the same things, deep down.  

The second type of walkabout is the inventory, and that's what this morning was.  I go into my mental and spiritual bodega and count up the items on the shelf.  Yesterday being Black Friday, the shelves were in pretty bad shape.  There was no rational order to anything in the store.  There were items with damaged packaging.  There were items well past their expiration date.  They can go, and probably the sooner the better, so I'll be working on that.  I walked and worked on this until my feet hurt and the dog was looking at me sideways, like, "Dad, it's really well past fucking time to head home."  Yes, in my mental dialogue with my dog, she curses like a sailor.  You'd have to see her face to understand.  She has a filthy mouth.  You can tell.  It's in the eyes.  The upshot of this is that once again I dug in and cleaned up some and found that most of the items I'll need for now are in good supply.  

Most.  

Faith and willingness always seem to be running low.  Life sometimes require that we use an awful lot of that so it's rare that you take stock and don't have to replenish that section of the candy shelf.  I'll work on that today.  

And sleep.  It seems that sleep has been in short supply, but we'll pick up some Faith and clean up some of the fear grime that builds up in the corners.  I imagine faith and willingness come in little drums like Ajax.

Or Jesus-in-a-Drum?  

Sorry.  Pretty corny, but that's what came to mind, this old comedy skit that crazy-ass Petey Warren used to repeat when we were drinking.  "You do not NEED Janitor In A Drum.  You need JESUS in your drum!"  Lordy, and I don't even know if Petey Warren is dead or alive.  Either way, he's a ghost now he's so far in the past.  As far back as anybody or anything can be really, considering all the shit that seems show up at will as soon as you close your eyes and drift off to sleep.  

I do need to sleep though.  No joke with that.  These ghosts belong on the sleep side, and without enough sleep they come and go at will when you're wide awake.  There's enough to deal with out there right in the here and now without choruses from the past following you around like minstrels.  I've always wanted theme music like a superhero, but that shit is... much.  

Beyond the internal inventory, there are always things to be done.  Tangible things, like groceries and picking up dog food and toilet paper.  We'll get a few of those done and then try to revive the relationship with the mattress, who has been an unwilling lover lately.  She's holding out on me.

Selah.  

Friday, November 29, 2013

Time Capsule

more via the afro-modernist

This is the most precious find today from my daily dig.  There are more cards at the link above.  The attendant blog, the afro-modernist, is a treasure trove of nostalgia, information and guideposts connecting the past to the future.  I've only just begun going through it and I'm humbled.  My blogging tends to be more scattershot, touching a bit of here and there and everywhere.  I admire those, like the curator of the afro-modernist, for their focus and dedication.

'Til ? do us part?

more at Spoon & Tomago

Notes From the Underground

from the Coyote Den, as it were...

"I am a sick man.  I am a spiteful man.  I'm an unattractive man.  I think there is something wrong with my liver."  ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky

And there you have it, perhaps the most stunning first lines every committed to a novel, from F.D.'s Notes From the Underground.  It comes up abruptly from below like a fist hard beneath the ribcage.  A punch you weren't expecting from a stranger on the train, and the ache it leaves in your soft tissue and organs lingers for days, like the remains of eating something that had gone a bit off.

You don't even have to know what the symptoms are.  You hear liver and you feel the nausea and the bile burn and the icy, slick sweat that drips from the backs of your ears and your neck onto your belly and thighs while you sit feverish on the edge of the bed -- wondering if you should head for the porcelain or just give up where you are.  You just know it's bad.

You dig further into Dostoevsky and find Raskolnikov lying in bed overcome with a deathly fever and pain and horrible visions.  What is it with the Russians that they know disease so well?  Are they sickly lot?  Do they just drink too much?  Why is it that they can articulate it better than any other race?  They've a knack for it.

I've never written about being sick before and find myself short on words.  Sickness, having woken up so many mornings (and afternoons) in the throes of pretty much self-inflicted illness and what an old friend used to call ginfluenza, seemed redundant, or rather writing about it did.  Yet having spent so much time sick one might think that I'd have a glossary and a thesaurus of descriptive words and phrases.  The truth is, I never bothered, and why should I when the Russians are doing so well at it.

Whenever it struck, was fairly frequently for many years, I deferred to Fyodor.  It went beyond the queasy, yellow horror into fear, and dread, and self-loathing.  It went straight into the existential nightmare of "this is going to last forever," and foxhole prayers for relief.  After several decades, the prayers had been swallowed up by the laughing, dark acceptance of having turned into something quite... other.

"Other."  Seems the words aren't quite there for that one either.

I just accepted it and tried to remain motionless until it passed, and then I stood up and staggered forward.  Strange though, to find myself so far removed from, or what seemed farther from, the old routines and the whole life, in the grips of something that feels too familiar, but that I have no real words to describe.  Is it a delayed reaction to bad sushi from... from when?  Tuesday?  Monday?  Is it a legitimate flu?  Something I ate or didn't eat yesterday?  I just feel...

I just feel... It's like some ailments feel invasive.  Like something from the outside has come in and is wrecking your internal furniture.  Then there are some that are more like part of you has gone terribly, terribly bad and is eating the other parts alive.

And I have no words really because I have no vocabulary.  My liver feels bruised.  The word "toxic" comes to mind though I have no real point of reference for what being poisoned may feel like.  I have to defer to Fyodor.  He knew.  I know he knew because I felt it within four short sentences, right down to the aching burn behind the eyes.

It's like writing about love and sex.  I always avoided any mention in my writing even when I knew I needed to include these parts because they were in the story as it came to me.  Every attempt rattled out in cliches that were like the ugly, bastard children of a Hallmark card and the Hustler Forum.   And it's not that I never see the same thing in published novels.  These parts often sound too familiar and forced and childish... one cut above drunk kids bullshitting to each other in a college dorm.

Yet where do we go when we need to get it across?  Readers/listeners seem more than comfortable with the tired cliches.  If you want to get from A to B... if you want to cross the divide you need to jump or fly.  There are only so many ways to get there.

This could be tagged #writingchallenges.  Things just fall short, and there is no real reason to not be able to accurately and succinctly describe what I feel so vividly.  It's not enough to say that "I feel like shit."  It doesn't really cover it if I want someone to know what I'm feeling, even if it's something they are more than familiar with.

I don't know.  I've got Fyodor.  Take the above words.  They fit.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Junior's Brooklyn

Bodegaland Part ?

If you close the door

The night will last forever.
And if you close the door
I'll never have to see the sun again

Yup...

Bumper sticker of the year. Driving ain't so bad.

The Dipsomania Gene


So this study suggests that alcoholism is genetic, not so much in that there is a specific gene for it, but that there is a specific gene mutation that causes alcoholism.  It's a variation on a theme that we had pretty much figured out already, but didn't have the details on.  Is it the same mutation that causes other addictions?  Is it tied into the frontal lobe variation studies that have been published?  Will science and medicine try to make the connection?

So what now?  Will we eventually come to a place where we have GMO people who don't suffer from chemical addictions?  That would be kind of cool in a way because we would eventually see that people can really be dicks with or without drinking.  Time shall tell.


Happy Thanksgiving

You're going to hear this a lot today, whether or not you want to.  It's going to be painful if you're in the latter group.  It will be said warmly and sincerely, accompanied by handshakes, and full-on hugs and bro-hugs.  It will be shouted by neighbors from across the street when all you want to do is take the garbage out quietly.  You're going to hear it from strangers when you make a run to the store for random items like coffee filters and cigarettes.  It's unavoidable.

It will probably not end today either.  You're going to hear about it through the next work week:

What did you do for Thanksgiving?

Did you see family?

Oh my God, I can't believe how much I ate!

Look at this waistline!  I must have put on 10 pounds!

Maybe a bit of backtracking in order before moving on here.  This is not a cynical rant.  This is not a kind of Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino, Get Off My Lawn crabfest.  There is a point, which I will get to in a moment.  This may all bring you a wealth of joy and happiness and holiday warmth.  That's great!  So happy for you!  You may, on the other hand, not be feeling very thankful at the moment and all these rites and words of celebrations will scuff and tear and fall like hammer blows.

I'm kind of in-between camps this year, but this is addressed to those finding themselves outside the spirit entirely.  I've spent a lot of days there, maybe even most of my days, and you know something?  That's perfectly okay, or at least it can be.  Nobody can tell you how and why and when and how much thankfulness you should have, or what you should be thankful for.  Frankly, that's a lot of bullshit and people need to check themselves.  No joke.

Gratitude is like a greased pig.  It's goddamn hard to catch sometimes and harder still to hold onto.  Some people can never find it no matter how much they have to be grateful for.  That rankles, but I've learned that that's a special kind of malady and it's a burden I hope to never own.  Most of us, and an increasing number of us, will never have the luxury of being a real ingrate.  How's that?  I said it.  These are hard times and there is a growing number of people struggling to get from Point A to Point B, Point B being that point where you're just up the hill enough from broke that you don't have to be late with the rent to buy groceries on any given week -- where you don't have to skip the electric bill for a month to pay the gas, and so on.  There is a growing number of people for whom any economic insecurity beyond Point B is a luxury.  There is a difference between economic insecurity and hardship.  Anyone can have the former, okay?

That's just the beginning of the hardship inventory.  It would be condescending to go down a list of all the events that can smack gratitude right out of your ballpark in a late season exhibition game.  Suffice to say anybody can be in a place where words like Happy Thanksgiving evoke a sharp burn in the pit of the stomach.  If you feel that burn, let go of the guilt that goes with it.  You owe nothing.

Nothing.

That's not to say I feel that burn right now.  The only thing I feel very strongly is that I've had too little sleep or not enough coffee.  We'll call that a luxury problem because I wasn't up until 3 a.m. sweating anything.  I was talking with a friend and reading.  I'm not overwhelmed by gratitude and thankfulness either, nor do I feel compelled to be.

This past year has been a mixed bag.  Since hardship is really a relative concept, we'll leave it at that.  I've struggled with things that go beyond simple economic insecurity.  Point B has been a distant peak at different points, somewhere out on the horizon.  There have been family issues.  There have been health issues.  There have been various personal issues.  That's my list.  It's not been an easy year, and much of what makes it hardship is that I'm only just addressing these things head-on for the first time in my life.  It would have been a tad easier had some of them been taken care of in say... 1986.

It's not a lack of gratitude that I'm feeling.  I learned very early on in this more recent process of growth and healing to consciously address the gratitude thing.  Keep it simple and honest and take a regular inventory of things to be grateful for.  Nobody ever said that I needed to feel grateful about this list every single day.  Just be honest that the list is populated with good things.  Lack of gratitude won't kill you.  Not right away anyway.  Not looking for things to be grateful for, however, leaves you in a bad spot.  It leaves you out of sight of hope.  Lack of hope will do worse than kill you.  It will leave you in a place where you want to die, even when odds are you are not going to for a long, long time.  That's worse than physical death.  Trust.  Please try.

Please.

So this in mind, these items remain on the top of my list.  I don't always feel them, but I know that they are always there.

1)  I am grateful to God, for God.  I wish I knew what the plan was or the details of what's in store for ME ME ME, but whatever.

2)  I am grateful for 2nd chances.  And 3rd, and 4th, and so on.

3)  I am grateful to find myself in the lifeboat with good people who are as invested not only in my survival but my happiness, as they are in their own.  It was only a short time ago that I would have sworn to you and believed it that no such people existed.  I was wrong.  Sometimes I feel I don't deserve them, but they don't give up on me.

4)  I am grateful that I have lived long enough to grow up.  The 4a on this is that I am grateful that as I grow up, I am seeing the world through the new, fresh, clean eyes of a child.

5)  I am grateful that fear has been scaled away like a reptile sheds it's skin and becomes shiny and new.  Or maybe more aptly like a caterpillar transforms from its cocoon...

6)  I am grateful to have the opportunity to be part of something good, and this goes right back around in a circle to the first item on the list.  I have the opportunity to be useful to other human beings, and that really is my purpose, after all.

There are days when this doesn't seem enough and real gratitude and the joy it brings is elusive, yet I know these things are real.  That carries me.

That carries me.

I'm not going to wish anybody a Happy Thanksgiving.  I will wish that everyone gets through whatever they may be feeling that they may eventually come to a place where they can give thanks happily.  I think that's what it is about, the happiness that simply being grateful can bring.  That is beyond the joy of abundance and it has to be, doesn't it, until we all share that abundance?

Selah.




Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Fahrenheit 451 NYC

Since my house is not on fire I can only assume they are here for my books. Nobody else in the building has ever seen one from the sound of things.

NSFW = Not Safe For Wha????


via Juxtapoz Magazine

The lines between pornography, erotica and just plain goofy seem as subjective and arbitrary as national borders in Middle East politics.  Where this falls is entirely beyond me.  I'm sure there are comic book fanatics who will want to collect these.   My curiosity didn't penetrate the farther reaches of the article, but from what I saw I'm glad I didn't see the The Incredible Hulk.

Push my buttons.

via GUTS

A million songs about rain...

And you're lying in bed at 6 a.m., with the rain snapping against the window and the dead leaves out back, pushing into the winter, and you can't find the words, but you know exactly why there are so many. There is a different quality of rain for every feeling you will ever be capable of feeling and probably then some.  Some good, some bad, some in-between, but somewhere, somehow.  Rain is an emotional encyclopedia written in a language we haven't learned yet.
We can write about it, and sometimes quite well, but our words only ever just touch on the whole truth. Tangent to some natural gospel that connects us to the whole.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Regrets, I've had a few...

"Do you have any regrets?"

It wasn't an accusation.  There was a time when I would have taken it as such, but she just wanted to know.  

"Of course," I answered, trying to mask the last of the vestigial indignation.  "I do regret that I hurt a lot of people.  I betrayed people.  Stole.  I was dishonest.  I hurt people.  I can't take that back and I can't make it up to most of them."  

She ruminated on that for a bit.  Lips pursed.  Chin back.  Eyes narrowed.  She was going to go further.  That's the face people make when they're going to push it a bit more.  I hate that face.  No, it's not a question of hate.

Fear?  I resisted the urge to shift in my seat.  To squirm.  

"Do you regret hurting yourself?"

That's the one that smart people ask.  The "do you regret hurting others" is the obvious one.  Everyone goes there.  It's not just a question of "did you hurt other people" but "do you regret it."  That's how most people will measure you, maybe because they measure themselves that way, or maybe that's the way they want to be seen.  The sort that regrets what they did to other people.  What other mark of decency is there?  What other scars?  How do you bear your scars?  How do you bare your scars?  

In fairness, it's the default answer too.  It hides a lot.  Oh, woe is me.  This is my burden.  I am at heart a decent person but I bear the weight of my sins.  Blah blah.

She went to the other question though.  How do you feel about what you've put yourself through?  Perhaps the answer there is the real telling answer.  You have to like yourself to have that manner of regrets, right?  You have to have some self esteem.  Some feeling of self-worth.  Not pride, or ego, but self-worth.  There is a difference.  

She went there.  And now how to phrase this correctly, so it didn't come off wrong?  So she won't think I'm... something?  How to answer this when there was no longer any hiding the uneasy shift from left cheek to right?  

"Hmmmm.  Well, the price was much higher than I would have expected."

"The price?  Higher?"  She looked almost amused.  Not sneering.  Almost amused.

"I don't know quite the words.  The toll.  It almost killed me.  I mean.  Hmmm...."  

She sat back and settled in.  She knew I would keep going and she was along for the ride.

"I don't know if I would make the same choices knowing what I know now.  I might have tried to find another way through it.  There might have been an easier way than... I made bad choices.  But regret?"

And I took a deep breath.

"It's a double-edged sword.  I made choices that made sense at the time and it set something in motion.  That something became its own entity and there came a point where that entity was in charge.  It took me places that I never would have been otherwise.  I saw things that I never would have seen.  

Some wonderful.

Some terrifying.

Some wonderful and terrifying at the same time.  My entire perspective now is shaped by places I've been and things I've seen.  Some of that is good and some of that is bad.  Or rather some of that is true and some is dangerously false.  Yet now with some distance and time to sort out and discard the lies and the dangerously false stuff, I'm left with a truth that civilians will rarely if ever see. 

And there's the rub."

She never took her eyes off of me, and I tried to hold her gaze too.  That takes practice, having never done it before unless I was outwardly lying but trying to convince someone otherwise.  Isn't that funny?

"When you roll into the gutter and find yourself on the outside, you can find yourself in possession of some insights about the other side of the fence.  True stuff that people over there can't see because they're too close to it.  It's invisible right under their noses.  That's why it's so easy for the bad guys on this side to take advantage because you civilians have blind spots.  

But no matter what you decide to do with it, when you come to realize that a lot of people live their whole lives based on bullshit, it's impossible to unsee that.  So when you come back into the circle there are certain ways of doing things that you have a hard time assimilating to, because you know it's a pile of crap.  You get what I'm saying?"  

She nodded, mostly I believe to show that she understood that I believed what I was saying was Gospel.  Did it make sense to her?  I probably went too far and said too much.  I could have just said yes, I regret hurting myself.  Now I'd gone and made it seem like I believed that I had some sort of special sight.  It's not really what I meant.

Regrets.  Right about this point I regretted talking too much.  That's not a new one though.  But I tried damage control, whether or not it was necessary.  Maybe she didn't want all the information I had just dumped.  

"Look, all I'm saying is I think sometimes that I'm privileged not only to have made it back but to have been out there to begin with.  It wasn't all bad."

And that probably wasn't the right answer either.  Another regret.  

"Mostly I am grateful I'm not there anymore."  And that was the truth finally, broken down to the most basic.  You can't go back and re-do it anyway.  It's not like playing ball in the street when we were all kids.  There is no do-over for interference.  There is nothing I would care or dare to repeat anyway, but real regrets?

Kind of late for all that.  

Confusion will be my epitaph...

On a Sunday mornin' sidewalk...

Wishin' Lord that I was...

It's just a shot away...


Out in the pre-dawn again this morning with Sweet Jane, it feels good... kind of... to be off the road and back to the routine.  The temperature faceplanted into the concrete on the overnight and is redlined at about 23.  There is an icon that says "feels like..." but I'll tell you what, brother.  After a certain point it just feels cold.  Okay?  It feels cold.  Like the dog stifflegs onto the front stoop and barks at the wind whipping down the street kind of cold, okay?  It's good to be out before most everyone else though, and it's unlikely that anyone will be stopping long enough to hold anyone up.

Maybe.

I stay cautious.  I've decided it's not me.  The creepy desperation you can smell now in a crowd of people, if you pay attention, is real.  Even regular people with suits and jobs are quick to snap.  You can hear them in diners and cafes and bookshops pontificating on the condition of the world and what's going to happen next and the recovery that's just around the corner.  Nobody takes on that air of superior certainty though and really believes what they're saying.  Lie-toxins drip off every word.  The bullshit is piling up deep.

These are strange times.

It's a pretty quiet morning, even now with the sun up.  All I hear down here in the Coyote Den is the wind tearing down through dead leaves and discarded scandal bags in Backyard Canyon, and the odd truck out front.  Not even the old bird upstairs is trailing about in her demented morning Santeria dances.  Lordy, maybe she's locked herself outside again or got lost on the way back from the bodega.  Ugh.  Quick prayer, because as I've said before, I have this sneaking suspicion that when she lifts off this mortal coil it's going to be me calling about the remains.  Sometimes you just know.  It's a drag to hear her clogging in her orthopedic shoes at 3 a.m. but when it gets too quiet I get the willies.

Yah, I know this is all morbid, but it's not just me.  There's been something in the air, and Miss Jane Pitbull and I can smell it.  It's usually her first, but then when I see her nose go up in the air, it alerts me too.  Something is not right.

"Oooh, a storm is threatenin'
My very life today."

We were on the last leg home this morning.  You could just see the glow up the hill over the top above 7th Avenue.  I saw one other guy walking down the hill, all bundled up, probably to a job somewhere or to open up a church.  There was one cop car making the rounds, and I wished to God they still called them Prowlers, or even Cruisers.  So I'm passing by a garage that is usually quiet but there's a light on inside and The Rolling Stones Gimme Shelter is playing at a pretty considerable volume.  It's one of those songs that usually makes me smile.  It's familiar and comfortable in that I've been listening to it since gradeschool.  I know all the words backwards and forwards.  I have many many fond memories of parties, and long drives, cover bands, concerts, etc.  Yet before 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning in Brooklyn in late November...

"If I don't get some shelter,
Oh yeah, I'm gonna fade away.

War, children
It's just a shot away.
It's just a shot away.

You just know that's not the song that someone wakes up and puts on before the coffee and the sun on a Sunday morning.  Whoever is in there is still going from Saturday night.  And when you're still going from Saturday night and you put on Apocalypse Rock, then you're in a state.

Been there too.  Yes I have.  More recently than I care to recognize and admit, but there ya go.  Not even that chemically fueled, edgy, all-night with a long day ahead state.  Just that... state.  So I figure whoever is behind those doors is feeling the same thing as me and my old dog.  There is a fear going around.  Take a moment and sniff the air.  Everyone I know, when asked says, "I'm feelin' some kinda way."  

Yah, I hear you, brother.  I hear you.  

I thought about the song a bit while I was settling in to my coffee and my inside routine... thawing my fingers.  I thought about the stuff in the entertainment world that's had everyone's knickers in a twist this year.  Robin Thicke got more than his share of ink for a mediocre career and a stolen melody.  Then Mr. Achy-Breaky's nubile daughter has had her cameltoe all over the news too, and as frightening as that is for a second, I suppose, what is it really in comparison to what we've already seen?  Are we collectively pretending that we never saw things like the little Vietnamese girl with the napalm burns and everything that's happened since?  Are we suffering from some form of mass amnesia that we don't have RC-airplanes shitting fire on entire villages along the Pakistan border to take out one or two guys?  

Even breaking it down to the art and music world, does one skinny ass mark the breakdown of civilization?  Can this stuff we pretend to be shocked and outraged over compare to the musical equivalent of Yeats' Second Coming?

"Rape, murder!
It's just a shot away!
It's just a shot away!

What can I say, but, Bitch, please!  

I don't know.  I'm in a mood lately.  I'm feelin' some kinda way.  I apologize for the Miley Cyrus tangent.  I'm just having a hard time wrapping my head around where mass attention is focused, and how things shake out in day-to-day dialogue.  It's weird.  I have to believe that it's all splashed out there  as a distraction that is working less and less day by day.  The internet is a shitstorm of conspiracy websites and angry tirades from this wing and that wing.  Sure, it's scary that a fair amount of it turns out to be true, but it's more the tone that is alarming.

People are fucking ANGRY!

That must sound strange coming from me.  I cannot deny that I harbor my fair share of outrage and fury, but some of these folks make me sound like a Carebear on X.  All peace and love, like.  

Time to get to work, though.  So more later, maybe.  

Bible Trading Cards

Buy 'em! Sell 'em! Trade 'em!

Did you know that Jesus has more career saves than Mariano Rivera? 

What was John the Baptist's lifetime batting average?

Where was Job before coming to the majors?

(I love this stuff.  I sure do.)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Letter of Complaint As Art


This one, via Sabotage Times is perfect.  

Fortune Cookie

via This Isn't Happiness

I've always figured that this is the sort of message that the Chinese words on fortune cookies translates to anyway.

The Daily News: Keeping the "ass" in class!


I had actually wanted to work the phrase "hornet's nest of controversy" or something similar into this post, but there simply isn't enough coffee in the world this morning to cut through the stale fug of an impending migraine, but please do check out this hair!  What is that?  I'll tell you.  It's a beehive.  It's not just a beehive, it's an exact replica of the mud wasp nest that was stuck up in the eaves of the outhouse near the shooting range at Camp David in 1973?  How did she know?

Well, according to this story from The Daily News, this woman was possessed of superior um... oral communication skills that enabled her to pry secrets from at least three sitting presidents of these here United States of America!

Why do I so appreciate this story?  I mean, beyond my prurient interests, that is, why is this story a stand-out amongst all the JFK nostalgia and memorabilia over the last few days?

Because you just knew that someone was going to rain on the JFK parade... or the JFK motorcade, as it were.  There have been thousands of reviews, films, documentaries, conspiracy theories and what have you, all aired out on the line for the 50th Anniversary of the 'Death of the American Dream' or the 'Fall of Camelot' or whatever you want to call it.  You just knew though, that someone was going to go here.  It was just a question of who was going to go here first.

Kudos to The Daily News, however, for not simply recycling yet another Marilyn Monroe assassination theory, replete with footage of Joltin' Joe DiMaggio weeping.  They went next level in exhuming this one, the testimony of a former LBJ aide who did time for income tax evasion and was apparently looking to cash in any way he could manage.

Well done, News!  Thanks for keeping the "ass" in class!

And please... don't miss this hair.

Awesome.

How long before The New York Post one-ups them with a report that Monica Lewinsky was a Yemeni  Al Qaeda agent?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Color

"Loss is just loss," she said.  "The longer you live, the more often and more profoundly you will know loss."

I nodded.

"All your feelings are just colors in your palette.  They are dyes or paints."  

I understood.  I have always felt in colors, if too few.  

"Grief is the brightest color in your palette.  It doesn't have to be but it is the one you see most clearly and brightly.  That isn't a bad thing.  But where would the world be without brilliant color?  Would there be art?  Would there be music?"

She paused until I nodded again.

"Would there be passion without recognizing that we are finite?  Would there be joy?"

"No," I had to agree.  I felt what she was saying was true.  More than just knowing it, I felt it.

"Then don't roll in it and muddy the bright colors with the dull and plain.  Dip your brush in it and paint.  Color your world.  Revel in it."  

Multiple Choice

When you get a multiple choice question, and it is bound to happen, always choose d) all of the above.  There will be one answer that seems the most likely.  The second option will be like the first one but with more detail.  Three will often be an oddball outlier and it will seem so stupid that you laugh your way back to the first two.
Don't do that.  Just don't.  Okay?
You can count on events going pear-shaped and wonky now and again.  Pick all of the above just in case.  That way even if it turns out to be the safe choice you won't be caught off guard.
Trust me on this one.  Things get weird.
Like you're standing in the middle of an empty street at 5 a.m. and you smell cigarette smoke like somebody lit up right next to you and nobody is there.  The dog stiffens and gives the low rumble and the huff, like a boot is about to drop. Things get weird.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

She is psychic...

"If you share a bed with a person long enough... what I am saying, is that if you spend enough time with a person, and you share a bed with them and hold them while they dream...  do you follow?  What I am saying is that you form a psychic connection to that person."

She's propped up on her elbow looking down at me, close enough that her hair is tickling my forehead. Big eyes.  Twinkling.  Holding back on one of her devastating smiles like she's all serious all of a sudden.  After what we just did she is all serious.  Okay.  Right.

"And that person can go away on a trip.  Or leave you for good.  Or die.  And it takes a long time for the connection to fade away completely."

I furrow my brow and squint.

"For real?"  I'll play along.  Why not?

"For real.  A long, long time."  And she's making the sincere, wide eyes face.  I try to kiss her and she pulls away.  "You don't believe me?"

"So you're saying you can read my mind.  Or you can tell if I'm in some kind of trouble when I'm not here."

Well, no," she says.  "Of course not.  We haven't shared a bed enough."

"Is that you being subtle?"

"What do you mean, subtle?"

"Are you hinting that we need to spend more nights together?"

"Ugh no!" And she rolls over and gives me the back of her head.  "I already know more about what goes on in your monkey brain than I want to.  You are simple."

She pushes back against me and I turn on my side and wrap around her.  Her hair smells like... something soft.  What does soft smell like?  Eh, you know it when you smell it.  No, she is right.  I am simple.  This is simple.

"Go to sleep," she commands.

"Wha???"

"I can hear you thinking.  Stop now."

All the Young Dudes - Live! - Mott the Hoople, David Bowie



And screaming along on the last leg.  Bringing it home.  Bringing it home.

Ace Frehley - New York groove (Kiss Solo albums 1978)



1978...

I was really just building up a head of steam in 1978.  This song, with the sort of Bo Diddley, Marc Bolan, or The Sweet thing going... probably the best of the 70s glam sound distilled in one perfect anthem.

There used to be this one point cutting through New Jersey when the NYC radio stations started coming in on the dial, faint at first and then clearer and clearer.  It was a sign to exhale.  Home was soon.  Home was around the corner.  New York Radio had a sound that no other radio had.  It was, or seemed brighter.  It was louder.

Who listens to radio anymore.  Does satellite radio count?  You choose a style of music or an era, and you know what you're going to hear.  No surprises at all.  I know I sound like an old fuck when I say, "back in the day" but here goes.  Back in the day you used to tune in to certain DJs because you just knew they were going to bust out something new.

Something fresh.

When was the last time you heard something fresh?

So yah, Sirius doesn't cut it.  I know I'm close because I know I'm close.  I can track the progress on a little moving dot on my mobile phone  My smellular phone.

I'm close now.  I'm tired.  I'm done.

Three Mile Island


There will be no stopping here.  Not this time around.  The Three Mile Island accident made everything  very real there for a minute.  Chernobyl was far worse but too far away.  Three Mile Island was home.  It was China Syndrome.  All the protests and rallies and informational seminars and dark humor, all of a sudden, got really close to the bone.

Now, I think, there are age and distance thresholds.  Unless you were born before a certain year or live within a specific distance it's like the whole thing never happened.  It's hard to believe now that one morning way back when, ever man, woman and child on the Eastern Seaboard woke up and shit their pants.  The weight of the fear and uncertainty alone could have set off a seismic event.

What does it mean now that you rarely hear about it?  It's almost like nuclear power is safe?  Progressive politicians are extolling the virtue of "clean" energy.

Nah.  No.

I will always, always remember that morning.

Steinbeck "got it."

via 4Q Conditioning

Yah, Steinbeck, truly the King of the Road Tale, got it.  He understood all these turns and flips that a man performs in order just to be a man, and to remain a man.  To live up to the expectations put upon us, despite what the progressives who speak of redefining manhood say, and our expectation of ourselves to live up to those expectations and the endless so on and so forth.  There is a part of it that is beyond all the psychological, societal, garble and becomes purely anthropological on a primal scale, because we are these creatures simply too few generations away from the trees.  You do not surrender fierceness.  It is akin to surrendering a limb!

Steinbeck got it.

Jack London got it.

And it's easy enough to say that these men wrote generations ago, but how far have we come?  We can recondition the norms of the people we live amongst, or we can as a group.  Circumstance can create surface conformity.  What does that do for the cellular though?

Who would willingly trade fierceness for age and infirmity, unless we were delusional enough to believe that we might be the exception and kick ass right through our 90s?

So yes, there is a struggle.

Check ignition and may God's love be with you...


Mixed feelings still but what's a man to do?  What's a man to do?

"First things first gotta know the brakes n' the accelerator.
Save your jokes and save your soul, yer gonna need 'em later."

"You're really not mad at anyone, you're just mad at the world."

Those are the road songs today, from Jay Farrrar's kinesthetic Sebastapol album (despite the title here).  You can hear the big rigs downshifting on the exit ramps straight through the guitar and drums.  There's a big wide open vista in the arrangements.  The kind you see when you keep going well past the Mississippi and out onto the Great Plains.  The entire sky just opens up, and the world opens up and infinite possibility opened up for me once many years ago on another trip when there was no New York City to go back to.

Of course you always have to figure in the weird possibilities when you're talking infinite.  You never really figure the near complete mental breakdown somewhere out around Shelton, Nebraska on the trail of Jack and Neil.  You never figure on lying high up on a ledge under a highway overpass in the middle of the night too terrified to move east or west, and you're cold but can't start a fire for fear of being arrested... but maybe being arrested is better than crying from the cold and being afraid of the coyotes or feral dogs or whatever it is that's creeping around.

So no, don't get it twisted.  It's not all paradise out there and I've found out firsthand.  It's good to have a place to crawl back to when life gets strange.  Freedom isn't free.  In fact, it can be fucking terrifying.  Trust me on that one.

I'm kind of in awe of the people who sell everything out and pack their whole selves into campers and trailers and just take off.  The only thing they have to go back to is wherever they happen to be parked at the moment, and they seem okay with that.  God bless them, but maybe it goes back to what I've witnessed before and carried on about -- that which is seen cannot be unseen.  They've done it the other way and planted themselves in one spot for a while and took a stand and busted their asses and made it work for as long as they could stand it.

Maybe they're part of the percentage of the population that only ever really evolved spiritually to the nomadic, hunter-gatherer thing.  I do adhere to that business.  Some of us are still deep down hunter-gatherers.  Some of us are paleo-agrarian.  NONE of us are inustrial or post-industrial yet, and we might never be space-age.  And of course that's my basic theory for why people are so poorly adjusted, especially around cities.  And furthermore my theory for why I should be in tiny coastal village somewhere fishing and tending a garden.

Of course I may be dead wrong.  You have to be open, at any given point, to the possibility that what you believe the most in is the biggest pile of horseshit in the rodeo.

What do I know.  I'm tired.  I'm cold.  I'm not ambivalent about getting home, just about where home is for the time being.  The dog?  She's happy wherever I am, so she's more like the folks in the campers, and that's where I need to get to as well.

And everybody out along the interstate smokes.  What's up with that?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Waka Flocka Flame - Fuck Shit ft. Trouble & Wooh Da Kid [Official Music ...



Fresh, but NSFW or any other damn place, really.  Can't say I'd be keen on my 12 year old listening to this, but would I stop him?  I really just don't know.

Say uncle!

photo via Time Travel

Of course saying 'uncle' doesn't mean the son of a bitch lets you go, even when you scream it a bunch of times.  I found out the hard way, but that just made me stubborn.  There were a few times where I held out until I turned blue and passed out.  They let you go then, but you still wake up on the floor.  That's sort of a metaphor for my life, I suppose.  Hold out until you pass out, MacGregor.  Never surrender.  Never give in.

"How'd that work out for you?"  The crocodile is in my head again.  I want to skelp him with a lump hammer.  Always there.  Usually right.

This photo kind of rung a bell.  It reminds me of my own childhood.  File it under, things I could afford to let go of entirely, with the sub-category things that still sting but not as bad as they used to.

"Let go or be dragged."  And one day I'm going to take care of that crocodile.  I swear, I will.

Fresh, Part 8 And if she had to die tryin'!



She couldn't help thinkin'
That there was a little more to life somewhere else
After all it was a great big world
With lots of places to run to
And if she had to die tryin'

And so we were back on the highway after all.  The truck started right up and the big V-8 showed no signs of whatever was ailing it late the night before.  Lisa suggested if we all just kept our fingers crossed, and I suggested we do a prayer huddle like 4th and goal with seconds left in the game.  Just Darren, Lisa, me and my dog... We all had a good laugh and we turned up the music and sang along.  Superstition maybe, that if we just kept singing.  If we kept it positive.  If we crossed our fingers and toes we might just get where we were going.  Lots of places to run to but no reason to run.  We could just take it easy.

The mood was light.  It was as if we had all been in the last throes of detox out there on I80.  Darren and Lisa peaked out and sweated it out fighting in the motel room.  I had shook it out in the back seat of the truck and Jane... well, Jane was finally lying down and sleeping.  Letting the engine hum carry her off.  And it was as if the truck itself was hacking out the last of the sick as we pulled into the lot of the Super 8.  Just needed to shut down for a bit and sleep it off.

What were we detoxing from?  God knows.  New York City?  Possibly.  I wouldn't rule that out.  It wouldn't be the first time for me.  

No place to run and no reason to run.  That feels good.  I can tell you that firsthand because I've been to the other place for the better part of my life.  

So it took a bit but that's the way it goes sometimes.  There was a woman in the parking lot of the Super 8 walking her yellow Lab.  We made small talk while the Lab played with Jane.  She was a pretty, light-skinned woman with a big smile.  She was going in the opposite direction and riding in the back of the king cab I allowed myself that little what if.  Like what if she was headed towards Chicago?  Or what if she was headed back to New York City?  What if I got her number?  And so on...

I wondered for a moment as I was drifting off listening to the Best of the 80s what Karen looked like now after thirty years.  That was her name.  Karen.  I remembered, and that made me smile.  What if?  

Too late.

Selah.  

Fresh Road Songs Part 7


And since every journey needs a soundtrack... 

Fresh, Part 6 Just Drive She Said



Whereupon having turned the ignition in the freezing cold and hearing the beast roar back to life with no cough or wheeze, they load up and go.

Let's see how far this takes us.

How do you hashtag imminent doom?

That not so fresh feeling, Part 5

Maumee, Ohio?  Don't ask.  Somewhere near Toledo, in a Super 8 where I had to pay extra to keep the dog inside.  The desk manager said it would be safe to keep her in the truck, but that wasn't happening. For one thing it was so cold going on 1 in the morning her tits would have dropped right off.  And she doesn't do well with the alone thing.  Who does?  The plan was to drive straight through to pick up the time lost in Pennsylvania but there was some manner of protest from under the hood.  We were lucky to make it this far and we'll be here in Maumee for a bit if someone can't sort that out right away.

Lisa asked, "don't you know anything at all about cars?"

"Sweetheart, let's add that to the list of the many, many things I know fuck all about."

The look on her face let me know that I was still down one amends and we could add one more to that list too.  She was just tired.  We were all tired, except for Jane who seemed about ready for anything.  I retired to my room and they went to one next door.  I heard them arguing for about an hour through the adjoining (and locked) door between the rooms.  The words were unintelligible but the tone was crystal.  It's not that we were suffering any great hardship, but it doesn't take much to make most people lose their shit, so throw a wrench in someone's plans and it can get stupid for a bit.

Shout away.  Who's sleeping anyway.

I collapsed on the bed with the dog and put on the local weather channel with the sound down.  A local gal in a JC Penney's dress was explaining these big red arrows which was obvious with no sound was about the wind coming down off the lakes.  Holy shit!  I let my brain go off on its own disaster tangent for a bit.  What if the truck is dead?  What if we're stuck here for a few days?  I can't afford another night in a motel!  How will I get the dog back to New York?  Blah blah... whatever.  Luxury problems.   There were signs with red letters all over the room, not for farm fresh eggs that I still hadn't tasted, but to warn that it was a no smoking room.  The signs were red and white.  Marlboro boxes are red and white.  The craving was there from early that morning.  Ugh.

Up again before the sun and walking the dog out in the back parking lot.  So goddamn cold, and I'm still hung up on that trip out this way so long ago.  By Toledo, by Mohawk buddies had long since cut south towards Cincinnati and I was on my own but grateful for having gotten this far.  I was still limping a bit but capable, and they had traded out some of my camping gear for more lightweight stuff. My pack had been overloaded with discount stuff I had picked out more for price than for efficiency.  Like, why a three man tent?  Was I expecting company?  Why a double burner camp stove?  And so on.  There was no internet back then and what did I know about backpacking and camping?  I was thinking about how lucky I was that those guys found me or my great adventure could have ended right  there, still in New York and all banged up at a KOA.  It damn near killed me to get that far.

It was mid-May when I left that time so there was no cold to contend with.  I had left NYC and decided to cut up back home to the Hudson Valley to see some friends before I left.  Let's leave the definition of home right where it is for the moment.  It was where I spent my childhood and the emphasis there might just be put on "spent."  I was spent before I left for school.  Just done.  That's another story for another time.  There were a small handful of people I was still in semi-regular contact with though I wasn't related to any of them.  Family stuff could best be described as distant.  We weren't talking much.  I'd pass through every so often and there would be a little reunion and everyone all smiles but a kind of wide-eyed what are you doing here thing happening as well, and maybe even a little bit of the silent are you on something eyes.

I was, but that was nothing new.  Maybe they had just gotten better at picking that out.

God knows why it was so important to get up there and say hello and goodbye before taking off, but it seemed vital.  My inclination was to announce that I was about to embark on the defining adventure of my life, though if memory serves I never told anyone.  It seemed pointless when they had no clue where I had been or what I had been up to since Christmas when I was last there.  What did it matter?  Nobody seemed to miss me.  Yah, poor me, and all that.  It's true though.  It's not like there were phone calls or letters.  Ever.  It is what it is.  People get caught up in their own shit and maybe everyone just figures the onus falls on the other person and that stuff never gets done.  This is the stuff that I stewed over night after night for decades.  Now?  Well, now I can work up a sweat if I put in the effort, and every so often I do, but the moments pass quickly.

The stop-off at "home" wasn't particularly momentous.  These visits never really were.  An excuse to see some old pals and get twisted, if any of them were around, and they were this time.  We piled into a car and headed off for a college graduation party up outside of Poughkeepsie.  I didn't really know the guy all that well, but again, any excuse.  There should have been nothing particularly memorable about this part either, but there is and it's hard to say why.  There was a girl, the celebrant's younger sister?  No clue after thirty years why her memory is so strong with so much time since, but it is.  It's not like we ever saw each other again.  It's not like there hasn't been an entire lifetime or two since then, but... She was... Well, what was she?  I'd just had a painful break-up down in NYC a couple months earlier.  I'd spent weeks crying to anyone who would listen, and marking off days since I'd seen her on a calendar, and mourning and grieving like life on the planet itself was about to go tits up.  Maybe my plans were as much about running away from that grief as anything else.  I definitely thought there was something to prove to her, but it was more than that too.  There was something to prove to her, and myself, and anyone and everyone.  This trip was to be... defining.  Definitive?  Landmark?  Epic (as people are wont to say these days)?

But now here was this girl.  We were all sitting around a slate-terraced patio drinking and smoking and laughing, and listening to reggae, when this girl came around the corner of the house.  She had girlfriends with her but they were... nothing.  Her?  A petite, light-skinned dancer, sleek and brown and ringlets of kind of reddish-brown hair.  Baggy jeans hanging off perfect hips and a bikini top, and a smile that gives me goosebumps just remembering it now.  And I've never seen her since that night.  What's the old-fashioned word?  Smitten?  Everything else about the night was pretty nondescript, a bunch of young people getting twisted.  What was her name?  Don't remember that either.  But she made me laugh.  She looked right at me when she spoke and it didn't make me feel squirrelly.  She would reach out and touch my arm or my leg for emphasis when she was telling a story.  She was confident and beautiful and perfect and she didn't pay attention to anyone else there.

We were naked together a ways off down by a pond.  I remember gasping when I undid the button of her jeans and rolled them down.  I remember how incredibly smooth her skin was in the dark.  The mosquitos probably got more action than we did that night, but we held each other and kissed.  I'd never kissed like that before or since.  There was not another fucking thing in the entire world that night except for the points where our bodies touched.  I was oblivious to anyone or anything else, including from what I found out the next morning, her brother standing at the top of the hill with a loaded pistol, determined to ventilate the son of a bitch who was off somewhere doing something horrible with his sister.  Whatever.  I was D O N E.

Starting out the next day late with a hangover wasn't the best move, but it was on.  I wanted to stay around for a few days and see her again, but my friends warned me that despite his college graduate status, her brother was still the same person that had a few corners in Poughkeepsie and he wanted to have a talk with me.  They said it would be a good idea if I just took off for a while until he cooled down.  And more than that, the trip up the river that time had brought something else.  It had finally sunk in that this was not home.  It was just a place I had spent some time, and it was best I leave before I got stuck there.  That was my biggest fear.  Getting stuck.  Like, when you were in New York City, you were among people who had come there for a reason, usually because they had been stuck or were afraid of being stuck somewhere else.  Nobody I knew in the Hudson Valley had come there for any reason.  They were all just born there.  I had already seen a bunch of people I graduated with who had been the big fish head out for deeper water and come back frightened and defeated.  I was terrified that would happen to me too.

So torn... She was all I thought about on the bus across the river.  She was all I thought about.  There was an 8 mile hike mostly uphill to a campground at the end of the bus ride on the other side, with a hangover and an overloaded pack and a body ill-prepared for an 8 mile hike mostly uphill.  She was all I thought about though.  I could still smell her hair, or imagined I could.  When I was on the last mile or so and doubled over, huffing and sweating a truckload of young guys slowed to a crawl behind me and cheered me the entire way.  Were they making fun?  I don't think so.  They wanted me to make it.

She was all I thought of lying in my too-big tent that night. Well, that and the pain.  I had slipped on slippery rocks and mud at the lakeside and taken a good fall, weighted with my pack and banged myself up really well.  The raccoons were in full fiesta mode that night and danced and skittered around the edge of the campfire light.  I remember I felt terribly alone in that tent that night and wished she were there, if for nothing else than to run out and get help for me.  Walking had become tricky by the time I crawled into the tent.  I wanted her there.  Just to hold me.

She was all I thought about when I was piling my stuff into the truck with the ironworkers to head west.  I would go out there and have a great adventure and write a great novel or a book of poetry and come back and she of course would have been thinking about me the whole time and would be in love with me and something huge would happen between us.

And of course I never made it to Oakland.  Not on that trip.  I was back in New York City 18 months later having been here and there, and wrote her a letter one night in a maudlin, drunken fit.  It was all gush and confessions of what really did feel like love, at least that night.  I swear it did.  She was off studying at Brown or something and wrote back once saying in a very non-committed way that she had fun talking to me and wished me the best.

And here I am in a Super 8 Motel in Maumee, Ohio thirty years later and I can still remember how she felt and tasted and smelled.  It's only my dog I can smell now, and that motel smell that you get no matter what motel you'll ever stay in.  Some special cleanser and stale smoke even though you're in a non-smoking room in a non-smoking wing of the motel.

Where is home?  It only occurred to me in recent years that when I took off out across Pennsylvania and Ohio way back then, having left an apartment in NYC I couldn't pay for, and having realized that there was no going back to my family, no place really to go or go back to, that I was homeless.  How we define things... if you stay in one place with no roof over your head to call your own, you are homeless.  If you keep moving?  What is it then?

Homeless.  And I'm sitting in the edge of the bed in a Super 8 Motel in Maumee, Ohio with my dog snoring and farting behind me, and I'm laughing.  Where is home.  Home is back in Brooklyn, for now.   I will get back there.  I want to get back there.  For now.

And I'm laughing because my heart still twists a bit when I think of this girl I met just that one time, and I still think about her.  Like there's this mighty "what-if" that doesn't really exist, and I won't let go of that.   Somewhere in this special dimension that I've created and I am Supreme God over, there is a love story that began that one night and never ended.  Why her?  There's a question.

I don't want to be here.  Was the trip a mistake?  I don't know.  But it doesn't feel good.  I mean, vaccinations don't feel good either, but that doesn't make them bad.  I'll sort this out later.  Is it a good kind of not feeling good, or does it just suck?

Time to get back on the road.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Still So Fresh, Part 4



Flashback 80s.  Saw TH in Central Park, and then L.A., and then in Forest Hills, and then again in Oakland.  Now along I80 with a rattling something under the hood and it's almost keeping time.

Almost but not quite.  Something is not right.