Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve 2011/2012

Crawled home tonight. Tough two weeks. Insanity at work  building towards Christmas, insanity building towards New Year's Eve. Been sick for a week now.
Driving home thinking how NYE has a special feel to it. Anticipation. Not about throwing up. Anticipation about a new year. Another chance. I know a lot of people my age don't give a damn about it. Just another day. I feel sorry for them.
Not enough energy to put my thoughts into words.
Until I saw a video my son Craig posted to facebook.
It jolted my heart alive and rejuvenated my soul. It was love. It was two people together in honesty and trust. It was now. It was the future. It was youth and hope and everything that it means to be human.
It filled the hole that was numbing me. It started 2012 off early with sensitivity. Pure, raw emotion.
My family is precious to me. I call myself a writer and I could never adequately express the intensity of my love for them.
When my sons are happy, anyone who means to hurt me can kiss my ass. I am invincible.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Life Indeed Is Truly A Bitch

I am reviewing my current situation.
I exercised on Monday, December 19, and Wednesday, December 21. And not once more since. Because the work schedule has been insane, and because I got sick on Christmas Eve and remain so. In fact the hideous disease has gotten worse day by day. My lungs are filled with stuff you do not want in your lungs, and I am so tired I can barely muster the energy to whine. Thank god I have the day off. I will wallow in fat lethargy, reserving energy for the next two days.
Which will be insane. December 30 and 31. Boozehounds licking their chops as they indiscriminately grab every bottle within reach to lubricate the road to oblivion. Especially champagne, which most of them don't drink regularly and will result in a nasty hangover.
Last year we locked the doors at 5:00 on New Years's Eve and there were thirty or forty people in the store. It took twenty minutes to process their precious transactions, and while we were doing that, there were noses pressed to the window outside smeared with the tears of those who were just one step too slow.
I have never understood the concept of starting a New Year with your head in the toilet. Although in the interest of full disclosure I have to tell you I have done it at least 20 to 25 times. But my heart wasn't in it. Can you cut me some slack?
Anyway I believe that life beats you down. Just as I achieve one modest goal, work and compromised health conspire to beat me back to failure.
Gaining weight, limited exercising, limited writing.
It will be a real challenge to bust into 2012 with a positive vibe, given the fact that Carol and Jesus have conspired against me.
In my weakness Carol has tempted me with lemon bars, mounds of chocolate chip cookies, pecan pie, strawberry cake, and apple crisp. I could not resist; in fact I consumed them with severe prejudice, like a coke lover attaching a vacuum cleaner to his nose. She is an awesome baker and her creations descend from heaven directly into my mouth.
I commissioned a panel to study why I have been laid low with disease just when I had transformed myself into the ultimate exercise lunatic. Every single clue, all hints, every subtly nuanced fact pointed directly to heaven.
I was provided with a DVD, secretly obtained, of Jesus watching my life on his personal Plasma High Def 3D Life Monitor Device. He was laughing at my every sneeze, each cough and sniffle, chuckling at my exhaustion.
The worst, absolute worst, was when he was heard to say "You think you are going to make something out of your life Joe Testa after all these years of sloth and lethargy? Keep trying, buddy boy, but I ain't gonna make it easy for you. You have to work to succeed." I can't believe he stole a line from a Yes song. You would thing Jesus would be naturally creative.
Anyway I have it all on video. You can watch it when you come over to celebrate my birthday on January 1.
So that's it. Beaten down once again. But I am not done.  I got a secret weapon this time. A highly coveted video of Jesus eating meat on a Friday in 1967. In an alley. Surrounded by disreputable butchers. And Jesus nervously twitching as he tries to hide his face in shadow.
You want to screw with me big guy? Bring it on, baby. This is the new me and I don't take no for an answer.

A Twisted View of Religion

I drive by the Carmelite Monastery every day on my way to work. I have no idea what the Carmelite Monastery is, what they do, who walks around inside there.
Maybe they are eternally perfecting ways to carmelize onions.
I was struck by the thought yesterday that I hope there is a consciousness at the moment of dying; an alert realization of the ultimate truth.
So people who devoted their entire lives to piety can be rewarded with God's handshake.
So people who devoted their entire lives to piety can crumble in shock and disbelief when they realize it was all a joke as Rodney Dangerfield re-directs them towards hell.

Something Sad

As you flow numbingly through reality once again, Christmas lights after December 25 are a sad thing to see.
Like watching a boxer struggle to his knees after being knocked down twice in the same round, blindly believing he can still pull this one out.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Christmas Tale Rooted In Evil Reality

Shortly before Christmas the three top liquor commissioners in NH got busted for using business cars for personal use. The cars were taken away from them. They are allowed 15% of their mileage to be personal but they greatly exceeded this.
Here's something else for you to think about. I worked yesterday at The Booze Emporium on the official Christmas holiday. No other state employees were at work, except the obviously essential ones: police, firefighters, hookers. We are typically paid time and a half for working on a holiday, but this year the liquor commission put out a memo saying we would only get straight time, claiming strict interpretation of holiday pay rules allows this.
This means that while these crooks were robbing me of my holiday pay they were simultaneously robbing the state for their own benefit.
It may surprise you to learn this, but these guys earn substantially more than I do. Does this situation sound fair to you?
Each of these bozos submitted waiver requests disputing the personal mileage reported by the committee that managed the investigation. They didn't deny the personal usage, they just revised the numbers downward, and the smallest number admitted to was 5,520 miles.
One of these clowns made the following comment regarding the surrendering of his state-owned car: "I think, given the nature of the economy and the emphasis on frugality, within that spirit, I think it was appropriate." That is a vile comment by a vile man. Stripping his employees of their holiday pay and robbing from the state is his view of the nature of the economy and his definition of the word spirit.
This is how corporations work. The top guys lie, cheat and steal and the employees get used and abused. I imagine if I got caught stealing a $2.99 nip of Crown Royal, I would get fired, no questions asked. These guys stole big time and they won't get fired. In fact it won't hurt them at all because of the salaries they are paid. I refuse to use the term "the salaries they earn." Driving their personal cars is not a hardship for them and they will probably find a way to abuse that situation to their benefit as well.
And I don't believe they found an interpretation of holiday pay rules to allow them to pay straight time only. I believe they went ahead and did it because of the current "screw the employees and the unions" mentality, daring anybody to challenge them, all in the name of saving a couple of bucks, while destroying any possibility of employee loyalty.
They should be fired. Period.
The liquor commission in this state is a funny thing. The mentality goes back to prohibition days when gangsters got involved. Nothing has changed much, except that booze is legal and the gangsters wear cheaper suits. These guys walk around like tough guys, exuding an air of intimidation and false importance. When they make occasional stops into the store, we have to scuttle around like bugs, making sure everything is just so, bowing in supplication. Then they suggest we should move every bottle in the store one millimeter to the left, as they walk out with a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue under their arm on the way to their mistresses house, before heading home with flowers for the wife and a kiss for the kids.
Booze is involved, so I'm sure there is a lot of graft and kickbacks and under the table deals. Illegal, immoral stuff that is conveniently ignored as they work tirelessly to take away from their employees as much as they can.
I went for a job interview that was positively thrilling. Three people surrounding me in a room firing questions at me. Spanish Inquisition. One of the hot shots was there, and this guy really cracks me up. He seriously resembles a character actor who always plays a thug. I don't know the actor's name but you would recognize him if you saw him. This liquor commission dude looks like him AND has the same non-smiling, cold, trying to intimidate stare.
Little boys playing a big boys game.
The people who have ultimate control of my fate as an employee, are crooks. No conscience, no sense of morality, no give and take. All take, no give.
Pretty much justifies my desperate attempts to find an alternative way to support myself independently, don't you think?

Monday, December 26, 2011

And So That Was Christmas

BOOM. Gone.
Just like that.
I spent the six days preceding Christmas working like a pig-donkey. No time for anything but to work, get home, eat, fall asleep. Too much. Too much. Got home Christmas Eve with a sore throat. Woke up Christmas morn with a cold. Feel even worse today. And I have to work today, which nobody should have to do.
But Christmas was an oasis of peace.
We had the A-Team, the most devastating line-up, the heaviest hitters, the team you want on the field when everything is on the line - a family holiday. Craig, Karen, Keith, Emily, Eddie, Carol, Joe. You know how it works, I have described our get togethers many times. Suffice it to say the day was spent as they always are with this magnificent family; in honesty, in love, in laughter. Easy rolling, sweetly delicious and natural.
There was an odd moment during the day, sometime after breakfast and appetizers and before dinner, when it got quiet. People were dozing, not a lot of talk. I was curious. But we gathered around the dinner table and the day clicked into high gear. Absolutely fantastic.
I followed through on a promise I had made to myself and it made me happy. Loaded all our Christmas CD's onto my magical IPod machine. 5.5 hours worth of Dean Martin, Elvis, B.B. King, Johnny Cash, Mariah Carey, Willie Nelson and Diana Ross. An eclectic and delightful mix of styles and interpretations. It added to the day.
Magical moment late in the day. I had gone upstairs to visit with our cats, who were banished to the upper level by the presence of Cooper, Keith's dog, which is OK; we love Cooper too. Sitting on the top stair, patting Maka lovingly and looking down on my family, illuminated by candles and lamps. Carol teaching Karen to crochet, Keith and Craig talking and laughing animatedly, Emily curled up comfortably under a blanket. My heart filled with love, my soul with gratitude, for my luck in having this family to call my own. I will never forget that image.
Everybody gone, Carol and I settled in, the cats content again with us, and we ended the day (after a half of football) by enjoying a bizarre Christmas tradition that Carol and I dig every year courtesy of David Letterman. Carol had DVR'ed, it so it was ours to watch at our leisure. His annual Christmas show. I'm not going to explain it all, I'll just summarize it. Jay Thomas comes out every year and tells the same great story about The Lone Ranger. Then he and Letterman throw footballs at a meatball perched on top of the Christmas tree that adorns the set to see who can knock it off first. Thomas won the contest this year. The show ends with Darlene Love singing Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) with a chorus behind her and accompanied by Paul Shaffer's amazing band. Darlene rocks that tune with everything she's got and Shaffer's band are pumped and flying. It is glorious.
What a day.
And so now it is December 26. I am digging in my heals even though I know I am wasting my time. January 1 is coming and I cannot stop it or slow it down. Upon meeting The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, Scrooge says "I fear you more than any spectre I have seen." That's how I feel about January 1. Thanksgiving was pure and beautiful, Christmas was hectic and magical. January 1 is my day of reckoning, more so than any birthday in my life.
I have written endless words about how hard I have worked this year. It has been an amazingly different year for me, even though I have little to show for it.
2012 is sitting out there filled with the promises I have made to myself. Filled with hope and expectations. Challenging me to DO something with my life, as my heart and soul desire. I feel more of a let down on January 2 than I do on the day after Thanksgiving or on December 26, because the hoopla is over and reality comes flooding back, daring me to throw a pebble into the pond.
I'm going to dig this week as best I can because it is still a magical week, a holiday week, a special time. I will enjoy New Year's Eve and January 1. I will actually CELEBRATE my birthday this year; it's important to me.
And I will come out swinging on January 2, 2012.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


It's Christmas Eve. 2011.
I've been away from the blog for a couple of days. Working. Working like a pig-donkey. Working in retail at Christmas time is nasty. Overwhelming. Exhausting.
I think working booze at Christmas time might be the hardest of all the retail tortures. You sell one thing - BOOZE. And booze is everybody's go to gift. Booze itself makes a wonderful gift, so there is that natural demand. Then, when you are stumped about what the hell to get for Uncle Beelzebub, and you are frazzled and you are up against it, it's "Jesus just get him a bottle of booze" time. These are the worst shoppers because they only have a vague idea of what Uncle B likes, so they ask a lot of stupid questions. "My Uncle likes whiskey - is there really a difference between Canadian Hunter and Crown Royal?" The proper response would be "do you think there is a difference between a Yugo and a Mercedes Benz?" Instead, you take the time to explain the difference and then THEY BUY THE CANADIAN HUNTER ANYWAY.
It was a brutal week for all of us at Store 072 but we survived it because we are one hell of a crew.
I only exercised twice this week, I barely wrote a word. The work schedule was nutsos.
The insanity almost crushed my Christmas spirit. But here I am. And as Bob Cratchit proudly proclaims in A Christmas Carol, "I'm to have the whole day off tomorrow."  A six day work week this week, one day for Christmas, back to work on Monday. Not really in keeping with the Christmas spirit but it is what I have. I will make the most of it.
Got home from work around six and was greeted by Keith, Emily and Carol. Kicked the holiday off in style.
Tomorrow it will be Craig, Karen, Keith, Emily, Eddie, Cooper, and hopefully a mystery guest that I invited. The day will be supreme. I know, I feel it, I anticipate it eagerly.
Meanwhile I have to be honest with you, I am beat down like a dog. Physically and mentally tired.
Carol is working her ass off preparing for tomorrow. I am about to slip into the big fade.
But it's all right. I played my cards beautifully today. Drove The Peacemobile. Listened to "A B.B. King Christmas" on the way to work. Rocking out to Christmas blues. An aural feast. Listened to Dean Martin Christmas tunes on the way home. I was exhausted, and Deano's voice was so smooth and mellow it was exactly what my twisted body needed to prepare to slip into Christmas.
So here we go.
My soul is ready to receive the love, the nourishment, of family love. Laughter. Honest, easy conversation. My bloated belly is ready to receive the magnificent feast prepared by my magnificent wife.
The contrast between the peacefulness of the day and the insanity of the week I just endured, will make Christmas day feel like two weeks on the island of Maui.
Bring it on, Santa. I'm greased up with sun block 223 and ready to roll.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Don Quixote As Prophet

Don Quixote tilting at windmills. I get my inspiration from the strangest of places. I was watching an episode of Bored to Death, which is a fantastic show. Hilarious. Do watch it, won't you?
Ted Danson was performing in a production of Man of La Mancha, playing the man himself. Strange mishaps resulted in him getting stoned and singing To Dream The Impossible Dream to his daughter, in full costume, outside her apartment window. All of that is irrelevant except for the song.
I have always loved the lyrics. A dreamer he was, Don Q, but he dreamed with every fiber of his being.
"To dream the impossible dream, to fight the unbeatable foe, to bear with unbearable sorrow, to run where the brave dare not go, to right the unrightable wrong, to love pure and chaste from afar, to try when your arms are too weary, to reach the unreachable star......."
2012 looms LARGE. It is right there. I can feel it, smell it, sense it, and soon I will be tasting it and seeing it. The 59th year of my life. And although the lyrics are dramatic, they really express what it takes to survive this bizarre existence we call life. I have felt these emotions acutely in 2011 because I awoke from a thirty year slumber to realize the only way I can change my life is to change my life. To make the effort, to put in the work, to try and fail, to try and succeed incrementally and to try again. To fight back doubt and fear, to ignore fatigue, to keep moving, doing, learning and fighting. To believe in myself and my goals, my family and friends, to accept my life for what it has been and to grab a hold of the damn thing and make it what I want it to be.
Giving up is not an option. If you are not dreaming the impossible dream, than you are gorging on Bugles and watching another inane episode of Survivor. Life beats you down, anesthetizes you, breaks your will, breeds hopelessness and kills hope. Everyone around you joins in because many of them have given up. You try to lose weight, they mock you. You say you want to earn more money, they sarcastically say "Good luck." You say you want your life to be meaningful, to bring you peace and pride, to be a work of art that you alone crafted and they ask "You want a single or a double?"
I accomplished very little in 2011. On the surface. Inside where my heart beats and my soul breathes, there is turmoil. I have shaken things up and my body is saying "what the hell is going on here"? My brain is thinking the unthinkable and sending new messages to the rest of my body, causing great confusion.
When you spend decades hiding from the world, hiding from yourself and killing pain, to suddenly step on the accelerator and fly from zero to sixty in 1/2 second, there are bound to be repercussions. The body has to adjust, the mind has to accept the new reality, the will has to act to continue forward motion.
My body has adjusted, my mind has accepted and my will has acted. I am driven to be a new man, reborn like Ebenezer Scrooge. I watched pieces of A Christmas Carol last night. When Scrooge finally gets it, he dances around and laughs and smiles, apologizes for his past stupidity and gives out love and understanding. And in so doing he makes himself, and maybe more importantly, other people happy.
I got a taste of that this year. A hint. I proved to myself that I can work hard and consistently, to keep moving forward, to fight through negativity (my own and that of others), to keep fighting. I have danced inwardly, and my heart has laughed,  my soul has smiled.
I am driven to be a new man, and it all started because I dared to dream the impossible dream, to try when my arms are too weary and to believe that I can reach the unreachable star.
Words can inspire you, words can change you, words can cut through the fog of a small life and show you unlimited possibility.
If you run into me and I am belting out The Impossible Dream at the top of my lungs, don't laugh. I may be on to something you don't even have the guts to consider.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Bingo Bango Bongo Disclaimer

In a recent post, I used the phrase "bingo bango bongo". I did not originate this phrase. Bob M, second in command at The Booze Emporium, brought this phrase to the store and it quickly became a staple of the strange and twisted men described as employees at Store 072. We use it to spice up our conversations and, more importantly, to drive Sir Eric of Svenson crazy. Sir Eric for some reason decided that he hates the term. He shakes his head like a bull in the ring when he hears it, then repeats the words disgustedly under his breath as if he were expressing the vilest of oaths.
I don't know if Bob originated this term; I'll have to do further research and get back to you. But he is capable of creating such an expressive term. He is a hard working dude who knows his stuff. He knows every goddamn product code in the store including the wines; drives me crazy. I have a ten year goal of showing Bob up just once with a code he doesn't know. I'll report back in 2021.
He's also The Wine Dude. When a wine bimbo asks what the difference is between a Napa Valley 2004 Pinot Noir and a Sonoma Valley 2004 Pinot Noir, Bob is your man. And on those rare occasions when he is uninformed, he is good enough to make bullshit sound like knowledge.
If that doesn't impress you, dig this. The man gets up at 4:00 a.m. to drive his son to hockey, goes to the gym for a quick workout (or a quick nap), picks his son up after hockey and then comes to work to hump booze and wrestle with customers for 8 hours. That is a dedicated Dad and a committed employee.
I planned on writing more, but as my fingers flew, BINGO BANGO BONGO, I got tired. Time to hit the recliner.
Ciao for now.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Part Time Invisible

Working as a part time employee is a perfect example of what is wrong with corporate America and an ominous sign of what is to come. It is the most undignified form of employment a human has to endure. 100% soul sucking.
Corporate executives dream of a staff of part timers more than they dream of sleeping with their neighbor's wife or stealing from the poor. It is their ultimate goal, the accomplishment they most covet.
Part timers are nothing. Limit their hours so you don't have to pay benefits or overtime, work them like dogs when business is smoking, cut their hours way back when things are slow. No need to concern yourself about their financial well being; they are tools in the tool box, nameless, faceless, not human.
When you work as a part timer your ego is battered and there is absolutely no dignity. You go in early when you are scheduled to go in late, you stay late when you are scheduled to leave early, you go in on your days off. Because you need the money. Not because you are trying to impress higher ups. There is no impressing higher ups. Not because you expect to be rewarded. You won't be. You don't exist.
Full timers and boss types don't have it much better. They work their asses off, endure more responibility and are required to kiss some ass, but there is no such thing as job security. If biz-i-ness slows down, everybody's head is on the chopping block EXCEPT those execs who have learned to smile as they kill. BUT full timers are guaranteed a consistent check as long as they are considered useful. The checks of part timers bounce around like Super Balls. Nobody can survive like this.
You go into this situation with your eyes wide open as a part timer. You know you are a bug, you know the organization doesn't give a damn about you except for their excitement about limiting your hours and avoiding payment of overtime and benefits.
Maybe a tiny piece of your brain thinks that if you work hard and learn the business, somehow, someway, down the road it will all pay off. But in reality you know that your only worth to the organization is that you are expendable. Like gum on the bottom of El Presidente's shoe.
The intangible in this equation is the fact that you are human. You begin to wonder what the hell you are doing. October-December are prime months in The Booze Emporium. Plenty of hours (NOT TO EXCEED 35 HOURS/WEEK) available to the tail wagging part timer. January comes around and BOOM you lose a minimum of ten hours/week. The world is hungover and nobody wants booze and the NHSLC is not interested in your financial well being. Your paycheck shrinks and so does your dignity. You get dizzy going from being in demand to being a drag on the payroll.
I cannot live this way. One of my major goals in 2012 is DIGNITY. That means I either endure the Spanish Inquisition-like interview process of the NHSLC and fight my way into a full time position, or I find an alternative. I have lost a couple of pounds. I'm thinking male dancer or gigolo. At least I have options.
It's sad that the economy plays right into the hands of execs. They know 113,475 people are in line for my job, so they don't care if I wake up one morning and decide that my life deserves dignity, that a lifetime of work and a responsible approach to this job qualify me to be treated with respect, to be looked upon as an asset to the organization with a lot to contribute. This is a throwaway society and I am a plastic water bottle.
This is the ultimate example of the complete breakdown of a mutual relationship between employer and employee. It used to be give and take; I believe I once read in a history book that there was even some respect there.
Many years ago the department that dealt with employees was called Personnel. Now it is called Human Resources. That tells you everything you need to know.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

On Christmas

On Christmas I looked at the tree,
and saw no presents for me.
I went for my gun,
and shot everyone.
"Happy Christmas!" I shouted
with glee.

And So Happy Christmas

I am a Happy Christmas guy. Love the way that sounds. Merry Christmas is weak. When else during the year do you use the word merry?
You don't say Merry Birthday. If someone asks how your vacation went, you don't tell them you had a merry time.
You don't walk into work and announce "I feel merry today." Your colleagues would throw tomatoes at you,wrap you in a straight jacket, and then write obscenities on the straight jacket.
Your kids don't make you feel merry, you don't have a merry cat. No self help guru ever wrote a book called In Search of Merriness.
You get the point. You only use the word once a year and I think it sucks a little of the bang out of Christmas. Of course one could make the argument that the very fact that you only use the word at Christmas gives it more power, makes it stand out, makes it more noticeable. I contend there is no context in which merry becomes powerful. It is a naturally weak word, limp in sound, devoid of passion. If Elton John got into a fist fight, it would not make him look powerful; it would make him look like overcooked spaghetti doing battle with a nice prime rib.
The English say Happy Christmas and I love them for that. I must consider moving there. When you watch Love Actually you will hear it a lot. When John Lennon sings "And so Happy Christmas" it thrills me and fills me, spangles my emotions and makes me smile.
I did a Happy Christmas experiment one year. It didn't go well. I said it to family and friends,anyone within earshot. I got strange looks or total indifference. I was hoping for a revolution. "Yeah, Happy Christmas. I like the sound of that. Gonna start saying it myself." It would spread like wildfire and soon it would be the standard in America. Instead I wound up shunned by my own family, forced to eat Christmas dinner at the kids table. Alone.
I like the phrase, I love the phrase. I like the way it sounds and think it makes perfect sense. I think it enhances the Christmas spirit. Christ, if it is good enough for John Lennon and Hugh Grant, it's good enough for me.
However, I already get sidelong looks from my family. They see me as a refugee from The New Hampshire Home for The Bewildered, and are fully cognizant of the fact that I may end up locked within someday. I can't risk alienating them any further because of the spectre of The Grim Reaper sitting side by side with The Mortgage Vampire outside my picture window once a month. Those two assheads taunt me and remind me that I am not in charge and that time is a-wasting. They point their fingers at me, lean their heads together and laugh. When I go out to confront them, they throw acorns or snowballs at me, and vanish into the ether.
Anyway, I shall keep Happy Christmas in my heart. And I'll sneak a few into the Christmas cards I mail (recipients are defenseless against the written word).
Dig Christmas hugely this year, my friends. Open your arms wide and embrace the beauty and uniqueness of the day.
To all of you I say "Happy Christmas."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Personality Crisis

What is personality?
Everybody has one. Except cock-a-roaches and republican presidential candidates.
Think about it. We are all essentially the same. A heart, couple of kidneys, liver, maybe a brain, lungs. We all struggle through life with soul crushing jobs and no money, kissing the ass of the Mortgage Vampire for the privilege of living in his house. Then we 're gone.
But within that sameness exists 7 billion different personalities. Everybody has a different take on life, how to live it, how to express yourself within it, how to get through it, how to squeeze something good out of it, what pictures to hang on the wall.
We talk differently, have different attitudes and different senses of humor, different intelligence levels, different likes and dislikes, different energy levels and attention spans, different opinions of right and wrong, evil and good.
What is this? Where does it come from? I'm thinking it is the expression of your soul. Your very essence.
The truth is clouded by all the things that affect the expression of your personality; what your parents did to you, how others have treated you, your fears and doubts and regrets. Out in the world we are all actors, but still that essence squirms through even if it is distorted.
I have a personality, even though there are those who would question that. My brother has a personality. There are similarities and radical differences. We came from the same parents as far as I know, and were raised in the same way. His sense of humor is quick and intelligent. One sentence out of his mouth in a conversation will cripple you with laughter. My sense of humor is based in the absurd. Strange comments that are often misunderstood. I have to work to make you laugh.
My brother understands business and operates successfully within that world. I am driven creatively and cannot function within the bus-i-ness world. We are both talented musically, both sensitive and loving.
Whatever similarities we have, our souls are different and that is where the uniqueness comes in.
Animals have different personalities, for Christ sake. You might expect all cats to be the same, all dogs to be the same. Not even close. My two cats have two radically different personalities and express them effortlessly. Had two cats before that, each different. Had a magical, mystical dog named Onyx who had a radically different personality than Cooper, my son's dog.
It's the animal thing that gets to me. They don't think "this is who I am, this is the face I will present to the world". They just are. If it happens that naturally, and is so different from pet to pet, it must be an expression of essence, of the soul.
It's too bad we humans are so twisted. Imagine how cool it would be for 7 billion different personalities to shine into the world in purity? No self doubts, no fear. Pure essence.
The art world might disappear; every life would be a work of art.
We are drawn to people with similar traits. If you love Monty Python, my senses are on high alert that we might get along. I will at least give you the benefit of the doubt. If you think Ellen Degeneres is funny or even has a hint of talent, I wouldn't take your hand if I was sliding off the earth and you reached out to save me.
We enjoy sharing similar interests but still do it uniquely. My take on Monty Python is a little different than yours, my brain perceives them differently than you do. You think this bit is funny, I think that bit is funny.
I am shooting for lofty goals in 2012, one of which is to invent an Essence Illuminator. A wand I can point at you to briefly reveal your truth. I could learn from that and bathe in the beauty of honesty and individuality. Maybe use it to set you straight if you so desire. Of course I would have to point it at myself first. I am completely delusional and I like it that way, but it would be stunning to face my own truth. I could skip all the bullshit and race down the right road, the road to inner peace. Or dive into a whiskey bottle if my soul proved to be dysfunctional (ghastly thought).
Personality is cool, even in the twisted, repressed way we express it. Air it out people, let it breathe. The more you expose it, the stronger it gets. The stronger it gets, the easier it will be to fight the good fight.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fascinating World

Had a teacher at Northeastern University named Gary Goshgarian. The course was called Science Fiction. I took it as an easy elective. It was held in an auditorium, seating up to 400 students (Northeastern is a BIG place).
The man was amazing. It was literally like being taught by Robin Williams. He was up on stage in front of hundreds of students, pacing around, manic and hilarious. And interesting. I LOVED this guy. It was probably the best course I took in college.
If I had half a brain, it should have sparked the desire in me to become a writer. He made the stories so interesting, and I already was an avid reader with a budding awareness of fledgling writing talent. But I wasn't paying much attention in college, do to the torture of the pursuit of an accounting degree. Jesus.
I graduated in 1977. Fast forward to December 2011. Got Northeastern magazine in the mail. They have been pursuing me for 34 years, looking for donations, mailing the magazine. I have not donated one dime and I always throw the magazine away.
This time I decided to go through it just for the hell of it and there was an article about Gary Goshgarian. He is a writer and still teaches at Northeastern. The article juiced me up, bringing back excellent memories. Just went online checking out his books and ended up buying one to get a taste.
How cool is that?
What a world.

Slip Sliding Towards 2012

I can't stop it. Can't slow it down. 2012 is coming and there is nothing I can do about it, short of dying, which I am not interested in doing right now.
Annual melancholia is creeping into my bones, seeping into my thoughts and I am struggling to stay on course. I do this every year, but it is more intense this year because of the effort I put into 2011.
No results to speak of. Other than the weight loss thing, and even that is in jeopardy. Have had two football Sundays involving a lot of caloric intake, and at least one more on the horizon. December has also already been dominated by strawberry cake and chocolate chip cookies. Tough sledding.
I will publicize my weight on January 1 and be done with it. I will leave you alone after that because I know you don't give a damn about my obesity, and I don't blame you. I have not weighed less than 170 pounds for at least fifteen or twenty years. That is the significance to me. It is a meaningful goal.
12/31 is a double whammy for me. The end of another calender year; the end of another year of my life. That is why it weighs so heavy on my mind.
On 01/01/12 I begin my 59th year on this planet. The trick will be to maintain my focus and keep that determination fired up. After the Christmas lights have come down and the tree goes back to the cellar, after my life returns to boring normalcy, after having achieved very little for my efforts, the challenge will be to keep working on myself.
I believe I am up to the challenge. I WANT with a vengeance never before experienced in my soul.
Until then you may have to indulge my critical introspection one or two more times. Bear with me; I'm only human.

Turning Passion Into Action (Stealing a Stand-Up)

republicans beware. Carol and I are on the front lines now, and we intend to honor our commitment with great vengeance and furious anger.
We met with a member of the re-elect President Barack Obama campaign last night in Concord to see what we could do to contribute to the campaign. We were jazzed in '08, passionate in our support of Barack Obama as he campaigned against lesser mortals. But we didn't get involved. Talked about it, but didn't do anything about it.
This time we are getting off our asses.
Met with a guy who is 75 years younger than us (Colin; that name seems to be popping up a lot lately in my blog) but passionate and knowledgeable in his support of President Obama. The room looked exactly as you would expect; sparsely decorated, cheap folding type table, folding chairs, stained upholstered chairs, buttons, posters and a President Barack Obama stand up. I have to find a way to steal the stand up; it is cool; I want it. It would be worth it just to piss off any republican sympathizers (god forbid) who enter my home.
Carol and I do not dig the phone call/door knocking stuff. We hate it when people interrupt us and we refuse to get involved in that. We're also not interested in standing around holding signs. We wanted to find out other ways to contribute to the campaign.
I suggested to Colin that I fill a burlap sack with ball peen hammers and walk around asking people if they will be voting republican. If the answer is yes, I smash them in the face with the bag. He listened intently and with respect and then gently steered me in more peaceable directions. What a leader.
Carol and I are very excited. There are ways to contribute that makes sense to us and we will do it. Period. We are all in. Carol volunteered to help out in the office, which I will also get involved in. Carol is super organized; she could single handedly run President Obama's re-election campaign if she wanted to. I was psyched to find out that there are writing opportunities available for me. I may have to tone down my anti-republican rhetoric but I am a professional; I believe I can handle it. Carol being the loving and thoughtful person that she is, even volunteered to prepare and donate food and munchies (CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES) to the campaign staff. Colin LOVED this idea. Most of these people work real jobs and volunteer at night, so they are running ragged, living on a diet of Doritos and Pepsi. I considered stealing packages of nips from The Booze Emporium to donate, but was once again dissuaded; this time by Carol.
It was exciting to be there. Felt good. Felt right. Kind of quiet last night but there were people there manning the phones and doing other stuff and you could just feel a vibe. I like it, and will like it even more when the place is bustling and buzzing with people who can recognize the difference between intelligence and integrity, and blatant cretinism.
This is my chance to make up for my lethargy back in the Viet Nam era when I was outraged and passionate but uninvolved. I have always regretted that I did not throw myself into the "change the world" revolution embraced by my generation. I regretted not getting involved in 2008 as well.
But lessons are learned and outrage stews over time until you have no choice but to act. What Carol and I can contribute is small and will have minimal impact, but at least we can say we helped to re-elect President Barack Obama in 2012. And it will feel so good when his presidency is finally vindicated somewhere down the road, when people realize how close to disaster this country came, saved only by the steely resolve and intelligent leadership of one man.
Hopefully the republican party will be destroyed in the process, when people realize they were willing to gamble with the future of this country in an all out effort to defeat the President rather than to do their jobs. The two party system can be easily maintained. republicans will quickly be replaced by kindergarten children, aged five years old and younger. Children with more wisdom, intelligence and compassion than any one of the current right wing fools currently deceiving their constituents.
We are excited. Feel like we are involved in something worthwhile. Ready to rock and ready to roll. Doing is more satisfying than talking about doing. Who knew?
If you see the stand up looking down on you from my balcony, please don't tell Colin.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas is 1000 m.p.h. Crazy

Yeah, baby. Got home after Amazing Football Insanity, Sunday to appreciate the additional decorating Carol had done while I was digging THE PATS. She strung beads on the Christmas tree, strung new lights in the kitchen, hung a garland thingy on the TV wall unit. Magnificent. Jumped my Christmas spirit up from super psyched to Insanely Excited.
Last night we watched Love Actually. Bingo bango bongo. Blam. Whammo. Kaboom. Crank that spirit up one more notch.
Do yourself a favor. Watch this movie. I wouldn't steer you wrong. Drop your pretensions and just dig it. It is pure fluff. Silliness, love, romance, Christmas hopefulness. It will warm your heart and ignite your Christmas spirit. The scene where Hugh Grant dances to the song Jump, rivals Tom Cruise in Risky Business. In fact I think it is better because of the character Grant is playing (Prime Minister of England). Billy Mack is one of those great movie characters, an over the hill rock star with a wicked attitude; you will dig him; he will make you laugh. Dig how Colin makes out with the American girls in Wisconsin. Lucky guy. The porn movie stand ins, Billy Bob Thornton as the President of the United States, Keira Knightley as the girl who married the wrong man, Liam Neeson as the widower with the love lorn son. The goddamn sound track alone is worth it. The boss who flirts with the office tramp, the devoted wife. Colin Firth (not the other Colin) as the jilted husband. Come on. Did you read those names? Just let your hair down and laugh and cry.
Anyway.............. so the Sunday decorations and Love Actually kicked everything into high gear. Suddenly its December 13 and we gotta make plans . When are we going shopping. What are we gonna buy. What can we afford. Whose coming for dinner. What will we serve and when will we buy it. Don't let Dad wrap the presents, it despoils the natural beauty of the holiday.
You get so consumed with All Things Christmas that time suddenly moves at faster miles an hour and you can't slow it down. Work gets in the way, impedes you from accomplishing Christmas stuff, and your paycheck is a REAL drawback when it comes to present buying time.
Whew.............................. what a crazy rush. Thanksgiving is a lot better. Just go out and buy a goddamn turkey and one can of gelatinous cranberry sauce and you're done.
BUT still, Christmas is something special. I've been listening to the Christmas songs at work. Over and over and over and over again. Its hitting me this year how much meaning we put into this day. Coming home for Christmas, seeing your love on Christmas, missing your love on Christmas, dreaming of being home on Christmas, Christmas heartbreak songs, touching meaning of Christmas songs, religious songs, Santa, Jesus, Frosty, Rudolph; Dean Martin, Elvis, Bing, Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Jose Feliciano.
Christmas has everyone's heart, regardless of the stress and running around and commercialism.
I dig it. I really dig it this year. Which is ironic, because with me as a Low Wage Earner it ain't gonna be much of a Christmas for anyone present-wise this year.
But I have the tree and the lights and the music and the spirit and the family and the friends. Could be that's what its all about. I'll look into it and get back to you.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Two Evil Kings of The Booze Underworld

"He wanted to get drunk and therefore he is drunk and there is no importance to his being drunk and it was not thinking that brought him to drinking and he is merely one more drinking fool, one more besotted tippler who may yet become a broken fool with a big red nose, a beet-colored beak for an insignia, a bulging encrimsoned nose hung on his face for a warning of the doom that comes to topers, a choice and fiery organ of smell that misled him to the redeye, to the demon's essence of corn, to the distilled extract of corn that has the curses and the mocking laughter of the Devil himself in the lure of its amber light dancing through the glass of the bottle."

Another gem from The Fiery Trail.

I must admit, its the evil reputation and nature of alcohol that is part of its allure to me. Apparently there are people who consume alcohol within the limits of what the medical profession describes as healthy. I don't know any but they are out there. I'm tempted to say that most people drink responsibly but I'm not sure that's true. I am willing to bet most people drink irresponsibly compared to the guidelines set down by Marcus Welby M.D.
Its good to be part of a fraternity that overindulges in the face of those who preach moderation. Feels good, feels right. Just a hint of evil and rebellion.
I am proud to be a whiskey drinker. So many guys tell me they can't drink whiskey, it makes them crazy. Carol would be the first one to tell you that whiskey makes me docile, insightful, obedient and just pleasant to be around.
Whiskey and tequila. They seem to be the most evil of drinks. Everybody has a tequila story. I do and it ain't pretty. Those two spirits seem to be the main instigators of evil. Whiskey drinkers and tequila drinkers have a bond, a shared pride in drinking a poison that burns down your inhibitions and slices right through to the truth with no pretense, no bullshit. Purists drink them neat, baby - no water, no ice. That is truly mocking The Devil.
And I gotta be honest with you. I love the curses and the mocking laughter of the Devil himself in the lure of the amber light that dances through every Crown Royal bottle. Especially at night. Especially at this time of year when Christmas lights add a twisted note of evil to the experience.
I'm waiting for you, Santa. What will it be? Whiskey or a little salt and lemon?

Apology Accepted/Rejected

Wow, that George Harrison post was dry. Devoid of passion. I apologize to you; I apologize to George.

You see my brain is in a bit of a fog today. Yesterday I enjoyed the perfect football Sunday. Absolutely fantastic. Booze, smoke, prime rib and a PATS victory. Good conversation, lots of laughs.
A bunch of derelicts gathered in a den of iniquity and did football the way it is supposed to be done.
All testosterone all the time, no estrogen.

Today I am slow moving and largely unaware. Although I did force myself to exercise, which is The Supreme Accomplishment of Dedication and Determination. Thank you Father for I have sinned. If you could look at my brain today you would see that it is wrapped in cotton. Synapses are firing slowly, some not at all. Whatever thoughts are in there are wandering around aimlessly with no purpose, no focus and no means of expression.

But it was worth it. I'll be back in fighting trim tomorrow and in the meantime I have hazy memories of yesterday to pierce the fog from time to time.

Might try to come up with something insightful and riveting later today.

Or not.

George Harrison

When I was writing about John Lennon, it occurred to me that I have been rude to George Harrison. His death was no less of a shock to me; The Beatles exploded my life and I worship them. George died on November 29, 2001 and yet I do not mark that date in my brain as I do December 8. I will from now on. I cannot believe it has been ten years. Unacceptable.
Around the time he died, a DJ pissed me off to the point of murder. But I didn't kill him. I was agonizing over George's inevitable death from cancer. It was on everybody's mind when he got close to the end. On my way to work, radio on and this asshead said "We have a celebrity death to report AFTER THESE MESSAGES." He used death to keep his listeners tuned and he knew everybody was expecting it to be George. I was hurting AND furious at this idiot DJ. He came back from the break to report somebody else's death, I don't even remember who it was. What a microscopic bug of a fool.
George and John were the seekers, the thinkers. I am not diminishing Ringo and Paul; they are Beatles, they are Gods. My opinion is that George and John did enormous soul searching and questioning and learning; they were active participants in their own lives and they lived according to their beliefs. I think that is enormously impressive when you consider the size of their celebrity. They could easily have gotten lost and just drifted their lives away.
George got a raw deal. As a Beatle, he was lost in the shadow of John and Paul. He was younger than them when the group formed and was not really considered a peer. He was a magnificent guitar player and songwriter, but J&P would only allow him minimal exposure on their albums, limiting him for a long time to maybe one song an album. Eventually they lightened up and he contributed more, but the drawback was that a lot of people had no idea how talented he was. His first solo album was delicious payback. All Things Must Pass. A TRIPLE album. It was like all his pent up creativity exploded when he was given free reign. Exquisite stuff.
He was known as the quiet Beatle, which he was, but he had a wicked sense of humor. Go back and watch some of their early interviews where J&P are the focus, and listen to the sharp and hilarious comments made by George. Interviewer: "How do you sleep at night with long hair?" George: "How do you sleep with your arms and legs still attached?" He was close friends with the members of Monty Python and formed a film company that helped to finance Life of Brian. If you are keeping company with Monty Python you have to have a wicked sense of humor.
He was a guitar player's guitar player. Exquisite and emotional. That is always the ultimate compliment, when your peers look up to you, recognizing a talent that others cannot appreciate.  Clapton and many others worshipped him. But he did it quietly, he was not flashy, he was a very grounded guy who came into himself at an early age and kept improving upon that.
George discovered the sitar in the mid sixties, which he studied seriously and learned to play well. This led him to an interest in and exploration of eastern spiritual practices, which ended up defining his life.
He travelled to Haight Ashbury at the height of it's popularity and came back disillusioned. He went expecting a spiritual and cultural  awakening but came back with reports of teenagers exploiting the situation for sexual reasons and drug use with no concept of how to change the world in a positive way. They followed him around like he was a god, which drove him to get the hell out of there as quickly as possible. I was impressed that he criticized the movement in that way considering the times, and his role as a cultural icon.
George was almost killed by an intruder into his home in 1999. The guy broke a window, and while George's wife summoned the police, George wrestled with the man and was almost fatally stabbed. What the hell is it with people trying to kill Beatles?
George Harrison was an impressive human being who used his talent and intelligence to continually improve his life. He lived life the way it should be lived, seeking, learning, changing and evolving. And along the way he gave us beautiful music.
We needed George Harrison then and we need him now.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Pleasant Update

The Running Dog is alive and well. He chased Carol and me in The Peacemobile last week.

All is right with the world, baby.

Dirty Books Done Dirt Cheap

Picked up three books at the dump last week. This is a new experience for me. The wife and I popped into the swap shop and there they were. What the hell, they're free.

Final Edge by Robert W. Walker. Never heard of the book or the author. Started reading it yesterday and was delighted. The book opens with a psycho woman and her love slave decapitating an innocent victim in a ritual to exact revenge on the world. I have to admit. I like gruesome stuff like this. If it makes me uncomfortable I know I'm alive. It wasn't the decapitation that made me squirm, it was the idea of picking a random person out of the phone book and killing them. Imagine the thoughts going through that poor woman's head as the ax fell. That is horror, baby.

Sketches by Mark Twain.  An old, brown, beat up book; yellowed pages, stains. An absolute delight. A collection of musings from the man himself. Can't wait to dig into this little beauty. It's Mark Twain, baby. Say no more, say no more.

Cosmos by Carl Sagan. A big hardcover monstrosity. Who the hell reads Cosmos by Carl Sagan? Billions and billions of stars. I am going to read this just because it is so far outside the range of what I would normally read. And that's a pretty damn big range.

So it was a cool haul. Books from the dump. How bizarre, how bizarre.

A Nice Ride

If all else fails, I always have a nice ride.
I'm not talking about the Ferrari 458 Italia I so covet; I'm talking about a peaceful commute.
When I first started working at The Booze Emporium I would leave enough time to take the back roads. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes longer but it is worth it. Just like everything else, once I got over the newness of my work situation, I slipped into lethargy, leaving only 30 seconds more than the minimum time required to get to work. So I had to start taking the highway.
I don't like highways. They are boring. Highways are only good if you are drunk or not awake, then you are in the perfect mental state to just point your car forward and drive fast; and be bored. Plus you have to deal with low intellects who speed up on your ass OR, if you are on a two way road, people who drive 40 mph in a 55 mph zone, backing up a line of cars 23 long.
People who fall into the latter category should be hanged, drawn and quartered in the public square. Popcorn and soda available for a nominal fee.
I have gotten back into the habit of leaving a little earlier and taking the peaceful route. I think I am trying to dig in as year end looms; trying to grab as much peace and introspection as I can. Because when January 1 rolls around, it seems like everything shifts back into high gear. You rip down all your Christmas decorations with a vengeance and get back to the horrific grind of everyday existence. Compared to the beauty of the season just passed, everything seems to move at double speed. And the horror of a return to normalcy overwhelms you.
I will give winter one thing - on a sunny cold day, the air is crystal clear. As I drive the back roads, the beauty of the houses and the yards and the pets and the trees and the stone walls jump out at you in 3D. You know you are in New England. Rustic houses, country homes, horses condemned to small fields (horses belong in Montana), immaculate barns, decrepit barns, collapsed barns, rusted cars in the yard, lots of white occasionally interrupted with an insane purple. Farms. Orchards.
I spend so much time looking around and thinking about the lives of the people in those homes that once in a while I drive right up over a stone wall onto a front lawn. The owner will typically come out with a cup of coffee and say "Nice commute, huh?"
The ride home is even better, especially at this time of year. Dark, cold, lights on in the houses, lights on outside the houses and in the bushes and along the roof edge. I'm tired from another Booze Emporium beating, settled deep into the driver's seat, encouraging my heater to please crank up to civilized levels, and looking around. The GOD TV (usually huge) illuminating every living room (but probably not the lives in that living room).
During the commute to work I am looking at empty houses. At night I am looking at the homes of people who have survived another day. People eating dinner, reading, watching TV, performing the rituals that make them feel warm and comfortable and safe.
The back road commute makes me feel alive. Engaged. The highway makes me feel dead. Enslaved by deadlines and commitments. There is probably a beautiful metaphor in there about life. Moving too fast and missing everything versus slowing down and tasting life a little. I'm too tired to explore that right now. Figure it out for yourself.
 Gotta work today. Not up for it. It's Saturday and I should be home like all normal humans. No choice. The Mortgage Vampire is sitting right outside my picture window with an expensive cognac and a fat cigar, daring me to blow off work and a day's pay.
If all else fails, I always have a nice ride.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

December 8 Every Year

Today is the 31st anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon. I cannot believe it has been that long and I cannot believe he died the way he did. Within the fabric of the universe, it is so implausible that he would be gunned down, that my brain cannot process the information.
When George Harrison died it broke my heart as well, but we saw it coming. He was diagnosed with cancer and suffered through it until he could fight no longer. There was kind of a morbid death watch going on and I hated every minute of it. Even though I knew he would be better off in whatever peaceful afterlife he had created for himself, I could not stomach the idea of another Beatle dying.
John's death was a huge shock. I had gone to bed before they announced it on Monday night football. Apparently I was too wimpy to stay up and watch the whole game. I was eating my Wheaties the next morning with the radio on and they played a bunch of Beatles songs in a row. I got chills. Knew something was up. Was devastated when they talked about it.
A man who devoted his life to promoting peace being gunned down by a clueless idiot. A man who adopted New York City as his home because he felt comfortable there. He could walk around and people would respectfully approach him but he was never harassed. He dug that. And got killed for it.
John's music is straight ahead. Brutally honest. His emotions were raw and he put them out there for all to see. His first solo album is so raw and emotional it is both painful and cathartic to listen to. Take a chance - listen to Mother - see how it makes you feel.
He was the antithesis of the typical rock star. He allowed people to see his humanity; he was sensitive and loving, intelligent and vulnerable and he didn't mind you knowing that.
He took a lot of crap for the way he promoted his beliefs, especially after meeting Yoko, but he was willing to be ridiculed in order to bring attention to causes he felt were important. Especially peace. He used his celebrity in a positive way and he tried so very hard to change the world, to get his message across, to get people to think differently.
It takes a lot more strength to expose your honest emotions and feelings than it does to walk around in a testosterone haze pretending to be so damn tough. When Sean was born, John took five years off from the music biz to take care of his son. There are iconic photos of him in a Japanese kimono, hair pulled back in a tight ponytail, holding Sean in his arms. He bragged about the fact that he had learned how to bake bread. A giant in the music world who scaled his life all the way back to home and family and absolutely loved it.
He emerged in 1980 armed with the creativity inspired by pure family love and released an unbelievable album. Then he got killed. He had a whole new perspective and the talent to express it, and he was robbed of that chance. And we were robbed of that chance.
Beautiful Boy was John's song to Sean. Beautiful lyrics full of love and hope. Cool video. At the end John whispers "Good night, Sean. See you in the morning." It destroys me every time I hear it.
When Beautiful Boy was released, it ripped me apart. Because of Sean, because of John, and because I had a son of my own, born in 1980. Those emotions carried forward to 1983 when son number two was born and on into today. I would listen to that song alone when they were in bed, consumed with my love for them, knowing how lucky I was to be able to hold them in my arms and kiss them on the cheek.
The world needed John Lennon. The world still needs John Lennon. Imagine what he would be doing today to promote peace and to try to bring some sanity into our ridiculous government.
I think he made people uncomfortable with his honesty and his willingness to call any kind of attention to himself to get his message out. Some say his message of peace and love and a world without war are simplistic, but we all know deep down inside that that is what we all want.
But we are all jaded, so we joke about it. John Lennon had the guts to try to do something about it against all odds.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


As I was stewing over idiot republicans kissing Trump's ass, it occurred to me the Mayans might have it right. End of the world on 12/21/12. The Presidential election is on November 6, 2012. It makes perfect sense.
If American voters continue to worship reality TV, and allow their prejudices and lack of knowledge to be manipulated by rich republicans, we could end up with a republican in the White House.
Having sealed the deal, the president-elect would then say or do something so stupid that even the American public would wake up and say "My god, what have we done?" Kind of like the way the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences reacted after awarding a Grammy to Milli Vanilli.
But it would be too late. Voters' inability to reverse the election results (horrifying deja vu from the 2000 election) would result in rioting in the streets, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria. The United States would plunge into violence and mayhem and be totally destroyed, dragging the rest of the world down with it.
However, while researching the 12/21/12 thing, I came across an interesting interpretation. This presents the point of view that "an apocalypse is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception. Both the Hopis and Mayans recognize that we are approaching the end of a World Age, but do not prophesize that everything will come to an end. This is a time of transition from one World Age to another. The message is that we have a choice of how we enter the future ahead. Our moving through with either resistance or acceptance will determine whether the transition will happen with cataclysmic changes or gradual peace and tranquility."
I love this. You cannot deny that we live in an age of falsehoods and misconception. You cannot deny that we are on the precipice, that this is a time of transition, and we have a world altering choice to make.
President Barack Obama or Milli Vanilli.
Of course right now the American public is too busy texting and tweeting and forwarding internet jokes and enjoying portable porn on their phone/camera/communication/glorified-toy devices, to be concerned about anything as trivial as a Presidential election.
Milli Vanilli represents resistance and cataclysmic change. President Barack Obama represents acceptance and gradual peace and tranquility. The trick is to get voters to realize this. How, I don't know.
Once people adopt a position they stick with it. It would be helpful to get MSNBC viewers to watch Fox and vica versa. Fox viewers would get facts, and maybe realize that they have a brain that can be actively engaged, rather than to mindlessly gobble up partisan propaganda, distorted information, and lies, while being distracted by the crossed legs of the Fox news babes. MSNBC viewers would enjoy the therapy of laughter, although John Stewart and Stephen Colbert provide a healthier outlet because they can distinguish between reality and fantasy.
I have a personal stake in believing the more positive 12/21/12 theory, because I have just discovered the concepts of hope and self improvement. It would really suck if Random House offered me a $750,000 book advance on 12/20/12 and I woke up to dogs and cats living together the next day.
We'll see. Its kind of cool to think the world might end in a year. We wouldn't have to work anymore or kiss the Mortgage Vampire's ass or eat Dinty Moore's beef stew. We'd find out if Jesus is a cool dude or just an imaginary friend.
I choose life. I have worked too hard and come too far in almost 58 years to get taken down by Milli Vanilli. If I have to be destroyed, let it be Air Supply.

Monday, December 5, 2011

An Immigrant Baseball

My brother gave me a baseball, a hardball earlier this year. I love the way a baseball feels in my hand. I keep it perched in a rocks glass next to my recliner. Somehow that seemed appropriate. On those rare occasions when I am in my recliner and awake, I hold the baseball, squeeze it, bounce it off the arm of the chair.
I enjoy this.
This morning it was sitting in the rocks glass in such a way that the word China was facing me. I have noticed this before, but today it smacked me in the face.
A baseball with the word China on it.
I find that disturbing.

Goals, Not Ghouls

I'm thinking about this whole setting goals and working to achieve them thing. I lost a couple of pounds and I'm feeling good about myself. It wasn't easy. Ups and downs, I kept tinkering with the exercise combination, tinkering with the diet, but all the while I was building this fierce determination. Of course it helps to put it all in print. I don't want to look like a fool. A loser.
And of course achieving this intermediate goal is only a step. I will have to maintain this discipline FOREVER if I want to avoid gaining the flab back, and especially if I want to lose more poundage (which I do, damn that beer belly).
It has been an interesting experiment and one from which I have gained a lot of wisdom. (Wisdom sounds cooler than knowledge).
Somewhere along the way in my life, I got broken. Worked for my Dad for two years after college and that was a disaster. I was not suited for the job and it ate my guts up. I took my college degree and ran screaming into the warm and welcoming arms of accounting. Twelve seconds into that career I realized that the whole corporate thing was hideous and that number crunching was anathema to my free wheeling nature. So of course I stuck with it for 26 years.
In 1994 Carol and I bought a business and I was convinced that was my ticket out. An escape from corporate America, a ticket to retirement. Four years later we were bankrupt and almost lost our home.
Along this life route, hope died. I started marking time. Not working towards anything, empty of inspiration, empty in my heart and in my soul. The walking dead.
I actually believed that I would die young, and was continuously surprised as thirty turned to forty which turned to fifty.
I am not sure what the catalyst was, but this year I decided to try. Set some goals in my head and started devoting myself to achieving them. I noticed that I feel more alive. And now that I achieved one small goal, I noticed that I feel more confident.
Unless you are a pampered idiot with the last name Hilton or Kardashian, you have to work hard to succeed. Especially at my age, where everything is stacked against me.
Vegas odds makers are giving  trillion to one odds that I will ever succeed at anything.
The working hard felt good, and the achieving felt good. I may have discovered a new drug. Someone call Huey Lewis.
2012 looms. I have decided I need more goals. I want to get paid for writing. That is a modest goal. I didn't say I want to make a living from writing, I said I want to get paid for it. Its actually a carryover goal, I wanted that this year but it ain't gonna happen. But my determination and dedication has already ramped up. If I can lose weight at my advanced age, I can succeed as a writer at my advanced age. I have written 60 trillion words in the last 20 years and not one of them has returned to me with dollar bills attached. I WANT that.
I set materialistic goals as well. I want to buy myself a new car. Not a new used car, a new car. I cannot even remember the last time I drove a new car. I want to buy a Movado watch. Within the fabric of the universe, these are tiny goals. I want to be able to afford to take my lovely wife out to dinner once a week. That's the first goal I want to accomplish and I want that one quickly.
I thought I could coast through life and slip quietly into the void. But that would make me just like everybody else. I am better than that and I want a lot more than that. Success in my ancient years will taste so sweet that I will have to give up my passion for dark semi-sweet chocolate.
Change is exciting, especially when it comes from within. When you can feel it in your heart and soul; that's when you know it is real.
Vegas odds makers can kiss my ass.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Artificial Intelligence, Genuine Stupidity

Donald Trump will be hosting a republican debate on December 27th in Iowa. This is like choosing the homeless guy that hangs at the entrance of the plaza I work in with his cardboard sign, to host the next world economic summit. The state of Iowa should be expelled from the union for allowing this to happen.
First this asshead mocks the primary process by getting involved and then wasting voters and the medias time with the birther crap. He was toying with an incendiary topic that the American public laps up because they are racist and uneducated.
The republican "candidates" having been making pilgrimages to Trump towers to kiss his ring and no doubt a certain body part that is indistinguishable from his head. How unbelievably disgusting is this? I have gained a little respect for Huntsman because he has mocked the whole thing. But the others have no limit to how low they will go to exhibit their inherent stupidity and complete lack of regard for the potential ruin of this country. Apparently they believe their wealth will get them through the financial collapse of this country. They certainly cannot be relying on their own intelligence.
If the country does go down, I pray they do as well. I would love to come face to face with one of these fools, both of us in rags as we wrestle over a dented can of Chef Boyardee spaghettio's. After wrenching it out of their dainty hands I would spit in their face while uttering a four syllable word that would leave them permanently perplexed.
These people think they are invincible. They think they can waste four years riding out President Obama's first term, hoping to jump in in 2013. Meanwhile the entire world economy is collapsing.
I despise them and I despise the American public for allowing it to happen. The people in this country have mutated into obese, unintelligent, reality TV watching Dancing With the Stars worshipping cretins. They watch so much reality TV they don't even know what reality is anymore. Fat, dumb, broke and content.
The lofty ideals this country was founded on have been twisted into a complex scheme to create wealth at the expense of the average John (screw that Joe shit). And its a lot easier to accomplish this with a general population that is fat, dumb, broke and content.
OK that's the ranting part of today's equation. Let me try a little logic. I will grant you the right to be a republican. To have a point of view that is different than mine. But can you honestly support any of the republican "candidates" as a serious presidential contender? The only two that project a sense of stability are Romney and Huntsman. And I think if you do a little digging you might be disappointed there as well. And shouldn't republican voters be incensed at the games being played at the expense of the stability of this country? Why don't republicans stand up and demand a real candidate? Someone who will fight to save this country rather than fighting to defeat President Barack Obama. It is difficult for me to say this, but I am sure there are intelligent, informed republican voters out there. Are you telling me they are not disgusted by this freak show?
Joe Scarborough, host of Morning Joe on MSNBC, a conservative former republican representative, said recently these times are too dangerous to change horses in mid stream. He is an arrogant, decidedly conservative  guy who has a lot of negative things to say about President Barack Obama and the Democrats. But he has the intelligence and the guts to admit we cannot afford to boot The President out of office right now. I can respect him for that.
I think underlying that comment is an understanding that this President is remarkably intelligent. He may not be politically savvy but, given time, hopefully intelligence can win out over partisanship and pettiness. Underlying that comment as well is an understanding that the current crop of republican "candidates" is intellectually bereft.
So where are the other republicans with similar opinions? republicans should not be rising up against President Barack Obama, republicans should be rising up against their own presidential contenders.
I will keep hammering away at this. I cannot take the chance that your political opinion might be swayed by someone as grotesque and stupid and self serving as Newt Gingrich.
Don't worry, you don't have to rip yourself away from Dancing With The Stars, or even put down your triple extra thick bacon Velveeta cheese and Crisco burger. During a commercial break, just jump onto your computer phone (I'm sure it was already in your hand even as you watched the scintillating entertainment in front of you) and dial up my blog. I will keep you focused.
I'm sure the phone comes equipped with windshield wipers to swipe away the grease you drip onto the screen.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas 2011: In A Happier Place

Christmas music is piercing the air of The Booze Emporium. If I am not mistaken, which happens from time to time, I believe it started on the day before Thanksgiving.
This drives most people crazy. A constant loop of Christmas tunes.
I don't mind. I like the music. I am partial to the emotional, dramatic songs. Not a big fan of Frosty The Snowman.
One of the songs talks about how Christmas comes from the heart. It slam danced me to the floor, I bounced up and started whirling around the store with arms outstretched and a smile on my face.
I am digging Christmas this year. Its vibe is coursing through my veins and I like the way it feels. This is not normally the case. There have been many years when the day itself mattered, but everything leading up to it meant nothing.
My heart is in a different place this year. I have worked very hard this year on myself and although I am still not driving a bright red Ferrari 458 Italia, I have made a change. Deep down inside of me where nobody else knows, nobody else can see.
I feel optimistic. I think I am experiencing something called happiness, although the feeling is foreign to me and I cannot be unequivocally sure.
So my heart and arms are open and I am feeling Christmas every day. Digging the lights when I drive home at night, digging the music, digging the subtle change that comes over people at this time of year, looking forward to another glorious day with my family in whatever permutation materializes on the 25th.
Carol and I vowed to put our tree up on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. We didn't do it. Now I am anxious beyond belief to put it up before time slips away and we are doing it on 12/24. Anxious to slap Love Actually into the DVD machine on a quiet night and dig it with my loving wife. And then do it again at least five more times before wrapping paper is shredded.
I love sitting at night with only the Christmas tree lights on, listening to music or listening to my heart. It provokes introspection and peace within me, tears sometimes. I enjoy those moments deeply. An escape from harsh reality into the absolute truth of my heart and of my soul.
Side thought. John Lennon and Paul McCartney, two titans of the music world. Gods. Paul's contribution to the season is Wonderful Christmas Time. John's is Happy Christmas (War is Over). Tells you everything you need to know about their different perspectives. I prefer John's offering. Its introspective, it asks you to think about your year, what have you done, wishes you fun on Christmas and a new year without any fear for EVERYONE. That is my idea of Christmas and the new year.
There was a Christmas season recently when I would cloister myself in my writing room at night after work and pop on a John Lennon greatest hits CD. Happy Christmas and Imagine were back to back on the CD. I would play them over and over and over, night after night. Listening in tears. I was really down at the time and I needed to hear those words because they reflect my opinion of how the world should be. I didn't believe any of that could ever come true, but I was desperate for words of hope.
I can listen to them this year from a completely different perspective. I still don't believe any of it will ever come true, but now the words reinforce the hope I have in my heart, the hope I have for me and my family. I can't worry about this evil world we live in. At least not all the time. But I can create a 100 mile vibe that may bring me elusive happiness and protect my family. The tears will be happy tears in 2011.
That is why I am so glad that my heart is open this year and that I am feeling Christmas. It changes everything. For a brief period I can enjoy feeling different. More alive, more aware, more reflective, more grateful. And sometimes even just plain happy.
One complaint. There is a song that pops up every year with a chorus that includes the line "in the air". It is a dramatic and a beautiful song, maybe my favorite Christmas song (if it is a Christmas song). It was on The Booze Emporium loop last year; not this year. I have searched for it under many variations and never been able to find it. But this is 2011. I will find it. I will own it and I will drive Carol crazy listening to it repeatedly.
That's it. I am in Christmas mode and I make no apologies. Gonna ride this supreme feeling right into 2012 and into the driver's seat of a brand spanking new bright red Ferrari 458 Italia.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Weight (one of my favorite songs)

Yesterday was December 1, 2011.

I weighed 169 pounds.

I warned you earlier this year not to bet against me. I am focused, determined, and dedicated to working hard. I want what I want and I want it bad. The goal was to weigh 169 pounds or less by December 31. I have achieved that by December 1. It took enormous focus and determination to get there. At the age of fifty seven, you have to exercise 37 hours per day and eat 1 banana per day and nothing else, in order to lose 6 ounces every other month.

Contrary to what you have heard, I am not a fool. I know that I can very easily gain 426 pounds in the month of December alone. One slice of pizza, one cheeseburger. So I am fanatically devoted to maintaining this weight or, even better, losing another pound or two.

Trust me, I will not be defeated.

That's all I'm gonna say tonight. I am exhausted. It has been a very hard two days for me at two Booze Emporiums.

Tomorrow could be difficult for you. I have not been able to write for two days. I am jonesing. Wrote down four ideas on a quart booze bag in work today. FOUR.

I need to write like a corporate killer needs to kill.

I am proud of the weight loss. I don't give a damn if you think its trivial or not. Your negative opinions are about as useful as projectile vomiting.

Until tomorrow, I remain your 169 pound word addict.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

An Amazing Archeological Discovery

You people are in serious trouble. I keep notebooks, scraps of paper, and now ripped up quart sized booze bags lying around the house with notes and ideas and thoughts and inspirations to write about and from.
I found one yesterday that is three years old. I know this because there is a reference in there to The Allman Brothers Band upcoming 39th anniversary. That was in 2008.
I read my own thoughts with great relish and affection.
First of all I titled the notebook "Small Thoughts of a Restless Mind with Deadly Overtones." That is an absolutely fantastic title. I will use that somewhere. Its perfect.
One note says the perfect epitaph is "Happily Dead". Love it. That's back when I thought being dead was preferable to being a low wage earner and kissing the ass of the Mortgage Vampire. Which it is if you have no hope. In 2011 I have hope.
Got another that says "Love is for ugly people". My theory there was that beautiful people don't know what love is because they can have anybody they want. So their relationships are all about sex and narcissism.
Another entry - "When the phone rings..............Jonathan, Lisska". Was thinking about my hatred of phones and it was inspired by two bad news phone calls.
"I would like to live alone in a small sparsely furnished room and slowly drink myself into a stupor every night while writing poetry."
"If I don't have secrets, how can I know who I am?" Another one that I love.
There is a very bizarre dream summarized over two pages that involves me, Johnny Cash, the Jaworskis, an elevator that rises to the thirteenth floor and then "rolls over the top like a ball", my parents, Jack Lemmon and Room 1308. Wow. I am not kidding.
"So much sadder when the owner dies before the pet". Humans understand death (to a point); pets do not.
Try this one on for size:
"I do not know how to be happy in this world
I do not know how to "succeed" in this world
But I keep trying
I don't care about their rules
I have my own definitions
I just can't read them yet (don't know where I left them)."
Very tasty.
There are some horrible failed attempts at poetry. There is one called "My Friends Keep Picking Up The Tab." This references my constant and crushing poverty and how when I meet up with two of my old friends they always pay. The poem sucks but the idea still resonates with me. I can work with this.
I was in a much darker place back then. "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now." Thank you Mr. Zimmerman, I had to steal that line; it seemed to fit.
What blew me away was reading these words, thoughts, ideas from the perspective of the 2011 version of The Joe. It was like reading someone else's writing.
There is a lot to work with there, and now the interpretations will come from a slightly or, at times, a vastly different place.
So you are in trouble because I am jazzed. When I'm jazzed, I spew. Even if I don't use any of this stuff (which is highly unlikely; I am narcissistic and love these notes), I am throbbing and humming and thrumming with inspiration and fresh, rehashed ideas.
I am a very dangerous man in this state. I hop around and bop around in a creative frenzy and forget to drink my milk and take my vitamins.
I can't focus on the picayune details of life and will sometimes leave the house wearing one cowboy boot and one slipper.
This frenzy amplifies my already unstable state. I am a creative person; I have no common sense. Typical conversation with Carol: Me - "Every time it rains I get soaking wet. I don't understand it." Carol - "Have you thought about wearing a jacket and a hat or maybe carrying an umbrella?" Fifteen second pause. Me - "No, actually I haven't tried that. Maybe I'll give it a shot." Carol - "Idiot."
Sometimes when I write every day I get stale. Every great once in a while I feel myself forcing it. Which I hate because I am spontaneous and speak best from the soul.
I am energized now. Feeling good about myself. The way I should about myself.
I like my bizarre mind and I like the way I write. Sounds cocky, but you have to have confidence to do something as risky as writing. I mean, give me a break, I gotta feel good about something.
Duck - strange word happenings are about to come your way.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Lamb is a wonderful meat,
and so damn delicious to eat.
Its all that I need,
whenever I feed.
Fine wine and the meal is complete.

What I Want

I want to prance like a race horse
Dance like Astaire
Write like HST
and speechify like Lincoln
I want to drive like Earnhardt Sr.
and earn like Jobs
I want to love like Valentino
and laugh like Eddie Murphy
I want all of that and I want
to    be    me    too


Death you are a coward.

You’re powerful but you hide,

rarely tipping your hand, unless

you feel like torturing someone.
Why not tell me when I’ll die,

then we can deal with it face to face.
And what will you show me,

eternity or finality?
Playing it close to the vest even

though you have nothing to lose,
I fear you but do not respect you.

I won’t cower when we meet;
I refuse to give you the satisfaction.

The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band is playing at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston tonight, tomorrow night, Friday night and Saturday night.
I will not be there. I am on the FUP list. Financially Unable to Perform.
This breaks my heart. Once again poverty cripples my happiness.
Saw Gregg solo in January, saw ABB at The Beacon Theatre in NYC in March. Both concerts were exquisite. They did not tour this summer which is extremely rare. I see them every summer. Twice.
My heart and my soul will be with them on those four nights. I can close my eyes and picture them on stage, I can listen to their music in my mind. I can dream about a day when something as simple as a fucking concert is not outside my financial reach.
You ask me - Joe - Beatles, Stones or ABB - if you could attend only one concert who would it be? The Allman Brothers Band. The Beatles and The Stones mean everything to me. They defined my life (in my mind). They freed me (in my mind). ABB came along a little later - 1969 was the year of their first album and my epiphany.
My choice may surprise you. It is a visceral thing. I cannot put into words what ABB does to me. I can only tell you they speak directly to my soul, my heart, my essence, my spirit - it is something I feel when I listen to their music and it is a direct connection to the vibration of my life, my existence. It goes that deep. It is that natural. It is that mystical, magical and surreal.
So you can understand my disappointment at not being able to attend.
See you next summer, boys.

The Stones

The Stones are gearing up to celebrate their 50th anniversary. FIFTIETH. Getting serious about going out on tour next year. They haven't toured since 2007. I already warned Carol that we will see them even if it means taking out a second and a third mortgage on the house I live in which the bank owns.
I'm always amused when people say they own a house. You don't own the damn thing until you make that last payment. Until then the Mortgage Vampire owns you.
We have seen The Stones twice but they were tiny specks. Foxboro Stadium. Steel Wheels. Voodoo Lounge. Rocked my brains out but spent more time watching the video screen than the stage.
I blew it in '02 - The Forty Licks Tour -  because they did an arena/stadium/club tour. They actually played the Orpheum Theatre in Boston. That was the place to be, but I had to spend money on food and clothing instead. I regret that deeply.
I think Keith is pressing for something like that as part of this tour, but Mick ain't into it. I doubt it will happen.
However, with the money collected from a second and third mortgage I CAN get front row seats. This is what I want.
People mock The Stones and I hate them for it. Too old to tour. Too old to play rock 'n roll. BULLSHIT. Old blues dudes, the masters, played concerts into their nineties. Still do. Look at B.B. (86), Buddy Guy (who absolutely ROCKS for a 75 year old), Luther Guitar Jr. Johnson (72).
The Stones are musicians and damn good ones. The only one who might slow down is Mick and I personally think he still struts his stuff pretty damn good.
The Stones celebrating fifty years is like me celebrating my life. That's when I was really born, when The Beatles and The Stones blew up the world. I would give anything, anything you ask, to have John and George still alive and The Beatles touring every few years. I never got to see them in concert. It is one of many reasons that I am warped and dysfunctional.
The Stones are the keepers of the flame. They still rock, they do it with class and style, they are respected within the world of music. They are not an oldies act or nostalgia on display; they are still at the top of their game. Keith would never allow them to embarrass themselves. He understands and respects the music, their legacy and their place within music history.
I will have that front row seat. I expect Keith to outlive me but it is a risky bet. I would rather be out there next year, just in case, recharging and electrifying my soul close up with the music that changed my life and privileged me with a glimpse, a feel for what my life could be. I haven't lived up to that promise yet but I ain't done, baby.
If I have to eat cat food four days a week and only water the other three for the next ten years following the concert, it will be worth it.
Are you with me babe?

Anxiety Is A Tool, Bubba

Anxiety is a strange little animal. Furry, ugly and quite bizarre in origin and intent.
Just read an article in Time magazine about anxiety. It focused on the potential good effects or uses of anxiety. The point, as far as my tiny brain could interpret, was that if you can teach yourself that dire consequences typically do not follow the things you worry about, anxiety will not consume you.
Richard Lewis, the king of anxiety, performs his stand-up without a fixed script, insisting that he needs his anxiety to make it through his time onstage. "Before I go on, I'm a nervous wreck. But ultimately I feel more comfortable being uncomfortable.  I spend about 30 to 40 hours looking over thousands and thousands of ideas on my computer before a show, and I tell myself to let it go, have some confidence. The anxiety will creep in there really fast, but I eventually embrace it and say enough is enough."
Athletes use anxiety to their benefit. There is a definite relationship between stress and performance and the pros take it to it's peak and then walk away. In other words they don't torture themselves with anxiety, they use it as a tool.
The article caught my attention because anxiety is my most constant companion. I have spent more time with anxiety than I have with Carol.
I can't seem to make the leap from useless worry to a "screw it what's the worst that could happen" attitude. I'm working on it, just not quite there.
I have consulted with Dr. Joe Testa who came up with the diagnosis that I am not comfortable in my own skin because I am living someone else's life, and this causes me relentless anxiety. I respect Dr. Joe, he is knowledgeable and free with the prescription pad, so I believe in his theory. I got off track way back in my childhood and have floundered in the wilderness of lost souls most of my life. I am just recently trying to swim back upstream in attempt to fuse the ethereal me with the physical me.
It's quite a struggle.
One thing that bothered me about the article was the negative physical effects of unfocused anxiety on your health. Weakening the immune system and so on. Makes me wonder why I am not dead. Also makes me think I am pretty invincible if I can survive 42 years of stress and still keep moving.
I have this theory that it will all come home to roost one of these days. I'll wake up one morning with a face like Morley Safer (60 Minutes), boils on my back, a curmudgeonly attitude, stooped over and rapping people on the ankles with my cane.
Deep breathing helps, but at my level of dysfunction I have had to learn how to survive while hyperventilating 73% of the time.
I imagine most of us are anxious. Life ain't no cakewalk, baby. Maybe other people handle it better than me. Maybe not. I see a lot of anxious people every day lovingly clutching their bottled elixir as they walk happily out of The Booze Emporium towards the sanctity of recliner, TV and oblivion.
After 42 years of self imposed stress, those thought patterns get hard wired into your brain. That's why what I am attempting to do now is like trying to dismantle the Empire State Building with a spoon. What I need is a blowtorch, sledgehammer and a fiercely focused laser scalpel.
I laugh sometimes when I realize I am stressed about some meaningless thing, when I think about how often I feel this way, how it creeps in over and over again. I fight it back with logic and breathing (and whiskey when it gets really pernicious) and then, when I am distracted, it is right back there again. Apparently my brain is receptive to illogic and repels logic.
I'll keep chipping away at it. Reading Time magazine, maybe erecting a Richard Lewis shrine in my writing room. He turned anxiety into a pot of gold.
I can respect that while worrying about the odds of my own success.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Momma, I'm Coming Home

More words from the Fiery Trail. I told you that reading this book is like eating a fine meal. It continues to amaze me with the beauty of the words, the precise way that situations and emotions and philosophies and life itself are captured.
Describing the feelings of a mother and father on the day their daughter left them to wed her husband. "The days were to come and go for them, with an emptiness they were under compulsion to fit into the pattern of their lives........."
I fell out of the recliner and rolled around on the floor like an errant bowling bowl when I read those words.
When Keith graduated college he moved back home for a year and he brought with him his new girlfriend Emily. Suddenly the house was ablaze with youthful energy and a gender ally for Carol.
Keith, Emily and Craig under the same roof.
Strangely enough, about a year later all three of them moved out on the same weekend. Keith and Emily to their first apartment, Craig to Keene State.
That first night alone, Carol and I were devastated. It was if a skilled but evil surgeon had surgically removed the light from our souls. The house was still and we were down. Way down.
But we were under a compulsion to fit into the pattern of our lives this emptiness. We had no choice.
You want choice in your life. You want to make decisions. You want to feel that you are in control, that you are consciously moving forward, that your life is yours to do with as you wish.
Truth is, for most of us, about 1% of your life is within your control. The percentage increases as your income bracket does. In my case that means that 1/2 of 1% is within my control.
You can't control your kids and that's the way it should be. Little birdies have to fly. My parents came from the enforced school of family commitment. I moved 30 miles away from home the year I was married, and 100 miles away eight years after I was married. We were expected to visit for Sunday dinner every Sunday. This meant from NH we were driving 1 and 1/2 hours each way for Sunday dinner every week. With two young uns in tow. We would drive down for Christmas Eve, come home that night and drive back on Christmas day. If we didn't do these things there was shouting, anger and guilt creation.
This did not make me feel closer to my parents. It made me resentful. Obviously I didn't have the guts to stand up to them for a long while, and when I finally did, refusing to drive down one Christmas Eve, it was all out war.
As much as I would like to see my sons and their women every week I know I cannot demand it. I learned that lesson. So we enjoy them when we can. Luckily they both live within shouting distance so we are not completely abandoned.
But even after all these years there is an emptiness. Carol and I have our own rhythms now, we live our life as we started it, a party of two. It is richer now than then because we have the memories, the child rearing years that filled us with joy and pure unadulterated happiness. And the family has expanded to include Emily and Karen which has added to our pride.
But just because we were compelled to fit this emptiness into the pattern of our lives, it just becomes a part of your existence. It doesn't go away. You dribble along in life and don't think about it every day, then Thanksgiving comes around and your family explodes around you in laughter and conversation and then, ten seconds later, the house is quiet. And you think "Goddamn it, I miss my sons."
It's always all about words with me. When I come across words put together in a way to capture my exact feelings, I am overwhelmed.
I am going to write them out one more time. Every parent knows this feeling. It is natural and it is hard. I have to end with this quote because I cannot say it any better.
"The days were to come and go for them, with an emptiness they were under compulsion to fit into the pattern of their lives."