Saturday, March 30, 2013

Day 7

Day 7 of 7 consecutive at Lompoc.

I'm tired.

Looking forward to tonight.

And tomorrow.

Always tomorrow.

Friday, March 29, 2013

If Emotion Was Currency

If emotion was currency, I would be Bill Gates. Maybe we all would.

Emotion courses through my veins like a raging flood. I am emotion. I eat it, drink it, breathe it.

I cannot control it. I do not apologize for that. Some may say I am overly emotional. I say maybe I am overly alive.

Emotion is life. Life vibrates, especially at this time of year in this arctic climate that we endure.
Things come alive, they get pretty, they get warm, they get colorful. The sun challenges you to get up and out and rewards you with a comforting embrace. The first time you walk out that door to warmth, to t-shirt weather, your body just plain wakes up. Yeah, baby.

And if your emotions are at surface level, not buried, you plug into the spring life vibe, and joy and anticipation are off the charts. There is nothing but possibility ahead of you.

Most of us bury our emotions as self defense. Can't be vulnerable. Gotta appear tough, can't admit to sadness or disappointment or confusion. Or even love. Ever notice how you whisper "I love you" on the phone at work to the amazing person you share your life with? You don't say it conversationally; somebody might hear you. When Carol calls me at work, sometimes I think I should end the conversation by SHOUTING I love you. It would be the most honest, the most meaningful words I could say that day.

Emotion gets buried so deep, excavation becomes almost impossible. But nature gives you a nudge at this time of year. You notice this feeling, it's called being alive, that bubbles to the surface and catches you by surprise. Your first instinct is to push it back down. Somebody might catch you being you. Too risky.

Personally I know I will have moments this spring and summer, standing alone in Carol's magnificent garden, moments when honest tears stream down my face as I look towards the sun. Tears of happiness, disappointment, gratitude and love.

I know I will have moments of laughter and conversation with Carol in this peaceful spot she has created. Moments of ear drum shattering silent communication between us made possible by living thirty five years together.

I know I will laugh with my sons and their amazing women. Enjoy friends on the screened in porch and the garden.

The consistent thread here is emotion. I want to feel everything my warped and limited mind is equipped to handle.

Nature forces you to take notice of the fact that you are a human being at this time of year.

What you do with that information is up to you.

I would advise you not to waste it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Thinking About Change

Me and Steve were the two greatest part timers the liquor commission has ever seen. Store 72 could not have functioned without us.

We were cruelly exploited and taken for granted at times, taking on managerial responsibility for part time pay on a regular basis for a handshake and a pat on the back.

Steve desperately wanted to sell his house and move to Florida. I desperately wanted to make more money.

Strangely enough, both things happened in close proximity to one another.

Steve sold his house and will be in Florida this weekend. I got a new job and am making a lot more money.

We both got the change we wanted and we are both still squirming a bit, swallowing the bitter with the sweet.

Steve is leaving a house he lived in for 23 years. Leaving the friends, the favorite haunts, the routines, the familiarity. But he is going where it is warm and getting close to his daughters, who light up his life.

My paycheck is larger (when it is calculated correctly), we are breathing easier, we even went out to a magnificent dinner last weekend and did not have to settle for cheap wine. But I am struggling mightily with an incredibly ridiculous situation at work that is causing me great pain.

Yin and yang, a door closes, another opens, there is a positive to every negative and a negative to every positive.

There has be a pocket in life where there is only the positive. An air bubble of justice where you are truly rewarded as a human being.

Apparently they are small, hard to find, elusive. It has caused me much discomfort over the course of 59 years believing this, but I do. I just cannot accept that there is always a price to pay. Especially when you have decades in the bank.

There has to be a moment when your lungs fill with oxygen so sweet that it makes you giddy. A moment when your head spins and you laugh like a child.

Sweet, complete release.

Steve and I got what we wanted. I guess you could say we got lucky. We are happier, maybe even happier than we realize.

But it is my suspicion that we are both still waiting to laugh like a child.

An aside: people come into your life and they leave a mark. Monday night we visited Steve and Chris and they gave us a magnificent park bench for Carol's garden and a cool fire pit thingy. We had a drink with them and wished them luck and said goodbye.

But when we sit on that bench and gaze into that fire we will have a piece of Steve and Chris right there with us.

I think that is very cool.

Devil's Advocate

Ever see The Devil's Advocate?

Al Pacino. Keanu Reeves. Charlize Theron.

I needed more intensity last night. I got it.

I don't own a lot of movies. This is one of them. As is The Godfather. Good to have these movies at my fingertips when my soul needs a jolt.

Pacino plays the devil. Lucifer himself. He plays Lucifer as the head of a huge law firm, which is perfect typecasting when you think about it.

Mr. Pacino absolutely inhabits the role. He IS the devil. You believe it, you feel it, you are intimidated in your recliner even as you chow your bacon, sausage and extra cheese pizza and swill Pabst Blue Ribbon and whiskey.

Keanu is a chump. He is one of these actors that really pisses me off because they get rich just memorizing lines and spitting them back out. No acting at all. Watching Reeves in a film with Al Pacino is like watching a zygote having a conversation with Albert Einstein.

Tom Cruise is another one. It pisses me off because I can do what these guys do. I could be rich just like them. There is no subtle nuance to what they do, there is no worship of the craft, no inhabiting a role. They just memorize lines and spit them back out.

Cruise is a cut above Reeves. Reeves is the worst. I have no idea how he even has a career.

But I digress.

Having Keanu in the movie does not ruin it. Because Pacino is mesmerizing and Charlize is excellent.

I stayed awake through the entire 144 minutes and then fell asleep quite shortly after it ended.

The movie is intense, it is a great story and I cannot overstate how good Al Pacino is in this role.

Yesterday sucked more than any day has a right to suck.

Al Pacino was my savior in a twisted sort of way.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday Morning Reflection

I have spent the last almost eight years in the bar business and in retail.

I am a laid back guy. I like peace. I prefer animals to humans. I prefer reflection to noise. I don't like being forced to run to get a job done.

My guts are like a bowl of acid. Churning, bubbling, giving off vapors. Threatening to eat up anything that comes in contact.

I am racing wildly towards financial semi-independence. My free time  now is measured in minutes and moments.

But I am keeping intense focus, looking for The Fork In The Road that will lead to sweet, elusive peace of mind.

I pray that I am alert enough to recognize it when I come upon it.


I have to give credit where credit is due.

The liquor commission jumped all over their payroll mistake.  An  "I'm sorry" check is being mailed today.

They were pleasant to deal with and prompt.

Who knew?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

On The Other Hand

On the other hand I have Billy Bob Thornton.

I am reading two books right now. This is something I rarely do. I prefer to lose myself in one book until I stumble upon the last page, look up dazedly and then grab another book.


My brother gave me a book called The One Thing You Need To Know...... About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success.

He gave me the book to help me figure out how to manage this being a manager deal I got myself into. As I have said many times in the past, it has always felt to me like he is the older brother and I am the younger. He is wiser, more accomplished, steadier, incisive and goddamn witty. I love and respect him. If he recommended this book, then it is worth reading.

Started that book yesterday, but today I needed something off beat, so I picked up The Billy Bob Tapes - A Cave Full Of Ghosts. Today is my one day off before the start of a seven consecutive day stretch at Lompoc, so I needed something my rebellious nature could grab onto.

The book is Thornton's reflections on how he grew up, along with his thoughts about his life and the world, spiced with commentary from his friends and acquaintances.

And you never know where beauty comes from.

In describing his father, Billy Bob says "He was a guy who couldn't articulate things, and he was trapped inside a head that he felt he was more than." I am tempted to throw my own words at that, but the truth is that the description is so powerful, it stands on it's own.

Billy Bob has a band. They write and perform their own music. Here are some lyrics from a song of theirs called "Providence."

"It seems like happiness ignores all navigation
Sometimes freedom comes when you have lost your way
I changed the course of my imagination
And took a turn that leads to come what may
I don't know where I'm gonna go
Right now that's about the only thing I know"

'Nuff said.

A Sign Of The Times

So I start a new job and I go all in. Really throw myself into it. I'm talking diving into flood waters and flying with the current.

Had no choice, really. That's just the way the job works. I made a conscious decision to grab onto something I knew would beat me down and wear me around because I gambled that I could handle it and because I would be rewarded with a fat paycheck.

I am coming out of the fog and realizing that I will be able to handle it as experience procreates. I am convinced of that. I was stumbling quite a bit here and there but I have had a few days of enlightenment recently that prove to me, short of heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer's or cancer, that my life is about to get immeasurably better. Assuming I can survive the idiots I work for.

I worked four weeks to get to The First Fat Paycheck. Four 49 hour weeks. Working Sundays, missing every race so far, sharing only one weekend day with my lovely wife.

Waiting for the check.

Yesterday was the magic day and they f***ed it up. I'm talking royally f***ed it up. This check covered two weeks.  80 hours regular pay, 18 hours time and a half. The payroll idiots only got 2 and 1/2 hours right. TWO AND A HALF. I don't even know where they came up with that number. The rest of the check was calculated at my old part time rate, and the number of hours for OT was wrong and way less than it should have been.

They paid me hundreds of dollars less than I deserved. HUNDREDS.

I was furious. Talk about sucking the life out of a moment.

This is a sign of the times. One thing you never screw up is a paycheck. It is sacred. It is the only thing you can count on as an employee these days. Your employer will screw you in every way they can, openly and with glee. But they have a legal and moral obligation to get your pay right.

If your employer screws up your paycheck, it is black and white proof that they don't give a damn. Are you telling me nobody is checking to see that the hourly rate is correct, the hours are correct? That is the ultimate statement of callousness.

I just finished a book by Dan Rather. He devotes the end chunk of the book to what he calls the corporatization, politicization and trivialization of the news. Comparing the joke that the news is today to what it was when he started.

It occurred to me that those three words, corporatization, politicization and trivialization, perfectly  define life in America today. Perfectly define the nature of hopelessness most of us experience, the lack of substance and soul, the lack of control over our own destinies.

This stuff has gotten so big, so pervasive, that it is all there is. There is no American dream. There is a dream of the wealthy and powerful and that dream is to control everything, to own everything, to call the shots and to leave no room for individuality. Individuality in achievement or in personality.

This kind of mentality results in f***ed up paychecks.

We are beyond the point of no return. It is too late. The powerful are entrenched and they will never let go. And they will keep pushing to make our lives trivial.

I grabbed onto this job as a means to an end. Something that popped into my life giving me a temporary chance to turn my financial life around so I would not be so vulnerable to the vultures.

And the vultures f***ed up my first paycheck. Royally.

I fired off an E-mail to payroll yesterday. I will follow up with a phone call on Monday.

I expect a fight. How wrong is that, that I expect a fight regarding what I have worked so hard to earn?

For now I will give them the benefit of the doubt. I'll see how it goes.

It was a wake up call. A wake up call to continue on this "means to an end" approach while, more importantly, keeping my eyes and spirit open enough to recognize when enough is enough.

I refuse to kill my soul for people who would cheer it's demise.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Dig This

"By three methods we may learn wisdom: First by reflection, which is noblest; Second by imitation, which is easiest; and Third by experience, which is the bitterest."


Now I Get It

I have come to the conclusion that I live entirely in my head. I am comfortable there and want nothing to do with the outside world.

What most consider real, I consider farce.

My definitions of illusion and reality are exactly opposite to yours.

Monday, March 18, 2013

You Cannot

You cannot let other people define who you are.

That is unacceptable.

And painful.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Man vs Nature

The wife and I just took a ride to do some interim food shopping. You know, just enough to get us to the next paycheck.

Bopping down a quiet country road, there is a commotion, people pulled over and waving us to slow down.

Someone had hit a deer. It was sitting in the middle of the lane. We pulled to the left and passed within a few feet of it. I looked down on this beautiful animal with big, warm brown eyes and was jolted. It was sitting so quietly amidst the commotion, amidst the pain. It's hind legs were obviously hurt. Actually I hope it was in shock and feeling no pain. To think otherwise breaks my heart.

So peaceful, so regal sitting there, when inside this animal must have been experiencing overwhelming terror.

Whenever I see the suffering man inflicts on animals, I hate humanity. We invaded their world and made it dangerous and unpredictable for them.

On the flip side, I am not a country boy, not a survivalist. I am pampered and soft. I need the roads, the cars, the convenience. I could not live as they did hundreds of years ago.

I am caught between love of all things natural and reliance on all things unnatural.

We shopped and headed back, hoping fervently that the deer had been tended to. There was a vetinarian office nearby on the same road. We fantasized that it's injuries were minimal and that it could be nursed back to health. It seemed so alert sitting there.

We were wrong. It was lying by the side of the road in a snow bank, dead. I assume someone had shot it or it died because of it's injuries. I do not want to believe that someone just tossed the thing aside and allowed it to die. My heart will not go there despite mind numbingly repetitive proof of human cruelty.

A raw encounter with death on a simple stop gap food shopping trip.

Minutes before we headed down that road, the deer was happily, spiritually, naturally alive. Suddenly it was crippled in the middle of a road, bewildered, afraid and vulnerable. Half an hour later it was dead.

It broke my heart to see what I saw and to know what I know.

I try to be realistic and not idealistic but I cannot keep from coming back to the solution that mankind sucks. That we have upset the natural order of things and will one day pay for that.

Whenever that bill comes do, we deserve whatever consequence results.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Vito Corleone Slapped Me

Got home Tuesday night with a burning desire to be distracted. Entertained. Pulled away from the reality I am living right now, I needed intensity to fully engage my mind and my senses.

I grabbed The Godfather DVD and pumped that bad boy right into my low tech DVD player.

Jesus Christ it was perfect. That movie is intense from start to finish, especially if you are into the warped code of honor and respect thing as I am. Why I do not own II or III is beyond me. Actually I can live without III but I do require II. Add it to the list.

Let me tell you how intense it is. I have had days of bewilderment with the new job. Many of them. Not necessarily because of the requirements of the job, more related to my own shortcomings in the area of self confidence. I make the situation harder than it has to be because I convince myself I can't handle it.

I have increased the frequency of  meetings with my lawyer, Attorney Crown Royal Esq. Not to the ridiculous level I used to abuse, but more so than I have for 6 or 8 months. As a result I fall asleep in the recliner. Early. The job wears me out, the whiskey delivers the knockout punch.

With The Godfather, I chowed pizza, had two beers and kept a tumbler of whiskey flowing, moderately, throughout the movie.

I did not fall asleep. For three hours I sat riveted. Then, being the intensity junkie that I am, I once again dialed up Mumford & Sons The Road To Red Rocks.

What a night. What a night. Exactly what I needed.

I am digging the movie and here comes the scene with Johnnie Fontaine asking The Don for help on the Don's daughter's wedding day. Johnny is whining about how a part in a movie will put his career back on top but the director of the movie refuses to give him the part. Johnny whines that he doesn't know what to do.

Don Vito Corleone stands up and says angrily "You can act like a man, that's what you can do." Then he slaps him and mimics his whining in a little kid's voice as Tom Hagen smirks in the background.

This was perfect. I realized that was exactly what I need. I need Vito Corleone to slap me in the face and goad me into being a man. Of course Vito goes ahead and has Khartoum's head cut off, which is a big help to Johnnie. He gets the part.

I could use the slap, but it would be helpful to have somebody cut off Khartoum's head in my life too. Just to make a point.

Since that is not going to happen, apparently I am on my own.

I was not able to put Godfather wisdom into play on Wednesday. I fell back into self doubt. However, yesterday I had had enough of the mocking of the mirror. I sucked it up and took more control.

It went well.

No guarantees. This is just one man's struggle with survival, internally and externally. But I am learning lessons.

Two favorite Godfather lines:

1) Leave the gun. Bring the cannolis.
2) In Sicily, women are more dangerous than shotguns.

Also, I love the scene where Michael realizes he has been betrayed by Tessio. Michael's men are walking Tessio to the car. He initially thinks he is going to a meeting but suddenly realizes he is going to be executed. He turns to Tom Hagen and quietly asks if there is anything he can do. Tom tells him it is too late.

Tessio turns and walks to the car without flinching, without begging for his life.

Talk about knowing your reality and accepting your fate.

Anyway, that was my Tuesday night and the repercussions that followed thereof. I dug it and I am digging the way my life is changing and forcing me to deal with it.

And out of the ashes rises the phoenix.

Monday, March 11, 2013

I Do Amuse Myself

I am currently reading a book written by Dan Rather.

The next book I have on tap was written by Billy Bob Thornton.

My brain never knows what to expect.

I like it that way.

Sunday Morning Commute

Early March, early Sunday morning, and I’m driving to work.

The sun is brilliant, dancing off the snow in natural, fleeting beauty as

Sunday papers are being read, and coffee sipped.

Minds are at ease.

There is not much traffic, and my thoughts bounce back and forth

between the nature of responsibility, and a sense of sadness.

I am old enough to believe that working on Sundays is not natural.

As a bartender and in retail, I vowed never to work Sundays and held on as long as I could.

That vow has recently been broken because the pay is good and we need the money.

I have made a deal with the devil.

A deal that has put me on this road when I’d rather be home with my wife

reading, sipping coffee, and easing my mind.

You draw a line in life until you are forced to cross it, then you draw another.

Pretty soon there is no room left for even one thin line.

I try to focus on the surrounding beauty and the peacefulness of the ride, but purity is tainted by reality.

I have never become comfortable with compromise.

No Better Than This

John Mellencamp put out an album in 2010 called No Better Than This. I watched a documentary on the making of the album last week.

One more album I have to buy.

Brief aside: I have always wanted to own every single Bob Dylan album, every single Van Morrison album and every single Beatles album. I will begin to acquire the ones I am missing when the real paychecks start rolling in. I will say no more about that until I accomplish each one. Stay tuned.

I am always searching for depth. Ironically, I believe in my soul that I possess great depth (how pretentious) but that I cannot access it regularly or find a way to live off it or have it sustain me. So I look for it in others.

Mellencamp has stripped it all down. I love his attitude. He doesn't care about the hit machine anymore, he cares only about doing what makes sense to him regardless of how it sells. That is the perfect place for an artist to be.

This album is raw and honest and deep. He was on tour and wanted to record the album in meaningful places on his off days. He chose the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia; Sun Records recording studio in Memphis, Tennessee; and the room in the Sheraton Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, Texas where Robert Johnson made his first legendary blues recording. Mellencamp recorded this music with an old fashioned microphone and on reel to reel tape. No high tech, no special effects.

The First African Baptist Church is the home of the nation's oldest black congregation and was a safe haven for runaway slaves. There are still holes in the floor which were used to leak water to the slaves hiding underneath. The vibe in that church must be deep enough to knock you down.

Sun Records is legendary as the studio where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded. Musical history doesn't get more solid than that.

Robert Johnson was a legendary blues man, born in 1911, died in 1938, poisoned by a jealous man. Robert loved the ladies. He had only two recording sessions in his life, totalling 29 songs. The first session was at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel where he recorded 16 of the 29. He was the original deal with the devil at the crossroads guy, legendary for his aura as well as his music.

Recording this music in these three locations must have channelled a mind blowing vibe that made the experience close to religious. Definitely spiritual. Take Mellencamp's grounded attitude and respect for tradition and history, mix in his straight forward persona and spice it with this overwhelming vibe and you get magic.

Which is what this album is.

The lyrics to these songs are soul deep. I'll give you a quick taste from Save Some Time To Dream.

"Save some time to dream, save some time for yourself, don't let your time slip away, or be stolen by somebody else."

As I said, Mellencamp recorded these songs on his off days while on tour.

The people he was touring with were Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson.

I'm pretty sure that added some depth to this album as well.

The Changing Of The Guard

Spent Friday night with Craig and Karen watching Keith and 30 of his closest friends play basketball against the Harlem Rockets.

The Rockets play Harlem Globetrotter style basketball against hapless opponents (sorry Keith) to raise money for worthy causes. This is the second time Keith has volunteered to participate and I dig it.

As is my way, I got something else from the night besides basketball.

I was watching Keith during warm ups, during the game and when he was on the bench. I am his Dad. That is what I do, out of pride and out of love.

He is a man. He carries himself like a man. He has a presence about him. I liked the way he looked on the court and the easy way he had with the people he talked and joked with.

Of course he has been a man for a long time. More mature and responsible than me in many ways. But because of where I am right now I was blown away by the aura of my first born son. He was born EARLY on a glorious May day  and I remember bounding down the steps of the hospital into gorgeous sunshine with my chest pumped out to comical proportions. Nearly thirty three years later I sat and admired this man my son has become.

After the game we walked down to the court to bask in Keith's celebrity. Keith and Craig talked a lot and I was further blown away. Watching these two men - my sons - be who they are. It was a manly conversation - not in words, but in presence. I kept looking from one to the other and the concept of the changing of the guard popped into my head.

I am on the last legs of my life. Whether that is thirty more years or two, I have lived a hell of a lot more than I have left to live.

Keith and Craig are in their prime and it just emanates off of them.

The changing of the guard is inevitable and I don't mourn it other than my obsession to get in my life's knockout punch before I am done. But the game plan is in place and all I can do is ride it out. At some point my physical presence will be diminished and theirs will shine brightly. I don't look forward to that reality but it's coming and there ain't nothing I can do about it.

I did however get a sense of peace, looking at these two men, my sons, Keith and Craig, who I love and worship beyond expression. A sense that they will handle whatever comes their way, each in their uniquely cool styles, and that the love that flows between us will continue to invigorate my life and feed my soul.

I can't ask for more than that.

Too Fast To Write

I am moving at warp speed. One minute I was languishing as an exploited and underpaid part timer. The next minute I am working like a pig donkey - maximum hours - maximum brain stress and body fatigue. I keep reaching out to grab a hold of this blog as I blow by, but my arm has almost been ripped from my body twice; now I am more cautious.

Ain't no middle ground in life. Pretty interesting stuff.

I used to crawl into work on my hands and knees and beg the Boss Man for more hours. Give me all you got, I don't dig this poverty scene. "I am administratively limited to the number of hours I can dole out to you quasi-invisible part timers. Now continue to assume managerial responsibility for part time pay."

I would hide behind the vodka wall with a Playboy, a joint and some stolen nips to while the time away. My disdain was justified.

Now I work and work until I look up and there is no shift scheduled. I stumble home, re-introduce myself to my lovely wife, the precious cats and the recliner. The day off is spiritual - my body recovers, elasticity returns to my mind, and a deep seated sense of satisfaction radiates throughout my body and my brain that something called a paycheck will reward my efforts.

It's a deal with The Devil but one I am willing to make for the first time in my life.

For now.

Contrary to the tone you may intuit from my words, I am not complaining. The only thing I regret is the reduced opportunity to write. But that will come. I gotta get a rhythm. It's all about rhythm.

Walked in last night with a bottle of Crown under my arm. Physically and mentally beat. Looking forward to last night and today.

Carol leaped off the couch, slapped me across the face and screamed at the top of her lungs - "Don't spend any more money."

OK - maybe it didn't happen exactly like that - but that was the message. We are crawling through the last two weeks of poverty - the tail end of the part time regime. The mortgage is due this week. Goddamn Mortgage Vampire. One of these days I will wrestle you to the ground and kick the crap out of you for the stress you create.

The mismatch between doing what I am doing while still being tortured by the exploitation of the past doesn't sit well with me. There is no immediate connection between effort and reward. It is on time delay.

Hopefully that is the last time I ever hear those words. Ever.

The next check will be real. It will be the shovel handed to me to start digging ourselves out of The Hole.

I believe I am ready.

An End To Losing

"Ah you loved me as a loser, but now you're worried that I just might win.
You know the way to stop me, but you don't have the discipline.
How many nights I prayed for this, to let my work begin."

From "First We Take Manhattan" by Leonard Cohen

Whistling Along With Leonard

Driving to work yesterday morning in The Peace Mobile - Leonard Cohen caressing my ears - and I suddenly started whistling along to one of his tunes.

It was immediately incongruous - bizarre and absurd. It didn't mesh, and I stopped immediately and vowed never to make that mistake again.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Truth (Plain, Not So Simple)

The truth is a highway leading to freedom.

I had to break away for a couple of minutes. For inspiration. I did some responsible things this morning and when that happens the Muse runs and hides. I try to write and garbage comes forth.

YouTube and Bose speakers for salvation. A little Mumford & Sons, and Mother by John Lennon.

I feel again. And I feel human. I'm back.

The truth is a highway leading to freedom. Hit me hard the other day. Kris Kristofferson.

Got me to thinking about truth. Truth is not easy. Most of us are not honest with ourselves. I know I am not honest with myself, so how can I be honest with anybody else? How can I be honest about my life?

We are all defensive because we are all disappointed. The truth  can be painful so we puff out our chests and create a verbal and mental reality.

I am starved for truth. Truth about my life. Truth about me.

I am in a new place and my mind is clear and alert and looking for answers, looking for direction. Change has happened before in my life and I watched it unfold like a spectator. This time around I am jumping on the back of change and taking it for a ride.

Truth is at the absolute core of where I need to get. I have ignored truth, bent it, lied to it and lied about it. I have looked away from it in the mirror.

I am giving maximum relevance to this particular life change. If nothing else, since 2006, everything I have endured, everything I have experienced, has laid me out in a crucible forcing introspection and examination. And CHANGE.

Even when my mind was numb, information was getting through. "If only" type of stuff, since I was not sure I would escape the downward spiral I threw myself into, dragging my long suffering wife with me. Consciously unaware at times, blazingly aware at other times, I was learning lessons I had been unable to learn previously.

 I know this because with the new situation has a come a certain clarity I have not felt before. A planning, a wondering, a commitment to using this opportunity instead of losing this opportunity.

I need to get at the truth about me because that truth will result in a life. My life. So elusive up to now and so painful in the search.

I am not one who can accept that whatever life I am leading is my life at that time. I have always looked at my life as something I needed to get to.

Suddenly the door - many doors, most in my mind, have been opened. There is something out there and it feels like the right thing. It feels like the square peg may finally find a square hole.

The truth is a highway leading to freedom. If you can live a life of pure truth - within yourself and projected onto others - your life has to be easier. It has to be more free.

I am seeking absolute truth while refusing to give up on the magic. The muse. The essence that bubbles - now violently in anticipation and proximity to honest destiny - in my soul.

This is not too much to ask.

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

Started the new job on 2/22. Won't get the first real paycheck until 3/22. Have to endure one more insulting paycheck until then.

I remember when people got paid every week. Real checks. Had to go to the bank to cash them.

I worked for a company as a college student - work/study - this company provided a check cashing service in their credit union, on premise, on Fridays.

I was an accounting student, so I was tapped to be a cashier.

I liked the job. People came bouncing in on Friday with a piece of paper in their hand and I converted it into cash money. They converted that into survival and probably a fair share of booze. Any amount of booze that gets you through is a fair share of booze.

Everybody was in a good mood. Lots of jokes, lots of laughter, some griping if we cashiers were a little slow. Check cashing happened at noon. That meant they had only to endure another four hours of work before two days of freedom. Maybe even sneak out for a quick lunch - liquid or otherwise.

Banks were not open on weekends then. This check cashing service made it easy for people to quickly convert their labors into fruit. People appreciated it.

This was in 1972. In 1972 I would not have had to wait a month before converting the stress of a new job into the reward of a reasonably fair paycheck.

I can wait. I know it's coming. And when the cycle starts, I can let out my breath a little, leaving a larger lung capacity for laughter.

I am looking forward to that.

Monday, March 4, 2013


"The truth is a highway leading to freedom."

From "Holy Creation" by Kris Kristofferson.

Digging Kris on The Peace Mobile commute, to and from, yesterday. This line slapped me in the face, I drove off the road into the woods and landed perched atop a giant sequoia.

I am going to wring every last drop of beauty out of that line, but not right now. I'm a hard working booze purveyor. No time right now.

I threw it out there to give your day a little more meaning until I can get back in here and really go to town on it.

Be back soon.


Friday, March 1, 2013

The Beatles Come Back Around

On February 9, 1964, The Beatles made their first American television appearance on The Ed Sullivan show. I was ten years old.

I had been aware of them earlier thanks to radio and was in love, but the experience of seeing them that night - live - changed my life. Or should have.

I knew in my bones that everything they stood for was right for me. Knew it in a way that is indisputable. That rare feeling you get only a few times in your life that you are hooked into the right vibe.

I have regretted endlessly the fact that I followed in life exactly the path that The Beatles - and myself - knew was wrong for me. As I took each responsible step my soul kept nudging me and asking "What the hell are you doing? A suit and tie? Really? An accountant? A mortgage? Deadlines and commitments?"

But I kept going.

One week before I started this new job, Carol and I took a ride to scope out the store and the surrounding area. The store is in a plaza. It is a beautiful liquor store (?) and I love the town it is in. There is an Ocean State Job lot in the plaza and we checked out the joint in a pleasant haze, anticipating a new life for ourselves. There was a concrete feeling of happiness between us. Solid. Unmistakable.

Came across a coffee mug with a picture of The Beatles on it from the Let It Be album. There are two iconic pictures of The Beatles that I worship. The Let It Be pictures, and the gorgeous, glossy pictures that came with The White Album.

Carol pushed me to buy the mug. The damn thing only cost about $2 but I hesitated because I am determined not to spend our money before we have it and I am determined to spend it wisely when we do. I have been so hurt and burned by the last seven years of struggle that I am a cautious animal lurking carefully on the fringes committed to using this opportunity wisely.

Carol knows what is good for me often when I don't. We bought the mug.

I cleaned off the table next to my recliner recently and found - buried - a Beatles book mark that I dig. Started reading the first Jack Reacher novel and one of the main characters is a huge Beatles fan. Has every Beatles recording - all the albums, all the bootlegs, all the compilations.

I have spent the first mornings of my new job drinking coffee in a Beatles mug, using a Beatles book mark in a book featuring a character who is a Beatles freak.

The Beatles have come back around. Forty nine years later. I even started the new job on February 22 which is close enough to February 9 to make the connection.

I am distinctly aware that I have been given an opportunity. An opportunity that if used wisely can make the rest of my life closer to what I want it to be.  Make it easier for me to smile and to enjoy the magnificent family who believe in me exponentially more than I believe in myself.

I have lost myself up to this point. Allowed unhappiness with my life to come dangerously close to snuffing the flame that burns in my soul. That original, one of a kind expression of who I truly am.

I finished the Jack Reacher book this morning and went back to read the author's introduction. In discussing the need for fiction he says "Real life is rarely satisfactory."

That is why I need The Beatles. The Beatles thing is a beacon in my mind telling me that it does not have to be that way. That I can take what they meant to me forty nine years ago and bend it to fit my current situation.

Not as an escape. I need magic and meaning in my life to take the mundane and fire it up into something I can live with. That is the compromise I have to make. The compromise I am willing to make because I will never have the freedom to tinker with my life that John,Paul,George and Ringo had.

But I can take all the lessons learned from fifty nine years on this planet and spice that knowledge with the magic and wonder The Beatles inspired in me so long ago. A feeling, a soul-deep knowing that never died but lurked stubbornly in the wings and sometimes deep below the surface.

You may consider me overly dramatic, but I truly feel I am standing at a crossroads in my life more meaningful than any other.  Maybe even the final one.

The Beatles came back around for a reason. That reason, much more so than the job, is the thing that will give me my life as it should be. Give me the life that I hunger and burn for.