Thursday, May 30, 2013

Three Words

Three words that thrill me.




Dig This

"There is no me. I do not exist. There used to be a me, but I had it surgically removed."

"If you ask me to play myself, I will not know what to do. I do not know who or what I am."

"A person can destroy me with two words. It can just be the way they say them, the inflection."

Peter Sellers

Carpe Diem

Work brings out the worst in people.

You take a bunch of humans, throw them together in a work environment, and they turn into vampires and serial killers and ladder climbers.

The ladder climbers use your head as a rung and talk out of both sides of their mouths as they do it..

It is a strange phenomenon because we are all scrambling for paychecks and longing for stability, just trying to find a way to negotiate life as painlessly as possible. We are all, for better or for worse, in the same boat.

Yet the work environment magnifies pettiness.

You can't expect to like everybody you work with. The situation is unnatural. You grab yourself a job and do the best you can with your workmates. It is unnatural because the majority of us are not doing anything that we enjoy. Negativity exists but it doesn't have to be amplified.

If you are passionate about what you do, most likely you end up in an environment with people who think and feel as you do. That is rare, but if you are that lucky, you can expect to like the people you work with if you have a common goal, a common interest, a driving commitment.

The typical environment quickly descends into pettiness. It would be ideal to recognize that everybody shares a common frustration, a communal unhappiness, and a discomfort for the situation. It would be ideal to make a conscious decision to work as a group as best you can during the day, and then go out and get obliterated in booze and drugs at night.

That is a workable solution.

Instead............there is back stabbing, talking behind backs, petty territorial struggles, meaningless arguments, gutless challenges. People actually fighting for a piece of turf they don't even care about.

Jealousy about who earns what, who gets more hours, who the boss likes, who the boss hates.

These are responses and actions based in nothingness. Fighting like hell for something you don't want, don't even like.

How bizarre, how bizarre.

Maybe it is based on childhood frustrations; the need to be recognized, the need to be wanted, loved, appreciated no matter what.. Like the kid who proudly proclaims "She beat you with a belt but she beat me with a sledgehammer. She loves me more."

Efficiency, getting the work done, is not the issue. Every corporation automatically sabotages efficiency with rules and regs that attempt to manage the tiniest situations. The more they do that, the more inefficient the organization becomes.

Getting along is not about efficiency. Getting along is about sanity, happiness, peace of mind. Recognizing common humanity and the common frustration of working for a paycheck and nothing more; approaching each other gently and with a wink The Corporation is incapable of seeing, that is what getting along is all about.

Carpe diem is more about the soul than about capitalism.

Dig This

"I could never trust a man who uses the word "gosh."

"Gosh darn" is even more repulsive."


Think About It

"This too shall pass" is a powerful phrase.

If you believe it in your heart, you can make it through many a rough patch.

Jonathan Winters

There are people who exist in their own space, at their own level, people far above the rest of us with no one else to relate to.

Jonathan Winters was one of them.

Wrirers' writers. Actors' actors. Musicians' musicians.

Comedians' comedians.

These are people revered by their professional peers and never quite appreciated by the rest of us.
It is a meaningful comment for a professional guitar player to say to another "You are exquisite on that instrument."

It is a meaningless comment for a common man like myself to say "Wow, you really rock, man."

Winters made a name for himself on the Jack Paar show. He was an absolute original - a comedian who did not tell jokes. Unheard of at that time.

He did characters, switching from one to another with ease and improvising hilariously. He was so good at it, the talk show hosts would challenge him on the spot. Hand him a prop and set him loose.

He always delivered. If you go back and look at footage from Paar, footage from Johnny Carson, you will see them laughing uproariously. That laughter is the textbook definition of a comedian's comedian.

He is now widely considered to be one of the greatest improv comedians ever.

His career was erratic. That is the price paid by someone so talented. Their peers worship them but the public doesn't get it. It is a sad commentary to know the supremely talented fly under the radar, never getting the rewards they so richly deserve.

Groucho said of Jonathan Winters "There's a giant talent." Comedian's comedian.

He battled alcoholism and psychological problems. Had a nervous breakdown and spent time in a mental institution. Too much creativity for this world, too much sensitivity for this world.

Robin Williams said "My father's laughter introduced me to the comedy of Jonathan Winters." There is a lot wrapped up in that line, a lot said. Williams also said that Winters performed legendary improv on the set of Mork & Mindy, that the sound stage was packed on the nights they were filming Jonathan Winters. Williams said he sometimes joined in but felt like a "kazoo player sitting in with Coltrane."

This scenario came up time after time as I read about Jonathan Winters. The after show stuff, the between takes stuff on movie sets, the in the bar stuff. People congregated around him to soak up his creativity, to bask in the sweet release of the laughter he provided. To touch up against genius, against pure originality; an opportunity too rare to be wasted.

Winters had handicapped plates and was challenged by a woman who said "You don't look handicapped to me." His reply "Madam - can you see inside my head?"

Dick Cavett, reminiscing about Winters said "Greatly talented performers don't know, often spectacularly, what's best for them. " This leaves them subject to the decisions of bad advisers and management who end up hurting their careers rather than promoting them.

Cavett also speculated "The worlds of pleasure he gave to us, far, far outweighed any he was able to have himself."

Geniuses exist in a place between deity and humanity. Maybe that is why they are vulnerable, maybe that is why they can give pleasure but not experience it.

They have no way to relate. They don't respect, maybe don't understand, the rules laid down for the rest of us. Their minds cannot comprehend our general inability to recognize their uniqueness.

These people are the very ones we should emulate, at least in spirit. Fiercely individual, creative, possessing an inner beauty. Jonathan Winters has been described as sweet as much as he has been called a genius.

Jonathan Winters once hosted the Tonight show for a full week with a live owl perched beside him as his co-host.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

congrats, Chinaski

"as I near 70,
I get letters, cards, little gifts
from strange people.
congratulations, they tell me,

I know what they mean:
the way I have lived
I should have been dead in half
that time

I have piled myself with a mass of
grand abuse, been
careless toward myself
almost to the point of
I am still here
leaning towards this machine
in this smoke-filled room,
this large blue trashcan to my
full of empty

the doctors have no answers
and the gods are

congratulations, death,
on your patience.
I have helped you all that
I can

now one more poem
and a walk out on the balcony,
such a fine night there

I am dressed in shorts and stockings,
gently scratch my old
look out there
look off there
where dark meets dark

it's been one hell of a crazy

Charles Bukowski

Crucible Hope

1) A ceramic or metal container in which metal or other substances may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures.

That is one definition of the word "crucible."

2) A place or occasion of severe test or trial.

That's another.

Sometimes human beings are thrown into crucible-like situations. A crucible-like situation is defined as one that shreds the skin off your bones, separates muscle from tendon, rips your heart out, destroys your soul, and robs you of eyesight leaving you with only hindsight.

You just never know what you are walking into and once there, very often you are trapped. Or as U2 put it "You're stuck in a moment, and you can't get out of it."

It's bewildering because you are only trying to live a life. The #1 goal is to minimize turbulence. That's about as good as it gets for most of us.

With a little luck you can eke out an existence without having your skull cracked wide open. That's a pretty good life.

But if you stray off the path just a little, if you can't read the vibe, if you unwittingly make a wrong move, life is right there with a boot to the neck.

No leeway. And no quick exit.

Its an odd thing because nobody ever really explains this to you. Nobody tells you that life is slow to reward but quick to punish. And the punishments last longer and are infinitely more intense than the rewards.

"Nobody ever told me there'd be days like these; strange days indeed." John Lennon

It's an odd thing because very often you make a decision that you think is going to improve your life and it ends up crushing you.

It is assumed that character formed in a crucible is stronger. More pure. This is the only hope if you feel the heat blasting up.

If you can hang on, if you can survive, you will be changed.

The situation might destroy you, the situation might make you.

Crucible hope. The most desperate kind.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dig This

"People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use."


Beautiful Day

Driving up to Saco, Maine yesterday on a gorgeous day.

Looking around, digging the feeling of freedom that permeates the atmosphere on a long weekend.

You give people one extra day off and it feels like heaven. Actually, in today's world, few people actually get a three day weekend because few people work traditional jobs, but still, a long weekend has magic in it. A different feel.

People sitting on concrete steps in front of their house, facing the sun and smoking a butt. Lawn chairs, some bravely exposed, others inside netted tents.

Even cars sitting in driveways look more peaceful.

People seem to move slower. That holiday feel strips away survival anxiety.

Groups of people doing things, and not doing things.

Empty lawn chairs at sunset suggest a day enjoyed.

Lots of beer bellied, t-shirted guys, beer in hand, walking around the yard like wealthy landowners.

Kids, laughing.


The tress so very damn green, as brilliant sunshine slants through and illuminates.

A gentle wind.

There is almost a defiant casualness to the way we humans strut our stuff on days like this. The human spirit comes alive when it is not held down under somebody else's boot, and even though it is short lived, there is a power that emanates from experiencing honest essence revealed.

There is an element of fighting through, of not giving up, mixed in there as well. Time away from work, however fleeting, and the human spirit surges to the surface demanding to be noticed, enjoyed and celebrated.

Beautiful day yesterday.

M & S

The magic about Mumford & Sons is that the majesty of their music perfectly matches the beauty of their words.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Dig This

"to your feet ma'am, which are almost as big as your mouth."

Clint Eastwood in High Plains Drifter, walking down the street, lifting a shot glass in toast as he is verbally harassed by a woman

Dig This

"My mother never saw the irony in calling me a son of a bitch."

Jack Nicholson

Praying Mantis

Stay away from the Praying Mantis, man. It is a monster.

I learned that from Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy.

This monster has praying in its name, but it ain't even close to being holy. In fact it is evil, wicked, mean and nasty (don't step on the grass,Sam - line courtesy of Steppenwolf).

Praying because its front legs are bent and held together in a position that suggests prayer. Kind of like the Devil wearing a halo.

They have triangular heads on a long neck and they can rotate their heads 180 degrees, so they got that Linda Blair thing going on. And they are really ugly. I never really paid attention before but they are scary, ugly.

They have two large compound eyes, and three simple eyes located between them.

I have two eyes and I regularly see The Devil and 9 legged dwarfs. With three more eyes I would be screaming in horror every time I woke up.

Oh, wait - I already do that.

They are typically green or brown and well camouflaged on the plants among which they live, so they lie in ambush or patiently stalk their quarry. Got another element of creepiness. They are not racing around hunting in a manly way, they are lurking to deliver death.

Their front legs move so quick it is difficult to see with the naked eye, and the legs are further equipped with spikes for snaring prey and pinning it in place.

They eat moths, crickets, grasshoppers, flies and other insects but they also eat others of their own kind.

Famously, the adult female sometimes eats her mate just after mating. This I knew, but I did not know they sometimes eat their mate during mating.

After mating doesn't seem so bad. Not a bad way to go, to head heavenward after a torrid love making session.

But during mating seems the ultimate cruelty. Either way this behavior is an excellent clue into the nature of the female gender in general.

Ironically enough, this screw and kill behavior seems not to deter males from reproduction.

This is an excellent clue into the nature of the male gender in general.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Dig This

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it."

Oscar Wilde


Braggadocio is troubling but, still, I am compelled to confess that I now own both studio CD's from Mumford & Sons.

A coup indeed.

My ears, my spirit, my heart, are enthralled.

I am on a musical quest in 2013, to complement the always ongoing spiritual, psychological, and professional quests.

Musically, at least, I am doing well.


A Knock Out Punch On Memorial Day Weekend

May has sucked. Cold, baby. Cold.

On May 1st, I waxed eloquent about the month of May. She has since spit in my face but I will control my verbal revenge lest I receive another lecture from Keith.

This weekend is a killer though. Memorial Day weekend is meant to be an orgy of sunshine, barbecues, alcohol over indulgence, public nudity and introspection. The summer kickoff.

It is not meant to be rain soaked. And cold.

I got out of work last night at 9:30, having left my sweatshirt in the truck, and shivered my way to the truck. Had to put the sweatshirt on as a cold, misty rain fell on my newly shortened but still magnificent hair.

I was stunned.

I will break form right now, though, and refrain from whining about this nasty long weekend weather.

I actually have two days off this weekend. Not in a row of course, but still, two days away from the asylum are two days away from the asylum.

Gonna dig it. Hunker down a bit, coil my body into a tight spiral between books, coffee, movies, my lovely wife and the cats, and prepare to spring into summer whenever it arrives.

What else can you do?

Yeah, and also think about all the people who have died to give me the opportunity to whine about my life.

Memorial Day always blows my mind in intensity. Knowing that there are millions who have died to allow us the privilege of living, is beyond comprehension.

When I was a kid I was in the high school band; a trumpet player. I took part in a few Memorial Day commemorations held in cemeteries. I went off alone into the cemetery and played taps.

First of all I was nervous as hell I would screw it up. But beyond that, it was an eerie and intense experience.

I'm glad I got a chance to contribute something.

In between shots of tequila and gnawing on Cajun style barbecued ribs, try to reflect a little on what this weekend is really all about.

It won't sober you up, but maybe it will add a little depth to your life.

Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh sold one painting in his lifetime.


Is that not insane?

The Red Vineyard. He sold it in Brussels for 400 Francs a few months before his death.

Between November of 1881 and July of 1890, Van Gogh created 900 paintings. 900 paintings and he was only able to sell one. And people wonder what drove him mad.

Today his artwork sells more than any other artist among all art prints. The world is a cruel and unjust place.

He didn't even know he wanted to be an artist, didn't even know he had the talent. When he finished his schooling he went to work for his uncle as an art dealer. Eventually he decided he did not like the business of art so he took a wack at theology, inspired by his father who was a pastor. He failed exams to get him into school to study theology.

Meanwhile his brother Theo had been pressuring him to become an artist. Who knows why, who knows what his motives were, who knows what he saw.

Pretty strange route to becoming one of the world's most influential artists.

As he tried to develop a style, his first major work was called The Potato Eaters. Reminds me of the Three Stooges - Maid On A Night Out Winding A Grandfather Clock With Her Left Hand.

Anyway this painting was a conscious effort to make a name for himself in the artistic community. It is completely different than the work he became famous for. The painting is of five figures - four women and a man -  sitting around a square table eating potatoes. It is dark, no bright colors, no impressionistic style. Still, it is a cool painting; definitely captures a mood.

The painting did not get him the attention he wanted, so he began to study art in an academy in Antwerp. Soon after he moved to Paris to live with his brother Theo. It was there he became immersed in the world of impressionist and post impressionist painters. It was there he dropped the dark tones and began experimenting with brighter more vibrant colors.

Van Gogh had a dream of establishing an artists' colony, so he moved to Arles and convinced Paul Gaugin to join him there. They lived and painted together. Sometimes standing side by side painting the same scene and comparing interpretations.

Can you even imagine that scenario? Van Gogh and Gaugin painting side by side? Unbelievable.

The website describes the man as follows: "....this boy would be tormented by severe mental instability for the majority of his life, die from his own hands, and ultimately change the outlook on art for the rest of history. His life was to become one of uncertainty and madness, involving largely his own need to find a niche and the undeniable love for art."

Living with Gaugin seemed to tip the scales psychologically. At first they were dedicated to the same pursuit but after a short time Gaugin began to move away from impressionism and Van Gogh saw his dreams of an artists' colony go down the drain. When Gaugin told him he was planning on leaving, Van Gogh chased him with a razor as Gaugin left the house for a walk. Gaugin spent the night in a hotel.

Later that night, Van Gogh sliced off part of his ear and wrapped it in newspaper. He wrapped the wound, pulled a hat down over it, and walked to a nearby brothel. Legend has it he asked for a girl named Rachel, handed her the ear wrapped in newspaper and said "Guard this object carefully."

This was 1888. In 1890, Van Gogh attempted suicide by shooting himself in the chest. He survived initially but died two days later from the wound. He was 37.

Van Gogh is regarded as the ultimate tortured artist. He is also obviously regarded as one of the world's greatest and most influential artists.

The argument is eternal. Do you need to suffer to create beauty?

My opinion, off stated and however humble, is that creative people are naturally sensitive and this world ain't no place for the sensitive.

But what the hell do I know.

This was a complex man, full of passion, head swirling with demons, who created stunningly beautiful art.

No need to over analyze it. Just dig his contribution to making your life softer and gentler.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Sports Related Musings

The greatest job in the world must be as an ex-athlete announcer/analyst.

You have made your fortune, probably are set for life financially. You get to talk endlessly about the thing that you love, under no pressure. It's not like you need the job.

These guys laugh all the time; it's like the locker room has been transformed into a stage set. And they get to hang with all their friends.

Good gig.

New Topic: Brian Urlacher is retiring after 13 years with the Chicago Bears. I am not sure I believe that, but I want to believe that. These guys un-retire all the time. I want to believe that because the idea of a player spending his entire career with one team, the team that gave him a chance, the team that made him, appeals to the romantic in me.

Joe Namath ended his career playing for the Los Angeles Rams. Broke my heart. Joe Montana ended his career with the Kansas City Chiefs. Pissed me off.

Moves like that prove that sports is a business. Sports shouldn't be a business. Sports should be a dream.

New Topic:

In a PTI interview yesterday, Jim Leyland, manager of the Detroit Tigers, was asked what the definition of happiness is. He said that happiness is the ability to laugh at yourself.

The answer is brilliant. Being able to laugh at yourself slays self-consciousness, kills the fear of what others will think, releases embarrassment into the ionosphere.

Seems like a pretty healthy thing.

New Topic:

Tim Tebow is a  victim of circumstance. He got thrown into the middle of an unworkable situation and was made to suffer for it. Punished for it.

Two years ago he was kicking ass and making headlines in Denver. Even Jesus Christ himself became a die hard Denver fan. Had a jersey and everything. Tailgating with him was a blast - you didn't have to bring anything. He made wine and beer from water, brought one pork chop and turned it into a feast.

Payton Manning loomed and Tebow left. He suffered with the Jets and now his name is being mentioned in the same breath as arena football.

The professional sports world is a bubbling cauldron of harsh and swift judgements not always rationally made.

Strangely enough I know a little man struggling with the same situation. Just a regular guy who had a regular job and got thrown into the middle of an unworkable situation. He has been made to suffer for it. He has been punished for it. He doesn't have millions to fall back on and no arena football.

Rumor has it that McDonald's is recruiting him to wear a paper hat.

New Topic: I am feeling good about the Bruins.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Eternal Dilemma

"Physically, it feels better to not be hung over. Psychologically, it feels better to be drunk."


Dig This

"Maybe today will deliver what yesterday promised."


Dig This

"Never sleep with someone whose troubles are worse than your own."

Nelson Algren

Ray Manzarek

Ray Manzarek.

I just spent almost an hour trying to write about this man in an analytical way. I deleted every goddamn word so I could start over and write from the heart.

When The Doors exploded the rock world, they brought an entirely new perspective with them. They were described as dark, complex, unique. They were all those things, but what they brought to rock more than anything else was intelligence. Literary and poetic.

They challenged their audience to know what they were talking about, to understand the references, to dig the poetry, to not shrink back from Morrison's in your face strutting.

Philosophy, Greek mythology, performance art, rebellion, jazz and the blues; blew your mind and expanded it even if you were not into drugs. Brief aside: If you were not into drugs, I probably didn't know you.

How many rock groups do you think were singing about the Oedipal Complex at that time?

They didn't even have a bass player. Pretty damn radical. The recipe back then was guitar, drums, bass, singer. Ray had a keyboard bass sitting on top of his organ and often played them simultaneously. Didn't slow them down at all; in fact it gave them an edge, a way to accentuate the uniqueness of their sound.

The story of the birth of this group is the quintessential rock tale. Ray and Jim met at UCLA while both were studying film. Two years later Ray randomly ran into Jim on a beach in LA; Jim mentioned he had been writing music. He shyly sang Moonlight Drive to Ray and that was it. Ray saw the possibilities and suggested they form a band. Two years later they released their debut album, which was huge.

I know you have a hard time accepting Morrison as shy, but when they first started performing, he sang with his back to the crowd.

When I first picked up on them, my head spun around three times.

Morrison was the "out there" guy. Over the top; challenging everyone and everything, pushing boundaries. And yet he was still a poet. Deeply sensitive.

Manzarek was the introspective one; intellectual, classically trained on keyboards while maintaining a love of jazz and the blues. The spiritual one who captured the flavor of sixties wonder and exploration and held onto it all his life.

They shared a love of literature and poetry and film. Their personalities and their interests resulted in a creative cocktail that jolted the world when they plugged it all into rock 'n roll.

Manzarek was a loving and a spiritual guy. I didn't get the full impact until I read his autobiography and he forced me to consider what the hell heart chakras were all about.

In every interview I have read and seen, he came across as a seeker. A guy open to life and open to creative approaches and answers. His curiosity was spiced with that sixties perspective matured. A beautiful way to keep alive a relevant and meaningful philosophy.

The tributes I have read have been consistent. Loving, creative, open minded, sensitive, spiritual.

I would give anything to go back to the sixties and listen in on conversations between Ray and Jim. Pretty good bet they defied the stereotypical opinion of rock musicians.

I have not done the man justice. Too emotional. This is one of those deaths that caught me off guard and hurt me.

I will leave you with his own words:

"Once you open the doors of perception, the doors of perception are cleansed, they stay cleansed, they stay open, and you see life as an infinite voyage of joy and adventure and strangeness and darkness and wildness and craziness and softness and beauty."

Dig This

"I think according to words and not according to ideas."

Albert Camus

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Oh, Tony

His face was rough when I kissed it.
He hadn't shaved.
I think, when my brother called me,
I procrastinated.
I don't know.
I don't make good decisions, backed into
corners where selfishness is exposed.
And my memory is flawed.
Egocentric pain is easily recalled;
substantive memories fogged over.
By the time we got there, he was tucked away.
I asked to see him and
was told I could not.
I demanded to see him and
was told I could not.
I was furious.
The caretaker had his version of death,
I had mine.
Angrily, I made my intentions clear and
was finally brought out back to the storage area.
The bag was unzipped, I looked at my father
and my tears fell down upon him
as they hadn't since I was a child.
I  needed to see my father before they turned him to wax.
I needed that.
His face was rough when I kissed it.
He hadn't shaved.
I'll never forget that kiss.

Complete Safety

Thinking about the cats a little bit.

One of the things I enjoy knowing is that they are completely safe. They are indoor cats. They will never be attacked by another animal, never get run over by a car.

We have a screened in porch which is their haven during the good weather. It is their outside. They love it.

Is complete safety a good thing?

They sleep 29 hours a day. Even on the porch. Is it better to chase butterflies?

Is it better to be forever wary?

Hard core PETA people think owning pets is unnatural. Bad for the animal.

Part of my pleasure comes in the knowledge that I will never be completely safe. From anything, anywhere.

I had only limited time to keep my sons completely safe. Now it is out of my hands.

We are doing the right thing.

It is a precious gift to give your pets peace of mind.

I think I just had a conversation with myself.

Dig This

"I couldn't wait for success, so I went ahead without it."

Jonathan Winters

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Philosopher

Camus said "There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. Deciding whether or not life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy. All other questions follow from that."

He pondered this topic in his essay, The Myth of Sisyphus. Lest we forget, Sisyphus was the dude condemned by the gods to ceaselessly roll a rock to the top of a mountain only to have it roll back down. The gods believed there was no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.

Strike a chord?

In fact, Camus says "The workman of today works every day in his life at the same tasks, and his fate is no less absurd."

Camus' reflections originate from his theory of the absurd. He believed there is no provable, acceptable answer to the question: "What is the meaning of life?" Therefore the absurd is the conflict created between our drive to ask this question and the ultimate inability of getting an answer.

He makes the question of suicide more dramatic by rejecting the concept of an after life as false hope. Nietzsche said that hope is evil. That it is the reason why humans let themselves be tormented - because they anticipate an ultimate reward. Camus built on that, saying that hope is disastrous for humans because it leads them to minimize the value of this life except as preparation for a life beyond.

More spice for the stew: "It is absurd to continually seek meaning in life when there is none, and it is absurd to hope for some form of continued existence after death."

Camus felt we have to accept an awareness of death to open ourselves to the riches of life, that the death of hope allows us to focus on what one has, what one knows. A living in the now kind of thing.

He hints that suicide may be the only rational solution to this dilemma, then goes about laying out a blueprint explaining how to live a meaningless life without committing suicide.

That's the beauty of being a philosopher, baby - you get to have it both ways.

He suggests that Sisyphus has actually reached the ultimate conclusion by accepting his fate. That each time Sisyphus begins to move the rock again, "he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock."

He says that, like Sisyphus, we are our fate, and our frustration is our very life: we can never escape it.

Therefore tragic consciousness is the conclusion of "absurd reasoning" : living fully aware of the bitterness of our being and consciously facing our fate.

Living a meaningless life without the solution of suicide means "living in full consciousness, avoiding false solutions such as religion, refusing to submit, and carrying on with vitality and inevitability."

There is a lot to chew on in these musings and many other avenues to pursue, other schools of thought.

But if you believe in the ultimate meaningless of life, the supreme inability to "know", Camus' recipe for survival is not a bad one.

Suicide is kind of a dead end.

Psycho Killer

Heard a GE commercial this morning that included the line "After all, why talk if you have nothing to say?"

That immediately transported me to the Talking Heads.

"You start a conversation, you can't even finish it. You're talking a lot but you're not saying anything. When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed. Say something once, why say it again?"

If all of humanity adopted that approach, the world would be a much quieter, far less distracting place.

By the way, those lyrics are quoted from a song entitled Psycho Killer.

There is some sort of connection there that I can't quite put my finger on.


Decisions have to have weight and heft.

They have to be solid enough to hold in your hand.

A decision is something you do in your head, so there is constant danger, more often realized than not, of the decision remaining ethereal.

Statistics show that 103% of decisions are never acted upon. The 3% comes from backward movement. You decide not to do something anymore and wind up doing even more of it.

It is an impressive thing when a decision is translated into action. When somebody actually changes their life or something in their life as a result of determination, experience, wisdom and exasperation, desperation and disgust.

True decisions, decisions that cause cell change, that are acted upon, are powerful. More so if they are kept internal. Announcing decisions to the world cheapens them. There is a magic balance there, some relation to alchemy, where a decision exposed to the the whim of another human, begins to rust. To lose strength and mutate into the realm of excuses.

Decisions are comfort food for the mind. We make them all the time. It makes us feel better. Then we forget about them and continue down the same worn path.

How many times have you heard somebody say "I'm gonna do this from now on." Or "I am not going to do this anymore." And a thousand variations thereof.

How many times have those words echoed inside your own skull?

How many times have those words been followed up on?

Begs the question of whether or not a decision is even a decision if it is not acted upon.

Decisions have to be made to get to happiness. Decisions have to be made to improve a life. They have to be made and they have to be built upon.

Humans excel at self directed deviousness. We sneak up on ourselves and tell ourselves lies that some part of us chooses to believe. A truly weird process when you think about it.

Your brain knows you are lying because you have been there before, but there is a diseased speck of grey matter that chooses to believe. Or pretends to believe.

And that is how we sleep at night.

We are all essentially cowards. It is easier to keep absorbing the pain then it is to make the decisions and act upon them that will move us closer to living in harmony with our souls.

How bizarre. How bizarre.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dig This

"We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses."

Carl Jung

Be Like The Bird

"Be like the bird that,
pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight,
feels them give way beneath her,
and sings knowing she hath wings."

Victor Hugo

Pretty good advice. A gentle and trusting way to approach life.

Because the boughs we shoot for, dream boughs, are always too slight and it is rare that we reach the one magic bough that will support us.

The boughs we choose to rest on, the ones that do support us, are the traps, the detours, the lulling, numbing boughs that slip a life away.

The delicate boughs are the ones that keep our souls alive. They are worth taking a chance on. If they give way under the weight of our hopes, it is better to keep moving, to choose another slender chance and give it a try.

Dreams are the substance of  life, the magic of life, the things that lift us above despair.

If we sing and know we have wings, we can keep dreaming.

Dig This

"One must be careful what one pins his hopes and dreams on and how he does it, lest he burst them like a balloon."


Monday, May 20, 2013

Dig This

"Show me a man who lives alone and has a perpetually clean kitchen, and 8 times out of 9 I'll show you a man with detestable spiritual qualities."

Charles Bukowski

Green Acres

If you have a little time before trudging off to work and you decide to indulge in some light research regarding the philosophy of Albert Camus, leading you to the theory of absurdism, brushing up against existentialism, connecting you to Jean-Paul Sartre and Soren Kierkegaard, teasing you with the story of Sisyphus and relating it to your life, with the concept of suicide pondered in the mix, the best you can do is run downstairs and dial up an episode of Green Acres.

That should adequately prepare you for work.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Between Summer And Sixty

On January 1 of this year I posted introspection.

I tried to honestly assess the writing I do here, trace the history, identify changes I wanted to make. What I do here is important to me.

It is therapeutic but not cathartic. If it was cathartic I would evolve. Apparently I am resistant to evolving, and it burns me.

On 01/01/13, I laid out different approaches I wanted to take this year in here. Things I wanted to do, things I wanted to avoid.

Call it Adjustment 2.0

Adjustment 1.0 was when my magnificent son Keith pointed out that flat out negativity interests no one. That he refused to read the blackly negative stuff. Coming from an accomplished writer - and my first born son - I took his comments to heart.

It makes a lot more sense to use my talent to distract or entertain people, than to just wallow in despair, even if it is universally shared.

I have not succeeded completely at either adjustment. But I am trying and I think the writing got better.

This location at first was a confessional, then became, in my mind, a potential vehicle for my salvation. I believed I could change my life with quality writing. I believed that people would dig what I had to say and it would lead me somewhere.

Adjustment 3.0 is now taking shape. I met with Gen, a cousin of Carol's this past Monday. A writer. A published writer.

I approached her by E-mail because I am exploring opportunities this year. Actively trying to make things happen. I directed her to these pages and asked for advice. She graciously agreed to meet with me and we talked for almost 2 and 1/2 hours. She had done some digging in the blog.

She said something that hit me like a bolt of lightening. She pointed out that everything I write comes from the perspective of me, me, me, I, I, I. She said "Who gives a shit what you think?" Not maliciously, not hurtfully; helpfully. It was about me; it was about writing as a craft.

And she was right.

I have suspected this for a while. I got two bumps in readership over the past year resulting from people trying to get me exposure. Bumps where the daily hits to the blog jumped from 25 to over a hundred.


Each time, when the attention quickly dwindled, I began to question my assumptions. I assumed that I had something to say, that I can say it better than most, and that people would identify with the words.

I had hundreds of people checking me out and I could not hold them.

Gen's words intermingled with my doubts on Monday and there was a sonic boom. She said a lot of other things that opened my eyes, gave me hints and advice. It was a great conversation, a great get together.

I am viciously motivated this year. Summer is on the cusp and my sixtieth birthday is approaching, albeit still 7 months away.

I need to enjoy this summer; I need to enter my 61st year with dignity. I NEED these things. I don't say that lightly.

Between summer and sixty, I am on high alert.

I am also fearful and unsure. This year is the first year in a long time that genuine doubt poisoned my mind allowing me to believe I would die a writer-wannabe. Another unrealistic dreamer making a fool out of himself and his life.

I outlined a four step approach in my mind to rev things up this year. Gen was step 3. Steps 1 and 2 accomplished nothing.

I am going to try to take a different approach in here, yet again.

Hopefully the writing in here will change. Hopefully it will get better. Hopefully it will entertain, challenge, inform and amuse you.

Hopefully it will lead me to the life I know was mapped out for me at birth.

There are no other options.

Henry & June

Recently read Henry & June. From The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin.

The word unexpurgated alone drives you to the book store in a frenzy to purchase this book. (Editor's note: Book store is an antiquated reference. Book stores no longer exist. They have been replaced by over priced coffee hawkers, and smart phone boutiques.)

Anais Nin is describes as a French-born novelist, passionate eroticist, and short story writer. She lived from 1903 to 1977 and gained fame largely from her journals.

She kept detailed journals for most of her life, beginning at the age of eleven, and was brutally honest in them regarding her thoughts, her feelings, her impressions and opinions and experiences.

Henry & June covers the period between October 1931 to October 1932. A period of time when she lost herself and discovered herself through a torrid affair with Henry Miller. Just before Henry Miller was to achieve fame as a novelist.

Anais Nin was married, Henry Miller was married. June was Miller's wife, who Nin was also attracted to and who she flirted with. June travelled during this period, which allowed Miller and Nin to investigate passion.

And investigate passion was what they did. Miller was a passionate man, an experienced and improvisational lover. Nin was somewhat naive at the time but emotionally open to expanding the boundaries of her life. In fact, hungering to do so.

They engaged in a ferocious affair of both the body and the mind. The journal is explicit in describing their sexual joys, but that is merely the tip of the iceberg.

It is also explicit in describing their conversations and impressions, their opinions of life and relationships, their exploration of and attempts to understand and maybe redefine what it means to love, to be in love, how best to live a love and a life.

Passion of the mind.

Some would view the whole scenario as scandalous, especially given the period when it was written. Some would consider Anais Nin a harlot.

Others might consider her a seeker, a lover of life. Some are described as afraid to die, others are described as afraid to live. She was unafraid to live.

The rules have been laid down centuries ago defining how life should be lived and how relationships should be conducted. Humans are too complex to be restricted by rules. Each life answer is individually determined.

Anais Nin chose to live vibrantly, writing her own rules as she went and sometimes breaking even those.

Passion runs wild in these journals. Passion of every intensity and definition, physical and of the mind and emotions. Passionate thought, passionate questioning, intense self examination and change, intense risk and reward.

However you choose to label Anais Nin, it cannot  be denied that she grabbed life by the throat and fought furiously to shake answers free from the mystery that shrouds it.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Black Flies

Hang on, everybody. Hang on me.

I am just trying to get a different perspective. A fresh outlook.

The job don't give me no free time. No peace of mind.

A struggle. Finding time. What a shame.

Time is what we all need. Time is what we all don't got.

Met with a published author on Monday. A relative.

Talked a lot, she gave me mountains of inspiration.

And yet, I haven't been able to get in here. Many hours spent at the job. No hours spent at the soul.

Genny gave me encouragement. Inspiration.

Four days later and nothing has changed. Time is a pair of handcuffs. A noose.

Just enough to extinguish movement. Just enough to extinguish life.

Hope the black flies are dead.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Dig This

"When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system's game. The establishment will irritate you - pull your beard, flick your face - to make you fight. Because once they've got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don't know how to handle is non-violence and humor."

John Lennon

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Bottom Two Billion

Greed is not good. I dig Gordon Gekko but I dig Bill Gates more.

Watched a segment on 60 Minutes last night about Bill Gates, whose personal fortune is estimated to be 67 billion dollars. That's BILLION baby, billion.

He is putting all his energy into eradicating major diseases in the world and making life livable for those who suffer. He retired from Microsoft five years ago.

He is focusing on what he calls the bottom two billion. Two billion people in the world who live on two dollars a day or less. People with inadequate housing, inadequate health care, inadequate plumbing, inadequate food.

That is one third of the world's population. ONE THIRD.

He is focusing on improving the odds of the millions of children under the age of five who die every year from preventable diseases; one every 20 seconds.

He is working with inventors to create new technologies to bring relief to those who suffer; he is working with the medical community, and he is doing it with an entrepreneurs spirit. Investigating opportunities, encouraging innovation.

This is a man worthy of maximum respect.

There are a lot of millionaires in this country. Hell, there are a lot of billionaires.

Imagine what the world would be like if every single one of them threw some of their wealth at serious issues, life issues, issues of human survival, health, happiness and dignity.

The world would be gentler, it would be more fair, there would be less disease, less suffering. And, consequently, more people who at least have a chance to contribute something significant to humanity.

Think of all the beauty, all the intelligence, all the uniqueness that is being lost to the preventable deaths of children under the age of five.

What an unspeakable loss, what a lessening of humanity.

But the rich are greedy. They want to protect their wealth, rather than to protect the life of another human being.

Consider the turds on Wall Street, who came close to destroying our economy and got away unpunished. And are going about doing it again.

All in the name of designer suits, premium Scotch, Cuban cigars and Italian sports cars. How is it that they can walk around and not see or not care about people struggling? How is it they can watch the news and ignore the suffering, other than to wonder how they can manipulate it into investment opportunities?

What is it about the human experience that we can be so selfish? So cold?

This is something I struggle to understand into infinity.

If you have more money than you need, it should be a logical thought process to wonder how you can use that money to help others. Why is it that the people I hear spouting off about being grateful for what you have, are those who don't have much?

Maybe because they have been sold the concept of gratefulness.

We are superficial in this country. More concerned with flaunting success, than with using it as a weapon for good.

I checked out the 60 Minutes website a little while ago, and there were negative comments in there from people criticizing Bill Gates for various reasons for what he is doing.

Are you serious?

No matter how he got there, no matter what he is doing or how he is doing it, he is trying to help humanity. He is trying to improve the lives of billions of people. He is trying to give children a chance.

This is what disturbs me on an even greater level. Along with the greed displayed by the privileged, we have a negativity buried deep within those who are not so lucky.

What is it about the human experience that we can be so selfish? So cold?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Career Move

100 mph on I-93 with whiskey in my belly in place of fear.

No worries.

Blue lights flashing behind me cannot catch up.

Not yet.

A situation decades in the making and inevitable.

The black Vette sitting outside the car dealership was the kicker. That and the bonus I got for selling my soul to the highest bidder.

If responsibility was my thing, I would have banked most of the money, maybe bought myself a hat or some blue suede wing tips.

But it is spring, and the day I drove by, gorgeous sun warmth was bouncing off the sleek black hood of this menacing machine. I pulled in like I had been doing it all my life; like spending money was no stress low stress. When I told the smarmy salesman I would be paying cash, he looked at me like I was a Mafioso.

Which made the whole deal taste even better.

My masculinity tripled behind the wheel of that car. I felt invincible. It was a sensation like none I had ever experienced before, and I dug it more than the joy of high quality drugs coursing through my veins.

Trouble did not come with the car. Trouble came with the job.

When I realized exactly what I was trading for that extravagant bonus and enormous salary, I began a slow burn. A slow burn that quickly escalated to raging anger.

Took me 20 years to get to this point. 20 years with no vacations, six and seven day weeks, a foul commitment to ass kissing.

I finally get to rub elbows with the corporate elite, and nothing changes but the money. They wanted more from me than I had left to give.

My gorgeous car was reduced to a mode of transportation. Drive to work, drive home. No babes, no chance to humiliate guys with my success.

A couple of months in, I started leaving after short 10 hour days. Much frowned upon.

Found this beautiful little bar called Eddie's. Not exactly a dive. It had character. I was comfortable there. The kind of bar where I could drink double whiskeys in a no judgement zone.

And the bartender was gorgeous. Ginger. I turned up the charm to take no prisoners level. Still, she seemed more interested in the fifties that rolled out of my pocket than in my classically handsome features.

Could be the twenty year age difference. Hard to believe.

I noticed the cops cruising the parking lot from time to time but didn't really care. I am an excellent drunk driver. Should start a school.

Today was a really bad day at work. Too much faux camaraderie, disingenuous conversation and false enthusiasm. I didn't scream, and I still can't figure out how I avoided that.

A few extra whiskeys at Eddie's, and Ginger's empty flirtation made everything perfect.

I saw the cops sitting there in the parking lot while executing a few missteps towards the Vette. I knew they were waiting for me to turn the key. Challenging me to turn the key.

I did.

They were on my ass thirty seconds out of the parking lot. I was on the highway thirty seconds after that.

And here I am. 100 m.p.h. on I-93 with whiskey in my belly and no fear.

The cops are getting closer.

I am not comfortable at this speed. Right on the edge. Still, no fear. And there is still room between the accelerator and the floor.

I think about my future. I think about the man I have not become.

The pedal touches the floor.

My beautiful black Vette exploded when it hit the concrete pylon. My body was annihilated.

It was the best career move I ever made.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


I have listened to Sigh No More TWICE this morning.

Sometimes the risks I take frighten even me.

What Else Can I Do?

I am tuned in like a laser beam to spring this year.

Every day on my way in to work I look up at the trees, at the buds and watch them progressing. Look at the streams I pass, the graveyards, roll the windows down whenever possible to feel the wind and dig on the clarity.

When the glass is removed between me and the world I marvel at the detail, the focus, the dazzle.

I look up, I look to the side, I look at trees, I look at animals. I cannot believe I haven't gone off the road. Of course there is still hope.

The intensity of my focus is knowing that if I remain trapped in this job, there is a very excellent chance spring and summer will blow by unappreciated. Because of the stress. Because of the schedule.

I also believe this is the job that will kill me. If I try to stick this out for a year or two, my toes will ending up pointing towards that beautiful, hopeful blue, boundless sky I have been digging.

But I am fighting back. I refuse to get glassy eyed and apathetic. I don't remember the last time I enjoyed spring as much. When summer washes over me I will take what ever little pieces of joy I can from it.

What else can I do?

M & S

I now own Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons. I am listening to it even as we speak.

The beauty of that is that this CD represents exactly half of their studio output. With one fell swoop (next week) I will own both of their studio albums.

This gives me the inspiration to pursue Mr. Zimmerman and Van Morrison. 'Twill take a might longer but 'twill be worth every penny and every expenditure of effort.

I'm telling you folks, Mumford & Sons give me hope. They give me inspiration. They are a lifeline for me right now. They, along with a religion I call The Allman Brothers Band, might just get me through this.

Cold Hearts

I think the over abundance of cold minds and cold hearts in this world are the real source of climate change.

King JC

I have a real problem with the name Jesus Christ being associated with the word king.

As in, Jesus Christ, King of Man.

There is something incongruous there, something hinting at a poisoning of purity.


Humans need mindless cliches to get by.

Because we lack originality.

This is the greatest source of my boredom - lack of originality. Somehow, someway, life reduces us to robots who march in step dutifully while uttering hollow words with no pre-thought.

New ones come along all the time. To fill the huge vacuum of vapidity.

Like Git Er Done. Or Not So Much.

The King of them all, however, is "We need the rain."

It could rain 2 inches a day for 67 days. The next day is 78 degrees and sun dappled with a forecast of rain for tomorrow.

But someone somewhere will say, and you have my personal lifetime guarantee on this, "Yeah it's nice today but it's gonna rain tomorrow. That's OK - we need the rain."

Taking it one step further - I believe it is only in America that "we need the rain" is used as mindlessly.

Boredom is shredding my soul. It weakens my muscles and numbs my nerve endings. It clouds my mind and cataracts my vision.

Please. Work with me. Let's express what is in our hearts. Let's express what is in our souls. Let's put honest words and emotion out there and see what changes.

You got nothing to lose.

Have a nice day.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Calender Thouhgts

I just recently flipped my calender from March to May.

Never even took a look at April.

Did April happen?

Still got a cheapo calneder hanging there. Time to buy something meaningful.

I am in for a killer discount.

A Little More.........

thinking a little more about Keith's birthday.

It is the perfect time of year to be born. Your life begins as the world around you comes alive into beauty, comfort and simplicity.

Synchronicity, baby.

If everybody was born in May there would be no war.

I was born in January. January 1 to be exact. Which I consider cool and unique although it has done nothing to bring harmony into my life.

Maybe that is where I am going wrong. January 1 is a time for revelry. I am trying to live an ordered life, one where I can accumulate as many pats on the head as I can.

Good boy for bowing to deadlines and commitments. Good boy for making that mortgage payment.

Maybe I should live in complete and total chaos. Maybe this explains why my ass is more comfortable on a bar stool than in my recliner.

Maybe I am fighting the nature that was dictated to me by the timing of my birth. I was even born late on January 1, robbing my parents of headlines and tax breaks.

Every sign points to turbulence.

But I digress.

May is the perfect time to be born. Even wardrobe-wise. Carol and I were discussing this and she pointed out that because Keith's first few months opened up into warmth, all she had to do was slap a diaper on him and he was good to go. No wardrobe coordination headaches.

Strange Stillness

I am in a very dangerous place.

Between books.

Have been for days. Many days.

Unusual, but it does reflect where my head is at. Might not get to another book until Sunday, due to scheduling problems.

I am most vulnerable when I am not reading.

There is a strange stillness in the house.

Dig This

"The one way for the enire human race to be evaluated as successful, would be for every living human to rate their number one goal as dying. Guaranteed 100% success rate."



This loneliness thing is a mystery.

You can be so lonely in a crowd. Lonely with your friends. Lonely with your family. Lonely with yourself.

As you are smiling and wowing the crowd your guts are twisted upside down and inside out belying the performance you are giving.

We humans experience a dual nature. The "here I am world" look; the reality inside.

The loneliness comes from uniqueness. Our unique selves, buried deep, can't seem to connect with anyone. Our wants, wishes, desires, seem unattainable after the age of 6.

Cruel irony that everybody is alone but we cannot be alone together. The guy standing next to you is as bewildered as you are but there is no connection. Everybody you run into today will be lost and searching but the vibe will not translate.

We have broken the psychic connection between us.

The world is weighted down with loneliness. Amazing it still orbits true. It should fly off course and spin off into the cold, blackness of a sunless journey.

This would be a relief for billions of people.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Eight Minutes

It is a lot easier to live superficially than to dig deep.

Living superficially requires killing pain. Ignoring the truth. Pretending.

Most of us do that. No blame there. It is a hard life.

You are born with a psychic contract, an unspoken feel for what life has to offer. But the contract is not executed in writing. It is not a legal document. What is written, is written ethereally in fine print.

Digging deep uncovers pain. Mines it like a precious metal. It also uncovers confusion. Questions are asked, leading to more and more questions. The answers don't come or are hard to decipher. Like reading the bible or listening to Ozzie Osbourne speak. You know there is something there but you are not quite sure what it is.

Life is this thing, both precious and maddening. You know exactly where you are headed. In fact the only thing you are sure of, the only definite in your life, is that every day brings you closer to your death. You can't count on being happy, you can't count on being healthy, you can't count on being employed, you can't count on being loved.

But you do know at the end of today that you are one day closer to the end of your life.

"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates

The irony is that an answer is not guaranteed in the examining. Maybe it's the "life is a journey not a destination" thing. Maybe the value is in the examining. If you arrive at conclusions, than so much the better.

I am a warped mix of the spiritual and the pragmatic. I observe my life through a mystical lens but I want concrete answers. Every time I drive by a cemetery, I raise my hand in a beckoning manner, inviting the deceased to share their knowledge with me.

They never do.

What are the right questions to ask? And does the process have to be incremental?

At this point, I am looking for a massive blast of an answer. Something so big and so clarifying that I will suddenly just be. No more anxiety, no more worry.

Peace of mind. Peace of life.

You can miss a lot of barbecues through self examination. Miss a lot of episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

Statistics show you get 8 quality minutes a day after working, shopping, and fretting. 8 minutes you can call your own.

Should you spend them charring flesh? Or examining your life.

I don't know the answer.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

My Sweet Lord

Carol and I were driving home last night from Massachusetts. LATE.

Travelled down to dig my brother playing big time music with a big time orchestra accompanying big time operatic performers.

On the road from 11:30 p.m.  to 1:30 a.m. Struggling to stay awake. Struggling to not think about this morning's booze emporium wake up call.

Eyelids fluttering, stamina flagging, positivity evaporating.

Heard a stripped down version of My Sweet Lord by George Harrison. I never heard this version before. It is bare compared to the finished product on All Things Must Pass. Raw and bare.

I loved it.

It was like God was in the room and George was singing to him. Looking him right in the eye expressing his love for the deity and the frustration of getting to the God place.

Blew me a way. Blew me away.

Mr. Harrison was such a spiritual guy. Sometimes the best music, the best communication, is the most basic. Without the violins, without the arrangement.

Just a man and his guitar and his heart and his soul and his beliefs.

A soul reviving moment in the very middle of the night.

Friday, May 3, 2013


My son Keith was born on May 3, 1980.

I have told this story a thousand times, but I will tell it again because it is mine to tell. He was born early a.m., maybe around 3-ish, 4-ish. I could be wrong. I'm not good with the details. I'm better with the emotions.

I left the hospital around 5:30 or 6:00 a.m and remember literally bounding down the steps into a glorious and beautiful day. Just like today. It was a magnificent May day, already very warm, Spring beauty assaulting the senses, and me with my first kid.

I went home to an empty house so wound up, so excited, I had no clue what to do. I knew I could not go to bed. I grabbed a beer and put on Isn't She Lovely by Stevie Wonder. Sorry about the gender thing Keith. I would have listened to Beautiful Boy by John Lennon but it wasn't released until December of that year.

Isn't She Lovely came closest to expressing what I was feeling. The love, the wonder, the excitement, the joy.

In 33 years my son has never disappointed those feelings. Never.

I listened to the song over and over again.

The weather of two days ago got me thinking about this, making the weather connection. Wednesday was gorgeous and I had the day off. When I went outside, my senses immediately went to the day of Keith's birth. I hoped today would be glorious too so I could write honestly. It is and I am.

As a kid, Keith was a little testy. He hated to lose, had a bit of a temper, and our games in the back yard with Craig got a little tense sometimes.

At some point, he decided he did not want to be that way any more. So he just changed. I remember when he told me that how blown away I was. I have been trying to just change for decades and failed.

This is the wonder of being a parent. Learning from your kids. Being inspired by them. Looking at them and recognizing that in some ways they are better than you.

Somehow Keith has figured out how to mix and balance intensity with Zen. His approach to life is laid back. He doesn't let stuff get to him. Despite his continuous attempts to tutor his father I let everything get to me. He is laid back but competitive, confidant and strong. Best of all he laughs a lot and makes me laugh with him.

I have had many magnificent moments with my son, full of happiness, pride, sensitivity and honesty and I will have many more.

This is the gift Keith gives to me. A gift unsurpassed, a gift that cannot be bettered.

My kids don't owe me a damn thing. That's not the way the deal works. You shock them into the world, do the best you can when they are young and pliable, then sit back and hope for the best.

Some kids grow up to add nothing to the world. Some grow up to hurt their parents.

Keith is that amazing mutation of humanity whose life makes the world a better place. He touches people positively. My head swells to the size of a watermelon whenever one of my friends meets him and tells me that I have a hell of a kid. I have a close friend who lives near Keith, runs into him from time to time. He goes out of his way to tell me how impressed he is with Keith. And he has had only brief conversations with him. That says a lot.

That same friend is celebrating the birth of his second grandson today. When I told him the grandson would be sharing Keith's birthday, he thought that was pretty cool.

Keith has affected me enormously. It is not an exaggeration to say that when I am around him I feel the same intensity of love, the same chest bursting pride, the same anticipation and wonder that I felt on May 3, 1980.

If you doubt that, then you don't know me. And you don't know Keith.

Keith is 33 years old today. I am not comfortable with that fact. Because I am 59. I don't like where this is headed. When he was born, I could imagine him as a little boy, could imagine him going to school, could imagine him learning to ride a bike, learning to drive.

I could not imagine him being 33.

The beauty comes in recognizing that Keith has given me 33 years of pure love, pure pride, pure emotion. He has made me feel alive for 33 years of my own life. The only other person in the world who has given me more is Carol. Craig is logged in at 29 and still counting.

Happy Birthday, kid. I will be thinking about you all day today. Every time I sneak out of the store to stand in the sun, I will be bounding down the steps of that hospital again.

I had no clue those steps would lead to 2013. And beyond. But you have made the passing of those years joyful. You keep me alive. You challenge me to get better. And to let go and lighten up.

I love you with all my heart, all my soul, all my being. It frustrates me to know the words do not exist for me to adequately express the true intensity of my love and admiration for you.

And me, a word guy.

I gave it my best shot.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Today's Assignment

Uplifting words for the day:

actual spring
bird song (which reminds me I watched a bird take a bath in our bird bath yesterday with complete abandon then lift off into the sky - very cool)
Delmonico steak
civilized whiskey
Allman Brothers Band
Mumford & Sons
outdoor concert
indoor concert
a damn good book
strong coffee
acoustic guitar
electric guitar
the commitment to learning to play them
getting paid to write
laughter (genuine)
calling in sick
minor league baseball right down the road
winning lottery ticket

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dig This

"I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger as reason. I am so thirsty for the marvellous that only the marvellous has power over me. Anything I cannot transform into something marvellous, I let go. Reality doesn't impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls."

Anais Nin

Massive Bookage

OK, look. Currently in the lineup I have:

1) A 450 page biography of Edgar Allan Poe

2) A 650 page biography of John Lennon

What the hell was I thinking?

I have two other books in the queue as well.

I'll have to learn to get by on 4 hours sleep.

Behind The Forehead Lies..........

My forehead is the portal to my soul.

Or so it would seem.

When I touch my forehead to the top of my cats' heads, it soothes me greatly. And the fact that they allow me to do it for seconds at a time is a sign from the cosmos.

I was needing inspiration, help, and hope just the other morning as I brewed up a cup of premium instant coffee. I touched the Beatles mug to my forehead and was soothed.

There might be something to this theory.

Or this could just be the rantings of a battered mind.

Personal Development Workshop

Carol convinced me to attend a personal development workshop last night. Christ, I don't even like the name of it.

I consider every day that I don't kill somebody, personal development. And the word workshop makes my intestines twist and rebel.

Our world is overrun with seminars and workshops and meetings and gatherings and info dissemination events. Most of them are a joke.

The work related ones, and I have been to many, really crack me up. Because your company is paying to send you to a seminar run by a self-important wind bag who cares only that the check clears. They are boring and long winded. There is always the hope, often realized, that the seminar will end early and you get to go home two hours before expected.

Which is magnificent, as long as you don't find your wife intermingled with Raoul the pool boy.

I have been to three wine tastings since I became Supreme Assistant Booze Emporium Manager. You end up tasting 32 wines in a couple of hours. Which is overwhelming. It becomes so ridiculous that if they poured a glass of Welch's grape juice in front of you, you would agree the taste is subtle yet bold, tending towards spicy, with hints of tobacco, chocolate, oak and papaya, with a hearty nose, a surprising impression and a clean finish.

The ruse is the wine distributors are educating you about wine so you can sell more, and that you are sophisticating your palate so you can talk intelligently to your wine snob customers. The truth is the distributors know you are learning nothing, and you know you are there to get out of work and for the free lunch.

And to get out early.

As far as self-help seminars go, I am supremely leery. 98% of the people in the world are genuinely unhappy and an entire industry has evolved to profit from that. Not to help people. To profit from their pain.

I didn't know what to expect from last night, but I am in the right head space to consider the potential benefits. Of course, Carol has been gently nudging me to go for weeks now. She was going with or without me but she was hoping for tandem personal development.

Any other woman on the planet would say by now "Die, dog, die - you are contemptible and deserve whatever low rent fate you attract."

But Carol continues to believe she can rehabilitate me and release my locked potential.

Thank God.

I was pleasantly surprised. The guy did not come across as a used car salesman. I am a gut feel kind of guy and my gut felt comfortable with this dude.

The first thing he did was ask, on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being total love and 1 being self-loathing, how you feel about yourself. I immediately thought 3.

He asked for a show of hands as he worked his way backwards from 10, and when I realized my hand would be the only one up for three, I raised it at five.

I immedately found this amusing. I lied rather than admit my true feelings. Perhaps my psyche could use some personal development.

There were 12 or 13 people there, this guy talked, everybody had something to say, it was interesting. I was surprised that a lot of what he had to say resonated with thoughts I have wrestled with for decades. Thoughts about my hang ups and thoughts about how to deal with them.

He kept putting the emphasis on each of us. Taking responsibility. If you said "When you get angry" using the universal you, he would stop you and make you say "When I get angry". I liked that.

His point was that you are in charge. That you can change whatever evil torments you. This is nothing new but he did it in a way that forced you to think and felt genuine.

He talked about fact/meaning. There are facts and there is the meaning you attach to them. He said a snowstorm is a fact. Meaning is when you whine endlessly about having to deal with the snow and the cold and how inconvenient it is..........................

Carol enjoyed that example immensely. If you know me you will understand why.

Of course meaning could also be that a snowstorm is beautiful.

I only paused when he said something about how your income could triple once you get to the right place in your head.

I am looking for pure evolvement. Peace of mind and soul. Then again, I know if I can shatter my hang ups I will earn more money because I am the only idiot standing in my way.


Anyway I was surprised at my reaction. I am pondering the next step. Last night was El Cheapo. If I/we commit to a four meeting course, the dollars kick in.

I have to decide if I can get anything from this dude. I am naturally skeptical. But if I consider my own self-analysis track record, I should find out where this guy lives and just move in with him.

My clothes have changed, my jobs have changed, my kids have grown and fled, my cars have changed, friends have come and gone, my hair has changed (both in color and in length), but I stand firmly rooted in the same paralyzing stance I have maintained for decades.

What have I got to lose?

Absolute Contentment

I woke up gently today. 5:45. Before the alarm went off.

As I floated towards consciousness I became aware of a situation that made me wish today could be every day for the rest of my life.

I hadn't opened my eyes yet but I became aware that one of the cats was sleeping close to me. I sleep on my side, she was stretched out along the length of my chest. Her head was right up underneath my chin.

I could hear her breathing. Contentedly and sound asleep. At one point she stretched out one of her legs and her paw rested on my arm. She continued sleeping in peace.

When I opened my eyes I saw it was Maka.

When I opened my eyes I saw Lakota lying on the floor next to the glass sliders with her head resting on a piece of wood that is settled there. Her eyes were half open as she struggled against sleep while trying to monitor what was going on in the yard.

Birds were chirping.

Carol was breathing rhythmically next to me and I tried to will the alarm to malfunction because I knew when it jarred her awake her peace would be broken.

I was unsuccessful and responsibility intruded.

But for those 15 minutes our bedroom and my life existed in pure peace. Absolute contentment.

That, my friends, was a gift.