Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Touch of a Button

Strangely, my first move after sitting in front of this screen lately has been to go to

Incongruous, no?


HGTV is giving away a "smart home". This is a high tech place, as high tech as it gets in 2015. Everything is connected and digitized and sanitized and smart this and smart that.

Everything can be done with the touch of a button.

So you can live in luxury and get fatter.

I don't care about the gadgetry.

The house is located in Austin, Texas. That is what I care about.

Austin is a dream location for me. I must get there. I would have been happy with a visit or two, but living there would supremely tasty.

In a brand new home and driving a brand new 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which is part of the prize package.

In fact the entire package includes this 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom, 2300 square foot modern Austin farmhouse, tech savvy appliances, beautiful furnishings and custom artwork, $100,000 in cash, and the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class automobile.

Pretty goddamn droolable.

But Austin is the draw for me. I would be an instant celebrity in every downtown bar. "Hey, here comes the dude who won that house."

And believe me, in Austin I would do committed bar research until I narrowed my haunts to a few places with the best atmosphere and the consistently best music.

In reality, with even a limited knowledge of Austin, I believe "a few" would be impossible to achieve.

Anyway........................whenever I visit the website, I enter four times. Twice under our E-mail address, twice under my E-mail address.

I have submitted a large number of entries.

Got two more days left to enter.

See you in Austin, baby.


My visits here have become a tad erratic.

This is a situation that must be remedied.

I may include that commitment in the June Manifesto I am considering going public with.

I kicked the living crap out of May. Kind of.

Walked and walked and walked. Ate yogurt for breakfast and lunch many times during the month on work days.

I'll be summing it all up tomorrow. As I thought about and re-considered May it occurred to me that if I really want change I may have to REALLY kick it up.

Go nutsos crazy in a lot of different ways, in a lot of different directions.

Why not push it, not just a little further, but a lot further? What have I got to lose?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I am experiencing inspiration right now. Motivation. Because my body is directly tied to climate.

Winter kills, summer inspires.

Interpreted, this means I am dead for a minimum of eight months out of the year. With only four months of life to work with, change can not be incremental.

It must be monumental.

I am considering laying out specific things that must change or specific things I must do in the month of June.

Always a dangerous undertaking because if I fail miserably you will be there to pound my head with a ball peen hammer.

I do not want my skull attacked with a ball peen hammer.

I'll mull it over for the rest of today which, mercifully, I have off. A slow moving, overcast and humid Sunday to enjoy life and peace with Carol and the cats.

Tomorrow I walk straight ahead into hell once again. Gonna be a miserable week; sale changeover week.

It always sucks. Very physical as displays are taken down and new ones erected in their place. Booze distributor reps whining and complaining as they jockey for bigger commissions. My boss standing in my way instead of working with me.

Tomorrow will be a great test of my bumped up commitment. I will either stagger home and consume 4 -  1.75 bottles of Crown Royal Whisky or I will buckle down in the face of adversity and commit to making June bigger than May.

Much bigger.

Bet you are breathless in anticipation of the outcome.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What The Weekend Was

We had Saturday and Monday to ourselves.

Slow moving, peace filled days. Doing things together, doing things separately, digging on the cats, the screened in porch, the garden, the fountain, the weather and the overwhelming sense of how it feels to be human when you are away from work.

Sunday we cruised on up to Old Orchard Beach Maine for Cori and Sarge's annual barbecue.

Beautiful day, easy ride. Lounging in Cori and John's back yard with our Maine friends.

Friends who were introduced to us through Cori and Sarge.

I have a theory that quality people attract quality people. This crew is proof positive.

Cori and Sarge knew a whole hell of a lot of people. We met a lot of them.

Not all of them are people I would want to spend a lot of time with.

Then again a lot of them are.

These people are our friends no different than any other friends we are close to. Except they are a hundred miles away.

Can't pop over for a drink, can't go out to dinner on the spur of the moment. But whenever we do get together there is warmth and conversation and trust and laughter.

Kind of like bullpen friends.The guys who come in out of nowhere and keep our world rolling.

That analogy did not go the way I wanted it to but I still like it.

Robin and another dude did the barbecuing so I was off the hook. No pressure. Just eating  and drinking and socializing.

Sarge and Kevin were not there. They will never be there again.

It was a huge void and one that hung there unavoidably. I doubt there was one person there who did not think about them.

It was a good and a laid back day.

We were the last to leave.

As we were preparing to motor on south Cori said she had stuff for us.

She gave me one of Sarge's racing jackets. A very nice jacket. Nicer still because it was Sarge's.

I checked it out, draped it over my arm and let the tears roll out from under my glasses.

Bigger still. Cori gave Carol an afghan. An afghan Carol had crocheted for Sarge shortly after he graduated high school.

Shortly after Sarge graduated high school he took off for Wilmington, Vermont to write yet another wild chapter in his life.

Pancho's Wreck. There was a restaurant in Wilmington called Pancho's Wreck. Somehow Sarge and a lot of his friends ended up there as cooks and, probably, all around roustabouts.

Initially Sarge was living in a room above the restaurant which was not heated well or maybe not heated at all.

Carol and Sarge have always been especially close. In one of their conversations he told her how cold his room was.

Carol crocheted this afghan for him.

That afghan stayed with him for all these years, from Wilmington, to New York and to Maine.

Now it has come full circle.

That was Carol's turn to cry.

We spent that day in the presence of friends and in the absence of Sarge and Kevin.

We came home with a jacket and an afghan. We came home with reminders and memories and feelings too deep to express adequately.

It was a glorious day in celebration of so many things meaningful.

I came home feeling a love for my wife that is impossible to put words to.

On one level I though how similar she and Sarge were. Always giving to others. Always considering exactly what they need and then delivering. Sometimes giving things to people they didn't even know they needed or wanted.

I considered how hard it must have been for her to receive that afghan and how good it must have made her feel to know that Sarge treasured it enough to keep it around for his entire adult life.

Sunday was a very good day.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Summer Moment

Driving home tonight from The Asylum.

86 degrees. Humid. All four windows down on The Big Ride. Radio on.

My kind of night. My night.

As I got close to home Layla came across the radio. The original version. Not the slow one, which I also love.

So I'm cruising faster than I should be cruising and my whole body smiles. My whole psyche, my whole being, my whole past and my whole future.

Layla is memories. It is association. It is good feelings and good music and good guitar and a long step back to a simpler time in my life.

It goes deeper than that for me. If you are an Allman Brothers fan you know that Duane Allman played on that track with Clapton.

You know that bird sound, that very cool bird sound at the end of the song? That was Duane.

And he contributed a whole lot more than that musically. Clapton and Duane dueled back and forth on that song, two guitar Gods duking it out with mutual respect.

Such a great story. At the time, Duane and Eric were circling each other like gunslingers. Each was in awe of the other. They had not played together before.

The Allman Brothers were in Miami where Clapton and crew were recording Layla. Duane asked if he could sit in.

Clapton knew who he was dealing with. They created history.

So I am driving home from HELL but digging on the weather, my weather and the way it makes my mind feel and Layla comes on.

The perfect moment.

A moment when I can lay my head back on the headrest and just smile.

My short hair blowing in the wind.

Tonight is summer.

A taste. A promise. A feel. An emotion.

The music.

I am still smiling.

Monday, May 25, 2015

1,000 and Counting

After reading peacefully this morning, I placed my bookmark at page 1,000 of "Atlas Shrugged", by Ayn Rand.

That's like reading three typical books.

And I still have 168 pages to go.

Thing is, this book is overwhelming in thought stimulation. It is a work of fiction Ayn Rand used to espouse her theory of how life should be lived.

Over and over again, I read long passages that are really Rand's philosophy in the words of characters, and I know as I am reading this that I need to pay attention, that I am being exposed to something radical and interesting and potentially life changing.

This is heavy duty stuff thinly disguised in a work of fiction excellently written.

You don't get that every day.

My commitment to this book has been unwavering. I have been plowing through it for some time now, interrupted by annoying distractions like work and sleep.

I love it. It stimulates me.

It has stimulated this nagging thought that if I change the way I look at myself and at life I can radically change my existence.

This plays right into my hands right now, considering where my head is at relative to the shock and pain I and my family have endured.

The types of things that make you want to change your life and make it your own and learn to enjoy and appreciate it.

Sounds simple, doesn't it?

Do You Think This is What Pink Floyd Meant?

"He thought of all the living species that train their young in the art of survival, the cats who teach their kittens to hunt, the birds who spend such strident effort on teaching their fledglings to fly - yet man, whose tool of survival is the mind, does not merely fail to teach a child to think, but devotes the child's education to the purpose of destroying his brain, of convincing him that thought is futile and evil, before he has started to think."

"Atlas Shrugged",   Ayn Rand

"We don't need no education, we don't need no thought control, no dark sarcasm in the classroom, teachers leave them kids alone."

"Another Brick in the Wall",   Pink Floyd

Goddamn, This Stuff Hurts

A passage from "Atlas Shrugged", by Ayn Rand, describing how the typical working stiff struggles through his life and how those in control manipulate him.

"And the earth is littered with mangled cripples, who don't know what has hit them or why, who crawl as bet they can on their crushed limbs through their lightless days, with no answer save that pain is the core of existence - and the traffic cops of morality chortle and tell them that man, by his nature, is unable to walk."

Working Us To Death

I think if weathermen were honest they would admit to being able to detect definite atmospheric changes on long, holiday weekends.

Maybe its in my mind.

We drove up to Maine yesterday. Carol drives, I look around.

People everywhere. Backyards, front yards, porches, on the road, off the road, talking, laughing, barbecuing, gathering.

Jeeps, motorcycles and 'vettes.

I feel a letting go, a peace, a release and a relief that is palpable.

People seem happy. They seem loose. They seem human.

I feel it in the air.

It is a sad commentary on our repressive society that a three day weekend is so coveted.

This is a list of the number of paid vacation days employees are required by the government to receive around the world: Australia 20, Austria 22, Belgium 20, Canada 10, Denmark 25, Finland 25, France 30, Germany 24, Greece 20, Ireland 20, Italy 20, Japan 10, Netherlands 20, New Zealand 20, Norway 25, Portugal 22, Spain 22, Sweden 25, UK 20, US......................0.

That's right - companies in the United States are not required to give their employees any vacation at all. And the way the working environment is going in this country I wouldn't be surprised to see that becoming a trend.

In fact it already is, as companies maneuver to employ as many part time employees as possible.


Part timers have no rights. They don't exist. They are human resources designed to be used up and cast aside.

Don't give me that "the United States is a world leader because of our work ethic" crap. We are now way down the list in many areas one would consider basic, like education, infant mortality, health, poverty, etc.

In fact the only thing we seem to excel at is exploiting the workers and the poor in this country. 

Another aspect of this that bothers me is that, although a three day weekend is a sweet and beautiful thing, I believe the number of people who actually get to enjoy one is shrinking rapidly and drastically.

I would love to see a comparison between now and twenty years ago summarizing the number of people who actually get three day weekends, and even more depressing than that, weekends at all, off.

I am positive the number has shrunk by a ridiculously large percentage.

Anyway........................I began composing these words with the intent of telling you about our day in Maine, the three day weekend Carol and I are enjoying, and the intense joy a lot of people experience at being away from work for three days.

I'll have to do that in another post. I'm too pissed off now to get back in line with happy human emotion.

Pronouncement #3

I am committing today to peace, introspection and forward movement.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Saturday, May 23, 2015

New Shoes

Had a tough week (from my perspective) so I am digging on this weekend.

I have to qualify tough because as I tell you about it it will become obvious that what I call tough is less than nothing compared to what other people are forced to endure.

However, I bare my soul in here regardless of the consequences, so here we go again.

I got slammed with rejection right off the bat this week regarding a job I applied for a week or so ago.

I thought I had this one in the bank because I interviewed for the same job last fall and was a semi-finalist. They picked some slug for the job (I met her because that job and my job intersect) and I could not believe they chose her over me.

Fast forward to now. The woman had been on the job seven months and either quit or got fired.

I re-applied with confidence.

Not even an interview.


I was suicidal the day I found out because I was at work, trapped like a rat, forced to go through the motions of my hideous job, knowing full well that hope had died.

Something broke in me, job search-wise. I will no longer apply for jobs I know I will hate.

Like accounting. Or any other goddamn job that is going to put a strangle hold on my soul.

If I am going to play this game it will now be on my terms. Period.

So there was that.

Then a 1:00 a.m. night on Tuesday and the same on Wednesday.

Pretty tired on Thursday, but I dragged myself to cribbage night in the woods. This is the third summer Carol and I have gathered with good friends to play cribbage and laugh.

It's a good night. Problem is I am not a natural card player, I don't have a card playing mind and I have not made any effort to improve my game.

I end up being the village idiot on cribbage night. The only one who cannot play the game intelligently, who doesn't understand the strategy, who can't keep track of the rules - who just doesn't get it.

This is all on me. I know I am smart enough to master the game. I have to put in the effort.

The gang we play with will sometimes bust my balls and I have zero problem with this. None.

They are a competitive bunch with a great sense of humor. And when I look at it from the right perspective, my sloppiness is pretty silly.

The problem is in my head. I hate looking like a fool so it tortures me to come across so stupidly.

Yeah, I hear you. You are telling me to do something about it.

Beginning today I am committing myself to learning this game. Gonna study it like a scholar and play it like an addict.

So there is that.

As far as Thursday went the only way for me to handle that kind of humiliation is to get drunk.

So I did.

And paid for it Friday at work, humping cases of booze around and wondering why Jesus invented alcohol.

The week spit me in to today.

When I got a new pair of shoes. Ordered from DSW, sitting in the mailbox when I went out to get Carol's paper this morning.

Nu Balance walking shoes.

Me being me, I feel like this is prophetic. Perfect timing.

Got a new attitude about job searching, a renewed commitment to learning and enjoying cribbage, and an overall inspiration to save my life.

New shoes, fresh start, new look, new perspective.

Already broke in the new shoes as I have become The Walking Dude, walking the hell out of the month of May.

As always, time will tell.




Carol and I gorged on Letterman last week.

Watched five shows on Wednesday, three on Thursday, two on Friday. All leading up to the final three.

Taped the final three for posterity. Watched the last two shows "live". Stayed up until 1:00.

We have two shows stored on DVR that we haven't watched yet, one of which was the Monday night show of his final week. Tom Hanks and Eddie Vedder.

So we still got Letterman in the tank. This is important.

You might ask "Why the hell put yourself through the lack of sleep torture of watching those last two shows as they were broadcast?"

Because it would not have been the same to watch them at 3 o' clock on a Saturday afternoon.

Especially the final show.

The last show technically featured no guests, except for the final Top Ten List. This was presented by Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, Jim Cary, Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Martin, Barbara Walters, Peyton Manning, Bill Murray, Chris Rock and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. That's a pretty decent line-up to have standing on one stage. 

The topic was: "Things I Have Always Wanted To Say To Dave".

The rest of the show was clips and reminiscences. And The Foo Fighters.

Dave spoke towards the end and he spent almost every word thanking everybody associated with the show, and being enormously self-deprecating.

One of the things I admire about the man is that, although he is fiercely intelligent and wickedly funny, he always poked fun at himself and the show.;

I read a lot of stuff about him leading up to the final show, most of it familiar. One point that was consistently articulated was his rebelliousness.

I never thought about it but as I read I realized that was another thing I loved about the man.

He had no fear. He busted his bosses balls all the time, including the giant corporations that own the network. He had an irreverence about him that was inspiring. And he could cut these people down with intelligence, a knowing attitude and razor blade wit.

Dave Letterman had a reputation for being cold and intimidating, which I found difficult to believe considering his personality on air. My gut told me the guy is probably pretty cool.

The love and respect felt for this guy was blatantly obvious in the words and gestures and expressions from his final guests on his final shows.

True emotions and love and respect were expressed over and over again by the biggest names in show business.

And Jack Hanna.

I was happy to hear and to read the testimony of so many comedians and others who thanked Dave for his help and encouragement and who looked up to him as an icon and an original.

He is credited with changing the face of comedy, especially as it relates to late night talk shows. His show was considered ground breaking in many ways.

Towards the end of the show Dave introduced his wife Regina and his 11 year old son Harry.

You want to see just how cold and intimidating Letterman is? If you can find it and freeze it, look at the smile on his face as the camera pans back to him after introducing his family.

That smile will stick with me forever. So proud, so loving and so genuine.

A tradition for Carol and me comes to an end. Carol would scan the TV listings to see who Dave's guests were that night and who the musical group was.

We DVR'ed the ones that interested us.

And watched them at our leisure.

It was always a treat. Letterman made us laugh. No matter what bullshit we endured that day, we sat back as if we were in the living room of an old friend, which is how Dave made us feel, and laughed.

And dug the music. The caliber of musicians he featured was superb, starting with Paul Shaffer and the NBC orchestra.

We will have to find another outlet now, another escape, some other show we can rely on for warmth and humor and intelligence.

I don't even know where to begin.

That illustrates the size of the hole David Letterman and Paul Shaffer leave behind.

I am thankful for all the fun and laughter and entertainment over the years.

Time, reluctantly, to turn the page.


I am committing today to purity and moving forward.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Madness (Life Defined)

"Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled - whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence - whether much that is glorious - whether all that is profound - does not spring from disease of thought - from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect."

Edgar Allan Poe

Darken Up

"Evil is a consequence of good, so in fact, out of joy is sorrow born."

Edgar Allan Poe

Watch Out

"The greatest hazard of all, losing one's self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss - an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. - is sure to be noticed."

Soren Kierkegaard

The Perfect Quote

Matt Light, former New England Patriots tackle, when asked what he would say to those who believe Tom Brady is a cheater: "Well, you can say whatever you want in this world until you get punched in the mouth. Things change at that point, right?"

Monday, May 18, 2015

Just A Thought

I am not completely insane but my brain is not exactly normal.

B.B. King (This one hurts)

B.B. King died on May 14, 2015.

He was 89.

That is a good long run for any life and even more so for him, considering the challenges he overcame.

Still, I am having trouble dealing with it. Saw it coming for a few years now, no surprise really, but the man was a legend. He transcended life and reality as only a select few do.

He should have lived forever.

Carol and I saw him three or four times. Saw him when he was strong, saw him when he sat all night and played and sang.

Didn't matter. That voice was strong. Gave me chills when he would turn up the volume; that voice was powerful and distinctive.

And his unique guitar playing tasted so good. With some musicians, all you have to do is hear their sound and you immediately know who it is. He was one of them.

B.B. picked individual notes. He did not fly all over the fretboard, he did not play at 200 m.p.h. He did it his way and it had a  strength to it. It did not sound thin.

I am obsessed with the blues. It is my favorite - by far - genre of music. It speaks to me directly, it stimulates my emotions, it feeds my soul, it is just a part of me.

When I listen to the blues it is as if the artist is keying in on a specific aspect of my personality or emotional make up and expressing and interpreting that through their own eyes, heart, lyrics and music.

B.B. was the ultimate ambassador of the blues.

He was born in Mississippi in a hamlet called Berclair, just outside the small town of Itta Bena. By the age of fourteen he was on his own. His mother had died, his father had taken off.

He was sharecroppping an acre of cotton, and thanks to the generous way white folks reimbursed black people in that situation he was forever in debt.

He eventually broke free and landed a job as a DJ, playing the blues on a Memphis radio station and, as a self taught guitar player, playing gigs wherever he could get them.

This is part of what fascinates me about the original blues dudes. The odds they had to overcome to make it.  The racism, and hatred and injustice they had to deal with, and the guts and self-confidence it took to make a living on the road in that environment.

B.B. said he made a conscious effort to avoid feeling bitter about his past. According to Charles Sawyer, who wrote the book "The Arrival of B.B. King": "and he was very conscious about how he presented himself to the world, and he didn't want to present himself as an angry man."

That is a strong, mature and deeply philosophical approach coming from a man who had the childhood and early manhood that B.B. had.

OK, enough of history and dry fact summation.

One of my favorite lyrics comes from a song B.B. performed. It was written by William Russo but B.B. sang it like he wrote it.

Talking about the evil way his woman treats him: "I gave you a brand new Ford but you said "I want a Cadillac,' I bought you a ten dollar dinner and you said 'Thanks for the snack,' I let you live in my penthouse, you said 'It was just a shack,' I gave you seven children and now you wanna give 'em back."

And when he sings "and now you wanna give 'em back" he raises his voice to that powerful B.B. place and fills it with anger and indignation.


B.B. King was a beautiful, talented, driven man who worked hard to get his music to the people, playing 100 nights a year well into his eighties, and a lot more than that when he was younger.

For which I am grateful because Carol and I got to see some of those shows.

When we did we knew we were seeing a kind, generous, loving and loved man on that stage. A man who had a unique approach to the blues shaped by his life and his philosophy.

It was always about more than the music at those concerts. You just wanted to meet the man after the show, sit down and talk to him, listen to and learn from him and just connect as a human being.

Because just as his music did, you knew intuitively that a conversation with B.B. King would make you feel better.

His death leaves an enormous hole in the beauty of this world, a gap that can never be filled.

If some good blues songs are born in tribute to B.B. King, it would be the ultimate expression of the impact this one man had on millions of lives.

How Do We Break This Cycle?

"She had lost the habit of observing despair as the normal and dominant aspect of human existence, so normal as to become unnoticed -  and the sight of it struck her in all of its senseless futility. She was seeing the brand of pain and fear on the faces of people, and the look of evasion that refuses to know it - they seemed to be going through the motions of some enormous pretense, acting out a ritual to ward off reality, letting the earth remain unseen and their lives unlived, in dread of something namelessly forbidden - yet the forbidden was the simple act of looking at the nature of their pain and questioning their duty to bear it. She was seeing it so clearly that she kept wanting to approach strangers, to shake them, to laugh in their faces and to cry 'Snap out of it.'

"Atlas Shrugged"   Ayn Rand

An Involuntary Reaction Made Permanent

I am still shaking my head.

Not with any conscious effort. It happens suddenly, a quick awkward move, almost like ducking a punch.

Maybe I am trying to duck reality.

Every time I think about Sarge, Jonathan and Kevin.

It started on December 16, 2014. Got reinforced on December 17, 2014 and  was made permanent on March 14, 2015.

I recoil in disbelief and sadness.

At first I thought it would go away.

It has not yet. And the emotional violence of my reaction suggests to me that it may never go away.

The thoughts sometimes come out of nowhere, sometimes something sparks them.

I was driving home from The Asylum the other day and saw a guy walking down the side of the road who reminded me of Kevin. Same approximate body build, maybe he moved like Kevin. I don't know what it was specifically.

Instant tears.

Over the last two years we have spent one day of the Memorial Day weekend at Sarge and Cori's for their annual barbecue.

Sarge supervised as Kevin and I cooked.

Gonna be a lot different this year.

If I do end up at the grill there will be a moment when my tears will flow.

It will happen when nobody is near me, when people have walked away to socialize and smile.

A brief moment with a beer in my hand and Sarge and Kevin in my heart.

The tears will come even if I do not tend to the grill. At some point, unbidden as emotions are overwhelmed.

However, socializing and smiling is what Sarge and Cori are all about.

And that is what I am going to do.

We have Cori and John anchoring the party and a lot of great Maine people who are close in our hearts. People who became our friends at The Grille, through Cori and Sarge.

I always say that good people attract good people.

The proof is in these people we call friends.

There will probably be an involuntary reaction or two on my part but socializing and smiling will rule the day.

That's just the way it's gotta be.

Carol and I are looking forward to a great day filled with laughter, conversation, memories recalled and memories being made.

No Life Back Guarantee

"Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds."

"Redemption Song"   Bob Marley

The man was right. So many have said it in so many ways and they are all right.

They all recognize the irony of the situation; few have the strength to do anything about it.

"So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains and we never even know we have the key."

"Already Gone"   The Eagles

The mind, the mind, the mind.

Gotta blast through the granite wall of illusion and self-defense we create to get to our own individual truth.

LSD might help.

Or meditation.

Self analysis.


Spiritual studies.

An open mind.

Allow that wall to remain erect straight through to your death and your life will have been lived in vain.


No greater sin.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Yesterday (Thankfully)

Had one of "those" days yesterday.

Mother's Day.

A supremely laid back, enjoyable celebration with those who are closest to our hearts.

Keith, Emily, Craig, Karen.

Impossible to express accurately just how good it makes Carol and I feel to bask in the company of this crew; laughing, talking, giving love and getting love.

Nothing better.

Unfortunately it was another day touched by death.

Keith and Emily came to our home after spending time at the funeral service of a friend.

A 35 year old friend who was cut down by cancer.

A guy who left behind a young wife and two year old daughter.

Got me thinking about that aspect of Mother's Day.

In my family, Lydia lost Maria. Mary Ann lost Kathy. Paula lost Gary. Kathy lost Jonathan. Cathy lost Kevin.

Also Skip lost Sarge. Dolly is no longer around. I mention Skip to further illustrate the magnitude of the pain this family has endured.

I hope I have not overlooked anybody. I get emotional when I write this stuff. I hope there is nobody left to overlook.

I am talking about one family, immediate and extended. One family that has experienced the death of six offspring.

Life is a nasty thing to negotiate precisely because there are no guarantees.

There is no natural order. You cannot count on anything, you cannot take anything for granted. With kids, with parents, with siblings, with family.

Motherhood is truly a sacred thing.

I joke that fathers do not get the same intensity of attention on Father's Day. They get a tie. Or Faberge.

Fatherhood is a different animal.

A dad can be a clown, a protector, a provider, a friend, an inspiration, a teacher and many other things.

Giving birth to a child has to be the single most meaningful thing a human being can do.

Mother's deserve to be deeply appreciated on Mother's Day and every day.

Carol and I don't take days like yesterday lightly.

People often tell us that we are lucky to have the sons that we have. To enjoy the relationships that we have.

We get a little defensive and tell them that the way we raised Keith and Craig has something to do with the way things are today.

They are their own men with their own lives and their own points of view. But Carol and I definitely contributed to their development.

Yesterday was magnificent.

Warm, easy, soul nourishing.

The only luck came in the form of the successful meal I created.

Other than that it was all about love and truth and caring and closeness and trust.


I Am In Love With May

On May 1 I started walking.

I walked on 05/01, 05/02, 05/03, 05/04, 05/06, 05/08, 05/10, 05/11.

Pretty good, huh?

On three of those days I got up at 6:00 and was out the door at 6:30, when I could have stayed in bed longer.

Pat me on the back.

It is no coincidence that the drive and ambition coincided exactly with the dawn of good weather.

Real weather. Beautiful weather.

The kind of weather human beings are meant to thrive in.

I am a plant. When good weather comes around I come alive from the inside out.

It happens naturally. I feel it from my soul to my heart to my mind.

I literally feel different. Physically and mentally.

Probably true of you as well, no?

I felt dead right through the end of April.

Winter began on October 1 and ended on April 30.

Hideous. (And I am cutting winter some slack. I truly believe it begins on September 1.)

I only walk two miles.

In my defense, a portion of the route is a hill. It gets me out of breath and works my legs.

Still, I am not running a marathon. I am not Crossfit training.

Yesterday and today I felt different. More powerful.

Results, I believe.

Felt less physically stressed, more spiritually satisfied.

Noticeably so.

I have made the connection between positive activity and feeling good about myself.

The days I get up early to walk satisfy me the most. Because it takes extra effort.

I am proud of the commitment.

Same deal when I write something good or make a serious attempt to apply for a job or take the time to learn something or...........................

I have figured out that I can make myself feel good intellectually and emotionally through the sheer application of effort.


Words Are easy

"No one's happiness but my own is in my power to achieve or to destroy."

"Atlas Shrugged" Ayn Rand.

Simple words, exact in meaning and truth. But we get distracted, don't we?

Getting happy should be simple, given clarity of vision and honest self-awareness.

We make reality maddeningly elusive.

And really, our own happiness is what we should focus on.

If the vibe is true, then our happiness should increase the happiness of those we love.

Still, we get distracted.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Aspiring to Phoenix

The sunshine is brilliant and I am not.

Heat comes at me in waves and my soul welcomes the sensation like a dying man lunging towards a lifeline.

Heart, brain and spirit rise from the ashes of the cold, dead winter and move directly towards the light.

Joyous. Released. Unbelieving but grateful.

As I try to sync my life, ambition, attitude and approach to this severely limited opportunity of easy time, I stumble and rise, stagger and resurrect, fight from within, fight what is within, and try to re-invent myself.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Hard To Believe

Jesus expects me to wash the dishes.

Still, I Wish

Pets are an easy substitute for kids.

I got home early today, around 3:45, grabbed myself a beer and set down on the porch to dig.

The warmth, the weather, the peace, the beauty.

My soul is soaring right now.

The cats had been trapped in the house like felons for eight hours, so they gratefully followed me out to the great, blue beyond.

I sipped and watched.

Watched them wander around for a while, checking every damn thing out.

Watched each of them settle in to a spot of their own choosing, watched them bathe, meticulously as they do, watched them curl up and settle down in pre-summer contentment.

It made me feel good to do that for them.

To set them free from the house and out onto the porch where they could experience nature and sweet comfort as they so love to do.

Got to thinking about all the things I wish I could have done for my sons but could never afford, time-wise or money-wise, to do.

Grand plans, grim reality.

There was so much I wanted for Keith and Craig. I had a picture in my mind of what their lives should be. What I wanted to give them and do for them.

Now in my mind those pictures look more like a daguerreotype of a dream.

There are still things I want to do for them, things I want to give to them - that I still cannot do.

It is not an easy thing to give your kids your love as it exists in your mind.

Pets are easier.

Let them out on the porch, kiss them on the head, watch them express themselves naturally and effortlessly, and dig the calming effect on your heart beat.

Still, I wish.............................................................................

There Is No Weird

We all have our own unique lifestyles.

Our own personal way to deal with life.

I worked for a book distributor from 1999 to 2005. For a year or so, worked in the warehouse with a woman named Judy.

Judy was your stereotypical, crotchety, NH woman, set in her ways, grotesquely opinionated and unafraid to tell you just what she thought.

We reported for work in the warehouse at 7:00 a.m.

Judy got up at 4:00 a.m. - every day - so she could do her laundry, clean the house, dust the windowsills, wax her apples - perform whatever every day tasks were required - before she went to work.

That way she had half the afternoon and all night after escaping work, to just relax and/or do whatever the hell she wanted to do.

I thought that was exceptionally strange. I never told her that because she would have told me to drop dead.

She did not think her schedule was strange.

I worked for an insurance company for a while in Concord NH. Worked with a young accountant who was married with two kids.

This guy and his wife did not food shop. They went out to eat every night at McDonald's, Burger King etc.

He theorized that it was cheaper to do that than it was to buy food.

And they didn't have to set foot in a grocery store.

I am sure there were certain staples they had to buy, but by and large, they did not participate in the mad scramble to fill the larder.

I thought that was exceptionally strange. I never told him because I allowed for the possibility that he was on to something.

Of course he and his wife probably both died prematurely of heart attacks and I'm sure his kids each weight 777 pounds.

The thing is, each of these individuals had extreme approaches to life that worked for them.

How weird are we all?

What is weird?

I roll out of bed in the morning and immediately snort a line of premium cocaine.

Then I spread an inch thick layer of nutella on my face so I can casually lick it off during the day.

Especially during times of stress.

I walk rapidly into the bathroom and perform a wild, undulating dance in front of the full length mirror that attracts good fortune into my day. I wear a dashiki and a fedora.

I brush my teeth with deodorant and spread toothpaste under my arms.

I rush downstairs in a race against Maka (she always wins), where I gobble a baby aspirin, cholesterol medication, blood pressure medication, two shots of premium whiskey and a three pound turkey leg.

I  go to work and punch my boss in the face.

This is a ritual that works for me.

Who's to say I'm wrong?

Everybody needs a ritual they can use to fight back against life.

There is no weird.

The Most Ominous Sign

The most ominous sign to my generation that life would change dramatically and leave us behind was the advent of flavored Cheez-its and flavored Fig Newtons.

A Small Death

Carol has personalized her garden beautifully.

Not the least of which is the red VW bug Sarge gave her to rust in peace.

She has a wooden mini-sign stuck in the ground that says"I tried but it died."

I always thought, with some modification, it would be the perfect obituary for most of us.

"I tried but I died."

Monday, May 4, 2015

Are You Serious?

What the hell just happened?

Is it really Monday morning?

Jesus Christ.

(Editor's note: Could have slept until 7:00. Got up at 6:00 instead. Took a walk. I want credit for that.)

Sunday, May 3, 2015


Listening to the Sox on the way home Friday night when Alex Rodriguez hit his 660th home run.

Fourth on the all time list. Tied with Willie Mays.

I was disappointed to hear excitement in the Sox announcer's voice as he called the shot.

It was not Joe Castglione.

660 for Rodriguez is not an achievement because he cheated to hit a lot of those. He did not achieve the milestone entirely on ability and effort.

Drugs played a big part. He has admitted to using performance enhancing drugs. He was banned from the league for an entire year.

We should celebrate this man?

If I were calling the game I would have been flat toned and matter of fact. If I could get away with it I would not even mention that he tied Mays.

Because he didn't.

His contract with the yankees calls for a $6 million bonus for reaching this milestone.

Rumor has it that the team does not want to pay it.

I hope they have the guts to hold on to their precious money.

I hope there is absolutely no hoopla connected with that hit.

I hope there is a vicious backlash against this stooge and that it forces him to walk around with a paper bag on his head.

Pete Rose has been so severely punished for his gambling exploits that he is not even allowed into a professional baseball stadium.

Do you get that? The man cannot even walk into a professional park. Since 1989.

That's 26 years.

He is also not eligible to be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame, even though his stats demand it.

Every home run Rodriguez hit over the period he admits to doping should be deducted from his career total.

That would remove the slug from any home run king discussion.

Pete Rose is getting a raw deal.

Rodriguez is getting a walk in the park.

The Promise of A Day, Fulfilled

This could quite possibly be the most spectacular weekend in the entire recorded history of the world.

Everything is relative, baby. This past winter SUCKED. It hurt, it tortured, it mocked and taunted, it spit in our faces and made life almost.........unlivable.

It was one unbearable long, ass freezing hell.

Friday, Saturday and today...........................Supreme.

I responded by walking. Walked all three days. It feels exactly like I have been dead since October and now I am alive.

Oh my God I am responding as a parched plant to water, as a starving man to a steak, as a corpse to resurrection.

I walked out to fetch Carol's paper yesterday morning and I exulted. The birds were hammering me with their delicacy and their song, the buds were fit to burst, the sky was gorgeous blue, no clouds anywhere.

I was overwhelmed. Kept inhaling, looking, sniffing in the scent of pine. I looked like someone out of the Sound of Music at one point - I was turning in circles in my driveway looking at the tops of the trees, at the sky, searching for the birds who were serenading me.

I laughed out loud.

Later that day...............................................we reconnected with two deep, loving friends.

Ed and Joanne.

Haven't seen them in three years.

Finally got up off our asses and invited them over for barbecue, The Derby and friendship renewed.

We picked up right where we left off with easy flowing conversation and laughter. That is the absolute incontrovertible proof of true friendship.

What a magnificent visit. When you spend time with people in that way it is medicine for the soul. No bullshit, no agendas, no phoniness, no distractions.

Just purity.

Ed and I both tended bar at the legion. We were insane individually and even more so together.

We always volunteered to tend bar on membership renewal day. Because we volunteered and because of the twisted logic of the legion (not that we minded) we were allowed to drink as we worked.

In the booze closet in the room behind the bar we set up a bottle of Gentlemen Jack and a bottle of Crown Royal along with two shot glasses.

We got hammered over the course of the day. And sang behind the bar and danced behind the bar and joked behind the bar and laughed behind the bar.

The day became legendary. It was dubbed The Ed and Joe Show. We had T-shirts made and wore them behind the bar.

Have a lot of other great memories from the legion with Ed.

But it is the friendship that means something. Ed and Joanne are genuine people. Real.

Carol and I are comfortable around them and they with us. There is trust there. There is love. There is depth.

I started the day with beauty lifting my spirits, spent the next chunk of it with my cherished wife and the rest of it with Carol, Ed and Joanne.

It was a magnificent day from top to bottom from start to finish.

It was a day to be glad to be alive, to be glad to have a wife to enjoy it with, to be glad for friendship.

We were alive yesterday, baby and no negativity could have penetrated the feeling in any way, shape, form or manner.

Saturday, May 2, 2015


I sleep better after I wake up than I do during the night.

The Kentucky Derby

I am going to provide insight to today's race.

I qualify my opinions in advance by telling you I know nothing about horse racing.

Don't follow it at all.

The only races I watch are the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. And if the same horse does not win the first two, I gotta admit, my interest wanes.

Still I advise you to take my advice and bet everything you own and everything you are on the horse that I pick.

Here's the lineup:

Post 1 - Ocho Ocho Ocho. This is a terrible name. It is boring. Do not pick this horse.

Post 2 - Carpe Diem. The name connects beautifully with the opportunity, but it is a cliche. Do not pick this horse.

Post 3 - Materiality. The name is a blatant homage to greed and corruption. Do not pick this horse.

Post 4 - Tencendur. The name reminds me of Santender. The bank. What a terrible association. Do not pick this horse.

Post 5 - Danzig Moon. This is your winner. Ethereal, hypnotic name. Ignore the 50 to 1 odds. Pick this horse - bet on this horse - to win.

Post 6 - Mubtaahij. Unpronounceable name. Do not pick this horse.

Post 7 - El Kabeir. I was tempted to pick this horse because the name reminds me of El Kabong. El Kabong was a cartoon figure, in mask and cape, who smashed people over the head with his guitar.
Ultimately I decided the name is derivative. Do not pick this horse. (Just found out this guy is scratched from the race. If I find out you bet this pick you will be severely disciplined)

Post 8 - Dortmund. Sounds dork-like. Do not pick this horse.

Post 9 - Bolo. For some reason the name reminded me of the movie Bolero, starring Bo Derek. Reason enough to do anything. Still, unchecked libido and horse racing seems like a dangerous mix.
Do not pick this horse.

Post 10 - Firing Line. William F. Buckley Jr. Forget about it. Do not pick this horse.

Post 11 - Stanford. No thought at all went into this name. Do not pick this horse.

Post 12 - International Star. Too much ego. Do not pick this horse. (Just found out this guy is scratched from the race. If I find out you bet this pick you will be severely disciplined)

Post 13 - Itsaknockout. Crash commercialism, disgusting hype. Do not pick this horse.

Post 14 - Keen Ice. Tempting. Interesting name suggesting strange associations. Ultimately not interesting enough. Do not pick this horse.

Post 15 - Frosted. Do they mean Frosted Flakes or intense anger? Not clear enough. Do not pick this horse.

Post 16 - War Story. Dark implications twisted around a murky view of patriotism. Do not pick this horse.

Post 17 - Mr. Z. Has a spy-like connotation, or maybe a hired killer type of vibe. Not appropriate for children. Do not pick this horse.

Post 18 - American Pharoah. Confusing imagery. No allegiance to any one country. Do not pick this horse.

Post 19 - Upstart. Sounds like a rebel but it could be a manufactured nickname, like in NASCAR when they call Kyle Bush "Wild Thing." Are you serious? Do not bet on this horse.

Post 20 - Far Right. Too goddamn conservative. Do not pick this horse.

OK. I have laid out your future for you. I have handed you an affluent "rest of your life" on a plate.

Bet your house, your savings account, your wife's car and her mink stole, your soul and your first born child on Danzig Moon.

Do you have any idea what the payout will be when your horse comes in at 50 to 1?

You will be lighting Cuban cigars with thousand dollar bills and stuffing your pillows with hundreds.

Somewhere around 6:26 tonight your life will become the dream you have always imagined.

You have me to thank for that.

We'll talk.

The Rest of My Life

The PATS have made it through three rounds of the 2015 draft and my phone has not rung.

So far they have chosen Malcolm Brown, Jordan Richards, and Geneo Grissom.

Brown is a 6'2", 320 pound defensive lineman.

Richards is a 5'11", 215 pound safety.

Grissom is a 6'3", 260 pound defensive end.

I am a 5'7", 170 pound (should be 160 pound but it worked for Wilfork) Assistant Manager of a NH State liquor store.

I have checked our telephone lines and the phones themselves; there is nothing wrong with them.

It's not like this is too big a deal for me. I realize at the age of 61 my prospects are a little - only a little - slimmer than Brown's, Richards' and Grissom's.

Still, I was counting on this opportunity to save my life. To salvage my soul, to provide for me the self esteem I require to soothe and repair my damaged psyche, to give me the emotional tools I need to interact in stability with my family, to inspire me to conceive, believe and achieve, to resurrect my existence from the ashes of despair and unfulfilled potential, and catapult it to the rarefied heights of success, acclaim and financial reward.

That's all.

Still, Rounds 3 through 7 are ahead of me and the PATS.

Belichick is a fashion challenged genius; Kraft is a compassionate motivator of men. They both possess the intelligence, insight and instinct to recognize unlimited potential when they see it.

They have a plan. They always have a plan.

I entrust my future, the rest of my life, to that plan.

Friday, May 1, 2015

How I Feel At Work

"I wanted you to know it now, when it must seem to you that you're abandoned at the bottom of a pit among subhuman creatures who are all that's left of mankind."

"Atlas Shrugged"  Ayn Rand

Hopefully Not True

"Such was the code that the world had accepted and such was the key to the code: that it hooked man's love of existence to a circuit of torture, so that only the man who had nothing to offer would have nothing to fear, so that the virtues which made life possible and the values which gave it meaning became the agent of its destruction, so that one's best became the tool of one's agony, and man's life on earth became impractical."

"Atlas Shrugged"  Ayn Rand

A Fascinating Game

Break out the champagne, kiddies - it is May 1.

Dawn of a new month. New hope, new prospects, another fresh beginning.

May is the first hopeful month of the year.

April is a charlatan. A quack. April is an extension of winter.

May brings with it a feel. The feel of warmth. Sunshine. Soil encrusted fingernails burrowing in the garden. Barbecue grills curling lazy smoke skyward in easy peace.

Winter barbecuing is a desperate act.

You walk around in April with your head down because it blind sides you at every turn. Gives you a little hope then smashes it to the ground.

May is gentler. It eases you into life as it was meant to be lived.

Staggering around drunk firing your Glock into the neighbors yard.

Just kidding. Checking to see if you are actually paying attention.

How does this hope thing actually work?

I was given another dose of hope yesterday. Another chance at something I came very close to obtaining back in the fall of 2014.

It has come back around and I don't know what to think.

How long do you cling to hope? How long before your brain says "Hey, Jacko - give it up. You are torturing yourself with this hope thing. It ain't gonna save you. You are a weasel digging in the dirt and that is all you will ever be."

How does hope work? Do you just add water?

Hope resurfaces on April 30 and takes root on May 1.

The significance is not lost on me.

There is no more hopeful month than May.

I'll run with it.

Why not?

Life is a fascinating game to play.