Thursday, September 21, 2017

How Life Works (It Shouldn't Be This Way)

Got some thoughts crawling around in my skull.

Emotions and thoughts. A combo deal. Two for $9.99

Life is a bizarre and unforgiving little animal.

You get yourself married up and that is a pretty cool deal. Bump into this person you pledge to spend the rest of your life with. A term, by the way, that is a lot deeper and has a lot more meaning when you are 63 than when you are 24.

The marriage thing is fun, though - a new life. First apartment, and you got yourself a motorcycle, the wife drives a gorgeous and wicked Trans Am.

Then there is the first house and then...........................first kid.

Holy shit - a kid. What a change. What euphoria.

Things are moving forward. Your life is ever changing.

Second kid. The connections grow solid and emotions run deep. Emotions you never had before but feel exactly right.

Second house. 100 miles north in a pristine and bucolic setting.

You know you are doing the right things. You feel good.

The kids keep you occupied and entertained for 20 years or so and you are appreciative of the intense love they inspire in you.

They move out.

Now it is the two of you. And the cats.

Life settles into a dull hum. You don't have enough money to make your life interesting; can't travel, can't buy expensive toys - you become complacent.

You get bored; you wonder what the hell the point of this is.

Then the docs find a tumor in your wife's head. And, just for good measure and within a week - she is diagnosed with breast cancer.

You are in the hospital. They are prepping your wife for a mastectomy. They have to insert dye into her breast so they can check her lymph nodes during surgery. They warn her it will hurt.

She moans loudly during the first injection as she squeezes your hand. They have to do it two more times.

The second time she screams. She fucking screams in pain and all you can do is hold her hand. She screams so loudly the attendant who monitored her during the fucking four hour wait for surgery rushes into the room to try and comfort her.

You do not even remember how she reacted to the third shot.

5 and 1/2 hours later the surgery is done. Everything went well.

4 hours after that you are heading home. After seeing your wife in recovery, after seeing her transported into her room, after dialing up The Sox on TV and watching it with her as she fades in and out.

You go home. Alone. The cats say hi. You sit down with some food and a beer.

You realize that the love for your wife, the love that lay dormant for so long, or at least it felt that way, has come raging back.

With a vengeance.

Suddenly you understand what this whole marriage thing is about. The weight of it. The value of it.

The amazing fact of sharing a life together for 39 years.

And counting.

Now you wait. Wait for her to fully heal so they can then remove the tumor from her head.

Your guts are twisted into a vicious little knot; your heart aches.

And none of that means anything.

Because she is the one who is truly suffering. The one who has had her life turned upside down, the one forced to let go of her dignity as she is poked and prodded. She is the one forced to confront things no human being should ever have to confront.

The physical nature of it all. And the thoughts.

She is a warrior. That is to her benefit. She is a fighter and a positive thinker.

You have to keep moving forward. Together. To get through this thing and come out the other side.

Changed. With a completely different perspective.

Just like that.

Uncharacteristically, you suspect you will have the strength to help her through this.

And the love.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Something To Think About

In Italian:

un uomo con un sacco di chiavi ha molto da nascondere
Translated: A man who has a lot of keys has a lot to hide.

Roll The Dice


Roll The Dice
if you’re going to try, go all the
way.
otherwise, don’t even start.

if you’re going to try, go all the
way.
this could mean losing girlfriends,
wives, relatives, jobs and
maybe your mind.

go all the way.
it could mean not eating for 3 or 4 days.
it could mean freezing on a
park bench.
it could mean jail,
it could mean derision,
mockery,
isolation.
isolation is the gift,
all the others are a test of your
endurance, of
how much you really want to
do it.
and you’ll do it
despite rejection and the worst odds
and it will be better than
anything else
you can imagine.

if you’re going to try,
go all the way.
there is no other feeling like
that.
you will be alone with the gods
and the nights will flame with
fire.

do it, do it, do it.
do it.

all the way
all the way.

you will ride life straight to
perfect laughter, its
the only good fight
there is.

Charles Bukowski

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Why I Sing The Blues

"Why I Sing The Blues". Written by B.B. King and he sings the shit out of it.

It comes directly from his soul, baby.

"I've laid in a ghetto flat, cold and numb, I heard the rats tell the bedbugs to give the roaches some"

That's hard, man. That is really hard.

"Now Father Time is catching up with me, gone is my youth, I look in the mirror every day, and let it tell me the truth"

Carol and I are proactive about that shit. We covered every mirror in the house in black crepe.

Why I Love The Blues

The lyrics, baby.

Came across a song titled "Your Funeral, My Trial".

Written by Nick Cave of Nick Cave and The Bad Seed.

Is that not the greatest lyric in the entire history of recorded music?

Yes it is - don't you dare go up against me on this. If you do I will have to believe you are still pining away for the return of Donny Osmond.

Obviously the song is about how his woman done him wrong. Here's a taste:

"here I am, little lamb, let all the bells in whoredom ring, all the crooked bitches that she was, mongers of pain saw the moon become a fang, your funeral, my trial, your funeral, my trial, your funeral, my trial."

I live for this shit.

(Editor's Note: I have a CD by Nick Cave and The Bad Seed called "Murder Ballads". Every song on it deals with death.)

This CD should be a part of every record collection in America.

Period.

Small Enough To Fit

Rockin' my way into Concord this morning digging on the blues when the following lyrics slapped my face:

"I'm sorry that I looked your way, didn't know what I was getting in to,
and everything I had to lose, to get small enough to fit in your life."

From "Mama Can't Help You" by Doyle Bramhall II.

It's those last two sentiments that really rocked me.

"and everything I had to lose to get small enough to fit in your life"

So sad to realize how very many relationships those words describe.

321 Below

Follow up with the cancer doc this morning.

He noticed something on my face. A pre-cancer type thang. Would evolve into a squamous cell sort of situation like I had on my nose.

So he froze it off.

Apparently that is the hip treatment these days for pre-cancer type of stuff. It will eventually scab up, scab over and fall off my face.

And I will be cured.

He sprayed my face with liquid nitrogen. 321 degrees below zero.

Stung for about 15 minutes. Not a big deal really.

And what the hell.

I am always up for a new experience.

(Editor's Note: Wish I could get my hands on some of this stuff. I would spray a double shot into each of trump's fucking eyes.)

Monday, August 28, 2017

Now More Than Ever

"Don't pussy out on me now. They don't know. They don't know shit. You're not gonna get hurt. You're fucking Baretta. They believe every fucking word 'cause you're super cool."

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

One of The Things I Love About Myself

I was watching Hard Knocks a little while ago.

Really digging it this year. I mean gobbling it up like a gourmet meal.

It has been part of my ritual for getting hyped for the football season over the past few years, but for some reason this year I am really digging it.

Football is such a brutal sport and not just physically. This year features the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are the object of a lot of "these guys are really gonna be good " hype.

Man, it is so brutal to see guys get beat out for their position. To see them get called into the coaches office and get cut.

It is so brutal to see a guy get injured and destroy his chance at making the team.

But it is cool to see these guys' lives up close and personal. The stress, the camaraderie, the wacky sense of humor, the shared respect for and love for and understanding of the sport.

I am really into it.

So episode #3 ends and I gotta wait another week for Episode #4.

So I switched back to a rock documentary I started watching yesterday.

On Lemmy. Lemmy Kilmister. Legendary bass player and singer for Motorhead.

This man was perpetually insane. A true rock and roll icon. Crazy man. Well known for his love of Jack and Coke, speed, gambling and strippers.

AND he lived to be 70 years old, living that lifestyle right up until the bitter end.

Check him out online. You will be amazed.

Anyway, what I love about myself is the wide spectrum of interests I enjoy.

Believe me, switching from the NFL pre-season to Lemmy in the space of about 20 seconds is traveling from one end of the spectrum to the other.

Most people would be driven into a seizure. Grand Mal.

Felt natural to me.

Random Thoughts On 8/23/2017

Random Thought #1:

Rolled out of bed around 7:45 this morning; had the day off.

Stumbled downstairs around 8:15, rinsed out and refilled the cats' water bowl, gave them some snacks, took some goddamn medications, did some chiropractor approved stretching, ate some yogurt (shared it with Maka - a daily ritual), pumped up a cup of coffee, set it down on the end table next to the recliner and then...........................threw the French doors wide open.

It was kind of cool, but not bad.

But the cats disagreed. Lakota went upstairs and curled up in the office chair in the "computer room". Maka curled up on the couch.

A big fuck you to this cold summer weather we have been enduring.

And that is my point.

This summer has been cold. Not cool. Fucking cold.

It is not natural.

I have made my peace with it however. I have been telling myself that September will be hot but I no longer believe that.

I don't give a shit any more. It is ridiculous to put all my eggs into one basket weather-wise. Living for July and August.

I am too old to be so specific. Gotta take life as it comes, baby.

Random Thought #2:

I was tooling around the world wide web doing Bukowski research this morning. Found the poem I was looking for. As I was preparing to commit his words to my blog I suddenly heard this disembodied voice reciting the poem.

I looked up from the keyboard and realized there was a window opened up above the words of the poem and something was playing.

His words were being recited by a computer. With all the wrong inflections and no feeling at all.

Are you fucking kidding me? Whose brilliant idea was this?

Bukowski is all about passion and violence and raw fucking truth. His words were meant to slap you in the face.

I almost threw the empty Jack Daniels bottle that sits on my desk through the screen.

But I could not. My fucking laptop died. I am stuck with this computer.

For now.

The Laughing Heart

The Laughing Heart

your life is your life
don't let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can't beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

Charles Bukowski


Monday, August 21, 2017

If

If, on a beautiful late August Sunday night, you are digging Emmylou Harris and The Nash Ramblers at The Ryman, on NH public TV, and your sweetheart of a cat is in your lap and your sweetheart of a wife is next to you, well, then you really got something.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Why I Love David Crosby, Reason # 944

Ted Nugent is a right wing, racist, hunter, gun owner, closed minded jerk off.

He is also a rock guitarist.

He recently said the only reason he has not been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is because he is a gun toting member of the National Rifle Association. He feels the Hall is trying to be politically correct.

David Crosby, who has been inducted twice, responded with this short but sweet tweet:

"No the asshole just isn't good enough."


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I Am Not Too Old To Evolve, Goddamn It

It's about to get raw all up in here.

Why?

Because I'm feeling pretty raw.

Worried about Carol's health. She's tough, she will get through it fine but, as Tom Petty said, "the waiting is the hardest part".

Fucking medical community. Saturday they tell Carol she has a tumor in her head and its gotta go because she is demonstrating symptoms. Tell her a consultation will be set up for Tuesday (yesterday) for me and her to understand what is about to happen.

She never got a call. We are still waiting. Carol called her physician and expressed her displeasure. The doc said she would contact Dartmouth-Hitchcock and give them a push.

Still nothing.

Apparently the approach of modern medicine is to tell you that you have something fairly serious going on, and then to take their fucking time dealing with it.

Cocksuckers.

If I am feeling this upset I cannot imagine how Carol feels.

So there is that.

As this all unfolds I am taking notes. This situation is definitely not about me but it has forced me to take a step back.

When I had the cancer thing I called Keith and Craig and cried like a bitch. I am a deeply emotional man, the drawback being I allow emotions to overwhelm me.

I am also a fatalist. I hear cancer and I think death. Even though Dr. Feelgood assured me that it was the lowest possible stage of melanoma and I did not really have a lot to worry about.

When Carol called Keith and Craig on Saturday they had awesome conversations. Carol was strong; they even laughed on both ends of the calls.

I sat next to her and thought "How the hell did she do that?" What she has is a lot more serious than what I dealt with and yet she handled it with strength.

The difference is she hears brain tumor and thinks "OK, let's deal with this and move on".

That, apparently, is the difference between positivity and negativity.

I texted Keith and Craig afterwards and thanked them for making Carol feel better.

They both said that her positive attitude gave them confidence. I thought "Jesus what an asshole I was to cry like I did and make the situation more awkward than it had to be".

I have never liked the overly emotional side of my personality, the craziness that allows emotions to overwhelm me and prevent me from functioning. But I have never been able to control it.

New ballgame. I am learning from Carol. What she is doing is amazing. And inspirational.

When you are 39 years married you know everything about this person you live with and settle into a "taking it for granted, sometimes making the wrong assumptions" perspective.

All of a sudden I am looking at Carol differently. With a great deal of admiration. And respect.

I will be strong for her whenever she needs it throughout this ordeal. I am determined to do so.

But I think she will not lean on me too much. She is a warrior.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

True That

I gotta start using this phrase. I like the way it sounds. Think it is cool.

If you walked up to me and said "Hey Joe - you are the greatest human being who ever lived. Omniscient and omnipotent. Talented and rather pretty. Intelligent with a wonderful sense of humor. Unselfish and giving. Thoughtful. With a remarkable capacity for empathy."

I would respond: "Yeah, I've been thinking about that lately. I guess I am super cool. It is utterly amazing what I have accomplished in my life. A statue should be erected."

But if the conversation went like this: "Hey Joe - I am amazed at your inherent greatness. Your greatness supercedes all greatness that came before. Your greatness is greater than the sum total of all the greatness of every great human who preceded you."

And I responded: "True that."

That would be a lot cooler.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

And Just Like That

I intended to jump in here yesterday and gloat about the fact that I scored David Crosby concert tickets on Friday night.

Had to talk Carol into it because she experiences physical pain when we spend any more than $1.25 for anything that is not budget related, and these tickets cost us $160. But I was determined. I missed him earlier this summer at another small venue only an hour away from me and it broke my heart when I found out about it.

The man is a survivor. His life story is legendary. His singing is exquisite. His song writing is emotional, political, meaningful and inspirational.

We have seats in the front row of the balcony, which means we will be looking down on him when it should be the other way around. Still, it will be a spectacular night.

We saw Crosby, Stills and Nash a few years ago, outdoors on a beautiful summer night, and their singing brought tears to my eyes.

Croz is 75 years old and still bringing it, baby.

That news was eclipsed by a phone call yesterday afternoon.

Carol has been having hearing issues in one ear, and balance issues when walking. She kind of walks like a drunk, which she may have learned from me.

She had an MRI yesterday morning, and in the afternoon she was called by the MRI interpreter ( my description - I am not sure he was a doctor). They found a tumor behind her ear and it has gotta go.

We have a consultation on Tuesday, then they will get her in the hospital ASAP for a two day stay.

It was heavily stressed that this is most likely not as frightening as it sounds. That it is not entrenched in the brain, but rather pressing up against it. So that is good.

Still, we cannot help but be nervous.

And just like that our lives are changed.

We have had a pretty remarkable run. Been through some shit, had lots of ups, some downs, but all in all life has been relatively gentle with us.

Until last summer. Apparently now, August is officially the month of bad news. I was diagnosed with melanoma last August, Carol with the tumor this month. In addition I am dealing with the fractured hip thing.

So there you have it. You can't help but wonder exactly what stage you are in in your life. We are only 63 and the shit has begun.

But not anywhere near as bad as it could be. So there is that.

I don't think I handled the cancer thing as well as I should have. I am an emotional guy and it got me down.

Carol is strong and upbeat about the tumor and that is a very good thing. We will get through it together and come out the other side with a fresh and exciting appreciation for the good things we do have in our life.

Five I can name right off the top of my head - Keith, Emily, Craig, Karen and Eddie.

Fucking amazing human beings.

I am going to try and ride the wave of Carol's strength and learn from it. Her situation is much more frightening than mine was and she is standing tall.

You never really do know what life is going to throw at you. At the stage we are in and beyond, there is a higher probability that there will be more negative shit.

All we can do is try to learn from it on a personal level. Learn how to react, learn how to maintain positivity, learn how to pay deep attention to the sensitive and meaningful things and people in life every fucking second of every fucking day.

Speaking for myself I know I will fall short of these intentions on a regular basis. I am just built that way. A bit on the dark side, a lot on the emotional (interpreted as not rational) side.

We shall see what transpires.

I can, however, guarantee you that come November and David Crosby, we will sit in amazement at the beauty of this man's soul and his ability to survive life's evil side.

I hope we bring our own personal beauty and survivorship to that night as well.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

I Feel Cheated

The summer that wasn't. So far, anyway.

Way too many cold nights and cold mornings that feel more like fall then summer.

Shouldn't that be illegal?

I know, you are saying "But Joe - I love the cold nights - it is good sleeping weather". I'm gonna go easy on you and give you that one. It is a better sleep when you can draw a sheet up under your chin in easy contentment. Sweating like a pig is not conducive to peaceful sleep.

BUT - everybody waits for summer. They pray for it, anticipate it, think about it and plan for it. It finally rolls around and you end up actually being cold 50% of the time.

What the fuck is that? Somebody is gonna have to pay.

For most people summer is the only thing to justify being alive. Everything else is torture. I can see morticians licking their chops even as I speak.

I must be getting softer because I'm telling myself September will be summer-like. I mean real summer. That is probably a safe bet; summer has been starting later and hanging around longer.

It fucking better be summer-like - I need warmth like a drunkard needs a drink.

Been an off balance summer karma-wise as well. Fractured hip, dead Lincoln, my laptop just died and my tablet is dying a slow death.

And nobody has offered me that 5 million bucks I feel I deserve. Christ, I've been around long enough. Shouldn't some wealthy benefactor just hand me the fortune I need to live out my life in dignity?

Every time I leave the house I keep my eyes open for bags of money by the side of the road. I never find them.

This is distressing because that approach represents the sum total of my retirement strategy.

Got me thinking about karma. What have I done to deserve this punishment? What could it possibly be?

Everybody knows I am a good boy. Avid church goer, teetotaler, anti-drug advocate, health nut, all around sweetheart, and a volunteer with Meals on Wheels, the Boy Scouts and three local food pantries.

The Pope calls me for advice.

After peeling back a couple of layers of self delusion I began to take a look at who I really am; the things I have done, the evil thoughts I have thunk.

Oh shit - so that is what's going on this summer.

The hell with it. Whadddya gonna do?

There was a line from "Penny Dreadful" that I really embraced; perked right up when I heard it.

"The best way to be free of regret is to embrace your sins".

I cannot open my arms wide enough.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Oh My God - Could This Even Be True?

"I mean, in the end, we must be that thing the world demands of us. We must take the lust and the avarice and the ambition and bury them. All the alien, ugly things, all the things we really are--the other one, the other man, we cannot allow him!"

Jekyll, from "Penny Dreadful"

Thursday, August 3, 2017

More Stupidity

Another stupid thing about baseball.

The pitcher throws a ball into the dirt, the catcher throws the ball away and reaches behind him to the ump, looking for a fresh new ball.

Doesn't seem to happen every time, and I'm sure there is some arcane rule I am not aware of, that decides when is yes and when is no.

But if on the very next pitch the guy at the plate hits a ground ball to short - which obviously takes a hop on the dirt - and gets thrown out at first, the ball eventually makes it back to the pitcher.

Who quite contentedly serves it up to the next batter.

I don't get it.

QUICK ASIDE: Baseball could probably reduce the national debt by 75% if 300 balls were not thrown into the stands at every game. Or maybe - and this is heresy - reduce ticket prices.

Are You Like Me?

Are you like me?

I wear my socks until every goddamn pair has holes in the heels.

Not little holes. Massive holes so that my entire heel is exposed. Right and left.

Every morning I say to myself "this is stupid. It's embarrassing. Socks are cheap. Why don't I just buy new socks?"

I wear them for 6 more months.

Finally I break down, bowing to the Amazon god, and shell out $5.84 for a 6-pack of Hanes Men's FreshIQ Cushion Crew Socks, White, 10-13 (Shoe size 6-12).

Two days later I am slipping them onto my feet and thinking "oh my, my - these are so comfortable."

So very silly.

Still I am consumed with crippling fear and self-doubt. Now I need dressier socks, colorful socks, the more flamboyant the better.

But I wait. Hesitate.

And the holes grow bigger.

You Can Cut It With A Knife

There was a palpable melancholia in the air.
It came from within.
It came from without.
He felt it most disturbingly from those
who tried hardest to hide it.
Pretty ironic, wouldn't you say?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

If Only It Was This Simple

"And I wanna grow old without the pain, give my body back to the earth and not complain."

From "The Perfect Space" by The Avett Brothers.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Lennon In The Morning

Got John Lennon on the Victrola this morning.

Waiting to go to work. Not feeling it this morning and this disturbs me. If I gotta have a part time job this is the one to have. But I have worked four shaky shifts in the past week and a half and my spirit is limp.

Yet I like the job. I like the people. No problema - I will shake it off.

Lennon was so fucking tough he had no problem being publicly vulnerable. This I love about the man.

He was who he was and he just put it out there. Ferociously. Unapologetically. Can you imagine having him around now with this fucking incompetent dictator in the White House?

Lennon would be in his face.

His music was so deeply personal that it traces the arc of his life and his emotions and his mistakes and his love and his inspirations; his thoughts, his philosophies.

"Whatever Gets You Through The Night" just came around. Love the story of this song. John recorded it with Elton John, who bet Lennon the song would get to #1.

It did and Lennon paid off the bet by making a guest appearance at an Elton John concert on Thanksgiving night 1974 in Madison Square Garden. Lennon had been out of the limelight for a while, indulging in his "Lost Weekend".

To top it all off, he reunited with Yoko backstage that night - they had been separated for 18 months.

Sadly, it was also Lennon's last live performance.

Anyway, I am sitting here wrapped in vulnerability and feeling the vibration in my soul. In my emotions.

I guess that is what I am getting at in here all the time - wishing people could be more openly vulnerable. More honest.

Christ knows I put all my shit out there in here. Of course maybe if I could do it in real life without getting devoured maybe I would not have a blog at all.

Anyway...................Mr. Lennon was a straight ahead, emotionally raw guy. Yeah, he had lots of problems, many weaknesses, he made a lot of mistakes BUT he kept on moving and learning and evolving.

And he put it all out there so we knew exactly who he was.

Man, that takes balls.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Simple Pleasures, Baby - Really, Is There Anything Else?

Feeling kind of beat up yesterday so I decided to lie down on my bed with the iPod as my companion, ear buds in my ancient ears.

Honestly, I was beat up because I consumed a large amount of whiskey and beer Friday night in response to another tough night on the job.

I worked three shows the weekend before - one on Friday, two on Saturday - I had ticket printer problems for every show. Pretty stressful when you have a lobby full of people waiting to grab tickets and you have to stop to re-program from one printer to another. That holds me up, and the other person who is also selling tickets.

That was on my mind on Friday and sure enough - the place was fucking rockin' and the printers started malfunctioning. Back and forth - first one, then the other.

Although this time I reached a new high - both printers went down at the same time. Lobby full of people staring at me; the two people working with me staring at me. For a few minutes I could not print any tickets at all. Man, I got a sick feeling in my stomach until, somehow, I got one printer back up.

So I came home and got drunk. I have done that all my life when I have problems and it works so well. Definitely puts all your problems to bed. That is the secret to my enormous success.

Anyway I hit the bed and re-discovered my ear buds (one word or two?).

Are you fucking kidding me? The quality of sound these things provide is mind blowing. Sound right out of the middle of my skull, and sound that is so sensitive it transmits every little thing.

Very intimate; exceptionally beautiful.

I haven't used these things in years; I always jam the iPod into the dock and jam out (dance around the kitchen) when Carol is not home. I do this when alone because my dancing is so exceptionally amazing that it shames Carol and I don't want to hurt her feelings.

Listened to a double album by Jamey Johnson. He's that country dude I recently discovered and rambled on about in these very pages.

Perfect fucking moment. Heartfelt music beautifully delivered as I rested in supreme comfort on top of the bed, summer breeze leaking in through the screen door.

So yeah, I am going to start using the ear buds again. It is what I need.

That was Simple Pleasure #1.

Simple Pleasure #2 is Earnest Hemingway. I have actually been enjoying him all week but this morning the pleasure seemed to piggyback on yesterday's sweet joy.

Back when I was still Thrift Shop Boy, a young guy came in with a box full of books. His wife worked for a publisher in NYC so she accumulated a lot of books. They had just moved to NH and decided to lighten the load.

Of course I went through the box before putting them on the shelf. I am no fool - I am #1, baby.

Came across "The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway". Snatched that son of a bitch right up. Just got around to reading it this week.

Christ, when you read good literature you know it. Very tasty. And it is the complete experience for me. Beautiful hard cover book in pristine condition. I worship hard cover books.

Even the pages are printed on quality paper. Thick, luxurious paper.

I am simultaneously reading and loving this book, and enjoying the physical sensations that come from having it in my hands.

My nirvana.

Simple Pleasure #3. Whipped up scrambled egg tacos for breakfast. Onions, peppers, ground beef. Carol and I devoured them in Sunday peace in front of the television machine.

Simple Pleasure #4. This just occurred to me. I am writing on the screened-in porch. For the first time this summer. Can you believe that shit?

Gorgeous day. Maka curled up on the table next to me. Lakota curled up in her private bed on the couch. Bottle of water to my right.

Simple pleasures, baby. Little things that make my life extraordinary. Been tuned in to them in a more focused way over the last couple of years.

Why not? I ain't never gonna be no fucking billionaire. Might as well keep my eyes and the rest of my senses open to the beautiful things I do have in my life and just dig 'em.

Enjoying the day in a right peaceable way.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Sometimes.............

when I drink coffee out of my Three Stooges mug, some of the coffee dribbles over the edge onto Larry's forehead and dries there.

It looks like blood.

It is quite disturbing.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Truth In The End

Gregg Allman finished recording his last solo album shortly before he died.

It is called "Southern Blood" and will be released on September 8th.

NPR premiered the first song from the album yesterday. It is called "My Only True Friend".

Dig these words:

It opens with the line: "You and I both know this river will surely flow to an end".

Later:

"Still on and on I run,
 Feels like home is just around the bend
 I got so much left to give, but I'm running out of time, my friend

I hope you're haunted by the music of my soul, when I'm gone
Please don't fly away and find you a new love
I can't face living this life alone
I can't bear to think this might be the end
But you and I both know, the road is my only true friend"

At some point in the recording process he knew he was dying. So he said good bye in the only way he knew how - honestly, through song, with soul deep bluntness.

This song is haunting; it faces the truth head on, it is soulful, it is deep. And it is gorgeous.

If you care about Gregg Allman at all, if you care about his legacy and the legacy of The Allman Brothers Band, you have to listen to this.

You will shed some tears the first time you listen to it. After that, your soul will come around as if it were jolted by lightening. You will lose yourself in the bluesy soulfulness of this man who lived a life like no other.

And who made music like no other.

We deal with a lot of bullshit in our lives, some a product of just being alive, some we heap upon ourselves. We get lost, we get unsure, we get afraid. We waste a lot of the precious time we have here on this earth.

But no matter what you do or don't do, no matter how you feel about your life, one day you will come face to face with death.

It hangs out there from the minute you are born, waiting to claim you. From the moment you are old enough to be aware, it is in your mind in one form or another. And when you come up on it, you gotta deal with it - there is no running away. It is as real as it gets.

You can avoid a lot of shit in life, you can fake it in so many ways and in so many situations, but death is the one thing you cannot outrun.

Creating beauty when you face death head-on, is the ultimate fuck you to mortality.

It says so much about the creative spirit that, when faced with death, you choose to create one more time. Most of us would curl up in a ball and cry.

It says that creativity is who you are and you have no choice but to express yourself in your own way, to let your soul breathe and, hopefully, to connect with others who need your words and your music - which is the ultimate fucking gift.

Gregg Allman does it with power and class and emotion in this song. Fucking amazing.

Bowie did it too. He too died from cancer; he knew it was coming. His last album was called "Blackstar", and on it was a song called "Lazarus".

With these lyrics: "Look up here, I'm in heaven, I've got scars that can't be seen; I've got drama can't be stolen, everybody knows me now, look up here, man I'm in danger, I've got nothing left to lose, I'm so high it makes my brain whirl, dropped my cell phone down below, ain't that just like me?"

The video for Lazarus is haunting.

By the way - FUCK CANCER.

I worship the creative process in any form or format. I believe creativity comes closest to capturing what it means to be human.

I especially appreciate it when it expresses hard truths head-on. No bullshit. Because that is what we all avoid.

I am glad to get a taste of Gregg Allman's final solo album. It will be mine on September 8.

My life will be better for it.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Oh How The Mighty Have Fallen (But What The Fuck - Life Is A Fuckin' Roller Coaster Ride, Is It Not?)

Say good bye to The Big Ride.

Say hello to Black Beauty.

How the story ends: On this past Wednesday I traded my 2004 Lincoln Continental Town Car in on a 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

By the time Wednesday rolled around I just wanted to get The Big Ride up to the dealer without the fucking thing breaking down. Had two cars in mind - the Hyundai and a 2011 Jetta. Had no intention of doing any type of inspection/comparison/investigation, and I did not. The Hyundai caught my eye and I went with that.

I did not even test drive the thing. Why the fuck should I? These people - Phillips Auto Sales - this is the fifth car we have bought from them. They are easy to deal with; the cars are reliable. Besides I just didn't give a fuck.

These people are so cool. I called Wednesday, told them I wanted to drive the Lincoln in and leave with another car that day. They made it happen. As far as I know our financing had not even been approved. No temp registration; he put dealer plates on it. We didn't even make a down payment.

I actually drove the car for two days before I technically owned it. Did not finalize the financing until Friday morning.

I wanted to hate this car. I mean, for Christ sake, I loved that damn Lincoln so much I committed objectophilia with it.

I can't hate the Hyundai. It actually leans toward stylish. Nice lines. And it is black. Black on the outside, black on the inside.

Black Beauty, baby.

78,000 miles. High/low, know what I mean?

I don't love it but I like it. It ain't no fucking Lincoln, I can tell you that.

But you know me. I am a positive guy. Cheery as fucking hell. Glass half full and all that shit. Always looking for the silver lining.

What I sacrificed in comfort I gained in technology.

This car has everything.

First of all the AC works. It did not in the Lincoln for the last two summers. I enjoyed the hell out of that since Wednesday.

This baby has a hookup for my ipod. A hookup for my phone. A navigation system. Access to Sirius XM (which you know I am going to activate immediately; I'll be drowning in the blues and The Beatles, baby).

It has 237 other technological marvels as well. Who cares about comfort, who cares about performance, who cares about reliability - I got the toys, baby - I got the toys.

I am just going to enjoy this car.

And I learned a lesson. I am not going to drive it into bankruptcy, like I did with The Big Ride.

In two years I will be looking to trade Black Beauty in. I am too fucking old to deal with automotive fuckology.

I do not want to sink three million dollars into a car again for the rest of my life.

So here I am. At least I am not holding my breath while I drive. This car feels good. It looks good. Its blackness matches the blackness of my soul.

Life is one motherfucking unpredictable son of a bitch.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jesus Hates Me, The Fucktard

Jesus hates me. He fucking loathes me.

That is the only thing that has prevented me from driving an ice pick directly into my brain all these years.

My toughest swear, the go-to of all go-to's, when I am really fucking over the top pissed off is Jesus Fucking Christ.

If there is a Jesus guy lounging around in the sky, I guranfuckingtee you he does not appreciate it when I cut loose like that. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, and all that shit.

I am sure I have uttered that phrase approximately 16 trillion times in my life.

So if I did decide to put the ice pick to good use and had to stand before Jesus' dad to be judged, his kid would be on the sidelines whispering "stick it to him good, Daddy - send him to hell for nine eternities".

Finally fucking picked up The Big Ride yesterday. Timeline: Car breaks down on July 7. Car gets fixed on July 18. Finally get it back.

I'm driving home and I get a little melancholy; I am going to trade it in this week - period. I fucking love this car.

Low on gas; stop at a gas station five minutes from my house, put in just enough gas to get me to Concord, where the dealership is located that I plan to visit today.

The car won't start. Did you fucking hear me? THE FUCKING CAR WOULD NOT START. I had the car back less than half an hour and it broke down again.

Of course it couldn't be something simple like a dead battery. Tried to jump start it - no luck. Had to get it towed right back to the place I just fucking picked it up from.

Timeline:  I had to wait 45 minutes for the first AAA guy to show up (neither me nor Carol has cables) to try to charge that puppy up. That didn't work so now he has to call for a tow truck. I originally called around 4:30. Around 6:00 Carol and I finally went home, leaving my car and the keys behind. The car did not get towed until 8:00. It was a whole fucking comedy of errors and miscommunication on AAA's part. A few phone calls back and forth between me and them.

I just called my mechanic this morning. Told him I do not want to spend one more dime on this car. Please just get it started so I can drive it to Concord. PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE!

I have an appointment to see a urologist this morning. The PSA count was up a bit at my physical a few weeks ago. You know, the supposed indicator of potential prostate cancer.

I am not that worried because Dr. Feelgood did the manual check while I was there and did not find anything alarming. It ain't the size of a grapefruit yet.

But I woke up this morning - somewhere around 4:30 ( I got up around 5:15 because I am so fucking irritated) - remembering the only other time I saw a urologist, he stuck a cue tip or a piece of fucking lumber up inside the tip of my dick.

It was the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced. Except for the twenty some odd years I spent as an accountant.

I am hoping that does not happen today. That would just be the fucking icing on the cake this week.

So I gotta see the doc this morning, then check the status of The Big Ride, then make a trip to Concord to buy another car. Carol took the day off so we can get this shit done.

I have family members who have lost spouses. I have family members who have lost children. So lately when I vent in here I realize that my problems pale in comparison to the suffering of others. So I try to lighten up a little bit.

So here we go. I am the kind of guy, when I get furious, I need to break things. I need to punch, I need to express myself violently. But society dictates that when you have a spouse, you should not disturb said spouse through violent action.

So I kept it all in yesterday. As all this was going on and my anger built and grew and just fucking metastasized to gargantuan proportions.

I went to bed shortly after 10:00. Couldn't sleep. Tossed and turned. At one point I rolled over on my back and spontaneously started to bang my fists into the mattress. I beat the shit out of that thing. It came out of nowhere. I just exploded. Must have looked like a drooling madman.

Or a child.

Fortunately, we have one of them fancy foam mattresses. That thing took a beating and just bounced right back. No harm done. To me or the mattress.

Shit, man it is pure joy to be alive in 2017.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fractured Hip, Broken Car

Say good bye to The Big Ride, ladies and gentlemen.

My amazing car blew up on me. July 7 was the day. A day that will live in infamy.

Got it towed on July 8. Today is July 18. Still don't have it back.

How do you feel about that?

Needs some air bladder thingy, which apparently is being walked over to the U.S from Australia. Or maybe it's like getting a liver transplant. Maybe I have to wait for somebody else's 2004 Lincoln Town Car to expire before they can remove the bladder, pack it in ice, and ship it to good ole Henniker.

Doesn't fucking matter. I'm just waiting to get it back so I can trade it in.

When I bought this beauty I made the assumption that, because it is a Lincoln, it will last forever. Figured I would drive it for a bunch of years and when it finally gave up the ghost I would run right out and buy another Lincoln.

I was wrong. The car has not been a pain in the ass but the pace of repairs has accelerated over the last two years.

I don't want to deal with it anymore. I'm tired of it.

Breaks my heart.

I am not in the position to buy another Lincoln. My dream of riding in luxury until I am laid in a luxury casket is shattered.

Now I just don't give a shit. Just want a car. Any car. Preferably something that runs.

I'm thinking of making an ironic statement. Thinking about getting me a Ford Pinto. The one that was famous for bursting into flames in the seventies. Gotta be some fucking low life criminal that has one or two of those hanging around just looking to sell it to a guy like me.

I will drive it like a madman too. Tempting fate. I'll set it up with a secret compartment that can hold a 1.75 liter bottle of Crown Royal. With a hose. A hose I can suck on and easily conceal if the coppers come around.

So I'm just waiting. Not waiting on a friend, as The Stones sang about. Just waiting. Just fucking waiting.

Waiting to see some goddamn specialist dude about the hip. Got an appointment for this coming Thursday.

Fucking medical community. They get all up in arms. Holy shit - you got a fractured hip. We gotta get you in here. You gotta get a cane. You gotta be careful. You gotta ride in a car with a luxury air bladder in it.

Then they keep me waiting three weeks.

Meanwhile, unfortunately and disconcertingly, the pain has increased.

I am riding a bubble of negativity. Unfortunate. But that's the way it goes. You know the feeling. I know you do.

But I am a very positive guy. Always looking on the bright side. Cheerful and encouraging. With me the glass is always half full. Especially when it has whiskey in it.

I know that in a couple of weeks I'll be riding around in my Pinto and the hip will have been dealt with.

I will win Powerball to the tune of $675 million bucks, I will buy a second home in Arizona, a third in Hawaii. I will join a health club, lose twenty pounds and get a call from Johnny Depp asking me to co-star in his next flick. I will finally take Carol to Niagara Falls. I will be invited to tour with The Stones.

Yeah, baby, life is a thrill-a-minute joy ride, ain't it?

My future's so bright I gotta wear shades.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

This Allman Brothers Thang

I work with a VNP.

Very Nice Person. Amanda.

We just started working together in May. For Father's Day she gives me a book about The Allman Brothers.

"One Way Out. The Inside History. The Allman Brothers Band." Very cool thing to do.

And an excellent book. Of course I already have it and have already read it, but I did not tell her that because I appreciated what she did.

At first I was going to slip it into the book case, but then I got to thinking that this was the perfect time to re-read the book.

So I did.

The book was written by Alan Paul, a guy who has been following and writing about the band for 25 years. The thing I like about the book is that it is an oral history based on hundreds of interviews over the years.

What I really like about it is that when he gets conflicting stories from different people about the same situation he just puts them right out there side by side, instead of trying to get at the truth (a concept that doesn't exist).

"Yeah, that's when Gregg bought me a plane ticket to get back from the west coast."

"Yeah, that's when Gregg sent him gas money so he could ride his bike back from the west coast."

"Yeah, that's when the crazy son of a bitch hitch hiked all the way back from the west coast."

Let's face it - memory is subjective - especially when you cloud it with a whole bunch of booze and drugs.

Anyway, reading the book was the right thing to do. I read it reverently and with a totally different perspective, given the finality of the situation.

It reiterated the fact that I loved the whole package about this band.

The music, obviously. But the rebel image too.

They looked wild, they looked tough. They were insane. They traveled throughout the south in the late sixties with a black man in the band. And took a lot of shit because of it. But they always stood up for Jaimoe - they never backed down. If he wasn't allowed in a restaurant then none of them ate there.

When they weren't making any money they established a rule that the roadies got paid before the band did. Who the fuck does that? The only other band I ever heard of doing that was The Grateful Dead.

They were a pure democracy. Come decision time every member got a say. Duane was the unacknowledged leader but he never imposed his will against that of the group.

They started what came to be called Southern Rock, a description they hated because they felt it pigeon-holed them. But they did start a movement, a genre of music that wasn't there before and that inspired a lot of other bands to follow.

I loved the book, it inspired deep emotion in me (again) and I'm glad I read it.

Then I decided to take it all the way and re-read Gregg Allman's autobiography next.

Excellent. He has his own story to tell in some ways, apart from the band's history.

He was such a sensitive and vulnerable guy who was thrust unwillingly into a leadership role when his brother died in 1971. Duane was the tough guy and a natural born leader; Gregg was shy and inward directed and it was tough for him to have to carry the Allman Brothers' mantle.

He did the best he could.

I am glad I re-read the books. The timing was right and I was emotionally raw enough to get a different feel, a different perspective this time around.

I would like to now declare a moratorium on the deaths of musicians who feed me soul. I need some time to regain my balance.

Unfortunately that reality is out of my hands.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Marsellus Got It Right

In Pulp Fiction, Butch asks Marsellus Wallace: "You okay?"

Marsellus says: "Naw man. I'm pretty fuckin' far from OK."

Solid quote.

Universally applicable.

I Never Know What Will Save Me

Robert Klein. "Still Can't Stop His Leg". Just watched it. A documentary about his career and his life.

If you don't know where the title comes from, please don't bother me. In fact, turn off my blog.

If you don't know who he is, kill yourself.

You ever get your mind moving in the wrong direction?

I do. Happens a lot.

Got me a new job a couple of months ago. I dig it. I was happy to escape the thrift shop and the withering stares of the wealthy patrons of O's Steaks and Seafood across the street.

Went to work my first day and realized this was a job and these were a people I could dig.

Had the next day off. Motored my way into Concord and my car broke down. Got it towed, and fixed up the next day but I was late for my second day on the job.

I of course called apologetically and it was no big deal.

But a seed was planted.

Coupla months later I find out I got me a fractured hip. Last week, actually. Been playing telephone tag with the fucking doctors regarding follow up and so far I have gotten no where.

Pisses me off.

Driving into work yesterday, the car makes a strange sound as I negotiated "Keith's exit" off 89. Call it that because it is the exit we take to get to Keith's house.

Definite something breaking sound. I drove slowly for a couple of minutes (something I rarely do). Could feel that the Big Ride was not driving right, not quite as smooth as usual, but nothing really scary going on.

Drive home last night. Pull onto my road, go over a bump and literally heard an explosion. Sounded like a gunshot or bomb going off.

I said "What the fuck?" and slowed way down. Car started bouncing like a red rubber ball. I nursed that baby home, the car bottomed out as I pulled into my driveway. Rear end was way low.

Then I noticed this thing lying in the driveway. A piece from underneath my car. About a foot and a half long with a hunk of rubber flapping loose. A severely torn piece of rubber - the victim of the explosion.

Bummin' last night. Bummin' even more this morning. This afternoon got The Big Ride towed to Danny's for a Monday morning rendezvous.

Too much negative shit on my mind. Which I stretch all the way back to last summer's cancer bullshit. Start thinking about all the negative shit that has happened since I semi-retired.

What the fuck.

Just an average life keeping me from getting cocky.

Get back from Danny's and my brain is severely bruised. Looking for release. Distraction.

Got me about 300 things saved as favorites on the magical X1 Infinity machine. So many that I don't remember what I have saved.

Troll it and come across Klein.

Yeah, baby - I could use a laugh.

Fucking spectacular.

He is a funny dude, man, and a comedian routinely mentioned in the same breath as Richard Pryor and George Carlin as a pioneer.

By comedians like Jerry Seinfeld,  Jay Leno, Billy Crystal, Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Ray Romano, Larry Miller, and David Steinberg, all of whom admit Robert Klein had a major influence on them.

Made me feel good. Made me laugh. Got my respect vibe working.

I never know what is going to save me. Today it was Robert Klein.

Christ I was down. I feel better now. Not cured, but better.

Not half bad, baby.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Stupidest Thing In Sports

A third base coach giving signs.

Run the hand along the bill of the cap, touch the nose, swipe across the letters right to left, swipe down the right arm, tug on an ear, swipe across the letters left to right, go to the belt, tug on the other ear, swipe down the left arm, clap twice and spit.

You have to be fucking kidding me.

Gotta keep the opposition from stealing signs, but that is serious overkill. I believe they still do it that way because it has become ingrained in the sport - it is a thing - and because they think it looks cool, and they feel cool doing it.

And the batter has to stand there for two and a half minutes squinting down at the coach to pick up the one gesture or combination that means something.

I think it is fucking hilarious.




Qualifying The Rant

Obviously I became emotionally invested in "Winter Passing" yesterday, and connected that in my brain to the Chris Gethard special, which also touched a nerve with me, and jumped out of my recliner and ran to the laptop to emote.

Actually I am not jumping out of anything these days or running towards anything either, but you get the picture.

When my emotions run deep, what comes out is the truth - but it is a little raw, a little unfocused.

I do hunger for emotional release, emotional connection, but it really is not practical in life. The characters I connect with in movies tend to be broken people connecting with broken people - that seems like pure honesty to me and the ultimate expression of what it means to be human.

But of course, it is the movies. That shit does not happen in real life. Can't do it. Gotta keep on keeping on.

People are too afraid to expose themselves emotionally. Too damn dangerous.

People who are consumed with emotion typically become writers. Or actors. Or musicians.

Or accountants.

Because there is no other way for them to express themselves; to be themselves. Society does not allow that.

If you travel in the bubble of creativity you are somewhat insulated from the "real" world. Although it is a harsh and a difficult way of making a living. Ironically, if you try to make it creatively you will face 100 times the rejection an average person faces. But for some people there is no other choice.

Because if you try to survive as a deeply emotional person in the every day world you will get eaten up. No emotions allowed. No vulnerability. Suck it up.

So yeah, every time I come across an emotional experience that resonates with me I fly away to "I wish" land, because I detest superficiality.

Because of this hunger that will never be sated.

And I bet I have done it 777 times in here. After a movie, after reading a poem, after devouring a book. I cannot help myself. Because as I am experiencing those things, everything else about me is stripped away.

And what is revealed is so powerful to me and so honest that it trips a breaker in my brain and I go berserk.

Small example: I was recently in the company of a friend. We had music on in the background. "I Am A Rock" (Simon and Garfunkel, if you are musically challenged) came on and I mentioned that this song has one of my favorite lyrics of all time. When asked what it was I recited: "I have my books and my poetry to protect me."

He replied something like "OK, I don't get it, but if it makes you happy...."

There are very few people, if any (at least in my life) who would say "I know exactly what you mean" and go on to have an animated discussion of the lyric, and then books and then poetry with me.

And yet to me, those words are powerful. They mean something to me. Deeply. They spark emotion in me; a response. Every fucking time.

And that is a very small example, tip of the iceberg type stuff. There is so much more that resonates with me deeply and meaningfully that cannot be expressed in every day life. At least not in my every day life.

How bizarre, how bizarre.

Apparently I have chosen the wrong friends. Or not enough friends. Or maybe I am not putting myself out there forcefully enough. Or maybe I have tried to put myself out there forcefully and been consistently rejected.

This is hilarious. I came in here to try to explain yesterday's rant because I felt like it was a little skewed.

Feels like I am bending it even further away from where you are.

I won't lose sleep over it.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

EMOTION - Pure and Simple

The central paradox of my life is that I am pure emotion.

It starts at skin level and penetrates down to and through my heart and my soul and my essence.

And yet I cannot live my life in that way. Openly. Honestly. Emotionally.

Gotta put on the show; gotta deal with everybody else putting on the show.

It feels so disingenuous to me, such a waste of time. And life.

Because so many people are sensitive and deal with emotional pain and insecurity and doubt and confusion. I want to sit down with these people and talk - honestly. No fucking bullshit.

I want to open up. I want them to open up. No fear of retribution. No fear of ridicule.

It just doesn't happen.

There are many things about my life that frustrate me but, suddenly I realize, that is THE thing, the truth, that keeps me off balance and prevents me from feeling any peace at all.

Two recent experiences have sparked this violent reaction in my brain.

I watched a "comedy" special on HBO featuring a guy named Chris Gethard called "Career Suicide".

Heavy fucking duty.

The guy is a deeply sensitive, insecure guy who attempted to commit suicide in a spontaneous and somewhat bizarre way.

Obviously he survived. He decided to put together a performance where he airs out all his insecurities; where he talks about the suicide attempt.

There are long periods of time during the performance where you are not laughing. Where what is being said is raw and personal. Then he makes you laugh.

I love stuff like this. I do not need a laugh a minute riot. I need deep and thought provoking stuff that makes me uncomfortable - and then makes me laugh.

This is the kind of show where many insensitive assholes would describe Gethard as a fucking wimp. People who would say "What the fuck is this?" As he bares his soul.

Fuck them.

These are people who cannot admit to their own insecurities. Bluff and bluster. Actors.

I have no use for them.

Exactly ten minutes ago I finished watching a movie called "Winter Passing".

Fucking emotional.

I am not even going to bother summarizing the plot.

All I can say is that it dragged me in immediately, emotionally, and kept me there until the end.

Personal relationships. Family. Fuck ups. Unconventional connections and lifestyles.

Ed Harris is one of the characters. I love Ed Harris. If you want a real treat it also features Will Ferrell in a deeply emotional and vulnerable role.

Every fucking time I come a cross a movie like this - a performance like this - a book like this - a play like this - a poem like this - it breaks me down to exactly who I am.

And increases my sadness at not being able to live my life within this reality of who I am. Not being able to spend time with people who are willing to be brutally honest about who they are, what they are afraid of, what they genuinely feel, how they deal with their life and how they want to change it.

People who are not afraid to speak their dreams aloud.

I don't know what to do about this.

Words To Live By, Baby

"Quality of life is important. Time is as important as money at a certain point in your life. Maybe more important."

Oteil Burbridge, bass player, Allman Brothers Band

Wait A Minute...........What Did You Just Say?

Had a physical last week.

That is one thing I am pretty good about. Get checked out every year; been doing it for a long time.

That way I can keep track of how my health is deteriorating. That's how I know I gotta deal with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, and acid reflux.

Poppin' the pills, baby - every morning. But, what the hell - they are doing the trick and I have not experienced any nasty side effects. And the prescriptions I take have not been increased for years, so at least I am maintaining.

Which is good. Helping me hang around a little longer to drive Carol crazy and perfect methods of embarrassing my sons.

My right hip has been paining me for about a year and a half now. Typically a low level, annoying kind of pain. But it does spike every once in a while to a level that makes me grimace. And limp.

Mentioned it to Dr. Feelgood at last year's physical. She was going to set up an x-ray to check it out, but that was also the physical that led to the whole cancer diagnosis, so the x-ray got lost in the shuffle.

I brought it up again last week because it is a lot more annoying now. Got x-rayed that day; she called me later that day to tell me my hip was fractured.

What? Fucking fractured? How the hell did that happen?

I should have been suspicious when the x-ray technician asked me, while he was checking the x-rays to make sure they came out all right - "Have you had an accident or some kind of trauma to the hip?"

I didn't even think about it because I have been assuming it is arthritis or some other old person type thang.

Now, I did fall twice this winter in my fucking skating rink of a driveway, BUT I have been experiencing pain in the hip for a year before that. So who the hell knows what is going on.

So Dr. Feelgood wants me to get a cane or a crutch until this thing gets dealt with. Which of course I am not doing. I've been walking around on the goddamn thing for a year and a half; I don't think it is suddenly gonna snap now.

Except it does change the mind set.

Before, I dismissed it as arthritis. When you get old enough you deal with pain every day. I have learned to ignore it.

But now, every time I get a twinge or the pain spikes, I get a little worried. And of course the responsible voice in my head is saying "Get a goddamn cane, idiot." And, you know, if I do get a cane it is going to be one funky motherfucker.

So now I wait. I will be scheduled for an MRI to assess the extent of the damage and I have to see an orthopedic dude to figure out what comes next.

But of course the 4th of July holiday has put everything on hold.

In addition, Dr. Feelgood told me to stop exercising. That fucking sucks. Another thing I do religiously is ride an exercise bike, and she knows this. I average four days a week; sometimes I hit five on a good week.

I am already morbidly obese.

Carol and I stole a shopping cart from Shaw's just to get me out of the house. Shaw's sucks; we would never steal a shopping cart from Market Basket.

The way we work it is I roll off my recliner onto the floor, where Carol has the shopping cart tipped over on its side. I roll forcefully into the cart so it begins to tip upright; Carol guides it the rest of the way. She then wheels me out of the house and tips me into her trunk.

It all works just fine.

Anyway, I will have to live on carrots and water until this thing gets figured out, so I don't begin to resemble Jabba The Hut's long lost brother.

How does a fractured hip heal? I am probably going to have to use a cane or a crutch, keep the weight off, until I am whole again.

I am not happy about this.

But what the fuck - at a certain age you gotta roll with the punches as your body begins to betray you.

Another chapter, baby - another chapter.

This Should Have Been Me

Willie Perkins, telling the story of how he became the Allman Brothers Band road manager.

"Butch called me from Cleveland and said Twiggs was in jail and they needed me. They were on their way back to Macon. About a week later, they had a gig in Atlanta, at Georgia Tech, and I met them there. I got onto the Winnebago and Duane came and sat down in the lounge and said  'Man, we are a handful. We will sure enough drive you crazy.' I knew that he was shooting straight and telling me the truth but I was in. I told him I needed two weeks to give notice and then I'd start.

I was a suit-and-tie-wearing auditor for the Trust Company of Georgia in Atlanta and everyone thought I was absolutely insane. My colleagues and friends and families could not understand what I was doing. They all said 'You are throwing away a promising career to go run around with a bunch of crazy hippies who make no money.'

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

My Secret Weapon

"Don't pussy out on me now. They don't know. They don't know shit. You're not gonna get hurt. You're fucking Baretta. They believe every fucking word because you're super cool."

Mr. Orange, from "Reservoir Dogs".

I stole these lines from him and I use them. To pump myself up when I need it. To protect myself.

It's the scene where he is about to go downstairs to the car to pull the jewelry store heist. As you remember, he is an undercover cop. He is trying to psyche himself up for what he has to do, hoping to remain safe. He's about to walk out the door, hesitates, closes the door and looks into the mirror and recites those lines.

Unfortunately he ultimately winds up dead. I ignore that detail in my preparations.

I really do this. Usually in the mirror of my car after arriving at a new job or any other situation that makes me uncomfortable. I sit up, look in the mirror and recite my lines.

Sometimes I do it at home before leaving, if the situation demands it.

When I started the new job I did it a few times until I got comfortable. One day I was walking from my car to the job reciting the lines out loud when I realized someone was walking behind me.

Don't know where he came from but I hope he enjoyed the show.


Better Get Your Shit Together, Children

Remember when I waxed eloquent about the Memorial Day weekend? What I forgot to do was to issue you a warning.

Memorial Day weekend rolls around and you come alive. Yeah, baby - summer is here and the living is easy.

In a way that is deceptive because other than those three days your life doesn't change that much. Still gotta get up and go to work, worry about paying the fucking bills, go food shopping, make dump runs; you know, same old same old.

Still, the weather is better, you don't have to shovel snow or scrape ice off your windshield, so I guess life is a little easier.

Problem is, life moves faster miles an hour when summer hits. And it doesn't help that weather can be such a ball buster.

April sucked. Right? But what the hell, April has a right to suck. April is like a non month. It shouldn't even fucking exist. It is unpredictable and is often cold and rainy.

April showers bring May flowers my ass. April showers bring May showers - and more cold.

May sucked too. Right? Lots of cold, lots of rain.

AND FUCKING JUNE SUCKED TOO. For the most part. I believe I read that the average temperature in June was 88 degrees below normal. For Christ sake, I had yesterday off, I have today off - and both mornings when I came downstairs I had to turn the heat on.

Are you fucking kidding me? On June 26 and June 27 I had to turn the heat on?

Do NOT tell Carol. Carol has a weird thought process that says you don't turn the heat on in June, July, August - even if you wake up to 23 degrees. Like yesterday and today.

I have a weird thought process that says I refuse to be cold in my own fucking house - ever.

So I am sitting there yesterday and today, with the heat turned on and a blanket on my lap as I read.

That ain't right.

Here's my point. We are staring down the barrel at the approach of the July 4th weekend. You better put the pedal to the metal, baby.

Because there is exactly one half of a second between July 4th and the Labor Day weekend. That time will fly by so fucking fast that you will feel like you did one of those Star Wars time warp jump thingys.

Better hit the ground running, baby and you better start today. Tumble kicking, screaming and laughing into the July 4th weekend. Crazy go nuts.

'Cause you gotta make hay while the sun shines. Recent history supports the theory that summer doesn't really begin until July and it tends to extend through September now. That's just the way it is.

So you better be ready.

Make your plans, dream your dreams, think big and go after it. Because if you don't, when it starts snowing late in September you will be consumed by so much regret that you'll wish you were dead.

If you don't have the money to go after the fun you want, go out and get it. A quick drug deal can often finance an entire summer's fun.

If you are like me, summer is it. There ain't nuthin' else. So you are morally obligated to squeeze as much fun and happiness into those two months plus one (September doesn't qualify as summer even though the weather hints otherwise - September is month 1 of winter, baby) as is humanly possible.

I am so lucky to be in the situation I am in right now. Plenty of time off to enjoy, plenty of time off to plan. Christ, I even like my job, which makes things so much easier. I am working on July 1 and July 3, maybe even July 2 and I don't even care. Used to be I would be suicidal having to work a holiday weekend.

Not anymore. I will do what I have to do and I will still squeeze in some summer fun.

Consider yourself warned. I am a sage. I am a prophet. Your life will improve immediately when you finally decide to follow the word of The Joe.

Let's meet on September 30 over a high end whiskey or two and reminisce about the great fun we had this summer.

I expect thrilling stories. Don't let me down.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Waldo Was Pretty Fucking Smart

"If I have lost confidence in myself, I have the universe against me."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Just A Conversation

Spent Sunday of Memorial Day weekend with Paula and Bill.

Always a great time; we get along and we do it comfortably. The beauty of family.

Our conversations are always free flowing and wide ranging, we laugh a lot, debate a lot; no one is afraid to say anything to anyone else.

We get to the end of the night, sitting around the kitchen table, talking about life. I don't remember how we got there but at one point I said that if I died right now my epitaph would have to be "He pissed his life away".

It is a line that has been rattling around my head for years, and I believe it is appropriate.

Paula immediately and passionately went on the attack, asking "What the hell are you talking about? You have a beautiful family" and stuff like that.

This is the response I most often get when I talk epitaph and I understand where it is coming from.

I do have a beautiful family. Carol, Keith & Emily, Craig & Karen, my brother Ed - I cannot believe how lucky I am to call these people family. They are extraordinary and they bring me immense happiness.

My extended family - Paula and Bill, Cori, the Testa clan, the Sargent clan - they all mean a great deal to me and I do not take them for granted.

But when you come right down to it, you only have yourself.

I worship my sons, but the time I get to spend with them is minimal compared to the time I spend living my life. I cannot define my entire life by the limited moments I spend with them.

I love Carol deeply and cannot imagine life without her; she is the absolute definition of partner. But she despises her job and carries that unhappiness home with her every night. I, as you well know, am unhappy with myself and that truth hangs heavy.

So as much as we mean to each other, we cannot give each other perfect peace of mind.

That can only come with a satisfied sense of self.

I made the comment at Paula and Bill's that "I am too smart to be living the way I do, that with my intelligence I should have earned a lot more money in my lifetime, that our life should have been easier and our retirement secure".

The obvious irony there is that I am obviously not too smart to live this way.  The truth is in the living.

Paula then said something along the lines of "you need to accept that this is your life and stop torturing yourself."

BOOM. That comment has been rattling around my head ever since.

This has been the essential conflict of semi-retirement. I believe I need to use the extra time to change my life, to shape my life more in the image I have in my head. As a result I have not enjoyed semi-retirement as much as I should have. I see every day off as an opportunity and a challenge to me to do what I have to do to be reborn as The Real Joe Testa.

Of course I fail almost every time.

I have wondered over and over again if I am just pissing in the wind. Thinking that maybe I should just sit back and enjoy this extra time by indulging in the things that I love and letting the chips fall where they may.

Accepting that this is my life.

But reality is a bitch, baby. I know that Carol and I are only going to get older and more frail, and that we don't have enough money to live in dignity. And I will not become a burden to my sons. No fucking way.

So who the hell knows what is right?

Paula's comment twisted my guts up a little tighter. I know I am lucky to be in the position I am in, to have three or four days off a week to enjoy. And we are getting by, although it is at the expense of Carol working full time at a job that she hates, which is something else to consider.

But from a selfish perspective, maybe I should just lighten up and dig the moment. Stop torturing myself with worry and anxiety. I am getting older and time has become precious. Other people survive, why shouldn't Carol and I?

I don't know if I am capable of that shift in thinking. It kind of feels like giving up.

But it also feels like a simple key to happiness.

No small thing.

Monday, June 5, 2017

They Actually PAY Me To Do This? (Are You Fucking Kidding Me?)

Worked my first show last night.

George Thorogood and The Destroyers.

I was the point man in the box office. For a big show like that we have two people just handing out will call tickets, and one person selling last minute tickets and resolving ticketing issues.

I was the latter.

A bit intimidating but not overwhelming. Get to the joint at 5:30, do a bunch or pre-show stuff, then open up the box office at 6:30 - the show is at 7:30.

At 6:30 the lobby is already filled with people who come at the windows in a mad rush, wielding machetes and shotguns. (My recollection may be inaccurate or melodramatic - I cannot really be sure).

Pretty wild but also pretty cool - you got a bunch of happy people all revved up for the band that they love. I can identify with that quite easily.

A few issues here and there, a few mistakes on my part, but then again I have only been on the job for 3 weeks. In 3 more weeks I will own the fucking joint. 3 weeks after that they will rename the place The Joe Testa Center for The Performing Arts.

One humorous incident - a dude comes up to my window and asks about ticket availability and prices. A bit sketchy looking but I kind of dig sketchy. He finally decides he can afford a $44.50 seat in the balcony. He hands me $44 and tells me he is 50 cents short. Asks if that means he cannot buy a ticket.

I tell him no, I am not going to worry about fifty cents.

After he walks away my boss asked me what that was all about. I told him the guy was 50 cents short but I sold him a ticket anyway, told him I would kick in the 50 cents, is that all right?

Boss man said "Hell no, that is not all right" but he was laughing as he said it. Half serious, half not.

Apparently I will have to be a little tougher from now on.

Anyway, I fight off ticket buyers and try to solve problems until we close the box office at around 8:15.

Run through the closing routine, finish up and then at 8:45.....................my reward.

I walk into the lobby, buy myself a beer and then walk into the theatre where George Thorogood and The Destroyers are up on stage.

For free. I got to walk in for free.

Who the hell has a job like that? Oh, yeah - I do.

And they were rocking that hall. It is the loudest I have heard since I started working there, with the most animated, enthusiastic crowd I have seen so far.

Fucking fantastic.

I stood up back, sipping on my beer, shaking my head in disbelief at my good fortune, and rocking out with everybody else. Stuck around for an hour before I reluctantly left.

I am amazed at my situation. I dig Thorogood but would not have bought a ticket to the show because Carol forces me to set money aside for food and mortgage payments. It has been a lifelong torture for me - skipping concerts I would dig because, well, I just can't afford to go to every concert that I want to.

Now I can. I can work my gig in the box office and when we are done - I can buy myself a beer, walk into the show for free and feed my musical addiction.

I am still giddy today.

Man, sometimes in life (and not too often) a situation comes along that is just too good. Too unbelievable, too damn tasty, too amazing to pass up.

When that happens you gotta grab it by the balls and hold on for dear life.

That is my plan for this job. I am all in. I have really thrown myself into it and will continue to do so until I am King of The Box Office.

Catch myself some beautiful moments along the way.

Feels good. Feels right.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend Is So Fucking Cool It Is Hard To Believe It Is Really A Thing

I was going to write this last weekend but I got sidetracked and ended up writing an obituary instead, just the other day.

I say this every year. I love long weekends. Not just for me. For humanity in general.

Driving home last Friday night I saw pickups with canoes in the back, people towing pop up trailer/tents, campers, RV's.

People bursting free; throwing off the bonds.

I don't see it as an act of desperation. I see it more as a big fuck you to the world.

Working people whose lives revolve around their hated jobs and the fucking bills and the mortgage payment and home repairs and cars that break down............................and an occasional pizza.

Officially sanctioned 3 day weekends roll around and people get happy crazy. They do stuff.

Camping, barbecuing, going out to eat, sleeping late, hosting parties, going to parties - the sense of relief is tangible. You can feel it. You can see it on peoples' places.

You can hear it as people tell you what their long weekend plans are. Smiling. Excited.

People who walk through life dead, suddenly come alive.

And why not? Jesus Christ, the only thing life should be about is having fun.

Unfortunately, most of us spend 99% of our time burrowing like gophers, heads down, teeth clenched, anxiety ruling. 1% trying to get to happy.

A 3 day weekend is a free pass. It is only one extra day but it is the world.

I feel so good about people. Happiness actually becomes a thing, you can release it, let it flow, express it unashamedly. Whatever you are doing that weekend becomes the most important thing in your life, and drudgery be damned.

As always, I have to acknowledge the people who do not get a three day weekend. A slice of our population that has become huge and keeps on growing.

Many years ago, most of the people I knew were lucky enough to get three day weekends. Now I know more people who do not get them.

People working service industry jobs, people working two jobs, people working three part-time jobs.

This is a sad commentary on our society. Employers content to exploit working people so the company does not have to pay insurance. Happy to treat their employees like human resources instead of people; companies who do not give a shit about their employees' lives - how hard they have to work to survive, how much they have to sacrifice to get a small shot at dignity.

It sucks. It really sucks.

Three day weekends are a mixed bag. But if you are lucky enough to get them....................fucking go for it.

Make them count. Ease your mind. Laugh. Dig your family, dig your friends.

The fun that you experience is what life is all about.

Period.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Gregg Allman

I have a line I've been using for decades. It goes like this:

"1969 was the best year of my life. I got laid for the first time, I got drunk for the first time, I got high for the first time. It has been downhill ever since."

The one thing I leave out is that 1969 is also the year I discovered The Allman Brothers Band.

Gregg Allman's death knocked my feet out from under me. Took my breath away.

Not that it was a surprise - he has been sick for a while and I have been expecting it. Still, the man means too much to me - I do not want to accept that he is gone.

Been taking some body blows lately. When Leonard Cohen died last year I was devastated. I worshiped the man. He was a whole different animal from Gregg Allman but I loved his words - his poetry, his books, his song lyrics. And the songs themselves.

The way he lived his life. He was a fascinating man and an inspiration to me.

Butch Trucks - another founding father of The Allman Brothers - committed suicide on January 24, 2017.

That one crushed me too. My friend Phil and I had just seen Butch's band in August of 2016 in a small venue and they rocked the house. We both agreed it was every bit as good as any Allman Brothers concert we had ever seen.

I could not tell you the exact moment I first experienced The Allman Brothers Band.  But I can picture it in my head. I am sure I stopped whatever it is I was doing and said "Who the hell is this?" Because their music communicates directly with my soul.

I have been trying to explain this in here for a long time because I am sure there are many people who just don't understand. The Allman Brothers music is not just entertainment to me, it is not just something to enjoy - The Allman Brothers music is me.

Somehow, someway, it connects with who I am and releases my emotions, my humanity, my essence. They expressed my feelings better than I could myself.

They opened up a whole new world to me. I bought that first album and, after experiencing an epiphany of pure joy from listening to it, I checked out the songwriting credits and noticed that "Trouble No More" was not written by ABB. It was credited to McKinley Morganfield.

Who the hell is McKinley Morganfield? Turns out he was a blues dude nicknamed Muddy Waters. Also turned out his version was a re-working of a song written by a dude named Sleepy John Estes. Another blues dude.

I checked these guys out, loved what I heard, and just kept walking down the road to the blues, which I continue to love deeply today. Everything you love connects you to other things you can love.

Very cool fact: I wanted to make sure I had my facts straight and remembered I have The Allman Brothers first album in a frame upstairs. I brought it down, and took it out of the frame. Held the album cover in my hands. Pulled out the album and held that in my hands.

I held this album in my hands when I was 15 years old. I am now 63. It is blowing my mind. I have it sitting next to me right now. A direct connection to my youth; a direct connection to the birth of my love for this band and this music.

Fucking unbelievable.

I have been to many Allman Brothers concerts. I estimate somewhere around 30 or 40. I have so many memories of those times, so many stories, so much happiness.

One thing I always loved about the concerts was the pre-gaming in the parking lot. There were people my age and older, and a lot of people 20 years younger. We connected with those young people who wanted to know what concerts we had been to, who wanted to know how we got into the band, who wanted to know what the band meant to us.

We shared beers and joints and talked and laughed. And I was happy to know that another generation of fans dug the band for their legacy and their chops.

I have introduced people to The Allman Brothers in concert many times. Nephews, friends, my brother. A swirling network of people in my life that I have attended concerts with.

But there was a hardcore group of guys who went to Allman Brothers concerts every summer for a long time. Sometimes 10 or 15 guys, sometimes three or four. Always complete madness and joy.

I once went to a concert in Manchester NH alone because I could not get any of my friends to go. I sat next to some young people and we got along so well. Talking, laughing, digging the music.

Anyway, the die hards of the core group were me and Phil Camerlengo, a friend in my life since the second grade. Almost all of my concert memories are connected with Phil. Including two trips to New York City to see The Allman Brothers at the Beacon Theatre, which was a holy experience for true ABB fans.

We would usually gather at Phil's house for a pre-concert barbecue, and then motor on down to Great Woods for the show. We always had one friend who was the DD and thank God because we partied like there was no tomorrow.

The last trip to the Beacon was on October 27, 2014 - the second to last show The Allman Brothers ever played. Phil and I were able to go because my sons - Keith and Craig - bought me two tickets. For which I am eternally grateful - it is one of the greatest musical memories in my life.

Two old friends, Allman Brothers fanatics, set loose in NYC to worship in The Allman Brothers church and then party our way through the night in The Big Apple.

Fucking fantastic.

Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident in 1972, one year after the band finally made it big time. So fucking sad. Since then Gregg has carried the mantel of The Allman Brothers on his shoulders.

Gregg's death closes the door on The Allman Brothers history with finality. That is what hurts so much. After they broke up in 2014 I held out hope that I would see them in one form or another. Then Butch Trucks died. Now Gregg.

The man with the ultimate blues voice. The ultimate in soulfulness. A voice that got better with age. Whiskey soaked. Reflecting the scars of a life hard lived.

Duane was the tough guy. Gregg was the sensitive one. Gregg did not want to lead the band, he did not want to make the decisions. That role was thrust upon him.

He protected the legacy in style.

Please know the six original members of The Allman Brothers Band: Duane Allman, Gregg Allman, Dicky Betts, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny Johanson ( known as Jaimoe).

These six men came into my life and changed it. In 1969. When I was 15 years old. They made my life deeper, made it more enjoyable, they inspired me and made me feel alive.

Over and over again.

Dicky Betts and Jaimoe are the only surviving members. May they live forever.

To the rest I say requiescat in pace.

And to Gregg Allman I say thank you, man. For the passion, the commitment, the dedication to the blues, for continuing to get up every time you or the band were down, for reinventing yourself and the music continuously.

For keeping the music relevant and mind blowingly intense. For maintaining such a high level of quality in the songs your band performed.

Thank you Gregg for giving me something in my life I will never have again.

I will never love another band the way I love The Allman Brothers Band. No band will ever mean to me what The Allman Brothers Band did. It's impossible.

Thank you Gregg for coming into my life. I have always appreciated you and I will never forget you.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Monument Valley, Arizona

Recently bought a print of a road running through Monument Valley in Arizona. Had it mounted, hung it on the wall opposite my recliner.

I love the desert even though I have never been there. I wanted to mount that love on the wall where I could look at it every day.

This picture really gets to me; it brings me peace.......................and longing.

It hit me yesterday. I was looking at it and my body settled into this place of wistfulness.

I wanted to be on that road. I wanted to drive until I found a little town with a broken down bar with warped floors, where I would get hired on tending bar. A place where the men are hard, straight shooters, and the women are tough and sexy in an over the hill kind of way. A place where I could pour myself a shot to chug with my favorite customers.

A place where I could make just enough money to survive in my little shack on the desert.

Truthfully, I am tired of fighting. I want what I want. Which I will probably never have.

Even though I have entered a new phase, I would prefer to settle into something simple, something that fits comfortably.

Do not get me wrong. I am happy with the new job. Very happy with it. Even though I was tortured last night for two solid hours.

Tickets for the new season went on sale to the public for the first time. The Capitol Center does it right - they have a barbecue that is open to the public, beer and wine for sale, and people can order tickets for the shows they want to attend.

There are typically three of us in the box office. Last night there were four more people set up in the lobby to sell tickets also. That's how crazy busy it was.

I got there at 4:30. People were already milling about the lobby even though the sale didn't start until 6:00.

It was Day Five for me on the job and there were a lot of customer questions I just could not answer. Each time I had to flag down the boss man - "LORNE!!!!!!!!!!" - who was running around like a maniac trying to stay on top of things.

I hate being in that position - it's like a little kid crying for mommy. But there was no way around it.

It was a rough night but I survived it. Not rough like working in a warehouse or being a roofer, those are real jobs, but still...rough. And I still like the job. Got an internal vibe that this is going to work out beautifully.

My point is that everybody has a desert print in their life. Something or somewhere that, if they could make it part of their life, would bring them peace.

Or maybe we are all just dreamers. Always believing that a change to something or somewhere would make our lives perfect.

I have noticed that sometimes I look at the picture and it brings me peace. Sometimes I look at it and it makes me long for that broken down bar.

You gotta fight to survive. That is the reality for most of us. And we all will be fighting right up until the very end.

But if a little dreaming brings you momentary peace, even if it is tinged with longing or regret - what is the harm in that?

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Peak Behind The Curtain

Let's discuss.

A woman I worked with at the thrift shop - a volunteer - wrote this in the good luck card that she gave me: "You have changed the pulse of this place. Your incredible humor, sensitivity, and brilliant sense of human awareness have contributed to a wonderful working environment. Kudos to you; the Capitol Center will love you also."

I worked with her one day a week.

What could these words possibly mean? Could there be a kernel of truth in them? Or was she sucking up - attempting to gain access to the vast fortune Carol and I have amassed over the years?

Because we gotta be rich, right? Me and Carol? Carol has been working for 46 years. I include the years she spent at home with our sons because, as beautiful a thing as that was, it was also a lot of work and an enormous responsibility.

I have been working for 40 years. I got a five year reprieve when I went to college and spent my time wisely, drinking excessively and playing pinball.

Truth be told we ain't got nuthin', so if my co-worker is after the dough she will be frustrated.

She gave me a bottle of Crown Royal. This woman I worked with one day a week and is a volunteer, gave me whiskey. I thought that was extravagant.

Another volunteer - again, a woman I worked with one day a week, wrote me a nice card and gave me a $20 gift card to the liquor store. Again, something I felt was extravagant.

Here's my point. I have been getting positive comments from co-workers for a long time. I am not trying to sound like an egotistical bastard, I a merely examining a phenomenon.

The first time it happened I was floored. I was leaving The Mitre Corporation, it was 1983 and a bunch of us were heading out for dinner and drinks. One of the guys I worked with said to me something like "You don't see it, do you?" When I asked what the hell he was talking about he said something like "the reason there are so many people here is because people want to be around you. There is something about you that draws people to you."

I never felt that, never noticed it, so I was surprised at the comment.

The next occurrence that hit me was when I was leaving YPB Library Services in 2005. I started out in the warehouse there after the business Carol and I bought went down the tubes and our life was almost destroyed. Got to know the warehouse crew.

Through a weird fluke I ended up in the accounting office, dealing with the "professionals".

On my last day, a friend from the warehouse came up to my cubicle and said "I respect you a lot because you speak to the executives the same way you speak to us on the warehouse floor."

Personally, I consider that to be the highest compliment I ever got from a co-worker.

I left the liquor commission in 2016. My co-workers gave me a $300 bottle of scotch. Three hundred fucking dollars. They gave me an oversized card signed by them, by most of the liquor distributor reps and by a lot of customers.

I got home that day, and it was a beautiful June day, poured myself a helping of scotch and sat on the screened in porch to read the comments on the card. Some of which brought tears to my eyes.

Here's the heart of the matter. I never took too much of this stuff to heart. Never let it get in my head; at least I don't think so.

BECAUSE I never believed I was being honest about who I was. I put on so much of a show to survive, that I thought people were liking me for the wrong reasons.

This time around, at the thrift store, it feels different. I exposed a lot more of who I really am. Through some strange thought process in my head it seems easier to relax in these part time situations. Maybe because it doesn't feel like our very survival depends on the job. I can probably pick up part time work anytime I want to.

So I got to thinking that maybe there is something to what these people said to me. Maybe I have something in me that people like, that makes them feel good.

Maybe I am not the phony I always thought I was.

All I know is that I feel more confidant now than I ever have.

Starting to think it is OK to like myself.