Monday, December 31, 2007

Long Time Coming

The nights are long without you. The unbearable absence of that faint aroma of ginger you seem to exude is obvious. I seek it, but find only the smell of melting ice and wetted wood. A winter spray sheets my window and there is only one breath sound I can hear here, no diametric swoosh wedded to the rise and fall of a contented bosom. My arm falls free by my side, unencumbered by your existence, empty.

I count the pores in the ceiling tiles, wondering whether you are asleep or about in your world apart. If I could, I would make you a cup of tea. If I did, it would grow cold on the nightstand, cup full. Tonight, there will be no risk-less patter to make an un-hearable rumble through the bedroom door, indistinct except for its fervent rhythm.

Instead, there is the tick tick tick of a clock, easily killed by the removal of its battery heart. My heart keeps beating even though I wish it might stop. Even though I might wish all of the sounds that replace the sounds that are you would recede forever into darkness and silence.

I hear your voice from time to time and look around. It's an hallucination or a wishful imagining. I sigh and listen harder.

The Horror

This year, in review, positively sucked. It's nice to fantasize that when midnight strokes, it all magically disappears and the Great Unravelling will suddenly stop. But what's done is done.

Truly the best friend I've ever known, in the purest and truest sense of that badge, is allegedly heart-broken over my decision to be out of touch. I made this choice because, well, the reasons are complex and since she's a reader, I won't stab her in the eye with it, but in short, because I suck as a human being and while I can manage to balance a checkbook I cannot manage to keep my promises to people that care about me. I made it because I had to.

She's a writer whose style is natural and direct and says very well what she means. In horror, I saw that every single entry in her blog has been deleted, except for the first and last two, I commented to her thusly:
Hate me if you want but don't destroy your body of work. It's history, a memorial and a celebration of that in you which is great and transcendant. Take away your words and you take away from the world sorrowful beauty and beautiful sorrow. Don't do it, please . . .

It's probably too late. When she aims at doing something, she does it and you'd better watch out, especially because she does it so well.

We've had a relationship-road strewn with rocks of contention, pointy and sharp, put there mostly by me. See, I'm a nut, so that creates problems in of itself: I'm great one week or day or hour, incredibly impossible the next month, eon, epoch. I make my apologies, but what's the diff? She's been level as marble tile, even saving my life once, though she'll only know that now if she reads this. She's endured omission, lies, fears, anger, sorrow and fear again from me and has always been stalwart, so, in return for her kindness, I told her to f*ck off.

I took a good and kind human being and tossed it (yes, I know I wrote 'it') off a figurative cliff. Just like that. Kept to my style, too. Oh, well - better watch your back when the Scorpion's looking for a lift, eh?

But to decimate her work? Terrible, just terrible and, of course, I had a hand in that though it was her decision. What the f*ck is wrong with artists, anyway? Stop chopping off the ear, would ja? And, I am heartbroken at this loss, not only because of my guilt, but because it's a tragedy compounding a tragedy and so unnecessary. And I actually don't care the argument, it's a bad move. Very bad.

So, in the Pantheon of Crappy Things That Happened This Year, that's near the top. I'm sorry to see it go - it was like a snapshot of her soul. Oh, well. Que sera, motherf*cker!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

What The H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks Do Women Want?

The question of what any of us want out of life is ages old. We know the basics. Food, sleep, safety, warmth, sex, peeing and pooping, not necessarily at the same time or all at once, either. Yup - that's Maslow's idea of a good time, I guess. The basics are hardly arguable, though some in the psych field don't ascribe and consider it too simple. Too bad, really, but I'm with Abe. The problem lies in the climb up the pyramid, to the more nebulous themes and activities of "life", since how we describe the subjective experiences we have can be and is entirely variable and valid. Okay, good so far.

Men and women are distinctly different in their goals and outlooks in every human culture on the planet. When I was a young pup, I always saw myself more in the women's camp than then men's. Wrong, wrong, wrong. And the women I've known through my life have been kind enough to humour me all along. That's because they have been, as a group, what one would expect from a woman - to be nurturing and affably condescending toward the boyishly unrealistic attitudes of men, forgiving them their follies.

Men want and will survive quite well with the base of the Maslowian pyramid. Women will not. They want more. No, wait: they want it all. And therein lies a BIG problem.

See, ladies, you can't have it all. Even if you kick all of the male portion of mankind to the figurative curb, you still can't do it all to get it all by your collective lonesomes. And, with men in the way, you can't have it all. Oh, you can try, and my poor boy brothers are made to suffer with broken hearts and souls. Even if us guys come close, it's never going to be good enough, is it? Okay, okay - sorry: you can have it all and we'll get it for you, right now. Okay?


Here's an example. Man: Sorry, the herd had been hunted to extinction and we have not enough food to migrate elsewhere. We must now prepare to die off and become extinct ourselves. Woman: Oh, no, you di-nt! You get your ass out there and you damn well better bring back some buffalo or iguana or some such sh*t right now. And donchu bring yo sorry ass back round here empty-handed neither." The cave door slams and poor Man is back out on the veldt trying to do the impossible for Woman.

But Man loves Woman, trained from birth to love Woman, need Woman and to be nurtured by Woman. Whoa, Man! Is that all there is?

Pretty much. Us Mens have to get it through out collective thick skulls that we must plod on through Ice Age, hurricane, flood, plague and alien abduction to get what the Wimmens wants - everything in all-ness. Even the Devil in Damn Yankees sings this lyric, "Whatever Lola wants Lola gets / and little man Lola wants you / make up your mind to have no regrets / resign yourself recline yourself you're through / She always gets what she aims for / and your heart and soul is what she came for" If the Devil knows this, why don't we, Brother Men?

Oh, but we do. We try to wangle our way out of it, but it's impossible, really. We want to please, to deny our personalities to please Mother. Mother Earth, Gaia, Isis, Desi - so forceful is the power of Woman that man literally idolizes her. But is that enough? Nope! See, cause, like, they want it all. Being Goddesses and all, they will have it, won't they.

Look, Gents. Let's not belabour the point, especially since I just know my future love-mate will be calling my name any second for a refill of her Bon Bon tray. Women are forceful and reposing and emotionally deadly. Better get them "all" or you're in for it. Big Time. Kids, love, house, car, vacation, spa, you, family, peace, love, tranquility, esteem, protection, safety, danger, goodness, love, dirty-dog badness, surprise, stability, excitement. Oh, and that three carat VS-1 rock. And, and, and. And you know you want to and you know you will. So, get to work. Stand and deliver. You know you want to. Before it's too late.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Taking A Dip

There really is no point in trying to continue. I try so hard, but I know now I will never "fit in." I can only pretend, play the role and mostly be a distant participant. This is the die that's been cast.

Warning To Self: The next time you think it's even-ing out, forget it. It's a fluke or you're deluding yourself. Don't involve yourself with others unless you can manage to admit to yourself, once and for all, that you will hurt them and that it's okay. You don't deserve love as you will only destroy it. You only deserve a cold emptiness, a void and you must be true to the emotional cipher you are. Anything else is a lie.

Print that out and wear it on your forehead, like Cain, as a warning to others.

You are the Scorpion, hence it only makes sense that you can stab yourself in the back. Tell the others and make them run.

So, you're a reader or, more alarmingly, someone who knows me. Well, now you know more- govern yourself accordingly. I'm going to go watch the Weather Channel and fall asleep in my clothes. Maybe tomorrow, well, maybe tomorrow will never come.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

My Christmas List

Christmas is a sentimental time. I have a list this Christmas, but it's not for Santa. Well, maybe just a little.

I miss . . .

my child's magic ages, though she's still generates new magic with each passing year.
my lost love and unbroken heart.
my youth and the opportunities that come along with the foolishness of that age.
the sense that I am not alone, that I have at a person who loves me by my side.
my mother, who loved me unconditionally, no matter how stupidly I behaved.
the chance to go back in time and do it again, perhaps wrongly but with the knowledge that change was possible.
the laughter of friends I once knew.
the freedom to be free.
moments I tossed away in lieu of goals that were in the end meaningless.
I broke my own heart by not doing the "more" I wish I had known how to do when I had to know it. I know that from here on in, my regrets will be many and that the innocence of pure love is no longer mine to have. Plod I will, empty, broken, but there's no one to blame but myself. There's no new life, no renewed future time. The torch is passed.

I hope . . .

that love finds those whom I love and who don't love me.
that I am never less than human in the eyes of my child.
that I do the right thing whatever the personal cost.
that I forget all that causes me tears but not the lessons of those events.
that you will never know me.

That's my list. Have a happy . . .

My Christmas Message To You

Dear Friends and Gentle Readers;

Another year has come and passed. So much has happened, both in my microcosmic life and in the world outside. Kings have fallen, nations have been destroyed, loved ones have become disaffected, fuel costs are at nearly inaccessible heights. And Brittany Spears' little sister is preggers. Well, at least White Trash remains a constant.

In the rushing about during the week preceding Christmas, I've seen many wonders and signs. Perhaps the most significant event, one that I've given much thought to, was the case of the exploding turkey.

Here's what happened - I was there as witness: I was driving down the on-ramp to Road 15, on my way to work. Road 15 is a four-laner with two northbound and two southbound lanes. Surrounding the highway are well-sloped hills that are coated in white and etched with the gray-brown winter shells of trees that abound like hairs on a pig. During my turn, I could see on the far slope a bird racing, headlong, wings outstretched, directly perpendicular to the road. The outcome seem assured. The bird, whose species I quickly recognized as some sort of turkey, though I'm not sure if it was Butterballus Shopritus or ShadyFarmus Pathmarkia, clearly either intended to run the gauntlet of SUVs and Walmart-bound trucks only to arrive at the other side, unscathed, pointing a feathery limb at his hidden friends on the side he had left behind, laughing a turkey-laugh and gobbling "chicken" or some other unseemly turkey epithet or had just had enough and intended suicide by Goodyear.

I cheered him on as I made my final approach. He was madly resolute. He made it to the first portion of pavement and, without interrupting either his pace or the rhythm of traffic, made it across and onto the barren, icy median. Using lift from his outstretched wings, he continued to barrel toward the southbound lanes and he made it at the same moment as a white Toyota pickup truck arrived at his location, intersecting perfectly.

The turkey exploded in feathers, his turkey neck and turkey head shooting off in one direction while his partially denuded body rolled down the road like a fleshy bowling ball, finally veering into the man-made ravine that was the median. The truck neither slowed not stopped. Hey - I was late for work, okay? I thought, "Wow - what a spectacular way to go. Just like Fourth of July."

The image of the exploding turkey stuck with me and I shared the story with a number of people. One analysis saw it as a sign to slow down, take life at a more rustic pace. I thought that interesting but I also recognised that there are no shortage of Toyota pickups. This realization I kept to myself. I thereafter enjoyed a preponderance of pondering, wondering in part what was going through that bird's pea-sized brain and the moment it took off on its east-west trajectory. Was it pressure from the flock? A failure to adequately establish his turkey identity? A fear of flying? What?

I'm not sure that I could ever know that, but I am sure I could pick a fictitious scenario to anthropomorphousize the poor bird. After all, what one of us has not felt at least once, in the dark recesses of the dingy closets of our minds, the absolute terror that would be so easily relieved by a walk into interstate traffic? We choose to dodge the plummeting hazards and continue on. Oh, yes, some of us don't make it, instead becoming a stain on chrome, but most of us plod on. Plod, not race headlong. I think that this is the difference.

How careful is too careful? Isn't there too much importance placed on the truly insignificant trails and trials of daily consciousness? Why not race headlong into the unknowable?

There are too many answers. Fear, lifelong training, for want of a better term, guilt, ineffability. Reasons, excuses, too, all. To race through life and explode at the end like it's the grande finale of the Macy's Firework's Show - now what could be more elegant than that?

So, my Holiday Message to you is this: don't be a clown - be a punk. Jump into the brawl with knuckles flashing white, blue and crimson. Don't take no for an answer unless it's exactly the answer you want. Kick 'em while they're down. Turn the dial to eleven. Because tough ain't enough, baby, and you've got to make it count. After all, there's a white Toyota out there, somewhere, and it's got your name on it. You can count on that.


Best wishes to my readers, friends, innumerable lovers and suppliers of mood-altering events. I hope that this coming year will bring you the fortitude to go forth onto this good earth and do shit. God bless . . .

A Bit O'bit

Once upon a time, there was a boy whom no one liked. He wasn't a bad boy. In fact, he did his best to do the most to make and keep friends and keep those friends at least moderately interested. He struggled with the handicap of forthrightness, though, and never could master the art of the wink.

His friends had come in waves, found, lost, found, then lost. Tall ones, fat ones, smart ones, starry-eyed ones: the variety seemed dazzling. All these friends in part or in whole meant something to him in a deeper way, he knew, than he would ever be remembered by them. He saw he was merely an outrigger, the perpetual third wheel, a chill wind, a gnat.

He knew that he should have learned the skills he needed to jostle his friends into place so that they would be there when he needed them. Instead, he failed at this schoolyard lesson and fought to be absolute. Only, his friends didn't like that. This abrogated their power politic and that would not stand as, silly boy, there could be no equality in a relationship, no true give and take unless the favours were of a sultry variety.

One day, after years of frustration at failing to learn what had come so easily to his peers, he met another that was just like him. Slightly unhinged, this new friend wailed and railed with him at the injustices of man and society. They regaled the world with their pent-up anger and hatred for the pain the unmeek visited upon those who, let's face it, would never inherit the earth.

They are to be buried together at Mount Olive this Tuesday, Christmas Day, death due to unnatural, soul-damning causes. They will not be remembered except for the undefined discomfort they caused. They are survived by absolutely no one nor will they be missed. Deus Caritas Est.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

And So It Begins . . .

Another weekend, another reign of terror from She Who Must Be Obeyed. Am I really that bad of a person? I don't think so . . . but then . . .

So, the usual pattern is employed. Pick her up at the train station because she's "sick." The quart of Foster's she was lugging along with the bags of household papers she carries with her everywhere, as I am a criminal waiting to seize her innermost secrets, apparently, maybe that fine brew had something to do with it. An hour of occasional snipes topped off with "take my goddamn name off the insurance" as a final throat-slash was the script of torture for this trip.

This morning - use the child to rouse me, get ready and wait, wait, wait. Good thing I loaded the garbage into the car in the freezing cold last night otherwise it wouldn't get done today, either. I've been ready for two hours. Then, the phone calls begin. Mind you, I'm fifty feet away. But you can't say "conversation over" and hang up after every call when you're face to face, can you, nor can you hide body language, right? So, the pawn, I mean, the child is used to pass messages, to which I say, "No, S, don't tell me. Your Mom will tell me a little later, okay?" She's not to be used in any way, especially that way.

If this was all a surprise, I'd be extremely upset already. But, I know the pattern. Here's the blasting music, another phone call and so forth. I'm sure as soon as I get downstairs, I'll see a trail of clothes that I'd neatly folded before on the floor. Oh, there's a text. What a surprise! The assault begins!!! In a nice tone : "S will be ready in a few minutes & I am ready now. R u?" Can't use that in court . . . but what it really means is "Unload the garbage because I have to stop at the post office, bank and then YOU'LL make S late."

Yeah, okay. Love is a many splendored thing. Blow me.

Oh, the horror . . .

Catch and Release

Well, another year has gone by and I've manage to do it yet again. I've somehow alienated everyone I know. How do I do it?

It's the honesty - people just can't take it. Oh, well. I can't help those who refuse help, now, can I?

Woke up this mornin'
I heard a sound
It was my daughter
she done come around
She say daddy let's go
I have a plan
to shop till I drop and then
to call my boyfriend Stan

I've got the teenage parent blues
why won't they just settle down?
Those old parent blues
keeps me from running around . . .

But this lyric is more to my liking. It shows that the more things change, the more they stay the same . . . from the early '80's:
I want somebody to share
Share the rest of my life
Share my innermost thoughts
Know my intimate details
Someone who'll stand by my side
And give me support
And in return
She'll get my support
She will listen to me
When I want to speak
About the world we live in
And life in general
Though my views may be wrong
They may even be perverted
She will hear me out
And won't easily be converted
To my way of thinking
In fact she'll often disagree
But at the end of it all
She will understand me

I want somebody who cares
For me passionately
With every thought and with every breath
Someone who'll help me see things
In a different light
All the things I detest
I will almost like
I don't want to be tied
To anyone's strings
I'm carefully trying to steer clear
Of those things
But when I'm asleep
I want somebody
Who will put their arms around me
And kiss me tenderly
Though things like this
Make me sick
In a case like this
I'll get away with it

(Published, EMI)

Yup. Can't tell me a gotdamn thang. Sheet.

Rave Reviews or How I Polished The Turd

Here's a review from another writer (a real one, not just someone with a pen) about my latest entries:

"You know, I was wondering when you'd get back to You. I liked your Son House piece, but your own 'goods' are much more compelling. Less distance, less in general. This last entry is really concise and polished. You should be proud."

F*ck you, you condescending prick.

How's that for concise? Ha, ha - just kidding! Keep 'em coming, byotch!

Okay, okay. If you want to see how a real writer writes good, read this link (no, not the link itself, silly, the copy after the jump! Geez!

My comment for your article, Andy, is as follows:

Andy's writing is always concise and polished. And thorough. And a good read. Okay? Now: Apples are more stable than their Windows cousins and are easier to support. IT purchasing decisions for our government are rooted in the almost distant past and will, some day, take into account that today's Macs and PCs are kissin' cousins, especially in terms of apps and support. What is a Mac except a super-secure Unix box with a very stable, time-tested interface. The Linux dweebs at GSA just have to keep banging away at their superiors and, one day, when those people die or retire, it will be Macs for all. By the way, I'm an IT expert that would rather service an army of Macs than PCs, and I was brought up under IBM mainframe technology. So, there.

Friday, December 21, 2007

So It's Like That, Huh . . .

Ho, ho, ho.

I have so much to put down on paper, or pixels, as the technology of today would have it, that I could probably spend all my time writing and never actually stop to experience anything. And that's just non-fiction. In fact, I was just complaining to myself, since I'm too irritating to be listened to by many for long, all this blogging crap has put a serious dent in my fiction writing effort.

Oh, come on. That's just an excuse. I've been writing the same book for ten years. I should put it together already. Ya know - that's a good idea! No time like the present! Bye!

Just kidding. In this blog, I can write in whatever voice is mine at the moment and no, I don't mean that I'm hearing voices, okay? It means that if I feel justified in hating humanity, and who isn't, I can speak that from the heart. If I want to profess my undying, juvenile canine, Archies, touch-me-there love for you, no prob. It's stream, river, waterfall, aquifer and sewer of consciousness all at once.

Now, I've felt myself wanting to self-censor but, so far, I've basically held back. This is me. Really me. And there's a chilling effect on the creative process where self-suppression is involved. In other words, if I have to tailor what I write here to avoid scorching the psyche of a friend or loved one, it ain't gonna work and I might as well write only ad copy. But this was a lesson I was taught by another writer. Wasn't my idea. I'd rather say whatever the hell I want and never see or read the flip-side. Oh, come on, now. You're no different.

I read my own stuff here and am amused, bemused and righteously satisfied. Sometimes I write things I wish I hadn't, but they are left to stand. I read other writers' blogs and they sometimes reference me and my lovable quirkiness. I mentioned my dismay - okay, I totally lost my kool, yo - at something I read. Guess what? I READ IT WRONG and not only embarrassed myself but quelled the writer's sense of freedom in doing the blog. When I realized this, I said to myself, "Self, y'all ain't doing that no mo. You will force creative production into obscurity." Since then, I've read things that made me uncomfortable but I haven't said a word. The writing stands on its own and I'm honoured to be written about anyhow. Plus, I would fight tooth and pencil for not only this writer's write and right to say whatever needed to be said, but I'd do it for that Nazi over there and that racist to the left and that ditzy schoolgirl in the back and anyone else who had the sizzling need to put thoughts into the ether for all to see. You go, girl, boy, android, whatev!

So here I sit, sipping a fine sherry, just like that pop songster whose name escapes me right now, as most names continue to do, is doing when he's watching that girl in a particular shade of blue who looks like you but is not you or whatever. Very annoying song. In fact, I was quite impress with him when his first record (ha) came out but have since realized that he's shallow and skilled only in the way a porn star has skills.

I have a laundry list of things to write about. This has been a week the folks in Lake Woebegon would likely rather forget. I know I would. To sum up:
  • my mother took the long vacation
  • my brother made it clear I am little more than a dust bunnie in the "family" as he continues his fantasy of morphing into Michael Corleone
  • my I-wish-she-was-my-ex-already has gone native and has totally left the reservation
  • I may go to Germany - for a year
  • Secret Santa was good to me. He apparently wants me to take up drinking on the run
  • I saw a wild turkey explode
  • Pink gloves are harder to find than you might think
  • I've made an important decision about my girlfriend. Oh, boy.

So, there's a lot to write about. Whether I'll be able to get to it all, I just don't know. But, write I shall, just as soon as I pick up that dog poo over there. Excuse me while I kiss this guy. Wha na na wha na na, wha na na . . .

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Poor Junior - You Must Be Pooped!!

Junior is a god. He well knows what I found out: the chics like smooth-talking slim guys! Don't worry, I won't tell anyone that you're really CIA! Ooops . . .

Courtesy of Birnley and my very own dangerous mind . . .

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's Huge

Good news! No, it has nothing to do with saving money with GEICO, although I must commend them on what is possibly one of the most brilliant ad campaigns in history. My erection - it's BAACK! F*ckin' yay!

What's the big deal, you ask? Well, it's like this: I started taking Lexspro, an SSRI and SNRI, about 18 months ago. This was meant to help me deal with depression relating to my imploded marriage, anger and social anxiety issues. In the interim, I had CBT, or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which is meant to help me help myself look at things differently so that I could be happier. I guess.

The CBT most definitely works. I have tools now that were absent before. In truth, I'm not "cured" since it's an ongoing process, but I do have those tools . . . Although, looking at this blog in recent days shows that the Lexapro is certainly trickling out of my system . . .

Why? Well, I ran out of money and my new health insurance just got approved, so I ran out of drugs, man. Good and bad. Just like the drug. The good part of Lexapro is that my Social Anxiety Disorder and obsessive thinking (whymwohgodwhymewhatsgoingtohappennexttheskyisfalling) disappeared. The bad part is that my dick function disappeared, too. Naturally, my dozens and dozens of girlfriends (ha, ha, see?) were sorely, or not so sore, after all, disappointed, to say the least. Size may not matter (lies!) but inflation does!

This entire class of drugs destroys in some (they say, though it seems that it's in all cases) libido and sexual function. That doesn't mean that one doesn't want to have sex, intellectually speaking. It simply means that if it's a choice between crocheting and marinating the ol' man-meat, it's knit-one, pearl-two. Get it? Good.

Further, the meat missile simply doesn't respond to stimulation. If it does, elevation is short-lived and weak. Medical facts. Further further, orgasm is next to impossible. Believe me, I've tried. Knit-one.

So, the Lexapro has been leaching out of my system. Okay - it doesn't quite work like that and it takes months to get back to a stable, pre-SSRI state. In some people, the CHANGE IS PERMANENT. Yow! So, I was surprised when my member decided, of its own accord, to mimic a mass-transit bus hand hold and generate stiffness that, well, I frankly missed very much.

Like a new toy, I just had to take it out of the box and try it out. Shiite, it works! I nearly danced a jig. Had I done so, my flesh hammer would have swung about like a divining rod, I'm sure. That was easy!

Not satisfied (heh heh) with this one time performance, I challenged my hat hook to a Second Coming. Get yer mind out da gutter! I just wanted to see, okay? OMFG! It worked AGAIN! I pinged it and it sprung back. I slammed it against my desk surface (at home, okay) and it resonated with a very satisfying thunk-thunk. I did The Helicopter. I did some break-dancing with it. Okay, maybe not the last part, but yay anyway.

So, now I have a perfectly good population-paste shooter ready for action. Any takers? Oh, wait a minute, that was rude. My girlfriend should have the right of first refusal . . . oh, honey . . . .

So easy a cavemen could do it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Quit It, Woudja?

My name is (fill in your name here,) and I'm a Smoker. (Room replies, "Hello, [your name.]" I hate smoking. It sucks. It sucks the life out of me and my penis. It sucks money out of my wallet. It sucks the scent of Fresh Linen out of my closet. It sucks the new car smell out of my new car. It just plain sucks.

But I can't stop.

My mother died of cancer. My brother has prostate cancer. I will likely have cancer because a) I smoke and b) I worked in the plastics industry for 25 years. By smoking, I increase my risk from "possibly" to "yeah, unh-huh, gonna die a horrible, painful death."

But I can't f*cking stop.

I've tried drugs. Wellbutrin, Almost made me lose my mind - no, wait, it DID make me lose my mind. But I quit. For three days. Three days out of thirty-plus years of smoking.

Cigarettes make me gag. I smoke them anyway. Or, do they smoke me? Yeah, that's it. They are smoking me the way an anti-hero in Miami Vice would smoke a good guy.

A highly-neurotic artist friend of mine says that it's because I hate myself but that I'm in too much denial to actually commit suicide directly. So, I punish myself. Could be. Or it could be that she's barking mad.

It could be that I'm lazy. Each pack is my last, but the timing is never right. Just one more, just one more. Pitiful, actually. Could be that it's part of my "rebel" and "punk" personality. Could be that I'm just a hopeless addict.

My barking-mad artist friend says that everyone has an addicition. I say she has an addiction to sweeping platitudes and generalisations, and to pop psychiatry. F*ck that. How do I quit?

Last year, I joined a local QuitNet campaign. They sent me annoying e-mails that MADE ME WANT TO SMOKE. Now, I work with Germans who are avid smokers. WTF? A friend of a friend just had quad bypass surgery and has been a heavy, Lucky Strike-type smoker for more years than he could remember. A woman I work with, who's had three rounds of chemo, no hair, lost 200 pounds over 18 months (she's looking good for a cancer patient) and a f*cking bone marrow transplant actually says her doctor thinks it's okay for her to smoke 5-6 cigarettes a day rather than endure the stress of quitting. Sound like the good ol' Doc isn't giving you the whole story, babe. Anyway, all of this should make me want to quit even more.

I had a doctor, a cardiologist, when I was in my early 20's. He would examine me and then take me into his office to let me know that my X-rays were okay - for now. I should probably quit smoking, though. On his desk were three or four packs of Pall Malls, some open, and one crumpled pack in an ashtray heaped with butts. You should talk, I thought. The next time I called to make an appointment for an annual check-up, he was dead. Well, duh! I guess he couldn't quit either.

So: I'm at the cusp of a New Year. My mother has taken The Long Vacation, courtesy of the Big C. I think I should get my act together and crumple up my last pack of Mavericks when that last butt is done.

Nah. What then would I have to write about this time next year?

Urban Brigand

It was brought to my attention in a discussion of urban legends and myths that some things are too stupid to be real and some things have never been heard and so, can't be true. Take the tale of Jodee Berry, a former Hooters waitperson (sorry, must be PC here, I guess, in order to avoid a lawsuit.) She alleged that her employer scammed her out of the prize of a car for pushing the most beer in a contest at her job. Here's the actual newspaper clipping:
Now, there are variants of this story, but I'm going to believe that a) it's true and b) AP may get it wrong but they're not going to take their rep as a news organization and Onion it.

The good news is that Ms. Berry, despite her unlikely qualities as a Hooters professional, did win a settlement. AP followed up thusly:

Former Hooters Waitress Settles Toy Yoda Lawsuit
The Associated Press ^ | May 9, 2002 | AP staff

Posted on 05/09/2002 1:50:36 PM PDT by jpthomas

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) - A former waitress has settled a lawsuit against Hooters, which she said promised to award her a new Toyota but instead gave her a toy Yoda.

An attorney for Jodee Berry said Wednesday that he could not immediately disclose the settlement's details.

"She's satisfied with it," said the attorney, David Noll. He did say that Berry can now go to a local car dealership and "pick out whatever type of Toyota she wants."

Berry, 27, won a beer sales contest in last May at the Panama City Beach Hooters. She believed she had won a new Toyota car.

She was blindfolded and led to the restaurant parking lot, but when the blindfold was removed, she found she was the winner of a toy Yoda Star Wars doll.

Berry quit the restaurant a week later and filed a lawsuit in August against Gulf Coast Wings, Inc., the corporate owner of the local Hooters, alleging breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation.

The restaurant's manager, Jared Blair, has said the whole contest was an April Fools' joke.

This settlement is unusual in that Hooters did not ask for a sweeping confidentiality agreement, Noll said.

"I think that's a recognition of the fact that there's been such an amazing amount of attention focused on this case," he said. "There's not a whole lot of reason to try to hide its existence."

AP-ES-05-09-02 0155EDT

So, she was able to Pimp Her Ride. Yay. My question is this: is she learning-challenged, given Hooters reputation for silly, sophomoric publicity stunts, or did Hooters willingly commit a fraud against her?

According to my sources, the terms of the contest were not published. Nevertheless, did Ms. Berry have a reasonable expectation of the nature of the prize to be awarded? Could the new "Toy Yoda" not be a new Toyota - Hot Wheels, image, ashtray? She could have said, "You mean if we sell 100 million gallons of beer this month, we will win a new Toyota automobile of our choice, without further cost to us, without obligation or signage (advertising to be carried on the vehicle, typical of vehicles awarded in promotions)?" In other words, who on this planet doesn't check the dental records of that equine reward?

Okay, so she just assumed. In law, it's said that ambiguity is the responsibility of the draughtsman, meaning that a contract or offering, statute or other private or public law instrument should be thorough in covering all aspects of the matter in question. We all know that the absence of such thoroughness is the stuff of lawsuits and loopholes. So, she worked hard for the money - after all, it is a waittressing job, oop, I mean Waitpersoning job, which means not only be consistently courteous, a good salesperson, customer relationship manager and Go-Fer, but also means being on one's feet for eight hours, running back and forth and wearing short-shorts to boot. An ex-waitress I know says that it is more than just hard work, It can be demeaning, what with cooks insisting on the waitress' juicy-ness and all, short pay, bad tips and rotating shifts. It sure sounds like a suck-ass job to me. So, regardless of whether you think Hooters wait-persons are bimbos or whatever, they are working people, real people, who would rather be sitting in an office just like yours rather than working their arses off pushing beer to the ultimate benefit of the franchise holder. So, yeah, I'd be pissed and yeah, I think the company should have made it clear rather than condescend to the employees. In that respect, they breached their responsibility to their employee and her assumption can stand as is.

If you think about it, Ms. Berry may have said, "Oh, hell, no. This isn't only about the car that I need to get my sick mother to dialysis on Tuesdays (or whatever she wanted it for, or even if she wanted it just because - ed,) it's the principle of the thing." And she'd be right. Ha, ha. Look at the stupid waitress. We fooled her. Ha ha. Not funny. Not at all. Not on top of everything else the working person has to endure. So, she marched her little booty down to the lawyers' office and did what any patriotic Merkan would do - she sued. And won. Good for you, Ms. Berry.

You might call it a stupid lawsuit or a waste of taxpayer's money. Well, taxpayers don't pay for private law suits - it's a civil matter between two private parties. Further, it can be assumed that both Hooters and Ms. Berry are taxpayers and they have the right to public facilities, in terms of a public courts system, which, by the way, is not without its fees. And, since when is defending your own sense of respect in the workplace stupid? Better ask yourself that the next time you brown-nose someone, as you know you will, at work in order to keep the friction down, get ahead, keep your job or whatever. If you put yourself in her shoes, you might have to admit that it's gutsy to stand up and say, "I mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." (This link has the entire text of Howard Beale's classic speech from the 1976 visionary masterpiece, Network, written by Paddy Chayefsky.)

Enough of the righteous pontification. I started out talking about Urban Myths. This is most certainly legendary, but not because Ms. Berry is a dum-dum. Once descended to the status of Urban Legend, the value of her response, if taken in my speculative but likely context, is dimunuated, compounding disrespect for a fellow worker, a fellow human. Her tsouris is mitigated into entertainment. It can't have been very entertaining for her, now, could it?

The other legend/myth has to do with Eric Clapton and the song, Layla. My good friend asked whether I knew the original of the song and whether there was any truth to that story. Having been alive at the time, I felt sure that I would have heard about it. I said that it sounded like a Myth, but it wasn't a Space Alien-type of thing, and so, it could use some research. Here's what I found, courtesy of USA Today:
  • “After failing to win Boyd through emotional blackmail (by writing the song Layla), Clapton threatened to take heroin full time, though he was already addicted.
  • Once he did lure Boyd from Harrison, he lost interest and banished her from tours. “I was off having one-night stands and behaving outrageously. … My moral health was in appalling condition.”
Well, there you have it. Just because you didn't hear about it when it happened doesn't make it false. And, just because you have some of the facts, doesn't mean you can draw a conclusion. Unless you're lazy. Lazy like me.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Life Sucks and Then You Die

My mother died yesterday. She had lately discovered that she had colon cancer and that it had metastisized to her pancreas, liver and left lung. She was 82. February 26th was her next birthday. I won't have to worry about what to get her, I guess.

This entry is more about the shock and awe I'm experiencing at how totally alone I am. I had a vague notion that I'm mostly tolerated even by those who purport love and affection, but I truly had no idea. Now, I know, and it's not too wonderful.

I got a call from my sister-in-law at about eight in the A of M. The first sylable she uttered told me what I had to know. I was exhausted after having shopped at Pathmark at four in the morning the night before and after having worked 12 hours straight before that. Further, I had to stop taking Lexapro last week because I simply ran out of money and couldn't afford the prescription. So, I was in possibly the worst place I could be to hear news that was actually bad and that was immutable, not like "you got a parking ticket" bad or "sorry, we're downsizing the department" bad.

It's true that I'd come to a series of healthy intellectual conclusions about my mother's impending demise. She was elderly. She had a aortic aneuyrism that should have killed her two years ago but somehow, it stopped its balooning path and waited. She had bladder cancer that was "cured" with radioactive seeding but cancer is cancer.

The medical fact is that once you have a predisposition to any disease, there's a likelyhood that it will recur in one form or another, if initially "cured." Also, ask any doctor and they'll tell you that cancers of even the most benign variety are never cured, only put to sleep in the form of remission. Only outside parasitical invasions, such as infections borne be contact with animals, carriage via some other vector and so forth can be cured in the sense that those organisms are in a foreign host, namely, the human under attack, and can be killed or asked politely to leave.

So, my mother was slated to die, as we all must, except for those of you out there who are the blood-sucking vampirist night-dwelling undead, and that was a fact. Is a fact, as she's quite stone-cold dead right now, with no resurrection in sight. In my naivete, I thought I would be able to turn to my "friends" for support if I felt I needed it. I also thought that I was ready for her to die. Wrong on both counts.

I didn't exactly fold like an unstarched shirt. My reaction is mostly anger. Yes, I cried and cried with my daughter and almost cried at the funeral "home" when I heard my brother say in a crying, broken voice, "bye, mommie, i love you, my mommie" and it makes me cry now becuase I understand that loss. Mommie is just that always - a confidant, a spy, an encourager and defender, a gatherer and bringer of hot, tasty snacks. I'm glad I told her everything I needed to, even if I thought she might not have listened, but I knew she always heard. So, that's lost. The door is closed. I miss it even though that hasn't been our relationship for thirty years.

Day Two - Reaction and Review

Some hours have passed since I've written this. The reactions I've gotten from "friends" is like so:

Crazed Ex-Wife: "Some people can suffer grief, depression and life-changing events without being abusive." This was a text in response to my not wanting to go out a buy a Christmas tree 24 hours after my mother kicked. I also begged for her to leave me alone. Instead, she called me, taunted me and sent me 40+ text messages over the course of Sunday. Stupid git.

Horny Polack: "Yeah, that's a shame. I'm getting my tires rotated right now (on his 2007 Mercedes SUV) - can I call you next week?" Saved this fucker's life twice. Twice. Yeah, you can call me. Prick.

Neurotic Artist Friend: "Now's not a really good time for me. I'm having a really bad day (which is every other day, by the way and sometimes twice a day, though I'm not sure how that's possible -ed) and I need some space. Not a good time to talk to me." Maybe so, but a good time to reconsider chemical therapy. God.

Brother: " " No, that's not a typo.

C: In essence, "I'm devasted by your devastation, but I'm here for you." And she was. All day, all night, in my car, in the death room, at the Funereal Home, all in spirit, sensing, somehow magically, where I was and what I needed to hear, testing, feeling for the disturbance in The Force. Telling me gentle, funny stories, waiting for me to be composed enough to say the word that choked me. Leaving the door wide open and not waiting. No voice mail. Every text answered with a text. Every call returned. All her words carefully considered, weighed, real. Altruistically, without any sense of obligation - a pure soul, acting out of the best motives. A guardian angel, an artist of the soul, a true friend showing true love. I can never repay her kindness adequately. She alone, though this, is an inspiration. Since she believes in G-d, I have to assert that God should bless her mightily and us humans will do the rest. And die trying. Promise.

M: Thanks for that call back after your complaint. Thanks for making me feel guilty about asking you to talk to me via text and two messages. Yeah, that's not really what I call support. Maybe death frightens you: I know it frightens me. Maybe I frighten you - take heart as you're not the only one. So, I chalk it up to you needing to have even more distance than you've already orchestrated. You got it. Okay - I'm really pissed at you. Hope you can take it in that spirit rather than a total condemnation. I forgive those who know not what they do, being that I'm an arrogant ass and all.

P, R, et al: Your day will come. Lowlifes. "Too bad, but she was old, right?"

Rudi: I hardly know you and you're a work-mate but, next to C, you've been supportive and helpful and real, especially with the painful relation of the stories about your own mother's cancer death. You are a good person and I thank you for checking on me when you really didn't have to.

Shel: You don't read this blog but you've supported me in your angelic way, with hugs, kisses, sobs and tears. You are simply the best and I love you very much. Through you, I've inherited the understanding of the love a parent has for a child and vice versa. I can only hope to be the parent to you that my Mom was to me.

So, the whole point of this blog entry is this: Like Kirk, we all die alone. Sometimes, we live alone, too, except for the few gems that make it not so alone-y. Once you're dead, those who remain may suffer. It is, after all, the human condition.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Party Like It's 2008

Don't you wish it was over? The "X"mas marketing that started just after Memorial Day, it seems, shopping till you're broke, inane company parties with people that will likely hate you just as much tomorrow as they did this afternoon, traffic jams, parking tickets, disappointed kids, stressed-out spouses, too much bad food, food poisoning, exhaustion, tree fires, pets dead from drinking the tree water which is why the tree dried out and caught fire to begin with, frozen homeless people, troops getting blown up overseas without relent, Lite radio stations pounding out an endless stream of songs you wish would just f*cking stop, celebrities buying their dogs even MORE bling for XMas, school shootings, alcoholism and suicide at all time highs . . .

Ho, ho, ho. Blech.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

I Think of You Always

I think of you always, in little practical ways, in grandiose, impossible ways, in private and intimate moments that are yet to be or perhaps to exist only in my imagination.

Children sometimes love their gifts too much. They can wear them down, lose a button or a wheel or scratch off the paint, but their love for it will never pass away. Through this, they learn the value of things and that such things will one day turn to splinters or rags. As time passes, they can ascribe that experience of attrition to people rather than things and learn that a cherished person never goes lost or broken, to be relegated to a shadow of a memory. Instead, they must polish that gift, the gift of the heart and protect it for all that is real and unique in it.

Now, I think of the love you've lost, perhaps just a bit, and how I can never replace it but how I can add to it anew. I may be willing, but I doubt my own ability to succeed. I love my gifts too much, too. I want to hide them under my bed and never take them out for fear they might be broken through my lack of understanding in how they work or what they need to keep working. I am an apprentice without a mentor, meant to find my own way as one of the last lost.

I still smell you and lament that I am neither here nor there, wondering not which way to travel but instead, which map to consult. You may or you may not, but I always will.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

My Ghost Is A Machine

As you might have noticed, there has been a paucity of posts here since last month. I got a new job, after months of hunting and suffering. It's a good place, even if it does feed into my need to work far too much.

Over-work is not an altogether bad thing if one likes what one does. However, I'm working 12 and 13 hour days and am not getting enough sleep, enough to eat nor am I spending any time with my kid. Further, my ex is totally, unashamedly insane, to wit:

  • 301.00 Paranoid Personality Disorder

According to the DSM-IV-TR, this disorder is characterized by a pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others such that their motives are interpreted as malevolent, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:

  • Suspects, without sufficient basis, that others are exploiting, harming, or deceiving him or her
  • Is preoccupied with unjustified doubts about the loyalty or trustworthiness of friends or associates
  • Is reluctant to confide in others because of unwarranted fear that the information will be used maliciously against him or her
  • Reads hidden demeaning or threatening meanings in benign remarks or events
  • Persistently bears grudges, i.e., is unforgiving of insults, injuries, or slights
  • Perceives attacks on his or her character or reputation that are not apparent to others and is quick to react angrily or to counterattack
  • Has recurrent suspicions, without justification, regarding fidelity of spouse or sexual partner.

Exclusionary conditions:

  • Does not occur exclusively during the course of a mood disorder with psychotic features, schizophrenia, or another psychotic disorder.
  • Is not due to the direct physiological effects of a general medical condition.
Thanks, again, Wikipedia.

So, it's been fun. But I have been catching up on bills, getting ready to get the lawyer mobilized, actually thinking about Christmas, seeing my doctor in two weeks about "medication" (heh, heh, heh!) and movin' on up.

But sitting here (at my new job), I can sense the living factory around me. The myriad machine noises and rhythms and in particular, one machine that sounds like a CD injection moulding press opening and cycling. And it makes me a little sad that my time as an industrialist has past. I miss feeling the pulse of my machines making product because I made it happen. I miss the hub-bub and insanity, the nearly-unhinged pendulum of business swinging back and forth, chopping out windfalls of profit and dearths of success in an alternating rhythm I had come to understand so well.

About this time, 23 years ago, my partner and I started with just under $100 grand in cash and built four companies from the ground up. Too bad I got scared. We would have made it, I think. Oh, well. I have the machine to remind me, to comfort me and to serve as a warning against risks taken, ignored and borne. "Do it," it grumbles.