Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Let's Face It

Today I didn't have to put on my work face. It's still hanging up in my office, to be used tomorrow morning. Today I had a respite from being Mr. Bearded Bookstore Guy, because I worked last Saturday thus giving me today free. Mr. Bearded Bookstore Guy was home reading him own damn book for a change. So, today was a kick-back day. I had to move the car from the street to the back parking spot, to avoid getting towed or ticketed. Been there. Done that. Other than that brief drive, I laid low, reading a novel, smoking some fine Pacific Northwest herb, and taking a long afternoon nap. No gym visits, or double tall mocha. No hustle and bustle, through the busy city streets, as if every motion had a purpose.

I didn't have to put on my parent face today either, although it's always nearby. Parenting itself is a breeze compared to the parenting negotiations that go on with my ex-wife. Wasn't it the late Rodney King who said, "Why can't we all just be on the same page?" Okay...but what if that page is from an out-of-date textbook that should have been burnt to a cinder long ago? Oh, I endorse book burning, believe me. If it's a cold winter night, there's no better kindling than a stack of books from Fox "authors" and then throw in a few Bill Bennett pedantic tomes for the long burn. 

No parenting face, although I did wear my hubby outfit for the day. It's the third edition of this particular model of husband. It tries hard, but always seems to be a step behind. No lawn mowing for model 3.0 of the Mark husband. He does his own laundry and is low maintenance when it comes to feeding. Just leave him a few weeks worth of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and he won't break down and become irritable (or get "kitchen dick.") He's orally inclined, but is not much of a handyman around the house. Beggars can't be choosers.

Now for the moment, I am home alone. I don't even hear Joe Pesci or Daniel Stern bumbling about outside. I'm listening to some Neil Young ("Change Your Mind" from the Sleeps With Angels album.) It's just me and my original face, my Buddha presence. That's when the words come out. That's when the truth unfolds and I have to consider all of my faces in an attempt to decode my soul. There are facts, truths and statements, and sometimes I can't tell one from the other. I always yearn to be truthful, most of all with myself, but I am biased. Everything goes through the Mark sensory filters, even the views of myself.

Sometimes when I look at the mirror, I see a grizzled, but vaguely handsome individual with a reputation for kindness, intelligence and an air of quiet calm, as if nothing phases him. I tell people that they are fooled. That I push all of my stress down inside, thus internalizing the woes of my world. Recently an old friend/customer replied, "Well, it's working." Sure, internalizing is working great. It's the externalizing that can be a bitch; getting my brilliant but sad ideas to the outside world, or at least onto this blog, which is the next worst thing.

It's not so often anymore that I look into the odd mirror and see my darkest demon peering back at me. The one that happily shoots angels out of the sky, just to watch them fall. That misanthropic hater is better left to the pages of past journals. He's certainly still there, lurking in the memories of old. The dark twin the relatives don't speak of. But without my dark half, I wouldn't be a whole entity, thrashing about in this crazy mixed up world of ours.

Now I'm going to take this tired old face of mine, that covers the skull containing my essence, my Wessonality -- "You're soaking in it!"-- and put it to bed. I'm going to rest this weathered face against my pillow with the fuzzy illustrations of wildlife. My dreams shall be inhabited by deer, bears, and the odd wombat, roaming through the aisles of Bed, Bath & Beyond. Just a few minutes to say goodnight to the ancient suns scattered across the night sky, and I'm done.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saturday Strong

Working on a Saturday..and the sun is starting to break through the clouds. How does that happen, you ask. Me, working on a Saturday. Well, I have always had NGS, or Nice Guy Syndrome. I am the only employee in the bookstore, who has both Saturday and Sunday off. I don't know how that happened. I must have done a sexual favor for the right person at some point in my life. But I digress. The point is that when someone wants a day off on the weekend, they often ask if I'll trade shifts with them. So, I am working until 5:30 on this brilliant Seattle day, and in exchange I will get Tuesday off, when we will most likely have a snow storm, combined with our worst earthquake in a decade. [I should be careful what I say.]

When the sun shows it's shiny face in this neighborhood, the customers flee the store, and run to the local parks. How can I blame them? If I had my druthers (On sale this week at Target! $15.99 for a pound of Druthers.) I'd be getting warm in some sunny spot, and trying to read a few pages before my eyelids grew heavy.

Instead I am here at Ravenna Third Place, practicing my slacker skills. This means sending emails, taking mental health breaks at the local church (aka, smoking a bowl) and writing a blog post. What are you doing on this Saturday? Shoveling snow, or watching the mid-morning movie on cable? Maybe you're finishing lunch with a friend, and about to go shopping, because shopping makes you feel so vital and alive. I'm dreaming of the time to read books, and the space and distance to make sirens and bus exhaust a faraway blip on my awareness radar.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness

A lone wolf, howling his loneliness to the yellow moon. The castaway, surviving on bugs and berries, sends out his message in a bottle. I sometimes sit here on Tuesday mornings and write trivial blog posts that are destined for banality. We're all just voices crying out in the wilderness.

I see so many people, walking and riding, but always with their face to their smart phone. I think to myself, These are lonely people, trying desperately to be in contact with another human. The trouble is that by the time their messages are broken down into bits, and sent up to the satellite to be shot back down into the listener's ear, all the heart and soul has been diluted from the words. Words are just words anyway, and they are often misinterpreted, or unheard all-together.

This morning I had a dream of walking through the woods but doing everything in my power to avoid other hikers. I label myself a misanthrope, but I can't help being nice to others. I once used to say that I felt closest to my God in the wilderness, but now that I realize that God (god) is an empty concept used to assuage our fears of death, I say that I feel most like myself when I am in the woods. I feel at peace there, and connected to my surroundings. My heart rate slows down, and nagging thoughts are blown away into the breeze.

In the city or social surroundings, I fall back into my need to be understood. I believe we all have a need to be listened to and understood. All of this new fancy technology that is supposed to keep us constantly connected actually widens the disconnect we already feel with our fellow humans. Passing digital OMG's and WTF's back and forth is not going to bring us closer together. I'm sorry if that's disappointing news. I never like using the phone, even when it was attached to the wall, and kept you on a leash, while you listened to your mom drone on about relatives you have no memory of. Now, having a cell phone in my pocket, is like an unwelcome neighbor, poking his head over the fence to say hello. Back off buddy!

I just finished reading a novel called I, Lucifer and now I have started another book titled The Life of God (as Told by Himself). Besides the commonality that both books feature mythical characters with great global importance, both characters are very lonely. They feel separate from the other entities in the universe. It seems that loneliness is as old as God. Here is a quote from the latter title: "The truth is that the world began when it dawned on me that I was all alone and I tried to do something about it."

I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but I've started to use the terms "heart" and "soul" again. I consider myself a philosopher -- as we all should -- and somewhat of a materialist, but when I listen to music, or feel a loved one's touch,  I need something more than nerve endings and electro-chemical reactions to describe my feelings. I have been very emotional over the recent months. Maybe a it's sign of getting old or maybe it's just me teetering on the brink like usual. But maybe, just maybe it's my poet's soul awakening. The artist within, saying "Fuck y'all! I'm doing what feels right for me before drawing my last breath, earthbound memories of me fading like old photographs."

One question that I've been contemplating recently, or maybe it's more of a koan, is: If souls don't exist, then what is the purpose of music? Music can bring tears to my eyes, and sooth my tumultuous soul when it seems that nothing else can. There is something powerful yet indefinable in the melodies and rhythms of music that seems to come directly in sync with something vital inside of us. Call it a soul, or call it yellow jello. Whatever it is cannot survive without music.

And on that note ♪. . . here is a band and one of their songs in particular that elicits emotions from this old bearded stoner, who just wants to be understood.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

At a Loss

I feel as if I'm at a loss for words. I'm not of course. Watch: dog, cat, acrobat. See, I have plenty of words, it's just a matter of what pattern I'm going to place them on the page. This is one of those instances when self-restraint practically makes me speechless. There is plenty on my plate right now, but most of it is food I'd rather not partake of.

I'm not talking about avoidance here. I cannot avoid these problems that insinuate themselves into the very fiber of my being. Probably the biggest issue right now bringing tears and angst forth, is my dealings with my ex-wife over parenting issues. I have always held the weaker position with my ex, even before we were X's. I hold that it's a matter of money over poverty. I believe that the person in the relationship with more money, holds more of the power. I could be wrong, but I'm not in the house that my VA loan helped to obtain. I have the hand-me-down car, and my old car was used as a trade-in on her new economical vehicle.

It's like opening a can of worms. No. That's not right. There is nothing wrong with opening a can of worms, especially if one has a serene day at the lake planned. Opening up a can of whoop-ass is a whole other subject. I merely mean that once I start down that path of resentment and bitterness, there doesn't seem to be any rest stops along the way. I tend to get lost, and can't find my way back out to the sunshine and open spaces.

Tomorrow afternoon I have an appointment with a family behavioral therapist, that includes my ex and my son. A good portion of my stress comes from putting my son through this craziness. Believe me, there are still many days when I wonder if I'm the crazy one, and if I would benefit from a little leucotomy, as long as it wouldn't effect my ability to alphabetize or maintain an erection. Just saying....

It's not Prince spaghetti day. It's not hump day. It's not payday. It's Tuesday! I'm doing what I usually try and do on Tuesday mornings: sleep in, smoke a bowl, and write a blog post. My blog posts are, as a good friend once said, "funny, quirky and sad" and that about sums me up too. My writing is a reflection of all those thoughts that make up this mass of molecules known as Mark (the Markster, Mark Wolf, Sam Durrell, O Wonderous One.) I do my best to weed out the bad thoughts, so that a smile can find a way to my face. Some days are tougher than others. We all have those days.

We are all alike, but at the same time much different. We're made of the same star stuff (thank you Carl), but our dura mater covers much different modes of thinking and beliefs. Sometimes these thoughts and beliefs are strong enough to start wars, and cause senseless be-headings. Sometimes the electrical pulses between synapses produce some of the most wonderful joy imagined: love, birth and puppies! I know deep down that it's all immaterial. Just thoughts that hold too much sway sometime, but my thoughts make up the self that I parade around. Of course, not all of me is open to the public. These words are just mere glimpses into my inner sanctuary (?)...maybe mental cavern is more apt. Believe me, my fellow life travelers, there are some thoughts that just must be kept under wraps, but still must be released into the ether, so that we, or more appropriately I, can live a somewhat content life. 

Ah contentment. It doesn't come as cheap as it used to.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Fanaticism and Its Aftermath

Okay. Maybe not fanaticism. How about super fandom? Seattle doesn't get fanatic about sports. That's why we no longer have a basketball team, or Ichiro. The fans in Seattle did have hope though, and that was visually displayed by their t-shirts and flags, made in China, of course. They had hope that their team the Seahawks could win back to back Super Bowl championships. In the end, the Seahawks literally threw the game into the other team's hands. Game over. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Does this loss  by our city's football team mean that everyone will be mopey on Monday? [Hey! There's a future title: Mopey on Monday.] Some certainly will be, just as some will be hungover, wondering if it was all worth it. I work in a bookstore, where customers are usually focused on more esoteric matters. There were certainly many folks though, who may have never watched the Super Bowl before, but jumped aboard this year, because Hey, Two Years in a Row! Men getting concussions, products being sold by the minute, and executives running the NFL, rolling in dough, partly because they bribed members of congress to make the NFL a not for profit organization. Not to mention the millions of tax payers' dollars they swindle to obtain these mega-stadium deals. I could go on, but you should just read Against Football by Steve Almond.

There were still fireworks going off after the game. There are many east coast transplants here, plus people probably thought, "Well shit! We done got the fireworks. We might's well blow 'em off! Yee-hah!" It's all so silly, when some of us live paycheck to paycheck, and our country is engaging in wars that half of us don't even know about. Football is a diversion and a very successful and profitable one. I've always been on the outside of these lemming fests. Sometimes being on the outsides is depressing, but attempting to be someone I am not is even more painful.

On my Monday I will not mourn the Seahawks loss, but rejoice in the fact that I had to foresight to schedule Friday as a vacation day. I've been needing a mental health day since the retail madness of that Peace-on-Earth holiday. There are a few things to get through before I can enjoy Friday, but I won't  mope from day to day, because there are too many minutes to enjoy before then. Minutes filled with the screeches of a Steller's jay, or when the neighbors fat cat comes by in the morning to get scratched and say hello. Even when the sun is AWOL, there are still beautiful rain clouds to observe, and the intense green of the flora that runs through our neighborhood.

I hasten to even look to see what the weather forecast is for Friday, but rain or shine, I will seek solace in nature. I had a fortune cookie recently, and the slip of paper read, "There is a vacation waiting for you in the mountains." I'm going to make that little fortune cookie live up to its word.