Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Back Into the Fray

No time to write today. It's back into the fray at work, but first I have to take Justin to an appointment this morning. I had just started to put the title on my blog, when I paused for lunch. I came back, and my son had written "I love my dad so much" in the subject line. He's such a special kid, well...gifted really. I think we're going to make this camping weekend a Father's Day tradition.

Last weekend was the semi-annual 40% off all used books at the bookstore, where I'm employed. I'm expected some shelving and straightening on my work agenda. Work means no more play, or a much diminished play time anyway. I'll have to savor those moments from this past weekend that stand out; like swimming in the mountain stream, or hiking to the Big Four ice caves. The plethora of s'mores that Justin ingested over the three nights in the woods.

Today is a nice Sunny day in Seattle, but there are no pileated woodpeckers, fluttering through the campground. No stream to clean our dirty dishes in. No stars to count. Just traffic to maneuver through, as we make our way back into the societal mainstream. I'll have more time to write about our awesome camping trip later on.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

It's All Relative

Time is without a doubt relative. Almost two weeks back, I took a Friday off, and that work week leading up to my vacation day positively dragged. I jokingly said to a co-worker that it almost wasn't worth it to take the day off at the end of the week, because of this slowing down of time. We all know how time flies when you're having a good time, but when you're getting your teeth drilled, or stuck in traffic, the second hand becomes an hour hand, which soon becomes pages on a calendar.

I disdain time. I've always said that time is an anathema, and I mean that sincerely.  Sometimes I wonder if it's a social construct, like money and marriage. What if we stopped believing in time? Would the clocks fall apart and calendars become obsolete? I think we're safe to stick with Journey on this one though, Don't Stop Believin'. (It's not quite as potent with the g, believe me.)

You've heard the old adage: You can pick a rose. You can pick your nose. But you can't pick your family. In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, there is this quote:
"You can choose your friends but you sho' can't choose your family, an' they're still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge 'em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don't."
I don't think that's quite true though, speaking as someone, who was adopted at six months of age. I also adopted my son, so I guess it's a family tradition. My point is that through adopting, you can come about as close as you can to choosing your own family. Once we get a handle on genetic manipulation, you'll not only be able to choose your child's eye color,  but also whether they'll be musically proficient or mathematically gifted.

Pat Robertson recently said to a woman caller on his show, who had recently experienced a miscarriage, that she'll never know god's reason for taking her unborn baby. Maybe it was destined to be the next Hitler. He said that. I think, relatively speaking, that Pat Robertson is horse's ass. (Sorry to all my horse friends out there.) On the other hand, anyone who calls into Pat Robertson, looking for advice, gets just what they deserve.

Back to time and it's effects. We all know that if you're having a bad day, then times slows to a crawl, but say Jimmy Sue over there is having a dandy day. That means that his day is probably whizzing by. Therefore, we all experience time at different rates. We have clocks and calendars in an attempt to keep us all in sync, but we're obviously all marching to the beat of a different drummer. At least I am anyway. Sometimes I'm marching to the beat of crazy old Ginger Baker, and sometimes I'm marching to the snazzy syncopation of Buddy Rich.

This weekend I'm going camping with my son. It's our first father and son camping trip, which just happens to fall on Father's Day weekend. I expect my inner rhythms to slow to match the tempo of the river over the rocks, or the soughing of the evergreen branches above. We will be out of cell phone range, and I'm not even going to bother to get the Wifi password from the park rangers. I'm just kidding. There are no park rangers anymore.

Next week I'll be back with campfire tales and mosquito bites. I'll try and leave my cynicism in Granite Falls before I enter the National Park. This curmudgeon will transform into a cuddly woodsman, with his feet in the river and his head in the stars.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

When I'm Fifty-Four

Now that I'm older, grey in my hair, I'd love to say that I'm care free and fancy-footing it through life. I have cares. I have some woes too, and no matter how many times I pack them up, I always manage to find more. Woes are like dust bunnies. They seemingly give birth to more woes. Even if I snap my fingers and say the magic words, "woebegone," I still find more under the bed the next day.

On an earlier birthday of significance, turning eighteen, I was going through technical training in the air force. One weekend, me and two buddies, walked from Chanute AFB in Rantoul to Champaign-Urbana. While wandering about in the early evening, feigning adulthood, we spied a movie theater marquee and in big letters it read Debbie Does Dallas. We stood by the ticket booth, hemming and hawing. We were all freshly eighteen, but we still couldn't legally drink in the state of Illinois, but we could be admitted into genuine x-rated movie theater. Not used to making adult decisions, we turned away from the theater, and went across the square to see Superman, starring Christopher Reeve.

I've never been one for birthday celebrations. Maybe that's because I've always been a bit of an introvert and can count my number of friends on one hand. On one of those landmark birthdays -- age 30, when one traditionally receives black balloons and sympathy cards -- I was on my first road trip west to Washington state. I believe I was staying in a KOA Kabin somewhere in Pennsylvania with my first wife and her two cats on my actual birthday.

I finagled things, so that on my 40th birthday -- when men enter their middle-age crazy years -- I was staying in Negril, Jamaica. On my actual birthday, I was swimming in a saltwater pool under a full moon. I probably said, "It doesn't get much better than this," and I would have been right, or as close to right as someone like me is liable to get. 

Since turning forty, I've had a lot of non-birthday birthdays. I don't even remember what I did on my 50th, but I most likely took the day off from work. I try to make that the one gift I give myself each year, because who wants to work on the one day you get to celebrate yourself? Last week, when I turned fifty-four (for you dyslexics out there, that's forty-five,) I took the day off and slept in. The sun was shining, but not in my honor.

Even my son forget my birthday last week. He couldn't guess, when I picked him last Friday, why I took the day off. Well, just being with him is a gift, and always warms my cold black heart. I try and give myself gifts every day. These gifts are mere moments in my day, such as watching a crow playing in a stagnant puddle, but these moments can be brought back to reignite the glow of my soul...if there was such a thing. I have a few soles, but they're all wearing out.

Speaking of soles, time to beat feet, and head on down twentieth avenue to ye ole bookstore on the corner. It's my Tuesday evening shift, so that means I'll have to kick out a few drunks before the evening is over.

Just kidding. Usually it's just this one heroin addict passed out in the self-help section with a copy of Codependent No More in his grubby hands.

No. That's not true either.

What is true? Hell, what is truth? Oh Jeez! Look at the time!

Be Kind to Crows

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

This Changes Everything!

Everything changes. The song may remain the same, but everything else ch-ch-changes. We change our minds much more often than we change our socks. That's just the life of a fickle animal. Squirrel!!

See what I mean. We're so easily distracted by glitter and gossip. I remember when I was about my son's age, my dog Hobo caught a rabbit in the fields behind our home. It wasn't unusual for our mutt to catch rabbits, and devour them. He was on his way to disemboweling this little shivering ball of bunny fur, when he spotted another rabbit. He immediately took off after his fresh prey, leaving the previous rabbit in shock, with its intestines feeling the fresh air for the first time in it's short life. I immediately felt the fear and pain of this little rabbit. I couldn't let it suffer, while Hobo was running through the woods in pursuit of a second helping. I picked up the largest rock I could find nearby and dropped it on the rabbit to end it's suffering. Then I went home and watched Speed Racer.

Maybe that's more an example of hunger and distraction than change. Let's see if I can remain on topic. I've changed wives twice, hoping that the third time's the charm. I've changed jobs more than three times, but not in any negative respect. I've even changed my residence a number of times, promising myself the last time that I was in Seattle to stay. Nothing is permanent. Not even the beauty of Seattle. 

Somebody said to me the other day, "I like the new look." All I had done was gotten a much needed haircut, and replaced my reading glasses. I had replaced my wire rim glasses, for more hipper plastic frames, and believe me, the word hipster was at no time in my mind when I shopped for new glasses. I was just looking for 2.50 magnification. I haven't had my eyes checked since I turned 40, and I'm sure my prescription has changed by now. One thing that doesn't seem to have changed is my ability to procrastinate when it comes to things like getting my eyes checked for the first time in over a decade.

I've found that when I've returned to my boyhood home of Massachusetts, that things haven't changed enough. Although, I'm not sure what kind of changes I would enact that would cause me to have any kind of love for the land of my youth. My Seattle neighborhood is changing too quickly and in a particularly ugly fashion, with sterile block houses, replacing the houses with character that have existed for years.

I recently read the western media headlines, that stated the tragedy of ISIS taking over these ancient cities with the intention of destroying the buildings and artifacts denoting that history. Meanwhile, back in Seattle, we're losing our cultural icons in favor of corporate sterility. Thanks Amazon! (You probably didn't pick up on the sarcasm there.) No more Mama's Mexican Kitchen or Leilani Lanes. No more limit on the heights of buildings to preserve the Seattle skyline.

Everything changes and it's only our emotional attachment to the way things are that make us sentimental and nostalgic for the way things used to be. Instead of getting together to bowl, friends stay in their individual houses (or countries) and play various war games on the internet. Instead of saving our wilderness, people are driving SUV's with names like Denali and Expedition. Vehicles that never leave the city.

Maybe that's the one thing that never changes: The absolute ability for human beings to be counted on to always do the dumbest, most destructive actions before their consciousness is snuffed out. Our legacy is destruction. The tearing down of what was is change, erosion, and we're experts at it. The next time you want to go bowling, turn on the Wii or warm up your smart phone. I'll be out here, using my flip phone and reading books made of paper. It seems that everything changes except my resistance to change, but -- as we all know -- resistance is futile.