Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I am not Impressed

We have some new employees at the bookstore. All three are young and not very impressionable.  They are certainly not impressed by this fifty-something stoner, who is in the midst of his third marriage and is prone to quiet introspection.

I was working with young Franklin the other day (not his real name), and I was shelving a Kurt Vonnegut novel, which reminded me of a Vonnegut title in my own collection. "Hey Franklin. One of my prized possessions is a copy of Slapstick signed by the members of The Clash. It was the only thing I had on hand at the time." His eyes got big. "The Clash? You're kidding, right? 'Cause that's like my favorite band ever."

Finally, I was going to impress someone with my punk rock youth. "What tour was that?" Franklin asked. "Oh," I replied. "It was the 'Cut the Crap' tour, and Mick Jones had already left by that point." Franklin immediately stated that Mick Jones was the more important member of the band and kind of scoffed at the fact that I merely had Joe Strummer and Paul Simonen's autographs in my mass market copy of Slapstick; one of Vonnegut's lesser novels.

Later on The Beatles were playing over the store sound system, and Franklin admitted his admiration for Paul McCartney. I immediately stated that my favorite Beatle is John Lennon, with Paul McCartney being my least favorite, after Ringo and the Dung Beetle. While growing up though, I owned more George Harrison albums than Lennon discs. It's not like I saw the fab four at Shea Stadium! I was only four years old when Yoko broke up the band.

These days the only autographs I'm getting in books, is by the authors themselves. The last book I had signed was The Harder They Come by T.C. Boyle. He was in Seattle, and stopped in our store to sign stock. He was very pleasant, and I chatted with him for a bit. My boss refused to engage him, because he didn't like his hair. Really? Anyway, if you find yourself with some free time this summer, I highly recommend The Harder They Come. It's a literary page-turner, which is the best kind.

I feel like it should be said that I'm really not out to impress anybody. If you knew me, you'd agree heartily. I'm just the grey-haired bearded guy, who is nice to every customer, whether he or she is a bitch or not. Most of my customers are not bitches though, except in the nicest of ways. Okay bitches! What books you reading now? I have a great rapport with my customers.

The Infamous Dung Beetle
The Walrus was Paul

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

It's Not Just Life! It's an Adventure!

I might be more likely to accept the adventurous part of life if I was perpetually armed with a bullwhip and a Colt 45. Fedora optional. The daily grind known as living in the U.S.A. can be quite taxing at times (pun intended.) Some days, just rising from the bed and taking a shower can seem like a monumental task, never mind going to work and dealing with the public. Sometimes I think the public should just deal with themselves for a while. Let me take a breather.

It's Tuesday, which means I stayed up entirely too late last night, with the excuse of being able to sleep in this morning. I've already taken my medicine -- just a pinch between my cheek and gums and I'm ready to go -- and I've shared some silliness on Facebook. Oh, I ate a banana too. Exciting stuff. Now I am trying to pound out some thoughts that have a semblance of sanity.

Tonight there is an author event at the bookstore. This event is a perfect reflection of what currently passes for culture in this country: a book of selected tweets by two young hipsters, who barely have enough life experience to tweet about. But twits will tweet.

My own tweets look more like bleats upon the page. Oh, what's he whining about this week?! I had a Twitter account, but my angst must take the long form. Besides, I don't own a smart phone, and I don't plan to anytime soon. I'm proud to be the flip-phone guy. Scotty! Beam me up! There's definitely no intelligent life here!

My post will have to be a short one this week, since I feel the need to slather some peanut butter and jelly on some bread, and then consume. No hot pockets for this guy. Unless you count the pockets in these jeans. But if I didn't have any pockets, I couldn't play pocket pool.

OK. Bleating complete for today. Time to enter society and do my best to fit in once again. Calgon, take me away!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Happy Talk!!

Happy talk, keep talkin' happy talk,
Talk about things you'd like to do.
You got to have a dream,
If you don't have a dream,
How you gonna have a dream come true?
Ah, Bloody Mary. The philosopher matchmaker of South Pacific waxes poetic about making one's dreams come true. In her case, the dream is marrying off her nubile daughter to some dullard naval officer, so that she can enjoy the American dream. How you gonna have your American dream come true, when there's no such thing.

Back to happiness. The elements of happiness in my life include my son (of course) and my wife (#3) although she may scoff. Music makes my heart sing, and I think it goes without saying that music enhances the life of anyone lucky enough to have working ears. Well, I said it anyway...but it's true. Just watch the documentary "Alive Inside," which is about patients with Alzheimer's and dementia, living in muted loneliness, but they literally light up from the inside when they hear their favorite tunes from their youth.

I love a good cry. It's therapeutic. In both my current marriage and my previous entanglement, I was the one sobbing at the end of whatever tearjerker I roped them into watching with me. Hell, one of my favorite movies is "Return to Me," starring David Duchovny and Minnie Driver. In this film Bob (Duchovny) has lost his zoologist wife in a car accident early in the film. Very sad for Bob. But lucky for Grace Briggs, mild-mannered waitress at O'Reilly's Italian Restaurant, because she has been waiting for a fresh heart. Her's is withering away, because she's still a virgin, living under the thumb of her Irish father, played by the great Carol O'Connor in his last role. Grace ends up meeting Bob, by chance! Soon they are falling in love, but when Bob finds out that Grace has his dead wife's heart...look out!

Last weekend I took my son to see the film "Inside Out." I had been warned by my co-worker -- my ass. man. actually -- that I should bring tissues. "It's a tearjerker," she said, "and I know you're a crier." I suppose she knows this, because I've admitted this. I'm not ashamed of being a softie. If I'd been a better emotional manipulator over the years, I'm sure my soft heart could have gotten me laid more, but then again if I was an emotional manipulator....never mind.

So, "Inside Out" is an amazing new film from Disney-Pixar-Coke-Amazon-Sony. I was recently railing against the very idea of the movie, because I stated that it promotes the idea of a homunculus in our heads, or in this case a gang of five hounculi. Most people don't know what a homunculus is, never mind that the neurological community moved beyond that quite a while ago.

It's all fine and great to talk happy and have dreams, but as one gets older and closer to death, one realizes that some dreams have to be left in the dust, like Bing Bong the imaginary friend from "Inside Out." I look for happiness in the eyes of the robin, who is browsing through the underbrush right at my feet, or the spectacle of a hummingbird, chasing a finch over the treetops. I find pure joy is watching my son play basketball, and interact with people. He's a special human being and I'm crazily lucky to have him in my life.

I think I'd rather drink a Bloody Mary than take advice from one, but I do believe in happiness. I do, I do, I do believe happiness. I'm just not always sure what role the emotion plays in my life, but I'm working on that. I'm always making an honest attempt at making my journey through this life a worthy one. Happiness is just one of those cans I kick down the road, albeit a can that everyone is coveting.
It's time to assemble a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and prepare my head (dress my homunculus) and for work. I'll play some loud music, shuffle through the windows open on my computer and close the windows in the house, since we've had crackheads break into our house before. Honest hardworking crackheads, I'm sure, but I just don't want them in my house, going through my unmentionables. You know what I mean, Billy Jean? 

Let's kill this Tuesday and tomorrow we can raise Wednesday from the dead.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Source of Sadness

A veritable font of ferociousness. Born a bastard in Boston, I'm still a son of a bitch in Seattle. It doesn't help to run out of anti-depressants and then figure I can wait a week to refill the prescription. Psycho-babble and headaches soon to follow. I hurt -- yes, I hurt deeply -- but somehow, in over fifty years (yes, I count those toddler tantrums) I have never figured out how to avoid hurting those closest to me. I take all of my stress and angst and shove it down my esophagus, and then wander about as if I'm Mr. Calm. The reality is that I'm very fragile inside and I can feel the pieces of sanity breaking free and falling to the bottom of my being.

My nine-year-old son has been with us since the last day of third grade. It's a lot more work being a parent every day, rather than just on the weekends, but he's worth the work. He could teach me a thing or two, and often does. Daddy, you should just be happy to be alive every day. That kind of advice is welcome to my failing ears. I try my best, honestly I do. If my best was good enough, I wouldn't need to supplement it with things such as Celexa and Wellbutrin.

Even the fact that I now realize that I'll be on anti-depressants for decades to come is in itself depressing, and yes, angering. I believe a lot of my anger comes from the inability of my parents to get to know me on a personal level. The last time I visited my folks, my dad said to my wife, "Yeah. M___ and I just never clicked."

There was a time when my father had taken a fall, and was on heavy painkillers. My old man is one of those New England puritans that has never smoked or cursed, although he might have a cold beer on a hot summer day, after painting the house all day. But on this particular day he was flying high on Vicodin. This altered state of mind brought out this statement: "I wish I'd spent more time with you M___." I replied, "Well, I'm only here for a few weeks, dad." I was visiting from Maine at the time. "No." my dad responded. "I mean I wish I had spent more time with you over the years."  It took Vicodin to bring out that raw honesty, never to be heard again.

I think we all just want to be known and loved for who we are, foibles and all. The idea of day to day happiness is a delusion. When someone is threatening to sue you for back debts, medical custody of your son, and you can't even afford a pair of new shoes, the forecast can seem to be heavy depression with seasons of sadness to follow.

My will has never been anything to brag about. I quit piano lessons (Oh come on. We've all done that!) I'm on my third marriage and I seem to punch holes in that at every turn, even though I love my partner dearly. I alienate family and friends and then bemoan my loneliness. Something tells me that someday I'll be full of Vicodin and I'll start revealing regrets to my loved ones. How do I avoid that?

My parents are both still alive. My birth mother is still alive, and for all I know my birth father is still kicking somewhere out in this crazy world too. Four sets of parents. A wife and two ex-wives. And yet, I still feel like an orphan in some Dickens tome. I'm still that shy kid at cub scout camp, trying my damnedest to pass the swimming test, so that I didn't have to stay in the cordoned off section of the lake with the few other losers, the water lapping at my shins. I struggled to come back to the surface of the lake, until finally I grabbed the pole and let them pull me onto the dock. "He gave it a good try," someone adult-like said.

I look back and I think my failure during my swimming test and other vital tests in this life of mine is that I have often tried too hard. I find myself throwing my arms and legs out, trying to find purchase when I really just need to let go and trust my instincts. I have a good head on my shoulders, and my heart, well...let's not mess with my heart right now. It's pumping blood, and keeping me going, so I'll leave it at that.

Now it's time to find clean clothes for my son, so that we can get some lunch. He's already asking me to take him to the park, forgetting that I told him I have to work at two o'clock. Ah, to be on summer vacation again.