Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Burning Bridges

I have been burning a lot of bridges lately. I guess that might be considered a terrorist act, if it wasn't metaphorical. The act of burning a bridge means that return over that same bridge is now impossible. If one is running from something -- say a dark and loathsome past -- then burning the bridge behind you is a good way to gain some ground on your enemy. Burn the bridge. Cover your tracks. Change your name.

Burning bridges also can mean the ending of potentially profitable relationships. In my case, my printed vitriol sometimes gets me in trouble, losing friends and family. I get unfriended, hung up on, and shunned. All in the same day sometimes! I've been told that I'm selfish and that I need to grow up. Maybe at the age of fifty-four, I should take the growing part as a complement. I don't want to grow up. I'm a Toys 'r' us kid.

None of us have the ability to see ourselves objectively. Usually we turn away when we see ourselves on camera. Some of us even avoid mirrors, as if we were from an old vampire clan. If I could examine myself objectively, would I see a selfish asshole, who gets his jollies by taunting and tormenting others? Or would I see a struggling, emotional man-child, who just cannot seem to stay on the path?

Not only have I burned bridges, but I headed west, to disappear among the evergreens in the Pacific Northwest. People have been doing it for generations, heading west for a taste of a more adventurous and free lifestyle. These days there are more condos and SUVs than pioneers and gold diggers, but there is still a sense of that spirit out here....somewhere.

It is lonely being an outcast though. I'd much rather be a member of Outkast and have a hit record on my hands. Loneliness is just one of many states of mind, but it seems to be the dominant mood in my mind lately. To me, happiness is like a mythical unicorn; a beautiful fantasy, but not very realistic. I've created this persona, with the help of genetics and my environment during my upbringing. Now (as always) my task is to bring this personality of mine in line, and try not to be crazier or angrier than that person next to me on the metro bus.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

First Stop, Fred Meyer!

Most days I just want to do the right thing. I can't remember the last time I did anything for the sick thrill of it. Maybe it was my devious doppelganger, who works at Bartell Drugs, although I was told he was a nice guy. My face may not be the best face in the world, but I don't want the bad guy, running around wearing it, under his black hat.

This past Saturday, after weeks of saying "yes I will," I finally took my son out to buy a basketball hoop. Since I'm just a poor bookseller, I was looking to buy just the hoop, and not the fancy bulletproof backboard, or the tungsten pole with GPS. I had checked online, and I expected to spend about twenty-five dollars.

Our first stop was Fred Meyer, just north on Lake City Way. No hoops; just plastic mini-hoops. Next stop was Ace Hardware, just on the off chance. The young dude with the red vest told me that they had the balls, but not the hoops. I wasn't about to check to see if he had any balls. Instead we drove down the hill and went to Target. I was putting good money on Target, but struck out once again. It was time for the Sports Authority.

I walked into the Sports Authority, with my son at my side. He was ogling every Nike armband, and swoosh emblazoned article of clothing in the place. He saw the hoops and backboards towards the back, and started prancing down the aisle, urging his doddering dad to hurry up. Among the menagerie of fanciful basketball equipment, I found one lone authentic hoop. It was in a dinged up box, taped up by whatever customer had returned it to the store.

This shopping fiasco seems to be the story of my life. My desires are never on sale, and when I finally find them, they've been returned and are in slightly used condition. Slightly used desires are not very desirable to me, but I settle. I don't order the new hoop, or ask for a discount, because it's obviously been opened and returned. The basketball hoop now sits in my office, with all kinds of promises attached to it, although I need some tools to install it with.
Next blog post: The Man Without a Toolbox.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Good Escape

My wife and I are finishing up our four night getaway on the Olympic Peninsula, and don't get me wrong, it's been a wonderful little respite. It would have been a Great Escape, if we had ended up on some beach in Negril, or gambling in the Bahamas, but a trailer in the woods merely qualifies as a Good Escape. We didn't have to use spoons to tunnel out of our drudgery in Seattle, although we did have to wait an hour for the ferry across Puget Sound.

The words "back to work" feel bitter in my mind. I cannot conceive of anyone having said, after their vacation, "I am so ready for the daily grind again." Nope. Everyone wants to be on a permanent vacation, myself included. Rain or shine, a day off from work is always welcome. One plus this week is I didn't work on Monday, so that leaves me with a shortened work week. Beggars can't be choosers.

Overall it was a wonderful break. I am now back home and thinking of slathering some peanut butter and jelly on two opposing slices of wheat bread.  Before I go to work, I must stop at a law office and sign bankruptcy paperwork. That's right. Even the mighty can fall. I've left messages with Donald Trump, but I guess he figures that I can never pay him back a favor big enough. I don't know about that. I think I could do him a really big favor: shave his head; put him in a big orange jumpsuit.

I can feel the stress and angst seeping back into my being. In the city, the air is thicker and more odorous. There's a sense of go-go-go, that I just can't take-take-take. It's still doesn't feel as cutthroat as living on the east coast, but Seattle is working hard to become just another anonymous corporate city. The sense of personality and uniqueness are being stripped away in the name of modernity, which is just another form of progressive delusion for the American beast.

So, with four nights rest in my back pocket, I will reenter my job at the bookstore with renewed vigor and excitement. I will enlighten the reading public with my meager knowledge and every-ready intellectual curiosity. I will withhold any negative commentary, as I watch the world go by. I haven't walked in days, because our break was about laziness, so I'm looking forward to resuming my daily walks, accompanied by the tunes of the day.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

An Aging Whine

Many times we are faced with thoughts we may not necessarily welcome. Lately, the words nearing sixty has been popping into my conscious mind at odd times. Now, I'm only fifty-four, so I don't think I can really state with any confidence -- nor would I want to -- that I am nearing sixty. At least not until I am on the back side of fifty-five. I don't want to rush things. In fact, I'm always doing my best to slow things down. Some may call it procrastinating, but I call it slowing things down to a reasonable pace.

I've always been bothered by hustle and bustle of maintaining an existence in this society, but lately -- with the recent spate of helicopters hovering overhead, and a plethora of summertime sirens and screeches -- I'm about ready to consider the monastery again. There's just that little bit about me being married and being an atheist. Minor details, I'm sure.

I don't feel like I'm "the older guy with the beard and glasses" in the store, but that fits my description.  That a would be me in the lineup of other fifty-somethings. I forget that I have all those years behind me though. I'm often fooled into thinking that some customer that I'm dealing with is older than me, but it's only because he has an air of authority. It's the bitter odor of authority I'm smelling and not the sour tang of old age.

I still have a problem with authority. My problem, for the most part, is my strict adherence to authority. I'm getting too old to care whether you wear a tie and drive a Tesla. Have fun at your summer house, and your ski cabin. I'll be sitting here, counting stars, but not my lucky stars. I live day to day. Sometimes I have to put some effort into letting go of previous days. My mind likes to go over the dark stuff, and try and find cracks emitting light. Best to just let it go and welcome the sunshine -- or rain -- today.

As I near sixty, I have to remind myself that the speed limit is sixty-five on I-5, so I need to get my ass in gear and look alive. I want to pump some emotional prosperity into my last decades on this blue planet, and have a few more adventures. I don't believe in bucket lists, and my fuck-it list is so long, I can't keep track anymore.

One bright spot about reaching sixty years of age, is that is the same year that the fifteen dollar minimum wage will take effect for me, and my co-workers at the bookstore. That is, if the whole idea of a fifteen dollar minimum wage doesn't destroy the country first. Meanwhile, I'm out of peanut butter, which makes having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch a little difficult.