Saturday, July 30, 2016

Bonus Video

Oh, it's late...or early, depending on your angle. I've been out on my deck, stargazing and listening to the Kaiser Chiefs. Check them out!

Kaiser Chiefs - The Angry Mob

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Twenty Year Plan

It’s awfully presumptuous of me to project my life years into the future, but I’m pretty healthy at fifty-five years old. I just have to stay out of the crossfire. That means no trips to the mall or movie theater. Forget about that vacation to Nice. Do I need to become the Boy in the Bubble to live another two decades? In these times of ours, people get mowed down by nuts, who are having a bad day, or ex-employees, who recently visited the gun auction. “Hey, let’s be careful out there.”

If I’m lucky, I figure I have a good twenty years left of life. Twenty years. Sounds like a prison sentence, but I’m not talking about ten to life. I’m talking about twenty years of living the good life. That’s being a positive, glass-is-half-full kind of guy. It’s true that my dad is 95 and my mom is 86, but I’m adopted, so I don’t share their longevity genes. My birth mother is still alive, and she has battled cancer already. One of her two sons – my half brothers (are they half full or half empty?) – died a few years ago of cancer. In another year or so, it’ll be time for my second colonoscopy. I want to keep the big C away from little ole me.

My priority now and as long as I am breathing is being the best father I can be for my son. That includes staying sane. So staying sane is up at the top of the list. I want to live in a more rural setting. Some place where I can have a dog. Those two things alone will lower my stress and add years to my life. I want to continue to write, and hope to publish some stories or essays. I could publish my memoir and sell the film rights. It could happen. Stranger things may not have happened yet, but they will. Mark my words. They will.

The truth is I never had a plan at all. I’ve been winging it all along. I suppose I’ll be winging it the rest of my life, too. I have never planned for my future. Plan indicates some type of forethought and reasoning. I only started saving for my retirement last year and it’s not like I’ve got a nest egg squirreled away somewhere. (Was that mixing metaphors?) I won’t be hitting the road in the Winnebago for points unknown, or raising the mast and setting sail for the sunset and beyond.

Speaking of tropical vacations, (weren’t we?) this could easily just become some kind of wish list. I loathe the term bucket list. Maybe because my bucket has always had a hole in it. I could've listed all the rosy events that I’d like to see occur in my future, but wishing is not planning. Wishing and hoping doesn’t make dreams come true. Going back to bed does.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Curse of the Unsaid

What if all the things I had left unsaid were released like wolves in the night, traversing the land in search of their intended victims? Would I then have to be tracked down and shot with the silver bullet of shame, for daring to utter the unutterable? Civilization is balanced on the precipice of good manners, and as my mom always said, “If you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” Moms always offer sage advice.

Some of us have decent self-control, while others blurt out inappropriate comments like a sailor with Tourette syndrome. Some of us never get the courage to tell that girl sitting in the front of us on the bus how pretty she looks in natural light; and most of us don’t have the nerve to ask the boss for that well-deserved and overdue raise, while we’re on our knees. It’s an important human skill to know what and when to say it. Like that great philosopher Kenneth Ray Rogers said, “You've got to know when to hold 'em. Know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away. And know when to run” You’ve got to shit or get off the pot.

This is one of those weeks, where all of my thoughts just seem to be begging to be withheld. I could post a painfully truthful post, but redact all the nasty stuff. A page of redactions is very in these days. And besides. Sometimes it’s not what one says, but what doesn’t say, reading between the lines and so forth. Maybe this should be my John Cage piece. I could entitle it 4 Paragraphs, 33 Words and just leave that space there for you to imagine my wonderful prose.

All those things I want to say, but are better left unsaid. Words and sentences can cause libel lawsuits, strain relationships, and ruin careers (Jimmy the Greek, Michael Richards.) We don’t want to needlessly offend our family or loved ones. (Oops! Too late!) We don’t want to lose our job, because of some rant we made on Facebook. I have taken down a half dozen posts that I later determined were too personal for public viewing.

This blog is quite personal as it is, but I try to keep my criticism of people I know to a minimum. I try not to air dirty laundry. It’s not a scratch and sniff page. I’ve written honestly about my depression and its cousins angst and frustration. (They’re always sleeping on my couch.) I’ve talked about my past marriages to some extent, but I try to keep my personal criticism of others to a minimum. I’d rather castigate society as a whole, and the other holes can figure out if I’m talking about them or not.

We creative types are always looking for recognition. I want to be recognized. ("The chair recognizes the crusty old guy with mood issues.") Fifty-five years of wandering around on this planet and I’m still yearning to be understood by others. I write to assuage my feelings of loneliness and frustration. I want to feel free and brave enough to share my feelings, without fear of repercussion. I figure I’ve got about twenty years left to perfect this art.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Life's Little Lemons

There is an old proverb: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” The meaning, of course, is that lemons are naturally quite sour, and that lemonade is usually sweetened. Luckily, I tend to like my lemonade on the sour side anyway. These days, trendy restaurants are adding rosemary to their lemonade, which I personally like; but then again, I like Wendy (“hot and juicy”) and Little Debbie (“unwrap a smile!”)

Career con Carne, with Flaming Lemon Disappointment Sauce – History may be written by the victors, but not my employment history. My career path is more of a downward spiral, going from a job that required some skill and education to a job in retail, where being polite to rude people is priority one. After leaving the air force in 1982, I continued my electronics training at a two year vocational school. No. Not ITT Technical Institute. The Commodore 64 was the cutting edge in home computers, and companies like Texas Instruments and GTE were still hiring Americans. It only took one move too many across the country to end my technical career. While living in Auburn, Maine, I got a job at a new Michaels’ Arts & Crafts. I was hired as a custom picture framer, which included training. Out of all my various jobs, I think I enjoyed picture framing the most. I got to use my creativity and build a project from start to finish. There was satisfaction in that. By the time I left the Berkshires, I had been employed as a bookseller at The Bookloft in Great Barrington for about four years. I returned to Seattle and was employed by Third Place Books within a week of my return. I’ve been working in the bookstore business ever since. So, in other words, I’m still poor.

Lemon Marriage Pie – If one falls off a horse – as the old adage goes – they should get right back on. Similarly with riding bikes. When falling off, it’s always best to get right back on. Apparently, I also apply that same advice to marriages. When one fails, I just go out and marry another fish from the sea. (Sorry, Charlie) I married too young the first time. The second marriage involved sharing custody of my wonderful son at its demise. I couldn’t have asked for a bigger bucket of lemonade than having my son in my life.

After my second marriage, I said never again, but, like Sean Connery with James Bond, I learned to Never Say Never Again. I am almost five years into my third marriage to a wonderful woman, who will have the honor of being my third and last wife. (Dude! Never say never!) My own parents have been married forever! It’s somewhere over sixty years now. They have always seemed like best friends, and I rarely saw them fight. I think that was mainly because of my mom’s amazing self-control. Marriage is about commitment and promises. Insurance and mutual debts. Compromise and commiserating. In-jokes and staycations.

Upside Down Smile Cake with Dour Lemon Frosting – Before I even knew what to call it, I have suffered from depression. Thanks to my DNA and upbringing, I’m predisposed to be depressed. Shortly before turning thirty years old, I was arrested for drunk driving. It was a teachable moment, or rather a teachable night in jail. After my DWI debacle, I decided to seek counseling on my own. Those sessions with Dallas Alice (a pseudonym) resulted in my finding my birth mother. Shortly after that, my first wife and I moved to the west coast -- Olympia, Washington, to be specific. There ended marriage number one, but my depression stuck around like a bad best friend. I saw a counselor out here in Washington for quite a few years, but she moved back to Michigan. These days I take my anti-depressants, cry when necessary and spend a lot of time on my deck, stargazing and imbibing organic cannabis. Once in a while, I dip below the surface and flail about for a bit, but for the most part, I’m able to keep my head above water. I’ve never been the best swimmer in this big social ocean of ours. I’d rather find a spot in the dunes, and bury myself in a book. I try my best to channel my angst and frustration into my writing. Better art through suffering, I've always said.

Now, if you're lucky enough that life gives you grapes, well then make some friggin' wine!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Gray Sweater Sky

A Gray Sweater
There is a gray sweater sky today and I'm still in a vaguely blue state of mind. Often, after a social event, I need an hour or so of downtime, which means quietude, solitude and an attempt to lessen my lassitude. The last few weeks have been quite hectic, so I'm glad that I just happened to schedule this Friday as a vacation day. My wife is attending a three-day religious event, so that will leave this little ole sinner on his own. I have no plans, except to take my son to basketball camp on Friday morning. I'm thinking I'll take in a movie or two that my wife has no interest in seeing. There's a documentary at the Guild 45th about competitive tickling, and a new film with Paul Dano, where he escapes from a desert island with the help of Daniel Radcliffe's flatulent corpse.

But today is Tuesday and I still have three days until my three days off. I did work yesterday, which was the fourth of July. Somebody had to be there to sell the lonely intellectuals books on the holiday. I went in at 10 am and left at 3 pm, so I tried to keep the work angst to a minimum. Today is another day in retail, walking down the same streets, under the same Seattle sky. I wouldn't mind closing the curtains for the day, and drawing the blinds.

Sometimes I am overcome with melancholy. I desire space and quiet, without having to deal with any emotional crisis, or adult responsibilities. I'm fifty-five years old now, but I still frequently feel like that lonely fifteen-year-old, whose only respite was found in the woods behind his childhood home. Now I am far from home, with no natural surroundings to immerse myself in on a daily basis. I settle for sitting on my deck in the evening, and gazing into eternity, illumined by those multitude of dead stars.

I desire more out of my life, and that desire is often a stumbling block on the road towards contentment. My son provides me with plenty of reasons to stay sane, and to try and not rock the ferry so much. We're all on the same boat, but we all have different destinations in mind. I just want to stop the ferry at the next island, and rest my weary consciousness for a bit. This life is evidently not the all-inclusive model with the open bar that I saw advertised. It's a pay as you go existence, and I must now go and earn my keep.