Friday, December 31, 2010

What If?

"You're haunted by the two most dangerous words in the English language, What If?" Now, I am not original enough to make that lovely line up by myself, but I am also not clever enough to remember from where I nicked it. If you can figure that out, please feel free to let me know. Because not only am I haunted by those two words, but the fact that I don' t remember the source is a bit off putting as well.  I figure since this is the last day of this rather undistinguished year, I would toss out some random post to wrap it up in style.

Although style is something that I have rarely been accused of having, and I doubt my vast readership will be sober enough to read this post.  However, regardless of readership, I shall press on to the point. If I have a point that is, I am pretty sure I did when I started this post, but that doesn't mean I will have one by the end of the post. It also doesn't eliminate the idea, that the point I had will not be the point (if any) that I make. I write on the 'fly' as it were, and sometimes the beginning, the middle, and the end of my posts aren't always what I had in my (brutish) mind when I begin to type.

Back to the 'what if' dilemma.  We have all faced these type of problems in our lives, and the end of the year is just as good a time as any to reflect upon the 'what ifs' of our lives. What if I had asked that question? What if the answer had been different? What if the bank had said no? What if I were just a bit smarter or better looking? What if I could do it all over again? What if she had answered the phone? What if I had answered the phone? What if I had turned left instead of right, would she be alive today? What if I had taken the under on the Super Bowl?  There are a million of these little dilemmas that each of us have in our 'luggage.' Shit that we carry around that we can not do one fucking thing about. Things that, barring the use of a not yet invented time machine, we can't not change. However, that doesn't stop us from wanting to, or thinking about the what ifs.

Maybe the results would have been the same no matter what you would have done. That might just be fate fucking with you, sometimes (people say) things are just 'meant to be.' That may or may not be true, and I am not so sure I agree, but it might give you some solace as you lie there awake for what seems like an eternity pondering your life's work.  And it is work, your life, it isn't something that is going to come particularly easy, and it is something that you are going to have to get out  of bed each and every day, put in your shift at it, and live with the results, no matter what they might be. We can not all be winners at the game of life, in my opinion it is at its core a zero sum game, and quite a few of us are just going to have to accept the fact that we lost.  Sometimes the best we can do is to cut our losses, and to hope we get another shot. That is unlikely, but sometimes it is all the hope we can cling to. Everybody gets outplayed once in a while, and even the best of us are beatable given the right set of circumstances.

And, until they call time on the thing you call life you always have a chance to swing the balance back in your favour, unless you just quit trying, which would be a shame. After all that what life is all about, trying. You don't have to have a winning smile or a 'great personality' (though I guess they would help) you just need the grit to keep plugging away. Don't bet on the law of averages, because it is rarely a law, and you are usually going to be determined to be just below average. Just plug away at it, and try to improve your performance, the what ifs will just have to take care of themselves.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Love thy Neighbor?

Since today is a pagan holiday christmas, I figured I would trot out the old 'love thy neighbor' line, and see if it still makes any sense.  Freud thought it was one of the sillier pronouncements of christianity, he thought that for a religion, any religion, to attempt people to some sort of universal love was the height of folly. I have to admit, I am inclined to agree with him. To love everybody as a neighbor is to love nobody very much. My neighbor generally has not proven worthy of my love "I must honestly confess that he has more claim to my hostility, indeed my hatred." (Freud Civilization and Its Discontents).  

And if I look at that statement in its most personal of terms, I agree, my neighbors are raging assholes. Both of my neighbors and I have engaged in a 'battle of the trash can.' One neighbor has, on more than one occasion, 'stolen' my trash can. We all have trash cans, and why he feels the need to steal mine, and attempt to foist his trash can off on me, is unfathomable to me. A long time ago, I wrote a post about my trash can (good old number 1947), and clearly I am not the type of fellow to take this theft lightly. Even painting my house number in LARGE letters on the top and side of my trash can, did not stop my 'loving' neighbor from can napping my trash can. A quick visit, and an exchange of some terse words, did eventually lead to 1947's safe return, but really who steals a trash can? Thus neighbor one has proven himself unworthy of my love.

Neighbor number two is also a raging ass hat, that should be taken out, stood up against a wall, and shot like a dog. In fact the source of the trouble I have with number two is a dog. Their dog to be precise, when they moved into the house on the other side of me there was a fence that connected onto my house. It was not my fence, and it was quite, illegally, protruding onto my property. After several warnings, that were ignored, I hired some grim men with chain saws to remove the offending bit of fence from my property. Number two just did not seem to understand the problem, the fence was the only thing that kept their dog  'penned in' their backyard. Tough shit, get your own fence was my reply, and eventually they did, but not before trying to 'create' a fence of their own by using THEIR trash can (rolled onto my property ) to close the newly minted gap in the fence line.  Not the brightest of ideas, and for over a month I took unmitigated pleasure in coming home, piss drunk, and moving their trash can back to the 'right side' of the property line. They caught onto that trick and tried to built a 'makeshift' fence, I took even more pleasure in drunkenly kicking it down at 3 am. It was a lot of fun, and I miss being able to do it. I miss it because eventually they figured it out and built their own fence along the property line just like a 'good neighbor' should. 

Clearly, I am not going to be asked to do a State Farm commercial anytime soon. I am not a good neighbor, nor do I intend to be. I keep to myself, and all I ask is for you to leave me the fuck alone. It is just that simple, but apparently too complicated for people in my 'hood' to understand. I am going to have to take the side of Freud here, and agree that in my neighbors the idea of love is not a popular one. I do not doubt they could regale you with stories of what a crap neighbor I am as well, but that is their problem. I will not be going over with cookies to make peace anytime soon. Universal love is for people who live in ivory towers. I live in a place surrounded by trash cans, it is called reality, and loving thy neighbor is not going to happen. Merry Xmas, happy holidays, God Jul, bah humbug!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Project of the Second Part

Other than being some important day for a bunch of savages, December 25th is the six month 'turn' on my yearly procession of aging. Meaning I have six months to go before I have to change the second number on my age group list. It makes it for a depressing day all the way around, considering my disdain feelings for 'christmas' (which I have made clear on numerous occasions). 

Other than boycotting all sorts of 'parties' that I am, in spite of my scrooge like exterior, invited to attend, I have been trying to find some project to keep myself occupied during this festive season. Other than knocking over christmas trees bringing good cheer to my fellow citizens.  The idea that I have hit upon is another type of hero project, and is probably more work than I am willing to do, but I thought I would toss it out here, and see if my vast readership one loyal follower would approve of it.  It is a small revisit of my hero posts, except this time I am going to take the hero of the day (whichever day it might be), and discuss what they were doing on their 42nd birthday. Where they were living, where they were in their lives, providing they were still alive, how much longer they had to live, and any other thing I can think of to toss out there. 

I suspect that, for the most part, it will be a depressing exercise, but I never claimed to be all sunshine and lollipops.  I am at least planning this idea with some sort of forethought. It will not start tomorrow, since it requires some actual research, and I am a lazy, lazy man. I don't know if it is a good idea or not, nor if it is worth doing or not. So I am throwing it open to a vote. If you care, please let me know, if not well then to hell with you.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Sure it is a bit of a 'tool' song, but it is a pretty good starting point for this post. It is, after all, all about secrets and giving them away. I am sure we all understand that we all have secrets, and giving them all away is one fucking dangerous idea. Freud had his secrets, mostly the identity of his patients. I mean who remembers Ernst Lazner, other than his family members (if any are still alive), but mention the 'Rat Man' and you will get a glimmer of recognition. Or at least that is the hope, if you don't, well then Freud secret is lost on the person, and will remain a mystery to them.

You do not have to be the founder of modern psycho-analysis to have a ton of secrets in your luggage, all you need to be is alive, and paying attention. Although paying attention is not strictly necessary. All you really need to do is be in the right place at the right time, and be able to listen closely. You manage that trick, and you have secrets galore being poured into your ear whether you want to know them or not.  Did you hear that what's his name, and his wife are separated? Or what about Mrs. Y who is married, but rather enjoying fucking two boyfriends? You didn't know that? Well just be sitting on the right bar stool at the right time, and you will find it out soon enough. What about Mr. X, who is in the middle of a very nasty divorce, and still finds time to have a girlfriend. Oh? You didn't know, well now you do, and now you have some dangerous knowledge to use.

Using that knowledge can be dangerous as well, after all, you have secrets too right? No one alive on the planet can fail to have a couple of things they consider to be a 'secret'. Things they would prefer the general public not be privy to.  Like to dress up as a cowgirl, and be tied down in the shower? Pretty sure you don't what that little peccadillo getting out to the world wide web. Like to be covered in peanut butter, and have it licked off by a combination of the family pet, and the pool boy? That is not something you would want the postman to know about you now is it? We all have these secrets, things we would prefer not to have to discuss with people we don't know. However, at some point we told someone, maybe our closest friend, and poof! There goes our attempt at keeping it a secret. Because that is the nature of secrets, they are just so very much fun to share. Usually with the old 'nudge, nudge, hint, hint, wink, wink' don't tell anyone else but I heard so and so about so and so.

In that way secrets become a kind of currency. You know a good bit of juicy gossip about your boss? Trade that little tidbit for an even juicier rumor about the guy in the mail room, and then pass it along later for a kick ass story about the boss's secretary, and midgets.  By now you are knee deep in the rumor mill, and loving ever minute of it, unless of course in your wanderings you happen to hear some awful, awful secret about yourself. It doesn't matter if it is true or not, and it may be quite false, and much less damaging that your real secret, but there you are smacked in the face with some piece of information about yourself that is circulating in the world about YOU. Information that is whispered in a low tone, with narrowed eyes, and a quick glance around to make sure you aren't anywhere within hearing distance. 

You may laugh it off as absurd, or it might hurt your feeling, or worse yet, you might be able to (based on the content alone) be able to trace it back to its source. Either way it is going to be a shock to the system, and something you have to address. After all, you were just the person that people told secrets to, not the person that gave away their secrets like candy at a county fair.  And that is the trick isn't it? Having other people give all their secrets away for nothing. We all want to know stuff, stuff that might be bad, or damaging to other people, but we don't want to give similar information about ourselves away to other people.

If you are clever, or brave, you might feel the need to start a good old fashioned, saw dust on the floor type rumor about yourself, and see how long it takes to get back to you. Also, seeing what form it is in when you hear it again is always instructive. How much has been added or subtracted? Is it the same general rumor, or has it taken on a complete new life of its own? More likely than not, it has changed in some significant way, and you will be aghast at the change, but such is the nature of secrets.

This is the 'secret game' that we all play, and that we all try to avoid as much as possible. The trick to avoiding being a victim of the 'secret game' is quite simple. You have, at least two choices, and which one you choose says a lot about you as a person. Option 1 is that you don't tell ANYONE your secrets, and that means anyone. Your mother, your best friend, your postman, or your priest. NO ONE ever gets the intimate details of your life, that way they can't be used against you. This option is tough, I mean after all if you choose this option is it unlikely that you will get told any secrets about anyone else because you aren't playing the 'game'.  It is a tough option, but probably, in the long run, the best option to pick. Option two (and the one that I generally pick) is just the opposite. That is, to tell everyone that will sit still long enough to listen, EVERY little secret you possess. That way you take yourself out of the rumor mill.  If everyone knows it, then it really isn't a secret now is it? Since it isn't a secret it really isn't worth knowing or repeating, and therefore will probably remove you from the rumor mill. It is a brave choice to make, and requires you to have nerves of steel, because even if you put the secret 'out there' it is always possible that it gets embellished in a not so good way for you. The trick is to not give a shit to show just enough honesty and indifference where giving all of your secrets away just isn't any fun.

As for me, I will continue to quietly sit on my bar stool and listen. Paying attention is free, and you can find out wonderfully juicy information, by just keeping your big mouth shut. I find having a full beer to wrap your lips around helps to keep them from flapping, and it is quite easy to listen and drink at the same time.  Until of course the person pouring out secrets wishes to be paid back in kind, then things get a bit dicey, but alcohol and a stern glance should get you through to the end.  

Sunday, December 12, 2010

11 11

There is a line in a song by a band called Something Corporate, that goes "I always check the clock, it's 11:11." Now, I am not sure about two things, first what the hell that line means to the moron who is singing it, and secondly how I came upon such a band. However, I am sure of one thing, and this is going to be a trip into the weirdness that is my mind, so be prepared dear readers.

11/11 as a date is certainly familiar to students of history, and back when I was a younger and more clever lad, I was a student of history, but that is not how the number is important to this particular tale. The important of 11:11 is as a time, at least in the twisted part of the story that I am trying to relate. The date DOES have a significance to me, and people who know me well enough (and where there on that major day in my life), will understand what that importance is, and why the rest of this story freaks me the fuck out a bit.

That day happened a little bit over four years ago, and it was not a date in which I covered myself in glory. It was, upon calm reflection, the day that I made one of the biggest miscalculations of my miserable life.  There were a lot of people who knew me there, and in theory they could have prevented my error, but the reality is they really were not in a position to prevent my mistake. And, it was my mistake, and it is one that I should own, and one that I knew, at the time, I was making. The good news, if there is any good news is that the mistake is mostly over. I say mostly, because there are two lingering issues from the fateful day that continue to 'haunt' me to this day.

This post will only deal with one of those two issues, and it is the weirder of the two. I said that the mistake happen on the day 11/11, but the numbers 11:11 are how I am reminded of the date everyday. You see, I don't wear a watch, I check the time by my cell phone, and my alarm clock. And almost everyday for about 2 years with very few exceptions, I check the time on my cell phone at 11:11 (a.m. usually, but sometimes p.m.), and this is NOT intentional. When it first started happening I thought it was a little odd, but nothing too weird. As it continued to happen it started to freak me out a bit, now that it has been happened for almost 2 years it is beyond weird.

It has begun to become a part of my day, like the daily rituals that we all go through just to get ourselves together to get to work, school, or the horse track, it has become something that I have become to expect to do.  In fact, if I somehow (rarely) manage to miss checking the clock, and it being 11:11, I almost feel disappointed, like I have let myself down in some odd way.  It is almost like a parlor trick, something that I could be local slack jawed gawkers that I could do without trying. I should try it for about a week, and see if I could make enough money to allow me to retire to the south of France. I don't know what this ability curse means to my psyche, mainly because I have too afraid (until now) to think too much about it. I have a feeling that if I did take the time to trundle off to Dr. Kronenburg, he would tell me a few 'home truths' that I would not want to hear. 

Those truths might just be more that I can bear, and I don't like taking on more than I can bear.  I have not done a particularly good job at explaining how weird I find this little phenomenon. It still creeps me out a bit, and when I try to explain it to people, they look at me like I am a mental patient. As I mentioned I don't know what the line in the song meant to that fellow who wrote it, but I am quite sure that he didn't mean for his line to become such a meaningful part of my life. I hope where ever he may be that he is being eaten by crabs proud of himself. 

Friday, December 03, 2010


'I hate you, I hate everything about you, I hate your smile, I hate your laugh, I hate what you make me do, and I hate how you make me feel.' These words were just the beginning, of what would become a tirade of epic length, and proportion, launched at me like a heat seeking missile at an invading jet fighter that has invaded enemy airspace. I say 'at me' but that isn't exactly true (or maybe it is). These words could have been aimed in my direction, or I could have just been handed a letter written by a friend's (so to be ex) girlfriend. That is for me to know, and for you to find out (if you care), and I can't give all my secrets away. After all, they are all just my secrets, but a lot of other people's secrets as well, and I don't have their permission to give them away.
Either way, back to the tirade. After that opening salvo, things got much more interesting, and in spite of everything, quite poetic. 'You make my voice shake when I talk about you. People understand, without knowing you, or our history, what you do to me. They listen, but they don't actually have to hear WHAT I am saying, they can tell by the catch in my voice when I say you name aloud the effect you have on me. You make me wonder about the meaning of life, about the meaning of MY life, about why I am here, and about why you are here with me. I sometimes wonder if you are here on this planet for the sole purpose of enslaving me. I wonder is maybe I was put on Earth for the sole purpose of being your victim. You make me shake. You make me wonder how anyone, anyhow, or anywhere could possibly think they have a grasp on reality. You are a dream and a nightmare rolled into one, wonderfully awful package. I wax poetic about you and yours to people who actually know you, but just don't see what I see in you. They shrug their shoulders at my declamations, and make me wonder if perhaps I have lost my fucking mind. I sometimes envision pushing you down a flight of stairs, just to see how your fall would make me feel. You make me want to board a tramp steamer to Norway, and toss my identity over the side as I sail far, far, away from you.'
'I almost did, I had a place booked on a plane to anywhere but here, I had a whole new life, without you, planned out to the finest detail.' Then you called, and asked for the recipe for my mother's apple pie, and I cancelled it all. I hate you for that with the type of passion than an Ottoman emperor reserves for only the most prized member of his seraglio. I tried blaming my friends for not taking me outside, and beating some sense into me, but they told me I am an adult (despite the overwhelming mountain of evidence to the contrary), and I could "take care of myself." I came very close to "taking care of myself" with the strong desire that maybe, just maybe you would have felt some sort of guilt if I had. I now know that you are incapable of feeling guilt. I am not sure what you are capable of feeling, or if you are capable of feeling anything at all.'
Not a lot one can do when faced with this sort of organized assault upon one's self, but sit there and hope that you are going to be able to salvage some small amount of self respect. I mean Hallmark does not make a card for this kind of thing. Nor should they, this should be an experience that is unique to you, and you alone. If you are lucky, the lashing you are receiving will be written down, placed into a plain envelope, and slid under your door at some bizarre time of the night (while you are dead asleep). Tirades are all well and good if they are heated and short, but a true 'dressing down' should be done in writing. That way you can re-read it over and over again to see if you truly deserved it or not. If you survive it, you will probably (hopefully) be a better person, but survival is the first step. You really have no one to blame but yourself, and that is the point. They want you to blame yourself. That is what the tirade (in many ways) is designed to do, get you to blame yourself. It is a very effective tool in the wars that we wage against each other, and people have been doing it for centuries.
Not that that makes you feel any better, you sit there reading those carefully written lines with an ever growing sense of dread, maybe you let out a nervous chuckle, but that is just for show. A well written, carefully planned 'dressing down' is a dismantling, and if done properly leaves you shaking for days. Both for the now damaged sense of self you possess, and for the person wielding the sledgehammer against that sense of self. Because, at the end of the day, you understand that a reply is necessary, and in polite society (of which you claim to be a member) is expected, and you have just been 'put on the clock' as it were. And like most things in life, the timing of answering a tirade is critical. Good luck, you are going to need it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Program

We are the Program. We have hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly episodes, and not all of them are enjoyable to watch. Some are sad, some are funny, some are tragic, and some, well some are just plain awful. We don't try to entertain, but if we do that is an added bonus. There is a set number of us, but sometimes the actors change, however the character remains the same. We are all, whether we like it or not, interconnected, and we rely on each other quite a lot. We have a limited amount of resources, and a varied degree of intellect, but we are doing our best. Well, at least that what we like to think. We like to think we are doing our best, but sometimes our best just isn't either our best, or good enough.

When our best isn't our best is where the Program loses focus (much like this blog post will soon), and an unfocused Program is a dangerous Program. We need direction, some of crave direction, but some of us don't take direction well. We are a team, but it is hard to notice it unless you pay strict attention, and you are paying strict attention aren't you? Most of the time if you anger one of us, you anger us all, and sometimes our (collective) anger is awful to behold. The Program (despite several attempts to make us) does not play nice. We don't have to, we are the Program. We aren't nice, and we don't really care too much if you are nice to us. Just be aware we have long memories, memories that go back into the mists of time, when the buffalo were still plenty upon the Plains, and we do not have to forgive, because we certainly won't forget.

The Program is defined by its members, and its members are sometimes defined by the Program. It is all very circular, and sometimes quite confusing, but the Program remains immutable. It was here before you, me, or your dear old gran, and will be here after you, me, and your lovely grandchildren have become food for worms. It is just that simple, the Program will never, ever, be canceled. Poor ratings, or lack of commercial sponsorship will not stop the Program. It might retool, it might come under new direction, but it will not stop. Sometimes the Programs takes you, grinds you up into small, bloody, bits that even your mother would have trouble recognizing, and spits you out. You will not be mourned, or remembered by the Program.

Do not attempt to understand the Program, for the Program does not even understand itself. You would be better off attempting to bail the ocean out with a spoon. The Program is ever math, science, historical, and religious problem that has no solution all rolled up into one tight, little bundle. The Program sometimes resembles a Monad, and there is a post on this blog that explains Monads, feel free to it up, and hopefully you will get the idea. If not, well, the Program doesn't care. The Program doesn't care about you, or me or about anyone in particular, and it certainly doesn't care what you think about it. It doesn't have to, it's the Program. What are you in comparison? To the Program, nothing. Once you sort that bit of good news out, and it will take some sorting, you might get a modicum of understanding of or from the Program. Until you do, the Program will roll over you like Patton's Third Army rolled into Germany. Move if you can, but be prepared to be flattened if you don't move quickly enough.

The Program has its lighter moments, but to get to see THOSE episodes you must be invited. It is an invitation only event when the Program 'lets its hair down', and if you are lucky enough to see it, you will enjoy it. The Program will make sure of that, all you need to do is to sit back, and enjoy the ride. That is if you are lucky enough to see it, the Program does not issue invitations lightly, and you would do well not to ignore that invitation. The Program can, and does on occasion hold a grudge. Much like an Albanian cherishes a blood feud, the Program loves holding a good grudge. Grudges are one thing the Program does very well. The Program has its moments of internecine violence, and sometimes those can be quite ugly, but remember this it will always present an united front to any outsiders, even if it is been racked unto death by inner turmoil.

Do not try to take advantage of the Program, and the Program will not take advantage of you. The Program tries, very hard, to be fair, but be warned fair is almost always a relative term. Fair to you is not always going to be fair to the Program, and the Program knows that, and all sorts of other things that you would be appalled that it knows. The Program possess a great deal of collective knowledge, and is also the home of some very serious individual brilliance, it is a dangerous combination. The Program is not unbeatable, or infallible, but it does not claim to be, it does not have to be, it is the Program. Try it, play it, and maybe even beat it, the Program will be there bright and early tomorrow waiting for a rematch, will you?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


I know you, I know you almost as well as you know yourself. I know your habits, you made the mistake of telling me your hopes and dreams, and I have them locked away in my mind, saving them for a 'rainy day.' I know your favourite colour, I know your favourite food. I know that you don't like green peppers, and that you think sushi is disgusting. I know where you've 'buried the bodies,' and I know what you're afraid of. I know the songs that you listen to the most on itunes, and the songs that make you cry. I even turned you on to a few of those songs. I know where you bank, where you buy your shoes, and where you buy your fruit. I know you like honey crisp apples, and not granny smith apples. I know your bra size, your shoe size, and your dress size. I know what length of pants you wear, and what brand of soap you use. I know that you're right handed, and in what country your grandparents where born. I know all of this, and I haven't had to google you, hire a private investigator, or go out of my way to collect any of this information.

I know what languages you speak, and that you are bad at math. I know your mother's maiden name, and if I tried hard enough (but I won't because its creepy) I could probably break your password(s). I know your natural hair colour (even if you don't), and I know the author you read the most, and the one you want to be like (and I know they aren't the same writer). I know where you keep the bottle of vodka that you sometimes need a nip of 'just to get through the day.' I know your birthday, your anniversary (of a lot of things), and the name of the first boy, and girl you kissed. I know what kind of car you drive, and I know how many times you've had surgery. I could probably continue for another twenty pages, but I think you get the point.

I know all of these things, because you've told them to me. Each and every one of these little nuggets you gave to me like an oyster opening wide for the pearl diver that is intent upon removing its treasure. And they are treasures, you know, each of these little tidbits that I have gleaned from you, about you are priceless bit of information. Information that helps me 'know' you, know how you are, how you were, and how you are going to be. That's right, I can predict you, if you were a racehorse, and I could bet on you, I would never have to work again. I can predict your behaviour with amazing clarity, regularity, and accuracy. I say this only because it is true, I am not bragging nor am I demeaning you in any way. I think it is fantastic that I know what you are going to say before you say it, and not for the world would I want you to hold back from saying it.

In the course of our time together you've told me all of these things, and more. While we were inhabiting smoky bars, or walking down crowded city streets, while we were passing the time on a subway ride in Tirana, while boarding a plane in Rome, as we were being mugged in Budapest, or when we were lost in Paris. During all of these times, and more, your hopes, dreams, and fears poured out of you like water out of a punctured gallon jug, and all the while I was there taking them all in, and making a mental checklist that I hoped I would never have to use against you.

I also know you hate suspense, and surprises, and you like to be 'the smartest person in the room.' I know you are way too smart for your own good, and more clever than you let on. I know you think that there is a 'twist in this tale,' and that at some point the tone of this epic is going to change for the worse. I know you can't stand not knowing things, and it is one of your most endearing qualities (up to a certain point). However, I know you, I know you too well, and I know that what will make you the maddest (and therefore, make me the happiest) is letting you ponder all of these things I know about you, and as you lie there in your bed alone, if you are alone, wonder what I am going to do with all of this awful, awful knowledge. For rest assured, I am sitting somewhere, somewhere we both know, somewhere far, far away from you, or any of your numerous minions that are bent upon my destruction. Some safe place from where I can, with impunity, tell you all of these things I know.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


The creature above, who appears to be giving the camera his version of 'the finger, is a three toed sloth. I suppose that might just be his/her version of the finger, if you only have three fingers/toes who's to say what is the proper way to express your feeling about having your picture taken by some meddlesome jackass with a camera.

Truth is, I don't like having my picture taken either, which is one of the two things I share with the above animal. The second thing is 'sloth' the animal above, for good or bad, has become a synonym for being a lazy bastard. I am not too familiar with the habits of the fellow above, he might be industrious but just slow. However, I am not industrious, nor slow, I am just plain lazy. Which, in many ways, is a terrible, terrible shame. In my previous post, I expressed my amazement that Krudy was about to churn out 17 pages a day of wonderful writing. In the week or so since I wrote that post, I have been thinking about that amazement, and have come to the conclusion that the number is not as amazing as I first believed.

The quantity is still pretty high, and the quality remains miles ahead of anything I could ever put on paper, but I figure that Krudy had a couple of very important advantages, (besides massive amounts of actual talent, which I do not possess). One of those, and perhaps the most important of them, was motivation. Krudy lived by his pen (for the most part at least, sometimes he lived by gambling, and off of admiring women), I live by having an actual job/career which requires my physical presence in my cube, a certain number of hours a week. Those hours either passed by actually doing work, or whiled away wishing I was somewhere, anywhere, else in the world, have a tendency to cut into my writing time.

This previous shackle on my time, also prevents me from living the dissolute live style that Krudy lived. I am doing my dead level best to live the libertine life, but my alarm jolts me awake at 6 a.m. every weekday. That has a chilling effect on my desire to stay out until dawn, drinking myself stupid, and telling my companions 'to come back, and talk some more.' Most of my companions are also gainfully employed, and would not be out drinking until dawn if I paid them, and that is something I am not quite prepared to do. I don't know how much of his output Krudy churned out during those long nights abusing his body with booze, but I suspect that even if he wasn't physically writing down his brilliant words, he was thinking them. I also suspect, that a great deal of his 'material' was found in whichever den of iniquity he was inhabiting.

The relatively few hours I spend in my own dens of iniquity do provide me with a great deal of material as well, though I have yet to learn the 'write this shit down before you get to drunk to remember rule'. There have been any number of blog posts, and 'characters' that have flitted through my life, and my imagination that have been lost to time because of my lack of ambition. Not that I would be able to do them justice, but at least the material would contribute to the 17 page quota that I should be able to meet. Even though I am forced by my economic obligations, and my lack of courage to just throw it all over, run off to Europe, and write or starve, this does not fully exonerate my lack of output.

The second advantage Krudy possess over me is actually more of a disadvantage to me as opposed to an advantage to him. Krudy did not have ESPN, FOX Soccer Channel, Twitter, Facebook, and a myriad of other external time wasters to distract him from his main task of writing. I am sure that he would have dealt with these distractions better than I do, but the fact that they are they is a huge problem for me. Clearly, being a lazy bastard, I can plop my ass down on my couch for hours, and watch American football, futbol, or women's curling without having a single thought worth writing down in my head. It is something that I despair of, but have been unable to control for quite some time.

Common sense tells me I should take the leap, cut the cable, and then just see if I can manage to increase my 'output'. Reality tells me that would last a week before I went crazy from boredom, or just starting spending even more time at a pub that has a Television. This advantage/disadvantage is entirely a product of my time, but it is something that I should be able to overcome. If, as I mentioned before, I wasn't such a lazy bastard. Since I am a lazy bastard, and I also don't take my writing particularly seriously, I am unable to break out of this vicious circle, and 'create' a blog post in a very sporadic fashion. These two issues aren't solely responsible for my lack of output, there is the argument to be made (and it is quite valid) that since I have not spoken aloud to another human being in two whole days, I should have loads, and loads of time on my hands in which to write something down. It is a very valid argument, and one which I have no valid rebuttal except to reiterate that I am a lazy, lazy bastard.

I am not as lucky, or as good a gambler as he was, nor do I have an army of admiring ladies to offer me financial support (amongst other things), but that is no excuse for being a sloth, and I am sure Krudy had his own set of outside distractions that may have lowered his production. I also suspect that, if he were alive, he would tell me to 'quit fucking whining, and get busy writing, or just give it up altogether.' Of course, he would tell me that in Hungarian, and I would probably look at him like he was as mad as a March hare, but in any language the point would be made. The good news is, if there is any good news to be found here, is that I have somehow managed to have turned being lazy into quite a lengthy blog post. I am not sure, since I am an American, but I am willing to believe that this fits the definition of irony.

Monday, November 01, 2010


I know, I know, this looks like some hero post part deux, and in some ways it is. The fellow above is one Gyula Krudy, and he is one of the best writers I have EVER read in my life. If you only read one (more) book this year, make it 'Sunflower' by Krudy. It is good enough to make you want want to weep. It is one of his few works that have been translated from the original Hungarian to English, and it worth whatever amount you pay for it. He writes so well that I have considered learning Hungarian just so I could read more of his works. He is quite simply that good, and you won't regret reading him.

If you do regret reading 'Sunflower' then I fear for the state of your soul, providing you have a soul. The book is so good that it doesn't even really have a plot (Krudy wasn't big on plots), and you don't even care. The writing, the characters, and the stories are so good that a lack of an overall plot is hardly noticed at all. Krudy was remarkable, he wrote his first articles for a local newspaper at the age of 16! 16, and published try that on for size. His father wasn't impressed, and attempted to get young Krudy to get some schooling, and learn a trade. That kind of life didn't appeal to him overmuch, so he ran off to Budapest to become a poet.

He didn't become a poet in the strictest sense of the word, but some of his sentences are mind numbingly good. I lack the words to explain to you how good he is, and I can only hope you find out for yourself. It might help to know a few little tidbits about him before you read him, those I can provide because they require very little imagination or writing skill. Feel free to Google him if you wish, because my few tidbits are just that, tidbits, and will not do him justice.

First thing is that he was a drunk, a true drinker's drinker. A man who drank country wine out of a carafe, but a man that few ever saw drunk. He was a nocturnal animal, and vice ridden. His biggest three were wine, woman, and gambling. He loved cards and horses, and with it came to his vices he always chose outsiders. In this way, we are very much alike, I love a good long shot at the track, and I love a good flake in the world of women. I wish I would have inherited 1/10th of his talent instead of 100% of his vices, but I guess the fates were against me. He was the guy who would keep your drunk ass out to dawn, and when you tried to sneak off, he would stop you and tell you to 'come back and talk some more.' And you would because he was Krudy, and you didn't deny him that type of request. He was quite the ladies man, and had a wife and children which he treated shamefully. I doubt he would be overly popular in today's PC world, but this was Budapest in the early 2oth century, and he wasn't overly criticized for his behaviour.

He would tell the numerous ladies in his life that 'he needed to be alone.' That he 'needed solitude' in order to conjure up the wonderful stories that were lying just under the conscious part of his mind. Perhaps the drink, and the solitude gave birth to all those lovely stories he wrote. The admiration I have for his talent is immense, and is made all the greater by the fact that he set himself a quota of 17 pages a DAY! He would write his 17 pages in whatever pub he was drinking on credit, get a cab to the nearest newspaper that would buy them, turn them in to the editor (without corrections) to be published, get his stipend for the pages, and go back to the pub. If only I could do that, just the once.

Times sort of passed him by, but he didn't quit writing, nor did he quit drinking or playing the ponies. He came to a bit of a sad end, one that would be worthy of writing a story about. Which a fellow author (Sandor Marai) did, and published it as a book (which has yet to be translated into English), all he left besides some of the greatest literature in the world, was some shabby clothes, an incomplete pack of cards, some books, and some racing forms that were years out of date. It was a 'good death', it was our kind of death.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Good News?

As I mentioned in the previous post (quick go read it, and come back, I will wait) last week I decided to 'go off the rails' a bit, and drink like a Roman Emperor. I have yet to total up the damage done either to my bank balance, my liver, or my relationship(s) with some of my fellow humans, but I am sure it is as high as a Georgia pine. People who know me, or people who used to know me know that I have a local. I actually have two locals because one isn't enough to handle the full force of my personality. However, I have been 'branching out' a bit as of late, and have acquired another place in which to drink myself stupid.

I am a man of habit, many talents, and a firm belief that you can never be friendly with too many bartenders. A good bartender is almost, if not more important that a good doctor. I mean you don't have to make appointments to see your bartender, and none of the multitude of the bartenders I know have ever asked me to turn my head and cough. They take it on faith that I have the present ability to pay the enormous tab I am running up in their establishment, and a couple of them have even let me 'bounce' on a tab when I became to drunk, or they were too busy, for me to pay. It is a proud moment in a drunks life when he walks INTO his bar for the first drink of the night only to be told he already has a 40 dollar tab from the night before. 'I knew you would be back, so I just let you go' where the words that my bartender greeted me with on that occasion, my father, rot him, would have been so very proud.

All of this is just a set up for the news I received on my last expedition in my second local that I made on Saturday night. Wing man in tow, I was drinking myself into a stupor when a oddly familiar voice called my name. I was a bit bleary eyed, but when I turned to the sound of the noise I was happily surprised to see one of my 'old' bartenders, one that I had not seen in almost 2 years. I was quite shocked to see him in the place, he had left to start his own bar, and I figured that he was gone for good. Plus, his parting, like most people at this bar, was not on the best of terms. A series of sad events that were beyond his control resulted in him losing his bar, and I was quite excited to hear that he had been re-employed at my bar.

Drinks were ordered all around, and some time was spent 'catching up.' Then a sort of horrible realization hit me like a ton of bricks. I think the major impetus for this moment of horror was I was just wrapping up a six day drunk, but as I sat there and reminisced about old times, I concluded that this news, while joyful for my buddy, might be fatal to me. He is a GOOD bartender, a fair bartender, and (most importantly) an attentive bartender, very rarely did I ever have to wait longer than 7 seconds for my empty drink to be magically replenished.

The 'bad' part to this tale of woe is quite simple, I have been drinking like a fish at this bar with a series of inferior barmen (and women) since this fellow left, now that he has returned I can only imagine that my drunken behaviour will increase fivefold, and I am not sure that my liver (even though I have recently been turned onto the wonderful healing powers of milk thistle), or my bank account will survive. I guess this is a simple problem of be careful what you wish for, because I have bemoaned his absence on more than one occasion. I guess this post is a bit of a drunkard's prayer (which is more than just a cornball song by a band called Over the Rhine), it is simply this let's hope my bank account lasts longer than my liver, because doctor's need to be paid as well, and transplants aren't free.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I'm OK, You're OK?

"Are you OK?" That was the question one of my fellow citizens directed towards me on the Tuesday night of this week. Generally, that simple question, one that we get asked numerous times in our lives, would not be worthy of commenting upon, but as with most things with me lately it is all about context.

That context is the reason that the question was, for me at least, another low point in my life (seems I have having a lot of low points recently). Tuesday was the night before a legal conference, which I was required to attend, began in my fine city. In other words, I didn't have to go to work the next day, but I did have to attend the conference, since the conference's start time was about 2 hours later than I generally get to work, then I figured I might have a few drinks with some buddies.

That day's drinking began a bit earlier than usual, and it was the first day of a week that has seen me eat, drink, and be merry like a Roman emperor. I figure I have gained 6 pounds this week, so next week, I will be eating like a Roman slave, but at least this week has been entertaining. The drinking was going as planned, and it was looking like another night that would find me bleary eyed the next morning. However, as with most of the plans that I am involved in, things went a bit off script rather quickly. A change of my drinking plans ensued (I asked a question I didn't know the answer to, and my drinking was curtained, serves me right).

The new plan entailed me not drinking like my ship was sinking, and I had to drink all the rum before it was too late, and sobriety began to rear its ugly head. That being said, I am not sure my next career move was a product of my residual buzz, or just extremely poor judgment. Either way it was a piss poor decision, and I was duly punished for it. It is a long story, and isn't worth getting to deep into right now, but it would soon provide me the reason for the above quoted question. Keep it mind, the is TUESDAY! Not generally a day that finds you facing the kinds of life tragedies that make you feel like you need a Greek chorus following you around to help narrate your life.

Again, I was foolish enough to ask a (very lengthy , and important) question that I did not know the answer to, and I was, once again, duly punished. It was this punishment, and my resulting reaction to it, that sent me reeling down the street in one direction while the person delivering the blow walked calmly off in the other direction. I decided that taking one of the convenient seats provided for citizens of my fair city by the city fathers, would be a good idea. A few moments of calm reflection were clearly going to be needed, and I also had to find some sort of cash dispensing machine, because my car was in 'hock' to a parking garage.

As I sat there wondering where that cash was going to be obtained, and feeling a bit like Lupus from 'The Bad News Bears,' a fellow citizen decided that it was imperative to speak to me. Of course, it was my own fault, it was 10 p.m. on a Tuesday in downtown shit city, and I was just begging to be panhandled. In retrospect, I guess I am lucky that I wasn't swarmed by panhandlers like a sugar cube in an ant farm. The one 'bum' that did manage to get his 'handle' on asked me for a cigarette, and wasn't even upset when I informed him of the bad news, that I am a non-smoker. To my surprise he merely thanked me and turned away to try his luck elsewhere. Well, clearly my demeanor must have been awful, because he stopped turned back around, and asked me with dead seriousness in his voice "Are you OK?" I am sure the shock was evident on my face as I replied 'I'm fine thanks.'

Which bring me to the eventual point of this post. The fellow was nice enough, and just because he is what is commonly called a 'bum' he was still human enough to notice that a fellow human seemed to be having a bit of a rough moment. Which was true, but I was unaware that I was so obvious about it. However, while I have grown to appreciate his humanity, it was still a low point in my life. If I look so bad that bums are asking me if I am OK, then my life has clearly taken a wrong turn. It certainly changed the focus of my calm reflection, and perhaps that it something I should be thankful for, it became much more focused on the whole of my situation rather than merely the disastrous episode that had just occurred.

I suppose that is the thing to be thankful for, a polite 'bum' that is willing to take the time to find out if maybe the fellow he just tried to cage a ciggy off of, was going to be a bridge jumper. Maybe he didn't want that on his conscious, or maybe he thought that if he asked, I would find some forgotten cigarette, or some cash for him ( I didn't so unlucky for him), or maybe he just thought that a bit of humanity was called for. I didn't have the heart to tell him 'I am far, far, from fucking OK.' That was the closest to humanity I could come, and I hope he appreciated it.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Over Due Part II

Of the 366 heroes of the day,

276 or 75% are dead

and 84 or 23% are still alive.

Those who are not still alive died at an average age of 62.9 years, a bit surprising, I figured it would be younger than that.

Over Due Part I

Since it has been over two months since the ending of the hero parade, this information is long overdue, but I am lazy.

We will start this with the easy part.

Of the 366 heroes

339 or 93% were Male (guess I am a sexist pig, big surprise there)

21 or 5% were Female


6 or 2 % were Things (i.e. words, things, animals)

Monday, October 11, 2010


'I do not ever want to speak to you again,' then the loud 'click' of the phone being hung up on me with a fierce determination. The dial tone didn't have much to say to my reply, which was just as well since my reply is not really fit for publication (at least in a non R rated forum). After a few seconds to realize what had just occurred, I hung up, shrugged my shoulders, and crossed her name off of my xmas list. I mean, she sounded pretty serious, and she was usually pretty good at doing what she said, not at all the type to hold in her emotions, which I figured was probably a large portion of our problem.

Being the unemotional type (her words,not mine, but I didn't deny the accusation when it was made), I had sorted out that our 'styles' were probably going to clash eventually, but I didn't figure that it would lead to the complete break down of all communication. Being the optimistic type, I kept her contact information just in case, I mean you never know when you are going to need bail money, and options are good to have just in case. And, if you have true friends, you won't be able to call them for bail money because they will probably be in the same holding cell that you are. Thus, keeping someone's number, who while not a fan of yours, might still feel enough pity for you to get you out of a tight spot (though the cost will be quite high), is not the worse plan to have.

Now the above glimpse into my life would not either be so bad, or so interesting (if it is interesting), if that had been the first time it had happened to me. Sadly, it was not, and it was not even the first time recently. It was the third time such a thing has happened, and since it happened recently, I am beginning to detect some sort of trend where things might just be 'me not them.' Each of them ended under similar circumstances (although a couple of them put more colourful language into their declaration of our relationship independence). All three were lovely girls, and each of them had their reasons for never wanting to speak to me again, the foremost being I am 'a raging jackass' (that seemed to be the underlying theme in each case).

Unfortunately, after a long think, a few Internet searches, and a couple or three beers, I was unable to find a cure for being a jackass that did not include ceasing to exist. Since that route seems a bit drastic for the situation(s) at hand, I figured that I would just have to get out of the house more often and meet 'replacement' people. I quickly determined this to also be a bit of a shit plan, since me and people just seem to have entire day's worth of misunderstandings, and just went out and bought a 1200 page book to fill up my (now free) time, and to hopefully avoid these types of 'misunderstandings' for the near future.

Misunderstandings or not, I took each of these people at their word. They had each, independently of one another, expressed the strong desire, and in no uncertain terms, of never wishing to communicate with me again. Fair enough I suppose, I can not imagine that my presence in any one's life is a necessity, and therefore I figured they would live 'happily ever after.' Therein lies the rub, 'ever after' means exactly that both 'ever' (i.e. never), and 'after' (i.e. again). Saying you never wish to speak to or see me again is fine, I can understand that wish, and in some ways I applaud the decision. To be quite honest, some relationships need to just end without the hope of revival. Years may pass, but the death of those types of relationships should be permanent. There is no need for a reopening of old wounds, or a digging up the corpse of the relationship to determine the cause of death. It died of its own causes, and no further examination is necessary. In my opinion, it is usually best if both parties sign the death certificate, but if one party is really determined, one signature is usually sufficient.

In all three of my above mentioned cases, one signature was enough, though in one case I would have signed if they would have told me that I could have. My signature wasn't there on the other two, and one of them didn't bother me at all. I might not have signed it, but I was pretty indifferent as to the relationship ending. The last one didn't have my signature either, and truth be told, I was saddened by the loss. It was mostly my fault (take that to mean it was all my fault), and maybe one day I will explain that further. However, for our purposes here that is all we need to know. It is the two other 'deaths' that concern us here, and the fact that it seems my relationships have a zombie like quality (meaning they are hard as shit to kill).

Case A (pick a name if you want, it won't be her name, and it doesn't matter), was the one that died over the phone. A fairly impersonal, but quick way of doing things, and one that I accepted. Calling someone that has just hung up on you with that last sentence is very rarely a good idea, and besides she was the 'take the phone off the hook' kind of girl. Fair enough, she sounded serious, she seemed serious, and she was serious, for about six months. Then out of the blue, as I am minding my own business, and not bothering a soul (it does happen once in a while), I get a text from her. 'Hey' that was it just hey, nothing else just three little letters, one little innocent word. No explanation as to why I got it, no apology (if I deserved one is debatable), and no reason why six months later I was suddenly worth talking to again. It was a bit like the six months of silence did not happen, from that 'hey' we just sort picked up where we had left off in our relationship. It was odd, but then again she is odd, and I am odd, so odd is pretty much par for the course.

Case B (again pick a name, any name will do), was a bit more entertaining, and had the 'decency' to tell me to my face that 'I never want to fucking see you again, get out of my sight!' She was also very clear, and used plain English (and a dramatic gesture or two), that she had no desire to ever set eyes upon my person again. Once again, more my fault than hers, and fair enough. I got the message, and slunk away to lick my wounds, and to begin to ponder why it is I do to inspire such passion (and not in a good way).

Two weeks later, guess who shows up in my life? You guessed it case B, it was odd for about 30 seconds (at least for her), but it seems that all was forgiven. It also appears that it is VERY easy to get mad at me, but slightly more difficult to stay mad at me. I am not sure how I feel about that. Since I like a good grudge like an Albanian likes a blood feud, I almost prefer someone to actually stay mad at me for a bit. At least they are sticking to their word. After all, never means never right? Unless 'they' have significantly changed the meaning of the word never without telling me, then something is horribly wrong with both of the 'cases' outlined in this post.

And then what is the protocol here? How do you pick up the pieces of a 'broken' relationship so quickly. I mean if two weeks, days, or months ago it was determined that I was just this side better of cancer, then what happened to improve your opinion of me? I certainly didn't change, and seeing the error of my ways become some 'better' version of myself. I have been working on that, and I can say with some confidence, failing at it. I am not a 'better' version of myself at all, I am the same 'version' just X amount of time older. Nothing about me has improved, and it has only probably gotten worse since you decided that you had had your fill of me. Having enough of me is a decision that I can respect. Coming back after saying 'never again' is something I have a problem with.

Which brings us to Case C, our third, and (so far) final contestant in the get fucking rid of me game. I know I promised not to mention it, but hey its my blog and I will write epics if I want to, you don't have to read them you know. This one was a lot simpler, a lot shorter, and in many ways, a lot sadder. Details of it are a bit fuzzy, and I am sure memories would be vastly different depending on which one of us you asked as to what happened, but the end result is the same. Over and done with, in a slightly less dramatic fashion, but done with nonetheless. I am not sure I wanted this one to be over with, but I understand why it needed to end, and that it was going to have to end sooner or later, but I wasn't quite prepared for it to be the 'sooner' bit.

The major difference with case C, and the reason I have vastly more respect for that person is she meant it. Never meant never to her, and I haven't spoken to her since the funeral rites were read over the casket of our 'relationship.' In many ways that is quite awesome, and in many ways it is quite sad. It is awesome because it shows that at least she was a woman of her word, and is not likely to change her mind, and she shouldn't. If she were to pop back into my life now, I would lose a lot of my admiration for her. It is sad because it shows how, at least on this point (and a couple of others) how truly compatible we were. Not compatible enough to keep the relationship alive, but compatible enough to make it interesting while it was. And that makes it all the sweeter, like apple pie and ice cream on a hot July day.

Case C is, mostly, the point of this epic. If you are going to 'think of someone only in the past tense' then you should stick to it. Expressing the desire to NEVER speak to another person again is the little red button on the console of interpersonal relationships. It is mutual assured destruction, not something to be trifled with, and not something to be used at someone because they bought the wrong type of milk. Not something to be used on a daily basis, but something to be brought out only when absolutely necessary. It should not be used in the heat of passion, but only after calm, icy, reflection. After all, it is some serious shit, and the person you are using it against might just take you at your word. When nuclear winter hits a relationship it taints everything, and if anything survives , it is probably so mutated so as to be unrecognizable. 'C' did that for us, she turned that key, entered the code, and pushed the red button. The resulting mushroom cloud and fallout killed our relationship as dead as dead can be, and it isn't coming back to life ever. Which is in some strange way, the best possible ending of any of the sad tales in this story. I guess the lesson to be learned is that all things end badly, or else they wouldn't end.

Saturday, October 09, 2010


To quote Coleridge, ". . . this lime tree bower; my prison." It is not quite as dire as that either for Coleridge when he wrote those words over a century ago, or for me, but I needed some dramatic flair for the opening line of this blog post. Although not as dire as prison, I do feel something akin to how Coleridge felt all those years ago. He was forced to stay beneath his lime tree, and watch his companions enjoy a lovely day without him. Hence, the poem, and hence the reason for him writing it.

There are no lime trees where I live, and I am mobile (except for being very sore from soccer practice) so I could just trundle my ass around where ever I wanted to go, if I had somewhere to go, but I don't. I sit here in my own mental lime tree bower trying to sort out what to do with my free time. There are piles and piles of books on a chest next to me that are demanding my attention, and certainly the trees that are still alive on my own little half acre of hell are shedding their leaves like a stripper at a high dollar bachelor party. At some point, they are going to have to raked by my yard staff (i.e. me), but for now I sit here pondering exactly what to do with the time that I have to waste.

Writing this post will pass some of those idle moments which seem prone to led me into mischief, but it can only achieve so much. After all, it is just a little blog post, and shouldn't try to get above its station. It has only a limited purpose, and a limited shelf life. One it shouldn't try to exceed, and the other it shouldn't try to last longer than its 'sell by' date. The problem is that its content is limited by several things, and I will leave it to your imagination (providing you have an imagination) to figure out the limiting parameters. While not a lime tree bower, and not exactly a prison, this post, this forum, this way of 'communicating' my, ever so brilliant, thoughts has severe limitations. Limitations that have shortened this blog post by several pages, much to the delight of my more attention challenged readers I am sure.

Limitations so severe that my inability to articulate them, becomes another limitation, thus making the circle of this particular medium complete. How to best explain, what it is that I can't explain? How to best explain why it is that I can't explain? I am not like Bruno Antony, in Hitchcock's 'Strangers on a Train', a very clever fellow, and therefore cannot explain what there is to explain. Perhaps if I were a clever fellow, or a more talented writer, or a man with more ability to obfuscate, then I could write something that would explain it all, and my equally clever readers would be able to sort it out. However, I'm not, and therefore, the cleverness (or lack) of my readers does not get to be tested. Lucky you, dear reader, you do not have to take the test that I, quite obviously, and with some aplomb, have so spectacularly failed.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Dear Me

After celebrating Thursday like it was the end of the world, I tottered home to quietly pass out in my bed, and snore away the hours until work forced me to get out of bed. However, it seems that the farce that passes for my life wasn't entirely done with me for the evening. A difficult (at least the parts of it I remember) phone conversation, led me to stagger out of my living room in the bathroom, where awaiting me was a very large mirror image of myself. One dirty look at myself was all it took to set me off on myself. There I was, drunk as a lord sneering at my reflection in the mirror. He (my reflection that is) sneered back, and since I didn't care for that I decided to give him, err I mean me, a bit of a dressing down.

It was a lot of things, but the one thing I am certain of was that it was just fucking awful. Only a person who has reached a certain level of intoxication, and fueled by the recently concluded difficult conversation can give himself the blow dryer treatment. I started with my looks, of which according to me, I should not be proud, I pointed out all the surface flaws, and found quite a few of them, with my person and did so in some very 'glowing' terms. I don't want to repeat what I found these appearance flaws to be, because one look at me (if you happen to see me) will give you a general idea what I focused on (with the limited focus I was able to muster). It was like having on anti-beer goggles. Whereas the women get better looking when I am that tipsy, I seem to get a whole LOT uglier, at least in my own estimation. It was not pretty, and I mean that both as a pun, and truthfully.

Perhaps things would have been better if I had stopped there, I mean a few coarse words about one's slovenly, ape-like appearance might sting a bit, but it isn't something that is going to deal any lasting damage to my psyche. However, since I am in fact, a total jackass, I could just let my appearance flaws be the only flaws of mine that I wanted myself to know about. Emboldened by the hurt look I had managed to make myself have by pointing out my own ugliness, I then proceeded to start at the top and tear myself completely down. It was a demolition job that would have done a stick of dynamite proud.

The worse part about it all, other than the fact it happened, and it happened in the toilet, was that I achieved a minor miracle. One that I am not too sure I should share, and one that I am none too proud of, it seems that while I was gleefully pointing out to me all the awful character traits I possess, I made myself cry. Isn't that just wonderful? I hurt my own fucking feelings. It was both extremely funny, sad, stupid, and pathetic all at once. The other problem, as if I didn't have enough problems already, is/was that this morning when I staggered out of bed, and trundled off to work, I remembered pretty much every bad thing that I said to/about myself. In the harsh (and with my hangover it was harsh) light of day, I was able to revisit all those awful things I said about me to me, and was still unable to deny the truth of any of them.

I would like to say that it was a experience in character building, and if anyone need to build character it is me, but I think the tear down job was so expertly done, and so meekly resisted that any attempt to rebuild is going to have to put on hold for a while. I didn't quite sow the ground with salt, but I certainly came close to replicating the damage that Rome did to Carthage. I guess there is no critic as harsh as yourself, and yourself drunk, and already a bit pissed off at you, is just plain awful. I mean, for fuck's sake, I made MYSELF cry. That is something to both be proud and ashamed of all at once. I had thought about writing some of these flaws down in some self-indulgent fit of pique, but I decided that perhaps that isn't the best idea. Because, after all, I may be sober, but who knows if the same reaction won't happen again, and making myself cry both sober, and drunk on back to back days, is just more than I can bear.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fair Weather

There are a lot of snapshots in my mind, moments that are forever frozen in time via a mental image that I am carrying around in my head. Some are good, some are bad, and some are (wait for it) just plain awful. Today's visit to my mental picture gallery is going to focus on two such images. Neither are particularly old, nor is either particularly unique to myself. Both of are myself, and a group of friends, each taken at different times, and in both I am the only common denominator. No one in snapshot number 1 is present in snapshot number 2 except yours truly. This should be a warning sign as to what kind of person I am, and the kind of life I led.

I hesitant to provide too many details of either picture, due to the federal witness protection guidelines, and various other reasons not to give away too many sordid details of my life. Suffice to say that one image is of a group of fellows at a bar (that's not too sordid, but notice I did not say what kind of bar). There are maybe 5 of us, drunk as lords, and drinking like there is no tomorrow, and who knows there might not be. Some of us would have to be up very early the next day, because this snapshot is taken on a weekday, and some of us did not have a job to worry about getting out of bed for. We are at various stages of drunkenness, but none of us would be considered anywhere near sober.

It is late, very late, like 2 a.m. late, and we have been tossing them back for several hours already, and the night isn't quite over yet, but it is on its last legs. It wasn't a special event, or any one's birthday, just a normal night for this groups of wrecks that bonded together over alcohol, and pub grub. Of course, none of us know it at the time, but this night would not be repeated many more times before the demands of "life" would began to weaken the bonds holding us together. It would be a subtle change at first, and barely perceptible to most of us, but for the thoughtful of the group (i.e. me) a pause during this night's revelry would contain the germ of the idea that 'this can not last.' And it didn't, two of the group moved away, one to one coast, one to the other coast, two decided that the charms of the opposite sex were much more interesting that our merry band of brothers, and one decided that alcohol had lost its allure.

That left me, uncharmed by the opposite sex to the same degree that my pals were, unable to pack my shit and just move away to part unknown, and I was certainly not ready to become some dangerous teetotaler. Fair weather comes in all sorts of disguises, and you never know when a spot of it is about to break over the horizon of someone's (some other one) life. You can't really blame any of them for their choices, in some cases they did not really have any choice, but as you sit there on your bar stool, alone now in the bar, you can't help but wonder if maybe you've made some really bad decisions in your life.

The second snapshot has similar issues, except it is taken at a wedding, and not a bar. Though a couple of our smiling for the camera faces are a little flush from the joys of an open bar, and there are similar stories here as well, kids, marriage, and movement tore this group of merry adventurers apart like a hurricane battering an creaky, old sailing vessel. Dashed upon the rocks of other commitments, the bands holding this group together soon snapped like a mizzen mast under full sail in a full on gale. Neither of these groups had any overlap (except me), and both have dissolved like a snail under a fountain of salt, and left me here sitting here in this storm in hopes of my own fairer weather.

The trick to fair weather is knowing it when you see it, it isn't like pornography, it doesn't just shock your system, or bash you over the head with a thunder stick proclaiming itself clearly enough so that any damn fool can see latch onto it. There is no dress rehearsal to fair(er) weather, you have to be in the right place, at the right time, and have to be in the right mind set. I am of the opinion that most fairer weather is a mirage, a temporary illusion that pulls wanderers off their chosen path. It is there in the darkness that it lurks, whispering its siren's song to those of us too drunk to ignore it, or too willing to listen out of sense of hope, promising us all sorts of things that we know, in our heart of hearts, that are just simply too good to be true.

Of course, we have all had this, or something similar happen to us, and perhaps it is just our fate to be left for fairer weather until we, ourselves, find fairer weather and then disappear from the frame like the ghosts that we called friends did before us. Until that day comes, if that day comes, all we can do is ride out the storm alone, but somehow content in the knowledge that somewhere out there this cold rain is lashing down on other people in similar situations, and secure in the thought that above all, misery loves company.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Third Time

She was tall, that was the first thing I would always say about her when asked to describe her, and generally the first thing you would notice about her when you saw her swanning into your field of vision. And I say swanning as a joke, anyone with legs that long was just one loose pebble in their path from sprawling head first in the dirt. Graceful in her own way, but a bit gangly in a lot of peoples eyes. Very tall, very pale, thin, and possessing piles and piles of bright red hair. Of course she had the freckles of a redhead, and of course I was quite madly in lust, err love, with her at the time. The time, now that I have mentioned it, was about a decade ago, back in the days when the buffalo were plenty upon the plains, and I was a much younger, smarter, and in many ways better man. Speaking of decades, there was (and still is) about a decade difference in our ages. That probably should have been my first clue that this, to quote Sting, was never meant to be, but did I mention she was tall, and redheaded? If she'd had a foreign accent, then I might still be paying alimony, and living in an a room above my mother's garage. My judgment, never my most sound quality, generally checks out when it comes to tall, thin, redheads of the female persuasion.

Also, she remains one of the quirkiest people I have ever met, which considering the zoo I work in, is quite an accomplishment on her part. We had absolutely nothing in common, (well, we eventually had ONE thing in common), and it was a mystery to the people that knew us both what either one of us saw in the other one. That made our relationship just that much more fun. That the mystery of our, quite mutual, attraction was such a puzzler to our friends, made the two of us feel like we were the sole members of some, deep, dark conspiracy against common sense, and our friends "values." It was a source of great amusement to us both, and was probably a contributing factor to us "getting together" in the first place. Neither one of us were really what you would call conventional thinkers, and as shocking as it may be considering my description of her (and its corresponding effect upon me), she was a pretty original thinker (and by that I mean she thought almost 180 degrees differently than I did) in her own right. Long legs, and red hair are a great way to GET my attention, keeping it, on the other hand, requires some degree of talent, and I am not talking about the pole dancing kind of talent (though, she did once, just the once, treat me to how her life would have been as a stripper, I still get goosebumps).

The fact that our relationship tottered on the brink of disaster was part of the attraction. Part of the joy of our (brief) time together was that I (nor her) ever really knew what the day would bring. If we saw each other, and flushed with the excitement of starting a new relationship, we saw each other a lot at the beginning, it could end in tears, screams, cake being thrown, bed, or us playing cribbage in park amongst all the old men playing dominoes and checkers. We just never knew what our (or the others) reaction would be just to seeing each other. It was just plain awful, and absolutely fabulous all at the same time. She would often, (as she loved to tell me), respond to someone asking her about me with the phrase 'Oh, him, he's great just don't believe his lies." Not the most endearing description I have ever heard of me, but she somehow contrived to make it sound like it was a compliment. The worst thing was, I took it as one after she explained it to me. She was that good.

Each time was different in its own special way, no one could fathom what we saw in each other (or more to the point, what she saw in me, what I saw in her was pretty obvious), and fairly quickly my more enterprising friends created a "pool" concerning the ending date of our relationship. Sadly, I was not allowed to throw my money into the pool, because my friends claimed that I would conspire with her to bring about the end of our relationship just to win the bet. Truth be told, they were probably right, and she probably would have went along with it for half of the dough (which explains a lot about my attraction to her). She was a gamble in her own right, being in a relationship with her was like constantly watching the ball spin on a roulette table. She was not interested in filling space, not concerned with being the one I wanted, or the way I wanted, she was a force of nature. Like a hurricane that blows through town that rips it to shreds, and leaving you standing there, somehow untouched, feeling survivor's guilt.

My group of friends would (eventually) be able to judge whether it had been an April day (their code word for a "good day" since my mood would be as bright and shiny as a spring day, and I would ramble about "birds singing, and flowers blooming" and generally be in a sickening good mood), or a November day (their code word for a "bad day" when I would be as melancholy as a Dane; cold, and distant responding to their queries about "what's wrong" with mere grunts, and dark looks. Spending my time brooding over my beer(s), as they tried to cheer me up, or get me to "snap out of it"). Generally, my April days were more of a pleasure for my friends, on those days I would wax lyrical about all sorts of topics, and keep them entertained for hours, also (and I suspect more importantly) I would stand them rounds of drinks until the barkeep told that "we didn't have to go home, but we couldn't stay there." Once they detected the clouds of a November day on my face, my friends became as scare as a virgin in a Chinese whorehouse, and usually concocted ways (i.e. bullshit excuses) for having somewhere, anywhere, else to be. Sick grannies, physics homework, yard work, or a sudden desire to take the veil would all be trotted out as reasons for my friends to flee my general vicinity on my November days.

In retrospect, I cannot blame them, brooding is an activity that is best pursued alone, and my November days were brooding days. On the bright side, my bar tab, while still steep because who broods sober?, was still much less than if my friends had braved my November day just for the free drinks. There were a few brave souls that, on occasion, would stick out a November day. Whether it was a genuine desire to cheer me up, or keep me from doing something stupid, or just an overwhelming desire for free booze, I never asked. I make it a general rule to avoid asking questions which, upon hearing the answer, will cause me distress. Besides, I was generally indifferent to their company anyway, and also these friends, whom I thought were so together have long since left me in search of fairer weather (but that is the subject of another post).

Our fights while not quite the stuff legends are made of, were not something you wanted your (or any) children to see. She had a remarkably large vocabulary, but when angry (and I made her really angry once or twice), she could swear like a fishwife. Actually, the swearing part wasn't her at her worse. When she was truly mad, she would find ways of making me feel like I was a cross between the Black Plague, and cancer. She was a clever lass, and early in our relationship figured out exactly which sequence of buttons of mine to push that would make me feel just how she wanted me to feel. I considered the word "high strung" to have been invented solely to help describe her, she was not amused when I shared that opinion with her. We didn't really fight that often, but when we did we figured we might as well get our money's worth, and those fair weather friends, if they were lucky enough to witness us savaging one another, would regale those who missed it with lurid tales of our attempts "to insult each other in the most arcane language we could think of." Some of our friends were convinced that many of the insults we hurled at each other in our stormier moments hadn't been used since the Middle Ages.

In the cemetery of my imagination, where I bury the non mortal remains of my failed relationships, each month I shared with her has its own, individual grave. In amongst all of those tombstones that have one name and two dates on them, she has several stones that bear her name. When I am having maudlin moments, which is happening with disturbing regularity in my life, I open the gate to that cemetery, and wander amongst those graves it is the group of graves that bear her name in front of which I linger the longest. Perhaps the fact that those graves exist, and that I continue to revisit them, is the greatest compliment that I can paid her. Standing there, in that deep, dark, place I never fail to wonder if perhaps a little more effort, or less stupidity on my part would have made the difference. It is standing there, in the half light between memory, and reality, pretending that I am not there, and this isn't happening, that I feel just a bit curious as to her present whereabouts. She always told me she was "destined to move away," that the town where we lived was just too small, and that she "refused to be swallowed by it." There was always that hint/whiff of "she's going to leave you standing at some terminal someday" about her that made you check the ticket prices for bargains from the nearest airport. To be honest, there were a couple of times where I almost bought her a ticket myself. I didn't care (when this urge struck me) where she when, just so long as it was away from me.

She was both a source of inspiration, and a great demotivating presence at the same time. When I would be stuck for a topic or for just the right word, I would make her stand (just stand fully clothed even) in front of me for about two minutes, and usually the bon mot would arrive. Other times she would come rampaging into my day, and point out my shortcomings like a contractor trying to refurbish a hovel, and turn it into the Waldorf. On those days she was like gravity, ruthless, impossible to resist, and always bringing me down. Maybe she was just a figment of my over active imagination, maybe I dreamt her after a night of just too much rye whiskey, and pink pills. Or, maybe she was all too real, so real that I just could not comprehend what was expected of me, and by the time I puzzled it out she was gone like water vapour on a spring day.

It was a tragedy on the scale of Romeo and Juliet (at least for me), but I never really expected anything else. Our relationship was destined to end in tears, and it was even money on who would be the one shedding those tears. After all, I was raised by a wolf, and she, well she was just too unpredictable. I never saw her cry, and I was never convinced that she was physically able to cry, to this day that remains a mystery to me. She taught me a lot of things, and most of things she taught me were things that other people would soon wish I did not know. In some small way, she took a hammer to my soul, leaving it shattered for quite some time, and since I am at my core, a rotten person, I exacted a terrible revenge in her name. In many ways, this post is an (extremely) long apology to those people that were in the wrong place and the wrong time (i.e. in my path after the implosion of us).

She was either fantastically wealthy, or dirt poor, I could never really figure out which. She drove an absolute wreck of a car, and would sometimes eat butter and saltines as her dinner, but would then buy the most outrageously expensive purses that I have ever seen (think LV). Like many things to do with it her, it made no sense to me, maybe she was a trust fund baby who liked living rough to see how the other half lived, or maybe she just didn't like food, but loved handbags. To be quite honest, I didn't think or care too much about it, because I knew that, at the end of the day, our finances would not ever be intertwined. I knew this, and yet I still, in many ways, ignored it. Like blowing through a stop sign on a busy street, it was not a good idea. She told me often that if "you don't expect too much from me, then you won't be let down." It was my mistake, my school boy error, to start expecting too much out of people is a sure fire way to have them disappoint you.

Of course, all of this groundwork I have laid wasn't the original point of this post. That point was to explain the third time that I suffered a beating at the hands of a bunch of clowns. I suppose I got carried away waxing lyrical about her, but she was, in some ways, the reason I took the beating, and that beating was the final act in the tragicomedy that was our relationship. It was, so far at least, the last clown beating I have taken, and it was by far the worst, and I don't just mean the physical marks it left. Those eventually healed.

It was her sense of the absurd that led to her purchasing the tickets to the circus, it was my sense of dread that tried everything I could think of to get out of going. I was limited in my excuse making, because who can tell someone that, they, a grown ass man, could not go to a circus because he was afraid he might get beaten up by clowns? You trying saying that with a straight face, and see how well it works for you. So, it was with great trepidation that I agreed to accompany her to the circus. She she "it will be fun, two grown up fools like ourselves, eating cotton candy, candied apples, and acting like we are 12 again." Usually I need no second invitation to act like a 12 year old, in many ways 12 is a bit of an improvement in the way I normally act, but when the circus got mentioned, I had the feeling that it was all going to go horribly wrong.

Even with my misgivings, I went, and at first things seemed to be going well. I managed to stay a fairly safe distance from any roaming clown I spied, and we were having a fairly good time. By that I mean no one had called each other a bad name in almost an hour, and no one wanted to go home early. I foolishly began to believe that maybe, just maybe, I was going to pull off this trip without a hitch. However, as usual, I was wrong. Maybe I had ingested too much sugar, or maybe I was just feeling a bit cocky, but I let my guard down, and followed her into the big top. I knew, somewhere in the 2 percent of my mind that still held onto to good sense, that the big top was NOT the place I needed to be. However, it was still a bit of a surprise to feel a hand on each elbow, and to hear "come with us playboy, we need to have a conversation," whispered so menacingly into my ear. I knew I should not have been paying so much attention to the daring, young man on the flying trapeze.

As I was frog-marched out of the rear exit of the big top by two not so sad looking clowns, I caught a glimpse of her. There she was, off in the increasing distance, smiling up at the human cannonball as he sailed majestically into the net set up for him, and blithely unaware of my "clown napping." I was hustled past the snow cone concession, past the elephant's shit pile, and into the darker, more remote areas of the circus, where you really shouldn't go with a bodyguard or three. My escorts did not deign to speak to me on our little constitutional, but I had a fairly good idea where we were going, and what was going to happen when we got there. I am no James Bond, I did not possess any cool gadgets that were specially designed for being taken prisoner by clowns (I am pretty sure even Q never thought of that as a eventuality).

When they got me to a sufficiently dark place, I noticed about 4 other clowns waiting patiently in a circle, and there in the center was their spokes-clown. It was, to my relief, no one I had encountered before, so for a brief second I thought "hey, maybe I can brazen this out." That was merely wishful thinking on my part, the clown in charge just looked at me and said, "I assume you know why you here?" The crashing noise I heard after was my hope that I was going to get out of this situation unscathed. I did say "I can explain, I promise" but they weren't in much of a mood to listen. I got out a few incoherent sentences about "her" being the reason I was there, and I like to think they helped a little bit. The "clown in charge" did say to me, as I felt a large presence behind me grab both arms and pinion them behind me "Tully says "hi" and that we don't have to break anything." After that, about three quick, hard punches to my solar plexus dropped me to my knees like a hot rock. I did manage to sputter to the main clown "tell him thanks." "Jesus, son" was his reply "Tully likes you well enough, he just wishes you would have listened to him." That was pretty much the last thing I remember, if I had some witty comeback to that line, it was lost in a rain of blows to my soft parts, and to the eventual (blessed) unconsciousness.

I woke up, several hours later, next to a bucket of melted caramel, and a stack of apples. It was clear that the festivities (both the real circus, and the whipping my ass type) were over for the night. I took stock of my situation, and realized that nothing was broken, and said a small "thank you" to Tully for his mercy. I guess you can still trust the word of a clown. Once I was able to, and it took a few minutes, I stumbled to my feet, got my bearings, and got the hell out of there as quickly as my battered body would take me. I knew for a certainty that when I did manage to make it home, that the scene that would occur would be just plain awful for me. That dread proved to be unfounded, once I got myself cleaned up, and presentable (or as presentable as you can be after having lumps kicked out of you by clowns), I trundled off in search of her to attempt to explain my disappearance.

I must confess, that I did not really have a coherent idea formed of how to best explain "clowns beat me up, and this wasn't the first time" to her without appearing to have lost my marbles. I hadn't quite sorted out whether to just tell the truth, or to attempt some extravagant lie (I always held the opinion that if you are going to lie, you should lie extravagantly). It would not, as it turned out, matter what I was going to say, because I never got the chance (until now) to say it. When I looked for her, she was nowhere to be found, not at school, not at work, and not at home. All I found was a note that read "I'm gone, don't bother to try and explain, and don't look for me. We both knew that you were eventually going to disappoint me." Of all the blows I took that night, both physical and mental, that note left the biggest bruise.

Of course she didn't just pick up stakes that night, and head for destinations unknown, that took her a while. The few times that we were unavoidably thrown into a social situation at the same time brought a new definition to the word awkward, and I am the walking definition of the word awkward. I am not sure, and don't really care if those aforementioned friends noticed the frostiness in these encounters, but I certainly did (she did icy with real determination). Those, thankfully few and brief, encounters were brutal at least for me. I never found out how she felt about them, and by the time I worked up the courage to try, she was gone, this time physically and for good. There may have been only four cardinal directions for her to have gone in, but that covers a lot of territory, I should know.

In two days, that will have been exactly 8 years ago. For the first 5 years or so, I would "celebrate" what I liked to call the anniversary of the death of our relationship by getting bombed, and acting a fool. That got old eventually, and cost me a couple of other relationships, and a few friends, it even cost me one night in a drunk tank. A few of those type of nights, and a few sobering hours in that tank were enough for me to realize that all the booze in the world (like all the king's horses, and all the king's men) could not 'put me together again'. That realization was the first step on the road to being able to write this story out without wanting to jump off a bridge.

After five years I sort of stopped 'celebrating' the anniversary as it were, and decided to try and bury her in my 'graveyard'. There she lay for about 3 or 4 years until recent events (never mind which ones, they aren't important to an already overly long story). My primary therapist, Herr Kronenbourg, is both a wise, and a literary man, and has helped me make great strides in my attempts to be the man I want to be, whomever the hell that is. I mentioned Herr Kronenbourg's literary bent because he was able to recognize the quote that almost always use when, in those foolish moments, I remember her aloud. I shamelessly stole the quote from Christopher Marlowe, but it is a good quote, and fairly sums up the, now end, result of our relationship. I will end this massive post with that quote because, quite frankly, this post couldn't end any other way.

Herr Kronenbourg: 'Thou has committed--'

Me: 'Fornication: but that was in another country; and besides, the wench is dead'.