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.