Monday, January 31, 2011

White Blank Page

That blinking cursor that we all know and love is torturing me, it is blinking there at me on this white blank page taunting me, daring me to do something, anything to stop it from driving me mad. We have all, at one time or another, been the 'victim' of that devilish cursor. Just sitting there blinking at us, reminding us that we are bereft of ideas, or at least of the words to give voice to our ideas. It sits there on this white blank page slowly, very slowly, driving us mad. It isn't that I don't have ideas, nor do I lack for words. I am failing miserably in my attempt to become laconic. It is just that the ideas I have, the words I possess are bunged up behind a dam of indifference.

I have a couple of ideas for a blog post or three, but each of them are fraught with peril. I have one that might, if the right people read it, get me fired. That would be no fun, I heard unemployment is not an enjoyable experience. Therefore, that idea shall remain still-born, that post shall remain written only in my head. I have another couple of wonderful ideas that might, if (again) read by the wrong person(s) cost me a couple of friendships.  Since I am not overburdened with many friends, those posts too shall remain unwritten, except in my head. Those ideas shall not see the light of 'day'.  These not so brilliant ideas have to remain in the bookcase of my mind, since I am too big (and not in fat kind of way) of a moral coward to send them out into the wide, wide world.

So in the mean time, that blinking cursor taunts me, daring me to write something detrimental to myself, my career, or my friends.  Since, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, I am not a total fucking fool, I have to sit here staring at this white blank page without any idea on how to fill it, or the time before I nod off to sleep.  A dearth of ideas coupled with a yellow streak a mile wide have lead me to the desert of un- imagination.  The good thing, if there is a good thing, about this trip into the desert is that I know there have been many fellow travelers here before me. Great pioneers have tread some of this same sand, and left behind their foot prints for me to follow. Footprints that have already been here for decades, and will be here for decades to come, long after I stagger by in search of my own 'other side.' 

And I hope I will eventually find that 'other side' the side that allows me to 'write' again without fear of unemployment, or angry, angry emails sent to me questioning my sanity, or my fellowship. There is something out there in the middle distance waiting for me, and I can just about make it out. It is hazy, and it isn't very close, but I know it is there, and if I keep on the track of those who have gone before, I know that eventually I will find it. This El Dorado of my mind, the holy grail that holds my imagination is there ever so tantalizingly out of my reach at the moment.  However, I also know not to try to hard to obtain it, because the more I reach for it with my grasping hands, the further it retreats into the desert.  I have to be patient, and I have to remain calm. It is a game of 'nobody moves, and nobody gets hurts' that I am playing with myself, and I certainly do not want to get hurt.  Therefore, I stagger onward into the desert hoping that just over that next hill, or in that next chat I have with a buddy will provide me the key to unlocking the treasure chest of my mind. Let's hope that when I find the key, and open the box it isn't empty.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


A lot of things can be incomplete, passes, roads, paintings, books, and people. The good thing about most of those incomplete things mentioned above is we generally know they are incomplete with just a glance. When the ball hits the ground the pass attempt is over, when you run out of asphalt the road is done, the last pages of a book are usually a surefire way to tell if a book is complete, if there is a big white patch on the canvas, then the painting is probably not finished. However, with people it is virtually impossible to tell if they are incomplete until it is too late to do anything about it. 

That was part of the problem with 'number 7' mentioned in the previous post. We all knew him, some of us better than others, and we thought we had a pretty good grasp on his personality. However, as we gathered for that brief, poignant ceremony we realized that we were working with incomplete information. And that is the problem the incompleteness of our information about each other, or anything in the world. We all think, or like to think, that our boon companion, the fellow we have shared so many drunken conversations with, is telling us the (whole) truth. We like to think that he is being as honest to us as we are to him.

After the few of us that were able to attend the farewell left the place it was being held, we went to the local we all used to share, and begin to dissect the tragedy. For that is all you can do, huddle together for 'warmth' or band together against the world, and try to sort out why it all ended in tears. These things do usually end in tears, and you know that (even if you refuse to believe it) on the front end. We sat there on our bar stools (his left empty out of respect), and pondered what it was that he wasn't telling us. We began to realize that he was telling some of us different parts of the truth, but no one of us was getting the whole truth. Perhaps each of us were getting the part of the story he thought we wanted to hear, or the part that he thought we could 'handle.'

He didn't leave some long winded note or ribbon covered diary for us to sort it out for ourselves, and when we drove to the airport to ship him back to the land of his fathers, we just didn't understand why it had to all go so horribly, horribly wrong. Maybe those loved ones that receive him at the other airport understood him better, and maybe one day they will share that understanding with those of us 'left behind'.  The ceremony awaiting him, and those wonderful people is bound to be much lengthier, more poignant, and more personal.

The battlefield of his mind remains an almost complete mystery to us, and I have yet to decided who is more to blame for that. Him, for not trusting at least one of us to throw him the life preserver he needed, or us for failing to realize he was drowning, not waving right in front of our very eyes. Truth to be told, there is probably enough blame to go around, but that certainly does not make any of us feel any better. As for blaming him, it just seems wrong in some fundamental way, but I still do it. I blame him, even if I realize how horrible of a person it makes me seem. I blame him because I can't shoulder all this blame myself, and blaming him is the only way I can cope.

I blame him because I am so fucking angry at him that I can barely see straight. I blame him for having the last word. I like to think that if I could just talk to him one more time, I would shake some fucking sense into him, and I wouldn't be having to type these words.  I am angry at him for taking the talent he possessed (and he had quite a bit of it), and pissing it away. Taking that talent for so many things, some of them quite useful, out of the world with him when he left.  Angry that of all the self centered sons of bitches I know (and I happen to be one of them as well) he chose the obvious way of expressing his self centered-ness. People tell me that 'anger is just a stage' and that I 'will get over it' well, these people obviously underestimate my ability to hold a grudge. 

I shall, till my dying day, remain angry at him, even as I eventually forget him, and if I am around long enough I will forget him. He will stop popping into my head on a daily basis eventually, and I will stop remembering all those drunken chats we had. The details, along with the pain will fade, and he will become another ghost that occupies a small cemetery like section of my mind. A place that I visit less, and less frequently because of the pressures of my day, or because of the pain it causes. A place that eventually I will occupy as well for someone else in my group. But, hopefully not for a good long while, because I think that his choice, while having its allure, was the coward's choice. And even though on many levels, I am a coward, I am not going to give into to that siren's song. I prefer to make the Gestapo like demons of my life fight inch by bloody inch for any ground they gain, and so I will abide. 

Monday, January 17, 2011


There were seven of us at one time, seven fellows drawn together by fate, bad luck, cheap booze, and a common desire to pretend the rest of the world didn't exist. We liked to joke that we were like the seven deadly sins, and even tried to assign one sin to each of us. However, we quickly determined that each of us possessed a fair amount of all seven deadly sins, and we just decided to be what fate had intended us to be. That was a group of fellows that 'were mad, bad, and dangerous to know.' Or at least that is what some of us liked to say after we were a little too far into our cups to form coherent thought. We were a diverse group coming from 3 different countries, and possessing a wide range of backgrounds. Some of us were clever, some of us were smart, and some of us just were a combination of the two.

There was no real leader of the group, we were a bunch of strong willed individuals, and trying to lead this group would have only led to disaster, or to the hospital for the one of us stupid enough to try. There were no real reason for some of us to even be friends, except for the love of drink, and the ability to tell (and listen to) a ripping good yarn.  It was a happy time for all of us, even if some of us were going through some rough times in the 'real' world. That world that existed outside of whichever bar we were gracing with our presence, that world that each of had to totter off to at the end of our wild drinking sessions, that world that contained the day jobs that we each had to hold down in order to pay for our alcohol fueled 'lively times.' And the times were quite lively, we weren't anything special to look at, and I am quite sure that at times we were quite insufferable to the other denizens of our local, but we didn't really care.  We didn't start any bar brawl (but did finish a few), and we paid our tab, and even tipped fairly well. In short, we were rowdy, but not rude, and I am pretty sure at least one of our bartenders bought a new jet ski thanks to our patronage of his establishment.

However, like all good things (and I guess bad things) it couldn't, and didn't last. We were each living on borrowed time, and somewhere down deep inside we all knew it. We knew that whatever fate had banded us together against it, would prove to a fickle bitch, and would eventually pull us apart. We only hoped that it wouldn't be too painful, and that it would take just a bit longer before the wheels started to come off. That is the nature of these types of relationships, all is right with the world for the briefest of moments, and you take the occasional pause to look around you at the six other boon companions you are having such a good time with, and realize one day it is all going to have to end.  You only hope that everyone one survived the ending, and that it is quick, and painless. However, with seven wildly diverse personalities, and seven different gene pools, there is always 'one at every party' that makes things just ever so difficult. This post is (eventually) going to be about that one.

Before we get to that 'one' we have to at least begin to see the, ever so subtle, disintegration of the group as a whole.  None of us really noticed the loosening of the bonds that once held us so tightly together, but it was pretty plain to see. Perhaps the booze made us blind to the obvious decay, or perhaps we just didn't want to come to terms with the obvious. Either way, it was happening whether we cared to acknowledge it or not. It felt sudden, but in fact it was just merely inevitable, and when it came it came with the force of a Mongol Horde. One day we were seven in clover, the next day we were buzzing about the news of one of us 'tying the knot.'  It can happen just that quickly.  We all knew, the one tying the knot most of all, that we were now going to be six. He wasn't dying, but we knew that things just wouldn't or couldn't be the same. After all, if you have six, and a vote is necessary, a 3-3 tie is quite likely to be the outcome, and we had just lost the tie breaking vote. We were, quite rightly, devastated. 

He tried to pretend that things weren't going to change, but we all knew by the shake in his voice, and the look on his face that he was lying. He knew it too, he just didn't want to be the one to say it aloud. We had a fellow for that kind of stuff (not him), and eventually he did get just drunk to say exactly what we were all thinking. "Well, that's him then isn't it?" was the general gist of his summation, and we all knew he was right. But, being stalwarts of the art of comradeship, and drinking, we soldiered on, we even went to the wedding, and afterward placed bets on how long the marriage would last.  Then we were six.

Most things that begin to fall apart do so rather quickly, and once we lost our first man, the others started dropping like flies. One moved away to another state, cleaned up his act, and seems to have found some sort of religion. It is a disturbing image for those of us who knew him back in the day, but he seems to be happy. And I guess happiness takes on many forms, even if we don't understand it, or even approve of it. It was quick, brutal, and necessary, but his leaving was still a blow, and it left it mark on us all. Then we were five.

I supposed after that fate sensed the weakness in the remainder of our happy band, and she begin to lob life changing hand grenades at us like kids in a Halloween water balloon fight.  The next to go decided to try his hand at his own business ( a bar of all fucking things), and while it wasn't too far from us, the remainder just was too deeply in their 'drinking rut' to be bothered going those miles out to the place.  It was not a happy chapter in the history of the group that several of us never even went to the joint to at least have one beer, and catch up on old times.  It is a solid black mark against the survivors that we did not do this simple task, and some of us still feel the shame all these years later. It was a roaring success, this new business, until recently when mother nature (the bitch) decided to drop six feet of water onto the place. It was not pretty, and it proved to be a watery grave for the business. But, that is getting ahead in the story, after he left, we all missed him, and talked about 'going to see him' as if he was in Federal prison, but like I said, we never did. Then we were four.

These 'defections' begin to take their toll, like an infection that just keep getting worse, weakening the host before finally finishing it off. We tried our own brand of 'anti-biotics' by trying to bring other people into the group to replace the ones that had left. That was not a success, we made the mistake of trying to go 'co-ed', and, as expected that was a raging failure. We became really good at failures after a while, and anyone with any brains could see that the death knell had been sounded, it was just the remainder of us that were deaf to the bell's toll. 

The love bug struck down another one of us pretty quickly after we when co-ed, and the blushing bride (really a lovely girl) was one of the females that had crossed our gender line. It was a bitter lesson, and we learned it the hard way. Women have a tendency (without really meaning to sometimes) to complicate things.  It was another wedding that the rest of us were required to attend, and happily enough it is still going strong today. We all are glad about that, and we do not begrudge the couple their perfect life (it is disgustingly perfect in many ways) but there is always that little bit of 'he was ours first you know' feeling that lingers even today. It isn't a pleasant feeling, and it isn't really held with any malice, but it is there none the less. Then  we were three. 

Marriage had claimed two of us and two of us had relocate, so now relocation decided to take the lead. One of us got a job halfway across the country that he just couldn't turn down, and he had to pack his trash and move. He was in many ways one of the stalwarts of the group, he could always be depended on to just be there, and in this kind of company, just  being there counted for a lot. He became incomprehensible to understand when he was deep into his cups, and on more than one occasion I was the only one able to understand a word he was saying. Eventually, he became impossible even for me to translate, and I would have to tell him that "I haven't understand a word you've said in 30 minutes, it's time for you to go home." And, he usually did, muttering something unintelligible, but probably vaguely threatening in our direction, he would stride out of the place like he actually had somewhere to be.  He eventually did have somewhere to be, and that was a place about 2500 miles away from the rest of us. He is deeply missed to this day. Then we were two.

The surviving two of us took at look around at the carnage, and came up with radically different solutions to what they thought was the problem. One of us quit altogether, he put down his booze filled glass one day, declared he was 'off the sauce' and has been seen very rarely since. He is trim, and slim, and all healthy now that he doesn't try to poison himself with alcohol four times a week, but he can be quite a bore. He was a loquacious drunk, which is acceptable, but now he is just a sober guy that talks a bit too much, which isn't nearly as much fun. I can not fault him for taking his chosen path, and he seems to be actually enjoying the sober life, which does boggle my imagination, but I guess there is no counting for taste.  He seems to be happy, and I suppose happiness is hard to find drunk, maybe if you're sober happiness grows on trees.  I don't know, nor do I intend to find out, but I wish him all the best. Then we were one.

As you might have guessed this post is about that one. The one that was left behind. Unlike our sober fellow above this one chose the darker path. I think he chose to attempt to make up for the other six leaving by drinking their share of hooch as well. He did a valiant job of trying, but eventually it became more than he could bear. We didn't fall off of the planet, and the ones of us that stayed around would try to stop his descent down the path of destruction, but we just were not able to. Maybe if we had been around a bit more, or paid just a bit more attention, or just punched him in the mouth a couple of times as a wake up call, things would have been different. But, we didn't or couldn't and things went about as badly as they could have gone.

We couldn't help but feel that, at some fundamental level, we failed him, failed to see what the 'break up' of the group had done to him, failed to realize, that while he may have been the brightest of the lot, he was also the one who had the most demons. And demons are horrible, horrible things. They get inside of your head, and say the most cruel  things, things that aren't close to being true, but you don't know, or want to know that. The sauce has clouded your judgment, and your ability to determine which are true, and which are false. None of us realized that was the battle taking place with our buddy on a daily basis, we were either too wrapped up in our own lives, or just too fucking stupid to pay the required amount of attention. And it was attention that was necessary, attention to the war being waged within his mind on a daily basis  Attention to the war he was losing step by bloody step.  By the time any of us sorted out what was going on it was too late, and we (the ones that could make it) were attending another, much more solemn, ceremony with him. Now there are six of us.