Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Death of Time

The above picture is of what was, until about 3 o'clock this morning, my oldest most prized possession. It is a alarm clock that I have had for almost 22 years. I am not sure of the exact date or time (get it) that I bought the above item, but it was ages, and ages ago.  It was made by the Spartacus company of Louisville, Mississippi, and I have over the years almost written the company to thank them for their long lived product, and to perhaps see if they were still in business. I never wrote them, and today I regret that decision.

Coming home drunk last evening probably contributed to the death of my alarm clock. I was a bit tipsy when I fell into my bed, and I had to plug in my phone, as I did I pulled the extension cord that my clock was plugged into onto the bed with me. A sudden flash, a loud pop, and a horrible burning smell immediately took place, and I look over bleary eyed at my clock to find the face blank.

This is the burn mark the death of my alarm clock left in my blanket, but there is a much larger hole in my life. I knew the wires had a bit of age on them, and that perhaps it was time to invest in some electrical tape to extend the life of my alarm clock, but I had not gotten around to it until, as it turns out, it was too late.  The clock was beyond any sort of repair, and I was actually concerned that the electric outlet was about to explode, and take my entire apartment with it. Also, being a bit drunk, things were a lot more complicated to understand at the time. This is a sad report of the last moments I spent with my trusty alarm clock. I feel that if only I had been more cautious, and less drunk, or if perhaps I had not moved the cord the exact wrong way, then I would not be writing this dirge today.

Forget the  madman in the box, or any other sort of time machine. This clock was my companion for 20 years. It saw me enroll in, graduate college, enroll in, and flame out of graduate school, enroll in and graduate law school. It has moved with me to and from Mississippi, and back to my present town. It has seen me get married, buy a house, and then divorced, and sell that house. It has been in countless apartments with me, and has seen me make most of the tragic mistakes in my life.  Many a 'companion' have been awakened by my alarm clock, they were quite impressed that the clock and I had such a close connection that I would be able to say 'The alarm is about to go' and would hear me interrupted by the noise of the alarm finishing my sentence for me.  I was also very attuned to the nine minute snooze function. Several times bedroom activity other than sleeping was timed to that glorious nine minutes.

It remains probably the best ten dollars I have ever spent. It was the only thing that could qualify as an 'heirloom' in my minimalist existence. I am not someone who grows overly attached to my personal possessions, and yet this clock had survived almost as many disasters as Hercules had labours.  I know that over the years I called it several foul names, and slammed my fist down upon it telling it 'to shut the ever loving fuck up' and that 'I'm awake you whiny bastard.' It took all that abuse and still survived, managing to wake me up from the deepest (drunken) slumber with what is still the most annoying noise I have ever heard.

Perhaps my neglect of my longest serving bedroom companion is a metaphor for the neglect that I lavished upon the other companions that shared the bedroom with my clock and I.  If I had paid more attention to those fraying wires, and I had obtained the simple fix (i.e. tape) that would have repaired those wires, I would not be here sans alarm clock (and other bedroom companions) today. Perhaps fraying wires, and electrical tape are also metaphors for the overall status of the failed relationships that the clock has been witness to over the years. All these metaphors, and all the king's horses and all the king's men cannot put either those relationships, or my clock back together again. 'They' (whomever they are) say wisdom comes late, and maybe I hit the snooze button once too often when wisdom came calling. Good night sweet prince. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Hiver en ma coeur

"It must be winter in my heart" ---- The Avett Brothers

The title of this post is lifted from the title of a song by the Avett Brothers, and it is with apologies that I steal.

I know that the beginning of winter was just a couple of days ago, and I suppose this post is a day or two late, but that what happens when you are as cripplingly lazy as I am. However, the date on the calendar need not overly concern us because, as the song says it must be winter in my heart. It must be because I have to make it so. Just like number One 'makes it so' on the command of Captain Picard, I have given the executive order to make it winter in my heart. That order will not be as simple as the 'making it so' seems to indicate, and it has taken quite a bit of moral fortitude to give that command. I am not overly endowed with moral fortitude, and I have had to sit myself down, and give myself several stern 'talkings to' in order to be able to with any sense of purpose give the order that will bring winter down upon my heart. 

It must needs doing because of you my dear child of summer. You were born in the hottest month of the year, and winter is your deadly enemy. Well, get prepared to face your worst enemy, because winter has arrived in my heart. The frigid air will greet you upon your arrival, like an evil Wal-Mart greeter, the air is not here to make you comfortable it is here to freeze you out. Out of my heart, out of my system, and finally out of my life. There is no room for a child of summer in the winter of my heart. It has been created specifically to rid itself of the poison that is you. The starkness of the deadliest winter your limited imagination can conjure up is what you are face my child of summer. You are not prepared for this, this is the last winter of my discontent. No bright summer sun of York will arrive like the 7th Calvary to save you from the massacre of the winter.

The leaves of spring have fallen, and all you will see as you peer myopically around the winter of my heart are the branches of trees that have packed it in for winter. The dead branches are a symbol, a symbol that you, in your vanity and your ignorance will not understand. They are just the precursor, the first sign that you have wandered into a landscape that is not your friend. A landscape created, and being created by my force of will. A will that I had to summon to expel you from the (no longer existing) warmth of my hearth. To be honest, something I am certain you've forgotten how to be, the warmth of my heart was never, even on its best (hottest) day, too warm. It could sustain, barely, a person who wasn't afraid of a touch of coolness in the air. You, as a child of summer, can not handle coolness, and you should shudder at the thought of the coldness of the winter that is fast approaching.

It must be winter in my heart, all warm things must go the way of Dodo bird, they have to become extinct. The carnivals of spring and the festivals of summer have to be eradicated, removed from the equation that contains you.  If you pay attention, which you so rarely do, you will notice the cemetery off to the side. The graveyard that contains your predecessors the people that trod this cold path before you. You will notice, I hope, as you walk this icy path that in that cemetery are many stones, if you are adventurous enough to pause before them you will see a name, or maybe two that you recognize. If you study the dates you will also detect a pattern. The starting dates are as varied as the spice choices in a Turkish market, but several of the end dates are very similar. The years are different of course, but the month and day are very close in time. Several of them have this time of year engraved on their stone.

And if you are willing to stand there in the graveyard of relationships a little longer, you will see a stone with a very familiar name engraved upon it. You will also notice a dark figure coldly chiseling today's date in the stone. That is me, this is winter both by the calendar, and in my heart, and I am engaging in a very time honoured tradition. You see, I do not 'do' Christmas, I ruin Christmas. It is what I do, what I am doing, and probably what I will continue to do long after you, child of summer, have succumbed to the long, cold winter that is now in my heart. You will succumb you know, just as the flowers that are all red, pink, and blue wither and die as the first touch of frost lights upon their delicate petals. You too will wither, shrivel, and fade back into the ground from which you sprung. Winter is the time of empty flower beds, stark naked tree branches, and pure untrammeled snow. In that crisp, clear, frigid air, you will notice that the stars look as if a madman threw them up into the sky in some incoherent pattern, a pattern that a madman such as Van Gogh would struggle to make sense of, but I realize the pattern, after all I made the pattern, I made the path upon which you tread, I made the gravestones which you read, and I made the winter in my heart. I wish you luck.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

7th Place is No Place

A NASCAR racer by the name of Junior Johnson one said "second place is no place." Being a 'good old boy', Junior was at least bright enough to notice how the winners circle only had room enough for one, and he was determined to be that one, every chance he got.  I'm fairly certain old Junior also noticed that all the cameras, girls, and most of the money were also being distributed in the winner's circle, and when he finished second, not a whole lot of attention was being payed to him.  Patton once said that 'Americans love a winner', and he was right. Who wants to be Miss Congenitally? To be told well honey at least you have a great personality.  The second most beautiful women in the world, who remembers her except maybe her parents and the slug lucky enough to be banging her, and he is probably only doing that as some sort of consolation fuck.

If second place is no place then try to extrapolate that out a few more places. Does anyone, other than fans of the team involved, or punters who lost money on them remember who LOST the last World Series, World Cup, Super Bowl, or Euros? A limited few, and the only reason the number is as high as it is, is because some of those losers are entire countries.  Few of us neutrals remember the loser, the second place bastard who on his or her day just 'wasn't quite good enough.'  Third place? Hell boy, they only give prizes for 3rd place in the Olympics (which I am sure M. Johnson would find highly suspect), and horse racing.  The horse doesn't know any better, and the poor 3rd place Olympic bastard has to stand on a podium, and listen to the winner's national anthem blare out that he is the second loser of the lot. I am sure the bronze and silver medals are nice, and make a good story to tell, but they don't call it the 'ecstasy of the gold' for no reason.

Fourth place is the superfecta in horse racing, a bet that only the truly idiotic, or optimistic (which are actually the same thing) even bother trying to hit. Once again, the horse doesn't know any better, he or she is just trying to get that screaming, whip happy midget off their back, and go back to the barn and eat oats, or whatever horses do in their spare time. Fifth, or sixth places? Really do you remember the sixth fellow to climb Mount Everest (it was Hans Rudolph von Gunten, and he did in May 24th, 1956), and I am quite sure he was cursing Edmund Hilary's name the entire trip.  Yes fifth and sixth are some sad sacks, some lonely men or women who probably really shouldn't have been in the competition to begin with. What sort of excuse do you provide your fans, your trainer, or even yourself for finishing 6th? Depending on the size of the field, in theory 6th isn't that bad, but still who is going to record your feat for the sake of posterity. You aren't even going to be the answer to a trivia question, because no one would get the answer right.

This leads us to 7th place. 7th place in horse racing will usually give you a clear view of the field, from the back. Not a whole lot going for you if you finish 7th. I suppose a lot of Olympic events finals consist of eight places, so you aren't dead last, but you are a lot closer to last than you are ever going to get to first.  I was recently 'semi' involved in a competition in which it was clear that I was going to finish 7th. I was unsure of the size of the field, but even before I had a chance to 'ride the lists', I knew that places 1 through 6 were already predetermined.  Seventh place was and is not appealing to me, and I chose 'not to run' (a la Jerry Seinfeld). The candle (as the saying goes) was just not quite worth the game. I do not (as a general rule) like to lose, in anything. Play me in checkers, video golf, trivia, or cards, and you will find me a stubborn competitor. I may not be the best at anything, but I certainly am not 7th best. One could say that just because you know you aren't going to finish in the top six is no reason to not compete. Do it for the love of the game, and all that other bullshit that coaches spout out to teams they know are full of losers, mommy's boys, and myopic asthmatics. Truth be told, I have engaged in many a contest where I knew I was going to have my ass handed to me on a plate, with a side of 'I told you so' sauce.  Besides, there was no love involved in this game.

This game's outcome was long since determined before my invitation 'to play' was received. I don't like to lose, and I like pre-determined outcomes even less. The game continues apace without me, and I am no longer interested in who finishes 7th place in it.  I am still uncertain of the size of the field, but it seems to be a crowded one. More power to the people who are playing it for the sake of saying they finished the course (as it were), but for me, and the few shreds of dignity I have remaining, I will respectfully return my ticket, take my toys, and go the fuck home.  After all some of the finest competitors in the world have had enough sense to understand that sometimes it is the race NOT run that defines them just as much, if not more, as the races they ran.  God Jul.

Friday, November 29, 2013

You, of the Third part

To continue my own personal (late) holiday tradition.

Today, I have recently decided is going to be a 'you' free day. I know it is a little late to be deciding it, but better late than never. I have made this decision after some calm reflection, some deep thought, and the most important way I know to make a decision, i.e. I flipped a fucking coin.  Therefore, today the day after the holiday that I like to ruin for the hell of it, is going to be sans you. Make no mistake, it is not a easy decision, nor is it taken as lightly as the preceding sentence would imply.  A lot of soul searching, and great deal of thought, and a sustained effort has gone into making this simplest of decisions. The decision to have nothing to do with you today. 

The decision is, of course, made more difficult by the fact that it has been ages upon ages since I have had a 'you free' day. In this information/technology age in which we live, we have spent the last years/months/days in almost constant contact. There are very few places that either of us could run to (if we so chose) that would put us out of the reach of the other.  That, up until today, has be equal parts fantastic and stifling. I am sure that each of us would have, at some point in this time period, wished for a 'free' day. I am making the unilateral decision that today will be that day. The irony of it will be that you won't really know I've made this decision until the embargo is lifted. After all, it is a 'you' free day. I can't tell you on the front end it is happening or the ensuing argument/discussion would probably take most of the day. That would just be unacceptable.

It will be a tough thing to do, to make today a 'you free' day, after all, in the time we be intertwined in each others lives, I have woken up next to you, woken up wondering where you were, woken up with other people, and have figured you have woken up with others as well. Part of the 'us' was the fact that 'us' wasn't ever really just an 'us.' Other people have a tendency to get 'in the way' as it were, and both of 'us' know this. And therein lies what is mostly the rub about the entire situation. The fact that there isn't an 'us', isn't going to be an 'us' and probably wasn't an 'us' for longer than 2 hours over the entire course of 'us' knowing each other.

We were, and we remain 'seas too far to reach' for each other. A bridge too far, one step out of each others comfort zones, and that is never, ever going to change. No matter how hard either or both of us try. I know I haven't been trying that hard to change it, and when I am speaking to you again, I will ask you how hard you've been trying, though I already know the answer.  It remains an article of faith that I don't ask questions that I don't already know the answer to, and that upsets you more than you like to think I realize. 

Your phone will ring, you will receive text messages, the mail will still be delivered to your door, and unknown numbers of people will interact with you personally today, just not me. I, like most people today, have a phone addiction, but you will not be feeding it today. I thought at first just to react to any communication that I received from you, but then I realized that would be cheating, and have determined to make you person non grata for today. I am not really sure you will notice overmuch, and when/if you do, I am also not sure what your reaction will be, there is another problem that we have. After all of our time together those two things (amongst many others) should be settled or predictable. You should have noticed, at least by now, that you haven't heard from me, and I should with all the previous knowledge I posses of your moods (and their swings) know how you are going to react to me not answering any communication I receive from you.

Truth be told, you might be euphoria about it for all I know, or it may make you as melancholy as a Dane, or you might just not give two shits because it's Black Friday, and you have some other person in a headlock trying to get the watch that you both really want. I, at least for today, should not be counted among the people that care what you think or feel.  Life is a cruel, cruel mistress, and she teaches us many lessons along the way, but on occasion she needs help. She needs us to provide ourselves with challenges that we might no be able to meet. Challenges that even if we fail at doing, we gather some modicum of knowledge about ourselves.

Those lessons begin to form our experiences, and those experiences begin to shape our world view. Our world view is something that evolves over time, and with all the lessons, failures, mistakes, and even the (rare) raging successes it is something that is ours alone. My worldview, as warped or out of date as it probably is, is mine, and while 'you' form a part of it overall, I can not, for the sake of that worldview, allow you to influence it today. I hope, but realize you won't, understand, and if by placing myself outside of 'us' even if only for a day, you become aggrieved  (or happy) enough to extend the 'you free' day(s) I am experiencing, I would be quite sad for a bit. But, eventually I would 'get over it' as the saying goes. Today, at least in theory, I take 'me' back. I suspect once I get a good solid grasp on 'me' I will drop it like a hot rock, and want to text, call, or see you immediately, it is going to be a test of my 'character' to see whether or not I will succeed. Here's hoping. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Springs of My Soul

"You have broken the springs of my soul."

Klemens von Metternich to his lover the Duchess of Sagan. Autumn of 1814.

By all the accounts I have read, which granted is not a great many, our lover boy von Metternich was madly, passionately, unabashedly in love with the Duchess of Sagan. Those same accounts also describe the love as being returned (at least for a while), and describe the Duchess as quite a beauty. Good for him, he was a bit older than the Duchess, and it is also nice to see the older generation(s) rekindling their youth in the most simple of ways.

For the people who do not have the obscure, classical education that I am currently paying off at about 1000 quid a month, our lover boy von Metternich was at the time the Austrian Foreign Minister. He was quite the dandy/looker himself, and was a real charmer. At home in the stuffy, rule laden drawing rooms of 19th century Vienna, he was able to have several women swoon over him at once, but it appears that the Duchess was his true love. Or at least he thought so at the time, and that time is critical to the story. At the time, Metternich wrote those impossibly sad lines, he was quite the busy bee trying to get Austria as much as he could during the Congress of Vienna. A Congress that, eventually, secured peace in Europe for nearly a century. A Congress so historically significant that Henry Kissinger wrote a book about it. A Congress that for being all of that, was never officially opened.

All in all, a pretty fucking big deal, and since Austria fought about as well as a one armed, one eyed, drunken, chicken in the wars preceding the Congress, it was incumbent upon Metternich to try to salvage from the negotiation table what his white coated pansy of an army could not achieve on the battle field. It would be 'six weeks of hell', and from my understanding of the concept of 'hell' it is not a place I would want to spend six seconds, and certainly not six weeks. During those six weeks of fun, delegates from almost 200 countries, duchies, free cities, and even the Pope descended on Vienna to carve up the spoils of the recent defeat of that freedom loving fellow, Napoleon.  Like starving men around the last of the kidney pies, these worthies were set to take everything they could grab, and the devil take the hindmost.

It is this tense, pretty fucking important, setting that we find our soulful lover Metternich, and his Duchess. From their letters, and from their actions they would appear to be a perfect couple, each not bad to look at, both of them witty, urbane, intelligent in their own way, and both as rich as Croesus. A 19th century power couple. As with most power couples, or maybe with just most couples in general, things could just not last. The Duchess was not pleased by her role of 'unofficial mistress' (I wonder if there is an official mistress role?), and since Metternich was married, and not going to divorce anytime soon (or ever) she got a bit miffed, and a miffed Duchess is not someone that you want mucking about with your feelings, as our boy Metternich was about to find out to his cost.

And that cost was the "springs of his soul" she left him high and dry at a time when he either needed her the most or at the very least needed not to have his heart broken into a million pieces. I would wager that negotiating with a fellow by the name of Talleyrand was a difficult thing to do in the best of times, try doing it with the springs of your soul broken. Not going to be a fun time.  The fact that he was able to keep it together to achieve what he did speaks volumes about the steel in the springs of Metternich's soul.  Broken springs or not, he got a fairly good deal at the Congress, and I applaud him for it.

That is all the set up for the real reason of this post, because much like our boy Metternich someone chose a very important time in my life to 'break the springs of my soul.' Much like the Duchess of Sagan this person knew what they were doing, and knew that the timing of it just made things that much worse. Unlike Metternich, the steel in the springs of my soul are not quite as hardened, and if I were a time traveler (a la Dr. Who) I would go back, and make a much different decision than I did at the time. But time only travels by passing in my world, and going back is not possible, at least as far as this incarnation of me knows. Looking back in time is about the best us mortals not in possession of a Tardis can do, and that just isn't quite the same.

It is in that 'looking back' in time that a queer sort of madness lies. The madness of the (now) knowing better, the (now) knowing the 'right' thing to do or say, and the madness of watching it in my memory unfold like a bad play in a cheap theatre, where there are no 'good' seats. Rewinding those events and playing them forward and backwards over and over again in slow motion to see the exact moment when it all went horribly wrong, and the wall between us was built entirely too high for us to ever climb again. Of course, all this 20/20 hindsight does not repair the broken springs of my soul, those remain broken. Unlike Metternich, who I am fairly certain effected the proper repairs to his soul, I seem to lack the ability to accomplish that feat. Perhaps, almost certainly, he was made of sterner stuff, or perhaps, I just don't care to try. Until that Tardis comes into my (current) life.Time is only going to pass at the normal speed, and only in one direction.

That direction is, in theory, forward or at least as close to forward as I can manage. Time for me cannot go backwards, it might be possible to make it stand still, but only ever so briefly, and it might be able to go sideways with the right amount of effort, but effort is something that I find myself in short supply of, and therefore time will march on in a forward direction. Forward isn't always progress, but forward we shall go into an unknown, and unknowable future, fraught with peril or perhaps just as boring as today has turned out to be, that is yet to be decided. Though I guess at this 'time' I should apologize to the shade of Metternich for taking his ever so sad words, and using them for my own purposes. It was done out of a odd sort of admiration, and the fact it was poorly done should not tarnish the sadness of those heartfelt words penned ever so long ago. Mea culpa. 



Monday, November 11, 2013

Sept Ans

Seven years ago today, I committed the largest 'crime' in my life. Technically that isn't exactly true, but what I did was not illegal at the time, nor it is illegal today. Also, my guilt as it is probably not as a principal but as a collaborator or an accomplice.  It would be more accurate to say that seven years ago, I helped convince someone else to make the worst decision of their otherwise boring life.  Although they might, if they were still talking to me, dispute my calling their life boring.

It was, boring life or not, a huge mistake that I convinced this person to make, I would dare say that it was at the time, and remains to this day the biggest mistake they ever made, or ever wanted to make. Mistakes are sort of like fish sometimes they get bigger in the retelling of their making. This mistake was big enough the first time around to satisfy even the most experienced of tall tale tellers. It was a mistake that was a long time coming, which in theory I suppose, makes it worse. After all, a mistake made off the cuff, or in a fit of passion is a mistake that can, in many ways, be forgiven quickly enough. Sadly, this mistake was made after a lengthy period of what could be considered calm reflection. It was a mistake that took some convincing in order to be made. It was not a 'let's just hop the next plane to Vegas, and spend the rent money on hookers and blow' type of mistake.  That type of mistake, if you are lucky and your heart doesn't explode, is a fairly simple mistake that from which a complete recovery can be made.

The fact that this mistake was made is a damning indictment on me as a person. I never claimed to be a particularly good human being, and I point to this mistake as being proof of that claim.  Most people, most 'good' people make, or at least attempt to make, some sort of apology for their mistake. Me, I decide to compound my mistake (although I did wait a couple of years) by doing all sorts of other bad things to the poor fool I had talked into the mistake in the first place. That is probably the reason that they are no longer speaking to me, for the second time in their life. They have placed me, quite rightly I would say, under a communication ban. I am person non Grata in their world, and I can't says that I blame them.

This was supposed to be an attempt at a 'mea culpa', but it seems I am no good at those either. I tried, several times, to apology for my sins, and I had hopes that it was accepted. I even had some physical proof that things were if not good, at least decent enough for us to be in the same room at the same time. Alas and alack, it was not destined to last, like most of my 'successes' this one proved all too fleeting, and I am left, once again, bemoaning the fact that I am, to intents and purposes, both an idiot and a bad person.  Both of these things I already knew, partially due to the fact that there is no shortage of people in my life that are quite willing to tell me how big of an idiot I am, and exactly how bad of a person I have become.

The idea that 'you are you own worst critic' is not something that needs to apply to me. No, I have several critics that are quite willing to take the wrecking ball of their wit to the shaky house of my confidence with hardly any prompting at all.  Watching yourself being taken apart, brick by brick, it not an uplifting experience, nor is it for the faint of heart.  However, all the wrecking balls, and all the dismantling that has been aimed in my direction about this particular mistake are miles and miles short of the destruction that I deserve, and that I visit upon myself. It was quite simply (I know like I put anything simply) wrong of me to do. It was akin to telling a Jewish refugee that 'sure you can crash at my house', and then finding the nearest Nazi and informing him of the Jew you have on the sofa. Certainly, a death camp was not the result, but physical death is not always the worst thing that can happen to a person.

Seven years does seem a long time to be holding on to a regret like a drowning man holding on to the only plank in sight on an otherwise empty ocean, but in the grand scheme of things it is merely a blip in the time frame of the world. The world barely registers seven years as time enough to accomplish anything, but me and this person are not the world (well maybe writ small), and seven years is a significant amount of time in the context of the time we are allocated on this world.  In many ways it is the most important, for good or bad, event in both of our lives.  Which is sad on many levels, that I in any shape, form or fashion, am a part of the most important (or even the top three most important) events in someone's life other than my own, is quite terrifying.

Perhaps if I had felt more of that terror seven years ago today whilst standing in front of most of my friends, helping this poor sod make the biggest mistake of their life, I would not be typing this 'post of regret' today. Perhaps that terror, coupled with a thing that I am rumored not to possess i.e. common sense, would have lead me to making a different choice. A choice that by this time seven years ago was almost impossible to make, and would have taken an amount of bravery that we are taking an entire day to celebrate in others, which I clearly do not possess. Fortune is supposed to favour the brave, and I do not bemoan my lack of 'fortune' since I am far, far from being that type of brave. I have written, thought, said, and actually felt many things since that fateful day seven years ago, and it would appear that I have many more things to learn, and feel (in spite of my best efforts not to), but one thing that I can say with absolute clarity.  Je suis desole.

Monday, October 28, 2013


Napoleon once said that "It is with baubles that men are led."  He should probably know he led a lot of men, smart men, men who were headstrong enough not to be easily led.  Making someone the Count of somewhere, or the Duke of something, is probably a good way to get some fence sitting jackass to come around to your way of thinking. Handing out baubles like they are xmas candy is a good way to get men to suddenly think you might be worth making a whole horde of infidels die for their country.

I recently acquired/backed into/ obtained a bauble. A bauble of outstanding beauty, and one that I probably have no right to possess. One look at this bauble, and you would wonder how an idiot like myself was able to find himself possessing it. Well, that is a story that I can't quite explain. It was mostly an accident, or maybe the fates are just playing a cruel joke on me. Fates like to do that from time to time, play cruel jokes on unsuspecting, idiot mortals, and in spite of my best efforts, I am all three. Unsuspecting, an idiot, and all too mortal.  None of these things, except maybe the idiot part can I really do anything about. Perhaps someday I will get around to attempt to fix the idiot problem that I posses, but today's task is to just simply to enjoy the bauble that I possess. After all that is what pretty baubles are for, and I've been told by several people that my bauble is quite pretty.

I didn't realize the possession (if that is really the right word) of the bauble would led to such happy consequences. One of these consequences has been that suddenly I am a much better person. At least to the people that see me and my bauble together. I don't know why these people seem to think that I have suddenly unlocked the key to non-idiocy, but they do. All of a sudden, with no real change to my base personality, or looks, I have become some sort of genius. Like some cosmonaut that has successfully returned alive from space despite long odds, and a dysfunctional space capsule.

Truth be told, I am still the same asshole I was pre-bauble, that I am post bauble. I have not changed one whit. I am not any smarter, skinner, or better looking than I was the day before I found/acquired this bauble, and I will be the same asshole after I manage to lose this bauble. Because, sadly, I know that I will. Lose the bauble that is. One day, probably not in the none too distant future, I will awake and be suddenly sans bauble. Then, I will come crashing back to earth like that aforementioned cosmonaut. Disgraced, and fallen back to earth, I will look around, and all the glory, and accolades that I have been basking in while in possession of this bauble will be gone. Poof! like the smoke dissipating after a musket being fired.

I could write pages and pages of fiction describing this bauble, line upon line explaining the happy effects that this bauble is having upon my usually dreary life. All of these pages, and all of these lines will not rid me of two very important things. One the, all too brief, happiness, that having this bauble in my life is providing me, and two the (eventual) crushing sadness that will come when this bauble slips out of my control. All of those lines that I could pollute the blog sphere with, will not rid my bones of that sadness that is as sure to come as the sun rising tomorrow in the right direction.

In fact, the possession of this bauble is a terrifying experience. It scares the ever loving hell out of me that some damn fool like me, and I am a damn fool, has fallen ass backwards onto this high terrain. It is an unusual position for the likes of me, and I am not exactly sure if I am quite ready to fall from such high terrain. The days are about to start to turn cold, and this bauble does not exactly provide warmth in the convention sense, it does, at times, give me a bit of a warm, fuzzy feeling. Or, that could just be the booze, I am not sure which, and am not really going to investigate too closely.  I don't want to let this bauble down, it is very pretty, very shiny, and quite bright. A bauble that is quite beyond my ordinary skill to obtain.

Though, possession of this bauble has effected a subtle change upon me, other than the fact that other people now think I am some sort of bloody genius, that effect is something I can do nothing about, even if I wanted to. Which I am pretty sure I don't. The subtle change wrought by this newly acquired bauble is simply this. I can see, off in the middle distance, the clouds that non-possession will bring. I know they are there. It is similar to seeing the dust cloud of the desert nomads that are going to overrun the fort you and your fellow 'legionaries' control. Overwhelming numbers, and large clouds are coming your way. But, quite simply put, I don't care. I  will have this bauble for all too brief of a time, and losing it will be heart breaking, but at least after all that dust settles, and the heart mends itself (because that is what hearts do, they mend eventually), I will have possessed this bauble, and all the king's horses, and all the king's men will never be able to change that fact. It is, for me at least, one of life's little victories, and I didn't have to kill one infidel to achieve it. 

Monday, October 21, 2013


"The men are too concentrated, sir" Wilson muttered with a sniff, he is the sickly type, and always has some complaint be it a cold or Bright's Disease, Wilson was always suffering from something. Me, I was mostly suffering from an overdose of Wilson. "Gods damn it, Wilson. Not more than a few moments ago, you were telling me they were too scattered." "How in the blue fuck did I get to be in charge of this rabble." Wilson smirked and replied "You umm were elected sir. The vote was unanimous, I might add.' That caused me to pause and ponder the day of the 'election'. "And, where was I during this election that acclaimed me the fearless leader of this rabble?" Wilson looked out over the parapet, and replied "I believe you were" cough cough "recovering from a bout of the Solomon flu sir." That was Wilson's way of saying that I had been a a three day drunk, and was snoring away the better part of a gloomy November afternoon during the time I was 'elected' to led this group of reprobates. Funny how a many can get nominated, seconded, and elected all in the course of sleeping away the day.

The sad part was, once again, the bastard was right. Looking out into the courtyard I came to the conclusion that one well placed bomb, would kill us all, and since all included me, I had a vested interest in his opinion whether or not I had solicited it or not.  Of course, being right and being Wilson, were to Wilson at least, synonymous.  "Perhaps we should created a reserve sir, some percentage of the men to hold back in another location in case of disaster."  Once again sound advice, and advice that I would, eventually, follow. In spite of my election to the leadership of this group, I realized I am not, in fact, a leader of men.  I realized this, Wilson realized this, but sadly the men themselves, clearly not that bright, had yet to figure it out. New elections should be called, and I would be damn sure to be there to reject any attempt to re-elect me to a position for which I was clearly unsuited.

However, until that glorious day when I would be voted out of the position of power that I currently unhappily occupied, it was time to issued the orders to get this mob sorted out with as little trouble as possible, which of course would still be three time more trouble that was necessary. Did I mention they were a mob of reprobates? The group of malcontents that had elected me their leader, were not the top of the line, front rank type of troops that you would cheer yourself hoarse for as they marched (using the term very loosely) down the main street of whatever village they happened to be liberating at the time. No, these fellows inspired a more "lock up the family jewels, bury the money in the back yard, and sent the daughters to another village quickly" type of troops. Not a group that would inspire confidence, unless you were confident of disaster striking. 

There lies the problem with the whole leadership thing. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, and if this rabble were to be exterminated like so many cockroaches, and I was lucky enough to survive alive, my life would probably not be worth living when the letter came from the Captain-General asking me to explain myself. Never been the best at explaining myself, it's a character flaw common with all the males members of my family.  "It's always best to have an extra reserve, just in case things break bad sir. You know like an extra 8 of anchors in a game of Issam."  "Well yes Wilson, if all the world's problems could be boiled down to a soldier's game of cards, then we'd all just have a merry fucking christmas wouldn't we?" The rebuke to the reply was standard with us, Wilson fancied himself a great card player, and I was beginning to suspect that he was getting ideas above his station. Which is why, in the only stroke of genius I've managed to have in command. I immediately told him the lovely news. "You are right Wilson, we are too concentrated, and guess what I've decided to do about it?"  Waving away his attempt to protest I said "you get the pleasure of taking a third of this lot, and be thankful its only a third, and wandering off on your own for a bit, that way if disaster overtakes either of us, the other one will still be around to claim it was all someone other than their fault." The joys of command, perhaps that election wasn't as rigged as I had thought.

Sunday, September 29, 2013


'The men are entirely too scattered to be of any real use, Sir.' Those words muttered by my second in command Wilson, brought me up short. Wilson and I have been together for several years, and despite the fact that I consider him a gloomy bastard, I generally give his advice some considerable thought before I chose to ignore it.  As usual, he was right, he generally is which is the reason that I keep him around in spite of his gloominess. Well, it's one of the reasons, there are several other but I don't want to catalog them all, just in case he reads this, and starts to get ideas above his station. One never knows when the 'loyal' second in command will decided to throw you into a ditch, and take control of the company.

His comment, in the case, did give me pause. A pause that I used to take stock of the company which I was, in theory at least, the leader of. They were scattered, strung out along a line that was entirely too long, and too many of them were clearly not keeping up. When the men of which you are in charge become as scattered, as the men of my company had, there is only (sadly) one person to blame. That person being yours truly. It is not all sunshine and lollipops at the top of the command pyramid. The pause also gave me another moment to consider Wilson. A thinking man's man, thin as a rail, dressed like it was the dead of winter, when it was only early fall. A man that was always cold, and I wasn't sure that the coldness came from the environment, or from inside. Because I was fairly certain that Wilson has a block of ice where his heart should have been. I guess that is what makes him a good number two, coldness is something that helps when giving advice to a fellow (i.e. me) who generally doesn't take it very well.

It wasn't like I didn't know the scattering of my men was a bad idea. I know it's a bad plan, but I am nothing if not a master of making bad plans. Shitty terrain, approaching bad weather (or so Wilson says, he is always saying bad weather is approaching), and a group of men that have trouble taking direction, is an absolute prescription for disaster.  The main problem was how I was going to solve this problem. Scattered men are a lot harder to control than men that who are in some sort of actual compact formation. By scattering them, I had wasted my advantage, and I am the kind of person who needs all the advantages I can get. I realized that I was violating all the 'rules of war' and that scattering my strength was not a good idea. It was just all spiraling a bit out of my control, and it seemed as if Wilson was just not going to being of any use at all.

Maybe he had gotten tired of being number two, maybe he figured that one bone crushing defeat who either get my fool ass killed, or at least have the effect of making the men more agreeable to throwing me into that convenient ditch. Even I wasn't sure why the scattering of my men had taken place, it wasn't like they didn't know better, they just seemed to refuse to do better, and therein lay the rub. A group of men, who are trained better, who know better, should fucking DO better. It is not as if this disaster was hard to predict. The trifecta at the Derby is hard to predict, this, this could be seen coming from a mile away by a man possessing only one good eye.

'Maybe, just maybe, my dear Wilson, the men are to blame for this, and not, for once, me' was my tired reply. Tired because after all these years leading this group of lewd, mouth breathing bunglers, I was getting tired of herding them like so many violent sheep. 'Perhaps, they need to learn a lesson' I said as I tried for the hundredth time to fathom why my second in command couldn't really be trusted. Whatever chemicals he took, and I was fairly certain he took some chemicals no one can stay awake as much as he does without taking something, were probably part of the reason for the distrust. After all, can you trust a skinny guy who doesn't ever seem to either eat or sleep, and drinks very sparingly? Never fully trust a man that you haven't seen drunk at least twice in your life.

  Wilson. I had seen drunk exactly once in all the years I had known him, and even then the only reason I knew him to be drunk was because of the drops, made from a particular type of flower that only grows in a particular place in the world, that I had put into his small beer one night at some flop house of a tavern which we were staying. The clever fellow that I had purchased the drops from assured me that 'whomever drinks this will be as drunk as a lord within the hour, and will wake up feeling as fresh as a daisy.' I couldn't resist that sales pitch, after all, I wanted to know what Wilson knew, but wasn't telling me. Good thing for me that I did because when he became drunk, Wilson told me exactly what he thought of me, my leadership ability, and just for fun, mentioned a few things he would like to do to or with my sister. None of these things did I find particularly pleasant, as for my sister, well that you would have to ask her.

Since that night, I have never felt the need to see Wilson drunk again, and I've also never felt the need to introduce him to my sister. I knew from that one night exactly how far (and no further) that I could trust him, and that is exactly how far I trusted him.  The scattering of the men had been an idea of mine just to see how he would react, and he reacted much the way I expected him to.  That idea was not exactly my crowning achievement, and I begin to realize that perhaps I should have found other, less dangerous ways to test my number two. As usual, wisdom comes late, and in this case, late was bad. Very, very bad. Bad things were about to begin to happen to me, to Wilson, and to the scattered set of fools that were nominally under my command. Perhaps, and it is only just perhaps, that if I survive these bad things I will begin to understand that men are not like hash browns at a Waffle House, scattered, smothered, and covered is not a good way to have them.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Le Batard

"Bon Soir, tu magnifique batard.  Those are the last words that I leaned over and whispered to my recently departed uncle.  Today was his funeral, and I am quite good at coming up with last words at funerals (see "A Lovely Little Secret).  You can learn a lot of things at funerals, some of those things you would rather not know, and some of those things you wish you had known years ago. I attended my uncle Mike's  funeral today with a very heavy heart because the man being buried was my favorite uncle, and after a long illness that was making his life not worth living, he decided to put a bullet into his brain, and bring his time on this mortal coil to an end.

Suicide is, according to a lot of people, a very selfish move. It supposedly the most self-centered thing a person can do to the people that they leave behind. Those of us left on this side of the dirt are left to wonder what if. What if I had done the 'right' thing, and gone to see him during the last week before he died, what if I had at least had the decency to call him, and remind him that he was the single, greatest, live male influence in my miserable life.  What if a thousand other things happened that didn't, the two most dangerous words in the English language are "what if." The fact that he was the greatest male influence in my life is, in some respects, not saying a whole lot, but in others is saying all that needs to be said.  As I have mentioned several times before the paterfamilias was not the type of man that I felt the need to be around for any length of time. When Uncle Mike was in town, and could be bothered to humor his preteen nephew, all was right in the world.

The problem that I have with today's events are twofold. First, I was told by some preacher fellow that my uncle, the hard drinking, hard driving, bastard that I knew him to be, had 'found Jesus' about a month before he died. That may be true, but I (who have yet to find this Jesus of which he spoke) do not want to believe it. There is a school of thought that says that you can live the most dissolute of lives, and convert on your death bed, and find your way to this 'kingdom of heaven' where the streets are paved with gold ( I shit you not, the preacher actually used that analogy today during his 'service').  As the service wore on, I begin to detect a shift in its focus, it became less and less about the guest of honour, i.e. my uncle Mike, and more about trying to convince the live audience to 'accept Jesus Christ as our personal saviour. All well in good, for a Sunday service, but not something I want to hear when I am struggling (very hard) to contain the grief I feel at the death of my favorite uncle. You can proselytize some other day, brother. Today, I want you to remind me what a kick ass fucking uncle I am here to bury.

Secondly, I realized that the kick ass uncle I was there to bury, wasn't the same guy I remember. I remember him as ten feet tall, and bullet proof. Truth is, he was about my height, and as events proved, not bullet proof.  However, that is how I want to choose to remember him. Not the dying man, struggling to breathe that, I like to think, hedged his bets (he was a gambling man) by finding Jesus a month before his death.  He was a bastard, he was not a religious man, and it was because he was a bastard that I worshiped the ground he walked upon.  It took all of my self-control, and I realize it makes me sound like a bastard, to not get up and walk out of his funeral today in disgust. Disgust at the man the preacher was describing, because that man was not my Uncle Mike.

I realize that last line makes me sound like the most ungrateful, unfeeling, nephew in the wide world, but I also realized (about half way through the service) that the man being buried today was not the uncle of my childhood. He was not the guy who taught me how to shoot a gun, not the guy who taught me how to play cards, not the guy who taught me how to play the ponies, and not the guy who used me as 'bait' to attract the ladies in dive bars. No, he was the older, more mature, version of that guy. The guy who had been married to the same woman that he loved beyond compare for 33 years. The guy who was a fantastic step father to that woman's children, so much so that one of them called him 'Dad' in the few words she tearfully recited at his funeral.  He was not the hard living, truck driving manic that a youthful me put on the highest of pedestals (only to watch him fall off of it because no mortal man could have met my 10 year old expectations). 

No, he had aged, and like all of us mortals, age had slowed him down. In many ways, I am glad I moved away from where he lived, it helped me miss that slowing down. It helped me miss my Uncle Mike becoming an premature old man.  He was still Uncle Mike the man who taught me all the things I needed to know, but that persistent cough that I had always noticed, but ignored had become more of a defining characteristic that I realized.  It was that cough that was a sign of the disease that was going to (if he had allowed it) kill him. He knew it, his doctors knew it, and all his loved ones knew it. Uncle Mike was dying, quickly, and there was exactly fuck all any of us could do about it, except, as it turns out, him. Uncle Mike was of the generation of men who didn't ask for help, didn't need help, and belonged to a class of men "who couldn’t be tempted or swayed by the pleasant but boring dream of one day waking up at sunrise in their own bed with no one to run from and no one to apologize to."

That last comment in the quotation marks is from a website called Modern Drunkard magazine, and in many ways my Uncle Mike was a modern drunkard. He was a man's man, someone who you didn't want to fuck with. If provoked he would just as soon shoot or stab you as not.  He wasn't John Wayne by any one's standards, and I am quite sure that some of my recollections of him are quite romanticized, but for all of those things he taught me, he was one of my heroes. Not one of the 366 heroes I have already written about, but a true hero, one that I actually had the pleasure (not taken nearly often enough) of knowing, learning, and worshiping from up close. Those words that I leaned over his coffin to whisper into his unhearing ears, are the truest things that I, no matter how hard I try, will ever say.  Good night you magnificent bastard.

Monday, August 26, 2013


There are about seven billion people on the rock that I presently call home. Not that I have a lot of choices as to which rock I call home.  Seven billion is a shit ton of people, it is a number that I can not even attempt to wrap my mind around.  Of course, there are quite of number people who are dead, and are not longer of any concern to those of us that are alive. Until very recently, out of all the seven billion alive, and several millions dead people in all of recorded history, I hated exactly two of them. Today, after some not some calm, recent reflection, that number became three. Do not get me wrong, I do not like people as a whole, and have been a card carrying misanthrope for quite a number of years. But, I understand that the whole 'hating' people thing is a bit of a waste of time. It generally just brings you down as a person, and usually the other person doesn't give two shits about whether you hate them or not.

The two people, using the term very loosely that I hate before today, were Oliver Cromwell (for reasons that need not detain us), and the sperm donor that called himself my father. Those reasons are well documented, and until today I had hopes that he would have to be the last person I hated. Silly me for thinking that I would able to live out the rest of my existence without having someone to hate. I guess I should have known better.  Don't get me wrong the person that became number three on my hate parade was someone that I wasn't overly fond of before today, but quite recently they did something that pushed them over the top. It was a long process, and it wasn't necessarily something that they did today, but a long term accumulation of things that just eventually broke through the indifference I usually feel for my fellow human beings (that is if this person is actually a human being, there have been claims that they are, in fact, Satan or at least one of his minions).

Having a living person to hate is not a new experience for me, after all the sperm donor and I lived in the same small house for nearly 25 years together, and that experience made me a good hater. And trust me on this, I am a fantastic hater. I want this person to die, I want them to die slowly, painfully, and if possible screaming (while I watch). I know that makes me an awful person, but I never claimed to be anything but and awful person. Maybe this person hates me back, and maybe they don't. It matters not one little shit to me. I hate them, I will never stop hating them, and I wish them active ill.  I might not be proud of it, but there it is.  No tears of mine will be shed if this person manages to die while I am still alive. No, whatever tears that are lost in the rain, will not be shed by me. I am sure there are people who like this person, hell I even suspect there are people that love them, more the fool to them. Let them weep for them. I will be celebrating their demise like the Vikings just won the fucking Super Bowl.

 I know that all of this hate is probably not an attractive quality, and I should 'turn the other cheek' and all that bullshit, but I can not and will not forgive the thousand injuries and insults that this person has visited upon me.  In an ironical way it makes me sad to hate this person, not that I believe they have any redeeming qualities, but that the fact I hate them with just passion must mean I care.  People that know me well, and there aren't that many of them running around, will tell you (if you cared to ask them) that I am not a man that is overloaded with emotions. I pride myself on my lack of feeling and or emotions. I do not suffer fools gladly, and I do not wear my heart (if I have one) on my sleeve.

I was raised by one wolf, and she was not the type to cuddle her only male cub. I am not someone you need to come to if you are seeking empathy.Do not come to be all dressed in sound, and expect me to solve your life's problems. I have my own life, and it is littered with problems of its own, problems that I can not solve.  Again, I am sure that makes me an awful person, but it is who/what I am, take it or leave it, it matter not one whit to me. This hate, this now all consuming passion that this person die, is burning inside of me like a nuclear core gone critical. It might just implode me from the inside, but for now it is heating me like a nice warm fire on a cold December day in Stockholm. There is no, and will no be turning back this is a hate for life. Something that (sad to say) will now define me, and there aren't really a lot of things that define me (if you take away my loyalty to certain, poor performing sports clubs).  Another irony of this is that I also hope this person burns in hell, the irony of that is that if there is a hell I will probably be stuck beside this person for all eternity.  At least I know I won't be alone.

The identity of this person has to, for now, to remain a secret. After all, if they were to suddenly 'accidentally' fall down a flight of stairs, I might be one of the first people that would have to explain my whereabouts to the local gendarme. Not that am their only enemy, but I am, whether they know it or not, there most bitter one. There is no happy note to end this post on, no quick witticism that will allow me to redeem all the hate flowing from my proverbial pen. It is a poison pen post, and one that I probably will (eventually) be ashamed of, but for now it has to stand on the few merits it possess. After all, the person is it about possesses exactly zero merits.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Mon Oncle

A very good friend of mine did two things today that are beyond awesome. First, and more importantly he became a father for the second time. Secondly, but still important (at least to me) he wandered back in the writing world. He is the bastard that got me into blogging, so blame him for the dross I produce, I do. He is also fairly close to being like a brother to me, and I wish that he could have met the title character of this piece, they would have gotten along like a house on fire.

This is going to make you cry, or at least it should, because it is going to be sad, and I am have been on the verge of tears myself while I was 'composing' it at my local for the last two hours. Life has to have some sad stories, or it wouldn't really be worth living. This is a post about living, but more so it is a post about dying. Because the title character is dying, and he is my favorite uncle. This post, as poorly written as it may be is my elegy to my favorite uncle. Stop now if you can't deal with elegies.

My uncle M is (or was) my favorite uncle, he is (or was) that uncle that every boy of a certain age dreams of having. By that I mean he is (or was) Steve McQueen cool, and just ever so easy to look up to, and not just because he was tall.  He also had the major advantage of not being my father. If you peruse these pages, you will know that my paterfamilias and I were not close. We did not understand either other, and I rejoiced at his funeral. I understand that makes me an awful person, but I am the son of an absolute asshole.  I know some people who do science, but I've never asked them if they knew of anyone or any organization that was looking for the 'asshole' gene, if they are I can point them to the spot to start digging in order to find it.

My uncle M is (or was) the opposite of the bastard that donated the sperm that brought me into existence. He was an over the road trucker for years and years, and therefore wasn't around on a day to day basis, and maybe that gave him the advantage. His time around was limited, and therefore much more appreciated by me.  He was like a really good Christmas present that came a few more times a year. He wasn't around all the time, and he was always about to leave so his time was valuable and limited. Looking back, I also realize how lucky I was to get any of his time at all. After all, what guy wants to spend time with his preteen nephew when they was beer to drink, and women to bed.  Don't get me wrong I absolutely adored my uncle. The expression 'worshiped the ground he walked on' barely does justice to how I felt (and still feel) about uncle M.

He is (or was) just like every other red-blooded male in our family, he liked his beer, and he liked the ladies. In fact, he is the man that took me to the first bar I ever graced with my presence. I was somewhere around 9 or 10 years old, and since I wanted to be in his presence always he would take me to this dive bar (back before dive bars were all hipster chic) called the Western Corral.  He would buy me a soda, and set me at the bar and wait. I realized several years ago, what he was doing, he was using me as bait. Because the ladies just loved a little 8 year old tow headed child such as myself sitting at the big boy bar drinking a coke. It was a way for my uncle to get some female attention, and it was both fucking brilliant, and worked like a charm. Once I had sufficiently charmed the ladies, I was bundled off to the car, to 'wait' for my uncle M.  Many a child hour of mine was spent waiting in a car for my uncle to come back from where ever him and the ladies wandered off to. I suppose in today's politically correct world he would be accused of child abuse, but I loved every minute of it.

Eventually like most heroes my uncle fell from grace. One of those ladies stole his heart, and he married her. That decision ended the hero worship for me. He told me later that I wouldn't have anything to do with him for a long time after he married his lady friend. We joked later, years after the inevitable divorce, that I was right about cutting him out of my life, since the marriage failed. I was clearly the better judge of character even at 9 years old. It is a funny story, but the truth was my 9 year old heart was broken because some bitch had taken my Uncle M from me, and I was inconsolable.

He is (or was) also the man that helped foster my love of gambling and the ponies. He was with me when I picked the first horse I ever picked to win a race, and after that horse (Pleasant Colony see "Birth of a Gambler") won,  told me then that when I got to be old enough he was taking me to the track. He is (or was) Burt Reynolds, Steve McQueen, and Clint Eastwood all rolled into one. He took me out on his truck one summer while I was still in the hero worship stage, and when we got back told me that 'if I ever got behind the wheel of a truck like that, he would kick my entire ass.' He realized that I was the brains of the family, and that I should be able to 'do better' than just drive a truck for a living.

He also spent a lot of time teaching me to play cards, which I suppose goes back to the gambler in him, and while he is (or was) way more reckless of a card player than I ever will be, it was a valuable lesson that I am very grateful for. I guess in many ways he was the father I wished I would have had, and in many ways I am glad he wasn't my father. I suppose he had two advantages over my actual father, one was his absence, since he was gone a lot it was easier for him to be my hero because when he came around it was an 'event', and two, while he is (or was) a bit of an asshole himself, he wasn't close to as big of one as my actual father.

Don't get me wrong, my uncle is (or was) not a saint in any shape, form, or fashion. Much like his favorite nephew (since I was his only nephew I won that title) he was a frequenter of low dives, and places of ill-repute. I remember one time when he took me to a 'floating' crap game where there was a light over the door that would come on when the cops where circling the block. He had a child out of wedlock, and was probably more of a bastard than I will ever know about. I remember having to go with the wolf that raised me to bail him out of jail on more than one occasion. I can't not remember what it was he did to get himself in jail, and that is probably for the best. When I lost my head, for the first, but not the last, time over a woman, and was making stupid decisions, the family sent him to talk to me, because they knew it would work, and it did (at least that time).

 And now, my uncle, my hero, the man who made me (in many ways) the man I am today is dying, and there is fuck all I or anyone else can do about it. He is lying in an hospital bed as I type this struggling to breath, and knowing that his time on the planet is drawing to an end. I am going to do my final nephew duty, and go see him, even though I am sure he is not going to look like the man I remember and revere. It is not going to be fun, and I do not really want to do it, but he is my hero and I have to. Going to watch your hero deal with dying is not something that you should have to do more than once. He told the wolf that raised me i.e. his older sister that he isn't afraid to die, and that might be the final act of his that makes him just as cool as he was all of those years ago.  I do not have the words or the talent to express my sadness fully at the passing of my uncle. I can only hope that when the time does actually come, I am half as cool as he is (or was).

Thursday, August 08, 2013


Many, many moons ago, I wrote a post about writing for the desk drawer in which I discussed, very briefly, how a writer can not just write for the desk drawer. A writer has to eventually write to be read, and then considered. Writing as an exercise is all well and good, but eventually you need to write to be read.

That is a giant leap of faith, and it is not to be taken lightly. It is a huge paradigm shift for anyone. It is the shift from writing for yourself, and that entails, to writing for someone other person or group of people. Their expectations are certainly going to be different from your own, and are going to vary widely among the group as a whole. You will not, no matter how hard you try, be able to meet all of those expectations. It is just simply impossible. This group of people that you might have the gall to call your 'audience' are most certainly a diverse group of people. If they are not diverse, then you have not been living your life correctly. Everyone needs a wide cross section of friends, and if you don't possess one, then you are losing out on a lot of seriously important life experiences.

This shift can be quite paralyzing, after all, now you are writing for someone to read. It is like becoming a director instead of an actor. Your point of view will change whether you want it to or not, and it will be a lot harder to understand how that shift is to be accomplished.  After all, spending a certain number of years writing only for yourself has probably led you to have some bad habits in your writing.  The idea that you are now writing for people, as you like to call the people you want to read you, is going to force you to be a little more careful. Not that writing for yourself didn't require some care. There are at least seven blog posts in my 'draft' folder that I can not quite bring myself to publish. Some are just too painful, some are too mean, and one could be life altering.

I have a couple of companions that fancy themselves writers, one I have read, and one that I have not. I had occasion to speak to both of them last night over a few drinks, and I exhorted both of them to 'just bloody write something'.  Perhaps that is what 'real' writers do, encourage each other to write things for the other to read. I am not by any stretch of the imagination (which I lack) a writer, and maybe they aren't yet either, but each of us feels the tug to shove words into sentences, marshal sentences into paragraphs, and stack paragraphs upon a page for other people to read.  It may or may not be dross, but there a quite a few people who are living large by writing dross.

The idea that these talented friends of mine will take my advice and write something for me to read is quite exciting, and also a bit terrifying. After all, they are going to make the same demands upon me, and I must needs get my shit together and accept their challenge. Writers, if they are going to succeed, need to be read, they need to be challenged, and they need to be edited (which of course is always the most painful part). It is a bit like singing like no one is listening, this writing for other people, we know we might warble a little bit off key, and some of the keystrokes we make are not as sad and delicate as they should be, but we have to continue to try. Because trying is the first step, be it in failing, or in succeeding, you have to try first. And in that trying, in that putting our words out there we take that first step away from the desk drawer into the great unknown.

This post is dedicated, in a small way, to those two geniuses that inspired me (without realizing it) last evening to get my fat ass back behind the keyboard, and to try to effect the shift from writing for the desk drawer, to writing to be read. I am both grateful to them for that inspiration, and terrified that I will not be able to meet whatever odd ball expectations that I place upon myself.  I can only hope that they feel the same way, and they see that in spite of the obstacles and despite our growing fears, they will write something fantastic that I will have the joy of reading.

Finally, there is one friend of long standing that I would like to invite back into the 'writing' fold. The one that challenged me, all those years ago, to write, and whom without (for better or worse) this blog would not exist. I know this person's life has taken a new, and exciting direction, and that life has taken a large chunk out of their creative time, but the writing world (such as I know it) is a much poorer place for their absence. Hopefully this will inspire them to at least attempt to come back to the fold, and write the brilliant stuff of which I know they are capable.  

Saturday, August 03, 2013

All our Yesterdays

A sudden realization struck me the other day, and by sudden I mean out of nowhere, and by struck me I mean someone wiser than myself (not hard to be) sat me down, and explained it to me much like you explain Lego monsters to a two year old. I would imagine that your average two year old's attention span and mine are about the same length, and I would also figure that the two year old would have been quicker on the uptake about this realization than I was.

That brilliant piece of mentoring provided me with the knowledge that all of our yesterdays are rolled into today. The today I am currently experiencing, which has been as dull as watching paint dry, is the end product of all the yesterdays that came before it. All the left rather than right (in more ways than one) turns that I have made in my life have led me to this exact point in time. I understand that the universe is really, really, really big, and somewhere the odds of 'another' me having a much different, and for his sake I hope better, life are quite high. But for me, for right now, all of my yesterdays have led me here.  This point in time, which is rapidly passing me by, is only one point in time at which I could have arrived.  All the victories, defeats, and draws that I have inflicted, or had inflicted upon me have led me to this point.

This point, whatever it may be, isn't really something that I could have foreseen, because if I could have it is more likely than not I would have taken one of those aforementioned 'right' turns that I blew past like a damn fool on the road to perdition.  This point in the comedy known as my life could always be worse. After all, I have access to (more) than enough calories to keep me alive, I have shelter over my head, and a warm (or cool depending on the season) place to sleep. The fact of the matter is that this point in time, this today, that I have, for the most part, wasted isn't as bad as it could have been. Of course, neither is it as good as it could have been. Those left turns, and all the attending road signs so blithely ignored have led me to this point where the 'good' things in my life are food, shelter, and a job.

All of those things are important, and I am lucky, considering what I have to work with, to have them but at some point, usually when one is bored to tears like I have been today, one has to look around at their so-called life and wonder if perhaps one has peaked.  At a certain age, life becomes more of an anchor rather than a sail, and starts to drag a bit, and starts to slow down, or at least you start to slow down. Because life has piled a whole lot of yesterdays on top of you, and they are getting harder and harder to carry into today, not to mention tomorrow, which will be even heavier. All of those yesterdays that contains all the decisions, good, bad, or indifferent that you have made, start to pile up, and they even include decisions made about you by other people. You are not, no matter how hard you try, an island. You are not alone in time, you are one of many people, place, and/or things in an really, really, really big universe, and that universe has batted you around like a kitten with a newly wound ball of yarn.

Those yesterdays creep up on you, sometimes when you least expect it. You are minding what appears to be your own business when the universe decides that your today isn't interesting enough. To combat that, the universe allows you to have memories, and then allows, or forces you to sometimes relive one of those yesterdays just for fun. The universe is like that, it needs to have its fun, and a certain amount of it is going to be had at your expense whether you like it or not. You don't control the universe, the universe controls you. The sooner you learn THAT life lesson the better off you will be, because somethings you just have to accept. I suppose that is why acceptance is a stage of grief, and one of the latter ones. Acceptance, of your fate at least, can sometimes be a large pill to swallow.

The problem that my wiser friend explained to me as simply as they could so I would understand it, happened quite a few yesterdays ago. It wasn't a yesterday that I was proud of, and it was more than one day, but they were all of a piece. A bit like an episode in the series of my life.  A plot device that had, I thought, been resolved one way, but (as usual) I was wrong. The problem had been resolved, but not quite in the way that I had figured. The knowledge that was given to me made it a little bit easier to understand some of my yesterdays, and even helped a little with today, but all of that wisdom can't 'fix' the problem. The problem remains, whether I like it or not, because the problem isn't something that has gone away, it is just moved forward in time. It is something that I seem to be, and have been deemed, incapable of fixing, and that is the sad part of this tale. No matter how many more yesterdays I have to live, I just can't seem to learn from them. And a person that can't learn from his or her yesterdays, in many ways doesn't deserve a tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Little Victories

Today was not a raging success, in fact, if I were forced to classify today, it would be placed firmly in the failure file, and I would quickly try to forget it as quickly  as this beer will allow me.  We are awful sometimes, and my job sometimes brings out the awful in a lot of people, usually that is not a problem as long as it isn't me that the awful is overflowing from. Today it was, and I am not exactly sure I am okay with that.

I have, when asked, likened my job to bailing the ocean out with a slotted spoon, and that is a very apt description. It quickly becomes incumbent upon me to get by on little victories.  I have to learn to get by on those little victories, because usually the defeats are quite heavy. Another problem is the world does not stop and let you enjoy those little victories. The world is, quite simply, out to destroy you, and it will. You have to know, understand, and eventually accept the fact that world is going to drive you to your knees, and eventually force you flat on you back. You are the Sonny Liston and the world is Muhammad Ali just like that photograph that made Ali famous. However, it is quite unlikely that the world is going to make you famous.

To the world you are just another person/thing that it will destroy. It will catch you when you are awful, weaken you to your knees, and destroy you. It is just that simple. The knowledge of this, and the eventual acceptance of this is something that we each have to do in our own way, and in our own time. Providing of course the world lets us.  There is no referee to stop the world from pounding you while it has you in the corner. There are no standing eight counts in the you vs the world title match. A match that you are ill prepared for, and in which the only question is in what round you will go down for the count.

The world has already dug your grave, and it is just a matter of time before it puts you in it like a newly minted mother placing their new born in their first cradle. The grave is, in many ways, the 'mother' world placing you in your last cradle. Confidence in yourself, and your pathetic, in comparison to the world, skill or talent is about the only weapon you have. You  can't really fear what the world is going to do to you, mainly because there is no point in being afraid. It's going to happen, it is going to be a surprise, and it is going to hurt, and there is the square root of fuck all you can do to stop it.  The world will catch up to you, and will exact a terrible revenge upon you when it does. It has done it to far greater people than you, Shakespeare, Gandhi, JFK, and all the heroes of our youth have been counted out by the world, there is no escape we pay for the violence of our ancestors.

That violence that some cave dweller who happens to share your genetic make up visited upon the world back when the world was young, is going to have to paid for, and you are going to be the one writing the check.  And write it you will, and you are the only who can write it for you. No one else, no matter how good of a friend, lover, or even enemy can write that final check for you. Make sure you have a good pen handy, because that check will be both the last thing, and the toughest thing you will ever have to author. It might be the only thing of any importance that you ever author, but it will be yours. Even though the world is dictating the terms, you are still, even in the smallest of ways, necessary to the cashing of that check. The world is playing a scene with you daily, and your last scene, though unimportant to the world, means everything to you. After all, it is your last scene there is no next act, next scene bit in the tragicomedy of your life. The last bill has come due, and you have to pay it.

The trick is to pay it with as much aplomb as you can muster, which, in the grand scheme of things, isn't going to be much. It never is, it wasn't for all those dead heroes, or all those dead villains, or all those dead nameless clowns that no one even bothers to grieve over anymore. It isn't much, but it is all that you have, and it has to be enough.  That last time you are awful, that last time the world drives you to your knees just before it knocks you flat on your back, and finished you off is, in many ways, the defining moment of your 'play', and while we all can't go out like Butch and Sundance in the movies, we can at least learn to get by on the little victories.

P.S. Sometimes inspiration, such as the inspiration for this post has multiple sources, and sometimes those sources can cause quite different reactions. This source had one meaning until I took the trouble to trace it back to its beginnings, and when I did I discovered a rather unhappy alternative source. It is that alternative source, and the heavy defeat that it inflicted upon me, that somehow, someway, in spite of my best efforts, continues to inflict upon me that this post, poor as it may be, is dedicated.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

What a Sweet Revenge

 This post is the end game of the post I wrote October 24th, 2010. Read that post first, then come back to this one.

Cross sectioning my life, this post is a more in-depth explanation of a status update on my Facebook page that I posted earlier today. It had to do with revenge, a dish best served cold, as we all know from our Start Trek, or our Talleyrand. Meaning that revenge like fine wine, should be bottled, placed on a shelf, and allowed to mature. Mature, and grow some 'body' something that will make the revenge be noticed.  A quick, hot revenge is something that is for the school yard. A bully pushes you down, and you reply by kicking him in the junk. A simple, quick, revenge, but not something that we, as adults, need to practice.

No, our revenge must be calmly thought out, and planned with detail that would do Sherlock Holmes proud. The egregious insult that we suffered all those years ago, must not be forgotten, and most certainly must be addressed. Also, a bit of planning is in order, after all the offending party went to all the trouble to insult, hurt, or injury you, and as the Scots say, "None shall injury me with impunity."  I happen to know a couple of Scotsmen, and I hope they don't mind me 'borrowing' their national motto for my own nefarious purposes. Considering the use that I put to the motto, I doubt they will mind overmuch.

It was a long time coming, and I had to do several things of which I would not normally be proud of, but my revenge came to fruition today of all days. It was actually a bit of a surprise to me that today was the endgame of my plan, which I guess shows me that maybe I not quite the Talleyrand that I thought I was, but then again there was only one Talleyrand.   I am sure there will be a school of thought that will say that I should be the bigger person, and let the insult go, after all it has been nearly three years. Those who know me, and realize that I am only the bigger person size wise, will understand why I would never do such a thing. I do not have to forgive, nor can I forget. That is just part of what makes me such a pleasant fellow to be around. I hold a grudge. I am, in fact, holding several more grudges as I type this. Some of them will eventually pay off like this one has, and some of them I will probably be holding till the day I shuffle off this mortal coil.

The sad part of this, if there is really a sad part, is the person upon whom I revenged myself has little to no clue that it happened, or why it happened. They are so self-absorbed that they will probably never understand what they did to deserve my revenge, nor will they figure out exactly why I did what I did. That does make the revenge slightly less than perfect, but one has to on occasion settle.  The person in question has no real concept of the fact that people are usually divided into two types. Those that use, and those are used. This person mistook me for the latter, when I am, for the  part, the latter. This lovely individual, who will never read this post, is a person who likes to use people. There are ways to use people gently, sometimes we have to use people, but that does not mean that we have to use them harshly. I am not meaning this as badly as it sounds, but the overall idea remains the same. Attempt to use me at your peril. I am just not a good person, and not a good person to try to use. I am sure that I have my uses, but they are, like my feelings, mine, and I tend not to try to share either my uses or my feelings.

It is probably true that pure revenge is a revenge that people have to notice, and have that 'I knew I should not have fucked with that guy' moment, and perhaps a public serving of revenge would also allow others to understand that 'fucking with that guy' is not such a good plan. I am not such a 'bad man' that people should not fuck with me, I am sure that several million people on this rock could, at their leisure, hand me my ass. I am also quite certain that a few would be willing to try, that isn't really the issue. I understand the limits of my ability, but some people do not. I possess a very limited ability for a lot of things, math for instance, but I have an affinity for revenge that has caused me to be a student of it for quite some time. One of my heroes is Talleyrand, look him up sometime, and one of my favourite novels is The Count of Monte Cristo, the ultimate revenge novel.

My revenge is complete, and I am quite happy with the form it took, though it is not perfect, few things are, it will have to suffice. It is a dish best served cold, and after almost three years my particular helping of it is almost frigid, and there is plenty of it to go around, but like many things revenge of this kind is something that you can't really share. You can tell people about it (obviously), but at the end of the day it is a dish that you must eat alone. Which, in my view, makes it all the more tasty,. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


The title of this post is stolen from the title of a book written by one of my favourite philosophers. A fellow by the name of Soren Kierkgaard wrote "Either/Or" in 1843, and it contrasts two particular life views. One, is the consciously hedonistic, and the other is one based on ethical duty and responsibility. Many, many, moons ago, while I was being classically educated, I read Either/Or. The details of that reading, and the memories of it that I still possess need not detain us here, the fact that I read it doesn't mean that I've figured out which life view I believe to be correct, nor does it give me any insight into the reason of this post.

I have discussed before how sometimes my unconscious self, the sleeping self, the dreaming self sometimes wages a very dirty, very effective war on my waking self. The dreams that I have are beyond the control of my waking self, and like all of us, sleep can be considered a gateway to a lottery. The lottery of dreams as it were, where Queen Mab with 'her wagon spokes made of long spinners' legs' allow dreamers, such as myself, to give birth to their dreams. A fairy that allows sleepers to experience dreams of wish-fulfillment. The unconscious self that is really in control of a lot more of your life than you are willing to admit, takes over once we sleep, and guides the mind where it wants it to go. Many times those are places that are best left unvisited, and places that the conscious mind, if it weren't 'asleep at the switch'as it were, would never revisit. 

Therein lies the rub, the conscious mind is asleep at the switch, and when that happens all sorts of shit can start to break bad. This is a glimpse into my own personal 'Either/Or', and trust me it has absolutely nothing to with an 19th century Danish philosopher, at least not that I can tell.  My dreams, as of late, have been taking two forms, hence the 'Either/Or' dilemma.  Either they are type A which is a dream about work, or something related to work. I had a long week at work last week, so part of this type of dream is understandable, and probably unavoidable. They weren't necessarily nightmares, but they were certainly not the type of dreams that inspire a desire to stay asleep. After all, I have to go to work, and 'live the dream' as it were, why should I be doubly punished/blessed by having work invade another 8 or so hours of my life. I recently made the conscious choice to try to avoid talking about my job that much while I am not actually at my job. I am trying, and failing, to not let my job define me as a human being. After 10+ years in the job, I am beginning to fear that is a problem that I might not be able to repair. My job is not taking pictures of half naked supermodels as they pose on piles of money, therefore dreaming about it isn't something that I particularly care to engage in that often. However, the good news, if there is any good news is that at least type A dreams are better than the 'Or' in this dichotomy of dreams. 

That 'Or' are what I call, for the sake of simplicity, type 'B' dreams. Type B dreams are very, very, very rarely pleasant. They involve any number of what could be deemed my 'ex's' flings, long term relationships, or fuck buddies, each have had their representative in my dreams. These are, for the most part, not happy dreams. Dreams of former fuck buddies hardly ever center on the activity that gave the particular girl her 'title'.  No these are not playboy channel type dreams, these are revenge dreams. Dreams in which an ex, any ex, plays the starring role. Sometimes it is merely a 'normal' dream about some everyday occurrence, but it has to have the ex in it just for the hell of it.  There is no reason, on its face, that the ex would have to be in this dream, other than the unconscious self deciding that she needs to be there. 

Those are the easiest of the type 'B' dreams to take the mostly normal ones. The ones were she is just there like window dressing to poke some sort of fun at my waking self.  A little nudge from the sleeping self to the waking self to remember it that the sleeping self hasn't forgotten. The other type of type 'B' dream are much, much worse they usually consist of the see the ex happy with new beau type of dreams, or hear the ex tell me what a total loss my life is since she had the pleasure of walking out of my life. Those are a little bit tougher to bear, maybe because the grain of truth in them is a bit too big for me to swallow. That grain of truth, which I must admit exits, keeps coming back almost nightly to haunt me. The leading actress, i.e. which ex my subconscious decides to torture me with, changes sometimes nightly, but that doesn't really help a lot. The only small bit of joy that I am able to get from these type of dreams is the bet with myself as to which ex will be the star of the show tonight. Not a bet that has a winner or a loser, but a bet that is both, a winner and a loser.

 The starlet that takes the stage probably isn't really the point, but the subconscious is a clever bastard. It has access to all the memories that even the waking self has forgotten, or stored away in some deep, dark compartment never to be opened again, and it makes my dreams a cinema of horrors designed especially for me. The subconscious self remembers all the details about each of the leading ladies, and is able, with seemingly little effort, fashion a dream that is very specific to the ex in question. It is an absurd bit of theatre that makes me want to stay awake as long as possible, but as I have mentioned before, sleep comes to everyone while we wait wide awake and blue.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fuck you! Shakespeare

The title of this post is stolen from Pete Rose's reaction to whenever a fellow by the name of Jim Bouton pitched against his team. M. Bouton was the co-author of a book called "Ball Four" which is considered one of the most important sports books ever written. Feel free to read it, I never have, but I hear it is a pretty juicy book.

The reason I am stealing the title is because I stole a bit of Shakespeare myself this week, and I am not certain I am proud of that fact.  Those of you who both have the wonderful luck to know, and to read me, will know that I spent the last week in a murder trial. No it wasn't as exciting as the one in Florida that has everyone all in a flutter, but it was important to me, and very important to the victim's family.  It went as well as a murder trial can go, which is to say that every day when I came home all I could do was eat the crappy take out food I had purchased, and spend the rest of the night thinking about what I had done wrong that day, and what I would need to do the next day in order to fix those mistakes. Because, since I am actually not perfect, I made mistakes, some of them I thought were pretty important, and some of them I shouldn't have made, but they were made. And in their making they cost me a fair amount of sleep.

That was my week, half of the time I was in trial, the other half I spent thinking about trial. I did not do much else. And by that, I mean nothing else. My apartment has become a battleground between my garbage, which has taken over the kitchen, and my dirty laundry, which has taken over the bedroom. Both sides are now fighting over possession of the living room, each of them have advance scouts placed in strategic places, and it seems each side is prepared for a long struggle. My indolence coupled with my exhaustion have made it impossible for me to broker a peace agreement. In fact, I am beginning to believe that the key to the battle are the dirty dishes. They are also piling up, and I figure that whichever side they ally themselves with will be the eventual victor.

It is a sad thing to say that my life has not been my own for a week, and that cleaning up the flotsam scattered throughout my apartment is more work than  I feel up to undertaking at this moment. All I want to do is sit and stare at the walls, and to hell with the battle of the wastes.This week marked the seventh birthday of this blog, and I was so tired that I did not even manage to write my annual birthday of the blog post, it was, in case I didn't mention it, a long week.

  The week that just passed was, in many ways, the pinnacle of my so called professional career. In my world, it doesn't get much sexier than being 'first chair' on a 1st degree murder trial. Though, truth be told, my co-counsel was beyond brilliant, and I couldn't have done it without him.  It was a close as I will ever come to being what passes as a real lawyer. Not that I have any idea as to what or what does not constitute 'being a real lawyer'.  All I know is that I want to pack this week away, and not have it repeat itself too many more times, because after all if it does it means that someone, somewhere has died at the hands of a loved one, and that is the tragedy of the week. That some putative Romeo has killed their Juliet. And unlike the real Shakespeare I only want that play to happen once, but I can't seem to stop if from repeating. It is just the actors are different, the facts are a little different, but the underlying tragedy remains the same.

And it is that tragedy, or a tragedy that hasn't happened yet, but will that keeps me struggling out of my new favorite place, otherwise known as my bed, to try and save the fair Juliet from her sad fate. I know that I can't because that is not really my role. So the best I can do, the best I try and hope to do is see that our fair Juliet, even though she has met her sad fate, at least receives what some people call justice by taking our Romeo out of 'fair Verona' and putting him in a much darker place.

P.S.  At the end of the day, I realize that me and my co-counsel didn't 'win' this trial. Trials are not like baseball games. There are no real winners or losers, it is just a decision, a decision that is placed in the hands of 12 strangers, and a decision that I can only hope goes 'my way' and a one that I hope I can live with.  To all of those that helped me this week, thank you.