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.