Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Notre dernier lutte

Our last fight was just that, though I didn't know it at the time, our last fight. I think that perhaps you had more of an inkling that it was our last fight than I did, and part of me still hates you for that. Your advantage, and you were good at taking any advantage you could, was that you knew it was the onset of nuclear winter. I, on the other hand, just thought it was another fight, not our last one. If I had known that things probably would have gone a little bit worse. Though, in retrospect, I am not sure how things could have gone more badly than they did. I suppose the police could have been called, a report taken, and some one's day entirely ruined in an entirely different way.

However, I didn't know it was our last fight. I figured that it was merely a skirmish in our occasional war, and that we would, as usual, end up in bed, exhausted, and struggling to remember who started the silly fight, and what the damn thing was about to begin with, but that didn't happen. Or more to the point, part of that happened, we ended up in bed, at first together then separately. That was, now that I ponder on it, just another brilliant part of your all too brilliant plan. A plan that I, in my idiocy, walked into like a drunk staggering into the all night bar desperately in search of that last drink which will bring sweet oblivion onto him, and make all the demons stop moving the furniture around in his booze addled brain.  Little did I realize that the oblivion was not the oblivion of a drunken fool, but the oblivion to which we consign people to whom we have nothing left to say.

That was the beauty of the last fight, at least for you, you got to say everything last thing you ever needed to say to me, and I just thought it was a passing lark of a fight. If I had known that the 'end of the affair' was taking place, I would have put just a little more effort into it. It was quite unfair of you, and I still (after all this time) resent you for it. It was well-played, but I was the one being played, and that, as you had told me numerous times before, being the one played is quite as much fun as one is led to believe. In many, sad, loser-like ways it makes a little part of me still admire you after all this time. You were the one that called me the master manipulator and here you were playing me like a Pac-Man game. It makes me feel like I was a 'sample' of some foul, oddly named disease being placed on a slide and put under a microscope that was designed to find flaws that only you could see.

You saw them well enough, you even had a couple of people (whom you would refer to as my best-friend, never wondering why there was more than one) tell you exactly what they were, and how to avoid them. Which, of course, was to avoid me. You chose to ignore those warnings of dire consequences, and pushed forward with our relationship like Admiral Farragut steaming into Mobile harbour.  The torpedoes that M. Farragut had damned you didn't seem to notice, or if you did notice them, you were able (in spite of little help from me) in navigating us around them with skill that would make any AB seamen blush. 

I didn't have the same advantage, your best friend was not as forthcoming about your flaws, at least not until the information was no longer of any use to me, and that is to their credit. I suppose I should look into the 'best friend market' and see if they are selling a more loyal, less honest to prospective girlfriends model. Even if such a remarkable model were to exist, I somehow doubt it is too late in my life to break in some new 'best friend.' My type of friend is more than happy to leave my side when I am down, even though they will tell me that they never would. But they leave just like you did, perhaps the lot of you could have gotten some sort of group discount for leaving me, a sort of 2 for 1 special on leaving me on the cold, bitter outside looking in at a life that I had became a stranger to. A little bit like an extra in a deleted scene of my life.

Which is another aspect of your brilliant plan, that I can only hope you realized, before you executed it.  People in general, and me in particular are very good at recording the last of something. If the Rolling Stones ever forfeit their deal with the devil, and retire, I am sure a whole host of cameras will be around for their final performance.  If I had known that fight was to be a farewell performance for us, I would have also remembered more of it than I presently do. I have a fairly good memory, but I can't record all of my life. I don't have that many reels of tape inside my head.  If I had known I would have started a new reel for us, one probably marked "the end, do not reopen for X years", but I didn't and therefore much of what was said I can only guess about.  You are in possession of the "Director's Cut" of our final fight, and I doubt any request of me for a copy would be met with any sort of success. That reel of tape, that you probably destroyed, might just make me be able to make a little more sense of what happened.

Not that it should make sense, a lot of endings don't make sense, and they don't have to make sense to anyone, not even you, the ultimate director of this ending. Watch a few older French films, and you will come to the realization that the ending sometimes isn't even close to the most important part of the film, and quite often has little or no connection with the story that has engrossed you for the last two hours or so.  Happy endings, or endings with some sort of plot twist are a bullshit way of Hollywood trying to make themselves seem normal or more clever than the rest of us, they are neither. Quite often endings are just tacked onto the story to give the audience (not the actors) a sense of closure. In this type of production, closure is much more difficult to obtain. For some of us with limited sense, and even more limited access to the final script, closure might be well neigh impossible. This type of production does not follow the calendar year, in fact this fight happened years ago, and although it was about this time of year, the post-production (as it were) continues to this day. Funny that. 

P.S. I guess the irony of this post (at least in an American sense of the word) is that I am just as unhappy with its ending as I am with the ending of our last fight. Happy New Year dear readers!

Friday, November 28, 2014

La Compagnie de la misere

They (whomever 'they' are) say that misery loves company. At this time of year that may be more likely to be true, but I am of the opinion that misery generally is more profitable alone. The holidays, and with all of their shrill screams to buy more stuff, do make a lot of people miserable. I know a few people who have claimed to be 'depressed' the last week or so, for various, mostly family based reasons. Misery loving company is not a saying that should force you to spend time with you family. Unless, of course, you actually like the clan that produced you. I do not, therefore, my thanksgiving was spent at a casino losing a large portion of the rent money. At least I was alone, I was in perfectly good, miserable company.

I tend to hoard my misery just like I hoard the majority of my other feelings. It is, after all, my misery and A) no one wants to hear me moan about it, B) most people have misery of their own that I don't want to listen to, and C) no one can really 'fix' (if indeed it can be fixed) but me.  Besides the two 'depressed because of the holiday' people I mentioned above, I also know a couple of friends who are my one's admission "miserable cunts". A true statement straight from the horse's mouth as it were. However miserable these fellow might be, and by most accounts they are fairly miserable, they do have each others (and on occasion my) company. It was in their company that I figured out that I belong to the land of misery just like they do, it was not a earth-shattering revelation, and enough pints mostly 'cured' it for the night at least. It's hard to be miserable when you are too drunk to find the exit door to the bar, that just makes you something that people hate to see. Therefore, but for the grace of gods, go I.

However, after the fumes of the massive amounts of pints cleared, and I was able to think clearly, or at least as clearly as I can manage, I realized that my misery does not require company. It is not an external force, nor is it brought about by external forces (for the most part).  Once, a long time ago the Wolf that raised me and I were walking the streets of the shit hole burg in which I was raised, and young, silly me asked what a particular building's purpose was. The Wolf replied that "it is a factory, a place where things are made." Little, naive me then asked what was made at the impressive (impressive for a 10 year old version of me) factory. The Wolf (who I later sorted out actually worked there) sighed, and replied "misery." Of course, I had no clue, yet, as to what misery actually was, and  was quite contented with that answer.

In some ways, the Wolf was correct, a lifetime of working at that factory had made her a bit miserable. Jobs, in so many ways, both rule and define our lives. Not the position, nor the salary, though the bigger  the salary the better (or so the Lexus November to remember sales event tells me), but just the job. That place that you if you are like most of us, go to five days a week, and work at the same basic thing, for the same amount of time a day. It is one of the first things strangers ask you upon first meeting you, and woe betide the poor fellow that says 'nothing' or something that the stranger finds to be grunt work.  Many a first date has died at the first asking of 'what do you do for a living?' Truth be told, I do fuck all for a living, I do X job for the money that I require to live, but as 'for a living' I do nothing. It is the defining nature of the word job that adds to my misery. I often times reply with completely made up jobs such as (since it's appropriate this time of year) 'I masturbate turkeys'. That reply does, at times, lead to a quick and abrupt end to the conversation. Which is just as well, because I don't want to explain the nuts and bolts (so to speak) of vigorously extracting sperm from a male turkey.

However, misery is one of those things that if you are going to get it, you get it as an adult. It is not like the pimples of your teen age years that come, and make you life agony for a few years. Real misery, true misery, requires a bit more time, and some effort on your part. If you go looking for it you will probably find it, but most likely it won't be in the first, or even seventeenth, place you look. But you will, eventually, if you apply yourself find you very own personal misery. Because misery is like that, personal, you can't be miserable for the sake of being miserable with any success, and you can't be miserable for someone else, that is called (depending on who's doing the calling) pity or sympathy. Neither of which, many people want from you, or anyone else. 

Once I sorted out that the 'misery' factory was about the only place to work, and make enough money to survive in my hometown burg. I left, that small, small, town was not going to swallow me like it did many of my classmates and people I called friends, all those years ago. Of course, I now realize that that factory was not the only place that made 'misery', and my town did not have a monopoly on it. Misery, just like joy can be found everywhere, and sometimes in the smallest of things. No one ever said that you have to be miserable about world altering events. After all, for many a person the world is what is encompassed within what ever four walls they are surrounded by at any given time. The devil, and misery is sometimes in the details, and those details, for true misery to exist, have to be as unique to you as your DNA. It is your misery, not anyone your mailman's or your hairdresser's but yours, and yours alone. If they are unlucky, they have their own misery to deal with daily. If they are lucky then they are sailing through life with nary a care in the world, busy being defined as a mailman or a hairdresser. 

Misery may love company, but really and truly misery is company. If you get a big enough dose of it, you can carry your misery around for years, and it becomes like a faithful companion. Much like an extremely long lived, and extremely faithful dog, you can kick it around all you like, but eventually it will so back up on your doorstep with some irresistible excuse for you to take it back, and you usually will. Misery, after a while, becomes almost something you can't live without, a (self) defining characteristic, just like the 'job' you hold down just so you can put thanksgiving dinner on the table for the rest of your own personal company of misery. Just be thankful that you can (hopefully) say that you didn't have to give the turkey you are about to eat, a hand job.

To continue the tradition.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

You, of the Fourth Part

Several people other than you will read this post. It is unlikely that you will because you repeatedly told me that "reading your posts makes me cry." That is unfortunate because you have been the partial inspiration for several of my posts. The sad part is that you were not always a positive muse. It is possible, because you have achieved it, to be a negative muse. And several times, in spite of my best intentions you were a negative influence upon both me and my writing. I have long thought that there exists a thing called 'negative progress'. However, everyone I explained this idea to looked upon me as if I were as mad as a French hatter. I've never known a French hatter, nor have I ever ingested mercury (to my knowledge), but I am still certain that 'negative progress' exists.

One of those reasons that have me firmly convinced in negative progress is you. You were the tallest mountain that I ever had to climb, and the trip did not always mean I was headed in an upward direction. Several times, too many times, I had to climb down in order to make progress with you. It is one of the most awesome and frustrating things about you. Backwards is sometimes forwards, and downwards is sometimes heavenwards. I never have, and probably never will understand how that is possible, or how I managed to do it. I am, at times, a single minded individual (no teams for me), and I do not like giving ground in order to make up ground. It is counter-intuitive to me, but then again so are you.

This is not to say that when I concentrated enough that I could not predict what you were going to do, and what you were going to say. It is just that those times, concentration aside, were very few and very far between. I took great joy in pointing you out, without your knowledge, to my companions, and saying 'that one there, she was once mine you know." Most of the time they refused to believe because looking at you and looking at me would certainly cause disbelief. For once in my life, I was out of my league, and sadly it took me way too many years to figure that out. By the time I had sorted that out, you were gone. Just like the disappearing day that is coming to a close outside the coffin that I call my apartment. This apartment that is much too big without you, is were I retreated (was exiled to?) when you left. I had little choice but to say goodbye, I have no choice in regretting saying goodbye to you everyday since I said it.

I remember the first day I met you like it was yesterday, I remember thinking that chasing you was a horrible idea. I am nothing but a man who is an expert a horrible ideas, and even more of an expert of making horrible ideas happen. It is an unique talent of mine, a man that is not overloaded with talent to start with, and certainly not blessed with your type of talent. That I knew then, and know now, the difference is then I didn't care, and now I can't do anything about it.  Perhaps hindsight is affecting the talent gap between us, perhaps you didn't possess the all-encompassing talent then that I attribute to you now, and perhaps my skills were better than I think so. Either way you fell for whatever bullshit I was selling, much to my dismay, and much (later of course) to your cost.

 I exacted, mostly without meaning to, a terrible cost from you, a cost that you should not have had to pay. I guess I left you with serious wounds, and the best I could offer you was a rag and some gasoline to clean them. It was an act (mostly unintended) cruelty for which I will never be able to atone for.  That cost bill which I ran up like a mad woman with unlimited credit in a fancy shoe store, is still rising, even though years have passed, the interest keeps being compounded on a bill that I cannot pay, regret opening, and wonder why you let me start in the first place. You were the girl that made me shine, like the sun coming out after a particularly cloudy day. And, as anyone who has known me for longer than 20 seconds will know, that making me shine is a task fit for one of Hercules' seven labours.

Still, you managed to do it, and on a regular basis. It is quite a pity that my poor writing skills make it impossible to express how important that was to me at the time. It also doesn't allow me to express how I feel like a man left on the dock watching his dreamboat sail away into the middle distance without him on board. I know you are a 'ship that has sailed' and yet all I can do is stand here on the dock of my failure feeling nothing but remorse, regret, and just a little anger (at both you and myself) that somehow, in my stupidity, I let you sail without me.  Although I had started to hope that there might be hope that you would turn around and come back to me, I realize now that it isn't so, you have sailed to brighter, happier ports, and I guess I should wish you luck.

 Wishing you luck is something that I know I should do, but I have yet been unable to do it. It is, quite clearly, a personal failing, and one that I am not proud of.  It is much easier for me to make a monster out of you, than is it for me to wish you luck. That I understand is not progress, negative or otherwise, and I understand that I must needs do better. I have to realize that in our relationship the one that was making love to a monster was you. It now much more difficult to understand that you cannot love me anymore than you would a monster. And it is from this cheap little pen that I write this paen to you. I understand that friendship and understanding may have passed us by, and I realize that that is an outcome of the number I did on you. 

In the time since your ship sailed out of my harbor, I have sought 'adventure' on many a street, many of them dark streets, and most of them dead end streets. That was unfair to those streets, and unfair of me, this I understand as I pen this stinging attack upon myself on your behalf. The world is not so sweet or tender, and instead of bending me, I fear it has broken me. This is not your fault, but it does not keep me from blaming you. After all, the alternative is to blame myself, and of course like most monsters I can never accept that I am one.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Death of a Blogpost

I have been recently struck down by nature's revenge of this time of year, otherwise known as a gods awful cold. After obtaining the sweet elixir of life, known as NyQuil, I retired to my bed for about 14 hours of drug induced sleep. Perhaps my alcohol tolerance has led to an increase in my NyQuil tolerance as well, because it took quite some time for me to fall into the blessed drug induced coma.  Whilst tossing and turning waiting for the drug to take me away from all of this, I, much like Samuel Taylor Coleridge, had a brilliant idea for a blog post (of course his idea was for a poem, but the general idea applies).  Of course unlike Samuel Taylor Coleridge mine was a blog post and not "Kubla Khan." Also, I doubt the idea was quite that brilliant, but for me brilliant is a relative thing, as in relative to the other shitty ideas I have on a daily basis.

I begin to form this idea into a blog post that was going to be, at least in my mind, quite long and very clever. I expanded the original idea, added my usual obscure references, and hid someone I know in the post disguised as someone else. All the usual stuff that makes me such a pleasure to read. However for once, there was not a pen handy, and I was way too 'high' to risk any sort of attempt to search for one. Who knows I might have wound up in the bathroom wondering 'what the fuck am I doing here?' Such is the effect of maybe just a little too much NyQuil upon my feeble mind.  Rather than risk such a deadly thing as getting out of bed, I decided that I would create a 'password' as it were to help me remember the idea, and from that password I would easily, since I am so brilliant, extract the entire blog post, and be able to post it the next day.

That "next day" was yesterday, and for all those people who come to this blog daily (i.e. no one) I am sorry that you didn't see that blog post yesterday. Also, I should apologize further by saying that this is not that blog post, and it doesn't look like it will be posted anytime soon. The password that I created, which I thought so very clever, has been lost. The little librarian in my mind that keeps track of all of my memories, ideas, and grudges, has denied me access to the blog post. Now that I am off the NyQuil (for now) have quite forgotten that password, and no amount of pleading that "hey it's me, GI, the guy who gave YOU the fucking password, the guy who had the bloody idea to begin with." has been able to convince or cajole the little bastard librarian to give up the brilliant idea.

Librarians it seems are a little bit like Nazis, you give them a little bit of power, and the next thing you know you are being forced to goose step out of the library without book in hand. They seem to live their lives in the hopes that someday, some poor bastard will walk in, and attempt to circumnavigate their rules, and when those poor bastards try, the librarians quash them like a bug. This tragedy is made even greater by the fact, that as you can see, I have been quite the slacker in writing blog posts lately, for some that may be a blessing, for me it is an embarrassment. The fact that I know that I know the password has made for a very frustrating time, I have attempted to pick the lock on the librarians files, and have proved unable to get past the first number.

The other sad part about this tale of woe is the fact that I had, in truth, completely forgotten that I had created the password, I had forgotten the blog post idea entirely, such is the magic of NyQuil. It was only last evening while watching the boob tube that the idea, and the fact it is locked behind a password cam back to me in a flood of emotion (puzzlement is an emotion right?). The words that set me on the road to madness (or cracking this password whichever you prefer) were "Venetian Cobbler" heard in some random Visa commercial.  Those words set off the alarm bell in my mind that in that mind existed a brilliant idea (I still maintain it is brilliant) for a blog post. Immediately after that bell sounded another bell reminded me that it is password protected.

Like any good scientist, I attempted to try to puzzle out why "Venetian Cobbler" would set off this chain of events. Was my idea about shoes? Italians? Italian shoes? Pinocchio? Geppetto? None of this made the slightest bit of sense then, and after several hours thinking about it make even less sense now. I am fairly certain I was not writing, even while goofy on NyQuil, a post about shoes or even Italians. Finally, in an final attempt to crack the password, I decided, like a good scientist, to recreate the events that brought the blog post 'to life'. I bravely chugged the remainder of the NyQuil, and retired to my bedchamber hoping that either the idea would sneak out of the library in which it was locked on its own, or that my drug addled mind would remember the password.

 Alas, and alack both of those things failed to happen. No person from Porlock arrived to awaken me from my dream either. I awoke, frustrated but well rested, to the somber idea that perhaps the brilliant idea will remain encased in the amber of my mind forever, like a butterfly that just wasn't quick enough. It is not a pleasant or a pretty thought, but since I am out of NyQuil, it seems to be the final thought.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Je t'aime or five loves lost

You were my first love, I fell for you almost at first sight, and have loved you ever since. Even when our ardor cooled a bit, the others would always say about you "I'll never be able to compete with your first love, I know that."  Sadly they were right, you were/are in my blood. Our relationship defines me, and has defined me for more years than I care to remember. When I lashed out in unexplained anger (which I did often), people who know me would just sigh and say "well he's in a an awful relationship with ____ (you), and give me far more leeway than I deserved. Defending the little honour you had left, almost got me pummeled senseless on more than one occasion. We almost (just almost) achieved the ultimate goal in any relationship twice, but we just could not get over some, real or imagined, hump. It was heartbreaking the first time. So much so that I even called the wolf that raised me, and blamed her for our relationship, telling her it was all her fault, that she should have raised me better than to know you were nothing less than a soul crusher. Then, I hung up on her, the wolf that raised me is who I blame for you, but at night when no one is around, I realize to myself that is mostly my fault for having such high expectations, not yours for failing to meet them. The second time you broke my heart, I walked out of my house, screamed my frustration loud enough for the entire neighborhood to hear, and broke a fairly large branch off of a poor, innocent tree. I suppose the tree was a 'stand-in' for you, but you always knew I would never lay a hand on you in anger.

The fact that you still have the ability even today, to take my small, black, heart (in theory) or my slightly enlarged, red heart (in reality) and smash it to a thousand pieces is also my fault. I have to understand that you are bad, you've always been bad at your core, even when you were good, you were still bad. I don't know that it's all your fault, this terminal badness, but I do know that, at my advanced age, I have to give up on things that are bad for me. Besides bacon cheese burgers, you are the thing mostly like to put me in the stone-cold ground, therefore I am forced to give you up.

You were my second love, in a time when me and the one above were on one of our 'breaks', I met you. You were living in M_____ at the time, and I was in the stage of anywhere, anyone, but the one above. Not the greatest start to a relationship for sure, but sometimes you take what you can get. You were in many ways 'my teenage rebellion' though I was no longer a teenager when we met. You were not the prettiest thing in the world to anyone but me, and that was all that mattered. You quite quickly (and sadly correctly) figured out that the reason I 'picked' you was that you weren't the one above. It was a shite way to start a relationship, and you underperformed' throughout the relationship. I think it was because you knew that my heart was broken, and though you tried to mend it at least twice, you just couldn't be the one above. Completely and totally my fault, but that didn't (at least to me) make me love you any less. It was just a different kind of love, a love born of caution, and reserve, and those types of love do not last, they can not last. I tried, or at least I thought I did, even when you moved to D_____, I followed you for a spell, but know I realized I was chasing a dream that couldn't exist, and will not exist for either you or for me. I would apologize, but it would be meaningless to us both. You still managed, in the attempt to put me back together, to break a few important pieces of me, and I thing that "that" at least is your fault. This relationship is bad for us both, therefore I am forced to give you up.

You were my third love, the tragedy of us was that I met you about the same time I met my second love, and even in the same city. It was a tragi-comedy to watch me trying to 'juggle' you both. I am sure that several of my 'friend' thought me two stops shy of East Ham (Barking), and they were probably correct. I guess the second, being unable to fill the hole of the first completely enough for my tastes, needed some help, at least in my opinion. I doubt the second would have agreed overmuch with that opinion, which was also a problem with us, we had (and still have) different ideas of where this 'relationship' was and is going. I always thought it would be easier when number two moved away, but it didn't. It left you the 'battlefield' (as it were) clear of rivals, but it was still a battlefield, and I was on it. I've always thought that when you find yourself on a battlefield, one is obligated to give battle, and that is what I did in the emotional sense. You must have felt somewhat differently, which was an occurrence that happened far too often, because you got so angry with me on our mutual battlefield, that you slapped the shite out of me twice. Both times I 'deserved' it, and neither time did I respond in kind. You knew, just like number one, that I would ever lay a hand upon you in anger, and you were right, and you still are.  We achieved a monstrous success once, perhaps in spite of ourselves, and I thought we would 'live' forever, however that success was, and remains a false dawn. A broken promise of the nirvana that we could achieve together, since then we have not came anywhere close to that one massive success. I think we kept each other around just in the hope that we could reach those dizzy heights again. I don't think we can, and I am fairly certain you agree, therefore I am forced to give you up.

You were my fourth love, close in time, but not a contemporary of any of the ones mentioned above. I found you mostly by accident, and was smitten right away. You were always "my sweet C____." Your name was just perfect for putting the words 'my sweet' in front of, I think you got tired of that little peccadillo of mine, and I can't really blame you. You were amazing when you were on, and awful when you weren't. Luckily for me, you were amazing much more than you were awful. Of all the five mentioned (or about to be mentioned) you were the one that was my most successful relationship. Three times we climbed the relationship Mount Everest together, and I swore that you were the 'one'. The one of all this motley group that I would never, ever, even consider giving up. I was wrong which is no great surprise. Recently you have flattered to deceive, and being deceived is no fun (as I am sure you would all agree considering the deception I pulled on you). I understand that I am getting what I deserve from you, and I know exactly what I did to deserve it, but that doesn't make it hurt any less. Odd, you would think it would. But it doesn't, the bruises you leave on my soul are just as painful as any I have felt before, and I think you have more of them in your locker. I am getting too old, and perhaps I bruise too easily, but I cannot take this battering anymore therefore, I am forced to give you up.

Finally, there is you, number five on this 'hit parade' of my failed relationships. I came to you much later than the rest, and I like to think it was because I had matured (at least in years), and you were different than the rest. Like a finely aged wine, you were the classy one of the lot. You were, and remain way above my station in life, and perhaps that is the problem you are just a bit too elegant for my prole ass. Even people who did not like you much, or were your sworn enemies (of which you have a few, perhaps that was the attraction), would say about you that you were a 'joy to watch' when you were in the right mood. The problem, shockingly enough, is that you became increasingly not in the mood. I am not sure who is to blame for that, but of course I do not accept any of that blame. Looking back, I realize the problem with us, was that I met you just before you were to start a two year 'run' of being the best of moods possible. It was like a little piece of heaven. I thought I had found the lost city of gold, but as it turned out (after seeing your mood grow increasingly sour) that it was fool's gold. I am, in many, many ways a fool, proof of which is provided by the fact that I stayed 'with' you for nearly 9 years after the good times had stopped. In those halcyon days of our first meeting you stole my heart, and to prove it, I got your name tattooed on myself 'in alphabetic file' (as the saying goes). I don't regret doing that, but the meaning of that tattoo has changed. No longer it is a badge of pride like it used to be, now it is a constant reminder of another of my poor choices. I am so sorry, in so many ways, because you are still class in my opinion, and I will remain fond of you, but I am forced to give you up.

These five loves of mine are now lost to me, it was in many ways my own fault for repeatedly following my heart, and not my head. A fool is a fool many times over before they, hopefully, realize the extent of their foolishness, and I have been an uniformed fool for far too long. The reality of all of these failures is like an albatross around my neck. My own personal badge of failure, and it has become more than I can bear. Therefore, this reality, a reality in which I eventually drown or collapse under the combined weight of five failures, has to be altered. I can no longer carry on with the stiff upper lip, like some British lord getting bombed out of his ancestral home by Nazi bombers all the while thinking everything will be alright in the end, things might turn out that way, but that is a fool's wager, and I am out of fool's money to bet. I have shed this reality like a snake shedding it's skin, and now have invented some fantasy world in which I have some modicum of control, and hopefully more successes than any of myself and the five lost loves have provided. Here's hoping.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

My Body, My Betrayer

I am not, nor will I probably ever be, a thin man. There is little doubt that Dashiell Hammett did not have me in mind when he wrote his novel entitled "The Thin Man." There are several things that I do have in common with Ernest Hemingway, the main one being that he and I are both to be considered amongst "nature's heavyweights."  I live large because I am large, not Orca fat, but hard to miss in a crowd.  The wolf that raised me most enduring gift to her only loving cub was the fat gene/shitty metabolism. She was not a small woman, and her bouncing baby boy was destined to follow in her (quite deep) footsteps.

It is a sad commentary on my life that the two biggest joys in it are food and beer. I don't have children, nor do I wish to have them. I do not (clearly) have any sort of sports hobby that would help keep me from looking like an inverted bowling pin (an actual insult that an ex girlfriend used to describe me), Therefore, the little joy I managed to squeeze from life was from the two aforementioned sources. Sad, but hey it's my life, I get to pick the vices. That is until my annual physical, which you could say, if it were graded on a pass/fail basis, I failed in spectacular fashion. I am fat, my blood pressure is through the roof, and my heart may or may not be about to explode. If they had told me I was also stupid it would have been the pinnacle of my health "career."  Perhaps the only reason they didn't tell me I was stupid was because they didn't test me for stupidity, a small mercy.

It seems that at my age (45) my body has decided to betray me by breaking down. Granted, there is a school of thought that might say that I am lucky that it has lasted this long. Except for a 2 year stretch where I lost about 45 pounds on weight watchers, I have eaten and drank like a (slightly poorer version of) Roman Emperor. My body has determined that those days are over, or rather has determined that if those days continue, my days will be over. While the thought of dying while shoveling as much bacon as I can get my hands on down my gullet is to be looked upon as "our kind of death." It is not something that I wish to happen anytime soon. As little joy as there is in my life, I have a perverse desire to continue to live it, mainly in the hopes that Nicole Kidman finally comes to her senses, and realizes that her and I are meant to be.  Until that blessed day occurs (and it will occur, I just know it) my continued presence on this planet is to be a goal of mine.

Generally things (mostly people, but some things have betrayed me as well) that betray me are in for an unpleasant time of it. I don't make friend easily, and I am a card carrying misanthrope, therefore to betray me does take a lot of effort. Not the actual betrayal, for I have found that to be as easy as falling off a (particularly slick) log. No, the betraying isn't the issue, it is the getting close enough to me in order to effect a betrayal. Luckily, at least for my body, you can't get much closer to me than it. It is my constant companion, and my constant reminder all at the same time. I go to brush my teeth and there it is, bloated, pale, and staring back at me with a let's go get some bacon look in its eyes. That has clearly been something that the rest of me as been on board with way too many times. All of this eat what I want shit has, it seems, go to stop. It is a sad day, the day you have to wave goodbye to bacon for any length of time, but that day has apparently come, and I am not enthused about it.

Like any other betrayer that tip toes into my life, my body is now my enemy. An insidious enemy that must be punished, but that is a tricky proposition. How does one punish their body, without causing too much physical pain? I am not sure if hunger pain is physical or not, but I do certain feel it, and my body should get used to that feeling for a while, because bananas do not stop them. Trust me I have eaten way too many bananas and salads lately. I feel like a cross between an ape and a rabbit.  However, my body, my betrayer must be punished, whipped (into shape perhaps) for its sins against the soul (if I have one) and the mind (which is now obsessed with food). 

As I mentioned before the dual joys of food and beer provide me almost all the joy in my life. I made the determination that food was going to be the first to go, after all beer gets me drunk, and according to rumors drunk me is a charming bastard (though still a bastard). That charming bastard known as drunk GI, gets sober GI laid, so it behooves me to a least still drink. Sober me is in for a really shitty time of it, but the upside is that with all the food deprivation he is undergoing, it will take a whole lot less beer for drunk me to show up, and (hopefully) that will do two things, save both of us some money, and get us laid quicker. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fete de l'independance

Today is what I like to call my own 'independence day'. several years ago myself and someone close to me severed the ties that had bound us together. That day was, I suspect, a much happier occasion for her than for me, after all what person would not want to be shed of an ass hat like me?  Therefore today is probably a happier day for her than for me, and I must confess that I use the term 'independence day' with tongue planted firmly in cheek.  It is supposed to make light of what still is,to this day, (and this day especially) a particularly bleak day on my own personal life calendar.

In Egypt, there may be some celebration of the 1952 revolution that overthrew King Farouk, and brought about the reign of Nasser. I doubt too many people will be dancing in the streets over that particular event, but if there are any that will still be more people celebrating what this day means to me.  One hundred and eleven years ago the first Ford motor car was sold, to whom and for how much aren't really important, and maybe the history of the automobile is more important that what this day means to me. After all, I used a car to get to work today.  This day in 1971 Van Helfin, an fairly decent American actor died. I don't know if any of his close family, or friends are still around to mourn him or not, and I can't says that I will either. The sad truth is this day, while semi-important to me, may be of critical importance to another. Imagine Papillion counting this day as just another day in his year of solitary confinement on Devil's Island.

On this day in 1942, a quite famous Bulgarian poet, Nikola Vaptsarov was put up against a wall and shot, not for his poetry (I've never had the time to learn Bulgarian), but for his communist activity against the Nazis in World War II.  I cannot equate the liberating feeling that I feel with the sorrow that M. Vaptsarov's family must have felt as they heard that he had be shot as dead as dead can be. Nor can I imagine the horror and terror that he and the 11 other men who were shot with him felt as they were lined up against that wall on that July day, and shot like dogs.  One man's happy occasion is another man's (or woman's) funeral, and we just have to accept that to try to appropriate an entire today to ourselves is just a fool's errand. Everyday has its sadness for some, its happiness for others, but for the vast majority of people,  it is just another day that they are trying to get through until tomorrow comes.

And (hopefully), for the vast majority tomorrow will come, to erase the tragedy of or help cement the joy of today.  Not that today was really the 'end' of anything for me. I wasn't lined up against a wall, given a blindfold, and shot down like the mangy cur I am and like I probably should have been a long time ago, nothing really died for me on this day, and nothing was really, truly made independent. A ceremony (such as it was) was performed, and a few words were said that were, at the end of the day, mostly meaningless.  No flags of one nation were lowered to be replaced by the raising of another country colours, no territory changed hands, and the populace was mostly unaffected. Nothing was determined that day that had not already been decided long before, and everyone at the party knew that already, but sometimes the forms have to be observed for the sake of the actors involved.

I will not be setting off any sort of firework, or roasting the carcass of any sad little animal in celebration of what this day means to me, or to anyone else for that matter. No sort of cake, or card will be prepared to mark the day's passing, nor will there be any sort of songs sung, or balloons fashioned in the shape of animals by some militant clown. No, today will just pass, just like yesterday did, and tomorrow probably will, with the realization that independence isn't always what it is made out to be.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Per Chance to Dream

You were in my nightmare(s) last night. Although to be fair, this isn't your fault, and you would probably be just as horrified as I was, but there you were nonetheless. I also figure you would prefer that I refer to any sort of nighttime remembrances of you as 'dreams' rather than 'nightmares', but since the naming of them is the one thing I can control, I will continue to label them nightmares.

To be fair to you, though I don't know why the hell I bother to be fair to you, you were not some Hydra headed beast with revenge for past wrongs on your mind, or some Scylla like apparition trying to lop my head off, and feed it to the fishes.  Either of those would have been frightening, but at least those could have been passed off as twisted figments of my overly educated and over active imagination.  If you had shown up as Scylla, or even Charybdis (know that I cannot swim), I could have at least 'dreamed' myself some Homeric hero like Odysseus, or even Jason (sans Argonauts, I am not a team player as you know from experience), and perhaps given you a decent enough fight before being overwhelmed by your power.  I've also thought that in the battle between mortal man, and soul stealing life taking, muscle bound monster, it is always better to bet on the monster. Let's be realistic for a bit shall we, and realize that monsters like Hydra, and Scylla are pros. They exist in order to kill people, lots of people. In this scenario, I am an amateur, one that is going to his doom with only the faint hope to at least 'make a good showing.'

However, you weren't not some, outwardly at least, monster, you were just merely you. Or at least the version of you that I remember the last time I saw you. That was X amount of time ago, and it may have been a while, but I doubt it was long enough for you to sprout six or seven extra heads and start wrecking havoc on the villages around you.  In this nightmare you were merely human, or at least as human as you can be, at least in my memory. You weren't even boiling bunnies crazy either, you didn't have an axe (at least a real axe) or any other sort of sharp object that you were chasing me around the Bates Motel with in the attempt to sever parts of my body from other parts of my body.

There were no acts of physical violence in this nightmare that would jolt me awake, and have be thankful that I awoke before your knife severed my private parts from my public bits. Perhaps if that would have been the case, and I did jerk awake the nightmare would have been brief, violent yes, but brief, and if your nightmares are violent they should at least have the common decency to be brief.  You, not quite like in real life, did not resort to any sort of low brow physical violence to do your damage. You were always too smart, and too subtle for that, which in many ways stinks because a good solid slap or two might have made it easier of me to make a monster out of you.

Your jangling ringing and stinging attack upon me was not that simple, nor should I have expected it to be, you were one of the few people that I admitted to be as smart if not smarter than me. Of course, you took this nightmare to point that out, in minute detail, and with an amount of glee that was just a bit off putting.  That was the gist of the nightmare, you sitting there calmly, almost seductively telling me about your 'career' and comparing it with what passes for my 'career.' It was not a comparison that I was ever likely to win, but you made it clear as crystal that my 'career' did not measure up to yours in any shape, form, or fashion. It was in some weird nightmare only way seduction by destruction, and you achieved both with a remarkable degree of aplomb.

My defense to both your seduction, and your destruction was woefully inadequate, just as you planned it to be. No matter what I attempted to say or do, you were there already one step ahead both in the plan of destruction, and in the dance of seduction. My last, failed, attempt to mount a defense that even you couldn't breach was to wake up, and after some effort I managed to get about seventy five percent awake. Awake enough to know that I was having a nightmare, not quite awake enough to break the bonds of that nightmare. Awake enough to 'see' you standing across my own personal nightmare like River Styx waiting so very patiently me for me to row back across so that you could complete your dual tear down job, but not awake enough to stop myself from paying my coin to Charon to be rowed back across that murky river to let you finish what you had started.

That boat ride over a mythical river, powered by a boatman that doesn't really exist (though both certainly seemed real) was not a happy journey. To see you waiting so cheerfully for me to set foot back upon the 'solid' ground of my nightmare, is not a scene that I will forget anytime soon, nor do I wish to replay it for a very long time. The only small mercy to this mindfuck of a night spent in bed is that my alarm, that glorious beeping noise calling me back from the far side of nightmare town, sounded its, for once, sweet noise, and interrupted my journey back to you. I can only hope that you are still there on the Hades side of the river, waiting with growing frustration as I remain awake for as many hours as I can in order not to be subjected to the horror that you've become for me.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014


'I love you because you're my uncle, niece, nephew, brother, etc..'  Simple enough words, and said (I suspect) with some amount of true feeling. But, let's get behind those words and ponder their actual meaning.  They are just words after all, and they need to be explored like that cave up on Fredrick's Bluff that everyone says is haunted, or the home of the guy who only says 'shit and fuck' in some sort of loop that only he can hear.  Unlike that cave, these words should not scare intrepid people with a sense of adventure that overwhelms their good sense.

Truth be told, do you really love the other person because they are your relative, and that is what we are supposed to do i.e. love our relatives (in some parts of this state people take that a little too seriously, but that's a tale for a different time). Mom might be a drunk, but she is our drunk right? She may or may not have at one time gotten plastered and left us behind the glue factory in some sort of mistake or sick joke, we were never really sure which, and by the time she sobered up to ask it didn't really matter anymore. Are we loving our relatives just because they are there? I mean if I am stuck with Wallenstein for a brother, do I still love him? Sure we have a mutual dislike of cats, and share some DNA, but he was a real prick, do I have to love him because he and I got shafted/blessed in the same gene pool lottery that each of us play without our consent?

We aren't born, and then handed a 'Welcome to the Family' playbook in which each of our currently living relatives are profiled for us like a college football player before the NFL draft. We don't get the chance to read about Aunt Julia the drama queen who thinks that TNT has nothing on her day to day life. Or how about Cousin Etienne the wonder boy of the family that can do no wrong, mainly because he does fuck all. Or, the sister Lois that was the town slut, before she 'found Jesus' and now spends her days at the Junior League looking down on all the people she used to 'pleasure'.  Nor do they get the playbook on you, whatever your relation, they don't get to know that something inside you, some internal wiring as it were, doesn't quite connect, and 'normal' feeling are beyond your ability to have. They don't get to read about that, and decide to withhold their family love from you because after reading about your fucked up nature they conclude that you are a waste of their time.

We don't get to pick the profession of either our sires, or our progeny, we may be the frustrated piano player that happens to be the child of a plumber, and a cannery worker who are unable to appreciate our talent, and if they do, certainly can't afford to nurture it the way it should be. Not that it is their fault that they got stuck with a child with the kind of talent that just isn't going to put bread on the table, and bread on the table is the daily struggle that each family among us has to win in order to remain a family. Sure, a lot of us aren't starving, and probably eat to well, but for a large percentage (too large by far) the fight to keep body and soul together is the main fight they face. We will worry about nurturing talent after we have made enough money to eat. Flights of fancy or pretty words strung together are all well and good, but the fucking light bill needs to be paid, and Corky's Auto Shop needs a shop boy.

Do we get to love our family because of the enforced time that we spend together? All those awkward holiday dinners, and weird birthday parties where Uncles Sean got drunk and almost blew out the candles even though it wasn't his birthday, are they what form the ties that bind a family together? Are we held together by our mutual awkwardness, forever stuck in the 'family' with no escape? Or, can we after careful consideration, and lots of soul searching walk away from the family? Call it quits, and tell them that 'I'm sorry, but I've evaluated you as a group, and would rather not be a member of this organization any more? You can't replenish your DNA from some blood bank, and acquire yourself a brand new family, and at a certain age adoption is no longer feasible, so what do you do? Grin and bear it, and pretend that this group of people that chance, with its perverse sense of humour decided to throw to together, is the group that you are going to cross the finish line with?

If you break away, and it ends in tears, which it is quite likely to do, what are the protocols for such a radical move? Do you write some sort of 'resignation' letter, turn it in to the family's central committee, and hope they don't liquidate you like Stalin did to his Bolshie family? Perhaps the break need not be so dramatic, in spite of Aunt Julia's hysterics, maybe you can just drift away like a forgotten plank on a high tide, and be swallowed by the sea. A sea of forgetfulness you hope, a sea that allows the rest of the 'family' to survive, and progress without you. They will you know, survive maybe not as a group, but at least individually, and they will, in time, forget you. Time heals, as well as deals all wounds, and who in the family (the alive bit) remembers great-great-great-great Uncle Konrad who managed to get his entire ass blown off in the Great Northern War, but not before fathering 11 children on long suffering, long dead Aunt Florence. No one remembers him, and unless we've done our genealogical research no of us knew he ever existed, yet without him, and some fair amount of luck, we wouldn't exist.

Or maybe we learned our lesson from Don Corleone, and don't 'ever go against the family' out of either fear of being all alone in the world like Blondie in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Or out of some sort of (misplace perhaps) loyalty to the idea that blood is thicker than water. Though we wonder if it really is, after all the 'water' in this case would be the friends that we picked once we became of an age to pick and reject the people that will form our own personal inner circle. I didn't choose Aunt Julia, or sister mine, they didn't choose me, and if we were strangers on a train, I doubt we would even strike up a conversation. I guess it is a choice without options, if you choose to walk away from the family, they have to let you go. Blocking their phone numbers and not responding to their emails, texts, or letters is a sure fire way to get more (rather than the desired less) attention. If you stay (as you will probably do) you get to try to grin a bear it as much as possible in all those family photos where you look like you've been sentenced to hang. After all, we're family right?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Il cattivo

The above fellow is Eli Wallach, aka "the Ugly" starring in his film stealing role as Tuco Ramirez. M. Wallach made his appearance as a "Hero of the Day" back when I was writing those posts, and he has become, much to my sadness, the first of my live heroes to pass on to the great silver screen in the sky. There is a saying that you should never meet your heroes because they will disappoint you. That is probably as true as statement as any saying can be, and luckily for both him and me, I never met Eli Wallach.

M. Wallach died on the 24th of this month, a day before my birthday. We all die, and few of us get to pick the time of our departure, I must confess that I was relieved that M. Wallach did not die on my actual birthday.  It is a sad enough occasion in my life as it is, and to have a 'hero' die on it would have made it even worse. Sharing my birthday with another hero, one George Orwell, is enough of a burden for me to bear, to have to share it with the death of another might be more than I could bear. M. Wallach lived to the ripe old age of 98, and still managed, in my opinion, to die way too soon. His career was mostly a raging success, and the length of his filmography would be quite long. I am not here to go through his career role by role. I am here to mourn Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez. The role that cemented his place in my hero worship.

The 1966 film that was the last of the 'Dollar Trilogy' was also, in my opinion, the best of the films and the best role in the film. It is my considered belief that Clint Eastwood, who famously said that 'in the first film there was me, the second there was two, and in the third there were three, what is next me and the 7th Calvary?" did not make anymore films because he realized that Eli Wallach had stolen the film from him.  He did with equal parts buffoonery and consummate acting skill. That skill that allows us (along with the screen play) to understand Tuco as the deepest character of the three main characters. We see his humanity, and his religion (semi-fake though it may be), we see his brother, and hear of the recent death of his father. The Good, and the Bad do not get to possess the depth of character that Tuco shows us.

Mourning is a tricky business, and mourning what is in many was a complete stranger or a 'person' that never really existed is even more tricky. Of course, Tuco is not 'real' in the sense of being a person that exists beyond the screen on which he plays out his role. But, in many ways all of our lives are our own screen be it big or small, and each of us is playing a role that may or may not be the one we chose for ourselves.  It does become imperative upon us to play that roles or roles to best of our acting ability. Much like M. Wallach we get a chance to play more than one role in our lives, and hopefully we have the chance to steal the screen from our co-stars.

Mourning Tuco is made even harder by the fact that he isn't really dead. All I have to do is turn on my TV, and put in a DVD of 'The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly' and there is Tuco in all his glory alive and well playing the part that will forever make Eli Wallach a hero of mine. Today, while mourning the 'real' man that played the 'fake' character of Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez, I will watch that performance, and shed quite real tears in the hopes that it will make everything all right. And will that fails, which I am sure that it will, I will go out with my own co-stars, and drink a few Peronis in tribute to a man who played his role so very well. Goodnight sweet prince.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Over a month since my last post, and that is way too long for a blog to go without something new to keep the massive readership happy. Mea culpa my dear readers, part of today's post will explain my 'resolution' to do better, just be aware I have made such resolutions before, and failed. Also, I have recently received some advice (freely given, and without criticism) about the 'type' of blog posts that I am better at writing, this will not be that type of blog post.

'Do you have plans for your birthday' she asked, probably hoping that whatever plans I had managed to concoct did not include her.  'Plans?' I asked. 'Well no, not unless you call going home, and crying over my wasted life into my pillow. Or in the exciting alternative, going out to a bar, getting drunk, and then going home and crying into my pillow about my misspent youth, my wasted adulthood, my quickly approaching old age, and my even quicker approaching demise. Either way my pillow is in for a rough time of it.'

Needless to say, (but I'll say it anyway) that response was not quite the one she was looking for. I am not sure what reply she was looking for, but that is because I have, even after four and a half decades on this rock, no idea what any woman is thinking at any given time.  However, my inability to understand the members of the fairer sex is (for once) not the point of this post. The actual truth of the matter that I did not share with her, was that I do in fact have plans. Another lie gliding softly by her without her knowledge (at least I hope it is without her knowledge). That 'plan' did not include some other female, or any other person, animal, mineral, or even a blow up doll (the pillow does not inflate).

This plan, which since it is mine I consider to be a brilliant one, is not the type of plan that can come to its fruition in one day (birthday or not). It is a long term plan, a five year plan that I have determined is best for me. Yes, for once, I am trying not to self-destruct and make a plan that is actually best for me. Though I suppose that doesn't mean that it is good for me just best for me, a difference that is hopefully without distinction.  I don't think that my Five Year Plan is quite up to par with Stalin's plan for the Soviet Union, but it is based upon similar theories. I have got to get 'my shit together' (a key component of Stalin's plan), and a five year time frame is a pretty good place to start. There has to be a goal to my continued existence on this planet, and this plan accounts for that. Of course no term of life is for certain, and I can only hope that I am around to see the entire five years of this plan.

The details of this plan are, for anyone not involved in it, are just as boring as the details of M. Stalin's plan are today. They are not exactly secret, but they are my business and my business alone. The plan is, as much as any plan can be, is designed to be self-sustaining, and enclosed, like a Fremen stillstuit, is it a closed system. It is designed to recycle a lot of things that need to be recycled, and I am not talking about plastic bottles, and tin cans.  Parts of the plan are still vague, and many of the details are still in committee. Like most of my plans, I have reverse engineered this plan. I have the ending all worked out, but am a little unclear on some of the paths I must tread to get there.

I do at least know why I am following this plan, which for me is a major step forward. It is not like some village idiot finding religion, and then dedicating his life to converting other idiots to his way of thinking, it does not rise to the level of a religion, but it is probably as close as I will ever come. This plan will require a bit of discipline, but most plans (game plans, life plans, dinner plans) do. It is designed to achieve a certain goal, and if production starts to lag, then slogans will have to be fashioned to make the proles (i.e. me) work harder for the greater good. Propaganda can be a very effective tool when used properly, and if I have to use it, I will use it properly.

I have actually told two people the ending to this plan, but luckily for me both were just as blotto drunk as I was at the time, and I am fairly certain that neither one of them remember it. Small mercy for them, and for me, because for this plan to work there can be no co-conspirators. If you want to keep a secret or embark on a good, solid Five Year Plan, tell exactly no one what the secret or plan consists of, that way your chances of success are dramatically improved. The plans needs to be cloaked in secrecy, pale, undistinguished colours that prevent it from standing out as too obvious, and being halted by the 'powers that be.' Even though this plan is solely mine, there is a school of thought that exists that it is a plan that does not need to reach its logical ending.

The possible opposition to the plan, makes it both more important, and more challenging. Important because it is the result of considerable thought on my part, and while I am not a genius, I am a clever man, and it is a clever plan. Challenging because it has to be carried out behind that veil of secrecy, and not spoken of in polite (or any) company. Most of the plan can be done exactly that way, there are bits that I can foresee that will need a bit of outside help, but workers don't always have to know they are building a Deathstar in order to do the necessary work. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, and this is one best laid plan that does not need to go 'aft, aglee.'  

 As I mentioned above, this plan started with the ending. I thought to myself that 'this is how I want it (the plan) to end.' And I intend to work backwards from that point. I suppose you can say with a bit of irony that today my 45th birthday, is when life begins.

Thursday, May 08, 2014


For the most part barring the 'hero of the day' series, this blog is a work of fiction. It is not pure fiction, because I do not think such a thing exists. If a writer (and I use that term very loosely when applying it to myself) writes something, anything, it is (in my opinion) very difficult to check all of their experiences on the right side of the page.  The ability to leave out all of the experiences that have led me to the place that I currently occupy in my 'life story' is something that I struggle with mightily. That struggle is sometimes captured on these pages, and I can only hope that it is for the better not the worse. One cannot fill a blank page with blank words, but neither should one use words as weapons in wars that are better fought (if at all) in person. 

However, I attempt to make this blog as fictional as possible. I have been accused (if that is the correct word) by more than one person of writing about them. My reply, when I bother to reply, is that if multiple people can read the same story, and find parts of them in that story, then perhaps I am doing a good job. It would be much more difficult to claim the story is a work of my over active imagination if just one person could see themselves in the story. Even someone with the very limited skills at writing that I possess should be able to write stories that more than one person can identify with. They should also be able to write sentences that do not end with prepositions, but clearly I have not yet mastered that ability.

If you find a place in this blog where you are certain I am using either you, part of your personality, or an experience that we shared, then I either apologize, or thank you for the material. If that story upsets you, or makes you want to never read me again, then I understand. I do not apologize for all of my failures. If I did, I would just have to issue blanket apologizes to the world at large from the time I woke up in the morning until the time I went to bed at night. I do not have the time for all of that, and even if I did, I suspect that it would be a very fruitless endeavor. Fruitless endeavors, while they may sidetrack us from actual positive progress, can still teach us things that we need to know. I have not had very many raging successes in my life, but the few that I have authored taught me very little, the failures on the other hand gave me a wealth of knowledge that could fill volumes, an encyclopedia of failure as it were.

The small bit of me that occupies the position of storyteller does need some source material, and some times that source material is provided by the people around me. I do try to make it vague enough not to offend (too) many people, and I do not resort to the trick of giving actual people in my life 'nicknames' on the pages of this blog. I find that practice to be quite annoying, and pointless, after all what nickname could I give you that you wouldn't be able to figure out? I would rather challenge your imagination than to insult your intelligence.

Still the fictional part of this blog is the important part, the part that I have to get out of my system like cocaine before a drug test. Something that if I don't attempt to put onto 'paper' will be lost to the fogs of history, blurred by my lack of memory, and killed off by my overwhelming laziness. That poor memory, and overwhelming laziness are also, at times, the culprits that allow 'real' people and my interactions with them to seep into this blog. I do not live in a vacuum, and neither does anyone else I know, therefore it is damn nigh impossible for some of my experiences in the 'real' world not to creep into my writing. In fact, the 'real' world generally acts as an impediment to my writing. I have to pay the bulldog as it were, and that requires my time, attention, and energy (all of which are very limited much like my intelligence).  The demands of the day to day have an unfortunate tendency to snowball, and quickly overcome my (limited) resistance. Those day to day things that we all have to do just to be able to keep body and soul together, have a negative affect on my time and imagination. Therefore, sometimes it is just easier to 'steal' on of my friends, and plant them in a blog post than to attempt to create someone out of whole cloth.

It is a lazy man's defense, and not a particularly good defense at that. I have had several 'fictional' ideas of late, I have just been too damn lazy to write them down. Oddly enough it has taken my stumbling upon a very poorly written blog to spur me into action. The blog (which I shall not name or even give you a clue about) is a shambles, and it reminds me that reading bad writing is not something that a lot of people care to do. Not that I am any great shakes at this writing gig, but I know that can and do write better than the person on that blog. Sometimes it takes the oddest thing to jolt one (back) into action, I can only hope that my (vast) readership is still with me. I hope  you are, and promise not to use you (too much) in any future blog posts.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Recolte Rouge

Stick with me on this one, and maybe the candle will be worth the game, then again if it isn't you won't know until it is too late.

I recently re-read Red Harvest by Samuel Dashiell Hammett, it is a lovely, and very complex book written in the latter part of the 1920's, and it helped make a) Hammett a household name, and b) it helped to raise the mystery story to a higher form of literature. Previously 'hard-boiled' crime stories were published in 'pulp' magazines, so named because of the cheap 'pulp' like quality of the paper on which they were printed.  Hammett wrote numerous pulp stories, and created an unnamed character known as the "Continental-Op" (named because he worked for the Continental Detective Agency which was based loosely upon the Pinkerton Detectives, which Hammett had been one of before he became a writer). 

The book, in which the Op is the driving force, is a great book, with an extremely complicated plot. It has been 'redone' and or influenced movies like "For a Fistful of Dollars" and "Miller's Crossing". The latter film merely 'borrows' some plot devices from the book, but it's plot was so complex that the Cohen Brothers had to take six weeks 'off' from writing it because it was causing them writer's block. Six weeks in which they wrote "Barton Fink."  This is not a book review, nor will I attempt to explain the plot of the book in full. Read the damn thing yourself, and you will be rewarded quite richly. I figure that time spent reading a book review of such a good book is time that is better spent reading the actual book. After all, Dashiell Hammett is a much, much better writer than I ever will be, and it is his plot, and his story to tell. I figure we, for the most part, are able to tell our own stories much better than people telling it at one time removed. At least, if we try hard enough.

The point of this meandering point, if such a thing exists, is that near the end of Red Harvest, the Op (our mostly anti-hero), and a fellow detective are in search of a warehouse that they believe holds the earthly remains of another couple of main characters in the book. They are working on a 'tip' from someone that tells them that the bodies of these two fellows (a couple of villains of the piece) are to be found. And they are to be found in a state that we like our villains, dead.  Our detectives pile into a car, and go in search of this warehouse, in the first place you'd normally look for them, the warehouse district. The town in the story is not huge (it is based upon Butte, Montana), and the warehouse district is not hard to find, but being a district, it does posses more than one option.

The next scene that happens is, in my humble opinion, absolutely brilliant. The Op, and his partner come upon a warehouse, what they think is the correct warehouse, and the Op, ever so slowly, and ever so carefully enters the warehouse via a boarded up window (boards that he has to quietly remove). Since the fellow that gave him the information that the villains are dead, just might have been lying to him, the Op proceeds with the type of caution that has kept him alive this long. The tension is not overly done, and is just enough to keep you guessing until the Op meets the inhabitant of the warehouse. Which turns out to be some old fellow that is guarding a shit load of illegal hooch. The old fellow just happens to be an employee of one of the villains the Op is looking for, and the Op tells him of his employers possible demise, and suggests that a 'vacation' might be in order, and then the Op helps himself to a 'free' bottle of the illegal whisky.

Our boys eventually find the correct warehouse, and the plot continues to its lovely little ending. The point I took from the above scene is how brilliant it is. It is a scene that doesn't really drive the plot along to its conclusion, and it is in the last chapter after all, but it shows (to my mind at least) how the simple fact of going to the wrong warehouse, can be used to show how life, and how even 'heroes' sometime take unexpected, and rather pointless detours. We all like to think we have a plan, be they the five year type, or simply trying to plan some fools birthday lunch, plans are what, in theory, drive us forward. Pushing us to get out of the bed, off the couch, and forcing us to put on pants in order to face the day, because it is part of the plan.  Maybe your plan is to take over the Ukraine, or maybe it is just to get Wendy's, either way they are plans, things that you make in order to impose order upon your, and perhaps other's lives.

Life, that shit that happens while you were busy making other plans, still needs a plan of its own. It is a thing that must needs doing, and you may have a partner in the planning, or you may be a solo act. Either way, it has to be done, because without a plan you end up in the wrong warehouse, and all you have to show for it is a illegal bottle of knock off hooch. Hooch isn't the worst outcome for being plan less, there are far, far worse things that could happen to you, but is it really the reward you were looking for? Perhaps it can ease the problem(s) of the day, maybe even (if you ration it out wisely) the week, but eventually the hooch is going to run dry, and/or lose its ability to solve the problem of your lack of a plan.  Five year plans are great if you are planning the economy of a world super power, but what happens at the end of those five years? Another five year plan has to be enacted, and that is only really possible if the first five year plan went according to how it was supposed to.

Then again, no one has promised you five or even one year, so perhaps flying by the seat of your pants, relying on poor lighting and alcohol to get you through is the better solution. After all, have you ever spent a lot of time in the warehouse district. It is full of dilapidated, desolate places that are just one step away from collapse. Either way read Red Harvest, get to that one scene near the end, and appreciate it for what it is, a brilliant piece of writing by a man at the apex of his career.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014


Half-awake, and not entirely sober, I groped for the light switch in order to 'shed a little light upon the subject.' The subject that needed  illuminating is not exactly relevant to the story, but needless to say it was important at the time.  The problem was that the light that was to provide me the illumination to see what I needed to see was not in a cooperative mood. The quick buzzing sound, followed by the light blowing out was proof that today was not going to start well. Truth be told, I should have semi-expected this type of problem. The adobe which I call 'home' is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a palace. It has its quirks, and one of those quirks is the electricity can be a bit dodgy at times.  Many a light bulb had sacrificed it's light giving life to the capricious nature of the shit hole in which I live.

My usual response to the burning out of the light is something along the lines of 'bollocks, not again.' This particular day's response was a bit more colourful than that, and may have included a discouraging word or two. Sitting in the dark can, on occasion, can be somewhat entertaining (especially if you have someone to sit with you), but it is not generally how modern man is meant to live his life. No matter how bright of a day (made glorious summer by this son of York, oh wait sorry sidetracked), it may be, some artificial light is almost always required to navigate one's way around in the world.  On rare occasions darkness can be your friend, but unless you are banging an ugly girl, or are ugly yourself, or are perhaps waiting in a dark alley to exact your idea of cruel revenge upon a mortal enemy, darkness is just plain scary.

Thus, the death of (another) light bulb was not a happy occasion. Expected or not, it was still not something to brighten the day. You can't simply plan for this type of event. They just happen no matter if in the deep recesses of your mind you know it is coming, forward planning is just not likely to happen. Therefore, when that 'Pop' of yet another dying light bulb went off, temporarily blinded you, and then plunging you into dark despair, you are faced with a choice. A choice that you had been avoiding like the plague. The choice of how to replace the traitorous light bulb that has left you in the lurch.

For the briefest of moments, you have to ask yourself if perhaps replacing the damn thing at all is even worth it. In a twist on the old saying is the 'candle worth the game' you have to wonder if acquiring another doomed light bulb is worth even the trip to the store.  Not that there aren't stores on every corner offering you a dizzying array of different type of light bulbs. Because there are, they are everywhere you look, even if you are trying to pretend like they aren't there.  Eventually, that burned out bulb will begin to reproach you. Reminding you of yet another failure of yours, even though you protest loudly that you aren't to blame. Secretly you realize that your part in this explosion was not inconsiderable. 

The real irony of the situation is that I (or you if this has happened to you) am the party that is supposed to fix the problem. It is inherent in the problem that I was part of it, and sending the idiot that caused the problem to fix the problem seems to be, in general, a shit plan. Which nine times out of ten it usually is, while not quite Einstein's definition of insanity, sending an idiot to fix the problem created by the aforementioned idiot is close. However, it is also inherent that I be the one to fix the problem, while despairing of any sort of success, there is quite simply no one else around interested enough (they have their own set of problems) to fix this problem for me. Truth be told, even if there were someone like that around they couldn't solve the problem. After all, it is my problem, and it requires me to fashion a solution, no matter how ill-conceived of an idea that might prove to be.

Therefore, you trudge to the nearest, or most likely place to find a replacement for the lately lamented light bulb, only to be met by a vast wall of choices. Perhaps it has been too long since the last bulb burned its last, and you've not realized the advances in light bulbs technology, or perhaps you are just the type of person that like one type of light bulb, and is a bit blinkered about the other options on the menu. Either way here you are, faced with a choice. It is not quite higher math which I am thankful for, since me and higher math are mostly strangers to one another, but it is still way more complicated than I remember from last time.  However, it must needs doing, and to go home without a replacement bulb would just mean more non-quality time in the dark, and I have determined that the dark and I need some time apart.

But, where does one start? After entering the store to find a new bulb, one is beset by the age old problem of indecision. The last bulb didn't last, but it was still good while it did. Should I go back to what I know? The tired, and almost true type of bulb that can be relied upon to work a certain length of time, and then explode as regular as Old Faithful. At least in that bulb there lies some sort of comfort zone. The knowledge that nothing is perfect, or everlasting, and therefore this bulb has a proven track record of performance and explosion. Something to 'set your watch by' as it were. The comfort and disappointment of the same time of bulb is something that I have grown used to, and grown to expect, like the sun rising in the east, or my athletic teams failing constantly. Something that unlike horses, can be predicted without too much effort. 

Or, should one step out into the great unknown of light bulbs? Maybe try one of those fancy CFL bulbs that are supposed to last forever, maybe even a circular bulb, something that keeps the light going round and round. That might be the new wave thing to do, try for something fresher, and newer and see if it can survive the quirks of my electrical graveyard. After all, man's march through time is one of progress is it not? These new types of fancy, high flauting, light bulbs might just be the answer to my spending way too much time in the dark. They do come at a slightly higher price, but are a bit sleeker than the old bulbs, so perhaps that is a trade off. Who knew that buying a goddamn light bulb could turn into a philosophical debate worthy of William of Ockham? Life, or at least this part of it shouldn't be so complicated, but it is, and a decision has to be made, and made sooner rather than later. I wonder if two light bulbs can somehow go into one light socket?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Resolution (of a kind)

Welcome to the new year, in fact welcome to the second month of the new year. A month who's name I simply can not spell correctly. If I were to be on a million dollar game show, and the question between me and the million dollars was spell this month correctly, I would just walk off the set. It is a mental block, and one that I am not ashamed to admit. We all know that new year's is supposed to be a time for new beginnings. I am going to lose weight, I am going to get a job I love (it's called work for a reason), I am going to find Jesus, and all those other lies we tell ourselves as the calendar turns from one year to the next. Since I am the most well-adjusted motherfucker I know, and since the idea of improving myself seems well neigh impossible, I never make New Year's resolutions, after all how can I improve upon perfection?

Of course, that is bollocks. I am fat, lazy, stupid, drink too much, have not one ounce of pity in my entire body, and have about 500 other flaws that could be listed if I felt like making myself cry. Which, at least at the moment, I don't. Needless to say, but I will say it anyway, there is a lot of room for improvement in the creature known as me.  Of course picking some random date like the first of the year to begin those long over due improvements is just as random as picking Bastille Day, at least Bastille Day has some real meaning to me. However, this year I decided, against my better judgment, to go ahead and make exactly ONE resolution. Truth be told, I had actually planned to make the resolution about a month before the new year, but decided to give myself one more month of this particular vice.

And it is a vice, this thing that I have resolved to give up, a vice that I share with quite a large number of people, but also one that is still uniquely my own. It is a personal vice, a vice that each person who has it makes their own. The quirks of our individual personalities make this vice unique to the person that has it, and a lot of people have it. A lot of people I know have it, and myself and those people have spent large quantities of our time pursuing this vice together. Talking about the vice, pondering why we have the vice, accepting that we are always going to have the vice, and planning our next opportunity to indulge in the vice.  It is just that all encompassing.  A vice so prevalent that the absence of it is an occasion that is to be remarked upon. 

It is a vice that has been celebrated since the beginning of time, I know I am old enough to remember the beginning of time. A fellow sufferer (who shall remain unnamed) said about this vice that it was the reason that poetry was created. Not a bad assessment, and he was in a position to know, being afflicted with the soul of a poet, and the looks of a butcher. Millions of trees have lost their lives to make the paper upon which reams of nonsense have been written, celebrating this vice. It is just one of those vices that people can not seem to do without. And it is this vice, this activity that encompassed a great deal of my misspent youth, and wasted middle age, that I have resolved to give up. 

It was not an easy decision to make, and I struggled with the making, but it is time to give up this vice. To leave it to the fellow sufferers to pursue. I wish them luck, they will need it. The timing of my giving up this vice just happened to coincide with the beginning of a new year, I could have, and should have, given this vice up back on some random day in October. However, I didn't and here I am today proclaiming, a month too late, my new years resolution to give up this vice. Lucky for me, I possess so many other vices that I do not run the risk of suddenly becoming a 'good' or 'normal' person. And I am quite sure that some long neglected vice, a vice that has been on the 'B' team of my vices, is more than willing to step into the breach that the vice I gave up previously occupied.

Giving up this vice, back when I made the decision to actually do it, did have a more positive approach. I had resolved that the time that I spent pursuing this vice, an inordinate amount I admit, would be spent pursuing something that would actually improve me as a person. It wasn't going to be anything earth shattering like become a nice person, or acting like I love my mother, but I had planned to at least try some small improvement upon the disaster that is me. However, one thing seems to have thrown a spanner in the works, and for once it isn't exactly my fault. The time spent on the vice I am giving up, was to be my own. My own to use how I saw fit, and I had hopes that it would be time well spent. But, as with most of the things in my life, I realized that the idea of having that time to burn (so to speak) was an illusion. Life, that thing that happens while we are busy making other plans, stepped in, and reclaimed my 'vice time' for its own.

The thing that is or will soon take over 'vice time' is an obligation that I swore an oath (a long time ago) to do, and in spite of my best efforts, which admittedly are piss poor as usual, it will soon take away the time I had allotted to improve upon myself.  In many ways, important way, this makes me rather militant. Wisdom comes late if at all, and the idea of giving up this vice to become the  more of the man I (and I am the important bit) want to be was something that I looked forward to. And I don't get to look forward to a whole lot of things. The fact that it has been 'stolen' from me without so much as a 'by your leave' leaves a quite bitter taste in my mouth. There is exactly fuck all I can do about it, and as to the bitter taste, well it is Valentine's Day, and there is candy to be had. Happy VD, a mob like you deserves it. 

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Iron Bars and Stone Walls

"So, you are the one they will never let out?" those words were the first (unwise) ones that the 'new guy' directed and me on his first day. New guys, they just never understand at first, which I suppose is the point of them being new.  I sighed and replied " and where in the world did you get such a depressing idea?"  He smiled and said 'everyone here says the same thing. They said look at that old bastard, he is the one they will never let out of here, try not to do as he does.'  Needless to say this did not enliven my spirits a great deal. 'Well iron bars and stone walls do not a prison make, and if you think this place is a prison, well it will become one pretty quickly.'  Truth be told there were no iron bars, or stone walls, and people have 'gotten out of here alive', it was just that I wasn't ever going to, and I had accepted that as my lot in life.

Actually, the real truth, is that I could get out if I had done one of three things. Walked out without so much as a 'by your leave', asked out with my hat in my hands (which I was never going to do), and well the final exit which awaits us all, and that I was not quite ready for yet.  Walking out without a fall back didn't seem to be a good plan, considering that I like to eat and sleep in a warm place. Asking to leave, well that was part of the reason I was were I was to begin with. 'They', in this case the bastards that had put and kept me here, knew that I would never ask to leave. My inability to play well with others made it impossible for me to go begging for a new 'prison'. The third option wasn't really an option, so I was as stuck as stuck could be.

"Look junior" I laughed 'this place is a bit like purgatory, for those of your kind that believe in that sort of shit.' Your lot in life is to undergo some sort of "purification" in order to ascend to the heavens above, where all the angels sing, and the streets are paved with gold.' For me it is more like your idea of 'limbo' the edge of hell, to which I am exiled to until the end of time, or I die, whichever comes first.'  His eyes widened a bit at my blasphemy, and I begin to realize that the new guy was as green as grass. Why do 'they' continue to send me raw material like him I'll never understand. I am not the great guru of this place, I have no more knowledge than several other of my fellow travelers, but the newbies come to 'learn at the knee" of the lifer, as I am referred to in this shithole.

"The ironic part is after you 'learn at the knee' with me, you then have to go bend the knee there." Something that is also not in my skill set." Nodding in agreement he replied "so I have heard, at least the bending the knee bit." Ever thought it might not be a bad skill to learn?"
"Of course, I've thought about it, but I'll give you one more lesson from the creation myth that your lot belief in, though it isn't from the 'good book' it is from Milton. In Paradise Lost Milton quotes Satan after he has been expelled from Heaven for his sin of pride, something him and I share, Satan looks around Hell, nods once, and says "So be it." That has always been one of my guiding principles once I sorted out that they would never let me out of here." I suggest you do as I say not as I do."

Monday, January 27, 2014

Salt Kopman (A Fragment)

I am a salt merchant, a seller of exactly one commodity, salt. Not pepper, not saffron, or sage, just salt.  It was not what I was classically educated to do, but sometimes life takes you in directions that you are, at the very least, reluctant to follow.  No, salt was not in my future as a bright young lad in the Empire's second most important city.  Back then, I was not destined to sully myself (or my hands) with something so dead common as a trade. I was the family's golden boy with locks of curly hair, and a mind sharpened on the whetstones of the best tutors my family money could buy. Granted we were not the richest family in the city, but a middling amount of money would go much further back in those days than it does now. I was also the lucky beneficiary of an odd quirk that (almost all) tutors possess (when they are paid). It is wonderful for them, or so they would say, when they find a mind as quick as my was purported to be it becomes a contest. A contest to see which one of them could fill my mind with the most knowledge in their respective fields. My Maths teacher saw me solve all sorts of complex problems that his mind could only loosely grasp, and wanted me to me the next Archimides, bringing world fame upon us both. My science tutor, pondered, and failed to understand the results of my more complex experiments, and became determined to be known as the discoverer of the next Newton. My history teacher was baffled at the conclusions I drew, but knew enough to know that he wanted to make me the next Herodotus.

It wasn't overly important to me which of these fools won the day, I knew that I was not going to be any sort of the things they wanted me to be. I was going to be my own man, make my own way in the world, and do all sorts of wonderful things.  I didn't really want to be limited to being just one of the above 'new' men, I wanted to be all of them rolled into one.  Thus, my desire to learn as much as I could, about as much as there was to learn. Each tutor, in their own way, and without their knowledge was creating in me exactly what they wanted. They just didn't realize that all the other tutors were doing the same thing.  I never claimed to be a nice guy. People have their uses, and not putting them to the use they have is just plain wasteful

However, all those tutors imparted all that knowledge at a price. Both in monetary, and other terms. The money eventually ran out, and I was not prepared to meet their other terms. Seems they wanted to create the newest, brightest thing in their field, but only if they could control it as well. I have some major control issues, and I left my tutors, and decided to take my knowledge out into the wild world. The problem was with how I left my tutors, and it was for that reason that the wild world became a little bit wilder. Some fellows with nightsticks and the funny hats merely 'suggested' that 'the wide, wild, world could use a lad like you, just not this particular corner'. This corner of the world had all the clever fellows it could stand, and it was in my 'best interest' to find a new location from which to pursue my dreams of world domination.

Hints are rather easier to catch onto when they are delivered at the end of a sharp, pointy thing, and suggestions about traveling are easier to understand when they are had at the city gates. The second city of the Empire had no more use for me, regardless of my feelings on the matter. It wasn't that I had put down particularly deep roots in the city of my birth, but being pushed out the door was quite a blow to my psyche. Not that I had any sort of 'normal' home life to bid adieu to, but still one would prefer to walk out of, rather than be shown, the door.

Once out that 'proverbial' door, I had very little choice. The 'free' market isn't really free, and charity is not something that can be reliably depended upon. Sure, there are some kind souls out in the world, who will give you a hot meal, and maybe even a place to stay, but they begin to look less fondly upon you as more time goes past.  Therefore, the kindness of my fellow humans was not going to see me through was what clearly more than just a 'rough patch' in my life. No, I very quickly realized that there was exactly one person upon whom I could rely, myself.  It was not necessarily a surprise, but this realization was still not a pleasant one at which to arrive.

The problem with that realization was that I was an unknown quality when it came to be relied upon, no one had ever had the bad sense to rely upon me before. But, here I was out of other options, and only my wits, and a precious few coins to sustain me. Those coins, some carefully hoarded, some actually earned, and a few that were, shall we say 'borrowed' from my fellow citizens, were not going to last nearly as long as I needed them to, and the horror that soon became apparent to me was that I was going to have to acquire that most dreaded of things, a job. Suddenly, the idea of being the next Herodotus didn't look such a bad idea. Unfortunately that ship had sailed, sailed without me, sailed with me standing on the dock gleefully waving it good bye and wishing it a bad journey. That decision, as I plotted where my next meal was coming from, seemed just a bit on the foolish side. The joys of hindsight, if you ponder long enough about 'where it all went horribly wrong' most of the time (stress on most) you can, if you're bright enough and honest enough with yourself (always a tricky thing to try to be), figure out that moment in time where you went left instead of right. 

Although my more immediate left or right decision was a bit more prosaic being as it was being decided in a pissing down, cold rain at the crossroads that I had been 'gently' escorted to by the burly gentlemen wearing the Queen's livery. The left or right choice that was currently facing me was much more simple. Left led to the swamps and wastes of a province that had no appeal to me. Left was the way of the desperate, the way of the men who had absolutely nothing left to lose, those that life had little use for, and those who had little use for life. Right led to the far-flung reaches of the empire, the frontier as it were. A place, where if a man was clever enough (and I liked to think back then at least that I was clever), he could find some sort of fortune, if not exactly fame. The province I was being 'advised' to leave was home to the Empire's second city. The province that I turned right to trudge towards contained (and I am being generous) the Empire's seventeenth city, and and whole bunch of nothing else.

However, since I was not quite in the grips of a mind numbing despair, I chose to go right at the crossroads. I like to think it was a good idea, but hindsight is always 20/20. Back then I just wanted to find a place to sleep that was dry, and a place where I could eat on the cheap. It is amazing how quickly your priorities can change, and how simple your goals become once you are 'homeless'.