Friday, January 16, 2015


I am labeled a barbarian, a word those smug, boy loving, Greeks gave us because my kind didn't speak the language of Socrates and Plato, and those other over thinkers that the world thinks hung the bloody moon. Those fellows have been dead ages and ages, and yet the term 'barbarian' persists, not only does it persist, it thrives. The latest beacon of the world/greatest civilization i.e. the stinking Romans, have stolen that word and labelled me and my kind barbarians. However, like many terms of derision, it is not exactly accurate. I was born under Roman rule, and while I have not quite achieved the iron ring of citizenship, I speak the lingo of the Romans. Of course, my Latin is not spoken like a toga wearing, long nosed Senator in the Forum, and sometimes I find myself 'losing' the correct word in Latin, and having to rely on my more colorful native tongue. I still managed to get by in Rome, when I was in Rome.

I am no longer in Rome, they called it exile, I call it being sick of the place and taking the waters at Mutina, a place just the other side of nowhere. A place still ruled by the stinking Romans, and a place that I am not actually supposed to be. My 'exile' as the stinking Romans called it, banned me from the entire Italian peninsula, and I was escorted by a couple of complete bastards onto a slow boat to nowhere. Nowhere, as it turns out, was called Sinope, and it was the ass end of the world. Not much that would be recorded in the historical scrolls would ever mention the colony of Sinope, and the people there seemed to be quite fine with being on the obscurer side of history. Well, not me lads, I am not the type of "barbarian" that takes being shipped off to the ends of the known world with a smile and a thank you for your kindness legate. I am made of sterner stuff, or am more of a suicidal idiot depending on the person who's opinion you are asking. Either way this dump Sinope was not going to be the place where my bones found their eternal resting place. The dust of this place, and it was a dusty, backward, shit hole, was soon to be shaken from my boots, and the sooner the better.

Of course, the stinking Roman are an efficient (for the most part) lot of bastards, how else do you think they conquered the known world, playing dice? Therefore, my exile while not the most important thing on the local governor's plate was still something of which he was aware. Somewhere, in the best scribe written Latin was a scroll with all my details filed under the 'local undesirable' tab in some bored to death clerk's office. However, being a barbarian, and one that wasn't six feet tall with a beard down to my chest that spoke mostly in grunts and by taking whatever he wanted, I wasn't at the top of anybodies list of things to keep close track of.  However, one does not simply walk away from exile. Even if the slack jawed clerks, and the local vigils didn't seem to care where I was, as long it wasn't in their presence, a plan still needed to be made. Just strapping a pack of beef jerky and fish pickle onto my back and walking in the general direction of Rome was not something that I was quite ready to do, and would more than likely end in my death in some other back water shit hole that no one had ever heard of.

No, a plan had to be formulated, and planning takes a few things. Time being one of them, ideas being another. One of those things I had, the other I was sorely lacking, But, I also knew that the "undesirable locals" scroll contained more than just my name, and I knew some of the other names on the list, and where to find them.  It isn't hard, undesirables whether they be locals or a lot of Johnny foreigners tend to congregate at bars. Never one to turn down a beaker even if it was just the local swill, I hied myself off to the nearest bar to find myself a like minded undesirable. As luck would have it, it only took me 4 beakers, and three bars before I found the like minded fellow I was looking for. His name was nearly unpronounceable in my native tongue, and neither one of us cared for the Latinized version of our names. I called him Stairaid, it was as good a name as any, and it was the one that he chose. There is a lot to be said for the freedom to chose your own name. It is one thing that we are stuck with our entire lives and which we usually had absolutely no say so in picking.

Stairaid was an odd, little fellow but he had the advantage of being a wanderer, and the added bonus of not being exiled as I was. He was just a "move along to the next town" type of undesirable, not the "you are banished, and never set foot in Rome again" type of exile that I am.  How he washed up on the shores of Sinope is a story for another time, but he was a ready as I was to let "these yokels see the back of me."  I knew it would take months, maybe even years for the two of us to reach Rome, but I was determined to be around for the fall. My people had hurled armies at Rome, and that is why there is a whole lot less of us now than before, and the reason I was born under Roman rule. No my plan, in so far as I had one, was to wait patiently, or at least as patiently as I am able for the weight of Rome to make it collapse from the inside. All the "barbarian" hordes that had broken like so many small waves upon the swords and shields of those remorseless Roman legions, served as a object lesson for me, and mine. Rome wasn't built in a day, and it certainly wasn't going to "fall" in a day either.

That journey, which we somehow both managed to survive was not a stroll in the park, not that we expected it to be, and it was full of enough comedy, tragedy, and horror to merit it's own scroll. That is also, perhaps, a story for another time. We made it to the outskirts of Rome, and I even managed one short foray into the city itself. Walking those clear, clean streets and hearing the multiple tongues of the Empire spoken by carters, fish mongers, informers, and even the stuffed toga wearing lawyers of the  Basilica Julia, made me even more determined to 'conquer' this city, and bend it to my will. It is merely a question of time before that will happen, and when it does my revenge will be complete. I am not the "burn it to the ground" kind of conqueror. I prefer a more of a "benevolent dictator" style of rule. The iron fist in the velvet glove is the way to rule civilized people like the stinking Romans, and that lesson has been a long time learned.

Stairaid went his own way once we made it within shouting distance of Rome, he had his own business to attend to, and I didn't think he wanted me to know too much about it. After my brief jaunty visit to Rome, I figured it was best for me to move a couple of days hard ride away, and wait for the fall. There exists a saying that claims "the bigger they are the harder they fall', I would add to that that the bigger they are the longer it takes them to fall. It is just a matter of time, but my problem, the problem I have now, and have always had it quite simple. How long do you await for a city to fall? Whilst I understand that time isn't necessarily on my side, this waiting is a thing that must needs doing. I may be a barbarian, but I am a barbarian with staying power. Rome, that majestic symbol of all the fuckery in the world today, will fall, this I know, and when it does, this barbarian will be there to help himself to all the glory he was denied by his "exile".

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Thief of Words

Not every blog post has to be a rehash of the two feelings I can muster.

You, dear reader(s) (if there is more than one of you), are a thief. A damn sneak thief that comes like a cat burglar in the night, cases the joint, and then ever so gently breaks the close on my free hold, and takes the family jewels, and anything else you can carry off into the night. I do not know how you dress for the occasion of your thievery. I wonder if you are there all dressed in black like some proto ninja thinking that black is the best colour for sneaking off into the night with someones prized collection of GI Joe dolls (it isn't).  Or are you just sitting there in your small clothes, bored out of your mind, and thinking that I will just wander over to GI's place and steal a few things that he won't even notice.

Since I am  a minimalist, in both possessions and words, these thefts do get noticed. Whether it is important or not is a totally different story, and really dear reader(s) you aren't a thief, because I give these words as freely as possible. Though these words that I write, even the ones that on occasion make people cry, aren't really free. I have to pay for them, not with money, that would be easy, but with other things. I pay for them with thought, experience, feelings, and a whole of lot of trying to remember shit long enough to write it all down. That last bit is sometimes the most important bit, the thoughts, the feelings, and the experiences, come regardless of my desire for them to or not. They are like waves, you do not beg the sun for mercy, and you do not ask the ocean to stop pounding the beaches of the world with waves.

Those waves of thoughts, feelings, and experiences, that pound the beach of me, and that are slowly eroding that sandcastle of my persona that I have painstaking built, are the 'possessions' of my intellectual life.  These possessions are probably not valuable to anyone other than me, but that is the important bit. They have a value to me, and to me is the most important value of all. Many moons ago, I wrote that I was writing this blog for me, and any readers that I obtained were just gravy. That was, as far as I could make it, true at the time. However, as time passed, and those waves pounded upon me, I began to write this blog for other people. Some of them were readers, and some of them were not (and remain so), but that didn't matter to me at the time. What mattered to me was that I was being read, granted it was clear that some people were reading me only to check my spelling and grammar, and those readers are not a loss that I will feel with any sort of sadness. But, other people, the people I really wanted to write for, were reading me for content. They understood that the act of my 'creative' (using the term very broadly) involved me sitting at my computer and just writing the post as it happened in my mind. Calm reflection, and the MLA handbook on grammar were not being consulted.

The death of the grammar Nazis is not to be mourned, because even though they serve a purpose, they are usually to wrapped up in some fucking split infinitive to worry about the actual content. It was the content that I was writing for my readers, and that is when I realized I had lost my way. When I began writing to be read, instead of writing just to write, my 'muse' left me high and dry. The waves, as hard as it was to conceive just stopped coming onto my beach. The, seemingly inexhaustible, well of ideas had run dry, and it was impossible for me to comprehend. On occasion the ideas would trickle in, but they would then be run through the (imaginary) sieve of 'how will this be received' before they were (mostly) discarded, and not written.

You, dear reader(s), affected me like a drought affected a desert, you left me with nothing but sand, useless grains of ideas that could not be molded or stuck together to form any sort of coherent thought or post. Your acts of thievery, however innocently meant, became a challenge for me. It eventually dawned upon me that your reading of any post I wrote was a mere blip in your day (as it should be) we are bombarded by the information superhighway, and this blog is but one, small pit stop on that road, but for me it is the pit stop that I own, and that makes all the difference. It might be a dump, but it is my dump, and ramshackled or not, it is all I have. The act of writing this blip is a lot more difficult than the act of reading it (at least I hope so). Readers are like people standing in line at a buffet, and writers are like the poor sod cutting the prime rib. We can only cut one piece at a time, while you can stand in line stuffing your faces with cupcakes, shrimp, and pizza whilst waiting for us to give you a small slice of our 'prime rib'. Not that my writing is in any way 'prime' but it is mine and for me is the (main) reason it exists.

  It is exactly my fault that I allowed this not too subtle shift in my thinking to affect this endeavor, and I am here to make my mea culpa, and to (hopefully) take this project back to its creative roots. Those roots, the ones that birthed this blog, are based on the idea that I write for me, and perhaps the desk drawer, not to be read. It is a mind boggling act of selfishness, but then again I think that if you have read me, you can easily surmise that I am a mind boggling selfish asshole. If any of my readers do still exist, and there are reasons to doubt that they do, I hope they understand that this is not an invitation to fuck off, but a realization that while they are desperately needed, they are not the star of this show. I also hope that they realize that one man shows are not in vogue and that every Humphrey Bogart needs a Tim Holt in order to make the film a success.


Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Bla mandag

Yesterday was, the sages known as 'they' inform us, Blue Monday. The supposedly saddest day of the year. The Monday after the holidays, when all the right thinking people of the world have staggered back to their jobs or careers to make the money they will need to spend next Xmas.  Of course, this is all pseudoscience or raging bullshit depending on how fancy an education you had, and your mood when describing it.

In my locale it was a gloomy, cold Janvier day, with nothing to distinguish it from the day before (i.e. Sunday) or, for that matter, today (i.e. Tuesday). It was just another day on the calendar that, at my age, is turning over way too quickly for my liking. Nothing overly sad about it, unless you count the UNC basketball team's loss to the bastards from Notre Dame. or the Swedish junior hockey team losing the third place game to Slovakia which also could be quite sad. While those things may be somewhat sad, it is no reason to besmirch the reputation of an entire day. If you are friends with, or in a group of 23 people yesterday would have quite possibly been two of their shared birthday(s) (it happened in my case I know/knew two people who had a birthday yesterday). They, depending on their age, and how the day's celebration of their birth when, probably would not agree that yesterday was so sad. After all, it was the day they came into the world, and they probably enjoy most of their time here. While birthdays can be a depressing sort of affairs for some, for most people at least there is the chance to get cake, and possibly laid, and cake is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

If a simple thing like the end of the holidays, or the date on a calendar makes you sad, then perhaps, just perhaps you need to take a look around in (not at) your life. From your side of your life, not from the vantage point of 'them'. Allow what 'they' see to be unimportant, because mostly it is, and look in your life from the only eyes that really matter, your own. As you punch the alarm clock into submission, and promise it and yourself that nine more glorious minuets of sleep is all you need to make your life complete, roll over and look at the (hopefully there is one) companion sharing your bed, and hopefully your life. Unless he or she is some birthday only type of companion, or you woke up cold, sad, and alone, you have someone there, and chances are they actually want to be there. There, with you, on a daily basis no matter what infinite sadness you may be bringing to the table.  They are there because you convinced them, or they convinced themselves, or a combination that you (and, in theory only you) are the person they want to share their lives with, at least for some period of time. Hopefully (again in theory) that time frame is the 'forever' you may have promised each other in front of a group of your and their closest friends.

If that either temporary or permanent (for the nonce) companion's presence in your life, and your (shared) bed isn't enough to dispel the gloom, then maybe you can (depending on if they exist or not), get out of that nice, warm bed and pad down to the room which is occupied by your offspring. If they exist, there they are, a little piece of your mortality. For good or bad, half of the genes swirling about in their (tiny) bodies comes directly from you. That half, the good half you hope, is a glimpse into the fact that (hopefully) something of you will live on after you cease to exist on this mortal coil. Pause, watch them sleep, and ponder on that for a few seconds. Seconds are precious, and the seconds you spend watching your offspring, your progeny sleep peacefully are seconds that will make the hours of being sexted by your boss much easier to bear.

If not for yourself, or for your bed mate, this then is a reason to tell the saddest day of the year to go fuck itself. This lifetime of parenting that you signed up for will make all the sad days of all the years you have left seem nothing more than a trifle.  A mere bagatelle, that old men in parks waste their time over when the autumn of their lives arrive unexpectedly. Sure that offspring of yours and your bed mate will grow up to have the "I hate you phase" we all do, you did, and so will it. It will, eventually outgrow that phase like you did, and like the most of the rest of us did as well, but that is the offspring's problem not  yours. Yours is the love you feel, and will always feel for that little monster even when they are making decisions that you bemoan, and curse the fate for steering them down the primrose path.

Even if you are 'unlucky' enough to lack both the 'time pressured' bed companion, and the attendant offspring that some times come with them, get out of bed, take yourself a nice, brisk Scottish shower, and get 'into' your life. It is the only one you are going to have by the way, and it is best to use it, as much as 'they' will allow you, in a way that you enjoy. From the director's chair and the writer's desk of your life, it is incumbent upon you, and you alone to make it a production worth watching, living, and seeing. If you fall down on that job, then perhaps not just January 5th is a sad day, but they are all sad days, and will continue to be so if you allow it. After all, sadness is a feeling, and one of the few things in the world you should be able to control (can control) are your very own feelings. Be they for a failing basketball team, or a under performing hockey club. The seemingly impossible task of making your life more than the sum of its parts is THE task that the world has thrown at you. Remember the world (for the most part) exists only to destroy you (and lots of other things, but your main concern is you), and it will eventually. But before that assured destruction happens, it is your job, you raison d'etre, to make your life the best it can be (like the Marines but in a less jarhead type of way). 

P.S. This (awful) post was inspired by, and is dedicated to two people. One who probably doesn't remember being the inspiration, and one that is too young to understand one word of it.