Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Lifetime Ago....Literally?

This series (and the other five sheets like it) - I stumbled upon these today - they were to be a topic of a previous post - but, like everything else in my life, got shuffled away in a stack of things that I wanted to discuss, and inevitably, turned up when, like some sort of frantic rat packing away stolen bits of garbage for the fourtieth litter of baby rats this month, I was cleaning up the place. Rats is a fair descriptor - if you could have only seen the destruction I walked into last night - excited about being home a day early, ready to play with the kids, sleep in my bed, shower with my favorite loofah, use my clean fresh bath robe - you know the drill - get to some of the common things that you work so hard to have - and spend most of your time away from. I have a magical bathrobe - I believe my brother-in-law was given it as a gift while in France when he was sixteen - but the fact that it is six different bright colors, and has a bunny rabbit with a heart on it, I don't think he fancied being seen in it by his college roomies at Duke - so I gladly accepted it (I pulled it off of the donation pile for the VFW collections) - and have had it for about 17 years now. It is just now getting perfect. It is soft, not quite threadbare, warm, and the colors are still bright. It was definitely a good find - none the less, it was part of the sixteen loads of laundry that I am still in the middle of - at least the rest of the house is cleaned, the kids are asleep, and I can be not so pissed off anymore; however, it was a fucking nightmare of a mess - and I am glad that it is over with. Not the way I envisioned my welcome home, but if I were accutely able to predict the things that make me happy, well hell, I probably would not be a blogger...
Anyway - head shots - these were taken shortly after my 18th birthday - I did a stint with community theatre, several plays actually, maybe three or four - I loved them - and then I actually tried out for a few bit parts in Hollywood movies that were being made close to Florida - obviously most of the genre was B level Country Farmer meets Country Woman who has Alcoholic Husband who kills County Farmer, and the dog saves the woman by leaping over a shopping cart to receive a shotgun blast to the know the sort of thing - now a days, "Straight to DVD" - I remember my first call back, wow, that was exciting - an eighteen day gig potentially, at union scale, to dress up like a thirties carnie hawking something - but then they explained to me, you have to be here for eighteen days - you only get paid for the time you are in front of the cameras - and then they enlightened me even more by saying, that could be five minutes - or could be five days - they were just extras casting, and the director would choose who and what and how the folks would be used in the scenes. Well, I would show them - needless to say, that was my brief, somewhat stupid and reactionary run in with the biz - now I regret not sitting around for eighteen days - for god sakes I was eighteen years old - what the hell did I have to do that was so important at the time?
I don't see much of that kid anymore - I don't even weakly feel any resemblance to the boy that was in that series of pictures. It is a strange, almost extraterrestrial feeling now that so many things that I only dreamed of back then have been set aside, pushed away, come true, been proven false, and delayed for further review. What a young man I was, dreams, strong, handsome, tender, awake, hopeful, and most of all, pure. I still have many of those things - and I guess we all are tempered by the fire of the years - I am still a young man - actually slightly more aggressive, still pure but educated, still hopeful but terribly realistic, and I still dream - not quite as much as that group of pictures represents - but I still have the same dreams that I had then - I think I blogged on that place - amazing to have them over and over and over again for eighteen years...
Every so often, that kid comes back - and I welcome him, it feels good to sense that awkward insecurity and blind optimism of an eighteen year old with more sperm than sense, but it is also good to feel those young feelings of love and loss and life - the three "L" words that pretty much define everything - I have seen more of him in the past eight months than I have in the past eighteen years, and it really has been a lifetime since we sat down and talked with each other about where we are and where we want to be, and where we thought we would be - I don't think he blames me for ending up the way I did, and I certainly thank him for helping me end up where I am now - I welcome him back anytime, I would not trade where I am for just about anything in the world - not even a second chance to say yes to those casting folks.
Until next time -
The Older George

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Couple of Days of Relaxation....and The Travelistic Philisophy Ten Commandments

It was an uneventful trip to Omaha this week, if you consider dropping a couple hundred dollars in a penny slot machine, straight line winds knocking the power out at the hotel, loosing touch with any reason to actually keep trying to do the right thing at work, getting stuck in an elevator twice, and being ditched by your boss in a meeting with a Senior Vice President - if you consider those things uneventful - then welcome to my world, I am not a pessimist or an optimist - I am a realist - the glass is neither half empty nor half full, it is just two times as big as it needs to be - think about it...

Colorado - it was relaxing - I was thumbing through the pictures tonight of my children - and what lucky, priviledged children they are - I suppose that is why I travel as much as I do - I understand that they want my time - and I also understand that I want them to be independent and strong - and well travelled - let them make a decision on how or what career they want to pursue, but I want them to know that there is a much larger world out there - the pictures I listed above are just a few of the fun things that we did together - my in-laws are great folks - television is a very limited luxury in their house (as it should be) and most time is spent in the great outdoors identifying flowers, learning the names of the Mountains, talking about the history of the Colorado Trail, or just sitting by the pool - I appreciate that in them - they have a similar feeling about being outside - I don't have to fish, run, camp, have a fire, dig a hole, swim, bike, or whatever - I just think it is important to be outside when you can - sure, sometimes on lazy hot Friday afternoons, it is okay to rest off Thursdays hangover from too many beers at the cheerleading function us businessmen have to be a part of, but don't let that parlay into an excuse to ruin all day Saturday - waking up Saturday and feeling alive is the best feeling in the world - and that is when you need to have the smell of the woods fill your head and senses with nothing more than wanderlust and dusty trails ahead...
It was an odd transition to family life last week - I had been in Fort Worth, and then Austin, and then to an airport where I knew that it was the last time - I think everyone knew it was my last time there for that reason - I don't want to think about things like that, but sort of like blue cheese, it takes months to get that smell out of tupperware - and I imagine it will take years to get those thoughts out of my head. You see, it is relatively simple, I am somewhere between in love with my world, and confused by it all - I wonder what school of philosophical thought that belongs to? Maybe, just maybe, I am creating my own fucked up school of philosophical thought - "The Travelistic Methodology of Reaching Pinnacles and Pain in the Asses Beyond Your Own Natural Ability to Break Every Maxim or Moral Code Ever Established" School of thought - that would be a great way to put it - but it goes beyond that satirical comment - I want my ten days, and I want ten more, and I want ten more Texas nights and Austin sidewalks, and dark dirty bars, and rides in rickshaws from skinny little Texas people who weigh half of what I do, I want odd phone calls, and tattoo parlors, and all that good shit. (As they say in Texas) - but I am not going to go into that now -
Okay so, that's enough heavy stuff, now that I have established that I am creating a new philosophy, I will share with you - the avid fan and reader and future disciple of my painful, sick, twisted, and gelatin like mind, the ten crumbling pillars of my new found philosophy -
1. I have a credit card and a frequent flier card, therefore, I am. This takes the "I think, therefore I am" a little futher - with both of these things, you get free drinks, you get to buy way too much shit, and you get to do it in strange places - with strange people.
2. The Travelers Razor (Not to be confused with that over intelligent Occam's Razor) - Don't ever use any razor given out for free at hotels - you get what you pay for, and the rusty, dull blade that they pass out at the front desk is designed to challenge the senses and create longing for store bought things - this is however, the best way to serve punishment to my followers for drinking way too much the night before a day long meeting - it has magical powers to, through adrenalin, endorphin, and just sheer pain - cure a hangover and clear the mind.
3. You are Where you Think You Are - This is sort of create your own reality, but this goes one step further - when you wake up on the airplane after having a wet dream, and your seat mate is terribly uncomfortable about the hip thrusting motions you have been making for the past twenty minutes, well, you are where you think you are - just go back to sleep, and hope you dream of oral.
4. There are more friends than enemies - Particularly when you have an expense report. They may not like you, or even enjoy working with you, but they will drink your beer.
5. Every vision is a memory - One thought comes to mind - you can actually, is some hotels, rent "Fat Black Chicks Who Take it Up the Ass" - this is a vision and certainly a lasting memory.
6. Do unto others as you would have done to them - I know this is circular, but it gets rid of the whole entire guilt thing when you travel somewhere for a few days, piss everybody off, smile, and then leave and say "I look forward to the next trip" - that is team building.
7. God only exists at take off and landing - Trust me on this one, I see more folks praying at these times, and then see them on the layovers picking up on the big chested blonde who "Do No Speak the Good English".
8. Comfort becomes a Prison - I have had every perk, every nice soap, shampoo, cookie, treat, gift basket, and free novelty a traveler can have - after three days in the hotel room, these comforts can not beat a bologna sandwich on white bread in your own garage.
9. Light and Darkness are impossible to control, so live with them both - For those of us who have stayed in enough hotels, we know it is virtually impossible to figure out that one fucking light switch that turns off the annoying light that bounces off of the mirror, and always find a way to hit you in the eyes.
10. There is no place like home - and for most us, that is why we travel.
Not as funny as the other ones - but these are all true - and I challenge even the most practiced follower to find fault in any of these maxims - notice there are no heavy "eternity" maxims - we have all sat through enough business meetings to realize that eternity is not something most of us are interested in, we just want to make it through the day without standing up, yelling "Fuck You this is a Crock of Steaming Bullshit", and make it to the free drinks at happy hour.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Columbine and Ambiguity...

There are, in my unscientific estimate, more people who relate Columbine to a couple of very sick, very lonely children who determined their place in history was to take away the opportunity of others - with no remorse, only to end their lives - and to forever change the way the State Flower of Colorado was viewed. Above is the real Columbine, a spring and summer flower, that, like the children who were vicsiously mowed down, comes in amazing colors and varieties, and speaks of newness and life. Along the hikes this week in Colorado, along the Colorado Trail, I was constantly reminded of the newness of life - short hikes along and up to Cactosin Point, along the double rutted wagon trails used by early pioneers and gold rushers looking for a new life. Anyone who has ever read even the slightest bit about the history out here knows that those folks who were coming out here did not own shit - they were working wealthy Eastern land owners that sat and relaxed while numbers of women, men, and children died along the way to finding an arid, cold, unforgiving land where nothing grows - nothing except for the Columbine and other meadow flowers in the late Spring and early summer. Bears, Elk, Foxes, Mountain Lions, Coyotes, and the like - it was a good hike. It was about 2,400 feet of elevation over and around a creek, through old log cabins sat in the corners of small green meadows, parts of the trail were dusty with enough rocks shaped into ball bearings by years of snow melt and rain. There was plenty to see and to breathe in (when my East Coast lungs finally adjusted to the 12,000 feet of elevation) and even a little July snow patch on the shady sides of the mountain for the kids from Florida to delight in. Still, it was a good hike, but something was missing, and I suspect will forever be missing from those hikes.

One day, this blog will be open for everyone to read, right now, it is my journal, my place of rest, the way I feel close to my rythm without being able to hear or see that song - it is my respite from ambiguity, from the decisions that we allow others to make for us - and then we live by them, we live for them, and then, generally when we realize it is too late (based on all of the great literature), we die without them and bitter about them. Let us not be ambiguous about these things. My life has been in a place that I can only say has more reward than learning something for the first time - it has been surrounded by certainty that was constantly - and I mean constantly - defined by the ambiguity of the situation I have been in. Well - that certainty is still there, I still love, I still feel, I still wake up on the grass at George and in the Gas Works, and throw a skee ball, and sit on a park bench, and realize luggage tags do mean something - but now the ambiguity is gone - there is definition that I did not want, nor ever wanted to face; however, it is here, and now I must deal with it.

I am reading a book on relationships right now - for folks like me, who constantly understand that sleeping in your own bed is sometimes over-rated, has given me insight - it is okay to want the best of everything, it is okay to give until you have nothing, and it is okay, sometimes, to want to be in a small dark place with a bottle of scotch, and some simple words, and maybe a few minutes with a friend.

Here is the definition of Ambiguity:

Doubtfulness or uncertainty as regards interpretation: “leading a life of alleged moral ambiguity” (Anatole Broyard).

Something of doubtful meaning: a poem full of ambiguities.

Well, I can assure you, that, as far as I can tell, only my future is ambiguous - I am, for perhaps the third time in my thirty six years, at a place where I do not know what I will do. I know what I can do - I know what the choices are, and normally, I would barrel through and come to some conclusion after a decision had been made - but now, I do not know what I will do. I don't know what I will feel, I will taste - yes, for me, loss can make the sweetest flavors bland and the strongest flowers pungent, I will want to touch, or even what I will want to feel. That is ambiguity, and frankly, I don't know.

I have had a week filled with excitement - Texas baseball, Austin Rockabilly and long-haired eighties cover bands, long drives, Colorado mountains, love, and quiet. Most of all, just quiet. That sense of quiet where there are only two things that matter, there are only two places that count, and there are only two people that care to hear them. Perhaps that is the choice I can make, (pardon the ambiguous ending), but I just do not know, and am buried by the weight of the ambiguity of it all. Maybe dreams of Columbine...



Sunday, July 6, 2008

Okay, I have lost my mind

Okay, Okay, Okay - I know this is totally stupid. I mean really really stupid - but I am in a panic state and I can't figure out where or when or how or why I am supposed to get out of this frame of mind. I don't like this feeling at all - I am hanging on by a thread -

I sat at my Dad's house today, there was a thunderhead that rolled through and we spent the better part of the afternoon eating burgers, talking, and dealing with his financial difficulties that seem to plague him like hunger in Africa - it may be that he buys anything that is shiny or has moving parts, but hell, I guess he figures he can't take it with him -

One of the toys he bought was a Blackberry - now try and watch a 62 year old man who has a hard enough time turning on a TV set try and program his blackberry - he had 22 messages - he did not realize that he had voicemail on the thing - one of the messages was from me about three weeks ago - he hung up on me four times as he learned to use his Bluetooth, so finally I called him back, and left him the distinct message "Pull over and call me from a fucking pay phone" - it was a slow day, a day, but a slow long day with no respite except relaxtion and plenty of Watermelon Jelly Bellies (He buys them in bulk, and has a one gallon container of them in the pantry)...

Anyway, I am losing my mind. No contact, no nothing. I am not sure what I did or what I did not do, but I picture images of overturned boats in the Puget Sound, or midnight drives that did not go so well, or long enduring conversations that seemed to repair everything - that's the thing about this - I don't have any right to feel the way I do right now - none whatsoever - but I do - and I am trying every distraction from fish sticks to online music to make it go away. It's not going away.

No Letter Today...

I hate those days when email slows to a crawl, and there is nothing to read or respond to. My brain starts to do those loop de loops that all of the coolest roller coasters have, and I start to think way too much. This is not much of a blog, except to say that no contact is bad contact - sometimes email helps make the mind feel better - that song "Too much of nothing can make a man feel ill at ease" is a great indicator of how I feel today...

Friday, July 4, 2008

Castle, Castle, Made of Sand...

Wow - what a Fourth of July - I spent all of about 12 hours on the beach, feel like I have been boiled, not just a little boiled, but alot boiled, look about the color of a hot lobster coming out of the steamer, and feel like the corn on the cob that has ice cold butter melting all over it - any minute now the skin on my body is going to slough off like a lizard skin, and I imagine as I walk through the dark, all you will be able to see me by is eyeballs and teeth - and the sound of me crying loudly from the distinct pain of second degree sun poisoining as I make my way to cold sheets and more glasses of ice water...It is also compounded by the fact that at the break of dawn I stumbled out on the patio in my boxer shorts, and well, the mosquitos seem to be attracted to the more tender parts of my body, so two bites later, and well, one is somewhere painful, the other is somewhere less painful - hell, that's what Bud Light is for I guess...

The fireworks, well they were fireworks - but the best part of the day is explained above in pictures - I have never - and I mean never, in my entire thirty-six years of existence, built a monstrosity of a sand castle, and then, with a cold cooler full of beer sit and watch as the tide took it away - the whole time listening to Feist "I feel it all" - crying. It was an amazing sort of feeling -my son asked me what was wrong - and the thing was, that nothing, I mean nothing was wrong, short of missing company...
So much of what we do in our day to day lives is just another scoop full of sand - we all get compliments, and feel good when folks say that's nice - but what happens when we leave - does a wave of anything come and make it clean, smooth sand again as if nothing was ever there - as if we just built a castle knowing that is was not permanent and would be carried away to some other tidal pool, or to be included in someone else's castle -
I am building a life out of bricks, and right now, I am scared to death that it is going to be much harder to tear down - that's why the sandcastle touched me the way it did - it is hard work to build and watch it go away -
Happy Fourth - I can't wait until July 7th so I can celebrate my Independence Day....

Independence Day...

I wonder if the revoloutionaries had separation anxiety - do you really think, as we start to celebrate this day of Independence, that they had the ability to wonder what would happen - with England so far away, if they ever had to always be apart, always not be close together, always not be allies -

The last thing I have had on my mind these past couple of days is independence - that's odd for me - I am more (as anyone will tell you) alone with people than I am by myself in moments of simple review of the day or reading a book - don't get me wrong here, I love the company, I love being a cheerleader sometimes, I love making people smile - but that's what I get paid to do - and a part of me wants to do that - but for me, a quiet afternoon, or a great rock concert, or a walk along the sound, or a pancake breakfast with a friend - those are what make what I do worthwhile -

Independence is odd in today's world - there are very few of us who are strong enough to be by ourselves - and that is what makes travelling difficult for me - the past year has been one of new found friendship and exciting time - all of it - even the bad things are tempered by the fact that things are not the same inside of me - I have been able to be independent and still tethered to the ground.

Tomorrow there will be fireworks and celebration and laughing and picnics and families - and really, all I can think about is what is going to happen when I am independent - I am trying not to go down that road - so I will not - but it is hard to keep that dark cloud from dampening all of the reds, greens, whites, and sparkly yellows that I see and feel whenever I think of the past year of my life.

It's funny - I want to celebrate my Independance Day on July 7th - I want to celebrate with my fireworks - my spark, the thing that keeps my eyes lit up like a ten year old running through the yard with sparklers. I want to celebrate with the cool drink and hot sun that warms my skin and quenches my thirst, I want to smile and laugh with Chef Boyardee and Diet Doctor Pepper and cookies and Vanilla Swiss Almond - and celebrate my new found ability to feel again - not just feel dependent on the future or on things to come, but to know that I do have the ability to think and live Independently within myself, and to be able to share and feel that Independence from time to time.

Here's to the brave men and women who continue to give us our independence every day in the line of fire, and here's to all of their families - their sacrifices make it easy for me to feel free - and finally - here's to the Rythm that I hear and feel and see - Fireworks have nothing on that.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Gas Works

It's 3:00 AM here, it's midnight over there, but for me it will always be about four o' clock in the afternoon - that's where I have been over and over tonight - dreaming about the gas works.

You really have to want to go there to get there, it is not something that most tourists would be able to find, you pull through the eccentric shops and bars of Ballard, down narrow old streets that are better suited to bicycles and walking, over old and abandoned ribbons of railroad tracks - sheltered from the sun by strings of streetcar wires overhead, and three story brick buildings that are mostly tiny enclaves of various cultures - then you pull off, and down the hill you go - the parking lot is relatively small, but you can just see the tops of old refinery tanks (if that is what they were), brown and rusty - and you wonder if this is really the beautiful park that all of the travel guides talk about.

Hoola hoops, and chinese kite flyers, and half stoned college students are mixed in with families with their small children, ladies in bikinis, and men taking advantage of a sunny Seattle day armed with cameras and zoom lenses.

I slept on that hill overlooking the Sound, the towers and prisms of downtown just four miles away as the crow flies, but far enough away that the sound of the traffic is drowned out, the only noise are those associated with relaxtion and peace - it is as if everyone who enters this monument to progress and change is instantly transformed to a world of things past - and lets go of things to come.

I did that, I let go of things to come, for that time that I was on the hill, that is all there was, a Friday afternoon, in a new, calm place that beckoned me to rest. Feel the sun on my back, feel the breeze through my hair, and sleep for that short time and enjoy the minutes by resting.

Sleep is not coming so easy now - I wake up after replaying that dream in my head, an endless loop of memory stuck somewhere in between that park and this night - sleeplessness has set back in, and the short bursts of rest that I do get are there, in the gas works, on that hill overlooking a blue sky and the glass water of Seattle.

This night I want to go back to gas works, and sleep on that hill, and forget about the darkness in between the stars for just a little while that seems to have crept into my thoughts - and just count the stars, and the laughs, and just be there. Sleep perchance to dream...

Summertime Memories

Being in Washington D.C. brought back some odd memories that I had filed away in some dusty portion of my brain where the cells go to die from lack of use and poor recall - the fireflies were what did it - I remember those long runs with my stepdad in the dusk, it was just too hot to run during the day, and when he was home, we always went for a run together - just quiet runs. It was a new neighborhood in Virginia Beach, and only half of the subdivision road around the lake was completely paved, we would run in the limestone road cover, and through the dust, guided along by the fireflies who blinked in the scrub surrounding the sides of the trail. It was a new experience for me, those summers - it was only the second time I had ever been out of Florida - I went to New Orleans when I was two, but that is just a fabricated quilt of memories that have been planted there by stories and photographs - I remember my first real summer trip - we left Florida, and we broke my stepdads watch taking a short cut through the minigolf at the camping ground - we drove through the Blue Ridge Mountains pulling a 1950 pop up trailer that was a beautiful lime green, and was patched with used blue jeans worn out by my numerous step aunts and uncles - we camped in Georgia, went to my first major league baseball game, caught my first fish, had my first camp fire, we drove through more states than I knew existed - I read about them, I knew the names of them, but to me, they were nothing more than questions on a geography test in school - that year we went from Florida to Michigan, and camped on the shores of the lake, and eventually settled down in South Philadelphia. A long way from home for a little redneck southern kid who sat on the bus every morning with his grandmother (who owned ten school buses) and spent Sunday afternoons at the church potluck.

Now, my children have officially spent their first day at home since summer has started, and I kind of feel sad about the way the world has changed - before my stepdad, we were working poor - a two bedroom apartment, one piece of shit car, hand me down clothes, and more religion than you can speak of, but it was good. I remember getting up early, putting on a pair of cut off shorts, and trying to be the first one out to get to the bike (there were three boys and one bike, and the one who got up earliest, got the bike) - there was a fountain in the middle of our apartment complex that had long since been emptied by a crack like a scar through the middle - and that's where all of us little whitetrash kids, and little black children, and the one chinese kid would spend our summers - inside the fountain playing with matchbox cars, stickball, looking for lizard eggs, herding ants, and occassionally scoring the fireworks to blow up army men. It was a new world - and one my kids have never experienced - we played with sticks - I mean literally, we would use sticks for everything - they were swords, they were tee-pee supports, they were machine guns, and staffs to use for our adventurous hikes through the old pro shop (it burned the next summer - most assuredly from one of the many kids playing with matches and sifting through the dirty magazines that were left there by the older kids). I remember running away from my dad's plumbing truck - that's what we were supposed to do because mom said we would go to jail and only after we had a suitable spanking. We did not know any better - that's the way we lived. There was no time out, no conversation, no discussion - if you embarrassed, cursed, spoke out of turn, talked back, or did not listen - you got spanked - and you knew what a spanking was. I remember vacation bible school and church camp - the swimming pool was the shape of a cross, and the water was never blue - it was always green - but the preacher figured that god was handling cleaning the water (I suppose) was hot, and I can remember being sticky and the three boys laying on the floor with nothing but a sheet and a cheap Pic-N-Save box fan blowing cool damp summer night air over us - those are the memories that I have of my early summers - not too many baseball games, never an amusement park, no skills camps, no tutoring in french, not much of nothing but hot Florida sun, and dust, and simple childhood.

This summer has been a dream - twenty days in, and I have already had the chance to go to a baseball game, sit in the sun on the Puget Sound and fall asleep to the sound of seaplanes, walk through the Arlington Cemetary with my son to witness the changing of the guard, see the sun come up at six am and watch it go down at ten, taste the cool rain of a late Florida afternoon, feel the sun of a mild Northwestern sunny day...that's more than I ever did in ten years of summers-

One day home, and I, like my kids, know that it is summer, and am ready to go again, to find some empty fountain, play with some sticks, and just kick up some dust until the sun goes down.