Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What I am Thankful for...

Beth's Diner in Greenlake is a great place to stop in and have a six egg omlette dripping with cheese and ham and mushrooms - and to read the posts on the wall of the visitors that come in for just a tourist stop - this was my second visit - so I was now no longer a tourist - I was a real customer - but this little napkin, this close to Thanksgiving - it kind of plucked at me like that out of key piano note that you hear - it reminded me of a year ago - and begged the question - "What has changed since then and now - and why does this napkin seem so foreign - even if I felt exactly the same way a year ago..."

Last Thanksgiving, well, that was another post, but last Thanksgiving sucked.  It sucked for my family, my children, my in-laws, my ex-wife - it just plain out and out sucked - it sucked from the things that I and others had done - and thank god, that was last Thanksgiving - granted, this year will be a little different, but enough water has toppled over the levy to clear away enough of the debris left, the flood of bad things that came last season washed up enough silt and nutrients to start new traditions and a little bit of growth...

There are several things that I am happy that I have - all of which are temporary, fleeting, but they are here today - and that is what counts -

This Thanksgiving:

1.  I am thankful for friends like Aaron and Mike - they listen - and like the song says, there is no need to put quotations around the word friend - whether it is talking about how to proceed with my career, or what to do about some situation, or just pissing off the balcony at three am in between drunken song writing sessions - they actually care - and I am thankful that they do.

2.   I am thankful for our children - these two little things that Christy and I made together are enough to remind me that I do unpleasant things for a reason - I get up, I go to work, I clean the house, I discipline, I rearrange the schedule- just to be able to get the joy that they feel and to give them as much of me as they deserve.  This past year, I am thankful that I have grown and learned into being a real father - and not just a resident.  To see them smile, laugh, talk, cry, and just love - I am thankful for that.

3.  I am thankful for my parents - all four of them - each of them has a different take on life, and the pursuits that I dance around with - but all of them have always given me every opportunity to succeed and have always been there behind me just in case things got a little slippery.  It took this past year to realize that - again, I am thankful that I have.

4.  I am thankful for my health - even though I shovel Pirate Booty and Coors Light into my pudgy frame a little too frequently, there are things out there that can kill you even when you take every minute to be a little more cautious - I am thankful that I have been able to preserve what health I have.

5.  I am thankful for my job - as much as I bitch and moan about it - how many people today get to say that they set a plan out for themselves, worked to that plan - and had a company with the patience and compassion to not only let me grow into the work, but designed work that fit me.  I get paid to do what I love to do - and that is a blessing.

6.  I am thankful to live in the United States.  This country may not be the most liberal country in the world, nor does it have the best health care or the best legal system and, granted, we have some issues with wealth distribution across the lines - but in all reality, none of us would be reading this sentence in some other countries that are out there - and I certainly could not afford a laptop or wireless connections with the tax rates that other industrialized nations have...

7.  I am thankful that all I had to worry about this morning was my timesheet - I did not have to get water, did not have to worry if my kids were safe, did not have to think about how I was going to put food on the table - I consider myself lucky.

8.  I am thankful to have a companion - who knows where that road is going to wander to - but I know that it is nice to have someone to talk with that understands the porridge in my brains - I like that.

Most of all - I am thankful that things are calming down a bit.  It has taken a year to get to a place where I can look back at my actions - and say to anyone who cares to ask - I am not always the best person, and do not always make the best decisions - but I can assure you that none of my actions were ever intentionally designed to make anyone else feel like less of a person - they were selfish, sometimes ridiculous, and perhaps a bit immature - but they happened.  If for no other reason, I am thankful to have had the opportunity to learn a little bit more about myself through those moments.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone - go enjoy your families, friends, or whatever - and the minute you don't think you have anything to be thankful for - just shoot me an email, and I will help you pick a few out.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Something in the way she moves...

Yesterday morning was a rough one, I took this picture sometime Thursday evening, after I had shut down the computer for the day, turned on the Band of Horses CD, and waited for Aaron to show up with the Banjo and Guitar - needless to say, he showed up, we polished off, and I woke up Friday morning in a little bit of pain - but miraculously was able to get through a full day of work including a few conference calls and some hard core number crunching - Thursdays are made for ruining Fridays...and I held true to that - but yesterday afternoon, things got exceedingly better, I picked up the two chuckleheads, and we went and did the obligatory grocery, complete with enough food to last a year - even though I won't be back to the apartment for three weeks come Monday...

This morning I woke up early - not uncommon on these weekends, my daughter and I both fell asleep watching the Wizard of Oz, and my son had wandered off to watch Dirty Jobs - I woke up around 2:00 AM to find him half on the bed, half on the giant red bean bag chair with his glasses hanging precariously off of his head - I shut the television off, moved him into bed, and after a few very tall glasses of cold water, got back in bed - my daughter had rearranged so I ended up sleeping on the last fourteen inches of space (this may sound like alot - but it's not) -

Anyway, I woke up this morning to the two of them playing Beatles Rock Band - it is a nice sound to hear And Your Bird Can Sing at eight am - with the two of them giggling about their inability to move their fingers fast enough - they were eating Ritz crackers (and they knew that we would be at Starbucks before nine am - so the first thing I heard as soon as they saw me was - Let's go to Starbucks Butthorns!)  My son, just a few minutes ago, was singing Something in the Way She Moves - and I was prompted to sit down and type on this thing - we are on our way to a busy day of Soccer and St. Augustine, but hearing an eleven year old voice that has not been beaten down by years of smoking or excessive abuse - that was a catalyst - there is something about watching him sing and enjoy and close his eyes and tilt his head slightly, and say "Something in the way she moves...." that is a great motivator - many people who read this thing don't have children - and me, admittedly, have not been the best Dad in the world in the past few years - but spending more time, taking a few minutes, and letting them be with me when they are with me - seems to be paying off - and the good feelings I get from their growth and smiles and tears and innocence is wonderful.  I am spending more time with them than I have in a long time - and I like it - I always was a little reserved in the past - afraid that I was screwing them up, making them a little crazy, but the fact remains that they are happy, well rounded, and honest - and best of all - they are not afraid of what they are going to get - they know they are going to get a Dad who loves them, and who wants their time and the truth.

Getting to a place where you are comfortable with your own children is a difficult thing to learn - you see I was never really allowed or strong and independent enough to do things the way I saw fit - there was always a question of my ability to parent - I heard it every weekend, every day, and got the looks and the chiding - it was not the right way or the best way or the proper way - and after a while of that - it becomes hard to do anything - it is just easier to follow, and hold their hands when they want you to, and speak when spoken to.   In between Cherry's constant concern, and Christy's constant harrassment about my parenting style (and the never ending conversations between the two of them) - I was not really sure which way to go.  Now, I am pretty sure that I was doing the right thing by just being with them, and I was doing the wrong thing by listening and questioning whether I was good to them -

Seeing them now, and their confidence and smiles, speaks volumes to the parenting that they receive - I see them quite a bit - they are in my house at least ten days a month (significantly more than when I was married - when you hated going home, for any reason, it was easier to ignore) - and over the next couple of months, it is going to be about 50% of the time that I get to wake them up, get them ready for school, pick them up, help with homework, fold their clothes, cook their meals, and most of all, enjoy being their father.  There is nothing in the world better than that -

It does not come with challenges - and I can see in both Gabe and Gray the tweens are starting to set in, and the peace symbols and funky haircuts and wierd hats are starting to come out, along with the tempermental mood swings - but they still want affirmation that they are okay, that things are going to be okay.  I think I can provide that to them - when they are sad or sick or just feeling a little less than zero -

I never knew what it was to be a father until this past year - I never took the time to get out of my head, and into their world - a playful, open, and honest world of raising young strong people who know how to love, how to be a little less critical of things, how to openly explore and be safe.  Much of their personalities comes from Christy - their steadfastness, their approval seeking nature, their temperance, but a good portion of their lust for life comes from me - and I want them to foster that seeker in them, and know that what they are looking for is generally right around the next corner, you just have to be brave enough to keep walking instead of resting and waiting for it to come to you.

Thursday nights are certainly made for ruining Friday mornings, but Friday afternoons at the bus stop or at the pickup line - those days are good days filled with good things...

Until next time...


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I don't like it too slow...

You know, when you have been moving 200 miles per hour for a long time, and things are a blur of paperwork and spreadsheets and coffee and deadlines - it is really hard to get things back into a normal state of affairs when you get back to the forty hour work week - today, I was compelled to re-organize my emails - they looked like my laundry basket - just old dirty emails piled up in the in box, needing to be cleaned, folded, and put away - I looked over endless numbers of 3x5 cards that had notes on them, spent three hours in a conference room organizing my calendar, trying to figure out if Canadian holidays are close to American holidays, spent an hour or two following up on long lost emails, and spent another thirty minutes determining if I should change my flight to six am tomorrow morning, or to stick with Friday morning - indecisiveness sets in pretty good when you go back to doing the normal work schedule, the normal routine, the normal stuff - I don't think I was really built to do normal stuff - either that, or my brain has re-wired itself to misfire when I have to sit around and think about things without having anything beating on me to finish it in an hour, or get it done....I think that is probably the case, I have to somehow teach my brains to work a little differently, maybe fire on different cylinders, or at least fire on a few less (kind of like that new GM thing when you are cruising down the highway, it shuts down two of the cylinders and you just drive on four - why I know that, I have no earthly idea, but I do, and I keep it saved up in my slowly fading memory)...

I tried to convince myself to go down to the gym tonight - but felt a little safer in the hotel room, I was looking forward to some room service, and finalizing the holiday calendar with the ex - now I know why my parents were always stressed out around the holidays - not only did they have to deal with having less money, but they also had to deal with figuring out how the hell to magically teleport children to places that are supposed to feel like home for the holidays...

I reckon that is going to be the hardest thing this year - last year's holidays- well, they sucked - for four people - all of us affected by our own behavior, and some affected by just mine - but they sucked.  Thanksgiving I got to sleep on a couch next to a couch where a homeless guy was sleeping, and Christmas, I got to borrow the house for a few hours in between the different families visiting and making their way through my place.  Funny thing, my place- it is still half my place - and it holds quite a few good Christmas memories - the gifts on the mantle, the half eaten reindeer snacks, opening gifts in the den - fast and furious - just like I like things -

Yeah, I am not too good when I am not under some sort of pressure - not too good when I cannot figure out how to keep the quiet from becoming a little too quiet - and not too good at keeping focused when there are not enough bright lights and stress bouncing off around me - returning to a 40 hour work week - man, I just don't know how to handle that - in the past, there was plenty of Coors Light and streetlamps to visit - but that just got me into trouble, now, I go through several other things to give me something to do:

1.  I walk the halls of the hotel around 10:00 PM collecting all of the the little unused condiment bottles off of the room service trays - not only does it make sure that TSA will sort through my bag, but just imagine how much I have saved on mustard, catsup, and little tiny jars of sweet relish.

2.  I clean my hotel room.  Yup - I actually clean my hotel room.  I mean not like just a straighten it up - I make sure it looks like housekeeping just came in and cleaned it.  Stupid - but I leave the do not disturb sign on my door intentionally to occupy a little bit of time in the evenings.

3.  I watch French Television.  I cannot speak a lick of French, but I can watch French Television.

4.  I see how many sit ups I can do before my back begins to spasm.  Lately, not too many.

5.  I play that stupid damn game Mafia Wars on Facebook.  Why, I am not quite sure - perhaps it is the fact that my facebook mafia wars bank account has billions of dollars in it, or perhaps, it gets really old listening to the air conditioner in the room cycle on and off.

6.  I write a blog.  Some of them less notable than others (you are reading one of those, but thanks for your persistance)

7.  I empty out my briefcase and count how much change I have.  Yesterday, I had close to eight dollars in Canadian and US Currency tucked safely away in my man purse. (About two dollars of it had congealed together with some sticky residue of chewing gum that had escaped its wrappers....)

8.  I read really boring books.  Right now, I am reading The End of Food- and although a long arduous and tedious book - it really is good to know that most of the food I eat is randomly being sprinkled with E Coli and hormones that will give me tits. (That would give me something else to do...)

9.  I try and figure out who is actually reading this damn blog - I have one of those nifty site meters that gives me the IP address of the visitors, and short of folks from Dallas, Omaha, Ponte Vedra, a few from Bothell, a couple from Edmonds, and the occassional "LOCATION UNKNOWN" - it is pretty interesting to see who is reading it, why they are reading it, and when they are reading it.  You know what is even cooler (for a computer challenged idiot like me) is that when it is forwarded - you even can get remotely close to the email text that forwarded it sometimes....very very interesting...

10.  Most of all, I just think.  I think of the kids, and of the future, the past, I think of many things - sometimes they put me to sleep, sometimes the thoughts send me downstairs for a single serve (I hate single servings) of Nyquil, sometimes, they just make the quiet loud enough for me to feel uneasy enough to make a few promises that tomorrow I will do something just a little better...

Maybe that's what the quiet is for, and if my brain could get used to it, perhaps I could too....

Until next time -


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Big Easy, revisited...

I have been to New Orleans several times throughout my life - I remember as a baby going over the old Lake Bridge - with the water lapping from the Ponchatrain at the sides of the railing, an angry brown soup spilling over the white concrete - that bridge is gone now, but I went back again a couple of times in college, driving down the street right behind a Mardi Gras parade with the sun roof open, then again on my honeymoon for a day with Uncle Jugo, and to go by the trailer to visit my Papa and Mama proud with my new bride, again I went when Papa died, and we put him to rest in a simple grave in St. Bernard - I went with my friends after ten years of marriage to celebrate with them, to enjoy New Orleans and the debauchery it had to offer, and after I lost my job in Kansas City - as a much needed break from a hectic forced move and multiple months of separation - and most recently, I went three days after the divorce was finalized, with a new love, looking for a new place, maybe a new start - and I found what I was looking for - I found what New Orleans has always been good for - a new start, a new feeling of being, a refreshing and tiring dip in the well of the best and worst that humans have to offer -

We stood together in Jackson Square, and looked at the cathedral - we went inside and lit votives for those and said our simple agnostic prayers - quietly - we knelt in our pew, we stared at what man has to look for in trying to find something deeper and majestic in that cathedral.  We sat on a rickety street car, and strolled through the garden district, picked up pieces of slate older than we were, pieces of sidewalks that had been worn smooth by millions of feet for hundreds of years.  We went into the resting place of my family, and we cried and remembered, and respected those who had come before us, and those who would come after us.  We sat in Sing Sing and listened the music of the band play loud and simple, just pure music and smiles.  We watched the college kids locked in a kiss have a hard time keep their liquor love from shining through.  We sat and watched the oracle flip tarot cards and read our future, me, the death card - the fear of change - prevalent right behind the Prince of Pentacles - he said something that I did not quite hear in my booze enhanced awe, but we listened and giggled and asked our questions.  We bought miniature gumball machines and beignet boxes, and moved from bar to bar seeking out a darker, louder music venue, and stayed away from those well lit daiquiri joints that took over after Katrina.  We sat and ate pastry and had strong coffee with chickory ast the Natchez played the steam organ in the background.  We got lost amidst the quarter, weaving down the side streets, hiding with those folks who did not want to be noticed, who wanted to be lost and inebriated in everything that old city has to offer.

Knowing why that city has always beckoned me to come, invited me to get lost somewhere in its streets, not fully understanding why it is what it is to me has been difficult - the woman in the picture above said something to me, she noticed, and it made sense, "When you are looking - you are looking for this - I can see it" - and she is right - there is no place like New Orleans.  There is no other place to be when you are there - it has its drawbacks, it has its problems, but it is New Orleans - and the mystic that fills that town, the voodoo, catholic filled energy, the people, the lust for life or death or whatever - that city fills me with what I search for when I stumble down the streets of downtown Seattle, Portland, Kansas City,St. Louis, where ever - when you have a feeling that you belong - you just have a feeling that you belong.

This weekend was the Big Easy - the hardest parts are done.  There are going to be more difficult parts ahead - there are going to be tough choices and the need to decide.  There are still difficult emotions to work through and push through and come to some conclusion with- but the Big Easy was just what it needed to be - a beautiful woman on my arm, a smile and a dance, some blues, and some piece of mind that there is a place where I do belong - and someone that I belong with -

The city has not lost its charm and draw to me after this many years, and I was lucky enough to share that this week with someone who I hope enjoyed it - and was able to breathe in what I am - a little run down, a little extreme, a little charming, a little confusing - but full of love for what it is that makes me -

I am going back to New Orleans - not to mark any other occassion - but because that place is a place I love - and there is no sense in staying away from those things that you love.

Until next time.


Shitty Endings and Blues Music....

St. Roch #1 is in a pretty shitty area of New Orleans - it is about two blocks down St. Roch Street, just off of Claiborne Street - deep in the heart of the part of New Orleans that was not very dry, not very sage, and not very happy during Katrina - but it is also where my real grandmother is buried - in one of those mystic New Orleans graveyards that have old Cajun and German and French names, where the Jewish and Catholic and Lutherans and Baptist all get interred above ground - only to have their bones crushed and compacted in a few years to add another one to the family grandmother comes from the Heckmann line- there is not really too much about them in New Orleans history - a typical family, with a typical history, and some blood from Kenner to St. Bernard, and just about everywhere else.  I don't know much about this part of my life, except to say that she died when my Dad was five or six years old of Tuberculosis, if I remember correctly, in the St. James Infirmary, but my Dad would know better than I would - we talked after I placed some new flowers, and swept off the dust, and rearranged some of the plants that had died or dried up - I am sure my PaPa (prounced Paw Paw) would have been proud of me, and I know that my Dad probably called Uncle Freddy and let him know that little George stopped and gave Milieu a kiss...

New Orleans is a great place to start over or to just end up - there were plenty of folks doing a little bit of both - some were obviously not going anywhere else - they just ended up there, and had nothing on their plate except to eventually die a pauper somewhere in the quarter or holed up in a shit smelling alley - those folks mingled in with those who were there to breathe in excess in every shape of the word - and New Orleans unabashedly provides both - you can go there to die - nobody cares, and you can go there to live without fear of reprisal - nobody cares - family runs deep in New Orleans - and always will - I am glad that this is part of my heritage, and I am glad that I went back to see it.

I have been thinking of places to establish a residence - places far away from Jacksonville, but close enough that I can get back to see Soccer Games and Dad/Daughter Dances - and New Orleans would not be too bad of a choice.  I could rent some second floor apartment in one of the older buildings in the CBD - it would not be too much, and would be enough for me to have a place to be away from a town that I have grown to hate.  Let me rephrase that, I don't necessarily hate Jacksonville- I hate the circle that I used to run in - why - because that is what they are - and all they will ever be - and I chose to be a part of that - I actually aspired to be highly thought of in that circle - and to my surprise, it would have taken a hell of alot more to break in, but better yet, it took a hell of alot less to be free of it...

My ex-wife sent an apology card to Cadence this week- that's the Jacksonville I know - where you shit on people, you talk behind their backs, you carry on as if God granted you immunity for transgressions, and you follow it up with a bullshit apology.  I have had just about enough lip service from those folks as I can take, and the best thing about New Orleans - is that they don't care - they will tell you that you are an idiot - but will also let you know that they sing the blues for was nice to be asked where I was from, and why i drove down into the quarter - that city holds a true personality for me - it is made up of good people - mostly poor, many undereducated, but for the most part, overwhelmingly good.  I wish Jacksonville could say the same...

Why so down on Jacksonville - last week was a shitty ending to a pretty shitty marriage.  I used to say that we were the only ones of Christy's friends that survived - and now I know I was lying - Christy and her friends are the only ones who survived - they surrounded themselves with their walled in communities and private school functions and Daddy is going to save me - and let their mothers convince them that they were good and wholesome - I was just a vehicle for that - and apparently, according to my ex, pretty anatomically challenged - (hell, I guess I should tell the story, I find it pretty funny now, and hey, it's true!)

So the daughter was running a fever - and I don't know about you other fathers out there who spend more time on the road than you did a home (not a pleasant commentary - I know I missed a lot more than I should have as a Dad, but I am trying to make up for lost time - the only good piece of advice my father-in-law ever gave me was that life is not a dress rehearsal - so I use that sometimes, and try to make up for past transgressions...)  Well, anyway, 102 degrees, complaining of a headache, and with the son just having the H1N1, and my daughter bawling, I called - and she talked, but somewhere in between beer number three or four - she hung up on her - and my daughter could not understand it - so I tried back - and after the third time, sent a text that would get her attention - and it did'nt  -not until 11:15 - and that's when the fun really began.

I get this call - and was on speakerphone, while she and her friends laughed and caroused at making me the ass of their jokes - it was a simple enough prank - shallow, empty, and pretty well thought of considering the group of folks it came from - it was like being back in high school - I had just signed the papers - was dealing pretty well with my day, and BAM - she and her Jax buddies thought it would be fun to gig me a few times - I give them an A for effort, but certainly, they win the "Talk Out of Both Side of Your Mouth Award" and the empty wishes of "I just want you to get to a happy place" seem to waft above the room like a stale boiled peanut fart (for those of you who have not experienced one of these, please do it by yourself...) - but that was not a big deal - I sent the obligatory emails to the attorneys, the parents, the friends - you see, I never put anyone's business in the streets - and I really don't have too much of a problem with mine being out there - but after Tuesday night, the revolving door zipper joke that I heard in Starbucks about my ex - or the jokes about Cougars on Prowl - looking for horsemeat, or the lack of appetite, or whatever became fair game - now I am taking the high road here - I could go into more detail - but refrain, for the sake of dragging up stupid shit that is not worth blogging about...

So the best part - we have a two hour Skype conference call with the girl that I am seeing now, and for once, for just a brief instant, it was nice to have someone else listen to the inane craziness that I listened to for twenty years - sure, I have made an ass out of myself - many times, and most times I am a little ashamed of it, a little embarrassed - but I have never lied about it - what you see is what you get - but now the reality of the situation is out there - I meant it when I said I have nothing to hide - but some people do - and cannot stay behind that veil of perfection and blame forever.  It was nice to get that closure, just simple, pure victory in a battle where no one really wins - you just try to walk off the battlefield with a little bit of dignity and at least an ounce of respect for yourself...glad to say that through all of this - I gained more dignity and a hell of an amount of respect - the truth will set you free - hell, I would go into everything that was said on the call - but the best part had to be...

Well, I will let you guess what was said - it is probably better that way - on to my next post...New Orleans and New Beginnings..

Until then -


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Okay, so I have earned 1.38 thus far...

And I just went on ebay, and although there are several things that I can buy for a 1.38, I would prefer that a few of you interested readers and followers click on one or two of the links - you don't actually have to buy anything, but clicking on them tells me that I may get a check by December for $100 - and that would make me feel about as an accomplished an author as I suspect I ever may...

Shameless plug for begging for clicks...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Turn out the lights...and lawyers

So that is what you do when you get divorced in Duval County - you walk through these doors - you go through a metal detector, next to the folks who reek of alcohol and benders before they go before the judge and are escorted into custody, you go up an elevator to the fifth floor, and you sit on a church pew in a well lit hallway until they call your name and tell you they are ready (this was ex-parte, so maybe there are differences)

You watch the old boys clubs of lawyers discuss their trips to Paris, and their hard walks up the five flights of stairs, and you get to see their southern charm plaid socks and eccentric bowties that make them a little more scholarly, but most of all, I saw a racket - I mean these folks sit across the table from each other, they demean the folks who pay their bills, and then they smile and shake hands and move on.  I did not quite understand that until today - these folks are just like the boys at the auto repair shop sharing stories about weekend escapades - they may not like each other, but they work together just about every day - and under the guise of representing their client, they keep a sheen of civility that can only be understood bu those schooled in latin, and prepared to do mental battle at an old conference room table.  My respect was increased for these folks, until of course, opposing counsel thought it appropriate to say "Congratulations" - what a jackass - that's like saying "let's party" at a funeral - what the hell was that supposed to mean - congratulations for a twenty year relationship ending in divorce was the true measure of what the past twenty years were about - petty, insensitive, and ill thought comments with little or no value, other than to boost and prop up an image that really, when push came to shove, was window dressing on a litter box.  You can tell I am struggling a little bit with that one - but hell, it is done, and with the exception of having to occassionally go over the house and beg the ex to try and keep the yard looking like folks actually live there - I think things are where they are supposed to be.  I just was barraged by a string of lawyer jokes - and the reason there are so many, is because they are true.  I agree that diplomacy works, but to some degree the shmarmy ass-sucking brand of Southern Diplomacy I ran into today, well, Go Gators!

Now this is the hallway I am talking about - you sit here - and you wait for the Oz to come through the door - and grant you your way home...or a heart, or courage, or a brain...but odds are, that may not happen.  Everyone is belittled in that hallway - while I was sitting there, and you can see it - this is probably the aisle that folks should have to walk down - not the decorated celebratory aisle in some church or rented hall - no party afterwards that could have paid for a house or some student loan debt - just two folks walking down a cheaply government furnished aisle with pews facing them on the sides, and then they enter into this door - and they get the following speech:

1.  You are about to get married.  Odds are, you have about a 30% chance of survival as a married couple.  Think about this, think really really hard, and then wonder if you are going to be the lucky 1 in 3 that stays married until you die.

2.  All of those little nice things that you think are quirky now - well they will annoy the living shit out of you in about seven years.  I mean teeth grating, knees on asphalt types of annoyance.  If you have not discussed this, then turn around, and try living together with no soap and toothpaste for a while.

3.  You may think you two are the only ones getting married.  Wrong.  You are going to inherit a world of folks - many of whom you cannot currently stand, and have very little respect for.  If this is the case, go work out these issues, and if you can't - let's do this when you can.

4.  You will be lied to, stolen from, lambasted, belittled, ridiculed, and all of the other words ending in "ed" - sure, none may be as painful as beatings or adultery or whatever, but after your spouse gains 80 pounds, stops being attracted to you, prefers beer and pretzels and soft core porn, and makes sure everyone knows what an ass you have become - then you will get my drift.

5.  Bodily fluids are a part of life.  Get used to them being everywhere.

6.  Go clean a house together.  If you cannot see doing that every week - together - then you may want to start over.

7.  Love does not conquer all.  Love masks many things - if you have not confronted the garbage and skeletons - don't worry - they will come back around.

If then, and only then, folks can get through these things - and of course this should be taught by a couple of divorcees - then after the pre-nup is signed - and you pre-arrange visitation for your yet to be born children - then they should be allowed to take a razor blade to their palms - and should have to - and become blood.

That way there is some assurance that marriage is no longer as easy as it is - and divorce, well perhaps it would be less common...

I can say that I have learned alot in the past twenty years, but this past year has been the biggest learning experience for me - there are many different worlds out there - and different points of view - but when push comes to shove - there is really only one perception that matters to any of us - and that is what makes the difference between the 1 that succeeds, and the other 2 that were sitting with me in that hallway today.

Go with Peace and Prosperity...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Single serving cups and paper plates...

I like eating off of paper plates.  I like drinking out of paper cups.  It has nothing, and I mean nothing to do with my inherant laziness and aversion to washing dishes, it is just comforting and cathartic to eat a soupy mess of mashed potatoes off of a paper plate - the plate soaks up the flavor, and if you take long enough to eat your meal, by the time you are done, you can actually eat the paper plate, it has become one with the gravy, and the designs have been merged into the mashed potatoes - I know that this may not be considered normal human behavior, but anymore, after seeing a grown man in a speedo in 45 degree weather dressed up as Michael "Bongwater" Phelps, normal human behavior and its definition escapes me. 

Now I do not like single serving cups - they have these new coffee makers where you stick a plastic cartridge into the top, and it spits and coughs like a cat ridding itself of a furball, and out comes the coffee - I like the idea of putting way too many grinds into the top of the machine, and making a 12 cup pot, and then either 1) drinking all of it, or 2) watching the level slowly burn down into a spread for toast.  I have never liked single serve anything - I mean even at sporting events, they allow you to buy TWO beers per identification - so why would they make single serve stuff - don't they know that we are Americans, and one of anything is just never enough to fill our need to have something to do with both hands...speaking of which, my single serve coffee is now empty, so I am going to have to take a break and go listen to the coffee maker, perhaps it will give me just the break I need to make this post have some sort of sense to it...

So, here we are - now that break may not have seemed like much to you, but to me, I had to go into the kitchen, put the cartridge into the machine, select the blinking blue light the corresponded most closely to the container that I was placing under the coffee maker, ensure that the lid was properly sealed, and then listen to it spit out coffee.  It is not an appetizing brings beer and hot wings to mind...not eating them mind you, but what happens the next day...

I blew off Mass this morning with the parents and great-grandparents - I know my mom would love for me to start going to church again, any church, just so long as it has to do with the little baby Jesus, but I just cannot seem to get myself in those places.  These days, the only time I am in the church is for funerals - there are not too many of my friends getting married (well, maybe re-married, but those usually take place in Cancun or Vegas in a $90 ceremony followed by a $20,000 beer bash and cookout from Fat Joe's Traveling Musicians and Barbeque) and did I mention funerals.  There is enough church on television for me - I have some friends who go to a new church, and they actually watch the sermon on big television monitors being beamed in live from the mothership somewhere in this great United States - I say why go through the hassle - just send in your envelope every month, and click on a channel sometime before 10:00 am on a Sunday morning - VOILA - instant kharma.  You can even drink coffee when you watch it at home.  Sometimes I wish they televise funerals the same way - I hate funerals - I hate saying goodbye and paying respects - those things are meant for when you are alive, and if you can't be there then - there is no sense in being there when the person is gone - I think I have talked about this in great detail in past posts- hello's and the excitement of seeing someone is always followed by a goodbye - always - and those two balance each other - that is what they are designed to do - the minute you stop with the goodbyes, odds are you are dead too - so you should probably look forward to them just as much as you do the rest of the stuff beforehand.  I never was one to spend a large amount of time getting emotionally connected to a large group of people - sort of a single serving kind of person when it came to those sorts of relationships- what you see is what you get - at work, it is defined as "rough around the edges", at school it was "get it done, let's move on", in family "that is why we invite George over" - I mean I go through the normal exchanges of proper manners, and cleaning up after myself - but when I am done with whatever may be happening around me, I get up, I go, I just have had enough of that coffee pot, and prefer to come back to it a little bit later - well aware of the risk that it may have cooked down to a soupy thick black mess, but hell, if you add enough milk, you can still enjoy it.  Family events (or most events) take on new meaning when one of your goals is to get through them without downing half a bottle of Johnny Walker Black followed by a six pack of beer - used to be that is what I had to do to get around all of that stuff, now, it is what it is - and I tend to stray away from the liquor cabinet, and try to engage myself in the things that are going on around me - sometimes, the best comic relief in life is watching friends and family, listening to them, and dealing with the multiple servings of stories and events while waiting for your paper plate to congeal.  Then you head to the whiskey when they start talking about how things are going with you...

I guess I could share some of my social skills with you, these are all true mind you, and probably a good reason why I find myself repairing more relationships than building them, so you can take my advice and use these for either keeping people at a far enough distance that you don't really ever have to share with them, or you can not use them, and hope that some meaningful relationships develop - either way, it's your call -


1. "No, I can't go for a run, I pissed in my suitcase, and have to do my laundry" (Can't really say)

2.  "Well, the other day, I got a little bored, so I made love to the neighbors dog" (To my boss as he asked how things were going)

3.  "I intend to knock your daughter up as soon as I get the chance to get away for a few minutes"  (To my father in law as he drifted off to never never land after asking one of those questions you get out of a self-help book that is supposed to help you develop a relationship with your relatives)

4. "I stomached the first serving, and can't really see the odds being in my favor that I will make it through another one" (This was to the host that cooked the meal...not a good plan)

5.  "No officer, I peed on the kitchen floor because I really really really had to go - the other stuff, well, that was just a whim" (While repairing a few minor damages to my home after a late night)

6.  "Look Doc, I am not sure why my jaw is dislocated, but I am pretty sure it had something to do with me running my mouth and then my mouth running into a fist.  Did they teach this shit in medical school, or am I paying for counseling too" (That one is self explanatory)

7.  "Life is like a box of condoms - just because you have one, does not mean you are really experiencing them" (To my brother, the ordained minister)

8.  "I am not too sure if your kids really are okay." (To my sister, and my godchild)

9.  "No you are not getting heavier, the dress is just improperly sized and was probably made in Malaysia.  Everything is smaller in Malaysia.  I read that in a book somewhere." (To my ex-wife - note ex-wife - probably should have thought a little more before that one came out)

10.  "Sorry, I just can't stand losing to old people" (As I smashed my tennis racquet at Amelia Island on the tennis courts after being schooled by the in-laws)

11.  (Bonus) - "I belong to a social organization called HOBO - it's the Hookers and Blow Society, we do alot for neighborhoods with blight" (In response to a family friend guilting me for not going to more socially redeeming events)

You can use those if feel so inclined - and even typing them, I blush a little bit at the jackass I really became - hence the reason for me staying well clear of the wine rack during family events - or any event for that matter - but I can assure you, each comment you make will leave a lasting impression - and it sucks to think at 38 years old that I am just now getting the point that it is probably easier to not be such an ass, and try to be a little more of a team player.  I hate to think of it as selling out, and in some cases, early on, that is exactly what it felt like, but the reality is, when those thoughts come to my mind in the middle of a conversation, I just smile inwardly that I still have the ability to be a prick, but the maturity to know that if I want to be invited back, that I should probably go back over to the coffee maker, and listen to it sputter another single serving cup...

Let's all enjoy a sunny Sunday -