Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sandcastles and Yard Work...

Okay, so I was feeling a little tired, until the kids decided to stay awake until 10:00 on Sunday night, I could see it was going to be a long one after two long wonderful days together - they get worked up about Mondays - they get worked up about everything - they are nine  and twelve, and their energy level surpasses only that of a rabid hyena set for blood and preparing to raid some village of all of its newborns (I don't know where that analogy came from, except to say that after non-stop 110% energy, Sunday night seems like it should be that time when "winding down" is more natural than being ready to play Monopoly twenty minutes before Dad turns into an ogre and starts bitching about the chocolate chip ice cream that has become concrete on the linoleum floor - that sentence should provide some interesting auto ads that pop up to the right of this, I will have to check that one out...) 

We went to Mr. Aaron's beach on Saturday - we like Mr. Aaron's beach - there is always a parking space, and although Mickler's is certainly beautiful - it is usually about as crowded as a port a potty at a rock festival, and the folks there, well, they just don't seem to be that beachy anymore - in fact, they seem to be down right towny, and have found a good thing - note to folks who want a slower beach, with better food, and just as close (after factoring in the amount of time it takes to find a parking space and a clear area free of screaming children and those folks who think that going to the beach means bringing a screened enclosure complete with portable air conditioning and marking off their quadrant with enough beach towels to keep a sweatshop in India working on overdrive at Mickler's) you should head down to Anastasia Island - that is where the beaches are just as long and as beautiful as they are in Jacksonville Beach, but half as crowded, and twice as easy to get onto. 

One mudball at a time is how we build our sandcastles.  The mudballs come in three distinct sizes - one for my hands, one for my daughters hands, and one for my sons hands - we build them all day long - just adding onto them, digging a hole, taking a swim break, adding prisons and markets and bridges and towers and lakes - Saturday was no exception.  It was eighty four degrees, the breeze was blowing just hard enough to keep you from sweating, and the ocean is starting to get warm enough that you can actually enjoy it - I don't know what the draw of building these twenty foot long and three feet high sand thingys is - perhaps it is the way I get to hear my daughter dream and talk of her perfect house, with tennis courts and a place for kids to play where they can stay up late, or my son putting in his personal dojo for karate lessons - maybe it is the other kids who stop by for ten or fifteen minutes and gawk, or better yet, start digging - and soon, there are ten kids all building little castles one mudball at a time - my son is the fearless leader of those groups that show up - telling them there are simple rules - don't cave anything in, and you have to build it one handful at a time - no mass digging allowed - you have to place each handful of sand on the castle wall, and then, when you come back, it will be dry and sturdy and look like a real castle wall.  It is easy to build sandcastles with them - C.S. Lewis talks about living in the moment - and I think, when we are together doing something so simple as mudballs in linear fashion, that we don't have any other choice but to keep on building our dream castle - they do get bigger, and at the end, they are just as satisfying.

Needless to say, when we left the beach, we snapped the photos, named the castle, and left it for the other folks who happened by to inherit, and hopefully add to - or just enjoy.  Saturday night - pretty routine night - except the kids wanted Sunday dinner - they wanted to cook - and we did - I pulled out just about everything a single dad who travels most of the time would have in the ice box, and we figured out how to make cream sauce with cilantro, threw in some freezer burnt grouper, cooked up some angel hair pasta, and had a feast fit for someone who has not been grocery shopping in a while.  When you don't spend all of your time at home, it is a challenge to cook things - you don't have all of the spices you need, you don't have the fancy pots and pans, you just have two kids, an imagination, and the hope that if you slather everything with enough cheese that it will be palatable - don't get me wrong - they ate it (I am back on this thing of not being able to float in the water again, which means avoiding pasta and trying to get to a gym to do more than just occupy time) - and I am not a bad cook - but it does get frustrating when you have to substitute mayonnaise for whatever else, because you never bothered to by vegetable oil.  That's cooking though - we did the same tonight - we had a real Sunday dinner, just like every Sunday that they are here, and they look forward to it - we go to the grocery - we get fresh vegetables (tonight was Sweet Corn on the Cob) and pick out their lunches for Monday - we know where the whoopie cushions are (they are about mid-way through the cereal aisle - and of course, that is the first place we go - not for cereal, but so that my kids can walk behind me, and squeeze the whoopie cushion so that most folks either laugh or give you that ten dollar stare as you walk by them - for me, it is worth it just to hear them laugh...farts are funny at their age, and aside from being the butt of their jokes - I like for them to laugh at things as innocent as that) and we walk through and each one of them makes suggestions on the creations - tonight, it was dinner rolls and chicken stuffed with bread crumbs and bacon and cheddar cheese - there were scalloped potatoes and corn - my son was slightly disappointed by the lack of mashed potatoes - but was fine when he saw the "juice" from the chicken and scalloped potatoes - that gave him enough to sop his rolls in.  My daughter helped make the stuffing - her little hands mixing in the olive oil and the spices, eating more bacon than mixing, but that's okay - she actually helped stuff the chickens too - and looked up at me, and in simple terms, said to me - Dad - I love cooking with you - you are teaching me good things - it was nice to get that bit of reaffirmation - sometimes you wonder what you are teaching them - and then you realize that something as simple as cooking together is teaching them something. 

I kind of breezed through Sunday to focus on the meal - we cooked - but today we spent another three hours at the pool (in two separate outings - the kids wanted to swim while the chicken baked, and had just finished a rousing squirt gun fight) we went bowling - and my son, officially recaptured his title of bowling champion from his sister - he was disappointed that it did not affect her as much as his losing the title at the last outing affected him - but he still grinned all the way home and relished his "sitting shotgun" prize - bowling alleys are great places - but that's another story entirely.

That was my weekend, but that is not the only thing that I had on my mind - I pulled up to my house on Friday, well let me rephrase that in a more appropriate term - I pulled up to the house that I pay for - the house where the kids live, and lo and behold, my former father in law, Dan, is standing out front in a pair of khaki slacks and a blue pinstripe shirt, watering some new flower beds (apparently I was not the only one complaining about the yard) while Christy scurried about with a look of a pissed off boxer toting around garbage bags.  Confused was the first thing that came to my mind - I don't get confused that often - I don't have issues with confrontation or talking with anyone - whether they like me or not - that's a good thing about being a little stupid - I don't have a very good emotional intelligence quotient, so it makes it easier to be a little aloof in situations - whether I want to be or not.  Christy, with her apparent familial courage standing behind her with a water hose, came to the car, and in her best "You are a dick and I hate you" voice - said something to the affect of "St. Augustine Grass, flower beds, grunt, pshaw, frickle frackle, St. Augustine Grass" - her lip curls slightly when she is annoyed - her eyes get clear like a pool of water - and she attacks - if only verbally, but you can see it coming - it was my cue to turn up the Cake CD a little bit louder and see if Italian Leather Sofa could help me get some sort of footing to either ignore the scene around me, or make a decision to compliment her on the yardwork.  That's what I don't understand - Dan mouthed Hi George to me - now I understand lawyers are the cordial type, and have to deal with their own in the courtrooms across America - but a feeble mouthing of Hi George caught me completely off gaurd - I would think that after twenty months of contact being limited to a shitty email written in the form of legalese that he could muster one of two things - enough intelligence to realize that Hi George was about as stupid as a monkey making passionate love to a football, or that Hi George just really meant fuck you in Gallagher speak.  That's what I just don't get - sometimes you can go through your life spotting folks who really care - not the kind of care you see on the television commercial, not the self promoting care that you see when you go and have drinks at these charity functions that cost as much, if not more, than the charity check at the end of the night - just genuine care - I was literally and figuratively in a state of confusion.  Did he think that I had little more to say to him than, "nice shirt" - perhaps my reaction of turning up the stereo, and letting Christy snarl was enough - just enough to hint that I spent a good twenty years listening to them scrutinize my wife, my job, my child rearing skills, my wife's choices, my home decorating taste- twenty years - I listened to them as they talked about their family members as if they had not crossed any boundaries ever - and Hi George - that is what amazed me.

Yard work was tough when I was married.  Doing twelve loads of laundry and cleaning the house sucked after a long week of work - when I just wanted to enjoy my home.  Listening to stories about tennis, and hearing about the things Christy could have been doing whilst not doing anything but adding a few extra pounds sent me into a world where my lack of compassion was limitless and my hope was less than there - it was all a challenge - and it was even more of a challenge to feel like I had to do it by myself - and in most cases, I did.  I paid the bills, I cut the grass, and I made sure that everything that our children needed, they had - and in doing that, I forgot what they needed the most - a dad - now, I don't do any of those other things - the homeowners association dues pay for the yard work, the laundry, well aside from towels and sheets - most everything else goes to the cleaners.  I don't have to bother with stories of downtrodden friends or family members who are less than worthy of their love - but what I do have - and what Christy and Dan should both know, is much more valuable to me than their chidings and passionate hatred - I know that I have my kids back - and my kids know that they have their father back - and that, is worth every step that I have taken to get as far away from that life as a court case and child support can allow.

That was the weekend - sorry for the last couple of paragraphs - but I am still a little confused by it all, and it seems to help to write it down, maybe once or twice, and then move on - I love Sandcastles and Sunday Dinners...and don't miss the yardwork and all of the things that came with it - one single bit.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Literary Agent

No one, in fact, just about everyone that I have spoken with about trying this entire writing thing out professionally had much more advice than “good luck” – in fact, I think the best advice I got was write what you feel and what you like, and if it is true, then someone will read it, someone will like it, and you will be able to know that – I actually started looking for a literary agent, and in the most scholarly way, I studied up on what they would ask me, and imagined myself, sitting in their book lined office that was brightly lit with modernistic lamps and chrome curved ceiling fixtures with the smell of sage and mint gently filling the space, answering questions about the curious but intelligent choice of words, and placing my style into a genre and giving my readers an object – I actually imagined the perfect meeting would be simple – here, take this advance – we need you go back to your bottle of scotch, and your word processor, and we want you to do more of this – this stuff that you do. I actually imagined myself sitting next to my computer in a dimly lit space with a full ashtray of cigarettes and empty red solo cups wreaking of cheap whiskey – and me, struggling to find the next words to the memoir they so gracefully paid me for – that is what I imagined when I sent those emails and made those phone calls – that there would be a market – that somewhere, in some airport, all of the stuff and new improved stuff would be packaged together, bound crisply, and be sitting proudly in a bright and cleverly printed cover. I actually pictured myself being ashamed that it was in print, feeling like it was not good enough, that there were flaws in the machine, and that I had to focus on producing a better vegetable, more leafy greens and sweeter carrots and crisper apples for the readers to devour – yes, that was what I thought about when I sent those requests –

Responses, on the other hand, are not there – they are not there, and those images, better yet, youthful delusions above, did not happen. The reality is that this prescription I put out there is for sale – but it is also my panacea, and I suspect, that although I may not be the most effective hand at painting the picture, that there is enough impression in these words for those who also are not so verbose to go into the description of an ice cube in such immaculate detail to describe it down to the way the light filters through it as they pour another amber scotch over it – I am a simpler artist than that – drawing stick figures and mountains in black and white, and with some hope, expecting it to have a value – intrinsic and real value. Value that is defined more by the ability and character of a man, not just one or the other – not just product, but something that hopefully captures a few minutes of those words that we all aspire to, and the actions that we all control and create.

That’s my experience in the world of professional writing. Not much to speak of, other than giving up a little bit – afraid of sending more letters, more emails, more phone calls, not just of the critique, but of the other hard work – you have to feel to write, you have to really want to edit what it is you put out there, you have to make your thoughts cohesive and concrete – but leave enough space between the words so that there is enough room for the space between your readers ears to bounce around those thoughts, and either be taken away to a better place that you started as stick figures, or to pull them in to your place, and encourage them to take things as simple as I do.

Some pretty general entries these past couple of days, but remember, three nights down, fourteen to go, and progress, whether we choose it or not, is being made…


Blue Leather Seats and Somewhere over the Mountains…

The latest trend in things is to change them – change them faster than you can adapt to them, faster than you can actually keep up with them, faster than any human could hope to aspire to be a force that is proactive to embracing them - that’s what we like, change – things tend to get a standard flavor of peanut butter and jelly day in and day out unless we repackage it and label it something different. I don’t know why we are taught or are innately susceptible to enjoy changes – even slight ones – why we are constantly seeking some sense of newness that aspires us to a different greatness.

Think about it for a while – just ponder what changes we want to see – we want seasons, we want buffets of different food, we want new authors with new slants – reading or studying or simply being in the same place makes most of us stagnant and tired – I actually tried, just for a half an hour, to focus on one simple thing – I tried to focus on the positive aspects of work – not just my job, or your job, or better jobs, but the work that we all do as a general sense of the term. Granted, there are less desirable jobs than others, there are better paying jobs than others, there are jobs with different perks and pleasures – but the bottom line is that we, as a nation and a people that builds itself on its work – all focus on the things that we must do – not on the thing that it is we would do without the work – we all get tired, we all have families and friends, we all have our work – and aside from my sincere attempt below to spend half an hour contemplating life without meaningful work – and my mind wandered off to the newest iPOD downloads or the bands playing at next month’s concert – it wanted to change – because it had been trained to accept all change as stimulus and good…enough philosophy, now just plain writing about work.

Dressing in a plumbers outfit that was about two sizes too large, and pinned together at the waist to hold them from dropping to my knees is the first thing I remember about real work – hot summer florida days and waking up at 6:30 am – getting ready to go into the field in a real truck for the first time with a shovel, a knowledge of plumbing about as extensive as my knowledge of nuclear physics, and nothing more than a promise to make $3.00 per hour – cash. Now what was the basis of the motivation and excitement behind that feeling and desire – was it the cash, the job itself? I can’t think that any of that had anything to do with my desire to get up in the morning and go deal with shit (literally) all summer long. It was the feeling that I was a part of something larger – that I was contributing to something bigger and more important than I, that I was, simply put, doing what we humans are genetically programmed to do – work. There was nothing glamorous about that first job – replacing sewer pipes and wallowing in a hole filled with things that I care not describe were not the draw – but every evening, after stripping off those smelly dirty clothes and letting the hot shower run over my sore shovel trained shoulders – I cannot remember feeling that it was not satisfying. Waking up in the dark and pulling on sweat drawn leather boots and stiff cotton work clothes never was something to complain about – I knew I had a hole to dig, I knew by the end of the day it would be deeper, or wider, or longer, or whatever it was supposed to be – but in all honesty, cannot remember a time when it was not fulfilling. We all grow up, we all find new passions and downfalls where we spend our energy, and I, somewhat unaware of it, have forgotten those rewards that work give. The first blister on your hands after putting in a deck or a fence or a swing set for the kids. The first rush to the face when your spreadsheet works or your publication is accepted, or you lay on the floor and soak in the freshly painted walls. The sense of achievement that is there when you see your ideas and thoughts and passion become a reality. These are all internally derived things – they are within each of us, for the most part, until, somehow they become less than that – they become something that we need to “change” –

I spent most of the thirty minutes reflecting on where I am now – conference rooms and excel spreadsheets and team meetings and the normal trappings of a finance guy – and that same need for change started making my mind race in some Pavlov described reaction, and I wondered where that came from – who planted that first seed, or did it fall like some pine seed in a wind of self-doubt, and did I let it grow into unhappiness – perhaps the latter is true, and in that simple meditation today, I resolved to fetter out the underbrush, and see what could become of the thoughts of accepting work for what it used to be – fulfilling and complete – with little need for change, and more need for simple pleasure of knowing that I met a goal – and have more to meet.

The displeasure of walking into an office blackens some of the days that we have to file into where we go – some of us do a very good routine of consistent self rationalization, saying to ourselves, borrowing from Jim Morrison – everything must be this way, and we make it through the days. That is not what I want to feel, nor do I want to feel the anger that my own complacency creates – anger about a system or a process I don’t control – but inevitably rely upon for my livelihood is comparable to asking a dying man if he could change something in his life, what would that be – obviously, it would be more life – but he does not control that – nor does it matter.

Today, I walked out of that meeting knowing that I was rewarded, for the first time in quite some time, with the realization that I had contributed something meaningful to a group – I am not sure what that product was, or where it was headed, but I know that I led a personal internal effort to not leave it by the wayside and let it handle itself – it was odd, I went into the room with the idea that I would make it through the meeting, produce the widget, and move on – but I left today with a sense that there are bigger things that cause me to work – it is my need to work – to bury food for the winter, build the dam across the creek, to grow. For the first time in six years, I actually had a hard copy paycheck handed to me, and for the first time in a long time, it was a physical reminder that there was food for my children and warm clothes and vacations and safety – handed to me – and that although I received it from my company – I received in return for something I gave to them – work.

It is never easy to leave someone you love every ten days, it is not easy to fall asleep alone the majority of the time, it is not easy to spend dinners with the television as your companion, but obviously, it is better than not being given the opportunity to succeed. My life, although one, right now, made of a semi-comfortable blue leather seat somewhere over Colorado whirly birding through the air at 520 miles per hour, is not what I imagined it to be, but I can say that it is what I designed it to be – and for that, my resolute temper crawls back in embarrassment as I wonder why the anger and bitterness about the results of my designs. Why the feeling of pointlessness, why the doubt – because of change, because of the dream that we were all given that if we did all of these things right, then all of the other things would happen, and all that we wanted would be the result – that is an illusion for simple minds – that reality is that we should go back to the first day we walked on to the job site, with a shovel in hand, and were told to dig – not asked how to dig, not asked to dig better, but just to dig – and to go back to when that was enough – knowing that you had, and you would, wake up again, and work.

I am not going to apologize for writing prose – even the biggest sarcastic asshole (at times) may have some piece of literary function that just needs to be said.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Cigarettes and Camelias....

That's what things seem to be about these days - you walk down a sidewalk in some city, and the Camelias have covered the sidewalk in a rosy pink carpet, and they still smell up the place with their perfume, they still make things a little fresher - and you walk down that same sidewalk, and the next thing you know, you step over the smoking sidewalk - and the camelias are replaced by cigarette butts - it was the same sidewalk, not ten feet away from each other - now you see, I am a smoker, but I am also someone who thinks that you should put your shit in the trash, and that you should not flick cigarettes into the gutter, and you probably should not stand in the same spot every day and drop your cigarettes in the same spot and build up a huge nasty stack of stinking waste -

That's life in most cases, you run through a pile of camelia blooms that have gathered beneath the tree, they move in the wind, they brighten up an otherwise dingy sidewalk covered with old gum and empty candy wrappers - and then, right next to it, a pile of old cigarettes stacked up - the two things could not be more different, but they exist in the same place.

I have been having a rough afternoon.  Dealing with both ex's - and neither of them seems to be rational, or even slightly reminded that they had a part in stirring the camelia leaves and dumping a few cigarette butts along - the way.  Some people just don't get it - they don't have to work everyday somewhere different, they don't have to try and make some sort of life on the road to bring home the salary or secure a better future for their kids - they believe that it is owed to them.  I struggle with this - and hope one day, that they wake up, and something tells them that they got a more than fair deal, that they did make a mistake - and that, all things considered, they ended up with more than they really ever deserved or ever gave back to those around them.  I hate to go into bitterness, particularly on Sunday afternoons, I don't get Sunday afternoons often enough, and to get a legalese letter threatening me for paying too much - and spending too much time - I just don't understand it.  I can imagine my old in-laws - righteous and shmarmy, standing in front of their Amelia home, making a point to tell their self righteous daugther that she has every right to take everything from me, that she somehow deserves it - that's where I have a hard time - what do I deserve - it is not a situation of fairness, it is a situation of that "reverse entitlement" - they believe they deserve it because they obviously earned it - what about me - I earn it every week - I put it in the bank every week - I send the payment every week - and in return, I get irrational conversation followed up by fits of batting eyes and smiles to get their way -

I hate the fact that I have to go to court to beg for relief.  I hate the fact that my money is her money - she did not do anything to deserve it - she had two children - that's it - granted, some might say dealing with me was enough - but dealing with them, I should get some consideration - instead, I get a roomful of family friend attorney's and their self promoting sense of "right" that permeates (and they are so openly exposed to) in their entrenchments in Julington, Vail, and Amelia. 

I heard a good song last night from Hank III - P.F.F.  - I have included it in this post - just for the sole reason that this is how they make me feel - I know it is a bit trashy, and little rednecky, but hell - they gotta understand this is how the last three years of marriage went - pretty much they (inclusive of the gang of them) got me to the point where the only fun things left to do were pretty much what Hank III says...

Now that I have a few more hobbies that are a little healthier - it sure would be nice to get some of my money back to enjoy them - and to be able to spend a little bit of money on my kids along the way.

Note to self - no one ever said getting divorced was fun, no one ever said that it was easy, and no one said you would never have to deal with those folks again, but thank god for agreements, and not having to spend the night ever again in that hell hole.

I feel better now, if only slightly.

Cashed Out, but Full Up...

You are never too far away from a Johnny Cash song - and Friday night in Ballard was the perfect example of some of that twangy raw nerved emotion that Johnny Cash put on vinyl over the course of his long career - plucking guitar and singing for folks - smiling and laughing for crowds - that would have been someone I would have wanted to see play if I had the chance - I never had the chance - but could only imagine that there were plenty of smoky honky tonks that were full of folks enjoying music a little too loud and beer a little too cold. 

The Tractor is a yuppie something kind of place - eclectic, in a thirty something community just North of Downtown Seattle - there are shops that sell just about everything, and to anyone, and mostly at anytime - it is the kind of place where you feel safe wandering at three am and two pm alike - a place where the cafes and shops melt into the sidewalks and push sights and smells of different countries into the streets.  In the spring, the flowers are blooming in the terra cotta pots, and the hanging baskets, and on Friday nights, when the temperature climbs above sixty degrees, the bees milling around the snapdragons are the only thing more plentiful than the folks milling about the storefronts. 

We decided to go see a Johnny Cash tribute band - playing at the Tractor, and used some of my hard earned Hilton Honors points to get a room downtown, and that meant we both could enjoy ourselves without the fear of having to operate heavy machinery after a few tall cold drinks.  The afternoon started slow enough - both of us anxiously trying to get out of the office, rush to the apartment, grab some clothes - we were ready to start the evening together - we know what Friday nights can be, and we seem to look forward to them just the same.  Getting to Ballard through the parking lot known as Interstate 5 was not helping us temper our excitement, but it was time spent together - even if it was sucking exhaust from the other folks who were trying to get somewhere to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

Peso's Cafe is this rustic Mexican place with a Gulf inspired menu, everything tweaked to the high end of spicy, but tempered enough by cold Margarita's that the food does not steam so much.  Dinners with Cadence are nice - they are nice in that I don't mind sharing my meal, in fact, I like it, I don't mind having a conversation - they are intelligent and thoughtful conversations - somewhat foreign to me, but I do want to know what the thoughts are that are going on inside of her head - I want to know where she thinks she might be in three years, where we might be in three years - what she wants to be in three years.  I really never thought that far in advance - I never had the desire to plan anything - I did not think it was worth it, I was end a dead end relationship with a dead end person and there were nothing more than U-Turns and laundry and overweight discussions to look forward to - it was sad.  Now, it is not so sad - the only sadness I typically feel is on those Sunday afternoons, like this afternoon, when all I have are some photographs of us holding hands and the answers to the questions over those long dinners - I like the questions - I like that we have the same thoughts and the same ideas - maybe another child in three years - maybe living in the same city in three years - maybe all of this other stuff will be behind us in another three years - maybe.  Just a huge bag of maybes - but still, it is fun to talk about and even more interesting to enjoy the time for a little while.

So after a couple of crisp lime drinks and some spicy hot Mexican food - we worked our way to the bar - stopping at points along the way - getting sidelined by some less than coherent Swedish Lady - the resident racist who was not so sure why the Germans lost the war, but made it pretty clear to me that there are a few folks out there that I would prefer not to associate with - reminded me that you have to be careful about who you run into - and who you decide to sit next to at the bar - the rest of the evening, we just kind of strategically missed that couple - and wondered about the poor folks who had to sit next to them - the bar they were in was a fishermans bar - the tequilla tasted like a mix of hairspray and gasoline - but we managed to finish those drinks without anymore racist slurs, or innuendos - and moved on to the next place, a little gift shop with quirky things and baubles and trinkets that make a semi-buzzed thirty something go nuts - so I bought a few things - some pens with nifty little sayings, a couple of friendship bracelets, and then - there we were - walking into the Tractor to hear Johnny Cash sound and look alikes pump out music while sipping tall boys of Olympia beer - (we were drinking PBR - which is extremely popular in the Northwest, and thus far, I can find only one bar in the Southeast that serves the stuff - Pete's Bar and Grill - but that is another bar for another weekend on another side of the world -

Johnny Cash tribute bands are not that original - in fact, they make a living off of not being orignal, but being as close to the real thing as possible - and the Cash that we got was a pretty good likeness - his voice had that deep bellowing soulfull feeling, and the sweet sticky feeling of my dance partner pressing up against me to Get Rythm could not be surpassed - you could see the smile in her deep brown eyes, and her laughter as she tried her best to let me lead in some drunken coordinated dance on a packed dance floor - and then the slow songs - Sunday Morning Coming Down - her cheeks pressed tight against my neck, her humming to the song, I knew she was happy, and I hope she knew that I was happy - I am sure she knew that I was happy.

The rest of the night - well cab fares and crazies, but that is all in line with a Friday night and a Johnny Cash Tribute band - but I do have to admit that this Sunday, when I woke, there was not a reason in the world to feel any emptiness, or even think that I was not full -

So where will you be in three years?


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bureaucracy at its Finest…

Now, don’t get me wrong – I am a smart ass, and a pretty good one, when I really put my mind to it, and shut off any concern or real worry about what affect my being a smart ass might have – perhaps that has been the stopping point in many of my personal and career oriented endeavors, but shock value has its uses, and as long as I drop the occasional F Bomb in polite conversation, people tend to keep listening. Now that I think about it, perhaps I may have had a better shot at getting the laundry done in my past life as a married guy if I would have politely said, “ Honey, I think the pile of clothing in the laundry room is going to take an awful long time to finish, shall I help you get it started”, instead of, “That fucking festering pile of dirty shit in the laundry room is not going to walk into the washing machine – hell, it might, as long as it has been sitting there –don’t worry about it, I seem to be good at keeping up with it”…hmmm, I wonder. Not that I am a chauvinist pig, I do my share of chores, believe in an equal split of responsibility, and think that all good things require give and take – but in that case, hell, that is just another story.

But that thought, and the way the trendily named “Stev-O” the flight attendant served drinks and picked up the trash tonight reminded me of the beauty of bureaucracy – (I know Stev-O was named Stev-O because his apron said Stev-O on it, and I suspect that if you are going to have an apron with your name on it, or even your commonly accepted nom de guerre crisply embroidered over your left tit, then you either have been shopping the Sky Mall catalog a little bit too much, or have bins at home that are labeled “left socks”, “Right socks”, “spoons”, “butter” – you get my drift…)

Some people need that extra level of organization of paper pushers to make sure that everything that is done is documented for the next poor sucker to come along and either:

1. Improve upon it – trust me, I have seen several times where I have read something, said this is stupid, and realized that what I was changing was something that was written by someone who has never actually applied the knowledge in a real life situation.

2. Use it as a coaster – this is more apt to be true, when was the last time you caught yourself browsing through the CFR for the latest and greatest releases in all things Federal.

3. Give themselves a Cause – if step 17B says to shove a pitchfork up your ass before setting yourself on fire, then damn it – you need to do that.

Me, I don’t crave that level of organization – in fact, I think the best things come out of chaos – sure, there need to be a few things written down and sketched out and filed for later use – but some people make a living out telling people how and when and where and why they should do things – but don’t actually do anything. I wonder who wrote the guide on how to serve sodas on an airplane – I can assure you that someone wrote a guide on how one should go about opening the can to reduce repetitive finger motion strain. I am sure that there is a quality control standard on the flammability of the little plastic cups and the size of the ice cubes. I am reasonably sure that someone probably sat down and had a vision meeting to discuss whether the attendant should say, “Can I serve you a drink” or, “What can I get for you” – now I don’t know any of this to be true – but I am pretty damn sure that some of it is.

I live in a world of documentation and steps and procedures – that’s what I do in many cases. I am a bureaucrat – but I also have the luxury of seeing what the poor folks who I write this stuff for have to go through on a daily basis – nothing pains me more that seeing them try and take the instructions that were clearly written, (in my opinion), clearly stated, (in my opinion), and have them get to the point of asking themselves what their purpose in life is, and that there has to be a better way to spend their time – hell, that’s enough of the deep thinking.

Top Ten Rules that Everyone Should Follow –

1. Don’t dance naked or clothed inside a predators cage or environment. This could include lions, cheetahs, alligators, large animals with teeth, small animals with teeth, starving cannibals, or venomous snakes. If you find yourself in this situation, you have failed the general rule of survival of the fittest, and probably will not have the opportunity to check yourself into the rehab that you obviously need.

2. Never pick on anyone your own size, or any size for that matter – Two things in life you cannot outrun, a bullet and a cell phone call to a friend who may own a gun with bullets. Best thing to do, just leave folks alone, and only step in when one of those great moral evils is being done. * A great moral evil is something where someone is in physical danger – if you are getting pissed because your girlfriend is getting hit on, you should repeat high school.

3. Try not to sleep with Married folks. Trust me, I knew someone who did this once, and it can be a real pain in the ass.

4. Give something to somebody who needs it – and no, most folks don’t need STD’s.

5. Don’t take a dump on airplanes. This one is just common sense. If you get the stink eye from every passenger because you just made aisles 17 through 38 smell like dead raccoon, you deserve it.

6. Celebrate something – but just don’t make other people celebrate if they don’t want to, and don’t be a prick if you don’t like what they are celebrating – in other words, if folks want to drink at Christmas or Kwanzaa or whatever, leave them alone. You go off and celebrate National Masturbation Week – and you can rest assured that you will be left to your own devices.

7. Eat and drink and sleep and stuff. I remember from eighth grade biology that you have to do this. If you choose to do too much of it – buy two airplane seats so your sweaty man tits and side bags are not in your neighbors space.

8. Clean up your crap – Don’t show up for work in a shirt that looks like it got pulled out of a thermos, brush your hair and teeth every so often, throw out your trash, keep your yard clean. Just by doing those simple things you at least come across as a functioning member of society. Why do you think there are so many jokes about trailers and cars on blocks and rednecks – because it looks like shit – and everyone else has to look at it.

9. Love your family. This rule does not apply to in-laws. I mean you need to be nice to them and all – but they are the ones who did that to your spouse. You only have one family, and even though they think they can get rid of you, they pretty much are the only ones who are going to visit you in prison or leave silk flowers on your tombstone. And yes, even if you are the biggest dumb ass in the world – your kids still look up to you. Turn off the damn game, and go to one with them.

10. Don’t believe everything you see, hear, read, touch, taste – there is not a single bit of cherry in a cherry popsicle, and the banana flavoring and scent is some chemical from somewhere in China and probably contains lead based paint. If they can make frozen water taste like cherries and smell like bananas – then anything is possible. Only believe it after you actually learn about it – in other words, you don’t know anything until you know everything – good luck with that one – this is the one that I find bites me in the proverbial hindquarters everytime.

There, that should be enough bureaucracy for now – don’t see much need to go into anything else for now. Gotta flag down Stev-O and see if has anymore regulation ice cubes in a regulation size cup that I can pour some flavored water over.

Until next time…