Friday, March 28, 2014

Cracks

Have you ever had one of those weeks that seems to defy any and all description? You know, you sit there late on a Friday night sorting through all the adjectives, adverbs and nouns in your small, insignificant brain and not one word seems to be able to pinpoint the exact word to sum up the codified rollercoaster of life you’ve been leading? Yup, that is where yours truly finds himself tonight.
            To begin with, last week a buddy of mine with a tortured soul came down for a visit. He stayed for a week with a mutual friend of ours. We spent over fifty hours together catching up on the years that have passed like so much water going under a bridge. On the other hand, we worked together and tried our best to keep our sanity and keep our personal demons at bay.
            The week ended with me and a bunch of knuckleheads grilling steaks and all the trimmings for fajitas in a garage. To say the in-between was anything but mediocrity on a level playing field would be a lie.
            Now, I’m almost twelve days into a nonstop work week and I’m looking forward to a day off yet I can’t seem to shake the feeling that there are many things still left undone. Cracks so to speak. Cracks in your life that you don’t really see nor that you ever see until you are falling down them and the only thought in your head is “How the hell did this happen?”
            Now, I’m not saying I’m falling, but I do know I’m standing at the precipice of a void, but then again, I always feel as if I’m staring into the senseless, bubbling turmoil that reaps nothing but havoc. All of this has made me realize a few things.
            While I like to live as much as a hermit as I can, and I try to keep most people at bay, sometimes, those unseen cracks not only allow things out, but allow things in. My realization is that I have a crack, a chink in my personal armor that keeps people at bay. My gruff demeanor, my snarky wit, my insensitivity to people who can’t seem to do for themselves has all been a good defense but some people slip in. They get under my skin and I find myself searching for the company of people who have endeared themselves to me.
            My pal who visited whom I haven’t seen in three years is one of them, the garage gang is a slew of others, a few of my work mates are more. Yet while all this is happening I know there are peoples whose company I yearn for, people with whom I’ve found myself thinking of more often these days and when those thought come, as they inevitably do, I feel a mist descending upon my like the dew on a cool spring morning.
            Then, there are those who seem to be able to look beyond my barriers, my fa├žade and instinctively know what’s going on inside my mind. I had lunch with one of those people today. I call him “Friend” even though we don’t hang out much and our lives are so filled with duties that seem to pull us in a hundred directions at once, when we do get together, well, no matter what I say or how I say it, he knows how to read what I mean. He is one of those unseen creatures that have slipped through an unseen crack. For that I’m grateful. But guess what, especially since you are reading this… I’m shoring up those cracks as fast as I discover them. Not to keep folks out, but to keep myself as sane as possible and to keep my focus on what needs to be done.
            Now this may be some cloudy thinking, as cloudy as the evening is that I’m writing this, but, it is something I need to do. Am I saying I’m shutting down any and all hopes of creating new friendships? Nope, I’m not. What I am saying is that I need to find the faults in my philosophies and try to fix them. Is this flip-flopping? Nah, nothing so extreme. I consider it my own personal preventive maintenance from a future of standing in a suit at a graveside and wondering “Why did this happen and what the hell am I doing here? Why are there so many assholes still walking and talking on this earth yet here lies the physical manifestation of a once animate person who I cared for and loved?” I get pissed I guess is what I’m trying to say.
            For I know, like we all do, that life truly is a terminal illness. We only have ourselves to rely on and the few people we allow inside our walls. But when those wall are faulty or when the people we’ve come to rely upon start to disappear, what do we have left? We have our own selves and our own philosophies and theologies. I’ll take all my personal knowledge and mistakes and forge them into a working, living, breathing formula for the existence I have left. After all, it’s worked for me thus far in my life.
            So to you my dear reader, I ask this, “What works for you in your life to keep and maintain your sanity when you are bombarded with a metric-ton of crap that has been dumped into your life on a weekly basis?

            I look forward to hearing your answers.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Where does it Come from?

It’s been a hell of week here in the heart of the south. Aside from the menopausal mother nature, I’ve dealt with family issues as well as an old friend coming in from out of town for a short visit. Now, don’t get me wrong, my buddy visiting is not a hardship in anyway, all it means is that I’m going to be spending some time which I normally dedicate to other things, as far as the family issues, they are unwanted, unneeded and undesired and I wish they had never reared their ugly hydra like head.
            So where does that leave me? Simple, in a corner between responsibility to family and a rock full of friends. Good thing my family understands, because I rarely have friends visit here let alone want my company as a brief respite from their daily lives. (Yes, I am that breed of asshole.)
            On the other hand my buddy is interested in what I do, and has no problem hanging out with me during the day or night for that matter. The problem comes from the fact that he is a Vet of the first order. He served in Iraq and the other country, teaches younger folks how to blow shit up and is one of the most upstanding guys I know. I would entrust my life to him. But… and this is a big but… he has issues most people don’t and while he is trying to work on those problems, I am trying to sow seeds of hope. All in the unlikely hope that in the future, one day, not far from today he will realize that not all is lost and what he has is something to hold on to.
            But in the meantime, I enjoy his company, his stories, of which there are many and of course the camaraderie of feeling a loss for those that came before us. For you see, while he is the epitome of a hard drinking, hard smoking, hard case hard ass, he also has insight that most of us in America don’t understand or appreciate.
            He is alone in his mind, body and souls. No matter how hard he tries to fill it with Jamesons, nicotine, hate and temporary company, he will be alone. That is until he shares what is going through his mind and what he has been through.
            I’m honored to be one of the few recipients of his adventures, am I shocked, disturbed or even amazed? No. I am not. I knew what was coming, simply because I’ve had some experience in what he is dealing with. But does that mean what he says is not important? Nope. It makes what he is doing, going through and been through all the more relevant. For you see, while I can’t say I know what he has been through, I can say that I understand what he is going through.
            Most of us 80’s sailors have the same story… we can’t or won’t talk about what was going on in the Reagan era. We’ve signed papers, made promises and even in some cases, taken blood oaths. So to say what my younger armed service brother is going through is not relevant to what I’ve experienced would be a lie.
            I hold no grudges against any of the armed services, we all hold a special place in the stability of democracy, but to see one person so affected that their life is almost at an impasse as to what they can do and what they can’t do all the while knowing that on this continent it does not really amount to a hill of used coffee grinds is painful.
            But knowing this, and other information, does that mean we can’t be friends? Can’t be brothers in arms? Can’t have similar interests? No. As a matter of fact it does not. All it means is that we, as a collective service to the community, feel more alienated by the life and liberties of those around us. Sure, we dive head long into the pool of freedom and liberty once we are back on familiar soil but we never forget what has been sacrificed not just by ourselves but by those that came before us over two hundred years ago.
            I guess what I’m saying is, that while I am a Jeffersonian at heart and try to live by our third president’s principles, I also believe that without our military and those who have served and giving more than just their lives, we would never be in the place we are now.
            Thank you to all the past, present and future vets. We are a brotherhood that knows what the price is even if we don’t want to pay the bill.

            Have a great week everyone

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Zeus, Pandora and Rock and ROLL!

            I love music. Classical, blues, jazz, rock, classic rock, metal, punk, early rap and even some gospel, but I've never been a fan of pop music. I don’t know why, well, that is a lie. I do know why I don’t like pop music, my reason is simple, it doesn't really speak to me nor do I think it really holds up over time. Just my opinion, I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am.

            Now, being an offspring of the 1960’s, raised in the 70’s, became a man in the 80’s and matured in the 90’s I know I am now in my middle age. Yes, I believe that 46 is middle age, for me at least. Because to me middle age is your halfway point in life and if I live to 92 then I am correct, although I don’t think I will. The odds are against it. Besides, by the time I’m 92 I’m sure my brain will have more holes in it than a piece of nice Swiss cheese.

            So, you can see from my decades how I was around for some very interesting changes in the musical industry, to me Dylan was always electric but I knew about his acoustic stage, I was around to understand why Kiss shows were so amazing, and I knew firsthand about stadium rock and the insanity it brought with it whenever a kick ass band came to town. During all of that though, I was learning how to play classical music in school as well as jazz and I fell in love with those styles of music and appreciate what they represented.

            One of the most interesting things that music has done for me is that it always seems to speak to me. Seriously, when I feel like crap I turn on the radio and it seems the DJ is playing just the right song I need to hear to make me feel less craptastic. When I’m angry, good metal always seems to drown out the screams of frustration and revenge that rage inside my head. When I’m down, blues and jazz soothe my soul and make me feel less lonely and when I just need to be mellow, jazz is always the cure with a spattering of Mozart.

            Today was one of those days. I’ve been living deep inside my head for the past 48 hours and for the life of me I couldn’t find anything in my Zune to play, even though I have over one thousand songs and four hundred artists loaded into the high tech piece of plastic, glass and microchips. I couldn’t pull the trigger on what would soothe my inner maniac. So I lived with it.
            That is, until I arrived at my part time job. Well to be honest, for the first hour there, during set up, I listened to the Thomas Jefferson podcast. But once we opened for business and the customers started to roll in I was not in a position to listen to my ear buds. However, the chef in the kitchen listens to a local classic rock station and over the course of twenty minutes here are the songs that spoke to me:

1.      Limelight by Rush
2.      Under Pressure by Queen featuring David Bowie
3.      Jack and Diane by John Cougar Mellencamp
4.      Walk this Way by Aerosmith
5.      No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature by The Guess Who
6.      Jesus is Just Alright by The Doobie Brothers

Now each of these songs has specific lyrics that spoke to me and the shit I have been dealing with on a level that I’m sure most adults eventually have to deal with. No, I wont go into specifics here but know that those six songs, yes, I listed them in the order they came on the radio, seemed to give me certain balance.

A balance that I lost not just a short time ago.

I suppose I could explain it like this:

I’m sure you know the story of Pandora’s Box. In case you don’t know, Pandora, in Greek mythos, was the first human woman, she was married to a man named Epimetheus and the box was a wedding gift from Zeus. The box came with a warning label telling the newlywed couple to never open the box. But Pandora didn’t heed the warning and as soon as she was alone she cut the seal and all the evil inside was released into the world but the last thing that left the box wasn’t evil, it was good… it was Hope.

So, that is what I’m trying to read into the lyrics of the songs that spoke to me. Oh? You want examples? Sure, I’ll give you some in order:

1.      Cast in this unlikely role, Ill equipped to act, With insufficient tact, One must put up barriers to keep oneself intact.
2.      Cause love’s such an old fashioned word and love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night and love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves
3.      Jacky say, “Hey Diane lets run off behind a shady tree, dribble off those Bobby Brooks and do what I please”
4.      See-saw swingin’ with the boys in the school, with your feet flyin’ up in the air, Singin’ hey-diddle-diddle with the kitty in the middle, you be swingin’ like you just don’t care.
5.      Lonely feelin’ deep inside, Find a corner where I can hide, Silent footsteps crowdin’ me, Sudden darkness but I can see.
6.      Jesus, he’s my friend, Jesus, he’s my friend, He took me by the hand; led me far from this land, Jesus, he’s my friend.

Yup, it’s a strange life and somewhere out in the great and unseen ether there are strange and incomprehensible machinations afoot. I don’t think I will ever understand it and I to tell the truth, I don’t want to. In other words, the void I’ve been staring into as I stand on the crusty and crumbling edge as all the evil stares back at me with its dark gleaming, mesmerizing eyes there seems to be a hint, nay a glint of shining hope deep within the void.

That glint, seems to act as a mirror to me. A mirror that shows not just what is within all of us and the evils we feel in the dark recesses of our ID, but also, the hope that hides there. Like a ninja the evil can’t see. Because evil can’t truly look upon hope and goodness because then it’s own existence would cease to exist.

In some strange way, I want to thank Zeus and Pandora. For the hope that was released into our lives, the hope that acts as an unseen and unknown barrier to the human race because the evil will not only never see it, it will never understand it.

Have a great week.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Where are the Ides of March?


Welcome to the first blog of March. A bitter cold wind blows from the North bringing with it moisture from the sky. Winter seems to have arrived like an unwanted guest who has no clue he’s overstayed his welcome and on the horizon the Ides of March draw near.
            I can only hope that with the coming of the fateful 15th of March in which Julius Cesar was assassinated by conspirators led by Brutus and Cassius, the younger generation of the time, that a new revolution led by Mother Spring and Father Summer stick a heated blade into the heart of this miserable existence that seems to have gripped this nation in its miserable iron claws. We have been forced over these past few months to hide ourselves away from society and social experiences just to keep warm and safe from a weather system that seems to be controlled by a lapsed recovering meth addict straight out of Breaking Bad.
            Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I don’t like cold weather, rain, snow, or inclement weather in any way shape or form. I actually enjoy days that surprise you with interesting phenomenon. However; to live through what seems like endless months of it all the while living in what is supposed to be a moderate and temperate climate? It’s enough to drive a person a bit bat-shit crazy. Especially if your primary mode of transportation does not have four wheels, an roof and windows.
            I’m not complaining, hell I ride in just about any weather, rain, wind, nineteen degrees with wind chill… I ride. But sometimes, enough is enough and I’m not the only one who thinks so. If you don’t believe me all you have to do is check your twitter feed, or facebook feed or any other social media outlet, there are enough people fed up with this season that I’m sure we could get an online petition together to send to the White House and have the President sign into law the end of this years winter with no problem whatsoever.
            As I sit here and reflect upon the growing disdain for the past few months I can’t help but throw my own hat into the ring of people fed up with what we have been served this year. The cold weather only brings higher power bills, cabin fever and a growing need for getting out of the four walls that we entomb ourselves in every day and night. But inside of me, deep down inside, a certain part of me can’t help but be a bit grateful for this past season.
            Soon this bi-polar, schizophrenic, ADHD, and sociopathic system of blasts of frigid air from the northern climes and we will be freed from the prison of   grayness that has filled so many with a forbidding and never ending look into an abyss of hopelessness. We stand on that edge, as a collective, breathing in deep the air of a thousand generations without realizing that as soon as we receive our parole we will forget about the months of being held hostage by an unseen and seemingly absent warden.
            For we are truly fortunate, we have each other, loved ones and even a nice place to lay our wearies and woes. I know I’ve used some of this time for an in-depth introspective time in my life. I’ve discovered some not so startling revelations about myself. I wish I could say I learned more about myself but I can’t. I try to live my life on my cuff and I also try not to do things that will cause me great regret or cause for reflection. However, I was not always like this and there are some things in my past I’m not happy about, I have to live with that and I believe this is one of the reasons I’m sick of this seemingly endless winter. All of this has led me to believe that I can’t be the only person on this mud-ball that feels this way. I’m sure there are others out there who’ve spent way too much time looking into their own id, or, more to the point, spending time alone with their own personal maniac.
            We all know that when you spend too much time with certain folks, you start to mimic each other’s behavior. Both good and bad traits are absorbed by our chameleon like qualities that seem to be left over from an earlier time in mankind’s existence. So tell me, that is if you dare, have you utilized this season of cold, gray, steely, loneliness to reflect on your past, good or bad? Have you?

Have a week.