Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blinded By the Light

The Grand Canyon wasn't my idea; it was a compromise based on the fact that I'd not yet been and Linda hates to go anywhere I've already passed within a hundred miles of. She has this belief that if I've seen it, I couldn't possibly enjoy it again so we must do something new each time we set out on an adventure. The problem is of course that I've been to every state in the continental US, most of the Canadian Provinces and the larger cities in Northern Mexico...so we have limited choices. For whatever reason, the GC had never struck me as a destination; only a nice topic for a coffee table picture book. So naturally, we just had to go.

It was for hiking that she really wanted to visit the park; she'd heard about the trails to the
Colorado river and really wanted to clomp down a few. My feet will hardly hold me up anymore so it was obvious all along that I wasn't going to join her for anything strenuous. I grimaced through the upper rim from one end to the other in a few mile at a time chunks over the course of the first few days, and when it came time for her big hike-o-rama into the void, I waved her on her way and set out for Phoenix.

It was a crazy idea on my part, but then I'm insane so it was in context. I have relatives in Phoenix; an aunt and 5 cousins and their families who I've tried to make into an extended family for my own benefit for some 25 years. They put up with me certainly, nice folks all. And I'm sure a few of them have actually had a thought or two with my name in it over the decades, but never sose I'd know.

I'd gone to weddings and graduations and just for fun outings nearly 20 of the last 25 years, all on my dime and all because I'd wanted to be there without persuasion. But I'd grown tired of the charade and had decided that my one way street relationships were no longer worth the toll. This was my last time to visit those who'd left home and never come back; my final wave to the family I was never an active part of. They didn't know that, but then, they didn't need to know.

I called my aunt to see if she was available for lunch, it was nearly a 200 mile drive and I'd be really cranky if I'd missed her. She said she'd be at home with bells on, so I set out for the four hour trek.

Flagstaff was gorgeous as always, someday I will live in a mountain town and leave my Minnesota prairie forever.

The trip downhill was uneventful. I've never been a fan of desert scenery, it bores me to tears usually; so I was not surprised that I caught myself nodding off now and then as I plodded along through cactus and tumbleweed filled valleys. I stopped twice for coffee and fresh air, a record for me as I normally will drive all day without even stopping for urine expulsion.

I made record time in spite of the stops, and Joanne and I set out for a local Cracker Barrel. She'd called all her kids to see if they wanted to join us as it was a Saturday afternoon in the summertime so there was nothing beyond work that might stop them. But for some reason all but one were busy that day, so we met her youngest son and had a lovely chat for a couple hours before I had to leave again for the return trip.

Yes, I drove eight hours to have a 2 hour lunch with a woman who has only once called me on the phone to see how I am. It's complicated, but it's over now in any case. All I needed to do was run back up the hill and reconnect with my darling wife and another chapter of my past would be closed for good.

It was about 2/3rds of the way back that it happened, on a stretch of the interstate where the up and downhill lanes separate by a mile rather than a few yards; where the topography gets lumpy and bumpy and the road becomes slightly curvy and the driving becomes a little less boring for just a moment.

I'd been thinking about how much I loved driving my half ton truck, so high off the road, a nice wide track, the leather interior so cool and plush that it could make me feel as if I were in a living room rather than a tin can hurtling along on an ribbon of asphalt. And I'd been noticing how many bugs had made my windshield their final resting place, making it annoying to see through when the sun hit it just right and blurred the smear so to speak.

I had a highballer tractor trailer next to me, which normally made me a tad nervous; not that I'm afraid of trucks or driving in any circumstances, but simply a visceral response to a giant sized box-o-steel within arms length of my baby vehicle at speeds approaching 80 miles per hour. We were neck and neck and cruising along as we bent a little right around a mogul and then up and over a hill.........

I was blind. Absolutely totally blind. My windshield was awash in bright light, glowing as if it was radiating the light from its core. For a moment I froze
I
had
no
idea
what
to
do.

I was a passenger in a self guided rocket, a weapon that would at any moment either blow me and anyone near me to smithereens, or simply leave the roadway airborne, a sheet metal arrow looking for a stack of freshly eroded lava dust to burrow into.

The sound of the semi beside me woke at least one of my senses from its coma, and I quickly looked to my right to see if I'd already drifted in his direction. I was truly helpless, I've never felt more terrified in all my life, but I noted I still had distance; I was still going straight ahead at near 80 miles an hour with no concept of what might be in my way.

I thought about lowering my driver side window and shooting my upper body through the hole, hopefully not just as I passed too close to a light pole or rock wall that I hadn't noticed before visiondeath. I searched my brain for a clear picture of what I'd seen just before the lights came on, a map of the entire area might be good in case I felt the tires leave the ground suddenly or I was dragged under the eighteen wheels of my neighbor and once the dust cleared I'd need to remember where I'd last seen a phone.

Every second that passed I thought would be my last second in the dark, and every second that it continued in spite of my best optimism, I thought it would be my last second on earth. I'd love to say that I worried about taking someone with me, but it was no time for altruism, it was just my life that mattered at that moment.

After what had to be 30 seconds I nearly slammed on the brakes to take my chances that there was no one behind me so close as to die swerving out of my way. I couldn't believe nothing had happened yet; that I was still alive, that I was still head to head with the truck, that I was still blind as a bat and hadn't yet figured out a way to overcome the problem.

I'd had dreams like this; where I'm behind the wheel of a car that's moving, albeit slowly, and as we approach some obstacle that I need to either steer away from or stop for, I find I'm paralyzed and helpless to react. In very slow motion I sweat every moment, straining to move either my hands or feet to no avail and finally crash into whatever it is that's facing me. A minor difference this time, I was not paralyzed certainly, not physically at least. Well, two minor differences I guess; this was not a dream.

I started to lower the window thinking I might try what I'd thought of a lifetime earlier; to blow my head outside and try to drive like a mailman might with my body stretched parallel to the roofline. But a second thought crossed my mind just before I thrust left. What if my sudden movement invariably pulled my wrist left as well, and because of the very movement I attempted with thoughts of saving myself, I pulled the vehicle cross lane and either flipped my way down the road all the way to the pearly gates, or whipped the opposite direction and took the truck driver along with me.

In
Out
In
Out
In

I cou.....

Just then the windshield cleared as another hump of desert dirt blocked the lowering sun and released my windshield from its fiery clutch. I was stunned for a moment, it was incredible that I'd come this far, perhaps another mile gauging speed and time, without straying from my position in the left lane one iota. I was center up, well away from the truck who was still nose to my grill as if we were tethered together, and still hurtling uphill as if nothing had happened.

I looked in my mirror to see how many people might have been affected had I screwed up.......

just as the lights came on again and I was fucked for a second time.

I could rewrite the few paragraphs that preceded this, as pretty much the exact same things went through my mind. This time I could add "this can't possibly be happening a second time", but for all intents and purposes it was virtually the same inner voice screaming at me all the way, with all the same information and worthless suggestions on hand.

The only change was in the time period; it was over in half the distance and this time I damn near stood on the brakes to get behind my buddy truck-boy and look for an exit where I might have a cold, stiff Dew and wait out the killer sunset.

I managed, as there was actually a tiny town and convenience store about a mile up the road where I stood outside my wanna be coffin for a half hour, hands shaking and sucking down cigarettes like they were cans of oxygen on a hydrogen planet.

It was dark by the time I reached Flag and started down the two lane road through the high desert forest that spans that part of northern
Arizona. I had to slam brakes and swerve at least a half dozen times for elk and other critters over the hour or so it took to make that 55 miles. But it was nothing really. I could see the things, if I was going to hit them, at least I'd have known it in advance. And that's more comforting than you could ever imagine.

God had my number that day, and couldn't cash in. Maybe I've got chores yet; I'll have to figure out what they are.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Paul's Chickens


She was 94 and it was past time. For years she'd been holding on in spite of her weariness and boredom, her tiny frame refusing to set this life aside and move on to the next.

Two days a week on average I'd spent a few hours in her apartment, fixing her Swedish meatballs and boiled potatoes, corned beef and cabbage, cherry jello with cream and sugar. Many times we'd just watch television, it's extended volume piercing my brain but barely reaching hers. Some days I'd goad her into telling me the same stories; those of her childhood, meeting my grandfather, raising my father.

"Ya" she'd say after a half hour of silence, as if in answer to some question or in recognition of an unspoken statement. Then she'd suck in her breath, a quick little draw of air that Norwegians use to punctuate without adding vowels.

Now she lay helpless, her bed one of two in a respite room, cotton draperies separating the dying from the dying.

She'd never once touched me before this, never hugged, never kissed my cheek. But this day she set her hand on mine and looked into my soul, likely wondering if I had any messages that she might carry on her journey.

"I'm dying you know" she said smiling, delivering her announcement in that tactless way that only the most stoic of Scandinavians can muster.

"I know gramma" I said. "Tell me about Uncle Pete again."

"Nah" she said, releasing my hand and smoothing her sheets.

"Remember the time...", I started, conjuring the tale of a drive to her birthplace, my ex wife and I the drivers and she and an ancient cousin in tow.

I'd mentioned a radio show I was producing at the time, a guest of which was a Norse musician who played folk tunes for a local dancing troupe. One of the songs he'd played live for me struck me funny, and so I said it's name to her as we cruised down the rural highway. "Paul's Chickens" it was called, the story of a man chasing his unruly hens around the farmyard.

The two old women lit up as if I'd given them ice cream cones. They started singing in unison, stumbling over their now rusty Norse and giggling like schoolgirls. "Klukk, klukk, klukk, Sa høna på haugom." they sang. The chickens were cackling, a fox was nearby.

We laughed and laughed a few miles away, while these two poked and prodded each other to sing every song stored in memory banks too long untapped. I swear had I stopped the car, they'd have leaped to the grass to celebrate life in dance and song, like some Shel Silverstien cartoon.

As I retold the story she laughed. "Cluk Cluk Cluk" she sang in the tiniest of voices as I finished, and she muttered a few more phrases in unintelligible Norse before drifting off to sleep. I read her a few Robert Frost poems that she might dream of woods on a snowy evening, the jangle of sleigh bells offered to drown out the sound of her labored breathing and the incessant knocking of the reaper.

It would be my last night with her; the last time she'd tell me I was too fat, too rumpled, that I smoked too much. But my last vision of her was her smile, the proof of my so tiny contribution to her life; my payment for love never spoken but always understood. And what else matters.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Same Day, Different Metaphor

Sometimes I feel like that little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike; like I was skipping down the street one day and I saw this leakage going on, and since I know the entire freaking ocean was out there I stuck my finger in the hole. I would have asked for help right away but it's not like other people hadn't already passed by and ignored the running water; I mean nobody really wants a leak to interfere with their day so the probability was if I asked for help I'd only be turned down, and getting turned down could affect me in a bad way. I might be able to just shrug and blow it off, but I might just feel put upon, like I'm absolutely alone with this dike thing and then, I might actually beg for help. But if I got turned down then it'd be humiliating, not to mention the possibility that it might enrage me to know not only am I alone but people are contemptuous of my position... had I just left the damn dike alone I wouldn't have this problem and while everyone might have drowned had not someone plugged the hole, that's really not my affair now is it.

So there I am trying to keep the world's oceans from drowning me and everyone I love and I really just want to yank the finger out of the hole and walk away; let nature take its course, cuz why should I always have to be the finger guy saving the world, or at least my part of it?

Well cuz the hole is really inside me and I'm really keeping out every negative aspect of my life so I don't get swamped by a flow of breath stealing liquid I can't stem. Knowing that I am the only person that can do this, I shackle my feet to the floor as a constant threat to myself to be ever vigilant or be the first to die by the force of 90% of the earth's raw materials first pounding me into the pavement, then covering me, blocking out all light, and then forcing its way into my lungs so I have no chance to breathe, much less the will.

So its a bit all or nothing as you can't really let in half the ocean and then plug it up again; once the dike is breached the ocean kind of has a mind of its own and there's no stopping an ocean when its on a mission.

Sometimes it feels like a shark is nibbling on the tip of my finger from the other side of the dike. And its painful and I can just imagine how chronically painful its going to be and I think if I don't get my finger out of there I'm not going to have a finger at all but a bloody stump. So I pull the finger to look at it and it turns out it wasn't a shark at all but a piece of seaweed floating past. But now the ocean's pouring in and no matter how frantically I try I can't get my fucking finger back into the hole so I rip my shirt off and try to stuff that in and the hole just gets bigger.

For a few minutes I think to call for help from at least those most devoted to me. But of all the people I know, most can't swim, some just don't swim because its all wet and stuff, some get hives when they touch the water and some just hate the whole idea that water exists in the first place. If I ask my wife, she'll drown before I do, at least I can hold my breath, she can't even do that...she hasn't had as much practice as I.

It's just like that as I feel the hole open wide and gallons and gallons of the wreckage of my life blows through the wall I've built to keep myself and those around me high and dry, overwhelming my ability to stand on my own, rising to cover my shoulders adding weight to the weight I'm already carrying day to day, and eventually rising to cover my face, sucking the very wind from my lungs with concussive force.

Sometimes I can break the chains that hold me underwater and rise to the surface where God willing I can stay afloat long enough to witness natural change, and sometimes I drown for yet another lifetime until low tide draws the Atlantic back into its crater, and I am left to repair what always ends up not as strong as I'd designed it.

I sat with a new doc the other day, speaking at light speed so as to cover an accumulated 100 years between Linda and I, in the 30 minutes they gave me. And as I was blithering about let's skip me and move on to Lin's problems because I really don't want to run out of time before I explain my case and try to psychically determine whether the guy was actually listening to me or just eyeing my insurance card, I was thinking to myself "what's the use, this is pointless, I look like a freak to this guy I'm sure" and my eyes got all watery and I'm trying to talk as fast as I can and keep my tears in their ducts and my finger is being shoved out of the dike and the freaking ocean is pouring in and I'm thinking "Jesus I'll bet this guy thinks I'm certifiable" and he says "I don't know what's wrong with your feet but I'll bet it hurts."

I stopped the flow for a while, I had to work that night, I couldn't afford to be overwhelmed. But as soon as I got home I was too damn tired to keep the ocean off my back so I just yanked my finger out and let it come. And so it did.

It's interesting the only thing that stops me from drowning is the guilt I suffer for the weight I'd put on others, the obligations I have that I'd not fulfill, the people I'd hurt, few as they are and short lived as it may be. It's never a matter of my suddenly figuring out that I actually want to live, that I'm a champion class swimmer and I can ride out the flood as well as any Loch Ness monster. Its only seeing Linda's imaginary face when she discovers I'm blue in my imaginary scenario during my imaginary last look around.

The dike's pretty screwed up right now, the hole's as big as a house. But the tide's still out and I've got a bucket of putty and a few bricks. Hopefully I can get it shipshape before the next wave comes in.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ursa Medium

A hard squint crossed my eyes as the mammoth orange ball slipped into my frame from behind it's fluffy camouflage. For a moment I had to lift my off hand to its visor position; straight forward, cocked right, fingers tight and palm covering the whole of the sun so that I might see the oncoming traffic. But soon enough the road twisted and our facing angles changed, lightening my squint to a more relaxing wince.

And it was through this wince that I first saw her, the curve of her fleshy claw cradling the burning orb below as if she were a silver dragon gripping a perfectly formed ruby. My eyes, darting so as to not lose sight of the highway as I browsed, moved heavenward; following the contours of her leg, then her ample and muscular bosom, and finally her long, slender, graceful neck. It twisted backward, topped by her horned, elongated skull, her single visible eye glaring at her rear haunch as something appeared to grow in size at the beast's hindquarters.

"Nessy!" I shouted loud enough that Linda might hear, her position behind me and the turbulence of 70 mph conspiring to make her deaf to my occasional observances.

"Where, where" she hollered back through the face plate of her helmet, gripping my shoulders for balance in case she'd need to turn dramatically to spy the monster.

I turned my head to the right, that the wind might help carry my voice instead of forcing it back into my lungs. "Thar she blows". I pointed skyward and dead ahead. She saw it instantly and noticeably perked up, wiggling in her seat for a better view of the Loch Ness Monster.

"What's that behind it?" My passenger tapped my shoulder as if to emphasize that she was awaiting my answer impatiently. But you can't hurry clouds, they sort of create themselves.

"Can't tell yet!" I fibbed. I could certainly see what it was enlarging itself in the updraft, but I was reticent to give my appraisal until it was so obvious that even an untrained eye like my wife's could agree with my interpretation.

It was a bear that sat, or perhaps knelt behind my monster; its head was unmistakable, its shoulders thick and dark, its arms stretched ahead with lumpy hands gripping Nessie's haunch...the same haunch that Ness was now smiling at, her head cocking back and opening slightly as if she were gargling future downpours or more likely, (saints preserve us)grinning in primordial pleasure.

And then, it all became obvious; so obvious that I was surprised that Linda didn't smack me on the back and scream "Do you see what I see? Could it possibly be?"

For a minute, I was too stunned to speak; the blatant immorality of it nearly too much to handle. Like we don't have enough sex on television or in advertising. Hell, even radio is full of innuendo, kids books have seen sexual reference hidden between the lines...

Is nothing sacred? Is the sky itself not out of bounds?

"See it?" I called out hoping she would say it so I didn't have to.

"I think so" she answered, coyly avoiding the inevitable.

"See the bear?" I specified thinking that might push her to suddenly get the joke, suck in a lungfull of breath in mock shock, slap my spine in a playful but painful way and bellow "No-It Can't Be!"

"Yup" she answered blandly, oblivious to what the wind and humidity had spelled out in no uncertain terms.

It looked like Pooh, I swear on a stack! But as to not ruin the innocence of that tale I coined "Ursa Medium" as the name of the perpetrator as I called out the play....

"Ursa is humping Nessy, cantcha seeit?" I waved my clutch hand wildly as if to create movement between to two rapidly dissipating forms. The air was cooling fast and thus, the clouds were collapsing. Even now Ursa's head was falling forward into Nessie's back as if his job was done and any genetic swap fulfillment would now be up to cumular science and cirral evolution. I'd only hoped m'lady had spotted the faux porn before it vanished in a wisp of cloudstuff.

"Don't tell me you didn't see it" I protested loudly as our turn appeared and I leaned the bike northward and perpendicular to the decaying mass of entertainment. She laughed; one of those really good laughs when she realizes how insane I am and how funny that can be.

"Yes!" she said leaning into me and nearly whispering her response as if the idea of a bear and brontosaurus having sex kinda turned her on. "Aunt Bee would never have approved" she giggled, killing that "turned on" idea with a silver stake through it's heart. Man she's cute, in spite of the Andy Griffith reruns.

Screw dream interpretation, this is the real thing. Only a scientist could anticipate it, and only an artist can spot it before it blobs itself into something altogether different. It's sciart...or perhaps artance...oh who cares; it's important, it's cool and I do it!

Just call me Bragi Stringbreaker, Cloud Interpretist Extraordinaire!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Black Sheep

Cynicism may seem all negative, but it does have it's good points if it can be controlled.

Long ago I wrote a song for some company having a sales conference akin to a Mary Kay extravaganza, a day of motivation and self help.

For at least a year prior, my audience had been inundated with "team" concepts and "quality" materials. They all had titles ranging from "team specialist" to "sales associate" and proudly displayed them on gold badges pinned to their chests.

The song was likely the sappiest piece of drivel I've ever written both musically and lyrically, but I was driven and edited by the client so I can only take responsibility for laying out the scrabble pieces for others to play the game.

Sweeping string glissandos and huge brass flourishes accompanied driving hard rock guitar and drum kit. Sound effects of jets and rockets, the trappings of might makes right sporadically woke the nappers if any were so bold as to not pay attention.

The words were a collection of jingoism strung together with a few adverbs, phrases like "we are the people" and "we're gonna reach for the sky" and "take the lead"... all actives, all designed to make the listener grab the next opportunity, flip it upside down and shake it 'till all its cash hit the floor, rather than patiently wait for sales to come their way.

It was a closing anthem, a call to arms, marching orders that the company execs hoped would increase their market share and bring home the proverbial bacon, showering shareholders with 15 dollar dividend checks and keeping their own asses and jobs secure.

We provided a live band, the rock of the orchestra. Six handsome boys and girls with handheld keyboards, guitars and microphones strutted around the stage and the drummer as the song repeated again and again.

Candid photos of audience members flashed across the screen, hand chosen to show determined looks, thoughtful studiousness, happy "team" gatherings. Eventually the visuals changed to the lyric of the song, and I shit you not (I didn't design this and tried to stop them lol) a bouncing ball.

The lights in the room shifted to red white and blue streams, spotlights roaming the crowd, video cameras following to highlight one participant after another and transferring those images to 24 foot long screens, a montage of human happiness and fortitude, the "team" spirit in action. The crowd leaped to their feet, goaded by the singers on stage with shouts of "C'mon people! Clap your hands" or some such.

In a lovely display of Simon says, the musicians linked arms while singing the little ditty, and so too did the audience, 500 strong now, holding each other and swaying, singing a joyful noise, some so overwhelmed they actually wept in awe at being a part of such an army of hope.

We were good, I was damn good at what I did. As I watched this manipulation take place I suddenly visualized a hundred thousand bodies, standing before the Reichstag chanting slogans and cheering their solidarity. I nearly vomited.

Ok, there's really no comparison...or is there?

When I see a group of women in burkas firing guns into the air and chanting "down with America", I get it. Watching old footage of a half million people milling about Red Square trying to get a closer glimpse of the passing nukes and tanks, cheering their comrades on with clichés, I understand.

If a crowd of teens and young adults, peacefully marching through some city to protest all the evil corporate greed they've learned to despise suddenly turns to violence and chaos, I'm right with them in knowing their plight at least. The propagandizers that prodded them to the rally in the first place never mentioned pepper fog, nor how to deal with a pack of wild animals when in their midst.

We are all constantly inundated with propaganda whether we choose to see it or not, and if the delivery is masterful enough we may not recognize it in spite of our best efforts. The next time you buy a product that differs from another only in higher price, their chemical compositions being EXACTLY the same, ask yourself how convinced you are that it REALLY IS the better of the two choices.

Crowds scare me sometimes. We all seem to be so willing to hand off responsibility for our own lives, there are days we'll suck into whatever nonsense some charismatic speaker will spew. Buy this, eat that, wear those, that's bad, do what I say, eat me drink me.

We've been conditioned to think there is some penalty for individual thought, that there's a price to pay for non conformity and playing devil's advocate. And there is really, those few of us that do it regularly are shunned for the most part, pigeonholed as "loose cannons", "loners", and non "team players". And no one wants to be an outcast, a pariah, alone in their own self made shoes.

But another thing that occurred to me concerns the propaganda we foist on ourselves that is as often as not, spurred by that loneliness. One can only stand proud so long if the masses constantly bleat messages of loathing our way, that our lifestyles or hair color or causes are too far out of the mainstream, too eccentric, too radical.

So some sit in fear of rejection that becomes so strong it's hard to breath much less go through day to day events. Some let go their ideals, joining the sheep in order to be accepted, cared for, to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

Or better yet we join some radical cause whether it suits our person or not, just to have compatriots, friends who might help us with our lives, that we can join with in reveling our "communal uniqueness", as if that's not just another malaprop.

Usually we fail to recognize the same bullshit is at work here, we've self dragged into something that's really not our bag but seems our only avenue of hope, our only chance to be loved. There's something comical in the concept that to be an individual you need to join a group of like individuals. Hmmmm.

Some blow their brains out, or at least ponder it to the exclusion of all other thought. Others maim themselves, telling themselves over and over that only pain will make them feel alive, feeding themselves with the propaganda of the damned, the useless, the unwanted.

I'm here to say that when I recognize my own self loathing for the propaganda it is, and understand that it's my feeding myself lies in order to FEEL SOMETHING rather than the numbness I live with, brought on by others turning their heads from my impassioned pleas to be accepted warts and all, I know that it's all crap.

It's bullshit kids, and all the cutting and mutilation and depression and hate and curling up in a corner wishing the goblins from your room isn't going to change that fact. Isolation does nothing to solve it, nor does acting out the anger that springs from years of rejection.

There are so many of us that are so unwilling to step out and be heard, or step up and hear others that we'd populate a country; and yet most sit silent, stewing in our own fears and anguish, wondering if anyone will ever come to lift us out of the dumpster of sadness.

We are afraid that the mere mention of our angst will only make our distance more complete, that we are inarticulate, void of the capability to be understood, too young, too old, too male, too female to have anyone pay attention to us, to hold our hands and actually LISTEN. And besides, no one wants to be seen as a loser to a pack of losers.

Know this, that yet one more rejection is BY FAR preferable to shedding yet one more drop of blood in effigy, a testament to some goddess of pain who will only ignore you like all the others. That depression while sometimes comforting in it's insulation, is a pointless exercise; a minute, an hour, a week, that you will eventually curse yourself for having pissed away.

So if I know all this why do I get depressed? Because I'm human as well and knowledge does NOT bring control. Propaganda is sneaky and sometimes damn near invisible; even when it's our own, created out of whole cloth that we knit with our own demons cheering us on, chanting "you're not worth it".

But here's the deal....There are others in the same boat. Others that would gladly share a few minutes of their miserable lives to understand your miserable life on the premise that you will do the same in their honor.

It's a bitch to hang your ass out the window, it's scary to put your neck into the guillotine cradle praying that your listener won't pull the cord and let the blade rip. But can it possibly be harder than pulling that razor blade across your arm or dousing yourself in another bottle of mad dog or sucking on the muzzle of a pistol?

Trust me, it makes me cringe sometimes but it's not that bad. If I already feel as if no one loves me, how can I worry about adding to that dog pile? How silly is that?

Not all sadness is mental illness, even some serious angst. It's not all controllable by drugs, much as the shills for their manufacturers would like us to believe; yet more propaganda for us to swallow in triplicate with a nice, full glass of tap water.

Sometimes all it takes to rid yourself of it's pressure is a few words of kindness, a random act, a compliment and a shared smile. Life doesn't need to be any more difficult than we want it to be since it's really our brains that envision what is and what is not.

I was a master professional propagandist, and for the most part I've set aside that vocation in deference to more personal and solitary pursuits.

But if you ever have a doubt that you're being treated to bullshit, that some "force" is trying to turn you one way or another with slickness and goading, let me know. I understand and will do everything in my power to help you chase away the fuckers that are foisting their garbage on you. Because again, if I don't, who will?

Don't feel alone, because there are hundreds of thousands of us out here, all you need do is find us. A few of us have these big ass sheets of paper emblazoned with our willingness to help, to share, to cope. Others aren't so obvious. But they're out there just the same.

Am I talking to you? Only if you decide I am, otherwise I'm just talking to myself and I need to hear this as much as anyone. There ARE trees in the forest after all. I am but one of many.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Jack and Jill Chronicles (Headache? I'll give you a headache)

Jack and Jill
went up the hill
to fetch a pail of water

Jill had just turned eighteen and was simply brimming with pent up hormonal stuff. She watched intently as Jack’s square hips swayed side to side while he lugged the heavy pail up Horner’s Hill, his daddy’s own piece of God’s country. She caught her breath at the sight of his biceps bulging as he switched the bucket from one hand to another, and when they’d reached the top of the rise she could stand it no longer. She pushed Jack backward into the apple tree that stood watch over Hilltown and said to him in as sultry a tone as she could wrangle…

“I gotta have your hot steamy sex right now Jack, don’t make me wait a minute longer or I’ll have to kill myself. Kiss me, kiss me right this minute you hunk of pail carryin man!”

But Jack pulled away, shyly.

“Gosh sakes Jill, you know I can’t do that” he sputtered. “Why, you of all people know that I’ve taken the pledge!”

“What pledge is that my love” Jill said as she again tried to co-mingle their two bodies into one.

“Why” (it annoyed Jill that Jack started most of his sentences with the word ‘why’, but at that moment she was so worked up she let even that pass) “Why the Jonas Brothers pledge dearest! You know, the purity pledge!”

“Oh screw the Jonas Brothers Jack, just do it! Do it now!!!”

“Why Jill” he answered, “I just can’t. The Jonas Brothers are the best role models in all the world and if they say they’re saving themselves for marriage, then I should do the same!”

Fuckity fuck fuck fuck” screamed Jill, knowing that Jack’s mind was made up and that she’d need to go without, at least for the hour that it’d take to collect the water and drop it off at the Horner house when she then could run through town and find the first real man she could see and drag him into the bushes.

Then she did what any Hilltop High School gymnastics champion might do if overwhelmed by a nearly quarter century of building sexual tension… she began to practice her floor exercise in preparation for the big meet on Saturday.

“Get the water your own damn self” she said as she completed a twirling cartwheel and somersault combination. But then as Jack filled the bucket and walked back toward the crest for the journey downward, she thought to one last time try and convince him of his error.

“Look Jack” she shouted, “your favorite routine!” Jill ran three steps and then began to flip forward and back, dancing and doing the splits, showing her perky breasts and thick athletic legs to their best advantage. But Jack was having none of it. He turned away, in spite of his tongue’s sudden swelling and the sweat beginning to bead on his forehead. A promise was a promise, and he would be pure no matter what. He turned away and faced toward the parking lot far below.

As Jill attempted her final move, a triple back flip with two and a half twists, she knew she would come quite close to her soon to be ex lover’s head, and while she knew what might happen if she didn’t reign herself in, she completed the maneuver with a swift kick to the jerk’s back, sending him sprawling down the hill and off the retaining wall that separated the nice soft grass from the hard as steel tar. Jill, oblivious to the damage she’d caused, continued down the hill doing cartwheels and pirouettes, or as the newspaper might have put it in the headline the next day…

Jack falls down, Breaks Crown! Jill Tumbles After!

But of course the paper never did print that header, because Jack suffered a great deal of neurological damage in the fall once he’d cracked his head open on the tarmac, and there he lost both his ability to speak, and his penmanship, so he could never tell the truth; that Jill had, in an abandoned rage, tried to kill him for not breaking his word to the Jonas Brothers.

Jill ended up marrying Billy Crackhead, the first real man she’d run into after Jack had been carted off to the hospital. He’d made no such promise. He was as pure as soot.