Wednesday, August 30, 2006
So, there's this woman, right. And she's really hot. I'm mean she's a really hot writer. She got me started on this whole blogging thing, even though we've never met. Anyway. She had this blog, or has. But last year she disappeared for a while. There was this big mystery and all, blogosphere search parties were sent out. She came back, briefly. Made a few posts. Then boom! She was gone again.
The silence was deafening. That was December.
So, anyway, I just noticed that she made a post on Aug. 11. There's no explanation as to where she's been. What's she's been doing. Why she hasn't been posting. Nada. Just this obscure post. Then nothing else for the last 19 days.
So mysterious. I love it.
Bravo Tequila Mockingbird! Bravo Julia!
Technorati tags: Blogging
Saturday, July 29, 2006
On my trip to the mailbox, I found it empty and my heart sank a little. I was so counting on that check to arrive today. So I went back into the house and busied myself with a whole lotta nothin' and tried to put it out of my mind. Yes, I need the money, and rent's due in a few days, but I'm no more cash poor this month than I have been the last several. I'll survive. It's not like I'm starving.
But I was hungry. So I stepped out to head to bank to withdraw some more money from the ATM, all the while wondering which bill I would pay late so I could afford a cheeseburger. On a whim, I decided to go by the mailbox one more time. It was empty before. Maybe I just checked the box too early and the mail hadn't arrived yet. After all, how many days are there when I don't receive at least one bill or piece of junk mail?
And there it was. Envelope with a familiar zipcode. I rushed back into the house to open it. And sure enough, the check was there. And not for the discounted price I thought I might be getting for the ring, but the full asking price (minus the store's 10 percent commission).
So I am in the mood to celebrate. After a trip to two banks -- the first one was out of deposit envelopes -- and a stop at a burger joint, I headed out to begin my celebration at the most obvious place I could think of: Borders bookstore.
Last night I finished reading a Stephen King book that I bought a couple of months ago when heading out on a business trip. It was book six of his Dark Tower saga. I remember vividly reading the first three books of the series. But I don't know if I read the fourth or fifth installments or not. I'd have to check my bookshelf. But reading the sixth one reinvigorated my interest in the characters, and the quest, we all embarked on so long ago. As I finished the 6th book, it was apparent that the next installment would be the last, and perhaps Kings' last work altogether. Heck, if King can even consider giving up his writing muse (he writes in "Song of Susannah: The Dark Tower VI" that he might retire at the end of The Dark Tower series) then I can certainly give up a simple blog.
Anyway, after a little research I found out the the seventh and final installment is already out and soon to be out in paperback, so I headed to Borders to see if I could find it. I did, eventually, after traipsing all over the store. My mission when I walked in was to find one specific book. I walked out with four. I think I just reminded myself why I don't go into bookstores very often. It's like crack cocaine or something.
So, soon I will crack open a new book and start a new chapter. But this my friends, as advertised, is the end of this chapter and this tale. I have to tell you I have greatly missed coming here already. And I feel the pull to post quite strongly, or at the very least to write -- something -- but it's finally shape has not yet come to me. And it just doesn't feel like this would be the right place to launch that new story. This was a place of healing for me, and I am eternally grateful for having found this place and the caretakers and visitors who came by to aid in my healing. But a sick person doesn't stay in the hospital after they are well just because that's where they got better. Well, I can't stay here either.
When I bought that ring it was the symbol of love and a promise of forever. Then that love was betrayed and the ring was returned to me. At that point all I had was the raw emotion of pain and the symbol for a love that I was then still feeling at its height. The pain eventually faded. As did the feelings of love. But for a long time the ring remained, it's empty center a bitter reminder of something lost or missing. Well, the one that ring once wound around is no longer something missing in my life. A part of my past and part of what has made me who I am to be sure, but no longer a source of longing. I feel whole and happy and reinvigorated. I am living life and ready for the opportunity to love again. And I may have already found that too.
So good riddance to the ring and a sad but fond farewell to by friends at the Fishwrap. May you all find the love and adventures you seek. I'm off to celebrate. Perhaps with a nice premium tequila and a fine cigar. Or maybe a nice red wine and curling up with a new book. Or maybe just a nice walk on a cool summer night. Maybe I should check my Powerball numbers too.
You never know, today could end up being the best day of my life so far!
The world is full of prospects and possibilities. I'm off to explore some of them.
Technorati tags: Blogging
Sunday, June 18, 2006
If all goes well, I may finally be getting rid of a 14-karat gold and diamond albatross that's been hanging around my neck for more than two years.
I found out last week that someone has made an offer on the ring I have been trying to sell on consignment. The ring is a ring that I bought as an engagement ring in December 2003. The ring was given back to me two years ago this month. It took quite a while to decide what to do with it. I didn't admit it to myself at the time, but I'm pretty sure I held onto it for as long as I did in some sort of false hope that the woman I had given it to would want it back. Want me back. I finally decided to sell it when I knew with all my being that I didn't want her back. That, and I needed cash. I was broke.
Well, I still haven't got any cash out of the deal, and the offer on the ring, which isn't officially finalized yet, is less than I was asking and far, far less than I paid for the ring initially. And I'm still broke and really want to be done with the whole affair and put it all behind me -- lock, stock and facet.
When I found out about the offer, I knew I would make a blog post about it, about the closing of that chapter of my life. But I quickly came to learn something else. I got this overwhelmingly strong feeling that it would be my last blog post here.
Back when Digital Fishwrap was launched in December 2004, I wrote in the first post that "I can't say there will be a theme to this blog, or even a cohesive thread running through it. ...
I merely seek a little better understanding of life and a better way to live it."
But there has been a theme running through this blog and that is of a man who lost love and is trying to learn how to live again. The better understanding I sought was how to move on.
I mentioned the former fiancee and the ring in the first post too, detailing how I had the theme music for "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly," as my ringtone for her on my cell phone. I wrote, "Perhaps that's a story for another post: How the symbol of our relationship went from a diamond ring to 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.' " Well, the ringtone is still in the phone, but her number is long gone and mine has changed.
Sure, there have been posts on here about a lot of other topics. Early on that was probably as much to convince myself that I was moving on as anything else. Later, I actually found other things I was compelled to write about. My daughter and the relationship I have, or am working to try to have, with her has probably been a pretty visible subplot.
Somewhere along the line I found a voice -- tone deaf and off pitch as it may may be -- and I had fun with the site. It got me writing again at a time when I wasn't writing much. Now, I'm writing more outside this space and the writing here has grown infrequent, tired and forced.
The time has come to turn my attention to new things, to different things. Perhaps I may resurface in the blogosphere again, with a new site and a new theme. But not this one.
I hate goodbyes, as perhaps the whole "theme" of this site has illustrated in documenting a two-year journey to say goodbye to a life I no longer have and a person I no longer am. So I really hate to say goodbye to the loyal dozen or so folks who have regularly checked in on this site, from locations near and far, including some old, dear friends and some new ones made through reading each other's blog posts.
I did consider coming out of the blogging closet as it were, revealing the man behind the G-man, and maybe taking this blog in a new direction. But that just didn't feel right. If I've learned nothing else in the last couple of years, with the end of the most emotionally serious relationship and a change in jobs and a major relocation, I have learned that sometimes we have to say goodbye to something before we can move on to the next thing.
I also thought about deleting this blog site completely. Just disappearing and being all mysterious. But I think I'll leave it up, at least for a while. There are some posts here I actually was quite proud of, typos and all, even though I never did compile a "favorite posts" list like I considered at one time. Maybe I'll back up a few of them onto a disk somewhere to read what a miserable schmuck I was back when.
But mostly I need to leave it up so all the people searching for "heart-shaped nipples," "nocturnal nose bleeds," "Barry Manilow," "Apollonia's tits," and "naked pool boys" can stumble on the site and wonder what the fuck this wacky site is all about.
I hope along the way something you've read here made you smile or laugh, even if you were laughing at me.
Thanks for the comments, for sharing part of my journey and for being part of my therapy. I am appreciative and grateful.
Well, except for you people who only came for the heart-shaped nipples.
Perverts! (E-mail me. We'll talk.)
Update: It has been well over a month since I wrote this post, and guess what? I still haven't got the money from the fucking ring. I swear that fucking thing will never go away.
I have been trying for weeks to get in touch with the people at the jewelry story that is supposed to be selling the ring. I called one day a few weeks ago on a Friday afternoon and the woman I've been dealing with in this saga wasn't there. Apparently the store was closing, or already closed. Obviously the reason the place hasn't been able to sell that damn ring is they are never open! Maybe the store is a hobby or something, because they seem to have limited hours and limited days of the week when anyone is even there. Obviously, I didn't notice that when I was living in that town, because I was working a swingshift, so I could pop in there at midday and transact my business before heading to work. Of course anyone who actually has anything approaching a normal job is not a customer there.
Anyway, The woman I talked to suggested I call back the following Monday. The problem is, I work during the week, during those few limited hours the store is open (life from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or something). And I would always forget to call over lunch. I would remember that I had not called when I got home from work each day and was walking to my mailbox and realized there was no check in there.
Finally, one day this week, I remembered to call during the middle of the day, and got the woman I've been dealing with. But apparently the woman who writes the checks has been out on some sort of family emergency. She was supposed to be back by end of this week or next. So the jewelry shop lady tells me that the check should go out next week and she will call me when it does.
So, we'll see if she calls and if the check actually comes. If she had not told me the check was coming, I was determined to have them just ship the ring to me so I could sell it myself, or toss it in the Willamette River, or something. Maybe I could take it to bars, toss it up on the bar and tell any woman who asked about it a sob story to see if they would take pity on the "broken" man with an expensive ring, and no finger to put it on.
Frankly I'd rather have the cash. Besides, there's another woman in my life who already knows the real sob story, and it's looking like maybe, just maybe, if I haven't so offended God that he pushes me further, she may be moving quite a bit closer to my current home. And maybe we might actually get to spend some time together. I don't want to jinx it. But I'm optimistic. And I don't think she would care for a slightly used piece of jewelry, no matter how well things go between us and how understanding she may be.
So my attempt to wrap up the Fishwrap, not to mention the whole failed engagement saga, in a nice little bow didn't quite work out the way I had planned. But then again, life rarely works out the way we think it will, does it? And that's part of what makes it exciting and interesting. The end of every chapter, every story every blog post isn't really an end. It's just the beginning of something else, the epilogue. The story beyond and behind the story.
Sometimes when we read someone else's story, we are left to wonder what happened after the final chapter. And we are left to write our own epilogue to the story penned by someone else. So, if you bother to write an epilogue to this saga, do me a favor. Make it a happy ending.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
The little message that comes with this verification thingy tells me that my blog has characteristics of a spam blog.
Can someone tell me what about this blog, seems like a spam blog? I don't think I've ever submitted posts about erectile disfunction or ways to make your penis larger, which seems to be characteristics of ever other e-mail floating through cyberspace.
I don't think I'm happy about that. No, I know I'm not happy about this.
Technorati tags: Blogging
Sunday, June 11, 2006
For some reason that fleeting encounter, that little image of a boy riding his bicycle on training wheels took me back to that time in my childhood when I was learning to ride a bike.
I imagine most kids learn those things from their parents. Aren't dads supposed to be the ones who teach us things like that, especially teaching sons things like that?
Well, my dad didn't teach me how to ride a bike. We didn't play catch in the yard. There was just never time for such things. The seasons when the weather was nicest for outdoor activities were my dad's busiest times of year with his work. He was up and gone long before I got out of bed, and he often didn't get home until well after sundown.
My first encounter learning to ride a bike happened when I was probably 8 or 9. We were at a friend's house in town and the boys in that family, even those younger than me, all knew how to ride bikes. They decided to become my tutors. So I climbed up on a bike, put my feet on the pedals, and they pushed me a long. I was terrified. Telling them not to let go, over and over. Being bratty boys, they swore they wouldn't let go and did anyway, for a brief period of time, only telling me afterward.
So I got braver and they let go for longer. There was the inevitable crash, but no major injuries. And I was hooked on the thrill of riding a bike. So, I started bugging my dad to get me one.
And he did. But I was not along to help pick out my new (used) two-wheeler. The one he picked out was purple, with a banana seat and, appropriately, training wheels. But it was also a girl's bike. It even came with a white basket on the front of it adorned with flowers. I was mortified then and every time I had occasion to ride my bike with friends from then on.
How could my dad get me a girl's bike?
Fortunately, the basket was removed, but there was no mistaking the fact that the bar -- I don't know what the technical description of it would be, but we used to call the bar across the top of a bike's frame the nut-cracker bar -- was missing. Well, it wasn't missing exactly, but it was curved low so it was just above the lower part of the frame. It was more of an ankle-cracker bar.
My dad's logic was that it would be easier for me to learn to ride a bike like that. Easier to get on and off. Never mind the emotional scars that my fragile gender identity would endure.
I was determined to learn to ride the shit out of that bike and outgrow it as quickly as possible. But we didn't have a ton of money and I had to make due with that bike for a long time. Fortunately, we lived out in the country so most of my friend from school never had to see me pedal past their house on my girlie bike.
When I did finally get a new bike, and pass my old one down to my brother, I got the most butch bike I could find, long before I knew what butch meant. It was all black, BMX style, with knobby tires and a funky shock absorber thingy on the front forks. This was a boy's bike. A bike for taking over jumps. Of course the thing was heavy as shit, and you had to make sure to hank up hard on the handlebars at just the right moment when flying off a ramp, or risk landing nose-first into the ground.
But seeing that little boy on his bike reminded me of that first bike and learning to ride. I suppose it would be easy to resent my father for getting me that bike, which I hated. But now I realize, his heart was in the right place, as it usually was. He just wanted to make learning to ride easier. Maybe, as the youngest of seven kids, he learned to ride on a bike that had belonged to one of his older sisters. I don't know. I just know that easier isn't always better.
It isn't always easier either.
Technorati tags: Childhood
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
I just wanted to check in and make sure the rapture didn't happen while I was sleeping. No?
My 91-year-old grandmother has been predicting it "any day now" for as long as I can remember. But then again Christ's disciples were sure it would happen in their lifetimes too.
So far, so good I guess.
Happy 6/6/06 everyone.
Technorati tags: 666
Monday, June 05, 2006
But now it's different. For some reason I just dread going to bed. It's not like I hate my room, or my mattress or my bedding. I just hate going to bed.
I think the thing is that I hate going to bed alone.
You'd think I would be used to it by now. It's been two apartments, two different mattresses and two years since I've shared a bed with anyone. The funny thing is I've been sleeping alone again now for longer than my last relationship itself lasted.
I think I've put all the other baggage of that particular failed relationship behind me. The grieving for the person and the relationship itself has run its course. But I miss having someone to snuggle up with at night. Even on nights I had trouble falling asleep I would just lie there and listen to the person beside me breathing. Watching her sleep and listening to her breathing, slow was soothing, felt warm. Relaxing. In spite of myself, at some point, I would fall asleep.
We think of sex as intimacy, but it's always struck me as much more intimate, more a sign of trust, to be able to sleep -- literally sleep with someone. To expose ourselves at our most vulnerable to another. When we are asleep. To let someone see us at our gape-mouthed, snoring, drooling, hair-tousled, talking-in-our-sleep most vulnerable is a sign of trust.
I miss that. I miss having someone to snuggle up with. I miss having that special someone to wrap my arms around to make them feel protected with the truth is they are keeping my heart safe and warm. Even at those times where you want a little space like those nights it's too warm and skin on skin contacts is just to hot and uncomfortable to sleep. It's still reassuring to know someone is there, a few inches away, an easy reach when things turn too chilly or too dark. Sometimes we all need someone to chase away the monsters. The really scary monsters only come out at night, when the world is quiet.
It's pretty comical in retrospect. I used to dread sharing a bed with someone. Does she hog the covers? Do I? Will my snoring keep her awake? But mostly I like having room to spread out.
I remember one girlfriend years ago used to be a real snuggler and it drove me nuts. I needed a little space in order to sleep. Room to stretch and roll and toss and turn. I had been used to sprawling out all over the bed in my single days. But with her, there was no chance of that.
She had one of those old-fashioned waterbeds, with the padded siderails that surrounded a sloshing, bad of water that sent tidal wives across the mattress every time someone moved. It was a big bed, and we'd start out on our respective sides of the bed, but throughout the night she kept up the invasion of my territory and I would execute a tactical retreat. By morning I would end up sleeping half on the siderail and half down in the gap between the rail and the so-called mattress. Another person, or two, could have fit on the open mattress on the other side of that fucking, miserable bed.
Back then, I used to dread it when my girlfriend would tell me it was time to go to bed. What? Were we attached at the hip? Did we have to go to bed at the exact same time every night? The truth of the matter was I wanted some alone time. I wanted out of the relationship actually, I just hadn't worked up the nerve to tell her yet, or maybe even to admit it to myself.
And there were times in my last relationship I must admit I resented the whole going to bed at the same time thing. I was a night person and my ex was not. She could fall asleep literally as soon as her head hit the pillow. I used to think that was just an expression, but apparently some people have that gift. And I did see it as a gift. I was often jealous of her ability to just turn everything off and fall sound asleep so quickly. I've never been able to do that, not even as a child. Not unless I drive myself to the very brink of exhaustion. Anyway, I'd lay with her for a while and she'd fall asleep sometimes in the middle of a conversation. I'd watch TV, or watch her sleep, or both, resisting the urge to get back up and do something. Somehow my breathing would synchronize with hers. I would relax. And then, somewhere in the quiet, I'd fall asleep.
Maybe I can just get one of those baby monitors and find a woman who lives in range who will let me listen to her sleep. They even make the things with little cameras now, so I could even watch her sleep.
Or would that be just be a little too creepy?
Technorati tags: Insomnia
Friday, June 02, 2006
It struck me as odd because of all the reported bad blood between the Chicks and country radio (I wrote about the controversy in this post, if you haven't been following it). I don't know if KWJJ, The Wolf-FM, has been playing anything off the Dixie Chicks new album, but station executives apparently didn't have any qualms about taking money for a commercial promoting the concert.
I really like the station, but I just haven't been in much of a country phase, so I haven't had The Wolf tuned in much of late. Thus I have no clue if they've been playing the new Chicks album or not. The station does have a survey on their Web site asking if they should play the new CD, which leads me to believe they haven't been playing it, but are thinking about it. Maybe the fact that the album, "Taking the Long Way," is No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and Billboard Country Album charts after its first week of release has the station ready to reconsider. If you're curious, response to the poll is leaning 53 percent to 47 percent in favor of playing the CD. The station does list the Dixie Chicks on its artist list on its Web site.
Anyway, like I said, I've been listening to this other station lately, KYCH Charlie FM. (By the way, what's the deal with all these cutesy radio stations names that barely have any relation whatsoever to their station call letters? How do you get The Wolf out of KWJJ or Charlie out of KYCH?) The station plays an interesting mix of music. They call it random. And it's sort of like listening to an iPod, liberally loaded with music from from a wide range of popular styles and time periods, but not stuff you hear much on radio these days. Sort of like mix to the max. A sample from the stations playlist this evening includes: "The Sweetest Thing" by U2, "Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright, "I Hate Myself for Loving" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, "Wanna be Startin' Somethin'" by Michael Jackson and "I Want to Know" by Foreigner.
But lately I've been getting bored with that too, so I've been flipping around the dial.
This afternoon, on my way home from work, I was flipping around the dial again and landed on The Wolf again, and the afternoon drivetime DJ Scot Simon had a call-in contest where the winner could choice between Dixie Chicks concert tickets or movie tickets to see "The Break-Up," the new Vince Vaughn-Jennifer Anniston flick and tickets to the Woodburn Dragstrip. Ah, the drag races, now that's some redneck heaven for ya! Simon said since he didn't know how people were feeling about this whole Dixie Chick thing, he wanted to offer callers a choice of prizes.
You win the contest and you take the concert tickets, right? I tried calling in, because I knew the answer to his little trivia question, but couldn't get through. The woman who did and won the contest -- you guessed it -- took the movie tickets.
Tickets for the Dixie Chicks concert go on sale tomorrow morning. Why they are going on sale June 3 for a November 9 concert? Who knows. Maybe the group, and or their concert promoter, want to know early whether this tour is even gonna fly. Who the hell knows what might come up on my personal agenda between now and November? And if I buy tickets now, do I set up a date now for that concert? Hell, I could be three for four women down the relationship road by November (never mind the fact that I haven't dated in two years. Well, I did take one woman to another concert last fall, and we did end up in bed together, but that's a whole 'nother story).
I still haven't made up my mind if I'll buy tickets for the Dixie Chicks concert. Not because of the whole who-do-I-ask debate, but finances are a little tight right now. So, I might have to pass. And I think if I don't buy now it will be too late. I bet the show sells out.
Country radio and the larger country music industry machine may not have made up its mind yet whether to allow the Dixie Chicks back into the fold. And the Dixie Chicks are sure making noises like they don't really want back. But the fact of the matter is, the group has a country-based sound. It is what it is and they are what they are, whether industry execs wearing ties, or radio programmers wearing whatever the fuck they wear, or hicks with W bumper stickers on the bumper of the pickup trucks choose to accept it. In the great tradition of the U.S. economy, the market will decide who buys what. That's free enterprise at work. And that's a concept any self-respecting Republican has got to love.
Technorati tags: Dixie Chicks
The dream wasn't bad, or what I would classify as a nightmare, but it was unsettling for some strange reason.
I was in a large room in London, participating in a panel discussion that was being either broadcast online or recorded for online distribution. I was on the panel with a couple of podcasters, some other dude who resembled a high school classmate, and me. We were all gathered around a large, rectangular table.
I kept trying to interject into the discussion, but couldn't get a word in edgewise. I kept stuttering and stammering. "But, but," but no one would yield. They just kept talking over me.
Loitering in the background was a woman. She was slender with blondish hair. She was someone I knew well for a long time and have a fond affection for. The time expired for the panel discussion, without me being able to make a single point to the panel or the wider audience and I was frustrated. As the panelist, including me, were getting ready to leave, I walked up to the woman and talked to her.
I was saying goodbye and knew it would be a long time before we would see each other again. I gave her a big hug and started to get choked up. I made some reference to parting ways again. Obviously we had been separated before and were about to be torn apart again.
As I am making my way out the door with the other panelists, the discussion continues, and finally I am able to interject a sentence or two into the conversation, but still keep getting interrupted, unable to complete a thought.
That's when I woke up. One of the ear buds for my iPod was still in my ear and iPod was still playing one of the Podcasts I subscribe too, Top of the Pods, which is based in England. I fell asleep listening to one podcast earlier in the night and slept through several others before waking from my dream.
Even in my groggy, sleep deprived state I realized the topic being discussed on the podcast was the very discussion I had been dreaming about.
I put the iPod on the nightstand, plugged it into the charger and tried to go back to sleep. My mind involuntarily started reviewing the dream.
I realized then that I didn't know who the woman in my dream was. I knew who she was when I was dreaming. Or at least I thought I did. But for the life of me I couldn't place her when I was awake. Her name was on the tip of my tongue. I could just about call her face to mind. But then the imagery and the name got even hazier, fading and withdrawing from my conscious mind. I realized it was lost, forever.
And I couldn't go back to sleep. I was left with this vaguely unsettled feeling, frustrated and disappointed by the lost friend (or was she a lover?) and the lost sleep. So, now here I sit at my computer realizing that my alarm clock will start to buzz at any moment.
It's going to be one of those days.
Technorati tags: Dreams
Top of the Pods
Thursday, June 01, 2006
So, it's time to rectify that oversight with installment No. 2 of the Digital Fishwrap Rainbow Roll.
I don't remember when I first heard it, but somewhere along the line, probably when I was a teen, I learned that Wednesday was Hump Day.
I don't know who first came up with this concept, but it was fucking brilliant. Much more brilliant than the Rainbow Roll blog post idea. Hump day is memorable, because everyone from school kids to working stiffs can related to getting over the "hump" and being well on the way to the weekend. Whoever came up with it was probably just looking for a reason to go out drinking on a Wednesday night after work. But the other thing Hump day has going for it is the obvious euphemism for sex. So maybe the creator was looking for a reason to get laid in the middle of the week. Who knows, but the phrase has stuck, thanks to tittering youngsters, horny individuals and sackers everywhere.
But for me, the meaning of Wednesday is changing. it has evolved from Hump Day to Grump Day, because I am becoming a short-fused grouchy fuck on Wednesdays.
Wednesday may not be the worse day of my week, but it is certainly my grumpiest day of the week. Perhaps it's because I reach a certain critical mass of of sleep-deprivation due to insomnia which doesn't mesh well with my current schedule. Yesterday was no different.
I drive through several school zones on my way to work. And if I have the misfortune of leaving for work at the wrong time, I end up having to wait for a school bus at an intersection down the street from where I live. The bus loads up with about 4 billion small children from the apartment complex adjacent to the bus stop and the nearby neighborhood. Of course, grade school children take their sweet time boarding the bus. God help me if I'm in a hurry.
When that happens, I have to make up time en route, which means dodging crossing guards and more small children on the way to work. And of course the later I am the more likely I am to hit every red light, encounter a long line at Mickey D's making it an ordeal to get my Egg McMuffin and coffee, find the crossing guards escorting children through crosswalks and when the deities are really pissed off at me, there is unfailingly a train slowly traversing the railroad crossing that intersects my route.
Days I couldn't give a shit what time I get to work, the whole commute routine takes maybe 10 minutes counting McMuffin munching. On the bad days, the commute seems to take an eternity.
How many points would I get for taking out a crossing guard? Is there a bonus for snagging a rugrat by the backpack on my bumper?
I also regularly pass through another school zone on my normal route to lunch. Part of the reason I opted to name Wednesday "Grump Day" was due to something that happened on my way to lunch yesterday.
I was late going to lunch yesterday, a sign that all was not well with my day, putting me in a bit of a sour mood as it was. I was in a hurry, of course, but slowed to the requisite 20 mph through the school zone, which is normally devote of pedestrians during my lunch run. But on this day, I was shocked to find school children all over the fricking place, heading home.
It was 1:45 p.m.
What the fuck? Since when do kids get out of school, elementary school kids, get out of school at 1:45? And this was no early kindergarten class letting out. These kids looked to be from a rage of ages.
No child left behind, my ass. How are these little fuckers, mean treasures, supposed to learn a fucking thing if they are only in school about a minute and a half a day? Keep the brats in the classroom! Teach 'em somethin' for fuck sake! Worried about juvenile delinquency? No fucking wonder if the kids have three or four hours to find trouble in the afternoon before their parents can get home from work. Instead of giving kids 2-3 hours of homework a night, I have a novel idea. Why not keep them in school for a full day and let them do some work in class!?!? Shit-almighty! I'm using exclamation points and I hate fucking exclamation points!!
I can hear my teacher friends who read this blog screaming bloody murder right now. They can't wait to corner me to tell me how full of shit I am and how long their days are already and many hours they have to spend after the kids leave doing this thing and that thing and the other thing. Well, fuck that! Keep the kids in class. Grade papers while the kids are working on other papers or taking tests. Keep school children in school, keep school work in school and do your work in school and maybe our youth will learn something beyond all the sex, drugs, violence and swearing references in the latest rap song and how to cheat at their new Playstation or Xbox game.
When I was in school we were in class every day until 3:15 p.m. And we didn't have all these days off and half-days off for in-service. What the hell is in-service anyway? It's probably just a private party circle jerk for teachers.
God help me, I'm starting to sound like my father. I can tell already I'm going to be a grumpy, grouchy old fuck!
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
The sun was shining, making the Pacific Ocean sparkle like the rarest of gems. The outgoing tide revealed a bounty of treasure in the sand. Starfish, in vibrant hues of orange and purple, clung in clusters to the craggy rocks on the edge of the surf. And there, walking in the wet sand, was my daughter. Head down. Hair, in tight waves of curl, obscuring her face, periodically revealing a bright smile or a concentrated stare as she combed the sand for agates. Resting on her haunches. Delicate fingers reaching just beyond her feet for tiny rocks. Her black polished toenails looking like smooth sea pebbles resting atop her tan toes and white flip-flops.
There are signs there of the little girl, on the verge of turning 6, sitting in rapt attention watching the Lion King parade down Disneyland's Main Street. But now, at 15, it is easy to see the young woman she will become. The young woman that she has already become.
It was just about the perfect day, shared with family. Beachcombing. Playing games. Soaking up the sun on a day that had been forecast for rain. Watching a whale spouting and breeching the surface of the sea a short distance from the shoreline in front of from the large picture windows of a hillside retreat.
For years I lived a long distance from my daughter, getting caught up with her life in week-long vacations two or three times a year. I told myself that at least the time we spent was quality time. Morning til night in concentrated bursts, trying to make up for all those times I was not there. Seeing how much she had grown. Enjoying each new stage of her life and trying hard not to think about all the stages I had missed.
We drew closer and closer every visit. The "I love yous" and hugs and kisses were no longer forced and were only occasionally awkward. The became real, sincere, heartfelt and warm. Each visit just got better and better and we grew closer and closer. But as the teen years hit and took hold I started to feel that slipping away. She was carving her own personal time with her own friends out of this planned family time, as teenagers are wont to do. That's when I knew it was time -- past time -- to come home. And it was just about a year ago now that I was finally able to make that happen.
The visits have been more frequent over the last 12 months. More milestones shared. Junior high graduation. Meeting her friends. I met one boyfriend and just as I was getting accustomed to his name and his presence he was gone. Then there was a new school and new friends and another new boyfriend. Halloween and Christmas. Her birthday and other family birthdays. Family gatherings and celebrations. Helping an aunt move. Normal life stuff.
But those magic moments have been more fleeting. A second or a moment or a minute amid the rush. Looking back on my own childhood, I suppose my parents must have experience something similar and we lived under the same roof for 18 years. Life can't be all splender and bliss.
But when you aren't there for so many moments, large or small, you spend a lot of time wondering what you've missed and missing imagined wonders.
But that day, that Saturday two Saturdays ago, was one of the special days. Not because of any single big thing, but hours upon hours of little ones. And because of that brown-eyed girl with curls and a smile as warm as the May sun.
Technorati tags: Absentee father
Sunday, May 28, 2006
I had purchased and downloaded their new single, "Not Ready to Make Nice," from iTunes a few weeks ago. Although I had only listened to it a time or two, I had heard enough in the song to tell me that I wanted to hear the new CD. Lead singer Natalie Maines' vocals sounded as powerful as ever and I've been a fan of their music for years.
I didn't think too much about the controversy that had surrounded the group a few years ago. Maines, a Texas native, pissed off a lot of people with a comment during a concert in Europe where she said: "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." Her comments came at a concert in London on March 10, 2003, just 10 days before Bush launched Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Country music radio and many fans reacted with outrage. Dixie Chicks music was pulled from the air on stations all over the country.
Now, here we are three years later and armed U.S. troops are still in Iraq, still fighting and dying, and Bush's popularity has faded tremendously, as has U.S. citizen support for the war in Iraq.
But the Dixie Chicks' music is still not back on radio. Not their monster hits from years past, nor their newest single. According to an article in the May 29 issue of Time magazine, country fans and radio stations are still holding a grudge.
One country music radio programmer who was quoted, but not named, in the Time magazine cover story said the new single is "a four-minute fuck-you to the format and our listeners. I like the Chicks and I won't play it."
Well, anyone who won't listen to the Dixie Chicks, or play their music, or buy their album because of their politics is welcome to their opinion, but I find it all pretty funny, is a sad sort of way.
I don't often talk about politics on my blog or in my personal life, because I think people get stupid when it comes to politics. Everything in partisan politics get painted with a very broad brush, but the real artistry of statesmanship, and life, is in the details.
Life doesn't fit in tidy packages. Republican or Democrat. Red state or Blue state. Conservative or liberal. Pro-life or pro-choice. NRA or anti-gun. Rock or country. Pop or rap. East or West. North or South. White or black.
The last few times I've registered to vote I have not picked a political party to affiliate with. The truth is, I don't feel either of the major political parties represents me. I can be quite conservative on some issues and quite liberal on others. I certainly don't fit into the base of support for either party. And frankly the parties don't seem to know what they believe in either. The Republican party, which austensibly believes in smaller government, has in the current administration eroded personal liberties and allowed government to snoop on its citizens in the name of national security. And Democrats can't seem to do anything to set their own agenda except to be against whatever Republicans are espousing.
But what I find most amusing about this whole flap over the Dixie Chicks and their music is that people get so fired up over it, and yet it's a safe bet that many of them who get so passionate in their support for, or boycott of, a singing group's music probably don't even bother to vote with regularity.
Entertainers, like the rest of us, are entitled to their opinion. And thankfully freedom of speech, though perhaps an endangered species, is still allowed in this country. However, that does not mean that freedom always comes without pain or sacrifice or the slings and arrows thrown from others.
Another irony of this whole Dixie Chicks flap is that before the whole dust-up over the comment about the president, the Chicks and singer Toby Keith also got into a running public pissing match starting in August 2002 over comments Maines made about Keith's song "Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue (The Angry American)" in which Keith tells terrorists that the United States will fight back and put a boot in their ass.
Maines called the song ignorant. Keith shot back at Maines' abilities as a songwriter.
The irony is that Keith and Maines and the rest of the Chicks may be a lot closer in their politics than one might imagine. Keith, who is a Democrat, has also expressed reservations about the war in Iraq, even though he has been unflagging in his support for U.S. troops and was supportive of the U.S. action in Afghanistan.
Not all country music singers are Republicans. Tim McGraw is another high-profile Democrat in country music. And believe it or not, not all country music fans are Republicans either.
And that's the whole point. Stereotypes don't always fit.
Now the question is, where will the Dixie Chicks fit in the American music landscape. The group features a Southern twang and country instrumentation, but will country music accept them back? Or are they pop now? The Time magazine article says their new album "may be the best adult pop CD of the year." But the magazine also asks the question "Will anyone buy it?"
Well, sure some people will buy it, but will it sell millions of copies like previous albums have? That still remainst to be scene. The Chicks themselves seem prepared to accept a smaller fan base.
"I'd rather have a smaller following of really cool people who get it, who will grow with us as we grow and are fans for life, and people that have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith," said Martie Maguire of the Dixie Chicks. "We don't want those kinds of fans. They limit what you can do."
Well, Martie, I have news for you. I've retired my five-disc changer, but my iPod does have Dixie Chicks, Toby Keith and Reba McEntire in it. Of course it has other stuff too, like Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Aerosmith. There rock, pop, blues, alternative and country
For me, I don't pick my music based on politics any more than I vote for politicians based on their musical tastes.
I still need to listen to the album a few more times to determine whether it will become a favorite, or whether it will fade into the background amid the hundreds of other CDs in my collection. But for now, it is in high rotation on the ol' iPod. If I like it enough I may even consider buying a ticket to their concert when they come to Portland in November. And if I don't like it enough, my music and concert money will be spent elsewhere, based on how the music resonates with me and my life, not pampered singers want me to vote.
Technorati tags: Music
I got rousted from my bed by the sound of a voice over a PA system, telling someone to come out with their hands up. I thought maybe I better get up and see if I was the one supposed to be coming out.
It turns out it was one of the neighbors, who didn't want to come out, for whatever reason. After repeated warnings over the loudspeaker, the cops sent in the police dogs (I counted at least two on scene) and about 8 or 10 officers with guns drawn.
Now the fire department is here, probably to delivery emergency medical care for dog bites.
I've lost track of how many times the cops have been in the complex in the lest than a year I've lived here, in just my little corner of the complex. Who knows how often they get called in on the other side of the complex where I can't see or hear the commotion. There was a fatal shooting here not so long ago.
Have I mentioned how much I love living here?
All the drunks driving home from the bars in town will have a lot fewer cops to dodge this morning, thanks to the commotion here.
Update: 2:20 a.m. An ambulance was brought in and young girl was brought out to it on a stretcher. She seemed alert and was sitting up, so hopefully whatever injuries she suffered were not serious.
Things seem to be quiting down now. Some of the police cruisers have left, as has a fire truck and the ambulance. Earlier I saw one person in handcuffs placed in the back of a patrol car, but that was before the police dogs and officers went in to the apartment.
Maybe things are quiting down now. So I shall try to go back to bed. Who says there's no excitement in Salem on a Saturday night?Technorati tags: Crime
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Oh, I've watched a lot of movies. I've lost untold hours -- OK, days, weeks or months maybe -- watching movies on cable. Some I've seen several times, some I missed along the pop culture highway.
But I haven't set foot inside a movie theater in more than 24 months.
I used to go to movies with some regularity, even alone. I had decided some time ago that I wasn't going to let being single, or having a weird work schedule, keep me from doing things I wanted to do.
Then for a while I had a significant other and we went to movies quite a lot. After the relationship ended it just felt lonely to even think about going to a movie alone. After I got passed that, there just haven't been many movies I was dying to see. I'm sure people would tell me I've missed some good cinema in the last couple of years, but off the top of my head I can't think of any films I really wanted to see.
Oh, wait, there was at least one film that I wanted to see and did go see: "Brokeback Mountain". So, I guess my whole not-setting-foot-in-a-theater line doesn't hold up to scrutiny. But the primary point is the same. I just haven't been going to movies, or had any real desire to go either.
But in the last few days I've been seeing some previews for a movie that has piqued my interest. It's called "The Lake House," which reunites "Speed" stars Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. But it's not the stars that is the draw. It's the story, or at least what I can glean about the story from the movie trailer and details on imdb.com.
Here's the plot outline as detailed on the Internet Movie Database site: "A lonely doctor (Sandra Bullock) who once occupied an unusual lakeside home begins exchanging love letters with its newest resident, a frustrated architect (Keanu Reeves). When they discover that they're actually living two years apart, they must try to unravel the mystery behind their extraordinary romance before it's too late."
The storyline resonates with me. I can relate. It sounds a little like a story my ladyfriend Brat and I have lived off and on for a long while. In our case it's not time, but distance, that has kept us apart. We've had a prolonged correspondence and conversation across time and space. Perhaps there is something profoundly intimate about corresponding with someone, whether in letters written with ink on paper or in real time with pixels on a screen.
I've long known that I am better at expressing many things, particularly emotional things, in writing rather than with the spoken word. But I suspected maybe I was just weird or verbally inept. But for centuries, lovers separated by distance or duty have writing to lovers and loved ones with stunning clarity and eloquence. Perhaps technology took that away from us. Or perhaps technology is now giving that power and purity back to us.
Oh sure, there is a proliferation of typographical and grammatical errors all over the Internet and blogosphere. But there is some stunning writing out there as well. People write about the things and people and events most important to them. They write with passion, wit, style and flare. People let us see their heart and that's a powerful, poignant thing.
Brat has let me see her heart, even though she has tried to hide it or protect it from time to time.
And isn't that what we are all looking for? Someone to connect with? Someone who we understand and appreciate and who gives us those same things back? In an exchange of embraces, emotions and bodily fluids, of course.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
I'm not talking about wanting a drink, or even "needing a drink." I'm talking about wanting to drink well beyond the point of inebriation.
Fucked-up drunk, that's what I mean.
It's one of those days.
The rational side of my brain tells me that means drinking today would be a bad idea, given that urge.
The other side of my brain tells me I need to disconnect the wiring to the rational side of my brain and find a liquor store.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Fortunately, I got away with it.
The irony is, just moments before I had been thinking about another criminal incident from my past that I had committed without getting caught.
As I was driving home from work, I spotted an Interstate 5 freeway sign. I probably see those signs every day. I have to cross under I-5 every day en route to and from work. So, why the sign reminded me of a 12-year-old theft on this particular drive, I'm not sure.
But spotting the sign got me to thinking about the interstates I've lived near throughout my life. Interstates 80, 84, I-5 and as they call them in California, the 15 and the 10.
The early years of my life were spent along the 19th Century equivalent of an interstate freeway, the Oregon Trail, in a small town in Nebraska. But this town wasn't near a modern freeway. The closest interstate was Interstate 80.
When I was in grade school I moved to the other end of the Oregon Trail to a small Oregon town that was just off Interstate 80.
In 1980 Interstate 80 became Interstate 84. At the time, I thought that was pretty cool because I was set to graduate from high school in 1984. Got to love that, right? I loved it so much that in 1984, sometime around the time I graduated from high school, I pilfered an I-84 sign off a rural exit out in the middle of nowhere, otherwise known as right near my hometown. That sign became a key decoration in my dorm room, frat house room, college apartments and the first apartment I had after college.
But my first job after college didn't go so well, and I ended up getting fired. Being flat broke and unemployed I did what any prideful, self-respecting 20-something person would do. I moved back in with mommy and daddy. And I hid the evidence of my thievery in my parents' basement and forgot it was there.
Forgot, that it, until my younger brother told me it was found when my parents did some remodeling in their basement. He of course, ratted me out.
All this stuff was rattling around in my brain as I continued my trip home. After making a quick stop for an errand, I approached an intersection a couple of blocks from my apartment and slid over into the turn lane. I thought the traffic signal gods must really love me, because signal for the turn lane went green just as I was getting close to the last car in line in front of me, and there were only three cars in line ahead of me.
SWEET! I'm gonna make the light.
But the light turned yellow as the second car was in the middle of the intersection.
Fuck it. I'm goin' anyway. I can make it before the light turns red.
I didn't make it.
As I approached the crosswalk I actually quit looking at the signal light. I didn't want to see it turn red. But I knew it was read by the time I entered the intersection. I could hear the audible tone for the visually impaired in the crosswalk at the intersection chirping just outside my open car window.
I felt a pang of guilt, but only a small one, for my traffic infraction.
Small, until I looked in my rearview window. There, directly behind me waiting for the light was a city patrol car.
I just knew I was going to see that patrol car on my rear bumper, lights flashing, before I turned into my apartment complex. Or worse yet, the cop would follow me into the complex, so my nosey neighbor could see me getting cited for breaking the law.
But, the cop never turned down my street and I got away, free and clear.
The G-man is just your average, ordinary scofflaw untouched by the hands of justice.
Well, except for that one time.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
I was so tired earlier this evening, I was about dozing off while talking to a friend online. OK, so perhaps putting a headset on and laying down on the couch may not have been the best idea. At one point she even gave up on me and was just going to go about her business and let me sleep.
So, I took the hint and said my goodbyes. I didn't even bother to close my IM connection. I just took off the headphones and closed my eyes. I woke up about two hours later.
So, after doing a few little chores, I decided to head off to bed. That was sometime around midnight. Now, here it is, more than three and a half hours later, and I'm wide awake.
You'd think with all this not sleeping, there would plenty of time for making posts on here. However, I've been employing the strategy that if I'm in bed and preparing to sleep maybe I will actually fall asleep and get more rest than if I sit up half the night on the computer until I reach the point of exhaustion, which used to be one of my more frequently employed insomnia strategies. Of course that strategy worked fine when I was working a swing shift and could fall asleep at 5 a.m. and still get 8 hours sleep before getting up to go to work. That doesn't work so well on a day shift.
Is it still insomnia if you get 6-8 hours sleep?
I guess I can't complain too much. I've certainly endured more fucked up sleep patterns. Some years back, I was working a job where I had to be at work even earlier than I do now. And in that job I was putting in a ton of hours. My days went, generally like this. Go to work about 7 a.m. Work til about noon. Go home for lunch. Take a nap for about half an hour to an hour. Go back to work until about 6. Go home for dinner. Take a nap for about an hour. Go back to work until about midnight. Go home and goof around on the computer until about 2 or 3 a.m. Try to sleep until the alarm clocks (I think I needed about 3 to get me out of bed at that time) went off. Jump through the shower and head to work to start the whole cycle over again.
It was fucked up, to put it mildly. Not that anyone set those hours for me. I was just Mr. Insane Manager, wanting to kick ass, take names and conquer my little corner of the world. Fortunately, after about a year and half of that I realized that schedule would either kill me, or I would lose any grip with reality and turn homicidal on someone else's ass. I already had a couple of potential victims in mind. Also fortunately about that same time, a colleague told me about a job opening in another city. I applied and got the job before killing myself or someone else.
At least I haven't started picking out victim here. Yet. But if I ever do, and if I got arrested, whether found criminally liable or mentally incapacitated, odds are good that I could still stay here in Salem, at either the state penitentiary or state hospital.
But I'm not sure if that's really a good thing or not. I can't get my family to come visit me in my apartment in Salem, what do you think the odds would be they'd make the trip to my cell?
It might improve the love life though.
OK, yea, sleep deprivation does some fucked up shit to the brain.
I think for now I'll try to maintain my place among the unincarcerated psychotics in Salem.
Monday, April 24, 2006
And that's when it happened.
The nose bleed.
I get periodic nose bleeds. I've never plotted them out on a calendar, or compared them to phases of the moon or anything, but there are "times" when I get them. Changes in weather, like a warming or cooling. Spring and fall are notorious for such events and the visits of my nasally hemorrhagic "friend." If I get a cold, in never fails, as soon as the sneezing and sniffles start getting under control, that tell-tale feeling of a runny nose will, sooner or later, run red.
Periods of stress sock me a stiff one in the proboscis too.
So, this was probably a case of the climatic arrival of spring and pulling a couple of all nighters to watch bad cable TV and my attempt to rule the electronic baseball empire on EA Sports' MVP Baseball game.
So, at 3:30 in the morning, I'm awakened from a sound sleep by the feeling of warm, thick liquid dripping inside my right nostril heading directly for my freshly changed bedsheets.
So I sprang out of bed, got the bleeding stopped, checked the sheets for bloody nasal discharge and crawled back into bed.
And then I couldn't sleep.
I couldn't sleep by 4 a.m., or 4:30 a.m. or 5 a.m.
By 6 o'clock, I decided I might as well get out of bed, because if I did manage to fall asleep, the alarm clock would not wake me it. The irony is not lost on me that my brain can ignore a blaring alarm clock when it is in the midst of slumber after days or weeks of sleep deprivation, but the first sign of a runny, or bleeding nose, while dead asleep can send my hand flying toward my face as my feet scramble for the floor and toward the bathroom, dragging my still sleeping body behind it.
The blood vessels, and the mind, work in truly warped ways in the middle of the night.
Now it is time to see if I can keep the restless mind at bay the little capillaries in my nose from popping a cork for the night. We'll see how it goes. There must be a better way to deal with this stuff. And, in the spirit of the previous post, getting laid probably wouldn't hurt the insomnia or the nose bleeds either. That's not to say it would help either, but it's worth a shot.
My routine is off.
The calendar is wrong.
For the last several years of my life, the passage of time has been measured by an array of community event related to the California desert.
There was the International Date Festival, Bob Hope Chrysler Classic golf tournament, the Pacific Life Open tennis tournament, the Kraft/Nabisco/Dinah Shore (or whatever they call that LPGA golf tournament now), Dinah Shore Weekend, the White Party, etc. For most of my recent life, that has been the calendar that marked the time from New Year's Day into spring.
Yea, I'm sure there are community events here too in Salem and Western Oregon. I hear tell of a tulip festival up the road, but that's really not my cup of floral tea. Besides I haven't seen the cycles come and go or attended events year after year, so they aren't MY events yet. And I'm not working in a place where my life and work are as closely tied to these events.
So I've become a guy out of time.
So, I need to establish a new calendar.
Well, that and getting laid probably wouldn't hurt matters either.
Monday, April 10, 2006
I got some bad news the other day. I've been anticipating a visit from someone special next weekend, but now it looks like that visit is in jeopardy. The truth is, I don't know right now if that visit is going to happen or not. Prior to all this I've been in a bit of a weird place anyway, fighting and losing one of my periodic bouts with insomnia and now this latest news has set everything to spinning.
So, yea, I'm neglecting the blog. In fact I've been thinking about taking a bit of a leave from blogging for a while, so I think I'm just going to do that until I can get some personal matters sorted out. I don't necessarily plan to stop blogging or whatever. This just is not anywhere near the top of my priority list right now. So, maybe it's best if I set it aside for a while.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
It's been a busy weekend and I'm exhausted. I should be in bed. I haven't had a decent night's sleep in so long, I'm losing track. The reason I haven't been sleeping is, well, I'm not sure, other than I've had a lot of stuff on my mind. And the reason I'm not sleeping now is that I still have a lot of stuff on my mind, and a load of clothes in the drier.
I don't know where to begin, so I'll begin with how the day has ended. A short while ago I sat on the couch, watching the end of "Grey's Anatomy" with tears streaming down my face. I'm tempted to say I'm not sure why I was crying, but that's a lie. There were a couple of story lines on the show dealing with parenthood and they got to me. In one a mother, dying of cancer, struggles with what to tell or not tell her daughter about her illness and about life. Those little things that parents so want to tell their children. Those nuggets of wisdom that sound so profound in the head but seem to sound so flat when spoken out loud.
That story line got to me because, well, my daughter turned 15 today and I have spent her lifetime trying to figure out what to say to her about so many things, to impart love and wisdom, and fall so flat when we are side by side or face to face.
The other story line is about a man who is the father of Dr. Grey, the title character on the show. The man so wants to reach out to his daughter, but doesn't know how. He left the family when she was young and doesn't know how to rekindle a long dormant relationship.
Fortunately, my daughter and I don't have a dormant relationship. It is certainly much less than I want it to be and is perhaps more than she wants as a teenage girl wanting to fit in and be cool with her friends.
I spend part of Saturday evening with my daughter and her family at a birthday party for her. I relish any time with her, like a dog begging for scraps. I find myself watching her, staring at her, trying to absorb the essence of who and what she is as a young woman. When I left there was a sense of emptiness. It's a feeling I've come to know well over the years, but never get used to. The visits are shorter now in duration but more frequent than they used to be. So that emptiness, the goodbye vacuum, is a much more frequent part of my life. And yet, not frequent enough. And I feel guilty for feeling sad after visits with her. I should be happy that I'm part of her life, right? That her family includes me in activities. That when I say I love her she responds in kind, the words not even stumbling in her throat or tripping over her teeth. Those are all good things, right?
It's been a weekend of nostalgia, remembrance and regret, lots of driving and little snatches of time with family and old friends.
Today, I woke up early, after getting home late after my daughter's birthday party, losing an hour's sleep to the time change, and drove nearly 4 hours to attend another gathering for a friend who is about ready to ship off to a war zone. Along the way, I called to wish another friend a happy birthday and learned from the ticker on CNN that a storm was bearing down on my lady friend Brat's hometown, again.
No matter where I was this weekend, I felt out of place. Like I was watching it all as if it was a performance on stage, somehow separate from it all and numb. Not because I felt nothing but because I felt too much and the nerve endings and synapses could no longer process the sensations.
And then, after talking to Brat online after her latest adventure and sitting quietly on the couch, listening to the drier tumble I watch a fictionalized account of other people's lives and the emotion overflowed, spilling out the corners of my eyes, streaming over my cheeks and pouring onto my shirt, like the waterfalls I passed today while driving through the Columbia River Gorge. Some picture postcard that would make.
It was a good day. A good weekend. It was too much and not enough. So many epiphanies on the road, listening to classic rock and seeing one of the most beautiful corners of the world. Seeing and talking to so many people I love and care about and worry about and miss in such a short span of time.
I shouldn't go so long without talking to family, friends and people who are important to me. I shouldn't go so many days without decent sleep. I shouldn't go so many days without writing here. I shouldn't drive 500 miles in a day. I shouldn't listen to so much old music on a trip home.
I really should be sleeping right now.
Monday, March 27, 2006
So, what the hell am I supposed to do with 100 pounds of dog food?
So, just why do I have so much kibble and no pooch? Good question.
There is an answer that seemed like a good reason at the time. A few months ago I was in Portland when it started snowing and sleeting. The weather was causing problems for vehicles of all types and when I found myself sliding sideways, and then backwards, up a small hill that normally I gave little thought to, I knew my pickup and I were in trouble.
Pickup trucks can be very convenient vehicles to own, especially if you ever have to haul any big, bulky items around, but if you have nothing to haul when the roads get slick, the light ass end can slide leaving you out of control and headed for disaster. So I knew I needed to pack that ass in a hurry.
So, a crept over to a department store and started roaming the aisles looking for something big, heavy and inexpensive. I got a couple of the biggest and cheapest bags of dog food I could find, and a couple of storage containers to put the big bags into, so the moisture wouldn't turn the kibble into mush, and loaded them into the bed of the truck.
With some weight in the back of the truck and creeping along at a snail's pace, I was able to get out of Portland and eventually hit ice- and snow-free roads south of the city, making it back home to Salem. I left my improvised winter weights in the back of the truck ever since.
But this weekend, I thought I might need to haul some stuff, so I needed to get rid over the bulky containers in the bed of the truck. So, I moved the storage bins into my apartment, where they still sit. I'm hoping now that winter is officially over, we won't have to deal with any freak unexpected snow or ice, but I'm not ready to bet my first born on it.
So, if I don't need to lug that junk around anymore, I need to figure out what I'm going to do with it. I am sure I can find a use for the storage bins, but first I need to get rid of the kibble.
There's never a pack of hungry dogs around when you need one.
OK, so I know I haven't been around for a while. I wonder if anyone noticed?
I took a little unplanned blog-free vacation there for a little over a week. I have lots of excuses but no real good reason. And I'll spare you all the excuses (for now anyway).
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Maybe it's the cyber sign that I should be doing something else with my evening.
Hmmm, I get errors when I try to post. Something is definitely amiss.
* Hey I can finally post this now... three and a half hours after it was written.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Regardless, this long distance stuff really sucks sometimes.
Anyway, enough of the sappy stuff. It's almost St. Patrick's Day. I don't really have any plans for the Irish holiday. I have to say I'm sort of craving some live blues music. What could be better that some blues music on St. Patrick's Day? Would work well for this whole long-distance thing too
Anyone have any recommendations?
St. Patrick's Day
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Fortunately she has family nearby, but outside the area hit by the storm, so she has relocated until power can be restored and she will be able to return to her home. A few people in the Midwest won't have homes to return to.
Monday, March 13, 2006
At first I didn't think much about it. I grew up in the Midwest, where tornado warnings were common. We had tornado drills at school, the 1970s equivalent of the old nuclear attack "duck and cover" drills. When the drill began we would all go out into the call, sit down on the floor against the brick wall, and assume the "kiss-your-ass-goodbye" position. Tornado watches and warning were regular occurrences and usually led to nothing.
But it soon became apparent, even from two time zones away, that this one might be the real deal.
I did my best to keep a level speaking voice and act nonchalant, talking about other things to not add to the anxiety. It was obvious she was prepared for the storm, with some emergency supplies gathered, and she had moved to what she estimated to be the safest part of the house.
But during our conversation, the conversation went dead. Now, we often have some technology snafus during our discussions, but given the severe weather warnings in her area, I suspected this one might be different.
I sent her a text message to her cell phone to see if I could reach her that way, asking if she had lost power. But when I didn't hear back from her after several minutes, I decided to give her a call. I suspected I might get her voice mail, but I wanted to call anyway. To my pleasant surprise, she answered and I learned that the power had in fact gone out, but fortunately cell phones were still working.
We talked for a while while she surveyed the area. It sounded like there was some damage caused, either by the actual tornado, or high winds associated with the storm. Shingles and siding were off the house, tree limb were down, power was out in the neighborhood and a police car was in the neighborhood.
We didn't talk for too long in order to leave her with battery power for later if needed. And she needed to call her mother, who had already called once because of the news reports of how close the twister way to her community.
Normally, on a Sunday night, we talk until one or the other, or both, of us needs to get to bed. So the evening was eerily quiet. Even when I went to bed, I was restless, wondering what was happening several states away? Had power been restored? Was she still OK?
Getting back up out of bed and searching the Internet for news didn't help ease a restless mind. A second storm had quite literally blown through several hours later.
I'm not sure which is worse, having life disrupted by a storm like this, or waiting for word from someone who is in an area hit by some sort of natural or man-made disaster.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
To put it mildly it was not the place I wanted to be.
It certainly wasn't where I thought I would find myself earlier in the evening.
I had driven to Portland to have dinner with my daughter, her mother and her mother's lesbian partner. We had a nice evening and a lovely meal, but shortly after my daughter abandoned the adults for the sanctuary of her bedroom, I figured it was time to go.
I've been craving a night out at a club for a while, so I decided to stop off at a bar for a drink or two before heading back to Salem. I decided to go to this bar I've visited before, not too far from where my daughter lives. I've had one nice time there, and a couple of bad experiences since, so I decided to give the place one more chance.
For the record, it is a strip club, a seedy little place that has been pretty lame the last couple of times I stopped there. On my last couple of stops there, the place had been virtually empty and hardly any dancers, so after about 3 sets, you've seen all the T&A the bar had to offer.
But Saturday night was different. The place was packed when I walked in. The place has a small bar and no cocktail waitresses, so it took a while to squeeze my way in at the bar to get something to drink. After I got a beer I went and sat down at one of the stages. There are three stages in this bar, but every time I've been in there before, which is probably 3 or 4 times, only one stage was in operation. So I sat at that stage.
But no women were dancing, except for the one woman giving a guy a lap dance in the corner. There were some women in the bar who appeared to be the dancers, including one sitting on the edge of the stage where I had sat down. But after a song or two, I realized no one was coming to dance at this stage. But about that time I noticed a dancer getting up on another stage around the corner. So I grabbed my beer and moved to the other stage.
I was one of 3 guys sitting anywhere near the edge of the stage. The rest of the men in the place, and several women, were gathering in clusters around the bar, talking. I had seen a few guys stumbling around, obviously very drunk.
There was a weird vibe in the place but I couldn't quite put my finger on what was happening. At one point I asked the dancer on the stage why all the guys in the place weren't up at the stage giving her money. She said something like "I've been wondering the same thing."
Soon her dance ended and another dancer came on stage. The next dancer was either in her mid to late 40s, or had lived a very hard life, and perhaps both. At one point she made a comment to me, as one of the few guys still at the stage that some guys off to my right were drunk. I said something inspired like, "Yea, it looks like it." To which she said something like "You should have seen it earlier when they were all here."
That stuck me as an odd comment, and I wondered what she ment by "they."
About that time a female patron, with tattoos covering her bare arms, from wrist to shoulder, started yelling at one of the male patrons. I couldn't quite make out what the argument was about, but all I heard was a lot of "Fuck you" this and "fuck you" that. Pretty soon the arguing pair, standing not 10 feet from where I'm sitting, starts attracting attention from some of the other people in the bar. There were gathering a crowd.
I turn to my left and see a guy wearing a black T-shirt standing pretty much right next to me. There is some sort of odd design on it with a guy's face and some writing. I don't know what inspired me to read the guy's shirt, but it had to be more interesting than the dancer on stage, who I swear looked like she would more travel in my mother's circle of friends than take off her clothes for a living. I realized there was a name written on the shirt.
I couldn't make out what else was on the shirt, but the name rang a bell.
Then I looked at the face in the drawing on the shirt and realized where I knew that name and face from.
Rudolf Hess, for anyone who may have slept through early and mid 20th century history in school, or slept through the 1930s and '40s, was the man who became Deputy Fuhrer in Nazi Germany.
Suddenly I saw the men surrounding me in the bar with a new clarity. They were all white men, which is not particularly unusual in a bar in Portland. Most of men in the bar, of which there were probably 30 to50, where wearing black T-shirts or some other similar dark clothing. Their heads were all shaved or nearly shaved and many of them were sported an assortment of tattoos on their arms and necks.
Yes, I had somehow managed to wander into some sort of neo-Nazi, white supremacist skinhead gathering.
I felt my pulse start to race and decided that this was my cue to beat a hasty retreat.
I got out into the parking lot and looked around for some sign that what I thought I saw was in fact real. I notice that a few of the cars in the parking lot were sporting California plates, which is unusual in Portland, but most of the cars had Oregon plates. Great, I thought, it's a fucking skinhead convention.
I looked for some obvious bumper stickers or something to prove I wasn't crazy, but nothing else immediately affirmed my suspicious. The car next to me has some sort of sticker in the back window that said WAR, but that didn't mean anything to me at the moment. It wasn't a glaringly obvious sign, like a swastika or something, which was what I most hoped, and yet dreaded, to see.
I was starting to back out when I realized someone in an SUV had parked a little too closely behind me, and I could not easily pull out of my parking spot. I wanted out of that parking lot in the worst way, but did not want to be too hasty in my departure and rip off the back bumper of some Neo-Nazi's Ford Explorer.
So, after jokeying around, pulling forward and back several time into the parking spot my truck had occupied, I finally was able to get out of my parking space and make my exit.
But all the way back to Salem, my pulse and blood pressure would never quite return to normal.
Oh, by the way, when I got home and started working on this post, I decided to do a quick Web search to see if there was some sort of Neo-Nazi gathering in Portland this weekend. One of the first things that popped up in my search for "Aryan Portland gathering" was a listing for information from the Anti-Defamation League on legendary white supremacist Tom Metzger and the White Aryan Resistance.
So I guess I know know what that WAR sticker was all about.
Hmm, I wonder what they would think about my Blame it on Mexico and Oregon: Come for the natural beauty... posts?