Tuesday, September 30

You Little Wonder, Little Wonder You

See the great white scar
over Battery Park
Then a flare glides over
…But I won't look at that scar

Oh, my nuclear baby
Oh, my idiot trance
All my idiot questions
Let's face the music and dance

Don't ever say I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready
I'll never say I'm better, I'm better, I'm better
Don't ever say I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready
I never said I'm better, I'm better, I'm better, I'm better than you

All the corners of the buildings
…who but we remember these?
The sidewalks and trees
I'm thinking now

I got a better way - I discovered a star
I got a better way - Ready, set, go
I got a better way - A new killer star
I got a better way - Ready, set, go
I got a better way - Stars in your eyes
I got a better way - Ready, set, go
I got a better way - I discovered a star
I got a better way - Ready, set, go

See my life in a comic,
like the way they did the Bible
With the bubbles and action,
The little details in colour

First a horseback bomber,
Just a small thin chance
Like seeing Jesus on Dateline
Let's face the music and dance

Don't ever say I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready
I'll never say I'm better, I'm better, I'm better
Don't ever say I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready
I never said I'm better, I'm better, I'm better, I'm better than you

         - David Bowie, "New Killer Star"

Sunday, September 28

Actually Spoken During the Course of my Evening*

        "Garbage Disposal!"
        "Barbed Wire!"
        "Airbag! Airbag!"

                   (*while watching "Final Destination 2")

Friday, September 26

Goodbye Chenga

Sometimes it feels like I’m Geldolf on the phone; an operator in his ear.

         Is there supposed to be
         someone else there to answer?
         This is United States calling, are we reaching?

There’s this look, something like a stare -- hidden behind the round-framed sunglasses that Pink wears through the second half of the film. The part that doesn’t have the catchy songs. The part that doesn’t really match up to the Wizard of Oz at all.

It’s a disconnect, a break in the lines. It’s a little fence you put up to keep yourself protected that’s grown into a preposterous metaphor that used to make a lot of sense in mom’s basement with a stolen bottle of schnapps and a handful of giggling friends, but lately makes you change channels when it comes on the radio during the five o'clock free ride. It’s Run Like Hell, it’s Empty Spaces, it’s The Happiest Days of Our Lives, it’s Comfortably Numb, it’s Nobody Home.

          Out there in the cold
          getting lonely, getting old
          …can you feel me?

All around me, the stage lights and the amplifiers. All around me, the mutating flowers and the animated faces.

I’m growing up and growing apart, carved into vinyl and splattered onto film. I’m Gilmour giving life to Waters imaginings of Barrett’s spiraling despair. I’m over-indulgent white guy whining that only speaks to stoners in Led Zepplin t-shirts and car mechanics who used to be cool.

          I am just a new boy,
          Stranger in this town….

...I’ll get through it.

In the end, we all do -- don't we? Eventually Roger leaves, and your light and laser show goes on tour without you. But right now, with the phone against my ear and the guitar solo fading out, it’s all around me. All around me. All around me...

         “Oh, He hung up!
          That's your residence, right?
          …I wonder why he hung up?”

Thursday, September 25

Faute de Mieux

In another life, You might have been a genius
In another life, You might have been a star
In another life, Your face might have been perfect
In another life, You'd drive a better car

In another life, All your jokes are funny
In another life, Your heart is free from fear
In another life, You make a lot of money
In this other life, Everything is clear

In another life, You're always the hero
In another life, You always win the game
In another life, No one ever cheats you
In another life, You never have to change

In another life, Your friends never desert you
In another life, You never have to cry
In another life, No one ever hurts you
In this other life, Your loved-ones never die

But this is the life you have
This is the life you have
This is the life you have
This is the life

In another life, You're always the victim
In another life, You're always the thief
In another life, You are always lonely
In this other life, There is no relief

In your real life - Treat it like it's special
In your real life - Try to be more kind
In your real life - Think of those that love you
In this real life - Try to be less blind

         - Living Colour, "This is the Life"

Wednesday, September 24

What So Never the Dance

    “How many times have you fallen in love with a lyric that you thought went 'Show me a day with Hilda Ogden and I’ll despair,' only to find out that it actually reads 'Show me a way to solve your problems and I’ll be there.' I guess what I’m saying is that the song is always larger in the listeners mind because with it they attach imagery which is relative to their own personal experience. So it is your perception of what I’m saying rather than what I actually say that is the key”

                                                                - Seal, 1994.

Monday, September 22

All Lost in the Supermarket

A large part of this weekend was spent shopping in boutiques. Small places, no bigger than a bathroom - all filled with quaint items and baubles, designer pieces, and home décor from far away places. Summer fashions, crystal dinnerware, and Celtic music that just wouldn’t… ever… stop.

      I saw a $500 spoon.

The trip wasn’t for me, but for the artist in my life. In the midst of a creative block, diversions like this sometimes help her to get the flow going. Plus, she loves these places like a kid in a candy store, and I like to try to do what I can to make her smile.

Boutiques like this rarely have a lot of room to spare, but when they do, you’ll often find little accommodations put there for men. A couch. An easy chair. A 14 year-old issue of Sports Illustrated. All thoughtful touches to offer solace to the husband or boyfriend who simply cannot find the connection between three pieces of tin fashioned to kinda look like a sheep holding a golf club and the word “Awwwwww!”

The chairs and couches are nice. But I’m here to say that they’re not enough.

          They need to let us break something.

Instead of the “shame chair” next to the dressing room, or the “hold my purse while I try this on” corral next to the cash register -- there needs to be a designated spot where men of all ages can freely take a glass vase and throw it against the wall as hard as they can.

Think of it -- A small area in the bath and body store where you could stomp on as many scented candles as you want. A zone where all terra cotta fears to tread. An Ambercrombie and Fitch sanctuary where you could take all the white people underwear you could grab and drape it on the fake moosehead’s antlers. A place in the home store where you could set fire to anything made from unfinished wood without fear of reprisal.

This isn’t about hate, or disapproval. It’s about that sense of dread you feel as a guy going into these places. That deep seated “you break it - you buy it” terror built into us by our mothers, forcing us to stand there with our hands in our pockets, denying our youthful energies by forcing us to accompany them into the “breakable stuff” store.

Here I am, twenty some years later, trying to do something good for someone I care about, not even realizing that my hands are again, like some pavlovian dog, back in my pockets.

Just once, just one time I wish I could have like $700 cash in my pocket when I go into a place like this. Just once, I’d call over the salesgirl with the glasses around her neck on a chain and say “Excuse me, how much is this handmade crystal sculpture worth?”

“That’s priced at $650, sir.”

And then, with a slightly evil grin on my face, I would turn to her and say,

          “No kidding...”

Sunday, September 21

Red Numbers Stare

In the darkness, red numbers stare.
In the silence of my side, the count goes on.

The clock is set to deceive. When the alarm goes off, my mind is supposed to freak out over the appearance of sleeping in thirty minutes more than I should have.

Unfortunatley, I know the guy who set the clock, and all I ever do when the klaxon sounds is mutter something to myself about having 30 minutes left before I have to get up.

        No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to fool myself.

Curious though - to know that I think of him as being that gullible.

It's here, against this cloth that the time passes so slowly. Here where the possibilities aren't realized, where the energy levels differ so wildly, that I can't help but feel each moment and wonder.

        To be what is needed, to provide what is wanted.
        To appreciate the differences, to realize the details.

I'm starting to understand that it's better for you when I'm here. That the weight on my side makes the hours go by easier, quieter, more peaceful. Something about balance. Something about presence. Something about blankets.

But still...

            Red Numbers Stare.

Friday, September 19

The Right Profile

I came across this at a bookstore the other day, and it gave me a little smile.

          But then I saw ...this.

Thursday, September 18

Natalie’s Enormous Teeth

It’s this strange thing – but whenever I go to visit people I haven’t seen in ages, they always recognize me. Even if it’s been 10 years, one look and they’re calling me by name. For whatever reason, I’m always surprised. Do I look the same, even after all these years? Am I somehow memorable in a way I don’t realize?

Yesterday instead of teaching, I spent time in other classes to observe the methods and practices the other instructors were using. Sort of an "on-the-job training" thing to gain perspective. It was interesting, but it became instantly clear that there are just tons of things that I should be doing differently. The first year of teaching is supposed to be hard and filled with uncertainty, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a little frustrating to see other teachers who seemed to have such a better idea of what they were doing, and how to control their classes. Somehow the whole thing made me feel isolated in my inexperience.

          …In truth, it kinda bummed me out.

Later in the day after all of my observations were done, I took a short trip out to my old school to see if I could catch up with my old 8th grade teacher.

I’ve had many inspiring teachers in my life, but one of the people that sticks out the most was Meg Hawley. There probably isn’t enough room on the web to list all the things we did in that class, both inside and outside of the rules. It was one of those classes where things stuck, stories you read lingered, and friendships were made to last.

      It was there that I first met Gristina.
      It was there that I started to believe that I could be a writer.

The old school looks a lot different these days, but when I caught a glimpse of Meg heading down the hall towards me, it was like nothing had changed at all.

The look in her eyes was priceless, especially when she discovered what I was doing for a living now. That infamous smirk, the unspoken roll of the eyes. I half expected her to break into her Lily Tomlin impression.

I observed a lot of teachers yesterday. Sat in a lot of classes, and saw a lot of places where I’m coming up short. But then I told a special person that their inspiration had led me to follow in their footsteps.

…And I got to see a look that told me that I had done at least one thing right.

Wednesday, September 17

Family Portrait

It’s like I’m seeing a shadow. A reflection reminding me of a picture I once knew. Not some Olan Mills recreation of smiles that could only exist in front of a brushed blue background; everyone wearing clothes they would never otherwise wear so that the image saved matches the ideal imagined. But a living, breathing snapshot memory that moves and breathes of its own accord. A mental daguerreotype, a penny arcade flipbook picture stored somewhere in the cobwebs.

Tuna casseroles and Lazy Boys. TV commercial conversations. Comfortable but detached. Real but somehow covered in plastic, laminated against decay. It’s a picture I’ve seen in many colors, against all sorts of backdrops. Somehow everyone has one just like it in their albums or keepsakes.

Even when you shake it up, the oil will find a way to float to the top. Even when you keep it safe from extinction, the animal will pace the cage.

          Tables for one.
          Singing in the car.
          Footprints in the sand.

Ivory towers and stained glass windows. Something familiar about the way these trade winds are blowing.

It troubles me, this peace.

          I’m just not sure why…

Friday, September 12

All Dude Ever Wanted was His Rug Back

Now, listen, Cadet -- I've got a JOB for you.

See this button?

It's the History Eraser button, you FOOL!

...So what'll happen if I touch it?
That's just IT -- We don't KNOW!

          Maayyybeee something bad!
          Maayyybeee something good!

I guess we'll never know, 'cause you're going to guard it!

          …You won't TOUCH it... will you?

Oh, how long can our trusty Cadet hold out? How can he possibly resist the diabolical urge to push the button that could erase his very existence? Will his tortured mind give in to its uncontrollable desires? Can he resist the temptation to push the button that, even now, beckons him even closer? Will he succumb to the maddening urge to eradicate history -- At the MERE...PUSH...of a SINGLE...BUTTON?!

        The beeyootiful SHINY button!
        The jolly CANDY-LIKE button!

                  Will he hold out, folks?
                  CAN he hold out?

Sunday, September 7

Cars Pass in Cold Blood

There's a virus in my email.

I don't have a virus on my computer, but everyday in my inbox I discover anywhere between 15 - 30 emails from people I don't know. Emails automatically generated from infected computers all over the world, complete with attachments that, were I to open them, would unleash a worm that would cripple my system.

          Essentially, strangers are
          coughing on me electronically.

Unfortunately, The sheer size of all these attachments is enough to push my mail account over its storage limit almost daily. It's a simple process to delete the messages and rid myself of the problem, but each day when my email account reaches a certain size, it kicks out anything that's sent to it, including any message addressed to me from people that I actually know.

          ...So in a way, the virus has me.

Of course, it's just like me to assume that people are sending me messages everyday and that the only possible explanation for me not getting them is some phantom influence that's clogging up the communication lines.

Maybe the virus is actually just something inside my head, an imbalance that makes me crave the contact, the attention, the effort. I mean, when it comes right down to it, there's no such thing as an absent friend. It's just a busy world. Power grids go down, new obstacles come up. I get that -- I mean, these are the same things that are keeping me from contacting the people that I care about.

This new job has turned my life upside down. My time, my energy levels, my focus, all inverted like negative exposures on film stock. Even when people do try to contact me, it's a roll of the dice as to whether I'll have the time or energy to reply back. No one likes to wave at someone who doesn't return the gesture, so the whole thing sorta snowballs.

I look in that mirror and it seems so shallow. It's like I need the validation, like I can't believe the reflection without a second opinion. Sometimes it feels like a hole inside, an emptiness, a separation. The kind of void you'd do just about anything to fill.

"Solitude is fine, but you need someone to tell you that solitude is fine."
             -- Honoré de Balzac

Wednesday, September 3

Folded Notes

Guy goes to a physicians office and says, "Doc, It hurts when I do this."
Doctor says, “Don’t do that.”

When I was younger, I used to sneak out of the house a lot at night. Sometimes I’d just take long walks, sometimes I find places to go. But whenever I crept down the stairs to make my escape, I always knew to look out for the 12th step on the staircase. That was the one that creaked when you put any kind of weight on it. That was the one that would wake someone up and get you caught.

        Three guesses how I discovered this fact.

It’s like I keep walking in circles, tracing a mobius. I stand in front of my own video wall of Keanu Reaves faces, each flipping me off and cussing as the old man in the suit tells me that I am in fact just another face in a long line of “chosen ones.”

These feelings, these frustrations, these fires. Smoldering embers finding their way back to fuel. Anger returns like a tide, gravity cycling the tropics. Every year there seems to be a new surge, a new wind, a new eye. But every year I find myself caught off guard by the approaching rains, every year I find myself unprepared for evacuation.

        Throw the flag,
        Watch the replay,
        Overturn the call.
        ...How hard is that?

It’s like I always need things to feel new. Like I need each challenge to feel different, even when they’re exactly the same. It’s like I want the storm to blow my house down before I admit that there’s a danger.

Pet the dog that bites you
Buy the drug that kills you
Want the things you can never have
Let the relative sleep on your couch... again.

        “Doc, it hurts when I do this”
        “Don’t do that.”

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