Tuesday, February 28

Gravity's Arrow

I grew up in Longmont, Colorado -- a small town just outside of Boulder. I remember it being a beautiful place with this huge mountain off in the horizon that looked more like a painting done on a light blue canvas than anything real or true. I don't remember the cold. To be honest, I don't remember that much of it at all (we left for Florida when I was 4). There are specific recollections here and there; playing in our basement, going out to eat with my dad and my little brother at the A&W drive-in, and watching planes take off and land at the little municipal airport -- things like that.

I remember eating homemade peanut butter. I remember having this really cool pedal car big-wheel type things with a gearshift on it. I also have a vague memory about going to some frontier circus show where a trapeze girl missed the catch and fell screaming to the ground.

One minute she was graceful and free, and the next everyone was standing up in horror.
I have no idea if she was hurt or not.
There was a little black dog, a scottish terrier we called "Willie". I had this old green toybox with wheels that my parents would put me inside of and then strap the dog to. There are pictures of him pulling me around the neighborhood like some chariot from Ben Hur.

A year or so later I accidentally ran over his tail with my tricycle, putting a permanent kink in it. The dog was still sorta nice to me for years afterward, but that break in his tail never really healed-- and I don't think he ever forgot who it was who did that to him.

People can change. But I sometimes wonder if relationships can.
I still don't have that answer yet
And I worry that I'm running
out of time to figure it out.
[Listening to: The Postal Service, "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight"]


Sunday, February 26

Dextromethorphan Annie

I'm generally not one to buy into conspiracy theories, because I have a stronger belief that stupidity tends to multiply when people try to think in groups. For example, I'll never be convinced that enough people who are motivated by some sort of greed or monetary reward could shut up long enough to "fix" a Super Bowl or something like that. No one wants to be the only one who knows a secret. People want to be validated. Word gets out. Somebody else always knows.

At the same time, I do believe in the idea of big brother trends. Corporate synchronization on the highest levels. There are supply side reasons that gas prices go up, sure -- but I find it very hard to believe the oil companies are losing sleep over (or working very hard to correct) the fact that we're all paying more at the pump. Especially since it's become pretty clear that in the current global/political/business climate there's very little any of us can really do about it but complain.
I believe pharmaceutical companies think the same way.
We're waaaay too medicated as a society these days. There is an overabundance of pills and quick fixes available, and it sometimes frightens me to think about the way it makes people think. There seems to be a drug out there for everything right now, and what's more -- the drugs they offer seem to be a lot more powerful then they've ever been.

Right or wrong, I have come to believe that big drug companies operate within a groupthink sort of posture. I don't mean that there are backroom meetings where cigar-chomping big wigs plan our lives out X-Files style, but more in the sense that I don't think a lot of the big corporations compete against each other anymore in the way they used to. I tend to thing that think when it comes to these really big mamma-jamma corporations (oil, tobacco, drugs) it's more about keeping up with the jonses, making sure the money pie stays big for everyone without running the risk of getting sniped by congress or the anti-trust police out there. Sort of how the airlines keep their prices all within certain ranges of each other to avoid further regulations from above.

There are things these days we all believe we can't live without, and the companies that supply them know this. I mean, I really don't believe that it costs as much as I'm being charged per gallon to refine the gasoline I buy - but I need gas in my car. It's just that it kind of sucks to feel like you're getting screwed over even when you're willing to pay for something.

Or to put it another way:
I'm starting to suspect that the cold medicine I'm on is
making me feel completely fuzzed out on purpose.
Let's face it -- there's no money in curing the common cold. In a pure business sense, a pharmaceutical company finding a way to get rid of this malady forever would be the equivalent of every shopping mall in the world deciding that Christmas really isn't that big of a deal. Not that I think they're withholding the secret from the public, but more that the labs out there are being pressed to come up with solutions for symptoms rather than finding the cure for the whole thing.

After all, it's not my cold I hate -- It's this godawful feeling that comes from my sinuses draining. The headaches that keep you from sleeping, the aches in your shoulders that only hurt when you sneeze, and the sneezes that won't ever stop.

But this crap that I'm on right now isn't really taking those things away. It's just jacking me up with so many other chemicals that I'm really too stoned to notice anything else. Instead of feeling like shit all day with my cold, I basically have the option to be zonked out in six-hour intervals where the virus continues to run it's course through my body.

This is wrong.
If I take something - I should feel better, right?
Instead I'm left in this bizarre haze where my head doesn't hurt, but it feels really thick and pillowy, like my sinus system has been flushed with marshmallow cream and Johnny Depp is leading a group of European kids and character actors around up there looking for squirrels.

What's worse, after years of dousing my system with DayQuil on days when I'm dealing with the creeping crud, I've actually developed a tolerance for it's apparent lack of effectiveness. I will actually go to the store and seek out these useless pills because I have gotten to the point where I'm so used to the feeling it gives me that I can function like this for days at a time.
Sure my voice sounds like Brenda Vaccaro and my eyes feel like they're made out of Styrofoam, but I can still push a pen around and do my paperwork, can't I?
What I really wish is this -- ok, I understand you're not going to cure the cold. You've got a business to run, and treating symptoms is better for the bottom line than actually finding a cure. But for the sake of the rest of us schlubs out here who actually have to deal with the virus, lets stop kidding ourselves with all of these little pissant drugs, ok?

How about this -- Get together and develop one really big pill that basically knocks our asses out for like 3 days, and then release it to the public with some sort of big marketing push that lets everyone know what it does. Make it prescription, get the insurance companies involved, I don't care -- just make it so I can call my boss on Monday morning and say
"I've got a cold, so I'm taking the
ass kicker pill -- See you Thursday."
[Listening to: The Cure, "World in My Eyes"]


Tuesday, February 21

The Evil That Men Do

Grandpa is into trains. Grandpa is fascinated by monorails. One day on a whim he decides to build one in his backyard using tools he keeps in his garage. His monorail is big enough to carry small animals from place to place. It's cute. It's sweet. It's certainly not sinister in any way, right?

The first picture shows five puppies going for a ride. But in the next shot
There are only three.
[Listening to: She Wants Revenge, "Tear You Apart"]


Friday, February 17

Heretic

The other day I was in the lunchroom, picking at some less-than-thrilling microwave Chinese food when one of the other teachers sitting near me smiled and asked,
"So, did you see what happened on The Office last week?"
To which I casually replied, "What's that?"
I might as well have killed a puppy right there on the table.
The entire room seemed to miss a beat. Conversations quickly resumed without me, as someone nearby quickly piped in with their own feelings about the show, but I had clearly stepped on a nerve.
This always happens to me.
There used to be team meetings back when I was at Alltel that would consist of like five minutes of people looking at me saying "How could anybody not love Seinfeld?".

And it's not really that I didn't enjoy the show. It's not like I probably wouldn't get a kick out of The Office if I watched it. It's just that I'm not really one to re-route my entire life around a block of Thursday TV just for the sake of having something to talk about whenever I'm in a room with other people.

It's like there's some fatal flaw in my caucasian genetic makeup that keeps me from fully understanding the true significance of the words "Must See TV." Even last night, after the incident in the teacher's lounge I still had no desire to find out what all the fuss was over. Prime time found me sprawled out on the couch watching a DVD collection of this old cheesy anime series called The Devil Lady until a dear friend called on the phone all excited saying, "Oh man, you've got to check out this horrible Zombie movie on Sci-Fi with me! (this being the same friend that I once stayed on the phone with all night so we could share the experience of watching Half-Ton Man together)"

I mean, come on -- a guy who can't get out of bed, can't even leave his own house without having a wall removed because he weighs 1000 plus pounds -- and he's a smoker!?
That's entertainment!
[Listening to: Jason Forrest, "War Photographer"]


Thursday, February 16

Aqueous

Você é meu mar
Eu nado dentro de você.
[Listening to: The Features, "Me and The Skirts"]


Wednesday, February 15

Felt

As I write, my palm rests upon the page. Felt tip. Starless. As my words move left to right the side of my hand soaks up the surface, darkens in a self-induced shadow, and slurs my thoughts.
I'm left-handed. Right-brained.
Absent-minded. Present tense.
For whatever reason, I've spent the early part of this week in a haze. We had this defcon one thing going on at work, visiting dignitaries from the ivory tower, the kind of audit that makes your bosses freak out and the sewage run downhill until the danger is passed. The flood rose enough that even I started to get worried about it, and I spent a good part of my weekend cleaning up classrooms and tidying up appearances so that I wouldn't be the bruise on the otherwise shined surface of the apple.

The templars never darkened my door, and apparently the danger passed without incident. But the rush to make the grade has made the rest of this week seem fogged, unreal even. My mind is (of course) other places, lost in memories and distractions, looking for footholds among paperwork and planning.

Among the rubble I found myself attempting a valentine. A cautious message of remembrance and affection, wrapped in waters without ripple, tied at the top with a wink and a bow. But the words kept fumbling. The ink kept streaking under the weight of my dragging palms.

Frustrated, I ended up browsing YouTube, ignoring work to be done.
They have Mystery Science Theater 3000 clips on there now.
Later on you call me on the phone with a joke "only I would get."
The ink smeared
The palms dark
...Starless
Felt.
[Listening to: My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, "Kooler Than Jesus"]


Monday, February 13

Body Count

Friday night I stepped out of my doorway to check the mail, when I noticed that my truck was parked out in front of the apartment. I normally park around back - more out of habit than anything else, but for whatever reason this day I opted to pull up to the edge of the sidewalk instead.
Funny how sometimes that one little thing you do
differently changes the whole world around it.
Because it was out front, because I live on a one-way street (in what isn't the best part of town) I decided to step out to the road and make sure the doors were locked. As I suspected the driver's side door wasn't (dumb as it sounds, I hardly ever remember to lock my doors), so I reached in to hit the switch
That's when I noticed the smell.
The cab reeked of beer.
Cheap beer at that.

The funny thing is that nothing else really registered immediately. I somehow didn't really see the glass all over the seat, or feel the cold air rushing in. It took a couple of seconds for everything to kind of click. But as I worked to process the idea that an aroma like that was all over the truck when I hadn't ever really had a beer in there (much less poured it out onto my upholstery) it finally became clear what had actually happened..
I had been the victim of a drive-by
Someone driving down my street had tossed a half-empty bottle of bud out their window, which sent it sailing through the air until it crashed right into mine, leaving a neat little hole and a million little cracks in the safety glass all around.

There's this feeling. This sort of sinking "what the hell?" that comes over you in a wave, sort of like a sweat or a sense like someone is staring at you intently. And then suddenly it was like there was glass everywhere, like I couldn't stop seeing it.

Frustrated, I slammed the door while mouthing obscenities, which only succeeded in breaking even more of the window, sending it cascading down into the driver's seat.
All so random. It could have been any car
on the road when you think about it..
Now the space where the back windshield used to be is covered up with duct-taped on garbage bag -- finally offering my pickup truck the chance to live up to it's hallowed redneck roots. They're sending a dude out to fix it on Wednesday -- but every time I close my door, or drive over a bump, or shift my butt in my seat you can hear a little piece of glass fall away. It's like some comedy gag that won't end.
All I had to do was park in the back, like I always do
But Nooooooo...
[Listening to: XTC, "Making Plans for Nigel"]


Wednesday, February 8

Sibyl Vane

"As for being poisoned by a book, there is no such thing as that. Art has no influence upon action. It annihilates the desire to act. It is superbly sterile. The books that the world calls immoral are precisely the books that show the world its own shame."        - O. Wilde
The picture is changing.

Everytime you look the image seems older. A little gray in the hair, a bit more furrow in the brow. It's you, but it's not. Frozen in space. Held there in time. An angels subplot, a single drop of mercury.
Too toxic for one to hold,
yet so vital to my release.
Amistad. Attica. Oubliette. Libertines.
Lightning is my girl. Bull in the heather.
Mike Ness, Mike Ness, Mike Ness.

The picture is aging.

It's almost like this writing. This disjointed picture of words that won't seem to come together. I have the corners, but can't (or don't want to) fill in the middle of the puzzle. I mean, I kinda know what it is that I'm trying to say, but for some reason I'm not in a place yet where I can just come out and call it by name.
Art annihilates the desire to act.
The image has gone only you and I
It means nothing to me..
This means nothing to me
Oh, Vienna.
[Listening to: Detroit Grand Pu Bahs, "Sandwiches"]


Monday, February 6

Amadeus Amadeus

What I like about coffee steam is that it doesn't just rise up.
It curls.
It meanders, wanders.. kinda traces it's fingertips slowly across the surface of the brew before it leaves. And even then it still sorta hovers in place.

It's like a lover trying to keep you under the covers, teasing you into calling in sick at work, making you want weekends at cozy soft-focus hotels in the middle of nowhere, or have dirty thoughts about secluded beaches when no ones around.

I think that's what's addictive about coffee. Not the caffiene, but that it gives you simultaneously this want to get up and go while at the same time it makes you want to curl your hands around the cup and just
stay
stay
stay
[Listening to: The Bravery, "Public Service Announcement"]


Friday, February 3

17 Days

This morning when I woke up it was raining. But it wasn't that sort of soothing Bob Dylan "Lay Lady Lay" rain as much as it was like Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine," filled with artificial thunder crashes and a rush of sweeping wind that eventually leads into the synthesizer ostinato and opening verses.

When you look out the window on mornings like this the sky is nothing but gunmetal gray wheatfields that make it feel like the day ahead of you is being photographed on black and white film, and the combination of it all makes it really hard to want to get out of bed at all.

Not that I'm complaining. I love the sound of rain falling outside the window and on top of the roof. It's just that sometimes it creates a sense of comfort that even the most grating of alarm clock tones can't disturb. My apartment is really old, so weather like that always brings out a symphony of muted creaks and pops from my walls, almost as if the apartment itself is a forest settling in the night.
It's like a blanket, or
a lover curled close.
I really like being there. It's quiet (well, most of the time), so sometimes in the middle of the night it's like you're not really in the middle of a busy city, or transitional period, or deepening crisis at all. It's like you're on an island in the middle of a quiet ocean all alone, drifting without worry.

Of course the worry is still there. No ocean moves without waves. But sometimes when the moon is shaded and the rain comes down in alternating washes of noise and color, it feels like you could sleep there forever.

So many things in my world are uncertain and strange..
But I really do love this place.
[Listening to: PiL, "Poptones"]


Thursday, February 2

Happy Fun Disease

Run. Pace. Breathe. Feel. The miles pull by under your feet, reflecting neglect, ignoring excuses. Four days ago I was locked onto an elliptical jogger - just one of the fancy toys adorning the floor of this gym I'm trying to join. My feet pushing the yoke while at the same time moving with the pull of the mechanism. Like the exercise was doing itself and I was just lucky to be there with it.
Tonight was different.
Tonight I hit the road.
Five miles along the water. My front door to the Landing and back.

The River Run is right around the corner. And of course despite plenty of time available for me to work on it, I've let other things get in the way and now I'm left to try and cram what should have been months of training into just a few weeks.

Considering just how incredibly lazy I've been about the whole thing, last night went surprisingly well. But it was kinda weird because I found that I kept kinda tricking myself into doing more, even though physically I probably wasn't really ready for it at all.

I mean, when you're on a treadmill you pre-set the time and other variables, and then you just sorta hang on for dear life until the thing tells you to cool down and eventually it shuts itself off. When it's over it's over, and that's all there really is to it.

But when I'm out on the road, it's like I get to a point where I should consider turning back, but don't. The path I train on goes alongside the St. John's River and passes by several office buildings, and it's not that uncommon for me to finally reach one spot where I know I should turn back around and consider it a good night's work -- only to think to myself, "I bet I could still make the next one".

What I'm trying to say is that I had no business running five miles last night. If anything, I should have run like 2 and then worked around that figure this week so that I can build it up gradually until my body is really ready to attack the full distance of this race.
But I was feeling ok -- so I just kept going.
It's just kind of how I am sometimes. There are instances when it works to my advantage, and then there are equal situations where taking on more than I can handle comes back to bite me in the ass. I mean, my legs are definitley sore this morning, but overall I'm feeling pretty good. But that's not to say that I'm ready to run a five mile race tomorrow or anything, you know?.

It's like how I'm continually at odds with my bank records, and catch myself on the edge of being overdrawn far more often than I need to be. Putting even the most important things off until the last second. Taking risks, making gambles. There's a part of it that's thrilling and exciting, but sometimes when you get to stare right into the eyes of how it affects you a different perspective starts to come to light.
I'm not a real big fan of caution
And it's starting to become a problem.
It's why my finances are always a mess. It's how I lost my house. It's part of why my marriage fell apart. It's definitley one of the reasons why I'm going to lose this job that I love so much.
Part of me will always resist
the idea of leaving Neverland.
But sooner or later I'm gonna have to grow up.
[Listening to: Hot Hot Heat, "Talk to Me, Dance With Me"]


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