Thursday, December 28

Like Captive Shadows

Moonlight rises, brightness falls. Each day a rotation. Every moment a different angle of sun. The changes happen quietly; ripples on a surface, like the beading hints of anticipation that precede a wanted touch finally melting into the skin.
Change inevitably follows the cold.
There's nothing you can do to stop the thaw.
But has winter really come and gone so soon?
I don't want to feel like you're too far away. I don't want to think of a time when that I can't feel a smile floating above silver swallows on a chain.
"Even after the night had ended, the presence of Creta Kano and the fragrance
of Christian Dior eau de cologne lingered in the house like captive shadows."
How is it that I can know the warmth of your sunlight just from the the sound of a song, but cannot for the life of me seem to keep my grasp on the ice that has formed between the distant winds of December?

I don't like this chill. The creeping, unnamed feeling, These rising whispers warning that the waters of spring could somehow slip through my fingers whether I want them to or not. This sense that there's a cold coming from the north that my Florida-thinned blood somehow won't be prepared enough to handle.
Just because we haven't figured out how this is going to work
doesn't mean that I'm ready to hear there's nothing I can do.
[Listening to: Coal Chamber, "Big Truck"]


Tuesday, December 26

Don We Now

Last year's was the first Christmas after the separation. No one intended it to be -- but the entire morning spent exchanging and opening gifts with my ex-wife and son was infused with a sort of awkward sadness that neither of us was really expecting. In-between the smiles for the gifts were silences with nothing to say, and memories too fresh to ignore.

I wouldn't call it unpleasant, or even regretful.
The whole thing was just ..hard.
Eventually it came to a point where I decided to leave for everyone's sake. But being Christmas morning, it wasn't like there was anywhere else to go. I ended up walking on the beach for a while before heading back home. I stayed there a while, watching the cat chew on Christmas lights, trying to bury myself in whatever distractions I could think of -- looking for something, anything that could help me escape the utter loneliness that this day can deliver.
Eventually it got to be too much and I had to get out of there, too.
What I really needed was contact. People. Conversations about nothing, water to sink into. Somewhere in this city there had to be an open bar. Somewhere in this town someone else had to be feeling the same way.

I don't know what made me think of Sherwood's. Despite it's simple comforts, it's never really been one of my favorite places. But it was the only neon light burning into the darkness that night -- and even the company of disinterested strangers had to be better than driving around by myself.

I honestly expected the place to be dead -- but what I found when I got inside was a full on crowd scene. Groups of friends hugging and toasting drinks, crowds around the pool tables, and lines by the bar. Unbeknownst to me, 'Christmas night at Slurwood's' is actually sort of a local tradition -- turning the only bar open into the best possible place to be.

I found a seat, ordered a drink, and checked out the crowd. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits, shaking hands and laughing. It was hard not to get swept up into the mood, and soon I found myself talking with the guy sitting next to me about some movie we both thought was funny.

His name was Harry -- he was dark skinned and short-statured, with a mustache that didn't quite meet in the middle. He wore a sweater jacket over a button up shirt and smiled with his whole face, which added all together made him look sort of like a cross between Eddie Murphy and the guy who played Mac on Night Court.

He bought a round, I bought a round. Small talk exchanged, friends introduced. The bartenders all seemed to know him -- which spilled over into preferred treatment for me as well. It was a good time, and if nothing else had taken my mood to an entirely different place than it was before, which was what I had been hoping for, even though I never really expected something on this scale.

Harry had to check out early for some reason, but by that point I had found enough common ground with other people he'd introduced me to so that the evening could continue on uninterrupted. If that weren't enough, one of the women I had met was starting to look at me with a bit more interest. She wasn't Jessica Alba, but she wasn't Kathy Griffin either -- and despite the number of drinks in my system, it was impossible not to sense a vibe of sorts developing between us.

As the hours passed by, the place began to get more and more crowded -- making conversation difficult and elbow even room harder to come by. So much so that at one point my new female friend suggested that I should join her and her other friends as they "took the party somewhere else."
The directions written on the napkin said our next destination was
another bar -- but the look in her eyes said something else entirely.
The place we were headed to was called Park Place -- a bar across the river from the place we were at, but perhaps more interestingly only a few blocks away from my apartment -- which offered my already lecherous thoughts even more motivation to stay with the party.

Park Place is a gay bar, but it wasn't like that was any kind of problem. I'd spent plenty of nights hanging out at The Metro, and it's not like The Pearl doesn't have a certain kind of swagger to it sometimes. I even remember a time when spots like Club Park Avenue and Brothers were the places to be in Tallahassee, with lines of people wrapped around the building waiting to get in.

The drive was short, and once I found a place to park I stepped inside the door hoping to hook back up with my group. Park Place is a lot smaller than Sherwood's, so it was easy to pick them out. We waited our turn, ordered our drinks, and then set about finding a spot to hang out and continue our good times.

Conversations started, drinks disappeared. At one point it seemed everyone was off on their own catching up with people they knew, leaving me at the bar to kind of hold our seats. I settled in, sipped at my drink, and absently looked around the bar to see what else was going on
Only to find Harry -- my initial new friend of the evening, staring right back at me.
Half-drunk as I was, my brain was in no shape to do math -- even if it was only a matter of putting two and two together. In my mind I had happened on a lucky break finding someone else I knew to talk to while everyone else was off chatting with friends. But in Harry's mind it must have been like Santa Claus himself had delivered me to the door.

He moved to a seat next to mine and re-introduced himself. There were short conversations about how the night was going, punctuated with several remarks about how Harry "never expected to see me here" after he left Sherwood's. I laughed along, still scanning for the group and the woman I had been hanging with before -- who (of course) seemed to have completely disappeared.

Harry continued pleasantries and offered to buy another round. I still hadn't really caught on to what was happening and accepted. The drinks came, we toasted the holiday, and drank them down.
It was about that point when he first put his hand on my leg.
Have you ever had one of those moments when no matter how drunk you feel something happens that makes you instantly sober? It was like all of the sudden the entire plot of the movie had come into focus and I realized that Gabriel Byrne was not Keyser Söze.

I've done lots of theater; I've had plenty of gay friends. One thing I've always been pretty aware of is that regardless of whether another man finds me attractive or not, I give off some sort of vibe that is the virtual equivalent of wearing a sign around my neck that reads "Heterosexual." Everyone knows where everybody stands and it's all cool. But somewhere between the booze and convenient coincidences all around it was like my sign had been flipped over to reveal the words "Bi-Curious" written by someone else.

I started backpedaling for all I was worth, but Harry wasn't anywhere near giving up, asking me things like "Well how do you know you're not interested?" and "What's wrong with trying something different?" I was doing my best to be diplomatic in my refusals and not be an asshole. I mean, it wasn't like suddenly realizing my situation threw me into some sort of homophobic panic attack -- I just didn't have any interest in sleeping with other men.

Unfortunately, this was a fact that Harry simply wasn't ready to accept, and he pressed on with the hard sell. It was kind of weird, because I found myself wondering if this is what it's like for women when some guy they're not interested thinks he's got a chance and starts going in for the kill. In fact, I started mentally replaying nights from my past where I'd gotten shot down when I realized that the woman from earlier that evening (she never did tell me her name) had returned and caught enough of the scene to start having doubts about me herself.
The tone of her voice suggested that she was being sarcastic
-- but the look in her eyes said something else entirely.
At that point when I decided to cut my losses and get out of there. Harry pushed for me to stay, and I finally laid down the line. He seemed disappointed, sad almost -- but it just wasn't going to happen. I headed home, curled up in bed and fell instantly asleep.

The weird thing about it though was that the next day thinking back, I was kinda disappointed in myself for not being more aware of the situation I had gotten into. At the same time, I realized that despite the fact that I like to think that I'm pretty adventurous and open-minded, there are still some things that I simply have no interest in at all.

But here's the weird part -- last night I decided to head back to Sherwood's for Christmas night, knowing that same party atmosphere would be there. The place was packed and it was a great time, but at one point this gay guy sat down next to me, wished me Merry Christmas, and then proceeded to pretty much ignore me altogether in favor of chatting up the young couple behind him.

I hate to say it, but after all that had happened the year before -- I felt totally snubbed.
I'll tell you something else -- drunk as I was, I had half a mind to go all New York on his ass, too
"Hey buddy -- I am no backburner bitch!"
[Listening to: Korn, "Make Me Bad"]


Sunday, December 24

Blue

Christmas eve.
It's pouring rain. I'm all alone.
This isn't the holiday I wanted.
[Listening to: Burn Season, "Boredom"]


Thursday, December 21

Sometimes You Have to Work on Christmas

Because I have before
..and I probably will again.
[Listening to: Incubus, "Aqueous Transmission"]


Wednesday, December 20

Sugarplum Conspiracy

I totally suck at wrapping gifts.
To be honest, I think it's a failing of my gender. Guys in general can't seem to get their heads around this seemingly simple task. It's not that we don't understand the concept or have any experience wrapping things up (fiberglass insulation, burritos, condoms). It's more the fact that when you're wrapping a gift you aren't using pneumatic staple guns and polyurethane wood sealer - you're dealing with something entirely different and sinister
Wrapping paper.
Along with irons and toilet paper spools, wrapping paper ranks at the top of the list of guy-baffling technologies. Then there's the issue of scotch tape -- which is it's own mess altogether (especially if you're not careful and the open end falls back on to the invisible roll and disappears entirely- which in my case is a problem that only an electron microscope can fix).

All this adds up to the real problem with wrapping presents, which is that it's a royal pain in the ass.

There's this school of thinking out there that wants to coordinate everything. These are the people who buy specific types of Christmas trees and only decorate them with certain color lighting and ornaments so that the tree somehow compliments the color scheme of the room it's sitting in. I mean come on people -- it's a Christmas tree! It's supposed to be festive and gaudy, covered with strings of popcorn and ornaments that your kid made in school. Besides, there's no way it can truly accent a decorative scheme -- it's a fucking tree! It's not supposed to be inside at all -- which is why we built the damn house in the first place.
A tree that goes with the decor -- what are you, an ewok?
But that's what people do -- and the epidemic seems to be spreading, because it seems like the people who make and sell holiday wrapping paper are doing their best to get people to coordinate the colors of their presents with the "theme" of the tree -- which is just not right.

My whole goal in wrapping a gift, the only reason I'm even bothering to wrap it at all is that I don't want the person who's getting the gift to know what it is. What I'm not doing is decorating the present with festive coverings -- which is probably the real reason it's such a troubling task for me to complete. I'm not thinking like an interior designer when I'm wrapping presents -- My real goal here is to somehow convince a six-year old that the remote controlled spider-shaped present under the tree isn't a remote controlled spider (yet).

So when I'm wrapping something, I'm trying to cover it -- which would be no big deal if I was using duct tape. But what I'm dealing with here is wrapping paper. You don't measure it twice and cut once. You don't square it with laser levels or plumb lines. You just eyeball the size and then do that trick where you push the scissors all the way through the paper in one cut (which always goes somehow wrong for me). My mother could slice out a perfectly-sized piece of paper in one quick motion -- but whenever I try it looks like some drunk driver got a hold of the wheel.

Then you get into these places you've actually managed to cover three sides of the thing you're wrapping. But when you get to the final side there's so much extra paper there that you can't make it work just by using the 'fold it like a paper airplane' trick. A smart person would undo the tape, cut it to a better size and go from there. But when faced with a dilemma like this, a guy like me only sees two options:
  1. Continue folding the paper until it resembles the shape you need.
  2. Grab all the excess paper and make a single cut midway between your hand and the present.
Neither of these solutions really help, because then you're stuck with either one side of your present that's so thick it won't stay folded, or a whole mess of uneven flaps that end up getting taped all over the place.

On the other end of the spectrum you get these odd-sized rectangular presents that you're tring to wrap with squares of paper - which inevitably ends up with that one present you've wrapped almost all the way except for that one side -- and when you fold the two ends of the paper over they don't exactly meet in the middle. First you try pulling harder on the paper like it's a roll of paper towels or something, but when that doesn't work you've got to figure out what to do next.

Perhaps a smart person would swallow their pride, cut out a whole new longer piece of paper and start the whole process over -- but come on, do I look like a wussy?

The guy solution here is an easy one. Just take one of the scraps of paper left over from the other presents you've wrapped and use it to cover up the hole.
Or "Spackle-wrapping," as I like to call it.
The problem with this approach is that to graft that extra piece of paper onto the present you need tape, and lots of it.
I don't care what anyone says, invisible tape isn't.
You can run your fingers over it a million times, but it's still gonna look like that line of stitches on Frankenstein's forehead. If the gift is for a little kid it's no problem, but this sort of thing always seems to happen to me when I'm wrapping presents for women. The kind of women who immediately notice these sorts of flaws and use them to make judgements about my status as a potential mate.

I don't need that kind of hassle, so whenever I'm faced with a problem like this I use the solution I've always used. Put as many of those pre-folded stick-on bows that I can find across the ugly spot on the present until the offensive area is completely covered up.
Let's hear you call me stupid now, honey.
[Listening to: Nonpoint, "To The Pain"]


Monday, December 18

The Trouble With the Maples

Today at lunchtime I had to leave the office to run a quick errand, and when I got back I found a bunch of Canadians hanging out in the parking lot begging for food.
What's up with that?
[Listening to: King Diamond, "No Presents for Christmas"]


Sunday, December 17

Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle

It's Sunday night. Two days later it seems that all of the weekend's mall maneuvers and online shopping sorties have paid off. There's a stack of presents for friends and family in the other room waiting to be wrapped (although as anyone who knows me can attest, that's probably going to be an adventure unto itself).

All things considered I probably went a little overboard (like I seem to do every year) -- which, considering my recent unemployment and resulting financial status means that this little holiday spree will probably put me into more of a hole than I was originally hoping for, but I feel like it's all going be worth it in the end when the paper is shredded away and faces light up with smiles and surprise.

Because despite the loneliness, the debt, and all the distances between..
I still love this stinking holiday.
[Listening to: Oasis, "Wonderwall"]


Saturday, December 16

Angela Pleasence Past

A year ago, almost to the day. A different place. A different world.
It really shouldn't bother me
But sometimes it does
[Listening to: Miles Davis, "Bye Bye Blackbird"]


Friday, December 15

Poka-Yoke

  • Seiri: Separate needed tools, parts, and instructions in the work area and keep only essential items within reach. Everything else is stored or discarded. This leads to fewer hazards and less clutter to interfere with productive work.
  • Seiton: Neatly arrange and identify parts and tools for the easiest and most efficient access. There must be a place for everything, and everything must be in its place.
  • Seiso: Keep your workplace clean as well as neat - at the end of each shift, clean up the work area so everything is restored to its place.
  • Seiketsu: Conduct seiri, seiton, and seiso at frequent, indeed daily, intervals to maintain a workplace in perfect condition.
  • Shitsuke: Sustain discipline. Maintain these standards and keep the facility in safe and efficient order day after day, year after year.

  • I've got nothing to do.
I'm here. I'm awake. I'm ..ready to do something. But there's nothing for me to do, and it's worrying the hell out of me. I'm sending out emails that say "hey, is there anything you need me to do?" but I'm not hearing anything back because everyone else has something to do. Everyone else is busy.

I shouldn't freak out about this. I'm new. I don't have access to all the software that I need yet. I haven't been formally trained on everything I'm supposed to be doing. It's mid December and most people's minds are on the Christmas party or their upcoming vacations. But I can't help it -- after the debacle at my previous "new" job, I'm terrified that I'm going to find a way to screw this one up too.

The last thing I need is for someone to call me into their office and talk about how they are concerned about my "apparent lack of enthusiasm" (which was the clever euphemism the last company I was with used to describe how they felt about me falling asleep in my chair during a conference call on my third day with them).

What I want is to have something going on, something "in process" or "pending approval" where I don't have to feel like I'm just sitting here waiting to get canned. I want to be able to wave off anyone who comes by my desk to ask me how my week has gone because I'm socked with paperwork, or have a meeting with the Bobs or something.
I'm not web surfing, I'm taking the edge off until legal gets off their asses!
But really all I've been doing is shuffling papers and trying to look busy, like some news anchorman waiting for the cameras to cut off. Part of me wants to go into my bosses office and say "Hey pal, what kind of outfit are you running here -- I could be doing this at home!"

But the rest of me is all too aware that this is exactly what I was doing the last six months.
At least this way I'm getting paid, you know?
Hopefully one of those emails will catch someone's eye and I'll get called up to start on a project. Or maybe that one guy I need to get a signature from will show up. Then at least I'd have some sort of sense of direction, or at least an excuse as to why they should be paying me an hourly wage, you know?

But at the same time -- this is still me we're talking about here
It's not like I actually want to do anything
I just hate not having anything to do.
[Listening to: David Bowie, "Ashes to Ashes"]


Thursday, December 14

Craplehem

Christmas is going to be kinda rough this year. Rampant unemployment, car repairs (my alternator unexpectedly died two nights ago, which made the finding of my lost wallet especially serendipitous, since it took most of the money I had to get it fixed), and the fact that some of my closest loved ones aren't going to be around to share it with have just piled on to the point where I'm almost starting to wish that my favorite holiday of the year would sorta just hurry up and get over with.

My goal is to go Christmas shopping for my son this week, so I can give him his presents before he leaves to go share the holidays with his great grandparents in Detroit. He's a great kid and he's been pretty good this year but it wouldn't really matter either way, because I love to spoil him - especially at this time of year (which reminds me -- does anyone know a good place to get those shoes with the roller skate built into them?). I'm hoping to get a few more gifts here and there for my dad, my brother's family, and the other special people in my life -- but beyond that it's gonna be pretty tight.

At the same time it's not that big a deal, because the gifts aren't what the season is really about, are they? The real reason I get bummed out when I can't get the gifts I want to get for people is the same thing I love about this time of year -- the chance it gives you to show the people in your life that you're thinking about them and want them to be happy.

I mean you know how it is, you hit a certain level of adulthood and the present train just sorta stops. Sure you get things from your closest family and loved ones, but there's still something sorta sad about the passing of the "under the tree mother lode" that inevitably happens once you get past a certain point in your life. Of course the gifts you do get always mean more because people usually put more thought into them. You're not going to end up with toys you already have, board games you're never going to play, or a subscription to Highlights.

At the same time, no matter how corporate-driven or fabricated it might be, there's nothing quite like the experience of going through the month of December waiting, hoping, and generally going crazy worrying if Santa was able to find everything on your list this year, and that you were good enough to earn it. Then of course as presents do start to show up under the tree, there's the endless shaking, prodding, and guessing that you do when you think no one is looking. As maddening as it could sometimes be -- I always loved this part of the tradition, and anyone who knows me is well aware of my fondness for giving out surprise gifts without revealing any hint of what they could be.
This year my real present was finally landing a job so that I can try to get my life back on track.
But as welcome as that was, it wasn't the only thing that I was wishing for.

I happen to think wishing is a good thing. It's sort of like goal-setting for dummies. Most of the times when you create a wish list, what you're really doing is telling yourself the things you want - separating them from the things you think are cool or wouldn't mind having. A wish list is a line in the sand. It's a declaration that even in the most plastic of ways, your life would be somehow enriched if these things were a part of it.

So with that in mind, I'm gonna put my Christmas list up here. Now understand something -- I'm not asking you for any of these things. This is not my way of pandering for gifts. This is me telling myself that if I had a chance to sit on Santa's lap where the old man would actually take my list seriously - these are the things I would tell him that I wanted, even though I know I'm the one who will be trying to buy them as the year goes by.
There are a lot of things I'm not going to get to do for Christmas
this year -- but wishing for cool stuff is not going to be one of them.
So here we go:
An Incomplete List of Improbable Things
  • Ever since saw the movie Bullitt as a little kid, I've wanted one of these.
  • And if we're gonna discuss things that are out of my price range, I have to include this, this (talk about something I've drooled over for years), and of course one of these.
But of course, these are all sorta pie-in-the-sky wishes, the kinds of things I tell myself I want to get every year when I plan out what I'm going to do with the vast lottery winnings that I hopefully someday will win.
  • If there's anything I really need, it's a dishwasher for my apartment (although if I had one, I'm pretty sure this would be a daily occurrence)
  • If there's anything I really want, it's probably an iPod. I love my little knockoff brand mp3 player, but it only holds like 50 songs at a time. It's a great little toy, but it's definitely time for an upgrade.
  • On the other hand if there's something I shouldn't want, it's this. I play guitar. I have a couple of real guitars -- but I just can't help thinking just how much fun this looks every time I pass it in the store.
Realistically though, if I end up getting anything for Christmas this year it's gonna be little things. Not that I mind of course, I love gifts with personality. I think little things sometimes take more thought to pick out, and become easier to show off. Two things I can never get enough of are T-shirts and Coffee Mugs -- totally braggable swag items, you know?

The web is a like wet dream for t-shirt junkies, which makes it hard to pick just one favorite design, but they're relatively cheap to buy, so I'm hoping to get all three of these before the year's out.

Of course there's always a stack of DVD's and books that I'm looking to add to my collection from my Amazon wish list, but for whatever reason I tend to forget it's there -- which leads to it being filled with titles I have lost interest in or don't remember why I put it on there in the first place (or to Amazon erasing it completely, which has happened to me on more than one occasion).

When it comes right down to it though, I'm thinking that if I'm gonna get myself anything for Christmas this year, it's gonna be a new tattoo. I have a couple of design ideas in mind, but I think more than anything I just want to treat myself to the experience again, because I love it so much.

I will say this though, if anyone did want to buy me something -- don't. Make me a Mix CD. Throw your most recent favorite songs on there so I can put them on my mp3 player and listen to them while I work. Even after all these years the mix CD is still the perfect gift - because it's personal, reusable, and special all at the same time.
I LOVE getting mix CD's -- send me all of those you want.
[Listening to: Mercy Fall, "Insurmountable"]


Wednesday, December 13

Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum

[Listening to: 7 Days Torn, "Pressure"]


Tuesday, December 12

Raise the Red Lantern

I'm such a whore.
You do me wrong. You hurt me. Everyone says you're not worth it, that you're no good for me, that I can do so much better. Maybe they're right sometimes, but they don't know the side of you that I do. They don't know how wonderful you are underneath it all.

I do wish you would treat me better sometimes, but it's just the way you are
My one,
my only,
Hardees
I remember how it all started. I was listening to the radio driving home from work a while back when I heard an ad for this new thing you'd come up with -- The Philly Cheesesteak Thickburger. Basically it's a huge greasy hamburger that someone decided to dump a huge greasy cheesesteak sandwich on top of. Just the sound of it was appalling. I even remember talking to someone about just how ridiculous and potentially dangerous something like this could be, and how Hardees had finally crossed the line.
Two days later, I was eating one.
and it
was
heaven
I knew it was bad for me. I knew there were better places to be spending my time. But I couldn't help myself. Something inside me loved it. Needed it.

But since then it seems like the relationship has changed. It's like you don't appreciate me. I'm all for experimentation and living on the edge, but there's just something unnatural about putting cheddar cheese sauce and jalapeno peppers on a hamburger. And why is it that we always have what you want? Why is it that we only do the things you want to do? I work hard -- how about treating me to a nice dinner once in a while?

But it's always the same -- I have to wait in line behind all the others just to get some time with you, and than all you want to do is super size. After we spend time together, I always seem to be missing a few dollars. Then the next day when I'm repeatedly going to the bathroom, people ask me what's wrong and I have to tell them that I ..fell down the stairs or something.
It's so embarrassing, and you don't even care.
I feel like it's going to get to the point where I'm going to lose myself. Forget who I was, or what I wanted when I first started this crazy ride. Like at some point you're going to want to do things that are far beyond the sense of decency, and we're going to end up having one of those arguments:
"Come on baby, you'll like it"
"No, I just don't think I can.."
"What's the problem?"
"It's my upbringing - Mother told me good people don't do things like this."
"What your mama don't know won't hurt her"
"But it's three slices of cheese!"
(angry)"I thought you loved me"
"I do, but.."
"If you love someone, you should do things to make them happy, right?"
"I suppose so.."
"That's what I do for you -- didn't I give you curly fries that one time?"
(embarrassed) "Yes.. Yes, you did"
"And don't you love my curly fries?"
"I do love your curly fries"
"Then you should do this for me -- it will make me happy"
"Oh, I don't know"
"..Come on baby"
"Well Ok, maybe just this once -- but I want the lights off!"
Where's my Julia Roberts movie? Where's my Beyonce song? Who's gonna be there for me later on this afternoon when I'm hunched over the toilet crying alone while he's off making another bikini commercial with that tramp Paris Hilton?

My friends are right -- this has to stop. But they don't know what you're like. They don't know just how hard it is to stay away.
I wish I knew how to quit you
[Listening to: 18 Visions, "Victim"]


Monday, December 11

My Lump

Do you ever get into one of those silly good moods where it doesn't seem like anything's wrong and you catch yourself vocalizing your plans for the weekend to no one in particular using the melodies of songs you can't normally stand, but just happened to hear playing in someone's cubicle on your way out of the office?
'What you gon' do with all that junk, all that junk that's in your trunk?
Imma go cash this check, buy some groceries and go get drunk!"
The week hadn't been without its little dramas here and there, but all things considered I was feeling pretty good. I'd gotten through a week of work without screwing up, falling asleep, or getting fired. The people I worked with all seemed pretty cool, for the most part I'm left alone to do my work, and with the holidays coming up the possibility of having an actual income for a change was making me feel like things were starting to finally turn around a little bit.
It's funny how the littlest things have a way of changing your entire outlook.
I got home, put some dinner in the oven, and worked out. I really didn't have any specific plans for the evening, but I finally had a weekend that meant something and I wasn't in a mood to waste it. Most likely I would end up hitting the regular haunts, throwing back a few drinks, whatever -- but it wasn't so much what I did that mattered. It was the fact that I wanted to go out. I wanted to do something.

I finished my workout, ate a little dinner while watching a particularly silly episode of Dr. Who, and took a few phone calls. I figured I might head out to the beach, maybe shoot some pool or something - so I jumped in the shower, started getting dressed, and answered the phone again.

I wouldn't call my place organized or clean, but it's not a horrible mess either. Dishes and junk mail pile up, sometimes I'm lazy about putting away clean laundry, but for the most part you can see the floor when you need to. The cats sometimes like to knock stuff off of the computer desk, or use the batteries from the remote control as toys -- but even then it's usually not a big deal when something isn't where you expect it to be. So when my wallet wasn't next to my keys on the desk it didn't seem like that big a deal. I headed into the other room and checked the other place I sometimes put it, and then looked underneath the mail that I had brought in that evening.

I think I might have joked about the search to J on the phone, but for the most part I was still just continuing the conversation I was having while I looked around for it.
It's funny how the littlest things have a way of changing your entire outlook.
I'm absent-minded sometimes. I'll get all tied up in something I'm doing and forget about something else. Most of the times the consequences are harmless -- I'm habitually 5 minutes late for things I'm supposed to show up for, or I'll wake up in the morning to find ice trays full of water sitting on the counter next to the refrigerator. There have also been occasions where I've had to go down to the car in order to retrieve my wallet from the armrest/storage thing between the seats because I took it out to use an ATM or go through a drive thru or something. Kind of a hassle, but not really that big a deal, you know?

But then sometimes it gets me into trouble. Sometimes I'll get into a book or a TV show and I'll lose track of time, stay up a little too late and then find myself falling asleep at work, or run out of gas in the middle of nowhere because I didn't really take the time to think about how much gas I had left in the tank when I started driving. I get mad at myself for being sort of a dumbass, but sometimes habits are hard to change. Sometimes the best thing we can do is just know ourselves a little better, and do what we can to be ready for the mistakes we always tend to make when we aren't thinking.
Which is probably why I started to panic a little when my wallet didn't turn up in the truck.
Looking through my pants pockets became crawling on my hands and knees under the computer desk, which became tossing couch cushions aside and digging around every nook and cranny of my place without luck. There was a lot of pacing the floor, mental retracing of steps, trying to figure out where I might have left it. And it was in that train of thought where the real problem started to come into focus -- I hadn't taken a lunch Friday, and really didn't really stop anywhere on the way to work in the morning or later that afternoon on the way home. In fact, if my recollections were correct the last time I clearly remembered having and using my wallet was when I stopped at a grocery store to get a gallon of milk
..last Thursday night.
As the reality of the whole thing started to set in I just started to get more and more pissed off. My whole world was in there -- driver's license, social security card, ATM card.. I had no idea where it could be. I didn't know if it was stolen, or lost, or if someone was out Christmas shopping on my dime right now. But worst of all, I was pissed at myself for being so careless. It was this kind of lack of discipline that let me fall asleep at that other job, it was this sort of half-assed thinking that probably led to all the other times I ended up broke, divorced, and alone.

Sometimes my bumbling is cute. It makes for funny stories and kinda adds something to my character -- and I've never been above playing on that. But there are times when the implications of everything just get under your skin and burn. I mean, this isn't like I was bumped into by some cute kid who later delivered my wallet to Fagin so they could sing and dance about it in cockney accents on the rooftops of London, this is like I probably dropped it while I was in some parking lot across town and if I don't cancel all my cards in the next two hours Christmas is fucking cancelled.

The whole thing put me in a rotten mood all weekend. The more I tore my apartment apart, the more I retraced my steps from the entire week, the more I knew I was grasping at straws. Not a day ago I was finishing the first week at a new job, singing fake lyrics, and feeling good about myself and now here I was listening to some zit-faced teenage customer service drone at Target tell me what a bummer it must be to lose your wallet and not be able to find it during the holidays.

It shouldn't have, but the whole thing just got me pissy about all of my lackadaisical habits, the lack of direction in my life, and how I seem to always let good things slip away just because I'm not always focused enough to hold on to them before they drive halfway across the country with someone else. By Sunday afternoon I was just sitting on the couch stewing in all of this while watching my Broncos get their asses handed to them by San Diego (again).
..I don't even remember falling asleep.
I woke up this morning slow, and got to work a little late. It wasn't so much like driving to work as it was sleepwalking. I was in a sour mood and I had a whole day of cancelling credit cards ahead of me just in case I needed to be reminded of what a dumbass I had been. Even sitting at my desk was aggravating, as I couldn't help but be completely aware of the missing lump in my back pocket.

A few minutes later I headed to the coffee machine for a refill and tried to smile at the strangers who said hello. My heart wasn't in it, but moping around wasn't going to do me any more good. It was time to make the phone calls and start looking for a new billfold. Maybe one of those deals with the chain attached so I can tie it to myself just in case something like this ever happens again.

When I got back to my desk there was a janitor's cart in the doorway, and a guy in a blue suit who was apparently browsing through the titles on my mp3 player while I was away (!?). It was one of those instant opportunities, one of those trigger moments when all the built up frustration and rage suddenly finds a place to call home, even if it's not related to anything at all.

I don't know who this dude was, but it didn't even matter. Darth Vader desperately needed to choke a bitch, and whether he deserved it or not -- this guy was it.

And that's when he turned around, held up my missing wallet, and said:
"Guess what I found in the parking lot Friday night!"
[Listening to: Skindred, "Together"]


Thursday, December 7

Don't Fake This

There's a set of train tracks a few miles from my apartment. Freight lines, the occasional Amtrak run. You hear the whistles calling all through the night, rising and falling as the engines pass by. Sometimes it's distant, almost romantic in its lonely call looking for another in the darkness. But most of the times it just becomes a part of the background noise of the neighborhood.

I keep a window open most of the time. Partly because the cats like to perch there, but mostly because I like to hear the sounds that filter in.

One of my downstairs neighbors likes to blast Iron Maiden songs when his girlfriend is at work. The old lady in the house next door has friends over once a week, and after dinner they all like to sit on her front porch and swap stories. Cars race by. Every now and then the air conditioner clicks, gurgles, and then whirs to life. There's a little chain attached to the lights on my ceiling fan that tends to click like a metronome once the blades get up to speed.
And above it all, all night long are the train whistles.
Sometimes it feels like there are so many noises all around that you can't even hear yourself think.

But then there are other moments when all the sounds stop. When all there is are memories flashing through your mind, somber recollections that burn through your senses like wasabi on your tongue, or whiskey in your throat. Moments unintended, like a recipe card or forgotten phrase, weighing on your shoulders with the kind of clarity that's almost as brutal as it is sweet.
The picture in the phone.
That song on the radio.
The bracelet on my wrist.
The person on the screen that doesn't really know she is there, but is smiling back at me anyways..
It wasn't really all that bad of a movie.
It was just a little hard to watch
[Listening to: Chevelle, "Closure"]


Wednesday, December 6

Tip My Hat to the New Constitution

I just had a fantastic idea
I'm going to open up a bar. Well, I don't really need to even open a bar -- I just need somewhere for this thing to get started. Picture this in your head: You show up Tuesday night or whatever at your favorite local watering hole with your crew, throw a couple back to get your courage up, and then you sign your name on the line to take part in the newest craze:
CSI Miami Karaoke
All you gotta do is put on a pair of sunglasses and then stand on the stage. We'll give you a little flashlight to shine on things, and if you want a Versace jacket to complete the look. Then on a screen behind you we'll project footage of some staged crime scene - a body half under a burning car, a fishing boat sitting at the top of a palm tree, or perhaps a young couple sitting dead on the couch locked in a final embrace underneath the words "somebody set up us the bomb" written on the wall in blood.

All you have to do is take off the sunglasses (as dramatically as possible), and then offer a Horatio Crane-worthy one-liner that not only summarizes the crime scene, but somehow trivializes it at the same time. Once you finish your line, the opening of the theme song will kick in.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:
  • "Justice is not yours to dispense, and now you're going to pay for it."
  • "The problem with manipulation is that people can turn on you."
  • "When you have everything, sometimes it feels like nothing."
  • "You lie down with the Devil, you wake up in Hell".
    And of course my all-time favorite -- "I just found a murder."
The person who does the best (or worst, depending upon your point of view) impression of David Caruso wins an undisclosed number of bar bucks or whatever. Best of all, when it catches on it can easily be branched out into al sorts of other variations, like "Law and Order Courtroom Confession Karaoke," or "24 Frantic Cel Phone Call Karaoke"
I'm telling you -- this thing is gonna be bigger than Hula Hoops.
Who's with me?
[Listening to: Genitortures, "Velvet Dreams"]


Tuesday, December 5

Lisa Don't Mind When I Call Her Leslie

To the pretty girl in the sports car licking on the cherry blow pop while trying to cut across rush hour traffic right in front of me on my way home from work:
..Go right ahead
[Listening to: Mickey Avalon, "So Rich, So Pretty"]


Monday, December 4

Tomorrow Morrow Land

I start the new job tomorrow. I have no idea what to expect -- but the way things have been going lately, I can't help but worry that it's gonna turn out something like this
Anyways, wish me luck
[Listening to: Flaw, "Payback"]


Saturday, December 2

Raggedy Man

I swear, sometimes I am such a guy.
The truck ran out of gas again.
It's times like this when I'm glad no one else is actually there in the vehicle with me, because there's really no escaping the ridicule you're in for when something like this happens. Of course, I still caught it on the phone from J a little later anyways
"What's that noise.. where are you?"
"I'm walking down Hendricks avenue. I um.. the truck ran out of gas."
(laughing) "How did that happen?"
"You know, it just sorta sputtered and died."
"I mean, how could you let that happen -- don't you look at the gas gauge?"
"Of course I do -- it was on E"
"Well what did you think that meant?"
"..Extra 5 miles?"
I don't know -- since I actually ran out of gas there's really no way to spin this where I sound like the intelligent one, but you've gotta understand where I was coming from here.

I drive an old pickup truck. It has two gas tanks on it, but it only gets like 14 miles to the gallon, so even when it's full you're not guaranteed a hell of a lot of distance. Still, like every dude everywhere there have been plenty of times where I've driven it on E and gotten away with it. It's like some retarded badge of honor thing -- I know that E doesn't really mean E (even though in this case it actually, you know.. did).
E means I can go for a certain amount of time more before it's actually empty.
And that's where I was at -- driving on that mystical 'extra couple of miles' that I utterly believe I have whenever the gas gauge tells me I don't. In fact (and this is actually the ultimate indignity) the truck sputtered and died just as I was pulling into the gas station. I was actually able to coast it to a stop right next to the pump.
In other words,
I was right.
Despite what some souless mechanical gauge wants to think, I knew what my truck could do in that situation. I had total faith that I could make it to that BP station before the engine gave up the ghost, and that faith was vindicated right then and there.
What I didn't know was that the gas station had closed 20 minutes before I got there.
To make matters worse, I had sunk all that faith in my ability to get to that particular BP, which would have been killer had it been open, because it happens to be the only gas station for miles in that area -- a fact that became painfully clear once I started the long walk down of shame down the road.

Unfortunately, this is really where my whole dude faith thing falters. Because no matter how many times the empty gas tank gods smile on you and let you make it to the gas station before the engine cuts out, nobody seems to recognize it for the miracle that it truly is.

On the other hand, when find yourself walking down the street with an empty gas can
Everyone knows you're an idiot
[Listening to: Five Bolt Main, "Seem to be Fine"]


Friday, December 1

My Letter is P

Jenea gave me a letter and told me to list 10 things that I love beginning with that letter (it's trickier than it sounds). Comment and I'll give you a letter. Make your own list and then give out some letters of your own!

My letter was P and, my list is:
[Listening to: Prince, "Alphabet Street"]


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