Saturday, March 31

Come and Knock On Our Door

I live with two cats. Both girls.
I am Jack Tripper.
There's Aja -- the smart, pretty one who runs the house whether I like it or not. She's been with me since I moved in here, and has been my constant companion through the good times and the bad.

Then there's Seka -- the cute dumb one who has trouble with the fineries of gravity and frequently gets herself locked inside cabinets and closets for hours at a time. They're best friends with each other when I'm not looking, yet continually vie for my attention when I am home.

But they are girls, so there are times when their hormones and moods do get the better of them. Usually this leads to constant yowling in the night and refusal to eat anything other than my food. Of course like all pet owners I put up with it because there's few things in life better than waking up with them curled up and purring against you.
Which isn't to say they don't drive me fucking batty once in a while.
Seka likes to break things, mainly by knocking them off tables or other raised surfaces, which is a pretty standard cat thing to do.
But Aja fights dirty.
Whenever the food isn't quite to her liking or the litter box isn't changed fast enough, she lodges a complaint. Usually she lodges it in a pile in the bathtub, but there have been occasions where these little butt post-its have shown up on furniture, and even the bed. It's not as bad as it used to be when she was a kitten, but it's still by far the most infuriating thing she does.

The problem is that it's also the most effective thing too -- because there's nothing like a pile of crap on my stuff to get me to change hers. Like the other day when I guess I wasn't paying her enough attention, which prompted her to squat on one of my guitar cases. I was able to get her in the litter box before things could get too messy, but it was infuriating just the same.

As she was sitting there I just stared at her, until I couldn't stand it any longer and I kinda shouted at her "Now you're crapping on my guitar case? This is madness!"
To which she just meowed
"This is SPARTA!"
[Listening to: Filter, "Skinny"]

Friday, March 30

Actually Spoken During the Course of My Evening

"In Soviet Russia, booze drinks you!"
[Listening to: The Dillinger Escape Plan, "Pig Latin"]

Thursday, March 29

Master of the House

Last night was another Wednesday night happy hour (or two) at Twisted. Good times, grape bombs, and continued awkwardness with the only place in town I know of that uses bathroom attendants. I mean, I appreciate the intentions behind the guy being in there, this idea somehow that his presence makes the place more upscale or whatever -- but do we really need this? If I'm being made to pay eight to twelve bucks for a drink then I already kinda know the place is upscale. Having to sidestep around some dude in the crapper seems like an extra step in my book.

Plus, I don't care how much tradition there is behind it -- turning on the sink for half drunk guys is not a growth industry. It's a demeaning job, and sort of a waste of time. I feel like I could get things done faster and frankly more efficiently if he weren't there. Plus, what happens when that guy has to take a whiz -- does someone else have to sub in for him and hand him a towel, or is he the only one at the club who doesn't get any help?
How must that feel?
[Listening to: Alexisonfire, "Control"]

Tuesday, March 27

Royale with Cheese

A lot of people tell me that they love my belly.
It means a lot to me to hear things like that. The way they're said, the spirit they're intended in. It's just that I've never been able to appreciate my pooch the way that others do, and I suppose I never really will. The truth of the matter is that I hate my belly. I hate the way it feels, I hate the way it makes me look. And when I get caught up in that loop of hating these things, it affects the way I feel and act as a person, which no one loves.
The simple fact is that I want people to love me for more things than just my belly.
And I'd like to be able see those things when I'm standing in the shower.
[Listening to: Team Sleep, "Your Skull is Red"]

Saturday, March 24

Luminous Beings Are We

When a moment like this happens, it's hard not to feel old.
Earlier today I took my son out to see the new Ninja Turtles movie (eh, I've seen worse). We bought the ticket early, and had some time to kill -- so we went to a nearby restaurant for a quick lunch before the flick. So we're sitting there waiting on our food when a familiar looking woman walks up to the table all excited and says "Mr. Luft!?"

It turns out to be one of my former adult students from back in the day when I taught at ACT. She's doing well, and has actually embarked on a career as an english teacher at a local high-school. It was really nice to have her offer me some credit for her success, but as I told her many times in the past -- she was the one who did all the real work.

We said our goodbyes, ate our lunch, and headed off to the film. Two hours of red twizzlers, stale popcorn, and computer animated ninja action later, we're getting ready to leave when two teenagers come up to me and say "Mr. Luft!?"

Turns out they're both former students of mine from one of my first years at the middle school here in town I used to teach at. They're both doing well, going to high school here in town -- where one of them is taking an english class that just happens to be taught by...

When nine hundred years old you reach -- look as good, you will not.
[Listening to: Iggy Pop, "Skull Ring"]

Sunday, March 18

Not Such Great Heights

I don't think there's really any way for me to accurately describe just how much I hate the UPS Whiteboard guy. I'm trying to watch the tournament here, I'm trying to enjoy my weekend where I'm not at work and every time I look up you've sucked me right back into the office for some shipping policy training seminar that has nothing to do with me but for some reason I'm still required to attend.

What can Brown do for me?
Get me a beer and put the basketball back on.

[Listening to: Hadouken!, "That Boy That Girl"]

Saturday, March 17

Actually Spoken During the Course of My Day

She: How appropriate, my Leprechaun Name is: Thong Wearing O'Donaghue
Me: Aye there lassie, that's a bonny -- Now, how'd ye like to come over here and wax me schellaley?
She: It amazes me how much randomness you know. schellaley???? Is that sha-lay-lay like some
black chick's name or shell-UH-lay? And ummm is that what I should be doing to it? Waxing it?

Me: Yes, come apply wax to my black woman. She loves it.
[Listening to: Scissor Sisters, "Tits on The Radio"]

Friday, March 16

Everyone I Know Was Born in March

And if had just one more day
I'd tell you everything, everything I had to say

       I miss you
A recent Sunday night. Most of the places I go to are closed. After a long day of just lazing about I find myself feeling restless, lonely, and out of gas with simply sitting in front of the television any more. So I put myself together to see if there's any adventure to be found out there.

Different cities shake hands in different ways. I remember nights in Tampa where I felt an almost Richard Wright-ian invisibility in the midst of what seemed like a million faces. I remember hidden places in New York where somehow among all the people there it felt like the director hadn't started the scene until my friends and I showed up (was that really the case? -- of course not, but there was something about that night at Red Rocks where it seemed like there was energy surrounding us, pulling others towards that center and demanding that we do shots with them in celebration of their shipping out the next morning).

But here, on this side of the river in Jacksonville when that feeling hits, it presents itself as a void. There are no cars. The streetlights flicker at unexpected intervals, and the red warning beacons on the top of the bridges blink like eyes moving in slow motion. There are no cops hiding in parking lots with their faces illuminated by the computer screens on their dashboards. There are no stray cats scurrying across the road. There are no trains to be seen (and believe me, there are always trains).
On nights like this, this city feels lifeless and asleep.
You drive around aimlessly, wishing the car stereo wasn't broken while making occasional checks to ensure that your cell phone isn't (even though you know that it's not), which would provide a logical explanation for the fact that no one is calling.

There are places open. Catch-all dive bars, strip clubs, donut shops, all-night breakfast places. There are choices, but the experiences are always the same. What's the difference between sitting by yourself staring into a coffee cup and sitting at a bar circling your fingers around the lip of a beer bottle because there's nothing else to do, no one else to talk to?

I ended up making a few circles, looking for activity, trying to weigh the options of the places that might have people inside. Your mind wanders as the deserted parking lots pass by your windows, conjuring up images of buildings falling down or mythical creatures pulling up beside you at red lights. You hear the sounds of lyrics to songs you've never written, and sense the aroma of silken hair in a million colors you'll never have the chance to guide behind someones ears so you can look into their eyes.
And that's when it hits you:
The problem isn't that nothing ever happens in this place
The problem is that anything that does may never be enough.
Out of the corner of my eye something flickers on Hendricks avenue, a motion that hadn't been there before. People. Two of them, in fact -- paying to get into Jackrabbits. A beloved local music place, Jackrabbits offers a stage to touring bands of all descriptions to stop and play at. But the unfortunate truth is that there are so many bands out there that it's just not possible to see them all. For better or for worse, it's become a habit to scan the list of shows they post in the local entertainment newspaper -- and if I don't see anything on that list that catches my interest I don't go to Jackrabbits that week. This must be one of those weeks, because for the life of me I can't even begin to remember who's supposed to be playing there tonight.

Now comes the dilemma. I'm hungry for human contact, for shared experience, for something other than driving around by myself trying to outrun the end of the weekend. But not having any idea who is playing tonight at the local alternative live music bar means that I could be walking into a situation where I'm asked to pay $15 at the door and $5 a beer only to discover that some Rufus Wainwright-wannabe who's huge in West Virginia is going to be doing ten acoustic sets full of songs who's lyrics only contain the word's "You're Beautiful" repeated over and over and over while complaining about how bright the stage lights are. Or worse yet, find myself in a room full of children with black X's painted on their hands chain smoking like death-row inmates while we wait for the first of 17 local christian death metal bands to come on stage and growl something unintelligible while I do my best to duck badly executed karate kicks from the fat kid in the Lamb of God hoodie who seems to know every word that the guy on stage is singing.

Eventually I decide to take the chance. If it's good, then my spontaneity will be rewarded, and if it's bad maybe I'll find something funny to write about. I ask the doorman who's playing, and he mumbles three band names at me that I've never heard before. I think about asking him what they're like, but I already know that he not only doesn't know -- but couldn't care less. He's the doorman at a place that hosts live shows 7 nights a week. He stopped giving a crap what the band's names were ages ago.

It turns out that I've shown up late enough to miss the opening acts, but will still have a chance to catch the entire headlining set. There are maybe 20 people in the place, and they're all standing in front of the stage. The ages vary -- there's a married couple maybe my age, two guys wearing almost the exact same outfit consisting of jeans, cowboy-ish button up shirts, and those horrid emo/hipster trucker hats that I'm always bitching about, and a general smattering of 20-somethings that all seem to know each other, but don't stand out in any individual way.

I get a beer. The band starts up soon after. I wouldn't find out there name until a day later when I re-checked the entertainment weekly, but I was the only one with that problem. It became almost immediately apparent that these 20 people were here to see a performance by their one and only favorite band. They knew the words, they were calling out song requests, every time the band started into a new song the trucker hat dudes would jump up and down and high-five each other in that way that only someone who loved that song and couldn't believe that they were actually getting a chance to hear it performed live can do. As the show progressed, it became clear that some of these people had actually driven several hours to come see this performance, and there were even some people in the crowd who were on their third or fourth night of seeing them in different places.

I had wandered into something magical. Inadvertently become a part of an incredible night for a group of people that I didn't belong to. It was like being at a wedding for people you didn't know, or crashing a neighbors party only to realize that you're the only one there who doesn't know anyones name.

The problem was that the band was actually pretty good. The music was complex, but the choruses were catchy. The guitarists used all kinds of effects, and there was a healthy amount of improvisation going on. The songs seemed to have really open forms, but you could tell this band knew their stuff backwards and forwards. It was a really entertaining show, save for the fact that I was the only one who didn't know what to say when the band would pause for a moment so they could hear the audience singing along (which they did almost all night long).

A day later I would discover the group as Moneen, an emo quartet from Canada who's studio recordings barely do justice to energy of their live performances. Possibly because there was such a serendipity to that show, a singular energy that I was totally aware of, but somehow separate from.

It's not an experience I don't understand, having been on the other side of it many times with bands I love that other people hadn't heard of -- but it added sort of a strange feeling to an already lonely night. I had shared in something powerful with the people in that crowd, but I wasn't really a part of it in the way they were.

It was like the feeling I had when I first moved to Tallahassee to go to college with my friends who had already been there for a year or two, where I had to continually be introduced as "my friend from Jacksonville, don't worry he's cool." or those moments when an ex-girlfriend comes through town and asks you to go to lunch to catch up on old times, only to get there and be introduced to her new husband -- who is glad to meet you, shakes your hand heartily, and then asks in a completely innocent voice
"So, how do you know my wife?"
[Listening to: Dry Kill Logic, "Nightmare"]

Thursday, March 15

It's a League Game, Smokey

Right about now all I really want to do is roll up to Mike Krzyzewski's house and take a baseball bat to his brand new car. I mean come on -- this is the sixth seed that sent FSU back to the NIT for the zillionth year in a row?

Nevermind the fact that you totally effed my brackets -- that was bound to happen eventually anyways, but do you even understand how much it took for me to swallow my pride and actually lend my support to your team, only to have you fade out like a bad fart in the first night?

I know the folks over at VCU are feeling pretty good about themselves right now, but I'm afraid this simply isn't acceptable. Get back in there and do it again. I mean for god's sake Duke, did you even practice before the game? Look at a little tape, maybe?
       Or did you just take my car for a joyride and then
       steal the money that I had hidden in the trunk!?

Is this your homework, Larry? Is this your homework, Larry?
Look, man...
Dude, please? Is this your homework, Larry?
Just ask him about the car.
Is this yours, Larry? Is this your homework, Larry?
Is that your car out front?
Is this your homework, Larry?
We know it's his fucking homework! Where's the fucking money, you little brat?
Look, Larry. Have you ever heard of Vietnam?
Oh, for Christ's sake, Walter...
You're entering a world of pain, son. We know that this is your homework. We know that you stole a car.
And the fucking money.
And the fucking money. And, we know that this is your homework.
We're going to cut your dick off, Larry.
You're killing your father, Larry!
[Listening to: Karnivool, "Shutter Speed"]

Wednesday, March 14

The Institute for Research in Human Happiness

Nestled in Shinagawa City, between the Tōkaidō Shinkansen station and the places where name-stealing monkeys live is a broken-down house. It's a secret place that Yoko told me about once. A place where broken bottles reform, light bulbs flicker, and if you work it just right -- you can fall without crashing.

It's a place where those little voices in your head seem just a little bit louder than you think they should be, where your eyes tend to focus on the corners of picture frames, and everyone carries umbrellas under their arms even though there's never a cloud in the sky.
It's a place that isn't going to be around very much longer.
Somewhere inside that broken-down house is a desk, and somewhere on that surface amongst the piles of shuffled papers stacked according to relevance and date is my cel phone.

I can't believe I walked out the door without it this morning. I'm absent-minded by nature, continually leaving keys and freshly-poured cups of coffee in places they seem to sit comfortably, only to realize moments later that I can't remember where those places actually are. It's an annoying trait, but one it seems I've come to deal with over the years. I keep a set of jumper cables in my truck so I can get it started again anytime I realize I've left the lights on all day. I don't have to use them every day, but knowing that they're there keeps me from getting too angry at myself whenever it occurs.

The weird thing about it is that this sort of thing never happens with my cel phone. It's simply something that I always remember to put in my pocket when I'm walking out the door. Probably because it's the only phone I have. If that weren't enough movtivation, I don't wear a watch anymore so I rely on it to tell the time. Not that I get tons of calls every day, or that I'm talking into it every moment -- but it's the primary method I use to keep connected with the people I care about. If I see something silly I'll send a text message about it, if I find something memorable I'll try to snap a picture. When it rings out loud it plays a NonPoint song that no one in my office has probably ever heard before, and when I've set it to silent it's only my leg that it vibrates against. It's the parrot on my pirate shoulder, and as cliché as it sounds, I really feel kinda naked not having it with me right now.
The problem is, I'm not sure if I really like that feeling.
I mean, it's just a phone. It's just a thing. Sure it's full of gadgets and conveniences that I grown accustomed to using every day, but it's not like I can't get by without it. Sure I might miss a message or a call, but those are easily returned, and usually not that big a deal.

So why do I feel so focused on this?

Yesterday morning I got off to a late start and felt like I was rushing all morning just to get out the door. I got dressed, packed up my stuff, put my phone in my pocket, poured a cup of coffee, headed to the car, and started driving.
Only to realize a few moments later that the coffee was still on the counter.

But by that point I was already running late, already on the interstate on-ramp, and there was really no choice in the matter. It's just a cup of coffee anyways, it's not like I couldn't get another one at work -- I think I was more angry with myself for not remembering to pick it up than I was over the lack of something to drink while I was sitting in traffic.

So this morning I made a special effort to make sure I didn't forget my coffee again. But then at almost that exact same point on the road, just as I was about to head over the Fuller Warren bridge I had a flash of memory that told me something wasn't where it should be -- which sure enough, it wasn't.
Two days in a row.
Lately things have been like that. Not so much that I've been forgetting things in the morning, but that every day there's a point just a little too late to do anything about it where something I needed to remember or was going to do flashes into my head. Updating the blog, buying a new book of stamps, making that mix CD.. I don't know -- things have been kinda scattered lately, and it's hard to understand exactly why.

Not that I haven't had other things to focus on, work's been really busy lately catching up after my trip -- but that some of these things I'm finding myself coming up short with are things that I've always made time for in the past.

I mean, it's not like I haven't had anything to write about lately -- what with everything happening at the office, the tensions and dramas leading up to and instantly melted away the moment I arrived in Maine, or the maddening sense of isolation and loneliness that has followed me like a shadow ever since I had to come back -- but for whatever combination of reasons the blog has gone unfettered for almost two straight weeks. It bothers me too, because I was really on a roll there -- but for the last couple of days even when a moment of free time has presented itself the motivation to sit and try to encapsulate it all hasn't been there.
Almost like I'd left it on a counter somewhere and walked out the door without it.
[Listening to: Taproot, "Birthday"]

Tuesday, March 13

I'm Not Ignoring This Blog

I'm just really busy kicking Arnold's ass right now, apparently.

        Get one!
[Listening to: Karnivool, "Roquefort"]

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