Tuesday, May 31

High Hopes

If you could ask an ant one question, what would it be?
In other words, if ants could understand language and talk back, and you could actually get one of them to stop for a moment and do a "man in the street" interview -- what would you want to know?

Because I'll tell you what I'd ask: That space between my pinky toe and the toe next to it -- right there in the middle there, is that the tastiest part (ant-wise) of a human? Or is biting that part of a person's body that some sort of Sanjuro samaurai boss move that is worth risking your entire life for?
Because rest assured -- dude died an instant, crushing death once he bit me on that spot:
But here it is like three days later and my foot still itches like crazy.
Every step I take seems to irritate it -- but even worse, for whatever bizarre reason scratching at the bite is like the best feeling ever.

I don't really have a good way to explain for that, so I'm hoping beyond hope here that people know what I mean here, but like -- it really itches so scratching it takes that sensation away momentarily, which feels like a physical victory of sorts (even though it actually makes the itch come back worse like a second later), but there's also this weird sort of minor pleasure principle in it. Not like a sensual thing, but like that feeling of scratching your back when you first wake up, or finding a way to scratch under the plaster when your arm's in a cast.

Like, it clearly doesn't feel good in and of itself -- but somehow the act of counteracting the itch (or whatever) is such a primal release of endorphins that you'll just push that button again and again like a labrat zapping himself for a piece of cheese.

I don't know -- it's such a minor thing, but at some point early this morning it was like the MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD to scratch that itch, so much so that I rose from what I can only imagine was a really great dream just to deal with it.
I wonder sometimes if things like that are just me.
This idea that the momentary distractions in my life, whether they be food I shouldn't be eating, some blog or article I get pulled into even if I have work to do, or some TV show that doesn't even have to be good, but somehow engages me on some sort of intellectual curiosity level enough to pull me away from anything else that I might have going on at the moment.

There are times when I wish the kinds of things that distract me in this way were a driving motivation to do endless burpees or recycle, but they're usually far less admirable -- like the name of some character actor from the 70's that I couldn't immediately remember (I finally figured out that his name is Alan Weeks), or what it tastes like when you did barbecue potato chips in peanut butter (the answer: not ..terrible).
So much of succeeding at life I think is in the discipline to do the things that not only need to be done on a daily basis, but the ones that break you out of the various ruts you get into -- and that's where I think a lot of us tend to get mixed up.
Paying bills, not losing your job, keeping up with what's going on in your friends lives, making sure your kid is healthy and happy -- these things are important, sure. They take time and effort, but these are not the things that define you. They can easily engulf your life and feel like the disciplines that you have to keep, but in reality that's just existence. We don't hunt or gather anymore -- we grocery shop and help with homework.

Sometimes I think when money's tight and gas is almost five dollars a gallon and every day seems like a rushed effort to get everything in that you said you'd do that really the best part of the weekend is the part when Game of Thrones comes on and you're like "Fuck the Police, let the DVR get it" and fall asleep instead thinking that's some sort of big victory.

I know getting through the week can be hard. Sometimes I'm amazed I can do it at all.
But that's not the game. It's the trap.
Stop scratching the itch.
Stop scratching the itch.
Stop scratching the itch.

[Listening to:  Skindred - "Guntalk" ]

Thursday, May 19

Somewhere in America There's a Street Named After My Dad

Houston. Phoenix. Colorado Springs. Chicago.
That's the list. That's been the list for a while.
Minnesota was on there too for a spell -- and I guess all things considered it's still in play, but ..not like it was before.

The list is the whittled down short list of places I would move to if I could. Places I list on the job hunt sites as "Willing to Relocates." Places that according to my (admittedly lazy) research feature similar costs of living to where I am now. Chicago and Houston more for their outlying suburbs, Csprings because as much as I'd love to -- I apparently couldn't afford any kind of Denver without a considerable salary jump, and I ain't going back to Longmont.

The list used to be longer. Brooklyn was on there, but it was never something I realistically could envision affording. I know losing the car (which would be a weird transition for a Jville native, but would be the inevitability if I were to go there) would help balance the cost, but clearly not enough. Besides, as much as I loved NYC from the moment I first set foot in that town I've always quietly known that it would be a tough place to survive on my own. I've long held ideas about how romantic it would be to bite and scratch every dime to carve out a life in the apple -- but there's child support to be paid, and that has to come first. Maybe my math is pessimistic, but I can't see doing both for very long.
But in that lies the issue.
Any move. Anywhere. Even if it were as close as Orlando (which was on the list for a while) would mean making a decision about my son.

Now here's the thing: I know plenty of people who's fathers weren't there. I know people who never knew their father (I also know plenty of people who wish they'd never known their fathers, but that's another story). I've known people with absent fathers, and I've known a people with actively asshole-ish dads. I know guys who's dad lived in another country.
And all of these people, every one of them turned out FINE.
In most cases better than fine. Hell, it's entirely possible that part of the push that helped drive these people to success has a partial basis in proving those absent fathers wrong. I can't speak to specifics -- because those are their stories not mine, but what I can say with certainty is that every person I know that went through this experience is someone I flat out know I can count on.

But what I don't know -- what I've never met, and frankly hope never to meet is the kind of person who could look their child right in the eye and say, "I'm leaving."

Maybe it's just me, but I can't even conceive of how someone would do that. How they could friggin' live with themselves.

I love my kid. More than anything. But more than that -- I like hanging out with him. We have a good time together. He reminds me of good things in me that I sometimes forget to see when I'm down on myself. He laughs at my jokes, and he cracks me up CONSTANTLY. But above that, the kid's got a good heart -- despite all he's been through with the divorce and all the fallout, his spirit just doesn't break.
Which is why -- regardless of any ambitions, desires, or even any lists I might have researched
or written down -- I sometimes can't really see how I will ever be able to leave this place.
I hate writing that. But if leaving here means leaving him, then I don't know how I'd ever do it. Even if it were close enough that visitiation would only change a little. A lot of this is of course tied up in the ever-shifting politics between me and my ex and the way I handle them, but I'm not going to get into all that here because honestly you don't really want to hear it, but more importantly that's not really what this is all about. It is a prime factor in all of this of course, but I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that even if it weren't -- If the lines were more clear between the two of us and the tensions and issues weren't always getting in the way, and somehow the two of us were at peace -- I'd still have a huge problem moving away from my son.

My dad didn't move. He stayed in town, close enough to be there -- even though it would have been really easy for him to leave. I have no real evidence that he ever considered moving or ever wanted anything other than to be near me and my brother -- but I sometimes wonder why he didn't. Especially later, once we were both doing our own thing and in college.

Part of that I suppose is my Dad's nature. He could have easily gone back to Colorado, or even shifted to Lakeland where his sister lives -- but I'm not sure either one of those were places he was driven to go. Or perhaps better said, I'm pretty sure my father wasn't in any big hurry to move closer to his relatives. Plus, he tends to get set in his routines. Not to speak ill, but my dad can be really passive sometimes.

It's also probably worth mentioning that despite the fact that my father and I are very similar personalities -- he's never exhibited the kind of wanderlust that seems to constantly run through me. I want to go see places. I constatnly feel like there's something more to find, to be a part of.
I fall victim a lot to feeling like I'm missing out on something.
But whether it's a sense of duty, a comfort with where he is, or a fear of the unknown -- my Dad's never been that guy. And even if he actually is that sort of person, he's never really shown it. What I do know, what I've always known -- even longer than I've known that I was adopted -- is that my dad is there.

I want to move. I want to leave. I've lived in Jacksonville, Florida on and off for over 20 years. It's not the worst place in the world, but I've simply been here too long, become too comfortable and accepting of it's limitations and shortcomings. I need a change of scenery. I need a clean slate. And let's face it -- I could probably use the fire in my belly of having to make it somewhere without a net if I ever want to achieve something more than not getting fired from another corporate gig.
I NEED to go.
..But there's no way I'm leaving that kid.

[Listening to:  Black Label Society - "SDMH" ]

Wednesday, May 18

Being Val Kilmer

One of my more endearing qualities is my ability to make lists (priority, to-do, laundry, etc.) but then do nothing with them.

But at the same time, I think there's a value in putting stuff down on paper. Sort of placing them in black and white -- especially when you're in the midst of a period where you're feeling stalled.

Anyways, one of the things on my list (of course) is to kickstart this blog back to life at least in some form or another. If you've been keeping tabs -- you know that I've gotten pretty addicted to tumblr, and my site there is doing pretty well (62 followers at last count) -- but as I discussed the last time I was here it's not really much of a place for writing (even though I've tried to inject it here and there when I can).
Here's the thing though -- I've still been writing.
Not tons, but outside of regular album reviews for OHN -- there have been these riffs I've found myself kinda messing with. Ideas that started out as metaphors for something else but then sorta grew out into a completely new idea.

Essentially it's like paint thrown on a canvas that sorta looked like a bunny enough that I started revising and editing to make it look more like a bunny -- only to realize after a while that:
A) It still doesn't really look enough like a bunny for me to feel like it's publishable, and
B) Now that I think about it, this story wasn't supposed to be about bunnies in the first goddamn place, so either I'm going to have to try to somehow loop all of this bunny crap back to the original point, or I just need to trash it altogether.
Here's the thing: Most of what you write is going to be junk. Any literary meta-text will hammer that point at you. To wit: the whole reason you need to write so much is so you can weed through all your mental diarrhea as you move towards the words you're really trying to get out.

Or to put it another way: The revision and editing process in writing is essentially similar to the classical envisioning of sculpture, where you aren't so much carving an image into the stone as much as you're trying to peel away all the outer layers to free the sculpture that already exists inside the rock.

Whether that's true or not is hard to say, because the process is different for every writer and artist out there, but I do think when you're sort of freewriting in an effort to sort of solidify an idea that might not be fully formed in your head yet the metaphor holds up pretty well.

But what all the meta-textbooks about writing never really talk about is that place you sometimes get where you've revised and edited and reworked and chiseled into the rock and when you take a step back to look at it, the idea you finally carved out wasn't really worth a shit in the first place.

Bad ideas happen. Stupid stories exist. It's almost like modern artists (writers and filmmakers especially) put so much emphasis on process that even when a finished work isn't good -- it's still worth putting out as evidence of the work done.

For example -- I see a lot of movies that I feel have some value, but don't work as a whole. I can appreciate them partially and enjoy the experience of watching them -- but as I walk away I there's really no way I can call the whole thing good just because of that concession.
But in an odd way, I sorta do anyways.
I like all sorts of terrible songs because they have great guitar solos. I find myself defending bad movies time and time again because they're "fun" (while turning around and mercilessly hating on other movies that are probably equally good/bad, but don't really fit my particular definition of "fun.")

I don't know -- I'm rambling here, but the point I'm getting towards is that I reach these points periodically where I don't feel like my perceived half-efforts as a writer are worth sharing on this blog just as proof that I'm deeply immersed in some hoidy-toidy "process" (especially if I feel like it's not working).
But I have been writing.
It's just that a lot of what I've been writing lately has been (in my opinion) pretty terrible, and not just because it was overly sappy or high-reaching.

I've still got all of it, as I rarely throw drafts away (thanks Rick Straub) -- but even on re-reading today I'm still at a crossroads as to whether it's something that needs more revising, or if it's just out-and-out junk. And I think in the end that's the issue that leads to these cyclical gaps that show up on this blog a few times a year -- where I start to think of posting on a blog as PROOF THAT I'M A REAL WRITER WORTHY OF ENSHRINEMENT IN THE CANON versus just a place to throw shit up on the web for other people to see and comment on.
Long story short: I'm making too big a deal out of something because it's my something.
And like so many other things going on in my life right now, I kinda just need to get over it and stfu.
Like, I get mad (really mad, actually) when I find out that Rosario Dawson is co-starring in the new Kevin James movie. To me, being in what essentially looks like a Paul Blart Mall Cop sequel is beneath her, and I expect better from what I perceive to be a smart, sexy, and above all independent actress who's had enough success at this point to be in control of her career choices.

So here I am -- not blogging almost as if I were some kind of bizzaro-world Rosario Dawson turning down a part and NOT WORKING because it looks like a stupid fart joke movie made for Middle 'Murica and I believe that I'm capable of better.
And there she is on the screen, actually doing what she loves.

[Listening to:  Polkadot Cadaver - "Mongaloid" ]

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