Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The mind reels

Sleep was just impossible to find last night. My head was filled with all the worries and stresses of the recent days. I usually try to have a pretty laid back demeanor but inside I’m a nervous horror show.

I was wondering about my manic depressive states last night and I sat glumly on the couch. I was jealous of that blasted American Chopper show because those guys on there are doing exactly what they want to do with their lives and they are happy. I still haven’t a clue what that’s like. So, that just made me feel even worse. I’ve got a money pit of a car, a rented apartment, no girl friend, no prospects, no real satisfaction in my job or my personal life. So yeah, it was a rough night trying to find some sleep.

I woke up with Edgar Allen Poe in my head again. His delightful melancholy brought me a little comfort as I thought about the Raven and the author’s wish it return to the nights Plutonian shore. That’s kind of a depressing thing to have on the brain first thing in the morning. So I tried to shake it off. I know that most of the troubles I find myself in are essentially my fault. I am a victim of circumstance, but I created those circumstances in the first place so there’s no one to blame but myself.

I was angry as I got to work today, feeling a deep and searing hatred for all the people crowded around me. I wanted them to go away; which, in retrospect is a pretty crappy thing to think. I really don’t mean them any ill-will. They are just people doing their own thing. Sure they might get in my way and I have a desire to push them into traffic and keep walking without looking back, but I wouldn’t really do that. It’s just sleep deprivation and a general crabbiness that is making me type this way.

So, I’ve got to pull my stuff together and get over it. I’ve got to make this life my own and stop screwing around. I need people to shut up and just let me do it at my own pace. I need a cigarette. I’m going to go have one.

I just realized that this is my 200th post on this site. How about that? I guess there’s something to be happy about after all. Thanks for reading. I really appreciate it. Even if it is a little spotty and moody at times.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stop it. Serious, stop it.

Chicago, you are not a pimp and I am not your whore. I am tired of the constant shake downs. Parking tickets, red light tickets, and now an abandoned vehicle tow notice. Apparently in the City of Chicago, you have to move your car every seven days if you live on a residential block. Never mind that you try to park your car in the same spot as often as possible. If a Streets and Sanitation “inspector” feels you car hasn’t moved enough they can have it towed, at the owner’s expense.

I am furious with this city. Thank goodness I looked out my window early this morning and saw the numbers written in soap on my driver’s side window and the big white pain in the ass sticker slapped to the glass. So I was able to go out and move my car to another spot, far away from the original one. But that might be meaningless.

I called the Streets and Sanitation department to complain. I had just moved my car yesterday. I got nowhere as expected. She explained to me that there is a City Ordinance that requires all vehicles to be moved within a seven day period. I said that didn’t make sense. How in the world could an “inspector”, know how often a car had been moved in any given seven day period? I might move my car every day but just happen to get the same parking space in front of where I live. And I can be towed for that. She said the “inspectors”, cruise EVERY street EVERY SINGLE DAY and know if a vehicle moved or not. I asked her what if none of the cars on the block moved, what if every single person on that block just happened to get the same parking space all week. She said again that cars have to move up or down the block every seven days. I was livid. I told her that was a shameless waste of city funds and it was pitiful. I thanked her for her help and concluded the call, feeling more angry and incensed than before.

I’m still livid. This city has been raping my wallet and telling me its ice cream for far too long. They might as well push me up against a pin-ball machine and tell me I was asking for it. I usually love my hometown, but today I would rather it just sat in the other room and go fuck itself.

Oh and it’s good to be back after that short break. Maybe tomorrow I’ll take over the world.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Skynet is coming

I was looking forward to going out for a little while last night. It had been a long day at work and I felt I could use a frosty libation to soothe the savage work day. I got home and had a little something light for dinner and then decided I should check my e-mail/Facebook and the other million of things there is to do on-line.

I checked one of the many dating web sites I am on because no live woman will give me the time of day.  I wanted to see if "PreTTyGirl83", (generic screen name) had responded to my hilarious message about the realities of on-line dating and how demoralizing it is and that I do indeed like her dress in her profile picture when an error message of a sort popped up on the screen.

My computer was warning me that an unknown and unauthorized blabbity-blah was trying to gain access to my system. And that I should click “No”, in order to deny it access. The message looked “Windows” legitimate, very much like other error messages I had seen before, so I clicked “No, I do not allow this program access”. Then the roof fell in.

My computer froze for a second, the dating web site vanished to be replaced with an alleged Anti-Virus scan that was running a check on my system and telling me I had been infected with 38 different viruses and action was needed immediately. The scan was free but to activate the defenses they would need $89.00. I was trying to cancel and cancel and Esc and everything I could think of but nothing was working.

A mild, “Ohcrapohcrapohcrap”, sort of panic started to seep in and the mind went into immediate regret mode telling me how many times it reminded me to update my anti-virus software and how many times I ignored it. So I did what any tech savvy young person would do at this moment of computer obliteration. I turned it off.  

I restarted in the hopes that it would reboot in a safe mode and tell me that it had just recovered from a serious threat but all systems were go. That was not the case. It wouldn’t even let some of the program files load. Just that damn “Virus protection” virus kept jamming everything up, allegedly scanning and reporting on the 38 viruses now stealing all my passwords and credit card information.

Luckily I was able to get on-line and update my regular anti-virus software (at no small cost) and get a patch from Microsoft to destroy the virus. Unfortunately this whole process took six hours and I was unable to go out or even (at that point) get to bed at a reasonable hour. I managed to get to bed a little after 1:00 a.m. with one of the Microsoft scans still running a full diagnostic through my whole system. I couldn’t stay up any longer and went to bed.

This morning the scan was completed and all the terrors of the previous night had seemingly been eradicated. It was a relief to say the least, but now I’m still nervous and feel my computer is more like a delicate flower than I would have imagined. It needed too much attention and worship and I felt like I was at the altar of the new God. I felt as if the machines were starting to take control and I was no longer the master of my own life. I really did want to go out for a little while and enjoy my real life, but the internet and computer had other plans for me. If anything, I’ve learned a new lesson. Destroy the machines before they get smart enough to destroy us. And, as an afterthought, on-line dating is dangerous.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday needs a little work

I had a great idea for a piece to write about last night. I was in bed, just nearly asleep when I was inspired to write an awesome, though provoking piece. I woke up and it was gone. I have no idea what it was about. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what it could have been but it’s just gone.

It hopped on the thought train headed out of town it would seem. It was probably chased out of town by a rowdy group of Caballeros and cowboys, all whooping and a-hollerin’, firing their pistols after it. I’m sure there was a lovely, forlorn schoolmarm, so in love with the idea that she’ll be unable to consider a life without it.

My life must go on however and Tuesday has decided it was going to be busy. So I’ll have to do some work instead of the real work I enjoy.   

Monday, August 22, 2011

Urban Scarecrow

I never noticed it before but there’s a scarecrow on the Union Pacific North line headed into Chicago.  Just before the train heads into Ogilvie station there’s a small patch of corn off to the side of the rail road tracks. (So if you’re headed into the city it’s on your left side.) Sticking up over this small patch of corn is a blue faced scarecrow. I had to do a three take to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. But it was there.  The train was moving a little fast so I couldn’t get a super clear look at it but I’m quite positive it was there.

It’s so strange it has to be true. So if you have a chance and ride that train; try and spot the urban scarecrow. It did make me think of all the crazy things Stephen King has written over the years. I mean this bizarre urban scarecrow holding dominion over a small patch of corn on a heavily travelled train line in the middle of Chicago. I’m sure there’s something sinister behind it. At night it probably comes to life and leads little lost girls from Kansas to the “Wizard” where they wind up in a life of prostitution and smack. John’s coming up to her, asking her how much for the “Auntie Em”.

But that’s a little cynical I suppose. I’m sure it’s some wonderfully intentioned Eco/Green Group trying to prove that an urban environment could and should be used for some farming. I’ve seen some futurists comment on the use of urban space for some limited farming resources. I think it’s a pretty neat idea. There’s a lot of wasted space in big cities and some of that could be used for small farming. Imagine a large office building and the huge roof space it has. Now imagine that roof space is a lush green space filled with various plants and foods. Chicago would truly live up to its city motto of “Urbs in Horto”, or City in a Garden.

I think for me as a writer, I prefer to think that scarecrow is something dark and evil though. A malignant reminder of an era lost to urban expansion and a loss of American innocence. A tumor of a lost time when most people knew how to plant something in the ground and reap what the Earth provided. I know I can barely keep a house plant alive. God forbid there was any disaster that required the desertion of the city. I’d starve in no time without the local supermarket to provide me with all my pre-packaged, pre-prepared meals. I’d end up eating something poisonous, turning blue and keeling over before the first wave of evacuations was complete. All the while cursing the day I saw that damned Urban Scarecrow.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Brutal dreaming

She was an artist with a peculiar mode of expression. She would wear a tight white body suit and lay in her bed.  Near her were containers of paint and anyone that she felt worthy could dip their fingers into the paint and draw on her body. She didn’t approve of anything being written on her, but an expression of her inert sexuality though color was what she desired. I had a hard time getting the concept at first and it seemed rather risqué but from what I could see already painted on her it was something artistically sensual.

It was kind of a flesh meeting color kind of thing. I think I blushed as I got near her and she must have sensed my bashfulness because she sat up and drew me closer to her. She smiled at me and seemed to tell me with her eyes that it was okay to find some intimacy with her through the paint. I think I sort of laughed with nervousness until she took my hand, dipped my index finger into some red paint and guided my hand to her inner thigh where she began using my hand to draw.

I had a hard time catching my breath. She was too beautiful and this was just too intimate, but she smiled at me again and I felt myself calming down. I looked at what my red finger was painting on her thigh and it was a simple line, thick in the middle but sort of blurry at the edges. She then took my middle finger and dipped it in some yellow paint and returned to her thigh and added some yellow details to the red outline already drawn.  I couldn’t make out the shape of it, but I was felt myself getting dizzy with desire.

I had to step away from her. The experience, the direct silent intimacy of it had left me stunned. I’ve been with women, plenty of women, but I couldn’t recall this near panic rumbling I felt inside. It was as if through this action I had found love or at least knew what it looked like. It was red and yellow, soft and hot, a flame on the inside of her thin smooth thigh. She looked down at the fire now drawn on her and then back up at me. I could feel her desire, her longing to kiss me. I stepped toward her and our lips met.

Her lips tingled on mine, it was electricity, it was a blue spark exploding. I stumbled backwards a bit but she held me close, locked in this embrace with me.  I felt myself slipping away, as if I was no longer part of the real world. I felt ghostly. I felt unreal, like I had been unmade by God only to re-made as a kiss.

I fell back again, our lips becoming untangled. I slowly stepped away and seemingly into a new bed. A near-by bed and got under the covers. I tried to close my eyes and make myself real again. She didn’t let me though. As soon as I felt I was comfortable under the covers she came to me again. She was naked now; the paints and the white body suit left behind, and climbed into the bed with me. The shape of her body, her smooth unpainted skin now pressing against mine, I couldn’t find the air to breath. She looked at me with her soft knowing eyes and gently whispered, “Why did you leave?”

I woke up in my cruel lonely bed. My alarm was beeping like a maniac on my dresser. I felt the dream slipping away and I cursed its brutality.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I have a very hearty laugh. There’s no denying it. When I laugh, other people can’t help themselves and they start laughing too. Last night was one of those nights were I was engaged in some spirited conversation about the art world and I happened to make a few jokes here and there, as I’m prone to do. A young woman I was talking with started to laugh. I asked her what was so funny and she said she loved my laugh and it made her laugh; which made me laugh a little more. Her boyfriend whom I was also speaking with then said to his girlfriend, “Don’t worry, he’s deeper than his laugh”.

Well, that just stopped cold. “I’m deeper than my laugh?” I questioned. He said that there was more to me than my deep, hearty laugh. Then he added that I would probably write about it tomorrow, which I then said I would. So I am.

It really was one of the nicest compliments I’ve received in quite a long while and it really made me feel good. I know people like my laugh for the most part. I’m sure there are some that can’t stand it when I really get going. But I think overall, people are really laughing with me and enjoy the sound of my healthy Ha-Ha’s. But no one ever really related any deeper meaning to my laugh as it relates to my perception of the world. It was quite touching and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

We continued our conversation about art and it was just good to have that conversation. I seem to go for very long periods without any discussions about art or its meaning or what it means to the observer. It always feels good to get the everyday grime and gunk of the world hosed off with meaningful conversation. It’s nice to hold it up in the light and remember that it does shine. Throw in a little laughter and it makes everything seem a little better, or at least a little more bearable.  

I’ll have to try and remember it as I sit here in my cube, wasting the hours I’d otherwise waste more effectively elsewhere.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I don’t have a very long train ride in the morning. It’s about 12 to 15 minutes long and usually moves a pretty good clip. It almost seems like there isn’t even enough time to start reading the paper because it’s doubtful you’ll get to the end. I didn’t have a paper this morning (the damn newspaper boxes were empty) and I just had to take a seat and stare blankly about.

I sat next to a woman who had a large book open on her lap. The book appeared to be The History of Illinois Bell, or the old phone company. It was a thick tome and she was spending considerable time reading through it. I didn’t want to try and read over her shoulder as that’s considered rude but I was curious. I was curious why in the world any person in this day and age of cell phones and wireless everything needed to go back and review the complete history of telephone service in Illinois. But then again, I was also curious about it myself because I like knowing that crap.

As I was pondering these questions, I noticed the woman sitting in seat in front of us who was putting on her make-up. She was not what one would call a terribly attractive woman, but she certainly wasn’t Quasimodo. She did however spend what seemed like an inordinate amount of time applying her make-up. There were brushes and pads and mirrors and liners and smaller brushes and touch ups and more liners and powder and looking in her compact mirror and more rouge and more brushing. My eyes started to water with the flurry of make-up floating about in the air.  She even checked her lips once more in the reflective surface of her iPhone.

I was sitting behind her for all of this, in fact she was putting her make-up on the entire ride, and I could still see one blemish just behind her jaw line that no matter how much make-up she put on, she kept missing. When the train finally pulled into the station I made it a point to try and see what kind of masterpiece she had unleashed upon her visage. Amazingly it didn’t look like she had put on any make-up at all. She was still pale with tired eyes, her cheeks still looked pallid and her lips seemed dry. I couldn’t believe after all that work nothing looked accomplished.

I was reminded of the Gloria Steinem documentary I watched on Monday night and the struggle women had for their Civil Rights, or at least the Woman’s Lib movement. I thought, “This woman, a working, liberated woman, just spent more time putting on fictional make-up for work than I’ll spend writing about it. Is that liberation?”

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Trying to get to it

My thoughts have been extremely scattered as of late and I’ve been having a difficult time coming up with one of those concise pieces everyone so enjoys. My thoughts have travelled from Polio vaccination shot scars to the creation of the Universe to what I’ll have for lunch.

Most of my recent thinking has dwelled on women for too long and I’ve decided I’m no longer going to put any effort into trying to meet “the right” girl. If anything I’m going to take a super laid back approach and see what comes to me. I’m quite exhausted from trying to be proactive in this vain search. I’m on three dating web sites and all of them suck. I’ve talked to women in person and clearly they’re not interested in me. (I can’t imagine why). So screw it. I’m done.   

Now, how did those Polio vaccination scars get to be so bad? With the warm weather this summer I noticed a lot of them on the arms of older citizenry and they are wicked scars. Dr. Salk was an amazing scientist who found the cure, but apparently he wasn’t too keen on any anti-scarring program. It’s such a curious collective scar on an entire generation.

My generation has nothing like it, at all. In fact, I don’t remember my generation having any unifying event or experience; other than the Challenger disaster. That was hardly a rallying cry for us to protest space exploration or anything.

The Universe needs exploring of course, there’s so much to learn about ourselves from that vastness that it’s nearly impossible to comprehend. I think it should be science’s goal to really seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before; and kick ass.

I think I’ll get a sandwich for lunch today. Sigh.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Step, ball, change

I’ve been trying all morning to come up with a fun and exciting post for today but every time I start I get interrupted by something stupid. There’s nothing in the world that destroys any creative vibes better than soul crippling work.   

Every sentence I’ve started gets torpedoed by an irate claimant or some stupid e-mail. It’s very aggravating to the creative mind to be harassed by tedium. It’s my own fault though. I should have tried harder as a younger man to find my creative niche in the world, rather than having some crazy expectation that opportunity would come to me.

I’m not too happy with my coffee today either. Oh look, I got another an e-mail. I should probably write these posts from home without all the “work” distractions. Of course, I’m not sure what I would say then. Complaining about my lot in life is what I do best. Changing it however is not something I am good at. Why didn’t I take tap dancing?  Or take all that energy for sitting at the bar and turn it into, like, owning a bar? Why didn’t I follow through with those arm wrestling classes or whaling seminars?

Meh, meh, meh, that’s all I got for this Monday. And ah one, and ah two, and ah three….

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Word Slinger

The castle walls are too thick today. I don’t have the words to hurl against its stone ramparts. What I’ve launched has bounced off and fallen into the moat.  The troops are restless and have dug in for a siege. I fear it’s a lost cause however.

I’m in my tent on the battlefield, staring at the blank maps, trying to come up with a plan of attack. I’m running low on ammunition and I need inspiration. There’s no ink in my quills and no structure to my thoughts.  I’m stuck thinking about that rider on the white horse.

She said her name was Thursday and she rode into our camp just at the break of dawn. She was dressed in a long white gown, with her shoulders exposed to the early morning dew. Her dress was damp and lightly sticking to her frame as she dismounted and walked confidently into my command. The sheerness of her gown betrayed a figure worthy of Olympus and my eyes were teary with desire.

It was my own fault for trusting her. My own fault for being so willing to fall for her wiles; she had her hand on my heart and she held my head as I wept and sobbed into her gentle shushing embrace.  I told her I had let the men down. I told her I had nothing left to give.

She lifted my head and I looked into her hazel, glowing eyes. She told me I was right. It was a lost cause; this battle would not be won today. But she added, it is only one battle, the war is long. She was quick with her work and with a few delicate smiles and gentle touch; she took all of our good words and then left us in a rut. She packed them onto her white steed and rode off into the morning mist. I stood at the edge of my tent, watching her ride off with everything strong and steely I thought I had to say.

So now I sling empty words at a wall I cannot hope to conquer. But I’ll dig in and fight on, for this battle is lost but I’ll win the war.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Let me get this straight

Okay, so there’s rioting in London. Apparently people were protesting the death of a 29 year old black man who was shot in a police operation on Thursday. He died of a single gunshot wound to the chest. It is alleged a cab he was in was stopped by police and it is suggested that the 29 year old opened fire on the officers or at least shots were fired from the cab that was carrying the 29 year old. He was a suspected gang member and it is alleged he was carrying a loaded firearm at the time of the incident.

Riots started in Tottenham and spread quickly through several London suburbs. Roaming gangs started looting shops, attacking buses and setting cars and shops on fire. The majority of the riots are allegedly copycat type crimes committed by opportunists who have no political affiliation with the shooting.  There also seems to be very little connection to previous protest riots of the past, but it’s a little hazy still.

Okay, so here’s what I don’t understand, why were people protesting initially? Maybe it’s my American naïveté and the fact that shooting by police and criminals is so commonplace in America that the idea of an actual anti-violence protest is beyond my scope of rationality. But really? Gun violence is nothing brand new to Britain. These current riots still don’t make much sense to me. Were people upset over the police’s use of force? Were they concerned it was racially motivated? Is London that fragile that one shooting can topple the government’s control? If that’s the case, the time to take London and England is at hand!

I guess there is a seething tension between the police and the people after some questionable incidents of the past. And it’s something I find surprising. I thought the Brits were a nice and civilized society, but it would seem they have the same disenfranchised youth America has and no one has taken any time to actually deal with the problem in a direct and reasonable way. So things get set on fire and shops get looted all in the name of the anarchists and unrecognized. The disregarded have a voice and when they find it, it’s spit fire and destruction.

Civil unrest is nothing new, especially for the English. They’ve had a violent history spanning all the way back to the Romans in AD 43. So a little looting and rioting is no big deal really. Unless you are one of the many individuals directly affected by the damage done of course, then you might have a beef.

But I’m still not sure I get it. I’m still not sure if I have the whole story. Who organized these protests that turned into country wide riots? What is bubbling under the surface of England that fuels such rampant unrest? I know why things like that happen here in America and we struggle with it every day and maybe that is the difference; these things don’t happen every day there (or as often at least) and maybe their outrage is legitimized. Imagine if we reacted the same way to every shooting here in the States. There’d be nothing left but ashes.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More machine than man

Today I received my first artificial human part. I now have a porcelain rear molar to replace the one that’s been missing for so very long. I find it strange how that piece can be so easily replaced. I’m sure it’ll be such a part of me that I won’t even remember when I actually received it.

It did make me wonder how much is replaceable on the human body. We have artificial hips, knees, legs, arms, elbows, bones in general, eyes, ears, noses, even faces now. We can fix the heart and most internal organs. We can plug the brain directly into a computer and move the mouse arrow with mere thoughts. It’s just amazing the super race were slowly building.

Yes, a race of computer enhanced, bionic equipped super teens is coming soon. That scares the crap out of me. Super advanced teenagers unafraid of being grounded for having their loud Emo/rap/Zen music blasting in the dining room because they can vaporize you with their eye lasers. That’s just terrifying.

“Johnny? Did you download your homework?”
“Shut up Dad. I’m virtual masturbating.” LASER BLASTER POWERING UP
“Okay Johnny. Okay. I’ll be in my room, er, behind the steel blast doors”.

I always wondered why more people in the Star Wars universe didn’t voluntarily get body modifications all the time. Luke got a new hand; Darth Vader got a whole body, why not get freaking rocket feet or something like that?

I am a little nervous for my new tooth right now. I don’t want to do anything to break it or cause myself any undo discomfort. Plus, it feels weird to have a tooth there again. Wish the dentist had put a little laser in there. Then all would tremble before my mighty Molar Laser. I would call it the Molar 3000 MegaHyper Death Weaver. Then they’d pay.

I mean, I’d never use it for evil. (cough) I don’t think I would be corrupted towards a life of evil by my Molar 3000 MegaHyper Death Weaver. Although…

Monday, August 8, 2011

Smells like funeral flowers in here

I could not sleep last night so I started reading some poetry from Edgar Allen Poe and I found myself having to read it aloud to get its full effect.  That guy was disturbed. I mean I knew he was disturbed but I guess I must have missed the degrees of his terror in my youthful reading of his works.

Take this portion of The Sleeper
At midnight, in the month of June,
      I stand beneath the mystic moon.
      An opiate vapor, dewy, dim,
      Exhales from out her golden rim,
      And, softly dripping, drop by drop,
      Upon the quiet mountain top,
      Steals drowsily and musically
      Into the universal valley.”

So I was laying bed, reading aloud and was enchanted by the thought of an opiate vapor. I thought I should probably try to use that phrase more often. The poem goes on and this line struck me,

“My love, she sleeps! Oh, may her sleep
      As it is lasting, so be deep!
      Soft may the worms about her creep!”

So he was clearly writing about a dead woman and he was wishing that as she rotted, it would be peaceful and soft. Soft may the worms about her creep. What a strange sentiment to wish the dead, but I understand it. My tasteless sense of humor of course just told me I should save that line for use at a funeral, but then it wouldn’t probably be taken in the vein it’s meant.

I’ve always liked E.A.P. and I’ve quoted him before. His imagery and imagination are nearly unmatched in its bizarreness.  That’s what makes reading him so interesting. It really did put in the right mood for Monday though. All I could think about were rotting corpses and lost loves buried near the sea. Edgar was clearly a man adverted to working a steady, day to day job. I couldn’t imagine him at a desk handling customer service complaints.

“Excuse me, Mr. Poe. I’m afraid I have a problem with this blender”.
“Blended hell was wrought upon thee righteously”.
“Um, I see. Um, can I maybe exchange this model for a similar one?”
“Lo! The model! Swept away or’e night by angels claws and the green haze of their wings”
“So, you don’t have this model? Dang”.
“Alas, nay. Next!”

I don’t think I got enough sleep last night.

Friday, August 5, 2011

I’m just not cool

That’s what it is. I figured it out. I’m just not that cool. I was riding the blue line this morning and was surrounded by teenagers and hipsters all headed to Lollapalooza downtown. I didn’t recognize these people. I’m pretty sure they were human but perhaps came from the far off planet called Hipsterion 8. They all looked so… full of themselves.

I didn’t remember feeling that way when I was 22. I wasn’t quite sure of anything then, other than my obvious immortality. But I think my cool then is not cool now and what is cool now is beyond my ability to understand. I’ve actually reached that point where I don’t know what cool is anymore and oddly, I’m okay with it.

So I’m wearing a green polo shirt and jeans today. I can’t always bust out the cool wardrobe of yesteryear to impress total strangers. Although I would like a new pair of Vans; those shoes were soooooo comfy. See I wouldn’t buy them for the way they looked but for their actual function, as appropriate comfortable footwear. Yeah, I’m not cool.  

I am okay with not being cool. The only people that I want to think that I’m cool are my bartenders, my eventual wife and my eventual children. And eventually my children will no longer think I’m cool and by then they will be right. Them and their hover boards and computer heads-up display 3D learning machines. Rotten future kids.

I’m not cool and frankly, neither are you. George Clooney is cool. Dean Martin was cool. Frank was cool. Some super tattooed recovering drug addict that played the drums in some metal/rap/techno group is not what I consider cool. He’s just lucky.

You know what else isn’t cool? Working on Friday. Man, that is so not cool. But I have to do it to stay the square I am. And I guess that’s okay. Us squares got to eat and buy booze and cigarettes too.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Katie’s not sleepy

Katie wasn’t sure why she stayed up so late watching that horror movie. It wasn’t even very good. There were some interesting plot twists but in the end it was all just your regular gore and descent into madness for the main character. It was the imagery that was troubling her. There was a very vivid eye gouging that she had trouble shaking from her mind. If there was anything she didn’t like it was anything involving the eyes. She had been troubled by eye gouging since she was a little girl and her father let her watch The Toxic Avenger and he gouged out four bad guys eyes and then wore them on his fingertips. It still gave Katie a chill to think about it.

She turned the TV off and checked the wall clock. 12:41 a.m. That was far too late for a Wednesday for her. She could have gone to bed two hours ago but was unable to tear herself away from the horror movie. She mildly shamed herself for not being more responsible. Getting up in the morning is always so much harder when she stays up past 10:30. She turned the light off in the living room and headed to the bathroom to brush her teeth and complete her pre-bedtime rituals. She thought that she should probably cut back on all the face washing, hair tying, primping and plucking before bed because it’ll be 1:00 a.m. by the time she finally gets under the covers. But habit is habit and she mechanically completed all her tasks.

She looked at the temperature gage on the air conditioner in the bedroom window and it was holding steady at 73 degrees.  Katie smiled to herself and was glad the heat wave was finally over. Most nights it could be 80 degrees in her bedroom even with the air conditioner running. At least tonight she could curl up under her sheet and be nice and comfy, for a few hours at least.  She turned off the bedroom light and flopped down onto her pillow. She got herself settled and was quickly asleep.

Katie’s eyes opened at 2:34 a.m. She had been dreaming about her girlfriend and something to do with her dog or something. It was a very confused dream and it woke her up. She had to look around her dark bedroom for a quick minute to realize she was awake. She looked at her clock and groaned. 6:30 was getting closer and that was bad. She rolled over to the cool side of the pillow and sighed.

A flicker of light in the corner of the room caught her attention. She hadn’t ever seen it before. It looked sort of like a fishing lure, dangling just under the surface of the water on a sunny day. Or the little light effect theater companies use for Tinkerbelle as she pixies her way across stage. Katie tried to focus her eyes on the little flicker but it just didn’t seem to come into focus. She figured it was probably a reflection off something outside and was just making it through her bedroom blinds just right. She yawned and closed her eyes again and tried to get back to sleep and her girlfriend/dog dream.

She heard a thud and her eyes flew open. She looked at her clock and its red digital numbers flashed a furious 3:00 a.m. She froze in her bed for a moment, trying to decide if she really heard a noise or if it was something she dreamed. She strained to listen for any other noise. She could barely hear the room because her heart was pounding so loudly in her chest. She tried to calm herself and took a deep breath and that’s when she heard it.
Soft music. Soft, gentle music could be heard in her apartment. It was like a violin playing softly, but not a violin, more like a tiny violin that could fit into a music box; just like the kind of music box with the little pink ballerina in it that every little girl seemed to own at some point in their lives. The quiet little song sounded familiar, haunting.

Katie sat up and rubbed her face and strained to listen for the music again. It might be coming from one of the apartments; maybe a little kid was awake and playing with a music box. Damn kids. Katie was pretty determined not to have kids. She quieted her thoughts and breathing and listened again.

Another thud came from her hallway by the bathroom, near her bookcase. The thud sounded like a book had fallen or maybe more than one book. The tiny violin music continued to play, and it almost seemed louder, closer. Katie started to get nervous but she had to check it out. She wasn’t a coward. She’d been through worse than this. That time in college when she came out and the whole campus seemed to think she was some kind of leper. That was tough. Some mysterious music box noise in the hallway, that was easy.

She stepped out of bed and tried not the make the floorboards creak. She was trying to listen for the music. It wasn’t as loud as before. She stepped into the hallway and looked down at the bookcase. There was enough ambient light from the street lamps that her eyes didn’t have to adjust too much. And sure enough, nothing was there. No books had fallen and the little violin music had stopped. She sighed and put her hands on her hips. The whole thing was silly and she was annoyed she had to get out of bed to investigate nothing, being so early in the morning, with work rapidly approaching.

She turned back towards the bedroom and got into her bed. She put her head on the pillow and instantly remembered the tune. The song that she had heard from the music box was something her grandfather played when she was a very little girl.  He had learned a sad gypsy song and he would play it for her when she was tired but wouldn’t go to bed. Katie could now hear the gentle and soothing song more clearly in her head and she drifted into a deep and calm sleep.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Designed to fail

I was riding the train into work this morning and I noticed the simple directions on the emergency exit window.  Basically they state to “Grab Bar – Lift up. Pull down window. Exit”. I’m actually surprised you don’t push the window out because in the case of an accident there might be a problem opening the window in. Nevertheless, I thought about how many things in this world and how much we experience has failure integrated into its design.

The majority of businesses we enter have doors that can be pushed outward in case of an emergency; planes have emergency escapes, fire escapes, bumpers, sprinklers, padded seats, parachutes, flotation devices, cardboard sleeves around coffee cups, just about everything has considered failure as an option and designs were made for it to fail effectively. Mind you they were not made for perfect operation, but with failure as a real option.

Like my love life; now there’s something designed for failure. Unfortunately and through no fault of her own; my tepid wedding date is now unable to join me for this upcoming nuptial celebration. So now I must begin the quest again for a suitable wedding date. Sigh. Where’s my escape valve? Time is starting to run a little short as well.

What I can’t figure out from an engineering perspective is how my dating system seems to fail? I’m a very nice guy. I’m hilarious. I’m hardly gruesome. I’m a sensitive lover. I am interested in the things a significant other is. I listen. I’m kind. I’m attentive. I’m emotionally available. I work. I have my own place. By all those things I should be rolling in available and attractive mates. But there’s a monkey wrench in there somewhere gumming up the works causing a misfire. Now I know I don’t really cruise the meat market bars, but I am on-line with two dating sites and I make myself available for any interaction that might avail itself at any of the places I do frequent. So where’s the design flaw?

So as the old adage goes, back to the drawing board. And I’m now re-accepting any volunteers (now's your chance) for a wedding adventure as well as moving on to asking the next on the list of potential mechanics. Not that I need them to fix this broken machine, but I apparently need a tune up.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Texting Dick Tracy

Last night I was watching Warren Beatty’s ‘Dick Tracy’ on TV. I remember when that movie first came out and the entire hubbub it caused. In fact, I sincerely blame that movie for the resurgence of swing music and the idea of jazzy type night clubs. Or at least it planted the idea of those kinds of places in the young minds of entertainment entrepreneurs. That whole Fedora thing and retro style, yeah, I blame Warren Beatty.

I watched the movie till about 11:00 and made my move to head to bed. It had been a long Monday and I was looking forward to a nice and relaxing night’s sleep. But no sooner had I started to drift off into a dream world of bartending robots and a friend’s husband; my phone chimed with a new text message, and then another. I was reluctant to look at it. I wanted to get back to my confusing dream, which was already fading from memory.

I decided to check (you never know when it might be an emergency) and it was the Ex-girlfriend. She had been having a few cocktails and suddenly felt the urge to get my input on a few unresolved issues she had. Which she immediately regretted sending. I was courteous and obliged her to the best of my ability. I was even complimentary. Suddenly things got hostile and she got a little mean and to this moment I’m not even sure why. The texting went back and forth for a while until I finally had to state that I was going to sleep and that she should probably consider it as well.

But that almost never ends it. I tossed and turned and was up again at three o’clock in the morning wondering what would have brought on such strange and seemingly misplaced anger. I felt sorry that she was still so stuck on our old issues. I have made my peace with what we were and what we are and felt/thought that we had moved past any old resentment. I certainly don’t resent her or have any feelings of ill toward her. It just seemed that she was still pretty unresolved on some things and I don’t know why.

So now that troubles me. Why would she still be so upset? It’s been something like four years since the relationship ended. I see no reason to constantly rehash the mistakes I may have made or the ones we both made. The past is the past and there’s no changing it. The past is prologue, as they say, for our lives. We can only move forward, grateful for the times we had and wiser from the experience.   

She was one in a million, but that being said, there are millions out there. I won’t let her hurt me anymore. She’s said things about me and to me that aren’t necessary or true. The time for hurting each other is long past its prime and I’m just not interested in doing that anymore. It’s pointless.

She is becoming my Breathless Mahoney instead of my Tess Trueheart, and that makes me feel disappointed. I don’t know why she asks me these things and then puts a gun in my gut when she doesn’t get the answer she wants. But instead of pulling the trigger, she just walks away. Leaving me terribly confused, abused and sore.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Good news and Sunshine

Let’s start things off on a positive note; so far I have a wonderful date to at least one of the weddings I am going to this month. A smart and incredibly hot young lady accepted my invitation. That’s such a relief. Mind you, it could all fall apart depending on her work schedule, but it’s nice that she accepted. So one wedding date down, with one more to go. Now let’s hope I don’t make a fool of myself, or if I do, it’s not too embarrassing.

I was at the beach this weekend. This is odd for me because I am not all that of a beach going type. I even actually went into the lake water, which I don’t normally do because I hate all the crap in the water; gross ass band-aids and scabs and pee and millions of dead bugs. Ick. But I sucked it up and went into the water and had a wet and wild time. Which is odd for me.

I did have a lot of fun though. It’s a great group of people and they all really know how to have a good time. I felt honored to have been invited. Plus I got to throw the Frisbee around and after all this time, I still got it.

My ankles and legs are a battlefield of mosquito bites and sand flea bites. They itch even as I type this and I want to murder them. It’s so irritating, of all the time not to have any Chamomile lotion. I did get some sun and was lucky not to get burned, which is my normal m. o. when I’m outside.  The sun hates me and usually wants to hurt me. I guess it just didn’t have that kind of malice this weekend. I did manage to get some bug spray or sun tan lotion in my eye this morning, possibly from the sunglasses I had been wearing all weekend and that stung like hellfire.

This morning as I was riding the train into work it struck me that I still hate this. I imagined my sad old man body sitting in a cube still handling claims. It re-fired my desire to get into a business I like doing. I need a job far more creative and fun, which gives me money and a sense of accomplishment. I was dreaming about owning a little bar. Nothing huge with like tons of tables or anything; just a little corner bar with a lot of dark wood and comfy stools. I’d probably have a little library in the back with a couple of nice maroon leather chairs.  It would be just a simple little bar that people liked to come to for drinks, creative thinking and awesome conversation. That would be a dream come true I think.   

Hm, looks like Monday wants me to do some work. That bullwhip in his hand looks brutal. And with all the salt on my back from my sweat, it would hurt quite a bit.
(Whip crack)