Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What’s so great?

T. E. Lawrence was 46 years old when he was killed when he swerved on his motorcycle to avoid two young boys in the road. He flipped over the handlebars and was unable to recover from his injuries. This was of course in 1935. I am of course referring to Lawrence of Arabia. (Not coincidentally the movie with Peter O’Toole was on TCM last night).  The thing that made him particularly great to me was that by the age of 29 he had accomplished things most of us think dreams are made of. He was involved in the defeat of the Ottoman Turks in WWI and is widely regarded as a hero. He was an author and let’s face it; an all around adventurer.

I spent a lot of time researching some of this information. I knew some of it from memory but there were some details I was sketchy on. As I spent my time reading about Mr. Lawrence I came to the realization that this piece wasn’t going to be the morbid self-loathing article I had planned. I was going to talk about all the great things Lawrence had accomplished by the time he was my age and compare it to the fact that I’ve done practically nothing with my life.

But that’s crap.  I’ve had my adventures. I’ve done quite a number of amazing things. There’s a certain panache missing I’ll admit, but I’ve done some interesting things.  By the time I was 19 I had opened a theater company with the help of one of my best friends. (Mind you we barely lasted a year, but we did it). I self published a book of poetry when I was 23. I’ve loved passionately. I’ve seen the sun rise over the lakefront and have danced in patches of the brightest moonlight.

I’ve seen fires burn and bodies in the street. I’ve seen the tragedies and miracles of everyday life. I’ve witnesses the growth of the young people around me and the ravages of old age. I’ve read some of the finest words and had the opportunity to expand my mind on countless subjects. I’ve made friends. I’ve lost friends. I’ve learned from them all.

So things aren’t so bad, other than the fact that my phone will not stop ringing today. I’m sure Lawrence didn’t have to deal with that, but then, it was a different time and I suppose if he were me, he’d be complaining about the same things.  

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


It’s weird to be jealous of a scarecrow.
I see him every morning on the train.
It’s an urban scarecrow sitting in the
middle of a strange patch of downtown
vacant land.

I think, “Lucky scarecrow”,
“no boss to push you around,
no heartaches, no frustrated
tears welling in your button

Of course, this stuffed man
sitting in this field has no
dreams or goals. He’s living the
dream and achieved his goals.

He’s a scarecrow and
fulfilling his purpose.
I’m not a scarecrow
so it’s not so easy.

I just can’t chase birds
away all day.
I have to find courage and
conviction to face my day.

I have to swallow my
pride and be the laughing
boy for the machines of
industry and mechanics
of business.

That blasted scarecrow,
I wonder if he’s jealous

Monday, February 27, 2012

Frowny Face

I’ve been crabby. This may come to a shock to some of you considering my usual up-beat and happy demeanor. I know it’s hard to imagine me without a pleasant smile gracing my blushing countenance. But it is true. I am crabby.

It started in earnest after watching a documentary about young painters and artists that rose to some success in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. The documentary is called Beautiful Losers and it is magical.  These were the artists I could relate to. Their work was something I felt closely knit to. They’re artists of my generation who saw the world evolve at about the same pace as I did and they took what we all saw and made it art for the pure sake of art.  

It touched me and made me remember that I’m not really an insurance guy, that’s the secret identity Clark Kent outfit I wear. Underneath the dress pants and excellent phone skills lies the heart of an artist. An artist sort of fenced in a yard of words and personal limitations. It started to feel that I should take on a more artistic approach to the things and world around me. So I took a picture of my dirty dishes sitting in my sink. The plates are blue and orange against the stainless steel of the sink. There’s glasses filled with water and silverware poking and jutting out all over. The dishes aren’t all that dirty, no real stuck on food, but they are scattered and haphazardly placed waiting to be cleaned off and made fresh by the hot soapy water.

I felt the dishes were a lot like the world I inhabit. They’re a jumble of colors and spaces and angles. They’re just waiting to be cleaned off and given a fresh start and to fulfill their purpose. But art is always in the eye of the beholder and not everyone sees what I saw, most just saw a pile of dirty dishes and perhaps in the back of my head, so did I. And that made me crabby.  

I found it hard to get through the rest of my day thinking about the artistry I’ve ignored in my own life. That I’ve become complacent and de-motivated. That I’m not all that good of an artist or one that’ll have done anything or said anything that’ll be remembered or thought of or quoted or read to woo. It made me crabby.

I tried to tell myself that it’ll be alright. I just need to take a deep breath and remember that I’m not done yet. I’ve still time to make something of myself. I might still have something of value to say or contribute to the world, the mind, the heart.  That’s the struggle of all artists; I don’t know what I’m trying to say, or why I want to say it and I’m usually not sure the form it’ll take until all the letters and words are lined up on the page. But if I don’t do it I’ll dry up and blow away.

So if you see me with a frown it’s probably not because I’m upset about how uncomfortable my shoes are or the cyst that keeps appearing on my thigh. It’s likely because I’m trying to estimate my own value against the backdrop of the demands and expectations of others. Or that I’m just not pleased with the service. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

You're just killin' me

So I've been way too busy for a Friday and my head isn't exactly cooperating thanks to a few too many drinks last night. So I've no choice but to keep this Friday post brief. I can't believe the "man" expects to work on Fridays. What a cruel non French thing to do. Do the French still have a four day work week?  C'est la vie.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Running wild

I imagined my own sad death
in a hospital bed as a very old
and withered man.

I imagined some horror show
of a vacation. I imagined a
child of mine born out of wedlock.

I imagined explosions on
the train ride to work. I imagined
her eyes as she said she loved me
but I didn’t love her.

I imagined hot summer
sidewalks and short sleeves.
I imagined as I said I love
you to her but she didn’t love me.

I imagined a better job.
I imagined a worse job.
I imagined no job.
I imagined winning the lottery.

I imagined the magic of
a long wanted embrace.
I imagined the morning

I imagined these words.
Now you imagine it

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It’s a weird world, God

This morning I was waiting for my train and I noticed a truck passing on the near-by expressway. The truck was carrying a load of crushed cars. They were all pancaked flat and piled on top of each other. I saw amidst the demolished mess a bright yellow shape that used to be a car. I thought to myself that you don’t really see a lot of yellow cars these days and I wondered how old that yellow car was.  I then saw a yellow Ryder truck pass by and then a bright yellow school bus and I thought well, those don’t really count, those aren’t cars. And Taxis, well, that’s different. I then thought that just by saying that to myself I was bound to see a bright yellow car. No sooner had I thought it, a little yellow car cruised up the on-ramp to the expressway.

I chuckled to myself and wondered if I was indeed psychic or if God couldn’t help himself at that moment and just had to mess with my head. It was all pretty funny to me.
It was with this sense of holy irony I started thinking about this whole birth control issue now headlining a lot of the news stories today.

It’s no wonder the Catholic Church has seen a huge drop off of participants in the U.S. They just don’t seem to have any sense of humor these days. God, while wrathful in the Old Testament, is pretty hilarious in the New.  Sure, there is all kinds of suffering for his boy Jesus, but I think you have to look a little deeper to see the true comedic styling’s of our Lord and Savior. I mean think about it, a Jewish carpenter who hangs out with tax collectors, whores and fishermen? I mean, if that’s not the premise for a Broadway comedy then I don’t know what is.

Because God is clearly hilarious it puts this whole health care/birth control/lady’s private parts debate in a really bizarre place for me. I’ve hesitated on commenting on it basically because I have a penis and really, the Church digs that I do. So I really can’t have much of a voice in the debate.  Church leaders seem to think that the vagina is a place of evil mystery that God created to taunt Adam. (I guess I could understand that since most of the Catholic hierarchy took vows of celibacy and maybe have never been that up close to a vagina.) I was pretty mystified by them through puberty until I saw one and I was like, awesome. As far as I’m concerned, God = Vagina. I like going there and sometimes, new life comes out. Unlike Church, where nothing changes and I come out bored.

I think it’s pretty ludicrous for the male hierarchy of the Church to be so against the will of God. I say that because of the whole predetermination thing. God knows what we’re up to and if he was really displeased, well, I’m sure he would have done something by now. Hell, God made it through the 1970’s without smiting all of humanity. So I think we’re doing okay by him.

I just think that government has no place in matters of faith. I believe in God, but he doesn’t tell me who to vote for. I use the brain God gave me to make that decision and by doing so, I think I honor our hilarious creator. “God gave you a brain, now use it”.

So back to my original premise; that yellow car I saw kind of put God’s sense of humor in perspective for me.  He knew I’d think it was odd to see a smashed up yellow car so he threw a functioning one at me (with the perfect comedy timing only a super omnipresent being could have) and got a good laugh out of me. And that then led me to write this piece which hopefully will put some of the silliness and seriousness in which we human beings tend to view ourselves into perspective.

I think Religion or Government have no place in telling women, or anyone how to take care of their own bodies or judge them for the choices they make. Abortion, while controversial, may very well be part of God’s plan. Birth Control, also part of God’s plan. I’m pretty sure the Devil didn’t whisper something into a scientist’s ear and told him to create The Pill, and if he did, well, then isn’t that part of God’s plan too?

Sure, there’s real evil in the world, choices made by men and women resulting in the harm of innocent people and perhaps, that’s what we should focus on. Not whether God gets peeved by health care insurance paying for your condoms or birth control.

So I think everybody should shut up and just marvel at the hilarious complexities and weirdness of this spinning planet, which was allegedly made in six days. (Why would an all powerful, omnipresent, super-being need to rest for a day? That’s just weird.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What’s to sacrifice?

Trevor finished off his third Polish paczki in honor of Fat Tuesday. He wondered how familiar the rest of the country was with this Polish donut delicacy. He’d grown up with them in Chicago and rarely heard anything else about them. Of course, it wasn’t a subject that came up often over dinner meetings, at the golf course or with the whores. Trevor wiped his fat chin with a napkin and reached out over to the intercom on his phone.

“Jenny, bring me another paczki. That’d be great”.

He leaned back, sipped his coffee, burped a little as that last fried doughy goodness settled into his monumental gut. Trevor patted his ever expanding belly and adjusted himself in his heavy leather chair. Jenny entered his spacious 30th floor office and quietly placed the fourth paczki on Trevor’s glass top desk. He didn’t even acknowledge her as he picked up his headset to make a call. He did check out her rear as she left though.

“Steve-oh! It’s your pal Trev. Yeah. I’m calling to see if we’re still on with the McMurphy deal. You know I think those assholes are total whores right? Ha! Yeah, they’re total dinks. But we’re still on right? Well, I’d rather push them for the 30 mill, but hey, 28 and a half isn’t too bad. Right? It’ll buy you plenty of coke, you bitch. Haha! Yeah. Tell your slut wife I said I miss her. Okay. Ciao.”

Trevor hung up and stood up from his chair and looked out his corner office window to the streets below. It was odd. He was having a hard time seeing over his own gut down to the street below. He stretched and took a deep breath. He swore he’d get back to using the treadmill at home for Lent. It was Fat Tuesday and all that religious crap didn’t start till tomorrow. So for now, he’d have another paczki. He swore he wouldn’t have anymore after this fourth one. It was nearly lunch time anyway and he had a meeting with that slut, Jeannie, from finance. She kept ignoring his advances but he knew if he flashed enough cash, she’d be all over him, just like every other woman.

He took a big bite of the doughy paczki and savored it’s sweetness in his mouth. He felt it in his blood stream, it was like sex or power or money. It was everything. He sat back in his plush office chair and wiped the corner of his mouth with his thumb and then licked it clean. The intercom on his desk buzzed and Jenny’s sultry voice emanated out. Part of the reason Trevor had hired her was for her sexy voice, plus she had a great ass and legs. He liked to make her walk all over his office, filing things just to watch her.

“Mr. York”, said Jenny, “There’s a gentleman here to see you. He didn’t give his name though, said you would know him”.
“I’m not expecting anyone. Tell him to screw off”, said Trevor.
“He said it was about the deal”.
“Fine. Send him in then. And tell that Jeannie I might be a little late for lunch”.

Trevor’s office door opened and a tall, slight of frame man strode confidently toward Trevor. He extended his hand and Trevor shook it instinctually.

“What can I do for you Mr…?”, said Trevor.
“It’s what I can do for you Mr. York”, said the man as he made himself comfortable in one of Trevor’s guest chairs.
“I’m not into playing any games on this McMurphy deal. You can tell those fucktards in Amsterdam to stop dicking around and maybe next time we’ll be a little nicer”.

The tall man smiled gently and folded his long fingers over his knee. Trevor finally took a good look at this man and suddenly felt intimidated. He hadn’t felt that since he was a first year business major, interning at his first office.

“I’m not here about that deal Mr. York. But, I suppose you know that now”, said the thin man.
“What? What are you here for then? I’ll call security faster than you can blink if you don’t speak up right now”, said Trevor reaching for his phone.
“I’m here to collect on our deal. You’ve reached the pinnacle of success, just like you asked for. But you haven’t kept your part of our deal so if you don’t mind; I’m here to take what you owe. So, let’s go, I’m a busy man.”

Trevor dropped back into his seat. He remembered this man now; that night on the subway, drunk on college wine, his first self made hundred thousand and his first three-way. It was awesome and he didn’t want those days to ever end. This man, a bum, approached him with fire in his eyes and dripping with promises. All he had to do was pay it forward a little; to be a good and decent man.  So he made a deal with this guy, this crazy homeless guy who promised him all the success and riches available, for the mere minor price of his everlasting soul.

“I was good. I was philanthropic. I saved kids in Africa. I built a hospital wing!”
“You didn’t learn anything doing that. You’re a shallow, greedy, sexist, pig and that constitutes a contractual failure on your part to be a decent person. So, I’m here to end our agreement and take what was promised”.   
“No. You can’t. I’ve been good”, pleaded Trevor.
“Lent starts tomorrow Mr. York. We like to start that with a clean slate and those deserving souls”.

The thin man stood from his chair and with his sheer will lifted Trevor off the ground without touching him and tossed him through his 30th floor glass window to the ground and hell below. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

President’s Day

I remember being told as a young boy that every American had the potential and opportunity to grow up to become President of the United States of America. And for the most part, presidential history had supported that. The original founding fathers were men of the Enlightenment who believed that all men could rise up with reason and intelligence. It wasn’t about money or power, but what your principals were. The Founding Father’s themselves were quite flawed, but they were able to put those flaws aside for the betterment of their nation and mankind.

I don’t really feel that is all that true anymore. I don’t think I can, “grow up”, to be President anymore. (I announced my candidacy after my 35th birthday to very little fanfare) It seems the way to become President these days is to have more money in your pocket and an ability to pander to the lowest common denominator. I had hoped a lot of that would change with President Obama, but the system itself is damaged and he seems to be mired in politics rather than change. I doubt even FDR could have fixed this whole mess. I think there’s still a chance though to bring this country back to the forefront of progress and human rights. And it isn’t about money, or education (well, a little) or what lobby is behind you.

It wasn’t always about money but what ideas you could bring to the table. It makes this list of Presidents that did not complete or even go to college, courtesy of Wikipedia of course, all the more important:
George Washington
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
William Henry Harrison
Zachary Taylor
Millard Fillmore
Abraham Lincoln
Grover Cleveland
Harry S. Truman

Some of these presidents weren’t winners, William Henry Harrison died 32 days after being elected President for instance. But some of these men were incredible powerhouses of inexhaustible strength and intelligence. Their commitment to their country and the preservation of what’s best about America can be seen echoing through history.

I still want to be President though. I think I’d do pretty well at it. I’m courteous, especially to foreign dignitaries. I listen. I’m pretty confident in my history to know that a government that cannot work together for the betterment of its people is not a very good government and is instead, an impediment to progress and prosperity.

We should not be afraid of our future or use too much of the political rhetoric of the past as an excuse for complacency.  Happy President’s Day. Remember your favorite President when you get the chance today. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Is the rest of the world just as insane?

There’s one thing (well, maybe not one thing) that bothers me more than intolerance, bigotry or stupidity. It’s the people who call me to tell me that they are sending me a fax.

I’m not sure how the rest of the world deals with this or how other business type people handle this kind of ludicrousness. Just send me the stupid fax. Don’t call me to tell me that you’re sending me a fax. Just fax the damn thing. I’ll get it and be like, “Oh, a fax. I wish someone had called me to let me know it was coming”. It makes me want to jump out a window. No. Strike that. It makes me want to throw you out a window.

It’s a little thing I know. Perhaps it’s just someone being courteous and thinking about the whole business relationship thing, but it is stupid and discourteous. I have to stop whatever intensive task I’m embroiled in to answer my phone, introduce myself, you have to introduce yourself and then say, “I’m calling to let you know that I’m sending you a fax”, to which I say, “Great, I’ll keep an eye out for it”. Then we’ll hang up and I will have to try and remember what my thoughts were before you called to tell me that you’re a complete and utter moron.  It’s the tedious things I cannot stand.

I wonder if the rest of the world does things this way. Do the Chinese have this problem? The Japanese? The French? (Well, not the French, they’re hardly at work as it is.) I think I should move to France were my normal genius might be better appreciated, like Jerry Lewis or Shaka Khan.

I’m fairly certain this fax/call trend needs to end. Most offices are paperless now and there are no fax machines or things to print, so calling to let me know that a message is coming to me over the old facsimile machine is pointless. My faxes go right in to my paperless office inbox thing and I see a little notification. So when you call me to tell me the fax is on the way I want to strangle you with the old facsimile machine cord.

And yes, Fax is short for Facsimile. I literally had someone ask me what Facsimile meant on my letterhead. I wanted to drown them in their own toilet water.  So anyway, back to my point; don’t call me to tell me you’re sending a fax.  Grow up. Be a person of the intelligent world, stop masturbating so much, don’t eat hamburgers advertised as the heart attack burger, don’t try to be suave when you’re not,  use that 10 pound wrinkled mass in your skull and get a life.

Damn, I’m salty today.   

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I just want to shake you

I’m trying to make sense
I’m trying to make you see
I’m trying to be patient
and hope we agree.

You keep going on
with your suspicions,
your plots and plans
for the revolution
without hearing
what’s being said.

I can’t make you see
I can’t make you smile
I can’t get through to
you in your private
thought bunker.

I tried reason and common
sense. I tried humor and jokes.
I tried sex. I tried lies. I tried
drugs. I tried booze. I tried to
present examples and facts. And
you brushed it all off
as flights of fancy.

You have blinders and ear
plugs and earmuffs and a
veil. That block out everything
you fear and let in only
what you convince yourself
you want. And you’re the
only one that really knows
what’s going on.

I stopped looking at the mirror
and picked up my toothbrush.
Whomever is in the know,
we both need to get to our
damn job cause we’re late

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hot Topics

Today is one of those days where I’ve been struggling to come up with a piece to write about. I tried checking the headlines but that’s so doom and gloom. But I’ll stick my nose in it a little. So Iran is getting all Nuclear and stuff and making everybody in the Middle East all nerve-noid. Whenever I hear these types of stories in the news I can’t help but think of Nostradamus.

He allegedly predicted the rise of a Middle Eastern power bent on war which eventually brings about the end of the world. I always thought it was pretty easy to point the finger at the Middle East for being the harbinger of global catastrophe. Even when Nostradamus was alive it was still a hot bed of social and economical clusterbanging.

I’ve lost interest in writing about this. Work stupidity has gotten in the way and let’s face it, for me, it’s far more pressing that Iran’s nuclear capabilities or Nostradamus’ doomsday prophecies.  So I have to stop and pretend I’m not completely irritated with the redundancy and hoops I have to jump through just to do one thing.

It’s truly sailing on the high seas in a gondola, using manikin arms for oars. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Marie held the Valentine’s card out toward Stabbing Bear. He stared at the heart shaped lace covered card with his cold savage’s eyes and shouted something in Sioux. Marie shuddered at the sound of his gruff voice but she refused to look away or lower her Valentine holding hand.

Marie had travelled out of Chicago with her father, brothers and sister in 1867 hoping that their family fortunes would change now that the war was over. Her mother didn’t survive the birth of young Sarah and it seemed Marie’s father just couldn’t get over it. Now it was St. Valentine’s Day 1868 and they were in serious trouble. They lost their guide to a drunken brawl in Iowa and had been on their own ever since. They had made their way into the South Dakota territories and were now being held by a wild band of Sioux.

Stabbing Bear was younger than the rest of the war party. He looked as if he may have been about 19 years old, while the rest seemed to be older men. Marie was also 19 years old and was quite upset her father forced them to leave Chicago for, “greener pastures”, as he would say. She looked out toward her father’s dead, arrow laden body near the covered wagon and tried not to cry. She knew she had to be brave for her sister and brothers.

Marie held out the brightly colored Valentine again toward Stabbing Bear and tried to convince him to take it. She had tears welling in her eyes about ready to burst forth in uncontrollable sobs but she resisted. Stabbing Bear stared at her and said something to the older men in the war party. They laughed and went about stripping the wagon her father had been so proud of.

The braves took all they could from the wagon and loaded it onto their horses. One of the braves motioned toward Marie’s younger siblings and another deer legging clad Sioux pulled out a tomahawk and headed toward them. The young children wailed in terror as the menacing Sioux approached them.

Marie dropped the Valentine and threw herself in the path of the tomahawk wielding Sioux. He grabbed her by the hair and threw her back toward Stabbing Bear who caught her by the arms and held her place. Marie struggled and kicked and thrashed with all her might but it was to no avail. Her family was dispatched quickly and cruelly by the savages.

She collapsed to the dry prairie grass and she could no longer fight the rage in her stomach. She’d never forgive these monsters pretending to be men. Stabbing Bear picked her up off the dirt and spun her around. She spit in his face with every ounce of hate she could muster. He wiped it off and shrugged and then hoisted her up onto his horse. He mounted the horse behind her and rode off cheering and singing the Sioux songs of victory.

Marie looked back at the wagon and the bodies of her family and whispered a good-bye. At that moment she felt her heart turn to stone and she knew it had no room for love ever again.   She felt faint and passed out against Stabbing Bear.

She woke up in a Sioux camp, tied to a post in the ground near a fire. She had already given up on the idea of protecting her virtue. If the men came to rob her of her dignity she would let them have their way and prayed they would kill her afterward. She pulled against the restraints and thought it was giving way when Stabbing Bear came forward from behind the bright fire light. She refused to look at him.

He walked toward her and placed a bowl in her hands. He motioned for her to drink it. She refused and threw the bowl back at Stabbing Bear, spilling the liquid inside all over him. To her surprise, he didn’t pull out a knife or strike her. He calmly wiped the water off his face and reached into his waistband of his leggings and pulled out the folded and crumpled Valentine Marie had tried to give to him. He looked at it in the fire light and he had a slight smile to his face.

Marie looked away in disgust but Stabbing Bear moved closer to her and traced the outline of the heart on the Valentine card and then pointed to his chest, then to her chest. Marie looked at him with venom in her eyes. He seemed to understand she did not appreciate his advances.

Stabbing Bear pulled out his long buck knife and cut the ropes that bound her wrists. He touched her gently on the face and then stepped backwards toward the bright fire light and disappeared behind it. Marie sat by fire, unsure what it all meant. She felt dizzy and sleepy and eventually nodded off into an exhausted sleep.

In the morning she woke and she was alone, the fire had gone out and her Sioux captors were nowhere to be seen. She stood and rubbed her wrists and scanned the vast valley around her. Off in the distance, maybe ten miles away she could just make out the shape of a small town rising with its morning residents. She started stumbled toward it with tears rolling down her dirty cheeks. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Good Lessons

This weekend was full of mild adventure and goings-on. The most interesting event by far was the car wreck I witnessed. My, “Do-Gooder”, persona was revealed and I felt pretty good about it.

It was very early in the morning on Saturday, perhaps around 5:15 in the morning. I was driving a friend home after spending a nice evening together discussing the various things we knew about YouTube.

As I said, I was driving a friend home and we were stuck behind a seriously swerving and unsteady driver headed east on Irving Park. The driver of the other vehicle may have fallen asleep behind the wheel at one red light and I had to give the horn a brief toot to wake them up. My friend said she thought the other driver was a woman. I said that was good, but we had to get away from her because she was a serious hazard on the road.

I managed to get into the right lane and get away from her swerving. I was glad to be away from her and I could concentrate on getting my friend home. I looked up into my rear view mirror just in time to see the other vehicle hit the concrete median on Irving Park Road and fly up into the air. It crashed down very hard onto all four wheels, thankfully, and came to hard stop in the road.

“She crashed it”, I said to my traveling companion.

I pulled over and said I’d be right back. I hopped out of my vehicle and ran down toward the scene of the accident. There was one girl out of the car with dark hair. She was clearly dazed and I asked her if she was okay. She seemed to be very unsteady. I asked if there was anyone hurt and she said she didn’t know. There was a second girl that appeared from the wrecked car who quickly sat on the freezing cold sidewalk. I looked at her face and she had a nice red knot forming on the center of her forehead.  A third girl emerged and she was clearly in shock, snot running down from her nose and shivering. I did what I could for them and asked the dark hair driver if she had called an ambulance or anything. She said she had not.

I said it was probably best to call an ambulance. She said she couldn’t get a DUI. I said that was the least of her worries right now. She started looking through her purse and said almost comically, “That’s the trouble with these big purses, you can never find anything”.

At that point I called 911. This dark hair girl was clearly not aware of the seriousness of the accident. The little blonde that was sitting on the sidewalk got up and spoke in a different language to the dark hair girl. I thought it sounded Serbian, but I couldn’t be sure. The dark hair girl asked me if I could get the keys out of the ignition since they were stuck.  I tried to pull them out but they were completely jammed into the steering column. When I emerged from the wreck the dark hair driver was nowhere to be seen.

I asked the remaining two where the driver went and neither was able to provide me with an answer. She had just disappeared and I had fallen for her rouse of getting the keys while she ducked out.

Just then the ambulance and fire truck pulled up and I explained what I saw. They started asking where the driver was and I said I didn’t know where she vanished to. The ambulance crew was very aggressive with the two young girls though and I felt bad for them. They were just the passengers and were now left with a pretty huge mess.

I walked back with my friend to my car and we drove off. I had a little adrenaline pumping through me now and was quite wide eyed. I couldn’t believe I saw that car careen through the air over the median and crash to the ground. The front end was demolished and every air bag inside the car had deployed. I marveled at the fact that all three girls in the car had survived such a violent and hard impact. I had to give it up to the safety measures in the car. But it was totaled.

It’s those kinds of moments, and I’ve had several, which make me feel better about the person I’ve become. I could have just kept driving or called to report the accident from a distance, but it was my first instinct to stop and go help. I thank my mother for that; for teaching me to do the right thing no matter what.  

Friday, February 10, 2012

By the power of Friday

It sizzled and popped
in my brain. My wants
and desires wrapped in
an Aurora Borealis
event of inexplicable

Girl, holding my
hand, looking me
in the eyes and saying
she’d like nothing more
than the same exact

Her body close to mine
as we drift and
doze in various
sleepy states.

My arms around her,
her legs around me.
In our soft, deep bed
without any worry
of the time of day.

Are all the things
I want.
But the things I
have to do
are in the way
of what I want
which is in the way
of the things I
can do
which brings
me back to
this vicious
Friday and
all it can’t do
to make my wants
a reality.

It’s just a day
after all.
Not a magical
golden amulet
worn by the Gods
of yesterday.
It’s the same as
any day and up to
me to make
Damn it.  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Censored/Pigeon strangler

If I want to write about looking for a girlfriend or wife, or how I once had love and lost it, I’ll write about it. If I want to write about the size of mouse testicles or the existence of baby pigeons, I’ll write about it.  I’ve been censoring myself too much lately and I’m not sure why. I think I’ve been worried about what certain people might think. That’s the worst form of self censorship.

So enough of that crap, I’m getting back to writing about what means something to me. And now, I give you my dream.

I recently wrote a poem about those devilish squirrels chewing a hole in my air conditioner. I curse those squirrels and their incessant gnawing and foraging. They must have been on my brain as I slept because during a very pleasant dream in which I won the Powerball lottery I heard a noise. Now here’s where things get strange, I went to investigate the noise, expecting a squirrel to lunge out from behind the couch, brandishing a knife or a chainsaw, wearing a little hockey mask or a mask made from the pelts of other squirrels (Ahhh! Peltface!). But my dream self found nothing in my dreamy living room.

I looked down to my left and there it was; a god damn Pigeon strutting around my apartment. My immediate thought was, “You mother fucker. How the fuck did you get in here”. To which the pigeon only cooed. Apparently I swear quite a lot in my fucking dreams. I was very angry about this pigeon. I had forgotten about the whole squirrel invasion thing and was focused and furious with the appearance of the pigeon.  I grabbed it by the neck and tried to strangle the hell out of it. But to my amazement, the pigeon started fighting back and was biting the hell out of my hand with his beak. I couldn’t get the right grasp on him and he continued to slash away at the exposed skin of my left hand.

I woke up and checked my hand. Thankfully all my fingers were intact. I looked at the clock on the dresser and it was nearly 2:00 in the morning. There were no maniacal cooing sounds coming from the front room, no purrs of a tiny chainsaw. I then remember that I had won the lottery in my dream and I was having a nice time of it and was annoyed I let the pigeon ruin it for me. I’m not sure why my robot monkey butler didn’t take care of the pigeon for me. That thing is headed for the dreamland scrap heap unless he starts performing up to snuff.

So it wasn’t until I got to work that I realized it was squirrels I hated, not pigeons. Not that I’m all that fond of pigeons, they are the New Yorkers of birds I think. They won’t get out of your way, they crap on everything and would eat you if they could. (I think that was a play in Central Park once.)

So back to censorship, I won’t be stopping my brain from these types of flights of fancy anymore. I’m going to try and just let the words flow out of me like drool from the corners of a Yak’s mouth. (See…. You imagined that and shuddered a bit.)

Mouse testicles? Maybe a little censorship is okay. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Going Nowhere

“So if you get like a sexy vampire character to decide they want to become a priest and then go out to kill other vampires, is that too much like the whole Blade thing”, asked Jerry.

“What man? That’s like, awesome. But why did you say sexy? Like, can’t only dudes be priests”, replied Chazz.

Jerry took a deep hit off the bong and held up his, ‘hold on a minute’, finger. He held it for a long while and then passed the bong back to Chazz.

“Like, no. Well, I suppose that’s true. Maybe I can like, make her a nun”, said Jerry.
“Yeah man. A sexy nun vampire who kills vampires. That’d be pretty sweet”, said Chazz.

Jerry turned back to his laptop and started typing while Chazz took another hit. Jerry was a terrible typist when he was stoned. He could barely string a sentence together, let alone spell anything right.

It was quiet in the living room of the apartment Chazz and Jerry shared, and had shared for the last two years. Chazz was off in some sort of dreamland stupor while Jerry tried to think of a name for his sex addicted vampire nun character.

“What’s a sexy nun name?”
“Huh? Um… like, Joanna. I like Joanna”, said Chazz as if from a distant world.
“You only say that because she checks out our groceries at the store and you thought she was trying to hit on you but she was really just checking your ID.”
“Whatever man, I love her and we’ll be together someday”, said Chazz.
“Dude, she’s like thirty something”, said Jerry.
“Shut up dude. She’s a babe and hot and sexy and stuff”, pouted Chazz.

Jerry reached for the bong on the coffee table and packed it full. He’d tried to stop smoking so much weed so he could focus on his writing, but then he discovered he couldn’t write unless he was high, but then he was told that he sucked as a writer so he’d just been getting high for the last three months. Chazz was always high as a kite.   

“So what name do you like”, exhaled Jerry.
“I said Joanna. Dude, you’re so high. Don’t you have your brother’s thing to go to later?”

Jerry rolled his head to the left and looked at the clock on the cable box. He had to get to his brother’s wedding rehearsal by 4:30 and it was already 2:28.

“Crap, I better get ready”, said Jerry.
“You suck as a brother”, laughed Chazz.
“Shut up douche. I’m a great brother, like the best brother ever man”.

Chazz laughed and took the bong away from Jerry.

“Go get cleaned up man, you stink”, said Chazz.
“Whatever. I need to finish this story thing first”.
“Who are you taking to this wedding as your date”, asked Chazz.

Jerry sat for a minute trying to remember. He was pretty sure he had asked someone.

“Oh, right. Joanna”, said Jerry.

Chazz started coughing as he inhaled the heavy smoke from the bong. He practically spilled it on himself as he convulsed from the hearty coughing.

“Joanna! My Joanna”, Chazz finally hacked out.

Jerry had stood from the computer desk and was near the windows that face the street.

“Hm? Yeah”, said Jerry.
“You suck."
“Yeah. I know”, said Jerry. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I’ll get tan eventually

The wind was blowing hard this morning as I waited on the platform for my train to boredom when I was reminded of an old poem I read when I was a child. It was called The North Wind and the Sun and is a classic Aesop’s Fable. I’m not sure in what grade it was when I read it but it always stuck with me.

The tale involves a contest between the North Wind and the Sun to figure out who was the bigger bad ass.  The wind challenged the sun to an arm wrestling match of sorts. There was a passing traveler on the road below wearing a cloak. The Wind said the Sun was a total wuss and couldn’t have any effect on the traveler, while he, the big bad wind could blow that cloak right off that traveler. The Sun was like, “Whatever; knock your socks off”. So the Wind blew and blew and shuddered and all the while the traveler just pulled the cloak around his body tighter and tighter.

The Wind, now nearly exhausted, finally gave up but was still being a total jerk to the Sun. “I’d like to see you do better, chump”. We’ll the sun doesn’t take that kind of crap so he brightened up. The streaming sunlight made the traveler uncomfortable in the heat and shortly and steadily the heat rose enough that the traveler took his cloak off to cool down. The North Wind, now completely humiliated, grew up to be Lindsey Lohan.

I thought of it as the wind blew coldly around me while waiting for the train. I remembered thinking that the Wind was a braggart and the Sun was just a super cool guy, doing his thing. I remember thinking that I wanted to be like the Sun. So I think that Aesop’s Fable set me on a course of passive aggressive behavior I still struggle with to this day. It’s amazing what I think about while waiting for the train.

Somehow related to this whole pattern of thinking was the fact that today is my seven year anniversary with this particular employer. Seven long years slogging it out in the insurance trenches has taken its toll on me. I’ve officially been working here longer than America’s involvement in two world wars. I’ve been in the industry since the mid-90’s and I can’t help but wonder what my life would have been like if I’d followed a career more like Aesop’s. (Although that guy was a genius and I happen to turn a colorful phrase every once in a great while without much thought toward morality)

I think it was the whole passive aggressive nature of the fable and my life in insurance that the connection was made. I probably should have been more like the North Wind in the pursuit of my goals and less like the Sun, merely waiting for things to work out in my favor.  

It isn’t too late they all say. Or at least, that’s what they’ll tell me after they read this. And I’ll agree whole-heartedly, nodding and secretly sneering, thinking, “Stick it where the Sun don’t shine”.   Also, Happy Birthday Charles Dickens. Your immense body of work is the curse of school children, I hope you’re happy.  

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday wrestling

With so many things to do on this grown-up Monday I don’t feel as though I have the time to adequately donate to this article today. I sincerely hate when I can’t because I had some pretty interesting ideas last night as I was trying to sleep.

Monday however has some very different ideas about what it is I should be doing with my time. I don’t think Monday and I will every really be friendly. I mean, I respect what it has to do but I just don’t like it very much.

I mean, Monday doesn’t care if I had a story in mind about survivors of the end of the world living in the subway tunnels, fighting off the infected hordes by following the plans of King Leonidas of Sparta and his last stand of the 300. Monday doesn’t care about that at all.  

Monday seems to think you should put your head down against the grindstone and keep spinning and spinning until all your strength is sapped and your will is crushed, and your head is shaved to a fine point. That’s what Monday wants and sometimes we have no choice but to obey. As much as I despise it, I must comply.

Hopefully I’ll be able to spend a little more quality time on our beloved blog this week. 

Friday, February 3, 2012


They dig and chew
and bite and claw
they rip and tear
and get fur

Their gnawing on
the bones and sucking
the marrow is
audible from
down the hall.

Their scratching and
talon dragging noises
across miles of chalkboard
causing hyper paranoia
with every subtle sound.

They burrow and
dig under the
skin and into the brain
to cause more
terror and pain.

Squirrels need to go
I can’t stand them at
They ruined my
air conditioner
and my peace of

They’re little
terrorists, bent on
nut collection and
secret world

They’d get you
if they could.
Little monsters.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Beware the Groundhog

How much ground could a groundhog grind if a groundhog could grind ground?  That’s today’s tongue twister. Also it appears we’re in for an early spring thanks to our blind devotion to a member of the squirrel family. I’d say it’s been an early spring already here in the wonderful city of Chicago. We’ve been lucky to be experiencing one of the mildest winters I can remember, especially after last year’s Snowmageddon. It’s been pretty nice overall.

It’s Europe I’m a little worried about. They seem to be going through another Ice Age over there. I read an article this morning indicating it was minus -29 degrees in Costanta, Romania. And in Belgium, a much loved fountain of a urinating naked boy (Europeans, what’s up with that?) must be shut off due to the freezing cold because officials are worried the sub-zero temperatures will gum up the fountain’s inner workings.

Meanwhile, I didn’t even wear a sweater under my coat to work today.  So all hail the American Groundhog and his weather prognosticating! Take that Farmer’s Almanac and your prediction that we’ll have some of the worst snowfalls this year. Although I should be a little cautious, it is just February after all and we might see something significant before May arrives. It’s happened before. I remember snowstorms on Easter so maybe my praise of the groundhog is premature.

Speaking of mysterious animals, NOVA was on last night and because I’m a giant super nerd I had to watch. It was all about the dissection of a Great White Shark. Scientists had a Great White sprawled out on a big dissection table, outside, and were cutting the shark open and describing each part and function. It was pretty amazing and incredibly gross. I didn’t know sharks had such a gigantic liver or that their stomachs operate like a meat grinder.  I also didn’t know how they got it on. Well, I mean, I knew they had sex obviously, but I didn’t know they filmed it. Let’s just say it was aggressive and I don’t think he’ll be calling her the next day.  And yes, I will mention here that I would like a girlfriend. Just because it’s funny. (Cough)

So there’s a lot of stuff going in nature, groundhogs predict the weather, it’s freaking cold as hell in Europe and sharks do it in the butt. My, what an amazing world we live on. I guess we sort of rent it though don’t we? I mean, we’re only here for a short time and then get eaten by giant mutated Groundhog/shark hybrids. I suppose we should try to make the most of it then.  

As I re-read what I’ve written above I’m concerned that I haven’t been focused. I’ve been working pretty hard between nearly every paragraph and I think it all might be a little disjointed. Well, I’d like to see you write a daily blog while wrangling, “Logar”, the groundhog/shark, into his electrified cage. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

He who smelt it

I was riding the train this morning, as I often do, and the train car was overcome with the scent of tortillas. It smelled like someone was actually cooking tortillas on the train. Instead of being annoyed or disgusted I was reminded of a moment in my youth.

When I was still in grammar school my father was part of The Holy Name Society. It was really just a catholic excuse to get together with a bunch of other guys to drink and talk about the other catholic men and their wives. On some nice summer afternoon my father took my sister and I up to the lakefront to join the other Holy Name Society families for smelt fishing.

Smelt as you may or may not know are small fish that live in the Chicago River that are apparently so dumb they’ll swim right into an un-baited net without much prodding. They are about the size of your hand and are supposed to be pretty tasty. I don’t recall ever eating one but I do remember a fellow named Bobby tearing the head off a freshly caught smelt with his thumb just to gross us kids out.

As the sun set and dusky eve set in I remember Mr. Lopez on his little hibachi type grill heating tortillas and beef. I remember the smell of the tortillas cooking over the smell of the stupid fish. It was the first time I had, “authentic”, Mexican food. I had several of the tortillas and ground beef and I never went back to eating hard shell tacos. From then on I always wanted soft shell tortillas.

 So as the train rattled along its tracks this morning I was reminded that I was young once and I had so many things to experience. And I wanted a burrito for lunch. But overall it got me thinking about my spent youth. I try to imagine myself, thin, wiry, full of unleashed potential, probably thinking about one of the girls in my class and why my stomach felt so weird when I thought about her. That little boy never imagined himself working in a cubicle. He was still worried about what was going to happen to Optimus Prime in that two part Transformers episode. That kid wasn’t immune to heartache and saw too much of it, but he was still innocent; unpolluted by the daily tribulations of a filtered and diffused life.

I never thought I’d be here. I don’t remember where I thought I’d be or if I was even capable of envisioning a future for myself. I just remember the smell and the train ride this morning threw me back to a time and a place where it didn’t matter what my future would be, just that I was there and there was time enough for everything.