Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hope

The world exploded
and I grabbed her hand
at the last second.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Heated

I'm not too busy to
recognize how crazy
stupid busy I am.

It's nonsense work that
takes away from the real
work that should be
done.

I'm a monkey in
the wrench.
The bee in the
bonnet.

I'm never happy.
I'm never unhappy.
I'm just there,
working on something
that doesn't matter
to me and will
never be remembered
through the annals of
history.

No child will stare at
my portrait in silent awe
as they read about how I
settled that old lady's
claim when she fell that
time.

I am discontent and no
amount of friends
and family telling me
I can change my life
is going to change my
life.

I'm a malcontent. I will
probably always be one.

At least it's not too hot
today.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

In a Blink


The noise inside the bar was unbearable and Carl needed a break. So he stepped outside to the patio to get resituated. The pressure was getting to him and he thought he might crack if he were forced to hear another story about how the President was an idiot or how the nail salon did a great job, but were too slow.

Carl looked up at the night sky and tried to make out the few twinkling stars that weren’t blighted out by the over powerful Chicago street lamps and light pollution.  He sighed as he considered how unlucky he was when it came to wishing on stars, or rather, the lack of stars.  It was always the same thing, scanning the heavens, searching for that first star to sing that familiar rhyme to. Finally, Carl could make out a clear twinkling above the perma-dusk the street lights created.

“Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight”, said Carl.

He closed his eyes and wished. It was the same wish, varied a little bit as he got older, but always the same. He wished for a loving wife, a happy home and to be successful. So far, that wish hadn’t come completely true. Only certain parts seemed to come true and not always at the same time. Carl opened his eyes and found his wishing star again.

He usually added a little caveat to his wish, asking that he achieve these wishes without anyone else suffering. He didn’t want his wish to turn into a Twilight Zone, Genie’s curse, Monkey’s Paw type wish and by his wish being granted, others would befall some terrible fate. Like those people that would wish for power and wealth only to wake up as Hitler in 1940. Carl didn’t want that. He really just wanted help in making his wishes come true.

Carl wasn’t a fool and knew his wishes just wouldn’t materialize out of the haze. He understood that starlight, while powerful stuff, was not actually capable of making his dreams come true. He still liked to dream though and maybe, way down inside in the inner child in his heart, thought that the universe would somehow take pity on him and grant his wish. Even though that was completely irrational.

Carl thought about the universe and how quixotic and mysterious it was. He remembered some quantum physicist he once heard had said the universe was only 20 billion years away from ceasing to exist. The end would happen so fast we wouldn’t even be aware of it. It would happen faster than you could blink. A great nothingness would swallow the entire universe and all matter would be re-adjusted into a new form, something completely different from this world and what we’re made of.

Carl looked back up at the night sky and wondered how many times the universe had ceased to be, re-started and then ceased to be again; all leading up to the moment that he could stand on the sidewalk and make wishes on the very fabric of universal history. Carl felt very small. He took a long sip from his beer and rejoined the conversations swirling around him outside the bar. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

You call that life?

It never occurred to me as a child that this would be my life. I never had dreams of cubicles and getting yelled at for things I had no control over. I have become a victim of my life and there's no one to blame but myself. 


I have to keep this short today dear readers because my life is demanding that I take care of some stupid useless bullshit that I'll probably get in trouble for not doing exactly as I was told because their way is a stupid way. 


I hope to return to a happier time when I could write about puppy dog aliens cuddling on cloud mountain with lollipops and unicorns. 




Monday, June 25, 2012

Take this job…


I’m not a quitter. We’ll that’s not exactly true. I have quit jobs in the past. In fact, I’m that guy who was in the meeting with the bosses who stood up and said, “F*ck it. I quit”. And walked out, to my desk, got my stuff and left. I was super happy to leave that awful job.  I had tried my hardest to do the best I could in a field I hated. But, when push comes to shove, you have to do the things that make you happy.

Working at my current employer has reached that very same level of unhappiness and frustration, however I’m older and have more financial responsibilities than those old walk out of work days. So I just can’t up and leave like I really want to. I am very close to doing it though. I have been berated, insulted, criticized, belittled, humiliated and robbed of any pride a person should have with their work. So this is a plea to my readers and my friends…

Anybody need a creative type of guy in their organization? I’m capable of working independently and I’m always willing to explore new and interesting ways of doing things. As long as they are reasonable, of course. I’m not saying I want to sell magazine subscriptions in Tanzania or something like that, but just a regular job, 9-5 thing where the pay is decent and the people are nice and no one is threatening to fire you because their perception of you is not the best.   

I am a hard worker, believe it or not. When I know what I’m doing and can see the full outcome, I give the job my everything. I usually work so hard and fast on it that I’m done before everyone else. I like to work. I know that seems hard to believe but I really do. I like that sense of purpose a job can give.

With 100% seriousness, I need a new job. So if anybody out there knows of something, please let me know. Thank you.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Gurgle


That rumbling you hear is not a plane overhead or a train speeding along the train tracks. It’s my stomach. It is stress induced stomach noises. I’m sorry it’s so loud. The majority of greedy, rotten, stinking people bother me very much; to the point that I’m starting to have a physical response to it in the form of an upset stomach.

I hate people. I really do. You’re all a bunch of self-centered, greedy, self-involved, bunch of disinterested jerks and something should be done about you. How I miss the dinosaurs. I’m sure people would behave a lot differently if we still had bus sized carnivores bearing down at us at every turn.

Okay, maybe I don’t hate everyone. Not you specifically dearest, kindest and most beautiful reader. I wish I could figure out the day in which I became complicit in my own misery. I’d mark that day down to make sure I know it exactly so when that time machine is finished I can go back and tell myself to keep acting or write harder or go to somewhere exotic, but most of all, to stay the hell out of the insurance claims business.      

I will tell you one thing that makes my stomach curl in revulsion, when morons call my integrity into question. That makes me furious. I’d like to say that I’m above such prideful things, but I am not. My pride is hurt when that happens and something snaps in me and I feel compelled to stop helping and become an obstinate jerk.

At least it’s the end of the week and I can get back to soothing my poor stomach with alcohol as soon as this work day is over.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Violence


A jackhammer pounded away,
crushing and splitting
the concrete
under my windows.

I was lucky though
to have been drinking,
heavily, the night before
and the pounding didn’t
bother me. Initially.

The sun. The violence of the
sun pushing its way
into my room so early,
Holding me up and taking
my sleep wallet.

The train. The crowds.
The incredibly beautiful women
walking to work downtown
and their sexy heels clacking on
the sidewalk.
The noise of the street.

Pulsating in my head.

The line for breakfast.
The coffee maker.
The keyboards clacking.

It’s violent.

The woman near me on the
phone,
“Sir, Sir, Sir, if I could just,… Sir!”
The noise is abusive and cruel.

I’d rather be sleeping and
dreaming in the quiet
fields of my imagination. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rut


Harold smiled and said good morning to the woman he sat next to on the train. She mumbled a good morning back but seemed annoyed Harold had decided to sit next to her. It didn’t bother Harold though. He was just being nice for the sake of being nice and he wasn’t offended if people didn’t get that. He just wasn’t one of those people that expected people to be nice back to him. He refused however to stoop to their level and be rude for the sake of rudeness.

The train pulled from the station. Harold’s cell phone started to ring, which was odd because Harold’s phone never rang. He answered it quietly, not sure of the societal rules regarding cell phone usage in public. He still had an old flip-phone, no text ability, a crude voicemail. He never needed to upgrade, no one really ever called him. Plus he liked the idea of being, “Old School”, and slightly unreachable in this modern age. So it was very strange for him to be getting a phone call so early in the morning.

“Good Morning, this is Harold”, he said happily.
“Harold, you dumb son of a bitch”, said an angry voice.
“I’m sorry, what”, questioned Harold.
“You’re one sorry son of a bitch you know that”, said the furious voice.
“I’d like to know who this is if you please”, said Harold.
“You dumb happy bastard. It’s Mr. Ross, your boss”, said the voice.

Ross the boss. Harold hadn’t ever made that rhyme before and he was tempted to snicker. He always rhymed things and he was shocked he never made that one. Harold cleared his throat.

“Yes Mr. Ross. How can I help you today?”
“Harold, you’ve got us in a pickle. A real fucking pickle. I’d fire you but I have to give you a written warning first. Stupid HR”, said Mr. Ross.
“I’m sorry Mr. Ross, but I’m not sure what you’re talking about”, said Harold.

The woman sitting next to Harold tried to cross her legs and move a little further from him. Harold turned to look at her and he smiled.

“Where’s the money Harold?”
“The money Mr. Ross?”
“Yes, the fucking money. $800,000.00 has gone missing from your account ledger and we want to know where. The stockholders will be here in five minutes and if we don’t have an answer for them this company is done”, screamed Mr. Ross.
“Mr. Ross, couldn’t this have waited until I got to the office? This hardly seems appropriate to do over the phone”, said Harold.
“No, you rotten ball licker!”

Harold brushed his fading, graying hair off his forehead. He took a deep breath.

“Well Mr. Ross. I don’t know what to tell you. I certainly would never think of doing anything to harm the company or the stockholders. I love my job Mr. Ross and I can’t imagine where those funds went. I’m on my way into the office now and we’ll get this all sorted out. I’m sure it’s just a misunderstanding”, said Harold.
“Well, you better get your ass in here and find it or so help me I’ll have you arrested and thrown into the deepest darkest spider hole prison we can find”, screamed Mr. Ross.

Mr. Ross hung up on Harold. Harold clipped his phone back onto his belt. He cleared his throat and sat back calmly.

“You took it didn’t you”, asked the woman next to Harold.
“What makes you say that”, asked Harold.
“This train goes to the airport, not downtown”.

Harold Smiled at her again.

“What do you think of Aruba this time of year”, he asked her. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A spoke in the wheel


A spoke in the wheel
in the gears of the
machine that’s part
of the mechanism
turning the dials
that activate the
lifts and pulleys
that operate the
crane to hoist the
skeleton of the
frame of the
factory that will
make more
spokes in the
wheels in the gears
of machines that
are part of the
mechanism that is
turning the dials
that will activate the
lifts and pulleys that
will operate the crane
to hoist the skeleton
of the frame of the
factory that will make more
spokes in the wheels in the
gears.

I’m having a rough
Tuesday. I’d like to
love a woman that
thinks I’m more than
a spoke. And a job that
doesn’t make me feel
nameless.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mr. Lincoln



When I was in eighth grade and the school year was winding down we took our big class trip down to Springfield IL to see the State capital and see Abraham Lincoln’s home. I was more excited about seeing Mr. Lincoln’s home than the capital. The capital was all about the business of state government and as an 8th grader I really couldn’t give a crud. I really wanted to see, to touch, the home where Abraham Lincoln lived and breathed.

I’d always been a big fan of Abraham Lincoln. There was just something about him that really appealed to me, as if he was everything America was supposed to be about. Plus, being from Illinois, The Land of Lincoln, I think I had a built in admiration thing going on. I admire him still. His accomplishments, perhaps revered a little by history, are still quite amazing, by any standard. He was America’s last battlefield President and during the Civil War confederates did take a few pot shots at him while he was touring the grounds. It’s a little different than G. W. landing on an aircraft carrier and declaring our mission was accomplished.

Abe was rugged and tough. I can only imagine the coarseness of his hands. It was a harder life back then and you had to do what you did in order to survive in the most literal of sense. You did things just to live. It’s very different now in this modern age of Monster trucks and tractor pulls and ironic facial hair. All in all though, we’re still just human beings.

This really hit home with me as a child while touring Mr. Lincoln’s home. I was just amazed at the simplicity of the home and its innate coziness.  I was a little disappointed that we couldn’t really explore. There were velvet ropes blocking off most of the rooms and you couldn’t get that close to things. It was a time before I had eye glasses and I couldn’t see everything as well as I would have liked. Glasses wouldn’t come until a little later that summer before High School.

The thing that got me though was Abraham Lincoln’s outhouse. That small building we were able to explore fully for some reason. It was hot that day, humid and sunny. I remember stepping into Abe’s outhouse and I couldn’t help but imagine old Honest Abe relieving himself on such a similar day in the late 1850’s. Just the image of Abe, sitting there, sweating, pants down, maybe reading a book or the day’s news made him seem more human than I had ever imagined. He was just like me. Just like everyone.

That was the thing I still remember most of all to this day. My imagining Abe, not at a big oak desk or at a podium delivering some inspired words, but as a regular man sitting on the toilet trying to remember what he ate yesterday that is making him suffer so. Perhaps he was sitting there, thinking about the future, wondering how he would be remembered, if he’d be remembered at all. Maybe he came to some conclusions sitting there; about life, justice, fairness and what a country like America would need. That and another damn roll of toilet paper.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tirade


I have to put the reins on. I just wrote and erased the most profanity laced poem I think I have ever written. It was all, “Go *uck yourself”, and rows and rows of the “F” word. I threw in the “C” word in there too. It was ridiculous. Not only was it ridiculous, but also embarrassing. What would my imaginary daughter say?

I think the sentiment was spot on though. I have a lot of things in my life to be angry about. Not that the things in my life are any more important than the things in yours, I’m just slightly more upset about them. Since I pretend to be an artistic guy I have to express it the best way I know how. And this morning apparently it was with a soulless, profanity wrought, full page poem about telling everyone to Go *uck Themselves.

Which you should do.

I digress however. It burns me when I see douche bags so self obsessed they have to wear tee-shirts that actually say “Obsessed”,  walking downtown with a beautiful woman on their arm. (Or rather following closely at his heels because he’s too good to actually walk with her). It makes me wonder why I’m single. Probably because I’m telling everyone to Go *uck themselves.

But it doesn’t make any sense. I’m so kind. I’m so interested. I’m so willing to stretch out from my life and share things. Yet, I’m rebuffed at every turn. Shot down and strangled before anything gets started. It’s likely my own fault for being a drunken idiot most of my waking hours. Would you date me? I mean if you were a petite, blue eyed, blonde girl with lots of money? I mean, c’mon, you’d get with this right? (Okay, money isn’t important).

I’m kidding of course; I’m not that crass. Although clearly there’s a part of me (as far as self examination goes) that knows there’s truth in humor. A painful, painful truth that makes us all cringe with laughter after a few seconds. It’s like seeing a clown get hit by a car. I mean it’s tragic and you hope that guy’s okay, but you laughed when that car smashed into his stupid clown shoes.

My life is not a tragedy. I can think of so many worse things going on in the lives of people close to me. My problems don’t (overall) amount to a hill of beans. It’s selfish of me to complain about it all. Perhaps I should go and *uck myself.  However I have opened myself up to pity. Why is pity so bad? I’ll take pity from now on as legal tender if it’ll get me the romantic satisfaction I need like so much crack.  

Don’t come to me though and try to give me advice. I’ve heard it all before. I freaking hate life advice. Your experiences make you who you are; they won’t make me who I am. My poor imaginary daughter must be so embarrassed right now. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kids at Work Day


I read a piece yesterday that got me thinking and I’ll share it with you now:

“We’ve bought into the idea that education is about training and “success”, defined monetarily, rather than learning to think critically and to challenge. We should not forget that the true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers. A culture that does not grasp the vital interplay between morality and power, which mistakes management techniques for wisdom, which fails to understand that the measure of a civilization is its compassion, not its speed or ability consume, condemns itself to death.” – Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Winning Journalist

I really appreciate the sentiment in that statement. I’ve always been an advocate of learning for the sake of learning and the broadening of horizons. While waiting for the train this morning I saw a glimpse of this business/success motivated child rearing.  A few of my fellow commuters had their children with them and I can only guess that it was some sort of bring your offspring to work day thing. It got me thinking about the motivations behind the whole, “Bring your Children to Work Day”.

I suddenly found it hard to believe that a large corporation was interested in the family bond between parents and children yet they encouraged a day to show your children what it is you do for a living. Was it really for the structure of the family unit or, now I might be off on this, could it be that they wanted to provide your children with a model or example of how to be a good little worker bee when they grow up?

I remember the whole lecture from teachers, “How can you get a good job without this (certain level) of education? Don’t you want to be successful?” It’s a terrible thought now. Considering I want very little to do with the business world I’m currently embroiled in. I had no business aspirations as a young man. I always thought of myself as an artistic guy, unencumbered by the trappings of business. However, here I am. 35 years old in a cubicle in a big downtown office building, pushing paper and using terms like, “deposition testimony”, and, “economic loss claim”.

I’d hate, if I had a child, to put them through something like that. “See Grace (my imaginary daughter’s name is Grace), this is what Daddy does to pay for things. He hates every day of it and one day when you grow up, you can be a wage slave too. Isn’t that fun?”

I’d never take Grace to work with me but rather let her explore the world with wide, optimistic eyes and maybe she’ll grow up challenging the norms of society and become an iconoclast to be revered and remembered. I’d hope that by the time she’s in imaginary awesome school the teachers will be focused on giving her the practical skills to survive but are not molding her into another punch-clock drone. I certainly will do my part to keep her as far away from a cubicle of her own as any imaginary father would.  

I’ve said it before; I’m not a fan of formalized education. I am a fan of a structured education. I’m not an educational anarchist. I do believe that a child needs structure and rules but not ones that steer a child toward a career that focuses on the accumulation of wealth over an accumulation of knowledge.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Curiosity

It's very strange to me that I can write a long winded rant about the troubles I have riding the train in the morning or how much I hate my brutal alarm clocks or how much I despise my cubicle life and get huge numbers of readers; but when I write a story, a story that I really like and think others will as well I only get eight readers.  It's baffling.

Maybe I'm just not that appealing as a short story fiction writer. Maybe folks see the title or the intro and are like, "Oh boy, here's another story about some hapless loser who gets lucky or dies or gets eaten by the thing living under the bed". I just can't imagine that my complaining or my raving gets a better readership than my stories.

I suppose it's just one of those "things" that can't be explained. Like comfortable shoes or why women always pick the jackass doofus over me. They are just things that can't be explained. Maybe people just like hearing about how I always have to make coffee in the morning or how I have this weird facial twitch today. I just can't explain it.

I'm glad people seem to value my hysterical opinion or respect my introspective accounts of daily life. I'm not turning a blind eye to any of that. I do appreciate the readers I have and I thank each and every person that tells me that they read what I write. I'm pleased to hear that people are reading what I write, but it is sort of a let down to spend a lot of time working on a very long detailed story only to find out that only a few people saw it or even read it. It's just sort of a weird let down.

I actually never really have any expectation that anyone will read what I write, but when the numbers fluctuate so wildly between stories and essays, it gets a little confusing. Really, I got more readers for my piece about how I don't have time to write a full piece than I did for a full piece. It's mind boggling.

In any event I'll continue to do both and hopefully I'll hit upon the magic elixir that is not only entertaining but also slightly profitable. I say that not because I'm greedy, but because I sincerely hate my cubicle life and would rather get paid to write stories than write boilerplate letters to some old woman telling her that her claim is denied because her fall was the result of her being old and not from the clear and dry floor or the rapid rotation of the Earth.

By the way Dark French Roast coffee and Coffeemate Irish Cream, not too shabby. Not great, but not shabby.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Collapse


Eli felt it all coming down around him. The cinder blocks, the glass, wood and dust fell about his feet as he hid beneath his desk. The desk was surprisingly supportive and provided Eli with good cover. He was a little ashamed of himself for being so hard on his desk in the past. It had strong metal sides and a top material that seemed to be taking all the falling debris like a champion. 

Eli tried to look out at all the chaos around him but couldn’t see much due to the dust and papers drifting and swirling in front of him. He’d been wishing for years that the damn building would fall down but never thought it would actually happen. It was one of those childhood pipe dreams, like a tornado hitting school the Sunday before that big Monday exam that he didn’t study for. He knew it was impossible but still sort of wished for it. Just like his building. He didn’t want to be there.

The debris fall started slowing and Eli could hear the sound of electrical lines crackling and sparking in the distance. He was sure something toxic was burning and filling the air with something terrible. The freight train sound of the falling building gave way to the distant wails of ambulances and emergency vehicles. Eli kicked some debris away from the back of his life-saving desk and tried to poke his head out.

The first thing that got Eli’s attention was how bright it was. The sun was shining brightly filtered by the dust still swirling in the air. Eli thought to himself that it was odd that this event would happen on such a nice day. He started to lift himself off the ground and stand up amid the destruction around him. He turned back to look at his faithful desk. The left side had been pretty solidly crushed by a huge chunk of concrete but where he managed to crawl under, toward the middle right, was completely unscathed. He knew it was a damn miracle. 

He felt something on his right arm and found a decent scratch on his bicep. It was bleeding lightly but certainly wasn’t a mortal wound. He tried to move forward but the ground beneath him was littered with so much building debris that he couldn’t get a good foothold. He called out to the violence around him if anybody was there. There was no reply, or at least, there wasn’t one he could hear. Eli was quite sure the noise of the collapse had temporarily caused him to lose his hearing. He stumbled up and over his old desk and tried to move toward where he thought the staircase might be.

There was a small fire blocking his path and Eli didn’t like the color of it. The flames were sort of a sickly green color and smelled like sulfur. Eli’s imagination conjured up images of hell and his likely damnation for all that teenage masturbation. Who knew God was so serious about that? Eli turned back toward his desk and thought maybe he could get a better vantage point if he stood on top of it. Maybe the view would be better. It was still pretty hazy from the smoke and the particles in the air.

Eli stood on his desk and looked about. He coughed a little as he tried to catch his breath. He started thinking about surviving this only to die of black lung later. He put the crook of his elbow up over his mouth and then strained his eyes as he scanned the world around him. He felt that his equilibrium was coming back and then realized he was probably in shock and that’s why it was so difficult to move about. He blinked hard to clear his mind and then looked back out over the wreckage.

There was a huge swath of destruction before him. It looked as if the whole block had been obliterated. Fires and sparks exploded out from the husks of the other buildings in the area. Eli could make out the strobes of emergency vehicles in the distance but he couldn’t see any people. He suddenly felt an urgency he hadn’t noticed before. He had to find people; to see if they were okay.

He climbed down and started stumbling his way toward the emergency vehicles; all the while checking the ground around him for any signs of life. He thought of Molly from reception who had finally expressed some interest in going on a date. He thought about Craig who had joked with Eli that morning about all the cocaine that was probably in their coffee. He thought about Connie who was just a little too fat for the outfits she would wear to work. He then remembered Robert, his boss, who had told him something about a news report.

Eli suddenly couldn’t remember what Robert had told him. He could remember walking past Robert’s office door and seeing Robert staring up out the window. Robert had said something out loud but Eli couldn’t remember what it was. In fact, there was a lot Eli realized he couldn’t remember. He stopped walking and looked up at the sky. He squinted against the sunlight. The sky was clear, deep and blue. The only clouds were the columns of smoke billowing up from the carnage on the streets below.

A voice called out from Eli’s left side. It was weak but Eli was pretty sure he heard it.

“Hello”, called Eli.
“Help”, responded the voice.

Eli hurried toward the voice and saw an arm flailing about from a pile of rubble.

“Hang on”, shouted Eli as he started throwing debris off and away from around the arm. Eli pulled the rubble away and found a young woman face down. Eli moved quickly to move the debris away and turn her over. She was bleeding from her forehead and might have lost an eye. She reached up to him and touched his cheek with her free hand.

“What happened”, she asked.
“I don’t know”, said Eli.
“Did we win”, she asked.
“I didn’t know we were playing”, said Eli.

The woman tried to sit up but she was too weak so Eli pulled her up close to him and tried to stand her up. She finally came free from the remainder of the debris around her and she collapsed. Eli lifted her up over his shoulder. He didn’t know if she had just died or had passed out. He didn’t know if he’d just killed her by hefting her up. He did know he was glad to find another person and that he wasn’t completely alone.
Eli continued to trudge closer to the emergency vehicles flickering in the distance. They hadn’t seemed so far away when he started walking, and now with the added weight of this girl on his shoulder they seemed like a million miles away. He crunched and tripped his way forward, stopping every so often to catch his breath. He was certainly not in the best of shape and maybe the adrenaline was wearing off. He knew from all the National Geographic shows he’d watched that the most dangerous time after an accident was when the adrenaline started to wear off. The body would get tired and burn out quickly. But he knew he couldn’t rest for too long. He checked his shoulder passenger and she seemed to be breathing. That was enough to reinvigorate his purpose and continue moving forward.

The ruins around him were staggering. The buildings Eli knew and had worked around for years were now piles of dust or sagging half-buildings. The streets were cluttered with mangled cars and I-beams and large sections of destroyed buildings. Eli imagined it must have been like Warsaw looked like in WWII. It certainly did look like a war zone. But Eli didn’t remember if they were at war or not.

Eli arrived at the remnants of an intersection and saw an ambulance. Its lights were flashing but it was silent. There were no paramedics around that Eli could find. He worked his way toward the rear and tried the back doors. They opened and Eli suddenly realized it was probably the third or fourth miracle he’d experienced that day. He stepped up in to the ambulance and was able to lay his unconscious passenger on the gurney. He started checking the drawers and cabinets for water. He was terribly thirsty and was sure his female friend was as well. He found two small bottles of water and greedily chugged one down. He then poured a little over the forehead of his companion and washed away some of the dirt and blood.

He eye wasn’t gone but it was badly damaged. Eli wasn’t sure if she lived it would ever work right again. As he continued to clean her face she started to come to. He breathing was ragged and sharp and it worried Eli that he’d broken her ribs or maybe punctured her lung while she was on his shoulder. She turned her head and hacked up a huge phlegm wad and spit it onto the floor. She then took a deep breath and the rattle Eli heard was gone.

“Can you hear me”, he asked her.

She nodded slightly and tried to reach up toward her face. Eli held her arm back and calmly held it down.

“My name is Eli and I’m not going to hurt you. You’ve been hurt but were in an ambulance and I’m trying to help you, so I just need you to stay calm and still”.

The woman nodded again and relaxed her arm. Eli continued washing her face.

“Water”, she said.

Eli helped her sit up a little and gave her a sip of water. She continued to drink for as long as Eli would hold up the bottle to her lips. She apparently was just as thirsty as Eli.

“Can you tell me your name”, asked Eli.

She nodded again as she continued to drink. She looked up at Eli with her right eye and Eli fell in love with it. It was a one of the bluest eyes he’d ever seen.

“I’m Carrie”, she said.
“Nice to meet you Carrie”, said Eli.

He helped her lay back down and she closed her beautiful eye. He found a gauze pad some bandages in a box near his feet.

“Carrie, I’m going to put a bandage on your head. You have a pretty decent head injury and I think the bandage will help”, said Eli.
“If you think so Eli. Thank you”.

Eli gently placed the gauze pad over the wound on her left eye and wrapped it as carefully as he could. Carrie hardly made a sound. When he finished he found himself admiring her bravery. He put the first aid box down and glanced out the dusty ambulance window.

“I’ll be right back Carrie. I have to look around and see if I can find out where everybody went”, said Eli.
“Where they went”, she asked dreamily.
“Yes, I can’t find any paramedics or anybody around. I won’t go far. I promise”, said Eli.
“Okay Eli”.

Eli opened the back door and the landscape from hell re-entered his focus.
   

Monday, June 11, 2012

This might be bad

Due to a very large internet and e-mail horror show of a cluster screw I am not able to post the super awesome and extremely long story I wrote today. In fact, I'm a little worried that the whole long piece was lost in the vacuum of technology.

I'm as worried as F.Scott Fitzgerald when his wife left a handwritten manuscript of his on a train. It was the only copy and might have been the great American novel, but it was lost and F. Scott couldn't recall the details as clearly as he would have liked to re-write it and so it truly became lost.

So I'm hoping I was able to hide this story in a place that won't vanish. I'm sitting at a different cubicle at the moment, finally able to get some work done, but I wasn't able to access any internet or mail until now.

I just want to let you all know that I'm okay. I've been pretty depressed lately. I've been extremely lonely as well. But I'm okay. I'm not going to drive my car off a cliff into the ocean in a giant blaze of fire. Mostly because there are no cliff's in Illinois. Or access to an ocean.  I kid, I'd never do that to a car. But I was not a great participate this past weekend and had no desire to engage in the nonsense around me. It was an overwhelming sadness weighing on my mind. But again, I'm feeling a bit better.

(A little female human contact couldn't hurt either).

I'm trying to do the things that'll make me happy. But like anything worth doing, it's hard. Hopefully tomorrow the internet and computers will be back to normal and I can get that story I wrote completed and available for reading. Until then, keep your chins up and help me help you to keep the bastards at bay.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cruelest Compassion


It’s the train ride,
the cubicle I sit in,
the lighting and climate
control.

I feel sick in here.
I feel weak in here.
I feel useless in here.
A cog in the machine
of repression, oppression.

Her laughter made it all
seem tolerable though.
Her smile was a place to
feel the sun on your
face and joy in your arms.
There was warmth in it.
It is somewhere I’d
like to be.

I want to sit at her
feet and forget about
my cubicle, my train,
my work, my emptiness
and marvel at her
silliness.

Her softness was the
compassion my concrete
cruelty needed. Even if
just for a little while.
When it’s gone, I miss it.
When it’s gone, I’m left
with a crowded train,
clumsy cubicle and
consternation.

Her smile, her eyes, are a
brief respite from the trenches
of monotony.  
The memory shortly
sustains me, but it’s an
addiction and I want more.
It’s compassionately cruel.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

D is for Day


“I’m not a coward; I’ve just never been tested. I like to think that if I was I would pass”, Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Knock on Wood.  That song lyric has always made me think about what I would do if I were one of those young men being tossed about in a Higgins boat a few moments before the ramp is about to drop on the beach and the world around me erupts with machine gun fire and mortars.  

I try to imagine myself, wiping the sea sick vomit from my chin, thinking about my best girl at home and looking at the helmet of the man in front of me. I think I’d be praying in my head as well, telling God that I’ll do whatever he commands of me if he gets me through this shit. I imagine looking at my best friend, whom I was in basic with, he’s trying to smoke that final cigarette but it’s got his own vomit on it and won’t light. I hear the Captain in the background telling us to stay calm and steady.

All I can think about is making it. Making back home. Making it back to my family. Making it back to finish a life barely started. The boat comes to an awkward stop and the ramp drops. The two men in front of me are obliterated by machine gun fire and I’m pushed forward by the men behind me. I lift my weapon and start firing as I move forward. I’m not sure what I’m shooting at but I’ll be damned if I don’t make a go of it.

June 6th, 1944, the Allies began their amphibious assault on Fortress Europe. For those of you that aren’t aware, the landings in Normandy, France by the Allies were the largest amphibious landing in war time history.  There has never been another like it. It’s important to remember the sacrifice of those men that lost their lives trying to liberate Europe from Nazi control.

I can only imagine the horror and fear in their stomachs as they loaded onto the Higgins boats and started the long and dangerous trip toward the beaches. It must have been complete terror. I have a hard enough time getting out of bed in the morning and I feel like a really big wimp whenever I think about those men, facing enemy fire, charging inland. I feel bad when I complain that my train is late or there’s no coffee in the break room.

It makes me feel like I’ve lived a life less important than theirs, even if their life was tragically cut short by German machine gun fire. I’m far older than most of those young men that spilled their blood to rid the world of a true enemy. I have them to thank for letting me get to the age I am or even exist at all.

This is why history is so powerful for me.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

So much to know


The world is a treasure trove of knowledge and it’s a shame how much of it goes unused like so many books collecting dust on Library shelves. There are several fascinating events today that bare being aware of.

First of all, today marks the anniversary of the shooting of Bobby Kennedy in 1968. He was shot three times by Sirhan Sirhan. Bobby managed to hang on until the morning of June 6th 1968 but ultimately became the second Kennedy to fall from assassins’ bullets.  R.F.K. was a strong advocate of social justice and reform and I think the world would have truly been a different place if he had ascended to the Presidency.

It’s also the day before the Anniversary of D-Day, but I’m sure we’ll talk more about that tomorrow. Back in 1944 the Allies were on the edge of their seats, waiting for the Go Code to begin the largest amphibious assault in human history. The Battle to free Europe from the Nazi grip was set to re-define history.

In more current events however, today is a very cool day for science. Today it’ll be possible to seen a celestial event that won’t occur again until 2117. Most of us will be long gone by then so today’s sort of your last chance. At about 4:00 pm CST until 7:30 pm CST the planet Venus will cross in front of the sun. It’ll be visible (with the correct protective measures. DON’T LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN) as a small black dot crossing across the face of the Sun. So if you have the chance, take a look, using the proper protection of course, because you’re not a moron. http://sunearthday.nasa.gov/2012/transit/index.php or check it out here: http://www.adlerplanetarium.org/experience/events/transitofvenus

These are three moments in history to be at least aware of so you can speak confidently to your friends and impress them with your knowledge of history and current scientific events. I’ve no doubt this knowledge will get you invited to all the cool parties, get you the incredibly hot girl/guy to go out with you and get you that promotion at the shit factory. (You get a shovel instead of having to use your hands).

Yes, by sharing your knowledge with those lesser peons, you increase your chances of rising above those sons of bitches and achieving your goal of intellectual supremacy. Or a lot of bruises in the shape of books and football championship rings.

I know my life is so much better simply because of my average intelligence. Yes, average. I’m not a super genius like Wily Coyote. I just like to pay attention. As I always say, “I don’t know everything, just a little about everything”. It’d be pretty cool if other people were just as interested in this stuff as I am. Although, would that take away from what makes me somewhat interesting and unique? I suppose it might.

Everything you learn has the capacity to broaden your horizons.  Sometimes it leads to a certain amount of cynicism about the world, but if it wasn’t for cynicism we wouldn’t have made the great discoveries we use every day. So expand those synapses and marvel at all there is to know. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Be cheerful


They were making fun of you.
They did laugh and snicker.
They were texting their friends about you.
They barely tried to hide it, even when you looked at them in the eyes.

The station stairwell was closed so you have to walk further than planned.
There will be a wrong turn and you forget how to get where you’re going.
You’ll realize your mistake and rush to correct it.
You’re sweating now.

You wonder if that pain in your neck is a stroke.
There’s a muscle spasm but you ignore it because getting to work is more important.
You have to push through it because people have expectations on you.
You’re very thirsty.

Phone messages, voicemails, e-mails, no coffee in the pot,
cubicle, papers, typos,
mediocrity,
sameness,
lameness.

You look in the mirror to wipe the sweat off your face and your reflection is unrecognizable.
You don’t know who that is.
You’ve never seen them before.
You’re graying, you’re baggy eyed, and you’re fat.

People want things from you.
People tell you to do it all, now, instantly and all at once.
People tell you to relax, but to do it faster.
People need get off your back.

You’re looking forward to going home, but then home isn’t much better.
It’s boring and lonely and always the same.
It’s empty and hollow but at least it isn’t work.
You’ll look at that bottle of wine.

At least you’re a smart, sensitive, real person. At least you have a home. At least you have a job. At least, at least, at least, at the very, very least. So be cheerful. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Conversation


“He’s cute”, she said.
“He’s just tall. Not cute”, he said.

“He’s strong”, she said.
“He just works out, that’s not strength”, he said.

“He buys me things”, she said.
“Those are just things”, he said.

“He doesn’t cheat on me”, she said.
“You’re not supposed to cheat when you’re in a relationship”, he said.

“He only yells at me because he loves me”, she said.
“Love shouldn’t yell”, he said.

“He’s never hit me”, she said.
“That’s not really a qualifier for being a good boyfriend. You’re never supposed to hit a woman”, he said.

“He makes me feel sexy”, she said.
“You are sexy. He’s rather irrelevant”, he said.

“He has a nice car and a good job and a dog and has been sky-diving and likes golfing and drinking with his old fraternity brothers”, she said.
“Things he does without you”, he said.

“You’re just jealous”, she said.
“Maybe”, he said, “But let me ask you something”.

“Does he make you smile, ever? Really smile? Makes you so happy inside that sometimes you wish you could just burst”, he asked.
“He doesn’t make me unhappy”, she said.

“That’s not an answer”, he said.

She looked away.

“Well, you’re so smart, why are you single”, she asked.
“I was waiting for you”, he said.