Friday, December 29, 2006

Bones and I were sitting around the coffee shop, not doing much of anything.

Bones: "My kid aint spoke to me in 30 years" Bones began.

Midwest: "That seems kind of extreme, maybe he needs to get over whatever his problem with you is."

Bones: "Nah...I hit him around too many times, he got the right to not talk to me"

There really isn't much to be said after that. He looked genuinely sad. I don't think I'd ever seen remorse in his face. I had a mental picture of him in his prime; thin, wirey and violent- straight razor in his sock, which he still carries. I could imagine all the damage he had done yet all I could see before me was a thin old man, with faded tattoos, staring at his hands, regretting that he hit his son one too many times. He was no longer interested or able to hide the regrets and the loneliness.

Midwest: "The best thing he can do for himselddf is get over it"

Bones: "There are somethings you can never make right, that's just how that is, anyone tell you differently is lying or never did the things I done."

I no longer saw the old man who acquaintance, but a young punk who would have killed me over $20 or a misunderstanding. Bones was right, he should have died, he should never have lived past his prime. His hell is being as feeble and weak as the people he preyed upon.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Change is the topic for today.

I've noticed that I'm having trouble updating the blog. I was so good for the last three months and then I dropped off. My motivation has been renewed by a blog I chanced upon called The Bold Soul.

Resolutions are required for change. There is a part of me that doesn't want anything to do with resolutions. I used to drink like a fish, to the point of physical harm, and I quit. I haven't had a drop of alcohol for 9 years. That, in my book, is a long time between drinks. I smoked for 25 years and quit that 2 years ago. I quit smoking 3 months before visiting the South of France which is insane. (At least I was still drinking when I went to Ireland). So whenever the subject of resolutions comes up I get excited for the change and the planning of it but in the back of my head I think 'shit, I've done enough'.

This year I am making resolutions.
1. I've been working out on weights and walking/jogging 3 times a week for the past two months, I will continue that.
2. I will update my resume and even have a professional resume writer help me.
3. I will stop drinking sodas, granted I only drink diet coke anyway but I can't think its good for me.
4. I will cut my tremendous ice cream consumption to twice a week (down from 7 days a week). Why do I eat an abnormal amount of ice cream a day - because that's how I roll.

That will be enough change for one year.

Obviously the biggest change will be the moving to Paris by August. There is a lot to do to make this happen. I need to stay focused and continue checking off my to 'do list'. When my resolve is in question I can read up on The Bold Soul, who is making her dreams happen.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I have been publishing this blog for 3 months and I'm proud to say that I have not had one visitor. No one has stumbled onto this blog accidentally by searching for raccoons, crack whores, bones, lockdown, UFOs, hillbilly piss, Paris, bank heists, or puzzle rings. These topics were not in vogue over the past three months.

Topics that may be searched in the next three months could be Odessa Street, Petite Anglaise, aprenda, corporate-casual, blogdiggidy, everything is wrong with me or any number of interesting topics. (These, by the way, are some of my favorite blogs)

What if there is a war and no one shows up? What if a tree falls in the woods and there is no one to hear it? What if a blog is written and no one reads it? It gets me discouraged but it forces the question why am I writing this- to be read or to make a commitment to write something everyday? The purpose of this little journal is to practice my writing nothing more. I need to remember that when the priorities get out of wack.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Two examples of Christmas Hooliganism

1. Clients send tasty treats to our office for the holidays. I am particularly fond of the Ester Price chocolate covered surprise candies. Someone in my office doesn't like surprises and has poked their finger in half the candies looking for the kind they like. I should mention that that has not kept me from enjoying these tasty, tainted morsels

2. I mentioned a party my friends had last weekend. Someone went to the second floor bathroom and drank an entire bottle of prescription cough syrup with Vicodan.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I had a Social Studies teacher that used to tape wedding announcements from the newspaper to the blackboard. He would tape all the pictures of the ugly people who he felt shouldn't reproduce.

It was funny in a mean way. He'd been a teacher, a very good teacher for 20 plus years. The photos came from the local paper. I once asked him if he was worried that the picture might be a sibling of one of his students thus offending them. "No' he said, "if anyone knows how ugly they are it would be their siblings"

Monday, December 18, 2006

K and I went to a party this past Saturday. Neither of us drink, our heavy partying days are behind us.

We stayed out until 2:00AM. The next morning we both felt hung over and completely out of it the entire day. I'm not certain when the shift took place but I used to love staying up all night, drinking and making noise. I have absolutley no interest in that anymore. I prefer the early mornings to the late nights. It's all part of getting older and priorities shifting.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Here's an actual conversation I had with Bones awhile back.

“Misplaced, I was married to the ugliest white woman in the midwest. Her name was Hatchet Mary. She was called Hatchet Mary because she always carried an axe with her. She saved my ass many times. Whenever some guy wanted to beat the shit out of me because my crocodile mouth was always biting off my than by blue bird ass could handle she would knock over a bar stool and start swinging that ax. She chased more than one man out of the bar. But man believe me when I tell you she was ugly.”

...and with no segue or warning he said, “It was a damn shame when they legalized abortion, me a Mary had quiet a little business going”

The last line startled me. "Damn, Bones you need to warn a guy before you roll there."

He just cackled like an old woman. "Life comes at you like that sometimes"

Thursday, December 14, 2006

It is December 14th and I am, amazingly, finishing up my Christmas shopping. I was looking for one last present last night for my 6 year old nephew and I found the inflatable punching bag clown. These were all the rage when I was a boy. It's funny that it is being sold at The Sharper Image for $10.

The rules of the game are simple, you hit the clown, he will fall down and then bounce back up to be hit again.

A commercial played last year showing a rodeo. A lawyer was let loose in the ring and a cowboy would chase him down on a horse. The lawyer would be lassoed and hog tied while the cowboy was timed. The American Bar Association sued to have this commercial removed.

Is there an American Clown Association? Why aren't they outraged that this clown punching bag is still on the market. Doesn't it promote clown violence? What if it was an inflatable hooker? Children could play pimp, smacking the inflatable whore around until she coughed up some money. They could call it "Where My Money At, biatch!" The American Hooker Association would be all over that one.

These clowns need to get their act together.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I know a lot of people who have had difficult lives. Everyone has a sob story (actually I don’t and I want to keep it that way). Angie goes to watch her son play football every week. She has never missed a game in his entire grade school, junior and high school career. That, in itself, is a warm story- makes you wish all parents were as involved and enthusiastic about their children.

The difference between Angie and the other parents is that her son doesn’t know who she is. She gave him up for adoption 16 years ago. She sits at the top of the bleachers- far away from the other parents. There is no question that her son is better off having grown up with different parents and in a different neighborhood. Still it is sad.

You could probably say a lot of negative things about Angie but you'd have admit that she’s never missed her son’s football game.

*For similar posts click on "People I've Met, Recovery"

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The conversation turned to bank robbery. I said that I have always wanted to rob a bank. I didn’t want to hurt anyone, hell I didn’t even want to have a gun, but I always wanted to rob a bank. I think that everyone secretly wants to do that- Jesse James, Bonnie and Clyde, we wouldn’t recognize these names if we all didn’t, deep down inside, want to do what they did.

Bobby V agreed, he’d like to rob a bank. He looked at Bones, who at 80 plus years had very little to lose and lacked morals. "Bones you can drive the get away car". Bones looked indignant, "Hell no I ain’t driving no get away car, I’m going in."

In truth Bones had more nerve than any of us and I have seen him drive, we don’t want him driving the get away car. A 25 mile an hour car chase isn’t needed at this point in my life. He may think Johnny Cash is a pussy and he may have spent a lot of time in jail but he drives like an old lady. I’d never tell him that because the man can hold a resentment and he’d probably drive off and leave me after we held up the bank -of course I’d get away faster waiting for the bus. Still I don’t need Bones as an enemy. I was there when he reached across the table and bitch slapped some 20 year old punk and then threw hot coffee on him for good measure. But then he almost cried when he was barred from the coffee shop for a 30 days. He’s in a weird time in his life angry enough to kick ass but too old to hide the fact that he gets lonely.

I don’t know how old he is. Older than dirt is what he tells me. He could be 80 but he also has had a tough life and might be 70 and just look older. He has a full head of white hair which is always brushed straight back. He is skinny, but that’s not why they call him Bones. He has faded green tattoos. I have never been able to tell what they are tattoos of, it just looks like a green birth marks. He wears over sized clear glasses. His eyes are wet blue.

Monday, December 11, 2006

As I have mentioned, I’m sure. We have been kicking around the idea of selling everything and moving to Paris. There are, obviously, great reasons to do this. Unfortunately, the negatives of this plan seep into my consciousness late at night as I try to sleep.
Quit your job! How very slackerish of you?
Sell your house! What about the investment?
What about retirement? There is nothing more pathetic than an old person without money.

My mind jumps ahead 30 years, me living alone on the street begging for change. I can be heard mumbling to myself something about ‘it wasn’t worth it, it wasn’t worth it.’

I just emailed K a suggestion that we visit Paris this February (crappy weather I assume) and live not as tourists but as residence. I could write and she ould take french classes for two weeks. We would shop for food, cook, visit the library, rent movies, all the things we do at home.

While it would be impossibel to live like actual residence it might give us an idea about what its like, without the romance of vacation.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I have discussed those little moments of serendipity that are gifts. There are also moments that ask you do some serious self-appraisal.

I ran into a woman I knew from 'back in the day'. She's a crackwhore. I don't mean that in a glib way, I just mean she trades sex for crack.

The exchange went like this.

Misplaced: "Hey Crackwhore how have you been?"
Crackwhore: "Misplaced! What's shakin'? Man it's been a long time- you got your haircut I hardly recognized you."
Misplaced: "Yea it has been awhile, good to see you."
Crackwhore: "...and you gained a lot of weight"
Misplaced: "huh?"
Crackwhore: "Weight... you gained a lot of weight"

I think its safe to say that when a crackwhore suggests that you've let yourself go, you've probably let yourself go.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Raccoon War
Part 4

It was a sunny day when I ascended the stairs. It was quiet, almost too quiet, somewhere, far off, a dog barked. With a colander balanced on my head, a pair of goggles and a yellow broom handle I prepared for battle. As my head rose slowly into the loft my eyes could not adjust to the darkness fast enough. The broom handle was prepared to swing at anything- I understand civilian casualties. In the thick of ‘the shit’ a squirrel might have been up there nursing a young squirrelette while waving a white flag and I would have bludgeoned it.

My eyes adjusted finally and I could make out the contents of the loft. Several old lamps and a 1920’s sewing machine were stored in the corner and in the middle of the room was a large pile of dung. Years of shit. At the top of the pile were fresh green pellets of rodent poison in the shape of raccoon crap. I truly was knee deep in the shit but the raccoons were gone.

The raccoons had given up and fled. A warm glow of victory filled me and kept me, for the moment, from feeling foolish.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Raccoon War
Part 3

In retrospect it would have been more prudent to hire someone to catch and dispose of the raccoons. It’s relatively cheap and it wouldn’t have dragged on for years. For some reason this never occurred to me and with all of the people I consulted no one suggested it. This brings me to the realization that I need to befriend a smarter crowd but that is neither here nor there.

My plan of attack had 3 phases.

Phase #1 Sicken the raccoons. There were several boxes of green pelletted rodent poison in the basement. I knew this wouldn’t kill them but a nasty tummy ache was just the thing to show them they were up against a pretty tough character.

Phase #2 Make a lot of noise. (This, I agree was lame but it put off #3) This, I hoped, would make them very jumpy from lack of sleep thereby making their judgment poor. Of course it might just make them cranky and there is nothing more dangerous than a cranky raccoon with an upset stomach

Phase #3 Climb up the stairs to the loft and confront them.

I was hoping the first 2 phases would make the third obsolete. For several weeks I left little pellets of green death scattered around the shed and threw rocks against the walls of the loft. My neighbors began to get nervous and stopped making direct eye contact with me. “Raccoons…gotta get rid of the raccoons,” I ranted incoherently to them.

Finally phase #3 had to implemented- it couldn’t be put off any longer. As you climb the stairs to the loft your head is exposed first. Presumably the raccoons were well aware of this Achilles’ heel, what they hadn’t anticipated was that I was not above putting a colander on my head, swimming goggles to protect my eyes and wielding a broom handle.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Raccoon War
Part 2
The shed behind my house was built in 1895. It is a large building with a loft that has been used for storage and a workroom for over 100 years. With time the wood has begun to rot and the roof sag. Raccoons have made their home in the loft for, what I imagine to be, many years. Generation after generation has lived in the loft. The first raccoon off the boat from the motherland probably set up a little raccoon shop here and spoke in a delightful little brogue. “Top of the mornin’ to ya gov’nor,” he might say- just before he sticks you with a sharpened spoon.

It has been my policy, based on fear, to ignore the inhabitants of my shed. But after a few years of this uneasy detente I decided to attack. I would take back the shed.

I consulted with Bones who offered to come over and “shoot the motherfuckers dead.” I declined doubting, foolishly, that Bones even had a gun. I found out a few years later that Bones did, in fact, have a gun. The old men at the coffee bar made fun of my attack plans, but these were couch quarterbacks. They didn’t know what it was like to be in the shit. Of course they had all been to Vietnam but that didn’t count. Besides I didn’t need advice on how to lose. (I kept that little gem to myself)

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Raccoon War
Part 1
I have always considered myself very tolerant of animals. I don’t necessarily enjoy their company or their long drawn out stories but I leave them alone and they generally reciprocate. It’s an unspoken agreement we have which has served us both well for many years.

There is one animal that I simply don’t trust it and that is the raccoon. I’d like to have a better reason for my mistrust of this animal something along the line of ‘A coon once kilt my pappy’ but really I just think they are icky. They have little black monkey hands with the dexterity to open garbage cans, peel a grape or detonate a bomb. Nash, a woman who loves raccoons, made the point that they are highly intelligent creatures. I agree with her but their intelligence is part of the problem. With their prehensile little fingers getting into all manner of mischief coupled with high intelligence keeps me up at night. What would a very smart animal with fingers that actually work and the ability to get into you house do to while you sleep? Rearrange the furniture? Alphabetize the CD collection. Choose a lovely sea foam paint sample for your living room? I think not. Raccoons are sinister little crack heads waiting to sell your DVD collection and, if they could, have you turn tricks for them on the corner. Still think raccoons are cute? Imagine one of them screaming in your face “Where my peanuts at, biatch!” Not so cute anymore. I had ignored the fact that this bad element was living in the loft of my shed.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

We are sitting around the table at the coffee shop. Bobby V is behind the bar. We are always sitting around the table, Bobby V is always behind the bar. We look to the TV when the conversation dies out. Something on the TV will spark another conversation, we will each speak, as experts, on whatever topic the news is on. It could be drugs, Johnny Cash, terrorism, beauty pageants, child molestation, doesn't matter. A conversation will be started.

"Johnny Cash was a pussy, he sang about doing time but he never did any except for some bullshit charge for drugs."
"What the hell kind a woman gonna let her children run around a bar."
"Why the hell she leave her kid with that sick motherfucker?"
"Can you believe that dumb sonofabitch got caught? You know he was bragging, that's how they got him"

The conversation will slowly begin to take on a life of its own- it will start to hum and can be disconnected from life support (the TV). It almost sounds like an old VW bus we had, it would start out slow, build some momentum begin to roar and slowly sputter out and die. When the conversation died we'd all look to the TV searching for a new topic. Taxes, political corruption, spouse abuse, rape something would come along that we could discuss at length and end an uncomfortable silence.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Meanwhile I keep track of the guy with my name that went missing in Florence. There have been 5 more sightings, only 2 seem noteworthy.

One sighting was on the ferry from Glasgow to Ireland where a woman said a guy who looked like him got scared when they announced they would be checking passports. Another sighting took place when three Scottish guys met him in Galway. He asked them directions to a hostel.

It would make sense ot me to go to Western Ireland. If I was looking for myself, I would start by going to where my ancestors originated. Galway is the biggest city near the parish of Kilfree, Gorteen in Western Ireland, where our family name can be traced.

I went on a similar pilgrimage that I imagine he is on. In my early 20's I spent time in Kilfree, Gorteen. I was looking for some kind of connection to past. I believed that a connection to the past would give me a connection to the present- which I sorely lacked. I was convinced that when I got off the plane and my feet touched my ancestral homeland I would suddenly feel complete, the part of me that was missing would magically appear. It didn't. I wasn't worried I knew that when I ran my hands over the ground that my ancestors farmed or held a stone to the cottage an overwhelming feeling of wholeness would sweep over me. It didn't.

I can only assume thats what the missing Misplaced had hoped for. Had he gone to the graveyard next to the abandoned church? Was he as interested in the grave of someone with his name born 1864, died 1888? He probably spent time at that grave and imagined it being his own grave just as I had done. Was he reminded of his own mortality and how quickly he'll be forgotten. Did he become depressed questioning what is the purpose of all of this?

He probably did what I did and stayed in Kilfree Gorteen, soaking up the atmosphere, waiting for any connection until boredom consumed him. He would then leave it for greener pastures, just as his ancestors did.

The loneliness became overwhelming for me when I was there. To always believe that
this is where you belong and to discover that you are only a tourist and that is all you will ever be. I wanted a wife for the first time, in that loneliness. I wanted to force myself into this ancestral homeland.

I wonder if he is as wacked out as I was- probably more so. Did he make his way to a larger city, Dublin maybe, to meet a girl. I didn't go to Dublin, my vacation ran out. I'd spent my time in Western Ireland and then I came home. I touched the ground with my feet when I got to the Midwest and felt nothing.

He didn't go home and still hasn't. He isn't on vacation, he has the time and the balls to discover his place. What will he do when he discovers that his place is to be lost and disconnected? Will he get a job in advertising and drink until he falls asleep every night? Why am I idolizing a 24 year old kid that ran away from home?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Like a lot of other people I have googled myself. It is a form of delusional vanity to assume the world is discussing you. I have also googled all of my friends and anyone else that has had the misfortune to cross my path. Many of my friends have long lists about them, usually work related and quite impressive. My only claim to fame is being quoted in a lawsuit where a Township sued the company I worked for, hardly notable.

I did find someone who shares my name involved in a mystery. A young man moved to Florence to study art. He went out one night to have a few drinks at the local bar and never returned to his apartment. His passport and credit cards were found in the apartment - he just disappeared.

I followed the search for him on internet for several months and I'm reminded of him whenever I google myself. According to Google I still haven't done anything noteworthy, except not disappear. Unfortunately, they don't write stories about people who don't disappear.

Monday, November 27, 2006

My parents have a great tradition that I will, one day, try to duplicate. They invite 3 couples over for dinner. Picking the couple is crucial- it's important to pick people who would not normally mix. Each person is requested to bring something to read- 10 minutes or less.

This party has evolved over the years. While most people will read a short story or a poem many have pushed the envelope to keep it interesting. One women, an actress, read the tax code for 2003 in dramatic voice. Another man read some of the Burma Shave rhyming advertisements from the 1930's.

One elderly couple, Emil and Carolyn, brought a cassette which they played. What the dinner guests listen to for 10 minutes was meowing noises made by their cat. The elderly couple waited in anticipation for someone to 'get it'. No one did.

"Can't you hearit?" Emil asked shocked that no one understood.
"Our cat is able to speak. Listen closely, those are words she is pronouncing"

The tape was rewound and again played but to no avail. While it was true the cat chattered for an unusually long time the guests could not distinguish actual words much to the dismay of Emil and Carolyn. After several tries Emil realized the problem. Their cat spoke French and the other guests couldn't speak the language.

So, there you have it.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving went without a hitch. The food was excellent, the fire roared, the cat stayed upstairs and a quiet truce was called between warring parties for the night.

A few things that I have learned.
1. Cooking a turkey is easy. Your mother didn't want you to help because she didn't want you to know how easy it was.
2. Timing the side dishes is hard but not impossible.
3. Spending a day in the kitchen sounds horrible but in fact is quite nice.
4. Compliments on the meal are much appreciated.

I'm at work, it's 10:15 am friday morning. No one, including the boss, has shown up yet. I'm beginning to wonder if we have the day after Thanksgiving off.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

I used to think this was a nonsense holiday. A day of eating too much food and being thankful didn't make much sense to me. The goal now, of course, is to remain thankful everyday, without being a pig.

This year we are preparing the Thanksgiving meal for the first time. Six people will be our guests. These six people may or may not be talking to each other which will make it especially challenging.

I wrote yesterday about change and the fact that traditions, such as dinner at my childhood home were no longer possible. I'm all for mourning this loss, but it is now time to start a new tradition.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I have never been a big fan of change. I like some foundations to remain unshakable.

I grew up in the house I was born in. Six kids spent the 60's, 70's 80's in this house. In the 80's and 90's those six kids became 6 adults with 12 children We would gather, from around the county to reconnect in that house over holidays. No matter how bad things got, I could sit at the kitchen table of my youth and for a moment it would be ok.

As my parents got older the house became too large. The stairs to the 2nd and 3rd floors became more and more difficult for my parents to climb. The gardens, once a joy and a place for meditation, became a chore that was hired out.

They sold the house and rented an apartment downtown. When a light bulb burns out my dad calls down to the front desk and they send someone up to change it- he loves this. They are content and are thankful for the move and the simplified life. I know the move was the right thing to do but I will miss the house this holiday season, in the same way that I would miss a family member.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Mandy Lee told me a story from her youth as we drove around town. She was showing me all the places she had been in rehab, foster care and jail. We stood outside the jailhouse as she counted windows to find her cell. I called it the 'Mandy Lock Down Tour of '98'. I was going to have t-shirts made up but I must have lost interest. It's surprising to me the number of people who have been to jail and didn't find it all that bad. When I asked one crusty old woman why she didn't mind jail she said, "what's not to like it's three hots and a cot." Seems like there would be easier ways to get three hot meals in a day but I digress.

Mandy Lee was telling me about the time her mom brought her to the symphony, I believe it was the 1812 Overture. Her mom got the tickets as some sort of 'bringing culture to welfare cheats' program or some such thing. Mandy Lee was young and that particular day she was hungry. Being a child at the symphony, even one with cannon fire, is bad enough but add to the mix hunger and you've got a wicked combination.

Mandy Lee kept asking her mom for a snack, but her mom was having none of it. As she got hungrier, she complained more and as the symphony got louder she complained louder. Finally, in an effort to be heard over the music she screamed,


Of course the music ended right before she began to scream and everyone turned and stared at her mother.

I haven't seen Many Lee for many years, maybe the aliens have taken her home. I hope she packed a lunch for the trip.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I met Amanda several years ago. Although, now that I think about it her birth name was probably not Amanda as she was named after a soap opera character named Mandy Lee. So I guess she is a Mandy Lee. Neither here nor there (or is it) She swore to me that she saw a UFO.

She and her boyfriend lived in a rural area (it may have been a trailer, but that would be too perfect) One evening in summer Mandy Lee heard her boyfriend give a scream and she ran outside to see what had happened. There, as plain as day, was an Unidentified Flying Object hovering directly overhead. Her boyfriend ran back into the house but Mandy Lee did not. She stood there. She was not scared, excited, nervous, or mystified. It made perfect sense to her. The UFO was coming to take her home, of this she had no doubt.

She laughs about it but she also seems sad when she tells the story. The UFO did not take her home. It flew off as quickly and silenty as it appeared. Mandy Lee had to come to terms with the fact that she was home already and that her feelings of being misplaced were something else- also unidentified.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sports, I don't care for them. Playing sports makes sense although I don't do that either. Watching them for hours at a time is beyond my understanding. I don't particularly care if others choose to live that way- it's just not something I have an interest in. I wont judge someone who watches sports and I expect the same consideration for not watching them.

I also don't like when people try to engage me in conversation while I'm in the locker room getting dressed. If you are naked or I am naked leave me the hell alone. I'm not interested in your take on current affairs while your penis is in view. I don't think it's prudish or modest- put some pants on.

These are two things I'm not wild about- combine them and I get annoyed.

I'm finishing up in the locker room after working out. A pale, naked guy approaches me, he puts his hands on his hips and says,

"The Steelers are really kicking the Bengals ass. "

Usually I'll say something that could be taken as an agreement but doesn't lock me into a long conversation, 'yea it sucks' or something as non committal. But this pale naked guy with his 70's haircut was annoying.

"I don't know I'm not that interested in sports and I didn't see it today"

His eyes got wide and he could hardly contain his glee

"Today!!" he said, "the don't play on Saturday, you really are clueless!"

Pale naked guy with hands on hips and scary 70's hair is calling me cluelss in a locker room.

"Yea I guess, I just think its a waste of time to sit in front of the TV for hours on end watching other people play a sport.- Read a book or something"

Naked guy begins to defend television, curiously he does not take offense at the 'read a book comment'.

"It depends on what you watch CNN, History Channel those are good stations."

Why am I in a conversation with naked guy?

"Yea maybe but its been my experience that people who justify how much TV they watch always say they watch Discover or The History Channel or some other educational programming. Notice how no one ever cops to watching re-runs of Three's Company?"

I said this as I walked away and didn't hear his response. I occurs to me that I might need to chill out a bit.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I bailed Aaron out of jail after he robbed a convenient store. He reached over the counter and took a handful of twenties and ran. He called me and we met at Highland Coffee House. The problem wasn't that he was remorseful; the problem was they had already identified him it was only a matter of time before they picked him up. I told him that I didn't know shit about this stuff but that he should get a lawyer. I also suggested that since they know it was him and he was going to get caught anyway he might as well turn himself in. I figure they would go easier on him if he pretended to be have second thoughts about his actions and marched over to the police station. He took my advice and called me back at 1:00 AM asking me if I could bail him out of jail, which I did. I thought it was sad, he’s in jail and the only one he could call was a guy who he barely knew. I was explaining this to Bones the next day when Bones enlightened me on how the process works.

“He called you because he done fucked over everyone else. Family, friends you name it he used ‘em up. Who else is gonna bail him out except some sucker that don’t know him”

“Well it was only $100” I said, trying not to show that I began to see that I was screwed.

Bones smiled sadly at my ignorance, “It’s $100, that’s 10% of what you’ll owe if he don’t show to trial”I tried my best to look as though I was well aware that I might be out $1,000.

“...and if you don’t pay it they can take your house”

This was unsettling and I suspected Bones was lying about the property but I wouldn’t let on.
“Bones, sometimes a guy has just got to have faith in someone else, it will all work out the way it’s supposed to”
Bones wasn’t buying into my new found spirituality for a minute. He just shook his head. Even as I was speaking I was scavenging for the bail paper I signed. I needed a little light shed on this cocksucker who was about to fuck me out of $1,000.

Aaron did show up for his court date and got a little slap on the wrist. Since he just reached over the counter and grabbed some $20’s without violence or a gun and the fact that he turned himself in they let him off.

Aaron had to laugh, the guy that he shared a cell with while I was bailing him out spent more time in jail for an unpaid parking ticket than Aaron did for robbery.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Aaron came in to the coffee shop and made a point of marching directly over to Bones. He looked him right in the eyes, stuck his hand out and said, “Hi Bones” Bones raised his head, grunted and reluctantly shook Aaron’s hand.

Bones and Aaron do not care for each other. Aaron is probably a smoother character than Bones when Bones was his age. But Aaron is probably every bit as tough. The one difference I see is that I suspect Bones didn’t bother too much with the ladies where as Aaron will bang anything that moves. You’d be surprised by some of the woman he has gotten. He has no prospects, his history with women is sketchy at best but he is a good looking guy, about 23 with a smile that reminds me a Ray Liola. He is from the street, but probably not successful street. He's the one who is up for anything but will always be caught. He has the gall, but not the guile. There is a constant smell of BO to him. He is unemployed, has a child that he doesn’t support, an ex-wife or girlfriend that has a restraining order against him and a terrible temper. He has short dark blonde hair, wears T-shirts with the sleeves torn off.

I organized a canoe trip with a few of the people at the coffee shop. It didn’t occur to me that he’d be interested ot that he'd have the money. He came into the shop and headed directly toward me. He wanted to discuss why he hadn’t been invited. I tried over and over to explain that I didn’t invite anyone. I was going canoeing, anyone interested meet me there. He finally settled down, and said

“You know, it just hurt my feelings is all”

It was an unsettling thing to hear. I've always suspected that young street thugs had feelings, It just never occurred to me that they would admit it

Friday, November 10, 2006

It will always be difficult to discuss the bible with someone who truly believes the bible was written by God. They will, inevitably prove their point by quoting the bible. But can you use the bible to prove the bible? Probably not, that's when "faith" is brought up and the conversation is basically over.

We were discussing the war and someone quoted Jesus. I personally am inspired by what Jesus said as well as other spiritual revolutionaries. Unfortunately this guy quoted Jesus and expected the argument to be over. It was quiet as everyone considered the latest development in what had been a very spirited conversation. Bones looked the guy, waved him off and said "Jesus was just a hippy on a stick".

There was another awkward silence and then the conversation resumed.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

In the park I’m watching 6 older men hunched over a picnic table. They are contemplating moving that table. It’s more complicated than it would appear. There is a fair amount of coordination and working well with others. You can’t have one guy hold the table over his head and the other one dragging his end on the ground. Speed needs to be monitored and readjusted every so often. Carrying a table up a flight of stairs is rocket science. The only difference is that rocket scientists don’t ask each other repeatedly ‘you all right?'

The older men stand around the table, their large belly pushing against the sides of the table. They lift the table and immediately set it down. That was a practice run. They are ever mindful of their aching lower backs. They straighten up, confer, regroup and laugh at something one of them said.

“Hold up a second,” shouts a lady wearing a maroon apron as she runs towards them. She has been working the grill and shouting out orders in a fast paced but good-natured way. She is full of the joy that comes with being very busy with thing you know how to do well like cooking and bossing others at a picnic. She kids the men and seems to chastise them. The men look at the ground or the table sheepishly. They are more than willing to play the part of naughty boys caught doing something they shouldn't. A couple of the older men play the part of the grumpy curmudgeon but you know it is all an act. They aren’t curmudgeons, curmudgeons don’t go to picnics. Curmudgeons stay home and curmudge; there isn’t time for much else. They smirk out of the sides of their mouths with each wiseass remark. The discussion is over. Five men get on one side of the table and push while the 6th gets on the other side and pulls. The 6th probably realizes that he is not really moving the table at all but there is no more room on the other side and no one likes to feel left out at a picnic, including or perhaps especially curmudgeonly older men.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

This is our cat Ponette. She will always be our little kitten, snuggling and bunting against our legs but don't be fooled -she is, in the words of our vet, "a tri-colored bitch." She will lure you in with purrs and soft meows and then she will bite your nose. Just ask my sisters-in-law or our neighbors.

God looked at her funny once and she bitch slapped him...true story.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

There is something comforting in the first fire of the season. I love the whole ritual of gathering the wood and getting the fireplace ready. It becomes fall. Cool, crisp. The sound and smell of dead leaves, hot soup, down comforters, flannel sheets and shirts. Sitting in front of the fire in this season feels like being in the comfort of your bed, under the covers, on a raining day.

Grabbing an armload of firewood, I feel like Charles Ingalls of Little House fame (although he actually had to cut the wood and I just pay to have someone bring it over and stack it...ok its not like Little House at all.) Indian food is the perfect compliment as the first meal in front of the fire. The house fills up with the smell of cedar- it's absolutely lovely.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I have been keeping a journal for many years but I’ve never kept one continuously. There will be a few months in 7th grade or all of 1998 but nothing for 1992. The college years are represented in spurts reminding me that I was miserable.

It’s strange to look at the years of half begun notebooks and Moleskins. An entire Moleskin will be blank save for 5 pages- it stops as quickly and mysteriously as it began. What do you do with all of these loose journals? I thought about consolidating them all on the computer but that seems like being a little to focused on the past.

Rereading these journals is fun and sometimes a bit unsettling. Creativity will flow in one set and depression is obvious in others. Should these be saved? If so, why? I will not become a celebrity in which these journals will become a fascinating look inside the man. The only people that will have interest in them are my family. Should they have an unedited look inside my head? The thought of having my great grand fathers journal would be interesting but I don't want to know everything about him.

Does keeping a journal mean we have automatically signed away our privacy after death? If these journals are around after us the answer is yes.

I remember years ago, I was living in Chicago. One drunken evening I was looking through my junior high and high school journals and thought, “I need to get rid of this shit” and I did. I burned them all. It is not something I would have done sober but ultimately I think it was the best decision. Since I no longer drink the editing of any journals will be more difficult.

If I were to die tomorrow I would want all my journals, diaries, short stories, poems and any other written evidence of the inside of my head burned. Unless I do this myself there is no guarantee this would happen. The problem is that it's difficualt to destroy memories even if some of these memories are disturbing.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Buttcrack is the new cleavage. This photo is from Rome. Note the Muffin Tops (fat spilling over the waist of the pants).

There was a time when only plumbers would show their butt crack and their Dunlop's Disease ("his belly done lop over he's belt"). Now it is all the rage with the teenage girls. Who knows what will influence fashion?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Mama, Mama, the DDT truck is here! The DDT truck is here!

My brother swears it is true, but I have no recollection of this. Whenever we had a mild winter here in the Midwest we could always expect heavy insect action in the spring and summer. In an effort to combat the mosquitoes, our town would send trucks out that would spray DDT on each block. My siblings and I loved DDT day. We would put on our bathing suits and chase behind the truck, playing in the DDT spray.

That might explain some of my later decisions in life, as well as that annoying tick.

Monday, October 30, 2006

I’m looking at the burning candle, actually I’m looking at the picture of the Indian woman behind the candle. There are 10 of us, seated in chairs, backs straight, hands open on our laps with palms up ‘as if receiving a gift’ there is a photograph of an Indian woman who is the spiritual leader of this group. she is smiling. The speaker, a very kind and soft spoken man, is walking us through the meditative process gently.

“The Kundalini will rise from the sacrum bone…which is really the sacred bone. He tells us soothingly, "It runs through the body... through the 6 chakras and flows out the top of the head through the 7th chakra.”

Everyone listens intently. Feeling the tingling at the top of the head where the 7th chakra is supposedly located. I feel it for a moment but I’m distracted. Every time he says 'Kunilina' it sounds remotely like a certain sex act. That’s all it takes to clog my chakra right up. To take my mind off of it I stare at the black and white picture of the Majashi who is the leader of this cult, I mean spiritual group. I can't help but focus on the big dot on her forehead. It seems too big- almost like a really big nipple. It shouldn’t matter but it does. I'm hearing 'Kundalini' and I’m looking at an 80 year old Indian woman with an over-sized nipple on her forehead. Part of me wants to reach the next plateau of spirituality and the other part wants to projectile vomit.

Meditation is hard.

Friday, October 27, 2006

One of the many nice things about getting older is becoming aware of life's little lessons. I am less likely to fly off the handle when I do something wrong. Time has taught me that a similar situation will arise and I can use that past mistake to decide the correct action to take. I have also been known to make the same mistake over and over again expecting different results. Einstein referred to this process as 'insanity'.

A high school friend is getting married. I have, of course, waited until the day before the wedding to get the present. I found out where they are registered, went on-line and prepared to buy. Low and behold, all the cheap shit is gone! Note to self: Buy present early, there are only so many spatulas on the list.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

He commented that he liked my Ramones t-shirt and wanted to know where I got it. "Urban Outfitters," I said "but they're so common now you probably don't want one."

I felt the need to make some kind of comment about his. His t-shirt was retro and read 'Lets Get Physical' It showed a silhouette of a women, sitting with her leg extended as though stretching. She wore leg warmers and had a short 80's haircut.

"Olivia Newton John" I asked? Pointing to his shirt. The 80's were hazy for me but I thought she had done a song by that name.

"No" he said excitedly "but I used to love her."

He cocked his head to one side.

"When I was a kid I thought she was a cheerleader for the Bengals Football Team. I think my dad told me that. When we lived in Texas my dad got me to watch an entire football game between Cincinnati and Texas by telling me that we could see Olivia Newton John on the side lines cheering with the other cheerleaders. Each time I got up to use the bathroom or get something to drink my dad would yell out. "She's on!!!" and I would run back into the TV room but I would just miss her"

He laughed as he told the story.

It seemed sad more than funny, but I laughed too out of obligation. It might have been funny if Eric wasn't so feminine and obviously gay. Wasn't his father making fun of him because of this? His father probably and correctly suspected his son's sexual orientation. I wonder if he thought that by tricking his son into watching a football game it would make him less 'girlie'. It seems to me that if you have to trick your son into watching football with the reward of seeing Olivia Newton John, chances are you are too late. Other than questioning why those men get to slap each others asses, I doubt many more questions are raised. I have a mental picture of a young Eric scanning the field for Olivia and keeping his mind off the fact that he has to go to the bathroom.

I wonder if his dad ever tells that story to his friends in an attempt to show that he did everything he could for the boy but he turned out queer anyway. Maybe not. Maybe his dad just wanted to watch the game with his son. Maybe he doesn't care if his son would rather watch Olivia and football. Maybe the only one trying to find some silly meaning in this story is me and in this story I don't matter.

I did have to agree with Eric, Olivia looked hot after she got all tramped out in Grease. I didn't see Xanadu so I have no opinion on that. Actually the more I think about it, watching a football game because you might see Olivia Newton John in a cheerleading outfit seems like a pretty good idea.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I went to the gym during lunch today and heard the following exchange.

Scene: Gym Locker Room
Old guy 1 -In the locker room. His name is apparently Jim.
Old guy 2 -Entering the locker room after his Silver Sneakers Senior Workout

Silver Sneakers: "Jimmy, Jimmy gimme a penny"
Old Man Jim: "What?....Huh?"
Silver Sneaker: "Jimmy Jimmy gimme a penny"
Old man Jim: "...What?"
Silver Sneaker "Jimmy , Jimmy gimme a penny"
Old Man Jim: "...oh... yea... ok." (Forces a small laugh) "I can probably do that"
Silver Sneakers: "What?"
Old Man Jim: "A penny, I can probably do that."
Silver Sneakers "What?...Huh?"

This is why schoolyard rhymes need to stay in the schoolyard and this particular rhyme needs to stay in the 1930's

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I started this little project 2 weeks ago. As you can see (and when I say you I am referring to my imaginary reader)I'm still trying to find my voice. I don't know how to approach this new blog of mine and so I've simply written whatever seemed right at the time. It's hard to get comfortable writing here even though I know that no one reads these daily musings. That will change with time (the comfort level, not the readership level).

The biggest positive is that this journal has forced me to write something daily. I worry that what I write is crap but I shouldn't. The main purpose is to simply get in the habit of writing something every day. Writing well doesn't enter into the plan just yet. I'm all about setting goals...just not goals that are too high.

One thing I have learned is that I am absolutely terrible at the elementary principles of writing such as punctuation and cohesive sentence structure. I review my beat up copy of Strunk and White's Elements of Style to answer questions I have but I realize that I fall short.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The past few weekends have been spent cleaning up the rental property I have. I normally have to clean and patch after a tenant leaves either because of normal wear and tear or just plain abuse. This time around we cleaned and spruced up the back yard with the thought of selling the place if an offer came through. I get nostalgic when I think about selling it, and I get somewhat offended when the place is mistreated by a tenant. This was the first house I bought. I lived in it as a tenant, saved my penny's and bought it. Granted it was relatively cheap, $50,000 but I was broke and had gone through a bad spell which lasted several years. After the 'dark years' began to clear and I slowly got my life together I bought the house.

After the sale I walked through it, looking at it with fresh eyes. I would stand in a room and think to myself 'I own this'. Even the scraggly, Charlie Brown Christmas tree in the backyard didn't escape my figurative spraying of ownership, "yup, that diseased looking stick in the ground is mine." I was proud to own this house. The bank, of course, could argue who actually owned the house but screw them, the house was mine- I had earned it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

I am a man obsessed. I am obsessed with Paris. I've been to France several times in the last few years and Paris continues to call me. I've told myself that no matter where you go there you are. I tried to convince myself that I can have a Paris state of mind in the Midwest, but to no avail. This is a dangerous time for me. I am tired of the daily grind of work. I want to simplify my life. I'm taking French. I want to devote time to writing and I am obsessed with Paris. I suspect that there might be some irresponsible behavior in my future.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bones was a cantankerous old man, but somehow we became friends. I always enjoyed his company. We would run into eachother at this coffee bar almost every day and would have a chat and a cup of pretty crappy coffee.

I'm not certain how old he was, when I asked he'd say, "older than dirt" but he was probably in his late 70's. His real name was Ray but everyone called him Bones.
"It's not because I'm skinny," he's explain "it's because I used to play dice."
He'd make a one handed gesture of shaking dice, which looked unsettlingly like masturbation. Apparently playing dice was all the rage on Race street back in the day. He came from a different time and place and I found his stories fascinating.

The first time I met Bones was in the coffee bar. I sat down at a table with some friends and began complaining about something, probably a woman. I was going on and on about how I had been done wrong when this angry voice from the table behind me yelled,

"Get off the cross, motherfucker, we need the wood"

That was the start of a beautiful friendship.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The proof was in the logo. they've changed it since then, but back in the day it showed a hillbilly running to an outhouse while another one, for some reason, shot at him. Urine and gunplay, a srange combination to sell your product.

My sister and I were trudging up the street to our house one very hot day in August in the 70's. I would imagine that we were bored out of our minds as we sometimes were toward the end of summer. Stevie was sitting on a stoop to the street, sipping a cold Mountain Dew. We were those abused kids you knew who were never allowed sugary snacks , fast food or sodas. My sister and I stared lustfully at the sweating bottle of green goodness.

"You know how they make Mountain Dew Stevie?" asked my sister.

Stevie didn't like how this was sounding one bit and shook his head.

"Hillbillies pee in a bottle," she explained.

"No way," said Stevie, shaking her off as he took another swig of hillbilly piss but with less enthusiasm.

"It's true," she continued. "You never see us drinking it do you? Shoot if it was just normal soda we'd be drinking it all day long, we got money."

Actually we didn't but that was beside the point.

"Man, that's not right" Stevie's denial started out strong but by 'not' it softened and at 'right' the word lilted up with just a hint of doubt.

"Why do you think they have a picture of that hillbilly on the bottle running to the bathroom?" she continued.

Boom. You couldn't argue with that fact. Stevie had viwed the scene on the bottle a thousand times but he never thought about it. Why would there would be a picture of one Hillbilly shooting at another Hillbilly as he ran to an outhouse? Under the drawing were the words

"special blend of mountain waters
and flavored in the traditional hillbilly style"

"What do you think 'flavored in the traditional hillbilly style means'?" She looked at him with pity, like he was the sorriest kid on the block.

For Stevie it all began to click, Mountain... Dew.... He'd never heard of piss being called dew, but it sounded on awful lot like pees brown brother, poo.

"Man, you guys suck"

He set the bottle down with disgust, not because he had been drinking a bottle of Hillbilly piss but because he now knew it was Hillbilly piss. Stevie went home to ask his mom about it.

My sister swooped up the bottle and took a long swig.

"Sucker" she said.

She handed the bottle to me and I took a little taste. She had made a pretty good argument for it being pee and it no longer had the allure it once did. There was, after all, a picture of a hillbilly running to an outhouse on the bottle.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

I had my car washed today. Deluxe service, leather scent, very nice. It's one of those automated car washes with the veiwing area. You can watch the car as it goes through each of the washing phases, very cool.

I'm amazed at how many adults simply drop the car off and pass the viewing area and wait for their car at the end of the assembly line. How could you not watch this process?

These people have their priorities out of wack.

Friday, October 13, 2006

We saw David Sedaris last night. It was excellent. The auditorium was packed, it was a crowd that you don't normally associate with a Midwestern city- the NPR crowd.

One of the things that struck me about his writing, other than the humor, is that it appears to be effortless, like he's making it up on the spot. It's as though we are sitting around the kitchen table and he is telling a story about something that happened to him that day. Perhaps that's an element of a good writer, they fool you into thinking you could have told the story as well as they.

Maybe it is that effortless for him, but I doubt it. He mentioned that he doesn't like to read things that he's written in the past because they appear "clunky". His storytelling is a craft which he has developed.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

We were sitting on a bench at the Piazza Della Repubblica in Florence earlier this year. It was a beautiful spring day and we were watching the carousel and listening to its distinctive music. Music, which, in any other setting would be annoying but, which is perfect for the bejeweled carousels. The children were laughing and calling out to their parents, waving each time their horse or carriage completed a revolution as though they were seeing them for the first time.

The carousel is also, apparently, an excellent place to kick your elfin feet up and rest. Every time this lady came around I would sneak a picture, much to the delight of the Italian couple sitting on the bench next to ours. The thought of this lady racing up the platform and beating the little children to this chariot still makes me smile.

Every once in awhile we are given little moments of serendipity.