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.